a coworker told me I talk too much, I’m still ruminating over a job I didn’t take, and more

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

1. A coworker I barely know told me I talk too much

My friend “Mark” and I work for the same large company. It’s large enough that we rarely encounter each other at work and don’t know many of each other’s colleagues. We recently had a company-wide conference that included a luncheon. After getting my food, I noticed Mark sitting with a couple of friends from his department and asked if I could sit with them. They all happily agreed and told me they weren’t saving seats for anyone. While we chatted, several other people from Mark’s department sat down in the remaining seats at the table. We said hello but returned to speaking with each other because the room was loud and the table too large to facilitate conversations between everyone. I thought everyone had a nice time and I enjoyed meeting Mark’s work friends.

A few weeks later I ran into Mark in the parking garage as we were leaving for the day. As we were standing outside our cars chatting, another woman approached to get into her car. Mark waved to her and then gestured at me, asking, “Have you met my friend Jane?” The woman, Maggie, frowned at me for a moment and then said, “Oh yes, you sat at our table at the luncheon. I spent the whole time thinking, ‘She talks a lot.'” She then got in her car and drove away without another word.

I was flabbergasted. The woman had been one of the people who joined the table after I sat down and had seemed content to engage the people sitting immediately beside her. I’m sure I said hello and smiled, but it would have been awkward to try to extend the conversation down to her end. She also didn’t attempt to speak to me or anyone on my end of the table.

I’m definitely a friendly, outgoing person, but I’ve never been accused before of monopolizing conversations or talking over others. Do you think I should reach out and apologize to her? It’s unlikely that we’ll ever need to work together but I hate the thought that I offended someone. Mark doesn’t think I did anything wrong, but he’s literally the most talkative person I’ve ever met, so I don’t know how much stock to put in his opinion.

Maggie sounds like an ass! Unless your behavior at lunch was truly outrageous — like constantly talking over people, cutting them off, and, I don’t know, name-calling anyone who tried to interject, her comment was bizarrely rude. Even if you did talk a bit too much, she wouldn’t be justified in trying to cut you down in such a nasty way later. That she was willing to say that makes her judgment completely unreliable, so I wouldn’t worry too much about her opinion … and you definitely don’t need to apologize. She should apologize to you, if anything.

If you’re concerned, though, you could ask people you trust to be honest with you whether they think you sometimes talk too much and should tone it down … and in upcoming social situations you could pay attention to how much you’re talking versus how much other people are talking (for example, if there are five people hanging out, are you talking significantly more than 20% of the time?). But this sounds much more likely to be a Maggie issue than a you issue.

2. I’m still ruminating over a job I didn’t take

Last year, I interviewed with a company for a position I was really excited about. It involved everything I wanted to do and to grow into, and was highly collaborative. They had me meet with the team I’d be working with day-to-day, and the experience was really positive.

When I got the offer, the recruiter told me I was their top pick from the beginning, and they were really excited about the prospect of joining their team. So was I! And when I negotiated the salary, they accepted it without hesitation. The recruiter told me that the hiring manager’s boss said, “We want her to be happy.”

And then … I turned it down.

I had been interviewing with multiple companies, and another company had swooped in and gave me an offer at the same time. This second company did not excite me like the first, and I had much less clarity on what I’d be doing. It was definitely not a thoughtful interview process like the first. But the health insurance at the second company was more comprehensive where I live, and it included the prospect of me and my spouse getting to stay covered with our therapists. My spouse has major depressive disorder, it affects both of our lives, and we would have lost their coverage.

The job I ended up taking was terrible. I knew in my gut before it started, and it turned out to be true. I hated every day. I ended up leaving after seven months. Thankfully now my spouse has a job where we can both be on their insurance.

It’s been more than a year now, and I can’t stop thinking about the job I turned down, and how I would have learned and grown with that team. (The company also had great benefits like unlimited PTO and several more paid hours a month if you wanted to volunteer in your community during the work day.) I am with a company now where I’m burned out. The work feels monotonous and not collaborative enough, and yet it is mired in urgency culture. I feel stuck. I feel broken. I feel like this has been one big stress cycle I have not been able to release. When I think about the job I turned down and its path, I know I’m only injuring myself further (I have to move forward), and that no job can soothe these systemic issues under capitalism. How do I stop mourning it?

I’m assuming you’ve checked to see if there are current openings with the company you turned down (if you haven’t, do that immediately!) but have you considered emailing the hiring manager there, saying that you’ve been regretting turning down the job ever since you did (and explaining it was for insurance reasons if you didn’t say that at the time), and asking to be kept in mind if she has openings in the future? That’s worth doing, and you should do it today. You never know might come from that.

But also keep in mind that just because the other job turned out to be the wrong one, it doesn’t automatically follow that this one would have been the “right” one; it almost certainly would have had things you didn’t like and it’s possible that you could have ended up less happy there than you’re imagining. You never really know until you’re on board, no matter how great something looks from the outside. But even if that job would have been a complete utopia, you made the best decision for yourself with the information you had available at the time.

Also: a company that seemed wonderful wanted to hire you, which means that other companies that seem wonderful are also likely to want to hire you in the future! I suspect this has started feeling like you turned down your one chance for professional happiness, but that is very, very unlikely to be the case. You just had two duds in a row. It happens, and it doesn’t doom you for all future jobs.

3. I was offered a job but I don’t have enough information

I interviewed with a small organization for their head of operations position several months back. The role would have essentially run the company to free up the founder to develop new products and services to eventually grow the organization. The process went well but stayed at a relatively high level. I wasn’t successful in getting the job but they said they wanted to stay in touch and asked salary requirements for positions at a manager or director level (the original job was a director level).

I saw the original role re-post for a third time on LinkedIn so I took a chance and reached out. They responded quickly and we had a conversation last week about a manager level position that would be in my wheelhouse. It felt theoretical so I didn’t expect to hear anything soon but now less than a week later they’ve offered me the job.

The problem is that I don’t feel like I have near enough information. We talked at such a high level that I don’t have a good sense of the details. The exact hours, amount of PTO, benefits, weekend work (they mentioned this early on but no details), etc. all matter a great deal. I also know my salary requirement is $30k more than the position previously paid and they’re prepared to meet it but I need to know how they approach compensation in general. It’s a small org so I don’t know if they do annual raises and performance reviews or not. I’m worried asking all of these questions will make me seem unenthusiastic about the role, which isn’t true. I also have some bigger picture questions around the transition taking place, and what level of stability they have and how much rebuilding is going on.

Is there a gracious way to say I think I want the job but I need a lot of information? It probably also matters that this is a big shift for me. I’ve been in similar roles for the past 10 years. When I’ve changed workplaces, I had a really good idea what to expect because I’d done the job elsewhere before. This is a huge shift in terms of the industry and a different type of role and I want to be sure I’m comfortable with the expectations before taking the leap.

Absolutely! You can say, “Thank you so much for the offer. I’m extremely interested and think it could be a great fit. Since I have a lot of questions we didn’t have a chance to cover when we met, would it be possible to set up some time this week to talk more about the role?”

4. Should I have to use vacation time when my office closed early that day?

I was approved for two hours of vacation (end of the day from 2 – 4 pm) on Thursday. On Thursday, the boss proclaims the office is closing at 3 pm. Everyone there gets paid till 4. Can I only take one hour of vacation and they pay the other hour since the office closed early and everyone else got paid? (Everyone is salary.)

It’s up to your employer to decide; different employers handle this differently. Some will be happy to let you only charge one hour of vacation time that day. Others will still charge you two. With the latter, the argument is that you benefitted by being able to plan in advance to definitely have those two hours off, unlike the people who were at work that day.

5. Employee appreciation for a remote workforce

I’d love to hear from readers what new awards/employee appreciation efforts are underway now that many workers are remote and/or teleworking. Our office used to offer a prime parking space to the Employee of the Month, but that incentive is no longer enticing now that we aren’t in the office. I especially welcome ideas from government workers because we don’t have the same budgets as the private sector.

My go-to’s are money and extra time off, and as government you probably can’t do either of those. Readers, want to suggest ideas you’ve seen work well?

{ 416 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Let’s put suggestions for #5 as replies so they don’t take over the whole thread. Note that the LW is asking for non-money suggestions because of the restrictions they have working in government.

    1. PoolLounger*

      5: My partner’s company would occasionally give remote employees free lunches up to a certain dollar amount (usually $25-30 I believe), using a meal order/delivery app. It was always appreciated!

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        How would government be able to do that? Or are you saying they should pay out of pocket to offer that?

        1. Samwise*

          Depends on the agency / department, but they may have an unrestricted funds line. Could be from a non-governmental source. And there may be funds for food specifically.

          1. Federal employee drone*

            This. I’m a federal worker but the nature of our service means providing products to other government agencies and we’ve made a profit virtually every year except 2020. But we’re a government agency so we have to pay down that profit through things like bonuses at the end of the year, and incentive programs that award up to a day’s pay or up to three day’s PTO. (Depending on the award.)

            Only a small fraction of our funding comes from Congress and that’s usually in support of capital improvements to our 100+ year old facility.

        2. Rach*

          My SIL works for the government and pays for things out of her own pocket for the people that report to her. I don’t love that she feels she has to do this, but it is well received by her staff.

    2. HR Pufnstuff*

      LW5, I would mostly just tell them what I appreciate, giving details so they know it’s sincere.

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          Spoken words can fritter away on the wind, but a nicely written email to my boss with specific examples of my awesomeness can go into my review file. I can DEFINITELY do something with that.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            This. Reputation boosts matter.

            When I finally finished a really challenging and frustrating project for another department, someone high-up in the department sent a thank you letter to me, cc’ing my manager *and* my skip-level manager. My skip-level manager asked my manager for context about the project, and they took the opportunity to explain the challenges I’d had to overcome to deliver it.

            I don’t think I’ve ever interacted directly with my skip-level manager, so that’s quite the first impression. I’ve also filed it in my “accomplishments” folder to possibly include in a future resume.

        2. HR Pufnstuf*

          @JustMe if it’s government, that might rule out anything that costs money AND anything comp related, like PTO.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Yup. When we have charity initiatives, pretty much any PTO that’s on offer as a prize is an executive donating one of their own PTO days.

            1. Umiel*

              That’s interesting. I work for a state government agency, and extra time off is about the only thing we have available to offer. As a manager, I can award up to three days a year for an employee without getting higher up approval.

        3. AngryOctopus*

          But if it’s a government job, they may not be allowed to do anything else. Written appreciation can go into a file for review time though, which could be a direct benefit.

          1. waffles*

            Agree! Written appreciation with specifics can be referenced at performance review time, and also if you are in federal government, employees can ask for a review of their grade & step relative to their responsibilities, and this could support the case for promotion.

          2. Gato Blanco*

            Agreed. As a government worker, I have had bosses write appreciation emails to me about accomplishing X or Y and have had those added to my personnel file. When I apply for a new job within said government, the hiring managers go directly to my personnel file to check it out. These appreciation emails are like extra letters of recommendation, and they have helped me land 2 promotions in 4 years. Management is definitely not allowed to give me extra PTO or give gift cards as incentives.

            I did once work on a team where managers would pool together to make a really delicious breakfast for the team after the close of a big project. Like one of them would even hand make sausage for us. While it is not the same as getting extra PTO, we as public employees knew our management couldn’t do that, so putting in the effort to make an awesome breakfast was very much appreciated!

        4. Happy*

          Government workers understand the limitations re: vacation and money.

          Sincere words of appreciation go a long way.

        5. Yorick*

          Beyond the benefits such as filing it for review time, sincere messages of appreciation can actually be really meaningful. If you ever feel like a failure or an imposter or feel unappreciated, having a message to reread can be really special.

        6. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is definitely a personal preference. During the pandemic, when a lot of our extras funds were frozen, my management team did handwritten, personalized notes to each staff member and they were very well received. They were delivered in a manner that did not require any sort of performative thanks, but the fact that someone noticed their specific contributions and took the time to write them a thank you note was so well-received, we still hear (positive) echoes of it a few years later.

          My spouse works for the government, and he knows the best his boss can do in a lot of situations is a thank you with the big boss CCed on it. Government isn’t like private industry where you can hand out free PTO days or provide meals/gifts above a really trivial monetary value.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        As a public servant, this does matter to me. I’ve gotten a few e-mails from senior leadership about how they’re really happy with my work on X and appreciate me. It may land a bit different for me, since all my traditional office jobs have been in government, so I’ve never experienced the other kinds of perks that many of the commentariat have. Especially these days, during a long period of fiscal restraint.

      2. Echo*

        I really like this one! I’m not in government but I’m in a highly centralized corporate environment where my individual manager doesn’t have any control over my pay and time off. Honestly, it really keeps me going when I hear from my manager that she values me specifically, thinks I’m doing wonderful work that impresses her, and that my efforts contributed in meaningful ways to our team’s goals. That’s very different from a simple “thanks for doing your job, good work!” though – think more like “you’re exceptional at this one specific piece of the work. It made such a difference for our team in these specific ways. It’s hard to do that specific thing the way you did for these specific reasons and I was so impressed by the way you stepped up to the plate. I’m so grateful you’re a part of my team.”

    3. CoinPurse*

      Re:#5….my last employer did a fantastic job with employee appreciation gifts for a mixed remote/in office work force. They chose products from our region and made them personal. 4-5 times a year everyone would get a food product produced in our state. It was always a surprise. If it was a particular achievement based gift, the awards included an extra day off and a cash award. I have worked for over 50 years and it was the best I have ever seen this handled.

      1. HR Pufnstuff*

        Food is not a good idea unless the employer knows everyone’s dietary restrictions, allergies, etc. Which they shouldn’t. Besides, if they can spend money on food gifts, they can just give the money instead.

        Anyway, The LW said “government,” which implies money isn’t an option (discretionary spending is usually limited).

        1. allathian*

          Monetary gifts are pretty much always taxable income for the recipient, and this includes gift cards. In my jurisdiction the only exceptions are gift cards that can be exchanged for items that have been preselected by the employer.

          If all the employer does is share a link to a website where the recipients can pick what they want in their food basket, the employer doesn’t need to know their employees’ food restrictions.

          That said, my manager knows about my allergies, simply because she’s responsible for fixing the catering for our development days. I don’t think it’s the kind of medical information I need to keep private. Our 20-person team has a few vegetarians, a couple vegans, one who’s on a gluten-free diet and at least four who’re lactose-free, and everyone’s always been accommodated without any issues, at least for as long as I’ve been working for my current employer. Granted, my team doesn’t currently have any members with religious food restrictions.

          1. But Not the Hippopotamus*

            religious food restrictions here … I hate employer food based things. I literally can never participate. to the extent that I get excited when there’s something like bottled water that I can actually have.

            1. IT Manager in Toronto*

              I love lunches with my co-workers when we head into the office every month or two, so here’s my defence of that tradition: Not being able to accommodate religious dietary needs is probably dependent on location, though, right? I am not in a major city but I can get halal, kosher, vegan, etc. My workplace is incredibly diverse and there are many observant religious people (including a rastafarian, among other lesser-known religions) and we are always able to order for everyone. Veggies, rice, salads, fruit, lots of soups, etc can all please a large amount of people and little side dishes can serve others. The catering companies we choose are often smaller and of various ethnic backgrounds, and they are always willing to work with our dietary needs.

              1. kendall^2*

                Various people observe kosher restrictions in various ways. For some, no non-kosher ingredients is fine. For others, all prepared food has to come from a kosher-certified kitchen, which generally means a fairly limited number of food vendors, if any.

                1. K*

                  I work with a person on a strict Kosher diet and whenever we go out to eat he just orders take out from a Kosher place (he can expense it) and they deliver to the restaurant the rest of us are eating at (all prepackaged/sealed etc.), and no restaurants have ever had an issue with this, he just gives them a heads up. Even easier if we are eating in the office. Of course this is less feasible if you don’t have Kosher restaurants in the area.

              2. Rach*

                Same here re: diverse workplace and food accomodations. We recently did a self paid lunch (usually work pays for team builders but our budget has been slashed until Q4). Since most people wanted this fancy BBQ place that is absolutely not a good choice for few people on our team (myself included), we decided to have lunch at a local park, did a group order to the BBQ place, and those who didn’t want the BBQ food arranged their own food from someplace else. There are lots of ways to make things inclusive.

            2. Mel*

              They’re refusing to accommodate your religious dietary restrictions? What happened when you spoke to your manager/HR about it?

