employee cries whenever she gets a new assignment, team went to dinner without me, and more

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

1. Employee cries audibly whenever she gets a new assignment

I am a lawyer at a small-ish law firm. We have five paralegals, of varying abilities. Our best and most senior paralegal is a bit of a cryer. It seems like it is part of her process. Every time she gets an assignment, she goes back to her cubicle and cries for about five minutes. The crying is audible. My office door is about 30 feet from her and I can hear it. It’s not to the level of “just informed a close friend died” but it’s beyond some silent tears when you watch a sad movie.

Then she composes herself, gets to work, and does a great job. So this isn’t a performance issue, but it is a bit of a perception issue. While she cries, the rest of the office kind of scatters. The other support staff, who are in the same open plan section of the office, have started finding things to do away from their desks as this happens. Those of us with offices and doors shut our doors. For a while, one of the other attorneys would stop what she is doing and check in, coach her through getting going, but it was clear that this was just A Thing That Happens. So the office has settled into a combination of ignoring it and making ourselves scarce.

Is this right? Do we keep just ignoring it? She always gets her work done and done well. (And we always make sure to let her know what a great job she does with assignments. We’ve tried a lot of positive reinforcement. It didn’t change anything about the initial crying.) She is very pleasant and happy outside of the five minutes after she gets a new assignment. The only real downside is that it is awkward, and when we have new people in the office they get a bit freaked out about our culture (which is pretty laid back, despite the daily crying interruptions). We do have some conference rooms that are often empty, so if she wanted a private space that is available. Do we start telling her that she needs to use one for crying? Is that appropriate?

I think it’s more than a minor issue! Working around someone who frequently cries audibly is a big deal! I’m not surprised her colleagues are scattering since most people would find that really stressful and disruptive. People can’t continue on with whatever work they’re doing (or social conversation, or whatever is happening in the moment) when someone nearby is audibly crying. It’s distracting, it will cast a huge pall over everyone who hears it, people will wonder if they should be trying to comfort her or at least acknowledging her sadness … it’s a big deal.

Have you ever talked to her about it, naming the pattern and asking what’s going on in those moments? I’d start there. As part of that conversation, you can explain that’s it’s rough on others and ask her to work with you on thinking of solutions, which could indeed include going into an empty conference room and closing the door. That’s not inappropriate, and you’d be on solid ground in asking her to. But it should be part of a larger conversation about what’s happening so that it doesn’t come across as just, “Yo, we don’t want to be bothered with your pain, hide it away.”

a new manager says it’s a problem that our employee cries in meetings, at her desk, and during team lunches

2. Another angry boss writing angry memos

The president of a company I used to work for sent the email below a few years ago. I saved it as an example of how not to manage people and as a reminder for myself to look for a new job.

For context, the “tweak” was a new feature request from the client. This occurred in 2019 and as of 2023 the client had continued to make suggestions for additional “tweaks.” It’s an inevitable part of being a company that does B2B bespoke software development. Here is his email (only names have been removed or altered):

I just finished having an email correspondence with (name) on the (project). He informed me that there was a meeting on Monday with (name) about more tweaks that need to be done. This is a pathetic effort on all your parts with no exceptions. How can a project that took months of planning and developing and designing and all of you involved in it miss a “tweak”? There is absolutely no sense of urgency on anyone’s part to launch anything that may give us a head start. All of you easily pass the blame on the other for either missing things or things not getting done on time. We have a major launch on hold because some of you or all of you missed a “tweak.”

Here is what IS going to happen. By the end of the day TODAY my time I want:
1. how was this missed
2. what is being done about it
3. when is this “tweak” going to be done and launched.

I don’t care who’s sick, on vacation, has other things to do, or whatever sad excuse anyone may come up with. The consequences for this not being done is not going to be pretty for anyone on this project. and if anyone of you thinks they are irreplaceable because of what you do, think again. Make it happen NOW.

This email was sent to approximately a dozen recipients, employees and managers, and almost all of them have since resigned from the company. What are your thoughts on this person’s leadership style?

Tiger Mike?

Aside from the fact that it’s not okay to talk to people that way, this person is an incompetent buffoon. Pre- and post-launch tweaks are such a routine and unremarkable part of software projects that the fact that he doesn’t realize that makes me wonder how he can possibly be in his position. It’s no surprise his staff all leave.

angry boss writing angry memos – the next installment

3. My team went to dinner without inviting me

I am the new head of a department and the leadership team (my direct reports and I) had an off-site on my second week. On the last day of our off-site, we invited the staff in that location for drinks in our offices. I saw two of my direct reports grabbing their stuff and asked if they were about to leave and they confirmed (they said they were tired). I handed over a gift and wished them a good flight.

I then spoke to other staff members, who said that my direct reports were going out for a dinner and asked them to join, and these other staff members asked if I’d join too. I hadn’t been invited and, given that my direct reports had had a few opportunities to do so, I said that unfortunately I could not join. I later went to my direct reports, who were standing together with other staff members to say goodbye, and again there was no mention to me that they were going out for dinner.

As they did invite staff members, and it was a close-off of the off-site, to me it wasn’t the same as socializing without the boss. (If it were only my direct reports going, it would not make me think at all that I’m being excluded.) It did make me sad, so I wonder if I should ask one of them what happened?

Don’t ask what happened. People sometimes want to socialize without their boss there, even if the boss is great, especially at the end of an intense off-site. It’s just different socializing with the boss there versus not; people can’t relax in the same way.

You said you’d understand that if it had been just your direct reports, but that doesn’t change just because they invited others. I know you probably feel awkward that they went out of their way to not tell you, but that’s not terribly unusual with this kind of thing. It’s genuinely okay that they wanted to do their own thing without their manager there, and you shouldn’t take it personally or make them think you feel weird about it.

4. My interviewer didn’t take any notes

How am I supposed to deal with an interviewer who seemingly isn’t taking notes when I answer her questions, but invited me in the first place?

I was invited for an interview and there were three panelists: one young woman, one young man, and one older woman (the one who contacted me). During my interview, only the man took notes during my answers to their questions and at one point, the older woman sighed and looked exasperated with him for taking notes.

I have not heard back from them but this interview was my attempt to get away from a very inappropriate boss in a different part of the agency who was harassing me. Maybe he knows this person and asked her to string me along? Is this a normal thing that happens?

Nope! That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen here — anything is possible — but it’s not common and there’s nothing whatsoever to indicate it occurred. Lots of interviewers don’t take notes! Some panels of interviewers assign one person to take notes. Others don’t care about notes at all. You shouldn’t read anything into that.

5. Am I ruining my life by moving for my spouse’s job?

I am about to move to a different state because my spouse broke into a career with a difficult threshold for entry after years of trying. I will be leaving a stable in-person job that I like, but which has enough problems that I was planning to find a new position anyway to improve my quality of life. I just did not expect to be searching out of necessity so soon, and did not expect to need to dive into the remote work world given our relocation destination away from our current metropolitan hub.

People from my millennial cohort seem to see no problem, and are nothing but optimistic about the move and my future opportunities. Yet after a month of searching with some leads but no offers, my parents tell me I am ruining my life by leaving a stable job to turn to remote work and are constantly ask whether I have found a job yet. Dare I ask you to be the tie-breaker — am I ruining my life, or is being a “trailing spouse” not the life-ruiner my parents seem to fear and this situation is better to present to a therapist?

Having to change jobs when you move with a spouse is not a life ruiner. If you do it repeatedly, it could make your professional life a lot harder — or at least not what you wanted — but even that isn’t a life ruiner, unless for you a happy life can only revolve around one specific career track. (No judgment if so! But most people have a lot of different work scenarios that could be compatible with a happy life.)

I’m also curious why you (or your parents?) are defining “stable work” and “remote work” as opposites. Remote work isn’t inherently less than stable than non-remote work. They’re all just jobs.

Also, a month with some leads but no offers is pretty normal and not a sign of doom.

{ 448 comments… read them below }

  1. Tiger Snake*

    #1 – I just don’t understand. Why is no one asking WHY she’s crying?

    Why is it that if she stops crying and does good work, everyone pretends it didn’t happen instead of saying “something’s going on and she’s powering through it, but what is going on?” Is she overworked and overwhelmed? Is this some unusual executive dysfunction instance?
    It’s such a weird thing for everyone to not even talk about.

    1. Le Vauteur*

      I wondered this. I also wondered what kind of law it is – something with particularly harrowing cases, perhaps?

      1. Rebecca*

        Family law. It has to be family law. Most people aren’t cut out for it. I consult for attorneys, and I won’t touch family law cases, even on a tertiary basis.

        There is nothing worse than people fighting over children. Most of us just simply cannot. (I know that many folks are amicably divorced. My own parents had a “visitation at the discretion of the parents” clause that worked for 15 years. That’s obviously not what I’m talking about.)

        1. Seashell*

          There could be lots of upsetting details in other areas of the law – wrongful death, medical malpractice, personal injury, bankruptcy to name a few. However, if it’s just having to do a task that’s upsetting her, she could be crying over a real estate contract or a merger of a corporation.

        2. Queen Anon*

          Completely agree. I was a legal assistant in family law for about 15 years and by the end I disliked every single client (a sure sign it’s time to change fields). in my experience a large percentage of parents only care about money and controlling the other party. Even nice people, even those who were clearly good parents – the kids were generally third. Not in every single case, of course, but in a disheartening amount of them. I hope I never have to work in family law again.

        3. Good Lord Ratty*

          I don’t know. I deal with upsetting material in the course of my work all the time (not a lawyer) but it has never caused me to break down at work. My guess for this one was extreme uncontrolled anxiety, but we can’t really know that either.

    2. Recovering the satellites*

      As someone who grew up with crippling anxiety and panic attacks, this sounds familiar.

      Crying spells can sometimes be an uncontrollable automatic response to anything that triggers anxiety or stress, even good stress (like graduating, landing a good job, going on a vacation).

      Dealing with anxiety just adds so much weight to absolutely everything despite rationally knowing (most of the time) it does you no good.

      As if that weren’t enough, these types of “routines” are quite oddly a small comfort in their familiarity, wherein you have a slight sense of control over how you’ll feel or react when you know for sure you’ll feel *anxious*.

      1. Allison Marie*

        Yup, you described it perfectly. I have a tendency to catastrophize, then everything turns out fine.

      2. LW1*

        This is what it seems like as an armchair observer!

        It actually seems really cleansing for her, like once she’s done it’s smooth sailing on the task.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          How many people (…it’s got to be a non-zero number…) have moved on to other forms so they don’t have to witness that?

          I have some serious armor, but, I would not want to be working around someone who burst into tears with every new assignment. I would be very angry at management and the person who does it. That’s a major distraction for a helluva lotta people and, mean as this may be, I would assume it is attention-seeking on their side since they don’t go off somewhere appropriately private so as not to disturb others.

      3. Common Taters on the Ax*

        Yes, anxiety is what it sounds like to me. Assuming LW1 isn’t exaggerating about it, I don’t see how it could be the details of the situation that are making her cry, because at the point of assignment, she can’t know much about them.

        I agree they need to bring up the subject, but I don’t think they should ask in a way that demands to know why or even assumes she knows why she’s crying. Something like, “Can you tell me what about getting new assignments makes you cry?” at most. And I would try to address it in a way that doesn’t shame her for it, whether she knows the reason or not. That’s a little tricky because the only reasonable solution I can see is to ask her to go into a conference room, and it might feel like getting sent to her room. I don’t know what the setup and routine is like, but if possible, maybe she could get all assignments in the conference room and then be allowed to stay there and deal with it.

        In all likelihood, she’s had this response to new challenges for many years if not all her life.

      4. BitsyinChicago*

        I also thought it sounded a lot like anxiety and that the paralegal seems to be managing it.

        I was, therefore, glad to see Allison’s recommendations that they find a private place for the paralegal to go or look to her for another solution that’s not “don’t cry”. That’s really kind and also most likely to be effective.

        It’s probably not possible to get this paralegal her own office with a door, but this is another reason why cubicles are a terrible work environment!

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          In this situation I would be deeply annoyed that people who could close their office doors were telling me I just had to deal with it as someone who doesn’t have a door to close. I would find it really stressful and awkward to deal with it, and dealing with it every single day would absolutely color how I felt about that job and my mental health.

          1. Reebee*

            It’s on the person with the crying “problem” to self-manage, not everyone else to tiptoe around. If there is no office door to close to cry privately, there are other doors, like restroom, building exit doors, etc.

        2. Tiger Snake*

          Put if it is anxiety, then either she doesn’t know that or her way of coping isn’t working. In either of those cases; tiptoeing around her while she weeps isn’t doing anyone any favours, not even her. If everyone acts like its normal, how’s she meant to start realising that she needs to seek help at all?

      5. Chickadee*

        I developed an anxiety disorder shortly before starting grad school, which led to a full year of panic attacks + crying in public before I dropped out. Sometimes people asked why I was crying and I always gave them the same answer: I have an anxiety disorder, I’m having a panic attack, I just need some time to calm down. Sometimes there was a clear trigger, but usually there wasn’t.

        Suggesting she use an empty conference room and close the door sounds like a compassionate and actionable solution that will save everyone a lot of stress.

        1. Purpleshark*

          If she does have a diagnosed anxiety disorder it sounds like HR and making sure she has the accommodations she needs would be the best way to go. I have a high degree of empathy and hearing that would cause me to cry as well.

          Also, I would not approach her while she was crying- I would say something when she was dry-eyed. I would ask, “What do you need to feel less like crying when receiving a new task?” or “What do you need from me/us when you are crying?”

      6. Hroethvitnir*

        Absolutely! I must say though, as someone with similar brain issues, crying *audibly* is controllable (to a degree).

        It’s shocking to me she has not attempted to find somewhere private – as someone who has escaped to the storeroom to hyperventilate and cry silently when politics were getting me down.

        Honestly, this is absolutely somewhere where it’s within normal for a particular disorder and does not stop her being good at her job overall – but it’s also her responsibility to mitigate causing distress to those around her.

      7. Katherine*

        That was my first thought. This is stress crying. Once she’s had that release, she’s able to move on and do her work. She’ll probably be amenable to moving locations, as she’s probably embarrassed that other people can hear her.

    3. SomethingsUp*

      I wondered this as well, especially with the detail that she’s the highest performer of her peers.

      Is it possible she’s getting assigned to more cases, or to the most complex cases, or to the cases led by the most demanding attorneys?

      I’ve found that many times the higher performers on my team are less likely to indicate when they’re at capacity, or they’re incredibly efficient which means they just keep getting handed more (and they obviously can’t maintain their level of efficiency for a solid 40 hours, because lunch, among other things!) so the overwhelm hits hard when it finally hits.

      1. Chris*

        This can be a vicious cycle, too, where the high performer stretches themself thin to make a quality product, and the person making the assignment sees this as confirmation that the high performer can continue to do this on a regular basis.

        Commenter “Bossy Senior Paralegal” makes a similar point further down in the thread.

      2. MassMatt*

        I just reread the letter and don’t see where the cryer is described as the top performer. In fact, LW says they have tried “positive reinforcement” which makes me wonder whether they are tossing the “great” performance out there reflexively.

        I am skeptical that the cryer is getting more, or more complex, case loads than the rest of the team, this seems unlikely given everyone is tiptoeing around her crying. If anything, it seems likely the cryer is getting fewer and simpler cases in an effort to reduce the tears.

        This is inappropriate behavior and Alison is right to point out that it is affecting everyone in the office. Maybe they would perform better if they didn’t have to run from the office or shut themselves in conference rooms or deal with the bizarre stress of dealing with someone who regularly cries when given a new assignment at work?

        I would tell the cryer that this has to stop, she needs to take steps to stop, how she does so (therapy?) is her business but this cannot continue. New assignments are part of any job and it’s not acceptable to cry whenever you receive one.

        1. Dog momma*

          I agree. and its one thing, tearing up. Or leave the room when the tears start, but something altogether different if you’re sobbing loudly at your desk, every. single. day.

    4. CheckingIn*

      OP says for a while one of the attorneys would check in, but now they just chalk it up to part of her process. So it sounds like they did ask.

      1. Myrin*

        I do think that there’s a difference, though, between checking in (“Hey, are you okay?”) and coaching her through it (as the attorney in question has been doing) and sitting down with her in a calm moment and asking “What is going on here? Is it a purely physiological response? If so – [suggestion for what to do so that everybody else doesn’t have to listen to crying several times a day]. Is it not and there’s something deeper going on? What is that? This is a problem because X and Y and we need to work on solution Z”.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah I also can’t tell if the “coaching” was coaching her through one incident at a time or naming the overall pattern. Even if they’re asking why she’s crying, that doesn’t mean she’s giving the big picture answer as opposed to just talking about the in-the-moment stress. There’s a big difference between coaching that’s task focused on the matter in hand “This task is similar to what we’ve done before; we’re going to do x, y and z” and focused on her crying issue: “Hey, this is not the first time you’ve been in tears over a new project, so what is it about new projects that’s causing this reaction?”

        2. ferrina*

          Exactly this.

          It sounds like the office has tried to check in to make sure that she’s okay, but no one has said “hey, what’s with the pattern of crying?” So they are making sure that she’s alright in the moment, but they haven’t addressed the pattern at all. They need to address the pattern, both for the crier’s sake (is there something wrong that can be fixed?) and for everyone else’s sake. If crying is part of her process, she needs to be doing it somewhere else.

    5. Myrin*

      Yeah, I was as flummoxed reading this as I was when I read the “setting toilet paper on fire” letter back in the day (although that one was obviously much more ridiculous). People are just… letting this happen? One attorney even dealt with it in the beginning in some way and it’s still not clear what is actually behind this?

    6. Drag0nfly*

      Thank you. I was imagining the office treating her as if she were Colin Robinson’s ex-girlfriend, the sympathy vampire who was always crying. It’s odd that a real life group of people can see someone cry at a single, specific stimulus … and not do anything? Not ask? I would have thought they would value the well-being of their top performer at least. So weird.

      1. Silver Robin*

        They did ask, and nothing changed. There was an attorney who checked in and tried to coach her through it for a while, but she is still crying.

        Granted, as others have said, that might not have included addressing the pattern, so OP should do that. But it is inaccurate to say the office tried nothing.

      2. Dog momma*

        They are probably trying not to get too personal. bc many are so “sensitive/feelings hurt/ fill in the blank.

      3. Autistic Crier*

        In fact, I’d love it if people in my immediate area could take the emotional labor on themselves to deal with their weird feelings about my crying so I could just cry for 5 minutes and then be fine. That’s what’s best for my well being, but I had to leave the workforce because I can’t control my outward emotional responses (I’m neurodivergent).
        I get that it can’t be an everyday thing but it bothers me immensely that the onus is on me to never let anyone find out I’m crying instead of the onus on the people who are not experiencing an emotional issue to just chill and ignore it. It’s so much harder to get through a meltdown or anxiety attack when I also have to focus even harder on hiding it.

        (After being asked. If no one has EVER asked then I’d get it, but it seems a lot more likely someone has, and they’ve been told to just let her be.)

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Consider if it was a different emotion displayed. What if it was anger? Or extreme euphoria? All of these are highly distracting and can be triggering to a wide range of people.

    7. Nodramalama*

      Didn’t they say in the letter that previously at least one lawyer has tried to talk to her and coach her through it and it hasn’t made a difference?

      1. Tiger Snake*

        Coach usually means correct for professionalism though – not actually try to find out what’s wrong. If there’s an underlying issue – whether workload, stress, anxiety or whathaveyou – some off the cuff coaching in the moment wouldn’t really be effective.

    8. Le le lemon*

      LW1: WOAH. This reminds me of coaching competitive gymnastics back in the day. An athlete would get overwhelmed, fight or flight would kick in, and crying released the tension. That cycle could perpetuate (even despite best efforts to change environment/expectations/deliver news differently etc).

      It’s impressive that this employee is able to compose herself and return to performing work (and well!). I’m guessing they’re younger in their career? It does sound like there’s something that builds up with new work – overwhelmed/worst case or doom scenario/fear/other negative things – and whilst it’s great they can overcome this in 5 minutes, and this office is relatively accommodating, law isn’t the kind of industry where that would fly.

      Perhaps the employee has ideas about how the situation could be tweaked?

