coworker keeps calling me my manager’s “girlfriend,” double question marks, and more

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

1. A senior coworker keeps calling me my manager’s “girlfriend”

Over the past year, I’ve made a great connection with one of my managers, Lucas. He and I have a similar work ethic, our senses of humor mesh, we get along, and shifts with him go smoothly and fast. As single people in our late 30s who both have never been married and don’t have or want kids, this has aided in my developing a crush on him. But while we are friendly and can be a little flirty, there is nothing between us other than friends and coworkers. (Our company has policies against management dating employees, regardless.)

Recently another manager (Jane, who is senior to me) was there when I brought Lucas beverages. Ever since, Jane watches our interactions non-stop and teases us. She’s constantly calling him my boyfriend in front of my coworkers and telling him that he needs to learn to control his girlfriend when I ask her questions. He hasn’t said anything to me about it because I know his approach when people are trying to get a rise out of him is to not indulge it. I know these are middle school bully actions, but they are stressing me out. How do I approach such a person, especially in management, and tell them so? Also instead should I tell Lucas how her comments are making me feel (while leaving out my feelings for him) and let him handle it instead since she is a fellow manager?

What the hell! Lucas needs to shut this down. He should have already shut this down. Aside the ridiculously juvenile idea that men and women who get along well must be dating, characterizing your relationship that way at work is borderline harassment. It also risks people thinking you’re getting special treatment from Lucas, which could undermine both of you professionally (but particularly you). And “control your girlfriend” is a disgusting thing to say in any context, and is even more wildly inappropriate in a work one.

So yes, please do talk to Lucas. Tell him Jane’s comments are making you deeply uncomfortable and feel like harassment and, given the power dynamics, you’re asking him to be the one to shut it down. If he doesn’t put a stop to it immediately, talk to HR and ask them to shut it down; they should. (In fact, HR might be the better bet, although since you have a good relationship with Lucas it’s not unreasonable to start with him.)

Separately, though, you need to stop the flirtiness, however mild; it’s out of place for your relationship with your boss and it’s really likely to make your coworkers uncomfortable.

2. What’s up with my coworker’s constant use of double question marks??

A low-stakes question: When is it appropriate to use double question marks in email communications at work? A colleague (my peer; we’re both in middle management) has a habit of including them in her messages. In varying contexts, they range from:

A.) Making total sense, conveying a sense of urgency for an answer to a time-sensitive question: “Did we want a stand-up chat about this while we’re all in the office today??” (Sent towards the end of the day, as a follow-up to a suggestion earlier in the day. The topic of discussion was getting pretty tangled via email, and a stand-up chat was a good solution.)

B.) Unnecessary, but only mildly annoying: “Are we doing any llama grooming panels at next year’s conference??” (Sent while forwarding an idle inquiry from a third party, nothing urgent or earth-shattering.) Or “Just a thought …??” (At the end of an email where she suggests something — a good idea that we can’t implement, but not an urgent topic.)

C.) Downright accusatory: “Did you tell the Alpaca Department we don’t need to borrow their shampoo??” (This was sent to my direct report. We did, in fact, need to borrow the shampoo. It was an error that created extra work for my colleague, but it wasn’t a catastrophe that would sink the company. My direct report apologized, and everything’s fine now.)

Am I off-base in feeling annoyed by C? Is punctuation an appropriate way to signal “you shouldn’t have done that” or “I am upset by this”?

For the record, I’ve only seen her use double question marks in communications with her peers and people below us in our company structure; I don’t know if she uses them in emails to our boss. I doubt it, because double question marks would be inappropriate to include in messages to your boss regardless of the context, right?

My colleague has worked here a long time and has been resistant to changes in the past few years. She’s also a self-described “Type A” and sometimes seems frustrated that the rest of us are more relaxed. I think the double question marks contribute to that impression. However, she is overall pleasant, professional, and does her job well. This is simply one quirk that privately annoys me and my direct report, and I’m just curious if we’re being too sensitive or need to reframe our thinking. We have no plans to raise it as an issue.

I think you’re reading too much into it! It’s true that double question marks have traditionally meant shock or extra emphasis, but your coworker uses them in so many different situations that it’s just the way she writes. It makes sense that she doesn’t do it when emailing higher-ups because it’s a less formal way of writing; it’s not aggression with you and non-aggression with them, but rather informal with you and more formal with them.

Think of it like other weird writing habits, like excessive uses of ellipses (“hi…”) or maybe the abandonment of periods in texts (that one’s generational but I inexplicably adore it, whereas the pregnant pauses of all those ellipses irk me). Ignore it! Or be amused by it, an equally good alternative.

3. Company is making us work the holiday week they promised we would have off

In an effort to offer more competitive benefits, a little over a year ago my company announced the company would be closed from Christmas Day through New Year’s Day (paid time for all). This was a significant improvement, as the company ranks average to below average in terms of overall benefits. Since then, we’ve hired more than five people into our group. Again, the pay has been not-even-close-to-competitive entry-level wages; often a selling point for these folks has been this week at the end of the year off.

Leadership is now considering requiring my group to work that week. We are not performing work critical to the business. Working from home is not an option for our work. A final decision still has not been communicated; the timeline for a firm answer is another few weeks out. Most of the people this will impact do not know there’s a question around what they’re assuming is a week of paid time away.

From my view, this will have catastrophic impacts on morale, retention, and productivity (with the way this has been handled, who thinks work is going to get done that week?). Outside of that, I have an international trip planned that I’ve meticulously saved PTO for and am planning to leverage the week of holiday time. That’s been in the works for over a year, which my manager was made aware of months ago. I imagine I am not the only person with a trip planned that week.

While I understand the business need to require us to keep things moving that week, I do not think reneging on it at this point in the year will yield successful outcomes, especially with short notice and for the people we sold these jobs to with this promise within the last four months. Is there anything productive I can do with this angst to try to help myself and the others this will impact?

You can certainly point it out, if you haven’t already! It’s particularly egregious that they’re dragging their feet on telling employees, since people will be buying plane tickets and making other plans, and it’s also egregious that they used this as a selling point when hiring so recently. If there’s truly a business need for staff to be there that week, it’s worth asking whether everyone needs to be there; could one or two people cover what needs to be covered? And if they do need employees there — whether one or two or all of you — this will go over far better if they make it worth people’s while financially — extra pay or bonuses, an equivalent amount of time off later, etc.

It’s one thing to say, “We’re so sorry, we recognize what a hardship this is after our previous promises, it’s necessary because of X, and we’re going to do Y to make you whole.” It’s another to just be cavalier about it. If they choose the latter, people are likely to feel really screwed over, and this the kind of thing people leave jobs over — not necessarily immediately, but in time.

4. Former employee’s LinkedIn says he still works here

I am a manager working in tech for a Fortune 100 company. My team’s work is very trendy right now and between that and the company’s reputation, we look good on a resume.

I have an ex-employee who separated from the company and took a new role six months ago but hasn’t updated his Linked In profile to reflect it. This is getting on my nerves because it feels like he’s riding our coattails (and he wasn’t very good while in the role anyway). His job here has been backfilled and the new person has the same title on LinkedIn now. Is there anything I can do? Should I just ignore it or let it go? I am not in touch with him any longer, this just pops up on my feed every now and then.

Let it go. Maybe it’s a deliberate attempt to appear like he’s still employed by your company, but maybe he just doesn’t use LinkedIn very often and so hasn’t bothered to update it. Either way, asking him to change it would look weird and be an overstep.

5. Employer refused to give me my past performance reviews

One of my requests of HR when I was laid off was that I get my recently completed performance reviews to take and learn from for my next role. I remained on payroll for a couple of weeks in between when I was informed of the layoff and my official last day, so I was still an “active” employee in the system. Instead of saying “I can’t share those with you since you are no longer employed,” the leader I made the request to said, “I’ll look into it,” then waited until after my official last day, when I was marked as terminated in the system (and therefore my reviews were archived) to tell me “I can’t access those.”

Why wasn’t the leader just honest with me about why they couldn’t share my reviews? I know it was probably a legal thing, but between feeling blindsided by the layoff then lied to about why I couldn’t have my year-end reviews, I am having a hard time wanting to go back into HR or, frankly, trust anyone in HR to tell the truth.

I wouldn’t assume they deliberately lied to run out the clock. It’s fully possible that they figured, “I’ll get those for her in a while” and then by the time they went to do it, they no longer could access them. If it’s just their policy not to give them to you, they could have easily just told you that. Maybe they lied anyway, but I don’t think there’s anything conclusive here.

For what it’s worth, some states do require employees to be able to access their personnel files (unfortunately your state, which you gave me, isn’t one of them). Also, this doesn’t help you now, but in the future it’s a good idea to keep copies of evaluations and anything else you might want down the road, rather than assuming you’ll be able to retrieve it from your employer. Keep your own copies and then you won’t be dependent on them to supply them!

{ 566 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    #1 – Being called manager’s “girlfriend”.

    You ask “Also instead should I tell Lucas how her comments are making me feel (while leaving out my feelings for him) and let him handle it instead since she is a fellow manager

    Absolutely. Use Allison’s verbiage, or something like it. Do not even *hint* at your feelings, as it’s just going to make things more complicated. It’s all good and fine for him to “not indulge” stuff that affects only him. But, as a manager, he has an obligation to you to shut it down. And, I also agree with Allison that HR might need to get involved here.

    I will say that it would probably be a good idea for you ditch the flirtiness. Not because it excuses Jane’s behavior! But it’s not a good look for either of you and could give some credence to Jane’s comments.

    I’m also wondering just how good of a manager Lucas actually is. He should not be “flirty” with you, even though I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it. And he should most *definitely* not allow Jane to continue with her gross comments and bully you. He can refuse to engage for himself, but he has an obligation to his staff to have their backs when others go after them for any reason.

      1. KateM*

        I was wondering if Jane’s behaviour stems from her discomfort of having to witness constant flirting.

        1. Observer*

          I was wondering if Jane’s behaviour stems from her discomfort of having to witness constant flirting.

          It could be. But it’s a wildly inappropriate way to respond. *Especially* since some of her comments cross the line, even if she really *were* talking about a romantic couple.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            Yes. Especially the comment about “controlling his ‘girlfriend'”. Telling a man to “control” a woman in any context is widely inappropriate. Actually, telling anybody to “control” another adult is pretty creepy, but it has additional sexist connotations when it’s a man being told to control a woman. Even if she is trying to get them to tone down the flirting or make a comment on how they are acting, that is still a problematic way of doing it.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Yeah, it’s nauseating. “How dare your property disrespect me by [checks notes] asking me a question?”

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Oprah wanders into the office and hands out citations for making coworkers uncomfortable. “You are being inappropriate! And you’re being inappropriate! And you–inappropriate!”

          3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            +1000 I promise that, if somebody said “control your girlfriend” in a non-work situation and to my actual boyfriend, fur would fly. What an incredibly awful thing to say.

        2. SarahKay*

          In which case Jane, as a manager, needs to deal with it properly by speaking to Lucas and telling him it needs to stop.
          What she shouldn’t be doing is making nasty comments, especially to someone below her in the reporting structure who can’t push back.

          1. NerdyKris*

            Agreed. She should have approached Lucas and pointed out what it looks like, or had his boss handle it. LW has the least power in this situation.

        3. Michelle Smith*

          This was my first thought as well. I wouldn’t be so cavalier as to constantly comment on it, but it would make me exceptionally uncomfortable. And quite frankly, if I was also being managed by Lucas, I’d be looking for a transfer if at all possible. That kind of flirty, overly familiar behavior between a manager and a direct report can signal favoritism, which means fewer opportunities for me if I stay working for him.

          To be clear, I don’t think LW1 is a bad person or necessarily doing anything wrong. But Lucas should have shut down the flirty comments the first time they happened and he should be shutting down Jane’s comments instead of putting his head in the sand.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Reading this back, I see how my comment could be misinterpreted. I’m aware that Jane doesn’t work for Lucas. I’m saying that if I were working for Lucas as a peer to LW1 and I witnessed flirty behavior between them, however innocuous, I would question my ability to succeed in that department.

          2. There You Are*

            In the company I just left, the two male managers in my department were buddy-buddy friendly with the two male staff members. Inside jokes, [gentle] teasing, photoshopping pictures of each other into movie scenes (wholly PG and SFW).

            Nothing crossed any lines, and they certainly weren’t flirty with each other. But it was painfully obvious to us women in the department that the men were more comfortable with each other than with us.

            And no one was surprised when the two male staff members got promoted faster than women who had been in the department longer and had more overall work experience (like yours truly).

            Overly-familiar behavior — flirty or friendship — between a manager and someone in their chain of command poisons departments.

        4. The Person from the Resume*

          Possibly, but given how many people attribute boyfriend/girlfriend status to toddlers of the opposite sex playing together, I think some people think any friendliness among people of the opposite sex must be crush/relationship (the worst). And other people think any “extra” friendliness (bringing beverages) is a sign of a crush/relationship (still annoying).

          So what I’m saying is that frustration with constant flirting may not be the reason.

          1. Firecat*

            except in this case OP admits they flirt so it’s unreasonable to jump to the conclusion that Jane is seeing flirting that isn’t there

        5. Suzannah*

          Or from having a crush on fellow manager and annoyed she’s not getting the attention from him.

      2. The scum is winning*

        Yup. Should Jane be saying that stuff? No. But obviously she’s saying it because she’s picked up on the dynamic between them that is something beyond strictly manager/employee.

        1. borealis*

          My take on this is that obviously she’s saying it because she a) is misogynistic and b) has the attitude of an 8-year-old boy (I apologise to all 8-y-o boys who do understand that “you’re his girlfriend nyah nyah” is always unfunny, regardless of context.)

          1. K8T*

            I think that’s a big stretch to say Jane is misogynistic.
            OP does in fact need to stop any behavior that could be seen as flirting. She admitted she has a crush and they’re flirty at work which is insanely inappropriate.
            Jane also needs to stop her behavior but I’m sure all the other coworkers are making similar comments behind their backs.

            1. Leenie*

              The “control his girlfriend” part makes misogyny seem like less of a stretch to me. I agree that other people may be gossiping and LW should dial the flirting back to zero. But Jane’s particular comments are particularly awful, even if meant in jest.

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

              “You need to control your girlfriend” is in and of itself misogynistic.

            3. The Person from the Resume*

              Since Jane told a man to “learn to control his girlfriend” there is no stretch to call Jane amisogynist.

              I do agree that accusing a friendly or even over-friendly opposite sex couple of people of dating is not inhernetly misogynistic (it’s heteronormative), but Jane went a lot further telling a man to “control” a woman. That’s misogyny.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                I think there’s a whiff of misogyny in the whole “men and women can’t be friends” idea, since it reduces women’s opportunities so much more then men’s.

                1. Lydia*

                  I don’t flirt with my friends and since the OP admits they are flirty and that she has crush, this is a bit more than the idea of men and women not being able to be friends.

                2. Lydia*

                  I should add, it’s not that the OP and her boss are friendly that makes Jane a misogynist; it’s the part where she told Lucas to control his girlfriend. Either way, if Jane is uncomfortable with the way Lucas and OP are interacting, calling them boyfriend and girlfriend is not the way you deal with it.

                3. Jessica*

                  The exact same teasing that doesn’t raise eyebrows between people of the same gender often gets taken as flirtation when it’s between a man and a woman.

                  There’s no bright line between flirtation and non-flirtation. It’s highly contextual, it’s often more about delivery or non-verbal signals than the actual words that are being said, and sometimes it’s *not even clear to the person who’s doing it* whether it’s flirtation or not.

            4. Jessica*

              I don’t know how to explain to you that “control your girlfriend” is open, extreme misogyny in literally *any context.*

            5. There You Are*

              In addition to the “control your girlfriend” comment, if Jane was bothered by the flirting and wasn’t misogynistic, she would take it up Lucas and/or “tease” Lucus.

              The fact that the only person she is bullying is another woman highlights her misogyny.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I don’t think Jane should make those comments – at best they’re passive aggressive. But if it were me I’d take notice of how my interaction with my manager appeared to others and work to dial it back. I’ve worked with/for friends and there needs to be a level of distance in the office. We have several married couples in my current office and other than going to lunch together you would have no idea they had a relationship. That’s the way it should be IMO. OP should take an objective look at the flirting and extra favors and think about how it looks on the outside. If my friend/boss got coffee for me, he got coffee for everyone.

          I’d also return awkward to sender, but include in that getting Lucas to shut it down. If he doesn’t then IMO he’s neither a good friend nor a good manager.

          1. Suzannah*

            Oh, there’s nothing passive about how Jane is behaving.
            And really – if you bring coffee for one person, you have to bring enough for everyone? This isn’t first grade.
            If they were of the same gender (yes, we live in a heteronormative world, when it comes to work gossip, no one would think it was “flirting ” to bring someone a coffee.

      3. NerdyKris*

        The letter was tonal whiplash. First I thought “Oh, eff that person, shut them down.”. Then LW mentions she’s sometimes flirty, and my thought changed to “She’s probably annoyed at the flirting and possibility that you are dating your manager.” Then it reveals she’s another manager and making comments like “control your girlfriend” and just everyone in this situation needs to step back and be professional.

        Jane is obviously the biggest issue here, both from the comments and because she’s a manager who should be held to a higher standard when addressing an issue, but also Lucas and LW need to stop flirting and giving people the impression that there might be something going on.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          A million times yes.

          Jane is out of line. But OP, quite bluntly, so are you. Do not flirt with your manager. From your letter it sounds like the only reason you haven’t acted on your feelings is company policy. This is not a good look for you. No matter how well you get along, work is not the place for flirting.

          Its not just that people will be uncomfortable. As Alison says, some will think you are getting special treatment. Do you want to be known for your accomplishments at work, or have everyone suspect you are getting ahead because you flirt with the boss?

          And Lucas should have shut it down IMMEDIATELY. Not just Jane but you too. The first flirty comment he should have told you that it was not appropriate for work.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I’m a woman in a male-dominated field who attended a work social event recently. I expressed surprise that my boss had shaved off his beard. One of my coworkers said I should tell him he looks handsome like that and I had a “Hell no” reaction.

            I shoot for a warm relationship with my manager, but I’m not saying anything even a bit flirty to him.

            1. There You Are*

              I’m a straight woman and I won’t even tell a female co-worker that a new hairstyle makes them look pretty.

              I’m there to work, not to judge the attractiveness of my co-workers.

            2. Suzannah*

              How is that flirty? I guess I would not use the word “handsome,” but I might say, hey I see you shaved your beard! Looks great!
              I’m a little thrown by the blaming-the-victim thing here. It’s hard to tell if LW is being wildly inappropriate, because we don’t have many details (bringing someone coffee isn’t an overtly sexually suggestive act). But continuing that 8th-grade GF/BF thing, and saying CONTROL your girlfriend is just monumentally offensive on so many levels.
              Yeah, make sure you are not appearing to flirt with a manager at work. But please – let’s stop with the “she asked for it” takes.

              1. There You Are*

                “You look handsome without your beard,” has a completely different ring to it than, “You shaved your beard! Looks great!”

                Just like saying to a woman, “That dress makes you look attractive/beautiful,” feels different than saying, “New dress? Looks great!”

        2. Smithy*

          Yeah, in a more specific version of “two wrongs don’t make a right” – I’ve noticed in past workplaces where professional norms started going down the tubes, that it was inevitable for us to excuse our own infractions as being subtle or normal and then the choices of others as wild breaks of professionalism. When the reality is that we were working somewhere that had an increasing slide into looser and looser standards of professionalism. Not to excuse the actions of the other person, but where it was also necessary to acknowledge where we were as part of the break from those standards.

          Example in my case being, one person starts drinking in the office when they’re working late. It’ll just be a drink or two starting at 6:30/7pm when the vast majority of staff are gone and he’s working on tasks where “this doesn’t effect it”. Then another staff member has some childcare hiccups, and starts bringing in her 8 year old to the office after 3 on Mondays and Fridays for a few hours. Now, from either person’s side – each individual is not being “so” bad – but the other person far less professional. And looking even further out, this being an office where it was known our director of HR streamed tv shows in his office, and plenty of people were engaged in personal texting of….a highly personal nature during work hours.

          At that office, the larger professional decline was so obvious, and there was always someone doing something worse. But that wildly bad behavior could often leave us in denial about what we were or weren’t doing.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Human behavior is so context-dependent. Whether we stop to help someone who needs it is much more dependent on whether we’re in a hurry than if we’re inherently helpful people. The sweetest person can be cutthroat in the right circumstances (e.g. a game of Monopoly).

            As the letter from the woman who bit a coworker made so clear, toxic environments warp your perspective. Things you wouldn’t consider doing in other circumstances seem fine. Looking back at my toxic job, I cannot believe how unprofessional I became; getting fired is the best thing that ever happened for my career.

            1. Smithy*


              The unprofessional stuff I did in that office…..was a lot. But then in comparison to coworkers, it didn’t crack a Top 20 of “well this happened”.

              In an equally bad way, it can also teach you how to break the decorum of professionalism well and badly. The HR director streaming tv shows was using (and often slowing down) the organization WIFI, and thus far more noticeable by more people. So if you were going to do something of that nature, using your phone or connecting a tablet to your phone’s hotspot wouldn’t draw the same attention. Grand scheme, neither behavior gets a standing ovation….but the larger point being that what people often took away as “bad” was how you got caught. Not what you were doing.

      4. Antilles*


        I’ll actually piggyback off that last statement to say that it’s probably not just Jane who falls under “people notice”. This feels like one of those situations where one undiplomatic loudmouth is saying what 10 other people are quietly thinking.

        Jane’s framing and methods of handling it are awful, but I suspect others in the group have also noticed these interactions, are equally annoyed by the flirting, and assuming you’re dating. Jane’s simply the only one who’s tactless enough to make jokes about it to your face.

