my company’s hiring managers are obsessed with thank-you notes, is a “hard stop” rude, and more

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

1. Hiring managers at my company are obsessed with thank-you notes

Last year I got a new job as an HR manager for a small company. The previous HR manager retired, and while I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to update processes and bring a new perspective to people’s ideas about interviewing/hiring candidates among other things.

Hiring managers here are strangely obsessed with thank-you notes. A few times I’ve had people ask which candidates sent them versus which didn’t. I’ve gently explained that we can’t put too much importance on them because of people’s varying experience with job search education.

Is it okay, when I’m scheduling interviews, to just encourage the candidate to send a thank-you note? I’m not usually in the business of priming candidates in this way, and I’m sure a good candidate would still make it through to the next round without one. However, I don’t want anyone to be docked for this silly thing. I also don’t want to come across as infantilizing to the people who would send one automatically.

You could say something like, “I know opinions differ on this but our hiring managers value it when candidates send thank-you notes after interviews, and I like to share that with all our candidates so no one is at a disadvantage.”

Ideally, though, you’d tackle this by educating your hiring managers on some of the broader cultural baggage around the practice. You mentioned you’re trying to do it gently — can you get a bit less gentle and press it more? It can be a real equity issue (with the exception of the handful of jobs where it truly does reflect a relevant job skill, such as fundraisers).

To be clear, I still encourage candidates to send thank-you notes — good, personalized, non-generic ones — because it can affect your chances (not always, but you generally won’t know from the outside when it will and when it won’t, and given all the ways people try to boost their chances, it makes no sense not to do this relatively quick one). But on the hiring side, managers need to ease off on it.

2. Is it rude to say you have a “hard stop”?

Simple one for you. I was coordinating a business meeting outside of work that involved my girlfriend and a third party. Sort of like a contract gig arrangement, where my girlfriend and I would be providing a service for the third party in exchange for payment. It’s important to note that this isn’t something we do on a regular basis, and they approached us. We were trying to get a meeting time via email, and everyone’s calendars were tight. The third party proposed a time, and after consultation with my girlfriend, I accepted and noted that we’d have a hard stop at the proposed end of the meeting.

My girlfriend indicated she felt that the term “hard stop” isn’t respectful, and that she gets annoyed when people use it with her professionally. She prefers a softer approach, like “I do have a meeting right after, so I won’t be able to stay late.” But “hard stop” what my supervisors, direct reports, vendors, and partners use at work, and I feel it’s perfectly acceptable as a phrase to denote that, for whatever reason, I am unavailable past the time specified. She also suggested that it made it seem like we weren’t accommodating, but I feel it’s important to set the expectation so that the third party knows we have, well, a hard stop.

What do you think? Is “hard stop” a normal and professional phrase?

“Hard stop” is normal and fine! There’s nothing disrespectful about it; it’s an easy, widely used way to communicate scheduling constraints, which helps the people you’re meeting with use the meeting time more effectively, which is actually quite respectful. And it’s not unaccommodating to be clear about your availability; it’s normal to have a schedule you need to keep to, and it’s far more helpful to let the person you’re meeting with know about it so they can plan accordingly. “Hard stop” also implies a very firm ending time — you will need to wrap up at 2:30 on the dot, not 2:35 — whereas your girlfriend’s wording sounds like there could be a little wiggle room.

But everyone is entitled to have their own language pet peeves. Mine is “gentle reminder.”

3. A coworker passed over for a promotion is poisoning the well for the candidates we chose

I recently sat on a hiring panel for two open positions in our department. We interviewed several internal and external applicants, ultimately promoting a promising junior candidate, Jane, and hiring an outside candidate, Olivia to fill the two vacancies. It was revealed that Olivia had worked with the hiring manager about a decade ago; however, everything was above board and we were unanimous in our ranking of the candidates. Amongst those not selected was an internal candidate, Irene, whose work is generally strong but was held back by our concerns about her professionalism and judgment.

Over the last two weeks, Junior Jane and Outside Olivia have both begun onboarding to their new roles. Junior Jane confided in me privately that Irene has separately cornered both her and Olivia to warn them about the “toxic” culture in our department and to tell them they were only hired over her because of politics and favoritism. Jane is nervous to go to our manager because she doesn’t want to be seen as causing trouble and she is afraid of retaliation from Irene.

I can only imagine how demoralizing this must have been to hear and I’m concerned that this interaction would feel like a big red flag to our new hire, Olivia. And, it is all absolutely untrue! The hiring was fair and the culture problems perceived by Irene tend to be of her own creation. Not surprisingly, Irene is the office gossip, a pot-stirrer, and full of conspiracy theories about people scheming against her.

I’ll admit, I am very mad that Inside Irene has spun these lies and I want to protect our new hires! I can’t decide if this is squarely “not my circus, not my monkeys” or if I should speak up. I am senior to Jane, Olivia, and Irene and I have standing with our shared manager. Our manager is fully remote, and I suspect fully unaware of this.

Definitely speak up! You have standing to talk to the manager — as someone involved in the hiring process and as a staff member senior to those being affected and as a member of the team general. Your manager needs to know what Jane and Olivia are hearing so she can manage the situation. Make sure she also knows Jane is worried about Irene retaliating against her in some way, so she can guard against that as well.

4. I’m being ghosted by my old mentor

I worked for three years at a startup where I had a mentor who I got along great with. He and I worked on multiple projects together, and he taught me quite a bit. The company had some management issues and eventually couldn’t hold together, so it went under. I won’t say it ended amicably between the company and employees, but my mentor and I didn’t have any problems, just said our best wishes to each other and went off to find new jobs.

Since the last time I saw him in person, he has refused to answer any communications whatsoever from me. He’s not contactable for a reference, even. I didn’t annoy him, just sent him a few messages over a couple of months asking how things were going, that kind of thing. I tried a couple of texts, then I moved to LinkedIn, but honestly I have no idea what happened. I feel pretty let down here — he was the first tech lead to bother teaching me anything, and I thought we got on great. Is there some kind of trend that after you move companies, you never talk to coworkers again? Should I assume I offended him greatly in some way? Is this something I should’ve seen coming?

Assume it’s about him, not you! Some people just aren’t big on keeping in touch with coworkers once they move on. Or he might have bad memories of the company and is making a clean break. Or there could be something completely unrelated going on with him — an illness, a family crisis, a new love interest, who knows. I would assume it’s not personal, appreciate him for the role he played in your work life for a while, and let it rest there.

{ 889 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Lots of people are sharing their own language pet peeves, which is fine — it’s a Friday. But please put them as a reply here so they don’t take over the thread and people can easily collapse it if they want to get to discussion of the letters.

    1. CatCat*

      But everyone is entitled to have their own language pet peeves. Mine is “gentle reminder.”

      Mine is “circle back.”

      1. Double A*

        Mine is “brainchild.” I’m not even sure why. It just…ugh. Brainchild. The more I think about it the more annoyed I am by it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I don’t hear that one a lot in my line of work but yeah I can see that grating on me

      2. Lurker*

        Mine is “growing.” As in “grow our family” or “grow the economy.” And also “unpack” — gives me grad school flashbacks.

        1. Aunty Fox*

          I hate ‘unpack’ too, I had a lecturer who would ‘unpack the issue’ multiple times per lecture and he said issue weird, it drove me nuts.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            Was it that exaggerated “issss-you” pronunciation? I know some accents naturally say it similarly but I knew someone who deliberately said it that way and lengthened it because he thought it was “classy” or something, and it grated on my nerves SO MUCH.

            1. The OG Sleepless*

              There was a radio commentator who used to say “issue” like that in an exaggerated way; I guess it was a joke I had missed. I heard other people say it around that time; I don’t know if it entered the cultural zeitgeist or what.

            2. tessa*

              Lol at “iss-you.” Another one for me is “shed-yul” for schedule. Nopety nope nope!

          2. ThatGirl*

            It reminds me of a John Mulaney routine, “We don’t have time to unpack all that!” — more kind of therapy-speak than business speak.

          3. PhyllisB*

            I don’t really mind “unpack”, but it does remind me of Dave Ramsey telling some of his callers they need to “unpack” this with a marriage counselor.

        2. OtterB*

          I like unpack, but more as an informal short-form request (“Can you unpack that for me?” seems to me to be less demanding than “Would you please explain your reasoning?” or “How did you come to that conclusion?” or “I’m sure you have a train of thought here but I’m not seeing it.”) But I probably wouldn’t say that I was going to unpack something, and I definitely wouldn’t say repeatedly that I was going to unpack something.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I think I’m inline with you on that. As an immediate, actionable verb. Like “there’s a lot to unpack there” or “let’s unpack that idea” but just like…once, to frame, and then never again.

        3. Justice*

          Ugh, grow as a transitive verb! I HATE it.
          I’ve been complaining about it for years, and I think the battle is lost. But it always sets my teeth on edge.

          1. Crooked Bird*

            Huh, that’s really funny. Because I went “yeah!” and then “wait, but grow really is a transitive verb…”

            But then, I work on a farm.

            (If you COULD grow a business from seed, it might be worthwhile talking about growing one…)

      3. Hanani*

        Mine is “thanks in advance”. I didn’t agree to anything yet! I know most people use it as a set phrase, but it feels pushy to me.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I agree on this one. It feels like “of *course* you’ll do this huge favor for me.”

        2. Storm in a teacup*

          I use this when I know I’ve asked someone to do something that they have to do as it’s their role but I know it’s a pain. I feel it’s acknowledging their extra work and is only polite

          1. quill*

            I’m very guilty of using it when I know someone else is busy but I also need them to do something.

        3. XF1013*

          I usually say “thanks” when making a request to avoid a separate message afterwards just to say it. Does anybody like getting that “thanks” email?

          1. Anonym*

            Thanks seems pretty normal to me! Feels like an acknowledgement of the request. Thanks in advance is best used as Storm in a teacup describes – sparingly and for PITA requests (in my opinion).

        4. anonymous73*

          I only use it with “for any help you can provide”. So it doesn’t assume they’re going to help me, but I’m thanking them in advance if they can.

        5. Lab Boss*

          If it’s a thing I know they have to do, I thank them in advance because I know it’s getting done. If I’m not sure they will/can do what I’m asking, I usually use phrasing like “Thanks for whatever help you can give on this,” leaving it clear that I know they aren’t obligated to do everything I’m asking, but that I’ll be grateful for what I get (and dodging clogging people’s inbox with useless “thank you” e-mails after the job is done).

        6. Certaintroublemaker*

          “Please and thank you” hits me that way even more so. Saying “please” and sign off with “thank you” seems fine to me, but on the same line it grates.

      4. Anonanon*

        Mine is “nudge,” as in “Wakeen’s edits for the annual report is overdue. Jane, can you give him a gentle nudge to get it done soon?”

        1. hamsterpants*

          This and “gentle” reminder! They both arise from the belief that it’s somehow rude to perform administrative tasks and that if someone forgets to do something, the person who remembers it still needs to be done is the rude one. (Is this the workplace manifestation of how reminding about household chores is pejoratively called “nagging”???)

          1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            We tend to use nudge when there has been no set deadline, but enough time has passed that we’re starting to wonder about the TPS report.

          2. Orange You Glad*

            I just had to use “gentle reminder” for the first time and hated it. I send out reminders for an all-volunteer group I’m part of and I was told I needed to soften the message like the person who used to have my position. I just copy/paste-ed her old language which was always full of gentle reminders.

          3. traffic_spiral*

            So would you prefer “gentle reminder” or “Don’t forget, there are 24 hours (1,440 minutes) in a day and it only takes a minute to return a call. That was one of the most important lessons that I was shown in my professional career. We all get caught up in the time pressure compromise thing but that 1/1,440 of our day is a very positive way to strengthen relationships.”

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Is it the nudge or the gentle? I tend to use “just a nudge” in place of “gentle reminder”. But my office also uses “thanks for the nudge” even if it’s just a “hey have you done this?” so that might be a cultural preference I’ve adopted.

              1. LeftEye*

                “Friendly reminder” always makes me think of that era on tumblr where people used that phrase constantly in informative posts as a way to talk down to people. Instant ick.

              2. How About That*

                Yeah, all these reminders are really just telling people they need to get their arses in gear, at least that’s how I interpret it when I get one. If I’m late, I don’t mind, but don’t like them before a deadline has arrived.

              3. Aaaaargh*

                I hate “friendly reminder”. It always has the subtext (to me) “Or else something nasty will happen to you.”

                1. Petty Betty*

                  Pretty much. If I have to keep reminding, it shouldn’t have to be friendly, but alas, corporate requires false positivity on those motherly nagging missives!

            1. traffic_spiral*

              I go with an actual note like “hey, I’m just following up on that __________, I need it for ______.”

            2. iiii*

              Any of those adverbs – instead of *being* friendly, or *being* gentle, you’re *characterizing your own communication as* friendly or gentle, within that communication. It’s kind of like that bit about how good people just are good, can’t imagine being any other way, so they never tell you how good they are. But someone who makes a point of telling you unprompted, “I’m a good person,” you kind of have to wonder about.

              1. Anonanon*

                Yup I agree – I think this is one of the reasons why gentle and friendly is grating for many people. Adding the qualifiers is like an attempt to tell people how they should feel about the message, instead of just letting people know what you need from them and trusting and respecting people can feel however they want to feel about it. It can make people feel undermined and patronized.

          1. Anonanon*

            It’s more the nudge than the gentle. But the combo of both is even worse. It’s probably a cultural preference.

            I prefer “remind,” as in “Wakeen’s edits for the annual report is over due. Jane, can you remind him to send it in?”

            Or if I were addressing Wakeen: “Hi Wakeen, I didn’t receive your edits for the annual report. The deadline was this past Monday. Can you send it in by Friday?” Usually, Wakeen replies with “Oh thanks for the reminder! Sorry for the delay. I’ll send them by Friday.”

          2. BadWolf*

            Sometimes I use something like “Hey, just being the squeaky wheel to get the approval for Thing.” (for people I’m pretty sure will know the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” saying).

          1. TechWorker*

            Yea all my Indian coworkers use it and it seemed odd at first – there’s also a few other Indian English phrases, like ‘can we prepone the meeting’ and ‘I have one doubt’ which means ‘I have one question/concern’. But once you are used to what they mean it’s not a big deal!

            1. Alphabet*

              My Indian coworkers use both of these as well. The “I have one doubt” phrasing really threw me at first but it’s not a problem now.

          2. Pithy Moniker*

            Tbh, the first time someone said it to me, I thought they were bizarrely announcing they were heading to the restroom “thanks, Pithy. I shall do the needful”. When they later asked me to do the needful, I finally understood (although to be honest, for a full second, I thought they were telling me to go to the restroom).

            Now, I just find it charming.

          1. Leenie*

            I do, too! I wouldn’t use it myself because it would be a weird affectation. But the first time I saw this from someone on our India team, I was struck by its efficiency.

            1. Leenie*

              Whatever is referenced in the thread below, or has just been discussed. That’s where I find it efficient. It’s like, “Please see below and handle the request contained within.”

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I don’t think I’ve heard this phrase but if I ever do I will now be dancing in my head hehe

        1. Ina Lummick*

          Ooooh this is mine too (although I see “kindly do the needful” more) from mostly clients based in the middle East.

          Just aggravates me more because I have done “the needful” but I had to wait until colleagues got back to me (if they got back to me).
          (This is a team whose needs arent always considered, or considered ‘lesser ‘ in some parts of my organisation.)

        2. eisa*

          Maybe I’m twelve, but for me this puts into mind “Will you excuse me for a minute, I’m off to do the needful, be right back” ;-)

        3. Michigan mom*

          I used to get “kindly do the needful” from an India based automotive tracking software. It’s my favorite.

          1. Estraven*

            A while back I had a job involving a lot of interaction with doctors from India. Almost every letter they sent us used the closing ‘Kindly do the needful and oblige’. I quite liked it. Also remember them using ‘Isn’t it?’ on the phone to stand in for a multitude of different questions and statements – guess that might be the origin of ‘Innit’?

        4. Princesss Sparklepony*

          For some reason this sounds like someone has to use the bathroom but is trying to come up with a way of saying that without saying that…

      5. jargonhate*

        Mine generally is “new normal” …ugh

        But office-specific is definitely “[reach out and] touch the customer.” NO! No touchy da customer

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          “New normal” is awful, as is “these unprecedented times” – especially when followed by a reference to the 1918 flu epidemic. Isn’t that a clear precedent?

          My area of interest in grad school was the Middle Ages, so I find it especially weird when people act as if severe epidemics are some sort of new 21st century thing.

        2. Red 5*

          I’ve been hating “new normal” for a long time because it’s often used by somewhat well-meaning people talking to others about grief (specifically I heard it a lot after family members died unexpectedly). It became one of those things like “everything happens for a reason” that makes you want to slap somebody.

          So you can imagine how well I’ve been taking the fact that it’s everywhere now.

        1. SongbirdT*

          +1 – Why invent a new word when we have a perfectly good “lessons” sitting right there!

          1. sacados*

            Oh no no what’s worse is when they just go for broke and say it’s a “learning lesson”
            I wish I was kidding.

      6. Seal*

        Mine is vision casting. My last boss picked up that phrase at some point and used it several times a day for months. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was in no way a visionary; he just liked using jargon and taking credit for other people’s work.

        1. eisa*

          There was a politician in my country who famously said “If you have visions, go get yourself checked out by a doctor” ;-)

            1. Rolly*

              Those are close, with a lot of overlap, but unpack adds the sense of unwrapping layers of things that may be hidden or buried. If we’re talking about some things that involve shame or oppression or power relationships (say around diversity or racism), unpack is often more meaningful. If we’re talking about, say, quarterly sales numbers, then yeah, it’s stupid – analyze is better.

        1. Purple Cat*

          I’ve used “unpack” if describing the shit show. “Wow, there’s a lot to unpack here.” But I’ve never heard/used it as a call to action like “Let’s unpack that”. That would drive me bonkers.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            My coworker uses “I want to double-click on that” as an alternative that I think is pretty charming.

          2. Rolly*

            Unpack is used for good reasons around complex social issues such as race or gender or power. It implies something that is complex, with hidden or buried layers. In that content, it’s a great phrase.

      7. Artemesia*

        Gentle reminder makes me ballistic — it is sooo condescending. People doing horrifically awful things to others often use ‘gentle’ as a modifier —

        1. LRL*

          I totally use “gentle reminder” when I’m trying to be condescending. I’m glad it actually lands that way for savvy people!

        2. Lime green Pacer*

          I am guilty of this. Let’s conjugate it: I give gentle reminders, you make pointed reminders, they issue forceful reminders.

        3. Charlotte Lucas*

          I hate “gentle reminder,” too! Especially when it’s the first time I’m hearing about something.

          1. Hanani*

            Ohhhhh yes, “reminders” (gentle or otherwise) when someone is telling me something for the first time. I think some people have picked up on the phrasing as something that sounds less directive – I’m not ordering you to do something, I’m reminding you about it! – but it’s not a bad thing to issue directions when that’s needed.

            1. Esmae*

              I had a manager who used to start any criticism or direction to change something with “you probably already know this.” Clearly I don’t! If I did I’d be doing it the way you want me to!

        4. FisherCat*

          +1 makes me so irritated. one supervisor at my job likes to say it about totally normal things for a manager to follow up on and it makes me not want to do those things (obviously I do! I just hate the phrasing).

        5. ThatGirl*

          I have to admit I totally used to use “gentle reminder” when I was poking writers about style issues they kept missing — I didn’t MEAN for it to be condescending! But I can see how it might come off that way.

        6. BlueDijon*

          I like to use “friendly reminder” instead because totally agree “gentle” sounds patronizing and condescending, and where I’ve worked previously just “reminder” often had a very automated/copy paste message feel, and I also liked to remind people there was a person at the other end of the email (I was a staff member at a university, most of these reminders were going to faculty, as context). Curious to hear about if this phrasing has the same visceral reaction for those outside academia though, now that I’ve escaped!

          1. Meg*

            I’m curious as well. I have to send out reminder emails on a regular basis as part of my job. I have been told that just saying reminder is too harsh because people are busy and the last person used gentle reminder.

            I hate the phrase gentle reminder so was thinking of switching to friendly reminder but if people hate that as well, I’d love to know what they would prefer? What is the most acceptable way to phrase a reminder do it doesn’t sound accusatory or mean?

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              As someone who often had to remind people of things in a previous job, I’ve given up on the idea that there is a way to do it that won’t annoy people. Even people who admit that they have no right to be annoyed by reminders are often annoyed by reminders. Not to mention the many people annoyed by reminders, but who are ALSO annoyed when they miss a deadline and they didn’t get any reminders — damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

              As long as you’re being polite, you’re good. I wouldn’t spend too much energy trying to figure out how to remind people in a way that circumvents human nature.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                And really, any phrasing is going to grate on someone–you can’t please everyone. At some point, we gotta just say. “This is polite enough, not going to angst over it anymore,” and hit Send.

            2. Clisby*

              I might be an outlier, but I’d prefer just “reminder” – assuming you actually are reminding me of something we’d discussed earlier. Gentle reminder and friendly reminder make me feel like the speaker is verbally patting me on the head.

              1. Anonanon*

                I’m team “Just Reminder.” To me, gentle and friendly are equally patronizing. Or I can just say to people what I need from them without using the word “reminder.”

                Dear Colleagues, I am still looking for volunteers to sign-up for the career fair booths. I have 4 people signed up so far and we need 8 more. If you have not signed up yet, please sign up by this Friday 3pm.

                Dear Professor Wobblestone, I’m putting together the final version grant application for project X, and I didn’t see your biosketch in the Dropbox folder. I’m hoping to send the final version to Professor PI for review by 3pm Friday. Do you think you can add it in by 2pm?

                From the point of view as someone who not infrequently receives reminders to do stuff I agreed to do, I wouldn’t be annoyed at all if someone lets me know I didn’t do it – I can totally handle being asked/told to do stuff – but I would be irritated by “gentle” and/or “friendly” reminders.

            3. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

              “Heads up” maybe? “Just a heads up that I need the sales data by Friday to report to our regulatory body so we don’t go to jail!”

            4. Leenie*

              I use something like “just following up on.” I’m sure it upsets someone. But I hope it helps because it’s about my own actions, and not the recipient’s.

      8. Koalafied*

        Mine is “nothingburger.” Like what do burgers have to do with anything?? What does “nothingburger” convey that “nothing” doesn’t, other than the face that you’re a weirdburger personegg who randomly appends food nameapples to other wordpizzas. *dies*

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had never heard of nothingburger so this one is new to me.

          I love how you explained this, it cracked me up, but point well made.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            This is one I don’t use, but it really does get across a sense of disappointment to me. That might be because I’ve I had the experience of ordering a burger at a place people rave about only to have it disappoint me. (Local place gives you bun, one slice of pickle, one overcooked burger patty… I suspect its popularity comes from people who eat there after a drinking event.)

          2. Rolly*

            Nothingburger comes from right-wing media to dismiss something. It’s a nasty phrase often used for political spin.

            1. Just Another Starving Artist*

              Its origins are actually a lot older than that, from 1950s gossip columns to 1970s Cosmo. I’ve heard it fairly often from people who wouldn’t touch rightwing media with a 10-foot pole — usually in the context of “there’s a lot of hullabaloo about this, but it’s not something that we need to concern ourselves with.”

              1. Galloping Gargoyles*

                This was a new term to me so I looked it up. In the article on (words we’re watching), it also referred to nutburger, mushburger (surfer term for disappointing wave), mustard burger (even less than a nothingburger), mouseburger (a plain looking woman). Fascinating!

                1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                  I’d forgotten about mouseburger. That was really awful. And usually said by women about other women. I never used it, it seemed distasteful.

              2. Quiet Liberal*

                Yeah, my grandpa used to say it a lot in the 60’s when I was a kid as in, “that hippie is a nothingburger”. (PS, My uncles, his sons, were classic hippies. He wasn’t referring to them.)

              3. Princesss Sparklepony*

                Yes, first time I saw it was in a Helen Gurley Brown article in Cosmo. And it meant nothing good. She described another woman that way. It was brutal. Most likely in the 70’s.

        2. How About That*

          I like it. Conveys that whatever it is was a non-event when it was expected to be tremendous. Nothing to do with any food item, just implies it’s like eating air.

      9. Coast East*

        “To piggy back off what ______ said” and then it becomes a train of people adding their particular interpretation of what someone said 6 people ago. Just. Blergh.
        (Also someone saying “however, comma” why are you telling me the punctuation of a verbal sentence??)

          1. lanken*

            Do you suppose someone is dictating a reply when “however comma” shows up in an email?

