update: my team demands aggressive positivity … and I have a medical condition that leaves me exhausted

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose team demanded aggressive positivity … but she has a medical condition that leaves her exhausted? Here’s the update.

Per your advice, I went to HR to ask about attitude and energy, and team spirit. I was coming up on a nasty flare and I was utterly exhausted just sitting there having a conversation. Our HR guy is pretty cool and saw how hard it was for me to just have a regular conversation, let alone be sparkled at all day. He was really kind and empathetic, and he told me he’s aware of how annoying our department is but nobody from the department has directly voiced concern until me. He assured me that no, my performance won’t be impacted. HR and the Exec team are also planning inclusivity training for the whole company including some disability advocates I follow and think have a great message.

He also gave me permission (I won’t use it but damn I want to) to be as weird as I want back to my coworkers if they’re being too peppy. I’ve been formally given permission to tell Jim to eat dirt and to respond to being called a beautiful bitch by telling that person I think they’re a sparkly turd who can soar on the wings of success. I won’t do it, but I really, really want to. In lieu of that I turned in FMLA paperwork and an accommodations request to work from home on days I need to be mindful of my energy and it was approved almost instantly.

All in all, very positive outcome. Jim can still eat dirt though.

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. Eleanor Shellstrop*

    I feel formal permission to tell someone to eat dirt is too good a gift not to use at least once…

    I’m happy for you OP!

    1. Kacihall*

      It really is. Except that if the relentless sparkling positivity is exhausting, think how bad it would be if it switched to relentless outrage when she did it.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I’m more partial to sparkly turd who can soar on the wings of success (LW is that your work or HR’s?) but agreed.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Same! OP, I hope you never have to use this. But if you do, I hope you will also come back and give us an update!

      2. Observer*

        I’m more partial to sparkly turd who can soar on the wings of success (LW is that your work or HR’s?) but agreed.

        Yeah, that’s an amazing line.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Please PLEASE use it on Jim and write back and tell us all how it went. I think I speak truthfully when I say we are all fully vested in this situation and the use of this incredible line!

      3. Lacey*

        lol yes, I love this one, and I’ve worked with a few people who would consider it a compliment!

      4. TiredMama*

        I need someone to create a line of posters with these delightful phrases so I can hang them around my office. I like there to be zero question about my “vibe” when someone walks in.

        1. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

          Are you familiar with Despair.com’s demotivational posters? Example: TEAMWORK: A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.

        2. Peep*

          I’m particularly loving Effin’ Birds on instagram. They’re fairly swear-y, but some could still technically be …semi-work-appropriate? They make me feel better. Today’s was “I am going to deal with this problem by yelling”. :D

    3. Maz*

      My preferred choice would be, “When are you people going to grow up and start behaving like professionals?”

    4. Jim Will Eat Dirt*

      I don’t think I could resist! Just pick your moment with care so that you can relish the look on his face.

      1. Vio*

        preferably when he’s just taken a drink of something but isn’t facing your direction

    5. Sara without an H*

      I can understand why OP might not want to take advantage of this permission in real life. Personally, I think I’d just try imitating Wednesday Addams while at work.

      1. Jasmine Tea*

        Just recently saw Wednesday Adams Adult and found it very funny. Love the one about men catcalling women on the street!

    6. Squirrel Nutkin*

      That is the BEST gift! And what a cool HR guy — very happy it worked out like this, OP.

    7. Anon Supervisor*

      I think just knowing you can push back without impacting your employment or reputation is just a nice thing to know, even if you never intend to use it.

  2. Jean*

    We love a useful and supportive HR dept. LW is still my hero for tolerating this insanity for even one day, let alone as long as they have.

    1. just another queer reader*

      I still cannot believe that the words “beautiful bitch” were used in a professional setting. I’d be livid.

      Anyway, happy for you, OP! Thanks for this update.

      1. WillowSunstar*

        Yeah, a lot of people would be offended by that comment. Swearing is not generally considered professional language and should be avoided. (Usually, this might depend on the company but I would think it applies to most.)

