my coworker thinks I need to calm down when I don’t, can’t give two weeks notice, and more

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

1. My coworker misreads me and tries to calm me when I’m fine

I am emotional, expressive, and passionate. Think a “movie-typical Italian” telling a story. Nothing wild, just a loud voice, expressive face, etc. In my 9-5 job, this is required. I over-emote all day long to support the people around me. It is what makes me good at this job.

However, in my after-hours second job, I have a coworker who constantly is offended by my expression. She will see an expression on my face and jump to emotionally coaching me off the ledge — “deep breath, it’s okay, we’ll figure it out” — and I’m … fine. I find it frustrating that I have to mute my personality with her or be publicly talked down when nothing is wrong. To note, no one else responds the way that she does or feels I’m overreacting at all, I’ve checked. I know this is her problem, not mine, but the constant correction and public redressing is frustrating. Can you offer some words I can share with her to professionally tell her to back off?

“You keep saying that to me when nothing is wrong. Please trust that you are misreading me and I don’t need to be talked down.”

And then if it happens after that: “This is what I asked you to stop doing. It’s really weird that you keep trying to talk me down when nothing is wrong.”

my coworker misinterprets all my facial expressions

2. I can’t give two weeks notice when I quit

For the past five months, I have been working at a job that I can’t stand. The day-to-day functions are what was expected, but I’m working under the worst boss I have ever reported to. He’s a micromanager, loves to publicly shame under the guise of “transparency,” and every day I wake up to 40 urgent messages he sent during the night. In addition, the company changed their policy from two days a week in-office to four right after I started, and I probably wouldn’t have taken the job if I had known that. I could go on about why I wanted to leave, but it really boils down to how horribly it has affected my mental health.

But I recently accepted a new job! This job has a hard start date. I am waiting for my background check and drug test to come back, but I know how long those can take. I don’t want to give notice until everything at my new job is finalized, but that doesn’t leave me enough time to give a full two weeks, probably only one week. I of course want to put my full two weeks in, but my new job isn’t flexible on the start date. This job has caused me insurmountable anxiety and stress, but I feel guilty for not giving the corporate standard notice. As I haven’t been here that long, do you think this will follow me through my professional career? I don’t even know if I plan to keep this job on my resume in the future but the idea of quitting a job this soon is freaking me out and not giving a full two weeks is making it even worse!

You’ll be fine. Often when you haven’t been in a job that long, there’s not a lot of point for the employer in having you work the full two weeks anyway — but even if they want you to, you can say, “I’m so sorry, but I asked and unfortunately there’s no flexibility on my start date. I’ll of course use my remaining time to document everything and leave things in good shape.” This isn’t ideal, but with the sort of job and boss you described, it’s nothing you should feel guilty about — and again, your short tenure means they may not even care.

That said, while this doesn’t apply in your case, generally you can and should push back when a new job tries to insist you start without enough time to give two weeks notice. In most situations it’s reasonable to say, “I need to give two weeks notice at my current job, just like I would do for you. As soon as you clear my background check and drug test — neither of which I expect to pose any problems — I’ll give my notice here and can start two weeks after that, but I don’t feel right leaving without proper notice to them.” (There are rare situations this legitimately can’t happen, but they’re extremely uncommon exceptions to the rule.)

3. Shouldn’t job applicants visit our studio before applying?

I’m looking for perspective on what importance to apply to whether or not a job applicant has ever interacted with my small business.

I own a yoga studio where anyone can come take a class (for a fee ranging from free to less than $20). Our website and our limited social media presence both convey that in-person interaction is a core tenet of the studio’s culture. For example, we do not offer online classes.

The vast majority of job applicants—whether prospective yoga teachers or front of house staff—have never taken a class or come to the studio in person. I am A) befuddled by local applicants who initiate interest but have never visited, and B) downright skeptical of those who gush enthusiasm (“I love your studio and it’s exactly the type of environment I thrive in!!!”)… but have never walked through the doors.

To me, it feels like applying for a job at a restaurant because of how much you love the menu posted online … but in reality, you’ve never even tasted a bite of their cooking. It also seems like such a missed opportunity for the applicant to do their own due-diligence to find out if we really are who we say we are! Should I mention this in some way in our standing job posting? Or is my expectation skewed here?

It’s not a realistic expectation. Your applicants are presumably applying for dozens, even hundreds, of jobs and won’t hear back from a large portion of them. It’s unreasonable to expect they would visit each place in person before applying. There’s a tendency on your side of this equation to think, “But we’re different — our business is so personal and the environment matters so much, and our online presence makes it clear how essential in-person interaction is to our culture” … but that’s something you do for your customers; it’s not something you should expect of your job applicants. Candidates should indeed do due diligence, but generally not until they’re in your interview process; doing it at the application stage would be a waste of time for most people, since only a small handful of them will be moved forward. (And job applicants tend to be acutely aware of that.)

Certainly if someone talks as if they have firsthand knowledge of your studio when you know they don’t, that’s just puffery and can be ignored (although I’m not sure how you’d know that for certain). But it’s also pretty common puffery for the context. Choose not to be swayed by it, yes, but it’s not something to penalize someone over unless it’s truly over-the-top or inaccurate.

4. How can I set boundaries in my volunteer job?

Less than six months ago I started volunteering with a nonprofit. Due to some staffing struggles for the organization, plus my interest in potentially moving into their field full-time, I’ve taken on a lot more time commitment and scope of work than what I initially signed up for.

As they rebuild and bring new people on, some of those people are now looking to me as they get their feet under them. Near daily meeting requests, onboarding and more. Essentially I now have a part-time internship in addition to my (demanding) full-time job.

Some of this is fine, as I’m gaining a lot of valuable experience and I was willing to take on a pretty heavy lift for this org. while we were in recovery mode because I care about their mission. However, I’m struggling to integrate acknowledgement of my serious time limitations into my (frequent) daily communication.

I’m approaching six months of doing this work and while we’re getting back on our feet, it’s taking a while. I need to start regularly asserting that while I am happy doing far more than a regular volunteer would, my capacity is limited and I need to start pumping the brakes. I’ve mentioned this need in passing, but the requests just keep on coming, hence my thought that I need to start reframing the way I interact with the org as one of taking on specific projects, not handling regular admin.

Talk to whoever’s in charge and say this: “I’m finding new people are turning to me for a lot more than I have time for — things like XYZ and near daily meeting requests. I can take on specific projects like ABC but I can’t handle the regular admin. Can you make sure people know that?”

And then as you continue to get requests outside the limits you’ve set: “I don’t handle that sort of thing. I’m a volunteer and only do ABC. Check with Jane.” You’re actually doing people a favor by spelling this out clearly! If you try to be accommodating and help out, you’re preventing them from figuring out what structures actually will work for them longer-term. Being clear about your limits is a service not only to yourself, but to the organization too.

5. Found an amazing internship … but I already graduated college

I graduated college a year ago and have been working in a field related to my degree (engineering) ever since. However, I am also a self-taught photographer with years of experience (taking photos for fun, and doing paid gigs). Although I enjoy my job and would like to keep working in my field, I am truly passionate about photography. It is more than just snapping a shutter for me, and I love studying lighting, perfectly composing a photo, editing, and knowing that I just nailed a shot … so I am open to switching my career to photography one day if the income/opportunity/timing is right.

In addition to my day job, I am always on the lookout for photography-related side gigs like grad photos, engagements, and family portraits. Recently, I found a job posting to be a part-time photography intern at a nearby professional sports team. I would love to apply for this position, as I am not overly experienced in sports photography and would love the chance to break into this part of the industry, but am unsure if it is acceptable to apply for an internship when not in college (and when I did not study photography in college). Note that the job description does mention that candidates should be in a degree seeking program in a related field.

My engineering job has slightly atypical hours, so I am not overly concerned that this would interfere with my current job. I think this internship would be a great experience, and could open doors for me in the future. Since this position mentions being in college currently, is it even worth applying for?

Typically when internships say that applicants should be enrolled in a degree-seeking program in a related field, it’s because the internship is for college credit and/or it’s to help ensure the employer complies with legal requirements for internships. There are internships where that’s not the case, but when it’s listed as a requirement in the ad they generally mean it. (That said, if it’s a paid internship, it won’t be subject to the same legal requirements and they might have the ability to be more flexible.)

You could always apply and see, or even just email them to ask.

{ 452 comments… read them below }

  1. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – do try pushing back to say that you want to give 2 weeks notice once your references and background checks are completed, because that’s professional and the new company would expect the same from you.

    If they won’t accommodate this reasonable request, I think it is a yellow flag and would be concerned about whether this new employer is going to a vast improvement on your current one.

    That said, considering how bad your current situation is, I wouldn’t push back extremely hard, if you feel you would lose the offer over it. Your career isn’t going to suffer in the longterm over this. Just be sure the company, role, and offer are worth it, and that you’ll feel like you can really stay for a couple of years.

    1. John Smith*

      I wouldn’t necessarily take a hard start date by itself as a warning flag. There may well be legitimate reasons for having one. Also, I thought the US’s At Will employment situation would make walking out of the current role OK (especially given the manager’s behaviour which *could* be grounds for constructive dismissal in the UK). Well done to LW for refusing to take the manager’s crap and for escaping.

      1. Presea*

        OP2 could indeed legally leave with zero notice in the vast majority of employment situations in the US, but that’s not the same as it being consequence free. It can still impact your reputation and relationships etc to leave without adequate notice. I don’t think OP2 necessarily has a ton to worry about based on what’s written here, this boss is unlikely to react well no matter what, but it is still worth taking into account

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s legal but it would likely hurt her reference at that job, which she may need in future. Plus, it’s just not considered very professional behavior. It’s something interns or entry level people do without a lot of consequence but not so much above that (at least in salaried jobs, I can’t speak to all industries).

          1. I should really pick a name*

            It’s probably not worth putting a 5-month job on your resume anyway.

            1. Sloanicota*

              True, and given the rest of the discussion that OP may prefer to quit without notice, I think that’s fair. We all get to break the rules at least once in our careers honestly.

        2. Miette*

          I want to add a bit of perspective, though. IMO the consequences–if any, which I doubt–will be minimal long term. I was in a similar situation to OP’s (worked at a job I was miserable in, for about 5 months), and simply left it off all future resumes. I was in subsequent jobs for several years each, and if anyone noticed anything, they never asked.

          “But what about the gap…” I list years of service on the resume, not months – next question. And it didn’t span a calendar year, but if it did, there’s so much in flux in employment these post-pandemic days, no one would bat an eye if OP used that to justify a pretty brief employment gap.

          So I’d advise OP to regard this as the blip it will quickly turn out to be, and delete it from their LinkedIn as soon as possible as well.

          1. MassMatt*

            In addition, OP already has a job getting her out of the current awful job. For most employers, the most recent job is the one they check into, for others they check dates of employment only. If OP already got past this job it’s less and less likely to be an issue moving forward.

            I am really curious though if OP was serious about getting waking up to 40 urgent messages left overnight or was exaggerating. I mean, FIVE is excessive unless there’s been a fire or something, TEN is nutty. Forty? I can’t even!

      2. LR*

        The US doesn’t equivalent of constructive dismissal would only matter if OP were trying to collect unemployment. In 99% of jobs you can legally leave at any time. It’s still considered very poor form not to give two weeks notice.

        A hard start date is one thing but a hard start date that doesn’t allow for two weeks notice in a place where that is incredibly standard is another. There are honestly very few legitimate situations where a brand new, untrained person starting five business days later would be detrimental to the business. I’ve heard a lot of scenarios where it was “absolutely urgent” and none has ever been convincing.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I work for a large company and they set your start date based on when the new onboarding training is set. So a hard start date could very well be because that’s when the training starts. Yes, OP could push back, but what that would do is push back OP’s start date to the next training cohort, which could be 3-4 weeks away. And that could affect OPs pay in a negative way, with a week or two with no money coming in. So it’s worth OP looking into, but that could very well be the answer.

          1. Sorrischian*

            That’s how my company is too – New Employee Onboarding happens once a month. I actually chose a later start date when I was hired, because I was in a new city and needed time to move, but someone whose budget can’t easily absorb a few weeks with no pay might not have that same flexibility

          2. Lyngend (Canada)*

            This, at 2 of my jobs the starting date was not negotiable because that’s when you started the training “classes” to prepare you for the job. The first, I could have started on the next month. But at my current job, that wasn’t an option since there still isn’t a new scheduled training class for my location. Luckily they timed everything so I was able to give just over 2 weeks notice. But if I couldn’t have, I would have apologized, but given what notice I could.
            the one job that I only gave a week notice, tried to tell me that I couldn’t quit without 2 weeks notice. On my last shift. I started 3 days later at a different job, to increase the time between starting and a prescheduled week off. I still think it was the right decision.

          3. LR*

            So do I. It’s irrelevant.

            If a company chooses to implement a system where you can only onboard every two weeks (or whatever interval), that’s a choice. They need to take responsibility for the consequences of that choice, which is that some people might not be able to onboard as soon as they want to. The answer is not “ New employees are forced to burn bridges at their companies to accommodate our poorly planned policies.” If a company acts like it is the job of employees to absorb the inconvenience that they create in their own hiring system, that’s a red flag.

            This doesn’t affect OP’s income in any way. When OP has a start date, they can give two weeks notice exactly two weeks before that start date. They’re not obligated to give a month’s notice just because they have a month until their start day.

          4. MassMatt*

            I was going to say this. Yes, some companies are unreasonably rigid on start dates. But an employer might have extensive training for new employees and it’s most cost effective to do it en masse every quarter.

            Academic institutions also have hard start dates for many roles, and there are many other careers where it’s pretty standard. Sometimes the ship, literally or figuratively, sails by a certain date.

            But if the company is just being rigid about start dates for no reason and not respecting the need to give notice at the former employer, they don’t deserve the courtesy of a longer notice period when you leave. Sower, meat reaper.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Also, if the company really truly needed you to start ASAP for a great reason, *they* should consider waiving or expediting some of their background processes or whatever. Don’t make it OP’s problem that you require lengthy checks that take an unknown amount of time.

          1. Saberise*

            That can be very risking for the person being hired. My daughter got offered her dream job at a major airline. The background check was taking forever and HR wanted her to go ahead and give her notice at her old job so she would be ready to start as soon as the check came though. But it was with the understanding that they would still withdrawal the offer if anything came up. While she didn’t think there would be any issues she was not willing to take the chance of not having a job. Her new boss actually was not happy when she found out HR was telling her to do that and totally agreed she should wait.

            1. Sloanicota*

              Yeah no that is crap on their part and not what I meant. They should have made a non-contingent offer – meaning if the background check was an issue, she still had a job – if they wanted her to start ASAP.

              1. Willow Pillow*

                I actually saw that happen – someone was hired in my heavy-on-confidential-data industry and her background check was delayed for at least a month (I’m not sure why). It turns out she had a criminal record and she had to be let go. Given how common a 3-month (or even 6-month) probation period is, though, it’s a contingent offer regardless.

                1. Sloanicota*

                  Yeah I mean you could always be fired shortly after being hired in the US. At least you’d presumably be eligible for unemployment.

            2. MassMatt*

              Right, OP is being smart not jumping to give notice before getting the final offer in hand. We’ve seen many posts here from people that quit prematurely only to have “sure thing” offers pulled or delayed.

        3. Sal*

          I’ve worked places with hard start dates that were nonsensical, but moving into a teaching job from a non-teaching job would seem to fit here, for instance: need to wait on security/drug tests to clear (whereas established teachers would already have the necessary clearances, e.g.), but there is a hard start date (i.e. when inservice starts or the kids show up).

          1. Lozi*

            That’s exactly what I thought – most things in education would require those, and would have a firm starting date. I don’t think it’s as rare as Alison said. Pushing back on a start date in those cases would be a bad professional move, and really just be shooting yourself in the foot.

        4. Random Bystander*

          I had worked for a company which had all new hires starting in either January or July. There were mandatory on-boarding things that had to be completed regardless of what role one was going to have (health care–clinical, office, support–all in these on-boarding classes). So, pushing on a hard start date could end up meaning either not having the job at all or having to wait as much as 6 months for the next on-boarding.

        5. Orora*

          The U.S. does recognize constructive dismissal but only in terms of protected class (race, gender, nationality, etc.) If your boss makes your work life so terrible because of your protected status that your only recourse is to quit, that would be constructive dismissal.

      3. Rainy*

        It’s worth remembering that At Will employment laws are meant to be for the benefit of the employer, not the employee. Your employer could can you at any time for any reason or no reason at all (if they explicitly name things like membership in a protected class obviously they’re opening themselves up to problems), but if you leave without two week’s notice many employers regard it as illegal behaviour on your part, you “breaking the social contract”, being “disrespectful”, or “betrayal”. Note the heavy duty scare quotes, there–of course you should be able to leave on no notice if they can fire you on no notice, but in practice a lot of this employment law is written like it goes both ways but treated as rules for thee but not for me by employers.

        Legal protection is also not even remotely the same as reputation protection.

      4. DivineMissL*

        My last job’s employee manual (US) said if you wanted to leave “in good standing” I had to give 15 calendar days’ notice. I gave 16 days’ notice just to be safe; someday someone may call to verify my employment and I want it to be “in good standing”.

    2. Snow Globe*

      I would generally agree that a company that expects people to start without giving the standard notice at their current job, without a really good reason, is a company that probably has other issues. That is an indication that they aren’t very considerate or understanding of needs other than the company’s needs, and that will come out in other ways.

    3. KatEnigma*

      Yeah. I’ve had jobs that tried to get me to leave on less than 2 weeks notice. I’ve pushed back every time. Basically using Alison’s script.

    4. No creative name yet*

      Yeah, based on past experience I wouldn’t quit my current job until the background check came through. Once a job was pushing for a close start date but ended up taking two more months to complete the background check and had to keep moving out the start date. If I had quit based on the original timeline I would have been unemployed for that time. It ended up being a dysfunctional place so it’s quite possible that was a yellow/red flag.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If there’s truly a valid reason (which I feel like there is, from the letter, and that OP knows and accepts why that is) it’s probably going to look really out of touch to ask that.

      The only real answer if wanting to give 2 weeks is quit and fill in the gap with temp work etc, imo.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Alison doesn’t specify, but there are cases – especially related to government contracting or grants – where the hiring organization absolutely must have a certain headcount on Day X, or else they lose the money.

      It’s not the organization’s fault, it’s the customer’s fault. And the US government can be a very prickly customer. The red flag goes to the federal procurement system, not to OPs new job.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Agree, this is very common. Fed is very much hurry up and wait and then OMG OMG full speed ahead!

        *goes back to SAM dot gov to wait for expected opportunity to drop….*

    7. Eldritch Office Worker*

      There’s really no need to make an issue out of this for a five-month gig you’re miserable at. I’d even say it’s better to start your new job on the right foot and hit their preferred start date.

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      It sounds like OP#2 doesn’t WANT to give two weeks notice-she wants to be out of there and on to the new job. She just feels guilty about it. So I wouldn’t encourage her to push back about the quick start date. Yes, it a minor yellow flag, but it sounds like OP knows the reason and just didn’t share it with us. And she doesn’t much to owe a horrible job she’s been at for only five months/

    9. Avril Ludgateaux*

      I think it’s going a bit far to call this a yellow flag. They may be trying to coordinate OP’s start right around their predecessor’s departure to minimize the interruption of critical workflow. I can think of numerous roles – from teaching to airline pilot to medicine – where it’s not as simple as “just have somebody else fill in for an extra week.”

