open thread – April 21-22, 2023

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,086 comments… read them below }

  1. Turkey Sandwich*

    Can we talk about “lunch meetings” for a second? I’ve recently started at a new job where I’ve been told there are a good number of lunch meetings, which for this company seems to be defined as a meeting where the company provides lunch with the expectation that everyone is working through that lunch.

    I’m questioning this, not from a legality stand point as everyone is salaried exempt, but from a logic stand point. The way I’m understanding this is that I no longer get a break in my day when I have these meetings and that I’m just kind of supposed to work straight through the day from my regular start to my regular finish.

    Is that how this works? I don’t mind it occasionally, but if it’s going to be frequent I can see that becoming an issue for me. I really like taking a small break in the middle of my day, and while I appreciate the company buying lunch, the sandwich doesn’t cost as much as the labor you’re getting out of me working through my unpaid lunch.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you take a break after the lunch meeting? You could gently ask around, like “Hey I normally run errands on my lunch break, do you just avoid having errands on lunch meeting days or is it alright to just take 30min after the meeting ends?”

      1. Cj*

        I think the problem is that they’re not actually meetings as such. you’re just supposed to be doing your normal work at your desk as usual with no break.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is what we do. We do not sign out for meetings; we sign out before/after for the state mandates 40 monute minimum.

    2. Latte Run*

      I’ve been in environments when this is more of a norm. This greatly varies by your daily schedule, the culture of the office (does everyone generally announce their whereabouts?), and how frequent these lunch meetings end up being, but I generally would try to go grab an afternoon latte, take a walk around the block, or just a few laps around another floor on a long way to refill my water bottle. These are things I wouldn’t feel wrong doing on a normal day, but when I had lunch meetings it helped me take back some time to maintain my sanity.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      I think it’s very industry dependent. We used to have lunch and learns (in the old days of hybrid where we had an office) where either we provided lunch or folks brought lunch and we had a learning session or mini work session. But, as you pointed out in your example, we were all salary exempt – so there is no such thing as an “unpaid break”. You don’t count hours, or count up breaks, or naturally are owed a break at any point when you are salary exempt.

      Now, a great company will realize that its employees will work best generally when it has a culture built around balance – taking breaks, going to the gym in the middle of the day, etc – but I’ve definitely heard of industries where there are push periods and they need all hands on deck frequently so that they can push through a project or prep for a product release.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Actually, of you have to report work hours for administration of a federal program, you do count your hours, even when exempt. I use this as a reason to take breaks after a working lunch. Or I leave early.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          Sure – but the point still stands that you don’t really have “unpaid” lunch time that someone is taking away from you when you are exempt.

    4. Generic Name*

      I work for a consulting company, so we track our hours to bill clients. When I have a working lunch meeting and I leave at my normal time, I put 8.5 hours on my timesheet. Or I’ll leave a half hour early, or I’ll take a break some other time during the day. At my company, any of these options are fine. I’d ask your peers how most people handle it, and if you still can’t get a good sense how people handle it, you can ask your manager.

    5. LunchGirl*

      I’ve had this come up a bit in my current job. We have “set” lunch times, however, so our lunches are staggered. My lunch always happens during these lunch meetings. For the first 1-2 I let it slide, then I realized that they’re expecting to just pay me for my “lunch” time and not actually give me a 30 min unpaid break.

      When I work 9-6, I NEED my lunch to stay sane! Who wants to work 9 hour days???

      I’ve started sending an email to my manager after she send the lunch meeting requests to say, “Hey, I actually have plans during my lunch break, so I will be taking my lunch after the meeting, at X time.”

      No one has come back at me for it so far, at least. And it’s started a chain where a few others take their lunches after the meetings now as well.

      1. SacredLunchBreak*

        Well done, you. In these situations, it just takes one person to start the ball rolling, but not everyone is brave enough.

    6. Ingemma*

      In my experience, yes that’s exactly how that works (company buys lunch in place of you getting a break.) Often IME there’s time in that lunch for a social component (Ie you’re not ‘working’ the whole time but instead having water cooler style chat with coworkers for some of it)

      How much do you know about their lunch culture generally? The places where I’ve worked that have had ‘working lunches’ like that have generally had very little / no ‘lunch break’ culture. If you’re not at a working lunch you’re eating at your desk / eating quickly in a cafeteria section where it’s standard to only take about 20 minutes and chat with people as they come by. Often the places that do this type of thing without a lot of pushback are places without a strong ‘lunch = disconnect’ culture.

      (I’m sure this whole situation sounds horrifying to a lot of people – that’s totally fair. All the positions this applies to are really only suited for people who can be ‘on’ all the time for actual business reasons so it’s generally not viewed as the end of the world, though I do sometimes miss being about to get chores done during lunch)

    7. Rosemary*

      Honestly I don’t think I have ever had a job with official “lunch breaks.” Some jobs the culture was that you’d take a break and pick something up and eat in the kitchen area with other colleagues, or at your desk. But never had a firm “lunch break is from 12-1pm” type of situation. But my jobs have always been flexible enough where you can run an errand if needed, grab an afternoon coffee and quick walk, etc.
      Also, calling it “unpaid lunch” – not sure what that means if you are salaried. Again, my jobs have never had a designated lunch, and while they have had general start/end times, they are not firm. Sometimes you stay late to get the job done; other times maybe you leave early (or are able to leave for a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day). No one is tracking hours.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        This — if you need a break, take a break — it might not be at the standard “lunch” time if you have a meeting scheduled then, but I have always worked at places like this and no one will notice or care if you are out running errands or doing whatever when you need to (as long as it isn’t impacting getting the work done).

      2. Turkey Sandwich*

        That’s kind of a hold over from my last job. My boss always described it as an “unpaid lunch”. We did have a scheduled break there and literally no flexibility. Like if I had to leave for an appointment I was expected to make up the time despite being a salaried exempt employee.

        It’s interesting getting used to a new place with a new culture. I’m still in a very “I got here at x so I leave at y” mindset, even if I have nothing to do until y.

      3. londonedit*

        I’m in the UK where we don’t have the exempt/non-exempt classifications, but if you’re a salaried employee then you will get either 3o minutes or an hour as part of your working day, unpaid. So, for example, my contracted working week is 37.5 hours Monday-Friday, 7.5 hours per day, but our working day is 9-5:30 including an hour for lunch (unpaid). Of course, these days a lot of the time people don’t take a full hour away from their desk for lunch, so technically the employer’s getting more than 7.5 hours out of people every day, but it’s swings and roundabouts because (where I work, and in my career experience) there’s a certain degree of flexibility anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you occasionally need to take a slightly longer lunch to fit an appointment in, or whatever. I can see Turkey Sandwich’s point about missing out on their lunch break for these meetings, but it sounds like it’s company culture to have these, and I’m sure the company believes that providing lunch makes up for people attending these meetings instead of taking their usual break.

      4. new year, new name*

        This has been the culture for salaried/exempt staff wherever I’ve worked. If you wanted to meet your cousin for lunch or go to the eye doctor or whatever during the middle of the day, then you blocked that time on your calendar and didn’t count it as part of your workday (if applicable – I’ve spent most of my career so far in billable hours environments). But otherwise you’re probably eating a sandwich at your desk while on a call. I work with people across the contiguous U.S. and Alaska, so that’s five time zones – there’s already limited time in the day when everyone can meet, and that time is likely going to be midday for someone!

      5. Nina*

        In my country (non-US) this would all be pretty normal, you’re legally entitled to two ten-minute paid breaks (no clocking out) and one 30-minute unpaid break (yes clocking out) in an 8-hour workday regardless of whether you’re hourly or salaried. Salaried staff usually represent the unpaid lunch break as a half-hour gap on their timesheets if they have timesheets that detailed, and are usually expected to take all the break time they’re entitled to and manage their own time around that. I used to shove it all together as one 50-minute lunch break and nobody ever cared. Nowadays I’m in a job more closely aligned to a factory’s schedule so the office (salaried) staff tend to break at the same time as the floor (waged) staff do.

    8. Soontoberetired*

      lunch meetings where I work do not preclude someone taking a break afterwards or before. it just means you can bring a lunch to the meeting or they are providing one since they scheduled the meeting during the noon hour. it is good to find out the expectations around your meetings.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        That’s exactly what it would mean in my culture and that’s why it’s so important to find out what it specifically means in each office.

    9. Engineer Woman*

      If you’re exempt, then it’s not about hours but the work done and flexibility should be built in. I work in a culture where there is no set lunch break and at times we do have lunch-time meetings (no free lunch, just between noon and 1pm) and it’s on everyone to manage their time. Go to take your lunch at 11:30 or eat after 1pm or power through and then go out for a walk at 2:30. I hope your company is not requiring butts in seats from 9 to 6 or 8 to 5 with zero break.

      1. Echo*

        I agree with Engineer Woman. I suspect this lunch meeting culture is seen as a perk (free lunch!) and that as a salaried exempt employee you are free to take breaks to take a walk or whatever through out the day.

    10. Miette*

      *Are* you not paid for lunch? In other words, are you expected to be there 8:00-5:00 each day, which is 8 hours work + 1 for lunch, or are your office’s hours 9-5? If it’s the former, then you are not being paid for the lunch break and should feel entitled to take one on these days IMO.

      I worked in a place that “paid” us for lunch, but even when we were expected to work through it, it wouldn’t have been unusual for someone to take a break to do errands or whatever.

      1. Turkey Sandwich*

        Yeah, I’m not being paid for the lunch in the sense that if you consider a standard 40 hour week I’m scheduled to be there 45 hours.

        1. Rosyglasses*

          But exempt workers should have no expectation that their workweek is only 40 hrs. That’s the whole point of exempt is there is no set boundary. I think you need to find ways to flex your days or decide whether it’s ultimately a dealbreaker for you.

        2. Girasol*

          Our company was nominally 8-5 with an hour for lunch except that one learned in the first week that “good employees generally don’t find that they need a lunch hour.” We brown bagged it at our desks every day; no company catering. While it’s true that an exempt employee should not expect that hours will always be limited to 40 per week, this is a sneaky way to turn a 40 hour expectation into a minimum 45 hour week (“and if that’s all you’re doing you’re just barely scraping by and need to talk to your manager about performance!”) It was a red flag for a culture toxic in other ways too.

    11. Wordybird*

      My previous role had 2-3 monthly lunch meetings like this where, yes, the expectation was that since it was a social/networking time with food provided by the company that it still counted as your lunch break and you didn’t need a second lunch hour on those days. I haaaaaaated it so much.

      Since I WFH and was salaried, I would simply take a second lunch break earlier or later on those days. My work was always completed and on time so I didn’t feel the least bit bad.

    12. LawBee*

      Working through unpaid lunch doesn’t feel accurate, as salary means you get paid the same regardless of whether you work or sit playing candy crush.

      But regardless, take your little break later in the day (or earlier) just not immediately after or before and you should be fine. But I feel like it’s the same as the occasional day where you’re there until 6pm instead of 5pm, but you don’t get OT. Just part of being salaried.

      1. Turkey Sandwich*

        I think that’s part of my problem because to me it feels different. I guess in general if I’m working late it’s always been my choice, like I need to stay late to get the report out or the design done or whatever the case may be. And I typically get to pick what days I’m going to stay and do that work, which means if I’m burnt out from the day or I have something scheduled I can decide not to stay and pick another way to get the work done. I sometimes work through my lunch at my desk anyway, but again that’s my decision.

        There’s something that just feels off to me about someone else in the office being able to decide that I’m working through lunch.

        That being said I’m also coming from an incredibly toxic environment where I had zero flexibility, and I developed some pretty firm boundaries as a form of self defense, so my perspective might be skewed.

        1. LawBee*

          Toxic work environments can do that to a person for sure. Maybe you can mentally reframe it as “this is a meeting where they feed me while we work, and I’ll zip out later”.

    13. New Mom*

      At my job it was never said, but a lot of times those lunches were treated as “the break” luckily enough people pushed back over the years that if someone wants to take a real break after a working lunch, that’s fine.

    14. Llama Llama*

      People in my company are horrible about scheduling meetings over lunch. I work from home, so no fee lunch. I block my lunch hour on my calendar to try to prevent it and it still happens waaaaaay to often. Depending on the importance, I go (obviously I was not important enough for the meeting anyway if they scheduled over my meeting anyway).
      I have been with my company 16 years though and have lots of legitimate meetings.

    15. Quinalla*

      My job this happens ~1x/week, it’s not mandatory for us. If I need to take a break when I go to one of these, I just do it. I’ve never asked about it, but we are salaried and my company is extremely flexible as long as deadlines are being met. I would probably ask a trusted peer or two how they do it.

      I am very outspoken about not scheduling meetings at lunch unless it is really, really important. I like my break too!

    16. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Seems as though it would be very industry dependent.

      Arch/Eng/Construction here – in a situation where proposals have a HARD cutoff time. Due dates were such that unless you were an hourly intern, you worked through lunch, and the company covered the cost. Again, unless you were an hourly intern, you did not leave the office during this “crunch time”. And 90% of the time, neither did the hourly interns – who were then sent home at the 8 hour mark so as to not incur OT for a proposal cost. And all of us, intern or not, had quite a lot of freedom for the remainder of the day….the morning and lunchtime of stress meant that everyone blew off steam/took a break/even left early.

      Approximate frequency? Once every 3-4 weeks. It was also part and parcel of the job description.

  2. Susan*

    My company is having each department do a team-building session that involves everyone taking a personality test in advance and then an interactive class about how the different personality types relate to each other and communication techniques based on personality type.  There are 4 main personality types (A, B, C, D) and some people also have a secondary type (e.g., Ab or Dc).

    The personality test is online and everyone was asked to complete it at least a week before the class.  One of my direct reports got upset when she found out that her personality type will be revealed to the rest of the department.  She said that when she took the personality test, she assumed it would be confidential, and she might have answered differently if she had known the results would be shared (I guess she would have lied about her personality to appear to be a different type?).

    Looking back at the info that was sent about the personality test, I am realizing that it doesn’t explicitly say that the results would be revealed, but… I kind of feel like it goes without saying because the whole point of this activity is learning about how to communicate with other personality types.  Now, I am a very introverted and private person, but I have zero problem with other people seeing my personality type results, so it never occurred to me that anyone would take issue with this.  Ironically, the employee who is upset about it is very active on social media, so I’m especially surprised that this particular employee is so upset about revealing her personality type.

    Is it reasonable to ask employees to take a personality test and share their results with coworkers?

    1. Eng Girl*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable but I don’t like it and I think it should be made clear that it’s going to be shared if that’s the case.

      Not that I put a ton of stock in these tests because they tend to be very binary and not the most useful, but for some people there is a difference between the image they want to project to the world/at work vs their actual personality. Even if your employee is active on social media she may not want her coworkers to have “insight” into her.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Yes, the social media activity is a red herring here. Many people heavily curate their online presence and only show a small slice of their lives/thoughts there even if they’re a prolific poster. It’s just like not mentioning a specific hobby you have to coworkers; there’s nothing wrong with it and it doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of anything, it’s just sharing in ways that are comfortable to the person.

        Susan, I suggest you offer to let her retake it for her comfort. These tests are far from scientific and she might not plan on lying about her personality, but to highlight some parts and minimize other parts at work. I don’t see any harm in letting her curate the way she presents herself at work the way she likely does online.

        1. Susan*

          That’s a good point, and now that I think about it, I can see how that relates to her comment about answering differently if she knew others would see the results. If she’s looking at it like social media, she wants to be able to control how she presents herself.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Also, psychology shows that our “personalities” are very context dependent. The same person is collaborative at work and competitive at sports. Someone who is scrupulously honest at work lies to their dentist about how often they floss. Helpful people don’t stop to give strangers directions if they’re in a hurry. I’m much more outgoing and assertive at work than in my personal life.

            It makes perfect sense to me that she would answer differently if she was thinking about personal situations versus work situations.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              And if being a blue triangle means I get to leave early, by gosh my multiple choice results are going to place me in blue triangle.

        2. Prospect gone bad*

          Many people THINK they heavily curate their presence but don’t realize how often they give up without realizing it, even just by innuendo

          1. Zombeyonce*

            That doesn’t change the intent, though, and that’s what matters for this employee.

      1. Susan*

        The problem with this is that the company pays a consulting firm and there is a large fee for every test, including re-takes.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Can everyone self-report? Everyone sharing which description they think fits them best is probably at least as accurate as the personality tests themselves.

          1. Susan*

            No, the deal with the consulting firm is that they take everyone’s results and make a department “map”.

            1. HoundMom*

              We all have our private and our public selves. If this is an exercise to help me understand how my internal person relates to others, then I am answering with my private self as the conversation will be how my internal limitations or strengths play to others in the workplace.

              If it is how I relate to others in the department, then I would answer using lessons from the workplace.

              So, it is two different exercises with different results. Like any other survey, if the questions are interpreted differently, the responses are not equal and the exercise is limited in value.

              The consulting firm should have defined this in the instructions and they should offer the questionnaire second chances are no cost.

              1. Tio*

                I’ve actually done this exact exercise at my last company, and while they do make the department map, they never reveal what any of our individual answers were. It’s more focused on the generalities of how the types relate to each other. If needed, Susan, you can let her know that what she answered won’t come up in the meeting, and she shouldn’t be too concerned about it. Honestly, I’m not sure she’d be approved to retake the test at this point; what would you say to the company when trying to get approval? She didn’t like her result?

    2. NaN*

      It’s reasonable to ask, but I would also like to know ahead of time if the results are going to be shared.

      It’s not a matter of lying about your personality. Whether they’re aware of it or not, people skew personality tests all the time by answering the questions how the want to be perceived rather than how they actually are. And, very often, your answers may be different if you’re specifically thinking about your actions in a work context rather than a personal context or an overall assessment. It’s completely normal to have a different work persona than your overall personality.

      Also, you have to know and trust your coworkers to be comfortable with this. There have been situations in past jobs where I felt like my personality test results or strengthsfinder results were being used against me or holding me back, because my results didn’t line up with some manager’s idea of what they should be for a promotion. Some people read WAY too much into those things and let it color their opinions of other people too much.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I know someone who had the same Myers-Briggs results as her manager, and she used this connection to campaign for her to fire everyone who had a different Myers-Briggs results. (I wish I were kidding.)

        I also worked for a company that only ever hired people who “passed” their personality test. (In hindsight, I’m pretty sure it was designed to identify insecure overachievers.) They took this to such ridiculous lengths that they didn’t have enough building maintenance workers because not enough applicants had the right personality type.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve done this – it made me feel a little awkward, but there was no “bad” personality type, so it wasn’t a big deal at all and the discussions were really interesting! I also remember exactly nothing about my coworker’s results at this point.

      1. RunShaker*

        My company requires new hires to take the personality test as well called DiSC. It’s part of the culture and it’s for new hires so the class I was in was with people I probably won’t see again. I didn’t fully agree with the personality type from my results but a few things made sense. I think the biggest help was how to speak and work with other personality types. I too see it as if there’s a test and then a class scheduled to go over the results then your personality type would be shared. It was stressed that there’s no bad personality and that leadership (c-suites) is made up of all 4 personality types. It was stressed that all 4 personality types are needed for a business to succeed.

          1. formalist*

            We use DISC assessments for team building and sometimes for conflict resolution. We are very clear that DISC is not a personality test. Instead, it provides insight into how people communicate with others and approach situations and can be useful for people who do not work or communicate well together.

            If your consultant was not clear that DISC is not a personality test, that’s a problem. Also, it seems there are different versions of DISC out there, some of which are better than others based on the descriptive language used in the results reports and the directions in the assessment itself. And the consultant training and guide documents, as well.

            I’d go back to the consultant and ask them to do a better job of describing the purpose of the assessment, if possible. And make sure that only generalities will be revealed- there is a lot in some of those DISC reports that really should not be shared without the individual’s consent.

            But, yeah, I can see how someone who envisions themself as a certain way might not be thrilled at what the DISC reveals about their communication and working style. The one we use provides two styles- adapted (for example, at work- defined by what one is asked to think about when taking the assessment) and natural. If yours does, and depending on both styles, maybe your direct report will feel a little more at ease realizing they communicate differently at work than when not at work.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, I’ve done DiSC before, my current job uses Discover Yourself – there’s no “bad”, it really is more about how you communicate and prefer to be communicated WITH. I guess I don’t really understand why this employee is upset.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I’m guessing she got a result that isn’t at all accurate for her and she doesn’t want people communicating with her based on that.

            1. INFJ*

              People also get upset when they get a result that conflicts with their self image, accurate or no. It could be that.

              1. Beets*

                THIS! We had to do personality tests a while back and there was one person in my unit who took the test 3 times. She didn’t like her initial results but was okay with it until two other individuals on the team got the same as her and she did NOT like that at all. She felt that her results were incorrect because she wasn’t anything like the other two. But after taking the test 3 times she got the same results each time and finally gave up.

        2. JB*

          I used DiSC with my students, but I make sure to clarify that it’s a working style assessment, not a “personality test”, and one of the first discussion questions that I have them answer is what resonates with them from their results, and what doesn’t.

          I’ve never anticipated that anyone would have a problem sharing their results, but I will say that some of the free versions use terminology that I don’t necessarily agree with to describe some of the types. For example, I am a D, and the adjectives I’ve seen on some versions of the assessment are “pushy, authoritative, demanding”, etc. which can paint a more negative picture than some of the adjectives used for the other types.

          1. sundae funday*

            I think the “working style assessment” vs. “personality test” is a very important distinction. I took this test years and years ago, and I got C. I think it’s pretty accurate as to my work style. I prioritize producing quality work and I don’t let my emotions get in the way of working. My “flaw” is having little patience with people whose feelings and emotions impede productivity.

            But in my non-work life, I’m more empathetic and I’m not actually fact-and-logic driven in my decisions. I don’t have a problem dealing with other peoples’ emotions and I can be quite emotional myself.

            1. sundae funday*

              I looked further into it and apparently the C was first described as a “fearful adjustment to a superior force” and uhhh I don’t relate to that at all, lol.

        3. Mockingjay*

          My team did a short, free version of DiSC. I’m not enthused about these tests, but they seem to crop up in every job these days so I just answer however I want. In this instance, our results (voluntarily shared) pretty much backed up our work personas. We spent about 20 minutes on the discussion – how can we communicate with each other better – and then the exercise was promptly forgotten.

          At ExToxicJob, supervisor was heavily into Myer-Briggs and wanted us to take the assessment. We all refused.

          No advice other than answer how you want, not necessarily how you are.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        We did Meyers Briggs at a small nonprofit I worked at, and I do remember one colleague’s results… because most of us were kind of clustered towards one corner of the chart, and she was in the totally opposite corner, with every letter different than mine. On the one hand, I did find it pretty helpful to realize that some of the ways in which she irritated me were just very different working styles and strengths, and it helped me think about how to improve our working relationship. On the other hand, that kind of “one person different from the rest of the team” could become a problem that someone wouldn’t necessarily want to reveal, depending on the team.

        1. Cheshire Cat*

          My team was doing TeamWorks back in the mid-90’s, which included the MBTI. I ended up in the corner with the guy who would talk your ear off about extraterrestrials and how they were going to come back for him someday. Nice guy, hard worker, but kinda strange.

          We were both INFJ’s and there were 2 of us out of 80, which is roughly the correct percentage. MBTI makes me laugh because my type has not changed in 30 years, having taken it about 6 times, and it describes me to a “T”. I’m like a caricature of an INFJ.

          1. Miss C.*

            I didn’t realize INFJ was the rarest – that’s me too, always, every time I’ve taken the test.

            That makes sense thought – even to my mind, I’m an outlier.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      I don’t think she “lied.” Her answers were probably based on how she is in private life, not her work self. Let her take it again.

      I really really want an employer to just go all-in on silly personality quizzes & find out which Disney princess each member of their staff is.

      1. Susan*

        The test does state very explicitly to answer the questions in the context of work. The company pays a hefty fee for every test, so it would cost hundreds of dollars to let her retake it.

            1. formalist*

              If the consultant’s instructions were not clear regarding DISC not being a personality test and any other important aspects, then I would ask the consultant to eat the cost. Sounds like maybe the instructions were clear, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit and maybe check in with a few other employees.

              I have access to a DISC administration platform and I pay less than $20 per assessment. Hundreds per assessment seems really steep, unless that also includes the group workshop time- I hope it does, and that is not an additional fee on top of the assessments.

        1. Observer*

          You keep mentioning that the instructions say to answer in the context of work. But there is a difference between how we react internally to work situation and what we do.


          I just got assigned to do a ridiculous report. How do I react? In my head I’m probably snarky as all get tout, and even might make some really biting remarks at home. So, that’s reaction. However, that’s not what anyone is going to see. Externally, I’m just going to verify that this report is actually necessary and then go ahead and deal with it.

          If I’m doing an assessment for myself, the former would be the right answer. I I’m doing an assessment for my boss? The latter, 100%

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes! “At today’s staff meeting, we’re going to take Buzzfeed’s Choose A Wedding Dress To Find Out Which Sandwich You Are assessment to determine the next project leaders”

        1. 21st of September*

          Meyers Briggs, DiSC, and the rest are about the same level of rigor.

          Also, I hope my lace strapless mermaid dress means I’m a Cuban sandwich.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Don’t be ridiculous, any type of mermaid wedding dress maps to either tuna melt or fried pollack.

              1. Mr. Shark*

                I don’t think you want to get into whether tacos (or hot dogs) are sandwiches. That could cause a lot of arguing, hurt feelings, and drama at work!

      3. Prospect gone bad*

        I don’t know if that’s possible, if you’ve ever looked at the specific questions. In fact, we did this exercise six years ago at my job. I came out as INTJ or whatever the rare one is that everyone rolls their eyes at online now:-)

        I was gently nudged or “given an opportunity” to retake it to be sure, and went through it much slower, and I didn’t see room to lie or answer questions differently. I found everything pretty straightforward and second test was the same

    5. Anon (and on and on)*

      The questions for those sorts of tests tend to be a lot more sensitive than the profiles they give you based on your answers. If it’s possible, I would let her review her profile ahead of everyone else to see if she’s comfortable with it being shared with the rest of the group. It may be possible that she’ll be comfortable after all, but if she’s not she should have the option of it not being shared.

      The bottom line is, even if 99% of people are comfortable with something being shared openly you need to respect the 1% of people who aren’t. The process wasn’t explained fully to her in the beginning and she should have been given the ability to opt out.

      1. Anon (and on and on)*

        Or, see if she can review all four of the profiles. That way she can see what kind of information could potentially be shared.

        1. Susan*

          She has already received her results, and the report with the results contains information about her type and all of the other types.

          1. Anon (and on and on)*

            Yeah, if she’s still uncomfortable sharing I think you have to let her opt out. The point of this exercise is team-building. If there’s even a hint of someone being coerced or having information shared against their will, you’re going to achieve the opposite. Not only will she be upset, but her reaction has the potential to upset the entire team dynamic.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              Yes, exactly. Forcing someone to reveal personal information in a group situation to improve work collaboration is a deeply, deeply flawed approach to management.

              And if the company is spending hundreds of dollars per person (!!!!) to do this, that’s a lot of pressure for people to take the results seriously. I’d be worried that my work interactions afterwards would boil down to “But you’re a ZXJV/blue triangle/fish taco/Ophiuchus – of course that’s what you’d say.”

    6. TX_Trucker*

      I think the expectation is that the results will be shared with co-workers. When our office used the DISC assessment, the trainer talked about “natural” style versus “adaptive.” He said the assessment was meant to reveal your normal everyday personality, but that was not necessarily reflective of how you conducted yourself at work. Ideally, when those styles match, you have a generally happier person; such as as the extrovert that does lots of public speaking. However, successful employees adapt to the situation.

      Was this personality test a “fun” team building activity that will never be used, beyond the initial sharing? Or do you plan to use the results when assigning tasks or some other work related function? If you plan to use the results, I would let her take it again.

      1. Susan*

        It is the same assessment that your office did. It will be used as a team-building activity in an effort to improve teamwork/communication, and definitely not as the basis for assigning tasks or considering promotions or job applications.

        1. 21st of September*

          You can do communication and teamwork workshops that don’t involve pseudo scientific personality horoscopes. I have done these horoscopes for my own sake, but I would never submit to taking them in the office and having the results shared. I think you should have let people opt out.

          1. WeGetBetter*

            I’m on your team. The more I learn about the lack of science behind these the more furious I am that they are do often used in business settings.

        2. Observer*

          She’s right to be worried. Tests are way too easy to game, and way too inaccurate even when they are not gamed. Which means that someone is likely going to be told to communicate with her way that she does NOT like, because that’s what the test says is her “preferred style”.

    7. Jujyfruits*

      I see where she’s coming from. I’ve had to take those kinds of tests at work before. They put people into boxes. It should have been stated that the results would be shared with the group, and for what purpose, so people could adapt accordingly.

    8. my personality is null*

      Is there a way to run the class where each person’s results don’t have to be shared? Talk more generally about how Libras respond to Aries or Scorpios. And let people volunteer if they want to share what their results were.

    9. Irish Teacher.*

      I think it could be problematic as it could lead to people being stereotyped. Personality types are very debatable and I don’t really think it would be good if people learnt to communicate with others based on something that could be completely inaccurate for some people.

      I think personality tests are fine for fun or even for your own info, as you will know if the results are accurate or not and can ignore those that aren’t. I don’t see anything ironic about somebody being active on social media and willing to reveal their actual personality and, on the other hand, not wanting to be stereotyped based on something likely to be unscientific. I don’t think it’s about being private and certainly not about being introverted, but rather about not placing any value in personality tests and being concerned others might. Looks at how many people think introverts are shy or lack confidence or hate public speaking. I don’t know what the personality types are, but let’s say for example, she’s somebody like me – very introverted and socially awkward, dislikes loud social events but very confident and loves speaking in front of people. People could assume based on some of her traits that she wouldn’t do well in a role that involved public speaking when that might be her dream role.

    10. Zap R.*

      The employee’s reaction is weird but mandating that everyone at the company takes a personality test is also weird. There’s probably a better way to accommodate different communication styles than making everybody do pseudoscience.

    11. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      GAH! These tests are such BS and there is a history of discrimination around these tests. Back in the 90’s it was common for certain large corporations to refuse to hire people based on M-B types.

      I have also been made to feel badly about myself because women “aren’t supposed” to be a certain type in exactly one of those “learn how to work with other types” workshops. It was an all women’s empowerment seminar where we did two components and they went into great detail on the wonderful diverse strengths of 3 of the 4 quadrants spending 15 minutes on each and then they got to my quadrant and said. “Well I guess the world needs nerds” and moved on.

      I am one of the people who depending on my mood that day could end up in any of the test results, so it is not exactly lying to decide to put myself in a different mood before taking it.

      1. INFJ*

        Most people’s answers will change depending on their mood, how their life is going at the moment, whether they’ve eaten recently, slept well, etc. etc. Personality, outside the very broadest strokes, is fluid, and not some sort of permanent, measurable characteristic.

        Beyond that, with all of these tests you have to accept a lot of unproven speculation and definitions about what a personality trait even is, what that actually means, and what that might mean about how you engage with the world. It’s kind of like tarot cards, without the pretty pictures.

    12. Yes And*

      I had a business school professor who was mildly obsessed with personality quizzes. We took several of them. Clifton Strengths Finder is the only one I remember by name, but they were all sorting people into categories of employees/leaders. My takeaway is that all of these personality quizzes are reductive BS that have no value beyond entertainment.

      For several of these quizzes, we then had to announce to the class what we were going to “work on” in ourselves based on the results of these quizzes. In a remote-learning class, where this was done in a message board, and there could be no further consequences to whatever you said, it was just eyeroll-inducing. If it were done in person, at my job… let’s just say I have a lot more sympathy for your employee than a lot of commenters on this thread.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I loooove when these get trotted out because I always end up being the “assertive” type.

        For context – on DiSC, I’m a very strong D; MBTI, I’m an ENTJ; Enneagram, I’m an 8; Strengths Finder, I’ve got competition as my top one.

        No one is ever surprised.

    13. constant_craving*

      It’s just a really problematically flawed premise- I’d reconsider doing this at all. These things are largely made up nonsense with no real grounding in fact. The idea that people can just easily be categorized like this and that the categories are actionable is completely misguided.

      I’d be upset if I were forced to participate in pseudoscience and then my coworkers were told to interact with me differently because of that pseudoscience.

      1. Sorrischian*

        My workplace uses the True Colors test, and it’s been really fascinating to me how different teams handle it. One team, we all took the test, talked about what different modes of communication work for various people – and then we all promptly forgot what color anyone had been assigned, so the only thing anyone remembers from it is the idea that different people have different preferences and stressors, which I think is generally useful to keep in mind. The other team got completely fixated on the colors and everything is “because you’re a gold” or “because you’re a green” in strange and unhelpful ways, instead of actually trying to find workable solutions to people’s different styles. When I was on the first team, I was pretty on board with using these kinds of assessments, but I increasingly agree with constant_craving that they’re deeply misguided.

    14. New Mom*

      Every time I’ve done this at work I assumed or was told that the results would be shared. It’s possible that this person is new or just hasn’t encountered it before, so moving forward (if you all ever do it again) you can just be really clear to people that these type of things are shared.

      1. Susan*

        She is young and new to the workforce, and I think that’s a part of it. Nobody else seemed surprised that the results will be shared, but I guess she hasn’t experienced something like this before and didn’t know what to expect. There was recently an employee engagement survey, which the employees were repeatedly assured was anonymous, and she thought this was the same type of thing.

    15. Ingemma*

      It would also seem pretty obvious to me that these results either would or could be shared – but it seems from the replies you’re getting that it’s not the case in all industries or wouldn’t be obvious. I think the thing to learn from this is to make it explicit next time that that’s the intention.

      I would not consider using any capital to convince your company to pay money to let this person take this again though.

      “I’ve taken your feedback on board & I’ve asked that next year/ next time the communication is more explicit with what the results will be used for. For this year, these results will be used for the rest of the exercise / training.”

      If she keeps coming back to it, you can assure her you’re not personally planning on using anyone’s responses for evaluation etc in the future.

      Other than that I wouldn’t give this too much airtime … it’s a work quiz for something that some people find really insightful but it sounds like you and me both think that these things are a little silly. The stuff they share out of this is so nebulous anyways + it all comes from multiple choice questions. Regardless of where you land on the silly to helpful scale, there’s hardly a lot of highly specific or personal info in there.

      If she wants to be annoyed about it privately after that, that’s her business at that point. From a management perspective, I don’t think you really need to do much accommodation other than acknowledging her feedback and taking it on board for the future.