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          I’m of the opinion that you can’t reclaim a slur on someone else’s behalf, too. Using the b-word on someone who hasn’t enthusiastically consented is just name-calling, no matter how much enthusiasm you dress it up in.

          1. Observer*

            That is 100%

            Lots of women do NOT want to “reclaim” that word. Insisting on using it to them is not positive in any way.

          2. JSPA*

            Well said! Furthermore, even if I were to reclaim it for myself in some specific context (not likely, but stranger things have happened) I would still not be giving anyone else carte blanche to apply it to me, anytime, anywhere.

          3. turquoisecow*

            Yes. I’m not a fan of being called a b-word (or a c-word) so please don’t, even if you intend it to be a compliment.

            1. Lily*

              I can handle being called a B. But use the C word with me? There will be words. Pointy, unpleasant words.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Where I work there is a compromise that exists, if you mutter the swear under your breath at an inanimate object, it will be ignored. But swears directed at coworkers, stated loudly, or put it writing will be addressed and you get told to stop.

          Seems reasonable to me.

          1. TechWorker*

            Yea this is broadly how we work too – though clearly in this case the coworker wasn’t trying to start an argument (calling someone a ‘stupid bitch’ would be a lot more inflammatory than ‘beautiful bitch’ for example) it’s still super inappropriate to call your coworker a swear word!

      2. Nea*

        I’m exactly the sort of person who would look back with a completely neutral expression and tonelessly say, “Well, you got the bitch part right” just to see the reaction.

  3. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Anyone else get the impression that HR is annoyed by that department as well?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Definitely. Other departments, too.

      The LW is a hero for putting up with this. I worked at a Disney Store in college, & this is would be beyond my limits. (FTR, we did not “sparkle” at people.)

      1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

        I still remember the EXTRA SPARKLY sales guy at Torrid, and not fondly. Sir, shut the fuck up and go away. Even if I needed help, I’m not asking YOU.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      Yes, I tend to look at the bright side of things, but also have a strong streak of realism/cynicism.

      Like others, I got tired just reading about them.

      GRIN, I’d find a nice picture of a female show dog and have that as part of my screen saver rotation. I’m thinking of long haired dogs, such as collies, Irish setters, etc.

      1. ChimpCarer*

        As someone who shows dogs and regularly converses with other dog show people, it’s absolutely hysterical to see the looks on people’s faces who don’t know we show, when you say something along the lines of, “oh that B*tch was nice! She has a nice hind end” (no joke! I had this exact conservation with another Pembroke owner).

        1. KoiFeeder*

          One of the very funny things about having owned a Pembroke is the knowledge that Sir Fusspot’s dam has won several awards for having a wonderful butt (well, a wonderful everything, she had really good leg joints that her son sadly did not inherit, and a lovely gait and temperament, but I’ve seen the videos on facebook and the judges are prone to praising her hindquarters).

        2. Anonny*

          I’m not a dog show person, but I have a female dog (she’s no lady) and honestly, that’s my main useage of phrases like “shine on you beautiful bitch”.

          Especially on days when she’s being particularly ridiculous, which is most, because she’s a terrier.

    3. Antilles*

      Yep. In fact, I’ll go a step further:
      What are the odds that if HR / Execs now bring up the issue to various team members quietly and individually that it comes out that a LOT of the team also secretly hates this but have just been putting on a show because they didn’t want to feel like the fuddy-duddy?
      That’s gotta be the case right? There’s no way that everybody is super excited and enthusiastic about (checks original post), um…waiting on bureaucratic expense report paperwork??? Really?

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        That’s a good point. Pretty good chance that it’s really a couple of people who are driving the culture. Opposite of one or two negative people bringing down the whole team.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          From the original: “It’s a holdover from someone in leadership who is no longer with the company. “

      2. Robin Ellacott*

        I’d bet a lot of the clients hate it too – after all OP mentioned they request her for jobs. I wouldn’t want to do business with someone who wouldn’t acknowledge problems and was aggressively, irritatingly perky all the time.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Or it’s a conscious decision that someone a long time ago in the department made to counteract the waiting for expense reports or other bureaucratic paperwork that overtime just turned toxic.

