our “neurodiversity awareness panel” was a letdown, coworker is stonewalling me, and more

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

1. Our “neurodiversity awareness panel” was just about dyslexia

I work for a large engineering firm that has an active Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, which recently organized a Neurodiversity Awareness Panel webinar. As someone who was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at a young age and who for various reasons has not disclosed this to my manager or others at my firm, I was very interested to attend. I was somewhat surprised when the panel then turned out to consist of four people with dyslexia.

I don’t mean to minimize the issues people with dyslexia can face in the workplace (some of the panelists spoke very eloquently on this) but I came away from the panel feeling very disheartened. The discussion was very much focussed on “tell everyone! Be proud of who you are!” which is advice that, frankly, just doesn’t apply to everyone who is neurodivergent. The stigmas around dyslexia, though definitely real, are very different than those around ASD. One particularly tone-deaf piece of advice was to disclose your diagnosis in your email signature. My role means I’m regularly contacting people for the first time, both within and outside our company, and I can’t imagine emailing external clients with a line in my signature saying, “By the way, I’m autistic!” as my first impression.

I feel dyslexia is one of the less “spicy” neurodivergences, borne out by the fact that during the discussion several listeners added their thoughts about their experiences with dyslexia, but no one with another condition said anything (I wonder why?). As is often the case, the most socially acceptable neurodivergence seem to be the ones getting the airtime.

How should I handle this? The organizers of the webinar asked for feedback and I want to tell them that this event made me feel more excluded, not less. At the same time, it wasn’t all bad — I was glad the organizers described the phrase “everyone’s a bit autistic” as a microaggression to be avoided, as this phrase does make me pretty cross when I hear it. Still, though, I don’t know how I can raise the topic without disclosing my own diagnosis, and would welcome your thoughts on if this is even a battle I should fight.

Yeah, that’s a panel on dyslexia more than it’s a panel on neurodiversity more broadly, and I can see why you were disappointed; it’s one small and fairly specific piece of the neurodivergent universe.

I’d love for you to give candid feedback about this because your organization clearly needs to hear it, and they’ve requested it. But if you haven’t chosen to disclose your autism at work, I’m hesitant to tell you to do it in service of this.

Is there any avenue for anonymous feedback? I’m not usually a huge fan of anonymous feedback, but it’s actually pretty well suited for something like this.

2. My coworker is stonewalling me

I have a colleague who I cross-collaborate with in a different department. I have supervisory authority within his department but don’t manage him directly. He came to me with a special request for their staff, which I denied because it didn’t make sense for all departments and would have been a logistic nightmare.

After I declined his special request, he moved forward with the request anyway, causing a lot of stress and mistrust across departments. I spoke to my boss and his boss about the issue, and he was reprimanded. He has since decided to stonewall me: sending my calls to voicemail, not responding to my emails, and now walking out of rooms I enter. I attempted to communicate with him, but he refused to acknowledge that I was speaking with him and pretended to be busy. I even said his name and that we needed to have a conversation and he just blinked and continued to type on his computer. I walked away and dropped it.

We still have areas we need to communicate about and collaborate on. I understand this professional relationship cannot be repaired, but how do I move forward and continue to do my job?

Go back to your boss and explain what’s happening. Be specific about the ways in which he’s freezing you out and the effect it’s having on your ability to do your job. Your coworker’s stonewalling is unacceptable; he doesn’t need to like you, but he does need to treat you professionally and not ignore your work requests. But based on his behavior so far, you’re not going to be able to resolve this on your own; someone with authority over him needs to intervene.

3. My friend accused me of getting him fired, but I didn’t

I’m a freelance writer who works for various companies, along with some colleagues who I also consider to be my friends. One of these places has a strict policy against receiving free products from companies in exchange for favorable coverage, which is made clear to contributors like me. There have been instances of people being found out or caught by the company, in ways I’m not entirely aware of. (Supposedly writers are monitored or word gets around and management puts two and two together. It’s also possible that other people rat them out.)

A writer friend of mine was fired from this place because he violated this policy. He sent me a message saying that I was two-faced. At the time, I didn’t respond because I was shocked by it.

I still feel wary around him. My non-work friends say he’s not my friend if he thinks that about me. I reassured him that I had nothing to do with it, but I’m wondering if I should have at the time reached out to the company or asked my friend further about why he thought that.

You definitely shouldn’t contact the company about it since you’re not involved in whatever happened, and this is between them and a different freelancer.

But yeah, if a friend accuses of you of something and you have no idea what they’re talking about, it makes sense to try to clear up that miscommunication … unless the friend has a pattern of that sort of thing and you’re just done investing energy in it. In this case, I’m curious about whether your friend is normally hot-headed/jumps to conclusions without getting all the facts/is quick to blame people for things they didn’t do. If not and this is out of character for him, it makes sense to try to straighten out whatever the confusion is.

Also: if your friend was indeed taking comps in exchange for media coverage, that’s a huge deal and can destroy a publication’s credibility (as you know). If someone reported him for that, it’s awfully un-self-aware for his response to be anger that someone shared it rather than looking at his own actions.

4. I think an employer is blowing me off — should I complain?

On January 2, I went to a job interview. It is an exciting opportunity. It pays about the same as what I am making now, but it is more related to my field of study, so I applied as soon as I saw it.

I felt the interview went well. The three people who interviewed me said they would be in touch within a week or two. They were all friendly and I felt I left a good impression on them.

Two days after the interview, I sent the HR manager a note. I told her it was a pleasure to meet her, I thanked her for the time, and asked what the next step was in the hiring process. She said they would make a hiring decision within two weeks and would get back to me.

After two weeks, I did not hear back from anyone, so I emailed her. I wanted to let her know I was still interested in the position, and asked if she had made a decision yet. She said no, they were still interviewing people, and hadn’t made any decisions yet, but told me to keep in touch. I told her I understand because they mentioned the office is short-staffed.

Last week, I emailed her again. I just asked if she had any updates about the position yet, and again she said no decisions have been made yet and thanked me for keeping in touch.

This week will will be four weeks since the interview, and I am becoming disappointed with how I am being treated by HR. I feel like I am being given the runaround, and the HR manager did not reach out in the timeframe she said she would. I am tempted to send her a polite but firm letter expressing disappointment with her lack of transparency and follow-up in regards to the hiring process.

I am willing to wait another two weeks, but my patience has its limits. I don’t like evasive people. My mother thinks I should just tell the HR manager to shove it, since she clearly didn’t keep her word and follow-up as she said she would. She feels the company is blowing me off by giving non-committal answers. I haven’t sent anything else yet. Do you think I am overreacting, or is the HR manager being irresponsible here?

You’re overreacting, and you should not say anything like this to the HR manager.

Hiring always takes longer than the people involved think it will. Things come up, higher priorities get in the way, decision-makers go out of town, budget issues have to be resolved, someone resigns and the manager needs to think about whether that changes the profile of what they’re hiring for … and on and on. It doesn’t matter how conscientious employers are about trying to provide realistic timelines; it’s really common for things to come up and cause delays. I suggest taking any timeline you’re given, doubling it, and then adding two weeks to that — and even then, don’t be surprised if it takes longer.

The employer isn’t being evasive with you. They’re not being deceptive. It’s just taking longer. They are giving you non-committal answers because that’s all they have right now. Chastising them over that might make you feel better in the moment, but it will make you look like you don’t understand how this stuff works and will probably kill any chances you had there, now or in the future.

This employer knows that you’re interested. If they want to hire you, they will let you know. You do not need to keep contacting them. The best thing you can do is to assume you didn’t get the job for now, put it out of your mind, and let it be a pleasant surprise if it turns out you did. You don’t need to keep following up with them (and the fact that you keep checking back in and are tracking it this closely is almost certainly making you more antsy about it).

Don’t take any more job advice from your mom; she steered you really wrong here.

5. I don’t want to shake hands at work

I’ve been out of the workforce for a few years, and I expect to return soon-ish. In the past, I had no problem shaking hands, but now I’d rather not — partly because I have some joint damage in two fingers (from a mild autoimmune disorder), but mostly because I was seriously ill and immunocompromised during much of the past year. I’m no longer willing to shake hands and expose myself to Covid/other ailments.

I read a February 2020 question on your site, written by “a moderate germaphobe” who didn’t want to shake hands but who didn’t reference Covid, because this was before the world embarked on pandemic precautions. Under those circumstances, you replied that it’s okay for the non-shaker to say warmly to the interviewer(s), etc., “I don’t shake hands, but it’s very nice to meet you.”

My concern is that, because most people don’t fear Covid anymore and perhaps think that no one should — and it’s become a political football rather than a public health matter — my refusing to shake hands will make me seem like some overly cautious weirdo. Will I make a bad impression on interviewers, etc. if I follow your 2020 advice even though the world is very different now? (I would hope that Covid would have made safety precautions more accepted, but that seems not to be the case.)

Covid is still a good reason not to shake hands, but you’re not wrong that some people may have Opinions about that. I tend to think you’re better off screening out any potential employer who objects to someone taking Covid precautions (what are they going to be like in the next pandemic, or about safety in general?) but I also wouldn’t worry a ton about it — because there are other reasons people don’t shake hands too (hand injury, religious reasons, other medical reasons, etc.).

So yes, this still works: “I don’t shake hands but it’s very nice to meet you.” The key — and this is really important — is to say it very warmly. Go out of your way to put friendliness in your voice, face, and body language so people don’t think you’re being chilly.

{ 521 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    A couple of scripting ideas for #5:

    1. Sometimes, for some audiences, “I can’t shake hands” or “I’m not able to shake hands” comes across better. (If you don’t have complete mastery of tone and delivery, “I don’t…” can come across as stuck-up)

    2. If you can say something right afterwards rather than waiting for them to talk, it will immediately turn the conversation away from whether you shake hands, rather than depending on them to react reasonably. (Example: “We’re so glad to have you on board!” “How was your flight in?” “I’m very excited about working with your team!”)

    1. Lizzie H.*

      Yeah it’s probably easier to plan for a quick transition so people aren’t standing there frozen, wanting to shake hands but not doing it, and not sure what to do instead.

      In the same vein, it can help to offer some other gesture. A colleague of mine doesn’t shake hands either, not sure why (it’s also a recent development, he shook hands before COVID), but he will like advance his fist for a fist bump, and people usually catch on pretty quickly.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        One of my colleagues jumps in before the other person has a chance to reach out and says, cheerfully, “Enthusiastic wave! It’s nice to meet you!” and then waves both hands at them. It’s adorable and everyone always either smiles or outright laughs.

        1. Sloanicota*

          My coworker does a little move where she puts her hands on her chest and sort of bow/nods her head with a big smile (I swear it doesn’t come across as some sort of cultural appropriation when she does it – we are both white) that is very effective; I’ve never seen anybody push back even if others are shaking hands / hugging (I work with some huggers).

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            This seems to be the way for people at my work who don’t shake hands with the opposite sex for religious reasons. *Hand over heart and head bow*

            The issue for this is that sometimes these people will shake hands with those of the same sex, so there is sometimes push-back from opposite sex people who were expecting a handshake and instead getting the head bow. But someone stepping in and saying, “She can’t shake hands with you, dude,” has put people straight without hard feelings.

          2. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

            I was also going to suggest this gesture; my former boss was a muslimah and did this. I think you could also just do right hand on chest and a bow/nod.

            Bowing is a very common gesture across many cultures–obviously in Asia but all 3 major Abrahamic religions do it at some point in their services. I would not worry about appropriation here.

          3. Sleve*

            On this date the Wikipedia page for ‘Bowing’ starts off with the In Europe and the Commonwealth section. White people don’t do it as much anymore but it’s definitely part of the cultural history – so your coworker is fine.

            Fun fact: in white cultures when a girl or woman bows it’s technically a half-curtsy.

      2. Annie*

        yes, the fist bump became very popular with the people I work with, and continues to be after Covid. During Covid it was usually no hand shake and a lot of times no fist bump because of the understanding.

    2. Earlk*

      I would add that if the LW is concerned about people thinking they’re being ott about germs and considering they also have an injury on their hand adding a prop like a hand/wrist splint might make them more confident to say now. Assuming it wouldn’t exacerbate their existing injuries.

        1. Earlk*

          Must avoid girl guides at all costs.

          When I wore a wrist splint this never happened but I suppose it is a small risk.

    3. Melissa*

      I agree with “I can’t”! For some reason, if a person leaves me standing with my hand hanging limply in the air and says “I don’t shake hands,” I feel pretty defensive about it. (Are they suggesting none of us should? It’s the same reaction that some people feel when a friend says “I don’t eat meat” or “I don’t let my children watch TV.”) But if the phrasing is “I can’t shake hands,” my reaction is more neutral/positive.

        1. Christine*

          I agree that’s not the best example. I physically can eat meat. I choose not to for ethical reasons.

      1. Selena81*

        yeah, “I don’t” can easily feel like a reaction, whereas “I can’t” has the implication of “I wish I could”

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This is solid advice. I will also toss in:
      • Lead, so you’re getting your “hand to heart, slight bow” or whatever in to set the tone, rather than leaving them with a hand out that you ignore.
      • Don’t mention covid because touch is not a significant vector for that (but it is for plenty of other stuff). The tone you want to set is “Hello! I’m afraid I can’t shake hands; it’s lovely to meet you! I understand you are the expert on mastodon dentition?” Not a discussion about which diseases are transmitted by which vectors and how serious any of them are. (I had a horrible, flattened for weeks, case of enterovirus, which is transmitted by every vector and usually asymptomatic or very mild in adults. But not in me!) If you feel you need a reason, then a passing reference to the nerve damage in your hand should suffice.

    5. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

      “I prefer not to shake hands” might work as well as a ‘softer’ way to say it but I don’t think it’s quite that weird- I’ve encountered a few people since covid who have said they don’t shake hands, and as long as you’re still very friendly in your refusal, it felt totally fine. (People might still try to shake your hand again LW, at the end of the meeting/interaction, it’s like a reflex- the same way I often still wave goodbye in zoom meetings when I don’t have my camera on!)

    6. Green Mug*

      I keep my arms tucked in close to or behind my body when I meet people. Usually that body language helps ward off hand shaking. But I keep a big smile on my face and I engage in conversation.

    7. JSPA*

      You can even put a couple of big bandaids on your knuckle, and go with, “I can’t shake hands right now.” Then let “right now” become “forever.” (After all, some acute injuries turn chronic…and they’re almost certainly not going to hire you, then fire you for giving up on shaking hands more generally.)

      1. JSPA*

        But if you’re inside, especially now that a quarter of the world seems to be having or getting over a respiratory “thing,” I’d guess that you’d want a mask; in which case, might as well just own that the hand stuff is also “seasonal disease” safety.

        After all, even people who don’t “believe in” covid do “believe” that winter flus exist.

    8. Heart&Vine*

      “I’m not able to shake hands” is much better wording! It makes it sound less personal. If someone gets pushy about it, you can always fib and say, “I think I’m coming down with something and don’t want to pass it along.”

      1. Rose*

        Idk, whenever someone is standing in front of me and tells me they’re sick enough that I shouldn’t touch them, while they breathe in my direction, I’m mildly annoyed and want to ask why they didn’t stay home. I’m probably a little saltier than I need to be (my immune system sucks post-Covid) but I know I’m not the only one. It’s not the biggest deal but since you’re likely to need to say this line over and over, forever, I think it’s not the best choice.

    9. LB*

      Another phrasing suggestion, “Oh, I’m not a handshaker, but it’s great to meet you!”. Similar to “I’m not a hugger”. Conveys a personal preference in a way that seems friendlier and less judgy than “I don’t” and also less likely to prompt speculation than “I can’t”.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        I like this. A hand on heart, slight bow or emphatic nod of acknowledgement is a good first line of defense, but if someone seems confused or put off, a light “Not really much for handshakes, but so nice to meet you!” should do the trick.

    10. LW5 Here*

      Thank you, Alison, for answering my question — and thank you, everyone who commented, for your additional excellent ideas.

    11. Sharon*

      I agree with the comments that a substitute gesture is the way to go. Adding an unneeded wrist brace is not necessary and reinforces the idea that disabilities have to be visible at a glance or they don’t exist, or that a mere preference to not shake hands isn’t valid.

    12. Hillary*

      In the before times I’d put my hands up in a hold it gesture and say I was fighting a bug and didn’t want to share. This was with salespeople who knew me and always immediately go in for the handshake or hug, because sales. Ideally I would turn it into me doing a favor for them with an accompanying laugh.

      These days I end up doing a little wave (other hand in my pocket or holding something) while smiling and greeting them warmly. Most folks pick up on the cues, if they don’t I’ll say something about being careful for an upcoming trip / play date with my nieces / whatever.

      1. Hillary*

        Note that the comment is sometimes true and sometimes social lubricant, but it’s always innocuous. I never get into the deeper reasons.

    13. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’m still masking in 100% of situations where I would meet someone new, and I’ve noticed that people wait for me to signal how I want to greet. I’m fine shaking hands since my main concern is COVID (and since masking means I don’t tend to transmit other germs from my hands to my face holes), but I noticed at a conference that it was very much on me to signal my preference. Just another reason to keep masking, in case anyone needed one!

      (Also, adding my support for “Enthuastic wave!” I have also done a version of this that was well accepted)

      1. PP*

        Excellent input everyone! I loved and love not shaking hands because some people “shake hands” way, way too hard. After decades of putting up with it, I’m done.

  2. Name*

    LW 5 – both before and after Covid, I would hold my hands up and say “my allergies are acting up at the moment” with a bit of a smile on my face, whether or not my allergies really were. Everyone understood and was fine with not shaking hands.

    1. Alice*

      If this works for you, great. But if someone said this to me, I would think that their “allergies” are actually an infectious disease (because I don’t get how allergies would prevent hand-shaking), and they know they are contagious, and they are here at work anyway, but they feel guilty enough that they don’t want to spread germs by touching. It wouldn’t make a good impression on me. Just my two cents.

      1. H2*

        same—there’s no immediate and obvious connection between allergies and handshaking, so best case I would be confused. I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it would definitely give me pause. I wouldn’t think anything at all if someone just saying they don’t shake hands.

        OP, I would do that as soon as you can when the process starts, just so that the other person isn’t left standing with a hand fully extended, awkwardly.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I was thinking the same thing. Why should your allergies matter, unless you’re trying to tell me you sneeze into your hands and don’t wash them?

        But I would probably just say okay and move on, so in that sense it would work!

      3. EcoBee*

        That would be my first thought. I know contact dermatitis exists but it wouldn’t be the first thing that came to mind and I would be confused by how allergies prevents handshaking.

      4. Winstonian*

        As someone with a ton of allergies, this is weird to me too. I don’t like shaking hands myself so I don’t, but putting it down to allergies would actually make the refusal stand out to me rather than just saying “sorry I just don’t shake hands” which I have heard before and works.

      5. Cyndi*

        Yeah, it would certainly get the message across that they don’t want to shake hands and that’s fine, goal accomplished! But I definitely don’t and wouldn’t get what the connection is supposed to be there, and it would itch at me for a good while if someone said it to me.

      6. ThatOtherClare*

        Guys,it’s the implication. My allergies are sensitive at the moment and I’m allergic to LOSERS! Psych!

        (I jest, of course)

    2. ferrina*

      This works if you’ve got the physical distance to make it make sense. If you say you’ve been sneezing then need to be in an enclosed space and you’re maskless, it’s not a good look.

      I’ve also used “my kids have a cold at the moment- I’m not showing any symptoms but I’d to be wrong and hate to pass it along to anyone.” (again, when there was a ton of space and giving people several feet of distance wasn’t an issue)

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I would struggle with hearing this – I got COVID from someone who said “it’s just allergies” and was bedridden with long COVID for a couple of months. It’s also unclear how this is related to hand shaking? I think there are more clear options in Alison’s answer and other comments.

  3. Jackalope*

    Clarification question: what does it mean to receive comps in exchange for coverage? I don’t understand what that is or why it would be a problem.

    1. Holly*

      It’s a bribe, essentially. As a reporter you should tell the truth and not be paid off by the companies you are reporting on.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Companies like to offer to send writers free products in exchange for writing about them. It’s considered unethical to accept that without disclosing it, and most publications that hire freelancers explicitly prohibit them from accepting products from any person/company they’re writing about unless it’s clearly disclosed as part of the piece. (It can make sense to accept a free product and disclose it if you’re doing, say, a transparent review of the product. But where it gets especially shady is where it’s not even a product review — the company is just looking for favorable coverage and essentially wants to bribe the writer to provide it.)

      1. Liz*

        Could you add a note to the body of the post? I was completely baffled by that phrase, I would guess the vast majority of people will not understand it.

        1. ZSD*

          I agree that a note would be helpful. I thought they were talking about not receiving comp time in exchange for covering someone’s work (providing “coverage”) when someone was out sick.

        2. Salsa Your Face*

          I would have also appreciated a note in the post – I specifically came to the comments section trying to understand what that phrase meant.

      2. Sleeve McQueen*

        Hi former Journo current PR person here. It also depends on the market you are working in – US journalists tend to be more scrupulous about this than elsewhere. In Australia, you’d typically disclose at the end of the story if say, someone flew you across the world to attend their event, but not so much smaller things and there’s just not the budgets to purchase things with the organisation’s money anyway. From a PR perspective, we loan journalists expensive items and gift cheaper ones, but there’s no expectation of a positive review. Besides, if you thought something would get a bad review the best action is to not send it to a reviewer.

    3. Mztery1*

      If you work for a publication, and let’s say a play, or a movie or an art exhibit offers, you free tickets in exchange for you giving a good review, in or in some cases, any review at all, that is the issue.

      Interesting in that when I was a music reviewer, we always got passes for the acts that we reviewed. But we weren’t offered comps for a particular performer, just from the venue generally.

      1. Thegreatprevaricator*

        Theatre reviewing its standard that the reviewer gets a comp. To the extent that there are press nights, which will have comped tickets for reviewers. It’s rarely mentioned in the review that they were press eg free tickets. But then again there’s no expectation that free tickets will mean a favourable review.

