updates: coworker said I can’t eat at my desk, enneagrams in hiring, and more

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. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My lying coworker claimed someone said I couldn’t eat at my desk

I’m the letter writer with the low-stakes question about etiquette for eating breakfast at my desk in a shared office.

I really appreciate Alison’s thoughtful answer and everyone who took the time to comment! Many people said that I should have stood up to my coworker, which in theory I’m sure is what I should have done. However, in hindsight, that entire office — and that coworker in particular — was incredibly toxic and had really warped my views of what was or wasn’t normal in a professional environment.

My officemate was a bully, and upper management consistently let him get away with terrible behavior, such as:
– Flying into rages and regularly breaking phones, keyboards, even computer monitors (to the point where another colleague put fake tombstone “RIP” post-its on all his office supplies when he had a bad day, since everyone knew he would break something)
– Driving recklessly around our parking lot on his motorcycle without a helmet (illegal in our area)
– Smoking out the office window instead of actually going outside
-Skipping meetings or training sessions that were required for the entire staff
– Making sexist comments about other employees, clients, or suppliers
– Coming into work visibly (and odorantly) drunk, then turning off his phone and taking a nap at his desk

Because he was such a high performer, our director turned a blind eye to his behavior, and it went on for so long that we all (and me in particular, since I worked closely with him) lost touch with the fact that it was totally out of line.

Things finally came to a head a few months after the breakfast incident. My coworker decided he didn’t like something I said to one of our junior coworkers, stood up, slammed his hands on my desk, and screamed at me for about two full minutes. He called me all sorts of names, insulted me personally and professionally, and threatened me. As soon as he stopped I went to our director and our HR person and asked for him to be officially disciplined, but they both just shrugged and said, “Well, that’s how he is, we all know it.” When I said this was unacceptable, our HR person offered me a different job in a different department — with a slight raise, but a role I was not trained for, had no interest or experience in, and with significantly more travel.

I handed in my resignation the next day, got a nice severance package, and started a (much better!) new career just six weeks later. I wish I could say I never looked back, but I still look back ALL the time (my letter to AAM is proof of this), wondering how much of the conflict was my fault, if I could have stood up for myself better, if I could have behaved differently, etc.
It’s really disheartening to think about how lasting the impact of a toxic work environment can be, but I’m glad that there is a supportive community like this one to help.

2. Using enneagrams in hiring

I am the one who wrote in about using enneagrams for hiring. The coworker who brought it up also wanted us to take the test and discuss it in our next staff meeting. I brought up my concerns to our manager about it being a strictly Christian practice. She was a little alarmed and said we wouldn’t be doing that. I wasn’t so much worried about doing it in the staff meeting — I was more worried about her or grandboss thinking it could be used in actual hiring. We have a pretty robust DEI system, but many people have not heard of enneagrams. I was concerned that they would think it was a “fun” way to hire a cohesive team and not realize they were basically pushing a religious system on applicants. Thank you for validating my concern that this was not a good idea and that it should never come up in an interview.

3. How can I get used to cube life again?

Thank you so much to all the commenters who had great ideas for cube life! I ended up moving buildings and am now seated next to a window (yay!) that I think my boss advocated for. I did end up getting a plant that is looking extremely luscious after a few months of hanging out in my window and I have started regularly going to the gym at lunch (which isn’t located in my building, unfortunately- I pay for it separately but it’s really worth it.) Getting exercise in the middle of the day makes me feel like I’m “using” my downtown time productively and getting a little more tired makes sitting at a desk for the afternoon more bearable. I also go for walks to get some fresh air and have made a few work friends who are a real godsend- just having someone else to go chat with for a few minutes really brightens the day. I also bought new work clothes that are comfortable and fashionable (my old clothes were kind of dated) and that makes it more fun to get dressed up to go in.

Now that I’m more settled in New City, I’m looking for a job with better flexibility and a better culture. The strict in-office requirement in this case is definitely a symptom of an old boys club work culture that isn’t very welcoming to women or anyone who’s not a senior executive, which is most of my awesome team. My team has quietly revolted in our various locations and takes way more illicit WFH days than we are allocated including some half days here and there finishing the day WFH. TBD how long we can keep up this secretive balancing act- I’m fairly certain over half my team will quit if we are held to the WFH restrictions to the letter.

