passing along dress code feedback I disagree with, I want my employee to say “we” not “I,” and more

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

1. I want my employee to say “we” not “I”

We have a very productive employee who is enthusiastic about her position and enjoys working with the public. I appreciate her and most everything she brings to the table. However, when speaking with patients, she refers to the business as though it is her own. For example, when scheduling a patient for an exam she will say, “I have an opening at 10 on Friday, November 3rd.” I would like for her approach to be, “OUR next availability is on Friday, November 3rd at 10 am.”

How can I approach this employee without killing her enthusiasm? I want her to understand that and address the business as a whole using the terminology of “our” and “we” rather than “I.” Do you have any solid advice for me?

You should let this go! There’s nothing wrong with the wording she’s using; it’s very standard language in that context. She’s not implying she owns the business, nor will patients assume she does. (For what it’s worth, I kind of like it when a scheduler uses that wording; it makes me feel like they’re invested in their work and so I’ll be taken care of.)

If you ask her to change such a minor thing, you’re likely to come across as overly controlling and, yes, will risk killing some of her enthusiasm.

2. Should I pass along dress code feedback I don’t agree with?

A high level manager, Pearl, shared questionable feedback/concerns with me regarding a junior employee, Ruby. Pearl has concerns around Ruby’s personal appearance (clothing/makeup/hair) not being pulled together enough for our office and industry.

Context:
• Pearl and Ruby have different chains of command. However, Pearl has a decent amount of influence beyond her chain of command.
• It would be natural for Pearl to assume our conversation was confidential and private.
• We are a “dress for your day” office where anything from sweatpants to full suits may be seen around the office. The majority of team members wear jeans with sweaters/collared shirts/plain t-shirts/blouses.
• We work in a creative industry.
• Ruby has a relaxed style with minimal/no makeup. I think she dresses within the norm for our office, but she is on the more casual side of that norm.
• Ruby is plus-sized (I share this because I do think plus-sized women’s fashion choices are scrutinized more).

I don’t plan to say anything for a combination of reasons, primarily that I think the concerns are way off-base and possibly sizest. But I didn’t know if this is a situation where I would be doing Ruby a favor by sharing this info so that she can decide if she wants to take action.

If you don’t agree with the feedback, don’t pass it on to Ruby — otherwise you’ll just be putting it in her head for no reason. (And here’s what that can feel like from Ruby’s side.) What you should do, though, is to go back to Pearl and say you made a point of watching Ruby’s work appearance after your conversation and she is within the norms for your office so you don’t intend to raise it (assuming you hadn’t already said this when it first came up).

The exception to this advice would be if Pearl has the power and the inclination to make this A Problem for Ruby, and if you don’t have enough standing to insulate Ruby from any effects of that. In that case, it could be a kindness to give her a heads-up, but framed as “I don’t agree with Pearl and have pushed back but she has a bee in her bonnet about it and may turn into it a thing / I have your back if you don’t want to change anything, but realistically she has enough influence that it didn’t seem fair not to tell you she’s talking about this.”

3. “The new Bob”

I’m a little more than a month into a new job, and there’s a weird snag. I took a role that was vacated when someone was promoted to a different department. It’s a running joke that this person was “stolen” from my boss and everyone misses them.

I am really happy to be here and have been able to contribute more than I even anticipated. My officemates have said that it seems like I’ve been here much longer (in a good way!), they feel comfortable and happy with me, I fit right in, etc. etc. etc. It feels really nice.

What feels less nice is that every time my boss publicly introduces me, as recently as last week (four weeks into my job), my boss begins with a long monologue about how much we all miss the previous person and we didn’t think they could ever be replaced, and then I’m introduced with, “But it turns out, she is great!”

The additional layer to all of this is that the previous employee had a minor public scandal several years ago when they were arrested for (more than one case of) public indecency/exposing oneself. They had to resign their high-profile job in our city but seem to have landed just fine, and everyone at my workplace really loves them. I have chatted with them on a few occasions and they seem perfectly friendly and very good at their job, but I can’t not feel an ick factor. So when my boss spends more than half of my introduction talking about the incredible person whose position I’ve assumed, I feel extra weird.

Is this worth addressing? I don’t know if there will be more opportunities for public introduction now, so it may resolve itself, and I know I’m well liked and doing great work. I don’t know if I want to ruffle feathers, but I also am a whole person who was not expecting this kind of welcome.

Being introduced as “the new Bob” is pretty common when you start a new job — it’s an easy shorthand to explain your role. I can see why being referred to as “the new (name of person arrested for public exposure)” would rankle, but it sounds like your coworkers all like Bob and they’re just hearing “this is the person taking over the X work,” where X definitely doesn’t involve being pantsless in public. (I know you know that! But I think it’ll help if you lodge that in your mind.)

It’s also likely to resolve itself pretty soon because you’ll stop needing to be introduced all the time.

4. When you open the mail and it’s a calendar of naked men

This happened over seven years ago, but I’ve always wondered if I did the right thing. I was the operations manager at a small nonprofit, and I was in charge of opening and processing the mail. I was still in my 20s and not well-versed in what a functional office environment was supposed to be like.

We received donations and grant payments, and they would usually come in Fedex envelopes. One afternoon we received a Fedex envelope, so I took it to my office to open. It was addressed to one of the directors, but I just assumed a donor had addressed a grant payment to him so I opened the envelope. Inside was a black and white calendar, where each month depicted a tasteful yet fully naked man wearing vaguely S&M style straps.

The director it was addressed to was an out gay man, so I assumed he had ordered this calendar for himself. Whether he meant to send it to his work address has always been a question for me. The return address was the calendar company. I don’t think someone else sent it to him as a joke or a gift, but that could have been possible.

No one saw me open the envelope, but I panicked a little bit. I didn’t want to put it on his desk opened, because then he would know that I saw the calendar. I didn’t want to leave it in the office in case someone found it, so I took it home. (My husband always thinks it’s hilarious that I took it home.) The next day I went to the FedEx store, got a plain envelope, carefully unstuck the label from the original packaging and stuck it on the new envelope, put the calendar inside the new envelope, and sealed it. I then left the new sealed envelope on the director’s desk. That was that.

Was it incorrect of me to open this piece of mail? It was my job to process the mail and deposit the checks, so isn’t it assumed that I would open all mail unless marked “private”? Should I have left the envelope opened on his desk? Should I have talked to him about it? It was inappropriate to have that kind of material sent to the office. Although looking back, a lot of inappropriate things were said and done at that office that I didn’t know should have been “serious topics of discussion.”

You didn’t do anything wrong; your job was to process the mail, and it’s common for one person to be charged with opening everything that comes to the office, regardless of whose name is on it, unless it’s clearly personal. (And indeed, postal regulations say that mail delivered to an organization, even if addressed to a specific person, is delivered to the organization itself, and the organization can decide how to distribute it from there.)

Sometimes that does mean you’ll end up accidentally opening something you weren’t supposed to see, and part of being in that sort of job is that you just discreetly turn it over to whoever it was meant for, and then all involved maintain the polite fiction that you didn’t see whatever it was.

Who knows if your coworker intentionally had the calendar sent to him at work, or meant to use his home address and mistakenly didn’t, or if someone else sent it to him. All you really needed to do was to leave it wherever you’d normally put his mail. Taking it home and buying a new envelope for it was definitely overkill! But it’s totally understandable that you weren’t sure at the time.

There’s of course a whole thing here about how you shouldn’t have to see photos of naked men at work — you shouldn’t! — and certainly if this kept happening, you’d have standing to tell the person to make different arrangements or to have your boss address it with them. But it sounds like a one-time mistake that never repeated. (I’d advise you differently if it happened against a backdrop of other problems — like if this guy was sexually harassing you and then this calendar just happened to show up, that would feel like a pattern worth addressing. But this doesn’t sound like that.)

P.S. It must be shared that the subject line of your email to me was “packages in a package.”

5. Time zone confusion when scheduling interviews

I work for a small, seasonal organization with no formal HR department (think small summer resort). We hire many people from all over the world each year. When we are conducting interviews via Zoom, who do you think is responsible for ensuring that everyone clearly understands what time the interview is occurring at? Is it enough to specify we are in EST when sending the zoom link and expect the interviewee to ensure they have figured out what time that is?

I am sitting in a Zoom right now waiting for a candidate who said they were available at 11 am. We sent them a invitation clearly stating 11 am our time, but I am starting to suspect they meant 11 am their time (which would actually be 1 pm for me).

I think it is our responsibility to ensure everyone is on the same page (which isn’t that hard to do). My colleagues think the burden should be on the candidate to figure it out and be on time. Many of the candidates we are dealing with are young people who have little experience with interviews, and who are, I imagine, oblivious to the fact that we live in a different time zone.

I think the thing that matters most is that you don’t waste your time waiting for someone who got the time wrong, and so it would be wise to include language in all your interview invitations saying, “Please note this time is Eastern Standard Time.” If you really want to promote understanding, link them to a time zone converter! Turn it into a text shortcut so you don’t have to type the whole thing out every time.

Yes, in theory candidates should pay attention to time zone differences, but especially with the daylight savings time changes right now, it’s just going to be more efficient to spell it out. The exception to this would be if you’re hiring for someone who will need to do a lot of scheduling across time zones and their ability to do it well is relevant.

{ 779 comments… read them below }

  1. Dublin liver*

    I have to confess I feel the opposite to Alison with the “I” referring to a business when an employee who is not a sole practitioner or owner or service provider uses it. I mean, not to the extent that I’d advocate for it being banned, but I much prefer when, for example, the person booking a table for me at a restaurant says “we have a table at two pm” rather than “I have a table at two pm”. Unless they are the owner and it’s a small business, it feels misleading.

    But hey, I don’t really think the employee in Letter one should be spoken to. It’s obviously a personal preference for customers!

    1. Tinkerbell*

      I have much less of an issue with it in this specific context – where it can be interpreted as “I, in my iteration of the company’s software on my screen, have an opening for you.” This bugs me more when it really CAN be confused, like when you’re working with a small business and you don’t know whether “I can get this done Tuesday” means the specific person who answered the phone also does X or whether they’re passing it off to someone else and taking the credit. Mostly because if there’s then a problem, I like to know whether I need to approach it like “you personally messed up” or “there may have been a miscommunication among your team…”

      1. Quake*

        +1 Yes this is exactly my interpretation as well. If it is that employee’s job to book appointment then I think saying “I have [this information] for you” is perfectly fine.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. She’s looking at the schedule. She’s not trying to stage a corporate takeover. It’s not worth addressing.

      2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        That’s a good point! It’s not clear from the letter if the employee is the scheduler (who doesn’t actually see patients) or a provider (among other providers) who does see patients.

        If I heard this from a scheduler, I’d assume that she was saying she owns the calendar (not the business) and has an opening on x date. That’s accurate and common among the various offices I call.

        If I heard this from a provider and she said “I” have an opening, I’d assume I was going to see her. I still wouldn’t assume she is implying she owns the business.

        I also find I don’t care at all who owns the business or what credit they take…just that I get my need met for my product (in this case, an appointment, but in other cases it could be a project or a deliverable).

      3. Sloanicota*

        Yep the only way it matters is if the person saying “**I** have an appointment for you” is causing confusion, such as by precluding the fact that someone else in the office could be staffing the appointment if the speaker is out. I might be briefly confused – is this the first available appointment, or could I get in sooner with another provider? But unless OP has a reason like this that they can explain to the employee about how it’s causing confusion, they should let it go.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Exactly! If it causes confusion, then it should be changed to be clearer (but I’m not sure “we” would be clearer in the case that the provider is scheduling you to meet with another provider).

      4. Smithy*

        From a customer service perspective, I do think that when there’s a genuine worry about clarity – that’s when there’s far more standing to correct someone, as opposed to it being more of a personal style issue. If you’re booking for a medical appointment, a hair cut, or restaurant reservation to hear the person on the phone go “I have availability for you 2pm” doesn’t make me believe they necessarily own the restaurant or are the doctor – but rather are in a position to “own” the booking system and offer me that time.

        But in a system like ordering a specific bouquet of flowers by 5pm on X day – to hear someone say “I can do that for you” vs. “we can do that for you”. This isn’t about who owns the business, but rather the task. Because if it’s a case where the person on the phone hands over the task to a florist and then I pick the bouquet up from a third person – whatever issues along the way I may have, you’re setting the business up to give better customer service as a “we” of the whole business as opposed to “Crystabelle said on the phone that she’d do this.”

      5. It Might Be Me*

        I agree. Too often customers, patients, clients, etc., get fixated on only dealing with one person. The “we” provides a context that there is a team and if the employee is not going to be the one addressing the issue, providing care, etc., they will still receive the service/care needed.

      6. OMG, Bees!*

        I don’t have a problem either way with We vs I in business, but I do in home related matters. A past roommate would talk about “her dishwasher” or “her fridge” (that came with the place we were both renting). That and other ways made it feel often like I was subletting from her instead of an equal roommate. From that perspective, I can see a business owner having a bit more of an issue with We vs I.

    2. A person*

      I don’t mind it either in this context of scheduling appointments.

      I do mind it when it’s being used in a way to make it look like you did something you didn’t do or the flip side of that where someone else says we when they should be naming the human(s) that actually did it.

      That happens in my workplace a lot and it’s very annoying.

    3. Twisty*

      I think the type of business and customer contact is important. I agree with you when it’s something like booking a table, or if the person isn’t the one providing the service (e.g. receptionist booking an appointment for a hairdressing salon, saying “we” makes more sense). But I took from the LW’s language (“patient”) that the employee is taking a booking for a patient she will see herself, in which case I think “I” makes perfect sense – I am available to see you at this time, and it’s clear that you will see me personally, not another colleague. I think particularly in a medical type of industry where trust is imperative, using “I” instead of “we” is a good way to reassure the patient that they will be seeing who they wanted to see. I once called a hair salon where I wanted to make an appointment with the owner, and she had several employees working for her. The owner answered the phone, I booked in, but when I turned up my appointment was with one of the junior staff members. Had she said “Rachel can see you at 3pm” rather than “we have an opening at 3pm” then it would have been clear!

      1. Mangled Metaphor*

        There’s always the middle ground of “I have an available slot with Natalie at 2pm”. Confirming exactly who the appointment is with is probably key.

        In a related vein, I phoned and booked an appointment with Emily. Emily is the registered business owner. She does the work and employs others. Everyone answers the phone. Which has led to a little frustration.
        If I book with Emily, she will say “I have a slot free at…” I expect Emily to be the one providing the service.
        Nearly everyone else says either “we have…” or “Natalie is free at…”.
        Emily does the occasional bait and switch where “I have…” really means my appointment is not with Emily, but with Natalie. Please don’t get me wrong, Natalie is lovely. By every available metric she is excellent at her job and an overall wonderful individual. (Which makes my complaint sound very petty). But she is a chatterer.
        I am not a chatterer. I will answer appointment relevant questions, but generally do not like hairdresser-style small talk: “Been anywhere nice on your holidays?” Natalie talks as if she is afraid of silence. Quite a lot of patrons appear to like this.
        Emily is not a chatterer either. She will make small talk if it appears the patron wants to chat, but it’s not her normal method.
        “I have…” sets an expectation that is sometimes not met (yes, I know last minute swaps are a thing).

        1. Squid*

          My thoughts exactly. Being precise with language also really helps us neurospicy folks, too – tell me who has the opening so there’s no ambiguity.

      2. RW*

        I’m a GP, and honestly it would never occur to me to use “we” language if I’m forward booking someone – I assume that most of my patients want to see me specifically because we have an ongoing relationship, or I’m booking an appointment back with their own GP if I’ve seen them for something urgent so I say she/he has an appt etc etc
        I guess maybe it would be different if one of our receptionists said “I have an appointment…”?

        1. Dublin liver*

          Maybe. But also maybe not, because in this case it’s obvious that the appointment is with the doctor and not the receptionist. I think for me it’s the ambiguity of I/we that can be a little irksome.

        2. ClaireW*

          For my GP’s surgery, it’s pretty common that the receptionist would say “I have a slot at 2pm for the doctor to call you” or whatever – it obviously doesn’t mean they are going to call me or that it’s their availability, even if they didn’t mention the doctor. It’s always been pretty clear to me that if a receptionist (or similar role) anywhere says “I have a free slot at 3pm on Wed” that means that they are looking at the calendar and seeing the slot, not that they are the one taking me appointment.

        3. Dulcinea47*

          I’ve had multiple experiences where Dr X is recommended to me, I call and ask for an appt with Dr X, they say “we could see you at blah blah”, and when I show up the appt is actually with Dr Y or someone else. I feel lied to. It’s really not the use of “we” vs “I” that’s the problem here.

      3. Seashell*

        The vast majority of people I have know with patients don’t actually schedule the appointment themselves, so I would expect the person taking the call is a receptionist. I can’t imagine a patient with all their faculties functioning normally will think the receptionist owns the business just because they used language like “I have an opening”.

        Even if she is the actual service provider, I can’t imagine drawing any conclusions about who owns the business from what she said.

        1. doreen*

          Same here- if it’s a medical office or something similar, I’m not confused if the receptionist says ” I have an opening”. I won’t think it’s the receptionist providing the service. And if it’s a salon that doesn’t have a receptionist , where anybody might answer the phone, I don’t want to hear “We have an opening…” when I call to make an appointment with Julie. I want to hear something with Julie’s name in in so that I know my appointment is with Julie. That something can start ” I have an opening with Julie…” or “We have an opening with Julie…” or ” Julie has a opening…” The only difference is “We have an opening with Julie” sounds a little awkward.

          1. Random Bystander*

            Yeah, with a salon with multiple possible staff providing the service, I would prefer to lead with the noun (person’s name) who has the opening. Just like if I called in, intending to book with Debbie (my usual person) and she’s booked up until she’s on vacation and the next opening is 5 weeks from now “or Katie has an opening Tuesday the 14th” which means that I can choose to hold out for Debbie or see Katie and get my hair done before Thanksgiving family visit.

            On the other hand, when making a medical appointment for myself or a pet, I honestly can’t tell you even *if* a pronoun was used vs “There’s an opening” on whatever date.

          2. Ticotac*

            I feel like we’re looking at this in a vacuum.

            Yes, if I call a place where you may want a specific person (like a hair salon), you want precision, not “we [the hair salon in general] have an opening” or “I [not the person you want to book an appointment with] have an opening.”

            However, when you call for a specific person, you don’t just say “Hi I would like to make a reservation” and wait for the receptionist to list the right name. You say “hi, I would like to make a reservation with X,” at which point the receptionists either says “X is free on Y” or “X is not free.”

            If I tell the receptionist that I want to make a reservation with X and the receptionist tells me that’s possible, it is clear that what follows is a conversation about booking an appointment with X. Once we have established that, it becomes completely irrelevant to me whether the receptionist says “I have an opening on Monday,” “we have an opening on Monday,” or “X has an opening on Monday.”

        2. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

          “I can’t imagine a patient with all their faculties functioning normally will think the receptionist owns the business just because they used language like “I have an opening”.

          Exactly! And on top of that, having spent quite a bit of time scheduling people for things over the phone, there’s a whole subset of the general public which loooves to exert petty power by willfully giving bad-faith readings to normal ways of phrasing things when they’re on the phone with retail or service workers. If someone pretended to be confused because I said “I have an opening”, I would 100% assume they were just being a jackass.

      4. Faceless Government Bureaucrat*

        I work for an elected official. I always refer to “the office” or “the (position) office.” Someone here always says “my office,” which to me sounds like they are presenting themselves as the elected official. Might not bug me if I didn’t already have a personality conflict with the person, but “my office” or “my company” seems different than “I have an opening at…”

    4. Sleeve McQueen*

      We is the house style where I work and we explain this and why as part of the induction of new employees. (We are a team and we all share the glory or the blame)

      1. misspiggy*

        You explain that you give unclear information about appointments? We, for an appointment, means anyone could be seeing the patient. I means you will be seeing me, the person you’re talking to. Patients need to know this information.

        1. Allonge*

          It’s likely that this is clear from context. And if someone only doies the scheduling, then it’s even clearer. Also, the patients can ask.

          1. amoeba*

            Yeah, thinking of my doctor’s office, it’s 100% clear that the person doing the scheduling will absolutely not be the one the appointment is with – the actual doctors don’t answer the phones or work at the reception desk! So “I have an appointment for you at 11” very clearly just means “I see this slot in my software and can book it for you”. Thinking about it, I think using “I” is much more common in my European country. Or just impersonal language like “there’s a slot on Thursday at 11 if that works for you”. Or “XY has an opening at X time”. But rarely “we”. So far, I’ve never been confused.

            1. Allonge*

              And back to OP’s concern – I never thought either we or I indicates ownership of the doctor’s office (or any other business).

              I think it would be ok for an org to prefer we, but that needs to be in the onboarding and even then, does not need to be enforced that strictly.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              Oooh, interesting, I just thought about how I’d say it in German, and concluded I wouldn’t use “we”. I’d use first person singular or no pronouns (” the next available appointment is…” or “how about thursday at 9?”). I think at least in German “we” without antecedent implies “the people in this conversation”, which would be confusing.
              What I mean is this: “my friend and I have plans this weekend, we are going to the movies” = speaker and friend are going. “Hello, we are going to the movies” = you and I are going.

              When booking an appointment, the context usually makes it clear who/what is meant, but the lack of antecedent would still make it sound a bit weird. For some reason, it bothers me less in English.

              1. Myrin*

                I was just thinking that at least doctor’s offices only ever say “(How about) Friday at 10?” without using pronouns at all but in general, I am more likely to expect “we” than “I” (so, the opposite of what you and amoeba are saying) although I’m not bothered by either. Might be a dialect thing, though, or plain regional.

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  I also hear 100% “how about (date and time)?” And you and I are nowhere near the same region or conducting daily business in the same dialect, as I recall :)

                2. Kyrielle*

                  I’ve also heard (calling my usual provider) “He has an opening Friday at 10, or I can get you in as early as this afternoon with another doctor if it’s urgent” when talking to the scheduler at a big practice, too. If it’s something where ‘who’ might matter then…specify it. But ‘we’ doesn’t fix that either. “…or we can get you in as early as…” would also be fine, but the key thing is telling me whether I’m seeing my usual provider or someone else.

                  If it’s a single-doctor office, as my husband goes to, then I assume “I have an opening on Friday at 10” means…with the doctor, because that’s the only real option for the appointment there. In no way does it mean the scheduler is claiming ownership or even planning to be involved in the appointment beyond scheduling it!

              2. amoeba*

                It is interesting! Thinking about it further, it seems normal to me to use “we” when talking about my company/team to other people. But yeah, there’s usually some context given first, so maybe it’s that!

          2. UKDancer*

            Yes. I mean I usually ask who I’m seeing if it’s not clear and it’s important to me to see a particular person or know who it is (sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t).

            I don’t always notice if they say I or we as usually it’s clear from the context but if it’s in doubt I will confirm with the person on the phone that I’m seeing a specific person or who I should ask for on arrival. I find things work a lot better when I’m proactive about these things.

        2. metadata minion*

          Unless it’s a very, very small business, I am vanishingly rarely talking to the actual person I have an appointment with when I schedule appointments. If I’m not told who I have an appointment with, that’s a problem, but in no situation am I going to assume it’s the receptionist.

          1. Allonge*

            Yes, adding the information on who the appointment is with is important and would be relevant feedback from OP if it’s not being done.

            I/we is not something anyone is supposed to be reading much into in these circumstances though.

          2. Ticotac*

            I feel like if you need to have an appointment with a specific person, then you are going to ASK if there’s any openings with that specific person, you don’t just hope that the person on the phone is going to be who you need or that the receptionist will bring up the person you’re looking for eventually.

            If I want a haircut, I call the salon and ask for a haircut. If I want Smith to cut my hair, I call the salon and ask for Smith to cut my hair. I can imagine there’s situations where you don’t want to meet a specific person but it’s still a problem not knowing the person you’re going to meet with, but most of the time I feel like all the information I need and care about as a client/patient/interviewer/etc is “I am meeting a person who provides the service I need.”

      2. Fikly*

        And all of that team shares the profit, too, right? Because if blame comes with the risk of being fired, glory comes with profit.

        Think on that, and then think on why your employees might not want to say we.

        1. connie*

          What? You kind of jumped to something not evident in the comment. I work for a “we” business, and we are indeed for-profit and do share profit. One important thing we also share is a reputation that people are getting the work of a highly skilled and collegial team.

          It’s one thing to push people on a point in evidence, it’s another to swipe them over something that might be your own baggage.

        2. Devo Forevo*

          I’m very curious as to what type of work you’re envisioning here, because this comment is baffling.

      3. Smithy*

        I think this comment perfectly highlights part of this discussion – and that’s the concept of “house style”. Large chains, places that want to put a strong focus on strong customer service, etc. will take that step back and develop a “house style” that’s part of training/onboarding along with the philosophy of why those words are chosen, and others are not used or strongly discouraged.

        And with this usage of I/we I think a bigger part of it goes to there not being a truly right or wrong way in all circumstances. If you have a customer facing business without a house style, you may ultimately decide your business would benefit from one! Or there has become significant confusion in language around booking and therefore a more holistic view of booking is needed to ensure customer clarity – which in part might include I/we choices.

        But if there is no move to a house style, and there is no significant customer/client confusion – this ends up being a fairly heavy hand of one style over another around speech patterns that I can’t imagine helping the supervisor/staff relationship overall.

    5. Awkwardness*

      I, as a customer, would prefer “we”. Otherwise I am always confused if this person in only checking their own schedule or if they offer me the earliest time available at all. It is not always clear how the scheduling is handled.

      But I probably would not talk to my employee.

    6. linger*

      It may help OP1 to hear “I” as a shorter form of “I can see we have a vacancy at X time”. Assuming either (i) Employee is responsible for scheduling clients but is never going to be the specific clinician treating any of these patients; or (ii) Employee will in fact be the specific clinician treating all of these patients, then either pronoun is unambiguous here, and there is no pressing reason to force any change in language.
      Using “I” could introduce ambiguity for patients in a third scenario, where (iii) Employee is one of a pool of potential clinicians who would be treating some but not all of these patients. In just this case, “we” would be objectively preferable. But it is not clear if this is actually the case. (I suspect case (i) is the most likely scenario here.)

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah I’m fascinated that people take it to mean “I own the business” rather than “I have a space to book you into, as the person who takes the bookings”. The context of the sentence alone makes the latter meaning clear. I would never dream of assuming someone owned the business based on someone using “I” in reference to their own actions.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yeah, I think of it as closely related to the expression, “Do you have the time?” To which someone might check their watch and reply, “I have 8:32.” I don’t know if colloquialism is quite the right word, maybe it’s an archaic usage that has only persisted in a few contexts? But I’m definitely familiar with, “I have…” being shorthand for, “My understanding/read of the information in front of me is…”

          Other examples –
          Person 1: Are you going to the brown bag lunch today?”
          Person 2: *checks calendar* “I have it as cancelled, did you not get a cancellation notice?”

          Person 1: “The sales call after lunch is with Christopher, right?”
          Person 2: *checks notes* “Yes – but I have that he prefers Chris, actually.”

      2. Cardboard Marmalade*

        This, exactly. I feel like it’s being overly literal to assume the person is saying “I have” in a possessive sense. It’s just quicker and easier to say than “I see there is…” or “I can get you in at…”
        I’m thinking this also applies with inventory questions in retail/library settings. If you ask somebody working the front desk to look up a book for you and they say, “Oh, great, it looks like I have a copy that just got checked in, let me grab it from the shelving cart for you,” sure, you could get all haughty about how they do not personally own the library, but it would make literally nobody’s day better for you to do so.

        1. Lea*

          I use ‘I see time at xoclock’ often I think when scheduling meetings so that one makes a lot of sense to me

          Silly to think it means anybody owns a business but I see it very much as just personal language conventions that aren’t significantly different

      3. Myrin*

        Yeah, I can be pretty pedantic about stuff like that (although I generally keep that inside my own head) but thinking about it, I’m finding that I really do not care or even notice either way unless it’s a scenario like your “iii”, where I specifically want an appointment with the person I’m talking to, I assume that’s going to be the case because they used “I”, and then it turns out they just always use “I” even if they don’t mean themselves specifically. But even in that case, I’ll usually confirm the practitioner anyway, and at least in a medical setting this is basically impossible to happen because the doctors/specialists never answer the phone and I know it won’t be the receptionist seeing me, so I don’t care whether they use “I” or “we”.

        As for OP’s specific concern that this somehow declares ownership of the business… it honestly feels a little like this is just a pet peeve of OP’s but she can’t really find an objective reason to tell the employee to stop so she’s grasping at straws and this is what came to her.

      4. Maglev to Crazytown*

        I have far too many medical issues and doctors and have for decades. I actually prefer when someone uses “I,” because it is direct confirmation that they are doing their task as part of the office team. I already know I am doing a test or visit with a legit doctor, so when I frequently hear, “I have you down for x-time,” there is nothing ambiguous about that.

        It is positive confirmation from the scheduler that “I have (scheduled and verified that) you [are confirmed] down for x-time.”

    7. The Royal We*

      We always use we as a CYA, perhaps he could approach it from that angle. My boss always says if I say “I” and the person gets pissed they can come back to just blaming me, but in reality it is always “we”.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Yup, this is why I use “we”…even if it is my decision (favorable or not) I say “we” because it’s usually still a decision on behalf of the company that I was within my scope to make.

    8. Mel*

      This is about scheduling a patient exam. Personally, I’d like to hear the name of the person I’m being scheduled to see, ie, “A has an opening…” That way, if this is matter where continuity of care would be my preference, I’d be able to speak up and ask when B has an opening instead, should it be necessary.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        That’s not necessarily being left out though. It’s pretty common for me to hear a receptionist (in my region it’s probably way more common to say I than we) to ask who you want to see, or to specify that they are looking in X’s calendar and to then follow up with “I can book you in with them at 10″. Even if they were trying to avoid saying I for some reason, they would be more likely to use X’s pronouns than “we”.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes same. I would expect to have asked for / been offered a specific individual at an early stage before the diary checking either because that’s who I always see or because they meet my requirements (e.g. my GP has a male and a female nurse and if I’m having a smear I always make it clear I want the female nurse).

        2. Lea*

          Exactly. It’s likely perfectly clear to the patient

          Looking at dr x I have a slot at 2pm on Tuesday.

    9. tg33*

      If I’m booking a medical appointment and someone says “I have an opening at 11”, then I wcpect to see that person, if they say “we have an opening at 11” then I expect to see someone at that time, not necessarily the person I’m talking to. If I know this person is a receptionist then it doesn’t matter.

      I don’t usually assume the person I’m talking to is the owner if they say I.

    10. metadata minion*

      I don’t have a strong preference, but I don’t hear “I have an opening” as indicating ownership at all, and I’m fascinated by the number of people who do. To me that statement reads as “I, the person who is looking at the scheduling software, have found an opening”.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Same, I literally would not even notice if they said I or we. It does not matter to me as a patient or customer at all.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Same, I literally only think about this when these types of questions come up on AAM. I do not care at all what pronoun is used when I schedule appointments, or when my boss talks about the team on which I work , or when I talk about the company for which I work (ugggggh I started thinking about it in those last two and that is SO IRRITATING. I feel sorry for people whose brains do this to them, but I’m still gonna say “my company” because come on).

      3. Sloanicota*

        The ownership idea seemed so far from where my mind would go that I thought it might be a signal for OP to check in with themselves and see – are they concerned about not being seen as the leader, or something? It feels more like a you-issue than a them-issue when phrased that way (although, as discussed all through the thread, there could be *other* reasons to choose I versus We).