        1. K8T*

          Zero chance she’s the only one who’s picked up on it but she’s just the only one saying anything. She shouldn’t be making those specific comments but OP needs to treat it as a giant wake up call to their own behavior.

          1. Selena81*

            between the friendship and the flirting and the actual crush I find it hard to figure out wether Jane is a misogynist who puts other women down by sexualizing them or an annoyed coworker who hopes that some pointed jokes will put an end to a budding office romance

            1. not like a regular teacher*

              The “control your girlfriend” comment is misogynistic and wholly inappropriate in any situation.

      5. Lainey L. L-C*

        People definitely notice and it makes everyone uncomfortable. (Job in college, no one wanted to work a shift with the married manager who was constantly flirting/disappearing with cashier somewhere.)

      6. Beth*

        Yeah, my two simultaneous thoughts on this one were “someone needs to make Jane stop” and “OP needs to cut off any flirtatious vibes with her manager, people are clearly noticing.” It doesn’t excuse Jane’s behavior–her comments are inappropriate regardless–but OP does need to make a choice here: either back way off with Lucas to a purely and obviously professional relationship, or move towards transferring off his team so she can explore whether her feelings have potential to be more than just a crush.

      7. Jessica*

        LW being flirty is not justification for Jane’s harassment of her, or her really troubling, misogynist instructions to the manager to “control his girlfriend.”

      8. Suzannah*

        Agree. But it’s also annoying that if two people are of different genders and tease each other or joke around or whatever, it’s seen as having a sexual undertone. And in some cases, it probably does. But as someone who was unmarried until middle age, I was annoyed by the perception that I was romantically interested in a man just because we had a bantering relationship.
        It also makes me wonder if Jane is somewhat jealous – maybe she has a crush?

    1. Oatmeal Mom*

      I agree that to some extent LW’s crush on Lucas may be clouding her judgment on how great of a manager he is. A good manager wouldn’t flirt with her! There’s friendly and there’s flirting. Even if there’s no emotional affair/cheating aspect to the flirtation since they’re both single, it’s still inappropriate from a manager.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also clouding her judgment as to how cool everyone else in the office is with the flirting, how obvious their vibe is, etc.

      2. interplanet janet*

        I had a great gender-of-attraction manager early in my career. We became very professionally close, even moreso after I was promoted and technically became their peer. Even then, a power dynamic remained because even though we were the closest in age among our team, they were further into their career than me, so the relationship switched from managerial to mentor. After I moved on in my career, we remain close to this day. We have extremely compatible senses of humor, interests, professional convictions, etc. and worked fantastically together.

        Never once, not even accidentally, was there an iota of flirtatiousness between us!

        All of this is to say that I agree with you, being flirty with someone who has a report relationship with you is a big ding against being a great supervisor. Being the gender-of-attraction of each other and compatible colleagues does not automatically lead to flirting.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Even if LW and Lucas were, hypothetically, on the same level and married but appropriately professional at work, it would be inappropriate for Jane to tell Lucas to get his WIFE under control. People’s romantic relationships, real or imaginary, belong out of the office.

      There are three separate issues here, all of which are fueling the others: 1) Jane’s calling out LW and Lucas as a “couple”; 2) LW and Lucas having an office friendship with mild flirtation; and 3) LW’s crush on Lucas. 1) LW and Lucas are both well within their rights to ask Jane to a) tone it way down and b) stop acting like men and women can’t be friendly at work without Sex Potential all over the place. I’m sure Jane thinks this is all cute and funny, but it’s not. 2) LW and Lucas need to pull back on the flirting at work and crank it all back to “friendly.” 3) LW needs to keep her crush to herself a little more; even if she thinks she is not being obvious, tucking it in a bit more won’t hurt.

      1. hbc*

        I think the “under control” comment actually loses *some* of its inherent grossness because of the work relationship. “Get your employee under control” is a little harsh, but managers are basically responsible for controlling their employees. The fact that the employee is behaving like a girlfriend is what started the whole mess.

        Jane’s not behaving well here, but I’m never a fan of “Help, I’m doing something wrong and someone else reacted by doing something wrong-er!”

        1. Jessica*


          It does not lose any of its misogyny or its inherent grossness. The fact that Lucas is LW’s manager and has power over her makes it worse, not better.

        2. Suzannah*

          Oh, no no no no no.

          Sure, LW needs to make sure she keeps her crush at bay (we’ve all had attractions to people at work; you can’t help it but you can help how you behave, and it will pass). But Jane’s behavior is appalling and I think more than verges on harassment. She needs to STOP.
          I do get why supervisor initially thought – ignore it, don’t feed the trolls, what have you. But it’s gone too far. The “control your girlfriend” would have made me explode.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I agree with everything but this:
        ” I’m sure Jane thinks this is all cute and funny, but it’s not.”
        She may thinks she’s being funny, being in on a big joke, or she may simply be tactless and unprofessionally telling them to knock it off.
        And she is tactless and unprofessional. She’s minimizing OP as a person and a colleague. She’s also calling manager for being inappropriate with his staff. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. She should have a conversation with him, not whatever this is.

      3. chewingle*

        Definitely agree, especially on paragraph 1. My husband and I worked in the same office for a while and things like that would have been shut down by either of our managers immediately.

        The one thing I’m surprised to see no one mentioning is that their company has a policy against in-office dating. That alone should have made Lucas shut this down. If HR gets wind of Jane’s comments independently, it could look really bad for OP and Lucas, potentially resulting in disciplinary actions (depending on how strict this rule is). With that alone, I’m surprise either party has let it go this far with their flirting and with Jane’s comments. That in mind, I would absolutely go to HR whether or not you decide to go to Lucas, to head off any potential future fallout for the two of you.

        And to echo everyone else — end the flirting. Now.

    3. Pepper*

      I kinda wonder if OP is interpreting some of Lucas’s behavior as flirty even though he doesn’t intend it that way, and it’s possible almost no one else interprets it that way.

      I don’t want to second guess LWs, but I also know that I have this tendency with people I crush on.

      if she didn’t like him, I wouldn’t make this suggestion, mind–typically one isn’t looking/subconsciously hoping to see interest from people they have no interest in

        1. darsynia*

          This is definitely not the case, especially not for people who are managers and still choose to make inappropriate comments. There have been multiple letters on here from people distressed that this assumption is being made despite there being no basis for it (and we’re not meant to assume they’re blind or lying about it). I also know my best friend from years back dealt with the same issue, a collegial relationship with a colleague that constantly drew ‘work wife’ comments that, given she’d just got married, made her really nervous and upset.

          It’s possible Jane’s comments are prompted by obviousness! But it’s completely not a given.

          1. darsynia*

            The word ‘always’ got lost from my first sentence, argh! ‘Definitely not always the case’ was the intention, I apologize that it comes across so aggressive without it.

        2. alienor*

          A long time ago, a male work friend of mine got divorced. Because we were very close, pretty much everyone around us assumed we were going to start dating. When he got a new girlfriend, “Lisa,” the gossip shifted to a conspiracy theory that I was really Lisa, and at some point we would reveal our relationship. It took him showing up to another coworker’s wedding with the real Lisa as his date for people to finally let it go and accept that we had never been a romantic couple and never would be. (He and Lisa have been married for ~10 years now, and we’re still friends.) That may not be the case in LW’s situation, since they actually do have romantic feelings about Lucas, but it also goes to show that sometimes what people think is obvious really isn’t.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            It seems like I’m assumed to be flirting every time I talk animatedly to someone of a different sex, even when it’s someone I’m not attracted to and we’re just talking about cats.

            1. Jessica*


              The number of times someone has mistaken my enthusiasm for a subject for attraction to the person with whom I am discussing that subject…

        3. MassMatt*

          It could be obvious just on the one side—LW could be acting flirty and Lucas is not. Jane sounds like a bully, and bullies can be very adept at sniffing out vulnerabilities.

          LW definitely should knock it off with any flirty behavior, but this should not distract from how awful Jane is.

        4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Hahaha nooo, can’t speak for Jane as I don’t know her, but I’ve certainly seen people throw those words around with little or no basis in reality.

          And heaven forbid LW ever gets a raise or a promotion, or even gets assigned to a better project. I’ve shut down many a conversation between my work friends and myself that suddenly veered into “X is only a manager because she’s flirting with Y, Z, and A and letting them think they have a chance” and I didn’t even like X as a coworker or a manager! but felt that I had to say something, because no, this is a bizarre take, and while office politics can be a complicated beast and lead to wrong people being promoted, I highly doubt that the C-suite would promote a woman just based on the thought that “they have a chance”. And yet it gets thrown around anytime a woman gets ahead at work.

          1. bamcheeks*

            “X is only a manager because she’s flirting with Y, Z, and A and letting them think they have a chance”

            The wild thing about this stuff is that it’s nearly always said as a criticism of X, as if poor Y, Z and A have no CHOICE but to promote people based on how likely they are to sleep with them.

              1. There You Are*

                This isn’t work related but my dad recently got snippy with me because I wouldn’t agree with him that his friend-of-sixty-decades was an unwilling participant in his own affair, subsequent divorce, and marriage to the “other woman.”

                My dad said, “You weren’t there. She played him like a fiddle. She knew what she wanted and she went after it until she got it.”

                The friend and the Other Woman have been married for over 30 years and my dad apparently still thinks his friend is being used, and is in the marriage against his will, despite the lavish vacations that just he and his wife go on together, to be able to spend time alone away from kids and grandkids.

                That “always blame the woman” mindset is DEEPLY ingrained in our culture.

        5. Jessica*

          The CEO of a company I worked for referred to my creative partner as my “boyfriend” despite both of our requests for it to stop.

          He is very, very, openly gay. I’d go so far as to say he’s *professionally* gay, given that LGBTQ themes are a core part of his creative output.

          I am an asexual woman.

          Neither of us is wired to have the slightest iota of sexual interest in each other, which the CEO knew very well. While we did openly tease and joke around with each other, there was nothing even faux-flirty about it. We don’t use any endearments for each other, and our banter wasn’t any different in tenor from the way we bantered with other people on our team. The only difference was that since we were in senior positions, we were both careful to be more gentle with others because of the power dynamics, and were more snarky with each other.

          People get *deeply* weird about *any* sign of closeness between a man and a woman.

      1. Observer*

        I kinda wonder if OP is interpreting some of Lucas’s behavior as flirty even though he doesn’t intend it that way, and it’s possible almost no one else interprets it that way.

        What difference would it make? It doesn’t change the two most relevant facts. 1. Jane is being wildly inappropriate and 2. The OP has a crush on her boss and is flirting with him.

        Even if Lucas is actually not flirting back, he’s totally mishandling the situation from all aspects.

        1. Jessica*

          Anything to exonerate the man.

          Not only is Jane justified in misogynist harassment of LW because LW is apparently a shameless office-wrecker who spends her time doing strip-teases on her desk, but poor Lucas is merely the noble, hapless victim of LW, who is also completely delusional in believing he could possibly have any romantic interest in such a strumpet. /s

    4. Awkwardness*

      “I’m also wondering just how good of a manager Lucas actually is.”

      I am wondering too. There are several possible reasons why he is not shutting this down (a nice little who stroke to have an “office girlfriend”, no feelings for LW and thus unaffected by the comments, trying to not fuel the behaviour, uncomforable with conflict and so on), but they all come down to the fact that he does not have LWs back when she is being unfairly attacked.
      “Reign your girlfriend in”, as if LW was some attachment and no employee of her own? This is not ok.

      LW, imagine Lucas was some old, grumpy, unattractive man and the same things were being said. How would this make your feel? Address this.
      I do agree that your behaviour might be more obvious than you think and Jane ids just picking up on this. But do not minimize the inappropriateness because you feel caught. She is a manger and has other ways to address conflict.

    5. Jessica*

      The amount of victim-blaming going on here is sort of astonishing.

      There is literally no action a female coworker can take that would justify telling her manager to “control his girlfriend.” Even if she actually *were* his girlfriend.

      Literally nothing justifies a coworker uttering that sentence in a workplace.

      Zilch. Nada. Zero.

      Obviously it’s harmful to both LW and Lucas. It’s also harmful to any other women in the vicinity who don’t witness that sort of blatant misogyny get immediately shut down, and *hard.*

      It’s also astonishing how much people want to read “friendly and a little flirty” as “blatantly flirting to such an intense degree that truly, who can blame poor Jane for harassing LW? I mean, yes, Jane needs to stop, but LW is asking for it.”

      LW didn’t give an example of what she means by “friendly and a little flirty.” But “a little flirty,” given society’s penchant for oversexualizing women, can be something as anodyne as light, work-appropriate, non-sexual teasing.

      (I, an asexual woman, and my very openly gay creative partner regularly had our manager be like “are you SURE you two aren’t secretly dating?” because we engaged in very non-sexual, normal workplace banter. People apparently cannot conceive of friendship between men and women, even when neither party is straight.)

      And I’d say that she needs to err on the side of caution and be very restrained in her interactions with him precisely *because* we’re already in a culture primed to read false positives into women’s behavior, so it’s doubly important when it’s not a false positive, when someone *is* actually attracted to someone else and has already been harassed over it.

      Companies can be even more victim-blaming than this comment section, and if something more serious than Jane’s harassment happens (e.g. something sours in her relationship with Lucas and he decides to be punitive), she needs to protect herself. Insofar as she can. Generally there’s no “safe” or “proper” behavior for a woman experiencing harassment–you won’t be seen as completely innocent no matter what you do.

      But all the LW said is that her behavior is “friendly and a little flirty.”

      That’s not really any actual information about what’s going on. What she’s characterizing as “a little flirty” could be anything from openly sexual banter to the sort of light, work-appropriate humor that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if it were between two women or two men and is only flirtation *because* the LW is attracted to Lucas.

      But the only actually identifiable problem behavior here is Jane’s. If the LW and Lucas are actually being inappropriate in a way that legitimately makes Jane uncomfortable or there’s evidence of actual favoritism on Lucas’s part or whatever, Jane had the option to go to Lucas’s manager or to HR. To handle it in a professional, non-harassing way.

      There is nothing LW or Lucas could be doing that justifies misogynist harassment of LW.

      Full stop.

      1. Joron Twiner*

        If even OP understands their behavior is “a little flirty”, then it is unlikely it is “light, work-appropriate”. There is no reason to downplay OP’s behavior–this isn’t a case where OP has been accused of flirting but doesn’t mean to, OP knows they are flirting. You just shouldn’t be flirting with your manager, regardless of gender.

    1. AJ*

      So can ending thoughts with elipses. Really, anything *can* come across as rude and hostile in text. It’s a very inexact medium, especially these days as nobody is using a standardized rulebook.

      1. Kara*


        I established a LinkedIn account years ago because it was one of those new social media sites that I felt like I should be on. Since then I’ve changed jobs and I have to admit that I have not updated my LinkedIn because it has absolutely nothing to do with my current position and no effect on where I am now. Every now and then I think I should update it to reflect my current job and then I get sidetracked and never get it done. I think you’re looking at LinkedIn as being more important than it is and I think you should let it go.

        1. DannyG*

          Same here. Was in a semi-administrative position (clinical coordinator) and hospital system wanted everyone at or above on LinkedIn. I moved back to a regular role a few years later and haven’t used since then. Never did see any particular use for it anyway.

        2. Barrie*

          Same. I can’t imagine being so invested in an ex colleagues social media profile that it would bother me and make me assume they were “riding the coat tails” of their old job. Just let it go and realise not everyone actively uses, or cares about, social media!

          1. MassMatt*

            Yeah, it definitely seemed like the LW had a bee in their bonnet about the former employee (especially over six months later!) I can’t imagine spending time scrutinizing the Linked In profile of a former employee, especially one who was not very good.

            Unless they spelled out their resignation in fish or something.

          2. Selena81*

            tbf that is absolutely a thing that people do: ‘forgetting’ to update LinkedIn when they become unemployed.

            How much of a lie it is depends on how actively they use LinkedIn to promote themselves (as in: is it believable that it was an oversight or have they been revamping their whole profile?)

        3. OP4*

          This person is active on linked in and typically does keep it up to date. We are connected and so his posts show up in my news feed (posts include his name and title).

          However, Alison and all of you are right and I will just ignore it and move on!

      2. alice??!!*

        100%. i’m someone who uses a lot of double exclamation points and question marks, and it’s also pretty common among my coworkers. some of that is probably generational, and also we all just communicate with one another pretty informally. my boss and people above me also talk like this, and it’s never occurred to me to take it any way other than us being comfortable with each other

      3. OMG, Bees!*

        One exchange I had on Reddit accidently came off at rude to other person when I used “FYI” for some formatting types when I was generally trying to be helpful (and usually well received). But I realize that if someone in person were to say to me “FYI” it would feel rude, vs saying the full phrase.

        Text can oddly change depending on how someone interprets tone that is missing from in person.

    2. Dove*

      A former manager I worked with seemed to use them to sound a little more “casual” when asking for something. Which was a bit odd, as they were very senior to me.

    3. Fishmen*

      You have a choice in how to interpret double question marks. Make the choice to assume good intentions.

      1. Allonge*

        Exactly. Something that works for me in a situation like this, when I am already low-key annoyed and I need to redirect that: use it as a trigger for something minor that is healthy or useful but I tend to forget to do.

        So ?? now means – I stand up and walk around to stretch a bit, or look away from the screen for 20 seconds to give my eyes a rest. Save what I am working on. Fill in timesheet. Whatever works.

        1. Smithy*

          This is brilliant.

          In this situation, the choice to ?? may come from a place where the intention is to draw attention – but it’s that degree where the greater risk is of tone policing all communication which can creates a far more antagonistic environment for everyone.

          Some people will use lots of ellipses, or text in bold, italics, lots of exclamation marks – deciding which of these is most annoying or passive aggressive or just aggressive is such a quick way to end up in a place with your coworkers where you’re just not giving them a lot of wiggle room.

          That all being said. We’re people. And people can be real irritating. And we also need to do things like go to the toilet, get another cup of tea, do a timesheet, etc. So again, this is great advice to remember that as irritating as something like this can be – the chances that something we do being just as annoying to someone else is almost guaranteed. And if it’s that we’re starting emails with “hope everything’s going well” (or not starting with any niceties and just diving into work), how irritating it’d be to be policed about that. When they had the option to just take a deep breath.

        2. Jiminy Cricket*

          I think I’ll start doing this, and I’ll get 9,000,000 extra steps in every day, thanks to one coworker in particular.

          (And, in her case, I know it does indicate annoyance, but I’m going to let that be her problem.)

        3. House On The Rock*

          I love this, thank you. It’s a great, positive response to the BEC tendencies we all have every so often!

        4. J*

          This is the smartest thing ever. I have a boss who is obsessive about one topic and will derail everything to bring it up. I’m going to do exactly what you said and take a walk each time. One, then I won’t be present to scream and two, I’m going to have a less negative association over time (hopefully).

      2. Jade*

        But it’s not.

        Did you finish the report?

        Did you finish the report??

        There’s a difference and not a good one.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I think it is different when they habitually use double question marks though. Not that I’m sure I’d even notice a difference between those two, but yeah, if they use more question marks that usual, it can imply urgency, but if they always use two, I think it doesn’t really make sense to interpret it as hostile.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            ? is just a genuine question, checking up on something
            ?? there’s an implication that the person has already asked about the report and is fed up about asking for it, or it could express pleasant surprise that they have finished it, or the report is overdue. Emotions are running higher, whatever those emotions are.

            1. Also-ADHD*

              I would assume style if they always use them like LW example, but I’d pretty much never assume it meant they’d asked before. I assume stuff like is showing confusion/uncertainty (like maybe unsure if the person even was asked to do the report so it wasn’t on them), surprise (not in the case you write), informality, or even typo before it would seem rude to me.

              I never use ?? Because it just seems grammatically bad to me, personally, though I’ll use an interrobang sometimes (?!) to convey tone in text. But ?? making is clearly varied, so worrying about it is just wasted. I think any informality added to workplace communication might offend someone and so can being totally formal. If it truly bothers LW, they should just talk about it, but makes more sense to let it go.

              1. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

                Eh, this varies a lot. It can just convey enthusiasm or general peppyness.

                Exactly! After a discussion at work we found essentially different generations were using punctuation differently (and it wasn’t always translating). Some of our older gen x/baby boomer staff were using ellipses to soften the end of emails/texts, while I’ve only ever read and used those passively aggressively (not in a work context). I use exclamation points to convey enthusiasm/not being upset by something in an email and another coworker said exclamation points came across as shouting to her.

                Since that discussion I’ve tried not to read too much into email punctuation. I also noted that the intention on the part of the sender generally tended toward softening/making an email more casual (although I do happen to work in a more women dominated industry).

                1. Nicosloanica*

                  Yeah. And just because it varies by age doesn’t mean the young person is automatically wrong and needs to cut it out in order to be professional. It reminds me of the old debate about smiley faces and exclamation points in emails, with women saying they felt they needed to “soften” their message that way or risk coming across badly.

          2. Selena81*

            I’d definitely notice the difference: using ? versus ?? versus ??? is an important signifier of emotion on social media.

            But not everybody is chronically online, and if the coworker always writes like that it can probably be filed as just a weird quirk.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes I am coming to the conclusion that people on here think about these things a lot more than I do. I would tend to assume that someone just pressed the button twice or held it down too long. This is assuming I noticed it at all.

            1. Alanis*

              When reading these posts I often wonder if I am particularly insensitive. I would have noticed the double question mark thing and written it off as a little quirk. I’m trying to think of any punctuation mark that would cause me to collect multiple examples and write into an advice columnist and I can’t. Though I do hate the ellipses quirk and I have not yet run across the missing period quirk.