4. Will it look bad to skip my former boss’s retirement party? (#3 at the link)

Thanks so much for answering my question about not attending my former boss’s retirement party.

I did not attend the party and followed your advice regarding having a “scheduling conflict” if anyone asked me whether I was going. (Only a couple of people did actually ask, and I received no pressure or even so much as a raised eyebrow.) I feel great about my decision and I appreciate the support from so many of your readers via the comments section.

I did, however, partake in my own private “good riddance” celebration at home last weekend by watching the movie “Renfield”: a hilarious depiction of escaping a toxic relationship with the most narcissistic boss of all time (Dracula). It was just the catharsis I needed.

{ 104 comments… read them below }

    1. GreenEyes*

      Aww, thank you! I did really enjoy the movie. And I do have much, much better people in my work life now.

  1. BubbleTea*

    Is it usual to get severance if you resign? I’m glad LW1 stood up for themselves and got a good deal out of it!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      It can be if you’re resigning because of stuff that juuuuust might be grounds for a lawsuit. They’ll give you severance in exchange for release of liability.

      1. Ama*

        Yup, to recap what this would look like to a lawyer (IANAL but I can see where this would go):
        a) Company tolerated employee who broke things and was abusive to his coworkers for years.
        b)OP was directly verbally attacked and physically intimidated by this coworker
        c) when OP complained to HR, they offered her a transfer to another department

        The severance was absolutely to prevent having to pay a potentially larger settlement later.

        1. Observer*

          Add in the fact that the offer looks retaliatory – it was a job that didn’t make sense for the OP. And the fact that he was also making sexist remarks. And that the management explicitly said that they knew that “this is how he is.”

          I’d be willing to bet that someone realized that giving people good severance is cheaper than having them go to the EEOC and / or sue.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            > Add in the fact that the offer looks retaliatory – it was a job that didn’t make sense for the OP.

            I’m not sure we can conclude that — more likely that was the only role that was open or could add a person. Companies cannot just add additional headcount (and budget) to create a job for someone to move to. Well, they could of course, but it wouldn’t make sense financially.

            1. Observer*

              I’m not sure we can conclude that

              That’s why I said that it “looks” retaliatory. That’s enough to get them to trial, for sure. And, even if they win, that alone is going to cost them. And unless they have a rock solid, really well documented, and unimpeachable reason for this particular choice, a jury is likely to be highly unsympathetic. Keep in mind that the context is that they were making the offer to get someone to shut up about a person who the company *knows* is problematic and behaves in ways that are definitely an issue and certainly presents possible legal issues.

      2. RVA Cat*

        So they’re not only aware the coworker is an abusive menace, they’re willing to pay money to the folks he drives away?!
        If the severance agreement included an NDA, what if the OP gets a subpoena when someone else sues?

        1. Sovreignry*

          Not your lawyer, not legal advice, I am most likely not even licensed in your state, but depending on the state, NDA’s aren’t worth much. In CA, for instance, since 2022 you can’t include an NDA covering mistreatment in the workplace, or if you do it’s unenforceable, and if LW gets a subpoena they must testify under penalty of some punishment.

        2. Arabella Flynn*

          IANAL, but contracts cannot compel you to commit a crime. Obstruction of justice is technically a crime, and refusing to testify when a court so orders counts.

          If your former employer cares so much, they can petition to have the proceedings sealed, but the judge will laugh in their face.

          1. Cj*

            I never thought of that. I had to sign an NDA over a decade ago that didn’t let me even tell anybody I have an NDA.

            one of the things that it included was that I couldn’t tell anybody about their business practices. and some of their business practice were in violation of federal regulations.

            I suppose I wouldn’t to be able to reveal any information unless I was subpoenaed to testify or something. I really wish I would have been.

      3. Anon for this*

        Yep. This is what happened with my sister at her former company – a very well known cable corporation. She worked there for 10 years and they wouldn’t promote her any higher than a manager in her unit. Yet white colleagues who entered the unit/division with less seniority, less experience and comparable credentials and kept getting promoted over her with higher salaries and titles.

        She finally had enough, compiled her findings and went to HR. Nothing was done. So she found another job, tendered her resignation and requested a “package.” They offered her 13 weeks of full salary (and benefits, including continuation of deeply discounted cable, internet and phone rates) paid bi-weekly. She went back to them and negotiated it to nearly six months of salary.

