I saw a coworker’s email complaining about me, delayed written offer, and more

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

1. My coworker accidentally sent me an email complaining about me

My colleague and I manage two teams that perform the a similar function and effectively have to job share our role to keep the business ticking along effectively. We have sizable teams and the role we manage can be quite stressful, but I have previously thought of this person as a good friend. I always felt that we made the best of the circumstances, operated as a good doubles team, and could be transparent about the challenges of the environment we are in.

I have been quite unwell and unexpectedly was away from work for two weeks, leaving my colleague (C) to shoulder the load in my absence. On my first day back at work, C inadvertently sent me a message intended for a third party, stating that they wished I had not returned to work and that things are easier when I am not there. C noticed straight away what they had done and panicked, apologizing for the message.

On one hand, I get it. The current structure is dysfunctional and I also find it easier to steer the ship alone when C is away. On the other hand, I am terrible at being unwell and I live alone, so two weeks of sick leave for me is two weeks of near total isolation. When I returned to work, I did so before I was really ready because I needed to be back interacting with people and doing something that makes me feel capable. The message really couldn’t have been worse timing.

It’s been several weeks and I just cannot move on from this. Do you have any guidance on how to push past it? I feel C cannot do much more than apologize, which they have already done, so it is on me to get over it but … I find myself holding a grudge in a way that I fear will be detrimental for all. I suspect the only way forward is to pull my socks up and be the adult, but I feel so stuck.

Would you be comfortable talking to C about it? It might help you both to hash out whatever frustration was behind that message — and, frankly, C owes you at least some willingness to do that after misdirecting that message. You could say, “I appreciate the apology, but I’m more concerned about what was behind the message. Is there something I’m doing that’s making your job harder, or other issues we might be able to talk through? If there’s something I can change on my side that would help you, I definitely want to know.”

I know you might worry that diving head-on into an already awkward situation might make it even more so, but you’re already feeling awkward whether you talk about it or not. There’s probably some constructive conversation to be had, and I think you’ll feel better if you take an action that moves you forward rather than staying mired in the bad feelings of it.

If you’re not up for doing that, I’d focus on the fact that you also find it easier when C is gone. It’s okay if C feels the same way. You’re letting that get mixed up with a whole bunch of other things — coming back to work before you were well enough to, feeling lonely when you were at home — but C’s message exists separately from those things.

Read an update to this letter.

2. Bringing up a tragedy that’s an important piece of my past

Nearly 10 years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I lost both parents in a double homicide. It altered my whole trajectory. I had to give up pursuing a doctoral-level degree in favor of a post-graduate certificate I could get in one year due to the need for health insurance. Following the trial and conviction of their killer, I started interviewing. At the interview for what became my first job, the interviewers brought it up first when I tried to dance around how I had spent my summer (in a sentencing hearing) and let me know they knew what had happened to my family. It was an incredible relief. I felt a weight lift and I remain grateful to them to this day.

I recently had an interview and was asked why I wanted to work in the department I was interviewing for. I explained that I was partially interested due to the area of work being close to what I studied as an undergrad. The work involves the criminal justice system and I also mentioned my experiences going through the process and that I was passionate about the system and wanted to give back to it. The trial process for me was a major part of my healing. Having 12 strangers declare him guilty and pronounce sentence was extremely cathartic. This seemed like a natural place to bring it up, and I didn’t give gratuitous detail, just a sentence like the one I wrote above about it happening nearly 10 years ago. If they had asked a different question, I wouldn’t have brought it up. But now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have, even though what I said was the truth and I meant it. Every time I find myself in a similar situation, I end up with 1,000 questions in my head: is this the right time? How will they react? Do I really NEED to bring it up? I compare it to a “coming out.”

There’s always the chance that my name will be recognized (the case was semi-high profile in our area) or that someone I’m speaking to is a true crime fan who has seen one of the documentaries I’ve participated in about the case and bring it up before I have to. I’m usually relieved when this happens because it saves me having to address the “elephant in the room,” so to speak.

In this case, do you think I made a mistake bringing it up at my interview? Should I avoid it altogether if I find myself in a new workplace?

I don’t think you made a mistake by bringing it up! It sounds like your answer was relevant to the question being asked and the job you were interviewing for. But if you want a vaguer version, you could say something like, “My family had a tragedy that was addressed through the criminal justice system, and it made me passionate about the system and giving back to it.”

You shouldn’t need to avoid mentioning it in a new workplace, either. It sounds like it’s an additional burden on you to worry about whether it’s okay to share what happened, and you’re entitled to the relief of not feeling you need to hide this enormous thing that happened to you and your family.

I’m so sorry about your parents.

3. Ma’am, not sir

I work in virtual learning. I’m 100% work from home and on a team of 10. We handle certification training and continuous learning for employees. I interact with a lot of people via email for several weeks before we actually speak to/see one another in a virtual meeting.

Many of these people are ex-military or former government employees and refer to me as my last name, which is fine by me. However, other people, more often than not, call me sir. My name is Logan and they assume that I’m a man. I’ve met one other female Logan in my life so I understand why they assume that. Typically I just ignore it and allow them to be surprised when we meet, but lately I’ve had a number of people ask why I didn’t correct them and most recently I had an instructor lose their mind and tell me how unprofessional it is that I allowed them to make a fool of themselves and did not immediately correct them. I tried to tell them it’s a very common occurrence and I took no offense, but they were still quite upset. Is this something I should correct when it happens? How would I even go about doing that without sounding rude? Just today someone responded to an email saying, “Thank you for the assistance, sir.” I thought about responding, “Actually, it’s ma’am but you’re most welcome,” but to me that sounds rude. What do you think?

It’s happened my entire life and it doesn’t bother me, but after the issue with the instructor, I’m second guessing myself.

That instructor had a bizarre overreaction and shouldn’t be a guidepost for your judgment at all. That is someone who is weirdly invested in someone else’s gender.

That said, it does make sense to correct people who make the wrong assumption, just like you would if they accidentally got your name wrong. If you’re never going to speak to them again, it matters less — but if they’re going to figure out their mistake at some point, it makes more sense to just correct them from the get-go so they don’t end up embarrassed that they’ve been repeatedly misgendering you (even if you don’t care).

“It’s ma’am but you’re most welcome” is perfect, not rude.

Another option, if you want to head some of it off entirely, is to add Ms. to your signature:

Ms. Logan Tetrazzini
(Ms.) Logan Tetrazzini

But you also might not feel you should have to advertise your gender, particularly if you’re in a field where that tends to invite sexism. In which case, just go with the first option.

4. Telling my boss I’m starting therapy

I am beginning the process of seeking mental health treatment for several non-critical issues I’ve been having for a while — think social anxiety, moderate depression, self-esteem and body image issues, etc. I’m in the very preliminary stages and don’t have a provider or treatment plan lined up yet. I am operating under the assumption that appointments with a therapist will likely need to happen during business hours. This by itself isn’t a concern for me; my company is pretty good about flexibility with working hours. I don’t imagine it will be an issue for me to make the time up by coming early or staying late on other days.

My issue lies with how to communicate this to my bosses. I recently switched teams within the company, and as a result have a new set of supervisors I’m working with. With my old team, I had a good handle on how to approach a conversation about my plans, but with this new group I’m not sure what is appropriate. I feel like telling them I have a recurring, regularly scheduled medical appointment can only mean mental health issues and doesn’t provide context that I would like them to have — that the issues are relatively mild and that while I am struggling a little, my issues should not be a major source of concern or materially change the quality of my work. On the other hand, I’m concerned about the line between giving appropriate information and oversharing when it comes to discussing issues like this.

What would be the best and most appropriate way to communicate my situation? I would also add, I may be WAY overthinking this. My new supervisors are lovely people that genuinely seem to be invested in me and my career, and I just want to make sure I don’t put any of us in an awkward spot.

There are all kinds of recurring, regularly scheduled medical appointments that aren’t for mental health — allergy shots, physical therapy, various types of infusions, all sorts of things. You don’t need to specify what the appointments are for. You can simply say, “I am going to have a recurring weekly medical appointment for the foreseeable future. I’ll need to leave an hour early every Tuesday for it. Could I come in early on those days so my hours balance out?” That’s it.

You definitely shouldn’t get into explaining that the issues are mild/not something that will affect your work quality. That would be a real overshare — and not something a good boss will even be thinking about. Lots and lots of people are in therapy for issues that don’t affect their work; even if your managers guess/assume the recurring appointment is therapy, they’re unlikely to worry it’s something serious, and it’s not context you need to provide.

5. I received a verbal offer but they are dragging their feet with the written offer

After trying multiple times, I’ve finally landed a position with an organization I’m so excited about. The only problem is, I’ve only received a verbal offer from them, and they stated they needed a reference from my current supervisor (it’s an internal transfer since my current org and theirs are under the same “umbrella,” so to speak) before moving forward with an official written offer.

This was told to me on November 8. I have yet to receive anything — and my supervisor, who is a gem and super supportive and someone I thankfully could afford to give a verbal notice to, has said she’s heard nothing from them! When I received my verbal offer, the woman who would be my supervisor gave me her direct line and told me to contact her any time with questions. I finally worked up the courage to do so two days ago (based on advice from you that I was probably over-agonizing about contacting her), and she responded immediately (less than a minute) saying, “I will follow up with them today to see where it is at.” But still, my supervisor has heard nothing, and I’ve heard nothing more since.

I’m anxious because I wanted to give my organization official notice with lots of time … but now it’s turning more into two weeks, even less with holidays! I don’t want to be pushy with my new boss, but I’m also worried. Is there anything else I can do or say? Should I keep pushing and ask again?

Check back early next week, since Thanksgiving will slow everything down this week. But this isn’t terribly unusual — some organizations take a really long time to get written offers out.

Also, you should set your start date based on when you accept the written offer. If you told them earlier that you could start in X weeks, that doesn’t mean the clock has been ticking on those X weeks ever since. It’ll start from whenever they get you the offer and you accept it. So their delay shouldn’t result in you giving less notice than you had intended to give.

{ 370 comments… read them below }

  1. Ellis Hubris*

    OP2, don’t you ever think you need to wonder about what others think of that tragedy. I know we all want to be professional and not mention touchy subjects. I get it. Yet you can always tell that story as you have here and expect adult humans to deal. Don’t second guess yourself.

    I’m so sorry for that tragedy and life reality for you.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      100% this. Anyone who is taken aback or strangely offended by you sharing your story…well, you don’t have to respond this way but you could say something along the lines of “that way you’re feeling now just hearing my story? Imagine how I feel having to live it.” So sorry that you have to live this life OP, hope you get the job.

      1. Rogue Won*

        OP here. I’ve used variants of that line in the past, usually when someone tries to argue with me on something that I’ve experienced, like the lack of involvement/consultation with victims’ families. I try not to snap back, but sometimes I can’t help it.

        Thank you! I do too!

        1. HigherEdEscapee*

          You’re not alone in this. We’ve had two very public deaths in my family (a murder suicide that was front page news in a major newspaper), a fire on the evening news that was how we found out another family member died, and a third who died of an overdose. Three generations of women in my family who all died with the police involved over a 25 year period.
          What I’ve learned is that things like this bother people because these terrible, violent, scary things are supposed to happen to _other_ people. When people meet someone who has experienced something like this, they are confronted with the reality that _other people_ are real people. It scares them.
          Their fear isn’t your problem. You sound like you’re handling it really well, and I wish you all the best in your job search. You’ve got this.

          1. Vio*

            Sometimes people can get in an awkward mental space about how to react to the person who’s been traumatised too. Which is fine, it happens, it’s awkward, we deal. What isn’t fine is that sometimes, some people, resenting how awkward they feel, will take it out on that person. A sort of “how dare you make me feel awkward and not know whether to offer sympathy… I’ll offer hostility instead!”. Those people are arseholes though, fortunately they’re also the minority.
            Most people seem to fumble a bit but accept that yes something awful happened in the past but take your lead on how to react to it. If you clearly don’t find it awkward to acknowledge that helps ease their awkwardness a lot too.
            Obviously if it was something you did find awkward to discuss then it’d be well within your rights to make it clear that you’d rather not discuss it, but that seems to not be the case at all.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I get where they are coming from. My college boyfriend was murdered on my 22nd birthday and that’s… just super awkward to bring up. Especially because it wasn’t recent – so like, it’s significant in the story of my life, but not significant now.

      Also, people tend to react strangely when they hear about death, you might feel you have to manage *their* feelings. And sometimes I can talk about it neutrally and sometimes I get all teary (totally random which!). It’s truly not something I want to get into at work, but sometimes it feels deceitful not to mention it.

      So many virtual hugs, OP2.

      1. Rogue Won*

        I’m sorry you’re a part of this club too. I hate hearing when others can directly relate because that means you KNOW.

        You’re right that people sometimes get weird and I feel like I either have to manage their feelings or guard my own because some of them get *too* interested (I’m sure you know the type I mean).

        Being fairly young still (I’m early 30s) I feel like it still comes up more than I would like. I’m young to have no living immediate family and especially around this time of year the questions come about why I spend holidays with friends. And occasionally questions like “what do your parents do” still come up. I don’t actively try to bring it up at work, but you’re right, it can feel deceitful or like I’m minimizing to just say that they died or to not mention.

        Sending all hugs right back. Be gentle with yourself. My grief STILL doesn’t follow a pattern I can follow. If you’d like to talk, I’m sure Alison can pass on my info.

        1. Anon for This*

          I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family. Of course, you can tell people as much or as little as you feel like, depending on the circumstances. If it’s a casual conversation, you can mention something like “father was an accountant and mother taught 3rd grade”. If they notice that you used the past tense and comment on it, you can say that they are no longer living, but that’s what they used to do.

          Members of my family were murdered, but it happened before I was born. Nevertheless, it still bothers me to think about it.

  2. Linda Pinda*

    OP 2 — Everyone has a huge continuum of life experiences. Yours is terribly difficult and sad, but no less valid and valuable as anyone else’s. That you’re able to talk about your parents is a tribute to you. That you’re able to work in positions that help others in need similar situations is huge.
    Sharing stories is how people grow individually and independently. AND just as humans together.
    Thank you.

  3. Quizix*

    LW 3- it’s becoming pretty common place where I am for people to include their pronouns in their email signature. So for example, Logan Tettrazini (she/her) . That could be one way around it for you

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I’m doing the same. My name is a not uncommon male name in the Netherlands and Germany but falls straight in the middle between a female and a male name in the English-speaking world, so people wondered.

    1. Felis alwayshungryis*

      That depends on the field. But it’s the perfect way to get round it if the people you correspond with aren’t going to see it as a woke dogwhistle!

      1. Colonel Saunders*

        I work with the Canadian military and have seen (she / he / they) in quite a few email signatures. In this case where there is ambiguity I think everyone would take it as a clarifying statement.

      2. Underemployed Erin*

        If she works in K-12 education in the US, the reason that her coworker was making a big stink about it is that it is an environment working to be more inclusive with pronouns. There will be pronouns on speaker placards. There will pronouns on “Hello, my name is…” stickers. This happens in both progress K-12 environments in the US and progressive local government environments. It is the expected and normalized behavior in those environments.

        The coworker is probably making a big stink about it because she feels bad about having misgendered the letter writer for so long if they work in an environment that works very hard to be inclusive.

        I tend to not have strong opinions on pronouns, but I have an unusual name. In the past, my unusual name has made people who have never met me before a little nervous because they do not know if I am a man or a woman. I am including my pronouns more so that people who have never met me before can use the correct pronouns and not be nervous about it. In addition to people being nervous about not knowing my name, they tend to generally be a little more nervous about mispronouncing my name that they have never seen before than they used to be.

        I saw a person from France include both his gender and pronunciation on a profile somewhere, and I am now a huge fan of this because it can help people be more confident when they meet me.

        1. pugsnbourbon*

          “If she works in K-12 education in the US, the reason that her coworker was making a big stink about it is that it is an environment working to be more inclusive with pronouns.”

          I think that’s VERY dependent on region. Some areas are absolutely striving for better inclusivity. Other regions are doing the opposite.