    9. Brain the Brian*

      Conflict-avoidance. I bet it’s that simple. AAM advice often mentions that when someone does something so outside the social contract, we often freeze and don’t know how to respond. This seems to be a classic case of that.

    10. Nebula*

      As someone who is a cryer and used to be much more of one, where my mind went is that she has told them not to worry about it – that it’s just “A Thing That Happens”, to quote LW. I used to cry a lot over ‘minor’ things and felt embarrassed that I was crying about them, and often someone asking me if I was OK or trying to help me through it just made the crying worse. I would tell people that I was fine and not to bother me if I was crying, that I’d get over it quicker on my own because it wasn’t a big deal. I have definitely even said exactly: “This is just a thing that happens, it’s nothing serious.”

      Eventually I came to realise that the fact I was crying over things that didn’t seem to warrant such a response wasn’t due to me being a terrible childish crybaby who needed to get a grip, but a sign I didn’t really have any other way of dealing with my emotions. Once I addressed that, I stopped crying so much, and was also able to acknowledge to other people when I did cry that yeah, I’m upset. Before that point, from the outside certain people around me were behaving the way LW and their coworkers are by just ignoring me crying, because that’s what I’d asked of them. There’s definitely an additional dynamic here in that it’s happening at work, and the colleagues might not feel it’s their place to ask about her personal/emotional life.

      It might seem weird, and ofc we don’t know exactly what’s going on here, but I just want to present a different scenario than the people in this workplace being particularly callous.

      1. PotsPansTeapots*

        Yep, I am also a frequent crier who used to be an even more frequent crier. I think a situation like you described is pretty likely. I think that actually gives an opening for dealing with it – if paralegal understands it as A Thing that’s out of the ordinary, they’ll probably be amenable to a request to go somewhere more private when they’re having a moment.

    11. Alanis*

      I find all these comments very weird. If I am crying, please don’t bother me. You can’t help and you are just annoying me while I am being upset. Apparently there are people here who feel differently, and that is fine. But I need to represent the cohort of people who want to be left in peace to cry.

      1. Sbtyah*

        Are you crying every single day after you get a new work assignment? If so, you’ve given up that right to privacy in this situation–yes, ppl get to ask that is going on and how can you not do this at work.

        1. Trotwood*

          Unless you’re working in a field that involves actual life-or-death situations, I just don’t think there’s any reason crying should be a normal part of the work environment! “Please compile the documents for the Jones Insurance case” should not be reducing anyone to tears! It seems like OP would have mentioned if this employee was always getting assigned to compile evidence related to grisly murder scenes. Either there’s something very wrong with the work environment (i.e. managers are screaming at employees for minor mistakes) or the employee’s emotional responses are really out of whack. It would be within the manager’s right to name the issue and ask the employee what they think can be done to mitigate the issue.

          1. CityMouse*

            I have a sibling who goes to homicide scenes for work and the standard is that you don’t cry on scene. Especially because the family can be on site. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll cry in her car driving home particularly for the bad ones, but crying on scene isn’t allowed.

            1. sara*

              This seems like it would be true for a lot of emotionally intense jobs. I wouldn’t be ok with my doctor breaking down and seeming to need comforting when announcing my cancer diagnosis, or a police officer interviewing me after I was the victim of a crime suddenly start crying themselves. Of course what people do outside of work is their business but generally I think it’s a reasonable expectation that people keep their emotions under control at work, even in pretty extreme situations, outside of maybe a once-in-a-blue-moon unusual scenario – but definitely not daily!

          2. Rebecca*

            Family law would make sense. Defending parents against CPS, bitter divorces, and so on. Those are very emotionally heavy topics.

            It also explains why the coworkers are somewhat tolerating it. It probably is emotionally heavy stuff that they’re able to compartmentalize somehow. You have to be able to do that to work in some industries.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              I do family law. Attorneys and staff don’t cry a lot. Clients all the damn time — attorneys and staff not really. Also, even if it is upsetting, you go cry in the conference room or the bathroom. Not out in the cube farm upsetting everyone else who is also dealing with stuff.

            2. CityMouse*

              Lawyers really don’t generally cry over subject matter. Like even as a prosecutor’s intern I’ve helped pick autopsy photos to show to a jury and crying really isn’t standard. You compartmentalize it a lot, you just have to.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            Millions of people deal with actual life-or-death stuff daily without crying over every assignment. At some point, it’s time to ask if you’re OK with this job.

          4. The OG Sleepless*

            My field, veterinary medicine, is full of very emotional situations. It’s pretty rare for people to really cry; maybe a little sniffling right after a euthanasia. Once in awhile I will go out in the dog-walking area and ugly cry for a second, then walk back inside. Regular sobbing in a semi-public area would be very far outside the norm, and would raise a great deal of concern.

            1. Snatland*

              Yes I was also in the veterinary field for a while and crying noticeably over actual vet related stuff was very rare.
              (Crying because of the toxic owner/senior vet was a lot less rare but that’s a whole other issue..)
              About the only time I remember a colleague noticeably crying other than that was when a client had been absolutely off-the-scale horrible to her.

      2. Seashell*

        I find it weird that someone would cry in a public location at work on a regular basis rather than opting for the bathroom or at least trying to be quiet enough that others will not notice.

        Typically, someone who is crying is doing so so for a reason and another person could either help or comfort them or get them to wipe away the tears and get back to what they need to be doing. I guess that’s not the case here, so I understand why everyone is finding this behavior very odd. This seems like a person who is made for remote work, because she is not functional normally in the workplace.

        1. melissa*

          I agree. AUDIBLY is actually a pretty unusual way to cry. I say this as a crier! When I cry at work (lol) I go somewhere like a bathroom stall. And honestly, unless you are truly in the throes of extreme grief, most crying is silent. So if she is going to a public location and crying at a volume that everyone can hear— she is begging for help (to put it kindly) or attention (unkindly). Ignoring it is not helping! You need to address it with her.

          1. Katie A*

            It’s not true that most crying is silent unless you’re “in the throes of extreme grief.” Maybe that’s true for you, but it’s not a universal truth. Different people cry differently. I’d say it’s normally pretty quiet, but audible doesn’t mean super loud sobs. It just means audible.

            There’s no reason to decide she’s begging for either help or attention just because she makes noise when she cries.

            It sounds like it’s bothering people, so they should let her know and she should find some other place to cry or some way to skip the crying part of her process, but starting from an assumption that she’s making sound on purpose is unnecessary and not a good place to be when starting a conversation most people would find tricky.

            1. amoeba*

              I mean, if LW can hear it from her office 30 ft away, it’s certainly not on the quieter side of audible…

        2. Ally McBeal*

          Exactly this. I had a high-stress job once and spent plenty of time crying… but I always went to the single-occupancy bathroom to do it! I would’ve been mortified if anyone had thought I couldn’t take the stress – a good cry is how I handled the stress so I could move on and get the work done.

        3. ferrina*

          Exactly this. She is doing it regularly in a public area. If she were doing it infrequently in a public area (a couple times a year)- I’d probably give her her space. If she were crying in a private space (preferably a room with closed door), I would have no issue (beyond concern that she were doing okay). But regularly crying in a place where you know other people will hear you? Not okay.

        4. Simona*

          Right, like just getting the assignment and heading outside to do the cry and then come back.

      3. Everything Bagel*

        In general, this is understandable. However, do you recognize how unsettling it may be to everyone around you in an office that you’re crying every time you’re given work to do, and why your boss may want you to not do it so publicly?

        1. Trotwood*

          It also seems career-limiting for the employee–if I have 5 direct reports and one of them is reduced to tears every time I assign a task, am I really going to want to give that employee the same amount of work to do, or trust them to handle it calmly and professionally?

      4. Myrin*

        The thing is, though, that this happens daily and over work assignments.

        People don’t generally start crying just because, although I can imagine there might be disorders causing exactly this. But even then, it’s demonstrably not the case here – the employee doesn’t randomly start crying at her desk throughout the day, it is always in response to an assignment.

        So that means that there’s something about the assignments causing this – anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, what-have-you. And to get to the root of this – she’s a top performer, so maybe her workload is too high? – someone needs to talk to her about it to find out more, which is exactly what Alison recommends.

        But also – Alison has advised in the past about crying being a simple physiological response to stressors for some people, and she and commenters have always come down on the side of “once it’s cleared up that the employee can’t help this, it’s fine to basically ignore it, but the crier still needs to put some effort into limiting disruption and distraction”.

        However, there needs to be a talk beforehand no matter what. What can’t happen is that someone starts crying regularly and their coworkers (and bosses!) just decide to sit there awkwardly until it’s over and then pretend nothing happened until the next time, which is exactly what’s happening in the letter.

      5. Alanis*

        Honestly, I didn’t want to get into blaming the victim, but I too, wonder why she is making everyone uncomfortable with her crying repeatedly. And making no effort to take herself off where she is not disturbing the office and chasing off her peers. But my above comment was about why ‘people are just letting this happen’. Because interrupting her while she is crying to offer comfort may be unwanted. I agree that management needs to address it, probably not in the moment though.

        1. Pam*

          My mother weaponized crying. You would argue with her, then within a couple hours find her crying. She always did it in such a way where she could claim that “she didn’t want anyone to see her”, but oh-so-coincidentally it happened every time. Going in to her centrally-located bedroom and crying with the door open so you could hear her. Disappearing during a family outing at a time where her absence would be noticed so you would say “where’s Mom?” and have to go looking for her only to find her crying. It was her form of punishing you for arguing with her- if you argued, it would make her cry and you would either need to apologize for arguing or be a bad person for upsetting her so much. Spoiler alert: There was no ‘right’ way to argue with her that wouldn’t make her cry- it was her way or the cryway.

          I would be so triggered by this coworker.

      6. Come On Eileen*

        Regularly crying at work needs to be addressed, though. It sounds like it’s a pattern with this employee and — regularly crying at work is not normal, and its impacting other people in the office. That means the boss needs to talk about it with the cryer — even if that means the cryer feels bothered and annoyed.

      7. Crooked Bird*

        People just have very different feelings about this, and it can be hard to tell what they’d want, which is why people feel awkward. I remember seeing a neighbor/coworker crying in church & trying to hide it, and I pretended not to see, like she seemed to want & I would have wanted. Then another neighbor hugged her, and I felt like an ass… Still don’t know which one of us was right, really.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Both of you may have been right! Possibly the other parishoner knew her better, and had standing to offer her a hug. Or for any other reason, including the person’s mood at that very moment a hug was offered. No need for anyone to feel like an arse.

      8. Reebee*

        How would anyone know to leave you alone if you’re crying?

        Also, why not cry privately somewhere, if you don’t want to be asked why you’re crying?

    12. Helvetica*

      I had the same thought, especially since Alison ends with “Yo, we don’t want to be bothered with your pain, hide it away.”
      But what is the pain? The pain of getting assignments and having to do them, which is her literal job?
      I get the stress response of crying if you are really overworked or the assignment is on a super strict schedule or your boss yells it at you, etc. but to cry over every work assignment is quite out of proportion.

      1. sara*

        And if the issue is non-work-related mental health issues…I don’t want to be callous, but actually it’s not my job to deal with the mental health concerns of my coworkers on a daily basis? Like, I’m sorry if they are in a lot of pain in an abstract sense, but ultimately that’s their situation to deal with through a therapist or their loved ones. It shouldn’t be on random coworkers to deal with this at the frequency it is happening.

    13. Ellis Bell*

      I think initially, the focus was on checking in about whether the paralegal was okay through ‘coaching’, but now the OP wants to say “You may be ok with this as you’re process, but everyone else is not” which they’re hesitant to do as it seems callous. However, I would probably go into this conversation with some focus on the paralegal’s wellbeing as well. While making it clear the current situation cannot stand. Something like: “When you’re audibly distressed, everyone else is going to feel worried. We want to make sure you are okay, and please do be frank with us, because the current situation can’t continue. What do you think is sparking this reaction?” Listen really carefully to the answer and challenge anything that seems glib but ultimately if she insists that this really is her process, I would say “It is too distressing for other people and we can’t get into a culture here of ignoring actual tears. If it is a part of your process and you are able to control how and when you do it – can you do that out of earshot? That way, if you are actually suffering a shock, or are hurt or in real need of help, we will know the difference. Of course if you do need any support, just ask and don’t wait for us to offer.”

    14. Hyaline*

      I wish we had more from the lawyer who “checked in”–it’s not really clear if “for a while” means that for a solid six months she had conversations with the crier or if she popped her head in a couple times; it’s also not clear if “coaching” was trying to work through what the problem was or just giving her a pep talk. Either way it didn’t have any effect, so I think LW has to start from point zero with this, but keeping in mind someone has talked to her can set the stage for “just being alerted that others can hear and it’s not perceived as normal did not do anything.” Honestly, it might be most appropriate given that someone has talked to her to just go straight to setting a reasonable boundary. “Hey, Cindy, it’s kind of difficult for others to watch you sit there and cry, and it’s especially problematic if we have guests in the office. I understand if you need to cry, but can you please excuse yourself and use XYZ space?”

      It also seems that this has been happening so regularly (LW uses the term “daily”) and so long (she’s the most senior paralegal so unless they have massive turnover this has been going on…years?!). I can see why everyone is ignoring it at this point rather than trying to pry.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        It’s also unclear what the crying employee actually told the lawyer who checked in with her, and what the coaching looked like (did the employee ask for it, but it didn’t seem to help, and the lawyer didn’t feel like taking the time when someone was not making the effort as well?).
        Regardless, audible crying every day from the same employee should be addressed, by her boss preferably. Yes, it’s awkward and weird. But having to listen to someone cry every day after getting assigned work is also awkward and weird!

    15. JSPA*

      Yeah, “I’m just a cryer” is a thing, as are “I have trouble switching gears in all aspects of my life” and “I know it’s just imposter syndrome and the self- tyranny of impossibly high standards, but no amount of outside validation will get me through it faster.” Or, “I’m a self-identified empath, and getting into the heads and the pain of the clients is how I do such good work.”
      But it’s equally possible that she’s ready to break, and unwilling or unable to name it. Or maybe she’s committed to doing well, but finds the sort of law you do, problematic? Who knows.

      Seems to me this calls for a gentle, “we can hear your distress, and while nobody wants to pry, we hope you’re OK, and wonder if there’s a way we can make this easier on you (and on all of us). That includes telling you it’s OK to take time off, if you’re overwhelmed.”

      But if it’s part of her process, can she get her assignment in your or other lawyer’s office (door open) and then you leave her to cry in the private office (door closed) for a few minutes, while you get a coffee or something? That’ll inconvenience the fewest people for the shortest time, and give her some privacy.

    16. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      “For a while, one of the other attorneys would stop what she is doing and check in, coach her through getting going, but it was clear that this was just A Thing That Happens.”

    17. kiki*

      It sounds like one lawyer was checking in and asking what was going on but wasn’t able to discern anything actionable on their end. So I’m assuming it wasn’t something obvious that could be helped, like having far too many projects and far too little time, etc.

      And I understand the human nature confusion about why it seems like everyone is allowing someone to be clearly distressed at work, but I kind of get it from a work context. I’m guessing none of the lawyers are actually the manager of the paralegal, so nobody feels like it’s their responsibility to be the one to dive into this. Crying is also super personal and trying to figure out the “why” could get into pretty personal, therapy-level territory. Additionally, a lot of people prefer to be left alone when they cry or get embarrassed by it, so some coworkers are probably trying to be respectful by pretending not to hear or by leaving to give the paralegal space.

      To be frank, I think addressing this pattern needs to fall on the paralegal’s supervisor, not all the lawyers they work with. The lawyers witnessing this should probably be raising this as a concern to the paralegal’s manager, but it’s not for each lawyer to try to manage/handle. That gets really sticky and potentially invasive.

    18. Boof*

      Yeah I was a little confused by that, my first interpretation was someone had and there was no reason and it’s been going on so long they didn’t mention it. But I think the first thing is to ask the employee what’s going on, if they haven’t, and if it’s some kind of brushoff “oh that’s just how I am” then gently break it down that they should try to find resources to work on it (maybe an EAP) because it’s pretty disruptive to the office to be crying regularly in the office. (again, it’s hard to imagine that there ISN’T really something going on there but the boss can’t push on the why, just that it’s really not reasonable to let it ride forever)

    19. Overthinking it*

      I wonder if it’s a pattern left over from childhood/school where she was under a lot of pressure to succeed, and it’s just a conditioned response to any new assignment at this point, even if – as an adult – she knows that she will succeed and/or the consequences if she cannot will not derail her life.

      Alternatively, wonder whether she is an “emoath” (like previous crier) this practice deals exclusively with sexual assault/medical malpractice/wrongful death/miscarriage of justice claims? In which case, she needs to change jobs, and deal with something like. . .patent infringement?

      The other

    20. LW1*

      Hi, yes, I’ve asked her directly. As some have surmised, she focuses on family law but not exclusively. So, there’s a lot of sad situations, but this doesn’t seem to be correlated to the saddest. The first time she had one of my assignments (which wasn’t family law related at all- I’m not a family lawyer) I reached out immediately, and she was embarrased, and said it wasn’t anything to do with the case. She just felt overwhelmed and needed a minute. Then she buckled down and got to work. When she delivered the assignment, I said something like “it wasn’t that bad, right?” And she laughed it off and said something like “that always happens.” I’m obviously not a psychoanalyst, but it just seems like she’s anxious whenever she gets some new work.

      I’m also not directly in charge of her, AND I am the only male in the office of 6-7 lawyers and 5-6 support staff so this seems doubly not my place (“the only man in the office told me to stop crying” doesn’t seem like a great look if 10ish women aren’t saying anything). The first time it happened with my work I brought it up to our managing partner, who has been working with her for all 15 years and she’s like “Oh, that’s just Jane.”

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Ooh I think that’s tough, if everyone in the office including her is just like “Oh let her cry, it’s what works for her”, especially if you’re not her supervisor. But, they’re being super odd by letting her do this.

      2. Head sheep counter*

        oof. I hate that folks are ignoring her but are obviously uncomfortable. It really does seem like a simple “please process somewhere private” from one of your colleagues would be a blessing… but… one they are unwilling to bestow?

      3. Hroethvitnir*

        Oh boy. Well, I think someone asking her to go somewhere private would be ideal, but it may not be that actionable if you’re already at “Jane’s just like that.” Maybe have a chat with the person who tried coaching her about specifically addressing it as something to work together (with Jane) on for the sake of other people? If she doesn’t bite I think you’re right it won’t look good for you to try it.

        I wish we could ever land on “if you’re OK that’s OK, but we need to mitigate other people’s distress” rather than either holding it against them completely or just refusing to address it.

      4. katydid*

        I don’t have any experience with law practice, so forgive me if this is ignorant, but is there some reason why she wouldn’t anticipate that she’d be getting a new assignment within the next [day/week/whatever timeframe]? Like, why is she feeling sort of surprised enough by the fact of the assignment that it causes this physiological response? Again I might be totally ignorant to the field here, but in my field and most I’ve been privy to, you know when one thing (or set of things) is winding down so it’s time to start expecting a new task. If every time she gets an assignment, it’s coming so unexpectedly that it overwhelms her, that seems strange.

      5. Tiger Snake*

        “She just felt overwhelmed and needed a minute”

        Okay, that’s very pertinent information – thank you for telling us.

        That makes it sound like it is that she’s catastrophizing as some people suggested, and it takes a bit for her to realise this isn’t the end of the world. Why she’s catastrophizing is still up in the air – But regularly feeling overwhelmed isn’t good for her, or for anyone around her.

        And that means we’re probably back to the issue of “Because no one is telling her this is a problem, she has no incentive to get outside help.” It’s so easy to stay in denial that you don’t have an issue if no one’s going to force you to face the consequences of it.

    21. paralegal*

      Obviously, I can’t speak to what’s going on with the paralegal, but I understand her reaction. I am HSP/SPS (highly sensitive personality/sensory processing sensitivity), and also a paralegal, and I find changes to routine, interruptions, unexpected additions, etc. to be initially overwhelming (and it certainly doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist). I don’t cry, and no one looking at me would know that I’m overwhelmed, but internally, it feels that way and takes me a few minutes to integrate the change and get normalized again.

