my coworker keeps saying he’s my boss … he’s not

A reader writes:

I am having a really weird situation at work. This guy who I became good friends with recently, having just started working with him — Edward — has suddenly taken to saying things like, “So you know most people here think I’m your boss.” The other day it was, “I’m not into hierarchies, but if we wrote one down, I would be your boss.”

I said something to the woman who IS my boss and she said, “WTF? He is not your boss, I am!” She said she would simply pull me from projects I’m on with Edward and have me work more with her. Well, she’s the VP and crazy busy and that basically hasn’t happened yet.

Yesterday evening, Edward calls me and says he just got off the phone with the owner of our company and he’s been made head of marketing and is officially going to be my boss! I am flabbergasted. So I contact the woman who is my boss and she is also flabbergasted, having never heard a word of this. She tells me she’s going to call the owner and call me right back. She calls back and says, “That guy is definitely not your boss and I made the owner promise he would never put that guy in a position over you and he agreed. That guy is not nor will he ever be your boss.” She says she will not confront him because he will be moved from his marketing position soon to another position within the sales team so we won’t be working together much longer anyway. In the meantime, she will be making sure I work more with her and a new team she is creating.

Well, I couldn’t help myself: had Edward purposefully lied to me? I had thought we were friends! What is going on?! So I message him: “I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this. The owner said you would be my boss?”

He calls me and says, “Your day to day isn’t going to change. You know how I know? Because I will be your boss and I’ll make sure it doesn’t!” (Laughs.)

I feel like I am being punked! I don’t understand why he isn’t being let go for spreading lies about his position in order to have more control over a colleague! I have ADHD and this kind of thing makes me feel like I am going to burst. I don’t know how I will keep from confronting him. Any advice?

What on earth! What is going on with Edward, and why is he so obsessed with imaginary power over you? Even if he did have some kind of authority over your work (and it sounds like he doesn’t), it would still be really weird for him to constantly be announcing it to you and declaring his sovereignty. And when your own boss is telling you he’s wrong — and when the owner is confirming he’ll never be right — this is incredibly bizarre.

For the sake of thoroughness, I should note that it’s possible that your boss is being cut out of the loop in some way — that you really are going to be moved under Edward and there are political reasons for why she doesn’t know yet. But I’m really skeptical that that’s the case, in part because if that were the situation it’s highly likely that Edward would have been told to stay quiet about it for the time being. All signs point to him just being a jackhole.

Personally, unless your boss specifically told you not to, I’d want to go back to Edward and say, “I don’t know if you thought I’d believe this without running it by anyone else, but I spoke to Jane, who spoke to Gavin, and they both said very firmly that you’re not my manager and won’t be my manager. It’s really weird that you keep saying it.” If he insists you’re wrong, you should say, “Well, it sounds like you should verify that with someone higher up because I’m being told the opposite, and I consider it closed unless that changes.”

And then … reconsider your friendship with this guy? If you need to continue to have contact with him for work and he keeps claiming power over you, feel free to ignore him/roll your eyes/laugh at him/say “get back to me when that’s official”/say “it’s super weird that you keep saying that”/say “are you not concerned with how you come across to people when you say stuff like that?”/say “‘I’m sure if that’s true I’ll hear about it from someone other than you at some point”/anything else that doesn’t engage too much with whatever is going on in Edwardland.

One note: that advice assumes there’s no real damage Edward is doing and that you can afford to treat it as the somewhat boring rantings of an ass. If that’s not the case and this could undermine you professionally with others, then you need to treat it differently. In that case, go back to your boss, explain the impact it’s having, and ask that she shut this down with either him or his boss.

{ 436 comments… read them below }

  1. Abe Froman*

    This is so mind-bogglingly bizarre. Good on you for checking with your boss. I whole-heartedly agree that avoiding this guy is the way to go. Or maybe just start saying you’re now his boss? He sounds delusional enough to believe it!

    1. wtaf machine*

      I am imagining a “I’m your boss” “no I am YOUR boss!” convo and its very funny to me to picture

      1. CanadianPublicServant*

        I would be tempted to send a Carol/Sheryl gif from Archer, where she yells “You’re not my supervisor!,” following every one of these interactions.

      2. Dinwar*

        You should see me and one of my coworkers sometime. I’m a PM, and am technically responsible for all aspects of the project. However, this coworker’s job is to inform me of what needs done, where data gaps are, and the like. So occasionally I’ll jokingly say “You DO know that I’m above you on the org chart, right?” To which they replay with something along the lines of “Yeah, but I always read those upside down.”

        To be clear, we have deep respect for each other. And are good friends outside of work (our careers are parallel, and it’s not unusual for people in our roles to work really closely together). Honestly they initiate as many of these exchanges as I do! I think our entire relationship, in work and outside of work, is built on counter-signaling.

    2. Ex-prof*

      I know it sounds bizarre but it’s happened to me, too. Although not to this extent! I simply asked my real boss, in front of my usurper boss, if Fergusina was my supervisor too, and real boss said “No, I’m your supervisor” loudly and firmly.

      Fergusina, unlike OP’s coworker, took a hint. Or at least a clearly spoken declaration.

      1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        As long as there is no usurper cranberries!

        See holiday potlucks for details…

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I should have done that with a new worker that I was training who suddenly decided she could critique all my work, despite me having to take some of hers over because she was slow. Apparently I wasn’t the only one she presumed with, because she was gone in less than a year.

  2. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    This is indeed bizarre and I’m surprised your boss isn’t making more aggressive moves to reprimand Edward for this. Besides the fact that his actions undermine her own authority over you, it shows his judgment is (to use a professional term) wack as f***.

    Question for the commentariat — is this the sort of thing one should also bring up to HR as well?

      1. Czhorat*

        True, but even absent HR somebody needs to drop the hammer on this idiot; this is rapidly nearing “too much drama to be worth keeping around” territory, if he isn’t there already.

      2. The Original Poster*

        Hi, original OP here. You are correct, there is no official HR department, the VP is supposed to handle all HR. She then went to the owner who called me the next day and told me (English is his second language) “I was just talking dreams with that guy the other night. There is no reason to be apprehensive of him.” Whatever that means!

        1. Ex-prof*

          Means he was indulging OP’s coworker by listening to his daydreams, I suppose. Whether the owner intends to fulfill those daydreams is another question.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          …Now I’m apprehensive of the owner as well. Don’t tell me not to worry about someone acting this bizarre/aggressive.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Yeah, that was a confusing, mealy mouth response from the owner.

            Maybe it’s just that I’ve worked in companies where things are more direct, but the owners response and Edward’s continued weirdness would have me requesting a meeting with all 4 of them to clarify – all at once, with all of us in the room and no game of telephone or weird imagineering of power and reporting structures going on in anyone’s dreamspace.

            Or I’d just draw out my understanding of the org chart reporting structure, give it to boss and owner to sign off on and then hand Edward the Odd a copy every time he claimed otherwise.

        3. Lab Boss*

          It sounds like he’s telling you that he was having a conversation with Edward about career advancement and goals, and something was said that the owner meant as “Yes, I do think you’ve got it in you to be the chief pasta facilitator someday” and Edward interpreted as “Yes, I agree that you’ve got what it takes and should be the chief pasta engineer right now.”

          It sounds like Edward has wanted to be the boss for some time, so his mind was probably primed to hear what he wanted to hear. The language barrier could also have contributed. That doesn’t mean Edward is handling anything correctly but it at least makes more sense than him just… inventing his promotion out of whole cloth, and expecting you to go along with it?

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            This is exactly my thought. Owner thought he was having a general mentorship type chat and Edward was explicitly asking for a promotion. Why would it even dawn on the Owner to tell Edward “But obviously if I was really promoting you at this moment we would talk about more details than this, you get that, right?”

            That Edward has a real set of brass gumption on him.

        4. Rainey*

          So he was openly fantasizing about having power over you OP? Run. For. The. Hills. He dreams of the day when he is your boss? Of having more power and responsibility, and is in charge? That’s a great big nope.

          That’s what I took out of that comment….

          1. The Original Poster*

            Thank you that’s how I feel too. If we were friends, who wants/is seeking power over their friends? It’s too baffling for words.

            1. Rainey*

              That isn’t how any kind of friend I’ve ever had behaves. This is very creepy. I like the making a picture but this human sounds like they aren’t in a position to listen. I think your boss needs a little more context on how incredibly uncomfortable you are in this situation.

              I have a feeling here that they took your friendly demeanor and are misconstruing it wildly. In which case, if no action is taken, maybe you can find another place to work. You know. Without the delusions of “friends”?

            2. Kelsi*

              Sorry to ask, OP, but are you a woman? Edward’s focus on having authority over you is setting off all my predator alarm bells. I could be overreacting, but if I were in this situation, my read would definitely be “this man wants to get in my pants and have the power to punish me if I refuse.”

        5. Crocdilasaurus*

          He was talking dreams…I would want to know more about this, although I doubt I would get the answers or outcome I want. First of all, whose dreams? Do the owner’s dreams include Edward being your boss? If it’s all Edward’s dreams, why did the owner entertain them? Based on what the owner said to you, they are not a direct person. I think you will continue to hear Edward telling you that he is your boss. Develop a handful of scripts that professionally communicate the sentiment, “Sure, Jan,” and use them as needed.
          He’s probably telling other people that he is your boss, so be prepared to address that.

        6. Pyjamas*

          Do Edward and owner speak in the owner’s first language? They seem awfully cozy to be chatting about dreams.

          1. The Original Poster*

            They do not share a first language no. The owner is from a culture where women are more subordinate to men, which could explain why more than half the company is women. Clearly, even though Edward and I have been at the company close to the same amount of time, I was not even considered for a step up, but Edward was. Which shows me what the owner values.

        7. Furious Green Dreams*

          “Don’t be apprehensive of him” …becoming your boss?

          Maybe your current boss is out of the loop after all. Pretty ambiguous.

        8. Distracted Librarian*

          Yikes, sounds like the owner may be considering promoting him and making him your boss. You may need to tread carefully here.

        9. G2E*

          Oh please, please, please write in for an update when you can. This whack-a-doodle…I am actually speechless.

        10. Ellie*

          Wow… so the owner admitted that there was a discussion, and it did involve him being your boss…. but it was just a dream? Yeah, I’d run for the hills OP. This is not normal.

    1. Silver Robin*

      yeah, I am also surprised that actual manager is not doing more to disentangle them and push for consequences. so what if Edward is moving to sales? What happens when he chooses another person to be the boss of?

      I, personally, would note it with HR even in a “Edward seems to do this thing and I do not know where it comes from but it might cause confusion if he does it to someone else, like it did for me.” Just to have a record of the behavior.

      1. Aurion*

        For sure. Even if Edward is moving to sales soon, OP’s boss is a VP. Even if Edward isn’t under this VP’s chain of command (I can’t tell either way from the phrasing), Edward’s overreach is messing up things for this VP’s reports, and she absolutely has the grounds and authority to come down hard on this nonsense.

        1. The Original Poster*

          Edward is also under this VP, but the owner supposedly told him in this new head of marketing position that he would report directly to the owner.

          1. Crocdilasaurus*

            So he will be senior to you even though he will not be your boss. I take back my earlier advice to be all, Sure, Jan. Be noncommittal and tread carefully. If your actual boss continues to be non confrontational about it, he will probably be your de facto boss.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              That is assuming that piece of information is accurate. If it was Edward saying the owner told him this, I’d have my doubts it’s any more true than the rest of Edward’s comments.

              1. The Original Poster*

                Yes, Edward told me the owner said Edward would report directly to the owner. Essentially bypassing the VP. And he would be head of marketing across all the companies the owner owns, which is like 5 at this point. And a marketer at each company would report to him. The VP said the owner would never make such a big move without talking to her first. She was pissed at first.

                1. Laura*

                  I wonder, is the owner in the habit of telling everyone what they want to hear, or at least make it very easy for everyone to believe they heard from him what they wanted to hear?

                  Also… you said you were friends with Edward. Did he ever act as a friend would, did you feel that he wished you well, that he had your back, that you could trust him? Or was it more like, “we have lunch together and talk”?

                  Because this behaviour might just barely be the actions of someone who has a very bad taste in jokes and an immunity to ever catching a clue. But at some point this does not matter anymore. He’s undermining you at the workplace and in your own head. If he ever was a friend, do you see any open line to him to tell him to stop. this. right. now! and get through to him?

                  I get the impression that Edward knows how to play people, and you have recently be assigned a role as stepping stone: To become boss, he needs a subordinate to create an image of his boss-dom in people’s perception, and you’re it.

                  I would not trust any of these people with the milk money.

                2. Engineer*

                  Honestly, it sounds like you need to dust off your resume. Your VP is being bypassed on major decisions, the owner is clearly showing bias, and Edward has long crossed into creep territory. That’s not a productive future.

                3. Zarniwoop*

                  “ Edward told me…”
                  Therefore you should assume it’s false until proven otherwise.

                  It’s really difficult to apply it consistently, but I’ve had to deal with chronic liars and it’s what you have to do.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Exactly – I just can’t wrap my head around “She says she will not confront him because he will be moved from his marketing position soon to another position within the sales team so we won’t be working together much longer anyway.”

      Waitwutnow? How is no one addressing this, even if there’s no formal HR?