            1. Let me librarian that for you*

              I LOVE “however, comma!” It’s so odd and as a grammar geek/editor it’s intriguing. I’d never heard it until I met my significant other. But we only use it in conversation with each other. I can’t imagine saying it at work.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                I don’t use “however, comma” (though I might start!) but I do sometimes use “question mark” – particularly if I was articulating a thought that somehow became a question halfway through. But I think I do this mainly irl not at work (probably because my social circle also tends towards grammar geeks)

            2. Coast East*

              I’ve actually never seen it in an email, only as a verbal thing! I would assume it was a speech to text software glitch if it was an email, bec

        1. paxfelis*

          My friends and I used to use “however, comma, pause for effect” to mock someone when they were being overly dramatic. That said, I can see how “however, comma” would be annoying.

          Could it be a holdover from someone who’s used to using dictation software?

          1. Coast East*

            That’s an interesting point! However it was something everyone picked up at my job so it became a cultural thing rather than just a holdover from diction software. Maybe one person started it and everyone else followed suit lol

          2. Petty Betty*

            I can 100% see dramatic improv actors pointing out verbal ellipses. “And then! Dot dot dot… the cat ate the mouse, cheese and all!” Or saying “dramatic pause” instead of just having a dramatic pause. To me, it is the perfect way to hit the funny bone during a performance, but not the right tone for an office.

        2. Joielle*

          Yesss, “piggyback” is my language pet peeve too. It happened ALL THE TIME in law school where certain people were desperate to say something – anything – in class, thinking it would impress the professor and make them sound smart. But they didn’t have any original thoughts to contribute, so they would “piggyback” off of someone else’s comment and just say the same thing in slightly different words. Anytime I hear “piggyback” now, it just reminds me of law school gunners.

      10. Cinderella Sparklepants*

        Mine is “organic”. You can say it once per meeting, tops, and then I don’t want to hear it again. We didn’t even need that word until like 2007. Can’t we go back?

        1. Clisby*

          I am (possibly irrationally) irritated by “organic produce” or “organic food.” Food is inherently organic. I mean, I guess you can eat inorganic stuff, but it won’t sustain life.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Agreed, although with exceptions for fields like chemistry, solid waste, or agriculture.

          I just sat through a three hour meeting about organic waste diversion – i.e. stuff that can rot vs stuff that can’t. Naturally the word “organic” was used at least once per minute. While that meeting did utterly melt my brain from sheer stupidity, it wasn’t the poor organics’ fault.

      11. allathian*

        Another one of mine is “Rgds”. As in, if you can’t be bothered to write out “Regards,” just skip the sign off completely.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I had a colleague who always used to sign off her emails with “Thx” and it annoyed me every time she did it. This pre-dated the brand Thinx, but now that abbreviation brings those to mind too…

          1. Mel*

            I had a coworker who signed all emails with “tyc”.

            I never asked what it meant – my boss and I speculated that it was “thank you, Craig” but it was just a guess.

            Drives me bonkers to this day that I’ll never know.

          2. hamsterpants*

            You’d think some folks are still sending messages using their T9 flip-phone keypad!

          1. Foolish Fox*

            I like best because the reader can fill in regards or wishes or aardvarks or whatever signoff they like. I think most people assume its best regards, at least in my industry.

            1. Office Lobster DJ*

              I use best and thanks equally. Sometimes, like when I’m saving someone’s butt, I do think of it as:

              [Yes, I AM the] Best,
              Office Lobster DJ

          2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            Very generational. I always think it’s weird but everyone under 40 uses that signoff.

            1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              Another Gen-X-er and I were discussing sign-offs, and she and I both use “regards,” and she pointed out it works really well because you don’t say what kind of regards. In our heads, we can be thinking Worst Regards, Crone.

              1. GDUB*

                I always sign off with “Thanks” followed by a comma or exclamation mark as appropriate. But when I have to send an email to someone who absolutely never has and never will do anything for me I am stumped.

                1. Leenie*

                  I use “Thanks!” almost exclusively, and sometimes find myself adding a “Please let me know if you have any questions.” or similar. Just so I’m ending it with a request.

              2. Canadian Librarian #72*

                I always use “best” – only “best regards” when I’m being formal, and only “regards” when I want to communicate that I’m not happy with whatever is going on (but also not rude).

              3. Petty Betty*

                I use “thanks”. It’s universal. “Thanks [for wasting my time]”, “thanks [for the help]”, “thanks [for finally doing your job]”…

          3. ThatsEnoughTalking*

            My boss internally calls one of our vendors “Best David” because he signs all of his emails that way. LOL.

          4. Evelyn Carnahan*

            Several former coworkers and I started using “Best” as our passive aggressive sign off. I don’t think that most other people feel that way, but it remains my sign off for those situations where I can’t actually sign off with GFY. In nearly all other situations I close with a “Thanks!”

          5. Canadian Librarian #72*

            Hi Lizard Queen,

            I sign every email this way!

            (It’s a less formal way of saying “best regards”. Now you know.)

            Canadian Librarian 72

        2. londonedit*

          I have a visceral reaction to people who write ‘pls’ in emails – seriously how long does it take to write ‘please’? – mainly because one of the worst people I ever worked with (wife of the owner of the company, wasn’t my boss but thought she could boss everyone around) would constantly email me one-line emails with ‘pls [do thing that is in no way related to my job]’. It was a total power trip anyway and the ‘pls’ just made it ten times worse. Grr.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Oh yeah, my colleague who signed off with “thx” did that too. If you’re going to abbreviate polite expressions that much in the age of automated text, then please just don’t bother, thanks.

            1. Camellia*

              I think these abbreviations comes from the ‘texting’ world, and perhaps also bird-like apps that limit the number of characters in one comment. yk, irl, im jk

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I try not to judge what others are doing. But if someone is going to take the time to do something for me, I can take the time to type out the words pls and ty. It takes tenths of a second to type the words out completely. It just feels lazy to me for me to not write out the words in full.

          But, if people use these abbreviations with me, I tell myself well at least they wanted to put some recognition of effort on my part into their message. Fortunately I do not see too many people doing this.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            It’s not so much the actual abbreviations that bother me so much as the fact that they always seem to come with a general air of “I’m way too busy and important to type out this short word in full for your benefit.” For some reason, I do find “ty” less annoying than “thx”, though.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Oh, wow, I’m the opposite. ‘ty’ would drive me up the wall! Everyone’s different, yah?

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                Yeah, I do agree that they are both annoying. I think “ty” is less grating for me because it’s an abbreviation of two words, as opposed to one word that isn’t very long to start with.

        4. What She Said*

          Any sign off for me in email unless it’s to a professional outside vendor. Internally, it’s annoying to see “Best”, “Respectfully”, etc. Just sign your name and hit send.

      12. Pennyworth*

        I am perpetually irritated by the increasing number of nouns that are used as verbs, annoyingly called ‘verbing’! I think it bugs me because is is a lazy shortcut and the English language can be used so much better.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I take your point, but when Shakespeare did it, it was new and exciting, and he knew how to enhance English rather than make it mundane, which is what is happening now.

            1. Minimus*

              Yeah! How dare those plebs use words in totally normal ways to communicate ordinary, everyday things! Outrageous insolence!

              1. Asenath*

                You mean the way someone picks up, say, “gift” as a verb, perhaps from a region where it’s commonly used, and you initially think “Hm, interesting usage”, but pretty soon you’re wondering if speakers have forgotten that the word “give” exists, and “My friend gifted me this pen” is, as we say here, “getting on your last nerve”, and you’re internally moaning “Can’t we stick to plain English?”

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  This one makes me twitch because it’s already commonly adjectiv-ified in a different direction: “gifted students” meaning the ones who excel in the field/activity under discussion.

                2. Bliddy*

                  I don’t have a problem with verbing nouns in general, but “gift” as a verb annoys me to no end. Why say “My mom gifted me a necklace” when “My mom gave me a necklace” works just fine?

                3. Miss Betty*

                  Yes! I hate this! “My aunt gifted me this pretty necklace.” No she didn’t. She gave it to you.

                4. Anonym*

                  I try not to be prescriptivist when it comes to word use, but gifting truly makes my skin crawl. Every time. For years. I try to hide the reaction.

                  In general, I actually enjoy those sorts of lexical acrobatics! They’re fun and often useful. But not this one.

                5. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

                  But ‘gifted’ and ‘gave’ aren’t always the same? You can give some a gift, but everything that is given is not a gift. I always assume ‘gifted’ is more, “my friend gave me this pen as a gift” rather than “my friend gave me this pen to use at our meeting today.” Granted not everyone uses it that way (and a pen is a lame gift) and it’s become a bit of a thing to broaden “gifted,” but in the context that something was actually given as a gift it’s more concise.

                6. Vehemently*

                  Adding my voice to the chorus of hatred for gifting, gifted, gift and all variations related. GAVE. The word is GAVE. My mom didn’t gift me this shirt, she GAVE me this shirt. And for the love of pete I detest the phrase ‘was gifted’. GAVE. Someone gave you the thing.

                  To someone’s point below that gifted is a more accurate term, I think in most contexts it doesn’t matter if it was a gift or just a thing someone had that you need.

                7. Dust Bunny*

                  Y’ALL ARE MY PEOPLE. I just commented on this below. And I’m in archives so I see “gifted” way the heck too often. Please just say you gave it or donated it!

                8. quill*

                  I wonder if this is primarily cases where people see a word’s adjective form (gifted) which matches closely to the noun (Gift) and then backwards engineer the verb (to give) because it’s an irregular verb and -ed is a common past tense verb ending?

                9. Jack Russell Terrier*

                  YES – why change something perfectly good? A gift is fine, as is an invitation. Why do we have to send or receive an invite?

                  I know language evolves – but let’s look at who is driving the evolution and whether we want them to be in charge of it. I don’t want marketing to be the driving force in how our language changes.

              2. Myrin*

                Hey now, this post is about pet peeves, not things that are objectively wrong – Pennyworth is allowed to be annoyed by this even if others disagree.

                1. Spencer Hastings*

                  But this annoyance is based on misinformation about how language change actually works in real life. It’s not wrong to push back on that part of it.

                2. Mme. Briet’s Antelope*

                  I don’t think people are pushing back on Pennyworth finding it annoying so much as they’re pushing back on Pennyworth describing it as lazy and saying English can be used better than that, which steps out of pet peeve territory and into value judgements.

                3. Richard Hershberger*

                  My response to peeves about perfectly ordinary usages is that they display a really twisted attitude about the English language: love of an abstract idealized version, but disgust with the actual version. This is unhealthy, whether applied to people or to language.

                4. Myrin*

                  @Spencer and Antelope, I know, but I also think one can be aware of such linguistic phenomena and still find them annoying. (In fact, I’m very familiar with that – I’m a philologist specialising in “German language and literature of the Middle Ages”, so I know the historical development of the German language intimately well. Yet I still have pet peeves in regards to modern German which have ample historical precedence but which for me boil down to “it sounds dumb”.)

            2. Richard Hershberger*

              It wasn’t new with Shakespeare and didn’t stop with him. It is how English works. Go find your old physical-book dictionary. Open it to a random page. Look to see how many entries are both nouns and verbs. It is likely to be quite a few. It is utterly normal in English.

              1. Canadian Librarian #72*

                We all know this, and yet! We are allowed to be annoyed by certain neologisms – it’s a pet peeve thread – whether or not that suits your preferences.

                Hardline descriptivism is just as obnoxious as hardline prescriptivism.

        1. ellex42*

          I despise when “up” is used that way. “We are upping your salary”, “can you up your response time”. The English language already has words for that, we don’t need to conscript other words to mean the same thing.

          I’m not so much as prescriptivist when it comes to language as a proponent of people “upping” their vocabulary.

          1. Llama face!*

            Haha, that reminds me of the church bulletin bloopers that have been going aroun the internet since the early 2000s. One was about a church fundraiser and had the unfortunate phrasing: “I upped my pledge, up yours!”

          2. Distracted Librarian*

            Even worse, “uplift” as a synonym for, “price increase.” When I worked in library collections, so many vendors would tell me about the, “annual uplift” for their product. I didn’t feel uplifted.

        2. Lab Boss*

          To quote the philosopher Watterson (AKA, the guy who wrote Calvin and Hobbes)- “Verbing weirds a language?

        3. Rolly*

          “Gifted” means “gave it as a gift.” It is not an exact synonym for gift in some contexts.

          In “My aunt gave the picture to my sister for her birthday” they are synonyms.

          In “The deliverperson gave the package to the receptionist” the word “gifted” would probably not work.

      13. Storm in a teacup*

        I absolutely loathe the use of ‘antibodies’. For example – are there any antibodies to doing the project?
        I work in Pharma so the blatant misuse of a medical term is particularly grating, especially when I caught myself almost saying it the other week

        1. Pennyworth*

          That is bizarre – do you think it started as a Malapropism by someone who originally meant antipathy and then antibodies caught on?

          1. Julia*

            Yeah this one I’ve never heard. I wonder what it’s even supposed to mean – is it like “drawbacks” or more like “detractors” or something else?

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Anti is a prefix as old as language itself and means against. (Yes, Ante is before and they cross over. As a child, Antipasti/antipasto really confused me.) (It’s present in PIE, albeit with a laryngeal at the beginning).

              I’ve heard bodies used as a euphemism for people (e.g. let’s get a few bodies on this problem and knock it out.)

              I think someone was too creative by half in combining them.

              1. Shiba Dad*

                As a child, Antipasti/antipasto really confused me.

                As a child, every adult I knew called it “antipasta”. I wondered what made it the opposite of pasta. I also joked about them annihilating each other like matter/antimatter would.

          1. linger*

            If you’re going to misappropriate medical jargon, contraindications would be closer to the intended meaning here. Otherwise it suggests a typo for antibodes, i.e. “reasons something may not bode well”.
            (By the same token, an antidote should be a “story with the opposite conclusion to one just told” :-)

      14. Carole*

        My pet peeve is the word wholesome. Maybe people use it as a reaction to extremes in society today, but I’m getting really sick of seeing it, as a cloying term for what really should be a norm, people doing nice things for others for example. I can’t explain it any better than that.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Funny, to me that’s exactly what wholesome is supposed to be used for. It means something that is healthy and promotes physical or moral wellbeing. The kind of stuff that should be routine (whether or not it is).

          For example, a wholesome meal means the kind of food people ought to have most of the time. It’s not something extravagant or gourmet, just food that is decently tasty and nutritious. In the same way, wholesome actions should be pretty ordinary. They’re not things that are heroic or extraordinary… instead they’re the kinds of things you would expect to see in a healthy community. Picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor is a wholesome action the same way a peanut butter sandwich and some carrot sticks is a wholesome lunch.

      15. Environmental Compliance*

        Related – “circle the wagons”. I am irrationally annoyed by that phrase. I’m pretty sure it’s just from overuse, though. I have some management that just *loves* to use it….as in, one managed to use that phrase in every. single. sentence. for a full 5 minutes of talking.

        1. GDUB*

          If you want to have some fun, tell people that “circle the wagons” is racist because it’s a metaphor for defending against Native American attacks on wagon trains. It might even work.

      16. KayDeeAye*

        Mine is “utilize.” Just say “use,” people! It’s a perfectly good word and it doesn’t have utilize’s tendency to make one sound as though one were trying to make one’s utterances sound Important and Significant. There are times when “utilize” is the best choice, of course…but those times are few and far between.

        1. Generic Name*

          I wholeheartedly agree! The people at my office who use this word the most usually aren’t our strongest writers and their style seems to be them trying to sound smart. I try to tell them that they don’t need to prove their intelligence to our clients. They already know we’re smart; that’s why they hired us!

        2. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

          In theory I’m a defendant of language evolving with users, etc. Internally though, I cringe a little almost anytime someone says ‘utilize.’

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            I think you mean you’re a defendant of language evolving with *utilization.*

            (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

        3. GDUB*

          I used to edit technical documents. I told people I earned 25% of my salary by crossing out “utilize” and writing in “use.”

        4. Indigo a la mode*

          Absolutely. “Utilize” is supposed to mean using something in a way that’s not its original intended use, e.g. “they utilized a fork for the delicate Getting the Key Out of the Crack operation.”

          1. NaN*

            Is there a source on this? I find a lot of people saying that was the original meaning of the word, but I can’t find any etymology or historical usage that suggests that this is actually the case. The (British) dictionary definition I found is to “make practical or worthwhile use of.” That does not imply “in a way that is not its original intended use.”

              1. NaN*

                The examples were in angle brackets, so the page tried to convert it to a link and stripped them out. They were: “a cheese factory utilizes milk from scores of farms, the ability of an organism to utilize oxygen, utilize the services of existing agencies”

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          Work jargon is the worst. I have an “actionable” swear jar. JUST DESCRIBE WHAT THE ACTION IS.

          As a marketer, I’m here to tell you that “metrics that help you forecast financial trends further, with greater accuracy” is so much better than “actionable insights.”

        2. Killer Queen*

          Jen Psaki must drive you crazy! ;) (no hate here! Just think it’s funny cause she says it a lot)

      17. Slow Gin Lizz*

        OMG I HATE “circle back.” And I have no idea why. Glad I’m not the only one. I’m also not a fan of “out of pocket” when someone is unreachable. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. (I’m fine with it in the medical insurance usage, though of course I don’t like having to pay for something out of pocket, heh.)

        1. Anonanon*

          I’ve heard of “out of pocket” being used to mean unreachable, and also thought it didn’t make sense. But I’m curious so I just googled the origins of this.

          Looks like it came from a line in a 1974 South Carolina newspaper article: “If you…have ever been sick and the only doctor is out of pocket for the weekend, then you know we need more doctors.” Still not a huge fan of it but now I understand where this expression came from.

      18. Dee Em*

        The worst of all to me is someone coming to me saying “Can I pick your brain?” Gross! No you cannot! I just get the creeps when I hear that.

      19. ophelia*

        The leadership at my company uses “connective tissue” to talk about links between units and I just CANNOT. /shudder

        1. drsunsets*

          Oh nononononono on “connective tissue”.

          One of my job duties here in academia is histology teaching, and so I have a “connective tissue” lecture that I present.

          You should ask your leadership what sort of connective tissue they are envisioning? Loose? Aerolar? Dense regular? Dense irregular? They all have different functions, so it’s important to be specific.

      20. RenoDakota*

        Overwhelm as a noun. I see it used in a lot of marketing materials addressed to busy working moms: “How to stop your overwhelm”. No thank you. I mean, yea, please provide tips on how to time manage and decrease feeling overwhelmed. But no thank you to “your overwhelm” as a noun.

    2. Susan Ivanova*

      CEO of my first tech company was very fond of “as we go forward.” I counted over a dozen of them in one all-hands alone.

      Running joke inside the company was “yeah, forward over a cliff.”

      1. Pennyworth*

        I find most instances of ‘going forward’ are redundant, and annoying. I know exactly what is meant without it.

        1. linger*

          Redundant, maybe, but “Going forward…” is at least slightly shorter than “For future reference…”. And yet somehow the latter doesn’t strike me as annoying. What do you think?

        2. Office Lobster DJ*

          Hmmm. I use this one a lot when I pivot between [Here’s How You Screwed Up] and [Here’s How Things Should Work] to indicate no hard feelings or further repercussions, let’s just move on.

          “For future reference” strikes me as a little too….something in this situation.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Yeah, same. I’m a high school teacher, and it’s a useful phrase when I want to avoid the arguments, excuses, and denials about what a kid did or did not say or do.

            1. STG*

              Yea, I may use it from time to time. More as a signal of ‘let’s move beyond whatever happened and now you know what you need to do’

      2. ceiswyn*

        Yes! Do you really feel you need to specify that we can’t take a time machine back and do these things in the past?!?

      3. Anonym*

        Ugh. I hear a lot of “on a going forward basis” or “go forward basis” and my brain melts a little each time.

    3. Funkywizaard*

      RE: #2. “Sooner rather than later” makes my skin crawl. I’ll respond to you as late as possible if you tell me you need an answer sooner rather than later.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! I used to work with someone who used it. I guess I should be semi-grateful that she helped me find a term I hated more than ASAP.

        Also, since my job requires juggling multiple deadlines for different parts of my processes, it is a completely unhelpful phrase. I need actual dates & information about priority levels.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        It’s also profoundly unhelpful. Like – if you need something by a certain time, say so. If something is urgent, say so.

    4. Kuododi*

      My particular linguistic quirk would have to be “I don’t believe….”. (As in “I don’t believe in women in upper management…” or other similar concerns.) Good grief… whatever the topic over which the person doesn’t believe is still something which is an accepted fact in today’s society. A person may not like or approve of something. Not “believing” in them doesn’t change anything.
      Okay, deep breath I think my tantrum is over.


      1. Anonym*

        Oooh, yes. This is well more than a lexical thing, though. It’s a wild overestimation of the (zero) importance of their opinions. My thought to these is usually, “how irrelevant!”

      2. Jean*

        This is mine too. My grandboss communicated to us that the company would not be mandating covid vaccines by saying “A lot of people don’t believe in vaccines,” which set my teeth on edge. It’s just such ignorant phrasing.

      3. Estraven*

        I have been known to challenge ‘I don’t believe in…’ statements outside work. ‘What do you mean “You don’t believe in X? It’s not fairies at the bottom of the garden?’. Bound to happen IN work at some point.

        My personal bugbears are ‘very unique’ and ‘iconic’. Either something’s unique or it isn’t. And I know the meaning of iconic has changed to something like ‘widely recognised as excellent’ but that doesn’t stop it grating on me something shocking.

      4. Just Another Starving Artist*

        Yes! I have a similar problem with “I can’t imagine” — okay, so you suffer from a tragic lack of imagination, how is that information useful to me? Especially as it pertains to something that it is fact, so you don’t have to imagine it, because it’s true and right in front of your face.

      5. STG*

        Ugh. That one drives me nuts. I’ve had it used against me so often in relation to be gay that it’s a bit infuriating. Like my life is some imaginary construct that wholly depends on whether or not you believe I exist.

    5. Baroness Schraeder*

      “Without any further ado” – why do we have ado in the first place? Can we just cut out all the ado please?

      Or even worse, “without any further adieu”. Adieu to you now.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m probably guilty of that one because I pick up & use nearly archaic words & phrases.
        (I had a long-ago English teacher who noticed & rewarded us for correctly using words from his vocabulary list in conversation. ..I guess it stuck.)

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I’m probably guilty of that one because I pick up & use nearly archaic words & phrases.
          (I had a long-ago English teacher who noticed & rewarded us for correctly using words from his vocabulary list in conversation. ..I guess it stuck.)

          Glad to hear I’m not the sole soul so doing. We may be cellmates when it’s outlawed!

          A few years back, a coworker had a word-of-the-day calendar. I happened to be onsite the day that “Magniloquence” was the word of the day. The *other* prankster on my team got my ID photo from HR and glued it onto next to the definition.

          I may have been laughing the hardest out of everyone.

          1. Purple Cat*

            What a tease not giving us the definition! (although I guessed something close based on context clues)

            use of high-flown language.

            For anyone else wondering ;)

      2. Rolly*

        “So without further ado, let’s get into it. The top 10 phrases that annoy sooo many people. But before we do, please be sure to like, comment or subscribe – it really helps the channel out. OK, let’s get into it!”

    6. Kuododi*

      Oh woops! I posted my pet peeves before I saw your note. I don’t know how to move a post to a different thread however if you find it necessary by all means move it wherever needed.
      Have a great weekend

    7. Dodubln*

      Mine is “drill down”. If I want flashbacks to “The Marathon Man”, I will watch the movie, thanks.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        That one is similar to “to make a long story short….” which the movie Clue delightfully undercut with “Too late!” every time someone said it. Depending on who is trying to make a long story short, I say “Too late!” as well. (Wouldn’t go over well in a work environment, but I suspect my coworkers would actually mostly find it amusing.)

    8. Waving not Drowning*

      I have a fun little game I like to play to keep me awake in meetings called “Bullshit Bingo”. Phrases I tick off are not limited to but include:

      Circle back – also Looping back
      Lets pop that in the Parking Lot
      New Normal
      random jargon – usually initials – CTN, COA, OAQ, WTF OMG (ok, those last two are what I’m thinking)
      On Brand
      Transformation (usually followed up with There will be no job losses – usually followed up a few weeks later by a department….losing their job…..which is then followed up with “building culture”)
      Adding value
      Lets give a shout out to …..
      Lets unpack this thought

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Years ago I quit a job with an abusive boss who was forever berating me about how I needed to prove I added value. I can no longer deal with the phrase “add value” at all.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I use it about myself sometimes, in home or social settings. Like, if my girlfriend and her friend are cooking together and I find myself gravitating toward the kitchen. I’m not helping, I’m barely socializing because they’re busy, but there I am, blocking the drawer they need to get into. “Oh, I’m not adding value to the kitchen!” and remove myself to the dining room.

