Ask a Manager in the media

Here’s some coverage of Ask a Manager in the media recently:

I talked to Vogue about complaining at work.

Salon featured Ask a Manager in an article about office lunch thefts.

I talked to Popsugar about the bad workplace behavior on Selling Sunset.

I talked to Lizzie O’Leary about how to know if you’re paying your dues or being taken advantage of.

I talked to Fortune about why you don’t need to worry as much about job-hopping right now.

I talked to HR Brew about getting accurate salary info.

{ 24 comments… read them below }

  1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I really enjoyed the Salon article. I pretty much never left the office during the pandemic (a few weeks at the very start), and so far no lunchroom drama as everyone else has returned…other than I no longer have the whole place to myself and I’m slightly pouty about having to wait my turn for the Keurig or microwave again.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      coming right back to say… the only “drama” I can think of for our lunchrooms was the total emptying out of (perishable) supplies and my org seems to be uninterested or very slow at restocking. I just got used to bringing in my own everything including water — deliveries were stopped — so I’m not as shocked as some people that the water station isn’t getting magically refilled by fairies anymore.

      1. ND and awkward*

        Since our office (and country) fully re-opened there’s been at least one ultimately good-natured “argument” about the kitchen no longer being supplied with company-provided biscuits, but that’s about it. I do miss the biscuits, buying my own just isn’t the same.

        Though I don’t think we’ve had any issues with food thievery that weren’t honest mistakes (i.e. someone leaving their food on the counter in the space that’s usually used for “up for grabs” food), thankfully.

  2. Oakwood*

    Over the last 20 years (at several companies) I’ve noticed:

    1. Lunch & learns have become a regular occurrence. Often weekly. You’re expected to bring your own lunch (or forego eating) to attend a training session.

    2. Managers scheduling meetings that go across lunch (like from 11 to 2). Yea, they usually provide lunch, but it’s usually something unappetizing like cardboard (cold pizza) or a “healthy” lunch like a ham sandwich with potato chips.

    When I was very young, I was advised to always take a lunch break. Not because of the food, but because you need a break to decompress. Nine hours is a long time to go focused on work without a break, and that is exactly what happens when you have working lunches.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Also, I like to get some fresh air during the day. On occasions when I am stuck in meetings all day, I feel far more tired and sluggish than when I have been able to go to the nearby supermarket for lunch supplies.

  3. VV*

    I am a teacher and if you happen to teach in the period where lunches are served, you have a tight window (21 minutes) to eat your lunch. I took my tupperware to the faculty room and opened the microwaved and there was a food bowl with some kind of shrimp pasta. I looked around to see if anyone was around, so I committed the sin of removing the bowl from the microwave and setting it beside so I could microwave my lunch, go back to my classroom, and eat before the students returned. I don’t think much about it.

    Next day, I walk into the faculty room to put my stuff in the fridge. The bowl of shrimp is still right beside the microwave. It’s been 18 hours.

    Next day….it’s been 42 hours. Later the second day it was finally thrown away. There are about 30 or so teachers who regular use this faculty room. Not a single person has brought up the bowl of shrimp pasta. Not one complained about it, and certainly no one copped to it.

  4. Iroqdemic*

    Can I say I am just delighted by that Popsugar piece, and how you are the go-to for office politics and drama, even on a ridiculous reality show.

  5. Pam Adams*

    Sitting next to me might mean microdosing a running narrative of trivial disappointments, but it hasn’t made me a bad coworker…

    As the person sitting next to you, I can say that, yes, it DID make you a bad co-worker. I don’t need to hear your complaints all day long.

  6. BobSacamono*

    I used to work with someone who relentlessly wore me down with their complaining over a prolonged period of time. It got to the point where I walked into work one day and found myself unable to speak to them at all, and couldn’t for months.

  7. Excited Law Student*

    That Lizzie O’Leary article is really helpful. As a law student in my early twenties, I’m now starting to look for summer jobs and internships. My career services center reminds me to try not to find law firm opportunities that are unpaid, because those take advantage of students (not non-profits, but for-profit law firms). But almost all the opportunities that I’ve found are unpaid, since the paid ones are competitive.

    Of course, I really need experience and an item for my resume to make me stronger in the future, so sometimes it really is a balancing test of whether it’s worth it to fight this particular battle. I really liked that advice from that article.

    1. pancakes*

      Sometimes even the unpaid opportunities are competitive, if the firm or org is prestigious and/or there are a lot of law schools in the area. I took a mostly unpaid, partially paid summer job after my 1L year, at a for-profit firm that took on a few students and paid us a bit for the latter part of the summer. It was low pay, and they were uneven and unfair about making sure people started to get paid at the same time. One of the first people to be paid was a dude whose parents were paying for law school in entirety, and who was not shy about talking about how much money he blew on gambling. It left a really bad taste in my mouth and I wasn’t alone in that.

  8. alienor*

    The letter about the spicy food that was referenced in the Salon article will forever be one of my faves. The sheer brazenness of the guy admitting to stealing someone else’s food, then complaining that it made him sick and getting the LW fired over it, still blows my mind all these years later.

