my coworker tries to drown out my music with her own, propping your foot up on your desk, and more

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

1. We take turns choosing music but my coworker tries to drown mine out

I work in a compounding pharmacy and we are allowed to play music in our compounding room. The room is about 30 feet by 10 feet in size, so not huge. On a typical day, one person will play music through their computer for everyone to listen to. My musical tastes are varied and I tolerate the others as best I can.

However, I have one coworker, Lisa, who is tolerant of everyone else’s music except mine. I’ve worked there over two years and put my favorite Spotify list on maybe five times. Three of those times, Lisa has then turned hers on to try to go over mine. The first two times, I turned mine off. However, this week I did not. So we had two playlists on opposite ends of the room playing. She only turned hers off after someone complained and then asked me to turn mine down. She loves to play hers full volume without regard to others, so it was very unusual for her to do this. My playlist is 57% contemporary Christian with country, 80’s rock, and pop completing the list. It feels to me to be a bullying situation without her saying a word. She is very controlling and a self-appointed boss to everyone who will let her. How do I handle this going forward?

When you have a shared music arrangement like this, ideally you’d have a group agreement about what everyone is and isn’t willing to listen to. Some people have songs or genres that are like nails on a blackboard to them, and it make sense to give each person some veto power — although ideally each person would be judicious about using that veto power, since by definition in a place with shared music, there’s going to be plenty you don’t love. (There’s a whole other thing here about how some people would rather have no music at all, but clearly the music is part of your team’s culture there so I’m going to set that aside.)

It’s important to realize, though, that a lot of people would have real issues with Christian rock being played in their workplace because you’re injecting religion in a place where people have the right to be free of it. (I’ll use myself as an example — I’m Jewish and I absolutely wouldn’t be up for listening to Christian music in my workplace.) Now, to be clear, Lisa is being obnoxious (trying to drown out your music with her own?!) but I do wonder if the type of music you’re playing is a factor. It wouldn’t make her behavior okay — she needs to use her words and speak to you like a grown-up — but that’s the first thing that came to mind when I read your question.

As for what to do, can you talk to your coworkers as a group and suggest coming up with some guidelines for what everyone is and isn’t willing to listen to and a system for fairly trading off DJ authority … plus check in to make sure everyone still wants music played for the group or whether some people would prefer a quieter system with headphones? It sounds like there’s a group conversation to be had here.

The other key step is to talk to Lisa directly: “You keep turning on your own music when it’s my turn to choose a playlist, and you’ve asked me to turn mine down even though yours is usually high-volume. Do you object to the songs or genres I’m choosing? If so, I’d rather you talk to me directly rather than just trying to drown it out.”

2. I’m worried about leaving a new hire to work with our abusive faculty member

For as long as I’ve worked in my job, I’ve had to deal with a deeply unpleasant, abusive professor. This person’s behavior is legendary. Prior to my arrival a decade ago, they had screaming matches with the head of my department regularly. Since I’ve arrived, the worst of their behavior has been reined in by a series of different chairs, new department heads, and new dean. At one point, Abusive Professor was only allowed to communicate through the dean of their school. As in, the professor emailed the dean, the dean double checked the professor’s tone in the email, and forwarded it to the correct person. The student newspaper even published an article about the professor and a second colleague’s horrible behavior.

I’ve been promoted. The person replacing me is a recent college graduate; this is their first professional job. As I’m wrapping up my projects, I’m finding myself reluctant to hand over the task that requires a fair amount of interaction with the professor. I’ve gone as far to suggest that I handle the digital and communication aspects of the task in my new position while the new hire handles the physical collection aspect. This suggestion makes absolutely no sense since 1) my new job shouldn’t be supporting this level of work, and 2) the task makes up a huge percentage of my position’s effort.

In the past, I’ve been angry at my supervisor and my grandboss for how they’ve chosen to handle Abusive Professor’s behavior. Some of their choices left me feeling like I was catering to or reinforcing the abuse. More than once, I’ve wished my supervisor would take over handling all communications with the faculty member and tell me what needed to be done. Or, at least, uphold the base-level policies we expect of other faculty.

I feel stuck. I’ve already figured out my professionally worded spiel on the professor and their behavior to share with the new hire. I feel like an explicit, no-nonsense warning would be better but I worry about setting up the new hire for failure since they’d be basing all their interactions of the professor off my perspective and biases.

Go with the explicit, no-nonsense warning. If the professor’s behavior were less extreme — if it were just things that bugged you but which you’d seen other people deal with more easily — it could make sense not to bias the new hire. But this is extreme — the student paper is writing about it! the dean has to review all this person’s emails! — and you don’t need to sugarcoat that. You’d be doing your replacement a favor by letting them know how things work there and what to expect. They’re obviously going to figure it out on their own soon enough, but you can save them from being blindsided by it. In abusive situations there’s often an early period of “huh?!” where people second-guess their own judgment and try to figure out if a situation is really as bad as it seems; by talking bluntly about how this professor operates — and how the institution enables that — you’ll help them trust their impressions from the start.

And definitely resist the urge to keep doing chunks of your old job in order to protect this person. It’s not your responsibility to increase your own workload to buffer someone else from a jerk. It’s your employer’s job to handle the jerk. It sucks that they’re not doing it, but don’t add to the workarounds that, if anything, will just keep the new hire from seeing the reality of the situation for longer.

3. Propping my foot on my desk (for medical reasons)

I have been dealing with swelling in my foot and ankle, called pedal edema, for several weeks. While I’m treating the cause of the swelling, my doctor has recommended that I elevate my leg whenever it gets swollen. I’ll likely need to do this several times a day, each time for a good 30-40 minutes. I’m otherwise fit to work and work best in the office.

My office has a built-in L-shaped desk. The leg that needs to be elevated is on the inside of the L, so I can’t prop it up on a chair and pillows. I tried propping it under the desk, but I couldn’t get my leg high enough to reduce the swelling. It’s looking like I need to prop my leg on my desk, which I know is incredibly rude in normal circumstances. My plan to try and minimize the “gross feet on the desk” factor by putting a towel over the pillow and desk, removing my street shoe, and either wearing clean house slippers or just black compression socks (also recommended to help with the swelling).

My office has a glass wall without blinds (ugh!) and is in a high traffic area so a lot of people will see me doing this. I’m mobile and other than the swelling there is no visible sign of injury. I was going to explain my situation to my immediate supervisors and the head of HR, but I’m concerned about the optics. I’ve been with the company less than a year, but I do good work and recently received glowing praise for an interdepartmental rush project, but I don’t want to be known as “the one who puts her feet up on her desk.” How would you handle this? Are there any creative solutions that I haven’t thought of?

The key is to make it as obviously medical as possible, or at least as obviously not “I’m just chilling here with my feet up on my desk.” Making tower of towel/pillow/foot is highly likely to achieve that, and even more so if you add a towel layer on top of your foot (which might be overkill or might be ill-advised; do as you wish with that). You’ll be fine.

Read an update to this letter

4. I’m angry that my manager told people about my resignation

After being overworked on a daily basis, my last straw was our supervisor giving holidays out with no thought to other staff who would be expected to pick up even more work without any thanks. I handed my resignation in while my supervisor was on holiday. A day or so later, my supervisor contacted another member of staff to ask why I was leaving, although they had not approached or contacted me at all.

I walked into work a couple days later to find everyone knew I was leaving (I hadn’t shared the information with work colleagues). Am I right to be angry? The supervisor had no right to even ask the other staff member and I thought it very unprofessional. Would you talk to the to supervisor and tell them it wasn’t professional?

It’s pretty normal for resignations to be shared with others; it’s usually relevant info that other people need in order to do their jobs (they need to know project X will be transitioning to person Y, or that they’ll need to cover Z until a replacement is hired, or all sorts of other logistics). Even when there’s no obvious business need, though, it’s not generally considered confidential info unless you’ve specifically requested that for some reason (and even then it wouldn’t necessarily be something an employer would agree to). So while your manager may have lots of other flaws, this particular action wasn’t unprofessional or something you should be angry about.

5. Field report: Washington state pay transparency law

I was recently laid off unexpectedly, and have been job searching for the first time in a couple years as a result. I live in Seattle, and the difference from my last search (pre the pay transparency law) to now is astonishing. I work in commercial real estate, and salaries for my type of job are dictated by size of the building or portfolio and rent per square foot. Because of this, jobs with the same title and job description pay radically differently. So a Chief Wombat Wrangler at a high-rise in downtown might make $150,000 a year, and the same job at a hotel in a suburb might be $25.74 an hour. In the past when I’ve been looking for work, this led me to waste countless hours applying and interviewing for jobs that are a promotion on paper but a huge reduction in pay. Thanks to the new law, that’s almost never a problem anymore.

I know there was a lot of skepticism here when the law was passed, and there are certainly the occasional job posting that doesn’t list a range or has it set to $30-200k a year or something obviously ridiculous. But I wanted to let your readers know that it is working, and has been a huge benefit. If you can push for something like this in your state, do it!

Excellent. Consider it passed along.

{ 1,080 comments… read them below }

    1. Shakti*

      Yes I agree, the second I saw that I was like well I’d hope I’d be mature enough to not drown it out and have a conversation with the person about how I’m not comfortable with that playing at work I don’t really blame Lisa lol especially since they mentioned that it seemed like bullying?? Which is a stretch to put it generously

    2. Ess in Tee*

      Strong agreement here.

      Lisa’s behaviour is obnoxious and pretty passive aggressive. That said, putting myself in her shoes, I’d be pretty upset if my non-Christian self had to listen to Christian music all shift.

      1. Dee*

        OP should at least allow for the possibility that Lisa is afraid to sound anti-Christian if she asks to have that genre omitted. Lisa might be flailing on how to handle it without sounding discriminatory.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Either that or she’s concerned with how LW will react. If they think what she’s already doing is bullying, can they be trusted to gracefully apologize and stop playing those songs without a lot of drama?

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Or without trying to push religion on Lisa? That’s what the fundamentalists I grew up with would do. They would use any response to the music as an opening to try to convert her. I wouldn’t want to deal with that either. I left that area to get away from that.

            1. southern ladybug*

              Yes this – very common where I live as well. The volume war isn’t the way to handle it, but I do understand the desire to just not engage on the Christian music discussion to avoid that discussion.

            2. Cherries Jubilee*

              Yes, I think there’s a chance that she might feel like if you’re willing to just put on religious themed music in a shared workspace without asking if everyone’s OK with it, there’s a high chance that if she tried to decline that you would get pushy or proselytize.

              Definitely doesn’t make her solution mature or wise, obviously, she should just talk to you. but you can see potential motivations.

          2. Just Another Zebra*

            Yeah, this was my immediate thought. Rightly or wrongly, I have biases about people who listen to both Christian music and country music – mostly concerning their beliefs and how they will respond if those beliefs are “threatened”. Lisa isn’t handling this well, no question. But OP, I’d think about why she may feel she cannot just plainly tell you “hey, can we please pick something else?”

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Well, there is country and there is country. The (formerly Dixie) Chicks are country. There is quite an active progressive country scene. You just won’t find it on “country” radio.

              1. Andy*

                Considering that one recent country hit is essentially a prolonged murder fantasy directed at people who think differently from them, surely one could forgive Lisa for not being interested in sorting out the gatekeeping within the country music community.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  Considering that The Chicks were driven out of the country mainstream for thinking differently, surely we should acknowledge their existence.

                2. Lenora Rose*

                  Richard: I’m not sure “We drove the Chicks right out of the mainstream” is an argument FOR the progressive nature of people who listen to both mainstream country and Christian rock together.

                  Yes, there is progressive country. And there’s not even anything wrong with liking mainstream country if it’s your jam and you’re a bit selective/picky about which artists. But it’s telling, as a whole, that the Chicks are no longer considered mainstream and Li’l Nas X created a storm by writing a song that more progressive country fans liked enough to outbuy the conservatives, and what it’s telling isn’t exactly “everything is great for progressives in Country music and the overall tone of the genre is open and welcoming.”

                  I have a very small select set of Christian rock songs in my overall music list (along with an almost as small set of country ones), but if I was curating a playlist of my stuff which I would feel comfortable playing at work, I’d be liable to remove anything where the lyrics are overtly religious — including the ones by more secular musicians, or musicians whom I also know have Wiccan/Pagan-friendly tracks.

                3. Richard Hershberger*

                  I think we have lost the thread. I was explicitly talking about progressive country, which was then dismissed.

                4. DJ Abbott*

                  There are several variations of country music. Country roots and Western music are two of the ones that overlap with the music I’m involved with. There’s also Bluegrass and traditional Appalachian music, and probably other scenes as well.
                  All the ones I’m familiar with are more progressive than the genre called Country or Country Western. In the absence of further information, I have to assume it was this genre OP1 is referring to.

                5. Dek*

                  Between that and the one from that Staind guy, yeah, modern country would give me some dicey vibes. But looking at the genre as a whole, there’s a wide mix. Dolly Parton, Reba, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson… I wouldn’t write off the whole genre. I just wouldn’t want a “current country hits” radio station playing somewhere I had to be all day.

                  But since it is a more mainstream genre, if Lisa is the only one with a problem with country, then it doesn’t seem as objectionable for the workplace as Christian rock does. Providing that Righteous Violence Fantasy: The Song isn’t on the playlist.

                6. Andy*

                  Sorry, Richard – I wasn’t trying to argue that progressive country doesn’t exist. I know it does. I was more trying to make the argument that it’s not really *Lisa’s* job to figure out whether her coworker is playing progressive country or Redneck Murder Fantasy: The Musical alongside contemporary Christian hits.

              2. FemaleAdminAssistant*

                I know that what many people think of when they think of “modern country music” is more of the “bro country” vibe or of the Jason Aldean or Morgan Wallen variety, which ~does~ seem to be what is now the majority of the “modern country music” sphere. I totally get that. I wish there was more of a place in country music for artists along the lines of Maren Morris or Kelsea Ballerini, or the artists in the “confessional country, singer-songwriter, early Taylor-Swift” sphere. That’s the kind of “modern country music” I enjoy. I think one thing that differentiates country from contemporary Christian/Christian rock music is that there are songs in the country music genre that are not religious, but all contemporary Christian/Christian rock songs are religious (and specifically Christian) by definition.

                1. Korooooooooibete*

                  Well, you could do religion and country in one song with Hayes Carll “She left me for Jesus”… (an excellent song, not to be taken seriously).

                  Can I recommend Amanda Ann Platt and The Honeycutters? I think they’re one of the best acts around.

              3. Princess Sparklepony*

                Just had to chime in with one of my favorite movie quotes:

                We got both kinds (of music) – we got Country and Western!

                Weirdly, that’s the only thing I remember from that movie.

            2. The Shenanigans*

              Yeah I have had the same experience. And the fundies I knew would take “hey could you please not?” as an attack. Now, Lisa shouldn’t apply that baggage to the OP if she has no reason to assume that the OP will be unreasonable. OP should consider if she’s given Lisa any reason to think she would be, first all. If not, then this is an excellent opportunity to live her faith by being kind, mature, reasonable, and thoughtful in this situation.

              OP should also take stock of other things she’s doing and see if she’s unconsciously pushing religion. OP may really think that Christian music is just music, like how many Christians think that Christmas is just a holiday. So OP should maybe take stock and see if they are acting like everyone should be okay with their religion because its still the majority/default in this country in other ways.

          3. Observer*

            Either that or she’s concerned with how LW will react. If they think what she’s already doing is bullying, can they be trusted to gracefully apologize and stop playing those songs without a lot of drama?

            I think this is the key. And I think that the answer is no, she can’t. The OP clearly dislikes Lisa and she’s having a rather overwrought reaction to Lisa’s admittedly passive aggressive behavior.

          4. Anon Again... Naturally*

            I think Dark Macademia hit it on the head. Especially the bit about “She is very controlling and a self-appointed boss to everyone who will let her.” OP, have you and Lisa butted heads before, and how was that resolved? Also, the fact that someone else complained and then asked you to turn your music down is very telling. This is not a situation where there can be a compromise: I can tell you that the amount of Christian music (or “Try That In a Small Town” country music for that matter) that can be played in the workplace without me becoming uncomfortable is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Yes, Lisa and the others should have explicitly stated that your music choices are making them uncomfortable. I would encourage you to take some time to reflect on if you are presenting yourself in a way that makes your co-workers think you would respond professionally and reasonably to such a complaint, and if not, how you can change that narrative.

          5. Dek*

            I think what Lisa’s doing is bullying, even if I understand what she’s doing it, and I can’t swear on a stack that it wouldn’t cross my mind. I’m Christian, and I would still be uncomfortable with Christian rock being played in the workplace. I’m a little surprised OP thought it was appropriate to play Christian music in a work setting where everyone else has to hear it, without at least checking first.

            I could understand if Lisa maybe thinks that asking with her grown-up words for OP not to play that genre might create a Problem, but singling out only OP’s music for this drowning out treatment is so much worse.

            1. Kara*

              Lisa may not be intentionally bullying; she may believe that she’s being polite or trying to avoid conflict. It’s awkward when someone near you is playing music that you despise but you don’t want to ask them to stop because it’s something they enjoy and you don’t want to take it from them. Doubly so if you’ve reason to believe that their musical tastes are narrow enough that there is zero overlap with yours. (I’ve worked with more than a few people who described their tastes as ‘a little of everything’, but in practice that turned out to be ‘a little of each genre of country; wait, other musical genres exist?’ Note: I work in construction where country is king!) The ‘easy’ solution is to just quietly load up your musical playlist so that both of you can listen to music you enjoy. And, well, you can’t quite hear your music playing, so up goes the volume a little, and a little more, and, well… It’s not the right thing to do, but it’s an easy trap to fall into, especially if you’re conflict-averse.

                1. Princess Sparklepony*

                  Darn, I thought I was the first. I should have read all the way to the bottom….

              1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

                “…but you don’t want to ask them to stop because it’s something they enjoy and you don’t want to take it from them.”

                This seems far too generous to Lisa. It’s hard to square the above motivation with turning up your own music to drown it out.

              2. Dek*

                I get that. It’s why I said I can’t swear I wouldn’t think of doing the same. Because the idea of actually confronting a person about their music is a bit nerve-wracking, and could be even moreso depending on the relationship you have with a coworker.

                But if there’s an established thing where everyone gets to pick the music to play, and on the day one specific person plays their music, you choose to also play yours…that’s where it falls apart a bit for me. Because there’s an understanding about how the music works, and Lisa is breaking it (which would also be something that would make me anxious to do). The war of the volume also feels not-so-innocent.

                I don’t know that Delia is really setting out to bully OP, but I also don’t think OP is overreacting to say that this feels like bullying.

            2. GrooveBat*

              We haven’t heard back from OP, but if OP is the only one playing Christian music then it makes sense that OP’s music would be the music that gets singled out/drowned out.

          6. Just Another Techie*

            Right? I am Christian but am still wary of public places like stores or pharmacies that play “Christian rock” on the floor. It’s unfortunately got a high overlap with other unprofessional or antisocial behavior :(

        2. Jade*

          There’s no legal protection on playing religious music at work but I agree. Maybe Lisa is feeling bullied herself. Dueling radios is immature on both sides.

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            Regardless of whether Lisa has legal protections and standing to object to the music, she may not feel able to exercise her right to object safely, given the social paradigms in place.

            There are plenty of places where someone being a “nonbeliever” in the dominant religion risks gossip, ceaseless proselytizing, censure, employment opportunities, and even their physical safety – even in supposedly tolerant countries.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              Agreed, but in this case I think if she felt her physical safety in danger, she wouldn’t be playing her music against OP’s. That’s a pretty obvious thing.

            2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

              HUGE +1 to your second paragraph. I’m in the south now and even though my company talks a big game about equality and diversity, it is very strongly Christian, and there are major (though unspoken) consequences for anyone of a different religion.

              I also can’t imagine the gall it takes to force someone to listen to music from a specific religion all the time, particularly at work where they can’t escape it.

              1. Sorry, still haven't picked a clever username*

                I would for real play the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) for 8 hours straight on my day to control the music if I was Lisa. But then I’m petty af.

                1. jasmine*

                  If you’re not Muslim, please don’t…. do things like that (source: I’m Muslim)

                  Chants/songs from other religions might have meanings and nuances that you aren’t aware of. It’s one thing to appreciate them on your own, another to weaponize them if you’re not a part of the religion.

                2. Arabella Flynn*

                  I don’t think it would be necessary to involve other religious music. If you’re dealing with someone who would be upset at the reminder that Muslim people exist and create art, secular Arabic pop would probably work just as well. Samira Saïd is pretty classic, and the lyrics in translation wouldn’t contain anything worse than American Top 40 radio.

                3. ADidgeridooForYou*

                  Ehh, I get the temptation to do this, but I don’t love the idea of using other people’s very real cultures and beliefs just to prove a point. A white/non-Muslim person searching YouTube for prayer calls or songs in Arabic they’ve never listened to before and don’t know the meaning of can easily have the opposite effect and feel othering, like they’re using that culture for their office war (assuming they are in fact a non-member of that culture; if they are, then maybe it’s a different story. However, I still don’t think it’s the best route).

                4. UKDancer*

                  It’s better to play Egyptian pop songs or other non religious music from Egypt, North Africa etc. I dance to a lot of it for Egyptian dance and there are some really neat secular songs out there. Amr Diab, Mohamed Ramadan and Hakim are good people to start with in my opinion.

                5. Jessica*

                  WHY do people think it’s okay to weaponize the culture and practices of minority traditions–whose very EXISTENCE often gets treated as a threat by Christians–in order to score petty “victories” on Christians?

                  Hey! You! My people get shot during baby naming celebrations because Christians think we’re somehow being aggressive AT them by existing at all, and Muslims in the US aren’t any safer than we are, and you think it’s cute to aggressively use our traditions to annoy Christians when you aren’t going to suffer any of the fallout from it???


                6. The Shenanigans*

                  I’m with Jessica on this one. Its disrespectful to use other religions as a weapon against Christianity.

                  UKDancer – Ooh! Thanks for the recommendations!

            3. change the station please*


              The most uncomfortable cab ride I ever took, the driver had on the local contemporary Christian station, playing lots of overtly, aggressively religious music and interludes of right-wing commercials and DJ chatter. Now, I am not Christian but I am not visibly anything else (no religious markers in clothing/appearance) so could have been assumed as such- and I sat miserably the whole time because I did not want to know what would happen if a man who had me as a captive audience in his car took offense to my request to change the station. When someone who assumes you are Like Them finds out you are not, sometimes they think they can ‘fix’ you. Sometimes they want to get rid of you. Sometimes they just want you to suffer for your wrongness. There’s no way to know.

              OP has the privilege of not knowing how scary that situation can be! I suspect given their blind spot about why their choices aren’t neutral, they won’t be swayed by that argument- after all, don’t us sinners *deserve* to feel unsafe- but I wish they’d find a little compassion in their heart and limit it to the 80s bops and country.

              (The saddest part? I gave the ride five stars, because I got dropped off at home, and I worried about retaliation from someone who knew my address.)

              1. Michelle Smith*

                In the future, you should feel free to leave a lower rating (e.g., if the ride was safe and the only thing objectionable was the music, maybe 4 stars) and the reason for your rating in the options that pop up. Uber ratings are reported as averages. The driver would not know it was you complaining, especially if you did not say anything to them at the time, and it would be as damaging to their livelihood as a 1 star (if the ride wasn’t a 1 star – I’ve definitely been on some that were).

              2. CommanderBanana*

                I got into an Uber that was playing praise and worship music and told the driver to switch it or turn it off. Totally understand not feeling comfortable doing that though!

                1. There You Are*

                  I got into a Lyft that was playing praise and worship music, and nicely asked the driver to pick a different station or turn the music off entirely.

                  He berated me, prayed for me, and tried to goad me into arguing with him all the way to the airport.

                  He had picked me up at my house so I didn’t feel safe leaving a negative review. I opted to tip nothing and not rate him at all.

                2. Meep*

                  Maybe because I always get the most insane drivers (i.e. One was dropping me to pick up my car and was relieved I had an ~Merican~ car. Another talked to me the entire time about night vision goggles and conspiracy theories involving both sides when I mentioned I was going to an engineering conference) I think I hardly blame them.

                3. Princess Sparklepony*

                  I’ve been very lucky. One night I had a guy playing dance music that I had never heard before and some of it was pretty good. The disco ball hanging from the rear view might have tipped me off as to the ride amenities!

                  Although one day I was taking a cab, luckily a short tip under 20 minutes, and the cab driver kept grabbing for Kleenex. He was not using them to blow his nose. I was never so happy to leave a cab….

              3. Teach*

                Oh wow, this happens to me in Lyfts and Ubers all the time. like, ALL the time. I would say that Christian contemporary is the most common genre I hear on rideshare drivers’ radios I live in a purple state, but definitely a very blue area. it really doesn’t bother me–while it’s not exactly what I believe in, I’m in their car so I don’t mind experiencing their vibes for 15 minutes. not that I blame anyone who feels otherwise.

                1. Emikyu*

                  I can respect that, but there’s also a big difference between simply not believing in Christianity and having been actively harmed by it.

                  For me, an atheist lesbian raised conservative evangelical, Christianity is a lot more fraught than just “not exactly what I believe in”. And yes I know, #notallchristians etc., but when someone turns on Christian music it immediately stresses me out a lot. And honestly, even if you are the chill hippie Jesus-loves-you-as-you-are type, it still just seems thoughtless to just assume that I won’t have any problem with your religious music when you don’t even know me.

                  I really wish more people understood the impact that religious trauma can have on people, and not automatically assume that Christianity is synonymous with wholesome and inoffensive.

                2. Willow Pillow*

                  I agree, Emily. A family member of mine recently took a job with a faith-based organization (along the lines of a homeless shelter that promotes Christianity) and I’ve had a hard time keeping up the same level of relationship with them since. They are free to work wherever they choose, and sometimes employment means making difficult choices, but as someone who was ostracized for being a clinically depressed teenager, those seemingly innocuous things can be pretty triggering.

              4. AceInPlainSight*

                Oof. Related, the funniest Uber ride I’ve ever been in included me and two gay friends on the way to a gay bar while the driver played Christian worship music (I say funny. It was awkward and uncomfortable. But also wonderfully ironic)

                1. Psaradactyl*

                  Another ace (romantically lesbian, totally ace) chiming in here to say that one of my weirdest cab/rideshare rides was shockingly similar, though it was little teenage proto-lesbian ace me and my very flamboyantly gay best friend going to musical theatre.
                  It was a cringingly uncomfortable ride that we laughed about for years.
                  RIP Mike. You were an amazing friend.

            4. Psaradactyl*

              I was one of those. I’m an atheist and have been for most of my life, though I stay pretty below-the-radar. I was also raised in a small (albeit surface-polite, Canadian) town in the 80s/90s, and raised in a religion (anglican). During that time, even the anglican church in general was against LGBT+ people/rights, but was at least a lot less vocal about that sad fact than certain other denominations I might name…
              Growing up LGBT+ in the 80s/90s wasn’t easy, and I think most of us who grew up then have some real bad blood with religion, esp. christianity.
              Eventually, I had to share an office with someone who turned out to be an evangelical. Of the worst, most homophobic sort.
              One day, early on in our sharing space, I walked in to find that she was loudly playing evangelical praise music (and eventually homophobic podcasts), and a lot of it held misogynistic and anti-LGBT+ lyrics and themes.
              I did politely ask her to avoid playing that sort of stuff when I was around, but that just clued her in that I was LGBT+ and the ‘music’ and podcasts got even more virulent. Eventually, after months of trying to handle it myself, I took it to my boss, who basically threw up his hands and said ‘I’m not touching this!’, so I had to take it to HR. She tried to evangelise at me on multiple occasions until I told her I wanted nothing to do with her god at all and that if she kept trying to shove it down my throat, I’d make another HR complaint.
              HR told her that if she kept playing that stuff when others were in the shared space (our office was actually the server room, and while she was at her desk in there all day, all the rest of us were in and out, with me spending the most time there besides her), she’d be written up and could end up terminated over it. Same with evangelising at work.
              She stopped playing that stuff when I was around, and eventually, another (non-LGBT+ who had a gay son) staff member also complained after getting evangelised at, and she was told to stop playing that music or talking about religion at all at work.
              That *really* got her steamed, and over the next few years, she tried to make life difficult for us all. Everyone in that office. Not just myself and the other person who complained. Everyone. Though the other complainant and I certainly got it a lot worse than the others. We got nasty attitude, delayed or missing parts orders, being tasked with far more jobs than everyone else and derided when we couldn’t deliver on each and every task, and bullying comments.
              Finally, she found another job. When our boss told us she was leaving, people actually started to cheer.

            5. Princess Sparklepony*

              They need to have a meeting and set up a suggestion box for the types of music anyone doesn’t want to hear. Leave the suggestion box up for a week. Empty it and see what music is getting the hex. Put out a memo with the banned songs/genre and have people cull their playlists accordingly. It might be one song, it might be 10 songs. It might be a genre or seven genres, it might be a call for headphones for everyone. Maybe there are no off limits songs, just some people have problems with other people….

              People here need to use both their words and their problem solving abilities.