      In a broader sense, I also want us all to pause for a minute and think about what exactly we are communicating when we tell people they must stay in a toxic, borderline abusive environment longer than absolutely necessary, because of “professional courtesy” or “social convention”. It’s along the same line of thinking as telling girls to always “be nice so you don’t hurt a boy’s feelings,” which has led to grown men being unable to tolerate or accept polite nor direct rejection from women. I’m not trying to be a contrarian; since the onset of the pandemic and all the more “the Great Resignation,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our relationship with work and one topic of interest has been how we, en masse and as individuals, reward and, importantly, reinforce poor social behavior by making it consequence-free for the misbehaving party, framing it as the responsibility of the maligned party to navigate, and how this has transformed our ‘rules of engagement’ in so many contexts.

      Maybe, more than OP needs a reference – which probably would be a bad reference, anyway, given what they’ve written – the employer needs to learn how to manage/generally treat people, and OP needs to get out. They’re not quitting on the spot, they’re still giving a week. And in their shoes, I’d personally be more concerned about alienating my saving grace employer-to-be than the one I’ve spent not even half a year being wholly miserable at.

      And on the note of references I may be biased because in my experience, references don’t count for nearly as much as I’d like to think they do. By the time you’re at the “checking references” stage, the job is pretty locked down and only a truly egregious accusation by a former employer, like “this person was engaged in embezzlement and arson to cover up the embezzlement,” will make a difference. Most of the time, they’re not along the lines of a recommendation, just a “yes so-and-so did work here from start date to end date.” Referrals are another matter, but I somehow doubt OP will be going back to this employer for any networking.

      1. I Match Energy*

        Thank goodness someone finally said this!!!

        If you can/want to give an employer two weeks’ notice, presumably to allow for the handoff of projects, etc., you do you, especially if they’ve treated you well.

        If they haven’t, and for whatever reason you can’t give them two weeks, or, if you can’t tolerate even one more minute at toxic job, leave!

        I’m a late career individual who, after spending three tears being shuffled around at a state agency, returned from medical leave to a new manager with a HUGE ego problem, and job duties that I had no interest in. When I pushed back ever-so-slightly, huge ego manager couldn’t handle it, and sent me a list of “tasks”, all with deadlines, and required me to submit a daily status report. This was on my first day back.

        Up until then I had had great performance reviews, significant recent salary action, and I was generally considered a “go to” person. I was actually miserable, but I liked my previous manager (plus the medical leave was imminent), so I had planned to stay. But after dealing with huge ego manager, I knew staying for two weeks would do far more harm than help. So I walked.

        This person doesn’t even sound like they need the reference – they have a new job already lined up.

        I’m not worried about burning bridges. If a job is so toxic that you can’t bear to be there – burn baby burn. The fire will light the path forward.

      2. Somniloquist*

        THANK YOU for saying this! I am a bit surprised at the comments. Honestly, I think the OP should just quit on the spot and get 2 weeks of funemployment to reset mentally before the new job.

        There has been a large shift during the pandemic and a lot of people (including me) are just not interested in enabling abusive workplace behavior. Especially for a company you’ve worked at for 5 months, and probably won’t put in your resume. It’s not the end of the world to not give 2 weeks and it won’t follow them unless it’s a super small industry and a niche position.

      3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I agree there are reasons for a hard start date that do not indicate any negative for the new employer. I’m in an arts field…if 2 weeks notice means a show is already one stop into a tour, I will just hire another person for the gig.

        But I don’t think it is wrong to encourage LW1 to give 2 weeks notice, if possible. It’s not just for their boss or the employer, but for their co-workers and for their general reputation. Even at a job LW1 is completely miserable at, they may cross paths with someone they worked with from there and it is perfectly reasonable for LW1 to want and try an adhere to standard professional protocol as much as possible.

        Note the “as possible”. If the Boss becomes worse once LW1 gives notice (be it 1 week or 2), LW1 can simply say “Under these circumstances, I have decided it is best if today is my last day” and bounce at any point in their notice period.

      4. Maisy Daisy*

        I took a job through a third party contractor that was suppose to be temp to permanent after 2-3 months. It never turned permanent and I was there for a miserable 14 months while continuing my job search. I had no health benefits and ACA coverage was expensive due to my income and age. I had no paid time off -no vacation leave and unpaid holidays. (I asked the third party contractor for paid leave several times but it fell on deaf ears.) I was treated as a second class worker in many ways. I had already been told that I would not be needed after the end of the year but I landed a new job just after Thanksgiving. As soon as I had the e-mail confirming the new job, I gave the manager notice that I was leaving that day. I expected to be walked out immediately but the manager, director, and third party contractor spent the rest of the day trying to convince me to stay. I felt like I was walking on air when I left at quitting time.

    10. Essess*

      I had a company do this to me… they were dragging their feet on the drug/background test results which my offer was contingent upon. And when I pushed them saying that I needed to be able to give 2 weeks they actually got a little weird and starting demanding to know why I thought that I wouldn’t pass the checks so that I was unwilling to put my 2-weeks notice in now while waiting. It was really off-putting the way that the HR person was insinuating that I was hiding something if I wasn’t willing to just trust that everything would be fine in the check.

      I knew I’d pass them personally, but I’ve had friends lose apartment offers and other offers due to mistakes in names/ssn/birthdates so their background checks brought back false information about criminal behavior of people with similar names/birthdates so I was a little paranoid about quitting my job until I knew the checks were done correctly. I ended up being forced to put in my 2-weeks before the checks were completed and thankfully it all worked out. They didn’t explain the reason for the pressure at the time, but it turns out they have intermittent group onboarding of structured 3-week trainings so they needed me to start on a day that a training session was scheduled to start. They only had the trainings a few times a year which was the reason for the inflexibility.

      1. AntsOnMyTable*

        I just got hired as a clinical instructor for nursing school and most of us that do that have another full time job. I had to wait for background and drug screening test before they would make an offer. But once that came in they emailed me and wanted me to accept the job within 24 hrs and then come in with paperwork within 2 business days. It is frustrating because if you, as an employer, are the one requiring this process that can take an unknown time you shouldn’t turn around and require everything then to be done within a tight window once it comes through.

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, if they haven’t already asked then I think they should do so at least once.

      I don’t think OP needs to feel bad at all about only giving their current job one week notice if that’s all they can make work. But imo the company you are switching to needs to either 1) let you set your start date based on giving two weeks notice, 2) do absolutely everything they can to expedite things on their end such that they are able to be finished with the background check and drug test two weeks before their hard start date, or at the very minimum 3) acknowledge that they are asking a lot of you and assure you that this is not normal for them and be extremely apologetic.

      If they are not doing any of the above I would find that mildly concerning.

    12. There You Are*

      I’ve had jobs with hard start dates, and those dates were usually because of conferences and training.

      As in, there’s a week-long seminar that’s held once a year for certification in something critical to the role and my start dated needed to be no later than the Friday before, so HR could get me processed into the system and I could be on a plane Sunday afternoon.

      So, zero wiggle room on the start date isn’t necessarily any kind of flag.

  2. AcademiaNut*

    For LW#3 – if you look at the details of your restaurant analogy, someone applying for not very highly paying restaurant jobs is not going to be spending $30 or more for a meal at every restaurant they apply for. The would likely look at the restaurant Facebook to find out where it is and what it serves, but not more than that, because it’s too much of an investment in time and money for an application. It’s also my understanding that yoga teachers typically teach at multiple studios to get enough classes to make a living, so it’s even more unrealistic in this case.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      I have taught group exercise, including some yoga, for over 20 years. LW3 probably does have a beautiful and unique studio, but at a certain point, the difference between studios is not that salient to instructors. My class is generally my class regardless of where I’m teaching.

      I also would fully expect to come in and audition and interview and tour the place and meet people, and then I would make decisions based on that information. You don’t get that information as a student; you only get it as an instructor. I also would make a range of decisions based on the information (like, there are places where I would realize I don’t want to teach regularly, but I’m willing to sub), much of which I wouldn’t learn based on taking class, but I would learn it based on interviewing and asking my own questions.

      Also, if I was looking to pick up classes, I would be applying at several places, and it’s unrealistic to expect me to pay guest fees at every gym in town to pick up two new classes. One of the reasons I teach group ex is so that I don’t have to pay for a gym membership!

      1. allathian*

        Now here’s an example of how someone running a studio has completely unrealistic expectations of their potential instructors. Some of my favorite comments are like this one, when someone working in the same field as the LW has some great pointers to give.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Yes, particularly your last paragraph; if there’s more than one workplace to apply for, it’s ridiculous to try them all. I mean it would be convenient if the applicants had already pre screened the OP’s studio as The One Place They Really Want To Work, but even an applicant who has is more likely to have done so through chance, than it being a sign of suitability. Also, if OP hasn’t yet screened who they want on their side of the equation, why would the applicants on theirs? This is what the interview process is for on both sides.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Yes. These are people applying for work. Expecting them to fork over money to take a class before they even apply for a job they might not get is unrealistic. It’s basically charging them to apply.

          LW I’m sure you have a lovely studio, but no one is paying to apply to work there.

          1. Empress Matilda*

            LW says some of the classes are free, so there isn’t necessarily a financial cost to apply. But even so, there’s still a time and opportunity cost to attend a “free” class. Most yoga classes last an hour, not including the time to get to the studio, get changed afterwards, etc. That may be time that an applicant can’t afford – if they’re working elsewhere, or they have childcare responsibilities, or if the studio is all the way across the city, or who knows.

            I’m sure most of them would be happy to invest that time as part of the interview process, but it’s a lot to ask of someone who’s just emailing an application. If you were hiring for office jobs, you wouldn’t ask someone to do unpaid work for two hours just to send in a resume – or rather, you might, but it would be an extremely bad idea, and you’d lose a lot of good applicants that way.

            To be clear, I’m agreeing with EPLawyer here! Just I’m anticipating someone latching on to the point about paying for classes/ paying to apply, and saying it’s not true because there’s no money involved. “No money” doesn’t mean “free” – there’s always a cost of some sort.

            1. a clockwork lemon*

              I don’t think anyone needs a reason not to sign up to take a class from someone else at a studio where they’re applying to teach their own classes. “I don’t feel like doing extra work for a job application” is itself a sufficient reason.

              If LW wants her instructors to have also been her students, she should offer training and certification courses to them.

            2. Dena*

              Wouldn’t it seem a bit awkward to do a class then show up shortly after to interview? I’m just thinking the dynamic gets a bit odd, if an instructor recognizes you or is actually conducting the interview. I imagine then the discussion gets focused on how the applicant liked the class, and maybe a weird vibe of them having been ‘undercover’.

              1. GammaGirl1908*

                It actually happens all the time that I’ll be teaching and a new person will tell me afterward that they also are an instructor. Not that big a deal (and I often have guessed by that point anyway). It’s normal and encouraged to participate in other classes at a place where you work, whether it’s to get your own workout, to support a friend, to take a class you are going to sub, to get some fresh ideas, to try a different class format, or whatever.

                It’s not seen as spying or anything weird or underhanded; it’s more like networking, heh. In fact, it is seen as a good thing to be the teacher whose class other teachers like to take.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Not to mention, you don’t want people deciding that your studio is The One Place They Really Want To Work before even applying. You want applicants who will respect a “no”, will not freak out if the timeline gets pushed back, doesn’t show up in person demanding an interview, etc. Job seekers with reasonable boundaries and expectations is best for hiring managers, too.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        And isn’t the main thing you learn from taking a class what the instructor is like? Which, as an incoming instructor, would be especially irrelevant to you??

      4. ferrina*

        I also would fully expect to come in and audition and interview and tour the place and meet people, and then I would make decisions based on that information.

        Exactly! At first I thought that OP was going to say people were accepting jobs without actually going to the site, which would be weird. But just applying? I can’t invest several hours to get to the location, take a class, and get a vibe check before I apply somewhere. That’s part of the interview process once we make sure that there’s a match on paper.

        OP’s logic turns even sillier if you flip it around- does OP go and take a class from each applicant before they decide to bring them to a studio for an interview? “But that would mean I have to go to dozens of places!” Yes. And job applicants are applying to dozens of places.

      5. MassMatt*

        True, but IMO if an applicant gushes about how great your studio is while never having been there it does beg for your follow up questions about what they like about it.

        “I love the fact that you are hiring” may be the most honest answer but probably won’t be the one that lands the job.

        1. Orora*

          That’s why you answer: “From what I see on your website, you offer yoga for larger bodies, which is a field I’m passionate about” or whatever interests you besides a paycheck. Usually you can come up with something. Just because you don’t go to class doesn’t mean you don’t do some research.

      6. Underrated Pear*

        “I also would fully expect to come in and audition and interview and tour the place and meet people, and then I would make decisions based on that information. You don’t get that information as a student; you only get it as an instructor.”

        The whole comment is spot-on, but I wanted to highlight this point. Even setting aside the unrealistic cost/time, I don’t actually see the *point* in what the LW is suggesting. Visiting a place as a customer gives very little insight as to what it would be like to work there.

      7. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

        It seems like LW wants someone who is into the community she is growing. That would be a hard pass for me. I have found that mixing my non-work community with work is a bad idea.

    2. amoeba*

      I mean, I definitely know studios that only hire teachers whom they already know from being regular participants. They also offer teacher training every year, so I’m assuming they probably already have more candidates than they need from that pool.
      Which is fair but doesn’t appear to be how the LW’s studio functions!

      1. Namaste at Home*

        90% of people that become RYTs never teach, fun fact. I’ve been in this business a loooong time

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Registered Yoga Teachers. Registered yoga teachers are registered with the Yoga Alliance or another registry. You can teach either as a RYT or a CYT, a certified yoga teacher. But it still applies, many CYTs and RYTs don’t teach.

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            Registered yoga teacher, usually with 200 (for RYT200) or 500 for RYT500) teaching hours before earning the designation.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, I mean, I believe at least in my studio there’d be way too many people completing the training to all start teaching regularly afterwards. I think they have a class of 20 or so each year? So if 2 of those end up actually teaching regular classes, I guess the maths works out…

      2. Bridget*

        A good beginner yoga teaching course will be at least 100 hours of instruction. Not exactly the solution if it is an immediate need.

        1. amoeba*

          No, sure. But if you already have a large, well-run studio, including regular TT, I can see why you wouldn’t (need to) hire any outsiders! But then you probably also wouldn’t advertise outside of the studio.

          Now, I guess it’s possible that that’s how the LW’s studio is run, she’s not actually advertising and people are still applying to teach there out of the blue. In which case I think it’s absolutely fine to tell them that only people who are already students there are considered for teaching. But that isn’t the fault of the people applying as there’s no way for them to know.

          And if she actively advertises the job, it’s a different story, anyway!

    3. LR*

      Great analogy.

      I wonder how much they are paying their staff and what percent of applicants they are giving job offers to that they have the gal to expect someone who hasn’t even been offered an interview to commute to and pay for a class. And even though you’ve decided less than $20 is affordable, for many people, esp people who are out of work or work front desk type positions, that’s grocery money.

      OP is expecting people to pay and spend significant time to apply to work at her studio. That’s not reasonable for any job application, and the justification that this yoga studio is so different and unique is awfully thin.

      I’ve been to a lot of very different, unique yoga studios that were all basically exactly the same. Aside from the one where they put baby goats and lambs on you while you practice, that was a unique one. But I still wouldn’t pay to apply there.

        1. The Eye of Argon*

          Goats love animal crackers. Just keep slipping it the crackers so it won’t bleat until you get to your car.

            1. KatEnigma*

              Goats love any food.

              Nothing will keep them from bleating. LOL Well, maybe if their mouths were literally too full to make sounds.

        2. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

          I can FedEx ya one… covered up in them right now (kidding season here right now).

            1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

              LOL… Actually… I wrote that before coffee, and have several bottle babies in the house right now that momma abandoned.

              So, my goats are literally kidding right now… and I was too tired to make a pun this morning!

              I still got that FedEx box handy for you!

      1. MassMatt*

        If the LW really wants to hire people that they know love the unique environment of this studio, then I would limit the search to existing clients. Put it on the bulletin board, newsletter, etc and announce it at classes.

        The down side is this will dramatically reduce the applicant pool. But you can’t expect a wide pool to be intimately familiar with your product or service unless it’s a ubiquitous brand, such as Starbucks or Apple.

      2. Clueingforlooks724*

        It was really the time that I was focusing on. Not only do you want each person to get to your studio, take an hour class (that may or may not work with their schedule), AND THEN apply?

        And how do you know they have never been there? I don’t always use my real name and changed my name when I got married. If my account was under the old name it wouldn’t be nearly close to worth it to change it.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Yes, I would consider it completely unremarkable for someone to apply for a host or server job at a restaurant without having tasted the food. If they need to be able to talk about the menu, they can learn it after they’re hired. Even a chef or something, if they applied without having tasted the food I’d figure they’d have plenty of time to do so during the interview process.

      I get the sense LW expects applicants to already be reasonably sure they want to work at this studio, but that’s not how hiring works. If it seems like a plausible fit, you apply and use the interview process to figure out whether you really want to work there.

      1. Kaiko*

        yes, I worked in restaurants for over a decade, and applied at, and gotten work at, plenty without having eaten their food. This is stuff that people can be trained on! LW focus on knowledge and customer service and teaching skills; you can train people on everything else.

      2. GammaGirl1908*

        Heh. I have never been a server, but I read a book not long ago where there was a scene in which the owner of a bar and grill’s new wife pitched in to help on an overwhelmed night, explaining that she had worked at a pancake house in college. Her words: “Beer and burgers. Coffee and pancakes. It’s all the same.”

        So, to my point above about my class being my class, regardless of the gym or studio, I can see what I need to see in a pretty quick spin around the place, as an experienced instructor. What I need to do in class doesn’t change that much. I don’t need to pay to find out what else it is they offer to see whether I want to teach there. There might be goats (yay, though) and lasers and chocolate and lavender towels and Carrera marble and cucumber water and incredibly fancy bath products and eucalyptus steam rooms and amethyst salt scrubs, but Warrior 3 is Warrior 3, no matter how unique the rest of the studio.

    5. Rebecca*

      To me, this letter sounds less like they want someone to take a class to learn about the studio and more like they want to hire from within their community – someone who has loyalty to and wants to contribute to this yoga studio specifically rather than someone who just needs a job.

      It feels like one step away from “they’re only in it for the money” – which, they are. As the owner, you have loyalty towards your community and your studio, but you can’t expect that all of the people you hire and who can do good work for you will have the same feelings of loyalty – you are in it to have a business you are proud of. They are in it to do a good job and get a pay cheque.

      Someone mentioned in the comments somewhere here that there are yoga studios who do that- hire from within the community they have cultivated and built – but in that case you have to actually cultivate that community, which includes offering teacher training and other opportunities for the people who might move from being community members to staff. You can’t just expect people to decide that your company is the one they are going to devote themselves to past the regular employee-employer relationship.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep, I know a couple small local businesses that hire from the community. Just like you said, these businesses invest a lot of time in cultivating that community. They have a ton of events, are very active in the community and at cultivating their own connected community (even building new communities from scratch), and they’ve set up a training pipeline to create new instructor/employees from folks that have no experience. And figure, not everyone you train will stick around (even to complete the training), and you may have near constant turn-over. It’s a heavy investment. Whereas hiring someone who is a professional interested and experienced in X will be quicker to train and easier to replace.
        Basically- if you want a unicorn, you need to do more than post a Unicorns Wanted sign.

    6. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

      Honestly, if I were applying for jobs in this field and read this letter (and connected it to the company), it would make me very wary of applying. If the manager expected me to put in this much effort at the application stage, what kind of demands would there be at the actual job?

      1. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

        And frankly, I’m imagining the next letter to be “My cheap/complimentary yoga class is full of job applicants! They are hogging room that could go to a future long term paying student!”

      2. Ozzac*

        Expecially strange since they seem to search for front end employees too, not only instructors.
        I don’t think there is anything different doing front end in a yoga studio, a lawyer office or whatever. Expecting people to visit the studio to see how unique it is before sending an application, when realistically the person searching a job has sent dozens of them indicates a lack of understanding of the job market.

