is the kiss emoji appropriate at work, manager wants me to find coverage after I quit, and more

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

1. Is the kiss emoji appropriate at work?

This is a low-stakes question, but I keep wondering: Is the kiss emoji 😘 ever appropriate in work communication?

Most of our team are in our thirties and forties. Our work environment is fairly informal — few emails, but lots of Slack messages, so of course emojis are everywhere. I enjoy using them, we even have silly traditions among coworkers. (Think: one of them writes that a famous llama groomer from France will be visiting next week, and instead of 👍🏼 or ✅, people will react with 🥖 and 🍷.)

It’s a lighthearted way of joking around, but for some reason, when people use the kiss emoji, it rubs me the wrong way. I helped a coworker out with something the other day and they wrote back, “Thank you so much! 😘” I like them well enough, but this felt odd. A different coworker recently put a kiss emoji underneath a Slack post in which one of our grandbosses announced a small perk (think additional parking spaces for our team in the company lot).

Obviously I would never say something, I’m not the emoji police. But just so I know whether my gut feeling is right or I‘m being overly literal: This is weird, right?

You’re taking it too literally. People aren’t using it to mean “imagine me kissing you.” They’re using it to mean “you’re awesome” or “this is great” or “I like this.” I can see why you’d be weirded out by it if you considered it in a vacuum … but you’ve got to take it in the cultural context, where it’s just a more effusive version of the thumbs-up.

To put it in much more old-fashioned terms, think of opening a letter with “dear” — you’re not really saying the stranger you are writing to is dear to you. Language, and now emojis, evolve in strange, non-literal ways.

(Only slightly related to this, I recently came across this old post and what.)

2. I misspelled the company’s name throughout my cover letter

I spent the last hour putting together a detailed cover letter and tailored resume for a job that I thought was a great fit for my skill set. Right after sending it, I realized that I’d consistently misspelled the name of the company throughout my application materials. To give myself a little credit, it is a kind of weird name, and my brain is pretty fried with applications, so somehow I didn’t notice the error in the many times I proofread my materials and checked them against the job description. Of course I noticed right after sending instead, and now I can’t stop cringing.

This is a fatal error and I should just write off the possibility I’ll ever hear from this job, right?

Well … it doesn’t look great. If it’s a job where attention to detail is important, it’s probably going to take you out of the running, or at least move you down the list. That said, it’s not going to put you on a do-not-hire list there or anything like that, and you can try again in the future without it being held against you.

3. My job wants me to find coverage after I quit

I put in my two weeks at work (food service job) because I’m going to be moving for the summer. After I did, I got an email back from my manager saying I needed to find someone to cover my shifts for the week after I quit because they’re “going to be really busy.” Are they allowed to do that? Isn’t that their responsibility?

I’m literally going to be moving and I don’t want to deal with the stress of finding someone to cover me for a whole week after I QUIT.

Haha, nice try, manager. They can propose anything they want — they can ask you to find coverage for the entire next year if they want to — but they have no way to make you comply.

I suspect what you’re worried about is less “can they make me do this?” (they can’t) and more “will I be violating some kind of professional convention if I refuse?” And the answer to that is also no. Finding coverage for after you’re gone is not your responsibility. (To be clear, if they want you to spend some of your time on-the-clock searching for shift coverage for dates after you’ll be gone, they can assign that as a work task. But it sounds like they’re expecting you to do it on your own time and … no.)

Respond with, “That’s not something I can do, but you can certainly schedule me through the 24th” (or whatever your last day is).

4. My friend applied for a job reporting to me and I don’t want to hire her

I’ve recently accepted a new job where I’ll have a small team reporting to me. I’m due to start next week. The organization is growing and this week my boss advertised a role that I’ll take over the hiring for once I start, and that will report to me.

Not knowing this role reported to me, a close friend of mine applied for it. She sent me a message saying she was applying at (company) and it was only when she told me the job I knew it was the one in my team.

The problem is, I don’t want to hire her. I’ve worked with her before — it’s actually how we know each other — and she’s a good worker. She gets stuff done, is pragmatic, and people tend to enjoy working with her. She’s also incredibly emotional, has very few boundaries, and has struggled a lot over the years with work stress, which I think is often created because of those boundary issues. While we used to share a lot of “work chat,” like sending funny memes or venting about our bosses, since we last worked together (~2 years ago) I’ve really worked on myself to have a better experience at work. I got a promotion into people leadership and had a massive perspective change about what it means to be the boss, having so much more appreciation for what my ex-bosses would have likely been struggling with. I’m excited to go into this new company with that perspective change and am actively trying to stop the cynical humor that I used to think was just a bit of a laugh, and I now see can sometimes be uncomfortable for colleagues. The old memes don’t really resonate anymore, but she sends them still. And to be honest, I don’t want someone reporting to me who complains about their job all day long. How should I handle this?

A talent acquisition team will do first round screening, and I’m concerned she’ll ask me why I didn’t tell them I want her to interview.

Even without the issues with her work style, it’s smarter not to manage a close friend. Would you be comfortable being up-front with her about that? You could say, “I know you do great work, but I don’t feel equipped to manage a close friend, and I especially don’t feel comfortable hiring a friend as one of my first moves there.”

If you don’t think she’ll get it, it could be easier to simply explain that the applicant pool was highly competitive and a lot of really qualified people didn’t get interviews. (It’s also quite reasonable that you wouldn’t want one of your first moves to be overruling the talent team to secure an interview for a friend.)

5. I’m grossed out by our potlucks

Our director has made potlucks an office tradition. The last one we had, I found multiple dishes with hair in them. I’m choosing not to participate in the next one and not consuming any dishes. I’m bringing my own lunch. Am I wrong?


{ 531 comments… read them below }

  1. Your Mate in Oz*

    The link back to the old emoji post seems to be Alison’s cue to say “actually, there is one place a puking face is appropriate”… hairs in the potluck.

    1. anon_sighing*

      I never liked potlucks (why are employees being tasked to bring in food? Not fair to people who don’t have time or energy to cook, let alone the extra money in their food budget, and just figuring out what to bring is a headache), but this would send me over the edge in my dislike.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I suspect that one reason why potlucks are so popular is that US taxpayers are (at least assumed to be) stingy and don’t want government employees to have any perks at all. I bet potlucks are *much* more popular in the public than the private sector.

        I’m a government employee in Finland, and in addition to the legally required benefits including generous time off policies, we have things like employer-sponsored parties, paid recreation days with a multitude of activities to suit most people regardless of their fitness level (last year I went on a guided museum tour while my athletic coworker played beach volley), not to mention free coffee and tea.

        1. Govt Dweeb*

          As a government worker in the US you are correct. And I’m jealous . I am a mid-level manager and anything and everything I do for my staff comes out of my own pocket. With that said, I do think a decent number of people at my job enjoy potlucks. People who don’t simply don’t bring food. We have themed lunches, fun competitions, etc. and a lot of people participate (winter chili competition, “Pi Day” pie bake-off, etc.).

          1. Q*

            Given the number of potlucks at my last job I think more people enjoy them than not. We were also a 24/7 operation so it was Thanksgiving Dinner for some people as they missed their family celebration. As a manager I often split the cost of someone’s dish with them or one of the other managers and I would provide the plates, cups, and that sort of thing. Trying to do nice things, like a once a year salad bar or small prizes for a contest, cost me about $700 a year, which isn’t a lot but being a manager doesn’t exempt us from mortgages, car payments, or other bills either!

              1. Ruby Soho*

                We do one per quarter where I work. The level of participation varies, but I think for the most part, most of us like them.

              2. SpaceySteph*

                I also love potlucks. I like to cook and share!

                But work potlucks can be fraught. I’m still mad about a potluck I was tasked with organizing probably close to 10 years ago, where every single manager signed up for something store bought (chips, cups, etc) and left the rank and file to sign up for the expensive and time consuming proteins.

                1. What_the_What*

                  That sucks! I feel lucky because everywhere I worked that did a potluck, cookout, holiday meal, etc.. the leadership bought the big meats: turkeys, hams, steaks, whatever and the rest of us made sides and desserts to share, as well as providing tableware, etc…I think if they’d asked us to essentially subsidize their grocery shopping there’d have been a mutiny! (Or is a mutiny exclusive to a ship? A coup, perhaps?)

              3. Dahlia*

                We have a potluck situation at a social group I’m in. Completely voluntary. I think that’s probably a better situation than a work potluck, honestly.

            1. Lydia*

              I think many people do enjoy them as occasional things. At one job, the employee party cost cutting was ridiculous, and every celebration became a potluck. We went from having catered dinner at the zoo for Christmas to lunchtime potlucks. Many people were happy to participate the first couple of times, but when it because an every time situation, that good will started to evaporate.

        2. doreen*

          I’m not sure I understand why it seems like every complaint about potlucks or employees chipping in for some sort of party seems to assume the employer is somehow demanding it and if there wasn’t a potluck the employer would be paying for a party. That’s never been the case for me – both at my government employers and private ones, if the staff wanted to have a party the staff would be paying for and organizing the party. Or else there was no party. And people who don’t want to participate just don’t .

          1. Snow Globe*

            Agree. The work potlucks I’ve seen have been organized by co-workers who like to cook.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              Yep. My old department liked potlucks, so we had them a lot. If nobody liked them, we would not have had them. Even when we had the big company wide thanksgiving potluck, it was seen as a chance for everyone to share dishes they really enjoyed–the company covered tableware and the turkey/gravy, and everyone else brought what they wanted (there was a sign up sheet, so you’d know approximately what would be there).

          2. Rosemary*

            Agree. I don’t understand the offense some seem to take regarding potlucks. If your job DEMANDED that you bring a dish that would be one thing, but if it is optional? Just don’t participate if it is not your thing.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              This kind of ignores the social dynamics in some offices though. Would I have gotten fired for not participating in office potlucks at my government office? Of course not. But people did rightly or wrongly take mental note of who showed up and participated to things like that and those people were better liked by upper management, got better assignments, and advanced their careers faster. And it wasn’t just potlucks. We all knew that if we didn’t donate to our office admin’s yearly campaign for an important cause (it was legit, but I’d rather donate to my own priorities if that makes sense), we’d get the cold shoulder and be undermined for the rest of the year. So it is a little unfair to ignore the very real social punishments that can come from refusal to participate in these activities.

                1. Leenie*

                  The non-cheap-ass-rolls weren’t even home baked. If I remember correctly, they were the (quite sweet) King’s Hawaiian rolls.

                2. Humble Schoolmarm*

                  Friends, I just found Kings Hawaiian rolls at my grocery store for the first time ever. I’m on my way to potluck glory!

                3. Dahlia*

                  @Humble Schoolmarm I have some right now and they make a really nice little slider sandwich with some ham!

              1. doreen*

                Sure, there can be social punishments in some places – but if the punishments are that upper management doesn’t like you or you get worse assignments , that really does make it non-optional. I’m sure it does happen but that doesn’t mean it happens all the time or even that it’s common. (And in fact, in the places I worked, it was the managers who would face consequences from the staff for not participating. )

                1. MigraineMonth*

                  I think if you’ll be punished if you don’t do something, most people don’t consider that optional. By that logic, paying taxes is completely optional, you’ll just go to prison if you don’t.

                  I agree that it’s not all workplaces and not all people in those workplaces, but the burden of being a “team player” (and spending your time organizing/cooking for potlucks) falls disproportionately on women.

                2. Rex Libris*

                  This. At many jobs, not participating in Random Workplace Social Activity is a great way to get on the “Not a team player” list. Sigh.

              2. Winstonian*

                Interesting. When I worked in government we had a few people who didn’t necessarily participate in the eating of the potluck food, but still came and hung out with everyone. they just brought their own lunches (or ordered in) and no one batted an eye.

              3. Lydia*

                But I don’t think those situations are the norm. It’s far more likely that not participating would not be noticed, or it were noticed by someone, that someone wouldn’t actually care that much.

                1. Lana Kane*

                  Yeah I feel like the issue isn’t with potlucks, it’s with whatever weird dynamics individual offices have. If it’s not a potluck causing weird competition for recognition, it would be something else.

                  I never cooked for office potlucks and my coworkers knew this. I usually signed up for plates/etc which I know is lame, but it was my way of contributing to the effort. I never took food from the potluck unless people who participated noticed and told me it was ok to take some (and most of the time I was happy to let them twist my arm – if I hadn’t I would have given a more definitive excuse). There are ways around these office dynamics and I do think it’s rare that not participating means no more promotions.

              4. Star Trek Nutcase*

                In my various offices, it was definitely a negative if one chose not to participate. Before I grew a spine, I caved; after, I didn’t and just accepted the comments of being antisocial. I did a few times snap back and remark my budget was mine to spend, my cooking hygiene was nonnegotiable, and my lunch break mine to spend alone or with those I chose. I still was friendly and collaborated, just not willing to go further. And I never had one manager count my nonparticipation against me – they simply would note I was invited. I still resent those coworkers who couldn’t just let me be – I certainly never tried to stop their socializing, potlucks, parties, or fund raising. Accommodation of others is important especially when it’s not a work requirement (I do acknowledge other jobs may differ)..

                1. In winter*

                  “I did a few times snap back and remark my budget was mine to spend, my cooking hygiene was nonnegotiable, and my lunch break mine to spend alone or with those I chose.”

                  Would Captain Picard say this?

              5. Andie Begins*

                Bad management is bad but potluck politics are a symptom, not a problem in and of themselves. Bad management weaponizes many normal (and even good!) things for bad ends.

              6. H3llifIknow*

                That’s a crappy office and a crappy office admin who was clearly given too much power. In 25 years of working for DoD, I’ve never seen pressure like that. Thank goodness permitting petty tyranny isn’t the norm.

          3. Also-ADHD*

            Even when I’ve seen them organized by employees, it’s often at the direction of management (directly or indirect pressure) or seen as some part of the company culture. Not always, but too often. I’ve seen ones totally organized without management involved and those haven’t bothered me, but any “party” advocated for by management (and I saw this more in K12 schools higher education, than in my corporate jobs) had some soft pressure to participate and an expectation it was part of the culture. I’ve actually only seen a potluck in corporate once though—tons in education. In corporate, the one I saw was still organized by management (though there were paid things too) but we were encouraged to buy instead of cook if we liked and were given a stipend for it! But the editor of that magazine loved cooking and so wanted to bring stuff and made it a semi catered potluck.

          4. Jackalope*

            A lot of regions have cultural traditions around sharing food and potlucks, and so for many people it’s normal to include that at the office with the people you see every day for so much of your day. Since we all have to eat on the regular it’s not surprising that that would be the case. I agree that it should be open for people to opt out if they wish, but as long as that is truly acceptable (and not something that staff are secretly penalized for), my experience is that it’s a helpful tradition that most people I’ve worked with enjoy.

          5. Ophelia*

            Yep. My office has a (catered, nice) holiday party, but individual teams often do some sort of potluck lunch in December – not because we’re forced to, but because we generally like each other, and it’s nice to have lunch. Sometimes it’s just…lunch!

          6. Bitte Meddler*

            I worked at an IBM reseller back in the early 1990’s. The owners mandated a quarterly pot luck breakfast, and attendance was mandatory.

            They also didn’t think that things like co-workers eating and socializing should interfere with work, so the potlucks started at an ungodly early hour (I think it was 6:00 AM, when our normal start time was 8:00 AM; and , of course, we couldn’t leave two hours early at the end of the day).

            The owners and management provided absolutely nothing, not even coffee. And not even tables and chairs. We all had to stand around in an ancient (but huge) windowless conference room that was paneled in dark wood with moldy gold-green carpet. Prime spots were along the walls, so your drink — which had no place to go while you ate except for the floor — wouldn’t get kicked over.

            I do not miss my 9.5 months at ProAmerica.

        3. I should really pick a name*

          Can’t speak to the US, but I’m in Canada and potlucks are very common in the private sector.

          Most companies I’ve worked for have held potlucks (often around Christmas) AND had meals paid for by the company. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

          1. Rosemary*

            I am in the US and have only worked in the private sector, and both potlucks and meals paid for by the company are a thing (well, now we are 100% WFH so potlucks are no longer a thing…but they used to be pre-pandemic)

        4. borealis*

          Ha, only yesterday I was discussing the importance of free workplace coffee with a Finnish grad student I supervise – I’m Swedish and we drink almost as much coffee per capita as do the Finns. When a government agency or a municipality in Sweden tries to cut costs by making their employees pay for coffee at work, it has been known to create national headlines! She made me a little jealous by saying that the coffee at her home department in Finland was not only free but also really good… I can’t say I have ever experienced that. But I do get the caffeine boost for free, which is something.

        5. JSPA*

          I’ve been food-poisoned worse by purchased food. There’s a certain amount of magical thinking that sometimes adheres to “bought” stuff.

          If you assume that the sandwiches, potato salad and deviled eggs somehow immaculately sprang into being immediately before delivery, and remained refrigerated at below 5 degrees C throughout the delivery process, you will make dangerously unwarranted assumptions about how long they can sit out on the conference room table, before lunch.

          In contrast, while hair in food is conceptually gross, there’s no health risk from hair that’s been well-cooked in the long line of crockpots that tends to grace a midwest pot luck.

          If you can cover food that is catered and served by a reputable outfit, with chilling and heating and an unbroken chain of knowledge and responsibility, that’s presumably best…except that at a potluck people can bring food that caters to their specific dietary restrictions, and know that there will be something that they can eat.

          So it will really depend on the needs (as well as the budget as well as the accessibility as well as the transport options etc) of people in the specific workplace.

          A good potluck is as good as any restaurant meal and better than most; a bad potluck is a sad simulacrum of a meal.

        6. Michelle Smith*

          I never realized this, but you’re right. I stopped having frequent potlucks the moment I left government service for the nonprofit sector. My boss was confused as to why I didn’t know how to hire a caterer for a party, but it had never come up before.