              1. Rockon*

                “not wanting to hear music” because it is not your thing vs. “not wanting to hear music because it is prostilizing religion” are not the same thing. One place I worked, a large open workspace people played conservative talk radio and Christian rock all day. I hated having to just walk through the space to where I worked. It made me feel ill, anxious and frustrated. Given the cultural context of the workplace and broader community, there was no way I was going to say anything. It would have made the workplace untenable and officially “outed” me as an “other”, even though I was a practicing Christian (in a very left-leaning congregation) at the time. There were at least half dozen of us who strongly objected to the nature of the audio coming from that area of the workplace. None of us were going to say anything. Although there may have been one person who enjoyed playing High Times radio at high volume as a response. Seriously, these things are not just “I don’t like the music” but an EEO case.

                1. catsoverpeople*

                  THIS. I think Lisa from the letter doesn’t want to be “outed” as atheist or any non-Christian religious affiliation. If Lisa is LGBT+ she may fear for her safety.

              2. Willow Pillow*

                This sounds like it comes from someone who’s never done both and been ignored or even bullied.

          2. Wintermute*

            that isn’t entirely true. If employees are generally allowed to play whatever music they wish then it could very well be called discrimination to say “all music is allowed, except your music because it is too religious”.

            It’s kind of a dicey topic because the line between people’s right to be privately religious even if others may see/hear/etc. their religious activities and prostylezation can be very fine. In general the law says that the mere presence of religious messages isn’t a problem even though it makes some people uncomfortable for good reason.

            It’s far from clear-cut, it would have to be for a jury to decide, but it’s also not bonkers to say that banning religious music, or including religiosity in the same “inherently offensive” category as obscene language and violent lyrics is a potential legal issue.

            1. Dek*

              I think politely asking employees to refrain from playing religious music of any type would still be equal treatment. And that if that doesn’t solve the problem, in my experience, the next step is Taking The Toys Away.

              1. Wintermute*

                It might, I think a better approach would be to say that basically, music has to be neutral in most respects without singling out religion– it shouldn’t have any overt political, social or religious message. That’s both the most inclusive and avoids singling out religion.

                The part that worries me is if you have a policy, formal or informal, that prohibits the obvious things like profanity, violence, misogyny and so on and you include religion on that list then you are basically equating religion with obscenity and that is where the offensive part could lie (and I say that as a staunch athiest)

                1. GrooveBat*

                  I wouldn’t necessarily include “social” in there, but 100% on board with “political or religious” messages. And I’m sure you could word a policy in a way that doesn’t equate them, e.g., “Refrain from playing music with profanity, violent, or misogynistic lyrics. In addition, please do not play music with overtly political or religious themes.”

                2. sparkle emoji*

                  The problem is that the people who would play religious music at work see it as neutral. Name the problem.

            2. Fluffy Fish*

              No jury necessary – one because it would be a civil matter but 2 because it is pretty clear cut. Playing Christian (or any other religion) music when other employees cannot opt out, and one or more protest is 100000% covered under religious protection employment law in the US – an employees right to practice cannot infringe on another’s right to practice whatever they want – including not practice at all. Christian music is a bit more than just a message existing.

              Banning an employee from listening to Christian music in their private office would be discrimination.

              1. Wintermute*

                civil trials can still have juries depending on the amount, and I really, really do not think it’s that clear-cut, nothing in law is. It would depend heavily on what else they disallow and allow, what stated policy is, and if that means they are treating religious music with a special animus among other factors.

                1. MnM*

                  It really actually is clear cut. You can’t hold a sermon in the lunch room, you can’t proselytize in your coworker’s cubicle, and you can’t play religious music in a shared space, *especially* when your coworkers can’t opt out.

                  I hear your point about not wanting to put it in a category with “offensive” things like profanity, but I find Christianity offensive and profanity non-offensive. It doesn’t really matter what the particular company’s policy on allowed music is, because religious protection laws are pretty clear about this. The company has a duty to protect employees from religious proselytizing, and Christian music certainly fits the bill.

                  At the end of the day, it’s in the company’s best interest to not allow religious music in shared space in the workplace. Like Fluffy Fish said – it would only be discrimination if they disallowed you from privately listening to religious music or singled out a specific religion’s music.

            3. The Shenanigans*

              No one is saying religion as inherently offensive like songs like “Try That In A Small Town”. But, we ARE saying that it’s a violation of freedom from religion. Also, a lot of the reaction against this kind of music in public is caused directly by too many Christians choices to be cruel to other people. So, I don’t really feel too sorry for them here. If they didn’t want people to have such visceral reactions to public displays of their faith, they shouldn’t have allowed many, many, MANY churches to push fascism and theocracy as a matter of policy in this country. Sure, not all individual Christians are mean but the political institution of the Christian Right absolutely is. That’s what most people know as Christianity in America.

              The Christians who aren’t mean understand that too many people have been hurt by that institution, and so aren’t the ones making a fuss when asked to used headphones or turn it off or down. They get that compassion is the cornerstone of their faith, and get the harm Christianity has caused to people, especially women and queer people. The ones arguing about it are the ones causing the problem in the first place. So, I don’t feel at all sorry for them because it’s not actually, truly about religion.

            4. Willow Pillow*

              Accommodations for protected classes are based on actual circumstances, not on things that *could* be.

        3. Office Lobster DJ*

          I agree that, even with the script provided, Lisa may feel too awkward to specifically name the Christian music as her problem. It may land better if OP names it first and/or presents a new playlist as a done deal.

          1. sparkle emoji*

            I think OP should keep her work playlists secular. Still have the discussion in case there are other issues with the musis but with the Christian songs I don’t see a good reason to risk it by playing them. Even if no one currently has an issue, the company could bring in a new hire later who does. No reason to create a norm that explicitly religious music is fine to play in a shared space.

        4. My Useless 2 Cents*

          Since Lisa is not using her words I get where the OP feels like she is being bullied here. However, it could be that Lisa just doesn’t see this is coming across as passive aggressive. I grew up in a house with a lot of competing sounds and you can get used to choosing what you are focusing on.

          But I’d try shying away from the Christian pop and see if things improve. I am, for the most part, anti-conflict and would probably resist mentioning I didn’t care for Christian pop music in the office (nor would I care to listen to some hard core heavy metal or gangster rap) as I just don’t think most of it is appropriate in an office setting.

        5. WillowSunstar*

          That too, and some non-Christians still get illegally discriminated against in certain areas of the US. I would absolutely not be comfortable telling my coworkers I’m agnostic, for example.

        6. Indolent Libertine*

          Given the number of times LW1 uses the words “tolerant/tolerance,” I absolutely believe that were anyone to explicitly ask them to stop playing overtly Christian music at work, they would 100% come back with “this is religious discrimination, my coworkers are intolerant of my being a Christian” and then management would tell Lisa and the others to suck it up while they go wring their hands in a corner lest there be lawsuits and protests and boycotts. Lisa blasting her own music over LW1’s isn’t exactly a constructive way to express her discomfort, but I can understand her being reluctant to speak up.

          1. Katydid*

            What I don’t understand is–where is management in all this? In my workplace, the managers would have shut down the religious music the moment they heard it. Is management unaware, or is management aware and perfectly okay with the LW playing religious music where everyone can hear? If it’s the latter, it’s probably NOT safe for Lisa to say anything…except to a lawyer, and that might not be worth the time & expense to her.

      2. Glen*

        Oof. There is, at minimum, a very good chance Lisa is doing this because she doesn’t feel comfortable calling out the highly inappropriate borderline prosyletising in the office because she’s concerned about LW1’s potential response (or, indeed, other people) who may regard her as antichristian, and, to be frank, if this comes across as borderline “bullying” to you then she probably has reason to be concerned, even if that concern is misplaced, as I am sure it is.

        Of course it’s also possible Lisa is just a passive aggressive turd! But Christian music doesn’t belong in the workplace any more than any other kind of preaching, frankly. Maybe it’s because I’m not American, but this seems wildly out of line to me.

        1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

          I am American, and it absolutely is wildly out of line. I’m shocked and disappointed that OP hasn’t faced disciplinary action.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Why? What part of the country are you in? In many, many places in the US, not only is this concept of disciplinary action for Christian music a wild thing to expect, but many businesses and companies actively pump it through the speakers for everyone to hear. I’ve been everywhere from wineries to craft shops where the music was contemporary Christian – it’s pervasive enough that a lot of people who aren’t in the dominate group don’t even register it as being problematic for people.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Oh wow I don’t think I’ve ever heard Christian music in a store or a business, unless you mean Christmas music? Northeast Midwest, formerly purple, currently red, state. The number of times I’ve heard Christian rock or worship music or any variety of Christian music in a business that wasn’t a church has been zero.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                I live in the South and have all my life, and I’ve never heard Christian music playing in a store or other business–*except* for some medical providers. My dentist used to. One of my current doctors plays the local Christian music station in the waiting room, and I hate it so much. My doctor is excellent, so I stick it out, but I hate that part of office visits so, so much.

                1. Zelda*

                  Have you mentioned it to the doctor? If it’s just in the waiting room, it’s just possible that they may genuinely not know– and it wouldn’t be the first time that medical office staff were doing things that drive away patients without the knowledge or approval of the actual medical staff.

              2. ThursdaysGeek*

                I’m in the Pacific NW, and a local Mongolian Grill plays Christian rock. It’s at background levels of volume, so I think I didn’t even notice it at first.

              3. MigraineMonth*

                I was the only employee working at a toy store in December. (Yes, it was bananas.)

                There was no store policy on music, just a handful of CD’s, so I spent that December listening to Paul Simon, Enya and the LOTR’s soundtrack. Several shoppers thanked me for not playing Christmas music.

              4. I don’t post often*

                I have heard many stores play instrumental Christian music- so one might not know that is what it was if they were not familiar.

              5. Wilbur*

                IL, there’s a doctors office in a smaller practice that will regularly have it on the speakers. I think it’s one of the nurses because it’s not all the time.

                I think it’s more of a not rare occurrence rather than something that’s common. I don’t think you’d encounter it in more than 5% of businesses.

              6. CowWhisperer*

                I’m a Michigander and it’s pretty common to hear CCM in shops outside of cities.

                I’m a Christian who objects to CCM on musical quality grounds so I avoid those shops when possible.

                I did change dentists because one dentist group played CCM continuously and I couldn’t handle an hour of that.

              7. Not Jane*

                I was at an In-N-Out a few months ago in San Diego and they were playing contemporary Christian music. Not just in the back, throughout the entire restaurant.

                1. Antigone Funn*

                  In-n-Out is an explicitly Christian business. It’s been a while (hate their food TBH), but do they not still put bible verses on their french fry cups?

              8. Yikes Stripes*

                I’m in California and have encountered Christian music in two different restaurants. I left scathing yelp reviews for both of them and haven’t been back – if they (and all the people with Jesus fish in their logos/ads/what have you) don’t like me and my kind, well, they don’t get my money.

                1. Dave the Trucker*

                  I don’t listen to Christian music on purpose, but I could really go for some Jack-In-The-B-Jesus-Fish right now.

            2. There You Are*

              Texan here: Almost every single Whataburger I’ve walked into in Texas has Christian rock playing. I asked one manager one time if they had any other music options and was told that I could eat at a different burger place if I didn’t like what was playing at Whataburger.

              1. RussianInTexas*

                Also Texas, and I honestly never noticed what music is played in Whataburgers, been to few.

          2. Wintermute*

            If employees are generally allowed to play whatever music they wish you’d be opening an entire can of worms to punish someone for their music being “too religious”. It’s far from clear-cut but first of all, punishing them is WAY out of line if they haven’t even been told it’s an issue, people aren’t born aligned on norms on these things, second of all there could well be legal trouble, especially if they skip having a conversation and go right to punishment.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I agree that a conversation is in order before any disciplinary action. But an employer can request that someone not play overly religious music aloud in common areas.

          3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I think it is also key to note that “Christian Contemporary” can cover a wide array of music–much of which a casual listener wouldn’t recognize as being religious in nature because they aren’t name dropping Jesus every other line. Praise and worship songs are a whole different thing.

            Even if the majority of the playlist is technically classed as Christian music, the songs themselves may contain only passing references to spirituality–which also appear in other genres of music. Now, if she is blasting praise and worship tunes, I would be surprised a supervisor or someone hasn’t said something, but it is possible LW1’s work playlist is pretty secular sounding.

            1. Melody Powers*

              Yeah I’m curious about what kind of Christian music this is. There’s plenty that can sound like a love song unless you know they’re actually talking about Jesus because they don’t namedrop him explicitly. I’d still suggest that OP avoid it, but it’s not necessarily obvious to those who don’t know the artists.

            2. Yikes Stripes*

              Please believe me when I say that as an atheist who has been forced to listen to a great deal of Christian contemporary music, I can always tell. I can usually tell within the first five lines.

              It’s not subtle.

              1. Rockon*

                This. It is very obvious and it immediately creeps me out. I would honestly find gospel music or just straight up old style hymns less offensive than Christian contemporary music.

                1. Chinookwind*

                  And it is important to note that you can’t lump all “Christian music” into the same category as the overt, Christian contemporary stuff otherwise you end up having to ban Handel and Bach (and Gregorian and Tibetan chants) as well. Being able to specify that it the ban is for “overtly religious or political” goes to the core of what is the problem.

                  For myself, it would be great to work in an environment where I don’t have the urge to debate the philosophy and/or theology that is being expressed while someone sings Evangelical Christian hymns while they work. I think I will have to use AAM’s wording to explain to my boss why she needs to focus on some other songs.

              2. The Shenanigans*

                Yup agreed. It’s pretty obvious just based on content and sound. It doesn’t have to SAY God or Jesus every second to be clearly a Christian Band (vs a band that just happens to include Christians).

            3. Pajamas on Bananas*

              Exactly. I listened to skillet for years and didn’t know they were Christian.

          4. Jessica*


            There’s a lot of discussion here about the effect on Lisa and other coworkers, but I haven’t seen a lot of discussion about the impact on customers.

            If I walk into a business and they’re playing Christian music (aside from around Christmas, when everyone does it and it’s unavoidable), I turn and walk right out.

            Given the recent, robust history of Christian pharmacists harassing customers who need prescriptions for birth control or hormones filled, demanding private medical information in front of other customers, and refusing to fill prescriptions, having Christian music playing in your pharmacy can reasonably be read as a sign to customers from demographics targeted by Christians that they should go find a different pharmacy.

            Unless that’s what management is going for, they should have told LW1 to stop a long time ago, and yes, engaged in disciplinary action if the LW refused.

            It’s creating a hostile work environment for other employees, and potentially driving away customers.

            1. GlitterIsEverything*

              Absolutely agreed, it’s completely out of line in a pharmacy, for exactly those reasons.

              But it’s worse than that.

              This is a compounding pharmacy. Depending on the community they’re it’s, it’s completely possible that this is the only compounding pharmacy within a 50 like radius.

          5. Moonstone*

            It is absolutely out of line and I would be fuming if I was forced to listen to any of that music. I don’t want to hear it and I certainly don’t want to be a captive audience to it while I’m trying to work.

        2. Lily*

          Not American either and yeah, that’s really bizarre to me. Lisa is being really passive aggressive, but forcing people to listen to Christian rock also seems like passive aggressive proselytising.

          1. Psaradactyl*

            Exactly. Because it is. And I’d be complaining (again. I had to take a situation like this to HR about 25 years ago over a coworker playing evangelical praise music and evangelical podcasts – most of which were very anti-LGBT+ rights/personhood – in our shared office. This is totally one of the tactics that they use to proselytise).
            Wildly inappropriate for the workplace. Doubly so given that the workplace in the original post is a pharmacy, and people might be going there for birth control, Plan B, or hormonal therapy to help them transition. As an LGBT+ person who is also considered Trans (agender), if I heard overtly christian music coming from my pharmacy, I would be changing pharmacies, because I would question their commitment to serving all patrons equally, respectfully, and correctly.
            They might be fine, and some likely are, but as someone who sees most of the hate aimed at my community coming from a very vocal sector of that religion, people who make their religious alignment towards that sector of the religion obvious are not people I feel safe being around or safe getting my medical care given by. They could do far too much damage to me if they happened to be hateful.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Absolutely out of line. (Also, 57% christian music doesn’t really suggest “varied” taste in music.)

            1. The Shenanigans*

              No shade, but, uh since when? The last time I listened to Christian music that had any variation at all was in the 90s. After that, Hillsong took over, kicked out all the good bands, and it became bland AF. The good bands just signed with secular labels and became “bands that have Christians” vs “Christian band”.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          American, and I live in an area where the OP’s attiude would be common and I’m used to it (although I don’t love it; I’m an atheist with a non-mainstream Christian religious background, neither of which I care to advertise), but I would still think it was unprofessional to play religious music at work.

      3. Reverendagainstchristiantheocracy*

        LW 1, I’d really give the benefit of the doubt to your coworker-she’s probably trying to push back against Christian music in the work place is not easy. Add in that a lot of country is moving toward christian fascism and it’s creating a really tough environment for others.

        I do highly recommend the Barbie soundtrack though. Perfection.

      4. Nay*

        I’m a Christian and I assure you I don’t want to hear Christian music (especially Christian country music) anywhere, especially the workplace. It would make me uncomfortable for myself and others. But as others have said Lisa could just also, you know, politely say something.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Me too. My passive-aggressive temptation would be on my days to blast out some Bach cantatas, or perhaps Gregorian chant. But this probably would not actually be the best way to go.

      5. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I’m a Christian and I can’t stand most contemporary Christian music. And it’s just wrong to inflict that kind of music on people in the workplace regardless. And a lot of country music has a similar “Christian” vibe. LW1, make a spotify list with just the 80s pop/rock and I bet that will fix most of the issue.

        I love to listen to music while I work, but it has to be the right music for what I’m doing. I think headphones should really be the way to go for everyone if that’s possible. If it’s not, then everyone who has to hear the music needs to agree on a set of artists/albums they’re happy to listen to, or find a top 40 music station or something like that to listen to.

        1. UrsulaD*

          Generally in compounding you can’t wear earphones, they aren’t sterile. There’s either a radio that’s always in compounding or a plastic covered phone.

      6. Harp Weaver (but not Millay's sort!)*

        Non-Christian / Non-Jew here: Ess in Tee, do you think you’d feel like that about any other kind of religious “pop music”? Say, Hindu? Buddhist? Jewish? Islamic?

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          I can’t speak for Ess in Tee, but my reaction to Christian music is markedly different from that to any other religion and is probably related to their ~command~ or ~duty~ to proselytize in a way that other religions do not.

        2. Katydid*

          No other religious groups have attempted to ram their religious beliefs down my throat, limit my rights as a citizen of my country and as a human being, or make me live according to their religious beliefs, but nevertheless, in my workplace, “no religious music at work where anyone but you can hear” applied to everyone, not just Christians.

      1. Lime green Pacer*

        During my Catholic period, I thought a lot of our modern church songs would be unremarkable in a secular context. Now I’m an atheist again. I sometimes have that music come up on a random playlist and I cringe at how mistaken I was about it ever passing for secular music.

        1. The answer is (probably) 42*

          Used to be Orthodox Jewish, I feel pretty similarly about popular Jewish music! Even though there’s actually a surprisingly large niche of non-Jewish fans of the genre (I can’t deny that some of them are bops, and the fact that most of them are in Hebrew probably mitigates the feeling that they might be preachy/pushing religion I suppose). As a kid listening to that stuff, that’s just what music was to me. It was value neutral. But as an adult, I can’t help but cringe when I hear it sometimes- not even that it’s aesthetically bad, it just has SUCH a strong religious association for me.

          I can totally see where Lisa is coming from, even if her approach is immature. Hopefully LW1 can have a conversation with her that ends up fair to all parties.

          1. More Tea Please!*

            >popular Jewish music

            I assume you mean Shwekey type stuff and not Israeli pop?

          2. Ariaflame*

            And Judaism is more known for not being evangelical rather than the other way around, noone worries about Jewish people trying to convert them. Nobody sensible anyway.

            1. Natasha Hollenzoller*

              I am ex-frum and you don’t really understand what that environment is like. It’s different than what I see from Christians for sure, but no one needs to hear that unless they want to go and learn about it themselves. Sorry, I see this frequently on this site where people seem to excuse Judaism, but fundamental Judaism was super super harmful to me (personally, not saying its bad for anyone else!) and I just think people know nothing about it.

              1. Observer*

                Sorry, I see this frequently on this site where people seem to excuse Judaism, but fundamental Judaism was super super harmful to me (personally, not saying its bad for anyone else!) and I just think people know nothing about it.

                Except that “branch”, for lack of a better word, is the LEAST proselytizing of all the streams.

                I’m not saying that you should have to listen to overtly religious music of any genre. Just that there is a difference between “music with strong religious overtones that is a problem for me” vs “music that is overtly part of a proselyting religion and that is probably proselytizing itself.”

              2. Lauren*

                I think many gentiles fear being anti-semitic. Unfortunately, a lot of anti-semitics use valid criticisms to reinforce their beliefs, and gentiles that don’t have those ugly beliefs don’t want to be associated with them.

              3. anon for this*

                I’m not sure what you mean by “excuse Judaism,” but as somebody who was raised Catholic and is now a frum Jew, I can assure you that banana-pants sections exist in both camps. Just the Christian ones are more well known.

                (As a point of comparison, there’s a lot of people who have never heard of Yom Kippur, but those who have are bewildered by Sukkot or TWO day s of Rosh Hashanah. So the more… challenging frum groups aren’t really on the general populace’s radar at all, because run-of-the-mill Orthodox Judaism doesn’t seem to be).

              4. fhqwhgads*

                The point isn’t that there aren’t harmful sects. It’s that we do not proselytize. Saying the latter does not imply the former, so I find your response to what you’re responding to puzzling.

              5. Princess Sparklepony*

                Fundamentalism in any religion is always going to be bad. Some people love it but it stifles so much out of people.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          I’m Jewish but I actually do think a lot of Christian rock sounds pretty standard pop rock if you don’t listen to the words too closely. I used to listen to some Christian rock and still don’t mind it when I catch it playing (I live in the US south and its pretty common for businesses without an explicit religious purpose to still be vaguely Christian).

          BUT as I started reading this question I definitely guessed it was going to be about Christian music and I agree that it doesn’t belong in a work context just because some non-Christians like myself don’t mind it.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I’m an atheist from a religious background that does not use music in worship and there are still some country gospel songs that I love for sentimental reasons, but I would never play them at work.

          2. Quill*

            Some bands mimic normal rock pretty well until you suddenly hit one song on their album that’s all “lift me uuuuuup from my sins! *Guitar solo*” It usually sours me a bit on the band, but there are plenty of other bands that are very obviously the youth pastor approved alternative to rock music. I’m guessing Lisa noticed a pattern, which gets pretty obvious when you mix the failed imitators in with, say, Skillet – which has a lot of very popular songs that have been featured in mainstream media, and also a few that are more obviously religious.

            1. Grammar Penguin*

              And then there are rock bands like U2, whose members are evangelical Protestants whose religion definitely informs the music, but they have never sold or presented themselves as “Christian Rock”.

              1. allathian*

                U2 are from Ireland (specifically Dublin), so their religious background is most probably Catholic. At a guess their most explicitly religious song is Gloria, sung partly in Latin (and now I’ve got an earworm of “Gloria, in te Domine, Gloria exultatem”).

                1. penny dreadful analyzer*

                  One of the U2 guys is from a Catholic background; Bono is from a mixed Catholic and Anglican background, and the other two are from Protestant backgrounds. Three of the four members were all part of the same evangelical congregation when the band first formed.

          3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            For the few songs that I’m familiar with from my brief foray into the US evangelical Christianity, I just swap “god” for “dog” in my head and the song is good as new. I hope that we have not Too quickly forgotten that Our dog is an awesome dog!

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              I like to mentally swap “Jesus” for “baby” in Christian song lyrics and see how many would turn into love songs with zero other effort. It’s…many.

    3. SAS*

      I’m not going to start a new thread but adding to the chorus, I would also strongly oppose this playlist at my office. I wouldn’t play other music to drown it out but I would also feel extremely apprehensive about raising it directly with LW (being labelled “anti-christian” by a certain type of Christian can make like very unpleasant).

      If playing contemporary music is the norm, why not just play the Spotify Daily playlists and remove the turn-taking/personal preference element?

      1. Roland*

        The spotify daily mixes are personalized to the account, but agreed that maybe it’s time to go more neutra if no consensus can be reached. There’s channels on youtube etc that stream “coffeeshop”, “focus” etc that are pretty unobjectionable evenif they’re not one’s favorite genres.

    4. ZK*

      My non-Christian self saw that and went yup, there’s your problem. If a person enjoys Christian music, that’s fine, but not at work. It might be time to suggest headphones and then everyone can listen to what they want, whether it be music or a podcast, or just nothing at all.

      During the worst of the pandemic, I worked pulling orders for shipping at a large craft supply company. We were slammed, working hard, and since we weren’t open to the public, we were allowed to play our own music, which helped me a lot. I would wear one headphone in one ear with my radio earpiece in the other in ear. But I like heavy metal and graphic true crime podcasts and didn’t want to force my choices on everyone else.

      1. SAS*

        This is a good point, my preferred music genre has extremely explicit language so would obviously not be suitable for the workplace. If there are people similarly modifying their playlists for work (other than LW1), maybe a better option is just to get everyone to put in their earphones.

        1. RAE*

          Pharmacist here. If the techs are doing non-sterile compounding then the they can wear earbuds. But, if she is doing sterile compounding (IVs, chemo) then earbuds are not allowed in a sterile compounding room.

          1. Slate Blue*

            There are also types of work in which ANY possible distraction (such as vocal music) could pose a very real danger. I for one would NOT want to think that, if I were being given a medicine (especially chemo, which is NOT prescribed for the common cold!), it had been made up by someone whose mind was on the lyrics of ANY song rather than on what they were actually doing! Instrumental music – especially classical pieces which were never “songs” and don’t have lyrics associated with them – is better, but there are times when even a slight distraction for workers poses a very real danger for the outcomes of their work.

            1. Zelda*

              Yup. I once worked in a lab where the radio was on all the time, and I HATED it. Even when (especially when) I liked the actual music, I HATED having to work to tune it out and fight the distraction. Unfortunately, all I ever got from management was “no one else has complained.” Feh.

            2. Moryera*

              Hello! Chemo compounding tech here. I just want to preface this by saying that I take my job absolutely seriously. Preparing hazardous medications for cancer patients is a huge responsibility that takes training and skill.

              …that said, it does not take SO much of my focus that a stray song lyric will immediately lead to a catastrophic medication error. If I didn’t have music or podcasts going, all I would have to listen to is the loud, constant WHSSSSSH of the double-HEPA-filtered workbenches, and that would be much more distracting from my work.

            3. Rockon*

              I would go absolutely mad having to work in a room in silence 8 hrs a day (likely longer for this job). It would be absolutely untenable. I do work that required high level of focus and is very sensitive with major consequences if there is a mistake. Not having something to focus on (music, podcast, book on tape), my error rate goes way way up. I am not alone when it comes to the need to have something to keep from zoning out.

      2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        As a Christian I feel the same. I hate workplace background music in general, but if some people absolutely must have some, then it would have to be very very neutral. Preferrably no lyrics at all. I often overthink about song lyrics and can feel strong emotions because of them, if for example I think some character in the lyrics has been treated wrong or if it’s a very sad story. I don’t really like that at work. There are also religious groups who see all music as a sin (some Muslims) or only accept very limited genres (like some Christian groups where only classical music and very old-style hymns are OK, everything else is a sin regardless of the lyrics).

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, in general for work I only want to hear instrumental music because otherwise the lyrics distract me. Something about ADHD and the spoken/sung word.

          Even at home I only listen to instrumental stuff when working.

      3. Natasha Hollenzoller*

        It is kind of weird to me that the OP didn’t pick up on that that may be the problem? At all? It jumped out at me for sure.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          OP is lost in the fact that Lisa is a difficult person in general. She mentions that Lisa tries to act like the boss when she is not. So OP may be seeing this as more of Lisa’s control atttitude than the Christian music as a problem.

          Which it could be both. Lisa in her I Get to Decide Everything That Happens Here Way, instead of asking OP to not play Christian music, just goes and plays her own.

          OP, using your words with Lisa will help when she is trying to control you in other ways. But also, losing the Christian music from your playlist will probably help with THIS particular problem. If it continues after you stop playing Christian music, then its a Lisa thing and you need to discuss with your actual boss how to handle it.

        2. JimmyJab*

          Lisa may be in a part of the country (if in the US) where Christianity/Christian music is pervasive and therefore thinks of it as almost the default or at least very commonplace. Where I am, it would be super unusual, and therefore would stand out to me, but I don’t think that’s true of the entire country.

          1. Sorry, still haven't picked a clever username*

            Yeah, I live in the south and it’s not uncommon to walk into a store like CVS or a gas station or whatever and have contemporary Christian music playing, even though it’s just a secular business with no religious purpose. It’s offputting but common, so if the OP is from the south, they probably don’t understand how weird the musical proselytizing seems to everyone outside that bubble.

        3. MN_Jen*

          Unless other employees are also playing Christian Rock music on their playlists, I suspect OP knows exactly why Lisa is objecting to their music.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            But that is the frustrating part– LW1 doesn’t say what the other playlists are like. If other people are also playing a smattering of contemporary Christian it does explain more why they are writing in about Lisa only trying to drown out their music. As pointed out, there are lots of places where Christian contemporary may be ubiquitous enough (and Christianity as a faith dominant enough) that other coworkers do have some included on their playlists, rather than LW1 being the odd man out.