        2. alienor*

          I work with someone who does the same thing for their non-English first name – in their email signature there’s a phonetic pronunciation in parentheses after it. It’s really helpful and I wish more people would do it. (I also wish more people would ask how to pronounce a name instead of just making a wild guess. It’s a little awkward, but not as awkward as mangling someone’s name throughout multiple meetings.)

          1. Anne of Green Gables*

            I had a candidate with a name I wasn’t sure how to pronounce and so in our email back-and-forth setting up the phone interview, I asked about pronunciation so I would have it right on the call. She was super appreciative and I was glad to know I’d get it right from the beginning.

      3. Petty Betty*

        I work in the US military (adjacent) and I use pronouns in my emails to actual military, and so do many other soldiers.

    2. Bethany*

      Yes, same for us, and it serves the dual purpose of normalising displaying pronouns for people who are trans or gender non-conforming, and meaning that mistakes like this don’t happen, especially when people have names from a cultural background you’re not familiar with.

    3. JSPA*

      Excellent idea if the LW is comfortable doing so. (Not to derail….but we’ve also had plenty of comments on prior threads about the various reasons why people are not always comfortable specifying their pronouns).

      But the trend of sharing probouns is also relevant to, “a wider range of people now having strong feelings about having unwittingly misgendered someone.” (Berating the person you’ve misgendered is ever a good way to deal with it, of course.)

      “Given my name, I also answer to ‘sir,’ but it’s actually ma’am” might forestall, “why didn’t you tell me earlier” reactions.

      1. Ariaflame*

        Well, a lot of people probably don’t read the entire signature. But if someone asks why they weren’t told you can say ‘well, it was in my email signature, I assumed you knew’.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          My org allows for the pronouns to be in the email name itself (so not the address, but what shows up as the sender’s name in your inbox) which I think is really cool. (Maybe about 60% of the people here use this option? It’s not mandatory, which is also cool.)

      2. Tinkerbell*

        IMHO, the ideal environment is where it’s normal to share your pronouns but also normal not to. That makes both ways reasonable, and hopefully prevents both situations like OP3 but also situations where someone is not comfortable sharing.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Thank you for saying this! When doing introductions, if everyone is giving pronouns, I will sometimes not give them on purpose, to show it’s OK either way, but then I second-guess *that*!

          In writing, I love to include my pronouns (she/her) because my real name is gender-neutral, and I have definitely been Mistered many many times.

          1. Underemployed Erin*

            Not sharing pronouns in those environments IS exclusionary of transgender and non-binary folks.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Except that sometimes trans and nb folks don’t feel comfortable sharing their pronouns. I am all for it being normalized, but it shouldn’t be insisted upon.

            2. KGD*

              In previous conversations about this topic, I had understood that some people preferred it to be explicitly optional in case a trans or nonbinary person doesn’t feel safe sharing their pronouns or prefers not to for a personal reason. Otherwise, they would have to choose between being the only people not sharing or misgendering themselves in a public setting. So the thinking was that normalizing people sharing or not sharing their pronouns without making a big fuss about it would create the most comfortable environment for most people. Please correct me if I’m wrong though!

            3. L*

              Disagree. I’m nonbinary, and have zero desire to share my pronouns in public.

              For one, I don’t WANT to be out to the world at large! It’s none of their business what my gender identity is, and I’m perfectly content for them to make an assumption based on the way I present myself. I’m out to the people that I think most deserve to know (my partner, my close friends, some family), and am content to stay “in the closet” with everyone else.

              For two, my partner and I work in fields where not confirming to the gender binary has the potential to cause issues. I’m in tech, and he’s government-adjacent. Both fields tend to be rather slow-moving with regards to social values, and it’s easier for BOTH OF US for me to stay closeted in public.

              For three, I don’t really have a strong preference either way. I go with she/they if asked by well-meaning people that I’m out to, but have genuinely no issues if someone wants to use anything else for me. Gender is all a construct anyway, I don’t care what people want to think mine is.

              Sharing pronouns being mandatory/pseudo mandatory means I have to either out myself unwillingly, or misgender myself. And misgendering myself is a hell of a lot more painful than someone else doing it.

              1. Worldwalker*

                Cisgender/ace/female here. I don’t share pronouns because I don’t *want* my gender to be the first, and possibly only, thing people know about me. Who I am and what kind of person I am has nothing to do with my chromosomes, so it’s not something I want to center, or even care about.

                I’m thinking that this person who blew up like that at OP3 would have treated her *very* differently if he’d known she was female. If he’d known what stereotypical box to put her into. That’s exactly the kind of person who doesn’t need to know.

            4. trans and tired*

              I personally despise being asked to share my pronouns. Other members of my community disagree, because we’re all individuals with our own lives and experiences. The best compromise is to keep it optional so people who want to share have the opportunity to do so, but those of us who don’t want to aren’t put under undue pressure.

            5. Lenora Rose*

              Having sharing pronouns as a normal and healthy OPTION is trans and non-binary friendly. Demanding them is very much not.

            6. quicksilver*

              Another trans person checking in to say no, this is wrong. We aren’t a monolith in regard to our experiences or preferences, and it naturally follows that pronoun-sharing isn’t universally desired or helpful. Personally I am ambivalent about pronouns, and I don’t ever want to discuss my gender in the workplace — learned that the hard way in my first office job, where I was initially very open, but was then treated as a token and constantly voluntold to do uncompensated DEI activities on top of normal duties.

              Cis people seem to constantly peddle this line about creating an inclusive environment, but pronoun-sharing by itself doesn’t really guarantee anything culture-wise. It’s just one small piece of a much bigger picture. In the aforementioned office job, it was part of a very tokenising, voyeuristic, and exploitative culture (pressuring trans people to “tell their story” so they can be “celebrated”…or rather, assigned extra work duties and emotional labour for cis people’s edification/entertainment). At my current workplace, it’s a token nod to DEI policy in the midst of apathy and outright hostility (our institution and wider field have associations with prominent anti-trans campaigners). In both cases, all my cis colleagues having their pronouns in their email signatures doesn’t tangibly make the environment better for me to exist in as a visibly gender-nonconforming trans person…it’s just another part of the social/political landscape that I have to figure out how to navigate.

              All this to say, when cis people treat pronouns as the core foundational element of trans equity, it just goes to show how little they understand the scope of issues we actually face. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon since corporate DEI initiatives have got the whole concept in a chokehold, but it’s pretty frustrating. Please let’s advance beyond pronoun-sharing and consider material factors (can everyone use the toilets without fear of harassment? does the insurance cover transition-related care? are people allowed to do their jobs without being confronted about their gender, whether in a negative or ‘affirming’ way? etc.)

      3. KHB*

        “a wider range of people now having strong feelings about having unwittingly misgendered someone.”

        To this, I’d say that: If the conclusion someone draws from the trend of sharing pronouns (and the wider discussion of gender-identity politics) is that misgendering someone is always a terrible thing to do to them (even if they tell you it’s not) because absolutely everyone considers their gender to be a central part of their identity, then that’s cause for some rethinking, because that’s absolutely the wrong lesson to learn.

        1. T*

          As an older trans person, I’ll be honest: I don’t think the two are connected in that way.

          It’s always been my observation that part of the reason more casually transphobic people are so hostile towards us is because they are embarrassed to have gotten someone’s gender wrong, even if this is the first time they’ve ever conceived of such a possibility. They externalize that embarrassment onto us, because we ‘tricked’ them into a social faux pas.

          This isn’t a new thing and it isn’t caused by visibility of trans people or pronouns. The visibility just means you’re more likely to hear people broadcast this emotional process before they ever even have a chance to misgender someone.

          1. JP*

            This. Trans people “tricking” cis folks is a long-held transphobic belief. I don’t wish to derail, just wanted mention seeing your words “older trans person” made me really happy. Especially in the wake of recent events…thank you for being you.

          2. KHB*

            With respect, this isn’t entirely about trans people. (There’s no indication that OP is trans.) The ways in which we think and talk about gender in society affect everyone.

    4. Hello Dahlia*

      I added she/her to my signature simply because my last name is a common man’s name (think Charles or George), so people see that and expect me to be a man without recognizing my girly first name. It doesn’t help that I’m in a male-dominated profession.

      1. As Per Elaine*

        I added she/her to my signature, and I STILL got people turning my man’s-name last name into my first name.

        (I mostly don’t work with clients anymore, so it’s less of a problem now. I also no longer have a lastname@ email address.)

      2. Firstname-Lastname*

        On the one hand, hyphenating my surname when I got married helped a lot with this issue. Except….we put my maiden name first, so now my surname sounds like a full name in itself. Which is fine in writing (thanks hyphen!), but causes great confusion in situations like checking into hotels, when you’re just giving a surname…

        1. amoeba*

          Ha, yeah, this keeps happening to my mother. Even in writing, even though it’s hyphenated. The number of times she’s been called “Mr Lastname”, both in letters and even with the person sitting right in front of her (she looks quite obviously female…) is amazing.
          She mostly just doesn’t use the double name in everyday life anymore.

        2. E. Chauvelin*

          I have the same kind of first part of my real hyphenated last name, and I specifically say “The last name is” before I give it, and still have people thinking that the (traditionally masculine) first part of my last name is my first name. To my face.

          They also often misspell my extremely common (feminine) first name as something else that is pronounced slightly differently and which is a less common, traditionally masculine first name, albeit one more common in predominantly Francophone countries so maybe they don’t know its typical gender.

      3. That'sNotMyName*

        In addition to not being in a field that wasn’t adding pronouns to signature blocks, I intentionally did not indicate my gender (unisex name) because I was in a male-dominated profession and was able to stave off negative judgements and harassment that way. There were people I dealt with almost exclusively via email and by not waving a big “I’m actually female!” flag, I got treated professionally. I also happen to have a naturally low voice for a woman, so some people just heard the voice they were expecting on the phone.

    5. Sadie Shakes*

      Yes, and for this very reason. People don’t want to guess, they don’t want to have to ask (some will be offended at that) and they don’t want to be wrong.

    6. KHB*

      Nobody should ever feel forced to do this if they don’t want to, though (and there are a lot of good reasons not to want to).

      If the only reason OP is questioning herself is because one instructor got upset, I’d say rock on with letting people assume she’s a man, and if people get upset, that says a whole lot more about them than about her. “I need to know whether you’re a man or a woman so I can know how to treat you.” The hell you do.

      1. Yellow+Flotsam*

        How to treat or how to address? I suspect for most people it genuinely is how to address. I ask for titles if I need to address someone by then (so I know of it should be Rev. Smith or Dr Smith or Ms Smith etc), I’ll ask pronouns if I need to write about you (she worked here for 6 weeks, or should I use they worked)

        1. KHB*

          For jerks like the one OP encountered, I do think it is about how to treat people. Sexism is a very real thing in the world, and I can think of a lot of jerks I’ve known who would be upset to find out that they’ve been giving someone the respect that’s due a man, when all along they’ve actually been dealing with a mere woman. (They almost certainly wouldn’t put it in exactly those words, because they know better than that, but that’s what they’d be thinking.)

          If it really is just about how to address people, and the person you’re addressing specifically tells you that they don’t mind being addressed in the “wrong” way, then what is there to get upset about?

        2. Texan In Exile*

          I worked internationally for years and yeah – the last thing I wanted was for some men to know I was female. When I was on calls with some of them and they realized I was a woman, the casual dismissiveness with which they treated me – no thanks. It was better when they thought I was a man.

        3. Hound Dog*

          If it’s a question of title, then you just pivot once you realize your mistake. Easy peasy. Someone kicking up a huge fuss over a title either puts far too much emphasis on titles as a status-indicator – which is a problem itself – or has gendered assumptions about certain titles and can’t cope with the fact that they treated a woman with more respect that they typically would.

          And it’s particularly funny since she’s working with so many ex-military, as a common refrain I’m used to hearing is “don’t call me sir, I work for a living!”

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Totally agree. Frankly, it’s really telling that the one individual freaked out at the OP over their gender – it sure says a lot (negative) about that individual’s attitudes towards gender and women.

        I spoke with someone this morning who I had assumed was female from their name. Turns out they were male. It totally mystifies me why anyone would have an issue over this sort of thing.

      3. Worldwalker*

        That is *exactly* it.

        The only people who need to know whether I’m a man, a woman, or other, are the people I’m involved with romantically. Which is exactly one person, to whom I’ve been married for almost 30 years. It shouldn’t matter to anyone else. And the more they think it matters, the less they need to know.

        I’m me. Start with that. Evaluate my competence, my personality, my knowledge as *me*. Not as an instance of class “female.”

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Evaluate my competence, my personality, my knowledge as *me*. Not as an instance of class “female.”


          Even when I identified as female I often used my initials in my preferred email, and signature. I have worked most of my careers in male dominated professions. On the early internet on UseNet I used an androgynous pseudonym. I wanted to be evaluated on what I wrote, not on my name (and possibly race associated with it) or whether I had an innie or an outie.

    7. C*

      Adding my support to this – very common in my company to add (she/her) or relevant other to an email signature. Partially for DEI support reasons, but also because we communicate across the world and pro-nouns vary for names in different cultures.

      To be honest, I’d find (Ms) Name a bit jarring, but I don’t know why.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I had a colleague whose email signature was (Mrs.) Jamal Worthington. I get it—not too many women named Jamal!—but also it felt a little odd, like I needed to know her gender and marital status in order to deal with an accounting issue?

        1. I should really pick a name*

          I would assume that she’s doing it for her own benefit. She probably prefers not to be misgendered, so she proactively shares that info. This way if you replied, you’d know which pronouns to use. (I agree that I would find Ms. preferable to Mrs. but at the end of the day, it’s up to her how she wants to be addressed)

        2. L.H. Puttgrass*

          I’d also find that slightly confusing, since in really old-school usage “Mrs. Frank Burns” would be Frank Burns’s wife. You don’t see that much anymore, except sometimes when both are listed together (“Mr. and Mrs. Frank Burns request the pleasure of your company and the cotillion of their daughter Margaret…”) but “Mrs.” is old-fashioned enough that I wouldn’t be entirely sure if a male-sounding name follón got was the person’s own name or her husband’s.

          1. Clisby*

            Right – my first assumption would be that Mrs. Jamal Worthington was married to Mr. Jamal Worthington. If *her* first name is Jamal, it’s a lot clearer to use Ms.

            1. Yellow+Flotsam*

              Except – her title might just be Mrs not Ms and she is entitled to use her title even if other people don’t like it.

          2. ferrina*

            Yeah- this is exactly what my mind leapt to. The Ms. would make it even more confusing to me because of this way of addressing a woman by her husband’s name (like in your example). The (she/her) is clearer to me.

            Side note- I love the name Logan for a girl. In high school I knew a female Logan. She was awesome.

            1. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Hah! No, Frank wouldn’t want to explain to Louise why he suggested the name “Margaret” for their child…

          3. SpaceySteph*

            I remember when addressing wedding invitations I looked up the etiquette and discovered that the “correct” way to address a formal letter to a widow is Mrs. Husband’s Name. Even when he’s dead she doesn’t get her own name?! I did change my last name when I got married but this is too much!

            1. Worldwalker*

              When my parents married, in their state my mother’s legal name became Mrs. John Smith. People might have used the first name she was born with as a pet name, but her legal name was that of my father. She’s been a widow for almost 25 years now, and still has no name of her own.

            2. JustaTech*

              When I did wedding invitations there were exactly two that went out as Mrs Dead Husband’s Name – to my grandmother and to my husband’s grandmother. And we only did it that way because we asked our mothers, who told us our grandmothers would be *highly* offended to receive a formal piece of mail with an informal address.
              Was it weird to address an invitation with the name of someone who died before I was born? Yes, but it made my grandmother happy, which was the important thing.

              1. UKDancer*

                My grandmother was the same, she very inconsiderate herself Mrs John Smith. She tried writing to my mother (married to her son Paul Smith) as Mrs Paul Smith despite knowing thread not how mum identified. My mother returned the correspondence with “no such person” written on it several times. My mother is an old school feminist who changed her surname grudgingly but insisted she had not changed her first name. Grandma eventually got the message but it was one of many points of disagreement between them.

