I was fired for what I think are trivial reasons

A reader writes:

A while ago I lost a position after just a few weeks of working there.

I got really good feedback on my interview, and even got great feedback during the first days for going above and beyond what was expected of new teammembers. After a while my grandboss asked me how I was feeling about my work, to which I replied good, that I thought I built up a solid rapport with my coworkers, and was looking forward to more substantive tasks.

He replied I was utterly wrong about my assessment, and listed a series of complaints some of my coworkers and my immediate manager collected about me during my four weeks, and that they would prefer not to continue working with me.

I was stumped. All of these issues sounded highly trivial.

– Speaks too quickly in meetings, sounds hurried
– Made one joke we didn’t like
– Told a coworker not to eat during a longer call, said coworker now no longer wants any interaction with them
– Asked too many questions about processes
– Mentioned being left out of two successive “these are the new employees” announcement speeches, and we didn’t like the tone that was mentioned to us

These are all rather minor things, right? Something your boss should immediately mention, as in “hey, speak a bit slower, we are having trouble keeping up ;)”.

I have never witnessed anything like this before or afterwards, but every position I had since then has made me nervous about unknowingly irritating people by using the wrong tone of voice, or mentioning a topic people have decided they don’t like.

How justified am I in being annoyed here?

It’s really hard to say without knowing more. It’s possible that these complaints were all incredibly trivial, but it’s also possible for them to be pretty serious. It really comes down to the details.

For example, was the “one joke we didn’t like” racist, sexist, homophobic, or other otherwise bigoted? If so, that on its own would a valid reason to cut a new hire loose. On the other hand, if they just objected because it was weak dad humor or something, obviously that wouldn’t be.

Asking too many questions about processes is similarly opaque without more information. It’s good to ask questions when you don’t understand something! Questions are normal and expected when you’re being trained. But it’s also possible for the amount and type of questions a new hire is asking to indicate that they’re not well suited for the role. The same thing could be true if you were asking the same questions over and over, or appearing not to retain info or understand the answers.

Speaking too quickly in meetings and sounding hurried: on the surface this sounds petty. But if you were being brusque and impatient with people or making them feel like you didn’t think they were a good use of your time, that would be a much bigger deal (from anyone, but especially so from a new hire).

Mentioning being left out of two announcements about new employees: that’s a reasonable thing to raise on its face. How you raise it matters a lot. “I noticed I wasn’t mentioned in the new employee announcements; is there a place where we could announce it so people know I’m working on X and Y?” is very different from “what idiot left me off of the new hire list”? I’m guessing you didn’t say the latter, but since they mentioned your tone, I wish I knew what you did say.

More than anything else on your list, though, the thing that jumps out is telling a coworker not to eat during a longer call, because … why? That’s not normally a thing you’d have standing to say unless you were their manager (and it doesn’t sound like you were); that on its own sounds pretty line-crossing to me. And since it sounds like you don’t dispute that you did that, I do wonder if some of the more serious interpretations of the rest of the list are more likely.

Again, I don’t know. But hopefully this illustrates how everything listed could be really small or pretty big.

{ 546 comments… read them below }

  1. cindylouwho*

    I can see politely asking someone not to eat or muting themselves on a call while chewing if it’s loud. Not ordering them not to eat though.

    1. TooTiredTooThink*

      Yeah; even if the person has something like misophonia, muting solves the problem. Unless they misunderstood what the OP asked for?

      1. Random Dice*

        I am guessing that anyone who has the nerve to order a more senior coworker not to eat, as a total newbie, is likely making a good number of of social cue / arrogance mistakes.

        LW, by any chance are you neurodiverse? I am, and hang out with lots of neurospicy people, and it sounds kind of familiar.

        If so, you might want to look into a kind of training called “pragmatics” – speech pathologists provide it, but there are also online courses.

        My very favorite is Michelle Garcia Winner’s “Socially Curious, Curiously Social” book – get it used since it can be pricy – it blew my brain about how social interactions work.

        Good luck – you’ve gotten valuable feedback, and if you take it seriously instead of trying to rules-lawyer yourself out of being fired, you can grow and develop.

        1. Mary Ann Hall*

          Great advice. I also recommend Winner’s book “Social Thinking at Work.” There’s an updated edition. It’s very helpful for deciphering and navigating work place situations. (Full disclosure: I work for Think Social Publishing. I also am parent of a neurodivergent child.)

          1. Charleston Girlie*

            I think I’ll check this out! I’m typically really good with social cues, but something about the workplace tends to mystify me.

          2. Random Dice*

            I didn’t know about this book! Thanks!!!

            And thanks for the incredible work you all do. Please pass along my enthusiastic appreciation! I read Socially Curious and then gave it to my husband to read, and both of us said “If only I’d had this when I was a teenager, my life would have been SO MUCH easier.”

            I’d love if you guys would get audiobook versions into Audible! This is life changing stuff.

        2. socially curious*

          Not the LW, but I’ve been interested in that book before–quite possibly I saw it recommended here! But the subtitle says it’s for “teens and young adults” and I’m in my mid-thirties, so I wasn’t sure if it would be useful for me and didn’t want to shell out for a book of advice for, say, college students.

          1. Mary Ann Hall*

            You can see the complete Table of Contents at the website if that’s helpful. There is information on dating and relationships, etc. but there are also many sections on developing social competencies, managing anxiety, things that may still be relevant to people your age I think.

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            Also, even if the book is aimed at a younger audience, it could be useful to shed light on past interactions. Many of our adult interactions are informed by events from 10 years ago.

          3. Random Dice*

            It’s teen focused, but for those of us who had to learn social skills the hard way, it still is revelatory.

            But I haven’t yet read “Social Thinking at Work” (though I just ordered it) so I’ll report back when I do.

            1. Random Dice*

              To expand: here’s what I found most revelatory (in my own, awkward words – the book does it way better)…

              We have the ability to impact how people think about us, through “expected” interactions (which the book outlines in a calm, logical way) that leave a positive feeling in others, or “unexpected” interactions that give people a weird feeling – several of these unexpected interactions can leave a negative impression and make people uncomfortable with us. But we have the power to turn that around.

              The concept that small talk is not useless, it’s a way for people to suss out comfort level with each other, and decide if we want to be friends. We socially awkward tend to want to jump straight into our special interests, and get frustrated by small talk. The book does an incredible job of explaining why it’s worth doing anyway, and what function it serves in social trust.

              The idea that different settings have different underlying expectations. That goofing around in a social setting is expected behavior, but in class the group is more focused on the task and moving forward, so the same goofing off can rub others badly. I can see the application to work meetings so it feels pretty one-to-one.

              There’s info on how to figure out if teasing is friendly social glue, vs bullying or mean.

        3. Raging Iron Thunder*

          This is a great looking book, but seriously goes for $60 on amazon in Canada. Ebay and abebooks aren’t much better. :(

            1. Longtime Lurker*

              I just found it for $14 (US) on Amazon and ordered it. I have a 22 year old neurodiverse child who struggles socially. There was another copy on Amazon for $47!!! Both used.

            2. LongEaredLibrarian*

              Unfortunately, it looks like this is one that isn’t going to be available at most libraries. There is a 2nd edition that is available from the publisher’s website for $30
              but it’s not available for purchase from at least one of the major library book jobbers– I looked because it seems like a great resource for a need at my library.
              Library policies usually require books to be at least a) available from the book jobber and/or b) reviewed in the library press.
              (I’m pointing this out so the person from Think Social Press might be able to pass the word back, as it’s a popular topic for young people that’s poorly covered in the stuff available from the jobber!)

              1. Random Dice*

                I just bought Social Thinking at Work for $30 on eBay. There tends to only be one used copy that’s truly affordable at a time, so I had to check back several times. (One can set an alert on eBay)

    2. Bird Lady*

      I’ve asked folks to mute themselves or refrain from loud activities while on calls. Not necessarily eating, but typing, tapping, etc… On a Zoom call, I had a colleague attempt to multi-task and was typing on the call. The combination of her keyboard being naturally loud and where she placed her mic (literally right next to the keyboard) made it difficult to hear anyone who was soft-spoken.

      But still, it’s all about how you ask folks to change their behavior. For example, when it became so disruptive to the call that no one could focus, I did briefly pause the meeting and indicated that there were some loud background noises so if you weren’t actively speaking, to please mute yourself. I didn’t call anyone out specifically, and explained why muting was necessary – to hear softer speaking colleagues!

      I think being the leader of the call also certainly helped.

      1. Inkognyto*

        The leader of the call can mute them. You have that power.

        Use it. “I’m muting the extra background noise” and then you do it.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          There’s also a good intersection. I realized I was the loud unmuted typer when a leader once said sharply, “I can hear some loud typing. I’m going to mute the background noise.” Oops. I uncharacteristically had the call on the speaker of my desk phone (I usually worked at home and was on a mobile), which was by my keyboard and I didn’t realize.

        2. Bird Lady*

          Our office culture was somewhat toxic about muting people. They would simply un-mute themselves, even if we had announced we were muting those who were not the speaker. It was so bad that someone literally unmuted themselves to tell a foreign diplomat who had just facilitated a major win for our org to stop talking and begin the presentation.

          Yes, that was me on mute, video off, under my desk trying to laugh because I wanted to cry I was so mortified.

      2. Nebula*

        In the early days of my organisation using Zoom, pre-pandemic, I was on a new project and joined a Zoom call and was merrily typing up notes the whole hour and a half meeting. It was only afterwards that my manager said ‘When you type when we’re on Zoom, it’s really loud and everyone can hear it, it was quite disruptive.’ Needless to say, I didn’t do that again, or muted myself when typing, but I wish someone had said something in the actual call!

    3. MellyBel*

      Yes. I can’t imagine telling someone not to eat during meetings. No matter how much I may be annoyed.

      1. Over It*

        I will take it upon myself to mute someone who is chewing/causing background noise on internal meetings without saying anything. At least on Teams, no one can tell who muted you and I’ve never had someone react badly. I find that much more effective than repeatedly asking if whoever is making background noise can please mute. But I would never ask someone to stop eating!

          1. Over It*

            If someone from your organization created the meeting link, it should be possible unless IT has set up a different configuration. If you’re joining a Teams meeting hosted by another organization, you may not have those privileges. But it’s been a total lifesaver for internal meetings :)

        1. Blarg*

          My favorite super power is muting people. For large meetings on Zoom, I always volunteer to be a co-host to be responsible for muting anyone who makes a peep out of turn. It is the greatest feeling for some reason.

          1. RC*

            Oh, hard SAME!

            Would I rather they just had good call etiquette to begin with? Maybe. But yes it weirdly feels like a superpower.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          My spouse’s theory when doing this is that the person obviously thinks they are muted, so you are just changing the settings to match what they believe is already there.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            Or has no idea they are audible and being picked up, or didn’t know the sound was THAT annoying (and I say this as someone who has dumped a perfectly nice person I was dating for chewing too loud. I also make people spit out their gum before they get in my car).

            But either way: *\o/* Thank you, Hubs! Doing the Workplace Lord’s work.

        3. Gemma*

          We had a problem employee on our team that crossed a lot of social boundaries and I think was likely drunk a lot (remote work). Our team lead went out of her way to publicly praise every small thing she did right. I don’t know if this was because she felt guilty about the hard conversations she had to have with her or because she felt the low level annoyance from everyone else on the team. She eventually got fired, but it definitely dragged on longer than it should have. I wonder if some of the praise this person was getting was similarly disingenuous, which could explain the disconnect.

      2. Ellen N.*

        I agree. I have misophonia; hearing someone chew amplified and in my ear is torture for me. However, my misophonia is my responsibility. I don’t have the right to control others’ behavior.

        The exception is my husband. Sometimes he gets curious about what I’m looking at on my computer so he puts his head right next to my shoulder. If he’s eating I tell him, “You know I have misophonia. Stop chewing in my ear.”.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          You are so polite. I must resolve to be politer to my sister and my SO when they chew.


          Near me.

          1. Alexander Graham Yell*

            My dad just gets up on turns on music, or gives us a look and we all know to move farther away from him.

            The first time I had dinner with a friend and they weren’t playing background music I was SO confused – I genuinely thought it was a requirement that dinner = music.

            1. radiant*

              I have a specific look too – I didn’t know I was doing it (or that misophonia was a thing then, because I was a kid), but my family knew if they were eating too loud if I did “the look”.

              Weirdly, my cats loudly eating their food is one of my favourite sounds?! But other humans? Absolutely not.

              1. Arglebarglor*

                People eating? NO
                Dogs eating? YES!
                People snoring/breathing loudly? OH HECK NO
                Dogs snoring? YES PLEASE
                It’s weird but true

            2. Random Dice*

              I ask people before turning on music in social settings.

              “Anyone have an issue with music – auditory processing or the like?”

              My sister literally can’t hear words if there are other sounds (I forgot what the hearing tests named that as, but it’s a real thing!), and my girlfriend has tinnitus so she struggles to hear people, and my father has significant hearing loss and his hearing aids aren’t great at filtering out music.

              Lots of reasons why background music can make life hard. But it’s lovely without those things.

      3. aunttora*

        I can totally imagine this. If the person CAN’T be muted because they’re speaking, but also chewing. As a misophoniac…it is PAINFUL. Why does anything think the sound of their chewing is benign? Even if you don’t have misophonia, it’s so rude. But if I were a brand new employee I probably wouldn’t say anything. (As a very longstanding employee, I did ask my new boss not to do it. He didn’t care for it.)

        1. Garblesnark*

          It’s not that I think others should enjoy my chewing sound.

          Sometimes due to a medical condition I have to eat a bunch of salty food RIGHT NOW or I might disrupt the meeting more by passing out.

        2. ClaireW*

          Unfortunately in some cases, like my current role, sometimes my manager either has to eat during a call or not eat for the entire day. He tries to choose calls where he won’t be expected to speak much bu you can’t always predict when people will need your input. I get that it can be uncomfortable to listen to, but I have to remind myself that he would also much rather have a proper lunch break if he could so he’s not doing it AT me lol

        3. BubbleTea*

          People who aren’t sensitive to sounds probably don’t even recognise that eating makes noise (other than obviously noisy things like crunch foods). NT people can filter out background sound so effectively they forget it’s there.

        4. Lydia*

          Just a reminder that chewing is not a malicious action someone is taking AT you. They’re just doing their thing when it’s convenient to do it. Asking for people to mute themselves is fine and if they get all huffy, they are jerks.

    4. Lea*

      Yeah and I think normal social rules would dictate you not pull this stuff your first week. This is something you say to a corker you know well enough to know they won’t be bothered!

      Also the thing about being left out of new employee lists seems petty and you should talk to your friends about it not your boss.

      Just an overall overbearing too much feeling is what I’m Getting from this person. Sounds they need to work on their social skills and learn to read a room

      1. Lizzie*

        I got that vibe as well. Kind of like well, this is how I am, take me or leave me. And a little oblivious.

      2. Budgie Buddy*

        Nah I think being left out of the new employee list is weirdly hostile and worth mentioning. As unpleasant as OP might be, he *is* a new employee. He kind of does…exist.

        Excluding him is just a more formalized version of greeting everyone in the room by name but looking through one person as if they’re empty space.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          It’s not necessarily hostile. I work in a place where before the pandemic, we had quarterly new employee welcome breakfasts. Every new employee hired during the previous quarter had their name announced to introduce them to everyone else. But it’s a fairly large workplace, and this meant that sometimes a person was accidentally left out of the list of a dozen or so people. Just an error–at worst, carelessness rather than hostility.

          1. NeedlesslyEmpathetic*

            But- oooof. It’d suck to be that new person, overseen and ignored. “Why are all these other people acknowledged and I’m forgotten?” That’s a bad start to a new job and really shouldn’t happen.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Yeah, I’ve been there — my name never got on the list of new people in the monthly email. I mentioned it to my boss as “FYI, I sent you and HR that bio, but I was left out of the monthly email.” … and it wasn’t there next month, either. (He is in many ways a good boss, but this is the sort of details that sometimes slip through the cracks.)

              I decided that mentioning it once was enough, and that it was an oversight I wasn’t going to get upset about. And two years later, when I got a promotion, it was eventually acknowledged in the successor to that email, so I’ve finally been recognized as an employee who exists, I guess.

            2. The Rural Juror*

              We have a once-a-month Monday call for office updates and whatnot where we announce new hires from the previous month. Someone starting that Monday might feel left out, but it’s up to the person doing their orientation to tell them they’ll be featured on the next one!

            3. shannaconda*

              It’s happened to me! When I started in a new job, I didn’t get access to a bunch of systems and material I apparently needed to train on for the first several days, but I had no idea I was missing it until another new hire brought it up (and I was doing other shadowing so it didn’t seem like my time was weirdly empty or anything). I had to ask what everyone was referring to in a meeting. I also got left out of a monthly new hire lunch with regional leadership and had to ask to be added the next month. Later, I also found out I hadn’t been sent the branded swag other new hires got sent. did I really want a company branded blanket? No, but it still was really demoralizing to feel forgotten about.

          2. Myrin*

            Yeah, it can be intentional and hostile, it can also be careless (still not ideal) or even some sort of internal error. I do understand that it can sting, though.

          3. Llellayena*

            I got left out of this at my current company, sort of. I did get the welcome introductory email, but they had a thing where the new hires would talk about themselves at the next office wide meeting. Well…the next meeting was several months later and I wasn’t “new” anymore. They didn’t realize it until the next new hire, asked if i wanted to get up and talk and I said nope! I didn’t feel left out but I did comment on it a couple of times.

            1. Totally Minnie*

              I had a similar experience. My department was between directors when I was hired, and by the time the new director planned a department meeting, I’d been there for 4 months. So at the same meeting they gave my new employee introduction, they also had me on several lists of employees who had been part of important projects over the last few months. It was kind of hilarious.

              We had had a couple of department meetings with an interim director before this happened and she hadn’t done my new employee announcement, but I’ve learned since then that people-ing isn’t her best skill, so I had to let that go.

          4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            It’s happened to me! I started the day before one of the monthly meetings and they’d already made the slides, and by the next people didn’t think of me as “new”anymore. I shrugged and moved on.

          5. B*

            Where I see the ‘left off the welcome list’ is when they’re hired right at the cutoff between one list and another, so when the announcement goes out the first time they hadn’t started yet when the list was originally pulled together and the next time it goes out the person putting together the list sees the start date is around when they sent out before so they assume you were included in the previous list.

            Figuring out how to do “at least once”, “at most once” or “exactly once” solutions for a problem, and deciding which you want, is difficult

          6. Emma*

            There is really no excuse for it. HR has the information at their fingertips. And frankly the only appropriate response to having such an issue brought to light is to profusely apologize for the error and figure out how to not let it happen again.

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              Profusely? For someone falling through the cracks and not having their name on a PowerPoint slide? Profusely is for screwing up benefits or withholding or something. This is “Oops, sorry” territory, and I say that as someone who has it happen to me.

              1. Me...Just Me*

                I am sitting here *wowing* at how upset people seem to be about having their name left off a list by people who don’t know them. It’s not like a new employee is a well-known, rock-star presence who should be *whoop-whooped* and highlighted — sorry, you’re just Jane from accounting who started last week and is parking in the wrong spot and doesn’t know where the good restroom is yet.

                I understand being a little deflated – but it’s literally not personal. You’re a faceless entity that nobody knows yet — they don’t know you well enough to be attacking you, yet.

                1. Florence Reece*

                  I gotta say, this reply is dismissive in exactly the way new employee welcomes are meant to combat. Of course it’s hurtful to join a new company, especially a large company, and watch others be recognized as new employees but not be recognized yourself. Sure, that’s “just” the new person (who you seem immediately distasteful towards, cool attitude problem) to you, but to the new person it can be pretty important to be forgotten in the one spot carved out specifically to acknowledge and welcome you.

                  And it literally is personal! It’s not personal from the rest of the company I guess, but it is personal if your boss hires you, trains you, and then forgets you exist when the “Welcome New Employees” list comes round. There’s no way for that NOT to be personal. Your boss should know you! If your boss sees you as a faceless entity, you have a serious team morale problem on your hands!

              2. Baunilha*

                Right. I once was left off of a e-mail announcing employees who got promoted and that stung for like an hour. These things happen, it’s not something that is done AT the forgotten person, it’s just something that slipped through the cracks.

            2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

              A profuse apology would make sense if a new hire was off a standing a meeting they were supposed to be at (but because they are new would otherwise not know was happening) because that could cause a legitimate issue (like the new hire’s manager and colleagues thinking they just skipped the meeting). Leaving someone off a “Here are our October new hires!” email warrants a follow up email of “Ooop, looks like we accidentally left off Gretel who started in Marketing!”

            3. Beth**

              That’s assuming that either HR are the ones putting the list together or that HR will share their information with whoever is doing it.

              In my company, new employee announcements are made in local business areas. In my area, it’s a random Administrator who compiles the list and it’s routinely full of errors. In the last year, we’ve all been given access to the relevant HR data, so there’s really no excuse. But prior to that, HR used to claim is was against data protection rules to give out that kind of information.

        2. Dreama*

          I agree. I’ve seen this move weaponized or used to dismiss a person’s importance a helluva lot.

        3. Ex-prof*

          It happened to me before. I didn’t consider it hostile. I’m quiet and withdrawn and very easy to overlook.

          1. Zee*

            Agree. I got left out of the new employee update my work did and just went “huh, that HR person is not good at this minor aspect of their job” and moved on with my life.

          2. Turkey*

            Nobody in my firm was given an announcement when I started, they all knew *someone* was hired for the job but there was a change in office managers at the time and it never got circulated. I think it’s a pretty strange thing to get hung up on as I don’t really see how it affects someone’s ability to do their job.

            1. allathian*

              It depends a lot on the culture at that particular office and also on the personality of the person who doesn’t get the acknowledgement that everyone else gets. Some shrug it off, some with social anxiety who hate having any kind of attention paid to them probably welcome it, and some consider it to be rude at best and a betrayal at worst. It wouldn’t be out of line to feel unwelcome in a situation like that.

          3. THAT girl*

            Right?! People using words like “hostile” and “weaponized” seems a little overblown. People make mistakes. Yes, they should be more careful and should make it right when politely and professionally called out on it but to assume that there are ill intentions is being a little sensitive. In order to even be remotely happy in the workplace, or anywhere else for that matter, you need to be able to sometimes let minor (or even major) slights go and just move on.