      1. WellRed*

        Her boss should have clamped down the first time instead of just moving OP away from Edward. Frankly I think op boss is looking really bad here.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Yeah, that was less than ideal. Edward is the one acting inappropriately; he should have been the one to be reassigned.

          1. Lab Boss*

            That, plus the fact that apparently Edward is having one-on-one talks with the owner, makes it sound like Edward is a golden child or knows the right people. That could mean he can bull his way into a position of actual authority, or it could just mean everyone treads lightly around him and works around his behavior rather than dealing with it. Neither is great.

          2. H3llifIknow*

            I think that adds an element to the overall picture here. CLEARLY there’s a reason she is NOT confronting him, if that’s her usual style. So, either there IS something going on the background that “everyone” knows except you, or your boss is a horrible manager, and from what you say that is out of character…

        1. KatieP*

          I read that as, “I will confront you as Wednesday,” and now have mental images of Wednesday Addams (from the recent Netflix series) dealing with this on OP’s behalf.

          It’s kinda awesome.

      2. Csethiro Ceredin*

        It’s so strange! If someone who didn’t report to me was doing this to someone who did, I’d be speaking to the liar’s boss immediately! And if that wasn’t viable, to them directly. He doesn’t need to be on the boss’ team for them to ask him what on earth he is doing.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        Not only should the manager be confronting Edward and putting him in his place, but she should ALSO be giving the heads up to Edward’s new manager about this situation – the new manager needs to be aware so they can decide if Edward’s judgement and interpersonal skills are up to the task for the new role, and if he’ll be a detriment to their team.

        Honestly, this sort of behaviour should disqualify Edward for anything but a demotion, if not a PIP.

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          The one thing it’s worth doing before condemning Edward is to make sure Edward and Owner weren’t talking past each other and some of this stemming from miscommunication. Like, Owner said something like “Yes, you should be a manager” in a way that meant “Yes, that is something you should strive for” and Edward heard instead “You are being a made a manager”. Especially with English being the Owner’s second language, I could see some small turn of phrase or idiom being taken the wrong way by Edward and Owner not realizing he needed to correct Edward’s assumption.

      4. The Original Poster*

        This is very frustrating as my VP is usually very straightforward. So I have reported this to her twice now and both times she said she would not confront him. I started writing her daily emails of his behavior so I would have a paper trail.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I’m hearing the buzzing of a lot of bees in this workplace, especially based on your comment below about what your owner said about dreams. None of this seems to make sense, and that concerns me a lot.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          That’s smart! If she’s both your boss and the only HR your company has, she needs to be the one to step up, and continually raising the issue might get her to take the path of least resistance and talk with him.

        3. H3llifIknow*

          Your boss sucks. Has she given any reasonable reason as to why? Like, “look there’s some stuff going on behind the scenes to put him on a PIP already,” or something? Or just “I’m not dealing with this!” If that’s the case, then you will have to negate him yourself everytime he says it. “Nope. Just talked to boss and she says that’s not true.” “Nope, we’re peers, Edwards.” “Nope. Just nope.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I don’t think it would be appropriate for the boss to tell OP that Edward was being put on a PIP (unless she needed to be directly involved), but you’re right that she should explain that the issue is being handled.

            1. H3llifIknow*

              Well, that was just an example “stuff going on in the background that you’re not privy to” etc.. Anything to reassure the OP that she is not being blown off, was the point.

        4. Hannah Lee*

          OP, I’m wondering if something’s going on with your VP … ie, is she in a weakened position for some reason? Because this seems like she’s having her scope of responsibility reduced. Especially because she didn’t seem to be fully in the loop about whatever reorgs might be happening with Edward, Owner & Edward are having side conversations without her that directly affect her organization. The fact that she’s not immediately getting clarification AND immediately pushing back is … concerning.

          And, my bias will show here, but the genders of everyone involved, a man 2 steps down from the top, who currently reports to a female VP, loudly and repeatedly asserting more authority than he has is one thing. The Big Boss promoting loud guy up and out from under female VP so he reports directly to Big Boss, with VP seeming to be not entirely in the loop about what Big Boss is planning or Big Boss being very unclear about what’s gone on, what’s going to go on, doing a weird ‘oh don’t worry about it we were just talking’ thing when about what he said to Loud Guy.

          All of that is making me very uneasy about VP’s prospects at this company, wondering if she’s being bypassed/marginalized. I would not be at all surprised if OP does wind up reporting to Edward within a few months, barring VP pushing back loudly and with the backing of peers on whatever Owner has planned.

          In any case, OP, do yourself a favor and start polishing up your resume, lining up references and looking elsewhere unless you want to parachute out before you wind up with Edward the Odd as your boss.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I wish there were a like button. That is how I am seeing this as well. Ed the Odd is going to be ruling over everyone soon.

            1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              And the Owner will be all shocked pikachu face when it turns out Edward the Odd is actually NOT the second coming and is just a blustering mediocre talent.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I was wondering if OP’s boss is also Edward’s boss – it sounds like no, and that Edward may report directly to the owner … if Edward has a manager, that person is the next one I’d be going to. Possibly even if it’s the owner I would want this out in the open, in email, in my own words, not going through third parties and phone calls.

    4. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Doesn’t even have to be aggressive, a 5 minute conversation between OP’s boss and Edward’s boss to nip this in the bud. It’s bizarre behavior on Ed’s part but also bizarre behavior on OP’s boss’s part to let this go on.

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        I think the owner is encouraging Ed. He wants to promote him. He is certainly not dissuading him or making sure he knows he is no one’s boss.

  3. Susannah*

    Does Edward have some other interest in you, LW? I do wonder if he’s trying to make you “look up” to him in some way…
    Or he’s seriously delusional, which is another problem entirely.

      1. Rainey*

        That was EXACTLY what I was wondering. It sounds like a weird power play with some creepy non work appropriate undertones. And I thought I was reading too much into it. SUPER creepy and gives me a mild case of the icks. Please LW escalate this!

    1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I also wonder this. Does he have a crush on OP? Is he in some way wanting to have more interaction with OP? It’s strange.

      1. Student*

        There’s a difference between having a crush and having a weird obsession. This is not a crush.

        A crush has the connotation that you want to spend more time together and make your crush happy. A crush is about romance and love and excitement and good feelings.

        This is weird obsession territory. A weird obsession is about possessiveness and power and control and subjugation. People doing this often try to use tropes about crushes to excuse and cover their completely-un-crush-like behavior, counting on the low standards we hold men to for anything involving feelings. Don’t help them do that!

        Think about it. Have YOU ever had a crush on someone and thought, “I’d really like to write that person’s performance reviews, control their salary and promotion opportunities, and set their work priorities,”? No, because that’s not what crushes are about. That’s what stalkers are about.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I was also like, “is there some nefarious reason he wants to have power over OP or make her believe he might??”

    3. can't think of a name*

      Why not both. Anyone who has that sort of interest in a coworker and goes about it by lying and trying to install themselves as their boss is very much delusional. Eww.

    4. redflagday701*

      Yup. Assuming you are female, OP, I feel like this is Edward’s own unique twist on negging.

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        I was just coming in to say the whole thing smells of rotten negg. Whatever Edward’s problem is, it’s turbo creepy.

    5. Csethiro Ceredin*

      I wondered this too. But that would make it HARDER for them to get involved, not easier. Then again he is behaving so strangely he may not be thinking like we would.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        My first thought was also a crush. Maybe it is clear she won’t ever reciprocate so this is his misguided way of showing that it can never happen anyway (rather than feeling rejected.)

        There is a weird negging vibe to the interactions. So creepy.

      2. redflagday701*

        It wouldn’t actually make it harder, though, because he’s not actually her boss. All of the creepy urge to have power over her, none of the responsibility!

        1. Petty_Boop*

          The OP has been involved in the comments, and so far I’ve seen NOTHING that she’s said that indicates a romantic interest was at play. Just a weirdly (probably insecure and/or misogynistic IF the OP is female) coworker.

    6. Siege*

      My 100% assumption is that OP is a woman and Edward a) has a crush and b) has VERY problematic ideas about who and how to approach with that info. The boss’s refusal to deal with it and the pending move to a completely different team almost comes off as “this guy is a problem for women and we need to get him out of a woman-managed department.”

      1. Rex Libris*

        One of my first thoughts was that it kind of sounded like grooming behavior to me. Edward is playing head games and seeing how easily the OP will allow him to assume some sort of authority over them. I’d stay far away, personally.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I have thought crush before with other AAM letters. I’m not getting that vibe in this one. Feels bit more like a power grab for more work responsibility / higher role than personal interest.

    8. The Original Poster*

      I’m not sure. We have a lot in common and had been friends for a few months. But I never got that vibe from him. I just don’t know. I have ADHD and sometimes have problems reading social cues.

      1. redflagday701*

        Well, good luck, and please, please, PLEASE share an update when you find out what the hell his deal is.

      2. Siege*

        If you have the sense Edward doesn’t mean you well (particularly given the conversation with your company’s owner) you’re reading social cues just fine. This is bizarre and I would not trust that this guy is your friend.

    9. S*

      I knew someone who had a situation where a manager in another department kept telling her he was her boss and was trying to get her officially moved to report to him (against her will). He was sexually harassing her, and it was part of his plot to control her and make it so she couldn’t get away from him. She later learned that he had a history of harassing female employees and had even groped one who worked there before her.

      1. Misty_Meaner*

        “…part of his plot to control her and make it so she couldn’t get away from him;”… so he was going to chain her in a dungeon so she couldn’t get away? That seems pretty … extreme. All she’d have had to is 1) report him to HR, 2) refuse to move to his team (also to HR) and/or 3) quit.

          1. Misty_Meaner*

            …and just because someone is doing something weird and obnoxious doesn’t mean they have a secret “plot” either.

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

      Or he feels intimidated by OP and this is his bizarre way of getting the higher ground.

  4. Abe Froman*

    Maybe just start saying that you are now his boss? He sounds delusional enough to just believe that.

    1. Ray B Purchase*

      It’s so sh*t stirry but I reallllly love this idea, especially when he won’t be on LW’s team much longer and it seems like this is something her actual boss has decided not to act much further on. Just call him up and be like “I just had the craziest conversation with the CEO of the company and they’ve offered me a COO position! I guess I’ll be *your* boss after all!!”

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Haha, this would be awesome!
      “I’m the new head of marketing”
      OP: “Well CEO just came by and said that I’m now the supreme overlord of marketing, so I’m your boss.”

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I’m getting strong Penelope vibes from this comment and I LOVE it. (Penelope being the Kristen Wiig character on SNL who compulsively lies to one-up herself over everyone she’s talking too.)

    3. Ex-prof*

      Oh yes. That would do nicely.

      Could set some gender dynamics boinging around like a pinball machine too.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I’m REALLY creeped out by Edward and would avoid him at all costs and ask to be moved away from him at work.

      I also get “OP is probably someone Edward is attracted to” vibes from this behavior, unfortunately :/

      1. The Original Poster*

        Thankfully we are all remote. So I don’t have to work with him directly. Only phone calls.

      2. Misty_Meaner*

        Where on earth do you get the “attracted to” vibes from? The OP made no indication of any flirtatious or romantic subtext that I picked up on. I don’t think we even know for certain that the OP is a female do we? Edward is an ass and either professionaly immature or a little divorced from reality, yes, but there’s no indication that he’s romantically invested in the colleague.

          1. Misty_Meaner*

            Which sounds asinine, obnoxious, potentially misogynistic. But if you assume “wants to dominate” = romantic interests… that’s a WEIRD perspective. Also quite a leap.

        1. Distracted Librarian*

          For me it’s more that he sounds weirdly obsessed with OP, which often means some kind of romantic/sexual attraction. That may or may not be the case here, but I’m getting big creeper vibes from Edward.

      3. Jess*

        Agree, I wouldn’t be surprised if he veers into “I’m your boss, you have to do what I say hehe” territory

  5. NameRequired*

    The options seem to be that either he is detached from reality and truly believes he is your boss even though nobody has put him in that position, or that this is a very odd (and badly done) power play. In either case, I think you should be professionally cool and interact with him as little as you can

    1. londonedit*

      Or he’s one of those who comes up with a joke he finds HILARIOUS and takes any and all opportunity to wheel out his HILARIOUS joke ad nauseam. In which case, I’d suggest the OP ignores him and keeps all communication about this between them and their boss, because Edward most likely loves and feeds off winding OP up and getting a reaction out of them. Edward is a dick.

      1. Boof*

        Money is on jerkish powerplay badly disguised as a “hilarious joke” if/when really called out on it. Kind of like the move of flirting but acting like it was a joke if rejected/confronted about inappropriate behavior.

        1. londonedit*

          Oh yeah. Odds are if Edward is spoken to about this, his response will be along the lines of ‘OMG I was JOKING, can’t OP take a JOKE, man they are just so SENSITIVE’.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          This is my guess. The good news is that it likely can be quashed by someone higher than him sitting on him about it. The bad news is that no one seems interested in doing this.

          1. learnedthehardway*

            Yeah, this is likely a version of “Shrodinger’s Asshole” – ie. he’ll claim he was joking when actually called on it.

            Someone needs to point out to Edward that the cat dies in that box.

      2. Ms. Elaneous*

        “If that is your comedy act, Eddie, it needs work. Go practice on someone else. I am not the beta tester for stand-up. Or stand-up wannabes. “

        1. Decima Dewey*

          “Edward, if this is a joke–and it better be–it wasn’t funny the first time. Knock it off.”

