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the stolen toilet paper, the fake committee, and other petty moments at work

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Last week I asked you to share stories of petty moments at work — your own or other people’s. Here are some of the stand-outs. “At one of my early jobs one of my coworkers was a, shall we say, interesting character. She was called out about something in a meeting and was fuming at the rest of us. The next morning she came in, went into the rest room (so I hear) and then went into her boss’ office to quit on the spot. She left without a word to anyone else.

giving extra time off to people who get married, how to end networking conversations, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Giving extra time off to people who get married. My friend got married this weekend, and she mentioned to me that her office gives her an extra week of PTO to use in the year which she got married.

I’m polyamorous — should I be out at work?

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It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I’ve been going back and forth with a pretty weird problem, and someone suggested your blog as a good place to go for advice (I’m so happy I discovered it, by the way!). Here’s what’s going on… I am a woman in my late 20s and I have been in a polyamorous relationship with a married couple for the past eight months.

ATS 84

my office wants us to celebrate by wearing pink and blue by gender

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A reader writes: I am a nurse and I enjoy the festivities of Nurses Week, celebrated the second week in May. Until I received this official workplace email, suggesting that “ladies” should wear pink and “men” should wear blue to kick off the week. See attached graphic.).

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how much should we compromise for a dog-phobic coworker in a dog-friendly office?

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A reader writes: We’ve recently moved into a new office space, which is dog-friendly. This is great news for many of my coworkers, who are able to avoid costly sitters and walkers (we’re already allowed to work from home a few days per week, so bringing dogs in the other couple of days can do away with these costs entirely). However, one of my colleagues (let’s call her Jane) is really dog-phobic. Today another colleague (Lucille) brought her dog in for the first time.

coworker whispers a daily affirmation to me, do I have to tell people I met with about my strep throat, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. My coworker whispers a daily affirmation to me. I work in a fairly open plan corporate setting. A new colleague joined another team about a month ago, and passes my station daily on his way to see his boss. Every single morning he briefly stops, wait for me to make eye contact, whispers “You’re amazing” to me, and heads on his way. It’s flattering but odd, and can take me out of my headspace.

our traditionally male company has an annual golf trip — but our new female employees don’t play

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A reader writes: Our smallish family-owned business has been taking our sales team on a long weekend golf trip on and off for many years/decades. It is intended to be a reward/retreat type trip, and little if any business is discussed when we are there. Mostly beer drinking, side betting golf, in a beach town with multiple golf courses and a long weekend. Many of our team have young children and the weekend getaway is well received and appreciated, and talked about throughout the year.

updates: the men who wouldn’t be alone with women, the very good dog, and more

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Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past. Some men in my office refuse to be alone with women. I know everyone loves updates, and I have a somewhat positive one. So the coworker I mentioned in the letter, who had raised the performance review issue up the official channels, had a meeting with HR.

how can I get coworkers to leave me alone about a humiliating TV experience?

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A reader writes: Recently, I was on one of those courtroom shows. I regret it intensely. When I was contacted by the producer about a case I’d filed against someone else, he was incredibly friendly, said that I had a great case, etc., and made it seem to me that they were entirely on my side.

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my boss wants me to be her assistant, what to wear in a casual office, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Our office assistant left and now my boss wants me to do her job. I work for a small company (<8 people) founded by my boss, Cersei. I am an associate and I primarily do client-facing project management and data analysis work.

my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master”

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I’m taking today off, so this is a reprint of one of my favorite letters. I originally published this at New York Magazine in September 2016. A reader writes: An employee, “Sally,” started at our workplace about a year and a half ago. She’s not my subordinate, but is the subordinate to a peer of mine, and works frequently with my subordinates. A few months later she got a new boyfriend, “Peter.”

how do I get my coworkers to shut up about Game of Thrones?

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A reader writes: All of my coworkers are all obsessed with Game of Thrones, but I don’t watch it, nor am I interested. We sit in an open office and they talk out loud about it all day long — fan theories, character arcs, whatever. I feel like I know the plot of every episode. They know I don’t watch, and sometimes they try to include me to be nice, but I always demur.

why can’t I wear shorts to work?

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A reader writes: I recently hired an entry-level employee. This is her first office/full-time job ever, so part of my job is also making sure she understands office norms. Today during our weekly check-in, we were talking about the weather getting warmer and she made a comment about needing to buy more shorts for during the week. I explained that shorts aren’t appropriate work attire, even at our semi-casual office.

5 Culture Trends for 2019

As we approach 2019, major shifts in the work environment will continue to affect the ways companies do business. Companies that are looking to attract, engage, and retain top talent should leverage these trends to create workplaces where employees thrive.

do you have to control your emotions to be professional?

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I’m talking today off, so this is a reprint of a post from April 2016. A reader writes: I recently got fired from a job of four years. They told me I could stay until the end of the fiscal year (several months from the time of firing), and that I’m going to be replaced by one of my colleagues. Despite the awkwardness, I plan to stick with it as long as possible; the pay and benefits may well be the best I’ll ever have.

should I tell my replacement about a cranky team member, coworkers devise bizarre solutions to simple problems, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. Should resigning managers share info about team members with their replacements? I’m preparing to leave my job (by choice), and am training my newly-hired replacement at the moment. This position supervises several folks, and one of them in particular is … quirky.

what’s the pettiest thing you’ve done at work (or seen done)?

