asking coworkers to hang out socially, interviewing with Covid symptoms, and more

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

1. Asking coworkers to hang out socially

I’ve been finding it incredibly difficult to make friends with my coworkers at my new job. I’m male and our company has 15 employees, 13 of whom are women, which can create awkwardness if you reach out after work.

How do I ask a coworker to hang out after work in a respectful manner? (I am interested in platonic friendships and preferably in a group setting.)

I’m glad you mentioned groups because the easiest way to signal that you’re not looking for dates is to suggest doing something with a group.

* “Would y’all be up for a happy hour across the street next week?”
* “It would be fun to get a group together for tacos at Majestic Tacos sometime. Would anyone be interested in going there for lunch this week?”
* “I’m walking over to the coffeeshop — anyone want to go with me?”

Note that some of these are workday activities, rather than after-work ones. The barrier for people to say yes to that is lower, and it’s still a good way to get to know people. That could open the door to doing stuff outside of work once you know each other better (although keep in mind that some offices are just not after-hours socializing type places — but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make friends there).

2. Interviewing with Covid symptoms

I have two in-person job interviews scheduled for this Friday. I also, as of last night, noticed that my sense of smell and taste have substantially decreased, which is well-known as a hallmark of Covid. No other clear symptoms thus far — possibly fatigue, but I have a sleep disorder that means I’m always tired anyway, so that’s hard to judge. Nothing like coughing, sniffling, congestion, etc. I took a Covid test and got a negative, but since I keep hearing about false negatives, especially early on in the course of the disease, I’m not sure how much to trust this.

I think that unless this miraculously goes away overnight, I should call (or email) the places I’d be interviewing, let them know of my potential Covid symptoms, and let them decide what to do. I decided on this after reading your post about someone getting scolded for interviewing with a cold, as well as the comments on that post; this would be less visible to the interviewer, but potentially a sign of a more deadly disease. Note that one place I’d be interviewing at has had a Zoom interview with me already while the other has not, if that changes anything.

My parents think that’s a horrible idea. In their mind, I tested negative, I don’t have visible symptoms, so I should just go in and not say anything about it to the interviewers. I think that’s a great way to spread Covid to people that I’m hoping might hire me, and likely to turn them off in the process. But calling to reschedule does leave the very real possibility that these interviews might never happen if they don’t happen on Friday. So, who’s right? Is this a rare exception to your mantra of not listening to parents, or just another example of it? What would you do in this situation?

Do not listen to your parents. Contact your interviewers, let them know that you’ve tested negative but have some symptoms that make you concerned it could be Covid, and ask if they would prefer to switch the interview to Zoom or reschedule for a different date, so they can make that decision for themselves rather you taking it out of their hands by showing up without saying anything. Yes, this means the interviews might end up not happening (probably not, but it’s possible). But it’s the responsible thing to do — and a decent employer will see this as a positive sign about you. (Would you want to hire someone who showed up in-person without mentioning they might have a contagious and potentially deadly disease?)

Read an update to this letter

3. Could being difficult mean you won’t get extra training?

I am asking this on behalf of my friend, who works at a secondhand store where they sell electronics and video games. Some employees at the store are trained to test the electronics to figure out how much to sell them for. My friend complains fairly often that they still haven’t been trained on testing, even though they’ve been asking for months and their newer coworkers often get the training.

The thing is, a few months back they basically had a breakdown on their boss and told him that they think everyone hates them and that they’re terrible at their job because they occasionally got things wrong and are bad at reading people. They also have intense jealousy issues with their new coworkers, thinking that their current coworkers will like the new coworker better or that the new coworker will be better at the tasks they do. This is immediately after the new coworker joins — they have no idea if their new coworker is even competent before getting jealous. They are also not very subtle. It’s pretty easy to tell when they dislike someone. (They once were offered a chair while someone they disliked was nearby and said loudly, “Is it okay? Wouldn’t Jake … actually, never mind, I don’t care” and took the chair).

I don’t think their not being offered the training is a personal thing like the manager “hating” them like they said recently. I think their lack of professionalism and being very oversensitive might be what’s preventing them from getting the training? I’m curious as to how much their behavior could be affecting their chances of getting the training they want.

It could definitely be holding them back from getting the additional training. If your friend’s manager finds them difficult to work with or difficult to manage, they might not want to invest additional time in them or give them more responsibility. The “breakdown” doesn’t sound like a big issue on its own, but the treatment of coworkers definitely does. If that is indeed what’s going on, the manager should explain that — and either way should be shutting down the rudeness — but lots of managers are conflict-averse and don’t give feedback that they should (even though that’s a fundamental part of the job).

Bigger than that, though: Your friend sounds like they’re struggling with some pretty significant emotional stuff, as well as maturity issues. That will cause them problems not just at work, but in all areas of life. If you can nudge them toward therapy, do.

Read an update to this letter

4. Asking for a higher raise due to inflation

My partner is due for a semi-regular raise soon, and his manager has already given him a rough number to expect. He is planning on asking for a larger raise, though, due to how much cost of living has increased this year. I read this site daily and thought the consensus was that a higher cost of living was not a good reason to ask for a raise. I told my partner this, citing the example of how a married employee who is the sole breadwinner for their family doesn’t deserve, by the sole merit of their “cost of living,” a higher salary than their single, childless coworker. My partner disagrees, saying that cost-of-living is brought up very often in company Q&As and that the execs seem sympathetic.

Since inflation is atypically high this year (it’s projected to hit 14% for the poorest households in the country I work in), I’m wondering if I need to change my opinion on this. Given the circumstances, is cost of living a valid reason to cite when asking for a raise?

Yes. It’s because it’s about a change in the value of a dollar, rather than about his own personal expenses. In terms of buying power, he is being paid less now than a year ago. That’s different than asking for more money because of whatever his own bills happen to be.

{ 333 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    #2 – Covid

    If these people would ding you for calling them about Covid symptoms, then that’s a sign that you should probably try to avoid them if you can afford to. Because reasonable people don’t punish people who call and and say “I seem to have come down with something that’s pretty catching. How do you want to handle this?”

    1. GythaOgden*

      Yeah. That would be true for any kind of illness which necessitated a day at home to recover. For a headache I’d take a few paracetamol and get it over with, particularly in the NHS where interview dates are more inflexible (the last time I did it the invitation email looked like a clinic appointment booking!) but for anything worse, even if not contagious, I’d ring and reschedule.

      No point in trying to do something like that when you’re gummed up with a cold or whatever.

    2. Rainy Cumbria*

      This is exactly what I came here to say. Would you want to work for an employer who is happy for people to come into the office with possible covid symptoms?

      1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

        As someone who is currently sitting in an office surrounded by people who are coughing and sneezing – NO, YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Or, even worse, insists on people coming in with covid symptoms. When I was younger, I caught a terrible cold before an interview. Faucet nose, cough. the whole thing. I called and asked if they wanted to postpone. They insisted that they absolutely could not postpone and anyone who really needed a job could come in sick. So I did. Readers, when they saw my very pale (except bright red nose) sickly demeanor I could see them regretting their decision. Then I put my hand* out to shake and the real regret hit home. Interview was a disaster because I was coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose, and completely over these folks. I do hope they remember me when someone says they are too sick to interview.

        *My hand was clean. I washed it right before because although I wanted to show them why this was a bad idea, I didn’t want to get anyone sick

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          I applaud this and hope they remember you to this day as well. Because honestly, how dare they.

          1. Lydia*

            And I hope at least one of them shares this as a “let me tell you about an incredibly bad decision that I learned so much from” story.

          1. Mrs. Hawiggins*

            Not to mention what it would be like if you’re hired, working for them a while, and got sick or hospitalized. I imagine things like:

            “If you value your job you’ll pull that IV out and get in here right now!”
            “Can’t your doctor do the surgery on a Saturday?”

            I work in healthcare, we reschedule…

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            It makes me want to grab the hand sanitizer – who wants to get sick (and then, yay, open floor plan, get their entire team sick) for an interview?

            I have a very stringent please-keep-your-germs-at-home policy. No one else wants them. If people really, really want to work despite being sick rather than using their generous-for-the-US PTO, they can do it remotely.

    3. Just another person*

      Totally agree with this. You are screening them too – interviews go both ways!

      From an interviewer perspective, I would totally be against a candidate showing up with no warning visibly ill with any contagious respiratory disease (especially if they weren’t wearing a mask). As a person with a chronic health condition that can be made worse by any respiratory illness, I would not be in favor of hiring someone who appears to be cool with openly transmitting them.

      Also there’s a reason they put two tests in the rapid test kits. Lots of people test negative when symptoms first appear and positive two days later.

    4. Love to WFH*

      Unfortunately, a negative rapid test does _not_ mean that you don’t have COVID. It is pretty much the norm for someone with symptoms, who has COVID and is infectious, to test negative for 2 or 3 days before they start to test positive.

      Google “A negative COVID test has never been so negative” for the article in the Atlantic magazine for the details.

      That doesn’t mean tests are worthless. A positive test does mean that you should stay in isolation. It also answers the question of whether you have a cold, flu or COVID.

      You can do one test by swabbing your nose, and a second test swabbing your throat. A friend had the throats swab test positive a day before the nose did.

      1. Seriously?*

        I’m reading that when you are vaccinated symptoms start sooner because your body recognizes the virus. Many (including me) test positive 2-3 days after symptoms start.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I can personally attest. Hubby got COVID, I had no symptoms, I got tested anyway; negative twice. Came down with COVID 5 days later.

        COVID is still around (my bout was only two weeks ago). Companies are not going to bat an eye about rescheduling for health concerns. If a company does balk, well that pretty much screens them out in my mind for being careless of employee safety.

        Wishing you a swift recovery and best of luck in the rescheduled interview.

        1. TootsNYC*

          you also may have been negative at the time of the test, and picked up the germ a couple of days later from your husband.

      3. Paris Geller*

        I had covid for the second time this past January after being fully vaccinated. I tested negative for two days before my first positive test, even though I was clearly very sick. If you’re showing symptoms, a negative test means very little.

      4. J*

        Since this is so high up and literally every single person I’ve told has no idea: The FDA recently shifted their recommendations on Covid testing. For those using coronavirus antigen tests they say you may now need to take three tests, each spaced 48 hours apart, to reduce the odds of missing an infection. (Also, your expiration dates likely got extended, check the FDA website)

      5. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My daughter worked in the Walmart deli and we (husband, myself, and son) had positive covid home tests. Daughter had the same symptoms but she kept testing negative on the home test. Y’all — her bosses kept making her come to work! She was coughing, feverish, and achy, but all they cared about was the negative test result. She finally went through the drive-through testing location at our local hospital and got a positive test result to show them. Retail and food service jobs are the worst!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          That’s a terrible policy! Even if she really didn’t have COVID, did her bosses forget that *other diseases still exist*?

          1. Miss Muffet*

            Yes exactly – it’s like we’ve all forgotten that people can still have colds or the flu (which is what else it sounded like she could have had) – and no one else you work with wants to catch that crap either!

            1. Lydia*

              So much this. Someone I know is sick right now with a really bad cold and while she’s is really sick, she is not COVID positive. Every other illness did not take three years off because COVID was doing all the work for them.

              1. just passing through*

                Now I’m picturing the flu writing into a workplace advice column for diseases about how its new coworker is overshadowing it and getting all the attention.

              2. Mrs. Hawiggins*

                I caught a regular old cold earlier this year and had a video visit with my doctor because my tests were negative. The look she gave me when I asked her, “If it’s not COVID what IS it?” was priceless. All the other viruses are still open for business, they didn’t observe any lockdown. Never do.

            2. tessa*

              Yep. I will be wearing masks in public for the foreseeable future to try to avoid other contagions like colds and flu. Makes total sense to me.

      6. Autumn*

        My daughter got covid, she was symptomatic starting on a Sunday but the rapid test only turned positive on Tuesday. I can only think goodness I made her do the test, I just wanted to know the stuffy nose was only allergies before we went to a dr appointment. Thank heavens I did, lots of things went sideways as a result. (All rescheduled now)

    5. Love to WFH*

      Even if it’s “just a cold”, nobody wants to get a cold. The last one that I caught, in late 2019, was a virus that lingered for 3 months, until
      my 4th course of steroids finally cleared my poor asthmatic lungs.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        At this point, my reluctance to stop masking at work has as much to do with not catching a cold as avoiding Covid. I haven’t had a cold since 2019 (that same long one that was making the rounds) and have no desire to go back to thrice annual misery from that.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I had that horrible 2019 one for MONTHS, I was essentially in isolation starting Fall 2019, so I had plenty of practice before March 2020. I’ve not had a cold since. I love my mask.

        2. Office Lobster DJ*

          For me, not wanting to catch colds isn’t even just about the misery of experiencing a cold. I have abundant sick time but still can’t afford to spend multiple days in suspicion of every single ache, sniffle, tiredness etc. The less sick in general, the better.

          1. Humble Schoolmarm*

            Same. Not only is there a major substitute teacher shortage, it’s really hard to plan good lessons for a multi-day absence without being able to track student progress. Before 2020, I would take one sick day to cover the worst of it and sniffle my way though the rest. Not the best plan, I have since realized, but that’s how most teachers worked pre-pandemic.

      2. Observer*

        Even if it’s “just a cold”, nobody wants to get a cold

        Exactly. Covid, Flu, whatever it is, it just makes no sense.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          This is where I fall down. These notices we have to put up that say “Don’t come if you have diarrhea, are vomiting, have flu-like symptoms…”

          Like, “do we really have to tell people not to come to events if they are vomiting and $hitting their pants?” But of course we do, because people wear functioning when sick and contagious as a badge of honor and a plague sure isn’t going to change our mind about it one bit!

          1. Lydia*

            My office has at least recognized that illness is illness. Our signs say to not come in if you don’t feel well. I’ve worked from home on days I’m normally at the office because I had a mild sore throat. I’m fortunate that my workplace is that flexible.

          2. Mrs. Hawiggins*

            I would almost tell anyone who did that in my office that they would be confined to theirs and maybe MAYBE not allowed to go home and change pants. That’ll teach you.

            I have observed this before, many years ago, sadly and it required management intervention to tell the person to go home, and if they resisted or disagreed they’d would be without pay for the day. THAT was the part that made them go. Ugh.