      4. Joielle*

        Same. This discussion is fascinating to me as I have literally never thought about this or registered it one way or the other. I would say that in 99% of conversations of this type, it’s pretty easy to figure out from context clues whether you’re talking to a scheduler, the business owner, or the person who will be performing the work.

      5. Starbuck*

        It’s wild to me, I had no idea anyone was thinking of it this much. I’ve never noticed or cared about this phrasing; all of these (I’ve got an opening / we have an opening / there is an opening) seem totally equivalent.

    11. MK*

      This sounds incredibly petty to me, when the distinction is something the client neither knows or care about. It is misleading for the person handling the reservations at a restaurant to use “I” unless they are the owner? Why would it occur to anyone calling to make a reservation to even wonder about that? Who cares?

      The only conceivable situation I can imagine where “misleading” is even an issue is when I know the person speaking, and even then, it’s the other way around; if they say “I”, I take it for granted they will serve me themselves, if they say “we”, it’s not clear. But then I would expect them to actually be clear, as in “it won’t be me serving you/I can’t know for sure who will”.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

        I’m sitting here baffled that this is something people even have a preference or even notice an I vs we. It’s never been something I’ve noticed, let alone cared about.

        Don’t bring it up OP, it seems petty and I be a lot of patients don’t even notice.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          It is really petty. So petty that if it were brought up to me, I would wonder what other micromanaging might appear.

          OP, if you want to drive away this wonderful employee, complaining about them using I versus we would be a great way to do it.

        2. Czhorat*

          I think it’s context-dependent; for scheduling like this it feels less important than other communications, but I default to “we”

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          The only time I’ve ever cared was when my partner and I started dating in college and they literally never used the word “we.” I remember we showed up at a dorm party and they called their friend to come let us in and said “Hey, I’m here.” And I was like wtf, do they even know you are bringing someone or are they going to be surprised to find me here???

          Annnyyyywaayyy. I agree, this seems weird and petty in a professional context and I assure OP that no one will hear her say this and walk away thinking “oh wow, I didn’t realize she *owned* the business!”

          (Oh one other professional use actually, I have definitely noticed I have a tendency to use “we” when I did something wrong. “We left the widgets off the report” instead of “Oops, I forgot them” lol. I feel like it’s fair though because my boss reviews all my stuff and she didn’t catch the error so therefore we both messed up :D)

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            For mistakes, take a page from the politicians and go with the passive voice. “Mistakes were made.” Not important who made them, haha!

          2. Arglebarglor*

            OMG came here to say that! I dated someone who did that all the time and ultimately I broke up with them (for that and other reasons but BOY did that bother me).

          3. Aitch Arr*

            I had a college roommate once that reported me to our RA for using the term ‘my room’ instead of ‘our room’. *sigh*

            1. Aitch Arr*

              As in, I was at dinner in the dining hall and said to a group, “I’m heading back to my room.” She overheard and went ballistic.

      2. Antilles*

        Yeah, I don’t really understand this ‘misleading’ concern at all.

        I find it hard to believe that anybody would hear “I’ve got an opening for your surgery on Friday” and assume that means the receptionist will be personally performing the surgery. Have you never been to a doctor’s office at any point in your entire life that you’re so completely unfamiliar with the concept of a ‘receptionist’? Really?

        Or that people would hear a restaurant greeter using the word ‘I’ and assume that the greeter personally owns the restaurant. You really call up an Olive Garden, hear a 16-year old high school student hostess say “I have a table for you tonight” and assume she owns the entire $8-billion Darden Restaurant Group? Come on.

        1. ABC*

          Agreed. Frankly, the claims about being misleading seem like they have a bit of a “know your station” undertone.

        2. Dublin liver*

          I’ve never been to an Olive Garden, is it nice? Most restaurants and a lot of shops where I live are small businesses and not chains, so yes, it absolutely was misleading the first few times I heard it. And around here if it’s a business you’re going to frequent it’s normal and sociable to know who is the owner, the manager, whatever. Nothing “know your place” about it, though thanks for the good faith reading of my comment!

          1. doreen*

            Plenty of the stores and restaurants where I live are not chains – but almost all of them have employees other than the owner. I wouldn’t assume that the person I was speaking to owned the restaurant just because they said ” I have a table for you at eight” rather than “We have a table for you at eight” or owned the store because they said ” I’m out of stock on the chocolate chips” . And it has nothing to do with knowing who the owner or manager is – in fact , if I know Sal owns the restaurant/store then it’s certainly not misleading when Debbie tells me she has a table available at eight or has no chocolate chips.

            1. Aitch Arr*

              In this example, the “I have a table for you at eight” replaces the longer “I, the hostess and therefore the person responsible for bookings, have a table for you at eight.”

          2. Antilles*

            Regarding Olive Garden, it’s a decent Italian place (not great, but decent), but it’s a mega-chain owned by a multi-national corporation and that $8 billion really is somewhere in the neighborhood of their value. Even on a much smaller local level of say, the individual store’s general manager or even the shift manager on a particular day, they won’t ever be the one answering the phone.

            But I still don’t see how it could be “misleading” because the context is clearly implied and understood.

          3. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

            It doesn’t matter how big the restaurant is, hearing the person in charge of scheduling you say “I” and assuming that means they own the restaurant is 100% ridiculous. In pretty much no circumstances will the person making reservations on the phone be the owner. It just means that the restaurant has an open reservation for that time.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      For health care, I pictured my specialized physical therapy where I really wanted to see THIS PERSON at my next appointment. If I called the booking person she would say “Dana has openings at these times” and if I scheduled with Dana during an appointment she would say “I have openings at these times.”

      At no point was I under the impression that Dana owned the facility, which was a large practice associated with a hospital.

    13. Grogu's Mom*

      Yes, I called my daughter’s pediatrician the other day and the front desk transferred me to “the nurse.” I didn’t know at the time that the nurse was just the one scheduling the appointment, she used “I” language when discussing availability, and it took a few clarifying questions before I realized that the appointment was not with the nurse herself, but with whichever provider would be available when we arrived for the appointment. It would have also helped if either the front desk or the nurse would have clarified proactively who the appointment was with, but the “I” language definitely contributed to my confusion.

      Personally, I made the “I” to “we” switch when I was first being trained in customer service at the start of my career, and I’m not sure when it stopped being a customer service “thing,” but it was relatively easy to make the transition with a couple weeks of practice. Seems worth a small amount of effort if it helps with clarity and efficiency in scheduling. I wouldn’t think it should kill her enthusiasm, but if you’re really worried, then just frame it as “a quirky thing we do here.”

    14. Yorick*

      If this employee is the doctor/person giving the exam, saying “I” is correct. If the employee is the scheduler making appointments for practitioners who are different people, I think it’s ok to say “I” but it might make more sense to say “we.”

    15. JB (not in Houston)*

      Yeah, I don’t mind it in the context of scheduling appointments/booking reservations, but I cannot stand it when, say, I’m at the department store buying shoes, and I ask if they have a particular shoe, and the salesperson says something like “I don’t carry that brand.” But based on the comments here, a lot of people might like that? So I will try not to get irritated by it the next time it happens.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it’s that a) Most people don’t notice the quirk at all, grasping what was meant from the context; b) If you did the correction to the employee in front of us, citing our hapless confusion and obvious inference that this first-person-user must be the owner of the business, we’d be like “Hey wait a minute. There was no problem. I understood the meaning from context. Stop making me the fig leaf for your weird pet peeve.”

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Did the OP say that she wanted to correct her employee in front of a customer? I didn’t see that in the letter. I wouldn’t expect that, either, for the situation I was talking about.

      2. Lady Blerd*

        It’s not that I like it, I just don’t care. Plus, in your example, I find that it’s typically a store manager who would say such a thing, or in a place like Home Depot, whomever works in the section where the product would be located.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          It’s not usually a store manager when it’s happening to me–it’s someone who is definitely not going to be in charge of ordering stock or deciding what the store carries. That’s probably why it irritates me. But it doesn’t irritate me enough that I think a manager should necessarily correct it.

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            Huh, how weird! I also cannot imagine a time in which someone booking an appointment using “I” would be a problem unless it was misleading such as a medical provider booking a different one and not clarifying. OP thinking people will think they run the business only increased my bemusement. (A medical provider is indicating ownership of their service; a receptionist is indicating ownership of booking you in. Neither would indicate ownership *of the business*.)

            If store staff used “I” the way you are describing, that would be odd! Interesting you’ve encountered it multiple times. I wouldn’t *care*, but I would think it is strange, because “I” does imply some ownership of the ordering process.

    16. RagingADHD*

      If they said “I can reserve you a table at 2pm,” would you think that was misleading? They are in fact the person currently speaking with you and the one making the reservation. To say “We can reserve you a table at 2pm” sounds like reservations are made by committee, or like the scheduler has delusions of royalty.

      “I have an opening” and “I can make a reservation” are functionally identical in this context.

    17. Lady Blerd*

      For me, it is about context. Generally when I know I’m speaking to a receptionist or admin assistant, or if I happen to call a central number, if they say “I have an opening on Tuesday”, I assume that they’re looking at the office’s calendar and that’s what they’re seeing. Like others have said, it only gets confusing if it’s the provider themselves saying this without actually meaning their own schedule.

    18. fhqwhgads*

      It’s all about context tho. The person saying “I” is the person looking at available bookings in the calendar that they can select for the person they’re talking to. Possibly people with different levels of security might have access to other openings. (frankly even if that’s not a thing) The “I” is indicative of what the person can do for you themselves in that moment. So by saying “I” she’s not speaking on behalf of the entire business. She’s speaking on behalf of her role in the current interaction.
      Personally I don’t care whether the booking person says “I” or “we” or “the doctor”. They’re all adequate for the context. But the above is why I disagree that “I” is inherently misleading.

    19. Firm Believer*

      In my industry it’s really looked down upon to say I because we work collectively as a team. So I agree with you. That advice doesn’t always fit.

      1. Lady Blerd*

        TBF OP didn’t say this though in their letter, Allison would like have adapted in her reply if that was the case.

    20. AMY*

      I recently ordered some flooring from one of those big box stores, and the employee said, “I don’t have any of those in stock.” I thought it was cute, making them sound invested lol.
      I am a fan of the “I” construct. After all, I am talking to an individual, not a “we”.

      1. AMY*

        *oh and just to clarify – it didn’t dawn on me to wonder if the employee was the OWNER of Home Depot lol

      2. Fellmama*

        I can tell you that as the manager of a retail business, I am DEEPLY invested in my inventory to what’s probably an unhealthy degree. I have been known to chortle with glee if someone asks for a product that I’ve ordered on a hunch.

        I was the same way, with much less control of the process, when I worked in corporate retail. It’s nice to hear that the customer side appreciates our over-investment!

    21. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      I’d say “we” sounds to me maybe 7% more correct than “I” to me, but it’s barely a difference. It certainly doesn’t imply that the employee scheduling me owns the business or anything like that – that seems like a pretty willfully obtuse interpretation of a pretty normal thing to say!

      Really I’d say of the possible choices, my preference is for the more passive/objective option: “There’s an opening at 2:30 if that would work for you?” But all three of these are such a slight difference, but it’s just whims of taste, this definitely isn’t something appropriate to council the employee on!

    22. Sleve*

      All I want is clarity.

      “I” is not confusing if:
      – I’m booking an appointment with you specifically
      – You’re a receptionist and you’re booking an appointment for me to see a person who has been mentioned by name in THIS conversation
      – I’m booking a space, not an appointment (e.g. a restaurant, a theatre ticket)

      “We” is not confusing if:
      – This is my first appointment with your business and I haven’t requested to see a specific person
      – You’re a receptionist and you’re booking an appointment for me to see a person who has been mentioned by name in THIS conversation
      – I’m booking a space, not an appointment (e.g. a restaurant, a theatre ticket)

      “I” is confusing if:
      – You own the business but you are actually booking an appointment for me with someone else

      “We” is confusing if:
      – You are booking an appointment for me to see a different person to the last person I saw and you haven’t mentioned a name
      – You are booking an appointment for me to see the same person I saw last time and you haven’t mentioned a name (even if you know your business only has one cardiologist, I don’t necessarily know that)

      Having a consistent grammar rule within your business is not clarity if it’s the first time I’ve ever interacted with you, or I interact with you infrequently.

    23. Katherine*

      It kind of bugs me, too. I’ll ask an employee if the store has any 3/4 widgets, and they’ll say, “I don’t have a 3/4 widget, but I do have a 5/8 widget.” It just feels odd to me.

  2. ENFP in Texas*

    I hate when people use “Eastern Standard Time” or “EST” when sending an invite, because I can never remember if that’s summer or winter… and I doubt they can, either, since they’ll send “EST” emails in June.

    I send my meetings as “11am Eastern/10am Central” (since I’m on Central and the majority of my coworkers are on Eastern) and let folks figure out the math on their own if their state does/doesn’t observe daylight saving time.

    1. I was PDT up until today*

      I thought I’d be the asshole here and be like well, unless this is a really old letter you probably aren’t actually EST, but I always appreciate the commenters here.

      I would recommend if you are going to be super fussy about time zones you not be the person who says EST year round regardless of whether it’s EDT.

      But also, I work a lot with people internationally and I will always check their time zone when I send a meeting request.

      So I will say 4:00 PM Los Angeles Time, 8 am Chine time or whatever. That seems like the best option to me. Then I have given them the opportunity double check those times and tell me if I am off or wrong. M

      But also not all time is EST. if it’s daylight savings it’s EDT.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The OP knows the difference and had a whole section in her letter about EST vs EDT which I edited out because it was no longer going to be current by the time I printed this (it was about last week when the UK had moved to EST while the US had not yet and I figured it would cause confusion and not change the advice).

          1. Kit*

            Yeah, the nuances around when any given location transitions between their ‘standard’ timezone and Daylight Savings/Summer Time is a morass that people often don’t even track properly for themselves. (Despite knowing that it’s BST/GMT, I could not have told you the transition point… and I only have my clocks correct here in EST because they auto-update!)

          1. I was PDT up until today*

            Yeah, it was a typo, and the actual point was that I find it easiest, in order to avoid confusion, to note the time both where I am and where to person I am meeting with is. We have a team in China I work with a lot, so I used China as an example and they only have one time zone. Thus, China time. The fact that my phone only autocorrected one word into something incomprehensible after I had typed it is actually a miracle.

        1. Transatlantic*

          If you’re wondering why “China time zone” is a thing, by law China has only one time zone (China Standard Time) despite being a large country that normally would span several.

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Having not had any business dealings here prior, or personal ones, I learned something new today.

      2. Artemesia*

        If you don’t want confusion then you have to confirm as 11 am Eastern Standard Time/10 Am Central or whatever. Then if you have a more complicated situation like the last week when Europe leaped forward a week before the US, there is time to correct issues.

        Lots of people screw this up — so indicating BOTH times just makes that less likely. (and when I saw ‘lots of people’ I am remembering the time I screwed it up.

      3. DJ Abbott*

        I used to work in a business that had international dealings, and our contacts in the UK would say. “ summer time” or “winter time”. To me, this seems much more clear and useful.
        I’ve also noticed the confusion with abbreviations like EST. I think most people don’t know what they mean.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            “Eastern Time”: such an elegant solution. Thank you I’ll be using that. (See my previous comment below.)

          2. Miette*

            I got so tired of having the EST/EDT conversation with my pedantic co-workers at my last job that I also adopted “Eastern Time” and even “ET” to communicate times, and people understood without making a fuss. This is key when sending mass communications (as I did as part of my job), and no one had a problem.

            That said, if I am just communicating with colleagues and want to set up a meeting time, I’ll do the math for all and say “11:00 am Eastern/10:00 am Central” so we can all have that touchstone of understanding exactly what’s meant.

            1. Constant converter*

              I live in California but about half of my business colleagues (as well as my parents and significant other, for that matter) live back East. Saying 1pm ET / 10am PT is second nature to me at this point. I don’t ever use EST/EDT because I’m one of those pedants who gets VERY irked when people use it wrong, so I try to avoid altogether. The one good thing about losing the hour of daylight is that at least people get the time right more frequently.

          3. Jenn*

            SAME. Just “ET” or “PT” for Americans. I spell it out for international stuff (and my clients in Japan think this Daylight Saving thing is bonkers)

            1. La Triviata*

              I have been leaning on other staff to get them to use “Eastern Time” – we deal with people across the U.S. – and some international – and sometimes someone will use EDT during EST and people will call asking which it actually is. If we just say Eastern Time, people will figure it out on their own with less confusion.

              1. No Longer Looking*

                Just to be difficult, I use “Central Standard Time” and “Central Savings Time” and abbreviate both to CST.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I mean, here in the states there are people b!tching that they hate daylight savings time and the whole “fall back” thing and we should stick to later sunsets like in the summer. Um, that is daylight savings time, we have moved to standard time as of yesterday morning around 2 a.m. (Sunday)

          I completely understand the confusion when more than a few adults local to me don’t seem to grasp that “Standard” time is the time we fall back to and spring forward to.

          1. Yorick*

            We like the sun setting later instead of at 4pm in winter. We don’t care that’s daylight savings time and this is standard. We want to keep that one anyway.

          2. Billy Preston*

            haha yes the “I hate it getting dark so early” are also the people advocating for standard time. These are opposing viewpoints. I’m all for permanent DST, summer time, or whatever you want to call it. Just give me longer daylight.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              People saying they hate” daylight savings time” are saying they do not like changing times twice a year. They are not necessarily advocating for daylight time or standard time, just that we stop the switch. The practice of changing clocks twice a year is called “daylight savings time.”

              1. nonprofit director*

                Some of us really do hate daylight saving time, with the darker mornings and lighter evenings- both tend to be disruptive for sleep, unless you can stay up late and sleep late and therefore align your wake time to when it’s light outside.

                But I hate changing the clock twice a year even more, and I’d be okay with permanent daylight saving time if that meant no more changes.

            2. Happy*

              That has a lot of negative implications for kids’ ability to learn and for public safety.

              It’s better for society to have the sunlight in the morning than in the evening.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                I don’t think this is universally true — the experience on the far western edge versus the far eastern edge of each time zone is different enough that both solutions suck in different ways for each.

              2. constant_craving*

                If the concern is public safety, then stopping time switching is best. The switch quite literally kills people. Mortality always significantly increases following the change.

                1. I Have RBF*

                  This.

                  Plus, when you disrupt the sleep cycle of kids twice a year, you do far worse for their ability to learn. Also, an increase in accidents does not help kids or adults.

                  Stop the flip-flop

          3. Ophelia*

            Hah, meanwhile up here in the northern third of the nation, we’re all relieved to “jump back” because it’s no longer pitch dark at 7am.

            1. Lenora Rose*

              That depends strongly.

              I have for most of my life HATED going home in the dark at 5 PM and would much rather have more daylight longer in the evening when we’re out and about wanting to do stuff.

              And yet – it’s a plain fact that A: more car accidents happen when it’s dark longer in the morning (people are more likely to be driving tired in the AM o the darkness has more impact, so to speak, at that hour than in the afternoon – some places that tried permanent daylight savings noticed enough of a difference in morning crashes that they resumed the time change) and B: it turns out it’s much easier to get kids up on time in the morning if it’s at least pretending the sun will rise soon outside, so as a parent I’m actually a bit happier this week than last week…

              1. nonprofit director*

                I am old enough to remember when the U.S. tried permanent daylight saving time in the 1970s. People hated it, in particular the dark mornings.

                Much of what you describe with the car accidents and getting kids up on time has to do with daylight and its effect on waking you up. It’s pretty important to have daylight in the morning.

              2. Random Bystander*

                And the light in the evening in summer can be pretty doggone annoying, too. I remember when my children were small and they *kept* popping out of bed and I had to keep putting them back and telling them that “it’s long past your bedtime” and getting responses on the order of “it can’t be–it’s broad daylight outside”. And it *was* freaking broad daylight at 10pm! (being on a more northern latitude and however the east/west of the time zone connected).

                I think the thing is that during summer, you will have longer spans of daylight with or without DST; during winter the daylight span is always shorter (we’re 2 minutes shorter today than yesterday where I live). And in the morning, you have people driving more aggressively because they must get to work and clock in by 7am. 7:01 is unacceptable and let those 7:01 and 7:02 rack up, you get into disciplinary action (yes, seriously … I miss the days of allowing some grace time … yes, you will have that slacker who always clocks at 7:05 because that still registered as 7 where 7:06 was late and clocks out at :25 because that registers as :30, though I suspect that you’re losing more of your life by paying attention to those petty minutes … I know I am when I have to fire my computer up by 6:55 to make sure that it’s gone through its start up paces and watch the clock because 6:59 is as unacceptable as 7:01 and I’m not even in a time-sensitive job, really.) But on the other side of the coin, there is no material consequence to getting home at 5:06 vs 5:02 vs 4:57.

            2. 1-800-BrownCow*

              Don’t speak for everyone in the north, I hate jumping back and having it dark when I leave work in the evening, and I know several others in the north that feel the same way.

              While I know for health reasons, it’s better for it to be lighter in the morning, the dark winter months are my least favorite, especially having it so dark in the evenings. Maybe if I actually saw natural light during the work day, I wouldn’t mind as much. But I work in manufacturing and almost every manufacturing plant I’ve been in, there are very few or sometimes no windows in the manufacturing areas. So exposure to natural light is very limited.

          4. Willow Pillow*

            I get ~8 hours of daylight most of the winter… I still find the time change to be more disruptive. I don’t care what “standard” we keep – I’m still going to be waking up and going home in the dark at some point.

          5. MCMonkeyBean*

            Everyone tell your house reps to pass the sunshine protection act!! It would make daylight savings permanent and keep the later sunsets :)

          6. No Longer Looking*

            Even if you were correct, you are 100% mistaken. “Standard” means “used or accepted as normal or average.” The time clock that we use from March to November (8 months) is more normal and average than the time clock we use from November to March (4 months), and “standard” is therefore BY DEFINITION the clock used for 8 months across the summer. If someone has mislabeled them I recommend looking into how to get them to correct it.

            That said, your final phrase contains an error, as you identified both clocks as Standard by accidentally replacing a From with a To. :)

          7. Olivia*

            Fun additional fact about this, apparently about 72% of the United States supports not changing the clocks. But within that number, it’s almost 50/50 on whether to always be standard time (winter time) or always be daylight time (summer time). But the split isn’t along party lines, it’s more along the lines of how far north you live and how far east in your own time zone you are (i.e. what time the sun rises and sets for you).

            Not wanting to get up/commute in the dark in winter vs wanting more afternoon sunshine vs having trouble getting your kids to bed when it’s still light out at the kids’ bedtime in summer vs the sleep deprivation of starting your day an hour “earlier” every day if you’re in the easternmost part of your time zone.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Time change is one of those things you’d think they’d explain in grade school but our school completely ignored it. We didn’t even get told which is “normal”.

        When I’ve tried (repeatedly) to teach myself the science I have been frustrated. I don’t get it, and I want it to go away.

        The engineers I work with lost significant amounts of time on the matter recently so I know I’m not the only one.

        Just can the time change and let us set summer/winter hours for the schools & businesses where it matters.

        1. Beany*

          One of my fringe suggestions for years has been that we dump time zones altogether, and just use Universal time everywhere on the planet.

          We set the local start/stop times for schools & businesses on when dawn/dusk happen in your own area. Since sunrise & sunset shift continuously throughout the year, a five-minute nudge in start times every couple of weeks is gentler than actually resetting the clocks by an hour twice a year.

          1. Joron Twiner*

            We have Greenwich Mean Time but it doesn’t make sense for people around the world to use a Eurocentric clock for their daily, domestic activities.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I don’t think there’s *any* science that explains why we change our clocks twice a year. It causes disruption to circadian rhythms and car accidents, and there’s no real reason for it.

          Whether we should stay on Standard time year round (more light in the mornings) or Daylight time year round (more light in the evenings) is a significant debate, but the consensus is that changing the clocks is dumb and complicates life unnecessarily. (And as you pointed out, we could also just have different business hours if there was a compelling reason for it.)

      5. Aggretsuko*

        I do online activities with people in Chicago and Maryland. If I set up the Zoom I always make a note: my time Pacific, adding in the 2 hours later for Chicago and 3 hours later for Maryland, right at the top. SPELL THINGS OUT.

        1. Tally miss*

          Agreed. And for those who refuse, I decline to provide times except for Mountain time because East Coast is not the standard and assuming everyone should adjust to the one true time zone is a jerk move.

        2. I Have RBF*

          Yep. I will specify my time zone, Pacific, and then put the Mountain, Central and Eastern times in parentheses.

      6. Miss Muffet*

        People I work with (across time zones) often use EST when it is actually EDT and it drives my pedantic self completely crazy. Just use ET or CT or whatever, and you’re never wrong. Part of me wants to just join an hour earlier and be like, you said it was standard time so I converted!

    2. I was PDT up until today*

      I didn’t actually mean to reply to your comment! I just meant to reply to the whole thing. But it still remains valid and I support everything you said

    3. Drag0nfly*

      Can you clarify the significance of summer or winter? EST is EST, summer or winter. As far as I know, Daylight Savings Time will occur in EVERY state except Arizona or Hawaii, so where is the confusion occurring? I grew up in EST, and lived in CST for college, and I never ran into this confusion at all. Even network TV shows would reinforce this knowledge, telling you that such and such will air at 10pm EST / 9pm central.

      The fun thing is flying from the Eastern to the Central time zone, because you leave at 8 and arrive at 8, so you lose no time at all. Until now I thought writing EST eliminated confusion, not caused it.

      1. D*

        EST is “standard” time and EDT is “daylight” time. There’s a difference of a whole hour, depending on whether daylight savings is in effect or not.

      2. wordswords*

        It depends on how pedantic the person you’re corresponding with is! Technically, EST (Eastern Standard Time) is what people in the Eastern timezone are in in fall and winter (so, we just went back to EST). EDT is Eastern Daylight Time, and is what we’re in in spring and summer, when daylight savings is in effect.

        That said, most people just use “EST” as a catch-all, and either don’t know what EDT even means or don’t care to track which is which. So most of the time, it’s not a big deal, unless you’re talking about coordination between Colorado and Arizona or something. But I do tend to use just ET (Eastern Time) or “Eastern” myself, since that covers both. Or you could go with something like “[location] time” if applicable. (“This is at 11 New York time, so 10 Chicago time” or whatever, if those are relevant cities for the individuals or offices involved.)

        In any case, the timezone converter idea is a good one to make it easy for all!

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          If someone sent me a scheduling link for a meeting in, say, August, and specified “EST,” I would assume they meant EDT and would get a hearty eye roll from me.

          1. JM60*

            I once asked a recruiter (via email) if they really meant EDT when they said EST. They ghosted me before I got an initial interview, so I don’t think they liked that very much.

            1. pally*

              Same here. Recruiters really don’t like to be asked to clarify these things.

              One time I asked about clarifying PDT vs PST for the interview time as the recruiter kept indicating the interview was PST (it was mid-summer). That did not go over well.

              Another time I had the correct time only to find a voice mail message expressing regret that I’d missed the appointment. I left a message indicating that I had not. Scheduled interview wasn’t for another hour. Ended up with a big apology as the recruiter was traveling and hadn’t accounted for the time zone difference.

              1. Antilles*

                It didn’t go over well because on the other end, it comes across like you pointing out the mistake solely to be pedantic. Both of you understood what it meant, there’s no actual confusion, so why bother to make a deal of it?

                1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

                  While I can see why it comes across as pedantic, I’ve asked before *because* I wasn’t sure (interview nerves): I couldn’t schedule a two hour block just in case, so I wanted to check.

                  For the record, it didn’t help, since they just repeated that it was EST, per comments above indicating that many people use that as a catch-all.

                2. Antilles*

                  @Analytical:
                  I can definitely see why you or pally as interviewees, already nervous and trying to be extra-careful, would want to double-check. But unfortunately, from the other side, it still reads as “seriously? did you really need to point that out?”.

              2. B*

                It seems safe to assume they did not mean standard time if the interview is scheduled on a day when no one is observing standard time, right?

                1. Pescadero*

                  There is no such time.

                  Arizona (MST) and Hawaii (HST) always observe standard time.

                  Quintana Roo (EST) state in Mexico always observes standard time.

                2. B*

                  Ok, noted that I overstated the case, but ability to infer from context clues is a pretty important skill in the workplace. Assuming you are interviewing with, say, a New York based company and not one based in Tulum, this is simply not the kind of thing that needs clarification in ordinary U.S. usage.

              3. Starbuck*

                Honestly as someone who’s scheduled many online interviews/appointments at various times of year, I’ve always written “PST” to mean “whatever time it is on the West Coast.” Mostly it’s because I can never remember which one is PST or PDT. Luckily no one has ever been confused about that, probably because we don’t have any opt-out states (like Arizona) in the zone. If someone asked and I was really busy, it’s possible I might not respond and assume they’d be savvy enough to google the obvious answer…

            2. Yorick*

              Unless the person is in a place that doesn’t observe daylight savings, there is 0 chance they want to coordinate the meeting time using standard time when daylight savings is in effect.

              1. JM60*

                I figured they meant daylight time, as I don’t think any part of the Eastern US didn’t use daylight time then. Still, since this easily avoidable mistake is a pet peeve of mine, and since I didn’t care that much for this position, I decided to use it as an opportunity to correct a recruiter.

                1. SnackAttack*

                  And it’s a pet peeve of mine when people get pedantic and condescending when they know exactly what the other person means.

                2. JM60*

                  SnackAttack*

                  It was a bit pedantic, but not condescending. Nothing about my clarification/correction was about feeling better than them.

        2. Sheep Thrills*

          Just make sure you get it right if you do mention their time zone, or offer an opportunity to correct.

          The number of times that Beltway crowd condescendingly lowered themselves to come to my state and told everyone attending the conference we hosted we were on Central time without asking…sigh. We were not. We hosted that conference every year.

          Every single year, it resulted in more work to unsort the confusion. It also created a perception that I was in an administrative role, rather than hosting my peers and in my own right a Senior Quality Control National Expert in charge of 80+ people.

          Anyway, more information is better and allows for any confusion corrections, especially the earlier you have that info.

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            There’s an entire episode of The West Wing where this is a major part of the story – 20 Hours in America. Josh, Toby, and Donna get stuck in Indiana because someone (probably Josh) forgets that there’s a handful of counties that are in Central while the rest of the state is Eastern.

            1. Avery*

              Something similar came up in one of my old jobs regularly too.
              The job was based in Florida, with the office based in Orlando but a few employees working remotely, including myself.
              My boss lived on the panhandle, in one of the few parts of Florida that uses Central time.
              And I was working remotely from Illinois, which is also Central time.
              Most of the people we worked with were on Eastern time.
              We had to ask “is that 10 AM time slot 10 AM Eastern time, then?” a LOT.

        3. Person from the Resume*

          Actually in my org, most people use ET, for Eastern Time because that’s what we need to know. Or CT, MT, or PT for central, mountain, pacific time.

          No need to get specific about EST or EDT.

          We’re a US only org so we’re only dealing with the time zones of the American states and honestly 99% of the time, only the 4 CONUS time zones.

        4. Save Standard*

          Also worth remembering that the specific date of the time change varies by country and some countries don’t do it at all, so if the scheduling is international saying “EST” when you mean “EDT” might actually cause an error– “oh, they’ve done the fall time change, and we haven’t, so actually the local time for me would be…”

        5. Spicy Tuna*

          It’s weird that today is the first time I’ve ever seen or heard “EDT” or any “DT” at all, considering that we’re in that zone for the majority of the year. I’ve only ever heard EST or ET.

