updates: pumping during a training, boss annoyed by flexible schedule, and more

Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. Pumping breast milk during a virtual training (#4 at the link)

Thanks so much for publishing my question! There were many helpful (and funny) suggestions and I thought I would provide an update.

The short version: turning off my camera to pump worked out fine; I was still able to participate and no one seemed to have any issue.

The longer version: While the day-to-day need for me to go off camera and pump was fine, the training itself was… problematic. For me, at least.

The premise was to encourage new ideas and ways of thinking by letting go of past experiences, and “shape your reality” via purposeful statements and affirming language. They wanted you to identify a past experience that was influencing the way you approached a problem, and then they would lead you through some questioning/conversation to help you “move past it.” They didn’t want this limited to work issues – in fact they really encouraged deeply personal revelations, the more intimate the better. All kinds of things were brought up: substance abuse, childhood poverty, traumatic deaths of loved ones…

None of the facilitators were therapists or psychologists. It seems incredibly irresponsible to me to have unqualified individuals stir all this up in employees and then just send them on their merry way. And of course you don’t HAVE to share anything personal, but there was a vastly different response and level of engagement with those who did. They were warmly thanked, praised in the larger group, etc. Those of us who kept things more superficial/work-related, or who didn’t seem to be drunk on the kool-aid, were obviously discussed by the break-out facilitators after each day ended and identified as “not engaged”. That way whoever facilitated your break-out the next day was aware and could prompt (target?) you more aggressively.

If you questioned or challenged the premise there were comments made like “this can be really hard to get” and “you may want to dig into what’s blocking you” – overall the implication was that if you were not onboard it was because you either couldn’t comprehend the ideas or were too scared to change.

Anyways. Some people seemed to get a lot out of the training. For me overall it was a negative experience and one that has me questioning the judgment of our senior leadership. But I was able to pump no problem, and in fact it was beneficial to have an excuse to go off camera when I could no longer refrain from rolling my eyes!

2. My boss is annoyed by the flexible schedule she already agreed to

Thank you for publishing my letter; I can hardly believe it was 4 years and a pandemic ago. The talk that I was anticipating during my review never actually happened, and I just proceeded as if all was well, leaving at 4:30 to take care of family needs but always keeping my work quality and output high. I especially appreciated the advice of a few commenters to try working more “visibly” when I was in the office earlier than others and in general; I was instrumental in a huge initiative for my office, resulting in several sizeable grants, and was asked to take on a larger profile around my organization in relation to the project, so my contributions were really clear and any complaint over a 30-minute schedule adjustment would seem petty.

Of course the pandemic turned everything topsy-turvy. Once life became more manageable, I got serious about moving on. I had started job searching prior to the pandemic when my boss – without a clear reason she could articulate – declined to support me for a promotion even after my successes on behalf of the department, but I had to table my efforts while juggling work and remote schooling for my pre-schooler. I approached job searching with the mindset that I knew quite well both my value and my ability to manage work and family effectively, and would suss out during interviews how prospective bosses handled requests for flexibility and schedule accommodation. I started a new role 2 months ago (promotion, higher pay) that I am really happy with for many reasons, but primarily because this new department’s culture seems to value results over butts-in-seats, management inspires rather than monitors, and responsible flexibility is modeled and supported by the department head.

3. Friday good news (#3 at the link)

New job continues to be amazing. I was previously known for being impatient and bitchy when frustrated, and in ten months, that hasn’t happened once. The culture is so collaborative and supportive; everyone really brings their best selves and checks their ego at the door.

Last week I told my boss that my three-year goal is to make it to the C-level. Response? “Cool, let’s see what we can do to set you up for success when something opens up.”

I hear things continue to slowly implode at the old job. Jake is now Head of Teapots and there’s been 80% turnover in the teapots department since I left. Can’t lie, I appreciate the schadenfreude.

4. Employer requests four weeks of notice (#5 at the link)

I ended up getting a job offer the same week you published my letter. I don’t start until March 9, but that’s because I’m taking a week off in between my old job and new job – thanks to my standard two week notice period that I referenced in my email.

One factor that popped up just before I gave my notice was that my grandmother had a stroke. I had already been planning on working three days from her house that week, so when I gave my two weeks notice I basically told my employer that if they wanted me to work the two weeks I was happy to do so but I would be working the first week from my grandmother’s house (insinuating that otherwise we could end my employment then and there). They were fine with the remote work arrangement and were very understanding about the whole situation.