    16. RussianInTexas*

      Honestly? I am that person who would answer in the way I think the employer wants me to be, if I knew the results would be revealed.

    17. Doc of the Town*

      It isn’t unreasonable if it’s for their individual edification. But it’s absolutely an overstep to expect folks to share. You can easily teach about communication techniques without everyone revealing the credulous from a poorly designed survey.

      1. Doc of the Town*

        *Without everyone revealing the results from …

        I’m incredulous at that credulous.

    18. Observer*

      Is it reasonable to ask employees to take a personality test and share their results with coworkers?

      As a fund activity that could also be a lead in to a conversation about communications styles, yes.

      As a serious activity to learn about people? No. Not because of privacy concerns. But because of this: “she might have answered differently if she had known the results would be shared (I guess she would have lied about her personality to appear to be a different type?)” In er words, the test is SO easily gamed or SO inaccurate that the results are not useful. And they could be harmful if someone’s results don’t match some stereotype.

    19. Rick Tq*

      My company did Strength Finders and shared the results. During the review there were some comments that “Of course Mary is a Woo” but not much more that that, and a month later nobody cares or remembers.

      Unless your employee decided to answer as Hannibal Lector I doubt anyone will care what her results were.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        I’ll give Strengths Finder this, I’ve never found out someone got “woo” as one of their strengths and been surprised at all.

    20. Shiny Penny*

      I despise these exercises and I very loudly and publicly opt out of them. I have run into so much stigma surrounding certain results and I can see why someone would want to tailor it to a specific result especially in a work context.

    21. Chilipepper Attitude*

      You can do the part about how the types communicate and relate to each other without revealing anyone’s specific type.

      We did something similar at my workplace and did not share our types. And the whole point was to have each person learn about and come to value other types and learn how to communicate with them. The session did not do that.

      I felt like my type should be put up with and the conflict-avoidant type was the norm and the rest of us should act like them. But I’m not salty several years later.

    22. Qwerty*


      For starters, you say “ask” – was this truly optional? Did they feel like they could opt out with no repurcussion? Did they know that personal details were going to be revealed to their team before submitting them? (sounds like it was a no to the last one)

      Someone’s work personality is different than their home personality. We interact differently with coworkers vs friends vs family. She wants to take it again as her “work” self rather than her “whole” self. Me at work vs Me at home is almost completely opposite.

      Your reaction is why I strongly dislike these personality assesssments in the workplace. It encourages stereotyping people based on psuedoscience. I would encourage you to look through the archives for letter about the negative consequences of team members being labeled by personality quizes.

      Look at how you are already labeling her negatively:
      – She’s a liar trying to appear differently to her coworkers
      – She’s active on social media = her personal info can be sent to the entire department

      I’m not really seeing any personal accountability here as her manager or any empathy for yoru direct report. She feels the results of the assessment are too personally revealing and doesn’t want it broadcast to the entire department – can’t you empathize? Replace the personality type with some info that you would rather keep private. Everyone has different boundaries and you have found hers.

      The phrase that keeps bouncing in my head is “informed consent” I’ve been some of these personality/communication thingies before, and the better ones did not involve sharing info. People took the assessments for themselves, different styles were explained along with which personalities were more likely to correlate, but at the end of the day people could choose for themselves what to reveal and what resonated with them.

      1. Susan*

        Um, what? You are really twisting my words around. I did not say “she’s a liar trying to appear differently to her coworkers.” SHE said that she would have answered differently if she had known her results would be shared, which strongly implies that she answered honestly but would have answered differently (dishonestly, i.e., lying) if she had known the results would be shared.

        I did not say that because she’s active on social media, her personal info can be sent to the entire department. I said I was surprised that she was so upset about revealing her results to the rest of our small department because she overshares her own personal info to anyone in the world on social media.

        1. Bellows*

          Based on your replies, you seem to have already made up your mind. There’s some good feedback here but it really reads like you want validation? Which is okay, but own it.

        2. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

          Susan, if I was the ref, I’d say you just scored an own goal with your post here.

        3. Lady Sybil*

          Oof. I was mostly on your side until I saw this response. Sorry, but this reveals exactly how inappropriate and unreasonable you are being. You are making some really horribly gross, unkind and unfair assumptions about your report. This is not acceptable from you as a manager.

          You are also responding defensively, being unwilling to consider other perspectives, and lashing out at people for having a reasonable interpretation of your post. You seem to be taking this employee’s situation very personally, which is inappropriate and unprofessional. You might want to consider getting some management training as you don’t appear naturally gifted or currently skilled in this role.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          I think Qwerty’s point was that answering differently wouldn’t necessarily be lying. A lot of these quizzes are pretty vague and there is more than one answer you could honestly give. I did a version of this online (which I know might differ greatly from the professional versions) and in at least two cases, I had to pick pretty much at random from a list of words as to which would describe me most and least, because in one case, they were all strong characteristics of mine and I couldn’t tell you which is strongest or in another, they were all the exact opposite of me and I couldn’t say which was most different.

          I also think you are assuming she feels that revealing her results will tell you something accurate about her and that she doesn’t want her colleagues to know this. It is far more likely that she got a result that she feels doesn’t describe her at all. There is a big difference between wanting your colleagues to know information about your personal life and wanting colleagues to judge you by what you consider to be completely inaccurate information.

          It’s possible she got dominent, for example and is concerned that that will mean people will assume she’d want to go into management when that is a role she would absolutely hate and would be completely unsuited to. Or perhaps she didn’t get that and fears that means people will assume she’s not management material when it is something she really aspires to.

          If you assume she thinks this quizzes are really silly and inaccurate, then her reaction makes a lot more sense. She may even have just clicked things pretty much at random, feeling it’s a silly game and meant that if she knew the results would be shared, she would have taken it more seriously.

        5. allathian*

          My guess is that she’s young, professionally inexperienced, and a bit naive and didn’t think things through. It’s not lying if you answer by your work persona rather than your social persona, and in her shoes I’d block you as well as all of my coworkers from all of my social media accounts.

          I absolutely answer those kinds of things differently depending on whether my results will be shared or not. Most of the time I’ve done things like this it’s been for personal use only.

          You seem strangely vindictive towards her, and I hope she comes to her senses soon and gets a job with a more empathetic and less judgmental boss.

    23. Anon For This*

      A similar exercise caused a mutiny where I work. A good number of people refused to participate in the workshop where people were grouped by their types, etc. Said it was akin to creating a new basis for discrimination, etc. As the tests really have no scientific basis, and seeing the results, I think they had a solid point. I don’t know why companies insist on doing this.

      Note: the test we used was Myers-Briggs. And some of the objectors came equipped with studies that showed how flawed the test/types were. And there were a couple of people who had ambiguous results that rode the line down the middle and didn’t really have a type.

      Bottom line – I personally didn’t object but discovered that a lot of people feel strongly about these kinds of things and as a result I am firmly with with your employee on this. They shouldn’t have to do this.

    24. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Aside from whether these tests are accurate, my contention is that they are unnecessary. If you want to team-build around different preferences for being communicated with, just talk about that. I think most people, unless they just started their first office job, already know this about themselves and would be willing to disclose it. In any case, preferences are likely much more nuanced and situational than these tests can indicate.

      But also, these kinds of workshops don’t tend to produce lasting results. People are not going to accurately recall all of their coworkers’ communication styles and preferences, regardless of whether the tests were accurate. Just make it normal for coworkers to be able to express a preference when it comes up in the course of working together, person to person — there’s at least a possibility of the other person remembering that about you and accommodating you.

    25. ItsTheFinalCountdown*

      I wish it wasn’t required to take or share personality test results at work. I previously worked at a company that required Strengths assessments and would publicly compare your results to members of your team at least annually. I was in a customer success role (not sales), but as an introvert, my strengths of “achiever” and “learner” were considered less favorable than “influencer” and other “extrovert” type strengths. I was quietly good at my job, but always felt judged and didn’t see a promotion path due to it. I left a few years later, and love the freedom of not being stuck in a “Strengths” box.

    26. WeGetBetter*

      Let this poor woman opt out of this pseudoscience nonsense that is full of inherent bias and honestly should disappear from the work world.

    27. Random Bystander*

      I don’t think it is unreasonable, but I am going to share my experience at my work place when my department did the MBTI as, I suppose, team-building, because id does sound rather similar (even though there’s 16 MBTI types, rather than 4). This will be long, I apologize–but this is what I wish had been known before the event.

      So we were all to take the test online ahead of the event. I already knew exactly what my result would be (I am an INTJ), but we were told that we would receive our results/report as part of this team meeting/session/class whatever you want to call that. Fine, I was resigned to going to yet another meeting.

      The worst part was that they arranged our seats (theoretically to prevent friends from clumping together although they only knew the name and the type results). They had re-arranged the room so that each of the tables that seated 8 (rectangular) was set at an angle, so that the path to the door was a zig-zag rather than straight lines (straight lines being the norm in this room where we’d had many meetings previously). The organizers (officially trained, whatever that actually means) *knew* the results of the people as they placed our reports (in an envelope with our name on it, not openly visible to others–I’ll consider this something done correctly). Now–remember when I said I am an “I” … I am one of the most extreme introverts (30, the maximum possible score for any letter). These officially trained MBTI presenters chose to place me in a seat which was as close to dead center of the room as possible (remember, all zigzag paths to the door?). Then when everyone was there, they wanted us to stand up one-by-one (Table A seat 1-8, Table B seat 1-8, etc) say our name and something special about the way we did our work (or something to that effect … it has been years). As it grew closer and closer to the time that I was to do that intro, I instead had a panic attack in front of everyone. I had never had a panic attack before, I have never had one since, but in that moment, I broke. My grandboss and supervisor got me out of the room, told me that I could come back in if/when I felt able but I did not have to, and that they were going to tell the presenters that I was not participating in further activities unless I chose to do so.

      *Take away*: Make the meeting/participation in events voluntary. Don’t let them decide where people are going to sit (had I chosen, I would have been close to the door and absented myself from the intro as soon as I knew that was happening). They can sit by the door with a box of the reports and hand them out to people as they come in, even make people wear the “Hello, my name is” sticker if they must–but let people sit where they feel comfortable (I have always chosen a seat by a wall–I would rather sit front row on the end than three rows back but four seats in from the wall).

      I did end up returning, after which I sat near an exit and not at a table. The rest of what I observed were videos purporting to show the differences between each of the opposing letters (E/I, N/S, F/T, J/P). I still maintain that the “extrovert” in the video exhibited rudeness rather than extroversion, but that’s another topic. Then they had four activities, splitting everyone into three groups–strongly expressed (one for each letter) and weakly expressed (weakly expressed for both letters), presenting a situation and “how would you react?” and then let the groups present their responses to the situation. This part was ok and was actually a lot closer to getting at the differences between types (eg the situation for the introvert/extrovert was “You come home from work, and your SO surprises you by saying you’ve been invited to a party that evening. How do you react at first? What do you do after you get there?” Responses to that were pretty much as you would expect–the E’s were all excited and worried only about logistics like childcare and what to wear; the middle group started lukewarm and warmed up by the party itself; my fellow Is were reluctant “I’ll go to make SO happy” and “try to make the best of it” … except for me who was “**** no, I won’t go” and “what is this ‘after I get there’ you speak of? I already told you I’m not going”–but then I was really raw after having had a panic attack earlier.

      I would ask if it is possible to maybe make revealing one’s personal results a matter of choice (when they put up the activities, they put up one paper that we were to write on that had the letter and something like 11-30 E, 1-10E & 1-10I, 11-30I and you were to self select which group). Sure, maybe put dots or something representing individuals (“A/R team has 1 A, 3 B, 0 C, and 8 D”; A/P team has …) but not naming who is in each of the types.

    28. El Muneco*

      My company loves their personality test (which is similar to Myers/Briggs but uses different dimensions). All the scores are visible, all the way up to the CEO. No one takes it particularly seriously except some of the people in HR who are adamant that the (admittedly optional) training courses they offer are the best thing since sliced bread.

      Yes, there are some broad insights to be had, just like with Myers/Briggs. You just can’t treat it like it’s a Rosetta Stone for communicating with others.

    29. JelloStapler*

      If this is the one I’m thinking it is, no personality was seen as “bad” and it was discussed how different ones approach problems and solutions and could collaborate.

  3. DisneyChannelThis*

    TL;DR: Tips to improve meetings as an underling?

    Our meeting standard time is 1.5hrs. Still goes over many times. Meetings don’t have agendas. Meetings don’t take a bathroom/coffee break. Meetings frequently have what I would call long sidebar conversations between 2 people that don’t involve input from anyone else. People raise comments really unrelated to the meeting, and rather than redirect people really dive into it. They’re regular meetings, each scheduled weekly. It’s annoying but it’s also impacting my work, lack of time to do anything. I asked around about how other people are still getting work done, and everyone is just working on other stuff and multitasking the meeting (zoom, camera off). I really struggle at that type of multitasking, I was the weirdo in college in the silent section of the library doing homework, I can’t focus easily when people are talking about something else. I’m junior in rank for these meetings, I outrank a few but there’s like 3 levels above me also in these. I can’t just silence the call because sometimes there is a question for me, or something relevant to me, so I need to have audio on and be listening for my name if nothing else.

    If it was my meeting to host I’d be redirecting, “That’s an interesting idea Georgie to replace all the PCs with Macs but let’s setup a different time to talk about that and focus on finishing finalizing the funding spreadsheet for this specific project.” or “Georgie this sounds like a discussion soley between you and Sue, why don’t you take that to email or meet up after we finish this call? Now about the budget for the quarter…”. I think too they really need a request system, a lot of times coworkers unrelated to the meeting are hopping on to ask (demand) feature changes and raise them for discussion (turns into a long here’s why this is this way, here’s prior changes, here’s what would have to be done to implement this…). “Bob I understand youre having issues, but we’ve got a tight agenda today, can you follow up with an email summarizing your thoughts and I’ll follow up with you offline?”

    Is there anyway to suggest these as the junior employee? I got used to being the higher ranking one in meetings, I’ve forgetten strategies for being junior. Am I just trapped in these meetings? The higher ups here really do have bad social skills, I think that’s part of the issue. Also gosh darn it 80% of the stuff discussed could have been an email… literally #2 asking questions, then everyone pausing as she writes stuff down before asking the next one on her list…

    1. Rosyglasses*

      This is really challenging unless you have built some capital with your manager or the other folks leading meetings. In my early days of being at my company, I’d often just say – hey, could we break for 5 minutes for a bio break? I don’t want to miss anything. Eventually other folks felt more comfortable also asking for that since the ice was broken (there were several of us complaining about it behind the scenes so I knew it wasn’t just me). Then we all started bringing snacks and water, and again at times (in person) if the meeting was hitting hour 3, we would say – hey boss, let’s take 10 so we can stretch legs and grab a snack?

      He never clocked how long the meeting was getting because he was one of those that could talk and stand for hours with naught but half an energy bar and coffee, but was really open to us pushing back.

      The agenda thing is hard – I ended up taking “over” the agendas and working my way into facilitating most meetings where we had owners that tended to ramble and talk for hours and we had a good enough repor and I had enough capital and trust for me to push back and get us on track.

      Hopefully others chime in with some good advice – it’s been awhile since I rose through the ranks to leadership myself, and even so I still need to manage the owners when they’re in charge of talking but I recognize that it’s a much different dynamic now.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Yeah I am a little leery about offering to do agendas, I don’t want to get stuck notetaking. (hashtag woman scientist problems). I like the idea of starting to announce needing bathroom break, I’ll give that a try.

        1. cabbagepants*

          If you’re a woman scientist then statically you’re probably in a male-dominated workplace. Definitely do not let yourself get sucked into non- promotable work like being the agenda-keeper. It’s a thankless time suck!

    2. Zombeyonce*

      Is your direct manager one of the people with terrible meeting etiquette here? If not, I recommend going to them and explaining that these meetings going over time means you’re having trouble keeping up with your work and see if they’re willing to say something.

      You could also ask the host if there’s an agenda for the meeting as it would very much help you stay on track as a junior employee and be prepared. (This is where being lower level might come in handy as they may be open to helping people at your level in ways they might not for higher level people that are expected to just handle themselves and their work.)

      But it’s incredibly difficult (if not downright impossible) to change the culture of a workplace from the bottom up, so don’t feel bad if none of this works.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Unfortunately yes. Direct manager thinks in person meetings are more efficient than zoom meetings even, pushing back on that already…

    3. cabbagepants*

      I’ll be honest: this sort of thing is likely to be out of your control. The most you can do, other than closing your eyes and thinking of England, is share this feedback if your company ever solicits it.

      I find that often, airtime is used as a proxy for status and so the people who waste time in meetings take umbrage at attempts to reel them in.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        There’s definitely truth to that airtime == status going on…. like sir you have made it 23 years at this company, theres no way you dont know that your remarks are irrelevant here….

    4. Jenna Webster*

      I have to admit that my solution for this was just remembering that I was getting paid to sit there for no reason, and would mostly tune out until things got back on track. Now, I do tend to work on my email since most meetings are over Zoom, but I know that just doesn’t work for a lot of people, which makes sense as someone talking about unrelated issues while you try to work is incredibly distracting. I had a work friend who loved interjecting into those conversations that were between two people who should have been having them offline. Hearing comments from people who didn’t really know the situation actually make them stop the conversation twice and decide to discuss later, but you have to be the kind of person who’s ready to jump into a conversation without knowing anything about it. It takes a special someone.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        My problem is I’m spending 6/8 hours a day in these meetings. I can’t get my work done as expected. I asked around and everyone else is able to get work done by multitasking these meetings. Maybe I’ll just start silencing the calls and hope no one says my name….

        1. JustMyImagination*

          when you hear your name but miss the question “oh, I’m so sorry you broke up a little there, could you repeat that?”

          1. El Muneco*

            “I was multitasking and didn’t catch that, can you please repeat?” is endemic in our company since we went to 100% WFH. This doesn’t mean that attendees are doing anything wrong, but rather that the meeting is overly broad, the agenda was not clear, or people were invited who really don’t need to be there.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          In my office it’s totally acceptable to drop in the chat something like “I don’t think I’m needed for this part of the meeting so I’m going to drop off, ping me if something comes up where you need my input.”

          My office has a more efficient meeting culture, though, and pretty much everyone assumes you have lots of other pressing things to do aside from being in the meeting, so it might not fly in your office. Maybe if you specified that you were going to drop off because you had to wrap up Y task?

        3. Other Alice*

          Do you have a coworker you’re friendly with? Can you silence the meeting and have the coworker ping you if someone says your name? I think, if you’re junior enough, you’re less likely to get called upon

        4. Prospect gone bad*

          This is a huge problem. Discuss with your boss immediately, even if they’re one of the offenders! Despite what you read online, most managers are gonna hear what you’re saying and make changes

          1. Pine Tree*

            Agree. You don’t have to call them out on their inability to run an efficient meeting, but you should definitely at least flag for them that the length of the meetings is cutting into time you need to get stuff done.

          2. House On The Rock*

            Yes, this is something to bring to your manager as a reason you are not able to meet work expectations.

            Don’t phrase it as a question, or even as a point of discussion, but along the lines of “since I’m spending almost my entire workday in meetings, and am unable to be attentive to them as well as complete assigned tasks, what should my priority be and how can we restructure priorities and deliverable timelines to account for that?”. Approach it as a foregone conclusion that you can’t sit in endless meetings and complete work and put it back on the manager to tell you which is more important. I agree with Prospect gone bad that most managers would be upset by this and want to support their staff…and may even be looking for examples to bring to their leadership to show that these meetings are truly bananapants (because they are).

    5. MigraineMonth*

      My first team meeting under my former manager ran 45 minutes over, which was impressive since it was only scheduled for half an hour, so I feel your pain.

      I would schedule a conference call right after our team meetings (preferably with clients) and say something near the beginning about having to leave right at 11am. It didn’t make the team meetings any more productive, but it did protect my time. Also, given how meandering and chatty the team meetings were, I knew I wasn’t missing anything important by leaving.

    6. Samwise*

      Go to the bathroom and get up to get your snack, stretch etc. Don’t wait for formal breaks.

      I used to wait and wait and wait….

      Then I was in a program for *developing women into leaders* where a good dozen of us were pregnant and they wouldn’t add official breaks when we asked. I made a pointed complaint to the head of the program, yes in writing, and after that just got up and did my business when I needed to. Got a side-eye the first time I did it, announced in a very loud and cheery voice “the baby is kicking my bladder, I’ve got to go!” Haha.

    7. Wordybird*

      Ugh. I feel your pain. I had a former coworker who would derail every meeting with, “[Supervisor], I just have a quick question (or two)…” and then ask something completely unrelated to the meeting’s purpose and not relevant to anyone else in the meeting. However, I knew it was a lost cause when this same supervisor would spend many of our departmental meetings discussing their pets’ health or using us as a sounding board for the drama going on in their family’s personal lives.

    8. Workerbee*

      Having been subjected to far too many mostly/utterly useless meetings and meetings that consistently run over (so often these are the same), while at various levels of employee-ship and social capital, I’ve used tactics like these:

      -Took that first crucial step to just taking the break I needed. This started out pre-Zoom era, and in person it wasn’t easy, getting up with the express intent of going to the bathroom and feeling eyes on me while leaving, and then eyes on me when returning, but it got progressively easier.

      Online, you can just type a “be right back” message into the meeting chat and then “back” when you return.

      -If the meeting runs over, type in “I have a hard stop,” soften it with something like “talk with you all again!” if you want, and then leave the meeting.

      -Ask for an agenda each time. If there is even a slim chance that you and your contributions aren’t strictly necessary, say you have to get work done on X or Y so won’t be attending, but add that they can email you if a question comes up that you can answer. (It isn’t easy to just do this either, but it gets easier.)

      -A harder thing to do is just decline the meeting series entirely. You have to pick your battles with this one.

      I’ve done this with colleagues who were technically above me in rank, and just said that I didn’t feel this meeting aligned with what I was doing (or something like that).

      I’ve also done this through looping my boss in separately, laying out reasons that span from how X meeting is consistently derailed, how it could be better served as an email, how it impacts This Giant List of Work I would otherwise be doing, how it doesn’t apply to my work at all…

      -If you can do something like this without terrible repercussions, don’t do work/don’t do as much work while the meeting is going on. (I realize in your case this means more, don’t stress about getting work done.) I think of it this way: They want to waste your time, that’s on them. The people doing the time-wasting with their derailing sidebars aren’t getting their work done at the same time either, and that seems to be okay, so…

      -Or if you can get used to it at all, doing even a small slice of something work-related, if not actual hard-hittin’ work, may help make you feel better? Check an email, organize documents in a folder.

      Safety first! If you feel doing an approach would negatively impact you, don’t do it.

      1. Cranky scientist*

        Yes, you have to be careful about declining meetings altogether, because inclusion (being in the room) is status too for meetings in which decisions are made. However, combined use of the above strategies can claw back some time.

    9. Maybesocks*

      In addition to all the advice given… if you can’t work at the same time, knit. That’s a huge advantage to virtual meetings. It has gotten me through many frustrating meetings.

  4. Eng Girl*

    I just recently started a new job and to my surprise in my first day they lead me not to my desk, not even to my cube, but to my honest to god office!

    I have so much space that I wasn’t expecting! At my old job basically everyone but c-suite types was in large open offices. Some managers had kind of half cubes, but for the most part we were just scattered in with people. We had almost no space so our desks had basically zero personalization.

    Here most people have offices and everyone’s space is professional, but definitely personalized.

    Where do people shop for office decor? What’s the best thing you’ve purchased for your desk/office? I will say now that plants are not an option for me. I have managed to kill multiple succulents.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Fake plants from ikea have greatly improved my office. People keep thinking they are real which amuses me.

      Other stuff: Wall calendar. Bulletin board with pushpins or a white board with magnets. Footrest, other ergonomic stuff. Heated USB mug rest.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        Heated USB mug rest

        I just got one of these a month ago and it’s changed my life! Coffee that stays hot for an hour or two is a small joy that helps me get through the day.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My first post-college job was in a full office too. It was luxury.

      My advice is to keep it simple.

      It’s ok to hang diplomas or some art on the wall. I’m a function-over-form person, and I don’t like tchotchke kinds of clutter, so I just use the regular company-supplied desk accessors; no array of commemorative coffee cups, stickers, magnets, bobblehead dolls, etc.

      If you have to move offices (which I did every 9 months at that job as projects & contracts shifted), you don’t want to spend half the day cramming your stuff into boxes and worrying about your collectible whatevers getting lost or broken.

    3. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Congrats! I love having an office that looks little like ‘me’.

      I have a 3’x4′ canvas print (an antique map in black and white) from a discount home store that looks great behind my desk and is my background on video meetings. Ikea has attractive prints too that aren’t too busy. It made the space look decorated quickly and easily.

      I also have a bookshelf which is honestly so useful, not just for books but for the random other things that collect over time – I got baskets and boxes for the smaller items like tea so it doesn’t look like a mess. Any home or dollar store would have those.

      Depending on the lighting and if you have a window, you may want a lamp of some kind for a less institutional shade of light than fluorescents.

      A small table and visitor chairs are great too, but I got mine just from what was available among the offices.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      Take it slow. Look around and see what other people have in their offices, as you don’t want to go on a huge decorating tear if most people just have a couple of photos and a plant in their offices.

      I’d start by bringing in a couple of things (a neutral picture to hang on the wall and a plant) and then see what you need over time. If you find yourself constantly looking for something that you don’t have or needing a better way to organize, go out and buy what will help. You don’t want to go buy a ton of stuff that you don’t end up using.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Organizational: big whiteboard where I can put lists and stick post-its, I’m terrible for out of sight out of mind. Charger cables for my phone, tablet, and headset.

      Personal: I like silly pens and little figurines I can futz with. I WFH but the three pens on my desk are shaped like Stitch, Chewbacca, and a femur (I’m in medical coding), and I have a small plushy wampa (from Empire Strikes Back, tried to eat Luke) as well. Also a small first-aid stash for personal use – bandaids, Tums, ibuprofen is generally enough for me. Maybe some lemon drops or throat lozenges during cold season.

      1. Eng Girl*

        It came with the whiteboard! And a giant bulletin board! And also most of the furniture! There’s a couple of tables and some shelving. There are a couple of things that I’ve been told are moving, but they’re not things I need or want in the space, so I’m fine with that.

      2. Lady Danbury*

        Office first aid/beauty emergency bag is so clutch! Depending on your lifestyle/routines, it might include a few makeup items, hand lotion, a hairbrush, etc. I don’t normally wear makeup at work unless it’s a big meeting, so I like to keep basics like tinted moisturizer and a lipstick at my desk for unscheduled events or after work plans.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Honestly and for real, I have outfitted my office with thrift shop finds. A few $5 paintings have gone a long way towards making the space mine. (And natch, I have my diplomas on the wall because that’s de rigeur for lawyers in my jurisdiction.) I also found a pair of matched teacups to keep to myself, because I prefer not to use the mugs in the office kitchen, and some organizer boxes and cubes to try to keep my space tidy.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Seconding thrift store art. I’ve found several nice pieces of landscape art that I hang in my home office.

    7. Llellayena*

      I have a Lego Venice, an image of a frustrated Snoopy (that I made in college), and a hot water heater for tea. I would also kill plants so no greenery for me…

    8. A Simple Narwhal*

      Seconding the suggestion for fake plants! They have some really realistic options out there, and I find a touch of green really spruces a room up – with no worries about keeping them alive!

      I also recommend at least one additional light source, like a floor lamp. Overhead lighting can be so harsh and draining, so a softer lower light can really improve a room’s feel.

      If there’s space for it/allowed, I’d recommend a piece of wall art too to bring some color into the room. You could use command strips/hooks to attach it to the wall so you don’t have to worry about damaging the wall.

      If you want to keep costs down, browse your local yard sale or buy nothing fb groups, lamps and wall art always seem to be available!

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

      See if your employer has a stash of surplus furniture you might use to add a small side chair and table, or credenza if there aren’t already pieces in your office and there is room. A throw blanket or colorful pillow on the chair can really warm up the place. For artwork, I got a large nature-themed wall calendar that had big glossy photos of mountains and trees etc., cut it apart and framed my favorites with a bunch of inexpensive matching black frames. It fills a wall space without much money.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Definitely ask about furniture already available and about how they want you to acquire more. some offices are surprisingly strict on look & feel—they’d rather pay $xxx for FancyBrand(TM) than $xx for you to bring in something you picked out.

        When we had actual walls in our old windowless cubes, several of us had removable wall-clingie posters windows with views. (Hawaii, the forest, Paris, etc.)

        If you still have too much space after desk + storage + visitors chairs, that’s the time to consider a yoga ball. Fill space in a fun way that can be used briefly by visitors, or by you on a long audio-only call.

    10. Guacamole Bob*

      My organization recently moved offices, and we aren’t supposed to bring in live plants or personal appliances (an overloaded power strip did cause a fire in the old place, so I get it, even if I’d love my own coffee maker). Anything on the wall must be hung up with command strips or similar non-damaging methods. I’ve also worked in other offices where hanging stuff on the wall yourself wasn’t allowed – you had to put in a facilities request.

      So my advice is to check on whether there’s official guidance about what you can bring in before you go beyond some desk tchotchkes.

    11. This Old House*

      My office decor is mostly plants. Maybe too many plants! My office would be so bare without them. Following for ideas, because there is a limit to how many plants are reasonable (a limit which may be in my rearview mirror) and my office has a lot of shelf space that’s still empty. The only other things I have are a couple of mugs and a picture frame. (I also have a spot with a bunch of my kids’ artwork/old photos of them printed on paper taped to the wall – but I wouldn’t have done that when I was new. It just kind of grew as daycare handed me projects/pictures and I needed somewhere to put them, but I would have worried it didn’t look professional when I was newer. I’m sure it doesn’t look “professional,” per se, but it’s also not something I think will hold me back at this stage.)

    12. baby twack*

      My office is where not-my-style home decor gifts go to die. Thanks, MIL!

      (But also, plants and a giant white board!)

    13. RedinSC*

      For my office I enlarged and printed some of my favorite vacation photos and framed them for the walls. I currently have Yosemite, some sea anemones and Portugal on my walls. People really like that.

      I also shopped at Ross and got a little end table and a foot stool bench thing that I keep my blanket (my office would get cold) and holiday decorations in.

      If you have a place for it, a little hot water kettle and tea pot is a nice touch that people seem to like in my office.

    14. Lady Danbury*

      I like to hang artwork in mine. I’m a fan of purchasing local art/prints when I travel, so I’ve hung a few pieces in past offices. It showcases my personality/interests in a work appropriate way. There are also a variety of online sources to purchase a wide variety of artwork, starting at very low prices for prints. Homegoods type places can also be a good source for various knickknacks, if that’s what you’re into. In general, I tend to think of work appropriate office decor as stuff that’s not overly personal (ie revealing anything that I wouldn’t want every single person who enters my office to know).

    15. Aphrodite*

      I bought a small refrigerator, not the tiny ones but more of a larger small one. It has no freezer so there is no defrosting. I also have a tiny microwave I found at my favorite thrift store for $10. A couple of fans for hot weather, the air filter I was given by the college for Covid days (and that I still use), two table lamps with incandescent bulbs (one on the oversized desk, one on the small table), two oversized pictures and some smaller ones I adore (and that will go home with me when I retire), and books and a couple of decorative items in the large built-in bookshelf. I refuse to raid my home so I continue to look for decorative items that I love and not just “things” (read: clutter) to fill space.

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      My first instinct is “don’t put in anything you don’t want to answer questions about.” Not necessarily personal, but if you don’t feel like explaining the snapshot on your desk is of your softball team or your child drew that picture of a dinosaur over and over again, keep those home or at least not immediately visible.

    17. KR*

      I love Marshalls for office doodads and decor. Target has some nice stuff but I find their actual office decor section is completely picked over at my local store. Amazon has a lot of the niche and fun stuff, like a mousepad in a specific pattern or a stapler shaped like a snail or whatever.

    18. juneybug*

      What a cool surprise!!

      Here is what I suggest –
      – Art.
      – Mini desk fan.
      – Drink coasters (one for tea/coffee, one for water).
      – Mug and water bottle (both are dedicated for the office).
      – File folder holder (if you deal with papers and need them handy).
      – File folders (if they are out on the desk, get matching set).
      – Picture frames of pets and family members.
      – Phone charger (dedicated for the office).
      – Framed diploma (hey, I worked hard for my degree!).

      My suggestion is pick one or two colors that makes you happy. Look for decor that would work in your color scheme from retail, yard sales, or thrift stores.

      I tried to find items that were elegant, not cutesy (no animals or cartoons). I think having everything matching helps from it looking too cluttered.

      Enjoy your work space!

    19. Dark Macadamia*

      Etsy! There are tons of artists with digital downloads that you can print at whatever size you want and put in a cheap frame.

  5. ThatGirl*

    This week, I witnessed a coworker remove a ziploc bag full of raw ground meat (beef? turkey?) from the break room fridge, squeeze about half of it into a bowl, and put the bowl in the communal microwave.

    I realize that in the grand scheme of gross work lunchroom things, it could be much worse, but I was still rendered temporarily speechless. Microwaving ground meat seems like a recipe for salmonella, and also a total lack of flavor.

    1. rayray*

      Microwaving raw ground beef isn’t my preferred method either but it actually does work.

      Personally, I’d just prepare the meat at home and then heat it up. I agree it’s kinda gross/weird to do in the work microwave, but you actually can safely brown ground beef in the microwave.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Definitely weird, but yeah, that’s how my middle school home ec class taught us to do it — we had stoves, I don’t know why they had us use microwaves instead.

        1. L. Bennett*

          I could see the benefit in teaching microwave cooking skills to middle schoolers. I mean, in college that’s probably all you’re going to have in your dorm, and if you’re a latch-key kid the microwave is probably going to be the most easily accessible appliance in the home.

          Obviously, cooking on the stove will be better tasting but I could see the benefit, since it’s also a more dangerous.

    2. Generic Name*

      How is it a recipe for salmonella? Microwaves do actually cook food, even if it might come out rubbery and gross.

      1. Prospect gone bad*

        Probably the loose handling of raw meat in the back and not disinfecting surface and the counter, microwave handle, garbage can lid, etc

        I’m not anxious in general but many people make me cringe with how they handle eggs and raw meat. I once had food poisoning that lasted weeks and it was a much bigger deal than people online make it sound, I think people forget that many people who call in sick with “must’ve eaten something bad” don’t actually have real food poisoning but just run of the mill upset stomach

        I’ve seen people who just never thought like this touch multiple surfaces after touching the raw meat or eggs or “wash” their hands with barely any soap for two seconds and speak as if they are clean freaks

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Why would microwaving ground meat be more likely to leave active salmonella. I agree about the lack of flavor, but I’m not seeing a health hazard. Or, for that matter, why this is especially gross. I would put a lid loosely over it to prevent spattering, but lots of things spatter.