      2. Batgirl*

        Initialisms in Education need to die; they outnumber the stars. Particularly since the minute you get used to one set, they redo it. They’ve just changed NQT (newly qualified teacher) to ECT (early career teacher) and yes you have to use the “correct” term.

      3. Alice*

        I had a manager at OldJob who could fill one of these bingos all by himself. Huge fan of providing “added value” and “circling back later”.

        I started using “circle back later” myself when talking to him, to mean “this is stupid but I don’t want to waste time taking about it now”.

      4. MicroManagered*

        I’m actually fine with “add value” if it makes sense in context (in other words, if it adds value to say) but the one I can’t stand is “value add.” It’s not a huge value add to switch the order of two words to make it sound like a new phrase.

      5. Environmental Compliance*

        I will admit I am often guilty of using initials. WDNR, EPA, OMM, SSM, SPCC, SWPPP. It’s just a lot to type out and my email would end up to be four pages long.

        I’m slowly getting better and will just say “the State” or “stormwater plan” or “operating plan” because honestly no one else is going to know the different between SPCC and SWPPP, lol.

        1. Generic Name*

          I’m in the same industry, lots of federal regulations, and a coworker sent me an email with two acronyms as the subject line and then used them in a sentence joking about loving TLAs. I was dying. :)

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Sounds like we do a lot of similar things at work. At this point, I just tell people “our permit” says X.

          They won’t know or care about the difference between our SWPPP, SPCC, HMBP, PBR, etc. All they really care about is that there’s an official government thingamawhatsit that says we have to do X.

      6. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        random jargon – usually initials – CTN, COA, OAQ, WTF OMG (ok, those last two are what I’m thinking)

        I smile, nod, and then respond “You do know that abbreviations are encryption for speech, right?”

      7. Stella*

        I hate “Parking Lot” too, but not as much as I hate what as become standard in my org (west coast liberal city) – they now use “Bike Rack” instead.

    9. Wendy Darling*

      I can’t cope with “right-sizing”. It’s a euphamism for a euphamism! It’s just trying to put a pretty bow on downsizing, which is itself trying to sound like the nicer version of layoff, which is arguably the nicer version of firing itself.

      I don’t care what you call it, it’s still people losing their job! Changing words every time we all get used to one doesn’t make it less bad!

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Ugh, yes, except it’s not actually nicer, as it makes actual human beings sound like they are just some sort of excess inventory. I don’t think it’s meant to soften it for the people affected but to make it sound like the company is not faltering.

      2. Indigo a la mode*

        Interesting. When I hear “right-sizing” at work, it has nothing to do with employees – it’s more about sizing a task/solution/whatever for a person or team. Like, finding the Goldilocks version of something.

    10. Kermit’s Bookkeepers*

      The modern over-usage of “journey” to describe a new habit or practice — as in, “I’m really enjoying my skincare journey.” Like, is experimenting with different types of coffee pour over techniques really a Journey? Is it, Brent?!

      1. Esmae*

        Haaaaate this. Although that might just be because I’ve spent so much time listening to people talk about their weight loss journeys.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        OMG, same, I hate that. Like shopping for a wedding dress was a deeply transformational experience.

    11. Lemon*

      Mine: the phrases ‘revert back’ (if you revert back, you are at square one! I would never actually correct someone about this though) and ‘leverage’ (e.g. we can leverage existing capabilities)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Urgh. Reach Out is another one, and if you don’t have the Four Tops as your earworm for the day, I would be surprised.

        Stakeholders – To me a stakeholder is a wooden spike wielding vampire hunter.

        Also, I know it’s American English, but Swop Out annoys me, since the out part is unnecessary.

        1. londonedit*

          The other thing that annoys me with swapping/swopping (love the traditional British spelling there) is that ‘I’ve swapped the red triangles for the blue circles’ used to mean that you’d removed the red triangles and replaced them with blue circles. Now I see people using it to mean the opposite – that they’ve ‘swapped out’ the blue circles and replaced them with red triangles.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            To me, “I’ve swapped the red triangles for the blue circles” is completely ambiguous; “I’ve swapped the blue circles for the red triangles” means the exact same thing. I would have to know what was originally there to understand your meaning (though, if I were to take a guess, I’d guess that the first object was the original item). Interesting.

            “I’ve swapped *out* the red triangles for the blue circles,” though, would clarify that the triangles were original.

      2. Julia*

        Leverage and utilize are always-deletes for me when I come across them in any document I’m editing. Why the word “use” isn’t enough I’ll never understand.

        1. Lemon*

          It’s especially annoying to me because I work in finance and leverage has a specific meaning here lol

          1. All the words*

            I actually work in the financial industry and one of our very high level executives LOVES the word leverage. The problem is he doesn’t seem to know what the word means so uses it in odd ways. Like, “the staff was able to leverage all the overtime they’ve had to put in over the past few months.” Okay, we leveraged it to . . . ? Oh, I guess that was the end of the thought.

            Doesn’t leverage imply pressure applied, or some form of exchange or negotiation? Am I completely off base here? I wish I could remember some better examples, but when it happens my eye begins to twitch.

            1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              I feel like leverage means making something more out of something less (leverage increases the amount of weight that can be moved). I feel like if overtime was needed, leveraging did not happen.

        2. Riley and Jonesy*

          Can I add ‘traction’ to your leverage? It drives me crazy and I don’t know why. It sounds so nonsense business-speak “this llama-grooming proposal is never going to gain traction with the hog population.”

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            What I find funny about “utilize” is that the main/original meaning was to use something in a way it wasn’t meant to be. So, you are utilizing “utilize” when you should be using “use.”

          2. NaN*

            Yeah, the overuse of “utilize” is definitely my biggest language pet peeve right now. Not even on the “well, technically it means…” front, but just because it’s so clearly one of those substitutions that’s meant to make the sentence sound smarter/more technical/elevated somehow. Reminds me of that guy everyone knew in high school (there’s always one) who said “irregardless” and thought he sounded smart doing it.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Writer will get pedantic here.
          English actually has two verbs with slightly different meanings: We use cast iron pans for cooking, and I will utilize them for weapons during the zombie apocalypse.
          Most romance languages only have one, and it’s a cognate for utilize.

          1. Mary Connell*

            Yes. Utilize means to use something for a specific or practical purpose. It is not a synonym for use, but occasionally people do use it correctly.

          2. Julia*

            Super interesting, did not know that! Thanks!

            “Most romance languages only have one, and it’s a cognate for utilize.”

            I always thought of this as that phenomenon I’m sure you’re familiar with where a lot of words have a “simpler” Anglo-Saxon variant and a more “complex” variant of Latinate origin. Per Strunk and White I tend to prefer the former, but language is squishy.

          3. NaN*

            I came to the comments to say that “utilize” is my language pet peeve, but now I’m more interested in chasing down the source of this notion that that utilize means “to use for something other than its intended use.”

            I’m not finding any proof utilize was ever restricted to that use, other than people repeating the idea in blogs. The oldest dictionary I have (from 1966, so not that old but old enough to predate the modern usage) has the definition “to make useful : turn to profitable account or use : convert to use” with the following examples: “a cheese factory utilizes milk from scores of farms; the ability of an organism to utilize oxygen; utilize the services of existing agencies.”

            I think this misconception that it means “other than its intended use” comes from that “convert to use” definition You could also read too much into “make useful” and “turn to use” but there’s no implication that the use in question is “other than its intended use.” It’s more like “putting it to work” than “putting it to a different purpose.”

            1. Software Dev (she/her)*

              Just want to say thank you for investigating this! People always make claims about where language use comes from/what a specific word is used for and those ideas often seem to have no source.

        4. penny dreadful analyzer*

          I love “leverage” because it reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean (probably not what most business documents are going for, but I make my own fun)

          “Utilize” I will usually change to “use.” But the thing I really fantasize about someday impressing upon all of my engineers and strategists is that it’s OK to say “before” instead of “prior to.”

      3. No Tribble At All*

        I’m with you, Lemon. Had a coworker who constantly used “revert back” I guess to sound more Official? Drove me up the walls, but I was at b!tch-eating-crackers with her, and all I wanted to do was say “you’re not as smart as you think you are!”

    12. Ed123*

      mine are specific to my current job

      exceptional circumstances – this is used to describe our tempopary staffing problems in every meeting and used as an excuse for having everything be late. But it’s just temporary. It started in 2015.

      Big picture – not a fan of this in general since in my experience it’s used to dismiss the need for specific instructions.

    13. You make me uncomfy*

      I had a coworker who always used the word ‘comfy’ and it drove me mad. As in asking, ‘is everyone comfy with that’. Used to set my teeth in edge. He was a condescending prick too which didn’t help.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        That’s interesting because using comfy to describe physical comfort (as in comfy chair) is definitely common here in the UK. However, I think I too would find it strange to hear in a professional context.

        1. You make me uncomfy*

          Yeah I’m from the UK, I have no problem with comfy in non-professional settings (this jumper is comfy, my bed is comfy), but at work it just drove me mad!

        2. Dust Bunny*

          US here: Same? I’ve heard it all my life but in the context of “this sofa is really comfy”. I’ve never heard it in a work setting unless maybe people were talking about the new office chairs.

          1. Mme. Briet’s Antelope*

            US: I’ve started to see people use comfy/uncomfy to denote an emotional state as opposed to physical comfort, but only in places like Twitter or TikTok comments, where space is limited. Never in a work context and NEVER spoken instead of typed out.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Hunh, I’ve really only ever heard it in terms of physical comfort–furniture, shoes, sweatpants.

      2. aebhel*

        I dislike that one, but I REALLY hate ‘uncomfy’, probably because I’ve spent too much time involved in internet discourse.

    14. Julia*

      Really enjoying reading through everyone’s pet peeves; thanks for allowing this today Alison.

      I’m working with someone right now who overuses “space”, as in “we have a lot of growth to do in this space”, “that space will be something we’ll discuss a lot”, etc. Vaguest word on earth – what does it mean? Topic? Idea? Category? Argh!

      1. Just delurking to say...*

        Ugh, yes, one of my pet peeves too. Right up there with “landscape” used to refer to anything other than physical terrain. “And now Fergus will brief us on some exciting changes in the teapot marketing landscape.”

            1. Rolly*

              Not the same. Changes this context is broader and vaguer.

              Changes in teapot marketing could be how we change, or how best practices change, or many other things.

              Landscape (when properly used) means the actors and their relationships. Sometimes policies and rules too. “Changes in a landscape” implies changes actors or their relationships. “A number of small shops have folded, so we have to work with big retailers” Yes, that’s a change in teapot marketing, but the word “landscape” signals you are going to not just mention the second part (what we do) but also the first (actors in the domain).

              I see a lot of griping here about words being misused or overused, but when used right they have some nuance or precision that can be a good thing.

              1. Myrna M*

                Completely agree Rolly. I’ve been enjoying your rejoinders to these. I know it’s all in good fun, but some of it feels petty.

    15. TechWorker*

      Hopefully this aren’t so specific as to out where I work but some people use ‘double click’ to mean ‘look into something fully’ Eg they’ll be like ‘let’s double click on that’ or ‘we haven’t actually double clicked on that point yet’. It’s so weird, and it’s been a while since double clicking on a link was required to load it….

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Ugh, that sounds hideously annoying! Never heard that expression in a non-IT/jargon context, but if I did, it would probably just make me laugh.

      2. Autocrat*

        YES this is what I came here to say. I almost exclusively hear it from (older, male) top leadership in big meetings and it drives me crazy. It seems like a new trend but like you say it has very little modern relevance. I’m in automotive so it has escaped the pure tech sector.

      3. Mahna Mahna*

        Yes!! I had a coworker who used “double-click” often. And “iterate”. As in, “let’s schedule meeting to iterate on that”.

        Other pet peeve. “ask” as a noun. “what is the ask?” Do you mean, what is the question/request?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Iteration is a huge thing in my job but dear lord if anyone used it like that my brain would turn off

        2. Julia*

          “Ask” is a reminder to me that everyone’s pet peeves are subjective, because that one I like. It’s kind of versatile – you can use it for question/request from a specific person, but you can also use it to mean “what are we called upon to do here?” Of course what one person sees as versatile, another might see as annoyingly vague. But we have a long history in English of turning verbs into nouns and vice versa – it’s a rich source of neologisms and I’m a fan.

      4. Rolly*

        That’s stupid. Not just weird, but wrong conceptually. Double click means to take action and move to the next step. Not the same as looking into something. I guess if they mean to double click to as in to open a document, perhaps it’s right, but we often double click to confirm and move on.

        1. Julia*

          Hmm, disagree. These days, the only setting in which we double-click is in a file folder system – so, to drill down further into a particular folder, to get more detail on its contents. Nobody double-clicks to submit a form, or send an email, or confirm anything.

    16. LadyAmalthea*

      Let me circle back to you, I’ll use that as a notch I’m my knowledge belt, or basically anything corporate speak my former boss’s son said so frequently that we made up bingo cards.

    17. Bagpuss*

      The one which really annoys me is the use of‘ ‘refute’ or ‘refuted’ where what is meant is ‘deny’ or ‘denied’.
      They are not the same, and it’s particularly annoying when the person using it incorrectly is a lawyer or legal reporter, who ought to know the difference!

      1. ceiswyn*

        Yes, that drives me nuts too!

        Also, ‘reticent’ does not mean ‘reluctant’! Are you sure all these people are shy and retiring? Really?

    18. Freneticmom*

      My pet peeve: the unnecessary use of out, as in print out, help out.
      Please print the document.
      I am happy to help.

      What would “out” add to communication in these sentences?

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        As someone who uses both, my feeling is that “print the document” could mean printing to a PDF or other export method that’s labelled as “printing” by the software. “Print out” unambiguously means an actual printer.

        “Help out” is harder to pin down, but my feeling is that it sounds more casual, so my sense is that I’d use it to convey a feeling that it’s not a big deal.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        These are phrasal verbs: a two-part verb with the first part a familiar verb and the second part what most people would call a preposition (but isn’t really, in this instance–call it a “particle” here). Iti is not infrequent that a phrasal verb might mean the same thing as the bare verb: stand up; climb up; sit down; etc. The same verb often can take a different particle with a change in meaning: stand down; climb down; sit up; etc. While this is not always the case, the pattern of phrasal verbs is baked into English grammar. Indeed, it is baked in so deeply that if English is your first language, you likely are unaware that the pattern even exists. (If English is your second language you know all too well about them, because they drive you crazy.)

        So while you are right that “print” and “print out” mean the same thing, the second version is not just randomly adding “out.” It is part of a deeper pattern of English grammar.

        1. Julia*

          As an English nerd, I think this is my favorite AAM thread ever. I am learning so much cool stuff! Thank you!!

          1. Julia*

            And of course in the sentence calling myself an English nerd I’d use a dangling modifier! XD

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Dangling modifiers are, in and of themselves, perfectly cromulent. Genuine ambiguity (with emphasis on “genuine,” not performatively claimed ambiguity) is a problem, but is only loosely correlated with dangling modifiers.

              As for phrasal verbs, their rules are a fascinating aspect of English grammar. You can tell that they are real English grammar rules because, unlike the fake kind we see bandied about, native speakers have so internalized them that we don’t make mistakes with them, and indeed aren’t even aware they exist. Rules that native speakers have to go back and learn as adults aren’t rules of grammar. They are at best rules of etiquette. Non-native speakers are a different matter. Phrasal verbs give them fits.

              If you want to do a deeper dive into phrasal verbs, Google on “Lawler phrasal verb” (without the quotes) and follow the first link.

    19. Just no!*

      “I am graciously asking if you would…” No! Stop describing yourself as gracious and acknowledge that it is the person you are writing to who would be gracious if they do the thing you are asking, i.e. “I am asking if you would graciously …”

      1. Khatul Madame*

        Yes, and “kindly” is right alongside! “We kindly request you to…”
        Do people not read what they type?

        I always suggest “we respectfully request” instead.

      2. Julia*

        Oh man, this reminds me of an AAM discussion a while back in which some people were defending the use of “I will respond at my earliest convenience” to mean “I will respond as soon as I can”. Not what that means; don’t repurpose that phrase in the wrong context just because it sounds businessy!

      1. Hold on loosely*

        “Take a peek” Reminds me of the awful supervisor who used it frequently. Also the work we did at times was complicated and a peek definitely didn’t describe the real action needed.

        1. londonedit*

          I don’t mind ‘peek’ so much as ‘sneak peak’. What is that, a mountain that’s good at hiding? I get SO many marketing emails with ‘Sneak peak!!’. It makes me want to buy things from the rare ones that actually get it right (there you go, that’s a marketing strategy in itself…)

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        And that just gave me a Les Miserables earworm…”This is a factory, not a circus!”

        I used to grit my teeth when my old manager addressed us all with “Right, peoples”, and in general I have an irrational dislike of all variations on the “thingy/thingybob/thingummy” theme.

      3. Snoopy Clifton*

        This! I hate it so much.

        Other office jargon I hate:
        “Reduction in force” (or RIF) when referring to layoffs.
        “Circle back”

    20. Never Nicky*

      Although may be a purely British thing, “Polite Notice” in shops, cafes etc.
      They are generally never polite, often passive aggressive, written in ALL CAPS and always telling you *not* to do something that you weren’t going to do anyway…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, I hate those signs too, they are the essence of passive-aggression in sign form.

      2. English Rose*

        Fellow Brit here, yes I just shared this in the comments before I saw you’d already mentioned it. And they’re usually stuck in a scruffy plastic folder or cracked lamination.

      3. SarahKay*

        While I generally agree with you, a pub I used to visit after work had a Polite Notice in the ladies toilets (presumably also the men’s too, but I didn’t check) telling us that use of drugs was strictly forbidden and would be reported to the police.
        My general annoyance about Polite Notices was offset by my amusement that this particular one didn’t specify illegal drugs, just drugs – which would, of course, include alcohol.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If everything is iconic, then how do we know when something stands out in the group?

      2. Coffee Bean*

        I agree. That word is over used. And it’s applied to people, products, movies, songs, etc. very liberally. Channel No. 5 – an iconic scent. A movie that was released two months ago or a real housewife of wherever – not iconic.

    21. Perfectly Particular*

      Oh man – for me it is people who use “opportunities” when they really mean challenges or issues! I have a hard time calling it an opportunity when my bonus and/or job are on the line if it doesn’t get fixed.

      Also, the other day, someone said we are working to “democratize the data” which I had never heard before and now hate very much.

      1. Anonym*

        Oof, yes, opportunities. I get trying to keep things optimistic or whatever, but it sounds false and condescending. Or like the speaker doesn’t actually understand the thing they’re describing! Plus, you get into fine line territory: our flagging teapot sales may in some tortured sense be interpreted an opportunity to improve our business overall, but the fact that our competitor makes better teapots is a straight up challenge.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          James quit this morning, Jenny went on maternity leave on Friday, Joaquin was promoted to Manager of the Ops team, and Fergus was abducted by a UFO last night.

          Staffing opportunity?

    22. Coffee Powered*

      Mine is myself/yourself used in the place of me/you. It sounds so awkward and I feel like I hear it all the time now. Examples:

      “If you could please send the TPS reports to myself”
      “I can share that with yourself offline”

      What’s wrong with “me”?

      1. Bagpuss*

        Oh yes! I have a colleague who does this and it really annoys me. I think people who do it think it looks/sounds more formal or professional. To me it just seems clunky and a bit pretentious.

        1. Bucky Barnes*

          I think this happens a lot. And I think it’s part of why words like “utilize” get used so frequently instead of “use.”

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes this really annoys me. I hear it most days on the train in to work from the train guard “if you see anything suspicious please notify the driver or myself.” I desperately want to stand up and shout “it’s the driver or me, not myself.” It’s so infuriating and annoys me so disproportionately much.

        1. Coffee Powered*

          Yes! So far I have refrained from physically standing up and shouting but it does bug me in a way that the you’re/they’re/it’s typos just don’t. It’s not hurting anyone and I don’t want to be a jerk but I will mentally stand up and shout when I hear it…

      3. Indigo a la mode*

        On the personal pronouns topic, also “[Name] and I’s.” I understand this is an overcorrection of people cracking down on “Me and [Name] went to the store,” but man, it makes me grit my teeth whenever my friend, who’s a first-grade teacher, says somethings like “That’s a favorite of [Husband] and I’s.”

    23. Rigamaroll*

      Mine is “noodle” – as in “I’ve been noodling this” as opposed to “I’ve been thinking about this”
      An old company used it all the time and it drove me bonkers!!!

      1. miss chevious*

        I like “noodle” although I use it as a noun (as in “use your noodle!”) and not a verb. I can see how it would be annoying though.

    24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “Utilize” when you mean “use” – THEY DO NOT MEAN THE SAME THING and you do not sound smarter for (mis)using a longer word.

      (“Utilize” is to use something in a manner other than its intended purpose – you use an umbrella to shield your head when it’s raining, you utilize an umbrella to carry your apples in after the sack breaks. )

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So how did it go with the apples in the umbrella? Lol.

        Really good explanation here- I totally agree people sound awkward in the process of trying to sound more intelligent.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I guess I should have refreshed before making my comment up list mentioning this one. Twins for today. :)

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Um… No, that is not what “utilize” means:

        uti·​lize | \ ˈyü-tə-ˌlīz \
        utilized; utilizing
        Definition of utilize
        transitive verb

        : to make use of : turn to practical use or account

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Your definition does not disagree with mine. To turn an umbrella upside down and fill it with apples when the occasion calls for it is to turn the umbrella, otherwise useless in the situation, to practical use.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            It’s not my definition. Your argument is with Messrs. Merriam and Webster.

            1. NaN*

              I’m with Richard on this one.

              The word “utilize” is my own language pet peeve right now. It’s way overused, clearly used to sound smarter/more technical than “use,” and it drives me crazy.

              But I don’t really buy this argument that the definition is that different from “use.” The google/Oxford Language definition is “to make practical and effective use of” with the example: “vitamin C helps your body utilize the iron present in your diet.” The online etymology dictionary just links it back to “use.”

              “Utilize” does have the connotation of “put [something] to use” that’s missing from the simpler word “use,” but I don’t know where this idea comes from that it therefore ONLY means “to use for something other than its intended purpose.”

              1. NaN*

                To utilize is to find the utility in something, I suppose, but that still doesn’t necessitate that the utility is something other than its intended purpose.

              2. Reformed pedant*

                This is an “equal and opposite reaction” thing, lol.

                Using utilize to sounds smart (wrongly) is paired with being (wrongly) pedantic about the difference between utilize and use.

                Two sides of the same annoying coin.

      4. Golden*

        Urghhh my PhD mentor used to utilize (bleh) that word in writing, speech, etc. waaaay too frequently. Both our school’s internal writing course and an online writing course he recommended said to just use “use” in academic writing, so any document I edited for him had a ton of redlining due to that word alone!

    25. LondonLady*

      I had a colleague who overdosed on management speak, once exhorting us to “take the bull by the horns and run with it”.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        My personal favorite buzzword misuse was back when “proactive” was the new thing. An assistant manager came back from some seminar where he learned the word but didn’t understand it. He gathered us together and told us our problem was that we were being too proactive and need to be more reactive. It was a struggle for me not to break out laughing.

    26. Covered in Bees*

      The term “thought leader”. I had a boss who constantly used this in conversation and insisted it was used heavily in our written materials. I already didn’t like it, but this overuse made things so much worse. I frequently suggested alternatives to avoid repetition but no.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Never thought I’d hear a worse version of “knowledge leader”— thought leader is terrible! I have many thoughts. I think so good! Mostly about cats. But I am a leader in thinking about cats.

      2. Khatul Madame*

        I raise you “evangelist”.
        People actually use this word to describe themselves on LinkedIn.

        1. Julia*

          This one is legit, though. One of the dictionary definitions of evangelist is “a zealous advocate of something”. They’re using it correctly.

          1. Clisby*

            At least in the US, though, plenty of people will interpret “evangelist” as “obnoxiously religious, verging on cultlike.”

    27. Asenath*

      “Learning experience/opportunity”. Although I dislike the phrase, I do agree that even (or especially) the worse disasters are something you can and should learn from. But it often seems to mean “You are going to have to do something you are going to dislike (maybe it’ll take too much time away from your other work, or isn’t really your area of expertise but that of your co-worker, the one who doesn’t seem very busy) and that no one else will agree to do. But hey, it’s a learning opportunity!