      3. Marna Nightingale*

        I am such a big fan of returning the awkward to sender with “jokes” like that. Especially in this situation where he just keeps doing it.

        You just sort of … cock your head like a Labrador who wants to know if that cheese might possibly perhaps be for her and keep asking them to explain what the joke is and why it’s funny.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          If they’re particularly obtuse, you combine that with an unblinking stare that indicates that you indeed have all day to stand there until they explain why it’s funny.

    2. ariel*

      Yeah, I would greyrock this guy, try to never speak to him again, and pretend he doesn’t exist. Definitely would not try to convince him he’s wrong – he’s either messing with you, lives in another realm, or is about to reign confusion down on your life, but either way: I’d ignore him until he’s my boss (and even then….)

      1. Gerry Keay*

        Yeah, giving a “sure, jan” and then moving on with your day is probably the best bet.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I guess I can think of one more, which is that Edward wants to make OP believe he might be her boss someday in order to make them more compliant in some future action. It’s not a terribly well thought out plan but then again, many plans are not.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Okay, maybe I can think of one more semi-plausible scenario, which is that the owner told Edward *something* and he willfully mis-heard it. Like the owner told Edward about his transfer and said something like “I got my start in sales – if you do a great job there you could end up running the company some day!” or “you’ve got a bright future here, I could see you as a program director” or something. And Edward just … ran with that waay too literally.

      1. Lab Boss*

        I thought of something similar, like Edward saying “I think I’ve got what it takes to run the department!” and the owner replying along the lines of “Yeah, you’ve been doing great!” and Edward thinking that meant “here’s your promotion” instead of “I agree you have potential”

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        But what if the owner really like Edward and has been discussing moving him up in the hierarchy because the owner things that Edward “has the stuff!” I’m wondering if that is what is happening. The owner told OP that they were discussing dreams. Who discusses dreams with their big boss? The whole thing pretty much stinks for OP and for OP’s boss who is so far out of the loop she needs to catch a bus to get in the right neighborhood. This is not good news.

    5. Lisa Simpson*

      I think poor power play, too. Sadly this attitude sometimes works, especially for men, and I would bet it worked at a previous job for him.

    1. JR*

      I was going to say, I just don’t see Edward picking out one man out of an office full of men to act like this toward. It really feels gendered to me.

      1. Willow Sunstar*

        Sadly, I have to agree. But I’d still try to get something in writing, like an email, to cover yourself if need be. Also print it out and lock up the hard c py if possible.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Totally agree. Edward probably wouldn’t pull this crap on another dude and/or think he can get away with it. I bet he has the hots for OP.

    2. HumanWoman*

      I was going to say this seems like it could be gendered bullying if OP is a woman. I had a similar situation (not as crazy, similar)

    3. ZSD*

      Interestingly, I had read the OP as being a man in this case. Like, they were work buds, and then Edward decide to demonstrate his alpha status.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I think that’s an entirely realistic scenario too. Either way, Edward is trying to pull a power move. He’s an idiot, and this will backfire on him, but he’s trying.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I’m not sure it backfires on him since the owner seems to be considering the possibilities.

      2. H3llifIknow*

        I did too, actually but then so many people leaped to “it’s a misogynist thing” or “it’s a romantic *ick* thing” that I thought I must have misread it!

  6. Boof*

    This is full of bees; no idea what’s going on with Edward, but why on earth is your boss “not confronting” him? That’s it’s own set of blaring sirens, flags, flashing lights, etc. Sorry you’re stuck in the middle of this LW; do you have a senior boss or HR you can contact about this? If not, just put your head down and try to job search :/

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Seriously this: Why is she tiptoeing around this dude? She’s just waiting and hoping it will resolve by accident if he gets moved, but it doesn’t seem sure that he will get moved and moving him doesn’t guarantee that he’ll stop jerking the OP around.

      1. Elle*

        The tiptoeing is what felt weird to me, too. If one of my direct reports came to me and told me this was happening, I would go to Confused Boss (Not) Guy and clarify things RIGHT QUICK.

        1. Sloanicota*

          At the very least, I’d get everything in writing, with OP, Edward, and the Owner all cc-d, so that my direct report doesn’t have any further confusion. That’s without even trying to get anyone “in trouble” or whatever.

          1. CanadianPublicServant*

            YES! One email chain so there is no confusion or plausible deniability! And if Edward then say “it was a joke,” welp, that joke is dead.

      2. NaoNao*

        I worked with someone a bit like this. It was more subtle–he’d give me basic instructions on how to do my job, hand out “here’s how to do [very simple, basic thing we all learned years ago]” papers, give me condescending advice, and so on. He even said things like “oh, I should introduce you to [colleague from a previous job, in another company] you’d do really well there” WTF?
        He would give hour long rambling lectures about how I should be doing my work anytime I asked him for help with stuff that overlapped his project, he would nitpick my work under the guise of “peer review” and on and on.

        It’s paralyzing when it happens because you are like “I can’t be hearing this right…I must be misunderstanding this…”

        I mentioned it tactfully/subtly to my own boss like “Is so and so in a senior role…?” and during a 90 day review I directly brought up examples of this weird behavior and she said “that’s weird, I don’t know why he’s doing that” in an annoyed tone.

        These people thrive on the knowledge that you won’t break the social contract, and that you want working relations to stay peaceful/polite, that your social role as a woman means that you’re socialized to be polite and not confrontational or competitive, and so on. And yep, I’m a woman.

        He successfully bullied and pushed me out of the role, while my boss looked on and let it happen. I was and am furious about it, but I suspect no amount of “standing up” to him would have changed it. He would have simply switched tactics.

        1. tg33*

          It sounds like the ‘standing up’ needed to escalate to ‘stop or we’ll fire you’ and on to firing…

        2. Petty_Boop*

          Your boss was an ass and completely in the wrong to let it continue. By doing nothing, she let the behavior continue. If she’d nipped it in the bud in the beginning, he’d have been put on notice. You are letting the boss off too easily in your circumstance!

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Yeah in these situations, unfortunately the boss has an outsized influence on the outcome. You did the right thing by telling the boss, but they just sat back and let it happen, which is terrible.

      3. Kes*

        I don’t understand why the boss hasn’t said anything to him and to be honest, I don’t understand why OP hasn’t said anything either. The first time I might have let slide but the second time I would have been like “no, I’m pretty sure Jane is my boss”. And when he said he talked to the owner… I definitely would say something to him, like “this isn’t true, please stop saying you are or are going to be my boss, it’s really weird honestly” and back off of talking to him as much in general

        1. The Original Poster*

          I have actually told him several times: I don’t think anyone’s mistaken you for my boss, sorry. Everyone knows VP is my boss. (You weirdo)

          1. Boof*

            you’ve done all you can; since odds seem extremely low that edward is, somehow, your boss or about to be your boss, and actual boss/HR is extremely nonconfrontational, feel free to call him out now? Depending on how much it annoys you either “nope! (move on)” “not funny; moving on” “it’s really weird you keep saying that” to a full diatribe about how obnoxious it; basically feel free to tell him to STFU however you see fit every time.

      1. The Original Poster*

        Yes, pretty small office. I am on the “marketing team” which is only a year old, consists of me, VP, Edward and another woman that splits her time between marketing and other tasks.

    2. Frodo*

      That was my first thought, too. Why isn’t the VP putting a full stop on this entire episode? It seems as though the company is full of red flags and secrecy.

    3. The Original Poster*

      I have indeed been looking for another job without much luck. My VP is HR. So that’s been a problem.

    4. Office Lobster DJ*

      Absolutely full of bees.

      “Is Edward my boss?” is a yes or no question.

      Unacceptable answers:
      “Don’t worry about it.”
      “Not really, but nobody tell him that.”

    1. ShwaMan*

      “You’re not my boss. If you were, I would have been informed, and there would have been an email announcement. So until that happens, we are colleagues.”

      Your boss and the owner should be doing more to stamp out this weird behaviour. Maybe it’s a bad “joke”; maybe it’s a power play; maybe it’s a delusion. Either way, you don’t have to tiptoe or play along.

      He is not your friend.

    2. The Original Poster*

      Yes, he does that!! He has started answering for me at meetings, volunteering me for things. We used to work as partners and now that’s all jacked up. I mean, he did that with his crazy behavior. Come to find out, another coworker also had a hard time with him, also a woman, who was trying to be in charge of a project except Edward kept dropping the ball and doing stuff like saying he completed a task and come to find out: he had not. Which I also experienced.

      1. Crocdilasaurus*

        Ooo, you need to go on the (professional) offensive with these. Assert your ownership of your work; interrupt him (cautiously) when he answers for you and say, “oh, I’ll go ahead and answer that myself “; Say you’ll have to double check with your boss for anything he volunteers you for in case she has other priorities—this is just to assert that you have a boss, and it is not him.
        Good luck!

        1. Speachless*

          YES! Interrupt him! Things like “oh I’m actually on the line, I can speak to that” or “sorry to interrupt, Edward, but that’s actually not the case.” Don’t sound angry (angry females!) but just matter of fact.

          Steamroll his ass.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            It may be worth it to shift your push back a bit on these calls.

            Interrupt to say “why are you jumping in to answer that Edward? We all know I’m responsible for llama grooming, so I’m going to take that one” Like, point out … with other people in earshot … that he’s crossed a line and that you don’t recognize his authority.

            1. Crocodilasaurus*

              That’s a really aggressive interruption, and it will reflect poorly on OP.

              Hannah Lee’s scripts are good.

      2. Green great dragon*

        OK, that’s a real issue. I think Alison’s final para may apply in that case, unless everyone in the meeting is well aware that he does *not* speak for you and sitting there with ‘Edward, What?’ expressions.

      3. JP*

        I have worked with people who tried to be self appointed coordinators / liaisons in place of doing the actual day to day nitty gritty work. Your coworker does seem to be taking it to the next level, though, if that is what he’s doing.

      4. mlem*

        “He has started answering for me at meetings, volunteering me for things.” You absolutely have to shut this down, in the moment, every time.

      5. MigraineMonth*

        This changes things! You cannot just gray-rock him if he’s professionally undermining you. Also, if he’s doing this to another female coworker, that’s pretty strong evidence that this is gender discrimination.

        First, I’d talk with your female coworker and agree to have each others’ backs when it comes to aggressively correcting the record. “That’s not true.” “You don’t speak for [coworker].” “Actually, [coworker] is the one who did that project, not you.”

        Then e-paper-trail it. Send an email to him after conversations with Edward: “just confirming that you will do [x] by deadline”; “you mentioned today that you completed [x], but I can’t find it, can you help me out?”; “You said previously that you completed [x]; why can’t you send it to me?”; (cc’ing manager) “Could you explain why you told me you completed [x] when you hadn’t started it yet?”

        Good luck, this guy needs to shoved back into his own lane.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          With the paper trail, I would probably also be cc’ing boss “just to fireproof job”…using the excuse as keeping her in the loop in case someone is out sick.

      6. Boof*

        Okay… he sounds like a standard sexist asshole now trying to boss all the women around him around without any actual standing or authority to do so. I think there’s a lot of advice out there how to deal with it but it will involve pushing back on it, not letting him interrupt you; maybe even calling out the pattern from time to time if it happens in a group “hey why do you keep talking over women?” (splutter splutter maybe some kind of denial) “great then as I was saying…”

      7. Ricama*

        Have you tried the Canadian way? Apologize for him. If he tries to volunteer you for something, look at him strangely and then say to the person with the task “I apologize for my colleague, I don’t know what’s gotten into him but I do not have time for this task.”

        If he tries to answer for you, give an incredulous “Edward what are you doing?” (first name is super important here) and then turn to the asker and say “I apologize for my colleague’s exuberance but to answer your question…”

        basically act super embarrassed any time he tries it.

  7. OneAngryAvacado*

    This is so weird! It really feels like he’s just committed to a dumbass joke and is doubling down as much as possible (the way he made a point of saying ‘Because I will be your boss’ feels more like a kid repeating what they think is a funny joke more than anything else); I feel like if anyone *was* going to be promoted to such a managerial role, they wouldn’t break the news in such a bizarrely childish way. But it’s not even a funny joke! I’ve no idea the context behind your relationship with Edward – whether this stems from him feeling threatened by your skills at work? if he’s just got a weird sense of humour? – but it’s still odd.

    It’s got to be frustrating, but I’d keep on reminding yourself that this is just a man with a stupid taste in jokes who thinks it’s funny to make up unfunny jokes that no-one else is entertained by. If it begins affecting your standing in company I’d definitely push your boss to do more about it; but otherwise on a day-to-day it might be reassuring to remember that everyone else probably finds this as tedious and immature as you do.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      People keep suggesting it’s a bad joke. It seems really weird to me if so. If I were the OP, I guess I would ask if it’s a joke. If the answer is, “Yes,” just tell him it’s not funny.

      But it feels more like a super weird attempt at a power grab. If Edward has some kind of outside relationship with the owner (family member or friend), I think that might explain why he hasn’t been spoken to as directly as he should have.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I think “joke” is the first guess people make when someone seems to be either compulsively lying or detached from reality. Like, the only reason I would say I was a coworker’s boss if I weren’t would be as a joke, so maybe that’s what he’s doing? It’s weird, but that’s the least weird explanation.

        Although as others have pointed out, this is very possibly a Shrodinger’s Joke, where if you confront them, they try to play it of as just a joke. All the power-play and bullying elements, none of the risk.