        1. Lore*

          Book reviewers are also generally sent free copies (usually advance/uncorrected proofs), but as you say, there’s no guarantee of a good review. (Or any review at all. And also if you work for a major press outlet you will see a lot more theater on free tickets than you actually write about.)

          1. Totally Minnie*

            If you receive an advance copy of a book and choose to publish a review of it, the FTC requires you to disclose that you received a free copy in your review.

            1. Lore*

              If you are a regular person reviewing for Amazon or Goodreads, yes, but Publishers Weekly or the New York Times does not run a disclaimer with their reviews and they likewise got the books for free.

      2. Venus*

        I think it’s widely expected that reviewers of performances and books will get them for free so it’s different in that way, plus you aren’t benefitting long-term from a free pair of shoes, car, electronics, etc.

      3. T.N.H.*

        Yea this is different. For example, when you write a movie review you go to a free screening. But no one pays to get in that night. You can attend press screenings of movies as a regular person for free as well so it’s not usually considered a comp.

      4. mreasy*

        Can confirm that it works both ways in music press – some clubs do passes but also managers, labels, publicists etc will provide passes. This is not a quid pro quo in my experience though – they want the writer to be impressed and cover the act, not do it because they got in free.

      5. Selena81*

        In the Netherlands we had a small uproar amongst a bunch of print journalists when they weren’t granted free tickets for Lowlands anymore (while commercial radio dj’s kept their free passes).

        They tried to work it up to ‘freedom of the press’ (probably had a lot more to do with Lowlands being pretty expensive, lol)

    4. Happily Retired*

      I think the OP is talking about businesses giving a writer gifts or benefits (compensation/“comps”) in exchange for favorable coverage. I’m very ready to hear otherwise from the pros, though.

    5. coffee*

      If I have this right, it’s when you receive something for free (complimentary aka comps) and that influences your decision on whether to cover it in your media piece/how complimentary you are about the thing. E.g. if you wrote a review about how great a hotel is to stay at, but didn’t say you stayed there for free, that isn’t an unbiased review.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        Yeah, same way as travel reviews will often end with something like ‘the writer travelled as a guest of Emirates/Tourism Fiji/Dirty Weekends Limited’. It’s for disclosure and journalistic integrity.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        That is how “influencers” work. They accept goods and servics in return for product promotion. Many of them actively and aggressively solicit payments in exchange for good reviews or mentions of the product on their social media. A writer has their core integrity and if it becomes known that they accept compensation they lose their credibilty as a writer. Some writers are influencers and some influencers are writers. It can be a murky stew which is why some companies have very hard lines about writers accepting any kind of compensation.

        1. amoeba*

          Yup. But even influencers have to disclose that (at least here in Europe, I believe there was also some change in legislature some years ago?)
          I see a lot of Instagram posts with either “unpaid advertising/purchased myself” or “paid collaboration” as a disclaimer.

    6. WoodswomanWritez*

      I’m glad you asked this question because I didn’t understand the reference, either. Thanks to Alison and others for explaining the context for the letter.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Thank you from me as well! I was wondering this as I read the question, so I am glad to see it’s already been asked and answered in the comments.

    7. Some Internet Rando*

      I came here hoping someone would clarify. Thanks!

      Also I appreciate the comment about how some influencers work. I have a teenage daughter who keeps coming to me asking for products recommended on Tik Tok. I think this is a succinct way to differentiate and unbiased review from an influencer’s endorsement. She has gotten more savvy about getting independent information (reading actual reviews) but those Tik Tok videos are compelling. :)

        1. Observer*

          It most definitely is. And the ethical ones disclose. There are also some rules in place now so one would hope that it would get better.

      1. lyonite*

        I have a book coming out soon and I was interested to learn that, as part of the marketing plan, the publisher will pay to boost influencer posts about the book. Which isn’t precisely paying the influencer, but it works in the same way. (And if you want to see the really gross flip side of this, search for J.D. Barker on Threads or Twix.)

    8. Hi there*

      It is considered to be a conflict of interest. Getting something for free in exchange for press coverage.

    9. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Payola , for us old folks.
      I read it a couple times and Alison’s answer. It seems OP writes for magazines/newspapers/e-zines, things like that.
      Comps for coverage means that Restaurant X/Gym Y/Spa Z gifts whatever product or experience they sell to a writer in return for an article about them.

    10. JSPA*

      It’s a bribe. Pure and simple.
      Yes, video reviewers have normalized this. No, that doesn’t make it not a bribe.

      If you disclose, and cross-your-heart-swear to not be influenced by the ongoing possibility of more comps, you are almost certainly still influenced (human psychology is pretty straightforward, in this particular way), but at least it’s honest.

      But when your publication gets eyes by making it clear that their reviewers do not take comps, to avoid exactly this problem, and you go ahead and do that? Of course it’s a firing offense.

      1. MK*

        It’s also different when an influencer who works for themselves does it, than when it’s someone who has been contracted by a company, who will either expense the tickets or set their rates assuming that cost.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        A woodworker my husband follows has talked about this a lot, that there’s literally no way to give an unbiased reviewed for something that was given to you. Would something bother you if you had paid for it, but it seems inconsequential in a free item? Would you have ever even considered using this item if it hadn’t shown up on your front door? Are you subconsciously favoring the item because we’ve been trained our whole lives to be grateful for gifts? There’s just no way to completely remove all the factors no matter how hard you try.

        1. Observer*

          Would something bother you if you had paid for it, but it seems inconsequential in a free item?

          That’s a really good question, and one that needs to be directly addressed regardless. Because if you are reviewing something your employer paid for, that’s going to have a similar effect. And so smart reviewers think about this explicitly.

          In the tech world, this is a big issue because tech reviewers tend to be tech heads, and the like the shiniest gizmos, etc. The ones that are a bit older and / or have family responsibilities tend to be a bit better about this, because they are still tech heads, but they more clearly recognize that for the most part what they like / don’t like / can live with is different than for most people. So I see a lot of people who say things like “I love it but I would not recommend this for my parents.” Or “This is cool technology, but it doesn’t really work that well when you have X situation” (eg Phone cameras “cool camera but don’t bother if you want pictures of your kids on a regular basis / you have pets.” Iow, they are addressing the fact that most people don’t care about the cool new tech, but whether they can get “good enough” pictures consistently.)

      3. Observer*

        If you disclose, and cross-your-heart-swear to not be influenced by the ongoing possibility of more comps, you are almost certainly still influenced (human psychology is pretty straightforward, in this particular way), but at least it’s honest.

        Yes. There is a tech reviewer I enjoy who goes through the level of involvement of any company he talks about. So “X loaned me the item” or “Y paid for the travel.” etc. But many of the things he covers he pays for himself (or the company he’s working for). And he also officially doesn’t allow any company whose product he’s covering see the video before it goes live.

        The best reviewers who have some longevity are very open about this stuff because they know that what they are really selling is their credibility and if they try to fool their audience, it will not end well.

        1. Selena81*

          …The best reviewers who have some longevity are very open about this stuff because they know that what they are really selling is their credibility and if they try to fool their audience, it will not end well…

          Exactly. In that world a single credible ‘you did not disclose the important fact that….’ can turn of viewers and end a career.
          So most are pretty religious about it.

    11. LCH*

      thanks for asking, i thought it was talking about comp time for coverage of another person’s work.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      You know how when you read an article and the writer mentions a product or service and then has a note that says “CompanyName gave me X to try, but all opinions are my own”. The freelancer in question took the free X, wrote about X, but didn’t mention the getting it for free part. Comps = complimentary, as in free. Coverage = writing about it.

  4. Roland*

    > My mother thinks I should just tell the HR manager to shove it, since she clearly didn’t keep her word and follow-up as she said she would.

    What would this accomplish? Nothing. Don’t make career decisions based off of wanting to have the last word. And maybe don’t take advice from your mom in interpersonal matters in general because “tell them to shove it” is a wild thing to do to someone who is literally not bothering you. It’s literally just starting shit.

    1. FYI*

      LW4 sounds new to the corporate work world. Yes, hiring takes longer than employers think it will, and it is completely normal to hear nothing for a looooong time after an interview. Or sometimes to get no follow-up at all, even though it was earnestly promised. Sadly, LW4, you must adapt to this. It is very, very common.

      That this is generally accepted as normal in the corporate environment doesn’t mean it should be. It is rude. It is flat-out rude, right on the face of it. There is no other environment where it is acceptable to completely blow someone off, especially someone to whom you have promised a follow-up AND someone who is often in a vulnerable or hopeful position. (Don’t get me started on employers who require tests or unpaid work as part of the interview — and still don’t bother to keep their word.) I would love to see some change in this narrative. For example, if an employer cannot commit to a comprehensive hiring process, then they aren’t ready to hire.

      Has this ever happened to me? Not really. Has it happened to friends of mine who were devastated by it? Yes, when their best foot forward is repeatedly met with rudeness, they have hit the point of being really mentally undone. JOB SEARCHING IS HARD.

      My emphasis doesn’t help the LW, who needs to adjust to corporate ways. But I still say this practice needs to change. It’s not right.

      1. Roland*

        I’m not basing my comment on whether the company is acting well or badly at all. It’s not okay to call someone up just to tell them to “shove it” whether or not they were rude. In reddit terms, even if they were rude, then all you accomplished was turning a NTA situation to an ESH situation.

        1. Laura*

          yeah, exactly. I would definitely not take any more advice on interpersonal relationships from mom.

          1. Anonymous for this post*

            “not the asshole” and “everyone sucks here” It’s shorthand from a subreddit called “Am I The Asshole” also known as “AITA”.

      2. Varthema*

        It’s not great, but as Alison said, it’s often not on purpose, so I think framing it as rude is unhelpful. Especially at companies that are big enough to have processes but small enough to have limited HR and recruitment support, a lot of the work of hiring falls to people who do not do that as their core work and have very little experience hiring. The last time I had to hire, it felt like an Easter egg hunt for information where I didn’t even know how many Easter eggs there were. And then it was the end of the year and budgets for 2024 were unexpectedly getting slashed right and left so I had to wait to make sure we even had the budget anymore. Plus all of my normal duties which were MANY. I did follow up with the interviewed candidates, but those emails had to be pleasant and a bit vague.
        does that mean we weren’t ready to hire? Probably, but that would mean we’re NEVER ready to hire, so I’m not sure that’s helpful either, and at the time I THOUGHT I had all the info I needed. Would it have been better to shove the hiring decision through and then risked having to lay the person off a couple weeks in if my budget got cut? Or should I have just cut all the candidates loose only to repost a couple weeks later when my budget was confirmed?

        Sometimes things run long, things come up. It sucks, but it’s not dastardly corporate practice, or even thoughtlessness (I worried over this a LOT). sometimes it’s just humans humaning imperfectly.

        1. Old Admin*

          I tend to agree.
          After quite a few years in my industry and talking to payroll/HR/hiring managers, I am beginning to understand how much is going on behind the scenes during here. It can take months. It’s a lot to deal with for both sides, and IMHO AAM’s advice is good – stop contacting the company, do not antagonize them, keep looking for interviews elsewhere.
          And if a good offer elswhere comes up, you may want to take if the initial company hasn’t reacted yet

        2. amoeba*

          Also, it’s probably OK to ask for an update once (if only to get closure – honestly, most of the time you’ll just get a rejection out of it, if it’s not something noncommittal!), but give them some grace with the timeline – like, if they say two weeks, maybe ask after 3. Not after two and one day. And if they then tell you that hiring is still ongoing etc., put it out of your mind and don’t ask a second time.

        3. Laura*

          Yep, I completely agree. By this standard, many, many companies and organizations will never be ready to hire. Yet they still need to hire.

        4. SpaceySteph*

          It’s also almost certainly not that poor HR person’s fault, whatever the hold up is. HR is just there to process the paperwork once the hiring decision is made. This is a textbook case of shooting the messenger.

      3. bamcheeks*

        I agree with you generally about employers ghosting people, but this one doesn’t seem bad at all! The only think they did wrong was not proactively get back to LW within a fortnight, but it sounds like LW contacted them pretty quickly after two weeks were up and they immediately got back to her to let her know that hiring was taking longer than expected. HR have answered all her follow-up emails politely and let her know that there’s no decision yet.

        Obviously LW would prefer it if they’d made the decision on the original timeline, but like, stuff happens. They aren’t not making a decision AT her. They didn’t proactively contacting her within two weeks, but all the communication apart from that seems pretty exemplary.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Yeah, I had this happen to me as a hiring manager. I told our top two candidates, “I hope to have an answer for you within two weeks,” and we picked one either the same day or the next day after final interview with the second one… and then the offer didn’t get approved. For a month. And I was left stringing the candidates along, and feeling really bad for second-choice candidate, who we liked a lot, but was only going to get an offer if a) we managed to get approval and b) first-choice candidate said no, but I didn’t want to tell him no while there was still the possibility we might offer.

          And then a month after first-choice candidate started, the company went through a big round of layoffs (not including my new hire, thankfully) and suddenly the delay made a lot more sense.

          I’m not saying that an unexpected extra month in the hiring process means that the company isn’t as financially stable as they think they are, but this stuff can get held up by things completely beyond the control of the people you’re talking to, who gave you the timeline.

        2. Umami*

          Yes, so much this! When I am hiring, I like to handle communications to interviewees as well as all follow-ups rather than leaving it to HR because I can actually do it faster. But if I have provided a follow-up and the candidate just … doesn’t like the content (we are still interviewing, the timeline has shifted, etc.) there’s not much I can do about that, and there are limits to just how much explanation a candidate is owed when things happen that extend the hiring process. There’s an appropriate way to follow up, and not liking the response you receive doesn’t mean the company is incompetent or that they are blowing you off. If someone responded back to me the way OP is contemplating, they would get a polite note back wishing them luck and would be flagged.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, they’ve honestly been more responsive than I would expect at this point! They haven’t ignored OP at all, they just don’t have the answer she wants.

          I think there are two things OP needs to remember:

          1) This is not something they are doing to her personally. She is not the only person who interviewed for this job and presumably they are not giving all the candidates except for her frequent updates! Everyone who applied is in the same boat, just waiting to hear what happens next. It’s frustrating and it may feel rude, but if you respond as though it is some kind of personal attack you would be very out of line.

          2) If you push someone too hard to give you a “yes” or “no” answer and they are not prepared to tell you yes–then their only option would be to tell you no. So what good is it going to do to keep pushing if they haven’t made a decision?

      4. ferrina*

        Honestly, a lot of communications get delayed in the corporate world, not just hiring decisions. If I’m not working on a project that has a hard deadline, I assume that 30% of people will blow past a soft deadline. This could be for any number of reasons- priorities have changed, they are waiting on someone else for approval/feedback, they forgot because there were other things going on, they thought they responded but didn’t, etc.

        If you don’t need to take it personally, don’t. Being able to professionally follow-up with someone is a great skill- some things need to happen on a deadline but some things don’t. Hiring decisions do not have a hard deadline. When you know the difference between a hard and a soft deadline and have a sense of different factors that can impact soft deadlines, that’s a great asset.

        1. AnonORama*

          Yeah, unfortunately there’s the timeline of “person who needs a job [or a new job] stat!” and “company that has multiple processes/moving parts/leadership sign-offs before anyone can be hired,” and they’re just not the same. It’s super frustrating! But you won’t do yourself any favors taking out that frustration on the potential employer’s team.

          1. Umami*

            Exactly! It really can be frustrating. I interviewed for my current job in the month of October and didn’t get an offer until late February, I honestly didn’t expect to hear back after I had a second round interview and then their timeline for the third round (more interviews, open forum, meeting with the CEO, etc.) kept getting pushed back for reasons I was not aware of (much of it was weather-related, which I wasn’t experiencing where I was living at the time and was incredibly uncommon for the area anyway). I didn’t know I was their top candidate, I just assumed their delays were because they were negotiating with someone else and couldn’t let the rest of the pool know yet. I’m sure I would have taken myself out of the running if I had overreacted to the situation.

    2. Phryne*

      > I am tempted to send her a polite but firm letter expressing disappointment

      That sounds like a really effective way to make this HR person go out of their way to put you on the do not hire list and shred your application tbh.

      1. Seashell*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the HR person is already getting a somewhat negative view of the LW from being emailed so much. The first email is good, but beyond that, it seems a little much for such a short time frame.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, one follow-up serves as a second channel in case of myriad “a server hiccuped somewhere” issues. After that you figure they know you are interested and where to find you.

          For that last condition, I’m hard pressed to think of any circumstances in which a firm email spelling out how disappointed you are in them would land the way the typer hopes. It reads the power dynamics all wrong–if you don’t want to deal with them anymore you can just not do so. If you want to deal with them, then you should not be looking for ways to make your wounded feelings heard.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Yes, it’s another case where “GUMPTION!” works against you in real life.

          The whole “shove it!” idea is a lot like guys going negative/threatening when women turn them down. Job fit is to work life what “chemistry” is to dating.

        3. Lexie*

          And the HR person may not be involved in the decision making process and has to wait until they are directed to make an offer. So while LW might feel better for a few minutes after sending the email their message isn’t even go to reach the people they are actually frustrated with.

        4. SpaceySteph*

          HR person didn’t write in but if they had I’d say they probably need to practice some kind of polite brush off that doesn’t include “keep in touch.” (which is probably meant in the “I had a nice time, we should do it again” Friends bit way, where Chandler most definitely doesn’t mean lets do it again)

      2. Cyndi*

        In my personal experience “polite but firm” is one of those “I’m not XXXXXXX but–” type phrases where if you have to describe yourself that way it’s not true.

      3. Cj*

        I figure it must be new readers that write in with these types of questions, because Alison has written about this so many times. But apparently it has to keep getting repeated.

    3. Former academic*

      LW4, it’s also possible that you were one of a couple top candidates, they offered it to someone else, but they are still negotiating and would be really excited to hire you if that doesn’t come together. (This happens alllll the time in academic hiring.) They probably won’t tell you if this is happening, and pressuring them on a timeline will just get you dropped from the “we’d also be thrilled to hire…” list.

      1. amoeba*

        True. A lot of companies only send out the rejections to somewhat promising candidates once their favourite has actually accepted the offer (or signed the contract, hereabouts).

      2. Butterfly Counter*

        This is what I was going to say and where we are now in our hiring for our department.

        We had some outstanding candidates. Our top candidate has some immigration issues that need to be sorted with our HR before we can extend the offer, then the candidate can take a few days to decide whether she wants to work for us. If all that results in the position still being open a week and a half from now (combined with the week it took our department to decide who our top candidate was from the LAST interview, which is almost four weeks from our FIRST interview), the 2nd choice will have been waiting much longer than the “We’ll be discussing this by the end of next week and have a decision,” promise that was made. If 2nd choice raised a stink, we move on to the 3rd choice immediately. No one in our department wants to work with inflexible people who resort to rudeness if not everyone is on their timeline.

      3. Bitte Meddler*

        Yep. Telling a hiring manager / HR that you need an answer or else… Then they’ll of course choose “or else”.

        And they won’t do it angrily or to be mean. It would be done out of kindness: “You said you needed an answer by X-date. We don’t / won’t have an answer by then, so it’s in your best interest for us to say the answer is ‘No’ now. Best of luck!”

    4. Lacey*

      Yeah, all that happens if the LW sends a rude message to HR is that HR thinks, “Welp. Bullet dodged” and has a humorous antidote for the next social event.

      1. Lyn*

        (Love the use of “antidote” here!)

        A couple of years ago, we were torn between two strong candidates; when we asked both for an additional piece of information that could be a tiebreaker, we got an “If you haven’t chosen me yet, you obviously don’t want me working there, go to hell” email from the frontrunner. Probably not the best response, since we’re in a smallish industry and every time I see their name, all I can think of is “… and the horse you rode in on!”

    5. JS*

      Exactly, this will look bad on your end and job searching is bad enough without reading into every little thing and reacting angrily.

    6. Rex Libris*

      This. Bluntly, Mom’s advice is incredibly bad. Not only will it completely tank you for the job, or any other job at that company, you also have no idea what the situation is. Maybe the hiring manager had a death in the family or some other emergency, maybe half the hiring committee has Covid, who knows?
      Regardless, HR is not going to give someone who doesn’t even work for them exhaustive details about what’s going on at the company. They’re giving the best answer they can because you keep asking. I can tell you you’re already standing out (not in a good way), because nobody else is following up this often or insistently.
      Leave it alone, this is just the way hiring often works. There are a lot of moving parts, and any estimations on the timeline are just an educated guess. There are often dozens (or hundreds) of people who apply for an open position, and HR isn’t going to follow up with each one whenever something changes.

      1. ceiswyn*

        I once had a company ghost me for several months. I later learned it was due to a bereavement.

        I worked for them for over four years, and had a great experience!

        1. Expelliarmus*

          On another side of a similar plight, I am reminded of the LW who accidentally “ghosted” a recruiter when her father died and was later told a) that her dad would have wanted her to take that job and b) that the recruiter would blackball her for “getting [their] hopes up” on accepting the offer.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        I think job-seekers can sometimes forget that the other side of the hiring table is made up of people, just like them, and that so many things can happen – both professionally and personally – that interfere with the best laid plans.

        1. Area Woman*

          Yeah, it doesn’t help there is a bunch of bad advice about AI algorithms that reject every resume that doesn’t have exact buzzwords from the posting. I assure you, at least in my industry, we read the resumes. Sometimes though we can see someone is not qualified in less than 30 seconds though. So it might SEEM impersonal, but it more likely means you don’t have what we need.

          And all the delays that make me seem like I am “ghosting” someone almost certainly has to do with HR.

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I just had a hiring process set back two weeks because of an ice storm where half the staff lost power for a few days. When you’re recovering from a situation like that, health and safety are first priority, then essential business operations that had to be rescheduled, then other business needs; a hiring process just falls way down the list, unfortunately.

