open thread – July 15-16, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 965 comments… read them below }

  1. Roxie*

    I need scripts for talking to my boss (he only joined the company 3 months ago) about how to get promoted from my Llama Groomer to a Senior Llama Groomer.

    I’ve been with the company for over 2 years, and my former boss refused to tell me what I needed to do to get promoted (good riddance!). As far as I can tell, there really isn’t a difference, except for a title and salary change. I already handle the projects with the most spend, I manage the largest priority projects without guidance, among other things. Yes I know that typically there is a difference between Senior and non-Senior, but NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE has been able to tell me what the difference is for my role.

    I’ve told my boss some of the areas I’d like to grow in and he’d promised we would talk about it during our next 1:1. My worry is that I’m going to be given even MORE responsibility (which has been happening the past 2 years) without a raise or promotion.

    How do I say that if I’m going to be given this new responsibility (which falls in line with a Sr. level), then I want to make sure I’m compensated fairly (aka promoted). I realize my boss is new, but my previous boss jerked me around so much I’ve almost had it with this company.

    1. Lynn*

      Can you put it all on paper and frame it out as the roles & responsibilities you had when you started versus now and what you would then continue to do with additional responsibilities?

      And if there are other llama groomers at your company can you talk to them about their roles and career trajectories? If there are not could you look externally to what your industry posts as intermediate vs sr level llama grooming role?

      And I think your script of saying you would like to be compensated fairly is fine & reasonable!

    2. Savvy*

      Does your company have HR? If so, you might try asking the HR person for the job descriptions for both your current role and the senior role you want to move into. If they do have job descriptions you should be able to pinpoint exactly what would qualify you as “senior”, which may help guide the conversation with your boss. And as for that conversation, have you tried just being blunt about it? I can’t tell from your post if you were clear that you wanted the senior title (and pay) or if you just said generically you want to grow. If you haven’t tried it yet, I don’t see anything wrong with just saying, “I’m really interested in being promoted into a “Senior Llama Groomer” role, can you help map out a path and timeline that this could be achieved?”

        1. College Career Counselor*

          If it’s the same job description, then it’s a “:time-served in the role merits promotion” and/or “doing the job really well in XYZ ways” merits promotion. And someone should be able to tell you that. If there is no difference in the job description, then they’re getting the Senior work out of you at the junior pay grade after a certain amount of time and counting on you not asking for the bump.

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

      Keep in mind that if you are already doing the work of a Senior, the top leadership may think they don’t need to promote you or give you more money, they’re already getting the work for the smaller amount of money. Without any leverage on your part, they’ll probably keep on doing what they’ve been doing, so get your resume together, and do some market research on compensation and other job opportunities.

      1. Roxie*

        Yes, that’s why I’m asking what I should say to my boss. I could tell him that the extra responsibility isn’t something I want to do unless I’m promoted, but that sounds kind of bratty.

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

          “Boss, according to my research, the market rate for the level of work that I do is $X amount. (have job listings or data showing X amount) I would like my salary to be brought up to the market rate by Y time frame before I take on this extra work. Do you have any concerns about my performance that would prevent me from attaining this promotion?”

        2. My Useless 2 Cents*

          “New Boss, We spoke about how I would like to grow in this department but it’s starting to seem like the company is wanting to hold me back. I feel like I’ve been working at Senior Llama Groomer level for quite a while now but Old Boss refused to discuss with me. I really feel like I should be promoted to Senior Llama Groomer with commiserate pay or some work should be taken off my plate. Now that you’ve had some time to settle in, what are your thoughts?”

          1. Migraine Month*

            I like this, and I think it’s important to mention that you’ve been trying to make this switch for a while now. Your new manager needs to know this is an ongoing issue that can’t be put off much longer.

          2. Books and Cooks*

            I like this one a lot. It lays out the situation and OP’s feelings clearly, but genuinely sounds like a question, not a veiled demand or complaint–and it gives Boss space for a real answer, too, not just a Yes or No.

          3. Books and Cooks*

            Sorry, one minor change: instead of “it’s starting to seem like the company is wanting to hold me back,” say, “it’s starting to feel like there’s a problem no one will tell me about,” or “like there’s no way for me to do that.”

    4. anonymous73*

      Do you have people at your company already in the senior role? If so, you may want to pick their brains and then go to your boss. If not, I would start with HR – they should have job descriptions for each role. If you have neither, document what you currently do, and if he can’t answer your question, ask him to work together to define it.

    5. MGR*

      Since your boss is new, it might be helpful to lay out what information you have gathered so far as well as your accomplishments. For example, “Boss, I’d like to talk about my path to promotion. [Some information on accomplishments and examples of your skills]. I had to spoken to previous boss who was unable to articulate the path and I went to HR and I understand they are the same job description. Can we talk through what you see as the path to getting promoted and what differences that would be for me?”. It may be that he needs to talk to his boss or talk with HR again. In addition, if there is a member on the team who has the more senior title, and you can point out how the work you are doing seems similar, that might help.

      My other tip would be to keep as much of your frustration with the process out of your tone as possible. You have every right to be frustrated but it’s more about the company than the new boss. If you feel like you can’t do that, I would call it out specifically and say “I have been frustrated with the lack of information about this I have gotten, and I’m asking for your help in clearing this up”.

      1. Magnoliasareblooming*

        I second this advice. I was a new boss in a new company and when review time came around my plan was to give one of my strongest employees the top of the annual % increase. She responded that she was surprised, that she had been trying to move up – that she’d been shuffled around and felt no one had her career development in mind – and why not a promotion after all this time? If she had not brought it up, I never would have realized this was how she felt and understood the history. Her raising the issue prompted me to talk to other leaders, work with HR and my core leader; advocate for her and get her promoted with a new job title! I am grateful she was honest with me and gave me a chance to make it right.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, unfortunately sometimes brand new bosses are in a tough position to get their employees promoted – at my old org, it took a lot of savvy and some capital to get your people raises/promotions (should not be that way, but it was). On the other hand I’ve also seen some new bosses come in with a power move and shake things up, so maybe they can, maybe they can’t.

      3. Artemesia*

        Confident tone is important. Of course, the boss will want to handle this as it is only obvious and right. BUT you should be looking for a job elsewhere while you negotiate this. If it is denied, find the senior role somewhere else.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think do your research then be able to say something like :

      I’m currently doing X, Y and Z. These are things which would typically be done by senior llama groomers and I would like the company to recognise that and changge my title to Senior Llama Groomer. If it isn’t possible for that yto happen now, I would like you to set out what additional skillsor experience you / the company would expect me to have to give me that change in title.

      I’m also currently being paid $xxx, which is market rate / low end of market rate (or as appropriate) for a llama groomer. Looking at the work I’m actually doing, I belive the mrket rate for the job I’m doing, whether or not I am given the change in title, is $xx- $xxx . I am formawlly requesting that the company increses my salary to $xxx, comensuarate with the work I am actually undertaking .

      I think you need to be very clear and specifc as to what you are asking and the time frame you wnat it to happen in. For the salary you cna expressly say that in light of the additional work . responsibilities you have taken on your are currently underpaid for the work you are doing.

      This may be above your immediate boss’s paygrade so if he says that then the next thing would be to ask him t what the process is – i.e. does he need to set up a meeting with his boss to put forward this request, or a joint meeting with you, him and grandboss? Ask him for specifcs and a timescale

    7. calvin blick*

      I was in the exact same boat. I was grooming the most llamas, dealt with high priority and difficult customers, trained junior groomers and took on additional projects. Every year during my review, I would say I wanted to grow in my role and look at opportunities for promotion; every year my boss would solemnly agree and then do absolutely nothing except give me more responsibility. I was getting paid significantly less than people doing less work, and we hired a recent grad into the same position for about what I was making even though I was much more senior and doing much more work.

      I actually had a good relationship on a personal level with my boss. I think he just liked having someone who could handle a lot of work and not get paid very much for it. I did eventually get an okay raise that just made me underpaid instead of ridiculously underpaid, but I had to leave the company to get paid what I deserved.

      What is frustrating is that I applied for Grooming Manager twice. The first time, the role got split among three different internal candidates, none of whom was me. The main Manager left after less than a year after burning every bridge he had at the company. The second time my application wasn’t even acknowledged and we hired an external candidate who was apparently seen as pretty clueless. I definitely would have been better than those guys and they would have saved a lot of heartburn and money.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        This is 110% what happened to me several years ago, and I also solved it by leaving.

      2. Sundial*

        Thirding, I also solved the same problem by leaving.

        I was working my behind off, and getting great feedback. Asked for a title change from SME to Senior SME at my annual review, three years in a row. They blew smoke up my a$$ and never did it. I got fed up and left.

        Looking back, I’m thrilled that they screwed me over. They wouldn’t give me a title change that would have cost them zero dollars, and it pissed me off so badly that it forced me to take action. My new job is a senior role, fully and permanently remote, 1/3 less work, and 50% more money (80k –> 120k). If they’d given me that title, I wouldn’t have all this now.

      3. Artemesia*

        Once you are pegged at a certain level your progress is blocked in that environment. They will keep hiring incompetent men who can’t do the job while not seeing you as a viable candidate. This is the classic situation in which you have to leave to get what you are worth in respect and pay.

    8. Parenthesis Dude*

      HR is usually useless for this sort of thing.

      I’d talk to friends that got promoted and see if they know why. It may be something counter-intuitive.

    9. Observer*

      You have gotten some good advice.

      *In addition* I’m going to ask about demographics. Are you a woman or POC? What are the demographics of the people who do have the “senior” title and pay?

      If there is a significant difference (eg all of the Seniors are ethnicity X or Y, and you are ethnicity Z or it’s all guys and you are a woman, or whatever), then you might want to point that out to your boss and HR if you can’t get anywhere.

      1. Roxie*

        I’m a white woman. I have found people who have gotten promoted in this company are men (usually white, but some POC, usually at Director and V level). However I do know another woman who’s a POC who was promoted from a Llama Groomer to Senior, but she even mentioned it was mostly due to HER boss leaving, she was able to make a case. Her and I deal with different types of llamas, so it’s not a direct comparison.

        1. Observer*

          If you don’t get straight answers, well I hate to say it but you’ve just explained why. Definitely bring it up if you are dealing with people who are reasonable enough to back down. If not, start looking for a job with an employer who doesn’t discriminate.

    10. Wisteria*

      “I want to make sure I’m compensated fairly (aka promoted). ”

      Those are not the same thing. Salary *should* grow with performance, which can include increased responsibility, but that doesn’t mean you get a promotion along with your raises. If you haven’t been getting raises in line with your increased skill and responsibility, that’s a problem to be solved separately from the promotion. It’s not uncommon for two job grades to have overlapping salary ranges, so people in different job grades might make similar salaries (or you could even have a senior person who makes less than a junior person, if the senior person is at the lower end of that salary range and the junior person is at the higher end of that salary range).

      You will be disappointed to hear that to get that promotion, you will already have to be performing at the senior level. Seniority is about more responsibility, but also about increased autonomy in making decisions, needing less supervision, supervising/mentoring others, working on things that will impact an entire team/department/whatever (as opposed to just completing your assigned task), becoming a subject matter expert/go-to person (being the go-to person carries more weight that self-proclaimed expertise). When you put your case together, look for examples like those, not just examples of how you did more and harder work. For example, don’t just give examples of how you mastered llama fur pin curls and now can be assigned pin curl fur setting tasks in addition to the French braiding tasks you have historically been assigned. That’s more work and harder work, but it’s not more senior work. Also include examples of how you were called in as a consultant to other people who wanted to use pin curls in their grooming plans or how you held a pin curl lunch and learn or how you did a cost analysis of pin curls vs. French braids for an 8 member llama semaphore team and the World Sword Swallowing Day Parade changed its llama grooming project plan based on what you found. Etc.

      Good luck!

    11. Sloanicote*

      I have been thinking about this and the context needs to be, “promote me or I will leave.” You need to be ready to back up that threat for this to work. You will probably want to start job searching. You are past the “can I get a taste of more senior responsibilities so I can One Day reach senior level” stage.

  2. Let’s talk about temp agencies*

    I’m getting fed up with applying for 7-10 jobs every week and never hearing back from anyone unless it’s a rejection or a scam, so I’m thinking about trying to connect with a temp agency.

    Which agencies have you used in the past? Did you have good experiences with them? Did they provide health insurance? Were you able to break into a new sector with your temp worker experience?

    1. Tuesday*

      I had a good experience with Robert Half, but I only used them once for part-time work so there was no health insurance. I did in fact break into a new sector, but it was tangentially related to my old job so nothing major.

      Some universities also have their own temp departments, like Vanderbilt – I highly recommend seeing if something like that exists near you.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I used Robert Half a few times. One was just a short term job, which is what I wanted. This past job search they had some pretty good direct placement jobs I considered but found one a bit better on my own, but they are definitely worth looking at if you’re in any kind of tech or finance area.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          I started at my current job through Robert Half – worked well for me and I am now permanent.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        I work in a career center and we consistently hear good feedback about Robert Half, especially regarding accounting/finance and remote positions.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        I’m currently working through Robert Half.

        The only issues I have with them are:
        1. Their health insurance options suck. They have one plan that only covers regular stuff, no emergency or hospitalization, then the high deductible with HSA, that covers hospitalization in addition to that, is only available after you’ve been there a year! Yet the stuff that can make you bankrupt is the emergency/hospital stuff, not the routine appointments. Apparently none of them cover drugs.
        2. Their payroll *only* deposits to one account at one bank. I’m used to splitting my pay between three accounts at two different banks. So every week I need to go make transfers.

        The job I have is fine, and is temp to perm on a six month contract, so I would still recommend them, just make sure you have another source for adequate health insurance.

    2. Sundial*

      You should provide your field/industry. Specialty agencies are often the way to go, and we won’t know which to suggest without that info.

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

        Agreed. If you are a creative person — Creative Circle is a good agency, or Aquent… but it really depends on the work you are looking for.

        1. Sundial*

          Agreed, Creative Circle is good for writing/design/marketing.

          Synerfac is good for STEM.

          I had two VERY bad experiences with Aerotek, to the point that my company dropped them as a contractor resource completely.

      2. Let's talk about temp agencies*

        I’m currently in public libraries but I’m looking for more generalized office work. Data entry, that sort of thing.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      When I was unemployed, I signed up with several. Area Temps worked nicely for me. But I had to talk them into sending me to a warehouse job. (I’m a chemist, but between my experience and age, they weren’t able to place me. )

    4. 3lla*

      The best agency to use depends heavily on your field, as all the good ones are in some way specialized. What kind of work do you do, or what might you be open to doing?

      The agencies I’ve worked for do have health insurance for full time temps. Usually if you miss a week of work, they will invoice you somehow for your part of the health insurance premium.

    5. Looking for a Change*

      Not the OP, but does anyone have recommendations for temp agencies for people looking to move out of public libraries (and not do anything that requires knowing a computer language)? Bonus points for agencies that understand that sometimes, you just don’t want to be in leadership anymore, but you could be great at other roles.

      1. Let's talk about temp agencies*

        This is exactly why I’m looking! I hope we both get something good soon!

    6. Public Sector Manager*

      My sister does HR at an insurance company (they’re big internationally but only do insurance on the west coast here in the U.S.). They have about 650 employees, and they will hire from temp agencies for permanent positions, but they only use large companies for temp staffing because of the volume of temps they need throughout the year. So they’ll use Robert Half, Kelly, Randstad, Manpower, etc.. I know PrideStaff offers health insurance.

      Also, a lot of government agencies hire temporary employees directly. Like for my state employer, we will have temporary employees and permanent intermittent employees. Temporary is just that–it’s regular temp work. For permanent intermittent employees, it’s full-time seasonal work where you will come back the next year. At my office, a lot of our permanent full-time employees are former permanent intermittent employees.

      Temporary and permanent intermittent employees usually get all the same benefits except for pension. So it’s a great way to break into the public sector if entry level public sector jobs are tough to get in your area.

    7. temp star*

      I used Randstad before I got hired onto a full-time role elsewhere. My agency contact was great and seemed intent on helping me find things that aligned with my skillset and goals. I think I could have easily gotten into a different temp role and used it to climb into a full-time role. I’ve known many people who have done so!
      My partner is currently using Randstad and has been working for a big local company through them for about a year…he does get health insurance but it isn’t the best plan (pricey). He has been able to move from retail to IT, and is soon starting a tech boot camp to acquire more skills.

      I would say GO FOR IT, and remember that it is whatever you make of it. be honest with your rep and your placements about what you want (like if your goal is to get hired by the company or whatever).

    8. Canonical23*

      If you’re in libraries currently, I would actually suggest reaching out to a recruiting firm that specializes in administrative help. During the pandemic I was having a heck of a time finding a library job and had a lot of luck getting interviews with a local recruiting firm that focused on roles like data entry, admin assistants, payroll/benefits administration, paralegals, etc.

      ….I did end up getting a library job offer before any of the interviews from the recruiter panned out, but it was a far more productive experience than constantly applying and getting ghosted.

      I think a big problem is that if your experience is only in libraries, you come up against peoples’ stereotypical perceptions of a library – it’s quiet work, with strict and grumpy people, and all you do is read all day. (ha!) Getting a recruiter to help explain directly to the hiring manager how your library experience translates to admin or customer-service focused roles makes it less likely that they’ll toss your application out because they think you aren’t up for the job.

    9. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      I can only offer a warning: they want to place you so they’ll get paid. Be wary of them sending you to jobs you specified you weren’t interested in or are completely unsuited for. A few years back, I had a local Manpower office tell me they were sending me to an inventory gig like I wanted; when I arrived, the workplace–and I!–were very confused. Because “we told them we needed a secretary” as the trainer said my first day, after I asked when we’d move from answering phones and taking orders at the front desk to the actual job over at the warehouse I thought I’d been signed on for. Never even got to see it. :/

      My recruiter or whatever you call them at Manpower was angry I walked out of that job, and refused to give me other assignments. She legit outright told me she thought I’d be “so grateful to have a job” that I’d just decide to keep working at that one even though it was a total bait-and-switch. Then she told me I was going to be fired as a client with them if I didn’t take any of the jobs. You know, the ones that I wasn’t even being offered by her. I told her I’d already written her off and had no intention of working with them again, and to stop calling me. (I said all this FAR less diplomatically than I did here, and with more swears. I regret none of it.) Then I blocked the number and found a job on my own.

      I’d gone to a temp agency because I wanted to get OUT of admin assist/receptionist work, and I was very upfront about this going in. I know I could try somewhere else, but that Manpower office really left an awful taste in my mouth. (Which, they went out of business not long after–guess lying to people didn’t pay off for them like they hoped!)

    10. RagingADHD*

      Back in the day, I had fine experiences with national franchises like Kelly and Manpower, but got the best placements with well-established local agencies.

      I recommend 2 approaches to find a well-connected agency in your area:

      1) look on your nearest metro newspaper’s job board for the kinds of jobs you want and make note of which agencies pop up most often, and/or

      2) search for “temp agencies near me” and see what job openings they have listed on their website, to see if they are handling what you are looking for.

      A lot of companies outsource hiring for admin and clerical roles, and use temp-to-perm contracts to find a good fit.

      The last time I temped was ten years ago, but i still see these same kind of listings in the same places. At that time you could get benefits from the better agencies if you stayed on contract with them for a certain number of months, but I always wound up going permanent in a role before it would have kicked in, so I got the bennies sooner.

      The thing I appreciate about temp agencies is that your interests are fully aligned. They want to charge the most money they can and keep their clients happy, so their goal is to put you in a role where your skills and temperament are a match, and that pays well.

      IME, the quickest way to make an agency love you and put you forward for the best roles is to say that you are looking for temp to perm, but your immediate goal is to get working as quickly as possible, so you’re happy to take short term placements on short notice until they find the best match.

      Then when they call you for a sick-day coverage, be available, prompt, friendly, and a good listener.

      If your skills are good and they get good feedback from the clients, within a couple of weeks they will move you to the top of the list.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This sounds very similar to what a friend did. She toughed it out, driving to a commuter lot and taking a looong bus ride. Eventually, they found her a job near home and she has been at that job for years. She was never out of work, though.

    11. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      They are a smaller firm, but the best recruiter I have ever worked with was with Interactive Resources. They are headquartered in FL but place people all over the country (I am in WI, for instance). They to mostly temp to perm as opposed to contract only positions.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know this wasn’t for me but it’s worth a try. I have been ghosted by so. many. recruiters.

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          Not only did she not ghost me, she kept in touch with me all during 2020 when no one was hiring. She didn’t have any positions but she kept checking in on me to see how I was holding up. When she finally was able to set up an interview for me and I subsequently got the job I think she was just as happy as I was. Just a totally phenomenal person and recruiter!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            She didn’t have any positions but she kept checking in on me to see how I was holding up.

            I doubt you’ve been out of work as long as I have but what happens is they’re all enthusiastic about it at the outset, and then…crickets. The last person I talked to was like that.

            I would love someone like your recruiter. I think they see me as a challenge they don’t want to bother with. :( I literally rewrote my LinkedIn like, “Hey, y’all! Think you have what it takes?!?”

  3. Dog Tags*

    I’ve been at my new job for about eight months, and so have finalized a few projects. Most of the project managers like to celebrate major releases with a lunch party, small token, or similar. It’s a nice way to wrap up a long period of work with the team and have a memento.

    One particular PM gives everyone on the team personalized dog tags, with the project name/date and our names stamped on them. Treating a dog tag like a club tee shirt is so revolting, I can barely find words for it. (For personal context, I’m in my 40s, and my dad was drafted into Vietnam and his health never recovered, either physically or mentally. It affected our family’s entire lives.) Nobody else has said or done anything to imply they have any issue with this.

    WWYD? Say something to him? Try to discreetly see if others also object? Say nothing, and just destroy mine?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think I would say something individually to this PM. You can weigh if it’s worth it to you to flag the issues with dog tags as a whole, or if you want to just personally opt out, but I think I’d go with the latter. I’d say something along the lines of, “I know you mean well, but dog tags have a personal significance to me that don’t align with these celebrations. Could you leave me off the distribution list for these going forward? I’m happy to celebrate in other ways!”

    2. Geek5508*

      I had a brother who served in Vietnam. It messed him up mentally & physically as well. (There is a good chance the cancer that killed him was caused by Agent Orange). I would have no problem getting a “dog tag” memento, but I can understand your pain.

      I would discreetly say something to the PM, one-on-one

      1. Anastatia Beaverhousen*

        OMH when I read this I was thinking pet tags, like the tag I put on my dogs collar in case he gets lost. It did not dawn on me that it meant military tags. That is even a weirder concept! Just put the money towards a pizza party or something.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          I too was halfway thru the post before I made the connection as well, originally thinking of pet tags like you. I know dog tags were very popular in the mid-90’s but thought they went out of fashion but I guess I’m old enough now that things from my teenaged years are starting to make a come-back.
          OP, I agree, a discreet word with PM is probably best.

        2. Zephy*

          Tbf it probably IS literally a tag like that, but the machine at Walmart/the pet store/the gas station/wherever the PM is going to have them made doesn’t care what text you put on the tag.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Oh, that is a tough one. I think dog tags have become an accessory that people don’t even think about. And some people may find it problematic, not only for reasons like yours but also if they themselves were in the military, dog tags could be something they find very personal. Some may feel it is disrespectful for civilians to use them as jewelry.

      I always thought that trend was a little weird. I did a quick article search and did find this about fake dog tags. Maybe it would be something to open up a conversation?

    4. thelettermegan*

      At some point before or during the next launch party, try something like “I’m not comfortable with using military-like items as keepsakes, but would you consider, for next time, using personalized buttons, patches, or badges instead?”

    5. Bananagrams*

      A team at my company did this, but with challenge coins. I told them to not worry about making one for me, and that they could donate the amount they would have used to make it to a veterans charity instead. I also flagged that a for-profit company with nothing to do with the military or veterans issuing challenge coins might not sit great with everyone, but I was comfortable doing that because I was senior to the person involved.

    6. londonedit*

      I wouldn’t have a clue what a challenge coin was, and I didn’t know dog tags were problematic either (I don’t think they have the same connotations in the British forces) so I don’t think this person is necessarily being deliberately awful. Having said that I don’t think there would be any harm in a polite ‘Hey, I appreciate the fact that you want to do something nice to commemorate the end of a project, but I personally have some issues with the dog tags – I’d rather we didn’t use them, but if you’d like to carry on with them then I’d appreciate it if you didn’t have one made for me’. A reasonable person would understand that (and would hopefully reconsider their choice of commemorative item).

      1. pancakes*

        I only learned about challenge coins recently and it’s a very, very odd culture to me. I would definitely rather ask to be left out of this type of keepsake than quietly take one and toss it later. Dog tags are actually slightly less eyebrow raising to me but they are meant to identify someone’s remains, and that doesn’t seem like fun team project memento to me at all.

    7. Purple Cat*

      I would pull them aside and explain your concerns with more neutral words – obviously leaving out “revolting” and offer up an alternative.
      “PM, I’m not sure if anyone else has ever mentioned this, but I find the use of dog tags to be disrespectful to the military, have you considered keychains (or something else) instead?” And depending on what they say you can just ask the PM to not make one for you. I think it’s key to offer a substitution that is similar.
      There is a risk that the PM feel that this is “THEIR THING” and that it’s REALLY important to keep it up. When the reality is most recipients probably don’t care all that much. It’s just swag to throw in a drawer (or away)

    8. mreasy*

      I feel the same way re military symbols as I’m very anti (my dad has a similar experience due to his time in Vietnam). I would just say you don’t want them & explain why. If you’d been there longer I would say try to get him to stop using them altogether tbh.

    9. Migraine Month*

      I don’t have any suggestions that others haven’t put forward, but giving out dog tags seems really weird. A previous job gave everyone a clock and we got little foam decals to stick on it for every release, and even that seems less weird.

      Do people wear all of the project tags on a chain under their shirt? Put them on their desks in little bowls like “take a penny, leave a penny”? Hang them from strings stapled to the ceiling? Wear them to work attached to BDSM collars?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, it seems like a useless trinket and a waste of money at best.

        Generally speaking I don’t care for little prizes like this at work. I filled a garbage with stuff my husband and I had gotten over the years.

        Since you are new, OP, and since there is a strong possibility the PM does not understand what the tags can mean to some people then at most I’d say something like, “My parent fought in Nam and it forever changed the course of his life. Soon we will be seeing the adult children from people who were in other places- Afghanistan or Iraq, etc,, it might be a good idea to realize that dog tags mean something very, very different from what you intend here. I get that you mean it as kudos, but it doesn’t come across that way for everyone. If the situation were reversed, I’d want someone to tell me. So I thought I would mention it to you.”

        Frankly, I’d probably just throw it in the trash can and get it out of my life and my mind. I started doing this in my late 30s. Some gifts were just too upsetting to be wasting my brain space on, I would stop at a convenience store and throw it in their garbage on the way home from work. Out of sight, out of mind.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      I was in the military and used to wear dog tags. I don’t mind people wearing something similar as jewelry. Military ones were not cute. But this is just a useless trinket. I’d just a soon take a no cost certificate that is better because zero cost and can be recycled when I get around to throwing it away.

      I am a PM. We don’t do this and a memento of a project is super odd to me.

      Give feedback to the guy that you don’t want any more.

      1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

        I am a PM. We don’t do this and a memento of a project is super odd to me.

        You’ve never worked in finance! Elaborate “deal toys” are routinely given out as mementos of deals.

    11. Curmudgeon in California*

      So, my spouse and I wear dog tags, but they are of a different color (as in, actual pet tags, not military dog tags) and have no vital information on them.

      Pet tags are made in different shapes other than the military regulation style. One of the shapes they come in is round, like a medallion. They also come in star shaped, as well as the usual pet related shapes. Maybe the PM could use this instead?

  4. Sunflower*

    I’ve been in my new job for 2.5 months now and feel like I’ve gotten no hands on training and should be more involved in projects at this point. I love my boss and she’s been great with easing me into things but I’m still not doing much hands on. I understand it’s not terribly odd that my workload is still light but my primary concern is I have a lot of projects on the horizon in the fall. I’m terrified summer is going to end and I’m going to get thrown into things and drown because I’ve had no training yet I’ll be expected to know how to do everything.