      1. katydid*

        can you clarify for me, isn’t the assignment itself part of the routine? Like aren’t the assignments her job? I absolutely understand if the question is “this paralegal cries everytime we *add something unexpected* to her plate” but I thought the issue was that she cries every time her next (routine) task is given to her.

    22. Robin*

      While I don’t have this kind of reaction, I write for a living and when I receive feedback for the first time on any project, I am immediately overwhelmed (especially when I see a million comments or track changes). I always have this thought that I will NEVER be able to make it right. But of course I can and do every time and it’s never as overwhelming when I start, but I can kind of relate to this response? But it sounds miserable for everyone and I would be looking for some different coping strategies.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, my response to getting a data audit back is immediate and intense self loathing – how could I possibly make so many mistakes?! – and I’m not good at controlling my facial expression.

        So when I am going to open up a data audit, I go somewhere more private so I can have my reaction without freaking out my coworkers, and then when I’m done and under control I go back to my desk and get back to work. Maybe it’s because I’m embarrassed by having a strong reaction, but as soon as I realized I would have that kind of reaction every time I made sure to not inflict it on other people.

    23. oranges*

      I suspect it’s probably a case where she cries, people ask what’s wrong, she responds “no, no, it’s fine, just ignore me, it’s a Me Thing,” and everyone believes her and does exactly as she requests.

      Except this wasn’t a one-time situation. Consistently crying at your desk in the middle of a busy office isn’t just “a Me Thing.” It an EVERYONE Thing. She’s got to find a private place to do or cut it out.

    24. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      And it says DAILY crying interruptions. That’s a lot and for clients, new employees, etc. sake of culture and reputational risk, a solution needs to be put in place, whether that be she needs to go somewhere very private and/or she needs to be offered the equivalent of EAP (even if not offered by the firm) and/or a very frank discussion needs to be had and/or a multitude of other avenues.

    25. Festively Dressed Earl*

      For a while, one of the other attorneys would stop what she is doing and check in, coach her through getting going, but it was clear that this was just A Thing That Happens. So the office has settled into a combination of ignoring it and making ourselves scarce.

      To me, that sounds like the attorney tried to find out what was going on a few times, was rebuffed, and now people are just waiting it out. That makes me wonder how long this has been going on; is the crier just going through one of those only-way-past-is-straight-through-it rough patches or has this been happening for years?

    26. Jo Mitch*

      Some people just have a crying response in reaction to’stress’ but I’d agree someone needs to gently talk to her. If she’s basically happy but cries easily then that’s very different to feeling overwhelmed. I (female) never cried at work and rarely cry but that was how I was brought up and have to come to realize some people cry easily – it isn’t necessarily a reflection on the strength of feelings. Someone just needs to open a conversation.

    27. fhqwhgads*

      I read it as LOTS of people initially asked why she was crying, but they stopped asking when it just…continued.

  2. linger*

    Wanting to believe OP5 is the spouse of #3 (“marital sacrifice”) on 17th June (“Coworker pries into my romantic life, telling an employee to be less uptight, and more”). It’ll be interesting to compare how the commentariat treats the two.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I see them as quite different. The wife in the previous letter had already moved for their spouse’s career, three times, and had a job and career that they had been building over 20 years and did not want to change. This letter is more like the situation before the first move they made.

      In today’s letter, the thing I would consider is how common fully remote positions are in the LW’s field, combined with the market in the state they are moving to (as many remote jobs do not hire out of state employees). And also what the job situation is like in the new location if remote work doesn’t work out – are there jobs in the LWs current field, or would she have to change the type of work she does to get in person employment? Neither are dealbreakers, but they should be considered and discussed in advance.

      Moving for a spouse’s job isn’t life ruining, but it can be career ruining, depending on circumstances. I know a lot of people who moved with a spouse for academic jobs and found satisfying work, but also a lot who had to change fields, or couldn’t work for years due to job market/visa considerations, or who got fed up and said “no more” with the prospect of another move.

      1. Artemesia*

        We always planned that my spouse would make one big move when I got an academic job and he was doing so well in his early career that we were not worried about it. It was hell on wheels. He was a young attorney — not at rainmaker stage, but also not new graduate — and we moved to a brother-in-law town. It was incredibly difficult for him to find work and luckily he eventually got a job as an assistant AG and that lead to good things — but after being on partnership track and promoted and sought after — it was a cold shower to find himself in this situation. It was a real nightmare — but it was what we had agreed to and he never said a blaming word to me about the move. And we coped.

        Never listen to your parents in this kind of circumstance — a month in and no job? It always takes longer than that. And yes it is dang tough. But to have a partnership means both parties have to sometimes make sacrifices. It helps to hve a clear sense of priorities – for us being together and making a family was more important than perfection in our careers — we each gave up something to have an ok career and a family and a great marriage. No regrets looking back at it now.

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          Want to emphasize that one month is nothing really.

          I recentlyish switched jobs and it took me about 9/10months, granted I really slowed down in applying during the summer month to actually enjoy the summer, and I was still happy in my job so I was being picky in applications and salary/benefit requirements, but still from when I first started seriously applying until I accepted a job offer it was about 9 months. Even if you subtract 3 months when I didn’t really apply, it was still a good 6 months of applying/interviewing.

          A few jobs I applied for, never heard anything I assumed I didn’t get it and 2/3 months later I was contacted and brought in for an interview.

          So with all that said 1 months is nothing really.

        2. Your Former Password Resetter*

          Agreed on how long it can take, I don’t think I ever had a job search shorter than 3 months.
          Sometimes it takes over a month just to get to the interviews, or to start work after getting hired!

          1. ecnaseener*

            Omg yeah, a month is nothing. I just got a new job in academia (staff) and it was over 2 months between applying and getting the verbal offer. You could easily still be in the running for jobs from a month ago.

            1. Hlao-roo*

              I could be wrong, but I think it’s LW5’s spouse who works in academia. (The spouse has “a career with a difficult threshold for entry,” which sounds more like academia to me than the LW’s plan to find a remote job.)

              But regardless of what field LW5 is in, it’s still very common to not hear anything back only one month into a job search.

          2. Former academic*

            This doesn’t help now, but many universities can/will assist with spousal hires during offer negotiations if you do anything they can reasonably employ you for, especially if they’re in the kind of town/region where they represent the majority of jobs in the community. (There are even some stories floating around of cases where very senior people were able to demand jobs for both a spouse and *the spouse’s ex-spouse* in order to make custody arrangements work. I would not try that as an assistant professor.)

          3. Smithy*

            While one month is nothing – I also want to flag that if the process is already feeling like “hurry up and wait”, then I’d recommend looking for a job vocational nonprofit. Not necessarily a career center within the university, but a stand alone job placement nonprofit.

            I went to one when I first moved back to the US after living abroad, was living with my parents in city A and while technically open to jobs there, really preferred to move to city B or C. I found the coaching on interviewing helpful, but in some ways what was the most helpful was being able to tell my parents and myself that I was “in a program”. And in many ways, that just made the whole process less stressful and helped me be more confident.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          A month in and no job? It always takes longer than that.
          I really agree with this. That length is not at all unusual.

          Also agree with Academia Nut’s second paragraph–how common is remote work? Are there any in-person jobs in the field in the new location?

        4. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Adding to “one month is nothing”.

          The last two, no three, jobs that I’ve held have all taken more than one month. Those three jobs starts were spread over 15 years, at various stages of my career, and the obviously different levels of experience. I’m in an industry where “Who You Know” is very important and helpful, and 2 of 3 jobs – nothing was posted. I was approached by THEM for a position specifically for me. And it still took > a month to bring me to an offer stage.

        5. Hyaline*

          I think that this is worth saying–that to have a partnership means sacrifices. Early in our marriage I did most of the sacrificing. Currently, it’s my partner. Who knows what the next twenty-plus years will look like? But you usually can’t have a workable marriage if both partners ONLY prioritize their own career and maybe that needs to be normalized a little more.

        6. TrailingWife*

          I’m the trailing wife of an academic. Fortunately, jobs in my field are easier to find so I’m fine trailing as long as I can find a job, but if I couldn’t, I’d choose living apart or even divorce plus paying child support over leaving my profession entirely. I’ve gone through too much school (10 years post-secondary) and training to give it up, plus our COL is too high to afford without my higher income. In addition, there’s greater societal implications: only 25% of people in my field identify as women, even fewer are WOC, so representation matters.

      2. anotherfan*

        Considering it’s her parents making the ‘life-ruining’ comment, I’d also consider that there may be other stuff going on. I had the least flexible career, so my husband was the one doing the moving when I found a job in another state, which was what you had to do as a journalist back in the day if you wanted more money. My in-laws, who wouldn’t have blinked if I’d been the one to pull up stakes if my husband moved places, were absolutely fit to be tied that it was me making the moves for my career. We don’t know what stake LW’s parents have in her career and what they consider ‘ruining.’

    2. I should really pick a name*

      The situations are pretty different.

      In the older letter, the spouse was happy with their job. In this one, the LW actually plans to leave, just perhaps on a different schedule.

      In the older letter, the spouse has already moved several times.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      I think the question of who is doing the asking makes a difference too. Here, it is the spouse and they sound like they are happy with it, but are just concerned because their parents have made them worry about remote work potentially being “less stable,” which isn’t necessarily true, whereas in the other letter, it was the person with the job who wrote in and there was nothing to suggest how their spouse felt about it.

      There are also a couple of other differences such as the spouse in the other one loved their job and intended to keep it but would have to work remotely, possibly with very difficult hours whereas in this case, the LW has some problems with their job and is planning to leave eventually anyway.

    4. Just Thinkin' Here*

      Similar thoughts on the comparison of questions related to moving for work. I thought OP 5’s reason for moving wasn’t compelling. Here OP3 is saying a stable job but one they weren’t on keeping long term rather than a 20 year career someplace.

      I’m a bit confused by OP 3 as they seem to think that remote work is the only option where they are moving to. Are they are moving to a remote area – thinking like partner is a park ranger or petroleum engineer and jobs are in extremely small towns? Otherwise, maybe cast the net wider to local opportunities as well as remote. And it’s sometimes easier to land a new job once you are in the new location rather than having a distant address on the resume. That said, they should budget for a single income for the first 6 months or so if OP doesn’t have something pre-arranged.

      1. I Have RBF*

        I would budget a year on a single income, on top of moving expenses, if they are moving to a more rural area.

        With the increased “gotta return to normal” RTO thing going on at major companies whose work would otherwise be easily accomplished by a remote workforce, remote job are becoming scarcer. IMO, it’s because of butts in seats managers wanting to reassert control over their minions, not anything to do with the work. Work that can’t be done remotely is not the issue. The issue is requiring remotable work be done in the office, like sitting all day on Zoom in an open plan.

        There are still remote jobs available – not every company is full of management lemmings. But it takes longer to find them.

    5. Rosyglasses*

      I was thinking this exact same thing! Not necessarily to look at how they were treated differently or similarly – but that OP5 is the spouse of the earlier post.

  3. 123*

    LW 3:
    Sorry but as a boss you have to accept that some employees won’t want to socialize with you outside of work events. Even if there are other people from work invited, having your boss present there will always be an automatic power imbalance that some people just don’t want to deal with outside of work. That’s one of the downsides to managing other people unfortunately.

    1. Caroline*

      Yep! I still feel guilty about intentionally excluding an old boss from a work social group I was in (we had a monthly after work card game.) The organizer was an old boss of mine, we’d worked with my new boss extensively on a project shortly before I accepted a job working for her, he wanted to start inviting her and cleared it with me first, and I said no. I had a work/life balance issue I was asking her to help me with, and I was anxious that she’d take the monthly card game as evidence that I was fine….I had time to socialize! She was never invited, I did get help with the work/life balance issue, she was kind of a nightmare boss but in ways that are difficult to explain*, she’s no longer my boss and we’re friends now. Alas, the card game group has fallen apart now, but that’s ok.

      *I desperately wanted her approval for reasons a therapist should dive into one day, but she was very difficult to please. I was an emotional wreck the entire time I worked for her, in ways I have never been before or since. I cried almost daily. I have got years without crying at or about work, it was odd.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this. It’s a bit unclear in the letter, but it sounds like the other people the direct reports invited were their peers.

      1. londonedit*

        It also sounds like there was an ‘official’ drinks do, and these people organised their own dinner instead of going to that. Which I think is what explains them being a bit shifty and saying they were tired – not that they were deliberately excluding the OP, but that they thought there might be an issue with them going out for dinner instead of going to the company drinks, so they just said ‘Oh, I’m tired’ instead of saying where they were going. I’m sure wanting to socialise without the boss also played a part in it, but that’s nothing personal towards the OP – it just sounds to me like this group wanted to do something different, but they didn’t want to announce the fact in case it led to a whole load of questioning about why they weren’t going to the official drinks, why the boss wasn’t invited, etc etc.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I read it as the staff were non-leadership local employees, but I agree that it’s unclear.

        Either way, I think OP#3 needs to do some digging. I’ve been the uninvited leader and the also the person who didn’t want to invite their boss. And in both cases, it was all out in the open because it’s such a perfectly normal thing to do, as Alison points out.

        That they felt the need to hide it suggests to me that either A) they’ve had a boorish boss in the past or B) they don’t trust OP#3 yet. I would gently try to figure out which is correct and take steps to reassure them through action that their concerns are addressed.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Hm, I agree with the intent of figuring out why the employees felt like they needed to hide it, but I disagree that the LW should dig into it, as that would lead to either (or both) situations.

          Instead, I would suggest the LW does some self-reflection and includes those bigger picture questions in their next performance review self-evaluation/request for feedback, rather than focusing on any one incident.

      3. MsM*

        And even if they weren’t, getting drinks with a higher up who isn’t in your chain of command is still different than doing it with your boss.

        1. Person Person*

          I do think inviting your bosses peers to join your peers for dinner at an off site is more exclusionary and not as defensible as if it’s just your peers.

    3. BellaStella*

      100% agree with this. Bosses with fomo are the worst (I know, have one currently), and in this case it seems mild, so please OP do not go this route. Let your employees socialise and do their thing.

    4. Agent Diane*

      Yep, this. What you can do is invite all your direct reports for a drink after work. If you do, as the boss you are the first to leave.

      (When I was a manager, we’d do a big team social. At a certain point, all the senior managers would make their excuses and leave our reports to it. We then went to another pub to socialise without them!

    5. AmuseBouchee*

      Yes, this. It’s not about liking or not liking you, they need time without their manager around to bond. I would encourage you to use the time alone to decompress. It’s hard managing and being “on” all the time.

    6. el l*

      Afraid so. That’s just part of the deal with becoming management. And if LW can think back to earlier in their career, this shouldn’t seem that weird.

    7. Frankie Bergstein*

      I have had bosses who will show up for the beginning of an event – say the first thirty minutes of a happy hour – then make an excuse to leave. Or other bosses who just won’t come because they want all the same-level staff to be able to socialize and not feel on the spot. It’s just a preference, I think?

    8. Stoli*

      Yes, people can got out to dinner on their own time, with whomever they want. Nothing to get ruffled over.

    9. TPS Reporter*

      I have the opposite problem where I’m the boss and my team invites me out and I keep saying no. I really just want to have that social separation and want both of us to feel comfortable being ourselves outside of work. I don’t feel like I can really be myself with co workers, especially people I manage. I try to explain that I’m declining as a professional thing not that I don’t like them or enjoy spending time with them. The whole thing is very awkward.

      1. JSPA*

        My best boss joined for 15 minutes, about half the time (twice a month). Drank half a beer or half a pop, told a light early- career hobby anecdote, bought chips and salsa or similar for the table, and headed home making it clear that family / hobbies were waiting. Its nice when you’re starting out to to feel, “good guy, and I could become that person.” (Plus, snacks.)

    10. Festively Dressed Earl*

      [Vimes had] noticed a light under the kitchen door and heard conversation and laughter, and had gone in. Willikins was there, with the old man who stoked the boiler, and the head gardener, and the boy who cleaned the spoons and lit the fires. They were playing cards. There were bottles of beer on the table.

      He’d pulled up a chair, and cracked a few jokes and asked to be dealt in. They’d been… welcoming. In a way. But as the game progressed Vimes had been aware of the universe crystallizing around him. It was like becoming a cogwheel in a glass clock. There was no laughter. They’d called him ‘sir’ and kept clearing their throats. Everything was very… careful. – Terry Pratchett, “Feet of Clay”


      Sir Samuel Vimes of Ankh Morpork, having some trouble adjusting to being noble.

      You’re a new manager to this team, LW 3, it’s going to take time for your direct reports to relax around you, and even then they’ll be mindful of your professional relationship. And that’s good! (Remember that letter about the manager who was buddies with her whole team and wrote to Alison for backup after the workplace clique turned nasty?) That degree of separation is necessary to be effective, fair, and have your direct reports’ backs. I know it’s sad, but they’ll learn to trust you as you show them who you are.

      *If it helps, the household staff know Vimes is a good guy and will totally go to bat for him against dwarves or assassins or dwarf assassins.

  4. NotesWhileInterviewing*

    OP4, I’ve interviewed dozens of people both on my own and with coworkers and I’ve been on hundreds (maybe thousands?) of interviews. I have never, nor have I ever seen anyone else, take notes as an interviewer beyond very rarely having someone jot down infrequent one or two word notes on a printed resume. Frankly, both parties should be engaged in the interview. I used to take some notes after we finished when I interviewed, and sometimes I had a form to fill out to aid in comparing candidates.

    I did take some notes on Zoom interviews during the pandemic but never in person. That would be disruptive and problematic, and it would have gotten me yelled at by HR and maybe my boss at any place I’ve ever worked.

    I know from previous posts here that it can be something some people do, but it is so far removed from my personal experiences (mostly tech positions across a wide variety of industries) that I still find it hard to believe it (I don’t think people are making it up, but it I’d just so bizarre and outside of my very extensive experience).

    Why are you expecting them to take notes? And why do you seem to think it disrespectful that they didn’t? That’s just so strange to me.

    1. NotesWhileInterviewing*

      I really wish we could edit for the first N minutes after posting. Meant to make the point that the exacerbated looks about the notes from the gentlemen are more in line with my expectations – an informal why are you taking notes in front of the candidate, we’ve told you not to do that.

      1. TMarin*

        Not being snarky, but it really took me a while to understand your comment. I think auto-correct goofed and that you meant “exasperated”.

    2. Rain*

      Really? Wow. We do all our interviews over Teams, and I take notes like there’s going to be a pop quiz later.

      1. NotesWhileInterviewing*

        I did say it’s different over conferencing when you don’t have to look away from a live person to take notes.

        I’ve done one round of hiring over Zoom and I took some live notes there (I still augmented after), but I wasn’t in a room where I was obviously not paying attention to the candidate while they were talking so I could stare down at a piece of paper or otherwise seem inattentive or disengaged.

        1. Spring*

          Looking down at a notepad so you can take notes is the opposite of inattentive and disengaged. I HAVE to take notes because my memory is unreliable. It would be much worse for the interviewees if I didn’t take notes and therefore couldn’t remember important information about the interview conversation.

          1. NotesWhileInterviewing*

            Well, it would be seriously frowned upon everywhere I’ve worked, isn’t commonly done anywhere I’ve interviewed, and as a candidate I would find it rude (but not say anything about it and probably only consider it when evaluating the company if it seemed like a pattern across all/most of their interviewers).

            1. Sharpie*

              I don’t think I’ve ever been in an interview where the interviewer (or one of them if there have been two) hasn’t taken notes. By this stage of my life, I’d find it strange if an interviewer didn’t take notes – I’m highly unlikely to be the only candidate they’ve invited for interview and surely they’re going to want to discuss everything later? Which is so much easier when they have notes to refer to.

              1. Orv*

                Yeah, my experience is interviewers take notes and refer to written questions. (In my field we’re REQUIRED to ask everyone the same questions, so this is pretty much a necessity.) If an interviewer didn’t take any notes I’d assume they were completely uninterested in me as a candidate.

                1. Nebula*

                  Yes, I’d be really put off and assume they already have someone in mind and are just interviewing me as a formality or something.

            2. Zelda*

              A person thinking you’ve said something important and taking a note to make sure they remember it is “rude”? I am startled at this interpretation.