      3. Adam*

        Technically, EST is non-Daylight Saving time, all year round. When DST starts, EST doesn’t become one hour later, instead the time everyone uses changes to EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). EST isn’t just a synonym for Eastern Time.

        That said, everyone actually understands that if you say “10am EST” in July you mean “10am according to the clocks on the East Coast”, so it’s not actually a point of confusion in reality.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          That’s pretty much where I land. If Chicago and Philly are both observing Daylight savings time, there is no confusion in saying EST or CST. They’re still in sync. I did not realize that EDT was *not* another way of saying Eastern Standard Time, although in retrospect that makes sense. Useful to know, but when I set appointments I’m only concerned by what the clock says, and assume everyone I’m talking to is only concerned about what their clock says.

          For international calls I always specify the time for the relevant city; I’ll have to keep this formulation in mind for domestic situations. Call me at 10am Philly time / 9am Chicago time. Done!

        2. Birch*

          This. Most people don’t actually know the abbreviations that correspond to different time zones other than their own and surrounding areas, and it’s really pedantic to specify daylight time versus standard time for a particular area because that’s just not going to help people figure it out and they both refer to the same location. Everyone can just Google “what time is it in X place on Y date.”

          1. Lea*

            Literally today years old when I realized there was a pedantic est/edt deal no one has ever been confused or mentioned it if I used est/cst…

            1. Billy Preston*

              I notice it every time someone uses it and it does confuse me! But I never say anything about it, I just assume they mean EST to mean eastern. I just say eastern/central/etc so I don’t run into that confusion on my side. But seeing EST while it’s EDT makes me a bit anxious, like maybe I will misunderstand and say I’m available when I’m not. But I’m ND so this may just be a literal thinking thing, not pedantry.

              1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

                This is me. I rarely say anything, but I do have to go through a mental loop where I notice the S, check my assumptions, and make a decision about their intent. I also spent two long stretches of my life living in a place that didn’t observe Daylight time, so I’m primed to ensure I’m not missing a nuance.

                The one time I’ll argue the S does materially get in the way is if you’re scheduling calls right around the time change. If you just stick to ET/CT it’ll be okay, especially if you send a proper calendar invitation, but I had an admin who kept sending out interview requests explicitly saying standard time just as we were rolling into daylight time. She didn’t honestly know that standard time was seasonal. She thought that was just part of the name of the time zone.

              2. a trans person*

                Very same and it is just another way that I feel like I’m constantly being asked to mindread for NT people because they never learned how to communicate past unshared assumptions

        3. bamcheeks*

          I’ve got to say, if you’re talking to people outside the US, everyone does NOT understand that! I’m in the UK and I wouldn’t have a clue, so I’d be completely dependent on whatever time Google told me 11am EST was in GMT or GMT+1.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, I’d have no idea. In the winter here we’re on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and in the summer it’s BST (British Summer Time). Clocks always go forward in the early hours of the last Sunday in March, and back in the early hours of the last Sunday in October. I’d need to Google what EST meant.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              As an aside, when I was little I read that GMT as a sentence: “Greenwich means time.” And it’s where time began.

              I was either very imaginative or very literal… not sure which.

            2. Elitist Semicolon*

              Ah! That explains why I’ve seen the time in the weekly Zoom meeting I have with a UK collaborator show up as GMT and BST. Thank you!

          2. Grumpy about timezones*

            Yes! I hate “Eastern Time” etc. Ok is that US? Australian? There is more than one Eastern part of a country; put a city/country in, or link to a time zone converter with your zone pre-selected, or use UTC with offset.

            1. WellRed*

              Unless you work for an international company I think this is overkill times 100. I work I’m the US. We use ET, it confuses exactly no one.

              1. bamcheeks*

                But LW explicitly says, “We hire many people from all over the world each year. …. Many of the candidates we are dealing with are young people who have little experience with interviews, and who are, I imagine, oblivious to the fact that we live in a different time zone”

                Honestly, I think this is one topic where all the US-ians piling in is probably going to make things MORE confusing, not less! This is explicitly about how to communicate times effectively to people all over the world who are inexperienced in dealing with different timezones and business meetings: “everyone [in the US who is used to dealing with multiple time zones] knows that … ” is the opposite of helpful!

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  This North American human does see an increasing use of key cities/states to define time zone: New York, Chicago, Phoenix, California. The real fun starts when we added regions like Bangalore whose time zone is 30 minutes off the basic hourly division of GMT. The old broadcast news “top of the hour” is totally useless for us.

                2. Michelle Smith*

                  Presumably anyone applying to this company knows they are based in, say New York. There shouldn’t be confusion about whether this is Australian time or whatever if the location of the company is clear.

                  I do agree with that OP though that it’s on their company to make sure they communicate clearly. The easiest way to do that in my opinion is by not just emailing a Zoom link, but pasting the information into a calendar invitation and sending that. Both Outlook and Google calendars automatically place the calendar invitation in the time zone that applies to the recipient, so that should immediately flag for them if they misunderstood the time zone and need to reschedule, plus it will send them a reminder right before, again helping them to not miss the appointment.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  I was assuming that it was something like Camp America, where they’d be hiring for seasonal work on sites all over the US, and there’s no particular reason for the person applying to know that the headquarters is in Ohio, never mind that the HR person interviewing them is actually in Nebraska. If they’re doing lots of interviews internationally for seasonal, it seems far more likely that it’s that kind of organisation that that they’re all applying for jobs in the same city, I’d have thought?

          3. Myrin*

            I think Adam means that it doesn’t matter whether you’re Very Careful and Correct in regards to using the “daylight savings (or not)” terminology because as long as you know the actual date your meeting will be at, you can just look up what time it will be on that day for you compared to the clocks on the east coast because Google will automatically take daylight savings (or not) into account.

            1. bamcheeks*

              But that assumes that I know either that LW is on the eastern coast of the US, or that EST means the time on the eastern coast, and I google it that way. If I just google “10EST time in leeds”, Google doesn’t know that I actually mean “the time in Maine on 1st November”. I’m not used to dealing with timezones (as LW’s contacts probably aren’t) and none of that would be obvious to me.

              1. Myrin*

                Neither am I but I have to admit I’m completely confused about what you mean.
                If you know the person you’re talking to will be in Maine on the 1st November, you would google “[x o’clock] Maine 1st November [my time]” or somesuch; that was exactly my point.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  I wouldn’t know to include the date, so if I checked before daylight savings time changed in either country I could end up wrong.

                2. bamcheeks*

                  Also I wouldn’t necessarily know they were in Maine/ on the east coast– like, I know from this conversation that the E means “Eastern”, but if I just saw something saying ET or EST out of context, that wouldn’t necessarily tell me the geography. Having read this conversation, I would probably try and figure out which city the sender was in and check the city specifically, but that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me before!

            2. CV*

              And of course the East coast in Canada is not on Eastern time. Eastern time is Ontario and some of Quebec. The Maritimes is Atlantic time. (Except for Newfoundland, of course, which is 1/2 hour earlier than Atlantic time)

              1. curly sue*

                1/2 hour later, actually! “8 pm, 8:30 in Newfoundland…” was the standard time announcement style on CBC for ages and ages. They’re the furthest east that Canada goes.

                (Hello from Atlantic time, which most people already forget exists!)

                1. Fran*

                  Always fun when I lived out in Nova Scotia remembering the time difference. And then visiting Newfoundland- extra 30 minutes difference! (From Ontario). Newfoundland time zone is just fun to wrap your head around.

                  I work with students across Canada and some around the world- I usually just say EST. I’ve said EDT but in my presentations I clarify that I work in Toronto and the time zone I am using is this time zone- so our presentations and deadlines are to this time zone.

          4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            I work with UK colleagues and I’m in the US. I just do things like ‘meeting start time 0800 US time 1300 UK time’. Easier for everyone to understand!

            1. Rebecca*

              Yes! I was hoping someone else might suggest this too. I work with people in other countries on various projects; I don’t rely on them adding appointments to their calendars, even if I send a calendar invite, because I know not all of them will, so as to avoid any ambiguity I just write both times (and days! – please remember that some of us are on the other side of the international date line!) – e.g. 8am Tues NZ time / 8pm Monday UK time.

              Do I slightly resent having to look up the times for other adults and put it in the invite? Yes. Do I much, much, prefer not having people miss meetings or be late? Absolutely.

        4. Stipes*

          It can matter in the Mountain time zone, where Arizona stays on MST while other states move to MDT. MST is equivalent to PDT, so maybe it’s easier for Arizonans to say “we’re on Pacific time during the summer”, but… blah, things are messy.

          1. Alice*

            Also, not all of Arizona abstains from daylight savings. On the Navajo reservation (and I presume on some other reservations), they do

          2. nws2002*

            When I worked for a company with a large presence in Arizona and operations in New Mexico and Utah as well HQ in Texas we would say 0800 Arizona/0900 Mountain/1000 Central or something similar and during the winter would specify 0900 Arizona/0900 Mountain/1000 Central.

        5. rolyex*

          ‘That said, everyone actually understands that if you say “10am EST” in July you mean “10am according to the clocks on the East Coast”, so it’s not actually a point of confusion in reality.’

          This is true if both parties are in the US. But if tone is not, watch out.

          I had an invite a couple years ago from someone in another country (the UK I think) and I had to clarify with them. The meeting was literally in Standard Time in July or August, so a different time than I would have assumed.

        6. gyrfalcon*

          But if you’re trying to communicate clearly about timezones, it’s important to be precise. I sometimes see things listed as GMT even when Great Britain is on daylight savings time, and as far as I can tell, those actually mean unshifted GMT, not daylight savings time.

          So when scheduling things, to avoid confusion, I would avoid saying EST when we’re in daylight savings time.

          1. rollyex*

            I used to say EST if the meeting was in EST, even if we were in EDT while doing the communications. But it’s so much simpler to leave us that S and D, and avoids mistakes in forgetting that.

            1. peanut butter*

              I’m confused when your meeting is. if you say the meeting is at 11EST, and it’s July, when is your meeting?

              1. rollyex*

                What I mean is I used to say EST when the meeting was in a time when we used EST, even if the scheduling was happening in EDT. So if I was communicating in July about a meeting in late December, I’d say “OK, we’ll talk on December 18 at 11EST.”

                But now I throw it all out and just say ET.

            2. JM60*

              I’d think that if you’re not going to change between EST and EDT, it would just be simpler (and more accurate) to just drop the S/D, and just say “ET”.

        7. BigGlasses*

          I don’t think I agree that it’s not actually a point of confusion in reality. I scheduled an interview once with a company on the East Coast of the US while I was living in the UK. I received an interview time that the interviewer said was “11am EST”. Problem is, she was in EST *while writing the email* but the office would have been following EDT *on the day the interview was supposed to take place*, and the UK wouldn’t have switched time to match. So I very much DID feel that I had to write back and ask whether she was giving me the time in ‘EST’ or in ‘Eastern Time’ (I think I wrote back and said something like “Is that 11am your time in [location] on that date?”)

          It’s pretty lucky I even noticed the clock change, since like bamcheeks says I initially just googled “what time is 11am EST on [date] in UK” and would have been off by an hour.

      4. SPB*

        EST is Eastern Standard Time, during daylight savings it’s EDT (Eastern Daylight savings Time). And at least 20 years ago, when a friend in Indiana ranted about everyone using EST instead of EDT and causing her confusion, Indiana didn’t do daylight savings either.

      5. Wings*

        In Europe, we moved to normal/winter time a whole one week earlier than you did. That is a source of added confusion twice every year. I personally had to be extra careful when putting the time zones in my Google Calendar for my intercontinental flight (put it in my calendar last week to share with my partner, am going to fly next week).

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I was actually confused for a moment by this site. I went to check it at 4pm last Monday for the post that usually goes up at that time and it already had like 70 comments or something like that and I was like, “woah, what is this going to be about that it’s got 70 comments within 2 minutes of being posted?!” before I realised that the clocks probably hadn’t gone back in the US yet and the post had been up an hour. (Monday was a public holiday here so I was online and went to check pretty immediately.)

          1. bamcheeks*

            … I’ve just realised I did exactly the same thing and was surprised there was a new post at 3pm!

        2. rolyex*

          I once organized a week-long online event catering to a global audience that crossed a time change in either Europe or the US (I don’t remember). In the fall of peak covid in 2020. Oh joy.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Entire software systems had to be redesigned when US Congress made that change. And then had to go through regulatory approvals.

          That change in standard was expensive!

      6. David*

        I don’t know if this has changed recently, but the way I remember it, networks would most often say things like “10pm Eastern, 9 Central”, carefully avoiding any mention of “standard” or “daylight”.

        Anyway, this is one of my biggest pet peeves, when people say “standard” or use the “S” in the time zone name when describing an event that will be happening while daylight savings time is in effect. It always makes me stop for a minute and try to figure out whether they meant daylight savings time or they forgot about the time change or they scheduled the event before the change without accounting for the one-hour shift for anything happening after… so especially for things happening in the few weeks around the time change itself, if a person says “standard” when I suspect they meant “daylight” I often wind up blocking off an extra hour before or after the event just to be safe. (The number of times this has paid off is small but more than zero.) But even for things happening in mid-summer, when it’s very likely they meant daylight time, I still have to take a moment to quiet the little irrational voice in my head that rages at them, “but whyyyy would you deliberately write something you don’t mean?” :-p

        Honestly, I understand that I’d be fighting a losing battle trying to get people to do this correctly, so I just roll with it most of the time. But if there are any people who think like I do in your life, then yes, you would be saving them quite a bit of confusion if you avoid using “standard”/”S” when daylight savings time is in effect.

      7. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Funny enough I always remember the TV showing “ET” and “CT” for programming announcements.

    4. RC*

      Am I the only weirdo who will say like “1pm ET/10am PT” and leave the standard/daylight out of it completely? For that exact reason; and I presume that people can do the relative ET/PT math easier than remembering “oh, right, the clocks switched this weekend”

      I presumed that most? all? calendar invites would take care of the time zones on their own? Not sure if the clock shift messes that up though— I did once miss a zoom based out of Europe by an hour because I’d put it on my calendar in PT and missed that only the European clocks had shifted that week… and I was on travel in Hawaii that week which doesn’t shift clocks at all, oy.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Fortunately it looks like Timeanddate’s timezone converter understands ET/PT or I, in the UK with no idea about US timezones or when their daylight saving is, would be utterly baffled.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I usually do the same, especially because I work with a lot of people who will put “EST” in midsummer when they clearly mean EDT. I can’t bear to bring myself to do the same, but don’t want to come across as overly pedantic, so I’ll just say “ET”.

      3. All Het Up About It*

        Nope! That’s what ENFP in Texas who’s Summer/Winter comment kinda started this whole sub-comment chain was actually saying. Just take out the standard vs. daylight savings and say the general time zones and then people can adjust as needed without having to struggle to remember the difference between EST/EDT.

        Definitely simplifies things, especially as there are random towns/counties etc. who don’t observe Daylight Savings in states that do AND I learned this year that the Navajo Nation does observe it, so even in Arizona you might have two time zones depending on where you are exactly.

      4. B*

        I do this (ET/PT, no S or D), and you are also correct to note that modern calendar software 100% solves this issue. Just send an Outlook invitation at the time you want the thing to happen where you are! It will do the work!

        1. No Longer Looking*

          I’ve actually been misled by the calendar on occasion, usually due to accepting or scheduling something while travelling (I live close to the CT/ET border), and having the calendar make the wrong decision about which time I meant.

      5. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        As an adult who’s always lived in the Pacific time zone, I don’t think you’re the only weirdo who leaves out the central letter in eastern time, because I have literally never until this moment heard that there is such a thing as “EDT”. I’ve only ever heard it as eastern time, like when TV shows say they start at “xpm Eastern xpm Pacific.”

      6. SnackAttack*

        That’s what I do. 99% of the people I work with live on either the East or the West Coast of the US, so I just use ET and PT and let them do the conversion to their own time zone (or say 9 am PT/12 pm ET). If I’m talking with someone in another country, I’ll say something like 9 am California/5 pm SGT (or whatever the time zone is called).

    5. Jane*

      #OP5 (and everyone else). PLEASE also include the time in UTC/GMT when you’re scheduling international meetings. I know there are date/time converter sites, but when people use abbreviations like “ET” it can be difficult for international people to be confident about what time zone you are referring to. Also if you’re organising a webinar you could include your local US time zone, but also include UTC in the advert – most people outside the US will know their time zone in relation to UTC rather than a random US zone.

      And don’t get me started on software that lists time zones with cities instead of UTC +/- times. Fitbit does this, and when you’re on holiday you don’t always know the big cities in the time zone you are visiting.

      1. Stipes*

        When you’re several or more hours away from UTC, relating everything as “UTC – X” doesn’t feel so easy and intuitive. At least, in my experience, especially since UTC is on a different date than I am for half my waking day.

        1. Stipes*

          I mean, if I’m setting something up internationally I’ll google UTC and paste the result in my email, but 99% of anything I do is in the continental US, where we know our four time zones almost without thinking.

          1. Tau*

            OP is not in the situation where 99% of their meetings are continental US only:

            We hire many people from all over the world each year.

            I have to admit, given this context I’m not loving the fact that so many commenters are suggesting US-specific terms outside the time zone standard like “Eastern” or even specifying the wrong time zone (EST vs EDT) because it works for them US-internally.

        2. r.*

          Being able to intuitively understand timezones expressed as “UTC +/- X” is a learnable ability, and frankly if you are involved in/with a business that has operations all over the globe it would be a good idea to learn it.

          Is it a good solution? Oh no, absolutely not. It sucks. But the thing is, unless you are only present in 1-3 timezones, every other solution sucks even more.

          At that point just standardizing on a given reference frame is the best you can do; *every* reference frame you could pick will be worse for some than for others, but with UTC you at least have predictability and stability of reference. That’s also the reason why 95+% hardware/software that is designed in sane fashion will run internally on UTC (or GPS or TAI, which only differ by a few seconds from UTC) time.

          We sometimes joke that it’s a great pity the Flat Earther’s aren’t correct, because some Flat Earth models don’t need timezones. :-)

          1. I Have RBF*

            As a computer professional, I encourage people to run their server clocks, for logging and all, in UTC. That way, logs for servers in Melbourne Australia, Los Angeles California US, and New York New York US all record using the same time notation, and you can compare things much easier because you don’t have to do clock math on your log entries. (Yes, there are events that can happen across time zones that are significant, especially intrusions.)

            1. rollyex*

              It’s one thing to learn it (and certainly it should be used for internal technical systems like server clocks). Even, perhaps, encourage internal use if you organization has staff in many time zones.

              It’s quite another to use it with external stakeholders to arrange meetings. That’s a step way too far.

          2. No Longer Looking*

            I mean, I used to know that I was UTC-5, then discovered that sometimes I was UTC-6 instead, and just gave up on that as being even remotely helpful…

        3. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

          Considering that half of the West Coast got woken up at 3 AM a few weeks ago with an earthquake drill that was supposed to be at 10 AM because someone working at the app didn’t know what UTC was, I agree that UTC is not a super well known thing across the board.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        Yes, as someone pointed out above, if you use EST regardless of the time of year, your international audience are going to use that time difference, not daylight savings, which could easily be a couple of hours out if, like the UK, your daylight savings kicks in on a different date to the US’s.

      3. Dahlia*

        I used to do a thing where I needed people to show up online at a specific time and we had so. much. confusion. that eventually we just sent everyone a link to the exact time the event would happen using timeanddate.com’s event announcer.

        It was, frankly, borderline condescending but it was the only solution.

      4. LazyBoot*

        Probably the main reason software use cities is that it’s an easy way to know if and when DST should be in effect.

      5. T*

        If I’m scheduling a one on one appointment with someone and I know where they are, I only include my time and their time. I do volunteer work where I have a lot of meetings with people in other places who don’t usually need to deal with time zone differences, so I don’t expect them to use a converter or automatically know what their difference is with GMT or even with Eastern Time within North America. Providing their local time and making it clear avoids a lot of headaches. Since this person is interviewing for jobs that are physically located in one place and don’t seem likely to need the skill of time zone conversion, why punish people for not knowing?

    6. mreasy*

      I always just say “ET” or “PT” and try to get my colleagues to do so as well, given everyone’s wrong all the time about the S or D! That said… I have so many British colleagues, and the 2 weeks we’re off clock change cycle has been wreaking havoc with our meetings.

    7. Lea*

      I always try to include 10/9central when I send notices since a lot of meetings are scheduled east coast and expect you to figure it out but have been caught out talking to someone about 10oclock and realizing they mean 11 or 9 or what have you.

      Thank god the calendar system auto converts inside the org! For a candidate I would definitely make note of it

      The goal is to be clear. Whatever gets you there is what you should do

    8. Yellow Springs*

      When I know I’m scheduling with someone in a different time zone, I’ll always list both pertinent times to be considerate and avoid confusion.

      Side note on time zones: having grown up in Eastern and now living in Central, I note that people who live in Eastern time very frequently have an Eastern-centric mindset. They’re most likely in my experience to only list times in their own time zone (rather than adding the other person’s time), or even leave off the time zone altogether, forgetting that if it’s 5pm Eastern, it’s not 5pm *everywhere.” Most people I know who live in Central, Mountain, or Pacific are much more aware of other people’s time zones. I don’t know if that’s something about the historic settlement patterns of our country or what.
      Has anyone else noticed this or am I off base?

      1. One Potato Two Potato Three Potato Four*

        Yellow Springs, I grew up in New York and now live in Pennsylvania and definitely have the mindset of not thinking of time zones. Most everyone I know lives up and down the east coast and I only have a friend or two that lives west of here. It takes my mind a minute to remember they are in a different time zone.

      2. doreen*

        Did the people you know in the other time zones grow up/live in those time zones ? I might forget to list time zones just because I rarely need to think of them. I know about 10 people who don’t live in the Eastern time zone and I never call them on the phone/text so I don’t really need to think of time zones. But I suspect my friends who live in Arizona or California or Kansas are more aware because the rest of their families live in the Eastern time zone.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          My uncle lived in Colorado for like 40 years and the rest of the family was in eastern time. Even after 40 years he would still sometimes call or text later than people would prefer because he forgot about time zones; he’d be calling at a time my mom was ready for bed and not remember the difference until she answered sounding tired.

          I think unless you regularly interact with international people, whether for work or because you have friends/family overseas, it’s common to not think about time zones, regardless of where you’re located.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            And even if you do regularly interact it still happens – my aunt in Australia was always getting my grandparents out of bed UK time, and one of my good friends lives in Pennsylvania, knows on paper that I’m in the UK but often forgets that I’m (most of the time) 5 hours ahead and will message me at stupid o’clock my time, and then when I see the message it’ll be stupid o’clock his time.

          2. Eff Walsingham*

            I am related to a dude who my Mum used to call, “Your brother who doesn’t know about time zones” when he would ring us at 3am from Vancouver. In recent decades I’ve concluded that he’s actually a somewhat inconsiderate insomniac, since we live much closer together now. But at least it gave me an awareness that time zones are a thing you need to plan for. I like to hope that, even as a student (pre Google), I’d have confirmed the time difference when making or confirming an appointment with someone non-local.

            1. rollyex*

              I guess.

              But I’m pretty sure that where I live (a big global city) a large percentage of people have family or work contacts in other time zones that we communicate with not-rarely.

              I think this is even true in smaller places in the US. The world is very different than 40 years ago, when synchronous international communication was are rare and expensive thing. Some people don’t get that or consider it, but it’s part of life now for a lot of us.

          3. Calpurrnia*

            My East Coast family and I (in California) ran into this somewhat often. If I thought of something after work and wanted to let them know, I’d send a text message – intending for it to be replied to later, whenever they saw it – and then my dad would complain that I shouldn’t be messaging so late. It was 7pm for me. He didn’t like getting a phone notification at 10pm, refused to learn to use Do Not Disturb, and thought I should just wait until the East Coast morning to send messages (even though texting is asynchronous??). But he’d send me stuff at 9am his time without a second thought, and then send a follow-up if I hadn’t replied by 11am (my 8am, when I wasn’t even out of bed yet). Time zones only exist to inconvenience the East Coast, clearly, and everyone else just has to work around them.

            1. Calpurrnia*

              On the other hand, my South African in-laws are perfectly happy to send and receive WhatsApp messages basically any time of day and wait till the other end sees them to send a reply. We’re also generally fine with “Happy birthday!” messages within +/- 1 day, because it’s that person’s birthday in the sender’s time zone even if the date is different for the recipient.

              We cannot for the life of us keep track of the time offset for DST, though. We have a weekly call at Saturday 8am in SAST that happens at Friday 10pm PST/11pm PDT depending on the time of year, but could I tell you whether that means the time difference is 1 hour less or greater, and how that translates to UTC offsets? I have to literally do the arithmetic (or just Google) every time.

      3. Nightengale*

        Thinking about an small organization I am in where most people are on Eastern but for awhile our president was in Central. She would call a meeting, say 10 her time. At 10:05 Eastern, without fail, the participants in Eastern would start e-mailing the group in panic – I’m on the call! No one else is here! Is anyone else coming?

        So yes, yes I have definitely noticed this

        1. Avery*

          Sounds like an organization I used to work for. President was in Central, I was in Central, everybody else was in Eastern. And yes, the folks on Eastern usually forgot to specify the time zone, so it’d be up to me and/or the President of the organization to go “when you said 10 AM, that was 10 AM Eastern time, right?” Every. Time.

      4. rural academic*

        Yes, same. I grew up on Central time and got used to the idea of Eastern as a separate time zone because television announcements would generally include both, plus we could watch the New Year’s celebration in New York at 11 pm and then our own local one at midnight, etc. I then lived on the East Coast for a while and found that a lot of people weren’t used to thinking about time zones.

      5. Andrew*

        A little bit under 50% of the US population lives in the Eastern time zone, so I think for many of these people it’s quite possible that outside of a work context you never interact with anyone who doesn’t live in Eastern time.

        (I live in Eastern time but grew up in California and have family both there and in the Central time zone, so I’m very aware of time differences, but I have also noticed this!)

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Wow. I had to Google that to make sure and write, I learned something today. And for everyone else: 47.6% Eastern, 29.1% Central, 6.7% Mountain, 16.6% Pacific.
          (Although those numbers leave out Alaska, Hawaii, PR, and all the territories)

      6. J*

        This is definitely the case for me. My company even has 3 HQs in 2 different time zones and it’s obvious even from how time is listed in the email what office they’ll be writing from. (And to make it more confusing, there’s several of us who are fully remote but you can easily tell the east coast remotes from the central time remotes by this too)

        It’s especially weird because to the public we’re fully virtual and in all 50 states and our appointments span 12 hours in every time zone but we cannot convince our eastern time folks to communicate like that.

      7. Calpurrnia*

        I’ve encountered this too. I grew up in Eastern time but now live in Pacific and work with people all over the (continental) US. I still regularly get calendar invites for ungodly hours of the morning because the Easterners “forget” that other time zones exist and schedule stuff for 9am their time. Without looking at the scheduling assistant on Outlook, or they’d clearly see that’s outside of my working hours!

        I recently also asked if a recurring company meeting they call a “Lunch & Learn” could perhaps alternate between different time zones, so that once in a while the West Coast could actually have it at lunchtime and not always at 10am. And they were receptive! And now consecutive meetings will alternate between 10am PT/1pm ET and 1pm PT/4pm ET! Because I reminded them that other time zones exist! :D

      8. Full Banana Ensemble*

        I think it depends more on how much interaction they have across time zones. My last job, I was an east coaster at a California-based company. We had a nationwide customer base, but because 90% of the staff were in one place, it took YEARS for them to acknowledge that time zones other than Pacific even existed (ugh, the number of days I worked noon-8pm to accommodate meetings in the beginning).

        They only really started to consider time zones because of Covid, as now close to 40% of the staff is remote and spread out across the country. They still list PT first, but at least they’ll do the math and include other time zones. :)

    9. Worldwalker*

      In my job, I deal with artists from all over the world, from the US to New Zealand. I specify time zones in offsets—I’m in GMT-4, for instance—or just in GMT. It’s only a minor nuisance compared to the guy in Greece not converting EST/EDT correctly.

    10. Ferris Mewler*

      I can’t recall ever hearing or seeing someone use EDT (or PDT or MDT or whatever) and would be really confused for a moment if I saw it. If we’re on Daylight Savings Time, it’s still “standardized” across the whole time zone. Why would knowing whether it’s summer or winter be necessary to parse the time? Unless you’re in Arizona or Hawaii I guess.

      1. Ferris Mewler*

        I guess I forgot about people outside the U.S. – how very American of me! I apologize. However, as another commenter pointed out, we (Americans) are not being taught to designate time as “DT” instead of “ST” and our lord and savior the television never did either. I truly can’t recall ever seeing it used before today! So I would be pretty confused if someone rolled their eyes and corrected me for saying “EST” in April.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It’s completely common in the US to specify. the “s” in eastern standard time isn’t for “standardized”. EDT and EST are totally different things. I’m not sure where you’re getting “we’re not taught that in the US”? A lot of people don’t bother for the reasons you mention, but that doesn’t change that EDT and EST (or PDT and PST) have specific meanings that are not interchangible.

          1. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

            Not everyone is taught that! I’ve only ever heard of eastern time, AKA three hours ahead of pacific, and I know that the full name for that time zone is eastern standard time, so when I see EST I assume that’s how you write out eastern time. Never heard of or seen EDT.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      Going through the comments and I can’t help but wonder: Am I seriously the only one who will use “8pm your time / 5 pm my time” to avoid confusion? I’ll even abbreviate it to 8/5.

      1. Silvercat*

        Nope, not the only one. For work it’s generally all handled with Outlook, but I play a lot of games on Discord with people across the world, so I always give the time in every time zone that is applicable (if you’re on Discord, hammertime.cyou will give codes that’ll make it show the correct time for whoever is viewing it, but then you have to explain that)

        I had someone with my recruiting company get the time wrong for a phone call(we’re on opposite sides of the US) and it was so annoying (mostly because the call was 100% a repeat of the email she sent)

      2. rollyex*

        I do this, though not the abbreviation you use.

        And when I’m scheduling a quick call later the same day, I’ll sometimes wait till be hit an hour or half-hour and say “OK, I’ll call you on Teams in 30 minutes.”

        Sometimes just “1pm my time” or “5pm your time” with colleagues I interact with a lot. But I alert them when time changes happen.

      3. Elitist Semicolon*

        I do this! It works. Sometimes (if it’s someone I know well and with whom I have scheduled things before) I will use their name – like, Jennifer Time, or whatever.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah when I trained people who booked meetings across time zones it was always name the zone. So “eastern”, “pacific”, etc. It was also always the responsibility of the person doing the scheduling to make the time zone clear, never on the recipient to know what time zone the sender is in and act accordingly. If you’re in Chicago and you send an invite to someone in Sacramento and don’t specify the time zone, that’s on you, not on them for not understanding.
      On the other hand, if you asked the person’s availability and they gave a time without a zone, then yeah, still on you to confirm which time zone’s “11” they meant.

    13. SinginInTheRaine*

      I’m an EA and have been doing scheduling across countries and continents for years. For the past 5 years, I’ve worked at companies that had offices in the US, Europe, Australia, Asia, Africa.

      For scheduling across multiple time zones, I always include all time zones for all attendees. For strictly internal meetings, I’ll start with the earliest time (ET comes before PT, for example). For meetings with external clients, I’ll put the client’s time first (and go with earliest time for clients joining across multiple time zones).