              1. Lydia*

                Offering something like treat bags or donuts or even lunch out isn’t something that has to be legally covered under accommodations. There are hundreds of letters on this website asking how to handle team lunches when people have dietary restrictions due to religious beliefs, allergies, etc. and none of Alison’s responses include reporting it as a violation.

                1. Mel*

                  …Okay? I didn’t say that it was, I asked someone a question about their comment as I was curious what response they’d had when the raised it – and obviously didn’t know who they’d raised it with.

        2. Ferret*

          This is a bit of a sandwiches rule violation. And there are plenty of places (although I can’t speak for government rules where LW is) where a small item would be find when the cash value wouldn’t.

          I am generally unsure why you think that employers shouldn’t know their employees’ dietary restrictions though. It’s good practice to check this for any in-person events and I don’t think that a remote workforce would change this

          1. cabbagepants*

            I agree. A good balance is to give a few food options and then have a final option for “I can’t eat any of these” that triggers a dialog with that specific employee.

          2. Lemon Zinger*

            There are a lot of reasons why people prefer to keep medical issues (including dietary restrictions) private, and WFH tends to afford greater levels of privacy. It’s one of the reasons I took a WFH job.

          3. Dulcinea47*

            Among other reasons already given, it’s just not practical b/c there’s so much variation in food restrictions. I can’t eat walnuts, but I don’t have the type of allergy that will result in my instant death. Someone else may have the kind of allergy where they can’t be in the same room as a walnut. I have lactose intolerance which means I can eat some kind of dairy but not others…. I don’t expect my employer to know.

            Also, IDK where you work/have worked but no, they don’t check anybody’s anything before in person events. They don’t even do a good job having a vegetarian option, the veg option is always quiche and I’m lactose intolerant, can’t eat quiche. I don’t think it’s required for them to meet religious requirements, either, b/c these are optional staff “fun” events.

      2. Dragonfly7*

        My company contracted with a company that does snack boxes during our busy season. There was a set amount of money per employee, and we choose from seriously hundreds different snacks, coffee, tea bags, etc. I loves this because I have celiac and could choose things that were safe and also that I normally wouldn’t have tried because they’re expensive.

    4. Over It*

      Not the LW but a bureaucrat on a high performing team that generally likes one another. We are hybrid and our monetary limit on things we can accept is $10 (I’m not federal, I think their limit is higher). Hoping for some good suggestions here because morale has been really bad lately and we’ve been struggling to come up with anything.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        This comment, and the ones around it, just made something click for me, that I hope might be helpful for others as well: My job does a fair amount of public appreciation (at all-staff meetings, etc.), and as far as I can tell, it goes over very well and people like it.

        But that is because we are basically happy at a base level! The salary and benefits here are good! We are generally not crazily over-worked!

        I’m sure this is a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thing — we have the basics, so can appreciate the higher-level stuff, but if we were broke and burned out, a kind word can feel like a slap in the face.

        1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

          This is a really smart connection and I definitely think you’re on to something here.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          That’s a great point. I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m doing OK. My pay is enough to meet my needs, I have pretty decent benefits, and a level of job security that many people don’t. So getting recognized is something I value more than a small gift or whatever.

        3. Over It*

          You definitely make a fair point! Our entry level positions could pay better (although still higher than most entry level jobs in most other sectors), but most people at my agency and government are well compensated for the region we live in. The political nature of our work, as well as high workloads and dysfunctional leadership…that’s another story. But a big part of the reason I’ve stuck it out this and will probably stay another few years is that I’m making 80% more than I did when I worked in the non-profit field.

        1. Abogado Avocado*

          In government, the general answer is no. Expenditures usually have to be in pursuit of a public benefit, and spur-of-the-moment, extra time off for employees doesn’t fall into that. This is why the LW is seeking non-monetary efforts.

          1. Willow Pillow*

            Yes, I read the part of Alison’s request for non-money options. Half an hour off is not a monetary effort.

            1. MAC*

              Half an hour off is absolutely a monetary effort. The agency is paying someone and not receiving the “product” (e.g. the 30 minutes of work). Whether we agree with it or not, in government agencies & contractors, that’s considered timecard fraud and can result in criminal charges and/or massive fines.

              I currently work for a federal government contractor (and have worked for both city & state agencies in the past) and this kind of “free” (pun intended) time off is typically not an option, based on the parameters of the contract. Even though we’re exempt, we have to fill out time cards assigning our hours among various charge codes in order for our company to be reimbursed by the government agency and there’s simply no “bucket” to pay for time that isn’t actually worked. Those of us who are exempt have a decent amount of flexibility in when/where we work our 40 hours, but as I said, charging and/or approving hours that weren’t actually worked is not just frowned on, it’s a prosecutable offense.

        2. Over It*

          Our agency director and mayor can give us an early dismissal, but I, at the lowest level of management, do not have that power. I think that’s pretty standard when giving extra time off for gov workers, it has to come from the top like that. We’ve only ever gotten early dismissals on Christmas Eve in the time I’ve been here, and one time we got all of Black Friday off (not considered a holiday for us!)

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m curious what is causing the low morale. If there’s an underlying problem about how your agency functions, little gifts aren’t going to fix it.

        One thing that has driven me mad about government work is when senior executives or political staff make ridiculous demands and nobody above me appears to push back or note that if we pivot to the new request, that means X, Y, and Z will need to be pushed back. (I say “appears” because I’m not privy to the discussions at the top, but I have had reason to believe that this is how it has gone). I just want to know that my leadership is trying to protect us and keep things reasonable.

        And, of course, half the time, the new super urgent thing sits on that executive’s desk for like 2 weeks before they do anything with it. So they just stressed us all out for no reason.

        Obviously, I have no idea what it’s like in your agency. The specifics may not apply.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Oh, definitely. But the “hurry up and wait” thing seems endemic here. To the point that it was super noteworthy when a friend once had a Director push back on a ridiculous request on New Year’s Eve when barely anyone was around.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Like, despite the ridiculousness, it was still very surprising that the Director was clear that the two people still there would not be working into the night to fulfill this request.

        1. Over It*

          Oh yes, hurry up and wait applies here! It’s maddening. Pay is good and my 10-person department has a good culture. But leadership is very dysfunctional (and lately seems to have it in for my team), workloads have been high with few tangible results, and the nature of our work is very public and political and it’s just been rough. So on the one hand, these are issues that staff appreciation events won’t fix and we all know that. On the other hand, a few weeks ago I found a box of ~fancy pens~ hidden in a storage closet and gave them to a coworker who loves fancy pens, and I think I just made his whole year. So I’m not ready to give up on finding the little things that spark joy.

    5. That Snake Wrangler*

      I work for the US federal government. We can get administrative leave, and we will often get 1-3 hours of admin leave before long weekends or as rewards for hard work on a big project. It has to be approved by the site superintendent, but it is definitely possible. I don’t know what kind of government you work for, but it is something to look into. I always really, really appreciate getting admin leave, especially since we can’t get cash awards (except in very rare performance-based awards).

      1. GythaOgden*

        UK public sector here. No money for bonuses and no way of overriding the system to give us extra AL. (I did get a £75 bonus for Christmas 2020 as a thank you for being in the office all year, but that was taxed to heck and back.)

        I do, really, really enjoy meals out with colleagues and treats in the office and so long as we know about any issues with allergies etc we can work with them (like, if my mum was with us, we wouldn’t go to Prawns’R’Us, because she’d be up all night. She’s fine with seafood restaurants in general as long as she doesn’t eat any actual shellfish, but it would help in planning things to know what to expect).

        I can see why people prefer money or time off, and a range of activities for regular events would be possible, but I think this question is regularly overthought because people pull out exceptions and reject anything which isn’t totally inclusive rather than thinking of what would be most inclusive. I also think that asking AAM what your team might like is a bit futile; the OP presumably knows their own workplace and the needs of her staff and can take that into account when planning something.

        As long as you make a reasonable effort at inclusion (like rotating through venues, doing both physical and non-physical things etc) I’m good. I have a busted ankle, walk with a cane, and couldn’t do much in the way of physical activity like bowling, but I’m not going to object if that’s what my team want to do. I’ll either not come at all or come and sit on the side with a bucket of diet coke and my knitting. But tbh when it’s been put to votes in the past, we’ve all opted for a restaurant meal where people can order their own stuff and not have to disclose.

      2. nona*

        I was going to suggest this too, if you’re a US Fed and relatively senior (or prepared to work with management to allow it). We get a 2 hour (technically 1:59) early release on a Friday afternoon occasionally, and I always appreciate it.

    6. Joan*

      Government worker here. Very, very low budget and also quite restricted in what we can do (i.e. not money or time, etc. etc.). Last year we did a picnic during work hours and did a survey beforehand where people could pick between 10 dishes and also let us know any dietary restrictions or anything. By calling it a training we were able to get three hours paid time, even for PT staff who wasn’t scheduled (this was a big fight but we did it). We got 10 raffle prizes for I think $500 (with gift receipts) because you can’t buy gift cards with government money where I work. Catering brought the box lunches and they were labelled with everyone’s names, we rented a frozen slushee machine. 10/10 rave reviews, 90% of people asked for it again this year. I think our “employee apprecation” budget was 2K.

      1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

        Fellow govvie. I think there are a lot of variabilities between agencies. For a highly technical very niche/specialized role, they show their employee appreciation with retention bonuses. Dramatically helps with employee retention, when you need people who you know can walk out the door to any private company and double their salary.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I think it was our union that organized this, but we each got a ticket for a free treat from an ice cream truck outside the building. There was a variety of dairy-free options.

      1. Ferret*

        Very unlikely to be an option for government employees. Also just wanted to comment because I see ‘just give them the money’ come up a lot here that I am someone who is very happy to receive non-cash perks and events

        1. amoeba*

          Yup. I mean, depends on the amount of money, obviously! But as long as it’s in the double digits range, I’d most probably rather have the surprise gift than, say, an extra 20 or 50 bucks or a generic gift card from something like amazon.
          I do like presents and surprises though and I eat and drink almost anything, so I guess I’m easy to please…

          1. Yorick*

            Agreed. Unless it’s a significant amount of money, I’d rather have some kind of treat or small gift.

          2. Sheraton St Louis*

            Smaller gift cards often mean I’ll end up spending my own money just to make sure I use the whole thing. So a gift card often means “here, go spend some money”.

      2. GarlicBreadAfficianado*

        Gov’t employee here, we’d love money! We can’t get it unfortuately because it’s taxpayer money. We can’t really get anything that isn’t strictly basic office supplies or something that is deemed necessary for a reasonable accomodation. Microwave for the office kitchen? Nope. Coffee maker? Nope. We have a team kitty where we chip in 10 bucks every six months to buy stuff like silverware, napkins and condiments, cholorox wipes etc.

        People think gov’t jobs are really cushy and in some ways they are, but in many ways they are most definitely not.

        1. Taketombo*

          Hear hear!

          I’m never leaving my government-professional-union job (srsly. Moving from the 401a to the pension plan next year) but, damn, do I miss coffee in the break room.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            When I first started working at a government facility (I was a contractor at the time) my grandfather came to visit (it is normal to bring family onsite for tours here, as it is also a national landmark with historical significance– friends and family tours is actually one of the best perks of the job) and saw that you had to pay 10 cents for a cup of coffee. He was INCENSED because he (a small business owner) always paid for his breakroom coffee for his employees. I was like yeah well you as a taxpayer would be paying for this coffee too…

            The best part is I do not drink coffee and never did.

        2. doreen*

          Government jobs have a lot of big benefits – mine had a pension , lots of time off and is paying for most of my health insurance even in retirement. But they don’t tend to provide the little things, like coffee or tissues or office supplies that aren’t the absolute cheapest.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            As a government employee who has spent years filling a two liter water jug from the filter at home before work every morning, cosigned.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              Bought my own milk and tea, tissues, etc. During COVID WFH, I bought my own notebooks and pens because I figured the cost to the taxpayer to ship office supplies to me for this would be ridiculous.

            2. Divergent*

              Our office has organized a water club where everyone chips in monthly to use the water cooler.

        3. Temperance*

          One of my friends works in government. She has access to subsidized daycare at a steep discount, but they don’t have any coffee in the building unless you pay for it.

          1. Lydia*

            The way some jurisdictions interpret “using taxpayer money responsibly” is often just an excuse for not giving a shit. I’m not advocating for being frivolous, but the moral of government employees is just as important as moral in the private sector, and coffee service is a pretty low threshold.

    7. Miri*

      If bonuses aren’t an option, is there a possibility to get more learning and development/training budget?

      1. Dragonfly7*

        I liked this option the one time I had it. I took a webinar in a work area of personal interest but was barely related to my actual job duties.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Also important is time blocked off for learning and development. My government job determined from the job description how much time we’re supposed to spend on that (10%) and blocked it off on our calendars as no-meeting time.

        Obviously this won’t help much if the morale issue is from too much work to complete in the week, but it at least means there is a stretch of time when we aren’t meeting with clients.

    8. Jolie*

      I find that in-person team socials a few times a year are especially important /good for team-building if the team is primarily remote even if it may mean paying for some or all of the employees to travel, whereas trying to do virtual happy hours and such is a bit dissapointing.

      As someone who works primarily remotely, I’ll be happy for everything that brings us in the same room once in a while, but doing something fun beyond just “let’s have food and drink” is a nice bonus. (Think: minigolf, escape room, visiting a local attraction etc)

    9. Madame Arcati*

      I’m government too and at first I was going to give a few examples of recent efforts in the name of staff well-being but we are hybrid workers and most are based on us being in the office a bit of the time ie we were able to spend a few quid on plants for the office, for their mood- and oxygen-enhancing qualities, and we’ve also had a couple of socials where we were let use a few hours on work time (we did a fun treasure hunt round our city for example). That said our occasional “well-being newsletter” with things like, photos of people’s pets, recipes, nice social news (“Jane got married!”), short themed trivia quiz, etc., is well received.
      But it sounds like you are after individual appreciation things like employee of the month?

      1. DataSci*

        My wife works for the US federal government, and while money is off the table, she can get extra time off. How much depends on the level that’s approving it. Most of the “buy them a thing” suggestions, while well meaning, won’t work for the government – her workplace can’t even supply free coffee for employees.

        1. FrenemyofthePeople*

          That is interesting because my husband and son are both Federal Civilians and twice a year they get a combo of a bonus (usually around $1200) AND extra days off, anywhere from 1-5, based on merit/performance. They also have the option to put people and program/project teams in for awards, as well. So, money and time off are BOTH options. But there are processes and they are often tied to performance review periods. However, as a contractor on base, I see that Civilians get many perks that we do not. Family days, early dismissals every Friday before a Holiday, etc… so I’m not sure what other perks the LW is looking for. I get no “bonus perks” for doing my job other than a really decent paycheck, and that’s fine *shrug*. I’m not sure why it’s expected….

          1. RightSaidDread*

            I’ve worked as a US gov civilian for 20 years on a military base and only active duty military has ever gotten a Family Day (occurs the day before a holiday) off or any early dismissals.

          2. bmorepm*

            as people mentioned in other comments, it is highly variable by agency and even then, requires a lot of paperwork, is only available at certain times of year, is limited, etc., so as such, is not an available option for some agencies and some managers, depending on those things and other details.

            I don’t know that anyone expects bonus perks, but it’s always great to feel appreciated, and people enjoy showing they appreciate their staff.

      2. Puzzle Apprentice*

        my team normally pitches in for birthday treats, but since I’m not a gifts person they instead organized a virtual scavenger hunt for my birthday! everyone had fun backgrounds and had hidden clues around our various online platforms, ending with a virtual card. I know it’s not for everyone, but I LOVED it. I wonder if there are some free options like that that can be tailored to the specific people receiving employee appreciation?

    10. Sopranohannah*

      Extra time off may be possible in a government job. My former job would occasionally offer “recognition” days. It was generally extra PTO primarily for over and above type work, but it was given at the discretion of our director. I once won a bonus day in a Holiday party drawing

    11. Thegreatprevaricator*

      I’m kind of govt adjacent in uk (public sector but not directly employed). We have hybrid working. We have a star award – anyone can nominate and if nominated you can get yourself something for up to £30. I got myself a pair of excellent trousers :D.This falls below any taxable threshold and goes through line manager’s card or is claimed as expenses. Our CEO donates a portion of his budget/ fund for offices to use for social events. Can cover travel for people to an event although it wouldn’t cover air fare. Following high workload during pandemic we also were given an extra day of leave to take as we wished. It didn’t go through our annual leave system and was for a specific day although if that didn’t work for the employee you could agree an alternative with your line manager.