    How do I talk to my boss about this? I’m getting the feeling my boss is super busy and she’s in a bit of ‘it’s easier for me to just do this and I’ll train Sunflower on it later’ but I’m obviously super nervous later is going to pop up and I’m going to be clueless despite being here for months and feeling like I should know how to do things.

    1. Warrior Princess xena*

      Can you ask if you could shadow her while she works? It’s a little less hands-on than training, so she’d be able to get a little more done and you could get some knowledge.

    2. anonymous73*

      I would just be honest with her. You have a legitimate concern. It won’t make you look weak, it will make you seem eager to take on more responsibility. And see if there’s someone else who can help provide you with training instead of your manager.

    3. calvin blick*

      I had a somewhat similar experience. I have just started doing things and acting like I know what I am doing. I’m trying to document everything and keep everyone looped in so if I go too far off base someone will hopefully notice, but overall if you just throw out short declarative sentences and occasionally throw in requests for extremely detailed explanations people just go with it.

    4. Cheezmouser*

      Your boss sounds like me. Sometimes well-meaning bosses hold back projects because they’re trying to protect you from feeling overwhelmed in a new position. Sometimes they’re so busy that it gets really hard to delegate, because the amount of time it takes to get stuff organized enough to provide someone else with clear directions and hand off a project is about the same as just doing it yourself, so you think “I don’t have time to prep this for Sunflower and it’s already behind schedule, I don’t want to drop a rush request on them when they’re new, so I’ll just do it real quick and send the next one to Sunflower,” but you never catch up so you never get into a position to delegate.

      As for what to do, here’s what I’d want one of my direct reports to do:
      1. Let me know! “I’ve been here 2.5 months, and I feel ready to kick things up a notch. Are there any projects I could take off your plate? Or can I get a jump start on any of the fall projects?”
      2. Ask for a chance to learn on the job. “So far I’ve been trained on X and Y, but I haven’t had a chance to apply my training yet. I find that I learn best by doing, so are there any projects that you could send me to help me practice?”
      3. Assess your job responsibilities and make sure you’re owning what you’re supposed to be owning. “My understanding is that the Llama Groomer role on this team is responsible for grooming 10-15 llamas per week. Right now I’m only grooming the 3 short-haired llamas. Can I start getting the long-hairs and curly-hairs assigned to me now?” This works well especially if you haven’t been trained on how to groom long-hairs and curly-hairs, because then your next question is, “Great! I’m looking forward to working with these llamas next week. I’m comfortable grooming the short-hairs; who would be the best person to show me how to groom the long-hairs and the curly-hairs?” And then you can get real work done during the training by having your trainer actually groom the llamas while you watch (or you groom the llamas while the trainer watches and provides directions) instead of just doing a practice exercise.
      4. Request a project hand-off meeting with your boss. My company culture is very meeting-heavy, which is one of the reasons why it’s hard for me as the boss to find time to prep and assign projects. But if I could actually do that during a meeting, then that helps me get around the time crunch issue. During your next 1on1 with your boss, you might say, “I feel ready for more projects to be assigned to me. Would it help for us to set up a meeting later this week to go over some potential projects that I could take over? You could brief me on the projects and we could discuss what I need to do to move them forward or what training I might need. Would Thursday morning give you enough time to organize everything?”

      In all of these strategies, the goal is to develop a plan for moving forward, so there are clear next steps for both you and your boss, not just a nebulous idea of “at some point, some of these projects will come my way.” You want to get to, “On Thursday, we will review which long-haired llamas will be assigned to Sunflower and assign Daffodil to train you on Friday morning. You will start grooming the long-hairs on Monday. We’ll discuss the timeline for the curly-hairs during our next 1on1 next Tuesday.”

    5. Irish Teacher*

      This was when I worked retail so might not be relevant, but my boss had an awful habit of doing what you mention, asking new people “do you know how to do x?” and if they said no, just doing it for them. I had a lot of admiration for the girl who asked him, politely, “would you show me how to do it instead, so that I know for the future?”

  5. Multiple professional selves and LinkedIn*

    The question earlier this week about the person with two LinkedIn profiles and two jobs got me thinking. If you have a second job (with no conflict between the two) that are unrelated, how do you best represent your two professional “selves.”

    Like let’s say you’re a bookkeeper by day full-time, but after hours and on the weekends, you work as a career coach helping stay at home parents re-enter the workforce. How would you get the benefits of using a platform like LinkedIn when you have two separate occupations?

    Have one LinkedIn and just talk about both topics? Have two LinkedIns (seems confusing tbh)? Use LinkedIn for just one and find some other form of networking/media for the other?

    1. Savvy*

      I think single profile is best (and seems less misleading), but how you structure it would depend on what you hope to gain from LinkedIn. Are you hoping to find clients for your career coaching business? If so, it may be helpful to have “career coach” be your “headline” and focus more on that in your bio/summary. But your listed experience would still include your bookkeeping work, so it would still be a comprehensive profile for your professional self.

      1. gaggle*

        I actually know someone who is a recruiter and does life coaching on the side. She lists both as ongoing positions, but focuses more on the recruiting due to the nature of that position. I think for something like bookkeeping, it’d be much easier to focus on the side gig until the page needs updated for a job search.

    2. PassThePeasPlease*

      I would include both on my single LinkedIn profile (probably first in the summary- “A dog groomer by day and superhero by night” or something similar as well as in the experience section) but probably focus on LI for mostly my day job and another platform like Twitter or Instagram for the second job. I’ve found LI to really only lend itself to certain topics and think it would be easier to connect with potential clients on another platform.

      1. Migraine Month*

        I’ve been trying for ages to break into the dog groomer/superhero field, but it’s hard to get the required experience. (Plus, it’s wreaking havoc with my sleep schedule. It’s so hard to be a vigilante when I need at least nine hours of sleep a night.)

    3. irene adler*

      When I signed up for LI (a long time ago) I recall a statement that users are to have one profile and they on their honor to only enter only truthful information into it. I cannot find this statement on their website today. The intent is not to deceive others.

      I have a co-worker who has multiple profiles on LI. Profile-wise, he’s worked himself up from Manager to Director to VP of our company. Completely false. That irks me.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        I was curious, so I looked up the LinkedIn terms of service and found this:
        “To use the Services, you agree that: (1) you must be the “Minimum Age”(described below) or older; (2) you will only have one LinkedIn account, which must be in your real name; and (3) you are not already restricted by LinkedIn from using the Services. Creating an account with false information is a violation of our terms, including accounts registered on behalf of others or persons under the age of 16.”

      2. Audiophile*

        LinkedIn does have a report function. No reason not to report the duplicate profiles.

        I’ve had colleagues who have had more than one profile. Any time I’ve asked why the usual story I get is that they forgot their password to their previous account. Doesn’t exactly hold water since LinkedIn offers multiple methods for resetting your password (email/phone).

        1. irene adler*

          I might report the multiple profiles -someday. Right now I chuckle over the obvious self-promotion.

    4. Dr. Prepper*

      If you are getting paid by clients at your second gig, you are owning/running a business. Keep your “main” LI Profile indicating your 8-5 job, but create a business page for your second job. You don’t need to be an LLC or other corporation (but it is recommended if you are in any sort of liability risk) – just file a DBA (doing business as) name with the county and usually pay 5 bucks to register.

      You can also make business pages on Facebook, Google and Yahoo.

    5. NancyDrew*

      I have a long career in communications at the executive level. I also have a second career as a traditionally published author. I used to be SO concerned about how to present them both online, and ultimately decided both spoke to my skills and strengths and that it was stupid to pretend there were two different versions of me. So my LI talks about both of them; my website has an Author Bio and a Corporate Bio, and I talk freely about both of them everywhere online. It works for me!

  6. Interpreter*

    A plea and PSA to folks who answer phones at their work: please don’t hang up immediately if someone reads a script! I’m an interpreter who interprets phone calls and we have to read a script (unless the caller asks us not to) to let you know the call is being interpreted. It’s so frustrating to wait 20 minutes on hold, only to be hung up on before you’re even done explaining! And entirely unfair to the caller to be denied service.

    (It’s also illegal for merchants or government agencies to refuse to accept calls that come through relay.)

    1. Sunflower*

      What type of business do you work in? Can the script about interpretation be read after you/the caller explains why they are calling?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree with changing it on the script end, rather than on the everyone-who-receives-phone-calls-end. For both effectiveness and that you can only change your side. e.g. “Hello, I’m an interpreter with XYZ and calling with Ms. Mendez.” (pause)

        I don’t know what “come through relay” means but I am doubtful that this is something the people answering the phone can discern, which marks this call as legit unlike all the other times you pick up the phone and a recording starts reading a script.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          I think what relay means is when there is someone who is deaf they either type or sign to the person who is doing the speaking. It can actually be very frustrating for the 3rd person getting the call. Especially if they are working with sensitive information, oftentimes people will pretend to be relay workers when they are actually fishing and are trying to look up info or something.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Oh, that’s frustrating. Can something be added to the VERY BEGINNING of the script saying something to the effect of “I’m a real person”. So many times scripts = spammy telemarketers.

      1. Interpreter*

        Because when they say (for example) “Thank you for calling, are you a member or a provider?”, I have to read the script. I don’t know if the person calling is a member or a provider, and I obviously cannot answer for them.

        And if I were to pause to ask the caller which they are without the script, the person who answered hangs up because there isn’t an immediate response. There’s a slight delay for me to hear the question, interpret it, then wait for the response, then interpret that back into English. So just not announcing doesn’t work.

        Trust, I’ve got years of experience handling this. But life for relay users and interpreters would be much easier if folks could be a bit more open to actually hearing what others are saying.

        1. Ginger Pet Lady*

          Why not just say “I am an interpreter for the deaf – please be patient while I pass on your question to the caller.”
          Short, simple, and NOT read like a script.
          If instead you launch into “My name is Annie and I’m with XYZ company and what we do is….” then of course people hang up. That’s how sales calls start!

          1. starfox*

            Probably because interpreters aren’t allowed to reveal the caller’s personal health information like that.

            1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

              Well, that opener would still work if you took out “for the deaf”.

              But I think in that sort of situation, maybe the real problem is the script is too long to be appropriate for the first answerer? It presumably includes some kind of “I’m not allowed to give opinions, I must relay everything to the person I’m interpreting for, here’s how it works in practice”. And that makes sense when you’re going to be talking a while. But in a big organisation, the first answerer only wants to know how to send you to the right place. I wonder if you can go back to the source of the mandate of the script, and get permission for a more minimalist script for those kinds of “we’re not even talking to the right person yet” preliminaries.

              1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

                (Sorry, I realise now you weren’t looking for that kind of thought)

        2. WheresMyPen*

          I think people are so used to getting spam calls about your computer being hacked or for new deals on broadband that they do hang up when they hear a robot or impersonal voice, but that’s me as an individual. I imagine a lot of people don’t even know that phone interpreting is a thing, so they might be confused if there are pauses or no initial introduction from you. I think introducing yourself as the interpreter first could be the best option, when I studied interpreting (foreign languages) at university we were taught to introduce ourselves and explain the process to the recipient first, before starting the interpretation.

          1. Doug*

            My favorite are the ones that have been trying to reach me regarding my car’s extended warranty.

        3. pancakes*

          Is there no way to ask the caller that before someone picks up? This seems like a terrible system.

        4. Observer*

          But life for relay users and interpreters would be much easier if folks could be a bit more open to actually hearing what others are saying.

          And it would be easier for them if you actually TOLD people that you are an interpreter.

          Sorry, I’m not going to stop hanging up on telemarketers who waste my time because MAYBE someone is actually an interpreter.

          If you actually say “I’m an interpreter reading what the client is saying” or just start with “Hi! I’m an interpreter and everything from here on in is me reading a script”, decent people (and people who don’t want to get into trouble) won’t hang up on you.

        5. Oddbodkins*

          Because when they say (for example) “Thank you for calling, are you a member or a provider?”, I have to read the script.

          Then the problem is with the policy that you have to read the script without any introduction for context — not with the people hanging up, whose time you’re wasting.

    3. Interpreter*

      I guess I should add, I have plenty of strategies for making the script more person-sounding and don’t need advice on that. It’s also up to the caller if they want to announce the interpreter after the fact; some want the interpreter to deal with it since it’s so frustrating, others want to explain themselves, but it’s never the interpreter’s decision. Autonomy and agency is a fundamental part of the work I do.

      Instead this is a plea to actually listen when people talk, even if it’s unfamiliar or not something you’ve experienced before (small smile)

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I agree and I couldnt imagine hanging up on someone just because it sounds like a script? But I’ve been on the other end of the phone a few times so maybe I’m just more considerate

      2. Observer*

        Well, the user should be informed that a lot of people will hang up when they get a call that has all the hallmarks of a cold call. If they still don’t want, then that’s their decision to make. But the problem you are having is not that people are not listening, it’s that they ARE listening and using pattern matching to make decisions. Disrupting the pattern is what you need to do.

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Hmm, what the script start off as? I’ve worked call center and receptionist and we had relay calls a few times. Its always been something like “Hello I am an interpreter and I have X person who is communicating via text as they are deaf.” Or something similar. Is there a way to make the script sound a bit less script? Like do you have to follow the exact wording.

      I do know that at one company we had to use our own interpreters but we dealt with SSN and bank information and I think there had been problems in the past with fake interpreters getting a hold of clients info.

      1. kittycontractor*

        Yeah, when I worked in government we would have them as well and they always started off with something very similar before anything else so it put us on notice right away.

    5. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Sounds like the script needs a rewrite so that it’s more clear right from the start what is going on. People don’t hang up because it’s a script, they hang up because it sounds like a sales/spam script. Any maybe also spoken in a more conversational voice.

      1. PollyQ*

        Yeah, the underlying problem is that there are SO many spam calls these days. I can’t really blame people for having a hair-trigger reaction. But I will take the PSA to heart!

      2. SomebodyElse*

        Agreed, in a previous life I used to get calls from people speaking for a deaf client and clients using our interpreter service for other languages (I always thought this was cool of my company for offering this).

        Anyway, they all started out with a quick “You’re speaking to an interpreter for one of your clients” they would wait for a response I’d usually come up with something like “Uh OK” (terribly professional I know!) then they would go into their script to explain how the interpretation worked.

        In other words, in the first sentence sound human (sorry that sounds bad, but I mean don’t sound like Karen, who wants to talk to me about my car warranty), then once you’ve had acknowledgement they understand what’s going on, then you can go into your rote script (which I’m sure no fault to you sounds like you are in fact Karen, who wants to talk to me about my car warranty).

    6. Sundial*

      Nobody is going to waste time listening to what they think is a spam call. It’s on you to communicate your purpose promptly and clearly.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Sorry OP, I agree with Sundial. It’s on you to make it clear quickly it is not a spam call. I get maybe 1 legitimate phone call every 2-3 months (Work phone, not personal) but 3-4 phone calls a month (again this is a direct line work phone) that are spam sales calls if not outright scam calls. The math just doesn’t lend itself to giving any of my time to determine if a call is legitimate; it needs to be crystal right up front.

    7. Anon for This*

      Is there a delay before you start speaking? I tend to hang up if I answer the phone and no one speaks – to me that means the call was placed by a robo-dialer. (Occasionally when I hang up I can hear a voice finally coming on the line, but I still hang up.)

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I have a family member who communicates through a relay, and the first time they called us through it, I almost hung up. There was a lot of background hiss, a pause of a second or two, and a remote-sounding voice that started with “This call is being made through a relay” or similar. I was about to hang up when I thought of this profoundly deaf family member and realized it might be them. It would have gone a lot more smoothly if the audio were higher quality and the voice sounded less record-y.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, I will say “Hello” twice, with a pause between each, and then “Goodbye” if I get no response. I don’t have time to wait for an operator to try to scam me out of my hard earned money.

        For an interpreted call, what I would want to hear when I answer is “Hello. I am an interpreter for (client name). There will be lags as I type in what you say and as I read what their response is. Please bear with us…. (etc)” Yes, it’s a script, and yours may be similar, but you establish up front who you are (an interpreter) and who you are speaking for (client name).

        Hope this helps.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I spent about 20 years answering phones and never got a call like this, so I think this is either something you need to communicate to the specific businesses you’re most likely to deal with (because shouting it into the void isn’t going to help), or a problem that needs to be solved in your own (or your agencies’) methodology.

      Of course people are going to hang up on dead air or what sounds like a sales pitch, because otherwise they would waste their entire day on the 99.9 percent of such calls that are spam just on the outside chance.

      And then they would get fired for being unproductive and wasting time. You aren’t asking for patience and understanding. You’re asking people (usually the lowest -paid people) to risk their livelihood with very little chance of accomplishing anything.

      I am not sure why immediately announcing that you are an interpreter would violate the client’s agency when it is immediately obvious to the recipient that it is not a standard call, and you’re extremely likely not to be able to conduct their business at all.

    9. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I don’t have any advice, but I would just like to say that I think that your job is incredibly cool. I was a CS rep in the pharmaceutical industry years ago, and once got a call from someone in your position interpreting for a deaf pharmacist. This person helped with a technically precise regulatory conversation that must have been so confusing for someone outside the industry, but they were amazing and we got through the call with the pharmacist understanding clearly what they needed to do to be compliant. This probably happened 7 or 8 years ago and it’s still once of my favorite memories from that job.

      1. Books and Cooks*

        I had a relay call once when I worked at a call center for a (then) major credit card company. I worked in Balance Transfers, and felt so bad for the relayer who had to type out our entire disclosure statement (which was a full page and a half long, single-spaced). But we got through the transfer and the disclosure, and I was able to have a nice, brief little, “Thanks, I’ve never done one of those before!” chats with the relayer once the customer had disconnected on his end. I agree, it was really cool, and fun to do!

    10. Amethyst*

      Thank you! I’ve been on the other side of that (needing to use your service) and it’s always the most upsetting thing when they hang up!

      What commenters don’t seem to understand is that the spiel/script OP is talking about is the one mandated by her employer. They can’t just skip over it just to bypass sounding like a spam/scam call, unless their deaf caller says to do so.

      For those who don’t know what the script is, it’s something like “This is Sorenson Video Relay Service Operator number 714 with a call from a deaf user. Are you available to take their call?” OR if this is old school TTY relay: “[STATE] relay operator 714M/F with a call from a deaf user for PERSON. Are they available to take their call?”

      OP is just saying to slow down a minute and give them the same courtesy you give verbal people that deaf/nonverbal people deserve.

      1. Interpreter*

        Amethyst, thank you. I never really talk about my job with other people for confidentiality reasons, but also just because so many people don’t get it and respond in demeaning ways, or require explaining that deaf/hard of hearing people…. have rights? Should be treated equally? I thought AAM would be a different audience than the norm but I regret posting this now.

        Thank you for weighing in on the experience from the caller perspective, I appreciate you! Have a wonderful weekend.

        1. Doug*

          There have been a lot of really good suggestions for not sounding like a sales recording at the beginning of the call. Are they not usable?

          1. Interpreter*

            I specifically did not ask for suggestions. I have plenty of techniques that work most of the time, and most of the suggestions given violate federal regulations and can get me and my company into serious trouble.

            1. Despachito*

              If I understand it well:

              1) you have a specific script you must use, otherwise you expose yourself/your company to legal trouble
              2) the wording of the script makes you sound like a spam caller and people hang up on you
              3) yet you cannot change it to something more humane because of 1)

              In such a case, I am afraid you are stuck because there are a lot of people who never heard of this kind of interpreting, and unless you know exactly what it is, it probably sounds very strange. I know you tried to change this here by telling us about it, but I am afraid we are pretty small audience.

              Would it be possible for you to push back at whatever official places you have to be allowed to change the wording to convey at the very beginning of your call and still in usual mode that this call may sound unusual and that is because you are interpreting for a deaf person?

              Or would it be possible to call twice? Once to inform the receiving party that you are going to interpret for a deaf person, that it may sound funny but please be patient, and then a second call with the entire prescribed spiel?

          2. Amethyst*

            They’re not. As much as they would love to implement them, there’s a series of ethics & moral codes that interpreters absolutely must follow or else they can lose their certification/license/job & get their employer into serious trouble because they didn’t follow said ethics code. This is basically the equivalent of HIPAA in the medical scene. You don’t mess with the ethics.

            1. pancakes*

              Of course, but if they aren’t serving the community well, it’s not inappropriate for people who work with those ethical codes and regulations to start talking about revising them. These things aren’t etched in stone and shouldn’t be. New technologies, new business practices, and the new consumer habits that come with them (hanging up on telemarketers, for example) require new responses at times.

              1. Amethyst*

                True, but it starts at the very top. People like OP and her boss and her company can’t change anything until the regulations change, and that’s a difficult thing considering how we’ve been treated historically*. People just don’t see the deaf subgroup in our population as important enough to put on the docket. These are really good points everyone’s making but unless it starts at the federal level, OP’s hands are literally tied, hence why they did their PSA post. This is basically the only thing they are able to do. If you want to see this change, you can join us in pressuring the government to make the changes we need.

                *A very minor example: Technology has gone absolutely crazy in the audio field. However, hearing aids have consistently been at least 20 years behind what’s currently available to the general population. Granted, they’re trying to close this gap now, but we are still sorely behind the times. I’m not trying to derail the thread, just to provide another perspective. To see people chime in with things that are easy *in theory* and then shutting us down with “Well, just change the script!” …it’s not helpful. Or it’s naïvely/ignorantly helpful. It’s exhausting.

                But seriously, the best change that can happen for all of you saying the script needs to change is to write to your representatives and educate yourselves. There’s only so much emotional labor we’re willing to do for you guys, and the onus shouldn’t simply be left on us to do so, as it’s historically been expected of us.

                1. pancakes*

                  Of course they can’t change things without authorization or guidance to that effect, but I don’t agree that change with regard to this type of thing does strictly have to start at the top. Speaking up doesn’t have to mean stepping out of line. In many instances the people who are doing the work at issue on a daily basis are in the best position to observe weak spots. Speaking up about those weak spots in a thoughtful way and with the support of as many coworkers as possible isn’t impertinent or something, it’s observing a need and making a case for addressing it.

                  I’m not sure I follow as to why you seem to think representatives are particularly involved in drafting these scripts, to the point of them being the people best-positioned to take the lead on updating them. Maybe I’m missing something, but my understanding is that there are regulatory standards, and then there are the particular scripts used by various orgs and vendors.

                  “There’s only so much emotional labor we’re willing to do for you guys” – I’m not sure what guys I am in your view, so I’m not sure what my take-away is meant to be in terms of the education I’m meant to seek out. When online discussion seems enervating, I think it’s important to remember it isn’t mandatory.

        2. starfox*

          So many of these comments are incredibly ignorant…. I expect better from AAM and I am unpleasantly surprised. People seem so shocked that you can’t just ignore your company protocol and announce the client’s personal health/disability information over the phone.

          1. pancakes*

            How many people suggested that? The suggestions I’ve seen have to been to announce an interpreter is calling and that there will be a brief, necessary script before the caller can be connected.

            I am also a bit confused by your comment, because Amethyst said the scripts often say something such as, “This is Sorenson Video Relay Service Operator number 714 with a call from a deaf user. Are you available to take their call?” What you’re saying seems to be that announcing a call from a deaf user, for example, would be a violation of company protocol, because it announces personal disability info.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Well, that’s entirely different than OP’s comment that “It’s also up to the caller if they want to announce the interpreter after the fact; some want the interpreter to deal with it since it’s so frustrating, others want to explain themselves, but it’s never the interpreter’s decision. Autonomy and agency is a fundamental part of the work I do.”

        That made it sound like the script tries to conceal the presence of the interpreter, or doesn’t mention the nature of the service for a long time. That’s certainly what I was responding to. The sample you offered here of saying right away “this is a relay” is exactly what most commenters in this thread were saying they needed to know.

        If people are hanging up before you get through four or five words, of course that is frustrating and uncalled for. I think most of this thread is at cross-purposes based on a misunderstanding.

        1. Amethyst*

          It is exactly that for your last paragraph. My relay interpreters have only ever gotten as far as “Sorenson Video Re–” before they’re hung up on. Some of it is just ignorance at best, ableism at worst. People just really don’t stop to *think* that, oh yeah, deaf people really do need to make their own appointments with their doctor, or make a call to a lawyer, or call their kid’s school to let them know of an absence, or any of the million little ways we take phones for granted. It really pisses a lot of people off.

          If it swings into ableism, I’ve gotten told that I should “just use the phone” to call. Like… What part of being deaf as in “not able to hear” do you not understand? Or worse: you do understand, but you’re just being an asshippo because you don’t want to deal with a third party (the interpreter) working for us both? I shouldn’t have to be forced to drive down to Place X because I keep getting hung up on to yell at the person answering the phones so I can make an appointment. (& yes, this has happened too many times to count & it is *exhausting* for every single deaf person to have to deal with.) So… I’m not attacking you, I’m just venting because OP here has raised an EXCELLENT PSA.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. We did not see the script so there were no reference points. The script explains what is going on.

          Decades ago someone told me about relay calls. This is the only time it was ever mentioned to me. I am not surprised that people never heard of a relay call. I remember thinking I was pretty lucky at that time that someone even bothered to explain it. (late 70s).

          I think it would be informative to talk about a relay call and what to expect. I have never gotten one in all my years working and it was only mentioned to me once years ago.

          OP, can you report places that refuse to take your call and let your management handle that?

      3. Siege*

        You’re assuming that those of us who get lots of spam calls give verbal people any courtesy either. I have never gotten a relay call (in my role email makes most sense anyway) but if I have to answer the phone to an unfamiliar number, you have about three seconds to indicate we have legitimate business together. The number of spam calls vastly outweighs the number of relay calls and make it worthwhile to investigate ways to change how relay calls are presented.

        1. Carrots*

          I think the frustrating thing is that we are placing the onus on the disabled community to change, rather than on the able community to accommodate. What if we made it *our* problem that we’re not catching the deaf relay calls, rather than their problem with the script?

          1. Despachito*

            Before reading this comment, I did not know what a “relay call” is, I have never come across one.

            You say we are placing the onus on the disabled community, but I think we are often in a situation “we do not know what we do not know”, and if I never heard of something and have no idea about it, it might help if you explain to me what it is, how it may be different from other similar experiences and how you want me to handle it.

            This is exactly what OP did here, bud it needs to be done either on much larger scale nation-wide or in each particular phone call for the caller to understand.

          2. Attractive Nuisance*

            I don’t think anyone is putting the onus on the disabled community to change. I think they’re putting the onus on relay services to provide a functional service to their users. Realistically, the relay services are the only ones who have the power to make changes here, and they are the ones who have the most responsibility to ensure a successful call. If this is such a widespread problem, relay services should change their script. Or- since they presumably have data about what businesses they’re calling and how successful the calls are- they should educate receptionists and business owners about how to accept relay calls. Yes, it sucks that receptionists are not catching the relay calls, but it seems weird to blame them for not solving a problem they don’t know about. The relay service knows about the problem, exists for the sole purpose of solving the problem, and is not solving the problem.

            1. pancakes*

              Yes, exactly.

              It’s frustrating, too, that people are speaking as if the only options are “relay service workers should make rogue changes to their script to fix this” (obviously unacceptable) and “let’s try to tell the general public they shouldn’t be quick to hang up on calls that sound scripted” (obviously unrealistic).

        2. un-pleased*

          Just a note: Deaf people are verbal because they use language. You are talking about the distinction between oral versus signed language speakers, not verbal vs. non-verbal.

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I used to get relay calls occasionally at work, and the first thing the person said was “This is a relay call from John Doe” then they’d do a quick explanation of how it worked and when I should answer. I had one guy call pretty often over several years, and when I went on vacation, I’d let whoever was covering public service in my place know about him. The relay person ALWAYS identified herself as such immediately; it would have been unprofessional for her not to.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. “Relay call” in and of itself doesn’t say anything about anyone’s medical status. I grant you that relay calls are probably most often used by the Deaf, or immigrants who need an interpreter. But it could also be someone who has a severe stutter, to the point that they can’t make themselves understood by phone.