              1. Irish Teacher*

                I think it’s more that we all have our personal irritations and people tend to be more likely to comment about the things they do find irritating than the things they barely notice and given the high number of people who read this site, even if one person in 20 is annoyed by something, it will seem like a lot when they all comment about how irritating they find it.

                Add in the number of different cultures, age gaps, work fields, etc, we have represented here and it’s hardly surprising if people have very different perspectives. If somebody has worked in a place where something was regularly used as a veiled criticism, I can see them wondering if it’s the same elsewhere.

                1. Allonge*

                  Not to mention that people commenting on boards like this tend to have the ‘overthinking’ portion of the population overrepresented in the first place.

              2. alienor*

                I would think the same – just a quirk, nothing to do with me. There are ways to use punctuation aggressively (Get. That. Report. In. On. Time.) but double question marks don’t feel like one of them.

                On a side note, I was rereading some of my favorite childhood books recently, and I noticed that beloved author Judy Blume is the biggest ellipsis abuser of them all. Still love her books to pieces, but wow, you’d think she was getting paid for each set of ellipses she used!

                1. Pyjamas*

                  Years ago, I read The Magic Treehouse books, which are chock full of incomplete sentences, aloud to my child. I got over the knee-jerk annoyance but puzzled whether I was indirectly teaching my kid bad grammar.
                  Epilogue: she’s in mid-twenties and her grammar is fine

          2. Lily Rowan*

            Totally. I got a message from my mother the other day that was like, “When is X thing happening??” And my first gut reaction was a little WTF, but then I realized it meant nothing.

          3. Butterfly Counter*


            “Well, this person doesn’t know how question marks work. Their finger must have slipped.”

            Even if they are putting extra meaning in the extra mark, I can chose not to see it.

        2. Fiona*

          There’s absolutely no difference to me.

          This post is the first I’m hearing about double question marks being interpreted in this way, and it’s wild to me. I have literally never noticed or cared.

          If it bothers you, it’s because you’ve chosen to interpret it a certain way. You can make different choices.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            That drastically underestimates the role convention plays in communication.

            Of course customary or widespread usage matters. It doesn’t matter that your mom likes to send lots of love at the end of her emails to you – you’re still going to wince if she quickly rattles off “Uncle Fergus has died lol”.

              1. Pyjamas*

                lol means laughing out loud to me as well. Lots of love is xoxoxo or ❤️ or even <3

                In fact, I often use lol instead of that final period lol

                1. Pyjamas*

                  And it’s possible that if Uncle Fergus was always smashing up his zillion dollar sports-cars while refusing to pay child support to a half-dozen minor children and embroiling the extended family in nonsense lawsuits, I might even text, “Uncle Fergus has died lol” and mean it :)

            1. Two Fish*

              That happened in the comic strip “Pickles.” Opal Pickles thought lol meant lots of love.

              OT, I read a fun fact that during World War II, telegrams in the US were sent on a 48-hour delay in case they were communications by the enemy. Someone submitted the message, “Father is dead.” The operator thought that was rather blunt, so he changed it to “Father is deceased“ and sent it on its way.

              Later the sender received the response, “Is father dead or deceased?”

          2. amoeba*

            Huh, interesting. I would literally never have thought anybody could interpret that in any different way than annoyance (in this context).

            I mean, if the coworker uses double question marks for everything, I’d probably let it go – and warn my team to not take it personally, it’s just the way she types. But if I encountered that for the first time without prior information, I’d definitely assume she was really annoyed by the mistake and wanted to make that very clear.

            1. Purpleshark*

              I think that in this instance it is such a low-stakes thing that I would likely ask her. “What’s up with the double question marks?” There seems to be a point at which we think that our response is everybody’s response and that is not always the case. My thought is to check in first.

              1. Purpleshark*

                So I did a search and I found that there is an established meaning. It read: If double question marks are used, it is clearly to emphasize something in return, usually from the shock of the previous thing said, to express a strong emotion. For example, if I said:- ‘My dog just died’ Someone may reply. ‘Really??’

                1. amoeba*

                  Yeah, exactly. And adding emphasis to criticism/critical questions reads as annoyance/impatience.

          3. bamcheeks*

            I’m the opposite: I love reading, writing and the subtleties and nuances of text convention. I understand that not everyone likes thinking about it and analysing it as much as I do, so I wouldn’t get overly upset about it, but I think it’s both fun to understand and discuss the conventions, and valuable because it means you’re noticing when you’re narked or upset about someone’s abruptness in text. I think it’s easier to be conscious of why someone’s tone in text bothers you and make a decision not to respond to it emotionally than to respond unconsciously and not notice that you’re doing so!

        3. Michelle Smith*

          I 100% agree. One of those is a normal question and one of those is a hostile question. I have a colleague that I’m forced to work with who frequently uses … to end questions or comments (It’s frequently things like “Okay…” in an email). It drives me BONKERS.

          And if LW2’s colleague was the one writing in, I think we’d all tell them to cut it the heck out and write “normally,” regardless of their intent, because the double question marks can be perceived as aggressive and rude. But that’s not who’s writing in. And I did stop being as annoyed with my ellipsis-abusing colleague when I noticed he frequently does this in emails with other people (so it’s not just me) and when it’s pretty clear from the sentences he’s using that him being annoyed or aggressive just doesn’t quite make sense. Like I have known this guy for a while now and if he has something pointed he needs to say, he’ll say it. So I think the advice to take the question marks less personally makes sense – it’s a very good chance given all the information provided in the letter that it’s not about LW2 and it’s just an annoying quirk.

        4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yeah I’d read it the same as DID YOU FINISH THE REPORT? I don’t care if their caps lock key is stuck and they don’t know how to unstick it, it comes across as irritated and angry at the report possibly being unfinished, or angry that they have to ask for something I should’ve sent to them long ago.

          In this case though, honestly I’d ask the person, since they apparently use ?? all the time and may not realize how they come across.

        5. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          “There’s a difference” is technically true, but “not a good one” is a value judgment you are making. This means you have the power to simply take a question at face value and not try to divine the feelings and intent of the person who wrote it.

          You will save yourself a lot of time and heartache by not assuming anything about the tone you perceive when you read work emails. I’m not saying your perception is always wrong; I am saying that you’ll be wrong half the time and the other half the time it probably serves you better not to indulge the folks who punctuate peevishly rather than communicate their feelings and problems directly, like adults do.

          By letting this stuff bounce off you, you get clearer communication, you stop borrowing someone else’s responsibility to manage and address their own feelings, and you get to dodge any internal bias you may have.

          1. Blue Macaw*

            This is such great advice..

            Stop being invested in being right, in this case, about the ill intentions of the person writing an email, and be more invested in addressing the question.

      3. Really?*

        True. Just noted a generational difference— as an old English major that tends to write formally, I had no idea that ?? was meant to covey urgency. If I had thought about it at all (doubtful), I would have assumed it was a typo or that their keyboard stuck….

        1. Modesty Poncho*

          As an editor, this is why I change it to three punctuation marks if it’s intentional LOL two looks like a mistake, three is clearly supposed to be there.

          I’m not sure I’d have noticed the double punctuation except as a weird quirk. But I’m also autistic and literal-minded so it’s harder for me to project intention.

      4. Nicosloanica*

        Yeah reading this blog is going to drive me insane. It feels like when I was a entry level employee and everyone criticized me for verbal uptick, speaking too quietly, or (literally this happened) “speaking too high, people will take you more seriously if you learn to lower your vocal range” (whew, the misogyny was thick with that one). I was 21, my voice was my voice, and people needed to learn how to listen to my voice. Now, mild quirks like double exclamation points in informal communication, which are intended to convey enthusiasm generally, or any mild habit stemming from social media – and guess which demographic tends to engage most with that – is going to be somebody’s massive pet peeve and they’re apparently assuming all sorts of ill intentions from it. Grr.

        1. ConstantlyComic*

          The difference is that text habits are easier to control and adjust than vocal register and also judged relative to a pretty well-established language standard. Also, double exclamation points read very differently to (and more aggressively than) double question marks. The stuff you’ve had to put up with sucks, but I think this situation is slightly different.

          1. Gemstones*

            This all seems so incredibly subjective, though. There’s one commenter here who thinks double question marks call her ability to do her job into question…others are saying double exclamation marks are aggressive. But I’m sure there are just as many people who don’t care at all and who in fact care so little they’re just not weighing in. It all seems like small potatoes in the end.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          If the comments on a particular post are upsetting, it’s perfectly normal and reasonable to step away. I’ve had to do that on more than one occasion. I still think there is value though in you learning what things people are annoyed by. As you can see, what you see as a mild habit from social media, many other people will see as aggression. I think it’s good to know that kind of thing, regardless of whether it causes you to change anything about how you type or speak. It could be one of those things where you’re like, screw anyone who judges me for something so small. And honestly, that’s your prerogative. But if something you do is grating on the people around you who you need to collaborate with or get positive reviews from for professional advancement, wouldn’t you like to know what that thing is so at least you can make an informed decision about it?

        3. MigraineMonth*

          Interesting, I actually had the opposite interpretation. I thought the OP was annoyed specifically because they are tuned in to how double question marks are used in social media (as an expression of heightened emotion). The irritation isn’t that the colleague is using them, it’s that they’re using them without understanding the social media-informed usage.

          I’m sorry you were told to change your voice and way of speaking. No one should be told their voice isn’t worth listening. I’ve noticed our culture has a simultaneous obsession with and utter distain for young women, and it’s not okay.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Hmm, I use these myself and will have to rein it in. Mainly as an indication of a rhetorical question or something I’m wondering about (we really need a specific punctuation mark for that) such as “will the customer go for a 2 week delay??” or “should we be adding functionality at this point??”. I wonder if people think I am directly asking them in a slightly aggressive way (I am normally direct but not ‘aggressive’). I do think in the cases in the letter they are just her “style”, but also agree that C can come off as aggressive because it seems like an accusation.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yeah, I sometimes use them to support of signal imagination plus excitement? I’m realizing it’s hard to explains specific tone of voice that goes with the spoken equivalent, like, “Do you think there will be an open bar??” or “Is Phil going to retire and name Lami as his successor at the next all-staff??” Like I’m excitedly inviting you to engage in speculation with me just for fun, not because I need to know the answer, so feel free to throw out your wildest ideas or the most dubiously sourced rumors you’ve heard!

        Sometimes it’s also a kind tongue in cheek thing where I know I’m asking about something really boring and the extra punctuation is there ironically. “we’re officially using 16 point font instead of 15 going forward. wasn’t that totally worth the half hour debate it took??”

        I’m not sure either of those are what’s going on with LW’s coworker, but there’s definitely a context where they can be intended to signal excitement rather than hostility.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I agree that using punctuation outside formal conventions is a tone marker, but possibly less specific. Just kind of “exaggerated tone here”. So sometimes it’s excited, sometimes angry, sometimes ecstatic, etc.

          1. archangelsgirl*

            I like “exaggerated tone”. A close friend has high anxiety about everything. The higher her anxiety, the more question marks, ranging from “What do you know about the new boss????” “I couldn’t find potato salad do you think macaroni is okay for your bbq potluck??”to, “Didn’t you think Ryan Gosling was just awesome as Ken??” She’s just anxious. She needs information to address her anxiety. She’s also one of those annoying people that asks a dozen people the same question (see what do you know about the new boss). You see all the question marks and drop everything to answer/reassure her, and then she goes, “I know, Jane and Cersis already told me.” Or, “You’re wrong (I tend to try to pat her down on the side of silver lining), Jane and Cersis say boss is a monster!!!” So, she has other endearing qualities and I love her, like loyalty, dedication and expertise in our work, etc. It’s a quirk or a tic. It was annoying at first, but now I’m used to it, and I don’t even pay much attention to it. I also don’t drop everything to answer if I’m not directly involved (potato salad). Learning that took a little longer.

          2. Xennial Punctuator*

            Yes, I like the “exaggerated tone” framing too. I think I use it to indicate surprise, and it’s most likely to come up as an IM to someone else on a large group online meeting as a “have we really agreed to that??” type query. I would use it with peers, my boss or senior subordinates and occasionally by email with external people I collaborate with, but always with people that I work with closely, and of course never in any formal communication.

            In the examples in the question, the third is actually the one that reads most naturally to me – but I would read it as surprised querying rather than accusatory. I’m sure the LW is right about the tone here, which no doubt is informed by other context clues, but I think it could be read differently in isolation.

        2. amoeba*

          Yup, it can definitely be both. For me, it just signals excitement, in general. So, either positive excitement (“Did you hear there was going to be a pizza party on Friday??”) but if used in a negative context, like criticism, definitely “negative excitement” – annoyance, accusation.

          I mean, it’s a coworker, so I’d probably let it go. But if I were managing them, I’d let them know how it comes across (also because even the non-negative ones read quite unprofessionally to me unless it’s actually about stuff like pizza parties with your work friends!)

        3. Drag0nfly*

          There’s already a punctuation style for that, which is the interrobang, which looks like: !?

          So, “Do you think there will be an open bar!?”

          I see interrobangs in novels sometimes, and thought they were commonplace. To me, excess “?” indicates extreme confusion on the part of the person using it. You use more than one exclamation point, and I interpret that as excitement and shouting. You use more than one question mark and I interpret that as befuddlement. You use an interrobang, and I know you’re excited about the question you’re asking: “Is it true we’re getting raises!?”

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            The convention is to put the question mark first and then the exclamation mark. Or to combine them into a proper interrobang, thus: ‽

            (I often use interrobangs in text messages, because they’re fun and easy to access on my phone keyboard.)

            1. Katie Impact*

              Some people can get surprisingly insistent about that convention. As my old supervisor used to say, it’s an interrobang, not a banginterro.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Mad props to your instructor for choosing this as the molehill where they will make their stand. (Also, I agree with them as to which one looks correct for expressing emotions in the right order.)

                Also, as a symbol, TRIG’s example is obviously a levitating P.

              2. interplanet janet*

                I reject your reality and replace it with my own!?

                (to me, the flat being “inside” the curve just *feels* more right)

            2. Drag0nfly*

              I don’t have that key, though I’ve seen that symbol. Usually from European sources, I think. Ironically, that symbol is what had me thinking I must have misremembered the order of the punctuation in “?!” because it looks like the ! is preceding the ? in the mashup. But as Katie Impact says, it’s interro ? bang !

            3. Phony Genius*

              I find the word “interrobang” more fun than the symbol, in which the question mark part seems to drown out the exclamation point.

          2. And thanks for the coffee*

            I was completely unaware of interrobangs until reading this section. Where have they been all my life? I would not have known about their meaning. This stuff is really so interesting. No wonder we have misunderstandings.

          1. ampersand*

            Bwahahahaha! Okay there is no way to read that as anything other than not chill. I love it.

            And I personally think it proves the point that multiple of any punctuation reads as very different than just one.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        Those question marks do not indicate rhetorical question to me. I haven’t seen them used that way before. It reads to me as you exasperatedly asking instead of generally wondering. Could it not be reframed as “I’m not sure the customer will go for a 2 week delay.” or “I don’t think we should be adding functionality at this point because of X.” instead of as a question?

    5. Oatmeal Mom*

      To me it signals puzzlement or urgency.

      E.g. “Have you checked the files in our Teams folder for instructions on this??” implying confusion as to why I haven’t done that already. It could be a bit rude depending on context.

      Or “Can you get the Cornflakes Report to me??” is adding urgency to the request.

      I wouldn’t use it at work at all unless my finger slipped on the keyboard before hitting ‘send’. In personal communication it’s completely fine.

      1. English Rose*

        Puzzlement yes, urgency no. I quite like the lightly passive-aggressive use in the sense of “Did you read the manual??” but for urgency, you’re going to ask for the cornflakes report by 10:00 am tomorrow, no question marks.

        1. Allonge*

          I think one of the key takeaways from this discussion is that there is no One True agreed meaning, so using it to mean a specific thing is of course ok but very likely coworkers will read it in different ways, if they notice at all and attribute meaning.

          So if someone wants to be sure that it’s taken as a rhetorical / excited / urgent at work, they need to spell that out, just as you say for a deadline.

    6. Brain the Brian*

      In my office, it definitely would. No one uses them here. But it’s very, very context- and culture- dependent, like all communication quirks.

      FWIW, we also don’t use “stand-up” when referring to meetings where I work. Saying that would get blank, confused states in return.

      1. TechWorker*

        ‘Stand-up’ refers to a specific type of meeting (in the ‘agile’ sense, a short daily meeting where you literally stand up). Using it to refer to meetings in general would also get you weird looks in places that use that workflow.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          We would call such a meeting a “daily check-in.” But most of my coworkers wouldn’t even know the term at all.

    7. bamcheeks*

      I completely agree– they add urgency and a bit of surprise/horror, and sometimes that’s appropriate if the surprise/horror is directed elsewhere (“have you heard they’ve just cancelled our week’s PTO??”) and sometimes it feels like it’s directed at the reader (“you cancelled our PTO??”)

      BUT the fact that LW’s co-worker is using them in pretty much every context suggests she’s not seeing them that way, and thinks they’re just an unmarked alternative to a single question mark. If I were her manager I’d let her know how it comes across, but I think as a colleague Alison’s right that you can just remind yourself that she uses them for everything and let it go.

    8. kiki*

      It can, but some people us it to convey excitement or being very curious. I personally find it super annoying when coworkers first send me a chat with just “Hi!” before sending over the content of the message, but I’m sure some of those folks find it jarring when I send them a lengthy single message containing the salutation and explanation of what I need.

      This all to say that working with people is weird and there are some things that it is healthier to just let go.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Let it goooo!! Let it goo??? Can’t hold you back any more!! Let it goooo?! Let it gooo!! Turn away and slam the door!!

      2. Mr. Shark*

        I’m fine with someone sending a Hi! first and then immediately sending their message. I don’t like just the Hi! and then nothing. Or the “can I ask you a question”? (whether there is one question mark or two) Just ask the question!!

    9. Cat Tree*

      I actually have a coworker who uses !! in group Teams chats and it comes off as very aggressive in any context. He’s junior to me but we don’t work together closely enough for me to give him feedback about it. But people definitely notice.

      1. Gemstones*

        How do you know, though? Are you guys actually talking about it? I can’t imagine ever noticing that…

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      So often we say that email isn’t good at conveying tone, but here are emails conveying too much tone.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That is the irony, isn’t it?

        None of these questions would even be questions if people would just take the time (about 30 additional seconds) to just use standard grammar and punctuation, and take the additional time (maybe another 30 seconds) to add the context.

        “Are the TPS reports ready? I asked yesterday and was told they would be ready by 10:00 this morning.”

        1. Allonge*

          This. We had a similar discussion on an emoji here a few years(?) back, same result – a lot of people were convinced it meant something specific, but there were 3-4 different ‘solutions’.

          Something that works in a friend group on a text message to convey emotion may not be clear enough for business communication even with people you work with regularly, and worse, can be misinterpreted quite badly. Write five more words.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I think it’s interesting that people perceive non-standard grammar or punctuation as about speed or lack of care. This probably varies, but it’s certainly not faster for me to use non-standard punctuation or capitalisation. For me it’s a form of humour and connection, exactly the same way that I’d use a joke or a short-hand reference to a TV show or slang or whatever. It’s more, “you’ll get this, and hopefully you’ll find it funny” than speed.

          1. Allonge*

            For me it’s a form of humour and connection

            Flahbulb moment for me, so thank you: it’s the (lack of) connection where this goes wrong. If I am left wondering why someone finishes… all their sentences… with an interrobang?!!? Then the connection goes into negative numbers.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Emails absolutely convey tone, the issue is that they often convey and unintended tone. If I’m having a face-to-face or video conversation with someone, I can use body language, expression, vocal tone and words to convey meaning. I can also read the other person’s response and correct if I’m coming across differently than I intend.

        I once had to explain to a coworker who was responding to me with very short emails (e.g. “No.” “I can’t help with that.” “Why are you asking me?”) was coming across as rude. She immediately called not only to say that’s not what she intended, but to thank me for pointing it out. Apparently she’d been getting annoyed reactions to her emails for a while and now she knew why.

    11. Office Lobster DJ*

      Adding extra question marks does emphasize a sentence, although sometimes it’s more about confusion or sharing exasperation than hostility. Ditto extra exclamation points.

      To LW, I can see why it can get to you, but look at it this way: Either it’s just a habit and she means nothing by it OR she does means something by it, in which case she’s doing a terrible job of communicating and needs to use her words. In either case, just ignore it and proceed as if it didn’t carry any implications.

    12. sacrealgoecc*

      ?? sends fear through my body. Being helpful and responsive is part of my brand and ?? suggests I have failed at one of these things.

    13. Medium Sized Manager*

      We hired somebody earlier in the year who consistently uses three question marks with every question, and it took me a little bit to get used to it. To me, there’s a stark difference in tone between “Can you send me the report?” and “Can you send me the report???” but she approaches every question like that.

    14. the once and future thing*

      Oh man, as a card-carrying member of Gen Z, these comments are terrifying! I use “??” and “!!” and “…” and “:)” in internal, informal communications regularly.
      I do think it’s generational! For people my age, emoting (any emotion) is a kindness—it’s meant to show investment, camaraderie, etc. Conversely, emails/texts with only periods (or without any grammatical tone indicators) make my stomach drop. That’s how I write when I want to sound terse.
      In my office, where our ages run from 20s to 70s, we type with a range of tonal defaults. I assume good faith for folks who only write in comic sans and never use exclamation points. I hope they do the same for me.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Young GenX here, and was always under impression that as a woman, I should be really refraining from emoting too much in professional communications like e-mail, as not look too cutesy and girly. And never ever, absolutely never never ever use emoji.
        If I see a work e-mail with too many ??? or !!! or ….. or emojies, it would look jarring.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Elder Gen X and engineer here and chuckling. Most of the time, I don’t need or want to know what anyone else’s emotional state is. And I measure investment and camaraderie by results, not intentions.

