update: my new coworker is the guy who naked-manned me on a Zoom date

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose new coworker was the guy who naked-manned her on a Zoom date? Here’s the update.

The theme of this company for me has been “What is wrong with the men?”

In terms of the Naked Manning Coworker, I took your advice and played ignorant. I ended up having lunch with him during my second week, in order to not make waves. At the time, my manager was really pushing the local team to meet up occasionally, so there was pressure to go to lunch or tell my manager why I didn’t want to. I opted to keep it to myself and go to the planned lunch. Aside from Naked Man standing far too close while we waited in line to order lunch, I was able to maintain a cool but professional attitude throughout the hour-long lunch. Thankfully, he didn’t say a word about knowing me in any capacity, though I got the sense he very much knew by some curious phrasing and comments he made.

Now, you might be wondering, what is it with this theme? At the time, I didn’t have a good read on my manager or the team dynamics. Then, after a couple months, my manager made a series of comments that still leave me a bit stunned.

Some of the comments:

  • On a project call, I was quiet and not really contributing. Out of nowhere, my manager said to me, “You can’t think like you, Ms. Pride and Prejudice on your shelf. You need to consider our teapot making customers and what they would want.” (as a note, I’ve been a teapot marketer for 10+ years).
  • I managed to get tickets to a VERY popular artist at the last minute and was super excited about the experience. It was truly once in a lifetime for me. He joined a call late as I was sharing the experience with my peer and promptly interjected with, “So it was just you and a stadium of teenage girls” and “we pay you too much if you can afford to go see VERY popular artist.”

Ultimately, I ended up confronting the comments head on with him, stating they made me worry about whether I was respected or could trust him due to the nature of the comments. Naturally, he stated they were jokes and that he thought I knew they were jokes. During the resolution of this situation, he was quite flustered and really wanted to make it clear that I could trust him. In response, I let him know the reason I was evaluating whether he could be trusted by sharing the Naked Man story with him. After being rather stunned, he thanked me for sharing and said he would take that into consideration when assigning projects and travel for the team.

True to his word, I didn’t have overlapping work or travel with the Naked Manning coworker and got to keep my distance aside from some team calls here and there. My manager has also been far more respectful since I confronted him. The Naked Manning coworker was recently impacted by layoffs, so I no longer have that particular situation hanging over my head. I feel a bit guilty about being relieved, but it definitely was a weight lifted knowing I had one less poorly behaved man to deal with daily at work.

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. Blue*

    Note to managers: Nobody thinks your jokes about their pay are funny! Ever!

    LW, I’m glad your situation is improving! Thanks for sharing your update on this wild story.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      I came here to say that. It doesn’t matter if it’s objectively side splitting hilarious, there is no way that joke is going to land coming from a manager.

        1. Random Dice*

          The Taylor Swift comment was not cool.

          But the first comment didn’t seem that bad – even in combo with a lame salary joke – to get the level of “can I actually trust you?!?!?!” reaction this LW had. “Let’s just check that we’re thinking about this from the customer’s perspective and not from an ivory tower” could have been said better, but it’s a valid thing for a manager to say. (And while 10 years of experience is good, it’s not world-class-expert-so-don’t-question-me good, not remotely.)

          Unless there were a ream of comments she didn’t bulletize (and from the rest of the letter I’d expect them to be in there), she has 2 awkward comments by a manager, and a problematic coworker who this manager dealt with very quickly, and… that’s it.

          She jumped awfully fast to ALL MEN AT THIS ENTIRE COMPANY ARE AWFUL, and I’m finding it really weird. It feels like she misapplied annoyance with Naked Man to the *totally different person* who’s the manager, who seems a bit awkward rather than malicious the way Naked Man was. It makes me think that other crap she’s dealt with, by other men in past situations (who *also* aren’t this manager), is seriously skewing her judgement.

          I’m a woman of a certain age, and have plenty of those exhausting misogyny stories myself, and when I get this ticked at relatively small stuff it’s because I’m getting triggered about something big in my past.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            The first comment is extremely condescending. It’s particular bad because it’s such a basic concept addressed to somebody who should obviously know better. The comments on her personal habits come off as mocking and sneering. That fact that it came without particular context is worse.

