my boss wants me to host a product party for her, I compared my interviewer to my dog, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. My former manager wants me to host a product party for her

My former supervisor has been extremely helpful as a reference for me numerous times and I feel indebted to her to some degree for that. Perhaps she is aware of that, too.

Apparently she is “starting a business” and wants me to invite my friends/family/whomever to my house and host a “party” for her to build clientele who would be willing to buy overpriced costume jewelry. She says I would get a lot of free jewelry out of it. I quickly picked up that this is one of those pyramid schemes that preys on vulnerable, low-information women. A quick internet search confirmed my suspicions. Furthermore, numerous reviews online confirmed the actual jewelry is garbage; my friend told me she bought a $99 watch from them that broke the first time she wore it.

I told her I will see if I can get any interest from people I know to come to the party and get back to her. Even if I agree to host, I am honestly not sure that I know enough people in my area period (I’m a few hours from immediate family and only have a handful of close friends around), much less with expendable income who would be interested in something like this. What do you think? Should I agree to this and try to get people in? I really don’t like the idea of making people feel pressured to buy things, particularly friends/family.

Noooooo. She’s asking you to do the marketing for her business for her, and to annoy your friends and family in the process, and to help her promote a product that you know is crappy. Under no circumstances. You don’t owe her for being a reference for you; that’s a normal part of what managers do for good employees. (I mean, sure, you owe her normal professional courtesies, like taking her calls and congratulations her on professional successes or whatever, but a good reference does not obligate you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.)

Tell her that you decided it’s not your thing and you’re not interested in hosting. And stand firm if she pushes back.

2015

2. I compared my interviewer with my dog

I went into a interview and everything was going well. There was a assessment test on my abilities and the questions were normal.

On the way out, my interviewer walked me out and made a passing comment on the sunny weather. I replied, “Yeah, it’s really lovely out, nice and sunny with a cool breeze” — normal small talk. But she responded with “I prefer the triple digits.” And that’s when I said, “That’s just like my chihuahua.” I wanted to smack myself as soon as I finished the sentence.

Is this something you would count against a candidate? If so, how should I address this faux pas in my thank-you email, or is this something you pretend never happened on both sides?

It wasn’t the smoothest comment, no. But if you were otherwise the strongest candidate, most people aren’t going to take you out of the running for that, unless the position requires an unusually high degree of professional polish and schmoozing skills. (And even then, she may have just found it funny, who knows.)

I wouldn’t bring it up in the thank-you note; that would be calling more attention to it than you should. We all have awkward moments; try not to dwell on it too much.

2017

3. My top candidate has another offer but we can’t interview until next month

I’m hiring for a an open position and conducted a phone interview with a great candidate (we’d already interviewed him once before in a prior round but didn’t hire him) and told him that in-person interviews would take place after the holidays, with someone in place by early February.

I got a call from the candidate today saying he got an offer from another company and what was our timeline? This candidate is my favorite, but we’re hiring three people and were planning on having in-person interviews with four to five people with the whole team. Any thoughts on how to reply to this candidate?

You have to decide whether you want him enough to expedite things or whether you’re willing to lose him to the other offer. Since you interviewed him previously, you might have a good idea of how strong a fit he is for this role. If you don’t, you could quickly set up an in-person interview with him now (like in the next few days, if possible — which I realize might be tricky given the holidays). If you go that route, ask him what his timeline is for needing to give the other company an answer, so that you know how much time you have to work with.

But if you know that you wouldn’t be willing to make him an offer without interviewing your other candidates first and that’s important enough that you’re willing to risk losing him (which is often, although not always, the right choice), then all you can do is to tell him that he’s currently your top candidate but that you unfortunately can’t expedite your interviewing timeline (and explain why so that he understands — people’s schedules or whatever the reason is), and that you understand if that means he needs to accept the other offer.