        Similarly, my mom makes all the medical appointments my dad needs, because his phone anxiety has become so severe that he’s no longer accepting phone calls from anyone (not even me or my sister).

    12. Idea*

      Start with something like “I’m calling on behalf of a customer” or whatever will identify you as being legitimate. As long as people are inundated with calls from spammers, you need to immediately give them a reason not to hang up. Anything that sounds like a script will get you hung up on unless you explain why they should stay on the line.

  7. Audrey Puffins*

    Here’s a vaguely low-key one. I’m leaving my job. I want to up sticks and move across the country, so I’ve agreed to stay in post (where I am currently the second-longest standing staff member) until the end of October and don’t plan to extend my contract beyond that. My main priority at the moment is keeping the work flowing while ensuring a good solid foundation is built so that when I leave, the work will continue to flow. Except every now and then, senior leadership like to merrily announce that there is some ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL CPD work that needs to be done, and I MUST be a part of it. Is it worth pushing back against CPD, given that we all know I’m leaving and there are SO MANY better uses of my time than sitting through webinars on Excel just so I can tick a box saying that I have?

    (There’s a possibility I might not be able to make the move when I intend to, at which point I’m not opposed to asking if they have the capacity for me to stay another year, and if that happens then I will concede that I should probably do all the CPD and performance review stuff, but for now it just feels really pointless and annoying.)

    1. Purple Cat*

      I’m not sure what CPD stands for, but it seems like it’s “professional development” stuff? If you think it might be useful for your ongoing career, then attend and get whatever YOU want out of it. If you think it’s going to be totally useless post September then absolutely raise it with your manager. As you laid it out here, “CPD takes my time away from doing Y. Given that I’m leaving, is this where you want me to spend my time”. And live with whatever answer they give you.

      1. Bagpuss*

        In my industry its Continuing Professional Development – until recently we used to have to complete a specifc number of hours per year to remin licenced, so I guess it depends a bit on whether it’s actually a requirement for internal or exernal compliance, or not.

        If nt, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mentioning that you feel that given your planned departure you feel that your time would be better spent on keeping the work flowing.
        If you don’t work directly with senior mangement they may have not relaised you are leaving or what you’re trying to get done before you go – could your mamanger intervene n your behalf?

    2. Purple Cat*

      Forgot to add – it *might* also be an issue of you having to complete the training so they can hit completion benchmarks they want or are required to hit.

    3. Doctors Whom*

      Is the item related to a compliance activity necessary for an audit or other contract? If so, then I’d quietly do as asked, on time, so that you don’t get invited to leave rather than be a mark against them in a compliance process.

      If it’s not, I guess I don’t see the point in pushing back if your plans are not solidified. If you are still going to need this job, then becoming a remedial case for the training could create relationship issues for you with colleagues or with managers. You’d know best about that. But if you are in a position where you need to ask if they can keep you on, do you really want to potentially make it more difficult by virtue of not wanting to take a class?

      Performance review stuff … If you think there is an inkling you may need to ask to stay, I don’t understand why you would push back on performance management. I’d want to keep those relationships as positive as possible.

      I would, however, be sure that you and your manager are in sync about your priorities on an ongoing basis and if the training conflicts with one of those priorities, just speak up and give the manager the information they need to make a decision.

  8. Sigh*

    I feel like a dork talking about this. I started taking walks during lunch at a nearby park that most in my company frequent. I use this time to listen to music. I HATE earbuds. They never stay in my ears, I always loose them. They hurt my ears from not fitting properly. Trust me I’ve tried them. I usually bring headphones on my walk. I feel like I stick out with a sore thumb when running into coworkers. I know I’m the craziness of the world this is the silliest of “work issues”. Anyone else have this trivial problem?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Has anyone said anything negative to you? I seriously doubt anyone cares about seeing you walking in a park wearing headphones, that’s a really normal thing to do. If you pass a co-worker on your walk, smile briefly and wave and keep going. Remember they’re also there to get out of the office.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I don’t understand what problem you have. You imagine that other people notice you wearing headphones and… what? Like, literally talk back to that voice in your head telling you there is anything wrong with your choice. The only problem you had was pain from earbuds and you solved it. Good job!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. I assume that people who are wearing over-ear headphones:
        a) Find that more comfortable (this is me), or
        b) Are audiophiles and these are better designed for whatever they listen to, or
        c) This was the pair they could find where the puppy hadn’t chewed up the cord yet

        I agree with everyone who thinks no one is judging you, and if they register the headphone style at all they are not thinking anything derogatory.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yea I sit in the office with a mask on and over the ear headphones and nobody says anything because offices are loud and germy

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      What about the runner style headphones that go over your ear but loop around the back of your head? They’re a little more subtle than the big over ear style.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Shokz. Own a pair, they’re phenomenal for permitting me to hear the world while jamming out to my favorite music or podcast.

      2. TradeMark*

        Like the bone conduction headphones that runners wear so they can still hear people? Those might be a good choice if you are worried about being snuck up on!

        1. OneTwoThree*

          I was coming to suggest something similar. I have a pair. I assume they would fit most of Sigh’s desires without being as noticeable.

          At the same time, I wouldn’t worry too much about over the ear head phones.

    4. londonedit*

      Do you mean you feel embarrassed when people see you wearing headphones instead of earbuds? I’m pretty much 100% certain that none of your colleagues would a) find it odd that someone would be wearing headphones on a lunchtime walk, or b) think anything of it at all, let alone that you stick out like a sore thumb. It’s a perfectly normal thing to do!

      I also have the same problem with earbuds, and for running I switched to bone-conducting headphones (mine are Aftershokz). They’re great because you can hear what’s going on around you as well as what you’re listening to, and if you’re currently wearing big over-the-ear headphones then they definitely look less obtrusive (if you have hair that covers your ears, it’d cover the headphones too as they go around the back of your head and over your ears, with little connectors that sit on the bone just in front of your ear).

    5. Sunflower*

      I live in an urban area and tons of people wear headphones that go over your head/not earbud- mostly because they are usually noise cancelling. Not sure what type you have but it’s very common here to wear those instead of ear buds!

    6. CatCat*

      Wearing headphones seems like a normal thing. Why do you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb? What are you worried about your coworkers thinking?

    7. jane's nemesis*

      I don’t think headphones even rate a second glance, tbh! I see lots of people wearing them in the college towns I have frequented for work.

    8. CTT*

      As someone who still wears wired earbuds, I totally get the compulsion that it feels like everyone is noticing you wearing something different! I sometimes get weirdly self-conscious about it, but odds are no one cares (and actually, real headphones can sometimes read as “I am very into music and the fidelity of sound quality is best with headphones,” which could be a plus if someone is thinking about it!)

    9. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      My husband hates earbuds as well and wears fairly large Beats knockoff headphones when he walks/runs. I’ve never thought that anyone would find it strange. Do you get funny looks or something?

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      I think it would be one thing if you were walking around jamming with an 80s style Boombox on your shoulder, but I doubt anyone will even notice the headphones!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I don’t actually support playing anything out loud in this day and age, but OMG, playing my podcasts out of a boombox on my shoulder would be HILARIOUS.

    11. anonymous73*

      I can’t wear earbuds either. I’ve bought the kind that wrap around each individual ear but they’re not comfortable either. I told my husband I’m considering buying those big headphones. Wear what’s comfortable and do yourself a favor…stop worrying about what others think about you. I highly doubt they care.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        As Alexis Rose once said, “Other people aren’t thinking of you they way that you’re thinking of you.”

    12. Gracely*

      I tend to mostly use headphones instead of earbuds for this exact reason. Every normal earbud I buy hurts/doesn’t fit/falls out. Even if it has the “small” adaptor thing. This has been a problem for me even with wired earbuds.


      I’ve found that for times when I really do want earbuds, buying kid/child size earbuds works. I got a pair that come in an adorable kitty-shaped storage/charging container (the earbuds themselves are just plain black), and they actually fit my tiny ears. So if you ever do want to get a pair of earbuds, try buying child-sized.

      If you just don’t want to wear earbuds though, I promise, no one’s going to care that you wear headphones. Most people just assume I’m wearing them because they cancel noise better–and I have never had anyone say anything remotely negative (if anything, I get positive feedback because unlike with earbuds, people can tell the reason I’m not reacting to them immediately is because I can’t hear them).

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

      I was just in the park the other day and there was someone wearing those big head phones. It’s not a thing. I Promise you that no one is paying much attention except that it is much more noticeable as in “Oh looks like Jane is busy listening to something. I won’t go ask her how her weekend was right now.

    14. Not Really A Waitress*

      I also hate ear buds. Even ones on cords

      First they feel weird to me and begin to hurt after a while
      Second, I would probably lose the wireless ones in an hour.
      Third, wireless air pods give me serious Doctor Who vibes.

      I used wireless over the ear headphones at work and who cares. My comfort is most important

    15. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Have you considered looking into bone conducting headphones? They’re much smaller and sleeker than headphones and don’t fit in the ear like earbuds do. I think you’d be fine continuing on with headphones, but if they make you really uncomfortable then bone conducting might be a fit.

      1. Mother of Corgis*

        Seconding this! I love my conduction headphones because I can still hear what’s going on around me. Earbuds never stay in my ears, and regular headphones feel too bulky to me.

    16. Rara+Avis*

      My 14 yo likes to hassle me about using headphones rather than earbuds and I point out that they would not have earbuds if I preferred them, since they got theirs free through my wellness points, and I would have taken them if I didn’t have the same issues as you do with earbuds. But my kid also likes to point out that eventually headphones will not be an option (they believe phones will be made without any kind of jack); I’m dreading that day.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My phone doesn’t have an audio jack. I’m wearing big over-ear wireless headphones right now. They exist already.

    17. Anonymous Koala*

      They make these soft headband/sweatbands with headphones built right into them. Maybe those will work if you don’t want over the ear ones? They just look like a normal headband from the outside.

    18. mreasy*

      Anyone who sees you wearing over the ear headphones literally just think “this person is wearing headphones,” nothing more!

    19. WheresMyPen*

      I wear headphones as I have a daith piercing so they don’t fit, and I also have really small ears that lots of earbuds don’t stay in (no idea how people can wear AirPods without them falling out!). My headphones make me look like a Cyberman but I don’t really care, it’s clear what they’re for and to me they’re not a fashion accessory. I wouldn’t worry about it, especially since you’re not wearing them in the office (though even if you were I don’t think anyone would care).

    20. Jora Malli*

      I think this is a case of “nobody else is thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you.” If it were me and I was taking a walk on my break and saw you walk past with your over-ear headphones, I’d most likely think “Oh, there’s Sam from accounting,” and I’d give you a nod or a half-wave or something and feel really silly about why I did the nod instead of the wave or vice versa and it would never even occur to me to have an opinion about your headphones.

    21. cat socks*

      Ear buds don’t work for me either. I would not think twice about seeing a coworker with headphones.

    22. *daha**

      Add one of those beer-can holder hats that has a drinking tube going from the can to your mouth. Nobody will notice the old-school headphones underneath.

    23. Be Gneiss*

      I don’t think it’s weird at all. I also have issues with earbuds. Have you tried open-ear bone conduction headphones? They are less conspicuous than the over-the-ear kind – as it sounds like that is what you’re feeling weird about headphones – and they are great from a safety perspective because you can still hear your surroundings. And if you want to block out the outside noise, soft foam earplugs make them sound better than most earbuds. I absolutely love mine.

    24. LittleMarshmallow*

      As everyone else has said, I can honestly almost guarantee that no one cares even if they notice at all. I know I wouldn’t. I literally couldn’t care less what my coworkers do or wear outside of the office. I hope all the comments that it doesn’t matter help you feel better about it! You do you and rock those headphones.

    25. Person from the Resume*

      I hate earbuds. I have the exact same problem as you. For Christmas I got myself some bone conducting headphones w/ Bluetooth . Love them. They are a single piece so they wrap over my ears to stay and around the back of my head. They’re mint green so they stand out, but I love them. They stay in place (my biggest concern) but since they don’t go in my ears I sometimes wear them to bike when I never used to wear headphones or earbuds while biking because it’s dangerous to block outside sounds. Since they don’t block outside sounds I feel safe riding with them and can usually hear if not incredibly noisy.

      I feel smart when using them actually because I solved the really annoying problem of ear buds.

    26. Books and Cooks*

      I hate earbuds, too! They hurt or they fall out.

      I didn’t know how I would feel about over-the-ear headphones, either, so I went to Best Buy and bought the cheapest pair of bluetooth headphones I could find. Like, one thin silver bar over the head and two foam ear pieces, very simple and light. Turns out I love them. (The only problem is they don’t last forever; I’ve had to replace them three or four times in the four years or so since I bought the first pair…but I literally wear them at least three or four hours a day, every single day, too. And at $20, that’s not breaking the bank–even for me/us, on a tight budget.) They’re made by a company called “JLab,” and they were like $10; JLab also makes a “Studio” headphone which is a bit bigger, is noise-canceling, and made of leather, for $20, and those I bought at Walmart.

      I don’t wear them out much, so I don’t know how you’ll feel about them, but the non-leather ones are quite unobtrusive, and even the leather ones are light enough that they don’t get uncomfortable even though I wear them pretty much constantly around the house when cooking/cleaning/working.

      Since getting them I’ve noticed people wearing over-the-ears in all kinds of places. I think there are a LOT more of us who dislike earbuds for whatever reason than you might think! (I actually don’t know anyone who *likes* them, now that I think of it.) And like I said, if you just want to give some a try, head for Best Buy or Walmart; if you decide you can’t get past feeling goofy with over-the-ears, at least you won’t have wasted a lot of money trying them out. (And really, I’ve had very good luck with that brand; the sound quality is really good. They connect to my Kindle, too, and use the same cord to charge with.) I don’t even blink when I see someone wearing headphones, and I don’t think any of your co-workers would, either.

    27. Mac*

      A) I also have weird-shaped earholes that normal earbuds just leap out of! I’ve had great luck with the offset “ergofit” kind, though, where the squishy part attaches to an oval-shaped base instead of circular. It deforms the squishy in-ear part into a flattened shape that just wedges into my ear and stays put. Added bonus, they’re pretty cheap and the sound quality is decent.

      B) Yes, maybe you stand out, but lean into it and buy a cute pair, maybe with some cat ears or glitter or whatever feels like it best suits your fashion sense.

      C) Any coworkers who do Mean Girl(TM) at you about wearing headphones are giving you the gift of revealing to you how utterly, utterly frivolous and devoid of basic human friendliness they are.

  9. David S*

    I had an extremely embarrassing incident at work. I was demonstrating how Artificial Intelligence can be used in technical writing but that the technology isn’t quite there yet. I showed how I type in a sentence such as “To open File explorer, press Window-E” and then let the A.I. continue the instructions. The first time it was innocuous. something like “This will show a list of files.” The second time, though, it spit out an extremely pornographic sentence. I said “oh my god” and quickly removed it from the screen. No one said anything but I’m sure they saw it. It turns out that a lot of A.I. that learns is “taught” by some bad actors who have fun training it to respond as it did to me. It’s been two days and no one who saw this has mentioned it. Should I just keep pretending it never happened or should I officially apologize?

    1. Tuesday*

      Don’t apologize! This was not your fault and is a perfect illustration of why the technology is not 100% there yet. Ideally in the moment you could have explained that some people teach AI to respond that way as a prank, but it was the AI that spit out the sentence, not you.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree on the perfect illustration.

        It needn’t have been a bad actor–if you turn the AI loose to study what people are typing and haven’t taught it “this is porn; porn is bad” it can conclude that the internet has tons of examples of this because they are good examples.

        If you wanted to illustrate how the technical manual should not be composed by an A.I., this did the job.

        (Saying “oh god” and removing it was the right reaction. But you don’t need to go further.)

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

      Just forget about it and pretend it never happened. It’s not like you wrote the porno or anything. If anything it shows how AI is not perfect, which is what you were going for!

    3. pancakes*

      I would think that those of you working with this kind of tech need to grapple with how to handle it when that happens? I mean, this seems like a bigger problem than one sentence. If someone was trying to sell me on tech that can’t do what it’s meant to do because it needs more work, I would be quite unimpressed if they ignored obvious flaws. I don’t know if your demonstration was meant to be for sales purposes or something else, but ignoring obvious problems does not seem like a good approach to me. I don’t think you need to apologize on a sentence-by-sentence basis but I would hope you wouldn’t just expect people to ignore the obvious questions this raises about whether the tech is fit for purpose.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think you missed the context that this was supposed to be a demonstration of the fact that AI is NOT ready to be used for technical writing. The fact that it is not fit for purpose was the entire point.

        1. pancakes*

          Why ignore it there either?

          Yes, I was and am a bit confused by the phrasing that “[it] can be used in technical writing but that the technology isn’t quite there yet.” It doesn’t seem to me that it can be used much in technical writing. I would think the limited extent to which it can be used and the reasons why it can’t are worthy of discussion in a presentation on that topic.

    4. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I feel like you demonstrated exactly what your point was though – the tech exists, but it’s not there yet.

    5. Sundial*

      It sounds like your presentation did exactly what it was supposed to: showed that the tech isn’t ready. I wouldn’t apologize, you proved your point. Rehashing is going to make you look frantic, sloppy, and unprepared. Just act confident that your goal was achieved, people will follow your lead.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      For what it’s worth, Microsoft (I think?) had to remove their AI chat bot from twitter because of course people taught it to say only terrible things.

      1. David S*

        Yes, I had actually explained that at a presentation a week before. For those asking, I’m NOT trying to sell this technology–I HATE this technology and especially how easy it is to hijack and “teach” is terrible things.

        1. pancakes*

          With that context I think this could be a great teachable moment if it happens again. Definitely you’d want to get it off the screen as quickly as possible, as you did, and I think you could use a brief apology as a segue to explain why it happens. Something along the lines of, “I’m sorry about that; we’ve sometimes had similar results in the past because the AI is [pulling that text from . . .].”

          I don’t think you need to worry about not having apologized for this past instance. Getting it off the screen right away is the most important thing, and you did that.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This happened to a friend of mine who created one. It ended up spouting very offensive tweets and had to be taken down.

    7. Migraine Month*

      I think saying “oh my god” and quickly closing the window conveyed to your audience that it was an accident and it doesn’t need to be addressed further. Like most of the embarrassing Zoom call incidents, I were in that audience I would just be thanking my lucky stars that it wasn’t me (this time).

    8. LittleMarshmallow*

      Well… I work in a field where it’s common to have to discuss nipples (type of pipe fitting). I rarely keep a straight face so if I saw your naughty sentence I personally would let my inner 12-year old have a giggle and move on. Doesn’t seem worth apologizing to me especially if no one has said anything.

    9. Green Goose*

      I can commiserate:
      I used to teach business English in South Korea to adult students. 1:1 classes and it was me and a student in a room with a computer. A lot of classes we would just practice conversational English and things like, “what did you do this weekend?” Would come up. I was in a class around St. Patrick’s Day and I said I would be going to an Irish pub to celebrate and my student asked what St. Patrick’s Day was and I decided to do a Google search of it while I was explaining it…
      The first page of images were so inappropriate, including a topless woman wearing beer taps as pasties. I was so embarrassed and quickly closed out the page and tried to explain that was NOT what I was planning.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      If this is a presentation that you’re doing regularly, which it sounds like it is, perhaps don’t do the demo live in the future? Pre-record an instance where the AI does well, and also an instance where it goes clearly wrong but not in an offensive way. Say you’re not doing it live because X% of the time it spits out something that would get a human fired on the spot. Which is true.

  10. Colette*

    So on Tuesday my employer – who spent the first 2 years of the pandemic saying that they weren’t going to make people come back to the office – announced that, effective immediately, everyone has to be in two days a week. There is no business reason for it – my division can truly do our jobs from home – and we are in a new wave of the pandemic.

    I have an interview lined up for next week.

    1. Sigh*

      You should go for what works best for you! Sorry your company is going back on what they promised

    2. Generic Name*

      Geez. I’m sure there will be lots of shocked Pikachu faces when lots of folks find other jobs.

    3. Migraine Month*

      I’m sorry, that really sucks. Pulling the rug out from under their employees isn’t fair; I’d be looking for a new job too.

      In contrast, my job insisted for 2 years that we were going to have to go back to the office and recently decided to embrace telework wherever possible (in part to make recruiting easier). My grandboss apologized to everyone because he knew many of us made housing choices based on staying close to work when it would be far less expensive to live elsewhere.

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      Ugh. The pandemic is not over! In fact, LA county is considering reinstating their mask mandate because of rising cases, hospital overload and deaths!

      RTO when Omicron BAS.4 and BA.5 are rampaging through the population in spite of vaccination is ludicrous. ( Omicron BAS.4 and BA.5 are as contagious as measles.) People are getting it if they are wearing anything but N95s, or if they take their mask off at all indoors.

      I feel very sorry for people having to go in to workplaces, especially if the work can be done remotely. Going to an office when the work can be done remotely is such a needless risk that it makes me want to scream.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Our county in the PNW just went back into the red zone and my org’s employees are back to max telework (we had been 1-2 days in office per month, more if desired). The mask mandate for our main building is back on too.

        It’s the “effective immediately” that seems like a real issue, followed closely by no business reason for it. It’s really hard to plan childcare, pet care, elder care, or whatever other support is needed for 3 days/week at the drop of a hat. And it’s galling to be forced to do that when there’s zero benefit to the work and a net loss to you of the money and time cost of commuting.

        I hope the interview goes well!

  11. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Anyone dealing with chronic pain at work who can just empathize with me today?

    I have vacation starting the end of next week, I’m low on sick time. I almost didn’t come to work today – luckily my husband was able to drive me in. But I’m barely getting work done I’m so distracted and tired and in pain. I’m always the one telling people to take their sick time and take care of themselves but this just happens so often it feels impossible to do that.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You could look into intermittent FMLA. It’s unpaid but it would protect your time off.

    2. Cassandra*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this… I hope you’re able to relax during your vacation.

      Does your company/agency allow sick leave donations?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        They allow us to borrow on our time. Honestly I don’t think anyone would look askance if I went into the red on my time – I work hard, I do a lot for the organization. I think some of it is just guilt. And some of it is not wanting to be read as fragile or disabled. I am those things but yknow…ego.

        1. A A*

          Most people have been or will be fragile, disabled, or both at some point. It’s not shameful. Others will benefit by your example.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I know. You’re right. It’s a mental block. I did leave early and post why in Teams.

    3. Gracely*

      That sucks. I hope you can get through your day and relax some over the weekend. Can you take some extra breaks or anything to help mitigate the pain while you’re there? If not, that sucks and I’m sorry.

    4. Bagpuss*

      *raises hand*
      Chronic pain sucks.
      Sending sympathy and hope that you are able to rest over the weekend .

    5. Antilla the Hon*

      I’m really sorry you’re dealing with chronic pain (fellow sufferer here). Having that constant “background noise” is so distracting and anxiety producing! I don’t have any PTO tips but have something that info to “distract me from the distraction of the pain.” I put Biofreeze on my areas of pain and the back of my neck. For some reason that bit of warmth promotes a little bit of relaxation and distracts me in a different positive relaxing way. It doesn’t take the pain away but helps me refocus and redirect. I keep a roll on bottle of it at my desk.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I like the back of the neck tip! I have a whole bag of pain relieve creams in my backpack lol. biofreeze, icyhot, aleve gel…a topical analgesic for all occasions!

    6. Jora Malli*

      I’m right here with you. Being in pain at work is somehow so much worse than being in pain at home. I keep an ice pack and a heating pad here, but it’s just not as easy to manage it. If I took off work every time I was in pain I would never be here.

      Chronic pain solidarity, friend, and I hope you level out to a more manageable place as the day goes on.

    7. Hawk*

      Solidarity fistbump. Is there a way you can step away from your desk just to breathe for a moment? Sometimes I just go outside and sit in the sun for a couple minutes. That and arnica gel.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I am so sorry you’re having a bad day and I hope you are feeling better for your vacation. I just got back from a trip and am having a flare-up from travel conditions and being off routine. Of course, I also have tons of work to catch up on so I absolutely feel ya on this.

    9. My Useless 2 Cents*

      That sucks, don’t beat yourself up and look forward to your vacation. I get a lot of foggy brain days where concentration is just not in the cards. (Allergies, headaches, depression, and stress do not mix well)

      Some days are just not meant for in depth work and I usually save a couple of tasks that I like to see get done but aren’t urgent, don’t require a lot of thought, and I can work on at a plodding pace for those days. Perhaps you can spend the day organizing and prioritizing what needs to get done before you leave on vacation vrs. what you would like to get done, making sure things are in place to “hit the road running” on Monday when hopefully you feel better. Cleaning up and sanitizing your desk can also be a great task on days like today.

    10. Anon for this*

      I empathize. I’ve got condition that makes me more prone to injuries (EDS unite! Err I mean, hypermobility syndrome! The same thing but I was diagnosed after 2017).

      I’m afraid to use FMLA again. I’ve got a great boss in a satellite office that looks away if I move a few hours here & there. I WFH 4 days/week. I’ve had to use FMLA 2x in the last 2 years and corporate HR commented on it. No need to draw their attention IMO, the corporate office sucks despite my unit having great management. I also get top tier reviews, raises, promoted on the early side, etc. I work extra hard for that so I’m looked at valuably, instead of someone who needs special treatment as a below average worker. It shouldn’t be that way. It is.

      I’ll empathize with my own pain. I’m used to muscle spasms and certain joints getting painful. But I’ve had terrible pain in my dominant shoulder for two years after shoulder separation. Finally, I was sent to a top tier specialist who diagnosed me with a very rare injury result that’s mostly seen in people 10+ years older than me. Luckily this specialist treats pro athletes so he’s used to people have degenerative or other injuries earlier than they’re “supposed” to.

      Now I’m out of sick time (aforementioned FMLA this year). I’m accruing but my company got rid of STD. If I need the surgery the specialist thinks I might after some other conservative treatment, I just. Will use the week of vacation I’ve been hoarding, take unpaid leave, or suffer in pain for another couple years I guess.

    11. NeonDreams*

      I feel you, OP. I’m trying to work on 3 hours sleep because my innards and anxiety flared up horribly last night. Luckily I work at home, but it hasn’t been a productive day.

    12. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      I have this experience all too often due to chronic illness. I have a lot of days where I am not well, but I’m not in need of a doctor, I’m not contagious, I’m just sick. And I don’t have enough sick days to not come in when the problem is that it hurts to be upright and breathe. I can’t usually work from home either so I’m just stuck.

    13. Migraine Month*

      My username is not an exaggeration; before I switched to a better preventative medication, I had a migraine more days that not.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It sucks. Be gentle with yourself.

    14. Reluctantly Abandoning Atheisure*

      Yep. Just starting a new job where I have to go to the office twice a week and can barely get dressed. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

    15. Silverose*

      Chronic pain and chronic migraines checking in. And I’m trying to save up my sick time because I’m seriously past due for one surgery (ulnar nerve release) and have a second one I also want to get done (sterilization). Thankfully, my job is usually sedentary and low stress….except when it’s not…. I’ve accepted the need to use a cane sometimes at a much younger age than I ever thought I would need one, and my employer has had to make occasional accommodations due to my pain and mobility challenges. My direct supervisor and her supervisor have been great; other management have been….oblivious to the fact that there are disabled people on staff, and I’ve had to be proactive about advocating for myself a few times.

  12. ThatGirl*

    I’ve been at my current job about 18 months. We just closed a merger with another, slightly bigger company, although it’s starting to feel more like a takeover. I’m in marketing and our division president just dropped the news that after sales is done reorganizing, marketing is next. We just reorganized in December so … this will be fun :P The good news is there isn’t a lot of overlap between the new HQ team and my office’s (esp in my role) but I don’t want a new boss! Sigh.

  13. Lizy*

    Short question: how do you ask around to see if a department is… inept, when you’re relatively new and everyone is fully remote?