    28. Shiba Dad*

      One of mine is “ASAP”. I got this a lot at an old job where multiple projects were simultaneously “top priority”. I mean, of course I’m going to get a task done “as soon as possible”. What management really meant was “I got a call from someone who is angry about our lack of progress on their project. This project is now top priority. Drop everything else that you are doing.”

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Hate this.
        “I need this report ASAP.”
        “How’s this report going?”
        It’s next on my list.
        “But I need it NOW”

        well, what letter in ASAP was I to read as IMMEDIATELY?

      2. Xavier Desmond*

        ASAP is one those great ways of saying you are going to do something quickly without actually doing it quickly.

      3. Generic Name*

        We discourage folks from using this in my office because some people mean “get to this when it’s convenient for you” and others mean “drop everything and get to this NAOW!”

    29. Mr. Tumnus*

      “Please and thank you” Aaaaghh! I haven’t agreed, I may not agree, and I’m really annoyed that you assume I’m going to do it.

      Also, “kindly ask”. I hear it everywhere from local sporting events to business emails. “We kindly ask you to stand to honor….” You’re not asking kindly, you’re just asking! Maybe you mean you want me to kindly stand, which is slightly better but still awful.

    30. Not So NewReader*

      “Thanks for understanding”. Ugh. It makes me feel like the person thinks they are talking to a five year old. It seems to come on the heels of “I need X done in Y manner.” Just say, “thanks” or “thanks for helping in this process”. Jeepers. Fortunately I do not see too much of this one.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        Ooh, this one can get under my skin, too. It usually means “I don’t want any questions, push-back, or further discussion of whatever I just said, whether you agree or not.” And that has its uses, of course. No problems there. What gets me is when it’s touted as a way to get people agree with you by “subtly” “praising” them for being so understanding. It’s just not that subtle or clever.

    31. Mika*

      Mine is “socialize the idea.”

      It started becoming popular in my office about 5 years ago and people still use it.

      Partially I hate it because it usually means we need to have more meetings about something.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          Admittedly, I use doggos all the time. Thankfully I’ve never heard anyone use cuppies.

        2. WellRed*

          I loathe kiddos and doggies both of which are overused here. Why, just why? Is it cooler (it’s not).

    32. Richard Hershberger*

      My language pet peeve is people in positions of authority who impose their irrational language prejudices on their subordinates.

    33. Crazyoboe*

      As a teacher, “rigor” was a buzzword that annoys me. Sure, the kids can barely answer in complete sentences, but let me just “add more rigor” and suddenly they will magically be able to work at a higher level. Yes, some kids don’t perform as well when they aren’t being challenged, but that wasn’t the case for 95% of our students.

      1. Former Math Teacher*

        Oh my goodness, your comment is giving me flashbacks. I was always confused about “rigor”. Make the questions harder? Try to cram as many of the standards that I’m teaching into one question? Clearly, if most of the students (please, PLEASE stop calling them “kiddos”) show that they understand the material, I should have “added more rigor”.

        Or are we talking shorthand for “rigor mortis” because that’s how I’m feeling in this PLC right now.

    34. Astrid*

      These are fun to read! I am guilty of so many!
      But it makes me wonder if the reason a specific phrase or word annoys one person and not another is the context in which they are hearing it and the person who is saying it. Otherwise, what is really so bad about all these? Language can be fun, colorful, interesting and always evolving. I get annoyed when a word is used incorrectly but the speaker thinks they are using it correctly. Like saying “emergent” when you mean “emergency” or “urgent”. One of my pet peeves is turning a verb into a noun like the verb “ask”. This grates at me …but I have to remind myself that language is always evolving and changing and the evolution is what makes it fun and interesting (and annoying at times.) I love when a non English speaker or English speakers from a country other than my own says something that might be confusing to us but makes perfect sense to them. “I have a doubt” is also what Spanish speakers might say instead of “I have a question”. I had a friend from India say the best things and I tried to remember them to use them in my own conversations I loved them so much. She babysat our daughter while my husband and I went out and she said we could use the opportunity to “get knocked up” when she totally meant something else. It was fabulous.

      1. Anonym*

        I’m with you! I mostly enjoy strange quirks of language, but I think overexposure to a particular word or phrase, or exposure via deeply irritating colleagues or work cultures, can turn a harmless bit of language into a real pet peeve.

      2. Camellia*

        Or when non-native English speakers say something that is logical but not what native English speakers say. My best example of this is that native English speakers say ‘yesterday morning, tomorrow morning, this morning’, but my coworkers from India say ‘yesterday morning, tomorrow morning, today morning’. It is perfectly logical but I have to admit it grates on me every time I hear it.

    35. Stripes*

      Please stop saying “connect with” when it’s your only synonym for call, email, zoom, have a meeting with, send a singing telegram, or attempting telepathy. Please just tell me how you intend to contact me and that’s cool. “We will connect later”, “I’ll connect with them and circle back to connect with you” we are not lego bricks. Please stop.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Interestingly, a century ago people made essentially the same complaint about “contact” as a verb: are they writing a letter, sending a telegram, visiting in person, or what?

        1. Stripes*

          I’d also probably complain about that, please just tell me which method of communication we will be using. One of the directors where I work nearly exclusively uses “connect”, even on meeting invites. I won’t know which format this meeting is in until it is time for the meeting. Do I need my Webcam? Should I make sure my phone is accessible? Are we going to exclusively instant message? Did you find out where I live and are now going to conduct this meeting from my living room? Who knows!

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Your issue is with the appropriate level of specificity. “Contact” and “connect with” are appropriate when the specific medium is unknown or irrelevant. I suspect that this is where you and your interlocutors diverge.

          2. Anonym*

            I tend to use it when offering multiple options. If I don’t know whether they’d prefer a meeting, a call, or a discussion via IM, I ask if we can connect.

      2. Rolly*

        What if the person does not know if it’ll be a call or zoom? Or email? Is “connect with” OK or should we wait till the mode is known before saying anything?

        1. Stripes*

          If you’re scheduling a meeting you should ideally know the format you’re planning on it being in, in my opinion. Otherwise it comes across as business jargon for the sake of using business jargon, and like you don’t actually have a plan for having a conversation. You can always change your mind later if you scheduled a Zoom but really a call is fine, as long as you keep the other party on the same page, but people don’t actually talk like this. You don’t say you’re going to connect with your doctor, or you’re going to connect with your mom later.

          It’s more the lack of context and how awkward it sounds. “Why don’t we schedule some time for that later?” is way more human than “We will connect about this later”.

          1. Rolly*

            “If you’re scheduling a meeting you should ideally know the format you’re planning on it being in,”

            Do you know what works for the other party?

            Really, connect with can be a good word when it’s vague for a reason.

            “”Why don’t we schedule some time for that later?” is way more human than “We will connect about this later”.’

            If anything, I’d argue the opposite – the first is about time and the latter about communication. The first is more likely to provoke immediate action though, so in a way it’s better. Those sentences overlap but have differences in emphasis.

            I get that people have different preferences, but a lot of the critiques here are pretty random. Or originating in phrase that have good nuance when properly used instead being overused, with the baby being thrown out with the bathwater.

    36. Workerbee*

      “Touch base,” often used as “Let’s touch base on” or “We’ll touch base on.” Perhaps I needlessly dislike this phrase because my mom has been using it. She’s been retired for umpteen years and never used it during her working years that I can recall.

      “Sunsetting,” as in “sunsetting a project” or “We’ll have a meeting to sunset this.” Another irrational dislike. This could stem from my first hearing it used by people overly fond of sitting and talking in long meetings.

      “Utilize.” I think people use it because they believe it is a more formal/proper version of “use.” It is not. I see it most often in written form. “Use” is perfectly fine!

      Fascinating and fun books about language:
      “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language,” by Patricia T. O’Conner

      “The ABC of Style: A Guide to Plain English (A Word Diet for the Verbally Overweight),” by Rudolf Flesch

      “American Usage: The Consensus,” by Roy H. Copperud

      1. Workerbee*

        I forgot one! OldJob had a spate of “May you do this request?” on internal emails because someone, somewhere, thought it was more polite than using a variant of “can” or “will.”

        “Might” is up there, too. Even “When might this be done?” sets m’teeth on edge.

    37. Magnolia*

      I hate flip the script. Everything we do that is slightly different than before is not flipping the script.

    38. Jzilbeck*

      “Did you go to that meeting, or…..?”

      “Should I make that request, or….?”

      Basically, ending every question with “or….?”

      Or what?! Don’t leave me hanging!

    39. Lab rat*

      Years ago a columnist in our local newspaper named his cat Peeve so he could call the cat his pet Peeve.

    40. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      When we form the mob that outlaws “please advise,” I volunteer to carry the flag in to battle.

    41. Crazy Dog Lady*

      At my old job, mine pet peeve was you need to toot your own horn more. Unfortunately they meant talking about your achievements in an over the top way that made most people uncomfortable.

      1. Anonym*

        I know what’s meant by this, but it ever so slightly suggests flatulence in the back of my mind (I am Very Mature). I don’t think I could control my face if this was used repeatedly at work.

        1. Just no!*

          I’m imagining myself in your workplace, making eye contact with you and our gang of co-workers who will all collapse into giggles whenever we hear “toot your own horn” from the boss.

    42. Delta Delta*

      Emails signed, “Best,” “Best” always comes across as “f*** off and die.”

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Oh I really like Best, especially when “thanks” isn’t warranted. For me the frosty one is “regards”.

        1. Anonym*

          Same! It took me a while to get used to, but now I prefer it. Clean, short, positive but not weirdly effusive.

        2. Clisby*

          I’m from the US – I might have felt the same about “regards,” except that during the years I worked as a computer programmer, folks from our partner company in Germany often signed off on emails with “Regards.” We got in the habit of answering them the same way.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        This is interesting to me. I use “best” a lot (I’m in higher ed). And nobody (that I’ve ever heard of, anyway) blinks an eye about this. We also use “thanks” a great deal. I switch that with “cheers” from time to time as well. Generally, I use “cheers” with people I know reasonably well and/or have been having some back and forth with over email. I’m not sure exactly when I adopted it, but I do recall seeing it many years ago and liking it.

        Probably there’s someone out there now who has an email from me and is *enraged* that I do it.

      3. Yellow*

        Wait, what? “Best” is a very common email sign off. It’s short for “Best Regards” or “Best Wishes.” I’ve never interpreted it as “f*** off and die.” That’s a pretty extreme interpretation of a very innocuous sign off.

      4. Bob Bobbert*

        I have a coworker who signs off “Respectfully.” It always makes me think of the phrase, “I respectfully disagree,” and puts me into fight mode.

      5. Betsy Not Elizabeth*

        Yeah, after reading these comments I will find a replacement for “Best” as my sign-off. I’m from a generation still mourning the death of Sincerely, and have not found a replacement that feels quite right.

        I landed on Best as a kind of inside joke anyway – my first name is often misspelled Besty, so it was like a little pre-emptive strike. I guess it’s a real turnoff for some, though. The search continues.

        1. Julia*

          I wouldn’t bother – the person you’re replying to has a real minority opinion that you’re not likely to encounter that often. “Best” is extremely common.

      6. Foolish Fox*

        Best is my favorite. I don’t like thanks because sometimes I have nothing to thank the person for. I dont want to end a status report with thanks. Best means best wishes, best regards, best add a sign off here, or whatever the reader feels like adding. I like to mentally add animals and pretend I am wishing the reader best giraffes.

      7. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

        “Why is it that whenever someone says ‘with all due respect’, they really mean ‘kiss my ass’?”

      8. GDUB*

        That’s what I mean when I use it! I almost always use “Thanks”, or “Looking forward to seeing you,” but “Best” is reserved for people that I have nothing good to say to.

    43. Dust Bunny*

      Rather specific to archives: “Gift”. OMG just say you gave it or it was donated. Don’t make it sound like you bestowed it on us on a silk satin pillow with a chorus of angels singing in the background.

      it annoys me even more when people use it in a non-professional setting. “My grandmother gifted me some old patterns.” Just say she gave you her sewing stuff. Augh.

    44. SongbirdT*

      I think this thread warrants a recommendation that everyone go to YouTube and search for “Weird Al Mission Statement”

      It will be the balm to soothe your soul.

    45. Anonymous Koala*

      Mine is “utilise” instead of “use”. I know there’s nothing wrong with it, but one of my bosses hated it with a passion and I still get triggered when I proofread and find it in a sentence.

    46. paxfelis*

      I’m tired of people wanting to “diffuse a situation.” Trust me, you really don’t want to diffuse a bad situation, it will not make things better for anyone.

      I keep finding this in training videos.

      1. Lulu*

        Alert. Usually in online communication: New employee alert, Doughnuts in breakroom alert. And online: Green raincoats alert, sandwich specials alert. If it’s not an extreme weather or Amber alert can we stop already?

        1. Julia*

          And don’t get me started on faze. In twenty years the “correct” spelling will be nearly gone, replaced by “phase” because people think “faze” looks like a phonetic misspelling.

    47. PHL5315*

      Professional pet peeve: When you send an email that includes a numbered list of questions, and get a paragraph in response that doesn’t answer them all, is kind of generic, and is definitely unclear. Ugh!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I have learned that if I have eight questions, they will get eight emails. And each vague response will get a request for clarification.

    48. WellRed*

      Deliverables. Also assets, when it’s nit referring to something financial. Just Send me the photos (assets) so I can get the layouts (deliverables).

      1. Rolly*

        What if the deliverable or assets are diverse? If everyone knows what they are, then yeah, it’s stupid. But we use deliverables all the time. Ditto assets:

        “What are the deliverables?”

        “Layout files, PDFs for printing, a style guide, and the licenses for all assets used (audio, videos clips and photos). Plus a one-hour training session.”

      2. Gumby*

        In my job we use “deliverables” as shorthand for “things that we are required, by contract, to deliver many of which are also tied to payments” and they take a variety of forms: meetings, reports, experimental data, simulations, test results, government forms, and/or actual hardware at the end of a project. If talking about an individual item we will say “your quarterly report is due” but if we’re talking about everything that has to be turned in as part of a project, we will say “shipping delays are going to make us super late on this contract – we should request a no-cost extension and new due dates for the remaining deliverables because there is no way we’re meeting the current schedule.”

    49. Sloanicota*

      Mine is “gifting” as a verb instead of giving. I don’t know why, it just rubs me wrong. Pretentious maybe. My mothers is authors referring to themselves as “creatives” or “artists” which makes me, an author, paranoid now that I could slip up one day myself.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Gifting is a legal term, as well. Doesn’t mean it’s not grating, it just… exists.

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          It may be the difference between gifting a large sum of money to build a library on campus and giving an old concert tee to your sister that’s the peeve. It does make my nose itchy.

    50. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have two:
      1. When people (typically older people) use … at the end of all their sentences. I always think I did something wrong. Like “I’ll have the TPS report on Friday…” it sets my teeth on edge.

      2. UNNECESSARY EXCESSIVE USE OF ACRONYMS. God my office has an acronym for everything I swear I spend half my time trying to decode a meeting instead of actually participating in it. Just say the words it takes just as much time typically.

      1. Orange You Glad*

        I recently got an email from someone who was complaining that I needed to include more people in a meeting I was setting up, but instead of giving me those people’s names or positions, she just listed out acronyms for subdepartments that I’m not aware exist. The back and forth to figure out what she was talking about took much longer than if she had just sent a list of names.

    51. Fabulous*

      Not so much a language pet peeve, but when people IM your “Hi” without any additional context to what they need. Just tell me what you want so I am prepared for how many spoons I need to set aside for you!

      Just sending, “Hi! I’m looking for a file, can you help?” is not so hard!!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha! I am always a bit obsessed with how to start an IM request; I want to put the person’s name first (Stacy, could you please send me the TPS file …) if we haven’t been in conversation already, or if the conversation has long lapsed – because it seems so weird to just jump in with a request. But I think I’m an outlier and it probably seems weird to people. I’ve done it with texts where I don’t know the person well and at least one person told me it was weird … cringe!

        1. Julia*

          I’d experiment with replacing “Stacy” with “Hi!” and then launching immediately into your request. I know that for me personally, receiving an email that said “Julia, could you do X?” would feel peremptory – the opposite of what you’re going for. But “Hi! Could you do X?” is perfectly fine.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        This annoys me as well. Just send me what you need, don’t make me ask you what you want when you started the conversation.

        It’s a very mild annoyance, but it is an annoyance. Mostly from the people who send me “hi” and then wait 2 hours to respond back to my “hello, how’s it going?” right after. I somewhat get messaging “hi” to see if I’m there/available, but if that’s the purpose, either respond back closer to when I do or just send me what you need.

      3. Anonym*

        This really drives me up a wall. Possibly because it’s usually followed by long pauses before saying anything else (or just straight up disappearing!). I understand wanting to greet the person since you’re contacting them out of the blue, but let’s combine it all into one message and save everyone some time!

        I usually start with “Hey! [Question/Request]” if I know the person reasonably well, and if not, “Hi Name, [Question/Request]”. Acknowledgement + minimum disruption of whatever they’re in the middle of.

      4. Two Dog Night*

        TBH this doesn’t bother me–it’s a shortcut for “Are you around and able to chat? Because I want to tell you this when we can discuss it instead of sending it off into the ether.” But I also work for a mostly-remote company, and we’ve definitely developed a common language around IMs.

        1. Julia*

          I think the problem is that I’m often around and available to chat for some requests but not others (depending how long it will take), so I want to know what you want up front in order to know whether I’m available.

    52. English Rose*

      Mine is “Polite notice”, usually stuck to a nearby wall or notice board. Such as “Polite Notice: please remember to throw your rubbish away after you eat in this area.”
      I always want to see a really rude notice!

    53. Ness*

      I know this is irrational, but it annoys me when someone signs emails with their initials instead of their name. I have a coworker “Jim” who signs emails “JLB”, which isn’t even shorter! Just use your name!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Zomg flashbacks to an old colleague who always did that – I had forgotten this delightful quirk.

    54. Esmae*

      “Bio break.” I know in theory it’s less explicitly bodily-function-related than “bathroom break,” but something about it just grosses me out.

      1. 867-5309*

        I never used this until coming to work for my current company. Now I feel like… I have to because everyone else does? I also prefer, “Just a quick bathroom break.”

      2. Anonym*

        Yeah. No details are needed on what a break is for. Just say break! Don’t limit my activities to my biology or make me think of yours. :(

      3. GDUB*

        I think engineers like bio break because it also includes getting a snack or a drink or any other biological needs. They’re so weird.

      4. Rolly*

        At my organization the meaning includes eating and getting up from your chair to walk or stretch. People do a mix. The point is to do some self-care to come back ready to go again. Not to take a break to do calls or other work. Come back refreshed please.

      1. 867-5309*

        Oh dear! I’ve started saying this one regularly and I have no idea where I picked it up. :)

      2. Workerbee*

        Ugh ugh ugh. The same manager who used “When might this be done?” also trotted out “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” and other fatuous expressions. It all boiled down to him never wanting to approve any forward movement on any project, because then he’d have to do some work, so he would fill up his endless meetings with catchy Boss Phrases and other stalling tactics. We were so glad when leadership finally canned his a$$.

    55. arjumand*

      The only good thing about “I hope this email finds you well” is immediately going on a search for all the ‘how your email found me’ memes.
      Though then I have to resist the temptation of replying with one of them!

    56. miss chevious*

      “Please advise” primarily because it usually comes after a large lump of text in which a number of things are described, but not actually thought through. It’s usually used, ime, as a way to dump the responsibility for the issue described onto the recipient without any clear guidance as to what the advisee is looking for.

      Please advise? I advise you to ask me a question.

      1. Erin*

        Oh I am right there with you. I am doing my best to squash this at my job but both at NewJob and OldJob there was a strong propensity to word-vomit a stream of consciousness and then just write “please advise” at the end. Do you work in medicine too?

    57. Turtle Dove*

      I have a theory about the origin of “gentle reminder,” which I loathe. I imagine it started when a manager directed a staff member like this: “If you haven’t heard back from everyone by Wednesday, send out a gentle reminder that the hard deadline is Thursday.” And the staffer missed the spirit of the directive (“remind but do it gently/nicely”) and instead used the term verbatim. I’m retired now after almost 30 years in IT, and that’s the kind of thing many of my colleagues would have done. They weren’t into subtleties when communicating.

    58. 867-5309*

      I chuckle because this language has made it’s way into my everyday, personal conversations and every. time. I LOL when I do it and apologize.

    59. 867-5309*

      Thought of one more… When you’re sitting in a meeting (in-person) and people say, “Let’s take this offline.” Ummm… you are already offline. You mean let’s talk about this outside of the meeting so we don’t take up everyone’s team.

    60. SarahKay*

      Onsie-twosies. Said by several of the people I work with, as in “We’re down to the last onesie-twosies of our llama flock that are still in need of grooming”.
      I have to grit my teeth because what I really want to do is demand if the speaker is in fact aged four? And why they can’t just say ‘last one or two’.

    61. Ray Gillette*

      My linguistic pet peeve is “can you help me understand.” It feels like a smug, passive-aggressive way to say “you owe me an explanation.”

      I felt like such a jerk the one time I used it on someone else, but I’d reached a boiling point after multiple rounds of back and forth where they were by all appearances not listening to what I was saying. I’d run out of polite ways to ask why they weren’t following best practices, so I used it, and… it worked.

    62. Erin*

      I had a former colleague who used “The ask” a lot and it drove me batty. As in, “The ask from accounts payable is you get your TPS reports turned in by Wednesday.” There are so many other grammatically acceptable ways to phrase someone else’s request!

      Also, I am really not a fan of “ghosted” although I think the word is overused. You are not obligated to respond to every person who wants your time/energy/whatever. For some reason it gives me a vibe of “women owe men their attention.”

    63. The Bad Guy*

      As a youngish millennial in the workforce, I think I am guilty of ALL of these. So many of them are engrained in business lingo and it’s impossible to exist in an “internal customer” facing role without internalizing these shorthands. I pity my older coworkers who find these terms grating.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        This one always makes me laugh. As far as I know, it comes from the advertising business of the 1960s-70s. Instead of saying, “Let’s see if the customers will buy this [idea, product, whatever],” the line was “Let’s run it up the flagpole, and see if anybody salutes.”
        Side note: It has a totally non-PC title, but the book “From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You Pearl Harbor,” by highly successful ad-man Jerry Della Femina, gives a really funny (and accurate) picture of the ad business of those decades.

    64. mlem*

      Mine is “pick your brain”. Immediately makes me think of “pick your nose”, every single time.

      A coworker recently started suggesting “ticklers” to mean “reminders”, and another coworker clearly couldn’t stand it.

    65. Don't kneel in front of me*

      I have always hated “let go.” “Bob was let go.” No, he wasn’t “let” go because Bob was free to go this whole time. You made him go. You told him to go. Bob was fired. Say he was fired. Say “Bob was fired,” or “Bob was told to leave.”
      “Let go” is an unnecessary and inaccurate softening of language. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Related: “hard stop” is absolutely acceptable an encouraged over any long-winded soft requests to end a meeting at its end time.

    66. Three Seagrass*

      When I started working at a tech company, the weirdest word that stuck out to me was “slick.”

      “That new feature works so slick.” “Their website looks really slick.”

      People sound like they just stepped out of Grease, I hate it.

    67. AlliterativeApple*

      Offer. As in “our department’s learning offer includes..”

      Don’t know why, it just drives me up the wall.

    68. What She Said*

      One of my peeves is anyone using fancy wording to say simple things. It’s Friday and I can’t think of any samples but can’t we use simple English words. Reminds of my Joey in Friends writing the letter for the adoption agency for Chandler and Monica. He wanted to sound smart and changed every word of his using a thesaurus.

    69. Lab Boss*

      Working in a role that crosses over lab work/stats with business/marketing, the use of key science words like “significant” instantly makes my blood pressure rise only because I know I’m going to have to referee an argument because someone in sales said “this is significantly higher” and a statistician is going to flip their lid because there isn’t any proof of true significance.

      Outside of work it’s “maker.” It just feels like a dumbed down, internet-hip word when we already have words like “craftsman,” “artisan,” “artist,” even the more general “creator.”

      1. SeaMarie*

        If you replace “maker” with any of those suggested words in the line, “The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,” in the old nursery rhyme, besides spoiling the rhyme, it also sounds pretentious.

    70. Name of Requirement*

      “Gentle reminder” always brings to mind a pillow gently pressed over one’s face.

    71. Clisby*

      I have a lot of language pet peeves, but way up at the top is “pre-order.” No, if I put in an online order for a book that hasn’t been published yet, I’m not pre-ordering it. I’m just ordering it.