    7. StressedButOkay*

      Yes, this. You cannot expect job applicants to come and spend money in order to apply. If I was applying and knew you were put off by me not doing that, I would pull my application. I don’t know what goes into teaching yoga but I think in-person visits to your studio, at a cost, as a student, wouldn’t be beneficial to them.

    8. whistle*

      I worked in restaurants for years as a cook, and I never once had eaten at a restaurant before getting a job there.

    9. Boof*

      Also, while i suppose it’s nice if a staff loves the food at a restaurant, it really has minimal impact on how well they, say, take orders, seat customers, bus tables, etc. at best maybe it impacts presenting options when a customer asks for suggestions

    10. starsaphire*

      I can’t work out how someone would know that Jane Smith has never set foot in their studio, tbh. If there are guest passes, gift certificates, or any kind of Priya-gifted-a-class-to-a-friend things going on, one can’t possibly know whether Jane ever came with her. Not everyone signs the guest book.

      Agree with the previous commenters re: restaurants. Washing dishes is washing dishes; I don’t need to sample the coq au vin to know how to be a bar-back or load a bus tub.

      1. Pinacolada*

        A lot of studios are pretty good about having everyone fill out an info-form, even guests, which usually includes a waiver etc. I’ve done it at nearly every studio I’ve been to. And then I assume we are all entered into a database. So in that situation you would know who has taken a class or not.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      I know people who work/worked at restaurants and not even liking the food they serve.
      It’s a job. You don’t need to care about product of your job to do it.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’ve made lots of steak sandwiches and pepperoni pizzas to order even though I don’t eat red meat. It’s a job, not a passion.

      2. Nina*

        I work in the honey industry at the moment. 90% of the people in my office hate honey and wouldn’t eat it if you offered them a jar of the really nice expensive top-end stuff for free. Doesn’t mean they’re less good at their jobs.

    12. Spreadsheets and Books*

      Using the restaurant analogy… I waited tables after college and, frankly, did not care whether the food was any good or not (it was mediocre, as it was one of those Applebee’s/Friday’s kind of places) or was a cuisine I found particularly appealing. I cared whether someone would give me money and offered a decent environment for their employees. Sometimes, a job is just a job.

  3. DEJ*

    I used to work in sports and post graduate internships are really common. I would encourage you to apply anyway. I know a lot of people who work in sports who did several internships before getting a full time job.

    1. Chikkka*

      But this isn’t a post graduate internship, it explicitly says it’s exclusively for current university students only.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        It says “should be”. It does not say that it is exclusively for current art students only.

        I also encourage LW to apply. They have nothing to lose by trying.

        1. Chikkka*

          They could get blacklisted or damage their reputation by applying for something when they obviously don’t meet the minimum requirement.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Every internship and job posting receives dozens of applications from people who don’t meet the minimum requirement. They aren’t tracking these to add to a blacklist.

          2. Eldritch Office Worker*

            That’s incredibly unlikely. They’d have to greatly offend someone for them to bother going to the effort to actively hurt their reputation. Applying for a position isn’t going to do that.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            That would be extremely strange, unless the applicant was actually lying about meeting the requirement. In my field, I would expect that the large majority of applications don’t meet the listed minimum requirements. For that matter, I would expect the majority of *hires* don’t meet the listed minimum requirements.

            Our requirements are more… general guidelines or wish lists.

        2. Fluffy Fish*

          Saying applicants should be students definitely means they only want students. Interpreting it any other way is trying to qualify on a semantical technicality and its not going to work. In fact if they ever offer an opportunity for non-students, OP may end up looking bad -as in “oh here’s that candidate again who didn’t read the job description.” Maybe a stretch but I wouldn’t risk it.

          A better option would be for OP to reach out to the company (once), saying they noted the opportunity and wondered if they ever offer internships or apprenticeships for individuals not in a degree seeking program.

          1. EPLawyer*

            That is HIGHLY unlikely. They will not be keeping track of the rejects. They will have way more applications than they can handle. Tracking them would be almost impossible. Sports jobs are like publishing jobs — lots of people willing to work low paying or even NON paying jobs just to get their foot in the door. Unless you do something outrageous like wear the rival teams colors to the interview, no one is going to remember you. Just an application that is rejected won’t even REGISTER. Again unless its outrageous like sent with a shoe.

    2. BethDH*

      I think use of “degree-seeking program” means they’re requiring it rather than just thinking it’s a good match for college students.
      That said, I agree that OP should get in touch and send materials — they clearly do take interns and might be willing to take OP on too.

      1. Miette*

        I agree. The hiring manager may not care one way or the other, frankly. I’ve been the hiring manager for interns, and the half dozen or so that came across who were not currently enrolled got the same consideration from me. That’s not to say other hiring managers at my company had the same attitude about it, but you never know. The worse that could happen is OP gets an auto-responder rejection email or never hears back.

      2. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

        I’d imagine that it may be tied to funding, too – here in Canada, the government funds short-term jobs in many different fields, which are meant for recent graduates or students, or even just young adults in the workforce. The paperwork can be very strict, and you can lose funding if you mess up.

  4. Jackalope*

    I used to take sporting classes at a sporting studio like the yoga studio mentioned in #3 (although it sounds like a bit bigger in scope). One of the things I learned is that the staff and the students have a COMPLETELY different experience there. This includes some rules that I would not be in any way okay with as an employee, although I didn’t learn about anything egregious enough to make me feel like I shouldn’t frequent them for their excellent sportsing lessons.

    From that experience I learned that coming in to see the student side of things doesn’t tell you that much about the employee side. I can understand you wanting potential employees to come check things out, and I can understand being a long-time student and thinking, “Hey, this could be a fun job, maybe I should apply!” But I wouldn’t think that coming in for a lesson or two would help me know if I wanted to work there.

  5. Jessica*

    LW3, “free” and “less than $20” are not the same thing. Especially when you’re out of work. And especially when however small the cost, you might need to think of it multiplied times the number (dozens? hundreds?) of jobs someone applies for.

    1. Anonychick*

      FWIW, I read it that way, too, at first, but then realized OP likely meant “assorted prices ranging from free to less-than-$20.” That said, even if all the classes everywhere were free, it would still be an unreasonable expectation, because how could most applicants applying to, say, a dozen jobs find the time to take even one class at each studio, since at least a good chunk of said applicants are likely to also still be working at a current job?

      1. Fikly*

        This is so wildly disrespectful of applicants time and money, that I almost wish OP would put it in the job ad, because that would be a great warning for applicants.

        Even if there’s no monetary cost for a class, there’s a time cost, a not insignificant one, and that’s time that could be spent doing other things, or earning money, etc. Plus, as they are so proud to not offer virtual classes – yay for not being inclusive! – now the applicant would also need to pay for the cost of transit and that additional time.

        1. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

          I have a friend who works in disability advocacy (concentrated on a different field), and one of his biggest takeaways is that having completely in-person events leaves out a ton of people, particularly during times like COVID when more people are likely to be at risk. (It’s also not just disability – visa issues can really hold people up.) I really hope the trend of at least having a livestream/virtual option sticks around for all types of things vents.

          1. Antilles*

            I really hope the trend of at least having a livestream/virtual option sticks around for all types of things vents.
            On a broad scale, yes, there absolutely should be options. And given that virtual options for exercise have existed for decades (e.g., VHS tapes to DVD’s to live stream), there’s no reason to think that they won’t continue to exist going forwards.

            But for an individual business, it doesn’t always make sense to have a live stream or virtual option. Especially for a small business like a local yoga studio – anybody who wants to stay at home and do virtual Yoga; it’s unlikely they’re going to land on OP’s Local Yoga. For plenty of businesses, the time and effort to set up and operate the livestream option just might not be worth it.

        2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

          Agreed, and it really highlights how little the LW understands modern job hunting. When I’m on the market, I set aside one-hour blocks a few times a week. I apply for 5-10 jobs in that hour. If a good job requires a longer application system, like government or a university, that sometimes gets bumped up to 1.5 hours, but since it’s a lot of copy-paste work, I can generally churn through them pretty quickly. The idea that I would be asked to waste hours of my time (and possibly some money) taking classes at each one before even applying…? “Out of touch” is putting it kindly. It almost sounds like an MLM.

      2. Adam*

        I’m pretty sure the confusion is because the LW used an em-dash between them, which is used to break up a sentence and specifically not to indicate a range (that’s the job of a hyphen or en-dash). Even for people who don’t know an ellipsis from an interrobang, we’re so used to reading material typeset by professionals that we know intuitively how each punctuation mark is used and using the wrong one is confusing.

        1. Falling Diphthong*


          Yes, an em-dash with spaces breaks up the sentence, while an en-dash without spaces indicates a range.

          – one of apparently many befuddled by how the free classes cost less than $20

          1. Fraggled*

            LW 2 – Two weeks notice is customary but not legally required, at least not in places I’ve lived. That said, new employer not letting them give notice is definitely a flag. They must decide if the risk is worth it to get out of the current situation.

            LW 3 – Sorry, but they sound presumptuous and entitled. Geez.

        2. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Ohhhh! Now I get it. I thought it was just a typo or incomplete edit, but “cost of free to less than $20” makes more sense.

        3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Yeah, I eventually decided that the problem was that it was an em-dash when it was supposed to be a range, but it definitely reads weirdly.

        4. BubbleTea*

          Depends whether you’re writing in US or British or another form of English, it varies.

          1. londonedit*

            In British English breaking up a sentence – like this – would be done using a spaced en-dash. Indicating a range would use a non-spaced en-dash (like ‘yoga classes cost £20–£30’). We don’t tend to use em-dashes at all.

    2. Lilo*

      It almost comes across like they expect hiring to be a promotional activity? It’s a bit weird.

      Also presumably someone experienced enough to be seeking out instructor jobs is experienced enough to want to spend their time on very particular classes and skills for their own purposes.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I found that really confusing! I take it there’s a range of options between free and $20? Even a free class is a big cost because people’s time is not free. Even if it’s something people love to do, job hunting takes forever.

  6. Katherine*

    OP#1, I once had a boss who would love to tell everyone “don’t beat yourself up” after extremely trivial things. For instance, I would be like, “oh shoot” and her immediate response was “don’t beat yourself up”. It was so odd, and she would always say it loudly in our open office. She would also cut her nails at her desk multiple times a week. I thought it was just who though she was a weirdo, but a few coworkers I ended up getting close to (and helped save my sanity lol) thought it was so gross she would cut her nails at her desk, how one of the junior people she hired would walk out of the office or just stare out the window (with his chair away from his desk and his entire body facing the window). Once of my coworkers told me that he was talking with his manager and she called my boss a “novice manager” lol.

    I don’t have any advice, but thankfully this coworker is a peer rather than a superior, so you could approach your boss with it. But please don’t change anything about yourself to please this annoying person! If possible, ignore them as much as possible.

    1. female peter gibbons*

      Ugh, I had a coworker like this, when you say a phrase to simply get through the day, like “Oh, that’s too bad” they’d respond completely literally, like “No, it isn’t.” It was unbearable. I would just be making small talk out of a feeling of obligation and they would take every idiom I used and flipped it back on me. I know it was abnormal because people don’t do this.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        Miss Manners calls these types of people “literalists” and she has no patience with how they pride themselves on sabotaging harmless pleasantries. She describes this type of response as “like an unexpected volleyball aimed at the stomach”.

        1. Clovers*

          +1 for MM and her (as always) perfect phrasing. Kneecapping normal speech with literalism like that always seems like something not-exceptionally-smart people think makes them look smart.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          My father’s sense of humor is extremely literal. He knows to tone it down outside the family, but sometimes he will decide to respond literally (or mathematically) to a simple question.

          “Could you pass the butter?” “I could.” “Dad, give me the butter.”

          “Would you like your sandwich with or without mustard?” “Yes.” “Dad, make your own sandwich.”

          1. Gumby*

            My best friend from high school was surprised when she had dinner with us and a sibling asked my mom to pass the bread. My mother decided on overhand. (It was a roll, pretty sure the sib caught it, it wasn’t an every day thing but on occasion…)

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I generally agree with this for people who are doing this to be smug or condescending, but there are also “literalists” who do that because they are neurodiverse and that’s how their brain functions. We had to buy my older child a book of idioms to start help them understand figurative interpretations, and it’s still a struggle for them. They’re not trying to upset people, it just doesn’t make sense to them.

          1. BabyElephantWalk*

            Thank you. I was noticing that this thread was veering into the realm of calling certain typical neurodiverse ways of thinking/speaking rude and we need to be more aware of it.

        4. Might Be Spam*

          My ex would reply “partly cloudy” to the question “How are you?” He did it on purpose to disconcert people, not as a metaphor about how he really felt.

      2. amoeba*

        This reminds me of the people who reply “it’s not you’re fault” to “I’m sorry”. Although even taking it literally – I can feel sorry this thing happened to you without having caused the thing!

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          I’m ND and “I’m sorry” drives me nuts because I have to stop and decide which kind of “I’m sorry” it is. True apology? Social lubricant?
          Sympathy? Why don’t we have an American English way of saying, I sympathize, that’s not the same as the words for apologizing?

          1. BluRae*

            There’s, “You have my sympathies,” I guess, but it comes across as weirdly formal outside of, like, a funeral.

            1. DrSalty*

              I usually go with “sorry to hear it” or some variation thereof. I feel like it’s slightly clearer to me.

          2. Gray Lady*

            “Oh, that’s too bad” works pretty well for this unless you have an excessively literal coworker like female peter gibbons had.

          3. Clovers*

            But from the context it will always be clear which kind of sorry it is. Did they spill wine on you, or did they just learn you lost your job? We have the same words for lots of things. “Sorry” seems to be the one a lot of people like to be willfully obtuse about. (Possibly explainable by grieving people lashing out, but still not the phrasing’s fault.)

            1. Clovers*

              (Not trying to say that being ND is being willfully obtuse. Just that this particular phrase seems to be the bugaboo of a lot of people who aren’t, and seems to be so for no good reason.)

            2. Willow Pillow*

              Many people don’t know they’re neurodivergent until well into adulthood – even with your disclaimer you come off as dismissive. “I’m sorry” can carry a lot of nuance, besides… Apologizing can be a sign of post-traumatic issues (over-apologizing), a means of dismissing someone (“I’m sorry you feel that way”), or a vehicle for shade (there are multiple songs in which “sorry not sorry” is prominent). Your perception is clouded by bias.

            3. Nina*

              But from the context it will always be clear which kind of sorry it is.

              Unfortunately this is not true!

            4. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              Were but this true! There are so many variants of “I’m sorry”…it’s not the nightmare hellscape that is the word “fine”, but it’s fraught for those of us who are very use to our “gut instinct” being the unreliable narrator of our lives.

        2. Essess*

          I took a seminar that stressed not to say “I’m sorry” as a response to someone if you were not the actual cause of the issue. Instead say something that commiserates with the speaker such as “that’s unfortunate”, or “that sounds unpleasant” or other acknowledgements. This was especially important for woman to stop saying “I’m sorry” for things that they were not responsible for.

      3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        I had a friend who I primarily knew online and had only met in few hour bursts in my hometown. I went to visit her in her hometown and stayed at her apartment. What I realized while I was there was she had no concept of idioms and pleasant small talk, so she would shoot my attempts at back and forth banter down, sometimes harshly. I knew she was a good person and friend- it was just hard to adjust to that in the short term. I’m not sure how dealing with that in a long term, work situation would go. It didn’t help that I had finally felt like I was comfortable with small talk/pleasantries and then had to rapidly adjust to being very literal.

    2. Spencer Hastings*

      Yeah, that is super annoying. Last year I had a complicated situation come up on a client’s tax return that I was preparing, kind of out of nowhere. Then, this year, we had a firmwide training on something related, and the partner whose client that was said something like “Also, we’ve seen [Complicated Situation] coming up recently. Like with Client X last year — I remember Spencer was tearing her hair out about that.” Which was kind of a disappointing thing to hear, because I’d thought I had handled it pretty well. So either I came off as super stressed or emotional about this at the time, or the partner was embellishing for effect and now people who weren’t involved in the original situation might *think* I was stressed and emotional about it. Not sure which it is.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        For what it’s worth, “tearing your hair out” is one of those expressions that to me is watered down from common usage to mean something more like, “spent a long time on a persistent problem,” and I typically take it as saying something more about the stubbornness/complexity of the problem than about the literal emotional state of the problem solver.

        It’s kinda like when someone says, “I was beating my head against the wall trying to solve this,” I don’t think they were literally hitting their head on any physical surfaces, just that it was a problem that took up a lot of time and energy.

        1. Silver Robin*

          Agreed – and I notice this at my job too, where the way my team and my manager talks about my work feels more intense than how I perceived it to be. And we work remotely generally, so they are not literally watching me do it. I think they might just imagine that it is difficult/frustrating because my job is take stuff of of their plates that they found difficult/frustrating (but that I generally like) so they kind of assume that is my experience too? Not sure.

          Point is, I would not be too worried about how you came off, Spencer Hastings, there is a non-zero chance they were trying to be sympathetic to how complicated that situation was and convey how hard you worked on it.

      2. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

        I feel you — I have a friend who likes to jazz up every story. I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed the origin of some of the Stories she retells and now I know to divide everything by at least 50%. And anything described as “all the time” might well be “once 5 years ago.” It remains irksome when I’m involved in the story. But it’s low stakes personal life — not worklife!

      3. Elitst Semicolon*

        I had a supervisor who used to both incorrectly predict and exaggerate my potential reactions to situations and would often do so in front of people I didn’t know. For example, in front of a focus group of people she’d met but I hadn’t, she’d say, “oh, we can’t do that or Elitist Semicolon will throw a fit and be angry for weeks.” I talked with her about all three issues there – the incorrect predictions, the exaggeration, and the negative statements in front of people who hadn’t had the chance to form their own opinion – and she shrugged me off because she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong.

        1. Flowers*

          That’s just ugly behavior. Like, I cannot think that was innocent or unintentional.
          Esp the shrugging after you told her not to do that. ( I know the shrugging wasn’t literal but I’m imagining it as such).
          I’m sorry you had to deal with that. She sounds like an awful person.

          I don’t want to armchair diagnose but you describe someone who’s constantly painting someone as an angry/volatile person, shrugs them off, and when said recipient gets genuinely upset, they feel vindicated as if they’ve proved their point. I’m blanking on the word for that rn.

      4. Warrior Princess Xena*

        For what it’s worth, if someone told me “so-and-so was tearing their hair out over it” I wouldn’t read that as “so-and-so was unreasonably stressed”, I’d read that as “Client X tossed us a huge and complicated curveball at the last possible minute that even our experienced staff weren’t expecting, so let’s plan for that this year”.

    3. Flowers*

      my boss *kind of* does this but usually in response to when I’m nervous/anxious. I try very hard not to show it but I’m not exactly a poker face. (and these are my own issues that I’m actively working on in my own time). For ex/ earlier he called me in to his office to ask a billing question about a client. I had been worried about it a few days ago and was wondering how to approach it with him – turns out it was something totally different and very quick and not at all a “you’re in trouble” type. and he did assure me that everything is fine, I’m not in trouble etc. He is a generally nice person, but I like to think I could shut it down if he did this when I was feeling perfectly fine.

  7. Anon 4 This*

    Ugh, I feel you number 1! It’s frustrating to feel “neutered” at work, like you cannot participate you own natural and perfectly professional (and culturally conditioned and appropriate) form of self expression simply because someone else has a different context. It’s like, don’t you already see how much I make myself fit in?

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, it’s a form of masking. Most people mask at least a bit by bringing the most professional parts of their personality to work, but there are many different ways of being professional.