            1. Sallyhoo*

              Exactly. And, usually most people don’t even read the new employee email, in the stream of minorly relevant admin email announcements; they either meet you in person/on email if they’re going to work with you or they aren’t going to ever interact and don’t care at all. Like this is such a non-issue and has zero impact on how anyone actually does their job.

        4. Olive*

          At my company, sometimes the new employee announcements come out right before the employee has their email and accounts set up, so they might not see their own acknowledgement. I wouldn’t jump immediately to assuming that I was deliberately left out.

      3. Professional Straphanger*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily petty. At my work we have “hails and farewells” (why yes, I do work for a military-adjacent organization) in our quarterly all-staff meetings and they serve as continuity when people rotate in and out. “Please welcome X, they come to us from [previous place] and are taking over for Y so they will be your point person on all matters concerning [project or job function].”

        Although I agree this person seems pretty tone deaf about work related social norms.

    5. Over It*

      This. I have days where I’m on 5-6 hours of back-to-back meetings. I am going to be eating lunch during one of them, and I will not be asking permission to do so. I’m good about making sure I’m muted so no one needs to listen to my chewing noises since that’s just online etiquette (and I prefer to keep my camera off when eating also). But if anyone ever tried to forbid me from eating entirely, we would have problems.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Especially if it was not someone senior to me! Even if it was my direct manager I’d bring it up at my next 1:1. “You’ve asked me not to eat in meetings, so I will start blocking out meeting-free time to do so. Which of these recurring meetings are you okay with rescheduling or having me miss?”

      2. Migraine Month*

        You can have me eating (while muted, as much as possible) or you can have me hangry. Choose carefully.

    6. Meh*

      I had an SVP who didn’t like people to eat during meetings, but she would constantly schedule last minute early morning and lunchtime meetings. I was very very irritated by this directive from her, and she did have the seniority to pull it off. If some brand new hire started telling me not to eat during a long meeting I would hangrily swear a vendetta against them – ha!

    7. Menace to Sobriety*

      Yeah especially for a NEW team member to be like “Don’t eat on the call” seemed a bit of an overreach! As for the process questions, I’m thinking not so much “So how do we format the TTPs” but more “why on earth do we do it like this when doing it like THAT makes more sense”. Not questioning for knowledge but questioning literally the process. Obviously, speculation but I’ve met (and fired) those kinds of people and for a person to not want to work with him anymore because of the “don’t eat” thing… it feels like it had to be delivered unkindly or sharply or .. not in a “I’m sorry; I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying while you’re chewing, can you pause for a minute while you speak” kinda thing. Hopefully since then, the OP has taken those things to heart and is more thoughtful in how he approaches other people and tasks in their new position.

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Yeah, it’s really easy as a new employee in your second or third job, or your first new one in a long time, to fall into the trap of judging things that are different from your previous job before you have complete enough context to fully appreciate why they’re different.

        I’ve even successfully introduced a process improvement as a newish employee, about 3-4 weeks in, but I was careful to make clear when I raised the idea that I’m still learning our systems and recognize there might be very good reasons why we aren’t doing X thing I’d learned at a previous job, but did folks know we might be able to do X and save a good bit of team members’ time? It was a somewhat obscure software feature hidden in advanced settings that weren’t properly documented, ones the software vendor generally communicated as “leave these all on default if you don’t know what they mean,” and nobody at my new job had understood those settings enough to want to mess with them before, so they were actually quite thrilled to implement what I suggested once I explained what the setting controlled and how the change I was suggesting would better fit the internal processes I’d been taught (basically automating some steps that had previously been done manually).

        Many more times than that, I’ve diplomatically asked why my new team isn’t doing X, and the response was a very excellent reason why X wouldn’t work in tandem with other processes. And each of those times, I was glad to have asked about X in tone/language that conveyed I wanted to learn what they knew that I didn’t yet, instead of a way that conveyed I thought I already knew better than them.

    8. VaguelySpecific*

      I have been the person eating on a call before…because the people who scheduled the call didn’t take into consideration that they were in a different time zone and the call was during my lunch period. I didn’t have the option to eat at any other time due to the nature of my job so I brought a sandwich with me and ate it on the call. I tried to make as little noise as possible but the meeting leader did ask what the noise was (from the wrapper I assume) and I told them I was eating as this is my lunch time. They did apologize for scheduling it during lunch, I did try to mute the mic that was nearest me when I didn’t need to talk and maybe I was a little bit of an ass for it but I also couldn’t eat while on the shop floor working on a machine!

      If a meeting is scheduled at someone’s normal lunch time (or scheduled last minute at the only time they could eat lunch) I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them NOT to eat during it, so long as they mute when they are eating and not participating and don’t talk with their mouth full…

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        As a misophoniac, I don’t care if you eat. I very much want you to be happily fueled and hydrated.

        I just care whether I hear it happening.

        1. The Linen Porter*

          ”Asks too many questions”

          A new hire can not ask *enough* questions!

          (some of the questions may make you awkward and question yourself, however, that is your problem to figure out why was that question asked)

          Unless you have a ”military standard” induction package, and even then the rookies who will survive will ask questions… the rest are cannonfodder to go over with a whistle blow.

          1. Menace to Sobriety*

            I disagree completely. If I train you on a process and instead of trying to learn the process, you’re questioning THE PROCESS and why it’s done that way, which is frankly above your paygrade. This is how you have to format your report. Just do it. I’ve had employees do that, quite aggressively. It isn’t helping them do their job. It’s wasting time answering “But why” questions, etc….If they’re asking GENUINE “Hey where do I find X?” “Can you walk me through submitting this help ticket?” etc.. by all means those are legitimate questions. But the LW said the complaint was they asked too many questions about the process, which inclines me to believe they were being argumentative about the process, versus “what is the process.”

            1. Curious Jess*

              And I disagree completely here. Asking “why” questions as a new hire is something I’ve always been encouraged to do, and encourage in those I train, because it can shed light on inefficiencies, redundancies, missing stair scenarios, and other situations where the folks working there have been doing it for so long that they just…do it, when there could be a better way.

              1. chewingle*

                It absolutely can. But at the same time, imagine working for a company that has A LOT of inefficient processes and you, the manager, have brought it up a number of times and been shut down because no one wants to learn new processes. Having a nee hire question it once or twice is one thing. Having them badger you about it (but trying to pass it off as “just asking”) is absolutely infuriating. It really depends on a lot of factors.

          2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Yeah, I’m wondering whether the questions OP was asking were perhaps covered in a document they should have read before the meeting, or showed that they didn’t have some basic knowledge that they ought to have learned in Workplace 101.

            1. chewingle*

              This is what I was thinking. I’ve had employees whose response to training documents is, “You want me to read all of this??” And then they don’t and wind up asking me the *same questions* that are *answered in the document* over and over. And over. And over.

          3. Burger Bob*

            If I’ve taught it to you–more than once–AND shown you where to find the information if you forget….there comes a point where you should not still be asking certain questions. HOW you ask is also important. There are ways to ask that are genuinely seeking information, and then there are ways to rhetorically ask in a condescending manner that is meant to criticize a process and everyone who uses it.

        2. Billy Preston*

          Yes, exactly this. Go for it, eat and drink all you want! Just mute yourself and/or turn off your camera if you can.

    9. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      Asking them if they don’t mind not eating/ or muting and turning off camera is reasonable (since it is gross to see and hear on zoom). But you ask apologetically and gently. You don’t “tell.” Especially when you’re new and don’t even know them well!

    10. Apricot*

      Just because of the norms at my company I was thinking video call, and I could see especially if it’s a messy food maybe making a suggestion about eating off-camera if possible, but even then the delivery and framing of the message is key.

    11. Jade*

      Yes. It is not their place to issue orders to coworkers. And complaining about not being mentioned as a new hire sounds like OP may be a lot of work.

    12. saf*

      I hate people who eat at me on the phone.

      One of my friends does it all the time, and tells me that I am wrong, and it is not annoying.


      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        On the phone is worse, since there’s no mute and the microphone is right there by your mouth!

      2. Kate*

        That’s when you cheerfully say, “Oops, sounds like you’re busy, call me back when you’re done with lunch!” Click.

    13. chewingle*

      And that depends on the situation, too. If someone schedule a last minute meeting at a time when everyone is normally taking lunch, then watching or listening to someone eat is going to be the natural consequence of that. Some people have health issues that would make things hard if they skipped or delayed lunch.

      So again, it’s all about context. OP’s vagueness on all of these issues makes me think there is something to Alison’s remarks.

  2. ecnaseener*

    I do think your boss should’ve promptly pointed these issues out instead of just saving them up to deliver in the firing conversation. That is crummy, and I get why it makes you nervous about unknowingly irritating people now!

    1. Ex-prof*

      Agreed. Although I did wonder if it hadn’t been intended (by the boss) to be a firing conversation, but then it went south.

      1. Human Manager*

        I think this is a good point. I get the impression that the OP doesn’t have an accurate assessment of how they present. It’s possible that their tone in this conversation came across as combative or arrogant, and their demeanor could have turned a constructive feedback session into a firing conversation.

      2. Momma Bear*

        I had a meeting with a newish manager that was a mid-year review (surprise to me…which tells you about their management skills). A number of grievances came up, including that there were complaints made about me by the client. Would have been nice to know! That was the day I started looking for a new job.

        They may all have been legit complaints, but it’s poor management to let your employee think things are OK when they are not.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        I wondered too. It’s unkind and strange to start with “how do you think it’s going?” if you plan to fire them. Maybe the boss was sure they also thought it was not working out and would say so.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yeah, I thought maybe the boss thought they would say “well, it’s OK on X, but I’m having a tough time with Y and Z, and B still makes no sense to me and I don’t really feel like I belong in this job” and they’d be able to say “oh, maybe this isn’t the right place for you and let’s discuss separation and making sure you get a good reference”.
          It’s still not a good tactic, mind. But maybe that was in their head?

        2. Tally miss*

          I agree. If you have people that set you up like that so they can then slam you, its good to get away from them as they are monsters.

          So while the OP sounds like there may need to be some relationship calibration, getting away from this job is probably for the best.

        3. Me...Just Me*

          I wonder if that question was to determine if the OP was completely unaware (oblivious) to how they were being perceived and that the answer was the reason they moved towards firing rather than counseling.

          If the OP’s response was self-reflective and there had been some awareness of mis-steps, then they likely would have just put them on a PIP or just had a talk about things. Something along the lines, “I think things are going well, but I think that in my enthusiasm I may be asking too many questions.” or “I think I’m doing well but, boy I can’t believe I actually told someone to stop eating during our Teams meeting. Don’t know what I was thinking and I just blurted it out.” These responses show some awareness that could have led to them keeping their job. To counter that, a response like “Everything is going great. I’m settling in and have already figured out how to improve some of the processes here. I’m thinking that Jane should be doing her job differently. I already told her my thoughts on it.”

          I think the supervisor was testing the waters to see if things could be salvaged or if they just needed to part ways.

          1. biobotb*

            This is what I was thinking. The OP had only been there a month, the manager may have decided that getting them to understand the issues would have been too much effort.

          2. Chlorine-Queen*

            One thing that stood out to me was LW saying in their self-assessment that they were looking forward to “more substantive tasks” after four weeks of employment. Obviously there’s a lot of details here we don’t have, but it reminds me a lot of a newer guy currently working at my organization who reeeeeally doesn’t have much more than the bare basics down- and even then, not all of them- but takes every opportunity he can to bring up how he wants to take on more responsibility, like a team leadership position. He’s not looking at losing his position altogether yet because there isn’t any egregious enough thing that’s happened to be worth firing him over, but as others could mention I could see that “highly trivial “one joke they didn’t like”” being grounds to cut ties with LW.

        4. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          This is my thought as well. Like, the boss was anticipating some version of “Well, I think I’m handling the actual work well enough, but I am not sure if I’m really gelling with the culture. I’m worried I am coming off more abrasive than I mean to” Or even potentially looking for some indication this behavior was out of character (maybe they are in the middle of a move with a toddler and so they are edgier than they typically are?). But complete obliviousness is not a great sign and if the LW tried to challenge these reasons as “petty”, I’m not sure the manager would have seen any light at the end of the tunnel to indicate this employee could improve.

    2. Anne Shirley*

      I agree and came here to say something similar. Sounds like a “gotcha” conversation and I recoiled at this, even though I think the concerns were valid. I hate being set up and feel bad when others are.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This! And I would be interested to know if the OP had similar conversations before or since.

        I had a terrible manager who set me up (new employee informing employees in another department about unpopular new process – that was not related to our department’s work; I was younger then and had been a trainer in a different division, so it didn’t seem as weird to me as it should have). Months and months later at my yearly review, she used complaints about me (which were really about the process change) against me.

        Apparently, I was “condescending,” which was a weird word choice from this group, so I have always suspected it was suggested to them. Especially after another coworker in that department who had a terrible attendance problem told me the same thing and blamed her attendance – which has been awful when we worked in completely unrelated departments – on me. I decided not to share with her that I found her lazy and untrustworthy.

        It really affected my interactions with everyone for a while. But I have never had any other manager give me similar feedback. And that one ended up being fired eventually.

        That being said, I do think it’s possible the OP was rude, it’s possible that the employer was oversensitive or had an ulterior motive in getting rid of the OP, or it could be a little of both.

          1. allathian*

            Oh yes, me too. Although I can’t imagine being condescending at work… It’s not exactly the way to win friends and influence people.

      2. Long Time Lurker*

        Buuuut LW says grandboss asked them how they were feeling about the work. That might be ‘hey, how’s it all going ‘ or it might be ‘all right LW, now you’re a month in, could you give me a honest assessment of how it’s feeling to you.’ It might not be the gotcha LW feels it was.

    3. Former Young Lady*

      Yeah, good bosses don’t wait until they have a nice full quiver of arrows. If they really did collect that many negative impressions in a few short weeks, they weren’t being very proactive about addressing the first ones.

    4. tinaturner*

      I think some of you are taking LW’s word for what went down when it could well be different, as the answer pointed out.
      Don’t take him so literally; ask yourself if this guy seems to grasp that it’s his JOB to “fit in.” They’re already there. He’s new. He needs to work on fitting into the group.
      The hints are there that he didn’t get that. Picture what he’s like if the co. is right & he’s a bad fit. You’d fire him too.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I mean yeah, I’m operating on the assumption that the boss didn’t give any of this feedback earlier, because that’s what the letter says. We’re not here to cross-examine LWs and get to the bottom of what really happened, we’re here to discuss the questions raised, and one of the primary questions raised in the letter was whether the boss should’ve raised these issues immediately. This is a completely separate question to whether the firing itself was reasonable.

        1. Change name for today*

          It’s very possible the boss thought he was addressing it with OP, but not directly. There are tons of letters from managers writing in asking for advice when they are trying to tell their employee something but haven’t been direct and expect the employee to read between the lines.

      2. Kara*

        So part of it is that we are to take the LW at their word, per the commenting rules. “Be kind” is another one; Alison asks us to think how we’d word constructive criticism to a friend who was having a bad day, and to phrase it that way. And if we do have constructive criticism, this is an advice column: how is this actionable for the LW? I would suggest looking inward for a moment to think of the best ways bosses and/or coworkers have given you advice in the past, and then use that to rephrase your advice to the LW. Your take is that the LW needs to work on fitting into their new group and that not doing so may have gotten them fired; so what suggestions can you offer that would help them follow that advice in the future? Do you have any scripts that could help in the example situations listed in the letter, or can you perhaps suggest some reading material that might help them better navigate office social situations?

        1. evens*

          Sometimes we can’t take the OP at their word. Sometimes it’s “kind” to point out that they are missing the elephant in the room. This letter seems like one of those cases, and it’s okay to say so.

          1. Kara*

            But even if that’s so, there’s better and worse ways to phrase it. And ways that are more or less likely to prompt someone to consider how their actions are coming across.

      3. Burger Bob*

        Also, it was GRANDboss. A few weeks in. We are very possibly missing some important context here, and LW was so out of line that boss called in grandboss to address it.

    5. Observer*

      I do think your boss should’ve promptly pointed these issues out instead of just saving them up to deliver in the firing conversation.

      Granted. But I’m wondering if their manager actually *did* try to mention at least some of this stuff, and the OP didn’t “hear” it. Because it’s interesting that the OP thought that they had this “solid” rapport with people while their manager was really upset with them and one team mate was actually *so* upset that they do not want any interaction with the OP. Clearly they are missing a lot of clues.

      1. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

        There is an entire backlog of dozens and dozens of letters to this very site where Managers are afraid of how to talk to their employees about bad performance and other sensitive topics. It is not a stretch to think this OP may not have had any heads up.

        1. Change name for today*

          Or management just wasn’t direct with OP, and expected OP to pick up on subtle hints without addressing it head on.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            Or not-so subtle hints! I’ve known people who were oblivious to all but the most direct and literal communication. Indirect communication, no matter how heavy-handed, either went right past them or they chose to ignore it.

            1. Victoria Everglot*

              Someone who doesn’t know that telling people not to eat is rude may well be someone who doesn’t pick up the kinds of big hints other people think are obvious.

        2. Dina*

          There is also an entire backlog of update letters where managers write in talking about employees being “blindsided” about things that had been the subject of multiple conversations…

      2. Robin*

        Also, the fatal conversation was not with his manager, but with his grandboss. Now, it could have been that Manager was not good at delivering hard truths and had to call in the big guns. Or, OP was just blithely living in his own reality, and only the shock of hearing the grandboss say it (and also say, “You’re fired) was able to penetrate.

        I hate to see get fired, but there was something about the OP going on and on about how well they were doing and how much he was liked only to be quickly out the door that made wonder the reality here.

        1. Sprigatito*

          At a previous job, we had a team member who had been given feedback/advice/counseling for months about their performance issues, but it wasn’t until I as the grandboss stepped in and said, no, really, you need to improve and we mean it, that it finally dawned on them that there was actually a problem, so I could definitely see that being the case.

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Yes, I agree. We’ve seen so many cases of managers trying to explain to employees that if they don’t improve their llama grooming by the end of the month, they’ll be out, then the employee is completely blindsided when they follow through. Sometimes this is because of the sandwich method “You’re doing great with the alpacas, you have great rapport with them, but the llamas are spitting more than usual, they don’t seem happy when you groom them, so maybe you could work on that. But we’re delighted with your good work with the alpacas – keep it up!” where the person’s only takeaway is that they are great with alpacas. But whatever the method of delivery, some people only hear what they want to hear and I think it’s highly likely that OP is one of these people.

      4. Me...Just Me*

        I thought the boss (and grand-boss) moved on this very quickly. It’s not like the OP had been there the better part of a year — I think he said a month or so? If things are that bad, that fast — firing is the option.

      5. Migraine Month*

        I know this will be a hard comment section to read, but the OP might benefit from looking closely at the reasons they thought they had a good rapport with their coworkers when that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Is this mixing up politeness with warmth? Is their definition of “rapport” miscalibrated for the office?

    6. MovieDude*

      This happened to me back in part-time Mall retail days. I was at this place a few months by this point. Good product knowledge, worked well with customers and co-workers, reliable, etc. I wasn’t good at the upselling or add-ons and the insane quotas we had to do; that part all felt so fake and forced to me. To me, it was a way to sour a good sale by getting super transationy (like I said, I was good with customers, in a natural way).
      Anyway, we reach the end of the holiday season, where we had added a bunch of temporary help. I overheard my boss say she wanted to keep this one girl, but had too many non-seasonal and had to lose one. She was absolutely terrible to work with, bad at the registers, and awful product knowledge (we worked in a movie store, so knowing the stock and, you know, movies at all would be good. BUT, she was a good flirt and cute and got teenage/just past teenage boys with disposable income to spend a ton and buy bunch of things.
      Next shift, I come in and I’m out. Suddenly have 5 write-ups for trivial stuff she never brought up before.
      It was such bull.

      1. RagingADHD*

        The manager chose to keep the salesperson who upsold and moved a lot of product, and let go the person who spent a lot of time chatting with customers but wasn’t meeting quotas (and had attitude about why the quotas were there)?

        Yeah, that seems eminently reasonable to me. Of course it would have been better if the boss addressed the performance and attitude issue directly. But getting people with disposable income to spend a ton and buy a bunch of things was literally the whole job.

      2. Nope.*

        You had quotas. You admit you were bad at meeting them, and that she did. I’m not seeing where the bull is, aside from your implication that she was only a good salesperson because she was young and pretty, and your aloofness to the fact that you were likely fired for not participating in a crucial job task. You didn’t do your job, she did. But sure, they liked her better because she was pretty.

      3. Nebulita*

        Your female co-worker, unlike you, didn’t flat-out refuse to do an important aspect of her job because she felt she knew better.

        Also, between that and your misogynist description of that co-worker, I would not be surprised to learn that your boss picked up on your attitude toward women.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yeah, MovieDude really spelled it out for us. Yikes. It’s sad he doesn’t seem to have learned from that experience at all.

    7. WillowSunstar*

      Right, a new person should get at least 1 warning. The only way I could really see them not getting a warning is if the joke was of the “notify HR now” variety and they really were being hostile to their coworkers.

      Sometimes people from other cultures don’t get that some things that may be appropriate in their culture, you simply cannot do in the US. Or what is interpreted as rudeness here might be interpreted differently abroad. But I didn’t get the sense that the new person was from a different country.

      1. Migraine Month*

        There was that letter about an intern who broke out a “joke” about 9/11 in a customer-facing meeting…

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

      LW had only worked there a few weeks. It’s not like their ex-boss saved all these complaints up for day 89 of probation.

      1. JM60*

        Due to that short period of time, I could understand management in cases like this deciding, “This employee definitely isn’t going to work out, so we should end it now” in situations like this if these cases were more toward the more serious end of interpretations. Otherwise, jumping straight to firing rather than a warning/discussion seems pretty extreme.

        1. ClaireW*

          I think a lot of it hinges on how the meeting actually went. It’s very possible that the boss went in expecting it to be a catch-up where OP agrees that there have been some issues and they both work together on a plan to resolve that, but if OP went in with “everything’s great” and then responded to the boss’s list with “That’s all very trivial and minor, these shouldn’t be complaints” then I think a lot of bosses would see that response as a sign that things weren’t going to work out.