    72. Forrest Rhodes*

      I’m probably alone in this, but using “impact” as a verb always makes my teeth hurt.
      “Will changing the definition impact the final tally?”
      No, blast it! It might “affect” (or you could even make an argument for “effect”) the final tally, but there’s no impact involved.

      1. Gray Lady*

        A sub-peeve of mine with this one is any use of “impact” even as a noun where the word is too strong, and the perfectly good “effect’ which for some reason has been tossed into the bin, would be better.

        “The researchers were studying the impact on children of frequent hugs from caretakers.” Do we really want those hugs to make an “impact,” or do are we just concerned with the “effect”?

    73. Some Dude*

      Mine is “problematic.” Because it is both judgemental but really vague, which bugs me. Say it’s sexist or racist or ableist. Don’t just use this vague language to imply it might not pass political correct muster and not name why it is an issue!

    74. Velocipastor*

      It irks me when people use “do” in place of another, more specific verb. Just yesterday I was asked if I could “do” a press release instead of “write” a press release. Sure, what would you like me to do to it?

    75. laurapecora*

      Mine is “ramp up”. I once worked for a company where people were constantly talking about “ramping up” various things and projects in ways that I could never figure out how to interpret. I finally just decided they were using it to mean “let’s continue working on this in exactly the same way we have been” because based on their actions nothing else made sense.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I’ve interpreted the phrase to mean ‘increase effort’, especially as you get closer to a deadline. As in, “Let’s ramp up hiring now, to handle the summer rush.” Maybe your former company used it differently?

    76. How About That*

      When folks sign of an email with “V/R”, and they are not in a military organization. It means “very respectfully” BTW, I had to ask. Annoying.

    77. Meghan*


      As in, “Just to piggyback on Jane’s statement…”

      Especially since it rarely adds any value to a discussion.

    78. Canadian Librarian #72*

      I hate “gentle reminder” or “friendly reminder” – it feels so passive aggressive and smarmy! Just loathe it.

      Other pet peeves:
      – signing an email “warmly, [name]”
      – using “gift” where the verb “give” should be used (“Janet gifted me a teapot”. NO SHE DIDN’T, she gave you a gift.)

    79. Red 5*

      I’m currently twitching every time we have to talk about “buy in” for just about anything.

      Don’t ask me why it’s bothering me, or what I’d replace it with. I think it’s because we’re only ever discussing it in situations where we shouldn’t have to be trying so hard to get people to care. “We need buy in from upper management before we can allocate the funds to fix the bathroom sink in the basement.” Why do we need to convince them to care that the sink is broken?

    80. RB*

      Mine peeve is “it’s all good” although I use something similar that I hope doesn’t grate on people: “no worries.”

    81. RB*

      Also, I worked for a Fortune 50 company in the ’90s when a lot of these things seem to have gotten started. They were big on “thinking outside the box,” “pushing the envelope,” “window of opportunity,” “picking the low hanging fruit,” “best practices,” etc. Someone once made a bingo card you could use in the all-employee meetings to check these off. I wish I could remember what else was on there. They liked to think they were on the cutting edge of the business-world language. Although some of those, like “best practices” are now common everyday phrases, but not so much back then.

    82. All the words*

      Lived experience.

      As opposed to a vicarious experience? A near death experience? A post death experience?

      It’s apparently fancier than just a regular experience one has had, but I fail to see how.

    83. Brain the Brian*

      Alison, are you as bothered by “friendly reminder” as you are by “gentle reminder”? I find the former easier on the ears / eyes.

      FWIW, I find “hard stop” rude in contexts *other* than discussing the end of meetings — for instance: “This really screwed up. Hard stop.” But to give a reason why a meeting needs to end? Absolutely fine then!

    84. Alex (they/them)*

      as a non-binary person- shoving ‘x’ into random words to “be more inclusive”. It comes off as silly and out of touch with what trans/non-binary people actually want. “Folks” is already gender-neutral! What is “folx?!”

      1. Software Dev (she/her)*

        Lol my Hispanic friend /hates/ the Latinx convention. I’ve heard many rants about it.

    85. Software Dev (she/her)*

      As someone who likes verbing words and using internet speak in professional life, I think we do have to acknowledge that language is ever evolving.

      That being said my company has rolled out a new methodology that uses “appetite” in place of “importance” as in “what’s our appetite for this?” To mean “how important/how much time do we want to spend on this?” and I kind of hate it.

    86. AnonInCanada*

      “Touch base.” What is that really supposed to mean? “I’m writing to touch base about project X.” Why use those #*$@& redundant words?

      And people who use acronyms that may be common in some context/industry but not in this particular one. I don’t want to be Googling some three-letter acronym I don’t understand its meaning then be given a list of about 800 or so possible meanings to have to dig down to which one makes the most sense in this context and sometimes still don’t get it right? It takes three seconds to type the three words it means, and if you need to use it again, then you can use the acronym.

    87. RB*

      I haven’t seen “empower” mentioned. Remember when we were all supposed to empower our coworkers by giving them more authority or delegating more or that sort of thing?

      I also hate the job titles that attempt to elevate people’s positions, without really giving them any more power or responsibility, like how everyone at Starbucks is called a partner. I know it has something to do with them getting stock shares or something, but please. Or like how people are called customer service engineers.

    88. LittleMarshmallow*

      Thought leaders…

      It’s all about the balance…

      It’s ‘just’ a culture change… for this one it’s the word “just”… to me there’s nothing simple about culture changes. They’re one of the hardest things to do. It’s on my mind right now because I keep hearing this at work from managers and well… culture change usually starts at the top soooo, yeah…

    89. BC Lower Mainlander*

      One phrase that has been starting to pop up is “front loading”. As in, “We need to front load all this information to the patient to prepare them for what is going to happen.” Interestingly enough, for my office, it seems to have originated with social workers who work with our clients. Whatever happened to plain old “teach” or “explain”?

    90. Database Developer Dude*

      My pet peeve is people having a peeve about expressions I use that I find normal, but turn around and are offended if I have the same.

      What, you get to police the way I speak, but I can’t do the same? Ewww no. Go away.

    91. KitKat*

      Mine is overly familial terms for coworkers. “Work husband,” “grandboss,” or my least favorite, “my kids” for a team of reports… that kind of thing. Mostly because offices that try to get super “we’re a family!” in my experience are the ones that can easily slip to toxic positivity, exploitation “for the family,” and so on.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I actually got reprimanded at a previous job for pushing back. A boss tried to call us her kids, and I flat out said ‘I’m a grown adult, and I’m older than you. I am not your child, and not A child, and I do not appreciate you referring to me in that way.”

  2. Fikly*

    Hah. Irene wasn’t promoted due to concerns about her lack of professionalism and good judgement, and now she is demonstrating those lacks.

    Good call.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Irene is going out of her way to prove that it was the right decision not to promote her and is actively sabotaging any chance of future promotions. I would love a “Hey Irene, we were thinking of you for another position but now….not so much.”

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I would start to question whether Irene was worth keeping in even her present job if she did much more of this. Sabotaging new hires is a pretty big deal.

        1. Be kind, rewind*

          I agree. It sounds like she has done a lot to create negativity on the team. All combined, it’s probably enough for the manager to have a come to Jesus moment with her. My guess is the remote manager doesn’t even know the half of it.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Saaaame. This is worth a very stiff reprimand at the very least, but I’d start documenting to fire her if she didn’t shape up.

          1. Squid*

            Can’t wait until Irene writes in about being passed over, trying to “help” out the new hires, and then being put on a PIP.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, I had the exact same thought. Talk about sabotaging your own career through sheer determined arseholery.
      Also, OP #3, you need to deal with Irene’s crappy behaviour now. This is the kind of thing that can make a team go toxic really fast. If you do nothing, it will quickly get a whole lot worse.

    3. Bagpuss*

      And I agree that LW should definitely speak to their shared manager so they can deal with it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      That’s the first thing I thought of, this is more of the very reason she was not promoted. If she has so little faith in her company and its systems then it is time for her to move on to a “better” company.

    5. OP #3*

      I felt exactly the same way when I heard this happened! Irene really doesn’t see herself as having bad judgment and can’t accept that her pattern of unprofessional behavior (highlighted again by this) is precisely why she wasn’t selected.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Well now you have a concrete example to explain it to her. So at least you have documented that you explained exactly what you meant by her poor judgment. She won’t change, but you have documented it so when its time to fire her, you have it.

        1. Jora Malli*

          I don’t think Irene can be taught good professional judgment at this point. At least, not by anyone at OP’s company. If it’s pointed out to her that this was an instance of bad judgment, she’s probably going to come back with something like “so telling the truth is bad judgment now?” If she’s as conspiracy oriented as OP describes, she’ll probably take the supervisor’s talking to as more evidence that people are conspiring against her.

          That doesn’t mean OP shouldn’t go to their manager about it, they absolutely should, and they should keep an eye on the situation in case there are more events the manager needs to hear about, but I wouldn’t expect this to end with Irene becoming reasonable.

          1. Skytext*

            It’s not about getting Irene to become reasonable . That’s not gonna happen. It’s about documenting her unreasonableness so they can fire her.

          2. OP #3*

            Jora, it’s like you’ve put the words in her mouth. That is precisely how she sees things. And I agree, she will not change.

            In the past she was reprimanded for over sharing personal things, blowing minor things out of proportion, etc., which add stress to her colleagues. Her takeaway? That she’s being penalized for being herself and caring about her job…

            1. Squid*

              So if this is a pattern of behavior with Irene, why has it not been addressed more firmly/decisively?

            2. New Jack Karyn*

              I mean, I’m being myself when I scratch my arse and cuss like a sailor–but I don’t do those things at work.

          3. RC Rascal*

            Poor judgement, poor decision making and lack of self awareness seem to go hand in hand.

      2. Observer*

        This is fairly typical. Most people who are not cartoon level villains don’t see themselves that way.

        I have no idea what will give her an epiphany, but it sure sounds like she needs one.

      3. Sara without an H*

        Hi, OP#3 — You say you’re senior to Jane, Olivia, and Irene, and that your manager works off site. You owe it to your manager to brief them about what’s going on and what your concerns are. I’d be very upset if a situation like this developed while I was off site and a trusted senior employee didn’t alert me to what was going on.

        Under the circumstances, this is indeed your circus and your monkeys. Set up a phone call/Zoom/whatever meeting you need with your manager and let them know what’s happening.

        At this point, too, it would be a good idea to suggest reviewing why your company still has Irene on the payroll. While her work may be “generally strong,” there are plenty of people looking for jobs right now who would do good work without stirring up drama. It’s high time to let Irene go and hire one of those people.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. This is the kind of boots on the ground info a remote manager needs. Jane was concerned enough to bring it to you and you are concerned about the impact to Olivia, so please do mention it to the boss.

    6. The OTHER Othe*

      I’m still scratching my head at how she was the internal candidate and lost out to two outside candidates due to “politics”. These people weren’t even in the organization, how could this be “politics”?

      I would seriously question whether Irene could continue there, it sounds as though she has a whole wagon load of problems.

      1. OP #3*

        In her opinion, Junior Jane was “groomed” and Outside Olivia was pre-selected by hiring manager and the interview was a formality. I have made no attempts to set the record straight because I don’t want to divulge private information from within the hiring panel but also because I know it won’t change her mind.

        1. Squid*

          Have you sat Irene down and point blank asked her if she is going to have an issue working with Jane and/or Olivia? And then addressing (and documenting!) what your expectations are for Irene going forward in terms of being a good teammate? Because I feel like that’s necessary at this point.

          1. OhNo*

            Sounds like OP isn’t the manager in this situation, so probably doesn’t have the authority to take those steps.

            But as a senior colleague, OP, definitely loop the manager in on what is happening. Especially if they are remote, the chances of them getting this information without your assistance is pretty small. I’m sure they’d appreciate hearing about this issue so they can address it!

        2. Momma Bear*

          IMO even if you are not going to change Irene, you might do damage control with the people working with newly minted Jane and Olivia. Sometimes the statement isn’t for the person who really needs to hear it but the people on the periphery. Other people may be soured by the process in the future if they think it’s rigged per Insider Irene.

          1. L'étrangere*

            Excellent point Momma. A well placed “I was on the hiring panel and there was no such thing” can go a long way toward keeping this particular conspiracy theory from festering

          2. learnedthehardway*

            Seconding this recommendation. Irene has blown her right to have her personal ranking in the hiring process kept confidential, and the OP should point out to Jane, at least, and probably Olivia too, that they were selected because their skills, abilities, experience, judgement and professionalism compared better than other candidates, internally and externally. Whether it is the OP’s role to do this or their managers’, it wouldn’t hurt for the OP to point out that they were privy to the hiring committee’s decision, and it definitely wasn’t political, nor did prior relationships that the candidates had factor into the decision.

            Jane really should realize that Irene is having a bad case of sour grapes, but if she’s junior, she may not have the maturity and political awareness to understand this yet. It might be a good idea for the OP to give her a bit of a warning to be on guard against further potential sabotage from Irene.

            As for Irene, she’s just validated the decision to not promote her, and to definitely reconsider whether to employ her at all. The OP should definitely speak to the manager about the situation.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Honestly, even if those things *were* true… neither of them sound like examples of toxic teams me. Having interviews that are formalities is annoying to candidates who wasted their time on a job they were never going to get but if either of those things were true it would not mean they weren’t still the best people for the jobs. It would just mean they were identified as good fits for the jobs really early in the process. It sounds like that’s not even what happened here, but I’m just not clear on how Irene thinks saying those things makes it sound like they don’t deserve the job or something.

    7. Meghan*

      I wonder if they’ve got any documented coaching or discipline on Irene for her precious issues. To me, this would be terminable, especially if they’ve already coached her on similar things.

  3. 36Cupcakes*

    One way to encourage or gently nudge the thank you note would to make sure they have all contact names and addresses to make it easy to send. Especially important if it is a panel etc.

    1. Loulou*

      Is it common practice to send thank you notes to all the members of a panel? I never have — I’d just email the hiring manager (usually the chair of the search committee) and of course whoever I’d been coordinating with on the administrative side.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        I have always sent them to everyone on the panel and occasionally I’ve sent them to people not on the panel that I interacted with for more than a few minutes. I was early, and the interview panel was running late, so I ended up chatting with the receptionist for longer than I normally would. She got a thank you note.

        If the purpose is to thank people for their time and provide an extension of the interview conversation/opportunity to provide additional detail, everyone involved should get one. As someone who has been one well over 150 interviews in my career, I can tell you the panel absolutely compares notes, literally. If I get one because I’m the boss, but my employee and colleagues who took the same amount of time out of their day don’t because they aren’t the hiring manager, it’s not a great look.

        1. Laure001*

          Jack, I love your username! I kind of disagree with your point though, if by comparing notes I realized the candidate had sent thank you notes to everyone it would seem less sincere and more…I don’t know, too systematic to me.
          But hey, whatever works. It just illustrates the point that there is no hard rule about this thing (and this the hard stop to this comment.)

          1. Perfectly Particular*

            Funny! As a panel member, but not a hiring manager, I expect to get thank you from candidates who send them. I work in an industry where all-day interviews are the norm, and I’ve always sent an email to everyone who interviewed me. One day, that was 11 thank yous that I had to write on the plane back home!

            1. Brightwanderer*

              I always find these thank you note etiquette conversations fascinating. I’m in the UK, where I think most people would never dream of sending a thank you note, and react to receiving one rather negatively, so it’s just really interesting to me seeing how different people in the US feel about it and why!

              1. sunglass*

                A friend of mine moved to the States from the UK, and eventually someone had to tell him about the whole thank you note thing (and then explain that it wasn’t just a “thanks for the interview!” note). I don’t know if it affected his job search (not American, but an educated white British man would have a lot more innate privilege in job searching than many), but I can imagine in some contexts that the thank you note expectation disadvantages a lot of people who won’t just know about it.

                If a candidate sent me one of these notes after interviewing I wouldn’t penalise them, but I would have found it a little strange and pushy (now I’d just think they’d found some job advice and not realised it was geared towards the States).

                1. londonedit*

                  Yep I’d never encountered the whole thank-you notes after job interviews thing until I started reading AAM. Of course you send thank-you notes (or these days at least a thank-you message) if someone gives you a birthday present or if you’ve been for dinner/to stay the weekend at someone’s house, but after a job interview? No. You do the whole ‘Thank you for coming in; we’ll be in touch’/’It was lovely to meet you, thank you so much’ thing at the end of the interview, and the convention is that it’s then in the interviewer’s court. I understand that the purpose is more than just ‘it was nice to meet you’, but in British culture sending a follow-up note to reiterate your suitability for the role would definitely read as a bit desperate or pushy, or like the candidate was somehow trying to inveigle themselves into getting the job. I’m not sure it would actively harm someone’s chances, but the likelihood of whoever’s in charge of hiring thinking ‘Oh crikey, we’ve got ourselves a keen one here’ is fairly high. And that isn’t really the impression you’d want to create.

                2. Jonquil*

                  Same here (Australian). I have never thought to send a thank you after an interview, and I’ve never received any. It just isn’t a standard part of the culture. It would make you seem like a suck-up.

              2. Barry*

                I am in the UK, and had been looking to get out of an IT role that I had dropped into almost by accident and had grown to hate, and had been applying to several jobs in my preferred field (nature conservation), getting quite a few interviews but with no success, and then started readind Ask a Manager for hints as to what I was doing wrong. I got the first job I interviewed for after I decided that I should start sending thank you notes (never even realised that this was a thing before).
                Very happy with the new job (botanical field surveyor). Gets me away from the computer and outside at least some of the time, I’m working in a collaborative and friendly team, and the pay is quite a bit better,
                However, I asked some of my new colleagues whether they thought sending thank you emails was a thing, which got a definite no.

            2. College Career Counselor*

              I work in higher ed where interviews can be half-day, all day or even multiple days. I once met 53 people in a series of panel and 1:1 interviews in a single day. There is absolutely no way I was going to send 53 thank-you notes, even if I had managed to gather everyone’s email address. I am perfectly happy with responding to the hiring manager (via email–my handwriting is terrible) and asking that person to convey my appreciation for the time spent with others learning about the institution and how their role might intersect with mine. It’s very easy to forward an email to the search committee and others involved.

              1. Loulou*

                Yup, this has always been my practice too. It doesn’t seem practical to send an email to everyone you meet in an all day interview, and then I’d worry about who I left off!

          2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

            What I meant was that we compared notes to see that the person sent everyone the same exact letter. If they follow Alison’s advice and use something that happened in the interaction, it sends a great message that they took the time to write each person.

            1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

              *to write each person something different and meaningful to the interaction they had with the candidate.

              Also, TY! I love the song, but it accidentally became a social experiment, too. I can absolutely tell when someone is responding to a comment and assumes I’m a man because of my user name. PS I’m not, but I get VERY different reactions with a more feminine name vs. this one.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I know of one person on my old team where the personalize thank-you notes were definitely a big plus in her favor. She was planning to move to our city but hadn’t yet so it was a panel interview on a phone call which was slightly awkward, and everyone was very impressed that she managed to even keep track of who all spoke about what enough to make the notes as tailored as she did lol.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            I’m curious why a thank you to multiple people seems less sincere to you than only thanking the person with the most power over your candidacy?

        2. BethDH*

          I’ve never had the panels I’ve been on compare receiving thank you notes. The closest was the panel leader forwarding a thank you note that the candidate had sent to her that asked her to share the candidate’s appreciation with the rest of the committee.

          I’ll add that 90% of my hiring has been at a single place and that thank you notes are brought up explicitly as something we should not take into account by HR in the training that is required for all people on hiring committees.

          I still send them myself because you never know, but I’ll also add that I’ve only once or twice gotten one that was specific and thoughtful enough that it made the candidate stand out.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Oh man, I never track down each member of a committee for an individual thank you email – I hope this is field dependent. I usually think I’m doing pretty well if I can remember the name of everyone who was there in my email! I don’t even have the contact info for each of them most of the time.

            1. Esmeralda*

              You can address it to the chair and extend your thanks to the committee and [other groups/teams/the rest of the office]. Including a special thanks to the admin [by name] for assisting in x,y, z is good.

          2. Evelyn Carnahan*

            Yes. I’m in higher ed and I’ve been on hiring committees at 3 different places. I’ve never talked about thank you notes and have been told at 2 of the 3 places not to take them into consideration by HR (the third place didn’t have HR, which is a whole other problem). But that said, when I’ve applied for jobs I’ve sent a thank you note to everyone whose name is listed on the itinerary. I think it’s pointless but I do it anyway.

        3. EPLawyer*

          Let me just say that if I were hiring and someone sent a thank you note to the receptionist because they had chatted with them for a few minutes, that would definitely improve the candidacy. How you treat the admins is a HUGE deal for me.

          1. Loulou*

            Really??? I would find it so over-the-top as to seem insincere (ironically, I see that’s how some people from other countries in this thread see thank you notes in general!) The reason I’d send a thank you note to the chair is to thank them for hosting a business visit with me and, to whatever extent they did, organizing the interviews…making small talk for five minutes is a normal thing coworkers do and doesn’t warrant a thank you note.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I am usually the one who organizes interviews (schedules, sends related communications) and I almost always get a thank you note. But you’re right that might land weird I just made small talk.

              HOWEVER, I would notice if a candidate went out of their way to thank the receptionist on the way out. So there’s probably a carryover of “show respect and appreciation for everyone in the office” regardless of how it’s executed.

              1. Loulou*

                Yes, that’s totally different than what I thought OP was describing! Thanking the department or HR admin who coordinated your travel = basic courtesy (though I’m sure not everyone does it), also comes up naturally when you are sending along receipts for reimbursement or whatever. Sending a thank you note to someone you chatted with for five minutes = have you spoken to another human before (to me)?

          2. Sloanicota*

            Mm, see to me it seems fake, like the candidate is being a (sorry) suck-up. Being polite and kind to the receptionist, definitely a plus – being rude to the receptionist is an automatic strikeout. But sending them a separate thank you note for the interaction assuming it was pretty standard seems disingenuous to me – YMMV.

            1. Sloanicota*

              Now I would, in response to the scheduling email, try to thank them for their efforts scheduling the interviews – but almost every email I send includes gratitude and that’s different than a whole separate email just to thank. Alison has said before that the “thank you note” is usually more about expressing interest and enthusiasm for the role rather than literally gratitude.

          3. OtterB*

            Agree that how you treat the admins is a huge deal for me but a thank you note seems like overkill to me unless the receptionist did something out of the ordinary helpful. (“Thanks so much for finding the safety pin that saved me from a wardrobe malfunction!”)

          4. OyHiOh*

            My organization is in a hiring process right now. I have a weird hybrid role that’s one thing on paper and about four things in actual practice and where I’m the one making all of the initial contacts with people, organizing their schedules, updates on process, etc. I have a mental roster of those candidates who are unfailingly polite, vs those who are not.

            And also, the one member of our interview panel who unfailingly puts one of the vowels in my name in the wrong part of my name!

        4. Esmeralda*

          Disagree that it’s a bad look to send the t.y. just to the search committee chair or hiring manager or boss and not to every person individually. It’s just more email clogging up people’s in box. But then I’m in academia, where a ty to the committee chair (or no ty at all) seems to be standard.

          Particularly if it’s a substantive email — if I’m not the hiring manager or on the search committee, I’m going to be thinking, why are you sending me this? I don’t have time for this! and then I’m just going to forward it to the committee chair.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah trying to parse through this I think the problem is, on a five-panel committee, if I decided to track down each individual person and send them a separate email, 1) I wouldn’t want the bulk of the email to be identical because not unlikely to be compared and 2) I would want each email to be relevant to what that individual person discussed or raised in the interview – yet when I’ve had panel interviews, often one or two people do very little of the talking, so they’re probably getting a “thank you for your time” style email.

        5. Loulou*

          That’s interesting. I don’t send one to the hughest-ranking person I meet (like if they have me meet the dean for half an hour or whatever), just the person who heads up the search committee and who I’d ultimately report to. I do see your point, but at the same time I guess I see it as analogous to me emailing my friend to say thank you after he and his wife have me over for dinner or whatever. One person stands in for the group in this case. There may be a difference by industry in terms of how many people you’d end up meeting in a day, though.

        6. Observer*

          If the purpose is to thank people for their time and provide an extension of the interview conversation/opportunity to provide additional detail, everyone involved should get one.

          Why? The person you want to extend the conversation with is the hiring manager. The rest of the panelists? Generally not. They will give their feedback and that’s the end of it.

          Of course, if you are writing a thank you note to the hiring manager, it behooves you to ask that they convey your appreciation to the people who took the time to interview. But you actually should not be expecting to “extend the conversation” with those panelists. In most cases that’s totally not their role.