        3. Michelle Smith*

          It does look a little jarring, but I’d be relieved to have the information. I stress over not knowing how someone likes to be addressed and having the information right there in an email signature lets me know instantly that a Hi Mrs. Worthington is okay, so I don’t have to do the weird Good afternoon, until I know if she’s chill with “Jamal” or if she wants to be addressed more formally or if she’s Mr., Mrs., Ms., Mx., Dr., etc.

        4. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Why assume any intent other than letting people know what pronouns to use? I find it odd that you’re critiquing it at all.

          1. Darlingpants*

            Because she didn’t actually write her pronouns down. You can extrapolate that they’re probably she/her, but if she wanted to communicate her pronouns she could have just written them and left out her title (which communicates her marital status, information that isn’t important in business communication).

        5. Properlike*

          You’d be surprised how attached certain people are to the “Mrs.” I’ve had random clerks and administrators automatically marking me as “Mrs.” after they look at my left hand.

          “I go by Ms. Properlike.”

          “But you’re married.”


          They always shake their heads like I’m going to regret this. One even said “Never heard of such a thing.” (This is a suburb of an extremely progressive major city.)

          1. Zephy*

            I work with college students and a decent swath of them call me Mrs. Zephy (as in, Mrs. My First Name). I think a not-insignificant number of people, especially younger people, just assume “Mrs.” is the most respectful possible way to address a woman without really thinking through all the implications of what “Mrs.” means (or paying much attention to conventions of addressing people with titles like that, seeing as they then go on to use my first name anyhow).

            FTR, I do happen to be married, but if a title is called for, I prefer to be addressed as Ms. Zephy Lastname (which has been my name my entire life, I didn’t change it when I got married). I…don’t know what I’d actually do if anyone called me Mrs. Husband’s Entire Name, since no part of that name is mine, but I’d certainly be unhappy about it, at the very least.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              At least it’s not “Miss Firstname”. I get creepy southern plantation vibes whenever someone calls me that.

              1. Marna Nightingale*

                As a Canadian who at one point travelled in the Southern US a lot, often by Greyhound, I learned quick not to let people call me “Miss.”

                This is a partial and outsider impression but people doing that were generally trying to exert authority they did not possess.

                Which led to me saying, a couple of times, “excuse me, I am not a Miss. I am a Ma’am.”

                1. RagingADHD*

                  That’s really weird. I wonder where you were or what the context was. In the South, it is primarily used by small children toward teachers and caregivers, friends of their parents, etc. Adults normally use it to show deference to the elderly.

                  Occasionally I hear it used by adults who feel that their professional relationship does not entitle them to call the person by their first name because that would be overly familiar. (Most recently, for example, a phone customer service agent and the guy who changed my oil).

              2. Worldwalker*

                It’s definitely a southern thing. Everyone calls me “Miss” even when my husband is standing right there. I don’t get it — either why someone feels compelled to address me by my marital status, or why they get it *wrong*.

                1. LilPinkSock*

                  Not exclusively southern. My nephew’s preschool teachers in the upper Midwest are Miss Becky, Miss Kayla, Miss Lauren, etc.

                  Not sure if he’s trying to exert authority over them, though.

                2. RagingADHD*

                  Because it isn’t related to marital status at all. If that’s what they were doing, they’d call you Mrs Lastname.

                  It’s just an honorific. It usually comes out sounding more like Ms. anyway.

                3. E. Chauvelin*

                  I’m a librarian in the midwest and I hear people (mostly children’s librarians, but sometimes they’ll extend it to branch managers) who go by Miss FirstName. Not for me. You can call me First Name or you can call me Ms. LastName, and I don’t care how old you are, we’re either formal or we’re totally on an informal first name basis. I’d rather be informal but if your parent/other responsible adult doesn’t want you to address an adult by just their first name then go for the gold.

                4. Clisby*

                  I’m a 69-year-old lifelong southerner, and this sounds … weird … to me.

                  I get people not always being clued in on married couples having different last names. I’m the one who arranges for almost all repairs/renovations to our house, and my husband is used to being addressed as “Mr. Clisby’s Lastname.” He doesn’t care.

              3. Agatha*

                “Miss First Name” is pretty widely used in some Black American communities. I used to find it overly formal but adopted using it because I didn’t want to be rude.

                1. bookworm*

                  Yeah, the only time I use formal titles for people is when I’m talking with older people in predominantly Black spaces (as a white person) because it’s very much the culture I’ve observed people in those spaces using with one another, and there’s the added layer of a history of white people addressing Black people overly informally as a form of racist aggression.

            2. Lydia*

              I used to organize blood drives at my old job and they kept sending posters and other materials that said to contact Mrs. Lastname for more information. I let them know I’m not Mrs. Lastname (didn’t change my name when I got married) AND the young people I worked with would not know me as Mrs. anybody because we went by our first names. Next batch of posters had Mrs. Lastname. So. Irritating.

          2. bookworm*

            I had a high school teacher who started the first day of class by explaining to all of us that she went by Ms. Lastname, and then explained that Mrs. stood for “Mistress of Husband’sName” and that she, in fact, still had her own first name and independent identity. Any time she would get a message over the intercom from the principal referring to Mrs. Lastname, she’d shake her fists at the speaker system. She is high up there on the list of the best teachers I ever had.

            1. just a random teacher*

              I am one of very few teachers in my building who go by Ms. rather than Mrs., and I am so. very. tired. of trying to explain the whole thing to my students and have long since stopped correcting them regardless of what title they use for me (I don’t correct them if they use my first name instead of my last either, or if they misspell my name, and just generally am done putting energy into it as long as whatever they call me is closer to my name than the names of colleagues so it’s likely other people know who they’re talking about).

              How is it that no one teaches them the nuances of Miss/Mrs./Ms. before high school? I’m pretty sure my mother taught me this around preschool age as part of basic manners and different ways to address adults. (FWIW, I’m in a blue state in a reasonably progressive district. I wonder if maybe it’s a generational thing, since the younger teachers all seem to be Mrs. rather than Ms.)

              1. bookworm*

                My experience with this teacher was ~20 years ago in a purple part of a purple state, and it was genuinely the first time anyone had bothered to explain to me the distinction between Mrs. and Ms. and why it mattered. In my experience, manners education was so focused on “children must call everyone Mrs. or Mr. Lastname and don’t believe them when they say to call them by their first name, it’s a TRAP” with no real interest in instructing on nuances. Plus, as you mention, most I’m sorry you are still fighting this fight today, it must get exhausting. But perhaps it’s comforting to know that that explaining this can be really formative for students?

                1. bookworm*

                  lost half a sentence there, meant to say, as you mention, students tend to have mostly interacted with teachers who go by Mrs.

            2. Clisby*

              Mrs. doesn’t stand for “Mistress of Husband’s Name”, though. “Mistress” was just a standard old-fashioned way of addressing any woman. Mrs., Ms., Miss are all derived from “Mistress.”

      2. Janet Pinkerton*

        I’d bet it’s because it’s just not something you’ve encountered! It was a little weird to me at first to see this, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Although I do admit I always refer to Mr. Stacey Smith in my head as “Mr. Stacey Smith”, not just as Stacey. But it means I never misgender him!

      3. Marna Nightingale*

        It’s very old-school but I’ve seen it in mid-century etiquette books (Peg Bracken, for sure and I think others) as the appropriate way for people with ambiguous names to signal their gender in business correspondence.

        I’m more sympathetic to the person who got upset than many—they’re overreacting, sure, but they may not only have been getting it wrong themselves, it’s possible they’ve been using the wrong pronouns talking about Logan with other people and are just really flustered and stressed at the thought that now more people will get it wrong.

        Still very much not Logan’s fault, mind you.

    8. Meowsy*

      Back before including pronouns were more common, my coworker with a masculine first name used her middle name in her work signature to avoid being misgendered.

      1. Tupac Coachella*

        My employer uses middle names in a lot of our e-mail handles (i.e., an e-mail from me would show as coming from “Coachella, Tupac Tallulah”). This does help with guessing gender on ambiguous first names, but leads to lots of “Hi Tallulah…” e-mails, as well as suddenly misgendering people who likely wouldn’t have been (“Hi James…” to Smith, Katherine James). I think people like LW’s instructor are going to spend a lot of time mad if they don’t find a way to get ok with the fact that knowing someone’s gender from e-mail communication is hardly a science and sometimes you’ll get it wrong.

    9. Vanny Hall*

      Yes. For my job, we’re supposed to include pronouns in our email signature.

      I don’t like the very-binary “sir” and “ma’am.” The problem with the proposed reply, “It’s ‘Ma’am,'” is that it still leaves people who use they/them up a creek.

      One could say either “Not ‘Sir’ (I use she/her), but you’re most welcome!” or “Not ‘Sir’ (I use they/them), but you’re most welcome!” –so I like that response better.

      1. Darlingpants*

        Isn’t it pretty common in the military for female officers to also go by sir? I wouldn’t have corrected anyone about it because I thought it was a gender neutral term in some contexts at this point.

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          No, it is not. I think this is a fictional thing that got spooled up. I’m not saying it has never happened before in the history of the military, but it is not at all common and not widely-accepted practice.

          1. Darlingpants*

            Maybe they just do it in movies then. But still, as a civilian that was my impression and I wouldn’t have corrected anyone calling me sir.

            1. I need a new name...*

              I wonder when it started in TV and Film, the first time I noticed it was in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica (so 2004). And then a lot of fictional (especially sci-fi) militaries seemed to do the same. But I don’t know if BSG started it off.

              1. Zephy*

                What I was told was that it came from the Navy, where even female servicemembers were called “sir,” because the only female is the ship. I heard that in a high school film class before we watched, idk Star Wars or something I think?, and made absolutely no attempt to verify that information, so I’ll happily be corrected if Lucas and/or my film teacher was talking out of his ass as per usual. It does feel a lot like “there are no bras in space.”

        2. c_c*

          My friend in the army told me only married women are Ma’am and all others are Sir and that this was standard.

          1. 40 Years In the Hole*

            Retired Cdn military/public service here (she/her), with a distinctly fem first name. As a Private, EVERYONE was “sir” or “ma’am”, or referred by rank. After I commissioned to officer (early 80s), I can’t tell you the number of times I was “Sir’d” – by all 3 services. Mostly old, long-in-the-tooth male NCMs. Even in person. Too funny.

            The recruit schools, even in the 90s/00s were still training them to answer the phone with “X” office, Cpl Bloggins SIR!” Because phone etiquette… Usually with a fumbled apology once they realized I was not in fact, a sir. Even emails began with “Sir” so I switched my sig block from initials to first name; or just matter-of-factly corrected the writer. All (mostly) sorted when the entire fed govt changed to first.lastname@xyz.ca. Sig blocks are welcome/encouraged to incl pronouns.

            Officers refer to male Chief Warrant Officers as “Mr.” Never really got a good answer on what to call female CWO, so I just went with CWO “X.” Ms. just seemed…not quite “it.”

            1. 40 Years In the Hole*

              …but in fact (via the DND site), they are referred to as “Ms.” Mad respect for CWOs!

        3. Cheshire Cat*

          Chiming in late here, but: back in the 70s/80s when women were first joining the military outside the nursing corps, this was common. Female officers were called “sir” and female warrant officers were called “Mr.” I don’t know when it changed, but am glad to see that is has!

    10. Not Logan But Similar*

      Yes! Highly recommended! I’m also a woman with a usually-male first name, in a military/government environment. I have actually had the experience that your instructor implied: people getting it wrong initially, then getting angry at me when their error is corrected, as though my confusing name were a deliberate trick to embarrass them.

      Several years ago, I started putting my pronouns in my signature, and my preferred titles as well: (she/her, Dr./Ms.). Another co-worker with similar concerns uses (they/them/Dr.) . The problems have become much less frequent.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        From a women getting treated equally perspective, I think it’s probably helped over time (indirectly and in a subtle way) for a certain proportion of women to have traditionally male names. Makes people at least not make the automatic assumption that the person they are contacting / speaking with is male, which has probably ensured that hiring managers and business managers (male) have had their assumptions questioned for them, when encountering perfectly capable and qualified female people, who they initially thought were male. A little subtle challenging of gender stereotypes, as it were.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m sure it’s also helped the women get interviews, just like having a name that is usually African-American hurts job applicants (even when the applicant is actually white).

    11. CH*

      +1 for pronouns! IMO, I would hate to have “Ms.” in my signature, since there is so much to read into around women’s martial status there.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          In theory. But when it was first getting into usage, the majority of women using it were divorced, and there are assumptions that way even now. I alternate between using Ms. and Mrs. myself, and only Miss sounds wrong to me, and where I live Ms. is now common enough usage the only thing it might even have a chance of saying is that you aren’t a deep dark blue* conservative or an elderly woman from a different era of etiquette who will demand to be Mrs. But I know when I use Ms. assumptions may be made (by people in other regions, by more conservative people or older people, by newcomers to the language being taught older rules) about my marital status and who may be surprised to learn I quite like and appreciate my husband.

          * around here blue is conservative, red is centrist to a bit left, and leftist is orange. There’s an extreme conservative group trying to steal purple but I refuse to grant it to them.

    12. SL*

      I know this opens up a whole other can of worms about gender and presentation and assumptions, but if you are not comfortable adding pronouns (or Ms) to your signature, maybe you could add a profile photo? My company’s email server allows us to add photos to our email/messaging profiles and many people have added their badge headshots. It’s been helpful for me with people with gender neutral names or from other countries who have names I’m not familiar with. Again, I know there are potential issues with this, just wanted to add it as an option

    13. Awlbiste*

      Yep. I have the exact same problem as LW3, a name that is mostly viewed as male, and get a lot of emails to Mr. Soandso. I started to put (she/her) after my name in my email signature and that cut it down by like 90%. For those that still say Mr. Soandso I sign my emails “Thanks, Firstname Lastname (Ms.)”

    14. Lenora Rose*

      I was surprised Alison didn’t mention this as an option. It can be location dependent, but so can using Ms. And it’s strongly encouraged for we cis people to adopt the habit to normalize it.

    15. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I’m pretty surprised Alison didn’t suggest including pronouns in her email signature. I think it’s much “cleaner” and less clunky than including gendered salutations.

    16. AcadLibrarian*

      Just chiming in with pronouns in email signatures. I have one of those unisex names and putting my pronouns in the email signature has really helped I think. (I don’t want to diminish the reasons we put pronouns in, but I consider this a bonus! after years of being mis-gendered).

  4. mlem*

    For LW5, I got the impression the new position starts on a particular date, such as the beginning of the year — in which case, the delayed offer *would* shorten the possible notice period. That being said, at this point, yeah, I’d wait past Thanksgiving; many people are already checked out, overwhelmed, or both.

    1. Dawn*

      Whenever this happens, the applicant is entirely within their rights – and the organization they’ve applied with should fully understand – that you still get to give your standard notice period due to them dragging their heels.

      1. Other Alice*

        Absolutely this! I had to push back my start date twice because of delays with formalising my offer, and I was very nervous, but in the end we pushed it back three weeks and there were no issues.

    2. LeftyRighty22*

      Also for LW#5 – many internal talent acquisition teams are totally underwater right now. Retirements, the great resignation etc have increased job opportunities substantially. It may just be that they are behind on drafting the letter.

  5. Allonge*

    LW1 – you say that you both feel it’s easier to get things done when the other is away. This sounds like a crappy, and more to the point, inefficient setup to work in – is there something about how you work that you could change, or together, talk to management about?

    Obviously you know better but it sounds to me like it’s not about the specific people involved, it’s a systemic issue. For all that we joke about days then the boss is away being easier, I cannot imagine working in a place where my backup being away makes it better.

    I totally see how the phrasing ‘C wished that you did not come back to work’ throws you under the circumstances by the way! But it’s a part of a larger issue on the work side and as Alison says, is also separate from how you feel when unwell. It just feels like one big thing, probably.

    1. John Smith*

      I once worked in a team that had two part time managers and it was hell. They both had different styles that conflicted with each other and one manager was preferred by the team above the other. Several of us complained to manager A about manager B who, when she found out, undertook a divide and conquer approach by interrogating us individually to refute the complaints and threaten consequences. Everyone except me dropped the complaints. A truly dysfunctional setup that, IMHO, shouldn’t be allowed.