        But agreeing that there is probably a ringleader(s) in the toxic sparkle culture, and shutting down the ringleader would probably help the overall culture of that department.

    4. Dont be a dork*

      Just reading about them annoyed me. I feel so sorry for anyone who actually has to deal with them.

  4. SMH*

    I wish we could trade places for a week OP. I could suck the positivity right out of those sparkly turds. I’m not a negative person and shy away from those who are, but anyone that overly positive is faking and I can’t stand fake people. And the beautiful bitch comment is so misogynistic and disgusting. My advice is document document document and start filing complaints with HR.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I have been watching “What We Do in the Shadows.” This is a situation where sending in Colin Robinson would be therapeutic.

      1. Casper Lives*

        Yes! Have you gotten to the episode he gets promoted to boss and takes it up a notch? It’s perfect

      2. Lana Kane*

        I really feel that we can all learn something from Colin Robinson. To be used for good, of course.

      3. linger*

        Be careful what you wish for. On the assumption that most coworkers are merely performing positivity without believing in it, I fear that Colin’s approach would be to dial it up further, because that would be the most soul-destroying action possible in that situation. (The episode in which Colin destroys his host organization is chilling.)

  5. I can’t think of a clever name*

    I don’t have a medical condition and this team would leave me completely drained! What a nightmare. I’m glad others at your company can see how strange your department is. It sounds like you have a very supportive HR department. The rest of your department is behaving in a really bizarre way and many people would be annoyed by this.

  6. WFH with Cat*

    I remember being absolutely appalled and exhausted by this letter and, OP, I’m very glad that you have the support of HR whenever you want to lower the boom on your incredibly annoying team members.

    You are, btw, a far more patient person than I would ever be. Any co-worker who called me a bitch, regardless of complimentary adjectives or sparkling demeanor, would either 1) never do so again and/or 2) have a *much* better reason to do so. Just sayin’.

    Thank you for the update!

  7. Morticia(she/her)*

    I’m impressed by your patience, honestly. If someone called me a beautiful bitch, I’m not sure what I’d do (I mean, it would be accurate, but still). Please update again if you ever do call someone a sparkly turd.

  8. LifeBeforeCorona*

    “Eat dirt, Jim” sounds like a great new catchphrase. I just worked 2 12 hour days and if someone told me I needed to be more cheerful today, they would be hearing that. Aggressive cheerfulness can be just as corrosive as aggressive hostility.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I bet he’s had his own run-in’s with the “aggressive sparklers” and they drive him up a wall too. They sound like the odd group that just somehow suck everyone into the same patterns, like some sort of odd black hole. Good for OP in resisting the toxic positive.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have a mental image of Helpful HR Dude punching the air and yelling “YESSSS!” as soon as the meeting with OP was over.

  9. ccr*

    I am laughing so hard at “telling that person I think they’re a sparkly turd who can soar on the wings of success”! I hope that even just thinking it gives the LW some comfort when their coworkers are being this insane.

    1. Engineering Mom*

      I almost choked on my drink, I am 100% adding that to my repertoire (not that I have many occasions to say it, but it’s just so funny!).

  10. CatCat*

    I understand why you don’t want to tell people to eat dirt and soar on successful turd wings even if you have permission to do so.

    But because you have permission to do the above, you can also pushback in a more professional manner on this nonsense. Ideas delivered in a cool, firm tone:

    “Do not tone police me. I do not appreciate it.”

    “I always bring my best skills to our clients. Stop suggesting I am not doing that.”

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘sparkle.’ I do great work and am here to do that today.”

    “Your reaction is really over the top. [Change subject]…”

    Meeting the “you can do anything” type statements with a blank stare and an “ooookay. [change subject]” or quizzical stare and a “huh,” delivered like you just saw something super weird.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Your second example script touches on something important that might help to stop this. The comments about how we “need to be rockstars for our clients” and things definitely imply that OP is not currently doing so. But it sounds like they are very good at their job.