But then things got weird. I started hearing some things from coworkers ranging from pretty questionable (a coworker’s husband – who is a member of the organization – helped negotiate her salary) to very shocking (I am the first person not to get fired from this role in six years). So I feel very lucky that I started job hunting when I did because that place is FULL OF BEES! I don’t start my new job for a couple weeks, but already it’s night and day. The HR representative is kind and communicative; they are completely remotely onboarding me (no awkward masked pickup in the conference room); I feel valued… completely the opposite experience compared to my old job (like the time that no one added me to the all staff team chat for a full year after I started).

I attribute my spidey sense on when to get out to your site – I may not have known to start planning my escape without all the lessons I learned from you and I really feel like I dodged a bullet here.

{ 101 comments… read them below }

    1. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

      Seriously. Pumping breast milk turned out to be the least of OP’s concerns. And now I’m side-eyeing the newish CEO whose idea this training was.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        BTW, **love** that username. I’m still using “we have received a Notice of Intent to Flounce” when someone tries to provoke a reaction.

    2. Ope!*

      Specifically it sounds like Scientology auditing. Members are often pressured to bring Scientology into their workplace too, so…. yeah

      1. kitryan*

        To me it sounded like Landmark -not that there aren’t similarities w/Scientology, cause there totally are.

        1. Raboot*

          It looks like Landmark does have Scientology in its background so, a “yes and” situation

          1. kitryan*

            Yes indeed. They’re all kind of cousins/siblings in emotionally manipulative grifting. I think Landmark pushes itself as more of a ‘corporate tool’ than Scientology does, generally, and it doesn’t market itself as a religion, so I think it’s more likely to squeeze itself into a work training mold between the two.
            (i hate them all)

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        As soon as the OP said “blocked” that’s what I thought.

    3. RandomLawyer*

      I was literally going to ask if the Boss in #1 was a scientologist or something because all that “blocking” language sounds eerily like them. Regardless, Run OP. Run.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I was on board with it until private life stuff got brought in.

      I have a number of behaviors that stand out in my workplace. Shortcuts I won’t take, compromises I won’t entertain, techniques I won’t use. To the lay person, it would seem to boil down to “Sola likes to do things the hard way” or even “Sola has a masochistic streak,” but if we dug into the minutiae, the real rationale that would come out is “I’ve had peers get themselves fired doing that.”

      There’s value in reflecting on the past professional background events that govern current professional actions, but bringing private life into it is Fifty Shades of Icky.

      And I’m glad LW1 was able to pump off camera. A win for humanity!

      1. Ariaflame*

        I wonder if anyone was tempted to put as their trauma, “I was at work and my bosses brought in a group of people with no qualifications in mental health who then tried to get people to share their most intimate traumas in a group setting. I found this highly unprofessional and upsetting.”

        1. EPLawyer*

          Definitely would have said “what is blocking me from moving forward is the trainers won’t let me move on until I reveal something personal.” Okay, maybe I would not have been that brave but SOMEONE should point this out.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            If it was Scientology-based—and you better believe I would have looked it up beforehand—I might have said, “Well, as Leah Remini likes to say…”

            I bet I would be excused from the training before I finished the sentence. >:)

        2. quill*

          I would love to think that I would actually say that, but odds are I’d just end up not being able to talk and get marked down as uncooperative or not actually attending.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        This is where being deeply immersed in an obscure hobby can really pay off. Ask those probing questions and the answers will turn out all to be tied in with early baseball. A past experience that affects how I overcome problems? Let me tell you about my gradual realization about how little was Alexander Cartwright’s contribution to baseball. How long do you want me to keep talking about it? I’ll bet I can last longer than you can. I take this sort of nonsense as carte blanche to drone on endlessly in just the way that under any other circumstances I restrain myself from doing.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          If there weren’t an ocean between us I’d absolutely love to bring you in to our monthly meetings. A) I really would love to hear your interest and B) would much rather hear it than that manager from another department who will go on and on and on about how he’s had a hard life.

          (I mean, granted he has, but to hear about it every single month during ‘any other business’ is doing my head in)

        2. Oakenfield*

          I love this.
          Historical dress in 12th century France…?
          Hours of info on that topic in this head!