    Longer question: I’m not convinced our HR is on top of things. I think they’re just overworked and understaffed, but still. We don’t have a company directory/org chart. We have 200 employees. As far as I can tell, we don’t have any central “hey you should know this info so it’s here” folder (like for the employee handbook). We have one for my department, but not the organization at large. I’ve kinda been working on some of these docs, mainly for our department but they can easily be adjusted/amended for the company at large, and I am happy to share them, but I don’t want to look like I’m trying to do someone else’s job and I don’t want to say “I did this because they weren’t doing their job”. Thoughts?

    1. Hen in a Windstorm*

      My old company had a folder on the shared server for department “handbooks” (how to do everyone’s job). Could you frame it that way? Hey, since I completed ours is there a central place I can put it with the others? Maybe you’ll find out they do have something, or maybe not.

    2. Lynn*

      I have realized that sometimes, because I start with the conclusion in mind (“this department is inept”) I can’t figure out how to ask the question politely, but really, I’m starting with too specific of a question — you don’t have to ask “is this department inept” you could ask a general disposition question with an answer that would corroborate (or not) your initial theory that they are. You could tell someone you have had an issue with x and asked if they have ever worked with that department on something similar and if they have any advice; you could ask someone if that department is having any problems because they are slow to respond and you want to have the right mindset in working with them, etc.

      Also, in this particular example, the person who may do this may not have been assigned to do it, or may not have been asked to do it (ie the leadership may be inept but the person may not be). You aren’t necessarily pointing out a personal failure just an organization hole!

    3. Moths*

      Could you just offer them to the appropriate person in that department without framing it as something they should have done? For example, “I put together this resource for our department and thought that it might be a helpful format for other departments as well, so I wanted to share it with you in case you thought there might be a use for it.” Or something along those lines where you’re just sharing what you’ve done, without any assumptions.

  14. CTT*

    I think I handled this okay but would be interested to hear if there is an aspect I missed!

    My mom is on the board of a local political party and apparently several people are clashing with a woman who does pro bono graphic design work for them (let’s call her Abby). According to my mom, Abby comes off as very rude in Slack messages; the day I saw my mom, she told me that she had reposted something on instagram from the state party that had the wrong date for an event. Later that day, Abby took a screenshot of the repost and messaged everyone in the group Slack and said “isn’t this the wrong date?” And my mom was so upset (like, really mad! In a way that I rarely see! (which is why I did not make the “re-posting something that includes the wrong date is confusing” comment)) and was telling me that Abby acts like this with everyone and has driven the president to tears with similar comments.

    What’s interesting is that my mom actually doesn’t think Abby is intentionally being rude, but wishes that she would think before she types things and soften her language with emojis or something like “gentle reminder.” I told my mom that I would find a smiley face or “gentle reminder” either passive aggressive or just plain aggressive. We had a conversation about how hard it is to read tone in emails/IMs and ultimately you just can’t take it personally if this is just how Abby communicates with everyone. BUT, I wanted to make sure there isn’t some other actionable advice I can give her? It doesn’t sound like Abby does public-facing work where she might be offending a bunch of people who would read her messages the way my mom and the other board members do, which is the only reason I think it could be brought up.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      From what you’ve said here your mom sounds weirdly sensitive or does not understand tone in text, but if Abby is truly clashing with a lot of people your mom might just be at a BEC stage with Abby. But I don’t think the slack messages are the problem. The wrong date IS confusing, and your advice is spot on about how a lot of people would read her suggestions as aggressive.

      The only other thing I might have added is that this woman is doing free work and people owe her a lot of grace for that, but otherwise…sometimes personalities clash and you have to deal.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am so confused. That Slack message doesn’t sound rude to me at all– it was the wrong date! Isn’t it more important to call attention to that than to hem and haw or ignore it? If my mother came to me with that, my response would probably be to tell her she’s completely overreacting and yes, it was the wrong date, go change it. (I don’t have a lot of patience for my mother in similar circumstances, I admit.)

      Just judging by this single example, Abby sounds straightforward, not mean.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Well, OP’s mom just shared a post that was originally made by the state party. I think it’s generally more polite, when in Abby’s position, to make it very clear that I know it’s not “your” mistake, but rather the mistake of whoever created the post.

        Also, taking a screenshot of an Instagram post and posting it on Slack seems a little odd to me. Why not post to Slack and say “Hey, everyone, I just saw an Instagram post from the state party that said Event X was on August 13. Isn’t it the 14th?”

        (Which also made me realize that specifically naming the dates in question is probably better than just saying “the wrong date” and making the other person repeat the work you’ve already done.)

        That said, it’s also weird that OP’s mom is having an emotional reaction to this. I’d be thinking “dude, all I did was hit the share button…take it up with the state party.”

    3. Purple Cat*

      Oof, it sounds like your mom needs to get with the times. Your Mom posted something that was wrong, Abby pointed it out, and your mom is mad that Abby didn’t soften her language? Send your mom the pages and pages of posts where Alison stresses that softening the message often loses the message.

      1. anonymous73*

        I don’t even know how you WOULD soften the message. Abby asked if it was wrong. She wasn’t accusatory, she was asking a question to make sure SHE didn’t misunderstand something. Mama needs to get a grip.

        1. Siege*

          The softening was in “isn’t this the wrong date?” rather than in saying “this date is wrong.” My boss does not like it when I assert correct things, so I turn a lot of stupid sentences into questions.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            IOTW, your boss is expecting US female voice corrections – questions instead of statements, no assertions, just hesitant deference. Do they expect the same from everyone, of any gender, or just you and people with your same apparent gender?

    4. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see how this is rude? I expected you to add some other text from Abby. She asked a straightforward factual question, so what part was rude? Why couldn’t your mom just reply, “Wow, yes, thanks for catching that!” It sounds like your mom is making it emotionally charged because she feels… caught? ashamed? embarrassed? and is taking it out on Abby.

      FYI, I think phrasing it as a question when Abby knows that it is wrong *is* softening it. She didn’t flatly state “This is the wrong date.” Or “I can’t believe you used the wrong date, you moron!”

    5. londonedit*

      I guess maybe your mom thought that Abby was somehow calling her out or shaming her for her mistake by screenshotting her post and reposting it in the group Slack for everyone to see? Rather than sending her a private message to say ‘Hey, I saw you posted that thing – just wanted to check, does it have the right date on it? I thought it was the 15th?’

      I can understand that…but I also don’t think it was a horribly awful thing for Abby to do, so I’m guessing it was just the last straw for your mom. I definitely agree that she shouldn’t have taken it personally, but maybe it could be worth a conversation where your mom says ‘Hey, Abby – I felt really embarrassed when you called out that Instagram post I made in front of the whole group. I realise the date was wrong, but in future could you just drop me a private message if you notice something like that?’

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Yeah, because how does Abby know that others in the group didn’t forward the original message around? I think she was right to address the entire group so that everyone sees the issue right away.

        1. londonedit*

          That’s a good point. I guess in an ideal world she’d have shared the post and said ‘Hey, can I double-check that this is the right date? I thought it was the 15th? We probably shouldn’t repost this if the date is wrong’ rather than just ‘Isn’t this the wrong date??’ which I get would definitely sound more accusatory. But I completely understand why she would have shared the post, and instant messaging is, well, instant and you don’t always have time to craft an appropriately polite message when you’re just after a quick sense check.

    6. Wisteria*

      You could suggest to your mom that she research social pragmatic communication, which is a field that examines how and why people communicate, including what the goal is. Abby sounds like her social pragmatic communication style is the conveyance of information. Your mom sounds like her social pragmatic communication style includes validation and reassurance. Understanding that different people have different goals in their communication (information vs. validation) might help your mom view Abby differently and be more accepting of her communication style.

      Also, it sounds like your mom feels called out by the share over slack and is embarrassed that her mistake was pointed out to multiple people. Instead of owning her mistake and providing the requested information (the correct date), she wants to place some blame on Abby so she can justify her own feelings, and she’s looking to you for that validation. Does your mom have poor emotional regulation in general?

    7. Important Moi*

      I just want to add, I am dealing with a version of this. I’m working with a group and one person is responsible for notifying everyone else when certain information is submitted to them. This person has been late for reasons that they don’t notify others of until someone asks where is the information. Person gets very defensive and their explanations are nonsensical. The rest of the group is stumped. We were unaware of this aspect of Person’s personality (until now).

      I too could use a script. Thanks.

      1. Gracely*

        If you’re in charge of the person, I would try just saying “it’s okay; no explanation needed, we just need the information.” But that is definitely a blunt way of handling it.

        1. Important Moi*

          I am not. Also, this person is a close friend, but I have never “worked” with them before. Does this change the answer at all?

          1. anonymous73*

            Honestly if you’re close, you could have a conversation and be straight up with them. “Is there something going on? Is there anything the group can do to help?” The bottom line is that she’s not doing her job and it’s affecting the group. And getting defensive when asked an innocent question is not helpful at all. There may be personal reasons she’s letting things slip, or maybe she’s misunderstanding the job duties.

    8. BRR*

      One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever adopted was to give people the benefit of the doubt with tone in text. You lose so much when something is in text, I’ve started assuming people have good intentions and it’s saved me a lot of emotional energy. Give your mom that advice because she’s wrong.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Soften her language with emojis or something like “gentle reminder.”

      I’m pulling out this line because both of these would irritate the heck out of me.

      I think the issue is that your mom is at BEC stage with Abby. Who may be annoying, and also sometimes wrong, but in this example is in the right.

      Also–screenshots are very, very normal in my field, and I would think it is similar for graphic design. The message is “So in this image from the larger document, bottom left, isn’t that the wrong date?” It’s not “I took a photograph of your drunken shenanigans and posted it to a reddit shaming board.” The screenshot just clarifies the image we’re talking about, and provides a handy reference.

      1. Jora Malli*

        It’s also an example of how we expect women to soft pedal any criticisms they may have. If Abby were Arthur and had sent the exact same message, would people have reacted to it quite this strongly? Women are expected to gentle and soften and do their best to not hurt any feelings at all, and in a work context that’s just not helpful or realistic.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree with Falling and Jora here. I don’t see anything wrong with THIS particular message. If the date is wrong then it’s wrong. I don’t see a big deal. I get emails like this a lot- sometimes it is my mistake but many times it’s because the inquirer does not know who to ask or is concerned that emailing one person will not be enough.
          Recently I emailed 3 people on a relatively simple matter but it needs to be resolved as it has been going on for years. I did say I understood it was not the fault of the local group, it was a problem with the vendor.

          I’d like to encourage you to encourage your mom that some things can seem like a problem but they are actually a symptom of a larger problem. In this case, I’d expect anything this woman says is going to be scrutinized heavily. Granted she probably set herself up for that lack of trust, I get that too. But for your mom’s own peace of mind, she can remind herself that the larger issue is actually the problem, not this particular email.

          Perhaps helping your mom to see that asking women for softening language only perpetuates women’s issues in the workplace and does not actually fix the core issues here.

          Right now, I touch base with a person by email. I have several talking points that probably should be a discussion. All I get back is “thank you”. I must force myself to assume this person read and digested my message and at some point we will discuss it or they will handle it themselves. I think this is normal for a good number of people.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      Like others, I think Abby’s message sound very polite. To me “isn’t it?” rather than “you wrote the wrong date” IS softening language and honestly, “gentle reminder” always seems a bit condescending to me (though I have a colleague who does it and I don’t mind because it’s just her style and I know she doesn’t mean it condescendingly).

      That said, given that your mom isn’t the only one noticing this, it sounds like there is a pattern, but it does just sound like a difference in style, maybe even a cultural thing? Is Abby from a different area or different social class perhaps, than most of the board? That might be something to suggest, that Abby may have a different upbringing and may have a different view of what is polite.

      1. Migraine Month*

        As an east-coaster who moved to the mid-west, it took me years to calibrate my communication style so people wouldn’t think I was mean. Apparently deadpan is not a universal language.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I have a friend who teaches in England and we’ve had some amusing conversations comparing norms. I was telling her once about the job where the principal told me “we start at 9, but I’m sure you’d want to be in before that, wouldn’t you?” She said the head teachers in England would simply say, “we expect you to be in before that.”

      2. Siege*

        From most people, “gentle reminder” is the verbal equivalent of an all-staff email to try to shame Brad in Marketing into flushing the toilet.

    11. anonymous73*

      There is nothing rude about pointing out that an event date may be incorrect…in a Slack group of people who are involved in the same work. If your mother took that as such, she’s being way too sensitive.

    12. CTT*

      Replying to my own comment instead of individually since a lot of people have the same take – I also didn’t think that Abby’s rude and said that to my mom, but this has been an ongoing thing. I think the issue my mom and the other members who don’t like how Abby communicates is that she often phrases her comments as a question instead of as a statement. Like “Hey, I think this has the wrong date” would be more palatable to them than “isn’t this the wrong date?” because they think she’s asking a question she already knows the answer to, which they read as having a rude tone. I don’t think it is, but I can see how someone would interpret it that way.

      All this to say, I do think this is a serious BEC situation and good to have confirmation that I’m reading it correctly. I do think she took my comments about not reading too much into written tone seriously. My mom isn’t usually over-sensitive and has worked with grassroots political organizations for decades, so she’s used to working with a lot of different personalities, but this group has a lot of Personalities, and I get the sense an implosion is coming (it’s the local Dems in a very conservative state, so it’s not the most well-oiled or abundantly-staffed machine, unfortunately).

      1. Jora Malli*

        There’s a book I read in college that I think may be helpful for your mom and her fellow board members. It’s called The Usual Error by Kyeli Smith and Pace Smith, and its available as a free ebook to read online.

        The basic premise is that when we receive communication from someone else, we don’t ask ourselves what that person means or intends, we think about what what *we* would mean if we communicated it that way. The easiest example is a voice that’s increasing in volume. Some people hear someone talking loudly and think, “If I was talking that loudly it would be because I was angry” and so they assume the loud talker is angry without considering other reasons people might have for talking loudly.

        I think that may be part of what your mom and her coworkers are experiencing here. “If I were to ask a question I already knew the answer to, it would be for this specific purpose, so that means everyone who asks a question they already know the answer to is doing it for that purpose.” And that’s neither true nor helpful.

      2. Amtelope*

        I think this is entirely a personality thing. “Isn’t this the wrong date?” seems like a perfectly appropriate way to express “I’m pretty sure this is the wrong date, but maybe something has changed that I don’t know about, so I’m not going to come out swinging.”

      3. Irish Teacher*

        That DOES sound like a cultural or educational thing to me. It’s likely that Abby has learnt to phrase things as a question in order to soften her language. I think a lot of people would find “hey, I think this has the wrong date” LESS palatable because it is sort of saying “you’re wrong.” By asking, Abby is trying to treat them as the experts and put them in the position of correcting her rather than her correcting them. It’s an attempt to be more polite.

        I regularly phrase things like that as questions for two reasons – firstly I MIGHT be wrong; it’s always possible I misread or something and secondly, it sounds politer. It’s letting them figure out if there is a mistake rather than my acting like an authority.

        It seems like the board is very much misreading Abby’s attempts and since they are all doing so, I suspect there is a cultural or generational thing at play, that they have not been taught explicitly or implicitly to phrase possible corrections as a question, especially when speaking to those in authority, in order to seem less threatening.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          Whereas I would be the opposite.
          “Hey, I think this has the wrong date.” – Questioning, leaves open the possibility writer is incorrect (I think) but politely points out a mistake.
          “Isn’t this the wrong date?” – Accusatory, I know this is the wrong date therefore you are a moron.
          “The date is wrong.” – Could go either way. 100% factual but could be taken badly depending on stress level.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yeah, I suspect it’s cultural/generational and Abby is from a different background or otherwise has a different speaking pattern to the board and is being misunderstood.

            I wouldn’t be bothered by either “hey, I think this has the wrong date” or “isn’t this the wrong date?” “The date is wrong” does sound a bit blunt but even that wouldn’t bother me unless there was a pattern that indicated the person did mean it in a “you’re wrong and stupid” way.

            1. JaneB*

              I also think “hey, isn’t this the wrong date” is incorrect and needs a ? at the end. Plus the hey sounds off – if someone said hey to me in person it sounds rude, like calling a waitress “girl”. Very cultural…

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I am going to try to take this off of politics because I think there is an important thing to look at.

        When ever there is a group going against what the main thinking is in an area, there can be contention inside the group itself. And that is in part because of us vs. them- the stress of the “us” group staying on their toes because of the “them” group can wear on individuals in the “us” group and they can end up arguing with each other.

        We have a situation here regarding putting chemicals in a lake. The “them” group are the ones who want the chemicals and the “us” group (smaller group with no real organization) are the ones who don’t want it. In this example both groups end up arguing inside their respective group. It’s an easy pit to fall into, especially in these times.

        So yes, there is probably a figurative explosion coming and the group will have to pick itself up and reconfigure what they are doing. If you can see that and you can talk to your mom about the up-coming train wreck that actually might be helpful in that she can plan what she will do for her clean up plan.

      5. Mac*

        This may or may not soothe your mom’s ruffled feathers, but given that Abby’s graphic design work probably sometimes includes important info like dates/times, it’s incredibly likely that when she saw that different date, she went into a cold panic, thinking that she in fact had gotten something wrong and was going to have to redo a whole bunch of work. So she may not have been “asking a question she already knew the answer to” so much as freaking out and thinking maybe she (Abby) had dropped the ball– a situation which hopefully your mom would agree would be one that would warrant urgent clarification.

    13. RagingADHD*

      There isn’t much actionable for your mom. If Abby were writing in, I’d give her some notes though – not about emojis or softening, but about the difference between correcting information and calling people out. I agree that the emoji business could be equally offensive (I would find it condescending).

      Calling out your mom’s repost, especially with a rhetorical question, made your mom look dumb in front of the group and I’m not surprised that it rubbed her the wrong way. The tactful way to do this would be to DM your mom and correct her privately. Then send a group message of the original state party post (not the repost) and say “FYI, this is the wrong date. I’m contacting the state party about it.” And do so.

      Of course, I’m coming from the perspective of someone who isn’t on nonprofit boards but sometimes consults with or offers my services free to them. If Abby is a board member and a peer, she might not need to put extra effort into tact. If she’s in the role of a vendor (paid or not) it’s a good idea to be tactful because you can get a lot of referrals for paid work through that type of networking – as long as you don’t piss everyone off.

    14. My Useless 2 Cents*

      It probably is a generational thing but I would have found this incredibly rude and passive aggressive myself. There is a difference in pointing out an error and shouting out the error to all the world. Should a teacher mark up a spelling test or sit in front of the class and passive aggressively ask “Suzie… isn’t cat spelled with a c and not a k?”.
      If Abby knew OP’s mom made the error, she should have messaged her privately to point out the error.
      If Abby didn’t know who posted the incorrect info a group message along the lines of “Can I get clarification on the date of X event?”

      1. AllTheBirds*

        I don’t understand why you feel it’s rude and P-A. She asked a question. How is that rude? How is it P-A?

        And how is it an age thing?

        1. RagingADHD*

          The presumption is that Abby knew perfectly well that the date was wrong and it was a fake question. That is passive aggressive. If Abby honestly didn’t know the date, then it wasn’t PA.

          The rudeness was in putting OP’s mom on blast to the group. (Again, only if Abby knew it was wrong. If she was honestly asking for clarification, it was not).

        2. My Useless 2 Cents*

          In my experience, older individuals aren’t always as comfortable in mediums like text, IM or Slack and tend to add in more softening language to ensure their tone is clear. Therefore will read “isn’t this wrong?” as harsh and blaming. The softening language is missing, therefore the writer is upset.

          If you are reading it as harsh and blaming, the question becomes passive aggressive and rude. (“Hey everyone, OP’s mom is being careless and putting out incorrect information and I am making sure all of you are aware I caught it!”)

      2. pancakes*

        I don’t see how this is an age thing either, and I’m not sure what age group people are meant to think you’re even referring to. I think people who are fussed about the phrasing are being overly fussy.

        A group of adults working on public messaging isn’t comparable to a group of kids learning how to spell. They need to be putting out correct information, and if and when someone catches a mistake, it’s important for the group to know it’s been spotted and is being taken care of. Not to teach anyone a lesson but to act quickly to get the correct information out. It’s not reasonable to expect things like a social media post with the wrong date to be spoken of on a one-to-one, hush hush basis. It’s not terribly shameful to have posted the wrong date, either – even the most careful person is going to occasionally make a mistake. The important thing is to correct it, not for people to be in their feelings about it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In these times, the individuals who can avoid personalizing things will tend to make out better than those who do personalize things.

          In this case, mom can simply email Abby and say, “Next time just email me directly. It’s good to try to not burden everyone with too many emails.” Mom is not powerless here, and I am concerned she has forgotten that.

          1. pancakes*

            That depends. In a group where people aren’t frequently trying to change the subject from the task at hand to how they feel about their own work on it (or about what people have been saying, or about having their toes stepped on a bit by phrasing they didn’t like, etc.) it would be fine to send a group text asking whether the date was wrong, as a way of saying “hey everyone, it looks like the wrong date was posted.”

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I think there are two differences between your example and what Abby wrote. Firstly, the “and not a k” makes it different to me. I think a more accurate comparison would be, “Suzie, did you mispell cat there?” which would be completely appropriate. I also think the fact that a teacher is in authority makes it completely different. What Abby is doing is more a way to politely correct somebody has authority over you. It’s more like a student raising their hand and saying, “Miss, did you misspell a word there?” rather than “Miss, you spelled that wrong.” The first sounds more respectful and acknowledges that the person you are speaking to is the authority. To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with the latter, but there are teachers who would be annoyed, whereas few would be to the first. Abby is acting like a child suggesting the teacher should maybe check something, not like a teacher correcting a child.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          The point is do you point out the mistake privately or in front of the whole class? A teacher who calls out a single students mistake in front of the entire class is just as wrong as a student shouting out teacher misspelled a word on the chalkboard. Authority doesn’t cancel out that both are rude.

          And yes, I actually find your rephrasing of my example “Suzie, did you misspell cat there?” to be incredibly rude and inappropriate if said in front of the entire class. Whereas a private “Suzie, you misspelled cat.” would not. Both point out the mistake, one publicly and one privately.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I wasn’t saying it’s rude when the student says it and not when the teacher does. I was saying that Abby is not in the role of a teacher and there is a difference between a teacher phrasing something as a question in order to embarrass the kid and a peer phrasing something as a question in order to make it clear they are not trying to act like an authority. A teacher saying, “Suzie, you misspelled cat” is fine. A peer saying it could come across as rude, so it would be more appropriate for them to say something like “um, I think you might have misspelled that” or “did you misspell that?” And Abby is more in the role of the classmate and probably didn’t want to just say “you got the date wrong.”

            I do take your point about the publically versus privately, but that doesn’t seem to be the board’s issue. If they had said she should have said it to me privately, I’d think that perfectly reasonably, but their point seems to be she should use softening language when…she did. It sounds like they would have had no problem with her posting it publically if she’d said something like “gentle reminder to everybody to check their dates before posting” which honestly I think sounds much more rude than what she did write. And again, that may be how I am reading it or based on my culture, but the problem doesn’t seem to be posting it publically; it seems to be softening it in the “wrong way.”

          2. River Otter*

            Abby’s question was about an Instagram post. So the mistake was a public mistake, not a private mistake as a spelling test would be. Calling out a private mistake publicly is rude and hostile. Gently calling attention to a public mistake in a public forum is, well, gentle. If Susie was writing on the board in front of the class and misspelled cat with a K, then The correct way to point out the mistake is gently and in the moment where the entire class can benefit from reinforcing that cat is spelled with a C.
            You can argue over what her phrasing should have been, but Abby did the right thing by highlighting an Instagram post with a mistake in it to the entire board.

    15. P*

      The thing that jumped out to me in your comment was your mother expects Abby to soften her language. Are you sure your mother isn’t suffering from some unconscious bias here? She’s expecting a woman to soften her language when she’s made a comment that’s straightforward. Would she have the same expectation if Abby was a man?

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The other thing that jumps out at me is that Abby is providing free graphic design work for the group. If I were donating my professional services to an organization, and they were jumping all over me because I wasn’t phrasing my completely accurate slack messages in exactly the right way, I’d stop doing work for them, and let them work with someone who is paid to deal with their nonsense.

        I use slack a lot, for technical stuff that involves a lot of questioning and pointing out mistakes, and her phrasing is drifting towards the blunter end of things, but still well within the usual range.

    16. LittleMarshmallow*

      Ok, I sorta feel for Abby on this one. If that’s the kind of wording that’s getting her a bad rap in the slack group then those other people need to calm down. I suppose maybe there are examples where she was actually rude but with just this one example, mama and the rest of the slack channel sound ridiculously sensitive.

      I feel for Abby because I often am brief and direct in my communication. I hate when people beat around the bush (just tell me what you want already… don’t make me guess) so I don’t do that, but apparently some people love that game. But on the flip side, when I do try to soften my message (usually after being given feedback that I’m too blunt) I usually get told something along the lines of “you should just say what you mean, you don’t have to soften your wording”. So really if you’re naturally blunt there’s no winning. Tell mama she should try to read neutrality at worst into written messages because likely that’s the worst the tone implied was.

  15. AnonyMouse*

    Experiences applying for remote jobs in the US / digital nomad life when you live physically outside the US? How do you approach the topic? In what fields does this work? I am a US citizen but currently located in another country.

    1. Sunflower*

      Try FB groups for tips- I’m in a lot of solo female traveller groups and whenever someone asks about work, they refer them out to these other groups.

  16. DolphinGirl*

    Question for my job seekers/hiring managers: If a job has been posted for 30+ days is it still worth submitting your resume? I get emails from so many websites with job listings saying this job was just posted but when I go to the company website it will say posted 30 days ago. I don’t want to throw my resume at the wall hoping something sticks but if the job looks interesting I don’t want to miss out.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s hard to know. I’ve definitely been in situations in which we’ve looked at only the résumés that came in in the first 3 weeks. But I’ve also been in situations in which we’ve looked at résumés for months after the initial posting. The goal of the hiring manager or hiring committee is to hire a candidate. There are no rules about “Oh, once it’s past 30 days, we can’t look at those candidates,” but there are also no guarantees that they will look.

    2. Purple Cat*

      If it’s still up on the Company’s website, then it *should* still be open. And hearing of the posting from job boards they may have done a “refresh” to try to get more candidates. I would apply, because you don’t want to miss out, but put it out of sight out of mind after that.

      1. Eine Elefantin*

        I was recently in this situation and I sent an email to the company asking whether the position was still meant to be open, and linking to my LinkedIn profile. I got an immediate email back from the relevant manager saying that no, the position had been filled, but would I have time for a call about future opportunities. Ended up having a nice chat with them and learning mroe about the company, as well as when they are planning to post more openings.

      2. Jora Malli*

        That’s what I was thinking. It may have been posted to the company website for some time, but if it was only recently posted to a separate jobs board, that might because they haven’t received as many applications as they were hoping for and they’re trying another venue to drum up possible interest. I say apply.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is tricky; sometimes they don’t bother to take it down right away there either. I recently applied to something with a fairly fresh date on the company’s careers page and got rejected right away with a note saying they’d already filled it.

        Not saying it’s not worth trying, just be aware of it.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think a job site like indeed or linked in or whatever is quite likely to be out of date on an older posting, but the company’s own website has a better track record in my experience. It’s still not perfect. Three weeks is about my cutoff.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, I think you’re right about that. I usually try to see if it IS on the company website and apply through that. If not, I’ll go through the job board.

    3. AdequateArchaeologist*

      It definitely depends. I know my previous employer had stuff up for 30+ days and we were desperate for candidates the whole time. But I’ve also seen situations (usually federal jobs that got scraped onto Indeed or whatever) where the job board listing is expired and it’s just never been removed. Go ahead and apply if it’s something you’re really interested in, or at least contact someone involved at the company to see what’s up. Worst they can do is say “no, it’s closed”.

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

      please do! we just ran into this on the other end of hiriing. so we posted the job in end of April, but it is still up for an extended time. Its actually for 2 positions but they are all the same. Did the usual process (its University so it takes a while). We thought that at the end of May we had 2 really good candidates and they both tentativly accepted, one has to plan around family and moving to several states. Well we just found out that something happened with candidate 2 so they will not be joining us. But we still have a few people who applied after we started interviewing. We now can look at those people first before we have to start over.