      Another way to express the same thing is to look concerned and ask “wait, I’m confused, are you saying I don’t give my all / bring my best to our clients?” They’re making it awkward. Return that awkward back to sender. I love the confused question as a way to accomplish this. They will not enjoy it and will be incentivized to leave you alone.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yes to CatCat and to this comment as well! Return awkwardness to sender! You could even be petty and say that you are obviously a rockstar since you have a waiting list and ask them why they have an open schedule. :-)

        But actually I think you are a rockstar, OP, because you haven’t already done this and you are well within your rights to do so. I hope we get another update from you that your awesome HR guy has put the kibosh on this toxic positivity from your team. Maybe he could even use you as an example: “See, OP is just going about her job, doing fantastic work, and doesn’t need to promote nonexistent performance by pretending to be a rockstar.” But I wouldn’t suggest he do that, because your good work will speak for itself. :-)

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Or channel your inner Saitama from One Punch Man and just give a dry, expressionless “ok.” (Googling “Saitama ok” or “Saitama ok meme” should bring up what I’m talking about).

  11. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    So glad to hear that your HR is decent, OP. Because I would find that environment absolutely exhausting. And it seems pretty clear that if you were forced to perform the type of positivity that your team seems to, that would hurt the quantity and quality of your work! Do they want you to “sparkle” or do they want you to get stuff done? That is genuinely the choice, because you cannot do both.

    A less aggressive way of expressing “eat dirt” could be to tell Jim (and anyone like him) that your approach works for you and it is deeply weird that he is so interested in your level of pep. He will likely feel awkward and sputter about how he doesn’t mean anything by it. Which is the perfect opening to tell him that’s great and of course he won’t mind cutting it out, since it’s no big deal, right? Unless you actually report to him, it genuinely is extremely weird that he’s so invested in the level of enthusiasm you appear to have.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      “Do they want you to “sparkle” or do they want you to get stuff done?”

      Evil me would love to ask the toxic positive ringleader exactly that question in front of the whole department and an HR person. It could be really enlightening to make him have to vocalize what sound like warped priorities.

  12. KofSharp*

    Other departments have commented, it is past time for the ultra-positivity to chill out.
    I come off as “having a positive mindset and attitude” and that much positivity would kill me.
    The “You Beautiful Bitch” comment? Not even my close friends can say something like that to me.
    I’m so glad OP has HR on her side. OP, you have been given permission to tell him to eat dirt. You don’t have to use it but if you do, I’d love an update.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Yeah if other departments are uncomfortable why is HR waiting for someone in the actual department to raise a concern? HR can be proactive.

      Sure the suggestions are great but don’t address the ACTUAL PROBLEM. Quite frankly I have my doubts that company wide diversity training will get through either. The people who don’t need it will obsess that they did something wrong. The people who do need it will think it doesn’t apply to them. In this case, it needs to be specifically targeted. With very clear language that just because its about positivity does not mean its not toxic and to CUT IT THE HELL OUT RIGHT NOW.

      1. KofSharp*

        How would they address that, “There has been tone policing going on, and unless you have noticed unprofessionalism or a negative impact to clients, there is no reason to call out another’s tone?”

        1. EPLawyer*

          Well they can start with the Beautiful Bitch comment. Just because it is meant to positive doesn’t mean it isn’t a really bad thing to call someone. And sexist to boot.

          Also rereading the original letter they were told to tone it down and they DID. For awhile. So they know what they are doing. They just choose not to do so. At this point it needs to be made clear to TONE IT DOWN FOREVER or face consequences for insubordination.

      2. Sara without an H*

        Hi, EPLawyer — Yes, I wondered about that, too. Where’s the manager in all this? While I’m glad that OP is getting support from HR, and I’m glad she was able to get intermittent FMLA approved, there’s still a management vacuum here. Whoever Sparkle Crew reports to needs to pull them aside and say, “You need to dial down the positivity schtick. Other departments are complaining that it makes you hard to work with.”

        I also have little confidence that company-wide inclusivity training is going to help much. The guilty parties always assume it doesn’t apply to them.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Heck it sounds like it is affecting client relationships too. Which is bad for business. The OP said people would rather wait for her then go to the sparkling rockstars. Which means the clients find the emphasis on positivity rather than actual results just as exhausting as everyone else does.