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            oooh please could you do us a presentation in the weekend thread? I’m fascinated by historical dress, textiles, artistry, technical aspects of the dressmaking. ….

      1. kitryan*

        Which borrowed heavily from other, similar ‘self improvement’ groups, so there’s a whole constellation of these sorts of groups that use emotional cathartic energy/experiences (not exactly sure how better to describe) to substitute for real therapy and to make people dependent on the group.

        1. UKDancer*

          Sounds ghastly. I hate people at work who want you to talk about your feelings or share personal stuff. It just makes me curl up into a little hedgehog. I much prefer training courses where we stay professional and stick to tackling professional challenges.

          1. kitryan*

            They’re terrible. I went to a Landmark ‘friends & family’ ‘graduation’ evening because the person I was dating was big into them and they have this thing where ‘graduates’ of a ‘class’ are encouraged to bring their loved ones so that they can be marketed to and emotionally manipulated for 3 hours in the guise of ‘celebrating’ your loved one’s accomplishment in completing the course. Really, it’s just to basically hold you all hostage and hard sell you on taking the weekend intro course. Super hard sell.
            They wormed their way into the leadership of my martial arts school (at the time) as well so getting business persons to push them on their network would be par for the course.
            In case it wasn’t obvious I have very strong feelings about allowing randos to basically provide untrained, unlicenced, very expensive bad therapy on people (and then turning those people into unpaid labor themselves).

          2. SnappinTerrapin*

            I attended a leadership seminar sponsored by a police academy. The presenter wanted to talk about the strength of vulnerability in a leader. I believe in the general concept, BUT…

            Most of the examples he gave involved revealing personal weaknesses, rather than professional challenges. He was insulted – and responded in kind – when I told him there might be some merit in sharing those things with reasonably well-adjusted folks one was already close to, but that it was unwise to be too open with people who don’t really need to know intimate details of one’s life, especially if they are already known for undermining their peers and leaders.

            I don’t remember what his “qualifications” were, but he thought it was ridiculous when I told him it wasn’t a good idea to lend one’s own knife to a known back-stabber.

          3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            (Wishful thought)

            Company: ‘tell us what is holding you back mentally!’

            Me: *dumps massive tome on the desk* here’s all my mental health issues. Volume One. You think you can do a better job than the professionals then go ahead.

            (The actual book would be Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy repeated 20 or so times)

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              hmmm “what’s holding you back mentally?”
              – nothing at all, except that I’m particularly badly suited to working for somebody I can’t respect, for a salary that hasn’t changed since we changed from francs to euros early this century, with no overtime or bonuses even when I’ve pulverised my previous productivity record and garnered several compliments from clients.
              Would that work? I mean, they want people to be sincere, right?

      2. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        If they bring out the branding irons, RUN! (Seriously, Google NXIVM for an account of THAT little feature in their “women’s empowerment” program!)

        But all kidding aside, this sounds as potentially dangerous as it is unethical. There’s a very good reason why professional organizations for counselors and therapists have strict codes of ethics and insist that their members adhere to them. Done wisely and well with the help of a skilled, ethical counselor, unearthing and examining traumatic events in one’s past can indeed begin a desperately-needed healing process. But done in a cavalier, irresponsible way by unskilled pseudo-therapists, this can make the problem much, much worse. (And yes, people HAVE committed suicide under those circumstances.) It was absolutely wrong of your company to have imposed this program on their staff: if I were you, I’d look very closely at their overall level of judgment, especially when it comes to HR matters. Because their judgment in this case was six feet under!

    5. Orora*

      To encourage people to open up about deeply personal, possibly traumatic experiences in a work setting is wrong. To do that under the tutelage of people who are not therapists trained to help the person deal with the fallout is reprehensible.

      It’s a liability. If someone reveals they have substance abuse problems or a medical issue, and then they are disciplined, you as the employer now have knowledge of these circumstances. Do you need to discipline the employee? Do you need to be aware of ADA concerns? You’d better be.

      Short answer: My personal trauma is not my employer’s business, even if it DOES have something to do with my job performance. An employer’s concern is the employee’s actions, not the employee’s psyche.