    5. Generic Name*

      Please apply! My company is hiring for many positions right now, and many of the postings have been out for 30 days or longer. They are still up because the positions are still open and we have not yet made a hire (my industry is basically at full employment now).

    6. Gnome*

      Yes. Some jobs I don’t see good applicants for until it’s been open awhile. Also, at least where I am, if you apply, they’ll look at your resume for OTHER jobs that you might fit… Possibly before they are posted.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yes! If I have a job still posted it means we’re still actively reviewing resumes because we haven’t found the right fit yet

  17. Gotwhatiwanted*

    Does anyone have advice on starting a new role? For context, I just started a new role this week, and had been with my previous company for a significant time. I wanted better work life balance as I was burning out so I took a role that was one step down from my old role for similar pay. (Think Mgr back to IC). But now I feel like things are too slow? I have a lot of time on my hands and not enough to do. One the one hand I did want breating space but I’m worried I will be bored.

    1. Purple Cat*

      WAY too early to make any decision if this how the ongoing workload will be. MOST places want to ease new people in and not throw everything including the kitchen sink at them.
      Take advantage of the time to reset and count it in your head as a “paid recharge period” or something like that. You can also talk to your manager about their plan for your development. If there are things in the job description that you’re not doing yet you can ask about expected timing for that part of your role to ramp up.
      But really, this is a GOOD thing that your new company is easing you in.

      1. Gotwhatiwanted*

        That’s fair, and also what I thought.
        It is just very disconcerting to go from 100 to 0, and be sitting about twiddling my thumbs. Still I like the idea of framing it as paid recharge time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Adding, I went from an unbelievably fast paced job to a fast paced job. The new job seemed slow to me because of what I was used to. It was hard to listen to people complain about the pacing because of my previous experience.

          Try to remember that if you are at a job for a long time, more and more gets added to your to-do list. This only happens over time. And it will probably happen here also.

          As a supervisor myself I found it helpful when new hires pointed out that they needed something else to work on. It was a joyful day when a new hire pointed to something specifically and said, “I want to learn that!” or “I did that at Other Job, I can do that here, too!”

          1. Gotwhatiwanted*

            True! After posting this question I did reach out to my new boss and ask for more tangible things and I’m scoping out my first project @new job this week :)

    2. Jora Malli*

      It’s SUPER normal for your first few weeks in a new job to be slow and a little boring. They don’t want to throw too many things at you while you’re still getting settled in, so you can’t really know what the workload will actually look like for a while yet.

      Also, brains like consistency. Yours is used to doing too much, so that’s what feels normal. As you spend more time in your newer work patterns, that should level out and start to feel more normal.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I super agree with Purple Cat and Jora Malli, it’s definitely too early to tell what normal will look like! At this point you’re still in the onboarding phase, plus it can take months for a job to fully ramp up, especially if training on their specific systems is required.

      It can feel very weird to twiddle your thumbs now but if past experience has taught me anything, someday you’ll look back and miss those thumb-twiddling days. ;-)

  18. Carrots*

    Ideas for careers that involve no more than 25% screen time? I am completely burned out by my sit-at-my-desk, stare-at-a-computer job. Of course, pandemic teleworking made it worse, since in-person meetings became virtual meetings. I hate every second that I am sitting and staring at a screen. I’m ready to jump ship and even go back to school in order to find a career that will allow me to accomplish things away from a computer. What are your ideas?? TIA!!

    1. Carrots*

      P.S. Since I have kids, and I have a spouse who works shifts, I do unfortunately need a job that stays within 9am-5pm hours. Not being able to work evenings/weekends really limits my ideas for non-screen-based jobs. So I need your help!

      1. Thegreatprevaricator*

        Loads but it really depends on your interest and skill set. Do you like people? Are you practical? Work in a team, work for yourself? Big or small organisation? Any opportunities specific to your locality? Some that spring to mind are working with early years, gardening, catering (there are catering jobs that are 9-5!), trades (plumbing, electrical, etc), various roles in medicine and healthcare (some specialisms are 9-5), dentist,

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

        You could look for jobs in an educational environment that mirror your children’s schedule, but without being a teacher — clerical work for the school district, classroom/teachers assistant, academic counsellor, coach, custodian… some of this will still come with some screen time, but probably involves a lot more face-to-face with people.

      3. Invisible fish*

        I second teaching. Say goodbye to your desk chair and invest in orthopedic shoes that don’t look like orthopedic shoes. It’s exhausting, but if you have the personality for it, it’s more fun than you can believe.

    2. Cassandra*

      What do you enjoy doing? Would you rather work with people as clients (case worker, education, child care, hospitality) or by yourself/in a structured team environment (forestry, construction, art)?

    3. Colette*

      Physiotherapy? At the clinic I go to, I’m pretty sure they mostly set their own hours, although there may be a requirement to work outside the 9 – 5 hours.

      Teaching? (Maybe things like teaching English as a second language or child care)

      Auto mechanics work pretty predicatable hours.

      Construction (although they will often start before 9, they are usually done before 5)



      Plumbing, HVAC, natural gas, etc. are probably out because in many places you’d have to be on call, but there may be jobs in that area that don’t require it (e.g. new construction)

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Standard construction hours where I live are in the realm of 7-3:30 or 4 p.m for trades.
        Office hours typically align. Office jobs within the construction area tend to have little bit of flexibility and tend to pay well for what they are (example: a jobsite clerk or admin will definitely outearn a receptionist at a dental office) and require, education wise.

        I will add that most my experience has been that most of the listed construction trades…that’s going to be difficult if you are the main caregiver for school aged children. The number of “No cell phones permitted” jobsites is far greater than zero, and the overwhelming sentiment across trades and management (again, locally, but I’m in a decently large area with a lot of major construction ongoing) is that “So? You have a partner handling childcare. Carry on.” whether its the case or not. And it doesn’t really matter what gender you are here. I’m a fairly feminine presenting cis-gender straight woman, and I’ve gotten the whole “and…your husband is dealing with that? Carry on.” sentiment far more than once.

    4. Alexis Rosay*

      Definitely teaching (aside from the pandemic). There are some screen-based tasks like inputting grades, responding to emails, etc, but overall it’s a lot of interacting with people; you need to really love interacting with people.

      If you’re more solitary, a car or bike mechanic (or really any kind of mechanic).

      1. Flower necklace*

        Agreed, teaching is great for getting away from the computer. There are downsides to it, of course, but the thing I love about teaching is that it’s never boring.

    5. Gnome*

      Echoing the questions about skills and interests. The first thing that came to mind was dog grooming, but that might be because I need to book my pooch an appointment.

      Working at YMCA/Recreation Centers or for a Park Services kind of places might work, depending on the job. I volunteer at an animal shelter, and the staff there who work with the animals spend very little time on screens. Similarly with child or elder care.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      Lab tech? I did that for a few years. Requires some data logging, but at the entry level, it’s mostly following recipes as you move various substances about in the prescribed manner, plus keeping the lab in working order. BS in science is helpful. There may be the occasional emergency (e.g. anything that involves cryo-storage will involve wee-hours rescue missions when a freezer goes down), but it’s otherwise compatible with standard business hours.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        The wee hours rescues are the worst. Haha. My version of that is that is live in the north where it’s very cold in the winter so our wee hour rescue missions are usually trying to keep things from freezing in a power outage.

        Also, I agree, lab work. It’s fun and a little weird. Data entry isn’t the same as being on conference calls all day with no breaks. If you can find a technician job at a research facility that usually has some variety because research can change a lot fairly quickly.

        If you’re mechanically inclined, light maintenance at an office or plant/factory would keep you away from a desk.

    7. LittleMarshmallow*

      Hard to say without knowing your skills/background but sciences can be very hands on. Like lab work. I’m a chemist by education and training and most of my job is hands on. I do use a lot of spreadsheets but I don’t spend huge amounts of time at a time at my computer usually. I’m up and about in the lab mad scientisting. Been doing it for 15 years and still able to do hands on work.

    8. Anon Soc*

      Social work and human services can be 90% screens or 10% depending on the role. On the disability, agreed care or youth work end there are reports but the day to day is face to face. In advocacy or government work you rarely leave the office (in many cases).

      As a rule, this is good second career work. Unfortunately the more face to face, the more out of hours you will do. Burnout rates are high and early, depending on the role.

    9. Mac*

      If you live near a municipal area with a decent-sized library system, there are loads of interesting jobs that have a mix of customer service, physical movement, mindless-but-satisfying tasks like scanning in a big pile of books, and occasional forays into first aid, depending on the location (here in my city, there are certain library branches where administering Narcan to overdose victims is just a sad reality of the job). Many of the security guards I knew who worked there had been there for decades– maybe not a glamorous or especially high-paying job, but also not too strenuous or dangerous, a great way to meet folks in your community, and each day sure is different!

  19. potential fur parent*

    This is only sort of work related, but does anyone have any tips for taking care of a dog when all members of the household work outside the home? My partner and I would like to adopt a dog eventually, but I can only work from home one day a week (I could mayyyybe stretch it to two) and he has to be in the office every day. We’re still in the process of moving in together so pet adoption is still a little far in the future, but we’d like to do it at some point in the next couple of years. We’ll be living in a 2-bedroom apartment in the city, unlikely to have a yard. There’s some possibility that I’d be in walking distance from my office (I don’t have a car), and if so I could potentially stop by home on my lunch break to walk the dog. But we haven’t totally decided on a neighborhood yet, so I’m not sure if that will be a possibility.

    Do you think we’d be able to give a dog a decent life? In particular, I’m worried about the dog being lonely/bored during the day, and about it needing more care as it gets older that will be difficult to achieve while working all day. I don’t think we would be able to afford doggie day care every day.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It really depends on the dog. For the majority of the time we had our last dog (RIP Link) we both worked outside the home, but I was only about 15 minutes away and had some flexibility. He was older when we adopted him, so definitely house-trained, and was fine alone for about 8-9 hours during the day. We don’t have a yard, but we have a nice walkable neighborhood with plenty of grass.

      But it really will vary by dog – some need more company, some need more frequent trips outside, etc.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Agreed! If it’s an older dog, you should be OK. If it’s a puppy, that really isn’t going to work very well since they need to do their business a lot more frequently. So unless you want to get a dog walker or doggy daycare, I would steer clear of a puppy.
        Also, there are SO many lovely older (3 years +) in pounds and rescues because everyone just has to have a puppy. If you get an older dog, what you see is what you get in terms of their personality (unless they have been severely mistreated). With a puppy, you won’t start to see breeding issues until they are 1 to 3, so I personally prefer an older dog.

    2. Mellie Bellie*

      When my husband and I used to both work away from home full time, we sent our dogs to doggie day care a couple of times a week. They were adult dogs with low to moderate activity levels, so this worked fine. Puppies or higher energy dogs would probably need more days. It’s not cheap, but you can buy packages at most places that get the price down per day to something more manageable.

    3. Kesnit*

      If your budget allows, look into pet sitting services. I used one a decade ago when I had a 1 hour commute each way. They came in, walked my dogs, played with them some, and left.

      Even if that isn’t an option, you can leave toys available for the dog to play with.

      Obviously you would need to screen out dogs that cannot be left alone, but a rescue group should be able to help you with that.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hire a walker. When we adopted our dog we lived in NYC– he went to daycare once a week and had three afternoon walks on other days, then my partner walked him on the remaining day. If you move into a building with a lot of dogs, ask your neighbors who they use, which may provide better rates if your dogs can walk together. For what it’s worth, he probably could hold it for 8 hours, but he’s a social dog and I always feel better when he gets out during the day.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Agree with this–plan to hire a walker. Part of the calculus for if you can get a dog needs to be whether you can afford the services the dog will need to live a happy life.

        There are lots of professional walking services, but my parents also used the middle-school or high-school aged kids of their neighbors as dog walkers (only the responsible ones of course–kids vary greatly in their ability to handle this!). The kids made a little money and got to practice taking on some responsibilities.

    5. Gracely*

      I would not get a puppy. That’s the main thing. Two bonded dogs might help avoid the loneliness problem, but not the bathroom break or space issue. You could also consider getting a Furbo–it’s a video camera that lets you talk to your pet and give them treats.

      You could probably find an adult rescue. But if you’re worried about your dog getting older–I mean, that’s definitely going to happen eventually.

      It sounds like the situation you’ll be in might be better for a cat or two, honestly (unless you have allergies). But I know that’s not what you’re asking about.

      1. potential fur parent*

        Yeah, we would definitely not get a puppy–we were talking about adopting an adult dog, maybe 2-5 years old depending on what becomes available in rescue agencies around here. I’m unsure about getting a bonded pair, since our apartment will be relatively small. I am indeed allergic to cats, so that’s not a possibility unless I want to be sneezing all the time.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I would look at older dogs, not a puppy. There are dogs who are like “Humans gone; time to get working on that nap schedule” and very chill.

      A dog walking service is a good idea; be aware that they can have long wait lists.

      I have worked from home since before we had dogs, but when I can’t walk them (e.g. ankle injury) oftentimes when we go out in the backyard together (not fenced, so I come too) the dogs sit next to me on the porch. “Here we all are, gazing at the shrubberies.” “Do you need to pee?” “The majestic shrubberies.” “Should we go back in?” “Oh! Will there be snacks? This feels like a snack situation!” Which made me much chiller about leaving them all day if we wanted to be out from breakfast to dinner.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yes, dogs sleep a lot more than people do so it will most likely just nap the day away. If you can find an adult dog that has been kennel trained that can alleviate a lot of anxiety for them during the day. (The kennel becomes their safe space. It should be a little cave like and enclosed on all sides but the door so they feel protected. You don’t even have to close the door or lock them in the kennel during the day but it does provide that space for them to run to for comfort when you are not home and there is a strange noise outside.)

        One other thing to consider if both your partner and you work outside the home, is how social are you outside of work. An extra 2-3 hours to meet friends or have dinner several nights a week adds a lot of extra alone time for the dog.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah I think this is the main thing. How willing are you to commit to at least one of you always rushing straight home after work to immediately go walk your dog? That would be difficult for me. I liked to go to happy hours with coworkers, meet for dinner downtown, etc. Of course, this was all pre-pandemic.

    7. Susie*

      My husband and I work outside the home. We have a one year old dog. My husband is able to do long morning walks most days and we have a dog walker the comes mid day for a bathroom break/another walk. I’m pretty sure our dog sleeps most of the time we’re gone. When we’re home for the day, she has energy in the morning and afternoon around her walk/play times. The rest of the day, I’ll find her sleeping in odd places around the house.
      We did select a dog on the lower energy side of the scale, but our dog has more than enough energy to keep up with our 7 year old child’s endless desire to play and long walks in the woods. Our previous dog was an incredibly high energy and very anxious rescue. He didn’t do well with other dogs, so we couldn’t do daycare, but luckily my husband was able to come home to walk him mid day and we had a fabulous dog walker. So if you do adopt an adult dog, just be mindful of energy levels and temperament.

    8. Pop*

      Many dogs are home all day by themselves and do not mind it. We commit to doing a morning walk each morning, he has plenty of bones to chew, and we always sit on the couch and cuddle with him in the evenings. He probably gets a longer walk (1 hr or longer) every weekend, especially when it’s nice outside. He is a medium energy dog and not one of those crazy smart breeds that gets bored. This has been similar to my experience with other dogs as well. None of my friends who have dogs (or when I was growing up) have a dog walker or doggy day care and they are all living happy, healthy lives! If you’re worried about it, it might make sense to adopt a dog out of a foster situation so you could get a better sense of their needs and energy levels than a 20-minute meeting at the shelter.

    9. A Simple Narwhal*

      At minimum you’ll need to employ a walker, it’s even better if you can find a walker that does playgroups! Back when my husband and I were in the office full time we had a walker come by 3 times a week, and the walker would take our dog for a couple hours (along with a few other dogs) and either go to a dog park or take them to an off-leash trail (assuming the dog was safe/trained to be off-leash, they also did some trial runs to ensure that our dog meshed with the other dogs in that particular play group), which allowed the dogs to play and run around, which was much better than just someone who takes them for a leashed walk around the block. Our dog was always happy and tired when we came home, we didn’t feel (as) bad about leaving her all day, and the socialization was good for her. Plus it offered us a little more flexibility on those days if we wanted to grab a drink or dinner after work, we weren’t stressing that she hadn’t been to the bathroom all day.

      It was relatively inexpensive (for what we got), I think like ~$70/week for those three sessions? I know that can add up but it was worth the expense for her quality of life. So definitely factor that expense in before you get a dog.

    10. Gnome*

      Echoing what other have said about dog age, etc. I’d add that when I couldn’t get home quickly due to after school carpool, I hired a walker to get mine out during the day. If you have a teen or tween neighbor, you might be able to hire them to just let the dog out to relieve itself (I did this as a kid).

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I’d like to think my previous dog had a decent life. We both worked. I was away for shorter hours than my husband. I had to get straight home and tend to the dog. He was surprisingly self-sufficient. It actually went well.

      But odd things came up. The “Saturday Sillys”. If we were still home after a certain time, the dog came to understand that we would be home for two days. He would get super silly and playful every Saturday morning. My husband was not familiar with dogs and did not understand the behavior. Once I explained this was glee or joy that we were still home, my husband laughed. He was glad to be home too. ha.

      He was not a nervous dog. Even as a pup his ability to help himself settle down was in place. This sounds corny but what we did was “test” the pup before paying for it. (Shelter dog) We passed the pup between us in careful and in a loving manner. The pup willingly settled right in to the new set of arms. My husband decided to drop his keys – sudden noise test. The pup looked down to see the keys on the floor and settled back into my arms.

      When he got to be about 12-13 he did start getting nervous. But I think the circumstances at the time brought it out. My husband passed and the dog totally understood that my husband was not coming back. After this I started seeing nervous behaviors. Eh, I was nervous so he probably picked up my negative energy, too. I solved this by inviting friends over who would talk to him. Even a five minute visit made a difference.

      I think it helped that I taught him phrases like “It’s okay” when something was not a bother. I taught him “leave it” when there was something he should not mess with. I named activities- walk, ride, etc so he could understand what we were doing next. They have amazing capacity to learn and us humans can forget that. The more you teach them, I think it helps them to be calmer.

    12. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      Echoing that it will vary by dog. It will be important to find a rescue that does good temperament testing (foster-based rescues are a bit better for this) and is willing to work with you to find the right match. We were passed on for the first 2 dogs we were interested in (no yard) before the rescue matched us to our current goofy furball. He has no problems being along for 8hrs, and we do commit to longer, sniff-heavy walks and bringing him to a nearby dog park for stimulation and socialization about 2x a week. Those help make sure he has a productive outlet for energy. Oh — work with a good trainer, not just the petco classes, especially with rescues. Ours worked wonders with our dog’s confidence building and it made a huge difference in things like leaving him home alone.

  20. Cassandra*

    What do you consider “toxic positivity”?

    Personally I’m experiencing a lot of depression and anxiety over everything happening in the US, Ukraine, and world in general. But for some reason I’m finding that in my emails I’m acting more positive than usual. I would never say anything like “try to be happy” or anything like that, but I’ve noticed that lately in my emails/messages I keep wanting to compliment people (e.g., “you all did really amazing work on this project!”), be really enthusiastic with my thank you’s, and putting smiley faces at the end of sentences often emphasize to the reader that I am On Their Side. In the moment, it comes from a place of wanting to make the other person feel good about themself, but I always feel ashamed after the fact because I worry that I’m projecting an air of “everything is fine!” when everything is obviously Not Fine.

    I honestly wish I could add a note to my email signature that says “by the way, I f***ing hate that women’s civil rights have been gutted, we still have children in facilities at the border, and climate change will soon kill us all; please know that my terrible coping strategy is to sound positive in emails.” But obviously that would be even more bananas.

    Just wondering… like when do you start to feel put off by someone being positive in emails? Would it be weird for me to stop this all of a sudden and start being totally neutral? What does “toxic positivity” mean to you?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Toxic positivity is more like…It’s a beautiful day and there’s so much to be grateful for, everyone put on their happy face!

      If you’re complimenting people directly on their work and being generally pleasant, that’s fine! I think reading the room is the only thing I’d caution. Generally “you did a great job on this” is never a bad thing, but if everyone is feeling really down or grim a smiley face on the end of every message might be a little annoying. I still wouldn’t say it’s wildly terrible, but might not be having the impact you want.

      The thing is if you want to be positive about something in particular that IS positive, like good work or a good relationship with a coworker, that’s not toxic. If you want people to act like there are no problems in the world, that’s toxic. But people are allowed to be happy in a moment even when they’re experiencing existential dread and that’s okay.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Right. To me, toxic positivity is asking everybody to name something they’re grateful for about the pandemic – like sure, if that’s comforting to you personally to think about privately, sure, but like … people died.

    2. londonedit*

      I don’t think that’s toxic positivity at all – I think what you’re doing sounds really nice and I’d appreciate it. In the middle of everything that’s going on I think people really need genuine, positive acknowledgement of things that they’re doing well. Sometimes it can just feel like everything is awful and if someone said to me ‘this was really amazing work, thank you’ I’d be really chuffed.

      I think ‘toxic positivity’ is when people ignore the fact that there is crap going on and just steamroller over it – when a boss responds to a problem with ‘Well, you can work it out! It’ll be fine! I believe in you!’ and refuses to offer any actual help and support. Or when people respond to any minor expression of fatigue or sadness with ‘Cheer up! Put a smile on your face! Could be worse!’ Basically, it’s offering meaningless platitudes and telling everyone to cheer up rather than acknowledging anyone’s feelings. That’s not what you’re doing at all – you’re going out of your way to acknowledge people.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Ugh, my old boss would say, “At least you have a job!” to pretty much any even minor complaint about negative work changes.

    3. jane's nemesis*

      I don’t think there’s anything toxic about enthusiastically thanking people/praising their work! (You might want to tone down the smiley faces in work emails, but it really depends on your work culture.)

      But no shame! We’re all just trying to get through the work day in These Times, and if being positive towards people (which feels like it comes from a place of empathy and comfort with you) helps you to get through the day, then I don’t think it’s toxic.

    4. Can't Sit Still*

      Toxic positivity is telling someone they need to smile when their dog just died or that they should just “try to be happier” when they are suffering from clinical depression. Being generally upbeat is not toxic, unless you’re insisting everyone respond in kind.

      I’ve been making an effort throughout the past couple of years to be diligent in saying please and thank you and telling people when they’ve done a good job. I want to avoid making things worse, basically. I have noticed some people acting more positively than they did in the past and I assume they are doing the same thing I am.

      1. StellaBella*

        Or when my former boss said to me “you knew she was going to die, don’t be so sad” when I announced my close friend passed from breast cancer.

    5. Suprisingly ADHD*

      To me, toxic positivity is when someone is trying to tell other people to ignore problems, or policing other people’s tone. So “Hey, you did a great job on that project” is fine. “Turn that frown upside-down” or “we have opportunities, not problems” is pretty gross. As long as you’re not trying to make other people change their tone or anything else, you’re fine.

      1. OtterB*

        This. Trying to be encouraging to others and, in general, projecting a positive attitude yourself despite the state of the world is not toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is policing how other people should feel and demanding that they never acknowledge any problems or down moments.

        1. Migraine Month*

          Yes! “I’m happy” isn’t toxic. “You must be happy or there will be consequences” is toxic.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yes, positivity turns toxic when people refuse to acknowledge that a situation can be just plain crappy or when people refuse to allow others to be neutral (let alone be a little down).

    6. Purple Cat*

      Acknowledging that people are doing good work is a good thing that should be done more often – as long as you’re not enthusiastically thanking someone for something mundane. Like “great job for turning on the lights this morning!” Unless it’s someone who usually works nights, who came in early instead – then maybe it’s okay :)
      Smiley faces for the sake of smiley faces feels a bit off. And since you pointed it out – maybe to you too.

      Toxic positivity to me has to include a willful ignorance that there are problems and that just “being happy” will make the problems disappear. But on the other hand, we are allowed to be happy and celebrate wins at work even though there’s a war in the Ukraine and on Women’s Rights. I think it’s good and important to strike that balance.

    7. Gracely*

      Toxic positivity would be telling people that “at least you’re not in Ukraine!” or comments that minimize the badness of what is happening. It’s basically when you try to force people to ignore problems and be happy instead. That’s not what you’re doing.

    8. Warrior Princess Xena*

      First, to me toxic positivity is insincere. If I struggle really hard on a project and know my manager isn’t happy with my work, getting a flowers and rainbows email is not going to go over very well with me. So one thing to avoid is mixed messages. If you are grumpy with someone one day and happy with them the next, that will push me into the toxic zone far faster than someone who is generally being supportive of me.

      Second, I encourage you to be kind to yourself as well. If you live in a baseline of terrible all the time, you begin to adjust to terrible being your new normal. It is not a betrayal of the world or of the bad things happening to say “There are many terrible things happening, but there is nothing I can do about it right now so I am not going to work myself up about them” – which includes complimenting coworkers on good work and being happy about the good things that do happen. I firmly feel that toxic positivity occurs when someone feels like they’re drowning in everything bad and are trying to force away all the bad things in their sphere by sheer force of will. Acknowledge that bad things are happening, pick something you can do about them – maybe join a mentoring program for inner city students, or work with Habitat for Humanity, or donate to a soup kitchen, or anything as long as it give you, personally, a chance to do some good – and then give yourself the freedom to not be sad all the time.

      1. Cassandra*

        Thank you. I appreciate everyone’s responses, but you make an especially important point that finding ways to actually do good in the world is a more important outlet than being positive in communication.

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I think toxic positivity isn’t about being positive yourself but insisting everybody else should be. “Just smile,” “cheer up, it might never happen,” “keep a gratitude journal,” “if we waited until things were good to be happy, we’d be waiting forever,” “it’s all about mindset,” “you can choose to get bitter or to get better, it’s up to you.” Those are the kind of comments I’d consider to be toxic positivity.

      I don’t see anything toxic about “you all did really amazing work on this project.”

    10. anonymous73*

      Compliments are great as long as they’re genuine. Too often and over the top, they come across as fake. But I still don’t consider that toxic positivity. To me that’s when people can’t allow ANY negativity or sadness to exist, and their response is always fluff nd BS. Like if someone brings a legit work problem to management’s attention and their response is something like “A positive attitude will fix that!”.

    11. Spencer Hastings*

      I think you’re fine here — you’re not telling people how to live or how to feel. That’s what would put me off.

      Or if someone gives me a really over-the-top “great job” for something that’s totally routine, I’ll think “huh, this person either doesn’t understand my job, or thinks I am a delicate flower who needs constant praise,” but I wouldn’t call that toxic.

    12. Rara+Avis*

      Toxic positivity is when I meet with my boss to express concern about lack of training on a new system, and his only answer is, “You’ll be fine!”

    13. RagingADHD*

      Toxic positivity is when you demand/expect the other person to perform positivity to protect your fragile emotional state, or when you deny their real experience (and your own) in order to preserve your imaginary bubble of shallow, fake happiness.

      I am never put off by people being positive or giving sincere compliments. I am put off by overly effusive, patronizing compliments for minor routine things (always sounds like making a fuss over a toddler for successfully using the toilet). I am also put off by people reaching too hard to put a positive spin on bad news or soften bad feedback, or when they used convoluted language in order to pack in buzzwords instead of speaking plainly. None of that sounds like what you’re doing.

      What it sounds like you are doing is using compassion, gratitude and connection with others in order to cope with your own feelings. It’s healthy and kind. Don’t stop unless you feel like it’s becoming more of an effort than a benefit to you.

    14. Jora Malli*

      Do you remember from a while back where the workers were being treated terribly by customers and their supervisor was responding with some variation of “but think of all you have to be grateful for!”? That’s toxic positivity.

      What you’re doing seems more like “the world is a crappy place to live right now, so I’m choosing to be a light to the people in my life in the small ways that are available to me,” and I think that’s really lovely.

      1. Jora Malli*

        remember *the letter* from a while back.