    2. tamarack etc.*

      Yeah, it sounds like some structural dysfunction.

      What I would add is that this is the kind of situation where I pull out my most disarming honesty and preface everything with “I know that’s the kind of situation that’s super awkward. I’m thinking highly of you both personally and as a colleague, so I’d really like us to get to a point where we can work together as constructively as possible.” (And if a good conversation gets started, then add stuff like “do you think it’s how our responsibilities are setup that makes it easier for you to run the whole show rather than to share with me?” or “what can I do to …”)

    3. Sar*

      Thanks for your feedback and to the other responders for theirs.

      I think I will take Alison & your advice and try to front foot a conversation with C about this when we are both working in person together next. If nothing else I think being fairly passive in how I have responded (or avoided responding) so far has compounded how upsetting I’ve found it. I’m comfortable asking if there is something specific I can do to make things more functional as I genuinely do want to contribute to making the best of things.

      In terms of raising the structural concerns with my manager, this is something I will have to continue to work on. There will be a fairly significant rebuild of our department but that is several years away, I can’t help but think there must be something we can do in the short term that would create better segregation of duties but we have just been too in the weeds to identify it.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Given that you are having similar difficulties yourself, it does sound to me like your colleague didn’t mean anything personal but was just frustrated by the structural difficulties and maybe phrased things badly? I’m sure I have said things about colleagues that would sound like criticisms if taken out of context and that I wouldn’t want them to hear, but that I haven’t really meant that way.

        I know that doesn’t make it any less hurtful though.

      2. ABCYaBYE*

        I would strongly encourage this conversation with C sooner than later. I think if you are having similar thoughts and haven’t discussed them together, now is a great time. Their message prompting the conversation sucks, and I’m sorry that you had to receive it.

        But you can definitely walk up to them and say something like, “Hey C, I’ve been thinking a lot about that email you sent. I appreciate your apology and don’t want to dwell on what happened. Rather in thinking about it more, I think you’re right. It is a little easier for the other of us when one isn’t here. Not that we’re not both good people and fully capable, but because of (potential obstacles that you’ve seen when C is there versus not there). What could we do to make things easier for us and our team? Do we need to bring this to (manager) to see if that rebuild that’s been discussed could be expedited, or at least aspects of it? It seems like if things are more challenging for the other when we’re both here, we should find ways to reduce any redundancy, eliminate places where we step on the other’s toes, or figure out different ways to have people report to us for different tasks.”

        I don’t think it will be an easy conversation, but it will sure be easier because you are both feeling similar things. Also, it may make things a whole lot less weird between you two, as I’d wager that C is feeling very awkward about what happened.

      3. Free Meerkats*

        I’d suggest that you and C work together to come up with a better way to run things, then present that to your manager. Maybe start the conversation with, “I know we each find it easier when the other is away, let’s figure out how to fix that.”

    4. She of Many Hats*

      Another way to approach this awkward situation is to talk to C about the big picture as in “This set up isn’t working for you and I find X, Y, & Z work better when you are away. So if we ran the company what could/should we change in the infrastructure to work better so there are less frustrations and make it easier for both teams to succeed?”

    5. Roza*

      I’ve been in a situation like this before and it was absolutely structural. My team was given a project that another team had been working on — the project was severely understaffed, basically one person had been maintaining it, and she hated it. It wasn’t being taken away due to bad performance, my team just had more bandwidth and it made sense in terms of scope for us to own it going forward. Former owner was understandably used to doing everything on it solo. Management did an absolutely terrible job clarifying responsibilities during the transition period, so there were epic amounts of stepping on toes, conflicting instructions from the project lead on my team vs the legacy project owner, and feelings of resentment from the lead on my team that we were now reporting to the old owner vs owning the project ourselves. The periods when old owner was out on vacation were glorious because we could just get our work done, but it was nothing against her. She was actually one of the coworkers I liked and respected the most, the ambiguous ownership was entirely management’s fault. I eventually left the job due to multiple similar situations. Anyway, all that to give one example of being glad when a coworker is gone while simultaneously liking and respecting said coworker.

  6. Dawn*

    OP3 – I’m trans, with a voice that can be read either way and a name that can be read either way, and please believe me that you can’t win on this one; some people, if you correct them, immediately get their nose out of joint. Some people, if you don’t correct them and they realize it, immediately get their nose out of joint.

    So that’s what I tell people, generally. Overall, because I ultimately meet less of the people I’m speaking to, I ultimately have less unpleasant encounters about my gender if I don’t bother to correct people over the phone, and while I’m sure they’d never do that, it’s just my policy not to offer corrections when I’m not face-to-face with someone for the sake of my mental well-being.

    1. Nodandsmile*

      I agree with Dawn. It is not your responsibility to make other people comfortable with your gender identity nor should you have to announce it for the benefit of other people. It really is their problem to deal with. I also have a gender-neutral name and really do not care if people misgender me, or what pronouns they use to refer to me. If that pisses them off, that’s on them.

      1. Cait*

        But I do think it was a bit thoughtless for her to not correct him and let him continue to call her by the wrong prefix, esp. if other people in the loop (although his reaction was definitely over-the-top). I get that she doesn’t want to embarrass anybody but it doesn’t have to be a big deal (like Alison said). I also might get a bit miffed if I had been calling a “Caroline” by “Coraline” or something for an inordinate amount of time without them correcting me. Kind of like if I had a big piece of salad in my teeth and my coworker knew but didn’t bother to tell me and let me go on with a presentation. Not necessarily wrong of them but… why wouldn’t you say something and save an embarrassment that just gets bigger the more time that passes?

        1. WellRed*

          Yes to this. I immediately recalled an ancient job where I was doing a regular task incorrectly and the boss didn’t correct me right away. I was annoyed and embarrassed when I found out. None of it was a big deal, but since I was eventually going to need to do it right, it made no sense to hold off on correcting me.

          1. Dawn*

            Completing a work task is a very different animal from personal information, particularly as fraught as the conversation around gender identity is nowadays.

            I bet that when your boss corrected you, you didn’t launch into a 10 minute rant about how it’s not your fault because you couldn’t see who you were talking to and therefore didn’t know and how dare he make a big deal about it.

            Because that’s what I deal with.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          Personally, I’m not going to feed into the widespread obsession with people knowing everyone’s gender, because I can only think of nefarious reasons why it would be important to someone else. Was this guy accidentally respecting the LW too much because he thought she was a man? (Note–this is only an issue with someone’s gender being an issue for someone else, not if someone’s gender is important to themselves).

          1. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Disagree. It’s important to me to respect people’s identities, so I like to make sure I’m addressing a person correctly. I’m not going to get mad at someone if I found out they never corrected me (that’s ridiculous) but I would feel a bit bad internally that I didn’t know. How many letters have we gotten here where names or pronouns are messed up, and those people are bothered by it but feel awkward saying anything.

            1. BubbleTea*

              I think if someone doesn’t care enough to correct you, you’re absolved from any guilt about getting it wrong. Obviously once you know better, you do better – but you’re not required to be a mind reader.

              1. Cait*

                If it’s always strictly going to just be just the two of you communicating, then sure. But if other people are involved you’re going to end up looking pretty thoughtless if you continue to address someone by the wrong name when everyone else knows their actual name. Or if someone else doesn’t know Caroline vs Coraline, they could end up using the wrong name too.

                1. Allonge*

                  You are still not required to be a mind reader. If someone else corrects you about another person, you say ‘gosh, I did not realise’ and move on.

            2. Allonge*

              Then you need to ask everyone to make sure.

              You cannot care more about getting someone’s gender identity ‘right’ than they themselves. (I mean you can, but why?)

        3. Don't Call Me Shirley*

          Personally being called Sir or him doesn’t bother me, despite it being technically wrong (I have complicated feelings about gender identity, but identify as a woman based purely on my biology). If I’m not bothered, why would I correct someone? They shouldn’t be more upset than I am by their error.

        4. T*

          No. As someone who has presented extremely gender neutral my whole life – and who has a name that apparently trips people up – absolutely not.

          People routinely call me by the wrong name or misspell my name. I do not correct them. I have never corrected anyone on my gender or pronouns.

          I’ll be very frank. I’m generally a pro-social and kind person. But you need to realize that for those of us who encounter this issue regularly, if we address it every time, it’s a massive energy and time suck. You are asking me to take on and personally manage the emotions of at least three people per day, many of whom are senior to me at work, or strangers at the supermarket, etc.

          You’re probably thinking ‘I’m not asking you to manage anyone’s emotions! Just give them a polite heads up!’ That is not how 90% of these interactions go. I have been living this life literally since I was in elementary school. Trust me to know. There is no magic word that makes people take ‘oh, actually it’s ____’ well. Every time I choose to correct someone, it’s spinning a roulette wheel. Are they going to get angry? Are they going to pout at me? Are they going to apologize five million times? One of these reactions is so much more likely than the other party just saying ‘oh, okay!’ and moving on, no matter how casual I am about it or how much I reassure them I’m not in the least offended.

          I’m not kidding when I say I have multiple interactions like this per day. Yesterday I had one person call me by entirely the wrong name and two people misspell my name – independently. The day before, two people I passed on the street got into an argument (that I could hear) about what gender I am.

          The short answer is – no. I do not care if someone gets my name wrong or misgenders me. I am not going to start caring. And if you are embarrassed that you made a normal human mistake, you need to deal with that yourself, as an adult. I am not making it a second job to manage that emotion for you, and neither should the same be expected of the LW here.

          1. NforKnowledge*

            100% this. People claiming it’s quick and easy are never the ones who have to do it incessantly!

          2. KatieP*

            Where is that, “love,” button that we’ve been asking for? Everyone makes mistakes. It’s the responsibility of the person who made the mistake to manage their emotional response when they learn about it.

            And really, if it’s an innocent* mistake, and you’re more upset than the person you mis-gendered, maybe do a little self-reflection to find out why that is. Make a genuine apology, and let it go.

            * Anyone who does this on purpose is a jerk, at best. Probably transphobic.

          3. Your Computer Guy*

            I’m right there with you. I’ve got a truly 50/50 androgynous name, a real “butch” look/haircut, and I’m close to 6′ tall. A lot of people, particularly in transactional situations, are just glancing at someone’s general outline before addressing them. I’ve had a lot of people freak out and over-apologize, don’t think I’ve had anyone get all mad like in the letter.

            My name here is tongue-in-cheek because I work in a very male-heavy field and I have a knack for walking up or joining conference calls right as some says “we’ll need to ask your IT guy about that” and then everyone else feels real awkward. I do enjoy that moment of challenging preconceptions, and I try to be as inclusive/neutral in my own language (things like “provider” or “technician” and addressing groups as “folks” or “everyone”).

        5. Cmdrshpard*

          I had this problem at a previous job. A seasonal coworker started calling me a similar but wrong name. I am soft spoken and am not always clear, the area they worked in tended to be loud. At the time I didn’t bother correcting them because I rarely interacted with them, and I was thinking they are seasonal they will be gone in a few months.

          Except they were hired on permanently after that, at that point (3/4 months) it felt to late to correct them, and I felt embarrassed/awkward that I had never corrected them. So for two years I went by a different name with that one coworker. I don’t think anyone else really knew because our interactions were usually isolated 1/1.

          1. Your Computer Guy*

            I just recently realized that I’ve been calling my neighbor by the wrong name (first met him during the pandemic, at a distance, with us wearing masks) and I am mildly mortified (although I think I’ve called him by the wrong name directly only a couple of times). I think I’m just going to try to say his name as little as possible, like “Hi, how are you” instead of “Hi, John how are you.” But I’m also tempted to directly say “I got your name totally wrong and I’m sorry” and just rip that bandaid off.

            I learned my mistake because another neighbor corrected me, so all the awkward is just on me and not on my poor mis-named neighbor. I think that’s the ideal outcome to this kind of thing.

    2. You Can't Pronounce It*

      Agreed. As someone with a name that is often misspelled and mispronounced, I don’t bother correcting people. I would spend way too much of my time on it if I did and I have more important things to focus on. When questioned, I tell people this too. It happens all the time and I don’t have the bandwidth to correct everyone.

      Take it for what it is OP3. You can’t win for losing. Do what works best for you.

      1. Essess*

        Agreed… 90% of the email responses I receive have my name spelled wrong, even though it is spelled out in my email address, and I type it in my email signature. But no one can be bothered to actually care to spell it right. For decades I got snippy about it being wrong if they had the correct spelling. Now I just stress about it if it’s going to be on permanent or legal documents. I do confess to a bit of an overreaction the time an OldJob sent me a certificate for being “Employee of the Quarter” and it had my name spelled wrong. I walked it to the person that wrote it up and told her that it really HURT my morale that they claim I’m important to the company but not important enough to even know my name even though I have worked in the same office with that person for 2 years.

      2. Spellcaster*

        Fully sympathize with anyone who doesn’t want to use any energetic bandwidth to constantly both correct people and/or manage their responses when they do.
        I have an unusual preferred nickname, a differently spelled version of my (legal) first name, a long hyphenated last name with foreign spelling and pronunciation, my town isn’t pronounced like it’s spelled, and my street is a foreign word. So. I. spell. out. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G ! Even just when I introduce myself.

    3. sam_i_am*

      People who make your gender about them are surprisingly common. I experience this a lot, where it feels like I have to comfort someone for a mistake *they* made because they make their apology all about them. It really is a no-win situation whatever you choose to do w/r/t correcting people, in my experience.

      I recently corrected someone on my name (I’ve changed it and she just didn’t know about it because I don’t directly work with her at all) and it turned into a Whole Thing, which made me really uncomfortable. And for whatever reason, she’s brought it up since, which is especially awkward since we’ve had employees start since my change, and I’d rather those people not know I’ve changed my name.

  7. Observer*

    #2 – I’m so sorry about your parents.

    I think it’s worth asking yourself why you are second guessing yourself so much. Yes, there are people who Never. Stop. Talking about their tragedy and that’s a problem. But you are clearly NOT that person! What you are doing is very reasonable and sounds quite natural. Why are you so worried about it and why are you questioning how people will react. Sure, some people might be weird, but I can’t imagine any reasonable person is actually going to have a problem with this.

    I think that this a very good place to think about “Bring your whole self to work.” This is a significant part of your past and who you are. As you note, it changed your trajectory – and clearly it’s not just about the fact that you had to change your educational and professional path. It’s not something you need to or should try to hide or pretend doesn’t exist just because you are at work.

    I know that there is often a lot of push back to the “bring your whole self to work” concept on this site – I’m one of the people who do the pushing! But that’s for people who translate that to mean “lose the filter and all emotional regulation”. But THIS is the type of thing the concept is meant to address. You really don’t need to feel like you are not allowed to ever let this information out in a workplace setting.

    1. JSPA*

      I can see not wanting it to be the one thing / first thing that people think of, when your name is brought up.

      “Sandy with the owl statue collection and who loves, loves, loves olives (and has a sad back-story that some of us have heard)” is different from, “Sandy, so brave, I don’t know how they hold it together, and what’s with the owls, must be a coping mechanism?”

      Even (especially!) if your life has been irrevocably altered by tragedy, it’s often more comfortable, and often healthier, to develop a life-focused (not tragedy-focused) identity.

      Being a Survivor (big S) beats not surviving–and sometimes, even for decades, that’s the only option. But just Being (having survived and thrived to where you can feel comfortable just existing) is a lot less exhausting.

      That said, it’s going to come up anyway, when someone asks about the LW’s parents. So a preemptive statement isn’t necessarily the most awkward way to handle it.

      1. Allonge*

        I agree about your main point but I am not sure it will come up anyway – of course, yes, if OP is asked about family, they will probably need to say ‘my parents are unfortunately not there any more’ or similar, but OP can choose whether or not to go into detail.

      2. Observer*

        I totally get the OP not wanting to make this the center of their identity. My question was not about that.

        But the OP says that every time they share the information they “end up with 1,000 questions in my head: is this the right time? How will they react? Do I really NEED to bring it up? I compare it to a “coming out.”end up with 1,000 questions in my head: is this the right time? How will they react? Do I really NEED to bring it up? They also ask if it was a mistake to even mention it, even though the context was reasonable, and if they need to avoid it “altogether” in a new workplace. They also note that they are generally relieved when someone mentions that they know about this history so they don’t have to worry about disclosure.