      1. Observer*

        To encourage people to open up about deeply personal, possibly traumatic experiences in a work setting is wrong. To do that under the tutelage of people who are not therapists trained to help the person deal with the fallout is reprehensible.

        Well, your first sentence explains why the second is happening. Because no ethical and properly trained therapist is going to do this.

    6. Em*

      I don’t know if Landmark does corporate training like this but it sure sounds like some Landmark bullshit to me… so yeah, cultish.

    7. Echo*

      Yes, it’s a literal cult recruitment tactic! The way it works is the cult now has a private or possibly-incriminating piece of information about you that they can use to control you.

    8. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I would feel really uncomfortable sharing stuff like that with coworkers and I’m pretty open.

    9. TrixM*

      I’m the kind of horrible person who would be highly tempted to graphically describe some of my (actual) traumatic childhood experiences and say something like, “So yeah, that’s why mentions of [children’s movie] in the workplace make me withdraw. It reminds me of X and Y [specific events]”
      Just let it all land with a big smelly thud right in the middle of the room and leave it there to marinate.
      Of course, I wouldn’t do that in case I traumatised other people in the “training”, and I feel no need to reveal private info to colleagues (or anyone). But if there were one-on-one sessions, I would be highly tempted. Set yourself up as a quasi-therapist? How do you like it now?
      Wow, I can’t express how much this whole thing enrages me. Just stick to the “we all have different communication and working styles – here’s how to find common ground/problem-solve/develop strategies” kind of thing at work, thanks.

  1. OP4*

    So this is going to be fun. When I wrote Alison with my update, this ended up being only the tip of the iceberg. My ex-manager gave me the silent treatment on my last day in the office, but another employee gave me a 45-minute drama dump of everything I was leaving behind. Highlights include scheduling time to fire my predecessor on the (public) office calendar after she stood up to management about a decision she made.

    So far three of us have quit and when the third employee gave her notice, they tried to throw more money at her to convince her to stay. When that didn’t work they resorted to bullying and intimidation and eventually looped in the org’s national president to make a personal call. When she heard about the opportunity, she told my coworker that of course she should take it! There was never any kind of public announcement about any of us giving notice, and members and staff were left in the lurch since they didn’t know we wouldn’t be there any more unless we told them ourselves or they heard through the grapevine.

    Since then, the three of us have moved into new positions in (what seem to be) normal organizations. We still get the occasional text from former coworkers about the continued level of crazy (most recently, the bully admin accused the youngest staff member of littering in the parking lot) and pride ourselves on getting out early. My new manager prioritizes open communication and collaboration and so far seems to be AMAZING. She personifies the characteristics of a good manager and empowers her staff to make decisions and take actions.

    Once again, thank you SO MUCH for your column over the years and helping me hone my sense of what’s acceptable at work and when you need to hit the emergency eject button.

    1. Beth*

      Your old job is so crazy, I just had a terrible mental image of the youngest staff member having a litter of kittens in the parking lot.

      So glad you’re in a better place.

    2. Melanie Cavill*

      Regarding your update –

      Did you mean literal bees, or…? I’ve a) never heard that idiom before and b) have had a wasp’s nest in my bedroom wall in the past, so it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of an office infested with them.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        It is an expression used on both AAM and Captain Awkward to mean an inherently crazy workplace.

  2. X*

    That training sounds terrible for #1 but I’m very glad they were able to pump without pushback. Hopefully things change there or you can move on soon, if you want to.

    1. Ayla*

      I had a lot of trouble relaxing enough to pump and am amazed that OP1 was able to do it while listening to people recount past trauma! I can’t even imagine…

  3. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

    3: Cannot blame you for the schadenfreude. They got what they were paying for.

    4: Hoo boy, full of bees indeed. My best wishes with the grandmother emergency, and congratulations on being somewhere less dysfunctional!

  4. anonymouse*

    LW 1: I’m so not surprised that the organization that demanded your undivided attention for a full day turned out to be so demented.
    It does answer my initial question. When you wrote in explaining the issue, I thought that it must be some government/industry/corporate mandate and I get that OP is stressed because she knows that this is mission critical and navigating a change to it will be a BIG DEAL. I hope she doesn’t have to make it up on her own time or something just ridiculous.
    Did not think that your company would have a multiday time suck, rah rah, feelings oriented virtual retreat ON ZOOM. And nobody stopped it? After one day? This isn’t training. It’s a mess.
    My story: decades ago, we had a two hour speaker session, “how to do deal with stress” lecture.
    It was bad. My company sent a survey to us. Result: the speakers refunded the company and offered a free do-over. We declined. Nobody was called out for not being a team player. This is not what we are here for.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      That sounds like an interesting story. Like how bad was it. I cant imagine how a “how to deal with stress” lecture could be so bad they company gets refunded.