        7. Leenie*

          I’ve only worked in the private sector, and have found it to be more of a regional/cultural thing than anything else. Potlucks were very common when I worked in the Midwest – people loved them and employees would freely organize them. I haven’t really seen them since I moved to the West Coast, many years ago.

          I find the rules around government employees in the US to be heavy handed to the point of absurdity. I would be quite happy for some of my tax dollars to go to employee coffee or other niceties or efficiencies. But there’s no need to cast shared meals as something that would only happen because of government or employer stinginess.

          If we’re going to culturally stereotype each other, there was that kerfuffle that started on Reddit a couple of years ago about a Swedish family not feeding their kid’s friend dinner. Then it got picked up by the media and became a larger discussion of how Scandinavian and Nordic countries have a more reserved food sharing culture than much of the rest of the world. If that’s true in your experience, maybe it’s informing your opinion on how unwelcome a pot luck might be among groups of employees from other cultures. Honestly, not a huge fan of potlucks myself, for a lot of reasons. But I know many people are, and found your supposition to be a bit of a leap.

        8. JB (not in Houston)*

          This is very much not the case. Potlucks are a cultural thing. Every place I’ve worked–and I’ve mostly worked private sector–has had potlucks, and I’ve place I’ve worked has also had work-sponsored parties. My parents also had potlucks at their work places, and so have my siblings, in addition to work-sponsored events. Maybe it’s because I live in the South, but potlucks are common outside of the work context as well with churches and some friend groups. A lot of people just really like them.

          1. I Have RBF*

            I grew up in the Midwest. Church potlucks were a cultural staple. Then my family moved out to California. Church potlucks were still a staple. I got a job. In not-tech companies, potlucks were a staple. The catered office lunch was a thing only at tech companies. In volunteer organizations, the annual party was a potluck barbecue, where the seniormost staff brought the meat and everyone else brought the sides.

            Now I work remotely, and don’t dine out, only get to-go food.

        9. zuzu*

          Some people really like potlucks because it gives them a chance to show off their cooking skills or make a dish that they don’t get to have at home because of family preferences. I worked in a place that did a lot of potlucks because there were some very dedicated cooks and bakers who loved feeding people, and since it was a small staff and the potlucks were neither mandatory nor frequent, it was not a burden on them.

          Those who didn’t cook usually brought in beverages.

          We also got some catered meals at that place.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I can’t recall a time a potluck was demanded by my employer, or when I felt ‘tasked’ with bringing in food. When we batted around the idea of a staff lunch – Valentine’s Day, or it was just a lousy week – people landed on a potluck event on their own.

        To be fair, the company paid for lunches during on-site training, day-long meetings, etc., so potlucks were not the default. But I think people either really like potlucks, or they really don’t.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yeah, our work potlucks were either 1-arranged by the department because people in the department liked having them, or 2-we had a big Thanksgiving potluck, which people ALSO liked, so we kept it as a tradition (we’d somewhat jokingly tell certain people that their dish was so good they weren’t allowed to bring in anything else). The company also paid for lunches/snacks at afternoon update meetings/offsite events for the whole company, so they weren’t doing it to be stingy. Our department just really liked having potlucks for things!

        2. Red_Coat*

          I only had one- it was at a medical clinic I worked for. Thankfully, one of the (new) doctors stepped in and pointed out that it was weighted highly against the admin team (who was assigned ‘entrees’ and made SIGNIFICANTLY less than… literally everyone else). He put his foot down and paid for the catering out of his own pocket.

          I ramble, but TL;DR- it was a symptom of a bigger problem, in the end.

      3. AnonInCanada*

        Or people who live on their own who don’t have a lot of culinary skills. Take me, for instance. My ‘recipe book’ used to be the phone number for pizza delivery (anyone who’s ever lived here knows the jingle: “nine six seven, eleven, eleven,”) which has since evolved to the Uber Eats app. No one would want to have my rendition of anything that resembled my effort in the kitchen (insert puke emoji here.)

        Thankfully we don’t have potlucks here. The office may spring for pizzas once a month, but that’s about it.

      4. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        The living history museum where I work came up with a good “hybrid pot-luck party” solution some time ago. The museum provided the main dishes and beverages, and the employees were invited to contribute side-dishes and desserts. This worked out very well, and we wound up with a great variety of choices.

        Very Important Point: the staff at our museum includes a LOT of people who LOVE to cook and who are happy to share their best dishes with their friends and co-workers. And with so many contributions, there was no problem if a few people didn’t bring in dishes of their own.

    2. Lenora Rose*

      And how is it happening to multiple dishes? One, once? Yeah, even at good restaurants that can happen, it can be gross but humans are human.

      But multiple? And, I assume, by several different people? That’s really outside the norm.

    3. Irish Girl*

      I work for a large company with regional office and a main home office. The regional offices get a budget for get togethers but home office has a larger event for all employees. So lots of smaller departments will do potluck for Thanksgiving/Christmas and other events cause they don’t get a budget for food like the regional offices.

    4. Katherine*

      I would also say the poo emoji is appropriate sometimes when discussing poo. But that won’t be an appropriate conversation topic for many (most?) workplaces.

  2. Swan*

    I love it when Alison’s answers are just a single yes or no.

    That said, LW5: you have my utmost sympathy. My brain is just went “no no no no no no no” when reading this.

    1. Annie B.*

      Just no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no all aroun! On that note, I never understood how people can steal their coworkers’ lunches. It’s gross.

    2. allathian*

      That’s one reason why I hate the mere idea of potlucks, it’s that I don’t trust everyone’s idea of kitchen hygiene to match mine (I worked in food service as a student and have the certificate to prove that I understand the hygienic practices that are necessary when you’re cooking for other people). The idea of mandatory home cooking for potlucks needs to die now.

      1. Fermented green beans*

        I have a family member who we stay with sometimes, and they have gotten into fermenting and canning things. I didn’t think much of it, but then I stumbled across the r/canning subreddit and learned there is a very narrow set of practices that are approved as safe, and my relative is using one of the unsafe methods. Their household has also had two bouts of a bad “stomach bug” in the last year that took them out for at least a week. Coincidence? Maybe. It’s no use saying anything to them (their food prep is related to their special interests that also include anti-vax and conspiracy stuff), so we just eat out a lot while we’re there.

        1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

          I know 2 people (a woman and her adult son) who got botulism from home canned green beans. What made it worse was that the ER mis-diagnosed them twice (saying they were drunk and go home and sleep it off the first time and suggesting carbon monoxide poisoning the second visit and sent them home to check their heater). The mother had permanent damage to her health because of the delayed treatment and the son took almost a year to recover.

        2. Orv*

          Yeah, I’m not grossed out by potluck food, but when someone offers me their home-made pickles or canned goods I graciously accept, then quietly dump it out later. Most food-borne illnesses can give you a few really bad days, but botulism can kill you.

        3. Distracted Procrastinator*

          I home canned food for many years. The folk wisdom that goes around about it gives me the heeby jeebies. I have one source I trust for information: the Ball Blue Book. County extension offices can also be good, but not always. (Sometimes there’s an employee who goes rogue and thinks their way is better than the official instructions. Good to ask, but make sure you double check.)

          I would not trust a single bit of advice on canning from a social media website. Not Facebook, not Reddit, none of them. People are still out there steam canning tomatoes! Not adding acid to modern sweet varieties! Not checking their pressure requirements for their elevation when doing low acid food! Just because the lid seals doesn’t mean you did it correctly. I can get a lid to seal just by screwing on a hot jar. Doesn’t mean the food is safe.

        4. Master Preserver*

          Botulism is really only a risk for low-acid foods, e.g. beans or peas in water that aren’t pressure canned, meat or dairy that’s improperly pressure canned, etc.

          Jams and pickles are fine. At worst they might spoil if canned improperly (I assume your relatives use the open kettle method, or maybe oven canning), but they’re not a botulism risk.

          Things like tomatoes and salsa are trickier. There are tested recipes for both, but if people get creative and add more vegetables or similar, that can throw the pH off and be risky.

      2. I should really pick a name*

        I’ve never been to a work potluck where home cooking was mandatory, so maybe it’s already dead?

        1. 2024*

          This is very niche, but do NOT bring store bought food to a church staff lunch, like a Christmas party. It needs to be home made or you will be hung out to dry. One of the unwritten rules of being pastoral staff (I was support staff).

        2. Lana Kane*

          Right? Half the stuff at my office potlucks came from the supermarket a couple of blocks away! And then the ones who cooked got the extra attention they wanted ;)

      3. Frieda*

        I’m in that same boat re: the certificate! I was tasked with bringing deviled eggs for a co-worker’s baby shower and people were *surprised that I wanted refrigeration* for them. For food that a pregnant woman, and all my coworkers, and I myself am planning to eat.

        Our next potluck coincides with a required meeting. So that’s fun.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


          I’m relatively cool with the idea of coworkers bringing in food to share – and indeed I’ve had workplaces where it was very normal to bring in baked goods etc – but only ambient.

          Foods that have to be kept hot or chilled are difficult to transport. A person could be a highly skilled home cook but not have the equipment to maintain foodsafe temperatures in transit.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            (That is, let alone in a room temperature office. Fridges and crockpots are useful but transportation is also a factor.)

          2. Phony Genius*

            Transportation of the food is a significant issue for people who use public transit to get to work.

              1. londonedit*

                Good point…I have a feeling there are areas of the UK where potlucks are a thing, but I’ve never lived in one, and it’s definitely not common in my experience of London. And that’s probably because everyone uses public transport to get to work, and many people commute in from towns around London, and it isn’t exactly easy to bring food on rush-hour trains!

                1. An O'nymous*

                  It’s a thing in Nottingham, where it’s called a fuddle!

                  I’ve done it a few times in London, but almost exclusively with a giant cheeseboard where everyone had to bring a different cheese or chutneys, crackers, fruit etc. That worked really well!

                2. Sharpiecollector*

                  The members of the Scottish dancing group I used to go to in greater London often attended larger social dances at weekends, and the refreshment in the middle of the evening was always Bring and Share. That, and Quaker meetings, are the only places I’ve encountered pot-lucks in the UK. Definitely never at work!

            1. Cicely*

              I take public transit, and bring something that is easy to transport, like cookies or a bag of tangerines, etc.

              I mean, I guess transporting some kinds of food on public transit can be a hardship for some people, but I think most often, people just work around it.

        2. desk platypus*

          Whenever we have potlucks at my work I always have to be the one to suggest maybe leaving multiple “should be refrigerated within an hour” foods out isn’t a good idea. I’m not about to eat something like a cream cheese spread in the afternoon that’s been there since the early morning. (But plenty of people here do!) I always get weird looks and a question of, “But what about if people show up later?” Well, then, they can go to the fridge!

          1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

            I’ve gotten some strange looks or rolling eyes when I’ve put cream cheese or yogurt containers on ice when doing a potluck breakfast. I don’t mess with dairy or mayonnaise not being kept cold. I once set a big bowl of leftover potato salad on top of the full trash can, only to see it set back out on the breakroom counter a few minutes later. [cue puke emoji]

        3. Lenora Rose*

          Usually for items like eggs, I’ve seen people bring in their own ice packs or just plain ice, and carry it in an insulated pack; it’s not as even or effective as a fridge but it’s generally enough to keep it safe.

          Hot dishes are where I get surprised/impressed by the lengths someone will go to on their behalf.

          I was lucky in that the current workplace has an oven, stovetop and places to plug things in, and doesn’t seem to have a person who helps themselves in advance. So last time I brought appetizer bites and ran downstairs and stuffed em in the oven a suitable amount of time before potluck.

          1. I Have RBF*

            Insulated packs help for hot dishes too. But if I bring a hot dish, I will take it out of the oven a few minutes before I leave, put it in an insulated carrier, drive less than half an hour, and serve it still hot. If I have to wait, I will chill it, put it in a microwaveable dish, store it in the office fridge, and warm it up in the microwave just before serving. I don’t tend to do stuff with eggs and mayo, though.

      4. Anonomite*

        It’s really interesting to me the number of people who think they have really high cleanliness standards for THEIR kitchen that nobody else can match. If everyone who said they were that fastidious really were, this wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion.

      5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Theoretically, I get your point, but:

        1. Professional food management can be iffy too. I’ve also worked in food service, and sometimes you learn more than you want about how the sausage is made.

        2. I’ve gotten food poisoning from restaurant food. On multiple occasions. Never gotten it from a potluck. And I’ve eaten at a lot of potlucks.

    3. HR Friend*

      I meeean the letter #5 and its 1-word answer are clearly posted to encourage 150 commenters to fire off about how much they hate potlucks. It’s not like there’s actual advice being asked or given.

        1. Elly*

          Me too! My previous job had some great potlucks. We had one every year for Pi Day where people brought in pies. We also did a Thanksgiving one the Friday before – we had a diverse group of employees so there were lots of different and delicious dishes to try.

          Though I do realize, especially reading this blog for so long, that I’m lucky we had a great group of employees that didn’t criticize or leave out people who didn’t/couldn’t contribute, anyone hogging food or taking home massive amount of leftovers, or terrible hygiene issues.

        2. Potlucky*

          Me, too. Our last church had an amazing potluck culture and we had to leave for unrelated reasons… but I sure do miss those potlucks. Yum.

      1. Observer*

        It’s not like there’s actual advice being asked or given.

        My guess is that people in the LW’s office are making a Big. Deal. about them not participating. So they are asking for a reality check. Which they are getting. The one work answer is part of this.

  3. Swan*

    LW2, I once misspelled the name of my own city in an application and still got hired.

    It’s probably not the greatest look to misspell the company name, but if it is a weird name they might be used to weird spellings of it. It may not automatically write you off.

    That said, with job hunting it’s usually best to assume any job you applied to is going to be a no and move on…though maybe with some extra checks of how the company name is spelled.

    1. vito*

      I had an interview a long time ago for a bank and the interviewer handed me a copy of their annual report and I noticed that they spelt the name of the person I interviewed with incorrectly.
      Also, My father told me about the time in college that he wrote a paper about his time in the Second Battalion, Second Marines …and misspelled second every time.

      1. Frieda*

        I misspelled the name of one of the people on the hiring committee when I applied for my current job.

        In fairness to me, it’s a name that’s easy to misspell, such that he didn’t even notice.

        1. Jiminy Cricket*

          As an entry-level staffer, one of my first tasks was opening every application and automatically rejecting every one that spelled the boss’s name without an (uncommon) “e.” She didn’t even want to see them for any reason.

          30 years on, I’ve realized that’s pretty extreme.

        2. Orv*

          I’ve had interviewers misspell and mispronounce my name. But the power dynamic there is such that you just have to let it go.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Pronunciation is different. I’ve lost track of the ways people have mispronounced my (two-syllable, originally of Dutch origin) last name. Basically I just listen for the consonants and assume the vowels will be wrong, misplaced, or both.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The only time I’ve ever rejected a resume for a typo was when they misspelled their former job title: proofreader.

      We all know autocorrect gets weird–if you were consistent writing “Teapots, Inc.” instead of “TeePotz, Inc.” I at least would see the consistency and just ask about your understanding of the tool’s falibility.

      1. allathian*

        Indeed. And if you’d found other typos in that resume, I bet it’d given you pause. Sure, mistakes happen and it’s very easy to become blind to your own mistakes. But some mistakes are much less excusable than others, and typos by a (former) proofreader are among the less excusable ones.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        An applicant for an executive assistant role referred to her exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal, and her attention to detail, in her cover letter. We stopped counting after finding 20 typos, misspellings, and formatting errors in that letter. Her resume was better, but we still caught a few errors.

        We did not invite her to interview.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          In the days when resumes came by fax (and sometimes to keep on file for future roles), I once replied to a resume with a polite “We are not hiring at this time” and a PS indicating she should fix the typos she put in the line right above the one about “attention to detail” before sending to the next place.

    3. Casper Lives*

      I left out a vowel in university on my resume once. It’s embarrassing but typos and mistakes happen.

      1. Chas*

        For some reason I consistently mis-type the word as “Univeristy” instead of University. To the point where I wonder if my right hand is working faster than my left one.

        1. SarahKay*

          I am right-handed, but my left hand definitely types faster than my right one… no idea why. Like you, I have some consistent mis-spellings because of that.

          Also, to comfort LW2 – one of the top level folders on our site server is mis-spelt so we have a “Site Calender” folder instead of a “Site Calendar” folder. (And it’s now been like it so long it’s not worth trying to fix because of all the links that’d break.)

          1. AFac*

            I have a colleague whose last name is a ‘misspelling’ of a common word. So using your example, their name is ‘Calender’ as opposed to the actual item with months and days of the week.

            I now have anxiety every time I have to spell that common word, because I no longer remember the correct spelling.

            1. Resentful Oreos*

              I really relate to this! The common misspellings in social media have me sometimes questioning which is correct! Ex. loose/lose, I actually momentarily think one should be the other!

          2. Lydia*

            I wonder if it’s because a lot of the letters we most commonly use in English are on the left side of the QWERTY keyboard.

          3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            I can top that: there’s an HTML field (“referer”) that’s misspelled (“referrer” would be correct) because of an error in *1995* that wasn’t caught until too late.

        2. Jillina*

          My name is Jillian. I frequently sign my name Jillain, Jillina, Jiallin, or – on very rare occasions – my left hand manages to drop the “a” into its correct position while my right hand is off having a party all on its own.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I have USUALLY managed to catch myself before sending out emails signed Lenroa.

            The funniest one was, in the very early days of passwords, I had one workplace where my username was ONLY my first name, and my password (never used since and long defunct) was a common word that started with a capital R. Everywhere else online I have virtually always been Lenora Rose. Often I had to back up on the password because I’d started typing in Rose instead of the password. And very very rarely, during the course of that one job, I’d mistype my name on a public online bulletin board as “Lenora R(password)”.