            1. Psaradactyl*

              Same here. OP 100% knows that it’s the genre of music that’s the problem. I’d bet two whole paycheques on that.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I like true crime and plane crash podcasts/videos, and my music tastes run to the kind of “Americana” that involves a lot of murder ballads, substance abuse, and shrill fiddle. I would not inflict any of that on my coworkers.

        I had a job, years ago, where I was allowed to choose the music (I was usually the only employee there) and I made a mixtape of pleasant instrumentals so it was music I liked, but nothing that might be troubling to customers.

        1. Observer*

          I made a mixtape of pleasant instrumentals so it was music I liked, but nothing that might be troubling to customers.

          That is *exactly* the right way to do it.

          OP, this is a really good way to think about it. Include your coworkers. It’s one thing for people to tolerate music they just don’t enjoy. It’s another to them to be subjected to truly troublesome music. And while you might find the comparison of religious music to explicit lyrics and violence to be offensive (which I do understand!) please realize that people who are truly troubled by religious music are not overly precious speshul snowflakes.

        2. Salsa Your Face*

          I mostly listen to showtunes when I’m on my own and would never, ever dream of imposing that very niche preference on others. If tasked to select music for a group I would probably lean into some 90s alternative, which I like just fine since it’s the music of my high school years but don’t typically choose to listen to just for myself.

          1. Psaradactyl*

            Another Broadway Baby here, and yeah, I don’t put my music on in shared spaces.

            1. sparkle emoji*

              Another showtune lover here and yes, I will only play showtunes around others if I am absolutely sure they are pro-showtunes, and even then I have background choices just in case.

      5. Quill*

        Yeah, I listen to a lot of historical podcasts that other people have decided are “boring” and my music taste is unsystematic in the extreme. The solution almost always, unless your workplace is a fanclub of a specific type of music, is individualized music.

      6. OMG, Bees!*

        Yup, same thoughts. I enjoy some heavy metal and music that LW1 might consider satanic sometimes, but I also wouldn’t play that at work.

        Course, I have also learned to be very careful with my music after my niece, then 6, heard a song I was playing then asked the Google home to play a song of mine. That one didn’t have any curse words, but a lesson regardless!

    5. Famous Amos*

      And the country. I promise. Remove those two and I’ll bet the issue solves itself.

      1. Roland*

        Some people hate country and some people hate Ariana Grande and some people hate the Beatles. I don’t love conflating “infringes on people’s religious rights” with “making people listen to music they don’t like”.

        1. Punk*

          I think that commenter is referring to how being a fan of artists like Morgan Wallen and Jason Aldean has become a dog whistle for holding dangerous conservative beliefs.

          1. Electra*

            I don’t think this is quite fair. There are plenty of genres and songs with different troubling connotations. Yes, if someone played that new Jason Aldean song at work I’d be unsettled and offended— but I’d also be offended if someone played “I Thought About Killing You” by Kanye West or another song with threatening lyrics.

            1. Roland*

              Yeah making this about genre is not the way to go about it. It should be about content. With Christian music the genre IS the content, but with Country, imo it’s quite ignorant to pretend a whole musical style has offensive content.

            2. sparkle emoji*

              I agree that a complete country ban isn’t necessary until someone uses their words and says “no country please” but just in case the LW isn’t aware, keep the Jason Aldean and any Morgan Wallen off the public playlist! That and the Christian music can be your commute playlist.

            1. Grammar Penguin*

              How about them? If you’re going to hold them up as an example of non-conservative country musicians, doesn’t what happened to them actually PROVE that mainstream country is intolerant of non-conservative views?

              I remember that they were loudly and aggressively ejected from the mainstream country music industry for committing the horrible offense of… not liking George W. Bush. It effectively ended their career in country music

              They’ve held onto a fanbase in the alternative country and folk scene because the country music industry didn’t want them around. Because they weren’t conservative enough, they got death threats and record burnings. From the *mainstream* fans of country music.

              The example of the Dixie Chicks demonstrates the intolerance of anything other than conservatism in the mainstream country music industry which absolutely does represent the mainstream country music fandom.

        2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          Oh c’mon. Who hates the Beatles? Even when they’re sad, they sound happy.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Me! My first exposure to them was through my roommate in freshman year of college. I do not like the Beatles’ music at all, even slightly. I’d much rather have silence than be forced to listen to them. Sounding happy is not something that affects my enjoyment of music.

            1. Ann Onymous*

              I’m in the same boat. There’s some music I would probably otherwise like that I just can’t stand because I associate it with a college roommate I didn’t like.

          2. Not hate but certainly don't love*

            Plenty of people who grew up with Boomer/Silent Generation parents who forced The Beatles down our throats as the end all and be all of rock and roll forever and ever, amen.

          3. Aitch Arr*

            I’m a big Beatles fan and even I cringe at some of their songs.
            Violent Misogyny, anyone?

            Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
            Run For Your Life

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              Oh man, I actually love “Run for Your Life” but you are not wrong that it is problematic as heck. I view it in the context of being a murder ballad (and therefore not actually espousing the performers/authors worldview), but that is more mental work than I think most people put into a 2.5 minute pop track.

              1. carcinization*

                Huh, I thought it was real death threats toward Lennon’s former wife, Cynthia. But I guess there’s no way to get in someone’s head (especially someone dead) to know their real intent!

            2. Princess Sparklepony*

              Yikes to both of those songs!

              I’m not a huge Beatles fan, I know the hits usually. I remember a little of the melody of Maxwell’s but didn’t know the words, I never really gave it a good listen.

              I don’t hate the murder story genre as a rule, but those two are pretty vile. Weirdly I’ve always liked that song Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. I never understood how it was able to get radio play.

              1. catsoverpeople*

                Pumped Up Kicks is crazy catchy, though. I wonder the same as you, but also did a lot of people even really listen to and understand the lyrics since the sound was rather upbeat? Or wasn’t there something where a band member’s relative was a Columbine survivor so they got a free pass singing about that kind of stuff?

                I remember sitting in the waiting room of a medical center and hearing some country song overhead that I thought was gonna be romantic — “remember the first time I heard your heartbeat” — and then it turned out to be kinda political — “must have been around six weeks” — and thought, oh, hell no! This was a few months before the Dobbs decision when we all kinda saw it coming. If that love song to a fetus ever plays in a workplace where I can’t get away from it, I might have to speak up. But I totally get why Lisa in the letter has not.

          4. Roland*

            Me for one. Not the people, but I find their music annoying for the most part. As someone who doesn’t hear much country, I would rather listen to country than the Beatles.

            The world is a rich tapestry and while I think your comment was probably in jest, people really do act like media preferences have a one to one correlation with morality and politics and it gets old fast.

          5. Sad Desk Salad*

            I’ve found my people! I’m a vocalist and every band I’m in, SOMEONE wants to cover the Beatles. I’ve done it one (1) time and I’ll never do it again. If anyone asks again, I’ll say I’ll do Helter Skelter, and that’s all. You want Hey Jude, you’re gonna have to do it yourself.

          6. Yikes Stripes*

            Me! I can handle a few of their songs and I quite like the ones that George wrote, but I find the vast majority of their catalogue to be Not To My Taste.

      2. Dutx*

        Or pop. I don’t like the sexualizing and often sexism in many pop (love) songs.

        Country is less offensive to my ears. At least there the writer seems “in on the joke”, whereas Ed Sheeran seemed uncomfortably serious when asserting that his not-yet-conceived child will be a daughter who wants to get married in a white dress.

        1. Your local password resetter*

          I feel you on this. The sheer amount of “love” songs that are just dudes complaining about their ex-girlfriend is astonishing.

          1. Jam on Toast*

            Honestly, I think all pop songs fall into one of three categories: I want you to love; I’m stoked that you love me; Why don’t you love me anymore? I’ve yet to hear any that fit categories like I’ve Done A Lot of Mature Reflection and I Wasn’t Ready for a Relationship or Being Your Friend Doesn’t Magically Entitle Me to More.

            1. curly sue*

              Oh! I know this one! Marshmello & Anne Marie did a song called ‘Friends’ which is a ‘Dude, You’re Being Creepy, Leave Me the **** Alone’ song.

            2. Sister Michael*

              Great Big Sea did that song! It’s called “Wandering Ways” and the narrative is that the singer was a hard partier who failed to mature in his relationships, but by the end of the song has realized it’s time to grow up and repaired his relationship by being responsible and committed to his partner and their child. It sounds like it wouldn’t be a good sing, but it’s catchy.

              Great Big Sea may not be touring anymore, but they’ll always be my favorite.

              1. Dek*

                A Great Big Sea fan!

                That was one of Sean’s wasn’t it? Wasn’t it kind of a prelude to him leaving the band?

                I love Alan, but his songs are still Party Hard and it comes off…differently after a certain age.

            3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

              If you’re at all musically inclined, would you pretty please write those songs? Could I also request I Asked You Out, You Said No, Now I’m Going To Leave You Alone?

            4. Kit Kendrick*

              The closest I can think of is “If This Is It” (Huey Lewis) which is Look You And I Both Know We’ve Hit A Rocky Patch Can We Please Just Acknowledge It And Either Talk Things Out Or Make A Clean Break Already?

            5. Dahlia*

              “I’ve Done A Lot of Mature Reflection and I Wasn’t Ready for a Relationship”

              …honestly that describes like several Taylor Swift songs XD Back to December is one.

              1. Grammar Penguin*

                Paul Simon’s classic hit “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” is about exactly this.

                1. Princess Sparklepony*

                  Flight of the Conchords – Carol Brown, maybe that also. They do have a bunch of great songs.

                  And thanks everyone, I’m now madly looking up songs.

            6. Katydid*

              Love how you stated that!

              For some reason, Louis Jordan’s 1956 rock’n’roll version of ‘Nobody Here But Us Chickens’ started playing in my head after reading your post. Popular (then, anyway, I understand), but not pop. Need more music about chickens! :p

            7. Been There*

              Seesaw by BTS is pretty much we both make each other unhappy, it’s time to end this relationship.

              1. Kit*

                Chill by Stray Kids is another from the Kpop-sphere in that line – although it’s technically “Taking a break from this relationship is the healthiest thing for both of us” rather than a full end, per se.

          2. Hannah Lee*

            Then there’s the oldies stations:

            My siblings and I use to sing along with Tom Jones’ Delilah when we were kids and it came on the car radio.

            As an adult, I’m now horrified that there was a hit song in which a stalker describes hanging out at a woman’s house overnight, passing by her windows, and then at dawn when a guy leaves, going to her door and murdering her with a knife. All written in a passive way “I felt the knife in my hand” and then blaming her “why why why Delilah” implying that her actions caused it.

            It’s like the musical embodiment of the Margaret Atwood quote:
            “Men are afraid women will laugh at them.
            Women are afraid that men will murder them”

            1. She of Many Hats*

              Or Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” about a guy threatening to ruin her at least professionally maybe more if she won’t love him any more and her de-escalation to get him to back off.

            2. Grammar Penguin*

              I still want to know what happened to Maybelline after Chuck Berry caught her at the top of the hill.

            3. SadieMae*

              Or the Beatles’ “Run for Your Life.” I love me some Beatles music but that one is really awful. It is about how the singer would rather see his girlfriend dead than with another man. And it’s not one of those “different people interpret lyrics differently” songs: the lyric is:

              Let this be a sermon
              I mean everything I’ve said
              Baby, I’m determined
              And I’d rather see you dead
              You better run for your life if you can, little girl
              Hide your head in the sand, little girl
              Catch you with another man
              That’s the end, little girl

              My dad used to sing that heartily, as he did so many Beatles songs. I think it never occurred to him that it was … really not OK.

            4. Princess Sparklepony*

              So true! I have some songs that I like that the lyrics are really questionable. Including Delilah.

        2. CityMouse*

          I mean it depends on the song. If LW is playing a particular recent country song or particular artists, it’s absolutely offensive.

          1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*


            Country music often seems very sexist and violent to me.

            1. Llama Llama Workplace Drama*

              There’s some 90s country that I enjoy. Don’t think I can find anything wrong with ‘John Deer Green’? unless there is something about the artist that I don’t know.

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                I really liked the Rodney Crowell album – Life is Messy. Mostly about him making mistakes – aka real country music!

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          There’s a whole thing where lyrics land quite differently to our ears because they are in a song–something can read as alarming unhinged screed when you read it until you notice the rhyme structure, try giving it a beat, and then it fades into an oatmeal of random background song noise. And someone who is experiencing oatmeal can be disconcerted when the person next to them is upset about the literal meaning of the words being sung.

          e.g. To me “Next Time He’ll Think Before He Cheats” lands as an evocation of an emotion; to others it lands as advice of what to literally do in this situation. I hate “Baby It’s Cold Outside” even though I know it was composed by a married couple and is not meant to land as massively creepy.

          “No music with lyrics anyone would find offensive” is probably an unrealistic standard for 8 hours of background lyrics, and so any given workspace dedicated to having background lyrics is going to need either a) a lot of cooperation and grace from everyone when selecting music b) generic elevator music, which fits the literal meaning of music society has deemed inoffensive enough to play in a public elevator.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            The Beatles “Run For Your Life” is a bewildering contraction between an upbeat boppy tune and disturbingly violent lyrics.

            1. Delta Delta*

              “Pumped Up Kicks” is a perfect example of that, as well. I remember hearing it and bopping my head along to it several times and then saying, wait, is this a song about shooting someone?

              1. Cheese Victim*

                Some advice column (maybe Captain Awkward? Or one on Slate?) had a letter about this song a few years ago – it was from a teenager whose gym teacher was playing it while they were doing their warmup laps around the gym. YIKES.

              1. StephChi*

                Same here. It’s a good thing that it’s the last song on “Rubber Soul” because it makes it easier to skip it. You know it’s bad when even John regretted writing it.

            2. UKDancer*

              One of my ballet teachers used a piano version of the Tom Jones song “Delilah” for a while which is another poppy upbeat song with disturbing lyrics. We did ask him to change the song for a different one because it was a bit creepy doing grand battements to that particular song. He hadn’t thought about the lyrics but was happy to find something else.

            3. Grammar Penguin*

              Like Sublime’s “Wrong Way”. Cheerful and upbeat song, seriously disturbing lyrics.

          2. jasmine*


            No religion at work is standard, but you’re going to have a hard time policing genres beyond that. If that’s a problem, that’s what earphones are for.

          3. Smithy*

            Yes – I do think that this is very often why businesses that do opt for “music with lyrics” will often go the Starbucks route of having “corporate approved” playlists or stations. And you’re going to end up with a far more narrow selection regardless of whatever people have enjoyed in the past.

            For workplace environments that do go with staff selected music on rotation, I think your best bet for resolving this is going to have to be discussing this with your coworker and generosity to compromise. It may have been the Christian rock (which from a professionalism standpoint is easy to pick out), it may have just been a dislike of musical taste/genre (which you’d only know by talking to them).

            Either way, this sounds like an issue that if you can’t resolve directly with them – getting any kind of management involved is going to result in a management selected playlist or the music with no words only.

            1. Quill*

              And you’ll get instant rage having to work with the constant background of a 40ish minute loop of the same fifteen to twenty pop songs. Working retail really soured me on the lightly emo pop of the early 00’s… and also for a while on specific Fleetwood Mac songs.

              (Working in a lab that got ONE radio station that had licensed a similar amount of contemporary pop also made me very, very sick of it as well. But we all hated the same song, so we bonded over it. And mocking the lyrics. Generally speaking we were elbow deep in experiment and couldn’t turn it off…)

              1. Smithy*

                As a former Starbucks employee….I called them out for a reason.

                As a workplace blog, I do get the specific workplace sensitivities around religion being called out in comments. But the reality is that lots of people don’t like all sorts of music for all sorts of reasons. I am a musical theater fan. I once went to Marie’s Crisis in NYC, a bar that does musical theater piano karaoke thinking I’d have a great time. And then they played no songs from any musicals I even knew, which made it a real “am I even a musical theater fan????” moment.

                But the second a professional arbiter gets called in, I don’t see how the result isn’t just a professional mainstreaming of the music that can be chosen.

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  I worked for Starbucks a million years ago. Their holiday mix at the time included Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah*, which tickled me no end.

                  *–I don’t recall if it was the original or the more popular cover

              2. SoloKid*

                IiIiIiI want to BE with you EveRYwhere
                *trillly synths*

                I only came around to liking that song again after 20+ years out of retail

              3. AnonORama*

                Hahaha I haaaaate all Fleetwood Mac with a passion, particularly anything with Stevie Nicks singing (I know people love her, but she sounds like a cawing bird to me) — so glad that was not on our eight-song playlist when I last worked retail. I literally walked right back out of a store the other day when I heard the song about the one-winged dove sings a song that goes ooh baby ooh, said ooh. RUN!

          4. Warrior Princess Xena*

            As an aside, for some reason the first time I heard “Baby it’s Cold Outside” the mental image that immediately came into my head was of it being sung by Han Solo and Leia Organa and I’ve never been able to hear it differently since.

            But yeah, this is why elevator music becomes a thing – because we need some form of background noise that won’t be awkward.

            1. UKDancer*

              I never minded “Baby it’s cold outside” growing up because my parents used to sing it as a flirty song together when we were doing carols around the piano. Mum used to vamp pretty hard during the song and lean over the piano and tickle Dad’s nose with a long scarf, so I always viewed it as a flirtation. It’s only when I saw other versions that I clocked that it’s not the greatest song ever.

            2. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

              If you want a laugh- Kirby Krackle actually did a version of this called “Baby It’s Cold Outside (Hoth Version)”

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                Also Key and Peele where they lean into the creepy. It’s a great video.

          5. Le Sigh*

            The Mountain Goats “No Children” is this way for me. There’s always been something cathartic about singing a catchy bar ballad about a spiral of self-destruction — I haven’t been divorced and I’ve never *actually* wanted the other person to die during a bad breakup, but I sure do understand feeling like you need to blow everything up.

          6. Old and Don’t Care*

            This is a fine post and I will never not love “Don’t You Want Me”.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          I will throw myself from a moving vehicle to escape show tunes.

          I don’t like modern mainstream country but the general sound of it is familiar enough that I can tune it out more easily than I can something that sounds more novel or interesting.

          1. Humble Schoolmarm*

            Whereas my playlist is abut 60% show tunes! That’s why I rarely volunteer to be the playlist host and save my horrifically bad Hamilton rapping for my own private enjoyment.

            OP, I agree that the prevalence of Christian contemporary is likely what’s pushing Lisa over the edge, but it’s good to remember that any kind of playlist that people are going to listen to for more a while has to be carefully curated in terms of content and variety. Hours of bardcore would probably annoy too.

            1. Aitch Arr*


              *imagines someone singscreaming Hamlet’s To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy*

              1. Queer Earthling*

                The “bardcore” music I’ve heard is mostly covers of modern songs redone as medieval-type pieces. I’m partial to Hildegard von Blingin”s offerings.

                1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                  That’s exactly what I was referring to! I fell down a rabbit hole this weekend after listening to her version of “Somebody I used to know.”

                2. New Jack Karyn*

                  Steve ‘N’ Seagull’s version of Thunderstruck will never not be funny to me

          2. SoloKid*

            I love showtunes!

            I hate listening to other people sing showtunes unless they are in the show, on the stage!

          3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            I worked at a musical theatre company for a long time and (not surprisingly) lots of folks loved musical theatre…but then there was the 20-ish songs that were in the hold music for the phone system. If anyone ever played any of those songs in the office, even quietly, the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments that would ensure would be biblical. Even if you generally enjoy a genre, there will be tunes that feel like someone set off a rage bomb in your brain.

            Similarly I had a mate who worked as a Karaoke DJ and I am not sure if they can listen to “Someone Like You” by Adele because they used to hear it no fewer than three times a night, five nights a week, for months on end.

      3. Jackalope*

        I was going to add this. I personally enjoy a lot of country, but I know for many people it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Everyone else is on target that the CCM is probably the biggest issue, but country is a close likely second.

        (For what it’s worth, I want to echo what others have said about playing Spotify or Pandora or something; they have a number of stations or playlists that can make good SFW background noise.)

        1. Duke Flapjack*

          I like western music and Bluegrass but I can’t stand most country. Generally speaking I don’t want to listen to it if it’s less than 40-years-old.

          “The F-Word” is a bit of an exception because it’s just so funny though.

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            That’s pretty much where I fall in the “country or not” spectrum. Definitely not much post 2001.

            1. Music With Rocks In*

              2001 and the resultant wave of reactionary patriotism is generally my cutoff point, with some few exceptions for more recent alt- and LGBTQ-centric artists.

              1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                Yup, there was a converging of country, rock and folk happening in the mid-90s that I really enjoyed, but then 2001 hit and…

              2. Pippa K*

                I have a nostaglic spot in my heart for 90s country – there were some bangers – but modern radio country is a problematic area, for sure. There was a great article in the New Yorker about this recently; look for “Country music’s culture wars and the remaking of Nashville.”

                And to keep this from being too off-topic, I’d also recommend that article to OP if they’re having trouble seeing why people might take their music choices as a politically-charged statement.

      4. DJ Abbott*

        Probably, but wouldn’t it be better for everyone to use earphones and play what they like? That’s what’s going on everywhere else.
        There is a lot of popular music In multiple genres I would not want to hear all day. Country, pop, most rap/hip-hop, oldies from after the early 60s, to name a few.
        And especially the music considered “easy listening” which is all sad songs. I remain mystified by all the companies and institutions who thought it was a good idea to play that in the old days.

        1. Natasha Hollenzoller*

          Yes and music all day would make me kind of crazy, even if I liked it. I would like some SILENCE please.

          1. Antilles*

            Perhaps, though I’ll note that OP said it’s a compounding pharmacy, so without music, it’s not actually silent, but just a bunch of constant whines/whirring of various equipment…which is an annoyance all its’ own.

            1. Quill*

              Depending on what the music and the machines are, I can imagine that silence is annoying but some playlists actually intensify the headache. I think good headphones for all would help with the machine noise as well.

              If that’s not possible, and they can’t resolve the playlist issues, they may have to throw together a “nobody hates it” playlist, but it absolutely has to be 1) on shuffle and 2) long enough to get through a workday with two or fewer repetitions when not on shuffle.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                If it were me, there would be several ‘nobody hates it’ playlists, each 3-4 hours long. This is what Spotify is for. One Motown/girl groups. One 80s pop/alternative. One 60s-70s soul. One 30s-40s Big Band. You can’t please everyone with every song, but there’s a LOT of ground that most folks will be okay with.

          2. Ralph the wonder llama*

            Yep. On the day I got to play my playlist, it would be the “playlist” of silence.

        2. Old and Don’t Care*

          I feel like if “everyone should just wear headphones” was an option it would have been done already.

      5. White Jade*

        And “Lisa” then gets to control what everyone else chooses by playing “dueling playlists” so loudly and so obnoxiously that she gets to drown out everyone else until and unless they cave to HER personal preferences, whims and crotchets? That will only reinforce her behavior and enable her to dominate the musical choices of the entire office. Why reward her for being spoiled and selfish?

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Lisa’s behavior here is not ideal. Nobody said it was. But LW is playing music that is inappropriate for the workplace, and they should stop immediately. Not because of Lisa, but because it’s the correct thing to do.

        2. Observer*

          Why reward her for being spoiled and selfish?

          Because insisting on continuing to play inappropriate music is even most spoiled and selfish.

          The OP is absolutely doing something problematic. And they’ve made it clear that they don’t like Lisa and don’t want to hear anything she has to say.

          It’s up to the OP to act like a grown up and stop doing the wrong thing. And ALSO to use their words. At that point, if Lisa continues to be a pain with her dueling playlist, others will step in, as they did this time. But at least at that point, the OP will be on solid ground.

          1. Saddy Hour*

            Surely it’s also up to Lisa to use her words like an adult? We went off the “demonizing OP” rails early today. Truly wild that so many people are insisting that because they have a personal consensus on what country/Christian rock is OK by them, that standard holds true everywhere and is accepted by everyone and thus OP must be less than a grown-up by not intuiting it from her passive-aggressive coworker.

            1. Observer*

              Surely it’s also up to Lisa to use her words like an adult?

              Except that we’re not advising Lisa, we’re advising the OP. And there is no way to get around the fact that what the OP is doing is problematic and needs to stop. This is not about “demonizing” the OP, but pointing out that regardless of what Lisa is doing wrong (or not), the OP *still* needs to stop playing this music. They are effectively stepping on someone’s foot. And the fact that the person whose foot they are stepping on may be handling it poorly doesn’t mean that the OP gets to keep stepping on their foot.

              It’s interesting that I have not seen anyone actually claiming that the OP is a horrible person because they didn’t “intuit” the situation, but several people HAVE claimed that this is happening. And the few people who have claimed that the OP must realize that their Christian music must be a problem have gotten some deserved push back.

              Also, I agree that Lisa is not handling the situation well. But it’s easy to see *why*, considering the number of people here who are claiming that she’s over-reacting etc. Including one poster who insists that “Christian” music is not actually Christian. I can imagine why she’s leery of opening this can of worms. Yes, she should still use her words. But that’s not a good reason to keep on with behavior that stands as a problem on its own.

            2. GrooveBat*

              The answer is, there is *no* Christian music that is acceptable in a shared, secular workplace.

        3. Jennifer Strange*

          It sounds like Lisa is only doing this when the LW is playing their music, not when others do it. While I’m not saying that’s the correct course of action, that makes it pretty clear that it’s only an issue with the LW’s music choice being inappropriate for work.

        4. So Tired*

          It’s not at all spoiled or selfish to not want to listen to Christian music all day. Yes, Lisa should have had a conversation with LW about their music choices. But considering some of the responses I’ve seen to non-Christians both in the comments here and out in the world as well, I find it hard to criticize someone who may not be comfortable speaking up about having to listen to Christian music.

      6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Classic country like Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson is fine by me. Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and similar music is fine by me. But I believe there’s a slight chance that someone whose playlist is 60% Christian music means something completely different by “country”.

        1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          Classic country (and Johnny Cash in particular) is often *very* religious, with a lot of overlap with gospel. I like it anyway but it’s not magically secular because it’s good!

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            Sometimes Johnny’s singing about the Lord, sometimes he bustin’ a chair against his pa’s teeth, and sometimes he’s shooting a man just to watch him die. Life is a rich tapestry.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          Also, Johnny Cash’s songs are too sad for me.
          This is why you’ll never find music that pleases everyone.
          I don’t mind the gospel history because it inspired many, many artists and genres, including rock and roll. But I see it as a historical thing, and if I like current gospel it’s for the music, not the lyrics.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Folsom Prison Blues has gotten me through many a Monday morning commute to work.

            And I agree about the gospel history. I don’t know much about it and am excited to learn more. Completely different from contemporary Christian music to me.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              I like his songs that aren’t sad. There aren’t enough of them. Get Rhythm is a favorite.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            “This is why you’ll never find music that pleases everyone.”

            (flashbacks to when Kenny G was playing in every public place) I guess you can find music that no one actively dislikes, but that’s because it is too bland to evoke any emotions at all, other than the urge to take a nap ASAP.

            1. Le Sigh*

              I reflexively grab my jaw in pain when Kenny G is played. I swear every single dentist in the 90s played light rock/jazz stations on the radio, which included a heavy dose of KG. The man is talented but I forever associated the dulcet tones of his saxophone with floss aggressively hitting my gums, fluoride, and mint dental toothpaste.

      7. NotAnotherManager!*

        Oh, goodness, yes. I just cannot with the country music. I’ve learned to tolerate it because my husband likes it. I do have a soft spot for Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, and Willie Nelson… but, that’s about it. David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Call Me by My Name” cracks me up at the bridge, but I’ll skip the rest of the song.

        Music is one of the things where my husband and I have almost nothing in common. I tell him sometimes I can’t believe we’re both of the same generation because the Venn diagram of our musical tastes is almost two district, non-overlapping circles. He doesn’t make me listen to his twangy crap, and I don’t subject him to my it-all-sounds-the-same multi-decade pop fluff.

    6. Not Totally Subclinical*

      Yep. I’m culturally Christian and like Skillet’s music very much, but I’m not going to blast it over the speakers in my office.

      If you must have Christian music in a secular office, go with Johann Sebastian Bach.

      1. HannahS*

        No. No one needs to have Christian music on at work. I am Jewish and I don’t want to listen to Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring or Messiah or Mass in B Minor. I am already subject to Christian music the entire “Christmas Season” and it’s not cute to try and find a way around it. Let me exist at work without trying to make the environment Christian.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          Interesting. I think Subclinical’s comment might have been a bit tongue in cheek, since it would probably require more knowledge of classical music than many people possess to distinguish purely instrumental “worship” music from the rest of the genre. Is it the idea of “sneaking” Christian music in that’s objectionable, or the actual music? How would you feel about a local classical station that sometimes includes that kind of piece?

          1. HannahS*

            I don’t know what the intention was, but it absolutely is a sincere attitude that a lot of people hold. “Oh, but if you don’t KNOW that it’s Christian, then it’s ok!” No, it’s not. It’s disrespectful. Christian hegemony is forking exhausting, especially when you’re not just a secular person who used to identify with Christianity, but are a person to whom Christianity is often hostile and violent.

            To answer your other questions: Silent Night played on the violin is still a Christmas song, so the same applies to Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. I don’t listen to classical stations in December. There are some beautiful pieces of Christian music that I love for their musical merit AND I don’t want to have them forced on me at work.