      16:00 GMT, Monday, 6 Nov (8am PT)
      1:00 JST, Tuesday, Nov 7 | 16:00 GMT, Monday, 6 Nov | 8am PT, Monday, Nov 6

      I’m American, so if I’m working with a culture that uses a 24 hour time system and writes the date differently, I format the date/time as they would. For Americans, I format it using the American standard. I’ve never had anyone be confused by this.

      I do not use EST/PDT formatting. I’ve found that that just invites people who don’t actually know the difference between Standard Time (winter) and Daylight Savings Time (summer) to send well-intentioned but stupid “corrections,” and I’m the kind of personality who very much wants to correct them back. It’s better for all parties if we keep that Pandora’s box shut.

    14. Nina*

      I’ve had to do a lot of time-zone scheduling lately right while everywhere involved is switching to daylight savings.

      As a job candidate, you spell out very very clearly when you’re available. Copy-pasting from an email I sent last week – “I’m available after 5 pm my time, which is NZT right now, and as you’re in [Location], which went to daylight savings on [date], I think that’s after [time] pm for you.”

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        YES. My biggest nightmare was trying to schedule an offsite meeting for our Texas (which is Central) team that was being held in Arizona (which flips between Mountain and Pacific).

        The invites and meeting information went out in October. The meeting was in November, after Texas changed time but Arizona didn’t. Getting Outlook to block everything correctly and get folks to remember to take it into account when booking flights was horrible…

  3. Rara Avis*

    Ugh the time zone issues. Since the shutdown, there are so many more invites to virtual meetings — and the vast majority of them don’t specify time zone. It should be standard practice to add the time zone indication every single time.

    (I’m also still sore about the email asking for feedback as to why I said no to a conference I attended once before — could it be that you’re starting it at 5 a.m. my time? )

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Meeting time selection is a whole discussion in itself. I can no longer block off my most productive hours for focus time because that’s exactly when we have the best overlap among continents. But what drives me nuts is the project manager one hour different who can’t remember or doesn’t care that half the people on his team should be getting lunch at his 11am.

      1. rollyex*

        I recall someone from the Philippines calling out the “privilege of Eastern Time and European Time” in global only events in 2020/2021.

    2. Miette*

      Outlook should ask if we want to clarify a time zone like they ask if we mean to set a meeting without a location lol

    3. Ama*

      I always try to either say “6 pm my time” or “6 pm your time” if it’s a small meeting with coworkers, I also regularly run meetings for an advisory group with members all over the US (and on special occasions, in Europe) so for those I will list every time zone involved in the meeting.

      About a year ago, I moved to a different time zone from most of my coworkers and my boss (who is in the old time zone) NEVER specifies your time/my time when we need to have a quick ad hoc call (for example I’ll ask if she has 10 minutes to talk and she’ll say “yes I’m free at 10:30″or she’ll say “hey do you have time to talk at 2” — she ALWAYS means her time zone). She is the only coworker I have that does this (even the CEO specifies time zone when she asks me to attend a meeting). To be fair, she has a pattern of unclear communication about things other than time zones, but I still find it annoying.

    4. Alisaurus*

      I still remember the time I scheduled a meeting and got a somewhat-irate (I think he was just frustrated, but it came across as angry) email from a guy asking why in the world I’d schedule a meeting for a very late hour (I forget the exact time, but it was definitely not normal business hours). Thankfully he’d replied to the invite, so I could see it under his email – and then I had to figure out how to tactfully point out that, somehow, his Google Calendar was set to UTC and that if he’d change his settings, he’d see it was actually well within his afternoon at the office.

    5. raktajino*

      +1 on the meetings should specify time zones automatically. Especially if the meeting is a forward or an app I don’t use, I can’t trust that the time zone was converted to my local time. It also throws me when I try to read overlapping email threads when the time stamps are in different time zones–I’m not certain who truly sent which email first.

    6. JustaTech*

      My “favorite” was a hybrid conference that started at 5am my time but didn’t bother to email the virtual attendees that they would not be streaming anything the first day.

      So I got up at 4:30, tripped over the cat in the dark, only to spend an hour thinking I had technical problems before one of the organizers finally got around to putting up a message that nothing would be streamed that day.

    7. Zephy*

      We had just such a snafu today – the manager that does our initial phone screen interviews is based in Alaska, which is 4 hours behind us on the East Coast. My manager mentioned this morning that he was supposed to have an interview but they “never showed,” and then sure enough the candidate walked in a little before 3 PM (which would be 11 AM Alaska time). I’m betting that the screener just forwarded the confirmation email to my manager, he saw 11, didn’t notice the time zone.

    8. OMG, Bees!*

      It should, but in this case, sounds like a new candidate who does not know you might need to be precise with timezones.

      Still recall 18 old me not realizing I had to specify area codes for phone numbers yet as previously I almost exclusively had to use mine, despite being at least 5 area codes in my region at the time.

  4. AcademiaNut*

    For #5 – use a timezone converter that lists the date and time for the participants in the email!
    I work in a very international field, and it’s really common for daylight savings to cause confusion, particularly when Europe and North America are out of sync. My field is also where knowing the minutia of different timekeeping systems is important, and people still get things wrong occasionally – I once logged into a meeting at the right time, but wrong day because I was travelling, did the time conversion right, but forgot that I had crossed the international date line.

    I will also note that EST = Eastern Standard time, which goes from November to March; the rest of the year is actually EDT = Eastern Daylight Time. People get that one wrong all the time, and if you’re hiring internationally, you want to get it right, because not all countries use daylight savings time.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      This only works if everyone receiving the email is in the time zone! For one-on-one things like interviews it would be a nice courtesy, but for other things – especially when you’ve got international meeting attendees or you don’t know exactly where everyone is located geographically – it’s more reasonable to just give the meeting time zone and start time and let everyone figure it out. (An extra nudge is nice, like Alison suggested, but I feel like it’s ultimately on the meeting participants to get it on their calendars correctly in the first place.)

      1. Nebula*

        There are time zone converters that will give you a link that will show the correct time for any number of participants in any number of places. I’m in a Discord server where we use one for video meetups and it works just fine for everyone.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I don’t know if it’s an Outlook feature or not (or could be an add in?), but my company has several locations in various time zones, and all my meeting invites come in adjusted for my time. It’ll make a note of where the meeting was scheduled from (Europe/San Diego usually) but the invite reflects my time zone when it hits my inbox.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I give the meeting time as local (to the meeting) and the UTC equivalent. If I am 100% confident of the local time of the recipient I’ll put that.

      1. rollyex*

        Makes sense, but on calls it’s not clear to me that the meeting is local in any way.

        I guess if it’s a webinar about, say, recycling in Italy with speakers in Rome and Milan, then sure. But for a lot of meetings it’s not clear to me what we should consider the location other than a URL.

    3. Drag0nfly*

      When it comes to international situations, I just go online and see what the time is in the given city, and do the math from there. I wouldn’t think of asking foreigners to care about the daylight savings time, although I’ve seen articles about it in the British press. Usually with a tone of “how odd.”

      If I’m setting the schedule for an international call I would just tell them that I’ll call them at 2 o’clock their time. Or to call me at 2 o’clock their time. If I’m on the phone and they want to set the schedule, I just ask them what time it is there, tell them what time it is for me, and we do the math from there for the next appointment call. So far everything has worked out, although I can imagine how DST would trip up someone from abroad. Not to mention crossing the international dateline.

      1. TechWorker*

        Er in the U.K. we also have daylight savings (usually it changes a week off when the US changes). There’s probably plenty of things the British press finds odd about America but that’s not one of them :)

        1. Drag0nfly*

          Hah! The way the article was written (in the Independent at least), I really thought DST must not be a thing there. Today I Learned :)

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            The confusion will come because of the timing of the change. Europe has fully harmonised the daylight savings dates so for example the UK is always an hour behind Germany. The week or so where we’ve changed and the US hasn’t plays havoc on scheduling!

          2. Lost Clone*

            The UK is actually more north than mainland USA, so it’s actually a bit more necessary over here! (I have sympathy for Alaskans in the winter)

            The ‘how odd’ bit comes from you changing to and from summer time at different weeks to us, and therefore the ‘Wrong Date’ from a European perspective (as if we were the most important!).

            1. Carlie*

              I believe the reason the US changes later is because of Halloween – that way families can still take their kids out for trick-or-treating after work (last day of October) and it isn’t already dark.

              1. Ganymede*

                That little factoid is actually going to help me with my social connections in California – a couple of times we have messed up due to the hours changing on different weeks. Thank you!

                1. RabbitRabbit*

                  It’ll be dark enough – the concern is over children being hit by cars while crossing the street, as it’s apparently the most dangerous time of the year for that.

              2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                That’s fascinating to me – in the UK we deliberately wait until it’s dark to go ToTing and it would be very odd to go during daylight.

                1. al*

                  Mostly it’s a matter of parents’ willingness to bring their children (small children, perhaps) out when it’s dark. Lots of parents will, but you’ll get an even bigger turnout if there’s more light during trick-or-treating hours.

                  Also, while parents are the ones with the safety concerns, the pressure to codify Halloween-friendly Daylight Saving came from candy lobbyists, hoping to capitalize on parents’ safety concerns.

              3. Irish Teacher*

                That’s really interesting and sort of cool.

                Here, the clocks go back just before Halloween and as the 1st of November is a holy day of obligation, we have Mass on Halloween and it’s usually the first night I’m walking to the church in the dark and there are sometimes fireworks going off, so it’s pretty appropriately creepy.

              4. Anonymous Old Halloween Fan*

                This person thought that trick or treating after school in the dark was the whole part of the fun. It felt to me like moving the time change after Halloween was an attempt to kill pop celebration of a pagan holiday.

                1. bestbet*

                  At least where I live (in the north eastern US), trick or treating hours are typically 6-8, and under EDT it gets dark around 7 that time of year. So you have an hour where parents can take out the smaller kids when it’s still light, and then an hour where the older kids can go around in the dark.

              5. Hrodvitnir*

                Oh wow, I love that. I’m mildly pro daylight saving, but it sure makes for some logistical nightmares internationally! Feels so “time is a social construct”, haha.

    4. Ms_Meercat*

      I actually use a world clock meeting planner (https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html) – it allows you to put the cities (or the time zones) in for a specific date and spits out a handy table with UTC – city 1 – city 2 – … I copy-paste that line into the email and/or link the URL of my search (which then pulls up the exact same search again to whoever clicks on it). It’s been super helpful ever since the time I had to regularly schedule meetings across 3+ time zones.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Also you can just use “Boston time” or “Frankfurt time” (whatever your local major city is) and then people can put “Time in Boston” into a search engine and figure out the shift from their own time. (Google knows what time it is right now in Shanghai. But it doesn’t know what the person who typed the email about the meeting meant about the time, in their heart of hearts.)

    6. Teapot Wrangler*

      Or daylight savings time turns up on a different weekend to you! Ask me how I know about that one…

  5. Time zones are the worst*

    As someone who has spent years coordinating thousands of providers in multiple time zones, let me break the terrible news that So Many People get their own time zone wrong because they do not understand the difference between for example, EDT and EST. And they do not understand this the entire year, not just when the time is about to change.

    For reference, EST, or Eastern Standard Time, should not be used the entire year if you live in a place that observes daylight savings time. If you want to shorthand what time zone you are in if you live in such a location, it’s ET, or Eastern Time. But most people default to EST because of a misunderstanding of what standard means.

    Time zones are so complicated and confusing that there isn’t even a known number of how many there are in the world. It’s an utter mess.

    So whose responsibility is it? Everyone involved, assuming your goal is to actually meet at the same time. Link to a time zone converter at the bare minimum, and then for the love of all things time zone, check what your time zone actually is to make sure you have it correct.

    Bonus fun fact – 13 US states have multiple time zones, and that’s not even accounting for daylight savings time nonsense where only part of the state observes it.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I came here to say something similar–if you’re going to say Eastern Standard Time or EST, make sure to change it to EDT for the summer or you’ll cause more confusion. If you’re not confident of the Standard/Daylight Savings distinction, you can generally get away with Eastern Time (or Central Time or Pacific Time, as far as I know)… but that doesn’t work for Mountain Time, because Arizona stays on Standard Time and the rest of the time zone uses Daylight Savings Time. Using a city as a reference point can work–I’ve seen people say “10 a.m. Denver time.”

      I have clearly overthought this. In my defense, I used to have a job where I had to coordinate conference calls across New Mexico (MDT in the summer), Arizona (MST in the summer), and the Navajo Nation (which falls across New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, and generally uses MDT even on the Arizona side). I didn’t usually have callers from the Hopi Pueblo, but Hopi–which is surrounded on all sides by the Navajo Nation–follows the Arizona convention rather than the Navajo convention.

      1. Time zones are the worst*

        Using a geographic location is actually incredibly smart and practical, because you can google what time it is there.

        And for everyone commenting that the distinction is pedantic – let me tell you, it’s not as soon as a computer gets involved, because they sure define things very specifically, and EDT versus EST is extremely different. It’s actually more important today than it was several decades ago, and it’s likely to continue to become more important. Time zones, after all, weren’t necessary until speeds of travel became such that we needed to be able to coordinate times between cities.

        Dismissing something as pedantic, frankly, has become shorthand for “I don’t think this is important, therefore it cannot possibly be important.”

        1. Ganymede*

          I agree with this – just say “LA time” or “NYC time” etc. One thing about us non-USians is that we don’t know where your timezones apply to – I would have to google anyway, so it might as well be as specific as possible.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            And then throw in the fact that, for example, some places are officially on one time but use “slow time,” because they are close to a major metropolitan area on a different time zone.

          2. Smithy*

            I’m in the US and use this with outside the US all the time….

            First of all, time zone converters online are a life saver, but beyond that – I’m in the boat of never using EDT and likely using EST incorrectly (so….sorry), so when it comes to non-US letters, that’s too tough. So I’m always inclined to send the meeting with the majority cities of the places I know people are calling from.

          3. Ophelia*

            Yep. I work with people all over the world, and it’s MUCH easier for me to say, “8am DC, 1pm London, 8pm Hanoi” than try to figure out what everyone CALLS their time zone!

          4. Alisaurus*

            And other countries observe daylight savings differently – for example, the UK changes their clocks on a different weekend than the US.

    2. DannyG*

      When I was learning to fly we were taught to convert everything into UTC (i.e. Greenwich Mean Time) when dealing with multiple time zones while flight planning. Phone clock apps include UTC, so you could list times thusly: “The meeting will begin at 1:30 PM EST (6:30 PM UTC)”

      1. Emmy Noether*

        In my experience, everything to do with flying just uses UTC. Even when I was flying gliders and staying within a few km from home, the flight book was kept in UTC. Easier/safer to just have everything consistent always.

        1. Worldwalker*

          So does meteorology; when I worked for Accu-Weather, even our computer was in GMT. (Or UTC, or Z-time) After all, when you get weather data from one of the reporting stations, you really don’t want to have to look up where it is and what their local time is…for all 1000+ of them.

          1. I Have RBF*

            IMO, servers should run on UTC. That way the logging is consistent across applications and data centers. If I need to convert to a locality’s time, I just need to do one conversion for all the logs, not a separate one for each machine and time zone.

        2. Calpurrnia*

          Yeah, UTC is the standard for aviation as far as I’ve ever seen. When I worked in air traffic control, every meeting room had a clock for the local time (Eastern in my case), and a second clock for UTC (“Zulu”).

    3. Awkwardness*

      ET/EST – I did not know this. Thanks for this explanation.

      A whole new layer of confusion unlocked. Good way to start the week!

    4. Alisaurus*

      Agreed! I ran into this a lot at LastJob, where I scheduled dozens of meetings every day. I defaulted to ET/CT/etc because there was way too much confusion if I tried to use CDT vs CST. (I remember being surprised most of my fellow assistants didn’t know the difference, let alone all the clients who I was scheduling with, so I eventually just gave up and shifted to using “ET” and letting everyone assume I meant the specific one that applied that day.)

    5. rollyex*

      My fun fact about time zone is that the country with the most different time zones is not Russia…..

  6. Coin Purse*

    Re#3, the New Bob. I agree with Alison that it’ll die off on its own. I once took a job over from a retiring nurse and was called the New Linda for about 6 months. After everyone got used to me, it went away. It was annoying….plus we looked nothing alike.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Yup, though the multiple incidents of public indecency was a plot twist I wasn’t expecting. Bravo to the writers!

    2. Phryne*

      My predecessor actually had the same first name as me, and she did not go to another department but took on other tasks within the same team. Yeah, that was fun. :)
      (less relevant but fun fact, our birthdays were 1 day apart as well, if different years) Fortunately we had very different last names or the confusion would have been epic.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I have a last name spelled the same as, but pronounced differently from, a common first name, and in one job, my predecessor happened to have a variation of that name. It took a while to shake off getting called Predecessor’s name, and even people who hadn’t met Predecessor picked it up.

      2. GreenShoes*

        I once took over for a coworker for her maternity leave. Think our names were Sara and Sarah. I’m convinced people didn’t notice she had left.

        Then we started working on the same team. It was common for people to have to send emails to the both of us at the same time. So where you’d address an email to Jan/Marcia, blah blah blah most would just cut to the chase and address it to Sara(h), blah blah blah.

        Luckily neither of us were slackers, and we generally could figure out who someone was aiming for :)

      3. GreenShoes*

        Forgot to add… we had this on another team. Think Bob (who had left) and then we hired a Bob. He was called Bob 2.o for awhile.

      4. Lenora Rose*

        One of my coworkers uses a different nickname at work than with family just so they don’t constantly have to correct or use last names since they do similar-but-nonidentical jobs in the same department. (Something like: We have Beth R and Liz K at work, but Beth’s family actually call her Liz.)

      5. Daisy-dog*

        A friend is an HR Manager who has the same name as the previous HR Manager (who did actually leave the company). Her predecessor was awful and mean and my friend is not. Her co-workers could not come to terms with calling her by her name because they associate that name with evil, so they nicknamed my friend Glinda the Good Witch. Thankfully, Glinda loves her nickname.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Yep – this is so common, and it is often a little annoying for the person stepping into the role, and I do try to remember that and *not* do it to new people if I can help it – but because it’s so incredibly common, it’s not worth bringing up until at least 6 months is past. You’re going to look oversensitive flagging it. But it’s not the best practice, and there’s a bunch of different ways it can make the new person feel weird or unwelcome.

      1. Smithy*

        Agree with this.

        I’d also add that over time, I’ve come to see some of the “we miss predecessor so much, but newbie is great!” performativity is to prevent conversations from getting derailed. I work at a large place, and recently someone who’d been there for over ten years just left. In my opinion, her work could have been elevated higher, she could have gotten more visibility/promotion/etc. But she left on great terms, was very well liked and progressing in her career makes sense.

        Doing that song and dance prevents us from an unhelpful digression that won’t help the new person succeed. It lets the new person express how they too do still miss predecessor, but then we formally move onto including the new person.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          I think this is right on the money. In addition to the usual speculation and questions about why someone left and on what terms, Bob had an apparently well known history of scandal. An elaborate We Miss Bob speech seems like it could be a gesture at there’s nothing to see here, move along.

        2. Expelliarmus*

          That makes sense. In this case it sounds like they’re emphasizing how surprised they are that OP is great at her job (“but it turns out she’s great!”), so I can see why that may contribute to OP being rankled.

          1. Smithy*

            I get the rankling – I do. But I think part of that phrasing may come from an inartful place of preemptively combating “no one could ever replace Bob”. And saying “but it turns out she’s great!” – is getting ahead of that any knee jerk “no one could ever be Bob”.

            Could it be better word smithed? Sure, but I think the larger dynamic of this being really common and it being a little trickier when the predecessor is still at the employer but just on a different team, is also true.

    4. Sharkie*

      Yes it will die down on its own! I was in a similar situation when I started my role and it died down my month 2!

    5. ErinWV*

      It could be worse. When I started my current job, my then-boss did a poor job of informing the work community that her former assistant (Jean) had been replaced by me (ErinWV). So for my first six months, every time I tried to get anything done, I would have people telling me, “Oh, Jean handles that.” “I don’t know, ask Jean.” One day I flipped out and told somebody “JEAN IS GONE. I AM JEAN. PLEASE HELP ME.”

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Argh. I do not understand this whole thing of not telling people when staff leave. It does nothing whatever useful for the people trying to get things done, and it definitely means you should have been introduced around better.

        I sort of understand it if it’s a whole other department you’re not in contact with on the regular, but if you are, you should be fully introduced. And even if you are not, you don’t need every announcement but they should at least send updated employee lists out periodically.

    6. There You Are*

      In my last job, I replaced someone named Renee. My manager, who I knew from a previous company we worked at together, called me Renee 2.0 (“two point oh”) the entire time we were at the new company (he left before I did).

      I always thought it was funny. And, since Renee had been promoted to another role in a different department that our department worked closely with, I got to know her well enough to take “Renee 2.0” as a compliment.

  7. Bethany*

    I’ve found it best to just refer to time zones as ‘city’ or ‘State’ time. I live in Australia and while we have official time zone names, nobody uses them or knows what they are. We just say ’12pm Sydney time’, ’11am Queensland time’ or ‘3pm Broken Hill time’, and then everybody understands. We’d always use either the city/State that we or the other party is based in.

    1. Also Bethany*

      My name is also Bethany (weird), and I was scrolling down to write the same thing!

      I always write “19.00 Paris time” and let them do the math OR write “19.00 Paris/21.00 Nairobi time.” I don’t think I’ve ever had someone miss a call this way.

    2. Rara Avis*

      That doesn’t work for me! Even if I know the person inviting me is in Chicago, I still have to look up what time zone that major city is in. (I regularly fly through Chicago traveling from the west coast to the east, and I have never managed to learn its time zone. Which makes figuring out if I’m going to make a connection when I’m On a late flight interesting.) If it’s not a major city? Not a chance!

      1. Observer*

        This is where Google (or any decent search engine – I just tested on DuckDuckGo) is your friend. Ask it “what time is it in **City**” and it will tell you. Or “what is the time difference between **Your City** and **Destination City**”

      2. JSPA*

        So what you’re saying is, it does work for you– you understand what’s meant, and all you have to do is check the internet, and all will be clear.

        This had me wondering what field are you in, that you can regularly expect that most of your information will be more pre-chewed and pre-digested than that? I have a smart-but-oddly- practically-helpless friend who is job searching, and we regularly joke that he is looking for just such a “baby bird” job, where everything comes to him broken into its component parts, and he can work his creativity from there.

        1. JustKnope*

          Yuck, this was a really condescending comment. It’s not unreasonable to be annoyed by someone using a city name that you then have to go look up, as opposed to them just using a standard reference like ET or CT. The commenter isn’t helpless? Just asking to not be made to do unnecessary extra tasks.

          1. Next!*

            Sooo…..someone else has to do the “unnecessary extra tasks” so you don’t have to be asked?

            It’s not unreasonable to have adults figure out a bit of information that is pertinent to them and not other people.

          2. Observer*

            as opposed to them just using a standard reference like ET or CT.

            Except that these references are often not as standard as you seem to think. There are lots of comments up and down the thread about the confusion around these terms.

          3. Nina*

            As someone who is not in the US, telling me you’re using Chicago time is actually a lot more helpful than putting in an acronym that Google will decide means I want to know when a Spielberg movie was released or when Connecticut was established.

            ‘8 am in Chicago’ gets me the exact time it will be for my location when it is 8 am in Chicago, and a stack of timezone converters already set to convert for Chicago.

            ‘8 am ET’ asks whether I mean Australia, Russia, or the US.

      3. Allonge*

        The point is to give a nudge to look it up, instead of people going to the default ‘I am the center of the universe, 11am is 11am is 11am’. Unless someone is dealing with time zones every day, there is a huge chance they will miss it.

    3. Lissajous*

      Adding to this: state the city *and* the time zone in UTC form – e.g. Sydney time, UTC + 10. Account for daylight savings at the date of the meeting in the UTC.

      If you are talking internationally, the letter codes will cause issues somewhere! EST is also used in Australia – we do not typically put the A for Australia in front of it, because why would we, we’re already here! So if I see EST I’m assuming Aussie Eastern states (and then if it’s summer I have to check if it’s Queensland or one of the others, for daylight savings discrepancy.)

      (In my experience it’s all my friends in the eastern states who have no idea what our time zones are. Westerners, on the other hand, usually do, if for no other reason than delayed broadcasts and sports. Only trap is keeping track of when some states switch to daylight savings and then back again… This is of course a limited sample space and the plural of anecdote is not data, etc.)

      1. Michaela*

        I use AEST and AEDT! Otherwise it doesn’t seem accurate because EST exists.

        It doesn’t come up that often though, since Outlook or Gmail adjusts, so never had an issue.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Giving thanks for electronic invitations which only use time zones on the surface, and send underlying meeting timings in UTC.

      2. Working*

        i just want to endorse Lissajous’s comment.

        If you’re American and dealing with an international ausience, please don’t jyst write EST.

        There’s more than one!

    4. short'n'stout*

      This! I always have to look up what time zone abbreviations expand to, and then I have anxiety that I have confused two similar ones.

      As for figuring out what time zone a particular city is in (per previous comments), I leave that to my calendar app. I put in the time and location of the event, it places it on my calendar at the time that corresponds to my own time zone.

    5. MST*

      I grew up doing this. I’m Canadian and am not really aware of the names of the time zones, just the main city or province of a time zone. But like in Australia, Canadian geography makes this generally easier than in the US or a lot of other places.

    6. amoeba*

      Yup. I’m in Europe and get super confused by anything except GMT. If you specify the city, perfect, I just google “time in New York” or whatever and I’m fine. Might just run into problems if the daylight saving time switch happens between me looking it up and the actual appointment, so maybe add an extra note during the times of year where that’s a possibility?

      (Also, doesn’t this get done automatically if there’s a calendar invite that you add to Google calendar/Outlook? But I guess not everybody uses that…)

    7. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Also, send a calendar invite!
      The ICS standard prescribes exactly how the computers communicate time between themselves (basically , UTC). As long as the sender’s and receiver’s computer/phone knows their time zone, it will just work – including daylight saving time, which turns on and off on different dates depending on where you are.
      I have to deal with that on a daily basis (last year I was traveling for my job over 100 days and on all continents except Australia) and it appears to be pretty reliable.

    8. bamcheeks*

      I don’t know whether this would reliably work for an international audience, especially a younger and less experienced one. I’ve almost never had to deal with timezones for work, and I think I’d google this and get the right time, but I’d totally stress about whether I’d missed something, especially if it wasn’t like Sydney but a smaller Australian city or region that I hadn’t heard of. UTC would give me a lot more confidence!

    9. EA*

      This is what I do and it works well. Also, if the invitation is sent on Zoom it should show in the time zone of the recipient’s calendar. I feel like this was a bigger challenge in 2019 but post-pandemic people are better at getting time zones straight.

    10. Your Mate in Oz*

      That only works until you’ve got a meeting involving people in fake Sydney (the Canadian one), or both real London and fake London (what is it with Canada?), or worse something like Christchurch (so many cities called Christchurch).

      I typically use one of the many websites that do “what is that time for me” for everyone. You include a link like “magic time site/meetingisat=10:30SydneyNSW” and anyone clicking it gets a page that says “you’re in Tokyo, and 10:30am Sydney time is 11:30am JST” (or wherever they happen to be).

  8. Observer*

    How can I approach this employee without killing her enthusiasm? I want her to understand that and address the business as a whole using the terminology of “our” and “we” rather than “I.” Do you have any solid advice for me?

    Don’t. You can’t accomplish what you want to accomplish.

    On the other hand, it’s worth thinking about what problem you are really trying to solve here. The language she is using is extremely common. It’s extremely unlikely that she actually thinks of the business as her own or that she is trying to convey the impression that the business is hers. It’s also even less likely that the person she is talking to would think that the business is hers. The only possible mistake I could see happening here is that a patient might think that she’s the only scheduler working in the office. Which does not seem to be that big of a deal.

    Whenever you want to instruct someone to change their behavior, you should be thinking about what problem you are trying to solve. Personal preference that doesn’t affect your ability (or that of your team) to get work done is generally not a good reason. eg For the most part communications preferences do have the potential to affect your workflow, so addressing that makes sense. But your preference for a certain screen background should not be a reason to insist that someone else use that background (again, absent specific problem such as *inappropriate* images.)

    1. Drag0nfly*

      I agree. The OP’s concern doesn’t make sense to me, and it sounds as if OP thinks the customers aren’t too smart. Like the other posts where an OP was convinced that an employee should change her name because she had the same name as the OP and “people will get confused.”

      There’s also no obvious reason why the OP’s customers will be harmed or angry by the use of “I” rather than “we,” nor is it clear why the customers will *care* who the owner is. When I call a business, I don’t care if I’m talking to the owner *unless* I’m making a complaint that only the owner can resolve. Or I need permission / accommodation from someone with the authority to give it.

      If the business is called “Kate’s Flowers” and Ginger is the one I’m talking to, I’m going to assume Ginger is not the owner. Every dental office or doctor’s office I’ve called will indicate who is THE doctor somewhere in the signage or marketing materials. If it’s Dr. McCoy’s practice and the one I’m talking to is Dr. M’Benga or Nurse Chapel, I’m not confused. I’m struggling to understand why OP thinks this is an issue.

      1. UKDancer*

        I agree, it’s usually heavily contextual. I mean you usually know as a customer or can check who the appointment is with by asking and I don’t tend to assume that the person answering the phone is the person I’m going to see. If I’m unsure I can always ask or specify.

        So my dentist’s receptionist works for 2 dentists (Mr Morecambe and Mr Wise) and I always see Mr Wise. So if she says “I have an appointment at 3pm” I know it’s not with her it’s with my dentist. If he’s not around and it’s an emergency she’d say “Mr Wise is away but I’ve an appointment with Mr Morecambe.”

        My GP is a group practice so I usually start by asking if I can have an appointment with Dr Scott (because I prefer a female doctor and she’s the only one) and she will either say she has an appointment or she’ll tell me Dr Scott is fully booked but she has
        appointments with Dr Majors or Dr Weiss tomorrow.

        1. RHPS fan*

          Hahaha, presumably those appointments with Dr Majors and Dr Weiss are in another dimension? With voyeuristic intention…. :D

          1. UKDancer*

            Sadly they’re in this dimension which is a lot less fun. I had those names in my head because the receptionist looks a bit like Patricia Quinn used to at the time of the film.

    2. lisajane*

      ‘Don’t’ is what I thought, too. It sounds like this is a medical practice and patients will not assume whomever answers the phone, is the clinician that they’re seeing.

      I’m a PA/practice manager, and I work for a male surgeon who owns the business and is the only clinician. While I naturally say ‘he/him’ rather than ‘I’ because he’s the one they’re booking to see in his appointment schedule, ‘I’ isn’t wrong either – I’ve said his name including title, first name and surname when answering the phone to confirm which clinic they’ve called, I’ve said my first name so they know who they’re speaking with, both of our names are said in a particular order, so I give our patients credit and feel they’re intelligent enough to realise that they know they’re not booking in to see me, if I were to say ‘I’.

      I used to say ‘I’ at times when I was working in a practice of six female clinicians all in the one speciality and we had a company name. This was usually just in the context of if a new patient wanted to see a particular doctor, but the waiting time was too long (a very common occurrence) and ‘I’ wanted to offer another clinician who could see them earlier, in which case I’d say something like ‘I do have availabilities with another clinician’.