        My brain is apparently faster than my typing fingers.

    15. Cedrus Libani*

      Toxic positivity is the idea that being sad and/or mad about something is a character flaw on your part. There can be no legitimate reason for negative feelings; you’re just a negative person.

      I don’t think it’s toxic to focus on what’s in our sphere of control. Can I do sweet f***all about 99.9999% of…any of this? Nope. Can I do my job, which is useful, and also keeps my donation fund topped up? Yep. No point in getting mad; I’d rather get even, in whatever miniscule ways that I can.

    16. Ampersand*

      I’m doing the same thing as you in my work emails lately—because I want people to know I appreciate them, and I know certain aspects of living/working/being a human in the US suck right now, and one thing that’s within my control is appreciating my colleagues’ contributions. For me, it doesn’t fall into the realm of toxic positivity, and I don’t read it that way from others.

    17. LittleMarshmallow*

      What you’re doing sounds fine to me. To me toxic positivity is more the insistence that people aren’t allowed to have a bad or neutral day and must be upbeat at all times no matter the situation. Which also doesn’t mean you can’t try to encourage someone that’s having a tough day.

      Thanking the people you work with and being friendly in emails isn’t toxic.

      I would be careful how many emojis you use. Those can come off as disingenuous when overused. I try to keep my emojis at no more than once per email (which sometimes means I have to choose which sentence I want to use him on). Maybe twice if it’s a long email.

      I was writing weekly updates for our team for a few months and would throw random funny comments in there to try to lighten the fact that they had to read this stupid email (at least it wasn’t a meeting right?). I got feedback that people liked it. They said they’d read the whole thing cuz they knew I’d stick Easter eggs in there. It was always stuff that they could picture me saying out loud so it added my personality into the email instead of just packing it with corporate buzzwords and jargon. So if it’s appropriate for your situation I’d recommend the occasional tongue in cheek comment thrown in too for amusement! Haha. Just be cognizant of your audience.

  21. Sarah in CA*

    I currently do a generic job, “office administration”, but in a niche field. I am looking to leave my job but unsure how to frame this to prospective employers as skills that are easily transferable to different fields and markets.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Are you trying to find similar roles, but in a different environment? Like, are you still looking for office administration jobs but just outside your niche field? If so, I don’t think this should be too hard or strange — just list your responsibilities and achievements on your resume and make sure it’s as broad as possible. (So, for example, if you work in a client database that is specific to your niche field, don’t name it, just call it a “CRM system” or similar.) I think most industries recognize that something like office admin (or accounting, etc.) are easily transferrable industry-to-industry.

    2. Generic Name*

      I would think “running an office” would be largely the same regardless of the industry, honestly. I think the skills are very easily transferrable. And you could even say something along the lines of, “While I’ve worked the past 5 years in the llama grooming industry, I’ve always been intrigued by the hamster bowling industry, and I look forward to bringing my admin experience to help hamsters be better bowlers.” in your cover letter.

  22. Can't Sit Still*

    Nancy, one of my EDs, is driving me around the bend. She’s very undecisive, which is fine, but she never responds to my requests for additional information, either. She also never wants something that’s a yes-no decision and no matter what I end up doing, she changes her mind afterwards, and then usually changes it back to what I decided originally. And now that most of her team has left and/or transferred to another manager, she’s hiring people just like herself, so the problem is getting worse.

    Our previous manager would rein her in if she got too obnoxious, but I’m not really certain what to say to our current manager or if I even should say anything. Nancy is in a critical role and while her leadership style leaves something to be desired, that’s not uncommon in her role. She’s not a missing stair, exactly, but that stair sure creaks and shakes a lot!

    1. PollyQ*

      How do you feel about job-hunting? Because this sounds really bad to me:

      And now that most of her team has left and/or transferred to another manager, she’s hiring people just like herself, so the problem is getting worse.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      What’s an ED in your context? (In mine, it’s an executive director in which case I’d be running for the hills with an ED like Nancy.)

      I think you do have standing to bring this up with your manager—“Nancy’s indecisiveness is causing difficulties with ABC and resulted in significant rework on the Jones proposal. Do you have suggestions on how to handle these types of situations?”

      But also, if your manager has watched Nancy run off all those people and hasn’t done anything, I’m not optimistic that this is going to improve.

  23. Anon Transman*

    Our office has 3 interns for the summer. One, Rhonda, is an out lesbian and when I told her I’m a transman, she asked me to be her mentor. I agreed. We text via Messenger throughout the day and in the evenings, and sometimes topics from our chats come up in conversation in the office. I admit, I screwed up and did not realize for a while how the conversation and inside comments appeared to another intern, Alice. (I transitioned over a decade ago, but have never been in a position like this before, so it didn’t occur to me to consider the optics.) Alice thinks I am trying to hit on Rhonda.

    I am mostly stealth about being trans. About half the office knows, but I don’t talk about it because it isn’t relevant to my work and we are in a conservative area. So Alice has no idea that Rhonda and I are both queer. Rhonda told me that Alice has been asking her why I act the way I do towards her. She obviously isn’t going to out me, so didn’t answer. I want to be clear – Rhonda has no issues with our interactions. If she did, she would tell me. (She has called me out on other things before.)

    I am torn on how to handle this. On one hand, Rhonda’s internship ends July 30. I just need to stop the inside comments for 2 weeks and it’s over. (This is my preference.) On the other hand, the optics of this are really bad (again, my fault). What it looks like to an outsider is that a white, male professional got away with hitting on a young, female intern young enough to be his daughter. Clarifying the context would clear up the issue, but would also require me to come out to Alice, which I don’t really want to do. (Rhonda is not sure how Alice will react if I did.) Office leadership knows the entire situation, so there is no risk of backlash from them.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      And Rhonda (or you) didn’t just say to Alice that she approached you and asked for your mentorship? Being an intern’s mentor sounds pretty innocuous to me, and professional, so there’s no reason I could see to sneak around nor is there a reason not to just say that. Do you think you’re acting overly friendly to Rhonda? Overly familiar? Are your messages salacious, or way beyond work?

      1. Kesnit*

        “And Rhonda (or you) didn’t just say to Alice that she approached you and asked for your mentorship?”

        Officially, I don’t know about the conversation between Rhonda and Alice. I suspect Rhonda didn’t want to risk having to go into WHY she asked me (specifically) to be her mentor.

        “Do you think you’re acting overly friendly to Rhonda? Overly familiar? Are your messages salacious, or way beyond work?”

        Beyond work appropriate, possibly. Having said that, the mentor/mentee relationship has drifted into a friendship. She made a comment to me a few days ago (during an evening chat) that maybe had an overtone. (It came across as a joke about me being trans.) I’m not sure because it was via text and could have been intended more innocent that it seemed.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I think it’s okay to pull back and keep it professional from here. The realization that the text, taken out of context, would look pretty bad should be the signal to retreat a little and keep everything above board. Sadly there is an unfortunate context to out-of-work communications between older mentors and impressionable young people (I am a cis woman and I have pulled back from text relationships with much younger male interns. Nothing happened or would have happened, but it might have seemed off, and honestly I was more valuable to the intern as a helpful professional contact than as a buddy to gab with – it was selfish on my part to let the friendship develop in another direction).

    2. Tuesday*

      I don’t think you have to come out to Alice in order to explain that you’ve been mentoring Rhonda. Alice might still take away from that what she will, but that’s on her. She’s an intern – she doesn’t get to make you feel bad about your professional behavior. If she insinuates that you’re hitting on Rhonda, shut it down immediately.

      That said… if this is the kind of internship that might result in a full-time job for the interns at the end, I can see that Alice might feel it’s unfair for you to be providing extra guidance to one intern but not the others. Is that kind of thing normal at your company? Has Alice also had an opportunity to find a mentor?

      I’m not sure how it is at other companies but this relationship seems strange to me. Mentor/mentee relationships are usually for full-time employees and not interns, no? It’s going to seem like you’re playing favorites if you’re so open about how close you are with Rhonda, even if there is a legitimate need for you to mentor her in terms of navigating the workplace while queer.

      1. Kesnit*

        “If she insinuates that you’re hitting on Rhonda, shut it down immediately.”

        She hasn’t said anything directly to me. I’m only hearing about it from Rhonda.

        “if this is the kind of internship that might result in a full-time job for the interns at the end, I can see that Alice might feel it’s unfair for you to be providing extra guidance to one intern but not the others.”

        It isn’t that kind of internship. Alice has 1 more year of school. Rhonda has 2 more. In theory, the company we work for could offer a previous intern a full-time job after graduation, but there is no guarantee. And if a job did come up, it may not be in this office. (Alice interned in another of our offices last summer.) I’m pretty sure Rhonda does not intend to go into the exact type of work we do.

        “Has Alice also had an opportunity to find a mentor?”

        Through no fault of her own, not as much as would be normal for an intern. There are 7 professionals in this office, counting me. Alice (and Rhonda) cannot stand one of them. Two are very new and not in a position to mentor interns. One of the others (who normally would be active in mentoring) has been focusing on getting one of the new ones up to speed. One would be a great mentor, but he needs to be asked and can seem stand-offish at first. (I have seen Alice in his office, so I know she has been working with him some.) I don’t know if Alice reached out to the last one. I’ve not seen Alice working with her, but maybe she has and I just didn’t notice.

        “Mentor/mentee relationships are usually for full-time employees and not interns, no?”

        The field we’re in deals a lot with networking and guiding new people along. Although Rhonda’s internship is ending, it would be expected for me to continue to give advice. (I would do that, even if Rhonda and I had not become friends.)

        “It’s going to seem like you’re playing favorites if you’re so open about how close you are with Rhonda, even if there is a legitimate need for you to mentor her in terms of navigating the workplace while queer.”

        I don’t think anyone except Alice noticed how close Rhonda and I are.

        1. Tex*

          Maybe you should hold mentoring sessions for all the interns. Besides optics, it’s mildly unfair if one intern gets mentoring and inside info and the others are sort of floundering along if no one else can take it one. Maybe use the last two weeks to get to know them all better and answer questions in depth about the field and options open to them. It shouldn’t take away from your relationship with Rhonda, but add some additional support to the two interns for the remaining weeks.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “I don’t think anyone except Alice noticed how close Rhonda and I are.”

          People generally notice this stuff in a heartbeat. I think reframing here might help. Assume they all noticed and go from there.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Is it possible to say to Alice ‘Rhonda asked me if I would mentor her whie she was doing her internship, and I agreed. It’s included our having conversation s separate from those at the office and directly about work.’

      (also, while of course you should not out yourself in any way at all if you are not comfortable doing so but is there any middle ground – you mentioned that Rhonda is out – would there be any expalination that indicatedthat you had some common ground due to being quer, without having to explicitly come out as trans ?)

      1. Kesnit*

        “Is it possible to say to Alice ‘Rhonda asked me if I would mentor her whie she was doing her internship, and I agreed. It’s included our having conversation s separate from those at the office and directly about work.’”

        Huh… Maybe…

        “(also, while of course you should not out yourself in any way at all if you are not comfortable doing so but is there any middle ground – you mentioned that Rhonda is out – would there be any expalination that indicatedthat you had some common ground due to being quer, without having to explicitly come out as trans ?)”

        Not that I can think of. I’m married to a woman, which removes a lot of the possible options for other queer identities. The option did cross my mind to tell Alice that Rhonda and I are both fish out of water in this conservative place because I’m a practicing pagan (which I’ve talked out) .

        1. Mac*

          If anyone challenges your queerness or asks nosy details, I feel like “Plenty of people in hetero-looking relationships are queer” is a great way to end the conversation, and has the added benefit of being just generally a truth that more people should keep in mind in the workplace.

    4. pancakes*

      I’ll think about it, but my first inclination is to say that you’re being a little too hard on yourself about what this “looks like.” From what you’ve said it sounds like you haven’t done anything inappropriate and Alice is out over her skis a bit. Men and women can text one another and be work friends without having an affair or trying to have an affair, and who appointed Alice Rhonda’s protector? When you say “inside comments,” are those only from Alice or is she trying to stir the pot with others? With only two weeks to go maybe no one needs to do anything, but maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Rhonda to say something to Alice along the lines of, “It’s good that you’re looking out for me but Anon and I are friends outside of work, and I don’t want you to think there’s anything worrisome about that to me.”

      1. Kesnit*

        “From what you’ve said it sounds like you haven’t done anything inappropriate and Alice is out over her skis a bit.”

        As far as I can tell, I haven’t said or done anything inappropriate. Unless becoming friends with an intern is inappropriate, anyway.

        “Men and women can text one another and be work friends without having an affair or trying to have an affair, and who appointed Alice Rhonda’s protector?”

        As best as I can tell, Alice does not know WHY I have some inside jokes with Rhonda and is trying to figure it out. What she sees is an older, white professional man giving attention to a young, female intern. Sadly, the field we are in has its fair share of creepy old men. She made an assumption based on what she saw.

        “When you say ‘inside comments,’ are those only from Alice or is she trying to stir the pot with others?”

        The inside comments are comments I made to Rhonda about a previous conversation we’d had or a laugh I made about talking about one of my ex-girlfriends. (Said relationship was pre-transition, when I was a lesbian. Rhonda knew that.)

        “With only two weeks to go maybe no one needs to do anything, but maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Rhonda to say something to Alice”

        I thought of asking Rhonda to talk to Alice, but that’s asking her to fix my mistake.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think it would be terrible to ask Rhonda to say something to Alice because Alice has approached her about all this. I get why it would feel off to try that, though. I like the idea you mentioned in another comment about telling Alice that you and Rhonda are both fish out of water.

    5. Another trans dude*

      There’s no reason you should have to out yourself here, and I don’t think it really changes things on the ground nearly as much as you think it will. I’m pretty hard-pressed to imagine comments or re-visited topics of conversation with an intern that would be inappropriate coming from a cis man but perfectly fine coming from a trans man.

      What you’ve said is that the optics, to Alice, are that you were hitting on Rhonda. Mentoring conversations really shouldn’t look like flirtation, regardless of the genders or orientations of the participants. So we’re sitting somewhere on the spectrum between “Alice is massively overreacting to an appropriate, objectively normal office interaction” and “you’ve said or done something that was inappropriate for the office.”

      If the slider is closer to the “Alice is overreacting” end, then a simple comment from Rhonda that you’re mentoring her, you two occasionally chat outside of hours, and nothing is going on is all the answer that is needed, and your leadership should be able to back that up. If it’s closer to the “you were inappropriate” end, then you should own up to it, apologize to both Rhonda and Alice, and rethink your behavior over the remaining internship time and also going forward.

      1. Anon Transman*

        “I’m pretty hard-pressed to imagine comments or re-visited topics of conversation with an intern that would be inappropriate coming from a cis man but perfectly fine coming from a trans man.”

        It’s the context. Alice does not know what the connection is between Rhonda and me. All she knows is what she sees and the sad reality of creepy old men in our profession.

        “What you’ve said is that the optics, to Alice, are that you were hitting on Rhonda. Mentoring conversations really shouldn’t look like flirtation, regardless of the genders or orientations of the participants.”

        Nothing has been said in front of others that would be inappropriate for a work relationship.

        “So we’re sitting somewhere on the spectrum between ‘Alice is massively overreacting to an appropriate, objectively normal office interaction’ and “’you’ve said or done something that was inappropriate for the office.’”

        It’s closer to the first than the second. I know I’ve made comments that indicate a friendship outside of the mentor/mentee, but I don’t recall anything that comes close to the second.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      She obviously isn’t going to out me, so didn’t answer.
      If Rhonda had said “I asked AT to be my mentor our first week, that’s why we have the extra texting thing” it would have clarified for Alice whether she was right to be picking up A Vibe. (Is Alice aware that AT knows Rhonda is an out lesbian? That would color how she views their extra interactions.) This message from Rhonda is the best way to hit your goal of cooling Alice’s interpretation of your interactions with Rhonda.

      Outing anyone as queer doesn’t need to come into it–there’s a professional relationship available as an explanation.

      The underlying issue is whether Alice or the third intern had similar opportunities from you–having a special relationship with one of three interns is always going to look odd and like there must be some deeper backstory. Even people who know and empathize with the backstory may look askance at the special favors aspect.

      1. Anon Transman*

        “Is Alice aware that AT knows Rhonda is an out lesbian?”

        Yes, she knows I (and everyone else in the office) know Rhonda is a lesbian. She’s very open about her female partner – including having a picture of them as the profile pic on her Facebook.

        “The underlying issue is whether Alice or the third intern had similar opportunities from you–having a special relationship with one of three interns is always going to look odd and like there must be some deeper backstory.”

        We have interns every summer. In the past, I’ve mostly kept my distance because I never had a reason to do more than professionally polite. This year, I’ve worked with all the interns, but I got closer to Rhonda because (1) she sought me out, and (2) we actually have more in common than just both being queer.

        “Even people who know and empathize with the backstory may look askance at the special favors aspect.”

        I would not classify it as “special favors.” Professionally, I didn’t give Rhonda any opportunities that I didn’t give Alice or the third. (I did drop my research projects on Rhonda, but those are expected work for interns, all the professionals do it, and Rhonda is a little more limited on what she can do because she is a year behind the others in school).

        1. Gerald*

          If mentoring didn’t convey benefits to the mentee, no one would do it. So Rhonda is getting something Alice isn’t. It doesn’t sound like that’s anyone’s fault, but perhaps this is a prompt to advocate for more structured mentorship opportunities or access to affinity groups for all interns. And, as one trans man to another, our queerness and history of female socialization doesn’t absolve us from having to pay attention to gendered dynamics. You didn’t do anything wrong, but maybe next time you can handle this a little bit differently, including being careful of friendship dynamics when there’s power involved. Save the friendship for when the internship is over—you can be plenty friendly before that, just in an explicitly professional way.

    7. Anonomon*

      I get why you’re concerned about the optics but why would your race matter? If it doesn’t, why mention it unless I’m missing something?

      1. Migraine Month*

        I think it’s clarifying privilege/relative power in the situation. He’s already noted the fact that she is an intern, younger, female and openly queer.

        It’s true that, as a white woman, I’m more likely to be believed if I accuse a black man of misconduct than if I accuse a white man of misconduct. There’s a reason Karens don’t call the police on rich white men.

        1. Anonomon*

          His privilege and power comes in the form of him being put in charge of three interns not some sort abstract racial implications. I don’t really see how being a trans man really matters either since impropriety can come from anywhere and anyone can be the victim. Honestly if he is accused of anything then he should tell them that those accusations are false and shut it down hard but that’s just me. As far as optics go; who cares. Anyone trying to make assumptions when there are older (more experienced) men mentoring a younger (and presumably less experienced) woman are a part of the problem. Unfortunately what happens is that men pull out of mentoring women and they miss out. If the OP has the mental bandwidth to stand his ground then he should do so.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think this stuff seems nearly as abstract to people living it. I also don’t think “who cares” is a good approach to the question about optics here. Clearly a few people in Anon’s office care, including Anon.

            “Unfortunately what happens is that men pull out of mentoring women . . .” Eh? As far as I can tell the men inclined to announce that they go about their business that way — i.e., the ones who seem to think women share a single, deeply untrustworthy hive mind — are the same ones we’re better off without. I don’t agree it’s unfortunate, to the extent it happens. It doesn’t seem to happen often where I am, which I’m realizing I’m grateful for because I don’t want to be spending time around men who feel hopelessly lost about their own ability to behave appropriately. What you are describing is basically the type of person who sees himself as eternally at Amateur Hour.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I know that in reality you aren’t hitting on Rhonda, but knowing that you’re trans wouldn’t automatically mean you *couldn’t* be hitting on Rhonda. So I’m not sure there’s any need to out yourself because it doesn’t prove anything anyway.

      The extent to which you are texting Rhonda, especially outside of work, sounds like it goes way beyond standard professional mentoring. It’s obvious to Alice that you are favoring Rhonda. Whatever reason she attributes that to, it is still affecting the dynamics and morale in the office.

      If you supervise the interns in any capacity it really isn’t okay to pursue a personal friendship while they work there, for all the reasons Alison has discussed about why managers can’t be friends with the people they manage. If you had longer to reset the dynamics, you could make sure to include Alice and put some effort into her professional development (especially since you say she hasn’t found a mentor and needs one).

      As it stands, I think the best you can do is let Alice know that you’re mentoring Rhonda and then dial the in-jokes during work right back to zero. In terms of optics or what Alice may think about your motivations, I think you’re just going to have to take the hit on that one. Sometimes in life people think badly of us and misinterpret our actions, or they think a relatively minor mistake (like favoritism) is more serious than it really is. And sometimes trying to fix it just makes it worse, so you live with it.

      1. Anon Transman*

        “I know that in reality you aren’t hitting on Rhonda, but knowing that you’re trans wouldn’t automatically mean you *couldn’t* be hitting on Rhonda. So I’m not sure there’s any need to out yourself because it doesn’t prove anything anyway.”

        It’s to give a context for what Rhonda and I have in common.

        “The extent to which you are texting Rhonda, especially outside of work, sounds like it goes way beyond standard professional mentoring.”

        The content of the texts (other than possibly the one she sent me a few days ago) isn’t unprofessional, but we do text more than may be expected.

        “If you supervise the interns in any capacity”

        I don’t, any more than any of the other professional staff. There are two who would normally be the primary supervisors (the office chief and the deputy). Rhonda and Alice loath the chief and the deputy has been focused on training one of the new professional staff. I didn’t set out to mentor any of the interns. (I never have in the past.)

        “you could make sure to include Alice and put some effort into her professional development (especially since you say she hasn’t found a mentor and needs one).”

        I have been actively trying to include Alice in things I do with Rhonda in the office. (Due to spacing issues, they are both set up in our conference room, so talking to one usually gets both.)

        “dial the in-jokes during work right back to zero.”

        That is my plan for the next 2 weeks.

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          This seems like it’s in a really murky area and the fact that you haven’t discussed the actual content of the text (that I’ve seen, my apologies if I missed it) further reinforces this. Your responses seem a little defensive, which is understandable, but it does seem like this has veered off into being an inappropriate relationship.

          I used to oversee the internship program at a university and interns are there to learn, whether you are directly supervising them or not, I would argue that you are in a role with some level of power over them and need to be aware of that.

          Based on what you’ve said and hinted at, this is something I’d be uncomfortable with if I had interns in this situation and it has nothing to do with the connection you have over her being a lesbian and you being a transman, I would be wary of any shared connection that led to one intern receiving opportunities another didn’t.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, agreed. You may not have real power but there is perceived power here and that is what is being questioned.

            So are you available by text (etc) for Alice and the third intern during off hours? Do you let them know that?

            She asked you to mentor her. Are interns told to ask people? How would the other two interns know that they could ask you also?

            In these situations a good rule of thumb is, “If I can’t do this for everyone, then I can’t do it for just one person.” AKA, “Can I do this for everyone?” I used this question often when I was supervising. I also learned that it’s a good question when cohorts ask favors also.

            It might be a good idea to have the boss assign interns to people in the future, so the intern isn’t left to their own devices and the employee knows they are responsible for this person.

            To be very clear, I believe you. I believe everything you have written here. I also know that this is a trap and the trap is that someone else cries foul. The real problem is the level of familiarity with each other, people pick up on that so fast. It’s almost irrelevant that you are platonic friends, what is relevant is the disparity in inputs people received.

            I’d recommend dropping the personal conversations for two weeks. But I doubt that is realistic. So my next suggestion- which is worth all of 2 cents– is to limit conversation at work to work topics. Alice is saying you are not inclusive. Dial back the topics/statements that telegraph the two of you are friends. People can quickly feel like outsiders and feel that their noses are being rubbed in that fact.

            Going forward, try not to befriend any more interns. Try to keep in mind the power imbalance- real or perceived- it’s gonna be a problem.

    9. Maggie*

      Well what would be clearing up? You are a professional man that is texting and talking with a younger female intern. I don’t think because you were a woman 10 years ago that that makes it appropriate. I would dial it way back and then use this as a learning experience

  24. Hotdog not dog*

    Our company is still doing stacked rankings for performance reviews. I cannot even express in words how much I hate that!
    Managers are required to have only one Outperform, at least one Needs Improvement, and then divide the rest between Inconsistently Meets, Meets, and Consistently Meets. I am currently a high level individual contributor on a team of 5…which means each of us will get a different ranking. As the second-newest member of the team, I have been assigned Inconsistently Meets, since my manager uses seniority to determine ranking.
    This is so demoralizing and a waste of everyone’s time. The company will not change this; it’s been in place for years and TPTB think it’s fabulous. Otherwise I love my job, but I can’t help having hurt feelings over an invalid and unfair performance review. (The words are glowing…managers are also required to write a minimum word count paragraph with specifics, and if you read what my boss wrote before you saw the Inconsistently Meets you’d think I was a rock star.)
    Anyone else dealing with this kind of bs have suggestions on staying focused on getting my work done today while I really want to just scream?

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      Focus on what your boss said in your evaluation, not the rating itself. That’s really the only thing that matters here, assuming this doesn’t mean you get put on a PIP. (You aren’t being put on a PIP, right? Inconsistently Meets would be a 2 at my company and would be an automatic PIP, but we don’t used stacked ranking, either.) It sounds like your performance meets or exceeds expectations. Since the entire company uses this ranking system, it’s not like a potential future manager or promotion committee or whatever is going to have concerns or even care about your rating, only your performance. (Which is why stacked ranking is absurd, but that’s not what you asked.)

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Thankfully, only Needs Improvement gets a PIP. I’m spared that at least! Last year I was the new kid, got the NI, and my PIP was 30 days to complete an online training program. It took me less than a week to finish. It doesn’t impact raises, but those are capped at around 2% anyway. It will really only matter if there are layoffs. They calculate based on a combination of seniority and performance, which for most people is the same thing.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        It’s also terrible math. The central limit theorem only applies to samples of sufficient size (30 is a typical number). Trying to bell curve 5 people is mathematically irresponsible, and small number statistics are even harder to do right than the regular kind.

    2. Purple Cat*

      SCREAMS in solidarity. I would be livid if I had to deal with this.
      Most important question – do these rankings actually impact your merit increase for the year. If not, just do your best to ignore the numbers and focus on the words.
      If so, you have a major problem on your hands. Your pay is being short-changed simply because you’re the newest member of the team? WTF is that nonsense?

    3. Lorac*

      I have no suggestions for how to deal with it, but I heard that it’s gotten to the point that some managers will deliberately hire a sacrificial scapegoat and assign them the worst rating to protect their usual team.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve heard this too! I think it was a tech company that rhymes with Glamazon. They deliberately hire people they plan to fire in the review.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          I know Microsoft used to be notorious for doing stacked ranking, and it was a very big deal when they stopped using it. (It was not actually working at getting rid of people who were ineffective at their jobs, but very good at making people compete internally against coworkers on other teams to the detriment of creating good products.)

          1. Sloanicota*

            Right! I even remember hearing about full-on sabotage, which is kind of the natural result of this kind of dog-eats-dog scarcity mindset. If your coworkers are your competition and someone *has* to be fired or put on a PIP every year, people are going to start altering records, slow walk things others need, refusing to help complete work, etc etc. – I don’t see how it benefits an office to be run this way.

    4. Paris Geller*

      No suggestions, just empathy! At my last job, we didn’t have “stacked rankings”, but we did have evaluations on a bell curve, and yes, it did impact our raises. I had a killer year and my boss wanted to give me the highest rating, my GRANDBOSS wanted to give me the highest rating, but the GREAT-GRANDBOSS (who had never met me or seen any of my work!) made them lower it.

      The day that happened I committed to doing only my job and nothing else and started job searching. Then the pandemic happened, so it took a year longer than I wanted, but it finally happened. So sending you lots of solidarity. It’s such a morale killer.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Lol, here they stopped calling it a bell curve because so many people were upset, so they changed nothing except now they call it stacked ranking.

        1. PollyQ*

          Which is really a misnomer. “Stacked ranking” means that each person is given a ranking in comparison to everyone else, but it wouldn’t preclude half of the team being rated “Outperform.” “Forced bell curve” actually describes what they’re doing, although nomenclature is the least of the issues.