            1. Critical Rolls*

              I was thinking about the person *playing* the music, and whether they know it’s religious. I wrote up a whole elaborate analogy with vegetarianism and veganism, but what it boils down to is, I hope if you say, “Actually, that’s Christian music too and I don’t want to listen to it at work” that gets respected.

              So many good reasons not to have music playing ambiently.

    7. John Smith*

      We don’t know that it is. It could be, but it could be that it’s country music, or the rock aspect or simply that colleague is a jerk towards LW for some past deed. Whatever, it doesnt forgive the colleague’s actions. I have a colleague heavily into period classical music, mostly vocal works. She’ll play oratorios, opera and secular music despite there being a ban on religious music imposed by a senior manager who actually complimented her choice of music being played which at the time was a requiem mass.

      1. April*

        I think it helps when it’s in another language? Or otherwise sounds like classical music as opposed to bad “Jesus is my boyfriend” pop

        1. Dutx*

          Depends on whether coworkers understand the language. Or the tune, I suppose – Adeste Fideles sounds more Christian to me, not less.

          1. DataSci*

            Anybody else remember when in the 1990s Gregorian chant was popular for some reason? That was weird.

            1. Heidi*

              It was kind of like that time when sea shanties made a comeback a couple years ago. I wonder what kind of old-timey music will make a comeback next.

              1. Nekussa*

                I am a fan of Electro Swing, where people take vintage swing-era songs and remix them with modern dance beats.

                1. Warrior Princess Xena*

                  This was my favorite completely unexpected music genre of the last few years.

                2. cottagechick73*

                  Where has this been all my life – thanks for a recommendation for a new genera of electronic music. And while I love it, it will not be everyone’s cup of tea, so headphones – check!

                3. Grammar Penguin*

                  And I’ve been geeking out lately to a ’30’s style swing/jazz ensemble that does vintage-style covers of modern pop and rock songs. It’s called Postmodern Jukebox and I’m addicted.

            2. mb*

              I think you’re referring to Sadeness by Enigma – it was a popular nineties song with gregorian chants. They added some electronica and a beat, and voila!, a hit song.

              1. Fives*

                I worked in a music store in the 1990s and it was an actual album called “Chant” by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo. It was *hugely* popular.

                (Though Enigma was also huge when I worked there.)

                1. Dustin the Wind*

                  I am Jewish and I actually have a copy of that album. It was my choice to purchase it and listen to it.

                  However, I would object to having to listen to Christian music at work. There are a few stations on Pandora that play music in Hebrew and Arabic. Would OP object to hearing those at work?

            3. Princess Sparklepony*

              I remember that and I truly hated it. I’m not a chant fan. I call it dirge music.

          2. Never mind who I am*

            I was thinking the same thing. I’m not Christian, but I find Gregorian chant very soothing and restful. It’s probably too late for anyone to read and comment on this, but if anyone does, I’d like to hear what others think. BTW, unlike some folks further down, I don’t know Latin, which is a consideration.

            1. Observer*

              It’s still overtly religious music. And for a lot of use, the fact that it’s in Latin doesn’t matter – in some ways makes it worse because it really sounds like a worship service. Which, ouch! *At work.*

              1. Never mind who I am*

                Thanks. I didn’t attend worship services, so it doesn’t have that connotation for me. For others, clearly it does.

          3. Verthandi*

            A band called Big Daddy took popular music and turned them into chants and made an entire album of them. Some of my favorites were the Monkees theme song and Losing My Religion.

          4. tuesday next*

            I’m Jewish, I love Gregorian Chant. But, to HannahS’s point above, I don’t know *any* that isn’t overtly religious. It’s absolutely Christian music.

        2. SW*

          So I’m an ex-Catholic who really likes pre-modern Christmas carols. So lots of songs in Latin, etc. I still took great care not to play them at work when other people are around or to use headphones because there’s no getting around that it’s Christian music and my coworkers have the right to be free of religious music.

          1. April*

            I have exactly one (1) album of medieval-ish Christmas music in Latin (by an “early music” group in New York if I remember correctly?), but dang if you know of more I’d love to know the album/artist titles!

        3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Granted, I don’t listen to Christian Spanish or French music, but given the number of peers over the years who think the Spanish and French music I do listen to has no content at all, akin to instrumentals, I think this suggestion has a fighting shot at working.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        Rightly or wrongly, the passage of (a lot of) time seems to mellow out religious aspects of works of art in most people’s perceptions. It also helps when one doesn’t understand the words (or there are no words).

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        They still need to stop forcing people to listen to religious music at work, though, whether it solves the Lisa issue or not.

      4. Scarlet2*

        There’s a pretty big difference between a requiem mass sung in latin and a rock band singing in your own language about how Jesus will save you.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Hm– maybe this is a function of how UK civil weddings / civil partnerships work, but there really isn’t that big a difference to me! Maybe because I’ve sung lots of requiem masses and masses in general in religious settings, and I do understand most of the Latin! I think if you had a “no religious music” rule, anyone would be perfectly within their rights to object to classical and choral works.

          1. Scarlet2*

            I understand Latin too but 1) most people don’t and 2) it’s a lot easier to ignore lyrics when they are not sung in your own language
            From a cultural standpoint, classical music is also definitely not specific to churches or religious setting and many non-religious people go to sacred music concerts in secular venues…
            So no, even requiems are not comparable to rock music preaching about being saved by Jesus.

          2. Emilia Bedelia*

            There is also a big difference between La Pieta and your average Facebook Christian meme. The medium and the artistic/cultural significance do change how the music will come across to others. When it comes to people’s interpretation of whether art is objectionable, it’s always going to be a question of “I know it when I see it”.

            Regardless, if they’re in a shared space, I think people should be able to object to any music just because they don’t want to listen to it. I don’t think I’d want to hear choral church music in Latin all day regardless of my personal religious beliefs!

        2. Dutx*

          According to my youth minister, it’s bad to listen to music with wrong messages (just blasphemy IIRC), even if it’s in another language and you don’t know what the song is about so you didn’t realise what you were listening to.

          More practically, it depends I think – if other people recognize the message from the tune (e.g. Adeste Fideles) or can understand the words. Or if they had my youth minister and actually believed him.

        3. Lady_Lessa*

          I agree with your observation. I’m Christian, but detest contemporary Christian music. When I am scanning the radio, that is one of the fastest things that I change from.

          I also agree that classical music may be religious, as in Mass settings, but it doesn’t sound religious as in your face. I would fight the music battle (assuming that I would engage with Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann

        4. Observer*

          There’s a pretty big difference between a requiem mass sung in latin and a rock band singing in your own language about how Jesus will save you.

          It’s a distinction that doesn’t matter. I come to work, to work. Not to attend religious services. And a requiem Mass *is* a religious service. Even sung in Latin – especially since Latin is still used in many Church services.

      5. Ellis Bell*

        The colleague should have raised it directly, but overt Christianity is absolutely one of those things people feel they can’t criticise without blowback (yes, there are people who would feel just fine with doing that, but if your religion is something that could be held against you, it’s not going to be your favourite subject to spotlight). Could it be something else entirely? Yes! However given that OP already feels bullied and has overlooked the problematic nature of their own music, needs to go into this conversation prepared for this very likely possibility.

        1. The Hallelujah Chorus*

          If you hear hooves, think horses before zebras. It’s the Christian music.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I love some country, but there’s been a LOT of crossover from the contemporary Christian music lines. (One example: “Jesus Take the Wheel”. Lovely song for a church event, but uncomfortably religious for many, and completely inappropriate for a secular workplace.)

            OP, have you had anyone playing songs from other religious traditions? Think about it.

            1. mb*

              I was thinking this too – a lot of country music has a great deal of Christian messaging and undertones – which makes it somewhat inappropriate for the workplace. Most people don’t associate classical music as inherently religious even though some of it is – a lot of people just hear classical music and due to the lack of lyrics, have no idea if there is a religious association to it.

            2. La Triviata*

              My favorite title is “Drop Kick Me Jesus Through Those Goal Posts Of Life”. Not big on the music though, but that title ….

      6. Cheese Victim*

        I was playing a William Byrd playlist (…yes, dork, I know) on low volume in my private office at work one day and suddenly realized that it included not only his madrigals but also his English anthems – clearly meant for a religious service. I’ve sung enough of that type of music outside of religious settings that I barely even notice that it’s a mass/requiem/whatever anymore, but bet your ass I immediately turned it off because I didn’t want anyone else to be uncomfortable.

        (It’s not fail-safe to assume something in Latin is religious but it’s likely enough that I wouldn’t have been comfortable continuing to play his motets and masses, either.)

    8. NoChristianMusicPlease*

      I used to shop at a small, single owner store a few years ago and one day they were playing a lot of Christian music. As a customer I asked them to play something else and they refused. So, I left and have never gone back. I bought a lot of stuff there and they are now out of business. And, that might be why. Do not force religion on others even through your musical choice.

      1. MK*

        Thousands of small businesses that don’t play Christian music fail and/or close. And most people I know barely register the music being played in shops.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Most shops keep it low and banal… if NCMP walked in to a string of high volume church songs it was kind to ask the owner to change it to give a heads up before just leaving.

          1. MK*

            Sure, nothing wrong with asking. I just think it’s unlikely it’s the reason the business closed.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          Might have been a contributing factor. As you say, lots of small businesses have a thin margin. Alienating part of your customer base doesn’t help.

      2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

        Good for you! I was just thinking that if I were at a pharmacy and heard Christian music, I’d be less likely to use that location in the future.

        1. DataSci*

          I would transfer my prescriptions so fast. I would never trust someplace so overtly Christian that they blasted Christian rock to fill prescriptions for my gay self.

        2. Enai*

          Especially if I needed anything that can be used as birth control or interfere with pregnancy in any way…

      3. Meow*

        I worked at a small retail store that started playing Christian music when it changed ownership. Several customers told me they wouldn’t return to the store because of the music. These were customers that regularly spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars regularly at a time when our sales goal was $600/day, so I think it probably did make a difference in this case! I quit not long after for unrelated reasons, and the store was sold to a new owner within a year.

      4. AnonORama*

        I went to a nail salon a few times that suddenly switched from instrumentals to Christian pop, and thought I could defeat it with my earbuds. The next time I went, I was subject to a Proselytizing Pedicure(tm) — literally having the nail tech tell me about Jesus while polishing my toes — and never went back. They’re still open and I don’t know what music they’re playing now or whether that tech was told to tone it down, but it was definitely weird.

        1. catsoverpeople*

          Oh, that’s horrifying! I’m glad you never went back.

          Side note: the nail tech was certainly taking a risk that s/he could proselytize people during a pedicure and NOT get kicked in the face…..

    9. JSPA*

      Could be, for sure!

      Could also be that she finds it irksome in some other way, and has not even listened to the words.

      In this case, where the person playing the music is likely Christian, and the dominant religion in the area is [given our readership] almost certainly some denomination of Christian, and the assumption of the person playing it, is that vaguely or explicitly religious Christian music is “just music, not prosyletizing nor religion in the workplace,” your answer is almost certainly more likely.

      And the rude (or “rude”) reaction likely stems from a thought process of, “someone who assumes that this is OK may well act as if their religion is being attacked if I straight-up mention I’m not up for hearing music with religious content.” Or perhaps, “I don’t know how to complain about this without saying something I’ll regret, because I have strong feelings about my own religious journey.”

      But in other cases, it really can just be, “happens to have religious content” and also “happens to have a specific tonal quality.”

      A couple of us used to listen to a lot of music from [country redacted] while working in a shared space. Only after a (rare) visitor from [adjoining country to country redacted] clued us in, did we fully process that this was overtly devotional music, and that it could be problematic to someone who understood the words, but either did not feel good about that religion, or found the songs too holy for use as background music in a work setting.

      As none of us understood the words (which we ascertained), nor felt preached to, nor offended, by hearing it, we kept playing those CD’s (but more quietly, so that people passing in the hall would not be subjected to it) until such time as another person called it “that stuff you play that sounds like cats in heat.” So…purely tonal objection, in that case, even though in other circumstances, a religious objection could well have been raised.

      I’m not insisting that this was the right call. We argued that Mozart’s requiem was also “overtly religious music,” and Bach is “religious in original intent,” and so forth, and came to the conclusion that “music from other places and periods” can take on a non-religious significance that is equal to or greater than the original religious significance, and that this applied to our circumstance, absent any voiced distress or displeasure.

    10. Jade*

      Yes. I’d be super annoyed listening to religious music at work. Work should be secular outside of any religious entity.

    11. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Strongly agree.

      I read the letter thinking “wow, Lisa is wildly overreacting and you should feel free to … your playlist is at least half worship music?! My Dude” and you can pretty much hear the screech as I changed to Team Lisa.

      I listen to exactly this kind of music often, including sometimes when working. But I do so as an act of integrated worship – it is on some level equivalent to attending a service. It is absolutely 100% unacceptable to make someone else participate in a religious act without their express consent.

      1. MK*

        I agree with your last paragrap. My parents had a neighbour who one summer took to blasting recordings of actual Mass in the evenings; and it wasn’t my mostly religiously indifferent father who objected, but my regular churchgoing mother. She found it offensive that someone would listen to a religious service that was meant fir worship as if it was the radio, while munching snacks on their balcony.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        That’s exactly how my reading went! Just bopping along, taking the writer at face value, Lisa sounds frustrating…record scratch.

    12. T2*

      Just to be clear, I am a devout Christian. And I would never ever want Christian music in the workplace. The Bible says everything has an appointed time. And when people are trying to work is not the appointed time.

      It just isn’t respectful of others in the workplace who might have a different viewpoint.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Agreeing – same here. I would not be happy to be listening to Christian music in the workplace, even though I am a practicing Christian. Time and place, people!! (Frankly, I’ve left churches over choice of music, and I can’t stand most contemporary Christian music, so I have both a religious objection as well as genre objection).

    13. RIP Pillowfort*

      I’m going to add to this thread. I’m Christian and I think this this absolutely the issue.

      Is Lisa being passive aggressive about it? Yes but she has a point. Contemporary Christian music is worship music for a lot of churches. If someone is of another religion or atheist, they’re rightly going to object about being forced to listen to worship music.

      This isn’t something as banal as not liking a type of music. And something in the tone of the letter tells me OP has a distinct outlook on Lisa as “the difficult one” without seeing that she is also being difficult on this issue.

      1. Magpie*

        Yes, the tone makes me think they have no awareness of how Christian music might affect people who don’t participate in that particular religion. So many Christians think their religion is the “default” in the US and should therefore be inoffensive, not realizing it can trigger emotions from mildly annoyed to deeply upset in many people.

      2. ElizabethJane*

        Lisa is passive aggressive but if I were Lisa when it was my turn I’d pick a day and play religious music from every other religion.

        I say that as a non religious person living in a fairly liberal state so it’s easy for me to fight back. But I truly feel Lisa is not the problem here.

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          I wouldn’t put on other religious music, but you bet your bippy that whatever playlist I did put on would have the Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton by the Mountain Goats on it. Hail Satan!!!

    14. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Interesting because I have a co-worker who listens to the radio. Usually the volume is low enough not to be instrusive. However, right now they’re in love with a current version of an older song. Every time it plays, they turn the radio up full volume and literally dance in their chair while singing (badly) along with the song. It happens 3 or 4 times a day. It’s not the music, it’s the random assault on everyone’s eardrums. I don’t want to hear their music and they don’t want to hear my audiobook of Lord of the Rings. Maybe everyone needs ear buds.

      1. dryakumo*

        Agreed. I listen to music at work, but only with my noise canceling headphones. Fortunately my coworkers are very courteous, but my brain short circuits when more than 2 or 3 people are on different calls around me so the headphones help with that. I would hate working somewhere where I was constantly being subjected to someone else’s music, religious or not (but the religious aspect here definitely has me empathizing with Lisa).

    15. Just Another Cog*

      I’m a churchgoer and a choir member — and I would have a huge problem with “contemporary christian” music in the workplace, for multiple reasons.
      First, and biggest, contemporary Christian music is coming out of evangelical roots and much of it is absolutely in-your-face prosyltizing, which is completely inappropriate for the workplace. Contemporary Christian comes with a big heaping serving of both in-your face religion AND politics.

      Second, and probably the bigger problem for me personally ? It’s just bad. And honestly, the modern country you’re mixing it is more of the same, and it’s mostly unlabeled contemporary christian at this point, with a side of jingoism. It’s all “I love church and beer and beer after church and I’m a real man who likes beer and church.” I get personally offended at the way contemporary country drops theologically inappropriate Christianity into lyrics as a dog whistle to listeners.
      TL:DR: I’m Christian and that playlist would make me want to throw things.

      1. a reformed cog*

        I was coming here to say the same thing. Most contemporary Christian pop music is SO BAD. I left a church over it, when they shifted to playing this kind of modern pop drivel with absolutely mind-numbingly stupid lyrics over generic contemporary adult pop.

        The one that really killed me had a chorus which repeated “yes yes yes yes yes yes Lord” over and over. I wanted to scream every time I heard it.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          A joke my pastor showed me:




          [key change]


          1. a reformed cog*

            Lol yes, this is spot on.
            Don’t forget it has to be accompanied by a powerpoint showing people standing in similar but different grassy fields with their arms in the air.

            1. catsoverpeople*

              Thanks, I just snorted very loudly in my office! Luckily, my door is closed!

              They do occasionally cut to pictures of sunlight over clouds or something in space that looks vaguely heavenly, but mostly it’s exactly as you described.

          1. Grammar Penguin*

            In an episode of South Park, the kids decided to form a Christian Pop boy band. When one pointed out they don’t know how to write songs, Eric assured him all they had to do is take a regular pop song and substitute the word “baby” for “Jesus.”

            Cue Donna Summer disco beat: “Oooohhh, love to love you Jesus…”

      2. Chirpy*

        Yes, this. Nothing made me appreciate 400+ year old hymns more than realizing just how vapid some contemporary Christian music is. Aside from it being inappropriate for work (unless it’s actually in a church’s office), an awful lot of it is theologically bad, repetitive, says nothing but vague feel-good or mandatory-joy platitudes, or is straight up ripping off whatever secular band is currently popular. Or is just bad musically, and got a pass from a studio because of the lyrics.

        And that’s not including the truly awful “us versus the evil evil world” stuff, which can be sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, prosperity-gospel-promoting, or otherwise exclusionary.

        1. UKDancer*

          I don’t know any contemporary Christian music but (despite being a thorough atheist) I have a liking for some of the older hymns because the music and lyrics fit. Charles Wesley and his family had a great gift for writing music in my view.

      3. biobotb*

        Yeah, I was thinking, “It’s probably the content AND the quality that Lisa objects to.”

    16. Bluebell*

      Yes, the minute I read Christian I thought “there’s the problem!” Even though the music may be relatively blends, there always seems to be a Jesus I love you, or Jesus, you saved me, and that is when things officially turn into proselytizing. Many years ago when I was out on a vacation in the country, we’d be randomly turning, dials, and the radio would have some catchy music, and then Jesus would show up in the lyrics and my husband and I would both think oh, it’s Christian rock again. I don’t love country, but it certainly doesn’t have as much to complain about as Christian contemporary rock.

      1. Kate*

        Mike Birbiglia has a very funny bit about this (“Listening to Christian Rock by Mistake”).

        I agree with the many commenters here that the Christian music is almost certainly the problem.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          There was a punk band many, many years ago called The Christian Rock Problem.

      2. jasmine*

        I wonder what type of Christian music OP is listening to? I’m not Christian and I’ve listened to some Christian rock songs that aren’t overtly Christian. It took me a while to realize they were by religious bands.

        1. catsoverpeople*

          That’s how they get ya. You’re supposed to start by listening to the non-religious sounding songs and think “hmm, this is pretty good stuff” and then research the band a little and, when you read about their personal relationships with Jesus, be so moved by their stories that you, too, say a prayer to convert.

          I haven’t been a part of Christianity for at least a dozen years, but I doubt the tactics have changed much.

      3. Just Another Cog*

        Oh yeah. I had to do a cross-country drive in an older car with no way to hook up my phone, and we were stuck with only radio to drive for 9 hours across the Midwest.

        We wound up playing “Christian or Country” for hours: Hit the scan button until we got a new station, listen until we could figure out the station’s genre. Hard rock was easy (we heard “Don’t Stop Believin'” about once an hour, and more AC/DC than I’ve heard since high school) but Christian or Country was *illuminatingly* difficult sometimes.

        1. Panicked*

          I’ve done cross country trips several times and I have been in this exact situation more than I’d like. Thank goodness my car now has bluetooth so I can play music I’ve got on my phone!

    17. danmei kid*

      Agreed. I would likely file a formal complaint with my employer if forced to listen to Christian music at work.

      Alternatively I might make my turn for the music the exact opposite of that music type and see how the LW liked the shoe being on the other foot.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I’m not saying that I would have channeled my 1990s goth girl self, but I absolutely would have found the most objectionable dark metal music I could have….

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I have generally found that anything by Nine Inch Nails or Metallica tends to have the intended effect and, if you *really* want to see people go crazy, make sure the NIN set includes Heresy from The Downward Spiral.

    18. DataSci*

      Yep. I lost all sympathy for LW1 at that point. And yeah, asking them to cut out the religion in the workplace may be better than dueling playlists, but it’s also totally understandable that someone might want to avoid the conflict.

    19. Yellow*

      I was raised Christian. 2 out of 4 members of my immidiate family work for the church. I’ve personally never had any BAD experiences with Christianity. However, I’m an Athiest. I just don’t believe it. Despite my religious background and upbringing, this music would still make me crazy.

      A suggestion for the OP- Why not make a joint playlist? Ask everyone to contribute 10 songs and then compile it into one? Just leave out anything religious.

      1. Enai*

        This strikes me as a good compromise, except 1) make it more than 10 songs per person, or you’ll go batty and 2) if the entire rest of the group agrees, a song or even entire band’s oeuvre may be struck from the playlist, no matter how much the person who submitted it likes it.

        Goal is “least objectionable” not “most fun”, because in the direction of “most fun” lies the bitterest conflict.

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          When I was making playlists for my last retail job everyone got ten vetos where they could have ten songs removed from the playlist each week. However, everyone also got to pick one safe for work song that was veto-proof. As the manager, I had final say over whether a song was safe for work and I did sometimes have to tell someone to pick again.

          We had a playlist per day, and every week the oldest one was retired and a new one got put in its place. The store was open 10 to 8, and each playlist was twelve hours long so you rarely got repeats while on shuffle. I pulled music from 1950 on and we had a lot of fun with it — the playlists were all public, we had a whiteboard by the register that had “Today’s mix is _______” on it, and customers used to ask us what our song of the week was. That said, there were only ten of us working at that store and we all got along very well – and we all definitely maxed out our vetoes every week.

          I really miss that job. Independent bookstores are awesome.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        Yes, Spotify allows collaborative playlists, where everyone can add songs and remove them as they want.

      1. Snowday*

        Same. A minority of Christians are affirming, and the rest are somewhere on the spectrum between calling for firing squads and begrudgingly allowing me to have rights. I don’t want anything to do with it at work.

    20. AnonInCanada*

      My sentiments exactly. Sure, Lisa should be using her words and not create audio wars in the compounding room, but OP should also be aware that not everyone wants to have religion jammed in their ears, either. The best solution for everyone: headphones, earbuds, whatever confines your personal taste in music to your ears only. That, or no music at all (or worse, Muzak, which offends everybody equally :-P ).

    21. Artemesia*

      No kidding. I don’t want to be proselytized at work and would be outraged to have to listen to religious music in my workplace. I am surprised the job didn’t long ago go to earphones since quiet is also an option many prefer.

    22. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to comment on this before I even read anything else. My personal story is that I was raised Atheist and (together with my very close friend) was converted by US missionaries at age 22. They tried to draw us into the Evangelical world, and succeeded with my friend, who is still working as a pastor 34 years later. We don’t talk much and don’t have a lot in common anymore. I on the other hand, couldn’t fit into the Evangelical fold and ended up being Eastern Orthodox, then Greek Orthodox, then back to Atheist again at age 42. With the way things have been here in the US in the recent years, I’m getting a lot of flashbacks to my brief Evangelical past that are frankly surprisingly traumatizing. I hadn’t realized it had done so much damage to me in a few short years I was involved (admittedly, I also kind of lost my best friend to the US brand of evangelical Christianity) So yeah as a customer, I’d feel highly uncomfortable hearing Christian rock in a store, to the point where I’d either rush to be done with my shopping super quickly, or leave without buying anything. And mine was a really mellow experience. I have encountered people online who needed years of therapy after leaving the exact same branches of Christianity that are heavily into Christian rock. Lisa might or might not be going about it the right way, but she’s definitely moving in the right direction – LW, you might be chasing customers away with that playlist.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        On second read, looks like the music is being played in the compounding room, so hopefully not in the customers’ hearing, but running the risk of setting off a trauma reaction in one’s coworkers is also not great, so my point still stands.

      2. Canadien*

        I am from a culturally Christian atheist family in Canada and have very little personal negative experience with Christianity. Certainly no trauma. I can enjoy a lot of art and music, like CS Lewis or old-school Christmas carols or U2 or Jesus Christ Superstar or other pop or country or contemporary music where the artist references their religion, or may even explicitly be about religion. Religion is part of many people’s lives, after all, and just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I might not find it beautiful or interesting. But contemporary Christian music has…connotations that are deeply unpleasant to me and I would strongly object to being made to listen to it at work. I think it’s because it is aggressively proselytising where many (not all, I know) of the other examples I have listed are not, and also because it’s associated with the sort of busy-body Christianity that is currently trying to make all of us (not as much in Canada, but a little, and certainly in the US and other countries that have been affected by US-style evangelical Christianity, like South Korea and Uganda) follow their rules of morality. It just seems wrong and intrusive in a workplace.

    23. kiki*

      I grew up in a very Christian area of the country, so Christian contemporary music was played everywhere without a second thought. If LW has a similar upbringing, I can see how they may not realize it’s actually kind of a lot for non-Christians to deal with. But yeah, after spending years away from my hometown, every trip back it takes me by surprise how deeply religious even contemporary Christian music is. I didn’t used to notice it because it was all around me like audio water, but yeah, it’s a lot. While I don’t think Lisa is handling this maturely, I think LW has accidentally crossed a workplace boundary with their music choices.

    24. Salsa Your Face*

      Yeah, there is no chance I’m listening to Christian music at work. I already have to tolerate it the entire month of December, and that’s my hard limit.

    25. TootsNYC*

      I’m a Christian. I wouldn’t want to listen to Christian music at work.
      In fact, I would probably argue to my boss that it’s incredibly inappropriate, if not borderline illegal, to have Christian music playing in my workplace.

    26. Meep*

      Yeah. I was on their side until I heard it was 57% Christian music. Some of it is fine. (Christmas music for example) A lot of it is a real Debby Downer. I would work on a playlist with only upbeat and non-controversial music.

      1. Anonforthisforsure*

        Agree on the 57% being too much, but Christmas music isn’t necessarily fine. If it’s overtly religious, it’s just as exclusionary as Christian pop. If it’s not, it’s probably the ring-ting-tingling, jing-jing-jingling, teeth-achingly sugary, brutally repetitive headache-causing crap that causes some of us to jam airpods in our ears starting November 1 each year.

    27. KayZee*

      Yeah. While I do not practice any religion (to say the least), I come from a family of many Protestant ministers and yet I would find this off putting. Oddly enough, I love “Jesus Christ, Superstar”, I was rocking out to “How Great Thou Art” at my father’s funeral and I think some more mainstream songs that have Christian themes can be good songs, but if one of my employees started playing Christian (or other religious) music in my workplace, I’d be like, um, no…not here. Too me, it’s just a way of telling other people they’re wrong and you’re right about something about which there is no right or wrong.

    28. Dovasary Balitang*

      I haven’t read through the entire thread but is there any clarification on what sort of music that is in particular? Like, I love the bands Skillet and Red, despite being pretty comfortably agnostic; they have a Christian intent, but their lyrics can be interpreted any number of ways. Or is it more like that one country-ish song that only has three lines and one of them is “God is good”?

      1. Chirpy*

        I mean, this can be a point, because something like Skillet is less problematic (and far better musically) than, say, Hillsong (which is absolutely corporate bland “praise music” with no passion and the stereotypical repeated lyrics)….but I still wouldn’t play even the “good” stuff at work in a secular job. Maybe one not-explicitly-Christian-but-vagely-themed song on the whole work playlist, definitely never 50%.

        1. Boppy*

          The lead singer of Skillet has attacked another CCM artist for not being a real Christian and also criticized the COVID vaccine and other protective measures. I would say it is problematic.

          1. Chirpy*

            Oof. Didn’t know that. Yeah, that is problematic. (I also haven’t listened to Skillet or most Christian rock in over 10 years, so I don’t follow their news anymore.)

          2. Dovasary Balitang*

            I didn’t know that! I generally don’t pay attention to what musicians are doing outwith their music, but that’s unpleasant. Time to quietly erase them from my Spotify.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        If the majority(57%) is christian music I would assume that it’s not just the Christian bands that try to be coy like Skillet.

    29. 2 Cents*

      I am a practicing Christian (protestant, go to church each week), and I would find that kind of music in the workplace incredibly grating. I don’t listen to it personally. FWIW, I find any shared music in the workplace to be one of the levels of hell.