            As well as learning to add in characters and numbers, I definitely learned how not to start passwords…

          2. BubbleTea*

            I used to have a friend whose name was along the lines of Beryl, and I ALWAYS spelled it Berly. Helpfully, they later transitioned and changed their name to something my fingers have no trouble spelling.

          3. Distracted Procrastinator*

            My name is a common word if you replace one letter with the one next to it on the keyboard. Yes, I mistype my name frequently.

          1. Distracted Procrastinator*

            mine is definitely. Every time. Even when I typed it just now. (only I have to mispronounce it to type it correctly.)

        3. Esprit de l'escalier*

          I mistype my first name (in the same wrong order of letters) so often that I pause and check for it when I’ve typed it. Sometimes I get it right on the first try! It does feel like a left hand/right hand struggling for dominance on the keyboard, although in all other respects there’s no question which hand is dominant.

      2. Name Required**

        Yes, I find it so weird to suggest that a typo will take someone out of consideration. All other skills being aligned with the position, at least give the person an interview! Seems like a real over-reaction.

        Also, people on this site regularly misspell Alison’s name, so let’s all take a beat and put things in perspective — unless the letter is a disaster, it’s not enough to disregard a candidate.

    4. Carl*

      I too have misspelled the name of a company in a cover letter. I was horrified! I mean, I graduated #1 in my class, have two impressive degrees from top 10 institutions, and no one cares bc I MISSPELLED THE NAME OF THE COMPANY.

      I didn’t get that job. But, I got another job, at an equally impressive (and correctly spelled!) company. Basically, I lived, and I have not thought about that mistake in over a decade.

      Keep your chin up, OP. We all make mistakes and, well, no one died.

    5. Artemesia*

      I was on a search committee for a CSuite position at our organization in finance and one of the semi finalists misspelled the org’s name. I argued that he should not be considered because it showed both a lack of attention to detail and a lack of careful preparation for the application. I was overruled and he was one of three invited to interview. He ended up being noticeably flakey and was eliminated at this stage — but this was a stage that involved flying him in, wining and dining and considerable expense and time of key people. A single typo could be dismissed, but I think it is reasonable to drop someone from consideration who doesn’t take care on such a simple thing to get right as the name of the organization to which one is applying.

      1. Carole*

        I’m with the people overruling you in this one. Highly sought after c-suite people get held (rightly or wrongly) to a different standard because they have proven themselves by delivering results. This is not true of an entry level person who will be ironing out the details.

      1. metadata minion*

        Spell check doesn’t necessarily know the names of cities or companies! It particularly can’t help you remember that the company name is Llamas R Grate, not Llamas R Great, since both of those are valid words.

        1. La Triviata*

          I have an e-book in which with the acknowledgements the author thanks their “Tpyo Squad”

          And, for your amusement, years ago a TV commercial had a young man interviewing a “Mr. Dumas” which he consistently pronounces “dumb ass” (it should be pronounced like the French author, as he learns at the end)

      2. darsynia*

        I get the impression from that LW’s post that spell check wouldn’t have saved them, here. It’s likely a unique sound-alike spelling, a real word (but not the one they wanted), or some other thing that’s ‘invisible’ to spell check.

      3. Swan*

        Not often, especially not when you regularly use multiple different languages.

        Yes, autocorrect, “jpeg” is definitely me mistyping “katoen”,…

      4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Or not. Lots of company names are intentionally not real words, for branding purposes. Autocorrect could even be a culprit here.

        1. ampersand*

          Yes! I think we’re running out of new names for companies so half the time new ones don’t include vowels where they’d normally be, because people have to get creative with spelling…some company names are starting to sound like pharmaceutical drug names. I would overlook this particular mistake.

      5. Anon for This*

        Unless your department or school is called Public Affairs, in which case spell check is only your friend if you can customize it to flag for the missing L.

        (I still regret not popping down to the university printing office and snagging one of those graduation programs out of the trash.)

        1. metadata minion*

          Hot tip that I’m pretty sure I originally got from someone on this blog — it is possible to remove words from your computer’s dictionary. Unless you work for Planned Parenthood or something and actually need both words, remove the word “pubic” and it will flag as a misspelling.

      6. Lenora Rose*

        I dunno. I’ve seen the things autocarrot guesses that I mean, and and the description of it as a friendly elf that’s trying to be helpful but is very very drunk seems about right.

        1. Distracted Procrastinator*

          one of my friend text groups have named the auto correct elf and will blame him even when the error is not his fault.

      7. Observer*

        And Spill Chuck is not.

        There are a lot of things that spell checkers will not see. And a lot of things that spell checkers will get absolutely wrong. In fact, I would not be surprised if the error in the company name was introduced by spell check.

        For example, Chex is a perfectly correct word, but if I let it I would have corrected it to Che. On the other hand, I nearly wrote “work” instead of “word” in the prior sentence, and the spell checker had no problem.

        For everyone’s reading pleasure:

        Ode To a Spell Checker
        ODE TO A SPELL CHECKERby Jerrold H Zar
        Eye halve a spelling check her,
        It came with my pea sea.
        It plane lee marks four my revue
        Miss steaks aye kin knot sea.
        Eye ran this poem threw it,
        Your sure reel glad two no.
        Its vary polished in it’s weigh,
        My checker tolled me sew.
        A check her is a bless sing;
        It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
        It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
        And aides me when aye rime.
        Each frays come posed up on my screen,
        Eye trussed too bee a joule;
        The checker pours o’er every word
        To cheque sum spelling rule.
        Bee fore wee rote with checkers
        Hour spelling was inn deck line,
        Butt now when wee dew have a laps,
        Wee are knot maid too wine.
        Butt now bee cause my spelling
        Is checked with such grate flare,
        There are know faults with in my cite,
        Of nun eye am a wear.
        Now spelling does knot phase me,
        It does knot bring a tier;
        My pay purrs awl due glad den
        With wrapped words fare as hear.
        To rite with care is quite a feet
        Of witch won should be proud;
        And we mussed dew the best wee can
        Sew flaws are knot aloud.
        That’s why eye brake in two averse
        Cuz eye dew want too please.
        Sow glad eye yam that aye did bye
        This soft wear four pea seas.

    6. ChiliHeeler*

      I worked for a company that was named after someone with a name similar a fairly common word (think Planer instead of Planner). We didn’t ding people for misspelling it since we were constantly reminding our own spell checks that it was correct. However, if it was accompanied by other typos, that would usually disqualify them. Our work was a lot of detailed writing.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Similar, but I was the only person at work to notice that the new decal on the glass in foot-high letters was misspelled.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          A boss of mine once had a pic on his door of students proudly holding up a banner for the “University of Massassachusetts”

          1. Rex Libris*

            It is one of those words that it’s difficult to know when to stop spelling. Like bannanna or Missississippi.

      2. metadata minion*

        I’m a cataloger and I once came across a record that had been worked on by catalogers at the Library of Congress and Oxford University (i.e., some of the best people in the world at our intensely detail-oriented work), and somehow neither of them had noticed that the title field spelled Germany with two rs (Gerrmany). I even went and triple-checked to make sure the typo wasn’t in the book itself!

        Humans make mistakes. If you make a lot of this kind of mistake, some jobs are not for you, but if it’s a life-and-death situation you put safeguards in the process that don’t depend on humans never making careless errors.

    7. Mockingjay*

      Cutesy or coined company names are asking to be misspelled. Of course, trademarks and registered corporations mean that businesses need unique names, so you can end up with a weird spelling if another company got theirs first.

      (These days I also give more leeway to misspellings with the constant struggle to override autoincorrect.)

      Hopefully the hiring manager is accustomed to misspellings if the company name is odd and will give OP2 due consideration.

    8. Jackalope*

      On a practical note, I Sometimes find it helpful if it’s a weird word to read the letters out loud one by one from my document as if I was spelling it to someone over the phone, and then look at the original. Sometimes that will help my brain see my typos, and it can be more helpful than my other spellchecking tricks if it’s a word that’s a company name or something else that’s not a normally spelled word.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      At the beginning of the pandemic I was rewriting the institutional biographies–I work for a library that is part of a large medical center–of the various regional medical entities and managed to write “CORVID 19” in a day’s worth of emails to them before I realized what I was doing. Mercifully, they all replied without commenting on it.

    10. Reb*

      I work for an organisation whose name is a very common word, except it’s the name of the person who founded it and it’s not spelt like that word – Waits versus Waites or Handle versus Handal, that kind of thing. If I ruled out people on the basis they can’t spell the company name, I’d be struggling to recruit. To make it even worse we’re actually a subsidiary of our parent organisation and they’re really famous, so our name is actually parent name plus our name. We get so many applications saying how working for [parent] company has been their life long dream. I generally don’t rule them out either – unless they’re senior, in which case they should know better.

    11. Baunilha*

      My employer’s name is a misspelled version of a very common word. (Think Applle) We often have candidates who spell the word correctly, rather than the company’s name, probably because of autocorrect. If they are otherwise strong candidates, we don’t disqualify them just because of that.

    12. Miette*

      Came here to say I interviewed and ultimately hired an intern that attached the wrong cover letter to her application. What I wanted was proof she was a good writer, and the cover letter and samples she included was all I needed.

    13. Reba*

      I had a friend who misspelled her own first name in big bold type on her resume. She still got the job. Boss’s reasoning was that she was hired for design, not copywriting.

    14. Wendy Darling*

      I once sent a cover letter with the name of a completely different company and still got called for an interview, during which the cover letter never came up.

    15. PotsPansTeapots*

      I forgot to submit a writing sample with my application and I still got my current job. It’s important to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s when you apply, but often how much the employer cares is dependent on how urgent the posting is and how many applicants they have.

    16. AW*

      I was on a hiring committee and we received an application directed to X State University (we are University of X, and XSU is our staunch rival!). We had a good chuckle about it, we did not invite them to interview but that was for different reasons. Had they been a well qualified applicant we would still have invited them to interview. If they ended up hired, we absolutely would have heckled them gently, in good fun.

      If the company knows their name is difficult, they probably have seen it before and don’t worry too much about it.

  4. TheBunny*

    LW#1 If it helps, I see the kiss emoji as more of a “chef’s kiss” than an actual lips touching another person kind of thing.

    I use it. I just did the other day when a person on my team completed tasks 1-4 on a list I only asked if he could do 1 and 2. It’s more than a smile but it really doesn’t mean anything.

    1. Drag0nfly*

      Chef’s kiss is exactly what I thought of. I pictured colleagues saying, “This thing you did is *chef’s kiss* thanks so much!”

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        I was thinking the exact same thing.

        Great minds think alike, and fools seldom differ!

      2. AnonInCanada*

        You’d think by now someone over at Unicode would include a chef’s kiss emoji. I’ve used (chef)(kiss) several times in past, and I know I’m not the only one.

      3. B*

        My work slack does have a chef kiss emoji as one of the many custom emojis available. It does have its uses for sure

        1. Filosofickle*

          My company’s Slack has a “Guy Fieri chefs kiss” emoji that’s verrrrry popular with my colleagues

    2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      Thirding this, and unicode has yet to provide a specific chef’s kiss emoji. The chef emojis themselves are a combination of at least two emoji (any of a few person emojis with the cooking emoji, and the person emojis can themselves be combinations of a gendered or ungendered person and a skin tone).

    3. AJ*

      I usually picture it like a super camp, “You’re fabulous, dahling, mwah!” kind of emotion. Like are we kissing? Heckers no. Am I kissing the air beside your head, telling you you have godlike fashion sense, and possibly discouraging you from wearing a cape? Yes.

      1. darsynia*

        The letter definitely reminds me of seeing someone write in (maybe to Reddit, if not here?) that a skull emoji is a death threat! I exclusively use for ‘oh shit’ or ‘RIP me’ (for a mistake, a terrible but humorous situation I’m dealing with, etc.), or even ‘you completely killed it/killed me’ in a fun, complimentary way. Not at work, but I was reminded of the letter. I think the context was something in education.

      2. Silver Robin*

        exactly! it is a *blown* kiss, very different than the other kiss emojis. The little heart and the winky face make it playful and silly, as opposed to the others that read much more like actual kisses to me. Not sure if emojis come through here, but in case they do, I am referring to vs

        Also, if I recall, xx is a common informal sign off in the UK, and I always assumed that came from xoxo. Again, friendly, non sexual, and non romantic, so it would not be the first time English speakers (assumption for LW) are using shorthand kisses to express positivity and appreciation.

      3. Observer*

        I usually picture it like a super camp, “You’re fabulous, dahling, mwah!” kind of emotion.

        Yeah, that was my first thought, too. But the Chef’s kiss works just as well.

    4. JSPA*


      I know we live in many different groups as far as dialects of emoji use, and can only weigh in on usage in our particular group. But in my experience, this is about 50/50 non-sarcastic chef’s kiss and sarcastic chef’s kiss. Not “love and kisses.”

      Yeah, there’s a chef’s kiss hand gesture emoji that can stand alone or accompany the kissy face. But it can also be taken for a rude / ticked off (Italian?) hand gesture. So mostly the kissy face is standing alone, in my circles.

      (I don’t know if emojis work here, so I’ll post the hand gesture in a separate post.)

      1. JSPA*

        this: (fingers pinched facing up hand gesture)
        seems more susceptible to even worse misinterpretation, no?

        1. Learn Italian language textbooks usually include gestures*

          Yup. I know the one you mean. It sure looks to me, a non-Italian who speaks Italian and has spent a lot of time in Italy, like a hand gesture that means “wtf, buddy?” and that you might not do around your Italian mother-in-law, and definitely wouldn’t do TO your Italian MIL. However, my stubborn Italian ex disagreed with me, so who knows? I’d still be a bit confused how else to use it.

    5. Antilles*

      For OP, yeah, I think you just have to let this one go and maybe roll your eyes. Presumably you can tell from context that it’s not meant romantically, so it’s not really worth talking about.

      That said, for your example, I don’t really understand why you’d pick the kiss emoji there. You have dozens if not hundreds of emojis to pick from, why not just use one of the many many ones that conveys the same general “I like this” or “awesome” intention that isn’t also used with people’s romantic partners (*kiss emoji*, love you sweetie)?

      Just use the “high-five” emoji or the cheering smiley face or etc and avoid the whole issue.

      1. Lulu*

        Yeah, I’ve almost used the kiss emoji before and then second guessed it like “hmm maybe someone would take that not the way I intend” so I avoid using it.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I think I’d also be startled to receive it from anyone who wasn’t close friend/family. Wait, kiss?? Oh, right, just enthusiasm…

    6. Dust Bunny*

      This is how we use it at my job. It would never cross my mind that it was being used flirtatiously in this context.

    7. TPS Reporter*

      yeah but the context in which OP says it’s being used doesn’t sound like a chef’s kiss, it sounds like a communication of affection which is a little much for work. like a very big thank you to me is affection/regular kiss, a chef’s kiss is a wow that was an impressive job. also chef’s kiss you can do the lips plus hand gesture emoji with the thumb and first finger touching.

      not a huge deal ultimately but I would also be uncomfortable using the heart kiss at all for work.

    8. Miette*

      Me too. Or like someone saying “Mwah!” and faking an air kiss. It’s a friendlier way to acknowledge something than the thumbs up

    9. Lana Kane*

      I agree. I’m also of the opinion that there is way too much angst about emojis at work. Usually the people replying with kiss or heart emojis aren’t trying to get in your pants. I confess when I first saw a heart emoji in my team chat I did a double take, but it didn’t occur to me to be upset about it.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Yes, since there isn’t a chef’s kiss emoji as far as I know, that would be my default interpretation in a work context.

  5. PleaseNo*

    #1, I hear you and I also don’t like seeing that emoticon at work. I never use it at work. It rarely pops up, but when it does, since the heart is so small, I just take it as another kind of smiley face and don’t look too closely.

    And FYI, “Dear” also never sat right with me either!

    1. Katie Impact*

      I also personally avoid the kiss and heart emojis at work because they do feel a little bit too intimate (I’ll generally use the sparkle emoji to represent generic positive emotions instead), but they seem to be used commonly enough that there’s not much to be done about it and most people aren’t going to see it as being out of line.

      1. Maroon*

        I agree that it feels too intimate! I certainly don’t want to condemn the OP’s colleagues over their emojis, but I don’t see any reason to select the romantic-coded emojis out of hundreds of choices. These emojis will always possess (at least) vague associations of love and romance, and there are so many choices that are unambiguously professional! I just don’t see why anyone, regardless of intent, would introduce romantic imagery when it’s unnecessary.

        1. Katie Impact*

          Now that I think about it, part of my discomfort is probably that I’m a woman in an 80% male workplace and that’s actually better than average for my industry, so I’m worried that anything that could be perceived as “feminine” is going to make me stand out, and not in a good way. It might be different in an environment with a different gender dynamic, or it might not. I dunno.

          1. Allonge*

            Which is totally fair.

            There are quite a few other options to share gratefulness / positive feelings towards someone in a work context – this is a quick win in your situation without giving away anything, really.

          2. But what to call me?*

            There could be something to that. In my previous mostly female workplace I doubt anyone would have given those emojis any thought.

        2. nodramalama*

          I think possibly the norms around that are changing because of the prevalence of lovehearts as a react on social media.

          1. fallingleavesofnovember*

            I was thinking that too for the kiss emoji – I do sometimes wish Teams (for example) had the Facebook ‘care’ emoji as I’m so used to using that. So maybe the kiss kind of subs in for that?