        I just want to know if the server got delivered to the field office, who’s replacing Nancy as the approver for purchases over $10k, whether anybody is familiar with an alternative vendor for left-handed widgets, etc.

        So for the server question you could answer (1) “Yes, here’s the UPS signature link.”, or (2) “No, but I’m calling the facilities manager at 2:00 and I’ll fill you in then.”, or (3) “Oh, maybe?? I’ll try to find out!!” Options 1 and 2 aren’t friendly, but give me actionable data. Option 3 is friendly, but has zero actual informational content.

    15. Polly Sprocket*

      Interesting! A single question mark often comes off as rude and hostile to me, so I often use the double question mark when I want to come off as more casual/less urgent.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The “less urgent” meaning definitely wouldn’t come through for me! I interpret repeated question or exclamation marks as intensifiers. So for me:

        Did you send me the report? => simple question
        Did you send me the report?? => excited/anxious/urgent question
        Did you send me the report??? => OMG, THE WORLD IS ENDING

        Of course, these can also be used for humor/exaggeration. One of my favorite uses of punctuation is the substitution of a period for the question mark for deadpan intonation, as in: “What.”

    16. Crap Game*

      I think it may be a generational thing. My young adult children use ?? exclusively. It doesn’t have a greater meaning beyond “I’m excited!” I know this intellectually, but I still get annoyed every time I get a text saying “are we going to the pumpkin patch this year??” I don’t know, are we? You’re 19 and have a way more complicated work schedule than me, maybe suggest a day. But the same question with a single question mark annoys me much less “oh, we could. When do you want to go?”
      I don’t see my kids changing or me being able to feel differently in the moment, so it’s just one of those generational things. I know my dad hates it when I don’t use punctuation to end texts, so we’re just comfortable with what we know.

    17. EC*

      I don’t know about rude, but definitely unprofessional. Don’t use teen text speak in official communications, proper grammar only. No double punctuation, no trailing off with ellipses.

  2. Not sure what standing means*

    Re #1: “Tell him Jane’s comments are making you deeply uncomfortable and feel like harassment and you don’t feel you have standing to address it with her because she’s senior to you, but you’re asking him to.”

    What exactly does “having standing” mean? In my mind, the LW 100% has *standing* – i.e., the right, the capital, etc – to address it. Whether or not she feels *safe* to do so with someone senior to her is a different matter. No?

  3. Allonge*

    LW3 – aargh, I would be furious. Especially if it was communicated so late in the process – of course if there is a work-related reason, they are considering it but this is something you share as soon as possible, so people can change / make plans accordingly. Even if someone was not planning to be out of town, kids need supervision and all that.

    For what it’s worth, I totally agree that this is something lots of people might leave over – I would say that everyone who can afford it, might do it immediately and take the trip or whatever they already have planned. Or just report sick on the day of or whatever.

      1. Fikly*

        Hah, good luck getting that.

        LW3, why are you trying to reduce your and your coworker’s angst over this? You are not responsible for your company being exactly what they are. Start job searching today, and encourage everyone else to do so.

        1. D*

          Funny, most places I’ve worked would have actually given credence for costs incurred because of their own changes and considered it.

          1. Cat Tree*

            Yeah, my company already has a policy of covering backup childcare, even if it’s not the employer’s “fault” (like when my kid is excluded from daycare due to illness). Some companies definitely would cover these expenses but I’m doubtful that LW’s is one of those.

          2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            This is a place that already pays below market compensation. They made a change to hire more people, now they are thinking of pulling the incentive. There’s a term for that — bait and switch.

            A company who does that isn’t going to reimburse lost expenses. They will just blame the employee and claim they should have known work needed to be done that week anyway.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        I don’t think you’d get that at most companies, but you will absolutely get people doing the maths on whether it’s worth taking the financial hit of non-reimbursable vacations versus finding a new job. If it’s going to cost me a month’s salary to come in for an extra week’s work, I’m absolutely quitting to take that vacation.

        1. Helewise*

          And it’s not just reimbursement, either – our kids are the age where they’re not going to be living with us for much longer, so there aren’t that many more opportunities for trips with them. I wouldn’t cancel a trip like that for anything short of staying housed and fed.

    1. münchner kindl*

      Yes – it’s the combination of this apparently not being an urgent need and the cavalier way of breaking their promise that makes it a giant red flag.

      A good company who got a legitimate reason would: communicate this early and ask for volunteers who might change their holiday plans; explain the real urgent business reason for it; offer special compensation – bonus pay for that week, or the cost of rebooked tickets.

      The cavalier way management is acting, together with already underpaying, shows very clearly that management doesn’t care at all about their employees, they can’t even be bothered to think about the consequences.

      So people will start looking and leave, and will tell everybody they know, so bad company will find it even harder than earlier this year to get new employees.

      1. Cj*

        +100. the way the company is handling it is terrible, even if they do have a business reason for having people work that week.

        I’ve gotten the impression that Alison answers things within a month or so. it’s already october, and the company is going to take a few weeks yet to decide? that is terrible. anybody that booking plane tickets most certainly have them booked by now. what if they have something even more expensive, like a cruise, with non refundable tickets?

        I would definitely quit over this, especially if I was one of those hired recently counting on these days off. if I could afford to, I would do so immediately. if I can’t afford to quit on the spot, I would certainly start looking immediately.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Honestly, the fact that they’re considering this at all would be enough to make me start looking for a new job.

        This isn’t something I’d rage quit over, but it’s a massive indicator that the people at the top don’t value the needs of their staff, and I wouldn’t be willing to stay someplace like that in the long term.

        1. Enai*

          That or they are unable to plan a mere 10 weeks into the future (can happen in fields with volatile demand) _and_ unwilling to honestly communicate about it (unacceptable. Do better.) The latter is what would would make me walk away.

      3. El l*

        As so often true:

        Can management make employees do this? Yes

        Should they do this? No.

        Everything about this looks designed to alienate employees

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Preparing my small wager that it turns out the Important Holiday Rush threatening OP’s vacation will turn out to be the sort of thing where all the managers can have the time off. But this will only become evident to the employees that week.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Oh, I will not be taking you up on that wager, I don’t take sucker bets. That’s absolutely going to be what happens.

    3. Helewise*

      Yeah, I would leave over this. If I had a big planned vacation or similar I’d be giving my two weeks two weeks before Christmas, otherwise I’d just be immediately actively looking. I’ve learned over time that I can’t function well when I’m not treated with decency and respect – I think some people can brush that off, but I can’t. This is the sort of thing that’s a dealbreaker; it’s just “when” not “if” I leave.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Absolutely. I consider time off to be among my most valuable compensation. Losing a week of it and being told “too bad, so sad” would be enough to make me start looking. And what do you bet this place only offers two weeks leave otherwise. Maybe combined PTO …

    4. The Original K.*

      My friend’s employer (you’ve heard of it) pulled a version of this except the actually did take the day back (it wasn’t over Christmas). “We’re closed. Just kidding, everybody come in!” No apology, nothing, and with MUCH less notice. My friend’s boss told them to take the day anyway; bosses who upheld the rescinded day and made people come in did see turnover, and people called out sick or just didn’t come in because they had made plans for that day.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Yeah, I don’t know if I would straight-up quit, but if I had plans for nonrefundable travel over a work holiday, and then work pulled the holiday and told us to come in after all, with less than two months notice, with no clear need and an attitude as cavalier as this? I would probably just take my travel and not show up to work. (Probably also start job searching.) If the company wanted to fire me over it, we could argue with the unemployment folks as to whether it was justified or not, and if they didn’t, I would get my vacation as planned and leave as soon as I had a new job lined up.

    5. Sharkie*

      This! This is so scummy on the company’s side. People will leave over this, especially if the pay is bad.

      OP my company does a mandatory shut down for a week and if there is a business need for someone to work during shut down they a. get time and a half or a “bonus” equivalent to 50%(i think, it might be higher) of their pay that week if they are salaried and b. a week of vacation added to their PTO since they had to work that week. It is not that hard to make it up to people if they absolutely have to work during a shut down.
      However if they hiring for a spot on the team that might have to work during shutdown, they don’t drill it in as a guaranteed benefit!

    6. LAM*

      Maybe it’s my old job talking, but I wonder if them dragging their feet is to build excitement if they grant the time off. Aren’t they generous again?!

      Personally, doing things for show makes me less appreciative as I’m rolling my eyes at the attempt to drum up a certain response.

  4. Daria grace*

    #4, unless you can see that the person is very active on LinkedIn, it is by far the most likely they forgot. I’m finishing up at a job soon and have a list of all sorts of things to sort out. Until I read this letter it had not for a moment occurred to me to add updating LinkedIn to that list

    1. Turquoisecow*

      An old job I had ended almost ten years ago now when the company went bankrupt and laid off all the employees. Some of my former colleagues have never updated their LinkedIn accounts, even though I know they’re working.

      Some people update and log in to LinkedIn often, others only use it when they’re job hunting. Since this person already has another job, he probably just hasn’t thought about it. He might be holding off on purpose until he’s been there awhile, or he might just not have thought of it while he gets settled in the new job.

      I wouldn’t think anything of it.

    2. UKDancer*

      Yes I took one job for 6 months as a short term project to deliver something specific. The time sped by and I had moved onto another job in that company before I remembered to update Linked In. So I didn’t put the 6 month job down and it’s not on my Linked In bio.

      Not everyone views Linked In as a key thing to update and some people are barely active. I have several colleagues who have not updated it in ages because they don’t use it much.

    3. Red*

      You also can’t update jobs on LinkedIn if the end date is still in the future – so if you try to do it when you first get notice (or if you’re working temp/contract), you may not be able to do it.

      That issue popped up for me while trying to update my education, I’m not really sure why LinkedIn does it.

      1. Victoria Everglot*

        I can see them not wanting people to imply they have accomplishments/credentials they haven’t actually technically earned yet and may not actually get during the time period they put down, but they should just allow a “projected end date” in that case.

    4. Cat Tree*

      My LinkedIn has me at a job from 2 companies ago, over 4 years at this point. I only use LinkedIn when I’m actively job searching, which I’m usually not doing first thing when I start a new job so there’s no incentive to update it. I also hate the endless stream of recruiters contacting me any time I show up as recently active, let alone when I add new info to my work history.

    5. Cj*

      I think my LinkedIn profile has me working where I was three jobs ago. however, I won’t say that it’s not important.

      I did get my current job through recruiter that contacted me because of my LinkedIn profile. in my case, it didn’t really matter because I’ve been working in the same type of position in the same industry for decades. it would be different if your LinkedIn profile made it look like you’d been doing a certain type of job for 10 years, when you actually are doing different work now, and only did the type of work the recruiter is looking for for 2 years.

    6. Mockingjay*

      I’ve said it many times: LinkedIn is NOT official. It’s a social media site and there’s little to no vetting of what people post, not to mention people simply abandon accounts while their outdated info lingers in etherspace. Some people just engage in groups and comments on their feed, but never look at their own account. Etc.

      OP 4, kindly, this is a non-issue. Your former employee has no obligation to update his account.

    7. kiki*

      Yeah, it depends on industry, but in mine most of my peers use linkedin only when they are job searching or in random spurts. I think the most likely scenario is that this person forgot to make the update and/or hasn’t touched their linkedin since they got their new position.

      Unless this employee was, like, the CEO, I don’t think it’s harming or confusing anyone that this single employee has an out-of-date profile that still says they work at their old job.

    8. Nightengale*

      I made a Linked In account over a decade, 500 miles and two jobs ago because I needed an account to read an article someone shared with me. I have not updated it since and have forgotten the password. The result of this is that I get messages trying to recruit me for jobs in my old geographic area that are completely unrelated to my field.

      The really amusing result is when I got an e-mail from someone wanting me for a “women in my field” locally thing where they claim they got my name off Linked In. Since Linked In does not have me in my current city or even fully qualified in my field. . . nope.

    9. Katherine*

      I spent some time unemployed and could not find how to stop linkedin from saying I was still at my old job.

    10. Anon for this one*

      I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and I still forgot to update my profile for more than a year because it wasn’t my profile that I was looking at. I was looking at the news feed, job ads (which I needed an updated CV to apply for, not a LinkedIn profile), and sometimes other people’s profiles.

    11. Fellmama*

      Just today I went to someone’s LinkedIn and noticed it still has him listed at a former job, 2500 miles away. Given that he asked me this morning to take a promotion at his current organization . . . I think it’s safe to say he’s forgotten to update!

      #4 this is just such a non-issue. I don’t know much about LinkedIn–is it possible to block or mute profiles so it won’t bother you by popping up in your feed?

  5. Pyjamas*

    LW1: “this has aided in my developing a crush on him”

    It sounds like Jane, as awful and inappropriate as her behavior is, has picked up on your crush. I doubt it’s your job to bring Lucas beverages; is that part of the culture in your office? Do you bring other colleagues beverages? The first step is to modify the behavior you have complete control over: your own. Shut down the crush. Then hasten to HR. I agree with others that if Lucas was such a good manager—or indeed crush-worthy—he’d have shut down Jane’s remarks from the get go.

    1. Typing All The Time*

      Yes, back off from bringing him drinks or do anything that looks like there’s something more there.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yeah, it sounds like the “couple” behaviour is more overt than OP thinks. (And it is nothing to do with them being opposite gender, I would say that if the people were any gender) – Jane is going about it the wrong way with these teasing comments though of course. She should have spoken to Lucas directly already if she had concerns (or to someone in authority over both of them if she couldn’t approach him for some reason). Either she is genuinely concerned or she isn’t. Perhaps the teasing is a “subtle” way to tell them (OP and Lucas) to knock it off, the way some people present disliked information in a jokey tone. I have seen these sort of situations numerous times and they invariably make the office-mates uncomfortable.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        One thing about some of the “couple” behaviors LW described: it could just be the particular places I’ve worked, but I’m struggling to think of even one situation where a male co-worker has brought a beverage his boss or even a co-worker. Male co-worker bringing beverages to multiple people he manages, yes or to multiple people at a meeting he’s called when he is trying to strike a particular collegial tone or has called a meeting first thing or earlier than the usual work start time? Yes. But just because? Or just being the one who’s fetching beverage for both of them? Nope.

        Maybe once or twice in a group of early-career peers or interns? Maybe?

        My point is, where I’ve worked, that kind of work ‘caretaking’ was almost always done by women and often undermined their professional image because it read as some combination of subservient (like Mad Men secretaries bringing coffee to Don Draper) ‘work-mom’ or ‘work-wife’, and could lead to the woman with being the employee always volunteered for taking meeting notes, booking conference rooms and other non-promotable work. (That happened anyway no matter how women behaved but the drink fetching/caretaking amplified it)

        So LW should eliminate any and all caretaking/work-wife* behaviors towards this boss anyway, for their own professional standing.

        And then, yes, ask boss and/or HR to shut down Jane’s unprofessional comments, bullying.

    3. Observer*

      The first step is to modify the behavior you have complete control over: your own. Shut down the crush.

      I agree with shutting it down – at least the behavior. But the OP can head to HR / talk to Lucas right away. Because Jane is being at least as inappropriate as they are. On the other hand, if HR is not to great, it might be useful to change the behavior before going to them just to avoid them using that as an excuse for why Jane’s behavior is ok (which it’s not!)

    4. Pyjamas*

      Want to add that it’s natural to have a crush but rationally you know you aren’t seeing the whole person and the fact he’s your manager might be shading your perceptions. And the fact that he’s off limits make him seem like a safe person to crush on. But you’re already facing negative consequences. And if he seriously reciprocated, the last thing he’d do would be flirty with you at work. Again, didn’t mean to shame you for a natural emotion! Just-this sort of

      1. MigraineMonth*

        It’s good to remember that he probably farts at night, gets food stuck between his teeth, etc. Crushes are generally on idealized versions of people, not reality.

    5. MK*

      And, OP, it’s simply not true that “there is nothing between you”. There is inappropriate flirting at work and feelings on your part at least, that’s not nothing. There is a spectrum between “I am dating my boss” and “our behaviour is professional”, and it sounds like you are on the wrong side of it.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Agreed. LA and Lucas are not dating, and Jane’s “jokes” are out of line, but the flirting and the crush are more obvious than LW thinks. LW and Lucas need to crank it all back a bit.

    6. Pennyworth*

      I’m wondering how LW1’s coworkers feel, if they are also managed by Lucas. Flirting, bringing each other beverages etc could easily come across as favoritism. I would feel uncomfortable if my manager was behaving that way with a coworker. Lucas seems to have poor judgment.

    7. Jackalope*

      Just wanted to clarify a bit that the LW should change her behavior, but “shutting down the crush” is pretty much impossible. I’ve had times when I had a crush on someone that I knew would be a poor match for me, or wasn’t available to date me for some reason (supervisor, already taken, whatever). I tried really hard to keep my behavior appropriate for our actual real-life relationship, but there was nothing I could do to make the crush itself go away.

      That being said, I sometimes found it helpful to think through how I would act around someone else. Once you’re in the habit of a more familiar set of interactions with someone, it can be tricky to figure out how to dial that back a few notches. Thinking through “what would I say to my other boss/coworker/a random barista that I don’t know well” can help you figure that out.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I don’t think shutting down a crush is easy but you can definitely choose not to feed it. Spending time with your crush, joking with them, looking for moments of connection– whether it’s connecting over non-work stuff like “we’re both into high-altitude alpaca-trekking” or work stuff like “we both love the 4Rs model of llama rehabilitation”– these are all water and sunlight to a crush. When you stop seeking and start avoiding that kind of stuff, the crush doesn’t completely go away but it takes up a LOT less space in your mind.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          You can also go the other way and focus on your turnoffs. Remember he probably has awful morning breath, never remembers to put the cap on the toothpaste, etc.

          Or, you know, that he’s letting one of his peers embarrass and humiliate you and not doing anything about it.

      2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        This is not true. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. I had a ridiculous level crush on someone who had a girlfriend – for me, it was love at first sight; for him, it was Tuesday and he was just being friendly and charismatic like he was with everyone. It took me several months, but I was able to successfully destroy it by constantly reminding myself that he was not in love with me whenever I had a dreamy thought.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes, it can take perhaps more mental self-discipline than most people are used to exercising, but it can be done if you decide to make the effort.

          1. Jackalope*

            I agree that one can take actions to feed or starve a crush. Perhaps this is just semantics, but I still maintain that you cannot in fact change your feelings, and that’s not a realistic goal. Starving the crush of more fuel will probably eventually result in that, but your feelings don’t just do what you want them ton

      3. Boof*

        I’m going to echo others that while it’s true we can’t totally control how we feel, we often can influence and eventually often change how we feel. I certainly have been able to squash crushes in the past. I still LIKED the person but I realized any romantic intent was a hard nope and hard channeled my fantasies elsewhere; even fictional characters if needed. And I know everyone’s different but, well, that’s the point of cognitive behavioral therapy (for those who really need to change something and are really struggling with it). And finally, not acting flirty etc will certainly help.

    8. Artemesia*

      yeah the crush is radiating off the page here. This is clearly obvious to one and all; Jane of course is being a jerk about it, but the damage to the OP’s career is there in any case. Jane is just voicing what everyone else is thinking. And Lucas needs to shut this down or HR needs to get involved, but there is damage done here.

      1. Observer*

        if Lucas was such a good manager, he wouldn’t be flirting with his direct report

        If this were a sitcom and the LW were a schoolgirl at a stupid school, the teacher would be making her type this 1,000x Because it’s completely true. There is no way that Lucas should be flirting with the OP.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Do you bring other colleagues beverages?
      I recall a past letter where the two people were in fact dating, and were peers in different departments–and still, the beverage service only flowed one way, from her to him. As a nice little thing dating people do for each other through the work day, except somehow only one direction. And people told that LW she should cut it out, it was an unprofessional look.

    10. lost academic*

      This – but this is a good time to emphasize that both people can be in the wrong and behaviors don’t cancel each other out. OP needs to stop flirting with her manager and recognize the effect that acting inappropriately has in the office. Jane needs to stop with her behavior. Lucas needs to take control of his responsibilities. If no one can see or control it for themselves, HR needs to step in (yesterday). No one’s behavior excuses the other’s.

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

      I bet she has picked up on the crush. I think the better opeion should be to go to HR. I can totally see OP going to Lucas and and he says something to Jane and she makes it worse. Like “Oh look who’s standing up for his girlfriend.”

  6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (shutdown over holiday period, or not?):

    > From my view, this will have catastrophic impacts on morale, retention, and productivity

    I almost wondered if that’s part of “the plan”. They’ve hired five people to that team – are they hiring similarly quickly across the rest of the company? Too quickly? Are they now overstaffed and need to ‘lose’ some people, ideally without paying severance?

    The key to this will be whether they offered alternative dates for additional PTO in place of the shutdown period. I would bet you a donut that they did not.

    So there are two issues here – company reneged on promised PTO, and people have already made arrangements. And what seems to be singling our this team in particular to not receive that benefit.

    Do you think it is legit that the team needs to be in for business reasons?

    1. Pat*

      We don’t even need to assign potential, nefarious motives for the plan to claw back promised time off to be a terrible idea unless it’s a true emergency that only those specific people could handle. Whatever the reason, it’s a very shitty thing to do, and if they go through with it, I’m fairly certain there will be consequences (people leaving).

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        True – I am not normally a “conspiracy theorist”, but there’s an implied “haven’t they thought of what this will do for morale and retention??” – the ocean’s razor answer to that is that indeed they have.