      I actually think ‘our’ sounds stranger than ‘I’ as to me, if not going to use pronouns, ‘our’ makes it sound like the receptionist partially owns the company or clinic, whilst ‘I’ sounds like she’s proud to be a representative of that company or clinic. I’d also be concerned that if the fact the receptionist is saying ‘I’ is such an issue, then what other nitpicking or micromanagement is going on.

    3. Venus*

      I think context matters too, so “I have an opening” works if it’s the same person who is looking at their schedule and can meet with the customer, whereas if there is an opening on Thursday and someone else will be meeting with the customer then ‘We’ is appropriate. If the employee is using it properly in context then I think it would be strange to change the wording, because if I were a customer and talking with someone who said “We have an appointment on Thursday” then my first question would be “With you? Or someone else?”

    4. Expelliarmus*

      My guess is that’s OP wants the employee to put forth the idea of a “team” on the business side, and wrongly thinks that by saying “I”, the employee is implying that she doesn’t care about other people’s roles. Which is a silly conclusion to draw from this, for sure!

  9. Jillian*

    “packages in a package”. Dammit you just made a 65 year old women feel like a 12 year old boy for laughing out loud at this.

    1. BayouBoogaloo*

      SAME! I’m 54 and I cackled. I think we’re all 12 yo boys sometimes when something funny is said or done.

  10. Heidi*

    I have to say I admire LW4’s ingenuity in coming up with a way to re-send the envelope unopened. Getting those FedEx labels off without tearing them is difficult. I like to think I would have put the calendar in blank manila envelope, labeled it “Private,” then put that back in the FedEx envelope so that it would look like I checked the mail, but didn’t see the calendar. This is also overkill, of course, but I totally get not wanting my boss to know I’d seen it.

    1. Mister_L*

      At my previous job I sometimes helped sort the mail, the rule was that everything would be opened even if adressed to someone by name unless it had a comment like “personal” in the adressee.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Same. Am paralegal, and for boring reasons the post has to be checked by someone sufficiently qualified to assess whether any individual item needs docketing. Most of the time this was dull, but occasionally there would be a highlight.

        I was very glad for example to divert a letter to my ur-boss from a recruiter speculatively forwarding my details as a unicorn prospect. The recruiter would go on to deny the details were mine, which was unlikely in the circumstances.

        There was also a letter handwritten in nine colours of ink about mind control and how the writer had invented Internet banking but had his idea stolen. That was fascinating.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Same here. More generally, it is about knowing what needs immediate attention and what can be tossed into the in box.

          But more to the point, did you sign up that victimized inventor? That would be a fantastic case!

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I can’t properly explain how bananapants the letter was. There was no actual request in it. There would have been no money in it. Firms don’t take on pro bono work for a giggle.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              A message of wisdom for attorneys is not to sign up crazy clients. It isn’t worth the possible upside. In the fifteen years I have been with my boss he has broken this rule only once. It was a neighbor dispute. I pointed out to him that in any neighbor dispute at least one party is crazy, and there is no obvious reason to believe it is not the one sitting in your office.

              How this advice applies to current news is left as an exercise for the student.

              1. RagingADHD*

                Eccentric clients, however, can be delightful. I used to work at a small trust & estate firm that had a extremely wealthy older client who lived alone and had a hobby of re-writing his will every few months, depending on how he felt about his sister and her progeny. When they were on the “nice” list, he included a great deal of flowery language praising their charm and accomplishments. When they were on the “naughty” list, he would invent creative insults and passive-aggressive bequests.

                The best part was that all the letters were supposedly typed by his imaginary secretary, who had a Dickensian sounding name like “Mr. Ratcliffe Reticule.”

                But the client paid on time and never disputed any advice the attorney gave him. Pure entertainment.

            2. Lily C*

              Legal assistant here – we had a bananapants series of letters from one person that were similar, some years ago. No real request for specific legal advice or help (I think the writer wanted to put us on retainer, but we’re not that kind of firm), with offers to pay us in original art produced by the writer. The letters were multi-colored, handwritten on odd-sized paper, used initial caps to emphasize the Important Words, and the writer put their thumbprint in red ink over their signature. We wrote a polite boiler plate we-can’t-help-you-letter in return, and never heard back. But we also kept the letters around for a few more years to take out and look at every so often just because they were so visually amazing to look at. Whatever the writer’s other issues, they were an amazingly skilled artist. That was some fun mail to open.

          2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            No no it would not. Those types of letters do not lead to good clients with actual cases. Ever law firm gets lots of them because the writers just spam law firms. The best thing you can do is circular file them.

            1. kalli*

              I live somewhere lawyers aren’t allowed to turn down cases (ethically, it leaves them without representation if everyone does it, so unless there’s a conflict of interest you’re kind of stuck until the client misbehaves or fires yo). We get pretty good at being very honest about someone’s prospects and being like ‘you have to put $5000 in trust before we open a file or read your emails and sign here to sat you understand we’ve advised you that you’ll likely have to pay $25000 plus the other side’s costs because you have extremely poor prospects at trial and will not only not win but be considered to have wasted everyone’s time’ and hope they decide to represent themselves or settle for lots of posting on internet forums. We’d rather lots of smaller matters where our clients get costs awarded to them than charging one person one unit for every 11 lines of their 6 page letters with and 400 page enclosures (I’ve received 1200 page emails!), especially where the client is also likely to not be able to pay after two or three letters.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                I am honestly confused how this works. Would a personal injury lawyer have to take a tax case, despite knowing nothing about the area beyond that class in law school twenty years ago? And can (or do) you do have a free initial consult, or does the client have to pay for that?

                1. kalli*

                  We do have provision for free initial consults, which can be either an actual appointment or a brief email exchange. Part of what we rely on are people actually knowing that personal injury and tax are not the same, and picking the right practice area – our law society lawyer search is also pretty robust at directing people to the right kind of area. Specifically with tax, we’re trained enough to go ‘this may have a tax implication, I strongly recommend you address this with a financial advisor’ and repeat ‘financial advisor’, and in some types of matter financial advice from a real actual financial advisor must be received and signed off on before the court will approve a settlement. In other matters, we still can’t turn someone away just because our practice area is different – we can’t just say ‘nope, don’t do that bye’ or refuse to talk to someone, but we can advise them honestly that they may have a case and that we can refer them to a specialist if they’d rather have someone who does this all the time – funnily enough, most people take the referral or decide not to pursue – or that their chances probably aren’t good but a specialist might have a better idea – and funnily enough, most people take the referral or move down their list (or self-represent).

                  We do also occasionally get circumstances where people don’t like what their existing lawyers say (like recommending settlement or not appealing an unfavourable result) and we only find out they are already represented when we lodge a notice of acting with the court, and sometimes we do get lawyers teaching themselves things out of textbooks at night and regurgitating them for clients the next day (one lawyer at my firm spent six months trying to get YouTube to take a video down and never thought to use YouTube’s copyright process) but those are outliers and usually down to clients acting in bad faith, favours for friends or VIPs, or due to lack of expertise in an area meaning nobody else exists who could reasonably be expected to do better.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I think this is very discreet! Yes it is sort of overkill, but it’s like the kind of overkill were someone’s organising system is way above what’s necessary and kind of badass because of it.

    3. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I will say recently I’ve been having trouble with google going back and auto correcting fields I’ve filled in online. That whole ‘I’ll remember your name and address’ function can bite you in the behind sometimes. I’ve gotten packages at work that I ordered to go to my house and vice versa – sometimes it will fill in my son’s name instead of mine. I’ve learned to triple check things, but am just glad nothing embarrassing was sent to work before I figured out the problem.

      1. Mister_L*

        That’s how I got the head receptionists login for either the visitor management software or the intranet in my last job (can’t remember which, it’s been some time).
        I immediately emptied the auto fill in and gave her a warning to be more careful in the future.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      My initial reaction when I read the first part of the letter was to put it in a new FedEx envelope. Though when I was in charge of mail, I also had some outgoing items and had FedEx envelopes at my desk already. And some labels are printed paper placed in a plastic pocket on the outside, not a sticker. I don’t know if I would have done exactly as OP4 described, but I was thinking on a similar wavelength, haha.

  11. nodramalama*

    If that’s the way LW1 wants them to say it, and that’s the common parlance I don’t really get the issue with next time they use “I” just casually say, “Oh by the way, our standard parlance is to refer to the business/company as we.”

    I dont really see how that would kill someone’s enthusiasm.

    1. Observer*

      I dont really see how that would kill someone’s enthusiasm.

      It feels nit-picky and micro-managing. Even using your language in a casual manner. Because it really doesn’t make a meaningful difference to people.

      Trying to explain that the employee’s *approach* (which is what the OP says they want to do) is going to really be a downer. And, although I’m sure this is not what the OP is after here, it can really come off like the kinds of manager who talks about “There is no I in TEAM.”

    2. D*

      It reminds me of a manager when I worked retail telling me I couldn’t respond to “have a nice day!” from costumers with, “I’ll do my best!” anymore, despite the fact that it usually got laughs or smiles, just because…he didn’t like it or think it was funny?

      I didn’t listen to him, because it was such a minor thing and it felt so overbearing to stop when I wasn’t saying anything remotely offensive or rude.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        My thoughts also turned to my long-ago days in retail. There is a frequent fear that employees will say something that will cause offense to some customer somewhere, so employees are given a script for the most mundane interactions. The reality is that a customer who wants to be offended can always find something, and in the meantime the vast majority of customers, who are looking for reasonably pleasant interactions as they go about their day, will be put off by hearing the same robotic script every time. If you have an employee who can’t express themselves without an expletive every third word, you have a problem. But it is a problem with that employee, not with employees in general.

      2. Next!*

        This is reminding me of responding to “Thank you” with “No Problem!”

        People get in conniptions about that response. But in reality, we all really know that it’s just a response to Thank You, right?

    3. Drag0nfly*

      It’s nit-picky and pointless, though. It wouldn’t kill confidence in myself, but it would kill confidence in my manager. Because the manager is establishing that he or she will get a burr under the saddle over trivial matters. It would make me wonder if I have to walk on eggshells, and wonder what other picayune idiosyncratic preferences the manager will get on me about.

      If I eat my eggs from the little end and not the big end, will it kill my chances of promotion just because the manager thinks “the big end” is the only way? Worse, if the manager thinks that I’m somehow “confusing” customers who couldn’t care less if I eat my eggs scrambled or sunny side up? Because the average person *doesn’t* care. It would make me question the manager’s perception of reality. That’s the door opened by nitpicking employees over stuff that truly doesn’t matter to the average person.

      There is a time to be persnickety over tiny details, but “I vs. we” as presented here just isn’t a situation where it makes sense. And, as D points out, making up arbitrary rules just kills respect for them.

      1. rayray*

        This is a great way of putting it. I have had similar experience before in a job where my boss was simply a control freak. When I realized how much of her own time she wasted by nitpicking me over the size of paperclips I used or my verbiage in emails, yet she frequently complained about being busy and overwhelmed, it was just confirmation that I was in a lousy job and what I was doing didn’t matter.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’ve had two bosses who would correct me over things like this, and it absolutely killed my enthusiasm. One wanted me to sign my emails with a “thank you” rather than a “thanks”. The other constantly Monday morning quarterbacked how I would reach out to a client, giving me instructions on how to “do better” the next time. I have 20 years of success in the field, so it made me feel undermined, and I eventually left both those jobs.

  12. JSPA*

    #2, One way to break the chain is to own the choices.

    “Pearl, after considering Ruby’s clothing with a critical eye, I can assure you that she stays scrupulously within our current norms and guidelines.

    I feel it’s important to point out the downside of targetting any one employee’s “look,” and how that’s especially true when that employee happens to belong to a group that faces discrimination. For that reason, I’ve become mindful of assessing people based on norms and guidelines, not on my gut reaction.

    Unless we plan to engage in harassment by discussing Ruby’s body with her, or plan to discriminate by setting different clothing guidelines on the basis of weight–which we obviously can’t do–the only option I see would be to change our very popular “dress for your day” policy across the board. That would cause widespread dissatisfaction.

    I therefore plan to say nothing to Ruby individually.

    If you feel strongly about this, I can mention to the entire team that going beyond “dress for your day” can serve to burnish one’s reputation for professionalism. However, I would rather have them continue to focus the bulk of their creative skills on their job, not on getting dressed and accessorizing.”

    1. Minimal Pear*

      I get the feeling that Pearl might disagree that fat people face discrimination, or she might think it’s good that they do.

      1. JSPA*

        She’s allowed to think that inside her own head.
        The goal is for it not to come out of her mouth.

        Different dress codes for different classes of people? Even if “heavier” isn’t in and of irself a protected class statewide unless you’re in Michigan (though “obesity” is, in California and Washington state, under disability… and weight is in some municipalities), the idea of, “this is at least on the edge of what’s becoming illegal” can make people sit up and fly right. (Looks like it’s days from becoming law in new york city, too!)

        As for “discussing bodies,” people are increasingly broadly aware that “people in authority discussing employees’ bodies” is shaky legal ground. Probably the only good to come from the default sexualization of women’s bodies is that Pearl discussing just about any part of Ruby’s body & how it is or isn’t attractive can be found to have a sexual component (potentially contributing to a climate of harassment) as well as simply nasty and bullying.

        If Pearl walks away from the conversation grumping about how she can’t talk about “anything” anymore… great! That’s a win!

    2. GreenShoes*

      Or #2 could just say… “Yeah no, she’s fine unless you have a specific example of her not adhering to the ‘dress for your day’ policy”

      If the OP is worried about Pearl’s influence about Ruby, that same influence can be turned against her. Your suggestion is way over the top and won’t achieve anything except escalating things.

      1. LCH*

        agree. i’d say she looks fine after reviewing her for a couple days and let Pearl bring up specifics if she disagrees. was there something Pearl saw that OP didn’t see? Pearl needs to be more specific if she wants to make this a thing.

    3. Smithy*

      While I don’t feel like that’s a bad approach….I do feel like it’s worth being mindful if this is a fight that the OP is in a position to challenge Pearl, their workplace and in their industry. To Minimal Pearl’s point – Pearl may feel very justified in these views, and quite frankly not be alone. And then I don’t think it’s fair to Ruby for the OP to necessarily position themselves to “fight” on Ruby’s behalf without her input.

      Hypothetically, let’s say this workplace – while a creative industry – is in a more conservative city. Or a creative industry, but one with industry wide fatphobia – such as fashion – where styles like sweats or baggy t’s are viewed one way on one body and another way on another body. I deeply get the desire to protect Ruby from the Pearl’s within these professional worlds – but it actually doesn’t do her a service to do it without her voice.

      She may be in the process of being head hunted by other places that she’s turning down because she thinks she’s succeeding in this workplace. And if she had more information, she’d be more open to leaving to places that both know the quality of her work and how she presents herself at work. On the flip side, it may have always been her dream to work in this industry, but and while she knows she’ll never look 100% the mold – she’s happy to switch out any blue denim to black and wear a dress or two more vs challenging the larger industry standards. But if make-up is deemed a necessity, she’d want an ally. Or maybe she wants an ally now.

      To AAM’s OG letter – these are choices that can significantly impact Ruby. And if the OP truly felt equal to Pearl in a place to say “this isn’t important and Ruby is dressing perfectly appropriate” that’s one thing. But if Pearl is in a position to harm Ruby’s career, then I really don’t think proactively taking positions without engaging with Ruby is fair.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I didn’t interpret the letter that Ruby was wearing sweatpants and baggy t-shirts daily. LW2 says that the majority of the team wears jeans with a basic top and then says that Ruby fits in with the norm, though a bit more casual. My interpretation is that she wears jeans and probably a hoodie or t-shirts rather than the other examples: sweaters/collared shirts/blouses. And likely that none of what she wears is what is socially considered “flattering”.

        1. Smithy*

          Oh neither did I. My comment alluding to sweats and baggy clothing is in reference to industries viewing fashion forward clothing one way on thin bodies and another way on larger bodies.

          Personally, as a tall woman with a body that rides that line between straight and plus sizes, work wear has been a life long journey of its own. And so my comment is more around giving Ruby agency for pushing back vs blending in, as opposed to choosing for her.

          1. Molly Millions*

            I understand what you’re saying but I’m not sure the OP actually has enough information for this to be helpful intel for Ruby.

            “I don’t see any problem with your attire, but another exec who’s not in your chain of command doesn’t like the way you dress, I’m not sure exactly what she’s referring to, but her opinion of you might impact the way you’re perceived and your ability to advance in this office. Or it may not.”

            That probably isn’t compelling enough to prompt Ruby to change her routine or buy a new work wardrobe (which is easier said than done when you’re plus-sized). It’s more likely to make her feel paranoid and self-conscious, though.

            It would be one thing if Pearl had cited something specific, but it seems like she just doesn’t like Ruby’s general vibe, which could include a combination of things (posture, hair texture, acne) that she might not actually have any control over.

  13. John Smith*

    Re #1. Alison is absolutely right here. I can say that from having been in your employee’s position on similar matters and yes, it will come across as overkill and micromanagement and yes, it will demoralise. I’d say the only real exception is if something is coming across as being a personal choice that is causing some difficulty. “I’m not booking your Llama in for a colon flush” is very different from “Our organisation [or “we”] only cater for humans, so I’m unable to book your Llama in for a colon flush”.

    To give context to my situation, I sorted an issue for a customer who had called numerous times and spoke to numerous people without success. In sorting the issue out, the customer said “I wish more people in your company were like you”. As I had failed to hit targets on this call (making customers happy wasn’t one of them, apparently), my manager pulled me up and amongst his complaints was that I said “I’m sorry for your experience – I’ll do everything I can to resolve this”. Apparently I should have said “we”. I pointed out that “we” obviously weren’t sorry, nor did “we” do everything to resolve the issue – I did. (It turns out that all the other people the customer had spoken to simply said they’d pass a message on to the case handler (not me) to call them back when the case handler had just started on maternity leave for 6 months. All these people had hit their targets for their call). I left shortly afterwards.

    1. misspiggy*

      How infuriating. There’s no point having lovely cosy language if the business’s actions point up the lie.

    2. Beacon of Nope*

      Dying of curiosity – did the other people know that the case handler was on maternity leave?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I imagine you could stay inside your metrics if you just glanced at the first line and saw “Bettina Warbleworth,” but not if you took the time to go through “Well it says Bettina Warbleworth but you tell me that hasn’t worked, so let me dig deeper… ah, she just went out on leave, let me see who’s covering… okay, this should go to Herbert Horatio.”

      2. Helen Waite*

        Probably not. We mere call center grunts were the lowest of the low and we had no access to the extensions of managers and up. They didn’t want to talk to frustrated, angry customers, and the 40+ minute hold time guaranteed at least frustration by the time they got to a carbon-based life form. We not only didn’t have their contact information, we had no idea who was or was not out or for how long.

        Call center management: Avoiding customers since the dawn of time. Good thing that job is long in the past.

      3. John Smith*

        A few od them did, but from the calls that were listened to, they said they could not see the case handler at her desk and so would pass a message on. Not one of them, like I did, ask where she was.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Let me guess: Part of the target was keeping the call short, and actually addressing the issue made the call too long.

      1. John Smith*

        Yep, plus the downtime, making outgoing calls to the contractor to find out what was going on and typing more than “cust. called re X” which was basically the limit of what every other operator put regardless of the complexity of the call.

    4. Grits McGee*

      I was in a similar position to LW1’s employee as well, and the nitpicking of language is one of the big reasons I left that office, despite being one of the highest performers. Not only was it demoralizing and infantilizing to be told I couldn’t say “You will need to do x” to stakeholders, I had to say “We recommend you consider x” (in a formal closed door meeting!), it also made me seriously concerned about my manager’s ability to prioritize. We were slammed with work and constantly putting out fires, but it felt like most of my boss’s attention was focused on micromanaging the word choice in everyone’s emails.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Ugh! I feel this. In graduate school I had a professor who always said “I suggest you do x, y, z,” when what he meant was “Do x, y, and z or your specimen will be useless.” I heard his stated meaning rather than what he actually meant, much like your poor stakeholders probably heard your manager’s verbiage as “We recommend you consider” rather than “Absolutely do this!”

        1. Butt in Seat*

          Or doctors! I had to call and talk to my wife’s surgeon with a question during her recovery period. The surgeon said “well, she can do X, Y, and Z.” Then when I called back the next day and wife hadn’t done Y and Z, the surgeon was all huffy and it became clear that by “she can do” the surgeon meant “absolutely do, immediately”. Argh!!

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah I don’t think saying “we” is necessarily wrong, (I probably wouldn’t notice it being said to me as a customer), but whenever I was instructed to use it in customer service, it was usually a place that was overly faceless-corporate in tone and highly scripted, and therefore often insincere. I do think it is particularly petty and wrong to pick at you when you were in a way off script situation and using your own resourcefulness to solve the problem.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Gah!
      *waves arms in air, gnashes teeth, stomps on hat*

      This is another example where managers apparently think the customers are stupid.

  14. Sarah Mae*

    An issue with Zoom interview invites we found was gmail converting the time to UTC. It was very confusing.

    I would go with what other people said and list the other time zones which is usually in the detailed invite.

  15. Nev*

    This is third hand, but years ago, I used to work customer service for a company that owned a variety of smaller companies. One of the smaller companies (now shuttered) sold exclusively silk and silk blend clothing. Most of it was thing like long underwear, nightgowns, some blouses and sweaters, and some women’s underwear, but they also sold men’s silk underwear.

    Including men’s silk thongs. All colors, purple was very popular.

    A customer ordered a variety of the men’s silk thongs for her husband, and had the package shipped to her workplace. No problem, we’ll ship anywhere in the US.

    Except.

    Her workplace was a VERY secure government building. Where all incoming packages were opened and searched for security reasons.

    She called us, absolutely LIVID that we had sent her package to her workplace (as directed by her) and it had been OPENED and now everyone knew her husband wore silk thongs.

    Nothing was obviously done for her; she’d been the one to request it go there, she knew her workplaces policies, but still. Funny story that got passed down through the company.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I am so fascinated by stories like this. Had she shipped non-underwear things to herself there and it was just the underwear she was embarrassed work had opened? Did she not know he workplace opened packages? And most importantly, did she never realize that the customer gives the delivery address, or did feel ridiculous about her complaint when she clued in but opted to double down?

    2. Carlie*

      I miss that company! Not for the men’s thongs, though. I coveted that long underwear but when I could finally afford some, they had gone out of business. C’est la vie.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      I’m fuzzy on the details because this was over 30 years ago, but at the care home where my mum used to work at the time, my dad had a letter sent to the work address addressed to my mum’s best friend telling her her copy of the Kama Sutra had been ordered and was on its way. (I think, but not 100% certain, this was in retaliation for another prank). It was opened by their boss. I think the boss just wrote “opened in error” on the envelope and left it for her.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      When your faith in the vast conspiracy overseeing every aspect of our lives outpaces any actual conspiring.

    5. Baldrick*

      I worked in a secure government building years ago but it was international and the regular postal service to homes was unreliable so they had an agreement with employees that our personal mail could be sent to the workplace and if you let them know it was expected then you could pick it up on your way home. It wasn’t something to be abused, so routine post wasn’t sent there, but as an example my passport renewal went there and many people had more expensive deliveries sent to work.

    6. Nina*

      I’ve worked in a company where they handled a lotttttt of inwards shipments, often very weird ones (I once had to order three pounds of frozen cow eyeballs for a work project) and if you had a personal package you wanted sent to work and not opened, you would:

      – email Inwards Goods to tell them it was coming and give them the tracking number
      – make very sure that it was addressed to ‘Name, NO PO NUMBER PERSONAL PARCEL, Company, Courier Address’
      – not do this more than once a month.

  16. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (the new Bob) – This is annoying but common, most of my workplaces have had some variation of “the new Bob” for someone who was a direct replacement.

    It is annoying though – I haven’t been “the new Jane” but if I was, it would be difficult to zip back the “and I’m also a person in my own right”.

    I do think the indecency stuff about Bob is a red herring (in terms of the specific question being asked in the letter). Everyone is thinking in work terms of what Bob’s role was, not about his misdeeds.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Sorry, before anyone else says it, I just realised the predecessor is “they” not “he”, I had taken the name Bob from the title but I don’t think it is in the letter!

    2. Drag0nfly*

      Can you say why it was annoying? I remember visiting my old job and seeing someone new in the receptionist office, who was the new Bob. Bob had previously been the new Anne. But now Bob was the new *me.* We had an amusing few minutes discussing who is the new who, as several people had shifted positions.

      I’ve heard of towns where they give directions based on where things used to be. “Go to where the K-Mart used to be on Sesame Street,” Which is definitely annoying if you’re new and don’t know where Sesame Street is, let alone where the K-Mart was. Especially if someone is young enough to have never heard of K-Mart. If a new company is referring to the new Bob or whomever in similar ways that would definitely get old, double quick.

      But otherwise, it just seems the simplest way to get people up to speed on who is the new person doing whatever role. If I knew to consult Kari on chocolate tea pots, and Kari leaves, telling me her replacement is the new Kari just lets me know that this is my new contact for chocolate tea pots.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > Can you say why it was annoying?

        I think it’s just being referred to as version 2 of another person, rather than in relation to the role. I’d be happy with “This is Soo, Jane’s replacement” or “Soo is taking over the contracts Jane used to handle” or such like. But I’m not a “new” version of someone else. I also likely will bring my own traits and positives to the role and not do it exactly the way Jane did. Perhaps my individualist streak is just too strong.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          I’m individualist, but I wouldn’t have taken that “new” literally in *that* situation. I’m confident no one thought “Bob” should be exactly like me, even though he took over my old role. No one would confuse us, though, as we were demographically dissimilar (race, sex).

          Now if we were talking “the second Mrs. de Winter” on the other hand I think I’d be right there with you in asserting that I’m not a new Rebecca, I’m “Joan.” I notice Daphne DuMaurier never names the second Mrs. de Winter, so I’ll just call her after the actress Joan Fontaine, who played her. And we’ve had at least one letter in the past where I think there was an office full of Mrs. Danvers-types, so I would take a more hardline stance in that situation, too.

      2. metadata minion*

        If it’s just a brief mention the first time I’m introduced to someone, I find it kind of sweet, but in the LW’s example, I would find it very uncomfortable to have people constantly talking about how awesome my predecessor was. I think I’d feel like I could never live up to that standard.

      3. Linden*

        I’m guilty of using “the new [predecessor]” about myself far more than any of my coworkers, who are always quick to point out I’m valued in my own right. I just consider it usrful shorthand; the role is so multifaceted and my job title is so vague as to be functionally meaningless, so “I’m the new ‘Jane'” is the quickest way to convey that I’m now the person responsible for the wide variety of things ‘Jane’ used to handle. It also helps explain to people who knew me in my previous role that no, I can’t pick up those tasks anymore, I’m the new ‘Jane’ now.

    3. bamcheeks*

      If this doesn’t die down, LW, I would start smiling and saying, “I prefer to think of Bob as The Old [MyName]” as you hold your hand out. As long as you keep it light and friendly, it’s a good way to redirect people back to the you-ness of you.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      My read of that letter is the part that is really bugging the OP is the paragraphs of how amazing Bob was and how they couldn’t imagine they could ever replace Bob… but guess what? OP turns out to be OK!

      Now add the arrest to that, and the OP is extra annoyed.

      1. ursula*

        Yeah, it can be weird enough navigating the social/work dynamics when you replace a notable person. You’re trying to establish yourself and create positive new dynamics with people, and this thing is just sticking a big blinking arrow over your head all the time that is inviting people to compare you with your predecessor. For the record, I would also feel weird about being in an environment where everyone was effusively in love with a former staffer who had done maybe a mild sexual indecency (although that arrest could have been for a LOT of different behaviours and I wouldn’t feel equally judgmental of all of them), partially because it would make me ??? about their judgment/culture. I fully get why this is awkward and crappy for the LW, even if it will (hopefully) resolve itself soon.

    5. Sara without an H*

      Yes, OP3, while this is annoying, it’s time-limited. Smile sweetly for the time being, because this behavior will undoubtedly taper off as more people in the organization get to know you.

      Eventually, someone else will be hired, who will become “the new [former employee name].” And eventually, someone will ask “Who is Bob?”

  17. Elizabeth T*

    time zone: Where I think you should make a point is with international calls. Europe goes into daylight savings time ahead of US. Germany isn’t always 7 hours ahead of here. I would include the time zone calculator link Alison provided and be clear about your local time zone for others in your country.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yes, very important for transatlantic. Also remember that some parts of the US don’t use DST at all.

  18. Elsa*

    For letter #5, at my company we work with people from many different time zones. For meetings or interviews, once we set a time we always send a Google Calendar invite, which will then appear on the other person’s Google Calendar at the correct time for them.

    1. KateM*

      Teams does the same, I have gotten many a “this meeting has been adjusted to your time zone” invitation.

      1. Garblesnark*

        Yes, and a few times when someone has been traveling and checked their email, they’ve responded to my invite saying “why is this at 2AM?”

    2. Roland*

      Yeah people are really trying themselves into knows about how exactly to specify your time zone but if you just set the time correctly on your invite then any incorrect assumptions by the other person will be immediately corrected. If they still get it wrong then they aren’t paying attention so it’s unlikely that changing how you casually write your time zone would have made a difference in the first place

      1. Grumpy about timezones*

        Not everything is a calendar invite though – public webinars for example. The ones that don’t include a timezone at all are the worst. Is this already converted to my local time? Or some other timezone that means I can actually attend because I’ll be asleep?

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I usually get calendar invites for public webinars after I register and most of them are recorded, so even if it’s at a time I can’t attend, I do at least have a link to the recording for later.

          There is no reason the interviews the OP is asking about couldn’t all be calendar invites that I can think of.

    3. amoeba*

      Indeed! In an office context, this is why I’ve never had any issues with time zones – I just download the invite and see which time it shows up for me.

      However, the OP sounds as if they’re possibly hiring quite young and inexperienced people – at that age (hell, not so long ago, basically before I started my “professional” career outside of academia!), I wouldn’t have done that but just… looked what it said in the e-mail and then joined at that time. So I’m guessing if there’s actual confusion, the people this happens to are probably not using calendar software for their appointments…

      1. bamcheeks*

        I also don’t know whether Microsoft and Google are always accurate on timezones. A lot of location services always put me about fifteen miles away from where I actually am, despite the fact that I’m in a very densely-populated, urban area of northern England. That doesn’t make any difference to *my* timezone, because I’m in the middle of the country, but there are thousands of places where it would change my timezone and if I’d never used the calendar function in my Gmail account I might not have noticed that it’s an hour ahead or behind.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I’ve had “login from new device in London” before now. I’m about 3 hours away. Again, wouldn’t affect me in terms of time zones since mainland UK only has one time zone, but could quite easily be an issue in the US or Australia, for example.

    4. Nancy*

      Outlook does the same. No need to argue about ET vs EST. Just open the invite and see where Outlook puts it. The person who didn’t show up probably just forgot.

  19. Timezone stickler*

    On the timezones, I have previously had people who are in Eastern Time say EST for a meeting time when they mean EDT, and then seem to think it is my fault for expecting the time be EST.

    Worse, the other month I had a job interview which the company said would be at 10am “your time”, although I was pretty sure they didn’t know which timezone I was in. After I told them, it turned out they meant 4pm my time…

    1. Roland*

      1st paragraph – I think that is a little weird of you, yes. It is way more likely for someone to casually conflate EST and EDT (etc) then to think “hm, well we’re in EDT but I’m going to specify the time in EST for no reason and assume the other person knows a one hour conversion is needed”. I understand the pet peeve, really I do, but realistically it’s wise to understand that EST and EDT are the same thing for most people.