      We also max out all the usual employee benefit schemes – discount schemes with money off and cashback, covering training (rare for professional devt to be denied), interest free loan if you need a vehicle for your role, certain health schemes covered (in UK so it’s additional stuff), employee well-being platforms are all remote including free confidential helpline, an app with mental and physical well-being support etc etc.

      I think that the star award and leave are part of an overall picture helps them feel meaningful.

    12. Dippy*

      Fed here. Can’t spend government money on refreshments for employees unless it’s a representative event with over 50% of attendees non-govt or it’s an awards ceremony, and even then the budget is very very limited. I have spent a lot of my own money buying food for my team as a thank you. That saps my own morale, to be honest, as my bosses certainly weren’t buying me anything. I enjoy other options, like team building through a trivia game (can do it remote if you get creative), time off or cash or extra mile awards (though sometimes you can put in for one in January and it comes through at…the end of the fiscal year.), or unexpected use of the 59 minute rule.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        re: 59 minute rule
        Would hourly employees he paid for those 59 minutes? I’ve never run across it before so only have one Google result to go by.

        1. Annie May*

          Yes, they would (assuming they are indeed federal employees and not contract employees).

    13. AcademiaNut*

      For number 5 the questions is whether they have *any* budget for something like employee awards.

      If they have a little bit of money, something like a free lunch (ordered off an app, to a certain dollar amount), for the employee of the month could be a nice gesture and a bit of a treat.

      If they can’t spend any money and can’t give any time off, I’m having trouble thinking of something that works remotely. For those who don’t work for the government it can be hard to grasp the restrictions that apply. I’ve seen government departments in multiple countries where the employer was legally prohibited from providing free coffee to their employees.

    14. Sophie*

      I saw a super interesting article talking about how paying for things which people hate paying for is more rewarding than giving the equivalent cost in just cash

      Could offer practical stuff like bus & travel passes, car parking passes, insurance, food shops, fuel

      Other more fun options could be vouchers for spa days, family days out, meal out at a restaurant, hair cuts / nails / shave etc.

        1. cabbagepants*


          Governments weren’t born yesterday. Thy have closed the obvious loopholes to give cash-like gifts that are technically not cash.

    15. cabbagepants*

      About twice a year my company has a “Quiet Week” when there are NO MEETINGS. While it’s meant as appreciation per se, they’re everyone’s favorite week. You can actually sit down and do your work and it’s much easier to schedule stuff like doctor’s appointments.

      1. Tamara*

        I’m a teacher (public school, so government employee)… I would LOVE a “quiet week.”

        1. Blythe*

          Me too… and me too!! I have been reading this whole thread through the lens of a teacher and just thinking “time! Give us time! Cancel a meeting! Supply a sub for a day that we DON’T take off, so we can catch up on planning/grading/communication/etc”

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        WOW! I wonder what productivity is like during that week? I bet it’s a lot higher.

        This is my favorite suggestion, I think.

        1. cabbagepants*

          It’s amazing. You get to do all the long term work that is extremely necessary for a healthy organization but that always keeps getting pushed off to put out the latest fires.

      3. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

        Brilliant. My company usually does a “no meetings on Fridays” in the summer thing.

        1. new year, new name*

          We have that rule too, but it just means that Fridays end up being the easiest day to schedule all the “exception” meetings that are apparently too important not to have :-/

            1. City Employee*

              The city government where I work has made Wednesdays a “no meeting” time. They just recently did a survey asking how people thought it was going and based on the feedback have decided to keep it. I love it. Ironically, I do have a meeting this week on Wednesday afternoon, but only because this was literally the only time we could meet. Other than that, that time is respected. And it was implemented by our City Manager, so there is buy-in right at the top.

    16. RIP Pillow Fort*

      So state govt. employee here.

      The way we handle employee recognition is putting a letter outlining the accomplishment and why we want to recognize it into their personnel file. We also have a yearly employee recognition award ceremony where you can nominate high performing teams/employees. That one is a bit more prestigious and you get plaques and a ceremony.

      The letters help during performance review time when merit raises are decided and if you move up internally, hiring managers do look at them.

      But for day to day recognition, my supervisors are transparent and honest about their appreciation. That does mean a lot to me because it lets me know they do support us.

    17. Taketombo*

      One of the things that rarely happened to me is that a boss will book a 3 hour meeting with you at the end of the day (so no one else dares overwrite your calendar) you chat/work for 15-30 and then you have the rest of the time for yourself/to work on what you want/“if I have any questions I’ll get back to yo you by 3:30, but I won’t be looking for you after that”

    18. You Can't Pronounce It*

      I used to work for a company that would provide a lunch to any restaurant of your choosing. Maybe a door-dash gift card if you are not allowed to do cash?

      1. bmorepm*

        it’s not just that they can’t give cash, but that there’s generally no budget for any type of gifting that costs money.

    19. Grits McGee*

      Gov employee here- this may not work for every org, but in a former office employees were offered 2-3 hours a week to work on a “passion project”. We were an archive/historical institution, so this was basically historical research with the goal of publishing an article. It was still work-related but outside the scope of our day to day work- the kind of work that people think they will get to do if they are hired at an archive. :)

      Not all orgs will have a clear way to implement this, but another possibility could be allowing work time to be used for low-cost or free professional development. It could be as simple as footing the bill for a book and granting x hours of work time to read it.

      It was also common for supervisors to give spot awards of 1-3 hours of paid leave. Not a huge benefit, but still appreciated!

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I like this idea! There are definitely things I’d nerd out on if I had the time at work. It’d be nice to have a couple hours a week I could block off to pursue those things.

      2. Over It*

        My team has been trying to find passion projects (we’re calling them happy projects)…but workload is already too high as it is. I haven’t been able to touch my happy project in almost two months and now it’s just another thing perpetually at the bottom of my to-do list. I think passion projects are a great idea when workloads are reasonable, I really do! But rewarding people with more work when they’re already overwhelmed just ain’t it.

    20. SockKnitter*

      Federal employee here. I’ve seen and done the following things:
      – Made my own certificates of appreciation. For examples, I made a “Certificate of Awesomeness” that had a write-up similar to a formal award. I also made a commemorative certificate when I noticed the 500th customer to a coworker’s program.
      – While with a team that struggled with invoice delinquency, we got monthly delinquency reports and I’d have to send them out with remarks, recommendations, etc. If we were not on the report, I’d relay that too with a message like, “Thought you’d like to see a report we’re not on. Thank you for your hard work!”
      – The formal customer feedback site, referred to as an ICE card (Interactive Customer Evaluation), is often a way to get someone recognized by the Commander. I’ve heard of a Commander in my area that will write a personal note to good performers.
      – When I volunteered to be an early ‘guinea pig’ for major software updates, the IT person I worked with gave me a six sided die with skulls for the pips. Conversation had revealed I like unusual dice, and I still have that die on my desk.
      – Time off awards are an option, but consider whether your employee has use/lose leave because that can get the award disapproved.
      – On The Spot cash awards are also an option but requires a form and a write up.

    21. Erica B*

      As a state employee we have to read and sign ethics rules every year, and a big chunk of it is around gifting. Government employees have different rules than private sector here, and I would encourage OP to check that.

      My job doesn’t really do any single employee appreciation events, but we have been having department socials this past year. Best way to get folks to come is free food, and sometimes alcohol (if it’s after hours or end of work day). I don’t see any issue personally sharing dietary restrictions, and any good work place would have zero issue accomodating them.

      That said, if you are doing an employee of the month, something like a “business lunch” at a restaurant of their choice and they can eat free. Perhaps the company can pay a portion of everyone else’s to offset the cost and to encourage folks to attend. A plaque or nice certificate you can put on a wall is a nice gesture too!

    22. Lemon Zinger*

      I’m remotely employed by a public university. I go to campus a couple of times a year. Honestly, I don’t want or need awards or prizes. I don’t want or need emotional fulfillment from my work. If I’m doing a good job, I expect my supervisor to reflect that in my annual performance reviews, to trust me and give me autonomy wherever possible, and to advocate for better pay wherever possible. That’s it.

      I totally understand that some people want a lot of overt recognition/perks from their job, but I am not one of those people. If I was, I would still be working on campus.

      1. Erica B*

        I work at a public state university, and they do diddly squat in recognition, atleast in my department. I don’t feel like I need it either. However, my 20 year anniversary as staff is coming up in January, and -something- would be nice lol. A thank you in the newsletter I would accept with a smile like “Oh look at that, that’s nice!”. Saying thank you, and meaning it, goes a long way.

      2. Just working*

        100% agree. I give my team extra time off/ more flexible scheduling/ written documentation of job well done. Sometimes I’ll nominate them for a university award if that is available. I try to make professional development available as well as annual raises. And I try to take on as much of the bureaucratic nonsense as possible to make day to day less aggravating. I try to give team members as much latitude as possible in which projects they work on and an opportunity to do something more creative or learn a new skill if they want.

    23. I edit everything*

      Maybe this is a me thing (being a wordy person), but higher-end office supplies would thrill me. Uniball and Pilot pens instead of Bics, nice notepads/notebooks, ergonomic mice/keyboards, those bigger ruler post-its. Little things that just make worklife better.

      1. CheeryO*

        This is what I was going to say! State government here, and we can’t really do extras, but we ironically never spend our full budget, and I’ve never seen a Staples order get denied. Same for health and safety needs. I definitely push people to not choose the cheapest option when ordering.

        As a government employee, I don’t want or expect lunches or swag or even free coffee. I will happily take a donut purchased out of our manager’s pocket, but even that I could take or leave. I’m here for the larger benefits and work/life balance, not little perks.

      2. Lydia*

        Rocket Books. They’re higher end, can be a business expense, and not everyone will buy one for themselves. Let the employee choose the style and color they want.

      3. Dragonfly7*

        This was a nice one, too! I had a preferred style of notebook for my personal meeting notes and daily task lists vs the general lined notepads in the supply closet. Being allowed to order what I preferred was nice, and also meant no lost notes on my part.

      4. Gracely*

        Ooooh, THIS. Give me all the pens in all the colors. Give me good notebooks. Give me post-its in colors that aren’t yellow.

        Just let me pick what I actually want to use.

    24. bighairnoheart*

      I’m a state government employee. We actually do offer small monetary bonuses to our employee of the month winners. I’m not sure what our agency did to get financial approval for it, but it’s theoretically possible in some organizations if your leaders are willing to go to bat for it.

      Other than that, we make a big deal of it. The commissioner personally presents the winners with their certificates, they’re featured in our agency newsletter and internal website with a little blurb from the person who submitted them (there’s an evaluation process for employee of the month), I’ve also heard that individual supervisors will often pay out of pocket for a nice lunch if one of their employees wins (though obviously, that’s hard to standardize).

      Other options: do you have branded shirts/apparel for your agency that all employees get? If so, maybe the winners could get a custom garment of their choice? Minimal cost, and it could come from the same budget as the regular clothes, but we offered this for a separate recognition event at our agency, and the winners really liked getting to pick the color/style that suited them best.

      Ultimately, I think the best thing you can do is talk to your finance team and see what they’d be willing to offer. They’ll know better than us what will fly. Good luck!

    25. Spearmint*

      I wonder if there are unofficial ways you can give extra leave, or at least a break. I worked for a remote government job that let us leave a couple hours early on Fridays occasionally without marking it as time off on our time sheet, as long as we’d be able to hop back on in a true emergency (this never happened). Was it technically a violation of policy? Yes. Did anyone care? No.

    26. Polar Vortex*

      My company does a donation in the name of the employee to a non-profit of their choice, with an announcement about the non-profit chosen and why when they announce the winner and why they were chosen.

      Money and PTO are great, and honestly default best choice, but if you have to get weirdly corporate about it, not a bad plan b.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        In most (if not all) jurisdictions, government cannot donate money to nonprofits. At least not at the request of an employee for the purposes of a reward.

    27. Rachel in Non profits*

      I’m a local city council member. One thing we found that we can do to appreciate staff is to request refreshments at every public meeting, and full meals for evening work sessions. If the food is requested by elected officials and open to the public, they always order enough to cover all the staff that are still working at that time. Most of us electeds might have a coffee or something small, but we appreciate that the staff get a small bonus for working into the evening.

    28. Anonymous Koala*

      Honestly in the absence of money or time off, I think the best reward for something like this is a flexible schedule and/or being given projects you’re passionate about, an opportunity for advancement, and a reasonable workload. These are much harder to dole out, but much more meaningful in the long run. Could you make an effort to meet with your employees of the month and really interrogate their happiness with the work they’re doing, and see if you can structure things a little differently so they can take on a passion project, hand off the data entry they hate in exchange for more analysis, or leave an hour early every Friday? Those kinds of things will go a long way towards satisfaction.

    29. Hawk*

      I work for county government in a well-off area and unionized, so take this with a grain of salt. My department (very large) gives out annual leave awards. The leave awards can be given to individuals or groups, and are usually an additional 5-10 hours of annual leave.
      One of the best things we have is an all-staff training day (yes, really), because it has fun and social activities included in addition to training. We had one virtual in 2020 and before that they were in person. We’ve skipped two years and people are very upset. Even the virtual one went well. We also get an extra long lunch break that day. The training is off-site.
      My husband works for the Federal government and that of course has more restrictions, and it makes it difficult because they do have remote staff. They had an off-site picnic and allowed family and friends to come (it’s a closed workspace otherwise). Honestly I think he feels appreciated because he is kept in the loop about why and how his bonuses are given (they have restrictions and a convoluted process, so even if it’s small he knows they went to bat for him), and any other kind of thing.
      Like others have said, what really makes me feel appreciated is the notes (copying other managers, my own manager, etc) saying thank you for something I did above and beyond, stuff like that.

    30. Girl Alex PR*

      59 minutes is allowed in federal government and I use it liberally for my staff to show appreciation.

    31. Kiki*

      State government employee here. We get an extra 8 hours of administrative leave (so essentially, a free day off at our discretion) for Employee of the Month. I love it, because we don’t get a ton of personal leave otherwise, so it feels like a major perk. We do also get the prime parking spot for the month, but as you said, that’s less of a perk when you’re remote (or bike to work, take transit, etc.).

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

      Any chance that there could be a budget for professional development that the employees might want to go to or attend virtually?

    33. m*

      Government worker here where almost all staff are mostly or entirely remote. We regularly appreciate each other at staff meetings – it’s an agenda item. Every year my office leadership buys (out of their own pocket) a catered, in-person lunch for staff (checking in on dietary restrictions). Once during the pandemic they sent everyone a $20 visa gift card to buy ourselves lunch for a remote lunch staff meeting, but that got complicated technically.

      Higher up leadership has made a recognition Teams channel where you can recognize other people. Every month at the staff meeting, they pick/announce one or two complimented people who were recognized on the channel and send them a certificate and I think some candy. They also held an in-person ice cream event last year. (Not sure if they paid for it with government money; could also be their own pockets.) We are also authorized for a quarterly achievement award program that has some money attached to it.

    34. Gwen Soul*

      One of the non monetary things that have meant a lot to me even over money at times is a handwritten note from my leader with what they appreciate and making sure it was documented in my file for later reviews or promotions. But getting a letter in the mail from my leader saying how awesome I am really put a smile on my face

    35. urguncle*

      I know money is unlikely to be an option, but what about discretionary funds for remote workers to replace equipment, like new keyboards, mice, laptop stands, chargers etc?

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        This is a good idea! Something you have to have and therefore can guilt-free spend your Supplies budget on, but maybe buy a better quality than whatever the cheapest option is for once.

    36. Hiring Mgr*

      Without being able to offer anything money or time off related, it’s tough to think of a good way to reward. I guess you can still do an employee of the month, maybe just with a zoom get together or something?

      On the other hand, the prime parking spot probably wasn’t *that* big of a deal as a prize, so I wouldn’t worry too much about having to live up to the perks of the old days

    37. Red1046*

      I have a remote team. For employee appreciation recently we did a virtual team happy hour 2-3pm, and I asked everyone to log off and not take meetings after 3pm. Around the holidays I’ve also declared a team “quiet day” – no meetings, expectation is that everyone is offline and doing something that recharges their energy. I’m basically finding ways to give time off without red tape.

