coworkers are annoyed by my intern, candidates who respond badly to rejection, and more

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

1. Some colleagues are annoyed by my intern

I work in a small office with 10 employees and up to three interns. In my role as an intern manager, I need to oversee job responsibilities and tasks for my intern, as well as provide guidance for workplace culture and behavior. But there are a couple of folks on staff (who don’t report to me) who find my intern annoying because of how often he likes to chat with coworkers. We’ve talked about boundaries and how to know when you’ve overstayed your welcome in someone else’s office. But there are still two coworkers who complain that everything my intern says is annoying, and they want me to discipline him for speaking to them. Likewise, they get annoyed when they see him talking to other coworkers and want me to discipline him for those interactions that don’t even affect them. I’m not sure how to coach my intern in any meaningful way that would prepare him for future workplaces.

Well, wait. Is what your intern is doing legitimately a problem? If he’s still overstaying his welcome when chatting with people or distracting others with his socializing, you do need to speak to him about that. If the previous conversations didn’t work, you probably need to get clearer and more directive — not just “don’t overstay your welcome” but (for example) “don’t stay longer than X minutes because people are busy,” “don’t interrupt when people are discussing work,” “Jane is swamped and doesn’t really socialize at all,” etc.

But if that behavior has been reined in and your two colleagues still have residual annoyance from earlier although the intern isn’t doing anything wrong now, then the problem is with them and not him. If that’s the case, you need to tell them that you understand the excessive socializing was a problem earlier, you’ve coached him on it, and from what you can see the problem has been resolved. If they’re still running into issues, they should bring you the specifics so you can address whatever is still going on … but he is allowed to do the same amount of socializing as others do, as long as he’s not excessively loud or picking ill-timed moments. If they just find him personally annoying, they need to manage that on their own like they would with any other colleague — setting their own boundaries on chit chat, etc. Expecting someone to never speak to them at all when they work in the same office, just because they find him personally annoying, is unrealistic (and pretty jerky).

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2. Candidates who respond badly to job rejection

How would you deal with candidates who do not respond well with rejection emails?

I recently rejected a candidate, saying that we had selected someone else with a better edge in terms of experience. She responded by saying that it was not a good reason, I was being disrespectful, and my message put off a terrible impression of our company. I was caught off-guard.

She has definitely burnt the bridge, but I know I can’t control someone else’s emotions so I responded sensibly, apologized, and wished her the best of luck in her career. I was just wondering if there are any ways to prevent such friction. Hope you could shed some light on this.

The idea that selecting a candidate with more experience isn’t a “good enough” reason is … interesting.

There will always be candidates who react poorly to rejection, no matter how kindly worded or reasonable your rejection note is. It’s just the nature of dealing with a wide swath of people; some will be unreasonable or rude. It’s unfortunate because it tends to lead to employers being less forthcoming in their rejections and providing less info about why they’re not moving a candidate forward, figuring it’s harder for people to argue if they’re not given reasons to dispute.

It’s definitely confirmation that you made the right call though.

3. Our return to office was only announced at a town hall, and not everyone knows

My company recently announced that starting on X date, employees will be required to start working from the office a minimum of two days per week. The office has remained open throughout the pandemic, with a number of people choosing to work there occasionally, but so far a majority of the 300+ employees have remained fully remote.

The issue is that they only announced this in a monthly town hall, and have not sent out any sort of written notice or communication about it since (this was three weeks ago, and the return date is next week). Not everyone attends the town halls (due to conflicting meetings or being in other time zones), and as such there are plenty of people who are still unaware that we’re supposed to be returning to the office next week. If someone does not start coming back into the office next week and instead continues to work from home (presuming their manager is okay with that set-up), does the company have any ability to fire them or issue them a warning for not following policy, even though the policy was only verbally communicated?

Yes, the company can fire people for any reason at any time, as long as it’s not for discriminatory reasons (such as based on their race, sex, religion, disability, or other protected status) or in retaliation for something like reporting discrimination or harassment. There’s no law in the U.S. requiring an employer to give written notice of policy changes before firing someone for violating the policy.

That said, this is bad management! Hopefully individual managers have been tasked with making sure that everyone on their teams knows the policy, or are simply doing that of their own volition. It’s a bizarre way to communicate such a big change. (Not the announcement itself; it could make sense to do the initial announcement at the town hall so people could ask questions, but it should have been followed up with something in writing to ensure everyone saw it.)

4. My boss has ADHD — should I tell her I do too?

My boss mentioned that she has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I was diagnosed with the same “disorder” several years ago and have come across some really useful resources since then. I love sharing tools and information that others might find helpful, so my impulse is to send some recommendations her way. But I’m also aware that there are a lot of negative assumptions about ADHD and many of the related challenges can present as a lack of professionalism. I work for a very progressive and understanding organization and I genuinely like and trust my boss, so I want to believe that this kind of disclosure wouldn’t be held against me, but I’m worried about every misstep I make being viewed as an innate deficiency. What should I do?

Play it safe and don’t disclose. It’s so disappointing to have to give this advice whenever mental health comes up, but the reality is that disclosing can come back to bite you in all sorts of ways — like having all your behavior interpreted through the lens of ADHD, being assumed not to be able to handle certain types of projects or not without closer supervision, and being scrutinized in ways you wouldn’t be if you hadn’t disclosed. You might figure that since your boss has ADHD herself, those things won’t happen but they still can, particularly if her symptoms manifest differently than yours do.

It might be fine if you tell her! But it also might not be and given that the stakes are so high because it’s your livelihood, I’d rather you play it safe, at least for now.

5. My boss is blocking my move to a new team

I’m a designer, and have been at the same company (and at the same level) for seven years (although several of those years I have been on maternity leave). Since Covid, I’ve been phoning it in. While I’m very efficient, I’ve been doing mainly administrative work. While this was great while my kids were very young because my brain could be on autopilot, after a turbulent and chaotic few months I started job hunting. All the adjectives I used to use (like “passionate” and “inventive”) have not applied in years. I’ve realized I was burnt out.

Recently after a large staff upheaval, I started helping out another team, doing actual design. The boss is great, and I’ve felt way more connected with this new team than with my current team. And most importantly, I’m back to doing what I love — and I’ve been doing great. So great, in fact, that my new team (and the other boss) very enthusiastically want me to join them, and I’ve told them that is what I want to do. However, my current boss has asked me to take on more responsibility (though seemingly without a raise or new title) and since I’m so efficient and steady, she won’t let me move. The others in my department are much less experienced and this is the official reason given, though I do think that one of them could easily take over.

There is tons of opportunity for growth on my new team. On my current team, not so much. I’m stuck, because I’m good at the (very boring) job I do.

How can I talk my current boss (who has more seniority and is higher in the company structure) into letting me transfer into this new position which is clearly going to make me so much happier?

Managers who block internal moves for these kinds of reasons are incredibly short-sighted and it’s never clear why they don’t realize that if you want to move on, you can just leave the company to do it.

You can try saying, “I’m ready to take on something new and I’d like not to have to leave the company to do it. This position would let me stay with the company and grow here, which is my preference.” In some cases, you could outright say, “I don’t foresee staying in this role significantly longer, whether I move to the other team or not.” But in other cases, that wouldn’t be safe to say, so you need to know your boss and how she operates.

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{ 279 comments… read them below }

  1. Amateur Hour*

    OP #4, your line is: “Oh, I have a relative/friend who is also managing ADHD. I think she recommended _____as a website that she found super helpful.”

    1. Anon Pleez*

      Or instead of talking about the label, you talk about the benefit. Hey, sometimes I have trouble with X, too, and what’s helped me is Y. The tools and strategies people with ADHD use generally work for a broad spectrum of people.

      1. Allonge*

        This, totally – it’s much better in any case to propose solutions for specific issues, not to overwhelm people with a billion resources, and indeed a lot of ‘tricks’ work for anyone.

        In any case, OP, wait until boss brings up a problem to share resources – it’s a really tricky situation to be giving advice in. Boss should not in any way rely on you to sort out her life, and hopefully she is conscious of this.

        I really appreciate you for wanting to be helpful, but find ways to do it that are connected to your work. Is there anything that you can do ‘managing up’ that is informed by an understanding of the things that are difficult for her (I am thinking reminders of deadlines or picking her up on the way to a meeting, but this depends on what she actually needs and what your job duties involve).

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I had that helpful approach backfire on me one time. I had just finishing reading this book about the qualities that make it easier for women to succeed in business/management. Shared it with my new boss at my new employer and she thought that I was going after her job.

          1. Lydia*

            Whoa! That is not the normal response from a normal person! How can suggesting a book to someone be indicative you’re gunning for their job? So weird! How did it work out?

        2. Clandestine Timoraetta*

          I personally find suggestions from other people kind of irritating. I’ve suffered with my mental health issue for years and have done everything under the sun. When I hear…this is what has helped me, have you tried this, in my head I’m like…yes, 15 years ago and it didnt help thanks.
          I know they are trying to be nice, but assume that the person can go looking for resources on their own and don’t need a coworker to suggest something.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            There’s a difference between “Had the diagnosis for years, have heard it all”, and “Recently diagnosed”, though.

            I wouldn’t tell someone who’s known they had ADHD since they were 6 the same things I would tell a 40 year old who just got diagnosed and is still reeling.

      2. Felis alwayshungryis*

        Yeah! I don’t have ADHD to my knowledge, but I definitely do stuff like procrastinate, so by all meand gimme those tools.

        1. quill*

          This. Whatever the root cause of the family brainweird is, if the symptoms match, it’s worth trying a workaround, whether it’s designed with ADHD in mind, or Autism in mind, etc.

      3. Meridian*

        I actually think this might go over poorly. People with ADHD are accustomed to hearing all sorts of unsolicited advice from people who don’t have it, and if OP doesn’t disclose her own diagnosis it’s probably going to sound a lot like “everyone procrastinates sometimes, have you tried not doing that?”

        IMO OP shouldn’t say anything, even though they mean well.

        1. Katrina S.*

          This 100%! A lot of people think ADHD doesn’t exist, and it’s just people being dramatic about stuff that “everyone deals with.” So any advice that starts with, “Oh, yeah, I struggle with organizing/procrastinating/whatever, too” without disclosure can really come off like you’re minimizing what the person with ADHD is dealing with. (For example, neurotypical procrastination and ADHD paralysis are not at all the same thing, even if they might look like it from the outside.)

          Even if you do disclose, what works for you may not work for someone else, and you need to be aware of that. I know people with ADHD who swear by the pomodoro method. I can’t stand it.

          I’m in the camp of either don’t disclose or if you do, don’t add advice onto it unless asked.

          1. Clandestine Timoraetta*

            Not ADHA but other challenges and people saying…oh yes I struggle with too….does come off as kind of flippant.

        2. Lucy Skywalker*

          This, this! Saying, “I have ADHD” is not the same as saying, “I need help, please!” I remember a letter from someone with who told her co-worker that they had ADHD, and the coworker took the disclosure as permission to fix her coworker’s ADHD by interrupting them as often as possible; presumably so they will “get used to” being interrupted (????).

          FWIW, I have ADHD and I almost always say so when the topic comes up. It’s my way of normalizing it and breaking the stigma.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            That coworker is … something. There is literally nobody, with or without ADHD, where that is helpful. I’d be really tempted to go full on snark and ask “Do you really think I’ve never encountered people **interrupting me** before?”

            But I’m only heavily ADHD adjacent. (One parent, sibling, and son all have it, as does one of my best friends; as far as we can tell, I fall somewhere on the “I have a couple of matching symptoms but not the diagnosable condition”.)

    2. lizesq*

      OP4’s boss has not asked for her help managing this condition. In my opinion, it would be out of line for her to say anything about it or give advice, and usually people here would agree that co-workers shouldn’t comment the diagnoses and medical treatment of others.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I think I would lean towards this. There are certainly situations where they’ve brought up the recent diagnosis themselves, you’re chatting about what it means for them, they mention some particular areas of difficulty they have, and it makes sense for you to say, “Oh, a couple of tools I find useful with that are…” But, “You have diagnosis! Have you tried XYZ!?” is a conversation with a lot of risk even if you have exactly the same diagnosis.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Came to say the same thing. Boss appears to be successfully managing their condition.

        Perhaps Boss mentioned it in a low-key way so employees would feel comfortable if they needed to talk to her about their own condition or an accommodation. Indirect reassurance to employees, not a request for help from employees.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree; and as another recently diagnosed person–given the tendency towards hyperfocus that many ADHD people can have I think it’s likely the boss is about to spend a lot of time researching it herself anyway lol. I totally understand wanting to share what has worked for you, I like to do that as well. But the boss will find her own resources just fine.

        And it’s true that even though it would not really make sense, it is possible that while the boss is researching and reading both good and bad things, if they had a conversation with OP about it they could subconsciously start to connect some of the symptoms they read about with OP and start scrutinizing them more or something. I get why it would feel safe to disclose your boss in this situation, and it could go great and be a bonding experience or whatever but it could also still lead to her holding some things against OP even if they don’t meant to or even realize it.

      4. Spero*

        I agree with this. I think a better approach would be to wait until the boss mentions a specific challenge they are having and/or OP4 is discussing how they plan to handle an upcoming project, and THEN drop the helpful tip. “Oh, later this week I will start planning for the fall llama grooming. I’ve found it’s really helpful for me to break down the steps leading up to that into their own tasks and tack each sub-task separately. I use Trello to track my progress through them. Have you ever used that? It’s really helpful in xyz.”

    3. Cat Tree*

      I mildly disagree. I’m less concerned about OP disclosing their diagnosis, but more concerned that they really just shouldn’t offer unsolicited medical advice in general. I guess it’s not terrible if they mention the website once and then drop it, but that isn’t very common.

