new manager keeps pushing hard for me to be his friend

A reader writes:

I have a situation that is annoying me with a new manager at our sister company, George. He was hired with no notice into the role that I had been promised would be my career progression within the company. I have spent the last five months training him on the basics and fundamentals of that entire part of the business, which someone being hired into his role should already have known.

Since he started, he has been strongly pushing for personal connections with employees, including me, and is ignoring polite professional cues and boundaries, and it is making us all uncomfortable.

One example I can give is that he wants me to spend my legal, mandatory, unpaid lunch breaks with him going out for lunch together. I do not want to. I have put him off, brushed him off, been non-committal, pointed out that my rather short lunch break doesn’t allow for that (going out for a sit-down meal within 30 minutes including 5-10 minutes of driving). I have even told him that I am too busy for X number of weeks. His solution? He went to the company directly, arranged for me to use my own leave to take three times as long of a lunch break, and spoke to the director about my workload to get approval for me to shuffle things around, then emailed me afterwards and told me that he had done so while also telling me that the director strongly approves of it.

Another example, if I am off sick, he will call to check on me when I get back, and I will simply brush it off — “yes, fully recovered, thanks, so what can I do for you?” said in a professional-friendly, polite manner. He will then push, “You’re all better? Is everything okay?” And I will counter again, “Yes, nothing major, I am all better, so what were you calling for?” to which he will reply “nothing major…” — once again, ignoring that I have answered, shut the topic down, and turned it back to work. He acts awkward and mildly offended that I won’t go into my private medical details, and it takes two to four “now, back to work topics” attempts before he will accept it and move on. Rinse and repeat for how my weekend was, how my holiday was, etc.

He also pushes staff to share their hobbies, tries to plan friend-group style boardgame nights/days for evenings and weekends, tries to get the details of any groups or clubs we are in, and tries to push us to sign him up for them.

In short, he just pushes and pushes professional and personal boundaries. He is also overly ridiculously flowery and “nice,” prone to going into longwinded over-the-top carry-ons complimenting people for doing their basic job tasks, and the type to be shocked and apologize for 10 minutes straight and then six more times after that if he thinks he has done something wrong, so he is anxious and just too much in general and will definitely make a fuss if I say, “Back off please, you’re being rude/not taking the hint/stomping my boundaries.”

How can I handle this?!

My real worry is that it will irreparably damage the relationship, because I cannot figure out how to tell him he needs to respect boundaries and back off without him being immensely offended. I also have to protect my own image in the company and not come off as an unfriendly, bitter witch (which is a possibility given that people know I was meant to be in that role).

Oh my goodness.

If he were just a little too friendly and oblivious to hints, that would be one thing … but he’s pushy and overstepping on top of that. Arranging for you to take longer lunch breaks so you could eat lunch with him, without your knowledge or consent?

Some of this you’re going to have to accept as just his personality — he’s annoying and interactions with him will take longer than they should, and there’s probably nothing you can do to change that. But some of this you can push back on, depending on how forthright you’re willing to be about it.

At a minimum, you should say something to him about his lunch break interference, because that was a wild overreach and you want to make clear he shouldn’t do something like that again. You could say, “I don’t understand why you sought out Jane’s permission for me to triple the length of my lunch breaks — that’s not something I wanted or asked for, and I’m going to need to go back to her and let her know I don’t need it. Please don’t do things like that without my involvement.” (I am assuming here that while George is a manager, he’s not your manager.)

You could also use this as an opening to raise some of George’s behavior with your director. If you let her know you didn’t ask George to change the length of your breaks and are concerned he did that because he’s been pressuring you to socialize with him, that might easily segue into some of the other problems you’re seeing. (I know you’re concerned about seeming biased because he got the job you were promised, but this really is such a weird overstep, particularly after so much pressure to socialize with him, that it’s unlikely to look like just sour grapes on your part.)

Beyond that, you can set a lot of boundaries in the moment — keeping in mind that “boundaries” refers to how you behave, not what he does. In other words, you can’t change him, but you can change your own responses.

For example, when he calls you and wants to ask repeatedly about your health or your weekend, you can say — cheerfully and briskly — “I’m on deadline right now, but what can I do for you?” or “I’ve got to get to a meeting in a minute” or “I don’t have a lot of time, but did you need me for something?” Those are all things that convey, “I am busy and cannot have a leisurely conversation.”

You can do something similar when he’s embarking on a 10-minute apology — cut him off and say (again, briskly and cheerfully), “It’s fine — we’re both busy today so let’s move forward.” If he keeps going anyway (as it sounds like he might), are you someone who could pull off a firm but cheerful, “GEORGE! I said it was fine! Stop apologizing”? There’s a way to do that where it’s warm, not chilly — but still firm enough to make the person stop.

In fact, if you can manage that vibe, it might be really helpful with him in a lot of these situations. In many cases you can be pretty damn blunt as long as you sound warm and cheerful.

But I also think there’s room for a bigger-picture conversation with him, especially since you’ve been training him on the job. That gives you some standing to say, “Hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been pushing the staff to share things about their personal lives and to hang out outside of work, and that’s not really our culture and is likely to make people uncomfortable.”

Or, you could just speak for yourself: “I’m really not into hanging out with coworkers after work and I like to have lunch on my own. It’s not personal. I wanted to explain so you know where I’m coming from and that I’m not ever going to be up for that stuff.” That would be a lot to hit someone with the first time they extended you a social invitation — but at this point, when he’s been pushing and pushing, it’s kinder to just spell it out for him so he knows where you’re coming from. (Yes, he should have taken your 5,000 hints but he hasn’t, so it really is more humane to clearly state the boundary you want him to respect.)

You’re not going to come off as a bitter witch for pleasantly explaining something like that (and it sounds like everyone around you is well aware of why George would have made that conversation necessary anyway).

About your worry that George will make a fuss if you say something direct like that: that might be perfectly fine. You’re delivering a reasonable message, and if he has a Big Response to it … well, that’s his to work through. Obviously it’s different if you think it will cause real work problems for you, but it sounds like he’ll just make everyone in the vicinity uncomfortable for a brief period of time, and he’s already doing that anyway.

{ 365 comments… read them below }

  1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Am I the only one who thinks somebody higher up in the company said to George “Hey, you’re taking a job that we promised to OP. Be extra nice or else they will leave”?

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      If this is George’s way of trying not to ruffle feathers, he’s delusional.

    2. NeedsMoreCookies*

      Or maybe “Hey you’re taking a job we promised to OP, but maybe if you two hook up then that’ll be almost as good?”

      Because this guy comes across to me like he’s trying to turn OP into his girlfriend.

      1. Polar Vortex*

        The wanting lunch multiple times offsite reads that way so flipping hard. I don’t even get lunch with my coworkers that I’m friends with that often!

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          no, no, no. Having lunch with your coworker, boss, or subordinates does not mean you are romantically interested.

          In fact, my coworker said this about her boss five years ago and become sort of a laughing stock of the company because it showed she lacked judgment. Having to have a “your boss wanting to meet with you is not them hitting on you” conversation is a bit ridiculous

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            Normally I’d agree, but going to HR unprompted so that OP was strong-armed into a 90 minute lunch at restaurant is… not a good look. Add in everything else going on and some kind of ulterior motive, romantic or otherwise, seems likely.

          2. MassMatt*

            IMO it’s a reasonable thing to consider. George is not taking OP’s many “no”s for an answer and arranged with HR for OP to have her leave (PTO?) used to go have lunch with him off site 3x per week. IMO that is the kind of behavior I’d expect from a stalker. Whether it’s romantic interest or not, it’s a huge boundary violation.

            It’s not the OP who is showing a lack of judgment here.

            I would consider bringing this issue to someone higher up, since it sounds as though OP as pretty much already saying the things Alison suggests and he is ignoring them. But given the OP ahead to train someone that seems entirely unsuited to this role, I’m not optimistic.

          3. JSPA*

            Your boss wanting to meet with you every lunchtime, when you’re off the clock, isn’t “having lunch with someone from work.”

            I’ve had lunch with co-workers. It was voluntary. I’ve had lunch meetings, that had to be lunch meetings, to match schedules. Everyone involved worked to make it happen. I’ve had the boss invite us to lunch for an occasion, or once a month. Appreciated!

            This is none of that. The level of insistance and overreach has truly bizzare vibes. “Guy who outranks you refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer and gets all up in your personal business” isn’t always about sexual coercion, but it’s dang well often enough about that, that we should be having this conversation.

            (It…doesn’t have to be a male boss. But it has to be someone who’s entitled, darn comfortable with being entitled, and has escaped with no substantive pushback on that entitlement, so long as they’re upbeat and cheery about it. Historically, and to this day, that’s disproportionately been guy bosses.)

            1. lisasimpson*

              Yeah, I have lunch with my co-workers every day, I work in an extremely social and gregarious industry where it’s the norm to be friends with your co-workers (I’m extremely close friends with many of my co-workers, and certainly socialise with almost all of them.) And even in my notoriously super gregarious industry, organising to have someone’s leave taken away from them without their consent to force them into socialising with someone would be regarded as beyond the pale.

          4. Polar Vortex*

            I’m not against having lunch with your coworkers/boss/whatever offsite. I’ve done it. Never thought one of those people was hitting on me. Never done it to hit on a person either but I don’t believe in dating where I work.

            But if someone was strong-arming me into having lunch with them offsite multiple times a week? That’s not reading as a friendly coworking relationship lunch. Particularly in light of everything else they’re doing reads as attempting to build emotional connection. All that combined in her letter can easily read as romantic interest.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              That reads fully as “your time and attention should be spent ON ME, ALL THE TIME.” Whether it’s sexual/romantic or not, a colleague demanding that much of your time, to the point of arranging to steal your time off (WTAF) is wayyyyy overstepping anything within a ten mile radius of “reasonable.”

              1. DJ Abbott*

                I was thinking that too. He’s all about getting all his needs for attention, social, emotional support, etc. met by his coworkers. If I understood correctly, it’s not just LW he’s pushing, he’s pushing all his coworkers.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              We’re picking up on alarming vibes from this guy: enormous sense of entitlement, refusing to take “no” for an answer, going behind her back to continue to cross her boundaries, etc. We’re not saying, “Hey, maybe this guy has a crush on you, how cute!”, we’re saying “This guy sounds dangerous, possibly in a stalker or sexual-assault way.”

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Whether he’d actually assault anyone or not, he will definitely ignore boundaries and keep trying to get his way. I would find that so unpleasant, I would set firm boundaries to never let him get personal in any way.

              2. Polar Vortex*

                Exactly. The person who does this sort of thing he’s doing with her lunches is the type to suddenly demand they car pool. Or then suddenly demand they spend business trips together the entire time. It’s a potential scary downward spiral.

                I’m not saying this to be fear mongering, which is why my initial post just says it reads romantic vibes too hard. But I have been in situations where dudes have gone behind my back to get my manager to spend time with them outside of work. (Taking them home in my car, at night, to their sketchy place.) So I am speaking from a place of forewarned is forearmed here.

      2. Lacey*

        He does come off that way, but it sounds like he’s doing this kind of nonsense to everyone, not just the OP.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I wonder if he’s trying this “rearrange your PTO for fun lunch times!” with other coworkers?

        2. A Nonny Moose*

          It can definitely be both. I’ve had a coworker that pushed everyone’s platonic boundaries and a specific person’s romantic boundaries. People with boundaries issues can miss (or ignore) all sorts of “no’s”

    3. Hlao-roo*

      It’s possible that someone mentioned this background to him and he’s being extra extra “nice” to the OP, but the letter does note that

      He also pushes staff to share their hobbies, tries to plan friend-group style boardgame nights/days for evenings and weekends, tries to get the details of any groups or clubs we are in, and tries to push us to sign him up for them.

      So he’s also pushing social boundaries with other people at the company.

      1. Anonymosity*

        He’s trying to use work as his social network. At least that’s what it sounds like to me.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Which, if so, is a really odd thing to ask someone to do … to the person who is training them.

        1. Tupac Coachella*

          I wonder if OP was passed over for a particular reason, and George’s overtures are related to a desire by the company to “coach” her instead of actually telling her what the issue was that kept her from being promoted and asking her if they can support her in working on it…you know, like good management would.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            They passed her over and hired someone who was not qualified. To me it sounds like he’s a friend or relative of someone at the top and needed a job. So there is no reason for passing her over and and no reason to coach, and they probably will never admit that.

      2. Tupac Coachella*

        I wondered about this too. The fact that the person above George was supportive of this could mean that he either wildly misrepresented things when he requested the extended lunch time (definitely still a possibility) or that he’s being actively encouraged to be more intensively involved with OP and/or the staff in general and isn’t going about it very well.

      1. Miette*

        They are, and it can become a major problem when that’s all there is. At a former job, the new CEO brought in a new COO/former crony of theirs who spent easily half their time planning barbecues and game nights and never getting anything done. It didn’t help that they were also apparently brought in to clean house/relocate the company, a task which went about as well as you’d expect.