      1. londonedit*

        With the caveat that I have never attempted to cook any sort of meat in a microwave, and that I don’t actually eat meat – I’m not sure why, but I’d also worry about cooking meat in a microwave. Maybe because microwaves can leave food hotter in some places than others? I’m imagining ending up with meat that looks cooked through, but there are some bits that are still raw/haven’t been cooked quite enough. Less of an issue with things like beef because you’re safer eating undercooked beef than, say, undercooked chicken, but I can see where the worry about not killing bacteria in the meat might come from.

        1. Gracely*

          With ground beef it’s usually pretty easy to see what’s cooked and what isn’t–uncooked will still be pink, cooked will be brown.

          Now, if the person has kept it in the fridge for a few days and it’s gone kinda grey (which is still fine for cooking, if unappetizing-looking), it’s a little harder to tell on sight, but the texture between cooked and uncooked is still noticeable.

        2. Ann Onymous*

          I’ve browned ground beef in the microwave many times (although never at work). Depending on what I’m using the ground beef for, that’s sometimes easier than doing it on the stove. I’d worry about something solid like a steak or a piece of chicken still having raw spots, but with ground beef I pause periodically during cooking to break it up and stir it, so I can confirm there’s no raw spots left. If you’re really concerned, you can always use a meat thermometer to check temperature. As long as the meat has reached a high enough temperature, the bacteria is dead – the method of reaching that temperature doesn’t matter.

          And to the original question – I think cooking ground beef at work is a bit unusual, but I don’t think it leaves any hazard behind for the next user of the microwave as long as the ground beef is on a plate or bowl and not sitting directly in the microwave or on something like a paper towel.

      2. Jezebella*

        Because handling raw meat in the kitchen leads to raw meat juice on the counter, kitchen faucet, etc. if the handler isn’t careful and doesn’t clean up appropriately.

        Also it’s just gross for the veg(etari)ans in the office. Yuck.

    4. cabbagepants*

      I’m more worried about the bag leaking raw meat juice everywhere. At least the microwave cooks things, but the juice in the fridge could get onto food that people weren’t going to cook additionally before eating.

      1. Aitch Arr*


        I thought the comment was going to be about the raw meat in the communal work fridge!

        1. ThatGirl*

          The ziploc bag was inside another grocery-style bag, so while I did side-eye that part too, it was really the squishing it into a bowel and microwaving that surprised me.

          1. Observer*

            But why?

            The way you describe it means that there wouldn’t have been any raw meat on the counter, etc. So what’s the problem here?

            1. ThatGirl*

              It was just weird to me, it’s not that deep. I think work microwaves should be for reheating, not cooking.

              1. Madame Arcati*

                Why? If someone has poor food hygiene then ok but that’s not a given. If they keep things clean and don’t produce strong smells, why should it bother you?

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Lol god forbid I have thoughts about something. It was an anecdote, I didn’t malign him, I just thought it was weird, the end.

      2. new year, new name*

        Yeah, totally. Microwaves are effective at cooking stuff to safe temperatures, but the storing and transferring of the raw ground meat in a communal workspace definitely raises some concerns for me!

    5. Chirpy*

      I’d be more worried about cross-contamination from the meat juices dripping all over the counter/ sink/ fridge.

    6. Maggie*

      Well it’s really weird, but if they’re microwaving it to a safe temp, and not dripping any anywhere then the risk of food borne illness is minimal

    7. New Mom*

      That would definitely gross me out! We used to have a C-Suite member who would microwave fish and everyone would silently seethe (with plugged noses) when she did this.

    8. JimmyJab*

      someone at my office (pre-pandemic) just threw three uncooked sausages in the toaster oven, right on the rack, no foil or pan or anything, then left. It caught fire. It was wild.

    9. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Yuck. At least cook it at home first and then re-heat it. I can think of few things less appetizing than unseasoned microwaved ground meat.

      1. Observer*

        So? That doesn’t make it unsafe.

        Also, you don’t know that it’s unseasoned. It could just as easily have seasoning mixed in – you would not be able to see a LOT of seasonings.

    10. NB*

      I had a coworker who did this but with raw chicken legs. And sometimes they’d go bad in the fridge cause he’d bring a family pack of them for a week.

      1. ThatGirl*

        that MIGHT be worse because it’s bone-in and you can’t stir it so you’d get hot spots and uncooked spots? BLEH.

  6. Stupid or Troublemaker?*

    Have you ever worked with someone who is either incredibly stupid, or a troublemaker, and you genuinely cannot tell which it is?

    “Megan” is on my last nerve. During a Teams meeting, she overheard a woman telling us about her daughter graduating from veterinary school, and how she had purchased a ” #1 Vet” mug as a little gift. Megan swoops in to lecture her that this is stolen valor, and she should return it. Everyone on the call is just…dumbfounded.

    There have been numerous other incidents where she misunderstandings something and jumps to be offended on someone else’s behalf. This chick is just the worst, constantly stirring the pot over nonsense and making everyone miserable. I try to just avoid her, but it’s not always possible.

    1. Lilo*

      That’s just so weird too because in general actual veteran families wouldn’t think “#1 Vet” means “veteran” because of the whole camaraderie aspect of the military it would be considered a bit of a faux pas. (I was raised on Navy bases, my Dad’s a retired officer)

      I’d steer clear of her. She’ll jump on anyone.

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        Actual veteran here wanting to ask Megan what the pan fried heck and fudge her problem is. Yikes on the whole Tour de France.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yeah, I vote for both.

        The thing about people like this is that they always claim ignorance if you call them out on their behavior. I call it “implausible deniability.”

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Everyone should practice The Look: like looking down at your shoe when you have stepped in something. Give her The Look without saying anything, then move on.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      At a certain point it doesn’t matter if she’s doing it on accident or on purpose, because the result is that she is coming across as rude and aggressive and berating her coworkers for things that really aren’t her business. I’d guess you’re not her manager, so I’d probably steer clear of her as much as possible, and then whenever she is a jerk to you at work follow the Allison suggested escalation protocols of first the “Wow”, then going to your manager if the “wow” doesn’t cut it.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      I’m probably just petty, but I would do what she’s not doing and assume good intent, which basically means assuming she’s just dumb. Then you can happily explain why she’s wrong, just presented as a learning opportunity for her.

      1. RunShaker*

        let her rant and as soon as she is done, don’t even acknowledge, just start talking about another topic as if she didn’t say anything. After she’s finished going off on stolen valor, I would say to other person “so has your daughter found a position yet with vet clinic? or will she be working with exotic pets? ” Or whatever question or thought I would have expressed if Megan hadn’t opened her mouth.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          I like this passive/aggressive approach rather than correcting her or cheerfully helping out. :)

      2. MigraineMonth*

        This is my go-to as well. Cheerful, helpful, assume that it’s all a misunderstanding.

        “Megan, did you know that ‘vet’ can be used for both ‘veteran’ and ‘veterinarian’? I sometimes get mixed up myself when I don’t have context, but I think most people will understand that a mug owned by a veterinarian is probably using the second meaning.”

        If she affirms that she does understand that and she is still offended, there’s always the “Wow” or long, awkward silence.

        1. Beth*

          I’d be tempted to make her elaborate and then correct her.

          “I’m sorry Megan, can you explain what you mean?” Let her go on a long rant about military…
          “You know we are talking about her daughter being a VETERINARIAN, right?!”
          Cue awkward silence or random defensiveness.
          “Maybe next time you should make sure you know what we’re talking about before jumping down someone’s throat.” And quickly move on to next subject before she can say another word.

        2. Random Bystander*

          So true–in fact, I was absolutely confused as to how stolen valor could even come into it, because the veterinarian meaning seemed so obvious.

    5. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Attention-seeker, who acts before she speaks, which both gets her in to trouble and shows off her stupidity.

    6. Nebula*

      Does it matter which one she is? Surely the real question is how you can tolerate her better if simply avoiding her isn’t working for you. Could you talk to her about this? Talk to some of your coworkers and establish a strategy that works for all of you when dealing with her? How much does her work actually affect yours? Are you reliant on her for anything, or do you just sometimes come across her in meetings where she says something silly and you can turn your camera off for a second and roll your eyes? If she starts lecturing people in meetings, can’t anyone stop her and get the meeting back on track? Can you just let her say her piece and then move on and not acknowledge it? If no one takes the bait, maybe she’ll wind down a bit.

      It sounds like you’re getting really heated about this and you need to find a way to either address it or (more likely) more effectively let it go. Being continually exposed to someone annoying is obviously incredibly grating and difficult, but you can only control your own behaviour, not hers. Sitting there stewing over whether she is “incredibly stupid or a troublemaker” doesn’t do anything for you, and doesn’t affect the situation positively. Either find a way to stop focusing on it, or try to work out some kind of proactive way of dealing with this.

    7. GreenShoes*

      Honestly, I’d probably just find “Megan” amusing – granted I am sure that there are many more examples that you could give and it may not be as funny out of isolation. But your example is something that I’d just laugh at.

      She sounds like the type who is easily pegged as a shit-stirrer and overreactor who nobody really takes seriously. I tend to give them ‘all the consideration they deserve’ when on a rant.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, I’d tread more carefully about something like pointing out a (misunderstood) racial microaggression, but I’d have trouble not laughing about veterinarians’ mugs stealing valor.

      2. Not my real name*

        I find Bingo cards to be useful in channeling my inner Elvis Costello (“I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused”)

    8. Rick Tq*

      I’d seriously consider muting her microphone as soon as you realized she chose to interpret “vet” as veteran instead of veterinarian, or any other time she flies off on a tangent and disrupts the meeting.

      I’d also talk to her manager about removing her from the meetings if she adds no value most of the time.

    9. eisa*

      If she is willing to appear incredibly stupid at work just for the sake of making trouble, that in itself is .. incredibly stupid. So one question answered, I guess.

      Why is it making everybody miserable, though ? I would have expected sniggering and eye-rolling and “oh, ole Megan is at it again.”

      Have y’all tried to to her that veterinary doctor != military veteran, or whatever applies, each time she misunderstands or “misunderstands” something ?
      as in : don’t suffer in silence, annoy her right back !

    10. Managercanuck*

      “Megan swoops in to lecture her that this is stolen valor, and she should return it.”

      Ok, coming from a military family, this almost make me snort my latte out of my nose!

    11. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      She could easily be both stupid and a troublemaker. I’ve met quite a few people with Machiavellian aspirations who lacked the brainpower to pull it off. In any case, your strategy of avoiding her is a good one. She’ll dig herself too big a hole eventually, and won’t be your problem anymore.

    12. Kittyfish76*

      Unfortunately several at my are like this. Too long to elaborate. My sympathy that you are stuck with this.

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      This is hilarious. I feel like I missed an opportunity to give my sister a military/patriotic themed gift when she finished her vet(erinary) tech program!

    14. Gyne*

      I probably would be unable to stop myself from chuckling a little and simply saying, “Whaaaaat?”

    15. Madame Arcati*

      I hope to goodness Megan never visits Britain or frankly interacts with speakers of British English; when we say vet we always mean animal doctors. She’d have trouble coping. We rarely say veterinarian; if I saw that mug I’d assume they worked healing our four legged (etc) friends. But tbf we don’t use veteran in full that much, more likely “ex-army” or similar.

      Anyway by way of actually contributing, I’d politely call her out; if someone is being ridiculous and rude they should be told. “Megan, stop having a go at me/Winifred. Having a joke mug is not equivalent to wearing someone else’s medals and insisting that it is, is ridiculous. You’re actually being quite rude, so let’s stop this nonsense and move on. Tangerina, I think you have an agenda item for us on the correct way to pet otters’ tummies…”

  7. Should I just quit*

    This is probably a long shot, but I’m looking for suggestions. Any success or tips on negotiating an exit package?

    I work in tech, mid-level IC, and I am mentally done with my job and want to quit. We just had a 2nd round of lay-offs (with a generous severance package) and I was really hoping that I would be laid-off but I wasn’t. They didn’t allow people to volunteer to be laid-off otherwise I would have. The company has stated that there might be some additional cuts in the future, but nothing definite. Obviously I can just put in my notice and quit my job but I’m curious if anyone in a similar situation has tried negotiating an exit package and how they did it.

      1. Rosyglasses*

        There are alot of reasons – but primarily if a company is laying people off, often they will incentivize volunteers (so they don’t have to just chop folks) with an exit package. It’s cheaper for them to pay out a few thousand dollars as a package then retain the employee with the salary, benefits, and other monetary payouts that come with having an employee.

        1. londonedit*

          That’s voluntary redundancy, though – if it’s offered, then the OP can absolutely put their hand up and volunteer, but otherwise if they just quit then I don’t think they can expect to be able to negotiate any sort of package for quitting, even if there are also redundancies happening at the same time. Redundancy packages are supposed to make up for the fact that the company is making you redundant and you weren’t planning on losing your job – if you quit then it’s your choice and your own decision.

      2. Eng Girl*

        Some companies will incentivize quitting if they’re doing layoffs. Basically they’re looking for people who are considering moving on/early retirement so they can get them out and keep other people employed.

        If you’ve got a team of 4 and you need to cut 25% of that workforce it’s preferable to find out that Jim wants to jump ship anyway and work out a severance package with him than to let Susan go and then have Jim put in notice because you’re then down 50% of your team and that’s a problem because if you’re doing layoffs you’re probably also in a hiring freeze. Now Martin decides to leave because his workload has doubled and there’s no sign of relief.

        Also sometimes it’s to incentivize those with higher salaries to leave. You can keep two recent grads for the price of someone who’s been there 20 years.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Especially if it’s particularly difficult to lay someone off. My dad was a tenured professor, so the college basically offered to pay him for an entire year of not teaching if he agreed to retire.

      3. BadCultureFit*

        I just got paid to quit! :)

        I quit my senior-level job in January, but I’m senior enough (and no one else does the work I do — small org) AND I am the third person in three years to quit this job due to the boss, that they asked me to stay on for an extra two months. I said “Only if you pay me!” So they gave me a retention bonus.

        I had to sign a non-disparagement as bad of the bonus. So we all win.

    1. Generic Name*

      Some companies will offer severance packages for people who volunteer to be laid off or take early retirement. Maybe wait to see if that is offered. Otherwise, the benefit you get from quitting on your own is you control when you leave (and you presumably have another job lined up).

    2. Aitch Arr*

      “Voluntary layoff” or “Early Retirement” programs have to be well-thought out and not create disparate impact. They can be quite difficult to implement.

      Don’t bet on it happening.
      If you want to leave, resign.
      Hopefully your company is either in a state that mandates paying out unused, accrued vacation or has a policy that they do so.

    3. New Mom*

      We just had a few rounds of layoffs and I was also hoping I’d be picked, but I wasn’t. I think we would get two months pay which would have been nice.

    4. A.P.*

      Have an informal talk with your boss. Even if the company isn’t formally allowing volunteers, he may be willing to put up your name on the layoff list.

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

      I’ve only seen exit packages for high level positions like EDs and VPs and part of the deal is usually something that’s in it for the company — a quiet exit that won’t cause a PR, marketing or shareholder panic, or to cover extra time before they get a new job creating a buffer on a secret project development.

      If you can think of a benefit to the company, you might be able to sell it to them — i.e. you will be available as a consultant for X amount of time, or you agree to complete Y project — but without something in the deal for them, they are very unlikely to just give you an exit package. They didn’t cut you the last round of lay-offs so they must need your position/work.

  8. rayray*

    I just need to vent.
    I’ve been in an okay-job for a while, but it’s time to move on. I need to earn more money, and I’ve basically hit a ceiling here in my current job. It’s a job I fell into as a means to get by after my layoff in 2020, I did get a sort of sideways move, and it is a better role and more money but it still isn’t satisfying and I feel like I have more potential elsewhere, in a role where I could better use my skills, expertise, and knowledge. I’ve survived three rounds of mass layoffs here but have been trying to get out since before the first one almost a year ago.

    I have tried, and tried, and tried, and tried, and tried, and tried, and tried , AND TRIED to find something else. I admit to being slightly picky, I have made the mistake before of taking a new job that ended up being worse than the last one so if it’s a business I can’t find any information on or if there are consistent bad reviews on glassdoor/indeed, I stay away. I also need to make a living wage, and many jobs in my state still pay wages as if it’s 2012. (Literally had a recruiter reach out about a job paying $17/hour….In-n-Out burger pays high schoolers more than that!)
    I keep getting rejected. I am not applying for anything I am wildly unqualified for, but I am trying to make an industry shift. I truly believe my skills are applicable to the things I am applying for. I have a good resume. I even write cover letters when asked for it. I keep getting passed over at the initial application stage. I’ve had a few interviews, but it’s been a while. I know I can get nervous and be a little awkward in interviews, but I try my best. I had one not too long ago, but I felt like the interviewer was unprepared and uninterested which made it extra difficult, I wasn’t too disappointed to be passed over though.

    Just last week, I saw a job posted at a company that a friend works at and it looked like a good match. She even let me know it was on a team she recently moved to. When I applied, it said it had been posted that day. I got an email to schedule a time with a recruiter, so I did that call on Tuesday. She talked to me for only 5 minutes and didn’t even ask me any real questions about my skills or anything, she really rushed through and said they were already conducting interviews, but she’d see if they were open to more and to text her the next day if I hadn’t heard back. I did so and got told they weren’t interviewing anymore. I don’t know what happened here, but I am miffed. The job also got reposted yesterday. I know I don’t have all the facts, and anything could have happened, but it still makes me feel bad and wondering what I did wrong.

    I am just so fed up. I can’t even get a chance to get ahead in my career, I have tried so hard to find a job I’d like and would do well at but keep getting stuck in mediocrity. Absolutely no one can tell me I haven’t tried hard enough. I am so tired of being passed over for everything. It’s really destroying my morale and spirit. The above story is exactly what happened just as I felt some confidence coming back. It’s also hard when friends or acquaintances who mean well ask how it’s going, and I feel like such a loser letting them now that I still can’t find anything. I hate to sound like a whiner, but I am just really struggling, and I know there are likely others here in a similar boat.

    1. SeeSpursGo*

      It’s probably the industry shift that’s the issue. I was in healthcare for almost 10 years before pivoting over to accounting, and it was TOUGH to get my first accounting job! I had to find certifications that would help me stand out (for me, it was becoming a certified bookkeeper and a notary) and then I had to work a few crummy gigs to build up my experience. It took a few years, but now I’m a full fledged tax accountant (woohoo!)

      Can you find any certifications for your new industry that would help? Could you find a part time job or maybe contract work to build up experience in that field? I know you said you’re qualified, but oftentimes there’s SOMETHING that can make you stand out from the crowd.

      It’s an uphill climb to change industries-good luck!!!

      1. rayray*

        Appreciate the advice!

        I just don’t know what to do though, I am applying for jobs that are kinda low-level almost administrative in nature to get my foot in the door. I already work full time and am job hunting so it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time open for another part time job or anything. I think about contract work but it’s scary thinking about not being able to find anything once a contract ends. I know too that benefits can be terrible in contract positions, and I need health insurance and would also like vacation days.

        1. EMP*

          If you are applying to jobs that are so low level that they are inappropriate for your experience, that can also hinder you. I know you’re trying to switch industries but if your experience from one carries over, you shouldn’t be limiting yourself to really low level/administrative jobs. Can you aim for the actual job in your new field that you want, rather than a “foot in the door”?

          1. rayray*

            I am trying things that are a similar tier level or lower. I just get rejected from absolutely everything.

    2. I Forget Nothing*

      I’m here to offer sympathies and co-venting. I’ve been job hunting now since last July. I’ve made changes to my resume and cover letter based on Allison’s advice, and I’ve had what I thought were several good interviews for jobs I’m well qualified for, only to get turned down over and over. So I’m still stuck in my current role (low pay, lots of responsibilities, high stress, virtually no chance of raises). Hopefully we’ll both get where we want to be soon.

    3. Ormond Sackler*

      I feel for you. I was stuck in a job for years where I was doing a great job, but the pay increases and career advancement just weren’t there, and most of the other jobs in the field were similar but just different enough for me not to be considered for many of them. Eventually I did find another job that was a much better fit, but it took a lot of time and it was very emotionally draining.

    4. Prospect gone bad*

      Sorry you’re going through this, job hunting is tough. You wrote that you want to use all your expertise and skills, as ridiculous as it sounds, that sometimes is unrealistic in the job market. Most places aren’t going to hire someone off the street to immediately hit the ground running using a high level of multiple skill sets. Because if they needed such a person, that means they had a huge skill shortage there for a long time, and most huge skillet shortages get filled naturally, either by promotions or hiring or people upskilling themselves

      Maybe focus on one skill area in interviews?

      Also, I made my two biggest income increases by applying to pretty chaotic companies. In other words, I didn’t look for anything glamorous. It’s really hard to grow in a company that’s very structured and already has somebody doing all the work that you have skill set in. I once “got my foot in the door” of a huge corporation and had big dreams of climbing the ladder. Then I realized that they already had a person to do every task I had done at my previous job, and I ended up fighting to get any work at all. It was horrible. Felt like a demotion. But looked great from the outside

    5. Olive*

      I mean this in the kindest possible way because I recognize that this is a vent and a place to complain about things that you wouldn’t normally say outloud. I’m wondering if you’re bringing some of this energy or being fed up into your interviews. It’s not that you don’t deserve to be frustrated, rather that recruiters and interviewers might get the wrong impression.

    6. New Mom*

      I really feel you, its so tough and it’s not as easy as just snapping your fingers and getting a job. I’ve been job hunting for a few months and due to my life circumstances I need to be picky too. Because it was starting to feel like I was just throwing applications into a void, I’ve been reconnecting with my network and only applying to jobs where I know someone who works there. This has at least gotten me first round interviews.

      It sucks about what happened with your friends company, but keep using those connections to get interviews. I hope we both get something good soon!

    7. 1234*

      I would suggest two things: 1) Find ways to network with other people who may be in or even adjacent to the industry you want to join. For instance, I’m in HR and we have a local SHRM chapter that has monthly meetings and is a great place to meet other HR folks and business leaders of all kinds. See if there are local industry-specific groups, or even just more generic networking groups like young professionals meet ups. And when you go, make it a goal to meet people, ask them questions and be interested, and if it seems right, exchange contact and/or LinkedIn information.
      2) Subscribe to Adam Karpiak’s email newsletter “Job Seeking Is Hard” Also, if you can afford it, you can have him review your resume and suggest changes that will make it more effective. He has a ton of testimonials from people who have had success using his services. I also paid to have him review my resume and can stand by his work, although I am not actively job seeking, so I can’t say what effect it will have on being recruited yet. He’s very good at getting you to highlight your skills and how they can be applied, which may help you in this industry shift.

    8. Past Lurker*

      I feel like I could have written your letter; I’m still not sure what to do. After a recent screening call, I was told I would get a call from the hiring team to have an in-depth interview, but they ghosted me instead. (The person who conducted the screening call never even replied when I followed up.) Mostly it doesn’t even get to that stage. And some of the job descriptions seem designed for internal candidates in the amount of requisites for the job. Still trying though!

      1. RVA Cat*

        Unethical as it is, we also have to contend with the fact that some job postings are outright fake. I’ve heard some are fake openings so companies can look like they’re always growing. Others are real jobs but those unicorn wish lists aren’t even for internal candidates – they’re so they can claim there are no domestic candidates so they can exploit immigrants on work visas.

    9. Alex*

      It is SUPER TOUGH to get both a higher salary and an industry shift. But it is possible–I just did it! After trying for….seven years. Literally not kidding.

      One thing that helped me was to end my cover letter with why I was excited about the job, sneaking in how the industry change was actually using my same skills. Also, make sure you are using key words from the job posting in your letter, not just superfluously, but in ways that demonstrate specific ways they relate to YOU. (Also, definitely write a cover letter for every job, even if it is not specifically requested! Always always always write one. Attach it to your resume in the same pdf file.)

      Keep trying. I know it is super tough but the right job WILL appear.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Late thought– would your friend be willing to give your cover letter&resume directly to the hiring manager and say to watch for you? I’ve been the friendin a very similarsituation. First question from Managercwas “Have you worked together?” (Only in volunteer situations, but here’s what I saw.) Then there was “We’re hiring for X and she isn’t an X.” (She’s got the skillset & software. just not the matching title. industry, yeah she’ll have a learning curve. But you’ve been looking for 3 months why not talk to her yourself and decide?)

      Now that it’s reposted is the perfect time. Two things to be aware of:

      If you’re looking in the same department as your friend some managers will avoid having friends work together, even if the friend is a star performer.

      And it will affect your chances if there’s any friction between your friend & manager, or if your friend has performance issues, so be sure first!

    11. beach read*

      Years ago, when I was trying to move from one type of position in the financial world to another, I did some temp work in the new field. I contacted a LOCAL employment/staffing agency, explained what I was looking for, (new opportunity in a new field) met in person for a get to know you interview, and was soon sent as a temp to do a job in my desired adjacent field. I was hired full time after about a year of temping and learning and did very well while loving my job until the recent crash of the industry. Temping could be a good way to get your feet wet. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself about your struggle. You are most definitely not alone. Best of luck to you!

  9. New Mom*

    I’m applying for jobs for the first time in forever. My husband is from England and every other year we go to England over the holidays. He also has a wedding in summer 2024 we want to go to in England.
    At what point do I mention my two multiple week vacations (after offer letter and then I negotiate?)
    If you were hiring someone would you be put off by a three week trip over Christmas and a 2-3 week trip the following summer? I know it sounds like a lot but it’s important for my husband and children to be able to spend time with my in-laws.

    1. Eep*

      I think it would depend on the nature of the business and the role you would be in. In a small company (or a smaller team), I would imagine an employee being out for that length of time would have a bigger impact than if there were more people to fill-in. Also, I could be totally wrong, but 6 weeks of PTO in a year is more than a lot of employers in the US (if you’re in the US) offer, so I would check on their PTO policy.

      That said, if you know you’ll have enough PTO to cover it, I would say don’t say anything until after you get the offer letter.

      1. New Mom*

        I was going to ask to take it unpaid since it would likely be over my PTO. Are organizations open to that? I’m so out of practice with this.

          1. Eek*

            Yeah, as a manager I’ve had quite a few people recently come to me with this plan, and I hate saying no to them but it’s just a really long period of time to be out. The paid vs. unpaid isn’t as much a consideration as needing to find coverage for your other duties while you’re out for that length of time, especially during heavy-PTO times like Christmas and Summer, and still meeting goals we have set in place. As much as I would love people to be able to take plenty of time off and spend time with their families, it can be really derailing from a business perspective.

            Is it possible to just take 2 weeks, etc.? Also keep in mind that you’d likely have no other PTO for emergencies and other time off throughout the year.

    2. Eng Girl*

      After offer and in negotiations is when you mention it.

      And to be honest in my industry, yes I would be put off depending on the position/seniority you have. If it’s a higher level/skilled role and you bring something meaningful to the table, then I’m not going to be happy about it, but I’m more likely to ok it.

      However if it’s a more entry level role I’m probably going to say that it’s a problem, if for no other reason in the US at least you won’t have that much vacation time right away. It also depends on whether or not you’re one of many in a department or one or two, especially because you’re asking for the time when a lot of people want off.

      1. New Mom*

        The roles I’m applying to are mid-level. At my current job we have a lot of PTO and I’ve built up social capital for this time but I need to get out and it’s just hard that this upcoming year is the year we go to England. My industry is education (not teaching) so I don’t see the Christmas trip causing as much of an issue but potentially the August one. August would be tough anyways because that’s when are childcare center is closed so we thought we’d do a visit during that time. Why is time off such an issue in the US!

        1. Jenna Webster*

          When we hire, people start out with 2 weeks of vacation for the first 5 years, 3 weeks for the next 5, and 4 weeks after that. For a mid-level role, we wouldn’t offer a job to someone who was planning 6 weeks of vacation, even if they were willing to take it unpaid. I’m not saying that’s right, just that it would never happen.

          1. FashionablyEvil*

            Wow, that’s really stingy even by American standards. (My company’s is 4 weeks, bumping up to 5 after 10 years.)

            1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

              That’s been the standard for the …8 (?) companies I’ve worked for. The only outlier was a university.

          2. Econobiker*

            People stay at companies for 5 or more years still?

            I’d actually not be surprised if companies also started increasing initial vacation time as a benefit however that might piss off current employees or staff.

        2. Annimal*

          Depending on the speed at which you get the new job, you could try to set your start date after your August trip and just be unemployed in that period. Another commenter downthread suggested working remotely during part of your travel, which is at least a good thing to offer in framing this request.

          I did once start a new job and then take a month off unpaid to manage an independent project I’d been working on for two years (a US tour for international musicians) but I also partially sold myself to the new job with the work I was doing on the tour in addition to my day jobs so it wasn’t as surprising.

          US time off policies ARE awful – but as a new, mid-level employee, you are unlikely to get all of this time approved, even without pay. I’m also mid-level and got my vacation time up to a whole three weeks at my current job, and that was a Big Deal thing that I negotiated. I hate that we have to mostly start over at each job with archaic approaches to time off, and totally sympathize because we live a plane ride away from all our family. Good luck!

          1. Annimal*

            Just adding – I missed that you’re talking August 2024 so my comment about start dates is obviously irrelevant!

            1. New Mom*

              I’d love to not work until September 2024, so I was nodding along with your comment hehe. Unfortunately, I don’t think we could swing it financially, just I can dream!

        3. Eng Girl*

          Yeah, I can’t speak to the education field aspect of this, so maybe the Christmas trip will be feasible…

          I guess if you’re set on the trips at the lengths they’re at, you can ask. As long as you wait until the offer stage then they won’t count you out, but you need to be prepared for them to either say “we unfortunately can’t accommodate that” and not take the job, or they may pull the offer. It’s kind of like negotiating salary, if I offer 50k and you want 75k I’m not wasting my time negotiating because we’re not going to meet in the middle for that.

          I will say that you should also be extremely cautious of taking a job without a firm in writing commitment to that time off. I’ve known some people who’ve been told something like “oh yeah that shouldn’t be a problem, let’s discuss closer to those dates since it’s so far out” only to be met with a “oh, well we really can’t make that work” when they bring it up 6 months later. I’d also frame it as trips you already have booked if possible.

        4. Samwise*

          Can this be the year that your spouse and kids go to England and you have a shorter stay-cation? Is it vital that you attend for the full time? Can you do one trip and not the other? Can you shorten up one or both trips (you come back/go out by yourself).

          Unless you have a lot of kids, extremely young kids/a baby, or a kid/kids that need enough attention so that one parent cannot really handle all the kids — your spouse can likely get the kids to and/or from England without you.

          1. Beth*

            This is what I was thinking. Don’t go the entire time, just part. Let kids and husband stay whole time.

          2. New Mom*

            We have a baby and a two and a half year old. So at Christmas we will have a one year old and a three and a half year old, and August we will have a 20 month old and a three and a half year old. It’s a tough time to travel with two kids alone, and I honestly wouldn’t want to be away from them that long at this age.
            But I do like the idea of offering to work remotely part of the time if they’ll let me.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I would raise it after the offer letter. Assuming the company offers you at least 3 weeks of vacation a year, I would phrase it as “I have family [overseas/in England] and I have travel planned to see them [December 2023 dates] and [summer 2024 dates],” and then wait to see what the HR person or hiring manager has to say about that.

      I’ve never been on the hiring side of things, but I have had coworkers with family on different continents and they usually took their vacation time in 2 or 3 week chunks instead of (more usual for that company’s culture) 1 week at a time.

    4. Picard*

      If you’re in the US, then I’m boggled about getting 6 weeks vacation out of the gate anywhere and as your boss I would be quite put off.

      Is there any reason your husband cant just go with the kids? Especially for the summer break trip?

        1. New Mom*

          Yikes, really? That makes me sad about the US. I think my current company starts with three weeks PTO with rollover up to 40 days. And we have three paid weeks where the organization closes each year. I makes me almost ill seeing how little time off people get. It’s really unfair, people need time to live their lives.

          1. Picard*

            Might help to explain at least what country you’re in then because the vacation culture is SO VERY different from the US and europe for example.

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            For what it’s worth, I have unlimited PTO with a four-week encouraged minimum and I would find six weeks out of the office to be quite a lot. Personally, I would be comfortable with one 2-week vacation and one 1-week vacation per year, then a few days off here and there. Two trips of 3 consecutive weeks each is a lot.

            1. New Mom*

              Yeah it’s tough. We only do Christmas in England every other year, and we didn’t go last year. And we’ve missed so, so many weddings and other major life events, that this is one of the last ones (at least for the cousins). I wouldn’t expect to do this yearly. Just Christmas every other year and this one-time wedding but people prickle at this obviously. Sigh.

          3. Chirpy*

            I get 2 weeks of vacation, with a third if I hit 10 years at my current job, and that’s considered extremely generous for retail. (I started with one week, I think I had to hit 2 years to get the second.) We only started getting paid sick leave (3 days) less than a year ago.

      1. New Mom*

        we have two very young children and I wouldn’t want to be away from them for that long. It would also be nice to spend time in England with my family when it’s not super rainy and cold.

      2. jane*

        That’s true but also horrendous.

        I assume the “any reason” is she wants to go on vacation with her family.

        I would hope my boss would approach this as “I’m sorry but that’s not workable” rather than ‘your desire for a work-life balance, quality time with your family, and a more-than-embarrassingly-paltry amount of vacation is ridiculous.’

    5. Rosemary*

      Is working remotely during any of that time an option, so you would not be fully “off” for 6 weeks? I take a month long trip with my family every summer, but I work for ~2 weeks of it and take vacation for ~2 weeks (some years I split the vacation days across the months, other years I take a 2 week chunk).

      As for taking the time off unpaid, I think it largely depends on your role, the culture, etc. We have a relatively new (senior) employee who negotiated unpaid time off for a long-planned 4 week family summer trip to Europe. But this is a one-time thing – she isn’t asking to do it every year – and she was a highly sought-after hire, so we made it work.

      1. New Mom*

        I’d definitely be willing to work remote during the time. I just need to be there a minimum of two weeks but preferably three. The flight and then long drive to his parents rural home is quite rough on everyone and takes almost a week to adjust to the time change. If they don’t mind, I’d be happy to log in remotely to ensure major projects don’t fall apart.

    6. T. Wanderer*

      If these are roles where it’s possible, would you be open to offering to work remotely for the time that’s over your PTO? It might be easier if you can say “I understand this would likely be more than standard PTO, and I’m willing to working remotely from England for some of that time”.