      I’m from a culture where fairly restrained self-expression is expected, and I probably emote more than most of my coworkers. Thankfully I’ve never been “talked down” for just being me, but some coworkers have all but rolled their eyes at me so I can almost see them thinking “there she goes again”… If that happens, I usually restrain my gestures for at least a while, but I can live with people thinking I’m a bit weird for gesticulating more than they would.

      I also know that my gestures get bigger and I emote more when I speak Spanish or French rather than Finnish, Swedish, or English…

      1. Katrina*

        To my knowledge, “masking” means something more specific: it means for a neurodivergent person to fake behaviors/expressions they know to be more neurotypical in an attempt to fit in.

        There’s a difference between toning down your regular expressions because a single person is sensitive and being the person who has to play guesswork with what everyone else in the room thinks is normal behavior.

        LW1, it’s definitely not okay for someone to speak to you that way to you based only on your expression. (I could see it happening once if they genuinely misread the situation, but it should have stopped once they realized they were in the wrong.) If your co-worker is sensitive for some reason, they should approach it by asking politely that you accommodate them in a reasonable way. (ie “I startle very easily. Could you use a quieter tone to get my attention? Thanks!”)

      2. Gossip Guy*

        Most people mask at least a bit by bringing the most professional parts of their personality to work

        Thank you for expressing an issue I’m currently having with coworkers. They don’t do any “professional masking” and it’s kind of frustrating, ngl. There are definitely issues with too much masking, but I think some just helps an office run smoothly.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Perhaps this is a language issue, since you have mentioned in the past that you are Finnish, but in English the term “masking” is very specific to neurodivergent people making a distinct effort to mimic the behavior of neurotypical people, hide their stims, etc. It really doesn’t apply to the LW’s situation at all.

        If the LW was trying to change from work-mode #1 (emotive and culturally similar to their upbringing) to work-mode #2 which was generally expected to be more restrained, maybe code-switching would be a more accurate term, since it refers to experience of switching between a minority and majority culture.

        Or, you know, the good old word “context.” We don’t behave the same at a football game as at a funeral. We don’t behave the same at work as at home, or in a restaurant vs a rock concert. That’s a universal experience for everyone, regardless of culture or neurology.

        But in this case, as Katrina points out, there is no indication of any overarching expectation for the LW to change their behavior. It’s just one person who is being weird and pushy about it. So there’s no need for LW to change anything except the way they communicate with that person about their pushiness.

        1. MourningStar*

          I have to push back on that definition of masking. I would say that ‘masking’ in terms of neurodivergent people has become an adaptive meaning for the word – and came into that usage as a result of research and better understanding of psychology and disorders.

          While it is a very commonly used term now – that isn’t the exclusive definition of the word and it isn’t only limited to neurodivergence.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Sure, you have masking tape and layer masks in photoshop, and people wearing literal masks. And people will occasionally say they feel that they are wearing a mask (metaphorically) when they are putting on a fake persona or keeping a secret.

            But native English speakers do not, in common conversation, go around saying they “are masking” when they mean they are being polite and adapting their behavior to the context they’re in or the people they’re with. The construction is not used that way. It is used when ND folks refer to trying to act NT.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              It is also used by NT folks covering up their quirks, emotions, preferences, etc., to stay in compliance with the norms of their workplace (or family, school environment, what have you). I also have ADHD, and I don’t think gatekeeping this term is a great idea.

    2. LW1*

      Yes! I feel I’m being professional (and at this point have checked in with peers because her constant comments are so frequent). She is so sensitive to my facial expressions that I feel like I have to alter my personality to be in her presence. Someone could make a statement and I may have a surprised look and she immediately is talking me off the ledge… I haven’t even responded yet! It makes me look (and feel) crazy!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yeah, this sucks. Whether it’s intentional or not, she’s monitoring you weirdly closely and taking every opportunity to tell you you’re doing something wrong. That would drive anyone bananas!

      2. disappointmentcaftan*

        I have definitely encountered a person or two like this in my life, it does make you feel really out of sync and start to question yourself. Her reactions are so frustrating because she is assuming 1) that you are having a big reaction to x conversation when you aren’t AND 2) you need her to help you through your emotional reaction / you’re incapable of handling it on your own.

        I love Alison’s suggested responses for a pull-aside conversation. Also I think you can just start cutting off her responses in the moment but keep it even toned/neutral- “Lisa, I’m good” or “Lisa, what is the problem? I’m fine, and I’m not sure what you’re concerned about”.

        1. LW1*

          Yes! I totally agree dissapointmentcaftan! The assumption that I need her support for emotional regulation is the MOST frustrating part!

          1. I have RBF*


            She’s essentially demeaning you and belittling you by way of saying “LW1 is not capable of managing her own emotions, so I’m publicly going to try teach her how.” This is a passive-aggressive insult, IMO.

      3. Ginger Baker*

        Terrible advice incoming: I would be SO tempted to start turning the tables. “You seem so quiet, is everything ok?” “I’m so sorry my face frightened you! Are you all right, you look rattled…” “Quiet again today? It’s okay to feel Feelings at work, let me know if you want to talk about it.” “Oh, gosh, are you sure you’re okay? You look like you’re holding a lot in…”

        1. Ozzac*

          I love this reaction. Whenever you see her doing something act like you’re worried she is holding back tears. See how she loves it.

      4. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        I wonder whether this coworker has specific sensitivities to intense emotional expression. If so, her way of handling it is totally inappropriate and boundary-crossing.

        It nonetheless might help the situation to have a calm discussion about where she’s coming from, not with the goal of you ceasing to be you, but of increasing mutual understanding.

        1. LW1*

          She does have a family member that she is caretaker for and provides a high level of support. You may be onto something with her sensitivity! Speaking to her about her experiences and how they may impact how she interacts at work is a great idea! Thanks!

      5. yala*

        Part of me thinks it would be funny to turn an overtly confused look on her and say “You need to calm down.”

      6. Daffodil Library Tech*

        I have a congenital facial deformity – the muscles around my mouth are very weak, and my eyes are pretty deep set, so my natural resting expression looks like something between the Tragedy mask and Eeyore. Sooo many people have asked me what’s wrong, strangers have told me to “Smile, it can’t be that bad!”; I feel your pain, LW1. My go-to response is, “Nothing’s wrong/I’m fine, that’s just my face!”.

        I did work with someone who didn’t seem to get that my natural resting face just looks sad and I once snapped at him after he made a big deal of how I must be grieving (after I’d had to put my dog down) and it was basically something like “It’s JUST how my FACE LOOKS! You get that I’m not delirious with joy about working here ALL THE TIME, right? Stop telling yourself a story about what my life is like just because of the expression I have!”. He complained about my tone, I got pulled into HR’s office, I demonstrated what my face looks like when I’m not thinking about what my face is doing, that was as far as it went. It has not stopped other co-workers at new jobs since from commenting however.

        1. Rainbow Brite*

          I have the same issue! It’s only ever been a problem at work once, but it was a *big* problem — a coworker decided that my resting facial expression meant I must be miserable … so she told our other coworkers that I was miserable and hated my job. And then she told the PRIMARY SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN that we taught the same thing. I hadn’t been unhappy at work before that, but boy, was I ever after that.

          1. LW1*

            That’s terrible! I’m so sorry she decided to butt into your work that way! I’m hopeful this is not a conversation my coworker is having with others, but I worry she could! I do need to have a conversation and make sure it doesn’t become bigger than just her!

        2. I have RBF*

          I have resting bitch face (RBF). It’s not a joke – when I’m concentrating on something I don’t smile, and look like I want to kill something. I don’t, I’m just concentrating. It happens when I’m reading anything, in a book or on a screen, and very much so when I’m in thinking mode trying to figure something out, typing commands into a terminal.

          In an open office, if I wasn’t very careful to face away from the room so I wasn’t “on display”, I would get comments like “Is everything all right?”, or “What’s wrong, you look ticked?” No, I’m just concentrating, honestly.

          My only solution to that has been to work remotely. In my little computer corner at home no one can see my RBF.

      7. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I don’t know if this helps but this is definitely a her problem and not a you problem. Really is only to do with her own anxieties and/or upbringing. I think it is definitely ok for you to tell her that you don’t need emotional coaching/advice and that she’s over-reacting to your facial expressions.

        1. LW1*

          Llama, I appreciate you saying that… I’m less concerned about her specifically and more about how her response is viewed by others. I could make a surprised faced at news and she beginning telling me to calm down, we’ll figure it out, don’t get upset… and I just made a face! Lol. This is usually in meetings with several other people… I don’t want the REST of the group also assuming I’m freaking out over nothing.

          1. Hudson*

            I also have people comment on my expressions a lot, and I stole a line from the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which seems to lighten the mood, so now whenever anyone comments on a face I’m making I just say “that’s just my face journey!” Honestly, I don’t know if that would help with this coworker, she seems determined to read bad intent into your expressions, but it may help show people around you that you’re keeping it light, and you just happen to have an expressive face.

            I’d also trust that your other coworkers know you and know how you normally react to things, and likely see her responses as out of the ordinary as you do. I don’t know about you, but after a lifetime of being told I’m too loud and too expressive, I’m primed to believe that everyone thinks that and only some people are brave enough to say it. But the fact is, a lot of people trust us to to our jobs well, know (and like!) that we just have bigger personalities, and aren’t reading as much into people’s reactions to us as we are.

      8. Clovers*

        That can be so invasive, like you’re always in an emotional panopticon. Even out if seeming support, someone shouldn’t comment on your expression so much.

      9. Sun and clouds*

        I also emote and have been surprised by the reactions of some people around me. I know it’s not the end of the world! But if I’m momentarily frustrated I get it out of my system and move on. I’ve come to realize that some people think I’m emoting ‘at’ them. They get triggered and go into soothing/problem solving mode. Is it a Them problem? Yes. Do I want to make those around me feel bad? No. So I try to check myself a bit (largely unsuccessful mind you) and move on. So yeah, tell your coworker to stop trying to manage your emotions for you. Acknowledge that you are expressive and then it’s up to them to deal with their own reactions

      10. I have RBF*

        This is a (not so) microaggression. She’s essentially policing your facial expressions and tone! I think it’s a subtle way of trying to control you or denigrate you by essentially criticizing your natural method of speaking.

        I have a friend who is loud. Her indoor voice and her outdoor voice are almost the same. I’ve asked her to reduce her volume, but never told her to “calm down” or tried to “manage” her emotions. That’s only something you do with a child, spouse, or very good friend who has agreed to that type of feedback.

        Being told to “calm down”, usually by a man, just because I’m passionate about a thing, makes me see red. I was calm before that was said, not so much afterwards. I’m not a robot, don’t expect me to act like one. Yes, I can communicate with emphasis and gestures, it doesn’t mean I need to “calm down” or be told to do so by some control freak.

        This person is rude, controlling, and does not have your interests at heart. I am a snarky person, and I might tell her straight up that her policing and commenting on my “emotions” is neither wanted nor appropriate, especially from a peer. If she keeps it up I will *actually* get emotional and chew her out for treating me like a temperamental toddler. YMMV, of course.

    3. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

      Growing up in an ethnic family, I can be the only one in the house, and still wildly “hand talking” while on the phone. I do a lot of remote meetings for work, and have a coworker who is also from an ethnic background (he has comment d on his own mannerisms before, jokingly since he acknowledges them too). With some of our animated conversations in meetings, it is a miracle one of us hasn’t broken our monitor accidentally catching it with an errant hand gesture!

        1. Rara Avis*

          My husband is Italian and a theater person. For a while we were listening to Italian learning tapes in the car (this is a long time ago), but we had to stop because he couldn’t practice Italian and drive at the same time. Not enough hands.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I grew up in a community with a huge population of Italian origin. Hand talking was a second language you picked up, even if you didn’t speak Italian!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          In one of Bill Bryson’s travel books, he described watching two Italian men have a conversation at a coffee bar–five minutes in he was convinced they were about to pull knives and strew blood everywhere but they were just having a regular chat!

    4. Hosta*

      I had a tech that would make a big deal out of asking me if I was ok because “you look like you’re about to cry,” in the loudest, most emotive way… in front of patients. As in, she’d actually come into the room from the hall to demand if I was alright, have to her chest, glaring at my patient like they’d just attacked me. And when I told her I was fine abs that it was just my face, she’d announce that she’d keep asking because she loved me.

      I hated her. Younger me felt awful that I was putting someone in such distress with my face. Older me would have ripped her up one side and down the other after the third time she pulled that crap in front of the people in trying to take care of.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        This is awful. I really, truly want to know what the “you look like you’re about to cry” types are looking for in a response. Either I’m fine but now you’ve made everything weird, or I’m not fine but trying to hold it together for the sake of professionalism.

        The fact that she did it in front of your patients is truly appalling.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      Everyone comes to work with a different context and expectations of “normal” behavior. I would find LW1’s mannerism annoying, and she’d probably find my reservedness cold or impersonal. We are all adjusting ourselves to be able to work together productively and with minimal coworker irritation. This is not just something expected of LW1, we’re all “neutering” ourselves at work to some degree.

  8. Ted Mosby*

    OP5 – my first job offer upon finishing graduate school was for a paid internship (I was applying for a full-time position and they offered me a 4-month internship instead, but that’s a whole different can of worms). It’s fully possible to intern at a place without being a student, even if it’s unconventional, and I recommend going for it!

    1. Chikkka*

      Really? Even for an internship that very explicitly spells out that you must, must be a current college student studying a specific degree to be eligible?

      Honestly I think applying for something when you obviously don’t meet the basic eligibility criteria is a terrible idea and could result in you being blacklisted or developing a bad reputation.

      1. Clara*

        At previous companies, they would say current student but actually accept anyone <2 years post-grad. I think it's worth asking as a recent grad or someone transitioning sectors, but definitely worth acknowledging that you don't fit the exact brief described as early as possible. I really doubt it would get you blacklisted or have an impact on your reputation if they can't look at your candidacy, you'd just be removed from the pool and not given another thought.

        1. Canadian*

          Yes, we get a few people apply every year for our paid summer internship who don’t fit the criteria for being a returning student. We can’t be flexible because we pay them through a government funding program that’s not flexible, but I can’t imagine putting in the effort to blacklist anyone just for applying to a job they don’t meet all the criteria for. We just ignore them as you say. I also can’t remember a single person’s name who has done it, so it definitely won’t affect their reputation.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        I really don’t think they’d pay that much attention. They’d put your application in the “no” pile and wouldn’t give it any further thought.

        5 years down the road, they’re not going to be like “You’re the one who applied for a student internship when you weren’t a student!!”

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah I think most likely the application will be put in the rejection pile and they’ll move on. . Maaaaaaybe someone replies “this is for students and it doesn’t look like you’re a student, am I missing something”, but unless this is a small program with very few applicants that seems unlikely. People apply fr things they’re not fully qualified for all the time, blacklisting seems incredibly unlikely.

      3. Snow Globe*

        I don’t think they’d be blacklisted or that it would harm the LW’s reputation to apply, but I also agree that they probably won’t get far. My assumption is that this is an unpaid internship, and that they are looking for current students in a degree program so that the job meets the legal requirements for an unpaid internship.

      4. LR*

        Everyone one of the job descriptions at my current company is recycled and most were very poorly edited by HR. We just hired for an internship that explicitly said the person needed to be an MBA candidate. They did not. I didn’t get any control over what the requirements said, even though I’m the hiring manager.

      5. WellRed*

        I don’t think companies generally have the time or inclination to go about blacklisting people.

        1. Chikkka*

          I’m a full time professional artist. the arts world is absolutely based on who you know, and on reputation. You simply can’t compare the arts world to office jobs or the corporate world, and people who don’t work in the arts don’t understand how different it is.

          It’s obvious most of the people commenting are not professional artists.

          I often put out job call outs (mainly for freelancers to work with me on a specific art projects, but sometimes arts internships exactly like this one), and get people applying who obviously don’t meet the minimum requirements sometimes. I definitely remember them and their names have a question mark in my mind as “this person either doesn’t bother to read things and therefore might be sloppy, or is a chancer and might be entitled.”

          Of course you won’t be formally blacklisted, but take it from someone who actually runs arts internships exactly like this one – people will definitely remember you as “the chancer who applied for something when they didn’t meet the requirements” and that’s not a good thing. It’s the kind of thing my peers express frustration over a lot.

          The requirement for this internship isn’t just to be a current student, you must be studying a subject related to photography, and it must be a multi-year degree course (so even many photography students would not be eligible to apply, if they’re studying a photography course that does not result in a degree).

          Considering this is a course that even some photography students aren’t eligible for, they are not going to look kindly on someone who is a) not a student b) not on a degree course c) working d) working in a different industry and e) no experience in photography other than as a hobbyist.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            I’m not in the arts but that sounds harsh just for applying incorrectly.

            One thing with this letter though, if it’s a sports team doing the hiring, it may not be a fellow artist doing the hiring but instead someone involved in the teams PR, media relations, etc. so maybe not the same damage to the applicant’s reputation

          2. EPLawyer*

            This is the sports world though. They are not going to be blacklisting people for applying. They get LOTS of people applying for EVERY ROLE (well not coach or players) because people want to get their foot in the door. This is a known fact. To them its just part of doing business and having job/internship offerings.

            Although it is a photography position it is not the art world. She is not going to be painted with a scarlet letter for applying. And no one in the photography/art world is going to know she applied unless she tells them.

          3. Critical Rolls*

            This seems like a rather hostile way to look at things. I don’t take offense at someone wasting my time if they don’t qualify for a position they applied for, I don’t spend time and energy cataloging their possible issues. I just put them in the “no” pile and move on. I admit I’m not in an arts field, but my understanding is that they’re exceptionally hard to break into and often precarious, so I think I would be more sympathetic to people looking to gain a toehold, rather than less. It would take more than a single instance of applying (for an internship, not even a full on job!) that was a mismatch for someone to get on my radar sufficiently to have any kind of black mark.

          4. Smiley*

            As another arts professional – I’m incredulous that this has been your experience, but ok, these things happen. But it’s not common, and it’s not the standard. I certainly do get a chuckle over the “over confident” art applicants, but I only remember the arrogant, condescending jackasses that expect to be recognized and in charge.

          5. Bee*

            I’m also in the arts, and I could not possibly tell you the names of anyone who’s applied for either a job or my services who was underqualified; it doesn’t even register. When I was hiring interns/assistants, so many people were overqualified that I never even gave a second thought to the people who were obvious nos, and for taking on artists – well, frankly, MOST applicants aren’t ready yet. This world does thrive on reputation and connections, but for me that means I’m keeping so many people I *do* need to know in my head that it’s only the real assholes who stand out on the other side, and a polite-yet-unqualified intern application wouldn’t stick in my mind for more than 20 seconds.

          6. Molly Millions*

            I’m not an arts professional, but I’m curious how you would expect someone who is inexperienced to realize this is the etiquette in your field?
            I’m not sure it’s necessarily fair to assume someone’s sloppy or entitled because they’ve applied for a job they don’t meet all the criteria for, since it’s not considered inherently rude in most fields. I don’t know how someone just starting out in the arts would automatically know the norms are different. (A privileged person with industry connections might; anyone else, probably not).

            Generally (unless they’re actively misrepresenting their credentials), I think it’s safe to assume most people applying for jobs genuinely believe themselves to be eligible. Sometimes they’re wrong, but I’m not sure it’s fair to penalize someone who may have made honestly misunderstood the requirements.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          I think you’d have to do something a lot worse than apply for a job you’re not suited for.

      6. hbc*

        I can’t even imagine how big my blacklist file would have been for applicants who didn’t meet all of the criteria of a job posting. I’d spend more time blacklisting than interviewing strong candidates. Even the beauty parlor owner who applied for a technical sales position without explanation (my most egregious bad fit) wasn’t talked about in terms of name and reputation, and for all I know could be working at my former employer.