    7. LCH*

      yeah, telling an HR manager to shove it would only apply in the absolute most extreme situations and if you never wanted to work at that place again or for anyone that HR manager might tell. like the letter from 2014 about having to prepare a meal and entertain 20 people for a job interview along with 19 other candidates.

    8. Paris Geller*

      I would say it would actually definitely accomplish something: letting the employer know this is absolutely someone they would never want to hire.

    9. Hannah Lee*

      This employer knows that you’re interested. If they want to hire you, they will let you know. You do not need to keep contacting them.

      ^ This. It’s the reality of how job searches go 98% of the time. And the other 2%? I think a bit about whether I’d want to work for a company that forgot about or lost track of how to get in touch with a candidate they wanted to hire.

      LW, there is no “recruiting police” or set of hard and fast authoritative standards for how these proceed. As Alison wrote, timelines change, things happen to delay final decision making, sometimes things that may have nothing to do with any candidate or the position (company wide developments, key decision maker out of office, these days even natural disasters like flooding can disrupt best laid plans, etc) It happens, it’s not outrageous when it does, even if it is inconvenient or unpleasant for those hoping for a job offer.

      Your outrage is OTT and counter productive. Assuming malicious intent or gross incompetence when facing a longer than expected recruiting cycle is … a choice. And not a really great one. Getting all huffy, indignant and telling off the recruiting staff or hiring manager “how DARE you! Good day SIR!” would a) come off as really odd: unprofessional and immature and b) is pretty much guaranteed to take you out of the running for any current or future opening with that company, or any company the people exposed to your “shove it” ever have hiring influence at for the rest of your career. If that’s the outcome you want, have at it. But really think clearly about what you’d be doing and why.

      There’s no “scoring points” or “owning” a company who doesn’t hire you (or simply hasn’t got around to hiring you yet!) Nothing to be gained there. You’re better off focusing on continuing your job search, and finding a position that meets your needs.

    10. Artemesia*

      this is such a total misunderstanding of how hiring works. The company has no obligation NOT to blow someone off. Yes it is lamentable that this is common, but the only thing someone accomplishes by whining about it is to be blacklisted. The OP needs to never ask her mother for advice about work — Mom is clueless and out of touch.

  5. Why am I always tired????*

    OP4 – I’ve had 1 week from expressing an interest to first interview, then second interview a month later, then found out I had the job a further 2 months after that. That was for a simple Receptionist position (they had a convoluted employment process!). The job was good and I stayed there about 6-7 years.

    There have been other jobs where I’ve applied and heard nothing, and others where I interviewed and felt positive but heard nothing.

    My husband, on the other hand usually got his jobs through word of mouth – electrician – however, when he wanted to switch to office work, I told him it was a different world, and to be prepared for a much longer wait. He found a job online, submitted his application 3 hours before the deadline, had a phone call 30 minutes later, interview the next day and a job offer (a REALLY GOOD JOB OFFER – an AMAZINGLY GOOD JOB OFFER!!!) 60 minutes later. He’s still there 5 years later, and loving it. I’ve tried to explain that it doesn’t normally work like this in the real world!!!!

    1. KateM*

      I got recently a “we decided to go with someone else” for a job I applied to in the beginning of November. :D

      1. SQLWitch*

        I think LW1 could point out the ironic self-contradiction in every member of a neuroDIVERSITY panel having the exact same disorder without going anywhere near self-disclosure.

        1. Yorick*

          Agree. “I would have liked to hear more about how other types of neurodiversity affect people in the workplace…”

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I applied for a job and the next week I found out I was pregnant and promptly forgot about the job. Months later I was home and nursing my daughter when I received a phone call that I got the job. It was a clerical job and there was obviously no urgency in filling it.

        1. Llama Llama*

          Seven months (?) is insane to not say anything to a candidate. I would have long moved on by that point.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Yes and it’s quite possible they had hired someone, then that person left, and they were going back to their top candidates (one at a time), just in case they were still interested and available.

            No harm done by checking, in my opinion. I would be a bit saltier if it was a rejection after that long, but an offer I would be okay with.

        1. Bitte Meddler*

          Same! It was for a government job. I applied in Feb 2019, started a new job in April 2019, and got a “We’d love to interview you in person!” email from the government agency in Jan 2020.


      3. ecnaseener*

        Was that the first contact or had you had an interview? A little long for first contact, but not long at all for the entire process IME!

      4. Elitist Semicolon*

        I’m still waiting for a rejection letter for a tenure-track position I applied and interviewed for in 2007.

        1. Seahorse*

          This last December, I got an automated email rejection for a TT job where I interviewed and then withdrew in 2019!
          I assume someone was cleaning up lose ends in their hiring portal or something, but I was amused.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            I was doing that for an opening we’d had last year, where we’d hired someone, he quit after 2 days (!) and then had to start from scratch. (I suspect the reality of a 60+ minute commute each way sunk in by then, even though he assured the hiring manager that it wouldn’t be an issue)

            Because of the stop and start, our normal “send a follow up to everyone who applied” process was glitchy. It’s a bit of a thing with me to always close the loop with every candidate (even the way out of bounds ones) because I’d hate to be left hanging, and it’s just the professional respectful thing to do with people who took the time to apply. So I sent the rejection messages to every candidate about 2 months after most of the applications came in.

            One candidate shot back a nasty gram about how it was unacceptable for the decision to have taken that long and demanding that I stop wasting his time. Very strange! I accommodated his wish to not bother him ever again by making a note in our recruiting system that he is not a candidate we will ever consider. Because reactionary hot heads don’t tend to be great, productive employees IME.

      5. Temp Anon*

        I got a letter like that 15 months after applying. It was so long ago I was already several months into a new job and had to look back at my calendar to see when I had even applied. I got another “sorry” letter from them about two months later. Who knows, it’s been several years but maybe they’re still sorry and will send me another one soon.

      6. Siege*

        I like to trot out the time I applied for a job in 2005 and got asked if I was still interested in it approximately 10 years later.

      7. Llama Llama*

        Ha. I once was hired on at a company and during the first week I was there I received a rejection letter (I had applied for two jobs. I was hired on at the higher level job). Obviously I was hired on, so I found it hilarious. Mentioned it to HR in passing. They were horrified.

        1. Siege*

          Yup, I got two rejection letters from the automated system a month apart from the job I was working in at the time.

      8. Sprigatito*

        I interviewed for a job last April, got a “we went with someone else” email a week later, then in OCTOBER got a phone call from them asking if I was still interested in the job….

        1. AnonORama*

          Likely the person they hired in April didn’t work out. I got a call like that recently, and when I followed up, they said they’d gone with the other candidate last year but he had decided to leave.

          In this instance, they were able to tell me what happened because it had nothing to do with his work; his wife was transferred to another state and the job wasn’t full-remote so he moved on. I was glad of the explanation for a call out of the blue almost a year after the rejection, although I decided against interviewing again.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Interactions like that are great, they remind me that everyone* involved are just people, with lives and extenuating circumstances that can change.

            If I was anyone in that triangle (employer, hired employee who quit, person whose application reactived) the door would still be open for working together in the future. No need for “it didn’t work out this time” or “sorry, not the right fit/timing” to be a dead end or leave bad feelings.

            * unless they are bananapants chaos agents or inhuman scheduling bots trolling for dates

          2. Observer*

            Likely the person they hired in April didn’t work out.

            Yes. The fact that it was a phone call is a key indicator here.

    2. Also-ADHD*

      It’s so variable. When I used to be going for entry level jobs (granted, a different era, in the 2000s/2010s), all of my first jobs were one interview, offer within 24 hours. This was true of my teaching jobs too (though it was a bad sign with my first) except overseas ones that required a visa process. More recent mid level jobs, I’ve had experiences as fast as three weeks for the whole process (my current company was very fast) and as long as 3 months between interviews, at one nonprofit. I actually was really excited about the nonprofit but declined the offer when they finally came through because I’d gotten a much better paying job in the meantime. I mentioned my experience and they did revamp hiring, but the key there was they made an offer and asked for feedback on why I declined after seeming so keen! I pointed out that if you pay nonprofit wages (they are never going to meet some corporate orgs in my field), then you have to snap people up when you want them!

    3. Lacey*

      Yup. I’ve had experiences all over the place.
      I’ve heard back weeks or even MONTHS after they said they’d know.
      I’ve also gotten offers the same or next day.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        It is all over the place. When I saw the interview was beginning of January and this person had already written to AAM while it was still January — of the longest January in the history of Januaries — I was all, yeah they aren’t even close to blowing you off yet. This is so normal to me I forget that other people might not realize that this is just the way it goes sometimes.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        My most recent past job took over 2 months to get from initial interview to offer (which is actually pretty fast for the industry).

        My current job went from 1st interview to final interview in one week, and I got an offer the same day. My head was spinning from the speed!

    4. Peon*

      When I hired in at my local university, it took 10 weeks from interview to job offer. And about 3 weeks from submitting my resume to the first screening interview. No manager WANTS it to take 3 months or more to fill a position they finally have approval to post, but it happens.

      And if the manager is hiring the first time with that org, they may not have realistic expectations themselves about how long things take there.

    5. Venus*

      I applied for my first job in November, interviewed in January, was told in March that they were waiting on funding, and got confirmation of hiring in June. If they have an expected timeline then I would message them at the earliest a week or two after that time, and I would only followup once or twice at most. It is good to show interest, but doing it too often says that you aren’t familiar with hiring timelines and are impatient (it’s more excusable in someone new to working, whereas if I had someone experienced emailing regularly for an update then I would wonder about their patience).

    6. Daisy*

      I applied for a job in August. Got an email last week that they are “withdrawing the posting” and not hiring at this time. And I applied for a job in October, at the screening interview in November they said “we’d like to have someone in the position by the first of the year.” My first interview was in mid-December, second interview mid-January, and still no word. At this rate, it will be late February before they get someone in the position.

  6. Happily Retired*

    Re: #5

    Alison, I’m curious. Wouldn’t it make sense to perhaps say something like, “My hand is a bit banged-up at the moment, so I’m not shaking hands, but I’m delighted to meet you”?

    That seems vague enough not to be disclosing a medical condition, and it avoids the whole How Dare You Think That I Have Germs bs that now plagues this semi-post-COVID world. As a gardener, my hands are frequently banged up!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It works in some situations but in cases where you’re going to be encountering the same people over and over, it can get a little weird to keep citing a temporary thing every time (like a cold or hands that are banged up “at the moment”).

      1. AnonInCanada*

        Maybe OP#5 can instead politely say to someone reaching their hand out to shake “I’m really sorry, I’m not comfortable shaking hands. Pleased to meet you!” I can’t see anyone be offended by that, and OP doesn’t have to disclose anything nor be deceitful in any way.

      2. Sleve*

        They could modify the script slightly to “I’ve hurt my fingers, so I’m not shaking hands, but I’m delighted to meet you”.

        Still vague, but fingers can be permanently hurt so it works for repeat encounters. It also has the benefit of being a bit of an inside joke, since with an autoimmune disease it really is you that’s hurt your own fingers (or a part of you, at least).

    2. Smithy*

      I do get that the OP saying their hand is “banged-up” falls under using misleading language vs half-truth or white lie, but as AAM said – the association of that language with injury I think offers far more avenues to awkwardness down the road if the OP gets hired.

      My mom has a position where occasionally she’d be offered food by external people she’d meet through work – and instead of declining by saying she wasn’t hungry, or accepting with the mention that she’d eat it later (and then not) – she got into a habit of declining by saying she kept kosher. Like many conservative Jews in the US, my mom keeps parts of kashrut – but nothing close to Orthodox observance. The first time this happened, I do think there was likely a pork product in the food – and the line felt so easy and polite, she started using it for items that did not meet her normal definitions of kosher.

      For people she only met once, I guess that was an approach. But she was doing this around her coworkers, and I always flagged that it risked being viewed at best as confusing if not more negatively as my mom at plenty of other food not cooked in kosher kitchens. And again, saying very warmly and graciously “thank you so much, I’m not hungry right now, but I appreciate the offer” – is a perfectly kind way to turn down food you do not want to eat.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It wouldn’t actually be a half-truth or white lie, LW says in the letter they have a hand injury.

        (Also, I think your mom is totally on solid ground saying she “keeps kosher” even if she doesn’t limit herself to OU-certified kitchens, that’s a pretty normal thing to say! People know there’s variation.)

    3. amoeba*

      Maybe just lose the “at the moment”? They do apparently have legitimate ongoing issues with their hand, so I’d have no qualms leaning into that and leaving the other reasons out to not spark some kind of political debate…

  7. Andy*

    #1 Would your feedback necessarily require disclosing your own diagnosis? Like, would submitting feedback in and of itself indicate you yourself are neurodivergent, or could you just comment that you noticed it was specifically about dyslexia when you were expecting a more broad discussion? I read “awareness panel” as open to all interested, or was it more specifically marketed towards neurodivergent people?

    1. Another thought*

      I had the same thought! Could you say your understanding of ND is that it includes a wider range of differences and you’re worried it could make some people feel more excluded (because if you feel this way, others probably do too) without outing yourself? You would run the risk of them following up with you and wanting more involvement from you, but I think you could deflect that. And FWIW, if they wonder why you care or why they should believe you, could you be vague and say that some people you are close to/care about are ND (yourself being one of those people!).

      Incidentally, what they did is so strange and ignorant. It would be like having a panel on LGBTQ experiences that only featured one letter, or a panel on racial/ethnic diversity with only one race/ethnicity represented. I’m sorry you had that disappointing experience.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        This panel line-up was incredibly insensitive on the part of the event organisers. Either they don’t know what neurodiversiry actually means, or they couldn’t find anyone at the company other than the people with dyslexia who felt comfortable self-identiying – but in both cases, they should not have held this event.

        Sometimes there are weeks on this site when multiple stories of malfeasance and/or stupidity in event planning coincide, and it looks like this is one of those weeks. Again, apologies to this OP on behalf of all the decent event planners everywhere.

        1. Zelda*

          It may be too much to hope for, but I can’t help thinking that “*a* Neurodiversity Awareness Panel webinar” is not necessarily “*the* Neurodiversity Awareness Panel webinar.” Like, the panel they had would be a terrible place to stop, but it might not have been a bad place to *start*.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            If they had marketed it as — part of our panels on neurodiversity, we are presenting Dyslexia in the Workplace, it might have hit differently.

            But the still cringe advice of put your diagnosis in your email signature would be cringe no matter what they called the panel. Would you tell someone with diabetes to put that in their signature? Or someone who used a mobility aid?

            1. Kel*

              The ‘put it in your email signature’ made me curl up in mortification and terror.

              I don’t need every single person I email knowing about my health, let alone something as stigmatized as neurodivergence.

            2. sparkle emoji*

              The email signature suggestion could make sense for dyslexia and basically nothing else. And even then you’d need to balance the benefits of that(people don’t assume all misspellings are carelessness?) with the stigma. The fact they presented it as a Good Idea that all ND people should be doing is WILD.

              1. Also-ADHD*

                I don’t even really think it makes sense for Dyslexia, because I think it will make people more likely to look for and judge mistakes in some cases (if the goal is to explain how to write?)

            3. Some Words*

              Well, this group would, apparently. I’d say the leaders need more diversity training themselves, before they sling out any more advice.

            4. fhqwhgads*

              Yes, exactly. Advertising it as “neurodiversity panel” and then only presenting one kind of neurodiversity is super rude as it comes across as they don’t realize or care about other kinds. If the organizer’s goal here were “this is the dyslexia one, and there will be others” and just failed to properly communicate that, it’s a smaller snafu. And very easy for them to clarify and apologize for after receiving the feedback.
              And has NOTHING to do with the identity of any person providing said feedback.

            5. DivergentStitches*

              NGL there’s times I’ve wanted to say something in my email signature about my neurodiversity because it would keep clients from getting on my case about some things, but I also don’t think it’s professional personally.

          2. leeapeea*

            I came here to suggest feedback framed along these lines. It’s not unusual for DEI groups to be run by well meaning individuals that aren’t wholly informed, but because they’re well meaning hopefully they’re open to growth! “Thanks for the ND panel, it was very informative about the panel members’ experiences with their dyslexia. I hope you plan to continue this series and cover other ND related topics. It would a shame if this was a one-and-done event.” Obviously adjust tone to your tastes, but this is similar to Alison’s common advice of “OF COURSE you didn’t mean to NARROWLY address one form of ND as the entirety of your programming!”

            1. SopranoH*

              I’m assuming the panelists were other employees. I feel like the organizers had issues finding people with other diagnoses for the same reason that OP doesn’t want to disclose. That the organizers decided to go forward with 4 people with the same diagnosis instead of rethinking the whole thing is pretty baffling.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              That’s to hint-ey a message. “Thanks for the panel. It would have been helpful to know in advance this was specifically about dyslexia, rather than ND topics more broadly. I hope future events have clearer descriptions.”

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I am not ND but would probably contact the organizers if I attended this panel. I have a parent with dyslexia, and I would be very surprised to see that diagnosis represented by one person on a panel about neurodiversity, let alone the entire panel.

        3. Sloanicota*

          This panel is an example of, why, when dealing with personal and intimate subjects that go beyond the scope of the workplace, it may honestly be better to do nothing vs do a bad job, something I’ve noticed before. DEIJ is *hard.* It takes a lot of thoughtfulness. If you’re going to half-ass something, you will likely do more harm to the most vulnerable people than if you kept it extremely broad and just focused on creating a respectful workplace culture on the higher-level, versus trying to delve into sexual politics, neurodiversity, and racial inequities when you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve seen more of these go wrong than right TBH.

        4. Festively Dressed Earl*

          I’m betting it was a mix of the two reasons – company has no idea what neurodiversity means, and so they just grabbed the employees who were comfortable speaking up and added a Powerpoint. The organizers should have educated themselves first, and possibly asked local NGOs that deal with neurodivergence if they’d like to speak.

        5. just some guy*

          It’s bad, and yet so many organisations manage to do even worse. I’ve known orgs to arrange “neurodiversity awareness” events with no ND people on the panel at all.

      2. Steve for Work Purposes*

        Seconding the “I have a relative/someone I’m close to that is ND” phrasing, I’ve found it works really well. Re neurodiversity but other stuff (health issues/pushing back against ableism in other areas, etc).

        1. Jo*

          So very helpful for talking indirectly about any sort of lived experience: “this has affected people close to me”. That person close to me might be me, but I don’t need to share that.

          1. Rage*

            Yes, this. You can absolutely share your feedback couched as “loved ones” who are ND / diagnosed with ASD.

            I would worry that, with anonymous feedback, if there are others in your org who feel the same and also submit their anonymous feedback…if the organizers will think “oh, it’s just one disgruntled employee”. Putting your name on it may make them take it a bit more seriously. They might just shrug that they may have somehow offended an unknown person’s loved one, but feel a bit chagrined if they know they offended OP1’s family member.

      3. Vespertine Chronique*

        These happen too. Been to multiple allegedly LGBTQ+ events that forgot about the B – or even included biphobic comments!

        It’s fine, and I’d even say desirable, to give feedback about lack of diversity in the neurodiversity without publicly self-IDing. One does not need to be part of the affected group to want to learn more about it. If anything, neurotypicals need awareness the most?

        1. JenLP*

          I frequently provide feedback on the diversity and accessibility of events for my company for things I’m not connected to but rather just saw someone talk about their experiences on social media. I always frame it as something that should be taken with a grain of salt cause I’m not impacted but I still raise the issue.

          Two examples – we had a video sharing a touching story about colleagues helping another colleague – who used ASL to communicate. The video had subtitles for the ASL but not for the spoken words – meaning the colleagues using ASL likely couldn’t understand the video in a self-sufficient manner.

          Another example is the use of mentimeter trivia quizzes (think Kahoots for adults) for icebreakers. The faster you answer correctly, the more points you get. It’s absolutely ableist – folks with dyslexia or processing issues or whatever aren’t going to have a fair / equitable shot. I’m a fast reader and usually end up in the top 3 most of the time because of it and I still bring it up – I feel like it means more cause making it more equitable will diminish my advantages and make it harder for me to win. But it still should be done. (I’m gonna put my soap box away now)

          Basically, if you notice inequality or inequity, raise it as an issue, even if it’s not affecting you. Organizers can determine if they should take steps or not, but at least you tried.

          1. Media Mouse*

            I just did that for a large meeting where the mentimeter trivia questions was used. I did not even think about this – and I’m so glad that you mentioned this. Just sent an email to the trivia organizers to see if there is an allowance for the program to not time/score in such a manner.

        2. merula*

          Oh have you also been invited to Queer in the Workplace events whose “coming out at work” tips were limited to Use your partner’s pronouns! Put up pictures!

          In 10 years of my employer’s sponsored LGBTQ+ group with regular guest speakers, there has been exactly one Bi person invited to speak. The erasure is real.

          1. Your Mate in Oz*

            It can be fun to ask whether polyamorous people are counted as LGBTQ+ just to see what the response is. It’s cropped up in AAM a few times.

            In the USA it’s complicated by the employee being dependent on the benificence of their employer for medical coverage. At least in Australia getting “family health insurance” for a traditional/non-nuclear family can be really quite challenging. (or even something as simple as a same-sex couple with a kid who has an involved donor). That’s definitely something a DEI-enthusiastic employer could proactively bring up at a QUILTBAG positive work discussion :)

          1. Media Mouse*

            Yep. The “A” does not mean what most people think. The erasure is also real for those who fall under the “A” spectrum.

      4. JS*

        Alos as someone who is neurotypical- I would have been disappointed to go and not hear about a variety of experiences and advice on how to support and help those who are neurodivergent thrive.