            Also wonder if there are different UK/North America norms – a lot of my British friends sign off with an ‘X’ or ‘Xx’ but I’ve never seen any of my Canadian or American friends do that. I’m not sure they’d do it in the workplace, but it definitely seems totally casual there…

            1. nodramalama*

              Yeah as an Australian I have seen many a goodbye card signed off with an X or an XO and i have never thought they wanted to hug or kiss someone

              1. londonedit*

                Yep it’s very common here (UK) to sign off on birthday/leaving cards with ‘x’ – tends to be mainly women doing that, in my experience, but some men do too. It’s not a big deal at all and it doesn’t literally mean ‘I am kissing you’, it’s just a friendly way to sign off the message. I probably wouldn’t use a ‘kiss’ emoji at work unless I was sending a casual message to a close female colleague, and even then I’d probably reserve it for a message where I was thanking them for going out of their way to do something for me, but in group chats with non-work friends we often use that ‘kiss’ emoji to mean ‘thinking of you’ or ‘sending you love’ if someone’s having a tough time.

                1. Chas*

                  Would you put an ‘x’ on a birthday card for a work colleague, though? Because I’m also in the UK and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone putting kisses in cards at my workplace, but that could just be an result of my workplace not fostering much camaderie between people.

                2. londonedit*

                  Yep, absolutely – that’s what I meant, where I work and in my career it’s been common for people to put ‘x’ or ‘xx’ on work birthday/leaving cards. Maybe publishing is a friendly industry or maybe it’s because it’s an overwhelmingly female-populated industry, I don’t know, but ‘Happy birthday! Hope you have a lovely day! xx’ is absolutely standard.

            2. kristinyc*

              An alternative to that a Slackg roup I’m in uses: The croissant emoji. It’s a warm buttery hug! (So like, if someone posts that they were laid off or their dog is sick or whatever, people react with the croissant to show sympathy).

              This group I’m in has more than 22k members, so occasionally someone new asks what it means, but it’s became a key piece of vocabulary in that community.

            3. AnonORama*

              UGH I hate the care emoji! Getting so many of those in response to my posts — and a friend referring to it as the “pity heart” — has literally inspired positive changes in my life, or at least the part of my life I choose to share online.

          2. Also-ADHD*

            Yeah the heart doesn’t make me think at all, though I’ve not seen the kiss used as much personally. The heart is so ubiquitous, it’s almost a default emoji for things people like on Slack (thumbs up at my org/team seems to be more acknowledgment than like).

          3. Bumblebee*

            We heart each others’ teams posts all the time around my work! Although my noted-technophobe/possibly-luddite boss used prayer hands in a text the other day and I have literally no idea what he meant. It seemed to be a good thing so I just moved on.

            1. londonedit*

              I tend not to use the prayer hands one because I’m also not 100% sure what it means! I’ve seen it used as a sort of ‘thank goodness’ reaction, and also as a ‘fingers crossed, let’s hope so’ reaction (but I’m not sure what the difference with that is from the actual crossed-fingers emoji, which is what I’d use!)

              1. kristinyc*

                I’ve had coworkers who use prayer hands as a “Please and thank you” kind of thing (like, someone asks me to do something, I say sure, then they react to my “sure” with prayer hands).

                1. JustaTech*

                  When I’ve types “thanks” into several chat systems (Teams and Facebook) it offers the “prayer hands” (two hands pressed together) as an autocomplete for “thanks”.

                  Several of my immediate coworkers use the “heart” reaction in Teams to express “care” – like if you say you’re out sick or something.

              2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

                That’s the one that gets me. A lot of people use it as a “high-five” but I always see it as prayer, which is really uncomfortable in a work setting.

            2. Silver Robin*

              I have seen fierce (but not serious) debate over whether it is prayer hands or a high five; I think prayer is the more common interpretation but I do not pockets of high fivers

            3. MigraineMonth*

              My iPhone suggests it for both “please” and “thank you”, so your boss might just be using the suggested substitution. I imagine an overly excited teenager begging their parent to be allowed to go to a concert or something.

              “PLEASE please please please please??” (prayer hands)

            4. Teacher, Here*

              I’m guessing he meant “thank you”! In slack if you type “:thank”, that’s what pops up.

        3. Chas*

          I think this might be dependent on the work culture you’re in. I work in a department (UK academic science research) that very rarely uses emojis at all- colleagues close enough to message me will use the thumbs up or hands in prayer emojis to denote a message received or thank you response, but that’s about the only time I see them used. So, while I agree that any heart- or kiss-based emojis are too intimate for anyone outside of my family and maybe very close friends, I can see how someone might not think twice about how a kissy-face emoji might come across in a workplace where people are already commonly sending wine and baguette emojis to each other.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          I feel like, as with “Don’t use any acronyms that might also be naughty acronyms,” you just can’t stay ahead of the things that have taken on secondary meanings.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, like the other day there was a discussion about how a thumbs-up emoji apparently now has a sarcastic ‘OK then…’ tone – it was the first I’d heard of it!

            1. Bast*

              Depending on who gives me the thumbs up, I may take it sarcastically. My mother sending a text is probably using it quite literally. She doesn’t get alternate meanings of things, and has just mastered basic acronyms like “lol.” If it’s a friend, it really depends on the context and person. There’s a good deal of people who I can see the eyeroll and hear the tone.

            2. Managing While Female*

              Context matters. While it may read as sarcastic on TikTok or something (I’m old and have no idea), a lot of people at my work use thumbs up reaction on Teams to acknowledge that they received and understand a message.

              1. AnonORama*

                I’m also old and just use the eye roll face to signify an eye roll! Our office (all ages 25-65) uses the thumbs up for “great” or “understood.” As far as I know, no one is using sarcastically, but maybe it’s just going over my Gen-X head.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I still have to mentally reboot every time someone sends me a professional email with the subject line “F/U”.

            The body is always completely professional: “Following up with you about the llamas mentioned in our last meeting…”

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              I was JUST complaining about this today! (But in a medical context, i.e. “need to schedule a f/u appointment” rather than a work one.)

          3. Esmae*

            Library land has to have the conversation about not abbreviating Banned Books Week to BBW every year.

        5. ecnaseener*

          Ha, a while back I asked in an open thread whether I was the only one who found the heart emoji a little weird at work, and at the time it seemed I was. Vindication!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Technically they mean different things — an emoticon is the one made of punctuation like :) or <3

    2. Ashley*

      I was thinking about Dear the other day when typing a letter to someone and was a little annoyed we don’t have something better yet for formal business letters.

      1. JustaTech*

        Back before Google Translate my mom’s friends were trying to write a letter in Italian to thank their guide from a recent trip.
        They thought they’d gotten everything right, but were checking with a dictionary that said the word they’d been told to use as a salutation “dear” actually meant “beloved”. That didn’t sound right so they waited a few days to find a friend who spoke Italian to double check that they weren’t being weird – and no, they weren’t being romantic, it is just like “dear” in English – it has a fundamentally different meaning at the top of a letter.

    3. kiki*

      Yeah, I agree. I wouldn’t use the kiss emoji at work because it feels to intimate, but I can also recognize that it’s not how my coworkers are using it (unless there’s something kind of icky going on, but it sounds clear here that it’s not since people are using it on public posts).

    4. Caroline*

      Yeah. I had a manager who was really into emojis and sent me lots of hearts and flowers all the time (never a kiss though!) It made me uncomfortable, but her personality was really different and she was incredibly kind and thoughtful and I decided not to say anything. She left that job a couple of years ago and we became great friends after she was no longer my manager. And she calmed down quite a bit with the emojis. It turned out she was absolutely miserable at my company and I think the emoji activity was one of many was she was trying to inject positivity and happiness into life because she wasn’t feeling it.

    5. CareerChanger*

      I’m an older millennial, and the first time a younger colleague replied to something with a red heart, I was a little surprised. I had only used that one in a much more intimate context. So yes I can see why LW1 reacted this way. For me, the fact that people are using it in a group setting is sort of proof that it’s harmless. If a coworker were sending heart or kissy emoji to me directly, I might worry.

      1. Impending Heat Dome*

        “Heart” is one of the default emojis in Teams and we tend to use it pretty liberally on my team. People tend to use it to give or acknowledge well-wishes, for the most part. Like, “I hope you have a great week off!” gets tagged with a heart.

      2. YetAnotherManager*

        Agreed! I’m another older millennial and I do actually use the red heart reaction in personal messages to signify “so cute” or “love this” or similar; it was a bit jarring to realize that my younger reports tend to use it like I’ve used thumbs-up, just to signify “okay/will do” in a warm way. I still can’t bring myself to do the same!
        Actually, I do wonder if this has to do with the fact that my first mainstream social media platform was Facebook where “like” was a thumbs-up, and much of Gen Z will have grown up with “like” being a heart on Instagram, TikTok, etc…

    6. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Oh good, I’m not alone on this! When I was reading #1, I was cringing about the kiss emoji and was surprised this was seen as being okay. The only person I ever use that emoji with is my husband, so if a coworker sent it to me, I’d be creeped out. Same with the winking emoji. There’s a guy at my job that something about him has made me uncomfortable since day one. I can’t figure out why, but I’ve had those gut feelings before and they’ve eventually proven themselves to be right, so I know something about him is off. Anyway, he often winks at me (I had the gut feeling about him before he ever winked at me), which feels extra creepy coming from him and as such, I won’t use the winking emoji and would not be happy if someone used it with me, especially professionally.

      1. Spider Plant Mom*

        I was thinking the same! I’ve only ever used or received that emoji with my fiance so the first reaction I’d have would be a side-eye. I don’t think I’d read anything into it beyond enthusiasm, or as someone said above the equivalent of “Mwah!” but it would definitely take a minute to process.

    7. Spicy Tuna*

      I don’t like “dear” on work correspondence. I typically go with “Hello All” or “Good afternoon / good morning”

        1. metadata minion*

          I don’t usually go for “dear” on work communication, but to me it just sounds really, really dated. If I’m addressing a loved one, it feels less weird because then I am actually intending some of the literal meaning, but as a default opener I feel like I’m in fifth grade and being told to write a letter to [insert public figure here].

    8. SpaceySteph*

      I open work emails with “Hello [name],” “Hi [Name],” or “[Name],” depending on the level of formality I’m going for. I never use “Dear.”

    9. korangeen*

      Same, I’m also weirded out by “Dear”. When I receive a letter/email with “Dear korangeen” I accept they’re just using it because of convention, but I never use it myself. Likewise with a kissing emoji, I’d be weirded out by that, but probably wouldn’t say anything about it.

  6. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – you can proactively tell the recruiter working on your role that you do not want to consider your friend for the position. They’ll just ignore the application. (Do give them the real reason that you don’t want to consider the candidate, though – ie. that she’s a close friend but not a cultural fit. I’ve had it happen to me that a manager has rejected a candidate, leaving me to think that I had misunderstood their requirements, when really it is that the manager knew them from elsewhere and didn’t want to consider them.)

    If your friend knows you are the hiring manager, though, they may ask why they were not considered. At that point, I think you need to be ready to tell them that you can’t hire them because they are your friend, and that it would be a conflict of interest for you to do so. Lean into the ethical issues and (after you clear it with your manager), say that your manager was not supportive of the idea.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Just tell HR she’s a friend and you shouldn’t be managing her and that’s enough. They can save her resume for another position in someone else’s department.

    2. Skippy*

      I’m concerned that positioning it to the friend as “I don’t feel equipped/comfortable managing a friend” makes it sound like a preference that LW has rather than a general business practice. As your friend I can’t hire you for a role reporting to me or manage you–it’s just not how we do things.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I think making it clear that it’s a general business practice and not specific to the company or your preferences is the best way. It’s true, and it will help her have realistic expectations going forward. And it will help her to not take it personally, which might be the best option for your friendship.

    3. DontHireFriends*

      OP4 here.

      Friend didn’t know the role reported to me when she applied but after she told me about it I immediately told her so she does now. Her response was very “oh yay!” like now I can just hire her…

      I think a proactive conversation with her seems the best bet as a straight decline from the company could be cold?

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think this side of it is more of a friendship question than a work question! The work question is that you’ve made a good solid decision not to hire her. Whether you lean into general “good business ethics”, “I wouldn’t be allowed to hire or manage a friend at this company” or “not the right time when I’m new in role and still gaining confidence” depends on what you feel most comfortable and what you think she’ll take best.

        I would say, though, there’s a chance that she’ll be mardy about it and it might damage the friendship. That doesn’t mean you’re making the wrong choice! You can’t have a friendship that is only successful if you behave unprofessionally and prioritise hiring a friend *for the sake of the friendship* rather than because that’s the best work decision. If that happens, feel comfortable that you made the right choice and that she’s demonstrating why hiring her would have been a terrible idea and would have wrecked the friendship in a different way, because she’d never have taken direction from you,

        1. Tio*

          I would not go with “not the right time when I’m new in role and still gaining confidence” because that implies you may hire her later, and she’ll still think she has an in. Go with the first one, so she knows that you won’t hire her on your team in the future either.

        2. I Have RBF*

          I would point out that it wasn’t ethical of me to hire and try to manage a personal friend. Because it’s not. If you were their mentor, that might be different, but you’re not.

      2. Allonge*

        To be honest at this stage this is more of a friendship question for me and less of a work question.

        In some relationships it’s best to say directly that you would never have been able to manage her, in others, might be better to leave it to the official channels to deliver the bad news and just say sorry it did not work out.

      3. HonorBox*

        In this case, maybe a quick chat with HR or your boss about the situation would be helpful. Disclose that your friend applied. Heck, even tell them that you’re uncomfortable with managing a friend. Then ask if there is any guidance from the company about this situation. Hopefully they can tell you that either you’re not allowed to manage a friend or they’d prefer managers didn’t have friends reporting to them. You can then have a conversation with your friend and report that you’ve learned that the company has rules against that and you’re not in a position to rock the boat because you’re so new.

  7. TheBunny*

    I worked for a Spanish company for years. The name of the company is a couple of words tied together (think like a celebrity couple name) but in Spanish. And there’s an internal company video welcoming people to the company in which literally no one says the name the same way twice.

    How people said the name of the company was pretty much ignored. It’s possible this might be the same kind of thing.

    1. TheBunny*

      This was supposed to be a comment to the person who spelled their city wrong. Not sure what happened.

  8. learnedthehardway*

    LW#2 – I recently interviewed someone who forgot to include an entire role they had held for a few years. I asked about the gap in their resume and they realized that they’d left the company and position entirely out of the document. I’ve just asked them to send me a new copy of their resume. They’re a well-qualified candidate, and brain farts happen.

    1. el l*

      Yeah, I think the answer for OP2 is: Just learn from it and don’t make that mistake again. Doesn’t mean that your chances with the company are over, and it doesn’t mark you out as untrustworthy or bad. You were just careless at a delicate moment.

      Just make it a point on your next applications to take a few minutes before submitting to make sure you get names and similar identifying details right.

    2. It Might Be Me*

      They happen to us all. I actually did this with the cover letter for the job I have now. I used material instead of materiel. One letter difference. Fortunately the folks interviewing me assumed it was a spell check error.

      That was also the interview where I was given the wrong number to call. Then the call dropped. I think how I handled those issues made a difference. I didn’t treat it like a “grand tragedy.”

    3. Pizza Rat*

      Brain farts do happen. I’ve had a few in cover letters and still had interviews.

      On the other hand, I know people who will round-file a resume if there is a typo. One or two? I’ll still read them. A pattern of them, then I’d pass.

      Nuance is important and I think some people lack it.

    4. Lana Kane*

      I work for a company that is know by initials, and SO MANY people switch two of the letters around. It’s a huge employer in my state and people wh have lived here all their lives still do it. I saw it happen in more than one cover letter and I usually just let it slide if the rest of the materials were compelling.

  9. Irelass*

    #5….I refused to eat at potlucks at work. A colleague told me that some of the staff had a contest to make food from the “oldest thing in their freezer”. Nope, not eating that.

    1. Heidi*

      Maybe the quality of potlucks has gone down over time. I remember going to some really great ones in my childhood and getting to experience foods that I’d never heard of before. I think I had banh mi for the first time at a potluck. Possibly guacamole as well.

      1. amoeba*

        Probably just depends on the people involved! My lab during my PhD had the best potlucks ever, and as far as I know, we never had any issues with hygiene either. But then we were all chemists, so I guess we’d know how to cook and how to work safely, haha!

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          The last place I worked that had potlucks, I knew entirely too much about the general hygiene, cleanliness, and pet care habits of my coworkers to ever partake in homemade food.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I still view it as pretty normal for a large gathering, like the parents of the sports team. Particularly in contexts that are a little less “I am inviting over a group of my friends” and more “I am offering my home as the gathering space for everyone in this group around a common theme, like having kids on the swim team; other people help out with some of the cost and effort.”

        For the first context, I’ve been to a few where the hosts provided the main food and drink, and guests brought desserts, appetizers, vegetables, etc.

    2. Lady Ann*

      Last work potluck I attended someone brought ham which sat out for 4 hours before the meal started because there was no room in the fridge. But hey they heated in the microwave right before serving it so it was fine, right?

    3. lilsheba*

      Potlucks nowadays are just foolish to have. With Covid still being spread, no thanks. I don’t want everyone breathing all over all the food. My husband’s work had a potluck finally last year and I said no don’t go, I don’t want that coming home to me.

      1. Bella Ridley*

        Do you think Covid is foodborne and therefore a potluck is more dangerous than everyone running around in an enclosed environment on a regular day?

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        If you’re worrying about people breathing all over the food, any indoor food event is going to be the same problem–the danger isn’t that someone else will breathe on or near the food while it’s on a serving table. The danger is because you’re all breathing the same air while you eat and talk.

        This isn’t an unreasonable concern, especially if you’re at higher risk for any reason. I’ve been avoiding eating in restaurants for the last few years, because I don’t want to risk another infection.

        The ways to address or at least alleviate that risk are outdoor events, or indoor spaces with air filters, UV-C lighting, or good ventilation. Standard food safety rules still matter, but for the same reasons they mattered in 2019, not because they’ll protect us from covid or other respiratory viruses.