    30. I Have RBF*

      Yeah. While Lisa is going about it in a juvenile fashion, I think her objection has merit.

      I’m an ex-Christian. This means I’m very sensitive to the Christian themes in that kind of music, and they tend to provoke severe anger in me. It isn’t as bad now as when I first left the church, but I still would not want to listen to it all day at work.

      Just as rap music with explicit lyrics is not appropriate for the workplace, neither is religious themed music. Not everybody is Christian, and some people have a visceral reaction to the assumption that everyone is, or wants to be.

    31. zuzu*

      Gonna be honest, “contemporary Christian” music is pretty nails-on-a-blackboard for me.

      I can listen to Bach and Mahalia Jackson all day because it’s *good music,* regardless of the content. But if someone made me listen to megachurch music at work, I’d be pretty unhappy. It’s neither good music nor appropriate content for a captive audience.

    32. Momma Bear*

      OP should take off the religious music for a work playlist, or get an MP3 player and headphones. I am somewhat religious and I would get very irritated listening to contemporary Christian music for hours on end. Stick to the 80s. That was a good era of music.

      Not saying Lisa’s right in her behavior but IMO there’s an easy fix.

      1. Nina*

        Headphones may not be an option – in a lot of labs (and I suspect a compounding pharmacy may be similar) you’re not allowed to obstruct your hearing. It’s a safety thing.

    33. Nina*

      I used to work in a lab where the staff religious breakdown was roughly 5 Sikh, 3 Hindu, 2 Muslim, 2 Christian, 1 Buddhist, 1 atheist. We listened to whatever radio station the majority of the staff present wanted to listen to. I heard a lot of Gurbani Sangheet and contemporary Sikh music. Wasn’t a problem.

      A radio station tends to be less fraught than a person’s own playlist because it usually has more variety within its scope.

      I am not in America, I am in a country where the majority of people are non-religious, but many of our public holidays are Christian-based so I do understand that this isn’t the same thing.

    34. Jessastory*

      I’m Christian and. I wouldn’t want to listen to Christian rock at work- it’s not the right time or place for worship or contemplation, especially for tasks that need (I expect) a fair amount of focus and double checking like medicine compounding.

    35. The Shenanigans*

      Yup. Now, sure, Lisa is handling that in a very immature way. She should say, “I am not comfortable with religious music at work. Could you stick to the 80s rock and pop, please?”. But since she’s not, the OP should follow Alison’s advice and ask her what’s up. If she says she is uncomfortable with religious music and/or country grates on her, then that’s the answer.

    36. Mmm.*

      As a patron of any establishment not known to be Christian in nature, I give a MAJOR eye roll when I hear Christian music (except holiday because you can’t escape).

      I’d do this with any religion, but it doesn’t seem to happen. It gives the idea that your location is based on religion.

      And I would be HUGELY uncomfortable hearing it at a pharmacy, knowing there are pharmacists who blame Christianity for them refusing to fill certain scripts. I’d consider going elsewhere! So, yeah, it’s the content.

    37. Caroline*

      Yes. I cannot abide religious music played in shared spaces that are not religious (I don’t refer to churches here, or church events, for example!), but saying that, if everyone gets a turn, and we’re talking about it being evenly divided between everyone, then really, it’s literally a musical preference.

      If something is really a problem, then why not… say something? Ideally in a courteous and private manner, but just say something.

  1. LinZella*

    Re: letter # 1: I, too, would be deeply uncomfortable with ANY religious music that I was being forced to listen to at work. I’m somewhere along the scale of agnostic to atheist and Christian music would make me feel like an outcast.
    And I shouldn’t have to discuss my beliefs (or lack thereof) as to why Christian music is problematic.
    Please take Alison’s advice insofar as talking with your colleagues. And if music is still allowed, please drop anything religious.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. I’m culturally Lutheran although not a believer, and religious music at work would raise my hackles as well.

      1. CityMouse*

        I was raised Presbyterian/Methodist and the additional cultural context is that kind of music is associated with a particular type of Christianity (typically more conservatice evangelicalism). So even as someone raised in a Christian environment, that stuff makes me uncomfortable.

        Like if someone’s listening to Tallis or Bach, it’s Christian music, technically, but doesn’t carry the same connotations.

        1. SadieMae*

          To me contemporary Christian music is strongly tied to evangelicalism in a way that traditional hymns and classical music are not. I was raised evangelical and had to listen to (and sing along with) a lot of contemporary Christian music at church groups and retreats. I associate it with shame and abuse – like the time my friend admitted she’d had sex with her boyfriend and the entire group took turns calling her names and telling her about God’s judgment on her and how she needed to repent or she would burn forever … as she sat in the middle of the circle and sobbed. Like, just hearing this stuff brings back traumatic memories. And I’m far from alone in that. (And, living in the Southern US, I would also be worried about retaliation if I stood my ground on this issue in the workplace. Luckily, it hasn’t come up where I work.)

        2. Quill*

          Yeah, Tallis has the obvious advantage of not having words that are all about how all we sinners need redemption, etc.

          (I was raised catholic and the number of times that evangelicals were convinced that “didn’t count” as being christian was kind of shocking. Jokes on them, I got to be so atheist that I don’t believe in organized atheism…)

          1. Not Just Oats*

            When I was growing up, we had an evangelist show up and tell us that we needed to go to church and we were all going to Hell if we didn’t accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior… in the middle of silent worship at my Quaker Meeting House.

            Clearly, we were the Wrong type of Christian.

            I wish I were a fly on the wall when the Elders explained that behavior would not be allowed (probably while also inviting them to bring an open mind and dish to the next potluck).

            1. Quill*

              That’s hilarious but yeah, evangelicals will get a bug up their nose about ‘saving’ you from being a non-evangelical christian quite easily.

              (As an aside my hometown had a LOT of catholics! But Evangelical culture there was all about attempting to poach teens and tweens by having “cooler” youth group, etc. Ran out of other conversion targets, I guess. Lots of youth pastors got their presumptions handed to them on a plate inviting people from other churches to functions.)

              1. sparkle emoji*

                Oh I was once a catholic teen those evangelical youth pastors tried to poach and it made me so mad. Like I am a teenage girl, why would I want to go to a beige mega-church with a pastor in jeans playing guitar poorly when I can have a creepy crucifix statue and bones in the altar?

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              Where my spouse grew up in rural Amearica, they had evangelical missionaries come and do puppet shows at the local PUBLIC elementary school with the same theme. And no one complained! I mean, even if you’re okay with proselytizing in public school, you’re okay with your elementary school-aged kid being told that they’re going to hell (and by a puppet!)?

          2. Caroline*

            It is a real thing, isn’t it? This notion that (insert any older, high church type version of Christianity, but Catholicism particularly) isn’t ”real” Christianity. Not real like their very special, real, true version, where everything is real and true, and all the beliefs are completely real and entirely true.

            The irony is always lost.

            1. sparkle emoji*

              Yes, catholics are idolators because we worship Mary(we don’t but these people don’t care about the facts)

    2. MPerera*

      A coworker once found out I was an atheist and said, “Let’s listen to some hymns when we’re on a shift together.”

      I was new to the job at the time, while the coworker was well-established there, so I wasn’t sure whether to say anything or not. Thankfully she got pregnant around that time and that distracted her from the proposed hymn session until she went on maternity leave, and now I would have no problem speaking up about Christian music in the workplace (with one exception : Christmas carols. I like even the explicitly religious ones).

      1. allathian*

        I can tolerate Christmas carols the week before Christmas, but for years I couldn’t bear them. I worked retail when I was in high school and college, and in my first store they played a 4-hour tape of Christmas music between 1st Advent and 12th Night, and I was utterly sick of it by Christmas. The only saving grace was that those shifts were usually busy, so I was only rarely consciously aware of the music.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Oh, Ye Olde “4 hour music loop” at work. The bane of my existence. I worked my first job at CVS and we almost always had 5-6 hour shifts, so the music would always repeat while we were there. No matter what season. And then when you came back 2 days later for your next shift, same loop. Drove us nuts!
          A generic Spotify list that you all agree to put (non religious) music into and then don’t loop it so the algorithm takes over is probably the best bet. That way it doesn’t come back and drive you all crazy with the same songs, but it’ll play the same kind of things when it goes off-list.

        2. Dover*

          “The week before Christmas” is key. the problem is that it keeps getting earlier and earlier. One radio station here changed to Christmas programming two weeks before Thanksgiving last year and Christmas trees go on sale even earlier.

          And then we have to deal with the people who think there’s a “war on Christmas” and saying “Happy holidays” is anti-Christian. (I live in the southeast US, if you couldn’t guess). I feel that I’m a pretty tolerant person but that it’s getting out of hand.

        3. MigraineMonth*

          I was the only employee working at a toy store during December. The Christmas Carols CD was mysteriously misplaced, and anyone entering the store was met with Paul Simon’s “Graceland” or Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Come On Come On” albums.

          A number of customers thanked me for doing so.

      2. SW*

        I also love Christmas carols but I don’t play them at work because they are explicitly Christian. Playing them can add to my non-Christians’ mental load during December, when it already sucks to be non-Christian. Lots of non-Christians don’t feel comfortable speaking out against playing them especially as they tend to be everywhere.
        So in the spirit of inclusivity I make sure other people aren’t around when I play them or use headphones.

      3. Ex-prof*

        Oh my.

        A co-worker once invited me to come to her church. I said “I’m Jewish” and she replied “That’s okay, we have all kinds of people there!”

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’m an atheist, and I love traditional Christmas music because it reminds me of the holidays with my grandparents (which typically included a candlelight church service that was all music and no preaching). I even like a few hymns by association.

        I do not want to hear either of the in my workplace. Ever.

      5. KayZee*

        Same. I used to go to Christmas Eve services at my dad’s church just to sing the carols loudly and proudly. This was long after I had renounced religion.

    3. The Hallelujah Chorus*

      The whole damn episode is a good argument for headphones. That way, OP can listen to Christian rock or Ave Maria or whatever without anyone else joining in, and people who find Air Supply distracting can actually do deep work.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        As pointed out above, they may not be able to have headphones or earbuds, if the compounding pharmacy is making medications like chemo. So some of the playlist suggestions others have made are likely the best bet, assuming everyone wants music and not silence.

      2. kiki*

        A lot of times in a pharmacy you’re not allowed to wear headphones because you need to be able to hear what others are saying right away and be aware of your surroundings (knowing if somebody is right behind you, etc.), but silence is also not ideal. Headphones are great and I support them in most workplaces, but they don’t work for all.

        1. Jawbone*

          bone conductive headphones get around this nicely for many people. I used them BOH in a restaurant as did several others and never once missed a “behind” or had a collision. they don’t go in your ears at all and allow you to have awareness of your surroundings

          1. Moryera*

            Most of what I compound is done in a cleanroom, so I always assumed the rule was there less so you could hear other people, and more so you won’t reflexively adjust your earbuds with your clean gloves on.

          2. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

            I work in food manufacturing and, in addition to not being allowed to wear jewelry beyond a single, unadorned ring, we can’t have anything in pockets that are above waist-level when in production areas. Headphones/earbuds are not allowed (other than ear protection when needed). I can imagine the compounders have similar limitations.

    4. Duke Flapjack*


      I was like “Geez, coworker is being really rude!” Then I read what the playlist is that’s getting competed against and I was like “OK, I get where coworker is coming from.”

      1. Happy*


        I come from an area where most people would consider Christian music “safe” whereas other types of music might offend people (bad words! sex! drugs! etc.). I hope OP takes the advice to heart and reconsiders their music choices for the workplace.

    5. I'm just here for the cats!*

      even as a Christian I don’t want to hear Christian music, especially at work. If it was one song every so often that would be annoying but I’d put up with it. but over 50% of the music is Christian.

      OP, if you change the music does your coworker still try to drown the music out?

    6. zuzu*

      Yeah, I said elsethread that I don’t mind *good* Christian music, like, y’know, Bach. But I still wouldn’t want specifically religious music forced on anyone who was uncomfortable with it, even if it were good music.

  2. Viki*

    There are many SFW playlists that have no version of religion and I would suggest you choose one of those. I would also just suggest the entire workplace go to one of those sfw radio playlists Spotify makes and just let it be Spotify than have to listen to religious music in the work place.

    1. theletter*

      +1 to this, or even to making a collaborative playlist of SFW music so that everyone gets to feel like a DJ, but also be able to veto anything too distracting.

      It might also be helpful to figure out a rough schedule of ‘upbeat’ music to more calming music. You could also establish a ‘new to us’ music day to explore offbeat genres, and a weekly quiet day/morning/afternoon. Maybe you can even establish a rule that anyone can ask for quiet or meditative music at anytime if necessary.

      It’s pretty obvious that Lisa doesn’t like some or most what you pick, but that’s not critique of you personally. Music can bring people together in very powerful ways when you find songs everyone enjoys and make time to explore different things together.

      Circling back to meditation music, that might be a happy medium for you and Lisa – what you hear when you get a masage can be about as chill and upbeat as Christian contemporary, but without any of the preachy lyrics or even a hint of religion.

      1. La Triviata*

        Some time ago, we had – in our open office – two people who sat next to each other who engaged in a music war. One would start playing her music (out loud, no headphones) and the other would try to drown out the first person’s music. The first person would turn up her volume to drown out the second person. It went on and one until the music would get loud enough you couldn’t carry on a conversation in the open office. It wasn’t a disagreement about the kind of music, just a competition as to who would “win.”

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yes to Spotify SFW playlists, Muzak, etc. The goal should be finding unobtrusive and unobjectionable music for everyone – not giving every employee equal airtime for their personal faves. No religious music, explicit lyrics, offensive language, or discriminatory lyrics.

    3. chewingle*

      I came to suggest the same thing. Everyone vote on a Spotify playlist or Sirius XM station and live with whatever you get.

  3. Lemondrops*

    #3 – I also had to keep my leg elevated after a knee surgery. I told my supervisor about needing to elevate it and she said it was fine. I sat in a cube farm. I’m flexible enough that I could just prop my leg up on my desk and still sit at the normal distance from it. I had jeans and sneakers on. Still, my team lead came over and gave me a lecture on how it wasn’t work professional. When I reminded him that I had had knee surgery and our boss knew he backed off quickly.

    I think telling your supervisor about your requirements is a great step, and if they are concerned about the “optics” they can come up with something to mitigate that. Otherwise, I assume that if something comes up they will take care of it and have your back.

    I hope you feel better soon!

      1. Lymphoedema Girl*

        LW3 I assume you will have tried this, but just in case, do you know if elevating your leg under the desk all the time would avoid it getting to the point that you need to raise it so high periodically? Not because of the optics but because working in that position sounds incredibly uncomfortable! I got a variable height medical footstool to do something similar a few years ago, but I think it only got my leg to around level.

        I now wear a compression stocking for my lymphoedema – you might want to talk to your doctor about whether compression stockings or wrapping would also be useful for you if this hasn’t come up already.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          The LW already said they wear compression socks/stockings, and that having their leg up under their desk is not sufficient elevation.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            That paragraph does not necessarily say that. I read it the same way as Lympho – that once the swelling has *already started*, elevating under the desk is not sufficient. Lympho is asking if LW3 has tried elevating the leg under the desk *all* the time – meaning before it is ever swollen – in an attempt to keep it from getting to the point that it needs to be elevated on the desk. It’s a valid question.

            1. LW #3*

              I haven’t tried elevating it under the desk to prevent the swelling, but I’ll give it a go. Oddly, I’m finding that while sitting in a desk chair, propping my leg up on my desk is more comfortable than having it extended straight in front of me because of my extremely tight calves and hamstrings, but I’ll see if I can make it work.

              1. Gumby*

                I say do whatever is most comfortable for you. “Fitting into office norms” is a worthy goal but “taking care of my medical needs and being comfortable enough to do my work” seems the more important goal.

                Then again, in my first job I used to sit with one of my feet/calves on the desk for no medical reason at all. I mean, it was slightly more comfortable for my back and I was very flexible since I was a gymnast. But there was no doctor’s note or anything. I just had to change position often and that one worked for me. In my defense – no one *ever* said anything about it. Also that was at a pre-dot-bomb internet start up and, frankly, was not the least professional thing that happened in that office.

      2. JSPA*

        If there is an inexpensive neoprene sleeve or soft brace (the sort that velcro’s on, as loose or tight as you wish) that helps with the same thing as the compression sock (or can be worn lightly over the sock, with no harm caused), that sort of brace tends to register as the more-familiar “sprain /strain / medical issue” on passers-by.

        And it looks like a sports injury which (for whatever sociological reasons) is somehow often higher status than a metabolic, daily-life, “this is just some crap my body does” injury.

        Might be $15-$20 well spent at your local drugstore, just for the optics (but do clear it with the doctor, in case it is too constrictive or unhelpful…and unless you have a very unusual leg size-to-foot-size ratio, don’t spring for the “prescribed/fitted” version, as the copay is likely to be multiples of the OTC cost of the generic, S-M-L version).

        1. hbc*

          I was thinking along the same lines, but maybe just an ace bandage wrapped as loosely as needed. Basically, anything that is immediately recognizable as related to medicine would be a good signal. Not mandatory, but probably even a towel with a red cross on it or a first aid kit next to the ankle would head off some annoying comments.

        2. Be Gneiss*

          I think where having both feet on your desk, leaned back in your chair, may read as a little too casual for some offices…One foot propped up on the desk definitely reads more “medical” to me.

        3. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I work in an office that defaults to “sports injury” for pretty much anything, and all you’d get from upper management about this would be “try XYZ, worked when I managed to rip all the tendons in my ankle playing ball because I’m not 18 anymore and my body let me know it”.

        4. Florp*

          Yes, or buy one of those reusable gel ice packs. you don’t have to freeze it–even at room temperature it’s still a visual cue that says injury instead of lassitude.

          1. Hillary*

            I had the same thought – a blue gel ice pack would read sprained ankle to anyone who walks by.

      3. Violet Fox*

        After I hurt my ankle, I had to keep it elevated for a while and told folks at work about it. They responded by finding something for me to put my foot up on, and were just generally incredibly kind about things.

        I’d just tell people, and maybe see if they have a solution that fits the height your leg needs.

      4. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

        LW#3 I just wanted to share a story with you from the perspective of a “boss” (well, teacher, but you get the idea.)
        I had a student with a sprained ankle who was supposed to keep it elevated. The kids were so used to hearing me yell “get your feet OFF my DESKS!” throughout the day, it made them all do a double take when I marched over to him and snapped “Aiden! Get your foot ON your desk!” in the exact same tone. We all had a giggle over it, and he remembered to prop his foot up.
        Obviously your boss isn’t going to do that, but there’s a good chance that they just want you to do what you have to to take care of your body!

      5. Rosacoletti*

        You’re more flexible than me if you can reach the desk with your foot up on it!

        1. Artemesia*

          I could get mine up there but not sure I could work from a desk chair in that position. If there is any chance of moving to a cube temporarily or even a small conference room where a better elevation system would work I’d do that. I assume not but if you haven’t explored that, perhaps do so.

      6. sunny days are better*

        I hope that you feel better soon!

        I would stick up a note on the glass wall of my office with something like:

        “Apologies if my foot on my desk, but it is very important for me to elevate it several times a day.”

      7. lilyp*

        I agree with the people suggesting a loose wrap or bandage “for show” if it’d make you feel better, but I also think *one* foot on the desk doesn’t at all read as “lounging on the job” the same way *two* feet on the desk (+leaning back) does. Probably because one foot up is not actually a comfortable way for most people to sit? I think if I saw someone with one foot propped up on their desk I would assume it’s for medical reasons.

        One other idea, is there any way to move your computer to the short end of the L for a while, so you could prop your foot up on a chair?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I had to elevate my leg at work also, at two jobs for different conditions. I just let people know and that was the end of it. #3, just follow Alison’s advice and it will be clear to those walking by that it’s a medical thing. Good luck with your treatment!

    2. Helewise*

      I still have to elevate my foot sometimes for an injury/surgery I had last year. I was able to work from home when I had to have it REALLY high on a regular basis, but also have glass walls and when I had to put it on the desk I was able to angle it to the interior of the office, which at least felt less public. I also have a foldable three-legged camp stool under my desk and when I start to feel it getting a little puffy I put it up right away to help keep it from getting too bad (it’s up now, in fact). Another thought I had is an ice pack. I have one that wraps and velcros around my foot, and makes it pretty clear that there’s an injury/ailment in play.

    3. Kate*

      Your mileage may vary, but I have a chronic, but invisible, illness, and often have to put my foot up on my desk.

      It initially raised more than a few eyebrows, but I addressed it matter of factly and head-on, without really leaving any room for discussion (“it’s for a medical condition”). It helped that my office wasn’t public-facing and I never did it if there were outside visitors.

      it just became a *shrug* kind of thing.

    4. Aerin*

      Since there are people outside the department who might see, I would be tempted to put some kind of sign next to my perch that said “<— BAD FOOT :(" or similar. I handled it in a similar way when I was in a secondary support role and worried that it might look like I was dodging the duties of primary support: put a cute sign on the back of my chair that said "[agent support] is in!" so anyone walking past my cube would have a bit of context.

    5. jasmine*

      One other thing you can do OP is to get some sort of visible aid, even if you don’t need it. Like a knee brace or a cane.

      You certainly don’t have to but it’s an option if you’re concerned about optics.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      I current have an employee with a similar need. The communication about absolutely eliminated the optics of having a foot propped up on the desk. We also told him that it was fine to tell anyone who expressed concerns that he’d cleared it with HR/me and they could speak to us with any issues. We also have private spaces scattered throughout the office, so, if we have clients coming in or others with whom we’re not going to discuss employee medical needs, there are places they can go.

      1. EngineeringFun*

        I have had hip surgery and sitting for long periods can be painful. I have been known to stretch on the floor of my cube or empty office space. Sometimes I’ve had to lay on my back in my cube for 5 min. Generally “it’s all good. Hip thing” is all I need to say!

    7. Chris M*

      LW3 – Within 6 months of starting a new job I herniated a couple disks in my back. This was long before work-from-home was a thing. I was in perpetual pain and sitting was often excruciating. Part of my solution turned out to be sitting on an inflatable exercise ball. I definitely became known as the “exercise ball guy”.

      In the end, everyone understood, and it didn’t effect my relationships with my coworkers.

  4. Lyngend Canada*

    As a atheists raised Christian, with an trauma past (unrelated to religion) I frequently find that Christian music either annoyed me, hits a stfu nerve, or triggers me due to its intersection with my trauma.
    No religious music at work. If you must, put headphones on.
    and I say this as someone who still loves Christmas music and sings silent night to put kids to sleep.

    1. Not like a regular teacher*

      I would find Christian music at work sufficiently triggering that it would interfere with my ability to do my job.

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Not as serious, but disability-related: I’m autistic and my resulting excellent pattern recognition means I am extremely prone to ear worms. Hearing music I don’t like at work would be annoying enough but having it stuck in my head for two weeks would be deeply unpleasant.

      1. Enai*

        I find drowning out the earworm by imagining a pleasant and equally “wormy” song works. I use the soundtrack to “We love Katamari Damacy” for this purpose.

        And now I’ve given myself an earworm.

    3. Beth Jacobs*

      I feel like the headphone suggestions come from office based settings. Headphones are 100 % the way to go in offices. But in a pharmacy, you have to account for sterile standards as well as communication and safety.

    4. Ex-Christian with Trauma*

      EXACTLY this. I spent about 17 years of my adult life in a super evangelical church that (in hindsight) was not many steps away from a cult. I’ve been fully out for about 8 years, and I still can’t listen to Christian music. It’s deeply triggering and if I was Lisa I’d probably be reacting in a similar way. Yes, it would be ideal for her to use words but sometimes those words cost too much.

  5. Prefer my pets*

    I find christian music INCREDIBLY offensive in the workplace, and a lot of “country” is really just christian music with a twang. Though I would have absolutely shut it down, with HR of necessary, rather than trying to drown it out I can see where someone else might go that route if they feel they’re more likely to be harassed & discriminated against than supported. In the current atmosphere & with the current make-up of the SCOTUS, most religious minorities and atheists aren’t feeling very safe or protected.

    It sounds like you guys need to go to something like individual air pods/headsets.

    1. GrooveBat*

      Agreed. I cannot imagine the thought process that would lead anyone to believe that this type of music would be remotely OK in a shared workplace.

      Before jumping to conclusions, though, I would be interested in hearing from the letter writer as to whether they are the only person who plays Christian rock on the playlist day. If so, there’s your answer. If not, then, yeah, there’s something else going on.

    2. RVA Cat*

      All of this, plus think if how evangelic Christian music lands with Lisa if she is in the queer community. It may legitimately make her feel unsafe.

  6. Tommy Girl*

    Oh my goodness. I wouldn’t last a week in #1 office. Music is soooooo personal. I would go absolutely batty if I had to listen to country or jazz all day, and I’m sure my favorite choice of classical ballet music would similarly drive others nuts. You all need to revisit this policy as a group I think.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, irrespective of genre or lyrics, this would drive me absolutely bananas since I’m very bad at multitasking and wouldn’t be able to concentrate at all. It’s possible that OP’s workplace is full of people who don’t mind/actively enjoy this but man, I wonder.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Right now I’m forced to listen to the same song 4 or 5 times a day because a co-worker loves it. It’s a nice song but I-I am begining to hate it and need a fast car to escape.

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          Pandora has been playing that same song for me over and over recently, and now you’ve got it stuck in my head again!

        2. Clisby*

          I would not even be able to tolerate Tracy Chapman’s version 4 or 5 times a day, much less the current country cover.

        3. LW*

          I’ve never warmed up to Lady Gaga because of an early workplace that played Top-40 radio constantly at the height of Poker Face’s popularity. Another workplace ruined Johnny Cash for me by playing the same 10-song cd on repeat all day every day for the four months I worked there. I was a temp at both jobs and didn’t feel I had the standing to object to the music (and knew my own music wouldn’t be my co-workers’ cup of tea).

          My current workplace doesn’t listen to shared music, but if we did I know to vet my playlist carefully for songs that, no matter how much I personally love them, aren’t appropriate for work. LW needs to do the same – and religious music is definitely not appropriate for the workplace.

        4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          I actually love that song — but listening to it 4 or 5 times a day would cause me to hate it.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            The original version was poignant and resonated with me at the time. Now when I hear my co-worker butchering it several times a day it just make me sad and ruins the special place it held for me.

          1. Old and Don’t Care*

            Luke Combes put out a cover of Tracy Chatman’s “Fast Car”. Both have been getting a lot of play.

        5. Irish Teacher*

          I don’t think I’ll ever forget my 4th class school tour when my classmates kept insisting the driver rewind “If you wanna know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss” all the way from my hometown to city about an hour’s drive away. Not my kind of music anyway, but I’d be fairly indifferent to it once, but…well, I might be exaggerating it in my mind but my memory of it is that it went on for a fair portion of the bus ride.

          1. zuzu*

            Oh, god. That brings back memories of field trips in 4th-5th grade or so, when riding a school bus was a novelty for most of the class (but not me!), so inevitably, every. fricking. field trip devolved into a singalong of PART of a Doobie Brothers song:

            By the hand, hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama
            Come and dance with your daddy all night long
            Wanna hear some funky Dixieland
            Pretty mama come and take me by the hand

            Over and over and OVER the entire bus ride. I could not deal with the Doobie Brothers or Michael McDonald for DECADES after that.

        6. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

          I hated the original version of that song and am sorry that it’s come back to annoy me in a new version!

      2. OMG, Bees!*

        For some reason, your comment reminded me of a funny incident my ex had with dolphin noises in a song. She would listen to music on her commute into work, which included the Plants vs Zombies “Theres a Zombie on your lawn” song in her playlist. But apparently she didn’t pause/end the music when she got to work when she put her music player on the desk. No one noticed for the most part since she had headphones in, except for the dolphin EEEEEE part in said song. Took them weeks to find out, as every time it seemed the noise came from her coworker (to her) and came from her (to the coworker).

    2. Not Australian*

      MTE – and even the music I love would become obnoxious after a day or two. Frankly, no music at all would be far better – and white noise probably better still!

      1. Sleve*

        Unfortunately even white noise isn’t safe! I have tinnitus and layering extra white noise on top of that makes me want to scream. I struggle to deal with the extractor fans in my house when I’m showering and cooking; having to put up with ‘optional extra’ white noise at work would have me polishing my resume.

      2. Mongrel*

        I prefer to just leave a radio on in the background, it plays the genre I like and doesn’t repeat songs very much.
        I find silence more distracting and just need something happening in the background, although there are some genres that don’t ‘work’ for me.

    3. arjumand*

      Was just coming here to post this!

      No thank you, to inescapable music all day every day! Even if it’s my own playlist – I’m not always in the mood for it, and sometimes just listen to ocean sounds if the noise (of talking, laughing, and recipe swaps) becomes too irritating.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I could really see where 5 years ago, with a different mix of people, this system arose and everyone found the background music tolerable to good to oh hey, this is a really cool new song I hadn’t heard before, what is it?

      And some of those people left and some new people came in and now that system isn’t working for the people there.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, the mix of people really matters.
        We used to play music out loud in our lab, and it was generally fine – we had a couple of people who had really interesting taste and I got to hear a lot of new stuff. I rarely played my music because I know that Scandinavian metal isn’t most folks cup of tea.
        For a while we ended up with just one person playing music in the lab most of the time, and for whatever reason it ended up all Amy Winehouse and Adele.
        One day I got in to play my music first and wanted to check with our one other coworker who’d been stuck in the lab all week.
        “Hey, is it OK if I play my music? It’s got some swearing in Spanish.”
        “As long as it’s not Adele I don’t care,” in just the most tired tone.