        1. Betty*

          Yes, I agree with that exactly. I think the OP can say “this was really disappointing because it was very narrowly focused AND didn’t even acknowledge how limited its focus was” without that in any way implying anything about their own ND/NT status

      5. Observer*

        Could you say your understanding of ND is that it includes a wider range of differences and you’re worried it could make some people feel more excluded

        To be honest, I don’t think that the OP needs to be that tentative. You don’t have to be dealing with your own neurodivergence to *know* that the term encompasses a *lot* of conditions.

        if they wonder why you care or why they should believe you, could you be vague and say that some people you are close to/care about are ND

        I would hope that even minimally competent DEI people would know better than that. But if not, there are a lot of resources to point them to, in terms of why they should believe the OP.

        If someone involved in DEI asked WHY I care, I think I would be so astounded that I would just gape at them. Because that’s like asking why do I care if kids go hungry. Sure, most people are not running around crying about it all of the time. But if someone says “Hey can we do a food collection for the local shelter?” asking “Why do you care?” would be the weirdest response. Even from people who oppose the collection for perfectly valid reasons.

      6. Observer*

        if they wonder why you care or why they should believe you,

        My other response has not shown up yet, but here are some pages to point them too. Not a TON of information, but it’s clear that you simply cannot talk about “neurodiversity” as *one* thing.



        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity (And yes, I know that wikipedia is not a scholarly source, but it’s great as a starting point.)


      7. Chick-n-Boots*

        I came here to suggest the same thing – and I actually think your last paragraph would be the perfect thing for the LW to include when giving feedback!

        I’m not neurodivergent but if I had gone to a panel discussion about being ND and seen only one kind of representation, I’d have absolutely given feedback on how badly that was done. Why didn’t they just reframe it and call it what it was – a panel on dyslexia?? That just seems like such an obvious thing that I’m having a hard time understanding why no one thought to make that simple change.

        I think it’s worth giving that feedback and I don’t think the LW has to disclose their own diagnosis to do it. But the organizers DEFINITELY need to hear that they missed the boat with that panel!

    2. Skippy*

      I would have liked to hear perspectives from people who have a variety of neurodivergent conditions on strategies for working together effectively.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Same. I have ADHD and am anxious so I need the conversation in the workplace to move forward. lol

    3. Goldie*

      I’m sorry you are disappointed. I have dyslexia and so do my kids and I’ve never heard any presentations on it, so I would appreciate it. I would never include this fact in my e-mail signature though.

      I think suggesting another better represented panel is the way to go!

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Yes, having a panel on dyslexia is a good thing, if they’d called it a panel on dyslexia!

        1. AngryOctopus*

          My thought was that it’s the first of several panels, but they didn’t go a good job of making that clear when they sent out invites. May be worth digging into what they have planned for the future (and if nothing, encourage more!).

        2. I Have RBF*


          Don’t have a panel on dyslexia and call it a panel on neurodiversity; it’s not.

          If I were doing a panel on neurodiversity, I’d invite people who knew about multiple types of neurodiversity, whether or not that had them themselves. Maybe start with a discussion about the many types of neurodiversity, and how they effect people in the workplace. I’d mentions things like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, tourette syndrome, OCD, hyperlexia, synesthesia, developmental coordination disorders, acquired neurodiversity (TBI, MTBI, stroke), intellectual disabilities, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and Down syndrome. I’d also point out that people who have these usually do not disclose them because of stigma, and they should not be pressured to do so.

          1. Chick-n-Boots*

            Some of these were conditions and diagnoses I wasn’t familiar with so thanks for pointing me at some stuff to go learn more about! I love your idea as well and think that sounds like it would have made for an awesome panel discussion on ND. :)

    4. Ms. Murchison*

      Came here to say the same. It seems like just calling the event planners’ attention to the fact that dyslexia alone does not a neurodiversity panel make, and that as a member of the company (without further personal details) the LW desired to hear more about the breadth of neurodiversity, including autism, depression, anxiety, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, and more. Give them the list, show them what they missed. And if they try to cop out, claiming that no one in the company is willing to own up to having these conditions, point out that they need to go outside the company for specialists to speak on these topics because identifying with these conditions can have negative repercussions at work. Which is precisely why good panels on this topic are needed, to combat those negative impacts in the workplace.

    5. Lizzie H.*

      Seems indeed quite feasible not to disclose – obviously the recipient might suspect, but probably not dare to draw conclusions or gossip.
      One way to deflect the specifics could be to list some other types of neurodivergences and not just ASD, so that it’s unlikely that one person would have all of them and they can’t know which one you might have. My company recently had such a panel as well which mentioned ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and Tourette syndrome. Can google some more probably!

      1. Earlk*

        I believe Fetal Alcohol Syndrome fits under it as well. I don’t think the LW would have to disclose anything to say something along the lines of “I enjoyed the panel on Dyslexia but the way it was advertised implied it was for all neurodivergent conditions and not just the one.”

      2. Rage*

        Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Down Syndrome, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and social anxiety all fall under the “neurodivergent” umbrella. And all of those would absolutely have an impact in the workplace.

    6. londonedit*

      This is what I was thinking…surely it would be quite straightforward to approach it from an ‘I was interested to attend the neurodiversity panel, but found it disappointing that the discussion focused on dyslexia. Of course, it’s important to recognise the challenges of dyslexia, but there are many other forms of neurodiversity and I think it would have been useful for the event to touch on more of those, rather than just on one’. No need to get into personal experience.

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, I’d probably be quite happy to write that kind of feedback and I don’t actually identify as neurodiverse! I don’t think that would out LW (or even give anybody “suspicions”…)

        1. Willow Pillow*

          “Neurodiverse” is an oft-misused term – it applies to populations and not individuals. A panel of dyslexic individuals is not neurodiverse, for instance. Individuals are neurotypical or neurodivergent.

          1. ceiswyn*

            You. I like you.

            I know this battle is lost but I’m still fighting it. One person cannot be diverse all by themselves.

            (Yeah, yeah, ‘we contain multitudes’ notwithstanding)

            1. Zephy*

              I know some plural systems that could conceivably describe themselves as “diverse” while existing on the material plane as a single individual.

              1. ceiswyn*

                That is fair. I could argue that a plural system is more than one person, but let’s be honest, I had just forgotten about plural systems :( Bad ceiswyn, no biscuit.

            2. sulky-anne*

              Then again, “gender diverse” is sometimes used by individuals and it doesn’t make any more logical sense. But I think the main reason “neurodiverse” grates is because it pretty much always seems to be NT people who use it.

    7. BRR*

      I think there are plenty of ways for the LW to offer feedback with disclosing. They could even sort of fake some positive feedback with something like “I’m happy the company organized a neurodiversity panel. I hope there will be more panels in the future featuring people with other conditions.”

      1. Charley*

        I think it could be helpful to frame your feedback in terms of ‘I was hoping to learn more about how to support my coworkers with a broader range of neurodivergences.’ If it’s an ‘Awareness Panel’ rather than a support group, I’d think that the organizers would expect plenty of attendees to be there as allies looking to support coworkers.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yeah, this seems like the easiest thing. Presumably neurodiverse and neurotypical staff alike were both invited, so feedback doesn’t have to be about one’s personal brain configuration. “This was so interesting! Looking forward to future panels on other types of neurodiversity!” is straightforward, enthusiastic, and true without having to disclose anything.

      3. Procedure Publisher*

        This was what I was going to say. “I was not expect the neurodiversity panel to be only focus on dyslexia. Can we included other types of neurodiversity in future panels?”

    8. Helvetica*

      I had the same thought! If it is marketed as “neurodiversity awareness”, I think many people might wonder why the panel was just about dyslexia, which may fall under that umbrella but is not the only possible way of being neurodiverse, without them being neurodivergent.
      You don’t need to tie it in with fact that it made you feel excluded – as you note – but a broader point about the event itself not being inclusive in nature, to any and all participants.

    9. Interesting Socks*

      I think that a general response which has been outlined by many of the commenters here would not reveal any specific personal neurodiversity. It has worked for me in the past. I’m now comfortable about sharing my ADHD at work and have found it very liberating as I don’t feel so guilty every time my mask slips but I get this isn’t going to work for everyone or every work place. Perhaps it might be worth suggesting that external people/organisations with other areas of expertise could come in to talk about different experiences with neurodiversity if no one who is employed there feels they can be open about theirs.

    10. Kez*

      If the LW wants to be more open about how this made them feel while avoiding specific disclosures of a diagnosis, I think that saying something along the lines of “As a member of the community, I was disappointed to see panelists only representing one form of neurodiversity. Part of the emphasis of neurodiversity as a movement is to celebrate a wide variety of neurotypes, so this panel didn’t hit the mark for me and might have made other folks feel excluded too. I hope that in the future there is more representation and discussion of a variety of experiences…” etc. etc.

      If there was any sort of follow-up or suggestion that you do the labor of making this happen, it would be perfectly fine to say, “Part of my reasons for not disclosing this information about myself is the stigma surrounding various diagnoses in the professional world. I would want to see more indicators that the company is deeply committed to a positive and supportive approach with a wide variety of neurotypes before I felt comfortable sharing private medical information with others in the professional setting.”

    11. Gracia*

      I agree — my sister is on the spectrum and I would attend this kind of work event just to get ideas of how to collaborate effectively. As our mom ages, we are spending more and more time as collaborators on caretaking, which is more like “work” and less like our previous sibling relationship.

    12. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, someone doesn’t have to personally be neurodivergent to find a panel that presented itself as a neurodivergent panel but then was limited to only dyslexia frustrating! I’m sure a lot of people there would have the same feedback.

  8. PDB*

    It’s not “I don’t shake hands,” it’s “I can’t shake hands” and maybe a 2 or 3 word explanation if necessary, “Joint damage.”

    1. WS*

      +1, this is what I do. It’s also true, but people have accepted it much more since Covid started. I always say it lightly and with a smile, keeping my hands well out of the danger zone, and I’ve never had any problems.

    2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Yes, I’d probably say “sorry, can’t shake hands – dodgy fingers!” with a smile.

      Covid is primarily transmitted by the infectious person breathing it out and the next person breathing it in. This is why air filters and fitted masks (respirators) are protective. Hand washing is pretty irrelevant on that front, though a good idea for reducing other germs.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        SIde note — there was a rather disturbing study that found a high correlation between covid tramsmission and nose-picking. As someone who never manages to not rub my eyes when they itch, that made me twitch.

      2. Seashell*

        Dodgy isn’t a commonly used word in the US, so if you’re declining to shake hands with an American, they might be confused or ask what you were talking about.

            1. Prismatic Garnet*

              It is really commonly known in the US, even if you didn’t know it. It’s just readily identifiable as British, like if you said “It’s in the boot of my car” or “on holiday.”

        1. Clisby*

          I’ve heard it – not frequently, but not rarely, either – in the US but usually to mean something like risky, or shifty. Like a dodgy investment, or a dodgy plan.

          1. Observer*

            in the US but usually to mean something like risky, or shifty. Like a dodgy investment, or a dodgy plan.

            Yeah. Same here.

            Wonky, damaged or painful are all perfectly fine substitutes. Each one is different, but nothing significant in this context.

        2. Cruciatus*

          I’m in the US and didn’t think anything strange about the word “dodgy”, so maybe it’s regional. But a substitute might be “wonky”. But if I were the letter writer I would just explain “I have some hand pain so I don’t shake hands” and I think everyone would just go “oh, OK”.

        3. ThatOtherClare*

          Well, today I learned a thing. Some parts of the US don’t use the word “dodgy”. I’ll file it away next to fortnight :)

  9. Bookworm*

    LW1 – I feel for you because I have several neuro “spicy” diagnoses (and some that I suspect) but I don’t have the money or time to get. None of my diagnoses are dyslexia. I know they suffer, but I’m really trying to imagine having a NEURODIVERSITY panel that only consists of dyslexic people. Which, thinking about it, may be the only people they could find who would willing admit their issues in front of anyone much less a crowd of people. I personally would go for anonymous feedback if you can. Alison – I read your post about leaving notes, but leaving anonymous feedback via survey feels different and more honest. If someone isn’t in the position to actually be able to challenge their bosses (or maybe their peers) for fear of retribution or being fired (which I know is wrong, but doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen), isn’t anonymous feedback better? It’s more likely to be honest for most people.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, this might have occurred to the people who planned this event if they had thought through their speaker line-up – which they clearly didn’t do. The whole point of panel discussions is to have a variety of different perspectives!

    1. Quantum Possum*

      Which, thinking about it, may be the only people they could find who would willing admit their issues in front of anyone much less a crowd of people.

      We run into this with our own panels. For instance, putting together a “mental health” panel ends up with, like, 4 participants with anxiety and 1 with cPTSD…and nobody else.

      I mean, I get it. I have bipolar 2 disorder, and while I’m perfectly fine talking about that with people face-to-face, I don’t have much desire to sit onstage in an auditorium and give a speech on it.

      1. the very busy caterpillar*

        cPTSD or PTSD? I feel like it’s socially acceptable to have PTSD because it’s associated with military/emergency service, but cPTSD is too similar to personality disorders, which are seen as moral problems, and evokes some uncomfortable issues. How did people who attended the panel respond?

        1. HannahS*

          I do not appreciate comments that are focused on splicing who, exactly, has it the worst. It does not advance anyone’s rights, nor does it build empathy. There are people with cPTSD who suffer less than people with PTSD, and the inverse is also true; it is not widely socially accepted to have PTSD. People lose their jobs, relationships, and lives over it.

          Everyone’s subjective experience of traveling through life with neurodivergence or mental illness is different, and everyone’s negative experience is going to feel most salient to them. We don’t have to downplay someone else’s suffering to legitimize our own.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I have cPTSD, and most of the people I’ve talked to about it have no idea that it’s different from PTSD at all.

          1. ferrina*

            cPTSD is a really recent diagnosis. The WHO only added it to the ICD in 2018, and the American Psychological Association hasn’t distinguished it from PTSD in the DSM.

            Most people I’ve talked to don’t know much, if anything, about cPTSD. I’ve seen people treat the symptoms as personality disorders, but I’ve found that the diagnosis has the same response (and stigma) as PTSD.

          2. Quantum Possum*

            This has been my experience, too. Most of the audience doesn’t know there’s a distinction at first, but we try to explain in layperson’s terms. We have a lot of current and former military personnel who did multiple deployments to active war zones, and cPTSD is pretty common.

        3. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          As a layperson, think the usual stigma around personality disorders is partly that they’re something you “are” (ie, some sort of immutable characteristic), while cPTSD is something you “have”, a struggle that you’re working through (and, given the situations that caused cPTSD, part of a wrong that was done to you). There’s a stigma around both, but it’s much lighter for cPTSD than personality disorders.

          That said, personality disorders aren’t actually immutable. As a child of someone with (probably) an undiagnosed/untreated personality disorder, I’d love to see the stigma of having a diagnosis disappear.

      2. CTT*

        Yeah, I’ve definitely put together panels before where it turns out to be a lot of the same because that’s who volunteered and canceling or delaying wasn’t an option. I usually try to acknowledge it in some way though, which this panel should have done.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Yes, something as simple as acknowledging the lack of diversity in the panel could have helped. And maybe opening the door to it being the first of (hopefully) a continuing series of panels that could focus on a different neurodiversities.

      3. Oh, See Dee!*

        I think that if the organizers asked around for neurodivergent people who might be interested in hosting a panel and only dyslexic people responded, that’s an important data point for the company.

    2. Common Taters on the Ax*

      It’s so true that those with dyslexia may have been the only people who wanted to participate; the LW is probably not unique in being unwilling to bring it forward. And I’m not going to criticize the panel for volunteering. I can’t even think of what they should have done once they noticed the lack of diversity, or what they could do in response to anonymous feedback. Should they call the whole thing off? Send out a message saying, we’re sure some of you have neurologic diagnoses, so why aren’t you volunteering? Ask people to encourage coworkers who might have mentioned a diagnosis to come forward? They all seem wrong. The only thing I can suggest they do differently is acknowledge the lack of diversity and encourage people with other diagnoses to volunteer…while emphasizing that they respect everyone’s right to keep personal information private.

  10. Smithy*

    #3 I recommend finding someone in your orbit who you have a friendly/kind relationship with but can give you thoughtful criticism and repeat practice. Basically not the family member who says everything you do is wrong, or the friend who thinks everything is perfect.

    There was a period in my life when I was transitioning jobs from a nonprofit that was working on an issue some people found more political and all the baggage with that (support, disagreement, ambivalence, cluelessness, etc). Think working for an organization like Planned Parenthood but not well known.

    While I had the language picked out that I wanted to use, I was still nervous/awkward saying it out loud in a job interview context. It sounded like a stiff scripted line as opposed to my natural speech. I was really lucky in finding a job placement organization where I got a job coach that was able to identify this, and he had me practice saying those phrases over and over in responses to different questions. It helped those lines become more my own, but the other thing he stressed was the confidence of not continuing to talk. That when you finish the thought, to stop, and allow a few extra beats for an interview to realize they can move on. The more I did it, the more “me” it felt and the easier it was.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A good idea. I’ll add that the states I’ve lived in have free job placement services in Dept. of Labor, sometimes associated with local community colleges. At least my current state had lists of job hunting support groups, but I last lookd before Covid.

  11. Heidi*

    “I am tempted to send her a polite but firm letter expressing disappointment with her lack of transparency and follow-up in regards to the hiring process.” I initially interpreted this as a “Take this job and shove it” letter. However, the LW then mentions that this is what their mother told them to do instead, which makes me think that the LW intends to send the “I’m disappointed in you” letter while still applying for the job. If that is the case, I would strongly recommend against sending the reprimand. The 3 polite follow-up emails sent after the interview might have already created a not-great impression. A 4th letter would probably take them out of the running entirely.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      I SHUDDERED at this. LW needs to do absolutely nothing. He is not going to accomplish anything but further annoying people who were considering hiring him.

      It doesn’t matter what timeline they gave you or outcomes they hinted. Once you’ve interviewed and followed up once, you’ve done everything you need to do. Leave them alone and forget about that job, as if you know you’re not getting it. It is out of your hands, and no amount of admonishing them or trying to chivvy them along will be in your favor. Yes, you too. No, you’re not an exception either.

      1. AnonAnon*

        Agree. Do nothing. I have been on all sides of this coin and stuff happens at companies.
        – One time I applied for an internal role and the HR rep had a family emergency and was out of work for a while with no backup to extend the offer.
        – A role I was at for over 15 years, it took them 4 months to extend the offer to me.
        – I am hiring now and my HR rep went on vacation for a month!!
        It is wild in the hiring world.
        In addition, I found out that HR people and recruiters talk cross-company! I was very naive to this. For one role I was hiring for, my HR rep knew some of the candidates from a previous company and the way acted during interviews, etc. and I was given the heads up before I could even read their resumes. Black-listing is a thing. And LinkedIn makes it even easier to communicate these things across HR organizations.

        1. LK*

          One time I was up for a promotion that would have affected no one but me. It was just a title and pay bump in the same role I’d been doing. I’d already done all the legwork to qualify, and there was a clear process laid out in my collective agreement… Then the head of our org. died unexpectedly. In addition to this throwing the org into disarray in general, he was the one who signed off on all hiring and promotions. Needless to say, there was a delay.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly – they’re not snubbing you, the process is just taking longer than they hoped, which is a totally normal thing that happens all the time. My current job, I had a verbal offer in May for a start in early June (their given timeline). Things dragged out so long I didn’t get the formal offer til Labor Day and didn’t start until late Sept. It happens.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yep. The only 4th email would be something like “I I interviewed with you #weeks ago for the llama groomer. I have received a job offer at another company, but I’m still fascinated with your ABC product line. If you’re making a decision this week, I can delay my response to the other offer. If not, I would have to withdraw from your hiring process.”

    3. Golden*

      Agreed. Maybe OP could post their thoughts about the hiring process on Glassdoor if it would make them feel better, but no need to reach out to HR again.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Not even post on glassdoor because there is nothing in this hiring process that is really bad or unusual. There’s not 7 rounds of interviews for an entry level job, not a take home project that takes hours to do, no weird screening tests. It’s been less than a month — interview was January 2, its now January 31 and the person wrote in before today. Also HR has been extremely responsive and as open as they can be. They told her they are still interviewing, which is more than you get most places. They aren’t going to say, yeah we are still interviewing these people, on these dates, then we have to all meet but the VP who has final say can’t meet for the next 3 weeks after interviews end, etc.

        This actually looks like a functional hiring process.

    4. CommanderBanana*

      Having been on the other end of hiring, if I got a communication like this it would go straight to whoever was making the hiring decision, and get your application yanked and any future applications sent to the circular file.

      I agree that it absolutely sucks to be told that you’ll hear something in a certain time frame – and HR, please stop saying that, because at this point I think we all know that hiring almost always takes longer than anyone thinks it will – but a response like this is not going to do anything but tank your odds of getting the position. It also sucks to be on the receiving end of communication like this when you absolutely want to fill the position but the actual process is taking forever and there’s nothing you can do.

    5. LCH*

      i totally don’t even ask for a time frame any more (and places really shouldn’t give them). i mainly ask about the number of steps in the process. is this the only interview, are there multiple interview stages expected, etc. but less than a month is nothing in my experience. obviously it depends on your industry/job level/type of employer.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Seriously – and I do feel awful about it! We interviewed a candidate three times, including one in-person interview, and I thought she would have been a great fit, and then the higher-ups decided to wait until after the new year to consider hiring and then we just…didn’t hear anything about hiring for that position again.

        I’m not HR and can’t email her directly, but I sure hope someone apologized and explained what was going on, and that she wasn’t hired not because of any issue with her, but because of our own internal disorganization and a bunch of other factors totally outside of my control.

    6. Heffalump*

      I’d be interested to know how old the LW’s mother is and where she got her ideas of how things should work. Parents having outdated ideas come up on AAM from time to time, but you’d think that “don’t bite the hand you want to feed you” would be timeless.

      1. Caliente Papillon*

        Unfortunately, there are a lot of hot heads out there raising more entitled hotheads. I mean, critical thinking anyone? Sheesh

    7. JustaTech*

      One of the most valuable things I think I’ve learned here is that hiring always takes longer than you expect (and as a follow on, no, there aren’t “hidden messages” in the communications during interviewing).