2016

4. Coworker doesn’t want anyone to ask questions at meetings so they end faster

One of my coworkers does not want anyone to ask questions at the weekly meeting so that they can “get out of there faster.” Anyone who does ask a question is approached before the next meeting and basically warned not to make the meeting “longer.” Should the manager be told about this?

I’d sure want to know about it if I were your manager. Or you could just ignore the person who’s doing this, or the next time it happens you could reply, “Part of the reason for the meeting is for us to have a chance to ask questions. Please stop pressuring me and others not to use the meeting in the way it’s intended.”

(Of course, make sure that the questions you’re asking are meeting-apprpropriate — meaning that they’re on-topic and things that make sense to discuss in that forum, as opposed to following up on them one-on-one with the relevant person afterwards. If you’re not doing those things — if you’re the person who makes meetings drag out by asking things that genuinely don’t make sense to discuss in that context — then your coworkers are likely to be legitimately annoyed.)

2016

updates: new manager tells us we’re defensive, working from home without privacy, and more

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

1. New manager keeps telling us we’re frustrated and defensive

In retrospect, Kelly did not have the claimed managerial experience, and turned out to be making notes about topics unrelated to the actual meeting (as in, we’re explaining how to melt the chocolate and she’s drafting designs for the boxes). I used Alison’s scripts, and talked to the CEO, and separately started documenting everything in case it needed to go farther.

The CEO did understand and support me, and coached Kelly in certain aspects of personnel management (the weak points). My working relationship with Kelly continued to be strained, but actually improved during COVID when we were all working remotely, mainly because random drop-ins and in-person conversations became impossible, but also because it finally got to the point where Kelly had isolated one part of the department and just worked with them, only occasionally intersecting with the rest of us. This wasn’t great for the department, but drastically reduced the stress on Alex and me.

That said, Kelly helped me work with another employee who consistently had performance problems. I really felt that we were making good headway towards a decent working relationship. The chronically-underperforming employee finally realized the end was nigh and decided to leave. About 3 months later, Kelly also left for other opportunities. I really can’t say I was sorry, but I regret the lost opportunity to really cement the working relationship.

The CEO recognized my attempts to make it work, and actually noted them on my annual review, so I believe I may have only seen a small part of a bigger problem.

Kelly’s replacement is someone I already knew and respected internally, someone who really is a good team player and doesn’t cherry-pick the fun/high-profile projects. I have good hopes that we will finally create a strong, cohesive team, enhancing all our skills and helping us work better together.

2. Working from home without a private, comfortable spot to work in (#2 at the link)

I followed your advice pretty much to the letter. I reached out to my supervisor and mentioned accommodations. She was unsure who would handle the question and I was bounced around several different departments and various members of upper management, before landing with a quick Slack meeting with the chief of my own department. Somehow the ADA mention got lost in the message moving around, but the chief was already prepared to get me a laptop. I just had to fill out a form, bring my desktop into the office when IT was available, and came home with a fresh laptop. I now have a more flexible, ergonomic set up that works much better for my disabilities. All I needed to do was ask!

3. I’m afraid people at work will think I’m being abused (#2 at the link)

Exactly two weeks after I wrote you, I worked a completely uneventful 11 hour shift and then promptly broke my ankle on my own front porch steps as soon as I got home. Obviously not ideal when I work a job that has me walking 6-12 miles per shift, but in the course of telling the story and sorting out accommodations for sitting-only work and future physical therapy (I really did a number on it!) I think people are starting to realize that I’m kind of just like this naturally. It’s a relief to be able to joke about it!

(Also, a lot of your readers had great suggestions on potential things to bring to my doctor but don’t worry, I’ve had my bases covered for ages, I’m very fortunate to genuinely just be a klutz!)

4. Good news Friday (#3 at the link)

My job has continued to be amazing. I’m still singing in my car, still working from home whenever I want to. I was so traumatized after 20 years at the toxic company that I am still learning that it’s actually okay to be happy at work, that it’s actually how it SHOULD be, but I’m getting there!! And!! Three months after I started, New Boss walked in my office and out of the blue gave me a 7% raise – the first raise I’ve ever received that I didn’t have to fight for. What a wonderful, strange new world!