            1. Mangled Metaphor*

              Occam’s Razor is when you pick the simplest of possibilities.
              Ocean’s Razor is when you pick the simplest of possible casino heists.
              No further conspiracy theory necessary.

              it’s also unnecessary to have a conspiracy theory if the company is, by the description given, already a below decent standard place to work – poor pay and poor communication do not a good employer make.

              1. darsynia*

                And the win of the day goes to Mangled Metaphor!!

                I’d agree on the deliberately attempting to thin the ranks by having a last minute policy scuppering plans, except this LW said they just hired new folks! Though this would hardly be the first time Manglement decided to do a bad policy to save money without coordinating with anyone else, heh.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              By 2042 our digital conversations will look like “flute bat convection??!” “ignominous Jeeves” and we’ll just wave our hands helplessly and day “Autocorrect, don’t know what it’s thinking.”

              Which will be rendered “Otto Core wrecked doughnuts; Watt is inking.”

        1. münchner kindl*

          To me, the fact that they are already underpaying points that the most likelist explanation is that they don’t thought at all what it would mean: they’re tightwads who as managers are much better financially off, so “of course” their wife stays at home, and “of course” tickets can be rebooked, and “of course” employees should work when told to because the company’s needs come first.

          That low-paid employees have different life situations that make this difficult, complicated and hard, and that employees dare to quit over being treated badly may simply not be on the radar at all – because we’ve heard many clueless people high up on the ladder say out loud how clueless and uncaring they are.

          1. Enai*

            Bet that in December, a printed A4 or US letter sheet appears in the window of Op3’s company with a typed “No one wants to work anymore” rant?

            Any takers?

          2. kiki*

            Honestly it’s kind of wild but a lot of times when I see behavior like this, the managers aren’t even that much better off than their employees, they’ve just been habituated that these are the sorts of sacrifices that are expected to be made for one’s career.

            The managers are taken aback when people refuse to comply or quit over it because in the course of their lives and careers, they have always unquestioningly sacrificed their personal lives for the sake of the company. It doesn’t even occur to them that what they’re doing is something employees would quit over.

            1. Annie*

              This is part of the reason why I’m so selective with what I share about my work life and with whom: A good portion of the population thinks you’re supposed to “just deal” with stuff like start times that vehemently disagree with your circadian rhythm, approved time off taken back at the last minute, and even changes to attendance polices that make it so you basically can’t afford to get sick or otherwise find yourself unable to work that day basically ever if you have any kind of outside work commitments or plans on your usual days off.

              While there’s a nugget of truth to needing to suffer a bit to get what you need and want in life, that suffering doesn’t need to last forever or always take the shape of a truly awful job.

        2. Bit o' Brit*

          Hanlon’s razor – don’t attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence, or something to that effect.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Well, that’s the argument – you can’t really explain this away as incompetence, there’s no way multiple higher-up people have failed to realize this is the kind of thing people leave over.

            And I don’t think *malice* is necessary either, to say they understand they might lose people over it and decided that would be fine for the company.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              The higher ups know that people will come for the benefits. They don’t yet realize that people will leave over failure to deliver said benefits. They think once people are in the door, they will be so grateful for the paycheck, they won’t bail.

              No conspiracy theory needed, this is a terrible company who treats workers as machines who can be told to work when required and have no other function.

              1. There You Are*

                The company I just left did this. They did a bunch of hiring with the promise of 3/2 hybrid and then — yoink! The CEO said, “Haha, j/k. It’s now 4/1 with your 4 being Mon-Thu.”

                People who had just started wrote in to the quarterly town hall with professional versions of “WTF??” and the CEO’s answer was, “My hope is that you will adjust because you realize what a great company this is — we have strong EBITDA, our stock price is the highest it’s ever been, our divisions all had profitable quarters, and we’re paying out large dividends.”

                As in, he named a whole bunch of stuff that CEOs and stockholders care about, but not your average employee who picked one job over another based on the number of days required to be in the office.

                I started my job search that day and was out in a little over a month.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This only works if losing your most talented employees, the ones with other options, is considered an exciting feature of the plan.

          1. Nicosloanica*

            Although it’s not without precedent; some of the tech industry’s return-to-office insistence was apparently legitimately an effort to cut back on hires. If the office wasn’t previously remote and now was, this would be a decent way to target newer hires specifically, at least on average, and would presumably also prioritize the most loyal/obedient staff, although you’re right you would be likely to lose a lot of your most talented folks first. I guess they didn’t care.

  7. Kara*

    well shoot. I didn’t mean to post that as a response to another thread.


    I established a LinkedIn account years ago because it was one of those new social media sites that I felt like I should be on. Since then I’ve changed jobs and I have to admit that I have not updated my LinkedIn because it has absolutely nothing to do with my current position and no effect on where I am now. Every now and then I think I should update it to reflect my current job and then I get sidetracked and never get it done. I think you’re looking at LinkedIn as being more important than it is and I think you should let it go.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I completely agree. I think people who use LinkedIn regularly (and I count “checking every couple of months” as regularly) underestimate how completely dead 80% of LinkedIn accounts are. Most people barely check it from year to year!

  8. Thepuppiesareok*

    OP 3 that happened at my last job. Two business days before what was supposed to be a 3 day holiday weekend. We got our schedules a month ahead so we can plan. That day, New Year’s, showed as holiday. Not open to work. My team double checked with our supervisor to confirm we were off. Then we made plans.

    The Wednesday before my schedule changed to show me working. I contacted two supervisors both of whom said it was an error and our scheduling department would be fixed. Everyone I spoke to with the same issue got the same ‘it’s a mistake ‘ message.

    We come in the next day, Thursday, to a message from our call center director. In it he says we’re working like normal and that was always the plan due to yada yada yada. We asked if people who spent money on trips would get reimbursed. No. Because it was always the plan for us to work the holiday.

    Then someone asked it (before I could). If we were always supposed to work the holiday why had our schedules shown us off for the last month? Why were we told it was an error just yesterday? He tried saying that sup was new and didn’t know the schedule -until multiple people said they checked with multiple sups. How did he respond? If you guessed corporate bs you’re correct. Best part? A week before we were told January and possibly part of February would be blacked out for PTO. So you couldn’t even reschedule with confidence.

    Once they saw how upset everyone was the director said to talk to your supervisor. He did make some exceptions, me included. I actually had doctor appointments which I’d had to schedule 6 months in advance so I chose a day my work was closed.

    I did have to bring notes from each doctor I saw. I also had to work my first three hours. Was I grateful for the exception? Of course not. I was PO’d. Instead of a relaxing morning before three stressful doctor appointments I was working. I felt like there was no option unless I wanted to wait another 6 months for a total of a year from when I was told I needed to see these specialists.

    Dear reader you’ll be glad to know I left that toxic hellhole three months later and am now at a wonderful company who cares about their employees.

    1. Annie*

      At the end of my tenure at one of my last jobs, a coworker’s approved time off was taken back at the last minute without even a corporate BS explanation! Just one day, the approved time off was blocked on the shift rota, and the next, the coworker was back on the schedule that day. This mysteriously coincided with me giving notice at that job. Who wouldn’t be PO’d at that?

  9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP4 (LinkedIn) – I’m aware that many will disagree with me on this, but I do feel strongly about LinkedIn having incorrect information on it like this, unlike other social media like Facebook or whatever. It’s a professional network, not only to present information about yourself and interact with people, but also for other people to find and connect with you via your company.

    So if they look up OPs company and this person is listed as, say, Widget Architect where widgets are the thing of the moment. Where does that leave the actual Widget Architect who now holds the job? Which one gets contacted? Does it misrepresent the scope of the Widget programme at that company that they have 2 architects, etc. Obviously the smaller or more niche the company the more of a problem this is, like if someone still has “software engineer” at Microsoft but they’ve moved on, that is hardly a unique position.

    People say “but LinkedIn isn’t what you submit for a job in the same way that a falsehood on a resume is” – and that is sort of true, but becoming less true. The first outreach to “passive” candidates (and the application process for active ones when using Easy Apply) is based on the LinkedIn profile. As such it is (almost) as much a representation as a resume.

    The other thing that drives me crazy though is when someone has been at a company for x number of years, gets promoted and then puts their entire tenure as “Head of Widgets” rather than put the individual jobs under the employer. 2 months experience as Head Of magically becomes 5 years…

    1. MK*

      That sounds like a stretch to me. If someone wants to contact OP’s company, they should be going to their web page, not LinkedIn. If a hiring manager is looking for candidates, ok, even if they contact someone because of their current employer, they should be asking for a resume, the error will come up soon enough, and it’s not that common anyway. If someone is applying through the site, that’s when they really do need to make sure their information there is

      1. Antilles*

        Especially if he’s a “passive candidate” – if he’s not looking but is open to offers, he’ll correct the record with the recruiter quickly; if he’s ignoring LinkedIn because he’s totally uninterested in other opportunities, he’ll ignore the recruiter’s DM too.

        1. ABC*

          This is what I don’t understand about people saying that non-updated LinkedIn profiles are misleading recruiters. It’s a self-solving problem. If the candidate wants the job, they’ll let the recruiter know and likely give them an accurate resume. If they recruiter cares about the inaccurate profile, they’ll toss the resume and move on. If they don’t care, they’ll move forward with the candidate.

          The odds of a candidate intentionally misleading a recruiter via their LinkedIn profile and being able to carry it through the entire recruiting process are vanishingly small.

      2. Champagne Cocktail*

        I’ve had situations where I needed to find a business’ address and phone and had to go to LinkedIn because the info wasn’t on their webpage

        1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Champagne Cocktail, this is a reason why companies should have up to date websites with clear info, not a reason why everyone should have super up to date LinkedIn profiles.

    2. WS*

      Yes, but the only people who seem to connect through LinkedIn are either people asking for information about your job and spammers. If you really need to get in touch with Widget Architect you’ll go through the company’s page, not through LinkedIn.

    3. English Rose*

      I agree with you, Captain.
      I wish LinkedIn had an option to report to them when an employee is no longer with an organisation so they can prompt the person. It wouldn’t always work because people often seem to use their company email as contact rather than personal, but it would nudge some people into action.
      As person responsible for my organisation’s corporate LinkedIn profile, it bugs me that potential candidates coming to check us out can see a whole load of ‘dead’ profiles.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s a very specific perspective though, that most people won’t have. Just like it annoys me to no end when people format x document slightly incorrectly because it takes me an extra five seconds to locate the information I need – yes, a real administrative annoyance, but in the course of the day for the person filling it out it’s not even a footnote. That’s how the grand majority of people feel about LI unless they’re actively job hunting.

      2. Antilles*

        potential candidates coming to check us out can see a whole load of ‘dead’ profiles.
        Can you explain the concern here? I’m not sure I understand what this impacts. Even if you’re still listed by some ex-employees, to a candidate, it’s just a bunch of random names anyways so not really sure how that would matter?

        1. English Rose*

          If I was looking for a job in the teapot department of a company, I’d check out the rest of the teapot team on LinkedIn. I’d want to see a) if I knew any of them, and b) how active, interesting and current they are on LinkedIn.
          If all I found was Susie who hasn’t engaged in anything on LI for six years, or Fred, whose only contribution is racist trolling on other people’s posts, I probably wouldn’t apply.
          I’d never know that neither of them work for the company any more.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Fred’s obviously a problem, but not engaging with LinkedIn at all means nothing in my industry. We have other professional organizations that are active and far more relevant, so most of my team has a barebones profile on LinkedIn and never posts, likes, or engages with the content. Nearly all if it is recruiters, salespeople, and human interests posts from people that are 3rd degree connections or public personas.

          2. Antilles*

            I see, though I’m not sure whether you should be drawing conclusions about how “active, interesting, and current” the employees are on LinkedIn. There’s enough people like Susie whose only only engage for job searching or DM’s that I’m not sure that you can really draw conclusions about the Teapot Designers based on their LinkedIn involvement (or not).

            1. English Rose*

              Thanks to you Antilles and NotAnotherManager. Great perspectives, perhaps it depends on industry sector norms and perhaps to a degree on location. I’m in non-profit sector in the UK, and have a wide and relevant network on LinkedIn with a lot of good discussions going on. Yeah the salesy people are lurking there to be sure, but in my experience at least outnumbered by interesting people with interesting things to say and share.

          3. Parakeet*

            Do people really judge each other by whether they engage with content on LinkedIn? Different fields, I guess. I joined LinkedIn in my early 20s when my dad suggested that I should. I occasionally update my profile photo or other pieces of my profile. Last time I was job-hunting I used it to apply to a couple of jobs, though I was mostly using other sources. Mostly it’s to have some kind of semi-formal line of communication open with current and past professional acquaintances.

    4. bamcheeks*

      Where does that leave the actual Widget Architect who now holds the job? Which one gets contacted?

      I sometimes do this kind of stuff for work, and the answer is that the fact that 80% of people are not active on LinkedIn and don’t update or check it is built-in. If I find 12 Widget Architects and message them, I assume that 9 of them will never read it and two will read it and never reply, and if 1 gets back to me, that’s a great average. If I really needed to find the specific Widget Architect at Trendy Fortune100 Company, I would try sending a message through LinkedIn but I would also contact the reception of the Trendy Fortune100 Company directly. I don’t think anyone who uses LinkedIn regularly expects it to be anywhere close to 100% accurate or up-to-date.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      LinkedIn is a site where people choose what information they post.
      There is no oversight.
      Worrying about this is a recipe for frustration.

    6. Cj*

      I posted this elsewhere, but my post seem to be getting eaten by internet Gremlins this morning.

      I got my current job through a recruiter that’s on my LinkedIn profile. it was out of date, but in my case it didn’t really matter because I’ve been doing the same type of work in the same industry for decades. if I’d actually only done that type of work for a couple years, then switched to something different and didn’t update my profile, the recruiter may have thought I’ve been doing that type of work for 10 years, but it was only for a couple years, and years ago.

      1. ecnaseener*

        And the recruiter would’ve figured it out at some point and you would’ve been one of countless candidates they reached out to who turned out not to be as good a fit as they seemed. They’re very much used to it. You’d be wasting your own time, sure, but not harming anyone.

    7. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      There’s a feature on LinkedIn where you can apply for a job advertised there in just a matter of clicks, I’ve used it a couple of times. Presumably your profile there will stand in for a CV. I always keep mine up to date because as a freelancer I’m always looking for work, and it so happens I have often found work through LinkedIn.
      People who are not looking for work will not feel the need to keep it up to date, and that’s all there is to it. I have a friend who literally only has his degree mentioned in his profile, dated from nearly ten years back, and a really creepy photo, but because he’s in a high-demand line of business he often gets people reaching out to see if he’s interested in a position.

    8. Nancy*

      LinkedIn is just another social media site and many people use it as such, if they are even still active. I don’t bother with it if I am not actively searching and I ignore any requests I get. Most are from recruiters with jobs that don’t match me at all, and my profile is current.

    9. ItsAllFunAndGamesUntil*

      Seeing as in the over 15 years I have had Linked in the only folks who seem to reach out to me are spammers, scammers, and headhunters for positions that pay 1/2 to less than what I am making now I am almost never on Linked in.

      And the fact that over the past 5-6 years the same crackpot political BS that has been on other social media sites has crept into Linked in, I pop on maybe once a year, if that, realize I am missing nothing and then log back out.

    10. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Here’s the really cool thing about Linked In. You can just — unlink from someone. If their lack of updates bother you, just unlink from them. Do you want to be linked to someone whose actions you disapprove of anyway?

      P.S. this goes for any social media. You are not required to stay connected to someone if their actions annoy you.

    11. Earlk*

      What if there was more than on widget architect at the company? Who would you contact then?

      Save your energy for things that matter.

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

      It’s not that serious. If someone is trying to reach out to a company, they might try linkedin but most likey they would look at the company itself. If the widget Architect is a position where people outside of the company would be/should be contacting them then they will be listed someplace on the company’s website.

      And yes you can use LinkedIn to look for employees. I’m assuming by passive you mean that you cold contact people who are open to looking for work. The thing is, if someone is not active on LinkedIn they aren’t going to respond to those messages. Heck a lot of people don’t respond to those messages because they are not usually (IMO) tailored very well.

    13. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      If any of these views were shared by the actual company LinkedIn, Inc., (or its parent Microsoft) they could change their site to force people to comply.

      LinkedIn allows people to not update and passively use/not use the site as they see fit, as well as not requiring a credentials check or reference check of any kind. There is no function to prove that anything anyone posts there is true. Therefore, you are mistaken about how LinkedIn is “supposed to” function. It works the way the company that designed it wants it to work.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        In some sense you’re right, but LinkedIn also has functionality for reporting an inaccurate profile including “false claims of employment”. I’m not suggesting OP should report this, but the existence of that mechanism does suggest it’s not really in line with what LinkedIn wants on there.

    14. NotAnotherManager!*

      Very few people are this serious about using LinkedIn. I lost my login for a while when my former email provider shut down, and I forgot that’s what it was tied to. Most people on there are either recruiters (who should receive and updated resume and do basic verifications prior to hire), people looking for jobs, and sales people, plus an increasing number of people who use LinkedIn like it’s Facebook.

  10. OP #2*

    has anyone ever read “Because Internet” by Gretchen McCulloch? the “??” thing with OP #2 reminds me of that because it’s possible that this person did not grow up as a digital native and isn’t in tune with the nuances of what the ?? can mean. Same with the meaning of “…”

    and when i text with my mom and she doesn’t use punctuation, or worse, she ends something with a single period, i tend to read meaning into it that’s not there.

    so i definitely wouldn’t read into this. this person may not be attributing the meaning that you are to her punctuation.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      This was my immediate thought. People have text-based conversational norms that vary depending on which part of the Internet they inhabit and what written communication used to look like for them before whatever they’re currently using.

    2. SarahKay*

      Wait, what is bad about ending a text with a single period? Isn’t that just the standard punctuation for the end of a sentence?

      1. Pyjamas*

        My daughter tells me it adds an emphatic, even censorious tone. I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving my last sentence unpunctuated

        Don’t know about the special meaning of “…”

        1. English Rose*

          So is it just that final period in texts? Are we allowed periods between sentences in texts (or are we perhaps not supposed to have multiple sentences in texts)?

          1. bamcheeks*

            It is extremely context dependent– like, I might think that a full-stop from my partner indicated displeasure, but I’d never expect my dad to be using that nuance. So I think you’re probably fine!

            1. Nobby Nobbs*

              Extremely context-dependent, yes! In situations where you’ve ditched or stretched formal grammar rules in favor of stylized tone indicators, a terminal period can come across as an abrupt return to formality. In an AAM comment, since we mostly follow traditional grammar, it’s unremarkable enough to go unnoticed.

          2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            I just leave it off the last sentence, but I have noticed that young people I know are less likely to send paragraphs & more likely to just send every thought in a separate message.

            Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for my anxiety — I like to have the whole thought formed before I send, plus it avoids odd mis-threading where you’re responding to each other too fast and it’s hard to follow what is being responded to. I think you have to slow down to do it that way, letting them send a bunch of lines and wait for a pause before trying to respond like in a live conversation.

        2. SarahKay*

          Huh, I had no idea of that; always good to learn something new.
          I’ve now just gone and had a look at texts from friends and most of them don’t end with a period, which I’d never spotted.

          1. allathian*

            Most of my friends’ texts don’t end with a period, either, and we’re all gen-X. Who knew?

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I use standard grammar and punctuation, because I am an old fogey. But I don’t think anything of it when I get a text that does not. Well, except that emojis are pretty much meaningless to me. The effort required to figure out what they mean, with no guarantee that they will mean the same thing a year from now, seems like too much squeeze for too little juice.

              1. SAS*

                Ha, I think my mother also finds emojis somewhat meaningless if the random variations she includes in her messages are any indication. I find it extremely charming nonetheless so we take whatever meanings we want I assume (as with double question marks, obviously!)

              2. Worldwalker*

                I’m likewise an old fogey, and also a punctuation stickler; even back when I had a flip phone and had to cycle through letters on each button to get what I wanted to write in a text, I still put in the proper punctuation. I just sent a lot fewer texts! That said, I try to adapt to the environment I’m in. It can be professionally helpful to be adaptive, especially when there’s so little cost to it. And it never hurts to ask someone “Hey, I’m an old fogey, I didn’t understand what you meant by XYZ; what was that?” It adds to your mental library.

              3. NotAnotherManager!*

                Same. I will occasionally use the thumbs up or a smiling or eye-rolling smiley, but I feel like a lot of emojis have connotations that I don’t understand, and I don’t want to end up being the old fogey who thinks an eggplant is just an vegetable. I’ve been trying to drop the period from my texts so no one things I’m being mean to them, but it’s a hard habit to drop. I also HATE text-speak – my brain struggles to decipher some of them, which is funny because I speak fluent government acronym and can generally figure those out.

                After the debate here over whether the exhaling emoji was a symbol of frustration or perseverance, I’d rather just use words to maximize the chance of conveying my meaning appropriately.

          2. Snow Globe*

            My texts always end with a period (or other punctuation). I’m aware that some people will read something into it, but those who know me will know that I am simply following proper punctuation rules. Does it help if I end with an emoji? :)

            1. jane's nemesis*

              I really don’t like to leave sentences unpunctuated – I actually will edit a message if I notice I forgot a period at the end of a sentence. But once I learned that some people find texts with a single period to indicate disapproval or annoyance, I started adding a slight smile emoji to the end – or a ROFL emoji, or a sob emoji, or whatever is appropriate for the context – to make it clear I’m not sending any kind of “tone” with that period.

              1. Katara's side braids*

                I hate to tell you this, but certain smileys are sometimes interpreted as passive aggressive, especially among younger texters. It’s not nearly as strong of an effect as a sentence-final period, and there’s much less consensus even among gen z, but it is a thing.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  This is my point precisely, about how learning emojis isn’t enough. You also have to keep up on what they mean today, is this can change.