        However, the company had her sign an NDA, in which she had to agree to waive all claims against the company and to not sue.

        I remember my sister telling me how surprised she was when they quickly agreed to the increased length of severance – they put up no resistance whatsoever. But that’s because they knew damn well my sister had been discriminated against for years and were probably concerned about a lawsuit.

        1. Scroller*

          I just want to say that your sister is incredible – turning a 3 month over into 6 months! I am going to remind myself that next time I feel uncomfortable about negotiating.

      4. AnonForThisForSure*

        Or if they’re protecting a horrifically abusive manager (who’s not doing anything legally actionable, just evil). Three months’ severance in exchange for a non-disparagement agreement? Sure, if she’ll sign one too!

  2. Generic Name*

    #1. Just woah. LW listed a long list of really egregious behaviors, any one of which would be grounds for immediate dismissal at a functioning company, and then in the next paragraph said, “Because he is such a high performer”, and I swear to you I heard a record scratch sound in my brain. That guy is NOT a high performer! Showing up drunk to work is not a high performing behavior!! I would bet real money that if someone ever bothered to look into his actual work performance, it would be middling at best. Nevertheless, I’m glad you’re out of there LW.

    1. Generic Name*

      Adding to this, your former coworker is a bully. People keep making excuses for bullies. They’re so good with clients. But he’s a really hard worker. She brings in so much revenue. But the longer I am on this planet Earth, the more I realize that the reason bullies are where they are in life is simply because they bully everyone to get what they want. Not because they are uniquely good at their jobs, in spite of being a raging bully.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        You can get people who are high performers and don’t act like raging a-holes. I have met and worked with several. And they are always more productive and effective than bullies.

      2. Elizabeth West*


        No matter how good someone is at the actual work, it’s not worth it if they treat everyone like crap. Especially if the mistreatment could result in 1) legal liability, and/or 2) continuous turnover when people inevitably leave to escape them. Ironically, the company is likely spending more money over time to keep this loser than to cut him loose.

        If bullies ever really experienced consequences, the world would be a better place.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I wonder if part of the problem is that the decision makers aren’t getting bullied and don’t have much empathy for people who are being bullied.

    2. Dina*

      When I got to that high performer line, I actually said “Is he though?” out loud. Because no. No he is not.

    3. not nice, don't care*

      I was so hoping this update would finish with LW calling the cops and the fkwad getting perped off to the pokey.

    4. Some Dude*

      Also, it really sucks that you left a job because your work wouldn’t handle their business and tell this guy to take a flying leap.

      1. Just Another Cog*

        Yep. This coworker could have been mine in a former job, only female. OP says that they were so used to his outrageous behavior that they lost touch with how a normal office runs. I never thought my former office was normal and was frustrated at times that our own bully was allowed to crap on everyone else, without repercussions, but I stayed there for 14 years. Shame on me. Glad OP at least got a severance.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same, with The Coworker from Hell. I wasn’t even doing my own job by the end — since the receptionist didn’t want to work with TCfH, she called in often and I had to go do her job.

    5. Observer*

      Because he is such a high performer”, and I swear to you I heard a record scratch sound in my brain. That guy is NOT a high performer!

      It depends on how you measure, what you measure, and what you are measuring against. Like if you measure his number of calls against the “performance” of the junior staff – staff whose performance he’s helping to tank by his mistreatment of them – sure it could look good.

      I would bet real money that if someone ever bothered to look into his actual work performance, it would be middling at best

      I wouldn’t take the bet ;)

      What I would be even more willing to bet on is that if someone were to look at all of the other ways he’s costing them and driving down productivity, he’d still show up as a net loss, even if he actually were a stellar performer by some metrics. It’s the discussion that often comes up around the “Brilliant A**hole”. It turns out that such people exist, but 9 times out of 10, they cause so much trouble that their brilliance is still not worth it to their employer, if their employer were actually paying attention.

    6. Quantum World*

      How many people in this comment section call themselves high performers while admitting that they don’t work a full 40 hours? Homeboy just happens to be drinking and sleeping instead of goofing off on the internet.

      1. Jackalope*

        The thing is that you can step away from the internet immediately if needed. You can’t step away from being drunk.