    7. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      Most of my jobs (in the States) have offered the standard 2 weeks of PTO per year, with one other week sometimes counting only as sick and sometimes counting as flex. Even our VPs don’t get 6 weeks.

      They might be willing to let you do some unpaid, but it’s unlikely. Maybe you can be remote some of that time? Definitely don’t count on being able to take that much with an American company.

      1. New Mom*

        Oh wow, that’s really rough. I’ve always worked in education/education-adjacent fields so in my field that would be considered below industry standard. What I tend to see is 3-6 weeks PTO, with some of the time off as paid closure.

        Information like this makes me never want to leave education because only ten days off a year would not be possible for me with all the daycare closures, kids being sick, half of family living away and also I might (gasp!) want to take time off for myself! (The snark is directed at companies, not you NTBSNT :)

        1. Double A*

          Yes I’m exhausted in education sometimes and occasionally frustrated by the rigidity of the break times but I can’t imagine not having time to recharge.

    8. MigraineMonth*

      I think Alison’s advice is that these things should be negotiated between receiving and accepting the offer. I don’t know how much of a problem the long vacations will be (it’s very industry and role dependent), but you get to decide if it’s something you would refuse and offer over.

      1. New Mom*

        I’ve been mostly applying to roles where I know someone (former colleague) who works there because I’m looking for a place with a good culture. I could ask my friends if this kind of request would come across as really out of touch, but one of my friends never takes PTO (this is more personality than work culture) so she may not be the best person to ask. It’s also a very large employer so her and I would not be in the same team, so what might be true in her department might not be true in another department.

    9. Vax'ildan is my disaster bicon*

      Do you mind if I ask what kind of educational role or institution/organization you’re targeting? I’m a classroom teacher at a private school, and this would be a non-issue in my particular role as long as the dates aligned with school breaks. It sounds like you’re not in that specific type of role, but depending on the company or organization, you might be able to find somewhere that has busy periods and lulls roughly pegged to the school calendar, which could make things a bit easier.

      1. New Mom*

        I’m looking at:
        Program Manager and/or Director roles at education nonprofits, colleges/universities, consulting firms, and in EdTech.
        I hadn’t thought about applying for roles at a high school in the administration but maybe that might be a good option. My time off would definitely align with school breaks. My hesitation with high schools is that I need a job that is fully or at least partially remote, and I’m assuming (but could be wrong?) that at a high school/middle school I’d need to be on-site full-time.

        1. Vax'ildan is my disaster bicon*

          I think you’re right that the majority of high schools will be hiring for primarily on-site positions, but it’s possible depending on the position and the school that there could be some hybrid flexibility. For example, some of our marketing and communications, advancement, and admissions staff sometimes work remotely.

          If you’re interested, many independent schools hire through recruiting agencies such as Carney Sandoe, which match candidates to openings. It’s a bit of extra work on the front end, but then your materials are sent to schools and you don’t have to do as much of the searching, filling out forms, etc.

        2. Just me*

          Even if you are partially or fully remote your tax and workers comp status will be tied to the state where you work. I have many remote employees but we don’t let employees work while overseas partly because of tax and liability issues and partly because of IT security issues. If you had a really rare/ specialized skill set that I really needed I’d negotiate for unpaid leave and employees who have a longer tenure and have their teams well sorted I’d happily work out this kind of leave. But even then I’m never in favor of employees planning to use every bit of leave and not banking anything for emergencies or illness. I’d be hard pressed to give a brand new employee extra time off because that not only means the job I hired them for is not getting done but that other employees would need to work extra to cover those responsibilities.

          1. Higher Ed Coordinator Person*

            Higher Ed will likely offer a lot of PTO, so if you apply to colleges & universities there is a good chance that this vacation schedule won’t be a problem.

            1. New Mom*

              Even for administrative roles? We have a huge flagship university and a few other college/universities within driving distance of my house so I’m applying there. I’m slightly concerned about needing to be on-site more than one day a week because of our childcare situation but I’m looking up roles that are 80%+ remote at the colleges. There are actually a decent amount!

    10. Ali + Nino*

      What if you chose one over the other? Based on what you said about whether, it sounds to me like your preference would be to visit England over the summer. Perhaps your in-laws could visit you for the holidays/another time in the winter? Also, rightly or wrongly, a big chunk of vacation like this so far in the future doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

      Three weeks off, while “a lot” in one go, would be much more palatable than six weeks in less than a year – and count me in with the other Americans very surprised that you’ve had this much PTO up until now. I’ve simply never heard of that amount of paid vacation, unfortunately, even for the C-suite.

    11. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      I would look for jobs in ESAs (educational service agencies) that are education-adjacent but run on similar schedules. Many of them have fully remote positions, which would allow you to work from England some of the time if necessary.

    12. Gyne*

      Is there any way you could move the Christmas trip to not over a major holiday that most people would also want off? Especially given your kids aren’t yet school age – even people who don’t personally celebrate Christmas but who have children are beholden to the school schedule and will either be wanting to take time off or finding childcare during that time. I’d be more put off by that than the summer wedding trip.

      But I work in a heavily coverage-based field and this would honestly be a very hard sell to me from a potential new hire at baseline.

      1. New Mom*

        That’s a good thing to consider about others wanting the time off. Unfortunately, it really has to be Christmas. It’s really important to my husband and his parents that we come every other year at that time.

        1. M*

          I say this as someone with parents/siblings in Europe (Ie I get why this is important to you/them): you may not be able to. Negotiate what you can, but start thinking about workarounds: do you send the rest of the family one year and then when it’s time to go again all of you go? Do you stay at your company until you find a job that lets you do this? Do you go with them and fly back by yourself after a week and just grit your teeth bc you got all of the jet lag but none of the fun?

          I understand that every other year feels fair but life often doesn’t work out that way. It’s up to you how much you are willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

    13. Tio*

      I would maybe approve the Christmas trip if I really wanted you, but I think it would be way too far out to be approving a trip for summer 2024 at this point. Most regular staff won’t have even requested anything past Christmas by now, and there’s no way to know what the situation will be then. And 6 weeks is a LOT to ask for at once.

      1. New Mom*

        Good point. I think based on all the comments, I’ll just ask about Christmas and see what happens for August. I might not even like the job, and that’s pretty far in advance.

    14. Extra anony*

      A question I can truly relate to! I work at an education adjacent nonprofit and have two kids under five. I am the one living outside of my country though, in my husband’s country. This is my advice:

      Be up front at the offer stage that your spouse’s family is from Europe and you have Christmas trip plans. In my case I am a foreigner so people get that I want to see my family. It’s April, so I would only mention Christmas, NOT the summer. That’s over a year away. You risk sounding a bit unreasonable. If you are a good enough employee and the Christmas trip works out, they will more than likely be OK with it closer to the date. As a manager though, I would not be able to guarantee a new hire several weeks off over a year in advance. I would not be put off by the Christmas request though.

      Look for companies that close the office Dec 23-Jan 2. This has helped me a lot.

      Whenever I travel, I negotiate remote work and usually take a full week of vacation, then work remotely the rest of the time, or at least Mon-Thu, particularly in the summer. Even though the places I’ve worked are flexible, they are nonprofits or education institutions – there aren’t tons of extra human resources around. I’m hired to do a job the nonprofit needs and to manage programs and projects, so I can’t just disappear for three weeks. This isn’t really terrible US time off…it’s more the reality of working in the education and NGO world. Being willing to work remotely – and not just “check in,” actually work full days – will likely be more helpful than unpaid time off, especially at a nonprofit.

      And this isn’t advice but just my experience – with my kids being so young, we have done an annual summer trip but decided to skip the “every other Christmas” trip for one cycle and the grandparents came to us… might be worth exploring other options for Christmas at home just for one year, or staying at your current job with (extremely generous!) guaranteed time off for six more months, or being open to sending your husband alone to that summer wedding. Honestly, international travel experiences with an 18 month old has made me reconsider many a trip for now lol, but the good news is it’s only temporary!

      1. New Mom*

        Thanks, and yes super similar. My current job definitely has a bit of the golden handcuffs situation because it has enabled us to go to his parents every other year, and one year we got to go in the summer and it was so nice.

        I have a bit been toying with sticking it out through January just so we can go visit, but that has basically been my life for the past 2-3 years where I stay for the benefits but then I’m really miserable for about three months every busy season because we’re soooo understaffed and overworked. I’m put in a situation where I need to work from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep for about three months straight and I get totally burned out and full of anxiety and my organization is aware of this and will do nothing to change it. Also, the new leadership are just… really not nice, and the energy is full of fear, and people scrambling and throwing each other under the bus and I just don’t like being in that kind of environment.

        I just wish there was a place that had the same benefits as my current job that didn’t expect me to work myself into the ground to be able to enjoy the benefits… sigh.

        1. Extra anony*

          You definitely should start looking, and the good news is that you don’t have as much urgency as if you didn’t have a job right now, and you can be picky. There’s nothing wrong with seeing what’s out there and turning down an offer if they have not great benefits. Good luck!

    15. JR*

      I have a colleague with in-laws abroad who handles it through a combination of the following: 1) paid vacation (including being strategic with her rolled-over hours based on their travel plans – we can roll over up to 1.5 times the annual allotment), 2) unpaid vacation (I couldn’t manager with colleague taking weeks and weeks of unpaid vacation, but if we can come up with a feasible plan to cover their tasks I’m up for some unpaid), 3) working remotely, 4) shifting hours – working more than their standard hours before and/or after the trip. This is easier because my colleague works part-time, but might be doable with a 40 hour/week job, and 5) spouse and kid go for more weeks than colleague does.

      1. New Mom*

        Interesting idea! Someone upthread mentioned that I may not even be able to bring my work laptop abroad so they may not let me work remotely, though I’d be willing. But I like that idea of offering to work additional hours the week before and after. Or, I know that there are a few night and weekend events at the place that I’m applying and maybe I could volunteer to be the person doing those in exchange for a few extra days off around Christmas.

        1. JR*

          Would you consider having your spouse and older child go for the full three weeks, and then you and the baby go for 2 weeks? There are some real downsides to that, and that assumes you have reliable full-say care, etc., but could be a lot more manageable than your husband taking two kids alone, you being separated from both, etc.

          And I agree with those that said don’t worry about the wedding for now. It’s far away, you’ll know more about the org culture, you’ll be a known quantity, etc. And he can always do that one alone if it really isn’t an option, or you can all go for a shorter amount of time, etc.

  10. Eep*

    Any suggestions on how to coach employees on professional communication? I have a few who are starting to interact directly with clients, and while our own company culture involves fairly casual communication, when you’re talking to clients you should be a bit more buttoned-up. I’m having trouble figuring out how to clearly and directly communicate that, though. I’ve said to steer clear of emojis and text-speak like “LMAO” (which has come up), and have also said that they need to speak more like they’re in a job interview but… I’m afraid it’s not sinking in. What ideas do you all have?

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I learned a lot of professional communication by being copied on emails or reading letters/reports written be people who’d been at my firm longer than I have. You also have the option of having them run a few emails by you before letting them loose on your own – some ‘professional speech’ editing never hurts!

    2. Retail is Detail*

      Would suggesting that they imagine they’re speaking to a teacher or coach help? Although if you’ve “said that they need to speak more like they’re in a job interview” and that’s not working, maybe explicitly explaining the idea of when to use formal vs. informal register would help?

      It can be a real challenge to communicate professional norms to early-career employees! This isn’t a one-to-one analogy, BUT…. When I trained high school students and they had questions about our dress code (for boutique sales associate roles), I explained it as “if you would wear an outfit to visit your grandparents then it’s probably okay to wear to work” and then went over SPECIFICS on WHY showing too much skin/having skirts to short might offend older customers (our demographic) AND get in the way of successfully doing their job responsibilities. And we STILL had to have many individual conversations with the younger employees, but explaining WHY we asked them to dress a certain way was very helpful overall. YMMV of course!

      1. L. Bennett*

        Yeah, I’m not sure! You’re totally right about how hard it is to coach early career folks or ones whose parents or families haven’t worked in office environments before because there are so many unspoken rules that are hard to articulate. I started to try to say “think about how people in tv show offices talk” but then… yeah, that’s probably not going to be helpful at all, actually.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Does your company provide any soft skills, customer service, or dealing with clients training? I think they might need more structured training.

      Role playing practice interactions can help with this, too. You’ve told them what to do. Now it’s time to show them.

      1. Miette*

        Alternatively, if you’ve got budget for staff training, perhaps a business communications course for all could be arranged?

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Also a good idea! As is creating templates for common email responses. You can do it as a team.

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      I agree with Warrior Princess Xena, have them run drafts by you to start. What I would also suggest is that you edit the email, and then talk through your edits with the person to explain why you made the edits you did and the effect you’re going for.
      You can also share some examples of your own communications that you think illustrate the different well.

    5. Ally*

      I still struggle with this – I think role modeling is the best way. Let them see emails, sit in on meetings …
      The problem with “interview speak” is is feels so fake and pretentious in the real world, so it takes some time to feel confident using it every day. Hearing and reading every-day professional language really helps.

    6. Shandra*

      Be sure to tell them that simply forwarding someone else’s email is not always the way to answer a client’s question.

      Someone did that to me once, and I almost went after him. I had to get the answer from another colleague, and we communicated more informally between ourselves than we would have on something we knew a client would see.

    7. Observer*

      I’ve said to steer clear of emojis and text-speak like “LMAO” (which has come up), and have also said that they need to speak more like they’re in a job interview but… I’m afraid it’s not sinking in. What ideas do you all have?

      Well, I don’t think you are being clear here.

      I think you need to be more explicit.

      No emojis.
      No text speak or acronyms
      No cursing or profanity

      Do not speak to clients like you would speak to your buddies, even work buddies. There are semi-formal encounters with people with whom you are not friends or coworkers.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I think your comment presumes they know what they should replace these things with, and that may or may not be the case.

        1. Observer*

          I guess I wasn’t clear enough :)

          These are people who are not getting more oblique comments, so they need to be spoken to more directly. What I was suggesting was style and approach, not a complete list.

          Now in some cases I would think that it’s pretty obvious what replaces the thing being banned – like no acronyms, so you replace them with whole words. In other case, if they don’t understand what they can / should replace stuff with, the OP may have to give them similar guidance. But again, it need to be very concrete and clear.

  11. Princess Deviant*

    I got a new job!! Woohoo! I’d been looking half-heartedly on and off for a while, not really wanting to go through the change of moving companies that being autistic makes so uncomfortable, and not being great at interviews!
    So I wasn’t that motivated until recently when I realised some (financial) stuff. I really stepped my search up the last couple of months and I just found out I was successful in a year-long secondment at my current employers (no new company to get used to!) with a 50% pay bump and a good chance it’ll be made permanent!
    I’m so relieved and excited!

    I’ve used a lot of the tips here, which has helped, along with the comments from the other readers on managing interviews, so thank you.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      Congratulations! And this gives me hope for finding new better-paying work myself. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  12. Not Well*

    Looking for advice for being on FMLA.

    The long and short of my situation is that I’ve been having worsening medical problems from toxic-boss-induced stress for nearly two years. Now I’m using FMLA to work a reduced schedule and get medical treatment. I was hoping posters withFMLA experience might be able to answer some questions:

    1) What if I do the reduced work schedule for x weeks, start to feel better, and go back to work full time, but my medical problems become as bad as before?

    2) What if I get a job offer while on medical leave? Do I need to work full time for the two weeks notice period?

    3) I’m still finding my work stress to be high because I have to RUSH RUSH RUSH to get as much done as possible. There used to be two people in my position, but the other person left recently and their position won’t be refilled. Even with coworkers being assigned a few small tasks temporarily, I’m still behind in work. My best friend said to think, “I’ll do the most work I can in the time I’m scheduled to work, and that’s the most they can expect from me.” It’s not really helping. Is there another way to think of it so I can stop caring and being stressed out?

    1. Rosyglasses*

      1 – If I were in your shoes, I would work the intermittent/reduced schedule for your full hours, or as close as you can, depending on how your company refreshes FMLA hours. Mostly for the reason you stated – sometimes we start to feel better, and then we relapse.

      Some companies renew hours on a calendar year, some do it on a rolling year (e.g. you start your first FMLA claim Sept 1 and so your available yearly max renews the following Aug 30.

      2 – I supposed they could ask anything of you, but if you are still under FMLA, you would work your current schedule (so if you worked 20 hrs per week, I would expect you to work 40 hrs total – 20 week 1 and 20 week 2).

      3 – This sounds like your friend is on the right track. You need to think of it as “what would this company be able to get out of someone working 20 hours per week” and aim for that. Reduced schedule ALSO means reduced workload, because you are trying to heal, and trying to stuff 40-60 hours of work into 20 hours is going to just counterbalance what you’re trying to do.

      I speak as an over-achieving, high functioning employee, and it has taken me several rounds of burnout and having to take a medical leave to learn to separate my worth as an individual and who I am from my piles of work that I can produce. If the company is falling behind – that is on THEM, not on you to fix.

      Best of luck!

    2. awef*

      I’m not a lawyer or an expert by any means, but I’m a union steward and I’ve helped a few members with FMLA/ADA issues.

      Have you looked into an ADA accommodation to work a reduced / alternate schedule, and/or restructure your job to reassign some marginal (non-essential) tasks of your job to coworkers permanently? This may help with points 1 & 3. Alison has written about requesting ADA accommodations a number of times, and the Job Accommodation Network is a good place to start as well.

      If that’s not an option for whatever reason, I really agree with your friend – reframing your mindset is an extremely difficult thing to do, but at the end of the day, your employer’s inability to balance your workload is not your failing. If you’ve raised this issue, and your employer is still not filling the position of the person who left, not taking anything else off your plate, and not doing anything else to ensure you’re able to finish the work they need done, then you’ve done everything you can do.

    3. Jujyfruits*

      1- Keep working with your doctor if you have a flare-up. I believe they can recommend time off an an as-needed basis.

    4. Merry and bright*

      I was on FMLA reduced schedule for a year post COVID, so I have some insight into your questions.

      1. When you start feeling better, can you add more hours incrementally instead of going back to full time all at once? I did 6 months on 20 hours a week, then moved up to 30 hours a week for 6 months. Also, if you can do an incremental increase, can you break it into 2 sessions with an hour break in between? I found that really helped me.

      2. No, you can work your FMLA hours during your notice period.

      3. You will need to have a frank discussion with your manager and list out all the tasks you have. Tell them you can’t do all of them during your work hours and ask them to prioritize what gets done. When you are working, start at the top of the list and go down, then clock off. Your manager will have the list of tasks, and they can get coverage for the other ones. Get the information in written form (email) from your manager, and hold onto it, that way if anyone comes back to you about tasks you haven’t done, you can refer them back to your manager and let them know you had to prioritize other projects per manager. I had some tasks that didn’t get looked at for the whole year I was on FMLA.

      I hope that helps!

    5. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      It can depend a little on your FMLA steward – I had a recent FMLA and the medical write up listed up to a year of increased need. I had to create 2 FMLA leaves – one for full time, one for intermittent (part time) and they are both closed now but the documentation is already in place for reopening a 3rd one should it be needed.

      For my intermittent leave it was just crucial that I communicated how many hours of FMLA I was going to need in a week if things were changing so that my total hours of FMLA were recorded properly since I have a limit in a rolling 12 month.

      That being said I have a great boss and I get zero pushback. In fact she had the FMLA paperwork started for me before I had even time to think about next steps.

  13. Plankly*

    I’m training someone at work who is an absolutely lovely person but I worry that she’s not a good fit for the job. We’re a month in now and still working on basic things that past trainees have gotten within 1-2 weeks, plus difficulties navigating our system and the computer in general. I’m seriously worried about this person’s ability to handle more the complicated and challenging things that come our way, and she needs to be able to do that. I’m in a new position and supposed to be focusing on that work, but instead have to spend a lot more time than anticipated training this person.

    It’s not up to me to keep her on or let her go, but my opinion does matter and I have mentioned the difficulties and worries I have. I guess my concern is if I’m being too cynical? Do I need to find a way to accept that everything is just going to take longer? Again I like her a lot personally, just finding training to be almost grueling.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Be honest with her. Don’t sugar coat it. Give her the chance to try and step it up. “Most people I train have mastered this in 1-2 weeks, I noticed you’re still having questions. Are you taking enough notes? Is there something missing in my explanations?”

      Then talk to *your* manager/boss. “hey, I love training new people, but normally it’s 1-2 weeks. New hire is still needing X amount of my time per day to help him. I’m worried about spending too much time helping her with ABC project instead of working on XYZ project. Can you help me figure out how to reduce time with new hire?” Boss might take it off your hands for you, or might tell you some strategies like it’s okay to tell her to email questions and you’ll only help on Friday mornings once a week etc.

    2. MigraineMonth*

      Remember that honesty is a kindness. “I’ve noticed that you’re still struggling with X and Y, when most people I’ve trained mastered that in the first two weeks. I know you’re working hard, but it may be that this isn’t a good role for you, since a lot of the job is doing X and Y.”

      I would have appreciated if someone had pointed that out to me when I was new at my last job; it turns out that while I’m good at A, B and C, I am just really bad at X.

    3. New Mom*

      I agree with others about being honest, it can be awkward but it is saving you and her both from an extended, and eventual awkwardness.

      I worked at a job years and years ago that had our schedules and shifts changing every week. I asked for the upcoming week’s schedule and my manager told me to ask him about it on Sunday. For the next four weeks I called my manager on Sundays to get my schedule, not thinking anything of it. On the fourth Sunday he snapped at me, very frustrated, telling me to “check the schedule posted in the break room like everyone else!” I was mortified. I had never been told about the posted schedule and never took my breaks in the break room so I never saw it, and since my manager wasn’t being straight with me, he was getting super frustrated and I had no idea. I wish he had just told me the second Sunday what was up instead of allowing me to continue bothering him, when I didn’t realize it was a problem.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Training is SO hard–I train where I work and it just drains me. It’s especially exhausting when you know the person you’re working with is simply not going to “get” the basics of the job.

    5. Observer*

      Do I need to find a way to accept that everything is just going to take longer?

      Why would that be a reasonable path? I’m not being snarky. I’m trying to figure out whether you are letting your liking for this person affect your judgement vs realizing that perhaps the last people in the job were exceptionally good at.

      If the former is true, then, no. You need to be clear with whoever is making the decision that you like her, these are her good qualities (whatever they are) , BUT she doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the job. It’s certainly taking longer than should be expected to learn the basics.

      If it’s the latter, then have a conversation with the decision maker laying out what you are seeing, but also expressing that you think that this is the more of the norm and that training and work schedule and expectations for both trainees and yourself need to take this into account.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      Do you have a standard “X number of days to understand/do the job” probationary period? One of the best people I ever trained took the entire 90 days. She was an extremely slow learner, but once she “got it” she was darn near flawless. As opposed to the usual, people making fewer and fewer mistakes until they reached proficiency at 90 days. She was aware she had 90 days.

    7. LlamaG*

      I recently had this, she started in November and I was CONCERNED.

      Not reading documentation correctly, asking me multiple questions about the same thing daily etc. now it’s coming up to her 6 months and honestly she is a God send. I wouldn’t be without her tbh!

      She disclosed she had dyslexia to me, and as a result I amended the way I way training her into short segments throughout the day, so she could have the opportunity to ask the questions she needed, and in the portions of the day when I was unavailable she learned to take the initiative and as a result improved significantly within 2 months.

  14. StarPop*

    How does this language land for people in a job description?

    Research shows women and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups tend to apply only when they check every box in the posting. If you are reading this and hesitating to click “apply” for that reason, we encourage you to go for it! A true passion and excitement for making an impact is just as important as work experience.

    1. L. Bennett*

      I like it, personally! I think it would definitely encourage me to apply if I was hesitating.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Is it a little condescending? Maybe just drop the first sentence about why you are adding the disclaimer and just leave the disclaimer?

      I like when jobs split the skills list into two as “required”, and “ideal candidate would have but not required” type ways.

      1. StarPop*

        We do have a required and a preferred section. I would want this in the preferred section. Our required section is only 2 things, and by state rules we have to have those.

        When this was floated and the team did their own research, messages like these came back with mixed results and so the whole thing was scratched.

      2. Still not picked a username*

        Yes, on splitting the skills/attributes, it’s very normal in the uk to have these divided in to essential and desirable subsections

      3. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Yeah, I’d agree with this take. The reason people get jobs when they don’t check every box in the posting is usually because the posting doesn’t make it clear which things are needs and which are nice to haves, so some people interpret everything as a ‘need’ and others interpret everything as a ‘nice to have’. Having a line in your posting about what things you are willing to train employees to do vs what things they need to know coming in is also helpful.

    3. rayray*

      My problem is, I have been applying for jobs like this and I still get rejection emails from donotreply. I am not applying for anything I am crazy unqualified for, but maybe things where I might not hit exactly what the job ad asks for. I have even applied for ones that blatantly said to apply anyway with the same reasoning you are saying, and I STILL get rejected.

    4. Cordelia*

      I like the first part, but – is it really true that excitement and passion are as important as experience? I guess it depends on the role, but I think that sentence is overstating it. Being passionate about something doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to do it, or are good at it. Maybe just a note in the “preferred” section making it clear that you are not expected to meet all of these

      1. linger*

        The intent seems to be to downplay relevant experience as the sole indicator. But this is still a candidate selection process. So the alternatives should be qualities that could serve as an equally reliable indicator of ultimate success in the position.
        Possibly something like, “motivation and ability to learn on the job are as important as experience”?

    5. cabbagepants*

      A neighboring employer places this language at the bottom of their job listings. Maybe you can use it as a starting place.

      “Don’t meet every requirement? At [Company] we are dedicated to building a welcoming, diverse and inclusive work place. If you are excited about working for [Company] but your experience doesn’t exactly align perfectly with the job description we encourage you to apply anyway, you might still be a perfect fit or a fit for another role at [Company].”

      1. Cordelia*

        ooh yes, I think I prefer this one. It explains why you are including the statement, but doesn’t go as far as saying that enthusiasm is as good as experience – which I think OPs veers into doing, unrealistically.

      2. Nebula*

        I like this wording better than StarPop’s. It conveys the same thing but focuses on the company.

      3. Lady Danbury*

        I prefer this wording. As a woman and POC, it would definitely encourage me to apply, not just in terms of hesitancy but also because it shows that you’re an organization that is thinking through these kind of issues and (seemingly) trying to do something about it.

    6. TX_Trucker*

      If every box isn’t a “requirement,” then why is it even part of the job posting? I work in the transportation industry and struggle to get female truck drivers to apply. But your job language sounds condescending to me.

      If you don’t already do this, I suggest splitting the requirements into a minimum and preferred section. In the preferred section, you can include something similar to your existing statement, that doesn’t call out specific groups. If you are in the USA, I would suggest something like: We are Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and encourage everyone who meets the minimum criteria to apply, even if you don’t have these preferred qualifications.

    7. Qwerty*

      I hate this with a passion and find it offputting enough that any excitement I have for the role evaporates when I see those postings. I have been seeing similar ones lately a lot lately, though usually they are more clinical which makes them slightly less condescending. I fully expect to be discriminated against at these places if I were to be hired and gaslit if I brought it up, because they are bringing my gender into the interview process and making decisions on it before I have even applied.

      Here’s how it reads to me: “Hey little lady, I bet you have imposter syndrome! I can’t be bothered to write a job description that accurate depicts who we want to apply, so I’m just going to blame it on your emotions instead. This allows me to pat myself on the back for DEI and being a champion of women without actually having to do the work of real change.”

      That’s just at the first half of the paragraph. The last line of “A true passion and excitement for making an impact is just as important as work experience.” reminds me so much of quotas and diversity hires. They are basically saying that you are not qualified but they want to increase their diversity numbers. Which means my coworkers are going to think that the bar was lowered for me to get hired and not see me as actually earning my job. (been in places like this before)

      What I would rather see is a well thought out job posting. Pare down the list of requirements. Separate describing what the person would do with what you require and trust them to be able to translate between the two. If you give a list of requirements and only want someone with 80% of them, then state “must have 4 of the following…” rather than “must have the following”.

      Here’s an example of a good one that I’ve seen recently. I’m paraphrasing because I don’t recall the exact language. Any emphasis is mine.

      We currently use

      Must have the following
      – 2-3 items.
      – Ability to use our tech stack, either through previous familiarity or quickly learning the tools

      Experience with *some* of the following
      – 3-5 items

      If you have experience in any of the following, please apply regardless of the other requirements! Knowledge is any of these is not required nor expected but would fill a need on our team
      – 2-3 items they consider to be more rare skillsets, like an obscure technology

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Yes, thank you! This put into words what I was feeling. It may not be how it is meant but that is how it comes across frequently. Clarify your job posting, don’t put the burden of labor back onto the people who are already having a harder time job hunting.

      2. RagingADHD*

        This is a bit stronger than my reaction, but definitely in the same direction.

        If enthusiasm is more important than experience, then list enthusiasm as required and experience as optional, or leave experience off altogether.

        And if you wouldn’t actually prioritize it that way, don’t say it.

        1. Qwerty*

          It hits a bit of a nerve for me, so I was already a little fired up over this. Probably related to how many times I’ve seen this style of disclaimer this week paired with poorly written job descriptions combined with my behind-the-scenes experience trying to improve processes on hiring, performance reviews, career advancement.

          One of the postings with this disclaimer that I saw this week had a large number of requirements, but half of them were things that were really easy to learn and could be taught to a new hire in <10min each.

    8. new year, new name*

      I really applaud the intention here and I personally like the first two sentences, but “A true passion and excitement for making an impact is just as important as work experience” lands weirdly for me. I think I would prefer something that talked about the value of lived experience or other nontraditional qualifications.

      In a lot of cases, passion and excitement isn’t enough — and also, passion and excitement probably shouldn’t be required! Candidates should have certain baseline skills (where applicable) and, like, a desire to do a good job and get paid fairly for it while not being a jerk to anyone :)

      1. Called Birdy*

        The language doesn’t strike me as condescending, as others have written, but I agree with the above re: value of lived experience mattering more than passion. It is also helpful to separate “required skills and abilities” from “preferred”.

    9. GythaOgden*

      Show, don’t tell. That’s the kind of language I’d expect at a policymaking level when you’re discussing what a good job description should contain, not on the actual advert or JD. For the record I’m am autistic white woman, and currently working a job way below my educational background (Masters) because of the stress of simply existing. It’s a bit like the cutesy pictures on our internal neurodivergence awareness campaigns — it makes us look like children who need to be nurtured, given sweeties and patted on the head (my mum is the only person I allow to do that) rather than adults with careers and ambitions of our own.

      I’ve been on the end of similar affirmative action policies before (in the UK) as well as overt services to get disabled people into work, and it was actually fairly demeaning to go from a university graduate unexpectedly struggling with a career path to ‘that autistic girl’. Mental health and neurodivergence awareness in the workplace is really coming into its own, at least here in the UK, and it’s precisely due to this progress I finally feel I can hold my own in the job market without worrying about being seen as a diversity hire or applicant.

      Although I’ve received some coaching about how to respond to job applications where I might have to stretch my qualifications a bit or show how my studies and voluntary work fill in the gaps in my paid career, at the end of the day, it’s a job, and I’m either qualified or not. I got jobs by having stuff on my CV, temping for a while after a period unable to do much other than volunteer and so on, like a lot of other people do.

      The right way, I feel, to do something like this is to reach out to places where minorities etc are going to be looking for jobs and doing the hard work of good hiring practices, good expectations for the job and coaching people who ask for it in how to analyse whether they’re a good fit. I tend to get confidence boosts through achievements at work or social experiences like being able to briefly converse with a new manager of Polish extraction in her own language. I’ve got an email from an internal recruiter rejecting me from one job but asking to speak with me on the basis of my submitted CV, which has no indication on it that I’m autistic.

      To sum up: hard no from me.

    10. mreasy*

      I have seen and like this. It may feel like it’s belaboring the point but many people in these groups don’t realize that this is a known tendency among BIPOC and women applicants so spelling it out is helpful. I don’t actually think passion for the work is as good as experience but the first bit doesn’t bother me!

    11. saskia*

      This is awesome except for the last sentence. Passion is not a substitute for work experience. That sentence could be left out completely and the encouraging, correct message will still come across.

    12. LawBee*

      True passion and excitement can’t really be just as important as work experience, right?

      I would just split the skills into required and preferred and make it clear that people should apply even if they don’t meet all the preferred criteria, and leave out the above paragraph entirely.

    13. kiwiii*

      the company i’m at uses something similar and we’ve gotten some positive feedback on it!

    14. Observer*

      It’s a good thought but terribly worded, imo.

      The first two sentences are condescending. As a woman, I’m looking at this and wondering what other assumptions they are making about me because I’m a woman. And I’m wondering for myself and close friends / family, which other identities are marginalized “enough”.

      A true passion and excitement for making an impact is just as important as work experience.

      This line is terrible. For one thing, there are very few jobs where that kind of passion really is THAT important. And even in those jobs passion and excitement are as important as experience and skill, in terms of capacity to do the job. On the other hand, someone with passion but no experience can actually be a real problem, and this language actually makes that outcome more likely.

      Someone gave much better wording above.

    15. Clisby*

      I strongly question whether “true passion and excitement” are just as important as work experience. In an entry-level job, maybe – but once you get past entry level? Not likely.

    16. JR*

      My friend was recently looking at a job that used Thai wording, which I thought was effective: “We’re focused on building a diverse and inclusive organization and it takes all kinds of people so if you’re excited about this role but don’t meet all of the qualifications listed below, we encourage you to apply.”

  15. FriYay!*

    I posted a few weeks back about a job offer that had better benefits but was a pay cut. Well, I don’t need to worry about it because I was offered a raise and promotion at my current job. And I was able to negotiate for more PTO and a bonus as well. Yay!