              1. Dread Pirate Roberts*

                Right?! In many contexts, including interviews in my industry, it’s considered a sign you’re paying close attention. I want interviewers to take notes! I want servers to take a note of my order. I want friends and family to make notes so I don’t have to tell them a million times what it is I do for a living. Notes are awesome.

              2. Sloanicota*

                Everybody needs to stop assigning motive and moral weight to what people choose to do or not do here. Both sides are wrong.

                1. Zelda*

                  I mean, I’m going to stand by the interpretation that taking notes means you think something is important and worth remembering. I can understand, although I don’t agree with, the perspective that not taking notes is disrepectful (we can’t assume the inverse of the conditional; you’re right that that’s overinterpreting). I’m just struggling to see the reasoning behind a perspective that *taking* notes is disrespectful.

                2. Florence Reece*

                  One side is saying “this is not a done thing because I personally do not do it, and I think anyone who does it is rude” and the other side is pointing out that that’s an extreme brush to paint with. Not sure that second side is wrong, actually.

              3. JSPA*

                if someone didn’t take notes, I’d tend to think the hiring criteria were, “reminds me adequately of a young me” or the equally-problematic “culture fit.” Unless it’s sales, where “sold me on themselves” is (I suppose) a major criterion.

            3. Allmajorsystems*

              In my field (public healthcare) interviews are very structured with a rubric. All the interviewers are expected to take extensive notes. I think it is industry dependent.

              1. OP4*

                I’m OP 4, yes, the taking of notes is something that’s regularly done at this agency. I’ve interviewed every now and with them throughout the years and they do use a rubric. It’s a government agency and my understanding is that they regularly get many applicants and would need to compare them in some way.

                1. ecnaseener*

                  I still wouldn’t read anything into your case – maybe the interviewer had a good enough memory to do the rubric afterwards, maybe she’s a transplant from NotesWhileInterviewing’s field, etc.

                  With it being govt and using a rubric, that makes it even more unlikely that it was a fake interview to string you along. The whole point of that rubric is to make that kind of thing harder.

                2. AngryOctopus*

                  Even if there’s a rubric, many people will fill it out right after they interview you so it’s top of mind, but not take notes during because they find it disengages them. Everyone is different! Taking notes vs. not taking notes is nothing to take personally!

                3. Helewise*

                  I’m at a government agency and always take notes; my boss and some of my coworkers never do. I don’t really understand how the people who don’t write things down remember their impressions ten interviews later, but in practice it seems too common to read anything into it.

                4. Government worker*

                  My first oral exam, the HR person barely looked up from his notes and the staff person folded her arms and glared at me. It was very off-putting and left me frazzled in the interview. But in retrospect, it probably wasn’t personal.

                  In my recent interviews, they generally start with a disclaimer that they will be taking notes. I would find it odd in a government interview that they’re not taking notes, but I think it has more to do with their preference than your performance.

            4. Thegreatprevaricator*

              ? This is a very different take. Consider that some people *need* to take notes, some people prefer to. I’m a need, it’s a strategy for my neurodiversity. If you want me to hear and take in what you are saying, I will be taking notes. That said, I do let people know upfront that I am going to be taking notes as we are speaking and that I am listening as i understand for some people it can be a bit disconcerting.

            5. DJ Abbott*

              I can’t remember anything without notes. I’m glad I’ve never tried to work at the places you’ve worked.
              When I was young, I knew managers who didn’t take notes. They said they remembered everything. We all knew-and discussed among ourselves- they did not remember everything, they were all always getting things wrong.
              I would not trust the memory of anyone who did not take notes. Especially if they think they can remember everything!

            6. Canna*

              That is utterly WILD to me. I have never worked anywhere, in my 35 year career, that taking notes in an interview was not required, let alone expected. I would be hauled over the coals if I conducted an interview and did not take good notes during it! And I’d find it bizarre as a candidate if my interviewer didn’t take any notes. Your interpretation of that as rude seems very odd!

              It’s fascinating how different industries can be.

            7. Reebee*

              I work at a public university, and we are required to take at least some notes and upload them into our HR site. “Sunshine laws,” as it’s known.

              Besides, I love it when interviewers take notes. No way are they going to be able to remember everything, and without notes, how will they compare candidates? It’s rude to not take notes; shows a lack of interest and curiosity about candidates, and, worse, “We don’t care because we aren’t to hire you anyway.”

        2. allathian*

          As long as you’re writing on the paper, looking at it is the opposite of being inattentive. I despise the idea that you have to look at the other person continuously to appear to be paying attention to them.

          I work for the government in Finland and the system is a bit more convoluted than in the private sector. We have some standard questions, although fortunately follow-up questions are allowed. There’s extensive documentation that all candidates can request, and it’s possible to lodge a complaint if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated during the hiring process.

          I’ve been on hiring panels as the potential coworker of the person we were hiring. I’m in a niche field and I’ve never worked for a manager with a background in my specific field, so my managers would never have been able to answer most of the technical questions asked by the candidates. The last time I was on a hiring panel, we had two equally strong candidates, and our manager admitted that she made he hiring decision based on how well I and the candidate we hired got along. I’m sure I could’ve worked with either of them, but with the person we hired, it was as if we’d known each other for years instead of 20 minutes. That was nearly 10 years ago and both of us are still here.

        3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          But that’s not what taking notes is. Taking notes IS staying engaged, and occasionally glancing away. I always take notes. I do a 45-minute highly technical segment of our interviews. Are the non-note-takers just doing the soft skill “tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker” type questions?

        4. Apples and Oranges*

          See I think taking notes while they are talking indicates that you ARE engaged and paying attention just as much as eye contact. I mean unless you are visibly doodling or something. I always take notes in interviews (HR wants them) but I also don’t think it’s at all weird not to. Both are well within the realm of normal.

      2. Trotwood*

        I really think this is down to personal preference! I recently did some panel interviews and I took very few notes while one of my coworkers was taking detailed notes throughout. The third interview panelist was somewhere in between.

    3. NoTurnOnReddit*

      I find it interesting that HR and/or your boss would yell at you for taking notes. That seems a little excessive. I have ADHD, and without taking notes I am neither able to concentrate on the interview questions nor remember what the candidates have said in response.

      1. Tau*

        You’ve got the choice between notes, doodling and knitting for me. Somehow I think most candidates would prefer door #1.

        1. Sharpie*

          If you can knit fast enough, you could encode the interview notes in the scarf.

          (Look up steganography, it’s pretty interesting!)

            1. JustaTech*

              I think so (never read it). I’ve thought about trying to encode something in binary in my knitting, but I think it would turn out a weird looking mess, and if you made a mistake who knows what it would end up saying!

            2. Nightengale*

              yup Madame Defarge knitted a list of people to be executed. It’s a major character note and plot point.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Admittedly, I’ve been in HR meetings where they remind us that notes could be requested in lawsuits and you need to be danged careful that anything you write down could not be misinterpreted and you’d be comfortable reading them out loud in a court room

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I would be comfortable with that. After a meeting I go over my notes and add words to make it more clear. I suppose an attorney who was determined to twist it could maybe cast some doubt, but any reasonable person would find my notes clear.

        2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          My notes are mostly just paraphrasing what the candidate said, or commentary on how the candidate reacted/responded. “Needed a lot of prompting to come up with an example of a mistake.” “Provided good explanation of [similar industry acronym] when asked about [industry acronym].” “Confused by question about cloud experience, even after examples of Azure, AWS, Google Cloud.”
          And I tend to omit anything the candidate says that seems like it might be fuel for a discrimination lawsuit. (Family status, sexuality, etc.)

          It’s enough to put me back into the headspace of the interview, and also gives me what the candidate actually said, so I can compare across candidates. (The more subjective stuff goes into the evaluation form that I fill out afterwards, and I am thoughtful that what I write on those could potentially be held against the company later.)

        3. GreenShoes*

          Honestly this is why I have stopped taking notes for the most part during interviews. My HR warned us to be careful during training (Shoutout to actually having interview training! Honestly I’d been a hiring manager for many years before this was offered by one HR director in my company). Anyway she warned that notes are fine but to be careful with them.

          I think the story she gave was that was involved in a hire where an interviewer added the shirt color of the candidate in their notes as a reminder of who they were. You can see where this is going right… fortunately this person was consistent and had interviewed people who wore more than just black or white shirts. I believe it was the polka dots that finally cleared this person from a discrimination claim.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Discrimination based on shirt color? How does that work?
            I remember the attitude elites used to have about anyone who wasn’t in the right suit and tie would be rejected- but
            that’s not (technically) illegal, is it?

            1. JustaTech*

              DJ, I think the issue was the interviewer wrote “black” or “white” – which without any context like “shirt color” would *absolutely* sound like they were describing the candidate’s race.

              But since people aren’t polka-dotted, or plaid, or striped, that was concrete evidence that the interviewer really was writing down shirt colors and not races.

      3. Luva*

        Yep, I always take *extensive* notes when interviewing candidates, both in person and over VC. I mention to the candidate that I’m going to, and I make eye contact and actively listen, but if I don’t write down what the candidate said I’m not able to write up as good of a recommendation after.

    4. st7*

      That’s not normal. Everywhere I’ve ever worked, we take notes in interviews. I’ve been to at least 3 trainings on how to interview and they have all stressed you should take notes and not rely on memory. Most people who have interviewed me have taken notes. You’re in a weird industry, man.

      1. English Rose*

        Exactly. If you have say six interviews in a day, by the end you’ll be mixing up who said what if there are no notes. We designate one panel on the person to take notes, so that others can be fully engaged.
        There’s another aspect to note-taking also – as a record in case of dispute afterwards. So someone may claim unfairness because they were brilliant at interview (recent letter) but if your notes show that you asked them about live llamas and their answer dealt only with dead camels, you have a concrete response.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        Yeah, there are actual studies on this. If you want successful hires and you want diverse hires, you have to prepare questions beforehand, you have to take notes, and you have to score answers or compare answers after.

        Otherwise you’ll just hire based on who you liked (and you’ll think that doesn’t apply to you, you’re objective, you swear! But you’re wrong), and you can pretty much end the interview after the candidate says “hello”, because the success rate and diversity will be similar.

        1. Claire*

          This is where my mind went too. Notes for each candidate seems important for trying to guard against unconscious bias.

        2. ampersand*

          Exactly! I’m so confused about how one would remember meaningful differences between candidates without notes. I’ve always taken notes when interviewing people—unless they’re an obvious no, I need something go on to determine the best candidate. Sometimes it’s really close!

    5. Snow Angels in the Zen Garden*

      This must vary by employer or industry. I would consider my interview panel not taking or only taking minimal notes to be a MAJOR red flag, and I would have been expected to take extensive notes for any interview I conducted in higher education and financial services.

    6. Artemesia*

      I was the hiring manager for several major programs at my last institution and I never took notes during an interview (of course I had a steel trap memory then unlike now). I would make notes and comparative tables about candidates, but never during an interview. I don’t recall people taking notes when I was being interviewed either.

      1. londonedit*

        Similar experience here. Not sure whether it’s because interviews in publishing tend to be fairly informal, and there usually aren’t that many people being interviewed – it’s not like the interviewers are doing 15 interviews in one day or something. I’ve been on both sides of it and have rarely taken notes or seen anyone taking notes. If I’m involved with interviewing, I tend to save any note-writing for after the candidate has left the room – again, we don’t do long interviews, so it’s fairly easy to keep a few key points in mind and jot them down. And then my boss and I will discuss each candidate immediately after their interview, which also helps to cement them in our minds.

        1. Artemesia*

          We always had a loose set of half a dozen questions that structured the interview — not as rigid as those who are stuck with a list of HR questions that may or may not be great for the position and must be adhered to, but we always structured around a set of common questions. And we created comparative tables after each interview so we could then discuss the candidates focused on common themes.

          1. I Have RBF*

            Yeah, I always have one or two questions that I ask every candidate – usually technical type “what would you do if…?” or “given these parameters, what would you recommend?” I use them as a way to compare how they react to new situations and/or requirements. The rest is based off of their resume.

            I’m also in a field where “Tell me about one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and how you handled it.” is a key differentiating question.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I am the same way. I prefer to be engaged with the conversation, which is hard for me while writing, and I record my notes in the candidate tracking system immediately following the interview before moving on to another task. I generally have 3-5 core hiring criteria, and my notes have to consistently assess each candidate on the core hiring criteria. Our interviews are not usually more than 30 minutes, so it’s not hard for me to remember.

        I have been on both sides of interviews where someone has taken notes, and that’s fine, too. It never occurred to me to use note-taking as a sign in either direction nor as any sort of moral assessment. Some people do it, some people don’t.

        The thing I would find difficult is transcribing interviews. I hope that practice has died with the ability to record conference calls and transcribe from the recording. It takes someone with much wider brain bandwidth than me to both engage in the interview and write down every single thing the candidate said.

    7. Tiger Snake*

      *raises hand* I took notes. So many notes. I don’t see why taking notes would be odd – we know the main questions we want to ask people ahead of time, so its easy to note stuff about their answer while maintaining 99% eye contact.

      You’ve got at least 9 interviews you need to conduct in a day and they’re all gunning for the same position. How are you going to remember differences between them come 5:30, if you didn’t put down details of what their answers were is?

    8. Adam*

      Your experience seems equally bizarre to me. How can you be sure you remember the important parts of the discussion without notes? You shouldn’t be transcribing the interview, but notes about the key points mentioned are absolutely routine. (Speaking as someone who’s conducted hundreds of interviews for software engineers and related positions.)

    9. learnedthehardway*

      I ALWAYS take detailed notes – mostly because I have a lousy memory and a horror of potentially conflating two or three candidates into the ONE TRUE CANDIDATE. I have seen people who thought they had good memories do exactly that. Let me tell you – it was vindicating. I’d been criticized for taking overly detailed notes, but when I actually saw someone report to a client that they had the perfect candidate, but in fact had 3 people conflated, I decided that detailed notes were the way to go.

      Also, I like to just hear everything the person has to say, and then come to conclusions later. Taking detailed notes lets me do that. Luckily, I write like the wind and type like a hurricane.

    10. Dread Pirate Roberts*

      This must be geography/industry dependant because in my interview situations we are required to take notes so there’s a record of how we compared candidates. We simply explain at the beginning that we’ll be taking notes and the candidate is welcome to as well.

      1. Cordelia*

        yes same here. Our notes then get stored so that if an unsuccessful candidate questions the fairness of the process we can demonstrate how we came to our decision.

      2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        I’ve only been involved been involved with interviews for my current employer a couple of times, but we were specifically told to not take notes or keep them minimal. HR here apparently considers interviewer notes a liability, so they’ll confiscate any notes taken during the interview.
        It’s probably different at different levels, though – I’ve only been there for the “would the existing team like working with you?” part of the interview.

        1. I Have RBF*

          IME, proper notes are a good thing against lawsuits. As long as people don’t note anything that is potentially discriminatory, like anything related to race, gender, etc, they can be used to show that a) the same or similar questions were asked of each candidate, and b) that the answers were compared correctly. HR storing the notes in a file might be a good thing, though.

          Remember the guy who said he “doesn’t make mistakes”? If he sued, the interviewer’s notes of his response, versus other candidates, would come out in discovery, and his suit would probably go nowhere.

    11. AmuseBouchee*

      I will agree, I have seen so many people not take notes, but a lot of us do take notes, just after you’ve left the room. However, when you walk into a properly set up interview, normally I have been handed or there is a stack of paper for everyone to use as note taking and it’s kind of bad form not to take the paper.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      In combination with that previous letter, it’s interesting to me that it is the performative engagement aspect that a minority of people hone in on.

    13. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Right. I only take notes if I learn something particularly good or particularly bad that didn’t come across in the resume.

      I’ve generally read the resume in advance, and written down what questions I want to ask that are particular to a given candidate.

      And for many of my questions, I don’t care about the literal answer – I care about whether the candidate can express themselves fluently, and therefore whether they actually understand what they are talking about. When I ask you “Tell me about the size of the teams you worked in when you were at the Llama wholesaler” I’m not trying to gain competitive insight on that company – I’m trying to understand whether there’s something about you that’s a deal-breaker or a deal-maker. And those are easy enough to tuck away in my brain for 20 minutes and then write down afterwards.

      If the candidate answers “Well, it was a lot of people. I don’t know how many. But everything I did went through my project manager” then I know that the candidate doesn’t really know what llama wholesaling involves, and hasn’t had experience in working with a variety of people, etc. They may be competent at performing a specific task set, but they don’t know the big picture.

      As opposed to “We did a matrix management kind of approach – every major customer had a dedicated team from sales and accounting, and they would share a logistics manager with at most 2 other clients. I worked on the team for our 2nd largest client – 4 salespeople and 1 other accountant besides myself. I also spent some time on the small clients that didn’t rate a dedicated team, and there were 8 or 10 of us accountants who dealt with domestic clients, 2 accountants who specialized in foreign orders, 20 commissioned salespeople, 4 logistics managers, and then a program manager and deputy PM. We weren’t really handling much in the way of direct orders through the website, but that was starting to change when I left there.” That answer means the candidate understands business, has had experience working with different kinds of internal & external contacts, is aware that there’s more than one way to do things, etc.

      I don’t need to write down what the candidate says. I just need to remember which kind of answer the candidate gave.

    14. MsM*

      I take notes, but I like tag-teaming with someone who doesn’t just in case they pick up on something I miss.

    15. Come On Eileen*

      This is highly specific to individuals and corporations. I’ve worked for companies that required me to take notes (and turn them in!) – i was a way for decision-makers above me to have a consistent record of all candidates who were interviewed. I’ve worked for other companies where note-taking was never mentioned and therefore left to my own best judgment. If an interviewee has only ever interviewed at places where interviewers take notes, it’s pretty normal to come to expect it.

    16. Sally Sue*

      As an HR Director with over 20 years experience, (also interviewing thousands of candidates) I not only take notes during every interview but also encourage all of my interview teams to do the same. We do compentency based interviews that are scored and the notes not only help to keep all of the details of the different candidates straight but they back up the scores that are given. This could potentially protect us legally if there was a discrimination suit. I don’t know how you could defend a randomly assigned score without notes to back up why they received that score. This practice minimizes at least to some degree the level of unconscious bias that can be very problematic in interviewing. I also disagree that note taking means you are not engaged in the interview process. In fact, to me, it means you are highly engaged. You really have to be paying attention to take good notes. Without this, it would be much easier for my mind to wander and for me to become disengaged.

    17. HSE Compliance*

      I have not once in my career both as the interviewee and the interviewer not had the interviewers take notes. In fact, in all companies that I have had to hire people, I am expressly expected to take notes.

      To be honest if an interviewer taking no notes at all, I would expect a rejection very quickly, as to me it implies there’s no interest in having me there or actually knowing the answers to the questions being asked.

    18. I should really pick a name*

      So you feel that taking noted indicates that they aren’t engaged?

      That seems counter-intuitive to me. If they weren’t engaged, they wouldn’t have anything to take notes about.

      Thinking back to past interviews, I don’t think I’ve really noticed if they take notes or not (at least not enough for it to register after the interview)

    19. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      I worked for a large company known for its search engine and there was a formal process for interviews, along with questions we were supposed to ask related to the role, level, etc.
      It was assumed we’d take notes because we would be filling out an assessment later on, and we could attach our notes to that. In the training for doing interviews we were told we should tell the candidate something like “I’m going to be writing down notes on my laptop – don’t think I’m distracted and doing other work. I want to capture your responses accurately.
      I couldn’t have done the post interview write up without my notes.
      It’s like a waiter who doesn’t write down the order. I wonder how they’re going to get it right?

    20. Zeus*

      Some notes are normal in every interview I’ve had. But the place I currently work is the exact other end of the spectrum from your experience. There’s an interview panel of usually three people, all of whom have the same questions printed out in front of them. They’ll take turns asking the questions, and after each answer you give there will be a pause while they all write down what you’ve said. I always thought it was pretty inefficient.

    21. trashpanda*

      I also work in tech, and while I do take notes when I interview people, it’s not mandatory. As a peer interviewer you may be asked to evaluate a certain thing (candidates will talk to 3-5 people in their interview) but you’re responsible for picking actual questions and technical problems you give them yourself. I take notes (on a laptop) so that I can speak credibly about what the candidate said and did in the debrief.