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One thing that’s funny about work is that people can really, really worked up about things that they’d be far better off just letting go — think, for example, of 12-paragraph rants about office supplies or the person who threw away a coworker’s mug as an act of revenge over work assignments. I want to hear about the pettiest thing you’ve ever done at work, or seen done. Share in the comments!

should I give feedback to people who haven’t asked for it during a collaborative writing project?

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It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes: I’m not fully sure that this fits within the scope of AAM — it’s not work-related, but I feel that there is a great deal of overlap. I am the head administrator in an online writing group, where members frequently come together to collaborate on writing stories. In some ways, despite it being a hobby that we’re all doing for fun, being an administrator is at times a lot like a job.

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update: I’m jealous of my attractive employee and it’s impacting how I treat her

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Remember the letter-writer who was jealous of her attractive employee and it was impacting how she treated her? The first update is here , second update is here , and the third update is here.) Here’s a new update. I have been sober since March 19, 2017. I completed my rehab programs for both my addiction issues and my eating disorder. I still visit my therapist once a week for a check-in.

update your summer work wardrobe without blowing your bank account  

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And now a word from a sponsor… . If you want to refresh your work wardrobe for summer without blowing your bank account, thredUP is a great place to do it. thredUP is the largest online consignment and thrift store where you can shop high-quality items at up to 90% off estimated retail.

we have to write deeply personal poems and share them at a staff meeting

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A reader writes: I work for a small values-driven company, and recently there has been an effort to do more relationship building among staff. Ahead of our next all staff meeting, we are required to write a “where I’m from” poem, based on the format of this work by George Ella Lyon. While it seems like a fine introspective journaling activity, I am uncomfortable with the requirement to write them and share them with our coworkers and leadership.

my coworkers follow me into the bathroom with work questions

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A reader writes: I’ve worked IT help desk for seven years in this position, and ten years in total. Recently my company has converted to open space offices. This has changed the dynamic in my office, and now people want me to drop everything at any time to help them whenever they walk to my desk. I’ve been getting followed into the bathroom every single day since the move. Yesterday I got stopped every single trip. It isn’t just the bathroom.

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I don’t want my employees to wear headphones

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A reader writes: I have two I.T. employees who like to wear headphones, not earbuds, at their desks during business hours. It’s awkward when someone approaches them for support and there’s a brief waiting period for the employee to remove the headphones and acknowledge the person. I find this unnerving when I approach either of them and have to wait, and suspect many of my users may feel the same. In addition, I think it simply looks bad for I.T. support.

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how much money do you make?

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It’s hard to get real-world information about what jobs pay, especially tailored to a particular industry or geographic region. Online salary websites are often inaccurate, and people can get weird when you ask them directly. In 2014 and 2017, in an effort to take some of the mystery out of salaries, I ran posts asking people to share how much money they make, their job, and their geographic region. People have been asking for it again, so let’s do an updated version.

I bombed in an interview I asked for, employee wants to skip lunch and leave early every day, and more

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It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…. I bombed in an interview I asked for. I’m in a customer-facing role at a large company, and I’m interested in advancing into a management role.

how to be successful without hurting men’s feelings

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How To 143

Newton’s Guide to OFCCP Compliance

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rejecting anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you note is terrible hiring

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There was a big kerfluffle on Twitter this weekend when the executive managing editor of Business Insider published an article saying that she refused to hire anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you note after their interview. It doesn’t matter if they were otherwise her top candidate — if they don’t send a thank-you, they get rejected. Hey, I wrote something! … I’ve been hiring people for 10 years, and I still swear by a simple rule: If someone doesn’t send a thank you email, don’t hire them. link].

do I need to work with the woman my father had an affair with?

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A reader writes: I am employed by a nonprofit that works with low-income students. I love my job and think my doing it has a positive impact on others. I like my boss and coworkers. We also have an employee who kind of works as an assistant who does data input and organizes our lecture schedules. We are hiring a new person for that position and our manager sent us a shortlist of people she was considering. She asked us if we had any input/prior interaction with the candidates.

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my employee is hassling coworkers about their clothes, their language, and her feelings

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A reader writes: I hired a new team member, “Jane,” six months ago. She’s competent and diligent, but now that she’s coming out of her shell, her rigidity around her idea of professional norms are quickly alienating her team members as well as other people on staff. * She complains about women colleagues’ workwear for being too revealing. It’s not. * She is offended by cursing in the office — she is firmly against it to the point of lecturing other employees.

I’ve been offered the job — but they won’t tell me the salary until we can meet face-to-face

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A reader writes: Last week I received a job offer from a company I interviewed with. The hiring manager called me to verbally offer me the position, then followed it up with an email offer that her boss and HR were copied on. The email let me know that the company’s HR rep would contact me immediately with an offer letter.

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