  16. Bluebird*

    Hi there! I’m looking for any advice about handing my boss’s maternity leave. She will be out for a few months, and I’ll be taking on her responsibilities. I am well-positioned to do so, and I’d like to make the best possible impression on the VP that I am capable and have an excellent background since a position equal to my boss’s will be opening in the next few months (federal government – it’s hard to know when exactly it will be posted/available, if it ever is posted). Any tips or advice for showing my competency while respecting that the boss is likely coming back in a few months? For what it’s worth, I believe if the boss and I were both interviewing for this level position, given each of our experiences, I would be the preferred candidate.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Is your relationship with your boss such that you could say something to the effect of, obviously I don’t want to overstep while I’m covering these responsibilities, but if I want to use this opportunity to demonstrate how awesome I am for future opportunities, how would you suggest I could best accomplish that goal? (I would use pretty much exactly those words to my boss, but my boss and I both agree that I’m generally awesome, heh. Rephrase as appropriate to your own situation :) )

      1. New Mom*

        This is great! I was on maternity leave recently and have a good relationship with my direct report and this would have landed very well with me.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Personally, if I were going to be out and one of my reports was covering for me, *I* would start the conversation in that same general vein — “I know you’re covering a lot of tasks for me, I don’t expect you to be doing 100% of my job while I’m out, but if you can put some particular focus on x, y and z, and do them really well, I think that will make some great optics for future advancement opportunities and those are definitely things we’ll be sure to note specifically in your Permanent Record, alongside the part where you were selected to cover management tasks in general during my absence.” (I tell my team to make sure we both remember to put good things and accomplishments on their Permanent Records a lot, because none of them are very good at tooting their own horns come review season and I want to make sure all the horns are tooted appropriately.)

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Be clear and on the same page as your manager on what decisions you can make versus which she wants you to defer to when she’s back.

      When making decisions, show that you are thinking about the bigger picture impacts. As you know, the more senior your role, the more you’re expected to understand connections between your decisions and the larger department and organization.

    3. Serenity by Jan*

      I am manager going on leave soon and have my backup selected. There will be a promotion opportunity at year-end for my backup and it’s pretty much his. We discussed how serving as my backup will further strengthen his case. The promotion would be a level below me. I am also gunning for a growth opportunity and having someone capable of stepping into my shoes helps my case too.

      If you haven’t already discussed with your manager, find out what her expectations are in her absence. Overstepping your boundaries while she is out could cause issues upon her return that could impede the promotion opportunity. Doing a great job and her returning happy with the job you did will help your chances. It doesn’t sound like your manager would be angling for the job you are since it is lateral. As long as you’re not trying to take her job or make a case for expanding your role while reducing her role (which doesn’t seem to be the case here), clear expectations should put everyone in a good position.

      If I came back from leave and found that my backup made irreversible decisions that I do not like, I wouldn’t be happy. I plan on letting my backup know my expectations for certain situations that may arise and let him know I am a phone call or text away if in doubt. I trust that my backup won’t overstep his boundaries in my absence, but there is a slight concern in the back of my head even though we have excellent rapport and a great working relationship. My ever so slight concern is due to being stabbed in the back by “trusted” colleagues before. However, it would take some radical changes in my absence to not endorse him for the promotion.

  17. Lila*

    Looking for some assistance with the phrasing for an email to a former supervisor, if anyone has any suggestions!

    Two years ago I started to intern for my “dream job,” stayed for about a year. It was a really great experience for me. I haven’t been great at keeping in touch since I left, I’m trying to work on my insecurity that I’m always “bothering” people when I communicate to former employers or have networking follow-ups, etc. So we haven’t communicated at all in several months.

    I recently saw that they are hiring for a position that really matches my skills and interests. The application goes to the head of HR first. My former boss’s boss would be the direct supervisor for the role.

    So I emailed my application to HR, but now I am way overthinking if I should reach out to my former supervisor and if so, how. It feels weird to just… not say anything and potentially have them just get my application passed along to them from HR and they are surprised/bothered in some way that I never said anything to them about it, but also, I don’t want it to come across as if I’m looking for a special favor or being “fake” by reaching out to someone I have not been in touch with for several months just to basically say “hey, you have a thing I want!”

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Professional norms are different than social norms, so you’re in the clear to reach out to your former boss to say “hey, hope things are well, wanted to let you know I applied for the [Job Title] position at [Company Name].”

      Instead of thinking about it in terms of “bothering” someone or “asking for special favors,” think about it as a “friendly heads-up that you may see an application with my name on it.”

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That is exactly what I would recommend. If you want, you can try to set up a catch-up coffee, but that’s not necessary.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Seconded. By their nature, work relationships are more transactional than social ones. It is 100% normal for even warm and close work relationships to fall away when you’re no longer working together, and then resume if you start working together again.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Not talking to somebody for a couple months is completely normal. Completely. Normal.

      It’s perfectly fine to send an email to your former supervisor with, eg “Hi Nancy, hope things are going well for you. (some other sentence about something of mutual interest) I wanted to let you know that I saw the posting for the senior llama wrangler position and sent my application to HR last week. I really enjoyed working for you, and I hope I’ll be able to wear a Llamatronics badge again! If there’s any insight you have about the job that you’re able to share with me, I’d really appreciate it.”

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I am here to say it will also be fine to reach out to former supervisors after years of no contact! Totally fine!

        If you’re asking for a reference, just let them know what you’ve been up to in the meantime, and what the job is you’re applying for. Ideally you could draw a line between the job you’re applying for and the work we did together.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Several months is perfectly normal. Several years is perfectly normal. A decade or two is perfectly normal as well, and shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment.

        This isn’t a friend you ignored and now you’re asking a favor of; this is a professional contact that you’re giving a heads-up about something that could benefit them. You’re giving them the chance to improve their own standing by recommending a strong candidate and possibly get an awesome coworker out of the bargain.

    3. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Maybe I have gotten bolder in my old age, but I wouldn’t consider it bothering to get back in touch with someone after some time had passed. In fact, two of my classmates separately contacted me after (???) years of no contact to let me know about a position opening in their company.

      The scripts already given by others sound like a good icebreaker to me.

    4. Hillary*

      This is completely normal – go for it. Just for context, last week I connected with two people I haven’t talked to in 5+ years. One was a note to someone I talked to nine years ago recommending a friend who’d just applied at his company, the other was an old boss I last talked to six years ago because I’m doing something new I thought he might be interested in. And he was.

  18. L. Bennett*

    My company recently went through performance reviews and, while managers had basically full say in how an employee was rated, a lot of our promotion recommendations did not happen. Additionally, compensation adjustments (which we have no say in) were fairly low for most people if they did not receive a promotion. Before this news went out, we were encouraged to “own” the decision, not escalate concerns to the powers that be, and not say that the decision was out of our hands but… it literally was? Am I right to be bristling at this advice when we literally had no input whatsoever on the decision? I feel like we’re being asked to be cannon fodder here for a choice that wasn’t ours to make. Shouldn’t the actual decision makers be the ones “owning these decisions” rather than sitting completely insulated from the blowback?

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Oh absolutely. The decisions aren’t yours. You may have provided the rating, but that wasn’t the decision, that was input into the decision. The powers that be are being jerks.

    2. Anastia Beaverhousen*

      What does “escalate it to the powers that be” mean? Complain that promotions were held regardless of performance which impacts promotions?

      1. L. Bennett*

        It means that we had to handle all the blowback conversations with employees without drawing HR or executives into the conversations. So, basically, we were told that the people who actually made the decisions needed to be insulated from the response, as they refused to be the ones that engaged in the actual conversations with our people.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I can’t tell if your company’s leadership is bad at communicating or are just bad leaders (very fine difference).

      Anyways, I agree with the general sentiment that this is ridiculous. Per OP’s clarification, it sounds like the framing to use if anyone on your team asks is something like:

      “I made (look up docs) ___ recommendations for you. The promotions and salary decisions were made by the leadership; I’m not sure how they weighed my recommendation. Unfortunately, leadership has indicated to me they aren’t open to discussing this further.”

      So, stating the facts with some subtext that you aren’t happy about it including the fact that there’s nothing you can do.

  19. t-vex*

    I’m getting ready to tell my boss I’ll be hiking the Appalachian trail next year and I sure would like a job to come back to at the end of it. Wish me luck!

      1. t-vex*

        Flip-flop! I get very cranky when I’m cold so I’m starting in Shenandoah and heading north, spending a few days in family in New England then taking the train back to VA and heading south. Hoping for good weather the whole way =)

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Maybe it is just my dirty mind, but when I hear “hiking the Appalachian trail” I go straight to former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: Good times!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Luck to you, and hope you finish well.

      I had former co-workers who wanted to hike the PCT and have a job to come back to. The company said no time off without pay, and you don’t have that much vacation time. So they hiked and found different jobs on their return.

      Hope your company isn’t one where rules are more important than good employees.

      1. t-vex*

        My company and my boss are very supportive of employees needs in general, so I’m hopeful.

  20. aaaaaaaaa*

    Any advice for writing a resume when you have absurdly varied job duties? I do operations/admin in a relatively small nonprofit, and I’m struggling to summarize what I do. Here are some of my duties (this is not how I’d write them in a resume, but just to give a sense of how broad my position is):
    -Managing the facilities
    -Coordinating committees (safety, wellness, DEI, Board of Directors…)
    -Coordinating hiring searches
    -Advising on office policies (e.g. serving on a 3-person HR committee)
    -Liaison with IT contractor and other vendors; solving simple IT issues
    -Some event planning
    -Some database maintenance (e.g. updating contacts)
    -Coordinating car maintenance and dealing with auto insurance
    -Some orientation of new employees
    -Several other random duties, basically anything that no one else in the office has time for
    I feel like I don’t have room to explain what my position is and describe my accomplishments because admin jobs in small companies are pretty broad by nature. It would take pages, and no one wants to read that.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      This sounds like the perfect time for a master resume. List out all of the accomplishments for your current role on a resume document. If it helps you, you can loosely organize your bullet points by topic, for example “coordinating hiring searches” and “ran new employee orientations” would go near each other, as would “set up contract with IT vendor” and “solving simple IT issues.”

      Once you have your (pages and pages long) master resume document, you can create personalized resumes for each job you apply to. Applying to a position that mostly involves facility management and procurement? Those are the bullet points that stay on your resume, all the rest get deleted. Applying to a position focused on event and committee management? Event planning and committee coordinating bullet points stay on, the rest are dropped.

      1. Susan*

        This, exactly. You should always customize your resume for the job to which you’re applying, and include/highlight the parts of your experience that relate most strongly to the specific job. You don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t, include EVERYTHING on your resume. If you’re applying for a lot of different types of jobs, it can help to have a comprehensive resume that you can use as a starting point and just omit the parts that aren’t relevant to a given job. You could also make different focused resumes for each job type (e.g., one resume for IT jobs, another resume for insurance jobs, another for management jobs, etc.). You should still customize these for the individual applications, though.

    2. anon for now*

      I think it might be helpful to think about the type of job you are looking to move into or applying for. You can list a subset of those duties that relate to what you are applying for. I definitely understand the urge to want to include everything you’re doing for a job, but think about what specific accomplishments or responsibilities you want to showcase.

    3. ExplainiamusMucho*

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think this look absurdly varied – it’s simply the way a nonprofit works (but then again, I work in nonprofits). If I were you, I’d put the different categories under headlines like “HR”, “Finance”, “Daily operations” or whatever fits – and/or then emphasize the one(s) fitting the position you’re applying for.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      Instead of your duties, list your greatest accomplishments and then select the ones that best match the job you’re applying for. A hiring manager cares less that you were responsible for orientations than how amazing you were at them.

      If there are specific skills the job you’re applying for requires (e.g. DB maintenance, years of customer service, etc), I’d put those in a separate “Skills” section along with your experience/proficiency at each.

  21. Spearmint*

    I’m pretty sure this is normal, but I guess I want reassurances that it is.

    I started a new job at a very large company three weeks ago. The first two weeks I was really busy with onboarding and formal trainings, but starting this week and going forward I’ll now be trained on the specifics of my job by my manager and immediate coworkers in a more informal and ongoing way.

    So far I’ve had a lot of downtime. There is some documentation, but a lot of it is out of date, incomplete, or disorganized, or assumes background knowledge I don’t have (this job uses lots of custom processes, software, and terminology, so I can’t google much). My boss and team are busy with both work and personal stuff, and so they’re squeezing in trainings when they have the time.

    My boss told me he thought it would be 2-3 months before I’d be knowledgeable enough to do any real work, even with supervision, so I guess this fits the timeline, but I still feel weird sitting around in a new job doing nothing half the time, especially as I WFH.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      That would drive me absolutely nuts. Timeline to come onboard depends on how specialized your job is, some jobs definitely do take a lot of time. What are you doing in the meantime, are you shadowing coworkers? Are you able to do lower level tasks? I’d be so frustrated. I’d be worried about doing nothing.

    2. LuckySophia*

      Maybe spend your time documenting some of the holes in their training materials:
      Make a list of all the special terminology/acronyms you don’t know, and as you learn them, write down the definitions so you a creating a glossary — for your own reference, but also a good source of info for other new hires, now or in the future. Make note of what info you find that’s out of date/incomplete, and make notes about what kind of needed background info is missing, so you can ask your boss very targeted questions to fill in the gaps and get you up to speed faster.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – last year I hired my team’s first newbie in probably three years, and I was very appreciative of her feedback on our training materials so we could make sure they were updated with things we didn’t think about since none of us had been in training in years.

    3. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      I have a lot of downtime in my job on some days because I’m basically an on-call person if issues pop up that need help or addressing. Some days there are no issues; some days it’s nonstop issues. My feeling is that it all balances out. That’s real life work sometimes. I don’t feel guilty about the downtime because I’m good at my job when issues do arise. Quality over quantity.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I have a job like this, also WFH at a large company. I do what I’m asked, I ask for more things, but I still have a lot of downtime. So I read things, poke around in the database (it’s part of my job so I’m not accessing things I shouldn’t) make updates to things I know need updating.

      It’s starting to pick up a bit now, about 9 months in. My bosses are aware I have capacity, so it’s not like they don’t know or anything. They say enjoy the downtime. It’s fine right now because my husband is going through health stuff and has a lot of appointments and we are also going to be building a house to move into next summer.

      I keep telling myself, I’m doing what they ask, they are thrilled with my work, so it’s fine. But I totally get it, it feels like “is this all they want from me?” But I think it will turn out ok.

    5. Meeeeeee*

      I would just communicate with your supervisor as much as you see fit, that you aren’t sure if there is anything you should be doing in your downtime. It’s hard to find the right balance between new hires feeling overwhelmed with information vs. them feeling like they aren’t learning things fast enough and getting bored. I’ll always advocate for communicating as much as possible just so they cant come back to you and make it seem like you were trying to be lazy or slack off. If you have done everything they have given you, just make sure you remain attentive to new tasks and don’t do anything too professionally distracting. Or maybe something like this, “I’ve noticed to have quite a bit of free time during training tasks, is there anything you can provide me to read or otherwise consume in order to stay busy, or is there another way you would rather me fill my time?”

      If they don’t have anything for you, you tried. Then you can scroll AAM or Reddit, guilt free :)

    6. GreenShoes*

      Ask for a ‘downtime project’. Ask if there are any low/no training cleanup projects or housekeeping type projects that they could give you that you can work on but then shove to the side when role-relevant work and training is available.

      I typically give new hires a time filler project that is on my ‘want to do list’ and typically isn’t glamorous or exciting. I explain that it’s for those times when they may be waiting for training or in between assignments and usually not indicative of their role or actual job duties.

  22. GythaOgden*

    Question about recruitment.

    I applied for an internal job about a month ago for (let’s say) a British National Public Sector Llama Stabling Service customer feedback analyst. (I’m currently on Stable 1 Reception and have a lot of things I can tell them, not all great…but that’s why I’m looking for another job.) I got an email on Tuesday telling me I hadn’t got the job. I’d assumed as much since I wasn’t even interviewed and thought it was a bit of a stretch. For personal reasons I’ve stayed on reception as a stable job for longer than I should have, and as we’re business admin there’s much less to do than before the pandemic, but for a lot of awful reasons I won’t go into I can’t take any serious course of study at my desk between llama fodder deliveries and calls to ask when their pet alpaca is going to have their hooves trimmed. (Ok, maybe I should drop the llama metaphor.) I have a Master’s in Law Research but am autistic, so have struggled with more sophisticated jobs and am actually happy to remain a gofer. My CV establishes me as wanting to move up and that I have a solid reception and facilities record, but ideally I’m looking for a non-CS role.


    The recruiter added to the email, however, that he’d like to speak to me about other opportunities. I am assuming this is a genuine request, because it’s really not usual to be asked this directly by someone rejecting you.

    The conundrum is that it’s Friday he hasn’t got back to my eager reply offering him my immediate schedule. Their Careers service auto-response service just says that they aim to get back to me within 24 hours, but hasn’t.

    Presumably I should resend something on Monday. It wouldn’t be too presumptuous of me to do that, would it?

    1. Samwise*

      Tuesday: Monday is busy for everyone, you may get lost in the shuffle. And Tuesday will be a week. Start your message with something like, “Just following up on your request to talk about other opportunities. I’m very interested! Here’s my schedule/here are good times for me to talk, but I am flexible/can work with your availabilities.”

    2. Lady Danbury*

      By immediate schedule, do you mean your schedule for today? If so, I would resend on Monday with a few times blocks for the next week or so (Monday between 2 and 5, Tuesday after 1, etc.). Even if he can’t meet with you on Monday, that would allow him to review your email and potentially schedule something for later in the week with minimal back and forth.

      1. GythaOgden*

        It was basically that I couldn’t do either this Friday (just gone, 21 April) or next (28th) because I’m covering for my colleague who’s off on annual leave and I’d be on my own on reception. Sadly our position on a business admin centre reception is rapidly becoming obsolete and there are very few other things in my diary. (Which is why I’m begging for a chance to do something more interesting.)

        However, thank you for answering. Very useful and interesting tips :).

  23. Bunny Girl*

    I have a question about something that was brought up in a previous thread – How do people really interpret not socializing outside workhours with your team? Some people, and some of the advise, makes it seem like a BIG deal and that you will be thought less of. But an equal amount of people don’t think it’s a big deal.

    I ask this as someone who admittedly would rather go to the gynecologists’ office than socialize with coworkers outside the office. I never mind being asked and I’m always polite in my refusals.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think it varies a lot by industry, job, geography, age/family situation, and individual company, so I don’t think you’re going to get a definitive answer. It’s always been a play-it-by-ear situation for me.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Probably not. I guess I would just amend the question to what is everyone’s experience?

        1. Angstrom*

          I’ve never had not socializing be an issue. I think most adults understand that other adults have commitments outside work.
          At the same time, there is a difference between turning down “Want to go out for drinks after work?” and “The CEO is in town and would like to take the team to dinner”. ;-)

          1. GythaOgden*


            I’ve been for dinner with colleagues twice in 9 years: my co-receptionist’s 60th birthday (private event so we all chipped in, and it was a cheaper chain restaurant so it only cost about £20 a head — if you’re in the UK it was the Harvester chain) and the facilities post-pandemic trip to a restaurant (paid for out of a rare disbursement of social money; not quite ‘gorge your way through £500’ but almost). I enjoy it and I wish we did it a bit more tbh, but in the public sector you’re not going to get very much of a socialising kitty going.

            I’ve been to the pub next door to work exactly once: while my husband was undergoing chemo for his cancer and my colleague realised I needed a cup of tea and a lift back to my mum’s place to meet up with hubby after his appointment, and I wouldn’t call that socialising. When I leave work I just want to go home, particularly because I live in the next town to the south and therefore have a bit of a trek back on public transport. So unplanned visits to the town centre aren’t my bag and no one really expects it.

            When my husband was alive and working, his Christmas parties are generally rubber chicken affairs at a golf club and not worth the £20 ticket price after the first year or two. We went twice. Once was good and I got a lovely photo of him which is now my WhatsApp wallpaper (his mum stopped cutting his hair after that so he lost the cute mop-top in favour of a short back and sides from the barber). The second time was not great, I threw up very politely at the table (my memory is hazy on exactly why) and everyone laughed it off. The next year hubby was just starting one of his innumerable chemo treatments so we had a good excuse not to go, but to be frank no-one was ever keeping score.

            I do enjoy eating out, however, and I think my rule of thumb would be to attend the important stuff — like my two work events above. Those are the price of being a good sport at work and not putting people’s noses out of joint. But in the UK it doesn’t appear that other kinds of mandatory fun is really a thing, for which I’m very grateful.

          2. Lady Danbury*

            I don’t think I’ve ever declined a CEO in town type situation, but I expect that doing so might be seen in a negative light. Other than that, I don’t think that declining social events outside of work has ever had an impact on my perception at work. There have been events during work hours that were perceived as mandatory, but I’m fine with that since I’m on the clock.

        2. Nebula*

          My experience – which is mostly UK public sector – is that it’s not an issue if someone doesn’t want to socialise with colleagues outside work. I previously worked at an organisation where there was a big socialising culture in the past – several workplace marriages – and the people who had been there for decades were a bit surprised that the younger staff were less inclined to do a lot of outside of work socialising. We would go for after-work drinks occasionally, and have Christmas parties and stuff, but that was about it. At my current workplace, our team is pretty new, so it hasn’t really come up yet. I think it would probably be well-received, if someone suggested it, but it’s difficult to do something spontaneous as there’s only one day where we’re all in the same place, and that place doesn’t have any pubs/bars/etc. in the vicinity.

          I think as long as you’re polite in your refusals then you’re fine! If someone asks if you want to join them for a few drinks and you look at them like something you’ve scraped off the bottom of your shoe, then of course that’s not going to go down well, but personally I would not enjoy a workplace where not socialising with colleagues would really count against me.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Personally, I go to most but not all work social events. These generally happen about once a quarter (four times a year) and most people on the team I work on generally attend. The places where I have worked, overall, not a big deal if someone attends or not. I may develop slightly warmer relationships with coworkers who often attend social events compared to coworkers who never attend but there are a lot of other factors that play into this (how often we work together, how much our social interests overlap, how much our work styles mesh, etc.).

    3. The Dude Abides*

      Seconding that it varies wildly.

      At my first “real” job, I got bit in the backside hard by this. At the time, I had a long-distance partner, and three hobbies that took up most nights (as in I went straight from the office to the spot, and was driving most Saturday mornings). I made it clear that I saw my life and time away from work as my own, and set firm boundaries. Most of the upper echelon socialized/bonded away from the office, so inevitably I got shunned. After about four years, I was pushed out, and it should have been telling that when I left, I was third in seniority within an office of 25.

      Where I am at now (state gov’t), there is zero expectation of socializing outside of work. I don’t want to set that expectation, and am backed by the circumstances of everyone having a family, and two of my five reports do not live in town.

    4. CTT*

      With everyone else that this really varies! In my experience, I’m a BigLaw lawyer and there is more of an expectation of socializing for certain things. I was at a recruiting committee meeting yesterday, the coordinator mentioned that there were a few events last year that were really badly attended and how to prevent that this year. The summer associate process is definitely a “the law students are interviewing us as much as we’re interviewing them” thing (especially since I’m in the southeast and it’s common for them to split their summer with two firms), and it reflects badly on us if ten people in a 50-attorney firm show up to something because it makes it look like we don’t care if they take a job with us or not.

    5. Qwerty*

      It depends on how you interact with people during work. I would aim for warm, rather than polite, when turning down invitations. If you get a lot of invites from the same person, it can be helpful to cheerfully say something like “thanks for always thinking of me but I generally won’t be able to make it”.

      I think it is less that the person who doesn’t go gets thought less of but more that they miss out on the bonding experience. If you are fine socializing in the office, you can build up a rapport at the water cooler so that you still have personal relationships with your teammates.

      People generally notice lack of attendance for two reasons
      (1) They like you and genuninely want you to hang out with them, so they notice your absence
      (2) You are standoffish at work and don’t attend anything social outside work. This takes more of a conscious effort to invite and include you, so people feel rejected both professionally and socially. The real issue here is the at-work behavior.

      As long as you aren’t in category 2, you are fine!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I do not believe that I am. I am admittedly deeply, deeply introverted and I am completely drained by the end of my workday every single day. And I am not one that gets in a better mood with socialization, so I know I would not present or carry myself well for after work drinks with coworkers. But I am very warm and polite at work. I wouldn’t call myself overly friendly but that’s just simply not my personality.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      In my current job, it’s no problem at all. People might comment occasionally, “oh, x never comes out with us. Do you think he might come if we did x instead?” but it would be just because they’d be concerned that we are excluding him by only having activities he doesn’t enjoy (especially if say x doesn’t drink or x has small children and people are wondering if a different time of the day might suit him better).

      There’s also enough variety in who attends and how and our staff is big enough that to be honest, I’m not even sure whether or not some people do attend. We are currently planning our end of year party and we are going for a meal at 5pm, then to a pub around 8pm and I think some people might be considering going on to a nightclub after that. I will go to the meal and might go to the pub for an hour, I’ll see, and head away around 9:30. I know some people skip the meal and just join for drinks later in the evening.

      I have been in other schools though where…it wouldn’t be a huge deal but where I would have been concerned that if you were a sub or student teacher, not going might make them less likely to think of you when looking for teachers in the future.

      Generally though, in teaching, it doesn’t matter. I think it only would if it were part of a pattern. Like if somebody were subbing and never organised any extra-curricular activities, never offered to cover a class for an absent colleague, never stayed late to help set up for a school activity, never contributed to anything like collections for gifts for people, never attended any staff events and rarely joined the rest of the staff in the staffroom at lunch. It still wouldn’t be a huge deal but it would make it less likely that if you applied to the same school again later on, the principal or deputy principal would think, “oh, (s)he was a great addition to the staff. We’d love to have him/her back.”

    7. Your Social Work Friend*

      I work in an elementary school that has a culture of spending time together outside of work. In fact at least 4 of my coworkers are my neighbors. But, I really only go to two events: the holiday dinner and the end of school dinner. I don’t like to people. I people all day, every day, and it wears me out especially because my “peopleing” is getting miniature people to stop throwing chairs, hitting, or screaming. My coworkers poke (friendly) fun at me for not going to much, but I’ve always made it a point to mention that my “work self” is different. I look like I like people and am social–I am not, my job is. I also have a young child and a spouse with a strange work schedule so it’s not like I can leave the kid at home to go out. No one wants to dine with a toddler. Not even me, and I’m his mother! Now, I get less pressure and everyone is cool about it. It helps that I eat lunch in the lounge with everyone else and that I pick different lunch times during the week so I eat with different staff regularly.

    8. Hillary*

      It really varies. My immediate local team went out together once or twice a year at my last job because we liked each other. The larger team would usually have an afternoon outing once a year on company time.

      But if people are visiting? There will be at least one dinner with the locals, maybe more. I’ve been on trips where it was a different group configuration every night: dinner with the people you’re there to see, then different people you know but aren’t on the official agenda. Maybe some 1:1 meals. And so many vendors. But I’ve also been on trips where there’s one group dinner and then folks do their own thing.

    9. Green*

      I have ducked to avoid being seen by a coworker at Costco, so I will join you at the gynecologist. Seriously though, it depends on your company’s culture. At my law firm it’s fine to have your own time be your own, and also fine to make friends at work. Feel out your company on this one.

    10. Extra anony*

      I think it’s totally fine in most fields, as long as it’s understood as you being occupied outside of work vs. I’d rather have a pap smear than grab a drink with my coworkers…

  24. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    On the subject of meetings and lunch – years ago a coworker told me he worked in a place where there were frequent lengthy meetings that would run into and over lunchtime without a break. When it became apparent that this was the norm and wasn’t going to change, he decided to start bringing his lunch and just start eating it at lunchtime during the meeting. On top of that, he intentionally brought egg salad sandwiches for lunch, which of course had a noticeable smell. After a couple of times, they at least started breaking for lunch…

  25. I Forget Nothing*

    So here’s a weird one. My first name is a common name but pronounced in an unusual way (one of the vowels is pronounced long instead of short—think Deena vs. Dinah). My pronunciation isn’t entirely unheard of, but it’s rare enough to most people default to the more common pronunciation when they read it. This is fine and something I’ve been dealing with all my life. But I’m job hunting and interviewing. When a hiring manager inevitably pronounces my name using the more common form, at what point do I correct them? Doing so up front feels like I might be starting off on the wrong foot (“She kicked off the interview by correcting me!”), but waiting too long feels strange too.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Can you pre-empt them? Say “Hi, I’m Deena” as soon as you walk into the room?

      If I were interviewing someone and I was pronouncing their name wrong, I’d want to know as soon as possible. I wouldn’t want to make them uncomfortable!

      1. I Forget Nothing*

        That seems reasonable! All my interviews have been virtual (I’ve been WFH since 2014 and am only looking for other remote work at this point), but next time I think right away is the way to go. In my most recent interview, I was flustered by technical difficulties at the start, but if I get a second interview (fingers crossed!), I’ll mention it then.

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I have a similar issue (except my name is an uncommon/made-up one, but the “ee” vs “eye” thing is the same). My email sig has the pronunciation of my name in and I have also set my Zoom name to display it, like “Dina (“Deena”) Warbleworth”. I find that it helps, because most people see my name written long before they meet me and by then the wrong pronunciation is set in their minds & harder to correct.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Correct them at the first opportunity or just intro yourself by name. I feel bad learning later down the line (either time wouldn’t reflect poorly on the candidate, though!).

      1. I Forget Nothing*

        This is good to know too! I was worried that not saying anything during my first interview and then saying something later was *also* not great. (But then if I get hired, would I just go by Dinah forever in that scenario? Yeesh.)

    3. londonedit*

      I’d do it immediately – just make sure you keep your tone light, like ‘Oh, it’s actually Deena – really nice to meet you!’ Just correct them in the moment, and move on like it’s no big deal.

      1. Squirrel Nut Zippers*

        This is exactly what I do with my name, which is similar to the Dinah/Deena scenario. I’ve never gotten any negative reactions and don’t think it hurt my chances in interviews. Better to get it corrected straightaway so there’s no embarrassment if you try to correct it later.

    4. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Correct right away! If your tone is cheerful and matter-of-fact, it will be fine. This is your name, the committee will want to get it right! If you want to soften it, you could say something like, “I know many other people with my name pronounce it Dinah, but I go by Deena.”

      1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

        Also, when you schedule the interview, could you mention your name pronunciation then?

    5. Wednesday*

      I like the suggestion of introducing yourself first if you can, but if not it’s perfectly fine to say “It’s actually Dinah, but I get that all the time!” That’s always worked for my name being mispronounced (first AND last!)

    6. Dovasary Balitang*

      Ideally, an interviewer will recognise that when it comes to your own name, you’re the expert! I don’t think you’ll have to worry too much about this.

      1. Chirpy*

        I usually just say, “Oh, it’s actually pronounced X” and hopefully continue on with the conversation.

        I’ve had SO many people argue about my name being “wrong” when I do correct them, though…yes, I know my own name, even if they’ve never heard it before…

    7. AllTheBirds*

      My name is constantly mispronounced. When I hear the very first occurrence, I say “Actually, it’s pronounced PERSEFONEE” with a big smile and positive nod.

      It’s my name, I’d rather people know immediately,

      1. Chirpy*

        It’s perpetual whack-a-mole if you don’t immediately correct people, and the mispronunciation spreads…

    8. My Brain is Exploding*

      As soon as you introduce yourself, insert a memory link of some sort. “Hi, my name is Dinah, with a long e, like dependable.” (Not the best example. Haven’t had coffee this morning. )

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      “Actually, it’s Deena” said with a smile is not starting off on the wrong foot at all. Especially if you add a little joke about your parents making it hard or something. Letting me go through the entire interview (or even a part of it) mispronouncing your name would be worse — it would make me have serious reservations about your ability to speak up about even minor issues.

      1. Kay*

        My first thought was concern about someone not being able to speak up. I fully understand interviewing is stressful, but for so many roles the ability to speak up and address issues are key parts of the job – plus confidence is a good thing.

    10. anywhere but here*

      I conduct a lot of interviews, and I always check with the person if it’s a name I am unfamiliar with to make sure I’ve pronounced it correctly. I sometimes ask about names with multiple pronunciations, but not always (especially if I’m only aware of one pronunciation). I would always want to be corrected right away, though! If someone is named Dee-na, I’m calling her by the wrong name if I say Di-nah. Sometimes it takes a few tries for me to remember which variant of the name it is, and in those cases I am very appreciative of the person for correcting/reminding me.

    11. The Ginger Ginger*

      I usually answer my phone for calls with “This is Ginger” in a really friendly tone (sometimes if I say hello this is…they here hello and jump in over the rest, so I keep the tone warm so it doesn’t sound too brusque – the greeting gymnastics lol). If you’re dealing with a phone call, that would get your name in right out the gate. If they say “I’m looking for Dinah” it could be as easy, as “oh it’s Deena, and you’ve found me!” I think as long as you keep the tone friendly, you just need to do it immediately. As someone who’s name frequently sounds like other entirely different names on the phone (or in writing), just immediate correction in a friendly tone. It’s actually more embarrassing for people to feel like they’ve been wrong for a long time. It’s kinder to correct immediately.

    12. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I have something similar and people will overcorrect on my name.

      Like if my name was Alanna, people will say Alayna. Then I’ll say it’s Alanna, and then they overcorrect and say “Alahhna”.

      I correct it the first time and then just let it go after a while; the only time it gets under my skin (and it really gets under my skin) is when people overuse my name in an attempt to be friendly (I guess) but mispronounce it every time. It comes across as an outdated rapport-building sales technique when they do it poorly.

      I had a medical provider like that. Drove me nuts. They never seemed to hear when I corrected them, either.

    13. Extra anony*

      Do it immediately! My dad once went through an entire tennis round robin tournament with someone calling him the wrong name, and when they eventually found out they got really annoyed he hadn’t corrected them. I have a semi-tricky last name and when it’s mispronounced I’ll just say, “oh, it’s (correct pronunciation)” and it’s never an issue.

  26. Too Hot*

    Does anyone else work at a workplace with a rigid and limited “air conditioning season” and is struggling with unseasonably warm weather in April?

    I work as a public-facing municipal employee in a city (northeastern US) where it apparently is only legal for municipal buildings to use air conditioning between Memorial Day and the last week of September. Last week, our city had an early-season heatwave and broke 85 degrees three days in a row. Our building has few windows that open and gets baked by the sun in the afternoon, and, per city ordinance, the air conditioning was not activated. For three consecutive days, it reached 83, 87, and 91 degrees in our building. On the second day I had to go home sick with heat exhaustion symptoms. I didn’t fare much better on day three. 

    Our workplace’s administration has been unsympathetic to us, saying we have to wait until May 31 and to be patient so as not to run afoul of the city during budget negotiation season. I asked about this in a supervisors’ meeting and got rebuked, since our agency is already in line for a dramatic budget cut (which we are advocating to reverse) and will not risk agitating the city by asking them for expensive updates to their energy usage guidelines. (I wrote to my city council representative on my own about this, saying that the current guidelines aren’t realistic for the age of global warming, and got no response. And my union is aware of the conditions and either can’t or won’t do anything.)

    Is this par for the course when you work for a city, especially one that is grappling with an austerity budget? Or is this bonkers?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I had this situation working on an Air Force base. Government bureaucracy can be amazingly inflexible on this kind of thing.