      I think the difference here is that even working at a smaller company, we were never considering more than one candidate at a time for a position. Each person is evaluated against the job requirements, not against anyone else. So there’s not as much sense of a need for exactly the same questions to each candidate. At a larger company, if someone is already in the pipeline when the position is filled, recruiting or HR would probably offer that candidate to a different manager for a similar open position.

  5. Name*

    LW 4 – I work in an industry (public education) where we have to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests. It is not uncommon for people to do FOIAs for notes regarding their interview(s). As a result, most people don’t take notes during the interview. After the candidate leaves, they’ll mark the person so they know whether to move forward (name underlined, check mark, etc) or decline (name crossed out, X mark, etc). Going on 8 years in this industry and I have yet to see notes when I gather interview packets at the end.

    1. just a random teacher*

      Interesting! I’m also in public ed, and our HR-provided interview forms make it pretty clear that we’re expected to take notes during the interview here. Our interviews are terrible because they’re supposed to consist solely of asking 10-ish prewritten questions also provided by HR and then candidates are scored on those things. The questions themselves are not written well and confuse the heck out of candidates, so the whole thing is kind of a mess. We have a place to take notes on their answer to each question to help us in deciding how to score that answer later.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      You get what you incentivise…

      I don’t generally take many notes when I interview people, although often I do a “brain dump” immediately after. What I write is factual/rational and if I had to release it to the interviewee under freedom of information etc I wouldn’t have an issue with it, because my notes are of the “system x – 5 yrs exp but only last 2 yrs as developer and before that a user”. Or things like “re changing requirements – appeared uncomfortable about changes when already in the process”. What would people write in notes that they wouldn’t want to come out in a FOI request?

      1. Nodramalama*

        I think you’re underestimating how scared people are of having information FOIed even if everything they’ve written down is fine. Nobody wants to be subject of a request where they have to go through their notes and check what in there might be sensitive or be ok to release.

        1. OP4*

          It’s interesting that you say this because the place was a government agency and I’ve heard from people already working there that they do get lots of FOIA requests by attorneys.

          1. Nodramalama*

            A very common foi request is for interview notes or recruitment evaluations, so that could absolutely be a reason

        2. AnonGovEmployee*

          I once had emails with my boss FOIAed and while I had 100% done nothing wrong, it was still stressful and annoying. I had taken over some work due to a coworker having to go on leave for a family emergency and I had to ask the FOIA office to redact anything in the email about it. It also just sort of implied this person thought there was some kind of weird conspiracy because the case had been suddenly reassigned but of course he wasn’t entitled to know about my coworker.

        3. Sally Sue*

          That is where very comprehensive interview training comes into play. No one should be permitted to interview who hasn’t been trained on all of the legalities of the process. I know this isn’t the reality at a lot of companies but it should be not only to be certain that you are in legal compliance (not discriminating!) but to make sure that you are hiring the best candidates.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I can see people writing things like “tends to ramble” or “needed a lot of guidance for the question on XYZ” for a technical interview that they may not want being widely distributed.

        1. Sally Sue*

          At my company they are not “widely distributed”. I, the HR Director, collect all interview notes and scoring and keep them (securely) filed for at least a year which is the amount of time required by the EEOC. They are considered confidential documents and are not shared with the candidates or other employees.

      3. Name*

        You would be surprised because a lot of the people doing the interviews are not aware of what can and can’t be asked, noted, etc. Depending on how the district is organized, sometimes the HR leadership doesn’t know what they can and can’t do. I, as a specialist, have had to explain to executive directors that things they want to do will violate FLSA, FMLA, HIPAA, etc. They didn’t realize it and are baffled that what they want to do would open the district up to lawsuits.

    3. CityMouse*

      That was my immediate thought. If they’re under FOIA or a discovery hold they may have to turn over all that stuff.

    4. Not a raccoon keeper*

      I’m in public ed in Canada, and we’re required to take notes during interviews, and keep them – in part to show that we are asking all candidates the same questions (for equity).

    5. Sandwich*

      Maybe this is district or state dependent? I’ve had interviews with many different districts in two states and most of them took notes. There’s a spectrum from jotting things down on my resume to recording answers on a printed list of questions, but some form of notes was very common.

  6. Rain*

    OP#5 – Do your parents dislike your spouse or something? Because unless this is the nth time you’ve been asked to uproot your life and move for your spouse, your parents reaction seems overly negative.

    (But if this is the 4th or fifth. time- like mentioned in the letter on Friday- I can see why they’re concerned.)

    1. Awkwardness*

      Or the parents do not understand remote work.

      My mum is a bit older and grew up with the idea of people being in on site. It is difficult to explain that there are jobs that do not require people to come and that we are only communicating through the Internet. So whenever I visit her and work from her home she is afraid I am not being busy enough as soon I only go to the kitchen to have a coffee instead of being glued to my PC.

      LW, it is a difficult situation to realise that your parents advice will not be the best in a situation because they are out of touch. So try to limit how much you share with them and try to gather information from more reliable, professional sources. I cringed a bit at “nothing but optimistic” which read a bit naive to me, but that could be only me.
      Remote work can be stable, but also has its downsides; 1 month without an offer is no disaster; moving one for your spouse will not ruin your life, doing so 10 times might be problematic for your CV.

      1. Kella*

        I have also noticed a pattern of some older generations seeing leaving a job for any reason as a Very Big Deal, because they’re from a time when you stuck with the same company for your entire career and climbed the ladder until retirement. Now, it’s so much more common for folks to to move around or to be laid off after a few years, and some of their parents think this must be a dire sign of poor performance.

        1. Spill the wine*

          My parents are in their 60s and familiar with remote work, as my father began WFH at the beginning of the pandemic.
          They were however very anxious with the notion my brother of changing jobs frequently, as they feared it would reflect badly on his resume.
          Again, the pandemic proved to them that you could be the most efficient and dedicated worker and still be laid off left right and centre.

          1. Slinky Dog*

            My dad steadfastly believed in sticking with a 1 job/career forever and had a mangerial role in I.T. But then in 2012 his department was layed off and due to ageism his work history has never been the same since. He’s realised to his dismay that loyalty and dedication no guarantees anything.

        2. Brain the Brian*

          I think a lot of this — at least in the U.S. — has to do with the long, slow switch from employe-linked pensions to portable, investment-funded retirements. There’s much less incentive to stay at a company through retirement if the company is not going to pay for your retirement anyway.

        3. Irish Teacher.*

          It’s also possible that the parents are just…generally biased towards their child and believe his or her career should be prioritised over that of the spouse. I don’t mean they are necessarily consciously thinking “your career is more important than his/hers,” but just that they are thinking “spouse is being selfish and putting themself first. What about my kid’s career? Why should they have to put their job at risk?”

          This may be particularly true if the person writing in is a man and he is married to a woman, because older generations may have the engrained assumption that a man’s career is the important one and a woman’s is less so. Again, not necessarily consciously. It’s more likely to be simply that they take it for granted that the man’s career will be prioritised and are surprised to see the opposite.

          Though it could also work the other way as the parents of millennials are likely to have been young at the time this was being questioned and if the LW is a woman, they may be seeing this in terms of it being a repeat of what happened in their young day, women being expected to put their career second to a man’s.

        4. PhyllisB*

          Yep. I’m 73 and I don’t have statistics to back it up of course, but I believe our generation was the first to really deal with wholesale layoffs, moves for work and so forth.
          I worked for the phone company, my husband worked for an automotive company. considered two of the most stable jobs around and we know how that played out. We handled our dilemma in two different ways. I got the bad news first, and our children were young so didn’t want to have an hour and half commute that would be required and husband couldn’t transfer. He would have had to resign and hope to get rehired somewhere else, so I took my buyout and reduced pension and went home. (I did other work, just not phone company.)
          Well of course six months after I made that choice his company started layoffs and offering transfers so he ended up chasing his pension. I stayed put.
          Bottom line is there doesn’t seem to be a guarantee anymore of job stability even if you WANT to stay with one company.

          1. Le Sigh*

            The notion of staying with one job feels more like something my grandparents had (though thinking about it, they moved a few times for work, too). My parents *started* on that track and thought they would follow it, but the late ’80s and early’90s proved very quickly that world didn’t exist anymore. They actually know quite a bit about changing jobs. And given the way they’ve been treated, I think they now take a very skeptical stance toward trusting employers.

      2. ecnaseener*

        And this doesn’t even require being so very out of touch — really if you haven’t been in the workforce since covid, your experience of telework is very different than today’s. (And even today, it can certainly still be true that a remote worker is in a less stable position than their in-person counterpart if it means their work is less visible, they don’t get to connect as much with leadership, etc. It’s just more common now to have entirely remote teams.)

        1. BennyJets*

          I agree. And I was also thinking that region might factor in combined with generation. I’m GenX and I’m my previous career my first few jobs were “remote work”, the caveat being that this was pre-internet and “remote work” at that time was less stable, 3 weeks in/3 weeks out style contract work in extractive industries (mining, forestry in particular). Moving up the corporate ladder in those areas meant eventually being promoted to a role that at a regional or head office and no longer involved extensive time “in the field” (I.e: working remotely).

          All this to say, perhaps to their ears remote work rings of “entry level”.

      3. MsM*

        Or they don’t like that OP’s move puts them further away, and they’re fishing for evidence this was a terrible idea and OP should just come home.

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          This was my first thought too, MsM—that the parents want their (grown-up) child to remain geographically close.

    2. kiki*

      My experience with parents is that sometimes they are in the midst of the perfect storm of being deeply concerned for their child’s well-being while also being removed from the reality of the working world their children are experiencing to create a tremendous amount of anxiety.

      A month of job searching, to me as a millennial is so, so normal. I would not even start worrying that something is amiss until the 3 month mark. Hiring today takes longer and in my field is currently very competitive. Gone are the days of, “just march into the CEO’s office and say you’re a hard worker who is willing to do what it takes.” But to my parents, they never really had experience of job searching for professional roles besides their first jobs after college when they were actively recruited into their roles. They are also retired with little going on day-to-day, so a month feels very, very long to them. Whereas a month blows by in the blink of an eye for me since I’m so busy with work, life, etc.

      I think the parents may also be carrying some baggage and concern since it seems like LW’s spouse took some time to get into their new industry. I think it can be scary to watch your child change their life to follow somebody else even in perfect circumstances, let alone after watching them struggle to get their start in the field.

      All this is to say, LW, if you’re not terribly concerned, don’t become concerned just because your parents are. Listen to their concerns once and see if any of them resonate with you, of course, but if they don’t, you don’t need to take on their anxiety.

    3. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I have a possibly bad threshold for what’s normal but I would 100% expect this mentality from my own parents who don’t understand remote work and who don’t have a real understanding of the modern day workforce. I don’t think my family could fathom the idea of me voluntarily quitting a job without having something else lined up.

      1. ThatOtherClare*

        Especially if the parents are retired and of an anxious disposition. It could be the perfect storm of:

        – not understanding the modern work world;
        – anxiety about anything new and different and;
        – retirement giving them lots of free time to both ruminate on their offspring’s life, and contact said offspring regularly to pressure them into doing their idea of ‘the sensible thing’

        In fact, liking the spouse might even cause them to amp up the pressure, because “Spouse is a good and kind and thoughtful person. If we can just make Spouse understand, of course they’ll change their plan! Clearly we just haven’t explained it properly yet.”

    4. Just Thinkin' Here*

      I took it more that the parents may not want their offspring to move away from home, especially if it’s a tight-knit family. But there could be other thoughts on that.

    5. Sammi*

      In my 17 years of marriage to a Naval Officer, I moved every two to three years. I always found a new job and for the most part, started over but moved up quickly.

      The last time we moved, it was because of MY job, and he didn’t like and left a couple years later..

  7. Elisa*

    #5 just be aware that you are setting a precedent that your spouse’s job is more important than yours. I’m sitting at my kitchen table right now, 10 years after leaving the best job I ever had, to follow my spouse’s job aspirations. I found a new job in our new “hometown”, making lots of money (albeit 50% of what my spouse earns) but the implicit understanding is that I’m less important because I’m following behind. He gets promoted repeatedly,so his job is taking more of his time, meaning more of the tasks of child raising and household management are shifted to me, meaning I have less time to devote to my own career progression. And it really sucks to set this precedent because it means that you will never get to make a family decision that would better your career, if it would simultaneously limit theirs.

    1. Wolf*

      Yeah, this situation can easily turn into a self-maintaining circle. Person A earns less than B, so A is the one who should taketime off when the kids are sick, A should switch jobs when B has a better offer elsewhere,…. arguing that it just makes sense for the family finances.

      Then a decade later, B has made a career while A is still stuck on a basic job. B has missed out on a ton of life milestones for the kids, or just the emotional connection of being the one who’s there on good and bad days.

    2. Semi-Accomplished Baker*

      I guess it depends on your priorities. Is your priorities managing the fam, or your career? Not that either priority is the “right” one. Follow your priorities so the 10 years down the road, you don’t say, “man, I wish I’d…”

    3. Pottery Yarn*

      I don’t think that giving up a job you aren’t even that fond of (in the letterwriter’s case) will necessarily set the stage for always being second banana. Early in our marriage, my husband was making six figures while I was working retail part-time, so his career obviously came first. Now I have a real career that actually brings in real income, and things have shifted. He is still making twice as much as me, but he’s basically maxed out his earning potential and upward mobility is extremely limited. My job, on the other hand, still has a lot of room for growth. He also works in an industry that’s in pretty much any location, so if we needed to move for an opportunity for my job, he could get something pretty easily, even if it’s not perfect, and then continue to look for a better fit, whereas my job search would likely take a lot longer.

      1. Student*

        Have you ever talked with him about the possibility of moving for your career, though? You use a lot of good logic, but good logic is only part of the picture. I’d argue it’s not usually the driver in this kind of decision-making at all. Emotion is. The logic to justify it comes second.

        When actually faced with sacrificing for you, will he go through with it? Will it have ever occurred to him that this was a possibility before you bring it up, or will the very concept of moving for your career surprise him? If he does move to support your career, will it be the same kind of support you gave him, or will it be begrudging, minimal, and poisoned by complaints? When you discuss it, is he open to it and interested in discussing it, or is he coming up with reasons not to do it immediately? Is there always some future milestone you need to hit, that either changes as you approach it or is always just out of reach, that he uses to justify not moving?

        I’m better off on this than most of my friends. However, my spouse’s approach to moving for my career has always been this: we can move for my career, as long as I handle absolutely every logistic associated with moving by myself, and I support my spouse financially for at least a year after the move.

        1. biobotb*

          Yes, it’s so easy to say, “Of course I support you! I’d definitely move for your career!” but it’s very different to actually *do* it. Unfortunately, this may be something you can only learn first-hand.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      And it’s the kind of thing that tends not to be considered in divorce settlements – the current assets are split, but the increased lifetime earning power goes with the leading spouse, while the following spouse is expected to make up for lost time after years supporting their partner.

      1. BigLawEx*

        THIS ^^^

        California still has spousal support that isn’t terminated by default. But other states…

    5. MK*

      Precedent isn’t really a thing, unless you make/allow it. I don’t think it’s accurate or useful to say to OP “If you move for your spouse’s job, your career will always be second”. More like “If you do this, be careful that it doesn’t become the default”.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Yes, that’s a much better way to phrase it. When my husband got his first job after his masters I was the trailing spouse, which was okay because we planned to start a family and I didn’t have a career, just a job that was… fine but not exciting. Now that the kids are older, I’ve retrained and my career needs are taking the forefront while he’s settled into a stable and comfortable role. Lots of conversations about how to manage the decision – which included my own career development as an explicit factor to consider – made that possible.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This is a good point–sometimes the pattern is that you alternate who’s making the sacrifice so their partner can do what they want. Wolf’s (very real) pattern isn’t the only one.

      3. ferrina*

        This is a good way of thinking about it.

        One other caution here- both spouses need to be on the same page. Especially the spouse that is getting more consideration. It is too easy to come to expect that consideration as the default.

        Some spouses are great at making sure that they are as considerate of their spouse as their spouse is of them (willing to make the same sacrifices in their career as they ask of their spouse, taking on extra load to make it easier on their spouse, and engaging in regular communication and making themself a safe person to talk to if their spouse is unhappy).

        Some spouses are not. They will always have a reason why their career is more important than yours. They may temporarily take on extra load, but they make sure that you know it’s because they are rewarding you for doing what they wanted. They may avoid talking about your concerns, talk over you, or claim they want to talk but get upset or shut down if you say something like ‘hey, I’m not happy here, what can we do to change this?’ These spouses have a vision of what they want their life to be, and they are working towards that vision even if it’s not what you want or discussed. I had an ex like this- he claimed he wanted an equal life style, but he set things up so he only had time/energy/ability to do 20% of the chores (he took weaponized incompetence nuclear). If you give an inch, they will expect that you will always give an inch whenever they want, until you look back one day and realize they’ve taken a mile.

    6. Kella*

      Precedents in relationships are only enforced by the people in them. They can be and absolutely are renegotiated, though doing so takes explicit, honest communication and a willingness from both parties to collaborate and find shared goals.

      For OP5, they said this was a job they were planning on leaving anyway. It sounds like the location makes it not the ideal circumstances for searching but no reason to believe that OP’s new job won’t further their career.

      1. Forrest*

        Precedents in relationships are only enforced by the people in them

        yes, but when “the people in them” includes small children, it’s harder to get their buy-in for a re-negotiation!

        1. Person Person*

          You don’t need to make it a renegotiation, it can be part of the conversation now when you’re making the decision.

        2. Kella*

          I don’t think small children are generally weighing in on which parent’s career should be prioritized next. Yes, the needs of the kids are another variable to consider when deciding whether to do a big move but this thread was specifically discussing the decision between two spouses and the importance of one person’s career over another being the primary variable to consider.

          1. Still*

            Thank you! I wasn’t sure if Forrest’s comment was meant in a humorous way, but I had a strong reaction to it. Small kids are not a party in their parents’ relationship, and while their needs obviously matter, they should not get a say in their parents’ career or relationship decisions.

            1. Forrest*

              I meant that if the precedent is that one parent does more of the childcare, that’s a hard dynamic to shift. If you’re the preferred parent, the one the kids ask for, the one they fee most comfortable going to sleep with, the one who can most easily calm tantrums and sooth hurts who knows exactly how to make sandwiches right and which tshirt is acceptable, and then you and your partner make career decisions that mean they’re going to be doing much more childcare and you’re going to be out for longer, it’s going to be rough on everyone for a while. As adults you can make the decision that it’s going to be worth it, but it’s unlikey to be an easy or seamless transition for anyone.

              1. Still*

                Oh, for sure! The phrasing rubbed me the wrong way (when taken at face value), but I definitely appreciate the issues you’ve laid out.

    7. Tech worker*

      Agree that this is something to watch out for but it doesn’t have to become the precedent! I’ve known multiple couples where for a few years one person’s job was prioritized and the other person made sacrifices, but then the second person landed a great opportunity so the first person’s career took a backseat for a few years. It can be done!

      1. Deuce of Gears*

        This. It *can* become an unhappy precedent, but the key is the *relationship*. We moved a number of times for my husband’s job while I was the trailing spouse, generally working part-time and being the stay-at-home parent. But also, when against the odds I broke into the high-paying end of a novel-writing career and I had tight deadlines, or when I was sidelined by health, my husband stepped up and did the parenting and chores. There were two years I was so ill I could barely leave the bed and that only to eke out writing, and my husband and daughter took care of everything that I’d previously done in the way of chores, as well as other household stuff, as well as their work/school stuff, without my even having to ask them. I’m not saying it was always easy or smooth, but if you communicate well and respect each other, it can be done.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        I referred a friend to a job at my old company. She left after 4 months because her husband got a really excellent job–in El Paso. So they moved. When she gave notice, she told me that her husband had put her and her job first for YEARS, and because this was an amazing job he got after a long slog, it was time for putting him first. It’s all about the partnership!