    38. NerdyPrettyThings*

      I am at a K12 school, so we have at least some of the government funds restrictions. Usually our appreciation gifts are donated by the community and passed along to the faculty and staff. It varies widely, but it’s usually food, small gift cards, or coupons. Last week everyone got a coupon for a free coffee at a new place in town, donated by that establishment.

    39. onetimethishappened*

      I don’t know if this is considered “non-money”. Meaning the employees would not receive money but money would be spent?

      What about a beverage, snack, dessert bar for a day. Poll employees and make sure everyone’s dietary needs/restrictions are taken care of. They can be prepackaged to make sure they are safe for everyone’s needs. Or look for local bakeries with certifications like kosher, gluten free etc.

      You could do coffee, tea, hot cocoa, lemonade etc. Make sure you have some good creamers, and maybe some nice flavored syrups to mix with the lemonade.

    40. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      For a team you manage personally, see if you can lobby for access to skills training and make time in each person’s schedule for them to learn something new that interests them.

    41. just a thought*

      My former gov employer used to give out passes for 59 minutes off to skirt the rules. You could leave an hour early anytime. They used to do that on holidays and other days too. We could leave at 4:01 instead of 5pm

    42. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I’m a municipal government employee so that’s a bit different from state or federal (in the US) but one of our divisions puts a plaque on the wall and specifically calls out the things that employee did above and beyond what’s required of them in their monthly staff meeting.

      Another division lets them punt a work task that they hate for the month (like if the employee just hates edging the landscaping or checking the pool chemicals or purging the records, something small that can easily be lifted by other team members).

      Yet another division lets them leave an hour early every Friday that month without marking it on their timesheet.

      I think in another department that has a lot of competition for getting to use the training budget, the reward is a professional development training of your choice from a menu of options.

      Good luck!

    43. Momma Bear*

      Can the LW use the “59 minute rule”? As in reward people for good things with 59 minutes of leave? Can prime parking be negotiated at other sites? Can they do team building events or allow pot lucks in the office without charging people leave for it? One of my old directors acknowledged that if you were stuck on site/on campus you were likely to brown bag your lunch. If you took a half hour lunch instead of an hour, you could leave early on Friday without penalty. Another office had all hands meetings that conveniently ended at 3 and if the office emptied out after that….Is it the kind of non-customer facing office that could do casual dress (jeans) on Fridays? If there’s a training that is the same cost for 10 people or 15 and not all the slots are full, can they offer the cert to someone who would benefit from it for free? Send someone to a conference they wanted to attend? A lot of federal offices need to spend money at the end of the fiscal year and training (or travel) is one way they do it. Bosses could also offer the “best” cubicles to high performers.

      Bosses could also work to ensure that high performers get high ratings on reviews or have good references for the next role, or let them take a detail for a change of pace.

      Some offices have a small “team building” account which could be for snacks, new coffee maker, a working fridge….

    44. Formerly Libraries*

      I was an employee in a publicly funded org (public library) and they let the employees of the year (not month) choose either $100 or an extra floating holiday (must take it as a full day, not banked PTO). At another library we got $50 to $150 and a certificate. At the state government agency where I worked, I know they had an employee of the year and you had your name put on a plaque with a big presentation, but I’m not sure what the award was. The legislation around it just says the award had to be worth less than $200 and not cash or cash equivalent. I really think most people would appreciate a floating holiday, to be honest, as long as that doesn’t break any rules it seems like an easy thing to do.

    45. Ormond Sackler*

      Maybe I’m a minority here, but I appreciated it when my company would get us decent quality jackets for Christmas.

    46. spcepickle*

      I am a manager for a state agency (so no ability to give money or official time off).
      I started a kudos board, about half my team is in the office regularly so we have a physical board, but you can easily set up a virtual one. People put sticky notes or they send their notes to the office printer. They say things like – Thanks Jane for helping move the trucks around. Or great job Adnan on getting form X done early.
      I take a picture of it each month and make it the virtual backdrop for our monthly safety meeting. That way everyone can see it and we can give shout outs at the end of the meeting. I think it has worked well.

      Also second the recommendations on better office supplies. I tell people to use the word safety (or ergonomics) we order just about anything to make your work space more comfortable and more effective.

      Lastly and this one can get a little sticky with ethic rules – My whole team is salaried so I can tell them to not charge sick time if they are out for a few hours. Letting people know they can go to a dr appt or just sign off an hour early if they are having a really bad day and not need to worry about asking for sick time or trying to make up the time builds trust and it treats people like adults. This is a perk I give quietly in the background to my high performers who I trust to manager their workload.

    47. Michelle Smith*

      I am highly skeptical of the claim that LW5 can’t do time off because of being a government worker. I was in government for multiple agencies over about a decade and the availability of extra time off varied. It may absolutely be possible to grant an employee a comp day, whether officially or unofficially. When my last organization had us work “overtime” (nights and weekends) and we weren’t eligible for extra pay for that, we earned comp days that could be used for 1/2 or 1 whole day at a time. When that was removed at the start of the pandemic because so many people quit that there weren’t enough people to cover all the assignments/shifts, my boss took it upon herself to do it informally. As in, I worked Saturday night until 3 am so Monday I didn’t log into work, didn’t mark anything on my time sheet about leave time, and everyone looked the other way. I’m saying all this to say that even if there is no official comp time mechanism in place, it’s potentially very possible to just tell Johnny that they did a great job this month and so they should feel free to relax and watch TV at home this Friday instead of coming into the office.

    48. Erin*

      Leaving 59 minutes early is always appreciated in our office. When we meet our targets for the month, our office director has been giving us 59 minutes to use whenever we want. I love it!

    49. tallone*

      It’s useless for a situation with remote employees, but as a school employee with severe food restrictions due to allergies the best appreciation gift I’ve ever received was a 6″ x 6″ square of bubble wrap.

      I’m not even kidding. It was creative, inclusive, and delightfully different.

    50. Sybil Writes*

      I work for a government agency.
      Last year the government hired a firm to do a salary study to bring state employee salaries closer to current market rates. Salaries were adjusted across the board, depending on what similar roles paid in the broader market (compared both commercial and other government employers). I believe everyone got at least a 5 % increase (separate from annual raises) and many got a bump of closer to 20%.

    51. RightSaidDread*

      I’ve worked fro the US government for 20 years. It is patronizing and a bit infantilizing when managers try to think up “cutsie” ideas to do nonmonetary “rewards.” I think the best “reward” you can give to your employees remote or otherwise is to show respect to all, especially those that are different from you. That would be the best appreciation I can think a manager could give.

    52. Teapot Unionist*

      When my organization was fully remote, they sent us e-gift cards to Panera on days we had virtual staff meetings where lunch would usually be provided. It was nice. Some people had lunch delivered during the meeting. I tended to hold onto mine and buy my wife and I soup and salad for dinner one night when our favorite Autumn Squash soup was in rotation. If you can do that type of swap out and creative re-use of old budget lines, people would likely appreciate that.

    53. Bopper*

      We have “Stars” we can award to other employees and if they get enough they can “purchase” Amazon gift cards and the like.

    54. Megan*

      Career govvie here, I have worked in multiple states mostly in small local units.

      The boss always paid for nice treats out of their own pocket. Rules about the value will vary by state ethics laws.

      I know government tends to be old fashioned regarding hours, but is it possible to allow wfh employees to set their own hours within reason?

      Depending on state law and if you work under an elected official, an elected official can close the office and pay employees at their discretion, this should apply to in-person and wfh.

      One office I worked at, Fridays were open to the public by appointment only. For wfh this could look like no phone or email on Fridays, or only being required to check and/or return messages once per day. Some people hate Monday more than they treasure Friday, and they may prefer being given a choice between the two.

      At my last job we could take lunch at the beginning or end of the day once per pay period, and this was really popular.

      If it’s not already in the budget, and your pay is not the most competitive, you could ask about adding education into the budget. I value that my employers have payed for con-Ed for my certification.

    55. Wenike*

      We have a service that basically allows you to give kudos to people. Managers and above have points monthly they can give out (and they can boost what their people received) and occasionally, everyone gets points to give out to people. Those points can then be converted to swag, to actual items or to gift cards. I’ve converted mine into gift cards to a local steakhouse and have been able to take my dad, brother and myself there for meals several times and I believe I’ve only had to pay $5 out of pocket. This has included both father’s day and my dad’s birthday and a couple of times when Dad and I just wanted to do a father/daughter meal out.

      I know of someone who converted their points to the Playstation store and were able to buy games for their device and another who has put them into Amazon gift cards and bought stuff that way. The conversion rate does seem to depend on the store in question but my steakhouse gift cards were about 100 points per dollar and giving points is generally either as 250 points or 500 points at a time.

    56. hi there*

      Creating a culture of authentic, positive feedback has been the most effective form of appreciation I’ve found (considering a non-existent budget, remote staff, etc.). Recognition for their professional contributions in a way that helps position them for advancement or raises down the line.

    1. Carl*

      I guess that’s not particularly constructive. Just giving OP my gut reaction here. This sounds like a Maggie problem.

      1. Alice G*

        Maggie does suck! At least if LW1 sees her again she can say “Oh yes, we met in the parking garage and I spent the whole time thinking that you were unbelievably rude.”

        1. Sue*

          One the best things I done for myself as I’ve aged is to let go of stuff like this. If someone says something critical, I now give it a thought, decide if it has any merit, apologize/react appropriately if so and if not, I let it go with a “consider the source” end of it. This has saved me so much grief. I can say honestly that I’m pretty hard to offend. When I consider the source, it often happens that the source isn’t worth worrying about.
          I say this as someone who has spent a career in a position that invites criticism so it’s been a very valuable tool.
          Some people have nasty tongues. That’s on them, not you.

          1. allathian*

            Yes. I always consider the source of any criticism. Thankfully this sort of thing happens more often socially than at work, I must be working with consummate professionals because things like this very rarely come up.

            I’m a chatty introvert and I’ve asked my teammates and manager to help me manage my chattiness when necessary. I can’t very well take umbrage if they do as I ask and tell me to zip it. It’s been very helpful, too, I’m getting much better at not going off on irrelevant tangents when it’s my turn to speak in our meetings.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Yeah, it appears to me that Mark is a much better source of feedback on this one than Maggie! He’s a known quantity as a friend of OP’s, and seems to be a popular, well respected guy at work. Maggie on the other hand, definitely came across really strangely and impolitely on the one occasion they’ve spoken. For all OP knows, Maggie is the department jerk or is just deeply odd in social situations. The criticism itself doesn’t hold much water, given the context. If I heard that I “talk a lot” in a situation where work was going on nearby, I would question myself. But it was a lunch! Talking a lot is what you want, really. Maggie can’t even have been trying to make a point about conversational turn taking because she wasn’t close enough to converse. If OP can remember what other people were saying to her at the lunch (and I bet they can), then they must have been turn taking and I think they are fine. I would chalk this one up to Maggie getting basic social rules totally wrong.

            2. Grace Poole*

              It’s kind of corny, but I recently heard an aphorism that made me go, hmm: “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.”

              What Maggie said was brusque, but OP is probably safe trusting Mark’s take of the situation over Maggie’s.

          2. Timothy (TRiG)*

            Admittedly, this was online, so I had time to think before reacting, but I did once respond to a nasty insult with the line “If that had come from someone I respected, it would have hurt.” (In this case, she absolutely deserved that.)

        2. Looper*

          Honestly, I think this is all that needs to be said! Maggie sucks. Maaaaayyyybbeeeee she had some point, but she biffed the delivery in a way that tells me Maggie isn’t liked by many people for good reason.

          1. Fledge Mulholland*

            What I am wondering is what does Mark think of Maggie generally? Is she always this rude? Does she have a weird sense of humor that comes out wrong? I know OP said Mark thinks they didn’t do anything wrong, but what is his take on how this compares with what he knows of Maggie since they work together?

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I agree. I was expecting the OP to have overheard the “talk too much” criticism, or heard about it through the grapevine, but saying “you talk too much” directly to a person you barely know means either she’s an ass or she’s very very direct and doesn’t understand that such a comment isn’t the sort of thing you say directly to a person. Either way, definitely a Maggie problem and not an OP problem.

        1. bamcheeks*

          To be fair to Maggie, it was, “she talks a lot”, not “too much”! The judgment/disapproval element wasn’t necessarily there.

          I do think it’s fair enough to judge Maggie as unnecessarily rude, but there’s a chance the comment was overly direct/descriptive but not actually insulting.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I thought it was a bit of a reach, but I was actually wondering if Maggie was so overly literal and awkward she was just recounting the lunch and didn’t realise “talking a lot” will be heard as “talking too much”. There’s no way to tell without more info on Maggie in general, but at the very least OP is certainly not the person who needs to be worried about her social skills at work!

          2. KateM*

            If you claim to have spent the WHOLE time of a lunch thinking “she talks a lot”, either you do judge that the person talked TOO much, or you have a tendency to get stuck on one thought for a long time.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Maggie the Rude Ruminator!

              I’d just consider it a weird comment from a random person and let it go. You could ask 1-2 friends for some feedback, but if no one in your real life who regularly spends time with you has indicated you talk an unreasonable amount, it’s probably not valuable feedback.

          3. Fluffy Fish*

            Just because she may not have intended it negatively doesn’t mean it wasn’t rude.

            Saying that to someone you don’t know is rude. You talk a lot is not ever intended as a kind thing to say. Impact not intent.

            1. Seahorse*

              Yes, exactly.
              The LW doesn’t need to dig into Maggie’s backstory and intentions. She just wants to know whether Maggie’s comment merits a response, and the answer is no, it was a one-time rude thing that can be ignored.

            2. bamcheeks*

              Just because she may not have intended it negatively doesn’t mean it wasn’t rude.

              Yes, I said that!

              1. Fluffy Fish*

                I didn’t get that from your comment, sorry. It felt that you were sticking up for Maggie a bit and offering a justification for what she said.

                Your comment said it wasn’t necessarily judgmental and may have been descriptive. As well as it may not have been an insult.

                That was what my comment was directed to.

          4. JelloStapler*

            Seems an unspoken implication that “a lot” is in fact “too much” for Maggie.

          5. Expelliarmus*

            I see where you’re coming from, but coupled with the frown and the fact that she didn’t say ANYTHING ELSE, it certainly comes across as Maggie disapproving of how much OP talks.

          6. Observer*

            To be fair to Maggie, it was, “she talks a lot”, not “too much”!

            She also said that she spent the entire time thinking that. And she frowned. It’s beyond unreasonable to claim that it was intended in any to be neutrally descriptive.

            , but there’s a chance the comment was overly direct/descriptive but not actually insulting

            Not at all. There is the fact that it was a totally unnecessary thing to say, to start with. And the above context makes it quite clear that she was being definitely negative.

          7. Looper*

            “She then got in her car and drove away without another word.”

            This is what makes Maggie’s comment unquestionably rude. She didn’t say it in context of other greetings or pleasantries. She was introduced to LW, insulted her, and then got in her car and drove away.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          There are a few coworkers I’ve wanted to reign in their chattiness when they go off on tangents in meetings. I might say something like, “It looks like we only have a few minutes left, so I want to make sure we cover…” or “let’s save that for another meeting”.

          The way this “feedback” was delivered, though, pretty much rules out the advice-giver having good judgement.

      3. ecnaseener*

        I think it’s as constructive as any answer can be in this case! Maggie sucks, her opinion on social norms is clearly way out of whack, so the most constructive thing LW can do is disregard her comment.

      4. pinetree*

        I see a lot of myself in OP in the sense that the couple instances where I’ve been the recipient of an unexpected rude comment from a relative stranger, I’ve taken it to heart and worried whether I truly did something to deserve it. The fact that the person doesn’t know you but still felt strongly enough to be so rude actually gives their remark more weight, or so it feels. My solution is to recognize that I’m not dealing with a logic problem (e.g. I will analyze in depth what they said and determine the level of truth involved) but an emotional one (I’m upset by how this person caught me off guard and shoved a bunch of negative energy my way). Then I let myself have the feelings for as long as I need to, but no longer treat the situation as I problem I need to solve. Eventually the situation loses its potency and I’m able to put it behind me.

    2. JSPA*

      Just flinging apeshit and then bailing in the parking lot is indeed, “Maggie sucks,” regardless.