      It may also be due to infrastructure – most of the campus used central steam heating, and you can’t just turn those systems on and off every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large government building in a large northeastern city had similarly creaky infrastructure.

      1. Too Hot*

        You guessed correctly; our facility has an archaic steam heat system (it was turned off a day before the heat wave hit, so it was probably not a major contributor to the building’s high temperatures). But other branches of the same agency have more modern HVAC systems and didn’t receive cooling either.

      2. GythaOgden*

        Same here in Facilities for two brick British Victorian houses converted into offices with a 30 year old modern building connecting them. We have to have someone come out to turn heating on and off centrally and once it’s off, it’s off. People have been complaining it’s like a sauna in the building, but with our April actually being colder and wetter than normal, we’re hesitant to call the boiler guy out just yet.

    2. Abyssal*

      I’m pretty sure OSHA has guidelines for temperature in workspaces! That should trump city energy use guidelines, I should think — they don’t get to insist on unsafe working conditions.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        This! I worked in a retail store one summer during college and the AC went out. We were all watching the temperature gauge because we were told that it couldn’t get above 77 degrees.

        Having an office that is 90 degrees seems very unsafe, for both people and office equipment.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Same in the UK — no max temperature but a minimum. (Possibly on the grounds that it’s thermodynamically easier to heat things up than cool them down. Most places here don’t have AC, so sucks to be you working in a glass-fronted south-facing building in August but that’s what I had to do in one voluntary position with a political party while at uni. The atrium I currently work in is, thankfully, north facing, so I’m not looking to do dreadful things to the architect…) My dad is a retired civil engineer and used to get frustrated that the general shutdown was over Christmas when in reality he and his workers could have done with a few days off a month later when it got much colder.

          It’s a problem — however, if construction stops, it’s not a huge deal. Unfortunately, some other services e.g. health etc have to keep going (yeah, even me in health business admin). We didn’t even stop for the general mass lockdown in early 2020; I got dispensation for my commute and took it as sick leave (because just the thought of how I was going to get to work after talks about the French and Spanish needing proof that they needed to travel coupled with many fewer trains on my local line pushed me into panic attacks) but my co-receptionist worked right through as she was a ten minute walk away from work.

          So unfortunately it might be really hard simply to close the affected offices like we do with construction workers. One of the drawbacks of living in an ‘always on’ society is that there are a lot of workers who can’t just stop when the thermometer hits a certain point.

          In any event, I’m sending you all hope that things get sorted soon. Today where I work the max temperature is 10 Celsius (not sure what that is in F but obviously 0 Celsius is freezing and the min temperature is 1C so…Not Very Warm At All). If I could even things out, it would benefit all of us!

    3. Gracely*

      That’s insane (but I live in the South, where it sometimes hits the 80s in January). Can you at least buy a fan to have by your desk? Air circulation can really help. Especially if paired with a bowl of ice sitting in front of it.

      1. Too Hot*

        I have a fan; I never considered the ice. I will try that the next time it gets hot here. Thank you.

    4. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      It’s bonkers. Call OSHA and report an unsafe workplace. Going home with heat exhaustion symptoms qualifies you to make that call. And whoever told you it’s “not legal” to use AC at certain times is also bonkers.

      1. snorpsnip*

        There could easily be local legislation regarding AC use in municipal or city-owned buildings.

    5. TX_Trucker*

      My first career was in municipal government, and air-conditioning policies are bonkers, AND were incredibly common; at least 20 years ago they were and I hope they have gotten better. For all those mentioning OSHA, most governments are exempt from federal OSHA regulations, though state rules may apply. Also, it wasn’t until 2021 that OSHA actually started working on a heat standard. I’m not sure if it’s an actual requirement yet, or still in the recommendation phase. In absence of actual regulations, the only thing that applies is the vague General Duty Clause that requires a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.”

      1. Too Hot*

        How interesting. Thank you. In response to your and other comments about OSHA, the government exemption may explain why OSHA never responded (to my knowledge) to several of my colleagues’ complaints when we were asked to work in 90+ degree indoor conditions years ago. This was pre-2021, so I wonder if it’s worth trying again, but honestly I’m not hopeful.

    6. BRR*

      I’ve worked places where it’s a big process to switch between heat and A/C so it only happens once a year. The two issues that are inevitable are that you can’t accurately predict when the weather turns hot/cold and it’s never a clean transition between hot and cold weather. So while not budget reasons, I’ve been through it and it’s awful.

      I’ve found success sometimes by asking about the problem instead of asking about the (obvious) solution. Instead of asking to turn on the A/C, I would try stating the broader issue, “It’s 91 degrees in here, what can we do about it?”

      My office’s A/C was broken for awhile and what I gathered from some online research, federal OHSA rules don’t have office temperature rules, only guidelines. Some states have OSHA-approved plans though that apply to state and local government workplaces so I would do a search for your state to see if there are different rules and if there are, do they include office temperature.

      I’d also keep pressuring your union. If you have coworkers in your office who are also in the union, definitely do it together. Approach management as a group as well.

    7. Managercanuck*


      We actually have the opposite problem in our office. Eastern Ontario had that heat wave too, and so they turned the building heat off and the AC on. Since then, we’ve been back to normal April weather (mid teens C at most), and so it’s been freezing!

      By contrast, my husband’s office (government building) is consistently at least 25 degrees C and no one seems to be able to fix it.

    8. Anono-me*

      Since you are public facing. I am sure that many of your clients are impacted by the heat also. Is there any way to subtlety encourage them to advocate for AC/complain to the keeper of the thermostat ? For example when a client says something about the heat; maybe respond “Yes, I know, but Council Member Smith said it is policy not to turn the AC on until Memorial Day. The ones that I really feel bad for are the little kids im the school. That was CM Pat Smith at 654-3210.”

      Also , a plea to everyone that hears some version of this-Please spontaneously and independently complain to management.

    9. JustaRando*

      If it is in your budget (personal or work) I would suggest getting a personal air conditioner, like the kind you wear around your neck if you move around a lot, or the small square desktop kind if you primarily sit at a desk all day. A quick google search found one of each kind between $30-60.
      If those are not an option for you, then adding a wet bandana around your neck to the bowl-of-ice-and-desk-fan combo might work well enough to keep your body temperature down.
      And of course, drink lots of cold water!
      I am sorry you have to suffer through that, sounds awful.

  27. Keener*

    I am looking for headphone recommendations to use for Teams calls in an open plan office. I have a 2018 or 2019 pair of Beats Studio 3 Noise cancelling headphone that are comfortable and generally work well, but in a loud environment they pick up a lot of background noise.

    I am looking for something with the following features:
    -Over ear
    -Noise cancellation for the sounds I am hearing
    -Noise cancellation for the microphone (i.e. transmitting less background noise to others in the call).
    Any recommendations?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know if they’ve changed the design or anything, but I have Beats 3 that I got in 2021 and they don’t seem to pick up and transmit near as much background noise as you’re describing — like, I’ve had 165 pounds of dog playing tug literally under my desk during meetings with play-growling and pouncing at each other, and when I apologize for it, people tell me they can’t hear any of it. (And I know from experience that these coworkers wouldn’t tell me they couldn’t hear it just to be nice if they really could.)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I really love my Bose 700s, though I haven’t worn them in meetings yet (I have a home office). I was looking into them but went for it when a client had them and I heard nothing from her end except her voice. She said she and her husband work in the same space and when they’re both on calls they do just fine. I would get other opinions, but look into those. They’re specifically designed to work well with Teams and Zoom.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      I have two different generations of the Bose over ear headsets and they do a great job of canceling noise (sirens, construction, barking animals). But—and it’s a big but—they seem to amplify voices that are also in the room. Not to me, the wearer, but to others on the meeting call.

      Apparently the mic is really really good and it “thinks” my open-office office mates should be included in all meetings—including the ones meant only for me.

      Simple solution is to just stay on mute until I’m ready to speak—that way the others in the meeting don’t hear my neighbors (I never hear them).

      1. Keener*

        I agree that most headphones do a great job of cancelling noise. My specific issue is that my current headphones seem to do exactly as you describe and amplify voices that are also in the room to others on the call.

        Unfortunately, in many of my meetings I am talking a substantial amount of time. So while I use mute when I am not speaking I have to be unmuted a lot of the meeting and this is where I am having the challenge.

    4. Firecat*

      Teams has a built in noise cancellation feature that works great with headsets. it even cancells out my cat meowing at my face.

      Any chance you can get a work headset ordered for you? it’s not something you should be covering on your own.

      1. Keener*

        I already use the Teams noise cancellation. It might work great for things like cats meowing, but its not doing the trick for background voices. I often have other people on the call commenting on the noise.

        I am likely to get my preferred headphones covered. This wasn’t a question about who should pay.

    5. sneepsnorp*

      Ignore if you are already aware of this but – on Team specifically, the mic defaults to computer/system speakers, even if your audio is set to headphones. If I had to guess, this is a Teams setting issue, not a Beats problem.

      1. Keener*

        I am aware of this and check/adjust this setting. It is definitely an issue with the combination of the my headphones and my office environment.

    6. GraceC*

      Our company bought everyone Jabra Evolve headsets, not sure which model – we’ve all found they work well in an open office, both on the quieter days and when you’re sat in the middle of the client-facing teams with them all talking

    7. Lucky Meas*

      If you can afford it, the Sony WH-1000XM series is great. Don’t be distracted by the gibberish name!

  28. Hanani*

    I’d appreciate suggestions on managing my own frustrations about a colleague. I work with “Jim”, who is a very nice man, who is excellent at his job, and whose working style does not mesh at all with mine. Normally this isn’t a problem, but we now work together with some regularity, and we manage to cause a lot of stress and anxiety in one another as a result.

    We’re actually meeting on Monday to talk about how to navigate our very different personalities and working styles, and we both recognize it an issue. We like one another as people and deeply respect one another’s work, and I am confident that we’ll come to a reasonable place together. I’m also confident that I’m going to have to do some ongoing work to manage my frustration, because our differences are the type that just really rub against one another.

    So, what techniques have you used to manage your feelings about a colleague who is great but who frustrates you?

    1. Still not picked a username*

      I can greatly reduce my own emotional response to somebody doing something by having a script in my head that basically says “oh yeah, that’s how Jim’s brain is wired up” , which means it’s not a choice made by him and it’s not personal at me.

      1. Hanani*

        I like that script for myself, thank you. I know he’s not doing anything AT me, and it’s good to remind myself of that.

      1. Hanani*

        I’m a Planner – I always have agendas, I’m into details, I have “make a to-do list” as the first thing on my to-do list every day, I love schedules, and I get stressed when those things don’t exist or change on the fly. Jim is a Dreamer – he’s totally comfortable with and prefers spontaneity, he’s always imagining new or different ways to do things, he’s into big picture, he often feels uncomfortable and constrained by schedules.

        His job involves connecting people and imagining creative new possibilities, so the way his brain works is an asset – he sees connections that other people don’t. My job is much more about process and detail and planning, so the way my brain works is an asset. Working alone, we can do projects in our different ways just fine. Put us together on a project that has things like deadlines and the need to coordinate who is communicating what to whom, and we are both made anxious and stressed by the other’s way of working.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          So, my first thought is, would it help if you two more frequently?

          I was in a similar situation (Planner me and Dreamer coworker), though we never figured it out (coworker was neither excellent at their job, nor were they pleasant). ANYWAYS, in hindsight, meeting regularly and regularly could have helped us both. As a Planner, keeps me up-to-date on any spontaneous changes. As a Dreamer, could give coworker time for relationship-building and brainstorming.

          Also, Planner+Dreamer are really complementary because they are so different. As part of your discussion, share what you admire about one another, with the internal framing of “What can I learn from you?” Note, learning from someone is NOT teaching someone (to avoid pitfall of one of you feeling like there’s an opening to mentor the other, which would probably cause more tension).

          1. Hanani*

            I’ve often been on a dream team with a Dreamer! Looking back, that’s been in situations where either a) we were already friends, b) I took on all the admin work (not sustainable long-term), or c) that particular Dreamer could manage some admin work.

            All of which points to the idea that more time spent together and more meetings (vs emails/intranet messages) will help, plus our planned hashing-it-out meeting to get in a better space in terms of sharing the admin load.

        2. My Useless 2 Cents*

          Work together to figure out what are hard deadlines and what are soft deadlines. Jim can work on making sure he keeps to the agreed upon hard deadlines. Don’t try and keep Jim to all the soft deadlines as that will just be an exercise in frustration for both of you.

          I’d also schedule into your planning… additional planning time and check-ups. So say, set aside a half hour at the end of each day for re-working the schedule you’ve created to somewhat accommodate Jim’s tangents. Or to check-in with each other for your own peace of mind.

          The thought being that it can ease anxiety and stress on your end knowing that you have that extra time built into your schedule and it doesn’t feel like you are taking away from X to reimagine Y. I like working to my own self-determined schedule and my anxiety definitely goes thru the roof when coworkers try and mess with that schedule for (in my mind) no good reason. Making sure I have free time in my schedule has helped immensely with my mental health and my ability to just “go with the flow”.

    2. T. Wanderer*

      For me the trick is to talk to them MORE, about non-work things — especially if you like each other as people! It’s a lot easier to keep your cool when you’re talking to “my buddy Jim, who has some annoying work habits” vs. “my annoying coworker Jim, who’s really a nice person”.

    3. 21st of September*

      I think I have some similar meetings coming up in my future, so if you feel comfortable giving an update on how it went next week, I would be grateful.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      I read something great a while ago, about replacing the “but” with “and.” As in: I work with Jim, who is very nice, who is excellent at his job, and we manage to cause a lot of stress and anxiety in one another. Something about that reframing helps.

  29. Eether Eyether*

    Happy Friday, all! I am retiring at the end of June (YAY!) after 17 years in my current job and we are starting to interview for my replacement. My boss wants me to talk to the candidates. Any ideas on what to ask? I am more of a casual “let’s chat” person and that has worked well in the past when interviewing attorneys. It gives me insight into their personality and makes it easier to determine if they would be a good fit to the dept. I am a legal admin in a 3 atty, 1 admin, inhouse legal dept if that helps. Thanks and have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Colette*

      What are the challenging parts of your job? I’m assuming things like managing competing priorities, handling urgent issues, etc. I’d ask them about their experience with that, and be clear what the job actually entails. You want to get an idea of who they are but you also want to make sure they understand what they’d be getting in to.

    2. L. Bennett*

      Think about what parts of your job are the most challenging and what is necessary to be successful in the role, then you should be able to form questions to determine if someone has those traits. You can also pull scenarios directly from your experience and ask the candidates how they would have handled them. Hope that’s helpful!

    3. Jinni*

      How are they at working with multiple personalities/priorities? This was the biggest issue with legal admins in my experience. Some attorneys are way more…forceful…than others and making sure that one attorney didn’t dominate an admins time was an issue. Sometimes admins wouldn’t push back sufficiently or communicate about having too much on their plates.

  30. Strawberry Fields*

    I work for a large school district. We’re a small department and everyone is doing the work of 2 to 3 people. My boss’s management style is to assign multiple projects to us. She brags about how we never have any downtime in our department.

    I have weekly meetings with boss and manager. She calls it “check in” meetings, yet lately it seems like she is on my case about little things. ie: A google sheet wasn’t filled out. (Turns out I had filled it out, boss was looking at incorrect sheet.) My boss then said that webpage links were missing but it’s on something she didn’t want to use originally.

    It’s like she’s looking for something that I’m supposedly doing wrong. I feel targeted because she’s not doing this with anyone else.

    Any thoughts?

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Ask her in writing what projects to put on the back burner while you comb over the others with a fine tooth comb.

    2. T. Wanderer*

      Is this boss a different person than your manager? If so, ask the manager! If not, try asking someone else a level up from you. “In our weekly meetings, lately Boss has been really attentive to little errors that are usually misunderstandings and not errors at all. Do you know anything about why?”

      1. T. Wanderer*

        Or just ask her directly, actually. “I’ve noticed this — do you have any concerns with my work?”

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      How would your boss react/respond to you asking about the purpose of the meetings?

      In my experience, “check-in” makes me think it’s time my boss has set aside for us to discuss topics I want to bring, with occassional stuff they need to bring up. That intent, though, is set when we setup the meeting series. So would it help to align on the purpose of these meetings, so you know what to expect?

      1. Strawberry Fields*

        My boss is very…. reactive, so I’m not sure how she would respond to this. I would have to phrase it very delicately if I did bring it up.

  31. toteballs*

    At last I have a question for you lovely people!

    A Very Senior Person from my Very Large Company approached me yesterday to say essentially: “I’d like you to work in my part of the business – what job do you want?”. I very much want to move to his part of the business so this is excellent news for me. The problem is that my field is a kind of Finance/IT crossover and roles are evolving all the time, and he doesn’t have a current list of vacancies I can choose from. I therefore need to come up with a role to pitch to him! How would you approach this?

    1. Still not picked a username*

      Can you talk to the VSP or an assistant about what they feel they are missing in your area at the minute, while also working out what parts of your job you would like to do more of and what you’d like to get away from, and see if you can marry the two together?

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Do you know anyone else who. works for Very Senior Person? Executive assistant, deputy, special project coordinator? You can certainly talk to those people for ideas.

      Also, you don’t have to look at open positions. Look at filled positions. If VSP has 5 project managers, you can say “I’d like to join your group of project managers”, and then throw in anything unique you bring to the table that would add value. The others are X, but you are Y, so you might be able to get up to speed on some projects faster than they could.

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      I personally would search roles/job descriptions from other companies and cobble together the parts and title I want.

    4. Dovasary Balitang*

      Make a list of tasks you enjoy, projects you’re passionate about, changes you’d like to see in how your company operates, etc., and then go from there. If the person is essentially asking you to custom-build your dream role, then take the opportunity to custom-build your dream role!

  32. Epsilon Delta*

    Have you switched from working in a corporate/for profit environment to a non-profit? What was the transition like? Is there anything you wish you’d known?

    I know that “for profit” and “non profit” are both huge categories with a lot of variability, but I would be interested in hearing about all types of experiences.

    1. OldLady*

      Yes, I made this switch. I guess the thing that most surprised me was that the corporate environment was very strict and. That was the norm and I was used to that I was Infosystems adjacent.So obviously lots of structure around making adjustments in the HRIS system etc. this is more “relaxed” It’s definitely a more relaxed environment in general. Which is good and bad. In some ways I didn’t realize how overly structured things were in the corporate environment versus the nonprofit world. And in general, I find the employees of the nonprofit are more forgiving of mistakes than they ever were in the corporate world.

    2. BadCultureFit*

      I’ve spent my whole career in for-profits, and last year switched to non-profit. It was a freaking nightmare. I’ve already quit.

      I know some of the reasons I hated it are pretty general across most progressive non-profits, but some are likely just a unique case of dysfunction at that particular organization. That said, it’s made me gun-shy for sure. I don’t imagine I’ll ever actively seek out a non-profit again, but I’d be open to one that’s an exact match to my passions.

  33. Job Seeker*

    What sites do you use for searching or posting jobs? Especially if you are in the tech space

    I’ve been searching on LinkedIn and Glassdoor but it returns an insane number of results (500-1000) to sort through. Tons of them aren’t even relevant, like I’m searching for a software engineer position and it returns project manager, professor, director of a hospital (non-tech department). Or it advertises as an on-site position in my city but turns out to be located out of state. It’s a lot to slog through on the basics of location and job title, before we even get to reading through the position to see if it would be interesting or if they use a tech stack I like.

    I have always been actively recruited for my whole career so I’m new to searching for myself. StackOverflow shut down their job board, that was the most useful one that I used to know about.

    1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch* has roles from companies that are at least pretending to care about DEI!

    2. North Wind*

      I’m also in tech, and was job searching earlier this year. In addition to the ones mentioned above, I signed up with ZipRecruiter, Monster, and FlexJobs (I was looking for 100% remote). I definitely signed up with an email address I use only for junk mail and potential spam :). I received a lot of emails from recruiters with unrelated positions, but I could pretty well weed those out from the email subject line.

      I did see some interesting opportunities from those places, but ended up with a job from LinkedIn (a recruiter got in touch with me).

  34. Bleh Technology*

    (1) I’ve been applying to jobs and have been seeing a trend of where the applications asks you to upload a resume. It doesn’t ask for a cover letter separately, only a resume. But even after uploading a resume, you’re still able to upload other files, but the space only asks for your resume.

    Do you only submit a resume, or upload a cover letter as well, even though it doesn’t ask for one? This is different where it asks you separately to submit a cover letter

    (2) When companies use applicant tracking software (ATS), is there a certain percentage of a match they are looking for? Example, everything below 50% they toss out? Is there a tool that can help you improve your resume for this?

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      It depends on the application. If I apply for a job through Indeed, and the application process is fostered directly through the site (easily apply, as they call it, as opposed to redirecting to a third party website), I generally don’t include a cover letter. My last two jobs, I got through this – I’m not going to waste my time submitting unasked for documentation. I figure any job that would test me by expecting me to read their minds and submit a cover letter they don’t clearly or explicitly ask for is a job I won’t enjoy in the long run.

    2. ecnaseener*

      1) You definitely *can* upload it, if you think it will help you. (Even if it only allows one file, you can always save the CL + resume as one file.) I’m a fan of it whenever your resume isn’t totally self-explanatory — like if you’re not an experienced teapot painter applying for a teapot painter job.

    3. Aitch Arr*

      We don’t use the match percentage function in our ATS.

      If there are ‘knock out’ questions or experience, we’ll ask those as screening questions. If the candidate doesn’t answer the questions in a way that meets our minimum criteria, the resume goes into a category called ‘Did Not Qualify.’ Recruiters can still view all resumes in the DNQ category, no one gets ‘deleted.’

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      I don’t think there’s ever a downside to submitting a cover letter! If there isn’t a space to upload other files, I’ll combine my cover letter and resume into one pdf file. But if they’ve left an option to upload additional files, there’s no harm in uploading it there, it seems like that’s what that space is there for.

    5. Qwerty*

      I would combine it into one pdf unless there is a specific spot for the cover letter.

      My reasoning is that the resume is likely to be sent to the interviewer but I don’t know what they will be doing with the non-resume docs. I’d rather the interviewers also saw the cover letter rather than just the initial recruiter or HR person. As someone who does interview and rarely gets to see a cover letter, it does help me be better prepared to interview the candidate than skimming the resume and mentally composing what *I* think their experience is.

    6. Zebydeb*

      Personally, if I didn’t ask for a document from applicants, I didn’t want it. We ask for a CV and answers to three questions. Uploading a letter as well just adds to my workload of reviewing the applications.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That’s assuming you have control over your company’s application system though! As the applicant, you can’t really assume that the hiring manager chose not to have a cover letter field.

    7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Ugh one day I’m going to have to explain that my barriers are things like ‘ I thought too hard and now my head feels painful in a way unhelped by meds’ or ‘ it’s a bad work day but I didn’t feel like calling off because I thought I would feel better after coffee ‘

  35. Commiserate around job searching*

    Hi all…how’s the job searching going, anyone want to commiserate? I’ve been looking for over 2 years….have had some interviews. It’s a slog, applying, screening, interviewing. Although to be honest I haven’t been applying to every role I see (only permanent ones as my current role is permanent too).

    1. rayray*

      It’s awful.

      It almost feels worse than when I was laid off in March 2020.

      Best of luck to you, I know my morale is down the drain, I hate my job and I am trying to get out but I feel as if I am not good enough for anything anymore.

      1. rayray*

        Just adding on here, hopefully someone with knowledge will see this –

        Is there anyway to see if something is wrong with my resume causing it to get zapped out over and over again? I have worked really hard on it, and I am confident that I demonstrate my experience and accomplishments/skills well. I even get rejected from postings that blatantly say they want good candidates so apply anyway even if you don’t hit every bullet point exactly. I am seriously wondering if something with the way it’s formatted or something is wrong. I have followed all the advice I can, put HOURS into it and have a template that was created by a recruiter – it’s a very simple template too but maybe the formatting is screwing up? I had to make slight adjustments to it so it was tailored to my experience but it still hits the points of all the advice I have seen (including from this site) on making a good resume.

        1. SummerSun*

          I was in the situation and I ended up sprinkling in the exact phrases from the job description into a few jobs and that seemed to work. This worked when I applied for the same type of job I had.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      It’s awful. LoL. I just graduated and I make more at my job (that I hate) than I can find using my bachelor’s degree. I started looking months before I graduated but didn’t get anything. I am starting to get some bites now that I officially am done but I feel like for everything I send out I get 1% back. It’s even more frustrating that all I hear is “No one wants to work anymore” when the jobs they put out require a Master’s and 5 years of experience and they pay less than I can make at a fast food job. It’s been a headache. And my job is causing my mental health to break down so badly that my physical health is being impacted. So I am getting a bit desperate, but not desperate enough to take a temporary job with a 50% pay decrease.

    3. JobHunter*

      I had a lot of interviews initially, but have since been ghosted several times. I have been asked for fewer and fewer phone screens the past few weeks, too. It has been difficult to compete with all my colleagues who also got laid off. My current choices are to take a position in a place with a much higher cost of living or take a survival job to stay where I’m at.

    4. PassThePeasPlease*

      I’m also really struggling in my search, compounded by the fact that I am trying to switch industries and I am getting no response to my applications whatsoever. Even roles in my current industry that I am getting responses to are moving at a truly snails pace (2+ weeks between a call with a hiring manager and feedback).

      I’m starting a group career coaching program next week so hoping that helps me get more clarity on what I want to do next.

      The last time I searched for a job was in Spring 2021 and practically had employers throwing themselves at me and got 2 offers in back to back succession one of which I took. I was hesitant to believe it but it is truly such a different job market this time around and I’m having trouble not feeling dejected.

    5. Courageous cat*

      Yep, got laid off about 4-5 weeks ago. It’s a struggle because I work in sort of a niche area in supply chain. I’ve had a ton of interviews, had to turn down like 3 jobs, and am still waiting to hear back on others. I was really confident when I first set out to job search, but now it’s kind of drying up and I’m getting nervous.

      One of the jobs I had to turn down because I wasn’t allowed to meet my potential coworkers as one of them was dying of alcoholism and it was impacting her work, so she was being replaced by me (red flags? everywhere?) and it would be too much drama for me to meet them. And the other, the boss openly and gleefully said “I’m VERY demanding” like 3 times throughout the course of the conversation. Like, please just kill me.

    6. Mimmy*

      I’m getting really discouraged with my search. It started off strong last summer/fall after graduating with my Masters but it’s fizzled out since then. My area of interest is niche, and if we move, it’s going to be where my husband grew up; therefore, my options are extremely limited. Meanwhile, I am getting really, really burned out on my job. Not so much because of the workload (though that’s now creeping back up), but because of overall frustrations with our management.

  36. Aarti*

    My coworkers are full of negativity, and rightfully so, but I am also tired of it. We have 3 peers in my team who all report to my boss, I am one of them. She is really unkind and micromanaging to them and mostly leaves me alone. I am extremely sympathetic! I get it! But after a point I feel like I can’t hash it out again. How many times do we need to talk about it? Also they care, I mean REALLY CARE, which means they fight with her about a lot of stuff. One of the reasons she doesn’t micromanage me as much is because I pick my battles and I let things go. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I am willing to try her way in most instances.
    Not really asking for advice, I am just tired of the negativity.

    1. Sorrischian*

      When I was in a similar situation, what ended up being really helpful was telling my coworkers something very similar to what you posted here, actually.
      Basically: “hey, I get it, I 100% sympathize and if there’s something specific you’d like me to *do*, I’m all ears. But I feel like talking in circles about it is making us all feel worse, so can we let the topic rest for a little while?”
      And then try to have some new conversational topic ready to go, so if they agree to drop it, you’re not just standing there in awkward silence.

    2. Qwerty*

      A phrase I used to use with my coworker was “I think we’re no longer venting and are amping ourselves up, so we need a subject change”. Then switch to swapping cat stories or some other topic that got us to laugh (and therefore feel better)

    3. Extra anony*

      I’ve been there. I had to take a break, to be honest – went out of the office at lunch, made up errands, because every conversation was a spiralling nightmare. Our boss did some crappy stuff, but like at a certain point, what can you do? Honestly, I would just become Suddenly Really Busy and try to detox from it for a bit. The other thing that helped was figuring out how to include people from other teams in social situations like lunch or after office happy hours where this complaining took hold. With other people who aren’t involved, it’s easier to change and stick to a new, non-boss-related topic of conversation.

    4. fgcommenter*

      Redirect the conversation to something actionable. “What can we do about it?”

      You say they really care, so if the boss is doing something harmful to the customers (sneakily written contracts, outright lying, etc.) or the workers (claiming there’s just no time for repairs and things will just have to degenerate into disaster before they can be fixed), you can brainstorm some activity to collectively engage in. You can look at her orders carefully to find loopholes that will let you actually give the customer what they thought they were getting or allow you to do the necessary repairs, and agree to cover for each other by claiming you all had the same (mis)understanding of what she wanted.

  37. Foila*

    Looking for advice as a third person in a situation with sexual harassment (not explicitly described).

    I’m hoping some of you good folk can help me. I work at a university in the sciences. About a year ago, one of the research groups that I interface with had a grad student leave (I’ll call her K). The departure was abrupt but honestly not surprising. She had been overburdened pretty severely by her research advisor. Not great.

    However, in the last couple weeks I heard that part of what drove her to leave was overt sexual harassment from a researcher she was collaborating with. This took place during a field study. The researcher was not K’s advisor, but she was pretty dependent on his skill and assistance for this project. The harassment took place in private. What little I know was told to me by another student in K’s former group.

    So now my dilemma is what to do with this. I’d like to do better than just passing it through the whisper network, but I’m not sure what my best official course of action would be. K is totally out of the picture, and it feels like it would be a violation to drag her back in. The Researcher however, is still collaborating with this group. So doing nothing feels like shielding a problem.

    I’m hesitant to take this to K’s former advisor. Mainly because K didn’t tell Advisor herself. But also the student who passed this to me is still in Advisor’s group. Advisor is … unpredictable, at best. I do not want Advisor going and badgering this current student, and I don’t really trust him to handle this well.

    I guess the best outcome I can picture would be for me to submit a report to the university’s OIEC. I’m fine with giving them my name and so on if I can leave K anonymous. I don’t expect there to be any action from this, but maybe the next time it happens there will be a record of the pattern.

    Has anyone else ever been in a similar situation? Is there a better path than going to the OIEC?

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Definitely report to the OIEC to start the file. The OIEC will need to investigate as well. Also, would the other student who told you about this be willing to file anonymously as well? And who is the researcher’s boss? Would you feel comfortable taking this report to them?

    2. AlabamaAnonymous*

      If you are in the US, unless you are in one of the few roles where confidentiality is required (like a counselor), I’m pretty sure that you are a mandated reporter and so are required to report what you know to your institution’s Title IX coordinator. (That may be what the OIEC office is? I don’t know). At least, that’s my understanding from the training I’ve received as a higher ed staffer. I would suggest going back to the student who told you about the harassment and seeing if you can get them to report what happened. (You could even offer to go with them to report it.) That would be the best case scenario, I think, since they are the ones with the direct knowledge. If not, I would go back to that student to let them know that you are going to report what you know. Your institution should have a Title IX webpage that gives more information about how to report and who to report to.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Go thru the university. Don’t try to handle yourself or with her former advisor. The university can investigate if it was gossip or legit and can formally reach out to K and ask if she wants to pursue it. You have no way to bring consequences to the one who did the harassment, the university does.

    4. HR Newbie*

      I’ve only recently added HR to my work portfolio, and I’m still learning, so this may be off base. But here’s my understanding of what I’ve learned so far.

      If I’m reading your post right, you have no direct knowledge of the harassment; you heard about it. You didn’t say how many steps you are removed from the actual incident(s). Did the person who told you witness it or hear about it directly from K? Or were they also passing along something they’d heard?

      I don’t say this to in any way diminish the importance of combating sexual harassment. But if the university is going to launch an investigation, they are going to need to talk to the person you heard it from, and so on up the chain, until they get to a person with first-hand knowledge of the incident(s).

      At the very least, you ought to inform the person you heard it from that you’re reporting to the university, and that they can expect to hear from an investigator. But it will produce a speedier and more satisfactory outcome of the investigation if the person making the report is a person with direct knowledge of the incident. If you have any influence to bring that about (by talking to the person you heard it from and encouraging them to report or talk to the person they heard it from), I’d go that route.

    5. Nesprin*

      The title 9 office is the person you should be talking to.

      There’s a nonzero chance that the advisor already knows about the harassment, and a significant chance they’d handle this poorly.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        Exactly. In fact, you can call them with a “hypothetical” situation and ask what the various options are. Be sure to ask how much detail (names of people you heard it from for example) would need to be shared.

        If/when you report, I would heads-up the student who told you.

        Mandated reporter: check with your school, again, call the appropriate office and ask a hypothetical. If you call and block your number you can ask anonymously if you feel the need. This may or may not include hearsay about sexual harassment. (Yes, I understand it did really happen, but from your position it is hearsay and your obligation in such a situation may or may not require you to report)

        SHOULD you report? ethically, yes? but you may be worried about blowback, which is legit.

        Under no circumstances should you talk to the advisor. Or the student who has left.

      2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        yes straight to your title 9 person. every college in the US has one (I am assuming you are in the US of course)

    6. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      There is good practical advice in this thread so I just wanted to drop in and say I’ve been in some similar situations, and they are really hard and stressful and depressing and powerless-feeling. I have to keep reminding myself that even small actions help to change the giant system even if you don’t see much happening, but it never feels like enough. Talk to people, look after yourself, try to find something you can do collectively about the broader issue, because it sounds like getting action on the specific case here will be hard if not impossible. It’s AWESOME that you’re doing something and you’re a superhero, but it probably won’t feel like that.

      The other thing I’ve learned is be SCRUPULOUS about going by the book and using the most formal, visible, documented routes possible – I’ve seen two processes fail to protect people because I tried a frank yet informal conversation with the staff member before launching a formal process (this is recommended in our policy) and they then lodged complaints about this and stymied the formal process. (Neither of these were sexual harassment cases, by the way, which go through a different route here – I’m not in the US).

    7. Bart*

      You need to report this to your Title IX coordinator. Do not try to handle this yourself by “warning” anyone. Trust the process.

  38. The Prettiest Curse*

    This week, I went to a panel discussion with leaders in the events industry, and the phone of a panel member started ringing. (He checked his phone and it obviously wasn’t some kind of emergency, because he didn’t leave.) I was pretty surprised that an events person wouldn’t at least put their phone on vibrate for the duration of the event.