        Then we got some new folks who had a hard time concentrating when there was music playing and that was the end of music in the lab.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I agree that this is a terrible office policy agreement. This is an opportunity to agree to turn off the music and allow everyone to listen to their preferred music on headphones or blissful silence. LW1, now that you realize that this is bad policy, I suggest you work to change it.

      Lisa is not responding professionally at all, but she does highlight a problem which is some people do not want to listen to music or others’ musical choices and should not be forced to.

      Also I do think the Christian music could be the particular problem here, but I might put up with it better than country, Jazz, or classical music.

    6. Jack*

      Yes – leaving aside the genres arguments (which are as old as the first time a caveman banged a couple of rocks together), my ADHD would turn this into a frothing rage situation, because it would be the wrong kind of stimulation

    7. Aerin*

      Never work retail. Or anywhere with a music loop. I worked in a movie theatre for like 4 months when I was 16 and I still get a weird sense of vertigo when I hear any songs from our music loop.

      1. kiki*

        I worked at Hollister for a summer and they had an extremely short playlist. Whenever I hear any of those songs I get a chill. It feels like I’m at a suburban over-air-conditioned mall wearing just shorts and a cropped tank. I get flashbacks from having to spend an hour rotation of each shift just standing in the front saying, “Welcome to the pier!” and not being allowed to actually help customers because I wasn’t supposed to leave my exact spot for even a minute.

      2. workswitholdstuff*

        I have a deep and abiding loathing for ‘Lazing in a summer afternoon’ by the Kinks, after 5 summers worth of retails when it was always on the summer mix tape -which was a literal tape and about 90 mins tops – I have heard it a *lot*

        Like a lot of songs by the Kinks – but can’t stand that one.

        (see also ‘Silver Bells’ for the winter tape equivilant)

    8. DameB*

      My office has a thing where the people who clean the kitchens get to play music in the open office lay out (not even a cube farm, just people sitting shoulder to shoulder on computers). it’s BRUTAL and terrible, esp with everyone on the phone constantly (it’s a sales office).

      I’m not a salesperson — instead I write and I knew it was affecting my productivity. But I dind’t realize how much until I started WFH during Covid and suddenly could get all my work done before lunch!

    9. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      I completely agree, even if I liked the songs, I’d start associating them with work which would suck.

      Do people keep their playlists updated and choose new music? Because that’s a whole pile of regular, never-ending m effort, isn’t it? Constantly updating a playlist of work appropriate songs? (Although this letter makes me wonder if there’s been much consideration at all about the ‘work appropriate’ element and what it includes.)

  7. I forgot my user name again*

    Unless the work place doesn’t allow phones or personal devices in the work area, or there is a need for constant communication between coworkers, I don’t understand why everyone wouldn’t play their preferred music through headphones.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I thought same, but they work in a compounding pharmacy. Not that I know much about pharmaceutical work, but from what I’ve seen at the ol’ HMO they seem to be on their feet and not easily stationed somewhere where they can use headphones for hours.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        If it’s a space where customers can hear the music, as a queerdo I would be upset by Christian rock and some country as well. It’s way too associated with folks who don’t approve of my existence. OP, please rethink the message you are sending with the music, however unintentionally.

        1. MEH Squared*

          Same. And, I’m assuming queerdo is a portmanteau of queer and weirdo? If so, thank you for bringing it to my attention as I am both and will be using it in the future.

          OP#1, Lisa is not handling this in the optimal way, but she may be uncomfortable telling you why she does not want to listen to your music. I agree with everyone else that Christian music should not be played in the workplace, especially if it’s the preponderance of your playlist.

          1. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

            Lol I originally read it as a slant rhyme with “hairdo” so thank you for clarifying

        2. Mongrel*

          The compounding area probably wouldn’t be near the customers and is probably behind a closed door. Partially for hygiene reasons and it’d also be to easy to get distracted by customers and screw up an order.

          1. GrooveBat*

            Personally, what would distract me would be having to listen to music, while I am trying to concentrate!

            1. Manders*

              Yeah, I work in a research lab and I cannot have music on if I’m concentrating. My colleague listens to podcasts, but only if she is alone. Another one listens to heavy metal, but again, only if she’s alone. I don’t mind music on in the lab in theory, but in practice I can only do it if I’m doing something like cleaning the lab, not if I’m doing calculations or something (but that’s just me – I realize other people’s brains work differently).

            2. Mongrel*

              I don’t ‘listen’ to the music, it’s just a level of familiar background noise with an occasional “Oohh, I like this song”
              Personally I find silence distracting

      2. Labrat*

        I’m on my feet and moving around a larger area than the LW described, and I listen to an earbud while I work. (One ear needs to be free to hear alarms.)

        It could be policy as suggested, or maybe no one’s thought of it. v

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I would bet this would totally work, and it’s just that Change Is Annoying.

          1. Labrat*

            Most places it would, but while I’m in a chemical lab, it’s not medical grade. There maybe regulations about what they can take in there.

          2. Llama Identity Thief*

            Someone posted above that if they’re doing sterile compounding in the compounding lab, earbuds/headphones would be an entire safety no-no.

        2. Cherries Jubilee*

          Yes some Raycons or other nice wireless earbuds seem like just the solution! Even if it’s an entire genre you generally love, everyone has songs they hate or associate with bad memories or whatever

      3. noncommittal pseudonym*

        Yeah, it’s a compounding pharmacy, which means they’re working in a cleanroom – I think they’re run as either BSL-2 or -3 level labs. Earbuds or headphones could be problematic.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If they have to have clean hands and gloves for the work, which I would expect, anyone would have to stop what they are doing, go over to the sink, wash their hands, re-glove, and come back EVERY time they pulled out an ear bud so they could listen to a question. Very annoying and inefficient. Especially since that kind of work probably has a lot of minor but important questions. “Please pass the doohickeys” & “Where are the size 12 whatsit” type things.

      There might also be a rule against them for sanitation reasons. There was when I worked food prep, which is probably less strict than medicine prep.

    3. Always On The Company Dime*

      Headpones in jobs where you need to talk to your coworkers can be problematic. Far too many people have the volume at unsafe levels. The hassle of finding common-ground music in diverse offices would put me off trying. Just our little software developer enclave is “all metal all the time” vs “EDM or nothing”…

      That said my team used to all use headphones because we’re geeks and you shouldn’t talk to us anyway. Now that we work from home I think we all use speakers, and still use text chat for semi-synchronous communication.

    4. Sleve*

      If people want to be able to hear their own music AND interact normally and safely with their work environment, I can very much recommend bone-conduction headphones. They’ve been a game-changer for me personally, and nobody else has to put up with my electro swing playlists.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I have bone-conduction headphones and I love them because they do not block out ambient sound, so I can drive with them on and still hear the traffic.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I don’t know if it’s the solution here, but I love mine.

        I do usually turn off the podcast/audiobook (not remove the headphones) when someone speaks to me so I’m not listening to two conversations, but ignoring softly playing music while conversing would be easier.

    5. judyjudyjudy*

      There may be specific rules against headphones in this type of lab. It may be part of their GMP requirements, or just the policy of their workplace. At my non-GMP lab, lots of people wear headphones, but only in one ear.

      If headphones are not allowed, your best bet LW is to talk to Lisa and come up with a playlist that is tolerable for your team.

  8. Uldi*

    LW #1

    You might not realize it, but Christian rock is written and performed as a form of worship. It’s the musical equivalent of a pastor’s or priest’s sermon.

    1. Stuff*

      Is this what makes Christian Rock feel so different from music that has explicitely Christian themes? Like, as an LGBT Agnostic ex-Catholic, I don’t like Christian Rock at all, and don’t want to be exposed to it. Yet I love Johnny Cash. Cash, a man who’s music is often very explicitely talking about Christianity. It just doesn’t come off like Christian Rock comes off for some reason. Is it because Cash wasn’t explicitely trying to use music as worship?

      1. idontlikextianmusic*

        I’d say it’s the difference between music that *is* Christian and music that’s *talking about* Christianity. Plenty of gangster rap discusses religion because it’s a big part of the artist’s culture for example.

        1. April*

          I mean, Johnny Cash covered gospel music. His cover of Were You There is one of my faves and it’s a hymn–we sing it at my church on Good Friday every year.

          1. RavCS*

            It depends. I like to listen to Johnny Cash, but some days and some songs it just is too darn Christian for me and I skip the song or channel.

      2. April*

        To some extent? but it’s also a style thing maybe?

        A lot of U2’s music is about religion, but most people don’t think of U2 as “Christian rock.”

        1. Scarlet2*

          Probably because there’s a difference between singing about religion and preaching. The Christian rock I’ve heard sounds an awful lot like preaching.

          1. Jade*

            Christian Rock is horrible. Fifty percent of this is on OP. And the war of the radio bullying goes both ways.

            1. GrooveBat*

              That to me is the key. It is interesting that the letter writer framed this as Lisa being bullying, but I find LW’s behavior, borderline bullying as well. It is never OK to force religion on your coworkers, whether that is through coercing them into prayer groups, leaving literature on their desk, or forcing them to listen to proselytizing music.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          It’s true about U2. An extremely religious friend was driving with me when I had All That You Can’t Leave Behind playing, and he noted that it could be a worship album. More because it’s uplifting and has a certain sound — it has themes of hope and faith yet doesn’t talk about worship. I hadn’t noticed (I’m not Christian) but now that it’s been pointed out I can hear the influences and references in their songs.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            They’ve always had Christian themes and imagery in much of their music. Praising G_d, wrestling with one’s own faith, seeking personal answers to eternal questions, with differing degrees of allusion and explicitness. I’m not at all Christian, but a huge U2 fan from ‘way back.

        3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          U2 are singing about religion in the context of Irish-UK politics which is a whole other thing. Very different from an American group preaching Christian worship.

      3. Wilbur*

        Yes, Christian music is not about love of music or personal experience. It’s explicitly impersonal. Johnny Cash sang and wrote about his life and experience and it clearly shows.

      4. Chirpy*

        I think the difference is, singers like Johnny Cash, U2, Mumford and Sons, etc are singing about their *own* faith in a context of how it affects them, not open worship or preaching to the listener.

    2. Anima*

      Mumford ans Sons is also heavily Christian themed – which totally eluded me, an absolutely not religious person, until I read about it.
      The music if LW1 sounds like an entirely different genre.
      That said, why not listen to the radio? Now no one has agency about what music is played, and you’ll get the news every thirty minutes! (It’s a joke – my very first work place did that and I liked it because it could get awfully quiet, despite all of us being there and working, but at any other workplace after that it was a nuisance. Don’t do it.)

      1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        Just in case LW1 is considering the radio thing – don’t do it, and DEFINITELY don’t choose your local Christian radio station if you do. The non-music content, like Focus on the Family or anything that comes out of Ken Ham’s face, is often deeply offensive even to Christians, and making other people listen to it at work might well be a firing offense.

      2. CityMouse*

        Yes, while pretty explicitly religious, I’d feel a lot different listening to say U2’s “The First Time” than I would Christian rock.

      3. alienor*

        Mumford and Sons and Sufjan Stevens are like the Narnia of music – a lot of people don’t notice the Christianity at first and then go “wait, what?” later on.

        1. Lola*

          Love Sufjan Stevens. My sister and I chuckle that one of our favorite songs “To Be Alone with You” is explicitly about loving Jesus, because most of it sounds like a love song except for a few key lyrics.

        2. MN_Jen*

          Wait – Sufjan Stevens is religious? He’s one of the main musicians my husband and I put on when we don’t want the kids to hear what we’re doing.

          I guess I’ve never listened to the lyrics…

          1. alienor*

            Yeah, he’s said he doesn’t want his music to be labeled as Christian, but he himself is a practicing Christian and a lot of his songs allude to it pretty heavily. More in a literary/poetic way than in a “Jesus is my bestie” way, though.

      4. Beth*

        I personally loathe most radio, for two reasons: I hate ads; and I hate having to listen to the same songs repeatedly. Back in the 80’s, I was in a workplace that played Top 40’s all day every day, and I STILL can’t stand most of the individual songs that were hits during that era.

        My own preference is for no music, but if there must be music, taking turns while eliminating specific problematic genres (Christian rock and gangsta rap, for example) will at least provide variety.

    3. StartYourEngines*

      Yep! It falls under the category of proselytizing at work and is unacceptable.

    4. JCC*

      I don’t think we know enough to judge if this is true of the LW’s music. “Contemporary Christian” includes a lot of sub-generes.

  9. WoodswomanWrites*

    Raising my hand to say constant music in a shared space is my idea of workplace hell. I need a place with no music to get work done. And that’s as a musician myself. This is what headphones are great for.

    1. Roy G. Biv*

      This. Love music, but do not need it 24/7. And please don’t make me listen to your music choices.

      Married to a Musician

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        As a musician myself, there are tasks I absolutely CANNOT do if there is music playing, and especially if the music has words in English. I can’t read, I can’t do any kind of work task that requires concentration. My old officemate listened to music ALL the TIME (on her earbuds, thank goodness) and to this day I have no idea how she was able to do it. It’s honestly worth revisiting as an office to see if everyone is still on board with the idea or if y’all need to start listening to your own music via headphones.

        1. SadieMae*

          I have a sensory issue where it is very hard for me to focus on anything if I can hear an unrelated conversation near me, or a TV with people talking, or music with lyrics. I can’t filter out those other words and just focus on one conversation/train of thought. It’s a “you can’t rub your head and pat your stomach at the same time” thing. (I mean, you can, but it would be tough to keep it up for an eight-hour workday.) I can do something fairly mindless like housecleaning or cooking while listening to music with lyrics, but at my job I’m always writing and reading, so it’s a no-go. Too many words! Luckily, I’m allowed to wear sound-canceling earphones and listen to white noise or instrumental music as I work. Absolute lifesaver!

          1. AnonORama*

            Me too! This is such a helpful description — I don’t have anything diagnosed, but if there’s one conversation going on near me or if a song with words is playing, my brain will LOCK ON to the words and insist on following the conversation/song with 100% of my attention span. A lot of different conversations is fine, but MAN is it hard to concentrate if one other conversation is going on or there are lyrics playing.

            1. lucanus cervus*

              I have some very repetitive work tasks that I can only focus on with an audio book to occupy the bored parts of my brain, AND some other tasks that I absolutely can’t do with any kind of comprehensible language in my ears. I listen to Jpop for the latter because I don’t speak Japanese so I can’t follow the lyrics.

    2. Grammar Penguin*

      I think as a musician you’re probably a lot more sensitive to it. I don’t play anything anymore but I’m kind of the same way. If there’s music playing at all, I can’t just NOT listen to it.

  10. Reaganomics Lamborghini*

    Hopefully they can use Bluetooth headphones connected to the computer, and if not, they can use it with their personal phones. If headphones aren’t an option, the Christian music has got to go. No one wants to be preached at while working.

    1. Reaganomics Lamborghini*

      Ugh, I meant to reply to an answer referencing LW1. Sorry for any confusion.

    2. Artemesia*

      There are wireless earbuds that are fairly inexpensive so one need not be tethered to a cord.

  11. AceInPlainSight*

    LW1: Nthing the comments about playing contemporary Christian music at work. I am a Christian, but frankly I’m not a fan of most CCM, and I really don’t want to hear it at work- it’s either a flashback to my highschool job (in a faith-based workplace) or makes me start arguing with the theology in my head. It can be hard to register when you’re used to the music (I’ve played Broadway songs at work that suddenly made me cringe and dive for the radio), but CCM just isn’t SFW.

    There’s also the politics of it all- Christians have a really bad reputation in some circles, to the point that any LGBT+ or non-Christian coworker has to wonder if you’re a safe person to be around, just because of the music. It’s awful but deserved, and honestly picking music that doesn’t make your coworkers unhappy is just part of setting the playlist at work

    1. Dahlia*

      Ugh, I’m not Christina, but I worked as a temp in a Christian business and at the time they had one CD. 9 songs about Jesus. I swear, they embedded in my brain for weeks after.

      If I ever meet that singer in a dark alley, only one of us is coming out of it.

    2. bamcheeks*

      makes me start arguing with the theology in my head

      Ha, same! Though I’m more likely to have this with traditional church music (especially if I’ve sung it before) than Christian rock music.

  12. Link*

    1) It’s absolutely an issue with the music being christian in nature, other genres attached to the songs are not relevant at that point. Leave religion out of the workplace in all forms unless it’s literally apart of your job, which in your case is not, you’re in a pharmacy/medical type setting.

    Now that said, Lisa is absolutely being passive aggressive and very rude about this and isn’t handling this the right way provided she’s never tried to rebuff your choice in music before in any other way that would be considered more polite then just trying to drown out your choices.

    I’m also sensing other things at play here possibly. But I can only comment on what information was given.

    2) Like Alison said, speak plainly about what the abusive professor has done and is doing. This isn’t a case of you questioning what’s going on, this is a very plain and obvious history of issues with it being well documented as well from both the student body and administration. Of course it’s possible they will turn tail and RUN. Which I wouldn’t blame them.

    1. Artemesia*

      The new person has to be empowered to refuse service to an abusive faculty member. It IS possible to fire tenured professors; the college is just lazy about this.

    2. Observer*

      Like Alison said, speak plainly about what the abusive professor has done and is doing. This isn’t a case of you questioning what’s going on, this is a very plain and obvious history of issues with it being well documented as well from both the student body and administration. Of course it’s possible they will turn tail and RUN. Which I wouldn’t blame them.

      I would not blame them either. OP, if someone does turn tail and run over this, don’t look at it like you did a bad thing, or something wrong. It may take a few resignations to force the issue. Because even a tenured professor can be fired. It’s not easy, but it can be done. But because it’s so hard, the people who need to do the work will not make the effort unless and until things become too much of a problem *for them*.

  13. Dhaskoi*

    LW1: Playing religious music to other people who didn’t ask for it and don’t have an interest in it can be a form of proselytizing. Very few people are happy to be proselytized to at work.

    Lisa has not been professional or graceful in how she’s responded to this, but if she’s being subjected involuntarily to advocacy for a faith she doesn’t share, she may feel bullied.

  14. TokenJockNerd*

    Another voice to the chorus of “ah, that’s quite the work-inappropriate playlist you have there”.

    And, ah, OP1? There’s a lot in the news these days about the key consumers of contemporary Christian and country flipping out quite violently (my word choice is intentional) when reminded that they’re not the default humans and their prejudices and preferences aren’t inherently superior and correct. This isn’t to defend the passive aggression, but I can understand not wanting to invite that down upon myself. Perhaps consider if there’s reason to think that’d happen.

    1. Kwebbel*

      Absolutely, and I wanted to point out a few things I saw in this letter as well that support this. LW says about Lisa:

      “She is tolerant of everyone else’s music *except mine*.”
      “She turned her music on *to try to* go over mine.”
      “She *loves* to play hers full volume”
      “She *is very controlling* and a *self-appointed boss* to everyone who will let her.”

      It might indeed be the case that she’s all of these things, but it’s also possible that the LW is reading malice into her behavior because of the music thing. And if Lisa is worried that LW thinks this way and will call her a controlling bully and self-appointed boss because she doesn’t feel comfortable with religious music playing at work, her way of dealing with this issue is much more understandable.

      And according to the letter, what triggered the question from the reader was actually a time last week when Lisa *asked the LW to turn their music down after she turned her own music off*! So, Lisa actually did take some steps in the right direction to stop competing with music and instead use her words and solve the issue. And the result is a letter to an advice column.

      All in all, it might be the case that Lisa is not a great colleague, but I have no way of knowing it from the letter. But there’s jut enough evidence to suggest that Lisa feels very nervous to say anything to LW because of how she’ll be perceived.

      1. AnonORama*

        There are really two issues here: 1) OP is playing Christian music at work, 2) Lisa and OP are clearly at bitch-eating-crackers stage with each other and neither is behaving well. But forcing religious music on the office needs to stop even without the personal animosity and passive-aggressive battle of the bands.

  15. Pickle Pizza*

    The irony of LW1’s question being incredibly “tone deaf”…

    I was on their side until I got to “Christian music”.

    1. londonedit*

      Yep, same here. I was all prepared to say ‘Well, Lisa’s being rude’ until I got to the part where the OP wants to play Christian music at work. Nope. In the UK the relationship between Christian and secular stuff is less highly charged (from what I’ve read here, anyway) but still, I would not want to listen to hours of Christian rock music at work. The done thing here is that you don’t overtly talk about religion (or politics or sex) in polite company, which I think would definitely include the workplace. And it’s certainly not on to make your co-workers listen to religious music. Yes, Lisa is being passive-aggressive instead of just having an adult conversation with you about it, but religion can be a hot-button topic for a lot of people and it’s possible that she doesn’t feel she can raise the subject without getting angry or coming across as aggressive.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I don’t think I’ve ever flip-flopped so quickly in my life.

      I mean, Lisa is not handling this appropriately at all. But given the situation, I do feel for her. I would not appreciate this type of proselytizing in my workplace.

    3. EtTuBananas*

      Disclaimer: I am not defending Lisa’s actions

      But I grew up in an area so evangelical being Catholic was considered “diversity.” People would ask, “what church do you go to?” as a regular getting-to-know you question. Christian music was EXTREMELY common. I knew people who listened to almost exclusively Christian music, with perhaps some appropriately conservative (not politically but artistically) country thrown in. While people toed the line of refraining from playing it in schools and other public institutions, it was very normalized in social situations.

      All of this is wild speculation, but it is entirely possible that Lisa knows she would be starting an awkward flame war if she were to call out Christian music in particular as the problem. She could know she’s opening herself to increased prosthelytizing, social isolation, and general otherness by speaking up. Both legally and socially this should NOT be the case – Lisa should get veto power regardless of the genre. But such overwhelming cultural dynamics could mean Lisa sees being passive-aggressive and weird as her only shot.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Felt like a bit of a buried lede to me – my coworker’s being passive-aggressive and rude when I play 60% overtly religious music in the workplace!

        1. Miss Muffet*

          The level of specificity there made me laugh when I read it (along with the eye roll of — oh THERE’S your problem)

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Yes, I’m not sure if they mis-typed 75% or if they actually have that level of granularity on their playlist composition.

          2. KatieP*

            Yeah, when I read the, “57%,” it struck me as odd. I have no idea how my big playlist breaks down by genre. The others are explicitly separated by genre. LW1 has either put some effort into understanding what’s in their playlist, or they spitballed a number.

            Either way, LW1’s playlist counts as proselytizing at work, IMO. Depending on Lisa’s experience with Evangelicalism, she may not feel safe to use her words to explain the problem.

  16. KLV*

    Yeah, sorry OP1. Lisa is definitely being passive-aggressive and unprofessional, but you did not start on the high ground by bringing in technically Not Safe For Work music into work. I love Michael Hobbs and love both Maintenance Phase and If Books Could Kill, but can’t really play them out loud at work because of how much everyone swears in those podcasts, haha. Also, did not consciously realize how much they swear until I did play it out loud in work one day, so I can get that maybe you aren’t realizing just how religious Christian music is if you’re listening to it regularly.

    If you don’t want to confront Lisa right away, give the playlist one more go having cut out the religious music and see if that changes things? But yeah, Allison’s advice is the best advice that you can do a temp check to see how everyone still feels about shared music or just talk to Lisa directly.

    1. GrooveBat*

      The alternate playlist idea might have worked in the beginning, but I think Lisa is at the point now where whatever OP put on is going to trigger her even before she hears the actual words. I think the letter writer needs to apologize to Lisa and promise to be more judicious in their music choices in the future.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Lisa’s only done this 3* times over 2 years. I would think she’s listened to other playlists of LW’s in that time so just switching to non-Christian playlists may well do the trick.

        *3 times too many, obviously. I’m not saying it’s OK to do it infrequently, I’m saying that Lisa’s ire looks like it’s directed at the specific playlist, not LW’s music in general.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I don’t think an apology is necessary. It COULD be that Lisa is just being controlling. The OP did indicate she oversteps with others about other things. But I would cut out the playlist and see what happens. If Lisa STILL does it after OP drops the Christian music, then Lisa is the problem. That’s why I wouldn’t apologize, there’s still a chance that Lisa is the problem, no matter wht OP does.

      3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        Apologising to Lisa goes a bit too far! Lisa is still clearly in the wrong and we don’t even know if the Christian music is the issue here.

        Talking to her directly and naming the issue upfront, in a tone that communicates “you can safely speak to me about this properly, please do that”, is the best option. That’s usually the best response to passive aggression.

        Name it, address it, give the person the best opportunity you can to be better, but don’t reward it.

    2. BookNerd*

      +1 to Michael Hobbs reference! I started with If Books Could Kill and moved from there to Maintenance Phase. And I think they swear more with each podcast!

      1. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

        And it’s so easy to get desensitized to the stuff you listen to regularly. I honestly didn’t even realize how much swearing there was until I tried to listen to the last 5 minutes of Maintenance Phase after picking up my kid one time (I did not finish the last 5 minutes in that car ride…).

        Also, if you enjoy Michael Hobbs check out the back catalog of You’re Wrong About! He left that podcast a year (or two?) ago, but there several years worth of episodes with him, if you haven’t listened before.

      2. Modesty Poncho*

        My favorite podcast description ever is the Maintenance Phase episode on Super-Size Me.

        “Aubery thought she could swear less in this episode. She was wrong.”

  17. Daria grace*

    #1 even as someone who is Christian I’d be uncomfortable with a coworker playing Christian music in the office. I don’t love how the not very creative nature of a lot of it represents our faith and community, I’d be concerned about how it made non-Christian coworkers feel and at work I’m generally trying to focus on my work rather than theological thoughts. The application of treating others how you would want to be treated is likely using headphones in this situation.

    1. Ermintrude (She/her)*

      As someone who’s heard a lot of Christian contemporary music and who has been an atheist for years, the bland repetitiveness of much of it would drive me batty along with the lyrical content.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I am not an atheist and it drives me crazy too – I also find it bland and repetitive.

  18. CL*

    LW4: I’m sure if you search through the AAM archives, you’ll find examples of letter where people are confused or frustrated because they didn’t know someone was leaving or had left the company. Once you resign, there is usually a business reason people need to know so they can plan.

    1. Earlk*

      Most confusing part of it is that their reason for resigning is connected to people’s time off not being organised in consideration with other staff having to pick up the slack, so surely they’d be annoyed if they weren’t told about another coworker resigning and were just given more work to do after that person left?

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        The people taking holidays was what got me. Like, you are supposed to take your PTO. The boss refusing PTO because there is too much work would be worse. If there is too much work, that’s a staffing problem. Which boss might or might not have control over. But you can’t be mad at boss for actually allowing people to use part of their compensation package.

        I do wonder if its more that some people got approved and others didn’t for completely arbitrary reasons.

        But yes, boss telling the rest of the team that OP was leaving is kinda what is supposed to happen. So transition can occur.

        1. Awkwardness*

          It read to me that the LW had some short-circuited reaction due to being overworked. They felt not supported or guided how to deal with the workload and only saw that one/several people going on holiday would further increase their workload.
          It also read to me that they would have preferred if the manager had asked them for the reasons of handing in their notice, so they could have explained themself. But the manager did ask the collegues instead, and now they think the manager was acting unprofessionally.

          LW4 – Maybe your manager did not handle the situation as elegant as possible, maybe he is a total jerk, but ask yourself if you communicated your problems as clearly as you thought you did. Otherwise I do not understand the sense of frustration.

      2. biobotb*

        Yeah, exactly. If people going on holiday increases others’ workload to a frustrating degree, someone resigning is REALLY going to increase everyone else’s workload!

      3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I also think it is because the boss was on holiday when LW4 handed in their notice, so the boss might have legitimately been trying to figure out if something had happened with LW4 while they were away that caused LW4 to quit and then the gossip of LW4 resigning spread throughout the staff.

    2. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Yes, I was a little confused what the problem was. Unless you’ve specifically asked that your departure be kept quiet, it is perfectly natural for the supervisor to announce and make plans for when you are gone. That is what the notice period is for.

      Now, that the supervisor seemed to be looking for gossip to explain why LW was leaving, rather than just asking LW, is a reason for some side-eye and a good example of bad management that may have LW at BEC stage and questioning everything supervisor does/did.

  19. Labrat*

    LW 1, Would you be okay with a playlist that praised and worshiped the Norse pantheon? No? How about the Wiccan god and goddess? Buddist chants?

    Lisa isn’t handling things well, and maybe it’s not the Christian rock that set her off, but it is not the best choice for the workplace.

    1. JSPA*

      That’s not really relevant, and in fact, the OP might well be a big tent, “you play yours, I’ll play mine.”


      a) the social defaults are not the same (there’s no presumed, “wiccan is normal, get over yourself”) or “well, we live in a wiccan society, what do you expect” attitude, pretty much anywhere).

      b) very few people have been raised in what they found to be an oppressively, closed-mindedly Wiccan culture, and have heavy post-wiccan baggage from being guilt-tripped upon leaving.

      c) people may not want to “out” their religious practices at work, or share their own religious music, or encourage having yet more religion in the workplace, or they may be atheist or agnostic or in a stressful relationship with some aspect of the same religion that you’re bringing into the workplace.