          1. Bast*

            I’m going to be very honest that if I sat down for a meeting with my boss and was told something like, “We’ve found that you are struggling with X process, and your comment about people of ABC Cultural background was very inappropriate and offensive” it would be more understandable than what appears to be nitpicking — “Cheryl finds your dad jokes annoying, and you talk too fast.” For the first I would be embarrassed and want to improve, but for the second I would get the impression that no matter what I did, someone would find fault and I’d be out. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that actively just wanted to throw me out and complained about minor things. Everyone has personality quirks, and while you may have to minimize certain things ie: cut back on dad jokes, learn to talk slower, etc., I’d be pretty baffled to sit down to a meeting that was approached like this one was, with no complaints about my actual work product. It seems over the top and excessive, when a simple, “Hey, please cut back on the jokes” or “In the future, if you have a problem with Tim eating during the meeting, speak with your manager instead of Tim directly” would suffice. Taking LW at their word, this seems like they are either to trying to shuffle them out of the door, or are very, very poor at handling minor issues.

            1. ClaireW*

              I mean, maybe it’s my industry (tech) but it would seem wildly inappropriate for a new start to ‘have a problem with’ someone eating in a meeting AT ALL, that’s just so odd. The only time I can even imagine someone saying something like that is a manager or above concerned that someone was so busy eating that they weren’t paying attention to the meeting.

              So someone who sounds dismissive/hurried in meetings, and thinks it’s up to them to stop someone eating (and says it in a way that that person doesn’t want to work with them at all), could absolutely also be making inappropriate or hurtful jokes and such and the workplace not be pushing them out at all.

            2. Me...Just Me*

              Honestly, do you expect your boss to have to repeatedly meet with you within the first few weeks of your job to tell you not to tell offensive jokes, be rude in meetings, and talk over others? — supposedly you’re on your best behavior, trying to fit in and make a good impression while learning the job. As a manager, I would *know* this isn’t going to work out well, if my employee started off this horribly. These things are only going to get worse over time. For some people who have highly sought after skills or education; things like can be overlooked (at least for a time), but if OP is just your average worker with average skills, not having the social/professional soft skills will get them fired. OP needs to focus on those skills or get the skills/expertise/education that means that those types of behaviors can be overlooked. Become an amazing surgeon. Or a rock-star programmer. Or …. some other highly sought after, difficult to obtain profession.

            3. misty*

              Bast – but why? OP was only there a few weeks. Are you the OP? I’m wondering….
              The assumption is that this is their best work behavior…
              OP thinks things are good when everyone is alienated in only a few weeks
              Team decided fit was not good, not what they were looking for. Likely thinking wistfully about their 2nd or 3rd choice…
              Much better to cut OP loose than try to fix a problem they 1) aren’t interest in fixing , and 2) have not invested any time yet with training, etc.
              There is no incentive for the team or manager to try and work with OP to see if they improve while the company wastes more time and money on a poor hire.

      2. Burger Bob*

        Yep. A few weeks in and they called in the grandboss. LW’s offenses seem to have added up quickly and been worse than they have presented here. If it was all as truly small and harmless as LW has made it sound, they should be glad to have gotten out of there so fast. I can’t imagine this reaction from management in an actual benign situation.

    9. Spero*

      I wonder if something WAS said earlier though, because OP says they got great feedback in the interview and first few days but nothing about weeks 2-4’s feedback. If you are getting good feedback the first few days and then IT STOPS shouldn’t you ask why? Shouldn’t you check in on if things are going well? Was there meh or negative feedback given after these interactions that the OP missed or ignored because they thought it was trivial? Because they said they were stumped over these things being trivial, but not that they were shocked they were issues.

  3. Agile Phalanges*

    Plus it’s entirely possible none of those reasons were the REAL reason for the firing. OP should probably use that list for reflection on how they come across, but otherwise let it go and focus on moving on to the next job.

    1. Ex-prof*

      I was thinking that.

      I was once fired for misfiling files. I knew I had not misfiled any files, but also knew that the boss’s son and daughter, who worked there, didn’t like me.

      1. Johanna Cabal*

        And sometimes a layoff is a firing. The one time I was laid off, I think it was because I had “lost my luster” and ended up making an enemy of someone close to the CEO.

        1. thatoneoverthere*

          I agree. Once I was laid off. I was the only person there that got laid off. I really struggled in this position, and struggled with the team I was working on. It wasn’t a good fit all the way around. I am pretty sure they presented it as a lay off, as to lessen the blow. But honestly I was so relieved when I got laid off. I was miserable and it showed.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        I once had a bad review for “not smiling enough.” I was a server at a restaurant and the only thing I can think of is the manager didn’t want me to move up to bartender because I was one of the few servers who showed up consistently on time. It was the only thing they said, even though they could have written many accolades about me. So the review was “unsatisfactory.” I was probably the friendliest person there, and I smiled A LOT.

        That’s trivial. To me, some of the items listed for the LW are not trivial. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they find a better fit in a new position. I know it sucks when you feel like things are unfair, but some reflection would probably be beneficial!

  4. Lark*

    One thing I wonder about – that’s a weird way for the grandboss to give that feedback – grandboss asks how things are going, worker naturally replies with a good attitude and enthusiasm, grandboss pulls the rug out from under them and tells them they are being fired. That just seems pretty dysfunctional!

    The reasons for letting the OP go could be serious or not, depending – if the OP’s overall attitude seemed bad, a bunch of small things might add up.

    But at the same time, it still seems weird to go to all the effort and expense of hiring someone and then fire them, uncoached, for a laundry list of small reasons.

    1. ChaoticNeutral*

      This is what stuck out to me about the story as well. I agree with Alison that some of things could be more serious that LW is maybe considering, but the WAY in which this information was provided (in a “gotcha” style and then FIRING LW) makes me think something else is going on at this organization. Quite simply, it’s cruel to ask someone “so how is it going?” get a positive response, and be like “well, you’re wrong, here’s all the ways in which you haven’t done well here even though this will be news to you, you’re fired.” Why didn’t LW’s immediate supervisor reach out to them about any of these instances, which all seem minor on their face, in the moment?

      1. KGD*

        Totally, I agree. It reminds me of the time this guy my friend was dating asked if she loved him. She said yes, and then he said he didn’t love her! So weird and rude.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I agree that seems kind of weird. Not at all how I would expect a good supervisor to approach such a conversation.

      3. PNW cat lady*

        That is what I found odd. Generally when you meet with someone to let them go, you don’t start the meeting with a genial how are things going icebreaker. That is a terrible way to give someone false comfort, and I can see why the LW was caught off guard and now questions their personality. On the other hand, telling someone not to eat is a weird thing to do, and so is the fact they didn’t pick up on the vibe they weren’t liked. LW’s fails are compounded by he immediate boss fails. A lot of this should have been addressed in the moment. thought if the joke was racist, homophobic, or otherwise inappropriate a quick trip to HR and the LW could have been fired on the spot. Instead they made a list and left the grandboss do the heavy lifting.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          While racist/homophobic/etc jokes are their own category of serious, there are still a lot of other jokes that are completely inappropriate for the office. Sex, religion, suicide, those awful “dead baby” jokes…

          So it could have been a “two strikes” situation that could have been recovered from if the OP had understood they were on thin ice, but the fact that they didn’t even understand it was an issue pushed it into firing territory.

      4. Managed Chaos*

        I’m wondering if the grandboss thought it was such a bad fit that neither side was happy – and if they presented it as “how do you think things are going?” they would get a “not well, this isn’t a good fit” to save themselves from the awkwardness of firing someone.

        Of course, it’s a bad method because it easily leads to this – one side being like “Great” and then having to reply with “yeah, not really.”

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This was my first thought. Grandboss thought OP would say “Well, it’s not great because [reasons]” and grandboss would get to say “I don’t think it’s working out for either of us, let’s set up a mutually agreed parting” and blah blah everyone dances off into the sunset happily.

        2. Prosecco*

          As someone upthread already said, I also don’t believe that any of the reasons mentioned were the real reason.
          I had to let go someone a few months ago, because they were impossible to communicate with. My team couldn’t understand what they were trying to say and even upon asking back it was impossible to get a comprehensive answer. That person also suggested I move the time of a semi regular meeting, for no real reason (it was some more incomprehensible “it would make more sense to have it at 9:30 instead of 10”-blabber).
          It would have made no sense to give the real reasons as that person was clearly not understanding what we needed and unable to work with us. I don’t actually remember what we said the reason was.

      5. Green great dragon*

        That was my initial reaction too. But I wonder if the conversation could have gone a different way if OP had responded differently. Still not very good grandbossing not to have thought through what might happen, but I can see someone expecting OP to say they were having trouble and planning to have a PIP conversation, and it being OPs apparent obliviousness which tipped from PIP to firing.

      6. Silly Maisie*

        I thought maybe the manager was assessing his self awareness.
        I wonder if the conversation might have done differently if he had said “well, I am struggling with this and I made this mistake but here’s what I am doing to get back on track

    2. Lea*

      Where I work is my easier to fire someone during their probationary period otherwise you’re kind of stuck with them so that might be a factor

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        I live in a country where there are laws about reasons to fire people, and only during the probationary period of max 6 months there’s American-style freedom to fire – or quit – with immediate effect just as you please, as long as there’s no discrimination involved. In this context it’s normal to act before the trial period ends, and not wait and see if things get better. But it’s not normal at all to do the firing in such a weird way!

        I think even if you’re aware of some problems, it’s normal to answer “how’s it going” with something positive, not a list of all the problems. It doesn’t mean you’re uncoachable.

      2. LlamaDuck*

        +1 The one time I was outright fired, it was during a probationary period, and it was clearly, like, I lacked a specific, key skill for the role that they thought I had. They didn’t ask me about that skill in the interview, and I wasn’t aware it’d be part of the job.

        In retrospect, the interview seemed very focused on other skills + traits that perhaps the last person in the role lacked? And I had those!

        But I didn’t have the big, main skill that was, like, 70% of the role. Perhaps it was a Dunning-Kruger effect: I knew so little about the industry, I didn’t know I lacked a skill that would be obviously necessary to everyone in it. Or, maybe they were just bad at interviewing.

        Either way, I remember being really surprised and upset about being fired, and feeling in some ways similarly defensive to the LW – sure, yes, I asked a lot of questions and was often flustered. But, I had a positive attitude! I was very open to coaching and learning!

        With years of work experience since then, I now realize it was a straightforward calculation on their end: it’d be easier and faster to cut me loose, and hire someone else who actually had the core skill, than it would be to spend disproportionate time training me.

        And if they didn’t do it during my probationary period, suddenly there’d be a lot more hoops to jump through.

    3. Dr. Rebecca*

      Yeah, that bait and switch bothered me, too; could be the OP dodged a bullet of a workplace.

      1. GrooveBat*

        Yeah, I really don’t like that. It’s almost like a “gotcha” type question, which isn’t really fair coming from a higher-up.

        Even if the reasons for the firing were valid, that still rubs me the wrong way.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Based on the outcome (“you’re so wrong and you’re fired”), it sounds like the boss was going to fire the LW no matter what she said in response to “how’s it going so far?” So agreed–why even lead with that?

        2. Willow Pillow*

          I remember getting that kind of question once – from a micromanager at a very dysfunctional org – and my response was along the lines of “you tell me”. As someone who lives on the ask side of ask culture vs. guess culture, it’s super frustrating.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I didn’t love that either but I could see the boss starting that way if they thought the LW had definitely picked up on the fact that things weren’t going well and they thought they could ease into the conversation that way (not great, but different than an intentional gotcha).

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Yeah, this was my thought: maybe the boss had already given feedback on individual things the OP had done wrong but this was the way they wanted to start addressing the overall pattern. Maybe the boss wanted to know if the OP was self-aware enough to have realized that there was a pattern of problems and that this did not bode well.

        2. Csethiro Ceredin*

          Yes, I remember letting a fairly new employee go once when we were sure she was about to quit anyway – tons of performance conversations, she complained constantly about basic job tasks, and literally cried every day about some routine thing that happened. But to our astonishment she said “but I love my job! I thought I was doing great!” You can’t assume, clearly.

        3. Victoria Everglot*

          It’s possible grandboss was expecting “how are things going?” to have “actually I’m struggling, help!” as a response. When they got “everything’s great!” despite having a coworker who won’t work with them and apparently not trying to do anything about that, grandboss thought “yeahhh I don’t think the amount of effort it’ll take to change this person is worth it”.

    4. AnonaLlama*

      I think Boss was giving OP a chance to say something like “Well, I’m adjusting, but I have received some feedback that I have rubbed some folks the wrong way. I’m working on slowing down when I talk and giving people a little more leeway on things like eating on calls. I also made a joke the other day that just bombed. It was really awkward.”
      It’s possible they weren’t fired because of all of the complaints but because they weren’t picking up on or acknowledging how poorly they were being received. It’s much harder to coach someone if they’re not self-aware.

      1. Lea*

        It could also be that op is a little like my coworker who doesn’t always listen to what you’re actually saying before spitting out his comments but maybe I’m projecting

      2. PlainJane*

        The thing is, it seemed like he hadn’t received the feedback. I think there’s a point to having a serious conversation with him if he’s coming off this way and then, after being given a chance to correct the behavior, then cutting him off before the end of probation. But notifying him and firing in the same conversation? That’s… questionable.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Yes, this is where I come down. Some of this feedback could be quite serious — but it doesn’t sound like the LW had actually heard any of it before. Bullet dodged as far as toxic workplaces go, IMO. What kind of coworkers immediately complain to their grandboss instead of just saying “Hey, LW, could you stop doing This Thing That Bothers Me?”

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            Generally, I would agree with you, but there is no investment in a new person/probationary periods exist for a reason, and if the LW is exceptionally brusque (or just regular brusque in a culture that is not), I can see them thinking that the personality mismatch has a high chance of creating ongoing conflict.

          2. Cmdrshprd*

            “What kind of coworkers immediately complain to their grandboss”

            We don’t know that they immediately complained coworkers may have individually written off each scenario and been trying to give OP the benefit of the doubt, but it could by the end of the few weeks, one coworker mentioned thing X that OP did, then another mentioned thing Y OP did, and another coworker mentioned thing Z, at that point the 3 coworkers realized OP may not be a good fit and raised the issues with their boss.

            I have had similar issues with interns/coworkers before, individually a behavior might seem slightly off but not worth mentioning to anyone, but if someone else says something that might start to show a pattern then I have felt compelled to speak up and add my part to the conversation.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Also how many serial harassers get caught. A behavior towards one person might be an accident, or it might be part of a larger pattern of behavior towards [group]. Things look much different once the plausible deniability gets stripped away.

          3. Olive*

            If you’re not a long-time or senior employee with a lot of standing, it can feel inappropriate to tell an intern or probationary period coworker that their behavior or their work is substandard. I mentored an intern and I did remind him of the expectations and deadlines as did other coworkers, but I didn’t feel like I had standing to tell him that his behavior was a problem. That seemed like a job for our boss, so I passed along some concerns so he could address them.

            1. Bast*

              If I had a mentor at a new job, I certainly would want them to mention certain things rather than being blindsided… if you have a mentor that doesn’t mentor, what’s the point? I’m not trying to be rude, but I would certainly expect a mentor to guide me, particularly if there are office norms/unwritten rules that are making me seem rude, standoffish, lazy, etc that I might just not yet be aware of. Particularly if you are guiding someone who is new to the workforce, they may not even realize some of that behavior is problematic and by not saying anything, they cannot improve because they are unaware they are doing anything wrong.

              1. Olive*

                I didn’t say nothing, but what I was saying was more along the lines of “this work was expected to be done this week. If there’s something blocking you from finishing it or something you don’t understand, you need to let the team know as soon as possible.” It’s going to be a manager’s role to say “this is a problem that will lead to you being dismissed.” IMO it’s not really a mentor or coworker’s role to put someone on a PIP or determine which behaviors are actionable.

              2. Victoria Everglot*

                I expect a mentor to help me with my specific job, not with how to behave at work in general. “You left off the last 3 lines, those are more important than they seem because X” is what I’d expect, “people think your routine lateness and loud jokes are rude” is something an actual boss should address.

          4. Ace in the Hole*

            If we hired a new person and within the first two weeks they told a highly offensive joke, rudely told me or a coworker off for eating during a meeting, constantly interrupted me with repetitive and/or pointless questions about work processes, and always sounded like they were irritated and hurried every time we had a meeting? You bet I’d be telling their grandboss I have concerns about their behavior.

            I don’t know if LW was behaving this badly. But from the minimal description they give, it’s certainly possible.

          5. ClaireW*

            It’s quite possible that the grandboss got the complaints through someone else (e.g. OP’s manager) but is the better person to deliver feedback (or is the person with the authority to act based on how OP responds). It’s possible that the grandboss intended the meeting to be “These are serious issues we need to work on” but if OP responded with the same attitude as in the letter (“These are so trivial and minor and not real complaints”) then the grandboss let OP go on the spot.

            In fact given OP’s attitude it’s very possible that they DID hear all this feedback before, but had openly dismissed it as ‘trivial’ at the time so it was decided that grandboss would need to be involved.

        2. Monkey Princess*

          To be fair, there are plenty of examples on here of managers writing in to say “I’ve gently explained issues to my employee over and over again, and they just don’t get it.” If the negative readings of this situation are true, then this may be that kind of employee.

          1. Smithy*

            Yes, and I think the points about the joke not landing (but not sharing what the joke was) and telling the coworker not to eat during the meeting are indicative that there may have been a fairly significant cultural misalignment or soft skill mismatch during just the first few weeks.

            The fact that the termination came from the grandboss may have also been an indication that the manager had been attempting to address these issues, wasn’t seeing improvement, and this conversation with the grandboss was to confirm the supervisor’s feedback.

            I will say, for a lot of people the idea of a supervisor that doesn’t micromanage is ideal from the perspective of not having someone constantly monitoring your work. But when that level of super high independence is desired, it can cut the other way. That if there’s a feeling you require higher levels of coaching or coarse correction – that’s seen as an inability to complete a probationary period/reason for termination.

          2. Observer*

            there are plenty of examples on here of managers writing in to say “I’ve gently explained issues to my employee over and over again, and they just don’t get it.” If the negative readings of this situation are true, then this may be that kind of employee.

            This is what I am wondering about. Because it just seems really weird that they think that things are going great when others seem so annoyed with them. It seems to me that either everyone is really, really good at hiding their annoyance or the OP is really bad at reading a room. In which case, it’s quite possible that they just didn’t “hear” the feedback they were getting.

            1. S*

              This is how I read it too. It sounds to me like OP is minimizing the feedback they’re getting and is just “not hearing” what is being said.

            2. Victoria Everglot*

              If you don’t seem to care that a coworker *refuses to have any interaction with you whatsoever* it’s possible the boss thinks you’re a lost cause.

        3. Antilles*

          Even if it was the first time OP got that feedback, it still depends on how OP reacted to that feedback during the meeting.
          If grandboss starts giving that feedback and OP starts immediately arguing or blowing it off (e.g., by calling it “highly trivial” like in the letter), then that’s already the answer. No point in dragging it out when he’s telling you he’s not changing.

          1. PlainJane*

            Oh, certainly that’s a thing from the company’s perspective, and the firing might well have been 100% fair. But it shouldn’t have been a blindside in the first place.

            1. Cmdrshprd*

              “But it shouldn’t have been a blindside in the first place.”

              I agree with you that should generally be the case with long tenured employees, but OP was only there a “few weeks” and managed to collect enough even if minor demerits to make people move to firing, I can understand why they might not have wanted to give OP a chance.

              1. PlainJane*

                It wouldn’t even so much have to be a chance as a warning that something seems amiss. (Among other things, hiring is a pain, so give a new hire as much chance as possible.)

                1. Sallyhoo*

                  Oh I disagree, having a problem employee who everyone dislikes is a much bigger problem, better to get rid of a bad apple quickly rather than destroy office morale slowly and steadily, while you spend 6 months getting them up to speed and then other employees leave because they can’t stand working with them.

          2. Random Dice*

            And I’m going to bet $100 that he jumped immediately into argument mode, not receptive mode, based on this whole letter’s tone.

            1. Fluffy Fish*

              Maybe but I think it’s safe that something is missing from the whole story. The telling a colleague not to eat is so wildly inappropriate (and OP doesn’t think its a big thing at all) tells me that OP ,probably unintentionally, isn’t assessing situations well.

              1. Sarah M*

                And that the other employee explicitly didn’t want to interact with OP anymore as a result, and OP just shrugged that off along with the “joke” that alienated his new colleagues (also shrug).

            2. JSPA*

              This is not only to you, as there’s a lot of it going on.


              We’re not supposed to trash the letter writer; we’re not supposed to write fiction; and we’re especially not supposed to combine those two things.

              Yeah, there’s essential information missing!

              But tempting though it then is to treat it as a mad lib and fill in the blanks (and semi-justified as it is, when the LW apparently doesn’t think people will care, that there are such glaring gaps), we nevertheless still can’t write “anti letter writer fiction.”

              1. Holiday Party Time*

                Thing is though, believing the LW means believing that they are writing in good faith and not intentionally misrepresenting the situation. It can’t mean assuming that the LW’s perception of reality is spot on.

                Yeah there’s a fine line between those things, but I don’t think it’s fanfiction to say ‘hm, these things the LW presents as trivial might not be, and if that’s the case there’s a knock on effect as to how we understand the LW’s assessment of other aspects of the situation.’

                1. JSPA*

                  I have no problem with raising the possibility.

                  I do have a problem with (e.g.)

                  ” I’m going to bet $100 that he jumped immediately into argument mode, not receptive mode.”

                  Sure, I recognize the phrasing is more of a rhetorical device than an assertion of borderline omniscience. Fine.

                  But if the LW is reading this–which we are to assume is the case–how does that make them feel?

                  Right or wrong, it will make them feel judged, mocked, derided, and presumed to be kind of a jerk. That’s to be avoided. Especially when the same possibility can be broached as a hypothesis, rather than “I’m sure enough to bet $100.”

        4. Colette*

          I fully believe she hadn’t received the feedback. I’m less sure that she wasn’t given it. Sometimes people hear what they want to hear.

      3. Smithy*

        I think this is a really good call.

        Hypothetically, if someone were to transition from the start-up world to a more bureaucratic environment – say a large government agency – I could see a combination of the pace at which someone wanted to “dive right in” and then some cultural misalignment pieces leading to an uneven start. If someone was able to identify that, and had ideas on how to adjust their processes, then as a grandboss, I’d have more hope for moving forward.