      Basically, don’t assume that the boss isn’t already handling it just fine. And don’t assume that she wants advice about how to manage her condition.

      1. TechWorker*

        I think ‘I have this too, this website really helped me’ comes off *very differently* to ‘you have adhd, have you tried this website?’

        1. FiveWheels*

          A better option again is “I have ADHD too, let me know if you ever want to talk about it or discuss strategies”

        2. boo bot*

          Yeah, I think it’s basically either–or. The letter writer can disclose their own diagnosis and offer resources, or they can not disclose and not offer help, and as Alison noted, the risk of disclosure means it’s probably better to go with option b.

          1. Cat Tree*

            I still don’t fully agree. I have several chronic health conditions and I don’t want advice from laypeople even if they share my conditions. My health is generally well managed, but even when it’s not I’ll go to my doctor.

            For example, I’m really really not interested in alternative medicine so when someone suggests chiropractic or certain herbs it puts me in a weird place. I don’t want to get into a debate about it or change their mind, but I absolutely won’t do it for myself. I risk coming off as defensive or argumentative especially since they believe it helped them personally. I usually so “thanks, I’ve got it covered” or “thanks, I’ll consider that” (and then promptly forget it) but that doesn’t work all the time. Some folks will go on and on expecting me to enthusiastically agree and need a firmer end to conversation. But it’s hard to know which category people fit into at the beginning of the conversation.

      2. Blomma*

        This. As someone with chronic health issues, I only want to hear medical advice from someone if I specifically ask them for it.

        1. Petty Betty*

          This. I get so many well-meaning suggestions from people who have absolutely no idea what it’s like living with my multiple conditions, who have absolutely no medical training, who’s only baseline for constant debilitating pain is “occasional headaches” or “hangover” or “pulled a muscle playing frisbee golf” (yeah, not joking). I had someone try to compare sleeping funny to my most recent neck surgery and said I should try some acetaminophen and an ice pack…
          When my grandma was alive, she’d recommend any random medication she saw on tv, sometimes with hilarious results. Recommending Cialis for my spine made it to the highlight reel.

    4. JSPA*

      “I’ve been incorporating ADHD strategies for years, ever since I went through a period where I was feeling distracted and task-loaded, and needed some new organizing principles. If you’d ever like to toss around some strategies, I’m happy to chat.”

      Note: there is a non-zero chance that boss is disclosing because boss suspects OP has, or would benefit from, a diagnosis of same. OP should be aware if boss hints harder in that direction. It may mean that the strategies are not as effective (or not as effective a cover) as OP hopes they are; conversely, it could mean that boss has noticed the strategies already, and is hoping for guidance. (Boss can’t ask, but boss can dangle their own information, and hope OP volunteers the info.)

      1. Bizdotnet*

        ADHD is covered under the ADA and you have protections and rights to accommodation. I’m sorry that the state of the world is garbage, and that disclosing can come back to bite you, but you should still seek reasonable accommodation if it would benefit you.

        I feel like a lot of people think “oh I procrastinate, I know what ADHD is like” and I can assure you that it is not that relatable. It is an impairment and, untreated, can totally and completely fuck up your life.

    5. High Score!*

      This sounds too much like the old “asking for a friend” line.
      I’m sure OP4’s manager is capable of finding the resources she needs, she has a diagnosis and a doctor and her own support base which should NOT include her subordinates.
      OP4 don’t disclose this to your manager. Even if she’s fine with it, she may let it slip to someone else or people may overhear you talking and then there will be people who will see you as the ADHD Person instead of you.

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Or leave it alone unless she brings up something specific she is dealing with that the LW has a resource for? I’m just a bit uncomfortable with the idea that mentioning a diagnosis = being open to advice on said diagnosis.

  2. Punk*

    OP1: Is it possible that your coworkers have just hit their limit with interns? Three interns for ten full-time employees isn’t a great ratio when it comes to actual work productivity. I also wonder if he has so much time to socialize because he doesn’t have enough work to do.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      To me, this feels more like bullying behaviour on the part of the coworkers. Sure, some people can be annoying and talk too much, but the intern was coached about that, and – assuming that the intern is making a real effort to be less chatty – it seems that the coworkers are unwilling to let the intern’s initial missteps go. Getting annoyed at EVERY instance of the intern speaking to them, and getting annoyed whenever the intern speaks to anyone else – that’s rather extreme.

      It seems to me that someone should remind the coworkers that they weren’t perfect when they were newbies and that they wouldn’t want their baby worker stumbles to colour their colleagues’ perceptions of them forever. Unless the intern was being actually inappropriate (and there’s no indication that the intern was), the co-workers could stand to be a bit kinder, let’s put it that way.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I can see it go either way, but I’d like to know what the frequency/duration of interruptions was in the past, and what it is now, and how loud it is, and what is the normal frequency/duration of non work related chats for the rest of the office.

        If he’s saying good morning and they’re getting mad at that, or is participating in the normal office chit-chat then it’s on the coworkers. If he’s still coming into their office space for non-work related chats, only four times a day instead of twelve, and is also initiating multiple chat session per day with other people within earshot, then he’s improving, but still really annoying. In the latter case, the intern probably needs to be told to interrupt people only for work related discussion, unless they’re at lunch or on a coffee break (and probably specify the duration/frequency of reasonable coffee breaks).

        I’ve also worked with people who appeared to have no concept of indoor voice, so while the amount they were chatting wasn’t unusual, it was annoying because it audible everybody on the floor, rather than just the people they were talking with.

        1. Shiba Dad*

          These are all good points.

          I wonder if the intern is engaging in what he interprets as normal behavior based on his observations of the employees. It isn’t unusual for people to be annoyed at behavior they engage in themselves.

          That said, we could use some more info from OP.

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          My take on this is that the intern was really annoying – not just talking all the time but about or in a way the coworkers found very unpleasant and they just hit b*tch eating crackers with the intern really quickly really hard, and now they just have residual annoyance whenever they see the intern. Probably some of it isn’t the amount of talking but the type, like someone who can’t stop talking about their sport/D&D campaign/diet even though no one else cares or wants to hear anything more about it. If two separate coworkers hit BEC so quickly, then probably the intern was fairly annoying, and could probably overall use some feedback on just in general recognizing when someone is trying to steer the conversation away or is trying to go do something else.

          I’m sympathetic that the intern is still learning, but I can’t pretend that I haven’t had coworkers who affected me like glass on a chalkboard – so probably both sides here could use a little coaching.

        3. Threeve*

          If the coworkers aren’t otherwise unreasonable–easily annoyed, grudge-holding, egging each other on–they probably haven’t developed this dislike without a good reason, and it doesn’t have to be an ongoing problem.

          If you come to chat and say or do something totally inappropriate, I’m allowed to not want you to come chat at all, even that particular behavior was a one-time thing.

          1. Lydia*

            Agreed. Having said that, you don’t also get to gripe constantly about every interaction and demand discipline in a situation you weren’t involved in.

      2. Beth*

        This is my impression as well. OP can’t think of any more feedback to give the intern that would actually be useful in a standard work environment; that suggests to me that the intern is behaving fine, since if he was still being objectively inappropriate, there would be avenues to coach him. And the coworkers in question aren’t complaining about frequency or volume or even style; they’re saying “everything my intern says is annoying.” The insistence that he should be disciplined for speaking at all, to them or to others, really takes the cake–no matter how annoying someone is, you can’t just ostracize them from the entire work environment!

        It’s always possible that something is going on other than what’s stated in the letter, of course. But based on what’s written here? Someone needs coaching, for sure, and it isn’t the intern.

        1. INFJedi*

          he should be disciplined for speaking at all

          Yeah, this had me raise my eyebrows as well. Not something like you should talk to him about what are appropriate social interactions and what not, but discipline!

      3. L-squared*

        I mean, I feel bullying gets thrown around way too much. This may be that they are at “bitch eating crackers” mode with them already though. Like, he annoyed them so much to begin with (and it was possibly very valid to be annoyed) that they are just over them in general. That happens sometimes. Its also possible that he has made improvements, but he is still wildly out of sync with the rest of the office and other interns. Effort is great, but that doesn’t mean the results are what they should be.

        Also, OP doesn’t actually say he has improved. She says they discussed it, but doesn’t seem to be saying objectively if they have, or how much they have improved.

        1. PizzaMyHeart*

          Came here for this exact comment. I wanted to see who else arrived at the “crackers” theory. As someone else mentioned, it can also be the two colleagues egging one another on – pointing out when that bitch is eating said crackers, as it were.

        2. LittleMarshmallow*

          I get that they may be at crackers… buuuut… I think LW needs to evaluate based on what they know of their complaining colleagues. If they’re usually reasonable then fine, figure out a way to ask them to give some grace and come to you with real examples of behavior is continuing. However, I’ve know a handful of colleagues that dislike at least 50% of the people they interact with and a couple of slights will set them into a bitch mode of their own where the offending party will never be able to do anything right. And that is inappropriate. Normal adults should be able to recognize behavior improvement and move past initial impressions or at least self regulate to realize it’s a them issue. If LW has colleagues like that then they should just coach the intern to avoid them if possible and that not everyone is a good match for socializing at work. I guess I’m suspicious because there are 2 colleagues… personal and admittedly anecdotal experience is leading me to that… it feels like there’s a chance they rise each other up and then complain to the intern supervisor.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        I think it’s also possible that the intern has improved, but not enough. Having been coached and having “reined it in” doesn’t actually mean that it’s not still a legitimate problem–he may only have gone from way overstaying to somewhat less overstaying. But he’s still overstaying, and the LW might think that it’s OK because it’s a lot better by comparison when in fact it’s still not as OK as it needs to be.

        1. Lydia*

          I’m on the fence about this. Only because an intern is there to grow and growth doesn’t mean they end up a perfect-ready-to-go-100% at the end, it means they’ve developed new skills and know more than when they started and can build on that. So for the LW, it could be what she’s seeing is an improvement and will get better and that’s enough. Especially since ultimately, she’s the manager and it’s up to her to decide if she’s seen enough development or if she wants to see more.

    2. lyonite*

      Another question: Have you noticed a pattern of your office being unfriendly and/or dysfunctional, or is there any aspect of the intern that might suggest there is some bias at play? Have your coworkers been annoyed with the previous interns? Because if not, multiple people being so annoyed with a person in the office that they do not want to interact with them at all is a bad sign. In that case, you might want to monitor your intern a little more closely for a while to check up on their behavior.

      1. quill*

        It’s also possible that people’s preexisting irritation with the intern has predisposed them to have zero remaining patience for him.

        If they’re at BEC stage with him because… IDK he hangs out by their desk for 30 minutes every day and has an annoying laugh, they’ve been sensitized to him by repeat exposure, so even if he’s only doing it for 10 minutes a day now. So even if the amount of time is no longer an issue in terms of his work, the office was already overdrawn at the patience bank and nothing short of an absolute cessation would make them feel better.

        1. Clandestine Timoraetta*

          They certainly need to reign it in and not act outwardly poor, but you know when someone gets under your skin and then EVERYTHING they do is incredibly irritating? Possibly this is what happened. However, especially since this is an intern, they need to just…get over it and set boundaries and maybe try and avoid the intern, but I understand. There are people that are just incredibly irritating to others and its hard.

        2. Former Young Lady*

          quill, I think you’ve nailed it!

          Once someone’s in BEC territory, any crackers will feel like too many crackers — even if it’s way fewer crackers than before.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I find it telling that the other 2 are not getting complaints.
      We had one summer with a special project where we got 3 “interns”–college students fairly paid for the temp assignment. Two were a good fit and dove in to their tasks. One was thoroughly bored and took every opportunity to deliver things to other areas. He wasn’t so good about returning promptly. It got to the point where someone in another department asked him “what so you do *besides* wander around clutching paper?”
      Part way through the summer management transferred him to shipping and receiving, where he did great.
      OP should also make sure it’s not a matter of what that in turn is actually talking about. Is he flirting with the staff? Has it gotten to the point of creepy? Is he talking about sex or drinking? Is he pushing politics? Especially politics that don’t match the rest of the office?

      1. Esmeralda*

        Is he a different race from the complainers?
        Is most of your office (and the complainers) one gender, and the intern is not?
        Is he out LGBTQI?
        Is he from a different socio-economic background than your office/the complainers?
        Is he a different religion than your office/the complainers?

        I’d be considering some of those possibilities. Not saying that’s what’s going on here, but it could be contributing. In which case OP has a different problem, and it’s definitely not the intern.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          We had an intern who annoyed the heck out of everyone. She was a white woman, which is the dominant race and gender-identity in our discipline. She was just annoying. She had to be prodded constantly to get her work done, talked too much, and said things that definitely should not be said (ok, at all, but especially) in the workplace. She did have some mental health concerns so we tried to work with her, but she ended up saying some genuinely offensive things to a bunch of people (probably, I think, out of a combination of legitimate boundary problems associated with her mental health, which then served as a vehicle for some legitimately not-OK and addressable prejudices on her part). We had people, many of them other white women, from other departments calling and begging us not to hire her. We hadn’t had problems with interns before and haven’t since, and interns are a pretty standard thing in our office, so it’s not that our workplace has it in for them in general.

          Sometimes the problem is legitimately the individual in question.

        2. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

          Came here to say this exact thing/ask these same questions. Your colleagues may need to take a good long look at themselves.

    4. JSPA*

      This may be fan fic, but I’m wondering if the intern is balancing OP’s directive with some information gleaned from a “how to” book or website instructing him never to pass up the opportunity to network.

      Tone-deaf, insistent power-networking by an intern IS going to grate, even if it’s only a few minutes’-worth per day.

      If that’s the case, OP may have to point out that alienating people is actively counterproductive. And that it’s sometimes better to be fairly anonymous, than to be the person who’s known for being pushy, overbearing, and unable to step back when instructed to.