    4. Lavender*

      Yeah, I’m wondering if George knows OP had been promised the job and this is a very, very misguided attempt to fend off any potential animosity between them. Or maybe he was told something less specific, like “You were hired on very short notice and that may come as a shock to some people here, so try to be friendly.” I can’t imagine why anyone would be this pushy about socializing with their coworkers, but some people have a hard time picking up on social cues.

      1. Rainy*

        George may also be one of those people who relies on work to meet all their social needs, or be so young/fresh out of school that he thinks that’s normal. This reads significantly more to me like someone who is a total stranger to work/life balance and is trying hard to turn work into his social life.

        My office does a fair amount of socializing outside work, etc, but it’s not mandatory fun style. I usually don’t participate these days, and no one has said a thing to me about it.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m guessing yes, and wondering why on earth said CEO gave George this job in the first place.

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

      I got the same impression to some extent, except he seems to do it to everyone. So someone higher up said to George, “Everyone assumed and supported OP getting the job you now hold, so smooth over all the ruffled feathers.”

      SOME of his over-enthusiasm is Extra but not a necessarily a red flag — lunch invitation is pretty standard around my org for new people, whether it’s a new manager taking their staff out to lunch, or managers welcoming a peer. It would be pretty cold NOT to have one lunch with someone who I would be working closely with.

      1. Dena*

        I don’t think its romantic so much as desperate to be the ‘likeable boss’ but I’m not clear if he is OP’s manager or just A manager. I’m leaning towards actually being OP’s manager because how else could they put in a request for OP to TAKE THEIR OWN PTO for lunch? Or change their schedule? There’s something wrong that everyone conceded without OP’s input regardless.

        I’d be having an immediate conversation with HR as to why they are approving the use of my accrued leave for lunch without my consent.

        I’m curious if OP has gone to a mentor or whoever they interviewed with and asked why they didn’t get the position they were promised and how they can improve to get the next opening…but I guess that’s not this letter.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Alison commented below that she confirmed with the letter-writer that George is not the LW’s manager (but he could become so in the future).

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I truly hope she finds another job before that happens! Having this dingus enter the role you were promised is insulting enough but when he can directly control her time?

      2. JSPA*

        This is a lunch invitation in the same way that peeling and shoving a banana in someone’s mouth is “offering them a snack.”

        I’m not saying it’s intended as a complete overriding of other people’s autonomy.

        Maybe he’s a total idiot who was furthermore raised with the deference normally reserved for child emperors, such that he’s never been slapped upside the head for his banana-shoving behaviors.

        But it’s way out of line, and it needs to stop, regardless of intentions.

      3. dude, who moved my cheese?*

        I don’t know. If I have a 30 minute unpaid lunch, and I am spending a TON of paid work time working with someone I dislike who also wants to get lunch with me? If it’s cold to want to keep my 30 minute unpaid lunch for myself? Then I’m cold. Cold b***h reporting for duty.

        You have many other opportunities to nourish your work relationships during work time.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yeah, I mean, caveat for the fact that workplaces can often have very specific cultures with expectations beyond universal workplace norms…but everywhere I’ve worked it would be absolutely fine to say, “I prefer to use my lunch breaks for much needed recharge-on-my-own time,” to pretty much anyone, unless your lunch hour is paid and the person asking you to lunch is your direct manager. And even then, that would be considered a working lunch and you’d still be within your rights to want to take a proper break by yourself.

          But as long as you were otherwise generally pleasant and willing to take meetings on the clock to discuss work-related matters, nobody would think you were “cold” for not accepting a social invitation.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A lunch is fine even a few lunches — but spending OOP’s PTO without asking for a series of work lunches is Definitely Not Fine!

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, exactly. Even lunch with coworkers every day is absolutely fine and something I enjoy, as we don’t get a lot of time to socialise otherwise! But even I would most definitely not enjoy what’s described here at all. Like, wtf.

    7. Looper*

      I don’t think this happened because I don’t think the employer cares that much about OP. I think they hired an incompetent buffoon who tries to hide his lack of qualifications with crap like this, probably because he’s friends with someone in upper leadership. OP needs to move on to a better employer yesterday.

      1. shedubba*

        This is how it reads to me. This guy comes in, taking a job that was promised to OP, not knowing a bunch of stuff he’s supposed to know (that OP now has to train him on), and starts aggressively trying to insert himself into his coworkers’ social lives? That sounds like someone trying to cover up incompetence to me. And, ironically, doing it incompetently.

      2. Boof*

        Yes this was my read to; someone in some kind hiring authority was really charmed by George’s super friendliness and ignored the fact that George had no particular qualification for the job

  2. Amber Rose*

    OP, you were promised a job that was given to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    George is a problem, yes, but you have other problems also. I really hope you’re job hunting.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes, OP, I hope you’re not too buried under George’s vast array of molehills to bother looking for a job where they will promote you into that role. Because this company is strongly indicating that they will not do so, no, not even if you are a real team player and take one for the team and never ask for anything.

      1. Jopestus*

        And thats honestly very bad judgement. They will end up with a worse person in the role AND the one they want to keep leaving.

    2. Polar Vortex*

      Fully brings back that posting where the manager was writing the person would never get promoted because they can’t afford to lose her. I’d bet money this is the same situation because they not only get to keep her, they got her to train in someone to the role for 5+ months!

    3. Antilles*

      I really wish we had gotten more info on that because that really affects how I see the hiring of George.

      Does George bring some specific skill to the job that overrides his lack of industry-specific knowledge? Was OP promised this job in particular or just a vague understanding that you’d eventually move up from manager to department head? Was OP firmly ready for the role when it opened or was it more of a future goal where it’s reasonable for them to decide OP isn’t at that level but we also can’t go 18 months with that role empty? Is there some specific reason why OP should have expected to get “notice” that they were hiring a more senior person?

      Given that the director was enthusiastic about George rearranging the workload to use PTO for longer lunches (huh?), I suspect all of these answers form a pattern which is not promising for OP…but it does play into just how much support OP is likely to get from the higher-ups about this.

      1. Snow Globe*

        Given George’s inability to recognize social cues, I’m not sure I’d fully accept his statement that the director was strongly supportive of the lunch arrangement. That could just be George misreading the room (again).

      2. Rainy*

        George smells like nepo baby to me. Inexperienced, overly focused on socialization, is able to rearrange people’s schedule with the director without asking them first? Hmmm.

        1. Dena*

          Thats seems like a very likely explanation for being able to make moves with HR and the director without OP’s input. Especially since OP didn’t state he is their manager specifically.

        2. DanniellaBee*

          To me this reeks of sexism. Someone in leadership decided they would rather have an under qualified man in the position than the qualified internal candidate (LW).

      3. I am Emily's failing memory*

        It also probably doesn’t ultimately change the advice, but I do wish I better understood how the “sister companies” concept works here, where 1) someone’s career path involves being promised a job at another company under the same umbrella, 2) someone from Company B is expected to train new hires at Company A and 3) someone working at Company A apparently has some amount of standing or influence that they were able to approach senior leadership of Company B to change work arrangements for a Company B employee?? #1 and #2 don’t seem very outlandish even if they’re a bit non-standard, but #3 seems really banana crackers to me.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I’d guess it’s something like my employer, where several different companies merged a year or two ago, and it’s not a clear X bought Y situation (or, heck, maybe it is and they’re still keeping Y as a somewhat independent entity) and while we are moving to unified systems and have allstaff meetings together and all report to the same people if you go far enough up the chain, we’re still pretty distinct in terms of the day-to-day. I don’t have loads of contact with my equivalent roles in the other sister companies, but I could see a situation where it was naturally closer (the sales teams may be more like that, for example) or where someone on my team needed to train a new person on an equivalent team in specific job-related skills.

          But it could be something completely different.

    4. Artemesia*

      This. Time to at least seriously be looking at other options.

      And he essentially tried to take your leave time for his social lunches? WTF. THIS is huge. You need to go to whomever authorized this and make it very clear that he is not authorized to spend your accumulated leave by insisting you take long lunches. This is the most outrageous thing. The rest you can just fend off, but he tried to steal your leave time.

      I hope you in scanning the environment find a wonderful option. Nothing as dismaying as to have an incompetent hired for a job you were promised AND have to train them for months. Hope you find something fabulous and can kiss this place goodbye.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        That’s what caught me too – he’s using the OP’s LEAVE to have extended lunches. How in the world does he get to use up someone’s vacation time? Definitely go to HR with that one. And just say no. You lose a week or two of vacation on lunches you don’t even want?

        Am I totally misreading this?

        1. Katara's side braids*

          This got me too! I’m wondering if I’m not reading the letter correctly, because Alison would usually address something that egregious in the answer. Hopefully we’re misunderstanding.

        2. Some words*

          And why would HR approve this without even talking to the LW? After I picked my jaw
          up off the floor I’d have a very difficult time reacting in a professional manner. It just such an outrageous overstep. And I’d have a serious talk to HR about their part in this.

          1. Gan Ainm*

            I’m wondering if it was presented very differently to everyone else, ie
            George: hey HR, can someone use PTO to extend their lunch breaks?
            HR: yeah sure
            George: hey OP’s boss, HR says it’s cool to use pto to extend lunch breaks. OP and I are going to do this.
            OP’s Boss: yeah very cool, great idea
            George: hey OP, good news I solved your lunch break issue, now we’ll take 90 minute lunches together, boss is very supportive!

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Yeah, I can easily see someone approving the CONCEPT of extending the lunches using PTO, without realizing that OP doesn’t want this or that George is pressuring her into it.

        3. Csethiro Ceredin*

          I gasped out loud when I reached that part. It’s not just clueless; it’s shocking.

        4. I AM a Lawyer*

          I wondered if I was misreading it too because it is just so bizarre. I can’t imagine anyone having this kind of arrangement, even if they wanted it. So, what, she’s only ever going to work 6.5 hours per day?

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Yeah, working 6.5 hours a day, spending 90 minutes a day of my “break” with someone I don’t particular like AND forfeiting my days off? And likely on that first point, having to stay late to catch up on work because I’m being evaluated as though I’m a full time employee?

            That’s lose-lose-lose for the LW. I can’t believe ANYONE in HR thought that plan was peachy keen and approved it at all, much less didn’t check with LW about it.

        5. Nebula*

          I read it as he arranged it as a one-off or for that ‘X number of weeks’. It’s terrible whatever the circumstances, but I didn’t read it as indefinite. He shouldn’t be doing it at all, but it didn’t even occur to me that he’d made this arrangement permanent. Re-reading it, it could totally be that! Even worse!

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Yeah, I read it as heroic efforts he’d made to clear her schedule for just one lunch, and even that was still way past the limits of acceptable behavior.

        6. IdleRabbit*

          Agreed, I thought I was misunderstanding something since the Annual Leave/PTO was not addressed. If this was me, I would be questioning everyone in this command chain’s decision making. To not ask OP about it and make sure that OP wanted to use their leave this way is just terrible.

        7. goddessoftransitory*

          Not if you read the same letter I did! What HR department thought that was a viable thing, especially without talking to LW at all??

        8. emmelemm*

          Yeah, that definitely sounds like a “what on earth, could that really be what’s happening?’ situation.

      2. JelloStapler*

        I did not catch this part. He’s basically forcing OP to spend non-working hours with him. Creepy.

    5. Peanut Hamper*

      It always bugs me when the commentariat goes right to “find another job” because in most cases, it’s unwarranted. But in this case, I think George is just a very noticeable symptom of a much bigger problem with this company’s management.

      Polish up that resume! I know I would be.

    6. ToDoList*

      +1, came here to say this! George might not be your biggest problem, OP: the company doesn’t seem to be treating you well. You could start looking for that promotion somewhere new.

  3. NotRealAnonforThis*

    I had to go back and double check – arranged for the LW to USE their own leave to take a longer lunchtime?!

    I’m assuming this means PTO and not “best judgement”.

    Like dude, WTF? I wouldn’t have been much more than bare bones polite with “no, I’m not using my PTO to hang out with you, sorrynotsorry”.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah I was trying to figure out what that mean, but if it’s OP’s PTO than this manager needs to walk right back in there and fix this ASAP. I was hoping that was not what it meant.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I was ready to give the OP’s manager a massive amount of side-eye for okaying this, but then I thought it’s probable that George framed this as “OP and I really want to get lunch together, but their lunch break is too short. Is there anything we can do?”

          Still giving the manager a normal amount of side-eye for telling George instead of OP that it’s OK for them to use their PTO for an extended lunch break.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Also, George’s report of the director’s enthusiasm for the idea. I suspect the director’s actual reaction ran somewhere between indifference and reluctant agreement.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Why didn’t OP’s manager talk to the OP first? It’s a really, really weird request!

            2. Van Wilder*

              If the director was on board with hiring George for a job he’s barely qualified for, I kind of think George has the director’s ear.

              I would take Alison’s advice of going to the director about the lunch situation. And while you’re there, give her a heads up that you’re going to be turning down some of George’s social invitations. Otherwise, I see it as highly likely that George twists this rejection and reports it back to OP’s boss.