            And even if there was context that OP missed or didn’t relay, it’s entirely too flip of a comment to address it. It may be a joke that didn’t land, but the kind of friendly shit talking that is acceptable between friends is not good material for managerial humor.

          2. Nah*

            Maybe… women NOT of a certain age have a lower threshold for this BS. We’re not triggered, we’re just Not Having It and don’t need a trauma backstory to expect respectful interactions.

    2. Observer*

      Note to managers: Nobody thinks your jokes about their pay are funny! Ever!

      Yeah, seriously!

      That’s just gross. ANY joke is gross. And *this* category is especially gross. “we pay you too much for your high skilled labor if you’re not living in poverty” is not a good way to get people’s engagement.

    3. Generic Name*

      Seriously. I really wish managers would be much more cognizant about joking with their subordinates. It can go wrong in so many ways. If you get a lot of your self worth from being seen as funny, save it for friends and family, or do open mic nights, or start a standup routine as a hobby.

      1. Pseudo Anon*

        this! I wonder if Alison has (or could do) a column on “what jokes not to make” as we’ve had “I could get you your p45 (UK equivalent to pink slip) if you want” and” I already hate you ” from management at my soon to be former place of work.

    4. Lacey*

      Seriously. Never joke about paying your people less. Or more. Just no money jokes when you influence or decide how much money people will have.

  2. my cat is prettier than me*

    Oh that first sentence killed me. Brilliant. I’m glad you were able to work it out!

  3. mb*

    Congrats on confronting things head on – and also very jealous that you got to see VERY POPULAR artist.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Right? How many people are paying Too Much Money According To You to watch you do anything at all, dude?

    1. H.C.*

      There were quite a few VERY POPULAR artists touring this year (none of which I attended), so yeah… jealz (but you definitely deserved to go for putting up with all this silliness!)

  4. OrigCassandra*

    Glad Naked Manning Dude is out of the way. Now how about your workplace get rid of Negging Manager. That’s really not okay.

      1. Vio*

        There are times I am ashamed of my gender. Fortunately most of the men (and women) I know are actually good people, but the stories about the ones who aren’t… I can’t even begin to understand why some men (it’s much rarer that we hear of women being as sexually inappropriate) think such things are a good idea. Even in the ‘Old Boys Club’ type settings I can’t imagine “hey guys I flashed a completely unsuspecting woman” getting any positive reinforcement and yet an alarming number of women I know have received unsolicited photographs of genitals. One of them has even taken to sending negative reviews criticising size, shape, lack of imagination and discretion into account to the point that she even almost enjoys them.
        Personally I find the whole thing completely bewildering. Do these naked men and penis photographers expect some kind of positive reaction or just get off on making other people feel awkward? If it’s the latter I can only imagine that something is seriously screwed up with their ability to feel any kind of shame.

    1. mb*

      I think she confronted her manager about the “jokes”. She told him she was evaluating whether or not he could be trusted – and chose to trust him by telling him about Naked Man. The manager made sure she knew he respected her, and also said he would keep that in mind when it came to assignments and travel.

    2. OP*

      Happy to clarify! I confront my manager over his inappropriate “jokes”, and in the resolution of that situation told him about the naked man. I never confronted naked man, I continued to play ignorant.

      Interestingly enough, my manager also recently said to me “you never thanked me for that” in regards to laying off naked man, as if he did a massive favor to me personally when instead he was forced to pick one person or have more selected from his team to get impacted.

      1. Ink*

        aw come ON. I just commented hoping he might at least have the sense to make that call purely on the basis of liability and reputation. That comment is… deeply nauseating.

      2. Ticotac*

        What’s there to thank the manager for, it’s not like naked man was laid off for naked manning people.

        “I noticed that you laid off a colleague during lay-off time. I really appreciate you doing that!”

      3. Observer*

        Interestingly enough, my manager also recently said to me “you never thanked me for that” in regards to laying off naked man

        I can’t say that I’m surprised. My first thought when I finished reading your update is “I hope you keep watching your back. I would not trust him at all.” I’m sure he wouldn’t pull the Naked Man thing, but he’s still a jerk who is maybe not sexist, but sure doesn’t have a sense of how reasonable workplace relationships should look.