        But as mentioned, coaching someone who’s not seeing the issues perhaps combined with the challenge of letting someone go after a probationary period could make the decision much easier. And depending on how their interview process went, they might have reason to believe that their options #2 or #3 might still be available if they act faster.

        1. The Linen Porter*

          Also here… the ”things everyone knows, but nobody tells you” – like when you move into a ”foreign country” and you are ”stupid foreigner” because ”you can not do X like any 6-year old from kindergarten can”… because ”nobody tells you these things when you are ”age” if you are ”excoected to know them” in your teens…

          Yeah, it is not ”fair”, but there is also us ”relocation people” that will make it only 1/2 as bad

      4. Panneni*

        That depends on whether OP received the feedback from their colleagues in the moment or if they just complained to their boss without saying anything to OP.

        It’s pretty hard to be self aware of people don’t tell you what is bothering them. If this was the case, OP would only have a few strange looks and a bombed joke to tell them something was off. Nothing that would clue them in they were out of line a lot, or that their job was on the line because of it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If one or more of these issues were on the “big deal” side of the range, then I can see a boss might want to see if the employee had any self awareness about their relationships with their coworkers. Perhaps if OP had said something positive about the work itself, but then said they were concerned they might have gotten off on the wrong foot with some folks, and / or asked for feedback on that, the boss might have felt these were misunderstandings and the employee was coachable.

      But if a new employee were being egregiously rude and pissing off coworkers by the dozen, and then saying “Everything’s great! Zero problems!” then a boss might think it was beyond their scope to deal with in coaching.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This is how it reads to me. I am not saying it was the BEST approach, but I also don’t have a full script of how the meeting went. I know I’ve had several new employees over the years on the cusp of being fired and the deciding factor was their attitude/awareness/willingness to learn.

      2. Betty*

        It also seems like tone matters a lot here! “Hey, how’s it going for you?” like you’d say in the hallway would not be great. “Hey…. how’s it all GOING for you?” like you’d say to a friend in the middle of a divorce doesn’t seem like the worst possible way to kick off a difficult conversation.

      3. K*

        I think the boss is being naive if he thinks a new employ will ever respond with something negative to such a vague question. I think literally everyone would have responded how OP did. The boss should have either started with a more specific question or just said that there had been complaints.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think you are making a lot of assumptions about what “literally everyone” would do. I and a lot of people I know assume that once we are hired, we don’t have to keep selling ourselves for the job. “How are you feeling about your work?” or “How’s everything going?” or “You settling in okay?” are standard conversational openers and an invitation to raise questions or issues.

          If I had concerns that I might have screwed up my team relationships, or needed help with something equally important early on in a job (training, unusual situations, etc), of course I would ask my manager for help. That is a normal and extremely common thing to do. Helping new employees onboard and integrate successfully is part of a manager’s job.

          “I’m concerned / unsure / having some trouble with X, how do you think I should handle it?” is a very standard question for a 1:1 with your boss, especially early on in a new job. If you don’t feel like you could ask that, there may be something else wrong with your work relationships.

        2. Me...Just Me*

          You’re meeting with the grand-boss in your first 30 days and you don’t have an inkling that something might be amiss? If I got called into a meeting like that, I’d definitely be thinking things over and wondering the reason we’re meeting. I wouldn’t be waltzing into a meeting thinking that I’m so great that the grand-boss is meeting with me about GOOD NEWS within my first month. No sir-ee. I’d be wracking my brain to figure out what I’d done wrong and tryin to figure out how to fix it.

          And then, when asked the very telling question of “How do you think things are going?” — whew-wee, yeah, my spidey-sense would be tingling. I’d definitely be very careful in how I answer that question.

          1. JulieF*

            I don’t find it at all unusual that they’re meeting with their grandboss. Though I suppose there are different ways to read “grandboss”. I was reading it as the supervisor’s supervisor (like a grandparent) rather than a really important boss like a CEO or president.

    6. Anon Again... Naturally*

      Personally I am wondering if that question was an attempt to see if the OP was coachable on soft skills. If so it was a horrible way to go about it, but since most if not all of these items can fall into the ‘poor soft skills’ category I can see someone using this to try and determine if the OP was aware of the issues and struggling, or more clueless as to how they were being perceived.

      OP, I urge you to do some reflect on how you presented yourself in these interactions. Everything on this list could be someone making a mountain out of a molehill but could also be much more serious depending on the details of the interaction. Some self-reflection now could save you more trouble at your next position. Best of luck to you.

    7. Monkey Princess*

      Maybe, but also they could have been looking to see if OP offered any introspection about their gaffes. “Good, thanks. I’m really trying to figure things out, and realized I kept asking my manager really basic questions that I could find on the portal. I feel pretty silly about that, but I’m definitely spending some time exploring the portal. And I think I got off on the wrong foot with Larry, who I kind of snapped at about eating at a meeting, but as soon as I said it I realized I was channeling my old boss, and let’s just say there’s a reason I left that job. I followed up with Larry, and I hope we’re good now.” And then when LW was all “everything’s great! Everyone loves me!” the boss decided it wasn’t worth managing this.

      Like Allison says, there’s no way to tell what’s actually happening, but the intern who didn’t learn story from yesterday is fresh in my mind. Sometimes people just tell you who they are.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I wonder whether it really was such a rug-pull, though. From the letter, I get the idea that it’s *possible* that people had tried to signal these issues to the LW, and that they didn’t pick up on them. If so, maybe the grandboss really did want to know how LW thought things were going, because if LW had picked up these issues and was really working on them, he’d give them another chance. Kind of like putting yourself on a PIP.

      Once the LW was like, yeah, everything’s great I’m rocking it, maybe grandboss just thought the situation wasn’t salvageable. Or, alternatively, the grandboss was just an ass which is also possible.

      1. Jolie*

        The really fascinating thing about this letter is that on a scale from “Grandboss and coworkers are an awful clique, they fired OP for a bunch of tiny petty reasons and never really gave them a chance” to “OP is abrasive, oblivious and has ignored repeated feedback”, this could fall genuinely anywhere.

        1. Wonderer*

          Once again, I wish there were a way to ‘upvote’ a really insightful comment. Everyone is speculating about where on the scale they think this falls, but the interesting thing should be consider this scale and think about what kind of advice to give for different circumstances.
          Alison’s response is very good at covering the broader range of possibilities, as usual!

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Exactly. The most pertinent details aren’t there (e.g. what was the joke, what was the tone), so it’s almost a commenter Rorschach test. Bring your own projecting!

      2. JSPA*

        Sure, many things are possible. Hints about staying in one’s lane can instead register as praise for going above and beyond. Hints about being dramatically over-energetic in meetings can register as praise for being energetic at a useful level. If people are not forthcoming on your questions about process, it can mean, “this isn’t something you have standing to question,” yet register as, “hey, they have not even thought about this, I need to ask more follow-up questions.”

        I have absolutely been on both ends of this conversation.

        But I do trust the LW is telling the truth, that they never got very direct, unambiguous, “stop that right now, it’s not OK here” feedback, before the firing.

        If they’re someone who needs that level of direct feedback, they may have to either learn (as if it were a foreign language) the code of soft messaging, or be explicit about needing unambiguous messaging. Or if possible, both.

        (And it’s also important not assume that if someone is smiling or laughing when delivering the message, that the message is clearly meant positively, or is clearly a joke, as people in awkward situations can smile or laugh to diffuse tension. Again, I’ve been on both sides of this.)

        It’s also really unusual in a workplace for someone not to want to work with you. So that’s a good test for “is it me or is it them.”

        If you have people who don’t want to work with you in multiple workplaces, then notice that you’re the common denominator, and there’s work to be done to figure out what signals are being missed. Conversely, if you’ve never had people who don’t want to work with you (or sit near you at lunch) except in one workplace, they’re more likely to have been a touchy, easily offended bunch.

        And of course, if there is one clear problem, there can be multiple problems, especially if there’s some baseline level of obliviousness to social norms, changes in situation, and indirect signals of distress in others.

        We had one guy who never figured out that people didn’t have insight into his thought process unless he laid it out clearly (seemingly because he could not conceive of there being multiple ways of thinking); but the more immediate problem was that he also did not have anywhere near an adequate schedule of showers or clothes washing, nor did he use deodorant or antiperspirant, despite having moved to a far warmer climate than his home region. As a result, he was also socially isolated, and up half the night gaming. Eventually, people insisted that HR have a gentle but very clear chat with him about minimal warm climate hygiene, and he really blossomed, professionally and in general. The “surely you know what I’m thinking” never went away, but it was a lot easier to deal with in the context of a cheery, non-stinky person, and he was a lot more comfortable when people didn’t all seem to be stepping away when he entered a room.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      I agree with this. The fact that the boss seemed to both save these things up and then pulled a “gotcha” on the LW inclines me to the LW’s side of this. Because that’s the kind of thing fifth graders pull.

    10. Green Goose*

      I do wonder, just based on how there was a bit of a trend of not reading situations from the examples provided, if OP potentially misread the question and took it more lightheartedly when it was quite serious.

      I have a good friend who is very similar to the OP and was actually let go in a similar way only about 6 weeks after starting a role and we had this conversation.

      Friend: The big boss asked me if I could go on a walk with her outside the building and when we were outside she said ‘this isn’t working, but you can tell people it was for lack of funding for the role’
      Me: Oh, I’m so sorry. So what was the real reason?
      Friend: (Blank stare) What do you mean, she told me to tell people that it was for lack of funding.
      Me: Right, but she implied it was something else. Did you ask for any feedback or other information.
      Friend: No.

    11. Raw Cookie Dough*

      But it could also be that we have an OP who doesn’t quite see things as they are, and gave their distorted (but honest, to them) view of how that meeting went, as well.

    12. Anonymoose*

      It’s really hard to tell. It’s not necessarily that unusual in my experience for a manager to open a check-in/feedback session with “so how do you think x is going?” I could see the manager expecting to hear something about “I’m excited about y challenge, but I’ve noticed that colleague j has been avoiding me and I’m not sure why. I think getting used to the office dynamics is taking me a little while. Do you have any advice?” and instead getting “everything is great!” and having to explain that they’re not on the same page.

      It’s not clear from the letter if the meeting is when the LW got fired, or if the meeting wasn’t initially expected to end in firing but did when it became clear that the LW had no idea there was a problem and wasn’t going to be coachable.

      Or maybe the LW fell into a really toxic workplace and managed to upset the wrong clique and got fired for it with no warning. Those places certainly exist!

    13. learnedthehardway*

      Very much agreeing with you – what an awful way to go about this!! If you have a problem with the way someone is performing or coming across, tell them. They’re obviously NOT going to realize it (or they wouldn’t do whatever it is that is irritating people) OR they’re doing it on purpose (which is a whole other issue).

      For the OP, you might want to “soften” how you request things. Eg. eating while on the phone – just ask people to mute themselves. You can say it’s like nails on a chalkboard to you or you can say that the noise is making it hard to hear other people. I’ve had clients request that I must myself when I’m typing notes on their projects, because they can hear my keyboard – no problem. I would be annoyed if they told me not to type, though (I need to take notes).

      Basically figure out the outcome that you need and ask people to help you achieve it. Provide reasons for why you want something, where you can do so (focus on the business reasons when you can, and be diplomatic where you need to). (eg. the omission from the new employee announcement – a request that you be included because people from other departments need to now that the XYZ coordinator is available to them provides a context that people will want to help with. Whereas saying “This is the second time that I have not been included in the new hire list. I’m annoyed” – well, that’s going to be taken wrong.

      That will go a long way to building goodwill with people.

      1. Observer*

        For the OP, you might want to “soften” how you request things. Eg. eating while on the phone – just ask people to mute themselves.

        The problem here is that *according to the OP*, they did not even *request* anything. They *told* the coworker to stop eating. In most situations, that’s really out of line. And they don’t need to “soften” the way the interact, they need tho change their attitude and also to stop telling people to do (or not do) things they have no standing for.

        But, I do agree with the rest.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          I would go a step further and say maybe to privately message the person, in some organizations, it would come across as being too direct to say something verbally when you’re new and don’t really know people. Also if the person was of much higher seniority than you, it might just not be done at all, so that really should be taken into account. Like I’m mid-level but would never mention to a VP I didn’t know, please stop eating on a meeting call.

        2. Pyjamas*

          And LW listed telling someone not to eat during a call as one of the TRIVIAL reasons for getting fired. They still aren’t taking it seriously

    14. FrivYeti*

      I think there are two reasonable possibilities, and we’ll never know which one.

      The first possibility is that the grandboss asked the question that way because they wanted to see if LW was aware of having created friction and wanting to work on it, and it was specifically LW saying that everything was great that turned the conversation into a firing.

      The second possibility is that grandboss was a bad boss.

      (I guess the third possibility is that both of the above things are true.)

    15. hbc*

      I pretty much had this discussion with someone once, where I opened with “Give me your thoughts about how that meeting went” and ended with me starting his termination paperwork. (The only reason I didn’t tell him he was fired right then was that I always make sure terminations are 100% documented and by the book.)

      Basically, he had been 90% at fault for an argument in a meeting that day, and he tripled down on the rightness of his approach plus threw in some awful justifications. Think “I didn’t have to listen to that guy because I thought he had less experience than me, so his opinion wasn’t worth hearing. And just because I later found out he has more experience doesn’t mean I was wrong to assume he had less.” I went from “Fergus needs to be pointed in the right direction” to “Fergus’ worldview is incompatible with being a good employee here” in less than ten minutes.

    16. Eric*

      sounds like a horrible place to work. so yiu work for 4 weeks issues arise and instead of your boss pointing them out and guiding a new employee on norms in the company, the grand boss ambushes you and let’s you go. good riddance to that place.

    17. Meghan*

      In a way I could see it, whether I agree with it or not, as a way of gauging someone’s self awareness. Like, let me see how this person feels. If they admit they’re struggling a bit but want to improve, we can work with that. If they think they’re Thriving then they’re too out of touch to be worth the effort of training.

      But… don’t know if that’s it, or appropriate.

  5. Stuart Foote*

    I have a strong, strong feeling that the boss’s actual words would have a lot more context for these issues, and they would not seem nearly so trivial. I’m sure there is a little bit more to that “one joke” than you would think from reading this letter.

    1. Antilles*

      100% agreed. I know site convention is to trust letter writers but this really feels like Missing Reasons here. “I do not want to work with Jimmy” is a fairly uncommon occurrence, especially after only four weeks.

      And not one of those issues as described sound like they’d remotely rise to the “not working with Jimmy” level. Would I be irritated that you asked a bunch of detailed questions on a process I can’t change? Yeah, maybe. Would that be enough that I’d jump to telling the director that I’m never working with you again? Nope.

      1. Truth*

        tbh sometimes I wish this site’s ethos was less along the lines of “always believe the op is telling the factual truth” and more along the lines of “always believe that the op is telling the truth [as they believe it but they may be wrong]”. Because yeah, I 100% believe the OP is telling their truth but honestly? I wonder how their coworkers would have described things.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “Telling their truth” is a great way to describe it. I think that line is walked well in the answer to this question, because we don’t want LWs to NOT write in for fear of being destroyed in the comments, but I think “Hmmmm seems like we’re missing a big chunk of the story here” is a very reasonable read on this one.

        2. Olive*

          I see the ethos as “don’t accuse the OP of deliberately lying or writing fiction, and don’t speculate bad intentions for the OP that weren’t in evidence.” I don’t think it means that we have to always have the same interpretation of given events as the OP.

          In this case, I believe that the OP is stumped, and I believe that the grandboss told OP that OP that their coworkers no longer wanted to work with them over behaviors that the coworkers found obnoxious (whether fairly or unfairly).

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            I’ve always preferred to interpret it that way, too, but there have been a few situations where a LW included something like “I heard from Jane that X is the case”, people asked in the comments things like “have you considered that Jane might not be telling you the truth/might not be telling you everything/might not be correct?”, and those people got jumped on for “not taking the LW at their word” or “not treating the LW as an expert on their own situation”.

            1. Truth*

              Yeah, I can think of one letter specifically where people took the letter writer strictly at their word… And ignored the fact that the LW was hearing everything second-hand/didn’t witness things themselves. the update later revealed that there was a lot more going on, but the original comments were still there & still frustrating.

              1. Boof*

                I don’t think Allison demands we interpret the lws as telling the literal and objective truth- how the commentators swing on speculation or pushing back on speculation is pretty arbitrary. Mostly i think you want to picture saying whatever you’re commenting to lw’s face (or them listening to the convo if it’s a tangent thread) and imagine whether it would be appropriate/reasonably kind.

        3. 1-800-BrownCow*

          I agree with this! I had a guy on my team who would twist conversations to fit his mindset. If he felt a certain person hated him, everything that person said to him, in his mind it was an attack on him and he’d change the wording to fit his belief. He was put on a PIP due to several issues that had been brought to his attention. He was on the path to be fired, but found another job before that happened. He verbally shared his list of what was on the list and everything according to him was a made-up issue someone created to get him fired. Because of my position, I was privy to what was on the list and he definitely had a different take on things than what was shared with him. And based on my personal experiences with him, I knew how he twisted things in his mind.

    2. Just Me*

      This is 100% an unreliable narrator situation. Alison all but acknowledges that in her response, so I’d like to think we’re allowed to say so here too.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Really, we’re all unreliable narrators of our lives. When I write in, please trust that I’m trying to be honest/don’t have weird ulterior motives that aren’t hinted at in the letter. You don’t have to assume I’m correct in all my interpretations of the situation, though; that’s why I’m asking for advice!

    3. ferrina*

      Yeah, this is a case where exact tone and exact words would make a difference. The obvious one is “a joke they didn’t like”. Is that a “joke” where you insulted a coworker? Or one where you said “oh, we’ll be getting pizza and the lunch meeting? My favorite joke is about pizza- but it’s pretty cheesy!”
      In the former, it’s a serious issue. In the latter, that’s trivial and should be a non-issue (except in the no-humor policy workplace).

      Impossible to tell from the letter which it is. I’ve met plenty of people who minimized serious issues then blamed everyone around them. I’ve also met people who fixated on minor issues as proof of not belonging or “not doing well”.

      1. Bast*

        It’s so hard, because I can see both sides.

        Having been in toxic places before and seeing how they operate, I have personally been witness to “Mean Girls” moments, particularly in smaller teams/groups when one group of people has been together a long time and resents a newcomer, and begins nitpicking every little thing that person does. I have heard it all from “Sarah uses too many sticky notes” and then from someone else a few days later “Sarah’s voice is annoying, I can’t work in the same room as her,” and then… “Sarah parked in my spot” (despite there being no assigned parking). It got to the point we would have to sit down and have a meeting how Sarah was not getting fired because her voice was annoying, and they were going to have to learn to work together like professionals and the nonsense had to stop. These people would typically make it very clear to Sarah she was an outsider too, which was different than the vibe I got from this letter, where LW appears to believe they had been well received.

        Then we have the other side of the coin, as others have pointed out, where some are truly oblivious, for various reasons. Some people, DO NOT pick up “subtle hints” or clues; if you tell them they are doing great (as apparently LW had been told at the beginning) they will not read an undertext and move on under the assumption that they are doing a great job. Of course, we also have the possibility that LW HAD been told multiple times that ABC needed to change and chose not to acknowledge that feedback, but unless LW is REALLY REALLY lying to themself, it seems like that is not the case, as it contradicts the statement that they had received great feedback. “The annoying jokes have to stop” or some such feedback could hardly be construed as “good.”

        This letter makes it very difficult to tell.

        1. Observer*

          we also have the possibility that LW HAD been told multiple times that ABC needed to change and chose not to acknowledge that feedback, but unless LW is REALLY REALLY lying to themself, it seems like that is not the case, as it contradicts the statement that they had received great feedback. “The annoying jokes have to stop” or some such feedback could hardly be construed as “good.”

          Here is the thing. Firstly, the LW notes that they got this good feedback in the first few days. What happened afterwards? Secondly, for some of these issues it would not need to be *multiple* warnings, especially not in the first few weeks.

          It really is hard to tell what went down here, but there are some strong clues that the OP is highly likely to have missed some strong indicators. Like the fact that they *told* someone to not eat in a meeting (despite it being a “longer” meeting), and missing the fact that this person no longer wants to have any interactions with them.

          Or the fact that all of these things are describes as “highly trivial” without any context or recognition that some of these things really are not trivial. Because almost all of those things could be trivial or extremely problematic or somewhere in between, as Allison points out. Like “dumb Dad joke” – Trivial. Bigoted “joke” – BIG deal. “Dead baby joke” or “joke that landed obviously badly and LW didn’t notice” – somewhere in between.

          The one about the coworker is not trivial at all, I would say. By itself probably not enough for firing, but it does really speak to a really significant lack of appropriate norms.

          1. Bast*

            I agree that telling someone to stop eating during a meeting, particularly as a junior member of staff is a bit off. I think that in itself is a bit of a gaffe, but in of itself it is relatively minor and it would have been simple for management to pull them aside and essentially say, “Don’t do that again.” Going off LW word, these things all appear to have been saved up and spilled over during a meeting without even giving them a chance to shape up. I also agree that there is a difference between a bigoted joke and a cheesy joke/dad joke/joke that just fell flat, but I didn’t see any indication that the joke was offensive, and if it was, it should have been dealt with in the moment instead of letting it fester. If these were legitimate concerns and not just excuses to push someone out, I consider it a serious management fail that it was not brought to LW attention sooner. If you don’t tell someone a certain behavior is inappropriate for that workspace, they are not going to know. If they don’t know, they may keep reoffending. Again, I am not talking about things like bigotry, acts of hatred, stealing, etc and other things that are way off base no matter how you phrase them, but it needs to be nipped in the bud and not left to fester.

            While I am not going to armchair diagnosis anyone, I think the other reading of this is that we have someone who may be neurodivergent and takes things at face value, or where EQ isn’t their strong suit. I try to be empathetic to that possibility, as someone having that experience truly would not understand where things went awry, and most certainly would not pick up on subtext or “hints” that something they did was “wrong.”

            And again, there’s the cliquey workplace theory that I sympathize with simply because of my experience working in a place where it was, unfortunately, the norm, and I also do not believe it is a rare experience.

            I really would be curious as to LW interjecting on this and clarifying certain aspects. I am not discounting that LW could just really be a bit unpleasant to be around, but it isn’t the only explanation.