    6. Smithy*

      I think it’s also worth adding, that even if this isn’t COVID but is *just* a cold – a reasonable place wouldn’t want to put you in a situation to interview when you’re not feeling healthy. If they’re on a really tight timeline, the alternative options might not be amazing, but it’s shouldn’t be an immediate disqualification.

      And when I say the other options might not be amazing, I do think it’s helpful to keep in mind that it’s very often due to multiple scheduling pressures. One well liked candidate might have an offer and has only so much time for other place to give them a response. Or, due to business/holiday travel schedules if meetings don’t happen by X date, interviews could be delayed by a month. But none of that should be communicated in a nasty way or condescending way.

    7. Hannah Lee*

      And if you didn’t call and showed up for the interview? The first thing that would happen is that you’d be handed a screening form asking if you had xyz symptoms or had recently been diagnosed or exposed to COVID and would be shown the door to reschedule or call for a video chat if the answer was “yes” and would get dinged on judgement and care about coworkers’ well being when we’re evaluating candidates for hire, whatever your other qualifications

      Call, tell them, reschedule! Anyplace that would hold that against you is displaying that they will not be a good employer

    8. 1-800-BrownCow*

      I once had a company drop my from the interview process because I called to ask to reschedule my 2nd interview with them due to a major ice storm. I lived 2.5 hours from the company (I was willing to relocate) and we were under a state of emergency because of the storm. The company was out of state and the ice storm did not affect them, but a good portion of my drive there would have been in the ice storm. There was no way I would risk it. I was upset at first that they didn’t reschedule me, but I soon realized that a company that would rather I risk my life during a major ice storm probably didn’t care about their employees that much. They may have also had a stronger candidate for the position and may have just been a blessing instead that they didn’t waste my time or theirs. And soon after, I got a job at a company I really liked and a few years later the place that did not reschedule was bought out by a major corporation and that location was closed permanently. So yes, it sucks to request to reschedule an interview knowing the company may just not follow through, but it may just be better in the end.

      1. anti social socialite*

        When I was in college, we had an epic snowstorm. It didn’t start off too bad, so I made an effort to drive to class. I don’t live somewhere where snow is common and I don’t know how to drive in it. I admitted defeat after my car fishtailed as soon as I hit the highway.

        I got home and emailed my professor that I didn’t feel safe coming in. He told me I wouldn’t get any credit for the assignment that was due that day because “in the real world, your employer expects you to show up no matter what.”

        I fired back “I don’t think I’d like to work for anyone who wants their employees to risk their lives unless I become a firefighter.”

        (He also refused to let me switch groups after I came to him when one of the group members was verbally abusive. His reasoning was again, “in the real world you can’t pick who you work with.”)

        1. TootsNYC*

          I always this: College and high school are primarily intended to teach you the subject matter. That comes far before anything else.

          It’s not really their role to indoctrinate you for the norms of the working world.

          If these things (shitty group partners, etc.) are interfering with your ability to get the best learning experience, they should be jettinsoned.

          1. Gray Lady*

            I somewhat disagree. Teaching the norms of the workplace is part of education. However, it should be teaching the actual norms of normal workplaces, not some professor’s idea of “real life.” In the real world, a functional workplace would at least *attempt* to address the problem of verbal abuse between co-workers, and wouldn’t insist on you risking your life when adjustments could be made to deal with your unavailability. Dysfunctional workplaces are not supposed to be the normal expectation that frames general behavior.

            1. Andie Begins*

              Yeah my problem is mostly that college professors especially may or may not actually *have* experience in the real world, so it’s awfully rich for many them to be opining as such.

              1. JustaTech*

                I was pleasantly amazed when my college professors admitted to me (as and alum) that they didn’t really know anything about industry and the “real” world. We were hoping to do a seminar for the undergrads about “here are options other than academia, and you are not a lesser person if you decide you want to stop going to school and start making money”, but it never got off the ground.
                I should see if they’re still interested.

            2. Eyes Kiwami*

              Yeah I don’t know how professors in academia, which we have seen on this site has its own norms, would even know what “normal” workplaces are like. Seems unreasonable to me to expect that teachers should be experts in education and child development, and also their own field like art or science or the Italian Renaissance, and in between managing all their students and parents and their own coworkers and also publishing or doing their own research and learning new technologies… they should also keep abreast of norms in offices so they can weave that into their lessons somehow!

              I’m not even a teacher but I think we put too much on teachers and parents as the only places of learning. Companies should also take on some of the training themselves, which they used to do when entry level meant entry level.

    9. M2*

      When I had Covid (I always wear a N95 mask or Kn95 inside got it from one person who I knew who came up to me without a mask right to my face who knows I don’t like that) and started showing symptoms it took 2 tests. My PCR test came back negative and my at home test showed positive! Always take more than one test if you were exposed or show symptoms. Those at home tests state in the BOX that you must take another 24-48 hours later if you have symptoms or were exposed . That is why there are 2 tests in the box!

    10. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      So much this. Interviews go both ways, and somebody who couldn’t be bothered to take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of a pretty contagious virus is also probably an employer that is going to drop the ball or be less than great to employees in other ways as well.

    11. Shhhh*

      Exactly. If a candidate for a position at my employer contacted us to reschedule because of COVID symptoms, we’d be both grateful that they didn’t bring it into the office and concerned for their health. Which tracks with our policy for employees, which is essentially “seriously, stay home.”

      Also, I had COVID a couple weeks ago, and it took a while for it to show up on a test. I kept testing negative and thought it was just allergies because I’ve always been especially sensitive to ragweed and ’tis the season. I kept getting sicker, though, and it finally showed up late on the second day I had symptoms.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I had Covid about a month ago now, and very similarly the first two days I thought it was a Sinus Infection spawned by my seasonal allergies (because I had all of those symptoms, but no fever or cough). Called the Dr on day three when I woke up with a cough – because the last time I had a cough before Covid was getting bronchitis in college. Thankfully I am permanently remote – so I didn’t spread it to my co-workers before I realized what I had.

    12. Starfox*

      I hope that, if nothing else, Covid has caused employers to have more grace for sick days.

      However, my sick days haven’t changed at all, unfortunately. I only have 10 combined sick/vacation days per year. Most of us wipe them out in the first half of the year and either have to come to work sick or take an unpaid day.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Exactly. Especially now, when there is still an ongoing pandemic!

      I interviewed with a bad cold once (long ago before COVID) and frankly, I wouldn’t do it again. I wasn’t at my best either physically or mentally and surprise, I did not get the job. If it was just sniffles, I would have been fine, but I was sick enough to have to take medication.

      (Alternatively, I once did an ice show loaded on Dayquil with a fever and skated pretty well, mostly because I was too spacey to be nervous. Go figure, lol.)

  2. phira*

    Definitely trust your instincts about possibly having COVID!! You could have an expired test, or you could have swabbed insufficiently, or you could have missed a very faint positive line, or you could just not have enough antigen in your nose to be detected on the test. I didn’t test negative on a rapid test until a full 48 hours after I had full-blown symptoms. And we’re talking full-blown symptoms–cough, congestion, fever, aches, nausea, etc.

    Rapid antigen tests are like pregnancy tests: it’s beyond common to get a false negative, and really, really rare to get a false positive.

    1. phira*

      Er, I mean I didn’t test POSITIVE on RAT until 48 hours later. As you can see, I still have COVID brain fog 10 days later. It’s been a real hoot.

    2. MerBearStare*

      Ugh, yes, I’m gonna second this. I tested negative on a Tuesday when I had minor symptoms and I tested again on a Thursday morning because my symptoms kept getting worse. The first test had a really faint second line that I only noticed because I was using the flashlight app on my phone to check my results, so I took it again and got a much more clear line.

      Plus, the symptoms OP #2 is describing are pretty much only covid symptoms. This isn’t like a stuffy nose or sore throat that could also be seasonal allergies or something like that.

      1. Jackalope*

        One small point of disagreement: other members of the coronavirus family can also cause a loss of smell, not just COVID-19. I’m not arguing against this OP being cautious with the interview, just wanting to point out that someone could have these symptoms and have something else too.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Yes – loss of smell is common with sinus infections (and loss of smell can impact your sense of taste, so everything tastes kind of paste-y). That said, other symptoms would tend to come after a few days so that would help OP know, esp if they’re still testing negative on COVID tests.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            I’ve lost my sense of taste and smell with allergies, and also very mild sinus infections – so mild I didn’t really mind having them. Sinus infections usually hit me hard. Even so, I think the OP is on the right track.

            Even if you tested negative, it’s better to be cautious when you feel symptoms. I know several people who tested negative and kept up their social schedule. Turned out they had a variant form of the virus, and their home test couldn’t detect it.

            1. Clisby*

              I’ve experienced loss of smell/taste from sinus infections, too. I’ve never experienced having food taste *bad* – which I’ve heard sometimes happens with Covid – just tasting sort of like nothing.

              1. Dahlia*

                I actually get that one a lot when I’m sick. I’m prone to sinus infections, too, and sometimes all the gunk gets a funk and it can make your mouth just taste weird. (Being able to smell your own sinuses is indeed bizarre.)

        2. ThatGirl*

          Yes, it’s fairly common with covid but there are definitely other viruses out there that can cause loss of smell/taste.

        3. Sylvan*

          Yep. Honestly, I had covid and it felt similar to a flu, except I took Paxlovid and everything tasted bitter for a while. It’s not always easy to tell that you have covid.

          My point isn’t that OP might not have covid, so they shouldn’t reschedule the interview — it’s that they’re sick, whether they have covid or not, so they should reschedule the interview.

        4. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          COVID-19 is not the only possible reason OP#2 lost their sense of smell, but it is the most likely reason, just based on the statistics of who has that vs. other illnesses with the same symptom.

        5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Have to say that every time I’ve had a sinus infection I’ve lost my sense of smell for a week or so.

          Sadly due to genetics I have really crummy sinuses, so I’m far more familiar with sinus and inner ear infection symptoms than anyone would ever want to be.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I also zeroed in on the specific symptom. If OP were just tired (which would be explained by their situation) and also tested negative, I wouldn’t reschedule. For example, I have allergies, so I test when I have a runny nose but I don’t quarantine.

        If there are any unexplained symptoms, particularly the classic loss of taste/smell or persistent cough, I’d decline in-person meetings until I had gotten at least 3 negative tests.

    3. Emmy Noether*

      Seconded. I also only tested positive two days after my first symptoms. I’ve been hearing so, sooo many stories of people where that was the case, it seems very common.

      1. Eyes Kiwami*

        Echoing this, I have heard of many friends and coworkers who tested negative the first day of symptoms but tested positive a few days later. I know some people are willing to take risks after an exposure with a negative test and no symptoms, but I don’t know anyone (whose judgment I trust) advocating to take risks with active COVID-specific symptoms, even with a negative test!

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I was exposed to Covid at a training and was still testing negative two days later on a Friday afternoon. That night, I started to experience symptoms (sore throat and sinus drainage like crazy). When I woke up Saturday morning the coughing started and I had a very low grade fever. Took another test and it was positive, less than 24 hours after my negative test. I’m vaxxed and boosted, and even though my symptoms went away in less than a week, I tested positive for 11 days.

        If you think you might have Covid, assume that it’s Covid and stay away from other people. I avoided my husband like we were getting divorced until I tested negative, and he did not get it.

    4. amoeba*

      Yes, rapid tests have been around in Europe for a long time now and that’s always been a problem. Got even worse with Omicron and also strongly depends on the brand you’re using (some are much, much worse than others. There’s some lists online to see which ones are more reliable).
      Definitely wouldn’t trust one of them if I had symptoms – when I tested positive, it also took at least 24 h after the symptoms started, was clearly negative in the beginning!

      However, if somehow possible, I might look into the possibility of getting a PCR test? That one I’d trust much more. But in general, certainly better to postpone or move to Zoom.

    5. mreasy*

      I read that being vaxxed makes you more likely to get a false negative while being symptomatic because your body is fighting effectively and your viral load is reduced. So it is extremely common and not something to take lightly!

    6. Lilo*

      I’m also going to note that my uncle died if COVID despite being vaxxed and boosted (he had a medical condition that made his vaccine less effective). People do absolutely still die of COVID.

    7. Dust Bunny*

      I know of a lot of people who tested negative several times before testing positive. I would trust the symptoms over a single test.

    8. Poppy*

      Exactly! My boss tested positive with very strong COVID symptoms, refused to mask and was coughing in my face. He tested positive two days later and was dead within a couple weeks (unvaccinated). Don’t risk it!

    9. WritingIsHard*

      Second this. I felt slightly off the Monday after a vacation. Worked from home to play it safe. By midday I felt miserable and I still didn’t test positive until the following afternoon.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Second, third, etc. this. I haven’t had Covid yet, but just about everyone I know has had it at least once, and everyone’s experience has been the same – negative home test early on after the exposure/onset of symptoms, then testing positive a few days later. And a loss of taste and smell is a dead giveaway. You have it. Wishing you an easy case and a speedy recovery, and yes, please call your interviewers!

    11. NA*

      i was hella sick, tested negative. the next day, sicker, tested positive. you can definitely get a negative early on. please ask to reschedule (or zoom if you don’t feel bad!). i actually had to in my case, and we rescheduled a whole week later because, as mentioned, i was very sick.

  3. Observer*

    #3 – “Difficult” friend.

    Has your friend told you what their manager has said about the training? Of course the manager should tell them what the deal is. But, it’s quite possible that the manager HAS told them. And either they are not listening or they are interpreting this as “My manager hates me!”

    In any case, this kind of behavior can ABSOLUTELY put someone waaay down on the list of people who will get training. In fact, it could easily put them on the list of “people we won’t train or invest anything into and will only keep them around as long as we need some extra hands”.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Yes to this. The particular combination of sensitive/insensitive (ie, taking everything personally and easily offended, but trampling all over other people’s feelings and boundaries) is really hard to work with, and can definitely affect job opportunities. It may be a deliberate decision on the part of management – that your friend is competent enough to not get fired in her current role, but will not be considered for anything more, or more unofficial – like the person who does the training doesn’t want to spend any more time with the friend that they have to.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if the manager had said something your friend didn’t pick up on, or, if management is less effective (not unusual in retail), they realized that there was no way to give feedback without getting attacked and didn’t bother.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Well said. I’ve dealt with a couple of these and they don’t take feedback well, to put it mildly. Since everything is personal to them, any feedback offered will be processed as a personal attack.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Ooof. Yes. Had one of those back in the day. We never showed her even the most basic next step-skill because it was utterly painful to get through. Immaturity had a LOT to do with it, but her personality (? Might be the right word) was overwhelmingly brittle and aggressive. She knew EVERYTHING and nobody could tell her otherwise. And no, no she did not. Not even close. We spent 3 weeks explaining and re-explaining file naming structure. She argued it was stupid. Okay, great. We are not at the level that can do anything about it, its NOT onerous, and its what the next three tiers of supervision WANT.