      2. Bast*

        Frankly, I doubt anyone who is scheduled for a full 40 hours per week actually works 40 hours per week. People use the restroom, make a cup of coffee, get momentarily distracted by a water cooler conversation. When you add these all up, they probably amount to at least a couple of hours a week. You can be a high performer even if you use the restroom or have a 5 minute conversation about your weekend. These are normal and justifiable behaviors. It’s harder to justify being drunk at work or breaking objects. If Employee A occasionally gets sidetracked by a conversation that’s been going on too long, but is otherwise a great performer, it’s easy to look the other way. If Employee B gets regularly enraged and smashes his monitor one day and shows up drunk the next, that’s a much bigger issue even if his performance is just as good as Employee A.

        1. Rainy*

          Try 1894 with that attitude about work, lol. Shocking that the lint-pickers are demanding weekends, don’t you know.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Yeah, an hour of internet time decreasing one’s own productivity != screaming and smashing keyboards and carrying on, decreasing the productivity of everyone around you as they are subjected to your tantrum.

      3. Your former password resetter*

        They also don’t threaten people, break their equipment, or generally act like a barely restrained rage-monster.

      4. Dr.Vibrissae*

        I’m hired to perform tasks A, B, and C. It does not necessarily take me 40 hours every week to do the work I was hired to do, although some weeks it takes me more. I’m paid to do the work, not to be busy for 40 hours. I’d say taking less than the total time to do my work makes me a high performer (i.e. I’m good at what I do, so it doesn’t take me as long as others to do it). I’m not paid hourly, and it seems possible the person in the question isn’t either, or maybe he is. I have to agree with the other points about this kind of behavior likely causing more problems than his other production numbers make up for (for instance in hiring and retaining other quality workers).

      5. Impending Heat Dome*

        By that logic, I could take 40 hours to do 3 things all week, and be a “high performer”. But taking 35 hours to do the same tasks that it takes peers 40 hours to do, and this is somehow evidence of slacking? This is textbook butts-in-seats thinking and an example of poor leadership.

        One of the perks of getting my work done more quickly is that I get paid to goof off on the internet. Orrrr, I could just do that work more slowly, and be congratulated by a manager who can’t see the forest for the trees. Hell, I could stay 5 hours longer and act like a “hard worker” with my overtime, maybe make some comments within earshot about “being so busy”, walk around the office with a frown and a notepad. Look how busy I appear! Now that’s promotion material!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I always want to ask what on earth their definition of a “low performer” is. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from Olivia Collette at the Roger Ebert review site about Woody Allen:

      “When we think about asshole geniuses and whether or not they should continue making their art, we rarely consider how much better art could be if fewer assholes were allowed to make it.”

    8. econobiker*

      Issue being that this bully coworker’s “high performance” is probably true but he uses various nefarious ways to “sell” for the company. Techniques such as bribes, kick backs, “paid entertainment”, etc.

      He has “management” or CEO track written all over his resume… psychopathic as it is…

  3. Wow, really?*

    All these updates are an embarrassment of riches, and I love them so much! Thanks to everyone for turning in the updates. I love that so many have positive outcomes. For the ones with not great outcomes, I hope the situation or the way you’re able to look at it changes for the better very soon.

  4. Happily Retired*

    LW#1, I do hope that you Glassdoor’ed the HELL out of your former company once you were safely away. Good for you for turning in your resignation the next day!

    1. LW1*

      Thank you so much! I was unfortunately outside the US in a country where Glassdoor isn’t popular and there is no local equivalent. But I can promise you that I do not mince my words if anyone asks my opinion of the company!

  5. Tam*


    I don’t know where you got the idea that enneagrams are Christian. Most Christian groups do not buy into them at all. There are some people who are Christian who do use them, but I guarantee they are not part of general Christian practice.

    1. Dina*

      I think it’s more that it has Christian religious origins and not that it is necessarily a common Christian practice.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I thought it was part of some early 20th century mysticism (not Christian, more a combo of different things).

        Definitely not something work-appropriate.

          1. Sorrischian*

            From what I can tell, any source that claims that is just trying to tack on some legitimacy via appeal to ancient wisdom, or is a Christian site trying to push back against the (correct) claims that the Enneagram system started in the spiritual hodgepodge of mid-twentieth-century psychology. One could fairly argue that Gurdjieff and Ichazo were inspired by ancient Christian ideas when constructing the enneagram, but that doesn’t actually mean it originated there, if you see what I mean?