          2. misty*

            Bast – but why? OP was only there a few weeks. Are you the OP? I’m wondering….
            The assumption is that this is their best work behavior…
            OP thinks things are good when everyone is alienated in only a few weeks
            Team decided fit was not good, not what they were looking for. Likely thinking wistfully about their 2nd or 3rd choice…
            Much better to cut OP loose than try to fix a problem they 1) aren’t interest in fixing , and 2) have not invested any time yet with training, etc.
            There is no incentive for the team or manager to try and work with OP to see if they improve while the company wastes more time and money on a poor hire.

          3. misty*

            The thing that stood out to me was OPs suggested response to them being “hey, speak a bit slower, we are having trouble keeping up ;)”.

            Putting a negative spin on the coworkers rather than themselves and trying to make like they are too smart for coworkers to follow. Seems if that was the over riding attitutde from OP it could be the base for the problem.

        2. Everything Bagel*

          It’s the way the joke situation is being characterized for me. It’s coming across as someone who tells crass or unkind jokes at the expense of others and then acts surprised when they aren’t well received, accusing the subject of their joke of not having a sense of humor when in fact the joke was just mean or unfunny. I just have the feeling that this is telling us what we need to know about this letter writer.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, it could be a matter of them making a joke at a moment the boss thought inappropriate, like in a meeting about a serious matter or during a presentation or it could have been a joke the boss disapproved of because of his politics or religion or something (like the joke mentioned the supernatural and the boss was a conservative Christian who thought such things evil). On the other hand, the joke could have been something somebody felt bullied by or it could have been racist, sexist or homophobic. Or it could have fallen between these two extremes and been something like a joke about a politician the LW hates, which…might be have annoyed people who supported that politician.

        And depending on the exact situation, my reaction could be anything from, “your ex-boss is a control freak and I hope you find a better job” through “firing seems a bit extreme but maybe they felt a pattern was emerging” to “that alone would justify firing somebody.”

    4. CTT*

      Or on the flip side, LW was fired from the same place as the past letter about an office with a “no jokes ever” policy.

    5. PotsPansTeapots*

      This. Also, I wonder if grandboss approached LW with a, “Hey, let’s talk,” willing to work with LW if they acknowledged some of the issues. But because LW clearly didn’t see an issue when grandboss did, it made more sense to let him go.

      At least, that was my first interpretation of the facts.

  6. Meh*

    I learned long ago that modeling behavior of those around me doesn’t always work for me. For example, when people are joking around and then I make a joke it doesn’t always land in the same fun, casual way. If other people are standing up for themselves and then I do the same, I’m all of a sudden labeled “bossy.” I’ve acknowledged that there’s just something about me that hits people a little more abrasively for some reason, even if all seems very good natured to me. As a result, I’m much more cautious. It stinks, but some people just have a voice or tone that rubs people the wrong way and it’s best to realize this sooner rather than later.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      I don’t know anything about your gender, so may not apply to you at all, but this sounds like how sexism frequently plays out. It’s fine for men but women are bossy/abrasive/etc for acting exactly the same.

      1. WillowSunstar*

        Yes, as a woman, I’ve definitely been “talked to” for being direct and have had to adjust (at least, at work) my communication style. If a man was direct at work, no one would bat an eyelash.

        1. Mighty K*

          Apparently I’m “scary” (woman working in construction/engineering) even though my voice is moderated and my questions entirely reasonable

      2. J*

        Sometimes it can have more to do with a family culture of how you were raised/talk to each other. I’m a woman, and I got some feedback multiple times that initially made me question, could there be a sexist angle to this? But one year at Thanksgiving we learned that my brother had been getting nearly identical feedback in his (unrelated) job! We both have a tendency to interrupt and talk over people that feels friendly and upbeat to us but comes across as really rude to others, and neither of us had even really thought about it until getting that feedback. That’s just how we talk to each other in my family and it has a different connotation in that context than what people perceive. (And no, I don’t really think this is an ethnicity/nationality culture thing in my case. But things like region/city of the US you’re from, class, neighborhood, your parents’ neighborhood or family norms etc. also influence this.)

    2. lunchtime caller*

      Yes, there are so many little quirks to tone that are very hard to describe or coach someone on unless it comes naturally to them. I know someone who may be like how you describe yourself here, and I can think of times where in a casual discussion space someone else might say something in response to one person’s point like “Hmmm, I didn’t get that reading from what happened” or “Oh that’s interesting, I read it quite differently!” and it would land fine. But she would be likely to respond too quickly and too loudly something closer to “No, that’s not it” or “I don’t think that’s right at all” and something about how abruptly she cut in and how forcefully she said it would make it just feel more aggressive even though it was basically the same kind of response. The group I’m in with her has gotten used to her and we all know now that she’s not aggressive at all, of course! But it did take a bit of time, and at first she did raise some hackles.

      1. Random Dice*

        I know men who talk that way, and I definitely get the hackles raised response. But… they DO tend to get promoted for being abrupt and forceful, in a way that women aren’t.

    3. ferrina*

      It can also depends on existing relationships. There are some people that I could tease because I have a long history of supporting them.

      Example: You and I are chatting with Roberta. Roberta is a software engineer. You are a new hire; I’m well-established at the company.
      I say “It would be great to have a program to automate these TPS reports. Roberta, can you get on that?” Roberta laughs.
      You add “Yeah, that would be great! Roberta, you should handle that in your free time!” Roberta gives you a weird look and walks away.

      You might not have known that Roberta and I collaborated on trying to build a TPS automation last year, and we discovered an unwieldy code that would essentially require us to rebuild our entire system to automate the TPS reports. I was mimicking a disliked former employee who was constantly demanding impossible tasks, but the employee left before you arrived.
      Or you thought that TPS reports were a key part of our business, when really it was more a mid-level priority, and Roberta was on several top-priority projects. She was so busy that I had been taking on her regular work so that she would only need to work 60 hr weeks. Our gentle ribbing was more of comrades in arms.
      Or maybe you did know that, but Roberta didn’t know that you knew that.

      Interactions are all about context. Rapport is real, and it takes time to build. (and as Dulcinea47 pointed out, there’s also gender dynamics, as well as racism, agism, ableism, and a whole lot more discriminations that may be at play)

      1. Clare*

        Ugh, I got caught with the ‘Roberta didn’t know that you knew that’ a few times at my current workplace. I joke with people a lot as bonding, but I stopped basically all jokes, even down to the Dad joke level, for about 18 months. Then I slowly ramped them back up again and it went fine. I probably could have started earlier if I hadn’t burned my joke-making privileges at the beginning, but you live and learn. Better to be bland for a bit than to cause hurt.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I agree that these things can be agonizingly subtle. Someone with higher EQ can navigate situations with grace, and I’ve seen the person next to them blow the same joke that didn’t quite land but easily could have. OP does seem like perhaps they’re not picking up on the reactions of their coworkers super well, no offense to them at all (I don’t always achieve this myself).

    5. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

      I have literally had the same thoughts as you about my personality before. I am a woman. I admit, I’m also a bit of a dry humor/sarcastic one, but it took me a long time to realize that some of the criticism is worth hearing, and some of it is because I’m not a man.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Frustratingly, I have to take some of the criticism to heart even if it’s just because I’m not a man, because it’s necessary for success within the patriarchy. For example, I’ve change my default email signature to “thanks!” even when I’m doing someone else a favor, because my email tone is too brusque.

        I may have overcorrected, though. I made a comment in a meeting today that started with “Correct me if I’m wrong, but…” and ended with “Is that right?” I kind of wanted to kick myself.

  7. LP*

    Yeah I think this OP has good intentions, but maybe lacks some self awareness. It might just be a high energy issue or passion for the new position, which is all fine, but ultimately isn’t going to be a great fit for all work environments. The fact that they chose to fire OP after 4 weeks and has multiple coworker complaints that they validated is concerning.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah I definitely recognize “talking too fast” or “made a weird joke that didn’t land” as something super common with new-job anxieties. But most people don’t get fired over those things.

  8. L-squared*

    To me this just sounds like a “culture fit” issue, but they were just specific with odd examples.

    It sounds like you rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, even if any of those things on its own isn’t a big deal. But I could see a situation where everyone disliked you for something else, and its just like “why keep this guy around?”

    Don’t get me wrong, it sucks. And it seems like something that your manager should have probably addressed with you before just letting you go.

    I’m sorry you this happened though, its never good to be let go when you thought everything was going fine.

  9. I edit everything*

    Any one of those might be a minor thing, but put all of them together, and a very different picture comes across. Even if the actual instances were toward the lower end of the seriousness scale, it sounds like LW wasn’t a good personality fit for this office.

    1. duinath*

      yeah, this is kind of a lengthy list after just a few weeks. even if they are all small issues, so many of them in such a short time does indicate to me that lw might benefit from practicing reading the room and the culture of the office before jumping in. confidence is great, but i don’t think it hurts to pause and think in this kind of situation.

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      Definitely. These might all be minor incidents on their own, but they do add up. Should OP have been fired for them? Maybe, maybe not – but it’s not unreasonable for the organization to decide it’s too much, especially after only a few weeks.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Particularly if it’s difficult to fire someone after a probationary period at this job. It’s rough to see yellow/orange flags and wait to long to address them and then realize they were red flags in retrospect.

        I’m not saying they handled it perfectly, but I can see the justifications.

        1. anomnom*

          Exactly. How many letters have we seen from people who either don’t have the option to fire, or the process is absurdly slow and lengthy (hi, howdy, hello from state entities)? Not aimed at this OP particularly but “one bad joke” that “we” (was it told in a group?) didn’t like could be a curtain peek into extremely problematic/amoral/illegal behavior.

    3. Bast*

      But where does that draw the line into being petty? It isn’t really necessary for colleagues to be best friends. Even coworkers I like have things that annoy me about them, because we all have quirks. If we fire someone every time they have an annoying trait, most of us would be working alone.

      1. Colette*

        If their coworkers are refusing the work with them, that’s not trivial. Many, many people work with people who have traits that annoy them. But this person won’t. Maybe they’re a crank, or annoyed the OP took the desk they wanted, or something that is entirely a problem on their end – but maybe not. Maybe “talking too fast” means “goes into a 5 minute monologue and won’t let anyone break in to get the meeting back on track”, or “made one joke we didn’t like” means “made a joke that demonstrated a clear lack of empathy for people who were suffering and dying”, or “asked too many questions about processes” means “never got trained on how to create TPS reports because she kept questioning why the reports were even necessary and insulting the people who designed the report”.

        1. That Coworker's Coworker*

          I wondered whether “talking too fast” might mean talking quickly in a dismissive or condescending manner. The letter writer seems to think it meant that coworkers couldn’t keep up, but the only coworkers I’ve had who came across as talking too fast were the types who want to convey by doing so that they’re in a hurry to answer your question or get a topic over with in a meeting because they feel it’s not worth their time.

      2. Everything Bagel*

        I’m wondering about the joke and also the call where he told someone to stop eating. was it just the two of them or was it a group? That’s rather forward of the new person to reprimand a new co-worker especially in front of others, and of course it depends on the tone and exactly what was said. It seems like there are important details being left out of this letter.

  10. higheredadmin*

    This letter is an excellent example as to why feedback needs to be clear and detailed. To take the joke example, the grandboss should have told OP *what* about the joke was the issue, e.g. “we don’t tolerate sexist jokes in our organization” or whatever the specific problem was with the joke. The vagueness is what is creating the issue, and also some anxiety – OP doesn’t know exactly what the problem is to this day, so has a long-running anxiety about their tone in general. It is kinder to be crystal clear. (I know that sometimes you are very clear and the person isn’t listening, but as the OP is continuing to reflect on this incident, I’m thinking this is not the case.)

    1. A. J. Payler*

      We don’t know that they didn’t, frankly. The OP is selective about included detail to a fault.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Unless the OP really doesn’t remember, what the joke was about seems like a pertinent detail.

    2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      That’s a good point. It could be this is the office where humor isn’t allowed (I’m sure someone can link to that one), but a little guidance goes a long way.

      Also, I have to wonder that nobody said anything at all about these issues. Not even a “hey, could you speak a little softer?”

      That sort of feedback can be a whole lot easier to deal with than just an onslaught.

    3. Kristen K*

      My guess is they did tell OP what the joke was, possibly with those words. OP is either simplifying it or doesn’t want to say what it was because it is bad or borderline bad.

      OP doesn’t seem ever self-aware.

      1. Boof*

        I think op could easily be perfectly self aware and this work place could be totally toxic. There’s no clear “red flags” in the letter to say op is the problem vs the workplace is as arbitrary and bad at addressing issues in a clear and timely fashion as presented. We’ve seen plenty of examples of both on this site.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’d say calling “new person telling a coworker not to eat during a meeting” trivial is definitely an orange flag. If your coworker has been avoiding any interactions with you, that’s kind of by definition not trivial.

          Maybe the coworker is a drama llama/cliquish/does this to all the new people and OP did nothing worth being fired, but the fact that they consider it trivial indicates they may not be picking up all the clues.

    4. Ex-prof*

      I think the boss probably was clear.

      It sounds like what it boiled down to was that people weren’t enjoying working with LW.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think most of that is presented as a direct quote, so we can’t really know how much detail was or wasn’t given in the actual conversation.

  11. Ms.Vader*

    I want to know the joke because I think that will really tell us how much reliability you have as assessing appropriate responses to situations

    1. WorkingClassLady*

      Agree. LW left out a LOT of information. I’m guessing a “joke they didn’t like” is probably racist/sexist/homophobic or something like that. No company is likely to fire anyone over a cheesy “dad joke.”
      That, combined with everything else, seems like this employee simply did not know how to behave in the workplace.

      And telling a co-worker not to eat during a Zoom meeting? WTH???? Mind your own business!

      LW needs to take a serious look at their behavior.

      1. mlem*

        I mean, the disliked joke *could* have been polarizing on other grounds, like making fun of a political figure in a company filled with people who align with that political figure. But it certainly suggests a mismatch and/or tone-deafness.

        1. Gerry Kaey*

          Right. Early in my career I was (lightly) scolded for making too many gallows humor jokes about earthquakes causing SF to break off and float into the ocean while we were doing disaster planning and that it wasn’t appropriate. I took the note and stopped making those jokes at work, but just sharing an example of jokes that aren’t bigoted but that some still might find distasteful/upsetting/inappropriate.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            The intern who made a joke about people jumping to their deaths on 9/11 in a customer meeting (with someone who lost family member in that tragedy!) comes to mind.

      2. rollyex*

        Maybe it’s wasn’t any of those. Maybe it was just a simple Halloween prank with a doll or something….

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      I too think the joke is the heart of the matter. If OP told a really offensive joke, AND there’s a bunch of smaller stuff… I can see it being a cut-your-losses situation during early probation.

  12. Lauren*

    I read the list and winced a bit as well because if any new hires at my company did these things I would see it as a red flag. Even though they may seem petty to this person, those little things add up quick.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I mostly agree with you, pending more details for some of them. But it is a lot right out of the gate. I imagine my bosses would cut their losses unless there was some stellar reason to keep that person on.

    2. Anony*

      Same! Sometimes, a person just seems to have odd judgment and you have to cut your losses early. There really are times that the cumulative effect of weird judgment is what makes the difference; not just one thing. My read on this list was that there were questions about OP’s judgment and they just didn’t want to keep OP on board.

      1. Another Jen*

        Exactly. That’s not exactly the sort of thing that’s very easy to teach/coach, so it makes sense that the company would want to cut its losses early.

  13. Liz*

    Were they asking questions became they didn’t get it or were they asking questions implying that the way it was done was stupid and they know better? Also yeah the joke is likely the problem or ordering around more senior employees with what I am again guessing is an attitude of superiority

    1. Turquoisecow*

      And did they not get something minor or was it clear from the questions that they were missing something really major and essential to the job?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Or was there documentation or other resources they were told to consult and they asked everything instead? In a lot of jobs it’s incredibly important to show you can take steps to figure things out yourself.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          For sure. If the LW is asking questions, getting >50% “Oh, that’s in the manual we gave you” and still coming back and asking more, that’s 1-annoying and 2-shows me that they don’t learn. If after 2-3 of those answers you’re not looking in the manual first, and having your question become “I didn’t see this in the manual when I looked, I need help with converting X to A”, they see you’re not learning anything about the job. A “oh that’s in the manual but it’s actually under L for [arcane reason nobody recalls] and we always forget to warn new people” is fine, but constant questions will not be.

  14. Grey*

    Asked too many questions about processes

    This one is too vague. Questions about the processes, and questioning the processes are not the same thing. Which is it?

    1. Board vs. Bored*

      Agreed. I’ve seen previous coworkers ask too many questions about the processes of *others* during meetings, where those processes just don’t matter.

      If I handle board governance, and you handle invoicing vendors, you don’t need to know how scheduling works for our board—and certainly shouldn’t be asking questions about it in the middle of a meeting.

      Also: my kingdom for knowing what joke was made.

    2. Crap Game*

      Also the where. If you’re asking those questions in a big meeting, that could be really disruptive. If you’re the only one with the question, you shouldn’t ask it in front of others (usually, I’m sure there are exceptions). I’ve definitely been around new hires who seem to think everyone started the day they did; this stuff was litigated long ago, feel free to ask clarifying questions one on one, but as for the why, it’s too complicated. Trial and error over years.

      1. ferrina*

        Yeah, it could be. I’ve worked with people who got annoyed when I asked very normal questions- they just didn’t want to be training or thought that things that were perfectly normal to them should be perfectly normal to everyone (one company I worked in only ever promoted from within, so everyone in senior roles had been there usually since the start of their career. They thought every company had the same processes they did, and they were always confused when I didn’t know what their processes were).

        I’ve also worked with people who asked questions like “How do I update a PowerPoint slide?”…..when “proficient in PowerPoint” was literally in the job description and had been on this person’s resume. PowerPoint was used daily, and being unable to use it was a bright red flag (yes, he had lied on his resume and hadn’t used PowerPoint in over a decade. He assumed it would be fine and we’d show him the basics. Literally, all the basics. No one had time for that, he got huffy that no one would spend 20 hr/wk training him, and he was gone by the 4 week mark)

        1. AngryOctopus*

          We once hired a temp to help with some time sensitive stuff. After he 1-constanly asked where the [immovable, heavy, top opening, huge] floor shaker was despite having already used it and 2-when my boss asked him to present his data in a different format (to match the auto output of the screening format), instead of saying “oh sure sorry” he treated her to 30′ on “why we did it this way at my old job”, he was fired. He had at least 10 years of experience on his resume too.
          (He also asked my colleague how to resuspend cells, and when she tried to walk him through the automated cell counter output, it turned out that he truly didn’t know how to resuspend 10million cells at 2million per mL. This is basic math you learn on D1 of doing cell work, if you somehow didn’t know how to before)

    3. Sloanicota*

      I guess I’ve also encountered people who are a bit too process-oriented for their role – can present as either being too big picture or wanting too much documented instruction.

    4. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      Sometimes people do mix them up. Sometimes “why do I need to press the red button first and not the blue one”, from a person trying to understand the logic in the process and remember it right, is heard as “I want to press the blue button first and I think your rules are stupid” even if it’s not meant that way at all. I’ve learned to be super careful with this type of questions, avoiding the word “why” and explaining that I will do exactly what I’m told, it just helps me learn things if I know the reasons why things are done in a certain way.

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        That’s so useful, I’m going to try and remember this for any future questions I need to ask along these lines.

      2. Relentlessly Socratic*

        And I have had more than one person come in with *actually saying* “I want to press the blue button first, let’s change things so we can do that.” and they rub the team the wrong way. Because their knee-jerk reaction to what seems like a strange process is a presumption that they see something they can (or even should) fix.

      3. Sparkles McFadden*

        One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to try to avoid asking “why” questions. The person said asking why can imply judgment where no judgment was intended or, even worse, the person you are asking does not know the reason why and that makes them defensive (especially if it’s your boss).

        I understand and encode things better when I have a context, so I would still ask some broad overview types of questions, but I’d find a way to make the questions start with who, what, when, where or how instead of why.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Yes. Example:

          “Why do I need to push the red button first?” vs “What happens if someone gets mixed up and presses the blue button first?”

          The second one is much less likely to come across as judgmental or presuming you can improve the process, and much more like you are curious and concerned with doing things properly.

      4. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah. I’ve developed a habit of saying things like “OK, let me see if I have this right. I need to press the red button first because that will update the data in field #1 to feed into the blue calculation, so if I press the blue button first, field #1 might be out of date.” And then the other person can say “yes” or “that’s part of it, but also this other thing”, or “no, it’s actually for this other reason”, as necessary. I usually write stuff like this down so that I can refer to it later.

      5. Heffalump*

        You could say, “I assume there’s a reason why we press the red button, not the blue button, first?”

    5. The Meat Embezzler*

      It could also be lots of asking questions followed by, “Well at my old job we did it xyz way”. Bonus points for, “Well at my old job we did it xyz way and that company is way more successful than this place.”

    6. Ama*

      I will say, I had a new hire once who didn’t work out (they actually recognized it and quit on their own the day I came in to have the “if this is going to work I need to see some serious changes here” talk with them), and I probably would have described her issues as “asking too many questions *about* the process,” but in her case I would have meant that she was asking questions about things that her resume, interview, and references all implied she’d know how to do. (For example, she couldn’t figure out how to bulk bcc address an email without me walking her through it more than once.) She got some training on some tasks from another coworker and when I compared notes with coworker we realized new hire was asking each of us to help with tasks the other person was training her on and implying we hadn’t trained her when we did.

      To this day, I’m not sure if she outright lied on her resume and got references to lie for her, if she had survived at her previous jobs by getting other people to help her and her references just didn’t realize that, or what, but she is a good example of when asking questions *about* the process is a cause for serious concern and not just a new hire trying to learn the ropes.

    7. House On The Rock*

      Yeah, there’s a huge difference between even being a bit slow to pick something up and implying that a process is bad or wrong. I’ve also seen people come in and immediately try to re-engineer things because they thought they knew better – I wonder if it was something like that.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and it’s also very role-dependent. In some roles new hires (or outside consultants) are brought in specifically to point out the weirdnesses in company processes that employees with tenure take for granted. But in the vast majority of cases, this doesn’t apply, and the new hire would absolutely know if it did in their case.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        You can see that a lot in science. “Well, we used the X system at my old job and it’s BETTER for REASONS, why don’t we have X?”. We don’t. Y is basically the same system. You’ll have to learn a couple different things, but that’s it.