          1. Riot Grrrl*

            She argued it was stupid. Okay, great. We are not at the level that can do anything about it, its NOT onerous, and its what the next three tiers of supervision WANT.

            We’re off down a rabbit hole here, but in my experience this is a common trait of people who see and receive everything personally. They are often unable to understand that they are only one part of a larger system, much of which they may not be able to see from where they are. If they don’t personally see why 3 copies of a TPS report are necessary, well then it’s just stupid and specifically designed to make make their life harder.

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              Agree, absolutely the case.

              In hindsight, I understand the file naming convention that was used WAS used because experience has shown me in the 20 years since that its pretty much an industry standard. Doesn’t matter what company created the file, I can pretty well guess at the substance of the file based on the name. ::shrugs::

              But yup, it was to make her life so difficult (*/s).

      2. Sylvan*


        I think that your friend has demonstrated that they aren’t going to do well with additional responsibilities or be open to training.

      3. Science KK*

        THIS. I have a coworker like this. Everyone is out to get her but are also stupid and only exist to do what she wants them to.

        She’s leaving for grad school and I am not sad about it.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It may be related to the nature of the testing task, as well as the training itself. I imagine what happens is customers sometimes bring in kit that’s broken or otherwise non-functional and the person testing it has to tactfully communicate that to the customer and have the conversation about “yes, I know its advertised that we will pay up to $20 for this but that’s for one in full working order and very few scratches on it” etc. From the description of the friend I don’t think they’d do very well in those kind of interactions…. Not giving the training may be a ‘conflict-free’ way of not assigning them that work.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This definitely sounds like someone who is employed only because it’s hard to hire right now. (And the coworkers might find that an insufficient excuse–management being conflict averse is very on the table.) They aren’t going to get assigned any new job duties–perhaps LW phrasing it like that might prod the friend toward therapy?

      Captain has a good point about communication being one aspect of the testing, and friend being terrible at this.

    4. Difficult Friend's Friend*

      Hi, OP here:

      The friend says that the managers tend to make “excuses” about why they can’t be trained. However, at their store, they are good at a different task (basically processing online sales, I think), and they’ve said that they’ve been told that they’re good at it. Most people I’ve talked to agree that they’re probably being kept on that task because they are good at it, even though they find it very boring.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Keeping someone on a task is a valid business decision. Businesses need each function done well, in order for the business to flourish.

        Reframing the situation might help your friend: while there are plenty of people who can test electronics, she’s mastered a ‘complex’ online system to process sales, which is a vital business skill in many industries.

        Don’t burn yourself out, though, with validating her skills. This is one of those “do you want me to help or do you just wanna vent” situations. She wants to vent.

        1. Observer*

          Your last paragraph is 100% on the mark.

          I mean, I agree with your whole comment, but this is the most important piece.

      2. Meanwhile Back at the Bat Cave*

        My work has grown exponentially lately (yay!) but that does mean now that not everyone is trained or tasked with the same things. It is a grand thing to have enough employees that not everyone has to do everything all the time, which means that not everyone is trained on everything. Staff can express interest in growing their skills/moving to a new area and as we hire more/need to fill gaps when people are out, we do train them IF they have the right basic skills. We will not put someone who is not good at communicating into a role that requires a lot of communication. We do not put someone who is not great at details into a role that requires a lot of attention to detail.

        It is likely that their outbursts and lack of communication are impacting how others see them at work. Testing can be frustrating, and moving someone who has a short fuse to testing seems like a poor decision.

        Mockingjay’s response is spot on too.

      3. Temperance*

        It’s actually probably because your friend is unpleasant to spend time with, so the management doesn’t want to train them on additional tasks.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Management is focusing your friend’s time on a part of the job that does not require personal interaction with other humans.

        Mockingjay has a good point that your friend may well want you to vent to, not to suggest ways to fix the problem. Even when those ways are evident to random bystanders outside the problem, the person with the problem can be completely resistant to hearing that there is any step they could take that would change the status quo.

        1. Observer*

          Management is focusing your friend’s time on a part of the job that does not require personal interaction with other humans.


          I suspect that your friend won’t be able to change that dynamic at the workplace. If they are going to want to move into a position that requires more interaction, they are going to need to get their issues under control and then find a new job.

      5. Jora Malli*

        I wonder if your friend’s manager was really making “excuses” like your friend said, or if they did give actual substantive reasons, but your friend isn’t in a mind space to accept those reasons because they’re attached to a no when your friend wants a yes.

        1. Salsa Verde*

          Right- that’s what I thought. “Excuses” are actually “reasons”, it’s just that your friend doesn’t like those reasons, or think that they are valid, so they see those reasons as excuses. If you ask for the specifics of the excuses, you might find that they are actually valid reasons.
          Of course, you don’t need to ask for the specifics, it does sound like your friend just wants to vent, and doesn’t want to hear anything that isn’t “yes you are right about this, your boss is 100% wrong”.

      6. Observer*

        The friend says that the managers tend to make “excuses” about why they can’t be trained.

        In other words, the manager is trying to tell her something and they are not listening.

        Most people I’ve talked to agree that they’re probably being kept on that task because they are good at it, even though they find it very boring.

        Which is a very reasonable move. Even if they were not difficult, it’s not unreasonable for a manager to keep someone on a task that they are good at. When you are talking about someone who is difficult to work with, and will therefore be hard to train and are also likely to unnecessarily alienate customers, keeping that person at a task that they are good at and doesn’t require anyone to train them (anymore) makes a ton of sense. The likely alternative is letting them go.

    5. TootsNYC*

      and not giving them the training is part of the “soft firing” that many companies and managers do.

      They don’t find the employee troublesome enough to actually fire them, and their model allows for people who are simply doing X job well enough (which I applaud, actually–people who do their jobs “well enough” deserve to keep their jobs), and the productivity and morale costs of firing someone are simply way higher than the negligible cost of keeping them on.

      But if they left, it would be a relief, so there’s no need to do any of the things you might do to keep them, and being low-level discouraging or uncooperative might prompt them to find a new job. Wins all the way around.

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Have to say I agree with this. It almost sounds like the store is content to let them tread water (keep working), but aren’t willing to spend money teaching them new skills (because they don’t see the personality traits of being difficult to get along with and overly sensitive and jealous as a combination that possesses management potential).

  4. Prefer my pets*

    One of my coworkers just returned to work from her sibling’s funeral. Someone who decided they “probably didn’t have covid and it’s just a mild bug anyway” came to work, gave it their parent who brought it home. Her family was all vaccinated and boosted, but her sibling had some (normally totally survivable and not a huge deal) immune system issues.

    Stay home and wear a good mask until you can get a PCR test. Please.

    1. Claire W*

      Yeah I ended up in hospital with Covid despite being vaccinated and boosted, I’m immunocompromised, but it’s not like I tell every person I might ever meet for an hour. If someone showed up for me to interview them and didn’t tell me they had Covid symptoms or try to reschedule/go remote I’d not even consider hiring them TBH, that’s so disrespectful of the interviewers.

  5. Fikly*

    LW3: Your friend hasn’t shown he can handle his current responsibilities. There’s no reason to train him in anything else until that happens. No reasonable manager is going to invest in training an employee in new things who can’t already manage what they’re doing.

    And yes, “soft” skills are part of this. He’s got customer interactions as part of his job, yes? I’m going to make a leap and guess that his interactions with customers aren’t professional, just like his interactions with his coworkers and manager aren’t professional. That’s step 1.

    1. Difficult Friend's Friend*

      Honestly, I personally agree. I’ve not been telling them that their own behavior is probably also preventing this promotion/training because they get extremely defensive and tend to argue when they are confronted with their own behavior, which definitely shows a resistance to feedback if not a lack of self-awareness..

      1. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

        I have had friends like this who will counter that they shouldn’t have to be ‘fake’. It’s not being fake, it’s being polite, it’s part of being an adult, and it’s the reason grownups can have ice cream for dinner if we want.

        1. Observer*

          I have had friends like this who will counter that they shouldn’t have to be ‘fake’

          Whoever got that whole narrative about “authenticity” going has a LOT to answer for! Discouraging people from acting like adults and learning how to get along with all sorts of people is just such a abdication of reason and sense.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Not to mention that I’m pretty certain they would not care for how other people responded to their “authenticity” without that veneer of politeness. I tend to find people who don’t feel they should be “fake” for the sake of politeness have very different feelings about how “fake” other people should be toward them.

      2. TootsNYC*

        sometimes you can tell them “your boss is probably focusing on people who are good at shutting down their personal reactions and being ultra buttoned up, extra professional” (i.e., your boss is seeing good things in other people) instead of “your boss isn’t giving you opportunities becuase you are unprofessional” (i.e., your boss is seeing bad things in you).

        But of course, this person sounds really invested in this “everybody hates me” POV, so they probably won’t listen.

      3. Esmeralda*

        Wow, [Name], that must be so frustrating!
        Oh yeah, [Name], I can see why that’s upsetting for you.

        They do not want advice. They do not want to hear the truth. Don’t exasperate yourself by offering either.

      4. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        The best and maybe only thing you can do is keep it personal. “When you said xyz thing to me, it hurt my feelings! You’re my friend and I know you didn’t mean it that way, but it did still hurt my feelings.” That cannot be argued with and MIGHT pave the way for them to see their behavior from the outside, as it were. (Sometimes you can extend that to “If you said that to me, I would really be taken aback.”)

  6. A Genuine Scientician*

    For #1, I can also recommend that if a coworker has previously expressed an interest in a hobby you do as a group, invitations to that — even if extended to just a single coworker rather than all — can also work in ways that don’t seem date-like.

    “Some friends and I are going to play board games / take a painting class / go bird watching / etc. this weekend if you’d like to join us” is often pretty safe from misunderstanding in a way that more one-on-one or more typically date-like activities (eg: watch a movie) are not. The “join us” is pretty key, rather than “join me”.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I made some of my closest friends when a colleague invited me to join her bookclub.

    2. Somebody Call A Lawyer*

      The other key thing is inviting more than one colleague to the group activity with your friends, because otherwise it could still look or vibe like you’re harboring romantic interest if you invite only one colleague.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        and of only one seems a match right this moment, this might work as another useful follow-up: “do you know if any other coworkers might be interested?”

        Even if the answer is no, the combo of “join us” and “I’m willing to invite others” defuses a lot of date vibes.

    3. Smithy*

      Another way to compliment this, is if you have a hobby/activity that you do socially, is to find normal social breaks to talk about it. This can be over lunch/getting coffee – but also in those smaller “what did you do last night/over the weekend” moments, actually sharing an enthusiasm for your interest in whatever activity.

      Even if it is going to see major motion picture releases as opposed to something more niche, lots of people don’t like going to the movies alone. So knowing that someone else enjoys seeing the #1 movie in the country after work on a Tuesday, can also make it more about an activity you like doing as opposed to a more typical date type activity. Similarly, if your office is in a happy hour or restauranty place – getting dinner/drinks can be a date but they’re also activities a lot of people enjoy but won’t do on their own.

      Ultimately finding good group activities or coded platonic activities to invite people along to helps a lot, but the more people know what you like to do – no matter how “basic” – that also gives people a chance to express their own interest.

      1. Smithy*

        Quick point on this – my intention was to say that if you talk about what you like doing, it gives other the chance to say it sounds fun or even invite themselves along. So “wow, I’d love to see the a movie after work – I’d be happy to join you guys if you’re open to newcomers” or “your restaurant adventures sound awesome, I wish I knew more people who liked to eat XYZ food.”

        On its own this isn’t enough, but it can make it a lot easier. And sure, lots of people will say “oh that sounds neat” and have zero intention of ever joining you. But if gives you a lot more insight.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        One way to de-date-i-fy stuff like movies or restauranty or artsy stuff is to make the invite for daytime activities.

        “Hey, remember when we were talking about Pixar stuff? I’m thinking of going to their new movie this weekend. I’m thinking early matinee because I’m in the mood for a giant bucket of popcorn for lunch/cartoons with an audience of kids can be fun/etc. You’re welcome to join if you’d like”

        “Or there’s a flower show, surfcasting expo, etc etc that I was thinking of checking out Saturday morning. Any interest in meeting up?”

        Also, inviting more than 1 person as well can help.

      3. Youngten*

        You also reminded me that some Tuesdays movies have lower ticket rates. That would also be a good way to get a group together. “Hey, ABC movie theater has 1/2 ticket Tuesday! Anyone want to catch the latest flick?” I’d say test to that in a second.

    4. Aerin*

      Captain Awkward did a great post about how a man could establish mentoring relationships with young women (I won’t link to avoid spam jail, but if you google “captain awkward goofus and gallant” it should be the first result), most of which would apply here. The piece that seems the most relevant and potentially effective would be to extend a social invitation from you and another woman (a partner, a relative, or a close friend). Like “My wife and I would like to have some people over for dinner” or “my sister and I are getting a group together for karaoke.”

      Also, if they suggest inviting other people to the first hangout, say yes no matter what. Even if it’s someone you actively hate, even if it might mean you don’t actually spend any time talking to the person you want to get to know. You’re establishing that you’re not trying to get them alone or control the setting. Once they know you’re a safe person, vetoing extra invites won’t raise the same sort of red flags.

    5. Pony tailed wonder*

      You could also send an email out inviting folks to form a bowling, kickball, or whatever team to represent your company. I have also seen local businesses get teams together to do charity 5k’s.

    6. Youngten*

      Also, look into local events like music festivals or 5K races… “Hey, did you see there’s a food festival in town soon? Anyone want to go?” Try to see if you could do a little planning to. It’s harder to get people to say yes on short notice. Try to find the most outgoing/talkative of your coworkers. They’ll probably get others on board with little to no awkwardness. Im very introverted so I struggle in this area but found that asking questions helps a lot. I’d ask things like “how did you choose this field? Or what did you study in school? What lead to you to this job?” Id ask this when we’d be in the break room and you’d be surprised how much people are Will to talk. Be willing to talk a little about yourself too. Good luck.