  12. Lbj*

    #1 I also don’t think direct feedback requires disclosure—you can point out the gap between how the event described itself and what was offered. If the goal of “neurodiversity awareness” is to support people from different perspectives and degrees of spiciness in communicating and collaborating, do the “of /course/ you’d want to take a much more diverse approach”….to approaching diversity, lol. (I also wonder how the organizers selected the panel participants—were they from an org that makes themselves easy to find and book for events or were the panelists employees from your org? If the first, it should be no trouble to find other speakers from more varied experiences; If the second, there’s also a feedback to be given about bringing in outside speakers rather than any expectation that colleagues/fellow employees will step up to be the face of neurodivergence)

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      That’s a very good take on the process. I have a speech impediment, ADHD and I’m also a POC. I don’t want to be asked to participate because I tick all the right boxes. I’m a one person panel.

    2. A person*

      I agree that it shouldn’t require disclosure. I recently requested that our admin team reprint a sign that had a pretty cringey ablist message to it (removing the sketchy portion) or just take it down. It was pretty easy to say “this isn’t good” without disclosing my own neuro-spicy issues.

      I think it would be fine and fairly easy to say “if the intent was to celebrate neurodiversity in the workplace this didn’t hit mark as it was so narrowly focused on one specific type of neurodiversity”. You can even list other neurodiversities without saying that you’re one of them.

      I hope you’re able to find the words to give the feedback without disclosing if you don’t want to!

  13. TG*

    LW#4 – while I also am not a fan of king hiring processes you have no idea of the circumstances going on that might be causing it to extend.
    Telling the HR Manager to shove it is the worst advice possible.
    Look elsewhere and if they contact you great and if not, that’s not great in their part but is this really a hill you want to die on?
    I started a process in November 2023 with a company but also have been looking elsewhere as well. It’s moving along and I think I’ll be getting an offer this week after 8-9 weeks including 5-6 weeks without a peep from them . I have another one coming quickly…it was 2 weeks from reach out to offer is coming. You never know where you might land and to blow off someone and do it unprofessionally will only make you look bad, not them.

    1. EchoGirl*

      …And now I’m imagining what a “king hiring process” would look like. (And yes, I know it’s a typo, but it put the image in my head.)

        1. Sharpie*

          52 or so – Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark just became king; Queen Margrethe ruled for 52 years before abdicating a few weeks ago. (No, the Danes don’t have a great big ceremonial coronation like we do in Britain. Cue me disappointed when I learned that!)

      1. michaela*

        You can ask Sweden. They hired Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s generals, as their king (early 19th century)

        1. Sharpie*

          Technically, Napoleon put one of his generals on the Swedish throne, having run out of brothers (he’d already given Italy to one brother and Spain to another). Bernadotte switched allegiance to Sweden and started putting Swedish interests ahead of French interests and Sweden just went ‘Y’know what? He’s a good one, we’ll keep him!’

          Marshall Bernadotte has a descendant on the Swedish throne to this day, over 200 years later!

          1. Sharpie*

            Oops, I was wrong, I thought Napoleon put Marshall Bernadotte on the Swedish throne. You’re quite right, they picked him, as someone Napoleon would approve of in days when that was rather important due to the political landscape of the time.

            But the current King of Sweden is still from the House of Bernadotte either way!

          2. Poly Anna*

            The same started to happen in the Netherlands (Louis Napoleon going native a little and taking their side), but Napoleon decided he would just rule things himself if his brother wasn´t going to be in his corner.

        1. Anon for this*

          But you need to open the process up to external candidates so that you’re seen to be fair, right?

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Actually, there’s apparently a bit of a mystery about what it did look like in Celtic Ireland. Apparently, that is the one thing Brehon Law did not explain, which is…really odd. Kings were related to their predecessor, but weren’t necessarily the eldest son or even a son at all. A cousin or brother or uncle could succeed, even if the king had sons.

        Various suggestions made have been that they were elected by the king’s wider family, that the king appointed his successor, that there was essentially a power grab when the king died and so on.

        1. Zelda*

          Everything I think I know about Celtic kingship, I learned from the Sister Fidelma mystery novels. (As presented there, they went back a certain number of generations in the male line from the current king, and all the male descendants of that guy were candidates and had a say in the selection. So the author seems to be following that first suggestion you mentioned.)

          Alexander of Macedon only ran around with the army for about four years before he became king by acclamation. So I guess that’s a pretty short king hiring process.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            I love the Sister Fidelma mystery novels. Murder mysteries and Brehon Law are two of my obsessions, so yeah. I am so much the target audience for those books, it’s not even funny.

        2. Phryne*

          I studied the Vikings and Anglo Saxons in the early middle ages, and in the Germanic cultures, primogeniture was not really a thing either. The oldest son certainly could follow a father, but it was not a done deal. A king at the time was first and foremost a military leader and had to have it win the trust of his warriors. Primogeniture was favoured (and pushed) by the church of Rome, as was the ‘ordained by God’ thing, but the Germanic cultures took a long time to adopt the practice even after Christianisation. Their way of ruling simply had no room for weak kings. The eldest son of William the Conqueror never ruled as king in the eleventh century.

      3. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        The late Catherine Heloise wrote a story about just that!


        Applications are invited for the position of King of France. This is a senior management role, with direct responsibility for the Kingdom of France, including the Île de France, Reims, Bourges and Orléans. Direct reports include the Duchies of Normandy, Burgundy and Bourbon, and the Counties of Tourain, Anjou, Maine, Auvergne, Toulouse, Flanders and Champagne. As such, the successful candidate will require excellent leadership skills, and should have demonstrated ability to work without supervision in a high-pressure environment.

        The successful candidate will be of French birth and blood, and will be able to provide proof of royal lineage. The ability to sire an heir is essential, and married candidates with legitimate heirs will be preferred. Documented descent from a Trojan or Greek hero, or alternatively from a saint, is also desirable. The successful candidate will have extensive experience in mediating between rival factions, and should also have some familiarity with administrative and financial matters. Given the current state of international affairs, military experience and the ability to make strategic alliances are also desirable. Proven ability to keep the English under control would be an advantage.

        France is not an equal opportunity employer, and applicants are advised that women cannot inherit in Salic lands. Please send your application, along with your pedigree, to marianne@hr.france.

        The rest can be found on her Stories Under Paris site, under the title ‘Most High, Most Potent and Most Excellent Prince’

      4. ceiswyn*

        Ask the Norwegians. When Norway split from Sweden at the start of the 1900s, they put quite a bit of diplomatic effort into hiring a royal family!

  14. pcake*

    OP4, please ignore your mother’s poor – but no doubt well meant – advice.

    I know many people who were told by interviewers that they’d hear back in a week or two but ended up taking a month or longer. In every case where we know for sure, the higher-ups took longer to make the decisions, based either on needing to make financial decisions or just putting the decision off, possibly because things needing to be dealt with immediately came up.

    Being professional means being courteous. Even if they decide not to hire you, leaving them with a good impression means they will consider you in the future.

    1. cardigarden*

      Yeah, I’m getting the impression that OP’s mom is talking like A Mom and not a hiring manager. Aka: You’re my kid, I know you’re qualified/I’ve taught or want to teach you how to advocate for yourself/conflating hiring interaction and general social communication etiquette in a “it’s very rude to leave someone hanging about an invitation” kind of way. For me, it’s coming across as an incorrectly calibrated lesson on self-advocacy.

      But, yeah, OP, don’t listen to your mom on this one. The second follow-up would have put you in the “too many emails; exhibits some flags” column for me and the third message you’re considering would take you out of the running entirely.

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    4. It can be frustrating when job searching not to have any feedback, but I always add more time to whatever the recruiter/hiring company says will be when they respond. My personal record between application and interview was 3 months, although the resulting offer arrived fairly quickly.

    Also, how many times have people had interviews for a position where it’s apparently urgent to recruit somebody, but then the process grinds to a halt?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yeah, my rule of thumb is to reach out after the longest timeline I’ve been told plus an additional week. In this case, that would be:

      January 4: HR says expect a response within two weeks. Two weeks later is January 18. Add a week because hiring always takes longer than expected, and I would have sent the “I am still interested in this position; have you made a decision yet?” email on January 25. And then I would have expected the response to be along the lines of “still interviewing candidates, no decision yet, we’ll let you know,” because, again, hiring takes longer than expected.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      A little over a year is my personal record. Granted, it was for a fed position and involved transferring a security clearance, but still. After all that, I ended up leaving in six months! Took longer to get hired that I was actually even there.

    3. Heffalump*

      Ca. 1983 I interviewed with the owner of a small business. He said he’d call the successful candidate the following Friday, and if I didn’t hear from him by Friday, it was close, but no cigar. Friday came and went, and no call. I was sorry not to be hired, but I appreciated not being strung along. Of course, as a sole proprietor, he was in a position to make a quick decision.

  16. Awkwardness*

    I am always so confused by letters like #4. What exactly do you think you can accoplish through complaining to the employer?
    You do not want to alienate them or raise the impression that you are rude, pushy or do not understand business norms.
    If you are a favorite so far, this seems like a good way to make the employer reconsider their good opinion of you.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I think people leave interviews believing their performance was either pass/fail, and now they just want the employer to tell them which it was. In their minds, the employer has interviewed them, there’s a job opening, so they have everything they need to make the decision and it shouldn’t take longer than a half hour of musing. When the timeframe of the interviewee’s patience has run out, they mentally believe the “pass” option has evaporated and they now think they’re free to chastise the employer for not giving them the courtesy of a reply. I think it takes a while to develop the “que sera sera” approach to job hunting as opposed to “Was that a pass/fail; please tell me now” internet quiz approach.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Yeah, a lot of people seem to treat it like a test.

        And while it kind of is, it is nothing like the tests you take at school and university. Job interviews are like a test where only one (1) person is allowed to pass. Doesn’t matter how great and amazing the rest of the applicants are – there is only one opening, so all except the employer’s top choice get a rejection.

        From that point of view, it’s actually nice if employers don’t make that decision lightly. Ideally, the people in the adjacent jobs will have a lot of say in who gets the job – and these people will have a regular job to do, too. These two factors alone will push the timeline further down, and that’s before considering that all kinds of problems can turn up along the way.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It’s also a test where the person who passes might choose to pass a DIFFERENT test instead, so test-givers withhold results for everyone else until that person accepts.

        2. ferrina*

          Job interviews are like a test where only one (1) person is allowed to pass.

          And even that has caveats:
          – The job opening can be cancelled or changed at any time for reasons you will not be informed of. You likely won’t even be told if the job opening was cancelled.
          -The interviewers are not grading on the criteria you think they are. No matter what they’ve told you or what you think you know about the field, there’s always something else. There’s human bias to account for, there’s things that are left out of the job description (intentionally or unintentionally), and there’s always an element of “we won’t know completely what we want until we’ve seen all the options”
          -The test may not end with that one job. In a small set of cases, they will follow up with you. A new job was just created that they’d like to offer you; the original candidate didn’t work out and would you like the job? There’s nothing to lose in leaving the door open.

        3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          It’s a test where they grade on a really severe curve. The top of the curve gets an A+, and everyone else fails.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I definitely get the impression many people see it that was. I see so many comments here and elsewhere along the lines of “I did a good interview but didn’t get the job. What did I do wrong?” when the reality is, it’s very likely they did nothing wrong but one other person either did slightly better or had one particular piece of experience or qualification that made them stand out (or perhaps the interview was just biased towards them or made a poor choice for some reason).

        Norms can also differ in different fields. For teaching in Ireland, it’s often common to get a response very quickly if you are being offered the job. I once got an offer while I was on the bus back after the interview, so probably within an hour of the interview. That was particularly quick, but about two days is common. If you haven’t heard by the end of the week, for a lot of jobs, it’s likely you haven’t got it. This isn’t always true as different schools work differently, but four weeks would very likely mean you’d been rejected. They often don’t call rejected candidates at all.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          It’s the same in England; when I switched from industry to education, it was a bit of a culture shock because I was used to being contacted eons later, if at all. I was astonished at my first job offer – I hadn’t even gotten home yet from the interview. I thought “Oh my god, they must LOVE me.”

        2. AngryOctopus*

          I had that too, interviewing for LastJob, I went in and spoke to everyone, and then on the bus back I got a message that said I should expect an offer and what time was good to call to discuss it tomorrow. Granted that was a startup and the 3 people I spoke to were the company, and they were all together in the same space, so it was a quick matter of them chatting after I left and telling the recruiter. But that was unusual! Job before that, where I ended up for 10 years, had an intital interview and then the second was like a month later around other’s schedules and my 2 week vacation. Then a further 10 days to the offer. And they were also moving pretty quick, as a slightly bigger startup!

        3. CommanderBanana*

          Yup. Having now been on the other side in interviews, sometimes it’s not even that you weren’t the best candidate!

          At my last org, we interviewed for a position and had 1 stellar candidate, 1 unqualified candidate, and 1 candidate that was a walking parade of red flags. The red flag candidate got the job, because the stellar candidate that we all advocated for was a woman and a POC, and our director, who had the final word, is a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, lawsuit waiting to happen.

          1. ferrina*

            Seconding. It doesn’t even have to be as nefarious as the isms (which are a very real problem in hiring).

            We went with a second-choice candidate because he had a qualification in an area that we were hoping to expand into in a couple of years. It was relevant at the moment, but our organization hated hiring, and if we wanted this skill, we might not have a chance for quite a while.

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              I once had a principal (not of the school I teach in) tell me he rejected any applicants that had experience teaching at college level because the school he was principal of had a high number of students with additional needs, poor literacy, etc and he felt that somebody who was used to teaching adults who had chosen to study the subject in question (Ireland tends not to have Gen Ed requirements so people are usually studying the subjects they are good at once they get to college) might find it difficult to simplify to the level necessary for a 13 year old reading at a 7 year old level or to deal with student with significant behavioural issues.

              I would guess other principals might see experience of teaching at the college level as an advantage, as they would be able to prepare students for the learning style there.

      3. londonedit*

        Yeah, a lot of people seem to think ‘If I did so well in the interview, why aren’t you offering me the job??’. They don’t consider that there are many, many different factors in play and it’s not a case of hiring the first person who impresses them in an interview. The idea that the interviewer will stand up at the end and say ‘Congratulations, you’re hired!!’ and shake your hand is completely wrongheaded and I would say pretty much never happens. The interviewing process usually takes a good few weeks and there will usually be a few candidates in play, and making a decision usually involves speaking to other stakeholders within the team, or discussing with a higher-up manager, or whatever. I always think of it like the Olympic 100m final – all of those athletes are superhuman, they’re at the absolute top of their game, they’re better at running than 99.99999999% of the population. There may be less than a second between the top three. And yet someone has to get the gold medal.

        1. A Penguin!*

          It (offer at the end of interview) definitely happens, it’s how I got my first job. At the time I thought it was great; now it’d make me cautious about accepting.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            I once got an offer sort of…during a phone interview? Like I sent off my CV and the principal called and…half-interviewed, then told me any of the answers that weren’t what he was looking for didn’t matter anyway…”you’ve no experience? Ah well, you have to start somewhere.”

            It was as red flaggy as it sounds. Let’s put it this way: I’ve since been asked at interviews about that school in the context of. “Tell me about a discipline problem you dealt with and since you worked in x school, I’m sure you have plenty to choose from.” I had classes which came in and pushed over the desks or threw coins at each other.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            The recruiters here do offer at the end of the interview, but it’s for high turnover unskilled manual labor. We just need people who will show up and be willing to work. And we always need more of them. The specific position, management and support staff, are hired normally.

          3. Heffalump*

            It happened to me in 2000. If I may brag, my future manager said, “Your portfolio is outstanding, and you’re an A candidate,” which was certainly good for the old ego. I worked at that company for the next 13 years. I’d been in the workforce for a few decades at the time. It’s probably for the best that nothing like this happened on the first job I ever applied for. It would have given me unrealistic expectations going forward.

    2. Ray Gillette*

      It’s the kind of shitty advice that parents give to their adult children because the parent wants to feel like they’re helping, but there’s nothing they can actually do to help the situation.

      Recent grads take this shitty advice for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because they have no workplace experience and don’t grasp that the working world doesn’t work like college (where you can sometimes negotiate for a better grade). Sometimes it’s because their only workplace experience is retail and/or foodservice where it is actually pretty common to get hired on the spot. And sometimes they know on some level that the advice is wrong, but they don’t feel emotionally ready to defy a directive from their parents.

  17. Despachito*

    OP1 (the panel).

    Given you do not want to disclose your condition at work, I would mentally write off your work’s activity as useless, give some non-committal answer showing that this was not your cup of tea, and move on.

    Repairing it would require a lot of effort with uncertain results, with a strong possibility that you will have to reveal what you do not want to reveal. As you described it it does not seem worth it (given the weird advice with the signatures, I doubt that they would be able to give actionable advice on your condition as well).

    I find it weird that they want to mix health and work issues to this extent.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Well, it has to do with the brain, which is technically part of one’s health.

        I think Despachito may be saying that it’s weird to mix any personal issues with work in that way. It often seems intrusive when people want to talk about other people’s bodies and brains.

      2. Despachito*

        I admit that it was not the best choice of words, but I could not think of anything better.

        I basically meant “the ways how our brains are wired” – it is not an health issue per se but it is “human-hardware related” and a lot of people perceive it as a similarly sensitive thing as proper health issue.

      3. Slartibartfast*

        Mental health is health. That includes all the neurospicy flavors, same as any physical congenital condition.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I would argue that health/neurodiversity issues by definition impact the workplace! Employees being human – and how the various flavours of human interact – is a major factor in getting work done. Nobody blinks and eye at a workplace running a DiSC workshop but it’s essentially the same as thinking about neurodiversity: how do different mindsets/personalities function and how can improve the way they work together.

      So yes, employers SHOULD be thinking about, and getting their employees to think about, everything from whether their washrooms are accessible to how office lighting might affect people with migraine/sensory sensitivities to how to improve understanding an collaboration among people with different neurotypes, because that helps work get done better and more efficiently.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree so much. Diversity and Inclusion is not just the morally right thing to do, it’s also important from a business perspective! Let’s look at just a single impact of neurodiversity inclusion- employee retention. Employees are more likely to stay at a company where they feel comfortable and trusted. Neurospicy employees may feel like they need to hide their diagnosis to avoid stigma (the stigma is SO REAL), and will often mask (i.e., put effort into hiding their symptoms). Masking is exhausting. There are a few best practices that can make everything a lot more comfortable for neurospicy people (and often benefit neurotypical people as well).

        Managers don’t magically know how to create an environment that is inclusive. Expecting managers to magically know things isn’t fair to the employees or the team. It just makes sense for the company to provide educational opportunities so managers have the tools that they need to support their team. Including best practices for accommodating and being inclusive of neurodiversity (whether or not you think you have someone neurospicy on your team)

    2. Kel*

      We have a Persons with Disabilities Network that advocates for employees with disabilities and organizes panels like this to reduce stigma and promote equity.

      I think that is a 100% reasonable mix of work and health.

    3. Coverage Associate*

      California lawyers can’t be the only professionals in the world required to take regular competency trainings about cognition issues that could affect our work. It’s usually about addiction and dementia, but there are probably cross over education credits on anti bias and neuro diversity.

      Still, California lawyers is a group of a few hundred thousand, I think.

  18. Albatross*

    For #4, my experience is basically that they’re not going to contact you in any way unless you’re moving to the next stage. Anything they say to the contrary is… it sounds nice, but it is very unlikely to actually happen. I’ve been applying to jobs since October and have gotten an actual rejection from two companies, and one of those was after I got to the second stage. You’re just not going to get a rejection letter.

  19. Deborah*

    Re: #5, OP’s joint issues are a completely valid reason on their own not to shake hands and to use one of the scripts above. However, for avoiding Covid, a high-quality N95-type mask (plus good ventilation, harder to control individually,) is the key, as Covid is airborne and spread primarily through aerosols. Plenty of germs are spread through contact, so avoiding a lot of handshaking makes sense for someone who’s immunocompromised (and frequent hand-washing is good for everyone,) but in terms of avoiding Covid, doing those things but not wearing a mask (something OP may very well be doing as well,) makes no sense.

      1. SarahKay*

        But OP#5 isn’t worried about avoiding Covid, they’re worried about being judged by (unreasonable) people for looking like they’re trying to avoid Covid.
        And in my experience said unreasonable people don’t usually know or care much about how Covid is actually spread, so they’re not going to think “Oh, OP#5 isn’t wearing a mask so not shaking hands is nothing to do with Covid”; they’re just going to make a (bad) judgement and potentially be unpleasant because of it.

        1. SarahKay*

          Sorry, my bad, I didn’t read OP#5’s question properly. Although they do say that Covid isn’t the only germ they’re trying to dodge.

    1. Alice*

      There’s a hilarious meme where someone took one of those “how to wash your hands” graphics that originally said, “wash your hands with soap, keep doing it, keep going, now you have done it!!” and changed it to: “step 1, wash your hands. Step 2, put on an N95 or higher respirator. Step 3, make sure it’s on tight. Step 4, good, now keep wearing it.”
      What a tragedy it is that people who want to protect themselves and others are not being informed that COVID is airborne, or that masks and respirators are not the same….

    2. Swix*

      Plenty of good reasons to avoid shaking hands, but for avoiding COVID a good mask is going to make the most difference.

  20. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – Alison’s advice is bang on. You’re taking this way too personally. The HR person has no control over who the hiring manager hires or when the decision gets made. They’ve been as open and upfront with you as they can be. A LOT can happen that pushes the timeline of a hire back. Could be that some candidates weren’t available when they needed to interview them, or that the hiring manager was sick / unavailable / on vacation, or many other things could have happened.

    Sometimes, the hiring manager has a very unrealistic idea of what they can find in a candidate at the compensation range they can afford, and needs to see a bunch of people and take a few weeks to realize that they are dreaming. The HR person will have kept good candidates warm until this realization takes place. But the HR person can’t tell you that – all they can say is that they haven’t finished interviewing.