  8. kiki*

    he’s been made head of marketing
    he will be moved from his marketing position soon to another position within the sales team

    I’m wondering if this is a joke on Edward’s part that he doesn’t realize is being taken very seriously? Is Edward at all in a position where he could become the head of marketing? Because I could see myself calling a friend and joking about being made CEO or something but it would be understood that I’m definitely not becoming CEO anytime soon based on my current position, the fact I’m not qualified for that role, etc.

    Regardless, Edward does seem to have a weird obsession with having more power over LW. Even if Edward is trying to make jokes, it’s an odd position to put your coworker in.

    1. Saberise*

      Personally I would respond as if he’s joking. Like “Ha ha, right and I am the new governor of the state. Was thinking of running for president in the next election”

    2. The Original Poster*

      He is a marketing analyst. He’s great with numbers, uses Salesforce daily, etc. I am a writer and graphic designer that also does all our social media. My VP said that if anything, they’d put me over Edward to keep him on task but he is not management material.

      1. Myrin*

        “My VP said that if anything, they’d put me over Edward”
        Any chance he, on some level, knows that and that could be the reason he’s behaving so bizarrely? Not to become overly psychological or anything – in the end, what matters is that he stops, not why he does what he does – but I’ve definitely known people like that (not in a professional context, thankfully). They can tell that they’re floundering but think that if they simply behave like they’re not and like in fact they’re very successful, they can just magically make it true.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        If that’s true, I’m very concerned with the owner’s response when asked to clarify what’s going on. Because it wasn’t at all clear that the “promotion”/org change Edward was talking about isn’t actually happening. (that’s why I have a few comments assuming that he was being promoted away from your group)

  9. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

    This situation makes me think that LW is probably female, because this sounds like the kind of power play an insecure man would make if either (a) his ego was threatened by a female coworker’s competence, or (b) he was trying to preen and strut to impress her.

    If LW is male, it gets a little harder to figure out, but the type of man who does those things … doesn’t generally do them to other men.

    1. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      I think you’re entirely correct that doing this to a woman comes with an extra set of very gross connotations, but it’s frankly just as easy for a man to be a dick to another man — it would just be more in line with middle-school teasing than potential sexual harassment at that point. Either way, it very much needs to stop, but the sexual harassment angle comes with legal implications for the company that the alternative doesn’t.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Does it change the answer/action plan? I am literally working with a woman on a power trip the past few years (delegating her job to people not in her department, yelling at people for being left off of emails that only tangentially relate to her, refusing to do basic tasks) so I’m not sure calling out the genders helps, especially when everyone has been on the receiving end of her rude comments and emails? I worked at a company that was 70% female (medical supplies, didn’t expect it to skew to any particular gender but it did) and there were also the same “Ed” dynamics with a few people there, as well as some underperformers, and all of the typical sorts of people you don’t want to work with or for. Describing the genders wouldn’t have changed most of the advice you’d have given to us working there.

      1. Sloanicota*

        While not entirely gendered, I did start to worry OP should be prepared for some sort of romantic advance from Edward, and have a plan in mind. Less ominously, maybe he just wants to impress OP with what a powerful go-getter he is; more ominously, he may thing OP won’t push back if OP thinks their job could be on the line. It could happen whether OP is male or female although I’d say one version seems more common than the other.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          There are an awful lot of “that is gendered” comments in response to letters online, I just am not sure what people expect one to do with them? I work in a liberal organization and we outsource some HR functions to one of the largest companies out there, and if I was handling a dispute between employees and threw in language about it being “gendered,” they’d ask for concrete examples/impact or ask me to delete it. This would be a prime example of that probably happening because the “Ed” would be wrong if it was male-female, female-female, male-male, or female-male. It doesn’t change the answer. In fact, adding in any language about “gendered” something or other into an ADP dispute about this would probably make me look like I can’t differentiate between “regular” disputes and sexual harassment, and sort of fly in the face of the twice-annual trainings that lump together handling bullying/harassment/DEI/managing disputes in general where you’re not supposed to throw in protected classes unless it’s relevant. For example, I wouldn’t just throw in a “and she’d old” into the document because that would be weird and not help the dispute resolution process.

          1. Student*

            It means that whomever is investigating should, perhaps, dig deeper to see if there’s a pattern of this behavior, rather than an isolated incident. If there is a demonstrable pattern, and the pattern does show sexism, then you can up the infraction, possibly all the way to immediate fire-able offense due to the legal liability he’s creating, to get rid of this bozo faster.

            If there’s no pattern of sexism, then you go back to “this is wrong regardless of gender.” If there is a pattern, but not indicative of sexism, then you learned that you have a bigger problem than you thought and need to treat it with more urgency – perhaps including firing, perhaps not.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            @Prospect Gone Bad – I think the reason commenters mention situations being gendered so frequently is to offer support and solidarity in case the situation is sexual harassment or discrimination against women. I know that I’ve been trained by society to always give the benefit of the doubt unless it’s crystal clear that it’s discrimination, so it can be helpful to see that these patterns really are a form of discrimination.

            So I’ll think something like “maybe [male coworker] talks over everyone in meetings, and I only notice when he does it to me”, “[manager] is just passing along honest feedback when they say I’m abrasive”, or “[coworker] probably didn’t mean anything by calling that woman ‘uppity’.”

            We don’t have to win a court case here, we’re just saying “yep, that happens a lot, and it sounds like gender discrimination/sexual harassment/creepy male behavior to me.”

          3. Irish Teacher*

            I think what we need to do with them is to be aware. It’s easy to overlook stuff like that and to think, “oh, well, there are bossy people of all genders,” but when you do become aware you start to notice differences. Not just with genders, but with class, age, race, weight, etc.

            I think there are at least two reasons to be aware. The first is that it can be very validating for a person to realise that hey, this guy is condescening to all women or that older person is condescending to everybody younger them and it’s not that I’ve done something to give them the impression I don’t know my job; it’s simply that they are ridiculous and think only men/older people/whatever can do a job well.

            The other is that I do think as a manager, it should sometimes affect how you approach it. Not that you should “throw in language” about it being gendered, unless you have evidence to suggest that, but for example, if you are handling a dispute between a male employee and a female employee and you have reason to assume it is gendered, I would hope you would pay extra attention to how the guy is treating other female employees (or if say it’s a woman without children giving unsolicited advice to a man about bringing up his children and you get the impression that it’s because she thinks no man can be a good parent, it would be worth seeing if other fathers are being treated in the same way) whereas if you get the impression it’s a personal dislike of the specific person, you’d deal with it slightly differently.

            I also think in this case, it may make a difference in severity. I would find it far more concerning if this guy assumes he is going to be her boss because he cannot possibly be only on the same level as a woman than if he thinks this is just a joke between them. The latter warrants an eyeroll and telling him to knock it off. The former would make me doubt whether he can work efficiently with women.

            Yeah, Edward is wrong, regardless of the dynamics but I do think that it’s a bit of a different picture if he thinks he is definitely going to be promoted because he’s a man and the VP is a woman and clearly as a man, he deserves at least her level of authority than if it’s more an “act like an authority and everybody will treat me as I am; yay, I’m so clever” typed situation. Both are wrong, but I suspect the latter would be easier to shut down.

            You’re probably seeing it more online because we can discuss it here without needing the kind of evidence to back it up that you would when handling a dispute. That’s a good thing. It needs to be discussed and people need to gain awareness and people can do it online without needing the level of proof they would if they were actually in a position of power in the situation.

          4. Sloanicota*

            It’s so disheartening to read comments like this, as if there is no gender context at all to certain patterns of behavior. What that really does is make sure that, when rather predictable things happen, the victim has to explain everything as if it’s never happened before, in effect giving the perpetrator a fresh, clean start lacking all social context. I’m vividly reminded of the recent post where a trans person shared their experiences of suddenly being believed, respected, no longer talked over after their transition. Without a gender lens, it’s much more difficult to explain their pre-transition experience in a way that doesn’t come off sounding unreasonable. And here’s the OP’s update of her experience with this coworker: and – nothing gendered there at all, right? Just a civil disagreement between two coworkers on a completely even playing field.

        2. Misty_Meaner*

          The OP made no mention that there’s ANY indication that Edward is interested in him/her or any type of flirtation occurring. This seems like such a weird leap to me. Edward is just… either woefully socially and professionally immature that he thinks this is a funny “joke” or he’s an asshat with an insecurity problem. I think the OP would’ve mentioned it if he/she thought there was a romantic subtext.

    3. The Original Poster*

      I am under a woman. And I’m older than him by about 7 years, have more experience in marketing than he does too.

  10. Jessica*

    I guess maybe it depends on the tone–does Edward come across like he’s actually intending people to believe his lies, or more like someone running an unfunny joke into the ground?–but either way, I think management should be taking this conduct a LOT more seriously. I was surprised Alison’s advice wasn’t stronger, but I guess she can only advise the person who wrote in and that’s not the person who could really fix this.

  11. Looper*

    I don’t know the size/hierarchy of this company, but is it possible to email the guy Edward is saying promoted him, cc Edward and your boss, and ask for clarification? Or can you go to your boss and specifically lay out what actions you hope they will take as she either doesn’t seem to understand what’s happening or how it is affecting you?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      This is where I fall. I would very much want something in writing, like an email to my boss and Edward’s boss, kind of playing dumb. “Hi there, I was informed by Edward today that he’s now my manager. I’d love a revised org chart or some other documentation reflecting the change in departmental structure, if possible, please.” And then watch Edward’s boss be [pikachu face] and Edward try to say, oh no no that was all a joke!

        1. pally*

          That, or wait for the management responses and email all of it to Edward. Along with, “Hmm, guess not.”

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Definitely copy Edward, OP’s own boss, and probably the owner too. It’s very confusing, but surely if we get everyone involved in the same email thread we can get this miscommunication sorted out.

          *angel halo*

    2. I'm fabulous!*

      I was thinking of this too. An email provides a record of his behavior to OP and protects OP from any future misunderstandings or errors made resulting from Edward’s comments. His behavior is uber-creepy.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      If OP had done this before talking to her manager, I would have totally agreed. Now that she HAS talked to her manager, though, it might open a can of worms with that person.

      Mind you, it’s a can that might need to be opened… since her own manager isn’t doing anything about it.

    4. Ally McBeal*

      +1, if this is a viable option for OP I think they should do this. Or you could ask HR the same question since they’re usually the ones tweaking and distributing the org charts.

  12. idwtpaun*

    It is really bizarre that, as far as you know, no one in the company (specifically, Edward’s manager) is doing anything about this. What Edward is doing may be exceedingly strange, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be reprimanded about this! He lied to a coworker about being made their manager! Repeatedly! He called you *at home to lie to you about this*!

    Edward may not be your problem soon when he moves to another team, but there’s something very, very off with the way your manager (at least) and your company (at worst) are handling this.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It is really bizarre that, as far as you know, no one in the company (specifically, Edward’s manager) is doing anything about this. What Edward is doing may be exceedingly strange, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be reprimanded about this! He lied to a coworker about being made their manager! Repeatedly! He called you *at home to lie to you about this*!

      My fanfic is that Edward is on a PIP and going out in a Blaze of craZy.

      1. Babanon5*

        I think this makes the most sense. OPs manager can’t tell him about the PIP and is handling it poorly.

  13. A Business of Ferrets*

    Why is this man so desperate to have power over OP? Assuming OP is a woman, I’d be concerned that he’s trying to get into a position to force OP to date him or force some other type of boundary-crossing relationship.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Eh, if you wanted to pressure someone to date you, you’d do the exact opposite, though? You’d try to be on the same projects as the person but not in management over them.

      1. T'Cael Zaanidor Kilyle*

        Something I discovered working with college students not long ago is that there is a subset of young men who have a weird fondness for the Mad Men ethos. This was during the heyday of “How I Met Your Mother” (when you could hardly turn on any cable channel without catching a rerun), and many of them also had a certain amount of hero worship for the Barney Stinson character.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        … you know that’s a thing that absolutely happens in the workplace, right? Sexual harassment isn’t a solved issue. There are many very good reasons one should never have a romantic or sexual relationship with a subordinate.

  14. H.Regalis*

    Super. Weird.

    If OP is a woman, then I would assume Edward is doing this for sexist/misogynistic reasons, which is shitty, but not losing-touch-with-reality weird. Either way, Edward is not someone to be friends with.

  15. BradC*

    That’s… a pretty mild response to pretty bizarre and concerning behavior. You can’t reason with someone who’s proven themselves to be unreasonable.

    I’d be more inclined to tell him he’s full of shit, immediately block his number on your phone, and report him to HR.

    But I don’t have an award-winning advice column, so perhaps that’s not the best idea.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I was thinking calmly respond, “what an odd thing to say,” with a look of confusion/condescention and then walk away. I mean, I wouldn’t really do either and I doubt I could pull them off but it’s amusing to think about.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      Add the Malcolm in the Middle theme song (You’re not the boss of me ..)
      to your phone and just hit play whenever he starts up

      1. Grey Coder*

        Variations: “Hahahahaha! I’ll believe that when I hear it from Actual Boss.”

        “Hahahahaha! I’ll believe that when I hear it from Actual Boss, you swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood.”

  16. Forty Years In the Hole*

    If he’s making juvenile assertions, then my mind just goes to retorting: “you’re not the boss of me!”