Old Company did NOT replace me when I left and instead dumped everything on my former work partner Dale. No raise. No title change. Unrealistic hours and ridiculous deadlines. No more WFH – five days a week in the office. From a team of five to just Dale and a 30 hr a week part-timer. She complained and got LOTS of promises, but zero follow up. To make matters worse, her new boss Zoe kept trying to take credit for the few little bones they threw Dale – like “graciously” letting her WFH one day a week – saying things like Dale should just be appreciative of all that Zoe had done for her. I saw the emails – gag worthy levels of “I went to bat for you, you should appreciate this since others aren’t so fortunate, blah blah” AS IF! Dale EARNED those things, deserved those things, but got treated like Zoe was doing her a favor! THEN Dale is told there’s no money for raises (even though my salary was not reassigned) but Zoe got a huge promotion and a massive raise. They don’t renew Dale’s executive level retention agreement but Zoe got stock options. And Dale’s supposed to be grateful to Zoe for a single WFH day?

When Dale got shoveled another pile of “maybe next year” BS the same week Zoe got the promotion, that was the last straw. She called up an old boss, who’d been after her for years to come back. I told her about AAM and after she used the AAM advice to update her resume and cover letter, he created a job on the spot for her. More money, title change, fab retirement benefits, the works. She cut the cord after 11 years at Old Company and never looked back. She is now as happy as I am.

The best part of the update (Warning – serious schadenfreude alert.) Dale’s been gone for three months now and they’ve been unable to fill the role at the seriously below market salary they’re offering for the work load they’re wanting covered. Per friends still there, the business guys are HOWLING about the lack of a person in this role. All Old Company had to do was value the person in this critical role but they didn’t learn and now they are paying ridiculous money for outside legal counsel to manage this work. Zoe is also apparently stressed since having her entire remaining team of long-timers bail within her first year and not being able to hire replacements doesn’t exactly look good.

I love a happy ending, don’t you?

update: the boss who fired me got hired at my new job — and she’s joking about how bad my work was

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

Remember the letter-writer whose boss got him fired got hired at his new job — and started joking about how bad his work was? Here’s the update.

Let me begin by saying I really appreciate of the support and advice you and your readers gave me. It was nice to know I wasn’t making too much out of it.

Two things maybe I should mention that I did not before. First, I am a pretty laid back guy, and when folks have a laugh at my expense, that usually doesn’t bother me if I think it is coming from a place of affection. I can laugh at myself, and Lord knows I enjoy teasing the people I love. I think I have pretty good boundaries generally, and I enforce them if I feel it’s not coming from a place of affection. But I think in this instance my boundary setting radar got confused because this generally has not been a problem at work, and because I so wanted to give Jane the benefit of the doubt.

Secondly, Jane’s behavior in all of this tracks, if you know Jane. She is, let’s say, hyperrational. Appeals to her emotions, or telling her how things make you feel, generally don’t work. But if you can quantify your point, if you can back up your argument with data, she is very persuadable, up to and including changing her behavior or backing off on points she’s made in the past.

As you advised, I took the issue up directly with folks who seemed to be treating me differently, calling out what I saw and asking them to please judge me on my record since they’ve known me. Most denied any change at all, and that was enough to shock them back into their pre-Jane behavior. A small number admitted Jane’s stories had made some impact, and agreed that maybe was not entirely fair. For the most part, they too have returned to pre-Jane behavior.

Then I went back to Jane and made my point; the stories were unflattering and unfair, they were harming my reputation with my co-workers, and it needed to stop. She again said she was just kidding and doubted it influenced anyone at all.. I conceded she was just kidding and had no ill-will, but that wasn’t the point. We went through some emails I had with co-workers that I had printed out (including the exchange with the coworker I mentioned in my first note). The point I made was even if it was just this one guy (and it wasn’t) surely she would agree that if the stories kept coming more people might start thinking like this guy.