              1. Zarniwoop*

                I’d be cautious about this. The director may be the reason George got hired. If so it doesn’t matter whether George is the director’s son in law, or he just snowed the director with a good line of patter and the director doesn’t want to admit he made a mistake. Either way he’s not going to be open to hearing anything against George.

          2. Lavender*

            Yeah. I’m guessing that’s how George framed it. But even then the director should have something like, “Maybe we could work something out, but of course I’d have to check with OP before approving it.” In other words—don’t make any promises about someone else’s PTO use unless you’ve confirmed with the person in question.

            1. Dena*

              My guess is it was framed as necessary for George’s training, but while I could understand adjusting OP’s schedule, the leave issue confuses me.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                But if it’s necessary for George’s training, it shouldn’t use PTO! Everyone in this situation is being ridiculous.

      1. tamarack etc.*

        Yeah, how on earth can a co-worker, even a more senior one, dispose of the OP’s PTO hours? If my PTO was clipped by even half an hour, once, without my initiative, I’m making a major stink.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      LW, have you checked for signs that you are in some sort of computer simulation? Because when upper management hears “I want you to approve Frannie to use her personal leave on extending her lunch breaks so the two of us can hang!!” upper management should maybe engage in some thoughts before blithely signing away your PTO as the clear solution to finding George a lunch companion.

      1. TootsNYC*

        right? If a higher-up wanted to have conversations over lunch for some reason, maybe for the convivial mood, I’d expect them to talk to HR or whoever might object to the time spent and say, “please count this as work.” NOT “please count this against her paid time off.”

        (I had a boss do that with me; she wanted to have an “are you OK? you seem unhappy and distracted lately. please don’t leave your job, and also, are you OK?” conversation with me, but didn’t want to have it in the office and wanted to frame it in friendliness)

    3. EPLawyer*

      I immediately went OH HELL NO when I saw that. You do not mess with another person’s leave time. That is HR level of complaint. Even if the leave were not deducted that George thinks it is okay to just decide to deduct someone’s leave so they could go to lunch with him, that is a HUGE problem. Someone very high up the food chain needs to speak to him.

      Of course someone high up the food chain decided to hire him into this job. Whic makes me SERIOUSLY wonder what the hell happened here.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Heh heh every American on this blog (and I am one I mean) is immediately up in arms – I get two weeks off in a year, no way would I use any part of that for a longer lunch period with my coworker, even one I actually liked, never mind I one I don’t!

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*

          Cosigning. And I’m an American who has close to reasonable PTO by European standards (I said close. Not exactly there, but close.)

        2. Nebula*

          Trust me, as a European I’d be completely incensed about this as well. It doesn’t matter how much time off you have, *you* are the person who gets to determine how to use it, not someone else!

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

          Except that as an American, I’m also terribly curious about what level OP is in that she is hourly and has to use her PTO for a long lunch, because I got the first impression she was lower management level hoping to move into a higher management level and that’s usually salary exempt. Exempt employees don’t track how long they go to lunch for PTO purposes, and they actually aren’t legally mandated a minimum 30 minute lunch break at all. As an hourly person, the business and manager can probably require her to attend the lunch, but they actually should probably be paying her for the “working lunch” time.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            Yes, I was wondering that myself. It seemed more like a salary-type position, so the 1/2 lunch would just be basically self-imposed rather than a required time-limit that couldn’t be adjusted one or two days a week to extend lunch.
            But given that they’re asking for PTO to extend lunches, it must be salary. But that’s even more bizarre given what other people have said, that if the OP’s lunches are extended with PTO for an hour 3x a week, then that employee is not even working a full 40 hr week, and will likely be behind on any work.
            The whole thing is crazy.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              I’ve had salaried jobs with really weird timekeeping systems, including ones where I’ve had to fill out timesheets, but hands down the most bizarre one was a policy that expected us to put in an 8-hour workday, which included a half-hour paid break, and we could take a 1-hour lunch only if we took the second half-hour as an unpaid break and thus spent a total of 8.5 hours at the office (including the 1-hour break). For a salaried, exempt role where I was running an entire “department of one person (me)”.

          2. Anonymous fortune 100*

            Years ago the IRS told my company that a lot of engineering staff was misclassified as salary and a few hundred professionals moved to time clock & overtime.

            Senior engineers moving into supervisory roles change status.

        4. sometimeswhy*

          I am an American with an absurd amount of accrued PTO (which is another problem on it’s own; it’s that high because it’s difficult for me to take it). When I max out my accruals, I sell it, I donate it to our benevolent leave fund, I am generous with my abundance.

          I share all that to underscore this: I would be FERAL if someone tried to stick their hand in my pocket that way.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            This is the equivalent of those punks who come into a counter-service food place and snatch the tip jar off the counter!

        5. goddessoftransitory*

          I am an American who is currently burning off a week’s worth of PTO because I had so much piled up, and believe me, this would NOT FLY with me today, yesterday, or any day!

        6. tamarack etc.*

          I’m not even Amercian, even though that’s where I work now. Same for leave hours in all the other countries (all in Europe) I’ve been an employee in.

      2. ferrina*

        Right?! I had to read that several times. I couldn’t tell if this was counting against OP’s PTO or not, but if so, that’s something to immediately get rectified with HR. They will definitely want to do some retraining with him (and if they think it’s fine, that’s signs of a bigger problem)

    4. Cake or Death*

      Yeah, exactly what I was wondering…does “leave” mean “PTO”?
      Because if so, that is so far out of bounds, I’d be livid if I were OP.

    5. Silver Robin*

      Yeah my eyes went really wide at that — nowhere I have ever worked would anybody use their precious PTO to extend their lunch breaks?? And LW apparently has rather strict windows of time for said lunch breaks; maybe the company is actually more relaxed about it than LW thinks they are but even then, just use the bit of time flexibility not PTO and certainly not *SOMEBODY ELSE’S PTO*????

      1. Some words*

        And the option to using PTO would be having to work a longer day to make up the time. Again, Hell no.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      OP, I wonder if you are so buried in annoyances with how the company has treated you that it’s thrown off your calibration. Because this thing with burning through your leave so you can have lunch with him is truly shocking, in a way that the enquiries into your health and attempts to set up a board game night are more normal levels of the two of you not quite vibing on preferred work/life boundaries.

      I would push back hard on that seizure of your PTO, which is shocking. And don’t cloud that complaint with other stuff he’s doing that is annoying.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Yeah that part is the worst. Turning a 30-minute lunch into 90 minutes, so an hour of PTO — every day?? Am I reading that right? He’s taking 5 hours of PTO per week? Adds up to 30+ days per year? So like, ALL of your PTO? I’m livid. He can damn well treat it as work time if he’s going to require it!!!

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        At my old job, I got 1.54 hours of PTO a week, and at my current job, I get 2.62 hours of PTO a week. At five hours a week, he would put me in negative territory pretty damn quick!

    8. Polar Vortex*

      I’m crossing my fingers it means that they’ve just extended her day. Like it used to be 8-4:30 with a 30 min lunch, and now it’s 8-5:30 with an hour and a half lunch.

      Which regardless of PTO or just extending your workday, heck no. That’s my time.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I’d be apoplectic either option. Nobody fools with my leave or with my hours without adequate notice AND MY AGREEMENT, because those are set the way they are, on purpose.

        Last time someone did this, they were very unhappy with my response. Which was comical.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Exactly! The messing with start-end time of a workday is just as bad. People have lives outside of work, they have commitments, they have things they need to do – appointments, picking up kids from day care, picking up dogs from doggie day care, sports and hobby leagues, classes, elder care and meal prep, exercise and other recreation, spending time with family or actual friends who they actually enjoy socializing with etc etc.

          Depending on where they live and work, work/managers requiring LW to do ANYTHING particular with their state mandatory unpaid meal break is actually a violation of employment law For example, in Massachusetts where I am it would be. “During their meal break, workers must be FREE of all duties and free to leave the workplace” Being required to spend their meal break with a manager, doing what the manager wants wouldn’t fly. The only way around that is if the worker voluntarily agrees to work through their meal break. But then they would be working, and the employer must pay them for that time – no docking of PTO, leave time allowed)

      2. JelloStapler*

        Right- still hell no! I have a life outside work that does not in any way involve George and should not be encroached upon for him wanting a lunch buddy.

    9. Nea*

      My jaw dropped at that. I budget my PTO more strictly than I budget my salary – there’s no way I’d fritter it away on constant lunches, there are road trips to take and conventions to attend!

    10. Miette*

      Yeah, what the actual f***?! That is not cool, and ol’ George would’ve been put on blast if it was me. He’s overstepped by about a mile imo

    11. Lavender*

      Maybe the company has unlimited PTO? But even in that case, it would be a huge overstep and I can’t believe the director signed off on it. Why would they approve a leave request without checking with the person the request was for?

      OP also mentioned that their lunch break was unpaid, so would they be paid for any of this extra break time?

    12. ChattyDelle*

      I interpreted it as “OP has permission to take a longer unpaid lunch break” but that’s still not acceptable! I need my paycheck! George has no right to decrease OP’s paycheck by getting her to take a longer lunch break with him.

    13. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      So when OP goes to take a vacation this summer, or take time off at his preferred holiday, he will come up short because he had lunch with his manananggal, er um, manager?

      Is he the guy who tells his roommate, “hey, I upgraded our cable/bought a new TV. No problem, you can just pay your share next week.”

    14. Bagpuss*

      Yes, that part really stuck out to me. I hope OP immediately contacted her manager / HR to confirm that she was not up to using her PTO in that way, had not authorised George to request it on her behalf, and also to ask that they not discuss her PTO or make any changes without speaking to her first.

      That’s also the one I would address directly with George, whatever I decided to do about the rest.
      “George, I’m really concerned that went behind my back, and tried to arrange for me to use some of my PTO for an extended lunch break to eat with you. I manage my PTO carefully and that’s not something I would chose to use it for. I have of course told HR (or whoever deals with PTO requests) that I did not want or request that time, but I’m concerned that you made representations on my behalf without my knowledge of consent. I need to know that you won’t do that again. (and if HR can’t or won’t change it, I think you also need to be asking him to fix that – whether he donates an hour of his PTO to you to make up for the time he booked on your behalf, or whatever.)

      If he argues that it’s a working lunch then you can can something like ‘I would prefer for any work meetings to be in normal working hours, but if you are saying we have to have this meeting over my normal lunch break then I will need to confirm with my manager that I will be able o take time in lieu, as I’ll be working through my lunch.’ – I think maybe you need to emphasize that if it is a paid, working meeting then of course you will attend.

      I would also consider talking to HR about his pushing you to disclose medical information.

      I also think OP should probably talk to their own manager who presumably is better placed to speak to GEorge about their pushiness

    15. Avril Ludgateaux*

      I would have reported that to HR. It’s basically robbing me of compensation by forcing me to use PTO in a way I do not want to use it.

    16. yala*

      Yeah, to me this would be an immediate HR conversation. Not necessarily a report, but a very confused “Hey, can a coworker/manager do this?” Because as far as I’m concerned, that’s essentially theft of OP’s time.

  4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Oof. If this were happening to me, my first stop would be the director’s office to set the record straight on the lunch thing. The AUDACITY of him trying to pressure to you use your personal leave to indulge his insecurity. AND going behind your back to a higher-up to arrange it? Unbelievable. If this person reported to me, I would want to know this about him because it would give me very valuable info about his (very poor) judgment and (lack of) fitness for a management role.

    1. River*

      Agreed. I would immediately request that this decision be reversed. Who wouldn’t be upset that their unpaid lunch break was changed for not so good reasons? I would almost say that this qualifies as something someone should be written up for or reported or even a PIP. I’m wondering if George is now salary and this doesn’t have to worry about being back at a specific time or needs to punch in meanwhile OP does. Tampering with someone’s personal time like that makes me completely uncomfortable and I feel should be illegal. I don’t know how George is oblivious to that. To be fair, I am curious what the OP did or didn’t do which ensued in them not getting the promotion they had hoped for.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Seriously. George has no right to decide that you have to use personal leave to hang out with him. What the f***?! What did he even say to the person who approved it? Did he say that the LW wanted this?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS MAN?

  5. Dust Bunny*

    Okay, don’t get me wrong here: This guy sounds obnoxious and tone-deaf beyond belief, but I also feel like this is colored by the LW’s resentment that George got the job the LW had been promised, and that the LW’s responses are heightened a bit and less reasoned than they need to be.

    I don’t see a mention here that George even knows the LW was “supposed” to have this job, so he’s probably not aware that he’s rubbing salt in a wound on top of overstepping and being generally a doofus. I also wonder if the higher-ups are hoping that George will bond with the LW and other employees so they can forget that they (nepotism hired?) him instead of promoting the LW.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I agree that OP was probably at B*tch Eating Crackers mode very early on with this boss, as annoying as the boss does sound.