      However, if the LW would be comforted by some partial handwaving explanation, I’m reaching hard, and all I can pull up is, “maybe at the time, coming late, she missed the fact that she was hearing two old friends, and it seemed like a lot, for two random coworkers.” (???)

      It’s true that the tone (and level of exclusivity) of two old friends is often different than that of officemates. That’s not on LW, though. If Mark had intended to talk shop over lunch with Maggie, he could have said so.

      It’s also possible Maggie likes to banter with Mark (which is fine) and is possessive about that (see, “Maggie sucks”). Or Maggie likes a quiet lunch, but doesn’t have the self-confidence to sit alone (sucks to be Maggie).

      Regardless of why: “sucks” and “Maggie” go together. The LW is almost certainly entirely in the clear.

      1. Artemesia*

        If I were the lw and I have been, I’d be reflecting on how much I dominate conversations. I do that. I have to be conscious in a social situation not to bore the socks off everyone with my hilarious anecdotes — everyone wants a share of the conversation. So yes, Maggie sucks. But the LW should be reflecting on whether she needs to make sure she isn’t taking more than her share in social situations.

        1. Observer*

          The problem here is that Maggie’s behavior is sooo out of line that it’s hard to take her seriously as even a *possible* judge of appropriate behavior.

        2. Allonge*

          The thing is, it needs to balance out over time, over several occasions. If someone meets you (general you) the first time and judges you on how much you talked in one particular lunch… that’s on them (unless you did not let anyone else talk).

          Let me put it this way: if OP was feeling quiet that day and did not say a lot, should Maggie have concluded that OP is averse to speaking to people in general?

        3. Lydia*

          Not every single thing someone says to you is a learning opportunity. Sometimes people say incorrect and stupid shit to a person and it’s not a requirement to reflect on their stupid shit and try to figure out if it’s true.

      2. Our Lady of the Cats*

        I agree. Maggie referred to the table as “our table,” so had some possessiveness about it. I even wonder if Maggie likes Mark; didn’t realize LW is a friend of his, and couldn’t figure out why this interloper was so comfortable chatting with him. Even so: Maggie’s behavior is absurd. Who says that to someone you’ve only just met—or to anyone, actually? So I’d discount her as being really strange.

        1. Well...*

          I’ve definitely jumped on the bandwagon of, “I think she likes him,” and been wrong on this site before, but I don’t learn from my mistakes, and here I am right back on the bandwagon.

          I think Maggie likes Mark and is trying for a petty one-upmanship a la 7th grade.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I usually try not to do that kind of wild speculation… but I’m honestly having trouble thinking of any other rational explanation for how that could possible have been Maggie’s takeaway from a conversation that it sounds like *she wasn’t even a participant in.* Like how was she so focused on the conversation at the other end of her table and forming opinions on how much any of them were talking??

            So I’ve landed on either she was jealous that she wasn’t able to participate in the conversation, which again the only rational reason I could imagine for that was that she liked someone in it… or she’s just not a rational person, which is certainly possible.

            1. Allonge*

              My first thought was that Maggie had a bad headache at that lunch and fixated more or less randomly on OP talking as something bad.

              Which does really not explan why she is mean about it a week later, but whatever.

              1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

                That’s where I went. Maggie was feeling crappy that day and it colored her view of things, PLUS Maggie doesn’t have introspection skills to think about her own reaction to something that’s bothering her and realize that it was at least partly due to feeling crappy, PLUS Maggie doesn’t have good social filters to think about how her statement came across to others.

                I mean, it really is true that we don’t know what burdens anyone else carries. I forestall a lot of irritation at strangers by assuming that they have a bad headache or a dying relative. (And I hope that others extend me the same grace, when I slip up.)

        2. Well...*

          I also think people who are intimidated by women who have a lot to say will sometimes default to “she talks a lot, lol.” They are insecure because they couldn’t think fast enough to keep up, and so to cover they pretend they had TONS to add to the conversation, but it was really just their own self restraint that stopped them. It’s typical hipster, “I can’t do the thing, but I’ll sit back and criticize the the thing,” behavior.

          I say this as someone who does talk too much sometimes and have worked hard to get it under control. It can be a legitimate complaint sometimes, but the way Maggie is doing it is designed to be a dig. It has no possibility of giving Maggie more room to talk (note how she bailed immediately after: don’t follow up! I can’t actually spar with you!). It’s also designed to get in LW’s head… it’s ambiguous: is it criticism? Is it just a comment? Classic negging behavior.

        3. WellRed*

          Maggie was in the wrong and incredibly rude but I did wonder. LW includes a lot of irrelevant detail (they weren’t saving the seats for anyone) in the letter and if that reflects how they talk, however well spoken, it’s something to consider. But Maggie sucks.

          1. Bibliothecarial*

            Often commenters want more details and we start speculating if we don’t have them – I think the LW was trying to help us out by giving lots of details. Besides, this is a different venue: we are free to scroll by. It doesn’t follow that a detailed letter means the LW was too garrulous in person.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              And even if she was granular, Maggie wasn’t part of the conversation LW was actually having at lunch. So how would Maggie even have been able to form a reasonable judgement regarding the content of LW’s “talk”?

          2. Ellis Bell*

            I was actually blessing the OP for that level of detail. So many people would not have mentioned the temperature check with Mark, or that she wasn’t otherwise acquainted with Maggie.

        4. KatEnigma*

          It crossed my mind, especially since she seemed irritated that Mark was talking to LW (this time alone) in the parking garage…

          But that falls firmly on the side of fanfic.

        5. Observer*

          I even wonder if Maggie likes Mark;

          Why does this matter? I mean, it’s a fun piece of fanfic. And I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if it turned out to be the case (or that she does NOT like Mark and was annoyed that he “brought” the OP into the table.) But it doesn’t do anything for the OP. It doesn’t make Maggie’s behavior any better (or worse), and it really isn’t actionable either.

          So I’d discount her as being really strange.


          1. Well...*

            It depends on whether OP has to interact with Maggie in the future. I’ve found it’s an advantage to be aware of various crushes in the office. People can go from reasonable to unreasonable depending on who’s around, and having an explanation for it allows you to predict/avoid/manage the unreasonableness.

            I’m also loving the fanfic drama though, so I can’t say I’m 100% objective.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              Bingo. Same with “office besties”. Much like in a social circle, it is cool to have a new friend, but the first time it’s “”Do we want to see Big Movie this weekend?” “Oh, yeah, Kim and I actually went and saw that movie the other day, but I would totally see it again” things can get dicey. But unlike a social situation, Kim might not know if she is getting a chilly response because she went to a movie with Beth and Lisa and Beth are office besties or if she is actually not doing a stellar job on the TPS reports.

          2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I think this is because “Maggie is a jerk” feels incomplete for confirming that Maggie’s assessment is wrong. People have motives. Sure, lots of people could just brush off Maggie’s comment. But clearly LW1 can’t or she would not have written in. It is undisputed Maggie’s comment was rude. It can either be rude and true or rude and false. LW1 is examining the “rude and true” element, but it seems most of us are coming down on some version of “rude and false”. Which leads to the inevitable question of if the “false” is “false” or “objectively false, subjectively true”. That is, is the person just flat out lying or is the person objectively incorrect, but they feel like they are right? Assuming Maggie is not just a lying, messy person who likes drama, it seems reasonable to question “What would be the reason that Maggie feels LW1’s totally normal amount of talking is “a lot”?”

            The idea that Maggie has a thing for Mark and, because LW1 and Mark were chatting at lunch Maggie could not speak to Mark, presents a reasonable, commonly occurring set of circumstances where Maggie might believe LW1 is excessively chatty, even if she is, objectively, not.

            It also provides motive for then stating this opinion in such a rude fashion: essentially, jealousy, which is something most people understand as an emotion that makes generally normal people act in ways they otherwise would not.

            Which all might be a long way of saying that Maggie liking Mark is part of searching for a believable set of circumstances under which both LW1 can not be an excessive talker and Maggie isn’t just a bully– A situation where no one really is the “bad guy”

            1. Observer*

              Which all might be a long way of saying that Maggie liking Mark is part of searching for a believable set of circumstances under which both LW1 can not be an excessive talker and Maggie isn’t just a bully– A situation where no one really is the “bad guy”

              I hear you. But the problem is that I don’t agree with the conclusion. Assuming that this speculation is true and Maggie was having a really hard time, that still doesn’t absolve her of being “the bad guy”. Sure, it does mean that she’s not a lying liar who lies to make people feel bad. But this behavior is still wildly out of line. Dumping your issues on some strange person is just not acceptable in any case, especially when it’s done is such a rude and demeaning way.

            2. DisgruntledPelican*

              Just because it feels incomplete doesn’t make it so. Lots of people are just rude. They don’t need a secret crush to make them that way.

              This seems to be a common theme with this site – nobody is willing to accept regular, everyday failings of human beings and instead tie themselves into knots explaining behavior that just…is. People are rude. People are thoughtless. People are selfish. And most of the time, those people don’t have an exciting villain backstory.

      3. Hannah Lee*

        I went to a Meet Up once which was planned as “see a movie, go to a nearby pub afterwards to chat about the movie and get to know each other”

        One person who’d signed up brought her husband (without indicating a +1). He told the group didn’t want to go but his wife “made him”. At the restaurant, they sat in the middle of the rectangular table. He ordered his dinner an proceeded to eat in near silence, speaking only occasionally to his wife. I was his other side, and along with the other two people at that end of the table, had to make conversation just with each other because he was a conversational black hole, refusing to engage in any conversation and positioninally blocking us from interacting with the other side of the table.

        At the end of the gathering, he made some critical comment about our end of the table. (I don’t remember the details but it was a rude misogynist swipe at women who talk too much about worthless things and were annoying to be around). He was a rude jerk. I remember him, but didn’t take his comments to heart. Because he was clearly a rude jerk.

      4. Office Lobster DJ*

        Yup, Maggie comes off as being possessive of something. There’s a good chance it could have been Mark, as others have speculated. I wonder if the fact that it was a company-wide luncheon turned it into a Mean Girls “You can’t sit with us!!!!” moment.

      5. Venus*

        LW mentions that Mark is known to talk a lot, so I wondered if maybe Maggie was surprised that LW was able to speak half the time. I’ve witnessed conversations where I knew one person tended to talk a lot and when someone else equaled them I was impressed by their conversation skills. I might have even thought to myself “That other person must talk a lot!” but I wouldn’t mean it in a critical way and would never say it out loud for that reason.

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          I’ve been guilty of the “you talk a lot” statement that requires a follow up of “no, it’s a good thing, I hate long pauses in group settings, so otherwise I tend to monologue and feel super awkward. It is great when there are other people who have good chat and banter.”

          You don’t just toss a “you talk a lot” grenade and bail.

        2. amoeba*

          I mean, that might be a reason – I talk a lot but generally don’t talk over people and don’t dominate conversations (my introvert friends have told me multiple times that it’s fine!)

          However, when I’m with somebody else who also talks a lot (and fast) – well, we’re enjoying ourselves immensely but I know it can be a lot for people around us.

          Maybe it was just a very fast-paced conversation which the people actually in it enjoyed but from the outside looked exhausting?

          Which, you know, still makes Maggie the villain here because while you might *think* that when watching others, why on earth would you go and insult them about it? They most certainly weren’t doing it *at* her!

    3. Belle of the Midwest*

      You’re kinder than I am. I read that line about Maggie just getting into her car and driving away after saying what she said and I actually said “Bxxch” out loud!

    4. EngineeringFun*

      I think Maggie is sweet on your friend and feels you are too close to him….You were with him again! Ugh. :) How is she supposed to compete?

    5. EngineerMom*

      “You talk too much” in that context is code for “Your pulling attention I wanted on me.”

      Maggie is jealous, for some bizarre reason.

      I’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of comment, and it’s either one of two flavors:

      1. “You’re pulling attention from someone I wanted to pay attention to ME.”
      2. “You’re more informed about this topic I think of as MINE, and I don’t like that.”

  2. Punk*

    LW1: It’s because you were the outsider at the table, and that drew more attention to you than to anyone else who might have said the same number of words.

    That said, I’ve observed that some people are considered overly chatty when they really aren’t. They’re just a little intense or animated, or something about their presence has a slightly different impact. Sometimes “you talk too much” means “it’s more noticeable when you talk.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I was wondering whether tere there other women besides OP and Maggie. Because “women shouldn’t talk so much” can be internalized.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        I wish I could post a picture, because there’s plenty of meme’s out there pointing and saying “that part”. CityMouse, you have no idea just how right you are.

    1. Not in the lunch bunch*

      I am wondering if the LW was particularly passionate about a certain topic, work or otherwise? but honestly I believe the LW that they had a good give and take in their conversation and did not dominate

      recently I sat by a person who at a work lunch who spoke only about his rural house, showing pictures of it covered in snow and honestly quite pretty. but there were people from NYC and urban areas at our table – I explicitly said, oh, dies our New Yorker co-worker have opinions or experience about rural life? I wanted to talk about my new hobby. I tried to relate by explaining how I get my nature fix. the rural life liver said, “but what would you do about BEARS?!” to drive the topic back to themselves, or what they wanted to talk about.

      i definitely avoided them after that. if I saw them and to unavoidably talk, I would say… yes I remember you, and how much you spoke about your mountain cabin, how is it going.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        >>the rural life liver said, “but what would you do about BEARS?!”

        Usually, I ask if they’d like to join the organisation’s LGBTQ+ network…

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      It’s also so rude that it’s not a thing that Maggie should have said. So your comment may very well explain Maggie’s impression but not her delivery.

    3. mf*

      Sounds like LW is also a woman. And when women talk the same amount as men, they are judged to be dominating the conversation.

      1. KGD*

        I have read this so often and have been hunting unsuccessfully for a source for a project I’m working on. Does anybody know what study it originally came from?

        1. Lydia*

          I know Stuff You Missed in History Class mentioned it was when woman spoke only 30% of the time, men interpreted it as “at least half” in response to an email that griped about how many women they were covering. I believe they mentioned the study, and they did post it on their Facebook page, but that’s all I have.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I know there are studies in the field of linguistics (I remember from doing my English Language BA) but it was such a common and easy to specify result that no one study was ever considered particularly memorable. Also most of my professor-linguists said that whenever they transcribed a given situation (unknown observation) that the men out talked the women significantly even on topics where the women knew more. I remember quite a few from classes but they were all our own/professor’s transcripts.

        3. Hlao-roo*

          I don’t know if this was the original, but I found a study from 1990 titled “Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk” by Anne Cutler and Donia R. Scott.

    4. RagingADHD*

      No, it’s because Maggie doesn’t know the difference between having an opinion and saying it out loud. She was either being purposely rude and insulting, or she has such poor self-regulation that she thinks it’s okay to say things like that.

      Under no circumstances would it be reasonable or appropriate for Maggie to say such a thing to another adult, or even a kid she wasn’t personally responsible for instructing. And therefore any opinion she might have about what “too much” talking might be, is worthless.

      Maggie is the one who should have kept her mouth shut, because what came out was ugly and mean.

      1. Punk*

        I don’t know why my comment was read as if I agree with Maggie. Explaining something isn’t the same as endorsing it.

  3. HCTZ*

    LW#2 aw man I feel your pain. I wholeheartedly second Alison’s “you made the best decision for yourself with the information you had[about the job] available at the time.” I’ll also add: you made the best decision for yourself with what you knew about yourself (and your partner) emotionally/physically/spiritually at the time, what was important to you in life at the time, what you knew or thought you could handle at the time, and so on and so forth. It’s what I do when I’m feeling regretful or questioning a past decision.

    1. Artemesia*

      And Alison’s advice is good here. I’d reach out to the hiring manager and tell her that you wanted the job and were crushed to need to accept the other for the better insurance coverage because your family needed it at the time.

    2. Czhorat*

      Having chosen jobs specifically for medical benefits I will note that this *is* a very, very valid reason to choose an otherwise non-idea workplace. Medical benefits can, depending on ones situation, be a huge part of compensation. You wouldn’t beat yourself up too badly if you chose for higher pay because you needed it to pay bills; this is no different.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly. Unfortunately, the U.S. medical payer system put you in this position where you needed to make a hard choice for your family’s health. A reasonable employer would understand that you needed the benefits that ensure security for your family. In fact, at my company we would want to know that this was the reason that you had turned down the job- if we were hearing this from several people, we’d take a look at our benefits to make sure that they were still competitive.