                  The mere thought is exhausting. The advantage of just sticking to standard punctuation is that any reasonably bright youngster will correctly identify what is going on. If they conclude that I am an oldster, well, fair enough. The notion that they will be traumatized by the experience is insulting, suggesting as it does that they are linguistic cripples.

            2. MissCoco*

              To me, I really don’t read much into a period unless it’s a short text. Like a couple sentences all ending in periods that ends with a period I probably won’t even notice, but “okay” feels very different than “okay.” Same with “all good” or “it’s fine”

              Also when I’m texting a friend in their 60s, I am used to ending punctuation and don’t even register it as anything, but if one of my 25 year old schoolmates sends me a text with a period I might notice.

        3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yes it’s quite traumatising for some youngsters. Too much emphasis.

          Now compare emphatic statement with

          Yeah lol it’s quite traumatising for us youngsters… too much emphasis

      2. bamcheeks*

        So! This is what’s so cool about it. I don’t know exactly how the in-group is classified– extremely online people, xenials and younger, whatever– but for us, no full-stop is more intimate, more friendly, and more inviting. It’s not that I’d never use a full stop, but there are some places where adding a full-stop would immediately make the message feel more distant, and possibly indicate anger or displeasure. I’m trying to find examples from my messages to my partner, although it turns out that we use exclamation marks more than no punctuation

        “hey! are you OK to pick kids up?”
        “yes! can you start tea?”
        “can’t, sorry! am not back til six tonight”
        “ok! see you later!”


        “hey, are you OK to pick kids up?”
        “yes, can you start tea?”
        “I can’t, sorry, am at work til six tonight. is that ok?”
        “yes. remember I’m going out at quarter to seven tho?”
        “aargh, yes, sorry. OK, will leave as soon as I can, hopefully back twenty past?”

        1. Pyjamas*

          My partner and I use (overuse?) emojis to add the casual tone. And often, with iMessage, I’ll close off a text exchange with a thumbs up reaction.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          And, see, what drives me crazy about both of those is the lack of capital letters and full words (we’re not limited by T9 anymore, and the phone suggests the words). There is no tonal difference between the first and second to my ear (eyes?). If I sent the first, and someone thought I was mad at them or distant, I would honestly be quite confused.

          But I don’t understand half of what my teenagers text their friends anyway. Lots of strings of characters and emojis. At least I understand the memes.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            speaking as a child of the 70s, i’ve been writing in mostly lowercase throughout my life so it’s not necessarily related to age or technology. it’s just always been my preference! a shrink would probably ascribe meaning to that but honestly i just find it easier and typographically more pleasing.

            In more formal writing and with many types of people I use sentence case, but the vast majority of my informal comms (including Slack at work) are all lower.

    3. Grey Coder*

      I recently had a conversation with my daughters about the subtleties of punctuation in messages. It gets more complex when you consider the same medium is used for different levels of formality — like at my workplace we use Teams both for pure business internal comms (which will be more formal writing, full sentences with periods/full stops at the end) and general chat (mostly no periods).

      Also the meaning of these things is not fully established and universal — another reason to avoid reading too much into it.

      1. bamcheeks*

        When SMS got big in the mid-00s, my mum used to use it to communicate with teenagers in the school where she worked, and picked up all this teeny-SMS-speak that she assumed was normal and would use it when she messaged me and my brothers. Meanwhile, me and my brothers were in our 20s and wrote texts in full sentences with semi-colons, and were baffled to get messages from our mum that were like, “fanks, dat’s gr8, cu2moro x”

        1. Irish Teacher*

          That reminds me of when my mum was trying to teach my gran to at least read her text messages, so my mum could text her, “running late. Will see you in 20 minutes” or whatever and my gran said she didn’t know how to text because she didn’t know how to do the abbreviations. My mum tried to explain that they weren’t actually required, but she’d only seen her younger grandchildren texting and they used that kind of language.

          I’m around your age, I think and I definitely refuse to write sentences in any context without capital letters and full stops. Though my direct boss is the same age as me and he never uses either, to the point that I have to read his messages more than once sometimes.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I have, at times, had to had my spouse read my mother’s text messages aloud to me because my eyes cannot make sense of what she abbreviated. “cU2nite” took me far too long to unwind and I started to wonder if she’d sent me a password or something.

    4. K*

      Same, this immediately made me think of my mum, and I wonder if the colleague just doesn’t realise how it comes off. My mum will respond to a question like “can I call you tomorrow night?” With “Fine.” which to me as a digital native reads as annoyed, bordering on hsotle) hostile, though I know she doesn’t mean it that way.

    5. JSPA*

      My (older) friend group use a double ?? to indicate greater level of dubiousness.

      in contrast, for a WTF edge, or some combination of startled and questioning, there’s ?! and ?!?.

      So from me, the message “do we want to do X at the meeting??” would mean, “do we want to? or probably better not to? but it should be an actual decision either way, so i’m bringing it up.”

      more succinctly, it’s the “or nah” mark.

    6. FashionablyEvil*

      Because Internet is a great book—definitely recommend. And yes, periods at the end of text messages is a bit hostile.

      Elder Millennial

      1. Angstrom*

        Depending on the context, no period can leave me wondering if the text was sent without completing the thought. I don’t see a period as hostile.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          This is supposedly a generational thing. I’ve seen articles about how younger folks absolutely see it as hostile (I’m also an elder millennial, so I mean Gen Z – I know they’re not all kids or anything, I just mean younger than my generation). It’s good to be aware of these differences so you don’t inadvertently frustrate younger colleagues or have them perceive you as hostile when that’s not your intent. A little bit of intergenerational grace would help us all, I think.

          1. Angstrom*

            As an aspiring curmudgeon, I can remember when not writing in complete sentences was a grave offense against the English language. Heck, I try to turn PowerPoint bullet points into complete sentences. Fragments with no punctuation were, and are, wrong.
            But I do understand that things change.
            Darn kids. ;-)

          2. sparkle emoji*

            As a gen z, the period-in-texts thing typically reads as annoyed to me most often when in a one-word response: “Fine.”, “Ok.”, or my least favorite “neat.” (that last one is probably just my pet peeve). A full sentence that’s already somewhat formally written ending with a period is a non-issue. I think it must be the mismatch between an informal message and more formal punctuation.

    7. Caramel and Cheddar*

      The internet was just becoming a more mainstream thing when I was in my late teens so while I’d agree that not being a digital native could certainly be exacerbating things, using punctuation in this manner was definitely considered urgent/odd/enthusiastic/etc. in other kinds of non-internet writing at the time and probably for a long time before.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      When I first read about The Youth not using a period in one line texts, I looked back at the threads with my children, and it was true! Though I had mentally inserted periods. And when I talked to them about it, it was a deliberate style choice both had thought about, that taking the time to insert a period conveyed “tapping my foot in irritation.” Both said they did not interpret my periods that way, as they knew this was a mom thing.

      My daughter will send me paragraphs, where the sentences are broken up by periods but there is no final period.
      My son sends multiple one-line texts to avoid having to put any punctuation in there.
      I have occasionally sent off a bare naked sentence with no period.

    9. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      Hi OP2, I was so glad to read your question because I have a colleague who uses “…” in a way that reads as sarcastic. I was sorry that Alison felt you’re reading too much into it, because in my colleague’s case, it’s given her a bad reputation! She comes across entirely differently in email than on the phone or in real life, and it’s because of things like “Yes…” and “Did the package arrive??”
      It’s actually driven customers over from her department to mine. I wish I knew how to talk to her about it!

    10. Hrodvitnir*

      Yay, I’m glad someone posted this! It’s less a generational thing than an online thing – I’m in my late 30s and my partner is in his mid 50s. We have both picked up internet grammar. I actually clung to full sentences and punctuation even with the original text messages, when you had to manually create additional texts. But no more! Tumblr has made me extra weird.

      There certainly are some online norms of younger people I don’t get, because I’m not on Instagram or TikTok. But basically, the unusual use of punctuation allows additional tone in a fairly limited medium.

      I actually feel like double punctuation as emphasis predates the modern internet. I may use extra punctuation jokingly with my friends who will understand, but if a coworker asked why I hadn’t done something?? that reads pretty hostile.

      In the actual letter it is clearly a quirk, however. It would make me twitch, but not really worth bringing it up unless you’re close. My PhD supervisor uses the excessive elipses and it is actually painful (“can I do this?” “ok…” O_O), but I just have to accept the goal is softening, not sarcasm or dubiousness. Haha.

    11. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I have a theory that the much-mocked Gen X ellipsis means exactly the same thing as no period today. Both have the same effect of softening the ending. But us oldsters were still conforming to punctuation as a rule, and a trailing … was our best option. Now there’s very little punctuation at all

  11. John Smith*

    re #2. I have a colleague who completes *every* sentence with an exclamation mark. It doesn’t matter how banal the subject is, if there’s a sentence, there’s an exclamation mark at the end of it. Reading his emails is extremely tiring and stressful. Here is one of his latter emails to me (verbatim):

    Hi! I got your email! I’ll try to have the interim report to you tomorrow! Michelle hasn’t been in for the last few days so there may be a delay! I’ve also seen that Erin is on leave next week so that might delay things further! Is there a chance the submission date for the final report can be postponed! Regards!

    I really wish I could grab those exclamation marks and shove ’em where the sun don’t shine.

    1. Stipes*

      In situations like this and letter 2, what I really want is to magically show them a movie clip of themselves speaking their email in the tone that it reads like to me. I’m sure in most cases they just don’t realize what tone other people see in what they write. (and also, such a movie clip would be very funny.)

      1. birch*

        I actually kinda wonder if that voice in your head when you’re writing is different for some people– either some people don’t have it at all or it’s not connected to the non-language parts of text like punctuation and that’s how people end up with these habits. People vary a lot in noticing the punctuation and cadence of language when reading out loud, so it stands to reason a similar thing might happen when reading/writing silently.

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        That would indeed be a funny clip! and I hope someone makes it! Because I would really enjoy watching it!


      3. Shirley Keeldar*

        Please please do this on YouTube; it would be hysterical. You can start with the director of a program I graduated from recently. She did the all-caps thing and it was so startling every time–her YouTube version would be YES YOU CAN GET HERE LATE ON THURSDAY BUT I HATE YOU AND I HATE YOU FOR ASKING THIS SO MUCH HATE!

      4. Satan’s Panties*

        Makes me think of a Peanuts strip where Charlie Brown was writing a letter.

        Dear? Pen? Pal?
        How? Are? You? I? Am? Fine?
        Today? In? School? We? Learned? To? Make? Question? Marks?

    2. duinath*

      my dad also does this to an extent, even when there’s a question mark (!?). i think it’s meant to convey enthusiasm. …that or i’ve grown quite inured to anger, i guess. pretty sure it’s the first one.

      for me the bottom line is only the most formal workplace would police in-office communications like this, and once a workplace is that formal it’s not “only do it like this” it’s “do not do this”.

      so if you work for the royal family, i guess (depending on the royal family), it’s a never on the double question mark, and if you work basically anywhere else you can use the double question mark wherever you want, in-office.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Lol and I have one who never uses a question mark no matter what – the exact opposite of this LW’s coworker. It gives their questions a weird, stern tone, but I choose to assume that’s not their intent and ignore it.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Questions without question marks read as rhetorical and sarcastic to me, which I think is a Twitter thing. They’re very much, “I am pretending to express surprise that this thing is happening and I know that you the reader agree with me that it is both unsurprising and super annoying.”

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Is your colleague in Sales? In past discussions, they had more exclamation marks than the rest of the company combined.

    5. Cookie Monster*

      Depending on my relationship with that coworker, I might reply back with something like “Dude, periods exist” [smiley face emoji]

    6. CV*

      Every workplace I’ve ever had has had one of those.
      I had a similar coworker – fortunately, we had a great relationship, so when I accused him of overusing a non-renewable resource (i.e. the exclamation mark), he took it in the spirit it was offered and laughingly reserved them all for the end! of! the! email!
      I have learned that a sense of humour really helps to to weather most email communication quirks.

    7. Antigone Funn*

      A book-club podcast I listen to was doing a book with lots of exclamation points. They would read a few sentences with appropriate breathless emotion, but tired of it pretty quickly. So a listener sent them a small gong. Instead of reading the sentence as excited, they read it normally and added in the gong where the exclamation points were:

      “Hi. (gong) I got your email. (gong) I’ll try to have the interim report to you tomorrow. (gong)”

      It did make the reading funnier, if nothing else!

  12. Been there...*

    LW#1 sounds like they might even work in the restaurant or hospitality industry (“shifts”, “bringing beverages”) which in my experience easily and often crossed flirtatious and communication boundaries like LW has experienced with Lucas and Jane. Pulling back on any flirting and asking him to step in with Jane is the way to go IMO, but be prepared for additional “teasing” from Jane and other coworkers.

    I learned, more soft skills and how to untangle communications and also problem solve in restaurants, honestly, more than in any office-based internship or job. And it’s brought me invaluable experience in my current leadership role. But it’s a hell of an environment to be in and toxic with this sort of thing.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Hmm, this is an interesting point. I guess I was assuming they were in a call center or other type of office environment with shifts and that she meant bringing in Starbucks for the two of them when she took her break.

    2. Pyjamas*

      Am I the only one inventing updates to LW1’s letter in my head?

      1a) Lucas is secretly in love with LW and job searching so they can date
      1b) Jane is the one secretly in love with LW, etc., etc..
      2) Lucas and *Jane* are having an affair and she’s jealous of LW, or at least wants to defend her turf
      3) Jane is one of the aliens who has been piloting the recent UFOs. Her spacecraft crashed, she’s stuck, and she doesn’t understand cultural norms

      1. "Girlfriend" from LW#1*

        I posted an update to Letter #1 below if you want to read it.

        I’ll confess I do like your 1a ending but I also know I need to pull back on the flirting now. However I am also currently in grad school and graduate this coming summer. Once established at a new job who’s to say I cannot at least ask him to hang out.

    3. "Girlfriend" from LW#1*

      You are correct that this is the restaurant industry. Before my two years here (in which Lucas has been here one) all my jobs were in offices and there were clear cut boundaries and things weren’t tolerated. I’m constantly astonished by what people get away with in this industry.

      I posted an update below on what happened since I wrote this letter.

  13. A Name, A Name*

    I’m always struck by some of the commenters’ comments here on work crushes or mild flirting: “You need to shut down the crush”, “you need to stop flirting” as if it’s a always a simple choice. This reaction makes me smile with bafflement. My reality is so different. Yes, I can choose not to flirt overtly with someone. But no matter how much ingenious effort I put in, I can’t simply choose to successfully hide that I like someone that way. If I’m lucky it simply won’t be obvious, but sometimes it’s in the quirk of how my voice goes or how my facial expression goes. I am embarrassed, I feel vulnerable, I WANT not to flirt or show it, because I know it is inappropriate and also it undermines me, but…my real emotion escapes in micro expressions, in a way that is detectable to anyone around.
    And the idea of simply shutting down a crush? (Dare I say it: ??) I get the idea of not indulging a crush, and I’ll take responsibility and do everything I can (the most effective is to look at my life outside of work, see what I’m missing emotionally and see if I can fill that gap), but ultimately I can’t stop a crush just because I WANT to. Oh, I wish!

    1. Viette*

      We can’t stop crushes just because we want to, but we can do everything possible to behave in a very professional way around a crushee at work. The more important it is that the crush not affection one’s reputation, relationships, and work output, the more diligent one must be about actively not flirting, actively not engaging in activities that support or grow the crush, and actively trying to think differently about your crush.

      There are articles here on AAM and elsewhere about how to practically “ride out” a crush while maintaining professionalism. It’s a lot of work and can be dishearteningly dispassionate and unfun. I think what commenters are saying is that it’s worth that sometimes monumental effort to maintain professionalism in the workplace.

    2. Despachito*

      I get that micro expressions are difficult to control, but there is still a lot of much more obvious things that I think ARE controllable.

      I do not know how obvious the micro expressions are to other people, but I think that if there are just these and nothing else, it still falls within the limits of professional behavior.

      OP described bringing drinks and flirting, which I think are much easier to cut down.

      I am side-eyeing Lucas here more because it takes two to tango, and being the boss, HE should be the one not to reciprocate and shut it down. I would feel very embarassed if I were OP’s coworker and had to witness this. I would not think it is innocent – I would think they are dating, and I would definitely be afraid of favoritism. I of course would not comment it as Jane did, but it would still be a problem.

      I’d say Jane has a very valid point (OP and the boss are overtly flirting and this should not be done), but chose a very inappropriate way to point it out. She should be told to cut it out but it should not be forgotten that the underlying issue is still an issue.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I took the shutting down the crush part as meaning stop acting on it or stop encouraging it (by behaving differently with him than with other coworkers or putting oneself in situations that would encourage the crush) rather than meaning stop having a crush on him. I assumed it meant to stop doing things like bringing him beverages and being slightly flirty.

      1. Pyjamas*

        @Irish Teacher, that’s how I meant it. I feel so sympathetic to OP. Trying not to project but when I’ve had a crush on someone unattainable, especially in my late 20s, 30s, it felt like a no calorie dessert. Nothing can happen so no rejection, no heartbreak, no disillusionment. I can’t help thinking OP wants to stop Jane’s offensive teasing but keep on in the cozy comfort of her work crush.

        (But I’m open to an update where OP’s former manager got a new job and then proposed to OP)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, it’s just another example of your feelings might be your feelings, but your actions are separate from them.

    4. UKDancer*

      You can’t stop having a crush but you can stop acting on it and I think that’s all one can realistically do. Look I have a massive crush on one of my favourite ballet dancers. I think he’s gorgeous with the most amazing eyes and cheekbones, technique like a ballet god and when he dances the world stops for me. I’ve met him twice and do him the courtesy of not gushing over him or babbling about how attractive I find him. It’s my problem not his and he deserves better than to have middle aged women word vomiting their feelings.

      When I was new in the workplace I had a crush on my boss who was quite a good looking chap. I was probably not as good as I should have been at hiding it but I was no good at flirting so he had the decency to ignore it and act like a professional. We have remained in loose contact since and left on good terms.

      You can’t not have a crush but if you act as if you haven’t then over time it fades. Also working with someone shows you their bad sides and irritating features. All of which mitigates crush behaviour.

    5. misspiggy*

      It’s a useful practice to build control over one’s visible reactions. Can’t do much about blushing or feeling tearful, but breath control, voice control, facial expression and hand movements are things an adult should learn IMO. Very useful in business negotiations.

      1. Sage*

        That is interesting, and if it is really possible to control your face, this is something I need to do. Can you recommend some resources for that? Searching I have just found one author talking about that (Debra Benton), but she doesn’t convince me too much.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’ve found zoom culture to be GREAT for this. I’ve stared at my own face so often that I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing how different expressions feel and I can control my expressions much better both online and offline.

          Actors spend a lot of time doing the same thing in front of mirrors. It’s definitely possible, there are several professions dedicated to it, but it’s not a skill everyone has honed.

    6. Awkwardness*

      I think it is mainly about not indulging in the crush. No extra stopping by for questions that also every other co-worker could answer, no favours you would not do for every other co-worker, having boundaries on compliments (no fishing for compliments, and shutting down compliments that are too personal).

      1. Catsinhats*

        Someone may have said it already, but LW1’s bully crassly calling out their crush (because I do believe it must be fairly obvious) might be jealous of their closeness, or even have a crush on the guy herself.

        At any rate, unless LW is actively avoiding even slightly extra friendly behavior, then it’s pretty obvious to everyone around them what’s going on. You need to think of how you’d act around a colleague you find gross and treat your crush the same, lol

        As witness to 2 c-suite execs flirting in the office (they believed they were sneaky), I can say without a doubt it makes everyone extremely uncomfortable.

        LW1’s manager might be aware he is just as guilty and too embarrassed to shut down his mouthy colleague.

        But no matter the circumstance, *abusive* behavior of any degree gives you 100% rights to confront it on the spot no matter who it’s coming from. It could be a peer, boss, or a damn deity for all I care. No one has the right to harass/abuse you.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      Flirting means doing and saying things deliberately. Someone blushing or having a particular expression isn’t flirting, and can be tactically and kindly ignored by everyone present, even if they notice it. Saying something you know is flirty, because the back and forth is fun, and bringing each other drinks rain or shine is something people can definitely stop doing.

    8. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      We tend to believe what we tell ourselves. So when you think about how awesome that person is, remind yourself of their flaws instead. In OPs case, I recommend she think about how he isn’t shutting this awful joke down. People also often make up flaws in the part of the crush’s life that they don’t know. After all, there definitely are some, just maybe not the ones you are making up. So instead of assuming he’s awesome, think about him leaving dirty socks on the floor. It won’t work immediately, but if you keep it up for a couple weeks it should help.

      We can’t control what we are feeling directly, but you can change the topic in your mind. So when you start feeling mushy, start thinking about your grocery shopping list or the best way to fix the doohicky you are working on instead. You’ll probably have to redirect yourself multiple times, but it gets easier with practice.

      Or am I just weird to be able to do this?

      1. Allonge*

        No, you are not weird.

        But like just about any other skill, some people are better at this and some worse. It also very much goes back to what you started your post with: if someone tells themselves that it’s impossible to think of something else, that will not make it easier.

    9. ConstantlyComic*

      I mean, the commenters also seem to think it’s easy for the question mark OP to turn off an aspect of their reading comprehension

    10. Observer*

      You need to shut down the crush”, “you need to stop flirting” as if it’s a always a simple choice.