    8. Forrest*

      I would, with qualifications, agree with this. I’m in a same-sex relationship, but sometimes it feels like a very traditionally-gendered relationship, with my partner making twice as much as I do and the kids defaulting to me as Main Parent. In terms of non-child household work, we do about equal amounts, and now the kids are school-age we do equal amounts of taking time off work for childcare. But in the early years a lot more fell to me, which means that it is much easier for me to calm tantrums, do bedtime, say no, and do light-touch supervision. (My partner ends up much more frazzled by five hours solo childcare because the kids need them to actively engage and will make way more demands, whereas if I say, “no, I’m busy, come back in half an hour” they’ll whine briefly, wander off and play and then come back in an hour.)

      My partner can quite easily go away for work for a few days at a time, and I’m quite happy managing the kids solo. The opposite feels pretty unreachable at the moment. I know a few families which seem to have much more equal childcare balances and where it’s pretty straightforward for either parent to go away for a few nights, and has been since the kids were very young, and sometimes that makes me kinda sad. Not so much because I want to go away, but because I think both my partner and my kids would both benefit from having the same kind of closeness and security with each other that they have with me. (And sometimes it is exhausting being the linchpin and repository of everyone’s emotional wellbeing!)

      So that would be my recommendation if you plan to have kids — really game this stuff out and make sure you’re on the same page about it. We were extremely equal in household tasks pre-kids, and I think we assumed it would just work out with the kids, but because I was more present and more confident with the very steep new-baby learning curve, it got way more unequal than I ever wanted and it’s very, very hard to change that later.

      1. LW #5*

        I’ve struggled with this thought a lot, and ultimately have landed on thinking that asking them to give up this offer is the equivalent of prioritizing my career over theirs (a similar offer in our current location is highly unlikely), so it comes down to apples to apples on that front. We’re a pretty equitable partnership (not perfect) and there are lots of things about this job that will increase their time with our child, not decrease. This is the first move I’ve agreed to after turning down earlier possibilities. But the rational calculation doesn’t always eclipse the fear and feelings on my side.

        1. Genevieve*

          That’s a very real fear, and I think we’re seeing how this can really play out in any way, depending on the couple. And those larger societal and familiar expectations (my Second-Wave mom hated it when I became a SAHM even though she did the same and it didn’t hurt her career) are tough.

          In our 15 years together, my husband and I have taken turns being grad students, breadwinner, stay-at-home parent, and also just Person Going Through It and in need of more support from the other one. At the moment we’re in traditional gender roles (I’m a SAHM and he works a ton), but every time we’ve switched roles has brought us more empathy, understanding, and flexibility. We’re looking at another role shift as our youngest gets ready to go to school and I contemplate going back to work. I’m ambivalent about work but I am excited for my husband to maybe find something that’s more fulfilling for him and lets him do more caregiving and house stuff.

          The through line here is communication and flexibility – if you have those, you can navigate anything. No single decision has to be permanent and you can always shift things around if a situation isn’t working. Good luck!

        2. NotYourMom*

          Figure out what you need in return for taking the backseat this time. Do you need a promise that next time it’s a your career/their career opportunity, you will be given right of first refusal? Financial support in getting additional certifications/qualifications? Support in time to spend on hobby interests? To not be asked to relocate again for another x number of years?

          Sometimes you do have to chose one career to prioritize, at least for a time. But don’t do it blindly.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            If you’re taking a financial hit in the move, I think you should make sure that your spouse is contributing to your retirement savings as well as their own.

    9. FashionablyEvil*

      I don’t agree that it’s necessarily a precedent. I’ve done four inter-state moves for my husband’s career but it’s always been a balance between us. We have explicitly agreed that sometimes one of us is leaning in and the other one is taking on more at home, etc. It’s really about communication, intentionality, and mutual respect.

    10. Emmy Noether*

      I agree. It’s not that it’s a precedent in the legal sense, but more of a self-perpetuating circle, like Wolf said. The trailing spouse finds a job, but it’s less ideal, so easier to give up the next time. Or it maximizes the family earning to prioritize another raise for the spouse that’s already ahead. Each time individually, it just “makes sense”, but in aggregate it’s unfair. If there are caring responsibilities, the trailing spouse often takes over more of that, and that’s its own self-perpetuating thing.

      That said, I’ve known couples that made a deal of x years for one, then x years for the other. It seems to have worked for them, but it takes a lot of trust and integrity. And luck.

    11. Magpie*

      It only sets a precedent if you both let it. Couples in these situations need to have lots of communication and make sure everyone is on the same page every step of the way. In the decade that my husband and I have been together, there have been periods that his job is the deciding factor in how our lives are structured, and other periods when mine took precedence. Right now his job is the priority but I know he would change things in a heartbeat if that was needed for my career or our family.

    12. HannahS*

      I find this warning important but also too absolute.

      I asked my spouse to leave his job and follow me for my career once and only once, and I am the higher earner. But we decided together that while the first X years of our marriage are devoted to my career (medicine,) once I’m established I’m not interested in climbing a prestige ladder. We are saving up to move to a city where I will work a normal job with flexible hours, and where he can focus more on his career.

      The gender dynamics are often unsaid but are important. I see the situation that Elisa described happen a lot when the a woman is partnered to a man; it’s easy to “set a precedent” and slide into a gendered dynamic where the man is the breadwinner and the woman watches the children. When I, as a woman, am in a “breadwinner” career, it’s a lot harder to slide into that dynamic, frankly because my partner feels entitled to the prioritozation of his career (not saying gendered dynamics are perfect in my partnership either!)

      All that to say: for the OP, talk about it before it happens and while it’s happening, and make conscious choices based on what you actually want. Our household income would be higher (like, “we could actually buy a house right now” higher) if we totally prioritized my career and kept his on the backburner forever. But it won’t make either of us happy, so that’s not what we’re doing.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Yup. I’m also in medicine and have always been the higher earner (usually at least twice as much as my spouse). I’m a cis woman married to a cis man who wanted an academic career and we explicitly agreed that I would be the trailing spouse because “I’m more portable.” It took me decades to realize that if the situation had been reversed I would have been the trailing spouse because “academic jobs are too hard to find and you won’t be earning as much money” – it was about his issues and our ingrained assumptions about gender.

        I am also sure that me being the higher earner is what kept us on a fairly equitable footing around household work and childcare. We will celebrate out 40th anniversary in December and we are only now really sorting out the impact of all those assumptions. For one thing, I never ever thought about my career trajectory because it never occurred me that I could have a choice about that.

        Would I do it differently? Probably not. If I’d insisted that he stop looking at academic jobs and stay put where I first started my career, I think it would have ended my marriage. I ended up with a satisfying and fulfilling and financially rewarding work life. I do wish I’d had more insight into my own process and had been more in touch with my own feelings.

    13. amoeba*

      LW has specified elsewhere that their partner is in academia. For that kind of position, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have to relocate – hopefully only once though, if you get tenure! So basically, if you’re in the more flexible job that’s more widely available geographically/remotely, it’s kind of the only way to do this – unless you want to ask spouse to give up their career. Which tends to be kind of a big deal for people in academia…

    14. Hyaline*

      I feel like this is not an “it will set a precedent” situation but an “it may, so be aware and think through that element–and talk about it.” There are so many variables–one that I think does deserve some attention here is that spouse’s field is hard to break into, but it seems LW’s field is not. That may negate precedent-setting once they’re both established. Other variables not addressed in the letter may include opportunities for upward mobility in each career path, normalcy of moving to grow in your career, where the plateau on the career is, and their personal goals of family, location, work-life balance. This is a pretty pessimistic outlook for a not-very-detailed letter.

      I’m sorry that happened to you, and it’s something LW should consider, but it’s not universal.

    15. Elephant*

      I don’t know that “precedent” is the best way to think of this, but I agree that it is possible for a couple to unconsciously understand that one spouse’s career is so much more important that everything else is secondary, and yes, that breeds resentment. It’s not a thing that definitely happens, but it is a thing that CAN happen. I’m the trailing spouse; my husband is in the military. We had agreed he would retire at 20 years. For various reasons, some of which were his career potential, we changed our minds and he’s still in at 21.5. The plan now is 23.5 years and then he retires. He recently came to me with a job he was interested in in Europe. Important work that I knew he would find value in, and that might help in his post military career. But I said no, we’re not moving this family again. The kids have lives here they love and I just started a new job that I love, and we are not uprooting all that because of his career. And he was absolutely fine with my answer. It’s not a given that the trailing spouse’s choices are secondary!

    16. Daisy-dog*

      I’m really sorry that this happened in your circumstances. But this isn’t a zero sum game. One person can end up in the same (and even better) circumstances even if the reason they quit was to move for their spouse.

    17. Reebee*

      I dunno…I mean, just because something happened to you doesn’t mean that’s how the situation goes for everyone.

    18. ThatOtherClare*

      Sigh. Come on men, I know you’re better than this.

      I wrote an essay to respond to this comment, but you don’t need it. All you need is to read comments like this and then have the strength and courage to call out such behaviours in the men around you (including yourselves).

      Don’t buy into the lie that stereotypically masculine traits are bad and will inevitably turn you into a misogynist. I entreat you to use your strength, courage, stubbornness, intelligence, competitiveness, planning skills, practicality, cunning, and yes, even your rage. Use them to fight back against the lies that have taken on lives of their own, infecting the minds of the men and women around you. Ok, sometimes that means you might suffer by not getting a promotion because “you spend too much time looking after your kids” or “you told Kate she gets half your pay” or whatever, but you’re strong! you have dignity! you can take it!

      99.5% of you aren’t villains. But we need you to stop listening to the villains telling you to act like NPCs and step up into your role as one of the heroes.

      I’m looking forward to cheering the tales of your exploits as you become trailing spouses, boost female colleagues in meetings, and take lower paying jobs so that you can play with your kids all summer.

      Whoops, looks like I wrote a different essay – but I like the ending of this one better. You’ve got this. We believe in you.

  8. RCB*

    For the office cryer I was on the side of “let this go” until I got further down and they mentioned DAILY. I thought every few weeks she’s given an assignment and cries for 5 minutes, which is annoying but it is what it is, but daily is an entirely different matter!

    Also, when I was reading and thinking that the answer was very obvious and it seemed like OP had addressed all of the issues and had no reason to write in (I was wrong once I got down further), I had a funny image of OP having noticed the cryer reading AAM on her computer one day and had the brilliant idea of writing in to “ask for help” with the office cryer, knowing that the office cryer would read it, see the error of their ways, and change, and I was equally impressed at the maneuver and appalled at the lengths they went through to avoid directly managing their employee.

    And I think it’s time for bed, my brain is clearly fried.

    1. Frequency?*

      I don’t see where it says daily?

      I’m also on the let it go side of things, but also might change my mind if it is, in fact, daily.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        It says every time she gets an assignment. I have no idea how law offices work, and how frequently a senior paralegal would get an assignment. You could tell me three times a day, or once every four weeks, and I’d believe you.

      2. RCB*

        He said “…they get a bit freaked out about our culture (which is pretty laid back, despite the daily crying interruptions)”, so that’s where I saw it and it made me change my perception of the situation as daily is definitely too much.

    2. Summer*

      AAM is the blog where you want to share it with everyone because it’s so wonderful. But you also hope that certain people are not reading it so they didn’t figure which comments are yours. And yes, I know that’s at least a little paranoid.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m always paranoid about what I write. No individual comment is that revealing but in the aggregate it wouldn’t take that long for my coworkers to recognize me!

        1. PhyllisB*

          I don’t have to worry about coworkers because I’m retired now, but my kids and grandkids because I have discussed them a lot. if they ever read this site they would immediately know it’s me, but I don’t worry about it because I’ve never said anything on here that I wouldn’t want them to read, and because I know they won’t read it anyway. (I’ve tried to encourage them to!!) However, I have had them ask me, “Hey Mom/Gram!! What would your friend Alison say about this?” So they know.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, I was also on the side of “let it go” until I got to “daily.” Daily!!?

  9. Greg C.*

    LW #5, I assume that you’ve already checked with your current job if they’d like to have you working remotely. If you haven’t – and it’s at all feasible with your job – it’s worth asking when you’re ready to resign; you literally have nothing to lose at that point.

    1. LW #5*

      I wish! Given the current position, it’s a hard no, but that’s not the norm for this field and most relevant remote options are classified as “anywhere in the US” rather than state-bound, outside of the ones requiring residence in our current pre-move location.

  10. TheBunny*


    Has anyone asked WHY she is crying? It sounds like efforts to comfort haven’t been successful, but I think you need to at least find out why… you say she’s a top performer, but I wonder if it’s something in the way assignments are given that upsets her?

    Despite all of it being odd, it strikes me as particularly odd that it only happens when assignments are given and not in other stressful times at work.

    Please please please update us!

    1. emmelemm*

      Yeah, especially when you’re working on big lawsuits or going into a trial, I would expect crying at the very stressful crunch times, but not at the very beginning!

  11. Yvette*

    LW1 have you thought about bringing her to your office, giving her her new assignment and saying, “I’ll let you have some privacy to process this”, having a box of tissues within reach, leaving and closing the door behind you? She’ll have privacy, and you said it never really lasts more than five minutes or so.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I see where you are coming from but I think this is the wrong approach, because it legitimises the idea that a new work assignment is something that has to be “processed” and that of course you will give her the privacy to do so. “I’ll let you have some privacy to process this” is only really applicable to ‘bad news’ sort of situations, imo.

      I often say on here that the first step in fixing a situation or behaviour is to understand the motivation for why it’s happening (and people always disagree with me on this and say the motivation isn’t important, what’s important is getting it to stop… yes but understanding ‘why’ gives you the way in to ‘how’!) and I think it’s true in this case. By working around her and accepting that these crying interludes will happen every time she gets new work – OP and everyone in the office are treating them as inevitable, an external factor. The difficult part here is giving legitimacy to her feelings, as they are real and “factual”, without accepting them as an external constraint.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        It’s also the wrong approach for the dynamics of a law office. A paralegal is given an assignment by a lawyer who is sitting at their desk going over a file. Leaving the file means interrupting your own work flow and thought processes so the other person can have some mments of privacy. It would be more disruptive to the work day to do that.

        Also, probably upset the paralegal even more to have attention called to her crying. Better to name the pattern and ask for solutions because daily crying is also not great for work flow and thought processes.

        1. Maggie*

          Exactly. Lawyers are working on billable hours and have strict rules for billing a certain amount in a given time. They can’t bill their client for paralegal crying time. They need their office to work in and to be able to give a paralegal and assignment throughout the day.

    2. Maggie*

      Presumably OP needs their office to work in. They need to just ask the paralegal why she is crying so they can address the issue. It’s not reasonable that a paralegal would need to borrow an attorneys office to cry EVERY time they get an assignment. I’ve worked at law office and that is so wildly out of step with how they operate, even with the most tolerant and kind lawyers.

  12. TheBunny*


    So this may (or may not) have happened to me (or someone I know…ahem it was me. )

    At a former job I was out of work friends with my boss (a long story don’t judge).

    We had a corporate meeting, our department and a couple others.

    The location was outside of DC but close enough that it wasn’t a totally crazy Uber $$$ to get there, so we made plans for the “free” evening that was planned to allow us a break from the whole group.

    Well… that was a darn inclusive group, let me tell you. It’s possible there was some sneaking down back hallways, stairwells, and Uber drivers who knew the area we’ll enough to drop us off at the back entrance of the hotel so we could have a better chance of sneaking in.

    All of this was to avoid absolutely no one… we just wanted to go to a meal that was more our speed, at a more upscale location, and not try to keep the meal under $25 with tip. Oh and we wanted a drink.

    This rather ridiculous (alledged) story is just to say that it really might not have been you…or at least not you in a personal way.

    Sometimes people just want to do their own things. And would I have done this with anyone but that Boss? Absolutely not. (We’re still friends today and no longer coworkers so we survived that.)

    1. ferrina*

      Yeah. LW says it’s “not the same as socializing without the boss”, but it is socializing without the boss. Sometimes you only want to socialize with certain people. Most people will feel like they need to censor themselves more around a new boss, especially before they know the boss. Even then, yes, sometimes I like hanging out with only particular people at work. Or we are going to talk politics because we share similar beliefs, or we’ll talk about a TV show that we’re all watching, or we vent about work in a way we can’t with the boss there.
      LW is taking it way too personally.

  13. Nodramalama*

    LW4 when we conduct interviews there’s a dedicated note taker. I find it helpful so I can focus on what the person in front of me is saying.

    1. BossySeniorParalegal*

      LW1 – I am a paralegal. If she’s the senior paralegal and their best worker, there’s a really high chance she’s being over-assigned cases and picking up everyone else’s slack on top of it – not because y’all are mustache-twirling villains, just that the culture in a lot of law offices goes that way. Ask me how I know. I’m getting whiffs of major burnout and anxiety here and in addition to communicating with her properly about the crying, I’d highly suggest taking a really good look at her workload.

      1. BossySeniorParalegal*

        of course I’m the worst at this and couldn’t even post to the right thread. sorry!

      2. Bast*

        I’ve BTDT and could write the book. For a time, I worked in a firm with a similar dynamic, and the way that it was written made me question if it were the same firm — 5 paralegals with “varying abilities.” In my case, it meant 2 people who did nothing but it was an office where “we don’t fire people” so everyone else had to pick up the slack, 1 that was very good, but part time, 1 that was decent at doing exactly what you told her to do, but not great at problem solving or thinking through a problem, and me. At the time, I was also a paralegal, and I had almost triple the caseload of the 2 do nothings (who people actively avoided asking to do anything, because they knew it likely wouldn’t get done) and still a few dozen more cases than the other two. I was constantly swamped, as I was the “go to” person for everything. It was overwhelming, and while I didn’t cry, I did tend to dissociate and became an “answering my emails at 10 pm, even though I am off the clock” person to catch up and alleviate my stress about things piling up. I was always told to take it as a compliment, as it meant I was trusted to do the work well, but I was so burnt out and miserable. I can easily see where my dissociating could be crying for someone else.

  14. nekosan*

    I feel like I a frequent crier, but I cry at work less than once a year.
    If I have a private office, I close the door.
    If I don’t, I go and take a walk around the block to calm down.
    I have on very rare occasion gone home and taken a half day off.
    In the past I’ve been told that it was okay to take the nursing room for crying, Personally, I was never comfortable with that, because I didn’t want to interfere with others who may need it for the labeled use. (My current workplace labels it a “wellness room”, so that feels less invasive to use.)
    I don’t want others to see me crying; I find it kind of odd that the cryer doesn’t automatically recuse herself. Maybe she doesn’t think or care how it affects others? Requesting she take some time in private for a cry is completely reasonable.

  15. Glazed Donut*

    LW4, I think you’re reading too much into this. You really can’t jump to conclusions that someone is working against you based off note taking…similarly to how you shouldn’t rush to judgement about use punctuation in an email, or if the person was wearing a blazer to interview you, or if you had to wait 10 minutes, or if the person didn’t smile at all, or…any number of things.
    You’d really need multiple data points to come to a solid conclusion, and I don’t think note taking and a look are enough here.

  16. Despachito*

    LW1 – I would definitely want to know what is going on – is it just an usual part of her processing and no big deal (then I would recommend her to go somewhere quieter), or is there something we need to address.

    If I was her I think it would help to say “it’s a thing I can’t help, no big deal, in 5 minutes it will be over and I am ready to go” if it is the case, to stop people worrying because any decent person would.

    1. TPS Reporter*

      yeah I was thinking it’s entirely possible it’s just an automatic reaction she can’t control and maybe she really don’t have strong emotions behind it. I do hope she’s okay and not dealing with something major, and that talking to her helps sort out what’s going on.

  17. Kella*

    OP4, I’m a bit concerned at the antagonistic way you’re responding to this interview. You start your letter with “How am I supposed to deal with an interviewer who seemingly isn’t taking notes…” but… there is nothing to deal with. You have not been presented a challenge of any kind. Someone was taking notes. I’m not clear on how the interviewer that invited you letting someone else take notes would qualify as “stringing you along.” Do you think it would be worth their time to have three people attend an interview that they had no intention of considering? Probably not.

    With regards to this interview, there is nothing to solve. But perhaps take this as a sign that whatever is going on with the other boss may have warped your norms and you are expecting a level of hostility and unprofessionalism that is not common outside that specific person/department.