      3. OaDC*

        Potlucks should be optional but not everyone is afraid of everyday life, nor should they be expected to be.

        1. lilsheba*

          It’s not being afraid of everyday life, it’s being careful and not letting other careless people’s germs and infections get to me or my husband. I am going through a lot of medical stuff right now and am disabled so I really don’t want to deal with that. So it is a bad idea to eat communal food in a communal indoor space. NOPE.

        2. I Have RBF*

          Being Covid cautious is not being “afraid of everyday life”, and I really resent the fact that some idiots think it is. Not wanting to get a potentially lethal disease and spread it to your family is not a phobia or other irrationality.

          Covid is not gone, it still kills people and disables others with Long Covid. Every time someone gets Covid, their chances of getting Long Covid go up.

          People who don’t give a shit about others are why I still have to order my groceries and wear an N95 mask out in public. The whole attitude all over the world is why the damn thing is still mutating and spreading.

          My spouse has cancer, and while I would get sick for about 10 weeks (Covid and the recovery time), my spouse – on chemo with no immune system – would probably die.

          So no, I’m not dining with others, potluck or catered, for a long time.

          1. OaDC*

            I think that people should make their own choices regarding Covid and those choices should be respected. But that’s not a reason to decide for everyone what’s foolish or not, or what should be eliminated from public life.

          2. Pescadero*

            Worrying about people breathing on your food giving you COVID (note – you’re in the same room with them) is really lacking an understanding of COVID transmission.

            Fomite transmission of COVID happens almost never. Airborne transmission is common.

            So worry about breathing in the same room as you, not them breathing on food.

    4. Pizza Rat*

      I once startled some people at my office with a potluck contribution. I did peanut-sesame noodles and made the sauce the night before. I cooked the noodles in the morning and put everything in a metal bowl that could be sealed. They were still warm and fresh at 11:00 a.m.

    5. Aphrodite*

      You can’t keep cats off the countertops. If they learn not to do it while you are looking you can be positive they are doing it while you are sleeping or gone.

      The only way to solve it is to become, as I have always been, an absolute and undying fanatic about cleaning. Soaked with vinegar paper towels all over, then drying, then washing them (with clean paper towels) with Dawn and the hottest water possible and air drying BEFORE I do any prepping or cooking. That way I am not always yelling at the cats to get down–a useless thing anyway since they have simply learned to wait “their” turn.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Alternatively, don’t put food directly on the countertop, but use things like bowls and cutting boards that are stored safely away from pets. (We keep the kitchen door closed so the cats can’t get in if we aren’t in there, but it’s still a lot easier to clean a cutting board than the counter.)

  10. anony*

    Re #1, in a work context I see the kiss emoji in the same category as the eggplant emoji, and I think it is as reasonable to ask/expect people not to use it as it is to expect them not to kiss you at work.

    1. Santiago*

      It’s odd to me to confound the eggplant (dick) with blowing a kiss. The kiss emoji is cultural – in some cultures people greet each other with a kiss! I think we need to ascribe good faith to the blowing a kiss emoji, lest everything must be perfectly sterile.

      1. Casper Lives*

        I agree. It’s hyperbolic to assign anything sexual to the kiss emoji when that’s not how it’s generally understood. I understand why it would make LW uncomfortable, and I don’t use it at work myself. But I’m not bothered when coworkers do.

        1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

          It’s about impact though, not intent. If it makes some people feel uncomfortable, and I am one of them, people should save it for the out of work communicaton.

          1. Santiago*

            Cultural tolerance is a two way street and requires us to process our own discomfort.

            I don’t use the emoji at work, and I think that it would be weird for me to do so, but there are so many sociolinguistic contexts where it is totally benign. (i.e., an older woman uses it at my work with her friends, or I’ve seen one of my coworkers who is gay use it as a react.)

            It’s not black and white, and I agree that we should try to accommodate each other. However, we also have to process our own internal discomfort and give others the benefit of the doubt if we want a workplace with diversity in culture, gender and personality.

            This is admittedly making a mountain out of a molehill, so I won’t belabor the point, but I do tend to feel that this idea of mutual accommodation in exchange is sometimes lost.

            1. kiki*

              I agree 100% I also think degree of discomfort matters a bit when talking about things like this. I don’t love a lot of the things my coworkers do or say. Sometimes they’re awkward or frustrating, but generally they’re just momentary blips on my radar. Asking them to stop everything that momentarily annoys me or makes me feel a little cringe would be ridiculous. To work on a team with other people who are from different cultures, I have to accept that sometimes things will feel a little awkward for me. Especially because there are certainly things I do that make them uncomfortable but seem super normal to me.

          2. Katie A*

            The “impact matters more than intent” idea doesn’t work equally well in every situation, and one of the ones where it doesn’t is with communication norms like this.

            You can certainly ask people not to use it with you, but you do have to ask. You can’t expect them to know not to use it with you when it’s a normal part of communication in this workplace. You also can’t really tell them not to use it with other people, even if it makes you uncomfortable when they do.

            You also have to pick your battles and think about how it will affect people to be asked not to use a generally unobjectionable emoji. It’s totally possible that the request would make some coworkers uncomfortable because they’d feel like it was sexualizing innocuous workplace communication.

            So yes, you can ask and people should respect it because that’s part of being a decent person. I’d only do it, though, if I couldn’t get over it after trying to ignore it or trying to internalize that it’s just a cartoon face that can mean a bunch of different things.

            1. Lana Kane*

              “Impact matters more than intent” – as I hear this phrase more often over the last few years, I find it gets used way too broadly. It is absolutely the case in some situations. But imo, in others it’s using a cudgel instead of a scalpel. The phrase carries a lot of implied meaning.

              Also, ignoring intent can make well-meaning people feel worse about a mistake than they might need to. There has to be a balance.

          3. nodramalama*

            But you can’t expect people to anticipate that a fairly common practice is going to randomly make someone uncomfortable

          4. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            If I had already expressed discomfort with someone using any of an array of often-sexual emoji or they seemed to be playing some kind of plausible deniability game, I would not waste my time on assuming further good faith. But unless there were other reasons, I might pause at “What do you mean when you use that emoji?” before heading straight to “I’m not comfortable using kissy emoji at work, please try to not use that with me.”

            Because while there are definitely co-workers where I wouldn’t blink at that, and while my first guess for the meaning is chef’s kiss amongst emoji-literate co-workers I have known, there are other past co-workers where I would metaphorically run screaming.

          5. Falling Diphthong*

            I’m finding this entire subthread fascinating, as someone who–if I ever used an eggplant emoji–would damn well mean “eggplant.”

            It’s a nice illustration of AAM’s point about how language evolves in ways that aren’t logical, and emojis are language.

            1. SarahKay*

              I only discovered that an eggplant emoji had a sexual meaning about 18 months ago.
              Fortunately, as it turns out, I had (and have) never used it… but if I had, it would certainly not have meant anything other than eggplant.

              1. Journey of man*

                Haha I just said to someone that I’d forgotten to look in produce category for the eggplant because I’ve never ever used it to mean eggplant.

              2. Llama face!*

                In case this info is helpful, the peach emoji also has a second meaning (think opposite of eggplant).

                1. SarahKay*

                  Ah, I found that out at the same time as the eggplant one, but I certainly appreciate the thought because (like the eggplant) it’s something I might well have used otherwise!

          6. Dinwar*

            The problem with this idea is that I don’t know what impact it’s going to have with you until I start interacting with you. The whole purpose of having social norms is to have a set of pre-determined standards for communication to facilitate such situations–I know that X, Y, and Z are generally going to be acceptable, and can adjust my communications as I learn more about how you work.

            Trouble is, norms are changing. It’s been going on for a while, but Covid–and more specifically, increased WFH, and thus increased use of electronic and text-based communications–accelerated that change. But the rate of change isn’t consistent. Some people are going back to the Before Times norms; some of us never changed; some of us have experienced radical changes in workplace norms. It’ll all shake out in a few years, but for now there’s simply no way to identify a priori how someone’s going to work.

            The best we can do in this situation is to act with grace. We each need to make a good-faith effort to understand what the other person is saying, and we need to forgive the occasional innocent error.

          7. Casper Lives*

            This is certainly one way to both weaponize and marginalize important language surrounding DEI issues. Equating a kissy emoji to a dick as impact over intent. Amazing.

          8. kiki*

            But intent does actually inform the impact to a certain degree here. My coworker putting kissy emojis on things because they are trying to communicate that they actually want to kiss me would make me feel wildly uncomfortable to a degree that is not acceptable at work. But in this case LW knows their coworkers aren’t actually trying to communicate that, they know their coworkers use the emoji in a different way than they do. So the impact still exists, but it’s smaller. Maybe enough to push back on, but perhaps not in the scheme of things.

            If my coworker sent me the eggplant emoji but I could tell they were just a confused gardener excited to share about their harvest, the impact on me is much different than getting a 3am eggplant that seems to be a come-on.

      2. lilsheba*

        I really hope the greeting with a kiss thing has died down by now, again COVID. Disease. No thanks.

    2. nodramalama*

      This seems like a very odd comparison. Number 1. for many culture kisses are not necessarily sexual in nature- they are a common greeting. 2. Most people would not intepret blowing a kiss emoji as actually wanting to kiss them. Most would likely see it like either a loveheart or a chef’s kiss. Unless you’re literally talking about vegetables, sex is the only way someone is going to intepret an eggplant emoji

      1. :fireworks:*

        I’m from one of these cultures where kissing is a common greeting and I really don’t like it, and that’s not that uncommon. It doesn’t have to be sexual to still be uncomfortable. I would not like kissing emojis at work.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      There’s also a whole host of “normal” emoticons that different generations use for sexting. My point is it’s pretty impossible to use emoticons and avoid accidentally using one that also has a second meaning. Just depends on your office culture, and in LW’s it appears kissy face means something different than making out. has a great list of them designed for parents trying to track conversations. I don’t think you can feasibly expect anyone to avoid all of them (taco, volcano, cat, peace sign, peach, corn, eggplant, hot dog, cherry, thinking face, eye, brain, tongue, ok hand, banana, fire, screwdriver, donut, pineapple, smirking, noodles, pointing hand, thinking face, snowflake, broccoli, maple leaf).

    4. Tulip Madness*

      That’s a little histrionic. If you look at the shape of the emoji itself, it’s clearly a chef’s kiss “MWAH!” kind of thing, not a kiss on the lips. It’s not analogous to a universally-understood phallic reference at all.

  11. Rel*

    Regarding letter one, there could be a cultural difference – there is a British thing of ending messages with an “x” kiss “as a way of implying you are being friendly, not formal.” (to quote Britainexplained dot com). Continuing to quote that website: “it is unusual to see the ‘x’ in business emails, unless people know each other well” but it is intended to convey “warmth and emotion”. I can see how someone might consider an “x” and the emoji interchangeable (as my own mum does in texts to me, actually).

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      I was once dating an American guy and sent him text ending in xxx
      Total crossed wires ‍♀️

      1. Dust Bunny*

        See, I’m American and I would just have interpreted this as you intended it. It’s not actually unknown in the US, it’s just mostly passed out of usage. Unless there was an established pattern of unwanted flirting already, it wouldn’t stand out to me as odd/unprofessional.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Haha I automatically do this in all my texts to my kids’ friends parents to arrange playdates and then overthink it if I’m messaging someone’s dad.

      1. Tulip Madness*

        Lol reminds me of the Always Sunny episode with the Nightman play- “Don’t SAY stage freeze, just do it!”

    3. londonedit*

      Yep, definitely. I said above that it’s very common here to sign off a message on birthday/leaving cards at work with ‘x’ or ‘xx’ – it’s just friendly. I think it might be slightly more of a female thing, but I have male friends who end all their messages to everyone with ‘x’ too. It’s less usual in business emails – I wouldn’t use it in most cases, but there are definitely colleagues I work with a lot where we end our emails to each other with ‘[Name] x’ because it’s just a way of being friendly. Absolutely nothing romantic is meant or inferred at all.

    4. Beebis*

      I saw one British YouTuber say she didn’t realize Americans don’t do the kiss thing at the end of things when she first became friends with some of us and thought they were mad at her

    5. Ms. Norbury*

      Yeah, I admit that question gave me a bit of culture shock. I come from a place on earth in which kissing people on the cheek is a regular and appropriate greeting for many situations, and something I do frequently with coworkers with who I have a friendly reationship. Most of my team’s internal emails are signed off with “kiss”, including my boss’s, and I’ve used the kissing emoji many times when using our internal chat.

      In the end, I feel Alison’s answer acknowledges that there’s a cultural difference, it’s just that in this case the difference in between the company’s communication culture and LW’s. I guess it just shows that sometimes the answer for “is this appropriate” needs to be “it depends”.

    6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Adding to other comments, I’m British and would caution that use of x as a friendly sign-off does have associations with sex and gender.

      Where I live (NW England, most people fairly woke) it’s commonplace for any two women to use x as punctuation, even if strangers eg online marketplace, or both commenting on local news, and completely unremarkable between a woman and any member of her family.

      But I would never put x on the end of a message to an unrelated man, and I would be startled to receive one from an adult man, even if he were a friend. It’s not like sending eggplant/taco emoji but more like sending redheart.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I see that londonedit has a weaker connection between gender and x-use but I seem to recall she moves in trendier circles!

        1. londonedit*

          Well thank you :D

          I’m not sure my connection is all that weaker – I wouldn’t use ‘x’ as a sign-off in the majority of business communication, only with close colleagues and mainly only with female colleagues (and not with my boss). But publishing is fairly casual and very female-dominated, so that might skew things. With my friends, definitely, loads of ‘xxx’ flying around! But I wouldn’t use ‘x’ or any number of ‘xxx’ with unrelated men and would definitely find it odd if a man I wasn’t close friends with signed off a message with ‘x’ if I hadn’t done so first.

          1. bamcheeks*

            My grey area is dads of my kids’ friends. “Hi! Anne wants to know if Diana is free to play today? x” is fine to Diana’s mum but C&Ping the same message to Diana’s dad and pointedly removing the “x” feels super weird, and so does leaving it in.

    7. Tulip Madness*

      Yeah, Americans know the x for kiss and o for hug thing, but we pretty much only encounter them as little kids in like an elementary school Valentine’s context. Using them to end a text is very much a British thing.

      (Love the Mitchell and Web sketch about this!)

  12. Daria grace*

    #2. These things happen. There’s a reasonable chance the person reading it didn’t even notice, it’s weird how our brains fill in elements of text that aren’t exactly what’s there. It’s understandable you’re stressed though. When I last applied for jobs saying I had good attention to detail terrified me because I knew that was just tempting mistakes to hide out in the document

    1. Venus*

      If I noticed it right away (like within the day) then I’d be tempted to correct it, and resend it with a note explaining that I’d noticed a reoccuring typo and was sending a corrected version. I don’t know if it would completely fix the company’s view of me, but I think it would be better than not doing anything. It would show that I know how to fix my mistakes quickly and in a reasonable way.

    2. samwise*

      I’ve had candidates submit a letter to a completely different employer — eh, I know people are looking at more than just our opening, and that brain farts happen. I just alert the candidate that their letter has a substantial error, and if they want to fix it, to get in touch with HR.

      Unless the whole application is a total mess, I don’t let it be strike against them.

  13. DottedZebra*

    Potlucks: Zero chance of me eating at them ever again after learning through the pandemic how cavalier people are about hygiene. It was like people had never heard that they should wash their hands before.

    Also because of all the videos of people petting their cats while cooking, letting their cats walk on kitchen counters and tables or be near food. Ew.

    1. Swan*

      Or all those videos of people cooking by *checks notes* pouring stuff directly on their countertop.

      And I don’t mean as in “to make dough” or something, just stuff like spaghetti bolognese.

      I realise those are made for clicks but you just know there are people who do that for real.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I’m sorry, they what now? I’m not easily grossed out and generally don’t have a problem with food touching (clean!) countertops, but that just seems unpractical AND like a real hassle to clean up for no good reason.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          It’s rage bait, and probably fetish content as well. (Usually attractive white women getting messy…) I don’t think most people actually cook like that.

          1. Czhorat*

            Yeah. A guy by the name Richard Lax was behind a bunch of them, but I’m sure there’ve been imitators. It’s one hundred percent people doing a bit and absolutely never how people actually think they should cook.

    2. Lunita*

      I know people love their cats but those videos gross me out so much. Any animal on a kitchen counter or table is nasty.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        My cat walks on the counter. I cannot keep her off completely. When I cook for my household, I sanitize the counter and she is distracted with her favorite toys behind a closed door. If I’m bringing food elsewhere to share, I’m bringing store bought.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I have yet to figure out how to keep a cat off a counter, but when I cook, I keep the cat away, I wash my hands frequently, and I do all food prep on a clean cutting board (which lives in the cupboard and the cat never gets near it). The food never touches the counter.

            1. londonedit*

              Yep. My mum is the cleanest and tidiest person I know, and my parents’ house is spotless. We had cats when I was growing up, and no, you couldn’t keep them off the kitchen surfaces. But my mum wiped the worktops before she started cooking, washed her hands, used clean chopping boards that the cats couldn’t sit on/get at, and didn’t put food directly on to the kitchen work surfaces. Cats don’t automatically mean poor hygiene – if someone’s kitchen is unhygienic it’ll be unhygienic with or without a cat.

              1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

                This. If you have cats, you clean before you start cooking. And frankly, even if you don’t have cats, you should be washing your hands and wiping down your counters before you cook–everyone touches all kinds of stuff and sets all kinds of stuff down on the counter that you would not want then touching your food. Keys, purses/wallets, reusable grocery bags that have been sitting on grocery carts/car trunks/grocery counters, etc..

      2. I Have RBF*

        LOL! You obviously don’t have cats.

        My spouse and I’s cats stayed off the counters. My roommate’s cat, OTOH, does not. We have to hide bread in the microwave to thaw it. When we’re cooking something big we shut her in her room, then clean before cooking.