      Otherwise, if he’s expecting someone to say, “I like the cut of your jib, never mind the internship, I want to offer you a real job here,” then OP’s instructions can’t cut through to the heart of the problem.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Ooh I agree that it might be fan fic, but bad advice from silly business books should always be considered when a new or prospective employee insists on doing something weird.

        1. kiki*

          Or unrealistic TV shows. I’ve been watching Suits for the first time… wow, if anyone is taking workplace norms from that show they are in for quite a surprise.

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Or really lousy, out of date, out of touch, or otherwise just bad “advice” from a parent/relative.

          I’ve seen that, coupled with “just annoying in general”. It was not fun to deal with as a peer, having to manage her would have been absolutely horrendous.

    5. Purple Cat*

      I agree this might be a root cause, but it still doesn’t excuse the coworkers behaviors. If you feel 3 is too many, you solve it by discussing with management next year on what the plan should be, not by being mean to the current interns. I mean, of course you can complain that someone is talking to YOU to much, but to complain they’re talking to OTHER PEOPLE too much – that’s out of bounds.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I just want to point out that complaining someone is talking to others too much can still be valid. If I sit next to John and he and intern have a 30 minute conversation every day that I hear while I’m trying to work that’s valid to say there’s still too much chitchat or to be annoyed that every time I see intern he’s goofing around because it can still be a problem with the office environment.

        That may or may not be part of this there just isn’t enough information.

        1. Elsajeni*

          I think that’s fair, but on the other hand, complaining to the intern’s manager that you want him disciplined for talking to John when John is apparently happy to chat with him doesn’t seem like the right way to handle it — at that point, if anything, your problem is with John, because he’s the one bringing the conversation into your workspace! Like you said, there are a lot of unknowns here, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a situation where “I can see the intern chatting with someone else and I want you to do something about it,” specifically, is a reasonable complaint.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      Even if they have hit their limit, they are grownups and presumably experienced professionals who know how to excuse themselves from a conversation (“Excuse me, Bob, I have several projects I need to attend to this afternoon.”) and be firmer if they intern continues (“Bob, I need you to go back to your desk now so that Jane and I can finish the TPS reports.”).

      This also puts both them and the LW on firmer ground to address an ongoing issue with the intern (“Bob, it’s come to my attention that you are continuing to socialize with coworkers who have directly asked you to stop so that they can do their work. We’ve talked before about excessive socialization, and I need you to spend no more than X minutes on small talk/leave people’s offices when they are trying to work/respect others’ requests for you to stop. I know you are new to the professional world, and this is an important thing to learn for whatever jobs you’ll have in the future.”)

      The intern may very well be terribly annoying. Some people are. Some people just don’t gel or get along with others, but the coworkers don’t get to dictate that The Intern Talks to No One because they don’t like him.

      1. River Otter*

        “ Even if they have hit their limit, they are grownups and presumably experienced professionals who know how to excuse themselves from a conversation”

        Heh. One would hope, but just read the letters (and comments) here to get a sense of just how bad grownup, experienced professionals are at speaking up.

        LW might just have both an intern problem and a coworker problem.

  3. Heidi*

    I wish OP2 didn’t feel like they needed to apologize to the candidate. I can totally understand the impulse to make sympathy noises when someone is unhappy, but this candidate was the one being disrespectful and creating a bad impression. OP clearly dodged a bullet by not hiring her.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      That was my main thought too. Why the heck did LW apologize to the rude and completely off-base applicant?

      That kind of email deserves no response except to put them on a do not hire list because you don’t want to work with someone with that personality type.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Yeah, I agree. Candidates who respond rudely/disrespectfully/unprofessionally always make me feel more confident that I made the right choice not to hire that person. I do not feel I owe them an apology.

        From the hiring side, I try to be polite, to notify people in a timely manner, and treat people with respect. How they react to the notification is not on me, it’s on them.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        I wondered about the apology too. For what, exactly? Hiring somebody with more experience?

        1. sapphire chilli*

          It was probably more along the “Sorry you feel that way” type of thing.

          There is no reason to respond at all to bitter rejected candidates, least of all to apologise. OP 2 – ignore any such responses in the future and simply make a note on the file to not consider for hiring in the future.

          1. Miss Muffet*

            Exactly. I would have also recommended not responding to the rude email. There’s nothing to be gained. I’m honestly surprised she didn’t come back AGAIN to complain more.

      3. JSPA*

        1. Aggressively disgruntled people with a completely off-base understanding of how hiring works, and with a pervasive sense of being persecuted or wronged, can be dangerous. Sending something vaguely positive (before putting them on the “do not hire” list) is a safety move.

        2. As with kicking up vs kicking down, the implications of apoligizing down and apologizing up are quite different. Apologizing from a position of strength / superiority does nothing to weaken OP. (Actually feeling bad about it or taking it personally, at all, as OP seems to do…that’s what strikes me as 100% unnecessary. It’s like taking it personally when someone who’s shouting at their own invisible deamons happens to do it in your direction. Sometimes you will intersect with someone who’s having that sort of episode; it’s not something you can make-not-happen.)

        1. pancakes*

          I’m not sure it is safer to encourage people like this to continue holding others responsible for their own feelings vs. simply not responding.

          1. JSPA*

            Hm. I’m thinking weapons. Has “making vaguely concillatory noises” when faced with a potential threat somehow become a strange concept that’s been consigned to the dustbin of history?

            1. pancakes*

              I was not reading this as a necessarily violent threat. If the letter writer has reasons to believe that’s a distinct possibility here, they’ll have a better sense for that than any of us will. I think Critical Rolls has put it very well.

              In a broader sense, to the extent I disagree with you, I’m just one person online, not the arbiter of threat response.

        2. Critical Rolls*

          I don’t agree with your first point. There is no way of knowing what constitutes a “safety move” in this situation; it could just as easily be that any further engagement will make the situation worse, especially apparently sympathetic engagement. This is overanalysis of something simple, a candidate who reacted badly to rejection and has no further claim on LW’s time and energy.

      4. Observer*

        Why the heck did LW apologize to the rude and completely off-base applicant?

        That was my first thought, too.

        OP, I don’t think you did a terrible thing, but if something like this happens again, know that you don’t have any obligation (social, professional or moral) to respond at all. And you DEFINITELY do not need to apologize. In fact, I’d argue that it is actively better to NOT apologize.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I assume it waas more of a ‘sorry you feel that way’ or ‘sorry you are disappointed’ but OP did say that they werecaught off guard so probably that played into it as well.

      I agree that OP had nothing to apologise for and that the candidate just confirmed that the decision not to hire them was the right one.

      OP, some people are unreasonable and unprofessional, you can’t avoid the ‘friction’ that causes.
      You didn’t do anything wrong or inappropriate.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I understand being caught off guard, and I might do the same in person where politness requires you respond. (I think LW’s interaction was an email but the letter isn’t quite 100% clear.)

        An email allows you not to respond to a wacky response without being impolite.

      2. pancakes*

        If this was email, being caught off guard is a great reason to pause before sending a response. A post-hiring email from a candidate is almost never going to be so urgent as to require an immediate response.

    3. Aww, coffee, no*

      Dodged a bullet was definitely my first thought. If the candidate is that unprofessional when applying to a job I can only imagine how awful they’d be once they were in the job.

      1. Mockingjay*

        While I definitely think the applicant was very rude, I’m not sure “dodged a bullet” applies here. Sometimes we apply for jobs that we truly are a good fit for, have great interviews, and it stings like fury when another candidate edges us out. The job picture isn’t rosy for everyone, despite what media touts.

        I’ll put the applicant in the do not hire pile, but I’m going to give them some grace personally. Maybe they just had a really bad day and regretted the email as soon as it was sent. Or maybe OP2’s brief but kind response was enough to snap their focus back. Speculation, but I prefer to be hopeful.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          The thing is, impulse control is a desirable trait in a job candidate.
          It can sting to be rejected. It’s totally reasonable to be upset, but being willing to type up that email and click send says something about the applicant.
          What if they did the same thing after a negative interaction with a client?

          1. pancakes*

            Yes. I can definitely understand how someone would feel it “stings like fury” to not get a much-wanted job, but deciding to communicate that fury to others (or unthinkingly unleashing it on them) is a choice, or should be.

            I don’t think it’s quite reasonable, either, to think finding a job will be easy on account of being overly-invested in un-nuanced media. I understand that some people will think that anyhow; I think they’re being too credulous or inexperienced in doing so.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            I agree, and I say this as someone who can be pretty hot-headed. If they sent OP this email, I would not trust they could be reasonable in email communications as an employee.

            No one is suggesting they are like a monster who should be yeeted into the sun or anything, they might be a perfectly pleasant person 90% of the time… but I think it is fair to tell OP the upside of this weird interaction is that they get to be extra confident they made the right hiring decision!

          3. Observer*

            The thing is, impulse control is a desirable trait in a job candidate.

            Not just “desirable”. It’s absolutely a core requirement in most jobs.

            What if they did the same thing after a negative interaction with a client?

            Exactly. Or even with a supervisor or boss? Or, worse yet, a regulator? People with no filter can be a serious problem in most jobs.

          4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah. I had a colleague like that, who was perpetually in a stink and would start by writing out what he really thought, then weed out anything rude or inappropriate and add in conventional niceties and make sure vital info was there too. Except sometimes he just hit send straight after writing what he really thought “by accident”.
            He did that once after a client wrote to say “sorry, our boss has just died, so we’ll be holding off that order until we’ve sorted stuff out”. The stuff he wrote was along the lines of “who cares about your boss, one down 30 000 more to go, all I care about is my commission”. I’m pretty sure the immediate follow-up “please delete previous message without reading it” arrived too late. We never worked with that client again. Disgusting bloke, everyone hated him but he was friends with the boss (pretty ironic given the content of that email).

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I have got to disagree on this one. In general, when folks are looking for jobs, they are on their “A Game” and performing at their maximum level of professionalism so the snapping back when disappointed is what happens when on their best behavior and not a great indicator for how they would handle disappointment in the day-to-day. The applicant isn’t a terrible person or anything, but a bullet was definitely dodged. Just imagine how they would react if they were in the job and didn’t get a promotion/raise/bonus/project because it went to a coworker with more/more relevant experience?

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          The issue is not feeling stung or hurt by not getting a job, the issue is the reaction to that disappointment, lack of impulse control in lashing out, and the lack of understanding that how you treat others affects your reputation/prospects in the future. That’s generally not a great person to have on your team. What’s going to happen when they are collaborating with others and someone makes them angry? Are they going to send an nasty email to a coworker and start WWIII in the office? Those are the types of people I end up being pulled off productive work to clean up behind. Could be a one-off, could be a dodged bullet. Why take the chance when there are other candidates who come off better?

          This wasn’t even verbal – they could very well have typed up the email in anger and then deleted it. Plenty of time to rein oneself in via email.

        4. Observer*

          While I definitely think the applicant was very rude, I’m not sure “dodged a bullet” applies here. Sometimes we apply for jobs that we truly are a good fit for, have great interviews, and it stings like fury when another candidate edges us out. The job picture isn’t rosy for everyone, despite what media touts.

          How does ANY of this make the candidate’s response in any way acceptable. Sure, the rejection stings. And the candidate may be in a bad way in need of a job. But none of that makes it reasonable to complain that the OP was being “disrespectful” for not hiring the candidate. As for telling the OP that better experience is not a good reason to hire another candidate?! That’s just beyond the pale. It’s so clearly out of touch with reality that this is someone I would not hire even if they were a perfect match on paper.

        5. Jora Malli*

          When I get job rejections, I call my best friend or one of my siblings and we rant about it together until I’m calm enough to send a “thank you for letting me know, I appreciate your time” email to the company.

          It’s normal to be frustrated or upset at a job rejection. But one element of professionalism is having an appropriate outlet for work related frustrations to keep the from spilling out onto your boss or your teammate. A person who sends an email like the one OP describes is missing that element.

        6. Former Young Lady*

          Sometimes when we get rejected, it stings like fury.

          Sometimes when we meet an improbably gorgeous new colleague, it makes us giddy.

          Sometimes when we go to the bathroom, it is notably satisfying.

          There are feelings we feel during the course of our careers that are nobody else’s business in a business context. That’s why we don’t write business emails about those feelings.

        7. GythaOgden*

          Been there, done that. Didn’t make it any better, and in fact made it worse because saying it to recruiters or temp agencies is a good way to just no longer get any calls from them. I’d echo ISRPAN — impulse control is the first rule of jobhunting.

    4. MsClaw*

      I think most of the rejections I’ve gotten in the past have been pretty generic ‘we decided to go in a different direction’ type boilerplate — and I think a lot of organizations use that because it *is* pretty hard to argue with and also it doesn’t really comment one way or another on the applicant’s fitness or lack there of or underline how they compared with other candidates.

      I understand the impulse to explain the decision, but it honestly maybe better just not to.

      1. Here we go again*

        Honestly if I’m rejected for a job I don’t want to read or hear a long drawn out list of reasons why you didn’t hire me. It’s bad news and the less said the better. Unless it’s an honest you were the close runner up and we’re going to keep your info on file in case something pops up.

        1. Former Young Lady*

          I once got an email immediately after the interview that effectively said “You’re laughably underqualified for this position, so we are going to keep looking until we find someone who is.” Generic would’ve felt like a valentine by comparison!

          Still, no matter how you word a rejection, someone grandiose enough will still try to audit said rejection.

        2. JSPA*

          See, I find them helpful, unless they’re total boilerplate. If it’s experience, that means “you’re on the right track.”

          If it’s, “high level specific skills absolutely essential,” I know about a weak spot, and can choose to tailor either my further training to fix that, or tailor my further searches to avoid that, or address the issue up front.