  7. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. At the moment, my local town is hosting an end of the summer funfair. It’s quite common for groups of people to go up after work, go on the rides and have something to eat and drink. This is a good opportunity to talk to people you perhaps don’t spend as much time with.

  8. Artemesia*

    I think if you are a guy working with mostly women you should not be looking to workmates to be personal friends. It may evolve that way, but if I were you I would be looking for other settings to build personal friendships — would be joining meet ups, or political campaigns or organizations related to your hobbies or interests, church if you are religious. It is always a bit tricky to make friends at work that are friends outside of work but it sounds like particularly so in your setting.

    Sure try to get some group things going — happy hour, going out for lunch with a group etc and that may get established as a thing which makes work more socially satisfying. And maybe some of that will lead to invitations to hang out after work. But I would not expect that.

    1. one L lana*

      I wouldn’t write it off just yet — I’m a woman whose four closest work friends are all men, and I’ve seen men on heavily female teams end up as the only dude in a work friend group. But a lot depends on the culture of your office, including age and marital status. If it’s a younger group that tends to be chatty and friendly, and it’s just a question of getting the group to make room for you, I think Allison’s suggestions are likely to pay off. If people are older, more settled, and don’t see work as a social outlet, you’re more likely to make friends by clicking with people individually — and that’s a bit trickier, though not impossible.

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      I suppose if you think people should never seek to make friends at work that makes sense, but I don’t see why the genders matter for that. A woman working with mostly men could use the same advice in making sure her invites are perceived as friendly and not romantic.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I can understand why he’d feel hesitant about how asking an individual woman to socialize might be received, but what’s wrong with befriending female coworkers?

      1. ...*

        I’ve mentioned on this site before that at my first professional post-grad job, my best work friend was an opposite gender peer who was over a decade older than me. We worked super well together and had similar senses of humor, and we still stay in touch to this day, several jobs down the line. Drawing a line at gender for work friendships that could turn into personal friendships naturally is unfortunate – there are some great potential work friends being missed out there by those following those rules!

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Lots of workplaces have gender discrepancies! If we use that as a barometer for whether someone can make platonic social overatures, we’re going to be holding people back. I think we should discourage that line of thinking.

      And, frankly, even if you’re doing all those other things you mention, it’s nice to have some light social connections at work. You spend a significant amount of time there.

      1. Smithy*

        Strongly agree with this. I will also say that later in my career, having good friends that I met through work is SO helpful professionally. Someone who you talk to regularly about fun stuff is much easier to also ask for professional advice or insight, and often someone you get a stronger sense around how to trust. I have some work friends I trust nearly 100% on their professional opinion…and others where it’s closer to 50% – but I got to that place by just knowing them more as a person.

        I also commend the OP for thinking about how to do this because while there may be a gender discrepancy that makes it relevant to be mindful – making friends post college in general is hard. And some workplaces have really easy social pathways, where others just do not and you have to make that stuff up on your own.

    5. MK*

      Regardless of the gender issue, making friends with your coworkers is not a given, and the OP sounds a bit like he thinks it is. I don’t think it’s a good attitude to go in to a new job “trying to make friends”; be friendly, suggest social activities like Alison suggested, and friendships may or may not happen.

      1. Kes*

        This is where I land. I don’t think you should write off the ability to make friends based on gender, but making friends with coworkers is not a given and if your coworkers seem resistant to your overtures of friendship, you may need to find other places to make friends.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        I agree with this take, especially if OP has been trying without much success. OP, by all means try the tips here (GROUP invitations, float lunch hour activities too), but at the end of the day, you may have colleagues, not friends.

      3. Cringing 24/7*

        This is where I am too – I, personally, don’t want friendships from my coworkers and I very gently shut down overtures to such. I do, though, think it’s very harmful and regressive to imply that men and women can’t be friends at work (or anywhere) or can’t seek each other out to become friends before seeking out people of matching genders (and where would that leave nonbinary people? Can they just friend everyone or no one?).

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          Sorry if it’s unclear, that second sentence is in response to Artemesia while only the first is in response to MK.

        2. darcy*

          I’m bisexual so clearly I shouldn’t be trying to make any work friends because everyone is a gender I’m potentially interested in dating

      4. Malarkey01*

        Every work friendship I’ve had (and I even married a coworker) has started with a longggg in-office period of friendship. Chatting before meetings turning into group lunch invites turning into stopping by each others’ desks to chat at the beginning or end of the day and then EVENTUALLY someone saying hey there’s this thing (happy hour, movie, hobby event) after hours we should do it. By that time I was already office friends so it seemed normal. I worked in one office where an after office happy hour social routing was already established and I just joined that but otherwise I feel like for a lot of offices it starts as on the clock friendliness way before you have after hour things.

    6. Allonge*

      It’s tricky to make friends, period (once you can’t just dump a bucket of sand over someone else’s head).

      But I don’t think we should be like ‘don’t even think that your other-gendered coworker might be interested in becoming friendly’. Yes, there are major issues with gender and entitlement and so on in workplaces. Separating getting coffee by gender is not going to address them.

    7. FashionablyEvil*

      Eh, I’m a woman who works in a field that skews female and I’ve had plenty of male colleagues who I’ve been friends with over the years. The friendships evolved through a combo of working on projects together and the fact that I’m one of those people who likes to go out and grab lunch or afternoon coffee and would invite whoever to go with me.

      1. Books and Cooks*

        Yes, I’ve pretty much always worked with guys, and I’ve pretty much always ended up friends with them.

        And I don’t think OP is looking for a whole new circle of friends for outside work as well as inside, he just wants to be friends with his co-workers, to make work more enjoyable, too.

    8. ThatGirl*

      My husband is currently the only guy in an all-female office in a profession dominated by women, and he’s absolutely made friends at work. I think it does help that he’s married, they’re married, and none of these coworkers have met me yet but they had at his last job. But he’s made these friends by yes, doing social things within the work day or work context, and then graduating to inviting them to -say- meet up at a brewery with me and their SOs in tow, so it’s clearly a group hang.

    9. Ana Gram*

      Oh I don’t know. I’m a woman who works with mostly men and we’ve definitely become friends who socialize over the years. It’s always group stuff like going tubing or to a brewery but it’s really fun to hang out outside of work and have a chance to relax.

      I did get invited on the annual hunting trip but 3 days in a barebones cabin without plumbing or electricity didn’t scream fun to me…

    10. revengeofpompom*

      This advice seems out of step with modern social mores, assuming the letter writer is in the US. Men and women can and do spend time socially, and you will likely encounter people of other genders in all of the other places suggested in this comment (all genders, for example, have hobbies, engage in politics, and attend worship services). I am speaking as a female attorney working in the United States, for context. (Personally I find it more helpful when people indicate their industry and location when giving work advice, as something that is normal in one context may not be in another; I find the teapot and llama stuff unhelpful for this reason, personally.)

    11. Former Gifted Kid*

      Yeah, I also don’t get why the genders matter. My husband currently works with mostly women. Before the career change, he was in a heavily male dominate field. He’s made good friends from workmates in both scenarios. In fact, he now has a nice friend circle made of up mostly women that he used to work with in his current career. None of them directly work with him right now, but they’ve been great help with networking as they’ve moved on to other jobs.

      Work friends can make work more enjoyable and can help your career later. If he didn’t want work friends, that would be valid. But if he wants friends, saying he shouldn’t try because of the genders involved seems a little gross.

      1. Former Gifted Kid*

        Actually, I’ll add that I have worked in a female-dominated industry my entire career. I have definitely made friends with male colleagues. And mostly in the context that Allison suggested. Someone will suggest a group activity like happy hour, or a hike, or going to a movie and whoever wants to come, comes. A lot of times that ends up with 4 or 5 women and one man in the group. Sometimes that man has been a single straight dude. It has never been a problem. I will say none of these straight single men never expressed an ounce of romantic interest in any of the women at work so it was generally accepted that they were “safe” to hang out with. And really, that seems to be the crux of OP’s question. How can he make sure that his desire to be friends does not come across as romantic interest. Generally, I think, if a man treats women as if they are actually people and doesn’t flirt with anyone, they’ll be fine. (The bar is so so low)

        1. Aerin*

          Yup, I think that’s exactly the OP’s concern, and honestly I’m a little surprised that so many people seem hung up on the “men and women friends, what?” angle. Establishing yourself as a safe person in a new group does require a bit of strategy and awareness. (And plenty of people with romantic partners will still try to get into other people’s pants, so just saying “I have a girlfriend” isn’t enough.) Mainly it’s about keeping it casual and not trying to get anyone alone.

    12. PsychNurse*

      I’m a nurse, so the male to female ratio is usually something like 1 to 10. If the men weren’t allowed to socialize with us, they’d be excluded from everything! It’s all about being clear about your intentions.

      The other thing is— I know this is going to sound gross— at first, you may want to target the older and less conventionally attractive people. Like, if you’re a 30 year old male, and you start by saying to Doris, who is the age of your grandmother “Maybe we can all get lunch after that team meeting on Thursday”, nobody is going to accuse you of hitting on her. Then, later, when you make the same suggestion to 27 year old cute single Kylie, people will hopefully realize, “Oh he’s not asking her out, he just likes to socialize, he’s made the same suggestion to a lot of us.”

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        You knew it would, yet you went full steam ahead. I guess good on you for the bravado, but maybe try working on this.

        There’s nothing wrong with male colleagues socializing with their female peers, or other gender identities. Work friendships are an excellent way to better learn corporate knowledge, network for career advancement, and to possibly find long-term meaningful personal friendships.

      2. Revengeofpompom*

        This is terrible advice and no one reading this blog should follow it. A few things: (1) The Dorises in your office are actual human beings and shouldn’t be used a props in your “I hope the young, hot women don’t think I’m a creep” machinations; (2) a person can absolutely come across creepily in their interactions with young female coworkers irrespective of whether they also ham it up with Doris; and (3) using words like “target” when conveying your approach to interacting with women is, at best, yucky and, at worst, predatory. Actually, I just went back at your comment and saw you’re a psych nurse …you must know better and know you should do better. Neither your coworkers nor patients deserve your self-described “gross”ness.

    13. RagingADHD*

      What an odd take.

      Some offices and some people are more prone to making outside-of-work friends than others. But the world has moved on a lot from “men and women can’t be friends,” like in When Harry Met Sally.

      1. Mischa*

        Seriously. I’m a ciswoman, my best friend is a cisman, and we are both bi. If we avoided making friends because we could hypothetically develop feelings, then we wouldn’t be able to hang out with anyone.

    14. Sparkles McFadden*

      I disagree with this. We spend a lot of time at work so there’s no reason not to be friendly, especially if that reason is thinking “I can’t be friends with the opposite sex.”

      I was almost the only woman anywhere I worked and group invitations are the way to go. “I’m going to get a drink after work, who wants to come?” or “I’m going out to get coffee. Anyone want to take a walk?” That’s it. Just a general invitation and there will be no weirdness. I have long time male friends from the workplace and I’m friends with some of the spouses too…and you don’t have to be friends for life to walk up to the deli and grab a sandwich. Sometimes it’s just nice to have company, and annoying coworkers annoy you less if you take a walk with them to get donuts for everybody.

      Bringing treats in to the office is a nice way to break the ice. I always had a candy dish, even in shared workspaces. It’s a way to find out about people in a casual way. (I could write a book on the psychology of people around a candy dish.)

    15. Captain Swan*

      As a woman who has spent 20+ years working in male dominated fields, if I didn’t cultivate friendships with male coworkers I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to or network with.
      I’ve done tons of group activities happy hours, sporting events, dinners, a graduation party or two, etc and never had any issues. Of course for most of those we were encouraged to bring along our spouses, significant others so some of them became my friends to.

    16. TootsNYC*

      I think the LW is already alert to the risks of indicating a romantic interest, or being interpreted as sexually harassing.

      That alertness should count for something!

      The one thing I might suggest is to ask a colleague **and their partner** to do something together.

  9. one L lana*

    For #1, Allison’s suggestions are good. I’m not sure why, but a coworker I barely knew inviting me to plans with no connection to work would strike me as coming on a little strong (regardless of the gender/relationship status of the parties involved) — and I’m someone who has met many treasured friends at work. It’s tough when you’re new, but I do think most work friendships start as a slow burn — desk-side chatter, coffee breaks, “I’m going to lunch, wanna walk with me?”, happy hour… and then maybe you graduate to weekend hangouts, game nights, and so forth.

    1. Lyonite*

      Seconding this. Different workplaces have different cultures about socializing—at some it’s part of the regular activities and at others it just doesn’t happen. I’d take some time to figure out what yours is; not to say you can’t change it, but it’s going to be off-putting to people if you show up and start doing things differently. (For what it’s worth, I’m not big on hanging out with my coworkers, however much I like them. I just like to keep my work life separate from my downtime, and it’s possible some of your colleagues are the same.)

    2. Formerly Ella Vader*

      Yeah, I want to take it more slowly when it’s a co-worker I’m making friends with, because of the awkwardness of backing up if it turns out I don’t actually like hanging out with them socially, or they like me more than I like them, or they turn out to be someone I don’t want to be connected with in the workplace. In fact, if a co-worker comes on too strongly in trying to socialize, I’ll probably start avoiding them just because that behaviour suggests to me that they might be too emotionally needy or something.

      I know this makes me sound like some kind of old crank.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I think this is totally reasonable! You have to keep working with the person even if you find out that, say, they shop regularly at Hobby Lobby. (True of a lovely, now retired, colleague of mine. She mentioned her love of Hobby Lobby and I was like, “er, yes, this is going to need to stay a superficial work friendship because I REALLY don’t want to know how deep those politics go.”)

        1. Jim Bob*

          I feel like inferring someone’s politics because of where they shop is a little strong. For someone who doesn’t keep up with the news, Hobby Lobby is a nice craft store.

          1. ThatGirl*

            It’s not like there’s been one isolated story there, though – Hobby Lobby is KNOWN for its evangelical ties, anti-birth control stance and anti-LGBTQ stance. Even if you don’t keep up with every aspect of the news or know that they’ve literally stolen ancient artifacts etc, you should at least be vaguely aware of that.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              You’d be surprised.
              I keep running into people who don’t know that Chick-fil-a has made donations to anti-gay causes.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Anyone who doesn’t know about Hobby Lobby at this point might be willfully sticking their head in the sand.

                1. Books and Cooks*

                  So what if they are? Or maybe they are aware, and just don’t care?