        We also use cutting boards and mats on our counters, and they are stored vertically after washing, so they don’t get contaminated.

        Having a pet means extra cleaning in general.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Same. I learned a lot of things about people thanks to the pandemic that I was actually happier not knowing.

    4. lilsheba*

      Yeah I don’t do any of that, my cat is good and stays off the counters. But yeah eewwww! Also with diseases spreading around it’s just not wise.

  14. musical chairs*

    I don’t use that specific kiss emoji in even my most loving, effusive platonic friendships, so I’m sure as shit not sending that to anyone at work. For me, that one’s only for people I’d kiss in real life. But maybe others don’t see it that way.

    Like, I’m really trying, but I can’t get myself to understand it as anything else! I imagine sending that emoji to a direct report, for example, would be digital equivalent of a peck on the forehead for a job well done lol. I’ve never received it either, so it seems like it’s a very workplace-specific situation.

    Now I’m curious about two things, a) why no one has ever saw it fit to tell me I’m a beautiful princess who is trying her best at work and deserves a kiss on the forehead and b) what other emojis have this kind of stark, split response to them?

    1. nodramalama*

      i think you’re taking the kiss emoji too literally. A lot of people probably don’t think of it as a peck on the forehead anymore than theyd think a loveheart is a sign that they love them.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The inverse would be that maybe people using some of these emojis are not taking them literally enough.

        1. Pescadero*

          Language just works on group consensus though – so there is no “right” or “wrong” amount of literalness… there is just what is normal/common.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        i think you’re taking the kiss emoji too literally.

        I agree. Think of the other example emojis in the question. Does seeing “baguette” and “wine glass” reacts make you think “these people are looking forward to eating baguettes and drinking wine with the famous French llama groomer” (to take the emojis literally)? Or do you interpret them as “these people are expressing generic positive emotions with vaguely French-related emojis” (to take the emojis figuratively)?

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Honestly I found the baguette/wine/croissant emoji idea kind of odd. I guess because it’s so reductive to reduce a colleague/contact to “the French one” rather than “J-P who knows all about llama coats and is great at dealing with hooves”.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, I think if, say, a friend sent a message saying ‘Booked train to Paris, woo hoo!’ in a group chat then we’d all respond with a load of French flags and wine and croissants and baguettes and cheese. Not sure I’d do it in response to hearing the news that a French colleague was visiting! Too much risk, like many things in Britain, of it coming across like you’re taking the piss.

          2. These commenters have lost their minds*

            How do you people exist in the real world. I think half of you have actually lost your minds. No one can do anything without you being offended for them. wine and bread offensive gtfoh

            1. Czhorat*

              Some of us attempt to be thoughtful and understand the unintended as well as intentional messages we are sending. We understand that language is complicated, and can be especially so when you include people of different backgrounds.

              I find value in discussing the best and most inclusive way to communicate, and examining what messages I may be sending that I don’t intend.

              That’s also more *interesting* than throwing up ones hands and saying “who cares! It’s just an emoji!”

            2. philmar*

              lmao I work with a very international group and we are always making jokes about things like Spanish guys taking siesta, pineapple on pizza offending Italians, Germans needing a lot of paperwork etc. Everyone is aware of their national stereotypes and leans into them when it would be funny.

          3. Hendry*

            I don’t know if it’s reductive or not but I’d rather be known as the person bringing bread and wine !

        2. Emmy Noether*

          I don’t know about y’all, but I’m always looking forward to baguette and wine and often ask people coming from France to bring some, so that would not seem *that* weird to me.

        3. musical chairs*

          …wow, what a condescending response to an innocuous comment!

          Anyway, just from reading the other comments, many people have mixed reactions to that particular one, which leads me to believe that the way it’s understood can considered be somewhat regional or loosely localized.

          For reference (and I understand anecdotes are not data), I’m not arriving at a meaning for it in a vacuum: I’m in my thirties, live in a major city/ have diverse friend groups/I work for a large company and communicated via instant messaging software for over a decade (i.e., I’m not an outlier when it comes to text communication) and I’ve never encountered someone using it to means “chef’s kiss”. Doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it does mean it’s entirely possible to have not encountered that definition.

          But now from this thread, I sort of (sort of!) see how someone can get that from it It’s one of the recommendations on my phone if I manually type “chef’s kiss”. It also comes up as a recommendation when I just type “kiss”, so it stands to reason that my experience is just as likely to be representative as anyone else’s!

          1. Hlao-roo*

            I apologize, I did not mean for my comment to be condescending. I was conflating your comment and the letter when I was writing my comment. In the context of the LW’s workplace (which is very emoji-happy), I think interpreting the kiss emoji as “forehead peck for a job well-done” is too literal. But in other contexts (sounds like your work and social circles, and my workplace too fwiw), it’s not used for a generic “good job/positive feelings.”

            And yes, it has been good for me to read all the comments here and realize/remember that emoji meanings aren’t universal!

    2. amoeba*

      Ha, well, hereabouts cheek (air) kisses are a common form of greeting – not at work, at least not in my workplace, but definitely in social circles, even with strangers you’re just being introduced to. So “people I’d actually kiss” would include… pretty much anybody…

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        I was in chile recently and noticed that coworkers greeted each other with a literal kiss on the cheek — saw it in stores, restaurants, hotels and the airport. It was the equivalent of saying « good morning «  or « this is the first time I’ve seen you today. » I was thinking about how bonkers that would be in most North American contexts except maybe some places in Quebec.

      2. musical chairs*

        Genuinely curious, since greeting with a kiss is part of your culture, do you greet with a kiss using an emoji when texting? I find the way cultural differences impact language interpretation to be super interesting!!!

    3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Someone above sees it as “chef’s kiss” and someone else as “blowing a kiss”, both of which I would do for real at work with someone I was close to and knew there was a solid zero percent chance it would land wrong or be misinterpreted.

      I also would never use the kissy face emoji at work, though!

      1. bamcheeks*

        I definitely see it as blowing a kiss, and I’ve had work colleagues where “mwah!” or miming blowing a kiss would be a perfectly normal reaction.

    4. Gracie*

      Just look at the response that was had in the comments when someone took issue with a younger report using the “face with steam” emoji…

      The official name in many places is :triumph: because of standard Japanese visual shorthand, a lot of people (myself included) use it for “hard work, nose to the grindstone, on that task asap boss”, and the person who took offence saw it as a face of annoyance and was shocked that anyone would use it at work. A lot of commenters were trying to explain that it was almost certainly not meant as annoyance and citing all the reasons we would use it; other commenters were insisting that there’s no way this meant anything other than “so annoyed/furious I’m about to explode”

    5. Florence Reese*

      The image of a boss leaning in to plant a quick forehead kiss is killing me lmao. I think it’s only tolerable because I’m picturing the boss as Alex Horne, looking deeply unsettled, performing a kiss at the request of a struggling Taskmaster contestant.

      Anyway, similar to you, I’ve only used the kiss emoji for romantic partners. I think my best friend has maybe sent it to me a few times in the ~15 years since it premiered. I don’t see it as a literal kiss necessarily, but it’s associated with very warm, close relationships in my mind. While those can be platonic that’s not exactly how I view my work buddies. I would never use that at work, personally.

      However, I do have colleagues who I wouldn’t bat an eye about receiving a kiss emoji from because I already know that *they’re* effusive, social people. That group is mostly women but does include a man who is similarly warm and friendly, so IMO it’s more about the individual context. A warm emoji from someone who is normally more formal will come off very weird. A warm emoji from someone who’s always warm is like…yup, that’s who this person is, that’s how they are every day! I can see how that’s still uncomfortable for some folks to receive, but those are very different use cases in my perspective.

      (I think another emoji with a strongly split response is the thumbs up. Is it nice or is it passive-aggressive? the debate rages on)

      1. musical chairs*

        Ooh thumbs up is a good one! I never send an actual thumbs up emoji unless I’m actively trying to be a dick. I’ll use words the text reaction to convey whatever approval or acknowledgment I sincerely mean. That said, my boss sends the actual thumbs up and means it literally. Took me by surprise the first time. He also uses periods at the end of all his sentences over text and I have to remind myself constantly that I’m not getting fired and he doesn’t hate me lol. Nicest man you’ll ever meet, and in all fairness is using text communication completely as intended in both cases!

    6. Generic Name*

      To answer question b, apparently the emoji with jets of air blowing out of the nostrils seems to be interpreted as “working hard” or “angrily huffing”.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        That emoji showed up in a previous letter here! The letter-writer interpreted face-with-steam as “angrily huffing” and the employee who used it meant it as “working hard” (cleared up in the update).

        The letter is “my younger employee doesn’t know professional norms” from August 1, 2022 and the update was posted November 29, 2022.

    7. NaoNao*

      The “air through nostrils” emoji can mean “frustration” or I’ve seen some people interpret it as a “huffing and puffing to get it done in a sports way” type thing. I’ve also seen some people interpret the “laugh crying” emoji as just crying but that tends to be less techy type.

    8. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      The curse of emojis is that a picture is worth a thousand words, so anything beyond your basic smile emoji is probably never going to be as clear cut in meaning as we would like.

  15. LoV...*

    LW1: I mean, Allison is probably right on this, but I’d be weirded out to get a kissy face emoji from a coworker.

  16. Awkwardness*

    I love the answer on #3 as my first thought, when reading the title, was also “Haha… no”

    1. Shirley Keeldar*

      Seriously—LW #3, don’t, y’ know, actually reply to your boss with, “Haha, nice try,” but feel free to think it.

    2. Miette*

      The response above makes sense in most contexts, but something OP says in it gave me pause. They say they’re moving “for the summer,” so does that mean they’ll return and, at some point, want to work at this place again? Would the answer be the same if OP is hoping to leave on a note of good will?

      1. Maisonneuve*

        Yeah, after the person quits, they’re not their shifts to be covered, just open shifts. Gee!

  17. Decidedly Me*

    LW2 – when people misspell our company name in their cover letter it’s a point against them, but never an outright rejection. One of our top people made this mistake and clearly all worked out well for them, so I don’t think you need to assume this job is out of the question over the error.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      A lot of companies have names that just aren’t easy to spell. I work with a few life sciences start-ups in my role (several of which have very similar names) and I’m always having to check that I got it right.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Or there’s the finance company Abrdn, which used to be called Aberdeen, but they changed the name for some reason.

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            Trying to look less Scottish, presumably, but really, who better than an Aberdonian to look after your money carefully?

        1. Future*

          Ha! I learned about that this week, via an article on the BBC about how some high muckity muck at the company was saying it wasn’t okay to make fun of the new company name because it was the same as making fun of a person’s name. Which was so out of touch and missing the point of why we don’t make fun of people’s names that it just kind of makes me want to make fun of it more, so I will point out that it looks like a typo for Airbnb. It’s so bad. Are we sure Elon Musk didn’t name it?

      2. bamcheeks*

        Yes! All those corporate names that are made up to be linguistically neutral, so they have no obvious cognates, and it’s super hard to remember whether it’s on L or two!

        1. Broken Lawn Chair*

          It can also be a trademark issue. Unique names are easier to trademark than existing words.

        2. AFac*

          Even worse if it’s the same as an actual person-name with many spelling variations. Is it ‘Allen’, ‘Alan’, ‘Allan’, or ‘Alen’?

  18. anon_sighing*

    Sometimes a letter produces a response that makes my social anxiety act up because I sincerely cannot see the problem and others do. If someone sends a kiss emoji or a heart emoji, particularly in this context, I would just glaze over it and not think twice. It’s just an emoji…? At work, no less, and in a public chat. And there’s no reason to think someone’s trying to harass you — if so, then that’s a bigger issue. Why would you take it as anything other than an effuse “I like that!” or (how I’d read it) a more cheeky version of a regular smiley, trying to show playfulness? It does not remotely have the same sexual connotation as an eggplant emoji or a peach emoji…there is no other reason why someone would send you those unless they were in inappropriate territory. (Personally, I hate the regular smile emoji on Teams and use the “blush” one instead, which Outlook now defaults to when you do a smiley…as it should!)

    I don’t consider myself a prude, but I do find myself being more on the shy side about things like this in my personal life…but I may be more open than I thought because when I receive things like this from friends or acquiescence or even people online, I don’t think they actually want to kiss me or are flirting. It’s just their style.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t think most people think that deeply about the emojis their colleagues use, unless it’s something truly inappropriate. However, some of the letters here have definitely made me worry about things that I would have never thought anyone would ever notice, much less care about enough about to write into an advice column! I will never again adjust my glasses at work without thinking of the person who thought their colleague was flipping them off when they adjusted their glasses.

      Reading this column is a really good reminder that we often incorrectly ascribe malice to miniscule things that people do without even thinking about them. And that others have no doubt incorrectly ascribed malice to our own miniscule actions, too.

      1. anon_sighing*

        > I will never again adjust my glasses at work without thinking of the person who thought their colleague was flipping them off when they adjusted their glasses.

        Omg, this is horrifying (also mainly because it sounds like a Seinfeld plot for George, where a coworker is giving him the cold shoulder and things unravel from there to this conclusion).

        Very true about incorrectly ascribe malice to miniscule things. Many issues people write in about are communication issues (or flat out bad management). In this case, I guess I can see why someone would be uncomfy but they can just say as much if they can’t ignore it. No one knows your emoji lines unless you say them.

      2. :fireworks:*

        Where are you all getting malice from? LW mentioned finding it odd. You can find things odd or even inappropriate without necessarily ascribing malice.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I was talking in a more general sense in the final paragraph, not specifically about the emoji issue. But with the other letter to which I referred – I do think that concluding that your coworker is intentionally flipping you off simply because they used their middle finger to adjust their glasses is ascribing malice where none exists.

      3. ecnaseener*

        The thing is, you don’t have to “think that deeply” about the emoji to be weirded out by it — it’s an immediate “whoa, intimate/gross” reaction for me, not something I’m sitting there puzzling out.

        Of course, after that first reaction, when my rational brain kicks in and I *do* think about it, I always conclude that the person sending it must not have meant it the way I took it, they were just trying to convey a general warm tone. So it’s fine, it’s just not my preference.

      4. PhyllisB*

        What in the world is sexual about a peach emoji? All my life I’ve heard the comment “you’re a real peach” to mean something like you’re the greatest. Occasionally used sarcastically, but never sexually!!

        1. Ferret*

          Essentially, because emojis don’t include rude options people have found substitutes – aubergine and peach being the most common but others have a range of meanings depending on context. Pretty much everyone will know what you mean based on what they know about you so I wouldn’t worry about it.

          This sort of thing is one of the reasons NewSpeak wouldn’t actually work – no matter what constraints you setup a system with, Communication…… finds a way

        2. Dinwar*

          It’s an ancient concept. Cloven fruit and all that. There was a whole system for polite food fights in the Middle Ages, where you’d ask servers to pass bits of food with messages to other diners, that included this–it’s one way you’d set up a tryst in the middle of a crowded feast hall. Or start a duel in a way that wouldn’t upset the ladies of the court. Or, as my wife did once, you can do both at the same time. It was a versatile system.

          It’s amusing to see it resurging. It’s one line of evidence showing that people are people.

          If you want to see this sort of thing taken to extremes, look up Charles Linnaeus’ anatomical drawings of clams! Extremely useful in classifying bivalve mollusks. But rather difficult to explain to one’s mother, if you get my meaning….

          1. bamcheeks*

            … your wife started a duel through the medium of food ordering? C’mon, you can’t just drop something like that…

      5. Lana Kane*

        “Reading this column is a really good reminder that we often incorrectly ascribe malice to miniscule things that people do without even thinking about them. And that others have no doubt incorrectly ascribed malice to our own miniscule actions, too.”

        I find I need to take breaks from reading here, especially the comments. I’ll be happily trudging along life until I read that some simple thing I’ve probably done before is making people irate. And then the anxiety kicks in!

        1. Filosofickle*

          There are definitely letters I’ve learned to skip comments on — especially those about talkative coworkers — because they will supercharge my social anxiety.

    2. nodramalama*

      I’m the same but i suspect its because of how much emojis are now used as the go to react on social media and now on teams/slack etc. Most people who use them a lot probably are just not thinking deeply about them at all.

    3. amoeba*

      I mean, I might find it weird if a guy who doesn’t usually use a lot of emojis and who I’m not particularly friendly with at work used it. Like in an “ugh, is he trying to flirt?” kind of way. But work friends? Eh, absolutely fine.

    4. Bay*

      I agree that it doesn’t have the same feel as the eggplant or peach, but this comment section has made me realize I fall in the ‘makes me uncomfortable’ category, and I think it’s because I personally dislike kissing as a gesture– as a greeting, or a sign of affection from anyone outside of my very closest people, or even the chef’s kiss. So seeing it in emoji reminds me of all the times that someone’s love of kissy put my shoulders up. I use it literally to convey ‘i would kiss you’ and like it for that use. But it’s helpful for me to hear other perspectives so I can recognize that I’m unusually uptight about this one. Carry on thinking nothing of it, I say!

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I love how eggplant and peach–two common foods I cook with–are being tossed down (throughout this thread, not just in this post) as obviously sexual emojis that can only mean sexual things.

      (Personally I associate the kiss emoji with a troll on a different forum. Thought he was so clever and that everyone loved him, and had to constantly change his name because he discovered people had him blocked and how could they see his latest cleverness if they had him on ignore?)

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I’m aware of the sexual meanings of the aubergine, peach and splash emojis in context, but the way people are throwing them around as “this is quite clearly obscene” is making me feel terribly Gen X.