    If you’re no longer interested in the role, you can certainly withdraw. You can even point out that the length of the process was a factor. But there’s no point complaining about something that isn’t at all unusual or that the HR person was not responsive enough. They’ve been pretty responsive to your follow up messages.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This always reminds me of the days when I worked retail. People would tell me that I should have lower prices, or carry this product, or rearrange the floor in a different way, without realizing that I am literally on the bottom of the food chain here and have no control over anything that goes on in this store.

      The HR person you’re dealing with probably has absolutely no control over this process, has a million things on their to-do list, and really just wants this process to be done as much as you do. But like you, control of the process is out of their hands.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        The thing I liked most about our management at CVS is that we were allowed to say “As a cashier, I have no control over that” or “Management is allowed to make that decision but I cannot” to people who wanted lower prices or to complain about inventory or to use something expired.
        In the same way, this job offer may have very little control over a number of factors. Are they waiting on funding/a grant/a complicated budget change? Do they have 6 people to interview who have a certain qualification they want? Are they changing a process, and think they might need to interview people with a slightly different profile? Are they waiting on offer #1 to be accepted/rejected/negotiated, and you’re actually #3 so they’ll offer it to #2 first if they can? Did the hiring manager go on vacation? Did HR go on vacation? Is the CFO on vacation and they need acceptance of a higher salary for the position first? And these are just the things that immediately leap to mind. So so many factors go into hiring. In the future, LW, you should reach out once, a bit of time after you’re initially told, and then you have to walk away and let what happens, happen. I know it’s hard, especially if you really liked the job and/or thought you killed it at the interview, but reality has to supersede what’s in our heads!

      2. ferrina*

        People would tell me that I should have lower prices, or carry this product, or rearrange the floor in a different way

        That brought back memories. I worked at a fast food place in high school with a limited menu. People would special order an item (think “hamburger with no bun”), then tell me I should give them a discount because they weren’t getting as much food. Except little 16yo me 1) had no authority to do that and 2) HAD THE PRICES LITERALLY PRE-PROGRAMMED INTO THE MACHINE. I’m not sure what they thought I would do- hack the machine? Steal from the til and be short at the end of the day? Hand over my own money?
        I ended up explaining that the prices were pre-programmed, and it would be great if I could but unfortunately it was all in the machine. And that is where I learned the trick of “blaming technology builds comradery”

  21. Mouse*

    Letter #1. I fully get not wanting to share your own diagnosis with your company. Would something like the below be possible.

    “I was glad to see [company] organised a neurodivergency panel recently. I k ow an organisation of our size is going to have a mix of both neurotypical and neurodivergent colleagues and I support all our efforts to make our neurodivergent colleagues feel seen and supported. To that end, I was disappointed that the panel had such a narrow focus. Dyslexia is not going to be the only neurdivergence represented in our company and whilst I appreciated hearing about the experiences of my dyslexic colleagues and how working practices can change to fully support them, in future I would also welcome learning about the challenges other neurodivergent colleagues face and what we as a company can do to ensure a supportive and inclusive workplace. I realise the panel may have had a narrow focus for a number of reasons but if one of those was that no-one with other types of neurodivergence volunteered to speak then we may need to focus on why and what we as a company can do to change that going forward.”

    1. Sharpie*

      I like this! It says everything that needs to be said without announcing ‘and I’m one of those neurodivergent people who wasn’t included in what the panel was ostensibly about’.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Oooh this is perfect. No disclosure and gets right to the heart of the problem — hmmm why don’t people feel safe disclosing at work.

    3. mreasy*

      I don’t think this type of work discussion should be reliant upon coworkers with disabilities speaking about them. It’s very possible to educate the workplace about how to accommodate ND colleagues without requiring them to out yhemselves.

      1. just some guy*

        In my experience, neurodiversity initiatives/education conducted without significant representation from ND people are almost uniformly awful. “Nothing about us without us”. Having neurodivergent people willing to disclose and talk about our experiences is tremendously valuable.

        For junior employees who are still trying to figure out whether this is a place where they can safely disclose, being able to see others who have disclosed is a very useful indicator. I made the decision to disclose in part because I’d seen an article in the work newsletter where another employee talked about how her managers had accommodated her bipolar disorder.

        But the other extreme – where ND people are expected to do all the work and to disclose as a way of boosting the org’s diversity metrics, whether they feel safe doing so or not – is just as bad. IMHO a good neurodiversity inclusion strategy needs to lie somewhere between the two, encouraging contributions from ND staff without taking those contributions for granted.

  22. bettyboop*

    #1 Oh this is my very particular flavour of jam! I’m a neurospicy nerd who deos this sort of thing in my workplace. This is a long answer so I’ve tried to divide it up!
    a. I don’t think you’ll need to disclose your particular flavour of neurospiciness to make a complaint on this subject. As people above have said you could easily say something like you have a neurodiverse family member/friend.
    b. It might be worth sending them a article about neurodiversity and reminding them the other groups. One way to frame it is I just read xyz and it might be helpful. Harvard Health has a particularly good intro article.
    c. Neurodiversity Celebration Week (at least in the UK) is coming up so maybe send them the website for that even if your international it has some amazing information, examples and resources (and events but they might be limited to UK only) that will be useful
    d. Maybe suggest a public speaker or someone that could do a webinar on other neurospicy conditions. It could be they simply didn’t have anyone which is a problem in itself but sometimes coming across a helpful softens the blow.
    hopefully this helps my fellow neurospicy friend!

  23. Kella*

    OP 1, I do encourage you to offer feedback, anonymously if you can. I might lead with the fact that the very definition of neurodiversity includes *diversity*– a multitude of variations in the way people’s brains work. To represent only one condition isn’t a representation of neurodiversity at all, it’s one manifestation of neurodivergence.

    I’m also wondering if the fact that there were no other forms of neurodivergence is indicative of a larger problem. Perhaps dyslexic folks were the only ones who felt comfortable volunteering for the panel, and other folks feared the judgement or stigma they’ve seen at the company. Or perhaps the panel organizers are only aware of a couple diagnoses under the neurodiverse umbrella and that limited their pool.

    Either way, if any change is likely to happen, your feedback should be very valuable.

  24. anononon*

    Good luck, OP5. I don’t share your Covid concerns, but I do empathise with your hand pain. A few years ago I was literally wearing a plaster cast on my right arm and some dude at a recruitment agency was still trying to force a handshake…

    1. allathian*

      Oh no. My SIL is a Lutheran preacher and about 5 years ago a member of her parish council who disapproves of women preachers crushed her hand so that he broke two of her metacarpals. She wore a sling for months and shaking hands was painful for more than a year afterwards. She resorted to wearing the sling for months longer than was medically necessary, and started offering left-handed handshakes instead. Her job is one where she can’t really refuse to shake hands on principle, although the Covid pandemic, while making her work a lot more difficult in many ways, gave her the perfect excuse to avoid shaking hands for a couple years.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      I was surprised at how often that happened to me while I had a cast on my right arm. I was pretty young at the time, so maybe it didn’t dawn on anyone that there was an actual, painful injury underneath that strange object, but who does that?

  25. Quantum Possum*

    OP #1 – No need to disclose your own diagnosis when submitting feedback, whether it’s anonymous or not. You can say something like, “This was helpful for understanding dyslexia and its impacts. However, it would have been more helpful and inclusive to address other types of neurodiversity as well. This session was disappointing for attendees who were hoping for a well-rounded, inclusive discussion of neurodiversity.”

    OP #4 – Do not send that letter. Also, I recommend not asking your mother for career advice again. Companies deal with so many applications and interviews, on top of doing business as usual. Like Alison said, the hiring process takes much longer than most people expect.

    OP #5 – Can you fist bump comfortably? At my office, we switched to fist bumps even before Covid. You can always head off a handshake with a closed fist.

  26. Irish Teacher.*

    LW5, this may be culture dependent, but I think that while most people aren’t thinking of covid too much any more (except when there is a spike), the majority of people would respond to somebody not shaking hands because of covid by assuming that person is immunocompromised or lives with somebody at risk or something like that rather than that they are overcautious.

    I would say, at least in Ireland, that it would be more acceptable now than in 2020 to avoid shaking hands. At Mass, in 2020, the priest would often say, “now, let us all give a sign of peace,” which meant “shake hands with those around you.” Since March 2020, only once have I heard a priest say that and then it was “give a sign of peace, if you are comfortable with it.”

    Those who take offence at others wearing masks, not shaking hands, etc, are pretty vocal, but in my experience, they are really a pretty small group. (And honestly, my impression is that a lot of them are people who are very scared by covid. They will often say things like “this is spreading fear,” which I suspect means, “this scares me because it reminds me of covid and I want to pretend it doesn’t exist. OK, it also includes a lot of conspiracy theorists who just think everything has some hidden agenda.)

    But honestly, if people aren’t scared, then they will generally not be bothered by somebody wearing a mask or not shaking hands. Yes, there are people who treat covid as something political, but I think on the whole you will find more people who at least understand now that shaking hands is something that immunocompromised people may do to avoid infection than you would have in 2020.

    You could run into somebody who has a problem with it, either because it reminds them of covid and they were very freaked out by that or because they are a conspiracy theorist or whatever, but I suspect it’s not likely to be a big deal for most people. I’d say shaking hands is now more of an optional thing than it was 4 years ago.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I unfortunately have to disagree for the united states at least. I’m in a fairly liberal state but was recently wearing a mask and received a derisive “You don’t have to wear that thing anymore you know.” To which I replied “I just got over Covid, and I am still coughing. Dr cleared me to go back to work, but I sound awful.”

      He didn’t respond — or stick around.

      1. aqua*

        I occasionally get people telling me I don’t need my mask – I just respond “I’m all good thanks!”

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I kind of love the idea that people think you’re chagrined beneath the mask, thinking: “how long do I have to wear this damned mandated thing” and the only reason you are doing so, is because no one else has bothered to tell you. Do they ever find someone who rips it off with a “thank goodness!”

      2. cardigarden*

        I just point at my very pregnant belly and say that the two times I had covid I spiked a 103 fever so I’m not taking any chances given that high fevers have been my main symptom. Fortunately, almost everyone already knows that fevers and fetuses don’t mix.

  27. DrSalty*

    LW5 just lean on your joint damage if you want to avoid talking about COVID. If anyone asks, “I don’t shake hands bc of a finger injury”

  28. Eh, Steve!*

    #3: as someone who “gets people fired” on the regular, I think you might want to reframe this for yourself. Even if you did what your friend thinks, you didn’t get them fired. If they did it, they got themselves fired. (Assuming they actually did it.) Your friend can feel betrayed that (as they think) a friend turned them in, and it’s understandable for you to want to support a friend, but ultimately they need to take responsibility for their own actions and not blame you.

    1. JSPA*

      I can tie myself into knots over, say, realizing that I joked with a mutual friend that “Joe has a lovely new whiiiiz helmet, gee, wonder if that has to do with his stellar review of whiiiiz bikes” only to later find out that mutual friend is seeing the VP of the ebike mag with that review.

      Thing is, if there’s no fire…then a whisp of smoke is just smoke.

      My guess is, he believes he told just one person (the LW) about taking a thing…or the LW is the only person to kid him about taking it, having figured it out…but he’s more loose-lipped or far more transparent than he believes. And for sure, the person who sent it to him knows that he got it. So the LW was just someone convenient and non-threatening, to blame.

      Frankly, LW, I’d approach him with a small dose of rigteous anger–how DARE he think that about you? After all, he does not know you outed him (because, yeah, you didn’t); but you do know that he assumed the worst of you.

      Or, y’know, maybe someone stirred up trouble by blaming you. In which case, how DARE they put a wedge between you? And why on earth would they?

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I would still be angry at friend, even if someone else blamed me. Friend should know what type of person I am and not believe it.

        I’m with the folks who say he isn’t reall your friend. Its hurts to realize that. But if someone jumps right to blaming me for their own actions, I’m done. You can complain to me you got fired and take no responsibility for your actions, but don’t blame ME for it.

    2. ILoveLllamas*

      I agree — your “friend” did this to himself. I had a friend falsely accuse me of something to which I first thought she was joking because it was so ridiculous. She was serious and I firmly denied the allegation. We never spoke again and while I missed her friendship initially, in hindsight, I finally realized how toxic she really was (which was very sad). Reframe, move on. He is not your friend. I’m sorry.

  29. ijustworkhere*

    Thank you Allison for the response to LW #4. HR people get put in difficult situations—the hiring manager makes the decision, and many of them take their sweet time, but the HR person is the communicator to the various applicants. In general if a hiring decision is taking a long time, it’s because the hiring manager can’t make a decision.

    1. The hiring manager is swamped and this keeps getting put off.

    2. The hiring manager doesn’t feel any sense of urgency because they aren’t impacted by the vacancy. Somebody else is doing the work. And sometimes a hiring manager’s bonus is bigger if they keep labor costs down in their division. ( A HORRIBLE idea by the way).

    3. The hiring manager is looking for that ‘perfect person’ and thinks there might be someone even better out there. (kind of like continuing to swipe on a dating app).

    It is very frustrating to HR people, and I know it’s frustrating to applicants.

  30. Not an expert*

    I’m usually not a fan of cc’ing your and their bosses on unnecessary things, but I would start doing that on important emails. 1) to encourage a response, and 2) to have evidence of you trying to move projects forward. I would, of course, let your boss know ahead of time and explain ehh. And if you’re feeling generous, you can send your coworker one courtesy email letting the know that you will be beginning to do so. Good luck.

    1. gyratory_circus*

      Agreed, but I wouldn’t give them a heads up. When I’ve dealt with people like this they often don’t even read the emails from those they’ve decided to freeze out, so just cc the boss(es) and let them deal with the fallout of not responding/doing what needs to be done.

    2. JSPA*

      Ask-tell your boss that this is the only way they can think of, to get a response–but be open to them suggesting another process. (I’m thinking of a technophobic boss who needed to be reminded that they could filter messages, and needed help setting up the filter, and then needed to be reminded to check the filtered messages periodically.)

      Could be that your boss and his boss suggest making his boss the bcc, rather than yours.

  31. Colette*

    #5 – Imagine you’re planning a family reunion. You’ve found the perfect location, and they’re holding a block of rooms for you. You figure it’ll take a week to nail down your numbers, so you ask them to hold it for two weeks, and you send out an email/text to your family members asking them to commit.

    Your sister Sue isn’t sure she can get the time off, so she promises she’ll get back to you. Your brother Sam has saved up enough to afford it, so he’s in. Your cousin Maude quickly replies that she’s going. Her brother Max isn’t sure; he’ll get back to you.

    While you’re waiting for Sue and Max to get back to you, your aunt Mabel falls and ends up in the hospital. Maude spends every waking minute by her side. No one knows when (or if) she’ll be able to come home. Meanwhile, Max loses his phone and you can’t get in touch with him, and Sue’s boss is suddenly out of the office due to a death in the family.

    Are you going to be able to get back to the venue in by the deadline?

    This is what hiring is like. Interviews get rescheduled (which delays the timeline for everyone else), people are unexpectedly busy or out of the office, priorities get changed, people change jobs … there’s a lot that can happen that you won’t see from the outside.

  32. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP 4 – I’ve been in corporate recruiting for over 40 years, and I can tell you hiring always takes longer than anyone would like. In part, it’s because hiring isn’t always the most important thing on a hiring manager’s plate. After all, priorities change quickly in the workplace. Heck, hiring isn’t even MY priority some days, I lead teams and there’s always something to derail my plans to stalk a hiring manager for even a status update, let alone a hiring decision.

    Yes, sometimes hiring managers and HR are just really bad at this, but it’s usually part of a bigger challenge of schedule and priority shifts.

    You should have feedback, no doubt, and it sounds like you’re getting it. You just want it on your specific timetable, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, Speaking of which: It can take 60 to 90 days to fill a role from the time the requisition is opened to the day an offer is accepted. Some roles are harder to fill because of location, salary, difficulty of skill set, etc. And if you’re expecting things to move quickly in January – 2024 kick-off team meetings, planning meetings, project reviews, annual reviews and meetings for merit increases and bonuses…well, you’re expecting a minor miracle. There’s no good reason to build up angst in general, but especially not in the case you describe.

    Also, don’t tell anyone to ‘shove it.’ That’s not helpful in or out of a corporate setting.

  33. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    Being around “germy” kids for much of my life I started to fist bump instead of shaking hands. Now, 40 years later, I still do, unless it’s an adult situation that merits a hand shake.

    Most people have no issue with it.

  34. Venus*

    OP2’s coworker sounds like he has some really deep issues. He didn’t like your decision to not support a bad idea so went around you and caused a big problem across the company, then when his plan fell apart he blames you rather than acknowledge his idea was bad? He’s a nest of bees and I’m guessing he will dig in until he ends up fired.

    1. WellRed*

      His behavior is so unprofessional and juvenile! I shudder to think he also manages people. I’d love an update on this one!

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Yep. If this is his reaction to being told no, then being reprimanded when he ignored the no, he is really unprofessional. Which his unprofessionalism is not your problem to solve OP. So go to the boss and explain what is happening. Your boss was willing to shut him down once, boss will be willing to do it again.

    3. Venus*

      I wasn’t clear in my earlier comment, but it really throws me that he’s blaming OP when the coworker still pursued the bad idea and it wasn’t OP who reprimanded him about it. I guess the coworker could say that OP brought it up to the bosses so that they knew to reprimand him, but it’s still wildly unprofessional. He must have a history of doing unprofessional things so I wouldn’t hesitate to talk with the bosses about this because I don’t think it will surprise them.

  35. Purple Cat*

    LW1 I think it’s actually really easy to provide feedback on this panel without outing yourself. Their Neuro-DIVERGENT panel, wasn’t DIVERSE at all. (oh the irony!). Just say it would have been more accurately described as a Dyslexia Awareness Panel, and are there plans for more diverse representation in the future.

  36. HonorBox*

    5 – COVID strongly brought out my germophobe. I don’t love having to shake hands. But sometimes you just have to do it. I hate to say that, but there are certain times that there’s no good way to back down from it. So I’ve started carrying around a small hand sanitizer in a pocket of a sport coat or in the back pocket of my pants so that I can control for my own desire to clean my hands sooner than later. I can still engage with people the way they’d like to and not have to worry about explaining why I don’t want to shake hands or their reaction to that. Perfect? No. But again, if you can find a way to control for your own needs, you can hopefully find a way to engage others and not give the wrong impression.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t love having to shake hands. But sometimes you just have to do it. I hate to say that, but there are certain times that there’s no good way to back down from it.

      Nope. Hard disagree. If someone has joint damage, they should not be shaking hands with anyone.

      But again, if you can find a way to control for your own needs, you can hopefully find a way to engage others and not give the wrong impression.

      And part of their own needs is the fact that they have damaged joints. The only way to control for that is to not shake hands.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This is answered upthread. Look for Jackalope’s question. A lot of people didn’t know what this meant. (I certainly didn’t.)

  37. JS*

    LW1- it seems to me that the crux of the matter is that their neurodiversity panel was not really… diverse.

    LW2- Call attention to his nonprofessional reactions to being told no. Unless your organization mistakenly hired a toddler instead of a groan adult?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Lol. My large, international, multi-billion Euro company recently had a panel discussion on diversity and all the participants were old white men.

      I guess some people just don’t understand that diversity actual means diverse.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Exactly, re. LW1. That’s a way of bringing up productive feedback – you noticed that there was a focus on dyslexia and would have liked to get a broader discussion of neurodiversity, including [list of other types of neurodiversity, including ASD]. There’s enough diversity in neurodiversity that it might actually make sense to have more focused sessions on different pieces, rather than hitting many things at a surface level.

  38. ecnaseener*

    I do think you can give feedback on this without disclosing anything about yourself, LW1. A non-neurodivergent person could also reasonably say “I hope the neurodiversity panel can cover more than just one condition in the future. I thought from the name we would be hearing about a wider range of experiences.”

  39. Michelle Smith*

    LW4 – A couple of stories that might help.

    (1) I once went through a hiring process that took longer than they initially planned. When I went in for the interview, they knew I was also interviewing with another team in the same organization. So they did something I haven’t had any other interviewers do and they actually told me what was going on. They said their hiring process was delayed because they did not receive enough qualified applicants for HR to allow them to close the posting. So even though they liked me, they were going to have to repost the job listing and wait for more applications, interview those people, and make decisions before moving on to the next round in the process. Things happen in the hiring process all the time that you as a candidate may not know anything about and may have nothing to do with you or the strength of your candidacy.

    (2) I was offered the other job I was interviewing for at that organization before the delayed team had even gotten around to offering second round interviews to the candidates they were moving forward. I took it. I had been sending applications and interviewing for positions off and on there for about four or five years by the time I finally got an offer. Some teams were more responsive and nice than others to my face, but I was always polite, respectful, and gracious in receiving rejection. I was successful eventually I believe in part because I developed positive relationships with some of the people I interviewed with who thought I was a strong candidate but needed more of X or Y experience first before they brought me on. One of the people I thought was a bit chilly towards me actually emailed me after I started the job to congratulate me and let me know that she gave me a positive “reference” when the hiring manager reached out to ask how my interview with her went. Had I been rude and/or chilly back to this person due to how I felt I had been mistreated, I might not have gotten the job.

    Careers are long. It’s okay to privately vent to your mom or a friend that you’re disappointed and/or feel jerked around. You might even be right, they might just be disorganized or they might be affirmatively awful (I’ve experienced both of those too!). But you don’t gain anything from calling people out. The only one who will lose anything in that situation is you. Keep it private.

    1. Sleeve McQueen*

      And one from a hiring perspective. We had a bunch of projects landing in conjunction with a big event and desperately needed to fill a position asap. As recruitment progressed every single project either fell through or got pushed back. As it happens, the candidate wanted a later start time anyway, but honestly, things can go from “I need this role filled yesterday” to “actually we don’t need to rush” overnight.