    1. Sharpie*

      I think it’s not only that this interviewer wasn’t taking notes but she looked askance at the person who was, giving the impression that she would rather the LW hadn’t been invited to interview at all because she seemed so uninterested in what they had to say.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Upthread there’s a note that this was a government agency, who are subject to FOIA requests, and so for some jobs it’s the norm to take no notes so there’s nothing to request.

      2. Kella*

        Noticing a look that you interpret as annoyance is still not in any way an indicator that the interview is “stringing you along.” You could be wrong about it being annoyance, it could be about something other than note taking or about the *way* he was taking notes not the fact that he was taking them. And even if OP was entirely right that the interviewer was annoyed at the note taker for taking notes… that still doesn’t tell you anything about her feelings about the interview itself or whether her feelings are her own or she’s been pushed into them by a specific toxic boss. There are SO many leaps to create a story here, and OP seems genuinely frustrated and upset by a brief strange moment. The note taking, or lack thereof, is clearly not the central problem.

    2. londonedit*

      I agree. It seems like there’s something going on that’s warping the OP’s sense of perspective. I get the feeling they think it’s somehow disrespectful for the interviewer not to be taking notes – as if they don’t really care about what they have to say, or they don’t really want to be interviewing them, or they’re just going to throw their CV straight in the bin after the interview. But many, many people don’t take notes during an interview – I certainly haven’t any time I’ve been involved with interviewing. I keep the key points in my head and write them down afterwards if I need to. It’s entirely possible that the interviewer simply wanted to be fully engaged with the conversation, rather than stopping to take notes. It’s an odd take to read anything nefarious or disrespectful into it.

    3. Nebula*

      Yes, I did wonder this about the whole ‘sighed and looked exasperated with the person taking notes’ thing. Maybe she was annoyed at him for taking notes, maybe she was annoyed at him for something else, maybe she wasn’t annoyed at all and she was just a bit tired after doing interviews all day – who knows? It seems to me like the LW was reading too much into that.

      1. londonedit*

        Or it’s perfectly possible that the OP’s hackles were already raised for whatever reason, and they interpreted a simple look as ‘Oh well that’s yet more evidence that this interviewer hates me’.

      2. Seashell*

        I agree. Drawing any kind of deep conclusion from that seems unlikely to be accurate, and worrying that it all means this person knows your bad boss and therefore is not going to consider you is a gigantic leap in logic, verging on paranoia.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      I was trying to figure out how to describe this, and the word “antagonistic” is the perfect description. It’s like LW is going into battle, rather than an interview.

  18. Brain the Brian*

    Oh my heavens, those old Tiger Mike memos again. They always make me lose it. And this modern-day version is little better! Good grief. Of course, we did once have someone perp-walked out of the company picnic for setting up portable grills “incorrectly” (read: perfectly fine, just not to the boss’s personal liking), so I guess every workplace has its stories of wacky, awful bosses.

    1. Zelda*

      And several of the comments on that 2010 post are weirdly pro-Tiger Mike. They just read about some guy who announces out of the blue on a Friday that everyone will be working 5 hours on Saturday, no exceptions, and their response may be paraphrased as “You tell ’em, Mike! Your way or the highway!”

      1. Genevieve*

        Yeah I went and read those comments, too, and was surprised. It would appear that either society or Alison’s readers (or both?) have really shifted in the last 14 years.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Both, in a loooooooot of ways. Fourteen years ago, we were in the midst of the Great Recession, with a massive, seemingly intractable unemployment problem. The economy was very different.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          As Brian said, both. Also, there were only 14 comments on the original post so it’s a much smaller sample of people than the current comments section. And of those, 6 said they would want to work for Tiger Mike.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      I didn’t laugh once reading those. I don’t care how good the pay was; I just feel sorry for everyone who had to work for that conceited jackhole.

    3. Clorinda*

      I don’t think this manager knows what a tweak is. Tweak=just a little fine tuning, we found something that could be marginally improved. Meanwhile he’s over there all HOW COULD YOU FORGET THE ALL IMPORTANT TWEAK YOU INCOMPETENT TOADS!

      1. Zelda*

        And it is, by definition, an adjustment after the main work is done. If it were built in from the beginning, it wouldn’t be a tweak, it would just be the project specs. All this “how could you miss this” makes it sound like this manager doesn’t get it that *the tweak didn’t exist* before!

  19. cleardot.gif*

    Amazing. LW #1 throws in an email tracking pixel to know when their message got read, and we all get to see it.

    1. Cleardot.gif newbie*

      Is that what that means? I figured it was a typo but have no clue what the context is.

    2. Anne*

      The cleardot thing? I thought it was a reaction gif or something like that. What an odd choice.

    3. Nebula*

      Oh wow, my eyes skipped over that entirely, I had to go back to see what you were talking about. Some quick googling suggests some email clients add this in automatically, so maybe they’re not doing it deliberately. Still interesting.

  20. Anima*

    #2: Ooooh, I work at a company that does geht those “tweak” (that are really full blown features) requests! But my boss is sensible, he either sees we need that tweak and pus it in the next sprint or talks it out with the people wanting the “tweak”. You boss is a loon. (And I’m glad the people the mail was directed to left for greener pastures.)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do you think this is a bug or a case of the customers changing the specs? Because if it’s scope changing sometimes the answer has to be sent the customer back to management to pay more for a new feature. Sometimes it’s a problem with capturing specs, but oh so often it’s a problem with a contract that doesn’t get payment when the originally described product is delivered.

      Bugs are the kind of thing captured in a QA process–is there one or are all developers checking their own work? Anyone who’s found a typo after pressing send on an email or blog comment knows how hard it is to proofread our own work.
      Add a tight deadline and it’s harder.

      To be honest, the hostility in this pushes me into assuming the worst about Angry Boss’s own involvement in planning & QA.

    2. Angstrom*

      Said no client ever: “We knew exactly what we wanted when we started this project, and nothing has changed.” ;-)

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        The number of times the client doesn’t know they want something until they see the finished product is darn close to 100%

        1. 2 Cents*

          100000% I’m on the copy side of things, so it’s “hmm, the headline HAS to look like this?” (Yeah, that’s what it looked like in every.single.design.mockup. we showed you). And I’ve sat in on meetings where the poor dev team has to explain “so to do X, that you’re now asking for, as the project is nearly finished, was something that should’ve been built in from day 1…”

        2. Brain the Brian*

          Not with software, necessarily, but I am like this with a lot of work. Having some sort of mockup or rough draft gives me something to get my mind turning, while I am often at a complete loss if I have to start from scratch or come up with a concept from a blank canvas.

      2. JustaTech*

        Lol! Our client is currently “hey, we’re changing the process we need you to run on a daily basis, so we’ll just update the protocol as we go, and also we still haven’t decided [Major Thing] so can you just be prepared to do it either way, even though they’re completely different with completely different materials and we’ll decide 3 days before you start?”

        It’s a good thing they’re nice people who are paying for all this uncertainty.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t even do software, and I find the boss puzzlingly clueless about that.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      All I can think is that boss works for a company working on Horizon 2.0.

      Would explain so much — we don’t have mistakes in the software, its people who are the problem.

    5. BennyJets*

      Yeah I’m pretty sure this boss is the future version of the guy from the other day who made the mistake in his interview (and life) of thinking he makes no mistakes.

      The client says we didn’t get it perfect the first time! What the f people?! >>goes away grumbling about how the robot army can’t come fast enough<<

  21. Chanel No. π*

    LW1: With the disclaimer that I’d think Niobe would have told you this by now, is it possible that she’s seen, and taken to heart, the movie Broadcast News?

    There’s a scene, early on, with Holly Hunter’s character in a room by herself. She unplugs the phone, then sits and mildly cries for a few minutes, then plugs the phone back in and goes on with her work. I mean, she’s doing it on a schedule, and Niobe seems to have a set pattern for her weeping, so maybe she’s doing this for the same reason.

    Hunter did a lot of research for her role, and interviewed numerous women who worked in TV news. And there was one recurring theme: “XYZ happened, which is not a good thing. So I went home and I cried; then I recovered by doing ABC.” So she told this to the director, screenwriter or both, and that scene was added to the script. The idea is, get the tension out before it really builds up. And do it on the regular, like exercise.

    Again, I think by now she would have said, “This is my coping mechanism,” if that was the case. Also, she’s skipping the *going home* part; I mean, can she go to the women’s room, her car, the stairwell, someplace where everyone doesn’t hear her? But that’s where my mind went.

    1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      Five stars for the Greek mythology reference! I had completely forgotten that story.

  22. Not Jen from The IT Crowd*

    #2 – sounds like a previous – toxic! – manager of mine. Glad to be out of it!

    #5 – good luck in your job hunt! 1 month is nothing, though. Unfortunately I’m into month 8 now of job-hunting (although I’m an ND female of a certain age in a male-dominated industry, so I’m not surprised it’s taking me a while )

  23. Yellow rainbow*

    LW5 the simple fact is nobody can tell you whether you are seriously limiting your career or destroying your life by making this move that is focused on following your partner. But you’ll quickly destroy your relationship if you see this as then harming your career – rather than a decision you’ve made (yes that benefits them) hopefully together.
    My advice – do not move somewhere you don’t see yourself being happy. If you do follow for a longer term job you need veto rights (if I’m not happy in a year we move). You might be happy to move provided you can stay in the same industry, or live by the beach. Or if your career is really important, it might be that you’re only happy to move if it also benefits your career.

    If you have a good relationship your partner cares about you being happy – so you need to talk about the impacts.

    If you do the trailing spouse thing – financial counselling is essential. While your relationship is good you need to deal with financial fairness. If you limit your income by following – does your partner understand the family impact of that (ie that you earn less and that’s because of you prioritising their career). You might find yourself topping up retirement savings in an unequal way ; more for you – cause if the financial risk you are taking). Do you have appropriate income, disability and death insurances?

    Personally I think a couple who are highly career focused will struggle to stay together and advance their careers with equal opportunity unless they are willing to live separately at times OR they have careers that keep them geographically in the same area. My own career has few openings, often only a few(or 1) employers in a town, and has an expectation that you move around to get experience. When two people in my industry couple – they either live separately, are incredibly lucky to find career advancement in step with each other in the same town – or someone sacrifices advancement so the other can have it. Well that or both sacrifice career advancement (not that advancement had to be your goal).

    1. LW #5*

      I appreciate this perspective. The financial questions have been addressed, I have time to search. Especially moving from a HCOL area to a dynamic but relatively LCOL spot. Thinking through these comments I think a lot of my struggle is internal — as a 30 something woman who grew up watching her breadwinner mother struggle for recognition and stability in a male-dominated field, it feels like prioritizing my family (this move will be very good for our family, opportunities and time together) is the opposite of what I’m supposed to do as the millennial daughter product of those sacrifices. Hence wondering if this is more of a therapy question than a real job concern :)

      1. Boof*

        I totally get it, and yeah, maybe it is a therapy or at least an internal “check your biases”. I’ve sometimes struggled with whether to do things the “feminist” way or my way (I’m really very not at all traditionally femme but in a few areas, like prioritizing work life balance over rank/leadership, maybe I am) – at the end of the day the point of feminism was not to lock you into the patriarchal way of doing this but to be able to find your own way with equal freedom to everyone else, and different people find different priorities appealing :) At least that’s what I think, and I’ve found it very comforting to let go of a few notions of how I “should” be I’d picked up even as a bit of an indy/alt person.

        1. BigLawEx*

          I *wish* my mother had been that pushy. Despite growing up in a progressive family where most of the women worked, my mother really pushed me to follow my spouse from NYC to small midwestern city. Because I was a lawyer then, I took the bar in the small state with only one urban area – which severely limited my own prospects. (We didn’t stay – I pushed to get back to a big city).

          Looking back I can see that my 24-year-old self should not have been making those decisions and someone playing devil’s advocate – or any advocacy may have made me think.

          I appreciate the idea of parental pushback (as long as it’s not inappropriate). It’s a big ongoing conversation in a partnership which among my peer group has mostly been disadvantageous for the women in a heterosexual partnership and the trailing spouse in same-sex partnerships.

      2. 20 Points for the Copier*

        It may be. Also, moving for a spouse’s job does not mean your career will always be secondary. My husband went to grad school and went into an academic-adjacent field and I moved for him twice. I (a woman) struggled a lot with what that meant and whether it was putting my career on hold, but 15+ years after the first move and 10 years after the second, things have settled very well for me. I did need to be pretty firm that a third move wasn’t happening, but now I’m at a point where I’m very happy and fulfilled in my (predominantly male) field and make almost twice what he does.

        I probably wouldn’t have found the specific field I’m in without moving for him the first time and wouldn’t have structured my work life exactly the way I did if it weren’t for the second move. While it felt for a while like these moves were holding me back, in the end they are part of what got me to where I am.

  24. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles*


    This email was sent to approximately a dozen recipients, employees and managers, and almost all of them have since resigned from the company.

    It would have served this boss right if all of those recipients had resigned immediately and gone to work for the client.

    1. hello*

      I don’t think working for the client would be an improvement, they seem to be making unreasonable requests of the LW’s company.

  25. BigLawEx*

    LW#5 did NOT mention gender, but women as trailing spouses can be a huge problem for marriage, society, etc. I wonder if the parents are focusing on ‘remote’ to tiptoe around the other issue of what they perceive as unfair sacrifice.

    The parent issue is easily solved by setting a boundary about that conversation.

    Now that I’m in my 50’s so many of my friends and I talk about this phenomenon where we went to college/graduate school and careers have been minimized/abandoned in favor of the spouse with the ‘big’ job.

    Unless everyone lives in a big city/HCOL area I don’t know how to manage two robust careers well and it’s an unfortunate dilemma not easily solved.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      We did it, but it requires conversation and compromise. My wife is in an academic field. I am in a software-related field. We talked during each of her moves (only two; we met in graduate school, she did one postdoc and then got a permanent job) about places that would satisfy us both. I would research the job market in a city where she was considering applying for a job and give her a thumbs up or down. Some places we ruled out together as not being OK for a queer couple. We’ve been here for 12 years now and are both successful.

      As with many things, couples that don’t have preconceived societal gender expectations to fall back on (who will be the trailing spouse, who does which chores, whose name is first on the daycare contact list) ALWAYS talk about these things, which I wish more people did.

  26. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    LW1: Look upon it this way – if she shouted ‘YEY!’ every time you gave her an assignment and danced for joy you’d still tell her to do it somewhere else or knock it off. If a behaviour is causing disruption (and this sounds like it is) it’s always worth asking them to take it somewhere private or tone it way down.

    If she honestly can’t stop crying she can do it in the bathroom.

  27. CityMouse*

    You obviously can’t tell the paralegal to stop crying at work, but she does need to manage this better as it really isn’t okay to have coworkers listening to crying all the time. like go into an empty conference room and listen to some music, but her process cannot be imposed on other people. Obviously when something bad happens it’s one thing, but if this a regular part of her process for an everyday job task, she has to find a better way to handle this.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    I just did not expect to be searching out of necessity so soon, and did not expect to need to dive into the remote work world given our relocation destination away from our current metropolitan hub

    If looking for an on-site job in the new location not an option?

    1. sparkle emoji*

      Depending on the field it may not be. I’m sure the LW has considered this and knows whether on site is a realistic possibility in the new area.

  29. MollyGodiva*

    LW #1 She sounds like she might be neruodivergent, or high anxiety, or has difficulty processing emotions. Crying is her coping mechanism and does not affect the work. Do not interfere with her coping mechanism. A commenter suggested giving her assignments in private and I like that idea.

    1. RVA Cat*

      But it does effect her work and everyone else’s for the distraction and impact on morale.
      While it’s more emotionally loaded, maybe they should approach the audible aspect as being like someone in that open area taking all their calls on speaker?
      As for the coping mechanism, if she was a smoker whose ritual was to go have a cigarette after a new assignment, she’d go where that was allowed and no one would bat an eye.

    2. Abigail*

      “Do not interfere with her coping mechanism.”

      Accommodation means the employee is entitled to an interactive process. It does not mean the employee is entitled to cope any way they want.

    3. CityMouse*

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting she can’t cry at work, but she needs to find a way to do it so her colleagues can’t hear her. Private space, playing some music to cover the sound, something. It’s okay to have your own thing going on, but you can’t distress your coworkers over it.

    4. Colette*

      Her coping mechanism is making her coworkers uncomfortable. That’s a problem, and does affect the work.

      1. MollyGodiva*

        Giving the person private space would work. What I am saying is that making her feel bad for crying, or trying to stop her is the wrong answer.

        1. Boof*

          I don’t think anyone wants to make her feel bad for crying, but the fact is, crying makes most empathetic fellow humans feel distressed. So yes, I think stopping her from crying in public/where her coworkers have to then manage their own emotions and anxieties about it needs to happen.
          It can be addressed in a sympathetic manner but continuing as is isn’t ok.

        2. Colette*

          It sounds like there is private space available, but she’s choosing to sob in public. That doesn’t mean the OP should try to make her feel bad for it, but if the OP addresses it kindly and she still feels bad, that’s on her. She doesn’t get to hold the office hostage because of her emotions.

          I’m going to be honest; the first time she sobbed at her desk, I’d feel sorry for her. By the third time, I’d think she was trying to manipulate those around her. And this is happening daily. It’s not reasonable to expect her coworkers to work in that kind of environment – and it’s not fair to her to not give her a chance to change.

      2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

        Fidgets make some people uncomfortable too. At some point people get to manage their own discomfort.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Nope. Your (insert mental illness, neuro status, emotional state, medical conditions, trauma, and everything else) may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility. And part of that responsibility is not negatively impacting other people.

      While I can be sympathetic, I am also not willing to tolerate a person crying on a regular basis like this individual is. I don’t want to see or hear it, or even be aware of it. So, either figure out how to meet that bar or stop crying.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      As someone with a myriad of mental issues I do not like this ‘this person might have X therefore it’s their standard mechanism and you have to accomodate it’ being used for behaviours that affect others.

      I’d much rather someone called me out on uncomfortable behaviour than tiptoed around it thinking it’s my ‘right’.

  30. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    OP4: FWIW, I rarely take notes in an interview while talking to the candidate. It’s more compatible with my learning style to leave the notes aside (they distract me) while talking to the candidate, but to go back and jot down my key takeaways immediately after each candidate.

    Re: the exasperated thing, I wouldn’t put too much weight on it – you don’t really know this interviewer well enough to know if you read those cues right. It’s information, for sure – if you see them acting visibly exasperated elsewhere in the process that would be something to pay attention to, or maybe you could explore more what they’re like to work with by talking to their peers or direct reports – but not necessarily a red flag.

    I have also definitely led interviews where someone who was on the panel as a “consulted,” not the decision-maker, wanted to write down every word, kept slowing us down to do so, interrupted the flow of conversation and made it difficult to get all my follow-up questions in. I certainly felt exasperated with them. That had nothing to do with them taking notes, it had to do with them not being aware that their desire for detailed notes was lower priority than my need to get all my questions in.

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        No no, that’s twerking. A tweak is a period of seven days, generally starting on a Sunday.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          No that’s a week. A tweak is a word that is an old fashioned contraction of “it was” that begins a popular Christmas tale.

            1. Lexi Vipond*

              No, that’s teak. Tweak was that old TV show where Laura somebody was murdered.

              1. SOUPervisor*

                No, that’s Twin Peaks. A tweak is a thick cut of beef or other high-quality meat or fish

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This was a lovely moment on this season of Top Chef: a chef admitted that the recipe didn’t quite work yet. “I would need to twerk.”

      3. JustaTech*

        I once had a coworker ask me what the difference was between a tweet and a twerk. (We’re age peers, she just spent very little time online.)
        It was very early in the morning, so I decided the simplest way to explain was to show her what twerking was.
        She thought it was hilarious, and thanked me for not just using my words.

  31. Policy Wonk*

    #3 – when we are out of town I often make it a point not to join dinners with my immediate reports. Everyone needs time away from the boss!

  32. too many dogs*

    To LW #4: I don’t take notes when interviewing prospective employees because we were taught that those notes can be subpoenaed if the applicant is angry enough at not being hired to sue, or if they think they were denied employment because of race, gender, ethnicity, etc.