          If it’s, “you’re not a good culture fit,” I know not to apply for other openings there (and that they’re likely self-involved jerks who are shopping for golfing buddies, under the guise of job recruitment).

      2. Emdash*

        I agree. Rejections can already sting as is. Sometimes I have wondered why I didn’t get the job, but I am working on overcoming hypercritical tendencies as is so I think any reason given would just make me feel badly. I have never gotten any sort of specific explanation in a job rejection email. The closest I guess is a “we have selected someone who best suits our needs.” But even then it hasn’t been framed as someone had more experience than you in X.

        It is hard to say though from the letter if it was more of commonplace “we went with someone who has experience than more meets our needs” boilerplate or not—I can’t decipher from the paraphrase what the actual language was.

        And while I also think an organization should just stick to a polite yet boilerplate response, especially from a legal standpoint, I understand the impulse to want to be less generic.

        Either way, I do not think the candidate’s response was an appropriate response to the situation based on the letter.

  4. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – When dealing with candidates who respond poorly to rejection, I would ignore the individual’s response and make a note in whatever applicant tracking software program you have that the person responded inappropriately, so that nobody else at your company has to deal with them.

    I had someone who went “off” when they were turned down for a role. The rejection I sent was perfectly appropriate. The individual decided that since I had written the email late in the evening, it was wildly unprofessional of me. (It was actually an indication of my extreme workload, but the candidate clearly didn’t have the emotional intelligence to see it as anything but a personal attack upon themselves). I got a screed of nonsense about how terribly I had treated them. They threatened to put my email up on their blog and contact my boss, etc. etc. etc.

    The reality is that nothing would have made that person happy about being rejected, and they would have responded inappropriately to anything I had said, because they took being rejected personally, and wanted to take their disappointment out on someone. They were looking for a reaction. I just ignored the multiple emails I received, and took it as a good indication that my decision not to move them forward in the hiring process was the right call.

    1. Rhymetime*

      One email protesting the rejection is bad enough, and I can’t imagine getting several like that.

      OP#2’s email is timely as my organization just went through something similar. In our case, the hiring manager already knew the candidate. I was part of the team that was assisting him. When the applicant was not selected for the round of finalists, she sent a sharp email to the hiring manager from which it was clear that she expected the job to be handed to her because of their prior relationship.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I could see these sorts of lashings out as “Ha! I can see right through your so-called reasons using LOGIC! No emotion here from me, I’m just looking at this rationally in a way you can’t…” And in their headspace, the other person is going to think “Oh man they’re right. Hiring the person with more experience was a terrible move, and this person was the best choice all along, and our company was terrible to not realize it.” Maybe they won’t offer up the job because they don’t want to admit their error, but they’ll realize their grave mistake in rejecting the angry emailer and feel terrible.

      Some people, on calming down, will even realize that this wasn’t the best approach and probably no one is following the script that seemed so clear as they pounded those little keys. Alison’s mail runs to those who never realize it, but there’s probably a selection bias where people realize “Wow. That was a me thing and I need to work on it” and don’t write, whereas those thinking “How can I convince the people who rejected me…” might try emailing Alison.

      1. pancakes*

        It isn’t rational to think people behave that way, though! They don’t. Maybe sometimes in comic books or something, but real people don’t tend to have the gears turn in their mind in an unusual, stilted way that leads to them reversing course and rescuing the underdog.

    3. anonymous73*

      This. OP you did NOT owe this person an apology. When someone is being unreasonable, there is little you can say to make it better. I would have been tempted to let them know that their response had led to being placed on a “do not hire” list, but that would have only fueled the fire. If this happens in the future, ignore them and move on.

    4. Aitch Arr*

      We had a recent situation where a candidate was still in the running, but we were taking longer than they would have liked to know what next steps were. Instead of asking the recruiter the status, the person went on social media and blasted us for ‘ghosting’ them.

    5. AnonInCanada*

      As Scooby-Doo would say: “YOINKS!”

      Talk about a bullet dodged! One email is bad enough, but how many did you say she sent again? Oi vey!

  5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP5 (internal transfer) I don’t think any amount of logic or appeal to reason will get this manager to change their mind. New boss needs to escalate this up the chain of command.

    1. Snow Globe*

      This is the kind of thing that would be good to take to HR. Someone in HR will realize that it is best for the company to allow the OP to transfer, versus likely leaving. If there is an open spot in the other department, there is probably an internal recruiter that is looking to fill the spot, so that would be a place to start.

      1. Antilles*

        Some HR departments would intervene just as you say, intervening under the (correct) theory that it’s better to keep a talented employee in the company rather than losing you elsewhere.
        But there are plenty of other HR departments who would decline to get involved since it’s the manager’s prerogative to handle raises, promotions, and transfers within his group as he sees fit. It might be a shortsighted or wrong decision, but it’s still his decision to make so HR doesn’t see it as their role to intervene.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          There are companies that encourage internal mobility, and others that don’t, or that don’t have any policy.

    2. Alice*

      This happened to me and I eventually got really blunt and told my manager if he wouldn’t allow my move (he was dragging his feet and giving me timelines of 6-12 months!!) I would simply resign immediately and apply to the new position as an external candidate. That startled him enough that he finally approved the move- but it burnt all the bridges and put him in a really poor light with the rest of the managers and department heads. His poor planning and management style were not my problem to manage.

      1. Purple Cat*

        ^^ this is the way!
        It’s 2022, how on earth has management still not figured out they aren’t feudal overlords holding all of the cards.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I am dealing with someone like this now, but, fortunately, I’ve got the authority to overrule them and approve the transfer. They wanted a 6-12 month “transition” period, I gave them 4-6 weeks. The employee in question is bright and well-qualified, and I’d rather keep them in our organization rather than lose them entirely. I’m also a big fan of internal promotion for strong performers.

      3. EagleRay*

        Yes! I was wondering what would prevent them from doing this. This is (yikes, hopefully) an at-will work situation.

  6. Waving not Drowning*

    OP5 – I feel for you – I’m going through EXACTLY the same scenario at the moment. Its being dealt with at a higher level than I, but its so frustrating to have the opportunity, but not be able to take it – especially when I was initially told go for it, now the message is …. stay.

    I’m trying to be all Pollyanna and seeing the bright side, knowing that I am in demand, but it still sucks!

    Hoping your situation can be resolved in your favour too

  7. Jules the First*

    Oh OP5…I feel for you, I really do. Please know that you are very much not alone and that this happens to So Many Women Designers after they have kids. We take on a more adminy role when we get back from mat leave because we’re grateful to have something that doesn’t require a lot of overtime. We get good at it, because we’re conscientious, we work hard, and we care about getting the project finished well. And then a couple of years down the line, you start to realise that your name isn’t even coming up when a new job needs a lead designer (and that youngsters with half your experience and skill are routinely getting roles that you used to get before kids), because people don’t see you as a “real” designer, because you’re good at X. Change teams now, or change jobs, because odds are that your boss isn’t going to be able to recalibrate their brain to view you as “good designer” AND good at this other thing. And please, as you start to get approached by younger women planning families and design careers…tell them this! They should be coming back from mat leave with a plan to manage this (which is often as simple as raising their profile with other teams before they go on leave and planning how long they will stay in the adminy role, how they can keep connected to design work while they do it, and when they will plan to move on if they start getting pigeonholed into this adminy role). As for you…enlist the new team lead in pressing your case with your manager, but also seek out other team leads in the business who could be better placed politically to make your manager say yes to a move.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Not for nothing, this doesn’t sound fully like an industry-specific problem. Coming back at some slightly awkward time + jumping in wherever needed because projects are in the middle of their cycle + wanting to be helpful and do what needs to be done because you’ve been out and need to ramp back up + someone else having wrapped up projects you previously had and started new ones + having less time / bandwidth to stay at the office at all hours or bend your schedule? (…Plus casual sexism at work…) All of that easily could lead to a woman looking up in a year and realizing that she now is doing more admin-type tasks and the good projects are going elsewhere.

      Obviously nothing is wrong with admin work, but if it’s not what you were hired to do, and it’s not a good use of your time, then it shouldn’t be the majority of your schedule. People definitely need a plan for their re-entry.

    2. Designmom*

      OP here- Absolutely you have nailed it! For the first several years of being a mom, I could barely cope with the sleepless nights and mental load of keeping the logistics of my family straight! I always tell my friends, families are just not designed for two working parents. Women have to put their careers on the back burner to have kids(granted, not all women, but most). This is another reason I want to move teams- the new boss is very supportive of other women and this stagnation would not have happened on her team!

      1. pieces_of_flair*

        Maybe being sidelined because of your gender and family status is something to bring up with HR if you end up going there.

  8. SandrineSmiles (France, At Work)*

    Letter 4:

    If you don’t need accomodations related to your ADHD, don’t say a thing. I mean, you’re probably in the US and… yeah. Wouldn’t look too good, sadly.

    I mean, I’m not in the US, I was diagnosed in February 2022, tried to manage symptoms on my own, told my current job’s HR in passing, told my boss’ boss in passing (cause he’s here all the time) and it became a problem all of a sudden because the company’s number 3 person saw me on my phone AS I WAS WORKING and threw a fit about it (instead of, you know, listening to my explanation in full cause I was trying to explain why I had the darn phone nearby xD) . Being pulled into an office with my boss and her assistant was no fun, and I had to tell them extensively what is “wrong” with me and my solutions for it since I’m between doctors (and out of meds right now) .

    And despite the fact that I’m not working with customers, I was told to just… “not do it”. Ah. So now I’m back to over-eating, and I still have my phone but I hide it as hard as I can cause otherwise I fall asleep at the desk (lemme tell you the day I get the meds back I’ll be saved) .

    So yeah. Don’t say a word unless you absolutely need it.

    1. MommaCat*

      Maybe try chewing gum! Fellow ADHDer here, and while I have a very physical job, driving makes me super sleepy. I was constantly snacking during my commute until I figured out that gum works. Hopefully you’ll be able to get back on meds soon!

      OP, I agree with everyone saying not to disclose, or at least wait a while to get the lay of the land. Mentioned it at my last job, suddenly was put under the microscope with everything. Mentioned it at my current job, and it’s fine. It really depends, and I really can’t tell you what has made the two situations turn out so differently.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France, At Work)*

        I’d love to but I have bad teeth so that probs wouldn’t work… and yeah I found a new doc so hopefully he listens to me and treats me well haha.

        I think my company got scared or something, and yeah in many places people probably wouldn’t care but sometimes all they can hear is “disability aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah” and they seem to think we can’t do anything anymore, even if everything was okay before they knew -_- .

        1. ceiswyn*

          I have terrible teeth. Sugar free gum has actually improved them, as well as helping with my snacking tendencies!

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

          I have bad teeth (but not ADHD ) and gum just sticks to my teeth. I have found that mints help when I need something to chew. Something like a tic tac.

    2. JSRN*

      I agree with not mentioning it unless you need accommodations. Even then, you can still have issues which is so frustrating. I have anxiety and depression as well as dyslexia. My anxiety prevents me from speaking to groups of people, especially if I have to read from a paper/document. Because the letters/words switch on me sometimes, I trip over my words then get very anxious, which makes my dyslexia symptoms worse and it keeps going until I’m out of that situation. I needed an official accommodation so I wouldn’t have to speak to large groups of people (I’m an RN so it shouldn’t even be part of my job but they added it to our jobs later since we’re in an office setting, not a hospital).

      My manager took it as a personal insult to her, like I walked into her home and insulted everything about her and her family. Of course, she didn’t do anything that can be proven to HR. She would do things like give everyone on the team special projects that would give them visibility with upper management, even the crappy workers got these projects. She refused to help me with career development, even though she was supposed to and did it for everyone else on the team. She discussed my accommodations on an email thread with other people included. When I asked her not to do that since it’s private, she became rude and dismissive to me. If I wasn’t looking for another job anyway for other reasons, I would have spoken to a lawyer to see what can be done. It was that bad. I thought she was a good manager until I needed accommodations, I never expected that type of behavior from her.

      So LW, it’s best to not say anything unless you REALLY must. I’ve learned that at work, even if your coworkers/managers disclose something, it’s not wise for you to do it as well because it will be held against you. Think of it as a court-anything you say can and will be used against you.

      Good luck to you LW. And stay strong. My 17 year old son had it as well so I understand the struggles that people with ADHD have and I feel frustrated how this particular disorder is dismissed and not taken seriously.

      1. pancakes*

        That type of retaliation sounds like maybe it could be proven. Giving projects and visibility to other people, for example, and revealing your accommodations to others, are things it sounds like you have proof of. There will be some type of record of those projects other people did, no? A presentation they made, a meeting agenda, emails? It might be worth seeking out an employment lawyer who does free consultations. The way you were treated doesn’t sound ok to me, it sounds like retaliation.

        1. JSRN*

          I’m at a much better job now with a much better manager, thank goodness. But my prior boss did it like this…let’s say I am your boss and I ask you to help me with something I’m supposed to be doing that’s very important. It’s not your “official” assignment. When I present it to upper management, I would say “pancakes prepared xyz and did this part of it” to give you recognition as well. She would ask staff verbally or thru our IM. When I asked her why she isn’t giving me assignments too, she would always say she doesn’t have anything available. But believe me, if I wasn’t interviewing for other jobs, I would have spoked to an attorney.

          I hope by sharing this, other people reading who may be in the same situation, wondering if they’re being targeted for accommodations for a mental illness/disorder or wondering if they’re just imagining it, will know subtle retaliation is real and they’re not just “overly sensitive” (actually told to me).

  9. P*

    Re OP2, I don’t have additional advice but I feel for her. This is a horrible market for trying to find a job. It’s enough to drive anyone over the edge.