  40. Dot's Hat*

    OP5 – Assuming you are wearing a mask every day to work as someone who is both covid cautious and has additional health concerns that could exacerbate the effect of infection, I hate to break it to you but your co-workers probably already think those negative things about you. Unless, perhaps, you work in some location where there are still a good number of people also still taking covid seriously. (Not sure if that exists anywhere, anymore?)

    I say this as someone who, while being the only every-day masker at their place of employment, at least works for an organization that should be one of those places that is accepting and non-questioning, and claims to care about the well being of their employees and planet. And I am 100% looked at as the weirdo freak. I was going to say that masks have become so politicized, but we’re beyond even that — it’s just plain stigmatized now. Any other personal choices you make will likely pale in comparison when it comes to how others perceive you, which is both ostracizing and freeing.

    1. Dot's Hat*

      Ooops, got so caught up in my thoughts that I forgot OP5 isn’t current working, but will be returning. But I think it holds either way.

      Does make me think about how one of the reasons I don’t feel like I can move on from my current employer is that, in a difficult job market where I live, it would be all the more difficult as someone who won’t sacrifice her health to go to an in-person interview unmasked. On one hand, I guess it’s the kind of thing that would eliminate potential bad-fits for employment. On the other hand, not everyone can afford to eliminate that many employers or job opportunities. Given the way things are going 4 years in, I assume that this is likely to be a lifetime struggle for those of us who don’t want to or simply can’t risk infection. An eye opening thing that, I have been reminding myself, echoes what many other visible minorities have been living with for generations.

      Good luck OP5. I hope you find your good fit!

      1. Alice*

        I’m in a similar position, and while I bet it would be worse at many other places, it’s been hard to observe the distance between the organization’s statesd goals and our actual practices. It’s hard to have trust in leaders about topics A, B, and C when they are are unreliable about topic D.
        I also co-sign your observation that it’s eye-opening, that discrimination and exclusion was happening before, and yes I knew about it and wanted to help fix it, but I didn’t REALLY get it.

      2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        You absolutely should be interviewing elsewhere. If you don’t, how can you find out for sure what’s out there? Right now, you’re pre-deciding how it will play out. But it’s possible there is a better company out there. You can’t ever find that company if you don’t look.

        You have a job, so you *can* afford to eliminate other companies. I mean, you are literally eliminating them right now by refusing to consider them.

        I hope my saying this helps you break the mental trap you’ve created for yourself. Maybe you’ll be right, but then you’re no worse off than you are now. Maybe you’ll be wrong, and you find a better company to work for.

    2. iglwif*


      I work from home, and when I travel to an in-person work event, I am either the only person masking or one of very, very few.

      I’m a Gen-X-er and therefore heard a lot about just saying no to drugs, cigarettes, and sex when I was young. This wasn’t terribly relevant or helpful at the time, but these days I sometimes give myself little “you are stronger than the peer pressure” pep talks when I feel awkward as the only masked person in a big group!

      Mind you, it also helps that after virtually every event I go to where I’m the only person wearing a mask, I hear from at least one other attendee that whoops, they’re now sick. I don’t want COVID, but I also don’t want strep, RSV, the flu, or a cold.

  41. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    OP #4: Do not listen to your mother. Please listen to Alison.

    Last year, I hired a new direct report as a replacement for someone who had left for a new job. She announced she was leaving in April. My timeline was to post the job ASAP, keep it open for our two-week requirement, start interviewing, and have someone hired by June.

    My new direct report started in September. SEPTEMBER. There were hang-ups and delays all along the process, including my boss, HR, my boss’ boss, the HR boss, and another panelist being on vacation.

    We did have one person who was a good candidate, whom we interviewed, and whom we planned to bring back for round 2. He behaved like you did–constantly following up with me/HR (often asking them the same question he’d asked me, apparently thinking he’d get a different answer), and finally accused us of ‘misleading him’ because it was ‘taking so much longer than we promised,’ and that ‘he deserved the job because of his patience.’ He was rude to me, rude to HR, and borderline verbally abusive.

    Not only did he not get the job, he didn’t get a second interview, and he’s marked as ‘do not interview’ in our system if he tries to apply again to any of our open positions.

    Hiring always takes longer than anyone thinks it’s going to. When companies say ‘two weeks,’ that’s like ‘five minutes in football but both teams still have all their timeouts left.’

  42. ZSD*

    #1 I’m wondering how the organizers recruited speakers for the panel. Did they send out an email saying, “We’re doing a neurodiversity panel; please let us know if you’d like to participate”? If so, it’s unsurprising that they only got takers with a less stigmatized condition, but I can imagine the organizers looking at who volunteered and saying, “Well, this is who we’ve got, so this is who we’re going with.” They could have at least changed the name of the event, though.

    1. Tootiredfor this*

      This, great point. Our LBGT+ group says they know they have problems getting people to sign up, but they do their best.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes not everyone wants to be on panels talking about their stuff. I’ve one Black colleague who positively refuses to participate in the BAME interest group’s activities. She says it reminds her that she’s different and makes her feel othered. So she won’t be on panels and doesn’t go to events. I’ve another colleague who is very active in the group and really enjoys it.

        Different people have different approaches and not everyone wants to talk about themselves in general even if it’s safe to do so.

      2. iglwif*

        Yes. Our work LGBTQ+ ERG did a panel for Bi Visibility Day, and we had a bunch of women, one nonbinary person, and ZERO men volunteer for it. Then we had a whole conversation about what social and cultural factors might account for that. But in the end, we had a panel with no dudes on it, because you can’t ask people to out themselves if they aren’t comfortable!

        THAT SAID, if I were putting together a neurodiversity panel and every single panelist was neurodivergent in the same way, I would want to either make a greater effort to find people to make it more representative, or — if that didn’t work — rebrand the panel appropriately. It just feels like too much of a bait and switch otherwise.

        1. Observer*

          Then we had a whole conversation about what social and cultural factors might account for that. But in the end, we had a panel with no dudes on it, because you can’t ask people to out themselves if they aren’t comfortable!

          To be honest, that conversation might have been very useful to have out in public on the panel. Obviously you need to be careful, but it can be useful for people to realize that “Hey, people are still worried about disclosing this stuff” and “ERG are not just a bunch of doofuses, but it’s worth thinking about *why* they could not find anyone.”

          1. iglwif*

            Yes, that’s part of the conversation we had: Do we address this in the panel? Are we the right people to address it? Is there a way we can lampshade this missing piece without presuming to know the experiences of people we are not?

            The panel was accompanied by other activities, one of which was a series of discussion posts in the company Yammer. One of the topics was around how biphobia and the stigma bi folks often experience both from straight people and in queer spaces hit differently depending on other identities, including gender.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I was thinking something similar, but really there are ways and means around this. Like offering to feature anonymously submitted questions or experiences from people who do not want to put their diagnosis, or asking a guest speaker to come in.

  43. Peanut Hamper*

    #4, good advice for job hunting: never get emotionally involved in a job until you actually have it. No matter how much you like the organization or their mission, or how much it aligns with what you want to do, it’s just a recipe for disappointment, or worse. The day you email them and tell them to shove it might be the day they were going to call you with a job offer.

  44. Starlike*

    LW1, I admit I’m cracking up picturing email signatures with diagnoses – would it be a separate line, or could we list them like titles? I can just see it: “Starlike, LMSW, MHFA, ADHD, ASD, cataracts”

    1. Katrina*

      Actually, I often disclose my ADHD in my social media bios. (I think I phrase it something like, “I’m a writer navigating life with ADHD.”) I’ve seen others in the neurodivergent community do similar things. I don’t know if I’d do it in a workplace setting per se, unless I’m pitching a project where it’s relevant, but the idea is to reduce bias and make it into something that’s just a fact about me rather than something I’m embarrassed to talk about.

      I understand you were trying to make a joke, but it’s not a joke to the person who has to decide where it is and isn’t safe to disclose this stuff and how to do so.

      1. Katrina*

        Sorry, I realized I typed that on the assumption that you’re neurotypical yourself, and that was not an assumption I should have made.

        I tend to be a more serious person, I know, so please accept my apologies there if I misjudged.

        1. Katrina*

          Yeah…it’d be cool if people were casual enough about it that it wouldn’t look *ridiculously* out of place. But I suppose for most jobs, it also wouldn’t look particularly relevant. ^_^;;

          Probably the most ADHD thing I want to put in my email signature (but obviously don’t) is, “Thank you for sending this message via email and not handing it to me via my mortal enemy–the loose sheet of paper.”

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            MOOD I had to email a coworker the other day and ask for notes because I lost my loose sheet of paper which felt very high school flashbacks

      2. No Tribble At All*

        Right, because your ADHD is relevant to your work as a writer. In an office, especially for one-off emails to people you don’t frequently work with, it’s not relevant! They don’t necessarily need to know.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I was envisioning it in parentheses like pronouns. Not sure if the same parentheses or a different set.

      It also occurs to me that people would naturally use the shortest acronyms to save space, which would leave a lot of people going “ASD? What in the world is ASD?”. Which means the whole point is lost.

      1. Katrina*

        Yeah…I like the concept, but I can also see the argument that there’s only so much space, and it should be limited to things that affect how people refer to you, like your name, title, and pronouns.

        I like for people to know I have ADHD and be comfortable with that, but them knowing or not knowing wouldn’t change how they introduce me in a meeting, you know?

        1. ecnaseener*

          With ADHD in particular, there’s so much variation in how it presents that I don’t think it would be especially helpful to disclose just the diagnosis in a signature.

          Like, it can be helpful to say “I have ADHD, so I may do X / it would help me if you did Y,” but X and Y wouldn’t be assumed if you just said “I have ADHD.” (Or at least they shouldn’t be assumed, because I guarantee there’s someone else with ADHD who needs Not X and Not Y!)

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’m imagining it blurring into a line with professional credentials, like Fergus Warbleworth, MBA, PMP, ADHD, ASD.

    4. raktajino*

      Since I work with data scientists and other math people, I tend to be fairly up front about not being strong at mental math–otherwise people expect that of me. I still don’t think listing dyscalculia in my signature or Teams bio would help XD

  45. Czhorat*

    For OP4, I understand your disappointment. We’ve ALL been there, and job hunting is hard for this reason.

    Sometimes you send a resume and it falls down a black hole.
    Sometimes you get an interview which goes fantastically and then hear nothing.
    Sometimes they hire someone else.
    And yes, sometimes you get the job.

    I’ve had one that dragged on for weeks because, I later learned, a key stakeholder was out of the office. Sometimes something happens with other work. Sometimes they’re very deliberate in making their choice.

    The other problem is that you have very little power here; if you want the job then you need to accept that it will be – at least partially – on their schedule. That you ARE working at present means you can be patient. As others have said, if you want something new keep looking, and be open to this one if it comes. In my experience a slow hiring process isn’t indicative of anything else about an employer.

    Again, the frustration is THE MOST understandable thing ever.

  46. Loaf*

    #5: pre-pandemic, I (female) once stuck out my hand when meeting someone and she responded “I don’t shake hands”. I smiled and said “okay!” And continued on with the conversation. I will admit that on the inside I was like “this is so weird”, but I never would’ve dreamed of saying anything out loud! A good alternative could be saying “I don’t shake hands, but it is wonderful to meet you!” That lessens the awkwardness by showing you are still open to connection.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Also, a lot of people do weird things! I internally may think someone’s tie or coffee mug or margin doodles are weird – I would never want them to know that or to be stressed about it.

      Most of us probably make a dozen minor social faux pas a day, best to just lean into yours and act like nothing is strange. People will follow your lead.

  47. KellifromCanada*

    LW4 … if a candidate followed up with me three (!) times within four weeks of an interview, I’d already be reconsidering hiring them. One thank you note within a day of the interview and then a single follow-up after four to six weeks is quite enough. No one is trying to screw you over here … hiring takes a long time. If you’re that pushy and that easy to anger, I wouldn’t want to work with you.

    1. JS*

      I would be thinking of other situations where LW4 would react with impatience and rudeness and wanting to tell people to shove it. A project getting postponed, disagreement with a policy, a client not giving a quick answer, etc

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        AAM says this all the time and it’s very true – hiring managers have very limited information on you when they’re making decisions. You do not want to skew that by adding information that casts you in a bad light.

    2. iglwif*

      For real. The kind and generous thing to do, with an early-career person, would be to assume they’re getting unhelpful advice from someone (as is the case here) and reply to one of their many emails saying “FYI, you don’t need to keep following up! We know you’re interested :)” But imagine how long it would take for an HR person to do that with every overenthusiastic applicant to every job.

      I’ve been on the hiring side MANY times, and every. single. time, it has taken much, much longer than I (a) wanted it to and (b) expected it to (because apparently i never learn lol). So many things can cause delays! And also, everyone involved in the process has a job.

  48. Hiring Mgr*

    On the DEI webinar, were the people on the panel coworkers of yours? If as you say dyslexia is a “less spicy” type of ND, maybe they couldn’t find people willing to out themselves about anything else?

    Still good to give feedback of course,

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah I can see this being a difficult thing to get volunteers for if it’s internal. Maybe I wouldn’t include *four* people with dyslexia, I can see that as a misstep, but asking people to “out” themselves is tricky.

      Regardless, OP, I think you can give feedback on the lack of diversity on the panel without putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

  49. House On The Rock*

    Joining in to reassure LW 4 that the timelines they are seeing for hiring are completely normal and Alison’s advice is spot on.

    As someone who hires people at an institution where hiring takes a long time (for a variety of reasons), I can say that frequently neither the hiring manager nor HR have much information to share beyond what they hope the timeline will be.

    I’ll also say that both my spouse and I (who work in different parts of the same large institution) waited many months between submitting applications and even being interviewed, much less getting an offer. In my spouse’s case, he was hired at and worked for another company for 6+ months before hearing back and finally getting a job here.

    Please do not antagonize either the hiring manager or the HR rep by sending “sternly worded emails”. Trust me, they are likely all aware that the process isn’t ideal and with they could make it faster!

  50. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #4 let me give you some back end on this –

    Say I get 200 applications for one open position, which is very normal. You say you had ONE interview – so did probably, say, 30 other people. All of those people need to be interviewed, evaluated, and ranked. That means either one person trying to do that in the span of a couple of weeks, or multiple people who then need to get together, compare notes, make decisions – most offices getting people together to decide on a new coffee maker would take two weeks, let alone a new hire.

    And that’s absent all of the roadblocks that can come up that Alison mentions, which can compound upon each other. And, all 30 of those people want constant, personalized, overly apologetic updates? That last part probably isn’t going to happen. You’re probably getting more attention from the HR manager than they strictly speaking have to give you. Me, personally, I am pretty responsive, but people have other priorities and workloads and I’m not going to judge this manager. And if I do respond, you’re probably only going to get a “there have been some delays, thank you for your patience I’ll reach out when I know more” because that’s all I’ve got.

    Someone deciding to be difficult about that is really only making it easier to decide against them. I get it, job hunting sucks. But you’re talking to people, not machines, and you (and your mother) need to reset your expectations.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Agreeing and adding to your backend; if the HR manager isn’t a dedicated recruiter, they also have other urgent responsibilities to the company (benefits, employee relations, pay, etc); even if the HR manager is a dedicated recruiter, it’s possible that this is one open position of many jobs they’re hiring for. The recruiter may have 5, 10, 20 jobs they’re recruiting for simultaneously, each 200 applicants and with different hiring teams and candidates in different stages of the hiring process at the same time. On top of that, those hiring managers are also not fully focused on job searching. They also have full time jobs to do and may be taking on the backload of the position they’re trying to fill. Sometimes HR/hiring managers are not intentionally trying to blow off candidates, they just can’t go as fast as they’d like.

  51. Sunflower*

    #4 Do not burn this bridge. You never know what is going on with them (perhaps it’s their busy season or they are dealing with a work emergency) and you don’t know will happen for you in the next few months.

    I was in the same boat and assumed I didn’t get the job. Well, I didn’t; they hired someone else. I found out because they contacted me months later asking if I’m still interested because the person they hired didn’t work out. I guess I was 2nd choice but still ended up with the job. If I told them how I felt about being ghosted, I’d probably still be job hunting.

    Just let it go and if you don’t hear back about this position, they may keep you in mind for a another position in the future.

    1. librarianmom*

      That’s exactly what happened to me. Now on my 35th year on the job. The best advice is just assume you didn’t get the job and keep living your life. Don’t invest all that emotion in something that may or may not work out.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ One of my former bosses was contacted out of the blue by an organization she had interviewed for over a year beforehand. They’d hired someone else and either that person left or didn’t work out (I don’t remember which). She’d been their second choice and they called her and offered her the job, and she’s been there ever since.

  52. Ruby Soho*

    LW #1, I feel you! My large company (a subsidiary of a Forbes top 10) had a neurodiversity workshop yesterday morning, which was to focus on ASD and ADHD. As someone diagnosed with ADHD at age 26, but not treated until 39, I was hoping for the focus to be on adults with ASD and/or ADHD, but it was 95% about kids and how to recognize symptoms, treatment, etc. Total waste of an opportunity to raise awareness of the neurodivergence in the workplace. I mean, at this point, I don’t need to be told to use checklists to manage my ADHD – every adult with it has heard that already. *sigh*

      1. Ruby Soho*

        lol I have. It helped. But only during the pre-adderall days when I couldn’t hold down a job and could go to class in-person, since most were held during business hours lol.

      1. Ruby Soho*

        Right! It’s hard to enough to accept all the f’ups I made that could’ve maybe been prevented had I been treated much sooner, but after 39 years, I’m supposed to just take my adderall and be “normal”. Don’t get me wrong, I love my adderall, it’s a live-saver, but I couldn’t care less about ADHD in kids right now. I don’t even HAVE kids (the world can thank me for reproducing NOT being on of my many f’ups lol).

    1. Lenora Rose*


      I *have* kids with diagnoses and this is not the info I want or need at a workshop for a *workplace*. Literally unless it’s a panel for teachers of careworkers of some kind, that’s not what people are asking for from work.

  53. Nat20*

    Wow, the coworker in #2 is acting like a total child. Being disappointed with someone’s answer for you is one thing, but he’s just being juvenile and ridiculous. Would love an update on that one.

    1. Nat20*

      Also I agree that the neurodiversity panel that’s not actually diverse is pretty disappointing. Great for those with dyslexia and I’m sure it was beneficial for them, but I do think the panel organizers definitely need some feedback. It should’ve been either more broadly representational, or the event should’ve been named differently. If you can give anonymous feedback, I gree that you should.

    1. librarianmom*

      Info-diet your mom! As a mom of two grown daughters I know I’m only getting a small portion of the story and I also know that they are (barely) suppressing rolling their eyes at a lot of my advice. Goes with the territory of having grown-ass people in your life.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      It’s a big reach for you to decide the most likely thing is that they’re lying. You have no way of knowing that. LW has no way of knowing that. Assuming the worst just adds to the anger and indignation. It is far better for everyone’s mental health to assume the best (here and everywhere). And again, you have no data to indicate that is not the case.

      So many comments here from hiring managers and HR saying that Alison is right, but here you are, like, “No, you’re all lying”.

      The rules are not new. The rules are the same as before – apply, put the job out of your mind, interview if asked, then put the job out of your mind again. Lying, not lying, fake ads, none of that changes those rules.

  54. EMP*

    LW #5 – advice to warmly say “I don’t/can’t shake hands” is great but before it even gets to that, I don’t like shaking hands myself so when I meet new people in a professional context, I’ll keep myself at arms length (just slightly too far away to shake hands without someone purposely leaning in) and wave as I introduce myself. I’d say 90% of the time a handshake isn’t initiated and the wave suffices. If the other person then leans in, you can say “I’m so sorry, I can’t shake hands”.

    I’ll note I work in tech which is very informal when it comes to meeting customers and other professionals and this may go differently in e.g. sales, but the wave has been working for me since 2020 now :)

    1. Lana Kane*

      Same – when I don’t want to shake hands, I try to position myself so that it’s not convenient, and maybe do a body-language cue (waving, like you said, or a greeting-nod). Obviously not always possible, but it more often than not.

  55. anywhere but here*

    Is there a reason LW1 should avoid saying anything unless it’s anonymous? A person doesn’t have to be neurodivergent to recognize the panel and group was only about dyslexia and not about any other conditions, so it doesn’t seem like they’d be outing themselves by pointing that out.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think it really depends what LW wants to get out of it. If they just want to say, “I think the event should have included more experiences than just dyslexia, or should have been labelled a dyslexia-focussed event”, they can absolutely do that without outing themselves. But LW was hurt, and felt othered and disrespected by the event: that’s much harder to address without referring to their own experience. I think they can definitely do the former, and that’s relatively straightforward, but I think the question is whether or not there’s a way for them to do the latter.

  56. AnotherSarah*

    I don’t understand the advice for #1–why not just say, “Hey, this wasn’t about neurodivergence, it was about dyslexia, and I think we should correctly advertise our panels!” I don’t think there’s any need to out oneself when making this kind of correction….(And honestly, though this shouldn’t be the case, often suggestions like this hold more weight when they’re not seen as about the suggester personally.)

  57. Juicebox Hero*

    LW4, when I interviewed for my current job, it was July. I wasn’t hired until October, and only one other person interviewed for it!

    Whatever timeline they give you at the interview, double or even triple it and be patient.

    And my sympathies because your mother sounds like mine. She hadn’t applied for a job since 1985 and this was the 2000s. Whatever jobs I applied for, she’d nag me to call for updates every day in order to show them I’M SUPER-DUPER INTERESTED and MOTIVATED and RARING TO GO! which in hindsight just made me sound annoying and desperate.

  58. Immortal for a limited time*

    #5. If you believe that not shaking hands will somehow prevent the spread of an airborne virus, you might have been misled. If you don’t want to shake hands, just don’t shake hands.