          So there’s the hook right there. Dial it back, it is affecting business. If it continues we will have to find people who don’t harm our business and can do the job to our clients’ satisfaction.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            In fairness, it is possible that the sparkling rockstars actually just kind of suck at their jobs. Though come to think of it, aggressive enthusiasm doesn’t seem conducive to self-aware analysis of work product.

            1. Observer*

              n fairness, it is possible that the sparkling rockstars actually just kind of suck at their jobs.

              Not only possible but highly likely. For one thing, getting along with your clients is part of the job, and I suspect that this kind of behavior puts a lot of the clients on edge. But beyond that, the kind of person who tells someone that they can do anything because “it’s all mindset” in the face of physical limitations is not someone who is going to do good work. Because what’s going to happen when you try to do something with the wrong equipment, is that you are going to *have* to to the work incorrectly.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                And they don’t seem open to other people’s points of view or to acknowledge others’ feelings. It sounds like they ignore what other people say and see any disagreement as a sign of negativity to be ignored. I find it hard to believe this doesn’t come out in their attitude to clients too. The odds are they fail to listen properly, dismiss concerns and insist everything will work perfectly even when that is highly unlikely.

              2. Worldwalker*

                That one really struck me. If I need a saw, no amount of positivity can make a hammer work in its place. A positive mindset can overcome a negative mindset, but it can’t overcome real, physical things that need to exist, like the OP’s broken equipment awaiting replacement.

              3. DJ Abbott*

                As a customer I would not do business with anyone who has this toxic positive attitude. It indicates they’re not in touch with reality and not applying themselves to the real things that need to be done. I would take my business to someone who’s being real and competent and getting things done.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I wonder if the manager for that department is part of the toxic positive crew, and they leave OP alone only because of customer requests and willingness to wait?

        3. Internally Insubordinate*

          Well, the constantly micro-aggressive guilty party where I work does change behavior for a few weeks after every training– since the examples used could have been culled from their daily conversation. But my own personal positivity just took a nose-dive when I heard those trainings roll around only every TWO years. A long time to wait for a 6-week window of improved behavior.

      3. Observer*

        Yeah if other departments are uncomfortable why is HR waiting for someone in the actual department to raise a concern? HR can be proactive.

        I was wondering the same thing.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yeah, I work in an environment where swearing is not unusual and even I thought that the “beautiful bitch” comment was way over the line.

      1. KofSharp*

        I swear like a sailor (usually outside of work), and that’s one of those comments that a work relationship cannot fully come back from without the person who said it doing some self reflection.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Same here. If someone said that to me, they’d never even be able to THINK those words again without wincing

      2. Clisby*

        Seriously. Before I retired, I worked in an environment where swearing (including mine) was not unusual, but it was never directed at a person. An IBM mainframe, yes, but not a person.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I posted up above that my department allows swearing that is:
          – discrete
          – not directed at other people
          – not in writing
          – doesn’t blatantly offend (the old you know pornography when you see it argument)

          You will get a professional deportment talking to for swearing that is:
          – shouted
          – in writing
          – directed at a person
          – blatantly offends somebody

          How that talking to gets documented is based on how you respond. All of it is laid out for you during onboarding too.

  13. MysteriousMise*

    *Takes out Notebook*

    “I think they’re a sparkly turd who can soar on the wings of success.”

    Thanks LW. Love a good update.

  14. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

    Can we clone this HR guy and send him to other HR departments? He sounds great!

  15. a tester, not a developer*

    Good for you for looking after yourself instead of burning out trying to be Super Sparkly Rockstar Barbie.

    Shine on, you gleaming spined adamantium covered burning meteor of healthy boundaries!

  16. Les*

    Can we have a “best weird response” contest? Your prompt is: “LW, you are one beautiful bitch.”

      1. Worldwalker*

        I’m very glad I just put down the soup I’m eating for lunch, because it would have improved neither my sinuses nor my keyboard.

    1. CatCat*

      “I know! And I am about to birth some sparkling success puppies and even though there is a long-waiting list for the puppies, our clients are at the top of the list!” (Okay to unleash some enthusiastic barking at the end.)