      While shutting down a crush is not always a simple choice, *stopping to flirt* is most definitely that simple. It’s one thing if someone if someone inadvertently shows how they feel by the tone of their voice or other small behaviors. But that is a very different thing from actually *flirting*.

      I’m being emphatic here, because it’s similar to the issue of dealing with “personality” vs behavior. Having feelings is not “personality” but it’s similar in that it’s often not something we can control. But flirting *is* ~~behavior~~ and it is totally controllable. It’s a choice the OP is making, and it’s a very poor choice.

    11. Cookie Monster*

      You can actually stop a crush! I’ve done it multiple times. It’s not fun but it can be done. I feel like I should write a blog post or something about my method.

    12. lost academic*

      Then at some point you’re going to have to accept the consequences and they could be pretty severe and follow you – and that includes accepting that your behavior can damage the reputations and work environments for a lot of other people. What you describe is pretty overt, too, and I’d recommend getting help to control how you’re behavior outwardly. No one is suggesting it’s a simple action

      This is something you must take responsibility to address.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I see where you’re coming from but physiological reactions like blushing, sweating, mouth going dry – these are genuinely things the grand majority of people can’t control. You could try not to talk as much as possible if your voice gets high or you stammer, you can practice some things like controlling your smile or your eyes, but really there are upper limits to that too.

        I think you’re overstating the severity of the consequences. It’s absolutely possible that it could make people take you a little less seriously, or make certain relationships more difficult, but most people will politely ignore it and it doesn’t sound like this commenter is falling over themselves constantly unable to put a sentence together. Humans do human things.

      2. specifics please*

        Really? If you have practical suggestions for making twitch movements and adrenaline surges undetectable, I’m all ears. I have strategies, but come off stiff and unfocused because it’s like giving a stage performance while trying to solve a technical problem. Much harder than simply not flirting.

        1. Allonge*

          It’s unlikely to be about making adrenaline surges undetectable.

          I would say: think about what, specifically, triggers these: proximity? Try to avoid meeting in person as much as possible. Hearing their voice? Email. Thinking of them? Catch yourself in the act and consciously think of something else.

          Look at yourself in the mirror and practice changing your expression. Practice talking. It is a stage performance: you are pretending that your main focus in the moment is not the crush target but whatever work topic. Coming across as a bit stiff is better than looking like you want to kiss them now. It’s not about erasing it all, it’s toning it down to a reasonable level, where someone who is not focusing on you will not be like ‘oh, crushing happening!’.

    13. Hrodvitnir*

      Ha! I’m mostly mildly bothered by how much people are reading into “mildly flirting.” “Flirting” is a broad term that is often misunderstood, so it’s not surprising. For me, however, “mildly flirting” would mostly look like “enjoying the other person’s company” just that the… vibes are different.

      Not that it’s not a terrible idea to be flirting with your boss, but just… smiling a lot and making a little more eye contact can be quite difficult to stop without becoming stilted.

      1. Despachito*

        I think it is quite easy to tell flirting from simply enjoying the company of the coworker. You yourself said that the vibes are different.

        You can definitely smile at people and make eye contact with them, and even joke with them, without the flirty vibes. OP here recognizes she has a crush on the boss, and it definitely transpires.

  14. Viette*

    re LW 2’s interpretation of “??” — it’s very unreliable to judge other’s intentions with casual punctuation when it’s out of context. In context, if they never use that style of punctuation and then they bring it up in a specific setting, sure, they might be trying to make a point, but otherwise that might just be how they type.

    Also, you don’t have to respond to it, because it’s not overt.

    I have a coworker who uses ellipses CONSTANTLY in all their texts and it makes them seem incredibly passive-aggressive. Plot twist: they ARE incredibly passive-aggressive. However, because they convey it largely with too many ellipses (the longer the ellipsis the more passive-aggressive they’re trying to be, usually about someone other than whomever they’re texting at the time), I can, and do, just ignore it and act like it’s just how they punctuate things.

    If someone is trying to convey their annoyance or disdain with too many question marks, you are welcome to not pick up on it until they make it explicit. They probably won’t.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Exactly this! This very site is evidence that there is not such thing as universal interpretation of any stylistic choice in writing so people would be much better served by ignoring any tone they perceive altogether and focusing on the substance. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to try and compose work messages that will be received in the tone you intend OR to divine the tone of someone else’s work message.

      Also, if someone wants to make me feel bad they’re gonna have to work harder than adding a question mark to do it. I refuse to make it that easy for you!

  15. Striped sandwiches*

    #4. We have an ex employee who put on LinkedIn that he worked here for 6 months. He worked here for ONE MONTH and it was part time! And he went on holidays during that time too! I reckon he is just too embarrassed to put the one month down as it would reveal he was then unemployed for 5 months.

  16. anononon*

    Letter 4 has just prompted me to go and check LinkedIn, and yes, the perpetually-late, grumpy, sexist rude asshole of a Project Manager we got rid of in 2021 still claims he works here… Sigh.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      And I expect Alison would say the same to you as to OP4: let it go! He may simply not have thought to update it. He’ll get round to it when he decides to update for his next job search.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      I’m almost certain the last time I updated my LinkedIn was when I started a new job in December 2014. I left 5 years later when my department was dissolved. I would just assume an account that doesn’t show updates has been abandoned unless they’re otherwise active on the site!

  17. Quake*

    I just want to say I love how Alison used the double question mark for the title of number 2. *laugh emoji*

  18. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW3 – admittedly I’m coming at this from a non-US perspective, but I’m baffled that the company isn’t automatically reissuing the PTO for use at another time. If that isn’t possible for operational purposes, they should at least have to pay the equivalent of double for that week (effectively paying the normal amount plus the PTO amount).

    I also suspect that if higher management had to pay double for that week, they might change their minds about how many if any staff were genuinely needed!

    I found the situation in this letter outrageous.

    1. Gritter*

      I completely agree. If this team are required to work that week then they should either receive that time back as TOIL or get an increased rate of a pay for their time.

    2. Melissa*

      PTO or not, I would be super unhappy if I was told that I was going to get Christmas-New Years off, and then told I wasn’t. That’s prime travel and family and celebratory time, so being handed a week of PTO that I could use in March or whatever wouldn’t solve the problem for me! It would lessen the blow, but not much.

      1. Other Alice*

        My thoughts as well, I wouldn’t mind working holidays for double pay or getting extra time off later, but it would be very inconvenient for everyone making plans to use that time off, who might have already booked flight tickets and so on. Especially since the company seems to be delaying this announcement, and the later people are warned, the more disruptive it will be for their plans.

    3. lost academic*

      In the US this would be very unlikely. Offices that close (with or without pay) for the holidays are generally doing it not because (or not just because) it’s a perk to staff – there’s a business reason not to operate during that time given the profits and losses. That time isn’t considered PTO in general and it’s not a flexible benefit – taking off a week at the end of the year isn’t the same for most businesses as taking it off in April or something.

      I don’t see many companies that shut down like they might in Europe for these periods even if it might make some sense – it’s not done here for the most part, and you do see those that do often doing it without pay (and we’ve had letters about similar things). We’re not a country that puts fairness to workers real high on the list…

    4. Lauren19*

      I had a similar thought. Assuming this is US, based on how the offer letter was written (specifically PTO and paid holidays), and the state they live in re: notice periods to changes in employment terms and compensation, the employer may not have much option to make the change for this year. This is where I would turn to an employment lawyer (I am not one).

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Most offer letters specifically state it is not an employment contract. For the express purpose of having it be enforceable.

        Can the company bait and switch PTO — yes.
        Should they if they want to keep competent people – no.

  19. TheEndIsNigh*

    OP #4 – Don’t you have anything better to do then checking out former colleagues on LinkedIn. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile for 10 years and don’t care a hoot about the profile either. So do many of the people I know. Move on.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I was kind of wondering about this, too. If you liked the guy, I suppose you might want to find out where he ended up, if that information was not revealed to you before he left.

      But seriously, all this post has done is convince me of how utterly worthless LinkedIn has become. It could have been great, but it settled for cash and mediocrity. Alas.

    2. Ask A Manatee*

      “Don’t you have anything better to do” comes off as judgemental, which I don’t think is called for.

      Also, LW said it shows up in their feed, meaning they aren’t checking a particular person’s profile, they are just using the site.

    3. Michelle Smith*

      Why not deactivate it then? It seems weird to me to care so little about your online presence that you keep up decades old information for no reason, but I guess you work in a field where people don’t google you as a part of background checks? It would be a red flag for hiring in my field if someone appeared to be holding themselves out as having worked somewhere for 10 years but their resume directly contradicts that.

  20. Adam*

    For past performance reviews, just a heads up that if you’re in the EU or UK, the GDPR covers employment records among everything else, so you can make a subject access request to get your personnel records from a former employer.

    1. Cj*

      I just checked the rules for minnesota, which is where I live. a current employee is allowed access to the employment records every 6 months. a former employee is allowed access to their records once a year, for as long as the records are maintained.

      I didn’t see anything in my brief research as to whether or not the employer is required to maintain the records for a certain amount of time. but I am quite certain the records were still there, even if they want easily accessible, on the employees last day.

      1. Cj*

        I just found that data required to maintain the records of former employees for 3 years. the letter writer should check the laws for their location.

  21. Teapot Wrangler*

    I’m wondering if the double quotations is a US thing that I’d never noticed before or I’m also out of touch but I thought really the only use for double quotes was for direct quotations e.g.

    We need to have a word with X. She said “He is a total bellend” and we can’t have that in a workplace

    1. Pyjamas*

      I think in the US we tend to just use double quotes. At least the old convention of always putting punctuation inside a quotation mark is disappearing, eg

      What is a “bellend?”

      instead of

      What is a “bellend”?

      (Btw what IS a bellend??)

      1. allathian*

        The literal definition is a NSFW part of the male anatomy, the figurative meaning is a stupid or annoying man.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Putting the punctuation marks inside quotation marks when it’s not part of the quote upsets me SO much. I had an interview for an editing job once where I would have had to edit to US conventions not British ones, and I remember handing back the example and saying, “I have put the punctuation marks inside the quotation marks because as I understand it that’s the US rule, but I want you to know I didn’t enjoy it.”

        1. SarahKay*

          I’m with you on putting punctuation inside quotation marks if it’s not part of the quote, and laughed at your comment about the interview.

        2. Lore*

          For what it’s worth, U.S. style to put punctuation inside quote marks only applies to commas and periods. Semicolons and colons always go outside; question marks, exclamation points, and dashes are context dependent.

          1. EnglishOrEnglish?*

            also many professional writing gigs in the US, especially technical writing and some forms of business writing, do put all punctuation outside of the quotation marks because clarity trumps all (the Oxford comma is popular for the same reason).

            I once had a contract converting British English to US English. It’s truly painful.

    2. allathian*

      US vs. UK conventions have the single and double quotation marks reversed.

      US: “We need to have a word with X. She said ‘He is a total bellend’ and we can’t have that in a workplace”

      UK: ‘We need to have a word with X. She said “He is a total bellend” and we can’t have that in a workplace’

      But standard punctuation doesn’t include double question marks, or at least I’ve never seen them.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Interestingly, in Ireland, I learnt the US one, though our publishing companies seem to vary. I once checked Irish-published books out of interest and they seemed to be a mix of both conventions.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Double quotes are a US convention where British English would use single quotes.

      There is a chapter about this in Rebel With a Clause, which I recommend for grammar geeking.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Specifically, have you ever thought of packing it all up and going on the road with a folding table, traveling across the nation and offering to correct or discuss grammar for free? Someone did!

    4. amoeba*

      I am now also confused where the quotation marks come in, but anyway:

      In German, there are only double quotation marks – and the first one is actually supposed to be at the bottom, not at the top: „Er ist ein Vollpfosten“, sagte sie. The both at the top version is becoming more common because English is so prevalent, the single quotes – not so much.

      So, was actually surprised the US version is more like “my European version” than the UK!

      1. bamcheeks*

        I have German and English keyboards on my phone and I usually notice I’ve swapped over to German when my quotation marks go south!

  22. Green great dragon*

    “Archived” isn’t the same as deleted. If it matters to you, you could see if your previous manager was willing to ask IT to fetch them. Or maybe they’d have a copy themselves.

  23. Dog Child*

    Lucas needs to handle Jane and Jane needs to wobble her head. This is all horribly inappropriate.

    And inappropriate ellipsis are a real bugbear of mine! Drives me insane.

      1. bamcheeks*

        It’s usually “she needs to give her head a wobble” and I don’t know where it comes from, but it means “cop on” or “get with the programme” or something like that. It’s all over British hun culture, and I don’t know if it’s a regionalism that went national or from a specific TV programme or something. It gives me the heeby-jeebies!

        1. Michelle Smith*

          “Cop on” is not something that translates well to the US either, fyi. I’ve never heard that phrase so it didn’t help explain the answer lol.

  24. What???*

    I have a coworker I work occasionally with and he ends every question in “????”. there was a day where we trying to close off a backlog of work that required a lot of back and forthing between us and I nearly had a panic attack because not only was everything ending in “!!!!” or “???” but he was a multiline messager too. e.g. in the space of a minute I could get the following:
    “you free???”
    “the llamas are out of llama hats!!”
    “should we order more hats???”
    “I think you ordered some last week???”
    “or did you???”
    “oh!! just found your email with the order!!”
    “lol! ”

    I dont see how anyone could type like that not see how panicky it comes across as. I actually dread getting messages from him and avoid any communications unless totally necessary.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      To be honest, I read it as jokey, which isn’t really much better, but does show that it reads differently to different people, so I suspect he may see it differently again. I’m practically imagining a “lol” at the end of each sentence or super-excitement, like “hey! I’m so excited to be talking to you. Did you know the llamas are out of llama hats, OMG!? Should we order more? I love doing orders. Ordering hats will be so much fun!! Oh, I found your order! You’re amazing! You are so brilliantly on top of everything!”

  25. Hiring Mgr*

    Yes, Jane is being obnoxious and inappropriate and she should shut that down. However she is also doing you a huge favor by letting you know that your own behavior with the boss is possibly crossing a line.

    Jane might be the one vocalizing it, but I doubt she’s the only one noticing. Please use this as a wakeup call to rein in the flirtation

    1. Observer*

      However she is also doing you a huge favor by letting you know that your own behavior with the boss is possibly crossing a line.

      Yeah, I would be very surprised if their behavior hasn’t crossed a line or two.

      Please use this as a wakeup call to rein in the flirtation

      Yes. Jane is obnoxious and unprofessional and her behavior needs to be shut down. But that doesn’t change the fact that your behavior is way out of line.

  26. I don’t post often*

    Op5- I became a manager in January and I’m surprised at the things I don’t have access to. I can access my employees’ last review. I can access Overall summary comments for a period of two or three years and that’s it.
    Our company has gone through many many many changes in the past 5 years and changing HR systems was one of those. Not sure if that’s it or what.

  27. I should really pick a name*

    If it bother you this much, I’d suggest unfollowing him on LinkedIn so he doesn’t show up in your feed anymore.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      It absolutely can pop up on your feed. On LinkedIn they will show you posts from 2nd and 3rd connections – so connections of connections. Under the name is listed the job title and sometimes company depending on how someone has written their title.

      If OP can’t let it go, then they should block the person.

    2. ecnaseener*

      What a weird thing to say! LinkedIn has a feed of everyone you’re connected with. Why would you assume LW’s lying about that?

    3. Yorick*

      This is uncalled for. Seeing someone’s profile and wondering why they haven’t updated it is not cyberstalking.

  28. Ellis Bell*

    OP1, I would say the following to either Lucas or Jane, whichever you feel safest doing: “It honestly feels a little sexist to cast me as someone who must be dating the boss, even as a one off joke, but now this has become the main way she/you characterise me, even in front of other colleagues. I need that to stop immediately.” If anyone pulls you up about your own professionalism, re the flirting, do not allow that to stand: “I would have been happy to respond to any professionalism advice that was given seriously and kindly, but this was not that and it was beyond the pale.” That said: knock off the flirting as of yesterday! If you wouldn’t say it to your grandfather, don’t say it to Lucas.

        1. Jessica*

          “She admitted she was wearing a miniskirt when she got assaulted. She can’t have it both ways.”

    1. Observer*

      OP1, I would say the following to either Lucas or Jane, whichever you feel safest doing: “It honestly feels a little sexist to cast me as someone who must be dating the boss, even as a one off joke, but now this has become the main way she/you characterise me, even in front of other colleagues. I need that to stop immediately.”

      That would totally backfire on the OP, because her behavior – by her own description! is absolutely that of someone dating the boss!

      The comments are inappropriate, and the “Control your girlfriend” one is indeed gross and sexist. But that’s what the OP has standing to object to, not the idea that she is romantically involved with her boss. Because her *behavior* is what is *reasonably* fueling that assumption.

      If anyone pulls you up about your own professionalism, re the flirting, do not allow that to stand: “I would have been happy to respond to any professionalism advice that was given seriously and kindly, but this was not that and it was beyond the pale.

      Eh. The comments are beyond the pale. But the claim that the OP would have been happy to respond to any “advice” is not going to go over very well. It’s not credible for one thing. For another, their behavior (Lucas’ as well as the LW’s behavior ) was out of line in a way that merited a stern “knock it off”, and didn’t require “kindly given advice”.

      knock off the flirting as of yesterday! If you wouldn’t say it to your grandfather, don’t say it to Lucas.

      That’s an excellent rule of thumb. Go to HR about this if Lucas won’t or can’t shut it down. But knock off the flirting.

    2. metadata minion*

      I agree with almost all of this, but it’s not sexist of Jane to think the LW and OP are dating given that they’re flirting with each other. She’s reacting to it inappropriately, but it’s not an unreasonable conclusion for her to draw.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        It’s far more impactful on women when it’s suggested that they’re sleeping with the boss and it’s a very common sexist trope. Jane doesn’t have to be deliberately doing this, but she does have to stop.

        1. Jessica*

          It literally is one of the many ways women’s competence and achievements are undermined–the idea that they only got an opportunity or recognition or whatever because they were paying for it with sex.

          It’s akin to the idea that any person from a marginalized group must have been a “diversity hire.”

  29. triss merigold*

    #5, I read that as saying the OP never was given the review in the first place, since it says they were recently completed, which is why they don’t have a copy. But it wasn’t clear.

  30. HonorBox*

    OP1 – Dial back whatever actions someone could view as “crush” behavior. You can absolutely be friendly with your manager, but if someone is picking up on things, you can absolutely control the behavior they’ve picked up on. You also need to talk to Lucas and HR. Both have the power to shut the comments down. It is harmful to you as an employee and harmful to Lucas as a manager to have people saying things and assuming things. You can’t control a crush but you can both control your action AND control whether you’re being painted in an inappropriate way.

    OP3 – I’d be SO pissed at this. If that week off is part of the benefits the company is promoting to everyone, including new hires, they have a responsibility to clarify ASAP what is happening. For reasons cited above (child care, holiday plans, travel, etc) they should absolutely be prepared for significant pushback too. Things change. Plans need to be adjusted. But when things change, the employees have a right to know that things are changing as far in advance as possible. This isn’t “hey, we said we’d be leaving at 1:00, but need people to stay until 3 today.” This is a week that people likely have already made plans around, and LW, I think if you have the opportunity, you should share with your manager and anyone else who has a role in setting policy that not only will this impact you negatively, it is likely to impact others, which will inevitably affect the business.

  31. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    #2 – I use the double ?? /cringe/ when I’m particularly confused about something. To be fair, my whole company is pretty casual. I think Alison’s suggestion to either ignore it or find it quirky is a good solution. My own advice is to see is the way I use it – she’s confused about something so she’s trying to convey that via the written word, and rather than ACTUALLY spelling out, “I’m confused: did you ask to borrow the alpaca shampoo for llamas?”, she instead does the double ??. What do you think?? ;-D

  32. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


    I was reading that question as double quotation marks the whole time and was really confused. Time for another coffee.

    1. Not Elizabeth*

      Me too! I’ve never heard of using double quotation marks that way, and I was so confused.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Me too! I had to get to the comments section and wonder why everyone was talking about question marks before I figured it out. Some people do use quotation marks for “emphasis” so it didn’t seem too weird. Glad it wasn’t just me lol!

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

      yes this happens sometimes at work with our online forms. People put the checkmark emoji but the receiving person’s system doesn’t recognize it so it shows up as a ? or sometimes a bunch of symbols like */&^

  33. PieAdmin*

    LW2: I don’t know if this applies, but sometimes when I try to text an emoji it shows up as ??

    1. amoeba*

      Hahahaha, this has actually happened to me when I was texting a hiring manager! I was going something like:

      Me: “OK, great, let’s talk next week then!”
      They: “??”
      Me “What do you mean?”
      Him: “Oh, sorry, just thanks for your reply. We use emojis a lot at [company]!”

      I did clear it up because I did *not* want to be the non-internet-savvy person who is confused by a thumbs up emoji (or whatever he was trying to send!)

  34. Justme, The OG*

    LW #1 – Everyone in this situation is in the wrong. You need to stop behaving like this towards Lucas (it’s transparent that you like him). Jane should never have said what she did. And Lucas should know better than to have a relationship that can even be construed as romantic with a subordinate, and needs to shut Jane down.

  35. matt r*

    the “flirtiness” is just incredibly inappropriate. of COURSE the LW’s colleagues and co-workers are noticing, and the comments were inevitable. knock it off.

    1. matt r*

      …which isn’t to say that the comments are appropriate, either. everyone here needs to grow up and be professional.

      1. I Have RBF*


        It wouldn’t matter if she was his actual girlfriend or not. It is misogynist as hell.

    2. Jessica*

      Ah yes, truly, if you are a woman, exchanging some flirty comments with someone at work means you deserve misogynistic treatment.

  36. Kristin*

    RE: the ellipsis thing….