        7. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          So if you don’t have contact information for everyone is it, in your book, better to send to the people you do have and risk others feeling slighted or just not send thank yous at all? This is how overthinking things is born.

          (For myself, I always send the thank you to the person who coordinated the interview and ask if they’d convey my appreciation to the rest, unless I was explicitly given a different person’s contact information; but I can equally see why someone could take that as me asking them to do more work.)

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I think it’s a good idea to do this if you’re an internal candidate, for sure. That goes towards building relationships with coworkers even if you DON’T get the job.

      3. Lizianna*

        I do, when I have the contact info for the whole panel.

        If I don’t, I will send it to the person I have contact info for, and ask them to share my thanks with the other members of the panel.

      4. Love to WFH*

        I asked a friend who is a software engineering manager. He interviewed about 30 people in the past year or so, and none of them sent a “thank you”. In decades in the industry, he has never sent one.

        He has a vague recollection of getting one once, but it was years ago.

    2. Littorally*

      Agreed. Especially if you’re doing it particularly to acknowledge that not everyone learned it as a norm, making it as easy as possible for people who don’t really have that skill is a boon.

    3. Stephanie*

      I’ve done interviews where they won’t give out the interviewer’s contact info and everything was scheduled through a recruiter. I’m not sure if that was to prevent candidates from bothering hiring managers or what.

      1. Anonanon*

        It was like this where I was a hiring manager or on interview panels. All communications between candidates and interviewers have to go through talent acquisition. It is in part to prevent unwanted contact from disappointed candidates, but it’s more to protect the organization – it eliminate opportunities for interviewers to accidentally saying illegal/wrong/could be interpreted wrong things to to candidates outside of the interviews.

    4. Love to WFH*

      I work in IT. As a hiring manager and as an interviewer, I don’t recall ever receiving a Thank You message, and would have been disconcerted if I had. (Wouldn’t hold it against the candidate.)

      I have never sent a Thank You for an interview.

      How do people even send them? When I interviewed in person, I didn’t have email addresses for the people that I interviewed with. “Paper” mail isn’t going to reach anyone — I can’t remember the last office I was in where they made any effort to get mail to people. The only kind that ever came was junk mail. Now I work entirely remotely.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I think you’re supposed to sleuth out their email if you don’t have it – either from the website/linked in or by the email conventions of the company – or some people do ask I think. The effort is part of why it’s valuable I suppose (I actually dislike this). It’s supposed to be an email not a paper letter. When you’e only had one zoom interview I think it’s easy to make an arse of yourself – getting the name wrong or something, leaving someone on the panel out accidentally, having the email be misdirected at first because they have an unusual variant – etc. I find it easiest to email whoever I was in contact with and ask them to please “express my thanks” to Tommy Jr and Edwina but even that gets tricky.

        1. Nesprin*

          Back in the day, business cards solved all these problems- email addy + name spelling etc. Weird that there’s no modern equivalent.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I mean, there’s an email signature, but if your communication was all through HR or the admin you might be out of luck

        2. Emmy Noether*

          I don’t know about Zoom, but we do ours over Teams, and it displays our full names. It would be a smart move for the candidate to copy those down. I’d probably do that even though I live somewhere where thank you notes aren’t done. Knowing the correct names of the interviewers can be useful.

      2. Jora Malli*

        I’ve been doing hiring for several years now, and I’ve only ever received a handful of thank you notes. I’m in government though, and our hiring process is super regimented, so candidates usually only have the email address of the HR person who coordinated the interviews. It’s possible that some people have sent thank you emails to HR that didn’t get passed along, but a lot of the people I’ve hired have been people without college degrees who may not have learned about sending thank yous after an interview.

        To be honest, the whole idea of sending a thank you note in this situation weirds me out. I’m not doing them a favor that requires thanks. This was a business meeting that was just as beneficial to me as it was to them. I think putting so much emphasis on a thank you note emphasizes the “you should be grateful to your employers” attitude that I hope we as a society are starting to move away from.

        1. calonkat*

          Yes! I’ve never interviewed for a “higher up” position. All entry level or started as temp/promoted from within. But my experience was that I’d answer an ad in the paper/online, call a phone#, fill out a form, get a call, have a first name generally for the interview, and then either get the job or not. I had no idea I was supposed to send a “thank you for your time, it was lovely of you to meet with me in the lobby of the McDonalds restaurant of which you are the assistant weekend manager.”

          And if people are really only hiring people who follow unwritten rules of etiquette, then there is a reason for the lack of social diversity at their place of employment.

      3. Jennifer*

        Yeah, I work in tech and I don’t expect them when I do interviews and have never sent one (and I have a pretty high interview to offer rate, so I don’t think it has negatively affected me). I also think it’s weird when people who don’t otherwise have my email “guess” to email me. If I didn’t give you my email, I probably didn’t want you to email me!

    5. L'étrangere*

      Oh yes 36 cupcakes, that’s so helpful! I may speak English reasonably well but I have real trouble grasping names without seeing them in writing. I have failed to send thanks several times due to having absolutely no clue about people I talked with. And it used to be that most people had cards to give out but more and more companies have stopped issuing them to anyone but the more outward facing employees, which are not people who’d interview me.
      And of course in this case giving a list of contacts would allow the LW to subtly emphasize the expectation

      1. Infosecretariat*

        I’ve also worked places before where it was policy to NOT give your contact info (email address, business card, etc) to interviewees. We’d had some instances of rejected candidates using contact info to harass the hiring committee as well as candidates passing along the contact info to others in their network (“I know a senior manager at Strawberry TeaPots, Inc, here’s her phone number, pass it along to your nephew, George Gumption!” resulting in random cold calls from job seekers.

  4. WomEngineer*

    I like “hard stop” because it’s concise. I also prefer to say it early instead of (possibly) having to interrupt the meeting later.

    1. Nanani*

      I also like that doesn’t require explaining what the stop is. It could be another meeting, it could be top secret spy shenanigans, it could be a medical appointment, it could be time to paint the cat.
      Hard stop is when I need to go!

        1. ceiswyn*

          Yes. Yes they will.
          *cries in cat owner*

          But yes, I agree that ‘hard stop’ is good because nobody needs to know anything other than that you will be going at that time, whether everything is finished or not. That is not a message that should be softened.

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        Yes, super helpful to be generic! When I was a mom of young kids, I had to leave work by 5:30 to get to daycare in time, which I had to explain over and over again. Working in a male dominated field, I felt like this undermined my professionalism. “I have a hard stop at 5:30” would have been so much easier!

      2. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, explaining that I have another meeting after seems almost apologetic. I don’t need to justify having commitments outside of one particular meeting, but explaining that seems like I am justifying it anyway.

      3. Anonanon*

        Yup I agree with this. I like to use it to set up expectations for when people involved come very late to the meeting. It’s a concise way to say “hey I know you came 20 minutes late, but I need to leave by 4pm at the latest. I can’t stay another 20 minutes to make up for the time we lost.” Setting up that expectation up front helps us to pace the discussions, and gauge how much work we can fit into the meeting, and what we need to follow up on at a later time.

    2. Fikly*

      I’ve also always understood it to mean that the person absolutely has to stop at x time, rather than there being some leeway or flexibility with the end time, which is a helpful distinction.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yes. Another meeting isn’t necessarily a hard stop because plenty of meetings have some flexibility.

      2. BadWolf*

        Yep, it tells me that you’re going to need to leave abruptly if we don’t get things wrapped up by the end, not bleed over a few minutes (or more). We use it at work and I think most people use it sparingly, but appreciate when they do so I can be courteous and help wrap things up in time (or schedule a follow up).

      3. sacados*

        Yeah, that specificity is what makes it such a useful phrase!

        On a somewhat related note, in the offices where I’ve heard it used people tended to say “hard out” instead of stop — same usage, just “I have a hard out at 5pm”

        I wonder if it’s a regional difference or just an equally common variant? Just struck me as interesting!

    3. Ariaflame*

      I do wonder if the girlfriend has the issue where she has experienced pushback for being too direct as a woman, it’s unfortunately very normal for women to use softer, less direct language to try to avoid being perceived as ‘pushy’.

      1. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

        Good point! I got that a TON early career with my old boss and it took coaxing from a mentor for me to re-insert my “fangs.” I spent years tone policing myself for no reason.

      2. Snow Globe*

        Maybe??? But I’ve heard that phrase equally from men and women; I’ve never even considered it could be perceived as “pushy” in any way.

        1. penny dreadful analyzer*

          Probably the “pushy” bit is the notion that women would actually have something to do that they won’t subordinate to you talking at them for an additional five or ten or 45 minutes.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          The problem is that a woman may be perceived as pushy for using it, where a man would not. This has not been my personal experience, but I am only one woman, working in school systems; my experience is far from universal.

      3. Nanani*

        You’re right but like, hard stop isn’t the part that needs to change.
        The phrase around “hard stop” can be softened without changing the message.

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      For real. I’m out of the (home) office at 17, maaaaaaybe 18 if everything is on fire. I need my daily walk.

    5. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

      Yes! I also like to use it because it unambiguously says, “this cannot run over time,” whereas in our internal culture, it’s acceptable to be a few minutes late for your next meeting*. Of course, ymmv per org! But in ours, saying “I have another meeting” implies that you can carry 3 minutes over end time with that person’s consent. “Hard stop” means everyone is packing up 5 minutes before meeting end.

      *acceptable as long as you slack or text the organizer.

      1. Snow Globe*

        In my company, “hard stop” means you have an adjacent meeting with senior management or our federal regulators and absolutely! can’t! be! late! It is helpful to let the first meeting organizer know this.

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I think it’s an excellent way to set expectations.
      I think that OP’s girlfriend feels either:
      1) it’s an overstep-like the person who requested the meeting with them should have all the control, like they need permission to leave.
      2) of course their friend isn’t going to go over the time if they say they have a meeting and it’s insulting to imply she can’t read clock.
      Or not. But whatever it is, hard stop is the way to go.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      That’s been my experience for my remote meetings–either at the start of the meeting, or the halfway point, someone mentions that 3 is a hard stop for them.

      I am fine with “I have a hard stop” or “I need to end at 3”–but don’t use softening language that makes it sound like you might cave if people were inconvenienced.

    8. Antilles*

      Not only is in concise, it’s unambiguous. In my experience, “I have a meeting after this” can mean any of the following:
      -There’s a meeting immediately adjacent to this and the instant I close this Teams window, I’m opening another one, so I cannot stay even one more minute.
      -There’s a meeting immediately adjacent to this, but it’s not a big deal if I’m a couple minutes late.
      -The meeting is actually 30+ minutes later; I want some time to breathe/bio break/etc between now and then.

      And those are all fine, but there’s a big difference in how urgent it is for the call to end exactly on time. But the phrase “hard stop” or “hard out” makes it explicitly clear that I’m signing off at 2:30 PM and cannot stay even one more minute.

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        Also, add to your list of what it can mean “I’d really like to end 3 minutes early so I can run to the bathroom quick!”

    9. Momma Bear*

      I like “hard stop” because it is a very clear expectation. I only use it when I really do have a “hard stop” and I know that the people involved may run over. In reverse I appreciate it because I like to know when we need to be mindful of the time or not. There are also some people who will never be clear and direct and it drives me crazy trying to read between the lines. Just say the thing!

    10. lost academic*

      Standard phrase here and it’s used at the top of a meeting so people understand. No one is offended, even if someone says they have a hard stop halfway through – it lets us know if we need to adjust the order of what’s being discussed. We’re _all_ busy and we’re _all_ doing our best to prioritize a lot of constantly changing needs.

    11. GDUB*

      Also, saying “I have another meeting at 4” might mean that you could stretch your earlier meeting until 4:05 or so, but “hard stop” is much more emphatic.

    12. Jzilbeck*

      I’ve been on programs where people regularly ran over the allotted timeframe, especially when there’s no set agenda shared beforehand. So by saying I have a hard stop, I’ve freed myself to bail when the meeting inevitably is gonna go anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes past the scheduled ending time and I’ve mentally checked out by the end time.

  5. Blue Horizon*

    Re: “I know opinions differ on this but our hiring managers value it when candidates send thank-you notes after interviews, and I like to share that with all our candidates so no one is at a disadvantage.”

    This would get a chuckle from me and an “OK, thanks.”

    1. Artemesia*

      I had a last minute job in Singapore and was a little bit less culturally prepared than I would usually be with more time to prepare. I was very glad when the person who picked me up at the airport stressed that his boss made a BFD out of the correct formal exchange of business cards. I knew it was a thing in Asia but didn’t know how precise it had to be done e.g. taking the card with two hands, thanking, looking at the card appreciatively before putting it away. When I was introduced to the boss I did all that and could sense that he was a bit disappointed not to be able to make a fuss —

      A heads up on nonsense rituals like this that many new to work may be clueless about is a kindness and I would do that if I worked in an environment where not doing it really disadvantages a candidate.

      1. unpleased*

        So, as you learned, politeness rituals vary culturally. I would caution people not to consider these “nonsense.” They are in fact the grease that moves society. Every cultural group has their own. You can debate whether the ones that seem most culturally dominant are exclusive, but that points to the very fact that they are salient and important. I am sure that if you thought hard enough, you would be able to come up with some interactional things that would put you off if someone didn’t mind them and would make it hard for you to work with them.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL. I understand that but they are silly are they not? And often like the boss with the business card fetish who likes to lecture foreigners, they are about dominance games. My husband in teaching our granddaughter how to set the table, told her about always having the knife blade point in towards the plate. And ‘WHY do we do that?’ Well no real reason it is just ‘what is done.’ Thus teaching her both the rules and that rules are sometimes not for good reason but because it is our custom.

          1. Kay*

            Or worse – the reason it is done dates to medieval times when a stab from your dining partner was a thing to worry about. But yeah – agree on some of the customs being silly, and quite frankly some of them are just plain harmful.

          2. ---*

            This… is pretty dismissive of other cultures and not a good look. Just because it seems like nonsense to you doesn’t make it nonsense to them — that much is clear from the fact that it’s an understood practice across much of Asia.

            As Unpleased said, there are almost certainly practices that you hold to that indicate politeness on your end that an outsider could dismiss as nonsense. That is a subjective value judgment, not very useful, and pretty negative at that.

            1. tessa*

              Perhaps, but one of the themes of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is whether it makes sense to hold on to a custom simply because it’s a custom. (Spoiler alert: the custom in question is an annual stoning to death of a citizen in a rural town. While not at all a comparison to business rituals, the logic still holds true, i.e. keeping a custom doesn’t always make sense).

    2. Not A Manager*

      “This would get a chuckle from me and an ‘OK, thanks.’”

      Because… you think thank-you notes are worthless? Because you already know about them and you feel condescended to? Because no one can tell you what to do?

      If I were the LW and that’s how you responded, I’d for sure tell the hiring managers that you were bad news.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*


        I’m not Blue Horizon, but I find the idea that there are hiring managers who are *that* obsessed with thank you notes to be amusing, and might chuckle because of that, while thanking the person who gave me the tip.

        Tbh, I find your reaction to Blue Horizon’s comment to be oddly hostile. I don’t see anything objectionable about it and actually chuckled to myself as I read it.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Perhaps I lost the tone of the online chuckle.

          If someone goes out of their way to give me information that’s clearly meant to level the playing field, I personally don’t chuckle at them. If I tried to help someone out (when I had reason to think I was providing useful information) and they obviously dismissed me, I would take that as an indication about how they would respond to coaching in general.

          1. Laure001*

            Not a Manager, you can appreciate the feedback but also have a “moment of shared humanity” by gently (ha!) laughing at people’s quirks and singularities. It’s not laughing at the person who gave you the feedback, it’s laughing WITH the person that gave you the feedback at this little absurdity.

            1. MK*

              In this context your moment of shared humanity is probably the other person’s awkwardness*. They might very well miss the point of your gentle laughter, and even if they get it, they probably don’t want to mock their bosses, however gently, with a candidate they never met before.

              *For what it’s worth, a chuckle followed by “ok, thanks” sounds dismissive to me, so the tone can easily be misinterpreted.

              1. Laure001*

                I see what you mean, and yes, it’s a question of tone. If it’s dismissive, it won’t go out well. If it’s gentle, I think it could be a “we all have our quirks” moment.
                But you may be right… I laugh a lot and yes, never spitingly, but it can be misinterpreted.

            2. I should really pick a name*

              You don’t know if the person giving you the tip thinks it’s absurd or not.

            3. Coconutty*

              It’s not a “moment of shared humanity” if the other person doesn’t share your response, and it’s likely to make you look pretty bad.

          2. Brightwanderer*

            TBH I’m getting the impression that maybe some of us just characterise what a “chuckle” is differently! To me – and presumably the people responding positively – it’s a warm, friendly laugh, implying no mockery. It sounds like you and some of the other people responding are thinking of it more like what I would call a “snicker” or “snigger” – something a bit sarcastic, or a bit mean. Which does change the tone of the interaction significantly.

            1. MK*

              I know the difference, and I know that a chuckle isn’t meant to be mean. But, come on, in this context it absolutely implies a slight mockery (a lighthearted mockery, not mean-spirited), you are making it clear you think the company is kind of absurd. Even if the HR person understands you don’t mean it sarcastically, even if they get it’s directed towards the higher-ups and not them, it’s an awkard position to put them in.

              1. Yellow*

                Agreed. Laughter of any type in response to advice about how to improve your candidacy from someone at a company you are applying to could come off as mocking or dismissing the person and/or the company, which is just not the impression you want to make when you want them to hire you.

              2. Brightwanderer*

                “ But, come on, in this context it absolutely implies a slight mockery”

                Well, to me, it just doesn’t. That’s what I meant about the word interpretation – not that you don’t know what it means, but that for you the context has an effect on its interpretation, whereas for me it doesn’t. Apologies if it sounded like I was trying to correct you or say you were using the word wrong – that wasn’t my intention, I was more trying to highlight what looks like a difference in interpretation that seemed relevant to the difference of opinion.

                1. Anon all day*

                  But what else is there to laugh at? It’s not an inherently funny statement, just an fyi.

      2. Fikly*

        No, because that statement clearly conveys that the person saying it understands the hiring managers are off their rockers to be basing hiring decisions on this but cannot say so directly, and it’s amusing to be given a coded heads up that makes the situation clear while still not directly throwing the hiring managers under a bus.

        It’s genuine appreciation for letting me know that I have to jump through a silly discriminatory hoop, I will pay extra attention to dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s here.

      3. KateM*

        My thought was “chuckling at all those poor blighters who actually need this advice – I’m soooo much better than they are!”

      4. yala*

        I assumed the chuckle was sort of a commiserating thing? Like, the interviewer giving the heads up clearly *doesn’t* think it should be a big deal, but is Letting You In On The Secret, as it were.

        Like, “apparently they don’t let you into the bar unless you know the password, which is Swordfish, by the way” or something, I dunno.

    3. Rachel*

      Honestly, I’d appreciate the heads up but it would also put me on the lookout for other signs that management put to much value on the wrong things in their workforce. It would be a strong yellow flag for me, but a yellow flag that I’d be incredibly grateful for.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        YES. It’s rare that a candidate gets that kind of look into an org before they’re hired. I’d be thankful and also file it as a yellow flag, for sure.

      2. NYWeasel*

        The whole situation wasn’t sitting well with me and you’ve perfectly summed it up here. I’m far more concerned that candidates are skilled and adding good dynamics into my team than I am about whether they send me a thank you note or not after an interview. “Yellow Flag” is the perfect description of how I’d receive that warning.

      3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Honestly, I’d appreciate the heads up but it would also put me on the lookout for other signs that management put to much value on the wrong things in their workforce. It would be a strong yellow flag for me, but a yellow flag that I’d be incredibly grateful for.

        Likewise on the yellow flag. Maybe orange. I’m hearing that Management is more invested in gestures than results, that they feel employees need to be grateful and curry favor, and they’re probably living in the past in a myriad of other ways.

        I probably would cancel the interview, expecting that I wouldn’t be able to navigate their expectations effectively, unless I were already unemployed and had literally nothing else of value to do with the time.

      4. OP1*

        This is my other concern! I don’t want to bring something up that looks bad. I’m really trying to push back on antiquated ideas, and for most things we are progressive, but this is such a weird thing they’re hung up on. I think it’s because our higher ups are closer to retirement.

        1. Jora Malli*

          Could you bring this conversation up to them? Not as “I asked the general public about you specifically” but as “I was reading a workplace forum and many of the people there expressed that they would be very concerned if they found out that hiring managers put a lot of weight on whether or not they receive thank you notes.” They may think that you pushing back is just a weird thing about you, but saying “this is a shift in people’s thought processes about thank you notes after an interview” might get them thinking.

          As I said above, I’ve always thought the process emphasizes the idea that people should be grateful to their employers, which can be a harmful mindset.

        2. OhNo*

          Well, if you think it would land badly, you can also offer that context! Personally, if the candidate seemed like they “got it”, by which I mean they seemed to also think the practice of thank-you notes was a little silly, I’d add a quick “We’re working on it!” in a light, joking tone. That would (hopefully) convey that you are respecting the personal quirks of the hiring managers, while still trying to get them on board with a new direction.

      5. Smithy*

        Here to echo the yellow flag comment.

        In the last place I worked, the one person who made a big deal about thank you notes also admitted that the guy who sent them (and who he was impressed sent them) happened to know someone/have a friend who already worked where we did. This really mattered to me because our interviews were all coordinated by HR and we didn’t have a practice of handing out business cards during interviews. So this guy being able to identify email addresses to send a thank you note (vs sending a thank you note to your HR recruiter that may or may not be passed onto the hiring manager as I also learned about that place), said as much about him knowing someone who already worked there/could give him email addresses.

        As a workplace – it didn’t overly prioritize thank you notes but it did make it clear that this guy placed a lot of value on a whim of networking. So if it was an issue worth flagging for an whole employer….

    4. MK*

      If someone seemed sincerely to be trying to help me, even if I didn’t need it, even if I thought the whole thing was silly, I wouldn’t want to come across as laughing at them.

      Your “chuckle” wouldn’t affect the ridiculous hiring managers one iota. It might make the person trying to help you feel stupid. Or put them in an uncomfortable position, because, even if they agree with you, they can hardly join the laughter about their bosses.

      1. ceiswyn*

        That’s a very strong take on a candidate responding to their interviewer’s warning about outdated attitudes they clearly think are just as silly as I would.

        If all your interviews are terribly serious affairs where nobody ever shares a wry chuckle, then that’s a whole Soviet parade of red flags about your workplace and I’m so noping out of there..

        1. MK*

          You are making references to a totalitarian regime because I suggested mocking the hiring manager with a HR person you never met before is not appropriate, and my take is “very strong”? Ok.

          1. lizesq*

            Right? I see this chuckle both ways but are we really gonna throw out “Soviet parade” so nonchalantly about something that doesn’t really matter? Especially considering current world circumstances? Sheesh.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I must admit that just the last week or so I’ve seen people using a new variation on the phrase: “as many red flags as an X university halftime show.” I assume that means the school color is red.

          2. MissElizaTudor*

            It’s not referencing a totalitarian regime in relation to what you said. It’s referencing a Soviet parade in relation to the number of red flags, since a Soviet parade would have a lot of red flags. It isn’t comparing your comment to totalitarianism or anything.

          3. Ceiswyn*

            Eh? I’m just saying that there are an awful lot of red flags.

            Your interpreting a metaphor for ‘a lot of red flags’ (which is not original with me, by the way, I’ve seen it in a few other places around the internet) as being some kind of accusation of totalitarianism… would be another red flag.

            1. Anon all day*

              Though I agree it’s a common turn of phrase, if you don’t realize why it’s particularly tone deaf right now, I’m not sure what else to say.

        2. Esmeralda*

          Except that the statement isn’t “I think this is silly hahaha let’s laugh at how dopey my colleagues are,” it’s “here’s a non-optional social convention of this employer and I want to make sure everyone knows it so that everyone has a fair chance.” To my ear, the equity issue is paramount and even if I think ty notes are ridiculous, I would hear that stress on equity and I would be sure to not laugh.

          I mean, if I were the search chair I wouldn’t hold it against anyone who chuckled about it. Eye rolling, sure, I’d take that as info about the interviewee.

    5. Kay*

      You may want to reconsider this response. Reading this I was a bit confused about intent, meaning and how this might come off. I couldn’t tell if it was a jovial “I best dust off my card collection then!”, an oof, thanks for fighting the good fight sister”, or if you were doing a hard internal eyeroll along with a “seriously lady?”. Obviously in person there is a bit more context but there is still a high likelihood this response might create awkwardness.