    1. Allonge*

      OK but she should handle the ‘over the edge’ aspect of it not by going off at the person who shared the news but by running for a while, meditation or even drinking alcohol – something socially acceptable.

      Or less socially acceptable, but not shared with the company you were applying with anyway.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yeah, I just get the feeling that this person might respond to a bad day by taking it out on wait staff at a restaurant. Learning to deal with things is a vital part of adulting.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Anecdotally, this is not a horrible market for trying to find a job. (Though it could be for certain fields/locations.) And losing out to an applicant with more experience happens in the most dire of recessions.

      All jobs occasionally will be frustrating. No one wants to hire someone whose reaction to frustration is “YOU’RE JUST GIVING IT TO GRETL BECAUSE SHE HAS 5 YEARS MORE EXPERIENCE THAN ME AND THAT’S IMPORTANT TO THIS PROJECT, I’M DESTROYING THE PHOTOCOPIER IN RETALIATION!!”

      1. voyager1*

        In my area, good paying WFH jobs are pretty competitive. Now fast food isn’t too hard.

    3. anonymous73*

      Sorry but there is no excuse for replying to a rejection letter by arguing with the decision, and insulting the hiring committee and company. Life is hard. That doesn’t mean you get to be an asshole to everyone who tells you no for perfectly legitimate reason.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yeah, you text your friends with your frustration and arguments…not the interviewer!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Lay into your couch cushions with a point by point rebuttal to that company’s stupid rejection, explaining why you were clearly the better choice.

          Done once to get it out of your system (rather than twice a day for the next 3 years) I have plenty of sympathy for this.

          1. Lydia*

            Write up a draft email if you really need to, don’t include an email address, save it as a draft and either delete it the next day, or if you have a good friend who would understand your venting, send it to them so they can sympathize. There are so many ways to not pull people into your tantrum.

    4. me*

      It’s really not. Depending on your industry, the job market hasn’t been better in decades.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And the job candidate’s reaction to her rejection totally explains why she’s having a tough time finding a job, IMHO. I hope she can get some help, frankly.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I wonder if this has escalated in recent months because people feel like they either a) have options, and so who cares if this bridge burns; b) should have options, and so yelling at the nearest messenger will eventually convince someone to hire them.

    5. Observer*

      This is a horrible market for trying to find a job

      Factually incorrect. I’m not saying that everything is peaches and cream plus roses. But it’s actually still a pretty good labor market. But this kind of fact free thinking is a huge part of the problem that this candidate is showing.

      It’s enough to drive anyone over the edge.

      No. People have managed to not act this way in objectively worse job markets. And it’s quite possible that being “over the edge” is why this candidate is having so much trouble.

      1. voyager1*

        But it is pretty competitive for good office jobs in my area. WFH is really tough to get.

        1. Lydia*

          Maybe if you’re focusing only on WFH full time you’re having a hard time finding something, but there are a lot of hybrid and in-office jobs. I absolutely understand preferring to WFH, or needing to, but sometimes circumstances mean you have to compromise.

        2. Observer*

          There is nothing to say that this candidate was specifically looking for a WFH job. In fact, there is nothing here that indicates that WFH is at play at all in this situation.

  10. Quoi*

    LW4: Yes, it’s better not to disclose until you’ve got a better lay of the land, but a “my friend with ADHD recommended X as a resource- have you seen it?” can work wonders.
    (In my case, I disclosed and was very effectively supported by my manager – but then she got a promotion and my next manager “Didn’t believe in ADHD” and I now work in a different team)

    But if you like sharing resources and tools, could I persuade you to share them here? I’d bite your hand off!

    1. GeneralChaosWrangler*

      Seconding the request for sharing your wisdom LW4. As someone who isn’t able to disclose, I could use all the help I can get.

    2. Cat Tree*

      We’re seeing quite a few comments of this type. But as I mentioned upthread, it’s really better to just not offer unsolicited medical advice in general. The boss mentioned that she has ADHD but didn’t say that it wasn’t well-managed or that she needed more help with it.

    3. Lucy Skywalker*

      “Didn’t believe in ADHD”
      Your manager is free to believe whatever she wants, but the U.S. government believes that ADHD exists, and for her to give you a hard time about it is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act if you work in the United States.
      If you’re in another country, I’m not sure what the law is.

      1. Quoi*

        Not in the US and we have fairly ok protections – but you know as well as I do that proving this kind of bullshit is never that straightforward. ‘It’s not that she has ADHD, it’s that her performance has *mysteriously* cratered since I started managing her. Look, I’ve documented it and everything!’

        There are fights I’m willing to have, but the cost of winning that particular fight wasn’t one I was interested in paying. Easier to switch to another team.

  11. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*


    It seems that the only way Current Boss will “let” you leave is if you quit. Therefore… Can you coordinate with HR and New Boss to actually RESIGN from your current job in order to be hired into the new job?

    1. MsM*

      I feel like there was a letter that covered a similar scenario, and the general consensus was it didn’t sound like a good idea? Granted, there were some other factors to suggest the OP there was being forced out, or at least to have to give up a bunch of their accumulated benefits, but it feels like there’d still have to be enough cooperation from all the stakeholders involved that OP might as well just focus on finding the right higher-up to break the logjam instead.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        IIRC the LW would lose all kinds of benefits. And also I think everyone at the company wanted her to move to the new position; they just wanted her to lose benefits so they could pay her less.

        Resign and be rehired could be chancy, but if HR and the new boss are in agreement it’s unlikely to be. But also if HR or a more senior manager is agreement with the move there’s no need; they can simply tell old boss to start acting like a good manager and let the LW go. Frankly if more seniot managers are in agreement with the transfer, the LW can just start doing her new job at her new desk and the old boss can’t decide to fire someone who is no longer in his chain of command. This could make things awkward depending on what the old boss is allowed to get away with, though. That is why ideally you want him onboard with the change.

        1. anonymous73*

          I almost suggested this, but yes it may be risky. It seems though that if the HR department is good at their job, they should be able to come up with a solution to get her to the new department. Current boss (CB) can’t stop OP from quitting, so if everyone (except CB) is on board with the transfer, I fail to see how CB could stop the move from happening.

          1. Designmom*

            OP here- I’m in a small company, so no formal HR department. Just one employee who wears many other hats.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      I’ve wondered about this, though more in the context of people who can’t get raises, but know that if the company was hiring externally they would have to pay a new hire more- would love to hear if anyone has ever quit, then applied for the job they just left!

      While there is a risk that the prospective (or returning to the existing) position won’t work out, if OP is willing to leave without something already lined up anyway, the downsides might be pretty minimal. She might, for example, be able to negotiate the same amount of vacation she had earned through tenure before leaving.

  12. Teapot Wrangler*

    LW4 – I don’t think you need to mention your ADHD at all. Just “I came across some useful-looking resources for people with ADHD a while back. Shall I dig them out and send them over to you and you can see if any of them look like they’d be useful?” I’d steer clear of saying “a friend” in case you do want to mention that you have ADHD in future – might look a bit off

    1. Meridian*

      I’d be wary of this approach too though, simply because it might come across as a little presumptuous. Her boss will probably be wondering what knowledge OP thinks she found on google that she isn’t already getting from her doctor. Especially if the boss doesn’t know OP has ADHD too. That’s how I’d feel in the boss’s shoes, as I was diagnosed myself about six months ago.

      Or, the boss may not be offended at all, but it’s a possible reaction that OP should be aware of.

  13. Teapot Wrangler*

    LW5 – I’d get your potential new manager to escalate up the chain of command. No point in flogging a dead horse which is what speaking to your current boss seems to be.

    1. Shiba Dad*

      I agree with this. My wife was almost in a similar situation. She is moving to a new position in a federal agency. She was worried BigBoss of her current position would block the move. BigBoss of her new position advocated for her, so this issue was avoided.

      For context, current BigBoss came in from another agnecy and moved her off of a platform that she knew inside and out to work on a “special project”. Said project lacked funds, so she couldn’t do much. Her direct boss tried to get her involved with old platform, but was told no by BigBoss.

  14. After 33 years ...*

    OP2: Each year, I receive more than 100 inquiries from students looking to do graduate work with me. Some colleagues receive more than 500. Out of the large number of applicants to me, or to the university in general, there are always some who dispute their rejection, and will not accept any reason given. This has led the university to do exactly what Alison indicates – provide the minimum amount of information to rejected candidates.
    I have attempted to provide rejected candidates with more information (e.g. number of applications received vs. available positions; time required to establish research programmes for student support; number of students one professor can reasonably supervise). In some cases, the candidate recognizes those constraints, but others simply “double down” (or triple, or quadruple …). Although my instinct still is to provide more information and express sympathy, I have to recognize that some will never accept what I must say. When it’s your responsibility to make decisions, not all people will be pleased. Having been rejected myself and knowing what that feels like, all you can do is provide accurate but respectful responses.

    1. londonedit*

      Totally agree. Some people really do believe that if they’re qualified for the job, they should get the job. I’ve read letters here from the archives where people have written to Alison complaining that they were rejected from a job even though they met all the requirements, and how that can’t be fair. But unfortunately it’s not as simple as that – meeting the requirements is one thing, but it’s not the be all and end all when it comes to hiring decisions. It’s like the Olympics – you can break the world record and still end up with a silver medal if someone else breaks the world record by 0.01 second more than you did. It doesn’t mean you’re not an outstanding athlete; it just means that someone else had a slight edge over you on the day. Of course job-hunting is frustrating and of course it must be frustrating to be rejected from jobs that you believe you’d be good at, but hiring managers go with the best candidate as they see it, and they’re the ones who know the ins and outs of the company and the skills they need for the role.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Yeah it somehow never crosses their minds that OTHER people might also meet the qualifications. Like, the person is not the only one in the world who hits the minimum standard for the job. Oh they probably know it intellectually but it hasn’t sunk in deeply enough to comprehend it.

        Basically, no matter how rough job hunting is, don’t make it rougher by going ballistic over not getting hired. Just keep plugging away.

        1. Bernice Clifton*

          Yeah, I always like to use the analogy of interviewing a babysitter or petsitter and you can only hire one – you are going to choose who you think is the best fit for you if you have options, but it probably doesn’t mean the other candidates were awful or anything.

        2. QuickerBooks*

          It’s amazing how frequently people miss this most obvious and basic point. I always say that being on the hiring end just one time in your life–having to choose between candidates–will forever change the way you apply for anything. The first thing that happens is you stop taking everything personally.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, I’ve seen that on teaching sites, IRISH teaching sites (this is relevant since I have the impression there are other countries where teaching jobs may be less hotly contested). “I applied for THREE jobs and haven’t had an interview yet and I was fully qualified for all three and have years of experience. Clearly there is nepotism at work.” It is not unusual for schools in Ireland to get 100 or more applications and they usually interview 3-5 candidates, so…being qualified and having experience is not reason to expect an interview or the job.

        Some people genuinely seem to think that when a hiring manager is hiring, they are deciding specifically whether or not to hire them and if they are rejected, either they did something “wrong” or the hiring manager is biased/being unfair. Some people don’t seem to consider that there may be dozens of qualified applicants for a job and the hiring manager is deciding “which of these people will I hire?” not “is this person worth hiring?”

        1. pancakes*

          Yes. I don’t know where the disconnect is. It’s as if people who think this way think the hiring process comes to a standstill as soon as the hiring manager encounters someone (them) who meets the requirements. Would they honestly do that themselves, rather than look through the rest of the candidates to see whether there aren’t even better matches? That would be pretty lazy and slapdash.

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

          I’ve got to wonder how they think hiring happens…do they think that it’s first come first serve? The first “qualified” person that submits their resume gets the interview and then gets the job? Like calling into a radio station to win concert tickets — if they are looking for caller 102, and you’re caller 102, you get the tickets. There’s no room in their method for a bracket-system of being compared against other qualified candidates.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            My guess is they just don’t think about the other candidates at all. They think they are applying for a job and it’s the hiring manager’s role to decide whether or not they get it. I guess, if they are recent grads, they might be thinking of it like an exam: if you get all the answers right, you get the A and if you don’t get an A in that situation, it means there is an issue. If you fail, it’s because you’ve made some mistakes, didn’t understand the material properly or didn’t study or something went wrong for you.

            But older people do it too and even recent grads should know logically that there is a difference between a test and choosing somebody for a job.

    2. Asenath*

      When I had to send rejection emails, I always thanked them for their interest, and added something to the effect that we had so many excellent candidates… can’t remember the exact wording now, but what I tried to get across was that almost all the candidates were qualified, ALL the ones called for interview had the qualifications, it came down to tiny differences among excellent candidates (it was for a very limited number of very desirable positions).. I mean, we can’t accept them all. Mostly, they took the rejection politely; occasionally one would ask for further feedback (which, as policy, we didn’t give). How hard is it to realize that sometimes it isn’t your day, sometimes someone else had slightly better experience, seemed slightly more informed, professional and enthusiastic in the interview? I’ve been rejected for many jobs; it’s not nice. But to go back and say, essentially “You were wrong, I’m the right candidate, prove I’m not!”?? Some people you just can’t get to see sense at moments like this.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I see a difference between asking for feedback to help them in future applications differently from arguing that the rejector made a mistake.

        From what I’ve seen a person who is asking for feedback has accepted your decision and is moving to the next application – they just want to know if there is anything they can do to improve their candidacy for the next application.

        The person who is arguing that you made a bad choice in rejecting them – yeah, they are still invested in this job (that they aren’t going to get), and the best choice may well be to just not engage – and depending on how they act while arguing to mark them never eligible for hire.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Realized I left off something I thought was there: the key to reinforcing that you aren’t arguing with the decision is in my experience:

          Thank you for letting me know. If you are willing and able is there any advice that you could offer that I can apply to future applications?