      1. Nebula*

        Again this comes back to whether Timezone stickler is in the US or not. You are assuming they are, and therefore they know what EST and EDT are. If I, in the UK, was told by someone that a meeting was at 11am EST, I’d Google “EST time now” or something to work out the conversion, and have no idea that time was incorrect because I don’t know that it’s used as the catch all term for the time zone all year round. And yes, Google will just give you the time for the time zone you’ve asked for, even if that’s not in use at the time of year you’re checking.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I just tried it and Google told me the correct time as “ET (Eastern Time)” regardless of whether I asked it EDT or EST.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. That’s really overly pedantic in these types of situations. They just mean Eastern and they don’t know the difference, which is, frankly, very very common. (For my part, I always just use “Eastern” or “ET” because I can’t be bothered to remember whether it’s D or S, I don’t always feel like looking it up, and ultimately it doesn’t actually matter. The meeting is at 10am.)

    2. Amy*

      So if the meeting is on June 5th at 10AM US Eastern time, you would expect to meet at 9AM instead of 10AM because that’s the time it would be on December 5th?

      I find that odd.

    3. gyrfalcon*

      The comments here are the first time I’ve learned that people conflate EST and EDT, whether because they don’t think it matters, or because they don’t know the difference.

      I take online classes from someone based in Australia (Sydney time), which are primarily timed for a U.S. audience of evening students. He solved this problem by describing the class time like this:

      “ Time: Sundays 7pm US Eastern time, starting Oct 8th 2023 (The class time is fixed to 7pm, New York, regardless of other time changes).”

      When sending out the initial class email, he always includes (a) a time zone calculator link, and (b) an offer to help anyone with the time zone conversion, if they wish.

  20. ZucchiniBikini*

    The timezone issue has ceased to be a problem for me in terms of actually getting to meetings now that just about all my meetings are on Teams, which handily converts for local time whether I am the meeting-setter or an invitee. I can see how it would be frustrating for phone meetings though. When finding a suitable meeting time (if I’m the setter), I tend to email people offering three options represented in *their* timezone, not mine. This is made easier, of course, by the fact that I am only dealing with people in two other timezones, one of which is only an hour off my own.

  21. Susan*

    When someone says EST, and I think that they really mean EDT, I’ll often ask for a clarification, even when I think I know what they mean. Doing so makes me feel like a fussy old lady (probably true), but it’s better for me than making an assumption, and then worrying whether it’s right. Reading the other comments about EST vs. EDT here today makes me feel less lonely. It’s not just me. Who knew?

    1. serenity*

      I started to write a similar comment. Partly, it can be confusing, because some states don’t observe daylight time. But, I admit, it’s mostly just annoying when meeting notices come in saying “standard” time when it’s July, and I’ve to stop and ponder just as you do even though I know the person just doesn’t understand the difference. I would much rather someone just say “Eastern Time” if they can’t remember whether we are in Daylight or Standard.

    2. musical chairs*

      I don’t understand this; EDT and EST, by definition, never overlap. So if I scheduled a meeting in September for 10EST, your getting additional clarification that I do mean 10 and not 9 doesn’t help you (you know what time I meant) and and doesn’t do anything for me (I’m not going to change it in the future, because, my goodness, who cares except the sliver of a Venn diagram overlap of people making appointments between folks w/variations in Daylight Saving observance and aren’t using an invitation platform that will convert for them (i.e. just about every platform))

      Pretending not to understand what is happening is passive-aggressive, unproductive, and doesn’t make you look more educated or knowledgeable. Just reply all to the invite list, with a marked up pdf of their meeting notice attached, saying, “Actually you mean to say EDT, as it is not yet Eastern Standard Time, as this meeting is set for July.”, like you really want to. Make this year the the year you stand up for the correct usage of EDT in earnest.

      1. Nnt*

        Absolutely! I hire in the US and I only use ET when scheduling, but that’s because I don’t feel like fielding disingenuous questions from people claiming to be confused when they’re really just trying to look more educated, not because I think it’s actually confusing.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah I don’t know why anyone would be confused by this. If we are in standard time now why would I make an appointment using EDT? I wouldn’t. Unless it’s the week where the time shifts and the organizer is trying to help people who might be slow to change their clocks, but computers do that automatically. If it says EST but it’s July, I wouldn’t question do they mean 10 or 9, I’d assume they were using the time standard in effect at that point.

        I suppose this might be confusing if people are meeting across countries and time zones but even then I think the scheduler built in would clarify, like if I say in the email “10 amEST” but it’s July, the time on the invite will not and that is what the person receiving it should go by (assuming these are virtual meetings put on an electronic calendar and not more casual invites for in person meetings, given international discussion here I’m assuming virtual and regardless business meetings are usually entered into an electronic calendar which does these calculations!)

      3. HR Friend*

        I am laughing at these comments, honestly. I have to think the 300 people in the entire world who think so deeply about this have congregated in this comments section.

        I’ve worked with people all over the world for a couple decades, and I’ve never, ever had someone clarify a meeting time because of a DST discrepancy. If I say August 1st at 10am CET, of course I mean 10am in Paris on August 1st. I thought that was blindingly obvious, but maybe not!

      4. a trans person*

        Because I’m autistic and because I have actually experienced a situation where someone used the wrong one, I assumed, and missed the meeting. I genuinely need to think about what people think they mean, it’s a lot of effort, and it causes me anxiety to assume without clarifying. These comments feel super super unkind to us ND people

        1. musical chairs*

          I am not neurotypical :). Not sure if this advice is welcome, but if it helps, you can add the following to your list of knowns when determining what to do in this case: In US, is far rarer for someone to incorrectly use XDT than to incorrectly use XST. Many use XST as a catch all, so, in the spring or summer months if someone says XST, you can assume they’re likely seeking to convey the time they’re coordinating and not any further particularities of the time zone. If you’re looking for a safe assumption to make to get it correct on your end, make one in favor of the numbers in the time rather than the daylight saving designation. Depending on what you’re trying to coordinate, if you or they are able to send a meeting invitation online to confirm, that helps clarify for everyone easily in their own zone, and catches any discrepancies right away.

          Depending on how clarification is requested, in a lot of cultures, many would consider it rude to be picked at about a small error, if it stands to reason that the other party could make a small assumption on what was meant and likely be right. Just as you prioritize clarity at a granular level, others may prioritize meaning at a more holistic level, and realizing how to bridge those gaps from both sides can be useful for maintaining/preserving professional relationships.

      5. Susan*

        If you don’t think that they ever overlap, then I can see why you might think that this is silly. In fact, there is always standard time happening. I used to work in an sector that collected data 24/7/365 and never changed time even when everyone else did.

        Anyway, the last time that I had to check this was when a third-party that we hired to facilitate a webinar sent me a draft invitation that said, in two different places, that the webinar was at 8 PM and 2 PM EST. I’m really glad that I asked, because it turned out that the person was in Europe, and scheduling for a day when Europe had changed their clocks and we wouldn’t have. If our invitees had shown up at either 8 or 2 by their clock, it would have been the wrong time.

        In your example, if you tell me that you want to meet in September at 10 AM EST, if there’s any possibility of confusion (no software generated invitation, etc.), I might say, “You mean 10 daylight savings time, don’t you? Ten when that’s the actual time on your watch?” If you think that’s passive aggressive and unproductive, I don’t think we’d get along very well.

        1. Stipes*

          The biggest example of overlap, is that MST overlaps with MDT every year! An entire state stays in MST during the summer.

          For all I know, there’s some sector on the east coast that doesn’t observe daylight savings time for their business. If you say “ET” or “Eastern”, I’ll assume you mean the normal one for this time of year, but if you specify the opposite of normal, I’ll check for clarification, just in case.

          1. musical chairs*

            Oh I didn’t mean overlap, like two time zones next to each other showing the same time, like your Arizona example. I see how that was unclear. I meant overlap like one person in one distinct location experiencing both daylight saving and standard time at once. For the purposes of what we’re talking about it’s either one or the other and if you’re in a situation where it matters more than normal, you’d know.

        2. musical chairs*

          I legitimately cannot tell if you’re messing with me or not.

          It would not be passive-aggressive to point out the error if you truly needed clarification. At the risk of taking the bait: it would be passive-aggressive to ask a question you know the answer to for the express purpose of correcting someone “even when [you] think [you] know what they mean”. Asking someone “‘Ten when that’s the actual time on your watch?’” is a nakedly disingenuous question. You have to know how that comes across, come on.

    3. ZSD*

      #5 Time Zone
      Keep in mind two things: 1) Not every country changes between daylight savings time and standard time the same week. (I once almost missed a train in France because it turns out Europe moves their clocks forward a week earlier than the US does!) 2) A lot of people say “EST” when they actually mean “EDT.” (This is a pet peeve of mine.)
      These two facts could compound to lead to confusion. It could be that the person you had an interview with is in a country that is still on daylight savings this week, and they assumed the US also was and that you had mistakenly said EST meaning EDT, as so many people do.

    4. lilsheba*

      I always specify the time zone and whether it’s daylight savings or standard time, I like to be precise and accurate and it drives me crazy when people aren’t. If it’s it EST don’t say EDT!

    5. Happy*

      I always check, too. And feel pedantic and odd, but it’s an important clarification!

      I was told to start a new job (in a new state that I had not yet moved to) at 8 a.m. EST (in summer). I wrote back to ask if they meant EDT, since doesn’t X state use daylight savings time?

      The HR person wrote back, yes, I should plan to start at 8 EST.

      It took a few more back and forths before I was finally confident that I should be starting at 8 EDT.

  22. Juli*

    Give all times in UTC+-0 and say that you are doing so. And use a sensible date format, aka yyyy-mm-dd.

    1. amoeba*

      “Sensible” is… very US-centric here. For many people in the world, a “sensible” format is dd.mm.yyyy and the US version is super confusing – if it’s ambiguous, I’d just go for spelling out the month or something to make it clear! (so, August 7th instead of 08/07 or 07.08.)

      1. Juli*

        ?

        The sensible date I gave is not US centric, it’s very far from US centric and is the format that avoids the month day issue since it’s the only format that does not come in mmdd or ddmm. It’s also very sorting friendly.

        1. amoeba*

          Huh, interesting. To be honest, I only knew that month before day was US (and it certainly confuses people in Europe, who are very used to day before month). I didn’t know the US version was still different from this – I do wonder whether there’s a country where yyyy/mm/dd is actually the commonly used standard then?

          (I have used it for stull like folder names because we’re international and it’s good for sorting. But it does always give me pause for a moment and I need to translate in my head.)

          1. Calpurrnia*

            yyyy-mm-dd is the ISO standard format for dates (look up ISO 8601). As a data analyst, I also personally love it because it sorts correctly. dd-mm-yyyy and mm-dd-yyyy both do not sort into the correct order. The US mm/dd one is slightly better, but it still sorts all the January dates first, then all the February dates, regardless of year; the UK version dd/mm sorts all the 1st of the months, then all the 2nd of the months, which is absolutely ridiculous. ISO 8601 for life.

          2. Hrodvitnir*

            I’m from Aotearoa so use dd/mm and mm/dd hurts me deeply.

            I do use yyyy/mm/dd for folders though, for the stated sorting reasons. It is the clearest, most consistent date format. Anything but mm/dd/yyyy. (I’m very used to reading American dates, but if it’s something that’s plausible either way I will misread it.)

      2. Lost Clone*

        We work with international customers and suppliers over a number of continents – my advice is also to always spell out the month if you’re talking to someone overseas.

        I also don’t think the above format is sensible for the US at all, who use mm-dd-yyyy and I’m fairly certain don’t refer to UTC on a regular basis.

      3. Myrin*

        What Juli proposed is actually the European (and certainly other places which I can never keep track of) format, just backwards, so it would actually be more confusing for Americans, I reckon.
        I definitely agree that it’s always easier to simply spell out the month’s name, though.

      4. RabbitRabbit*

        The US-centric version would be mm-dd-yyyy.

        Working in medical research in the US where international involvement is common, I’ve grown fond of yyyy-mmm-dd if alpha characters are allowed, meaning 2023-Nov-06 for today. It helps dispel any confusion over the actual date.

        1. mskyle*

          Yes, I remember test tube labels being such a pain in the butt when I worked in research with people from all over! So many times you had to be like, “well, if this is Julie’s handwriting, this sample is from May 11th, but if it’s Stefan’s it’s from November 5th.”

      5. Adric*

        It’s the official ISO 8601 date format, where “ISO” stands for International Standards Organization. Seems non US-centric to me.

        It also has the advantage of being consistently big-endian (every digit represents a larger time period than the succeeding digit). That means that sorting a collection of dates numerically or ASCIIbetically (I will accept that ASCII is US-centric, but “Unicodabetically” doesn’t scan as well) is the same as sorting them chronologically. Seems sensible to me.

      6. Nina*

        YYYY-MM-DD is literally the ISO (international) standard.

        mm-dd-yyyy is a US abomination that requires clarification, but honestly I clarify all dates coming from the US, because I do know people who express it as YYYYDDMM, which, whyyyyy?

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        Which would be awesome and amazing!!! I’m all for the US switching to the metric system. So much easier to use and work with.

    2. WS*

      I’ve worked in countries with yyyy-mm-dd and countries with dd-mm-yyyy and consider both “sensible” because they go from smallest to largest unit or largest to smallest unit. mm-dd-yyyy always messes me up for a minute.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, same. I’m sure it’s chicken-and-egg but I know that in the US you’re more likely to say ‘October thirty-one’ so it makes more sense to also write 10/31, where as in the UK we say ‘the thirty-first of October’ so it makes more sense to write 31/10. MM/DD always confuses me for a bit, especially if it’s one that could be a date either way round (like today, 06/11 in the UK but 11/06 in the US – is that the 11th of June?)

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          There’s a horrible example of a bunch of people getting permanently excluded from the US because (long story short) on a similar “could be either way” date an airline sent through departures data to US Immigration in European format and the system didn’t notice, so it looked like *everybody* had overstayed their visas/ESTAs. It only came to light months later when those passengers tried to reenter the US and were flagged.

          I routinely have to get Europeans to sign forms bound for the US, and I simply insist on “month in words” to avoid confusion, and it then doesn’t matter if they write 6 Nov or November 6th, etc.

        2. Red Flags Everywhere*

          What really sucks is how Outlook will accept a meeting invite using the local time zone instead of your usual time zone. With no warning. Definitely complicates things when people are traveling.

    3. Ferret*

      yyyy-mm-dd is also much better for filenaming as it means documents get sorted by date rather than day number when you sort alphabetically

      1. bamcheeks*

        *gripe* I’ve started doing this, but only because Sharepoint is so much worse at sorting than good old Explorer. You didn’t *need* to include a date in your filename when “sort by date” was always easily accessible and accurate. It feels like going back to Windows 3.1.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      If OP #5 is scheduling zoom interviews, the date is unlikely to be a major issue. They usually happen in the next week or two, and if you have agreed to meet Tuesday, you are unlikely to be wondering if 11/7/23 means tomorrow or next July.

  23. anononon*

    Timeanddate.com is absolutely invaluable. It’s in my work email signature and attached to all Outlook meeting invitations.

    But folk in the US: please be mindful that if you write today as 11/6 that means 11th June in literally the rest of the world…

        1. Myrin*

          Which a lot of people don’t. Heck, I do know and yet I get confused regularly when I’m not paying attention and am not in a “this is American writing” mindsest.

          1. Ferret*

            Awkwardly enough the way I remember this is using 9/11, because I know that was in September not November

    1. Andrew*

      > literally the rest of the world…

      I will admit this is a particular pet peeve of mine, but it is factually untrue that DD/MM(/YY) is the date format in “literally the rest of the world.” It’s true that it’s the most common date format but it’s certainly not the universal outside the United States.

      For one thing, the Chinese-, Japanese- and Korean-speaking world (which is roughly a fifth of the entire world population) use YYYY/MM/DD as their date format.

      (Hungary also uses this date format for the record).
      So today’s date in Chinese is 2023年11月6日, typically abbreviated 2023.11.06 (in Taiwan at least). If stating just a date and a month it would ALWAYS be month-day, never day-month (11月6日, never 6日11月).

      1. I Have RBF*

        This is actually sensible, and lines up with ISO 8601.

        When you work with data, you look at things through a sorting lens.

  24. bamcheeks*

    I have learned SO MUCH about American time-zones from this post, and LW, I would just say that tons of stuff that people are saying which relates to scheduling with other Americans who are also used to juggling timezones simply will not work when you’re talking about people elsewhere in the world, never mind young people who are relatively new to the workplace. All the stuff about EST/EDT/ET would never have occurred to me, and the advice about “google the city the other person is in” only works if you assume that your interviewees know what city you’re in, AND know that the US has multiple timezones, that it has daylight savings time, and that time is set at the state level and therefore some cities might be different from other cities in the same timezone by longitude. None of these things would be obvious to me as a forty-something English person, and would have been even less obvious to me as an 18-21 year old. And Google wouldn’t help me if I didn’t know that you were using “Eastern Time” to mean whatever-the-time-is-on-the-East-coast-whether-it’s-summer-or-winter or EST to mean colloquially-everyone-knows-that-includes-EDT, or I confused Washington with Washington.

    So yeah, I think anything that assumes a baseline knowledge of how the US organises its timezones is going to leave you sat in an empty room. I would definitely go for using software like Teams/Google calendar that automatically translates into the candidate’s local timezone. However, I would also bear in mind that young candidates may not be used to using scheduling software (and may not have email accounts that automatically support it), and that Google and Microsoft may not have accurate timezones for their local region, particularly if they are from smaller countries, or live near other timezones, or there’s some other idiosyncratic thing about their local time. So also include a link to something that explains where you are, what timezone you are in, and what the candidate needs to google to check that they’ve got both your and their own timezone right.

    1. slipjack*

      County level, not just state! For example, my state is all Eastern time, except for a small sliver that’s Central time, because it abuts a larger metropolitan area in a Central time state.

      Federalism strikes again!

      1. Avery*

        Oh, is that why that chunk of Indiana is Central time? I never thought about it, but that makes sense! (Chicagolander here.)

        1. ENFP in Texas*

          Yeah, that part of Indiana is basically “Chicago’s eastern suburbs”… but don’t tell them that, they tend to get upset. =D

          — former Chicagolander

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I hire a lot of people who are in the US on visas – the time zones are confusing enough if you’ve lived here for 30+ years, if you’ve been here for college and not had to travel outside your campus, you probably have very little context for the nuance between EDT and EST.

      I love that zoom auto-converts the time, it saves so many headaches.

    3. Roland*

      > And Google wouldn’t help me if I didn’t know that you were using “Eastern Time” to mean whatever-the-time-is-on-the-East-coast-whether-it’s-summer-or-winter or EST to mean colloquially-everyone-knows-that-includes-EDT

      I don’t blame you for your impression from these comments, but this isn’t a real problem outside of an oddly large group of pedantic commenters.

      1. Antilles*

        Yeah. In terms of actually arriving on time, this just isn’t actually an issue.
        If you just say “11:20 AM Eastern Time”, nobody will ever be unclear about what you mean. I switched to this years ago to avoid having to deal with the whole EDT/EST thing and not once has anyone ever asked for clarification about how that interacts with Daylight Savings, nor has anyone ever shown up on the wrong hour.

    4. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

      I work for a global company – I’m based in the UK – we literally have offices all around the world. We received an invite for a global town hall which spelled out exactly what time it occurred (is occurring) for most of the relevant time zones:

      “Our next Global townhall will take place today at 11am EST / 1pm BRT / 4pm GMT / 5pm CET / 6pm SAST.”

      I am not familiar with BRT or SAST is (I looked – it’s Brazil and South AFrica) but I do know my time zone (GMT) so there is far less likelihood of confusion. If you’re setting up a meeting where you know that is spans multiple time zones, it seems a small ask for the meeting host to clarify relevant time zones – it is far less likely to result in confusion or missed meetings or people trying to start meetings early than expecting people to just know (or to Google it).

    5. Turquoisecow*

      The standard vs daylight time thing isn’t really an issue – people will refer to whatever time standard they’re in. If it’s July and we’re in Daylight Saving Time, people are not going to mean standard time even if they write EST. It’s only the pedantics who will care, most people will not even notice.

      1. bamcheeks*

        But this isn’t obvious to people outside the US, which is the constituency that LW is trying to organise meetings with! If you say EST during the summer, and I google it because I don’t know how EST relates to my local time and Google gives me the answer for EST when you’re technically in EDT, I’m going to be there at the wrong time!

      2. Stipes*

        Maybe more people are aware of this on the west coast than on the east, because we interact with Arizona which DOES use MST during daylight savings time.

        I’m not saying it’s even most people in the west (or saying that we’re not pedants), but it’s just not true that daylight and standard times are absolutely-never both relevant.

  25. Melissa*

    I absolutely love that 4 went to the store, bought a new envelope, peeled the label etc etc. That is 100% something I would have done in my 20s! My tolerance for awkwardness and for handling uncomfortable situations was zero.

    1. Straight Laced Sue*

      In my early twenties, I once CLIMBED OUT MY BEDROOM WINDOW in order to avoid telling my housemate that he wasn’t on his own in the house and that I could hear him extravagantly singing/yodling his heart out. Then I let myself in the front door, and called “hi, I’m home!”.
      The extra awful thing is that I think he SAW me climbing out the window!!

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      Yep, in my 20s I’d have been equally mortified and very creative about fixing the “problem.” Now, in my 40s I’d just add it to his mail pile and fantasize about waving it at him yelling, “Hey, Joe, your 2024 Harnessed Hunks calendar is here!”

      Maybe in 20 more years I’ll be out of fucks enough to actually do that.

      1. cleo*

        My mom worked at a bookstore when the Madonna book with racy art photos came out. It was sealed in plastic and I think behind the counter.

        My mom was in her 50s, definitely out of fucks, and delighted in telling stories about how she and her co-workers would shout to each other about pulling out the Madonna book “for the gentleman” when embarrassed looking men tried to ask about it discretely.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          Ha, my sister was the night manager at a convenience store in the 90s and her favorite customers were the ones who tried to buy dirty magazines on the sly, usually by piling a bunch of other stuff on top of them. She said the place was full of beer and cigarette ads that were mostly sexy women in skimpy outfits anyway so why be shy?

    3. SofiaDeo*

      Fedex charges for blank envelopes? Since when? I never paid until I actually sent something, I could get a box or envelope from them and only paid when I actually shipped whatever…..

  26. Don'tChewMeUp*

    In my career, we all move positions every couple of years, so it’s common to be new and to be referred to as the new X. The only time I insisted on not being called that was when I replaced a guy named Toy.

  27. Jenga*

    I am a remote worker who lives in a different time zone than the one I work in. I do all the time conversions.

    if I were interviewing for a job, I would reply “Yes, I am available at xx a.m. your time zone (yy a.m. my time zone)” so the interviewer knows I understand what time the interview is.

    1. Pizza Rat*

      I do it whether I’m sending or discussing times for an invite I’ll be receiving in the future. I don’t think it can be done enough.

      I’ve typically done both, writing or saying 9:00 a.m. Eastern/8:00 a.m. Central when I’ve talked about times in emails, but after reading the comments here, I’m thinking using the cities might be better.

    2. Kay*

      I came looking for this discussion – everyone should do this! If the OP is interviewing, especially for international and new to the workforce, they should 100% clarify.

      If an interviewee said 11am I would have immediately said “Your time or mine? It is noon here right now so 11 for you X for me?”.

      I’m currently in Arizona, where daylight savings is thankfully not observed, and when proposing meetings it is amazing how many times (even with clarification!) people in other time zones get it wrong. I can literally say “how about 11am Arizona time”, get a response of “can you do 10am instead?”, rearrange my schedule to make it work, only to discover that they failed to realize that Arizona time and Mountain time aren’t always the same and they really meant 11… sigh.

  28. cabbagepants*

    #5 Do be sure you communicate your own time zone correctly! I’ve seen people in the US use daylight and standard time interchangeably (e.g. writing PDT when they mean PST) and that would break any well-intended system!

    1. Ex-prof*

      You remind me of the time I fed all my physical therapy appointments into my calendar as “PT appt”. The calendar duly changed all of them to Pacific Time.

  29. Pocket Mouse*

    #2 – Are you sure the junior employee’s name is Ruby, and not Amethyst? :D

    Love the Steven Universe reference, intentional or not!

  30. Anon for this*

    One thing that has kept me from purchasing a She-wee (or similar device under a different name) is concern about the possible return address. I live in a building where packages too large for the mail slot are often received by neighbors. And I certainly don’t want to risk using my work address.

    1. münchner kindl*

      You don’t have the option of using a post box at the post office, or an amazon locker or similar? (we have postboxes for packages that don’t require special treatment; you get an email when the parcel has arrived, go to the post box and login with your own card, get a PIN via SMS, open your locker and get the parcel. You can also send return via pre-printed return labels).

    2. Queer Earthling*

      If you use Amazon, the return address will be Amazon. You can also consider looking at adult stores; many indie/feminist/inclusive adult stores sell gender-affirming products including STP devices, and you can check their FAQ for how they’ll ship. Most use an alternate and innocuous name for privacy purposes that you can still use for returns if there’s an issue.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      FYI, you could tell your neighbors you’re taking it camping. Or to a concert/event so you don’t have to sit down in the port-a-potty. There’s so many reasons women use these that are not about medical issues.

  31. Seahorse*

    Sometimes I’m surprised about what gets this comment section fired up. Pranks, birthdays, phobias, and apparently time zone notation.

    Anyhow, regarding #5, just specify the time zone. If it’s getting confused and people are missing the connection, does it matter who is technically responsible? Do the LW’s colleagues feel that it’s supposed to be a test of the interviewees? IMO, this is a case where being clear is more important than being “right.”

    Although maybe the colleagues don’t like time zones because they once said EST instead of EDT and caused mass chaos, so they gave up on time clarity forevermore.

    1. münchner kindl*

      Yes, this: the goal of communication is to be understood by everybody, so good communication, especially in business, is to make sure that everybody understands you, so it’s better to err on the side of caution by being redundant: “meeting is 10 am in New York, Eastern Standard Time”, instead of figuring out who’s “responsible”.

      I like Alison’s suggestion of including a link to a converter, I wouldn’t have thought of that!.

      And some websites with forums convert to your local time, and some don’t. Some software (Teams, Outlook?) convert calendar invites to local time, some don’t.

      Adding for clarifaction costs far less than missed meetings, makes things go smoother. And it sometimes makes the international people apprectiated that the Yanks remember other countries exist, too, instead of expecting everything to follow US standards.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      Right? I’ve definitely said EST when it was actually EDT season, and the world actually didn’t end. I’m sure some people rolled their eyes at my ignorance but I’m coping.

    3. K8T*

      I am very happy that luckily it seems I don’t work with anyone who has that much energy to spend on something that for people in the US (clarifying to cut off more pedantry :)) is common sense that regardless of the middle letter, they mean the region not the time of year.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Scrolling through I realized I should have guessed the time zones would generate the most passion, because they are the most minor issue and definitely not going to change. (Most of my comments have been re time zones; there is digital blood on my hands.)

    5. Lost in space*

      I’m a plus-sized woman who has an extremely image-conscious mother but dresses very casually and very rarely wears makeup (basically only for parties, dates, interviews, and somewhere I know I’ll have pictures taken of me). My mother has made me feel like crap my whole life for dressing the way I do and not wearing makeup. I can’t help but think if I didn’t weigh what I do the issue wouldn’t be such a big deal. Luckily I’ve never heard of any issues about it from my superiors but who knows.

  32. Engineer*

    To all the lovely timezone pendants in the comments today, allow me to assure you that the American Public Education System does *not* teach a distinction between EST and EDT for abbreviations. They didn’t teach it 20 years ago when I was in school, they didn’t teach 10 years when my cousin was in school, and they don’t teach it now that my nephew is in school.

    In fact, current practice is to teach ET, CT, MT, or PT, dropping standard/daylight entirely. So enjoy the pendantry, because according to today’s youth, you’re wrong anyway.

    1. bamcheeks*

      But LW says they are talking to people outside the US, so “normal” usage in the US is only going to make things harder to google!

      I really think sticking to UTC is the way to go here. If you don’t know what UTC means and you look it up online, you’re going to get an accurate answer. Stuff that’s colloquially normal or made more human-friendly, like shortened versions or city names, is much better if you’re talking to someone with the same set of assumptions and familiarity as you, but it dramatically increases the chances of confusion if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know what it means and googles it.

      1. bamcheeks*

        amazing– I’ve just googled “12noon chicago time in london” and the top three hits include both

        Chicago time to London time conversion
        12.oo Monday in Chicago is 18:00 in london

        and

        London time to Chicago time conversion
        “London is 5 hours ahead of Chicago”

        Both are from the same website!

        1. kalli*

          Yeah, and if daylight saving changes in one and not the other between now and Monday, they can both be accurate.

          1. Bruce*

            Ugh, DST ended a week earlier in the EU and UK, we should be synched now. And some of my co-workers in Asia want me to move my evening calls to an hour later so they don’t have to login so early, while others insist on keeping their meetings at the same time for their time zone… so some nights I get to finish up an hour earlier on standard time, while other nights not… Personally I think DST is a fiasco, and as an amateur astronomer in a northern latitude it means I have to stay up pretty late to see the stars in the summer :-b

          1. bamcheeks*

            I honestly can’t think of a single time I’ve *ever* had to do a cross-time-zone thing for a work purpose– I feel like I must have had to do a straight-forward one like UK-France or UK-Germany one at least once, but it would have been at least 10-15 years ago and I can’t think of a specific occasion. So all of these, “everyone knows that” and “the obvious way to do it is…” is going right over my head because *none* of it is obvious to me, and that’s probably going to be true for a lot of people LW is trying to interview!

            1. rollyex*

              Jobs differ. I’ve run online events with speakers in four countries and participants in 12 or more countries.

              I work extremely closely with colleagues in one country in Latin America and others in two countries in Europe.

              If you are doing this a lot, you need to use a good time zone converter. Even if you are not doing it a lot, be aware they exist.

              And that’s why in communication with an interview subject or a “stranger”, it’s important to be explicit and helpful. Don’t use technical approaches such as UTC offset. Say “I’m on Central European time – I think you are on the East Coast of the US, so let’s talk at 9am your time which is 3pm mine”

          2. UKDancer*

            This is what I use when I’m arranging a meeting with people overseas to make sure I’m not asking for a meeting at 3am. I then put in the calendar invite the time I think I’ve booked for and ask people to check I’m correct before dialing in.

            If I’m accepting an invite from someone in a different time zone I usually check with them what time they think it is and make sure we’re in agreement. I mean usually it’s someone in Europe so they’re either one or two hours ahead of me (unless it’s Portugal).

        2. Lily Rowan*

          That’s because Google results have been taken over by AI-written sites that are good at SEO but not good at facts.

        3. MsSolo (UK)*

          Depends on whether it’s looking for the difference on Saturday vs Sunday, google at the moment!

      2. rolyex*

        “I really think sticking to UTC is the way to go here. ”

        Many many people don’t know what UTC is – at least in my work experience with events in the US, Africa and Europe.

        The way to do it for clarity is to specify the time zone and either look up the recipient’s time on a reliable converter, or put the looking up on them.

        People in Prague know CET. People in Abuja know WAT. People in the the US know PT. Very few know people UTC and would find that bizarre. GMT is better known but obnoxious outside the UK I think.

        Also, this “in fact, current practice is to teach ET, CT, MT, or PT, dropping standard/daylight entirely” I see so many screw ups in writing by people in the US not mixing up ST and DT. The time we use for meetings is the time on the date of the meeting.