        Just as jokes about people’s entertainment choices out of work or their salary are unfunny and inappropriate, so are jokes about people needing to thank you for just doing your job for crying out loud.

        I hope that in other respects this is a GREAT job. Otherwise, I’d be marking time till I start looking for a new one.

        1. OP*

          I’ve definitely been looking and interviewing, as this is only scratching the surface. Some of our executives say “We are a FAMILY” …..

          So, ya, I’m in the market for a new job.

          1. allathian*

            Oh dear. I’m crossing everything I have two of to wish you luck in your search. It’s not going to get any better, even if I’m glad that you no longer have to deal with Naked Man.

      4. Ms. Murchison*

        Well I guess then he proved that ultimately he doesn’t respect you, OP. Disappointing. Good luck with your job hunt!

      5. Random Dice*

        He chose to lay off Naked Man because you told him the problem. He fixed it, even though many managers would have gotten caught up in “that was a personal dating conflict”.

        It was a good and proactive call he made… and also, honestly, yeah, it’s pretty interesting that you DIDN’T even say thank you.

        It sounds like you’re at BEC level with this manager, and somehow with the whole company, or at least with every man in the company, so you should just move on.

        1. Panneni*

          I disagree very much. There was no personal favor involved in laying off Naked Man, as OP has explained in the very same comment you’re reacting to.

          Lay offs were happening. Clueless Manager was given two options: either choose one employee to lay off, or have higher ups make the choice and lose more than one employee.

          Besides that, Manager is saving himself the headache of keeping Naked Man away from OP. All of this sounds completely self serving to me. Not that there was anything wrong with that, until he expected OP to be thankful for his choice.

      6. EmmaPeel*

        Your manager is a tool. It would have done him some good to be in a stadium of teenage girls, whether it was for TS or Queen Bey, since they’re going to be his boss awfully soon. :)

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      She confronted manager about his dismissive and belittling comments. He claimed “Shroedinger’s Douche” meaning, it was either an insult or a joke depending on how she reacted. She did not let herself be spoken to like that, so he said it was a joke.
      She called him on that too and explained if he didn’t take her seriously, then she couldn’t trust him. He was shocked! shocked I say! that she felt that way and said she could trust him. So she told him about Naked Man. Boss step up and kept her away from NM without impacting her job and growth opportunities.

      1. mb*

        Shroedinger’s Douche – that’s amazing. I used Shroedinger a lot but this is a new and improved way (ie you drop your phone face down – it is Shroedinger’s phone with regards to the screen).

  5. Ink*

    I bet the manager is one of those guys who won’t respect people (…who are not from the *exact* same demographic he is…) until they confront him. A great trait for a manager, that :/

    I don’t know what the layoff came down to, but unless it was incredibly role-specific to The Naked Man at least it seems like the manager is willing to consider things like that negatively? It sounds like some of those comments were veering toward sexual harassment, and I wonder if there were some technically-innocent remarks away from OP’s ears that the manager had to reevaluate in the face of that information. I mean, at the very LEAST, if that guy was ever responsible for Zoom meetings with customers/suppliers/etc it seems like a disaster waiting to happen. A tepidly-positive update, for the moment- here’s hoping it’s all up from here!

  6. not like a regular teacher*

    Glad you were able to shake off these rotten colleagues’ asshattery, OP! They were definitely the problem, not you. I wonder if naked man will put this job on his resume or just leave a blank space?

  7. ENFP in Texas*

    “you never thanked me for that”

    Your manager continues to mistakenly believe he’s a wit when he’s really only half a one.

    I hope you don’t have to deal with him for much longer.

    1. Observer*

      Your manager continues to mistakenly believe he’s a wit when he’s really only half a one.

      I wonder if he has enough wit to even understand what you just said. I love it!

  8. Also cute and fluffy!*

    “I feel a bit guilty about being relieved, but it definitely was a weight lifted knowing I had one less poorly behaved man to deal with daily at work.”