Having seen the evidence, she agreed. She promised she would stop, and she has. She even went so far as to email a couple folks we discussed (and cc’d me) apologizing for her behavior and saying she should not have put me in such a bad light. That was good enough for me.

And that has been it. We’re pretty much back to normal. The guy from the first e-mail is still double checking me, but less than he was before. Personally I think he’s just trying to cover his tracks.

update: our employee forged the owner’s signature on his mortgage documents

It’s “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Every day from now until the end of the year, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose colleague had forged the company owner’s signature on his mortgage paperwork? Here’s the update.

Thank you so much for publishing my letter, and your great advice! As it happened, when the letter was published I was on my first vacation since 2019, so I missed replying to any comments made, but I did read all of them when I got back home, and was very appreciative of everything said. Here is my update:

Most importantly of all, John’s wife is fully recovered, and doing great!

The IT company John uses recovered the files Rob deleted, and they were all of a personal nature. Nothing bad, but also nothing that related to the business, thankfully.

John did have his lawyer send a letter to Rob and the mortgage company regarding the forged mortgage documents on his own accord, and never heard back from Rob or the mortgage company, so he still doesn’t know if the forged documents were corrected, or not. Or if Rob got the house, or not. The only thing we know for sure is that Rob will have no reference from John after three years of employment, John has made that clear. Sadly, Rob is the type to think that he WILL be able to list John as a reference, AND get a great one. He is just that kind of person.

When I wrote my letter to you, it was literally the day after everything had happened, and I was just…enraged. I am definitely a “want to see justice done!” type of person, and it is something that I have been working on over the years, sometimes with success, sometimes not. But I did step back in this situation, and did not push/suggest to John to do anything beyond what he wanted to do on his own. I just listened to him vent/process the situation, and was there for him as a friend.

After the dust settled from Rob’s departure, and it came time to hire a someone to replace him, I put your advice to use, and suggested certain things regarding vetting the new hire, and John followed all of my suggestions.

This is where the update takes an odd, but ultimately good turn. John hired someone to replace Rob, and they had great references, etc. Total rock star. I was thrilled, he was thrilled. Until…yeeeaah…it all went bad.

The new employee lasted just a month, before walking out mid-shift one day, and the reason for them doing so was that they decided the client account they were in charge of was “fake”. By this I mean they thought the practice, doctors, staff, and patients didn’t exist. Seeing as how I have been doing the billing for this client for years, have been in their office numerous times, know the doctors, staff, AND the patients…I was whopper-jawed. As was John. The whole situation was truly Kafkaesque/Twilight Zone material. John and I had a lot of discussions about this situation after it happened, and in the end, could only conclude that there were some personal issues going on with the employee, that caused them to quit like they did.

At that point, I recommended that John hire my former assistant office manager, who was looking for remote work, and he did. She came on board in October, and has been just as great at her new position for the billing company as she was when she worked at my office. All is well that ends well, and all is better than well at this point.

I also want to add that I found the “Ask A Manager” site shortly after the pandemic shut down in March 2020. I went from working 50 hours a week to 10, so I had a LOT of time on my hands, and spent it reading everything in your archive, as well as many of your book suggestions. : ) Since then, I have recommended AAM to numerous people, and it has made me a better manager. It is an invaluable site, and I am so grateful for the all the advice on it!

the schedule for updates this year

A heads-up about update season: for the next few weeks I’ll be posting at midnight, 11 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm, 3:30 pm, and 5 pm (all times are Eastern)* … as a minimum. There will sometimes be additional posts at 10:30 am and random times throughout the afternoon as well!

We have a lot of updates.

Also, if you’ve had your letter answered here in the past and would like to send in an update, there’s still time to include it so go ahead and email it to me!