  9. snarktini*

    Oh, the complaining article :(

    “Even if your coworkers are sympathetic to your complaints, if you’re constantly venting you’re likely to end up perceived as someone who doesn’t handle stress well. That’s not good for you if you want to be promoted or take on high-profile projects. Instead, it’s in your interests for your colleagues to see you as calm and unflappable, not easily frustrated.”

    It me. A verbal processor with a strong tendency to see and comment on the negative more than the positive. I am aware of it and know it hurts perception of me, but…if I knew how to be a different person I would have done that by now. I’m always trying to find the line and shift it, and don’t always succeed. For obvious reasons *waves hands* I’m struggling more with it these days than in the past. This is a reason I prefer to work remotely — I know I can’t be as annoying if I don’t sit next to anyone.

  10. Aggresuko*

    This “Am I The Asshole” has a lunch stealer who’s ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS, steals a peanut-filled meal, eats it, and then goes into shock over it.

    “My boss confronted me and accused me of poisoning my noodles because his daughter (one of the new girls) “borrowed” my lunch and had to be hospitalized. Turns out she’s severely allergic to nuts, ate some and boom. Anaphylaxis. She used an epi pen, had to be hospitalized and now her dad is trying to hold me accountable for her bills and condition, but I don’t see it. Why should I pay? I don’t mark my food as an allergen because I’m not allergic to it, she was just dumb enough to steal from me and eat something she can’t have.
    But he’s being hateful, and some of my older coworkers are icing me out because I warned him I’d report any harassment to HR if he tried anything funny.”

    1. hayling*

      Wildddd. I have major allergies (not life-threatening, just inconvenient) and I would never randomly eat something like that. I can only eat at a narrow range of cuisines and I have to basically interrogate waiters, and friends who have me over for dinner.

  11. Oryx*

    I just binged all of Selling Sunset over the past few weeks and I kept thinking “I wonder what Alison would say” so I’m excited to read that article on PopSugar!

    1. Princess Xena*

      There’s an older Selling Sunset article linked that I somehow missed when it first came out and jeepers, what a hot mess. I cannot believe this was a real company.

    2. Baruna*

      The thing about Selling Sunset is that the business is actually the show, not the brokerage. The Oppenheim Group is a functional brokerage, but the women in the cast BARELY work there. There is an entire office full of people who are never shown, the cast doesn’t just pop in and out on a workday like it’s made to seem–the office is cleared of staff and booked for specific days of filming. Nothing happens organically on that show: not a phone call, not a showing, nothing. Many of the homes they show aren’t even ever listed with the brokerage. This show is helmed by Adam DiVello, who made The Hills and Laguna Beach–it’s far less real than most “reality” shows: it’s basically scripted. All of which is to say, while Alison’s take is spot-on for an actual real estate brokerage, the actual business of “Selling Sunset” is not The Oppenheim Group, it’s a highly produced reality show, which makes Jason and Chrishell’s relationship far more appropriate. And Christine Quinn did not lose out on listings because of Chrishell’s relationship with Jason: Christine Quinn does not actually work.

    1. ADifferentGinger*

      That’s fascinating! I knew a few people who graduated with six figure jobs, but they were all computer science majors who got hired at Microsoft, and I think all of them already had internships on their resume.
      I wish the article had gone into detail about *why* the grads are expecting that much. Who is giving them that number? It mentions COL, but… I don’t think any of my peers based their expectations on that. We all knew what the average starting salary for our field was and how easy (or hard) getting hired would be. Maybe it’s because we were all getting STEM degrees? Like “Oh Nuclear Engineers make bank, but it can sometimes be difficult to find a job.” “CS majors *can* make six figures, but that’s only if you’re getting hired at the major players; most of us will be around $80k depending on the area.” “Oh you’re a math major? You need to take some extra coursework in business, CS, econ, something, because no one’s going to hire someone who only studied math.” (The last one was for me. Kids, do not listen to your elders who say math is a “great” major for getting jobs. It’s not. Maybe it was 20 years ago, but not today.)

  12. works with realtors*

    I’ve not watched Selling Sunset, but as someone who works with agents (but is not in a real estate office daily)…honestly, some of this seems tame compared to what I see! I’ve seen open arguments about politics, agents throwing each other under the bus, agents yelling at support staff…or my favorite regular occurrence, 70yo mothers contacting on behalf of their 50yo children to act as helicopter moms on licensing issues. A little bush chat here or there seems refreshingly pure!

  13. Despachito*

    I loved the article about complaining! This is so spot on, not only at work but in real life as well!

    I was surprised that complaining is actually activating chemistry in our bodies, and this made me understand some of my and other people’s unintentional choices – while I would vent occasionally, it is mostly of fairly mild, transitory things. If I had a larger problem whose solution did not depend on me (e.g. long-term illness), I’d vent substantially less because it felt like unnecessarily wallowing in the mud and poisoning myself with the situation OUTSIDE having to actually deal with it, and I found out that it felt much better to talk about positive things instead.

Comments are closed.