    So, this made me wonder – what have been your “we should know better because we do this for a living” moments? My own events mistake is that last year I had to print badges for 2 events on consecutive days, many of the attendees were going to both events – and I somehow didn’t have the badges printed separately, therefore making my pre-event time crunch much worse because we had to separate them out. Never again!

    1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Just because THAT call was not an emergency doesn’t mean he did not have it on in case of emergency. I have a situation right now where I need to be reachable 24/7 and from numbers that I can not pre-program to allow through. My phone is on at work, even though our culture is silent. Vibrate is preferred but I have noticed that vibration can get missed unless I am wearing my phone jusssst right.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I don’t care what people do with their ringtone at the office, but if you’re being paid by the organisers of an event to be there and people have paid (or just taken the time) to come and see you speak in person, you really should give the audience the courtesy of your undivided attention. As an event organiser, I’ve had speakers pull out at the last minute due to emergencies, and I don’t mind (and audience members generally don’t either), because there’s a recognition that people do have personal or work emergencies that can pull them away at the last minute.

        But if you really can’t put your phone on vibrate or silent for the duration of your time on stage, don’t go on stage. People in the performing arts seem to manage to do this, so others can too. One way I have seen people handle this is to have a designated person to contact if an emergency does arise, so that person can then alert the speaker/performer as necessary. That’s a lot less disruptive than a ringtone, and a lot more considerate to the audience.

    2. Cj*

      Maybe there was a possibility that he could get an emergency call, so he had to leave it on, and the call he got didn’t happen to be an emergency.

      If you knew who the emergency call would come from, I’m pretty sure you can set your phone to ring for just certain numbers, but I can imagine situations where you wouldn’t know who would be calling.

    3. Anonymous, obviously*

      Just this week we went to a division end-of-year event, which we were told last minute was required and we were to suspend any services in order to attend (last week of classes, unbelievable!) If it was your WFH day, too bad — come in for this absolutely required and important event (the usual speeches, self-congratulation, awards)

      I sat a ways up in the audience. The dean –the one who had told us, suspend services and show up — was on her phone during a good half of the event. Everyone who was sitting above her could see it.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Teachers make terrible students. Every time I’m in a training or meeting I swear 90% of us are “those kids” who want to sit in the back and gossip with friends, even when it’s a class we chose to attend. Also, it’s hilarious how often I’ve been in “here’s how to make your lessons more engaging and interactive!” type sessions that are just someone reading off a very wordy PowerPoint.

  39. kjack*

    I have an update to a previous Friday open thread question if that’s allowed. About a month ago, I wrote in about a male coworker making comments about my cooking for him in a way that I couldn’t tell if it was sexist or not (I’ll share the link in a comment). I followed the advice I got here and things got…weird.

    Firstly, I tried the joking route, but perhaps my deadpan delivery (you can’t afford what I charge kind of joke) fell flat because he mostly just stared blankly at me. Then I tried the, oh, I can give you the recipe tack. That led to him launching into a sob story about how neither he nor his partner has a car at the moment so getting to grocery store is hard and istacart is so expensive, blah blah blah. At this point, I figured it was just something I’d have to put up with and did my best to tune it out.

    And then I switched meals. I had been making a stir-fry type meal, and changed to a Middle Eastern lentils and rice dish (mujadara). On my first day of bringing it, he made the same comments, but then also asked what it was. I told him and his reaction was blatantly racist. He started making derogatory comments about the Middle East, about folks from the Middle East, about Middle Eastern religions – the whole nine yards. He “joked” that I was being recruited into the Taliban(!) by eating “their” food (who knew lentils had that kind of power!).

    Moral of the story, I still have no answer on whether he meant his initial comments in a sexist way, but I had plenty of evidence that he sure meant the other things in a racist way, and went to HR for them to deal with it directly. To my knowledge, the outcome is still pending but I haven’t seen him in the communal break room since and have been able to enjoy my meals in relative peace. So…thanks for all the advice, regardless of what ended up happening!

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      wow! I thought lentils’ special power was that they’re high in both fiber and protein. Did not know they could do much else!

    2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Oh. My. God.

      Also seconding Samwise’s “mmmm” – my girlfriend makes a mean mjadra and leftovers are perfect work lunches.

  40. MissGirl*

    Is anyone else in tech being disrupted by layoffs? Whether you’ve been laid off or just worried about it, how are you handling it? What are you doing? What are people seeing out there? How are your companies doing? Are you proactively looking? Are you just glad to have a job?

    Last October my old company announced a 10% cut in staff. They allowed us to volunteer for a three-month package. I was bored and had a foot out the door so I accepted. I was able to find a “great” job in six weeks with a 25% increase in pay. During the interview, they went on about how great the company was doing and growing. I patted myself on the back for being so savvy in my career. Four weeks later 30% of the staff was laid off.

    I was saved but lost all faith in my company. I’m also a data analyst, so I see the dismal numbers and don’t feel secure in the future. I’m scared to leave though. I no longer trust my ability to discern if something is a good job. I’m worried about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I have ample savings so I’m prepared there.

    1. Jujyfruits*

      I was searching earlier this year and interviewed for a role that was lower pay and tons of 1-star Glassdoor reviews. In retrospect I wish I had just pulled out of consideration because there were so many red flags.

      I decided to stop searching because I don’t have the energy right now. And I don’t want to end up somewhere toxic.

      1. MissGirl*

        Yeah, my company is financially struggling but not toxic so that makes me not wanting to look.

    2. 21st of September*

      Wow, I was once in a situation where I had accepted a job but hadn’t started yet, and the company announced layoffs. All I can say is, yes, it is harrowing, but it might help to remember that companies sometimes do well in one area while doing poorly in others, and sometimes layoffs are more targeted to sectors/areas that are doing poorly.

  41. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    Is there some way to suggest that someone in charge of a project get some training on project management? Context: I’m in higher ed (but not an academic), I work with faculty, the PI leading a project I’m part of is totally unequipped to manage SMEs and vendors and timelines and it is (a) driving me crazy and (b) costing us money because meetings with a vendor go in endless spirals. Some of my coworkers are indulging his desire to bikeshed and every time I encounter this guy (whom I like personally and respect the hell out of as a scholar) I think longingly of the bottle of vodka in my liquor cabinet.

    1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      (Alternatively, any suggestions on letting go on my desire for this kind of project management? I’ve spent my career in higher ed, but mostly not working with faculty, and I recognize that scholars have a very specific culture, and it’s going to be on me to adapt to them rather than trying to impose, for example, Agile on them.)

      1. 21st of September*

        Try distinguishing between the parts that are a problem and the parts that just don’t meet your preference, then actively let go of worrying about the parts that just don’t meet your preference. I feel like costing you money is a problem, and you might approach that in a “hey, friend, I’ve noticed our costs really going up with these lengthy vendor meetings, can we talk about a way to reduce the costs?” sort of way. Then if they aren’t interested, at least you tried. They don’t see it as a problem, and you can move it into the parts that don’t meet your preference bucket.

    2. Nesprin*

      Academia does not select for management skills. And you’re not going to be able to suggest to a PI that they get management training and maintain any sort of good relationship.

      So focus on how this affects you and what you need. Is it a decision by date X? Is it a better list of requirements?

    3. Ranon*

      You can join my club where I advocate to random people that universities should have project management centers like they have writing centers so that research projects could actually get managed (I have nothing to do with academia but I know a project management knowledge gap when I see one).

      Commenters telling you this is just part of how the current system works are, indeed, correct. Remind yourself this person is a researcher, not a project manager, and the system has failed them too?

    4. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I’m an academic who leads projects badly! (It’s okay, I’m not your PI). Is there any way, instead of training him, you could offer him a part-time project manager, even like a couple of hours a week? Probably not because budgets etc. But I mention this because if he’s like me, he knows at least on some level that he doesn’t have these skills, and academics always love to get additional support/resources (and hate training). I’ve started asking who the project manager will be and if I can have targeted admin support for this specifically whenever I take on a new project now, but it took me YEARS to even really conceptualise that this was a “thing” and I could get help with it. Other commenters are 100% right that academics aren’t trained for management, and we sometimes don’t even really realise that there are ways of doing this stuff better!

  42. Cruciatus*

    I had my first video on demand interview last week. All that’s horrible about job interviews is made worse by then having to *watch the video you recorded or yourself giving an answer*. Oof.

    I get why employers would want to use these–gives you an easy way to weed people out but ugh, I would so much rather speak to people in person–see faces and body language, etc. I had the ability to re-record my videos but at a certain point you’re just like “I said what I said and we’re moving on to the next prompt!” It was supposed to take something like “30 minutes – 1 hour”. Well, 1.5 hours later…. The worst.

    1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Haha, interview on demand is terrible for the self-esteem. I accidentally selected ‘use this’ instead of ‘redo’ when I flubbed an answer. Whoever reviewed the video was treated to me saying to myself “Ooof, let’s try that again” just before I saved it!

      I got two more interviews for that position anyway. I guess it worked out?

      1. irene adler*

        It’s not always the content of your responses that moves the candidate to the next round of interviews.
        Your videoed responses are subjected to algorithms that measure various characteristics such as “tone of voice, word clusters and micro facial expressions with people who have previously been identified as high performers on the job.”

        Quote from:

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      I had to do a video intro for my online class and it was the worst. So much anxiety over a 60 second clip introducing myself and briefly mentioning my hobbies. I recorded it like 5 times. I shudder to imagine doing it for a job interview.

      1. Mimmy*

        Uggghhh I had to do that for one of my classes! I think I recorded mine at least 5 times as well. I sound so unnatural on video!!

    3. Samwise*

      I hate these. Some of my coworkers LOVE them for searches. The last couple of searches I ran, I refused (politely) to do them. We reviewed applications (resume, cover letter, answers from the HR online system), did a phone screen (about 20 minutes, three key questions), then moved to 2nd round interviews (1 hour w the committee, case study, presentation/discussion, meeting w the hiring officer — about 3 hrs total). More time, but better info for all concerned. Excellent hires.

      I will say that the hires we made for folks who had to do the recorded pieces are good too.

      But I think we get a better range of kinds of people, and we can get a better feel for candidates and how they think, when we don’t force them to can a response for us.

  43. Ram*

    I think I messed up trying to connect with my direct report… She’s the first one I’ve ever had. We’ll be discussing something work related and I’ll go to nudge her, either to make sure I have her attention or because she made me laugh and she’ll lean away from me… but she continues the conversation?? I don’t know what to think. One time I asked her why she was moving so slowly and she told me she’d worked to hard at the gym last night… I commented how funny and crazy that was and she froze up and then redirected the conversation baxck to work, which was disappiinting. We work well together and she’s about my daughter’s age so I’d like to have a warmer relationship with her but everything I try seems to mess it up……..

    1. ecnaseener*

      So, I think leaning away while continuing the conversation is meant to communicate “oh no thanks to the nudging, but don’t worry about it, I’m still enjoying the chitchat!” Same with the brief freezing up and then continuing. She’s showing you a boundary, that’s not a rejection of you or a sign that you’ve messed anything up, it’s just now you know.

      1. Clisby*

        Seconding everyone who is telling you to keep your hands to yourself and your nose out of your direct report’s personal life.

    2. I edit everything*

      Stop trying to touch her. Simple.
      And your reaction to her comment about a hard workout is just…weird. It’s personal and none of your business.

    3. londonedit*

      Obviously I wasn’t there so I can’t comment with 100% accuracy on these interactions, but…I’d suggest you stop trying to nudge her, if by ‘nudge’ you mean physically touching her to get her attention. Many people aren’t comfortable with being physically nudged, especially not at work (and especially not by their boss!) and I think the whole impact of social distancing over the last three years has made that even more true. Also, forgive me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you might be coming across as a bit OTT or a bit too eager to please? Firstly, I’m not sure I’d have asked someone why they were moving slowly in the first place, but then to respond to ‘Oh, I worked a bit too hard at the gym last night’ by commenting on how ‘funny and crazy’ she was – that seems a bit over the top to me. It’s not really ‘funny and crazy’ to go to the gym. It’s possible she just isn’t quite sure how to take your comments. Remember that you’re her line manager, not her friend – of course you can be friendly and nice to her, and you can ask her about things she’s doing outside of work, etc, but it sounds a bit like you might be coming across as too buddy-buddy instead of professional and boss-like.

      1. Samwise*

        Or mom-ish, since as you note she’s your daughter’s age.

        She’s not your daughter. She’s your employee.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      Seconding ecnassener and I edit everything that the first change to make is to stop touching her. You can get her attention verbally or by pointing to something on a desk or screen.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Nudging? Keep your dang hands to yourself and don’t be nudging people, especially after you’ve noticed that they’re trying to avoid it when you do. Stop asking her about her body, that’s weird. She’s telling you VERY CLEARLY that she only wants to talk about work things with you. Get the hint.

    6. Ally*

      I think nudging from a supervisor would make me uncomfortable too. The gym comment I’m not sure what to make of it.

    7. DisneyChannelThis*

      Don’t touch people at work. Exceptions for if the buildings on fire and Sue has headphones on and a second exception for handshakes.

      As a manager, let employees take the lead on what they want to share about private life. Some people like stricter boundaries and privacy. Focus on work conversations.

      Warm relationships are built slowly. Show through your actions that you are a good boss and they’ll warm up to you. Remarking about how funny and crazy she is isn’t it.

    8. Angstrom*

      Anybody deliberately touching me at work — ESPECIALLY a manager — would be a huge red flag. There’s a power differential involved. Stop.

    9. ILoveCoffee*

      glad you are asking about this – you may never have a “warmer relationship” and that is ok because it’s work and you are her supervisor
      it doesn’t matter that she is about your daughters age – she is an adult and is doing her job. I am about the age of several of my colleagues and my supervisors kids but they treat me like a colleague / direct report / fellow adult doing my job

      in general you should not nudge people (or tap them or touch them…expect for offering your hand for handshake but who knows these days). You can make sure you have their attention by talking to them
      just because someone keeps talking to you doesn’t mean everything is ok – she may be uncomfortable but power dynamics make it so she doesn’t stop the conversation

    10. Cyndi*

      If someone told me my extremely normal hobby was “funny and crazy” I wouldn’t know how to respond either! And I wouldn’t take for granted even outside of work that a physical nudge was an okay response to someone making me laugh–heck, if I made someone laugh and their response was physical contact I’d be wondering if it was meant as flirting.

      It really sounds like you’re trying too hard to eke affection out of your direct report, which shouldn’t be anywhere on your list of priorities to begin with, and she’s sending very clear signals that it’s too much.

    11. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      You can have a warm relationship, but it needs to be a warm relationship AS HER BOSS, not as a friend (who happens to have authority over her). She wants to focus on work – so engage with her about how you can help her develop professionally. What are her career goals? What skills does she want to improve? Are there opportunities you can share with her, like workshops and conferences?
      Also, does your organization offer and leadership or management training?

    12. Cordelia*

      she’s your daughter’s age, but that’s not really relevant as she is not your daughter. That might be why you are overstepping boundaries (nudging people? questioning how they are walking and then laughing at them?) – you can have a friendly working relationship with her, but perhaps think about how you interact at work with, for example, a man of around your own age, and try that.

    13. 21st of September*

      As a no-touchy person myself, when someone backs away from a touch, it means “don’t touch me.” So, stop nudging her.

      “she’s about my daughter’s age”

      You SHOULD have warm, collegial relationship with people at work, but their age, gender, and superficial relationship to family members should not be the reason why. You might be aiming for too warm a relationship.

      1. Nesprin*

        I would argue that you should have a collegial relationship with people at work, but warm is not guaranteed especially given the power dynamics between boss and subordinate.

    14. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yup, stop trying to touch her. Also, if she says she’s moving slowly because she worked too hard at the gym, just nod and say, “Gotcha” or something similarly non-committal and non-judgmental– I think your comment was a little odd and overly familiar.

    15. Susan*

      Yeah, it seems pretty clear that she is uncomfortable with the nudging, so definitely stop touching her. Also, I suggest you stop thinking about her relative to your daughter, because she is NOT your daughter and you shouldn’t treat her like your child. Keep in mind that since you have authority over her, she is going to feel pressure to be nice to you just because you’re her boss, even if she thinks you’re creepy.

    16. Sorrischian*

      I have been in your direct report’s situation – a genuinely well-meaning supervisor, roughly my parents’ age, who was always standing too close and putting his hands on people’s shoulders. (Independent of gender – he just had no personal space as far as I could tell.)
      I spent a significant amount of time strategizing where to have conversations so there was a physical barrier between us or ways to redirect conversations from too-personal topics back to work. In a situation with a major power difference like this, you really have to let your employee make the first move as far as having a warmer relationship – and you have to accept that she might never do that.

    17. EMP*

      She’s making it very clear that she does not want a warm relationship with you, her boss who is old enough to be her parent.

      Leave her alone and stop touching her.

    18. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Daughter’s age is a really concerning qualifier. Most parents never quite see their adult children as adults, but as a supervisor, you absolutely have to see your report as an adult.

      It comes across that you think a parental relationship would be appropriate and she is setting boundaries that she is looking for a professional relationship.

      As someone who graduated young and looked even younger, there was nothing more off-putting than being treated “like a kid”.

      As for nudging, no. Just no.

    19. The Shenanigans*

      Well, first, the only touch that I can think of that belongs in any office are handshakes or fist bumps or something like that. Not nudges or hugs or playful smacks or anything like that. It’s too familiar. Especially from a boss.

      Secondly, because you are her boss, you can’t be her friend. She’s also not your daughter, she’s a professional woman you have work authority over. I get wanting to be warm but the job creates limits on that. Also, even if YOU want a warmer relationship, does she? It doesn’t seem like it. And that’s fine. Many people don’t want to make friends at work.

      None of this is personal. She’s drawing boundaries. She’s allowed. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong or messed anything up. She just clearly wants to be less personal than you do. The best thing to do is respect that. You can feel however you want to feel about it but do respect it.

      It’s interesting to see the thought process of the overly familiar manager. We usually just get the “My boss made a personal comment about working out and tried to nudge me to be friendly. It weirded me out. Am I overreacting?” letter.

    20. Green*

      Dont’ touch women at work. It’s unprofessional. Also there’s NOTHING funny or crazy about someone working out at a gym. You say you try and mess up – have you tried acting super professional and as a mentor?

    21. Kay*

      I recommend really reframing how you approach this, and quickly. She has pretty clearly demonstrated she doesn’t want the level of personal interaction (nudges, personal questions) but it seems like you are having a hard time seeing it-I recommend reflecting on that. So, strive for a professional relationship where you support her work. A few things to help with this.

      First – touching has no place at work. Ask yourself how you have found yourself in a position to be nudging her so often – to me this says you have been invading her space far too often. Why are you standing so close to her? Do you need to be standing so close to her? Do you do this with others too? Perhaps take a step back.

      Second – the framing of your questions. Frame things in reference to work first, then allow for your employee not to divulge personal information you don’t need to have.. Also, no commenting on her looks, clothes, body or social life. It is also probably best you refrain from asking personal questions, at least for a while. I would find “Hey, you doing okay?” a fine question from my boss if I was waddling around, but I would find “Why are you moving so slow?” to be too personal and patronizing especially if I had already experienced some unwanted nudging.

      Take a step back to focus on making this a successful working (not buddy buddy) relationship and I think things will get much better.

    22. Dark Macadamia*

      What you’re describing here… doesn’t make sense to me? How is it funny and crazy to exercise? Why you would nudge someone because they made you laugh? You definitely should not have tried to touch her again after she physically pulled away the first time!

      It sounds like you’re trying too hard to connect with her. Not everyone wants a warm relationship at work, especially with their boss, and there are plenty of ways to interact positively while still having some professional distance.

  44. ecnaseener*

    Hopefully a very easy question, I just have no prior experience with this: should I show up a few minutes early to a business coffee date so that I have my coffee in hand at the start of the meeting time, or is it normal for us both to arrive right on time and wait in line together to order like on a social coffee date?

    And/or would buying my coffee before the other person gets there be weird because they invited me, so maybe they’re planning on paying?

    (This is the outcome of that email I asked for help with last week, she says there’s enough within my scope to still meet so we are still meeting ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Should be fun to put on real business clothes and have a real business meeting even if it’s a waste of time lol)

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules on this one; whatever happens, it’s fine! If you feel more comfortable arriving a little early and getting your coffee, do that, and if your contact says ‘Ah, I was going to buy you a coffee’ you can always just say ‘Oh, thanks but I thought I might as well get one, as I was here!’ And if you do end up arriving together and waiting in the queue, that’s also fine. There might be a bit of awkward queue-based small talk, but that’s perfectly normal. You also might end up doing the ‘Let me get these’ ‘No, honestly it’s fine’ ‘No, really, I invited you so I’m happy to buy the drinks’ dance – again, one of those slightly awkward human interactions, but also perfectly fine and normal, and it won’t mean you’ve got off on the wrong foot or anything.

    2. I edit everything*

      I usually get there early to get my own coffee and be situated. Standing in line together is weird and awkward.

    3. Ashley*

      If you have no plans to pay for their coffee, I would get there early and get mine and a table. If I don’t think I should be paying (for example I am doing someone a favor by meeting) I would time it closer to the time. There are a number of times I do plan to pay or I am at least open to it at which point I hang out and wait for them to arrive. Basically I go in with a plan in my mind of who should be buying and adjust accordingly.

    4. 21st of September*

      I am no help here, but I just want to share that I bought my own coffee when meeting a recruiter once, and I realized it was a mistake when he made a surprised noise behind me in line. I swear, the social contract needs to be printed out for everyone to read.

      1. Prospect gone bad*

        Exactly, the whole point of the meeting is to do something low stakes together. It’s awkward if you buy your drink and snack before and then just sit there for 10 minutes watching them on line and waiting!

        It also makes it look like you’re rushing and have better places to be, which puts a damper on any meeting

        1. 21st of September*

          We were in the same line. I got to the counter first, ordered, paid, and heard him go “Oh!” when I handed the money to the counter person. Oops.

          But your point is taken. :)

    5. LG*

      No wrong answer here, I would just do whatever felt more comfortable to me. I hope you have a nice time!

    6. Policy Wonk*

      If you get there first buy your own coffee so there is no weirdness about who pays – and grab a table, too – that will make sure that you get one, and there is no need to take turns getting coffee in order to hold onto it.

  45. Deedee*

    I have a situation at work where me and my coworker were working on opening up shipment at the retail job we work at. We were talking about politics, and my coworker asked what the left and right meant. Then another coworker came into the back, and we explained to her what the left and right meant. I then asked her what way she leaned like the right want things to stay the same, don’t like gay people, ect . . . She stated that she finds it weird that two people the same gender would be in love but stated she’s not against gay people and they should have rights.

    I didn’t say anything to her about what she said, but I’ve been going over it in my head since August 2022 and I don’t like what she said. Other than that, my coworker doesn’t harass me about my bisexuality and is very pleasant towards me all the time. Should I report my coworker to the store manager or should I let it go, since it’s been nine months?

    1. T. Wanderer*

      Let it go. Among other things, she’s done nothing to report — she has not harassed you or been unfriendly because of your bisexuality; you can’t really report someone for saying they don’t understand something but wouldn’t discriminate against it. Take it as a lesson in why politics at work is often a no-go.

      Also — people change, and “I don’t get it” is a great place to start as she meets more queer people!

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Has she made any other comments since? Been rude, weird, harassing? If not, I’d probably let it go. It sounds like you met her at a time when she was very unfamiliar with a lot of the broader sociopolitical issues of the world and you were kind enough to explain it to her.

    3. WellRed*

      Well she’s allowed to have her opinions no matter how disagreeable others might find them. As long as she treats you and others well, I’m not sure what it is you’d be reporting. And this is why it’s best to keep politics out of the workplace.

      1. WellRed*

        To be clear, if she walks around saying something like this more than once, that could be worth speaking up about but if it was a one off, I’d let it go. And if you feel chilly toward her now, that’s valid.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      She sounds young & naive. I think she’s still figuring the world out (maybe from a sheltered upbringing?). It sounds like you had a good teachable moment, & she was being honest that she doesn’t understand how some people can have certain differences. It wouldn’t surprise me if she’s grown & understands some things better since then.

      1. L. Bennett*

        That’s my take, especially since she didn’t know what left and right were, politically-speaking.

      2. Prospect gone bad*

        Exactly. My head hurts reading this for so many reasons. It sounds like an extremely “low information” discussion and you’re not going to reason with someone like this. Maybe in ten or so years

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Its been 9months let it go. if she says something like that again, go to HR immediately (within 48 workday hrs).

      A lot of offices avoid talking politics.

      1. Solokid*

        One good way to not have her say something like that again is to not ask point blank what someone’s politics are.

        OP got a very honest answer for that kind of question. Why go to HR?

        1. Clisby*

          That’s what I was thinking. If you weren’t willing to hear the answer, why ask the question?

    6. Sunshine*

      I would let this go. It’s not like she volunteered the information unprompted – you asked her and she replied. I don’t really think there’s anything to report.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes! You asked her (seemingly using the example of gay rights), and she answered clarifying her stance on gay rights.

        She sounds young and naive, but even when you chose to answer her question, you should not have followed up asking her for her stance politics.

        Also she sounds fairly neutral for a naive and sheltered kid. And you don’t say she’s done anything homophobic. There’s actually nothing to report her for.

    7. Qwerty*

      Don’t ask a question if there is only one answer that you find acceptable. At that point, it isn’t a question, but becomes a demand.

      You asked her how she felt about gay people and got an answer. She is pleasant to you and wants you to have your rights. She doesn’t need to “get” why someone would be attracted to the same gender, she just needs to treat everyone professional, which it sounds like she does. Honestly, most of my gay friends have said they find it weird for someone to be attracted to the opposite gender – people see things through what is normal for them.

      Take this as a cautionary lesson about bringing up politics especially in the workplace and definitely don’t ask people about their politics at work.

    8. Extra anony*

      Let it go (there’s nothing to report) and don’t talk about politics at work in the future.

    9. Pansocial Homosexual*

      Gay guy here and I’d give your coworker a lot of kudos for trying. I don’t need someone to wave a flag for me, but just to be honest and respectful.
      And, as it happens, I personally don’t understand heterosexual relationships, considering most non-LGBT+ people are apparently homosocial. But that’s just me and I don’t hold it against them… :-)

    10. Lucky Meas*

      Totally get being concerned about that answer, but it’s been 9 months so you can’t really address it now, and also… to put it politely… she doesn’t seem very informed about this. Her take sounds like this is the first time she has ever thought about this. She doesn’t even know what left and right mean or what they stand for. So considering how very very sheltered (and disenfranchised, at her age!) she must be, I think it’s a good step that she is not “against” gay people and thinks they should have rights. There is no way that the people who raised her think that way.

  46. Cyndi*

    I’ve been job hunting for a couple months because my company is moving to a new site that will make my commute much worse–but I haven’t found something yet, and the move is in four weeks, so while I’m not stopping the job hunt I also have to go forward on the assumption that I’ll be making that move to the new site, at least temporarily.

    My current commute is under an hour and a straight shot on the train; the new one will be closer to an hour and a half. I’m trying not to sulk about how I’m effectively losing an hour out of every day for the same pay, but it’s tough! Does anyone have any good tips for adjusting to a longer commute? (I already get my food and clothes ready the night before, and do makeup+eat breakfast when I get to my desk in the morning, so I think my morning routine is pared down as far as I can short of sleeping in my work clothes.)

    1. Ashley*

      To me the question is can you push your start time back or do you have to wake up earlier? If you are waking up earlier trying to shift the nighttime routine is key. I would also try and pack entertainment on my commute which helps if you take public transit and can stream tv shows. I also use commute time to call and catch up with people where practical (retired parents, repair person depending on office hours, etc)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A few thoughts, in no particular order:

      – Because you have a few weeks, try gradually shifting your wake-up time earlier (and bed-time, too, if you want). Set your alarm 5 or 10 minutes earlier for a few days in a row, then another 5-10 min, until you’ve worked your way to your new wake-up time. That way you won’t feel groggy and terrible the first day of your new commute.

      – Are there any potential benefits of the new commute? More time to doze/people watch/read/listen to podcasts on the train? Not worth as much as the cost of an extra hour of commuting time, I know, but looking forward to a small benefit will make the change sting a little less.

      – Are there any ways you can treat yourself at the new location that weren’t available at the old site? A cool coffeeshop, a good lunch restaurant, and interesting store you can browse in before you catch your evening train home?

      – Cut back on outside of work commitments for the first week of the new commute, if you can, because you’ll likely be more tired than now. Prepare a few dinners ahead of time, put off laundry for the weekend, etc.

      1. Cyndi*

        Most of these are great tips and I’ll think about them, thank you!

        But you gave me an opening to gripe about this: the new location is SO MUCH WORSE. We’re moving from a location in the middle of the city, where there’s lots to do after work and plenty of food and shopping options, to an office park next to the airport where even the nearest Starbucks and Dunkin are each a half mile away. I’m almost more annoyed about the location than leaving earlier/getting home later. And typing this out made me realize I need to find a new pharmacy and change all my prescriptions over from the one next door to my current office.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          That’s such a bummer! Good luck with your job search, and hopefully you won’t have to put up with the terrible new location for long!

    3. BRR*

      My two pieces of advice from my 90 min commute are: would adjusting your start & end time make anything easier for you? I found that I liked starting and ending my day 30 min earlier because of the train schedule and it got me home at a somewhat reasonable hour. And two, splurge on anything that will make it easier on your if you can. Better headphones, more expensive but comfier shoes, nicer winter gloves.

      1. Cyndi*

        Unfortunately adjusting my start time isn’t an option–the nature of my job involves a daily checklist of deadlines, the first of which is at 8:30am and the last at 4pm, so my 8-4:30 schedule is pretty non-negotiable. But I do love that people are encouraging me to solve this with shopping!

  47. Anon for this One*

    There’s lots of advice out there about how to talk to your boss about mental health needs, but very little about how to talk to your staff about it when you are the boss. I supervise several folks and I can tell that I am more short and easily frustrated as my chronic depression has flared up (I am in treatment and working on it), but I’m not sure what to say to those around me. Particularly given the power imbalances and I know my staff has noticed. So, I guess I’m looking for thoughts on dealing with this when you’re the one with more “power” in the situation.

    1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      Ooh, this is a tough one. I had to do something similar when I first became manager. I don’t have a specific diagnosis, but I’m definitely not neurotypical, and one of the ways my neurodivergence manifests is that my default tone of voice parses to people as annoyed and/or stressed. It takes a huge amount of cognitive load to override that, and if I’m concentrating on something–which I often am at work!–my voice reverts to its default.

      What I did was on day one of my promotion, I put in my slide deck exactly that. I said that I would obviously make strenuous efforts to overcome this when talking to people, but if I slipped and sounded annoyed or stressed, I wanted everyone to realize that my default tone of voice may be misrepresenting my actual mood. And I added that I was aware that this would be amplified by the power dynamics. So I told my team that if they ever thought I was annoyed with *them*, or concerned that I sounded stressed, I would want them to bring it up with me and check whether I actually was, or if my neurodivergence was just showing through.

      It also flares up when I’m tired, so if I slept especially badly, I will proactively warn everyone that my tone of voice might revert to sounding “off” today, and if so, it’s just sleep, nothing to worry about. Of course, this is in an environment where we have a medium in which we proactively announce things in the morning that might disrupt our focus today, from contractors to ADHD med shortages, so you do have to pay attention to your environment and whether this kind of proactive communication will make sense or will come across as weird.

      In your case, your team/company dynamics may not make it as safe for you to say “chronic depression” as it was for me to say “neurodivergent.” But if you frame it as “dealing with some personal stuff atm,” you may be able to send the same message of “I’m trying really hard to keep this from spilling over, but in case it does, I want you to know that it’s not you, and to talk to me if you have concerns.”

      Another useful complement to this might be to solicit feedback in 1:1s (I assume you have 1:1s or something similar). If you’re ever in a mental place where you can hear feedback like “Yeah, you snapped at me the other day,” you could proactively check in on how you’re being perceived. Here it would be important both to create an environment where people feel that you genuinely want to hear feedback and aren’t fishing for reassurance, as well as to react constructively if you hear that someone is being stressed out by the vibe you’re giving off.

      Part of soliciting feedback effectively is framing the wording so that the person feels like they’re expected to have something constructive to say, and where they don’t have to be worried that their feedback is coming across as a personal attack. If I were going to ask if I had been short with people lately, I would say something like, “As I mentioned to the group, I’ve been trying to keep personal frustrations from spilling over at work, but I realize I may not be totally succeeding. And I definitely need your perspective on this, because what feels only a little annoyed to me may sound very annoyed to you, because of the power dynamics. So I would like to know: how often am I coming across as annoyed to you, like, several times a day, or once a week, or what? And then, how annoyed? What was the *most* annoyed I’ve sounded recently? Is there a context in which I’m especially prone to sounding frustrated?”

      And, critically, I would present the questions and react to whatever answer I got the same way as if I was soliciting information on how much of a hassle filling out TPS reports was, along the lines of “How much time do you find yourself spending on them, what’s the most time-consuming report, etc.?” Like, “This is important information you can give me so I can make adjustments to benefit you.” Not, “Let me defensively explain what I really meant, i.e. tell you that you were wrong.”

      If you can pull that off, I find people respond well to specific question-eliciting that presupposes that I want to hear what they have to say so I can work with that information. But I also recognize that I don’t have depression and that reacting externally neutrally may be a big ask for someone who does–that was why I suggested picking a better day to do this, if you have better days. It might also be worth prepping a script beforehand for how you want to react to various possible answers. (I say this as someone who doesn’t always think quickly on my feet in social situations and often do better with a script.)

      Here’s another thing I’ve found in various contexts: having one meeting where you ask questions and *listen*, then take time to think about what the person said, then come back a day or two later to brainstorm solutions together, can be really useful. And I will tell people that that’s what I’m doing. So maybe if you hear that every time they ask you a question, they feel you’re snapping at them, you can take some time to think about what you or they could do to make that process easier. Like, would you prefer to receive certain kinds of quick questions in Teams, or via email? Or are you like the person on AAM who needed to hold up their hand and ask for a moment to finish a thought before responding to an interruption?

      But even if the situation can’t be resolved by brainstorming, I find that people are a lot more able to empathize with someone’s struggles if they perceive that person as struggling as opposed to just “doing something wrong.” Admittedly, empathy only goes so far, but, “Boss sounds stressed because of personal things I don’t need to worry about” is a lot easier to live with than “Boss wrote me up because they were having a bad day, then apologized and asked forgiveness…again.” And there’s nothing to indicate you’re doing the latter.