                  Not everyone is so obsessed with politics or social issues that they let it affect everything in their lives, and not everyone has the same priorities. I might not like where a store donates its money or what its owners believe, but I love that I live in a country where they have the freedom to do so, and I support that freedom. And if a store that donates to Cause X is the only store of its kind in a 50-mile radius, which is certainly possible in a lot of areas, I’m shopping there if I need those things.

                  It’s not like there are no companies donating to the causes Hobby Lobby doesn’t support, either, or like I’ve never donated to those causes. I’ll buy from stores owned by people from countries whose major religions are against the same things Hobby Lobby are against, too, or whose owners also follow those religions, even though I disagree with their stance just like I disagree with Hobby Lobby’s. People are allowed to believe what they want, and support or not support what they want, or care about those issues or not when it comes to making buying decisions, and in the end it pretty much balances out, imo.

                2. Former Gifted Kid*

                  I can’t reply Books and Cooks, so I’ll reply here. Unlike Chick-fil-a, it’s not just about where the owners donate their money or what they believe. Hobby Lobby has, multiple times, sought legal ways to discriminate against their employees. The successfully won their case to deny health insurance coverage for reproductive health (including birth control) for their employees. They tried (and thankfully lost) to get an exemption so that they could legally discriminate against LGBTQ employees. They also refused to pay coronavirus sick leave for their employees and generally treated their employees horribly during the pandemic.

                  And if you don’t care about that at all, they also spent over a billion dollars to smuggle illegally looted antiquities out of the Middle East. Many of the artifacts were from Iraq. The artifact trafficking trade is deeply tied to the arms, drugs, and human trafficking trades in conflict areas. Hobby Lobby knew this and didn’t care.

                  Yes, sometimes it is the only store of its kind for 50 miles and that blows. I wouldn’t personally blame someone for shopping there in that scenario. But I might look at someone askance if they have a choice and choose to shop there. It’s not just about where they donate money. It’s about how they treat their employees and that they fund war crimes.

                3. Nameless in Customer Service*

                  Not everyone is so obsessed with politics or social issues that they let it affect everything in their lives,

                  Some of us have no choice but to be “obsessed,” as mischaracterized here. For some of us, our mere existence is politicized. Anyway, no one said people can’t “believe what they want”, just that some people take what others believe and express into account when deciding how close to get to them.

              2. to varying degrees*

                Yep. While it seems crazy to me (I just looked and yes, I have 6 news apps on my phone) there are A LOT of people who don’t pay attention to the news. Mar-a-Lago raid? nope. Mid-terms? nope. Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial? nope. Ukraine war? yeah, maybe, is that still going on?

                It is very easy for me to believe that there’s a ton of people who no nothing about Hobby Lobby.

          2. FashionablyEvil*

            I mean, that wasn’t the only indicator that our politics likely diverged significantly, but it was also at the time where Hobby Lobby was all over the news for suing over the birth control mandate. Like I said, she was a lovely colleague and I wanted to keep thinking of her that way/not open the door for knowing too much about her politics in a way that would have made it harder to work together.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            I feel like this particular example, it was reallllllly hard not to be aware of that particular news. Certainly other stores/companies might have a similar stance but it may be less well-known. This once way less likely.

        2. Come On Eileen*

          I like to shop at Hobby Lobby. If you assumed anything about my politics from that, you’d be wrong AND you’d be missing friendship with a pretty awesome person (i.e. me).

          1. ThatGirl*

            OK but… their stands go beyond “agree to disagree” type stuff. So an assumption about how you vote might be wrong, but I can at least infer that you don’t care what kind of message you’re sending to people who do care about abortion rights, lgbtq rights and similar issues.

        3. OyHiOh*

          On the one hand, yes, I absolutely do wonder a bit about the person who deeply loves Hobby Lobby (or Chik Fil A for that matter) and on the other, I just moved out of a community of about 100,000-ish people and the only, I mean only place to buy art supplies in person was Hobby Lobby. New City has many more options, including a high end art supply store, and I do not go to HL anymore. Before move, I was in that damn store about once a month.

      2. UKDancer*

        No I think this is absolutely right. I made a mistake in my early career of socialising with one work colleague quite a lot as we got on fairly well. We discovered we had a fundamentally different view on a major social / ethical issue and had a fairly significant argument. The working relationship never quite recovered from the personal disagreement.

        I take things a lot more slowly now when deciding which of my colleagues to socialise with. I mean I’ll go for coffee with most people unless I violently dislike them, and when there’s a group going to the pub I usually tag along for a short while (because I’m not wildly keen on pubs and London booze prices are iniquitous). But I don’t have any deeper socialisation until I’ve got to know people properly and quite often until I no longer work with them. Two of my closest friends are people I’ve met at work but we didn’t become proper friends until we stopped working together.

      3. Office Lobster DJ*

        I will join you in the Old Crank’s Club. We’ll start by nodding to each other in the hall, and if all goes well, we can add a “how’s it going?” in a week or two. Just joking, but yes I also take socialization more slowly if it’s someone I can’t otherwise avoid, at least at first.

  10. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP1: The ways that have worked for me (I have a lot of male friends, and some are very good ones from work) are basically saying something like ‘there’s a few of us going to do X thing on Saturday – if anyone wants to come along the more the merrier!’

    This establishes that it’s not an attempt at a shady date.

    Although I’ve got my best results from finding out who’s into online gaming of whatever form (words with friends all the way up to RPGs) and offering to join. This is also btw how I found out that I really, really, do badly at word games but in a way people find funny :)

    And of course, disregard anything that says men and women can’t be just good friends.

  11. Despachito*

    OP1- this is a tricky one, and more so due to the genders involved.

    It may well be that I am exaggerating, but if a coworker asked me to have coffee one-on-one, I would take it very differently if it was a woman and if it was a man. In the latter case, I’d be considering the possibility of mild overture of hitting on me, and whether by consenting I do not expose myself to a potential awkwardness. (I hate this mindset because I like communicating with both genders with no sexual connotations, but so far I have been unable to fully get rid of it).

    So I like Allison’s proposal of group activities to be clear that it is totally aromantic.

    1. amoeba*

      Yeah, I think one on one it really makes sense to build it up naturally in the work context. If the guy from the desk next to mine – who I’m already casually friendly with/chat regularly – asks me whether I want to join for a coffee break in the kitchen, I would definitely think nothing strange. This could then certainly also lead to out of work activities later.
      If they ask me for a coffee after work out of the blue – definitely a bit weird. On the other hand, if they ask the whole group, again, not so weird.

    2. Allonge*

      I mean – it’s a good idea for OP to start with a group activity but I think it should be possible to treat getting a coffee at work as just that, regardless of gender (absent evidence to the contrary of course).

      1. Laney Boggs*

        Sure, it should be possible!

        But, many many women have reason to be wary. I’m sure LW 1 knows how to act, but there is a loud, difficult, and sometimes dangerous minority that don’t.

    3. Cate*

      I definitely feel awkward (even when it’s not, it’s me!) asking other women for coffee when I’m at work for similar reasons because I’m a lesbian. They aren’t assuming I mean anything by it, but I feel like for my own sake I have to be really clear. I imagine when it’s a straight man and a straight woman the need to rebuff the assumption is even stronger.

    4. Gnome*

      As a woman, I feel similarly… Or at least it crosses my mind and is ruled in or out as a possibility depending on what I know of the person. That said, there are ways to make it less of a thing. For instance:

      That meeting was brutal, I need to go grab a coffee and maybe walk it off – care to join me?

      I heard you got a puppy/are looking for an apartment/knit/ etc – I have an interest/experience/need help with/etc. something similar. Any chance we could talk/swap stories/compare notes in the break room over lunch?

      The idea is that you are either doing the thing as coworkers in some way (it’s because of the shared meeting/training/etc) or it’s about a potential shared interest or topic of discussion. In both examples it’s still part of the work day, but it opens the door to get to know people better in small groups or one on one.

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It would depend greatly on the dynamics. I can’t think of any man I currently work with who I would think twice if we grabbed a coffee, regardless of who initiated it – but in past jobs that’s definitely felt different. It sounds like OP isn’t terribly close with these coworkers and that could make the risk of being misconstrued much higher.

      And to be clear – I don’t necessarily think that’s fair. You’re with these people eight hours a day, coffee is casual enough, it shouldn’t need to be couched with expectations. But humans are complex creatures who are not by nature great at communication so it’s good to keep these things in mind.

    6. JustaTech*

      There are other benefits to the “group activity” thing – some people would not feel comfortable hanging out with a new person one-on-one but would be fine going with a larger group they already know.

      I had a coworker invite a bunch of us from work over to her new house for drinks/ show off her new place. It was a nice time, but I know that I would not have gone if she hadn’t invited other coworkers, just because I would be too shy. (This would also be true of a new person to one of my friend groups too.)

    7. allathian*

      Yeah, I think the suggestion to start with casual group things is a good one. Later, as you get to know people better, some might even like to go for a coffee with just one coworker at a time, regardless of gender.

  12. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    I’m always gratified when Alison says not to listen to your parents :D So often their values are good (if not some unrealistic ideal), but the execution is just terrible. When I was 21 I told my dad I was leaving an overseas internship halfway through because the employer had illegally confiscated my colleague’s passport “for safekeeping” and was having all of us do work for her other business, which could have all gotten us deported anyway. Dad freaked “You NEVER should be the one to break a contract, that’s terrible work ethic and what if she doesn’t write you a good review?” I had to explain to him that local police were involved so my colleague could get the passport back so I wasn’t counting on a review. Sometimes parents just want to storyboard your life but you’re the one who has to factor in all the other people involved.

    1. MK*

      I think taking advice from older generations always had to balance the advantage of their experience with the disadvantage of that experience being outdated. But now this has been amplified by the rapidity things have changed; the 1970s were a different world compared to the 1940s, but present day seems like an alternate universe compared to the 1980s.

      1. Despachito*

        This makes me very wary of giving any work advice to my children, as I am aware that they may very well have better understanding of the current situation than me.

        1. Allonge*

          Well, let’s not go too far in the other direction either. Advice is fine, especially if you give some context. Insisting that they follow it despite all is a different matter altogether, and that is what parents will need to be careful about.

          Plenty of things work the same as they did 50 years ago (just as plenty of things that apply this year will be outdated by February).

          1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

            I love this! That balanced advice is key while also supporting autonomy and bring okay with your child making mistakes. I taught international communication and professionalism courses to people new to the workforce and was surprised to learn that expectations have changed (I’m only thirty) with employees (at least here in Europe), not expecting slacks and button downs at interviews anymore. On the other side, I had to explain why holey jeans and no-call/no-shows still are a bad idea. I guess it’s kind of like descriptive vs prescriptive linguistics; people don’t actually speak like dictionaries say they should.

        2. Jay*

          I give work advice to my kid within certain constraints.

          1) She asks for it.

          2) It’s about building relationships and/or communication, areas in which I actually have (up-to-date) expertise


          3) I am repeating something I learned here. And yes, I pointed her toward AMA when she first started applying for internships – I piqued her interest by sending her links to some of the more outrageous letters – and I also bought her Alison’s book. She’s been offered every internship or job she interviewed for, so she learned something somewhere!

        3. TootsNYC*

          I’m a relatively hip person at 62, and I find that the reason I hesitate to give advice is not because I’m unfamiliar with work norms of today.

          But because I’m unfamiliar with the standards her generation is holding onto, and I think she has a right to demand to be treated X way or she’ll quit. I’d never do that, in the situations she’s talking about; but I think she has a right to hold to those norms. And she may well be right to do so.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        The immune system and the importance of not killing people accidentally hasn’t changed though. This is not a case where they think asking for a job in person by hitting the streets shows more gumption, because of ye olde difficulties of getting someone on the phone. This is a case of “keep your mouth shut and with some luck, no one dies” What are OP’s parents thinking? I always think people like to downplay scary stuff precisely because they are scared of it, but they’re also behaving like OP will never get another interview. In fact a lot of bad parental advice seems to boil down to “put up with anything, it’s astonishing they are even willing to deal with you”, which I can only put down to excess anxiety. It can’t be what they actually think of their kid’s chances.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          It’s possible the parents think the antigen tests are 100% certain. I know my dad utterly believed that getting the flu injection not only prevented him from getting the flu but would also prevent him from getting any colds. And my grandmother would insist that a doctor was useless if he or she sent somebody for a biopsy for cancer and it turned out they didn’t have it. “They thought he had cancer and he didn’t have it at all. Sure, what good is a doctor if they don’t even know if you have cancer or not?”

          It’s possible they genuinely believe that the LW has tested negative, so they don’t have covid, so what’s the problem? In my experience, a lot of people don’t understand that tests can be fallible.

          I mean, this is all the more reason to ignore their advice, but it may be a lack of understanding of what the result means rather than a lack of concern for the possibility of spreading it. I was horrified when a facebook friend tested positive for covid one Thursday and said they hoped they tested negative on the Saturday so they could attend an event that day. As it happened, they actually developed symptoms on the Saturday and obviously didn’t go, but I got the impression they truly believed that they could test positive Thursday and Friday but if they got a negative test on the Saturday, they could attend a busy event without putting anybody at risk. People really don’t understand.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      “I’m always gratified when Alison says not to listen to your parents”

      Fortunately, my kids internalized this principle at an early age.

    3. Poppy*

      My mom would give me (female) advice to bring in baked goods and Christmas presents for my coworker including the ones who tried to get me fired while never giving my brother the same advice. Wild thing is that she worked in a male dominated, professional industry for years and never did these things herself!

      1. BubbleTea*

        I think parents sometimes have a hard job believing we are competent adults who can build good reputations at work by being good at our jobs (and therefore need to take brownies into the office to curry favour). My mum overheard my side of a work call while she took care of my sick baby and expressed how impressed she was that I sounded like I knew what I was doing.

  13. Phryne*

    #4 I think that you interpret the term cost of living differently than your partner. You seem to use the term as a change in household expenses due to choices made by an individual, such as changing family circumstance. When I hear the term ‘cost of living crisis’ used on the news, what is referred to is everything getting more expensive and this is something no one individual person can do something about in any way. English is not my first language so, I will offer no view on which one is correct, if not both, but this might explain the difference in your view towards the subject.

    1. Abby*

      “I just bought a new car and need a raise so I can keep making the payments on it” is very different from “everything is going up in price and I am going to be unable to afford to pay my basic bills if my salary remains at the same level”. One is a personal choice, the other is circumstances.