  17. Dust Bunny*

    I honestly cannot tell what is going on here: If this is a bad joke that Edward doesn’t realize has gone too far, or if he’s trying to usurp power, or what, but, OP, you need to go back to your actual boss and insist that she step in, or that someone step in. I know she’s busy but this is interfering with your job and she needs to make it a bigger priority, and if she doesn’t, then you’ve learned something unfortunate about her as a manager/possibly as a person.

    I don’t know why you’re concerned about “confronting” Edward. This is confront-able. It’s entirely reasonable to tell him that you’ve asked about this and that, according to everyone above you, he is, in fact, not your boss. Right now, I think the simplest explanation for why he’s doing it is because he can–nobody has brought any real consequences down on him yet. He gets the buzz of messing with your head without having it cost him anything.

    For the record: If I pulled this on a coworker I’d get a serious talking-to, if not fired, so you might take stock of how functional/not-functional your workplace is in general, and take that into longer-term consideration.

    1. Not Bob*

      “you need to go back to your actual boss and insist that she step in, or that someone step in”

      Do that in writing, to create a paper trail.

    2. Coffee Break*

      This is so bizarre that I suspect the manager can’t act for a reason she can’t disclose to the OP, so there may be some kind of internal political struggle going on at board or VP level. I’m not sure what that might be, except that perhaps Edward is related to someone on the board or a VP and is angling for a promotion by nepotism. The manager might be afraid to rock the boat if she wants to keep her job. I also suspect Edward is extremely young and inexperienced, and is one of those people who thinks confidence is equivalent to truth. I work with a guy like that and he is incredibly frustrating on a professional level since this attitude prevents him from knowing when he might (justifiably) have a gap in his knowledge,

      1. The Original Poster*

        He is 39, I am 46. He’s certainly old enough to know not to lie! And he has admitted there are certain things I know how to do that he does not. So I don’t know what his problem is. Smh.

        1. The Original Poster*

          Oh, he’s also not related to anyone however, the owner loves statistics so even though Edward is not the cause of good stats, he is still the one reporting them to the owner. He loves to hear what Edward has to say. I think it’s just favoritism. In general. And that happens a lot in this company. Unfortunately I am not anyone’s favorite!

          1. Hannah Lee*

            How about your boss/VP … where are they on the owner’s list of favorites?

            Because I’m wondering if she’s not pushing back because she knows she doesn’t have the capital to.

          2. e271828*

            Hm…. OP, I think you should polish your resume and do a few rounds of marketing of You.

            And if your VP boss can hand the direct-reporting-to-her-boss of happy news off to you, that would be good. Very good.

  18. lost academic*

    I see two things here – one, this Edward is really really out there and consistently making up things out of whole cloth and no one seems to have control of HIM and it’s time to show him the door. Period. But the second… is that the organization is playing a poorly organized game of management telephone and someone somewhere told Edward just enough that allowed him to twist it into the things he thinks/says/does. Still super bad on Edward but it spells a much greater problem for the future in this organization and it’s worth getting ready to bail. I see enough responses from OP’s management line that I don’t THINK that’s what’s going on but it’s still a possibility and for all we know this will end up like that episode on the Office where Nellie just asserts a management position and the upper level disfunction plus vacuum allows it to continue.

    1. Mill Miker*

      Yeah, this was giving me flashbacks to an old boss of mine who would tell different people they were in charge of the same things, and then refuse to clarify who was actually in charge outside of one-on-ones (the contents of which were not to leave that meeting). Trying to keep everyone happy by telling them what they want to hear, but really making a mess of everything.

    2. WellRed*

      I think this is far more likely than a weird joke or some sort of crush??? On the OP as many comments are suggesting. And I’m appalled at OPs boss.

      1. Ermintrude (She/her)*

        I think Edward is being a chaos goblin and his manager (also perhaps OP’s) are enabling him by not. putting feet down about him.

  19. Unkempt Flatware*

    I’d honestly have so much fun deliberately undermining his self-proclaimed status. Arrange for an afternoon off and don’t tell him or answer his questions about your whereabouts. “My boss is aware” is the only answer he would get. Tell him he needs to run things by your boss as often as possible.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    I suspect Edward is one of those people who likes to say “I grew up in Iowa!” when actually he grew up in Missouri but–get this!!!–people will think he grew up in Iowa when he says that! He’s fooling them! They are punked!

    So yeah, I suspect this is all a joke to get you to react, with no actions from any managers to make him anyone’s boss–he just likes to poke you in this spot. I would dial way back on the friendship, letting “I can’t believe anything you say” have its natural consequences.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      My HS boyfriend. His name was Lance. He told me it was short for Lancelot because his mom was into King Arthur. It was just Lance. He told me he was born in Connecticut. He was born in Florida, where we were. No point to it, he just liked to lie for kicks.

    2. Myrin*

      Yeah, that’s the impression I got as well.
      I was immediately reminded of a past OP’s boss who would make up all kinds of strange lies about her direct reports – like that someone was in the military or someone didn’t actually have heterochromia – for seemingly no reason beyond that she can.
      Especially the fact that Edward hasn’t actually done anything with his boss-dom – like doing performance evaluations or ordering OP to do something – beyond talking about it makes me quite inclined to think that, like you say, he thinks he’s an oh-so-funny trickster who – wow!!! – fooled someone into thinking something.

  21. Critical Rolls*

    OP, forgive me if you’ve already done this, but have you asked if he’s joking? Like, “Hey, you keep saying this off the wall stuff and I’m trying to figure out if you’re joking.” Then if he says of course he was joking, you can tell him he sounded delusional and needs to knock it the hell off. And if he insists he’s not joking… well, at least your boss agrees he’s lost the thread. I’m not clear from the letter if she is also Edward’s boss, but if she is there’s no excuse for her not shutting this down. Has anyone warned the sales team???

  22. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    On top of Alison’s recommendations, I’d say this is a great time to gray rock Edward: never initiate conversations, only reply to questions with necessary information, and generally be a very boring target so he looks elsewhere for . . . whatever it is he’s getting out of this.

  23. Single Parent Barbie*

    IS there an HR system that shows hierarchy – like ADP? At my old company, my boss’ boss left. Then my boss was fired. Then we were assigned an acting boss who left 2 weeks later. I was pretty much checking that thing once a week to see who I reported to for the moment.

    Some people just like the idea of being in charge/having a title. Had a coworker proclaim herself acting manager when her manager was out for a few weeks. Meanwhile, she couldn’t even manage herself. It was on her email, linkedin etc. Then she herself went out on medical, came back gave notice and surprise! her linkedin now stated she had been manager (no acting) for a year and a half. She then leveraged that into a new job as an actual manager.

    Maybe he is saying it enough so somebody believes it and then he will fudge things in order to get a new job elsewhere

    1. Maxine*

      Yeah, it feels a bit like that “dress as the job you want” and he acts like the job he wants..?

  24. Monkey Princess*

    I treat Alison’s advice as gold, but I have to disagree here. I would not communicate with him AT ALL except in writing, if you can help it.

    If, in person, he again tells you that he’s your boss, cooly say “Thank you for letting me know. Could you please send me an email with more details about your new role? I’m busy now, but I will read it later.” If he calls you again, don’t answer it, and let it go to messages.

    It reads as extra suspicious that he didn’t text you back, he called you. Like he knows not to leave a paper trail. Make him leave one, or stop communicating at all. And stay far, far away from him. This is a bizarre power play where he is outright threatening you (that phone call was absolutely a threat that you need to bow to him), and I feel like the OP’s manager sees that even more than OP does, hence saying that he will be moved away from OP so they never work together again. I wonder if he said vaguely creepy and threatening things about you to her.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      I think you’ve really leaped to conclusions here. It’s annoying and bewildering, but I don’t get anything “threatening” from it and there’s ZERO indication from the OP that she got “creepy and threatening” vibes when she talked to the boss. More … dismissive than anything.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        The way to handle that is to respond to all phone calls with an e-mail with a recap. “Dear Edward the Overly Ambitious, Per our conversation at ____ today, you informed me that…____. Please confirm.”

        CC your manager.

  25. Nicki Name*

    LW, your ADHD has nothing to do with it. This kind of thing would make anyone feel like they were going to burst!

    1. The Username Lost to Time*

      Yeah, this would be frustrating, confusing, annoying, etc. for anyone to deal with. I wondered how ADHD could lead to LW not being able to perform their duties in this situation and it’s prompted me to dive into some “ADHD in the workplace” resources.

    2. Danish*

      As a fellow adhd, that comment makes sense to me. I spend a lot of time having people tell me about things I did or said that I do not remember at all. Spend a lot of time wondering if my (good, trusted) friends are all gaslighting me. I can see this being extra frustrating for OP because eit makes her question her known reality.

      1. 1LFTW*

        Yes, this!

        My ex was brilliant at exploiting my vulnerability to gaslighting in certain arenas, to the point where (to make a VERY long story short) I wasn’t able to get him to finalize the divorce until I started to use email – and only email – to communicate with him. OP mentions that Edward only makes his bizarre claims in person or via phone call (when she’s at home after work, no less!) but never via text, chat, or email. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s giving himself that plausible deniability.

        OP, if you’re still reading, try to find a way to confirm his place in the org chart in writing, whether that’s email or messenger or group text. It will be much better for your peace of mind.

    1. MicroManagered*

      I thought that too… I wonder if Edward thinks this is their running joke and doesn’t realize OP isn’t finding it funny.

      I had a kinda-similar running joke with a coworker once but it went BOTH ways. We weren’t interested in each other, it wasn’t a bizarre Dwight Shrute plot to usurp control of the company, there was no ulterior motive, no flirtation, etc. It was just a stupid thing we said to each other, but part of the joke was acting like it was dead-ass serious.

  26. Eulerian*

    If he replied to your message by calling you, that sounds like he’s avoiding putting it in writing.

    Oh and get used to saying “no it’s not a joke, you’ve never once said it as a joke” since that’s almost certainly going to be his (gaslighty) response.

  27. Lacey*

    This is really weird. Both the guy declaring it and your boss just kinda waiting till he’s moved so it resolves itself.

    If he says something about it again, perhaps I’d sound mildly quizzical and say, “That’s funny, nothing’s been announced.”

  28. Ms. Elaneous*

    Oh this comes under the
    “yeah, nice try Eddie. Bigger men than you have tried that scam and failed” solution.

    augmented by:
    “poor little Eddie”
    “Bless your heart” (if southern).

    Ms Elaneous

  29. CMBG*

    Would it be possible to request a three-minute meeting (in person if possible, or via Zoom) with the writer, Edward, the writer’s real boss, and the owner to review the hierarchy, so everybody hears the same thing at the same time? Record it, write it down, distribute.

    1. Heidi*

      There may be some risk to getting too many bosses involved in this. I could imagine this happening:

      OP: I wanted everyone to meet so I can prove that Boss is my boss and not Edward. Is that correct?
      Owner: Uh…yeah?
      Edward: Everyone knows that, OP. You made everyone meet in person for this?
      OP: You kept telling me that you were my boss.
      Edward: I’m astounded that you believed it. It’s so obviously not true.

  30. TheLoaf*

    Stay far away from Edward. He is not your friend, he’s pulling a bizarre power move and you need to avoid him as much as you can without losing your job. Trust your gut when it says he’s a weirdo.

  31. MCMonkeyBean*

    This is so weird, I thought from the headline it was going to be about him misrepresenting their relationship to *other* people not to OP who can and obviously would very easily verify.

    I think personally I would probably go the route of pretending he is obviously just mistaken. “I think you may have misunderstood. Jane is my boss and I have confirmed that is still the case and is expected to be the case going forward.” And then change the subject. And then just ignore any further comments he makes about the hierarchy/pull back significantly on that relationship and be talking to him much less overall.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Honestly this would still be the correct way to proceed even if what Edward says is factually correct! Until you get verified confirmation from your own supervisor and the chain of command, you do not report to Edward and are not planning to. Not your problem.

  32. Shieldmaiden793*

    It sounds like this guy has cracked. He’s “being moved”, what, like Milton in Office Space? And he doesn’t know what his real role is? Or does he think his new position is over the LW and he’s deeply mistaken?

    Either way the CEO needs to sit Edward down and have him knock this off, and LW needs to cut ties with someone who is either delusional, has a warped sense of humor, or is playing weird political games.

  33. BRR*

    Something sort of similar happened to me and it was my “Edward” trying to make a power grab. He had wanted a promotion for years and thought that if he just pretended to be my boss, he would turn his fantasy into reality (it was like on The Office when Pam just starts saying she’s the office administrator). You need to have some kind of communication with Edward and a third person with more authority than him. I’m not sure why your boss isn’t addressing it but she needs to handle this.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I will say it’s pretty danged common, unfortunately, for co-workers to start *acting* like they’re you’re boss (delegating work to you, setting up oversight meetings, reviewing your work) – particularly if they have seniority but not a higher title. This can definitely be an effort to be perceived as having leadership over you in the hopes of being promoted, and it’s really annoying. But straight-up **lying** by saying the owner is going to promote you when apparently they haven’t said that, is really weird and beyond the pale.

  34. NaoNao*

    I don’t necessarily agree with this take, (the “he’s trying to date her” take) but two things:

    Woman dating her boss is a major cultural trope for good reason

    It’s a short line between “I’m the boss now” and “I’m the boss and you have to do what I say or else…” classic quid pro quo style harassment.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      I 100% read “I’m the boss now…” in the voice of the Somali pirate in Capt. Phillips saying, “I’m de captain now” in my head.