        It’s just not that big a deal.

      7. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I think you’re a little paranoid about this. People apply for jobs they don’t fully meet the qualifications for all the time. Some of them actually get those jobs. Nobody is going to track every one of those applications and blackball someone because of that. She could even say in her cover letter that she’s not a current student but if they can consider non-students, would love the opportunity.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          This! People do this all the time. It’s normal, and even expected.

          Paranoid and a bit defensive, yes. And it’s leading Chikkka to give some really bad advice here.

      8. KatieP*

        Honestly, I’ve got enough on my plate without having to maintain and check a blacklist. I don’t hire interns, but I do hire student workers with a strict Undergrad only requirement. 80% of my applicants are grad students, and they just get shuffled off to the, “no,” pile.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I also think OP5 ought to apply. They’ve got a lot of experience and this may be a good fit. The worst that happens is the employer says no. The other possibility is that there’s another position available or they figure out how to have 2 interns.

    3. Canadian*

      It’s not just about conventionality though. It really depends on how they’ve set up the internship financially or legally. Here in Canada, ads for paid internships and even more typical summer jobs that say someone must be a new grad (usually within a few months of graduating) or returning to school within a certain number of months usually have government funding to pay that person through a specific program. There’s no flexibility on those requirements for employers using that program. I know other countries have similar new grad and student employment schemes and some states may as well.

      1. metadata minion*

        Yeah, it’s the same in the US. There are certainly exceptions that other people in the thread have given of cases where “must be a student” turned out not to mean that, but in general if something specifies that you have to be in a degree program, it’s because of legal/funding requirements.

    4. 1*

      People are taking the term blacklisted too literally. Yes, it’s unlikely that the organization will put you in an oficial “do not hire” list because of this. But in a field as small and competitive as art it’s not unlikely for that first impression to cause issues later. It’s not a prohibitive thing but it’s not unlikely that someone will recall LW as the one who tried for an arts internship when they weren’t even studying art and for that to be a final thing in a decision between them and someone else. I’m not in the arts but if you think the chance is small to be considered I don’t think the risk of coming across as slightly clueless is worth it

      1. EPLawyer*

        But its not arts — its sports. As noted above, its probably the team hiring through the front office. This is not a photographer looking for an intern, its a sports team looking to add someone to their inhouse PR department. Different kettle of fish.

        No one in the arts is going to know she applied unless she tells them.

  9. Formerly Ella Vader*

    For LW3: I agree with Alison that it’s an unrealistic expectation for every applicant to take a class there before applying. However, it might be useful for you to provide a pass for everyone you want to interview, so they can take a class at their convenience before the interview, and then you can have more useful discussions about how it differs from where they’ve taught/participated in the past.

    Also, I hope you’ll be getting your shortlist candidates to teach a demo class / audition class, and have a variety of attendees who can then give you good feedback on how the candidate’s style works for them.

    1. Lilo*

      I actually think both things here are unrealistic. Especially the demo class if it’s unpaid. If applicant wants a demo class, they need to pay every single person for it. But the attendees here – would they be getting a free class? Expected to pay for an unknown? It’s a can of worms.

      But asking applicants to take a class themselves is also asking for a large commitment from people who are themselves probably applying to multiple places and it really doesn’t provide information to either applicant or the employer. Most classes are extremely instructor specific.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I’d have thought a demo class would be essential before hiring someone, as the last stage in an interview process. I expect to have to give a presentation as part of an interview process, which is more of a burden as it has to be prepared from scratch.

        I’d expect the class to be offered free or at a discount, like those notices you see in hairdressers offering cheap haircuts for trainees.

        1. Lilo*

          Giving a presentation is very different than being expected to give an entire class away for free.

          1. amoeba*

            But you could pay for it? I certainly wouldn’t hire somebody on a regular basis for my hypothetical yoga studio without having any idea of their teaching style, ability, etc… that sounds super risky to me! Especially as with bad teaching, there would be actual (physical and mental) health risks for the participants and I guess as the owner you’d be liable for that?
            I mean, you could do it as a final step for only your top candidate (assuming it’s actually a process where you chose from multiple candidates for one specific position). I’m sure a lot of people would find it interesting to participate in such a class, especially if it’s offered as a discount, but also just out of interest and curiosity in the potential new teacher. I would!

          2. ecnaseener*

            I can’t speak to yoga teachers, but for public school teachers it’s quite common to do a demo lesson to a real class of students.

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              I’ve heard of giving demo lessons, and been on both sides of giving them and evaluating them as part of the interview process, but I’ve never heard or seen of doing it in front of a class of real students. That really makes me wonder how they manage the logistics of that.

              I also wouldn’t want the students’ input to be part of the decision as to whether or not I got the job! I think I’d opt out of such a position if that were the case.

              1. Hlao-roo*

                When I was a student, I was part of a demo class! A prospective teaching candidate taught our class for one period. We were told ahead of time that this would be happening. I don’t remember if we (the students) gave any input–I don’t think we did. I know that there were two people from administration sitting in and observing the class.

              2. Butterfly Counter*

                We sometimes do it at the university level, but it’s part of their day-long interview.

                1. Reed Weird*

                  Yes, I was about to comment that I was part of a demo class in college once. We were told in the class before, and our regular professor and I think two or three other faculty/admin observed. We did a quick survey with the prof after the candidate left with the other observers, just a couple questions to see how effective the lesson was and how well we thought she did. I thought it was nice they asked for our feedback.

              3. Eldritch Office Worker*

                My husband teaches middle school and has always had a demo class with real students as part of his interview process. At public schools, private schools…figured it was pretty normal.

              4. Gray Lady*

                The logistics would simply be the same as those for a substitute teacher. And I doubt that student evaluations are part of the decision; it’s a demonstration of teaching skills observed and evaluated by the hiring committee.

            2. Em*

              My community choir hired a new director a few years back, and the committee had the three final candidates come in and conduct a (paid, obvs.) demonstration rehearsal so the choir as a whole could provide feedback. Making sure that an instructor meets the needs of and gels with the clients is useful. Our choir consists of everything from “couple who play with a major symphony orchestra” to “person who’s never done anything musical before but would quite like to give it a try now they’re retired, no, I can’t read sheet music even a little” which is a challenge, and not always one that will reveal itself without a practical exercise.

      2. Nancy*

        Demo classes are common when hiring any type of teaching position. I’ve been part of a demo class for yoga and dance. They were listed as the sub for the day ahead of time on the website and in emails, so if it bothered you that the teacher was someone you didn’t know, you just didn’t sign up.

        I really hope that any studio I go to has seen how the teachers taught before hiring them.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Thank you! I was feeling the same thing and was wondering if I were feeling something a little off-base about it. LW does sound like the kind of person I would have a hard time working for and makes me wonder what their turnover rate is or how successful they are at filling open positions.

      2. mlem*

        I think it’s because yoga is often a “vibes” kind of business; there’s the risk that people working in it — like LW3 — start to take an approach that is less “business” and more “mission”. I’d counsel LW3 to take a step back and remind themselves to keep their business hat on.

      3. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Maybe, maybe not. It’s often hard to step back from something you’re very close to and see it the way others do, and it can happen to people who will listen to reason if you point out what they’re doing.

        I work in a nonprofit communications role and I routinely have to remind people that none of our supporters care about our organization the way we do – they care about the issue we work on and what we can accomplish in that area, but overwhelmingly most donors don’t read a puff piece about our latest corporate partnership and think, “Good for them, they worked really hard to land a deal with a household brand name, I’m so glad an organization I support is getting recognition!”

        I always have to remind people that our supporters need a reason to care about what we’re telling them, either that there’s a direct benefit to themselves (does our new partnership with a publisher mean our supporters now have access to free online journals?), or that we’re making a difference in our issue area (does our partnership with a major retailer involve them committing to go carbon neutral across their entire global supply chain?). If we send them an email just boasting that we received an award or landed a major celebrity endorsement, there’s nothing for them to really do with that information except maybe say, “Cool,” or just as likely, “Skimming this email was a waste of 10 seconds of my one and only life.”

        Even though the people I work with routinely forget this and have to be reminded, none of them are too unreasonable or precious to understand my point when I do remind them. They just spend all day every day caring about our success and any mindset you’re in all day long becomes a default mode of thinking that you sometimes forget isn’t the same mode everyone else is running on.

      4. Not A Manager*

        I had the same feeling. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but it feels like the LW has strong opinions about The Best Way that leads to rigid expectations of both their clients and their employees.

        As an applicant, I would be concerned that the employer would be unnecessarily inflexible about normal work requests. I would also be concerned about an expectation that I would immediately intuit their systems and preferences from somewhat vague information.

  10. Oh no dont*

    let’s not take internship opportunities away from students planning to go into that field. seriously. Go back to that full-time engineering job that pays you money, and leave student internships for students. Start a photography business or go back to school, but applying for the student internship would be cringe at best and downright selfish at worst.

    1. jj*

      This is a kind of ridiculous position to take. 1) internships are awarded to whoever the organization feels is the best match. It’s never the job of an applicant to assume someone “deserves it more” – that’s for the selection committee. 2) “go back to engineering” lol – look, I’m pretty broke, I think I understand your energy, but that’s just not fair or realiai. People are allowed to quit lucrative careers to try to become artists. They’re allowed to do it even if you personally think art school students are more deserving then stem majors who’ve had a change of heart. 3) start a photography business??!! That’s not officially advice. They have no professional experience at all, hence the interest in the internship. Also, you saying only people with art degrees and / or the start up capital to fund business ventures are worthy of professional development in the arts?

      1. jj*

        LOL at my typos – third party keyboard app l gone awry. I meant realistic* and logical* advise… Not official. No idea how that slipped in!

      2. Katrina*

        “People are allowed to quit lucrative careers to try to become artists.”

        Agreed! This particular internship may not be available to the LW, but it doesn’t mean they are undeserving of future opportunities just because they are no longer a student/did not focus on this when they were a student. (It’s not uncommon advice to pursue a lucrative career first, then follow your artistic passion once you have a stable income.)

        That said, if the LW’s attitude was more one of, “Oh, I’ve dabbled in photography before. That could be interesting,” then I’d suggest spending more time learning the craft to see if it’s something they’re truly passionate about. But it sounds like the passion and experience are already there in this case.

    2. Chikkka*

      Wanting to quit a job to become an artist – fine.

      Trying to land a specific internship that is ringfenced for current art students only when you are not and have never been an art student – not fine and stupid since they’ll take one look at the application and go “uhhhh does this person not know how to read??”

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I’ts not ringfenced; the letter clearly says that applicants should be in a related field, not must be in a related field. I’m assuming LW can read just fine.

        And there’s nothing wrong with applying. If the team doesn’t want him or doesn’t feel he’s qualified, then they won’t select him. It’s not as if by his applying they are going to automatically reject any and all other applicants.

        1. Katelynne*

          While we can’t ever parse the exact meaning out of someone’s head, it’s probably worth remembering that some people use “should” as “shall” and not as “we suggest”. It drives me nuts when I see it used that way in policies and procedures and I mostly correct it to “shall” where I can, but it’s happened enough that it’s clear to me that’s how people often use it.

          1. Evan Þ*

            Fun fact: In the 1780’s, several state Bills of Rights phrased mandatory provisions using “ought to”! For example, from Virginia, “Excessive bail ought not to be required…”

      2. ecnaseener*

        I guarantee they will get plenty of applications from people who don’t meet the qualifications in the job description. If being in school is a requirement (or just a strong preference), it’s no hardship for them to toss LW’s resume in the same “no” pile as a dozen others.

        And genuinely, like, if they point at that pile and go “can these applicants even read?” …who cares?

        1. Antilles*

          An experienced hiring manager usually spends like, 3 minutes reviewing an initial application before grabbing the next one off the pile. You’re not going to have any long-term impacts from applying and getting tossed in the no pile; they won’t even remember you existed five minutes later.
          Especially since we’re talking about applying for a professional sports team. Many people would consider that an *extremely* desirable field and apply even if they’re not even remotely capable of the job. I fully expect that OP (who has some photography experience) won’t even be the least qualified applicant this cycle, never mind being so unqualified that you’re memorable.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      It’s a sports team. It’s entirely possible that they just used a boilerplate “intern wanted” template they found online.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You really think that? Professional sports teams are, for the most part, tightly run organizations, with HR, finance, and norms, just like most businesses. I highly doubt this ad is for their very first intern– they probably know very well what they’re doing, and how to hire. Why would you assume they’re a fly-by-night organization? Because it’s sports? That’s… an interesting take.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Yeah no they are not. I give you exhibit A — the Washington Commanders or whatever their name is this week. Now that is an extreme example. But sports teams are made up of PEOPLE. Good, bad and indifferent. They have good HRs and bad HRs just like every other business. They have good hiring practices, bad hiring practices and lazy hiring practices just like every other business. It is possible they just recycled an ad changing the position title. They know they are going to get more applications than they can want. They know they are going to get a great applicant pool no matter what. So why bother to be all that specific in job ads?

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          Where in the world did I say they are fly-by-night? I said they took a shortcut. All organizations do this, regardless of size, scope, or legitimacy.

          Your reading your own prejudices into my comment…that’s…an interesting take as well.

        3. Hiring Mgr*

          If this were for a major league team, yes. But the chances are overwhelming that as a “professional sports team” it’s a struggling minor league/semi-pro/unaffilaited franchise that doesn’t have much $$ or resources to spend on any of these things.

    4. Roland*

      Making career decisions based on whether or not they’re “cringe” is, dare I say, cringe

  11. Dark Macadamia*

    Honestly, I’d feel weird showing up for a class to scope out a potential job! Will I make the right impression? Should I tell them up front that’s why I’m taking it? What if they think I’m some kind of weird stalker? Maybe that’s overthinking, but I feel like it would add a level of awkwardness that I’d want to avoid just in case it comes across poorly.

    1. cncx*

      This is where I am at. At what point does showing up read awkward, stalker, too much? That’s why I wouldn’t show up as a patron.

  12. Varthema*

    Whoof, between this letter and the ones about people volunteering at for-profit enterprises or doing labour in exchange for classes definitely sort of frames yoga studios as problematic places to work for me. I sort of get it because I was raised in the kind of community where the same kind of warm-hearted, open, communally-minded people tend to congregate, so I can imagine that it works, but given the capitalistic society we live in it, it just seems so open to abuse by anyone even the slightest bit crafty.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      There’s a great podcast called “Yoga is Dead,” which addresses a lot of the problems with the 21st century, Westernized, version of yoga that we most often see.

      You might want to check out the episode “Karma Capitalism Killed Yoga” – they talk about the “free labour in exchange for classes” model, and a bunch of other aspects of the employee-employer relationship in yoga studios.

  13. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, honestly, even if you were very excited or stressed or whatever, your coworkers response would be out of order. It is not their place to tell you how to feel or react. I’m not really sure whether it s worse to have somebody react like this when they are totally wrong or when somebody is actually upset and may not have the patience to humour somebody like this.

    I like Alison’s response.

    I do think it’s possible though, that you might get a patronising response that implies, “OK, if you want me to pretend I didn’t have to reassure you because you were so upset, I’ll humour you and let you save face.” I once asked somebody, “oh, did you misinterpret me as being worried about x?” and got a flat, “you were worried about it!” response. I may be wrong about your coworker, but in my experience, people who jump to conclusions about how others are feeling tend not to be too good at admitting they are wrong.

    LW3, I don’t know anything about yoga, but I would assume people would apply for jobs in restaurants, not because they’ve eaten there, but because they are chefs or whatever and are applying to any of those roles in commuting distance. Perhaps I’m wrong but I wouldn’t expect a chef to eat at a restaurant before applying to work in it. And I certainly wouldn’t expect somebody who applied to say be the restaurant’s accountant to have done so.

    I also think working in a place and taking classes there are very different things, especially for the front of house staff. There may be other reasons they feel it would be a good fit, rather than because they enjoy yoga.

    1. Silver Robin*

      Oh goodness, that patronizing response would drive me up the wall. Honestly, if it came to that, I would go to the manager at that point because somebody with authority would need to tell the coworker to stop managing other people’s emotions.

    2. Ray Gillette*

      Regarding the restaurant point – sure, people apply to restaurants they haven’t eaten at all the time. But it would be weird if an applicant talked about how much they loved the place if they’d never eaten there. LW3’s expectation that applicants should take a class at the studio before applying is off-base, but I don’t think she’s wrong to be a little put off by the puffery.

  14. Scrimp*

    LW1, that is so frustrating! I had an old boss who would tell me what I was feeling all. The. Time. She was always wrong, except when she would insist that I was angry and continue to insist until I did indeed become angry. Urgh.

    I wish you the best with your situation.

    1. LW1*

      Thanks! I’m hoping to be more direct, using some suggestions here… Since we have a close working relationship I was hesitant, but it’s such a frustrating part of being there I need to be more direct!

      1. hbc*

        I’d give her an idea of what you act like when you *are* worried. Drastically contrast it with your normal. “Oh, I’m not worried, this is the same face I make when realize I forgot to switch the laundry to the dryer. If I’m panicked, you’ll know it–I [get super calm/shake the room with my voice/go full Kermit the Frog with my hands waving above my head].”

        If she doesn’t start backing off after that and a few reminders of “This is just me being normal, Jane, I know this isn’t a big deal,” then I’d start turning it back at her. “I’m fine, but sounds like *you’re* worried.” “Is this pep talk for you or me?”

    2. Willow Pillow*

      Oof, this reminds me of a former manager… she would project her emotions onto me and get all condescending. I wasn’t feeling defensive before, but the belittlement get me there!

      1. Rocky*

        I had a manager once who insisted she could tell that I was getting behind in my work because my skin would break out. *shrug*

  15. bamcheeks*

    I’m dying to know what LW1 does that involves “overemoting to support people around me”. It’s probably something like primary school teacher or nurse in a field where people need a lot of emotional support as well as medical care,, but I’m choosing to believe it’s Court Jester.

    1. LW1*

      Love court jester!!!! Sometimes I feel like that, but you were much closer with your initial assumptions!

        1. bamcheeks*

          If LW is Mr Tumble, then I salute their co-worker. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to cause Mr Tumble 1% of the irritation he’s caused me over the years. XD

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Let’s combine two letters– fan engagement for a sports team. :) (In our last city, the minor league baseball team had the BEST fan engagement guy. I don’t like cheesy fan stuff and he made every game an absolute joy.)

  16. T*

    #4, “I’m only available to commit x hours this week, which means I can only accomplish y, if that shouldn’t be my priority, please let me know” then stick to your planned hours.

  17. TippyToes*

    For LW 3, having this belief that every applicant needs to take a class before even applying (because “they won’t understand us otherwise”) borders on the toxic “loyalty cult” that you find a lot in gym and fitness culture. I would re-examine this feeling you have and see how it applies in a broader sense to the culture you are fostering in your employees. I’ve worked for gyms in the past that had this mentality that they were definitely not good places to work. ANY criticism was met with complete disbelief and anyone that raised any issues was treated badly. I’m not saying this is what’s going on, but the idea that your applicants need to “understand” your yoga studio before they complete the first step in the process is, frankly, weird. Yoga studios are pretty common in most areas, your applicants probably know what to expect.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I honestly think this is why so many of the gyms I’ve visited in my area have completely turned me off when I’ve visited them. In the end, I’m looking to get some cardio, sweat a little bit, and lose a bit of weight. I’m not going to upend my entire lifestyle 24/7 just because I’ve bought a gym membership. In the end, a gym is just a room with exercise equipment.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My thought as well.
      It’s a yoga studio. It’s so-many-feet by so-many-feet, you put mats on the floor, the instructor can dim the lights, there’s a sound system.