        OldJob had a (different from above) temp who REALLY wanted us to get different pipettors for lab use. She would tell the rep ALL THE TIME how we wanted to get their pipets in. But the company had already committed to Brand A, which includes not only all the lab pipets, but all the tips that fit them. Changing over is Not Trivial and should only be done in dire circumstances (if nothing else you’re going to lose $$$$$$ on having a huge set of pipets you no longer use, you never would get full resale price even selling them in sets), and ordering another kind doesn’t make sense if you have to stock different tips for it. Not something the lab managers need to deal with. But she was so insistent. One of the reason (of many) she did not get hired.

    8. Victoria Everglot*

      Yes, sometimes the problem is asking the *wrong* questions or asking them the wrong way. If the boss says “send the completed form to Linda” and you ask “what’s Linda’s email?” or “should I send them as they’re finished, or wait until I have several?” that’s normal, but if you say “why can’t I send it to James?” or “why do I have to fill all that out, no one reads it anyway” that’s not. If you keep asking questions that seem like you’re trying to contradict people or that are entirely irrelevant to your job or make it look like you’re trying to get out of work it’s going to annoy people.

  15. A Kate*

    This really seems to underscore the importance of being a bit more unobtrusive when starting a new role. Not that we can’t have personalities! But when you’re in a new environment, it’s best to listen more than you speak, and not get too comfortable before you’ve read the room fully. Jokes, complaints (even valid ones like being omitted from new employee stuff), and requests/orders that aren’t in your scope in the hierarchy? All speak to “being too comfortable” in a place where your primary goal after “learning the work” is to figure out how to fit in.

    I realize this all sounds very “make yourself small! Don’t have a big personality!” but I promise it isn’t. It’s more: until you really know the people/culture, put your best face forward and THEN you can figure out who is safe to joke with, when you get to push back and when it’s best to work behind the scenes. “A few weeks” in is just not enough time to build the capital one needs to be complaining (twice!), crossing hierarchical lines, and making poor jokes. There’s a lot of talk about “bringing your whole self to work” these days, but what they actually mean is “your whole PROFESSIONAL self.” In the same way you don’t wear ripped jeans to a gala, you don’t bring your loosey-goosey, personal-life self to your job.

    1. WonderEA*

      This is a great point – there is often room for more *personality* in a job once you’ve settled in and demonstrated you can do the job, but coming on strong on day or week 1 can land poorly. That said, I think it is probably for the best that OP isn’t at the job, since it may just not be a good culture fit, for whatever reason.

    2. higheredadmin*

      I transferred from one office at huge company to another office in a different city and country, and the advice I was given before I left was exactly what you said above – to be quiet, listen etc. I followed this advice, possibly a little too much, and after the first month the grandboss asked to meet with me and said “I’m not sure what is going on here, but we were told you were very outgoing, a big ideas person, always contributing.” Sigh.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I completely agree with this. Starting a new job means keeping your eyes and ears open and your mouth mostly shut at the very beginning. What’s the culture like? What are your co-workers like? What are the politics that need to be navigated? How do other people interact? It’s not about suppressing yourself, it’s about getting the lay of the land. Asking questions is great– in the context of, “I’m new here, what’s the procedure for X?” and “Is there are a reason we do X instead of Y? I’ve always done Y so I want to make sure I’m getting it right.”

      I do this not just to ingratiate myself with my co-workers (though that helps, I like to be seen as a nice person to work with) but also to determine whether you can trust the culture when you do decide to open up more. For example, there are some people at my current company whom I do not trust, and I’m much more guarded with them than with others.

    4. Margaret Cavendish*

      I was coming to say the same. The common thread in each of these incidents is OP has been a bit forceful in inserting themself into the workplace, and wanting others to change to meet their expectations.

      Which is not how most offices work – and most established communities, just in general. When you’re the new person in a group of people who have known each other for a long time, it’s best to hang back a bit until you get to know them. The version of yourself you want to bring as a newbie is a bit gentler, more cautious, more curious. If you go crashing around the way OP has done, you’re going to give the impression of someone who (a) doesn’t know how the group works, and (b) doesn’t care to learn.

    5. CommanderBanana*

      The “bring your whole self to work” thing always makes me wince. There’s being genuinely me, and then there’s bringing my whole self to work, when my whole self usually wants to be curled up under a blanket with wine in easy reach.

      1. Clare*

        I’m with you. Bring your whole self makes no sense. You don’t bring your whole self anywhere. You don’t bring your tactful, gentle, funeral-appropriate self to a gathering with your best friends. You don’t bring your visiting my Grandmother self when you’re flirting at the bar – even if you can hold a conversation about tatting lace in other contexts. Why would you need to bring the ‘hanging out with friends and family’ part of yourself to work?

      2. MigraineMonth*

        The original intent is that the *workplace* should change to make it safe for workers to be black, gay, female, disabled, etc. There’s a lot more loyalty to the company and less burnout if workers don’t have to worry about staying in the closet, code-switching, etc.

        It doesn’t mean workers should be bringing unprofessional parts of themselves into the workplace, but it does mean we should reconsider what is “unprofessional” (e.g. natural hair or protective hairstyles).

    6. Sloanicota*

      This is so tough. I actually agree with you but I also understand why the advice seems quashing. I do try to be very anodyne (but also positive and pleasant) in my first several weeks in a new job. Neutral, but good-neutral.

      1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        I feel like it’s more about humility than quashing. You want to be curious about the environment you’re entering before you go “hey everybody, check ME out!”

    7. Blackbeard*

      Exactly. I tend to be quite a lot cautious and courteous when I start a new job. More than warranted. Until I get a sense of what’s the culture like.

      1. Abele*

        I had to learn this lesson the tough way. I have a pretty strong personality and am generally very enthusiastic—have had to tone this all down to coming across as an upbeat person with tact. In some ways, it was similar to how in school I had to learn to not be the talkative know it all, but for whatever reason I had to learn that lesson twice when I entered the workforce.

        Finally landed at a place where I can be a version of my authentic self, but I had to build up trust/goodwill first. It’s okay to have a different persona for work, and mine is one that is more thoughtful and restrained.

    8. McS*

      I think this is it. Taken as a whole the letter suggests someone who is trying to prove something, but being arrogant about it. Even their suggestion for how feedback should have been delivered, “we can’t keep up with you.” Like they are talking fast on purpose to sound like they can follow the conversation better than their colleagues And a lot of “questions about processes” are probably coming across as “why don’t we do it the way I already know?”

    9. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      True, you can be yourself but your first couple months’ experience at a new job should be skewed way more toward input than output. Absorb vibes more than you initiate jokes. Learn processes more than you brainstorm ways to improve them. Your time to bloom will come, but you’ve got to lay the foundation first.

    10. Fellow Canadian*

      This is great advice and hopefully LW reads it and takes it to heart before starting their next job!

      It can sound discouraging to say “tone it down at first”. However if you’re giving off the persona of “pleasant, agreeable, and ready to pitch in”, you will create a positive impression in all but the most dysfunctional workplaces. Once you have built up some social credibility you will be able to “loosen up” more, and your colleagues will be more tolerant of your quirks because they’ll know your work style by then. so you won’t be “the new person who told Jane off for eating on a zoom call”, you’ll be “Bob who is a good colleague but has a hearing issue, so let’s try to respect that by muting ourselves when not speaking”.

  16. The Rafters*

    My immediate thought about asking too many questions was that perhaps the OP was *challenging* their employer rather than asking legit questions, or at least OP came across that way.

  17. Skibidi*

    I always find it interesting that companies who fire people for petty or small reasons are often the same companies that look the other way when there are massive f*** ups or even criminal behavior from other employees.
    I don’t know if OP did or didn’t do anything that justified what happened, but I suspect they should consider it a bullet dodged and try not to over think future behavior. I know that’s easier said than done.

    1. spcepickle*

      This may be true – But because of the way our union and HR works I can really easily fire people within their first year and after that is a multi year slog that will maybe work. So I totally fire people over what some might think of as small things, because I see the patterns and I know that I need to get rid of them now or be stuck for 30 years with someone who get progressively worst.

    2. ferrina*

      There’s definitely a certain type of executive who judges performance on “do you remind me of me?”
      I’ve worked with that CEO before.

  18. Meg*

    While I do agree with the comments that it appears that there is something missing from the letter, I do think it was kind of crappy of the manager to not provide the feedback in the moment. All of those could have been address by pulling OP aside and letting them know at the time that what they were doing was wrong.

    1. A Kate*

      I do agree with this. “So, how do you think you’re doing? WRONG!” is a messed up thing to do.

    2. Veryanon*

      Yeah, I didn’t love the way the grandboss did it…unless there’s more to the store and OP is not a reliable narrator.

      1. Observer*

        I didn’t love the way the grandboss did it…unless there’s more to the store and OP is not a reliable narrator.

        Well, it is clear that the OP is a ~~poor~~ narrator, because they left out a lot of relevant details. And it seems to be clear that the OP is not so great at reading a room, so I think that while they are probably honest as far as the dry facts of the situation, their interpretation is questionable.

        That doesn’t mean that the GrandBoss handled it well. Again, it’s hard to tell, but it could be that the GB handled it very poorly, which is where I would land if the GB were planning to fire the OP regardless and literally asked “Hey, how is it going” in a casual tone. Or it could be that the GB was expecting to lead into a conversation with the OP to give them some counseling, and then when he heard the OP’s response realized that the manager was dealing with a bigger problem than he expected and just cut to the end point.

        1. Florence Reece*

          This seems pretty unfair. Did they leave out a lot of “relevant” details? Or did they leave out the juicy stuff that this comment section loves to rip apart and assign personality disorders to?

    3. A Poster Has No Name*

      That assumes the coworkers were complaining in real time rather than the manager reaching out to people to gather feedback on the LW’s first month. It’s possible that people hadn’t spoken up until asked so it all came in at once.

      Though it does seem like kind of a lot of negative feedback for a month, but it’s definitely possible that negativity is part of the culture there and the LW dodge a bullet by being let go early.

      1. Another Jen*

        Yeah, that was my thought too. The boss might do some sort of gathering session before a one month feedback session with new hires. And when all of the feedback was overwhelmingly negative, they realized that the only path was to let OP go.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I think most of this people probably wouldn’t have brought up on their own but might have given as feedback if the boss directly asked for some peer assessments.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          And they’re not necessarily talking to each other about OP, so no individual person thinks “maybe they’re not a fit” but the boss has all the feedback and sees the pattern.

      3. Olive*

        This seems plausible. I have had a previous coworker where my impression of his work and ability to meet deadlines was poor, but I didn’t have to work with him often, he wasn’t on my team, and I didn’t know anything about his background or personal circumstances (for example, that he had been a rockstar employee who was going through a struggle and getting back on his feet. Or he was completely overloaded with work and his manager had told him to make my project his lowest priority). Unless I know someone is regularly and tangibly doing a terrible job and it’s directly affecting me and my team, I’m not going to go complain about them.

        But if a manager had ever asked me to give feedback, I’d have been direct about my concerns.

    4. Board vs. Bored*

      I think this has to do with perspective, honestly. I could be wrong, but there are two ways to read the OP’s submission:

      1. Did the grandboss say, “How do you feel about working here? How’s your workload? Are you getting settled in?” followed by a “GOTCHA!” moment?


      2. Did the grandboss say, “I’d like to talk about your work here. When we last spoke, I said I appreciated you going above and beyond what was expected of a new employee, but do you think that’s changed recently? I’d like your honest opinion on recent weeks…” followed by the grandboss replying, “That’s concerning to me, because in recent days your colleagues have said…”?

      1. PlainJane*

        Even if it’s the second, it will come off feeling like the first if the person was genuinely unaware of the issues going in. I wouldn’t start off with asking his opinion at all–just start off with, “I’ve been hearing some things that are concerning to me…”

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          But that’s the point. They want to know if OP is aware of the issues going on. The awareness is its own data point.

          1. ferrina*

            Yeah. I might start the conversation off this way, first to test self-awareness, but also to reduce any risk of them tap-dancing their way out of it. If this was someone who tended to twist reality to whatever interpretation makes them look good (and unfortunately I’ve met more than my fair share of these people), I’d want to lock down their perspective before I have them go into damage control mode.

            1. PlainJane*

              That seems very strange to me–a job is a major psychological stress point. Making it more so by not being direct seems unnecessarily cruel.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                I can see the boss thinking “well, if OP sees the issues and wants to work on them, this conversation can go way 1, and if OP is like SUNSHINE AND ROSES BABY, I’M THE BEST it will go way 2.”. It’s not the best way to measure self-awareness, but it is what it was.

          2. PlainJane*

            It seems like a strange thing to check–“How socially aware are you?” (Also seems likely to lead to problems for HR if the person in question were neurodivergent in some way–which I’m not suggesting here, just thinking about in general terms in this kind of situation.)

            1. Gerry Kaey*

              soft skills like social awareness, ability to get along with others, respond appropriately to the room are all incredibly normal and reasonable things for an employer to want and are not inherently discriminatory to ND folks. i know plenty of ND folks who absolutely have strong social work relationships. they just use different tactics and it sometimes a more challenging/manual/intentional process than for NT folks.

    5. Dulcinea47*

      IDK about other places, but where I’ve worked you usually have a 6 month probation. At any time during that 6 months they can just decide you’re not working out and they don’t want to invest any more time in you. If all of these things happened within the first couple weeks, I can imagine a scenario where the manager was just fed up and didn’t feel that coaching was worth it.

      1. Smithy*

        Yeah….I was on a team where a very skilled staff member left, and when her replacement joined I had a few awkward interactions with her, and she needed some help on some computer things I thought might be basic, but nothing wildly necessary to report. Over the next few months it was clear I couldn’t go to her for the same things I could go to her predecessor for and would just adapt.

        By the six month mark, it was clear from more senior staff she was in the process of being let go, the post was being rehired for, etc etc. All things being equal from the time the first staff member left to the hiring, firing, and hiring again – it was almost a year. So not that anything wildly egregious happened in that first month to warrant this woman’s termination, but if things really do seem to be going sideways with a new hire, I can see why some places do make that kind of choice faster.

        1. Dulcinea47*

          ugh, yeah, it takes soooo long to go through the whole process again. I’ve seen one scenario that was similar to what you describe, but apparently the higher ups knew that she wasn’t really doing any work even tho she made it look like it for a while. That was a position they’d had a hard time hiring for. The other guy, beyond thinking he was a little odd I didn’t even have time to interact with him, I’m guessing he did something egregious tho ’cause he didn’t make it more than a couple weeks.

          1. Smithy*

            Yeah….I will say that with this woman I was having that combination reaction of “just because you don’t vibe with her doesn’t mean she’s bad at her job” and “who hasn’t struggled with a seemingly basic computer question before?”

            While there was absolutely nothing I would have flagged – I do think some other people who knew her work more closely were frustrated they hadn’t taken action sooner. Ultimately, it leaves me in a place where the OP was softening one of those points of feedback and it was at a level where it made that quick decision make more sense when you consider how long it can take to fill positions. Or, the OP’s list was all very mild but that team had made some rough hires recently and just didn’t have the bandwidth to coach someone with below average soft skills.

    6. The Rafters*

      We don’t know that OPs supervisor didn’t do that. How many of us have worked with someone who was told flat out that they were being in some way obnoxious or were not pulling their weight, & they didn’t get it? I’ve known a few who were honestly shocked that they weren’t hired permanently.

    7. Julian*

      Yeah, and honestly I feel like I’ve been blindsided like this before. I think everything’s fine and then it suddenly turns out everyone was upset with me. It really throws you off kilter. In my case folks were reasonably upset about X and Y but threw in a,b, and c to help bolster their argument. It sucked.

  19. Elle*

    Oof, the eating thing comment seems like a bold move for a new hire. My boss often eats on calls, likely because he straight up doesn’t have time most days to take a dedicated lunch break. It’s a little annoying for those of us with misophonia but I deal. One of my direct reports made a few comments about it recently in a group call and I winced but didn’t address it because none were exactly inappropriate, mostly just clumsy, but I might address her general attitude on stuff like this in the future.

    1. WonderEA*

      Agreed! It’s also about who is doing the thing — for example, I would mention some behaviors to co-workers that I would NEVER mention to my boss, and I’ve been here 8 years! You have to build some capital before you start correcting people, IMO.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I eat during meetings about 3 days a week – timezones mean I’m often in meetings from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. I’ll mute and go off camera when I can for Zoom but sometimes I’m in the same room with people. It happens. (For medical reasons waiting until 2:30 for lunch is not feasible.)

      1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        This is the key- you can eat, but don’t make people watch or listen to you do so. But for OP to tell someone to stop is definitely an overstep!

  20. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

    What jumps out at me is the underlying pattern – these suggest an abrasive personality at best, an outright jerk at worst. A joke that may have been offensive or at least was in poor taste, ordering people around when it’s not their place to do so, seeming confrontational about policies and being omitted from a list of new hires. Any one by itself may not be a big deal (depending on exactly how bad the joke was, or who was told not to eat – a peer vs someone two levels up) but there’s a definite pattern here.

  21. Veryanon*

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the OP thinks the reasons are trivial or not. If the employer doesn’t think they are a fit, then they’re within their rights to end the relationship (as long as it’s not for a legally protected reason). OP would be better served by doing some self-reflection and maybe talking to trusted friends or family members about how they’re coming across to others.

  22. PlainJane*

    While I suspect there may be some lack of self-awareness, one thing that strikes me is that OP seems to have been very genuinely blindsided by the concerns, which means that no one said, “That joke was very offensive” or “Could you slow down when you talk in meetings?” or “I’m sorry if it bothers you, but this is my lunch hour, and our office protocols include being able to eat during Zoom meetings.” If his frequent questions were problematic and challenging, no one said, “When you’ve been here a while, you’ll see why we do X procedure, and maybe spot a better way, but for now, you need to learn it.”

    Yes, ideally, everyone would be self-aware enough to pick up on social signals (widened eyes at being told not eat, increasingly irritated responses to questions, shock at a joke), but there are definitely people who don’t pick up on these cues. I know it took me a lot of practice, and I still often feel like the world is a minefield full of social traps that everyone else seems to have a map for while I’m just floundering around waiting to step in something. So… yes, even if OP was in the wrong, it sounds like there were also communication issues in the workplace.

    And I hate it when they ask, “How do you think you’re doing?” when the object is to say, “You’re wrong!!!! You’re terrible!” (Honestly, I’ve taken to just answering with everything I think is wrong with me. That way, if I’m wrong, it’s good news, and if I’m right, it’s not a surprise. But it does mean having constantly bad opinions of myself.)

    1. Not That Kind of Doctor*

      My office recently added an employee that in less than a week had most of the office trying to avoid engaging with him. Many of the comments made were along the line of what OP considers trivial. I think though a lot of the time it is easier to name these more superficial examples or characteristics when someone rubs you the wrong way almost immediately. In the case of our employee, he seems like a nice enough person and can do the job. Most of the complaints could fit into two categories though: a) he came in with a presumed sense of familiarity with everyone that felt incredibly overbearing and intrusive and b) the sheer volume of his annoying characteristics are completely overwhelming to anyone who has to interact with him. He takes up A LOT of auditory space. Half of my office has gone to wearing earbuds any time they are at their desks, but only turning up the volume when he is around.

      1. PlainJane*

        Yeah. I hope I’ve never been that, um, MUCH. Definitely, I could believe that the rest of the office had legitimate problems and the grandboss might have been 100% right in his assessment. I was just kind of looking at it from a distance and thinking that there were *also* problems in the way management approached the situation.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        This PERFECTLY describes a direct report I actually wrote to Alison about years ago. She was a pretty large contributing factor to me leaving that job after 5+ years, because managing her was so difficult and I was basically over that workplace and the decision to hire her over my objections was the last straw. She was incredibly over-familiar with people right out of the gate, and her personality was so overbearing that people chose to avoid her rather than work with her, although if you described what she was actually doing it sounded fairly innocuous. I think she lasted less than a year in that job and left the organization not long after. The job really required a discreet, not-the-center-of-attention personality (it was a make-everything-run-perfectly-behind-the-scenes sort of job).

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I have a new coworker like that, too. She started in September and on her literal first day she already had several of us cringing about her overly familiar exuberance towards us. To be fair, she has definitely toned it down since then and I can imagine at least some part of it were new-job-jitters but I’m finding it hard to shake that first impression.
          (But also, she did some other stuff that rubbed me the wrong way, including giving an order that would’ve actually been my call and which she could easily have been wrong about. Everything turned out okay but if it hadn’t, there was my signature on the bottom of the relevant document and I’m not amused by stuff like that.)

    2. AnonORama*

      Agree 100%. I wouldn’t behave like OP did out of the gate (or at all), and it does make sense for them to look at the whole situation when reflecting on what they could’ve changed about their own performance. But the bait-and-switch was just schoolyard-bully mean.

      1. AnonORama*

        (Meant to agree with PlainJane. Didn’t see the comment in between, although I’ve had coworkers like that and they’ve also been A LOT.)

    3. Random Dice*

      I’m sorry, but no.

      We don’t actually HAVE to explain to someone that their bigoted joke was offensive.

      We can just go straight to getting them fired.

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        What’s the advantage of not telling them why, though? It seems like it could be useful to let them know the joke was bigoted and this is the reason for their firing.

        1. PlainJane*

          Exactly. There just doesn’t seem to be a good reason to not spell it out, or to play the silly game of, “So what do YOU think about things?”

        2. Le Sigh*

          Generally speaking, the advantage is it’s not up to me to expend the energy to educate someone on why something they said to me was sexist. Very rarely has that worked — I was told I was overreacting, it’s just a joke, don’t be so sensitive, and even a few times, I was yelled at. Multiply that by however many times I encountered that in school, past jobs, my own family (answer, a lot) and I get tired of explaining it to little effect.

          I will sometimes go to the trouble if my read on the situation is it might be worth it. But I’m not obligated to and the ROI on it is poor. It usually better to conserve my energy for other things and avoid that person.

          Now, as a manager or grandboss, it would generally be good for them to have a discussion with that person and point out what they said is bigoted, if nothing else for the sake of coworkers. But it kind of sounds like things stacked up so quickly like it was a bad game of Tetris, and rather than break apart each problem, it seemed wiser to cut bait. My read is it’s possible OP was never warned, but it’s also quite possible OP was but they weren’t hearing it, so it seemed like a surprise.