    2. Delta Delta*

      I think I’d just go with a long, uncomfortable stare, a sharp inhale, and walking away.

    3. the+cat's+ass*

      YES! Returning the awkwardness to sender is always a thing O’ beauty! OP, you rock, and so does your HR!

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      My…immediately to mind response would be highly offensive! Think ‘no, I’m an ugly (drop the worst word) which you’ll find out if you keep calling me that’

      (I m extremely foul mouthed)

    5. Gnome*

      I’m not kind enough for this. The nicest response I came up with was: I know you aspire to both those things one day.

    6. Lucien Nova*

      The best I can manage is “Go consume a satchel of Richards,” combined with icy look and turning away.

    7. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      “No, dear, I’m fixed.” (Google informs me that bitch may correctly refer to a spayed female dog as well, but I’d be willing to fudge the definition in this case.)

      If that’s too weird, you could simply ask, “Do you mean…like a cocker spaniel?”

  17. Coffee Owlccountant*

    Hands up if you think HR Guy was just WAITING for the day when he could give LW permission to tell Jim to eat dirt. I know I would have been.

    1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      he told me he’s aware of how annoying our department is but nobody from the department has directly voiced concern until me

      Given he said this, I have no doubt he’s had this in his arsenal for a while.

  18. Maz*

    “I get wonderful feedback from my clients and I’m one of the most sought-after consultants in our company. I have a waiting list, many of them are willing to wait for me despite my “rockstar” colleagues having an open calendar.”
    One of the reasons the OP is so sought-after that clients will wait to work with them rather than other members of the team who might be available sooner is probably that the clients can’t stand the toxic positivity either – something that perhaps ought to be pointed out to them. Of course, I’m sure it’s mostly due to the OP’s work but attitude can also be relevant.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      Agreed. Particularly the “problems don’t exist because they’re negative” nonsense.

    2. Observer*

      Of course, I’m sure it’s mostly due to the OP’s work but attitude can also be relevant.

      In this case, I think that the it’s the OP’s work BECAUSE of their attitude – they do the work right without trying to paint over problems. That generally gets you MUCH better quality work. The attitude that the clients have to deal with probably plays into it, too, but I would guess in an “And they are ALSO just so annoying!” way.

    3. Worldwalker*

      Very much this. I want a professional relationship with a fellow professional, not some kind of manic pixie dreamgirl wanna-be. If they’re being all sparkly, my first thought is “Why are they doing this?” followed almost immediately by “…and what are they trying to cover up?” It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re acting like, as someone said upthread, a toddler on espresso. You might expect that from the person at the Southwest Airlines counter when you stagger into the airport for your 5 am flight, but not from the person sitting across the table from you at a meeting. When people behave well outside expectations for their role, that tends to put other people off to the point that someone has to not just be a rockstar, but be Brian May, just to be seen as adequate.

    4. EmmaPoet*

      I want my consultant to be knowledgeable, competent, and polite. I don’t want one who loudly displays their commitment to Sparkle Motion.

  19. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    When ultra-positivity meets physical reality (like the expensive computer part OP was waiting on in the original letter), I just love to watch. And I would have responded quizzically. “Fergus, do you actually think it’s possible to manifest a new RAID controller out of thin air with willpower? That’s not how the universe works, you know.”

    1. MistOrMister*

      That’s how the world works in Beautiful Bitch land, apparently!!!

      That part blew my mind. I think the people in that department have gottebn so caught up in having to project constant posivitythat all logic has flown out the window and they just lose their fool minds.

      1. Mac*

        Maybe I listen to too much 99 Percent Invisible, but I just lost myself in a 15 minute reverie trying to imagine the coat of arms for Beautiful Bitchlandia. So far I’ve only got as far as the motto, which of course would be: Ferus – Splendidis – Scintillus.

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

      Imagine trying to manifest fuel, food or semiconductors.
      That would take a while.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Lol – according to the Harry Potter universe* that breaks Goplot’s Law (I think I have this spelled right), which states you can’t create you can’t create food out of thin air, but you can increase what you already have in certain circumstances.