          And then accepting no or no reply graciously.

  15. StealthAnon*

    In my experience, the people who react so badly to being rejected have toxic written all over them in many other ways. I remember one guy who was rejected in screening because his credentials didn’t match the requirements (and he implied having a doctorate from [Ivy League School] when it was really from [Similarly Named Tiny Bible School].

    After getting a nasty message back (how dare we not interview him with his credentials from Ivy???), a curious Google search found a website about how he had used his authority to sexually abuse someone. He wasn’t even legally allowed to do the job he had applied for.

  16. Saraquill*

    Over the years, there were jobs I was unhappy rejected me as a candidate. Much worse is when I’m rejected from a job *my mom* was hoping I’d get. Cue multiple phone calls from her, nagging me in the hopes I’d nag the company into giving me an interview.

    One of the benefits of AAM is pointing out to her how her suggested tactics will harm, not help.

    1. Gracely*

      If that happened to me, I would never tell my mom about my job hunt again until I had the job. Possibly not until I was *at* the job.

      I hope she listened to the AAM advice and backed off.

  17. Atalanta*

    OP4 I’m going to be the outlier here. I have ADHD and possibly Autism plus I’m physically disabled. My program Director also has ADHD and we’ve talked about his son who has ADHD and potentially Autism as well. I am starting an EBRG (employee business resource group) for employees with disabilities, chronic illness and neurodivergence and their allies.We’re currently doing a survey on neurodivergence in the tech industry so we can try to reshape some of our policies to make it easier for ND people. My direct manager isn’t afraid of difficult conversations, either. So while I agree disclosing a disability, especially an invisible disability, is a risk it could also lead to business improvement and a better working environment for everyone. Obviously a lot depends on company culture, we have a strong D&I program, and we have support from our C-level folks.

    1. Parakeet*

      Also autistic + ADHD + other stuff, and yeah I do think there’s a company culture, and field culture, aspect to this (and it can be hard to judge your own company and field regarding an identity or diagnosis that is new to you). I’ve been pretty cautious around disclosure, for a few reasons, one of which is that autism in particular is NOT common in my field.

      However, a newer hire on my team (a peer – I’m not a manager), who is new to the field, disclosed that they were autistic + ADHD during the interview process. And I could see some similarities between them and me. In their first couple of weeks on the job, I disclosed to them, and asked them if they WANTED a conversation about particular things I’ve run into in this field as an autistic + ADHD person. They did, so we had a nice conversation about it. If they hadn’t, I would have left it alone.

  18. L-squared*

    #1. Interns are tough to have in the office, especially if they aren’t really interns in your department. My company has interns every summer (we have a batch starting next week). Some are awesome, some are a pain and I dread having to talk to them. Our interns are on a completely different team that I almost never interact with, so I rarely get to experience the “positive” things they may bring, but things like going against the office norms are much more visible, so it can lead to an imbalanced view of them. Add to that, our interns are in roles that require fewer “soft skills”, and it just isn’t always a great situation for the full time employees.

  19. ecnaseener*

    LW4, in my experience it’s not uncommon for two people to have very different experiences of ADHD and make wrong assumptions about each other.

    – Most people don’t have every single symptom so odds are you will have some symptoms she doesn’t have and vice versa
    – different life experience and personality means you probably mask different symptoms in different ways to different extents
    – she’s coming to terms with a new diagnosis while you’ve had several years to understand it
    – you put “disorder” in scare quotes (which I assume means you see it as more neutral rather than disabling) which might be a completely different outlook than hers

    You get the drift – lots of room for mistaken assumptions on either side about how the other person must understand your experience especially well.

    In more concrete terms, if she’s just figured out that a problem she’s been struggling with her whole life is an ADHD symptom, she’ll likely assume you have the same problem even if you’ve never shown signs of it (because you don’t have that symptom or you figured out coping mechanisms years ago or whatever).

    On your side, I don’t want you to assume she’ll be understanding about something only to have her go “that can’t be ADHD, it’s never happened to me!”

    1. ecnaseener*

      Forgot to finish my thought lol – don’t get me wrong, it’s delightful to find other ADHDers who DO get you on a fundamental level because your brains work the same way. But its not worth the risk with your boss.

    2. FiveWheels*

      Yeah, this. ADHD is disabling for me. It’s not disabling because of societal issues, I’m not someone who is a hunter in a farmer’s world, I straight-up have time blindness and executive function problems that make every aspect of life excruciatingly difficult (and then I got medication and ahhhh, life makes sense now). My experience of ADHD is that it’s no more a case of “neurodiversity” than a congenital condition I have with my bones is “osteodiversity” – it’s just a straight up illness.

      That’s not the case for everyone with ADHD, for sure.

      By LW4’s scare quotes, it seems like this isn’t the case for her. Now, that’s great! I’m glad if her own brain isn’t sabotaging her! Buuuuuut people who don’t feel inherently disabled by their ADHD tend to have a fundamentally different outlook on their ADHD than those who do feel inherently disabled. What works for one has a good chance of being frustrating or even offensive to the other.

      I’ve seen enough extremely energetic arguments online, where nobody has any stakes whatsoever, to know that this is a huge danger area in a situation where if LW4 offends Boss, LW4’s job could be at risk… if Boss offends LW4, LW4 could end up in an extremely uncomfortable working environment… and neither of them can speak freely to one another.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “people who don’t feel inherently disabled by their ADHD tend to have a fundamentally different outlook on their ADHD than those who do feel inherently disabled.”

        Strongly agree. Mine manifests in ways that I absolutely feel disabled, but in the right work environment can function pretty well (the disability part manifests a lot worse in my home life). The amount of judgemental advice I’ve gotten from other people with ADHD who clearly aren’t experiencing the same level of executive dysfunction as me…is a lot.

        I actually don’t like knowing when other people have ADHD. That might not be fair, and I’d never say it to them directly. But I feel like it becomes this weird comparison thing I’m not fond of and I don’t think is good for me. I find myself using the phrase “my ADHD presents this way” and feeling defensive a lot.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Suddenly feeling self conscious and want to add I also have a physical disability – I know I’ve described myself as disabled on the site before and don’t want this to be what it seems like I’m talking about. See how quickly it gets in your head?

        2. pancakes*

          That’s interesting and makes a lot of sense. I don’t have direct experience with it but I’ve read enough to know that people can have very different experiences.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            It makes loads of sense to me because I have quite a few autistic like characteristics. No idea whether I have autism or not and I doubt I’d get a diagnosis (even if I had any interest in that, which I don’t) because none of the traits are disabling. A few are irritating – mainly the picky eating and the fact that I…well, I always say I haven’t been programmed with the set answers others have – but no more so than something like being shy or being given to procrastination or getting stage fright would be irritating. I’ve seen descriptions of autism that seem like descriptions of me until they get to the part about creating difficulty in numerous parts of the person’s life or affecting all aspects of their life

            Some of it is circumstances too. My colleagues seem to have a good idea what I’m good at and ask me to do those things. I once offered to take a class, not realising it was more about supporting a student with emotional needs and my head of department was like, “no, I need to keep you for the academic stuff.”

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          I actually think framing it as “my ADHD presents this way” is great and is something more of us should do! And not just for ADHD but in other scenarios where it can be useful to remember that we all have different experiences (which honestly is most scenarios!)

      2. Lucy Skywalker*

        I have ADHD and Nonverbal Learning Disorder, and you have hit the nail on the head as to why I dislike the term “neurodiversity.” While there are benefits to having ADHD (creativity) and NVLD (excellent verbal skills), I see them as blessings in disguise, not superpowers. I have a legitimate disability, as in, there are some things that I am unable to do because of my condition. It’s not just a little quirk or a different way of being wired or a special way of thinking or anything like that. I get that describing it as such can be helpful for young children, but I’m an adult now and I can handle the truth: that what I have is a disability. It’s no more a “special way of thinking” than asthma or cystic fibrosis is a “special way of breathing.”

        1. Ray Gillette*

          From what I’ve seen, the people who want to outright frame it as a superpower are generally overcorrecting for large amounts of negativity in their lives. My ADHD is a disability in that it prevents me from doing things that I need to do, but it’s not a curse, and it does come with some cool bonus perks. I probably couldn’t do my current job as well as I do if I didn’t have it.

    3. cubone*

      this is a great comment. My personal experience: a recent diagnosis can be very complicated and confusing. There’s moments where I’ve bonded with other ADHDers and felt on top of the world, and other times where I feel like I’m having an identity crisis. Sometimes when I’ve disclosed to others (coworkers, friends, etc), it’s only to like, just get it out of my brain and into the world. I have one friend who has a different mental health issue, not ADHD, and she just immediately jumped into asking a billion questions about how she can be helpful to me and it was beyond exhausting.

      The only good advice here is “follow your boss’ lead”. If she mentions looking for resources, consider sharing, if she says “x is hard for me because of ADHD”, ask if you can do X in a way that’s more effective. But if she just says “I have adhd”, just say thanks for trusting me with that.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Yeah, there’s this thing in certain ADHD spaces where people treat it like it’s the single most important defining trait of a person and We Have Found Our People and honestly, if it helps some people, great, but it can be extremely alienating if you’re in a group looking for support. ADHD isn’t my personality, or my values, or my life experience. It’s a profound inability to make my brain do what I want it to do.

        Do I have some very close friends who also have ADHD? Yep! Is it cool realising that? Yep, in a “lol we have the same disasters” way. But someone else having ADHD doesn’t make them connected to me any more than someone having the same allergy or whatever would, and man, I would not want to have to navigate that with a boss or subordinate.

    4. Meridian*

      I agree and relate with everything you’re saying here. Especially the “disorder” scare quotes- ADHD is, by definition, a disorder, and getting diagnosed as an adult often comes with its own kind of baggage.

      1. FiveWheels*

        “It’s a superpower, I can work all night for a deadline if I have to!”

        Meanwhile I’m sitting here like the only reason I ever have to work all night is I was wasting time all day. And my non-ADHD colleagues also pull all nighters when they have to.

        “I’m a hunter in a farmer’s world!”

        It would be great fun watching me hunt. With persistence hunting, there’s a very high chance I’d get bored soon after I started. And while I can hit almost anything with a bow, that anything won’t be a skittish animal – because my inattention means I won’t notice if it’s time to make my shot, my hyperactivity means the animal will see me from miles away and keep its distance, and my impulsiveness means that even if everything else goes well I’ll probably shoot too early and miss.

        “The modern world makes it so much worse!”

        No, the modern world gives me @dderal and Just Eat and work from home to my own schedule! The modern world is great!

        “If you call it a disorder that means you must hate yourself”

        As it happens I have far more self esteem than almost anyone else I know. Part of my brain doesn’t work right. One of my knees doesn’t work right either. Acknowledging that doesn’t mean I think less of myself… but listening to the “superpower” nonsense DOES make me want to pour a very big drink!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “Part of my brain doesn’t work right. One of my knees doesn’t work right either.”

          Right there with you on that one!

        2. Lucy Skywalker*

          “Don’t think of yourself as diabetic. Think of yourself as having a very special way of digestion!”

    5. F.M.*

      I really appreciate this comment, because–yes, as someone with ADHD, sometimes it can be more alienating/frustrating than helpful to try to share experiences, because the places where the experience of it doesn’t match up can then be all the more upsetting (or othering) by not expecting them. I have had sometimes had very uncharitable thoughts about certain presentations of “Yes, of course, ADHD is just like–” where it doesn’t match the way it works for me. That’s not something anyone wants to introduce to a work relationship!

    6. GythaOgden*

      Yup. I am autistic and it is very much a disorder for me. I get that other people want to see it as a condition rather than a disorder, but it’s done irreparable damage to my career etc such that I’m not going to call it anything else. It could be very damaging to soften the language so much we lose its actual impact on people who go through the stress and hassle of an objective thing in an effort to be inclusive.

      Include us by acknowledging we have sensory and developmental issues that hamper our ability to interact with neurotypical society. Understand what we need and understand why we conceptualise our issues as a disorder. To put it in perspective, I broke my ankle a while ago and use a walking stick. I can’t run and I can’t stand, and am in legit pain. You wouldn’t just assume I was ‘differently abled’ or my injury was just a ‘condition’ or a ‘social contract’. There’s nothing shameful about being injured, but people understand I need assistance with some things and can’t do others. It may never heal properly and while I’m mobile (and actually need to move about to stop bone degradation/osteoporosis) people have been super-kind and thoughtful when they see a visible problem with my leg.

      Likewise with autism. For me it’s the neurological equivalent of a gammy leg. I will sometimes need help and people are getting much better about invisible disabilities. But it’s still a /dis/ability.

  20. Nonny Mouse*

    #1 Reminds me of when I was interning at a place with one other intern. I overheard the boss say to the secretary, who was a very sweet woman with, at that moment, a scowl on her face, “Now, now, Jane, he’ll be gone in three months.”
    I was just so relieved I was a “she”.

  21. Bookworm*

    #2: FWIW, it depends on how you framed the more experience answer. If you simply said that the other candidate had more experience, etc. then yes, totally wrong. But I’ve gotten the “more experience” explanation, plus additional information that I needed an entry level position to qualify for the one I had applied for (this was after we had interviewed and I assumed they had read my application materials…).

    Again, your experience and the one I just described might have been unusual, and not trying to justify what the candidate did, but sometimes orgs may not realize something like “better edge” might come across. And again, it may have been for the best and this candidate is ABSOLUTELY not a good fit for the org (or anywhere else if this is how rejection is generally handled…).

    1. anonymous73*

      No, it doesn’t depend on anything. It doesn’t matter if it was a form letter. You say you’re not trying to justify the response, but your first paragraph contradicts that. Rejection sucks. That doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk to the messenger no matter how the rejection is worded.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You aren’t actually entitled to know why you were rejected from a job. “More experience” is a lot more than some candidates get, and it’s also a perfectly legitimate reason to pick one person over the other.