        This all sounds like a lot more than worrying that this singular fact is the only thing people are going to see about them, and into worrying that people are going to see them as highly unprofessional for having this in their background, or for ever mentioning it, even in appropriate context.

        1. Rogue Won*

          Hello, OP 2 here. Appearing unprofessional has been a concern I’ve had. If someone comes to me about having seen a documentary or finds out about my circumstances on my own, I’m always happy to talk to them and usually welcome it, because some of what is out there on our case isn’t correct. It’s why I’ve participated in interviews and things in the past, my thought process is “better with me than without me.” I never give what I think is gratuitous detail but I am matter-of-fact on the subject of things like injuries, because I’ve had to learn to be matter of fact about them. But I worry that 1) it will be the only thing people associate with me and 2) someone(s) will find it an inappropriate thing to talk about at work, even though for me, it’s just reality.

          1. Observer*

            If someone finds you low key and matter of fact talk *occasional* and situation appropriate talk about your past “unprofessional” that’s TOTALLY on them. And honestly, as someone who believes that professionalism at work is a good thing, I don’t think that professionalism, pretending that you don’t have a past or any emotions. We all have a past, and some of us have a more difficult past than others. You are on the fairly far end of “difficult” spectrum but that’s no more unprofessional than, say, having a disability.

          2. Properlike*

            OP2 – I would be one of the workmates who would NEVER bring it up because, if you don’t bring it up first, I’m afraid me mentioning it would be hurtful. I was actually surprised to read that you were happy your interviewers raised it in conversation! But that’s a symptom of how I was raised (deep personal stuff is not for polite conversation or inquiry.) I think it’s a relief for colleagues to know your level of comfort so they can mark their own responses.

            This is a terrible thing to have to worry about. I’m very sorry this happened to you.

            1. Rogue Won*

              I was mostly relieved because I was new to interviewing at the time and there was a gap of ~6 months between when I graduated with my post-grad certificate and when I started job hunting, and a gap of ~1.5 years between my graduation from undergrad and my job hunt. They died 11 months after my graduation from undergrad and their killer didn’t go on trial until 1.5 years after they died, and wasn’t sentenced until 2 years after they died. Trying to explain what I’d been doing in that time was awkward. I stuck to “dealing with a family situation” but because I was so young and had no work experience I knew how that sounded. Having them bring it up first took the pressure off to explain the long gap between my graduation and my attempts to enter the workforce.

              1. Rogue Won*

                Correcting my math here with a timeline because I realized it makes no sense. I graduated undergrad in 2012. They died in spring 2013. Their killer didn’t go to trial until fall 2014. His sentencing hearing and the wrapping up of the case didn’t happen until summer 2015, and my first interviews happened in the fall of 2015. Sorry about that. So trying to explain what had gone on in those ~3 years was tricky and having them bring it up was a major relief because I didn’t have to try to vaguely hint what I’d been up to.

    2. Another Survivor*

      “ Yes, there are people who Never. Stop. Talking about their tragedy and that’s a problem.”

      Just a gentle reminder that anyone who does this is probably hurting terribly. In an ideal world, trauma survivors wouldn’t do this, but in the real world most people have to work for a living and can’t afford to take the time off they may need to focus on healing. Be as compassionate as you can muster.

      1. Observer*

        Sure, be as compassionate as you can muster. But it’s still a problematic behavior most of the time. Especially when it comes to the “misery Olympics” and one-upmanship.

        And, yes, it’s important to realize that neither grief nor trauma heal on a fixed timeline. But people do need to develop coping strategies that don’t require everyone around them to constantly be an audience for their processing and to constantly walk on eggshells around them.

        For an extreme example of how badly it can go, find the letter from someone whose coworker constantly berated anyone who complained about ANYTHING because “at least it’s not cancer”.

        1. yno*

          This is an extremely judgmental and unhelpful take full of absolutes and generalities.

          What even are the ” “misery Olympics” and one-upmanship”? Who’s talking about constant audiences for processing and walking on eggshells? OP shared a very touching, nuanced and raw piece of her past, and it’s hard to see what’s achieved by bringing up these imagined and utterly extreme scenarios that offer value judgments and no action or compassion. You don’t get to set benchmarks for how people deal with grief.

          OP, you sound like you’re doing an amazing job balancing this deeply personal event with your professional persona, and I for one would be extremely impressed hearing you share this story in an interview. Wishing you success in this job, and all others to follow.

          1. Observer*

            What even are the ” “misery Olympics” and one-upmanship”?

            There are people who always have a more horrible story to tell than whatever problem the person in front of them has. There are people who dismiss whatever problem someone has because “such and so is worse”. etc. That’s what those refer to.

            Who’s talking about constant audiences for processing and walking on eggshells?

            Good question. I simply pointed out that while there are people who act this way, the OP is clearly not one of them, and therefore doesn’t need to worry about occasionally mentioning their past. For which I was taken to task, ie “gently reminded” that people who act that way must be hurting. Which is true but is still a problem. I honestly don’t really get why @Another Survivor felt the need to make an issue of it.

            OP, you sound like you’re doing an amazing job balancing this deeply personal event with your professional persona, and I for one would be extremely impressed hearing you share this story in an interview. Wishing you success in this job, and all others to follow.


  8. Slowpoke*

    Op2 – I will say that while you might worry that your tragedy is too personal to share with people right away, I would bet that most people are glad that you told them. When others inform me of a tragedy in their life, I tend to feel grateful because I know this will allow me to be more sensitive and avoid thoughtlessly touching on subjects that may hurt them. Just something to keep in mind.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      This applies extra if your family’s name was attached to the tragedy in all the news coverage – my hometown had a pretty major one several years ago (Netflix recently made a miniseries about it) and even now, decades later, the victim’s last name evokes “Oh, like [victim]?” vibes from anyone local. Your coworkers may already know the basics of the story, and you acknowledging “yes, that’s me, let’s move on” will probably save a lot of concerned gossip behind your back.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Fully agree. Awkward moments because you know and put a toe into it and backed out are so much more preferable to awkward moments because you didn’t know and realize later that you **really** stumbled into it.

      LW, I am so very sorry for your loss(es). Thank you for being so acknowledging and accepting about the awkwardness other people must feel around it. I’m sure I would be awkward in person for a moment or seven, but then I would adjust to it and figure it out; my awkward feelings are mine to deal with and not anyone else’s emergency. That is especially because, like most others, I’ve had various situations and dramas and tragedies in my own life. Even if I can’t empathize because my own parents are still living, certainly I can sympathize. The earlier I know, the sooner I can figure out how to move forward and build a relationship that suits your needs AND our needs as colleagues, instead of a relationship centered on your tragedy.

    3. Jackalope*

      A suggestion for how to share this is you decide to: I had a personal tragedy in my life when I was young. It wasn’t as public as this, and I’ve since moved away from the area where it happened so no one knows unless I tell them. I’ve found in my experience that the best way to share if it comes up is to be very matter of fact and show that I’m used to it. People will generally follow my lead, and while there are still awkward moments sometimes I’ve found that this leads to the least awkwardness. If you can mention it that way – practicing being matter of fact if you aren’t there yet – then that might make it easier on you. You can always go into more detail later with coworkers that you become work friends if you want and if it’s relevant.

        1. Rogue Won*

          Thank you. Matter of fact is how I normally try to approach it, even though I think it shocks some people that I can be matter of fact about the specifics. But as I’m sure you know/understand, for me that’s reality and I had to get over the shock. In the US where I am, those observing trials, even family, can’t show emotion in front of the jury. My poker face/voice are VERY good at this point. It seems to help, like you mention, and I always tell people I’ll answer their questions because I’m more than willing to help people understand. I’m sorry you’re in a similar club.

  9. Luna*

    No tips for LW1, just a bit of consolidation. I’m currently on vacation from work and home alone, so I feel the whole isolation thing, it sucks horrendously. I don’t miss interacting with people, I miss having something to do, even part of the day. The current situation reminds me too much of my prolonged unemployment periods.

  10. Brain the Brian*

    LW4: I was in a situation once where I felt that I had to disclose that I was starting therapy to my manager, and I definitely recommend that you follow Alison’s advice here and don’t disclose the nature of your appointments. I had been unexpectedly hospitalized for an ostensibly nonmental illness, and my discharge orders included instructions to start therapy to avoid behavioral problems that could lead to a repeat of the symptoms that landed me in the hospital. Explaining to my manager why I would need some time off even though I was physically okay after leaving the hospital felt easiest with the context that the words “starting therapy” provided, but — ironically — my therapist has helped me see since then that that’s not a boundary I needed to allow my manager across. Your health is your health — period — and no manager gets to know any more details than absolutely necessary. In my case, “I’m doing okay physically but will have several short-term and recurring follow-ups for which I’ll need to take time off” would have sufficed. In any case, I’ve been denied too many opportunities for advancement because my manager is “not sure [I] have the bandwidth” since telling her about my therapy — and I really encourage you not to make the same mistake I did, LW4.

    If it helps with the logistics: try to find a therapist who offers remote appointments and a private space near your office (even if it’s in your car) to take your appointments. I’m privileged enough to work from home several days per week, and I can take my therapy appointments without even leaving my desk as a result; I know that’s not a reality for everyone, though. Basically, regardless of your situation, remove as many barriers as possible to you feeling safe, secure, and able to attend therapy regularly. I hope your experience is as helpful as mine has been.

    1. JSPA*

      #4, because you don’t want them to worry (or presume you need accommodations that you don’t need), why not use the wording Alison has suggested before, which does incorporate “minor but necessary”? Allergy shots, dermatological problems, PT of many sorts, figuring out digestive issues– those can fall into that general range.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yep — exactly this. Lowering the “I have medical appointments” boundary does not mean you have to lower the “the medical appointments are therapy” barrier. Disclose only as much as you absolutely need if you’re afraid of the unfairly negative connotation that therapy often carries.

        1. ferrina*

          Yes! Mental health is health. Practice ambiguous statements before talking to your manager, so you’re not trying to self-edit on the spot.

          “I’m on my feet again, but the doctor gave me an ongoing treatment plan that I need to follow to make a full recovery. I’ll be out for an hour on Tuesday mornings for my treatment- I’ll mark it on my calendar and I’ll make sure to make up the time each week”
          I like ending the statement by talking about work coverage- it redirects the attention back to the work rather than your health (and signals that you’ve said all you are going to say about your health)

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Yes! The separation between mental and physical health makes no sense to me. My brain is inside my body. My mental health condition (and many others) has symptoms that manifest physically. If I need an appointment to speak to a health professional about the brain illness that makes my body feel bad sometimes, it’s no different from needing to talk to a heath professional about my back pain or my allergies, and I use the exact same language when I’m making arrangements to be away from work. The language Alison suggested is perfect.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        This strikes me as inadvertently othering people with more serious health issues. It’s sort of like, “don’t worry, I still qualify as ‘normal’.” I was thinking that the LW seems to have some internalized bias against mental illness/disability (which is understandable but a good thing to examine and repair).

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I didn’t get that read at all from the LW (and I’m also in therapy). “I have a recurring weekly appointment for a minor medical issue” is meant to communicate “this is not something you have to worry about” since there *are* weekly medical appointments that are quite serious, like for chemo. It’s not saying “I’m Still A Normal [wink],” it’s saying “there’s nothing to discuss.”

          1. Brain the Brian*

            I *do* actually think there’s a society-wide internalized bias against mental health treatments — but that’s not something that LW4 is going to solve through one conversation with their manager. Keeping the focus on the (lack of) work impact is best here, in my view.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Oh yeah, I do not disagree with that at all — there’s a part of my family that does not get to know I go to therapy. I just don’t think that’s what is happening when someone says “weekly appointments for a minor medical issue.” Even if it was weekly appointments for allergy shots, the details aren’t necessary — calling it minor is just a way to head off “oh gosh, I hope everything’s ok!!!!!!” comments.

        2. alienor*

          I don’t think its so much that the LW has internalized bias, more that they know a lot of people do, and they don’t want to deal with the fallout from that at work. Which is understandable when they’re already struggling with their mental health and probably trying to minimize sources of stress.

    2. Sharpie*

      It must be a cultural thing because I wouldn’t necessarily connect ‘therapy’ with ‘seeing a counsellor’ – it could mean seeing a physiotherapist, or a dietician or an osteopath or a joint specialist, or a dermatologist or… Especially if the original reason you’d been off was for some physical thing that needed treating.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also some therapists do offer counseling outside “regular business hours”. The wellness center at our local hospital opens for some appointments as early as 5:30am.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Very true! Although frankly, part of the mindset shift that through which my therapist has helped me is a realization that it’s *perfectly fine*, if not outright preferable, to schedule recurring medical appointments during work hours. I would frankly rather cut into my work time — and use medical leave if I don’t wind up working a full day — than shortchange my evenings. Good managers can find a way to redistribute work, but there’s no substitute for spending time with my own loved ones — and if your manager has everyone so fully booked that they don’t have any time to take appointments during work hours, that’s *their* problem, not yours.

    4. LegalEagle*

      And LW4, your boss will not necessarily assume that a recurring appointment will be therapy. I used very vague language in my first job when I needed to take off for therapy (I actually think I explicitly said I had a standing doctor’s appointment) and my boss never gave me pushback. Indeed, when we had big events and I’d switch my therapy dates or cancel my appointment, my boss would ask if that was going to be ok for me, medically. And this was NOT a boss who was flexible in other ways, so vague language about a recurring medical appointment can work well.

      1. Boom! Tetris for Jeff!*

        I’ve been going to physio therapy almost every week for the last 6 months. But I also got counselling and flu shots and regular doctor appointments for other issues. And I don’t look broken from the outside, physically or mentally. It’s ok, we all need medical attention of one sort or another sometimes. Use the blanket ‘medical appointment’ term and don’t worry!

  11. anone*

    OP4, there are therapists who work evenings and weekends. A friend of mine specifically only offers afternoon and evening hours for their clients (including on Saturdays–they take Thursdays off instead) because that works better with their own preferred schedule. It may not be the *most* common, it’s not impossible to find either. In case that factors into your planning!

    1. Mockingbird*

      It can be harder to find (and therapists are already hard to find), but yes, there are therapists with evening and weekend appointments. I had an employer be, let’s say, not supportive of the therapy I needed because of their terrible management decisions. When I later needed to go back into therapy, that experience made me look specifically for one with hours that would let me miss as little work as possible (I also had a different employer). This was pre telehealth so travel time was an issue, too. Finding such a provider meant one less thing I had to worry about and discuss in therapy.

  12. Emmy Noether*

    #3 I have experience with this.

    My husband has a gender-neutral name that has been predominantly female in our lifetimes. This kind of thing happens to him all the time. He hasn’t been berated for not correcting, afaik, but he has been asked for ID when paying with his credit card explicitly because “isn’t that a woman’s name?”.

    I have a rare name that only exists in German and Dutch. Outside of those cultures, I get misgendered as male through written communication sometimes. The one that pissed me off was the (German!!) professor that adressed me as “Sir/Maam (don’t know what gender your name is”. In the time he typed that out, he could have damn well googled my name and found out. It’s not neutral, just rare.

    My husband does what Alison proposed and puts a (Mr.) in his signature. It mostly works, though not always. I’ve also done this with success to correct people indirectly. You can also do the pronoun thing others proposed, though that will read more political than the title thing. Another option, if you have a gender identifying middle name, is to spell out first and middle in your signature (but be prepared to be adressed as Logan Catherine in full henceforth).

    My husband and I have also used this confusion to our advantage. I’ve pretended to be him on the phone with our internet provider, for example.

    1. Myrin*

      Now I’m dying to know what your name is – I like to think it’s something like “Adelgundis”, although I’d say that every German, especially someone educated enough to be a university professor, should be able to “feel” that that’s a female name even if they haven’t encountered it before. (To be clear, I’m of course not actually asking you to reveal your real name, I’m just amusing myself thinking of possibilities.)

      1. Emmy Noether*

        It’s a modern name (as in the “famous people of this name” section in Wikipedia is all 20th century), but the gender *should* be very obvious to anyone who speaks German. I think the jerk just wanted to tell me in a roundabout way I have a weird name.