    2. Sorrischian*

      Yeah, the enneagram system came out of the Human Potential Movement in the 50s (I think specifically out of The Fourth Way, which flirts with Christian mysticism but is by no means a christian belief system) and then got picked up by some Catholics in the 70s and then Evangelicals in the 2000s. So you’ll see it a lot in Christian contexts and sometimes with a Christian veneer, but that’s not the whole story.

      Not that I think this makes it cool to use in the workplace, especially not in hiring! But for the sake of full accuracy, no, it’s not a strictly Christian practice.

      1. Clare*

        Most of the people with a ‘Live, Love, Laugh’ sign in their homes are Christian women (or agnostics with a Christian background), that doesn’t make them a Christian practice.

        1. DyneinWalking*

          Reading through the article on wikipedia, the enneagram was conceived by Christian mystics based on spiritual ideas and has been adapted by some for use in Christian spirituality. It’s apparently also used business settings but other than that, it’s only used for spiritual purposes while the scientific community considers it pseudoscience and mostly ignores it.

          So even though it seems to come from a very fringe part of Christianity the spiritual origin, application to spirituality, and lack of scientific support mean that it’s kinda hard to define as a secular practice. I agree though that calling it a “Christian practice” is probably stretching it a bit, it’s probably better described as a “practice of Christian Mysticism”.

          Either way, I don’t think it has a place in the workplace. (The fact that businesses use it does not change this – businesses do all kinds of weird questionable stuff, as this blog reminds us every day.)

    3. Clare*

      They’re not a Christian religious practice at all. The inventor of the bionic ear was a Christian and we don’t call those a Christian religious practice – even though his religion strongly guided his scientific process and Christian people use their bionic ears during their church services, preaching, and worship. Enneagrams are just some low quality pseudo-science by a few men who thought Eastern religions were cool and happened to have been raised Christian.

      I’m not trying to defend Christianity here, just trying to remove enneagrams from the shelter of pretending they’re part of such a large religion and therefore somehow ‘legit’.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I don’t think people are trying to legitimize enneagrams by pointing out the religious connection– I think they’re trying to point out how inappropriate for the workplace they are. I’m glad the OP got the manager to listen by bringing up the religious association, but of course what the company should have been worried about was the pseudoscience aspect.

    4. Katie*

      Yeah, that confused me, too! It’s something certain types of Christians like, but it’s not based in Christianity. I agree that it shouldn’t be used to make hiring decisions, though.

      1. Lady Lessa*

        Whatever the history, I’m glad that the LW got them out of the hiring practices. I had originally thought that Hinduism was the source.

    5. Sue Wilson*

      The origin is a spiritual teacher, the social spread has been from Christian places. Christianity is too large and varied a faith to suggest that for something to be “christian” it has to be general practice.

    6. 248_Ballerinas*

      For some reason, enneagrams are a real fad among some evangelical Christians. The only people I’ve ever heard mention enneagrams are evangelicals. No New-Agers, Buddhist meditations, “energy healers,” Meyers-Briggs aficionados, non-religious people, Catholics – just evangelical Christians. Odd, since they are not inherently Christian.

      1. Dawn*

        It ia deeply bizarre and innaccurate to call enneagrams a Christian practice. That said, I think it’s trending in certain Christian contexts. Twenty years ago, almost everyone I happened to hear mentioning enneagrams was into mysticism and / or psychology, and most were hostile or neutral towards Christianity. Now, when I hear it mentioned, it is usually by Christians.

      2. On Fire*

        This. I’d never heard of enneagrams until a few years ago, but it has been exclusively from evangelical or exvangelical people. The way they talk about it sounds like people discussing numerology or astrology — they’ll say, “Oh, I’m a 7-2 so of course I feel this way or did that thing,” like others will say, “What do you expect, I’m a Capricorn.”

      3. Santiago*

        It’s somewhat popular in some Muslim spaces and also in gay religious interfaith spaces across the board. It’s certainly not appropriate for hiring and it certainly is used by some Catholics in spiritual mentoring but I’ve definitely seen it come from various sources.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Yeah, it looks like some of the early promulgators were Jesuits and Methodists (an odd mix). But a lot of Christians, particularly of the more theologically conservative varieties, consider it a New Agey type thing that should be avoided as “worldly” or “pagan.”