        *Junior Orchestra is reading the series at the moment.

    3. Pippa K*

      Jim, if I could teleport the part here with the Power of Positive Thinking, I would. But then if telekinesis were real, at this very moment you’d be dangling in the air over the nearest lake. Briefly.”

      1. KofSharp*

        “Jim, if I had the power to manifest parts out of thin air, do you really think I’d still work for you?”
        …I’d be willing to say that mostly because everyone in my life knows that if there was a way for me to actually have a magical adventure I’d be there in a heartbeat.

    4. Jaydee*

      Even in the wizarding world (a fictional place that has magic), you can’t just create things out of nothing.

      Can you summon a RAID controller from elsewhere? Maybe – I think there’s a distance limit to that.

      Can you use magic to assemble one from its component parts? Yup.

      Can you transform a teacup into a RAID controller? I assume so. Unclear how long the spell would last or how well the teacup-turned-RAID controller would function.

      But you can’t make one exist that doesn’t exist.

    5. Worldwalker*

      If someone could figure out how to do this, I’d be delighted. I need to manifest a graphics card and a spare USB hub, please. I’ve tried thinking good thoughts, but it seems more and more like I’m going to have to order them. :(

  20. H.Regalis*

    I’m generally a fairly optimistic person, and LW’s coworkers would still drive me up a wall.

    LW, if you have to, cash in that token and don’t feel bad about it. Or get a creepy doll, write “Sparkle” on it in sharpie, and keep it in your desk to be taken out when needed.

      1. 1-800BrownCow*

        It’s up to you if you want to do the bare minimum. But Brian, for example, has 37 pieces of flair…

  21. quill*

    “he’s aware of how annoying our department is”

    Glad to see that the problem hasn’t breached the containment fields! Clients who don’t want to be called a beautiful bitch are great, but someone on this team needs to learn to communicate professionally, aka like an adult human not in a sitcom, so it’s not all on OP.

  22. It's All Elementary*

    I would probably respond to the commens with something along the lines of “You sound like someone spiked your Cheerios (coffee, soda, etc) with an illegal substance” without even looking up at them and continue with my work.

  23. Hamster Manager*

    Congrats, OP! Though were I in your shoes, I don’t think I could stop an offended knee-jerk reaction of saying “did you just call me a bitch?” in response to being called a ‘beautiful bitch.’

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, I was wondering about that. I guess that’s the bright side of the OP being “low energy”…

  24. MistOrMister*

    I am exhausted by OP’s workplace just from reading the original letter. Thank goodness the HR guy has some sense. The weirdest part of all this, to me, is how over the tope everyone is being trying to force OP to spew out their diamond studded sparkly rock star-edness, meanwhile OP has a waiting list of clients while these people are scrounging for work. You’d think that would make at least one or two reconsider.

    1. mlem*

      To them, sparkle is cheap and working is expensive, possibly. Work sparklier, not harder — and look how light your workload feels!

  25. Cats Are Really Fuzzy*

    That’s awesome! I have an autoimmune condition – and actually am a very enthusiastic person myself – and even still this environment sounds like pure hell to me. Good for you, keep being a rockstar!

  26. SparklePlenty*

    oh my, I’d be so happy to have the ability to call that coworker a sparkly turd. It’s like your secret weapon

  27. Poffertjies!*

    I’m so happy for you OP! It’s great HR and everyone is on your side. Your coworkers sound exhausting.

  28. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Amazing update! So nice to read about an HR person who actually knows what they’re doing. I’m really happy that you’re now able to take care of yourself while doing your work. You can also push back on colleagues like Jim, even if you don’t go as far as telling them to ‘eat dirt’, because you know HR has your back.

  29. Irish Teacher*

    Heck, I AM generally a pretty positive person, to the point a couple of students have asked me “how come you’re always smiling, Miss?” but this would drive me insane and I would very likely lose my temper…and probably say something I’d regret. I do NOT like being told what to do when it is unnecessary and being told how to feel and react would really irritate me. It also strikes me as extremely patronising, if the people are not your direct boss. “We have to be rockstars for the clients” sort of implies…you don’t know how to react to clients, when it sounds like you most emphatically do.