  23. Apple Pharmer*

    What exactly is the meaning of “speaks too quickly in meetings”? Speaking hurriedly is one thing, but speaking on issues before more senior and relevant colleagues would reflect badly on a new employee’s judgement of the importance and relevance of their opinion over that of others…

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      That’s how I read that particular line, more like they are inserting themselves into conversations where they don’t have the standing or knowledge to contribute. Obviously there’s nothing super concrete to say it’s one way or the other, but I’ve read enough letters about that kind of behavior and seen it enough in my own office that it’s definitely plausible.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      Or cutting other people off. If it’s that meaning, I can see it being related to asking too many questions, as in not letting someone answer one question before jumping in with another.

  24. pally*

    I’m wondering if this is the embodiment of the “not a good fit” concept that some HR folks cite when a finalist candidate asks why they were not selected for the position.


    It’s possible that PO was not really reading the room. They may be coming across a little too aggressively so early on. This can be very off putting and hard to come back from. If this person wasn’t a good fit for the office, it is better to know sooner than later.

    1. PlainJane*

      So much depends on the details. OP sounds kind of young–is he just coming from a school environment, where campus bull sessions reward talking fast and talking over people? Has he always been told something like, “If you have an issue with something speak up!” and interpreted that to mean, “I don’t like the sound of chewing, and that means people shouldn’t do it in meetings”? Was there some reason that his expectations were seriously skewed?

      If so, it’s probably good that he’s contemplating it, so maybe it won’t happen again, but it also could just be a sign that it’s a bad fit.

  26. Coin_Operated*

    It does read as odd. I’d be curious if the LW has heard feedback like this before, otherwise, assuming this isn’t a major one-sided misrepresentation I would think this is a petty and dysfunctional work place.

    1. Heidi*

      I also wished for more context about the LW’s former work experience. If they’d done well at prior jobs and not had any critical feedback, I’d be more inclined to think this workplace was just weird. If they’d been let go from other jobs like this, I’d be more likely to think that the LW’s behavior is the problem and they’re just not recognizing it.

  27. Delta Delta*

    What was the joke, “The Aristocrats?”

    I feel like there are missing details and a timeline for all these things.

    1. T.T*

      Unreliable narrator for sure. I know we aren’t supposed to speculate but it’s very clear that so much is missing from the letter. Regardless, whatever the “petty” reasons are, OP was fired and needs to move on.

  28. Hiring Mgr*

    I hate to say it but if multiple coworkers are saying they don’t want to work with LW after only a few weeks, it’s hard to believe it’s over a few minor misunderstandings.

  29. Another Ashley*

    I’m getting the impression that the OP’s coworkers thought that the OP was rude and difficult to work with. I’m sorry things didn’t work out.

    1. Angstrom*

      If all the OP heard was statements like “You are difficult to work with”, that is too vague to take any useful corrective action. Feedback needs to be specific and actionable, such as “You always interrupt when I am speaking, and you reject every suggestion I offer”.
      The OP may well have screwed up, but I sympathize with the anxiety of not knowing what they did wrong. As is often said here, being fired should never come as a surprise.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Fair, and yet the company fired him after only a few weeks. They’re not invested in him learning what he did wrong. They just want him to go.

  30. KellifromCanada*

    My now-retired boss, who was a lovely person, regularly ate apples and other LOUD AND CRUNCHY snacks, during in-person meetings, while other people were presenting. It was excruciating.

    1. Le Sigh*

      This scenario is big reason I like working from home. My coworker is an amazing person to work with, but my god the daily, extended in-person apple eating (which I could still hear through my ear buds) made me want to run out the door screaming.

    2. The Wizard Rincewind*

      My team used to have meetings in the early afternoon and my boss, who was constantly on the go, took it as his “lunch break.” He’d almost always eat a sandwich with crunchy vegetables and sprouts and while I understand that he had to eat when he could and it’s his prerogative to eat during meetings he’s running, the noise!!! It made me want to put my ears out. So distracting.

  31. Gaia Madre*

    Umm, I bet they weren’t objecting to the fast talking because they “couldn’t keep up, wink.” Gah! The first month on a new job is the time to watch and listen, not to steamroll.

      1. dackquiri*

        The thing that caught my eye was how LW switched into their grandboss’ POV for the list, as if we’re meant to be hearing it in the grandboss’ voice on behalf of all of LW’s coworkers, even though they’re not direct quotes, or even fair paraphrasing. The items are clearly worded, phrased and framed by LW.

        I know that seems like a minor thing to be rankled by at first but—LW, writing it like this puts words in your grandboss’ mouth (at times, quite uncharitable ones). That’s exactly the kind of thing that can rub people the wrong way in a professional setting and can shrink how much of a chance they’re willing to give you.

  32. Nea*

    Mentioned being left out of two successive “these are the new employees” announcement speeches, and we didn’t like the tone that was mentioned to us

    That would bother me a lot too, to be honest. And while we don’t know how LW actually mentioned it and also while recognizing that speech and money are two separate things, I still can’t help but be reminded of the person who wrote in complaining that he didn’t like the tone of an employee pointing out that multiple paychecks had been messed up.

    1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      I can’t help but remember that Cheap Ass Rolls lady was incredibly upset about being left off the new employees announcement. That stuck out to me at the time because it’s happened to me at least twice and I didn’t understand why it would bother someone.

      1. Nea*

        Having other people acknowledged but not you smacks of being shunned. That said, the first time could easily be a mistake.

      2. Beany*

        It sounds petty, but I think it would bother me too. It implies that you’ve been systematically overlooked, and it’s such a small thing that it would feel silly to mention it.

        1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          All things being equal, I’m not sure it does imply that. I’d probably assume it was a simple error, or even that there could be some reason for it, unless there were other signs of me being overlooked.

      3. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        I get why it would bother someone to get missed, but complaining about it as though it’s a personal slight or conspiracy would definitely be a huge red flag about the personality of someone who made it a big deal. There’s a level of paranoia or drama-flaming implied in reading I’ll intent into what’s obviously a clerical error.

        Any response greater than “Hey, sorry, it looks like I might have been missed off that announcement; could I be included in the next one?” is going to be a red flag.

      4. K*

        I’d be bothered by it because I’d think it was because my role was being taken less seriously than other roles in the organization. But this might be particular to me. I’m an elementary school music teacher and it is quite often the case that those of us teaching in “specials” areas are taken less seriously than Gen Ed teachers so we are acutely aware of stuff like this. It’s possible that this is also the case in other industries but I don’t have the knowledge to say.

  33. I have opinions...*

    If just one or two of these were listed, that would be one thing. But all of them listed, including that food one which is not excusable… I tend to think OP was just insufferable. They didn’t fire OP for the fun of it. Nobody likes to have to hire yet again. So my money is on the firing being warranted.

  34. B*

    Taken together, these issues seem to suggest a person who is failing to “get it” — someone whose judgment, professionalism, communication, self-awareness or interpersonal skills are fundamentally lacking.

    And it seems like the response to the feedback may itself have confirmed the problem — i.e., being unaware that there WAS any problem, and then minimizing and failing to understand the importance of the deficiencies when they are identified.

    It’s hard to know from this limited account, but I have worked with people that fit this bill, whose unwillingness to take criticism constructively is symptomatic of the precise deficiencies that are being criticized. I imagine those people would describe their bad performance evaluations in terms similar to how the LW does.

    1. MHA*

      Yeah, the lack of detail here is doing a lot of talking on its own– someone with stronger self-awareness would realize that there are contexts where all of these complaints could be trivial or valid, and would’ve provided details that supported the ‘trivial’ reading. (Particularly with the joke! Of course people’s first question is going to be, ‘well, what was the joke?’ when there are all kinds of jokes that should lead to an immediate termination.)

      So the fact that the few details the LW provided (telling another coworker not to eat on a call???) actually support the ‘valid firing’ interpretation…. Yyyyeah.

  35. GelieFish*

    I recently had to let someone go and individually they appeared like small things, but they added up. between repeated mistakes and comments that they hadn’t been trained, when they had. Many little can equal a big. I will add thar I did lots of coaching and it didn’t sound like the LW had. course, my ex employee was like confused…everyone makes mistakes was their comment when we said we had to let them go.

  36. JP*

    So, I have a coworker who used to regularly call me and loudly chew / talk to me with her mouth full on the phone. They weren’t scheduled phone calls, they were just to ask random questions. But, I’m skeptical that the Zoom situation the OP describes was as obnoxious as those phone calls.

  37. Ellis Bell*

    I don’t love the company’s approach of springing such a litany of complaints on someone after nothing but praise, and no chance at all to course correct. Even if there is more to the feedback than the grandboss was willing to go into, I think it’s pretty cowardly of the immediate manager to not only avoid giving the feedback about team complaints, but to give only misleadingly positive feedback instead. I just think that when it’s someone’s livelihood at stake, you do have a duty of care to let someone know when they’re messing up in real time, and why the situation is serious. I’m not saying that a badly performing hire who is getting everyone’s back up needs to be kept on, but they do need clear warnings, and good communication about what the issue is, so at least the fired employee knows what on earth happened and can move on to the next role without paranoia. If telling a joke is a problem because it’s racist, say “racist language” instead of “bad joke”. The feedback as given is very difficult to understand or build on, and I would feel frustrated and paranoid too.

    1. Baron*

      In fairness, we have no idea if this is the feedback the manager gave or if it’s the LW’s interpretation of it.

  38. Queue*

    That’s a long-ish list for just a few weeks.

    Context matters for some of this. If I was on hour 3 of 6 consecutive hours of Zoom meetings and some new hire told me to stop eating the meal that I’d managed to get in the 30 seconds I squeezed between meetings I’d be… not impressed.

    1. Rick Tq*

      I rarely turn my camera on for just this reason. With my microphone muted I can eat my lunch during the 4th hour of back to back meetings.

  39. Margaret Cavendish*

    OP, you said this was a while ago, and that you’ve had at least a handful of positions since then. I’m curious as to how long ago, and what’ve you’ve learned in the meantime.

    To be honest, I’m not super optimistic for a good outcome here. Not because it happened once – people do dumb things and make bad impressions and get fired for them all the time. The best case scenario when this happens is they use it as a learning experience. Try to see things from the boss’ point of view, and think about what they can do differently next time. But the fact that a certain amount of time has passed, and you’re still seeing it with the same perspective, that you were fired for a bunch of trivial reasons you don’t understand – do you see how that’s a problem?

    It’s great that you wrote in, but for me the tone of your letter is more “tell me why I’m right,” rather than “help me learn from this.” To me, that’s a bigger problem than the fact that it happened in the first place. If you really didn’t learn anything from this, other than the boss was a big dumb poopyhead, you’re setting yourself up for it to happen again.

  40. kiki*

    I can see how any of these could be big or small deals depending on the context, but the way the grandboss decided to present this to LW makes me feel like the office may be a bit unhinged/unreasonable.

  41. Sparkles McFadden*

    I feel bad for you, LW, and I don’t want to speculate, but I’ve seen this sort of pattern from the other side.

    One of the things I noticed in new hires that did not last too long is that a lot of them are overly-familiar from day one. They joke with colleagues they barely know and do so in a personal way, based on banter they’ve picked up by listening to people who have known each other for years. They criticize processes they haven’t fully learned, and are overly critical of coworkers, sometimes saying things like “I can’t believe it took you a whole day to produce that report” and the always dreaded “At my old job, we did things this way and it was much better.” I think that’s from a desire to show value, as in “I understand what you do already and can help you make improvements.” That also shows up in meetings, where the person will answer a question posed to a more senior person, or talk over someone to make a point. (One person literally interrupted a meeting to say “This job is so easy, I don’t get why you all make such a big deal out of everything.” I mean, why? Even it that were true, why say that?)

    A lot of this seemingly soft stuff is really nuanced. Some things that aren’t OK when you’re a new person might be just fine once you’ve been around for awhile and everyone knows you better. Most people in a new hire situation, stay fairly quiet while learning. They ask questions to be sure the are picking up the information, but not so many questions that they’d annoy everyone. They definitely do NOT ask questions that start with something like “Why would you do that task that way when this way would make more sense?” Subtle things like where that line is are hard to gauge for some people.

    The problem in addressing this is that almost every time I’ve seen a boss try to do that (or been the manager who tried to do that) is that the person sees nothing wrong with the behavior and will double down and say “I was just joking like everyone else, you’re making too big a deal out of it” or “But that process is stupid and you’ll see I’m right” or “I cut Jane off in that meeting because my idea is better.” I did see a couple of people who worked really hard on this sort of stuff, but these were people who could actually tell that they were rubbing everyone the wrong way and acknowledged that there was a problem to be solved.

  42. Alan*

    Some people are just clueless about how important social etiquette can be. I once had a supervisor that was very competent but not well liked, because she was abrasive. And she complained to me more than once that since she did her job well, why should she have to be polite to people?

  43. Fluffy Fish*

    oh boy OP – this is going to be one of those times when the advice is probably going to feel harsh. I preface all of this with I highly doubt you are a “bad” person or a “bad” employee. That doesn’t mean that your assessment is correct however.

    OP only you truly know how you interacted with everyone. But this one really stands out “– Told a coworker not to eat during a longer call, said coworker now no longer wants any interaction with them”

    That is so highly inappropriate it really calls into question your judgement/appropriateness in general. You have ZERO standing to tell a coworker what to do in most cases, and even less so when you are brand new. Thinking you do have that standing is…not good.

    I’m wondering if everything that you deem trivial, is along the lines of it’s not what you say it’s how you say it – to include words chosen as well as tone.

    There are certainly toxic workplaces but it’s also odd that so many people seemed to have issues with you in such a short window of time.

    You should be doing some serious reflection here on your interactions.

  44. Bast*

    It sounds like someone has decided they don’t like LW, and are being incredibly petty about it OR possibly they want to hire a different person for the role and are just looking to drive LW out by making lame excuses. I truly believe unless, like Alison said, the joke was racist/sexist, etc., which would merit an understandable dismissal, the rest of the things are just minor personality quirks, and some could easily be addressed with a quick, “Hey, I heard that you told Sam to stop eating/that he was eating too long during that call. If you have concerns like that in the future, please refer them to your manager and let them handle it.” or “Please try to slow down a little when you speak during meetings.” You will never hire a perfect employee, and any halfway decent manager knows this. Everyone is going to have minor personality quirks that may annoy some, (telling bad jokes) even if you hire the best employee in the world, and every employee is going to have things they need to work on/weakness (like talking to fast)… which leads me to believe that something else was afoot here. Firing someone for telling a (not racist/sexist/homophobic, etc) joke or speaking too quickly sounds like they want to be rid of you and are just nitpicking. Particularly as LW mentioned receiving great feedback the first few days, this just isn’t otherwise adding up.

    1. Dog Child*

      I don’t think it has to even be that targeted. I personally think it’s likely OP was somewhere between an actual menace and a culture mismatch, and their workplace simply handled it pretty poorly.

      And as someone quite shrewdly pointed out that the ‘great feedback’ received early on was related to how ‘above and beyond’ LW was going for such a new hire. This might have not actually been ‘great feedback’ but some horribly over-coded ‘advice’ on their behaviour.

  45. Raw Cookie Dough*

    Also missing from the narrative is *who* the OP told not to eat on a call. While most everyone at the company would have more social capital than OP (since they were new), the person on the receiving end of this criticism might have had A LOT more social capital.

    1. thatoneoverthere*

      Yes, esp if OP wasn’t running the meeting. I couldn’t imagine telling someone not to eat on a call. Esp one I wasn’t running.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        I can’t imagine this either, it’s so wildly outside the norms of anywhere I’ve worked. The only example I can think of is a highly specific combination of circumstances:

        1. I am the manager of the person who is eating
        2. the call is with VIPs
        3. the person is presenting or otherwise playing an important role in the meeting
        4. I’m giving them a private heads up beforehand, in the context of “this is a very important meeting, please be on your best behaviour.”

        Maaaaybe if 1, 2, and 3 are true and I forgot to warn them about 4, but even then it would be a private message. I honestly can’t imagine a scenario where I would say something like this in front of other people.

  46. What is even happening*

    eeeh sounds like OP was a jerk AND that he was not given clear, timely and specific feedback/correction/disciplinary measures. Neither the boss nor OP look good in this

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah I’m curious how this played out. Did the manager hear about things as they happened? Was the manager present for any of the incidents and didn’t say anything, or wasn’t clear? Or WAS OP corrected, and it didn’t stick because…well there might be some self-awareness issues going on here. Or did the manager go around getting feedback for a one-month check-in kind of thing and got bombarded with all this stuff at once?

      I’m not expecting an update on this one but it would be SO helpful to have more details.

  47. Turingtested*

    I’m so curious about the joke. a newer hire at my place makes a lot of tone deaf jokes (About wishing to be retired even though this is his first job; says I’m still asleep if asked how they’re doing) but it seems immature not fire worthy. Are those that type of joke or something more universally offensive?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I can see those being problematic as part of a larger pattern or bundled with a general dislike.

  48. EA*

    Probably a large part of this is that at many companies, it’s way easier to fire someone during a probationary period, and OP just seemed like a lot to deal with – why risk having to go through a lengthy process later, when ties could be cut now and you could try to find someone who’s less challenging to work with (even if all of the challenges are minor).

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      This. Taking OP at face value – the way they were let go is not great.


      If someone is very obviously not working out, and in ways that are really not things that someone should even have to address (like the no longer employed guy at my work who wore a straight out of f*cks shirt) I can see situations where it’s obvious why no one bothered to sit down and say “you’re being a total abrasive jerk you need to work on that”.

      Only OP knows.

      1. Dulcinea47*

        one tends to assume that abrasive jerks aren’t open to hearing about their abrasive jerkiness.

  49. Ann O'Nemity*

    Sounds like the OP just wasn’t a good fit. Going off of the details given by OP, each one of the items could have been handled with some pretty minor coaching. But seeing the whole list assembled like that… yeah, they didn’t like the OP and wanted to cut losses.

    Regarding the OP’s question about being justified in feeling annoyed, sure! You have every right to your feelings. I’d be pissed if I was fired for stuff like this, especially if I didn’t see it coming! But moving forward I would also be way more careful about how I came across in a new workplace to avoid this happening again.

  50. wrong place, wrong time*

    I was once fired from a job I’d only been at for 3 weeks for, ostensibly, working beyond my job scope. It was an unusual situation where they hired 8 people who had no work to do, their supervisor spent all his time somewhere that was not the worksite (the local bar, presumably) and the site supervisor tasked me with making sure they didn’t get killed.

    In reality, it was combination of being 6 inches taller than my male supervisor and accidently finding out my supervisor and the HR person were having an affair.

    Sometimes you just get fired for reasons beyond your control.

  51. Alex*

    It sounds like LW may be lacking some soft skills that the employer saw as necessary for the role. A lot of this list seems to be problems with communicating with coworkers–in tone and content. Sure, each individual example seems small, but added up shows pattern of poor communication/judgement that seems like it could lead to a firing during the probationary period. LW may do well to reflect on how to better interact with peers and build more positive relationships.

  52. TD*

    I think some of the warning signs were in the writer’s first paragraph, before they even get to the supposed problems.

    “I… got great feedback during the first days for going above and beyond what was expected of new teammembers.” Sometimes “going above and beyond” can mean reaching into areas where you aren’t needed (and possibly aren’t qualified for), while putting less effort into the tasks you were actually hired to deal with. The “great feedback” could have been based on an early appreciation of the writer’s enthusiasm, until coworkers or managers started complaining that they were pressing their way into areas where they didn’t belong.

    “I… was looking forward to more substantive tasks.” Again, this person had just started. If they were already pushing for “more substantive tasks,” they were probably giving the impression that they weren’t interested in their actual job.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “If they were already pushing for “more substantive tasks,” they were probably giving the impression that they weren’t interested in their actual job.”

      This is a great point. I had a friend who kept getting fired from jobs, because she would almost immediately be angling to do something “more interesting” and, from her perspective, it was important for her to be able to fulfill her potential.

      However, the employer understandably wanted someone to do the job they’d hired for – my friend was impatient and not willing to pay her dues.

      Not saying this is you, OP. But I think this experience might be good luck in disguise: either these people are pretty awful and fired you for next to no reason, in which case, good riddance!

      Or…you rubbed people the wrong way without realizing it. I think it’s worth examining the second possibility, because if this is the case, the pattern will keep repeating.

      A good rule of thumb is to be very low-key for a little while when you first start a job. Don’t tell jokes – don’t tell people not to eat on the phone – do dress a little more formally than usual, and treat people with more deference than you might normally do. They are just getting to know you and if you go in with guns blazing, it might come across as aggressive or tone deaf.

      I would also look at your history and try to figure out if there have been other situations where you made a bad first impression. Really think about it and try to figure out why.

      Good luck!!!

      1. Lilo*

        I once worked with a new hire sho said she wasn’t a good fit for the base job but thought she could be in the office that more set the office’s direction. Which was a higher level job, and generally earned by those who were really good at the base job. She did not work out.

    2. Starscourge Savvy*

      The tone reminds me of the letter about the employee who got fired for signing themselves up for and showing up at a conference after being told the company wouldn’t send them. There’s a lot of confidence coupled with missing details, which I can see leading to a much different reading of the situation than is painted here.

    3. biobotb*

      I was thinking along these lines, too. Like maybe the feedback wasn’t “Wow, amazing for going above and beyond!” it was more like, “You really went above and beyond, and it worked out this time, but there are reasons we don’t expect new employees to do this, plus you need to focus on your other job duties.” and all the LW heard was the first bit.

  53. Observer*

    LW, you get to feel how you feel about this stuff. But there is a lot here that raises some flags here and that I think you probably need to think about.

    For starters, the total lack of context or details for most of your complaints is a problem. Because context *matters*. A lot.

    Like what kind of joke did you tell? When and to whom? Was there any reaction at the time? And how did you react to that? Allison called out the biggies here. But beyond that, if you did something like a former LW who was telling dead baby jokes and was annoyed that their manager didn’t like them, and just ignored everyone’s obvious discomfort that’s a problem. And I’m really wondering about that, because you now wonder if you are “mentioning a topic people have decided they don’t like” That sounds like you are convinced that the dislike is pretty arbitrary and unknowable from the outside, and also that your joke was a trivial and passing thing that reasonable people would barely notice. And both of those things could be true! But on the other hand, nothing you say gives us any indication that this is the case.