      1. Silver Robin*

        OP also says others feel that way; the letter does not go into details about that and perhaps OP is exaggerating, but also maybe not. Combine that with the very professional responses OP has been trying to use to shut George down and the closing of the letter expressly stating that OP does *not* want to be a “bitter witch”, I am willing to believe they actually are trying rather hard to avoid BEC and to only act on the actionable. The problem is there is *so much* that “being nosy and pushy about my time away from work” gets mixed in with “went way above my head and arranged my PTO without my consent”.

        Alison is good about pointing out which things need to just be accepted/managed, and which things need to be pushed back on.

        1. linger*

          I would argue that “professional” should not mean “indirect”, especially when dealing with someone as socially oblivious as George, who needs a very clear “No”, as in: “No thanks, my lunch time is MY time; “No, my leave time is MY time”. Granted, OP should not normally need to be this explicit; but George is not behaving normally.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think the OP is (reasonably) going for a gut check. Unfortunately, women often feel the need to do this when male colleagues cross lines.

        Male emotional fragility can be so exhausting!

      3. MsM*

        I mean, it doesn’t really sound like he’s done a lot to not give her valid reasons to be annoyed since, so…

    2. EPLawyer*

      The guy WENT TO HER BOSS TO ARRANGE TO USE HER LEAVE TO HAVE LUNCH WITH HIM. Whether or not she is at the BEC stage or not is irrelevant, whether she is irritated or not is irrelevant, the guy MESSED WITH HER TIME OFF. That’s not obnoxious doofus, that is just wrong. And the OP is well within her rights to be pissed about it.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        But the person to whom he went should have shut it down . . . and they didn’t.

        I don’t think there’s any way to salvage this job because it sounds like the real problems are above (or maybe at least parallel to) George.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, George is tap dancing around the job in a gorilla suit warbling show tunes, and that is sucking in OP’s attention, but if he left tomorrow there would still be serious problems. Annoyance with him is papering over those other problems from the top.

        2. Happy meal with extra happy*

          George is a manager at this company. That means that he is expected to act appropriately and that his actions explicitly reflect the company’s. It is a separate issue that his boss isn’t doing anything, but I find it bizarre that you think OP is overly concerned with George’s actions. Once you reach the management stage, you have your own accountability.

          1. Meep*

            No one is saying George isn’t acting inappropriately and needs to be straightened out. He does. I think the main problem is OP’s first inclination is to mention that George stole their job and THEN mention the PTO thing. Usually, people mention what is bothering them first instead of burying the lead.

            OP’s resentment came first. Then George acting like a total clown trying to fix something he really couldn’t by being pushy. George is the one with the problem, but ignoring that OP is resentful ignores WHY George is acting like this. And makes it impossible to fix.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I felt that was important context. The OP was promised/groomed for a role. George got it. The OP was professional & helped train George. George is pushing boundaries & taking up time OP does not have or care to give.

            2. Happy meal with extra happy*

              OP’s resentful because a job she was being prepared for went to someone who’s awful at it. It’s not just jealous/resentful; it’s that he sucks, and that’s highly relevant. Also, OP is telling this in narrative form so it only makes sense to first tell how he was hired, as that’s the first chronological event.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                And she is not only expected to put up with it, but train a man who apparently has absolutely zero qualifications for the position that was promised to HER.

            3. EPLawyer*

              George is acting obnoxious to EVERYONE is because OP is resentful? He is pushing boundaries with everyone, expecting to be included in weekend plans and join their clubs. So either EVERYONE is resentful or the fact that OP is resentful is pretty much irrelevant to George being an ass.

            4. Dena*

              I thought the OP was being honest that they are concerned any criticism might be taken as sour grapes, so they were looking for a sanity check whether this is really out of line and how to address the situation so they aren’t dismissed as resentful.

          2. Snow Globe*

            I don’t agree with this interpretation. My read is that LW is very worried about appearing to have a grudge about the job so they are actually under-reacting. Because someone else requesting use of leave on your behalf is just so obviously wrong, it’s amazing that the LW didn’t already tell him off.

            1. Silver Robin*

              100% agreed. OP explicitly mentions wanting to avoid coming across as bitter and resentful and lays out several examples of how they tried to professionally push back on poor behavior from George. I do not think they are over-reacting.

        3. JelloStapler*

          Where there’s smoke there’s fire — so in ADDITION to George yes- other things going on and OP should reconsider her future there. BUT- it does not mean she is overreacting or too senestive.

          1. Lurker Cat*

            I’m a little surprised that nobody has suggested LW contact George and her manager and ask for documentation in writing about this lunch with George requirement and the use of PTO for said lunch.

      2. Red Wheel Barrow*

        Yeah, that is really outrageous. The LW may or may not be in BEC mode, but George isn’t just eating crackers–he’s stealing the LW’s crackers and then making them join a compulsory cracker party.

        1. EPLawyer*

          ” but George isn’t just eating crackers–he’s stealing the LW’s crackers and then making them join a compulsory cracker party.”

          This one needs to go into the AAM annals.

          1. Just why*

            I would claim compulsory cracker party as my new name if I didn’t think it would lose it’s context at some point in the future and I would just look like some crazy person.

        2. GammaGirl1908*

          This is where I am. LW is irritated with George for several reasons, some universal to all of their colleagues and some not, BUT George is very legitimately REALLY BLEEPING IRRITATING. George also has watched too many TV workplace comedies where they all socialize together.

          I agree that LW needs to be much more straightforward with George and tell him politely that she doesn’t want to X, Y, or Z, at all. Any time you tell someone like this that you are busy for the next 6 weeks, that just makes them mark their calendar for week 7.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          George has kidnapped her and sealed her in an Animal Crackers circus box to play house with him at this point.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      The lunch thing is so beyond the pale. It is more than enough for a heightened reaction.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Again: The real problem there, though, is the boss who went along with it. My boss would have laughed at him and sent him packing, but the LW’s didn’t. There’s no future in a job where your boss goes along with craziness like this.

        1. Green Tea*

          They can both be problems, though. George’s behavior is not any less bad just because LW also has a manager problem.

          If I found out a coworker tried to do this and my manager shut them down, I would still have a huge problem with that coworker for making the attempt.

        2. I should really pick a name*

          I’m responding to your suggestion that the LW not getting the job is colouring their resentment.

          George’s conduct is egregious, and the LW has still responded in a reasoned manner.

        3. Seashell*

          George may have misled the boss about LW actually wanting to do this, so it might not have been entirely the boss’ fault. He may have even said it was for lunch in general, not specifically lunch with him.

        4. Zarniwoop*

          That looks to me like George is related to/sleeping with/has dirt on someone higher up. Is so it’s more than just a George problem.

          1. JelloStapler*

            Meh- or he’s charming and they hired him without doing due diligence. Happens all the time.

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            George must have Polaroids of every single exec on Party Island the day everybody downed a bottle of tequila and played naked Twister, honestly. I don’t see how he could be friends with whoever hired him because I can’t believe he has friends. He sounds beyond exhausting.

    4. Cake or Death*

      I wouldn’t categorize his behavior as “being a doofus”. Him pressuring his subordinates to have a personal relationship with him, and going so far as to arrange for his employee’s leave to be used fort hem to go to munch with him behind their back, is absolutely unprofessional, inappropriate, and a gross overstep. It’s hard to interpret what “arranged for me to use my leave” means, but if it means he took an hour of OP’s PTO to go to lunch with him, then he is basically stealing their compensation to force them to have a personal relationship with him. That’s like him having accounting take money out of her paycheck to by himself a birthday gift.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Suggested below: That George framed this to the LW’s boss as a favor to the LW rather than a demand.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I had a coworker once go to our bosses to request that I do a specific task for them because “I wanted more practice”. No, I knew how to do it and she didn’t want to do it any more. Our bosses enthusiastically assigned it all to me “as a favor” and were kind of miffed when I told them, uh, no–I was not going to do all that myself. And they acted like I had lied to the coworker about it.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Yeah, that’s someone using YOUR workplace capital to do something you DON’T want or need but they do. Horrible.!

    5. Kristi*

      Really? What specifically is giving you that vibe?

      If she were writing in and hadn’t mentioned him getting a job she wanted, and he was just some new guy she had no reason to like or dislike, I wouldn’t find her reaction the slightest bit puzzling or think she was overreacting. So I personally see no reason to think that, but may well be missing something.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Pardon me if I’m missing sarcasm, but if it didn’t bother her that he got the job, why bring it up at all?

        1. Dust Bunny*

          He was hired with no notice into the role that I had been promised would be my career progression within the company. I have spent the last five months training him on the basics and fundamentals of that entire part of the business, which someone being hired into his role should already have known.

          I mean, that’s a lot of writing about something if it’s not a factor.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            George getting the job that LW was promised is a factor because other people know the situation and LW is worried that taking a firmer stance is shutting down George’s social requests will come off as them being resentful about the job, not about George overstepping:

            I also have to protect my own image in the company and not come off as an unfriendly, bitter witch (which is a possibility given that people know I was meant to be in that role).

            It’s useful information for Alison to have when she’s writing her advice to the LW.

            1. JelloStapler*

              Yes, she is extra careful about being harsh because she doesn’t WANT to be seen as bitter just like you are implying she is.

          2. redflagday701*

            Nah, it’s only 54 words out of a 600-word letter, and it’s pretty vital context exactly because OP wants to know if she’s overreacting because of it. I mean, if it were left out and came out later in an update, THAT would make me wonder if OP was being fully honest. Makes perfect sense to mention it right at the start.

            1. Some words*

              No, the OP wants to know how to shut down these overreaches without giving the appearance of her objections being borne out of personal resentment. Please read the last couple paragraphs again.

          3. MsM*

            I don’t think anyone’s suggesting it’s not a factor. I’m just not sure what difference it makes whether OP went into the situation with a positive attitude or not when I think even a Zen master would be struggling after five months of trying to train the guy followed by…this.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          It would be on my mind quite a bit. If there was no missed promotion, I’d feel free to just scorch the earth and ask what kind of manager does this, and what are they going to do about this dud of a hire? In this circumstance, I’d still do it, but I’d be much more measured and concerned and let someone else be horrified on my behalf. I shouldn’t have to, but just in case someone gets the wrong idea that I feel jealous, instead of stalked.

        3. John*

          OP could not be bothered by that by also be legitimately concerned that other people will assume that’s the reason she’s irritated with him.

          Basically, a plausible but untrue reason for her to dislike him could obscure her real issues with him, which are based on his actual problems.

    6. Samwise*

      George arranged for LW to change her schedule and USE HER LEAVE so she could have lunch with him. The first one is iffy and the second one is outrageous. Don’t f’n touch my leave. It is waaaaay overstepping and needs to be addressed immediately with LW’s own manager and with HR, especially if the leave was docked.

    7. Meep*

      This was my read as well due to the first line and need to mention OP is training someone for “their job”. Trauma has made me sensitive to people who don’t like me and I had to learn to take a step back and accept I cannot “fix” everything (which is my first instinct) because not everyone will like me. (Nor do I like everyone either.)

      It may have colored my read, but I can see George pushing for this relationship because he doesn’t know why OP doesn’t like him while OP maybe didn’t even realize they have some misplaced resentment. Heck, OP may even be just neutral towards George personally before this and George is now making it worse. I’ve done that.

      Either way, there is definitely a personality clash going on here on top of George’s unprofessionalism.

      1. allathian*

        I’m also sensitive to people who don’t like me. I was bullied by exclusion in middle school, and just having people sit with their back to me during our coffee breaks, which happened a lot before Covid because so many people took their breaks at the same time, feels unpleasant to me, and I don’t like sitting with my back to others, either. So I keep twisting and turning in my seat to have some eye contact with everyone who’s sitting around that table, until I realize what I’m doing and stop, because it looks weird.

        But if I get the feeling that someone doesn’t like me, I avoid them as much as possible rather than try to force myself on them…

        If anything, the LW has overcompensated and let George get away with bad behavior because she doesn’t want to look like she’s bitter for not getting George’s job. This is entirely human and understandable.

        I wish George would stop pushing himself on his coworkers, especially the LW. But I’m not convinced this is going to help, George’s going to George because this strategy seems to have worked for him in the past. In the LW’s shoes I’d be looking for a new job before George gets promoted to the LW’s manager…

    8. JelloStapler*

      Perhaps at the start but George just keeps Georging and she has a right to be annoying, get a litmus test to get other advice… and then George went beyond the pale.

      I don’t get the impression she is being rude at all, more than George is seeing politeness as an open door. Something women unfortunately deal with a lot.

    9. FisherCat*

      He went above her head to change her use of PTO without her consent! Even everything else aside this is “escalate immediately wtf” territory.

    10. There You Are*

      Sometimes, the most entertaining parts of AAM are the commenters who jump in only to explain away, minimize, and/or excuse the behaviors of people acting badly.

      I wish I had the time to do some metrics to show how often it happens when the Bad Actor is a man vs when it’s a woman. I feel like there would be some illuminating information to be gleaned.

  6. CatCat*

    arranged for me to use my own leave to take three times as long of a lunch break…

    Record scratch!

    He what now!?