      And it probably makes a lot of business sense to offer some variety in the structure and content of the classes to attract a broader range of customers. Beginner, intermediate, advanced. Prenatal. High energy, relaxing.

      1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

        Exactly. If I have to read “~wHat MaKes uS sPeCiaL is ouR cUltuRe~” one more time, I will be physically ill.

        I know everybody wants to think that their businesses are special and unique, but they usually aren’t. Now, that yoga company in Atlanta that does yoga in a treehouse with llamas? That’s unique. A yoga studio that “just has really great people” ? Not so much.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          And as a client I’m going to spend at most a couple hours there a week. Not really enough time to get immersed in culture, plus I just want to take a class and go home, honestly, between work, childcare, errands, etc, I don’t care about the culture of a yoga studio, I just want to go and take a class and go home. Sure it’s great to have a good instructor and friendly classmates but I don’t think it’s anyone’s priority.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah I’m kind of skeptical that this business is THT different from other yoga studios out there. You focus on the community, great. So do most small businesses. You don’t do online classes, ok that’s a choice that limits you in my opinion but I’m sure plenty of yoga studios also make. I’m not seeing how this place is so DRAMATICALLY different that an experienced instructor would not understand the culture without taking a class before applying.

    4. Butterfly Counter*

      I’m a person who goes to yoga and I have a lot of thoughts about how I would like the classes I take to be run on a meditation-/exercise-/overall ambiance-level. I’d be thrilled if I found a studio that had classes that hit my exact vibe.


      Realistically, I go to the nicest yoga studio (for the money) nearest to me that has my level of classes. Almost all studios are close enough to my ideal that my main draw to one versus another is convenience.

      In other words, I’m not driving another 10 minutes to a studio that has my ideal classes if the closer one is good enough. I love a good studio vibe, but even for someone who has a very particular vibe in mind, it’s not the main thing I’m interested in.

      1. GreenDoor*

        I would never take a class at a gym or studio in which I work. Think about it, during yoga you’re getting sweaty, grunting, huffing and puffing. Cleavage often hangs forward and rear ends are often up in the air. You might pass gas and you’re probably wearing tight fitting workout clothes that define every aspect of your body. Sometimes you have to modify movement in such a way that a disability or medical issue would be apparent. None of those things – none – are things I want to do in front of people that I have to have a professional relationship with. Lighten up and don’t take offense. Your screening should focus on whether they understand the practice, how they interact with customers, and the extent to which they can adhere to the ethics of the profession. Not whether they’ve personally been to your particular space.

  18. Turingtested*

    OP 1, have you considered that the person is misinterpreting your emoting as being angry or otherwise unpredictable and what they are really doing is trying to protect themselves? Or that loud talking really grates on them? I’m not saying that’s true or that your behavior is bad but they might not be just straight up judging and controlling you.

    In addition to what Allison said maybe flat out say “Hey I’m on the loud and expressive side. I’m not an angry person and I need you to accept this. But we both have the right to be comfortable at work and I’m willing to do things a little differently like moderate my volume.”

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      This was closer to my thought as to what was happening. OP1’s coworker is used to someone expressive as being somewhat “dangerous” and in need of being managed.

      However, as OP1 states, her other coworkers don’t see her as unpredictable, so it’s that one particular coworker’s misunderstanding that SHE needs to manage, not OP1.

  19. Delta Delta*

    #2 I wouldn’t worry about a full 2 week notice period. The current manager seems just unhinged enough that if OP tries to give 2 weeks, he’ll start throwing her belongings in a box, publicly shame her for daring to move on, and give her the boot that afternoon. Could be a shorter notice period would be perfectly appropriate.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yep, I was imagining much the same thing happening. It happened to a couple of people at my old job after I left.

      If it does happen, I recommend taking that time off (if you can afford it) to rest, relax, and recuperate so that you can start at your new job fresh and energized.

    2. AlwhoisThatAl*

      OP2 – Also you’ve only worked there 5 months? Say 22 weeks? To give 2 weeks notice is 11% of the total time you have worked there! In the UK it’s normally 1 weeks notice if you’re still on probation for 6 months.
      And the “dreadful repercussions” people go on about by leaving early, only apply if you are getting a reference or are going into exactly the same sector of business. And is a future boss going to really care that you gave only a weeks notice after being 5 MONTHS in a job? I’d think better of you for knowing it was a poor fit and leaving quickly rather than following what is a bad norm in this case.
      Plus of course you can be fired immediately that second but you should still give them 2 weeks?

  20. ThatgirlK*

    #1- all I can say is that I commiserate with you. I am Greek, so I tend to get overly expressive when talking. This can really amp up if I have had a few drinks or I am with really good friends and family. This has happened to me too, where people have told me to calm down or relax. It really ticks me off and then makes me very conscious. So sorry this is happening!

  21. I should really pick a name*

    You’ve got a very unrealistic view about why people apply to jobs.

    Most people aren’t only applying to restaurants whose food they like, yoga studios whose vibe they like, or software companies whose products they like.

    They are applying to jobs that they are qualified for so they can make enough money to live.
    And those people often perform well in those jobs. They don’t need prior experience with the specific business to be strong employees.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      In most things, people’s lives follow their jobs, not vice versa. If I’m trying to get a teaching job in a different city, I’m not going to move to that city, enroll my kids in that school district, and then apply for the job. I’m trying to figure out how LW’s philosophy/policy could apply to other jobs and I’m coming up blank.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I totally understand how this thinking happens but – yeah. This specific studio is your life’s passion but that’s unreasonable to expect of someone I assume you’re planning to pay hourly and probably less than full time. It might be more reasonable if you were looking for a co-owner who would have full equity in the business, for example. (I see this all the time because I work in the foundations field and every funder believes their request for proposals is the only one nonprofits are working on, and that everybody is very thoughtfully reacting to the requirements with lots of meetings etc. But on the nonprofit side, none of these pots of money are enough to like, start a whole new program over, and since the chances are pretty slim, they need to fit easily into existing priorities and probably other applications you’ve already written).

    3. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

      I get so tired of this idea of pretending we’re not working for the money. I mean, yes, interest in the job is a good thing, and you should know at least a bit about the company, but some employers expect a weird level of over-investment. No, it is not my lifelong dream to file TPS reports and curse at the printer all day.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think certain fields like nonprofits and hobby-adjacent careers that seem “fun” – or maybe stuff with animals – there’s an unspoken assumption that people aren’t going to be working part time for the money (since it’s not that much money and there’s presumably more lucrative options out there), but out of love / joy. However, few of these jobs go out of their way to ensure the role is joyful, and are in fact going to have very work-like expectations around, say, start time and customer service, so it’s best to put that out of your head when hiring.

      2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

        Ah yes, the ol’ “I’ve always had a passion for frozen yogurt” meme.

  22. DrSalty*

    LW #1 — not that it changes the advice at all, but I wonder if your coworker has had a bad experience previously with someone who really was out of control angry or freaking out all the time and is now hypersensitive. Again, this wouldn’t change the advice or make it less annoying!

    1. Ki,*

      Came here to say this. Sounds like maybe she has dealth with abusive parents/partner before and now feels she has to de-escalate constantly. That does not mean it isn’t annoying, but it may offer some perspective.
      Maybe try to explain once and then ask her to stop? You don’t have to inquire about her life story, but it might help you both.

    2. alienor*

      I was thinking this as well. If she comes from a situation where loud voices and intense emotions mean someone is in big trouble and/or about to get hit/punished, she may be reacting to that without meaning to. That shouldn’t put the responsibility on LW to change how they are, but it might be less frustrating to know it wasn’t personal.

      1. I have RBF*

        I’ve encountered people like this. Anything super expressive that might possibly be anger has them reacting like a scared rabbit.

        But, it’s still a “them problem”, not a “you problem”. Yes, they need therapy. Yes, I try to tone it down around people that I know have this problem, but it’s still a “them” problem that they are often in actual therapy for.

        In short, I try to accommodate their issues, but not at the expense of being able to communicate with any expression.

    3. Katy*

      Yeah, it might be an instinctive emotional reaction that she’s not dealing with very well.

      I did this to a friend once, and I still feel bad about it. I have a friend who laughs when she’s shy or nervous, and for the first few weeks I knew her, she reacted to a lot of things people said with laughter because she was in a new environment. I think I knew on some level that it was a nervous tic and she didn’t mean anything by it, but it made me uncomfortable because I’m really sensitive to being laughed at. Anyway, one day it happened and I asked her what was funny about what I’d said, and she instantly apologized and I felt terrible.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I have a very strong startle reflex, and I have to confess that being around people who are loud, make exaggerated gestures, and are always “on” make me really uncomfortable. I wasn’t physically abused, but I am hypersensitive to that sort of behavior, and it makes me start looking for a graceful exit. However, I know this about myself and would not say anything to the person unless I also noticed it was irritating other people. The fact that LW1 has checked in with other coworkers on how she’s coming across would lead me to believe that Alison’s scripts might be in order for this one person.

  23. Marjoram*

    reading letter writer number ones question makes me wonder if that person who is constantly trying to calm someone else who is excitable, as a childhood history of overly loud parental fighting or something else and their attempts to calm someone exhibiting that type of behavior is a lingering trauma response. I’m assuming she doesn’t like your excitability anymore than you like her shushing you. it might be worth a conversation to see if the two of you can come to a happy medium where you can both adjust to each other without one triggering the other.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I’m not sure how speculating about the coworker’s background this much affects the advice.

      1. Marjoram*

        It doesn’t, a conversation is still in order, but the conversation can be snapped by someone who is annoyed, or approached by someone who is ready to be compassionate if needed. LW1 is thinking of this person as a pain in the butt when the person might have very hard to change reasons driving while they are like this.

    2. PinkCandyfloss*

      To be honest I came here to say the same thing. That person trying to calm someone down who is gesticulating a lot or raising their voice, it’s a hallmark of a child raised in a chaotic or unstable environment and can be a form of PTSD, the fawn part of fight flight freeze fawn… LW1’s behavior could be triggering an automatic response they aren’t even really conscious about doing … of course it also could just be someone whose politeness is overstepping boundaries and a simple conversation like Allison suggested could be enough. But I would approach the conversation from a place of compassion rather than annoyance, if at all possible. You never know what someone else has been through.

    3. E*

      ” I’m assuming she doesn’t like your excitability anymore than you like her shushing you.”

      This is exactly where I landed, too.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I’m assuming she doesn’t like your excitability anymore than you like her shushing you. it might be worth a conversation to see if the two of you can come to a happy medium where you can both adjust to each other without one triggering the other.

      This. Can y’all talk it out like adults?

      The thing is, coworkers have to “live” with you every day, so I think their feelings do, in fact, need to rate in how you act at work. If you’re staying on Eleven even when you’re not interacting with clients, yeah, it’s not unreasonable for your coworkers to ask you to dial it back.

      I find work a lot easier when I can play music (quietly, of course), but I don’t if I’m sharing the workspace with someone else because they can’t escape until the project is done.

      1. Pink Candyfloss*

        I agree with you – I would find a co-worker who is this OTT to be exhausting, and while I would not tell them to “calm down” I would be thinking it quite a lot, if I could not simply avoid being around them. I work in a quiet professional environment where a loud, expressive co-worker would stand out – and not in a good way.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Kind of same – exuberant people tend to put me on edge. I wouldn’t say anything, but it’s too much.

    5. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah whether it’s a trauma response or even simply a preference, this would be a LOT in a job where the culture and environment don’t lend to it. A loud voice on its own could be an issue, so it could very well be that the coworker responds to the face as a precursor to expecting noise and excitement and tries to cut it off at the pass.

      It’s also worth noting that if someone does have an issue with this they might not be comfortable telling you to your face, so having polled your other coworkers doesn’t automatically mean it’s just this person.

      I get that being told your personality is a problem sucks, but you’re kind of saying the same thing back, so you two should find an agreement.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        I disagree strongly with your last paragraph on two counts. First, telling people to calm down when you don’t know their actual emotional state isn’t a personality trait. Second, there’s no good equivalency between incorrectly reading and reacting to a coworker’s emotional state (over and over), an active behavior directed at someone else, and simply being expressive, a passive behavior that is not directed at anyone and which no one else has taken issue with.

        1. Silver Robin*

          Agreed. Yes, energy levels should adjust to the context. If LW1’s “chill” is a 7 while coworker’s “chill” is a 3, that is just something coworker needs to figure out how to adjust to. But if LW1 is always at their “on” of 10 while coworker shifts between 9 and 3 depending on the situation, it can absolutely be grating and frustrating.

          HOWEVER that is not actually what is happening! Coworker is *misinterpreting and then attempting to manage LW1’s emotions*. This is not okay and they need to step back. It does not matter if the reason they are doing that is trauma, or an inability to understand how anyone’s “chill” can be a 7, or whatever. They need to stop trying to manage LW1’s emotions.

          Once they come to an agreement that the emotion management will stop, the two of them can talk about how to better navigate each other’s energy levels etc.

          p.s. love the name!

          1. Pink Candyfloss*

            The issue is that they may not easily be able t just stop attempting to manage LW1’s emotions – which is where the needed conversation comes in.

            If the person is just easily annoyed and can make a simple effort to stop, great.

            If the person is neurodivergent and has difficulty reading others, or the person has a history of loud = bad ingrained in them as an autonomic/limbic response since childhood, stopping may take a lot more effort and they may need a grace period. Even maybe additional resources, counseling etc that help them re-align their response to this type of person in a workplace context. It isn’t fair to assume that the person is just being a jerk. There could be context around their reaction that LW1 isn’t aware of and might change LW1’s approach if they learn it.

            In either or any case, LW1 and the person need to have a mature, professional, non-emotional conversation about where each of them is coming from, and find some middle ground that works for both of them to have a workplace that is comfortable for them and doesn’t require either of them to take the brunt of change alone.

            1. Critical Rolls*

              I agree that a conversation needs to take place. But I disagree that the LW should approach it assuming that her coworker is neurodivergent or having a trauma response, because those are both incredibly personal and wild speculation. The coworker will, in fact, probably need to do the changing because they are the one doing something wrong, namely policing expressiveness that is not bothering anyone else. Would you consider it reasonable if coworker was asking LW to be more expressive because her RBF made her anxious, or would that be up to coworker to manage? LW can choose to try and dial it back, but if no one else is having an issue, asking LW to stifle her natural mannerisms 100% of the time is actually a really big ask.

              1. I have RBF*

                Yeah, trauma response or not, trying to “manage” her coworkers supposed (but not actually correct) emotions is not appropriate. She needs to get therapy and stay out of trying to police someone else’s expressions and/or supposed emotions.

                In general, they are only responsible for their own reactions/emotions. It’s not their job to try to manage a coworker’s emotions or expressions. (Yes, they might need to do some of this with irate customers in some situations.)

              2. Kit*

                > Would you consider it reasonable if coworker was asking LW to be more expressive because her RBF made her anxious, or would that be up to coworker to manage?

                Similarly, I’m pretty sure this comment section knows full well that telling women to smile more, they’d be so pretty if they smiled… is obnoxious overreach.

                This one coworker is the only one who reacts in this way, and her reactions are her own to manage; she needs to know clearly that her responses are inappropriate and incredibly patronizing, and granting a grace period where LW reminds her ‘hey, this isn’t okay, you’re doing the thing’ might be necessary but it is fundamentally on coworker to stop doing the thing.

    6. Emmy Noether*

      . I’m assuming she doesn’t like your excitability anymore than you like her shushing you.

      That’s not the same though. LW isn’t exciteable at the coworker, that’s just LW’s natural way of talking. Coworker is definitely doing the shushing at LW. Plenty of ways people talk get on my nerves (too loud, too quiet, too high-pitched, too slow, too flat,…), doesn’t mean I get to tell them to be different, as long as I can understand them fine.

      1. I have RBF*

        I will ask a random person who is being too loud for the environment to “please speak more quietly, the volume hurts my ears.” But I won’t try to tell them what their emotions are or try to modify that – it’s not my place. Comments on volume and clarity, especially on video calls, are more comments on the tech than the person.

    7. abca*

      Disagreeing with the suggestion to talk and find a happy medium where both people adjust. The LW says the coworker tells her to calm just based on facial expression! If someone cannot handle people showing reactions silently, that’s really on them to resolve, and that puts everything else in context too.

      If the coworkers reactions do not happen to stem from trauma, but from internalized sexism, where they have learned that women should be quiet and pleasant at all times and definitely not make any fuss, then having a conversation to “both adjust to each other” so LW can be more of the kind of women that the coworker expects women should be would be the worst thing to do.

  24. SaffyTaffy*

    OP#1, I have an acquaintance like this! And hopefully, dealing with it really should be as simple as Alison describes.
    I think anyone (any woman?) with an expressive personality has been told a few thousand times, explicitly or implicitly, that they’re too much. It’s even been thrown around with confidence on AAM that the phrase ‘big personality’ is a euphemism for being unbearable. But you sound like you know this is working for you!
    In my experience, I had a quiet sit-down with the person who was misreading me, and it turned out to be entirely his baggage around 1) not liking fat women, and 2) associating emotional speech with violence. So, nothing to do with me, actually. And he’s never going to be my close buddy, but we can see each other at reunions or on Zoom and be cordial. So: address it. And good luck!

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Though I have met my share of big men who get misread as intimidating just because of their size, I do think the “calm down” nonsense happens to women far more than to men. I have been told to calm down just because I was disagreeing with a male coworker. Simply saying “I think it would be better to do this other thing instead” would be met with “No need to get all upset.” Meanwhile, male employees who actually yell at people to the point that veins are standing out on their foreheads are “passionate about the work.” It’s exhausting.

      1. I have RBF*

        … I do think the “calm down” nonsense happens to women far more than to men.

        Absolutely. Even if I’m positive and happy about something I get told to “calm down”. If I’m complaining about something, being ignored or talked over, and then repeat myself more forcefully? “Calm down RBF, it’s not that bad.” Yes, it is, you clueless mook, you just aren’t listening to me, at all, because I have boobs.

        Most of my career has been in male dominated fields. Places where this happens repeatedly tend to be places that I leave.

    2. Here for the Insurance*

      I think these kind of responses are almost always about the other person and not the one doing the expressing. In some ways, I don’t think the expressee even really sees the expresser, they only react to them and project their stuff onto them.

  25. Ellis Bell*

    If I was in LW’s position I would probably go with a couple of options:
    1) Puzzled expression, stop dead in tracks, head tilt and a “Why are you saying that? Is something upsetting you?”
    2) Short laugh and say “Oh, I am just being expressive; what did you think was happening?”
    3) “Huh, this is a really odd question, but you’ve asked me to calm down a few times out of the blue, what is going there?”

  26. Gemstones*

    For LW#1… What 9-5 job “requires” you to emote all day long…I get that people have quirks, etc., but I just don’t see why it would make you better at your job. It does seem a little distracting.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Did you see bamcheeks’ comment up above? I was puzzled, too, but those ideas make a lot of sense to me.

    2. PercyJackson*

      Another commenter (bamcheeks) speculated primary school teacher or nurse who needs to provide emotional support, which LW#1 confirmed was close. In the letter, they say this emoting is what makes them good at their main job. I would trust them on that, and remember that not all jobs look like a traditional office job. There are some jobs where emoting would be really beneficial. It’s not for us to judge if it would be distracting based on our own assumptions.

  27. Silver Robin*

    yeah, the in-person only bit stood out to me too for the same reasons…

    I do think LW3 is taking some of the language too seriously, but I kind of get being thrown by folks giving reasons for wanting to work somewhere that seem like things one would only really be able to say if one had visited the business.