      Getting rejected sucks but this reaction is not correct.

    3. Bernice Clifton*

      Sometimes it IS about an edge, though. Maybe a candidate with less actual experience totally clicked with a decision-maker, or has industry experience*, or demonstrated a track record of getting results or whatever.

      * For example, a lot of accountant jobs are similar, but if I am hiring for an accountant at say, a real estate company, maybe I want the candidate who has a few years of experience in real estate, mortgage, or title company doing accounting than someone with 10 years of experience doing at accounting at a dentist office.

    4. Observer*

      but sometimes orgs may not realize something like “better edge” might come across.

      So? If you squint really hard and twist JUST SO, I could see the “disrespectful” comment as not being totally out to lunch and disconnected from reality. Still ridiculously rude, though. But telling the OP that it is not a good reason?! Even if the company had genuinely messed up and looked at the wrong person’s application materials or something like that, “not a good reason” simply makes no sense whatsoever!

      The OP definitely dodged a bullet here.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      I’m not sure it matters how LW framed the bit about more experience. The fact is that it doesn’t matter. They’ve chosen someone else for whatever reason, and if the reason WASN’T is that the selected candidate had more experience, do they need to go down the rabbit hole of nitpicking what the other person did better? Further, a lot of times the reason why you chose one candidate another doesn’t boil down to something qualitative. Sometimes it’s just that one person was very good and the other person was great, or you just liked the other person more. Are you supposed to put that in the rejection letter?

      I don’t assume the rejection letters are telling the whole truth, unless they specifically point out something that I was missing or something that I did wrong, which employers don’t do very often. Nor does the company owe me the whole truth as they are hiring someone else. The information I need is that I’m not the pick. Most of the time, beyond that, I assume they are just attempting to move on with their business, and letting me know to move on with mine.

    6. Former Young Lady*

      In business and in social life, there are certain people who will flip out in response to any rejection, no matter how carefully you word it to be dispute-proof.

      These are not people who respond to nuance. There’s no magic phrase that’s 100% effective against aggrieved entitlement.

  22. Purple Cat*

    LW3 – Communication flow like that drives me mental. Our org will share things at the monthly performance meetings, but then it never officially gets communicated anywhere else. And the slides from those meetings aren’t stored centrally for those who miss it. It would be really poor form (but definitely not illegal) for management to fire anyone who doesn’t follow a policy they don’t know about, but plenty of letters here prove there’s lots of poor managers out there. Personally, I wouldn’t come in until my boss specifically told me of the new policy, but I’m contrary like that (with a lot of built-up capital).

    LW4 – I really appreciate the commentariat especially reading the responses to your letter. I was all “of course just say “my sister” has ADHD and share your resources. But really, the answer is “don’t offer unsolicited medical advice to someone else” – especially if they’re recently diagnosed since they’re probably getting “helpful” feedback from everyone they know.

    1. Observer*

      especially if they’re recently diagnosed since they’re probably getting “helpful” feedback from everyone they know

      That’s an EXCELLENT point!

  23. anonymous73*

    #1 I think you definitely need to figure out if the socializing is still an issue or if your co-workers are just being unreasonable. Be clear and direct with the interns on expectations and don’t expect them to understand hints.
    #2 you did not owe the applicant an apology. When things like that happen, it’s best to ignore the email, and notate somewhere in your system that they are no longer eligible for hire. You can’t reason with unreasonable people.
    #4 I agree with Alison. Even though you’ve been diagnosed with the same thing, it doesn’t mean you will cope with it in the same way. Telling your boss may lead her to assume things and affect you negatively.
    #5 I would go to HR. Your boss can’t stop you from quitting so I don’t understand how she can really stop you from moving to another team. It’s the job of management to be prepared for anyone leaving at any time. If she can’t rely on your team to pick up your work, that’s a her problem, not a you problem.

    1. STG*

      “Your boss can’t stop you from quitting so I don’t understand how she can really stop you from moving to another team.”

      I’ve worked at companies where the supervisor of your current team has to be notified and approve before they would even allow the application to be submitted. It didn’t hold me back personally but I always thought it had the potential to turn out like the OP’s situation.

      1. anonymous73*

        I get that, but I feel like if OP has an HR department that actually does their job, they can make it happen. Because the alternative is the OP leaving the company for a better job, so the boss is in a no win situation.

        1. voyager1*

          I have worked places like STG. I would not count HR telling a manager to sign off on a transfer or promotion, because I have experienced that very thing. Manager held me back, HR threw their hands up and said we can’t do anything.

          I left for a better job 12 weeks later. Manager in question didn’t even speak to me during my notice period. Yep she was definitely manager of the year material LOL!

          1. anonymous73*

            Again, I get that. I’m not saying that going to HR is guaranteed to solve this problem. But it may be an option to explore. A company with any brains won’t allow a stellar employee go because their manager is being unreasonable.

            1. Designmom*

              Op here! No HR department in my company. Potential new boss has absolutely and persistently advocated with current boss as well as the boss on top of her, and while things now seem to be moving along veeeeeeeerrrrryyyyy slowly, no one is willing to make a firm commitment and give me a timeline of when the move will happen and what it will entail. Current boss has quite often told me “if this is not a good fit for you, you are free to find another company that is”.

              1. I should really pick a name*

                Your boss is handling this badly, but I think you should take their advice.

  24. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    But there are still two coworkers who complain that everything my intern says is annoying, and they want me to discipline him for speaking to them. Likewise, they get annoyed when they see him talking to other coworkers and want me to discipline him for those interactions that don’t even affect them.

    It sounds like these coworkers have reached BEC levels of annoyance with your intern, but they need to handle that themselves. As Alison says, tell them that if they have specific complaints then bring those to you, but otherwise you’re not going to tell your intern to stop speaking to EVERYONE in the office.

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      I was thinking the same thing. I know people whose mere existence grates on me… and that’s a me problem, not a them problem. I did laugh at the idea that they wanted the intern to NEVER speak to them. Damn.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I know – what if Those two are a department and Intern has to speak with them about something related to their department’s role and his current assignment? It’s one thing to say please don’t disrupt me while I’m working – but it’s totally another to say you can’t talk to me at all, even when there is a business need to.

        Yes, this may possibly be fan fic – but we’ve also seen letters about that here as well.

      2. Unaccountably*

        They wanted him *punished* for speaking to them! Like, I absolutely get their BEC feelings and there are many people I would like to have punished for talking to me, but that’s… not a reasonable request.

        1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

          Yes, the fact that they actually asked LW1 to punish the intern is… concerning.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Also? Interns are temporary, by their very nature. OP can be the bigger person here and remind the coworkers that at the end of the summer/semester/whatever the intern will be gone, and to just dial it all the way back.

      And OP can also talk to the intern and tell him to keep his social interactions to a notch above zero, if his socializing is still actually an issue.

      1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

        Right, the intern is only here for a set amount of time. And their request to punish him for merely speaking to these people is both ridiculous and worryingly vindictive.

  25. voyager1*

    LW1 Honestly, sounds like bullying to me:

    “But there are still two coworkers who complain that everything my intern says is annoying, and they want me to discipline him for speaking to them. Likewise, they get annoyed when they see him talking to other coworkers and want me to discipline him for those interactions that don’t even affect them.”

  26. FiveWheels*

    I also have ADHD (severe, diagnosed as an adult).

    I would be extremely uncomfortable with a colleague giving me unsolicited advice about how to manage it.

    This goes doubly so if the colleague was above or below me on the chain of command.

    If you’re “out” about ADHD (I am – informed my employer to get accommodations, and I mention it conversationally with colleagues I’m friendly with) and so is your boss, then I think it’s fine to mention it… but unsolicited advice on how to manage a health/mental health/neurodevelopmental condition? That’s a hard no in casual social situations and an extremely hard no in professional settings.

    If your boss doesn’t already know you have ADHD, then mentioning it also means you’re casually telling her that you have a protected disability. That’s the kind of conversation that, if you’re going to have, you should have carefully.

  27. WonkyStitch*

    #2 – when I was a recruiter, I advocated strongly for giving candidates the most feedback as possible, as quickly as possible once we knew they were out of the running.

    Unfortunately after several of them kept pushing and complaining, my boss put his foot down and said no more feedback, ever. After that, they got the automated email sent by the application system when we closed a position.

    An example: we were hiring for a 2nd recruiter and I liked a guy I’d spoken with. He said that due to his family situation (wife was a nurse, if I remember correctly, and worked overnights), he’d need a different schedule than the norm, say 10-7 instead of 8-5. I liked his experience and we’d had a good discussion, so I gave his resume to my boss and explained the schedule he needed. Boss said that wouldn’t work, he needed someone to work 8-5 (even though being available later in the day would be beneficial to candidates), and so I gave that feedback politely to the candidate and moved on.

    The candidate then called and complained that he’d already scheduled day care for his kids based on the 10-7 schedule for this job (we’d only done the initial interview), and how dare I, he’d assumed the job was his, he needed to speak to my boss NOW. He called the front desk of the company and asked for the boss (looked up his name on the website), and pled his case. My boss was unamused (and blamed me for the fiasco – one of the reasons I no longer work there).

    1. Observer*

      This is a perfect example of why the people who are trying to excuse the applicant because maybe the OP’s company is actually not handling things perfectly, or maybe they had a bad prior experience are wrong.

      It sounds like you former Boss and job were not great and had some stupid ideas about how to manager. And perhaps your boss should have tried to accommodate this guy. So, theoretically, he would have a legitimate beef. But his flip out was STILL ridiculous. The employer gets to set the schedule (absent specif exceptions which didn’t apply) and kicking up this kind of fuss is ridiculous. I don’t blame your boss for being unamused (although I agree that blaming you because a candidate acts like an idiot is not great.)

    2. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Unfortunately after several of them kept pushing and complaining, my boss put his foot down and said no more feedback, ever.

      This is why we can’t have nice things. (I also think your boss behaved rather ridiculously about the over-the-top guy — blaming you for it was ludicrous — but I see the point of this rule.)

  28. El l*

    Because it’s not actually clear from your letter – have you literally asked your current boss to move teams?

    Have you clearly stated, “I’ve been in x role for y years, it’s time for a change. I request a move to z team. They have told me they would welcome this change.” Because they need to hear that before you go further.

    If they do know that’s your wish, then up the ante, and do as Alison suggests.

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I mean, applying for the transfer and being accepted could totally be misunderstood and the boss totally might think she wants to stay and did all that by accident?

        1. Lydia*

          At this stage, not much, but generally it’s the kind of thing to alert your boss to before you do it.

  29. Julia*

    I used to agree with Allison’s standard advice re hiding mental health issues at work, but I’ve realized my opinion has diverged from hers.

    It might often be safer not to disclose, but sometimes it can actually be safer to disclose. Particularly if your mental illness is causing performance problems, you may be able to avoid disciplinary action by giving your employer some context for the situation.

    Even if your performance is unaffected, this is one of those things where the more people who are open about it, the more we can change the stigma in the workplace. In fact, particularly if you have a good track record, you may be in a good position to change people’s attitudes about mental illness. Because of that, I don’t think it’s super socially responsible to discourage people from disclosing in all cases.

    And finally, it’s really just dependent on the person’s individual situation. Workplaces vary, and the letter writer is in the best position to know whether her workplace is mental health friendly enough that she’s safe to disclose. It’s an individualized risk assessment question.

    People should know there’s a risk, but I think you’re off base in concluding that risk means never disclose.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Alison has to give the most widely applicable advice in cases like this, because she’s not just responding to the LW she’s responding to everyone reading with a similar problem. From the amount of information the LW gave there’s just no way to know what the potential consequences are. And to address your point, usually if there is a performance problem Alison DOES say to disclose, or at least disclose there’s something medical/personal going on, for exactly that reason. That’s not what this letter is about.

      I personally disclose, it’s a super personal decision that no one can make for you – but if you ask a third party for advice, especially a professional columnist, their responsibility is to make sure you know the risks.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Also as someone with a lot of reasons to be discriminated against, I find it irresponsible to tell people to put themselves and their livelihood at risk for the sake of destigmatizing. You don’t know the LW’s situation.

        1. SloanGhost*

          It can also often appear that it would be totally fine, other staff and management seem really cool and accepting and even disclose disabilities of their own, and then when you disclose…they turn hard.

          It happened to meeee.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            People are notoriously bad at recognizing their own biases and shortcomings! Talk is cheap, what happens when it becomes real can be surprising and bad.

        2. Julia*

          Responding to both your comments at once: First, re giving the most widely applicable advice, it’s possible to give nuanced advice that is also generally applicable. She could say “it’s risky, here are the risks, here are the benefits, the decision to disclose or not depends on your circumstances.” She says that about a lot of things. But when it comes to this her advice is always not to disclose, across the board. I disagree with that.

          Second, I very intentionally did NOT say that people should put their livelihood at risk just to destigmatize for other people’s benefit. I said it’s not socially responsible to advise people *not* to disclose in all cases. If someone wants to disclose, and has considered the risks and benefits, it may be the right decision, both for their sake and because it has broader social benefits. But no one should put their career at risk just to be a good citizen.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Did you read the post she linked?

            “The reality is that there’s still a stigma around this kind of diagnosis, despite how incredibly common ADHD is. There are still too many managers who will hear you have ADHD and forever after that interpret anything you do through that lens. Everyone has days where they’re somewhat unfocused and most managers will cut you some slack for that … but once you’ve disclosed, there’s a high chance that even minor mistakes you make — ones that would be excused in other people — will be seen as signs of your ADHD and a need for you to control it better. Or they’ll just always see you as disorganized and bad at focusing, even if you’re not giving them much evidence of that. You’re entitled to the same slack everyone else gets without having your boss think, “Wow, Bob just can’t get it together.”