    The “beautiful bitch” thing on its own wouldn’t even necessarily bother me, but the whole attitude of “you pointed out this wasn’t possible but I’m saying it is so go ahead and do it” combined with a comment like that…yeah, I’d be raging.

  30. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I think I speak for a lot of us when I volunteer to take up the mantle of telling Jim to eat dirt. Because honestly. That guy.

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

      I’s like to see the op tell the person who told her that she was a beautiful bitch to eat sand more than jim

  31. JSPA*

    For ease, I’d make my go-to reply a passing, “Or not.” Every time. And Pivot to something relevant, or a general dismissal. Whether or not the follow-on statement could be construed as a reason, or as a complete non-sequitur.

    “Or not. It’ll be on your desk this evening.”
    “Or not. Glad you’re enjoying the day, though.”
    “Or not. Diving into the Firth reports next.”
    “Or not. Talk next Tuesday, same time?”
    “Or not. I’ll IM you when the update is live.”

  32. Bookworm*

    I’m so glad that HR is supportive and is actually taking steps to address the issue (trainings, etc.). The whole thing sounds positively ridiculous so I’m happy to see this update. Thanks for letting us know, OP! Hope they don’t bother you about it too much!

  33. Mimmy*

    What a weirdly wonderful update! I’d probably also be afraid to say, “eat turd!” even with formal permission but I can definitely see how tempting that is!! I’m all for minimizing negativity, but that level of positivity would absolutely sap my energy and patience in no time.

    Also, disability is so often absent in DEI initiatives, so a big YAY to your company for planning to include disability in its inclusivity training! And to hear from disability advocates that you regularly follow? Bonus win!

    1. V.*

      Agreed on the disability training! If anyone has recommendations on good speakers/advocates on that topic, I would love to hear them – looking for disability inclusivity training right now. Thank you!

  34. Love me, love my cat*

    “I am a Rockstar. I’m just not fire-breathing maniacal about it.”

  35. wine dude*

    I’d go with the more professional sounding “Consume soil, Jim.” just to see his face for the next several seconds whilst he parses it out.

  36. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    This does not at all sound like a long-term healthy work environment. An HR department that allows you to be quasi-unprofessional in lieu of reeling in a department head that is clearly off their rocker?

    This isn’t an outcome we should be celebrating.

    1. un-pleased*

      I’ve really gotta agree here. Something is off. If this is the advice coming out of HR, literally or figuratively, I’d honestly be worried and start looking elsewhere–it’s a great way to get tagged as a problem worker. So it’s good the LW says they won’t actually do this because it’s preposterous that at the same time they are supposedly planning inclusivity training an HR person says it’s OK to act this way. People are getting so excited about this person being given permission to be snotty that they aren’t considering what else might be going on here. Yikes.

    2. EmmaPoet*

      Yeah, it’s funny to read, but I don’t think that actually helps with the underlying issue, which is that the OP’s department and possibly the company may be full of bees.

  37. Nameless in Customer Service*

    . I’ve been formally given permission to tell Jim to eat dirt and to respond to being called a beautiful bitch by telling that person I think they’re a sparkly turd who can soar on the wings of success.

    This is the most glorious thing I have read today. I just laughed so hard I’m hiccuping.

  38. Elizabeth West*

    I had to go back and look at that one; I think I missed it. What the WHAT. I’m pretty cheerful most of the time, and even I would find this draining day in and day out.

  39. DJ*

    Yes I remember years ago having a condition that impacted on my energy levels and a manager who expected everyone to show “passion” and “energy”

  40. Hired Hacker*

    I’m borderline on the autistic spectrum and a quiet/calm person. Spending just ten minutes with OP’s coworkers (which must be on cocaine, clearly) would make me exhausted.

    1. Splendid Colors*

      I’m Autistic and I had a roommate who did coke in the 80s*. Coked up definitely came to mind regarding those sparkly coworkers.

      *Not around me, at frat parties.

  41. Workfromhome*

    This is what immediately came to mind:

    Joanna : You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

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