    So much going on here, but going behind an employee’s back to take away their compensation is a bridge too far. And OP is the one having to worry about not offending him? It makes me angry.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        That is because even the benighted (albeit gifted) minds of the writers of The Office could not imagine this!!!!
        he arranged for me to use my own leave to take three times as long of a lunch break

  7. SpicySpice*

    Wait… Your own leave time to take a 90 minute lunch? So he took away an hour of your leave time without your permission so you could go to lunch with him? How was this even approved – I can’t imagine someone at my job requesting PTO for me. I hope you are able to shut this down ASAP. Overly social is one thing, taking away your time off is a whole nother.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This is why I’m a bit confused if George is OP’s boss or not. Alison correctly points out that she thought he was not, but I don’t see how a coworker could get leave approved for someone else.

        1. JelloStapler*

          Oh no. :( Then- OP- run. they clearly are not interested in your progression past words and all I see is more boundary stomping and brushing off your valid concerns.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Yeah, it makes it even clearer that George and OP’s current manager see OP merely as a tool in their chest, a toy in their box, or some other metaphor that means they are not considering OP’s career progression, needs, etc at all but instead happy to manipulate situtations and twist OP’s life into pretzels because it’s convenient for them – training George for months, being George’s forced professional lunch buddy, burning OP’s leave / PTO for extended George time.

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I’m hoping “arranged for” means made it so that LW could do that, not that he requested leave for her and got it approved. Because otherwise the company is full of bees, not just George.

      Also, we really do need that “worst co-worker” competition!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, that’s how I understood it — he ensured the LW has permission to use her leave to extend her lunch breaks if she wants to, not that he actually got anything charged to her leave preemptively!

        1. Silver Robin*

          Okay that is significantly less bad, but still SO WIERD. Who would use their PTO to hang out with coworkers via a longer lunch???

          1. Miette*

            Right? But that means he’s using back channels to knock down all of OP’s objections to spending social time with him, which I find super creepy. If a romantic partner did this, I’d wonder at their motivations–George’s behavior is sketchy at best and abusive at worst.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Like, if someone’s actual partner did this, I would see it as a red flag. Your own SPOUSE should not be pulling these shenanigans. I work with my husband and if he tried to do this without consulting me, there Would Be Words.

          2. JelloStapler*

            Clearly George cannot fathom that someone would not WANT to spend that much lunchtime with him so he conveniently cleared the excuse she gave (given to be nice and not blunt about not wanting to spend long lunches).

            1. Silver Robin*

              I am curious if OP spends any time with coworkers over lunch at all. If OP does not ever have lunch with coworkers, then OP has a very good defense of “I never have lunch with coworkers, George, drop it already.”

              If OP *does* have lunch with coworkers (I do! But my job is also pretty flexible about our hours, so it is a lot less stressful to take slightly longer to go grab lunch a couple blocks away), then George can rightly pick up on OP not wanting to have lunch with *him* and be concerned about that. But then…coworkers do not have to be friends! Pushing people to be your friend will not actually work all that well! Even more so WHEN YOU GO BEHIND THEIR BACKS TO CLEAR AWAY THEIR EXCUSES. I am not getting over this.

        2. EPLawyer*

          Even arranging it is STILL BAD without OP’s express permission. Like no, a manager does not get to “arrange” how someone uses their leave. Especially not THEIR manager.

          Someone needs to take this guy aside and explain that work is not the place for your social life. Also the whole manager-subordinate thing.

        3. Lavender*

          Ah, that makes more sense—I read it as if the leave had already been charged. Still a massive overstep, but probably easier for OP to correct on her end.

        4. Higher Ed*

          Policy allows us to combine one of our 15 minute breaks and 30 minute lunch (both unpaid) for fitness activities up to 3 times per week. In the most generous interpretation, maybe George was operating in this sort of framework to make it possible for OP to have a longer lunch break. Overall, George sounds clueless and exhausting, though.

        5. Bagpuss*

          That’s not quite as bad as I thought (I’d read it as him effectively booking out the time) but I still think it is one to push back on – it seems to me that it has the potential to undermine her – if he thought that was a good idea then he should have suggested it to her and told her he was happy to speak to her manager / big boss if necessary to support her request.

    3. irene adler*

      I bet George framed it as OP “wants” to join me for lunch, but the 30-minute limit prevents it. George probably saw this as something OP would welcome -because the only thing anyone ever wants to do on their PTO is hang with the boss.


      I work with someone on a volunteer basis who exhibits this degree of clueless. Which is why I’m ending my commitment to the volunteer organization.

        1. Some words*

          And a good manager would say “I understand. The LW can come and talk with me about it any time and we’ll see if we can work something out.”

          1. irene adler*

            Exactly! Don’t honor such a request unless the owner of the PTO makes the request directly.

            I know this is overkill on my part, but this request gets my ‘controlling’ radar going into overdrive. People that think they can make decisions for any aspect of my life are people I get far away from very fast.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Oh, good point!

              The steamrolling over objections is part of that malicious behavior cluster as is the peppering with questions when LW has been out of the office.

              And in my experience, people like this never ramp down, even when you try to establish and enforce boundaries. They only ever ramp up until you find a way to yeet them out of your life.

              Because of the complicity with OP’s manager, this may be a “time to get out” situation. If there was a solid management chain (not a George-over-accomodating one) or professional HR on scene, OP might be able to push back through their own actions backed up by “official channels” but as it is? Likely not.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      I don’t think it’s unusual to go out to lunch with a new manager, particularly one that you’re working closely with. The fact that OP had to use PTO(!!!) to go on an outing that is work-related is a problem. OP should still get a 30-minute break and also go out to lunch – that is work time.

      Also, it’s a problem that you’re working closely with that manager because he is being trained by OP for a job that OP was supposed to have.

  8. Hiring Mgr*

    I would talk to your own boss/director. It sounds like George is a little off in general but I wonder if some of this wasn’t whoever hired him saying “LW wanted this role too so you might want to tiptoe around her for a while” or something to that effect, and he took it to eleven

  9. Modesty Poncho*

    ” it sounds like he’ll just make everyone in the vicinity uncomfortable for a brief period of time, and he’s already doing that anyway.”

    Alison, I love you. It’s such a good framing sometimes.

    Penny : Well, I’m sure the new people will be just as quiet.
    Sheldon : You can’t know that! How can you possibly know that?
    Penny : You’re right, I can’t. You know what, anyone could rent that apartment now. An opera singer, the cast of Stomp… yeah, a tap dancing pirate with a wooden leg.
    Leonard : Why are you making it worse?
    Penny : I tried making it better, he wouldn’t go for it.

  10. Colette*

    I think part of the problem is that you’re giving him reasons, and he sees them as problems he needs to solve. I also get the impression that you don’t like him, and that you don’t want to be friendly with him.

    Here are some things you can try.

    1) When he asks how your weekend/evening was, give a true-but-breezy answer. “Great! I was able to get a lot of stuff done around the house!”, “Pretty busy, I’m looking forward to next weekend when I can relax!”, “Went for a nice walk, it’s great that spring is here!” The key is to be friendly, but not share more than you’re comfortable with.

    2) When you say no, put it down to things he can’t “fix”. “Oh, I need to spend my lunches doing personal stuff, so I don’t do work lunches more than X times a year”, for example.

    And when he over apologizes, you can say “Thank you for understanding”, or “I appreciate the apology” – but don’t fall into the trap of reassuring him that it’s OK. His anxiety is his to manage; don’t take that on.

    And for incredibly inappropriate things – like him arranging for you to use your leave to go out for lunch – be very clear. “It’s not OK that you made arrangements for how I should use my leave. Don’t do that again.” He will feel bad; that’s an OK consequence.

    1. ferrina*

      I saw this too. Don’t give George reasons- just say no. “No thanks!”
      If you give him reasons, he’ll try to solve them (and likely in the dumbest way possible).

      Since your already in a mentor-like position, you can even put this into an “OF COURSE you will do XYZ because that is the way a professional behaves, RIGHT, GEORGE?”
      Example: “Nope, I’m not going to do lunch. This is my recharge time, and that’s how my brain best recharges. I’m sure you understand how different people’s brains need different things during their rest. And this is what I need. Thanks, and bye!”
      I was in a similar situation where someone deeply unqualified was put in charge of my department (a role I had also applied for), and she was pretty oblivious on some things. I was able to sort things out with a “Oh, I’m sure you’ve already thought of it, but what if we cross train on the TPS reports so the regular person can take sick time or vacation?” Lots of Obvious Needs that got wrapped up as Casual Suggestion With Light Ego Stroking. It’s an annoying amount of emotional labor, but it got the job done (at least, until I found another job at a much more functional organization).

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      “I think part of the problem is that you’re giving him reasons”

      The exact opposite. They aren’t giving them reasons, they need to just say “we should maintain distance as boss and subordinate”

      that would be an actual reason no manager would say no to

      1. Colette*

        “I only get 30 minutes for lunch, that’s not enough time” is a reason. The OP (I’m pretty sure) meant it as a polite way to say no, but it was a reason George then tried to fix.

        And he’s not the OP’s boss as I understand it, so that’s not a reason to say no.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      If I were around this much of a boundary stomper I’d probably develop a reflex of saying “No …. thank you….” to everything that you want to say “What the hell?” to. If you draw it out a bit, it sounds like you’ve considered the request and it is a definite no, but doesn’t come across as sharply as a brief no. (However once someone suggests your leave should be used on them, feel free to give a flat, sharp “no” and an “Of course I won’t be using my leave to have lunches with you” in no uncertain terms. You can follow up or replace the no thanks with stuff like “I like alone time during lunch” or “I prefer to keep my work relationships separate to personal stuff.” or “Uh, I don’t want to get into at work” (even if you’re at home). I do think you also need to have a big picture conversation with someone above him; when a colleague was pushing for me to have my breaks with him, he had some horrendous judgement in a bunch of other ways that could have reflected on me, and I think it’s best to get out ahead of it first.

      1. ferrina*

        Love this advice. Inflection can help make it feel easier. Another trick is to say “No thanks. Oh, I had a question about [Work Thing]….” Subject changes are so helpful

        1. Silver Robin*

          Poor OP though tells us of having to use 4 subject changes to get past “Yup, feeling all better thanks!”

          George seems really really really persistent and is not catching onto the breezy, non-stick professional niceties.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        George is like the interpersonal time vampire version of that THERE WILL BE SNACKS FROM ME AND YOU WILL LIKE IT guy. Insisting that OP and others accept what he is foisting upon them, and respond how he wants.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I thought of that guy too! And the woman who had a spiraling anxiety attack when a coworker didn’t say “goodnight” to her.

    4. Snow Globe*

      I would have thought a 30-minute lunch break is something he can’t fix, but here we are. So, no, don’t explain that you need your lunch break for personal stuff (just take 2hours of leave!). “Long lunch breaks just don’t work for me.” The end.

    5. There You Are*

      I always turn it back to the other person and reference the weather.

      George: “How was your weekend?”
      Me: “It was good. Howsabout you? Get out and enjoy the sunshine? [Find any fun Rainy Day things to do? / Did you melt in this heat?”]

      The weather thing is both bland and a good jumping-off point if they try to redirect it back to me.

      George: “I biked around the lake on Saturday. What about you? What did you do?”,
      Me: “It’s great you got to enjoy the outdoors! Our springs are always so short.”

      George: “I binge-watched old ‘My Little Pony’ episodes. What did you do?”
      Me: “We need the rain, for sure; have you got a Bug-Out Bag for tomorrow’s tornado watch?”

      George: “It was so hot that I spent the weekend at the Y’s pool. What did you do?”
      Me: “Yeah, I heard we broke another heat record yesterday. No relief in sight.”

  11. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I agree with Alison, the raid on your PTO justifies talking with the director and/or your HR person, if your firm has one. That was a mammoth overreach and you need to throw a flag as soon as possible.

    For the rest of it, maybe you could make a request for advice: “George seems to be having a little trouble adjusting to our culture. He keeps urging me and other staff to socialize outside of work — nothing sinister, just game nights, and that sort of thing. But I suspect it’s putting people off. Do you have some advice for me on how to handle this?”

    And yes, by all means, cultivate a warm, chirpy tone when you deal with George. Be oblivious to any and all hints. Keep redirecting him back to work issues. I’ve had good results using a warm, hearty, “What can I do for you today?” with colleagues who can’t get to the point on the telephone.

    And yes, I agree with upstream commenters that you should start a discreet job search.

  12. Gingerblue*


    Helpful, no. My only articulable reaction to the notion of a manager so needy they went behind your back to demand the company allocate your PTO to playdates with him, yes.

    The fact that your company’s reaction was not an immediate “George, WTF” is perhaps even more of a problem, though I’d also check in with the director to see if they did in fact approve or were even given an accurate idea of what George was asking. George does not sound like the most reliable of narrators.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*


      What was HR thinking?

      Or were they so busy trying to get George out of the office with his banana crackers that they didn’t realize where the conversation ended up? Or how George would have interpreted their responses — I mean, was GEORGE going to take PTO too?