      2. Kyrielle*

        I mean, I adore the foods eggplant and peach, but in what messaging situation would I want to use an emoji of either them *as* a food? If I’m talking about food I’m just going to type the name, and as a reaction or by itself it makes no sense – unless it’s the sexual interpretation. Or *maybe* for peaches, “you’re a peach” – I could imagine someone using it that way innocently – but “eggplant” is not an image/concept I have ever considered useful as an emoji. (Then again, that’s true of most of the food ones. I only like carrot because I can pair it with a car emoji to make jokes about “auto carrot” having changed my message.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Every time I have typed the word “shirt” in a text, I have wanted the word “shirt” there. And every time, my phone is like “Do you want a picture of a shirt here?!!!”

          I don’t know any metaphorical meanings of “shirt emoji.”

    6. Tea*

      “Sometimes a letter produces a response that makes my social anxiety act up because I sincerely cannot see the problem and others do.”

      I hear you (social anxiety twins, yay!) but I also think that a large portion of commentators maybe tend to generally see “problems” that aren’t actually there and the emoji letter is a perfect example. So in this instance, I don’t actually think there’s a problem that you’re missing that somehow “everyone” else can see (although God knows I know that feeling all too well!)

      The emoji is fine. If I didn’t know any better I’d wonder if the LW was a refugee from an early Toast-dot-net Slack community that imploded because of people freaking out over the “kissing cat” emoji.

      1. Managing While Female*

        This is absolutely true. I also tend to have my anxiety flare on some of these topics when something seems innocuous to me but others in the comments are losing their minds over it. The kiss emoji at work, to me, is a bit weird, but is generally one that I would like to roll off my back. I think most people let things that strike them as odd just roll off their back, but there are some (I have a sister who is one) who see offenses everywhere, and often just assume negative intent. Not a day goes by when something someone says off-hand or a way someone responds (or not) gets my sister in a tizzy, and she needs to be talked down from her outrage. These people tend to be pretty miserable people, too, and I’ve learned to filter them out as outliers, especially on the internet where a lot of them go to release strong emotions (that may or may not actually relate to the topic at hand).

        1. Tea*

          “ but there are some (I have a sister who is one) who see offenses everywhere, and often just assume negative intent.”

          Yes yes yes! I know peeps like that too lol.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      Consider that people who feel strongly about something are more likely to comment than those who don’t.

      So it might seems like a lot of people see a problem, but it’s often just a vocal minority. You don’t hear the opposing view because they don’t consider it important enough to be worth commenting on.

    8. Generic Name*

      I don’t recall seeing anyone use the kiss emoji at work, but the only people who I’ve seen use the kiss emoji in my personal life are my mom (who is in her mid-70s) and a guy I briefly dated who was massively lovebombing me.

    9. samwise*

      Yeah, the only emojis I think absolutely should not be used are puke and poop. Because they’re rude and truly unprofessional.

      And I guess also my favorite emoji, the eyeroll.

      Anything else — I don’t really pay attention to.

    10. Jackalope*

      I’ve been laughing at this chat (all of them talking about emojis, not just your post) because it took YEARS for me to discover that the eggplant emoji was considered NSFW and why. But then again, I’ve used it pretty much exclusively with my housemate during the regular “What’s for dinner?” chats, so there’s that. (We are both very fond of certain eggplant dishes so this is a topic more often than it would be for most people.)

    11. K8T*

      People here loveeee to catastrophize every interaction someone has at work so I wouldn’t put much weight into clearly innocuous items that they’ve chosen to be mad about. If you want a laugh try reading the comments on any letters about small talk.

  19. Volunteer Enforcer*

    OP1, I think it depends on the team culture. I regularly have text chats with a work friend in our spare time, she uses the kiss emoji alot. In email she never uses it. The most I see is an occasional x if the email topic is really informal.

  20. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I disagree on the kissing emoji. It would make me feel uncomfortable.

    1. Tulip Madness*

      That’s your personal preference, though. You need to factor in the general cultural norms around it in order to interpret other people’s communication. You don’t have to use it, but you now know it’s not creepy or inappropriate when other people use it.

  21. Why, yes, people say I'm silly. How did you know?*

    LW 2, when I’ve written someone’s name or company name incorrectly, I’ve sometimes followed up with an email along the lines of: “Yikes, I just realized I spelled your name wrong! In return, I invite you to call me any name you wish.”

    1. Panda (she/her)*

      Haha I once got to witness a hilarious exchange between two coworkers who both had fairly common names but spelled differently from the common spelling, one of which was a cantankerous woman “Karyn” who wasn’t afraid to call people out on their bullshit, and a man “Jon” who didn’t care what people thought of him. So Karyn sends an email that starts with “Hi John…”, (misspelling his name) and he responds “Hi Karen” (purposely misspelling her name to make a point) and when she emailed him back to team him out about misspelling her name, he just responded “look at your email. You misspelled mine first.”

      I really didn’t like this woman (she was known for being opinionated and going after people who disagreed) so this was *kissy emoji* (chef’s kiss).

    2. Shorty Spice*

      I just had that happen this week! Someone named Hanna sent me a teams message and I responded spelling it Hana*. I corrected it right away, apologized and said “you are now entitled to one (1) misspelling of my [rather unusual and frequently misspelled] name at the time of your choosing”, which seemed to smooth over any offense (real or imagined). (No kissy emoji, but I did get a laugh reaction).

      *in my defence, my husband has been obsessed with a YouTube channel featuring two domesticated otters, one of whom is named Hana. In an uncharacteristically non-awkward decision, I did NOT share this fact with Hanna.

  22. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 I’ve always worked at very relaxed employers – e.g. never had a clothing code – but I never once saw the kiss emoji at work.
    I wonder if that’s because my field is 95% male and it’s an emoji that women rather than men use?
    We’d have used the thumbs up or fistbump emoji instead.

    #5 Requires the vomit emoji.
    Dear goddess.
    I’m SOOO thankful none of my workplaces ever had a potluck.

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      “I wonder if that’s because my field is 95% male and it’s an emoji that women rather than men use?”
      This is possible. My field is ~95% male as well, so my male coworkers hardly ever use emoji’s, maybe a thumbs up or laughing emoji, but nothing else. So if one of them were do send the kissing emoji to me, it would make me very uncomfortable.

    2. Peon*

      re #1 We’ve taken to using a dinosaur emoji to express the highest levels of approval/happiness/whatever. It makes me so happy.

  23. GrumpyPenguin*

    To be honest, using emojis in a work context seems so weird to me, I wouldn’t do it. But I tend to be rather formal, both at work and in private. Maybe I’m already too old for that.

    1. Awkwardness*

      I do not this this has anything to do with age. I rarely use emojis, and if so, to indicate my face expression. But I know at least two people (one in their 20s, one in their 60s) who use an amount of emojis I would never dream of. I sometimes even struggle to see the connection between the emoji and the sentence in which it was used. But I guess for them it makes sense. It really is about personal style and not everything is always logical

        1. GrumpyPenguin*

          You didn’t think and neither did the autocorrect function. :)
          I use smileys when I want to show my facial expression , but rarely and I tend to have a straightforward way of communication. Too many emojis combined with abbrevations interrupt my reading flow – my mother writes like that and I often simply don’t get it. So yes, not really a generational problem.

      1. nodramalama*

        i don’t know if its age but I think there is definitely a correlation between how you use social media and how you use emojis, because that is the main form of reacting

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          Using forums like Slack as business tools is driving up workplace emoji use, I think, particularly when you want to acknowledge or co-sign someone’s message without being the first “yes boss” / “thanks” / “me too” in a reply-all storm. Checkmarks and 100s were typical before I bounced.

          Though it was a very weird day when my teammates discovered the Slack party parrot.

          1. londonedit*

            Yes – I’m in my 40s and had never used emojis at work until we started WFH and moved over to Teams. Now I use the emoji reactions all the time to respond to messages that need an acknowledgement, but don’t necessarily need a reply. I have a friendly and very good working relationship with my boss, but not one where I’d use a ‘kiss’ emoji to respond to a message from them – but there are definitely other colleagues where I can imagine responding to a message with a ‘kiss’ or a heart or whatever.

        2. Cat Tree*

          I don’t really use social media at all, but I agree that emojis are used for reactions and I love them for that. We use Teams a lot, and a thumbs-up is perfect to respond that I got the message and appreciate it, rather than typing out, “thanks, got it”. I don’t really use emojis in email.

    2. mreasy*

      I think if your workplace uses Slack it’s a different ballgame, since emojis are the built in way to respond to things.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I also never use emojis at work, and virtually never receive them.

      “Thump up emoji” = “Okay/got it, thanks” email reply.

      All other emojis have much more shaded meanings, and you don’t have the visual cues of in-person interaction to do that shading, so I’m not surprised they are being read in wildly differing ways over the course of the thread.

      (I type this as a “What a fascinating evolution of language rabbit hole I did not expect to go down this morning.”)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And upthread I see that the thumbs up emoji now is seen in some spaces as a sarcastic “wow aren’t you great” comeback.

        Like the period at the end of a text came to be seen as tapping a foot in irritation.

    4. Phony Genius*

      Where I work, I have never seen anybody use emojis, including new employees just out of school. I hope it stays that way.

    5. Not Totally Subclinical*

      There are a handful of people who I’ll use emojis with at work, but it’s always people who’ve used emojis in their email to me first. Even there, most of the time I’m using one because Outlook will autocorrect :-) to a smiling emoji.

    6. Peon*

      Emoticons now abound in my remote/hybrid work environment, partly thanks to slack. We’ve added our own to represent things like “not my circus” and “I’m investigating”

  24. The Gnome*

    Look on the bright side, LW2; at least you didn’t audibly fart in the middle of the interview!

    (Yes, I did. Yes, the interviewers noticed; their facial expressions said it all. No, college-age Gnome did NOT land that particular internship.)

    1. anon_sighing*

      I wish I could use an emoji here in the comments because I am so sorry! *laughs* As a college age anon, I would not have sighed – I would have cried, lol.

      1. The Gnome*

        I legitimately walked to the area where my grandfather had agreed to pick me up at afterwards (bus stop was not feasible at that location and I lived in the same city as my maternal grandparents when I was in college) crying at the time. Did not tell him WHY I was sure that I didn’t get the job, but he knew the interview had gone badly.

        It’s been nearly 16 years and I’m still a bit embarrassed, even though I can laugh about it now. XD

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      After that kind of embarassing experience, it can help to think that some day you’ll be able to look back on this and share a laugh. As now.

      1. The Gnome*

        I’m currently sat in one of the chairs in the living room, laughing about it with my mother (moved in to take care of her post-emergency open heart surgery last year and she’s a damn good roommate too lol), who was hearing the story for the first time. XD

  25. nodramalama*

    LW2 I, like most people, use a template cover letter and once I submitted a cover letter referring to the wrong company many times. Unsurprisingly i did not get an interview. This kind of stuff happens a lot when youre applying for a lot of jobs. Try not to sweat it too much

    1. amoeba*

      That reminds me of my old PI who once submitted a paper to a prestigious journal without changing the name from the slightly even more prestigious journal he had tried before and been rejected… so it was literally “Dear Journal of Llama grooming team” when submitting to “Llama science”.

      Needless to say, he got rejected (because scientists are petty like that) – I’m sure the student main author was really upset!

    2. ecnaseener*

      Reminds me of a joke the campus tour guide made when I visited Brown in high school — he was giving tips on the admissions essay and said “be sure to proofread, and remember, Brown is not spelled Y-A-L-E.”

    3. Rebecca*

      I once used the wrong company name, and I did get an interview! Nobody even mentioned it.

    1. Morning Reading*

      I land here too. I’m not an emoji user in general, partly because I don’t really know what they mean. How are you supposed to figure out that means “kiss.” And then to interpret what kind of kiss it implies? (I only recently figured out that X O X means kisses and hugs at the of a letter, and maybe sometimes also an asterisk does?)
      If I did use emojis I can see how I might use the wrong one. This one just looks like a cute version of a smiley.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Maybe it renders differently on different systems? On both Apple and Microsoft, it has lips puckered, not smiling — it could only be a kiss (or perhaps an “I ate something too sour” face, but there’s a little heart in front to rule that out!)

    1. I Have RBF*


      “Dear Soon to be Ex-Boss,

      With regard to your request that I find people to cover shifts after I stop working for you, I refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell Vs Pressdram. Have a nice day.”

  26. Andromeda*

    I feel a bit weird about the kiss emoji too! (though someone above suggested it’s like a “chef’s kiss”, which makes it a bit less weird). I’m an effusive emoji user on Slack — my default smile is the :D one — but I can’t help but imagine the kiss emoji as “imagine me kissing you on the cheek [in a friendly way but it’s still A Lot]”. I use hearts very rarely, and usually to demonstrate specifically personal support/sympathy. Funny that I never noticed that till now!

    (also, LW1, I can’t remember if you said you used Slack but you can make your own emoji.)

  27. Airway*

    LW4, consider your friend’s situation before deciding how to handle this. If she’s currently happy at her job and is just throwing her hat in the ring, “I won’t manage friends” is fine; but if she’s unhappy/underpaid/unemployed/unable to find (better) work, that’s going to come across pretty tone-deaf (as the difficulty of managing a friend will seem negligible to the difficulty of her current situation) and another reason may work better.

    1. HonorBox*

      I only disagree a bit. It isn’t the OP’s job to manage the friend’s feelings. Even if she’s any of the things you outline, managing a friend is tough, especially when OP is brand new to the role. Simply stating that OP is uncomfortable managing friends, regardless of the reason the friend wants/needs the role should be enough.

      1. Dinwar*

        This isn’t managing your friend’s feelings, this is showing common courtesy to a friend and taking their situation into account in tailoring your message to them. These are things we should be doing routinely, both as a matter of rhetoric (so people don’t misunderstand you) and as a matter of not being a complete jerk (I have zero respect for “brutal honesty”; every time I’ve encountered it the brutality was considered more important than the honesty part).

        1. HonorBox*

          I don’t disagree that the conversation should be courteous and kind. But I think the message can be delivered factually without need to soften it based on the friend’s situation. The friend is going to feel discouraged or hurt or whatever. But as long as OP delivers the message kindly and is straight forward, being direct is fine.

    2. Observer*

      “I won’t manage friends” is fine; but if she’s unhappy/underpaid/unemployed/unable to find (better) work, that’s going to come across pretty tone-deaf (as the difficulty of managing a friend will seem negligible to the difficulty of her current situation) and another reason may work better

      Yeah, I would change it to “I cannot” rather than “I will not”. In other words, not personal preference but necessity.

  28. MistOrMister*

    OP 4 – does your friend now know the job reports to you? It sounds like she didn’t know when she applied and if you haven’t told her that it does, this seems like a non-issue. You can just tell the HR team that you don’t think it’s a good idea to hire a close friend as a subordinate and they can decline to move her application forward. Even if she does know it’s on your team, is there a reason you can’t tell her you think it would br a bad idea to manage her because of your friendship?

    OP 1 – I also hate certain emojis at work. I have accidentally sent the kiss emoji when I meant to choose a simple smiley and rushed to let the person know I was not kissing them, not in love with them and please don’t report me to HR for harrassment. And this was someone I was good friends with! If I sent it to a group or the big boss I would probably just quit in extreme mortification and go live under a rock forever.

    Lastly – this site has turned me off office potlucks forever!!

  29. Yup*

    Ugh, #2. It may come across as not detail oriented or a lack of care, but I get it. Sometimes we have brains that short circuit when nervous, or just have a hard time processing data (like with dyslexia). It should never be held against anyone, but it can be. This is why I have taught myself to only ever copy/paste names, no exceptions. I hope they overlook this; you sound very conscientious and caring and a good colleague to have.

  30. Kris*

    “The old memes don’t resonate anymore, but she sends them still” is such a poignant sentence! You’ve grown as a person, LW :)

  31. Falling Diphthong*

    I’m not the emoji police.
    Man. I think that’s right up there with retroactive fees for someone being really annoying in terms of visceral appeal.

  32. Dhaskoi*

    LW 5: Does your workplace have a policy specifically against hiring friends, or managing people you already know? If so, you’re covered.

    1. HonorBox*

      The only place I can see that OP might have some expectation to help is if the workplace posts the schedule beyond the two week notice period. If that’s the case, then maybe “sure, I’ll talk to people while I’m here to see if I can help you out” but certainly not on your own time. And without a doubt, it isn’t fully the employee’s responsibility. That’s why the manager is the manager.

  33. HonorBox*

    OP4 – I think I’d give the talent acquisition team and maybe your new boss a heads up that a friend had applied not realizing that they’d report to you. Let them know that you’re uncomfortable managing a close friend and you wanted to disclose that early. It will reflect positively on you much more than it will reflect poorly on your friend. And if she asks about it, you can let her know that there was an initial screening that you are too new to be comfortable influencing any sort of hiring.

  34. Dinwar*

    So I went down a bit of a rabbit hole here. Emoticons (which evolved into emojis) have been around since at least 1881, when Puck Magazine published a list of them. An earlier transcript of one of Lincoln’s speeches included a ;), but with the context is unclear what the intent was. For my part, I’d feel safe assuming that folks using telegraphs used emoticons regularly–they used abbreviations liberally–but since few telegraph transcripts are preserved, it’s something we can never truly know. Emoticons really became popular in the 1980s with the rise of the internet, as a way to avoid misunderstandings in text-based communications. On a personal note, emojis make my Descriptivist heart fell all warm and fuzzy. They demonstrate that language need not be verbal, and that the important thing is that communication has been achieved.

    All that said, I think the kissing emoji is not work appropriate. I’ll use emojis, especially in Teams chats or in more informal emails, but I do try to limit them to a handful of fairly simple ones–smiley faces, thumbs up, angry faces (not directed at the person), stuff like that. A kiss is crossing a line I’m not fully comfortable with. My way of looking at it is that I regularly smile at coworkers, or frown, or give a thumbs up/down (when working in loud environments). I’d never kiss a coworker. Nor would I flirt with one, being married.