      In what is currently a jobseekers’ market, employers that don’t take the cost of living into account over the next few months are likely to start to lose their most talented people. This should be an across-the-board increase (with a higher percentage increase for those on the lowest salaries) rather than something people need to ask their boss for individually.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Hello, Phryne. You’re right, and you make a good point. There is such a thing as “lifestyle inflation,” where you spend your raise as soon as you get it. But “cost of living” refers to the cost of basic necessities of life. Right now, those are going up across the board in most countries, and there’s a limit to how much any individual can do to reduce them just by personal economy.

      Ideally, employers should provide a cost of living increase to all employees, with additional merit raises based on accomplishment. Not all employers live up to the ideal, alas.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      You’re correct: Cost of living refers to basic expenses that individuals can’t do much to control. Buying a house or having a family are personal choices that aren’t part of inherent cost of living.

    4. doreen*

      “Cost of living” adjustments or raises are a thing everywhere from social security benefits to pensions to salaries although they may not fully compensate for increases in the cost of living. This is essentially what across- the-board increases are .When everyone gets a X% increase regardless of merit, it’s because a dollar no longer buys what it used to. When people say that expenses are not a good reason for asking for a raise, they aren’t talking about either of those things – they are referring to someone asking for an individual raise based on their individual circumstances such as buying a house or having a child.

      1. Riot Grrrl*


        Where I work the policy is explicit. There are two kinds of raises: (1) cost-of-living, which is across the board and automatic and (2) merit-based, which is awarded on a case-by-case basis based on things like greater productivity, more responsibility, increased skills, and longevity of service to the company. What we don’t have are “My kid’s tuition just went up and I need more money” raises.

    5. Kit*

      Yep! There is a difference between cost-of-living (usually pegged to things like rent rates/food/etc. – things that are affected by inflation) and a particular household’s “life costs” (expenses/bills). The former is an economic metric used by businesses and the government to determine whether wages are keeping up with inflation, among other things; the latter is about individuals, like whether there are multiple earners in the household or how many kids there are and so on, and it is absolutely not something most workplaces will take into account when it comes time for raises. Nor should they, lest we revert to the days of promoting/rewarding men for being assumed to be their household’s sole breadwinner. (Places that still do it suck, and they deserve to know they suck, but it is no longer a business norm.)

    6. COLA*

      Phryne you are spot on.

      ‘Cost of living’ refers to general consumer price inflation, not an individual’s life choices.

  14. Not a mouse*

    #3 – I also wonder how good your friend is at self-directed work. This testing sounds like basically “play with it to see if/how well it works.” I have coworkers I would definitely not assign that task because I would not see them the rest of the day. (Heck, if someone assigned *me* that task I would have to monitor myself carefully to make sure I didn’t spend all day at it, particularly if my other duties were a lot less interesting, which in retail they probably are). If the person were difficult on top of it, and bad at taking feedback, then I would doubly not give them this task, knowing how it would probably go if I had to go find them, pull them away, and have a conversation about time management.

    1. Difficult Friend's Friend*

      Honestly, sometimes their insecurity seems to get in the way of a lot of their own efforts. They once admitted that the “breakdown” they had was caused by their manager jokingly telling them they’d broken everything because they popped up with an error on the register or something.

      However, this person once also got offended when someone told them their personal art was improving because it meant “they’d been bad at it before”, so their response to feedback is also quite poor…

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this is hard. I have a friend-ish who is like this and it’s basically impossible to respond to anything she says/asks because any answer you give is taken negatively. I even tried asking her what I could do to not push her buttons and she insisted I just be “honest”, which I know from experience is not going to work by itself.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Your friend could definitely use some therapy, it sounds like.

        But also – you do not have to be their counselor. This is not on you to fix. :)

        1. EPLawyer*


          If you want to help your friend, remember it’s not your problem to fix. You can make suggestions like get therapy. but that’s it. You can’t actually solve the problem. Only they can. It’s not your job, or your life.

          If you want your friend to just shut up and stop complaining about work, you need to make it clear you don’t want to talk about work anymore. No more sympathetic noises when they complain, just because you don’t want to deal with them when you aren’t supportive. Plain and simple “let’s not talk about work right now, I just want to detach and have fun. How ’bout them (insert sports team or whatever you talk about that is not work related). if your friend isn’t getting what they want from you when they complain about work, they will stop.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Echoing. And even if you are okay being the sounding board – that doesn’t mean you have to fix it. Noncommital humming goes a long way.

      3. Observer*

        However, this person once also got offended when someone told them their personal art was improving because it meant “they’d been bad at it before”, so their response to feedback is also quite poor…

        That’s a bit of an understatement. This person is untrainable as it stands.

        This is NOT something you can fix. And if you can’t even mention to them that their behavior is an issue, you can’t even do much to help them.

        I agree with the others – the best thing you can do for yourself is to limit how much talk about the terribleness of the job you will accept.

  15. kitkat*

    #1 Wow, sorry you have To be so careful about such a natural thing.

    I really dont have an advice, but I think it must be draining to have to worry about inviting a colleague for a Lunch for example. I work in femail dominant field (healthcare, in scandinavia), but i have always had male colleagues as friends and seen such friedships around me.

    1. Wisteria*

      It IS draining. My experience being a gender minority in my field is that I do have to be careful how friendly I am lest it be interpreted as a come on. I gave up initiating opposite gender friendships at work (although I will respond if an opposite gender person makes the overtures bc seriously, it’s not 1955 and hasn’t been for a long time).

  16. Alice*

    OP, your parents must have done something right to raise a child who can tell when their parents are actually wrong and get outside expertise! Thank you for taking this seriously.
    I hope you don’t have COVID, and if you do, I hope your case resolves fully and quickly.
    If you need some more evidence to persuade your parents that your approach is right and their approach is dangerous, show them this info about serial testing:
    Good luck with the interview and job hunting process.

    1. mlem*

      I suspect the parents don’t even care whether the test is right, and that their mindset is, “Well, if it is Covid, the interviewers CAN’T be mad, because you had a negative test! Of course they’ll think it’s entirely reasonable of you to assume that a negative test meant you were in the clear!” This seems to be the thinking of people for whom in-person commitments are sacrosanct.

      1. BubbleTea*

        My mum definitely wouldn’t think I should go to an interview if I thought I had covid, but she has been a little freaked out when I’ve taken time off sick (I work from home so wouldn’t be infecting anyone, but if I’m sick I need rest!) or had to take time off to look after my son when nursery closed. She worries that I’ll lose my job and that fear clouds her judgement.

  17. Lady_Lessa*

    LW1, I am female and a chemist, I have almost always found it hard to get to know my other women workers. Partly because our work is different, most of my colleagues have been male and partly because my personality and life choices have been so different. Single vs married, live in the same area vs moving around the country, etc.

    I think that doing things as a group is a great suggestion and getting to know each other over coffee and/or lunch in the break room. Another idea is to help out with undesirable tasks such as cleaning out the refrigerator.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Sorry for the aside, but I’m currently reading a novel called “Lessons in Chemistry” about a female chemist in the 50s/60s and what she goes through… You’d probably find it interesting!

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Thank you,

        I just placed a hold on the book through my local library system. (When I get home, where I can download it better, I will switch it to the ebook.)

  18. Harper the Other One*

    OP 1 – don’t forget about opportunities to build general working relationships, because in my experience that often leads to friendship! “Let’s grab lunch while we talk about that report” or “why don’t we grab a coffee on our way to the client meeting and you can fill me in on background” are 100% work appropriate invitations that can evolve into friendship organically, and you won’t have to worry that the invitations will be misinterpreted because they have a clear business purpose as well.

    1. You Can't Pronounce It*

      Yes, this! As a mother, I am more hesitant to do after work activities because I have things to do with/for my family and I want to see my kids before bedtime. However, I enjoy doing lunch or coffee during the day because it builds better work relationships, is quick, and doesn’t interrupt my family time.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Agreed. I always liked doing it this way because it made a nice break in the day and I’m not inclined to be besties with people at work anyway.

  19. I should really pick a name*

    Just out of curiosity, why is hanging out with your co-workers a specific goal?

    There’s nothing wrong with it, I’ve made friendships with co-workers that lasted longer than the job, but it’s never something I was explicitly seeking. I made a point of being friendly, and just found I connected with some people organically.

    As to how they happened:
    I joined some coworkers who would go for walks during breaks.
    Through random chatting, I discovered that the person who sat next to me shared a lot of my interests.
    Once a month the company would go out for drinks after work (optional)

    Also, if you’re concerned about gender dynamics when inviting someone to something, let them know that their partner (if they have one) is welcome too.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I was surprised that Alison didn’t mention that perhaps this is too much to aim for.

      I think a good goal is be friendly and personable with work colleagues, but not necessarily become friends who hang out outside work.

      In adulthood you may find friendships at work, but you should find friendships through other ways. I think it’s best to work on making friends other ways and just getting to know your colleagues at work – have lunch, walk together, chat during the day – or maybe at after work drinks if that’s something your office does. I wouldn’t invite them to anything more until you’ve made a stronger connection and you think they’d enjoy what you’re inviting them too.

      I know as a child and even in college making friends is easier and is often just constant proximity and being the exact same age. (Also kids have lots of recess / colleges kids lots of downtime allowing for intimacies of friendship to develop quickly.). Once an adult it’s harder to make friends, but also the place the spend most of your time (work) is no longer the ideal place to make friends in a lot of cases.

      The exception is as a recent college grad at companies that hire an entire cohort of recent college grads. That still resembles college in lots of ways.

      I think the goal at work should be friendly but not true friendships that have outside of work component unless you get lucky with an individual or two.

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        This is a weird take. I would be concerned about anyone on my staff that felt they couldn’t be friends with their peers.

        1. The Person from the Resume*

          Hmmm … I do t think it’s weird at all.

          I have work friends, but the people I hang out with outside work I haven’t met at work.

          Don’t try to force it.

    2. The Original K.*

      There’s nothing wrong with it, I’ve made friendships with co-workers that lasted longer than the job, but it’s never something I was explicitly seeking. I made a point of being friendly, and just found I connected with some people organically.
      Exactly. I’ve said before that if people want to become friends at work, they will. They spend 8+ hours a day together; they’re bound to eventually find commonalities if they have them. Like you, I’ve made friends at work but I don’t go into work with a goal of making friends. Being friendLY, absolutely, but making outside-of-work friends might happen or it might not, and that’s fine by me. I made one friend at work because I’d see her in the gym a few blocks down after work, which turned into working out together, which turned into grabbing dinner after, etc. We were in the same phase of life (early 20s and single) so that worked out well. It was a nice thing that happened, but not a goal.

    3. Loulou*

      Not OP, but OP may like specific coworkers and want to become friends with them, which is pretty normal. Or they may want friends in general and view work as a potential way to make them, which is also normal. Or they might just feel it’s more pleasant to spend so much time together at work if they also know their coworkers outside of work a bit.

  20. glowormjukebox*

    While I understand that it’s probably a good look for OP #1 to be aware of gender balance, I think it could also go the other way around. As in, he’s one of two dudes, so if he asks anyone to be social at work, they will most likely be a woman! That’s just a numbers game!

    A “new” colleague (not very new, but haven’t seen her a lot in person because of covid) just invited me to dinner with her and her family next week. Getting to a place where she did the inviting and I was like “yea sounds awesome” meant lots of small and pleasant interactions in the office or virtually in unit meetings (private messaging about something small), being on the same committee during the summer, so seeing her more frequently, then having lunch in-person with her and one other person to debrief about a training we went to, a few personal texts back and forth. So yes, kind of like the slow burn others were describing.

    Another thing to think about… I have several friends/colleagues who would peace out of ANY social/group setting because they just thrive better in 1-1 settings. I know OP said group settings preferable, but its likely that at least one of those 13 women at work is not going to want to do a group thing, but would be up for a low-pressure coffee…

  21. Dust Bunny*

    LW2: I know a TON of people who have tested negative several times before finally testing positive–omicron is a sneaky b*stard. So, yes, absolutely tell them you have symptoms and ask to reschedule/Zoom/whatever.

    Also, if they balk, you don’t want to work there. I know you might not have the luxury of being picky, but if you do, how they handle this should factor into your interest in the job.

    1. installing updates (17%)...*

      Case in point: my partner consistently tested negative when we had the same symptoms. I tested positive. Same symptoms, and he works in healthcare to boot. At the time, omicron as circulating around his practice. He never tested positive. Both of us know we’ve had it based on my positive test and our mutual symptoms, and ostensibly his negative tests were a fluke. It was impossible to be in such close contact and not have passed it between us.

      I vaguely recall some time ago that the recommendation was that if you have symptoms and have been exposed, you have COVID, regardless of if a rapid test is negative. (Partly because the tests are wrong some not-insignificant portion of the time, and partly because people do the tests wrong!)

      1. PotsPansTeapots*

        Yup, avoided a test because my partner tested negative and I just caught his “cold.” Fast-forward 2 more days and I had a 102 F fever and, of course, a positive test. Same thing happened with my parents, mom had it bad and dad seemingly never caught it while sleeping in the same bed. Particularly when people are (thankfully) vaxxed and boosted, you can get a jumbled presentation of symptoms.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      My work says to test on day 3 and 5 after exposure, based on a NYTimes article from like 2020 about how long it takes the virus to replicate in your body enough to show up positive on a test.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        The variants that have come up since that advice can take longer to test positive for – 5 and 7 is what my doctor says at this point. It’s all very frustrating and hard to know what to do because the advice is constantly changing (I’ve been writing COVID policies for two years people expect me to fully understand it but there’s always something new).

  22. ZSD*

    #2 – If your parents are Baby Boomers, like mine, then just don’t listen to them when it comes to anything having to do with Covid. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration.) My brother and his wife canceled their family trip to Florida when their daughter got Covid and of course they couldn’t bring her on the airplane. My mother thought they should have just “stayed quiet,” taken her on the plane, and enjoyed their trip to Florida. Ugghh.

    1. Beverly Crusher*

      My parents are boomers, and so are a lot of my friends’ parents, and that doesn’t ring true to me at all. Most people I know that age have been taking it very seriously. Covidiots come in all ages, as do reasonable folks.

    2. Velomont*

      Love the Boomer generalization. I’m a Boomer and anytime I’m in an public indoor setting (eg grocery store) I’m about the only one still wearing a mask. And at my workplace, surrounded mostly by 20 and 30-somethings, again I’m about the only one still wearing a mask.