          1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

            I mean, if you had a truly random sample of at least 30 people, any given characteristic should more or less form a bell curve. But one person can’t give meaningful evaluations to 30+ people, and I really hope nobody is picking people at random to be employees in a specific department. (If they are, that manager/company is probably getting what they deserve. As is any company using stacked ranking that has all their best employees leave voluntarily for companies with effective performance reviews.)

    5. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Mathematically and logistically, stacked ranking makes no sense. It’s premised on the idea that in a random group of people, their ratings will fall into some sort of bell curve. (I know you said they stopped calling it a bell curve, but that’s what stack ranking is based on.) For this to work, you need a random sample of at least 30 people. However, in general a person can only really effectively manage 5-7 people if they want to be able to give accurate reviews. So stacked ranking is only going to provide accurate results if you’re applying it to a group that has simultaneously thirty or more people and seven or fewer people. And all those people must have been chosen randomly, rather than through an effective interview process designed to hire people who will be good at their jobs.

      Not to mention that even if it did work, and you got rid of the bottom 10% every year, unless you’re replacing them with people equally bad (why would you do that?), then every year the people at the bottom are better than the people at the bottom last year were, and pretty soon you’ll be getting rid of good employees for their failure to be perfect!

      1. Paris Geller*

        pretty soon you’ll be getting rid of good employees for their failure to be perfect!

        100%. Pretty much what happened to me and my department in my last job. From what I’ve heard, the great resignation is hitting them particularly hard. Also didn’t help that workplace paid way under market value to begin with.

    6. Stoppin' by to chat*

      That’s awful…I’m so sorry! I work for a company that got rid of stack ranking some years ago (think largest software company in the world), and that this is still happening is unacceptable. Are you open to changing employers? Otherwise it sounds like if the actual content of the review is glowing, maybe it’s understood that the actual rank is meaningless, and just accept that as a condition of the job? But of course it’s demoralizing, and would make me not want to work as hard for sure!

  25. Glyph*

    What is the etiquette for sending a follow-up/thank-you email in response to an interview? I’ve been applying for new jobs for a little while and getting interviews via phone/Zoom, but I’ve been waiting and leaving the ball in the employer’s court after the interview is concluded.

    1. PollyQ*

      You should definitely be sending a thank-you/follow-up email! Alison’s got good advice about how to compose those in the archives (which I’m too lazy to Google right now ;-) ).

    2. Firm Believer*

      You really should write a thank you email if you are truly interested in the position. With so many jobs and candidates out there right now it’ll help you to be remembered and show that you are interested!

    3. anonymous73*

      I used to send emails after an interview. I don’t bother anymore. I’ve been on the hiring end recently, and quite honestly I didn’t care one way or the other if they sent a follow up thank you. Currently I only send one if I’m really interested in the job – it might make a difference if their choice is down to you and one other who have similar qualifications.

    4. Alexis Rosay*

      I only send one if I can make it genuine and interesting. A rote thank-you note isn’t worth much, but if I really appreciated an insight the interviewer shared or have some valuable follow-up to add, I’ll send that along.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Often there’s a milestone of passing probation. If this workplace doesn’t have probation periods, 1 year is no longer new by most standards. Perhaps in a very seasonal role (where there’s a big event annually or a big rush of work once a year), you need to cycle through twice before no longer being considered new in the workplace.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Depends on the job. I’ve been in my current role for 18 months and while I don’t feel “new” every day, there’s still a lot to learn. Plus most of my co-workers have been here for over 10 years. I was once told I could claim “new” for at least the first two years.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends on the job, including the rate of turnover and when the next person joins nd becomes the new one!

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yes, this is definitely a key factor! I was “the new person” for an unusually long time, due in large part to COVID hitting.

    4. PassThePeasPlease*

      Depends on the job and culture of the office for me, some places I’ve worked have been very into lots of training and getting set up over a period of time while others just kind of throw you into things on Day 1. For the individual I stopped considering myself “new” when I could complete about 75% of my duties without major oversight from a manager. But for the group I’d say it’s closer to 6 months for more experienced employees and closer to a year for new grads/industry switchers.

    5. irene adler*

      Depends upon the company. My friend works at a company where the ‘newbies’ are those who have only been there 20 years. A company I worked at considered folks at 3 months on the job to be veterans.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      It might have a lot to do with the kind of turnover at the company, in addition to how long it takes to be able to work independently (without training).

      For example, at my previous company the running joke was that you were a “new” employee for the first 3-5 years because the average tenure was close to 20 years. The work was also heavily dependent on accumulated subject matter expertise which takes years to acquire, and typically it takes 3-5 years to get a first promotion.

      I would imagine at a company where you can expect promotions every year, or has work that is less dependent on accumulated knowledge, you stop being “new” within the first year.

    7. Canonical23*

      We tell staff that we don’t expect them to have the core foundation knowledge mastered until they’ve been working for a year. While a lot of jobs have *more* to learn even after a year, knowing what the day-to-day consistent tasks are and how to do them should be old hat after 6 months to a year.

    8. M.*

      Just in terms of a descriptor, I would probably say that I’d stop consider someone “new” around 10-12 months after starting. In terms of abilities—at least in my office—I would say around 1/1.5 years.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Heck if I know! I feel like I’m still very inexperienced with my job but now we’ve got summer interns and they’re looking to ME for help and advice (and the rest of my start class, not just me).

    10. Campfire Raccoon*

      You’re new until someone calls you out on it. I tell people they can say they’re new for two years. But if your customers can recognize your voice/face you don’t get to be new anymore.

    11. OyHiOh*

      When two interns show up 4 days after you, and a new FTE the Monday after. Why yes, NewJob is spooling up capacity rapidly.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      You’ve gotten a variety of really good answers.

      I’d like to add one more and it’s just something I have noticed. I stopped being new once I handled a large project or successfully resolved some type of crisis. When people see you rolling up your sleeves and digging in along with them, they can start to see you as one of the group.

    13. LittleMarshmallow*

      When the next new employee comes in. That’s been my experience anyway. Haha!

      Otherwise when there’s a long space between new people, it seems more like when the new person bonds with the team and is generally self sufficient (has learned company and dept culture, no longer has to ask for help frequently, knows names, has learned more than 75% if the company’s FLA’s, etc). It can vary a lot. I’ve seen people get there in less than a month and I’ve seen people quit before they made it.

  26. WheresMyPen*

    I have an interview with a company I love next week! I recently changed positions (not by choice) and have been pretty bored and unchallenged in my new job, and a few weeks ago saw a great position with a company I interned for after university. I’m so excited and really hoping I get this job, so want to make a great impression at the interview. I haven’t had an interview in three years so am a bit rusty. Anyone got any great interview prep tips besides using the STAR method to talk about skills on the JD and having some questions to ask the interviewers (including Alison’s magic question)?

    1. Hen in a Windstorm*

      My husband has been interviewing lately for the first time in about 3 years also. He made sure to write out his answers to all of the behavioral questions and then practice them so he could say them off the cuff without too much uh, um, backtracking, etc. Then in addition to the magic question, he also used a question someone here shared recently, “Do you have any concerns about me I can address?” It’s been great to hear “no”!

    2. Jora Malli*

      Check the database list at your local public library. A lot of them have job search databases that include practice interviews. They’re done by text rather than voice, but it’s a great way to freshen up your skills and see what kinds of questions you’re likely to be asked and get feedback on how your answers might be interpreted by your interviewer.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Download Alison’s Interview Guide. I just wrapped up interviewing for the first time after 7 years, so I feel your pain!
      In addition to focusing on the job description, also make sure to study your OWN resume. Feel comfortable that you can talk about any of your bullet points and give examples for each. These accomplishments will highlight the skills that the potential employer wants.
      Also, have the confidence to treat the interview as a 2-way conversation. Setting a tone in the interview of teamwork and collaboration helps to make people think of you as part of the team and really how it would be to work with you.
      If there is any big news that has happened in the department or company – ask about it! What are the plans for X, how did Y impact things? They’ll like to know that you’re engaged, care, and have done some research.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        Thanks for the advice, this is all really helpful, and I’d forgotten about Alison’s guide! Off to download it now

  27. Anon for this*

    Found this gem and putting it up for commentary. Via NPR:

    Fed Chair Jerome Powell says he and his colleagues are trying to stabilize a job market that is “unsustainably hot.” Wages have been rising at a fast clip in an economy where the unemployment rate is at 3.6%, which is very close to its pre-pandemic low.

    “You have two job vacancies essentially for every person actively seeking a job, and that has led to a real imbalance in wage negotiating,” Powell said when answering questions at a press conference two weeks ago.
    The Fed chair is aware of the pain that will be inflicted on more people as he wrestles with inflation and tries to tame it.

    “We don’t seek to put people out of work,” he said. “But we also think that you really cannot have the kind of labor market we want without price stability.”

    Wonder what kind of labor market he wants? Guessing it’s one where employers have all the power, like in the good ol’ days.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, can’t have workers actually being able to demand living wages now…. Yikes!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This isn’t something the Fed can fix. Interest rate manipulation is simply not the correct tool to address this problem (if it ever was is a macroeconomic debate for another day).

      You’re not going to get price stability because there is no data to suggest that credit is what’s fueling demand right now. Lack of supply is what’s fueling demand and de-incentivizing spending does nothing to fix that. Economic estimates say that all this is going to do is create unemployment for no reason.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        And by “problem” I don’t directly mean worker power I mean understaffing and supply chain issues and the actual economic issues occurring. Making jobs competitive so people actually want to work them is in fact the solution.

        1. A different anon for this*

          Yeah, it feels to me like the Fed is desperately hoping for “one easy trick!” to fix everything.

        2. Hen in a Windstorm*

          I agree with you in a non-inflationary time, but I think he is picturing the wage-price spiral of the 70s. Prices are constantly increasing, so wages increase, but the businesses can’t keep up. If companies can’t afford to pay people enough to keep up with cost of living, then either the business folds, or people can’t feed themselves.

          Since I think it’s all supply-chain driven, I don’t think the Fed needs to do/can do much about it, but he has to talk to the press because he’s getting a lot of flack about not doing enough to fight inflation.

          1. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

            Your last sentence nails it, IMO. The inflation spike has little or nothing to do with policy and a ton to do with other factors — supply chain, the war in Ukraine, and opportunistic price gouging are the top three I’d name — so trying to bring it down with policy seems pretty futile.

          2. pancakes*

            The idea that “the businesses can’t keep up” is somewhat undercut by the number of businesses reporting record profits, no? I’ll link to something about that separately. A quote in the meantime:

            “The analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission filings for 100 US corporations found net profits up by a median of 49%, and in one case by as much as 111,000%. Those increases came as companies saddled customers with higher prices and all but ten executed massive stock buyback programs or bumped dividends to enrich investors.

            In earnings calls, executives detailed how even as demand and profits rose post-vaccine, they passed on most or all inflationary costs to customers via price increases, and some took the opportunity to add more on top. Margins – the share of sales converted into profits – also improved for the majority of the companies analyzed by the Guardian.

            Economists who reviewed the data say it’s more evidence of a clear reality: Consumers are taking a financial hit as companies and shareholders profit or are largely shielded.”

            1. Sloanicota*

              “Consumers are taking a financial hit as companies and shareholders profit or are largely shielded.” – maybe I’ve gotten cynical, but this is exactly my take. I’m pretty sure some of the “inflation” is basically price gouging as companies use the opportunity to recover from the pandemic. In true American fashion I assume the money will end up in the pockets of the rich and powerful, but apparently the little people are going to have to suffer through increased unemployment to help the stock market ??

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                It is absolutely price gouging. The inflation numbers do not justify the price increases we’re seeing, and we aren’t seeing any particular correlates in areas that have raised minimum wage. Bad people taking advantage of a bad situation.

    3. Gracely*

      I mean, the simple fact is that the only tool he has is a hammer, so that’s all he’s got to use. And this situation needs, like, an entire hardware store, or at least some specially-sized drill bits. (The fed should’ve been raising interest rates slowly and steadily years ago, so they wouldn’t end up with these herky-jerky increases that are a shock to parts of the economy. But that’s neither here nor there.)

      A minimum wage increase would probably help to stabilize some of this on the lower end of job creation–because right now, people are holding out for more $ in some areas that can’t sustain it, and it feels like there’s no ceiling for jobs that really should have one. If employees knew that everyone was getting at least a decent minimum wage where they are, they’d bounce around a bit less. If the businesses in those areas had to face that they can’t actually pay their employees a livable minimum wage, they’d have to close shop. That would, theoretically, free up the supply (both of employees and of goods) from that location to other, better-paying locations. Instead, we get businesses trying to scrape by with too-few employees and continually open/revolving job positions, constantly not having enough supply. I mean, honestly–if your business can’t afford to pay your staff $12/hr in this economy, you need to cut your losses and move on. It’s not that people don’t want to work–it’s that they don’t want to work for YOU at the price you’re paying.

      And if we could de-couple health insurance from jobs, that would go a long way towards helping employers be able to offer better wages to higher income workers, grow smaller businesses that can’t afford to pay healthcare if they get any bigger, and free entrepreneurs to create businesses that could solve some of the problems/gaps in our economy.

      But the Fed can’t do any of that. Congress would have to. There are laws and regulations that would need to be passed, or reinstated. Monopolies that need to be busted, etc. New priorities made based on reality and the future rather than wishful thinking and “how it’s always been.”

      And that’s by no means everything that needs fixing, but the main point is, there is a lot of things that have gotten out of whack, and anyone expecting the Fed to be able to fix it is out of touch with reality.

  28. work, interrupted*

    My kids and I caught covid at an awkward time, a week away from an important deadline at work. My boss is the only person who knows how to do the work and we were on such a tight timeline that I doubt he’ll be able to cover, there was just too much left to do. He has always been very reasonable with work life balance and results over butts in seats, but he was NOT happy and hinted that he wanted me to try to keep working. I told him that wasn’t possible, but I don’t feel like he’ll be ok with that answer. What do you think I could do to smooth things over? The reason it’s not possible is I have two small children, one with special needs and serious behavior problems, so it takes both my husband and me to care for them when they’re home. We have nobody who can help us with covid in the house. I’m also not well enough to work from my desk, so I probably couldn’t have met the deadline even without the childcare situation. But I feel like disclosing that might not help my case. Any advice?

    1. Doctors Whom*

      I am sorry you and your kid got COVID. That really sucks and I hope that you all mend well and swiftly.

      What are you asking about disclosing?

      If you’re not well enough to work, then you aren’t well enough to work. The childcare situation has nothing to do with that. I don’t see what you’d need to worry about disclosing. You’re too sick to work. The childcare situation has nothing to do with how sick you are, and including that in the conversation will simply muddle things.

      Do you have policies on COVID related sick leave? I would start with your HR, assuming this is not one of those 10 person companies where the boss is HR, the GM, and everything else.

      Good luck and I hope you are all better soon.

      1. work, interrupted*

        I could have worked from the couch some days, but not fast enough to get the work done. Maybe I’m overthinking it, that could be the answer right there. At least HR is good. We have covid leave and they set it up for me with no questions beyond dates and documenting the positive tests.

        1. Jora Malli*

          You are sick. The illness you have been diagnosed with is known to cause fatigue and difficulty concentrating. If you’re worried that telling your boss you are experiencing the symptoms of the illness he already knows you have will make him upset with you, then your boss is not a reasonable person.

    2. Tara*

      You really shouldn’t try to power through with covid – that can increase your chances of getting long covid.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There are preliminary warnings coming out of NZ and UK research-in-progress that *physical* overexertion too soon in the recovery process may increase the risk of long COVID. I have not seen anything about sedentary, mental work being a risk factor.

          But of course, if OP is just too ill that’s reason enough.

        2. WhatNoiseAnnoysAnOyster*

          It’s true. I wish I could point to papers etc but I don’t amass that stuff- However I’ve heard many doctors and other medical people (physios etc) say it. (I have Long Covid so I’ve attended a few online medical conferences about it.)

          1. WhatNoiseAnnoysAnOyster*

            Ps. Mental as well as physical work, particularly if the mental activity involves excitement or stress.

            1. pancakes*

              Research aside, it can be really hard, if not impossible, to fully concentrate on mental activity when you’re seriously ill. Even a relatively rinky-dink task can be a bit too much. Anyone expecting their employees to work through Covid at full capacity is not being at all reasonable. Some people may be able to get close, but it’s not going to be their choice whether they are or aren’t incapacitated.

    3. anonymous73*

      I don’t know what type of relationship you have with your boss, but I would be tempted to ask “If I had been in an accident would you have insisted I work from my hospital bed?” if that would make him see how ridiculous his request was. Once you’re back and recovered, I would apologize for the fact that this happened at the worst possible time, but that you only have so much control over when you and your family get sick and it was impossible for you to work during that time. And then let it go. He is the manager and it’s his job to have coverage for when others are out suddenly and if that means he has to do extra work, well that’s the price of being a manager. He may not have liked it, but it’s not fair of him to make you feel guilty because you got sick at a bad time.

      1. Mockingjay*

        anonymous73 is correct; it’s your manager’s job to find coverage. However…it sounds like the company needs a backup plan for key functions that only you and Boss perform. Bring this up when you talk to him. “Hey boss, I’m thinking we need more backup for X than just you and me. Can we train someone else on the critical bits?” Or write an SOP, if you don’t have one.

        If he’s a decent boss, he knows that you didn’t get sick on purpose, but your illness illustrated a weak spot in his management and that’s not a comfortable feeling on top of a deadline. I manage ‘up’ with bosses like these; proffer solution(s) that they can sign off on, which fix the problem or keep critical functions going.

        Best wishes on your recovery!

        1. work, interrupted*

          Thanks! I think I’ll do that. I created SOPs for all my responsibilities and documented what happens when. My boss has talked before about wanting the team to work together more (we’re extremely siloed- I have no idea what my coworkers do), so he might be receptive.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      When you talk to your boss, concentrate on the fact that YOU are sick, not your family. It’s not about taking care of them; it’s because *you* are too sick to work. It would really be better if you hadn’t mentioned childcare at all, though it sounds as though that ship has sailed.

      Even a “mild” case of COVID is still a deadly disease, with possible long term damage. (Also, a highly infectious one, if he’s wanting you to work in the office. You say “from my desk”, but it’s not clear whether that’s a home office or standard business office.) I mean, I had a boss criticize me for taking off with pneumonia during year-end close, but I already knew he was a glass bowl.

      1. work, interrupted*

        The ship has sailed, but I’ll definitely focus on my own illness when I go back. Ultimately the end result would have been similar even if I had childcare.

        I work from home, which makes the too sick to work question more complicated because I can take my laptop to bed if necessary (I have a chronic illness, so I always try to work as much as possible to minimize my frequent sick days). But I couldn’t have gotten the project done that way.

        1. WellRed*

          It shouldn’t be complicated. Working from home sick should be like if you have a cold and just didn’t have your usual energy or didn’t want to get anyone else sick, not powering through a serious illness in bed. Feel better!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          My go-to on this aspect is, “I am too sick to take proper care of myself and I sleep most of the time, so no, doing work is just not possible.”

          When he starts in with whatever, you could try to work in, “You know what is scary to me? Is that anyone of us could get flat on our backs sick at any time because of this disease.”

          All else fails, “Boss, I have exhausted myself in the time we have been on the phone here. I have to hang up because I can’t keep talking with someone. I am too exhausted. I just. can’t. do. it. I can call you back on X day at Y time.”

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Since it sounds like you are too sick to work, emphasize your sickness rather than that you need to provide childcare for sick kids. Both are true (and it completely sucks to be a caregiver for sick kids when you yourself are also sick, and I’m sorry that’s happening to you), but the reality is that you are too sick to work. Even if you had somehow managed to hire someone to take care of your sick kids (which is not a realistic plan), you would still be too sick to work. You would, presumably, prefer not to be sick and be able to work! But you’re sick.

      While needing to care for sick children is also a good reason to not be able to come into work, since it’s theoretically possible for someone other than you to be doing it your boss may not fully understand why you can’t shuffle things around since it’s a busy time at work. He should understand, because people have lives and families and that kind of thing just happens, but since you are also sick yourself there’s less arguing with that, since you cannot hire someone else to be sick on your behalf or delegate your spouse as sick in your place, so it should be more obvious to him that you cannot work.

    6. Fish Microwaver*

      You’re sick. You’re out. Haven’t we learned anything in the last two and a half years?
      I hope you and your family get well soon.

  29. Newly Anony*

    I’m an executive director at a small organization – less than 10 employees. There is no Assistant ED or other leadership role beyond service specialist. Succession training has been an ongoing struggle. I’m actively job searching.

    The personnel manual requests 60-days notice from my position, but I expect that it will take at least a month to hire someone and then they have to give notice, presumably more then 2-weeks, at their job, so it could be a month or more that the org has no leadership. I know notices aren’t required in my state/position, but I’d like to leave on good terms, as well as not leave good staff scrambling to fill out reports that seasoned directors struggle with (or whatever is due when I leave that I can’t prep ahead of time.)

    I have a good relationship with the Board, but you never know when someone will surprise you with an unreasonable opinion, so I don’t want to give notice until I have accepted a job offer. (I realized I might not be able to give 60 days notice if the new position can’t accommodate that, which will leave staff even more overwhelmed.)

    How do other EDs in small orgs handle leaving?

  30. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    Welp, it finally happened to me for the first time working from home for the last 3 years. I was on a call where everyone is muted when they join the meeting. At some point I became unmuted and didn’t realize it. We were getting an update on how covid cases are spiking quite a bit at our processing facility, which was followed by the statement that masks are still 100% optional despite that fact. It’s not unusual for me to talk to myself during these calls, and this time was no different.

    I said “Oh sure, why do something like require masks when half the f***ing facility has the plague? If I don’t come back from my training next week with covid it’ll be a f****ing miracle!” To my horror, this was followed by the meeting organizer saying “[my name], I think you’re off mute.” I wanted to yeet myself into the sun. I’m still cringing two days later.

    I did send her an IM right after the meeting apologizing profusely, and she was quite kind about it. I suspect she may have been the one who unmuted me, actually. But OMG I will never rant about ANYTHING while on a call again.

    1. Cassandra*

      I mean, if there was ever a GOOD statement to have been unmuted accidentally for… this was it. I imagine a ton of your coworkers were silently cheering you on. I would have been!

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        Yeah, it was definitely more the f-bombs than the sentiment that embarrassed me!

    2. Alice*

      You are the hero we need but don’t deserve. I hope there are no negative repercussions but bravo.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I’m thinking not as no one has said anything to me about it. If it was mentioned to my boss he’d probably give me a high-five instead of a reprimand. I’m just glad it was an internal call without customers, because using profanity on a client call is about as close to a terminatable offense as I ever want to get.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Oh my lord – I cringed in sympathy. If it helps, I agree with the sentiments you’ve said whole-heartedly and it sounds like it was something needed to hear, but this one’s a contender for mortification week next week!

      Also, whoever’s allowing masks to be mandatory in there is an idiot.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Oh no, another early submission for Mortification Week next year!
      But hey, it was on point and accurate. There are far, far worse things you could have said.

    5. Pam Adams*

      At my job, we are often Teams chatting while meeting over Zoom. Got to watch out for screen sharing!

    6. Mimmy*

      I talk to myself too during meetings and I’m ALWAYS checking to make sure I’m on mute after a couple of close calls. I can definitely understand feeling mortified; glad you have not had any negative consequences.

  31. Bananagrams*

    Over the last year I’ve become friends with two Afghan refugee families. Both families are in less than ideal financial circumstances, and really want to move from their allocated housing to neighborhoods with better schools. In each family, one of the parents is interested in home-based work, ideally with a flexible schedule. In the past they’ve done things like sewing piece work, customer service or sales calls, and crafts. They asked me for suggestions, but I’m having trouble thinking of options or even where to look or what search terms to use. Lots of employers have said they want to help refugees, particularly those from Afghanistan and Ukraine, but I’m not sure how that has translated into actually hiring refugees. I’m connected on LinkedIn to a lot of people, but I don’t know how to leverage that network until I have a specific job to ask about.

    I am hoping perhaps the wonderful Ask a Manager readers can help: what kinds of jobs might be a good option for someone looking for home-based work with flexible hours? Where should I look? If it helps, they’re both authorized to work in the country we’re located in, and one speaks both English and Farsi fluently and the other speaks Farsi fluently and English more-or-less conversationally.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Translation services over the phone? I imagine there’s some certification or screening but surely a need.

      1. OnetoFindTheGiraffe*

        I don’t know about flexibility—it’ll really depend on department—but as a state employee I know there’s a real need for translation work (as the commenter above said) in the state as well.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There are companies that offer translator services for courts. The work is done over the phone. It can be a little rough with people talking over each other or the translator, but it is a skill your friends have that can be marketable. It will require patience.

    2. Phoenix*

      There are a few home-based tailors & seamstresses in my neighborhood who advertise on Nextdoor. Could the person with experience sewing piecework do basic tailoring like hemming/mending/taking in or letting out clothes? Or perhaps they could sell sewn items on Etsy/similar?

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Is there an International Institute where you live? That’s who helps refugee families with things like employment in my city. Or do they have a Mosque they attend that might have employment outreach in the community?

      1. Bananagrams*

        One family isn’t a recent arrival, they’ve been here for a few years, so most organizations aren’t helping with those kinds of things anymore. If they were active members of a mosque that might be a useful avenue, but they aren’t. Good suggestions though, thank you!

    4. Books and Cooks*

      My SIL is Dominican born and raised, now a US citizen, and does Spanish-English translation work for various companies–she does books and other documents. I believe she works through an agency, so it might be worth checking out translation agencies in your area to see if there are any and if so, what languages they need. She does the work from home on her own time, with deadlines and such. I know she gets a lot of work from attorneys’ offices, too.

      If there is a Farsi-speaking community in the area, it might be worth calling some of the businesses in it and asking if they need any help translating, as well; there might be some small businesses that don’t want to enlist an agency or group (or aren’t aware they exist) but would be happy to give some money to a fellow Farsi speaker to do some piecemeal translation work.

      1. Bananagrams*

        Thanks! In one of the families that has been here awhile, one of the other adults is a translator! I’ll suggest these options if he hasn’t considered them.

  32. Anonymous Educator*

    Has anyone ever worked in a place that has no salary transparency…. and you (and maybe co-workers) somehow convinced management to get some salary transparency? If so, what did you do?

    If you tried and failed, I’d love to hear what that looked like, too.

    1. HowdyHelp*

      I have gotten management to do this! It was a long team process, involved with starting a DEI team and hiring a new Chief People Officer who cared about this.

      In other realms, when I have not been successful on an org-level, I work on building solidarity with coworkers. For me, this often means sharing my salary first and asking theirs.

    2. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      It’s been brought up many times at my org but I know our Head of HR has no interest in salary transparency… so at some point it’s better to move on and use your capital for other things! (Currently we’ve been able to get other things approved that are not the same but helpful in other ways… extra company holidays, summer Fridays, remote work stipends, 401k match)

  33. Misfit?*

    I’m looking for advice on what to do when you like your job well enough, but don’t really fit in with the company. I’ve been here for two years, and I’ve given up trying to be friendly, introduce myself, go to lunch/social gatherings (outside), etc., because I feel like most of the people aren’t interested in talking to me and it makes me uncomfortable. I’m sure the reason is variable, but I think it’s due to various combinations of social awkwardness, snobbery, pandemic, and probably other factors. I am leaning towards just not participating in group stuff unless I have to, but I wondered if I should communicate this to my boss? It doesn’t impact my day-to-day work, but I think it does impact my overall happiness and loyalty to my employer. I could see it being a reason to leave at some point.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Cultural fit is just as important as anything else in a job. How do the rest of your coworkers interact with each other? Are they friendly and social with each other and freeze you out or are all of them pretty reserved?

    2. Anon for This*

      Hard to say, given that I don’t know your situation, but having spent a lot of years as a woman in a male-dominated field, I totally get what you are saying about not fitting in. I toughed it out because I wasn’t going to allow them to exclude women. Unless I had a solid example of discrimination (and sometimes when I did) I was often told by my boss (OK, a succession of bosses) that he couldn’t make people like me. Are you, in some way, a one-and-only or otherwise perceived as an outsider? If so, you might have grounds to raise this with management – that you are being excluded. If not, do not assume you are the problem here – people who don’t welcome new colleagues are the problem. I’d start by skipping some group outings and see if anyone even notices. (And, I’d start looking for a new job that is a better fit.) I’m sorry.