    3. Smithy*

      As someone who was in a version of this situation (turned down a job that could have been great due to having to take on some risks in my personal life for a job that I basically knew would disappoint me), I do think that one way that helped me process the regret was focusing on where I wasn’t resilient at the time.

      In my case, it was a situation that would have required moving to a new city with less support in my personal life than I thought I might have – and I got really nervous around whether I could do it and whether the job itself was “good enough” to take on the risk of doing it. In the OP’s case, the risk of having to change medical providers. The similarity I see, is a worry about whether there would be enough resilience to take on the risk of the new job and the move/change in health care – and regret felt is wanting the answer to that question to have been a strong yes instead of a reluctant no or “I don’t know.”

      For me, addressing that issue really helped me move beyond the regret I felt because it was something I could actively work on going forward. Starting a new job is scary. It can always not work out, and very often life gives us other challenges that can make starting that new job seem even harder. So if if going forward, I could feel better about dealing with two scary things at once (like a move by myself + a new job), then I would be less likely to be in the same situation again.

  4. Jen Deppeler*

    When we close early in the Friday of a long weekend, it gets framed as a perk for the people who were working at the office that day. Anyone on a vacation or sick day still gets “charged” for the full day.

    1. Blomma*

      Same for us. If the office closes early, people who were planning to work the full day get the hours added to their time card. People who are off that day do not. It seems reasonable to me.

    2. londonedit*

      My employer has made the afternoon of Christmas Eve an official company holiday now, but before it always used to be a fairly last-minute thing (they’d announce it a few days in advance). So if you wanted to guarantee having the afternoon/Christmas Eve off, you’d need to book it as holiday, but otherwise if you’d planned to be working then in all likelihood the office would close at lunchtime. It was definitely seen as a perk for people who were willing to work that day, and if you had booked the day as holiday then you wouldn’t be ‘refunded’ for the afternoon.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Yeah that’s how our company treats days like that too. If you’re working, it’s possible there’s going to be something that comes up that means folks work the full day, so the bonus time off isn’t a given, it’s a potential perk if you’re there.

        1. Bugalugs*

          This is how we do it as well. Same if we can let people go early one day. I’ve had a couple of people try to push back on it but it’s always been a thing you can roll the dice and take your chances what time you get off.

      2. Lily Potter*

        This. If you want the “guarantee” of being off that day, you take PTO.

        Along somewhat similar lines, I had a job that went on what was called “light duty” during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Essentially, you only had to work if you had a client with a pressing need; otherwise, you were free to not put in any hours. If you wanted the guarantee of not having to do any work that week, you took PTO. If you were willing to roll the dice and be willing to drop what you might be doing on December 28th to go into the office, you could have the week “free” without taking PTO. This was something that you had to decide by December 15th. People who had out-of-town trips planned or who had active clients (not many!) took PTO days if they wanted to unplug 100%. People who were local or didn’t mind working a bit that week didn’t.

      3. SarahKay*

        Yep, as another UK person, that’s how my previous site always treated Christmas Eve too.
        If you want the whole day off you need to book the whole day; otherwise work stopped about midday, there was a buffet lunch and raffle, and you could go home (after the raffle, which would usually mean about 1:15-1:30) without having to take holiday or otherwise lose pay.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Same, my employer is fairly generous with leave (for the US), and often goes above and beyond, and they still don’t credit you back leave if they close early, for pretty much the same reasons above.

  5. Juniper*

    Even as someone who often does talk too much… Maggie was rude. It sounds like you were engaged in normal conversation. But even if you were genuinely talking a lot, so? Some people talk a lot. Big whoop. Like Allison said, you could always get a feel from people that you trust; while you’re at it, if they do say you talk a lot, is it in a bad way? For example, I talk a lot and it’s actually a sign that I’m neurodivergent: I’m in no way indicating your neurodivergent, I say this cause I specifically tend to get really chatty about things that interest me and generally it’s not an issue and considered part of my charm. Again, I don’t see being talkative as a bad thing as long as you’re being “polite” and others get a word in edgewise. There a specific cases where it matters (eg not sidetracking or dominating meetings) and it sort of makes me think it’s not a problem if you’ve never been told about taking to much those sorts of areas. It sounds like you talk a normal amount, MAYBE you’re chattier, and this colleague is just rude.

    1. Carl*

      Yes, it’s not about whether or not OP was objectively talking a lot. Who cares! Also, reasonable minds differ on that, and one person’s chatty is another person’s charming.
      The point is Maggie was rude.

    2. CityMouse*

      I had this one colleague who used to bully my clssmate about being loud even after we explained this person was partially deaf and couldn’t always hear, particularly in situations with background noise.

    3. Well...*

      I’ve struggled with the label of “talks too much” for my entire life (have you seen my comment history? lol). I thought I’d chime in here, because for me personally, the advice Allison gives actually makes my issue worse, and some people might find my perspective helpful (not everyone though!).

      It’s complicated because I’m a woman who’s always been passionate about unfeminine subjects, so it’s very difficult for me to disentangle “genuinely talking too much” from “stop existing in this space.” I also have a voice that carries. Add to that a dose of pretty intense social anxiety, and it’s a recipe for angst.

      Because of my particular blend of social anxiety and talkativeness, my therapist has recommended strongly against the typical advice: over-monitoring myself in social situations. It raises my anxiety to the point that I can’t fully track the conversation anymore, adds to a sense of panic, which in general worsens the issue.

      I’ve found that taking a deep breath, relaxing, and trying to encourage a “you’re safe right now” vibe in myself has been the most helpful way to deal with my over-talking. When you feel safe, and like you’re not in fight or flight, your brain is better at social interactions. You’re not giving off the vibe that you’re just waiting for your turn to have the mic (which even if you talk very rarely, people find very off-putting and will get you the label of being a bad listener).

      People socialize well when they feel safe, so that you can have space in your brain to realize that the people you’re talking to are interesting. Remind yourself you LIKE being around them, relax, and naturally you will foster more genuine curiosity in what they are saying and more pro-social behaviors in yourself.

      1. Texan in exile on her phone*

        ” I’m a woman who’s always been passionate about unfeminine subjects, so it’s very difficult for me to disentangle “genuinely talking too much” from “stop existing in this space.” ”

        I too have been told I talk too much and too fast and too loudly, leading me to put sticky notes on my computer with “BE QUIET!” on them and literally sitting on my hands in meetings. (And that I “use big words that make people feel stupid” – that was in a performance evaluation.)

        I have never thought about it with your framing but wow that makes so much sense. Thank you. (But now I am angry about it, too.)

        1. Thegreatprevaricator*

          This makes me feel very sad for you. I came here to echo comments above re being talkative and that being part of neurodiversity. I have felt shame in the past about it but also feel there’s a balance with self censoring and self awareness. I get that not all contexts are friendly to bring our whole selves to but maybe that means you are not the problem. I do have to actively work to make sure I give room to quieter voices in a meeting but hey empathy comes with the talkative.

        2. Chutney Jitney*

          I have gotten that “uses big words” BS before too. That’s on them. You can’t actually *make* someone feel stupid. They feel insecure and are taking it out on you. Personally, my big vocab comes from being a big reader since I was little.

          What would be actionable about that note on your evaluation? Truly, I have no way of knowing what someone else will think is “too big” of a word. You can’t really speak in sentences of only 1 syllable.

          I remember a boyfriend of my sister’s saying he thought I was trying to intimidate him and my sister being like, “no, she just talks like that.”

        3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          I think your then-manager misplaced some words, and actually meant to say that you “use big words that make me feel stupid”. (Talk about a lack of introspective skills.)

        4. Ellis Bell*

          “use big words that make people feel stupid” – this made me literally lol. They didn’t even say vocabulary?! Tsssk.

      2. mf*

        To add to this: I think what constitutes as “talking a lot” or “too much” can vary depending on how engaged and interested the people around you are.

        If others are super interested in what you’re saying, then they are going to have much higher tolerance if you’re verbose.

        So, I think the key is not to monitor yourself as much as it is to monitor others: are they really listening to what I’m saying? does their body language show they are engaged? or are they tuned out, trying to change the conversation, etc?

        1. Well...*

          So to be clear, my therapist has recommended that I stop all monitoring, of both myself and others. You naturally tune into the need of others when you’re relaxed, not when you’re keeping score.

    4. Allonge*

      To me, concluding that X person talks a lot – in general – based on a single meeting is quite a stretch in any case.

  6. I'm not here to steal your friends, promise*

    I feel like Maggie’s reaction has nothing to do with anything LW 1 did or didn’t do and everything to do with her feeling threatened by LW 1 joining their table for lunch. Some people are just really weird about “outsiders” joining their group. I’ve had similar things happen to me at conferences, work events, parties, etc. where the goal is supposed to be mingling but some people miss the memo. Although usually people stick to not acknowledging me or glaring instead of saying anything.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes, when I have seen people react like this (or had the impulse to myself) it was because of feeling that the “new person” had usurped the complainer’s usual role in the group, such as if the complainer is usually full of groan-worthy puns and then the new person is another pun enthusiast.

    2. Cait*

      This exactly. I think Maggie was used to their group dynamic and didn’t like someone else coming in and taking some attention away. Maybe she only wanted to talk about inside stories but couldn’t because OP was there. Or maybe she’s used to being the storyteller of the group and felt overshadowed. Either way, Maggie needs to get over it. Her like jab just makes her seem petty and rude.

  7. FD*

    #1 Maggie sounds like a jerk. Given that she was seated at the far end of the table from you, the only way she could have even really assessed your talking level would have been to watch you the whole time instead of the people around her.

    Even if you had been really annoying, it was an inherently time limited interaction, and she would have had the choice to excuse herself early, or remind yourself that she was only going to have to deal with you this one time.

  8. Portmanteau*

    I thought ‘Maggie’ was the alias of OP#1? Mark gestured to OP, asking the coworker if she had me his *friend* (OP also refers to Mark as her friend), not the other way around (introducing OP to his coworker).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Aggh, you are right! Since the comment section is full of people calling the wrong person Maggie, as does my response, I’m just going to switch the names in the letter to avoid further confusion.

      1. Portmanteau*

        Thanks! As RSMA says below, it’s still good advice! I was just a bit worried about OP reading the responses and comments (accidentally) calling the alias she chose for herself as rude, etc.

    2. RSMA*

      Haha, I assumed the same thing! I guess it doesn’t matter too much since it doesn’t change anything about the advice

  9. Katie*

    Is it possible you do tend to talk a lot or take over the conversation? Maybe there is a grain of truth. She didn’t have to be so rude about it though.

    1. Stardust*

      I’m sure OP has already thought about that, given how she sounds concerned about this whole thing and even wrote to an advice columnist about it (who also adresses this particular angle in her second paragraph).
      Like, I’m sorry if this sounds snarky but I’m always amazed when people seem to think there’s zero introspection going on with OPs and that they can’t possibly have come to the conclusion that no, what they did was completely normal and fine and indeed it was the openly hostile person who was out of line.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yes, like when women are made to “take a week to think about it” before going through with abortion, as if they hadn’t already thought about it before calling for an appointment. It’s infantilising.
        Then again, yes there are people who call the hotline without even trying to reboot first.

        1. Artemesia*

          A person who talks too much is precisely the person who doesn’t reflect on it. Always assume there is a grain of truth in criticism.

          1. Your Local Password Resetter*

            Actually no, a fair amount of criticism has no meaningful truth to it.
            Especially criticism from unreasonable people who are so self-absorbed that they complain at strangers over a perceived social misstep from weeks ago and then drive off over the horizon.

          2. Myrin*

            That’s a very bold claim I can actually immediately refute because I am a person who can indeed sometimes talk to much and who then reflects on it later and makes an effort to do better next time.

            And no, sometimes people are just talking out of their behinds and there’s nothing at all behind their criticism other than “I dislike this person/they remind me of my stepmother, ugh!/I’m being particularly cranky today/I love making people miserable/everybody should be exactly like me/etc.”

            1. new year, new name*

              Right? Also (while I agree that Maggie randomly saying “you talk a lot” absolutely means “you talk too much”) I just want to point out that there is nothing inherently wrong with talking a lot. I talk a lot. Sometimes I reflect on it like Myrin says, and think about how to do better next time. Sometimes I reflect on it, decide that it was appropriate to that situation, and move on!

          3. Talkative*

            Like Myrin, I’m talkative (late diagnosis ADHD here), and I’ve spent years working on picking up loose threads in conversations if I go off on a tangent, making sure to stop and circle back and ask about something the other person mentioned or is going through, remembering what they mentioned last time we talked… I also go through conversations I know I’m going to have beforehand in my head to try to get the language right and less wordy, and after I still can cringe if I said things that maybe I shouldn’t have.

            I’m always going to talk faster than most friends. But the many people in my life who enjoy talking to me don’t seem to mind — and no one would say I didn’t reflect on it. No one could say it about the OP either, since she wrote to an advice column because she was still reflecting on it.

          4. Allonge*

            I am sure there are people who both talk too much and are unaware of it, but this is neither universal, nor is it likely to suddenly be resolved if someone is rude about it like Maggie.

          5. L. Bennett*

            “Always assume there is a grain of truth in criticism.”

            No. Some criticism is legitimately just someone being mean and trying to pull someone down to feel better about themselves. You should consider the source of the criticism first and foremost.

            If people always assumed a grain of truth in criticism there would be some people (mostly marginalized groups) who would further internalize stereotypes against them. Some criticism is just trash, plain and simple.

            1. Jackalope*

              Yes, I was thinking about this recently too. An online discussion about misogyny (I’m a woman) led to a couple of dudes making some misogynistic comments about me. I sat down afterwards and thought about it, and it was actually almost funny how predictable they were in hurling insults when I didn’t immediately agree. And one of the dudes said, “If you had read (Book) then you would know that I’m right.” I replied that I had in fact read (Book) and I still disagreed, and his immediate response was, “I don’t think you’ve read it.” If his immediate response was to call me a liar when he doesn’t know me and has no real reason to think I would lie other than that I disagreed with him (and this book wasn’t even particularly related to the subject at hand), then there’s no point in continuing to talk. Some of those online discussions have really helped me learn that when it’s a random criticism from out of nowhere, it’s not me, it’s them.

          6. LilPinkSock*

            Hmm, if your second statement were true, I guess my former boss was correct when she said things like “Your curly hair is always an unprofessional rats’ nest. Latinos are always late to everything, it’s in your DNA. No one wants to hear a professional presentation from a fat girl. Using a note card during a presentation clearly demonstrates that you are unprepared, unprofessional, and unintelligent.”

            No. Sometimes criticism is just a person being a jerk. Why should I listen to any of that?

            1. Francie Foxglove*


              I hope your (former, fortunately!) boss chokes on a toothpick. I.e., not to death, but just close enough so her life flashes before her eyes and she sees what a despicable person she is, and when she’s recovered, goes forth determined to change. Yeah, I know, but one can hope.

          7. Willow Pillow*

            We’re only talking about LW because they have reflected on whether they talked too much… so by your logic, they didn’t. I try to never assume, because without evidence to back us up we’re left with bias.

          8. Turquoisecow*

            I mean, OP clearly IS reflecting on it. She’s thinking about it so much that she’s writing to an advice columnist! Does that mean the criticism is warranted or not? It’s impossible to say from our perspective, which is OP’s.

            I’d say the best thing OP can do is maybe ask others they interact with regularly if they agree. If she’s in a lot of team meetings, maybe the boss would have a good idea. Or if she’s in zoom meetings that are recorded.

            There’s also been studies showing that even if women speak less than half the time, they’re perceived as talking more than men, so don’t just rely on vague perceptions, get quantifiable evidence, ie: I spoke ten times in this meeting, others spoke no more than twice. But, it was a meeting to discuss my project. Is the meeting discussing Bob’s project the same sort of breakdown of people talking? Am I monopolizing the floor when I’m not the SME? That could be way more valid feedback than from someone OP met once during a meal.

          9. LeftEye*

            This is utterly untrue. I am a person who talks too much and I agonize over every social interaction I have, and spend a depressing amount of my time working on strategies to contain myself better.

            The idea that someone who is talking = someone who is overly confident or self-absorbed or oblivious is such a fallacy. Some people express social anxiety by nervous chatter, and the higher stress a situation is (say, meeting new people at a work event) the harder it is for them to maintain their control. It’s akin to picking at your cuticles or jiggling your leg- requiring lots of focus and conscious thought to correct, and is easy to not recognize that you’ve started doing it.