        Which is probably why this one rankled and the others are more “eh, different language”. I’ve also had someone not believe me that it’s a real name when I was a child. That one I’m also still pissed about.

      2. Lily*

        My first thought was “Edeltraud”, because I met an Edeltraud recently. Everyone calls her “Eddy”.

    2. Name name*

      ” In the time he typed that out, he could have damn well googled my name and found out. It’s not neutral, just rare.” Names don’t have genders, people do! People with the same name could use different pronouns etc. Just a reminder! Googling someone’s name will not tell you that individual person’s gender unless you mean that you have a website/profile with your pronouns that this professor would have found is they googled.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        This is true, but if he would adress a Thomas as Sir, and a Catherine as Maam, then that argument doesn’t hold water. HE specifically wrote he didn’t know the gender “of my name”. If he adressed everyone, including the Thomases and the Catherines, in a neutral way, that would be ok with me. The way he wrote it, it was clearly “I’ve never heard of this name and can’t be bothered to look it up”.

    3. ferrina*

      This sounds like a great strategy for your husband, but can read differently coming from a woman. My MIL will still identify herself as Mrs. John Smith (i.e., as her husband’s wife)- it’s a thing to some people. I know Alison recommended using Ms. instead of Mrs., but that means that 1) folks will need to not misread and 2) folks need to know what Ms means (and yeah, I’ve had to explain Ms in the last 5 years, and it was to the same crowd that uses Mrs. Husband’s Name). I’d worry about additional discrimination that way- I’d go with adding pronouns.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I’ve done it with “Dr. Emmy Noether (Mrs.)” and had that work. But yes, highly culture and context dependent. And probably works better for “never heard of this name” than “that’s clearly a guy’s name” problems.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      My ex’s name is something that in his home country is pronounced one way and predominantly male, but in mine and others predominantly female and pronounced differently – this is a placeholder example, but think Andrea from Italy. It did happen where people he knew online, who’d only ever seen Andrea written down and hadn’t seen his picture or heard his voice, thought they’d been chatting with a female Andrea.

    5. SpaceySteph*

      I am dating myself here (and revealing a love for truly terrible movies), but this made me think of the movie Eurotrip with Mike/Jan being gender swapped in German vs English.

  13. UKgreen*

    I’m confused as to why LW3 doesn’t just put she/her after her name? It’s becoming almost ubiquitous in many sectors.

    1. Allonge*

      Presumably because she does not work in that kind of sector, and in some other sectors it is something that brings judgment, which she may or may not be able to afford.

      1. I should be working*

        And yet if a sizable percentage of people across the board would start including this information the judgement issue would be a moot point.

        I encourage the supportive commentariat here to consider adding your preferred pronouns to your signatures to help normalize it for everyone.

    2. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      As someone who’s frequently the only woman in the room, I find adding pronouns to my signature to uncomfortably bring attention to that fact in every interaction.

      1. UKgreen*

        Same here, TBH, but I have a very ‘obviously girly’ name anyway.

        But I’m glad that as time goes on the ubiquity of ‘pronouns in signatures’ means lots more people understand what it’s for. When my colleague Charlie (she/her) first changed her email sig a few years back because she was fed of people thinking she was a bloke, people were baffled, confused and in some cases, outraged.

  14. GammaGirl1908*

    People tend to leap to a conclusion about then sex of the owner of a name where they don’t automatically know this detail (this likely also happens when the origin of the name is not obvious in the speaker’s native language, as well). You are doing them a HUGE kindness by letting them know this detail before the assumption is too ingrained.

    Also, I know at least one other female Logan, and have thought of it as a gender-neutral name. It is totally in the category of names like Jordan and Blair and Ryan and Jamie and Blake and Avery and Cameron for me, so I would not be **SHoCkEd!!!!**to be corrected / adjusted if I assumed a sex.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Honest question: why is it important for other people to know her gender when it doesn’t matter to her?

      1. ferrina*

        It’s helpful if they are going to reference her in conversation- many of us default to binary pronouns, and we want to make sure that we are referring to her in the way that she wants to be referred. It can also avoid confusion (a la Wakeen and Joquin- do we now have a male Jordan and female Jordan?)

        I work with someone with a gender ambiguous name, and I’ve noticed that new people will avoid using any pronouns for her. It isn’t the way most of us tend to talk, so it takes a bit of extra focus. “Is Jordan the person that produces the TPS report? Do I get the data from….her, um, him, um, Jordan?”
        (changing the linguistic tendencies are very doable for most people, it just takes a bit of extra practice that most people haven’t necessarily exercised)

        1. BubbleTea*

          I’m trying to default to “they” if I don’t know the correct pronouns for someone. I know not everyone wants to be referred to as “they”, but if someone doesn’t tell me what pronouns to use, I’d rather not make assumptions – and “they” has been in use forever for when we don’t know someone’s identity (e.g. “someone’s left their bag, I hope they come back for it”).

          1. Properlike*

            I’m starting to default to “they” for EVERYONE. “They” or Firstname, even when I know the gender.

            1. MWP*

              Agree with Nopetopus. Besides being generally disrespectful, if you end up doing this to a trans person who has a binary identity, it still feels like a slap in the face. There’s also a chance a nonbinary person who isn’t out yet, or out to a limited number of people, could think you’re intentionally outing them/that someone else has outed them to you.

            2. No no no no(nbinary)*

              I’m starting to default to “they” for EVERYONE. “They” or Firstname, even when I know the gender.

              This is Not Good. Don’t do this! If you know someone’s gender and refuse to use their pronouns, you’re misgendering them. Also, speaking from a nonbinary perspective here, it’s pretty offensive to use “they” as a gender catch-all when you know otherwise. You’re basically saying that you don’t think “they” is a valid and specific pronoun for enbies to use, just a dumping ground for all gender identities.

              Using “they” when you don’t know the gender? Great! Using “they” when you know that’s the person’s pronoun? Great! Using “they” when you know the person’s pronoun is something else? Bad bad baaaaaaaaaaad.

              1. No no no no(nbinary)*

                I want to add that nonbinary people still face a lot of bigotry even within the LGBTQIA+ community. “You can’t just be neither [male or female]! You HAVE to be one or the other!” is something I’ve heard from faaaaaaar too many binary people in the community over the past 40+ years. :/

                So taking away “they” as a specific pronoun that many enbies use to self-ID, and applying it to all people of all genders, when you know that’s not the case, is even more egregious. You’re basically stealing away an entire group’s identity to apply it to a wider group who don’t want it because it doesn’t even belong there. It’s just not their identity. Stick to only using it when you don’t know the pronoun, and when you know that’s the specific pronoun of the person you’re talking about.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            This. I use “they” if I don’t know their gender. It’s really easy. Then I don’t have to guess, and it de-emphasizes the gender thing entirely, and avoids gender stereotypes in business. It works for single and plural. “The COO hired a new batch of people. They are in sales, marketing, engineering and finance.”

    2. Samwise*

      Logan is about 50/50 male/female among undergrads at my university.

      Some of my queer students have changed their names to Logan or Alex because these names are both common and gender neutral.

  15. Green great dragon*

    #4 I would add up front that it isn’t anything to worry about, or that you don’t need any other provision. It’s one of the things I struggle with as a manager – I obviously don’t need any medical details, but if someone tells me they’ve got a recurring medical appointment I’m going to ask if everything is OK. Not saying anything would feel very uncaring, I do want to know if they’re feeling below par (without details!) and I’ve never come up with a better phrase.

    1. IT Squirrel*

      How about asking “Is there anything you need from me to help with that?” instead? That feels like it lets them bring up any adjustments they might need without sounding (however inadvertently) like you are asking them to reveal anything about their treatment…

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        I agree with this statement. If my manager asked if everything okay, I would feel like they’re trying to fish for more information than I feel comfortable sharing. When I tell my manager I have a medical appointment, he just says “I hope everything is good.”, which is much better than asking as I feel like he’s acknowledging that he understands and leaves it open to me sharing if I want. But also, “Is there anything you need from to help?” is another way to let the employee feel it’s fine they need to go through with the appointment and free to share whatever info they want.

    2. Allonge*

      As long as you accept ‘sure, it’s just something that I need to take care of, nothing major’ as an answer, it’s a perfecly fine thing to ask. Maybe add ‘obviously I don’t need details’ or something like that if you see people getting uncomfortable.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Please do not! At some point you’re going to ask that when everything is not okay and the person won’t want to tell you that. Switch to a formulation that doesn’t put them on the spot or force them to lie!

      Even “I hope everything is okay” is better than “is everything okay”? But it’s still not great, because it will still make people feel you’re fishing for info. “Let me know if there’s anything you need from me” is better.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        +1 to this. We of nonmanagement roles need to know that our managers have our backs at work whether we’re okay or not!

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Thank you. I am often not okay – I have chronic pain and a lot of medical appointments. At work I am the best I can be that day, and am trying to focus on things besides myself. I don’t want that attention or scrutiny, but having to lie constantly is also exhausting.

      3. Green great dragon*

        Yeh, makes sense. Maybe the two together. I do hope everying is OK, and I do care about them beyond just being willing to take relevant practical steps! But there doesn’t seem to be a great way to express that.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think the way you express that is … well, all the time, through your actions more than through your words! By being a supportive manager, being flexible when you can, ensuring people take their time off, moving stuff around when someone has something serious or important going on in their non-work life, etc. That stuff will always count for more than words anyway, and employees will know if you care about them based on whether you do or don’t do all that stuff. (And a manager who doesn’t do that stuff and still asks if everything is okay is its own special kind of infuriating.)

      4. SOUPervisor*

        My go to is “I hope everything is ok [no pause launch immediately into a work topic]” to express that I do hope everything is ok, but I’m not going to fish.

  16. bamcheeks*

    LW1, firstly, google “david docherty sent the text song”, because it will (hopefully!) make you laugh.

    Secondly, I suggest reframing this from “C hates me” to “the way I am feeling right now is one aspect of the dysfunction of our situation”. You’ve talked in this letter about the situation as an unchangeable one that you both “make the best of”, and I believe you that’s true! But the “making the best of it” isn’t actually working quite right at the moment because you feel crap. What room for manoeuvre is there? Can anything be changed about the situation, or the way the two of you manage it? Do you have space to have a good think about that, and then discuss it with your manager and with C directly? It gives you a lot of control back to move from “C hates me” to “this is an institutional problem that I can if not SOLVE, at least IMPROVE.”

    Thirdly, if you do have a “what are we going to do” talk with C, and you feel you can raise this directly, would you be up for suggesting to agree that whilst you both get frustrated with each other and the situation, you don’t share frustrations about the other with members of the team or department? I am not clear on whether the third party C intended to email was a member of the team or someone entirely separate– if it was actually someone entirely outside the situation, then it’s slightly different. Even so, reframing from, “C accidentally let slip she hates me” to “C made a work mistake by putting her frustrations in writing which always introduces the risk of damaging relationships” helps depersonalise it for you.

      1. Sar*

        Thank you for sharing, that song gave me a good giggle!

        I agree, how I frame it up is going to have the biggest influence on how I feel about it. I’ve been a bit stuck with not wanting to say anything to anyone at work about it and not wanting to tell any of my friends as I didn’t want them to think less of C either (as we have previously spent time together outside of work) – but it’s resulted in some negative doom loop thinking. I think writing something out will be helpful to get me to from A to point B, as even just this process in this forum has been very cathartic.

  17. ItsAMansWorld*

    In my experience, people will look for any excuse to think females working in male dominated fields are really males pretending to be female (because you can’t be that competent, I guess). I’ve personally mainly experienced this online where the result is typically refusing to believe and an assumption a guy is pretending to be female to get the inherent benefits therein (can someone explain what these so-called benefits are?). I’ve seen them do all sorts of weird stuff to justify this (ex: picture of me holding something being discussed in a post: those hands are too large to be female, there’s no nail polish on those nails so it can’t be a girl, etc). Could there be some of that going on?

    1. Raw Flour*

      I’m sure that’s part of what’s going on for LW3, but does identifying this problem get her closer to a solution?

      I’m not being snarky, I’m just not sure if there’s some subtext I’ve missed.

      1. ItsAMansWorld*

        I guess my point was that you have to expect this to happen because it will no matter what, consider yourself fortunate it’s not a more virulent form, and try not to let idiots get to you. Trying to argue/disabuse people of their incorrect notions often makes them dig in further and/or push back on the person calling them out. Ignoring it and moving on if you can is likely the best course of action most of the time.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I mean, her name is Logan. It’s not really a great leap of imagination for people who just email her to assume she’s a dude.

    3. Anita, Darling*

      This is very different these days, but I think it’s a long-standing joke, and was the case in the earlier days of the Internet, that “there are no girls on the Internet”, and if you met someone claiming to be one, say in a chat room, they’re just a guy pretending.

  18. Yellow+Flotsam*

    LW3 I get why someone would be bothered by that. If someone is conscious of addressing bias, knows women who have expressed annoyance (or rage) at the continuous assumptions of not being female, then I can easily see how they’re bothered by having done exactly that and wondering why you wouldn’t correct them. Especially if they’ve then referred to you as male to others.

    I hate the assumption that I must be male (stereotypical female name in my case). Usually people who address me as Mr or Sir are displaying a strong bias against women being capable of doing my job. They just assume that I must be male because I have my job.

    One option would be to include something in your signature or work profile to make it clear. You could add pronouns, or female indicating title, or include a line saying “I prefer to be addressed as Logan but if you prefer a more formal address it’s ma’am”.

    Most people will be grateful for an indicator to avoid making mistakes.

    1. Allonge*

      I would argue that if someone assumes that another person is male, it makes a huge difference if the data they do have (name) indicates one or the other.

      What happens to you sucks and is indicative indeed of a lot of societal issues. What happens to OP (the misgendering part) is a consequence of the gender distribution of the name Logan.

      If someone is so upset that they misgendered another based on a name that usually reliably indicates gender, that is for them to process and not to blow up at the other person. Fair enough to ask why they did not correct it but I would assume the answer is ‘I am used to it / not bothered by it that much / don’t have time for this’ and not anything about trapping me up.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      “They just assume that I must be male because I have my job.”

      In my case they assume I don’t have my job because I’m not a man. If I had a nickel for every version “Nice to meet you, where’s the doctor?” I’ve heard in my career I would be a much wealthier woman. And I’ve had people start to yell at me when I tell them I am the doctor. One delivery dude tried to get me to sign for something at a nurse’s station in the hospital. “I think you need to talk to a nurse” was greeted with “And what exactly do you think you are?” I was wearing both an ID badge and a white coat with my name and MD on the front. Didn’t matter.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I guess it’s possible that the guy was really upset about misgendering someone, but there are a loooooot of people who think that gender is a really important detail to know, and I think most of those people have boxes/heuristics that they want to put people in. I think this was likely about his OWN issues around gender and not about respect for the other person.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think there really can be any doubt that you are correct.

        If someone was upset for making a disrespectful mistake, they would say “I’m sorry! Why didn’t you correct me?” and accept the OP’s “It happens. I don’t mind really” with “I’m sorry it keeps happening and I’ll try to be more careful going forward” or “OK.” if they don’t want to get into it.

        But “losing their mind”, scolding the OP and telling her how “unprofessional” she was, and refusing to accept her explanation is NOT in any way about respect for the OP. It’s about themselves and not being able to use the gender based heuristics they are used to.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          I suspect that part of it was that the instructor was getting corrected in public. (I’m assuming that this happened at the beginning of a class meeting, since they were identified as an instructor.) People really need to get better at accepting a correction gracefully. Even if they disagree with the correction, there should be a calculation of “is this the time and place to engage with the information?” because often enough, the internal answer is no, and the external answer should be “Thank you”, and then pivoting to another topic.

    4. Parakeet*

      It doesn’t seem like LW3’s responsibility to hold people’s hands in making sure that they live up to their own values around addressing bias. If they’re bothered that they made an assumption, they should probably reflect on that themselves and not make it LW3’s problem or put it on her to care more about this than she does.