    2. Artemesia*

      I think the people suggesting this is a nepo baby are probably right. They hired an incompetent white guy instead of promoting the OP as they had promised or at least hinted at in the past. Then they are letting him claim her time off for his pleasure.

      This is a bad organization — the OP has no real future there. They couldn’t be shouting it louder.

  13. Meep*

    I wonder if OP is giving off “resentful” vibes and George is just pushing for friendship because he cannot stand anyone not liking him and not knowing why.

    Not saying George is approaching it appropriately and that OP doesn’t have a right to be annoyed with George after he commandeered OP’s lunch break and PTO, but coaching on “being professional and being friendly are two different things” might help. So long as OP can stay professional.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I agree that coaching to George on this subject would be a good idea. But OP isn’t in a position to give that coaching, or direct someone to give that coaching. And George didn’t write in.

      1. Meep*

        Oh 100% agree it shouldn’t come from OP. Especially when they themselves have some unresolved issues. OP should find someone else to do the coaching as they are responsible for training George, though.

    2. EPLawyer*

      But its not just OP he is doing it to. He asks other people to sign him up for THEIR CLUBS and activities. He does not get that a new company does not mean an automatic set of friends.

      Seriously who HIRED this guy?

      1. Meep*

        I am mostly addressing OP’s issue here. Not their coworkers who did not write in to offer their opinion on George.

        The first line was about how George stole OP’s job and OP is training him. It was put the highest on the list of grievances over stealing PTO time and being generally pushy and needy. I think it is WHY George is acting the way he is (because some of us really cannot stand anyone not liking us – which leads to these extremes). If OP can take a step back and realize they shouldn’t be training George, they will be in a much better place rather than stewing while they train a guy who is in the position they were promised while that guy tries to (wrongly) fix a a rift he doesn’t know why it exists.

        1. Gingerblue*

          But you’re arguing that George is singling out the LW for this behavior because you think the LW visibly dislikes him. The fact that George is, in fact, not singling the LW out for this behavior is relevant.

          1. Some words*

            And we also have no idea whether or not the OP “visibly” dislikes him.

            There are a lot of posts that seem to be bordering on victim blaming. The OPs *feelings* are not the question here. There’s nothing to suggest that the OP is overreacting emotionally or in such a way that’s projecting them publicly. The staff is aware George got a promotion the LW wanted.

            If the LW were a man I sincerely doubt he’d be receiving this same level of armchair psychological advice and speculation.

            1. JelloStapler*

              Yes I agree- the advice that OP needs to check her bitterness, and shouldn’t be upset about a colleague a) being obnoxious and b) expecting too much of her own time c) draining her emotionally and d) won’t take cues, and instead steamrolls.

              No, perhaps Geroge needs to take a step back and see how he is coming off to others. I would actually say that its possible OP is trying to be VERY nice and George is reading it wrong (surely she’ll want to have a longer lunch with me, she just can’t- I’ll fix it!).

              1. Gingerblue*

                Yeah, I’m finding some of the advice today just gratingly patronizing, especially the smug little head pats saying “It’s ok! You can be direct, sweetie!” from people who don’t work there and won’t suffer any potential backlash from mishandling an underqualified, needy superior who’s already demonstrated a poor grasp of workplace norms but apparently (?) has bosses supporting him.

            2. Gingerblue*

              That’s my point! There’s absolutely zero evidence that George is reacting to anything on the part of the LW, and plenty of evidence that George is like this with everyone. You can’t just ignore that bit if it doesn’t fit the narrative you’re trying to fit this story into.

              1. JelloStapler*

                In fact, I think OP is trying very hard NOT to appear resentful, which is why she wrote the letter to begin with: to see how she can handle this without making it seem like it’s due to the role.

      2. MsM*

        Someone who found the enthusiasm and efforts at ingratiation charming in the small dose they got and didn’t place enough emphasis on hard skills, I’m guessing.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        At this point I think whoever did lost a bet to or is being blackmailed by George’s former employer. I cannot fathom him getting through any normal hiring process.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      It’s totally possible to feel you have to put more effort into being liked. But to suggest someone use their leave on you to do it? I think there’s a bigger issue with George than just feeling unpopular.

  14. EmpressG*

    OP, please put George in check right now or he will only get worse. His overstepping is appalling. Loop in your manager or whoever is higher up in the food chain to put George back in his own lane. Accessing your PTO to have long lunches with him??? This is the 7th circle of Hell.

  15. Essentially Cheesy*

    My response may not be popular but here it is:

    “No thank you” is a complete sentence. Period.

    1. old curmudgeon*

      Also, “No” is a complete sentence.

      After five months of being subjected to that kind of boundary-stomping, that’s the one I’d be most likely to use. But then, I also have absolutely no qualms about being thought a witch, so your mileage may vary.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        100% agree to both of these, it’s so freeing when you finally realize this. And also that “because reasons” (i.e., none of your business or hand wave or I don’t want to talk about it) is a perfectly reasonable response to the natural follow-up question of “Why not?”

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yup. When you explain why you’re saying no, someone like George will think you’re negotiating or you’re giving him a problem to solve.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I nearly wrote “No is not the start of a negotiation process, its a full sentence.” because I had to use it frequently at a former job.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        Unfortunately women usually have to weasel about their no’s so as to not mortally offend a dude, and OP has even more reason to not offend the dude and look like a bitter witch. He called her bluff on this, unfortunately.

    3. There You Are*

      I take it, then, that you’ve never been on the receiving end of retaliation when you “failed” to properly massage a male co-worker’s / manager’s ego and protect him from his own feelings?

      Because I have.

      In the Great Recession.

      When jobs were scarce and I damned sure needed the one I had.

      “No thank you,” even with a smile, wasn’t good enough for him.

      It feels great to give advice like, “‘No’ is a complete sentence,” on the internet, but sometimes life is actually a mix of unsafe shades of gray and not stark black-and-white.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        That’s a very unfortunately situation you found yourself in and I’m so sorry about it, but I am not sure that’s the case here. “‘No’ is a complete sentence” seems like useful advice in this situation, given OP’s narrative that they continued to offer reasons as to why they couldn’t have lunch with George; George seems to have taken that info and ran with it, rather than reading into OP’s hints that in fact OP did not actually want to have lunch with George.

        I get that OP doesn’t want to seem like a witch who resents George for taking the job that OP wanted, but I also don’t see any evidence that OP feels the need to massage George’s ego in this situation.

        1. There You Are*

          Massaging a man’s ego (making sure his feelings don’t get hurt) is frequently the reason why we women soften the message when saying No to a man, so that we don’t suffer an additional consequences for being Female In The Workplace.

          The OP even says so in the letter, when she says she is worried about looking like a bitter witch.

          “My real worry is that *it will irreparably damage the relationship*, because I cannot figure out how to tell him he needs to respect boundaries and back off *without him being immensely offended*. I also have to protect my own image in the company and not come off as an unfriendly, bitter witch…”

  16. Anonymous Koala*

    OP, do we work at the same place? Because my new manager is just like this…
    Alison’s advice is spot on, particularly the part about not worrying about George’s big feelings. At my job our new George is notorious within the department, and no one would bat an eye if another colleague was firm about boundaries with him. It sounds like your colleagues might react similarly.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Agreed, George’s feelings are not really relevant at this point. The bigger issue this company should be worried about is how George’s promotion and subsequent cluelessness is affecting everybody else’s feelings.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        As I’ve quoted before, the humorist Cynthia Heimel summed it up best: “Who cares what this guy’s story is?”

        After a certain point, no one gives a rat’s patoot why you are the way you are. They care about you going far away from them and leaving them alone.

  17. Hard Money Blues*

    Friendly reminder that you can’t ever expect other people to take your “hints”. That’s just another way of not being clear and direct. It would be nice if you could get people into your mind/viewpoint/brain/lens/history/culture/mood of the moment so that they can understand your “hint”. But alas, all we have is our direct words.

    1. EPLawyer*

      I agree. OP needs to be more direct. She says “I’m fine, now about work” and he doesn’t get subject closed. She needs to say “My health is not up for discussion, now about work.” Same with the lunches. She says she gets 30 minutes so he figures the time limit is the problem so he arranges for her to waste her leave on him. Because of course, she has NO OTHER USE for that leave. She needs to say “Please stop asking me to lunch.”

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Well, some people can figure it out. George just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

    3. Pierrot*

      Yeah, but I understand why LW has relied on (pretty strong) hints thus far. This person is above her on the hierarchy and it makes sense to try a softer approach at first. Most people would take the hint. The softer approach is clearly not working at this point, so I agree that it calls for a direct conversation.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree – you’d have thought that ‘Oh, thanks but I only get 30 minutes for lunch, so I don’t have time to go out’ would be a polite and perfectly normal way of declining that most people would understand to mean ‘no’. George’s response, ‘OP only gets half an hour and that’s why she can’t come out for lunch with me? Well, I can fix that! I’ll go and get her approval to use her leave for a longer lunch break!’, is massively overstepping and isn’t at all what you’d expect to happen. So I can see why the OP was blindsided by it. Now she knows George is likely to react to a ‘Sorry, can’t because of X’ with a ‘Right, how can we get rid of X’, she can make sure she keeps things very clear and direct, and doesn’t offer any potential reasons that George could latch on to and try to fix.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          And I am sure George is genuinely bewildered that his “helpful fixes” aren’t winning him friendship and admiration. He sees any excuse not as a polite face saver, but an opportunity to help out a colleague whose only reason not to be his new best friend is the time allotted for lunch.

        2. Sharon*

          Yes. Some people have a really hard time understanding indirect hints and can find it really helpful to get a direct response that others might find rude (like “I don’t want to have lunch with you.”) Know your audience, though.

          1. penny dreadful analyzer*

            Unfortunately some people have a hard time understanding indirect hints and find a direct response just as rude as other people would. These people can be very draining to deal with, now that they’ve ensured there is no acceptable way to say no to them. George may well be one of those people, although there’s no way for LW to find out for sure other than trying the direct approach and seeing if he blows up about it.

    4. lia*

      Yes, I once FINALLY shut down a co-worker who kept asking me (and every other woman in our unit including the married ones) out on dates with this:
      Him: “wanna go see X movie this weekend?”
      Me: “Yes. But not with you. Now about this work topic….”

  18. David K*

    Based on the fact that OP is worried about being perceived as a “witch”, I’m guessing they are a woman. Am I wrong that this might change the dynamic and put it closer to sexual harassment territory? This would especially be the case if George were more pushy about socializing with the OP than with other colleagues. (I’d be surprised if he pulled the lunch break stunt with more people than the OP.)

    1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I think I was typing at the same time as you – I had the same thought. Actually, the lunch break thing is so over the top I’m beginning to worry for the LW’s safety if that’s the case.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      He’s doing this with everybody.

      Since he started, he has been strongly pushing for personal connections with employees, including me, and is ignoring polite professional cues and boundaries, and it is making us all uncomfortable.


      He also pushes staff to share their hobbies, tries to plan friend-group style boardgame nights/days for evenings and weekends, tries to get the details of any groups or clubs we are in, and tries to push us to sign him up for them.

      You are also taking the “witch” comment out of context:

      I also have to protect my own image in the company and not come off as an unfriendly, bitter witch (which is a possibility given that people know I was meant to be in that role).

      Keep in mind that this was supposed to be LW’s job. Yeah, people are probably looking for her to not be happy about any of this, which is why she is concerned about the appearance of being angry and upset and lashing out. (Although lashing out at George would be highly understandable.)

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I seriously get the feeling that George really wants to date OP specifically, even if he does act like this with everyone.

  19. Fluffy Fish*

    OP – sometimes with some people you can’t give them a reason as a no. When you give them a reason they think you mean “I would if I didn’t have (reason)”. You’re thinking of it as a polite let down, but that’s not how its perceived.

    So you have two options. “No thank you” on repeat. Or a reason that is not up for negotiation. “No, thank you. I keep my personal and private life separate.” On repeat.

  20. Richard Hershberger*

    “He also pushes staff to share their hobbies,”

    Let me tell you about the shifts in cultural norms that led to the rise of baseball as an organized adult activity. Are you sitting down? This will take a while…

    “…tries to get the details of any groups or clubs we are in, and tries to push us to sign him up for them.”

    Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Let me tell you about mine!

    That last one is entirely outside my religious tradition, but I am fluent enough in Evangelicalese that I could probably fake it. But only after first confirming that George is not himself Evangelical. That would backfire quickly. Safer to instead discourse on the Marbury Colloquy and its influence on modern Protestantism. That would make George sorry he ever decided to chat me up.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      D’oh! Marburg, not Marbury. Marbury is something else entirely, though I suppose you could characterize Marbury vs. Madison as a colloquy.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      Even if A George himself identifies as Evangelical, there are so many variations you should be able to sidestep any backfires.

      I myself once fended off unwanted particular flavor of Evangelical proselytizing by launching into an “oh that reminds me!” detailed description of the Roman Catholic Charismatic healing services I’d been to as a teen. That was not a conversation they wanted to be in for some reason.