  59. iglwif*

    LW5 – COVID isn’t a reason not to shake hands (though it’s a good reason to wear a mask and lobby for really good air filtration in your office), but plenty of other stuff spreads really well through that kind of contact, so good on you for skipping the handshakes! I love the idea someone suggested of a big enthusiastic wave.

  60. iglwif*

    LW1 — if they’ve asked for feedback, it should be very possible to say “I wanted to learn more about neurodiversity, but for some reason the only divergence represented or addressed was dyslexia, so that was disappointing,” without revealing anything whatsoever about your own diagnosis. Like, whatever happened to end up with that specific panel, calling it a session on neurodiversity when it was focused entirely on dyslexia was just straight-up false advertising!

  61. MuseumChick*

    LW 1. My gut feeling here is that they planned this event, chose the title, advertised it, and then and then asked people to participate and the only people willing to speak where the ones who ended up on the panel.

    I agree with the others saying you can speak up without outing yourself. If you want to use some soft language you could go with something like, “It was so interesting hearing about the experience of people with dyslexia. I was surprised not to hear from people with other types neurodivergence. What are plans for next year to get a wider range of experiences presented?”

    Others above have giving great scripts if you want to use less soft language.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, I think they likely intended for it to be more diverse but didn’t think about how likely it was that no one would want to get up and talk about their struggles with neurodiversity in front of their coworkers for fear that some might later hold it against them.

  62. Oh Snap!*

    the thing about most ERN groups is they are 100% volunteer based. If the group asked members for volunteers to participate, and got 4 dyslexic people who all advocated to share diagnoses… well that’s what you get when it’s a volunteer group.

    the only feedback in my mind is the could have changed the name of the panel to reflect who volunteered.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think this is a good example of why orgs need to back their DEI initiatives with a budget line. People shouldn’t have to volunteer for a panel, even if the committee itself is run on a volunteer basis. There are actual speakers on these topics who can be brought in, but that’s unlikely to happen if you don’t have the budget to pay speaking fees.

    2. Lenora Rose*

      This would be a good reason why it shouldn’t be volunteer run, though. You never have any guarantee you even have the right/relevant staff in the first place; it would be possible for a workplace even of significant size not to have anyone at all on staff who is out as neurodivergent. You need to bring in presenters.

  63. EA*

    It sounds like a panel isn’t the best format for raising awareness about neurodiversity, precisely because you rely on people volunteering to participate and many people don’t feel comfortable, and because you get people who aren’t experts making blanket recommendations like the one about the email signatures.

    Since the organizers asked for feedback, I think you could say (without outing yourself) that you support the effort but were disappointed that the panel only addressed dyslexia, and you’d be interested in future events with other formats (an expert webinar, for example) to raise awareness about types of neurodiversity that were not represented on the panel.

  64. Addison DeWitt*

    That first one is kind of grimly hilarious. “We told introverts to stand up and be proud, assert who you are! There, we’ve solved the problem of introverts in the workforce!”

  65. Ranon*

    Hiring processes are so incredibly squirrelly internally, I was on one where the candidate was a hands down we love him hire him now and then we had a sudden decrease in workload and we simply couldn’t hire him.

    The only time I’ve ever been able to push a company to expedite an offer timeline was when I already had another offer and I could say “look, you all are my first choice but I have another offer in hand and I need to see your offer now” and even then they weren’t able to get it out in the timeline they promised.

  66. KOALA*

    LW1-I think you could handle feedback in two ways.
    If you don’t know if they plan to do other panels you could provide the feedback with the assumption they plan to make them a regular thing with different focus topics. Saying something like you enjoyed this one, and look forward to the future panels that will touch on the different types of neurodivergence since this one was focused on only one type. Even if they hadn’t planned on having others this might nudge them to realize they were limited in the scope they addressed.

    If it is clear they don’t plan on doing more, or plan to move on to a completely different topic then that would be the second option. You don’t need to disclose your health status to still say that you were surprised and disappointed to hear that they focused heavily on only one type of neurodivergence when there are so many others, especially ones that can impact how people work best. You could list several types and ask that they consider having multiple panels covering each one, or consider revising the panel in the future to be more comprehensive.

    LW4 “I feel like I am being given the runaround” , but you aren’t, you reached out and they told you they were still interviewing. They didn’t ignore you, they gave you a specific reason that they didn’t have a decision yet. Considering that they expected/hoped to have a decision within 2 weeks of your interview, if they are still interviewing then logical assumption would be that they probably won’t have a decision until at least 2 weeks after they conclude the interviews. Then she informed you “no decisions had been made”, again that is a specific answer to why they haven’t reached out yet, and not “runaround” or “evasive”. You have followed up twice in less than a month and gave no grace or thought to the fact that their timeline could be a bit delayed. Even if she had plans to touch base with an updated timeframe once she had details you have reached out before she could , she didn’t even have a chance to “keep her word and follow up”.

  67. Observer*

    #1 – Neurodiversity panel

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so I imagine that this may have been said already but I think you have some choices between outing yourself and not saying anything. Obviously, if there is a way to provide truly anonymous feedback, that would be your best bet.

    But I think that there are some things that you could (and should, if you have the capital) point out. For one thing, I think it’s reasonable to point out that this panel was misnamed – it was part of a neurodiversity educational push, true, but it was actually a dyslexia panel. It’s an important distinction as it’s important to help people realize that neurodiversity is not just “diverse” from the mainstream, but truly diverse in type and scope.

    Which leads to the second issue here – all of the advice was given from one particular point of view. One could argue that not even “all” people with dyslexia would agree, but at least it was a few people with the one issue talking about that issue. But other forms of diversity look very, very different and it’s just not reasonable to frame what is relevant to one issue as “the” way to deal with a myriad of different types of issues. It’s not just autism. We’re also talking about stuff like ADD, audio processing issues, etc. And keep in mind that some of the accommodations that make sense for dyslexia are the exact opposite of what would make sense for most people with auditory issues.

    Then there is their advice to put your diagnosis in your signature. That’s a problem on 2 fronts. One is that while they are right that we should de-stigmatize these conditions, it speaks to a very high level of privilege to tell people to lead with that information in an environment where people have legitimate reason to believe that it could negatively affect them.

    Secondly, it’s the kind of thing that could legitimately make people question your judgement. Not because dyslexia, autism, add, etc actually reflect anything about your judgement, but putting that information in that spot is questionable. It is different from putting your pronouns (for those who do that) because that’s about how people address you and refer to you, much like putting your title and Mr / Mrs / Ms Dr or whatever in there. All of the other stuff should come up organically or in a reasonable and relevant context.

    To the best of my knowledge, I’m as plain vanilla as you get. But I do have family who are neurodiverse, and I think that this would have sent me through the roof. So, I can imagine that this would not have felt good at all. But you don’t have to share that to give feedback, because this is the kind of thing that people who are themselves “normal” could easily be familiar with.

  68. cmdr*

    Nearly a decade before COVID, I had a manager who didn’t shake hands (I never learned why). She would just head off extended hands with “I don’t shake, but I’ll give you a fist bump!” stated so cheerfully everyone was charmed instead of put off, and no one ever questioned it.

    (if fist-bumps are still too much, substitute ‘elbow-bump’ or ‘wave’ or ‘elaborate curtsy’ or what-have-you.)

  69. Observer*

    #4 – Waiting for a response from a prospective employer.

    I am tempted to send her a polite but firm letter expressing disappointment with her lack of transparency and follow-up in regards to the hiring process.

    This makes you sound incredibly out of touch, and someone who might be hard to work with because they are likely to over-step their role in really inappropriate ways. I mean, what gives you standing to be “firm” with her? And how is that “firmness” going be expressed? And that’s on top of the fact that she actually did not do anything all that bad. Yes, they underestimated the time it would take, but as Alison says, that’s incredibly common. But telling you that when you ask, and asking you to keep in touch is not “evasive”. And your mother’s claim that this proves that she doesn’t keep her word is a bit over the top.

    As Alison says, move on. If the job is otherwise appealing, you could reach out again in a few weeks, since she did tell you to keep in touch. But not too soon (if thing do wind up speeding up, they will reach out to you if they are interested.) But do NOT express your frustration to her. Even if you’re not in a small industry something like that could really come back to bite you. Because you don’t want to be the person who gets talked about in this company *and elsewhere* as the guy who thought he could scold HR for doing their due diligence.

  70. Oh, just me again!*

    OP 5; you might try bowing instead! An older gentleman did that to me in the 80’s, obviously schooled in traditional etiquette, that a man doesn’t initiate a handshake with a woman – and I was slow extending my hand. (Nowdays, that doesn’t seem to apply in the workplace, of course) I was charmed and he emailed one of my favorite people to work with, because if his sincere lovely manners. Also, if you bow, you may forestall an extended hand. And if you don’t, they may assume you didn’t see it. Bowing is perfectly acceptable for women as well, and no, it’s not subservient. Think of very high-ranking Japanese executives and diplomats. (Nowadays they may accompanythebow with a handshake, but that’s a western adoption.)

  71. Observer*

    #5 – Infection precautions.

    I would absolutely keep Covid out of the conversation. To be honest, it’s not really relevant, because RSV, Flu, strep or the any of the other gazillion communicable diseases out there are a pretty high risk for you. So, even if we eradicated Covid tomorrow, you would still have a problem. Also, it hurts your hand! That alone is perfectly good reason to not shake hands.

    So if anyone asks you why you don’t shake hands “I’m immunocompromised” and / or “It hurts my hand, because I have a joint issue” is all you need. And if anyone gives you grief about the matter, then you really don’t want to work with them if you have any choice whatsoever.

  72. CatMouse*

    Oh letter wroter #4, please follow the advice. You are getting a response. Many of us applying for jobs do not. In fact I’ve seen many a discussion about being ghosted after an interview.

    1. CatMouse*

      Adding on that in my last job search I only ever got one response (moving on to another candidate). Other companies never contacted to say anything. Some I can see the position is still open or filled and others are a mystery.

  73. Just Thinkin' Here*

    OP #3. I’m guessing this is your first job or an early job in your career? Maybe it’s the reference to your Mom. You sent polite follow-ups to the HR contact. Let the process complete.

    As you move up in your career, it will take longer and longer to go through the interview process. Not all interviews are on the same day. Second rounds take a while. Hiring for management requires more thoughtful concern. Certain jobs require background reviews or verification of status (such as government clearance). All this takes time. Three weeks is not unreasonable at all. Don’t discount an employer this quickly!

  74. kiki*

    For the neurodiversity panel question, a couple things I might keep in mind when crafting feedback are:

    – Is this the first neurodiversity panel? That probably means the hosts would really appreciate some feedback. But as you’re writing that feedback, it might be good to keep in mind that the people putting this together genuinely just might not know what the best way to put together a panel like this. They probably learned a lot already and will be happy to learn even more from any suggestions you give.
    – Are the people putting the panel together and appearing on the panel paid for this work? Like, is it actually part of their job duties that could get them a promotion? Because so often DE&I work is stuff people volunteer for rather than a paid full-time position. Keep that in mind when you consider how harshly to word any criticism. Keep in mind that if it’s unpaid, the organizers probably didn’t have a lot of time and resources to gather speakers for the panel, so they likely had to go with volunteers. That doesn’t mean they can’t do better going forward, just that it might change the tone or tenor of the feedback.

    I definitely think you should share your feedback if you feel comfortable! I just have been a volunteer on a DE&I committee before and would have appreciated a little bit of understanding from folks that we were trying our hardest to do a good thing but have limited resources.

  75. Dr. Hyphem*

    On the panel– it is fine to have a panel on dyslexia if you call it that, but the naming is an issue, and I would go a step further and say *even if* you call it a Dyslexia Panel, if it’s the only discussion on neurodivergence and/or neurodiversity, that is still not enough.

    I do think it’s easy enough to give the feedback about wanting to learn about other forms of neurodiversity in the workplace without outing yourself, but if you wanted to get more specific — for example “while the suggestions may work for dyslexia, they are not super tenable if you’re navigating the workplace with ADHD or ASD, because of the realities of those neurodivergences and/or associated stigmas” that is the place for anonymous feedback.

    1. Lizzay*

      This! I was trying to say the same thing, but much less eloquently. Totally agree that you can say something about being disappointed that the panel seemed entirely focused on just one type of neurodivergence without outing yourself.

  76. Prismatic Garnet*

    OP3 it’s probably worth trying to figure out why your friend thinks you were involved in their being discovered/fired.

    Yes, you probably shouldn’t expect or try to patch things up with them, but by not responding to their accusatory email you did king of tacitly confirm to them that you did whatever they think you did. Normally if someone sends a false accusation, people would naturally reply with either “What are you talking about?” (if continuing to engage with the conversation/relationship) or “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s incorrect.” (If ending the conversation there.)

    By not responding you imply that it’s true, so both the fired person and anyone they tell about it now think you did something (ratted them out or whatever), and you don’t even know what it is they mistakenly think. So you might want to know what supposedly happened in order to correct the record.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t think that is true. I think many people would decide that a person who would do what the LW’s coworker did and then randomly decide to a) assume they were reported by a particular person and then b) blame that person rather than themself wasn’t worth bothering with.

      The LW has nothing to defend themself for. The coworker is 100% in the wrong and the coworker is the one who needs to defend their actions.

      And honestly, anybody they tell about it is likely to admire the LW even if the do believe it. “I did something completely unethical and clearly LW must have reported me because they never said they didn’t” is a) bizarre logic and b) makes the LW sound good.

      I don’t see any need to correct the record, especially as somebody that irrational is hardly likely to listen to anything the LW said anyway. Most likely, they would work on the premise of “why would they be annoyed/bother to correct me unless they knew it was true.”

      Their opinion doesn’t matter as they have shown themselves to be unethical and irrational and anybody reasonable that they tell will think, “well, good. That really needed to be reported.”

    2. Observer*

      Lbut by not responding to their accusatory email you did king of tacitly confirm to them that you did whatever they think you did. Normally if someone sends a false accusation, people would naturally reply with either “What are you talking about?V

      Not at all. When someone sends a truly off the wall message, people will often be shocked enough, as the OP was, to not have anything to say. They did eventually tell this person that they didn’t report him, so even if he did think that they didn’t answer because it was true, he should know better now. If he chooses to believe otherwise, that’s on him, not the OP.

  77. RagingADHD*

    LW1, I don’t think it’s an accident that people who perceive no risk (or minimal risk) in disclosing were the only ones on the panel. It’s selection bias at work.

    Whether you want to call it “socially acceptable” or “less spicy,” those were the folks who were willing to speak.

    Folks who (like you) do not feel comfortable disclosing certainly aren’t going to speak up in a public forum. It would be nice if the organizers would bring in outside speakers / advocates to address a broader range of issues. It sounds like a change in company culture is needed before employees can freely participate.

  78. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #4 – Job hunting is sometimes about understanding “who holds the power in this situation”. Candidates with unique skillsets in high demand often have more power to negotiate and be choosier about their applications. Candidates that have a job or offers from other companies have some power if they’re willing to walk away from a company. Entry level candidates with no pending job offers often have much less power.

    In this situation, you say you’re “willing to wait another two weeks” for what? To pull your application? To apply for another job (you should be doing this anyway if you’re actively job seeking)? To sever a relationship with a company? What do you want to accomplish by writing a letter and do you have any power to do that?

    You may be right that the HR manager is blowing you off. Possibly that means you aren’t their first choice at this point. Or maybe they’re really not blowing you off and instead really are still holding on to your candidacy but something came up (it happens all the time). Either way, it doesn’t sound like you have the power in this situation. You can write them a mean worded letter; maybe you feel good getting the last word, but it’s not going to change the situation or make the HR manager see “the error in their ways”. At worst, you’ll have a company blacklist you from future openings, which you may not want to do to if you’re looking in a particular industry.

    Answering the question directly – I don’t think the HR manager is being irresponsible – they are responding to you very politely with any information they have. At this point, assume you weren’t hired and if that’s incorrect then it’ll be a pleasant surprise. Keep looking for more jobs. Expect that this isn’t the last time a hiring manager/HR manager will blow you off.

  79. NotARealManager*


    Just adding to the advice that something like “I’m not a handshaker, but I’m glad we’re meeting!” works well. I have a friend with OCD that prevents them from shaking hands and this was always their line. It worked well because they’d also follow it with a genuine smile and enthusiasm at the encounter.

    1. Ostrich Herder*

      This is exactly what I came to say! Offers for handshakes are almost always meant in a friendly way, so people can react like you’re rejecting their friendliness when you need to pass on them (even though there are so many reasonable reasons, like LW5’s). I’ve found that people are less likely to take the ‘rejection’ personally if you pin it on who you are as a person. And if you’re dealing with someone that tends not to respect those boundaries, it’s much harder for them to argue about what kind of person you are than what kinds of precautions you should take.

      Source: The agency I work for has, mysteriously, attracted a ton of clients who want to hug the person that builds their website (yours truly), and I’ve spent years figuring out how to artfully dodge it. Holding both a notebook and a mug at prime hugging times is the most effective deterrent, and “Oh, I’m not a hugger, but it’s so nice to see you!” is the redirect that’s least likely to ruffle feathers, even with the most affectionate of clients. The same strategy works well on handshakes whenever I need to deploy it.

  80. Jessica*

    LW1: Maybe your feedback could say something like this: “The talk on dyslexia was really interesting. In the future, can we offer more talks on other areas of neurodiversity, like autism and (one or two other areas)?” That way, you’re not disclosing your own status, or criticizing the presentation, just suggesting a wider and more diverse perspective, which benefits everyone.

  81. Rosemary*

    #5 If I never have to shake another hand I will be happy. Just, no touching me please!! I take a fitness class where the instructors high five when walking into the room, and always say to high five your neighbor. Just NO.

  82. OP for Q 3*

    Hi all, I’m the one who wrote in about question 3. I was very nervous while typing this to Allison, but I wanted to update everyone on this. I reached out to my friend in question again to assure him that it wasn’t me. He explained what he learned (I’ll leave that part confidential) but we’re okay now.

  83. Have you had enough water today?*

    I also do not shake hands. Mine is due to nerve damage that can cause extreme pain if someone is too firm with their handshake. I just tell them, “Sorry, I have an ongoing hand injury so I would prefer not to shake hands.” – never once been an issue.

  84. Ladycrim*

    LW4: I applied for a job I was very excited and confident about. They said they would get back to me in a couple of weeks. In reality, it was a couple of months. I was climbing the walls, dying to reach out but knowing I shouldn’t. They’d just had a bunch of urgent things happen at once and it took much longer than expected to schedule the interview. It did happen, though, and I got the job! I know it’s hard to be patient, but keep hoping (while also keeping your options open).

  85. Raida*

    1. Our “neurodiversity awareness panel” was just about dyslexia

    The feedback should be:
    When these panels are on, they should clearly state their focus, if there is one. So that nobody attends expecting information and representation for a wide range and get disappointed it’s just focussed.
    Then state you felt more excluded by this, not less.
    Then you list out how the panel being entirely dyslexic focussed but *also trying to give advice to all people with any form of neurodivergence* was a poor mix – and then give the example of ‘tell everyone! be proud! put it in your email!’ and how that made you feel.

    To be fair to the organisers – visibility is important, and if everyone with any diagnosis had it in their email signature then we’d all suddenly start to realise that there is no ‘normal’ when such a range of co-workers have such a range of differences. There truly is value in that *idea*.
    But the current reality is that it’s likely to increase unconscious bias in the workplace when not married with… I dunno… a hyperlink to a playlist of interesting videos about the terminologies in an email signature. And plenty of people would rather their work not be seen through a filter of a diagnosis, where good work could become “Of course she got it done quickly, that’s the ADHD.” just the same as everyone looking at Star Signs or personality tests results in assigning meaning back to the One Interesting Fact about the person

  86. ITWorkerBee*

    I so want to ask if this is the same person I encountered in my early career!!!!

    They were inappropriate, I let them know. They continued to escalate in front of others, and I firmly shut them down in front of others. After that, same game- leaving a room, ignoring me, all the things. So ridiculous.

    Document everything, follow up all requests in writing and escalate escalate escalate!!! You will have to almost force the issue of their boss making them explain why they will not work with you. And if they act this way with you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. When they are gone, you will be amazed at how much you relax at work.

    Eventually HR got a clue and they were gone. From what I have seen, they continue to behave this way and are constantly being fired, and constantly blame their previous managers for being let go…or their coworkers. Everyone they worked for ever is apparently selfish, incompetent, purposely malicious, or constantly lying.

    1. Heffalump*

      “If you meet a jerk, you met a jerk. If you meet a whole succession of jerks, maybe you’re the jerk.”

  87. DJ*

    LW#4 I once applied for a job and never heard anything. I grumbled to myself about being slackos and moved on.
    One day 7 months came home to a message inviting me in for an interview. Of course I thought wow that took a long time but didn’t say so when I called back. I purely focussed on yes I could make time, confirmed location what to bring etc.
    Got the job (offer was quick). When I started some they’d contacted had forgotten (which they felt was understandable) but others said about time took long enough which didn’t sound great!

  88. Elizabeth West*

    #1 — Oof. I hate the idea of disclosing your diagnosis like that. I’m very glad to have one myself, and I’ve been pretty open about it in my daily life, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it at work.

    OP, you could offer feedback without mentioning yourself in that context. You could say “I’ve heard people say they’re perceived differently when they’ve been open about a diagnosis like ASD or similar. It doesn’t seem like a viable option for a lot of folks, and I feel we should take that out of the webinar.”

    #2 — To paraphrase a recent meme, elephants are 250 lbs when they’re born. That makes them the biggest babies of all the land mammals, except for the people who are mad about Taylor Swift getting excited over a football game, or this coworker.

    #4 — OP you may not even get a response from that employer. It sucks, but some companies are like that. Don’t send a letter. Just mark it as a rejection and move on. You can add it to a Nope list of companies not to apply to again if you want, but there’s no need to notify them of that.

  89. janewont*

    #1 — go with “I have a family member . . . ” or “family members.” They don’t need to know one of them is you!

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