      I’m not convinced that that’s what’s going on anyway, because people who overreact in this particular way don’t tend to be people who have progressive values on gender in my experience. But even if it is, it doesn’t make it reasonable for the person who assumed she was male to express to her that he was bothered.

      Since people are not always going to behave the way they ought to, I think it’s great that she has options for making quick corrections and/or preempting wrong assumptions, but I’m puzzled by commenters who seem to think LW3 has some kind of _obligation_ to correct people, or preempt the possibility that they will make a wrong assumption, if she doesn’t want to.

  19. Guin*

    Ma’am/Sir. That’s what pronouns in signatures were invented for. “Logan Frogmore, she/her/hers.” “Logan Frogmore, they/them/theirs.” Or, if you have a rank, take after Kathryn Janeway: “Do you prefer sir or ma’am?” “I prefer Captain, but ma’am will do.”

    1. Samwise*

      The advantage of working in higher ed: You can use “Professor” or “Dr.” pretty freely, especially if you are a student. People who are not “Professor” or “Dr.” are rarely insulted if you call them that, and for sure there are some “Professors” and “Dr.s” who get snitty if you don’t correctly title them.

    2. JustaTech*

      Last year my in-laws hired a new sales guy and called us up in a bit of a tizzy because his email signature included (he/him).
      “Does this mean he’s homophobic?!” (Many of their clients serve the gay community so this would be a major problem.)
      “No, he’s just saying that those are his pronouns.”
      “Does that mean he’s trolling for dates?!”
      “No, he’s just clarifying that those are the pronouns he uses. It’s just being polite.”

      It took about an hour, but we got them to understand. (They weren’t be weird or reactionary, it was just a brand-new concept to them. My MIL especially doesn’t get a lot of work-like emails so the whole idea was brand-new.)

  20. Spooky Spiders*

    OP #3, this is a good opportunity to add your pronouns to your signature! IE Logan Tetrazzini (she/hers). It would address the assumptions about your gender, but also would be inclusive if someone else has considered using their pronouns in email.

    1. Spooky Spiders*

      I see now that a lot of people have been suggesting adding pronouns to your signature! I appreciate that it’s becoming a normalized option that people immediately go to.

  21. DJ Abbott*

    #1, I’m concerned that you don’t have any other interaction when you’re home. I live alone also and also love interaction, and social media has gotten me through the pandemic and flu periods of illness.
    Do you have a social circle and social activities? If not, working on getting those will help. Also I know social media can be disruptive, but my friends and I use it to support each other and stay in touch. Could you connect with friends on social media so if you’re sick you can at least interact that way?

    1. I have to get out of here*

      This is a very kind response, and I want to add charitably that I often don’t feel like interacting with anyone (or doing much of anything) when ill, which doesn’t take away the emotional need to interact with others.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Thanks! For me it varies according to how sick I am.

        I want to add, OP1, if you have an active social life it makes work problems much smaller. :)

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      When I was recovering from my stroke and adjusting to life as a disabled person, the social media of the time saved my sanity. I could barely walk across the house to get to the bathroom, but I coiuld type, even with one hand, and my interaction was either with my roommates or UseNet – and mostly UseNet. Nowadays it would be things like Dreamwidth and Twitter, because I’m not into broadcasting my life in photos like Tumblr, Instagram, TikTok or even Pinterest.

  22. Corrigan*

    #3 Totally not rude to correct people! I also interact a lot via email, and have people mess up my name even though it’s clearly spelled out. (Think being called “Sophia” instead of “Sophie”.) I’ve started correcting people instead of letting it go, politely of course, but I’ve never had a bad reaction. Worth it!

  23. JSPA*

    reposting (with edits), because it posted as a reply to a different LW:

    OP #1 / LW1:
    Here’s a script, and more about why it’s important to address it from a practical standpoint

    “thinking about your message is making me acknowledge that there’s something structurally imperfect in our roles. There are times when you find it easier when I’m done. There are also times when I find out easier when you’re gone. And that’s true despite respecting you, liking you, and deeply appreciating the work you do. Have you had some ideas about that, that you’re willing to share?”

    I can imagine several scenarios, from “The time it takes to get sign off on substantive aspects slows thing way down, due to lack of instantaneous transparency”


    “We set aside some of the less enjoyable and luckily less core tasks when one of us is gone”


    “We honestly are each trying to steer the ship in a different direction”


    “We know each other and the overall goals well enough that having to watch the blow-by-blow process and ensure sign off on minor details is irritating and unnecessary.”

    Those have different solutions!

    Could be you’d benefit from designating an alternating controlling team, that varies by project, or by week.

    Could be it’d help to essentially think out loud on slack.

    Could be that all of the thinking out loud on slack is making both of you nuts.

    Could be that there arespecific non-core tasks you legitimately both hate that don’t actually need to be done as often as they are, or that could be split up differently, or that at least benefit from being acknowledged.

    Could be that part of what you’re being paid for is the push and pull and dramatic tension caused by having differences in vision–worth checking with someone above you if that’s indeed the theory and goal!–at which point, merely acknowledging that fact may go a long way towards making it palatable.

    Could also be that they find you either indecisive or overly decisive and hasty, overly predictable or overly unpredictable, not invested enough or overly emotionally- invested (etc) and you something similarly personal (yet not dismissive!) about them. If you actually can fruitfully discuss how that affects the product and process, that’s also win all around, as well. Even if it just works out to “sitting on and discussing any major decision for at least half an hour so you don’t have to change course a day later.” Or, “making every minor decision within 5 minutes–or ceding control if you can’t, or flipping a coin, and not ruminating on it.”

    What do you need / here’s what I need conversations are well worth the time. They don’t generally end up as, “change everything about you and your process.” If you want to forestall that anxiety, think of it as, “what version of me being me works well in the context of you being you?” and vice versa.

  24. AMT*

    Is anyone else concerned about a company that requires a reference from your current supervisor to move forward with a written offer? I’m glad the LW happened to have a good supervisor, but what if you had a bad one? You could end up having the offer pulled *and* alerting your current supervisor that you were job-hunting.

    1. AMT*

      Re-reading the letter, I realize it’s *technically* considered an internal transfer, but…still, not ideal if they’re separate organizations.

  25. Michelle Smith*

    LW4: Yep, you’re overthinking it! I have recurring medical appointments that I stepped down from once a week to biweekly, so they happen at least 2x a month on Wednesday mornings. They are 45 minute telehealth appointments so I can use my lunch hour without having to sacrifice any leave time or do any schedule changing. There are plenty of therapists who use telehealth after the first appointment, and some even from the beginning, so consider whether that’s an option for you (obviously you would need a private space, so this would likely only work if you’re working from home).

    By the way, my biweekly appointments aren’t therapy appointments. I am seeing a certified dietician who is helping me recover from disordered eating, pre-diabetes, and some pretty serious GI issues. She’s lovely and my mental health has improved since I started working with her, but she’s not a therapist. There is no reason to assume that recurring appointment = therapy or for people to make negative assumptions about you even if they guess that you’re going to therapy. If I were managing you, I’d be thrilled that you’re doing something proactive about your mental health rather than having to raise the issue with you if it affected your quality of work.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      +1 to this! Tele-therapy is a wonderful way to get around some of the barriers to treatment that people commonly experience, from transportation to the still-perfectly-reasonable desire to avoid sharing indoor air with different people during a respiratory pandemic — as long as, of course, you have a private space for an appointment. And, Michelle Smith, it sounds like your dietician appointments are telehealth in the same way?

  26. Overeducated*

    LW4 – therapy is definitely not the obvious meaning of “recurring medical appointment.” I have several appointments a year for some ongoing dental work. A coworker of mine had regular appointments for physical therapy after a car accident. A looooot of women around my age have regular fertility or OB/GYN appointments. My old boss had regular medical appointments for a couple years before he retired…but I never knew or asked what for. Seriously, no need to disclose, there’s no scarlet letter or obvious inference here and it’s all your private business.

    1. Panda (she/her)*

      Absolutely. I have weekly therapy and physiotherapy appointments and nobody needs to know what either of them are.

  27. doreen*

    OP#5 – since it’s technically an internal transfer, are you certain that you are even responsible for giving notice? In the three jobs where I have experienced internal transfers, the person being transferred had little to do with notice – I might say that I am on vacation for a week starting December 5 so obviously I can’t start the new job then but aside from that , HR and the two managers worked out the starting date.

  28. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW #4: I agree with others, therapy is not the first thing I would think of if someone told me they had a reoccurring medical appointment, and I’m in therapy every other week. But I’ve worked with people who’ve had regular appointments for chemo, blood work, infusions, dialysis, etc. I wouldn’t worry how it is perceived, everyone has various reasons for needing regular medical attention.

  29. TimeTravlR*

    Good luck, Logan! I added the Ms. to my name and still get called sir or Mr TimeTravlR. sigh.
    If these are people that you will be interacting with again (sounds like it), then correct them in the moment. For those who you don’t anticipate engaging with again, just let it go.

    1. Don’t Pay Me Less Because of Body Parts*

      I have a friend named Erin and she has her pronouns in her signature. She gets called Sir or Eric several times a week over email. It’s bizarre.

      Some people choose to be obtuse. She decides whether to correct them based on whether they’ll have an ongoing relationship.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        “She decides whether to correct them based on whether they’ll have an ongoing relationship.”
        This is what I finally had to do. To top it off, my name is not pronounced how it looks so I get a whole lot of inaccurate pronunciations. Again, I choose whether to correct based on how much it matters.

        1. Yellow+Flotsam*

          Does your workplace have a directory? If so, it might be worth asking for a pronunciation link where you could upload a recording of your name.

          A previous workplace of mine had this and it was great – made it so much easier to get people’s name correct.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        “Some people choose to be obtuse.”


        My name is a very feminine name, my picture is of my femme-presenting self and it shows on Outlook, and I’ve still been called sir multiple times. Apparently I have a more “masculine energy” which, to be quite honest, I’m perfectly fine with. I’m pretty sure they’re confusing being firm and direct with masculinity (based on the people that do/say this to me).

        Personally I find Ms. a little weird – I never see Mrs/Ms/Mr, so I think that’s why it feels a little jarring – but adding she/hers in might help. I was one of the first to add it to mine and definitely got questioned a few times, but have noticed others now doing it as well.

      3. Cmdrshpard*

        This is what I have done. I am male but on the phone my voice sounds female that 9/10 people if they don’t know me or I don’t give them my name will think I am a woman. Most of the time if I don’t think I will interact with them again or if it will only be a few times I don’t say anything.

        It also does not help that I have close male/female name, like Eric vs Erica, so sometimes even if I give my name it can be easily misunderstood/inferred especially when people hear a female voice I think a lot of people might unconsciously think “I thought I heard them say Eric, but voice was female so it was probably Erica.”

        At this point I have let all my coworkers know if you get a call from someone who say they were just talking to a woman (small team only a few men/women) or Erica it was likely me they were talking to.

  30. Anon+*

    LW 2

    I am terribly sorry what happened to your parents. How awful, though I’m glad you’ve been able to find some relief in the verdict engage in meaningful work afterwards.

    However, unless you have the experience of coming out as LGBTQIA+, please don’t use that term to refer to anything else. There is a profound amount of baggage and risk with true coming out, and though you risk others viewing you differently than maybe they otherwise would have, it doesn’t compare to the experience of LGBTQIA+ people.

    It’s hard to convey my sincerity over a keyboard, but I am genuinely sorry about your parents and also felt compelled to share my perspective on that term, particularly given the state of current danger to the LGBTQIA+ community (physical, political, mental and social).

    1. Rogue Won*

      Hello, OP 2 here. I thought for a while about how to respond to this, since it’s basically forcing me to out myself, but I am in fact a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and do not use that phrase lightly. At the time I sent my letter it was also the only comparison I could make. I appreciate the desire to safeguard the community and am well aware of the risks we face.

        1. Rogue Won*

          Thank you. I questioned using it before I sent the letter but it felt like the right use of the phrase because I’ve had to do both multiple times in my life and the nerves I feel are similar and often the reactions are similar. I’ve lost friends because they feared being associated with me after the murders (even though the killer was caught almost immediately) or they “didn’t know what to say.” The two really are similar in a way that people who haven’t experienced both can’t (and I hope never have to) see.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I’m sorry you have had to deal with this and that you felt you were put in the position to defend yourself in the comments. You’ve been through a lot, and this comparison makes total sense. You are best positioned to know what descriptions of your situation and experiences are appropriate.

    2. Sylvan*

      I don’t quite know what to say, but I’m part of the LGBT community and I strongly disagree with this comment and your approach to the LW.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          The commenter! Sorry. You’re good. The policing and assuming in the comment is not cool.

          1. Rogue Won*

            That’s OK! I’m a member of the community which might be why I didn’t think anything of using the phrase. The two are more similar than people realize. I’ve actually dealt with more idiotic comments revealing this (usually about how they would still be alive if they’d been armed) than coming out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

    3. BubbleTea*

      I’ve come out as all kinds of things, including being gay, and I disagree that there’s something special about coming out related to sexuality. People react weirdly to all sorts of things, and harm doesn’t just mean risk of being gay-bashed (and indeed, all of the homophobia I’ve experienced has been in the form of psychologically harmful comments, which are exactly what LW2 has experienced in this instance).

      Please don’t gatekeep language on behalf of a community unless you have evidence that we all feel the same way as you, which clearly we do not.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, you could come out as being polyamorous, pagan, or any other thing that’s not exactly common/standard.

    4. No no no no(nbinary)*

      “Good” job forcing the OP to feel they had to out themselves on a public forum just so you can feel better about yourself, Anon+. I hope you’re experiencing the proper amount of shame right now (“all of it” is the proper amount), and that you have learned a valuable lesson in exercising discretion and compassion when it comes to running your physical/virtual mouth.

  31. Revengeofpompom*

    LW 2: in case this is a reassurance, I’ve worked in the criminal justice field for about 20 years, in varying capacities, both working with survivors of homicide victims and working with convicted people, and have been on hiring committees many, many times, more than I can count. In my experience, it has not at all been uncommon that some people are drawn to this type of work because of personal experiences and I can recall many who have talked quite openly about it in professional settings and in interviews. I would not think anyone interviewing you in a criminal justice-related position would look askance at all at you if you talked about it in your interview, either using Alison’s proposed language or even something more personal and direct, if you were comfortable doing so (e.g., I don’t think anyone would have any kind of issue with you saying something like “I lost loved ones to homicide and then spent a year being involved in the prosecution and trial. It was a difficult experience but I really appreciated the victim advocates who helped me along the way and I realized this work might be a good fit for me” or “I was introduced to the concept of restorative justice when I was involved in a homicide trial and it resonated deeply with me” or “I am a survivor of homicide victims and believe the trauma of this loss is like no other, and feel deeply compelled to help other people through it”). Of course you don’t have to say anything like this but my point is I’ve heard these kinds of things from colleagues or job applicants – and even, with some folks, far more personal details about their own experiences with the criminal justice system – and it’s never looked at poorly. On the contrary; for many, an applicant with these kinds of experiences or personal connections can be a plus because their first-hand experiences can have made them uniquely empathic, capable, and credible when working in this realm. Best of luck to you and I hope you succeed in your career goals.

    1. Rogue Won*

      That’s what I was hoping to convey by mentioning it. My late parents were both involved in the legal field in a different branch of the law and I was always drawn to the criminal justice side of things, which is why I studied it. I ended up being able to serve as a “tour guide” of sorts through the process for my family. And for me, having the system that I’d studied in depth work for us was so important to my healing. But I also know that some people will be concerned about any potential bias on my part, which I was also giving them the opportunity to address by bringing it up. I really appreciate your insight and sample phrases, it helps a lot.

      1. Revengeofpompom*

        I am so glad you found some healing through the justice system. If you’d like to talk directly about this more, I’d be happy to – unfortunately I don’t think this site allows for DMs but perhaps you can contact Alison who could share my email address with you. Given your personal experiences, you may encounter people with concerns about bias if you are trying to break into defense-side work, but even then I think it’s very possible to explain how and why you got drawn to it in a way that sounds credible. If you are trying to work more on the prosecution side or in victim services, the main concern I could see folks having is whether your own trauma is resolved enough that you could, realistically, engage with others’ similar traumas day in and day out, and/or a concern that you would assume things about your clients’ experiences based on solely your own experiences – the tight line to walk when using your own life as fodder for empathy towards your clients. It’s hard to fit all this in a comment, but those are the main areas of concern I could foresee depending on what kind of job you’re applying for. I’m sure you’ll do great and I am so glad you found this work – it takes a very rare, special person to turn their own grief into compassion for others.