      1. anonymouse*

        There was a group of speakers who were hired to present ways to understand stress, avoid stress, treat stress. The head of the group allowed a new team member to take the lead and boy howdy, was it a ride into cringe.
        This person turned into the Vanessa Bayer’s SNL character, Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy on Passover talking about Papa John’s Pizza.
        “Sometimes we want to eat our stress away. My go to is Chips Ahoy. But exercise is better. Go the gym. Get on a tread mill. Eat a chips ahoy cookie.”
        “and after you work out, take a hot shower. you can eat a chips ahoy cookie.”
        Weird personal anecdotes interspersed with exercise advice and cookies leading into slides, which turned the event from an SNL skit into Impractical Jokers.
        The speaker was reined in from personal anecdotes and cookie plugs to speak about the contents of some slides. Begins this whole thing about the slide, it’s an EKG and this is what the image and numbers mean. But it isn’t. It’s an EEG. And the image and numbers do not mean any of that.
        None so brave as the oblivious. The speaker carries on for minutes speaking words that have nothing to do with the image.
        I realize people are whispering on both sides of the room and the session is wrapped up.
        There was no release to sign after for filming purposes. This was real.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, these guys don’t deserve a do over. Did no one bother to review with him what he planned to present? And why on earth didn’t anyone try to step in sooner and just take over?

          I know, you don’t know the answer to that, probably. But it explains why they gave your money back.

  5. Alanis*

    One thing I have learned from this site is that you don’t have to reveal any more than you want to at wacky work event. No need to reveal your trauma. Keep it work related or make something up. You don’t owe them Kardashian level drama.

    1. Iroqdemic*

      See, now I’m filing away the technique of using a plotline from a soap opera or Real Housewives or something if I am forced to “share my struggles”.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        You can take the most recent one from Real Housewives of Orange County where Gina blamed yelling at a friend from a demon/ghost she caught going into a nearby mine in Aspen and not leaving a gift… :P

    2. CallEmOut*

      I do think it’s incumbent on those of us who are more senior to push back openly. “I’m sorry, you’re asking us to share personal traumas publicly? Do you not recognize how inappropriate that is? What therapy licenses and credentials do you hold again? I’m going to need you to explain your full qualifications to address PTST and cPTSD …”

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Yes! If you can afford the risk, clearly describing the Missing Stair *out loud and in the moment* is a really valuable public service. Even if you don’t “win,” you’ve given other victims the language to help them identify and process the cloud of bees.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        One of the things that made me leave being a techie and become management then senior management is precisely this – having the ability to push back on harmful stuff.

        There was a morale survey at work that at first appeared fine but one of the later questions was how often you feel you can talk to your manager about deeply personal issues and did your manager share their struggles.

        Oooh no. I like to be the boss that people can discuss a hard time with and if we can e.g. reduce their workload but I do not need to hear the details and my staff definitely do not need to know the horrors my brain can generate if left in neutral for too long.

        1. UKDancer*

          I’m glad you pushed back. I mean I think my boss is great and we have a really good working relationship. But I don’t want to discuss deeply personal issues with him, I mean that’s not something I want to share and he’d be really uncomfortable with.

          Also I don’t think my staff want me to share my personal issues with them. I talk about problems at work relating to work, so IT problems, the level of paperwork needed to do certain functions etc. Even things like the fact I have to make a speech at a conference and don’t like public speaking much. I don’t share my personal emotional issues with them because that’s not their business.

  6. Anna*

    OP #2, what kinds of interview questions did you ask in your interview with your current job on flexibility and schedule accommodation? I feel like it’s common for so many potential bosses to say they would be okay with it in the interview but not actually be that way.