    While practicing setting boundaries in the face of other people’s inappropriate behavior, I have learned that it is better to feel guilty than to feel screwed.

    You have no reason to feel guilty! But in the meantime, know that the guilt means you are headed in the right direction

  9. Phony Genius*

    Every time I see “Naked Manning” as a proper noun, I keep thinking he’s a long-lost (possibly disowned) brother of Peyton and Eli Manning.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Ha! Maybe he is playing on some deeply obscure college team somewhere. He would fit right in at Nudist U.

    1. OP*

      Also those with English degrees apparently don’t know how to write energetic ad copy because “they are too focused on proper grammar.” And yes, that was another comment targeted at me.

      Truly can’t make this stuff up. It’s wild.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Not going to lie, this is a happy update but I’m looking forward to a future one where you tell us you either got a new job with a far less problematic manager or that he got the boot in the next round of layoffs lol

      2. Observer*

        That’s just jaw dropping! Has anyone on that team actually read the book?!

        Also, is this guy actually a decent marketer? Because his comment about P&P and thinking about what your audience wants makes no sense.

        Unless you are marketing to high school drop outs and and tweens who can barely manage their lives, the idea that reading P&P means you can’t have any meeting of your minds with your target market is weird. Very weird. And extremely disrespectful of your market. And also very ignorant.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          As a former tween who loved modern pride and prejudice retellings(and has now read the real thing), P&P has universal appeal and this manager has Wickham energy.

        1. Emily*

          OP, thank you for the update. I’m glad naked man is gone, but I’m sorry you are still dealing with your jerk of manager (It’s him, hi, he’s the problem it’s him). I hope you find a new job soon, so you can Run as fast as you can… from this guy… and Shine like fireworks over his sad empty town. Hopefully you will be able to provide us an update later on when yoy are at a much better job. I’m sure we’d all love to know…Is it over now?

          1. Emily*

            Also, OP…I’d be very tempted to start playing “The Man” whenever your manager starts his nonsense…

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Your manager should just walk around wearing a tee shirt reading INSECURE PROJECTION MAN with a sad little hankie-size cape attached to the collar.

      1. Beany*

        It is a truth universally acknowledged that a family in possession of a tin of loose-leaf black tea, must be in want of a teapot.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Right? It’s not like those novels are a full blown phenomenon at this point or anything.

  10. Justme, The OG*

    If it happened to be a Taylor Swift concert, I hope you enjoyed screaming “eff the patriarchy” and thinking of your employer.

  11. nnn*

    I feel like someone who claims to have insight into marketing should have professional respect for Very Popular Artist, even if her music isn’t to his taste or he isn’t her target audience.

    1. sparkle emoji*

      Agreed, Very Popular Artist is much better at marketing to her target audience than he appears to be.

  12. Hexiva*

    “On a project call, I was quiet and not really contributing. Out of nowhere, my manager said to me ” You can’t think like you, Ms. Pride and Prejudice on your shelf. You need to consider our teapot making customers and what they would want.” (as a note, I’ve been a teapot marketer for 10+ years).”

    Oh my god, that sounds like something one of the guys on Mad Men would say, which is never something you want to sound like.

  13. slr*

    Pride and Prejudice is hardly some obscure little novel: there was a joke about it in Barbie, the most popular, monoculture movie of the year! If your clueless boss wants to neg you for being out of touch, he picked the wrong touchstones.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      And it was sort of the focus of an entire movie less than ten years ago (based on a novel that prompted a lot of discussion about the line between homage/parody and plagiarism)

  14. JaneDough(not)*

    Cue the late, great Amy Winehouse, “What Is It About Men” — a song largely about her narcissistic father, who *still* isn’t taking responsibility for shattering her, at roughly age 2 and thereafter, through his infidelity / abandonment of the family, and who *still* is profiting shamelessly off her …

    Yes, not all men — not by a longshot. And if women had been the dominant group for thousands of years, frustrated men would now be saying, “What is *wrong* with women?” It’s about how power shapes a group, not about inherent differences between the biological sexes. But for where we are now, one more rousing “What IS it about so many men??!?”

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