            Why do people feel the need to assume negative motivations about someone in order to justify being annoyed with them? Someone talking a lot can absolutely be annoying, it does not necessarily indicate anything about their capacity for introspection.

          10. RagingADHD*

            Good heavens, no. That’s a recipe for putting yourself at the mercy of other people’s issues, and making yourself an ideal victim for bullies and narcissists.

            One should always consider whether reasonable criticism from a reasonable person is valid or actionable. But if you honestly consider that every piece of criticism from any source has a grain of truth, you will destroy yourself.

            Exhibit A: my aunt who cursed me out at length for “murdering” my dying mother for “her money” (which did not exist) because we allowed her to be transferred to Hospice and get unlimited morphine instead of torturing her with futile interventions.

            Was there a grain of truth? Should I have taken that on board for my personal growth, and considered that maybe I was somewhat of a murderer? Or should I have recognized that she was lashing out inappropriately due to her own emotional state, and ignored it?

          11. New Jack Karyn*

            “A person who talks too much is precisely the person who doesn’t reflect on it. Always assume there is a grain of truth in criticism.”

            Both of these statements are false. Demonstrably false.

      2. new year, new name*

        haha yes – that’s a great point. Writing to an advice column about something literally guarantees that the person has been thinking about it!

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Respectfully, I think this is not really what that rule is supposed to be about. If the OP had said “My jaw happens to be wired shut and I did not say a single word through the entire lunch” and someone replied “Ok, but are you SURE you didn’t say anything?” that would be an example of “not taking someone at their word”. No one is debating the facts of what the OP wrote – lunch happened, OP chatted, woman was weirdly aggressive in the parking lot about it.

        The takeaway of this rule cannot be “OPs must be assumed to be faultless in all situations”. There is room in this story for 2 things to be true: Maggie was rude, but OP could also thoughtfully consider whether it’s valid or not. This is an inherently subjective situation, so it’s not helpful to dismiss out of hand the possibility that OP might want to reevaluate their interpretation.

        1. Colette*

          I agree. We should believe that the OP is telling the truth as she sees it; that does not mean that she can’t be wrong (in particular, it’s easy to be wrong about why other people have done what they’ve done).

        2. Yorick*

          But we should take LW at her word – she wrote that she has reflected on how much she talked and doesn’t feel she dominated the conversation but is still worried about it.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve found, especially with women, that people perceive us as ‘talking too much’ if we say really anything beyond the bare social pleasantries. Sometimes even then.

      It’s more likely that this person believes any newcomer should sit quietly and listen and thus any deviation from that would be regarded as dare I say ‘uppity’.

      Alison covers the ‘ask other, reasonable people, their opinion’ bit well but I do think she’s right in that someone who corners you in the car park to drop snide comments is probably not a reliable source.

  10. WS*

    Either Maggie was threatened by someone new at the table (some people are like that) or Maggie was criticising Mark’s chattiness via you because Mark has proven impervious. Either way, incredibly rude and all on her.

  11. Irish Teacher.*

    I seem to be interpreting #1 differently from most people because I wouldn’t assume Maggie meant it in a negative way. It could just have been meant as “you really added to the conversation” and just phrased badly.

    Either way, I wouldn’t worry about it. She’s friends with Mark, who talks a lot, so it clearly doesn’t bother her. I’d say either she was just a bit awkward and didn’t know what to say to you and is now thinking, “ugh, did that sound like I was criticising her” or else it was a case of her thinking you should have been quieter because “you’re not part of the group.”

    I think if you really were somebody who talked a lot, you’d hear about it. I do and I’ve been told repeatedly since childhood (I do try to tone it down). I also don’t think somebody who’s met you once is the best judge.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      I don’t know, I can’t see that “you talk a lot” can, in English at least, be interpreted as anything other than negative/critical. And she “spent the whole time thinking that?” – that’s not someone being nice or even neutral. If she had meant it positively or neutrally she would have said op was chatty or bubbly, or really enthusiastic about those llama reports,

    2. bamcheeks*

      I thought this— “you talk a lot” and “you talk too much” are very definitely different sentences to me, and everyone is treating the first as if it’s identical to the latter.

      I definitely know people who would say something like that very directly and mean it as a simple observation, not an insult. That said, they are very much an acquired taste: lots of people DO find that kind of directness insulting and that’s fair enough.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I think that interpretation is due to:
        1) a meta-analysis of why Maggie is saying this – usually when one comments on the behavious of others to them, it’s either a compliment or criticism, very rarely truly neutral.
        2) Maggie said she spent all of the time thinking this – as people don’t usually dwell on neutral things, this reinforces that it must be very positive or very negative.
        3) in our society, and especially regarding women, “talks a lot” is most often meant as a negative, so that’s how it’s received as a default.

        Of course it’s also very possible that Maggie just blurted out the first thing she associated with LW, and meant it no particular way. There are people like that, but it’s impossible to know without knowing Maggie.

        1. londonedit*

          Agree with all of this. I also think it’s coming across as telling that the one and only thing Maggie decided to say to the OP was ‘I spent the whole time thinking she talks a lot’. There are a million other things she could have said – hell, she could have stopped at ‘Oh yes, you sat at our table at lunch the other day’ – but no, she chose ‘she talks a lot’. Of course Maggie could simply have had an awkward moment and blurted out the first thing that came to mind, but I still think it’s a rude thing to say to someone you hardly know.

    3. JayNay*

      I think you’re going out of your way to find an interpretation different from the OP‘s. We can trust OP‘s judgement that it came off as incredibly rude.

      1. L. Bennett*

        Yeah, I really can’t wrap my head around being introduced to someone and just saying “You talk a lot” then driving off.

        The only time I can see someone saying this and it not bein perceived as incredibly rude is with, like, a toddler who is just learning social norms and at that point I would expect the parent to correct them.

        I don’t think it’s fair to anyone to say “oh they didn’t mean it like that” when they clearly did.

    4. Well...*

      I’ve literally never heard someone say, “you talk a lot” to mean, “you had a lot to say.” It’s almost always meant as the opposite.

      This is like saying, “your outfits are a lot,” and then later claiming, “I meant it in a good way! I love outfits that stand out.” Like… either you’re an extraordinarily bad communicator or you were deliberately trying to insult someone and are now walking it back.

      1. Flowers*

        ehhh I think if one said this, they should immediately follow with “I meant in a good way!” to avoid exactly that from happening. Like, I would say “Oh your outfits are a lot, in a good way! I love (that color/design/print) etc.” But I acknowledge I can be a little awkward at times but mean well. so I’d make every effort to make sure I meant something in a good way and that includes tone of voice and facial expressions as well…and if I still have any doubts, I’d probably reach out to them later on to clarify.

        (yeah sometimes it’s easier to just stay quiet and let ppl think I’m mean/unapproachable?)

        I mean, I’ve had ppl say to me “wow your pants are bright” or “oh you colored your hair!” (to the second one, I said “thanks!” as an automatic reaction and he said “I didn’t say it looked good” and then laughed and said “just joking.” So now anytime someone points something out, I’ll just nod and say “yes I do love bright colors/etc!” but I wont’ say “thank you” unless they specifically say it looks nice.

        1. L. Bennett*

          “I didn’t say it looked good”

          Wow! So basically he casually insulted you, doubled-down on the insult, then tried to laugh it off??? What a d!ck!

        2. laser99*

          I do the opposite. If I get something like, “Wow, that makeup is…something,” or “I see you cut your hair,” I assume they’re passive-aggressively indicating they don’t care for it. I say “Thank you!” brightly, to show it didn’t get through, so to speak.

    5. Not in the lunch bunch*

      but then why would Maggie say that one line and then drive off?

      she didn’t say, “yes I admired how much she spoke and seemed so comfortable with new people!” or “yes I remember her being so animated and friendly”

      she drive off. she was rude and she knew it. even in a parking garage at the end of the day, could’ve said, “yes, I remember thinking she talked a lot and i hope to hear more about all the conversations later, have a good one!” then the LW would not be ruminating on how rude Maggie was, but about how friendly she is

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I actually do know people who are this awkward; they get told off by for being rude but are genuinely blanking on what’s so rude about telling a blunt description without hearing how it sounds, then leaving the situation without social pleasantries. But they are all a good, good deal younger than Maggie! It’s also kids who have a diagnosis so in I don’t put forward the idea as a definite or even likely, just an outside possibility. It is actually more likely she’s a garden variety jerk.

    6. Juniper*

      I think we need to take OPs word for it and trust that it was rude. It would normally be rude and even if we speculate on it not being rude, I’m assuming that it wouldn’t have bothered OP, whose the one who witnessed it, if it was being said by a socially awkward person who really meant “you seemed interesting”. Plus even if the coworker didn’t mean it rudely, the impact is still that it was received as rude criticism that’s causing self doubt.

  12. Amy*

    “Unlimited” PTO is not necessarily great.

    My company has it and I’d much rather have a defined amount such as 4 weeks than the vague “unlimited.”

    And it’s really just about moving PTO liabilities off their books / not paying out at the end, than it is a benefit to employees.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Thank you for this point. I have heard that “unlimited” is often not that great, depending on the company. I’ve been giving it the side-eye in job notices ever since.

    2. Purely Allegorical*

      If you have strong work boundaries, then it can be awesome. My last couple of employers have had unlimited PTO and it was great — but I also was pretty diligent about taking it. I shot for around 5 weeks vacation per year. Now I’m at a company that only offers three and it’s hard to adjust.

      I’m also in an industry with billable hours — unlimited PTO is great for this industry because there are natural times where we work way more than standard hours. The unlimited PTO provides a natural way for us to get that time back. (Our utilization metric goes up during the busy periods, then we can take vacation later and still meet our utilization goals for the year).

    3. The Original K.*

      I agree, particularly if it has to be approved and the approver can deny it. I’ve read stories by people who work in places that have it but can’t take it because the powers that be veto it every time.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      I guess it comes down to how well each company manages it, but I’ve had unlimited at every job I’ve had since 2005 and could never imagine going back to the old way.

      Even though it’s called “unlimited”, to me it’s more about flexibility. You don’t have to worry about how many sick vs personal days etc…you just take it when you need it.

    5. baseballfan*

      Totally agree with this. There are several real issues with “unlimited” PTO, and it benefits the employer more than the employee. It’s a recruiting tool that sounds cool but in reality disadvantages the employee.

      1. By definition it gives unequal compensation to people who are peers and theoretically should be paid the same. There have been some strides made recently in getting rid of pay disparities among peers, but unlimited PTO just shoots that in the foot because it creates more disparities.

      2. It’s impossible to know how much is “too little” or “too much” because it’s whatever the manager thinks. I can’t imagine worrying all the time whether the time I was taking off was viewed as inappropriate. And I might never know!

      3. Statistically, people with unlimited PTO take less time off. That’s real money being left on the table.

      4. Unlimited PTO doesn’t accrue. So if you leave, you get nothing. I’ve never quit a job and not been paid out my accrued vacation. That’s part of my pay, after all, that I earned!

      It’s absolutely about getting the liability off the books. A Big 4 accounting firm went to unlimited PTO a few years ago and there was a huge uproar when a partner’s email was leaked on Reddie about how many tens of millions the partners were saving by not paying out accrued vacation to people when they left.

      1. Spearmint*

        While all these problems are real, keep in mind many companies still only offer 2-2.5 weeks of vacation a year. I would think with unlimited PTO most people would take more than that each year.

        1. baseballfan*

          But they don’t. That’s the issue. So instead of 2-3 weeks guaranteed, they likely end up taking less.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        Except for #4, those are all issues with how PTO is handled at a particular company, not unlimited PTO itself.

        IME, the best way to do unlimited is to have a minimum of say 3 weeks that everyone must take. This is fairly common and ensures there’s a baseline.

        Everyone is different, but over the years I’ve found I appreciate the flexibliity rather than the payout at the end

        1. I Have RBF*

          This. There was the comment the other day from the HR person at a company with unlimited PTO who would have a talk with people who didn’t take at least three weeks a year. Essentially, unlimited is okay if there is at least a soft minimum, and preferably a hard minimum.

          One way some companies do that is by having a winter holiday shutdown of a week or two, so that even the workaholics have to take off and there are days that no manager can deny people (which are the two problems with unlimited PTO – workaholics who don’t use it and managers whose default is “No”.)

          My current gig has unlimited PTO, and my boss says yes readily. I’m hoping to take ~3 weeks this year.

      3. Nay*

        If you’re relying on PTO as part of your pay when you’re leaving, you’re both not getting paid enough or using your vacation as you intend. It’s not part of your pay. My company just switched to unlimited PTO and I’ve got over 3 weeks approved so far this year. It works if you use it and don’t perpetuate toxic cultures around people using the time off they need and deserve…

        1. doreen*

          That’s not necessarily true – I might be planning to take a two week vacation in October and end up leaving that job in July. If I have vacation days on the books in July, in many situations I will be paid for them. With unlimited PTO, if I leave the job before my planned vacation(s), I’m just out of luck.

    6. EMP*

      I agree there’s big downsides but personally it’s worked out better for my attitude toward vacation/PTO. At my previous job I felt like I had to hoard PTO so I’d always have a week or so in the bank in case something came up, but now if I want to take a day…I just take a day. Last year I wound up taking about 5 weeks off because a great vacation opportunity came up. The year before I think I only took 3. It works out on average to about as much PTO I’d accrue at my previous job, but mentally I was less stressed about taking it.

  13. Jules the First*

    OP#2 – please reach out to the hiring manager for that great job! I turned down a great job that loved me and offered me everything I asked for because I wanted to have a baby and job #2 had much better maternity benefits and looked like a better quality of life, including the commute. After six miserable months in job #2, I was laid off in a restructure and out of the blue, job #1 called when I updated my LinkedIn. It turned out that the hiring manager liked me so much that he’d restructured the department when I turned them down instead of filling the role and they were limping along. I’m now six years into that job – and because I had flagged the quality of life benefits as an issue when I turned them down the first time, they had improved those as well, so not only do I have a job I love at an org I could happily retire from in 25 years time, I had the baby too.

  14. Turingtested*

    LW #1 to me this is one of those situations where even if you did dominate the conversation Maggie’s comment was far far ruder than talking too much. If possible put it out of your mind unless other people in your life are giving you similar feedback.

    You don’t mention your relative ages but as a young woman (younger than 30) I ran into many older women who felt it was their job to keep me in my place and let me know any little thing they thought I did wrong. At the time I thought it was misguided mentoring but now I see it as bullying. Could be way off base but something to consider.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Since it was a company-wide conference, it sounds like a special event at the lunch hour, which might be called a “luncheon” rather than just lunch, like a special event around the supper hour might be a “banquet” rather than just dinner or supper.

      1. Not in the lunch bunch*

        this reminds me of how the last night of dinner at sleepaway camp was called Banquet and people (kids ages 8-14, grades 3-8) often got “dates” to Banquet and I was always really confused… “isn’t Banquet just dinner?” needless to say, I never had a date to Banquet.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, I am baffled as well. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a light meal at midday, especially : a formal lunch”.

      It’s a work-sponsored event. “Luncheon” is definitely the correct word.

    3. LB33*

      The word itself is new to me which is why I asked the question. I’ve heard of a luncheonette as a type of restaurant, so I wasn’t sure if luncheon meant something specific or just another word for lunch. Sorry I didn’t mean to get off track!

  15. Glomarization, Esq.*

    I was on the receiving end of something like the interaction in #1 one time. “Annie” said her mean little thing and then literally turned on her heel and exited the room, leaving me and a handful of other people sitting around a table enjoying our coffee.

    Our reactions ranged from outright laughter to “wow, who peed in Annie’s Cheerios this morning?” People seem to think that life works like a TV sitcom or drama and you can exit, stage right, to claps from the audience and a break for commercial. But in real life, nobody has time for that drama and you end up looking foolish, as Annie did in my case.

    1. JustaTech*

      I once had a total stranger come up to me in the neighborhood pub and tell me I talked with my hands a lot.
      I was having an animated conversation with my parents and husband, but I wasn’t flailing around or anything.

      That total stranger (dude) made me feel about 14 years old again and we all just kind of stared at him in shock that someone would do that.