    3. Temperance*

      I think it’s more of a political bent than Boomerism, but there admittedly is some overlap in the groups. My Boomer MIL is a denier who caught it, gave it to her elderly (unvaccinated) mother, and then hosted an in-person funeral. And she has long COVID, and still denies that it killed her mother.

    4. HannahS*

      I mean, a majority of physicians and scientists are baby boomers, because that’s how numbers work. It’s not nice to stereotype.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        Not actually true. The youngest Millennials are now 25, and there are more Millennials alive in the US than there are living Baby Boomers in the US currently.

        Still, the point about stereotyping is valid.

    5. PhyllisB*

      I’m a Boomer, and I strongly disagree. In fact, my husband and I take it more seriously than our children/grandchildren do. They’ve brought covid to us twice. (Luckily not bad cases) and only one has been vaccinated because it’s required for her work. Not all Boomers live with their head in the sand.

    6. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Boomer parents here too. It was hard at the start because my Dad was inclined to pooh pooh some of the stricter measures and I was probably over cautious. (We had a kerfuffle when I didn’t think it was worth the risk to go pick up chocolate for Easter in 2020 and he tried to do some creative rules lawyering over gathering limits the following Christmas). He has gotten more cautious, though and I’ve had to loosen up after teaching in person so I’d be less inclined to discount his advice.

    7. doreen*

      This Boomer would have told my daughter “hell, no” if she had been planning to travel when one of my grandchildren had Covid. However, my daughter would never have done that – she’s very close to my same-aged niece, but daughter hasn’t seen niece and her kids since March 2020 because niece and her husband are very much the “stay quiet”, anti-vax and “no need to wear a mask/isolate” types.

  23. I should really pick a name*

    I feel like LW3’s friend should be more concerned that they’re going to lose their job than about training.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      They should be, but it sounds like they’re across-the-board not realistic about the problems here.

  24. installing updates (17%)...*

    #1 just for your peace of mind, and this is not meant to discourage you, but don’t take it personally if your colleagues simply don’t want to socialize outside of the office. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s you or anything you’ve done. Some people draw a hard line between work and personal, and that extends to friendships. They* will have “work friendships” that are beyond collegial, even transcending into emotional intimacy, which can be confusing, but nonetheless once the work day ends and they clock out, they clock out of those relationships, too.

    It’s kind of like the show Severance, but without an actual brain implant.

    *Me. I am they. It’s hardly ever been personal and I have several “work friends” who I feel a real kinship toward, but nonetheless I have no interest in socializing with them outside of work. Maybe it is because I already devote so much time and energy to managing these workplace relationships, and I need to preserve some energy for myself and my other relationships? Anyway, if one of them kept inviting me to socialize, even in group settings, it might actually make me retreat in order to maintain my own comfort and boundaries.

    You should still extend an invitation, but if people are consistently declining, they might simply approach it the way I do. In which case, there are meetup oriented websites and apps you might have an easier time making friends through (because these are people who have signed up with the express purpose of socializing!), and hobbies are always a great way to meet new people that you already have something in common with.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “Some people draw a hard line between work and personal, and that extends to friendships.”

      And some people simply don’t have the bandwidth! You never know what people have commitments to outside of work. I love socializing with my coworkers but I just don’t personally have the time a lot of days.

      I agree with meetup groups and hobbies, great alternatives if the work angle doesn’t pan out.

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        Yes, this. I work to fund my life, which includes my family and friends I’ve had for decades. I’m fortunate to be fond of my current set of coworkers (I have had some I was NOT fond of) but I only have so much time, I can’t spare them much outside of work hours. They’re lovely interesting people! But there are only so many hours in the day.

    2. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I am also they! I am happy to have collegial, friendly, grab-coffee/grab-lunch work friendships, but I don’t have a lot of bandwidth for anything beyond that. I’m already at work with you, I love coffee, and I need to eat lunch, so sure, let’s grab lunch and you can tell me about your native gardening hobby and I’ll tell you about my quilting hobby and we’ll also talk about last month’s numbers, but then at 5 p.m., you’ll go home and I’ll go home and we’ll spend time with our families/friends/pets/whatever.

    3. allathian*

      I am also they. I enjoy cordial working relationships with the vast majority of my coworkers, and I invest in those relationships while we’re working for the same employer. Some of these relationships develop into work friendships. But I’ve never made a genuine friend at work, the kind that I’d be interested in hanging out with in my leisure time. Sure, I’ve gone for after work drinks occasionally, although not since Christmas 2019, but the occasions tend to be few and far between, and always include most of my team, or a project group. And once the dear work friend retires or quits (or I do), the friendship tends to fade away. I’m a member of a professional association for networking purposes.

      My bestie is the kind of friend I could call in the middle of the night and beg for shelter if our house burned down, and she could do the same to me and I’d be there for her. Apart from her, I have a handful of really good friends who’ve been my friends since junior high or high school. The acquaintances in my circle can all be classified as friends of friends, or friends of my husband, I’m happy to hang out with them when a mutual friend’s event throws us together, but I frankly don’t have the bandwidth to make any effort to see them. I also put former work friends in that category, in the sense that I’m happy to see them at conferences, but not invested enough in the relationship to make the effort to see them otherwise.

  25. DisneyChannelThis*

    LW#1 please don’t get discouraged by some of the comments here. I’ve been in weddings for people that I started off knowing as coworkers, I’ve spent many a happy Saturday chasing kids thru science museums whose parents I met as a coworker, I’m 5 years out from a job and still talk regularly to former coworker friends from it. Plenty of adults make their friends through work. Plenty of those friendships become meaningful and long lasting. In life and relationships you often get what you put into it.

    1. CTT*

      Yeah, I’m a little confused at some of the responses to this question assuming that he’s looking for a deep one-on-one friendship from the jump; LW said that he wants to hang out “preferably in a group setting.”

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I mean maybe not “deep” – but even a group of platonic work friends to fill your social meter can be more than a lot of people are looking for as they set work/life boundaries. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out but I agree OP shouldn’t get his hopes up or take it as personal rejection if people aren’t into it.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          “I agree OP shouldn’t get his hopes up” – Literally the opposite of what I am saying.

      2. Qwerty*

        I found it predictable based on past debates in this comment section. There’s a faction which seems against any non-work interactions with coworkers.

        The concept of a “work friend” as a light work-inspired friendship is nothing new. Often they take place over the types of activities AAM suggests like happy hours and workday lunches. Once the work connection is gone it might fizzle out or turn into “meet for a drink/lunch once a year and catch up”.

        I have vastly more “work friends” than “deep friends I met through work”. It makes the job more enjoyable when we’re amicable with each other, especially if long hours or stressful projects are involved.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Some of my best friends are former work friends! Mainly from toxic job where we trauma bonded. I think at my current job I have more of the “work friends” level but I like that too, it makes work pleasant.

        2. Humble Schoolmarm*

          Yup! I’m awesome at making “work friends” and quite bad at making “deep friends”. If I was in a “Work is not for friends” environment, I would be miserable and very lonely. I completely commiserate with OP for wanting to cultivate some buddies. I also totally agree with Alison, group lunches and coffee runs have been the way a lot of those friendships have been formed.

    2. ...*

      I also find it strange that people are disparaging him for wanting any kind of friendly relationship with coworkers beyond “Here’s the TPS report, hope you have a good weekend” – people saying “Lunch or coffee with my coworker is more than many will want” – I’ve certainly worked jobs where all I did was keep my head down and log the hours, but when I got into my *career*, friendly work-friends became invaluable. People I still stay in contact with from previous jobs who I could hit up and ask hey, what’s your office’s policy on X issue? or Are you going to Y conference? Let’s get lunch! – things like this are VERY normal in my field, and I describe them as “work friends” and they start exactly the way OP & Alison are describing – with activities that could be described as “hanging out” mostly on and occasionally off the clock.

        1. Anonosaurus*

          Uh what? I’m a fiftysomething female and if I thought my work BFF, who is a man, was befriending me as cover for being able to befriend the 25 year old who sits next to me, is be pretty pissed. Fortunately I think he has more sense and actually just likes me!

          In my experience you can be friendly with everyone at work at one level, but only a handful of people will become friends outside work. And that is okay because we don’t like everyone we work with. I worked with a man 20 years ago who is still a good friend and I’d hate to have missed out on that relationship. It was easy for me to make friends with him as he was very obviously happily married (and still is!) and anything else was not even in the room let alone on the table. That simplified things. We went from talking at work to the occasional coffee/lunch to post work drinks every now and again. We no longer work together but still socialise from time to time and he and his wife were at my wedding.

          I do understand the OP’s hesitation about not wanting to be misinterpreted, but I think the suggestion of making the invitations more general is a good idea. As time passes, the best way to seem safe and not creepy is … just to be safe and not creepy. If you behave platonically and respectfully, over time it will be apparent that you genuinely want friendship and it doesn’t have to become an issue. But gender per se is not a barrier to friendship and it would be depressing to think that it was.

    3. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Welcome to a strange, small subset of the AAM comment section, where any attempts at creating friendships/socialization beyond generic small talk and greetings are seen as extreme and not appropriate for the workplace!

      1. Everything Bagel*

        I see people saying they don’t particularly care to have friendships outside of work, but not that it would be inappropriate for others to do so.

      2. NLR*

        I think you are primed to see it here because i just read all the comments and didn’t see anyone saying anything like that.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          I concede I could potentially (most likely) be projecting prior comment sections onto this one.

      3. installing updates (17%)...*

        This comment is off base; nobody is saying that. It is not necessary nor is it helpful to exaggerate because you don’t agree with somebody else’s completely reasonable boundaries.

        People are sharing their own comfort levels regarding workplace friendships while also giving the LW advice how to navigate being the new guy and wanting to make friends. We’ve had numerous letters to this site where a person writes in expressing how hurt they are that their workplace relationships fizzled out after separation of employment, so there is value in a person being reassured “it’s not you, it’s how some people approach work”. We’ve also had numerous letters where a colleague has crossed or risks crossing a line because they overestimate the intimacy of a workplace association (e.g. a recent post involving a letter writer wanting to intervene with a coworker based on an assumption of self harm, on the basis that that coworker had previously confided they were having mental health struggles).

        Point being, friendship dynamics in a work setting are fraught with additional challenges, customs, restrictions, and idiosyncrasies, and knowing that people have different expectations of work relationships can only help the LW.

    4. Moo*

      Yeah I have lots of friends from the various places I’ve worked. Actually some of my best friends now are people I worked with. (caveat I’m not in the US, so maybe it’s cultural).

      Different places I’ve worked definitely have different opportunities for friendships. When I was in my early 20s I worked in a place with a lot of people a similar age and we did lots of happy hours together, even weekends away, concerts and lots of other things. As I’ve moved around definitely the age/family profile changes that, because people are busy etc. But I still really enjoy coffees or lunches with colleagues, both one to one and in small groups, even where there’s no chance of outside of hours hanging out (because of life stuff).

      My advice is to start small – join people for coffee breaks, or suggest a few people take coffee breaks together – 3 people on a break/lunch is a good number for people who don’t know each other so well, it can keep the conversation flowing, after that it’s just picking up on commonalities, sometimes being a social organiser. All of that can make work a friendly environment, even if things don’t develop into friendships… but honestly as I reflect I don’t think I don’t have at least one persistent friend from any place I’ve worked longer than a few weeks. I wish I had more time to keep in touch with all the great people I’ve worked with in the past!

    5. Maggie*

      Could not agree more!!! Most my friends made post college are people I met at work. I met my husband through a work friend who he was friends with from work they did together. My best friend met her husband and tons of friends at work. I’ve been in the wedding for a friend I met at work. I’m the emergency contact for someone’s dog that I met through work. This is where you spend a lot of your time – I see no reason to needlessly write people off as “only work people”. Also I’m seriously curious where people who don’t socialize with co workers ever meet their friends and partners?

      1. allathian*

        I do socialize with my coworkers, but mainly during the workday, on or off the clock, during coffee breaks and lunch. Obviously I’m closer to some than to others, but there are people I consider work friends, and we talk about quite personal things. But my work friendships tend to be very situational, and once the working relationship is over, the friendship will also fade away sooner or later, because I’m not invested in keeping it alive.

        I socialized a lot more with my coworkers when I was a recent college graduate in my 20s than I do now, or have done since I met my husband, whom I met when my bestie’s husband was work friends with one of my husband’s friends and they set it us up because we were the “perpetual singles” in each friend group. It’s a lot more tempting to go for after work drinks with a group of nice coworkers when the alternative is to go home alone, than when you have a lovely family to go home to.

        My experience is very different than I expect it would be for most US employees with a college degree, namely that I stayed in my hometown when I went to college, and I also didn’t have to relocate for my first post-college job, or any subsequent job. In college, I went to France for 6 months as an exchange student and to Spain for another 6 months as an intern, and I’ve never socialized as much with my coworkers as I did during that internship. Most of my friends did the same thing as I did, so the friends I see most often have been my friends since junior high, high school or college. I’ve only made one close friend since then, a woman whose daughter is a few months older than my son, we met in a mommy group and have been friends for 13 years.

  26. Nay*

    Deserved or not, #3 is definitely a “Quiet Firing” scenario that everyone’s been talking so much about lately.

  27. Temperance*

    LW #3: it sounds like it’s your friends attitude at work that might be holding them back. Think about this: if you have to spend your time training someone, that means you have to spend time one-on-one with them. After your friend had their meltdown at management, they probably lost a lot of trust/goodwill.

    There’s nothing your friend can do to force the testing. And candidly, if it’s the kind of thing I think it is, it doesn’t sound like a good task for them. It requires working with customers quite closely, and with their emotional modulation issues, might not be workable.

  28. PhyllisB*

    I’m a Boomer, and I strongly disagree. In fact, my husband and I take it more seriously than our children/grandchildren do. They’ve brought covid to us twice. (Luckily not bad cases) and only one has been vaccinated because it’s required for her work. Not all Boomers live with their head in the sand.

    1. smeep248*

      I agree with you – my mom is a boomer and I am a millennial and her and I are the only ones in the family taking it seriously – many of my younger cousins refuse to get vaccinated. I definitely would not accuse boomers of this – particularly as they tend to be more at-risk when you factor in age.

    2. Proud Boomer*

      Boomer here, you are totally correct. I take it more seriously than my children. I’m a regular reader of AAM, but I hate the casual ageism that permeates the site and that Alison tolerates it. Much more sensitivity is shown to other types of discriminatory comments when they rear their ugly head. Not cool.