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      Early on I think you can ask for examples of how they have accommodated employees in the past. What types of flexibility have they made available?
      If you’re at the offer stage, you can have some things written into the offer if they are formal (2 days WFH per week, etc,) or if it’s less formal, spell out examples of what you will need going forward and ask for approval (better if the questions are in email so there is a record). Something like:
      “I’m so excited about your offer and wanted to get some clarity about your flexibility. I have found that at least once a week, I need to leave before 4 PM. I know that you mentioned you accommodate scheduling needs, but is that something that would be a problem? I have handled this in the past by coming in early on those days.”

      Or whatever your situation is. The more concrete you can make your requests, the better.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Just FYI, though. A co-worker at a pre-pandemic job had it in writing that she could work from home (she lives 50 miles from the office, but all of her work was with customers and co-workers in Australia).

        The CEO changed his mind and told her nope, she had to be in office after all.

        My takeaway is that these promises are as good as the paper they’re written on.

        1. Anyfizz*

          But that says a lot about that particular job/workplace. An employer changing something that was in writing, like pay, location/flexibility, etc should expect an employee to leave because they are breaking contract (colloquially).
          The takeaway from that situation should be that crappy workplaces don’t keep any promises, not that no employer ever keeps their (written!) word.

    2. OP2*

      I asked how the office was handling the recent (at the time) switch to a hybrid working model – this gave me insight into the manager’s view on work from home. And I asked about typical start and end times and whether they tended to be static or flexible depending on employee and department needs.

      Once I got the offer, I was transparent about the exact schedule I was hoping for (shifting my hours up to allow for a 4:30 departure) to accommodate childcare and work-life balance. Manager said yes, disclosed that they also flexed time often for family reasons, and stated “we just get our things done, no one is monitoring that sort of thing here.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s a great question. I’ve been asking about the remote/hybrid thing since COVID. The answer usually tells you a lot about the company, or the manager, if that’s who you’re talking to. I’m going to add the one about flexible start and end times.

      2. Varthema*

        That’s great to hear! Yeah, I feel like people that truly believe in being a results-oriented workplace will be pretty open and frank about it (and dismissive of presenteeism and butts-in-seats policies). I’d interpret hedging as a bad sign of someone who knows it’s trendy to think that way but doesn’t.

  7. Goldenrod*

    These are all amazing!
    OP1 – Everything you described in your letter is batshit crazy. The leadership in your office is bonkers.
    OP2 – I LOVE THIS: “I am really happy with for many reasons, but primarily because this new department’s culture seems to value results over butts-in-seats, management inspires rather than monitors, and responsible flexibility is modeled and supported by the department head.”
    OP3 – I too am a fan of the schadenfreude. Hope you continue to enjoy it!
    OP4 – I LOVE THIS: “I feel valued… completely the opposite experience compared to my old job.”
    Feeling valued, that’s really the whole enchilada.


    1. OP4*

      It really does make all the difference :) A little over a month later and I’m still feeling good.

  8. FG*

    The training in #1 has clear cult vibes. So many of them share similar verbiage/techniques. Unless it’s clear that CEO just bought training based on vague blurbs & was surprised at the actual content, I’d be looking for an exit strategy.

    1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Oh good call! I had a manager get involved with this some years ago, and brought the teachings into the workplace. Yikes!

  9. Layla*

    LE #4 so glad you got a new job! The non-specific non-support for promotions is such a frustrating move. I’ve seen so many women’s careers stymied by it after they become mothers, and pushing back often seems to result in some variation on “well everyone knows she’s probably working less now that she’s back from maternity leave.” Here’s to onwards and upwards!

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah, my career basically stood still after I had my kids, only way to earn more money was to start freelancing. I now earn more, work less and have the freedom to say no and go swimming or to the dog park whenever I feel like it.

  10. the cat's ass*

    OP1, this is AWFUL. Weird and intrusive and very cult-y. But at least you get to pump!

  11. Elenna*

    OP#3: Really enjoyed the schadenfreude in both this and your original Good News letter. Something tells me that upper management at your old job continues to be puzzled over the high turnover.

  12. Nea*

    overall the implication was that if you were not onboard it was because you either couldn’t comprehend the ideas or were too scared to change.

    OP 1, that put up ALL my hackles. Run. Run from the bees before that kind of wording sounds normal to you!

    1. Nea*

      Seriously, my big challenge is physical disability, and if someone wants me to shape my reality around that with affirmations, I’m going to shape their reality around an ADA lawsuit.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        ‘A negative attitude is the only real disability’ is something a former boss said to me. She honestly believed that everything could be cured by positive thinking.