      1. Lucky Meas*

        Someone did something similar to me recently. I was talking animatedly with my party and a total stranger came up and said I was loud. There was also a TV on and loud kitchen noises. Dude wasn’t even sitting down to eat, just waiting for takeaway. The nerve!

  16. Angstrom*

    Not aimed at LW1, just a general comment: For perceptions of “talks too much”, it’s not just the time spent talking — it’s how that time is used. 5 minutes of give-and-take spread over a 30-minute lunch will be perceived very differently than 5 minutes straight of monopolizing the conversation.

  17. Feddie*


    Federal Employee here. The head of our office (SES/PAS) takes winners out to lunch if they’re in person, or orders them lunch and eats with them over zoom as a prize. Additionally, our HR team fills out the paperwork for eight hours of paid time off which can be given to an employee once every 26 pay periods. They also have their accomplishments explained to the whole office and the head’s boss during our all hands. Sometimes, if something special is going on and the boss can take a few guests, they’ll take the employee and supervisor of the quarter with them.

  18. Enginerd*

    LW3, the fact that this company is willing to give you an offer so quickly is putting up big red flags for me. Even if this sounds like a great fit for you, I’d be moving very cautiously right now!

  19. HonorBox*

    OP1 – This is a perfect opportunity to share a thought with everyone. We often need to look at people’s reactions as a window and not a mirror. Maggie telling you, OP, that you talk a lot is not a reflection of you (a mirror) but rather it shows you a lot about Maggie (a window).

    She is someone you’d met one time. Even if you did dominate the lunch conversation a little bit, she’s not in a position to make any sort of statement about it because there’s not enough context to really know that about you AND she shouldn’t be making that kind of statement in general because it is just downright rude. So remember that this is a window rather than a mirror…

    1. Eater of Cupcakes*

      If I may be honest: It doesn’t make sense to say that Maggie’s “not in a position to make any sort of statement about it because there’s not enough context to really know that about you”. Maggie was there. She knows how much LW talked. The real issue is whether Maggie was being sincere or just being cruel. (Though her phrasing was cruel regardless.)

      1. Texan in exile on her phone*

        I would take it a step further: Was Maggie’s comment even necessary? I say it was not.

      2. HonorBox*

        Fair point. And maybe my point would have been better stated that her not being in a position was because I read it as a general “you talk too much” and not nuanced like someone who had more than just an hour (or whatever lunch timeframe was) to put together an educated opinion.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I disagree. Maggie didn’t say “I thought she is talking a lot” she said “she talks a lot.” That is not something she has enough context to know based on one conversation.

        And it sounds like Maggie was not even part of the conversation due to being at the other end of the table, so I don’t think she would even have the context to really say if OP was talking too much even in this one instance.

        1. Eater of Cupcakes*

          That depends. A person who talks VERY much in one conversation is often also a big talker in other contexts as well. (I don’t know at all if LW actually did talk a lot, though.)

      4. Chutney Jitney*

        Actually, what Maggie said was not that OP talked too much, but that “she spent the whole time thinking” OP talked too much. You can be certain that is a lie. Maggie definitely thought about other things during that entire lunch. And what is the point of saying that to a stranger?

        Also also “Maggie was there. She knows how much LW talked. ” <- likely also incorrect. It's been weeks. Perception and reality are often different in the moment, and definitely change over time. (Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, for instance.)

        And finally, you might want to look up the studies that show that women are perceived as talking too much even when they talk like 75% less than men. Any amount is too much.

        1. Eater of Cupcakes*

          I’m aware of those studies, and I think they’re reliable about people in general. But I find it unwise to draw conclusions about one specific person’s opinion about another specific person from studies that are meant to teach us about people in general.

  20. HonorBox*

    OP3 – Ask all the questions you need to. If there’s pushback because you want to know more information before signing on, that’s something you’ll want to consider as you weigh the offer. Knowing all the benefits information is critical to making a decision. You want to be informed as you make a decision, and knowing everything ensures there’s a better chance that you’re going to stay with them for a longer period of time.

  21. Caliente Papillon*

    For LW one, first Maggie was rude! I wouldn’t be surprised if she was using “you” collectively, like you and mark talk a lot, but of course everyone feels more entitled to criticize women. I’ve gotten the you talk a lot when gabbing it up with friends.
    Also, I get it when someone else has nothing to say and they’re annoyed I have things to say.

    1. Eater of Cupcakes*

      I gotta point out that Maggie cannot have been using “you” collectively, since she wasn’t using “you” at all. Her words were “I spent the whole time thinking, ‘She talks a lot.’”” So it’s impossible for her to have meant both Mark and LW.

  22. Tasha*

    This is such a great thing to remember about so many situations: you made the best decision for yourself with the information you had available at the time.

  23. Wintermute*

    #5– when anything more concrete (like money, PTO/a day off/closing early, etc, gift cards, etc) is off the table don’t underestimate a heartfelt “thank you” with meaning and specifics behind it.

    Take the time to write even a few genuine sentences specific to someone’s work– the key is no one is impressed by generalities and platitudes so you need to know enough about their specific work to speak to something they, individually, have done. If one person gets “Jane, thank you so much for your work on the Venneman project, an implementation that size could have meant a lot of late, sleepless nights for many of us but thanks to your efforts we never had to crunch to make the deadline” and someone else gets “Julie, thanks for doing what you do.” it makes it seem like you don’t know or care about Julie.

    Also, avoid business buzzwords like “customer focused” or “value-added” (and does it bear mentioning that “synergy” is its own punchline at this point?), speak genuinely like a person and describe their impact to you and the business.

    Many people don’t get much attention or any positive feedback, sometimes employee recognition is LITERALLY about recognizing that they’re here, working, doing good work for the company, and that is A) seen and B) recognized.

    1. Samwise*

      Yes, exactly.

      Especially for those of us who are govt employees. We know money, gifts, etc are not available.

  24. JelloStapler*

    #1 gives me vibes that Maggie didn’t like her own thunder “stolen” in her mind. Wonder if she is a bit of a queen bee? Also some people just think everyone should be quiet and meek, dunno. but yes Alison, as usual, has spot-on advice.

    1. Roy G. Biv*

      My thought was LW1 was sitting with the cool kids, Maggie turned up late, and had to settle for sitting on the fringes.

  25. EPLawyer*

    #2 – you may be romanticizing the job you turned down a bit. When comparing what you learned in the interviews for Job 1 to the reality of Job 2, you may be overemphasizing that Job 1 was THE ONE for you just because Job 2 sucked so bad. Like Alison said, Job 1 might have had day to day realities you would have hated. Keep that in mind when assessing next steps.

    Good luck.

  26. JustMe*

    LW 1 – it seems like there is a gendered element to this, as the woman seems not to have any issue with Mark, who you describe as the “most talkative person” you know. There are actually studies on this–when women speak less than half the time in group settings, they’re seen as “dominating” the conversation. When men are talkative, they’re seen as sociable, intelligent, emotionally available, and caring.

    This may not help with this at all, but maybe it can give you some context and help write Jane off as rude?

    1. Eater of Cupcakes*

      Since Jane is the letter-writer’s name, I don’t think writing herself off as rude would be too constructive. :)

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Just pointing out down here that there was some confusion about who was who in this letter, and I think it actually got changed post-publication (see Alison’s comments up-thread)

  27. Eater of Cupcakes*

    I gotta point out something concerning LW 1:

    We don’t know LW and have no idea whether she does talk too much or not. So any reply saying “I’m sure that you didn’t talk more than the others” is useless, because we can’t know that.

    We don’t know whether LW talked more than the others did. We don’t know why Maggie said what she did.

    Maybe LW did talk more than other people.

    Maybe LW talked no more than Mark but had the “wrong” gender and that’s why Maggie focused on her.

    Maybe LW talked for the same amount of time as the others, but talked for longer uninterrupted stretches.

    Maybe LW doesn’t talk a lot usually but did this one time. Maybe she talks a lot usually, and people are too polite to say something. Maybe she doesn’t talk a lot at all, and Maggie was just being mean.

    We weren’t there. We don’t know. So any guesses are pointless.

    1. HonorBox*

      But the LW did write in and ask for perspective… so people offering input are doing what we were asked to do.

      1. Eater of Cupcakes*

        What LW asked was whether she should reach out and apologize to Maggie, though. She didn’t specifically ask whether she talked too much or not. Which makes sense that she didn’t ask, since neither we nor Alison can know the answer to that question.

      2. Lynn*

        Many assumptions are being made though about the OP’s behavior when none of us were there to observe

      1. Eater of Cupcakes*

        My point is that it seems too many people in the comments feel that they know whether LW talked a lot, even though they can’t actually know that.

          1. Lana Kane*

            I interpreted this comment as saying that ultimately, why Maggie said what she did is irrelevant because we can’t possibly know. And since the OPs’s question was “should I apologize to Maggie?”, the speculation is irrelevant.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          There is no amount that OP could have talked that would have made Maggie’s response in any way reasonable. As Alison said, that makes Maggie an unreliable source and her words not worth considering. We don’t have to know anything at all about how much OP did or didn’t talk to say that.

          1. Eater of Cupcakes*

            Exactly, we don’t have to know anything about how much OP talked. Which is one reason why I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to speculate about that question.

  28. Tricksie*

    “no job can soothe these systemic issues under capitalism” – I feel this in my soul

  29. Susannah*

    OH, LW1 – I so hope you run into “Maggie” in the hall. You can open your mouth as if to say hello, then theatrically press your lips together, raise a hand as if to say, “caught myself! I won’t speak!” and then walk away.

    Sounds like Maggie didn’t like anyone else invading her little junior high school cafeteria table. What a jerk. While you’re ignoring her, remind her that “fetch” isn’t going to happen.

  30. LilPinkSock*

    LW #1, Maggie was rude. Regardless of whether or not you “talked a lot” or “talked too much”, frowning at you, pulling out that uncomfortable line, and abruptly dipping out without another word is not how a polite person speaks to colleagues.

  31. Nay*

    #1 You should be regretting not immediately calling her out with a sassy, “Excuse me?” or “Did you really just say that” or “The only thing I’ll remember about you is thinking ‘she’s RUDE’!” lol, not apologizing…you keep doing you :)

  32. Samwise*

    LW 1: I sure hope Mark said something at the time — like, Wow, I don’t know where that came from! or, I’m so sorry, Maggie is kind of…extra, just ignore her.

  33. Smithy*

    OP #2 – for a long time I was you. There was a job that could have been great that I turned down because I was concerned about some legit issues (would require a move I’d have to do almost entirely on my own and for a sector change) to stay in my current job that might become better but not require moving. My job at the time got actively much worse, and the following job hunt took a while due to other external factors. So the regret I had on not taking that job and essentially betting on myself on that risk was big.

    From a professional and pragmatic context, no one will fault you for the choices you made and just like you – the job I turned down could have also ended up a total bust. But it’s just been really useful to see that regret in retrospect more about not being in a position to bet on myself and my ability to take on multiple challenging tasks (a move, a new job) at once. It’s been incredibly helpful as a means to never romanticize that job, but also as a way to think about what I need to avoid being in that place a second time.

  34. theletter*

    LW #1,

    There’s also a good chance that “Maggie” is staring at the ceiling right now and asking herself why she would say such a weird, awful thing like that. Maybe it was a team inside joke that got lost in translation. Maybe it was a code phrase for love that her mom would say to her sisters. Or maybe sometimes in social situations people just glitch and sputter and black smoke arises and they are so shocked by their own distructiveness that the only thing they can do is get in their car and drive away.

    Honestly, I’d let this one go – or reach out and say that you were sorry you didn’t get a chance to talk more at the luncheon since the room was so loud. Maybe she’ll appreciate a second chance to properly introduce herself as a non-jerk.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      This! I’d give her the benefit of the doubt this time. if you run into her again and she’s rude a second time, then you can put her on your s*it list.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I’m also on Team Let It Go–but I strongly advise against reaching out to Maggie and apologizing for anything at this point. This seems like a conversation that will help no one.

  35. Ahdez*

    LW 1, two of the things I try (emphasis on try, it’s hard!) to accept in life is that (1) not everyone is going to like me and (2) that some people are just plain rude, no matter what anyone does about it. An outgoing, talkative person can be very appreciated by some people – as a person who tends toward shyness, I personally am grateful when someone carries the conversation when I’m meeting them! Other people won’t like it, but honestly that’s on them. Clearly something didn’t click with Maggie that day and she was very rude when she saw you again, but what I’m trying to say is try not to stress about it or overthink that other people thought the same thing, especially if your friend Mark is saying you were fine.

  36. Delta Delta*

    #1 – First, Maggie’s comment was rude, and we have no idea why she said what she said. That feels 100% like a Maggie Problem.

    Second, I have been the “talk too much” person and sometimes it is a train you just cannot stop. I recall being at a luncheon (why always at luncheons?!) and although I could tell I was the only one talking I could not seem to stop and the more I tried the worse it got. I was simultaneously babbling and dying of embarrassment. It was a 22 years ago and I’m still embarrassed. The point is there are shades of this – all the way from maybe talking a little much to talking yourself into the ground. And sometimes you know when it’s happening and sometimes you can’t know. In any case, I’d say no, don’t apologize to Maggie. But I would also suggest becoming more conscious of how you participate in conversations just in case you do tend to dominate.

  37. Cop Sister*

    My sister is a police officer and her favorite recognition was a personal card from one of the captains. He wrote her a note saying how impressed he was with her handling of a case and how glad he was that she was on the force. It was short, sweet, and she loved it. She took a picture and sent it out to all of us. Something like that is able to go in her personnel file and help her get promoted later.

  38. carsick cat*

    Overly talkative people grate on my nerves, especially when they talk over/dominate the conversation.

    But I’d never express my annoyance to the chatterbox to their face. That would just be rude

  39. Flowers*

    I’ve been working with an “overly talkative” person for a while now and yes I’ll say they talk too much. I’ve noticed how the group is different when they’re not here vs when they are here. Very much a “I have to be center of attention” type. There’s also slamming/pounding on the desk, obsessing over things, etc.

    BUT I figure that it’s karma for the times I dominated a conversation/gathering and let the other person be bored. So I keep to myself and join in when I can but try not to be bothered anymore.

  40. Dulcinea47*

    Anyway, shortly after this thread was posted, my boss came around with free tote bags, good ones with a zipper. (it’s employee appreciation week here. I also got a donut and an orange for breakfast.)

  41. Risha*

    LW1, Maggie was very rude. Anyone who would just do a drive by insult like that should not be given a second thought, especially if they only met you once/don’t really know you. However, it may be good to do some self reflection to find out if you do in fact talk a lot. Ask people close to you that you trust to be honest (and make sure you are for the answer!).

    Either way, don’t give her any more of your mental energy. If you ever do cross paths with her again, keep it professional but very formal.

  42. Nodandsmile*

    #1 Is it a possibility that the others at the table were watching the Mark & Jane show? That’s you two talking only (or mostly) about your shared experiences, which effectively shuts others out of the conversation? I say this as someone who had a couple of people hijack my anniversary lunch doing that. I didn’t do a Maggie, but I was very annoyed, and I eventually loudly asked someone else an unrelated question to shut down their conversation and start one the whole group could participate in. This may not have been the case for you OP, but it could explain why Maggie was so annoyed with you – feeling excluded from the conversation. Her behavior in the carpark was still weird and rude.

    1. Polly Hedron*


      because the room was loud and the table too large to facilitate conversations between everyone.

  43. Polly Hedron*

    Unless your behavior at lunch was truly outrageous — like constantly talking over people, cutting them off, and, I don’t know, name-calling anyone who tried to interject, her comment was bizarrely rude.

    Even in that case, Maggie’s comment, weeks later, would have been bizarrely rude.

  44. Lifeandlimb*

    LW1, I think you can rest assured that your behavior isn’t the problem. For someone to make such a rude comment to someone upon first meeting them, indicates that Maggie has a biiig chip on her shoulder.

    Just let it go and hope that she can work through whatever is keeping her from being her best self.

  45. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW1 – I’m going to try to be kind to Maggie and say that she doesn’t have much of a filter (for whatever reason) and just blurted out the first thing that came to mind. But you shouldn’t let it bother you. You were at lunch! Of course you’re going to be talking to the people at the same table as you and it sounds like the room was noisy anyway. If you are really concerned, you can ask Mark if he thinks you were talking “too much” but I suspect he’ll just say “oh that’s Maggie for you” or something similar and tell you not to worry about it.

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