* That’s Monday through Thursday. Friday will be unpredictable.

do I have to go to my office’s holiday Zoom happy hour?

A reader writes:

Last year my company hosted a holiday Zoom “cocktail hour.” I didn’t attend since it was at 7 pm and at that time I am getting my kids ready for bed. I didn’t hear anything about it until mid-October this year. My boss emailed me directly and told me that the company is planning another cocktail hour for the holiday party this year, and it “looked bad” that I wasn’t there last year.

I’m not in a senior-level high position. I work as a finance analyst in accounting. My day is typically from 7:30-5ish. I told my boss that the time of the cocktail hour does not work with my family schedule. If I were to participate, I would have to be logged into my computer in my house in the evening, which is hard because we have a small house and my office is in the living room. It would be too distracting and, frankly, not enjoyable.

Is this worth fighting? I feel like this is a weird “requirement” they are asking of me.

I answer this question over at Slate today, as well as:

  • Can I get just some of my team members gifts?
  • Attending a rowdy holiday party when no one knows I’m pregnant
  • What should I do if my company holiday dinner seems unsafe?
  • Can our company close for the holidays for a week and make us use vacation time for it?
  • Why aren’t my contractors welcome at the holiday party?

Head over there to read it.

update: I think my assistant would be better at my job than I am

It’s the launch of “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! Every day from now until the end of the year, I’ll be running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

We have so many updates this year that I’m going to be posting six to seven times a day for the next several weeks — so keep checking back throughout the entire day.

To kick us off…

Remember the letter-writer who thought her assistant would be better at her job than she was? Here’s the update.

It’s been about five months since I wrote my letter, and I’ve been on quite a mental journey since then. I did respond a little in the comments, and I wish I could have responded more. The outpouring of support was NOT what I expected. It was wonderful but overwhelming.

To be very honest, though, as nice as it was to read, I found myself discounting your response and the responses of the commentariat. I thought maybe I hadn’t explained myself well enough, and your response was based on a fundamental misread of the situation.

The first thing I did was have a heart to heart with Fergus about how he felt about his role. He told me frankly that he thought he wanted my job for awhile, and was on the verge of resigning when I offered him the promotion. Now that he’s seen it up close, though, he has realized he doesn’t want to do what I do. He said he loves coming up with ideas, bouncing them off me to sort out which ones to pursue, and then figure out how to make them happen together. He said, “I do my thing while you manage the children” (the C-suite). We also discussed his career goals and ambitions, and he said he doesn’t want to leave as long as he still feels like there’s work to be done here. He thinks we make a good team and he doesn’t want to work for someone else.

Then, he said something that really made me think. He said when I offered him the job, I told him “I want to give you the opportunity to be part of the solution.” He said that was what made the difference, made him decide to stay. He said it changed his attitude about how to look at problems, and he uses it himself with his own reports.

I thought… well, maybe Alison wasn’t crazy with what she said about my management abilities. I went back and re-read my letter and your response and the comments and I tried to really hear what you were saying.

A lot of the commenters mentioned imposter syndrome. I think I knew I had that, but also thought, doesn’t everyone? For me, the more pernicious aspect of my imposter syndrome is I thought I was promoted not just because I’m a woman, but just because I’m likable. If it was really based on merit, not personality, I reasoned, they should have picked Fergus.

When I expressed that in the comments, one commenter challenged me to analyze what being “likable” means in a work context. I did that, and I realized that people like me because I listen, I genuinely like other people, I’m diplomatic, I don’t lose my temper, I don’t have a big ego, and I want people to succeed.

I’ve also realized since then that I have good judgment and I’m not afraid to make hard decisions.

Seeing myself more clearly has helped me be better at my job. I see now that my self-doubt was interfering with my growth as a manager. Constantly thinking about what I thought I “should” be doing (coming up with Fergus-style Big Ideas) and feeling bad that I wasn’t, made me miss opportunities to do what I’m best at.