    Why am I looking for indications? For one thing the whole list sounds like a lot. And again, the lack of context and detail makes me wonder if *you* understand that these things matter. But also, the fact that you so clearly misread your relationship with the group makes me think that you’re not good at judging how most people react to stuff. And lastly but crucially, the fact that you consider *telling* a *coworker* not to eat on a “longer meeting” is just something that seems incredibly out of line on its own. The fact that said coworker does not want to have any interactions with you is not at all minor! Did you not realize that they don’t want to deal with you or do you really think that it’s no big deal? Either one is problematic on its own. Given that it was the result of something you did, don’t you think it should have been a signal to you that it really was a big deal?

    I’m trying to not pile on here. But it seems to me that really addressing this would be useful to you. I think that the advice someone gave you earlier on to look into some help with “social pragmatic” is sound. In fact, I think it will be extremely helpful. And you’ll be less likely to have to wonder about being unknowingly annoying to people.

  54. Lily Rowan*

    I am FASCINATED by how many people are assuming OP to be male, when that is not at all the standard on this site.

    1. ?*

      I don’t think AAM has said that at all. She’s said more female OPs than male but not that male ones are vanishingly rare or anything.

      1. Myrin*

        No, but commenters generally refer to OPs as “she” or, much more in recent years, “they”. I’ll semi-quote myself from just a few weeks ago when I said that commenters never call OPs “he” unless there’s either an actual confirmation in the letter or a female partner (which I’m not fond of because heteronormativity but it’s definitely something that happens) – I said that in reaction to another letter where, quite like here, a lot of commenters read the OP as male for some reason (and she later commented and confirmed that she is a woman, so there’s that) which is indeed highly unusual.

    2. Goosey*

      Oh, wow, that’s true. I also assumed OP was a man (in the sense that OP comes off as very potentially That Guy), but I’m also realizing that if I knew OP was a woman (or anyone other than a cis dude) I would be more likely to think the situation is a blend of OP not fitting professional norms and some colleagues/bosses having crappy gendered expectations around communication. Interesting!

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, I admit to having assumed the same thing. Maybe because this LW sounds exactly like That Guy™…

  55. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    I wonder if the grandboss decided to hold this meeting because the manager and coworkers had tried to tell the OP about problems in the moment, but s/he didn’t realise – either they weren’t direct enough or the OP wasn’t listening properly because s/he assumed all was going brilliantly. So grandboss wanted to state the problems clearly himself.

    Also, I wonder if grandboss hadn’t initially decided to fire the OP, but listed the problems, expecting an apology and a promise to improve, but instead the OP argued or didn’t seem to be taking the list seriously.

    1. Heffalump*

      To me, it reads as if grandboss didn’t say, “We have these problems with you, what do you have to say for yourself?” They said, “We have these problems with you, you’re fired.” The employee’s initial “things are great” response may have entered into it, but the die was cast at that point, regardless of what the employee said in response.

  56. LifeBeforeCorona*

    They all seem trivial but added together they don’t paint a good picture for someone who’s only been there for a few weeks. It seems like there was something said or noted almost every day by various co-workers. Since the termination came from the grandboss, these incidents were taken seriously to be passed along.

  57. Risha*

    OP, I think you really need to do some self reflection and see how you come across to others. If a new coworker told me (not asked, but told!) not to eat on a meeting, I would most likely laugh in their face and continue eating. Maybe not very professional of me, but why would you order someone not to eat, especially when you’re still new? If the sound is bothering you, there are many other ways to convey that.

    Also, what type of joke did you tell? My coworkers are jokey too, and no one ever has any issues with these jokes. I feel like it may have been a joke that’s offensive to some people. If not, why be so vague in this letter? Or are you the type that jokes when people are trying to be serious? I can definitely see that landing badly with others.

    Regarding your asking many questions, even sometimes that can be a huge problem. It depends on what you were asking and how you were asking. Years ago, I trained a new person who asked so many basic questions. Like, I would tell her how to do abc and literally 1 minute later, she would ask me how to do it. While I was explaining things to her, she kept complaining there’s so many steps to do our work, or asking when do we get another break. She wouldn’t listen to what I was telling her, then she would ask me how to do what I just said. I had to tell the manager that I don’t think she’s working out (which I’ve never had to do before, I can train almost all types of people).

    Maybe all the reasons why you were fired are bs. But maybe there’s a lot more behind it. I do strongly urge you to think about if these comments are things you have received a lot in the past. If so, think about what you can do to fix it. If not, and if these reasons are truly bs, then you dodged a bullet. Either way, good luck to you in your job search.

  58. Ess Ess*

    A lot of the ‘reasons’ have already been commented on, but the one about asking too many questions about processes also jumped out at me. What type of questions were you asking? Since you didn’t give examples, we can’t determine if this was something minor or if it was overstepping and giving the impression that you thought you knew the job better than others that had been there longer. Were you challenging the processes by asking “why can’t we do it this way instead” or “why do we have to do this” or “this would be a better way to do X”? Asking for context or steps in a process to make sure you are doing it right is usually a good thing. Many companies have very convoluted or picky processes because of historical problems that they need to avoid, sometimes for an uncommon non-obvious situation. If the question were challenging the “why” or trying to offer “better” or easier ways to do it would not be welcome because they’ve already determined that this is the best process to avoid pitfalls they’ve encountered in the past. It would come across as over-arrogant if your questions were to try to change the existing processes before you had been there long enough to really know the full system.

  59. Sneaky Squirrel*

    On the surface, these all seem benign and as an employee I would be upset if I wasn’t given some guidance in the moment on some of these. But it sounds like multiple coworkers gave the boss feedback which means that LW might have a habit of rubbing people the wrong way.

    – Speaks too quickly in meetings, sounds hurried > Sounds benign and something that should be addressed in a one-on-one if it’s nerves. Could it sound like LW is trying to hurry the meeting along/not take input from others?

    – Made one joke we didn’t like > Here it sounds like multiple people didn’t like the joke which leads me to believe the joke was inappropriate.

    – Told a coworker not to eat during a longer call, said coworker now no longer wants any interaction with them > I’m reading here that LW ‘told’, not ‘asked’ a coworker to not do it which feels like an overstep as a new employee. Curious if it’s a surprise that coworker doesn’t want any interaction any longer?

    – Asked too many questions about processes > I could see how this could be annoying if it was coming off as LW not learning how to do the job or LW trying to improve the process when they don’t know enough about the process.

    – Mentioned being left out of two successive “these are the new employees” announcement speeches, and we didn’t like the tone that was mentioned to us > That’s frustrating and I’m sorry about that. Perhaps someone should have helped the first time. But at the same token, context of how LW mentioned it and where it was brought up might give some insights on why it rubbed colleagues the wrong way.

    1. dackquiri*

      You joke, but that is one of those workplaces I’m shocked Alison isn’t frequently getting unrelated letters from the people who work there.

  60. Foo4Fish*

    My spouse is in the process of trying to fire someone who seems to have similar issues. Nobody wants to work with them, they think they know better than the rest of the team about how to do stuff even though they are fairly new to the team, they agree to do things one way and then do it a totally different way because “it’s better”, even though it takes longer, causes them to miss deadlines, etc. It’s a lot of behavior stuff – if they are only working on tasks by themselves, they are fine, but as soon as they have to interact with someone else (most of the work they do), it becomes a problem. My spouse has talked with them about this numerous times, it’s all in his performance reviews, but every time they have the conversation about what needs to change, the person is like “I’m doing great, everyone loves working with me, can we talk about my promotion now?” I know my spouse is using kind but firm and direct feedback (I’ve been helping him practice), so I know ‘s not that. I just think some people can be a bit lacking in self-awareness, and if they don’t understand the value of working well with other people and following social norms, then even direct messages can be missed. Attitude and working well with others matters. OP, I think you should consider finding a way to understand social norms better, and decide for yourself that working well with other people is part of pretty much every job. That being said, there are jobs out there where working well with others is less important, but this job doesn’t seem to be it.

    1. Platypus*

      Had a similar situation on my team. I could talk until I was blue in the face and the person would not get promoted but they would disregard what I was saying and point to their production. I even said “I need you to believe me when I say these are things I think you are deficient in.
      They finally left and claimed it was a hostile work environment but that investigation ended pretty quickly.

  61. CLC*

    (1) jokes are always a red flag. If a joke is benign and just not funny no one cares. For someone to complain about a joke it had to be offensive or hurtful in some way (2) looking at all these things separately one could say this one or that one seems petty or at least not grounds for termination. But if you look at the whole list together it is a lot of complaints for someone who has only worked at a company for a few weeks.

    1. Heffalump*

      For someone to complain about a joke it had to be offensive or hurtful in some way

      That’s very much a case of “it depends.” Some jokes really are offensive and hurtful, but some people have no sense of humor.

      1. allathian*

        I’ve certainly never met anyone who didn’t have any sense of humor at all, it’s just that some people’s sense of humor is unfit to be displayed in public. A friend’s ex prided himself on the fact that he only found offensive jokes funny, and the more offense they caused, the funnier they were. The joke, meme, whatever had to be hurtful to others for him to find it funny. He had a cruel streak in him and when my friend told me she’d left him I cried happy tears.

        A former coworker prided himself on never laughing at jokes, ever. At most, he’d smile a bit. That was a bit weird because that year we had a stand-up comedian who performed at our end of the year holiday party. Pretty much everyone else was laughing until they cried, and he just sat there, smiling to himself. But the funniest thing happened the following week when our manager asked how we’d liked the show, and this coworker said he’d found it absolutely hilarious!

        Now, I’ll frankly admit that some of the jokes I’ve heard, told, and found funny in the past would be completely unacceptable in polite company today. Many of them were sexist, cis- and/or heteronormative, racist, ableist, body shaming, or all of the above, even at the time when I heard/read them, but the limits of acceptable humor, especially at work, look a lot different now than they did even 25 years ago.

        I recently found a joke book for kids that circulated in the mid-80s when I was in middle school. A surprisingly small number of the jokes, mostly puns, are still funny today. More than half were cringey because they were either misogynistic or racist, or both.

        1. Heffalump*

          I was thinking of the “My employee is freezing out a manager after he joked about King Charles” post. My point is that people aren’t always justified in taking offense at a joke. But in the present case, we don’t know if the joke was inappropriate or not.

    2. Victoria Everglot*

      It’s also possible for a joke to be completely benign but to be made at the wrong time. If there’s a serious meeting about financials this quarter and someone says “wow, our numbers are such trash Oscar the Grouch called” that person could get in big trouble even though no one in the world finds Sesame Street offensive.

  62. Raida*

    I’ve definitely told people to mute themselves if they eat during a meeting.

    Not suggested, not feedback – “Hey, remember to mute yourself while you’re eating on mike” and “Hey, don’t chew into the microphone.” and for one person a hand on their arm and a quiet “The mike is picking up your chewing, just wait and eat afterwards.”

    1. Observer*

      I’ve definitely told people to mute themselves if they eat during a meeting.

      I’m not sure how this is really relevant. The OP says that they told someone *not to eat*, no mention of muting themselves.

      Also, maybe you have the standing to do so, but it’s very rare that a new person has the standing to *tell* coworkers much of anything, even something as simple as that they should mute themself.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. Asking a coworker to mute themself is one thing, telling them to do so is quite another, especially when you’re new.

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      Well, if you’ve done that at a job you’ve been at <3 weeks, let me be the first to tell you that is very presumptuous. Unless you are literally the highest ranked person in the room, and it would likely still be odd when you are that new.

      I presume (heh) you're actually in a position in your roles where you have the context, capital, and authority to tell a coworker not to eat.

  63. GCT*

    If you have that many complaints, from that many people, in that short of period of time, you’re doing something seriously wrong.

    1. Boof*

      Or maybe they were replacing a beloved employee who died *
      * or any number of other factors for a team to decide they just don’t like someone new, or the big boss to drum up complaints as an excuse for firing for some other reason.
      There just isn’t enough info here to know where the problem was – except i guess op says that was the only place they had such issues which makes me lean away from it being the op is outrageously arrogant/delusional

  64. Dancing Otter*

    “Asking too many questions” can also be argumentative if the new employee is asking, for example, WHY do it that way? This other way is obviously better. I don’t understand why you want me to do it this way. Why couldn’t we just X; this way is so much more work?

    I’m betting the grand boss did the firing because the direct supervisor couldn’t get through to the LW, or wasn’t taken seriously.

  65. Heffalump*

    Regarding “speaks too quickly in meetings,” some commenters seem to be conflating this with arrogance, dismissiveness, impatience. I had to say I don’t see that. Maybe the LW naturally speaks quickly; maybe they felt a need to cover a lot of material in a short time.

    Telling the coworker to stop eating was definitely out of line.

    1. Victoria Everglot*

      Sometimes people talk so quickly that there’s no room to respond, and by the time they finally pause the thing you needed to respond to was 3 minutes ago and now you have to backpedal the conversation. Meetings are *meetings*, not lectures. People need a chance to respond and also a chance to understand what’s being said, talking too fast can mean people don’t know what you’re saying, thus ruining the whole point of having a meeting.

    2. biobotb*

      Well, even if the LW didn’t mean to, that could have come across as arrogance. Anyway, I think commenters’ read of that is influenced by the way the LW wanted the boss to handle it. The script they wrote for their boss seems to presume that the people listening to them were struggling to keep up because they were a little dim, not because maybe the LW was hard to understand or some other reason.

  66. RVMan*

    All of those things taken together sound like you were perceived as arrogant. A new person has no standing to be telling people not to eat in meetings, or complaining about introductions, or whatever, without knowing company culture.

    One thing I will point out that you are possibly right about is that these things should have been addressed with you by your direct manager, at the time, not by your grand-boss weeks later. If this really was your first time hearing about these things, it sounds like your manager was getting complaints, and not addressing them with you. That is bad managing. It may be your grand-boss believed that this list was not ‘new news’ for you and that your manager had been doing their job, and that person hadn’t been. The grand-boss may have even thought you were lying about not being aware of these problems, and that moved this from ‘remedy’ to ‘firing’, and so things escalated much more quickly from your perspective than they should have.

  67. FunkyMunky*

    so my very first job out of university, had something similar happen for me
    I was a few months in, happily chugging away at work, but then randomly get called into CEOs office and basically told things are bad etc. No other feedback or direction was given before – this is a terrible thing to happen and its super stressful
    it’s also shitty management – that place ended being a hot mess anyway, so I’m glad I was there too long
    this is likely not on LW but on weirdos working in that office

  68. Neurospicy aunt*

    Taking everything together (and only looking at the info from the LW), this sounds like a double empathy issue – like the kind of things a neurodivergent person might do with good intentions but will be misinterpreted, probably based on several subtle signals. It sounds like a toxic workplace – the kind of people that are bullies deep down.

  69. Rosacolleti*

    How odd that the OP didn’t comment on any of the criticisms. Are they admitting they did all these things?

    1. K*

      We don’t know that OP reads the blog often enough to have seen these comments. Most OPs don’t reply to comments.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, they aren’t disputing that the issues didn’t happen, they are just saying they think they are trivial and shouldn’t be fireable offenses.

  70. Old Admin*

    Maybe it’s my background, but I believe eating on a work phone call is incredibly disrespectful and unprofessional. I would say something, too.

    But Alison is right, it’s all about OP’s tone, or perceived tone (I never said the people there were fair).
    However, you can be fired for any reason, or no reason, in most of the US. Same goes for within the probationary period in European countries.

    1. DramaQ*

      But there is saying something and there is saying something. I was on a meeting and didn’t realize my mic was on. People came into my area and started talking VERY loudly. I got a “Hey DQ can you turn off your mic”. Done. If it was a “Hey your mic is picking up noises could you please mute during the meeting” no problem. If it was a “Hey you are eating, it’s really annoying and rude you need to stop eating during meetings” or a “Well I learned in school that this is not proper behavior on a meeting you should really be more courteous clearly I need to school you on proper meeting behavior” type order I can see how that would piss someone off. It could totally be a BEC moment but the phrase “ordered to” sticks out to me. If you are a new person and/or a subordinate you shouldn’t be “ordering” someone to do something. If it is really that bad then the order should come from management and AFTER the meeting. I have also been wondering if they hijacked the meeting to give a lecture about eating during a meeting. That would also tick plenty of people off and if done often enough make them not want to work with someone.

  71. The Linen Porter*

    This ”speaks too fast” rings a bell. Poor Mona, I remember her. In our missionary school that was taught by American nuns, we always got landed for year or few with diplomat kids. (My best mate from Indonesia found me on facebook, even we got into trouble when he broke his wrist in the yard).. Mona was from Egypt, but in Egyptian schools apparently they didn’t teach pauses or commas or full stops…. She would start reading and just continue… bababbababababa… no pauses, except when she had to breathe… we’d throw our erasors and pencil stubs just to make her pause… She got into this ’clicque’ I think the girls coached her a bit but it was Monanananananananaana…aaah…. monananannan

  72. BecauseHigherEd*

    “Made one joke we didn’t like” sounds like code for “Made an inappropriate comment regarding a protected class of individuals or at the expense of another employee.” OP, if that’s you, that’s a very valid reason to receive a reprimand and, if there are other factors going on, a potential firing.

    1. dackquiri*

      It might not have even been that malicious a joke to cause problems! For instance, I might comfort a friend perplexed by medical paperwork, “Aw, yeah, you gotta sign your life away before they’ll see ya. All aboard the red tape express. Choo-choo!” I would never do that in the office because a big tenet of my job is taking all that paperwork seriously and having a comprehensive, non-hyperbolic grasp of what those forms entail.

      If I were overheard saying something of that nature, I’d hope that people would get that I’m exaggerating for comic relief, and relating the experience of overwhelm as a patient, not conveying my actual attitude towards the documents. But, I don’t usually walk around extolling the virtues of the nuances of paperwork, and for a lot of people, the gist of that joke may be their sole glimpse into how seriously I take my job.

  73. Fellow Canadian*

    I’m curious what the LWs joke was. I’m also curious what type of job it was, and the LWs level of seniority. For instance I am thinking that in a role that takes less time to hire and onboard for (say a part time retail job) compared to a highly technical specialized role, making sure you get along well with other staff members is probably a much more important part of the job. It would also be easier to head “back to the drawing board” and try hiring someone else who isn’t going to (allegedly) reduce the team’s morale. Similarly with seniority, a new senior person who asks a subordinate to stop eating on a call is shitty but will just be more accepted than a new entry/junior level employee doing the same thing.

  74. The Linen Porter*

    In USA – what are you asking about?
    In UK – so what ?
    In Finland – the union has already had decided this

  75. youbetterworkb*

    It’s unfortunate that we don’t have more information, but the subtext I see here is that the company saw your behavior as abrasive and didn’t have the guts to be clear about it.

  76. dackquiri*

    I’ve never been a manager, but I will say, with most people I’ve worked with… three weeks of working closely with them is enough time, generally. It’s enough time to get over any assumptions or false first impressions, and enough time to see what the primary flavor of working with them is gonna be. And it’s enough time to identify red flags for compatibility with the interpersonal dynamics of the office.

    I have sat down with HR after one such manager wreaked havoc on my mental health, the mental health of most of my colleagues, and interdepartmental relations. After four years, I had plenty of gnarly examples that clearly illustrated the problem. HR was moved by those examples because they were obvious and flagrant… but, they had also already happened and inflicted long-term damage. If I had sat down the instant I knew her communication style was going to be a problem, it would read a lot like a list of tiny little minor grievances similar in scale to the ones in the letter.

    LW, I would take it not as getting nickeled-and-dimed out, but rather an attempt to use specific tiny examples to gesture toward an underlying intangible quality (maybe it’s something you oughta work on; maybe it’s just value-neutral incompatibility—with this level of detail it’s impossible to say).

    1. Heffalump*

      I would think there’d be a point, after the “tiny little minor grievances” phase but well short of 4 years, where you’d have plenty of gnarly examples.

  77. Burger Bob*

    Yeah, I know the rule here is to take commenters at their word, but being fired for those reasons makes me really wonder if there is context not being shared here. If it truly is as innocuous as LW has described, I’d call it a very strange workplace and consider it a bullet dodged.

    1. Dawn*

      I mean, there is absolutely context not being shared here, that’s made very clear in the vague way it’s written.

      I don’t think anyone who is confident that their joke was just fine for all audience would have left out what the joke was and just described it as “one joke they didn’t like,” to pull an example that jumped out.

  78. Heffalump*

    The OP’s comment about looking forward to more substantive tasks really needs more context. If he was expecting tasks an order of magnitude more substantive THIS WEEK, that’s one thing. If he meant learning the ropes and growing into the job organically, that’s another.

  79. Luna*

    So these were complaints collected over four weeks and none of those were ever brought up to you previously? Can I just say that I absolutely detest that?

    If you have a problem with how an employee is doing something, especially if they are new in the field, please, for the love of anything, tell them directly. Do not tell someone else to vent or just hope that they’ll eventually play messenger, and letting them hear about this further down the line.

    I have supposedly had complaints about my work from sources that were not my direct supervisor. I have never heard a lick of those happening. Who was complaining? Apparently, multiple people; clients and staff not working in my center, alike. Never heard anything about it, until the talk with letting me go came up. And even when it finally was brought up, I got no exact details on what the problem was or vague, indirect mentions.
    That doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t solve the problem, it doesn’t let the employee know where the issue was, *nor how to improve*.

  80. Kg*

    I would never dream of telling a colleague whether or not they can eat. (In some office cultures, it might even be the norm to eat when you can, meeting or not.)

    I’ve certainly been at companies where we have working lunches in the office, so you bring along your salad while banging something out.

    What surprises me more than a new person trying to correct the behavior of seasoned colleagues is that they don’t also realize how non trivial that is.

    But I can think of one person I know — who is quite abrasive — who can’t keep jobs for long. Sometimes without good explanations and sometimes immediately — “oh just a restructuring.” But a personality that is always trying to correct those around them is exhausting. Not helpful, not “right,” as OP might think they are — just unpleasant to be around.

  81. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    If her new employer decided to let her to, that’s one thing. But it stinks that instead of being straightforward and honest about it, Grandboss asked how it was going (as if just checking in on new-employee progress), and after she gave her positive assessment he shot her down by telling her she was wrong . Maybe he thought she’d say “Yeah, I screwed up a lot and I ought to go.” But his approach was wrong. And she was there because they made a hiring decision–even if an employee doesn’t work out, management still has to accept their responsibility.

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