      But seriously, I think less engagement is better with George right now, what with his epic boundary crossing and professional mis-behaviors.
      Basically OP:
      Don’t use multiple sentences when one will do.
      Don’t use multiple words when one will do.
      Don’t use multiple syllables when one will do.

      Cordial tone, but short and to the point.

  21. Pierrot*

    I think that George is very desperate to be well liked, possibly to compensate for the fact that he knows he was underprepared for this role. Of course, it is completely backfiring and it’s a self fulfilling prophecy because as long as he keeps bulldozing over peoples’ boundaries, people will continue to dislike him, he will become more insecure, and then he will continue to push peoples’ boundaries even harder.
    I am wondering if OP has a manager or even someone higher in the company like a mentor who she can confide in. Obviously, this has to be someone that she trusts but since other people are experiencing at least some of George’s cluelessness, that might be something to lean on. Of course, there’s always a risk of coming off as “mean” (even though it isn’t), but I think the LW could just stick with the facts and how his behavior feels inappropriate. I would not mention the fact that he took the job from LW because that is on the company, not George.

    1. Licking Crackers*

      This may be a little scorched earth, but if whomever she thought she could trust wasn’t able to successfully get her into that job, then she has no one there that she can trust has any teeth to help her now.

  22. Mid*

    While George has overstepped reasonable boundaries, it does sound like everyone might be freezing him out. Some of the stuff is fairly innocuous (inviting people to board game nights, asking about your weekend), and since he’s doing it to everyone, I wonder if everyone knows the job was “supposed” to go to OP, and therefore everyone is chilly towards him, causing him to push harder on the socializing. I know this will be an unpopular take.

    If George doesn’t know that he was a surprise hire, he’s probably confused as to why everyone at his new job is being cold towards him, and I can see why that wouldn’t feel great. Heck, even if he did know he was a surprise, he still might not have been expecting a chilly reception.

    So, while OP is perfectly correct in having those boundaries and not wanting to socialize with George, I do think it could be a kindness to find some time to do something semi-friendly with him, especially if the entire office is being cold, possibly in solidarity with OP. Not a “use PTO for an unwanted lunch” level friendly, but see if there could be a team lunch (not using anyone’s PTO) or even offering a coffee run with George (if that’s in the office culture.) Don’t socialize outside of work, and don’t share more information than you want to about your personal life and free time. But, it does sound like George might be seeing an entire office full of people who dislike him because he was hired for a job, and that feels like it’s verging on bullying.

    Again, he’s clearly trampling on boundaries, and trying to join clubs others are in and make weekend plans and pushing for medical information is not okay. But I can also see how starting a new job in a new office and everyone giving you the cold shoulder could cause someone to behave increasingly irrationally, even though the result is the opposite of what he wants. By forcing more and more friendliness, he’s getting less and less in return. And it shouldn’t have to be on OP to break that cycle or be George’s friend. But, if they have the capacity, showing some warmth, within the office and the personal boundaries they want, could go a long way.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Nah, someone new coming in and suddenly organizing board game nights on MY time and then asking to be signed up for MY clubs is going to get a cold shoulder, whether anyone else was promised the job or not.

      George is an ass and is being treated like one regardless of any job OP was promised.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Strongly agree. Some people find board game nights a jolly way to spend the evening. Others don’t. Either way, coming from a boss, and a new one at that, is not good.

      2. Mid*

        I don’t disagree! I would also absolutely hate to have a George in my workplace. But, if everyone was freezing him out immediately, this could be a reaction to that. It’s been recommended in the past as well, with coworkers who keep wanting to socialize. Be stricter on the personal boundaries but add extra warmth in other areas. Do a coffee run but firmly shut down lunch. And make it very clear that joining hobbies is too much and alienating people.

      3. redflagday701*

        Right. We should be kind and compassionate and forgiving to the best of our abilities, but it’s also OK for there to be natural consequences for rude or thoughtless behavior — especially from an adult who was hired as a manager! When someone tramples boundaries as badly as he has, you don’t want to give them the impression that it’s no big deal. The way for him to counteract a chilly reception (if his reception even has been that chilly) is to be friendly, polite, and professional, and do a great job in his new role.

    2. MsM*

      If I try and get a regular social activity with my team going and don’t get any takers, I’m going to take that as a sign this is not how the culture of this particular office works. Maybe I’ll double-check that impression with someone I have managed to strike up at least a cordial relationship with or whose experience/judgment I respect before I give up entirely, but if I just keep pushing and then wonder why it’s not helping, that’s on me.

      I’m not sure why it’s on OP and/or everyone else to accommodate George when George’s “friendliness” seems to consist of pushing his idea of what a good rapport should look like on everyone, instead of making an effort to listen and figure out what the people he’s trying to make friends with actually want. And if what they want is a purely professional relationship, then he needs to figure out how to not take that personally (or at least not let his disappointment interfere with anything) and keep the interactions focused on work.

    3. Just Another Zebra*

      But how much is “freezing out” and how much is “feeling out the new guy”?

      There’s always an adjustment period when a new person is hired, on both sides. Coming in with the “Let’s be BEST FRIENDS” banners when you’re new will be incredibly off-putting in most environments. People may have been impartial to George before he started his shenanigans, and are now giving him the cold shoulder because who wants to spend more time with someone who apologizes for 10 minutes and wants me to burn PTO to grab lunch?

    4. Bagpuss*

      I don’t feel that that’s really OP’s issue to manage. It may be part of the reason behind his behaviour, but it would more be for his manager to address with him. I would strongly disagree that keeping to a professional rather than friendly level of interaction is bullying.
      What OP describes suggests that he is not respecting people’s boundaries and at this stage, the last thing she needs tis to behave more warmly when he’s already massively over stepping .

    5. Zarniwoop*

      It’s not just that he got “her” job – outside hires happen. It’s that he sucks at it.

    6. JelloStapler*

      Saying “oh it would be fun to do a board game” and then paying attention to the reaction would be normal. This sounds like way too much. And George sounds like someone who does not listen unless you hit him over the head with it, and thus why people may be freezing him out because he won’t take a hint and slow his roll.

    7. Colette*

      I would be friendly-but-distant to George, because he seems like a time and energy black hole.

      I do agree the OP should be friendly but vague – i.e. superficial chit-chat in a warm tone, share the kind of details you’d discuss with a cashier or barista.

      And be direct when he is really out of line.

    8. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      “Reward this behavior by giving him just a little of what he wants” is not the solution here. Respectfully.

    9. Hannah Lee*

      “While George has overstepped reasonable boundaries, it does sound like everyone might be freezing him out.”

      a) not everyone. Apparently op’s manager is open to his persuasion and ideas about how someone else’s PTO should be allocated.
      b) choosing not to spend time out of work with co-workers old or new is NOT freezing someone out. It’s just having work/real life boundaries
      c) there’s no requirement that a “we’re not really a big hang-out socially with co-workers” culture needs to complete morph to the preferences of a new faux-gregarious colleague.

      Whatever George is or isn’t doing as far as failing to read the room, or repeatedly taking a scattershot approach to trying to immediately be friends with everyone, insinuate himself into other peoples personal lives instead of allowing connections to develop more organically from work interactions or dragooning other people’s PTO time for his personal socializing needs, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to hang out socially with people you work with, or even a particular person you work with. As long as people are behaving professionally and cordially in their *work* interactions, they’re good.

    10. Cake or Death*

      The response to someone trampling your appropriate boundaries is not to relax those boundaries that they’ve been trampling over.
      This is like telling a woman who is being hounded y a guy to go out with him to “just go out on a date worth him”

      1. Mid*

        Except that’s not at all what I’m saying, and as someone who has been sexually harassed in my workplace and was told to very literally go on a date with someone so they would stop harassing me, I honestly deeply resent that comparison.

        I specifically said that OP could do **workplace specific things that still respect their boundaries.** Getting coffee, not going for lunch. Treating this person like they would another coworker who they don’t obviously resent. I also didn’t say they had any obligation to do this, but it would be kind because it does sound like this new coworker is being given a cold reception by everyone, and that is a terrible position to be in.

        And yes, ideally George would pick up that literally no one likes him and stop trying, but that also feels an awful lot like schoolyard bullying, and I firmly believe that being clear is the kindest thing, instead of assuming everyone will understand your silent signals. Have you never been in a situation where someone disliked you for no known reason, and tried to be nicer to get them to like you? Tried harder and then that only made someone like you less? It’s not great. And with the benefit of hindsight, sure, you can usually see that you should have backed off, but in the moment, many people react by trying harder to be included, not accepting the social rejection.

  23. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    Based on the LW not wanting to “come off as an unfriendly, bitter witch”, it looks likely to me that the LW is female, so I wonder if Clueless George has ulterior motives. Is there a difference in how hard he tries to get to know male employees vs. female employees?

    1. EPLawyer*

      OMG just ONCE can we not go to “He must have a crush on her.” He’s doing it to EVERYONE. He’s trying to organize board game nights on EVERYONE’s time. he wants to be signed up with EVERYONE’s club.

      Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes an ass is just an ass.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        That may be, but it’s worth asking the question. I doubt he has tried to rearrange anyone else’s lunch hour.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Yes, insisting that OP have lunch with him is why this has wandered into “George wants a date” territory for me. I don’t think he’s doing it to anyone else.

      2. SometimesCharlotte*

        I wasn’t going to “he must have a crush on her.” I was going to this is already inappropriate behavior and if it’s a behavior he does towards women but not men, it ups the creepy factor.

      3. Clovers*

        The long-lunch thing is specifically why it comes across as though his boundary issues are particularly egregious with OP.

  24. redflagday701*

    …if you can manage that vibe, it might be really helpful with him in a lot of these situations. In many cases you can be pretty damn blunt as long as you sound warm and cheerful.

    This is so true and, honestly, so much fun if you can pull it off. When someone is being a real doofus or a straight-up jerk, it feels so good to come out and let them know they should knock it off, but with a lighthearted tone and the warmest smile on your face. If they get upset and push back, they just dig themselves in deeper, and at that point, somebody else usually feels empowered to back you up; if they say they didn’t realize what they were doing, you just tell them it’s no big deal and everybody gets to move on. It tends to be way more effective than calling someone out harshly because it diffuses other people’s discomfort and lets the offender save face.

  25. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    I don’t have anything new to add but George sucks and so does your company’s management. Your feelings are valid, LW!

  26. KK*

    “He went to the company directly, arranged for me to use my own leave to take three times as long of a lunch break”

    HOW on earth is this even allowed?? No one can speak for or request my PTO other than ME!

    1. GRA*

      This is such a bizarre situation. As a manager, I would never let someone else speak for one of my reports’ PTO.

  27. Turtlewings*

    Tbh I would have stopped caring about his feelings the minute he arranged my PTO without me. How did he even get away with that?!!

    Hints are not gonna work on this guy. I think you’ll be lucky if a blunt and visibly angry “Never talk to me again” works on this guy. Good luck, OP.

  28. Abogado Avocado*

    LW, I feel for you. To have had a role promised to you, but given to someone else who you have to train is awful. You are a jewel. Thus, it seems to me that your issues are with management. I get that you don’t like George (and, indeed, there’s plenty to dislike); yet, dealing with him appears, from here at least, to be secondary to the position management is putting you in.

    Have you asked for an explanation from management or, at least, your manager as to why a position promised as part of your career path went to someone less experienced who you had to train? Further, has your manager explained why they lengthened your PTO for lunch with George without consulting you?

    Again, I get that George is a royal pain. To me, however, the real question is why management is treating your career path and wishes secondarily to George’s.

    Good luck. If this employer doesn’t appreciate you, there is one out there that will!

  29. JelloStapler*

    The lunch break thing is an overreach in so many ways, but I know I would not have TIME in my workload to have longer lunches and still get things done.

  30. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

    After reading the first paragraph, I thought this might be a situation where LW is a bit defensive and ready to find fault because of the pass over for the promotion. But then this! “He went to the company directly, arranged for me to use my own leave to take three times as long of a lunch break, and spoke to the director about my workload to get approval for me to shuffle things around, then emailed me afterwards and told me that he had done so while also telling me that the director strongly approves of it.” He MADE LW use personal leave for lunch with him without telling OP. I would be livid and a terrible lunch companion.

  31. Festively Dressed Earl*

    If George were female, he’d probably be tasked with organizing a monthly after work drinks night or something. If George were less clueless, that might have been a good idea.

  32. Emily*

    “Beyond that, you can set a lot of boundaries in the moment — keeping in mind that “boundaries” refers to how you behave, not what he does. In other words, you can’t change him, but you can change your own responses.” Yes, yes, yes! I want this embroidered! So many people seem to think setting boundaries is about trying to change the other person, and if you are unable to you have failed at setting boundaries. Boundaries is all about how you respond to/handle things, no matter what the other person does.

  33. TootsNYC*

    ” He went to the company directly, arranged for me to use my own leave to take three times as long of a lunch break,”

    wait–he wants the LW to USE UP THEIR VACATION TIME in order to have lunch with him?

    and the director of HR allowed that?

    1. TootsNYC*

      It would be different if he got permission for those lunch periods to not count as lunch, but instead to be classified as meeting time with him, or something.