The phrase “servant leader” was mentioned in the comments, and that really resonated with me. I’ve decided to lean in to that, and value my approach as something not many people can do. It’s all still a work in progress, but it’s made all the difference in my confidence level. I’ll be forever grateful to you, Alison, and to all the commenters. I feel like a weight has been lifted, and I really mean that. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

my coworker is enraged that I call my cat “my baby,” my interviewer called me a schmuck, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. My coworker screamed at me for calling my cat “my baby”

I am a woman in my early thirties and my partner and I are childless by choice. We do, however, have a three-year-old cat we love very much.

Today at work while discussing plans for after work, I said that I had to swing by the pet store and pick up some more wet food because I can’t have my baby going hungry!” One of my coworkers, Jane, lost it. She screamed at me that a pet isn’t a child, it’s insulting to parents that I refer to him as such, and I’ll never understand what it means to be a parent. I was shocked into silence and she stalked off.

Later, I was called into a meeting with my supervisor. Apparently Jane had recently had a miscarriage (I honestly had no idea!) and she told my supervisor I was mocking her for it. Thankfully my supervisor knows me well enough that he was skeptical when she brought it up and enough people were around to corroborate the events.

I’m at a loss as to what to say to Jane, or if I should even say anything at all. I won’t pretend I understand how much pain she must be in, and if all she had done was yell at me I think I’d be willing to brush it off. But she went to my supervisor and lied and tried to get me in trouble.

So what do I do from here? Should I apologize to her even though I didn’t do anything wrong? Avoid her? Try to avoid call my cat my baby ever again? I’ve thought about asking my supervisor to document the fact that she lied in case it ever happens again and I need a record, but that seems incredibly cruel to do to a woman who’s already suffering so much.

I was prepared to be outraged at Jane, but grief can cause people to behave in really odd ways. I’m curious about what Jane is like aside from this. If she’s always seemed reasonable before now, I’d be inclined to figure that her grief made her really misunderstand your words (as opposed to her deliberately setting out to lie about you).

I don’t think you need to apologize. You didn’t say anything that it makes sense to apologize for. If she was okay with you knowing about the miscarriage, you could tell her that you didn’t mean to upset her and you know she’s going through a tough time. But assuming your manager told you that in confidence … I’m coming down on the side of just making sure that your manager is clear that you did nothing wrong (it sounds like that’s the case) and giving Jane a wide berth for a while. If anything else like this happens, at that point go back to your manager to problem-solve because you can’t walk on eggshells around Jane forever, but for now I’d assume this was was one bad incident but won’t become a pattern (until and unless it does).

2018

2. I overheard my interviewer calling me a schmuck

I seemed to really hit it off with an interviewer during my final interview. I even had pretty good rapport with them prior to the final interview and was more than accommodating when they needed to reschedule this final interview and a previous phone interview. They walked me out of the building after the interview was over and even then we had a pleasant conversation, which is why I find it odd that as soon as I got outside I heard this person loudly refer to me as a “schmuck.” I’m not sure that they meant for me to hear this or how they came to feel this way about me, but I heard it just the same. The question is now should I simply ignore it and pretend I didn’t hear it, or is it something that should be a deal-breaker in terms of me working for this person and this company?

I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked whether it was possible the interviewer was talking to someone else (like jokingly calling it out to a coworker). He said:

There was no one else around and I was the last person they were speaking to, so I assume it was about me. They appeared to say it out loud to themselves as though they were thinking it. I suppose they could have been referring to the other interviewer, who was sort of obnoxious and really hung up on my lack of direct experience though I do possess a lot of easily transferable skills. But I kind of doubt it. When I turned around to look, the person was standing alone at the window. Their context is also open for debate; they may have been annoyed/angry about something I said or did or even something I didn’t do or say that maybe they felt I should have or may simply think me a fool for wanting to work there.