  35. Nalgene*

    If he tries again, could you laugh it off, like, “Hahaha, wouldn’t that be funny! I could never work for you, that’s a crazy thought! If you ever became my boss, I would probably QUIT! Hahaha, good one!”

  36. CzechMate*

    I had a coworker like this once. Every time he tried to tell me anything, I would immediately rope in the managers above me. ex.

    Coworker: “Hey CzechMate, you need to do this.”
    Me: “Really? I didn’t hear anything about that from [Manager]. Let’s go clarify with her.”

    Coworker: “You’re not supposed to do that that way.”
    Me: “That’s odd, [Manager] said I should. Let me send her a message really quick.”

    He was eventually fired.

    1. Melissa*

      Yes, for sure. “Oh, did I misunderstand from Boss? Let’s go ask her, together, right now.”

    2. Ama*

      I never understand people who think that they can claim something that’s clearly wrong as if people won’t check with others to verify. I had a former job where I was in charge of reimbursements to staff and we had one person who would go to either me or our budget manager and claim the other person said she could get reimbursement for something clearly not allowed under our policies — as if we wouldn’t either check with each other or say “huh that doesn’t sound right, let me talk to her because she shouldn’t have told you yes.”

      She was on a time-limited contract and by the end of her time, the moment she left either of our desks we’d call the other and say “heads up, I just told Jane she couldn’t get reimbursement for X she’s probably coming to claim I said she could.”

      1. CzechMate*

        Yeah, with my coworker this inadvertently turned into a very strong, well-documented case for why he should no longer be with the company. You could match the time stamps from the messages I’d sent to my manager saying, “Fergus wants me to do x, but that’s not protocol” with actions being taken by him in the official database that directly contradicted a) what our manager said, b) what company policy said, and c) what was permitted by the government. When our direct manager confronted him with the evidence, he just yelled, “YOU’RE FAKE!”

  37. Grumpus*

    This is all very bizarre behavior from the company. I’m not a business owner, but if I were and I got a call one evening from one of my VPs with this story, Edward would be fired the very next minute. OP: Edward is not your friend.

  38. Anecdata*

    Ahhh, I also have a guy who’s started doing this – it makes me feel way less crazy to realize there’s other folks at other offices doing the same! It absolutely feels like a power play

    (except my boss thinks it’s so obvious that I don’t and will never report to this guy that it’s not worth addressing)

    1. H3llifIknow*

      Your boss is wrong. Failure to correct a misconception or outright falsehood like this adds fuel to the “where’s there’s smoke so maybe there’s a fire here” mindset and people could start believing it. Worse the guy could (maybe already DOES) believe it himself. Your boss is either lazy or too non-confrontational to be a good manager!

      1. TootsNYC*

        >>people could start believing it.

        Yeah, the perception of other people in the office is important.
        Could you directly ask him to clarify for everyone? and maybe even speak directly to this person?

    2. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      “Tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

      this is the definition of the “Big lie” which appeared in Main Kampf.

      It very much needs addressing and your boss is SO wrong to not to nip this in the bud.

      and now that I’ve triggered Godwin’s Law, I’ll sign off.

  39. Melissa*

    One thing that has really amazed me as I’ve been an adult and had real jobs is how much bizarre and unacceptable stuff just gets… tolerated. At a recent job, I had a co-worker who, when given direct orders by our supervisors (we are nurses, so I’m talking about medical orders from doctors), would just say “No.” Like… no explanation, just refuse to do her job. At all. And it happened a lot. And higher-ups would go, “Yeah, Susie’s the worst…anyway, can you just go do it?”

    Similarly, a different employee violated all the safety codes (e.g., long acrylic fingernails, which is an infection risk), and when her bosses told her to comply with the rules, she just rolled her eyes, ignored them, and just carried on. For years. As a child, I thought the world made more sense than this!

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      In school we talked about how unrealistic our group projects were — in the real world, we believed, there would be a power structure that would define roles, codify leadership, and ensure people actually did their part. There’d be recourse and ways to escalate that one person on the team who derails everything and doesn’t do anything. Lol.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        To be less cynical…many workplaces and managers are effective! You don’t always need hierarchy to motivate people. But dysfunction can also be common and mystifying.

      2. AnonToday*

        I hated grad school group projects even more than work group projects. However. Sometimes the person who doesn’t do anything at work keeps not doing anything for years and basically obstructs you from doing half your job. (yes, this happened to me. I suspect they were finally encouraged to leave but IDK.)

    2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      I can address this to some extent. Nursing is different from many jobs in that they serve as an additional line of defense for medical errors. They are expected to question doctors’ orders that might be problematic. Since you are also a nurse you know this, so I suspect you are talking about non-medical issues and things that shouldn’t be questioned. Sadly, the reason for this is that there is still a critical shortage of nurses in many areas and employers are having to tolerate minor misbehavior that would never be allowed if they could be assured of high-quality replacements. As a side note, my sister was an ICU nurse in one of the early hotspots during the height of Covid and was disgusted by fellow nurses not following standard aseptic procedures. She would have loved to have seen them fired but they simply could not be spared.

      1. Melissa*

        Oh, I’m definitely not talking about questioning orders. I’m talking about— “Hey Susie, please go grab a blood pressure on Ms Smith.” “No.” “Uh okay, I guess I’ll find another nurse to do it…”

    3. Captain Vegetable ( Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      In addition to Mortification Week, there could be People Inexplicably Allowed to Get away with S%@! Week. Like the guy at a former workplace who was hired to do two tasks, but decided he was only going to do one of them… and was kept on. WTF?

  40. Yes And*

    Many years ago, I had a job where I had a senior title, and I was answerable to the Executive Director for the work of a tribe of junior associates, but technically we all reported to the ED and I had no actual authority over the people I was supposed to be responsible for. It was awkward and frustrating and contributed to that job being my shortest tenure of my professional life.

    I’m not remotely suggesting that that’s what’s going on here, nor that Edward’s behavior would be appropriate if it were. I’d just be very curious to hear Edward’s side of this story.

  41. DrSalty*

    Is there a point where you should start talking to Edward’s boss about this? Genuinely curious. It’s good your boss has your back but it seems like she is not getting him to stop.

        1. The Original Poster*

          That is correct. She has told me she feels sorry for him b/c of some personal stuff going on in his life.

          1. blood orange*

            This is wildly irresponsible and negligent of your boss. Not only is Edward causing work problems and undermining you, he is *repeatedly lying*.

            I don’t like to say this without full context; maybe there are great things that would be good reasons to stay. But with what you’ve described here, this does not sound like a workplace that you should stay in. You have a CEO who actively favors women over men, and a direct manager who refuses to address serious work problems. Just one of those would be pretty unworkable!

          2. 1LFTW*

            Um. This is a very *terrible* reason for your boss not to intervene with Edward.

            Edward is not coming in unusually late, or dropping a ball here or there in a low-priority situation. He is lying, deliberately, about his job title and his authority. By allowing Edward to manipulate her into “feeling sorry for him”, she is utterly failing to do her job.

            I’m sorry you’re being put through this, OP. Your workplace is full of bees.

          3. Bibliothecarial*

            I don’t think Edward is your primary problem. You have two bosses who don’t manage and think empathy and coddling are the same thing. They could be kind toward him in his personal circumstances without sacrificing your well-being at work.

          4. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Ooo, the “personal stuff” might be the real key here.

            If the Owner likes the guy, your boss, the VP, might be getting told to cut Edward slack–slack that she does not want to give him, but she has been told to give him. If she is generally a good boss, she knows it would be not be particularly professional to tell you point blank that the Owner said to treat Edward with kid gloves, or to disclose Edward’s personal issues. So she is taking the path of “Why push back on this and spend capital with the Owner when Edward is getting bounced from my line of report anyway?”

            Also it could explain why the Owner isn’t shutting this down or making it clear, he doesn’t want to hurt Edward’s feelings. Like, Owner and VP know Edward won’t REALLY be in charge of things, why not let him feel like he might be? Like letting a toddler play with the unplugged game console controller so they can pretend they are the one playing. And the Owner might be thinking “Well, I KNOW Edward WOULD be killing this job if it wasn’t for *problems*, so I don’t want anyone to crush his poor little spirit with things like criticism or shutting down his ambition”

  42. The Ginger Ginger*

    This is bizarre, but also potentially super CREEPY. I don’t know if there’s weird gendered stereotypes happening here or what. I mean, is he trying to get power over YOU, or is he just trying to get power generally and this seems like a possible path – both bizarre, but the first is also super gross.

  43. Tribbles*

    What if, this is another one of those “secret relative” deals, where Edward is going to get promoted and VP doesn’t know a thing?
    It would not shock or, surprise me.

  44. H3llifIknow*

    The “real boss” should have nipped this in the bud the FIRST time the LW mentioned it to her. This “I’m not going to say anything because soon XYZ will happen” is dodging her responsibilities as a good manager. The co-worker clearly has a problem and she needs to fix it…NOW.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I mean, maybe I’d ask to be emailed a screen grab of the text convo, so I know I’m not being played, but…

      1. TootsNYC*

        but even without that, or without wanting to directly address Edward, a boss would say, “In our weekly staff meeting, I want to be sure everyone knows the lines of authority and reporting: OP reports to me, Edward reports to X, Wakeen reports to Jane. These assignments are not changing anytime soon, and there are no plans to reassign. Should something come up in the future, you will definitley hear about any changes directly from your supervisor.”

    2. NeedRain*

      I wonder if LW’s boss has addressed it with Edward’s boss and if they did anything. I think it would be easy for Edward to dismiss a boss that’s not his considering his light tether on reality.

    3. The Original Poster*

      Thank you!! And I feel totally blown off. My VP even made a comment that Edward not complete if his work was a “real” problem. Thanks. Smh.

      1. The Original Poster*

        Wow that was garbled. “…that Edward not completing his work was a real problem.”

  45. HR Exec Popping In*

    So this guy is not your friend. At best he is playing a stupid joke on you. At worst he is using power plays and trying to intimidate you. Neither is great. I recommend ignoring him and if he continues with the comments respond with something along the lines of, “please stop saying you are my boss as I’ve confirmed with VP that you are in fact not my boss.”

  46. Keymaster of Gozer*

    This is REALLY strange behavior – I’m wondering if he’s one of those guys who believes that if he says something often enough it’ll become reality, like positive thinking gone horribly wrong.

    Or he’s a creep. One of the two.

    He so desperately wants to control you that he’ll say over and over again that he’s your boss, even when reality is not agreeing with him. He’s not operating on logic so I doubt logic will get him back out of this thinking.

    I’d definitely step back from this guy like whoa. He’s shown that at best he’s not to be trusted and lies constantly and at worst that he’s got a very warped view of the world.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Having read a load of the OP’s comments here I’d like to modify this to ‘he doesn’t respect women/anyone who isn’t the CEO’.

      Same advice applies though: he is NOT your friend. He’s a jerk.

  47. Ama*

    OK so when I read the title I thought this was going to be like a situation I was in at a former job where I had a coworker who had budgetary approval for several tasks I worked on and thought that gave her the authority to tell me how to do those tasks. I ended up having to ask our mutual boss to intervene after she would not drop a particular thing she thought I was doing wrong and said “it’s my job to manage you on this task,” but she did not *literally* think she was my manager.

    But this is just weird — Edward is being very very strange here. Honestly I do think your boss should step up and tell him (or tell *his* boss to tell him) to knock it off — and I do wonder if no one has actually told Edward directly “stop saying that to OP.”

  48. Never Surprised*

    One must learn to dismiss ridiculousness. There should be absolutely no question about who you report to, for heaven’s sake! Isn’t there an org chart somewhere? I would be tempted to tell the jerk to shut up, but grey rocking is better. Don’t waste energy on this loser. Your actual boss is avoidant and kinda a loser too. Something bothering you this much and wasting energy should be handled. Good luck to you OP.

  49. FG*

    Get it in writing.

    Email to the boss, cc to the big boss. “This is to confirm our conversation on [date] that Edward is not and will not be my supervisor, even after his change in position. He is continuing to say that he is, so I would like that to be clarified with him.”

    You hope one or both will respond in the affirmative but if not, at least you won’t have a negative response.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Seconding this. It’s annoying that he’s doing it but it’s a bigger problem that the people who could handle it, aren’t.

  50. Coin Purse*

    I’m not someone who throws gender at everything but….it feels like a creepy awkward trying-to-date LW scenario.

  51. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    I might admittedly be off-base, but Edward strikes me as an incredibly socially awkward guy that wants to date you. In other words, he gets this (very strange) idea that insisting that he’s your boss will impress you, therefore get you to want to go out with him. He’s not giving up on the “I’m your boss!” because he just can’t read social cues, and thinks that repeating it will get his “point” across; when in fact it’s so weird that you write to Ask A Manager and the whole commentariat agrees that its really weird.

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t really help, does it? Sorry. No matter the cause, I agree with above commenters who recommend getting everyone on an email and confirming, in writing, that he is not your boss.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Except it doesn’t matter why he’s jerking her around: He is (as far as anyone knows) in the wrong, and so is OP’s actual boss for not shutting it down.

    2. Beany*

      Of course, dating your boss (or direct report) is a big no-no as well, so if this *is* Edward’s plan, he has more than one issue to sort out.