  6. Fiona*

    #3 This is not rude. It’s assertive. Your girlfriend is maybe less used to feeling able to be assertive but there’s nothing wrong with it.

    1. Julia*

      Or she just thinks a different approach is appropriate in this particular context. This is somewhat unrelated to your comment, but it came to mind in thinking about the girlfriend’s actions: sometimes I feel like as a society we’ve moved from “women are wimps” to “women are socialized to be less assertive and need to counteract those societal forces” and the latter is just… the former with more words. She is possibly quite assertive.

      1. Fiona*

        Look, no. If you worry that stating a fact makes you sound unaccommodating – about something you cannot accommodate – you are not that assertive!

      2. MK*

        “Or she just thinks a different approach is appropriate in this particular context.”

        Well, that’s not what she said, she said “hard stop”, a perfectly neutral expression, is disrespectful, not even in this instance, but generally.

        Also, saying “women are wimps” is pretty much stating that this is an inate weakness of the female gender, all of them, that they can’t help. Saying “women are socialized to be less assertive and need to counteract those societal forces” is correctly attributing this characteristic of some women to conditioning and expressing the opinion that they can and should resist it. It’s not the same thing at all, in fact the meanings are opposite.

        1. Julia*

          I do see where you’re coming from; that is the usual interpretation of the difference. But I disagree with it. IMO, they both ascribe a characteristic to a group. They’re both generalizations about women’s characteristics – the latter is careful to express an opinion on *how* those characteristics manifest, but really when you think about it, why does that matter so much? We all know that most personality characteristics are a complex mixture of nature and nurture; that’s not that insightful. It’s still generalizing about women like we share a personality.

          You were careful to add the word “some” before the word “women”, but I’ll note that my principal objection to this language is that people usually do not bother to qualify their generalizations that way. It is *true* to a point that socialization creates gendered differences, but gendered differences are not as pronounced or universal as people like to think. This sort of language encourages us to think of women as a monolith and I find it unhelpful.

          1. GythaOgden*

            It also reinforces the idea of ‘internalised misogyny’ or false consciousness, which I personally find a little condescending, as if women are still fragile and more subject to being imprinted on than men are.

            I agree that it could be possible to have internalised misogyny, but it’s also becoming code for ‘anyone who happens to be female who disagrees with me is obviously suffering from IM’, which is still making out that we women don’t have the capacity to come to our own conclusions about ourselves and our gender identity, and how that identity does or does not factor into our own opinions. It also still positions femininity as weaker than masculinity.

            As for the Soviet metaphor, yeah, when the past dynamics of totalitarianism is playing out in such a horrific way before our very eyes, people need to be mindful of what they’re saying. Maybe retiring that metaphor for a bit is the way to go here.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You know what, I don’t even hear “hard stop” as assertive. I hear it as purely informational and completely neutral.

      1. unpleased*

        Exactly. I have some clients for whom a hard stop is a real thing, so I check in with them at the beginning of our meetings as a matter of course, and I also have my own hard stops. Setting that expectation using a frequently used phrase is an informational kindness.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Exactly. It’s the answer to the stated or unstated question, “How flexible are you regarding the scheduled end-time for this meeting/call?” Purely housekeeping, and it allows for privacy or confidentiality in the response.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            LOL at “exactly.” As usual, my kingdom for an edit button! Or more coffee.

      2. Clisby*

        Same here. It’s helpful, especially if stated in advance. That way, I’d know whether I could count on attending some other meeting, or getting to an outside appointment on time.

    3. Student*

      “Your girlfriend is maybe less used to feeling able to be assertive…”

      Women often get told that when they do things a man does, they are “rude” but the man who did the same thing moments ago was “assertive”. It’s not likely that the girlfriend doesn’t “feel able to be assertive”. She has probably actually gotten push-back over minor phrases like this, and probably has gotten push-back over this exact phrasing from somebody. That push-back has actual professional consequences for her in a way it does not for the OP, a man. The guy who wrote in will probably never get push-back for using the same terminology, but please don’t be so dismissive when women tell you they get treated differently for things that seem very trivial like this.

      One of my experiences like this had to do with a guy, Fred, who’d been putting wrong information into a joint report we were working on, and my boss Rob. Part of the critical information Fred hand put in was incorrect to the point where it was quiet embarrassing and would reflect badly on all of us, and it needed to be corrected. Think underestimating the whole project’s cost data by accidentally leaving out a digit in several parts of the cost estimate – so instead of teapot expenses being listed at $10,000 they were $1,000, rolling up to a full cost estimate that was off by more than 50%. The cause of the mistake was obvious and the fix was obvious, but the fix had to come from Fred because it was his part of the report and I didn’t know what the missing digits were. I had pointed this out to Rob repeatedly, because he was supposed to handle interactions with Fred – Fred was actually from a different company, and Rob was supposed to be the sole point-of-contact with him from our end. Rob had a lot of other priorities, though, so he just didn’t pass along my feedback.

      Eventually, we’re about to get on call going through a very late draft of the report, planning to submit it to the client soon. Fred is an extremely prickly, mean person who really doesn’t want to work with Rob and I on this report at all, but the client had required it. I spent a good three hours of time before the call rehearsing how I’d draw attention to the critical error. I just wanted the error fixed; I didn’t want to score points on Fred, or pick a fight, or whatnot. The error was critical enough that, if I couldn’t get it fixed through Fred and Rob, I’d need to have my name to be removed from the report because it was that professionally egregious and would reflect badly on me to not put my foot down. The error was in the core information of the report that the client wanted, about their core business, so there’s no way I’m going to just let it slide.

      Sean and I do the call with Fred. I point out the error as gently as possible, not casting blame, trying so hard not to make a “big deal” of it while staying firm that of course we need to fix it before it goes to the client, try to talk in a “we’re all in this together, how can I help out” friendly, calm, non-adversarial way. It takes some back-and-forth, because Fred absolutely does not want to admit he could do anything on Earth wrong. However, once Fred actually looks at the part of the report I’m trying to get edited, he immediately recognizes that it’s an obvious, big mistake where he left out a digit, so the numbers are off by a factor of 10. He agrees that of course this is an obvious error with an easy fix. He blames an intern working for him and says he’ll get it fixed easily in the next revision, and doesn’t make any further fuss about it in the meeting. I signed in relief – I got the report fixed before it got to the client, and Fred’s response was downright professional and minimally prickly for him.

      My relief was premature. Later that day, my boss Rob summoned me to his office. Rob chewed me out for pointing out Fred’s error in the meeting. He told me how rude I was for pointing out that Fred had made an error! He told me I need to be more polite to Fred in all interactions going forward. I was devastated, in no small part because I had spent all that time rehearsing to try to make my phrasing to Fred as polite as possible. I had literally been looking up ways online to point out a factual error in the most neutral and non-offensive way possible. I had been so pleased that Fred hadn’t flown off the handle and had quickly accepted the info was wrong and needed to be fixed! I actually asked Rob if he had any specific advice about how I should’ve phrased it. I won’t surprise you that he had no advice to offer.

      This made me quietly furious for another reason, though. I found it utterly galling and deeply sexist in the bigger picture of the project work to be told I’d been rude to Fred for asking him to fix an obvious and critical error in his work.

      You see, earlier in the project, when we were pulling together the numbers that Fred got wrong, Fred and I had to do a business trip together. Wherein Fred proceeded to talk about his fondness for strip clubs in front of a room full of external business contacts, who stared at him like they couldn’t believe he would bring something like that up during work (as did I, but I said nothing in the moment). Then Fred, sensing the deep awkwardness, decides he’s going to dig in and try to deflect the awkwardness onto me in a super-bizarre way. He proceeds to tell the room that I’ve obviously spent a lot of time in strip clubs, with a wink-wink kind of tone. I have never spoken about strip clubs with Fred and I’ve never been in a strip club myself. I’m barely on speaking terms with Fred; we are not friendly in any way, we are business rivals forced to work together for a client. I am mortified, because it’s clear he’s trying to imply sexual things about me to a bunch of business contacts. But this all occurred in Las Vegas, and while I wasn’t going to let the comment just stand, I also didn’t want to say anything that might be misinterpreted by all these business contacts as casting moral aspersions on strip clubs because it was likely at least a few of them might have business ties. I made a very flat comment that turned it into an industry-specific joke everyone in the room could laugh at together, without accepting or encouraging the sexual implications Fred was throwing around.

      And then Fred launches into making up a fantasy story about what my bachelorette party must’ve been like. You will probably not be surprised to hear that I never had any such party, certainly never would talk about such a thing with Fred, and found this creepy as all get out.

      I related all of this to Rob and my management chain back at my job after the trip with Fred was over, and pushed them to take measures to make sure I didn’t have to put up with this kind of crap from Fred again. Fred, of course, never apologized and never suffered any kind of consequences. Rob made supportive statements, but took no real action other than to make himself Fred’s project point-of-contact and then never actually pass information between us, like my earlier attempts to correct the error.

      But Rob told me that I’m too rude to Fred for telling him he made a critical error in the report, and insisting we get it fixed. I’m rude. I, who put in hours to trying to figure out a way to not to hurt Fred’s little ego, and actually got Fred to make the fix we needed, am rude.

      I know it’s all nonsense and puffery and ego trips. I know the only way to get an obvious error fixed is, ultimately, to be clear that there is an error and to be unambiguous about fixing it. If you’re not willing to call something incorrect an “error” or some other direct term, it lets people ignore the issue. I know that if Rob had caught the error, he would’ve just told Fred that Fred had made an error and needed to correct it, without thinking about the tone of the message for more than 3 minutes (he certainly would never put in 3 hours to trying to figure out how to say it, like I did).

      This is an extreme example of the kind of tone policing women experience from men. There’s Freds in the world who are prickly, want attention and deference from women, and try to make everyone bend around their bad behavior. There’s Robs in the world, who maybe aren’t as bad as Fred but sure enable him and expect women to be, first and foremost, polite to the world’s Freds so that they don’t get any inconvenient Fred bluster to deal with themselves. Because they view dealing with Fred bluster as women’s work, I guess.

      1. L'étrangere*

        This made my head spin, Student. I can’t begin to express how much sympathy I have for what you went through. It might be worth a separate question to AAM? But I’d also suggest to be sure to keep in a private place copies of the wrong report, wrong by a factor of ten (!!!). I’d also put in a safe place any emails there might have been mentioning this error, whether initially or recently. Fred threw the intern under the bus as initial reaction, but you’re not safe if knowledge of this episode comes out further (like the intern attempts to defend themselves). I’d also encourage you in the future to always, always put any such thing in writing, no matter who you may be working for. Even if you get ambushed into a discreetly oral discussion, you can send a confirmatory “per our discussion yesterday/last week, I am proceeding with the agreed course of action/your direct order and…”. Just so you have a record you can refer to, internally or otherwise.

    4. Smithy*

      While I am in agreement that “hard stop” isn’t rude – I am wondering if this is more a case on the girlfriend debating whether or not this is a client or type of meeting where it is not a good business decision to schedule when you have a hard stop.

      In my line of work there are a some types of calls/meetings I have when I’d never schedule them for hard stops. The power differential and the nature of the meetings would have me rather schedule a 45 minute call that could have room to go over by ten minutes rather than an hour call with a hard stop. For the most part my calendar is not so tight that it’s impossible to typically avoid this – but whenever it could happen, I’m going to offer up an early morning/late night/or abbreviated meeting before that. For that type of meeting, if it does go over 5-10 minutes or 30, it’s usually always a good reason – and cutting it off short (even if that’s technically on time) never helps me.

      So it may be that this language is a work jargon pet peeve, it may be an assertiveness issue – but I could also see her valuing not scheduling this kind of commitment when a hard stop is needed. That she thinks that kind of business scheduling for that task or arrangement isn’t best practice. Overall, it may just be a professional maturity thing where she can’t entirely identify what’s normal but can be her pet peeve, what’s a gendered issue that she’s perhaps dealt with more than her boyfriend or even other women, or what’s her take on an industry specific best practice.

  7. Dodubln*

    Regarding LW #1:
    In all of my years as a hiring manager, I have gotten exactly one thank you note after an interview. Granted, we don’t hire very often, we have a small staff, with extremely low turnover. Regardless, I am not someone who is expecting a thank you note after an interview. But the one I did get was hilarious to me. Let’s pretend my name is Jane Smith. The thank you note I got was addressed as such: “Dear Smith”, and went on to say the usual stuff. Not “Dear Ms. Smith”, or even “Dear Jane”. Just… “Dear Smith”. Because my real last name is unusual, it made it even more hilarious to me, I have to admit. I did not hire this candidate, but it was not because of her thank you note “faux pas”. However, if I HAD hired her, I did wonder if she would call me “Smith” every day.

    1. Katie*

      I have had exactly one thank you note as well. I did hire the guy (not because of that). It was a mistake. Horrible at his work and disappeared one day and never came back.
      So alas, thank you notes will not tell you someone will be a good employee.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. It’s nice when I get them, but I don’t base the decision on them. Sometimes the note is to the person’s detriment – too cloying and anxious. It doesn’t convey them in the light intended.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Most of my hires have been scientists or technical people. If I judged them on sending a thank you note, most of my roles would have gone unfilled. It’s concerning that HR personnel–many of whom are extroverts who are focused on communication–cannot fathom that there are jobs where the best people may be the polar opposite.

    3. Nom*

      I have a fairly unusual name and my first name is also a last name. Let’s say my name is Lee Ticonderoga. I once had an advisor in HS say “Ticonderoga is an interesting name. Is that a family name?” Confused, I said something like “Yes…?” I would later realize she thought Ticonderoga was my first name.

  8. Lemon*

    Loving the names and creative alliteration in #3, made the story so easy to follow :)
    Btw Alison – looks like there are 4 questions in this post and not 5, wanted to point it out in case it’s a quick fix

    1. Skytext*

      Junior Jane, Outside Olivia, and Inside Irene almost made me snort my coffee out my nose lol! It was also great because it made it crystal clear who the players were—I didn’t have to go back and reread to figure out “who was Jane again?”

    2. fhqwhgads*

      There’s a report a typo link above the comment box. Using that will probably lead to quicker fix.

  9. katkat*

    TOTALLY off topic, but #3: Im not native in english and took “poisoning the well” literally in the headline. I imagined someone pouring rat poison into the colleagues well because they didin’t get promoted, and thought: “well, i’ve read stranger things here in AAM”

      1. 867-5309*

        Not just going to HR but going because they were DATING the person in HR, who then fired the person from whom said food was stolen.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*


      Sometimes I really do worry this blog has broken my brain in terms of what shocks me.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I AM a native English speaker, and given the content of some of the letters Allison gets, I had the same thought for a moment!

    3. Jora Malli*

      I mean, we did have the person insisting that they had to clean the coffee pot with a product that made everybody sick not long ago, so it wouldn’t even be the first poisoning on the blog.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I think I’ve actually found the white powder in question, assuming it’s not actually dish detergent. It’s a little white jar, unlabeled, that came with my water distiller (I can’t find distilled water for my CPAP for love or money these days, people keep buying out the shelves- you know it’s bad when the giant has to put a sign saying “one jug per purchasing customer” on the shelves). The associated instruction packet very clearly states that you have to pour the water out after using the cleaner. If it is drunk or used in a CPAP/humidifier/etc., you are to go to the hospital IMMEDIATELY because you have been poisoned.

  10. Margaretmary*

    I definitely like the idea of being clear about the fact that a thank you note is expected and I think it can be said in a way that doesn’t sound like you are telling the children to be polite. I am Irish and never knew this was a thing. I checked some Irish sites and some say do, whereas others are saying stuff like “as an employer, I’d find this pretty weird and might think the candidate would be “too intense”. I would definitely be wary of sending thank you notes, in case it would either be seen as “canvassing” (I don’t know if this is the case in the US, but here it is normal for job advertisements to end with “canvassing will disqualify”) or too pushy or just annoying (I’ve had interviews where they’ve told me “we’re interviewing 30 people today;” I can’t imagine they would want 30 thank you notes clogging up their e-mail or arriving in the post), so it would definitely be helpful to get an idea of the culture of the company and whether thank you notes are seen as polite and a show of interest or annoying and pushy.

    I’m not an employer, but personally, I’d be inclined to say something along the lines of “just to let you know, thank you notes are very much appreciated here” or “our hiring managers always like a follow up note, thanking them for their time and letting them know you’re still interested. I know this differs by company/culture.”

    1. JustKnope*

      I’m so intrigued by the “canvassing will disqualify” language in your job postings. What does canvassing mean in this context??

      1. After 33 years ...*

        In my world, it means “Do not contact anyone in the organization about this position after your interview, in an attempt to influence their decision”. We don’t put this term in our advertisements, but we do make it clear that candidates must not interact outside the set interviewing process.
        Thank-you notes to the Department Head wouldn’t qualify. Private notes to individual hiring committee members might, and notes to people not on the hiring committee would. We caution candidates to avoid that and ensure that all communication goes through the “official” channel. Many universities use similar procedures to avoid influencing (e.g. set questions from the interview panel), so candidates usually are aware of that.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve had some interviews recently where the recruiter handles all scheduling and coordinating. I wonder if this is to prevent the aforementioned canvassing.

      2. Margaretmary*

        I would take it to mean making any attempt to influence the hiring manager’s decision. I think generally stuff like asking other people to put in a good word for you. Ireland is SMALL, so there’s a pretty good chance some candidate will know somebody who knows somebody on the interview panel or somebody who would have some influence in the industry.

    2. OP1*

      My brother told me about a thank you note he sent recently, and if I’d received it, I would think the candidate was flirting with me. Oof.

      I don’t mind if people send a follow-up where they elaborate on a topic from the interview or highlight something about their abilities, but flattery will get you nowhere with me.

      1. Squid*

        Oh no. Please tell me you gently educated him! Also, I would love to see a redacted version of that “love letter”…

  11. Seeking Second Childhood*

    LW4, Also remember that some people change email addresses & phone #s frequently. You’re on LinkedIn, so watch for activity there and comment naturally. Maybe send an occasional message about an article relevant to the work you did together, especially where it applies to your current work.

  12. Policy Wonk*

    LW 1 – I would probably create a brief message to candidates on the process and include the info there. Something like candidates should expect:
    1. phone screen. If successful you will then have
    2. panel interview. Following the interview, the address for thank you notes is: If successful you will then be scheduled for:
    3. site visit and team interview…

    So the idea is there, but you aren’t pushing it on applicants at the same time you are telling managers not to require it.

      1. Jora Malli*

        I think the point is that it *is* expected at this organization and including it in standard hiring instructions makes it more likely that good candidates won’t be disqualified because of something silly.

        I’d rather OP focus on educating the hiring managers about why their focus on thank you notes is not good, but if that doesn’t work, something like this couldn’t hurt.

        1. OP1*

          Yeah, while I’m trying to get through, there is one stubborn hiring manager who gets hung up on the strangest of things, and the thank you note is one of them, so it’s better just to prep candidates. My predecessor had to go over her head one time, because she dismissed a great candidate for a petty reason. The CEO took the hiring decision out from under her.

        2. JustaTech*

          And just on a practical side it would be so helpful to have an address! One time when I was applying for jobs I never got anyone’s email address during an interview (“This is Jane, this is Fred”, no last names) so the best I could do would be a paper mail letter, and right around then the advice was “never paper thank you notes; they’re too slow and you look out of touch”.

  13. Rigamaroll*

    Whenever I hired, I didn’t expect thank you notes- it was a “oh nice addition” but never swayed my decision.
    My director was very focused on people sending thank you notes… UNTIL we had an interview where we were both present conducting an in person interview (way back before Covid). The candidate gave us a typed, printed thank you letter as they were leaving! They had it ready to go in their folio along with resume copies.
    It was particularly hilarious because it was not a good interview- the candidate barely let us ask a single question and spent the entire time complaining about their current role (in a completely unrelated field). The thank you letter talked about how much they had learned about the role from the conversation and how it solidified their feeling that they would be a great fit. We literally never talked about the position.

    1. Squid*

      Re #1: I have found myself moving away from more formal thank you emails (I ditched the hard copy notes several years ago) and more toward a quick “thanks again for your time and interest; looking forward to staying connected” message along with a connection request on LinkedIn. The only time I do tend to send formal emails anymore is when I am interviewing internally – I think it goes one step further toward strengthening my network and opening lines of communication for potential future connection points if the role doesn’t work out in my favor.

    2. Clumsy Ninja*

      We hired someone once who was a terrible fit. And most of us knew that from the working interview. But one person really pushed for her hire, and it turns out it was all because the candidate had sent her a thank you note after meeting her at a job fair. She was SO impressed by that. We literally looked at her and said, “That’s the advice they’re giving all the students now. It’s nothing special!” Sigh…..that was a hard lesson for her to learn.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh right Alison has confirmed in the past that she means an email. It is confusing that we still call it a “note” as if we’re expecting it to come in the mail. Mail would take too long to be relevant to the decision and would be a bit stiff. I did receive a mailed thank you note once when I was on a hiring committee and I think we all thought it was a bit formal (did not affect our decision either way though).

    2. Dr. Prepper*

      Nope – the pundits will recommend formal, personalized, hand-written thank you notes in envelopes. These are supposed to be written immediately after the interview(s), and if possible, given to the admin who arranged the meetings for delivery, as the office mail process may take weeks. Some even say if you have time before your return trip/flight etc. write them in the lobby and deliver before you leave the building.

      In contrast, the thank-you email should ALWAYS be sent, hence the need to get all the interviewers business cards with their emails, or even better, a list of emails from the admin.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No, definitely not! Do not do handwritten postal notes (they may not get there before a decision is made, or they may sit in someone’s inbox for months) and do not write them right after the interview (that looks perfunctory). Email them the next day-ish.

  14. Rosacolleti*

    #2 where I live, a ‘hard stop’ would be like a ‘hard no’, an indication that a line was being drawn.

    1. anonymous73*

      And that’s what it is. You’re making it clear that you can’t go over the allotted time. It’s not rude or disrespectful, it’s fact and providing expectations.

    2. MicroManagered*

      And that’s what it means. Saying “I can meet with you at 2 but I have a hard stop at 2:45” means I can meet with you, but under no circumstances can that meeting go past 2:45, so with that information, if 45 minutes isn’t enough, we’ll need to look for another time.

      1. Artemesia*

        And in a larger meeting, it also alerts that you may just quietly leave the meeting at that time even if it continues. To do that without having made clear you have a hard stop would be rude. And to disrupt the meeting with goodbyes is also rude.

  15. Richard Hershberger*

    Thank you notes: I think these people are confusing best practices from the candidate’s side with best practices from the interviewer’s side. Yes, in some industries in some places it is absolutely best practice to send the notes. A candidate in such circumstances is well advised to do this. But in the vast majority of cases it has nothing to do with the job itself. The interviewer should not care, and certainly should not consider a mandatory box to be checked off.

    Suppose a candidate shows up to a live interview wearing brown shoes with a black suit. Is this a good idea? No. Or at least so my wife assures me. Should it affect the candidate’s chances of being hired? I can imagine circumstances where good fashion sense is important and this would be a legitimate consideration. But mostly, no. For most jobs it makes no difference whatsoever. For an interviewer to reject a candidate because of this would be irrational and pointlessly limit the candidate pool.

    1. Don't kneel in front of me*

      These are my thoughts on thank-you notes, too. I’m sure these plenty of positions where a nicely worded thank-you note shows that you have good interpersonal skills, writing skills, or something else like that. But, I’m an engineer. Much in the same way that you don’t care if a clothing designer can use (insert engineering jargon software here), it shouldn’t matter if my shoes match my belt in an interview. You’re not hiring me for my fashion sense or my writing ability. You’re hiring me to do math and design industrial machines.

      1. Red 5*

        I think this is a large part of it. My field is communications and relies a lot on soft skills. Thank you notes after an interview can be a way for me to show off that skill set. But if I was applying to be a software engineer, unless there was a reason I thought that they would value someone with soft skills in that position, I would rather they know how good I was at the software. So to me, a thank you note is a valuable tool in my kit for showing off how good I am at what I do. For a lot of people, not so much.

        Either way, it shouldn’t be mandatory and it shouldn’t bias you toward or away from one candidate or another.

  16. NewYork*

    If I were told, or HR even hinted that I should send a thank you note, I would view that as a place I would not want to work

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s fair. I’ve actually found some success/joy in my career in being someone who can work with people who have outdated biases and turn them around a bit, so I might find that as an indicator of a fun opportunity. But that might be a personal quirk. I can see it being a red flag as well.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      Then I guess you would appreciate the HR person doing you a favor letting you know that some people there expect this fairly common practice so that you can disqualify yourself.