        I was so tempted to throw my cane at her.

        1. Nea*

          …. What the actual duck club.

          I honestly don’t know if I’d hiss “Try that on Covid and let me know how it goes” or smile sweetly and show her the x-ray of the screws rammed into me while earnestly asking which affirmation fixes different temperature conduction between bone and metal.

        2. Hobbling Up A Hill*

          I have definitely responded to sentiments like that with “See how far your positive attitude gets you when I run you over with my wheelchair”

          Shockingly, no amount of positive thinking is going to get me over several tons of metal moving at speed crashing into a human body. I’m not negative, I’m just realistic. There are things I cannot do. There are things I could do but choose not to because doing them is not worth the consequences.

    1. eastcoastkate*

      I’ve done stuff of his before and it was NOTHING like what was described- are there ones w/ his books that are like that?!

  13. Another Random Internet Person*

    So, about the bees… is that an expression or are we talking about literal swarm of bees?

    1. quill*

      It’s an inherited phrase from Captain Awkward about how obvious (in hindsight) dysfunction in a relationship / household / job is once you’ve left it. Link will turn up in my reply to me.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      The fact that this has happened often enough to make a tag worthwhile is the scary part.

  14. Just Me*

    #1 Those kinds of orientations/workshops are my biggest pet peeve and I 100% agree with you–I have had several jobs where the employers felt that they were providing some great therapeutic service and that those kinds of “trainings” were acceptable. What bothers me most is there is a level of intensity they’re always searching for–it’s not acceptable to say, “I just want to talk about work issues,” but at one stage of my life I was very depressed (read: suicidal ideation) and felt pressured to bring it up in one of these types of workshops in front of work colleagues I did not know well, which of course wouldn’t have been professional or appropriate, either.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Hugs. I get suicidal ideation a fair bit (thank you schizophrenia you absolute gobshite) and yeah, some unqualified berk trying to make me bring up that kinda of stuff in a meeting would not go well at all.

    2. UKDancer*

      I think the other concern is you don’t know what someone else has been through. I’ve had a fairly easy life and while there are things that have made me sad (loss of family members, ending of a relationship) none of them are particularly things I’d talk about my feelings over at work.

      In contrast in my last company I had a colleague who survived a war in Africa as a child. Many of her family did not. She didn’t talk about it much and only mentioned it to me once in passing and I did not pry. This is not something she should feel obliged to talk about and most trainers would be ill equipped to handle.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah. My partner was in prison for fomenting a revolution, was left to fend for himself out in the desert by revolutionaries dispensing “training” (he caught and ate snakes until he managed to get home), hid in his sister’s basement for about a year after he was made an outlaw, like Anne Frank, left his home country in a tiny fishing boat on a stormy night so it wouldn’t show up on radars. His brother didn’t make it (and he learned years later that he died, probably of torture, in prison). He had nothing but a fake passport and the address of someone who might be able to help him. He told me about it only once, when he’d decided that I was the person he wanted to have a family with, otherwise he never ever talks about it. It’s not something people in western Europe can understand. Luckily, he’s a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” type, because he is never fazed by anything, nothing can ever be worse than what he has already survived. But the one time we started talking about it in couples therapy he was reduced to blubbering (and didn’t want to go back afterwards). No way would he ever want to discuss all that at work.

  15. Irish Teacher.*

    I’m just wondering what the organisers of that training in number 1 expected from people who don’t have any major traumas. Not that it’s OK to expect people who have had such experiences to talk about them, but…there are plenty of people who don’t have any serious issues like abuse or substance abuse or traumatic family deaths and they have no way of knowing if that is the case with the people who are keeping it fairly light. I know that’s a minor issue comparing the risks of dealing inappropriately with serious issues, but it just makes their reaction pretty ridiculous even on a superficial level. Do they want people with pretty boring relatively happy lives to make things up?

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      yeah, it’s not like everyone has trauma in their lives, especially in the west.

  16. LittleFox*

    LW#1 is absolutely landmark. I just took the weekend class paid for by my company and it was awful-and is in absolute line with what the LW said.

  17. Mego*

    Re Letter #1: Isn’t there an episode of Angel about how inappropriate that stuff is for the workplace?

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