    LW3 did not say “waiters have to try the restaurant”, they said “it is weird to gush about the menu if you have never actually tried the food”. That is a less presumptuous stance. The issue is still that LW3 has no idea how applying to job works from the applicant side and they need to chill and see the fluff for the fluff it is. Applicants are probably looking at the website photos, about page, and maybe reviews online and making a guess about the culture. Totally reasonable.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I’ve definitely been excited about businesses (as a potential customer) purely from their social media accounts. I don’t need to be somewhere in person to recognise things that are special about it. As other comments have said, a yoga studio is a yoga studio, physically. The stuff that distinguishes it isn’t inherent in the bricks.

  28. straws*

    OP#4 – Is there a way that the requests can be corralled such that you can address them at a set time? I use ticketing systems for my job, but even just an email folder+filter for people associated with the org could do the trick. You can then let them know that they can send requests to their heart’s content, but that you’ll only have 1-2 hours at 7pm to address anything they’ve sent, or 3-4 hours on Saturday, or whatever works best for you. That way you’re both on the same page, they know their questions will be addressed and a loose timeframe of when, and you can only worry about your volunteer work at the times you’ve designated to go through what’s in the folder.

    1. LW#4*

      I actually just started doing this exact thing a few weeks back — specifically for focused work. (I’m still taking some meetings with external partners outside of that.)

      Not only has it really helped cut down on the ambient feeling that I’m a regular employee — it’s also really made it clear that the time we have for the work we need done isn’t sufficient. They’re now looking to hire another person, and to start paying me for a portion of my work.

      Thanks for your advice!

  29. BBB*

    two weeks notice is a courtesy, not a requirement. don’t feel obligated to give a crappy job/boss a courtesy they don’t deserve. only play that game if you really need that reference. otherwise, get that offer in writing before you give notice and if that means less than two weeks… so what?
    I gave 4 days notice to my last job. not because I wanted to be a jerk (though they definitely did not deserve the courtesy of notice), but because that’s the start date my new job wanted to align better with payroll. the kicker? I didn’t even leave the company, just moved to a different department lol
    did that burn a bridge with my old boss?
    do I care?
    absolutely not.
    because I’d go back to waiting tables before I’d work under that boss again. unpopular opinion, but burning bridges is not always a bad thing. some bridges should be burned for your own sanity.
    It was the right move for me and my career and I do not regret it for a moment.

  30. Colette*

    #3 – one more thing to consider is that expecting front of house staff to take a yoga class could mean illegal discrimintaion. Some people can’t do a yoga class due for medical reasons. Others can’t due to other responsibilities. It’s not a reasonable expectation. You will presumably have them come in if you interview them – that’s your opportunity to introduce them to the location.

    1. Hi, I’m Troy McClure*

      I’ve been musing a lot lately on how over-complicated job applications could possibly be discriminatory. It’s not really enough to slap on an “if you need accommodation, let us know” notice at the bottom of your ad. Ideally, I would like to see hiring managers really reflect on who they are excluding in the hiring process (and I know many do!), by the very way it’s set up. I know that no process will be perfect, but adding on tons of extra steps won’t help. Think of workers with chronic illness, people who are already full time employed or more, people with families, etc.

  31. JustKnope*

    She is running a business, not an essential service. It’s fine that she doesn’t offer virtual classes. There is PLENTY of yoga on the internet.

  32. Dust Bunny*

    just a loud voice, expressive face, etc. In my 9-5 job, this is required. I over-emote all day long to support the people around me.

    I see that I’m in the minority here but honestly this sounds exhausting.

    Do you know for a fact that everyone feels supported, or is this one killjoy just the only one who isn’t too polite/intimidated/worn down to ask you to take it down a notch?

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      LW1 said they asked the other coworkers at their second job and no one else said they had a problem with their personality. (If they do have a problem with it but didn’t speak up, that’s not LW’s issue to solve.)

      Since they say it’s a requirement of their 9-5 job, we ought to take them at their word that it really is necessary for that.

      And FWIW I’m with you in that I find very expressive people exhausting.

      1. STG*

        I mean sure but the second job which doesn’t require the same level of expressiveness so I’m not sure why it matters that the first does.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        “If they do have a problem with it but didn’t speak up, that’s not LW’s issue to solve.”

        Not to solve, absolutely, but I also wouldn’t take it as an absolute confirmation that this one coworker is a killjoy and a problem. A lot of people wouldn’t be comfortable giving someone this feedback.

    2. Jenny Linsky*

      I wondered about this too. I’ve known people who tended to react very strongly to everything, and I found it exhausting. Yes, the OP may truly not be upset (and I understand how annoying it is to feel like someone is misinterpreting how you feel!) but at the same time if they’re reacting dramatically to small issues, someone may be subtly trying to ask them to tone it down.

      1. Dr. Vibrissae*

        Jumping to ’emotionally coaching me off the ledge — “deep breath, it’s okay, we’ll figure it out” doesn’t sound like ‘subtly asking to tone it down” to me, it sounds patronizing and I (a generally quiet person) would have the urge to slap someone who said that to me if we did not have a generally more intimate relationship. You ask some one to tone it down by using words like “Hey, you may not realize you’re being loud, would you mind toning it down?”

        A lot of people are getting hung up on the idea that LW1 is too loud, but she specifically says this happens in response to *facial expressions*, before she has even said a word. She should absolutely not have to constantly police her facial responses to avoid one person’s overreaching comments. I’d suggest she address it first by asking “It seems like you may think I’m more upset than I really am sometimes. I just want you to know that I have a very expressive face, but you don’t have to worry that I’m going to freak out over minor things.” And follow- that up with reminders in the moment if it keeps happening.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I find it curious that the emotion is required for the first job, yet the second job is where the problems come up. I wonder if the LW should make some effort to tone it down for the second job. I’m thinking like, if the first job is coaching cheerleading and the second job is working in a library, those are two VERY different environments. I say this as someone who gets loud, talks with her hands all the time, and has a very expressive face (candid photos of me are usually terrible because my face is all scrunched up).

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you know for a fact that everyone who interacts with you in your work finds your affect to be ideal to the job?

      I’m guessing you couldn’t provide signed affidavits.

  33. The one who wears too much black*

    #5 – you could try talking to your local community college to pick up a post-baccalaureate class for credit. If there is a professor that is willing to take on the class with you, then that solves your problem of not being able to get credit. I did this and was able to do an amazing internship the summer after I graduated college. Was it a perfect situation? No, but it worked for me because I needed this particular internship to apply for a graduate program, and I hadn’t been able to make that work while I was a student.

    1. This Old House*

      Taking a single class, even for credit, probably wouldn’t qualify them as a “degree-seeking” student. Either the internship program is strict about that requirement, in which case you’d need to embark on actually getting another degree to be eligible, or they’re not, in which case you probably don’t need to bother enrolling in a course and could just apply.

      1. The one who wears too much black*

        I hear what you are saying, but sometimes “degree-seeking” is pretty loosely defined and actually means “capable of receiving college credit.” It’s worth finding out on the letter-writer’s part.

  34. JustMe*

    LW 5 – I work for a university doing work related to student career stuff, including work for a sports management program. It’s not totally uncommon for recent grads to do internships immediately after graduation, although it’s more typical in some industries than in others. You may have more leeway if you’d recently graduated from a related field, but it’s extremely important to keep in mind that the internships are intended for students to get experience *in their field of study.* In the sports management/administration area, internships are sometimes required for graduation, and as it’s a field that many people want to get into, sometimes the internship means the difference between finding a job in their field after graduation and not. As a result, the internships can be EXTREMELY competitive. As amazing as the internship is, you must keep in mind that it’s intended for students who are studying in the field full-time and intend to work full-time in the field after graduation. If you are in the US, that internship could be the only opportunity that international students at the nearby university have to work off-campus in their area of study. Please just leave this one for the college students–other opportunities will come along.

    1. Colette*

      If the people offering the internship want it to go to someone in that field of study, they can choose someone in that field of study. I don’t agree that the OP should withdraw because someone may want it more; she should apply if she wants, and if it’s truly not intended for her, she won’t be selected. Don’t pull yourself out of contention, because there will always be someone who wants or needs that job/opportunity more than you.

      1. jj*

        Agreed. I commented above as well, but people who want LW 5 to recuse themselves because other people need/deserve it more makes no sense to me. There is no logical bottom to that kind of thinking – I recently applied for an artist grant. I am by no means wealthy. I am not the poorest person I’ve ever met. If I had to guess if people more broke than me were also applying and I should step back…like, how could I do that? I am trusting the selection committee to have criteria they apply fairly. An applicant’s job is to be honest and not pretend to have experiences, needs, oppressions, or skills they don’t have. If you have reason to believe you were picked over someone more deserving for something like racism, or sexism, yes absolutely backing out of an opportunity is warranted. But there is no indication anything like that is at risk for LW 5, and so the folks telling them not to apply just seems ridiculous to me.

        1. Moonstone*

          I absolutely agree with you jj. I think it is absurd that people are telling LW5 to not apply because some college student needs the experience more. The internship is with a sports team; I would imagine a lot of people will apply for it and only one will be chosen. If LW applies and gets it, then obviously the team thinks LW is the best person for the internship. Leave it to the organization to decide who to hire. But I don’t see any reason for the LW not to try; nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.

  35. silly little public health worker*

    LW 1 – no advice but i’m a movie-typical Jew and I’ve had this issue before too!! i’m not anxious, that’s just my face! one thing that i think might be happening is a cultural difference that isn’t obvious to the person who’s misreading you. i don’t know what to do with that personally when it happens to me but it helps for me to understand why this person is so off-base. Jews talk with our hands, we interrupt each other (collaborative overlap!), we make A Lot of Sounds – it helps me to understand Why I’m Like This and feel less like it requires changing if there’s nothing that’s actually impacting anyone else’s ability to exist comfortably or get things done.

  36. Come On Eileen*

    I am picturing LW #1 as Melissa from Abbott Elementary and I understood her concern PERFECTLY.

  37. A Pound of Obscure*

    The concerned coworker in #1 probably needs to find another job because she is probably introverted and drama-averse. I get it. Working with a coworker who “over-emotes” would be utterly exhausting and stressful to me. Yes, I agree that you should be able to explain to her that she doesn’t need to mitigate your emotions, and she should learn to ignore your, um, expressiveness. You say over-emoting is necessary in your main job, but is it really so necessary in your second job? If it isn’t, maybe you could try to see things from her perspective and dial it back, juuust a little…?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t know why the coworker would need to find another job because one of her coworkers bugs her. This second job doesn’t seem like being introverted or drama averse is an issue. LW’s energy just overwhelms her. I think we’ve all had coworkers we don’t vibe with.

    2. Colette*

      If you look for a new job every time one of your coworkers bugs you, you’re going to have a pretty spotty job history.

    3. Avril Ludgateaux*

      Wait, I’m introverted and also extremely expressive. What do the two have to do with each other? I find socializing to be energy-draining rather than invigorating, probably in no small part due to how much I “emote,” now that I think about it.

      I am torn on OP1 because the last time this came up (see the linked posted in the original answer), I got the distinct impression that the colleague was engaging in some manipulative/gas-light-y mind-game tactics against that OP. In this case, the OP has admitted that they are A Lot (TM), so I am less inclined to think that their colleague is exaggerating or messing with them. And at the same time, I think policing somebody’s self-expression is rarely acceptable. But maybe OP’s colleague sincerely is not used to overt, unfettered displays of emotion and is legitimately concerned whenever OP has a big reaction.

      … Anyway, this has nothing to do with introversion!

    4. Irish Teacher.*

      My impression of the co-worker was kinda the opposite. I sort of thought they might well be somebody who loves drama and is therefore subconsciously interpreting the LW’s reactions in the most dramatic way possible. LW is loud and enthusiastic and expresses their views for everybody to hear…nothing really dramatic in that. LW is really stressed and upset and possibly at risk of a panic-attack and needs concerned coworker to act as an amateur therapist and teach them to deal with the stresses of life…now, there’s drama.

      I mean, it’s not the only explanation, but they do seem to be creating drama here, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were somebody who enjoyed a crisis and being the one to “solve” it and are therefore looking for crises even when they don’t exist.

  38. Iris West-Allen*

    I can sympathize with LW1. My situation is the opposite though. I’m a naturally quiet person, so if I’m talking and my voice raises even slightly in pitch, one of my coworkers decides that I’m Deeply Upset and must be calmed at all costs. I’m already an anxious overthinker. I don’t have the energy to make sure all my unconscious actions are pleasing to this coworker!

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      same here! I can be quiet but talkative when I’m with people I know, and I have a higher-pitched voice( think Bernadett from the Big Bang Theory). But some times I get really excited about something and I talk louder or faster, use my hands more. And people think I’m upset. Or on the flip side when I worked at a call center I got in trouble for “being angry with the customers” when I was just trying to sound more stern so people wouldn’t try and walk over me.

  39. yala*

    OP1 ….ooooooh, that is SO frustrating. And the worst thing is, it’s hard to express that in the moment, because now you look “un-calm.” (I really do think “calm down” are the two most useless words in the English language)

    It might even be worth it to speak to her separate from an incident, to avoid any chance of looking “agitated.”

    1. LondonLady*

      Very annoying, patronising and actually can be quite gendered/racist depending on the context.

      Have you tried countering with a “what do you mean?” or even “I’m fine, but are you ok?”.

      If what they are trying to convey is “Your style is too loud for my comfort” then they need to either say so or put up with it. That’s what adults do.

    2. I have RBF*

      (I really do think “calm down” are the two most useless words in the English language)

      This. If someone tells me to “calm down”, they have just made sure I won’t, because that is one of those directives/commands that will get my hackles up. It’s sexist, infantilizing, and demeaning. Plus, it conveys that the other person thinks that they have the right to dictate my emotions. Sorry, but no. It brings out the oppositional, defiant part of my personality that I try so hard to keep a leash on, like gasoline fumes and a lit match.

  40. Hiring Mgr*

    I’m sure you didn’t mean it like this, but when I think of “movie typical Italian telling a story”, first thing that came to mind was Joe Pesci in Goodfellas…. I don’t think I’d want that guy around the break room. :)

    1. SaffyTaffy*

      Okay, so stay out of the break room when Joey’s telling his stories. Don’t try to turn Joey into Audrey Hepburn.

        1. SaffyTaffy*

          Exactly. Let Joey be who he is, as long as he’s professional and gets his job done. If it’s not to your taste, it’s on you to be professional about that and leave him be.

  41. Seashell*

    I wonder if OP#1 asked other people who would actually feel comfortable saying, “Yeah, you’re overly dramatic.”

    Either way, it probably wouldn’t kill you to take it down a notch or two around this co-worker. You probably don’t behave the same at church as you do during a night at home with your friends, so you’re able to modulate your behavior.

    1. Boof*

      But i do think it’s pretty rude for someone else to not also adapt and stop telling their coworker to calm down (presuming coworker is not, like, yelling/snarling/swearing/insulting)

    2. Critical Rolls*

      I doubt someone who is repeatedly telling a coworker who says they’re fine to calm down is going to be satisfied by “toning down.”

      Also, I find it exhausting how often I see variations of “but what if they’re not telling you how they actually feel!” as a pretext for telling a LW what the commenter wants them to do. Sometimes there’s a legit power dynamic the LW should think about, but so many times there isn’t, and commenters think the LW A) can’t tell when people are blowing smoke, and B) should be expected to always account for they people they talk to being dishonest and psychically determine their true feelings. If LW says, “does this bother you?” and the coworkers say, “no,” that’s it! That’s the conversation, and LW can and should take people at their word!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I find it exhausting how often I see variations of “but what if they’re not telling you how they actually feel!” as a pretext for telling a LW what the commenter wants them to do.

        Yes, this. We are asked to take LWs at their word. If LW says that none of their other coworkers have an issue with this, then that’s the information we are expected to work with, and not create some weird fan-fiction where LW is going around asking only the people they know will give them the answer they want.

      2. Silver Robin*

        Honestly! Are we supposed to go around assuming everything we do that might annoy a given person is annoying everyone else? If we ask and are told we are fine, but assume that person is lying, then why even ask???

        Yes, yes, I know there is ask vs guess culture, high context vs low context, and all sorts of conventions around being polite that vary among and within cultures, but if a person asks for feedback and then is not given true feedback, how in the world is the asker supposed to adjust appropriately?

    3. Samwise*

      The coworker is policing OP 1’s **face**.

      As the female owner of a RBF (eh, men never get accused of RBF), lemme tell you, this sort of policing is BS. I don’t care what someone else’s reasons are for telling me “wow, are you mad?” “calm down!” (and I’m not an all-day emoter, although I’m somewhat loud and very expressive), “c’mon smile!” “whoa whoa whoa, what did I say to piss you off?” and my very favoraite, “you’d look more attractive if you didn’t frown” (hey, azz-hole, I *am* attractive but no worries, I’m not going to try to get in *your* pants)

      Arrrrgghhhhh. I can’t believe the commentary on this one.

      The co-worker needs to back the hell off.

      The OP needs to just be herself within professional limits. If emoting means lots of swearing, then cool it. If it means interrupting others or bulldozing thru conversations, then stop that. If she’s talking too loudly for the office, then turn down the volume, that’s only polite. But she does NOT need to worry about “toning down” HER FACE.


      1. KatieP*

        Came her to say this. In OldOld(Toxic)Job, I had people regularly (one group in particular) that would pop in while I was in a flow state, working on a project, and ask what I was mad about. Mad? What? This is just my completely neutral face. Auditing fire department payroll doesn’t fill me with enough joy to grin like an idiot, thank you.

        Then people started making veiled references to it in my 360-degree evaluations. “KatieP is always mad,” etc. That naturally influenced my official evaluation.

        LW didn’t mention if they’re a PoC, and feel free to delete my comment if this observation is inappropriate – it’s pretty well-documented that the, “over-emoter,” label is more likely to be applied to a PoC. If LW is a PoC, that puts a whole different spin on their colleague’s behavior.

      2. I have RBF*


        FFS, the person is trying to “manage” her emotions based on her face, before she even opens her mouth!

        Plus, if she’s in a conversation with a bunch of other people who talk over her or interrupting her, she needs to do the same to hold her own! This cultural shit about how women need to be quiet and pleasant all the time needs to die off. Life isn’t all quiet little tea parties where nothing of importance is discussed, so everyone should just wear a vapid smile and talk dispassionately about the weather.

        Also, I never seem to see men in this situation – it’s always women and AFAB folks who get their emotions “managed” based on their face or their voice.

    4. Worried*

      Thank you…I was having a lot of trouble seeing so much support for OP#1. Why are we so quick to assume that OP#1 is representing the situation accurately. I’ve had abusive coworkers who would tell everyone who didn’t know better how easygoing they were to work with. I worry that OP’s clear refusal to adjust in any way is a red flag that’s been overlooked.

      1. Kit*

        Um, because the commenting rules literally tell us to take LWs at their word?

        LW1 has asked other coworkers, who do not react to her as if she needs to be talked off a ledge, for a vibe check, and they’ve said no, it’s just this one coworker. It’s possible that she has somehow misrepresented the situation, but given that this coworker has apparently reacted this way to LW1’s shocked Pikachu face, both the simplest explanation and the most charitable to the LW are that this coworker feels a need to police LW1’s expressions, and that the coworker needs to stop doing that.

        Also, coming not just to other coworkers but to AAM for a gut-check is the opposite of a clear refusal to adjust, and painting LW1 as abusive is really unnecessary.

        1. Worried*

          I did no such thing, but rather shared my experiences with people who aren’t accurately self-reporting. I’d be less sensitive about this sort of thing if I hadn’t gone through a protracted conflict with a volatile and abusive coworker who was ultimately disciplined. He was fond of saying “it’s her problem”, too.