      I suppose there may be places where if you have a [ethnic group elided] coworker, certain Buddhist music could trigger some intense anxiety or fear; but in the US, there’s a pretty firm, “if you can find another path that works for you, take that one,” anti-prosyletizing message in most forms of Buddhism, to the point that there’s a “being asked ask three times” clause that’s often invoked to prevent over-eagerness in sharing.

      Does that mean that no-one can ever, even on request of all parties present, bring in a sample of [example of religious music]? I’d say that’s probably more draconian than needed. But given the internet, it’s not like you can’t just pass along the search terms, and let people sample during their own private time.

      1. Labrat*

        Hmm. Good points. I thought I had a “now pretend reality’s different” paragraph in there. I think my sleepy mind thought it might help the LW understand.

    2. Anon for this*

      Norse paganism is a really bad example to use, because there is a fairly large cross over between white supremacy and Norse paganism. Not saying it is all Norse pagans, but it’s enough that it would make a lot of people super uncomfortable up to feeling downright unsafe.

      1. Labrat*

        I think some commentors think Lisa feels unsafe listening to Christian rock…

        But good point. I think sleepy brain wasn’t really making a point anyway.

      2. Enai*

        I, uh, am German and have some extremely uncomfortable historical facts about Christianity and Nazis (original flavor) to share. But that’s too longwinded, and so I shall simply recommend wikipedias article on “German Christians (movement)”.

        Also, please pay no mind to the disturbingly wriggly carpet. It’s just the restless dead from lots of religious conflicts/wars/crusades.

      3. Also Anon*

        Plenty of people would argue that there’s a strong crossover between white, evangelical Christianity and white supremacy. It’s just that “christian” is part of the cultural default here.

        I think your point actually acutely highlights how inappropriate the religious music is.

    3. hbc*

      In Lisa’s place, I probably would have carefully curated a bunch of non-cursing Satanic music, and sprinkled in every one of the songs from the christian rock episode of South Park.

      Then I wouldn’t have played it because I realized I might offend some coworkers who hadn’t brought religion into the workplace, but I sure would be enjoying the fantasy.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      I don’t think this is a strong comparison – personally, I am a Christian, but love to hear music from other religions, and I enjoy a wide variety of music. I actively look to expand my exposure to different musical styles/genres.

      But it’s different when yours is the dominant cultural religion and when your religion is pervasive. Then I think it behooves one to consider that imposing your religion on others is not appropriate.

  20. Manglement Survivor*

    LW1, stop playing Christian music at work! I can’t believe you wouldn’t realize how offensive it is to many people who are not Christian to be forced to listen to your religious music. In case you didn’t realize it, there are lots of non-Christian people, so cut it out. If you were doing this in my office, I’d already have gone to HR.

  21. JustAnotherSun*

    LW #3, seconding Alison’s advice to make it as medical as possible. A couple suggestions:
    – Using a loosely-wrapped Ace bandage signals “medical” very easily, even if you’re wrapping it in a different part of the foot (toes, knee, etc).
    – Using a leg elevation pillow, vs. a bed pillow, is also an easy signal. Google a KingPavonini pillow. (It’s also more comfortable.)
    Good luck on your recovery!

    1. coffee*

      You could also signal “medical” by putting a heatpack on the desk near your leg. Or you could keep your foot-raising supplies in a medicine kit bag or first aid kit bag, and place the bag/container with the first aid cross symbol on the desk next to your foot.

      Depending on how big your workplace is, and how you feel about sharing information, you could also tell the people around you why you’re elevating your foot (like, “I’ve hurt my foot and my doctor has told me to keep it elevated during the day, so you’ll see me resting it on my desk.”)

    2. T2*

      I am curious about this feet on the desk being rude thing. When I am in a coding or writing thing I routinely and laid back in my chair with my feet up trying to get my thoughts out of my head as quickly as they come in.

      Never thought of it as rude.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        In most* office environments, feet up on the desk while doing solo work is seen as unprofessional. It looks too relaxed, even if you are working hard while your feet are propped up on the desk.

        When talking to other people, feet up on the desk can come off as rude because it can signal “this conversation is not important to me (look how relaxed I am)” or “look at how much more power I have in this situation (I can put my feet up on my desk and you can’t do the same).”

        *Not all, obviously. Sounds like not in yours.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is emerging as an interesting example of different cultural norms in different offices, mostly unspoken and learned by observation.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        I just don’t see how one can work at one’s desk, while one’s foot is up on it. I mean, I’m all for acrobatics and stretching, but that sounds incredibly uncomfortable.

        However, perhaps the OP is working with their keyboard in their lap and their monitor on a stand that allows them to move it forward.

        Personally, I ALWAYS have my feet elevated under my desk – I need to for similar reasons to the OP, although I don’t have to have them more than lateral to my waist, thankfully.

        1. LW #3*

          I know it sounds weird, but I actually can make it work. I do move my keyboard and mouse forward, raise my seat, and recline it a tiny bit.
          I’m going to try keeping my leg elevated under my desk to prevent the swelling (some other readers suggested it here), but I found that having my legs extended in front of me isn’t very comfortable.

        2. sparkle emoji*

          My office has everyone working on a laptop, so feet on the desk would be possible

    3. All Het Up About It*

      I have a bad leg due to several circulatory issues and when my condition first happened I ALWAYS elevated it. Now it is almost second nature to me to do so, even though it’s not as required any longer.

      My question is have you tried the lower elevation with the compression stockings or socks? If not, I highly recommend giving that a go. Not so much because of appearance, but because of comfort. In the early days of my issue, sometimes I would try propping my leg on the desk and it was legitimately awful. Horribly uncomfortable and I could not work easily.

      If possible, test this position out prior to going down this path. Also, is there a way you could rearrange your office to allow for better elevation under your desk? Moving your computer, getting a new desk? These are other accommodations that you could request that don’t require a tower of towels. Just as someone who has been elevating a leg for more than a decade for a similar condition, forget your co-workers thoughts and assumptions, the thought of propping me leg up in the manner you described sounds horrible for YOU.

      1. LW #3*

        Thank you for sharing your experiences and advice. I do have compression socks and I’ll try that along with keeping the leg moderately elevated to try and prevent the swelling in the first place. We’re hoping this is a shorter-term issue and we can treat the root cause in a couple weeks, so I didn’t want to ask for formal accommodations. My computer is in the only place in can be on my desk thanks to some stupidly low shelves along one wall. And frankly, we don’t really have the space or resources for me to move to another office or cubicle. We downsized offices, and the hoteling spaces have the exact same set up to mine.

        If this ends up being a longer-term problem, I’ll definitely look into getting different accommodations but it’s just not feasible right now.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          Good luck! I hope you can come up with something that works for you and that it is indeed a temporary issue.

    4. LondonLady*

      If you’re comfortable doing so, you could also send a message to close colleagues on the lines of, “I’m nursing a poorly foot so apologies if I don’t leap to my feet as quickly as usual at times..” or something like that. I had a diabetic colleague who had less mobile/ bad feet days which she called ‘sore paw’ days, which was a useful heads up that they were business as usual, apart from the feet.

      1. LW #3*

        I love sore paw days! This foot and leg have a number of pre-existing problems – reconstructive surgery, a torn Achilles, etc. – and I think I might use that term as well.

    5. Teach*

      I know, op3, you say that a lot of people walk by your desk, but if there are other people who consistently work around you, it might also be worthwhile to explain the situation to them. not only so that they don’t wonder, but some nosy people who walk by will probably ask your neighbors instead of asking you directly. so that can get the explanation out quicker.

      re: is feet on the desk really unprofessional? yes. yes it is. nobody is coming to work to see the bottoms of your shoes.

      1. LW #3*

        Good idea to let my teammates know. Also, I definitely know that having feet on the desk, especially street shoes, are unprofessional. I’m hoping the house slippers will mitigate that ick factor a little.

  22. nodramalama*

    oh god LW1s situation sounds like a nightmare. I have worked in a place where we had to turn the radio on for privacy reasons, but at least that isn’t one person’s specific music taste. Can you advocate for people listening to their own music quietly with earbuds rather than subjecting each other to it. then you can listen to christian rock all day without it becoming a THING.

  23. Nec*

    For LW3: consider getting a pair of, or even just a single, crutch to use as a prop. Even though you’ll never actually use it, having a crutch leaning against the table while your foot is propped up is a pretty succinct way to communicate ‘medical issue’.

    1. Kate, short for Bob*

      unfortunately it’s also an excellent way to have people ask what you’ve done to yourself and also ask where’s your cane today if they’re used to seeing you with it. plus the occasional ‘i don’t believe your story’ from the very rude.

      speaking as someone with an intermittent condition

    2. Heather*

      Carrying a crutch around if you don’t need it might just look silly though, and it seems like it would be annoying to wrangle. I think what the LW describes sounds fine. Props is overkill.

    3. LW #3*

      I appreciate the sentiment but I don’t think it would work for me. Like others said below, I think people would be concerned, and then confused when I don’t use it.
      In a similar vein, I do think I’m going to keep an unfrozen gel ice pack to put on top of my leg, which is kind of doing the same thing. I’m not supposed to ice the swelling, but other people don’t need to know that, and those blue gel bags are instantly recognizable.

  24. Jasmine Tea*

    I am a Christian but not all churches believe in the same exact doctrine. I would not want to be forced to listen to the music of many churches and would not feel right to force others to listen to mine.
    Not appropriate for work!

  25. April*

    I’m Christian myself and Christian Contemporary Music makes me want to stab my eardrums with knitting needles. (So does mmmmmost modern popular country music to be honest.)

    I do listen to recordings of religious music I like. But good lord, I would never subject my coworkers to that.

  26. judyjudyjudy*

    1000% not surprised about LW#2’s experience. Academia was by far the most unprofessional workplace I’ve ever been in — tenured faculty have so much power that they can trample over a lot of people. To be clear, most tenured faculty are fine, but there are some really exceptional jerks who terrorize grad students, post docs, non-tenured staff, associate professors…and the solution is usually to work around this person’s deranged behavior.

    I honestly wish tenure would go away — if only for the sake of grad students — but it never will.

    1. NotBatman*

      I fully agree. I was grinding my teeth reading that letter, because every college I’ve worked for has had an abusive bully exactly like LW2 describes — and nobody in power ever does anything about it. Because “good with people” and “academic” are more or less mutually exclusive, and colleges don’t really have HR departments.

      But the cost of *not* firing these people is intolerable. I had a colleague who drove 6 of her 6 direct reports to quit. A friend became the 14th person to leave his old department since the president refused to reprimand a chronic sexual harasser. Time and again provosts prove they’d rather let 6 or 14 or 100 good employees go than have to sit down for a painful conversation with just one bad egg.

      1. darsynia*

        As a student of one of those horrendous professors, it tanked my good opinion of the college in question. They crammed more people than could sit down in all of her classes, and the most that ever got to the end was around 5 students. From 40 to 5, every semester. She refused to call people by their own names (whatever she misread it as, that’s your new name now) and anyone who got to the class (even if it was on time) but had nowhere to sit was told to drop the class (remember, the school deliberately overfilled them).

        Worst part? Psychology professor. She spent more time talking about her life with the circus (wish I was kidding) than teaching anything. My guess was she was writing some psychological study on the tolerance level of ordinary college students but she can go stuff that paper where the sun don’t shine for all I care. What a colossal waste of money and goodwill.

        DO NOT KEEP PEOPLE LIKE THIS. Or don’t cater to them. We think you’re poor administrators when you do.

    2. Dr. Rebecca*

      Some places are ditching tenure, while others are just relying more heavily on NTT lines. I took a NTT job because I honestly don’t want to be tied to a university for the rest of my career. I may end up being where I am until I retire, but having that be the only option? No thank you.

      And yes, also 1000% not surprised. I’ve worked a few of those departments, and… *shiver*

    3. DrSalty*

      Yes, not to mention it contributes to keeping the job market for young professionals as complete garbage. One of the many, many reasons I left academia.

      1. Artemesia*

        I think like in Europe there should be mandatory retirement in Academia — of course in Europe you also retire with a livable pension. BUT without tenure imagine what would be happening at red state colleges right now. Tenure has some evils but it does protect academic freedom. Colleges can fire people with tenure; I have seen it done. And an abusive professor would be a good candidate but apparently at that college no one is willing to do the work to accomplish this.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Agreed. The rationale behind tenure is to protect scholarly pursuits. That said, within any system, there are those who will find ways to abuse it.

          Still, I don’t think throwing out tenure is the solution, but rather a management team who is willing to manage (so often the solution to workplace problems).

            1. judyjudyjudy*

              I don’t think provosts, department chairs. or deans really try to manage this behavior. Or perhaps they don’t have the power to.

        2. judyjudyjudy*

          OK, you’ve seen it. But how many people have you seen that should have been fired, and weren’t? At my liberal public institution, a chronic sexual harasser was finally ousted (with pay by the way), and he sued successfully to be let back into the department. The faculty would just advise their female grad students not to take his seminar. And I have at least seven more stories of really dreadful behavior. So from my perspective, it’s way too little, way too late.

    4. deesse877*

      oooh yeah is this true.

      My own sense is that hideous behavior is tolerated so that tenured people waste their energy that way, instead of using it for institutional change. Tenure *is* going away, after all; fewer and fewer faculty have access too it, and those already tenured are not doing anything effective to preserve the system.

      I worry about academic freedom, but otherwise, yeah–I shall not weep when there are no more Boomers walking around insulting everyone all day, every day.

        1. Imtheone*

          The youngest Boomers are close to age 65. Most are older, and retired or retiring soon, even in academia.

    5. Anon Librarian*

      I am not in favor of abolishing tenure; however, I do think there needs to be a real conversation in higher education about how the systems that undergird it really value individual achievement and devalue cooperative work and interpersonal skills. It’s a problem. And I have been the person in LW#2 situation who gave someone a heads up and they just recently thanked me for it years later. Still friends. Still occasionally joke about what a jerk we both worked for in grad school. (He did not get tenure. We all went out for celebratory drinks.)

    6. HailRobonia*

      So much this. I work in academia and the unspoken hierarchy is faculty first, then students, then furniture, then staff.

  27. münchner kindl*

    LW 3, the elevated foot: I wonder if there’s enough place near your desk to use a foldable stool or small foldable ladder instead?

    I think that, too, would give a different optic than “foot on the desk”, but depends on details of the space.

  28. Coverage Associate*

    On the subject of background noise, I am experimenting with earplugs designed to block certain types of sound, but not all sounds. Like, there are now earplugs designed to block background noise, but not conversation. I also have electric active noise canceling headphones programmed to block all sound, but the earplugs are just special filters meant to block certain types of sound waves.

    I don’t know about hearing safety requirements in various types of workplaces, but specialty earplugs might be a solution for people who don’t like music but need to hear questions or whatever.

    But, yeah, no religious music outside headphones at work.

    1. Matcha*

      Not sure that there would be an earplug that can filter out only music but let through talking- if it needs to let in the frequency range of human voices, it probably won’t effectively reduce music without being around as effective at blocking out speech.

  29. The answer is (probably) 42*

    Ok I’ve read through this comments section and I think the amount of vitriol directed at LW1 is a little unfair. To be clear: I agree that it’s deeply inappropriate to play Christian music in a workplace setting. I’d hate it. But people are presuming a lot of malicious/ill intent on LW’s behalf that they have not in any way demonstrated! They might genuinely not be aware of how abrasive and upsetting some people find that kind of thing. Trust me, as a former sheltered kid, in my early adulthood I could easily see making a similar faux-pas.

    LW1 is still in the wrong for playing religious music at work, and they should offer to change that and have a discussion with Lisa. But everyone here is jumping straight to “LW1 is intentionally discriminating and proselytizing at work and they are a Bad Person” is unkind and unfair.

    Also, however justified Lisa may be in objecting to LW1’s music choices, her handling of this is completely egregious. She should have talked to LW, or if she was concerned that LW would not receive that well, she should have talked to LW’s manager. Barring additional context that we haven’t been provided, this was not the way.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t think I see any vitriol! Whilst I see mentions of proselytising most people seem to think OP would be happy to knock it off now that they know. This is obviously a gap in their knowledge, as opposed to a deep seated desire to spread the word. But, sometimes you can be very ignorant of something to the point that you are doing as much harm as if it were deliberate. It’s not great that OP thinks they’ve “tolerated” others’ music tastes and now it’s other people’s turn to tolerate theirs. (To be clear this is not calling OP a bad person, it’s just pointing out that their level of awareness is bad). Even when it’s just a matter of taste, a system of turn taking in tolerating what is objectionable isn’t a great recipe for harmony. It’s better to find actual middle ground and exclude anything objectionable. Add in the fact that the music is religious, and expecting people to tolerate it becomes ridiculous.

    2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      People have been direct with LW1, but I have not seen one comment that could be considered malicious or vitriolic.

      1. Beth*

        Seconding this. Pushback =/= vitriol.

        I read the first letter in a mindframe of “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance”. (Or stupidity. But “never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by ignorance” is also applicable, given how widespread and pernicious ignorance can be.)

      2. AngryOctopus*

        And adding to say that lots of people have also specifically called out Lisa for handling this wrong. She may feel that the LW is proselytizing towards her/colleagues, but the way to handle that is not blast competing music, but is to either speak to LW, or if she really feels the religious aspect of that might become A Thing, to the manager who will have to tell LW to lose the religious music.

      3. Old and Don’t Care*

        There have have numerous posts seating that Lisa should not be expected to tell the OP to knock it off with the Christian music because it might be unsafe to say that to a Christian/country music listening/ white supremacist adjacent type who might just have a nutter if such a request was made. Vitriolic is a little strong but not much.

    3. Green great dragon*

      I also do not see any vitriol, nor do I see a single comment presuming malicious/ill intent on LWs behalf. Unless there’ve been comments that Alison’s removed, but she normally flags those I think.

      While I agree with everyone that Lisa is taking entirely the wrong road, I think your comment shows one reason she might worry about addressing it directly: people have criticised the action of playing Christian rock, and you’ve claimed they’re attacking LW in a way they’re really not (“intentionally discriminating”, “malicious ill-intent”). It’s a short step from that to crying discrimination/religious harassment against Lisa, just because she doesn’t want Christian music played at her.

    4. Arts Akimbo*

      >”But everyone here is jumping straight to “LW1 is intentionally discriminating and proselytizing at work and they are a Bad Person” is unkind and unfair.”

      Respectfully, I haven’t seen anyone saying anything of the sort. No one is saying LW1 is a bad person, or even that they are intentionally proselytizing. They are simply explaining in plain language how their choice of music is likely coming across to their coworkers.

      1. bamcheeks*

        This is absolutely true of all the individual posts, but I think it’s always worth keeping in mind that what is polite and direct when it’s one or two people feels quite different when it’s 50-odd people saying the same thing. Our brains aren’t really set up to handle “a few dozen people are all agreeing I’m in the wrong”, and it’s why even individually polite and reasonable posts can feel like a very hostile pile-on when there’s a lot of them.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          A bit like how one single Christian song isn’t evangelism, but eight straight hours might be?

          1. bamcheeks*

            Right! Or how one person might not even mean to be proselytising or be aggressive about it, but if you’re somewhere where that’s common and you’ve had hostile reactions from people when you’ve objected to it, it might well feel that way.

        2. Green great dragon*

          I agree with you it reads as a pile on, but that doesn’t make it hostile. And I do think it’s important to push back on comments like Tas(p)42’s because they are putting an interpretation on others comments that really isn’t justified, and ironically likely to make LW feel worse because they’ve now been told that people think they’re malicious! It’s not true, but easy for someone to read that, assume it’s true and disengage.

          On a broader scale, responding to reasoned points about behaviour as if it were an unjustified personal attack is one way people avoid ever facing up to their behaviour. I’m sure neither Tas(p)42 nor LW are intentionally doing this, but it’s a thing that people do.

          (I seem to be on moderation and I don’t know why, so if this turns out to repeat others’ comments in a pile-on sort of way by the time it gets through, then my apologies.)

        3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          While true you can’t really expect a comments section not to comment. my read on this is that LW probably just didn’t think about it and it’s about as embarrassing as the time my poor coworkers were treated to the musical stylings of The Offspring due to a mic being on. Sure now I check and turn the music off if we’re talking rather than just working together online in silence but it’s not a big deal

    5. Scarlet2*

      I don’t see anyone ascribing a malicious intent or calling LW1 a “bad person”.

    6. Lisa Vanderpump*

      You have to make an *effort* in 2023 to be ignorant of how people feel about Christianity.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I think it really depends on what bubble you find yourself in. Where my in-laws live, no one would bat an eye at LW1 and would find Lisa to be passive-aggressive and rude. They’re watching Fox News and living in a reality where Christianity is going to save the country/world, if only the heathens would get in line. If LW1 did this where I work, HR would be on to turn off the Christian music in shared workplaces stat. It’s far more diverse and range from people all-in on Christianity to those of us who’d like it to stay out of our workplaces and secular spaces.

        There is also a wide swath of evangelical Christianity that views people’s negative take on their religion as validation that their worldview is right and they are being persecuted.

        So, I don’t really think that there is a unified take on “how people feel about Christianity” in 2023.

      2. Curious*

        …. and legally that may be a problem.

        I fear that the solution may need to be to stop the music. If you say that any music is OK EXCEPT Christian music, then –especially in the current legal environment — OP may well have a meritorious claim of religious discrimination.

        1. Aerin*

          You could easily say “overtly religious music” or “music with religious lyrics” and be on safe ground legally. As long as it’s enforced if someone wants to play Matisyahu or something.

    7. Aerin*

      I don’t think people are presuming ill intent. It’s more that the intent straight-up doesn’t matter.

      Let’s say a person runs over my foot with their car. (Apologies to LW3.) They can be the purest soul who ever lived, sweetness and light and fostering abandoned puppies and everything, and they just didn’t even realize my foot was there. Cool story, but it doesn’t un-crush my metatarsals.

      If this person sees what they’ve done, apologizes, and takes me to the hospital, then I will believe they generally try to do the right thing and made a mistake here. If they insist how they’re such a good person and would never do the thing they clearly just did, then while their initial behavior might have been a genuine accident, their behavior *now* is selfish and antisocial, and I’m likely to believe their previous behavior was consistent with that.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think people are presuming ill intent. It’s more that the intent straight-up doesn’t matter.

        Exactly this.

    8. A Nonny Flying Mouse*

      ” I agree that it’s deeply inappropriate to play Christian music in a workplace setting. I’d hate it. But people are presuming a lot of malicious/ill intent on LW’s behalf that they have not in any way demonstrated! They might genuinely not be aware of how abrasive and upsetting some people find that kind of thing. ”

      I want to highlight this part of your comment. Overall a lot of this has also given me some good points for when I’m in this situation again with my mother. I took her to an Ob/Gyn Office for an issue she was having, as she can’t drive herself. While we were in the room waiting, I mentioned how I did NOT like that the office played Contemporary Christian Music. It had my hackles up.

      My mother, who while catholic, is also pretty darn open-minded usually (and she’s aware I’m Pagan). Could not understand that my problem wasn’t just that I didn’t *like* it–I’m not saying they needed to play music I like–but that it was music I both dislike and find to be a potential red-flag. We had a whole discussion about it, and she just…could not see it as “Yes the person in charge of the radio likes this music. BUT they also are assuming that everyone else is okay with it too.” I tried to point out about how culturally dominant Christianity is, and why that’s a problem. *sigh*

      End of day, I’m glad I CAN talk, and disagree with her, and we still love each other. It’s a privilege and blessing–and I know it. I also know plenty of good Christians.

      But playing Christian music–or ANY religious music–at a workplace, is not okay unless it is a specifically RELIGIOUS workplace.

      I can believe the LW honestly was kind of obliviously blind to the problem with CCM and Country, and did not realize. It does not excuse Lisa’s behavior at all–but I’ve known people who were that blind w/o their being malice in it.

      1. Indolent Libertine*

        Thankfully I’ve aged out of “possibly needing pregnancy-related intervention” being an issue… but. O.M.G. Christian music in an Ob-Gyn office?! Like, tell me you’re going to judge me for choosing abortion without telling me you’re going to judge me for choosing abortion…

    9. Also Anon*

      Religion is a protected class, no? Discriminating around religion (including prosethetelyzing) at work is a big no no. Whether OP means to do it, it’s a massive problem.

      It’s jarring when we have an OP writing in about a complaint about someone else’s behaviour, and then to mention in passing and in closing, that behaviour she is complaining about is in response to religious music. OP may well have no ill intent at all, but that doesn’t make her behaviour ok. The cluelessness of then complaining about her coworker’s response to inappropriately religious music is shocking, but it doesn’t mean that OP is being deliberately malicious.

      I would suggest that if you are reading the comments as hate and vitriol, rather than a chorus saying “OP, you have crossed an inappropriate boundary and now that you know you need to correct it” that perhaps you need to do some self-reflection here.

    10. Jessica*

      What vitriol? People engaging with the impact of LW1’s behavior, rather than the intent of it isn’t “vitriol.”

      It doesn’t matter if her intent wasn’t to proselytize, or to make non-Christian coworkers and customers feel Othered or uncomfortable or unsafe, or to establish the pharmacy as a Christian space.

      It doesn’t matter one whit what her intention was.

      What matters is the impact.

      And no, LW shouldn’t “offer” to stop playing inappropriate and harmful music at work as part of a “discussion” (read: negotiation) with Lisa.

      LW1 needs to stop immediately, do not pass go, do not collect $200, the end.

      Once LW1 has stopped creating a hostile workplace, if Lisa’s still doing things that are passive-aggressive or resentful, THEN they can have a discussion.

      But if you’re stepping on someone’s foot, any discussion about it needs to happen after you have first STOPPED STEPPING ON THEIR FOOT.

    11. AthenaC*

      It’s been interesting to read the many comments that say they were totally on LW1’s side that Lisa was being rude … until LW1 revealed what their music is, which apparently makes retaliatory rudeness okay to a lot of commenters.

      1. Jessica*

        Yes, halfway through the letter, a lot of commenters realized the power dynamics at play, which changes the equation a lot in terms of whether the LW is innocent or an aggressor, and whether Lisa might have reason to not feel that she would be supported if she protested openly.

        1. AthenaC*

          No, a lot of commenters assumed the power dynamics at play, which is quite a bit different. If those power dynamics were at play, Lisa wouldn’t even be comfortable responding the way she has, so even the limited information we do have seems to suggest that the assumptions here about power dynamics are likely incorrect.

          1. Jessica*

            I don’t know how to explain to you that we’re not “assuming” that Christians hold power in the US and the overwhelming majority of Europe.

            1. AthenaC*

              I don’t know how to explain to you that whatever the academic discussion re: the role of Christianity in the US and Europe, it simply does not play out in a way that manifests in a power dynamic in every individual workplace.

            2. AthenaC*

              I also don’t know how to explain to you that whatever your personal opinions and assumptions are about power dynamics that may or may not exist in LW1’s workplace, Lisa is not acting as if she believes that power dynamic exists. She’s just being rude.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                LW is being rude by foisting religious music upon her co-workers. Also, you can’t just ignore that Christianity has greater power in the country as a whole just because it doesn’t apply to every specific workplace/situation. At this point you’re just being willfully obtuse.

              2. Happy*

                It’s hard for you to explain because your supposition doesn’t really make sense. Lisa is absolutely responding in a way that (while not ideal) makes sense given the potential consequences of asking people not to play overtly Christian music in the workplace.

        2. Helen of What*

          “An aggressor”? It’s not a criminal case, it’s a workplace advice column.
          LW was unwittingly being rude, and Lisa is consciously being rude, and it’s fine to think there’s a motivation beyond “I don’t like this person or their music”. I still don’t think that excuses passive aggressive behavior that is undoubtedly obnoxious to the other co-workers who are just trying to work!
          I’d be extremely aggravated if I worked with these two. The bulk of my annoyance would be with the person escalating a conflict instead of using their words or proposing a solution like those Alison suggested.

  30. bamcheeks*

    Re: LW5, I’ve got a job advert flashing up on AAM at the moment which includes salary in the banner ad! It’s also at my exact current salary, at one of the three major organisations doing my kind of work in my city. That’s some impressive ad targeting!

    1. LW5*

      Maybe everyone will start seeing ads with salaries and realize how great they are! Be nice if the algorithm wasn’t evil for once. :)

  31. Awkwardness*

    They might genuinely not be aware of how abrasive and upsetting some people find that kind of thing.

    That’s the point. If you regularly listen to this kind of music, it just may not occur to you. Alison gave a good explanation.
    There is some judgement in the comments that does not seem warranted.

    1. anon, anon*

      I’d bet that very few people living in the United States (and I realize that’s not all of the commentariat) haven’t had to deal with this kind of thing. Many times. So the tolerance level is pretty close to the overflow point.

      Some people are mentioning having to deal with it throughout their formative years.

      I actually wouldn’t mind the music, myself, if it hadn’t become inseparable from the politics of hate. But here we are.

  32. Heather*

    Just turn all the music off. I would go insane if my workplace had music playing all day— even if it was music I had picked myself.

    1. EAM*

      THANK YOU!!