    3. M.*

      If you don’t see any sign that it’s getting better, I think you’re absolutely entitled to look somewhere else. A workplace’s culture and whether or not you fit within it are really important—it’s where and how you spend most of your days. Our office’s culture right now is awful, and it has only gotten worse since the pandemic. I really like my team, but the larger workplace is bad and I’m definitely keeping an ear open for other opportunities within the next year or so.

    4. anonymous73*

      I think it depends on how important having a non-work connection with your colleagues is to you. At my last job my colleagues were nice enough to chat with in the office but I didn’t really enjoy hanging out with them. I’ve also had jobs where I got along great with my colleagues and enjoyed their company outside of work. But once we parted ways for other jobs, the friendships fizzled so I don’t put a lot of equity into having friends at work. But if that matters to you then it’s probably worth looking elsewhere.

      1. Angstrom*

        Same here. It’s friendly at work but I see very little socializing outside work other than the folks who already had another connection. I’ve never expected work to provide an after-hours social life.

    5. Lady_Lessa*

      This is just an observation that may or may not provide insight. We are a small company with close to half of the non-production workers being women. The building is also set up so that the 3 of us who are non-traditional( purchasing, shipping, lab) are all physically close and the others (marketing, accounting, sales support) are on the other side. (and I rarely run into the others in the single restroom.

      I am closest to the other women who are non-traditional than I am to the others. I never see them, nor do they need much or anything from me.

      Is this something that is similar to what you are seeing?

    6. Mockingjay*

      Look at it this way: they’re just not your people. That’s okay.

      Coworkers can be like neighbors; sometimes they end up being your best buds; other times, they’re just the people next door that you wave to. If you get along professionally and overall you like your job and compensation, then stay. Use the energy you’d put into the coworker relationships on interesting projects instead.

      My own observation: Our personal ‘worlds’ became very small during the pandemic. Some are happy with the shrinkage, because maintaining all these relationships – work, friends, family, social media, etc. – is exhausting but we (okay, me) didn’t realize it until lockdowns made us slow down. Others really miss the contact. It’s not right or wrong, just different than what it was before. Globally, things are still stressful. So give yourself grace. If you want a different work environment, go for it. If you stay, focus on other elements that make you happy in your job.

    7. Misfit?*

      Thank you all so much for your insight and support! I really appreciate all of the comments! I feel validated that it’s normal to feel uncomfortable about this, and that it’s up to me to decide how much it impacts me.

      I have a lot of friends and networks outside of work, so it’s not so much a desire to have work friends as much as a desire to feel less awkward when there are events (during the work day). It’s also an issue when I need to interact with people outside of my immediate (small) group. And Bunny Girl, I don’t necessarily feel frozen out, but it does feel like everyone else is friendly and social with each other!

      For now I’m going to skip anything that’s not required and see how I feel about it. And I’ll also speak with my supervisor about it in case they can offer any guidance or support.

      1. Not so cuddly*

        Honestly, I say start looking elsewhere. Even with strong social ties outside of work, that daily rejection and chafing can absolutely wear you down. I stuck it out way too long in a similar situation, and it wrecked my self esteem and probably cost me career advancement (my company was VERY chummy and the social aspect very much played into promotions and opportunities). Once I finally got out and moved to a company where I fit in better, I soared. If you have other options, I strongly urge you to explore them.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I do not have any peers in my immediate work. I have cohorts in adjacent departments. There are days where none of them speak to me just to say hi. It’s not personal they are just incredibly busy, but it can feel lonely sometimes.
      Fortunately, I have a ton of stuff to do and I just immerse myself in all the work. I go outside for breaks as I can strike up a conversation with passersby.

      If you see it as being a reason to leave in the future then now is the time to start looking. Don’t wait until you are wanting to run away from the job. This feeling will probably not get better. Deal with it now while it’s not driving you nuts.

    9. Academic Librarian too*

      Absolutely none of my co-workers at my present job ( been here ten years) are my friends. Yes, I tried. One person became a close friend after she retired.
      At my previous position MOST of my colleagues were my friends and still are- we go on vacations just to see each other, we travel to each others cities. One jumped on a plane when I had a family crises in my new city. I was at that job for 15 years.
      I think it is the culture- people in this area have families and friends who they grew up with and don’t really need new people in their circle. I’ve stopped trying.

  34. Wendy*

    I got laid off last April. The job was good, most of my coworkers were okay but the manager and supervisor were terrible. Blatant favouritism, micromanaging processes/projects they had no idea about (but were apparently in charge of!). General just shitty shitty bosses. We were a remote office about 3 hours from head office so no one from there ever knew half the stuff that was going on. They weren’t doing anything that crossed the line into breaking employment laws, but morale was so low it wasn’t funny and even when we filled in employee feedback surveys with specific examples, nothing was done.

    I moved on and now have a wonderful job with a team that appreciates my work and a boss who actually cares – plus a 30% pay rise! So I’m doing just fine. Even though they’re rubbish, I never retaliated after my lay off. I didn’t go on glassdoor or indeed to write company reviews even though I wanted to. I wanted to take the high road. Plus it would have been pretty obvious who it was.

    It’s now been over a year and one of my former coworkers posted a job ad for a position in their office. I know potential applicants will be searching online for the company and researching etc. Would it be terrible for me to finally go back and write those reviews now that I know people will be looking at them?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Go write the review, and good for you to both get a better position and to care about others going in.

    2. Emily Dickinson*

      If management is the same, go ahead, especially if you are willing to note positive aspects as well.

    3. IndyDem*

      Before you do, I’d suggest sort why you would be writing these reviews. Is it to help others, get closure for yourself, or to get some payback against those bosses? For most people it would be a blend of all three, but hopefully it’s the majority of the first two. If it’s the third mainly, I’d suggest no, because that wouldn’t help your emotional wellbeing in the long run.

    4. froodle*

      Do it. You’ll be doing a huge favour to any potential jobseeker by warning them off of these inept micromanaging nightmares.

    5. Mockingjay*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but I wrote into an Open Thread while at ExToxicJob. Company wanted to hire another for my team while we were desperately seeking to get out and we didn’t know whether to warn people off. Commenters made several good points; namely 1) the job could be a lifeline for someone needing a paycheck, or 2) the things that bothered me about the job might not be an issue to someone else.

      If you write a review, be honest with yourself about why you are writing it. Is the entire company a dumpster fire about to be investigated and people should know? Or something less; your office was not managed well which frustrated you and prevented you from doing your best work? Not all applicants check Glassdoor or review sites or give them credence. The company will still get applicants. It’s an applicant’s responsibility to vet the company, not yours.

      Maybe write it out and burn it as a catharsis. But don’t give a prior job so much thought. You took the best aspects with you to New Job; leave the rest behind.

    6. Sloanicota*

      If you are still concerned about being identified, you might deliberately put something in your review to give you plausible deniability that doesn’t detract from your comments (and obviously don’t throw anyone else under the bus either!). What you use will probably depend on the circumstances but I once listed myself as a manger – which I was – in a slightly different department that didn’t have the title of manager.

  35. Chidi has a stomach ache*

    I had the weirdest experience applying for a job in the healthcare sector the other day — after I submitted my resume/cover letter, I was required to complete two “behavioral” tests before my application was considered complete. One was a 10-min variation on something like a strenghtsfinder (thinking of the letter about the enneagram earlier this week!), but the other was a series of SAT-like math and verbal problems. I had to solve as many as possible in a 10-min timer period. Anyone encounter this before? Is this just a giant red flag?

    1. PassThePeasPlease*

      I’ve had to do these on occasion (and none of the jobs in the past I actually got used them) and my partner had to do one recently for a job they applied for. I find them more common on the bigger job boards like Indeed and less common on more industry specific ones or LinkedIn. I think they are mostly pointless and just serve as another “data point” about an applicant to show differentiation. The content is rarely relevant to the role at hand (I work in a fairly budget focused environment and can count on one hand the amount of time I had to do any math without a calculator much less SAT math).

      That said, a company is going to have a hard time if they are basing hiring decisions on these metrics and not experience and all the other things an individual brings to a team.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have been going directly to the company site and applying that way I can avoid these irrelevant tests sometimes.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I’ve had to do that in a university health care setting. On their own hiring portal, not through Indeed or anything. It was ridiculous. If it hadn’t been a situation where a friend I would love to work with invited me to apply I would not have bothered to apply at all.
      Employers need to realize they are losing good applicants over this kind of crap.

      1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

        Yeah, this was also on the healthcare system’s own portal. At that point I had done a lot of work on the resume/cover letter because the job itself would be a great fit. So it felt like a sunk cost at that point. This was earlier this week, so I don’t know if they reviewed applications yet, but I’ll be really cranky if an SAT analogy question ended up knocking me out of the running.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I won’t do it, especially the timed SAT-type ones that have nothing to do with the job. They’re discriminatory to people with anxiety and learning disabilities. If the employer insists on them, I know they probably think accommodations are a joke. That’s a guaranteed seat on the Nope Train all the way to IDon’tThinkSo Town.

        I’ve already ranted on the enneagram post about personality tests. Ugh. Just. stop.

    3. Coenobita*

      Yeah, I had to do an online math/logic test for my current job. It’s not *completely* irrelevant — my job involves a fair amount of quantitative problem-solving — but it’s not like I sit at my desk doing SAT math questions. I think it was part of a push to remove specific educational requirements from our job postings, which I completely support, but (1) SAT-style test questions like the ones I answered are also barriers to equity and (2) they should put in the work to design a job-specific exercise and use that instead.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I had to do this when I applied to a job with the county! It was quite strange. I couldn’t quite see how it applied to the job, except maybe in a general sense of “has common sense and can do basic mathematics / word challenges.” Literally I think there was a spelling section or something! It was weird.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Years ago, to get a job with our county, I had to go through a series of tests to advance to the next round. It was like the dullest game show ever! I felt bad for another person who started the tests with me who couldn’t pass the keyboard test, which was a really minimal WPM, like 30. I got the feeling she was re-entering the work force after years of raising kids, and computer keyboards were new to her. And the job involved very little keyboard time, so it seemed unfair. But I guess they got so many applicants that they had to narrow it down somehow.

    5. Alex*

      I had to do something like this. It really turned me off from the job. I ended up not taking the offer. Not sure it was a red flag, but to me it seemed really necessary. I even asked what some of the tests had to do with the job–like, is this skill required in this position? The answer was no. So….why waste my time? I decided I didn’t want to work for an organization that liked to dole out busywork because it felt good.

  36. Pan Dulce*

    Who has a job/career that is not “greedy,” where you put in your 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day and you’re done. No expectation that you will answer emails at 8pm or over the weekend. I’ve been working in environments where I get emails at midnight asking if I saw something that came through at 8:15pm, and texts on Sundays about issues that are not emergencies and I have had enough. I don’t need to make a huge amount of money 45k-55K would be fine for my lifestyle and area. Who has a job that leaves you alone outside of traditional business hours and what is it?

    1. Tuesday*

      Me! I’m an in-house marketing writer at a manufacturing company. Marketing firms can be hectic, but I’ve found that being in-house is way more chill. There are rarely content emergencies in our industry.

    2. Cendol*

      I am in a corporate research department. 40 hours a week, I clock out at 5, and there is no expectation of weekend or holiday coverage. Starting salary range was in the 60-70k range for me (mid ’10s, HCOL, no prior work experience).

      (Caveat, of course, that your mileage may vary; our current boundaries are held by our phenomenal boss. I have worked at other companies where work-life balance was considered a hilarious joke.)

        1. Cendol*

          Sorry about the late response! If you see this: my job involves pulling company records, financials, transaction histories, bios and contact info for their leadership, industry trends, case filings, SEC filings, etc. etc. etc. Lots of overlap with corporate law librarianship, just less case law and no physical library. :)

    3. GreenTea*

      I work in internal communications and got extremely lucky with my work/life flexibility. My boss doesn’t expect anything to be done after hours or over the weekend unless something insanely hot comes up (the last time this happened, Covid had just started). I also am able to get all my work done during my normal hours (7:30-4:30) so there’s literally nothing for me to do at the end of the week except start prepping for next week’s content. My employer supplied me with a work phone for after hours communication (as the comms department technically always needs to be ready to respond to something) but I have only had to use it a handful of times over the past two years. I live in a semi-popular west-coast city and make almost $75k with about 5 years of experience. The field of communications can vary greatly in terms of workload out of normal office hours, but it is possible to find something within the parameters you’re looking for!

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Hi! I’ve wondered about the field of communications. Would you mind sharing a bit about what it’s like?

    4. Terrible as the Dawn*

      I work for state government and our union is good enough that working outside your hours (that is, unpaid work time) is HUGELY frowned upon. Get yourself into a low- to mid-level bureaucracy that isn’t dealing with any kind of health/human/emergency services, and I bet you can clock out on time!

      I hope you can get out and find something new. I would not be able to function long-term in a job that expected more from me than the 40 hours I’m paid for.

    5. LeftAcademia*

      Niche research job. I’ve started working 20 percent with toddler at home. Reached promised 50 percent 9 months later and will be working 80 percent another year later. The reason everybody has been super accommodating is because I’ve solved some almost unsolvable research problems while working here.

    6. The Wizard Rincewind*

      I work for a nonprofit. They can’t afford to pay me overtime. The salary is low compared to the market but the work/life balance is beyond reproach.

      1. M&M Mom*

        Same. A coworker has asked why I respond to emails after hours- habit from a previous job!

    7. Can't think of a funny name*

      Corporate tax manager…rarely work over 40 hours a week…sometimes during quarter close but that’s it for the most part.

    8. Salesforce Guru*

      I work at a hunger relief nonprofit. I seldom work more than 40 hours in a week, and if I do it’s been on the rare occasion where something cropped up during the busy season of November/ December/ January. I’m a database administrator making $80k, full-time, exempt, and almost exclusively remote.

    9. ThatGirl*

      Me. I work in marketing in-house for a large manufacturing company. They’re very good about work-life balance; once I’m gone for the day, I’m gone. I do not log in to my email after hours or on weekends.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be fair, if I choose to log in at my job, I’m sure they’d be happy and probably even start expecting it – I see people make this mistake all the time. If you offer an inch, they’ll take it. I just haven’t gotten in trouble for *not* doing it. My boss knows to text me if there’s truly an emergency after hours.

    10. Policy Wonk*

      Many government jobs are like that. It depends on the department/agency and function, but given that we operate on a shoestring and can’t afford overtime, it’s uncommon at lower levels. (Senior level officials will generally be expected to be available no matter the agency or department.)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! I work for a state health agency. At the higher levels, you need to put in extra time, but not the rank & file. We were extremely busy in 2020-21, & my area is known for a lot of projects, but I still don’t think I did more than 45 hours in any single week. There wasn’t a lot of downtime, & I had to get a waiver to extend my vacation rollover use deadline, but that seemed pretty reasonable to me.

    11. Anon (and on and on)*

      I’m staff at a university. Higher ed doesn’t pay well, but tends to have good work-life balance and be very reliable. People stay in their positions for decades for this reason.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I manage medical coders. I do usually end up putting in a couple extra hours a week, but that’s mostly because I lose track of time and work longer than I meant to and stop at 4:30 instead of 3:30. Nobody expects me to be available outside of my regular hours.

    13. rosyglasses*

      We do! Most of us are salary exempt, so there is the occasional week that I’ll work 50-60 hours but it’s rare and not the norm (and I’m director level so it would be expected at times), and for my non-management level staff, I wouldn’t expect more than 40-45 hours in a week. If the work is getting done, that’s the focus.

    14. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      I am the unicorn at my job who works a strict 9-5. People ask me if it’s ok if they email me after hours and I assure them they can email me 24 hours a day but the first I will see it will be 9am next business day. I have to set this boundary and maintain it and it is not always comfortable, but new people get read in by old-timers and it has been fine.

    15. JimmyJab*

      State government and in a union. Anything over 37.5 hours/week is overtime, and over 40 is time and a half. Overtime is almost entirely optional.

    16. Sloanicota*

      I work in nonprofit, mostly grants management / contracting. The salaries are NOT great but the urgency is low. The deadlines are usually known well in advance. There’s usually some workaholic in management but you can set the boundary of not answering emails after hours and I find there’s no pushback – they know they’re not paying enough to demand better. Some nonprofits even have 35 hours as a full time schedule.

    17. just a random teacher*

      Any non-teacher school job should be like this (bus driver, aide, etc.) since those are hourly. Teaching will vary depending on local culture. Where I teach, there may sometimes be enough work that I need to bring home grading or do planning over the weekend, but if you email me at 4:30pm on Friday and I get back to you before I pack up and leave to go home on Monday afternoon, then I got back to you in a timely fashion. There are no middle-of-the-night Shakespeare Emergencies requiring the language arts teacher to get out of bed, and Algebra will not crash if left unattended for the weekend.

      The only time I can think of where there would have been an impact if I hadn’t happened to go through my email on Sunday night would be the time another teacher passed away over the weekend and we all had a before-school meeting on Monday with the district grief team to make a plan for the day and week, and teachers certainly weren’t in trouble if they didn’t know about the meeting, it just made for a rougher time of it. (I usually do some of my planning/prep/grading/weekly online announcements on Sunday nights because I prefer not to get up early on Mondays, and I can roll in just before students do if I leave things tidied up on Friday, work a bit on Sunday nights, and preschedule the online announcements instead. This is a personal preference and other teachers who are morning people get in earlier on Mondays instead.)

      Also, it’s currently summer break and I haven’t checked my work email in two weeks. My principal and the office manager have my phone number and could text me if something is truly urgent, but if it’s in an email and I don’t see it until August, that’s not a big deal. (It’s a good idea to check a few times over the summer in case there are questions about fall, such as about changing around your schedule or something, but it’s a case of missed opportunities for giving feedback or making choices rather than a case where you’re seen as not fulfilling your core job duties.) Some teachers even turn in their school laptops over the summer and don’t check email at all until fall.

    18. Nicki Name*

      I’m in software development and have a job like this. There is an occasional emergency that needs extra time to resolve it, but they are very occasional (the last time this happened to me was months ago).

      Tech varies hugely this way– there are startups (or places with a misguided “startup mentality”) that will eat your life, but there are also tons of companies where you can log out at the end of a normal-length workday and be done with it until the next day.

    19. Silverose*

      Affordable housing resident services, specifically supportive services. I’m an exempt employee and sometimes (like, once every couple of months) I might have an emergency at the end of the day that has my day run long, but my supervisor expects me to flex the time off elsewhere and when I’m off, the phone and e-mail doesn’t get looked at or answered until the next business day. It’s the first social services job I’ve had where I’ve actually had a reasonable work-life balance and full disconnect from work in my off hours.

  37. LeftAcademia*

    Mentoring in reverse

    In our tiny research department on Ilama grooming, my boss is a fantastic in managing us and obtaining the much needed resources and is a mid level Ilama grooming researcher. I, on the other hand, would never be as good in his function, but I am a senior Ilama groomer researcher. We have a good working relationship. However, we now have an opportunity for me to become formally his official supervisor in Ilama groomer research in an outside institution and essentially act as s mentor. We have been joking about it for a year, but now it is almost doable. And I keep wondering whether it can go well. Any similar happy ends?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My first job was at a defense contractor who hired retired military officers (in their 40s to 60s) and smart engineers right out of college. And then depending on what was going on with various contracts, we did a lot of matrix management.

      So it was completely normal for the 50-year-old retired colonel to be my boss for 3 months, and then for him to work for me on the next project. And this extended to education and training too, which I think is mostly what your prospective ‘reverse mentoring’ relationship is going to be like.

      So yes, this can work perfectly well to the point that you don’t even think about it.

      1. LeftAcademia*

        Thank you. This is what I wanted to hear. We get along well now that’s why I have hoped it might work out.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Where there is mutual respect for the other one’s ability and skills, it will probably go well.

      There is an old saying, when a teacher is good, the student excels beyond the teacher. That is because the teacher laid a good platform for the student to start from. The ultimate compliment is when the student goes beyond what you did in life.

  38. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    I feel like you demonstrated exactly what your point was though – the tech exists, but it’s not there yet.

  39. Plague Carrier*

    Hi all, I’m the Plague Carrier writer from earlier this week. Even though I was cleared medically to travel, it was blatantly obvious my manager didn’t want me going (e.g. they refused to include me in lunches with our account managers, didn’t want to interact with me at all during the conference, etc.). I spent several days completely stressed out about the conference (and the travel chaos happening in my country, and unexpected changes to our agreement on the presentation itself, etc.) that I was on the brink of deciding not to go.

    Today my manager said she and my director talked, and the director said I should just go… But honestly the stress, and knowing that in her heart of hearts, my manager still didn’t approve, I thew my hands up in the air and just cancelled everything. My manager’s son had a recent health scare, and I know this was skewing her perspectives, and she acknowledges that. But her stress became my stress and it was all just too much.

    Part of me feels bad now that I’ve cancelled. I could have gone, and would have had fun. But another part of me is relieved that the decision is finally made and I can relax now.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Thank you for the update! It sounds like you made the right decision for yourself. I hope you have a relaxing weekend with this decision behind you.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Sorry this isn’t the outcome you hoped for.
      I have to say how much I really appreciate you though for taking the illness seriously and protecting other people. Sorry that your manager’s unreasonableness is preventing you from going. While it’s understandable where it’s coming from – she is exposing herself to a lot of germs by travelling. It’s human nature though to focus on the “known” vs. the “unknown”.

  40. DilemmaDilemmaDilemma*

    I’ve been applying to different jobs for the last year or so, but despite a bunch of interviews and being a finalist, I’m always just a little bit shy of getting an offer. Meanwhile, the only reason I’m really looking to leave my work is I’ve been waiting for my boss to retire for a while, but he has yet to actually set a date. I just received confirmation last week that I am his successor once he does retire, but we still do not have a date nor have we discussed what that salary will be. Based on my market analysis, he is underpaid by about $30k for his role. Before I received confirmation that I was his successor, I had recently applied for two new jobs. For one I have an interview scheduled for Monday and for the other I was just invited to start their interview process. Both pay more than what my boss makes now, but neither is an equivalent role. One would be more of a lateral move (number 2 in a small org to number 2 in a small org) and the other would be for a somewhat different opportunity in a much larger organization ($3m budget vs $179m budget). Should I continue the interview process for these two roles or back out? I really do not know what I would do if actually offered a new role at this point.

    1. PollyQ*

      Keep interviewing! It doesn’t obligate you to accept an offer, and you don’t know what you’ll learn about the jobs until you learn it. And you don’t really have the promotion at the current job until there’s a date and a salary. There are no guarantees.

    2. WellRed*

      Keep going with the process. Your boss might never retire or something else could come up in the meantime and you wouldn’t succeed him.

    3. irene adler*

      I concur with the others- keep interviewing.
      Every interview is an opportunity to gain information. Sure, that information may be about the company and nothing more.
      It may also present you with new questions you need to think about.

    4. Ditto*

      Are you more interested in the salary increase or moving up? I think this weighs heavily on how you proceed. I had a similar situation recently and finally moved on after years of promises. My new position came with a 37% increase, but I moved down in seniority and somewhat regret it. With inflation though, it’s hard to consider staying somewhere where there is no growth.

    5. Employed Minion*

      Keep interviewing! My partner was the successor for his boss upon retirement and held on for 6 years because the boss wouldn’t retire. The person was a bad boss as well, and my partner was basically already doing the job for half that time. So there were other factors at play.

  41. PassThePeasPlease*

    Anyone have experience with performance goals being tied to “innovating” in your day to day work but your budgets end up being cut back so much that there really isn’t anything extra to test new things with and you’re stuck using the same old processes from the past due to lack of budget? I’m trying to find smaller opportunities to investigate but not much comes free or even at a small enough amount to reasonably test in my industry so I’m kind of at an impasse.

    I feel like at the end of the year I’ll have to answer why we didn’t try more things and “there wasn’t enough room in the budget” while valid, will get a lot of side eyes from management. This ended up being more of a rant because I’m frustrated constantly having work scrapped after being promised more budget than is actually available.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Keep track of all the things you have proposed that got turned down. Innovation isn’t limited to the things your boss was willing to fund. You can show that you are always thinking. E.g., proposed 16 process improvements, and initiated two quality reviews. Something like that.

    2. LittleMarshmallow*

      I work in manufacturing research and this happens to us all the time. So at least know that I feel ya.

      I guess without knowing what field you’re in it’s hard to say for sure, but… I’m going to use my manufacturing experience for advice here. Talk to others. Find out what their key challenges are and see if there are ways to improve. I really only know manufacturing, but I would assume similar could be applied elsewhere. So in the past for innovation I have gone to talk to our front line workers about what they think could be better and go from there. Sometimes it’s something like “this pump has to be changed out every 3 months… maybe there’s a more appropriate pump for this application where you’d only have to swap it out annually”. Then go look into other pump options. Another tactic is to hold brainstorming sessions where no idea is a dumb idea. You’d be surprised what sort of low hanging fruit style innovations you’ll find just by listening to those closest to the stuff you’re trying to improve and giving them a voice to air their hair brained genius schemes.

      You could write a goal like this.

      Hold 2 innovation brainstorms during the year and execute on the top 3 ideas from each based on a benefit and effort matrix assessment of each idea.

      If you do a b&e on it then you’ll be able to still show your management the ideas that will cost money they won’t give you but probably will have a few options that are low cost to implement.

      Still without knowing your field it’s hard but hope this was helpful!

  42. talos*

    So I have a friend who is also a coworker, and I’m leaving my job, and I’m not sure how to tell him.

    Friendship-wise: we hang out in a group on Discord, talk in the group chat, and very occasionally meet up with other people in person, but we don’t generally interact 1-on-1 (this isn’t about the closeness of the friendship, most people in this group don’t interact 1-on-1 regularly). We were friends before we were coworkers. I actually referred him to an internship at this company, which he turned into a full-time job.

    Coworker-wise: we have the same manager, but work on completely different, 100% unrelated projects (yes, my manager managing personnel for like 8 different projects is dumb and part of why I’m leaving). We don’t interact about work ever, but we occasionally get lunch together or something, and we have team meetings together.

    Leaving-my-job-wise: I start a new job at some point in August. I’m not going to put in 2 weeks until my background check is finished (I have every confidence the background check will pass, but you can never be too sure) and until there are actually only 2 weeks left in my employment here – which won’t be for a couple more weeks. The new job features a cross-country relocation, and the job change + relocation are the Major Life Event of my year, so I want to be able to talk about it with my friends in the group chat or when he’s on Discord with us.

    So how do I tell him? Do I tell him now, do I tell him right before I give my 2 weeks, or do I wait for him to find out from our manager? If I tell him, do I do it as part of announcing my job change in the group chat or when people are on Discord? Or do I tell him personally? I think this also feels more complicated because I referred him to a job here, and he’s enjoying his job.

    1. PollyQ*

      Wait until you’ve given your official notice to your boss, then you can tell him directly, unless your boss wants to embargo the news for some weird reason. If you were closer friends, I might have said it’d be ok to tell him sooner, but even there, you really don’t want the news to get out in an uncontrolled way.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Don’t say anything until the background check clears. Even with the presumption that it will come out positive I have seen them take way longer than expected, and info could leak. Then it depends on your relationship. It doesn’t sound like you are incredibly close, so I doubt he will be upset if you don’t give him a heads up. It also doesn’t sound like he is only working there because he can talk to you – making it bearable – if that were the case you might want to give him a heads up.

    3. Everything Bagel*

      Why not just tell him right after telling your manager? I wouldn’t tell him or anyone else at your company about your plan to leave until you’ve told your manager. I suppose that means not telling anyone in your group chats about the move until you’ve given notice, too.

      It sounds like a lot of your personal communication with your coworker friend is online anyway, so you can hopefully maintain the friendship after you’ve left the company, if you want.