      I’ve seen sources that say it was derived from Sufiism, but it sounds like it’s really just made up and has a bunch of labels slapped on it for marketing purposes.

  6. Boof*

    Lw1 – sounds like you handled it perfectly and professionally! Truthfully a nice severance is awesome, even if sucks the org won’t see how destructive your officemate is (i also seriously question if officemate is as net productive as the top brass seems to think)

    1. RVA Cat*

      They need to deduct the OP’s severance and the cost of recruiting her replacement. Even if he’s some kind of rainmaker he’s dragging the whole office down.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > sucks the org won’t see how destructive your officemate is

      They do see it, imo, but they perceive that they can’t do anything about it other than work round it (such as paying severance to someone who resigned because of it, presumably to forestall them suing later). I would suggest that this is because, for whatever reason, they see his behaviour as an “external constraint” that exists and you don’t have any influence over (in the same way that regulatory requirements etc are external constraints). They are fully aware which makes them almost worse than the person doing the behaviour.

  7. Free Meerkats*

    Renfield was a great choice. When we had a toxic coworker leave, everyone in the office got together that weekend and held a ritual burning of a couple of small things she had left at the office. Then a nice grill party…

  8. Not Always Right*

    Until now, I have never heard of enneagrams, so when OP wrote ” I brought up my concerns to our manager about it being a strictly Christian practice.” My head tilted a bit. Admittedly, my quick Google search was strictly cursory. Having said that, as a Christian, I can state with full confidence that enneagrams are NOT a strictly Christian practice. From what I read, IMHO, it is very far away from Christianity. Again, I did not delve too deeply into this, but what I did read about it was a huge red flag. If I worked with you and this was brought up, you’d best believe that I would vociferously fight it. Just sayin’

    1. LadyVet*

      They’re not a strictly Christian practice, but a LOT of Christian-based marriage retreats and counselors are using them. I used to work at a faith-based magazine that mostly published stories involving Christian faith, and that’s how I found out about enneagrams.

    2. Filosofickle*

      It’s the word “strictly” that caused my head to tilt. There’s a lot of crossover — more than I’d like as an non-Christian who has shopped for enneagram books and had to dodge a lot of religious ones — but it’s not “strictly” Christian in that only Christians are into it or that it’s part of Christian teachings. (And it’s not rooted in the religion in a way that would make it inextricably entwined like the christmas tree.)

    3. DyneinWalking*

      According to wikipedia, its origin is in Christian Mysticism and it is mostly used in religious and business settings.
      I agree that “strictly Christian” does not sound quite accurate, but fact is that the practice has a strongly spiritual basis and that that basis lies in a a subgroup of Christian belief – fringe as that subgroup may be.
      And I’m actually curious how “fringe” it is regarded in other countries. The main contributors to the concept of the enneagram were a Russian, a Bolivian, and a Chilean, so the support within the Western portion of Christianity might not be a good indicator of how “Christian” or “not Christian” this practice really is from a global point of view.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Wait, scratch that. I went over the article again and apparently both the Bolivian and the Chilean (independently of each other) moved to the US and did a lot of their teachings there.

  9. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    LW 4 – yes, it is bad form. Sometimes, in the business world – actually MORE than sometimes, ya gotta hold your nose and go along with the program. The thing about going , is that you don’t have to worry if your attendance/non-attendance looks bad.

    1. ezmama*

      This was not one of those times, especially when attending would have cost not only $40, but also a half day of PTO. And the “scheduling conflict” worked just fine, avoiding the added emotional costs the LW would have endured if they had held their nose and gone along with the program. Why recommend misery when the update clearly reports a much more enjoyable outcome?

    2. Michelle Smith*

      It literally wasn’t though, as evidenced by the positive update we just got on the situation. No one cared and OP didn’t have to spend their PTO or money celebrating someone who made their life a living hell.

      No, professionally and politely declining to attend the retirement party of someone who made your life such hell that you had to take medical leave TWICE and almost ended your marriage is in no way, shape, or form “bad form.”

  10. Observer*

    wish I could say I never looked back, but I still look back ALL the time (my letter to AAM is proof of this), wondering how much of the conflict was my fault, if I could have stood up for myself better, if I could have behaved differently, etc.

    This makes me a bit sad, but I hope the second guessing is really going away.