      I don’t know if any of this is helpful, but best of luck to you with your struggles in any case. The fact that you’re aware of this and you’re aware of the power dynamics means you’re light years ahead of a lot of people already. That probably manifests itself in other ways in your interactions with your reports, and that probably gives you a little extra grace to work with.

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*


          I mean, there’s a lot more where that came from. I recently referred to myself as “the advice dispensary that is me” to a junior report whom I’m mentoring. And I’m putting together a “communicating in the workplace” training session for my coworkers that I hope to present soon, and it’s aimed a lot at operating in a hierarchy.

          The caveat is that while I have a lot of advice on how to succeed in a healthy, supportive environment, I noticeably floundered and spent all my political capital in vain when I was stuck in a less functional environment at the same company. I’m basically Fergus in AAM’s “I think my assistant would be better at my job than I am,” and my boss could have written that letter. I’m currently coaching my boss on managing down; he’s mentioned that if I ever want another promotion, he’s going to have coach me on managing up and sideways when not insulated in a positive environment.

          So I could write half of a management book!

          And thank you (and everyone else who replied) for the feedback; it makes me more inclined to contribute more in these threads!

    2. Mountain goat*

      I’m not sure you can say anything to your staff that won’t sound at least a little like you’re making excuses, although it feels wrong say that! You’re a person too of course and have mental health needs like everyone else, but as you say the power imbalance just makes it impossible.
      I do think you’d have room to say something if you had been on the upset or unusually quiet (but still perfectly friendly/professional) side of things, my boss very briefly mentioned her own mental health needs in this type of situation and it was helpful. But when you’re being short with people and showing frustration it’s different and could easily sound like you’re excusing those behaviours, which are never OK when you have power over those people. Perhaps a quick apology if you feel it’s warranted, but otherwise I think working on it as you are doing is the best way forward.

  48. I edit everything*

    A few weeks ago, I asked my boss if I could start bringing my dog to work, and his answer was “Let me think about it.” Totally fair. How much time do I need to let go by before following up?

    For context, I work in the office at my town’s park, adjacent to the maintenance building/garage. It’s a ridiculously casual workplace. I get members of the public stopping by once or twice a day, if at all, but most of my work is phone and computer. I am the only one in the office most of the day. Not only are we in a park, a new dog park is about to open here, so it’s not a hushed, formal, highly populated workplace.

  49. Anonish for This*

    Dunno if this’ll get lost in the chaos of Friday threads but:

    I need to travel to India shortly:
    – Major question is if I bring out candy like I was told to do, any recs for that or food that I should bring that might be interesting?
    – Any other travel thoughts.

    1. Cordelia*

      not sure what you mean, that you were told to bring candy? Do you mean you are visiting a workplace and want to bring a gift for the workers there? Probably just something small, perhaps snacks that are local to where you live and aren’t usually available overseas.

    2. Anecdata*

      Bring candy/snacks from your home base (state/city/whatever) – something easy to grab and go and individually wrapped if possible.
      If you can’t think of anything that feels like unique to your home, no problem with going for something generically “American” if you’re based in the US (ie. Hershey’s mini bars maybe?). Don’t overthink it; I’ve worked in lots of international companies with this tradition; and no one is judging your snack choice; it is just one of those “hey fellow humans, I am making this human gesture to communicate my human good will towards you all” things

      1. Anonish for This*

        Yeah we’re not really known for much that isn’t pretty darn perishable. But was hoping there’d be something more interesting than our sad, sad chocolate.

        1. Hillary*

          A few options: maple sugar candy, salt water taffy, Reese’s (or really anything chocolate & peanut butter), mike & Ike’s, sour patch kids.

    3. Ismis*

      Some of my Indian colleagues are ovo-lacto vegetarians and some are lacto vegetarians (won’t eat anything that contains eggs, even if an allergen label mentions possible traces of eggs). My solution was to include a few vegan options, e.g. jelly beans.

      1. Anonish for This*

        I had already thought of that! I used to be vegetarian myself, and know a couple of our employees are Jains, so I wanted to ensure we had something for everyone.

  50. ER*

    Does anyone have any tips/tricks for getting better at understanding different coworker’s accents? Transferring to a new role where I’ll be working with a lot of folks with unfamiliar accents, and I often find myself asking for them to repeat something, only for my brain to process it a second later. Any listening exercises or anything that you’ve found helpful?

    1. Ashley*

      I usually get better with accents the more I hear them. Are there are tv shows/movies you can watch where someone will have a similar accent?

    2. Danish*

      Listening to music in the intended language is helpful for getting an ear for it, I’ve found!

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      Talk to them socially. I have a hard time with accents. At my last job there was one person who was particularly hard to understand. I tried to spend extra time talking with him (how was his weekend/ask about hobbies) and eventually I got better at understanding him. Also if you are doing video or phone calls, don’t be afraid to blame the bad connection.

    4. Managing to get by*

      I’ve found that as my hearing has faded a little with age I also have more trouble understanding people with heavier accents. I say “sorry, I don’t hear very well any more” and people tend to talk a little slower and a little louder, and pause to be sure I heard them. Sometimes the pause is all I need to understand what they said.

      That may work even if your hearing is fine!

    1. L. Bennett*

      If you look at the left of the site, she does have categories you can peruse such as “hiring”, “resigning”, etc.

  51. Justin*

    I was one of the two people primarily in charge of running a massive (like $600k) work event in Atlanta this week. And it went even better than the top brass’s wildest dreams. My colleague and I were singled out for effusive praise by attendees and by the c suite, and they’re going to hire someone to join my very small training department later this year (because I’m doing a lot of the education stuff by myself).

    Definitely the biggest professional win I’ve ever had (depending on if you count academic stuff, in which case that’s still the doctorate and the book I wrote).

    And do you know what’s hilarious? I only got this particular job because it happened to show up as recently posted on indeed the day my former boss forced me back into the office… while not showing up herself for health concerns (health concerns are legitimate, but then don’t make other people go do something in person that didn’t have to be). I applied from my desk because I was mad.

    Since I technically have to ask a question, what’s the biggest professional win you’ve had recently? The nature of advice means we don’t get to share these as often (as Alison has noted). And we should celebrate when we can.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mentioned this last week, but we had a software rollout that started last Monday and so far everyone involved at four different companies (us, the software company, and our two sets of contractors) has all agreed that this has been about the most pain-free, functional, smooth, efficient go-live anyone has ever experienced. (And personally, as manager of one of the two primary teams of users, my boss and I have had a LOT of feedback that a large part of that success is due directly to the workflow documentation and planning I created for my team.) Victory arms!!

    2. The New Wanderer*

      It’s a pending win, but I’m finally on the verge of getting to do something meaningful with some niche subject matter expertise. I’ve been waiting years to work on this topic at this level and it looks like it’s about to happen, which is very exciting!

    3. Generic Name*

      What a fun idea! I think my most recent win is there was a project one of the principals was going after and trying to get on teams to pursue. She wasn’t having any luck at all, and out of the blue, a client reached out to me to asked if we wanted to team, and we won! It’s a big project doing work we want to do more of, so it was a strategic win and it basically fell in my lap.

    4. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I have not lost my temper despite a coordinated attempt by a small number of people in my dept to sabotage a large consultation process I’m running! Wooo!

      But really just here to say GO YOU that’s amazing

  52. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I’m looking to take advantage of some short-term individual counseling sessions through my employer benefits due to some struggles I’m having. I’ve used EAP before at other jobs, but my current place has both an EAP but also a separate counseling service called Lyra. It’s different contact information/websites for each one, so I think they’re separate offerings, but I’m confused as to which one I would go with. Anyone else ever run into this?

    I do have a case into HR, but being a Friday them may not respond until early next week, and I’d like to at least talk to someone at either place today before the weekend if possible.

    1. Cordelia*

      I’d probably call both, and their intake person can explain the difference in what they offer, so that you can make a decision as to which to go with

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. Find out what exactly each services offers and how they differ in terms of payment, confidentiality, credentials/accreditations, etc.

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      You may want to start with the EAP – I was able to get 5 counseling sessions for free via the EAP. Later, when I needed long term counseling, I went with the counseling service recommended. My insurance covers part of the cost, but I pay the remaining cost. Definitely looking into what each would cost you!

  53. Cobblestone*

    Are ripped jeans ever appropriate in an office? My office has a casual dress code. Shorts and t-shirts and sandals are fine. A newer employee came into the office with fashionably ripped jeans. It was definitely at least from the knee down, and I think there were some rips at the thigh level. That’s…too much, isn’t it? Or am I just getting old?

    1. AllTheBirds*

      Really depends on the office and team.

      I’m in a creative division of a huge corporation and people wear… whatever they want, including ripped jeans, hoodies and ball caps.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you allow shorts, t-shirts and sandals, I think getting het up about ripped jeans (especially if it’s evident that it’s a fashion rip and not “these are my gardening jeans”) is a little over the top.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I keep wanting to make an analogy to a skirt that’s too short for the dress code, but then it falls apart, because you don’t see the rips all the time, and it’s not the same amount of skin even if some of it is the same skin, etc.

      But if people are allowed to wear shorts anyway, I think you may be overthinking it.

    4. no*

      I consider shorts even more casual than ripped jeans. Plus, most women’s shorts show way more thigh than ripped jeans do. So yeah, you have no grounds for complaint.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      If the office is casual and they’re not meeting in person with clients that day, I think some rips are fine as long as they’re not ripped in inappropriate places or more holes than fabric.

    6. kiwiii*

      I have definitely worn ripped jeans in our casual office. If they’re not prohibited by the dress code, they’re as good a choice as any imo.

    7. Generic Name*

      I wouldn’t personally wear them, but I wouldn’t say anything if someone else wore them.

    8. Extra anony*

      If shorts are fine, then ripped jeans are fine. I have actually worked in offices where people wear slightly distressed/ripped jeans but where shorts aren’t OK.

  54. hmmmm*

    2 years ago I was hired full-time to report to someone part-time (she was originally full-time, but reduced her hours after having a baby). Shortly after this, she went on leave again with baby #2 and ultimately didn’t return. Since her second leave started, I’ve been keeping things running on my own.

    Recently my boss said she wants to hire someone to replace my former supervisor, part-time since they can’t afford full salary for 2 people. I told her I am interested in being considered for the role and she gave a noncommittal response and later posted the job anyway. This was following a performance review where we addressed areas where I’ve done well and areas where I need improvement. I have a plan for improving my areas of weakness and think I should at least be given a few months to prove myself. Anyway, should I be annoyed? It’s not that I feel entitled to a promotion, but wonder if it’s time to look elsewhere if my boss doesn’t have confidence that I can grow into a higher level role.

    1. Colette*

      So this is a team that has been without a manager for weeks or months? I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that they will wait another few months to fill the position once they know whether you can improve or not.

      Maybe your areas of improvement are minor or irrelevant, but given that it was multiple areas and people generally dislike giving negative feedback, but it sounds like this isn’t the right time for you to take that position.

      1. hmmmm*

        Yes, it’s been months, technically over a year if you count from the start of my former supervisor’s leave. I understand your point about my boss not wanting to wait any longer given that the manager position has been vacant for this long. Thanks

        1. Lily Rowan*

          At my job, basically everything gets posted, so you’d have to apply like an outside person anyway — even when your current position gives you a big leg up.

    2. linger*

      One thing to bear in mind is that this position will be part-time, because of budget constraints. So even if you were successful, you could easily end up on less pay in total, and with fewer guaranteed benefits (because it’s not full-time). Would you still want the position in that case?

  55. Higgy Pop*

    I’m a finalist for an internal position. Tips on negotiating a bigger bump in salary should I get the job? Relevant information: I work in higher ed, and we have ‘salary bands’. The job I have — great job! I love it! – and the potential new job are in the same band. I realize I’m limited a bit, but was wondering if anyone had any thoughts!

    1. Living that Corporate Life*

      Do you know where you are in the band? My company has salary bands and management is able to tell us where we are in the band currently, i.e. 25th percentile meaning you’re at the low end or above 75th percentile meaning you’re in the high end.
      What I’ve seen done before is is someone is at the high end and they get a new role and pay bump, it might be negotiated that they’re getting 12% raise in March but will not be eligible for a raise at that year’s annual raise in July but will be eligible the following July.

  56. just a random teacher*

    What, if anything, should I do when it’s clear I’m the only one who actually bothers to read and retain information from required trainings?

    We have a ton of once a year “trainings” that have migrated to being online rather than meetings over the past 10-20 years. These are over boring required things, and in general are exactly the same trainings as last year. They were boring trainings when they were in-person synchronous trainings too. (Think things like “you are a mandatory reporter, these are the things you need to report”, which was a vhs tape we all had to sit in the same room and watch every fall when I started teaching and is now an online training very similar to that video that I’m supposed to go through “sometime during your contracted hours” during the first month of the year.)

    Because these things are boring as hell, the same every year, and no longer given specific protected time when we have to sit through them, I’m pretty sure most of my co-workers do not meaningfully engage with them. (The ones from the outside vendor are so actively terrible that I mostly don’t either since listening to someone read a PowerPoint aloud when I’m not allowed to speed it up to go at my reading speed makes me miserable and there are hours of these things, but I do at least read policy documents or anything with provided copies of slides to read at my own pace before clicking the checkbox saying that I have.)

    It is very much not my job to be the Training Police, but I’ve noticed several of my co-workers doing things that are explicitly against various policies buried in these policy documents. None of the things I know about are child safeguarding type issues or other safety issues (those I’d definitely report ASAP!), but rather things like “we are not allowed to show commercial films for social/reward reasons rather than direct classroom instruction unless we buy a public performance license for it first” or “anything that lists the student login information for the required standardized tests needs to be stored in a locked storage space that only teachers have access to, not just lying around unsecured”.

    (The person who came up with the non-compliant plan for storing the logins is the one who was also supposed to be in charge of making sure we were all trained in various testing compliance rules and in charge of coordinating testing for our school, which does not make it any better. I know he doesn’t read stuff and does the minimum so as to free up more time for his non-work projects, which is an entire separate issue. The rules stating that these logins have to be locked up is at least 10-15 years old and he should definitely know this by now if he paid any attention at all for his entire teaching career.)

    Aside from just not doing those things myself to limit my own liability, should I be doing something here, such as pushing for better training that’s designed in a way that people might actually pay attention?

    1. EMP*

      It sounds like you’re a teacher? In industry you’d have a whole compliance department to make sure these things are complied with. Frankly I don’t think more training really helps, and no one wants to be the training police unless they’re hired to be the training police.
      Not a helpful solution, just saying it’s hard to fix if you can’t hire someone to do it, so don’t hurt yourself trying.

    2. ?*

      Oh, fellow teacher, you have my sympathy. I’ve really been struggling with this too—the same people who would punish students for not reading the directions to an assignment will flat out tell me they didn’t read a handout with important information. In my case my principal tries pretty hard to make trainings short and easy to digest and that doesn’t seem to help. I’ve just decided that if it’s something that doesn’t affect me or student well-being I will ignore it and work on not being internally annoyed. If I think it matters I go right to my boss, who I know trusts me, and have stopped worrying about “getting people in trouble.” If you talk to your admin about these issues, do you think they’ll be receptive?

    3. Samwise*

      I’d report the student info lying around, that is truly unacceptable and possible violates student privacy law (I don;t know about K-12, just higher ed). Or, what I do in our office when there’s stuff with student info lying around — I stick it in the boss’s mail box. Periodically I say to the boss, we need to do a refresher on FERPA because folks are getting sloppy. Then we do a refresher and it improves for awhile. Student logins=don’t leave that lying around.

      Showing films without a public performance license….ehhhhhh. Let it go.

  57. 21st of September*

    Soooo, I might be a less extreme Julian (from earlier this week). I have never held screaming matches with myself, but I had some serious conflicts at a previous job that did lead to my leaving the company. And I was seriously depressed and burned out from working there (it was quite toxic, my boss was really underhanded), which contributed to my Julian-ness. Anyone from those days would probably be like, “Them? They’re a serious jerk!”

    Well, I thought those days were behind me. I have worked on myself, worked on how I come across, worked on softening my more direct traits that don’t go over well. I have gotten positive feedback at my current job, and I thought I was doing well. Then I had a conflict with someone, talked to my boss, and he told me there are a lot of complaints about me. This was a surprise, given all the positive feedback.

    So I reached out to my HR partner to get some advice. I know HR works for the company, not for me, but the company has a vested interest in maintaining harmonious relationships. And, I’ve had some good luck with talking to HR partners in the past.

    So I intend to talk about the current situation, bc regardless of the complaints about me, Coworker Dude is not responding to whatever problem he was with me appropriately. I also want to talk about what a surprise it was to find out about all the complaints about me. Finally, bc I am new (2 years), I am meeting all the brilliant jerks and going, “dog, what a jerk.” Then my manager gets upset bc these are people who have been here for years doing great work and he thinks I’m the problem. I plan to talk about that.

    Is there any advice people can give to me about how to approach the conversation with HR? I am willing to adjust my own behavior, within reasonable limits (that is, I am not going to stop pointing out that the brilliant jerks are jerks, but I’m willing to wordsmith how I approach that conversation), but I also want the brilliant jerks to stop being jerks and I want better and more honest feedback that is not just, “you’re doing great, really terrific, oh, actually, we have a list of complaints about you.” So. Advice on how to approach that?

    1. EMP*

      IMO, you need to come to this with the expectation it’s only going to be about you, not brilliant jerks. As you outline here, you are surprised to learn there are complaints about you, and want the chance to improve/correct your behavior. I would just stick to that. You don’t need to come up with an action plan in the moment, especially since you may not agree with what you hear, but you can take it in and say you’ll take that into consideration and think about it.
      I doubt HR is going to be understanding if you get defensive about whatever caused the complaints by pointing out other people are jerks (even if it’s true).

        1. EMP*

          “People are jerks” isn’t usually a reason to go to HR. What do you expect them to do about that?

          1. 21st of September*

            “People are jerks” is shorthand for specific incidents where people were jerks in specific ways to me. I want them to stop being jerks, i.e., stop engaging in the behaviors that are disrespectful, which is enough to ask someone stop engaging in that behavior on it’s own, but also impede the work. One of the Brilliant Jerks also reports to my boss, so going to my boss about his behavior was reasonable. The other person reports to someone else, so hopefully HR can tell me how to raise the problems in a way that get his behavior changed.

            This is a workplace blog where a number of questions deal with how to change someone else’s unwanted behavior. I’m genuinely surprised at your response.

            I thought Brilliant Jerk was a well known term for, well, brilliant jerks. Based on some of the responses here, I was wrong about how wide spread the term is. Netflix is actually pretty famous for not tolerating Brilliant Jerks. Here is a link:


        2. Samwise*

          Leave the jerks out of it unless they are legitimately making it hard for you to get your work done (discuss how to approach that with your boss WITHOUT saying they are jerks) OR they are doing something illegal or seriously against company policy.

          I get it. I work in higher ed, there are plenty of brilliant jerks (also jerks who aren’t as brilliant as they think they are). Do I want to work with them? No, I do not. Are they making it hard for me to get my work done? No, they are not. Are they violent or racist or homophobic or misogynist or …. No, they are just assholes. Would I pee on them if they were on fire? Nope. Do I complain about them at work or let them know in any way how much I dislike them? Nope (that;s what friends are for!). I am professional when working with them.

          That is what I recommend you do. Because I betcha that your willingness to call out brilliant jerks and/or to make your disdain obvious, is making other people think that you are a jerk. (Even if the jerks are super jerky. Doesn;t matter if you are not being professional and reasonably pleasant.)

        3. gyrfalcon17*

          It sounds to me like you have four things:

          1. Conflict with Coworker Dude: “HR what advice do you have for me to resolve this?”

          2. Blindsided by complaints: “HR what advice do you have for me to set up a structure with my boss so I hear about any complaints in a timely fashion?”

          3. The complaints themselves: “HR what advice do you have for me so I don’t cause these complaints any more? And also resolve any resentment that other people may have for me about past complaint-inducing behavior?”

          4. Brilliant jerks: first of all, what do you hope to gain by telling your boss these people are jerks? You’re the new person, they’re known and valued contributors. It’s on you to figure out how to work productively with them. The question you could ask both your boss and HR: “What recommendations can you give me for working better with X?” Don’t say “jerk” outside the silent confines of your own head.

          1. 21st of September*

            4. No. Being new does mean I have to tolerate disrespectful behaviors. Being established does not mean disrespectful behaviors are acceptable.

            And holy cats, I never used the work jerk at work. Brilliant jerk is a trope. I am referencing a trope. Google it.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              You are being very defensive about a trope that obviously most people replying to you never heard of (including me), and in general.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Name calling at work is going to really limit you. Save that for venting to friends out side of work.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      IMO, this is not a conversation to have with HR. In general, they are not your counselors or mediators, and their job is not to create harmonious relationships — it’s to protect the company from lawsuits. Unless you think that the complaints might have a discriminatory basis, I’m not quite sure what you are expecting from HR. Sorry.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. I would be having this convo with your boss and trying to learn more about the nature of the complaints about you and coming up with an action plan to address the issues. The fact that you’re surprised about the complaints may mean that these ppl are actively smiling in your face while stabbing you in the back or it may mean that you have a blind spot when it comes to how you’re contributing to the issues.

        Focusing on whether or not someone is a jerk isn’t going to get you anywhere and is likely going to have the opposite result that you intend. It’s more likely to make you seem like the problem and that you can’t take responsibility for your actions. At the end of the day, all you can control is your own actions, so that’s what you should be focusing on with your boss.

        1. 21st of September*

          I tried talking to my boss, and it wasn’t constructive. HR is more than happy to help me out.

          1. Cyndi*

            I’m really curious how you approached the conversation with your boss, on a scale from “I didn’t realize people had complaints about me, can you tell me more so I can address the problem?” to “I’m not the jerk! Everyone around me is the jerk!”

            1. 21st of September*

              This is another thing to bring up with HR. I don’t remember my exact words, but it was closer to your first example. I asked if there was a common thread in the complaints. The we got disconnected, and I … don’t know how to take that, tbh. I don’t know if something happened that disconnected us or if he hung up on me. He hasn’t reached back out, and neither have I.

              So part of the conversation with HR is going to be that I want feedback on complaints about me, and that I would like the feedback to be specific and also have suggestions on how to differently approach a situation. “Don’t be a jerk” not specific enough to be helpful. Even “be respectful at work” is also not specific enough to be helpful. “Don’t tell jerks they are being jerks” is not an option. “You’re a jerk, so you don’t get to call out jerks” is a logical fallacy. I’m willing to make changes, and I want other people to make changes as well. We all deserve to be treated respectfully at work, and that includes me.

              All my responses are in moderation, but hopefully by the time this one appears, the one where I gave details on the problems will also have appeared. The examples should be helpful.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I could well be wrong here, but if you are finding that you think a lot of people in your workplace are jerks and others don’t agree with you on this, it could be that you have higher expectations than most on certain things or that some of the reasons these people appear to be jerks to you is just because of personality clashes or something else subjective. It could also be that your workplace has a number of missing stairs and everybody else is just used to jumping them, but it is possible that having come out of a highly toxic workplace, you are reading certain behaviours in light of that and that some of the people who are currently working with aren’t really jerks.

      It’s hard to say whether or not you should mention their behaviour to HR without knowing what it is. If they are doing something that is really harmful to you, such as bullying you or making sexist or racist comments or undermining you, then yeah, it probably should be mentioned, but if you just don’t get on with them and they have personality traits you find problematic, like they are really blunt but not actually rude, I think you might just need to accept it as one of those things you just have to put up with at work.

      You don’t really have any control over whether or not people continue to act as jerks, so I’d try not to focus on that, unless it is really harming you or interfering with your work.

      This might be really off-base, given that I don’t know what they are doing, but it sounds like they have more political capital than you and as if those in authority do not see them as jerks, so it is unlikely you will get much support in making them change their behaviour unless there is something serious to report – bullying, fraud, bigotry…

      1. 21st of September*

        It’s just 2 brilliant jerks. I think it’s more that people who have been around them for years focus on the brilliant part whereas just meeting them, I’m really noticing the jerk part.

        And it is interfering with my work.

        Examples might help:
        The work is that llamas come in for testing. Last time we got a set of llamas, as I was testing with the customer representative, they said, “hey those llamas should have yellow ribbons, not blue.” I looked at the test procedure, and it said nothing about the ribbons being yellow. I was like, we need to fail these llamas for not meeting spec, and we need to fix the test procedure. Of course, I didn’t just make this call on my own, I brought the issue to other program people, including the ribbon designer, aka, BJ#1 (these examples really get convoluted, don’t they?). BJ#1’s response was, and I am quoting the parts in quotes, that he wasn’t going to change the ribbon design “just because some guy in a room said so,” that even though Customer Doc #1 said the ribbons said blue and yellow and called out when each color was needed, CD#2 only said blue, so that’s what was correct, that the customer liked the colors exactly as they were, and that the ribbons had always been blue.
        Customer: Oh, sorry, CD#1 is correct, with the yellow and blue, we didn’t update CD#2 to include the yellow, our bad (so, no, customer does not like the colors exactly as they are).
        Me: I have an old llama model in the lab that has yellow ribbons.
        Me to boss (note that I am short handing and not direct quoting): BJ#1 just made something up so he could be right.
        Boss: BJ#1 does not make things up.

        So, I’m open to hearing that I might not have been diplomatic when I found the ribbon color problem, but BJ#1 is wrong in his response. ESH, not just me.

        BJ#2 is brought in, and starts cutting me out of the ribbon color conversations, and cuts the other llama tester out of other conversations. Me and the other llama tester do basically the same job. I’m stronger and more interested in the documentation and process, he is stronger and more interested in the testing, but we both do both on the same set of llamas. It’s kind of weird to cut either of us out of anything, and very specifically a problem to cut me out of the ribbon discussion.
        Me: Please copy us both on all conversations.
        Him: If I don’t copy you, it’s bc “you are not relevant.”

        Me to Boss: It’s very disrespectful of BJ#2 to say that I am not relevant. The change I need to see from BJ#2 is that he starts copying me on these conversations. Also, other stuff.
        Boss: Nah, you’re the jerk, actually, a lot of people complain about you, and “his words were not disrespectful.”

        Again, I’m open to hearing that I need to approach BJ#2 differently, but cutting me out of conversations is not the right approach to disliking me. Also, cutting me out of conversations regarding an issue that I am actively working is disrespectful even if his words are respectful. ESH, not just me.

        So, I asked HR if they could help me with some friction that I am having.

        1. 21st of September*

          Boss: Nah, you’re the jerk, actually, a lot of people complain about you, and “his words were not disrespectful.”

          To add to my answer to Cyndi, this is where I asked whether there was a common thread to the complaints, and we got cut off.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          For #1, I do think saying “[Coworker] made something up” is undiplomatic on your part. Your coworker was just incorrect about something, or possibly the color update was recent and hadn’t been communicated to them, or maybe the customer keeps changing their minds about the colors, etc. If you made a mistake about a procedure, would you want someone to say that you “made something up”?

          As far as #2 goes, I think it could make sense for the ribbon designer to work one-on-one with the customer and not include you until a final decision has been made. If these are design questions, the designer is the one who needs to talk to the customer in order to update the design, not the tester, right?

          1. 21st of September*

            My coworker was not “just incorrect.” The ribbon designer designed all the ribbons. He has been the only ribbon designer on this project. Remember how I have an image from an old llama model with yellow ribbons? The ribbon designer designed the yellow ribbons in that picture.

            The customer has not kept changing their mind. The requirements for the ribbons have always been the same: yellow under one condition, blue under a different condition. Always. Since the beginning. The ribbon designer has been designing ribbons since the beginning. Again, they designed the yellow ribbons in the old llama models that we have.

            Even if it was a simple mistake, referring to the customer representative as “some guy in a room” (“some guy” = customer representative; “a room” = our test site); selective choosing which customer documents to follow instead of asking for clarification; and utterly refusing to contemplate the possibility that just maybe he missed a requirement and designed the wrong ribbon color are not appropriate responses to having your “simple mistakes” uncovered during test.

            The ribbon designer is not working with the customer. The ribbon designer didn’t even want to consult the customer. The ribbon designer didn’t even believe the customer representative who accompanied the llamas during the testing and flagged the wrong color ribbon. Frankly, if it wasn’t for me pushing, we would never have spoken to the customer at all.

            For clarification, just as I am part of llama staff at my company, the customer rep who was present during testing is part of llama staff at his company. Both of us needed to escalate the test failure to our respective llama managers for discussion. When I talk about speaking to the customer, I mean speaking to managerial levels at the customer, not to the staff person who came to our site. That guy left his company shortly after the testing, and my company heard nothing back regarding the failure.

            As my management was asking the ribbon designer what the requirements were and he was denying there could possibly be a problem, I was asking my management whether there was something sensitive about talking directly to the customer. I got permission from my management to contact the customer higher ups directly about the requirements, so, wrong, the tester, me, actually is the one who needs to talk to the customer. Then BJ#2 jumped in and started sending emails without including me.

            Wow, that was a lot of text. What ever happened to taking people at their word?

            BJ#1 was problematic in how he responded to the test failures, and this wasn’t the only incident where he responded problematically. I’ve uncovered a number of inconsistencies between our test procedure, the data we collect, and the customer requirements we work to. Every single one has been met with denial and an assertion that his work is perfect and we should not even bother investigating the inconsistencies.

            He’s been remarkably silent since the customer confirmed that yes, they want yellow ribbons, and the blue ribbons that he designed and that we saw during test are wrong. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          So, here’s what I’m seeing. You had a lot of conflict in a previous workplace, and you sound like you’re either having or about to have a lot of conflict in this one.

          You’re drawing a lot of lines in the sand that you might not actually be able to draw in this workplace — like insisting that you will in fact call people jerks if they’re jerks (and I understand you’re using the brilliant jerks trope and not actually using the word “jerks” at work, but it sounds like you’re intending to communicate roughly that same thing).

          How senior are you? How much capital do you have? Because unless you’re fairly senior and have a decent amount of capital, it sounds like the brilliant jerks have more capital than you do and that’s not a fight you can win … which means that if you keep pushing that angle, you’re likely to become a big problem for your boss.

          And you do sound like you’re part of the problem! You’re saying ESH (“everyone sucks here”) but .. that’s a big problem. This is work, where some people have more capital than others, which means that it’s not “equal” when everyone sucks. If you have less capital than them, you’re going to be seen as the bigger problem when ESH.

          It’s not inherently disrespectful for your coworker to have said he doesn’t copy people if they’re not relevant to the discussion. It IS inherently disrespectful for you to say “coworker made something up.”

          All of which is to say, it sounds a lot to me like you’re on your way to having very similar problems as you had in the previous workplace if you stay committed to the path you’ve described here.

          1. 21st of September*

            It’s not inherently disrespectful for your coworker to have said he doesn’t copy people if they’re not relevant to the discussion.

            I am very relevant to the discussion. Please take my word for it that I am relevant to the discussion.

            It IS inherently disrespectful for you to say “coworker made something up.”

            Ok. So what is a good way to phrase “my coworker, who programmed these colors in the first place, just claimed that these colors were never correct, and I have a picture with the correct colors, that he programmed?” And this isn’t the only incident where he came up with some spurious story when testing revealed inconsistencies between the requirements and the test results (= test failures, just so we’re clear).

            I’m pretty senior, actually. I’m 4 levels above a recent BS grad, and for context, 6 levels above a recent BS grad is where they start considering moving people into management track. I don’t know BJ#1’s job grade. He has to be pretty senior, too, given how long he has been working there. I am senior to BJ#2, but he has been with the company longer. I don’t know his exact grade, but I know I am senior. Job grades are not as linear as you might think, though. They only loosely correlate to authority.

            I know I am on my way to having problems. That’s why I am going to HR (and I’m going to ask you to take me at my word that this is a good and appropriate course). The question was, how do I approach the conversation?

    5. WellRed*

      Well you may actually be the problem. If you regularly feel a need to call out the brilliant jerks, well first of all, did anyone ask you? Do you think you’re so brilliant and all seeing that you are pointing out something they don’t know? What do you hope the end result will be? That they’ll stop being jerks? That they’ll be summarily fired? I’d also caution you to remember: if you meet a jerk, you’ve met a jerk. If everyone you meet is jerk, might be time to reflect on why.

      1. 21st of September*

        Ah, when my response to Irish Teacher shows up, please take a look. In short, 1) if someone is a jerk to me, I don’t need anyone to ask me to “call them out” (your words) 2) Yes, I did see something that nobody else had seen. 3) Yes, I want them to stop being jerks to me. I think that is a reasonable ask. 4) I *am* reflecting on whether or not I’m a jerk. That’s the point of this post and of talking to HR.

        With jerks, it’s not always one or the other. That’s AITA has ESH.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Agreed – This blog may be outside of work, but I am observing that your wording choices in your initial post and especially in some of your replies to people are a little snottier than necessary, which in combination with your descriptions of your past behavior suggests that you may not have changed quite as much as you would like to think.

        1. Nesprin*

          I’m getting the same read.
          Is it possible that the pushback you’re getting from these brilliant jerks is within normal expected levels of politeness for your industry? i.e. short is not the same as rude, and loading docks are not reception.

          Are you getting from them the things you need to do your work? Setting aside their style, which you clearly do not like, are you able to work productively with them?

          Likewise, it sounds like you’re in a QC type role- is it expected that your role would be adversarial? No one likes hearing that a batch failed- is some gruffness/pushback expected in this process?

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Your examples demonstrate pretty clearly that you are much farther from “right” than you seem to think you are.

    6. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Instead of criticising other people, it is nearly always better to ask for specific things that YOU need to do to improve.
      You should specificy if your own work is being hindered by actions or inaction of others.

      I recommend you DO generally stop “pointing out that the brilliant jerks are jerks” (unless they are being sexist, racist etc) because this may be a major cause of complaints against you
      – especially as the company may consider these brilliant “jerks” to be more valuable than you.

      It is also a warning sign to watch for your own “jerkiness” if you think so many coworkers are jerks.

      1. 21st of September*

        I recommend you DO generally stop “pointing out that the brilliant jerks are jerks” (unless they are being sexist, racist etc) because this may be a major cause of complaints against you

        No. Everyone has a right to a respectful work place, including me. I want you to really think hard about the kind of culture you create when it is *worse* to complain that someone is a jerk than it is to be a jerk in the first place.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You’ve got to deal with work as it actually is, not work as it should be. The reality is that if you don’t have the same standing/seniority/capital as the people you think are jerks, this is probably not a fight you can win. I would be worried about repeating the same adversarial pattern as you had in the previous workplace.

        2. Megan*