      1. Nanani*

        It’s never been common in a lot of places.
        And if you’d rather have a perfunctory note than a qualified person, your staff is the one that suffers so…?

    3. What She Said*

      I’m thinking the same thing. If a thank you email/note was expected I’d be seriously questioning whether I want this job. So if interviewers can use this a deciding factor (yes, I know they shouldn’t) then so can I. I’m usually down for a simple email thanking them for their time and looking forward to hearing from them. Nothing more.

      Also, at the beginning of my career I totally would have done it, hated doing it, but did it. Now, nope.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Isn’t the simple email you’re referring to considered the thank you note? I don’t think there’s a distinction being made here between a thank you email and a note card being sent via regular mail. I think this is about whether or not to follow up with a thank you of any kind.

        1. Clueless #26*

          I think the level of effort and time commitment is different. An email takes 60 seconds. An actual handwritten note would take me a trip to the store to purchase stationary. Also there is a large part of the workforce that have never sent or received a personal letter.

    4. Clueless #26*

      As would I. I’d assume leadership thinks a little bit too much of themselves rather than down to earth and genuine.

  17. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #4

    You mentioned the company went under. Depending what went down during that process, it’s possible your mentor just wants to distance himself from the whole thing, and that it has nothing to do with you personally.

    This happened to me at a previous company. I worked with someone for 13 years and who was my mentor for most of that time. He really shaped my career, as well as my ways of thinking and acting on things. We were close. Not true friends, of course, but close in that we worked together the entire time the company was in existence, shared friendly banter, knew a little about each other’s lives, commiserated sometimes, and worked well together.

    The beginning of the end started maybe 18 months before actually closing. When it finally came, all the senior managers and the CEO went out to dinner to just kind of reminisce and wind down. At the end of the night my mentor said goodbye to me and we all left. For months afterward, I’d email him with a career question or just to say hi, maybe once a month or so. I never once got a reply. It was incredibly disappointing. I finally realized when we said goodbye that night he’d said, “Maybe we’ll cross paths in the coming years and I won’t recognize you” (I was slated to have weight loss surgery a couple months after the closing). It dawned on me it was a true goodbye and he had no intention of keeping in touch with anyone associated with the company, not even the CEO who was a friend. As someone who was part of the process of the company closing and working like hell for 18 months along with the CEO to try to save it, I think it felt like a personal failure to him and he just didn’t want to be reminded of it; he needed distance and closure. When later talking to the former CEO on a personal level, he talked about how the company’s failure felt like a black mark on his record and he felt personally responsible. It really wasn’t. It was a matter of not being able to raise the sorely needed capital.

    So, I guess I’d say to think about what happened when your company went under and how close your mentor was to the whole thing. Maybe it took it’s toll and he just doesn’t want any reminders of what used to be, which is no reflection on you.

  18. WulfInTheForest*

    Isn’t “poisoning the well” an antisemetic phrase? We might not wanna use that language anymore, just saying.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’m pretty sure it was just an obvious method of harming people to anyone who drank well water. My personal imagery for the phrase is a dead animal rotting in the well.

      1. Littorally*

        Right. In an era before germ theory or the knowledge that you had to boil water to make it safe, a poisoned/contaminated well was essentially a death sentence for the community that relied on that well.

        A book I read as a kid — I want to say it was Treasure Island, but it’s been ages — had a villain spit in a well as a massive middle finger to an entire group of people.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      It is anti-Semitic in the sense that it is one of the vast array of things that Jews have been falsely accused of doing. It is not anti-Semitic in the sense that it is peculiarly associated with accusations against Jews.

  19. Just chiming in*

    Re: Q1, and thank you notes… I’ve been on multiple hiring committees in the past two years, and have actively discouraged colleagues from privileging the candidates who sent notes over those who did not. I think they go into the “nice, but not necessary” bin…though we have found some notes to be illuminating. Examples: The set that seemed to have been pre-written and scheduled to send *during* the interview. The set that seemed to reveal the candidate’s bias (interviewers who appeared to be from a minority demographic group in our area got brief and bland notes, while majority-appearing members got gushy “we really connected! I would love love love to work with you!” notes). And my favorite, the thank you note that presaged a multi-year series of very long personal letters and phone calls from someone who was weirdly fascinated with a member of our team (the candidate wanted to be my colleague’s best friend). Eeeek…

    Most recently though, one of our unsuccessful candidates wrote a thank you note that was followed up by notes “politely noticing, to provide feedback on our process” that none of us thanked them / responded to their thank you notes. Um. I didn’t know that was a thing, though I did appreciate knowing that we dodged that bullet.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      One time, when I did do a thank you note, I did get a response. I was very surprised. But I think it was easy, all electronic. Didn’t get the job because it wasn’t that good of a fit. I might have turned it down, because over lunch, the man who would have been my boss made a categorical statement that certain pictures were faked. (APOD’s always tell how photos were made, especially if it took several shots then combined or just extremely good planning (and some luck))

    2. Esmeralda*

      We’ve gotten ty emails that absolutely turned the candidate from Top Three to Nope. Racist or sexist or homophobic or weirdly inappropriate — something about it being email, I think, leads some people to let down their guard. Usefully, for us.

    3. OP1*

      Part of the reason I don’t want a thank you note is because I don’t want to encourage a conversation outside of “here are the details of the job/interview schedule/process, etc.” I don’t want them to feel like it’s okay to pester me about why they haven’t heard anything when I’ve already explained I won’t have an answer until next week. Replying to a thank you would definitely not happen for me!

  20. anonymous73*

    #2 your GF needs to lighten up. There is nothing disrespectful about telling someone you have a hard stop. It provides a clear expectation that you can not go over the scheduled meeting time. Direct does not equate to disrespectful.

    1. Everything Bagel*

      And a even if she’s not comfortable using the term, I hope she’s not getting offended over other people using it.

  21. RFlaum*

    I think the thank-you note thing varies by field. I’m a programmer, and nobody in this field sends thank-you notes. I’ve been interviewing prospective programmers for years, and until I started reading askamanager I didn’t even know thank-you notes to interviewers were a thing, and when I mentioned it to a co-worker at first he thought I was joking.

    1. OP1*

      We’re hiring an IT position right now, and I expect none of the people involved will ask about any thank you notes. Thank goodness.

  22. Purple Cat*

    I love “Hard Stop”. Clearly lay out expectations ahead of time. If a more senior person in the meeting says it, I think it also helps convey that the meeting should be ending *for everybody* on time and that’s a benefit for all attendees.
    We’re meeting heavy at my work and they tend to bleed and it’s frustrating to work around.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Me too. If there’s a deadline or an expectation, just be clear about it. I think the phrase “hard stop” helps to define very clearly that the time really has to end at a certain time and there can’t be any going past it.

    2. Kay*

      Me too! I often have a packed schedule so I’m always having to use this term!

      It also lets people know that if we have an important agenda item I need to be present for – we best stay on track. I started having to use it liberally with someone who simply couldn’t, or wouldn’t, run meetings on schedule. Interestingly, I noticed a few others voicing the same scheduling constraints anytime this person was running a meeting. Funny enough, towards the end of the year that person managed to do a much better job of keeping things on track!

  23. Edie W*

    This was my thought as well — women are sometimes penalized for directness and I could see this as the girlfriend’s (maybe unconscious) response to that.

  24. Tomato Frog*

    Language pet peeves are fine if only people would realize that their aversion does not mean that the thing is objectively bad, wrong, rude. I get so weary of people being like “If you sign an email ‘Best,’ you’re a condescending jerkwad” or whatever. We’re all out here doing the best we can in the terrible medium of email communication.

    1. Littorally*


      Having pet peeves is totally fine, but you gotta recognize that’s what they are and not project the worst possible intentions on people whose only crime is not using the language you prefer.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Oh that reminds me that “best” is also one of mine haha.

      But absolutely. Some of these things we just pick up from assimilation and don’t realize they’re annoying. OR are only really annoying because they’re so pervasive – or because we were annoyed once by one person who did them and carried our peeves over.

    3. Kate in Colorado*

      Exactly. In my field, it is common for email signatures to say “Very Respectfully” and I very frequently see people put V/R in its place. This is a huge pet peeve of mine because I think 1) email signatures are generally set up to automatically appear in your email, so why shorthand something that you literally type once and 2) I feel typing out respects looks a bit more genuine than abbreviating it. Along that same line, I also hate seeing “TY” instead of “thank you” because actually saying thanks expresses gratitude (to me) more than TY. Again, my pet peeve and I know this isn’t the “right” way to do it! :)

      1. HQB*

        V/R (more commonly V/r) is a standard abbreviation in the military; most military and ex-military people I know would find it weird to write it out. It would be like writing out “id est” for “i.e.”

      2. Very Social*

        Oh my goodness, thank you for explaining “v/r.” I see it all the time, but never coming from someone I feel comfortable asking about it!

    4. JamminOnMyPlanner*

      I end most of my emails with “best” or “all the best.” I always see people say it’s pretentious or sarcastic sounding, but I find it to be the best option. I don’t use “thanks” unless I’m actually thanking someone, and “sincerely” sounds too formal to me for most emails.

      I could always go with “love,” I guess…. :)

  25. BA*

    LW3 – YOU NEED TO SAY SOMETHING. Let your manager know immediately for sure, as it is quite possible that you’re going to lose Olivia if things persist. And you say you are senior to all three, so I’d also let your manager know that you’ll be keeping an eye on Irene since you’re closer in proximity. And then you can, and should, say something to her directly.

    And as someone else pointed out, too, ensure you and management do whatever necessary to ensure there’s no retaliation from Irene.

  26. DataSci*

    I much prefer “hard stop” to the vaguer “I do have a meeting right after” for a number of reasons:

    * It conveys that the deadline is not flexible. Lots of us have been a few minutes late to a meeting because the previous one ran long, and depending on the relative prioritization that can be okay! Not all back-to-back meetings require leaving precisely at 2:30 instead of 2:32 or 2:35.

    * It allows for reasons for the stop other than another meeting. Maybe that 12:30 to 1:00 window is the only time you have to get lunch before 3 pm. Maybe you need to go pickup the kid from daycare and they start charging late fees, by the minute, starting at 5. Maybe you have to catch your train home and the next one isn’t for another half-hour! Any of these are perfectly acceptable reasons to indicate that you will be leaving the meeting at the scheduled end time, no later.

    * It’s direct and not apologetic. “I do have a meeting right after” suggests that if you didn’t, OF COURSE you’d be willing to stay as long as they wanted, vs what is likely the reality that if you didn’t, you’d stay longer but be internally grumbling about poor meeting organization and not valuing time to actually get your work done. Or maybe that’s just me.

    1. Veryanon*

      I use “hard stop” all the time – a lot of my meetings are with lawyers, and if I don’t set the boundary right at the beginning of the meeting, they will talk talk talk until the cows come home. Nothing against lawyers, but they do tend generally to be a very chatty bunch, especially when they’re billing you in 15 minute increments. :)

  27. kiki*

    #4 This actually reminded me that a mentee emailed me 3 weeks ago and I need to respond! In this instance, it has absolutely nothing to do with him and everything to do with me– I’ve been going through an intense/busy/stupid patch at work that’s been all-consuming. If I were in my mentee’s shoes, I know I would be worried that I had done something wrong to offend my mentor, but it’s enlightening to be on the other side and see that this is 100% not about the mentee at all.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s so hard to think about how your own overload might be perceived as disinterest on the other side. I have four hiring processes running concurrently right now that I’m managing (along with all the other work I do when I’m not actively hiring) and I’m killing myself to try to keep communications with candidates timely. Some days I want to be like “they can wait” and then someone emails me to followup and I remember how anxious they are. I definitely drop that ball with internal communications at times because at least those people can like…see with their own eyes that I’m busy and it’s not personal.

  28. Hiring Mgr*

    I agree completely that it’s pointless to require thank you/follow up notes, so i think that’s a pretty easy way to compensate for someone not having been taught that sort of etiquette. But what about areas where there might be similar cultural differences in experience or learning but that are more crucial to the hiring process (Resumes, interview approach, questions asked, preparation done, etc. )?

    That’s where it gets tricky imo.

    1. Nanani*

      That’s why it’s important for the people on the -hiring- side to be flexible and aware of these variations.
      It’s part of hiring for what you actually need, and not the superficial cruft that usually just signals similar backgrounds (in terms of things like social class and country of origin, as opposed to the work experience kind) rather than actual skills.

  29. Kate Kate*

    Could OP #1 possibly hand out blank, preaddressed and stamped thank you cards? Job searching costs money, especially entry level, and some people might not have funds for this. And i agree with the line that not everyone has the same job search education.

    1. Evelyn Carnahan*

      Alison is totally right that the expectation is for emails, but knowing the people I have known who think thank yous are important using a pre-addressed card would just be second to not sending a thank you at all. They would just judge the candidate for sending something that they were given, and now preference would go to people who used personalized stationary or something.

  30. Greenfordanger*

    Are thank you notes an American thing?. I have hired hundreds of people over the course of my career and while a few of them sent nice acknowledging emails after, I never received a thank you note. And I wouldn’t want to; the relationship with a job candidate is professional and not social. I’m interested in discovering if Canada – or at least my part of Canada – which is a northern Territory – is an outlier on this or it is an American thing?

    1. Metadata minion*

      Yes, going by comments to previous questions about this, they are an almost exclusively American thing.

    2. Esmeralda*

      They are a US things.

      And email is almost always the medium. Handwritten notes are not expected in general. (Maybe in some places, or by some people.)

    3. Baron*

      I’m in southern Ontario, less than an hour from the U.S. border – thank-you notes are a thing here, but we’re very American-influenced in this area, obviously. The Territories are likely different.

    4. UKDancer*

      Yes definitely a US thing. Not a think I’ve ever come across in the UK and I’ve only heard about them on this site. I thank people for gifts and for hosting me socially but doing so for an interview would be weird and socially divergent from the business norm. It would seem overly enthusiastic and too keen on the job.

      Obviously it’s useful to know that in US this is more of an accepted custom should I ever want to work in the US or for a US company.

    5. OP1*

      We had a person from Colombia apply, and she didn’t send a thank you. I explained, again, that not everyone is taught the same thing. People were so surprised. “But she went to college in the US!” And? People in the US aren’t taught the same thing, either. The lengths these folks will go to in order to maintain their need for a thank you email….

      1. NNN222*

        Hell, I’m from the US and went to college here and was never taught to send a thank you after a job interview. They’re just not expected at all employers or in all fields. In fact, I’ve gotten a job offer within 24 hours of final interviews at most of the jobs I’ve had post-college so I haven’t even always had the opportunity to send them once I found out they might be expected.

    6. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I know some retail and private sector workers who use them, but it’s not a thing in public sector or p-12 education here in the East as far as I can tell.

  31. Lyra Silvertongue*

    This whole thank-you note thing is one of the weirdest US norms that I’ve heard about, to be frank. Why are we out here thanking paid professionals for deigning to interview us due to their own staffing needs? What is this Miss Manners circle of professional hell, you’ve given me an interview, not a toaster for my wedding gift, why am I writing to thank you for it?! Hire me or not, but I’m not about to grovel over the opportunity any more than I had to in the interview itself.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Well, America is the land of “Be grateful that you have a job.” (I say this as an American who has both sent thank you notes and openly laughed at the gratitude phrase.)

    2. Orange You Glad*

      One problem I’ve seen too is that since the thank you is just another item on the interview checklist for the candidate, they rarely come across as sincere. I’ve received thank you notes addressed to a different company/manager because the candidate is clearly copying/pasting the same message to each interviewer. I’ve stopped paying attention to them because they shouldn’t matter and they are more likely to make me think negatively of the candidate if they make a mistake in the message rather than make them stand out in a positive way.

      1. OP1*

        Yes! This! It’s the same reason I don’t want a cut-and-paste cover letter. Put effort into it or don’t do it at all.

        1. OtterB*

          I haven’t changed jobs often in my career, so haven’t interviewed much, and the time I’m remembering was before either internet or email was common. I wrote back to the hiring manager saying something on the order of, “On the plane home I was reading the material you gave me, and I realized there’s a part of the organization’s work that we didn’t discuss but that I have experience with. Attached is a table of contents and introduction for a report I co-authored for a project in that area.” Not just a generic thank you, but as Alison says, continuing the conversation. I was happy working for that organization for 10 years.

          I can’t remember if I sent a thank you after interviewing for my current position. Maybe? I don’t think there was anything too customized about it if I did. But the interview had been very thorough.

          1. Red 5*

            Same thing here. I always use the thank you note as an opportunity to just say a couple of those “OH, I should have said THIS” kind of things, or follow up on something we mentioned, or just close the conversational loop in a way. To me it’s no different from sending somebody a memo of “just to summarize the meeting we just had and the action items we said we would do, so we have it in writing because nobody has a good memory these days including me.”

            I don’t know, I’ve never really seen it or treated it as groveling for a job or showing any kind of deference or supreme gratitude. It’s just the proper vehicle for a couple acknowledgements or comments that make sense at the end of that particular interaction. I know I sent a thank you email after at least one round of interviews for my current job, but I can’t remember if I did it after each round (probably not). But it wouldn’t have been just “thank you for your time, I hope you liked me.” I’ve got too much to do for those kinds of notes, and if I didn’t get hired for not sending it, I wouldn’t fit in there anyway.

            1. Red 5*

              Because I save everything, I just checked and of the three rounds of interviews I went through for the job I have now, I only sent a thank you message after the second one. And it was because I had a question about the hiring process that I hadn’t thought of during the interview itself. So in the end it was really an email asking a question, but I started with “thank you” so it counts.

              I think people on both sides of the thank you note issue for job interviews tend to make them into something they really don’t need to be and that’s how you get the boiler plate depersonalized stuff that nobody has time for.

              1. Parakeet*

                Yeah, I’m pretty meh about them – and sometimes confused about when to send them, if I’m not sure if there’s going to be, say, another round of interviews – but I’m confused by both the camp that acts like they’re an absolutely mandatory basic politeness that of course everyone should know to do, and the camp that acts like they’re self-subjugating, groveling monstrosities. It’s a follow-up note!

    3. Parakeet*

      “Thank you note” is kind of a misnomer – if you read some of the posts in the “thank you notes” category on this blog, you’ll see that they’re supposed to be more like follow-up notes than thank-you notes.

    4. NNN222*

      I think that might be part of why they’re becoming less expected, especially in the current job market. There’s more of an understanding that the company is courting you at least as much as you’re trying to impress them.

  32. Vanny Hall*

    I keep thinking about this thank-you note issue, and I just can’t agree. I mean, I do agree that you shouldn’t use it to automatically disqualify job candidates, yes. But I don’t see it as a piece of etiquette that has to be learned and could therefore easily be overlooked by those not privileged to have familiarity with professional norms. It’s an automatic speech act, an important part of a conversation as much for the “I’m still interested in the job!” part of the message as anything else.
    Think about it as a conversation:
    1. You apply for a job
    2. They invite you in
    3. You thank them/let them know the conversation confirmed your interest (or, you politely withdraw)
    4. They then let you know if they want to see you again/hire you or not.

    Skipping #3 feels like skipping a major piece of the conversation–like responding with total silence when someone thanks you for dinner or gives you a compliment.

    Too many employers skip #4, and they shouldn’t. But applicants shouldn’t skip #3, either–especially when email makes it so easy.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “But I don’t see it as a piece of etiquette that has to be learned and could therefore easily be overlooked by those not privileged to have familiarity with professional norms.”

      I’m sorry that’s just not correct. Nothing in the job interview process is implied or automatic. And it’s not a conversation, it’s a process. By that logic saying thank you when you leave the interview (which is I think more automatic for most) would cover #3. The expectation for a thank you note is not natural – as evidenced by the fact non-Americans (who definitely have conversations) think it’s quite odd! It’s something ingrained in our culture perhaps, but that culture still has to be taught.

      1. Lance*

        And often isn’t taught. Certainly not in my high school that I’d ever observed, nor even in the business-oriented university that I went to! I’d barely even heard of them ’til this blog, and I’ve lived in the US my entire life.

    2. OP1*

      If a candidate ends the interview with “I look forward to hearing from you” or doesn’t send me an email dropping out of the process, that’s enough of a message to me. I figure you’re in consideration until you tell me otherwise or we reject you. The only time I need you to affirm you’re still interested is when I first reach out, because you may have found something else since you applied.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        +1. There’s one point in our hiring process where the next step requires a chunk of time on the candidate’s part so I usually ask them to review the job description and salary and make sure they’re still interested before they confirm. But I specifically ask. And attach the document to review. Otherwise their continued participation is the confirmation of their interest.

      1. TyphoidMary*

        like even if you are a full Chomskian UG innate grammar believer… nobody “automatically” knows to say thank you until they’ve learned it from their speech community

  33. Anonononononononymous*

    re: thank you notes

    I’m getting ready to interview for a promotion within my organization. The folks on the panel will likely be people I work with directly. Do folks think thank you notes are necessary in this kind of situation? Or would it be weird to exit the interview, walk into my office, and send a thank you email to the person in the office right next door to mine?

    1. Squid*

      When I interview internally, I typically wait until COB or the next morning and send a short email thanking them for their time and interest. Not weird.

  34. HLKHLK1219*

    I’m sorry, but in reading Letter 2, did anyone else feel like it was describing a potential swinger encounter/afternoon threesome? No, just me? Ok, sorry about that.

  35. Critical Rolls*

    I’ve been out in the working world in the U.S. for long enough to be considered mid-career, I come from a white-collar background, I have an advanced degree, and I STILL hadn’t heard about thank-you notes being *expected* until relatively recently. I think it’s just a bridge too far. I’ve argued in favor of the value of cover letters but thank-you notes really just hit my buttons in terms of both “secret expectations” and “power imbalances.”

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      For those who are pro “Thank you” notes, my question is “where does this end?”

      Do I owe the intern who held the elevator door for me a thank you note?
      Do I owe HR/Payroll a thank you note for my paycheque?
      Do I owe my current supervisor a thank you note for welcoming me back tomorrow (or Monday as the case may be)?
      Do I owe my spouse a thank you note for not leaving me today?

      When they’re compulsory, they’re also stripped of all meaning; they become a thoughtless manner tax.

    2. How About That*

      Nah, with the advent of email it’s easier than ever to show this bit of courtesy and take the chance to enhance your candidacy with little effort. It’s like people who weren’t taught tipping conventions, someone should do them a kindness and tell them.

    3. Trixie Belle*

      What Allison and others are describing, which sound like follow-up emails after a meeting-like interview where you spent time with the people who would be hiring you and they showed you around their workplace – I have always done it, since email has existed in my realm. I would never ever think to call those “thank you notes” or mentally categorize them as an “etiquette” thing. I wouldn’t search for someone’s email address to write one or send them to a dozen people on a team to say that I had done it. But if I already had an email exchange with the key person before the meeting, I would consider it the natural next step a day or so after the meeting.

      I think to continue to call them “thank you notes” – if what they are is follow-up emails – makes people think weirdly about them.

  36. 2Legit*

    LW#4, I feel you, because I am you! I got ghosted by an old mentor who was not only my mentor, but my SECRET CRUSH!!! I didn’t reach out to the guy through multiple channels like you did, only through email. It had been years since we had spoken, but I asked for his input on a project I was doing (I’m a freelancer & I was doing a project related to the field he’s an expert in). This was when the pandemic was really bad in our state, and his workplace was hit hard by the shutdowns.

    Time passed, months passed, & I didn’t hear from him. During this time, I was thinking of all the scenarios – is he working? Is he sick? Is he ok? Did he get my email?

    Eventually, I did confirm that yes, I did send it to the right email address.

    Months later, after all this analysis I was doing in my mind – did I offend him? Did I say something wrong? What could I have done (nothing)… I decided to reach out again, by email, wishing him well with a work project. (His work gets a lot of public exposure.) No ask, no request, just saying that I hoped it went well, hoped he’s ok.

    I have heard nothing, but the fact that I have had no resolution in my mind about why he never responded to me… it is a sticking point! I get why people are frustrated about being ghosted! Add the romantic feelings that I have on top of it, and you really don’t get closure. How people can get ghosted when they’re IN a romantic relationship, that must really suck.

    So I am throwing myself into projects as much as I can to try to get past this, move on from this. I wouldn’t have thought about these feelings I had for this guy (really, they’ve been there for years) had it not been for all the downtime of the pandemic… it was kind of like a “what do I have to lose?” type situation… throwing it out there to see if he would take the bait and see that I wanted to establish a friendship. Maybe he just didn’t get it, I will never know.But I feel you OP! I get it! Be well!

  37. Also Cute and Fluffy!*