This is so weird, and I can understand why you’re taken aback! If there were someone else around, my money would be on them joking to that person and it not being about you at all. But given the context you described … I have no idea! I mean, best case scenario, they were chastising themselves (“You schmuck! You forgot to ask about Excel skills!”) or cursing someone else (“That schmuck Fergus! He never showed up for his part of the interview!”) … but that feels like a stretch. On the other hand, it also feels like a stretch that an interviewer would have been so bursting to insult you that they’d do it like this.

If they really did mean it toward you, they’re probably not going to offer you the job (at least not if they’re the final decision-maker), so at least there’s that. If someone else is the decider, though, then yeah, I’d be wary. In that case, pay a lot of attention to the other cues you’ve gotten and will continue to get about what the manager is like, what the culture is like there more broadly, and how well you think you fit what they’re looking for. Maybe the interviewer called you a schmuck, maybe they didn’t, and we probably can’t know for sure — so really leaning hard on the other stuff you see is the way to go.

2017

3. When your boss is at the next table during your dinner interview

I’ve been curious about something for a while, and when you answered the question about Princess Peach, I thought of a question that I wanted to ask you about Rachel from Friends: In season 10, episode 14 of Friends, The One with Princess Consuela, Rachel has a job interview at a restaurant. When she gets to the restaurant, her current boss is having dinner there at the table right beside Rachel’s. Rachel tells her current boss,”I’m on a date!” and when her potential employer shows up, she tries to carry on the lie:

Potential Employer: Your resume is quite impressive.
Rachel: I don’t know if I’d call my online dating profile a resume.

When the interviewer becomes confused, Rachel tries to hint that her current boss is at the table beside theirs, to no avail. The scene ends, and we find out later that Rachel didn’t get the new job and got fired from her old one for “not being a team player.”

What I’ve always wondered is, what could Rachel possibly have done to salvage this situation?

She could have gotten up from the table, met her interviewer at the front of the restaurant (so not within earshot of her boss), and quietly said, “I have a very awkward situation here — my current boss, who doesn’t know I’m talking with you, is sitting right over there. Would it be possible to go somewhere else so that we can talk openly?”

But Rachel wasn’t ever really a paragon of sound professional judgment (see: hiring Tag, sleeping with Tag).

2015

4. Can I say something to my friend’s boss about how overworked she is?

I’m hoping you can give me some advice on how to handle a situation. A close friend of mine is totally overworked: 70+ hours at her demanding job plus another 20+ hours a week taking classes.

Lately she’s been so stressed that she can’t sleep, can’t eat, and is now throwing up from anxiety. While I think there are some larger issues at work about why she chooses to do this to herself, in the meantime I’m worried about her health.

Her boss has no idea that she’s working so much — and knowing her boss, he would be upset about it. To be honest, my friend brings a lot of this on herself, simply taking on too many projects and not delegating when appropriate. She doesn’t seem willing to make the changes to simply work “only” 50 hours a week.

I hate seeing my friend do this to herself. My questions are what you might suggest I say to her, and if you think it’s out of line to mention it to her boss (who I know socially from before they worked together).

Ooooh, no, you can’t say something to her boss. That would be interfering in her professional life; that’s totally off-limits to you. She is a grown-up, and you have to respect her to ability to handle her working life herself. You can disagree with her choices, but you can’t overrule them by going over her head. It doesn’t matter that you know the boss socially; this one just isn’t yours to intervene in like that.

All you can really do here is to be a friend to her: Express concern, tell her what you’re seeing, ask if she’s happy with how things are and, if she’s not, what she thinks she could do to change them. You could also share your opinion that her boss would want to know how much she’s working. But that’s really it.

2015

weekend open thread – November 27-28, 2021

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week:  The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave. A woman’s husband disappears under mysterious circumstances, leaving her alone with her stepdaughter and a series of emerging clues that he wasn’t who he said he was.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

open thread – November 26-27, 2021

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.