  52. Anne Shirley*

    This line is very telling: “Your day to day isn’t going to change.” To me, it sounds like Edward is avoiding assigning or commenting on anything in their project management system or preferred communication apps. Because if he did carry things that far, it could easily be shut down.

    Gray-rocking is an excellent approach. Personally, I would call Edward’s bluff and innocently ask for specifics. When does he officially become my boss? If Edward is brazen enough name a date (?!), on said date, I would ask him to please weigh in on Projects A and B so I know how to proceed. I would inform him I would be looping in Bob, Lucinda, and Fergus as they should definitely be involved…and watch his expression change.

    And yes, PLEASE update us.

    1. The Original Poster*

      He did tell me that nothing was going to change until January 2024, that it was going to take some time to get everything reorganized.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        What a long tedious 5 months that will be.

        I would gray rock and maybe occasionally say, ok, we’ll talk about it in January.

      2. Sloanicota*

        The good news is, you have at least that long to job search; after all, if nothing comes of this, you don’t have to take another job. But based on some weirdness here (the opacity of the owner’s answer and your own bosses’ uncharacteristic unwillingness to act; your sense that the owner may favor Edward, and your comment that perhaps women aren’t being promoted at this job) it wouldn’t hurt to put out applications between now and then.

        1. Lexi Lynn*

          Well that gives you 5 months to build up a good emergency fund if you don’t have one already. Being able to walk away is always better than being stuck in an unsafe situation.

      3. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        Really sounds like he was told something like “We wouldn’t be looking into any sort of reorganization until 2024” by someone who didn’t want to say “no, we aren’t promoting you” so they just bought themselves time OR who was just spitballing ideas for the future and Edward latched onto it as if it were definitely happening. If there was a 5 month transition plan in place, more information would be shared.

  53. Elsewise*

    Is it possible that your manager is trying to do something about Edward behind the scenes and is (somewhat ineptly) not telling you about it in the meantime, either because of confidentiality or because there’s some sort of politics going on between her and Edward’s supervisor about how to handle this? That’s the only way I can make sense of her behavior.

    1. The Original Poster*

      I wish but no. As a matter of fact, Edward got divorced less than a year ago and my VP has stated she feels sorry for the guy since he’s had some personal stuff going on in his life and maybe that’s why he’s lying.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Or maybe the lying led to the divorce? Just saying, I wouldn’t want to be married to this guy.

      2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        I’m sorry, I went through a divorce and it never caused me to treat the person directly below me in my department hierarchy (who does NOT report to me, we both report to the same person) like somehow I was her boss. Shocking to no one, I am a woman and it didn’t dawn on me to use my personal crises as a way to gain control over a woman in my department.

  54. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    OP, please realize this: Edward is NOT your friend. He’s playing power games with you AND with your real manager (because claiming to be your boss undercuts her position and authority.) He may have buttered you up to make you think of him as warm and friendly but he’s actually the opposite; he’s doing his best to lower your position in your company and to make others think of you as his subordinate. He isn’t your pal, he’s a parasite!

    Years ago, I worked for an agency and had a colleague who pulled a similar stunt with me; he told me “I AM your supervisor!” even though I knew that he wasn’t. I went straight to my REAL supervisor (whom I knew wouldn’t tolerate anyone trying to encroach on her authority), told her what Mr. Colleague had said, and asked if he really WAS my supervisor. She immediately told me that he was no such thing and then had a “little talk” with him. I’ll never know what she said to him but he NEVER tried to pull that with me again! OP, THAT is how YOUR boss should treat Edward; she should put him in his place so firmly and sharply that he never tries to pull that power play on you again.

  55. Jessica*

    Re: the question of why he’s so obsessed with exerting power over the LW, my money is on LW being female.

  56. Alex*

    I think this guy thinks he is being funny and cute and flirting with you, and has a really warped sense of what that is. Some guys think that “taking charge” even in a fake way is somehow attractive.

    Or he’s having some kind of break with reality, or a really strong belief in “speak it into being!”

    But more probably is he’s just an ass who thinks he’s funny when he’s not.

  57. Jay*

    LW, I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I know the exact feeling that you mentioned with your ADHD that it feels like your head is going to burst. For me, those situations lead to a combination of racing thoughts trying to figure out what the heck is going on, the worry that it had been mentioned before but you forgot, and formulating a response. You aren’t alone in that head bursting feeling.

    1. Eater of Hotdish*

      This is such a good way of describing this sensation. Thank you.

      The Original Poster, I can definitely see how your neurochemistry is making it easier for you to second-guess yourself and whether you’re just missing something…but one of the things I’ve learned on my adult ADHD journey is that yes, I may be seeing everything through the lens of chaos brain, but sometimes people are legitimately just being *that* bananapants.

  58. Ex-prof*

    The whole situation sounds gendered af. Owner is male, Edward is male, owner and Edward have been talking to each other, bypassing Edward and OP’s boss, who is a woman, said boss (a woman) doesn’t want to confront Edward directly, and though OP hasn’t said she’s a woman, as Jessica so hilariously remarked there’s only a 99.9% chance she is.

    TL;DR: This is an organization where no one wants to say that men are more important than women but at least two people believe it.

    OP, can you not be friends with Edward? Can you give Edward the ol’ heave-ho? Can you cease to interact with Edward, except when absolutely necessary and then only in tones that would Frigidaire would envy?

    It might cause Edward to spend his evenings in chatrooms complaining he’s been Friend Zoned, but so be it.

  59. SG*

    This happened to me too, and it’s quite validating to read through all these comments calling out how bizarro the behavior is! It was completely bewildering and is the reason I am no longer at that job. Unsurprisingly, the colleague desperate to be known as my boss was a man, and I am a woman.

    It started with not-so-subtle comments that implied seniority (“I want you working on X,” etc.), and escalated to private conversations this guy had with one of my key stakeholders that led them to contact me asking if I had a new boss, along with this guy giving me “instructions” to transfer one of my teams into his department. Eventually the guy just announced in a meeting that I would report to him, which was a complete surprise to me and (so she said) my actual boss, who also happened to be his boss.

    I documented the behavior, confronted the guy gently at first and then with escalating levels of directness, kept my actual boss informed at every step, and eventually reached out to HR, all to no avail. No one with the power to make the guy stop seemed interested in actually making him stop. When my boss told me that the situation was raising questions about my “willingness to collaborate” with the guy and that it was going to show up negatively on my performance review, I resigned.

    As a fascinating postcript, the internal investigations department finally reached out to me … after I put in my notice. So, I gave them the 60+ pages of documentation I had of the whole thing. I’m still almost amused at the guy’s willingness to do all this so openly … including in writing via Slack, lol.

    1. Ama*

      I’m sorry that you had to go through that (wtf your boss?) but good for you for resigning when it became clear they were going to make you responsible for dealing with his terrible behavior and for handing over your documentation.

    2. The Original Poster*

      Oh my God! Why didn’t anyone do anything?! That’s awful that you had to quit, I’m sorry that happened to you.

      1. SG*

        Solidarity, OP! I’m so sorry this is happening to you. You are not crazy! Sending good vibes for your job search. There are much better places to work out there, and one of them has your name on it.

  60. CubeFarmer*

    I can’t wait for an update on this one, because I suspect there’s more weirdness on its way!

  61. Sally Rhubarb*

    Document, document, document. Send an email to your boss (& maybe the VP) with Edward on copy asking for confirmation that you report your boss, not SpongeBob Bananapants. Include a note that unless you get information in writing that Edward is your boss, you will continue to report to your own boss as you have been.

    I hope this gets resolved quickly & favorably for you.

  62. The Original Poster*

    So I haven’t heard anything about him being my boss for about a week now. No one has confronted him. The owner blew me off. He announced cryptically in our next meeting that at the previous meeting (where Edward had been told he’d be a boss) he had just been talking off his head and he hoped no one took what he said to heart. Like what? I am a woman, Edward is obviously a dude. He is divorced as am I but I have a long term bf which Edward knows. He just called me minutes ago to tell me about his first date with a woman he met online. At this point, not sure if anything he says is true. I just keep my responses short, I generally don’t call him or message him anymore since all this happened. He talks for me at meetings before I can open my mouth, he says “we” about things only I have done, (we’re going to do such and such for social media, and I’m the social media coordinator. He does nothing with social.) He now regularly asks what I’ working on or what will I be doing the rest of the day. He checks up on me with stuff I’m supposed to be working on per my boss at a meeting. It’s still not great. But I email my VP every day. I also suspect the owner is trying to pull something and hasn’t told the VP. But I have no proof of that. I am looking for another job but struggling with it.

    1. Spurs*

      This sounds absolutely maddening, and I’m so sorry you have to go through it! So many people are failing you, and I know how it feels to have a situation that’s wrecking your working life but which no one else seems to care about at all (including the people who should be reigning that idiot in!) I hope you get a new job soon. This really sucks. :(

    2. MigraineMonth*

      I am so sorry, this completely sucks! You shouldn’t have to deal with this level of BS drama. I know it would have me wound up with anxiety, always trying to figure out how it could be fixed. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it can be. This jerk is actively undermining you, and you don’t have the support you need to do your job. There are too many bees.

      Is it possible to just… accept that the current job is over, do the bare minimum, and throw all that anxious energy into polishing your resume and getting the eff out? Best of luck, and I hope for a great “new job, yay!” update from you soon.

    3. Sally Rhubarb*

      Ugh that sucks! I hope you find a better job soon (& that Edward gets shown the door)

      In the meantime, I’d gently but firmly correct him when he lies about his involvement. “As Edward said, I was solely responsible for the Meet A Llama campaign which lead to a 40% increase in brush sales” etc

    4. Crocodilasaurus*

      Please do feel that you can push back on these things! You don’t have to let it go unchecked.

      -When he speaks for you, interrupt. Hannah Lee had good scripts if you search her user name.
      -Speak up when he says “we” and rephrase everything he said with “I”.
      -When he asks what you are working on, say, “VP gave me some stuff. If any of it involves you, I’ll let you know.”
      -When he checks up with you on stuff, say, “VP has my statuses. If you need to be looped in, she will let you know.” (of course, if it’s relevant to the meeting, discuss the status, but if it’s not, defer.)

      1. Anne Shirley*

        YES! to the above. This reminds me of a post a while back about a guy with a misleading job title who decided he was in charge of certain people. He was not.

      2. Zarniwoop*

        I think it’s reached the point where she’d be justified in saying “None of your business. You’re not my boss. I thought that had been explained to you.”

    5. MEH Squared*

      After reading all your comments, OP, I fear that you are correct about the owner trying to pull something shady. Also, your boss should be putting her foot down to all this, so good on you for emailing her every day. I just wanted to amplify that this is messed up and that it’s not you.

      If you feel up to it, definitely interrupt Edward to correct him when he says ‘we did’ about something you did. And, as others said, if you and your other female coworker can speak up for each other, that might help, too.

      And keep up with that job search. Your environment is full of bees.

    6. Crocodilasaurus*

      Oh, and shut down conversations about his dates.

      “Sounds like you had a good time, but I don’t think your dates are any of my business. Gotta go, the TPS reports are calling!”

      That might not be a great script. I’m going for expressing that you are not the right audience without going nuclear on him.

    7. All Het Up About It*

      Ugh! Awful. I hope you get a new gig prior to January 2024! It’s unlikely that Edward is going to be your boss then, but everything you’ve said about the Owner and Favoritism makes it seem … not impossible. I’d like to still say unlikely, but if you think your VP could be in the dark, then IDK.

      When he checks in on you, make sure not to provide real information.
      What are you working on? : “My assigned tasks.” “My regular work.” “Status quo items.”
      How is stuff VP mentioned going? : “I’ve updated VP as needed.” “I turned in a status update on that already.” “I’ll update VP in our 1:1.” “I’ll provide an update on that in our team meeting.”

      Also – if he’s doing this via chat. Just ignore the questions! Seriously just pretend you didn’t see them.

      The less information he has the less he can say “We” during meetings. Or if he does do it, it gives him more of an opportunity to say something incorrectly and you to come in with “Well actually VP and I looked that over and this is what we are thinking now” or something like that.

    8. damien*

      Oh wow, yeah this feels like there’s something going on for sure. Fingers crossed for a decent resolution, but equally fingers crossed that you find a better job, and soon.

  63. Dutch*

    I worked with a guy like that in sales, and for him it was a power trip/superiority complex. He felt like he was so smart he SHOULD be in charge.

    He would tell new starts he was their boss, then when told that no he wasn’t he’d tell them he was still senior to them. He would be corrected again, but a few weeks would go by and he’d do it again.

    It took the business owner taking him aside and telling him that he was neither management nor senior to anyone else to get him to stop.

    A few weeks after he left the business I had a client ask where my “old boss” had gone. Yup, he’d been telling customers that he was the manager too, and promising them all sorts. We just had to be honest with them and tell them he was delusional and no longer worked for us!

  64. Gil*

    I had a similar thing happen (this was many years ago when I was in my 20s).

    Was hired to work with 2 guys. My job description had Sr. in the title. Theirs did not. I became pretty good buddies with them. But one of them acted like my benevolent boss. Like me: “Running out to grab some lunch!” Him (looks at watch): “That should be fine. Take as much time as you need!”

    … but he said it like he was (kindly) giving me permission!