            That said, once you’ve worked somewhere for a while and gotten to know your boss, you might decide that you do feel safe sharing your diagnosis — that there would be benefits to it and that you trust your boss to handle it well. Even then, though, I’d only do it if there are specific accommodations you want to ask for, like structured breaks or a quieter workspace. You want the conversation to be tied to something actionable you’re asking for, in order to make it worth taking the risk and also so your boss is clear on exactly what you’re asking her to do (and can hopefully funnel her response in that direction rather than in one of her own choosing, which may not line up with what you want).

            And to be clear, I’d like it if my answer could be, “Of course, talk about it freely.” I hope one day that will be the case. This is just about being realistic about how this often goes in our current reality.”

            1. Julia*

              Yes, I did read that. It sounds like you and I actually agree on this: we both think there are big risks but there are some situations in which disclosure might be the right decision for the individual’s situation.

    2. cubone*

      Regarding your 3rd paragraph: since sharing my diagnosis/es with a few people, quite a few have mentioned to me the importance of “changing stigma”. One of my friends (“friend” may be better) told another mutual friend and was shocked at my surprise/offender, because why would I want to keep mental health in the dark?? It’s not something to be ashamed of. Which like, obviously don’t tell people someone’s personal info if they haven’t explicitly said you can, but the thing that struck me was how she really thought encouraging me to tell everyone would be an empowering experience and would make me feel good because it was “helping to change the world”.

      The thing is: I just … don’t care. Of course I would like a world where mental health is less stigmatized, but I don’t have the energy or desire to take that on through disclosing MY mental health condition. Nor do I think awareness of who has mental illness is actually the greatest barrier-breaker to systemic stigma, but that’s maybe a whole other rant I’ll save for my diary. The point is just I see this argument a LOT (I feel it a lot frankly) and it seems to forget the counter argument of: but maybe I don’t want to.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep. I totally get the argument that there’s no change without disclosure, but particularly if you aren’t the one who has to shoulder the consequences of that disclosure, I really don’t want to hear it.

        And I say that as someone who discloses! That’s a choice I make, and destigmatizing is absolutely part of that. I’m a high performer with a lot of privilege who doesn’t mind making noise – and I still have ABSOLUTELY dealt with negatives. It’s not “safer” because you perform well or you’re a “good” marginalized person or anything else we say to people to put burdens of their communities on their shoulders. It’s just not your choice. And I’m very happy with Alison encouraging people to prioritize their safety.

    3. Dino*

      If it’s affecting your performance, getting official accommodations or intermittent FMLA is the way to go. And I say this as a person with 3 different mental health issues including ADHD. Getting formal accommodations will protect your job, whereas disclosure only offers an explanation without solutions. Get a the accommodations and protections you need.

      I do self-disclose with some coworkers, but rarely my boss unless they’ve already disclosed to me. And even then I know I’m playing with fire and won’t do so without accommodations in place.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Super agree I just want to remind readers that (federally, this varies by state) employers with less than 15 employees aren’t legally bound to provide ADA accommodations and FMLA won’t kick in for a year/requires more documentation than some people want to pursue – and that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve support. Just be careful with who you tell what.

        1. Dino*

          Thank you, fantastic addition! It can limit your options but if you can, it’s smart to make sure any company you’re thinking about joining is obligated to follow ADA and FMLA.

    4. moonstone*

      I think the more accurate answer to whether or not to disclose at work is “it’s up to you and use your best judgment”.

      But…I do think it’s more risky to disclose than not. If you’re having performance problems due to a mental illness and you disclose, some people might see the issues as more insurmountable than if they thought they were just temporary mistakes.

      In a perfect world, workplaces would be equipped to deal with and provide resources targeted for certain mental illnesses (possibly under the umbrella of ADA in the US), but that just isn’t the case right now. If your workplace is in fact one of those rare places, then it could benefit you to disclose, but most aren’t.

  30. Becky S.*

    OP 2 and everyone else – years ago I worked in HR for a large bank in a large city. We had a candidate announce that he wanted a job in our ‘real estate appraisal’ department. We had no such department and told him that. We didn’t offer any other options for the obvious reason. He began stalking our branches that had HR people, tried to get past security, was extremely and inappropriately persistent. Our security was excellent at their jobs and eventually the guy moved on.
    When people show you who they are, believe them.

  31. Not Today Josephine*

    #1 The first thought that came to mind is that the intern is from a different ethnic or racial group or presents as non-cis. I worked at a large multinational company where at our facility, of about 150 to 200 employees, there was exactly one employee who was African American and one who presented as gay, and they were both treated horribly by other employees to the point where they both quit.

  32. SloanGhost*


    Some people are suggesting that you make suggestions to your boss “from a friend” or that you just “happened” to read some strategies (insert plausibly deniable tactic here), and I would strongly caution against that.

    If I were your boss and had recently disclosed my ADHD, I would not take kindly to someone I did not know shared the condition essentially asking me if I’ve “tried yoga,” so to speak. Imho without disclosing, this kind of commentary is going to come off as presumptuous and rude, and I agree with Allison that you probably shouldn’t disclose.

    It would be a nice way to connect, but you can’t really do it without undue risk. Sorry.

    1. Lydia*

      I mean, they do know each other, but without the connecting revelation about the LW’s diagnosis, it’s not really appropriate, and there’s no good reason for the LW to reveal that about themselves right now.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        They are saying “someone I did not know shared the condition” not “someone I did not know.”

  33. Elle Woods*

    The job candidate in letter #2 strikes me as someone who has a strong sense of entitlement. She may be unaccustomed to someone saying “no” to her or not getting what she wants. She revealed her true character when things didn’t go her way. You & your company definitely made the right choice not to hire her.

    1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      She reminded me of small yet entitled children.

      “I want this.”
      No, you didn’t earn it/didn’t attend/not qualified, etc.
      “So, what? I *want* it. What do the rules or qualification have to do with it?”

  34. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #2 I just want to say please don’t let this bad experience stop you from continuing to give people a reason when you reject them. That’s rare and good and I bet a lot of people appreciate it.

  35. Unaccountably*

    Oh, LW1. My sister in supervising difficulties.

    I once had a report who came from a small rural community to work in a city with a population of almost 3,000,000. He was shocked by how rude the cashiers at the grocery store were because they didn’t want to “chat” with him (for minimum wage, after standing all day, when there were ten people in line behind him). He knew we hired him because we were drowning in work but somehow that did not connect in his head to “Do not just drop by someone else’s office for twenty minutes every morning just to talk.” He’d get offended when someone he didn’t even work with would say hello to other people in the cubicle farm but not to him.

    And wow, did it matter. Busy people dreaded seeing him come toward them. They dreaded seeing him going over to other people for the same reason you’d wince if you saw rudeness inevitably about to occur in your workspace. It was a poor fit because he couldn’t be made to understand that what was friendly and polite in a town of 2000 people (i.e., stopping to chat) was rude in an environment where everyone had eight things that had to be off their desks by the end of the day.

    The reason I’m saying this is that his co-workers never quite felt like they could stop defending the cast-iron boundaries they had to put up to get him out of their offices; when he went to talk to someone else, they couldn’t escape the existential dread that they were about to watch someone being rude and clueless right in front of them. While no one ever asked me to stop punishing him for talking, the feedback I got was that watching him walk around the office was like watching someone follow a balloon around with a pin – you know something loud and unpleasant is going to happen but you don’t know when or where. It’s a very specific kind of BEC mode, but it might not be reversible.

    1. Nameless in Customer Service*

      This is an excellent example of culture clash and also sounds excruciating to have endured.

      1. Unaccountably*

        It was, and for everyone. It was awful for him too because he kept interpreting Busy-don’t-talk-to-me signals as hostility and deliberate rudeness and he thought his co-workers didn’t like him, so I think he kept trying to win them over by being “friendlier” and… chatting with them more.

  36. moonstone*

    #4: I also recommend not disclosing because there is a chance your boss thinks having you as an employee compensates for her ADHD. Idk if my boss has ADHD specifically, but she isn’t very detail oriented and gives me the tasks she isn’t good at doing (like copy editing etc). Problem is…I’m not naturally good at these things either, but part of my value as an employee comes from doing these tasks so I make sure I do them well and don’t show that I struggle.

  37. Dual Peppin Whiskey*

    LW 4, would you mind sharing here what resources/tools you’re referring to? As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD a few years back, but is still really struggling even while on medication (and am pursuing therapy because something has gotta give), I’d love to hear what’s worked for you (or anyone else for that matter)!

  38. SP*

    LW5, I could have written your exact letter down to the job descriptions two years ago.

    LEAVE. Now. Your boss is going to get increasingly more hostile and critical of your role now even though your performance hasn’t changed that they know you don’t want to stay in Boring Department. Find a design job at another company. Even if you eventually do get your transfer your old boss is still going to be salty about it and it’s going to make collaborating without your old department difficult.

  39. Coin_Operated*

    LW1: I’d be curious to know the specifics of the original complaints, as well as get other input from other employees on their interactions with the intern. If the complaints are just coming from these two employees, it could be they just have a strong sense of hierarchy in who socializes with them at work. I remember feeling it early in my career, or when I was a temp. There just were certain people higher up in management you just didn’t “talk” to, even simple hello or greeting, if you were too low in the hierarchy, but then there were others who were more friendly and you could talk to, or they made a point to talk to people just starting in entry-level positions. It does seem with newer generations, there’s less tolerance for separation of socialization based on hierarchy within companies now.

  40. Fluffy Fish*

    Whether its ADHD or lupus or cancer – do not give people unsolicited medical advice. If said boss explicitly stated they are looking for recommendations from people – fine. Otherwise zip it.

    ESPECIALLY at work.

    For every well-meaning and actually useful advice, there’s someone else telling you standing on your head and eating grass will cure ya. Further, you don’t have any idea where someone is with their diagnosis. Maybe they’re still coming to terms with things and are overwhelmed or maybe they’ve already found what works for them.

    General rule of thumb for anything is no unsolicited advice.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Absolutely true. I *literally* had someone tell me that doing headstands would cure my autoimmune disease. But I think it had to be in the snow, or something?

      I was laughing so hard after “headstand” that I don’t recall.

  41. yala*

    I definitely get the impulse to share (I have actually disclosed at work, because it was interfering with my work performance and I needed accommodations along with my meds to help), but something I’ve learned is sometimes if folks have the same Thing as you, but it manifests in different ways, they legit just don’t believe you have it.

    1. Elsajeni*

      I think this is particularly a risk with something like ADHD, that can manifest in a pretty wide range of different symptoms and degrees of impairment — not necessarily that they won’t believe you have it, but that they might not believe your difficulty with doing [X] is an ADHD issue that they should accommodate, because they have ADHD and they can do [X] just fine. Of course, whether to disclose or not still comes down to your own risk/benefit analysis and what you know about your boss — I’m just not sure that “we have the same diagnosis” provides as much protective effect as you might hope here.

  42. Egmont Apostrophe*

    Re: My boss is blocking my move to a new team

    Ideally, the other group would be able to overrule her if they want you. but that might not be a fight they want to have. Maybe you could set it up with them that you quit the company and then they counteroffer for you vs. the (fictitious) new job?

    But most likely you just need to leave the company– and honestly that shows them inflexible and unable to talk advantage of your desire to advance, so I wouldn’t feel bad about leaving it.

  43. Been there done that*

    Letter #5 – is there an actual job opening posted for the team you want to move to? The way you’re describing it sounds like they’re informally asking you to move over. What I recommend to internal transfers at my company is to formally apply for an opening, go through whatever process the new team requires for interviews, and when they present you a formal offer you give notice to your current boss as if you were going to any other job. At that point, the transfer details are between your current and new managers. Now, yes I guess with some positions/bosses there will be a level of political influence where they can stop it, but if the facts are the facts, that’s harder: we posted x position, an internal candidate applied, they were the best candidate for the job, so we made them an offer. The interest coming from you raising your hand and saying “I am applying to this other job” is easier to navigate than to look like another team is poaching you.

  44. Dynamic HR Manager*

    I coach employees who feel that personal conversations are impacting their work to say something like:
    “I appreciate catching up with you, but I need to get back to my desk (or turn my attention back to this work). Have to finish a bunch of stuff before leaving for the day.”
    It is a direct, but non-confrontation way to set the expectation that you are open to personal conversation but there are time limits. Use this tool a few times and people start to get what your outward boundary is as far as personal office banter goes. Also works no matter what your tolerance/availability for person conversation are, whether it is 2 seconds or 30 minutes.

  45. RagingADHD*

    LW, if your boss said they had ADHD and you managed not to immediately reply, “Hey, wow, me too! Cool, cool!” then I just have to applaud your excellent tools/regime/meds/symptom cluster or whatever has given you that impressive level of impulse control.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Oh, and I agree with others that the boss didn’t ask you for help, so don’t offer it unless they do. They may just be basking in the relief of having a name and tools for what’s going on. IME, and with folks I know who were late-diagnosed, the struggle is greatest *before* diagnosis and much less afterwards.

      Not to be crass, but they’re your boss, not your subordinate. Obviously they’ve figured out something that works okay for them.

  46. Erstwhilibrarian*

    LW3: I am curious as to what’s meant by “a monthly town hall”. To me, in the UK, a town hall is a building. Googling has not helped – can anyone elucidate?

    1. GythaOgden*

      Sounds like an analogy to a local government meeting (watch Parks and Rec, it’s American Local Governance 101; sort of like hustings at an election for us or a parish council meeting) but in a corporate setting. So people go either in person or virtually, and the leadership take questions and make pronouncements.

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