        1. bamcheeks*

          But that’s what I mean– UTC is sufficiently technically and unfamiliar that *most* people will google it, and if you google it you’re overwhelmingly likely to get a correct answer because it’s technical and precise. Whereas anything that is person-friendly and local is more likely to be misunderstood once you’re outside a local context because there are multiple interpretations and there’s no guarantee that Google will pick the right one.

          1. kalli*

            Then again, when I’m converting UTC-5 to UTC +1030 I’m always messing up because first I have to check what zone it actually is and whether it’s standard or daylight to figure out whether it’s UTC-5 or UTC-4, add +5 to +10.5 (not -5+10.5), and then remember ‘an hour later but the night before’ or ‘that time but next morning’ and it’s just faster to dump the locations into a converter that puts everything in the one format for me, and I get one answer to remember.

          2. rollyex*

            I’m not going to write to work/professional colleagues with terms that so unknown enough that they have to Google to understand what I’m saying. That’s a bad bad look.

            If we’re launching a rocket or scheduling something highly technical, maybe, but in basic business correspondence, no way.

            I’ve worked it out with quality time converters and a little thought “5:30am my time (New York) – which 6pm your time (you’re in Dhaka, right)”

      3. Lola*

        I agree that people should definitely be using UTC when dealing with international coworkers / clients / etc, but with the resistance most people from the US seem to have, redundancy is the only way to make it happen. So one could schedule something at 10 a.m. ET (UTC-5) and be done with it.

        I also find it amusing that people are giving examples where everyone knows where their coworkers are and their timezones, when the original question was about scheduling interviews with international candidates. OP might be scheduling tens of interviews a day, doesn’t know the interviewees, and is having repeated trouble with this, so clearly something isn’t working. Also in the back-and-forth they mentioned, the candidate answered 11a.m. would work for them without mentioning a timezone “attached” to that time – the person responsible for scheduling NEEDS to check for this.

    2. Danish*

      I think I only became aware of the distinctiom at most 3 years ago and I’m about to turn 40! I definitely did not grow up being taught that EDT even existed.

      1. Orange_Erin*

        I learned today that there was a separate EDT distinction – I’m 37 and I always thought I was pretty savvy when it came to time zones.

    3. ClaireW*

      People live outside the US though, that’s kind of a whole thing, and since you don’t change your clocks when European countries do, we do need to know which timezone you’re talking about _including_ daylight savings. “Young people in the US think this is normal” isn’t a good justification for leaving out crucial info, I shouldn’t have to guess which city you’re in to work out which time zone you might be using.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        But you definitely do need to know the city if you’re not getting a calendar invite, because not all of the US changes time at the same time or at all.

        1. ClaireW*

          Oh for sure, that’s what I was (poorly) saying – I want the person arranging things to tell me, not for me to be trying to google “X company office location” or looking for the interviewer’s location on linkedIn so that I can _guess_ the time – I’ve been there before and it was sooo much added stress on top of normal interview stress.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Yes! To ever-deeper pedantry in the comments as today’s surprise sub-theme!

      I say we hit the Oxford comma on Wednesday.

    5. lilsheba*

      oh that would drive me so crazy. I’m hoping it will be true some day though, if we ever drop standard time entirely and just stay on daylight savings like I want.

    6. Don't Pedant the Pedants*

      There is no American Public Education System. Each state is different and different districts within each state are different and different schools in different districts are different. You, your cousin, and your nephew have not experienced the entirety of the American Public Education System because it is not one system. I learned the difference in my American public school.

      1. Engineer*

        Between the 3 of us we learned in 12 different states, so I have a pretty good idea of what’s being taught across the board. And there *are* federal requirements for what must be taught, or else every state would run wildly in every direction. Yes, each state does still set standards beyond the federal level, but the federal level still exists as the bare minimum.

        And at least 12 states, in the last 20 years, do not teach any distinction between EST and EDT.

  33. Lisa*

    My company is half in Michigan and half in Arizona, which doesn’t observe DST, so the offset changes twice a year (like today!). Discussions of time will usually say something like 3 MI/1 AZ so that everyone is on the same page.

  34. Zarniwoop*

    I know it’s a bad idea but I bet if #3 responded to being introduced as the “new Bob” with “Except I keep my pants on” it would stop pretty quick.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      My brain immediately went there too!

      For my own “New Bob” experience, I was lucky in that I (a bearded, very masculine presenting guy) introduced myself to a department as “I’m the new Martha.” That got a chuckle and helped break the ice. One of the machinists actually went there and said Martha had better legs, so I smiled and said, “You’ve never seen me in a kilt, laddie.”

  35. Cazaril*

    For LW5, I spent years arranging teleconferences with international researchers, and I would spell things out fully in the invite, with careful reference to the World Clock meeting planner beforehand, eg “can we all do 5pm CET/4pm UK/9 am CT/8 am PT?” I understand why the LW may not want to go to that much trouble for a lot of interviews, but in this case my job was to make sure the meeting happened, and this was the best way. In her position, I would at least always say that the interview was 11am ET, and follow up with a calendar invite.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, same. I have sent many an email like that, even within the company! (So a group of people who worked together regularly and should have been good with knowing HQ was however many hours off from them.)

      I would definitely do that favor for a young interviewee.

  36. rolyex*

    “My colleagues think the burden should be on the candidate to figure it out and be on time. ”

    Your colleagues are pretty-high handed, and probably hurting your company in small ways.

    Communications is two-way – you should try to make things clear and recipients of information should be sure they are clear. The responsibility lies on both sides and there is no downside to trying to be extra-clear in what you send out.

    “I would at least always say that the interview was 11am ET, and follow up with a calendar invite.”

    THIS.

    1. Pita Chips*

      I agree. It’s not enough to tell and assume. Part of communication is making sure you are understood.

    2. Lily Potter*

      In my mind, once an interviewer has been very explicit about the time zone thing, the burden falls on the job candidate. By explicit I’m thinking something written out like “Interview will start at 1:00 MT/3:00 pm ET”. If the candidate messes up the time at that point, it’s on them and isn’t a very good look – if they can’t figure out time zones in an interview, what are they going to do to your clients? Of course, I’m the one who looks askance on job candidates that don’t enclose a cover letter with their resume when the posting specifically says to submit one, so I may be more rigid than most. The positions I’ve hired for heavily involve being able to follow detailed written instructions, so messing up on a time zone or not submitting all required documents is a fail.

      1. rollyex*

        “If the candidate messes up the time at that point, it’s on them and isn’t a very good look – if they can’t figure out time zones in an interview, what are they going to do to your clients”

        Does everyone work with clients in these jobs? Does everyone even work across time zones?

        For sure, if the job has elements of that (or even just attention to detail or collaboration in an office environment), then fair enough – you’re using this as a minor test. Makes sense.

        But if the hiring is for, I don’t know, cooks who don’t deal with time zones or people in other places, then the burden is not helping the goal of hiring the best people for that position.

        1. rollyex*

          Adding, in my communications I try to model the behavior I want from my direct report. There is an argument to be said that being clear with the applicant is analogous to clarity we want to exhibit with external stakeholders, such as clients or others. At least until they are on the team, they are a stakeholder we want to impress.

  37. Safely Retired*

    Regarding #2, Ruby and the dress code, I would add that falling within office norms is a minimum standard, there are places where that sort of thing can inhibit advancement. If Ruby is someone of whom better things are expected in the future it would be a shame if her attire was (unconsciously?) weighed against her.

    1. triss merigold*

      Maybe, but I have to say I don’t love that makeup was mentioned. OP didn’t outright say that Pearl disliked Ruby’s lack of makeup but it was sort of implied. Sure, she can dress nicer but once someone starts putting expectations on a woman to wear makeup is where I start to think they just have unreasonable biases.

      1. lilsheba*

        YES! No woman should be “expected” to wear makeup, that is just ridiculous. I never wear makeup and I work just fine without it.

      2. JustaTech*

        I’m both frustrated and amused by the makeup thing. Does makeup cancel out casual clothing?

        For example, today I am wearing a (soft) blazer and pinstripe slacks, but no makeup. My coworker has amazing eyeliner, and is wearing leggings and a t-shirt.

        Who is more “professional”?
        Depending on who you ask, me, her, neither, or both. Which proves you can’t win.

      3. I Have RBF*

        This.

        I’m enby, but get “read” as a “woman” due to the fact that I have big boobs. I don’t wear makeup, period. If my boss’s boss told me I needed to start wearing makeup I would probably a) see red, b) start sending out my resume all over the place, and c) talk to an employment lawyer. Makeup is so 1980, IMO, right along with nylons.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      Right, but it’s still discrimination. Us plus size folks are often judged more harshly for not being sufficiently/overly feminine in our appearance. Yes, it may hold us back professionally if we fall outside of those expectations, but it doesn’t make it right.

    3. Nope*

      Nah. Fat people (I am one) can wear identical clothes as thin people and still be perceived much differently. It’s about fatphobia, not Ruby. If she’s wearing the same types of clothes as others in the office and only she is complained about, then the person complaining is showing bias, and that’s not Ruby’s problem, it’s the complainer’s, and the org needs to tell them that.

  38. musical chairs*

    I’m truly baffled by #5. Wouldn’t these be virtual interviews by necessity? Every major virtual meeting platform converts the time between attendees when you send and invitation. This person is just late.

    You can clarify the time zone all you want and get as pedantic as your heart desires, but no one should have to google anything. You’d be providing a link and description for an extra layer of clarity and something for them to confirm against to make sure it converted right.

    1. münchner kindl*

      Is the company using major virtual meeting platform, or something else?

      When I get a zoom invite, I don’t remember date and time, just the link to the meeting and password if necessary.

      I also wouldn’t think to look at meeting software when I get a normal email from company with text, which it sounds like, and I enter the appointment in my local calendar system.

      If it’s one compay using outlook, sending an outlook invite might work, but if it’s external candidates, you can’t expect (demand) everybody to use outlook.

      And yes, the extra layer of clarity as redundancy is good communication practice, instead of expecting certain practices to be standard, which are never 100% standard, but only 90% or less.

      1. musical chairs*

        The letter writer said they were using Zoom.

        You don’t have to insist anyone use any particular email program because if you’re setting up a call, you’re usually not just agreeing on a time to call and then picking up the phone at that time, especially not internationally. You’re likely ending the correspondence by sending a meeting invite from your email to their email with a link to some platform there the meeting will take place like Teams or Zoom or WebEx or whatever. The recipient can then save the meeting to their calendar and it will convert the time.

        I don’t understand the breathlessness around this topic. This is not rocket science. In almost every case of this situation nowadays, nothing extra needs to be asked of anyone involved, so long you just…use the tools that are available to just about everyone.

        I’m raising my own blood pressure trying to empathize with people on this and it’s only 8:36*. This is just not a problem, this interviewer will not get this job cause they simply missed their interview!

        *I’m not telling you what time zone or city or if it’s even am or pm where I am in ANY KNOWN FORMAT because none of you deserve to know if I am personally observing daylight saving or not and I will not be answering any pedantic clarifying questions.

        1. JustaTech*

          The breathlessness on this topic: The time change in the US was yesterday so time/time zones are on people’s minds (and generally in a negative way from what I’ve seen).

          But more than that – I’ve observed that people tend to get very riled up about trivial things, and more so when they’re under stress (IRL and online). If I had to guess, I would say it’s because it feels like a “safe” outlet for emotions generated by another situation entirely where folks either can’t change anything or don’t feel safe expressing their opinions/thoughts.
          Stuff like time zones or the Oxford comma or what have you are like a safety vent on a steam engine – non-productive ways to let off excess energy.

          1. musical chairs*

            I’m in the US, personally going to claim eastern pacific daylight time in dd-yyyyyy-mm format for this comment, ;). Maybe the time change was making the blood pressure rise worse haha.

            But you make a good point and thinking about it this way may let me have a bit more compassion (maybe) for what sometimes feels like pretty disingenuous claims of burden. Barring constraints related to identity, culture, disability, etc., which may add layers of complexity to communication, I just think it’s always easier to let the small things go, especially when it means you can be kind (and, at work, effective). Pedantry for its own sake really gets to me! It’s often so petty and alienating in a world that could use so much less of both.

    2. ClaireW*

      Unfortunately, I have more than once been asked to attend an interview where the email just had a zoom link (or phone number) and a time listed in the text, rather than an actual invite, so I suspect that’s what the LW5’s workplace is doing. And yeah moving to a real invite calendar system would solve this presumably.

  39. I should really pick a name*

    #5
    At the end of the day, you don’t want them to miss the interview, so it’s best not to get hung up on who’s responsible for making sure you’re on the same page.

    If there’s ambiguity, just follow up. If they say they’re available at 11, you can email them to ask if they mean their time zone or yours.

  40. Delta Delta*

    #3 – I think if this got old for me, I might say something like, “More like Bob is the former Delta, am I right?” Say it in kind of a jovial, jocular way. that should make the introducer laugh, and it might tamp down the “new Bob” stuff. then if the other person asks about Bob, OP could say something like, “he sure left big shoes to fill, but he’s doing awesome over in [whatever role].” And then move on.

    1. Gamma Ray*

      I hate “the new Bob,” and I have noticed that people referred to as “the new Bob” also hate it. Whenever I hear, “Delta is the new Bob,” I respond with, “Maybe Bob was the pre-Delta.”

  41. Ex-prof*

    LW #3– I’d be hard put to avoid interupting the long introductions of “the new Bob” by piping up brightly “But I don’t plan on publicly exposing myself!”

    But yeah, this sounds fairly normal (the nomenclature, not the public exposure) and I don’t think 4 weeks in is too long for people to still consider you the new Bob. Someday they’ll consider him the old [Your Name].

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Or something like “but I’m wearing pants!”*

      *not really, but I am a little baffled at the cognitive dissonance of someone being Such! A! Great! Employee!**

      **except he just can’t stop exposing himself in public?!

  42. Hiring Mgr*

    I’m slightly baffled by the time zone question. When you send a Zoom invite, that’s usually contained within a calendar invitation which would already have the time scheduled.

    If I’m sending an invitation for a 2pm ET meeting, everyone receiving that invite gets it in their own time zone, at least by any modern online calendar I’ve seen.

    Guess I’m not understanding where the confusion comes in

    1. münchner kindl*

      I think that’s only if you send the zoom invite from Zoom?

      It sounds like OP is sending an email – maybe with more additional text – with the zoom link, not a zoom invite.

  43. The OG Sleepless*

    For #1, context definitely matters. In a medical office I don’t think it’s a big deal, but in other settings it could be a symptom of a larger problem. My husband employed an office manager years ago who used to say “I” like that. Over time, people started thinking the office manager, rather than Husband, was actually the owner and started calling him specifically. Manager responded by running the place like it was his own little fiefdom, and not doing it very well. Husband fired him. He retaliated by stealing a software key and husband’s electronic signature and doing some fake work in Husband’s name till he got caught. That was around the time we discovered the giant cache of porn Manager had saved on the company server. Ah, memories.

    1. STG*

      Yea, I look at this more from a team vs I mentality. I think people are held up on the example provided.

      Personally, I prefer when my employees say ‘We can get started on that right now’ to customers instead of ‘I can get started on that right now’. I think it just sounds like they are part of a bigger team and structure. Plus, in the end, they may not be the one who actually does the work.

      Semantics though.

      1. I Have RBF*

        “We” serve the clients needs, but “I” book their appointment. The practitioner handles the appointment, but I check them in. I can schedule your appointment, but the Dentist A only works in the morning and Dentist B works mostly in the afternoons, but also mornings on Wednesdays.

        Essentially, I use “we” when the person who will do the work is ambiguous. I handle my tickets, but we support both Windows and Linux servers.

  44. Person from the Resume*

    So many time zones comments, but I want to echo what Alison said about the dress code.

    If you don’t think Ruby is actually violating dress code, don’t give her half-hearted feedback you disagree with. That’s just so confusing; what is Ruby supposed to do with the info you’re giving her.

    If Pearl has power (1) you should try pushing back at her and by getting her to clarify what part of the dress code Ruby is violating (2) tell Ruby that while you disagree, it’s important Ruby know this to potentially make an educated choice if she wants to appease Pearl or not. <— this is information Ruby can use to make a decision which is how it’s different.

  45. Alice*

    Dear OP5 and everyone else in the world who sends event time information via email instead of as calendar invitation,

    Why? Why, why, why? Whyyyyyyyy?

    Once you start snding calendar invitations, your life will get so much easier! Computers will handle the time zones for you – and that’s the kind of thing they are good at. Plus, if you put the Zoom link into the meeting invitation, it’s available conveniently when you need it.

    I hope that electronic calendars are taught in school. Are they?

    1. münchner kindl*

      Which software systems does that calendar invite work with?

      Only Outlook, or other software, too?

      How many companies don’t have a company-wide calendar at all, or bought a special software 20 years ago and never bothered to switch, because it’s working for them, and learning a new system is too much effort?

      If a company doesn’t have a compatible calendar software system, and forbids (for security reasons) people from installing calendar software, then I can’t open the invitation at all, nor read it.

      Don’t assume everybody else is just like your company, especially international.

      An email with a zoom link can be read by everybody with email, which is a larger group than “using work calendar software that’s compatible”

      1. Czhorat*

        This is industry-dependent. In many industries (including the one in which I work) it would be profoundly weird for anyone who needs to be in a meeting to NOT have Microsoft Office, Google GSuite, or similar software which always includes a calendar function.

        Sending a calendar invite IS the best practice.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Don’t most people get interview invitations sent to their personal email addresses, not their business ones, though? A lot of the big providers obviously have integrated calendar software, but I’m not sure you can reliably assume that everyone uses it and that it’s going to be set to the right timezone for the recipient.

          1. Czhorat*

            True, but you can set up a Google calendar for free, and it would probably parse the calendar invite correctly.

      2. goducks*

        Even if somehow the email software doesn’t have an integrated calendar function that can read standard calendar event formats and therefore translate the time zone, it will present an email to the recipient which states the time of the event in the sender’s time, complete with time zone designation, from there the recipient can use google to determine their local time. It removes ambiguity.

      3. Hiring Mgr*

        Even in the case you describe, the invitation still comes as an email with the Zoom info to your email address anyway, so aren’t you getting it regardless?

    2. The Person from the Resume*

      The question is about interviewing applicants. Even if the LW is sending a meeting invite from Oute/calendaring sofware the person getting the invite may not be on the same system.

      The responsibility does end up on the applicant to get the time zone right. I don’t think it’s necessarily a test, but it’s helpful to actually write content in the invite date, time, and timezone to allow the recipient to see that and not justthe info provided by the software,

      1. kalli*

        Ugh, yes! If someone just puts the time and means their time zone that’s all well and good, until Outlook picks it up and puts it on your calendar as your time zone! More information means people can actually figure it out for themselves in the first place.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I have responded to invites asking to clarify the time zone, and gotten nothing back. So I started in the earliest likely time zone and fortunately that was correct.

        But just put “2:30 pm Chicago time” rather than assume everyone is on the same system with the same settings, and confident of that.

      3. ClaireW*

        Any system that can send a .ics invite (inccluding google and outlook) works as any calendar software worth using can open .ics files and inset the invite into that calendar.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I hope that electronic calendars are taught in school. Are they?

      … No. And I doubt they will be, because every few years some new system will replace the one you were taught in school.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        exactly. Same with the “we need to teach high schoolers how to do taxes” when the tax laws change every year. My state has a financial literacy high school class where the required curriculum hasn’t been updated in probably 20 years. Just last year my daughter had to learn about how to write a check and balance a paper checkbook, something most adults don’t even do any more! It did NOT include any information on things like Venmo, banking apps, etc. And so on and so on and so on.
        The schools CANNOT do everything.

    4. kiki*

      Sending calendar invites is great and can make things a lot clearer, but no technology is perfect or impervious to user error, so it’s important to also specify the information in the email as well. It’s really simple to just say, “The meeting is at 1pm New York time.”

    5. Billy Preston*

      A lot of people in my workplace send emails before, asking what the best times are. So sometimes they ask (but mean a different time zone, we have two in my state), I say yes I’m free, then the invitation comes and it’s in their time zone and I’m not free then.

      I wish everyone would use calendly or things like that, but some people want to ask about it first (or can’t see other people’s calendars).

  46. Ex-prof*

    LW #5, I think you are right and also that NOT telling them is inserting a kind of test into the interview process, and hidden tests aren’t nice.

    Years ago I was interviewed on a west coast NPR program about a book I had written. The interviewer asked me to choose a morning time and I chose 7 a.m. eastern, thinking I’d be on the air at 10 a.m. Pacific– I had the time zones backward. I was on the air at 4 a.m. Pacific and no one heard about my book except the interviewer. Time zones aren’t that easy, if one doesn’t think about them on a daily basis…

  47. Bast*

    I think trying to micromanage the language will absolutely kill her enthusiasm, and this is not the hill to die on. While many people are assuming this is a receptionist, I have had providers schedule their own appointments at the end of the appointment I am currently in.

    If the receptionist is scheduling an appointment, I obviously know that I am not seeing a receptionist, so the whole, “I have an opening 10 AM on November 3rd” is understood. The ONLY caveat is clarifying which provider if this isn’t clear. (I am thinking specifically of places like the dentist here, where continuity may not matter and several providers may be available). The receptionist at my dentist office will usually say something along the lines of, “I have a 10 AM on November 3 with Dr. Smith, but if you would like to see Dr. Jones again, her next availability it November 10 at 2 PM.” Some people have strong preferences for sticking with the same provider, some will take whoever is available first or whoever better aligns with their schedule. I am also assuming that if it is a provider where continuity makes sense (therapist, PCP, etc) that they are scheduling me with that same provider unless otherwise stated. Either way, I never assume that I will be booking an appointment to see the receptionist.

    For things like therapy, I have had the provider book at the end of the appointment, in some cases, several appointments at once, in which case I think it’s perfectly normal for them to say, “My next available appointment is November 3 at 10 AM” or “I have either 10 AM or 2 PM on November 3.”

  48. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Yikes on bikes. Controlling much? OP leaves out a lot of details, but uses the word “patients” so it would suggest this is some sort of medical practice (I use “medical” as a huge umbrella here). If that’s the case, it’s probably very well understood to the patient-caller that the person doing the appointment scheduling isn’t the medical professional, and instead is the scheduler. There’s likely no confusion to the caller that the next appointment is with the dermatologist and not with the appointment-scheduler. Instead, she’s probably being nice and trying to be approachable to the patient. Second, if, in fact, the employe is a medical professional who is doing some of her own scheduling (which happens!), and she says “I have an opening on Wednesday at 10,” then she’s being entirely factual. Neither scenario hurts anyone, and trying to change the language feels unnecessarily controlling and nitpicky. “Correcting” this seems like a great way to alienate a good employee.

    Maybe OP ought to examine why their position feels so threatened by an employee who is doing her best to be enthusiastic about her role and to be polite to the public.

    1. samwise*

      Agreed. How stupid does OP think the clients/patients are?

      I have made a LOT of medical appts for family members over the last 20 years. When the receptionist says “I”, I don’t expect the appt is with the receptionist, I expect it’s with the provider I asked to get my family member scheduled to see.

      That “I” is also subtly friendly — I learn the names of receptionists and I make sure to greet and thank them by name, and I find that they’re invaluable if there’s some sort of problem (appt mysteriously cancelled, lab result not back in a timely manner, insurance weirdness or recalcitrance…).

      OP, you * want * your employers to speak with clients/patients in a friendly manner, it will be helpful to YOU overall. Please, get a grip and focus on a real problem.

      1. AMY*

        lol at “How stupid does the OP think the clients/patients are”. I mean, that about sums it up doesn’t it?

        Receptionist (cheerfully) : “I have an appointment available at 2:00 this Friday.”

        Patient (confused) : “No, I don’t want an appointment with you. I am trying to book an appointment with the doctor.”

        I mean, has that ever happened?

      2. Nightengale*

        Yes. Appointments with me are currently scheduled by one of two humans, while appointments with a coworker who shares my office are often being done by The Call Center. There is such a difference between the appointment being scheduled by J, the scheduler for our practice of a few providers who is also the human at the check-in desk. If you call back tomorrow it will still be J and she will probably remember your call. She is the one who puts people on our cancellation list (and probably does say “I” when she does this or at least I would be fine if she did.) She can let me know directly if there is a question or problem.

        The Call Center is of course staffed by humans but covers tons of offices and if you call back tomorrow, there may not even be a record of your call.

        I will skip the side rant about how the computer is trying to take over our cancellation process and doesn’t do nearly as good as job as J does.

  49. Falling Diphthong*

    Time zones: I do Zoom meetings with people who are 1-2 timezones away OR in my time zone, I don’t know where everyone is physically located nowadays. I have worked out that outlook translated the invite to my local time, but please please please, just specify the time zone.

    Also calculating time zones is one of those things many people do very little in their early 20s but routinely in their 40s–like putting stamps on envelopes, it’s just a measure of whether you have had to apply this skill often enough for it to be routine, or whether you need to text your mom and ask her where the stamp goes because this only comes up once a year. (And then you know the darn stamp must go somewhere on here, while time zone shifts are an unknown unknown until it’s been relevant enough often enough to transform into a known unknown you check.)

  50. HonorBox*

    OP1 – The only time when I think there should be clarity between “I” and “we” is in the event that someone scheduling an appointment with the business might think that the person saying “I have an appointment available at 1pm” is the person providing the service. But if the person doing the scheduling is just saying it for the overall business and isn’t providing the specific service, there’s no worries.

    OP2 – I’d go back to Pearl and share that you disagree. Ruby isn’t out of step based on how others dress and asking her to dress differently for whatever reason is going to be problematic. If Pearl cites specific times when Ruby has dressed inappropriately for the day and her activities, then there’s reason to address it. But if she’s doing the same as everyone else is, there’s no reason to pass anything along. It might also make sense to give HR or Ruby’s manager a heads up that Pearl has said something and then note your own observations about how she’s dressing. If Pearl decides to make something more of the situation, it would be good for others to know that it appears that Pearl is treating Ruby unfairly.

  51. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

    I relate to #1. I do admin work for a handful of tech, including answering calls and emails. I often say, “we” but I also often say “One of my techs specializes in X, he can help you.” They’re not MY techs, I’m not their boss. However, we are an employee owned business and I’ve found that using that kind of language has gotten people to be less panicky over the phone when they want X fixed yesterday, not 2 weeks from now.

  52. Heyheyheygoooodbyyyyyyye*

    New Bob: I just can’t wrap my head around all these people who love Bob so much who seemingly have dismissed a whole criminal side of him! Yikes.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      It could be more that he was having substance/personal/health/etc problems at that time but they’ve been under control for a while. Plus if all that happened before the current job, the colleagues may have never seen that side of Bob.

      Either way, OP is still a new employee so I would think this would naturally fade anyway.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      If the last seven years have taught me anything, it’s that people will overlook all sorts of heinous behaviors.

      Fire a simple example, see all the post mass shooting interviews with neighbors who exclaim, “But he was such a nice guy!”

    3. kiki*

      It’s possible that there’s context that makes his offenses much less terrible than they sound. Public indecency/ exposure can be applied pretty broadly. I’ve heard it applied to folks who were publicly urinating, it can also be applied to folks who have consensual relations in cars, etc.

      1. Hrodvitnir*

        Considering it was multiple counts of exposing themselves, the chances of this not being a sex crime are pretty bloody low.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Yes! I am really surprised 90% of the comments only address the mild irritation of being “The New Bob” and not the grossness of extreme enthusiasm for someone who is known to have exposed themselves multiple times.

      Not too much LW can do, but I would definitely be put off all the people who are just ignoring that.

  53. straws*

    Back when I used to handle IT purchases for a small company, we ordered a new headset for an employees. Normally if I knew what was arriving, I’d just toss the box on the employee’s desk and check back later to make sure the device was ok. This time, I opened it for some reason, and there was a sex toy accidentally packed with the headset. This was not an employee who would have found that amusing. So, crisis averted, headset went on her desk, and me & my coworker had to figure out what to do with a sex toy in the office without alerting others to its existence. He ended up pocketing it and chucking it in a dumpster over lunch!

  54. Czhorat*

    The “I/we” question is a fascinating one to me because I love language and have a terrible habit of overthinking everything.

    It’s better to use “I” because it feels more warm and connotes greater personal engagement. “I” says you’re talking to a person and not a faceless, corporate entity. It makes you feel more scene, and feels like more of a real connection.

    It’s better to use “we” because it depersonalizes while emphasizing that it isn’t just one person; that they have the weight of the entire organization behind them and at your service. It’s a way of reminding the client that they are dealing with not just a professional but a *group* of professionals, all of whom can be working together.

    For OP’s case I think either works. In my world (commercial audiovisual design) I’ll often use “we” *even when giving my professional opinion* for the above reasons.

    All that said, I *do* think it’s a matter on which the organization can have an opinion, and if you want to make the communication feel a bit cooler and more buttoned-up it’s fine to insist on “we” rather than “I”.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      I agree with everything you said, and think the problem could probably be sidestepped with the language “I see there’s an appointment available…” Even so, playing language police unnecessarily is really petty and why even do that.

    2. STG*

      Same. I think people are getting stuck on the example itself instead of what it represents.

      My employees typically say ‘we’ when dealing with customers. From my perspective, I think it represents that they are one member of a larger team and taking ownership of being part of that team and the department as a whole. Plus, they may not actually be the one fulfilling their request either.

  55. HailRobonia*

    Time zones started to take up an unreasonable amount of space in my brain a few years ago – my organization offers professional training and we had an online course that had assignment deadlines on certain dates. Given the fact that our learners were from all over the world in every time zone we tried so hard to explain the dates and times, even going so far as to install a “UTC clock” widget in the interface. I think it was reasonably effective but it can be very confusing.

  56. Nonanon*

    Hi LW 4, if it makes you feel any better, the rule in the lab I used to work in was “open, inventory, and put away packages as soon as possible” (since we would get project and/or temperature-sensitive deliveries). We had a fairly large shipment come in when no one was in the lab to receive it (not super uncommon), and I was going about my day, checking packing slips and putting frozen goods in the freezer… and came across my boss’s Valentine’s Day gift from his partner. FORTUNATELY the only thing I saw was chocolates, not Mapplethorpe, but sometimes it just helps to know you are not the only person this has happened to.

  57. Sisal*

    On the dress comment, a similar situation arose when my extremely slim line manager said she didn’t think a plus size member of my team was dressing appropriately for work.

    I pointed out that a) we were not customer facing, telephone/email only, b) she was always appropriately fully covered in terms of showing skin etc. , and being not exactly slim myself, c) formal office wear is not easy to find in plus sizes.
    The look on her face on point c) I will remember for life – it had clearly never occurred to her it might be a problem.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Bingo! I know from bitter experience that finding jackets and blazers that will fit my own voluptuous figure is an exercise in frustration. Good on you for calling her out on her size bias.

      1. Alisaurus*

        Yeah, 100% this.

        I’m grateful to have discovered Torrid in the past couple years – if you can wait them out for a sale, you can find some pretty good deals. A large portion of my work wardrobe is now their stuff + NoGA pants from Duluth Trading Co.

  58. Juicebox Hero*

    Tangential to the package full of packages:

    Back when I worked retail, children’s department, I had a coworker, Liz, who was in her 60’s, loud, vulgar, and totally unfiltered, as in “would drop F-bombs in front of small children and laugh at anyone who complained.” Our manager, Cheryl, was very quiet and kind of intimidated by her.