    Then the engineering team told me I had to go through this guy to get anything on the site updated, so I think he’d convinced them he was my boss, too. I did talk to my ACTUAL boss about it, but he just said that technically I was this guy’s senior and that I shouldn’t take any crap from him. (but no help beyond that). I didn’t know how to confront the guy, since he was always so nice about being my fake boss!

    Eventually, it started impeding my ability to do my job (not being able to make website updates when I was the senior website developer), and I was terrible with confrontation. so I quit after 6 months.

    The whole thing was very bizarre!

    1. Gil*

      Oh, and of course I’m a woman. It had never occurred to me that it was a gender thing until, like, 10 years later. But of course it was.

    2. Well...*

      For the lunch thing, I’ve found when people say little throwaway things like this, it’s best to confront them. They’re trying to fly under the radar, so instead make everything very obvious and out-in-the-open.

      “Why do you say that? Do you need something from me right now? Is there something happening around lunch time?” They usually stammer something out, and once they give you a (bad) concrete reason, you can address it right there. If they say they need you for XYZ, it’s perfect, because you can just return with, “No, sorry, I don’t have time to do that for you/something else has priority” etc etc.

      Works with passive-aggressive people too.

  65. Godbert*

    True story: I actually worked someplace where this happened over an entire department AND STUCK.

    I worked in the Afternoon Tea Division of the company. The Director of Afternoon Tea was the direct head of multiple small departments, which all had both individual tasks and cross-departmental tasks to do, and did not have their own managers — everyone just reported to the Director. (This structure is not uncommon in the industry, particularly in small-to-medium size companies where the whole Afternoon Tea Division is ~10-15 people.) I was in the Saucer Department, which had the most autonomy because there were some differences in our work that weren’t present in what Teapots and Teacups were doing.

    Absolutely out of the blue one day, the lone man who worked in Saucers simply started presenting himself as the Saucer Department Manager. With no explanation, he started referring to himself as the manager and talking to the rest of us as if we were his subordinates. He started attending manager-level meetings at the company unasked, introducing himself with his new title and speaking on the department’s behalf. He started tracking metrics that no one had asked him to track, and providing reports on them. He started scheduling individual “check-in” meetings and monthly “department meetings” with other Saucer employees. Etc.

    AND NO ONE STOPPED HIM. There was lots of confusion, but NO response from upper management. The Director (also male — the department was 80% female) just went along with it and eventually started referring to him as the manager!

    In the meantime, responses to the new manager in the division ranged from utter compliance to ignoring him completely. Two of my coworkers in Saucers (who already strongly disliked Mr. Manager both personally and professionally) confronted the Director, who (in their judgment) simply played dumb as though the whole thing were an Act of God. So my coworkers simply chose to do their entire jobs around Mr. Saucer Manager and ignore him completely except to point out when he was wrong or messing up. (I was a bit of a specialist in a job other people generally didn’t want, so I mostly avoided being “managed” by anyone.)

    I left the company five or six months after this started due to a move out of state, but I’m still in touch with a coworker from there. Mr. Saucer Manager has continued to consolidate power by acting like he has it until he actually gets it, to now include hiring and purchasing. The Director continues to do nothing. Eventually Teapots and Teacups caught on and chose their own managers, largely to have someone formally designated to tell the Saucer Manager to eff off since the director wouldn’t. My two coworkers in Saucers who chose to simply ignore and work around Mr. Saucer Manager are still mostly succeeding in this. Somehow, the department still functions well enough that no one in upper management notices or cares about any of this. It has been YEARS.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Wowwwwwwwwwwww. Well, there’s an example of “I’m gonna make it happen” if I ever saw one.

    2. Enai*

      Okay, what in the name of the invisible pink unicorn have I just read with my face eyes? I’m torn between saluting Mr saucer “manager” for bavarian fire drilling his own company who all know he’s just a confidence man and spluttering indignation on your behalf. Your director sounds useless, though.

      Did he manage to get a substantial raise or other material perks out of this? If so, I definitely respect his con.

      1. Godbert*

        I don’t know about a raise, but he did assign himself various managerial duties that involve lots of work time and some local travel, so that he could be by himself doing important manager things, and he no longer “had time” to do most of the job for which he was originally hired. During the time that I was still there, this just meant that other people had to pick up his original work that he was ignoring. Apparently, once he had hiring powers, he managed to hire an assistant. Per my informant at the company, no one knows what the assistant is supposed to be doing either, but they must not be liking it, because 5 have quit over the past year.

        And, yes, the director is useless at managing people. He’s one of the “if I hire good people, they’ll manage themselves” types. Hence, when Saucer Manager mounted his coup, the director did… nothing.

      2. 1LFTW*

        Thank you for teaching me “Bavarian Fire Drill”. Now I have words for the tactic being employed by the ED of the “private partner” in her bid to privatize my public sector workplace.

  66. Sally Rhubarb*

    Ugh that sucks! I hope you find a better job soon (& that Edward gets shown the door)

    In the meantime, I’d gently but firmly correct him when he lies about his involvement. “As Edward said, I was solely responsible for the Meet A Llama campaign which lead to a 40% increase in brush sales” etc.

    1. Crocodilasaurus*

      Yep, I like that phrasing. Sadly, in a work situation, we can’t just blow up the relationship, and we need to be mindful of how we come across to observers. That phrasing asserts LW’s ownership of her accomplishments without escalating the situation.

  67. Girasol*

    Has he mentioned his religion? Some religions still teach that men are in charge and women subordinate in all circumstances. If coworker’s god says that men are above women, then he may feel that he has it on higher authority than the boss or the owner that he is in charge of the women he works with.

      1. blue rose*

        We’ve been through this before with letters about workers being transphobic to their colleagues in the name of religion. The answer is no, religious accommodations can’t violate state or federal law (in US obvs. YMMV in other jurisdictions).

  68. boosha*

    “I declare that I’m your boss!”
    “You I just wanted you to know that you can’t just say that you’re my boss and expect anything to happen.”
    “I didn’t say it; I declared it.”

  69. The Original Poster*

    Thank you everyone! I really appreciate the support. Working from home, alone, is often like working in a vacuum and my anxiety has been very high throughout this whole thing. After reading all your comments, I feel a bit calmer and able to just work and ignore Edward as best I can. Thanks again!

    1. Part time lab tech*

      Ignoring it is a poor solution unless you can get out. Unfortunately assuming authority can work and it sounds like the owner is accepting. Your manager, your colleague and you might be more successful by making it clear you are the senior marketing person whenever he assigns work and treating it as if he has made a joke everytime he acts like your boss. He is using the boss thing as a distraction from his poor work. bring attention to his incomplete work whenever he tries to power play.
      The thing that confused me in a similar situation was my assumption that he was a reasonable”good” guy. It felt wrong but if he was ok, he “must” be making a bad joke. When I accepted he was being manipulative, I was able to strategise against it.
      Even if just understanding what was really going on is helpful. He “should” feel bad because he is behaving badly.

  70. Starfleet HVAC Engineering*

    Have you checked for hidden cameras around the office? Maybe there’s an elaborate prank show going on? Otherwise Edward needs to be fired and escorted out, because he’s seriously insane.

  71. CSRoadWarrior*

    Alison is right, what on Earth? Edward is not your boss, and your actual boss has made it very clear. I have heard of coworkers who acted like they were the boss, but Edward takes it to a whole new level.

    But the bottom line is he is not the boss. Period. Just listen to your actual boss. And if Edward wants to fuss about it, let him fuss. He has no power over you. If push comes to shove and it becomes unbearable, take it to HR. However, this should only be done as a last resort if you have no other options.

  72. Godbert*

    ITT I learned that this kind of thing is apparently not all that uncommon. I once had a coworker in a small department abruptly declare himself our manager (there was no such position), start calling himself Teapot Department Manager and ordering the rest of us around and showing up to managerial meetings introducing himself as the manager… and everyone above us just… went along with it.

    Likely relevant: the department and overarching division were both 80% female, and the self-declared manager was one of 3 men in the division who did not have a Manager or Director title. The layer of management between us and the C-suite was mostly female… but all but one of them were spouses or children of the C-suite.

  73. alas rainy again*

    LW, that story is triggering for me. It reminds me of a former job in the admin/support department of an innovation company. We were twenty when I joined and my role was to support the VP with reporting to our external stakeholders (grant-funded research). So I ghost-writed scientific articles, activity reports, the technical justification of spendings (part of financial reports)… And had the same vibes from the marketing/sales team members. My boss the VP was swamped. The CEO aloof. Six months later my department of 3 was laid down for “cash flow issues” (that I had forwarned my VP about -a known issue with state-funded grants). One year later I learned my former VP had been kicked out of the company. Two years later the company was sold to a big name in our field. So, they had been “prettying the bride” and getting rid of unnecessary supporting roles, keeping only the knowledge/innovation and the sales forces. My take: get your resume out there, and get out

  74. GreenDoor*

    I’m particularly concerned that OP is being removed from projects with Edward and assigned to work on projects with the boss. If those “projects with Edward” are projects that could boost OP’s career or standing in the industry, or those that would give OP significant career experience or enable OP to network, or anything like that, they would then be denied career opportunities because of Edward. If that’s the case, I’d push back hard. HE is the one being weird and telling lies. HE should be pulled from the plum projects, not OP.

  75. Quill*

    *Wonders if I met this Edward in college, because I knew a guy who just randomly self-promoted himself to Lab Assistant*

  76. Anne Shirley*

    Is Edward on LinkedIn? I’m sure he has inflated his importance. I hope you will have moved on by the holidays, OP. If not, it will be morbidly interesting to see if Edward significantly updates his profile before the return to work in the new year. As dysfunctional as this place sounds, I could still see the owner acting all puzzled about it.

  77. EssEss*

    I would flat out use my words to him. “These comments about being my boss need to stop. I’ve already verified with multiple management that you are not my boss, and you are not going to be my boss. The fact you keep saying this to me feels like an attempt to belittle my role as your equal in this company and are very inappropriate.”

    1. Distracted Librarian*

      I like this approach–as long as OP is confident that Edward will not, in fact, become her boss.

  78. somehow*

    Next time Edward tells you he is your boss, just laugh and walk away. You have the correct info. from your real bosses. Leave it at that.

  79. Little Miss Sunshine*

    this guy is why Alison was asking if we could still describe people and thwie actions as douchey.

  80. BatManDan*

    I can’t explain the owner’s choice of words and behavior, but I’m willing to bet that Edward’s behavior can be described by one concept. Edward is threatened by OP’s competence and position (and it probably actively afraid that OP will become EDWARD’S boss). No way to prove it, but I’ve watched enough bizarre behavior in my life to have a firm conviction I’m on the right track here.

  81. damien*

    If i were in your position i would minimise communication with this guy and make sure that I created a written record of everything he said to me re: being in charge of me, being above me in the hierarchy, or telling me what to do.

    Perhaps forward all of this to your actual manager as it happens. You could frame it as asking your manager for clarification on a task like “just to keep you informed that Edward has said X, is this correct” or just straight up “he’s back on his nonsense, here’s what he’s said this time”. But documentation will be your friend here.

  82. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Edward is a troll and a bully. He sees that his constant claims of becoming your boss are upsetting you and he wants to keep doing that. Someone really needs to nip this in the bud now, even if he is being moved, because this kind of behaviour is horrible. Though I suspect that even if he is pulled up for this, he will resort to the classic bully excuse of “it was just a joke, LW just has no sense of humour!” I knew someone like this at my previous job and he was a pain. Nobody was sad when he left.

  83. Nat*

    OP I just wanted to say I also have the spicy brain & absolutely get why this is making you feel so crazy, my least favourite thing is when people insist I’m wrong/misremembering something (especially when they do it as a joke, like a friend’s ex-boyfriend used to) because I’m so forgetful that I reach a point where I’m like “I mean maybe I AM wrong…” Having someone make you doubt your own understanding of something is nightmare status & even reading this made me cringe, I’m so sorry!

  84. Js*

    Try and get everything in writing, op.

    get your existing boss to confirm you are not moving under Edward and then get Edward to reiterate beliefs in writing and send that to your boss and ask for clarity
    email should work… I hope you all use email lol

  85. Two cents*

    Is it possible that the owner is telling Edward one thing and telling you and your boss another? A coworker of mine was recently promoted to manager. They were led to believe that they’d be managing their team, but didn’t find out until stuff hit the fan almost a year later that the promotion was just a title and pay increase, not an authority or position increase.

    It might be true that Edward is getting promoted, but his boss is conveniently leaving out the bit about his “power” over his coworkers (which will not change.)

  86. RhondaDawnAnonAnon*

    Something like this happened to me at a previous job. The whole story would take forever to explain, but the TL;DR version is this: one of my co-workers was assigned to be the lead on a project with poorly-defined boundaries and took that as carte blanche to start managing us about everything. Meanwhile, my actual boss had so much on his plate that he wasn’t carefully supervising anyone and didn’t know how to reign the situation in.

    The whole situation was bad for everyone: 2 people quit, the “fake” boss lost out on the chance to move to another role in the company that had basically been a sure thing prior to the start of the project, the “real” boss looked incompetent for not adequately managing the situation, the rest of the team was just tired and stressed out from the constantly conflicting directives. Eventually, our grandboss calmed the situation by swapping out my boss with a manager from another team who was widely respected in the organization and things sort of re-set. But the team (which until that point had been high-performing) never really recovered and people gradually transferred to other jobs or quit entirely.

Comments are closed.