    I read a book about how language has evolved on the internet, and apparently the ellipsis thing is a convention from postcard writing. For some reason old people have transferred this into “casual” online writing, like emails and texts. So if your 65-year-old boss keeps starting emails like “Kristin….”, they’re not necessarily being passive aggressive or trying to adopt an ominous tone, they’re just writing how it feels normal to them.

    1. I Have RBF*

      Yeah, I tend to use a lot of ellipses…

      I’ve been online since 1994. My regular pseudonym is old enough to drink, and older than Google.

      Online conventions come and go, but proper grammar is forever.

  37. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    I had a former colleague who included ellipses and a double-question mark in literally every sentence.

    Hi, Ninja….??

    I was wondering if you had the Staples catalogue…?? I need to order new pens…??

    In my head I read that as Valley Girl intonation with vocal fry, which isn’t how she actually spoke, but she was so timid and so meek and so utterly incompetent she couldn’t have poured water out of a boot with directions on the heel.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My office manger does this. I’ve learned to ignore it but some days when my patience is thin it’s particularly grating.

  38. AnonInCanada*

    Ref #2 (use of double question marks). If you want to be a passive-aggressive arse to “C,” may I suggest responding with interrobangs‽‽ Unfortunately, the ALT code to type one doesn’t work in this comment box (ALT+8253 on your PC’s numeric keypad,) but maybe it does in the typeface in your email client? :-P

    1. metadata minion*

      If I were the coworker, I would not pick up on the fact that this was supposed to be offensively passive-aggressive. I’d ask how you managed to type an actual interrobang and then start using them myself.

  39. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    I am amazed at the number of letters that basically say Fergus no longer works here can I control his behavior? They don’t work there anymore, its not your problem. If they are not updating LinkedIn, okay whatever. If they are lying on their resume, that will catch up with them eventually. The only standing you have to talk to a former coworker about what they are doing now is if they asked you to be a reference. Otherwise, not your circus, not your monkeees.

    1. K8T*

      Agreed – the only answer to 99% of those letters is that they just have to get over it. Especially for something as low stakes as a social media site.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right, and as someone who actually has used LI for job search, I’m utterly baffled as to why LW thinks that Fergus’s profile still saying he works at his OldJob has any impact on LW’s life, work, or career.

      People tend to update their LI when they are ready to move on, and forget about it otherwise. To me, Fergus having forgotten to update his profile means that he’s happy at his new place. I am not understanding the “he’s riding our coattails” part either. If he wanted to ride them so badly, wouldn’t he have just stayed at his old job instead of going through a whole job search, finding a new one, and leaving?

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

    #1 I think OP should actually go to HR. Maybe give Lucas a heads up but Jane’s behavior is so out of bounds its not funny.
    I can see if Lucas does talk to Jane that it will backfire and just fuel the flames more. Like she could start saying that Lucus is trying to cover up their relationship or is being overprotective of his ‘girlfriend’

    Also, The “control your girlfriend” comments are horrible. It’s showing that Jane doesn’t want to be questioned. I don’t know if Lucas saying anything will affect her behavior but HR should certainly handle this.

    Furthermore I have to disagree with some people saying that the OP should stop being as friendly or implying that bringing drinks caused Jane’s behavior. Maybe it did but I think stopping being friendly is going to be worse, with her saying they are fighting, etc.

    1. Observer*

      urthermore I have to disagree with some people saying that the OP should stop being as friendly or implying that bringing drinks caused Jane’s behavior. Maybe it did but I think stopping being friendly is going to be worse, with her saying they are fighting, etc.

      Hard disagree. I mean, Jane is being ridiculous, but being *professional* at work is not exactly fodder for gossip. If Jane does try that tack, that’s going to be a lot less damaging to the LW, and it’s going to be a lot easier for her to push back with HR.

      That said, I do think you may have a point about going straight to HR.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      People aren’t saying to stop being as friendly; they’re saying to stop flirting (which the LW specifically mentions doing). And she should, because flirting with your boss is inappropriate.

    3. Dana*

      Control your girlfriend is awful on the face of it, but it sounds to me like a badly worded way to tell Lucas he should be shutting down the flirting. We don’t know if it’s a mutual crush or if he’s just enjoying the interactions, but either way he should be telling OP to knock it off if not responding didn’t work.

      1. edda ed*

        it sounds to me like a badly worded way to tell Lucas he should be shutting down the flirting

        No, I don’t agree with this in the slightest, because the context the LW gave for that comment was that the LW asks Jane questions and Jane responds with that whopper. Jane isn’t at all telling Lucas to shut down the flirting, she’s expressing displeasure that LW asked her questions. Granted, I have no idea the nature of LW’s questions, and they could well be inappropriate, but just as well they may not be, since asking questions to a higher-up at work is totally normal, mundane behavior. In any case, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of professionalism or maturity going around this workplace, LW and Lucas most definitely included.

      2. Observer*

        Control your girlfriend is awful on the face of it, but it sounds to me like a badly worded way to tell Lucas he should be shutting down the flirting.

        No. As @edda Ed notes, the context makes it clear that this is not the case. But even without that, it’s just not credible. If someone is willing to be this rude and crude, there are plenty of other ways to make the point.

  41. Hiring Mgr*

    #4 – The guy could also be doing part time consulting work for another department of your company. Since it’s a trendy highly sought after Fortune 100 it’s also a massive company so you wouldn’t necessarily know.

    Either way it doesn’t matter though – nothing for you to worry about. There’s an expression I heard called “Not your circle, not your money”. In other words, if it doesn’t directly affect you, you can ignore it.

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

      Or he used his work email for LinkedIn and now has lost access and cant log in to fix it,

      1. Two Fish*

        Yes. A friend made the mistake of using his work email address when he joined LinkedIn. After he left that employer, LI wanted a copy of his drivers license before they’d restore access. I don’t know if he reluctantly coughed it up.

        1. Happy*

          I think perhaps you misheard the saying (or you heard someone else misquote it). Google gets zero hits for “not my circle, not my money.”

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            Maybe I’ve coined a new phrase. Now I just have to figure out how to cash in on this and retire

  42. The Wizard Rincewind*

    Re: LW2

    Oh no, I feel called out. Granted, I don’t often use it in a professional setting (and if I do, it’s in a VERY casual missive), but I’m a big fan of double question marks because I live for drama and it’s the best way to convey my utter bafflement via text/friend Slack. Just picture your coworker like me, with the back of their hand draped daintily over their forehead, as they bemoan the lack of llama grooming panels.

    1. ABC*

      I think a lot of people are reluctant to admit that LinkedIn is just another social media site, and that leads them to put a lot more weight on it than it really merits.

      1. Champagne Cocktail*

        I agree. Take a look at the subreddit r/linkedinlunatics for some of the most outrageous examples of how it’s shifted from business focused to way too many people wanting to be influencers.

  43. Sara without an H*

    Re LW#5: Keep your own copies. Keep your own copies. KEEP YOUR OWN COPIES!

    Of everything.

    This includes job descriptions, evaluations, and a selection of your emails. (Use your own judgement about what to include in that last one.)

    Even if your employers are scrupulously honest, I’ve lived through enough system transitions to know that important stuff can be eaten in the process. Anything essential needs to be backed up to another location or printed out and filed.

    1. I Have RBF*

      Every quarter I email pdfs of my paystubs to myself. Everything that I want to keep, I email to myself, because my company literally does not allow us to use non-company backups – no dropbox, no usb keys, etc.

  44. Ssssssssssssssssss*

    On a different topic related to these letters, I haven’t heard anyone use “Type A” in ages. Is that still a Thing?

    (…a Thing??)

  45. Pasta Queen*

    #4- I actually had a guy I terminated from my business unit apply for a position in another business unit of our company months later with a resume that said his current job was mine. We all had a good laugh.

  46. "Girlfriend" from LW#1*

    An update on events that happened since “Girlfriend” and “Boyfriend” letter happened:

    I had to talk to a manager that is above both Lucas and Jane about another issue that has been going on and she (let’s call her Mary) asked if anything else had been bothering me. I mentioned Jane had been calling Lucas and I boyfriend and girlfriend and it was making me uncomfortable.

    Two days later, Jane pulls me into her office and tells me Mary told her I was uncomfortable with her calling Lucas and I boyfriend and girlfriend. She went on about how she was just teasing me and that nobody was really was concerned about Lucas and I. I told her I was concerned about it because I know management and employees can’t date and I didn’t want people thinking I was getting special treatment because Lucas and I have a great working relationship and get along so well. Jane then proceeded to ask me if I was an anxious person. Taken aback I answered honestly and said, “Kinda.” She then told me she understood because her husband is an anxious person and then said from here on out if I have an issues with her to come to her directly.

    The whole thing was a little odd to me. Like she thought it was my fault I didn’t find her teasing funny. And if nobody was concerned about Lucas and I would she have made those comments in the first place?

    Lucas is gone this week, ironically at management training, that was planned before all of this happened. Having read all the comments, I am going to cool it down with the flirting when he comes back. Some of them made me realize Jane was probably speaking for several people. There has been several times when co-workers would ask for stuff and there would be delays, but if I would ask for it for them, he’d respond faster. I now even recall an event where a co-worker wanted something done and I was like “Just ask him, he’ll do it.” to which she responded, “Can you ask for me, you’re his favorite, he’ll do it for you.” I responded, “No. He’ll do it for you too.”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “The whole thing was a little odd to me. Like she thought it was my fault I didn’t find her teasing funny. ”

      Very common thing when people get called out on being rude or unprofessional, I wouldn’t think about it too much. It sounds like you’re taking the right lessons away from this whole thing – try to move past it!

      1. Awkwardness*

        I agree, it seems you got valuable input.
        To realize how others seeingly perceive your relationship is good information and you can adjust your behaviour accordingly.

        And be careful around Jane. She always seems to catch you off guard.

    2. Elsewise*

      Jane going to you after she was talked to by her manager about her behavior to you is WAY out of line! “Nobody minds my teasing!” “I mind.” “Oh, you’re just anxious.” No no no!

    3. Observer*

      The whole thing was a little odd to me. Like she thought it was my fault I didn’t find her teasing funny. And if nobody was concerned about Lucas and I would she have made those comments in the first place?

      Not odd at all. It’s a very predictable form of deflection. Watch your back with her.

      There has been several times when co-workers would ask for stuff and there would be delays, but if I would ask for it for them, he’d respond faster. I now even recall an event where a co-worker wanted something done and I was like “Just ask him, he’ll do it.” to which she responded, “Can you ask for me, you’re his favorite, he’ll do it for you.” I responded, “No. He’ll do it for you too.”

      Oh my! That is *bad*. Whether or not Jane was talking for anyone else, there is absolutely no doubt that people saw what was going on and were drawing some pretty strong conclusions.

      And it also tells me that Lucas is a *terrible* manager. Because he’s not only flirting back, and didn’t shut Jane down to start with. He actually *was* favoring you in a way the people saw.

      Lastly, I think you would do well to think about how you managed to miss the fact that your behavior and relationship with Lucas was that obvious. People coming to you to help expedite their requests should have been a huge red flag right there. Someone actually *telling you* that you are seen as Lucas’ favorite to the extent that they need you to intercede for them on a *work issue* that they had legitimate standing to have dealt with?! Even if you were right that he would have done it for your coworker (which by your own description was not true), that was glaring. So glaring that it feels like you have been in deep denial about the whole situation.

      It seems to me that pulling back on the flirting is going to have to be only step one. For your long term success, I think you need to transfer. Out of your current position, or even to a new company. If nothing else, your reputation has almost certainly taken a hit, your perceptions are a bit clouded and there is a non-zero chance that pulling back could lead to back reactions from Lucas. Keep in mind that he *was* favoring you in a work context, apparently because of your flirtation, but he’s not willing to make sure that you don’t suffer for it. It seems very likely to me that he’s not necessarily going to react with scrupulous professionalism and fairness when you pull back.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Thank you for the update! As Observer said, that was some classic deflection by Jane. I can only hope for you that she will follow up by toning it down.

      Lucas responding more promptly to you is definitely a big problem though. I don’t know if you’d feel safe mentioning you’d noticed that? Prevailing opinions on here probably advise no, but personally I’d like to point it out. In a very non-accusatory manner, perhaps like you’re asking for a favour because people have noticed.

      Good luck!

    5. Jessica*

      I’m glad you stepped back and assessed how you can better calibrate your behavior for your workplace. (It’s almost always a bad idea to get romantically involved with a man you work with–the consequences for you are almost always going to be worse than any consequences he experiences.)

      That said, to be clear: you absolutely did not deserve the way Jane was treating you.

      And her whole, “I was just teasing you” and then *armchair diagnosing you with an anxiety issue* is DEEPLY gaslighting and inappropriate for work. It was 100% reasonable and healthy for you to be upset about her bullying.

      When she tells you to come directly to her if you have a problem with the way she’s treating you? That’s potentially a trap so she can stop further bullying from being exposed. If you do have any issues with things she says to you in the future, tell her to stop *in front of other people* and document it for yourself. Time, date, context, as close to verbatim as you can remember. Or tell her to stop via email (or otherwise in writing), and save the email and any response she sends you.

      Do not handle any issues you have with her verbally and in private.

    6. Prefer my pets*

      Yes, Jane was absolutely out of line, and even more out of line to accuse you of being anxious (future: never admit that unless you are asking for formal ADA accommodations, especially not to someone you already have a problematic relationship with).
      But your last paragraph is not just bad it is B.A.D. First, you don’t “tone it down with flirting” (WTH?!) You don’t flirt with your boss period, Ever. Never. Unintentional slip because you have a crush you’re trying to hide while you get over it? Ok, that’s understandable & has happened to a ton of us. But you clearly are doing it intentionally and controllably. Second, you two have such a close & flirty relationship that he favors you to the point other coworkers need you to intervene for them. Your entire attitude about that comes off more as a humble brag than a “whoops, this is messed up & I hadn’t really thought about it.”
      It’s pretty clear he is NOT remotely a good manager and probably shouldn’t be managing at all, and you have a lot to learn about professional workplaces.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        “It’s pretty clear he is NOT remotely a good manager and probably shouldn’t be managing at all”

        I had a love-crazy manager in my first two jobs, that I’ve written about on here before. Years and years later, I ran into him on the street and he told me that he’d changed jobs again, and was now managing a good friend of mine. When I saw my friend a few months later, I pulled her aside and gave her a brief summary on my experiences working for NotLucas. Her response: “oh wow, I thought he was just a crappy manager, but look at this!” (and then she added that he did not do any of that anymore – no coming on to or trying to date his subordinates, no assigning work based on who he dated, none of that. But that he was crappy at being a manager nonetheless.)

        My point here being that you’re right – if Lucas is so wildly out of line on one aspect of managing people, odds are high that he doesn’t have a clue about other things pertaining to managing as well.

    7. Blue Macaw*

      Jane then proceeded to ask me if I was an anxious person.


      Like she thought it was my fault I didn’t find her teasing funny.

      Yes, that’s exactly what she is doing–she is trying to displace the problematic behavior from her inappropriate comments onto your anxiety. It’s complete BS. I get that you were taken aback, and I would circle back to this conversation with both her and Mary and say that Jane’s comments are inappropriate regardless of your internal state. Go ahead and tell Jane (and Mary) that regardless of whether she was teasing or serious, you want her to stop. You also don’t want to hear why she thought it was ok to tease you, you just want her to stop.

      to which she responded, “Can you ask for me, you’re his favorite, he’ll do it for you.”

      Oh my. This is on both of you. I sometimes ask a colleague who has a better relationship with a given individual than I do to interact with them, usually when it’s someone I find difficult, but I never say it’s because they are a favorite. I say, “Lucas responds better to you than he does to me,” or something like that.

  47. M*

    OP #4 – I think it’s much more likely that he just forgot. I get plenty of notifications for people who have been gone from jobs for years, and moved up the ladder, saying they are celebrating their 10 year anniversary. For example, my BIL is at the level of his career where he gets consulted on a national level for llama grooming, but his LinkedIn lists him as a junior entry-level llama groomer!

  48. Kat*

    At my current employer, we have an ex-employee who left the company in 2018 that still has it listed as her current workplace on LinkedIn. It drives me crazy because I’m in an industry currently that is very active on LinkedIn in general (recruiting). In fact, since she left the company, I have also left, completed a degree, and returned to the same company in a different role!

    All that to say: there’s really not much you can do here. There’s an option to report it to LinkedIn but it will rarely result in them deleting the profile (ask me how I know :) ) – Alison is right that in this case just decide it doesn’t matter and let it go.

  49. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

    Re: Letter #3

    At one of my former companies, we always got Columbus Day off but had to work the day after Thanksgiving. One year, the owner said, “How about we work on Columbus Day this year and get the day after Thanksgiving off?” He wasn’t asking us – he was telling us. But that was fine with all of us. Until the Monday before Thanksgiving, when he said that we would have to come in on Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) after all. No reason – he just wanted us to come in. People tried saying that they wanted to use a vacation day for Friday, but he said no good, that four days notice for a requested vacation day wasn’t sufficient. He himself wasn’t going to be in, but he said that he was going to do what he always did when he was out – he was going to call in every hour or so and talk to each one of us to make sure that we were in the office (it was a very small company). He also said that anyone who called in sick on Friday would be fired. On Wednesday, he said that he had changed his mind, that the office would be closed on Friday. (I’m sure that a number of people had already changed their plans and now would have to change their plans again.)

    At another former company, after being specifically told by Mary, the owner, that the office would be closed on Monday, December 31, I found out from Fergus that Mary had changed her mind and wanted me to come in that day and do data entry. And that I would be the only employee in the office that day. Fergus managed to succeed in getting Mary to change her mind and allow me to stay at home that day, but I never forgave Mary. For the rest of my time there, I quiet quit, doing as little as possible.

    At yet another former company, when I started there, I was told that there was always a holiday party in December. In December, the owner said that there wouldn’t be a holiday party, but the office would close one hour early on December 24 so we would be free to make our own party. (He meant that we could go to a bar or restaurant and eat and drink at our own expense.) However, when we prepared to leave on December 24, he announced that two employees had to stay and work with him. When the rest of us left, none of us felt like we wanted to have a party. We just silently went our separate ways.

    This bait and switch stuff goes on A LOT.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      My mom quit a job when they told her to come in that Friday–I note the office was going to be closed and she was the receptionist–and when she asked what she was supposed to do, they told her to dust the computers.

  50. Honey Badger just don't care*

    Re #1 – Please please please – ditch the flirting behavior. It is making the rest of your coworkers VERY uncomfortable. I know this because I have dealt with that type of (albeit onsided) behavior between my skip level manager and one of his directs. Her ever so obvious crush on him was borderline sexual harassment and he really needed to shut it down. To his credit, he WAS saying things mildly about it in the meetings (of his entire org!!) where she was doing it. But he really needed to take her aside privately and tell her to stop it. It didn’t end until he got laid off in a reorg. The relief! So we get it. You gotta connection with him. But you are making us uncomfortable and we want to barf. We do think less of you both because of it. It’s hard to take you seriously.

  51. jellied brains*

    LW 1: Jane’s comments are way out of line but you also gotta turn it down. No more flirting. No more doing things for Lucas that you wouldn’t do for anyone else in the building.

    LW 4: you just reminded me that I never updated my LinkedIn since I got my current job…4 years ago. Let it go.

  52. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW#2 — There are lots of people who insert filler words — things like “you know” and “uh” in spoke language. What you’re describing is the written equivalent and, while mildly annoying, it’s essentially meaningless.

    I think it will be better for your overall stress levels if you just stop noticing this.

  53. Lob*

    LW4: Update your resume; the fact that upper management are even considering this means that there’s more going on behind the scenes you don’t know. Best to bail before the other shoe drops.

  54. e271828*

    A question mark signals a question. A double question mark signals the question is asked with raised eyebrows.

  55. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Re situation #4 – you know what’s worse? How about having left a company, and then going to a professional conference and company X – had people on the conference committee and they STILL list you as their employee?

  56. Johannes Bols*

    The LW who wrote that her company told its employees that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day would be paid time off for everybody, and later backtracking on it, made me remember an incident at an office products company I worked for 1995 – 2000 (I think this is the longest sentence I’ve written in a long time!).
    The company was known as the ‘Nordstrom’ of office products due to our sterling customer service. Our outside sales reps knocked themselves out for our customers. One of those customers was high maintenance. We had casual Fridays as a rule. Well, the HM customer was scheduled for a site visit on a Friday. The sales rep wanted casual day called off in order to impress the customer. I was the sales rep’s dedicated inside customer service rep. I told her in no uncertain terms it was a bad idea to cancel casual Friday just for a customer visit. She didn’t listen. The customer wound up cancelling the visit.

  57. Tiger Snake*

    #2 – I’d say it means your colleague has a programming background.

    “??” is used in a lot of programming languages as a particular code commnad. It has a particular meaning – its a type of nullish operator. Essentially, it’s a special “OR” command.

    For your purposes, interpret it as him saying “I’m asking if there’s an ‘or’ or a ‘no’, but I will assume yes until you correct me”.

    “Do we need a meeting OR not”
    “Did you tell the alpaca department we don’t need shampoo, OR are they misinterpreting something else you said”
    “Just a thought, let’s do this OR is it no good because of some other reason I don’t know”

    1. Tiger Snake*

      For context of how I’ve come to know this: My particular team is a really good team for uni grads and interns to start off in. Let’s just say I’m used to seeing the EXACT MOMENT when the IT students ascend to their final form and start using programming as punctuation.
      Some of them later learn workplace norms. But IT being IT, some of them take longer, or forget when they’re stressed out.

      Honestly when it’s something you can time your clocks and measure their university performance by, it’s kind of hilarious.

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