  33. HonorBox*

    I don’t want to be unsympathetic related to the crier in the first letter, but if every time there’s a new assignment, they’re crying, it would be troubling to me as a coworker. People have emotions, and some people’s emotions are expressed through tears. That’s totally OK. But if this is a regular occurrence and people are actively avoiding the crier, there’s something that needs to be addressed. If someone can hear it 30 feet away, what if clients are there and hear it? Or are coworkers also avoiding asking her for help? Giving feedback? There’s a work issue here because this happens regularly. Provided the employee is OK and there isn’t something more under the surface, it isn’t unreasonable to ask her to find a space that doesn’t disrupt everyone else so she can process in her way.

    1. Managing While Female*

      I feel like it would also make me hesitant to give her new assignments because who wants to deal with the crying afterward?

        1. Silver Robin*

          Except she also does good work once the crying is over and is regarded well for it. If she were trying to get out of doing assignments, I would have expected more mediocre performance, honestly.

    2. CityMouse*

      I had a trainee once who cried when she got any form of feedback, no matter how gently delivered, even though we emphasized over and over that needing feedback was extremely normal, we absolutely expected a learning curve in the beginning. It made training her very hard. She ended up being transferred to the gruff mentor who didn’t try to deal with it at all, and that actually worked.

  34. Moved away*

    Re LW5:

    So, my husband was the trailing spouse when we relocated to a location closer to both of our parents when our oldest was a wee critter.

    A former boss of mine whom I held in extremely high regard, had discussed with me that he and his wife “took turns” when they prioritized leaning in/investing heavily in one career while the other partner focused on staying steady. Anytime there was an opportunity for either of them or a big thing to consider, they talked openly about where both were in careers an what it would mean.

    Hubster and I really took that to heart. He followed me to our new city, and soon after found a good job. Then in a few years he had the opportunity at a C-suite position right around when I really wanted to be scaling back a bit.

    Now he’s stepped back to launch a startup which means I’m the sole breadwinner. That’s also a decision we made together and set some boundaries around so that we are both comfortable and have ownership of the decision.

    What’s important here is that you are both communicating well about what these opportunities mean for each of you. Following your partner for a move doesn’t set you up for “always” being the trailing spouse (unless he’s military and that’s a whole other ball of wax). But you need to have open communications at every point and be honest with each other, and make these decisions together. If my husband had been unwilling for us to relocate, well, then we wouldn’t have done it. It was a one no, two yes kind of situation.

    (I am a regular poster here but am using a throwaway name because I refer a lot of people here and there’s enough in this post that anyone who knows me personally, will know instantly it’s me.)

  35. Red_Coat*

    I used to cry after getting assignments (collected medical records for second opinion case work). It was because my case load was 4x the ‘normal’ range, and I was still being expected to meet pre-COVID quotas and turn around times. I was completely burnt out and exhausted. But then I would dry my eyes and Just Get It Done, which means I was still classified as a high performer.

    Maybe start investigating why she’s crying.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      I can’t believe it took me this much scrolling to get to this response, but I finally found it. Yes, yes, yes. There’s a definite possibility that OP is overworked to exhaustion and new assignments are when the mask slips. Please encourage her to take some time off.

  36. Nancy*

    LW3: Employees don’t always want to have dinner with their boss. Inviting other staff members they are friendly with or it being whatever a ‘close-off of the off-site’ is doesn’t change that. Let it go.

  37. HungryLawyer*

    Fellow millennials, I am giving us all blanket permission to stop caring what our parents think about our jobs! We don’t need their permission or advice when it comes to our careers (or our lives in general).

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I think that’s a solid rule regardless of generation.
      Though it’s going to sting when it applies to the next one…

    2. Maggie*

      I’m also a millenial and I don’t understand why people even consult their parents on these subjects. Just do what you want. I do personally think it’s an unwise mistake to move for a partners job with nothing lined up, but I wouldn’t volunteer that information without being directly asked.

  38. el l*

    Investigate why she’s crying – at least, give some assurance beyond the partner conversation mentioned that it’s not something unreasonable she’s being asked.

    Assuming it really is just her process: I would treat it as being the same as if someone showed a pattern of being angry. (At least, angry in a non-dangerous way) Namely, this is making things really uncomfortable for everyone else.

  39. Phony Genius*

    On #2, I wonder what would happen if a copy of that e-mail happened to fall into the client’s hands. I know that it probably depends on the culture of the client company, but would they say anything to the software company president?

  40. Delta Delta*

    Lawyer here, and I have a lot of thoughts about the situation presented by OP 1.

    First – take an actual look at the paralegal’s workload and see if it is fair with respect to other paralegals in the office. Sure, she’s a “high performer” but it might be that a lot gets dumped on her because she’s a high performer, thus becoming sort of a self-perpetuating problem. This is something that can be solved by the attorneys assigning work in different ways. It actually probably doesn’t hurt to do this anyway.

    Second – ask her why she cries all the time. You can ask empathetically and directly. Listen to her answer, and if there are things you can do to alleviate the situation, do that. It could be as simple as sending her tasks to do via email rather than asking her verbally.

    Third – if all this fails, you may need to work somewhere else. I worked for several years in a toxic law firm (is there any other kind, really?) where all sorts of behavior by support staff – crying, teeth gnashing, stalling/procrastinating, doing tasks incorrectly on purpose, throwing things (yes, I had something thrown at me once for asking a question) was all tolerated and worked around like a broken stair. If your practice heavily relies on this support, you can’t continue working someplace where there isn’t appropriate support and where management allows this to happen. Don’t fall into the trap of doing your own support work because you don’t want to ask her to do it. Her job is to do those tasks.

  41. Helvetica*

    LW#5 – I am in a career where trailing non-working spouses used to be the norm but now of course it has become more trailing spouses who do work and we have to reconcile two careers. Additionally, in my career you are moving every 3-5 years between countries. So while your situation is a bit different, there is still some useful overlap.
    Overall the biggest suggestion I have is to be sure you both know the situation you will be in and what are the possibilities. It can be a short-term situation but if you end up not finding a new job soon, figure out what is the alternative – for you to live separately somewhere you do have a job? Pivot to a new career? Stay at home? A secret fourth option? There are alternatives and I encourage you to ensure that you know what is out there and what would work for you as a couple.
    The biggest downfall I have seen in this situation is not analysing the different options, how they may or may not work for your situation and where the compromise lies.

  42. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #5 – Leave it to parents to bring the worst feelings we have about ourselves. Do your parents seem like they understand the workforce or your current situation? If they’re anything like mine, they don’t understand remote work, they haven’t relocated since they were in their 20s, and they haven’t had to search for a job in ages. Take what they say with a grain of salt. But I can’t say whether or not you are “ruining your life”. I doubt it. I’m assuming you didn’t make a decision to quit your job on a whim and that you and your spouse thought through what it would mean to relocate for your career. You likely considered how easy it would be for you to find a job in your desired field. That being said, if you assumed that you would pick up a job in a month’s time, maybe you were unrealistic. Depending on your field of hire, you could be looking for awhile.

  43. BBB*

    I was in an interview like this once, it was really bizarre and threw me off.
    in my case, the first question out of the gate was about management experience despite NOTHING in the job description mentioning this was a management role. the interviewer sitting right next to me straight up set her pen down and visibly checked out for the rest of the interview. i obviously wasn’t offered the position lol.
    looking back it was just hella rude and unprofessional on her part and really poor planning on the company in general for their piss poor job description, seriously who hires for a management position without mentioning the word ‘management’ in the job ad?!

  44. ThatOneBoss*

    I had a boss, lo these many years gone, whose management style was incredible (in a good way).
    A lot of nonsense was coming down from the head office (located in another state) and myself and the other two women on the accounting team had taken up grumbling as an Olympic sport.

    One day, yet another annoying, non-urgent-but-suddenly-urgent, difficult-to-create report request was sent to our boss and he handed it off to me. I opened my mouth and he said, “You have five minutes to complain and then I need you to do it.”
    Best boss I’ve ever had.

  45. Selina Luna*

    #4: I cannot speak for your interviewer, but if I take notes, I am no longer actively listening to what you say. I am now listening in order to take notes. These are two such different brain spaces for me that taking notes also disallows conversation, and I am no longer able to conduct an interview adequately. I’m somewhat lucky in that I’ve only ever been a part of panel interviews (part and parcel for teachers), and so my fairly minimalist notes are perfectly adequate. But if I were the solo interviewer, and if I needed to back up my memory, I would probably do what I did for my master’s degree: I would record the interview and listen back or transcribe it later.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      ..as long as the interviewee is also okay with you recording it. Personally, I’d feel like I was being subjected to a police interrogation, I think! And it’d make my answers more stilted as I tried to make sure that when listening back I didn’t sound like a babbling fool. I make a few shorthand notes on the hard copy of the resume I bring with me, or maybe make an asterisk against a bullet point, etc… I don’t take full on notes, but in this case perhaps the guy was TASKED with taking the notes as a non-decision maker. We don’t really know.

      1. Selina Luna*

        Oh, certainly. I always ask first, then reaffirm permission at the beginning of the recording.
        I simply cannot take written notes and conduct an interview at the same time. Which is why every time I’ve interviewed, I’ve been on a panel. Stopping to write anything completely messes up my ability to listen.
        Also, police interrogations and interviews for various purposes feel nothing alike. I did recorded interviews for my degree and over Zoom for actual job purposes.

  46. RVA Cat*

    #2 and going down the Tiger Mike rabbit hole makes me realize this is my manager’s “communication style” though she is far below CEO.
    I’m not going to bother anonymizing because I am just That. DONE.

  47. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

    My heart goes out to the crying paralegal. The times I’ve cried at my desk (fortunately, I had a door to close or was WFH) was because of burnout.

    May or may not be the case here. May or may not be caused by the work environment (could be something else in her life). But I’d look at her workload with real scrutiny. Not just the volume of work but also the complexity.

    I was a high performer at both jobs where I burned out. And I quit them both because of the mental toll they were taking.

  48. tabloidtained*

    LW#1: It’s wild that she doesn’t excuse herself to go cry in the restroom or in her car or literally anywhere but at her desk, in full view of her coworkers! Does she want people to be uncomfortably aware that she’s crying?

    1. Petty_Boop*

      My thoughts too! Like okay some people have a weird way of processing and hers is to cry, seemingly at the thought of more work, I guess? But, unless she’s seeking attention, comfort, some sort of martyrdom, do it privately! Go for a walk around the outside if it’s nice. Go to the restroom. Go sit in the car. I mean ideally DON’T CRY, but if she just absolutely cannot help the crying, she can 100% help the location of it!

  49. Bluefairy*

    LW#1: in my younger days, I used to tear up at work when faced with anything that could be interpreted as a correction or criticism (hello recovering gifted child /perfectionist). however, I eventually figured out that it was more physiological than psychological! I was low-level dehydrated all the time and just had no buffer energy for emotional management. Once I got more intentional about drinking water and not going too long between snacks, it got much better. I still have an initial internal reaction, but it doesn’t come out in tears or other outbursts.

  50. Tired Introvert*

    Re: letter #1
    I’m also wondering if this is a stress thing? I’m a cryer myself, and a previous job had me in such a constant state of stress (crazy productivity expectations + no power over the size of my workload among other things) that I was crying at least once a week. But she should be ducking out to the bathroom or elsewhere! That’s a weird thing to do at your desk, especially noisily.

    1. MD2020*

      If you’re already beginning to cry, it’s kind of double-embarrassing to have to walk past everyone. Especially if you feel like everyone knows you’re running off to cry. We already live in the hell timeline, why is it so hard to sympathize with people who have a hard time controlling every emotion?

  51. Dawn*

    LW5: It’s been a while but my last job search took multiple months and I was mostly looking at fairly entry-level stuff, in a fairly decent job market. Job searching just takes time. A month is laughably short even before factoring remote work into it.

    Is your spouse earning enough that you can remain on one income for a while or indefinitely? Then this shouldn’t even be a question. It’s not “ruining your life” to be out of work for a bit and your parents are weird.

  52. Petty_Boop*

    #5: Just my two cents and of course anecdotal experience isn’t hard data, but as a military spouse who moved many times, sometimes after a couple of years, sometimes only 1 year in a location and a couple of 3- 4 year assignments out of country, I can tell you that being a “trailing spouse” is more common and understood than you think. Keep your resume up to date, start searching for jobs in your new area as soon as possible. I do wonder why you seem to be ONLY looking for remote jobs, though? If there are jobs for him in this new location it would seem maybe there is potential for you to have an on site gig, as well. But, I can honestly say I never felt the moves in any way “ruined” my career. Your parents are an older generation where folks stayed in jobs for a lifetime and went into the office in a suit and worked 9-5. Now, things are more flexible and people move jobs frequently (I think I read somewhere the average was 7 in a career).

  53. Molly Coddler*

    We have all felt like crying at work. So we take care of ourselves and go to the bathroom or an unused room and cry (not loudly.) IMHO her crying loud enough to be heard every. single. time. and it not occurring to her that it’s on HER to take care of herself instead of making everyone else feel icky, is a classic “give me attention” move. Sorry, I realize she’s a stellar worker, but she’s making everyone else feel icky. Not just uncomfortable, icky. She’s being unprofessional and you’re tiptoeing around. Part of being a great employee is being sensitive to your colleagues.

  54. Jam Today*

    LW1 is just bizarre, but my armchair read on it is that its basically just how her nervous system responds to stress or surprises? Its pretty weird, ngl, but given that a) it seems to be completely temporary and b) once its done she carries on like nothing happened and also does a good job I might just suggest adapting how and when she’s given new assignments — like in a soundproof room? I’m only sort of kidding with that, if she’s as valuable as you say and this is just one really (really) weird thing that comes along for the ride, then you should just find a way to adapt.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Yeah, if there’s something going on there, then you need to address it. But if this is just how she handles things, then it’s unusual and the problem is how it affects the rest of the office. You want/need to cry? Go ahead and cry. But if crying in this instance is not a normal reaction, then you need to do it in a way that won’t affect everyone else around you. They have work they need to get done, too.

  55. justeatit*

    LW1: noooooooo! Alison doesn’t recognize how bad the hiring market (always) is for a paralgeal. Good paralegals are REALLY hard to come by (to the point that the vast majority of law firms have had to hire people they know are not going to be good at their jobs). Unless you are 100% sure Paralegal can handle this conversation, don’t do it. It would be great to fix this, but if trying to fix it could lead to her departure, DON’T DO IT.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Hard disagree for a couple of reasons:

      1) This is an extremely abnormal response to getting a work assignment.

      2) This is affecting the entire office.

      If the employee in question got an assignment, went into an empty room and had a good (and private) cry for a few minutes, composed themselves, and then returned and acted as if nothing were out of the ordinary, I would be inclined to let it go. But this is not normal. Employee cries in public, despite some private spaces being obviously available, and everyone else is put off by it.

      I would honestly take two mediocre employees who don’t cry and thus don’t make everyone run and hide over one who is good and casts a cloud over the entire office.

  56. Slap Bet Commissioner*

    LW5- I was you about 9 years ago- including the parental aspect! Well before the move happened my husband and I talked at length about a possible move, as it was pretty common in his company/industry. At the time I felt a little stuck in my career where we were so I was open to a change. He was promoted to an upper management position within his company, and he actually had three locations to choose from. He made the decision based on where we thought I had the best possible opportunities for my work. As it got closer, I was overall feeling nervous but pretty positive about the move. My parents were really upset we were moving far away and my step-dad told me that I would be miserable, wouldn’t find a job or make any friends, and my marriage would suffer. Good pep-talk!
    I will admit, those first few months when I was not getting any bites in my job search were frustrating and lonely. BUT I eventually found a great job, we did make some awesome friends, and our 6 years in that new city were great for both of our careers. The next time we moved it was because of my work – and my husband was ready to move on as he was feeling pretty burnt out in his job, so it came at the right time that time too.
    It’s true that no one can predict the future, but I wanted to share a positive story of how it can work out and sometimes moving to a new place is a nice adventure.

  57. Head sheep counter*

    For me on LW3 its the deception that’s off. Wanting to do different things or to go out without the boss is totally normal. But hiding it or lying/obscuring … feels a bit more like a personal dig.

    Everyone could benefit from learning to say something polite but honest to get out of or avoid social things around work. Lying (even if polite) just is… not great. We all can benefit from a good dose of not taking it personal… but lying… tends to make it at least somewhat personal.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m not a fan of lying either, but I think this may be the one case where it’s warranted if the boss is the kind of person to just invite themselves to these sorts of things. In which case, the boss gets what they deserve.

      But there’s no evidence of that here. LW asked if they were leaving and they said yes, and that they were tired. If you are going out for dinner, then of course you have to leave where you are now, and even if you are tired, it doesn’t preclude you from going out for dinner.

      1. Head sheep counter*

        It would have been so easy to say “Yes, we’ve plans for the evening. See you tomorrow!”

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Maybe they did say that and LW didn’t hear it/doesn’t remember it. It really doesn’t matter. The topic is not “how do we explain to our new boss that we’re going to dinner together and don’t want them there.”

          LW is a new boss, and so a new quantity in the equation. Maybe this team had a bad experience with old boss. I don’t really see any reason to blame the employees or accuse them of acting in bad faith. People have a right to get together for a meal without their boss.

  58. Lorax*

    OP #1, I rarely cry at work, but when I do, it’s always due to getting assigned additional tasks when my plate is already full. My guess is this situation is workload related, particularly since you say you have a range of paralegals and this one is your best/most senior. Any chance that because she’s your best paralegal, you’re giving her more work and/or more complicated cases than everyone else, and she feels like she can’t push back? Any chance you’re making it hard for her to juggle her existing caseload, meet deadlines, or maintain high standards for her work output? Any chance you’re holding her to higher standards than everyone else? Or forcing her to frequently reprioritize or making her feel like she’s trapped in a work-hole she’ll never be able to dig her way out of? Because any of those things would absolutely be a recipe for a consistently high stress load, which could easily lead to crying if every, single additional assignment becomes the “straw that breaks the camel’s back.” Obviously, as others have mentioned, the first step is to ask her about the crying. But in that conversation, it might be worth directly asking about her workload and stress, because if she’s anything like me, she might just feel like she has to take it without question.

    I’m guessing you probably don’t want to lose her as an employee, so it would be advantageous to get to the root of this and proactively figure out if anything you’re doing management-wise is causing her to feel trapped and stressed. If not, than by all means ask her to keep her emotions more discreet. But I wouldn’t address the symptom until you’ve figured out the cause; I think skipping straight to the behavioral modification piece risks exacerbating any stress she’s already feeling, if I’m right about what’s going on.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I don’t see any of that in the letter. LW says that at least one attorney would check in with her about things; this was obviously the time to say that she had too much on her plate. LW also says that they have a pretty laid-back culture, and that this is only during the first five minutes after being given an assignment, and that she’s happy and pleasant the rest of the time. I don’t think this is it.

      1. MD2020*

        She might not be comfortable admitting that she’s overworked, especially to one of her bosses, especially if she’s ever been at another job where it wasn’t acceptable to say that you had too much on your plate.

  59. WhyAreThereSoManyBadManagers*

    My fully-remote jobs have been the most stable, fulfilling and successful jobs of my entire career. For both me and my coworkers and team managers.

  60. Kat*

    # 5 moved across the the country because my SO got his dream Job. Without a job and i work in a vary niche field it took me 8 months to find something related to mine field that i like better then what i did before. you can do this and are not ruining your life as long as your husband is supportive and its what you want not what other think

  61. Rosacolleti*

    #5 Remote jobs are viewed as less stable because if they can be done remotely, it’s very possible they can be done offshore for a fraction of the price.

  62. MD2020*

    I empathize a lot with the crier. Any strong emotion — like, really, any given emotion in its strongest form — makes me cry. Overjoyed? Crying. Confused? Gonna cry. Angry? DEFINITELY crying. It doesn’t sound like the same exact situation, but I know I can’t always control it. People think it’s something I could control all the time if I wanted to, but I’m 35 and I’ve dealt with the embarrassment of being a crier my entire life. I would LOVE to be able to control it. What is similar is that we both seem to do our jobs well in spite of it. It’s not like this one personality trait makes us bad employees. So honestly? Ask her about WHY she’s crying in these instances. That could be your key to how to stop it. And if you can’t fully stop it, at least (kindly) ask her to go to the bathroom to collect herself if she ever feels it coming on. It solves the problem for everyone involved.

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