  42. Robin*

    LW1 Your over-emoting and everything clearly work wonders in your main job–but your main job isn’t the one telling you obliquely that it’s too much. That’s the second job. I don’t see what the huge deal is with toning things down and emoting on a regular level for a different job. We all have different “faces” for different situations, I would simply lean into something more low key for the night job. You don’t have to stop being you, just like…modulate. (Also, if it’s a night job, I for one would find someone who’s super! peppy! and loud! all the time! genuinely exhausting; something to consider,)

    1. anononanon*

      Per the LW: “To note, no one else responds the way that she does or feels I’m overreacting at all, I’ve checked.”

      It’s ONE person who has the issue and is commenting inappropriately and the LW asked for a way to professionally shut them down. Not sure why that would require the LW to change who they are.

        1. Kit*

          Both you and LW1’s coworker appear to be catastrophizing LW’s expressiveness; LW1 is not making faces at her coworker, coworker is seeing them and jumping immediately into damage-mitigation when there is no actual damage to be mitigated! It’s possible that LW1 might be unknowingly pushing trauma buttons for the coworker, but it is still on that coworker to recognize and articulate that so they can work through it, not on LW1 to try and cram her natural and learned expressiveness into a box lest she be Too Much.

          And please stop assuming that all their other coworkers are intimidated into silence or compliance; there’s nothing to support that hypothesis except your assumption that LW1 must be somehow abusive and have brought this coworker’s actions on herself. We’ve seen letters where it was clear that a LW was to blame; this doesn’t read that way.

    2. Hudson*

      I’m also a movie-typical Italian-American, and I will say that I can tone it down in certain situations, but some of the true personality is inevitably going to slip through. It’s not a “huge deal” but it’s not something that’s going to work all the time, and in my case, even my toned down personality is still a bit bigger than some of my coworkers natural personalities. And it’s not the whole second job that’s telling LW they’re too much, but just one coworker, who may clash with the LW regardless.

  43. HonorBox*

    OP4 – I agree that a conversation with your supervisor is in order. Explain to them that you’re volunteering and these requests seem to be out of line. You are a volunteer and can, within reason, set a schedule that works for you around your full-time job. If you’re getting daily meeting requests and doing onboarding for staff, that is definitely more than the org should expect from a volunteer.
    Outline those requests that seem to be outside of what you initially signed on to do and share those with the supervisor. And then perhaps shoot your shot if you’d be interested in coming to work full-time for the org. You’re doing work that is generally done by paid employees, so you could make your case for the org bringing you on in a paid capacity, perhaps even full time.

    1. LW#4*

      Thanks for your advice!

      I actually just wrapped a conversation about joining the org full time, but it’ll be at least a year before they get they could sustain the salary I’d need. However, our new interim ed immediately recognized that having this work being done by a volunteer wasn’t good for anyone involved and is asking me start invoicing them for certain things so they can pay me for my time. Progress!

  44. I should really pick a name*

    Have you considered that the approach you use at your first job might not be as good a fit for your second job?

    Your coworker’s reaction sounds annoying, but it could be worth it to check to see if there’s anything to it.

    1. Dr. Vibrissae*

      But the LW says they did check, and we’re asked to assume that they understand the situation as they present it in the letter. This coworker is making overbearing comments in response to *facial expressions* so often that the LW is asking how to address it, because being told to “take a deep breath and calm down” everytime you grimmace is patronizing and obnoxious. It’s the coworker who needs to tone it down in this situation.

  45. Observer*

    #3 – Yoga studio with job applicants who don’t visit first.

    You do know that this happens to be an environment where employers are still having a bit of a hard time hiring and retaining good staff? Why would you even consider screening out people who are too busy to visit every place that they apply to before they even apply?

    Beyond that, realize that even if an applicant has the time, if they see this as a requirement or even an *expectation* in your add, anyone with decent options is going to pass on your position. Because it’s a real red flag that you have unreasonable and unrealistic expectations.

    Now, I realize that this could be the only thing you are unreasonable about. But prospective employees have no way to know that. They have to go on what little information they have and you have just signaled that you have unreasonably high expectations – in a filed that is already rife with unreasonable expectations.

  46. RagingADHD*

    LW2, your comment about the restaurant makes me think you have probably never worked in one.

    Of course the servers, table runners, dishwashers, line cooks, etc. are not eating in every restaurant they apply to. If they do have something to say about the menu posted online, it’s because you can actually tell a lot about what kind of restaurant it is and the clientele they attract based on the dishes they offer and the prices.

    A farm-to-table menu that changes every week has one clientele. Wings and beer has another. And you don’t have to eat there to know it.

    Your teacher applicants can probably deduce a lot about your studio the same way: the neighborhood it’s in, the way you market it, and the reviews online.

  47. alex (they/them)*

    LW1- lol this is giving me flashbacks to my boss referring to me as “””expressive””” during a review.

    1. I have RBF*

      I have been described as “overly passionate” in a review. Yes, I give a shit about my job, why is this a bad thing? I’m not here to serve tea and crumpets you know.

  48. Jane Air Jordans*

    Regarding #3, sometimes with places like yoga studios, gyms, coffee shops, bars, etc., it’s better to have unknown entities apply and work there. Just because someone is a regular and they are a great customer, doesn’t mean they will be good at the job, and it can be dicey to discipline a regular or tell them they didn’t get a job with you.

  49. Empress Matilda*

    LW3, I’m curious how you know if your job applicants have been to your studio in the past. Do you literally check each resume against your class registrations? For what period of time – last week, last month, last six months?

    Do you keep track of every person who comes in for a tour, or has a quick look around while they’re waiting to pick up a friend? (If so, that’s a bit of an overreach in terms of collecting personal information, and I would have a lot more questions about that part…)

    Assuming you have a 100% guaranteed way of knowing if someone has entered your studio before they apply, what kind of percentages are you seeing? If 90% of your applicants have entered the studio in some form, do you need to worry about the 10% who haven’t?

    On the other hand, if only 10% have come in before applying, why do you think that is? Is this a common expectation in your industry or city? (And have you talked to other studio owners to confirm it?) If it’s not something that other studios typically require – it’s not necessarily a bad thing if you do, but it’s very likely your applicants don’t know about it. If it’s really important to you that your applicants have taken a class in the past X period before they apply, you need to tell them ahead of time so they’re prepared.

    1. jj*

      I’m assuming they are just inferring from the CL. Most people wouldn’t write a CL applying for a job at a very small yoga studio and give zero indication they’ve been there before. It’s as simple as “your studio seems like a place I’d really thrive” to “I’ve always loved the atmosphere on your Wednesday morning classes” to “The one time I got to stop in I was impressed by….”. The chances someone applied and didn’t indicate at all that they’ve been there before are slim.

      To be clear – I agree with al the feedback that this LW has unrealistic expectation of their applicants. But, I think your comment is jumping down their throat a bit too much, and some benefit of the doubt in that regard is reasonable.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to jump down their throat – I am genuinely curious. LW3 said the vast majority “have never taken a class or come to the studio in person,” so I’m wondering how they know that for sure. I’m not doubting LW3, just trying to suggest that they should be clear in their own mind about what’s important, and whether they have the right information to measure it.

      2. Martin Blackwood*

        “Your studio seems like a place where id thrive,” is a phrase you can wrire after checking out the vibes on the website/social media. Your other examples are specific enough that yeah itd be weird, but i would not think twice about putting “your company seems like a place where id thrive” on my own cover letter. If OP is interpeting these sort of vague “i like your studio” statements with “what do they know, ive never seen this person before,” maybe thats the problem? I kinda see those “i like your company” statements to be the “hello how are you” social grease of cover letters. Responding literally to those statements isnt the point.

        1. jj*

          That’s actually my point! The your studio *seems* like a place I would thrive *is* my example of what someone who has never been to your business would say. So I think your response pretty well confirms my assumptions? I was giving examples for different scenarios – each one covers something different, never been, been a lot, been one time. And that’s it not hard to tell, the person writing the cover letter will basically broadcast what category they are in.

  50. Mouse mouse*

    coworker over reading reactions strikes a chord with me. I had a coworker who over dramatically described my reaction to everything. it created such an uncomfortable work environment for me. I felt like I couldn’t BREATHE without him jumping all over to “calm me down”

    1. I have RBF*

      Sounds like major sexism and control issues on his part. I would not get along well with this person.

  51. Other Alice*

    #2, in this case you don’t need to give 2 weeks notice, but you should definitely push back if a new job asks you to start so quickly that you don’t have time to give 2 weeks! Of course you would give notice *after* the background check is completed, so the new employer should plan accordingly. A reasonable manager will understand that.

    1. Colette*

      Sometimes hard deadlines are what they are, though. If you’re taking a job on a ship, you need to leave with the ship; if you’re a teacher, you need to start with the school year; if there is training that only happens every 6 months, you either take the training or you don’t have a job for another 6 months (or at all).

  52. jj*

    Agreed. I commented above as well, but people who want LW 5 to recuse themselves because other people need/deserve it more makes no sense to me. There is no logical bottom to that kind of thinking – I recently applied for an artist grant. I am by no means wealthy. I am not the poorest person I’ve ever met. If I had to guess if people more broke than me were also applying and I should step back…like, how could I do that? I am trusting the selection committee to have criteria they apply fairly. An applicant’s job is to be honest and not pretend to have experiences, needs, oppressions, or skills they don’t have. If you have reason to believe you were picked over someone more deserving for something like racism, or sexism, yes absolutely backing out of an opportunity is warranted. But there is no indication anything like that is at risk for LW 5, and so the folks telling them not to apply just seems ridiculous to me.

  53. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    OP4- Volunteer organizations are notorious about this. You need to essentially give your “2 weeks notice”. Determine exactly how many hours a week you are willing to volunteer and what capacity would make the most sense.

    This should not be a leadership capacity if they have paid employees, as both sides should be looking to make volunteer roles have a higher ability to plug in new people on a no-notice basis. Because of your experience perhaps it is a mix of low level tasks and documentation of process for employees.

    Or if there is an aspect that you think will give you good experience, then suggest a limitation to that particular area of interest.

    Sit down with whoever is in charge (or the board if there is a loose structure) and give them a hard and fast date to transition to the new limited responsibilities. And stick to it. You have to be tough or there will be creep.

    1. LW#4*

      Thanks for this!

      Thankfully the new interim ED almost immediately recognized that this wasn’t good for the org or for me, and began taking steps to both formalize the parts of my role I’d like to keep, with pay, and to suss out why so many of these tasks weren’t being handled by paid staff — some of whom will now be getting raises as they take some of these things off my plate.

      1. Rob W*

        Hooray! I added some similar advice about arranging good time-based boundaries before seeing this + OP reply.

        This is great; it’d be such a shame for a valuable volunteer to be accidentally overloaded (& maybe lost) because effective people *do* attract more work naturally.

  54. Rainy*

    #3 made me laugh–do you really expect job-seekers to *pay you* before they apply to your small business? Because that’s what that boils down to! A drop in yoga class in my area costs 20USD. If I’m a certified yoga instructor assembling a living out of teaching two classes here and two classes there and one class on weekends at the Y, I am not paying money to try out all the yoga studios I’m applying to. That’s absurd!

  55. Miaow*


    I worked at a fitness studio where taking a (FREE) class was part of the interview. Maybe you could offer them a free class immediately following the interview chat, if this is important to you.

  56. Lazy Cat's Mom*

    OP #5 – if you’re just looking to get more practice and strengthen sports photography skills, reach out to any local newspapers (if they still exist) and see if they’ll let you cover any high school games for free or cheap pay. Back when I started (a few decades ago), those papers couldn’t cover all the teams and welcomed help. You could even reach out to some high schools and see if they’d want it for their school paper.

  57. Phoebe*

    My daughter could only give a week and a half’s notice for her new job due to the onboarding training schedule. She felt absolutely awful about it, but the old employer’s reaction actually made her feel better about the whole thing once the dust settled.

    Why? The former employer insisted that any notice less than three months was “completely inappropriate and unprofessional” and kept insisting she was owed the name of the new employer, so she could call them and explain that my daughter was still needed and couldn’t start so soon. (!!!!) It was stressful at the time, but also went so far off the deep end that my daughter realized she was not going to win and was just better off in her new job.

  58. 1-800-BrownCow*

    LW #2: If you’ve only been at your job 5 months, don’t be too surprised if they end up letting you go immediately when you give notice. Depends on your involvement at work. But if you’re still in training or only assisting on projects, the company may feel there is no reason for you to work your last week (or 2 weeks if you’re able to get your new company to allow you a 2-week notice period) and tell you your notice is effective immediately.

  59. prismo*

    LW5: I was in the same boat for a newspaper internship after college. I emailed them to see if there was any flexibility and they said no, but they did happen to have a job opening. The job was not posted anywhere I could find so I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. I applied for that instead and got the job.

    That is to say, at least reach out! It can’t hurt, as long as you’re not extremely rude or something.

  60. Mary Anne Spier*

    #4: Volunteer Coordinator here! PLEASE let us know when your workload is too much! The last thing I want to do is make you resent the org and lose you. I tell my volunteers to be very upfront with me and not be afraid to tell me no. I really don’t care. you give me the gift of your time and I want to be extremely respectful of it!

  61. Lorac*

    LW2: For a job of 5 months and one you don’t plan on returning to, it’s fine. I actually cut short my 2 weeks notice because the new company informed me that if I started later in the next month, I wouldn’t be eligible for that quarter’s RSU grant and would have to wait a whole quarter later. They left the choice to me, but obviously I picked money over a 2 week courtesy to an employee I didn’t care for.

    Definitely burned some bridges there, but I didn’t get along with my old boss anyways so it wasn’t a problem.

  62. Willy*

    #3…I think you are expecting a little too much at the application stage. I recently moved to a new city as a trailing spouse and I had to find a new job once we were settled. I’ve spent most of my working life in back of the house restaurant positions (line cook, prep cook, dishwasher, etc.) My new city is a very large metropolis with a huge food scene. I used a job posting website to look for jobs that I was qualified to do. I applied to literally dozens and dozens of cafes, delis, bistros, pubs, fast casual restaurants, etc.

    Because I am new to my city I was totally unfamiliar with the majority of them. It would not have been practical for me to visit each one in person and experience the food and service before applying. I would spend a few minutes looking over the website of each place to get an idea of what types of food they serve so I could determine if it was something I had experience with or something I was interested in learning about. Once a particular restaurant scheduled an interview with me then I would do a little more research. I would at that point visit the place at least once to experience the food/atmosphere and be sure I knew exactly where it was located.

    When I’m going through job postings, I’m doing the same thing you are when you go through the applications/resumes you receive. I’m quickly determining which places may be a good fit for me, as you are doing with applicants. The place where we get into details is the interview. We learn more details about each other and then we decide if it is a good fit. Just as you probably decide certain candidates are not right for your business after interviewing them, I also will sometimes decide a particular job is not right for me after the interview. Some places I applied didn’t give me an interview, some decided not to offer me a position after interviewing me, and some offered me positions that I decided not to accept. I ended up getting a job at a restaurant I never knew existed until I saw the job ad. It worked out great for all involved.

  63. DJ*

    LW2 I had to push back once on pressure to start without giving the notice I was required to do in my current job (4 weeks). It was a traineeship with a class component i.e. 4 days pw work 1 day pw training averaged out over the whole 9 months.
    Due to a work commitment I had to also miss the all new starters info/paperwork session and had to make a separate time. But when I explained this to them face to face it turned out the training part of the program wasn’t starting for over a month so I could have a few days in the office prior to the first lot of training. So they ended up being fine about it.
    Not expecting you to have to give two weeks notice (from when they’ve formally made their offer i.e. after clearance and drug test results) is an ask.

  64. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

    I’m surprised people aren’t trusting LW2 that the start date is a hard one. For all we know it’s a job on a cruise ship and they need to be on that boat when it leaves port.

    Alison already gave the general-circumstances caveat.

  65. Lobsterman*

    LW2, 2 hours’ notice is plenty. Your boss will retaliate, and you’d never consider working for them again. It’s ok to just walk away.

    In this economy, I would strongly consider giving no notice at all – call out sick for the first day of the new job, and make sure it isn’t a scam or something worse. Then resign your previous job once you know the coast is clear. I know one person who was saved from crawling back to their old job after quitting by using this technique. As far as their old job ever knew, they had 1 day of food poisoning.

  66. Essess*

    OP #1… I would be very blunt…. “Stop harassing me about my normal facial features. It’s inappropriate and unprofessional.”

  67. I have RBF*

    … the person is trying to “manage” her emotions based on her face, before she even opens her mouth!

    Did you miss this???

    No, we haven’t ” just chosen which woman to manage”. This person is trying to manage someone’s face, and assuming emotions that aren’t there based on the LW’s face.

    The adjustment that is needed is for the coworker to stop trying to “manage” LW #1 based on what she guesses are the LW’s emotions based on her face.

    The LW needs her coworker to stop trying to manage her presumed emotions. The coworker doesn’t get a free pass to command someone on how to feel or how to deal with emotions that aren’t even there. That’s not “managing” the coworker, it’s asking her to stop being a jerk!

    Any adjustment on the LW’s side should be avoiding the creep who is trying to police her very expression.

  68. Dawn*

    LW1: This may already have come up but I just wanted to mention that it sounds like your coworker might, possibly, have some past trauma associated with people who emote certain ways.

    You can of course still ask her to back off on this, but I’d also recommend showing some empathy for the fact that you may actively be eliciting a panic response in her related to something in her past, or even possibly ongoing.

    1. Lucky Meas*

      If the coworker has past trauma that is affecting her ability to read facial expressions at work, she should deal with it in therapy, rather than tell coworkers to moderate their facial expressions so they don’t trigger her.

      Also “maybe your coworker has past trauma” is such unhelpful fanfic speculation!

      1. Dawn*

        The point is that I’m advocating empathy.

        I’m sorry that you’re having difficulty demonstrating it.

    2. Observer*

      but I’d also recommend showing some empathy for the fact that you may actively be eliciting a panic response in her related to something in her past, or even possibly ongoing.

      If we are going to talk about empathy, maybe you should start with some empathy for the person who IS being essentially harassed (no, not in the legal sense) and humiliated at work over perfectly reasonable behavior. Start with that *definite* problem before demanding “empathy” for a problem that may not exist, and which is, in any case, is eliciting behavior that is wildly out of line.

      1. Dawn*

        Please point to the part where I didn’t explicitly say “You can of course still ask her to back off on this.” I absolutely have empathy for the LW as well – we’ll put that “of course” to work again – who is obviously finding this, at best, increasingly grating.

        “Remember to show empathy for what someone else may be experiencing” does not imply in any way “your side of this does not matter,” whatever you’d like to read into my comment.

        1. Observer*

          You are privileging the POSSIBLE trauma of someone over the DEFINITE harm being done to another person, despite the fact that the damaging behavior is absolutely inappropriate, while the person who is being harmed has done nothing wrong and nothing to actually hurt someone.

          I don’t know how you can call this empathy for the actual victim. Allowing a person to basically defend themselves from abuse is the bare minimum of decent society, so your “permission” is not terribly helpful.

  69. Rosacolleti*

    #2 I’d be concerned about the culture of the new workplace if they won’t respect your need to give the required notice. Major alarm bells!!

  70. Rob W*

    LW #4: it may work really well to set *time*-based boundaries.

    Keep everyone in the loop, decide what hours you can use comfortably fit volunteer work, and stop (and go offline, stop notifications, enable autoreply, whatever automated enforcement you can put in place) even though not all questions were answered.

    This is how a lot of work goes even when you’re full time; you’ll get ever more work naturally, so you need to communicate well (not just hide silently) about your boundaries. Generally no one actually wants you overworked, burning out, feeling like you need to stop volunteering, etc..

  71. Quake*

    OP3: I had a great career at my local Starbucks for many years, eventually becoming the store manager. Before that job I had never had a single cup of coffee.

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