      Dismissing all advice from parents is not wise, certain knowledge and certainly wisdom comes only from life experience that has been distilled and refined. I’ve heard many cases of regret that good counsel was not listened to, seldom the opposite.

      1. Nameless in Customer Service*

        I’ve heard many cases of regret that good counsel was not listened to, seldom the opposite.

        What data one collects often depends on where one stands.

        I have not a few friends who are LGBTQ, in interracial and intercultural relationships, have very unconventional jobs, and so on, many of which situations have been advised against by their parents, so I may have heard a higher proportion of useless parental advice to useful parental advice than you have.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        If you think there are comments that Alison might/should find unacceptable it’s best to flag with it a link, otherwise she simply may not have seen it. I’m with you in finding it a bit much when people judge an entire demographic with a lazy stereotype.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I don’t think the issue with parents and career advice is really about age. It’s more that parents are often not in the same career and don’t know the norms there. Taking advice from anybody who doesn’t have any experience of the topic being discussed is usually not a good idea and there are some parents, who because they knew best when it came to their kids’ school lives and so on, think they will continue to know better than them, but when it comes to their careers, the kids are often doing something very different from the parents and therefore, the parents’ advice is not applicable.

        I think it would be just as true if siblings or partners or children were giving advice on career specific things that they had no experience of, but that tends to be less common (with the possible exception of partners) as people often have a need to put things right for their kids that they don’t for other people.

        And honestly, I have regretted listening to poor advice FAR more often that I have regretted not listening to good advice (don’t think I’ve ever had the latter problem). I think it is at least as common to regret listening to poor advice as it is to regret not listening to good advice.

        And to be honest, I think that generally advice from people with less experience in an area than you have yourself is likely to be bad. For example, as a teacher, any advice my parents could give me on most aspects of teaching would be either so obvious as to be something I would either have thought of myself or they wouldn’t know enough to be able to give any kind of advice. This isn’t age related. The same is true of my sister, as she isn’t a teacher either. Anybody who has not worked in a school is not going to know the norms there beyond the bare essentials.

        I didn’t take Alison’s “don’t listen to your parents” advice as “don’t listen to older people” so much as “don’t listen to people who don’t have experience in hiring when looking to know what people hiring want.”

        Of course there ARE some exceptions. A parent warning a young adult child that what their boss is doing is bullying is something that might be more obvious to somebody with life experience even if it’s not in the same field, but beyond very general stuff, family members in general are probably more likely to give poor advice than good advice. To most people.

        I do think that in my experience older people tend to be more responsible about covid than younger people.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I agree completely. My parents are teachers and they are the first to tell me that their advice may not be applicable because a. it’s outdated (they retired 15 years ago) and b. they taught at a different grade level. I have gotten lots of great advice from them over the years (and the fact that the way my father describes his dream approach to teaching is the way we’re doing things now does give me pause when I get ranty), but I do have to filter advice through those two caveats and we all realize it.

          Now, my co-millenial friend who argued it’s perfectly fine for people at the education department to have flexible sit/standing desks while teachers make do with surplus from the 70s because “you don’t sit when you’re with the kids anyway”….

        2. OP 2*

          I think this hits the nail on the head. Neither of my parents have had to do an active job search (or had to hire for one) in decades, and their current positions both come with their own quirks that aren’t the norm for your everyday office position.
          It’s not solely an age thing, and it’s not fully a political thing too–my parents are liberal, pro-vax, etc., they just are entrenched in older ways of hiring where employers have all the cards and you need to kowtow to them to stand a chance.
          Funnily enough, keeping in mind that that’s NOT the case, and that I’m interviewing them as much as they are me, is one thing that’s served to majorly decrease my interviewing anxiety and increase my confidence going into an interview. Another thing I have Alison and AAM to thank for, right there!

  29. OP 2*

    Haven’t read through all the comments yet, but I wanted to provide a quick update: I contacted the interviewers and they both agreed to swap to Zoom interviews, which is more convenient for me anyway. No guilt on my part, no problems rescheduling, it all worked out perfectly!
    And my parents also suggest things like working unpaid overtime to “go above and beyond” at my current job, or keeping high school honors on my resume when I’m in my late 20s, so I was pretty sure their advice was off here too. But hearing it from Alison certainly helped me make that push to ignore their advice in this instance as well. (My relationship with my parents is weird anyway, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion…)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Definitely stop listening to your parents for work advice. It sounds like you have a good intuition of your own, and their advice is very outdated and could get you into trouble. I think a noncommittal “hmm okay thanks for that perspective” is all you need to get out of it, but not sharing your work problems is of course another solution. Friday open threads are a great place to get advice instead!

    2. OP 2*

      And to clarify a bit further: the only symptoms I’ve had are decreased senses of smell and taste. Nothing visible, nothing that would impede my performance at the interview. A second rapid test taken yesterday was also negative.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That could be something as mild as allergies, but it is a common covid symptom and if you gave me that specific detail as an interviewer I’d be more comfortable switching to virtual.

      2. Nancy*

        That is also a symptom of other respiratory illnesses, so you could be coming down with something else.

      3. Observer*

        As others noted, it could be a lot of things. Almost certainly respiratory, most of which are quite communicable if it’s not allergy. So, the precautions make sense anyway. I mean, you don’t really want to give someone the flu, either, right?

        It sounds like these places are reasonable, so it’s all to the good.

      4. lazuli*

        Oh, good, both on the rescheduling and on the lack of other symptoms.

        In these situations, I normally try to think through, “What would happen if the worst-case scenario happened here, and would I be comfortable explaining my actions or lack of action in that case? Or would it be more awkward if this came out later?” So in this case, if you said nothing to the interviewers, kept the in-person interview, and then found DID have Covid, you’d probably (I hope!) feel like you needed to call them and tell them they were exposed, that you had known you were potentially exposing them, and that you did it knowingly and without telling them. Or, even worse, if one of the interviewers developed Covid and then called you to let you know you’d been exposed, and then you’d (I hope) need to let them know you were the likely cause; if they got very sick, or got a family member very sick, I… doubt, at the very least, they’d want to hire you.

        This might not work for everyone, but this is how I deal with my conflict-avoidance: I think through how much WORSE the conflict will be if I don’t speak up now, especially since people will likely be angry I didn’t say anything sooner, so I avoid the hypothetical awful future conflict by facing the current not-nearly-as-bad current potential conflict.

    3. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Well done! Get well soon!

      Someone once told me, “Most advice is a form of nostalgia”. A lot of advice that people give is a form of saying “this is what I did that worked/this is what I wish I had done” but it’s set in a different time with different mores and just doesn’t work for the present.

    4. Alice*

      OP — thank you for taking the situation seriously. If everyone were willing and able to act like you, the world would be better. Good luck in the interview and I hope it’s a great fit!

    5. Be kind, rewind*

      Yay! Sounds like a good outcome. Good luck with interviews, and I hope you continue to test negative!

    6. OP 2*

      Another update: The place where I’d had a Zoom interview already decided they want to meet with me in person after all and rescheduled for Monday, which works for me.
      I had the other interview via Zoom, which turned out to be a bit of a bust, but not because of any wrongdoing on my part–the job ad was a little vague and didn’t get into one major part of the role that requires skills and experience I don’t have yet. The place did keep my resume on file in case they get an opening that’s a better fit, though, and at least I didn’t have to make the commute in-person to find that out!

  30. Katie*

    I appreciate the inflation answer because I felt bad bringing up to my boss that my 6% raise is effectively a pay cut. Felt ungrateful, because hey, at least I am getting a raise at a nonprofit. But now I feel like I should have been more firm in asking for appropriate compensation.

    Is one stance possibly that this serious inflation is temporary so my salary shouldn’t be adjusted up for it quite yet?

    I don’t know, I’m just always scared about asking for more money without justifying it with how I’m so amazing. Right now it’s really just that the bills are piling up and my salary is no longer keeping pace.

    1. Gracely*

      I think it’s definitely worth asking for more money/a higher raise to keep up with inflation if that’s an option for you. Especially if your job is in demand.

      Inflation is generally caused by either too much $$ in the system(aka: ability to demand more), or too little supply. The issue with this particular inflation (and why it’s a worldwide issue and not just a handful of countries) is that it’s due to a lack of supply, largely caused by covid. Places have had to raise prices because that’s their way to make the same money despite their lower supply. But we all still need essentially the same stuff as we did before the supply decreased. We’re not actually demanding more than is normal, it’s that there is less for us to buy. That’s what really has to be fixed before it will improve.

      The baby formula crisis is a good example of what’s happening–there weren’t suddenly more people demanding baby formula. There was a sudden decrease in how much of it was available. Making it more expensive/making it so fewer people could afford it was not going to fix the problem; getting more made or shipped in was.

      Unfortunately, for most products, a lot of countries really only have options that address the “too much $$” aspect, instead of the supply issue, and economists can’t really come up with much that actually address the supply issue either (and I’m of the opinion that trying to remove money(as a proxy for demand) from the system when the underlying issue is supply actually makes everything worse–people still need to eat, after all). But as companies iron out those supply issues, inflation should go down/back to normal levels.

      Now, the US and other similarly sized countries do have more options when it comes to increasing/broadening supply–this is why the chips bill was important , and why the climate part of the “inflation reduction act” is important, but both of those have long lead times before their increase to supply will actually impact the economy to reduce inflation(microchip factories take years to build out, and the climate parts will initially increase demand (and thus inflation) for specific energy-saving supplies, BUT once those are mainstream, they’ll decrease demand for the more inflation-causing supplies of oil/gas, causing what should be an overall decrease in inflation. But that might take a decade, so it’s not super helpful *right now*.

      …sorry, I didn’t mean to write a novel about this.

    2. Observer*

      Is one stance possibly that this serious inflation is temporary so my salary shouldn’t be adjusted up for it quite yet?

      Nope. Because what “temporary” means is that prices will stop going up, not that they will go back down. For most things, prices will almost certainly not be going down.

  31. kiki*

    LW3: How close are you to your friend? Are they more of a casual acquaintance? If so, it’s frustrating to have to watch what seem to be self-destructive behaviors, but you’re really not in a place to step in.

    If you are close, the next time they complain to you about an issue at work that seems to be a bit self-created, I would ask if they’d be open to hearing some constructive feedback. If they say no, drop it. If they say yes, I would say something like, “I know it’s frustrating that your manager keeps giving what seem to be excuses not to give you the training you want, but I wonder if he thinks you’d react negatively to honest feedback. Sometimes it seems like you react really negatively to relatively small things. It can be hard to train and work with somebody who reacts like that. Do you feel like you struggle with feedback?”

    I can see bits of myself in your friend. I really, really struggled not overreacting to feedback and criticism, partially because of who I am but also the environment I was raised in. I felt like other people had a secret manual for human things that I was never given. I approached every situation as if everyone expected me to fail. Therapy is ultimately what help. Also kindness and appreciation despite my imperfections. If you can keep being there for your friend and treat them with compassion, even when they’re floundering and imperfect, that means a lot.

  32. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

    OP #1: I’m female and had a lot in common with a male coworker at my last job, no romantic interest on either side. He invited me (and my husband) to join him, his wife, and some of their friends at a trivia night near where we both lived. Worked like a charm, no gossip, no pressure, we’re still buddies even though we’re no longer coworkers, plus I’ve made a couple of bonus friends.

    1. Experienced single*

      That sounds really nice! Trivia is so much fun.
      To be honest, I think the perceptions are wildly different when both or one co-worker are single. In pairs, you invite your and their partner and that sends a message that it’s not a romantic interest. There isn’t an obvious well-recognized gesture to make as a single person to declare platonic interest for a 1-on-1 hang out. Group setting is a way to go at the start.

  33. anti social socialite*

    LW 1 please whatever you do, don’t go crying to your coworkers that at your last female-dominated job, they told you to never interact with them unless absolutely necessary and how you hope this time your coworkers will be nicer like this one guy did at my last job. It soon became apparent why his old coworkers told him that….

    But you sound like a good dude who is open to making friends and taking advice so good luck!!

    Don’t get discouraged if people don’t take you up on the offer though. Some people don’t care to do things with coworkers after work (hi, I’m people) or you might just not end up connecting with anyone beyond the perfunctory “how was your weekend?” water cooler talk.

  34. LlamaLibrarian*

    OP #2 – I was literally just in this situation, wherein one of my family members tested positive, I was testing negative but had light symptoms, and had 4(!) different in-person interviews scheduled over 3 days, 2 of which included panel interviews with leaders, one including members of the board. In every case the organizations were not only understanding, they were appreciative of the heads-up, and all opted to have me interview from home. I was subsequently offered 3 of the roles, and withdrew from the 4th offer when I accepted one of the other offers. I am not promising that every organization will be as intelligent, but I want to reassure you that it isn’t an automatic disadvantage.

    1. OP 2*

      Glad to hear it worked out for you as well! Nobody in my family has tested positive, and I’m not sure how I would have been exposed, but I know all too well that sometimes that just happens, so I’m definitely most comfortable playing it safe.

  35. Mewtwo*

    Send a group email or Slack message (or whatever equivalent for the medium you use) to your coworkers saying you’re planning on grabbing a happy hour drink at a nearby bar and if anyone wants to come with. Depending on the type of colleagues you have, this might be met with enthusiasm or might fall flat.

    Fwiw, my coworkers and I get drinks every now and again and we are about half men half women. It’s good to be wary of coming across creepy, but women generally have good instincts about this stuff and can tell when someone is being an underhanded creep vs just a friendly coworker.

  36. Eether, Either*

    OP Lunch with co-workers. Are you able to get together for a brown bag lunch in a conference room with your co-workers? Everyone brings their lunch and it’s a nice informal way to get to know people. I’ve done it several times with great success.

  37. Gyakuten Manager*

    For LW2, as a hiring manager I would absolutely respect your telling me if you had symptoms and try to schedule remote interviews for the same time if at all possible. It’s a positive mark in my book as well that you did the right thing even if it was inconvenient or even a risk.

    If I found out later that you knew you may have covid (or worse yet that you did despite the false negative) I would *immediately* want you out the door for being irresponsible with my team’s health.

  38. Not A Real Manager*


    I recently interviewed a candidate who said they couldn’t come in for an interview until after a COVID quarantine. It was totally fine! I just waited another week to schedule their interview (and they got the job).

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