    It most definitely is an example of something Allison says a lot- that bad workplaces skew your sense of what a reasonable (never mind GOOD) workplace looks like.

    1. SJ*

      Same, LW 1 please know you were a victim here and absolutely none of this was your fault. Your feelings of needing to keep looking back on it are completely normal as well. If you are open to input on your current healing process, I would highly recommend Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”. The book is detailed, compassionate and is available for free online by googling the title plus the word pdf. (The author has stated he is fine with people reading it this way if they would not have access to it otherwise!)

      Please take good care of yourself and hopefully by this time next year this experience will be further in the rear view for you.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Came here to say something similar. When you’re dealing with a Ron, there is no secret combination of words to stop him from breaking things and screaming at people. This is not a problem you could have fixed. Getting away from Ron is the best case scenario here, and you did it!

      1. All het up about it*

        Agree. The line “wondering how much of the conflict was my fault” especially hit me.

        Zero percent – LW. Zero Percent. This wasn’t office conflict, this was straight up abusive behavior and you were responsible for NONE of it. I won’t tell you to not look back, but I would strongly advocate reframing the situation in this light when you do look back.

  11. Bo Peep*

    If your high performer drives away a bunch of your not as high but still really good performers and now all that’s left/the only replacements you can find are the really mediocre ones, doesn’t that kind of average out to one nothing-special-performer?

  12. Baska*

    I’m a non-Christian person who’s been exploring the Enneagram for about a year. While some of the people putting out Enneagram information are indeed devout Christians, the Enneagram itself doesn’t need to have anything to do with religion at all. It’s a personality typing program on par with Meyers-Briggs, CliftonStrengths, etc. I definitely don’t think it’s appropriate in a hiring context, any more than asking someone what their MBTI type is, but that’s because personality testing isn’t appropriate in hiring, not because it’s a Christian practice. (I personally love talking about personality tests with people because it helps me know and understand them better, but I wouldn’t make a hiring decision based off it!)

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I LOVE labels and tests — not because they are correct, but because the process of exploring them reveals new information that helps me understand myself and others better. It’s all in the conversation around it, and how we react to them that tells us something interesting. It’s a mental model to play with. It should not be used to define or limit you.

      Weirdly, enneagram is the only one that has ever accurately captured me. Not all of it, but the motivation piece really does explain so much about me and it revealed patterns I’d not seen before. Usually I’m all over the place on tests — I’ve gotten so many different MBTI results lol — but this one was really helpful.

  13. BecauseHigherEd*

    Re #1 – Am I the only one who’s shocked this person can “Come…into work visibly (and odorantly) drunk, then turning off his phone and taking a nap at his desk” but also be seen as a high performer? Where on earth are the managers in this?!

    1. All het up about it*

      It’s gotta be a situation where he’s a big client’s favorite “good ol boy” salesman. So he’s a high performer because he keeps one or two big accounts happy. But that’s rarely as hard to do as people make it seem.

  14. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*

    As a Christian, I have *never* in my life, heard of enneagrams being Christian…in fact, I dare say that some more conservative sects would likely be very against such things. Or…on the opposite side of the spectrum, you get Scientology…so I guess I had a good laugh today.

    1. new old friend*

      I was introduced to the enneagram from my mom, who learned about it at church (some 15 years ago), but that was a UCC church in a very very very liberal city (like, Portland levels), so probably not too surprising.

  15. On Fire*

    #1 — if THAT was a high performer at your old company, what on earth would it take to be fired or considered a poor performer. My gob is smacked. I hope that company crashed spectacularly.

  16. BellyButton*

    #1 – It was absolutely not your responsibility to stand up to this guy or to “handle him differently” You are not responsible for that guy’s awful behavior.

  17. CSRoadWarrior*

    #4 – Reminds me of something similar I went through. I recently had to skip happy hour at work a couple weeks ago because I also had a scheduling conflict. I informed HR I wouldn’t be able to make it. They were okay, but the difference is that usually these events are mandatory. HR said that to me as well but was understanding about it.

  18. sulky-anne*

    #1 is an example of an interesting type of letter, where the original issue described is a bit weird but fairly minor, but the update reveals all kinds of much wilder stuff going on. It feels like the letter writer trying to grapple with a truly unhinged situation by focusing on one of the most benign details. Glad to hear you escaped, LW1!!

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