      That’s what I’d have done, if I really wanted the person to go to lunch with me (it’s what I’ve assumed anywhere I worked–if my boss asked me to get lunch with them, I assumed the whole lunch was work, and it could be as long as my boss wanted. I would have also expected my personal lunch period to be absorbed into it, unless I’d planned to run an important errand.)

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, this is how work lunches operate in my line of work, too – I’m paid a salary rather than by the hour, and I get an hour’s unpaid lunch break. If I go out with colleagues, we ought to make an effort to get back in around an hour, but 10-15 minutes won’t matter in the grand scheme of things as long as we’re not late for a meeting and we’re not doing it every day. If my boss asks me to go out for lunch with them, then the understanding is that it could be as long as necessary or as long as the boss wants, because it’s work time. Yes, my own lunch break is included in the time, but it’s a working lunch so if my boss deems it OK for us to be out for two hours then that’s fine. I get the sense that the OP might be paid by the hour, if they’re having to use leave to cover a longer lunch break? But I’m also not sure why lunch with someone higher up wouldn’t simply be counted as working time.

      2. JelloStapler*

        But also assuming you wanted them to go to lunch with you due to something work-related, not to be your buddy.

  34. LinesInTheSand*

    LW, the PTO thing reminded me of a relative I have who does not understand the idea of a polite excuse. If you tell her “no I can’t get lunch because ” she will focus on solving rather than hearing “no” and then she’ll be confused as to why I still don’t want to get lunch.

    With her, I do not give reasons when I say no. I need her to hear “no”. I know this is trickier with a colleague than a relative, but you may want to try that. Just focus on “no”. Don’t give reasons. “I’m sorry I can’t” is good enough

    1. londonedit*

      Yes, some people are definitely like this. I have a friend who’s similar – you can’t ever do the ‘Oh, sorry, I’m already going out to lunch that day’ thing because she’ll come back with ‘OK, well what time will that finish? We could do a coffee afterwards? Where will you be? I could come and meet you if that’s easier? Or are you around in the evening? We could meet for dinner instead?’ until you feel like you’ll have to agree to something just to get her to stop. So instead you have to stick to ‘Oh, sorry, can’t make Thursday’ and not elaborate. Which, in my culture, feels like you’re being rude, but it’s the only way to go!

      1. Silver Robin*

        I definitely had the impulse to be that friend and list off a bunch of alternatives, but I got a handle on that by following up on a “no, can’t, already have lunch plans” with “oh shoot, is there another time that works? [optional addition of, “I am generally free during these time ranges”]” and then – and this is important! – sitting on my hands until I got an actual concrete response.

        I totally get wanting to be flexible to make things easier on people, but if they give you an excuse, accept the rejection and put the ball in their court to schedule something. If they never do, that means they do not want to or it just is not enough of a priority. Take that info, continue treating that person respectfully, and move on.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Yep; some people can be told “no, because I would rather scavenge and fight the local raccoon gangs for a chicken carcass out of a dumpster than have lunch with you” and they start Googling “how to negotiate with raccoons.” To help!

  35. IwishIcouldthinkofaname*

    I would give serious thought to contacting HR and asking them if George can force me to take PTO to have lunch with him. Say that I am getting worried by his constant pushing for us to spend time together. And not even mention the words ‘harassment’ or ‘lawyer’…

    1. Colette*

      I definitely wouldn’t mention the words “harassment” or “lawyer”, because it’s likely there is nothing illegal going on and no reason for legal action in any way. Being a jerk is legal, for the most part.

  36. Looper*

    Care way less about George and your current employer’s view of you and more about finding a new job. That your workplace has hired a complete and utter clown to a position you were “promised” sends a big message and you should heed it: you are not valued and you never will be. It’s time to move on before this job turns you into the bitter witch you fear.

  37. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Wow, he’s being outright creepy.

    There are some people who see a need to be friends with everyone around them – and rather than let it progress naturally (or not) decide to try and force the issue. It’s really wrong and something most people grow out of.

    And yeah, I’ve had the ‘I want to be your BEST friend and spend all the time with you! What, you don’t? OMG you cold hearted witch’ types before. The best thing to do is basically give them nothing but overly professional politeness. You don’t discuss anything but work – change the subject frequently if you have to – and when they start pushing to try and get more you just go HAL9000 on them – ‘I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that’

    Whether or not he intends it, or has some kind of other reason, he’s being very creepy.

  38. Budgie Buddy*

    I think George will never get the hint unless OP says “Don’t do X.” OP has tried “X is not needed” tried shuffling away whenever X comes up, tried “I prefer Y over X” and is about to tip over “You keep doing X and it is making me ANGRY.”

    Between those steps is “Don’t do X.” And “I told you Don’t do X. To be clear, if you Do X, again I will Do Z.” (Where Y is escalating by lodging an official complaint.)

    This guy is a vortex making OP’s work life all about him and I’m sorry she’s dealing with this bizarre situation.

    1. Overit*

      But if HR/Mgmt is allowing him to steal OP’s PTO to lunch with him, would a formal complaint mean anything?

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        Dunno. Odds aren’t good, but either way OP will have more data on just how messed up her job is as she’s considering whether to work with this or find something better.

  39. Overit*

    1. Honestly if my promised promotion went to someone I was forced to train up for the role, I would be fully invested in finding another job asap.
    2. To whom is George related that he got a job for which he was unqualified AND, more shockingly, was allowed to comandeer the OP’s PTO to go to lunch with him? I mean…HELL NO!

  40. IwishIcouldthinkofaname*

    Which is why I wouldn’t use them – but I would raise a stink about someone trying to adjust my hours in his favour without consulting me. I am old enough and bitter enough to have once told an employer on Wednesday that either they fixed a problem, or my last day was Friday – and that if they felt that was a career-ending move, that was OK. They fixed it.

    1. IwishIcouldthinkofaname*

      Nesting fail – sorry – that was supposed to go under Colette’s reply to my earlier comment.

  41. Safely Retired*

    “Another example, if I am off sick, he will call to check on me when I get back”
    “Rinse and repeat for how my weekend was, how my holiday was, etc.”

    Some suggestions:
    “Since I am at work, you can assume I’m well enough to be here.”
    “Busy.” Or any neutral one word… fine for one example.

  42. HeyThere*

    Honestly can’t wait for the update to this one to be, ‘it never got better but it’s okay because I got a new job!’

    1. To the Analytical Engine!*

      Agreed! Preferably by this summer’s call for updates!

      George is bad enough, but management is waving so many big red flags, it really feels like the best possible option is to get gone.

  43. Knope Knope Knope*

    I was friends with a George. When he met his now-wife more than 10 years ago, she decided she did not care for one of our friends and tried to cut her out our something and we were all not invited the wedding. Honestly, I barely registered it back then and certainly didn’t care. In my mind we had already grown apart and I can’t even remember if I realized he was getting married, though I was happy enough for him. You meet new people. You grow your own way. No hard feelings on my end. Life moved on. He still texts me apologizing for this and sending random life updates or memories from random get togethers 15 years ago multiple times a month or even multiple times a week more than a decade later. Some people are truly just clueless.

  44. merida*

    Oh wow, I wish I had some magically good advice for LW but I have only sympathy. I used to work with someone who sounds similar – very very pushy, wanted to be friends but wouldn’t take any hints, very anxious, sensitive, etc. Other than communicating clear boundaries, there’s truly nothing else LW can do. In my situation, I set all the boundaries with him, talked to HR (they did little/nothing), talked my manager, followed Alison’s advice (I wrote in and Alison gave very wise advice as always :), and he had multiple Big Reactions. At the end of the day people are going to show their true colors.

  45. Essess*

    I would bluntly tell George that my lunch breaks are necessary private times for me to recharge and decompress. The fact that he arranged usage of YOUR PTO time with your management without your consent is a major overstep that should be discussed with HR.

    I would also be blunt when pressured that I’m not going to discuss my private health details so let’s talk about work instead.

    1. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

      Yeah, my question would have been, wait, is this a working lunch? If so, I will charge the time and not use PTO. Otherwise, I am not available because I reserve that time for myself and things I need to do on my time. I hope you can respect that.

  46. goddessoftransitory*

    Ugh, I work with—not a George, but a George-Adjacent. He’s nowhere near trying to steal/arrange PTO for lunches, but that’s because he’s A) not management and B) only one person can take their lunch at at time where we work, or he’d try it.

    Reading this letter I kept nodding and going “yep, yep, yep…” the overfriendliness, the horning in on conversations, the repeating of information and jokes, the “subtle” asking of weekend plans–he’s exhausting. He means well but is so clearly blaring I HAVE NO BOUNDARIES, NONE AT ALL that you can’t even be work-nice to him; the briefest polite conversation means he’s interrupting you every ten minutes your entire shift to try to continue whatever it was you politely nodded to six hours ago.

    1. Little Dog*

      Yeah, I have a George, too. They are like puppies, you know, and you don’t want to kick them, but you also don’t want to throw their ball all day.

  47. LK*

    Am I understanding correctly that George’s solution was to request for the LW’s leave time be substracted to take this long lunch? Because if so, I’d be making it very clear when turning this down that I wanted my leave time – for this thing I did not request – refunded to me posthaste!

  48. River*

    George could benefit from attending some sort of managers workshop or taking some professional management courses or finding someone appropriate whom to shadow in order to act more like a manager. It can be lonely in management and George might have realized this and now wants to be part of the crowd again. It’s advised that management shouldn’t fraternize with their own staff, for professional and personal reasons. He’s crossing boundaries that he shouldn’t be.

    As for the lunch thing. I can’t even fathom. I just don’t understand how someone does something like that. Then again, just when you’ve seen/heard it all…here we are. I would imagine the OP has already gone to the appropriate parties to try and resolve this. At this point, I would even question what the heck George’s manager was thinking. That’s a little scary. A manager’s manager isn’t even competent enough to see how much in the wrong they were.

    George may have a sneaking suspicion that the OP was supposed to be in his position and is in his own way trying to make amends by being overly friendly. That might explain the constant “Are you okay?” questions and possibly trying to get some hint or clue that OP could be resentful for not getting the promotion. I don’t blame OP for that.
    Also, I am wondering if George is possibly spectrumy or doesn’t really have any friends in that he cannot recognize social cues/hints, is too personal or just doesn’t know how to socialize. He wants to get together with people after work for games/events. Maybe he just needs a friend during this new change of pace in the management league.

    As hard as this sounds, it might take some generous and kind bluntness for a while for the message to sink in and with that, the hope is that he can on his own figure out “appropriate” responses to conversations/situations. Though that requires patience and energy, it may pay off in the long run. Yes there’s the hope that when someone gets hired for a position that they ease into it as smooth as possible but this is not one of those instances. George doesn’t sound like he is appropriate for this position. Best of luck to all in this situation.

  49. Here for the Insurance*

    LW, I say this with kindness: it’s a mistake for you to worry about damaging the relationship or offending him. He’s damn sure not worried about doing either of those things. He’s being Godzilla and you’re worried about hurting his feelings? No. He doesn’t have to like you, he doesn’t have to think you’re “nice”. Being firm is the only thing a person like this understands. It’ll feel rude to you — you still need to do it. How he reacts is his responsibility.

    And please don’t let your worry about being seen by others as an unfriendly, bitter witch overly influence you. There’s a world of acreage between that and being a pushover who won’t stand up for herself. The trick is to find the right balance and not get overly anxious about what other people think. Reasonable people will actually respect you more if you maintain your boundaries and don’t take other people’s shit.

  50. Dawn*

    I’ve got 20 bucks on this guy behaving (actionably) inappropriately toward a woman before the quarter is out.

  51. Kindred Spirit*

    It really is a bridge too far for George to have talked to OP’s manager about using PTO to extend her lunch break. He just sounds socially awkward and is leaning too far into making his coworkers fulfill his social and emotional needs. He sounds clueless, but I also feel sorry for him.

  52. Michelle Smith*

    Please, please update us on how it goes! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you that you can get this person to back off and act appropriately for the setting.

  53. Raida*

    I’d just talk to my manager, and ask them to handle talking to George’s manager.

    That’s the person to talk responsibility for his actions, with the authority to do it, and without it coming directly from the person complaining.

    I’d offer a bullet point list of the oversteps, of the number of times he needs to be told to get back to work, of the amount of time – not hyperbolic! – he takes to apologise.
    I’d include suggestions on what changes staff would like to see – for example some public speaking training would help him not waffle, some management training could help him stay on task when complimenting staff, performance reviews could be more structured to ensure they stay on track, etc

  54. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    You’ll need to be very, very direct with George; he’s unable or unwilling to pick up on ordinary social cues and is either ignoring or not understanding your many attempts to get him to leave you alone when it comes to socializing. My best guess is that he’s lonely, has difficulty making friends and sees his colleagues as a pool of ready-made pals who can’t escape his overtures by disappearing down the street, onto a bus, etc.; you all HAVE to be in the office so that’s his hunting ground for friendship. It really is pretty pathetic but it is not your problem to solve!

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