    So I guess my view is, limit your emoji use to what you’d do in meat-space. They are, after all, methods for conveying non-verbal cues, so it makes a certain amount of sense that the same rules should apply.

    That said, others view things differently. I know some people who would view emojis as wildly unprofessional (yes, they’re older Conservative types). I know others that have sent me emails that I’ve had to have translated, because they used so many emojis I couldn’t make sense of the words. I figure this is a “Cultural fit” situation–there’s no absolute right or wrong answer, our culture is still trying to figure out what the norms should be, and as long as everyone you’re working with understands what’s being said and is comfortable with it (with the caveat that manager and C-suite comfort does carry more weight), whatever answer the team comes up with is fine.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      FWIW, I grabbed “The Victorian Internet” off the shelf, which describes parallels between telegraphs and the early, primarily text-based, era of the internet. The index doesn’t mention emoticons, nor did I spot them in the chapter on codes and abbreviations.

  35. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

    #2 – At a previous company, we received a resume plus cover letter in which the applicant misspelled her own name. She spelled her name differently in the resume and in the cover letter, so (at least) one of the spellings had to be incorrect. TPTB immediately decided that she was out of the running. I wanted to call her and tell her about the misspelling, but TPTB said not to call her, so I didn’t.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Rejection letter addressed to “Dear Jane/Jayne” might have worked…

      I get that it indicated a lack of attention to detail, but I suspect autocarrot sabotage.

      1. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

        That company did not send rejection letters to applicants who were never called for an interview. While a number of people complain to Alison that they were ghosted by companies after having gone through a number of interviews, I don’t remember reading any complaints saying “I sent them my resume and they didn’t have the decency to let me know that they weren’t interested in hiring me!” followed by Alison saying, “Yeah, every company should take the time to write or email or call every single person who applies for a job, even if it’s just to let them know that they won’t be contacting them for an interview.”

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          You’re right. I was, however, offering an opportunity for malicious compliance as a one-off.

  36. subaru outback driver*

    #5: Did you say something at the time? Honestly, I would be pretty irritated if someone found hair in food and didn’t say something, and I ended up eating it not knowing.

  37. Czhorat*

    OP1 is fascinating to me because I feel that not many years ago ANY emoji use would feel odd in professional communication. Now in Teams, slack, or other chat platforms one DOES see emojis from time to time.

    I wouldn’t ever use an eggplant or peach emoji, even if talking about food. Other ones may or may not fit various contexts. It seems to be part of a broader trend of the professional world growing more casual.

    I don’t think the kiss emoji is particularly out of pocket in this context; ten or even five years ago my answer would have been quite different.

    1. Parakeet*

      Surely emojis being prevalent in workplaces has been around at least as long as Slack has? They’re the built-in way to react to and acknowledge messages, after all.

      It seems very organization-to-organization culture-dependent at any rate. But like many people I associate the kissy face emoji with “chef’s kiss” so wouldn’t find it too odd, though don’t tend to use it myself.

  38. Mim*

    I would 100% feel uncomfortable using that kiss emoji at work, but would also assume that if a co-worker sent it to me in a “thanks!” context, it was just meant as emphasis of their platonic affection for our work appropriate interactions.

    I also work somewhere where, at least with certain co-workers, we will freely use random silly emojis in place of the thumbs up. But I’m that anxious person who spends way too long trying to choose one I want, second guessing myself at every step in case something symbolizes something I’m not aware of. Like, I know what the eggplant symbolizes so would never use that. But, for example, what if someone is scared of or hates all bugs and I use the cute bumblebee? What if I use the adorable turtle because turtles are awesome, and someone thinks I’m making a comment on how slow their reply was? Same with the snail — why oh why do I apparently like slow, bumbling animals?? I am dying for an excuse to use the freaking dodo bird (did you folks know there is a dodo emoji!) but what if someone thinks I’m implying that they are an easy target – it feels like the perfect emoji to use to warn someone they’re about to be laid off, so I stay away.

    The emoji anxiety is real. But I stubbornly want to use them, because I rarely have the time or energy to actually be the human I actually am at work. The human I actually am would use the dodo emoji with abandon because whimsy is freaking awesome.

    1. Mim*

      Actually, the human I actually am seems to use the word actually way too much. And has trouble staying on message. Actually.



      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Fun trivia: The words that mean “the thing I am saying is true” transition to being emphasizers–very/verily, really, truly, actually, and literally is going down but with a fight.

        1. Mim*

          Can I just say how much joy it brings me that the replies to my comments here are 1. from “Aspiring Chicken Lady” about birds, and 2. from “Falling Diphthong” about linguistics?

          This place is amazing.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I used the dodo recently and was quite pleased. I think it was in a “we’re talking about birds” context. Purely decorative.

  39. WellRed*

    Always, always put down the cover letter and resume and walk away from it for a bit. Then give it a final proof and send.

  40. Bob*

    For LW4 – I would just say something about company policy and that you had to disclose the relationship and HR/Recruiting/ABCD told you that you couldn’t proceed with her candidacy. It’s not exactly true, but will help save the friendship.

  41. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Nice bookends with #1 and #5. Respond with the puke emoji when invited to the next potluck?

  42. Kate*

    I also think it’s possible to see the kiss emoji as representing “chef’s kiss,” which is how I would interpret it in the context of a parking improvement!

  43. Edward Williams*

    Your answer to #3 is obviously correct (the manager is bonkers bat-sh*t bonkers), but there is a caveat. She won’t be able to use that job and that manager as a reference — they will trash her reputation.

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      Yes, this was my thought too. Obviously it’s not LW’s responsibility to find coverage after their gone and that manager is bonkers for even asking. But if LW is relying on that manager as a reference, they may need to broach the subject of coverage more cautiously with the manager.

    2. Dinwar*

      It’s food service. I’d be astonished if anyone cared what the previous manager thought of the LW. From my experience, the fact that the LW gave two weeks would be a huge plus, regardless of how they behaved after–I’ve seen a lot of people just walk off the job, and a lot more call in saying “Yeah, I’m not showing up for tomorrow’s shift. I quit.” (I used to be one of the people they’d call to cover those shifts.)

      Further, what’s the manager going to say? “I demanded the LW do my job after they’d quit and they refused”? That alone would tell me that this manager is a bad one, and that their opinion isn’t worth spit. This is an industry with a huge turnover, any manager that can’t handle that is incompetent. And that makes their opinions suspect by definition.

      1. Czhorat*

        No, they’ll make vague noises about “lack of professionalism” and not elaborate much.

        But yeah, this is very likely not a career in which you need to manage your industry reputation; it’s a mid- to short-term job to earn money to pay bills. It’s likely LW will have all but forgotten having worked there after a few years, and won’t likely even put it on a resume.

        There’s really little harm that the old employer cna do

        1. Dinwar*

          It’s food service. If the worst a manager can say is that an employee lacks professionalism, the manager has nothing bad to say about the employee. It’s a standing joke that the ideal criteria for line cooks is that they don’t show up too drunk and only have a little bit of jail time in their past. And front of house is worse, because they do all the same things but learn to hide it.

          1. Synaptically Unique*

            My ex-husband was a chef and “don’t show up too drunk and only have a little bit of jail time in their past” just about summed him up! Thank you for the laugh today!

  44. el l*

    Yes, I would recommend if possible being upfront with her, and make it about your own policy. “I saw your application, and as it happens it would be for a position on a team I manage. Which is actually a problem. It would be at best problematic and at worst impossible for me to be your boss. Put another way, I can’t have to constantly choose between being your boss and being your friend. You’re my friend, period. Encourage you to keep applying, I’ll happily do what little I can if you apply in another team, but – no, not going there.”

    Oh, and OP3: You might gain a little satisfaction with a simple, “Coverage after I leave? That’s your problem, dude. Not mine.”

  45. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #2 – If it makes you feel better, a lot of companies don’t even bother reading cover letters anymore so it may go unnoticed. Any candidate that uploads a cover letter to our company’s recruiting software pops into a separate location from the resume, assuming they were uploaded as two separate files as the platform suggests candidates to do. We would have to intentionally seek out that tab to review the cover letter. The cover letters usually don’t make it to the hiring managers unless the hiring manager explicitly asks for it.

  46. desk platypus*

    LW5: We have a LOT of potlucks at work in my department. Literally one or two a month. Pandemic and just being around them for so long has taught me a lot about their cleanliness and I’m someone who has a lot of food issues regarding freshness and hygiene. Plus, there’s always two or three who will sit on the counters as we eat, sometimes tucking their feet up criss cross apple sauce style, and never wipe it down after even if we hold food events in a work area.

    However, there’s so many politics in making sure I go to them because you’re viewed as unfriendly if you don’t. I recently started skipping out on multiple potlucks just because I can’t stomach doing so many. I was met with a lot of “you’re abandoning us” rough teasing and endless discussion through the work day about it. I actually had to go to my manager and ask her to intervene because it was getting so frustrating. (I went to managers and not directly to people because there’s been a pattern before of certain people taking teasing too far and too long so I wanted to have a discussion about our overall workplace morale.) They backed off but I’m personally still sticking to mostly store bought items at potlucks.

  47. Jamjari*

    I dislike the prayer emoji and don’t think it’s appropriate at work *but* I realize that most people are using it to signify gratitude so I let it slide like water off a dancing penguin’s back. I’m might cock my head like a confused dog if I saw the kiss emoji but would then go on about my day. I’d also say sometimes the details of the emoji are hard to see – they may have intended to select chef’s kiss and got kiss instead.

    1. Lana Kane*

      It’s interesting to me because emojis are essentially symbols, and individuals can read so many things into a symbol. I think this is the main disconnect with emojis, esp at work. People use them according to the lens with which they’re viewing them.

    2. musical chairs*

      so i read somewhere (and can’t find the link now) that what is largely understood as the prayer emoji was actually intended to be two different hands high fiving! And then over time, the meaning got changed by more people using it to mean prayer. But if you have a phone keyboard that recommends emojis based on your text content, both will land you at the same emoji

  48. kiki*

    I am always curious with managers like in letter 3! Do they really think that this is something normal and reasonable to ask for? Or are they just trying to see if they can get away with it?

    The latter sucks, but I understand the impulse. The former makes me super curious, though! How did they come to think this is normal? Have they been told to do this by a manager? Would they really unblinkingly accept this ask in their employee’s shoes? Would they really feel responsible for finding coverage after having quit a job??

    1. pally*

      I think it’s an indicator that the manager is overwhelmed. They need to fill upcoming shifts and hey, the OP is quitting, so let them be the solution here. Annnd, maybe this manager is not so well trained either. This isn’t something one can request of a departing employee.

      If I were that employee, I’d let manager know they’d lined up Mickey Mouse for two shifts, Tinker Bell on the Friday shift, and Bugs Bunny for all the remaining shifts.

  49. MrsPookie*

    The poster who doesn’t want to manage her friend? She could always say something like’ Upper management didn’t think it was a good idea for you to interview for the job on my team but I’ve suggested they keep you in mind for other positions’. A little white lie to blame big brother .
    Then again, if someone else weeds folks out first they may not need to say anything. Plus, if the friend doesn’t know its on your team, maybe you don’t need to say so?

  50. What_the_What*

    LW1: Regarding the “kiss” emoji. When I see/use it, I frame it in my head as akin to the “Chef’s Kiss” that people often do for a perfect comeback, or just to say “well done.” Don’t think of it in terms of romance, but rather “that was *muah* Chef’s Kiss perfection!”

  51. North Wind*

    Kiss emoji – I don’t think I realized this was a kiss emoji! My eyesight’s not great (maybe I need to go up a magnification level on my reading glasses) and I thought it was just a person and a heart. Meaning “I love this” rather than just the thumbs-up “I like this”.

    But I like the chef’s kiss interpretation.

  52. Dark Macadamia*

    I love emojis and the way they can take on really strange and specific meanings that weren’t originally intended, and I think it’s extremely weird to use that kissy face at work. It reads as flirty to me (I’ve literally only ever used it with my husband lol). I wouldn’t make a fuss about it but I would find it off-putting. The emoji I’ve always seen to convey the idea of “chef’s kiss” is the hand one making a kind of “Italian” gesture.

  53. Kristin*

    Oof, LW2, we’ve all been there. I definitely have applied for a job that requires attention to detail and proof-reading or editing skills and sent in a cover letter containing a massive typo. You never know, though, the hiring manager might skip over it also, or your qualifications might outweigh the mistake.

  54. GingerJ1‍✈️ ‍✈️*

    Alison gave an “oh well” answer, and I don’t agree. I would be mortified in LW’s place–but then, as a professional editor, I’m mortified when I send a *personal* email or text with a typo.

    Anyway, my advice: if this was sent electronically, resend the cover letter and attachments with what amounts to a “cover cover letter” or at least an explanatory email, saying something to the effect of: “This is embarrassing, but spell check got away from me before I hit send. Please ignore my first submission and accept the enclosed.”

    That would likely work for snail mail, too, but the time lag may be too much to make up for.

    There’s no circumstances under which repeated misspelling of the company name would not be noticed. I think LW would at least earn points for (belated) editing, noticing her error, and then owning up to it. The spell-check thing is plausible and gives her at least a fig leaf.

    I mean, we’ve ALL done this, though not usually on a cover letter.

    Personally, as a hirer, I’d’ve WTFed the original letter, probably shown it to several coworkers for a laugh…but I’d give them a second chance if I received the letter I suggested above.

  55. BikeWalkBarb*

    LW2, if it’s still open you could send in a new application with the note that you realized you attached the draft file and not the final version.

    LW4, not right on top of not interviewing your friend but later, would it feel okay to share your new broader perspective with her? You could be coaching her toward some professional growth with your insights.

  56. Tulip Madness*

    OP1 you don’t have to imagine it as them literally kissing you on the lips; picture it as doing a chef’s kiss gesture.

  57. BikeWalkBarb*

    One more thought on typos in cover letters: I majored in English and linguistics, worked as a professional copy editor at one point, worked in higher ed, have been a perfectionist when screening applications.

    More recently I came to realize a certain amount of privilege and possible implicit bias is embedded in this. As a native speaker of English I may find a particular phrase somewhat awkward and non-standard. If I screen out as “not a good writer” am I just making sure I wouldn’t hire someone who actually speaks not one language, but two? I have being bilingual as a preferred qualification in job descriptions so I’d hope not, but thinking about this has made me slow my roll on judging a person by their writing. MS Word is going to patiently offer a correction every single time they misspell a word anyway.

    Why bilingualism preferred? I work in a public agency with a language access plan. It would be a huge plus to have people on the team who could respond to inquiries from the public or write an email in another language. (Not asking them to be professional translators/interpreters unless they have that specific qualification; agency certifies people who qualify for a 5% pay bump if that’s part of their duties.)

  58. BBB*

    when I quit food service, I told them my last day would be on a Friday (I was starting a new job the next week) and they put me on the schedule for the following Monday. and I just remember it being the most infuriating conversation of my life lol
    me: hey fyi, you put me on the schedule for Monday but my last day is tomorrow so obviously I won’t be in.
    boss: but you’re on the schedule, you have to come in!
    me: except I no longer work here?
    boss: but you’re on the schedule!
    me: yes, so you need to remove me and find someone else to come in.
    boss: but you’re on the schedule! you have to come in!
    and around and around it went lol

    1. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Wow! I wonder if boss really believed this was reasonable, or was just giving you a hard time with this nonsense as retaliation for you quitting and inconveniencing them.

  59. She of Many Hats*

    Re: Misspelling — I had a college essay about something to avoid. I misspelled avoid as advoid through the whole essay (still in the typewriter era so no auto-correct) and the professor did not ding me for the error. There’s a good chance that if you were consistent in the misspelling, it might not have registered since the reader is likely to subconsciously autocorrect themselves.

    Give yourself Grace, promise to do better, and keep it as a good story to tell years later.

  60. TheGirlInTheAfternoon*

    re: #2 question – I’ve done something similar before, and I sent a follow-up email that said essentially, “I’m mortified, I realized I transposed two letters in your organization’s name throughout the cover letter, for some reason my brain didn’t catch it while I was proofreading, and I’ve attached new documents here,” and I think I still got an interview! I may have even added something like “I understand this may take me out of the running, but I at least wanted to let you know that I realized my mistake and was embarrassed by it.”

  61. Natebrarian*

    LW2, did you upload the resume to an HR site (like WorkDay), or did you email it to someone? If you uploaded it, you could always email HR and ask them if there’s a way you could upload a revised version of the letter. It’s possible that no one has had a chance yet to review your application.

  62. Veryanon*

    That last letter – blorffffffff
    I never eat food from potlucks. I’m just skeeved out by the whole idea.

  63. Anita Brayke*

    LW #5: Oh my God. Ew!! Speaking of the puke emoji (in a letter above yours)…ewwwwww!!!

  64. chewingle*

    #2 – So many people out there can’t spell my name right even when it’s right there in the signature of the email they’re responding to. It doesn’t make them unqualified for the work they do. Like Alison said, it doesn’t look great. But if they cut you out of the running because of it, then it was probably only one of the reasons, not THE reason.

  65. Have you had enough water today?*

    I don’t eat communal food unless it is with my family or close friends. I do not eat food from homes I have not personally seen myself. You never know how disgusting someone’s hygiene might be until you see inside their home & I do not trust my co-workers to not be pigs (I see how they leave the communal kitchen here at work).

  66. Mmm.*

    This is an area where emojis are sorely lacking. The prayers emoji?Yeah, that’s a high five someone didn’t plan well. The one with the weird hands out front? Thats supposed to be a hug.

  67. John*

    My brother used to work for a prestigious and well-known law firm that used an ampersand in their name (e.g. Babip, Pecota, Vorp & Eckstein). Their practice was, and probably still is, to immediately move on to the next applicant if someone wrote it out as Babip, Pecota, Vorp *and* Eckstein.

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