      Besides the fact that a lot of people would have issue with Christian music, what about people who have sensory issues? How “othering” is it for them? It was absolutely awkward and humiliating for me to have to ask to not do “Music Fridays” in our open plan office and created animosity from other staff because it was their idea and I’m the party pooper. The real solution that is respectful of everyone is to wear headphones/earbuds and everyone choose their own music/sounds.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Except that not everyone’s sensory issues are the same and not every workplace is able to have people wearing headphones. As was stated in other comments, this type of workplace that LW1 is in may not be equipped to allow headphones for safety reasons. I know that I would not appreciate being subjected to religious music at work either, but I also cannot work in complete silence without going absolutely bonkers. I just have an office job, so I can use headphones, but I would not be able to work without that background noise.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          And it does sound like everyone in that workplace has agreed that “yes, music on is preferable for all of us”, so the question is not whether they should shut it off, but that they need to make sure their playlists are not offensive.

  33. Green great dragon*

    Re LW1: the thing that struck me was that in two years, Lisa has only objected to LW’s music on 3 occasions, which match the times she’s used that particular spotify playlist. Have there been other times when LW’s chosen different music that she hasn’t objected to? Does Lisa in fact only object LW’s music when it’s playing Christian rock? If so I think you need to tweak Alison’s script… or maybe take that as pretty clear evidence of what Lisa’s actually objecting to and just stick to properly secular, SFW stuff.

    1. judyjudyjudy*

      Or, like, have a conversation? Lisa seems fine with expressing her displeasure indirectly, maybe an open conversation will provide clarity? And if Lisa does confirm that the Christian music is the problem, the LW has an opportunity (if they want) to sincerely apologize and assure Lisa that the Christian music will be taken out of the rotation. Their professional relationship might grow!

      1. judyjudyjudy*

        Some people below pointed out below that Lisa may be afraid of reprisal for speaking against a dominant Christian culture. So maybe tread carefully.

        But even if you find out that Lisa’s issue is with your polka music, or pan pipe music, or BSB, LW you should still axe the Christian contemporary music. It’s not appropriate for work.

      2. sparkle emoji*

        I don’t think Christian music is appropriate regardless of Lisa’s objections. At 57% of the playlist, it’s akin to proselytizing and will eventually bother someone even if it’s not Lisa. Keep the religious music to home and the commute.

  34. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (telling people you resigned) – it’s normal to tell people when someone resigns so that they can start to make plans or are just generally in the loop. The less professional part is the supervisor asking someone else why you’ve resigned, imo. (Was the supervisor still on holiday at that point? If not and they were back in the workplace, I wonder why OP didn’t wait until they were back to give their notice since it would only be a delay of one day).

    It feels more like overworked / understaffed is contributing to the anger about this really. With the supervisor “giving out holidays” etc – these are people’s PTO that they have earned and it may be mandatory depending on locale for the employer to give the opportunity to take them (based on the use of “holiday” for days off which we use in the UK and I know is used elsewhere but not so much in the states). Have they been thoughtless in (e.g.) approving leave for too many people at once, or is it understaffed to the extent that anyone having “holidays given out” will cause a burden on others…

  35. Fellow Rx-er*

    For LW#1: we recently got management to agree to trialing work with a single ear bud, and revisit – I think sometime this fall. So far it seems to be working— perhaps your workplace could do something similar?
    For the vast majority of readers who have never worked in institutional pharmacy, it is Very Much a part of the culture to have music playing. I’ve worked multiple places in 2 different states and I’ve found this to be true in every location. Not my preference, but I’ve learned to work with it.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Does that really not bother you? Only hearing the music or podcast in one ear drives me bonkers. It actually physically hurts. I wonder if I have some kind of ear problem.

      1. Fellow Rx-er*

        When we first started this ear bud thing, I thought it’d be so much better without, but I’ve grown so used to background music, it feels like something is missing to not have it. I’ve even considered bringing my own, which I thought I would never say.

  36. Justin*

    re: 5. Yes, I’ve seen it change the applicant range at my own job now that we post it for all of our positions (since we’re allowed to work remotely, so it could be a transparency state or not).

    1. Sloanicota*

      The biggest impact I’ve seen from posting salary in job ads is on people currently working at the organization who are learning a lot about pay equity all of a sudden when they see the posting for new roles. It’s something that has needed to happen for a long time! I hope it becomes the law everywhere.

      1. Jamjari*

        So this. I don’t care so much about titles as pay so if we had transparency at our org, I’d know how upset to be about the man who was hired into a tier multiple levels higher with seemingly no more experience, maybe less (internal hire so I do have some knowledge of his background). Instead, I’m left to assume he’s also making multiple levels of salary more.

    2. Generic Name*

      Now that I can see what others are offering for people with my qualifications, I know that I can make $20-40k more by switching jobs. I would never in a million years ask for what I’m asking now as I interview for jobs. No wonder employers don’t want this. They’ll have to pay more for top talent.

    3. LJ*

      and a positive for the poor Coloradoans that had pay transparency first and job ads started saying “remote except for CO”. The more states that get in on this, the better it is for everyone

      1. LW5*

        Yep. It always struck me as odd how people view companies excluding states with good worker protection as a black mark for the state and not a huge red flag for the company. “Huh, this company won’t hire employees they can’t abuse without repercussion? That poor company, how dare the mean ole state do that to them!”

  37. Flying Fish*

    I’m just going to say “same” with everyone who has pointed out to L#1 how inappropriate religious music is at work.

  38. Irish Teacher*

    LW2, I really like Alison’s advice to let the new hire know the situation. It is very easy, in a new job, to assume you must be doing really badly if somebody is annoyed with you and a lot less upsetting if you know the person is an unreasonable person.

    I remember when I started in my retail job between my degree and post-grad, we’d a supervisor who was completely unreasonable and I remember worrying after days that she was in charge, that she was going to tell the manager and deputy manager I was useless at my job. She may well have done so; I heard her do similar stuff after other new people started after me (and once while complaining to me, said something like, “and they should be able to do it. You never made mistakes like that when you were new.” My jaw dropped, because she’d spent my first month telling me I was doing everything wrong), but the manager and deputy manager were well used to her doing it to every new person and paid no attention to her. If I’d known that it would have been less upsetting.

    LW1, I do think what Lisa is doing is not appropriate, regardless of her reason. There are many better ways of dealing with it if she has an objection to your music and I do think what she is doing would feel targetted.

    However, I do agree with everybody who has said that it would be worth removing the Christian music from your playlists and just playing the other 43% and seeing if that changes anything. I am Christian but I still think I might get the wrong impression if 57% of the music chosen by somebody was Christian. I might wonder if the person was trying to give a message.

    I listen to a lot of Irish rebel songs and socialist anthems (you can’t always separate the two anyway) and I will admit I have occasionally started singing one under my breath in the staffroom (usually, after teaching the event the song is about) but if I were taking a turn at choosing music for the staffroom and 57% of the music was on the socialist side (some of which implies or outright says that our modern governments have betrayed the nation’s founders), it would seem rather pointed. I’d probably even avoid rebel songs, except the ones where it’s more incidental like “The Fields of Athenry” (not a song I’d play, but just an example of one unlikely to offend anybody).

  39. Rowan*

    LW #1, I’m going to guess that Christian music feels neutral to you. Perhaps it even feels particularly *inoffensive*, since it’s usually fairly bland and doesn’t have any sexually suggestive or aggressive lyrics! It is important that you understand that that is absolutely not how it lands to anyone outside of your own very specific religious background, and that you share space in everyday life with people who have very different religious backgrounds to you, not just at work but everywhere you go. To other people, this music lands as aggressive. These comments might seem overwhelming or make you defensive, so I want to suggest the framing that up until now you didn’t know, you were behaving reasonably with the information you had, and now you have been given more useful information and do know better.

    1. Gamer Girl*

      Yes to all of this. I’m putting this here because of your framing of the situation, Rowan. People who have had only healing and good come from religion and religious music might not realize the very real harm that it could cause others because, for them, it was so helpful, or they listen to it all the time, making it comforting, neutral background noise.

      But people have reasons they cannot listen to religious music.

      In my case, as someone who was spiritually abused a few years ago when I went to a pastor for help and advice (and instead got bible verses and evangelical platitudes repeated in even tones over and over again about children being blessings, even as I cried about how I couldn’t possibly have another child because I would go crazy again–PPD or actual follow through with the unaliving plans and attempts I made following the birth of my first. According to this pastor, who was a close personal friend of mine for five years before I went to him with this situation, this was all due to a lack of faith and trust on my part), the songs I used to love are now like reliving that abuse and everything that came after it.

      So in my case: most Christian music triggers memories of being spiritually manipulated to do something I truly did not want to do and was medically dangerous for me because the head of the household–my husband–wanted me to do it anyway. Instead of support and help like I had expected, instead of him being called to account, I got bible verses and “god’s plan” repeatedly emphasized at me for months and months of “counseling” until I caved. My faith and my desire to do what “the Lord’s plan for my life” were so strong that I felt like I was sinning by continuing to say no after months of this “counsel.”

      I’ve never recovered from this abuse and have since left the church. I went back for Christmas last year and had a full blown panic attack during one of the songs.

      If I were Lisa, I wouldn’t tell OP1, ever. OP1 is likely to be the type of “Christian” who has told me that I “must have never known the real Jesus” or have “never encountered the true God who loves me.” Even if it wasn’t OP1’s intention to ignite past trauma through religious lyrics, well, she did.

      People have reasons they cannot listen to religious music.

  40. YetAnotherAnalyst*

    LW1… Firstly, can this be solved with everyone getting headphones and listening to their own music? If it can, do that. It’s way simpler.

    If it can’t, you’re going to have to face up to the fact your music choice is not work-appropriate. And that probably comes as a shock, because probably most of the folks in your life have modeled this as the safer music choice (because pop music is all drugs, sex, and alcohol, etc.). I say this as a practicing Christian who grew up on both Christian rock and country and still listens to both, so I’d probably love your playlist in a home setting – but not at work.

    The good news is you probably don’t need to remove ALL the Christian music from your playlist, but you do need to remove anything you’d classify as a praise song, gospel, or that you might hear in a contemporary service. Also take out anything that you can identify as Christian with a 30-second clip of the lyrics (ie, it says “Jesus” or “Praise the Lord” or whatever). There’s a time and a place for that sort of music, but work is not it.
    You can replace what you take out with any number of low-key Christian-influenced songs, even if they’re not marketed as CCM, but it needs to be on a song-by-song basis. If you need recommendations, check out Mumford and Sons, Kansas, Jars of Clay, Sixpence None the Richer. Not all of their stuff is work appropriate, so proceed carefully.

    Also, take a good long look at your country music selection! Country can be such a mixed bag, and a lot of it is weirdly violent, xenophobic, overtly sexual, or otherwise not ok for work! I think there’s a tendency in some places to gloss over the actual lyrics because we’re too familiar with them, so maybe read through the lyrics instead of listening to them? It should go without saying, but anything that mentions threatening someone with a firearm or lynching is really, really not ok.

  41. Bob's your uncle*

    Question about propping up feet….do people see this as gross or just unprofessional? I am a high school teacher and I sometimes do this at work before school while grading. I am not too concerned about it appearing unprofessional. I have reputation for working very hard, I am in my own classroom, I don’t do it when students are around, and i am clearly grading papers when I do it. Do people see this as gross though? I am wearing shoes and I’m the only one who uses my desk.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think it’s one of those things where teaching etiquette is very different from office etiquette! You “own” a different amount of space as a teacher and you interact with it very differently, and have a very different set of responsibilities. I wouldn’t blink at a teacher doing this: I’d think that given how much time teachers spend on their feet, interacting with students, how many people they’re responsible for etc, work in whatever position you’re comfortable in when the students aren’t there. But in an office, the standards of professionalism are different and you’re supposed to look non-distractingly “at work” facing your computer and sitting up straight for the vast majority of your time, even if what you’re actually doing it reading AAM.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I don’t see it as gross or unprofessional at all! I do have some friends who have weird-to-me rules/opinions about feet on desks or tables. Its your classroom, your time, do what you want.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Well, shoe soles are gross because they walk everywhere. Bathrooms and dead bugs and sticky spots on the floor. Not to mention the plain old dirt. I personally don’t find bare feet gross, but lots of people do. And some bare feet are stinky, which is also gross.

    4. metadata minion*

      Kind of, since your shoes have stepped in who-knows-what before going on the desk, but I’m also aware that human hands are pretty much a tie for grossness with shoes unless you’ve just washed your hands.

    5. I am Emily's failing memory*

      I think the answer to this may vary by culture, as well as by how clean the bottoms of your shoes usually are. If they’re a pair of loafers mostly worn around school and the most outdoor walking they see is across the school parking lot, it’s less likely to be an issue than if they’re the hiking boots or sneakers you wore on a weekend hike or while walking the dog on an unpaved park trail in the morning, and they’ve picked up mud or smushed dropped berries that have perhaps been roughly scraped off using a door mat but still bear discolored stains and dried mud between the treads because they haven’t been specifically cleaned.

    6. Some words*

      Slovenly is the best word I can come up with. And slovenly surely isn’t a professional look. Shoes on furniture is also generally a no-no, both from a cleanliness standpoint and the protection of the furniture.

      It’s been ingrained in U.S. culture for so long it may simply trigger a negative impression in most people, whether or not they say anything.

        1. carcinization*

          I’d say yes, as a person who has been working in the US public school system since 2007 who has a bad foot (a bad foot which often needs to be propped up so it doesn’t swell, compression socks or no).

        2. sparkle emoji*

          Maybe, but with an added element of “shoes are dirty and germy and I don’t want to touch the same surfaces they touch with my hands”

    7. JimmyJab*

      It depends on a lot, but I love the mental picture of a real life teacher in this position, because it is like, the TV/movie way the “cool” teachers sit . :)

      1. Lana Kane*

        Yes! Reading this made me realize that I see teachers/professors as the exception because the cool ones always do it lol

    8. Michelle Smith*

      Both to me. Shoes are so gross that many people do not wear them around in their homes, or switch to shoes that are only worn inside the home. They touch bathroom floors, mud puddles, sidewalk spittle, etc. I’d rather not see the bottom of someone’s shoes or think about shoes on the desk, even if logically I know people’s hands are also dirty. I will, rightly or wrongly, make assumptions about how clean you and your desk are if I see you casually putting your feet up like that.

      That being said, my opinion on whether something you do is gross or not really should not impact your behavior. If you are doing what works for you and it doesn’t have a negative impact on you or anyone else, so what if I think it’s gross? It’s not really my business.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      If you’re wearing a shoe and putting it on a surface not intended for walking, I’d say yes, I see that as gross.

  42. Spicy Tuna*

    I cannot concentrate at all with any type of noise or music in the background! I have been 100% WFH for many years, but when I had to go into an office, I kept earplugs in all day because even random chit chat or street noise from outside would completely drive me to distraction. So, Christian music or no, LW#1’s office would drive me insane!

    LW #3, would an ice pack help with the swelling? If so, that would also go a long way to telegraphing that your leg propping is a medical issue

    1. LW #3*

      I’m not supposed to ice the swelling, but I’m actually keeping a room temperature ice pack on my leg just for the optics.

  43. Friend of HR person*

    LW1 has every right to ask for no Christian music, but then she should anticipate the person will ask for no music with four letter words, slurs, anti-police lyrics, gang references, etc.

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      Can you clarify this answer? I don’t understand your point or how you got there.

        1. Ochre*

          Depends on what you consider a slur, but there’s plenty of contemporary music that refers to women as b*tches, for example. Even commercial radio stations play them; the word might be bleeped but the spirit is still there. Or other thinly-veiled sexual references (“My anaconda don’t want none…”) etc… Or songs about gun violence (Pearl Jam and Foster the People come immediately to mind since I mostly listen to “alternative;” both have had heavy airtime over the years despite being about *shooting up a school*). Or too many songs to even count about drinking, being drunk, needing to get drunk. Or songs with drug references.

          CCM is not appropriate for work because of legal protections against proselytizing and LW1 does need to see that. But popular music, as a whole, contains something to disturb or offend everyone.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            And you can’t find or imagine any music someone could play that isn’t somehow one of those things?


        2. Wintermute*

          you would be REALLY SURPRISED what songs have slurs or derogatory language. Classic rock is not known for its enlightened treatment of women, but most people don’t listen closely enough to pick up all the references. Even innocuous-sounding songs like The Who’s “Who Are You?” snuck an F-bomb past the BBC (and US) censors when such a thing could have resulted in some poor sound engineer ending up in jail.

          If you add in drug references as well, you’d best just stick to instrumentals.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            Hmm. I just started at a random spot in my music file. I got through 23 songs before I met one with lyrics that would be objectionable in a workplace, and that’s because it’s about criticizing Christianity, not because there’s cussing or misogyny.

            (Three before that I might not play at work – one because it’s the kind of electronic dance music that doesn’t go over well when not dancing to it, two because they’re Sami yoiking.)

            About 20 more to get to another song that’s a bit metal sound for workplace time. About 30 more as I skimmed, before I got to an artist I would not play at all at work.

            This is without going into my workplace friendly playlist, and mostly not instrumental. I have cusses, and songs about drinking or drugs. I just also have songs about, oh, , about how music can make you feel better when the world stinks, falling in love when you didn’t want to about your grandmother telling you you ought to give up this silly music career … except it turns out she’s speaking from trauma from suffering through war and losing everything.

            1. Wintermute*

              That’s fair, it HEAVILY depends on what you are in to and your personal playlists.

              For reference I picked a spotify-created (not personalized) 90s mix and the first song (Bush– Chemicals Between us) is arguably a veiled drug reference, the second (Oasis– Champagne Supernova) references getting high. the third is okay I’d say (Massive Attack — Dissolved Girl), the fourth is Blur- Girls and Boys which is right out for references to STDs, sex and more.

              Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence is probably okay enough but some people might find it creepy, Tonic’s “Casual Affair” is okay, as is Oasis “Wonderwall” ATC’s “All around the World is okay, Chemical Brothers’ Setting Sun may not be everyone’s taste but isn’t objectionable– it has barely any lyrics– and the top 10 is rounded out by Type O Negative’s “love you to death” which is obviously a no-go.

              That’s more typical I’d wager.

          2. sparkle emoji*

            I think if you need to be listening closely to pick up a reference, that’s a different category than explicit references to drugs or sex, or religion in this case. Given how people often interpret art in ways unintended by the artist, so the alleged “references” maybe completely innocent.

            1. sparkle emoji*

              meant to say “People often interpret art in ways unintended by the artist, so the alleged “references” maybe completely innocent.”

    2. Corporate Lady*

      This is a problematic false equivalence and should not be accepted.

      We have a freedom from religion. Christianity is not a default. Every genre of music can have a song with offensive lyrics. The problem isn’t when someone is offended, it’s that they have the right to be free from religion and that includes in the workplace.

      Also it’s easily managed by playing radio edits.

      1. Andy*

        What tipped you off? The casual equivocation of obscenity with “anti-police lyrics”?

        Gross, willfully obtuse comment. (Not yours, Lisa.)

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      False equivalency. Not only that but you’re kid of making up a scenario because OP said absolutely nothing of the sort about other peoples music.

      Freedom FROM religion is as valid as freedom to practice your religion. And is a protected class for employers. Playing overly religions music falls into that – you can listen to it in your headphones or private office all you want but you don’t get to force your religion on others at work.

      As for the rest of your comment – music in a shared space at work should be non-controversial. So sure if that ever happened then someone should bring it up. But that’s not what this letter is about.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Most of those things seem pretty inappropriate for the workplace too. Certainly, I would hope nobody is playing music that includes slurs and gang references sound extremely inappropriate. Anti-police depends on context, but it seems a bit political.

      However, I also wouldn’t assume that because the LW likes Christian music, she objects to those things. Being a Christian isn’t equivalent to being politically conservative. It is quite possible to both Christian and anti-police or at least, to be very concerned about police violence. Plenty of Christians swear. And plenty of Christians have bigotted views and might well use slurs. Equally, for all we know, Lisa might well object to all the things you mentioned and might be equally likely to turn up her music to drown out any of those, so I wouldn’t assume that replying with “well, I’ll stop playing Christian music if other people stop playing music with political agendas” would be helpful. Lisa might well think “win-win” there.

    5. penny dreadful analyzer*

      As someone who does listen to a lot of sweary anti-cop stuff: No one would ever have to ask me to not play Anti-Flag in my workplace, because I have common sense and I would already not play Anti-Flag in my workplace.

      1. Wintermute*

        that reminds me of one of my fondest memories from my teen years. After the dining room closed but the drive-through was still open we’d disconnect the restaurant muzak system and plug in our music players. Being teens everything went more or less.

        One day some of the local PD came through for food because we were open late, just as they round the corner I hear the record scratch and “yo Dre! I got something to say!” and we all realize that playing, at loud volume “Eff the police” while serving food to “the police” is probably impolitic at best… but we were deck scrubbing the floors. Cue a mad soapy scramble as we all rush for the office with the audio connection, sliding every direction and over each other, tumbling falling and slipping until one of us finally yanks the cable out as they pull up.

        Once you’re working at a professional workplace and aren’t 16, I think that sort of thing should really be curtailed though.

    6. Leenie*

      Even if you hadn’t gotten the players backwards, it’s bizarre that you assume that LW’s coworkers are playing music with four letter words or slurs at their workplace. Most people would agree to refrain from playing that kind of content at work, just as they should agree to refrain from playing religious music at non-religious workplaces.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, IMO Christian Contemporary Music is as offensive as explicit rap or misogynist rock. Even if I might say “f*** the police” it is not appropriate in music for the workplace.

        “I Don’t Like Mondays”, by the Boomtown Rats would not be appropriate for work either, IMO.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Even knowing the background of the song, and trying to be conscious of such things in the workplace, that one might slip by me. You’re right that it’s probably not appropriate, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me. And I work in a school!

    7. Nay*

      You are basically saying that all Christians don’t want to hear swearing, anti-police lyrics, or gang references in a song…and although high levels of those things aren’t appropriate for the workplace, I’m a Christian and I say Black Lives Matter, and I swear a whole damn lot!

    8. Observer*

      but then she should anticipate the person will ask for no music with four letter words, slurs, anti-police lyrics, gang references, etc

      Which is a problem, why? This is stuff that doesn’t really have a place in the workplace either.

      Of course, there is also the argument that religious music (and proselytizing) is a separate category, so it might not even come up. But if it does? So what?

        1. Observer*

          It is highly political, which is not appropriate for the workplace (unless you are in a political workplace that supports this particular policy position, of course.)

    9. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Um… and you think that anyone who doesn’t want to listed to Christian rock wants to listen to music with four letter words, slurs, and gang references because…?

      Nice try, Fox News. You’ve tipped your hand, now we all know that you’ve become sentient and are attempting to infiltrate innocent comment sections on the internet with your bad takes and obvious dog whistles.

    10. biobotb*

      What? What makes you think non-Christians are pushing songs with racial slurs and swear words at work?

      (Leaving aside your misreading of the letter and who’s pushing Christian music on whom.)

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        To a certain kind of Christian, anything that isn’t explicitly Christian is anti-Christian.

    11. judyjudyjudy*

      Um, yes, and that would be fine? I think a group of reasonable adults perhaps could find some music to listen to that everyone finds tolerable (assuming everyone wants to listen to music), and it might mean that a lot of music gets vetoed — including Christian rock, music with slurs, violence, etc. Classical? James Taylor? Study beats?

      I think the nature of choosing music for the workplace is that everyone gets veto power, which may mean no music.

  44. Pink Candyfloss*

    I would also be deeply uncomfortable having to listen to any type of religious music in my place of work (including “contemporary Christian” which in my experience is typical church pr*paganda with a catchier beat). LW1, please be more mindful that proselytizing at work – even in the form of music – is rarely welcomed by anyone.

  45. Broadway Duchess*

    LW1 is the one playing the Christian music, so presumably won’t have to ask for any of that.

  46. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    LW 4:
    the only thing you have grounds to be miffed over – potentially – is that your boss asked a coworker why you were leaving, instead of you. And even that’s a gray area.

    Depending on how you worded your resignation communication, your boss may have interpreted it to be a variation on “if you don’t know what’s wrong, I’m not going to tell you” and therefore contacted somebody else to get another data point. Or maybe they got that you were upset and didn’t want to compound that by grilling you.

    1. Bibliothecarial*

      I thought that in a healthy workplace it would be a fairly routine, innocuous interaction. But if the workplace relations were at all fraught, it could come across as gossipy.

    2. Smithy*

      I think my read on this letter is that the OP may have given their notice either in writing (i.e. emailed their supervisor while they were on holiday) or via another official channel (i.e. HR). Then instead of the OP’s supervisor talking directly to the OP about the notice, the supervisor talked to other coworkers about the resignation, thus sharing the news that the OP had given their notice.

      From a point of professionalism, it might have been a better course of action had the supervisor had a conversation/communication with the OP before talking to other coworkers. And in that regard, I can see 101 ways in which the supervisor’s approach/tone might not have been as professional as it could have been.

      However, once you give your notice, how your workplace/management handle that news is really out of your hands. And in many ways, this is why even though there are lots of ways you *can* give notice, I find it’s why trying to do it as a conversation with your supervisor (i.e. in person, over Zoom) and then followed with a very basic form written letter to be best. Not because it controls how professional your boss/workplace is – but because it gives you the best chance to control how professional it might be in the moments you can control.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – the manager asking the coworker is head-tilty. Why on earth would they not ask the OP? That really IS abnormal.

      But otherwise, informing the team that the OP has resigned is a normal thing.

      OP – I think you’re upset about the wrong thing.

  47. Jennifer Strange*

    I know a lot of folks are focused on the first letter (understandably) but I’m curious about #4. It sounds like you’re angry because your supervisor approved vacation leave? Or am I reading that incorrectly? Without further information that doesn’t seem particularly egregious. I get that when folks are out it can increase workload for others, but that is part of the give and take of being on a team (I cover for you when you’re out and you cover for me when I’m out).

    Either way, I agree that telling folks you had resigned isn’t unprofessional. Presumably you expected them to find out at some point?

    1. Myrin*

      I do think you’re reading correctly but this sounds like a workplace where people are overworked even when everyone is there, meaning an absence makes even more of an impact. I’m not sure what alternative OP envisioned, though – no one can ever take any vacation? Or was this just an especially bad time where it would’ve been wise for the supervisor to put a blackout period in place when at other times someone being out wouldn’t nearly be as much of a problem?

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      The letter has some interesting wording. “Giving holidays out”?

      I did notice that the LW’s notice happened while the manager was on vacation. I at first read that the Manager prioritized their own vacation, but you’re right it sounds like the LW is mad anyone got time off because it makes more work for those not off. ie LW is a martyr who doesn’t want anyone to take vacation. Or the LW is mad the manager “gave holidays off” to people that are not them.

      LW, being so understaffed that your are perpetually overworked is a good reason to quit; And being so understaffed that any time anyone takes their earned vacation time the remaining team members are overwhelmed covering for them is a good reason to quit. Being upset that coworkers are allowed to take vacations and get holidays off is a terrible attitude.

      Alison is right that the focus of your anger in both people got the holiday off and my boss told my coworkers I resigned is off. Those are normal business practices. Some of the other stuff isn’t. Your boss should not be asking other people why you quit instead of talking to you.

      1. Observer*

        Some of the other stuff isn’t. Your boss should not be asking other people why you quit instead of talking to you.

        Even that is an over-reaction. The idea that the boss did not “have a right” to ask? That’s even more weird than the boss asking someone else. But if the boss had a sense that this was the OP’s attitude, it would explain why they asked someone else.

        I agree that it’s not too professional. But the anger is really misplaced.

        OP, please do an attitude adjustment. You have some legitimate causes for anger. But you are not focusing on the real issue, which is the under-staffing you seem to be describing, and harping on perfectly legitimate behavior. And it’s going to hold you back. It’s going to make it harder to find a decent new job, and it’s also likely to make it harder for you to succeed in a new job.

    3. Antilles*

      Either way, I agree that telling folks you had resigned isn’t unprofessional. Presumably you expected them to find out at some point?
      I agree. Telling other people is a completely normal step in the process, especially if you have any kind of work that needs to get transitioned.

    4. Road Trippin'*

      I suspect that boss’s favorites all got vacation at once and left a small minority to cover an impossibly massive amount of work while the favorites were all gone. Like a team of 8 and he allowed 6 people to take leave at once. I know I’d be upset if I were one of the two.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I suspect that boss’s favorites all got vacation at once and left a small minority to cover an impossibly massive amount of work while the favorites were all gone.

        There’s literally nothing in the letter to suggest that, though.

  48. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I have a novel approach: ask Lisa if she dislikes your playlist, and what the issue is. It could be the 57% Christian music (for whatever reason, ranging from not wanting to be preached to, to it’s just bad music). There might also be an acoustic issue from your work station. Lisa may also just not like you. Whatever it is, it seems like some communication would be the way to go, and then work to solve the problem. I’m guessing in a compounding pharmacy you’re in a room together without customer contact, so it’s just you and your coworkers so you can sort of do whatever works best for the group. There are lots of good solutions suggested in the comments; maybe try some of those.

    I once worked at a retail store where the owner required us to listen to the local adult contemporary station on the main floor. I didn’t like it, and would sometimes choose silence over endless Michael McDonald songs. Not exactly the same, but I understand how it feels to have to listen to something you Just. Don’t. Like. over and over.

    1. Dahlia*

      I highly doubt Lisa would enjoy being put on the spot like that, especially if the answer to why she doesn’t like Christian music is “deep religious trauma” or something.

      1. AthenaC*