      2. BorisTheGrump*

        OP 2– This is similar to what a lot of other folks have already said here, but I’ll add on. I’m a legal aid attorney with an immigration focus. I hire interns and sit in on hiring committees for other staff attorneys. Lots of people tell their personal immigration stories during interviews, often including very personal or sometimes even intimate details. (Immigration stories like criminal system stories are just, necessarily, so personal.) It makes their applications SO MUCH STRONGER because it shows they really understand what’s at stake.

        Please don’t worry that sharing was somehow unprofessional. It’s common, your experience is relevant, and the hiring committee was likely impressed by you.

  32. MicroManagered*

    On #3, the advice of adding Ms. Firstname Lastname or (Ms.) Firstname Lastname in your is weird to me. It could come across like you want to be called “Ms. _____” rather than your first name, which would be super weird if it’s normal to use first names in your job. I would just add pronouns to your email signature instead.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I agree with this! Ms/Mrs feels very weird. Pronouns more normal and conveys the same info without any of the weird “this Logan is single/married” additional information.

      1. T*

        ‘Ms.’ (pronounced ‘miz’) does not convey marital status, it’s the equivalent of ‘Mr.’ – a neutral and professional gendered prefix. You may be thinking of ‘Miss’.

        1. Julian*

          A minute distinction that may not even survive an international setting. Native speakers of some languages will not hear a difference between miz or miss and therefore not distinguish when speaking themselves.

  33. Minerva*

    OP3 is an excellent example of normalizing preferred pronouns isn’t just a benefit to the trans community (though they certainly benefit the most) but a benefit to cisgender folks as well.

    I had a co-worker roll his eyes at seeing a “she/her” on a signature until I pointed out the person’s name is *Taylor* and that she probably has to correct people all the time anyway.

    Would also love it for some of my foreign co-workers where I might have a blind spot on what is a traditionally male/female name. I know I have called some associates by the wrong pronoun for MONTHS in emails because they were afraid to correct me.

  34. Valancy Snaith*

    In a military context, a correction of “It’s ma’am, but thank you/you’re welcome” is perfectly acceptable and correct. No one will take it as rude.

  35. DivergentStitches*

    #3 one thing that has helped me, since I work with a lot of folks over email who are in India (and whose names aren’t immediately recognizable as a particular gender) is when someone puts their pronouns in their email signature. Assuming that #3 OP’s pronouns are she/hers, that would solve people’s issues.

    Plus, it would help make using pronouns more widely accepted.

  36. Risha*

    LW1, I don’t have any other advice from what Alison gave. I do think talking it out with C will be a good idea. Also, I know people do vent when they’re frustrated or angry, but she really should’ve come to you first if she considered you a good friend as well. Especially if she’s aware of your personal situation. She actually went behind your back and if she didn’t send it to you by accident, another coworker would’ve read the complaint about you. That’s just wrong. I would reconsider how I feel about her and keep it friendly professional moving forward.

  37. Mrs. Jameson*

    OP3 – With the increasingly common use of including one’s pronouns in the their email signature, you could just add (she/her) next to your name. Could be an easy workaround.

  38. SeluciaMD*

    This is completely random but I love that you made LW#3’s fictitious last name “tetrazinni” because I love tetrazinni and think it’s a highly underrated dish that does not get the love and respect it deserves. In fact, it’s one of two things (the other being pot pie) that I cannot wait to make with my leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

  39. toomuch*

    LW3 – adding pronouns to your signature is becoming more and more popular. Howe about trying that?

  40. Passionflower Equine*

    You always have a right to talk about your history. I would add that you have a responsibility to consider whether another person might be negatively impacted by hearing about it and temper *how* you talk about it, which is where vague language like that suggested by Alison comes on. My work place just lost one of our employees. Naturally, people want to talk about it and process. However, the details are close to something traumatic in my own life, to the point where I have to keep asking people not to talk about it around me. You don’t know if another person at your workplace has also been impacted by a homicide and is maybe not at the place you are in processing. Please stick with the circumspect language.

    1. Rogue Won*

      I normally limit what I say to “they were murdered/died/passed about 10 years ago.” If someone has seen a documentary/found my story on their own and asks for more detail, I’m willing to provide that one-on-one because they sought me out, but I stay out of what I call “slasher film territory.” No images are public, but I don’t go into excessive detail. I will be matter-of-fact about things like the manner of death, what sentence was given, etc., but no one who wasn’t in the court room needs to know those specifics. Occasionally I get the true crime fanatic who asks invasive questions or the 2nd Amendment nut who wants to debate/argue they would have lived if they’d been armed, but I try not to engage with that.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your coworker.

      1. yno*

        I don’t think OP carries the responsibility for others’ feelings and unknown potential trauma when hearing about her own past — that is way too heavy a burden to bear when she is already clearly very careful about when and whether and how she shares!

        OP, you’re on point. It didn’t at all come across as though you were going into gratuitous detail about the homicide, and the language you’ve described is just fine. I applaud you for being true to yourself and this part of your past.

  41. Lurker With A Shoulder Chip*

    OP3 – Copywriter here! I bet your sentence makes you feel off because of the “but.” You could answer with a cheerful/neutral, “Actually, it’s ma’am! You’re very welcome.” Hop from one topic to the next without connecting them and it might feel more smooth.

  42. MurpMaureep*

    I once had a staff member whose first name was clearly masculine, but became feminine when you added a vowel to the end and whose last name was a common woman’s name. Think something like Robert(a) Katherine

    What was weird was people would frequently call him the feminine version of his first name – so Roberta instead of Robert. I could sort of see mixing up the last name and assuming it was a woman, but the first name mix up never made sense to me (or him, he said it had happened all his life).

    1. AnyNameWithAnyRightInitial*

      I have three first names and don’t even notice when someone calls me by my last name or some other name reasonably close to any of my names it happens so frequently. I’ve had people apologize for screwing it up and I have idea what they actually called me. Many people seem to have something of a mental block that causes them to screw it up or be unsure which name is the first name or use other permutations.

  43. Sunflower*

    #1. Is there a way to split up work so you’re not overlapping? My boss recently assigned me another person to assist me and I find it easier to do everything myself without them getting in my way. It’s not that I don’t like them as a person. I do. But work is so much easier alone. Perhaps this is the case with your coworker.

  44. Koala dreams*

    3. I very much prefer quick corrections in the moment and find your way of doing things rude. I have learned from experience that most people are the opposite, they think it’s more polite to make corrections later, preferably in an one-on-one meeting in person. You don’t need to change, your way of doing things is the norm. Right now, you notice the minority who complain, but you don’t notice the majority who are happy.

    Personally, I would like to work in a place where corrections in the moment is the norm. It’s quite tiring to be treated rudely, and remember to always be rude to other people. But ultimately, you can’t make everyone happy. If most people you work with are happy, isn’t that good enough?

      1. Properlike*

        I wonder if being “treated rudely” is more tiring than someone being continually misgendered/misnamed?

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I think that “in the moment” probably often is also “in front of other people”.

    1. Observer*

      I very much prefer quick corrections in the moment and find your way of doing things rude.

      Why? That’s a serious question.

      and remember to always be rude to other people

      I have to say that you have very odd concept of rudeness and politeness. I personally don’t think that correcting people in the moment is rude. But the idea of NOT correcting people is rude is kind of odd. Certainly following what makes most people in your environment comfortable really can’t be considered ride. Unless your standard of politeness has nothing to do with how your actions actually affect other people.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Yes, you get my point. You have to do what makes most people happy. You can’t change just because a few people are unhappy. Just like you wrote: “following what makes most people in your environment comfortable”

        I know I’m not, and will never be, “most people “. That’s just the way it is.

  45. WhatIsRudeness*

    Is it rude when the societal norm is praise in public, correct in private? You may not like it, but the whole concept of politeness vs rudeness is based on societal norms. That’s why the rules/norms are different in different places. Genuinely curious here…

  46. gmg22*

    OP4’s question re disclosure vs overshare is relevant to a current issue of mine — I’ve just been formally diagnosed with ADHD and have begun taking medication (this is within the past week).

    Would be interested to hear from others in this situation how you have handled this. Do you disclose to HR, since it’s an ADA-protected condition? Or do you specifically recommend NOT disclosing to HR? My personal preference at this time is not to do so, but what I would like to do is to informally, privately disclose it to my direct supervisor and my team leader. The context here is, I have had a rough year at work and came very close to leaving my job — I had given and was working through a long notice, and the only reason it didn’t happen is because all the finalists to replace me fell through and I changed my mind and offered to stay. I’m not on an official PIP or anything like that (we’re a small nonprofit), but I am definitely in what I’d call bounce-back mode and I would like these two people to be aware that this is one of the root causes of what I’ve been dealing with and what I am doing about it. Trust level with both of them is high, and if I tell them I am not ready to disclose to HR, my experience — and also that of another colleague who I know has a learning disability — is that they will respect that.

    1. Properlike*

      Congratulations! But give it some time. It could take a while to figure out the right combo of meds and habits that will help.

      I have only just this week graduated to seeing my prescribing psychiatrist once every six months. Diagnosed two years ago. But I could be on the long side of things.

    2. Avery*

      My tendency–as somebody who also has ADHD, as well as a few other health problems both mental and physical–is not to mention it unless it either a) is related to a request for accommodations or b) gives context for performance issues that otherwise might reflect poorly on you. In this case, it’d probably fall under b), though I would rather include it as part of a larger conversation about those issues rather than mention it out of the blue. (This isn’t all hypothetical either; I mentioned having ADHD to my previous boss under similar circumstances, as I thought it was relevant to the ongoing communication issues that colored so much of my time in that job.)

    3. Casta Fierce*

      Don’t make any long term plans or make any disclosures yet – you’re still in the early adjustment period and can’t know how medication (and any lifestyle or behavioral changes you choose to make) will affect you yet, like what your “new normal” will be. Like, if the meds kick in and you feel great, you wouldn’t want to say “I’ve been diagnosed so now my work will be 500% better, promise!” only to have your brain get used to the dosage and have your work slow down to only 200% better.
      After about a month or so you can do a gut check and see how you feel about things then.

      I say this from personal experience with ADHD and ADHD meds :)

  47. Meep*

    OP#3 – I feel you. My first name is unisex (though mostly more female these days) and my last name is a popular older male name. As a result, I get many men and foreigners automatically assuming I am male. I stopped correcting them because it wasn’t worth it. As a result, I never guess the gender of someone I have never met over email. Not unless they provide pronouns. It is honestly the way it should be!

    You can also add she/her pronouns in your signature or a profile picture on your email may also help if you feel comfortable. Otherwise, it is on them.

  48. Panda (she/her)*

    OP3 – this is also anther benefit of putting pronouns in email signatures. It’s not just useful for trans people :)

  49. Ellie Rose*

    I have also accidentally received a message complaining about me, and I second Allison’s recommendation.

    They said something like “Ugh, Ellie still isn’t done making the Llama grooming kit. This sucks” This was my first time doing the task, a few months into my first job after college, and they had to do the next step.

    I responded with something like, “This is Ellie; I think you messaged me by accident. My ETA is this Friday, but I’m still getting used to the process and waiting on the last piece from the team. Did you have another concern we should talk about?”

    They apologized for their tone and explained that they were originally going to have time between two projects, but the delays with my team meant they would overlap, and that was frustrating to them but they didn’t truly blame me since the delay was unavoidable.

    The context made it easier to move on and later turned it into a funny story.

  50. ummm what*

    LW1 I hope you’re feeling better now! However not to kick you when you’re already down but I sincerely hope that whatever laid you up wasn’t contagious because I’d be FURIOUS if my coworker returned to work early while still ill with a communicable disease.

    (I sympathize if you ran out of PTO/sick days but if this coworker is at the BEC stage with you, worrying about catching something from you won’t earn you any points)

    1. Sar*

      Thank you! Fortunately my employer is incredibly flexible so while I have returned to working I haven’t been back to the office yet. Which to be honest made the message harder to not ruminate over as I was home alone.

      Agree though, when people martyr themselves by coming to the office while still clearly spreading bugs it works my nerve.

  51. Caleb*

    LW #3, I so highly recommend putting your pronouns in your email signature. It tells people exactly how to refer to you with the added bonus of making it easier for transgender people you work with to include theirs (assuming you’re cis: when cis people put their pronouns in their email signature, it makes trans people stand out less for including ours). For example, my email signature looks like this (using fake surname and job title):

    Caleb Smith
    Llama Coordinator, Llamas International
    Pronouns: They/Them

  52. ECBeace*

    LW3- putting your pronouns into signatures is more and more common. If you use she/her, just put it in parentheses immediately behind your name.

  53. Observer*

    #4 – Therapy.

    I agree with Alison – You are WAY overthinking this. As others have noted, it may actually be possible for you to find something that doesn’t require you to be out of the office during normal work hours. But if not, again, as others have noted, mentioning a standing appointment doesn’t necessarily lead to mental health stuff.

    So, think about what you really want to accomplish here. From what you say it doesn’t sound like there is any good reason at this point to share anything specific. With some teams it might make sense to share some information, but you don’t seem to have a good sense of how they are likely to react so there is unfortunately some risk there. On the other hand, if they are reasonable people, even if you need to come in late or leave early once a week, you don’t need to explain much in order to inform them that you’re going to have to take this time, but you’ll make the work up on other days. You don’t need an accommodation, formal or informal, so there really isn’t any information that would be useful at this point.

    And, this is a decision you can always change. At any point if you conclude that it’s better that your manager should know the full story you can go ahead and tell them. But at this point, I don’t see any point.

  54. yirna*

    OP3, my workplace recently added optional pronouns to our email signature. It’s actually catching on pretty well, and avoids the whole “my marital status is nobody’s business” aspect of Ms/Miss/Mrs.

    Logan Tetrazzini (she/her)
    Teapot Trainer, Online Education Branch
    ABC123 Learning, Inc
    Phone: 123-456-7890 Email: lt@abc123.com

  55. Flowers*

    OP #1 I feel for you. I went through something similar many years ago where she sent me a message calling me the B-word; we were peers, it stung, I had considered her a work friend. I wish I had handled it differently then. Alison gave good advice – good luck.

  56. Anita, Darling*

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think your response correcting it to “Ma’am” is rude. If accompanied by an emoji or explanation or other softening expression, it’s definitely perfectly fine.

    I think the instructor was not right to be so vehement, though I understand them feeling embarrassed, but there are also people who get really offended or touchy if you get their gender wrong, so I would understand their embarrassment if you didn’t correct them AND were offended, which you weren’t.

    But I do think it’s best to preemptively establish you gender earlier rather than later.

  57. Buttercup (AKA Dylan)*

    LW3, as a woman named Dylan, I got such deja vu reading your letter, because (aside from being freaked out on), we’ve had the exact same experience of how our names get gendered! That instructor is an out-of-line jerk and not worth your time worrying about.

  58. Casta Fierce*

    LW2, your experience is highly relevant to your job search, so I think it’s appropriate. You have one of the most compelling reasons to be in this field that I can think of! If you were interviewing to be a head chef or vet tech or horse trainer or something, it would be strange. But this is a pretty natural place to bring it up. As long as you aren’t getting graphic or having breakdowns in peoples’ offices (and I doubt you are), I think you’re fine.

    I’m sorry for your loss. Giving back to the criminal justice system is a beautiful way to honor your parents’ memories.

  59. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    LW #4 – To ease your mind–my boss has weekly appointments at a weight loss clinic. I have two per week for mental health appointments and post-cancer supervised exercise. One coworker has them for physical therapy, and the other coworker has them for their kid’s allergy shots.

    LW #5 – Also to ease your mind, we verbally offered an internal hire and were not able to get the paperwork through for nearly a month. Often internal moves are given less precedent (at least in my org) because they are easier–you aren’t going to lose a candidate when they already work there like you might with an external hire.

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