    Liz and her longsuffering husband went on a cruise to Alaska and Hawaii. As was traditional, she brought back gifts. Her gift to Cheryl was a “Hawaiian Hunks” calendar – the men were at least wearing swimsuits of some sort but posing very suggestively, totally not Cheryl’s thing At All. She was mortified.

    She hung it up in the stock room, and before January was over a big sign appeared saying something like “please do not mark down time off without clearing it with me first” posted smack dab right over Mr. January. The same sign got stuck over every other hunk for the rest of the year.

    The next year she had a normal calendar and the sign about time off did not appear.

    The year after that Cheryl got caught stealing thousands of dollars worst of stuff and was allowed to quit instead of being fired.

    God I hated retail.

  59. Dust Bunny*

    I started my current job by introducing myself as “the new [person who formerly occupied the position]”. People put me in context right away, which was useful because they remembered to come to me for all the things for which they had formerly gone to her, but they didn’t hold onto that as my work-identity. It was a non-issue.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      That included not holding onto assumptions about my ability to do the work based on her inability to do some of it (she retired, but from what I heard her skills were behind the times).

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Agreed, when we hired a new employee who had a newly created title, we referred to them in context as “they are occupying the role that X held”. It helps others in the company understand how they can expect to interact together in the future.

      However, I’m sure any new hire wants to move past the point of being ‘the new guy’. So after the first introduction, the company would ideally move on. For us, if the question came up of how X used to do things, we would reframe it, “in the past, the company handled things this way” or “in the past, this is how this task was addressed”. This way, our new employee doesn’t have to feel like they have to live up to X but also gets a sense of how the work was handled.

  60. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #1 – If you’re concerned that there’s a possibility of your scheduler being perceived as the person who is taking clients when that’s not the case, then perhaps you can offer a suggestion of asking them to clarify who they will be meeting with “e.g. I have an appointment with Dr. X on Thursday at 9am”. Otherwise, I would let the “I” vs “we” go.

    #5 – Especially since you’re working with candidates all over the world, it’s a courtesy to write down both time zones in communication (9am EST/10pm GMT) as a signal that you’re being considerate and to eliminate confusion. You COULD put the burden on the candidate to figure it out, but it seems an unnecessary test to expect international candidates to understand US time zones if it’s not needed for the job. Also, at the end of the day, it’s your time wasted if a candidate doesn’t show up for the interview at the right time.

  61. Oof*

    #1 – I just had this same chat from my director – I didn’t lose enthusiasm, or felt corrected – it was that I was given a better understanding of the organization’s relationships. It was great! I still like using “I”, but I (haha) feel I have a better sense of when to use it.

  62. BellyButton*

    I appreciate that OP acknowledged that Pearl’s comments could be size related. I had to push back on a senior leader a number of years ago because she kept saying one of my direct reports wasn’t dressing to dress code. But she was! She was wearing, clean non-distressed jeans, cute professional tops, and flats. My leader finally burst out “But she just looks so big and sloppy” My mouth literally dropped open. She did not look sloppy. At a size (I am guessing) 28 she was wearing loose, flowy tops, she looked perfectly put together. I told my boss she needed to drop it and get over it.

    1. ClaireW*

      Oh ouch, this is a huge fear of mine and one of many reasons I prefer WFH as a larger woman – I’m not as big in size as the woman you’re talking about but even at a UK 18/20 there are some people who are incapable of seeing me as tidy or well dressed or professional no matter what and it’s incredibly unfair and painful.

      1. BellyButton*

        This was about 15 yrs ago. I HOPE it has gotten better and people are more aware of that type of bias. I am not a plus size woman so I don’t experience it, but I do watch for it after that.

    2. kiki*

      It’s scary too because the size bias doesn’t just impact how other people perceive your dress, it affects how they perceive your whole professional persona. I’ve gone through size fluctuations over the course of my career, like most people will, but it’s wild how differently I am treated based on how much I weigh at any given time. When I’m thin, people assume I’m competent, organized, and wonderfully professional. When I’ve been larger, it seems like people forget those previous perceptions. I think because in US culture (I don’t know as much about others) we connect discipline with weight management. So if I’m not thin, I’m clearly not a disciplined person. And if I’m not disciplined, how can I be an effective worker?

      1. BellyButton*

        It is so gross how much we are judged about our skills/knowledge based on our looks. I do see it getting better with the younger generations. Most of the employees at my company are young millennials and Gen Z, and they really are much more aware of inequities and do not tolerate it. I have hope for our future!

    3. Goldenrod*

      BellyButton, THANK YOU for doing that! A plus-sized friend of mine received criticism at a job a while back for allegedly not following the dress code.

      Not only does she *always* dress impeccably – a little more formal than is usual, I would say – but she was also going through chemotherapy at the time! Her boss and another person decided it made sense to tell her that she looked “sloppy.” She does and did not!!! It was purely fat bias and it made me so mad.

      I think (unfortunately) this is all too common.

  63. JJJJShabado*

    I am in a support department. The department we support makes presentations and stuff for the most part, but I have to communicate as well sometimes.

    I always default to we/our. I view us as a team so I communicate that way. Most of the department we support uses I (even if they didn’t personally do the work). This does not bother me anymore. When I first started, it raised my rankles a but. Then I realized, they are the face of the company at the moment. I vs we doesn’t matter. The client is doing work with our company, not necessarily the individuals. I = the company. We = the company.

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

    #1 This is the most nitpickyist thing I have ever heard of! As someone who schedules appointments for everyone in the office, I use similar language. Saying I have an appointment at 9 is not implying that she is the owner of the business (where is that coming from anyways?) or that the appointment is with her. It’s sort of implied that she sees an opening like “I see an opeing for 9”. The only thing I would suggest is if there is ever any confusion on who the client is going to be seeing. So MAYBE you could go back and say that when she is scheduling he needs to be clear about who she is scheduling with. Like “I have a 9 am with Peter.”
    #2 Totally agree with Alison. And if you have the clout could you push back with Pearl? Like directly asking her why she feels this way or what give her the impression the Ruby is not following the dress code?
    #3 If it’s a month later and you are still continually being referred to as the new Bob then it’s time to speak up. But if its just for the first few months, then you can be annoyed but let it go. It’s just a weird quirk in some offices.
    #4 I would be so embarrassed and do the exact same thing. Only I might tape it up nicely and if asked say that it came that way. Or I might just put it on the guy’s desk (in the box) to never say anything to him again.
    #5 I don’t use Zoom much but isn’t there a way to have the meeting show the person’s current time zone when you send the invite?

  65. CommanderBanana*

    LW#1: I feel like we’ve seen a lot of letters about managers passing along feedback that they didn’t agree with or didn’t think was warranted. If you are a manager, you do not have to pass along feedback to a subordinate just because you got it! Especially if it’s something like a random employee having a baseless ‘problem’ with what someone else wears to the office.

    LW#3: Just so I’m understanding this correctly, Bob was a great employee, except he also couldn’t stop exposing himself in public?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      The only time I’ve given feedback I didn’t agree with, it came from my boss, so it behooved us both for my staff person to take it. But other than that? No, no one else gets to give my staff orders I don’t agree with.

  66. Hiring Mgr*

    I think I learned time zones from Pat Summerall on Sunday nights. (sorry kids, weekend’s over – 60 Minutes following the game except on the West coast)

  67. Stacey*

    To the person with the hunks calendar–there’s a possibility the boss didn’t know it was coming. I used to be the executive assistant at an issue-based nonprofit, and members of the public who didn’t agree with the organization’s mission would put our office address on spam-type mailing lists to give us a headache. For a while before I was there, there was an issue with the office being sent porn magazines and the like. It didn’t happen very often while I was there, but on the occasions when it did, I was instructed to throw them into a box without looking at it so they could get an investigation opened if need be.

    But regardless, I probably would have handled it similarly to you if I was in that position!

  68. Mmm.*

    LW1: The patients don’t notice.

    LW2: I’m glad you’re not on board! And if the makeup thing was specifically mentioned, it may be worth telling this person that skin conditions can be exacerbated by makeup and, since skin conditions don’t affect the job, it’s not your place to assume or ask her to start wearing makeup.

    She probably is size-ist, though. I wear the same general styles when I’m big or small (thanks, endocrine system!), and I’ve only been told it’s inappropriate when I’m big. (Think higher-necked tops or dresses, nothing too form fitting, and no skirts above the knees unless there are leggings, not clothes that could reasonably be considered out of any dress code.)

    1. Alisaurus*

      Re 1: Yeah, I was thinking that too. Even if I notice someone said “I have…” on the phone, I think my brain would just breeze past it. If I need clarification on who that appointment is with, I’ll ask, but usually when we’re at the point of listing times, we’ve already established who the appointment is with (either explicitly or by default). I highly doubt most patients are taking it the way the LW is.

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

        Yeah. typically it means I see a spot available for you. Not that the person is taking over the company. this was just wild to me

  69. TimeZones*

    LW 5: For the time zone question, I communicate it in conversation, the email and the invite: The meeting is scheduled for 11am EST / 8am PST.

    If you have to spell it out (e.g your candidates are inexperienced): You are located in the Eastern time zone (EST) We are in the Pacific time zone (PST). The meeting is scheduled for 11am EST / 8am PST.

    1. Betty (the other betty)*

      Telling someone what time zone they are in seems condescending. I know you don’t mean it that way, but I sure would take it that way.

      What not just write out the information instead of using abbreviations? The meeting is scheduled for 11am Eastern Time/ 8am Pacific Time.

      1. Kay*

        It isn’t condescending – it is confirming you are both working with the correct information. For example – most of Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time, a small part of it does. If you put times for both parties I can figure out whether you lumped Arizona in with its MT zone or if you realized that when I said Arizona time it meant we aren’t MT.

  70. Sara without an H*

    Hi, LW#2 — I agree with Alison that sharing Pearl’s feedback with Ruby would be pointless and unkind. What I think I would do in your position would be to do a discreet check-in with both my own manager and with your local HR. Make sure that Ruby is, indeed, in line with the local dress code. Find out from your own manager if Pearl is really able/likely to make trouble for Ruby down the line.

    Then check in with Pearl, casually, and say that you’ve been watching what Ruby wears to work and that you’ve confirmed with HR that she complies with the dress code. Then keep an eye on the situation. Hopefully, Pearl with find something else to fuss about.

  71. Marna Nightingale*

    LW1: I don’t know it helps to know that apparently a LOT of people have really strong feelings about it but also those strong feelings are all over the map? Like, you’re clearly not (internally) overreacting.

    But FWIW, as someone who used to work on a phone all day, I’m team “I” and I think it’s good that your receptionist is team “I”.

    If I’m calling in as a patient, I’m not going to be _especially_ bothered by “we”, but in general I want to feel like the person who answers the phone is making getting me seen as soon as possible, by the right health-care-provider, for the correct length of appointment to address the issue, with the right pre-appointment instructions, their PERSONAL responsibility.

    I would never think they were asserting ownership over the practice. But I would definitely appreciate them asserting ownership of the task.

    1. Jan*

      Having worked in call centres, that’s what we/I (ha!) were always told – that you should use “I” where appropriate because it shows you’re taking responsibility for the call.

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        HAH! I did road service for nearly a decade and yeah now I think of it that was undoubtedly in the training somewhere.

        Probably right after “personally apologizing to a client is not admitting personal fault”. Clearly I’ve absorbed it into my worldview so well I forgot being told it.

  72. This_is_Todays_Name*

    Whenever I get a calendar invitation for a meeting, if it originates in say CST, I will get a message saying, “The time of this meeting has been adjusted for your time zone.” I’m wondering why the recipients, *if* they’re putting it in their calendar and RSVP’ing “ACCEPT” to the coordinator, aren’t automatically also having the time zones changed. I don’t think this is a setting I created; I don’t remember doing it anyway… I just find it curious that it doesn’t auto-correct since one would assume the recipients computer time, calendar etc.. are set to their local time zone.

  73. Kat*

    OP# 2

    If I were called out on my appearance at work because I didn’t wear makeup or dress a certain way — despite not dressing any differently than anyone else in my office — I would seriously start looking for another job. I say this as a plus size woman who doesn’t wear makeup and more often than not wears jeans and a t-shirt to work. That might seem like an extreme response, but finding clothes that fit the way they should is hard enough without having to worry if it’s to someone else’s taste. Aside from that, it’s not like Pearl is going to be dishing out money for a new wardrobe, so why would I need to spend my hard earned money on buying clothing I don’t prefer? I wouldn’t. I would just go find a job where they didn’t care if my clothes looked different on me than they did my thinner coworkers.

  74. Red Headed Stepchild*

    I also had to open the mail at my job and had a boss who was extremely volatile and unreasonable. While they were traveling I grabbed the mail and sat down to go through it. One package contained a shiny, yellow banana hammock. Besides my personal horror at the thought of him wearing this that was now being forced on my poor self, I was absolutely panicked about the screaming that would come when it was discovered I had accidentally opened something personal.

    I went to my work bestie and freaked out, showed her the package and she died laughing. She had ordered them as a gag gift for her husband and in my panic I missed that it was her name on the envelope and not our boss.

  75. Ginger Cat Lady*

    LW1, maybe take a few minutes to contemplate why you’re so offended by the idea that she use “I” and why you seem to think it implies she owns the business. It doesn’t imply that at all.
    Are you the business owner? Do you think it takes away from your status as business owner? Do you think she’s elevating herself beyond where you think she should be?
    Honestly, you should remember that great and enthusiastic employees are hard to find, and nitpicking your employees never, ever leads to employees who like their jobs and bosses more.
    Don’t be nitpicky and micromanage this.

  76. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    When I had to schedule 50 ppl for interviews, when I sent out the reminders, despite making sure everyone knew the interview times were based on the interviewER’s time zone of Eastern, I made sure I put in the time in our time zone and then the time and time zone of the interviewee as the longer I work, the less faith I have that people pay attention to these details and need the reminder and handholding.

    And indeed, despite putting in both times, I had people try to join Zoom calls way too early or too late.

    If you’ve provided the time and time zone, it’s up to them to then figure it out.

    You can lead a horse to water and give them all the info you think they need. You still can’t make them pay attention to the details and join a call on time.

  77. kiki*

    “I think it is our responsibility to ensure everyone is on the same page (which isn’t that hard to do). My colleagues think the burden should be on the candidate to figure it out and be on time.”

    I feel like the scheduler has an obligation to be clear, make note of the time zone they’re referring to, etc. But I don’t think they have an obligation to translate the time to the recipient’s time zone, especially if they’re not certain what that time zone is. I think saying something like, “Let’s schedule this for 1pm New York time,” is sufficient.

    1. JaneDough(not)*

      From the letter: “Many of the candidates we are dealing with are young people who have little experience with interviews … ”

      So I’m respectfully disagreeing. It’s a kindness — a requirement, I would argue — to teach young people the ins and outs of interviewing as well as the norms of the work world.

      If this LW were in a field with standard professional expectations (retail and hospitality are very different from, say, accounting or even advertising) and were interviewing only people who had graduated from college, then I would agree that the interviewee should be expected to figure out the correct time for the interview.

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        Clarifying: Alison’s suggestion of including a time-zone converter is good; I agree with you that the LW shouldn’t have to do the actual calculation when sending the email with the interview time and date.

      2. kiki*

        I’m pushing back a bit because I don’t think that having little experience with interviewing or having gone to college or not necessarily means that the interviewer would need to go in-depth on the time zone issue. I feel like explicitly calling out the fact that the interview will be happening in New York time or Pacific or what-have-you, would be enough to flag for most people that there are time zone considerations.

        But if it is a frequent issue, adding a line saying, “Our office is in New York and we schedule using that time zone– please make sure you account for that,” doesn’t hurt anyone and is easy.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Again, not necessarily, since New York time last Friday is an hour different than New York time today. And people in other parts of the world might not realize that. England did the switch on Oct 29, not this weekend. And since OP says she hires people from all over the world, simply saying “1 pm New York time” is not sufficient.

  78. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    High five to Alison for publishing the time zone letter on the day after the stuid Daylight Savings Time switch in the US. Well played!

  79. WorkingGirl*

    Re: time zones – I have done hundreds of interviews, as both a journalist, and the hiring party hiring local event reps in markets across the country. If i know where the person is based I look up their time zone, so I can say “12pm pacific / 2pm Central”; if they’re international and Daylight Savings has me confused I might say “2pm eastern which i believe is 7pm in London”.

  80. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

    When I have to make a medical appointment, I’m just so glad someone picked up and relieved that there are openings that I would never think twice about whether they said “I” or “we.”

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Right? Did they get me scheduled in time for it to be covered by my insurance? Can this doctor write the prescription I need? Do I need a referral? How long will that take to get? Like, obviously, a pleasant interaction is better, but ultimately I need to be here and I don’t care about their word choices.

      There’s a million real concerns for patients calling a medical practice. LW1 could stand to be more patient-focused and stop worrying about their own status so much.

  81. JaneDough(not)*

    LW3, thank you for being sensitive to some realities of fat people, esp. fat women. (Commentariat, I — a fat woman for more than half my life [size 12-20, on a 5-ft-tall frame] — have used the word “fat” to describe myself, rather than a euphemism, in an effort to destigmatize the word. It’s just an adjective and I use it thus, not as an insult.)

    Another thing for employers to think about: Fat women who are 5’5” or taller have typically had far fewer options for clothing than have women who can wear sizes 2-14; that has changed a bit, but I suspect it’s still an option. Fat women who are shorter than 5’4” are screwed, because very few manufacturers make plus-size petites.
    ……. (For those who don’t know, “petites” in clothing refers to garments proportioned for women 5’4” or shorter — the distance from our shoulders to our waist is shorter, as is the distance from waist to crotch, so the patterns used for 5’5” through 5’9” or so won’t work for us. For ex., the waistline of a non-petite shirt hits 2-3″ lower on me, where my body swells outward again; the shirt sits tight there and is impossible to wear).
    ……. Talbot’s is one of the few cos. that makes plus-size petites, and their clothes are expensive; $120 for work pants when you’re earning a small salary is either not-doable or a stretch that will make an employee super-resentful. (Not to mention that their clothes are pretty conservative — not to everyone’s taste — which also ups the resentment.)

    Thanks again.

  82. Plus-sized and proud*

    LW2-

    As a plus-sized person, I have had many, many conversations about the dress code with various leaders that only reinforce that there is no way for plus-sized people to win in this space. I have been told that my skirt is too short when it was knee-length or longer and skinnier women regularly wore skirts that ended mid-thigh. I was scolded for not being professional by not wearing tights or pantyhose, years after skinnier women had started showing up bare-legged in the office when wearing skirts.

    I have been told that my blouses are too casual and seem too much like t-shirts. I cannot wear a button down shirt and be appropriate in the workplace- they are not made for my body proportions. And others wear similar blouse-style shirts/tops and are not reprimanded.

    The worst was when I was told that my leader received feedback that I was dressed like I was going to a strip club, but they could not tell me which outfit I wore that was inappropriate. Which sent me into a spiral for weeks about every piece of clothing I owned and if I would receive similar feedback. I finally decided it was a top that had pretty sparkly beading and fluttery sleeves. Again, thinner women were wearing cold-shoulder tops and tops with decorative beads or sequins with no objections.

    If I do wear skirts that are long, I’m told that they are too casual/not stylish/not professional enough. Pants are fine, but no one can agree on what type of top I can wear with them that is professional enough given my body shape & size. Sweaters in the winter are sometime fine, but sometimes too fitted or sometimes too bulky to be considered professional, depending on the observer.

    So please- I am begging you- do not say anything to Ruby without specific, actionable feedback, that takes into account what others are wearing without it being an issue, and that doesn’t involve the person becoming non-plus-sized to be acceptable. Check the bias to see if it’s really the outfit or it’s the size of the body that is what is causing the concern. And push back hard at others such as Pearl who are questioning the apparel choices of plus-sized people without also questioning the apparel choices of non-plus-sized people.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “Check the bias to see if it’s really the outfit or it’s the size of the body that is what is causing the concern.”

      Amen, sister!!

  83. CHRISTOPHER FRANKLIN*

    1) I realize that pedantic people infuriate me.
    2) A very long time ago, I worked in a defunct chain bookstore just out of high school. Once, a very nervous college student asked me in a whispered voice if we had books about an alternative sexual lifestyle. I said “sure”, led him to the appropriate sections in the store, and made a sale. Thinking about letter #4, I think it is important to stay professional, remember that people have intimate lives that you may accidentally see, and be kind.
    3) In my lab life, a doctor/professor/principal investigator was going to give a lecture about shingles to medical students. He was suffering from shingles so he asked to borrow my camera, photographed himself in the nude, and had me edit the photos to retain enough anatomical landmarks to explain how shingles presents but no extraneous nudity. It was very easy to remain professional. I think letter #4 should retain a professional detachment. The recipient of the calendar did not intend you to see it and the brief glance didn’t cause much harm.

  84. Cupcake*

    For the “I” vs. “we” question, I think it really depends on the team. I worked for a small local government taking calls for service (think pothole filing, dark street lights, graffiti reporting). One of my coworkers would annoy and anger the staff that worked outside by saying things like “I will have my inspector take a look today.” The coworker taking the call was not the supervisor of the inspector, it was a different chain of command, but to the callers, she seemed to be the boss. This often set the field staff up for negative in-person interactions with the callers when the inspectors did not do what the coworker said they would do. It really ruffled feathers and created poor working relationships between her at the filed staff.

  85. Always Tired*

    For letter writer #5, I used to regularly schedule calls with people across all time zones. (I was the internal contact for our company’s sponsored immigration cases. I really do mean all time zones.) and the biggest help to me was (1) clarify the other party’s timezone, and (2) use the lovely feature on both outlook and google calendar that allows you to show both timezones at once. I used to constantly work with a woman who would be like “Does 3pm work for you?” and I’d always have to ask “my time, or your time?” Because it was a 50/50 change which she meant. It was infuriating. If you don’t specify a timezone, it’s hard to guess.

    (Before anyone asks: in outlook, right click the timezone, hit edit timezones. When the calendar settings pop up, hit add timezone. On google, go to settings, timezone, check the show secondary timezone box and select your secondary zone. Enjoy.)

  86. Aunt Bee’s Pickles*

    LW2 — I’ll go against the grain and say that as a high ranking manager, Pearl absolutely has standing to decide if Ruby is projecting the image that the company wants. LW uses the term “pulled together “ to describe Pearl’s objection which leads me to believe that while Ruby may be following the letter of the dress code, she’s not necessarily following the spirit. Are her clothes fitting properly? Stained? Tattered? Out dated? Clashing? It’s one thing to say that the dress code is jeans and a t- shirt. It is another if she is wearing torn jeans two sizes too small with an old shirt bought at a rock concert in the 80s.

    1. Dahlia*

      I’m 100% sure that if any of that was true, OP would have mentioned it.

      “Are her clothes fitting properly? ”

      Like many here, I suspect that would not make things better for Pearl, because she has decided that the size of Ruby’s body is the problem. If she wore fitted clothes, Pearl would probably decide they’re too tight. If she wore loose clothes, Pearl would probably call her sloppy.

    2. ClaireW*

      This is such an odd reply. Do you really think that if Ruby was walking around with stained clothes covered in holes or tattered and generally a mess, that the LW would have said “I think she’s following the rules”? That OP would describe someone showing up in filthy clothing as “within the norm for our office”?

  87. Head sheep counter*

    One thing on spelling out timezones in an invite… it is sometimes useful as a tool to remind the scheduler that they are scheduling something that really is not ideal… for example your being two hours a head of me… means that 8 am may make sense for you… but 6 am… is rough for me. Its really easy to forget one’s impact on another when you aren’t the one being inconvenienced.

    As a life long Californian… I’m super entertained by the pedantry around EST and EDT… today I learned one more thing that I… don’t care about. My own personal preference is 12:00/San Francisco time, 2:00/New York time.

    1. Always Tired*

      YES. I used to schedule calls with people 8-11 hours ahead of me on a regular basis. There was a frequent “2pm your time? Well that’s 3am here, not sure I can swing that. Can you do 5pm for you/6am for me? What about 9am you/10pm me? I am frankly more awake at 10pm.” I always included both time zones to make sure I understood what I ask asking for, and they understood how accommodating I was trying to be. People really have no regard for the west coast night owls.

      1. Head sheep counter*

        I love getting a confirmation that the schedule outcome is intended. Making someone acknowledge that they are requesting my time at 3 am is… satisfying and means that I am free to show up bleary and not dressed for success.

    2. Dorothy Zpornak*

      And do you not find that East Coast people tend to think they are the center of the universe, and refuse to make reasonable accommodations for West Coasters. The number of times I’ve had to get up at 4am to make it to a meeting because someone in New Jersey, “likes to schedule their meetings in the morning” grumble grumble grumble

      1. Head sheep counter*

        It seems evenly split between East and Central… but that’s due to who I currently interface with. In my past life… yes there was a distinct lack of acknowledging the problem with timing on the west coast and a dismissiveness about such problems.

  88. Alex*

    One of my sales team members has a habit of saying things like “my writer” or “my designer” or “my customer manager” when referring to others on staff, instead of “the” or “our.” It’s all about intent. We know her well enough to know she doesn’t feel like she controls us or that we only work for her. I think some people are a little more irked by it, but no one feels it’s big enough to raise an issue. Different people use different phrasing and as long as it’s not misleading the public or customers, this goes into the “let it go” pile.

  89. AngelicGamer*

    I have nothing constructive to add to LW #5, save for thinking of the West Wing episode where Josh, Donna, and Toby got left behind in Indiana. In which they didn’t realize they crossed time zones because Indiana is confusing and it took them 20 hours to get home.

    I’m not ashamed to admit I had my own problems with this too. Just give out the time conversion website and life would be a lot easier.

  90. spiriferida*

    re: time zones, there are some scheduling plugins, software, etc, that will automatically show the meeting time in the time set of the person’ it’s being sent to. If you’re scheduling a meeting with people from many different time zones, this would be a great thing to do, if you can! I’ve always liked this best, because it removes the mental math and the possibility of timezone confusion.

  91. Baska*

    #4: I handle the mail for a small-ish non-profit (among other duties). I have to open items that are addressed to individuals, because sometimes there will be a donation cheque to the organization alongside a personal note, or something like. If something were to happen along the lines you’re describing, I would have just put the calendar back in the original FedEx envelope (assuming it wasn’t mangled in the opening process) and left it in the person’s box or on their desk. If they’re someone who mostly works from home, I might send them an email saying, “Hey, you received some personal mail at the office. I left it in your box / on your desk for you.” And that’s the end of it. No need to make a big deal of things.

  92. Dorothy Zpornak*

    #5 It should be the candidate’s responsibility. My experience is that almost 50% of the time the address on the resume or that the candidate gives as contact info is not where they’re currently located. They might be getting ready to move, so they put their new address, or in a temporary living situation so they put a more permanent address, or they may be out of the country but put a US address so they don’t get excluded because someone assumes they’ll need a visa, or if they’re about to graduate they put the parent’s address. Of course, these days it’s possible that the person may be working remotely from a different time zone than the office, but most commonly the candidate will know what time zone the interviewer will be located in, while the employer would need to take an extra step to find out the candidate’s time zone. So it’s just more efficient to let the candidate do the adjusting.

  93. Terranovan*

    LW#4 – Content like this is referred to as “NSFW” on the Internet for a reason. Keeping you from having to see it is the responsibility of the recipient, not you.

  94. Emerald the OP*

    Letter writer #2 here. I tried to provide some context but also keep things unidentifiable and I hope to continue that approach. I think some people are stuck on the idea that Pearl doesn’t think Ruby follows the dress code, that’s not the her concern she agrees that Pearl meets the minimum requirements of our office. Her concern is that she thinks Ruby, who is in a track for a client facing role but who currently doesn’t have client facing responsibilities, isn’t polished/stylish enough for clients (I don’t agree with that opinion). Applying Allison and other’s advice to the specifics of this situation, I’m not going to say anything to Ruby.

    Regarding follow up with Pearl, I questioned her opinion in the moment but I didn’t push as much as I could have. If Pearl makes similar responses again, I’m going to be firmer in showing my disagreement.

    1. Sleve*

      Pearl’s comments are especially disappointing considering the ‘dress for your day’ rule. She doesn’t even know whether Ruby would dress differently on days with client meetings. It sounds like Ruby doesn’t need to, but she might choose to do so anyway. Pearl’s concern-trolling comes across as particularly pointless, given the facts as stated.

      I think you’ve made the right decision here, Emerald the OP.

  95. Lady Cat the Cat Lady*

    It is an EXCELLENT idea to have what time zone you are calling/ contacting! Just a funny story.

    My husband was a higher up in a teapot making business. He would be at work by 4 a.m., because of this, so contacts were “synchronized”, as it were. Not working there, it normally didn’t involve me. Husband had mentioned in passing that a mutual friend of ours was moving across country, and he was going to be contacted sometime in the future as a reference. All well and good.

    About two days later, husband was up, (thankfully), and I had wished him a nice day, and gone back to sleep.

    The phone rang at 3:02 a.m. I blearily grab and say hello. “This is John Jones, do you know Friend Indeed?” Knowing fiend should still be traveling, and seeing the time, I became unbelievably awake, and shout into the phone something to the effect of, yes I know him, is he okay, and what happened?

    There was a longish pause, and a very embarrassed reply of, “Oh, no. It’s early there, isn’t it?” And quick reassurance that Friend Indeed was fine, but had told the company it was fine to call husband at home. Which it was… On his business line, after 4 a.m., our time.

    I gathered what good will I could muster, called husband to the phone, and decided that the day was pretty much started at that point. I could overhear several apologies, and they were very careful to put his business number in after! (And IIRC, Friend did get the job.)

  96. Raida*

    5. Time zone confusion when scheduling interviews

    Definitely include a line to more explicitly state the Time Zone and a link to it.

    I’ve had a few (not business) things crop up where someone says CT. Turns out that’s NOT a time zone – it’s two time zones, depending on the season? So I have to look up what Central Time is, check the other two time zones it’s referred to as being, check the time of year…
    If they’d just used one of the (actual?) time zones for everyone international it would have saved a lot of frustration. After I nailed down the correct time zone, and the -hrs from GMT, and shared it I was thanked several times.

    That speaks volumes as to the value in just making it EASY and SIMPLE.

  97. Jay (no, the other one)*

    I live on the East Coast of the US. I’m currently in CA. I have an interview scheduled for Wednesday morning and you better believe I have double- and triple-checked the time on my calendar. It’s the meeting organizer’s job to be clear in the invite about the originating time zone and each attendee’s obligation to figure out when to show up – and that goes double when the attendee is interviewing for a job.

  98. Teapot Wrangler*

    LW5 – I think the fault might be at your end if the conversation went:

    Interviewee: I’m free at 11am
    Interviewer: I’ll put that in for 11am my time

    Generally, I would be careful to say 11am London time or 11am New York time but if I just give my availability, I am giving it in my own time zone.

  99. Calamity Janine*

    i am terribly late, and Alison has given good advice.

    but i gotta say, LW4, the fresh fedex envelope heist and postscript are just both masterful and i have been sitting here chortling under my breath like a sleepy kookaburra. just think – for the price of overnight panic, you have just gained the perfect story for your tight five should you ever take up stand-up comedy!

    …in far more dubious advice, here’s something LW3 shouldn’t do: next time you’re called “the new bob”, take this following quip out of its holster and shoot the conversation right betwixt the eyes with a “oh, I’m not the new Bob! I remember to keep my pants on [ or am allowed to be within 150 yards of a school, etc etc, relevant cutting detail goes here ]!” then laugh uproariously at your own joke as everyone else deals with the conversati