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Hoops

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iaravps
12 hours ago
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Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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how to respond to unclear “let me know when you have some time” requests

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This post, how to respond to unclear “let me know when you have some time” requests , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’m in a sort-of HR role, where it’s normal for colleagues to need my guidance on certain things. Sometimes it’s a quick policy question, sometimes it’s much more in depth, and very often there are legal considerations that mean the question should actually be directed to our legal or payroll departments.

Because I tend to be more approachable than those teams, I often get emails and instant messages along the lines of “let me know when you have some time to talk.” I’m always happy to meet with people (it’s literally my job!) but these types of messages are a pet peeve of mine because they don’t include any context and I can never predict if it’s going to be an easy question or an emotional unloading.

Is there a professional way to say “please tell me what you need so I can tell you if I have the time / emotional bandwidth to have this conversation right now”? I feel comfortable being straightforward to some coworkers I’m friendly with but I don’t have that relationship with everyone and I need to protect my own well-being sometimes, even if it’s just a five-minute heads up that my day is about to go in a different direction.

For what it’s worth, I try to give others the same courtesy and say, “Let me know when you have 15 minutes to discuss X topic” but don’t know how to get others to do the same for me.

This is so, so common and I don’t know why. If you’re busy, of course you need a sense of the topic so that you know how to prioritize it against other stuff you also need to take care of.

And while one might assume that if the situation were urgent, the asker would tell you that … in fact, quite a few people do not! Quite a lot of people (especially when they’re less experienced / early in their careers) use “tell me when you have a few minutes” for important and even time-sensitive things.

It’s not just about urgency, either. It’s also about knowing how much time a topic is likely to take (if it’s about X you might know that will take two minutes and find it easier to just talk right now, but if it’s Y you might want to wait until you have time for a longer conversation), as well as knowing if you’re even the right person for it (there’s no point in making someone wait two days to meet with you and then have it turn out that you need to direct them to a different person anyway).

So what you want is very reasonable. And there is a way to ask for it. The key is just to make sure you don’t sound so harried or put-upon that the person will hesitate when they need things from you in the future.

I’d say it this way: “I can definitely make time! Can you tell me the topic so I know how to prioritize it around other stuff?”

If you do this consistently, over time you can usually train people to start including the topic in their requests up-front.

One caveat: sometimes a topic is so specific or personal that the person can’t disclose it in advance without having the whole conversation on the spot. (For example: quitting. They could try language like “I have some news to share,” but even that is generally interpreted to mean quitting or parental leave.) So if you get the sense that someone is deliberately being cryptic, it can be good to just roll with it.

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iaravps
4 days ago
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I need to think up a version of this for friends who'll send 'let me know when you have some time' and leave me wondering if they wanna share some big news or just chat
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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Have an Idea

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iaravps
7 days ago
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Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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The Optimistic Pessimist

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The Optimistic Pessimist

Or maybe it’s the pessimistic optimist?

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iaravps
9 days ago
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going into 2022 like
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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is it weird for my employees to see me naked at a spa, traveling for a job at my expense, and more

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This post, is it weird for my employees to see me naked at a spa, traveling for a job at my expense, and more , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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

1. Is it weird for employees to see a manager naked at a spa?

I am in negotiations for a role as a member of the upper-level management team for a spa. This is in a smaller town and there are between 20-30 employees. I have used this business’s services in the past, although I am not a regular.

One of the listed perks of this position is that upper-level management can have a free service every month and can use the steam and sauna facilities. Typically, all of these services are enjoyed by clients in the nude. I love massages and using the facilities, but I cannot help but feel uncomfortable with the prospect of an employee that I’m managing seeing and interacting with me in a state of undress. It feels too vulnerable and like I’d be undermining my authority.

I’m unfamiliar with the company culture around this. Maybe it’s a normal part of the industry? Am I overthinking this? Or should I be considering facials and mani-pedis instead of massage?

With the massage part, my understanding is that that is indeed a normal element of that industry (at least in that people who hire massage therapists have candidates perform a massage as part of the hiring process) and they’re not looking at you as particularly naked but just as another client whose muscles they need access to (and you’d presumably be draped). That said, it’s an intimate service to have performed by someone you have power over, and I’d abstain for that reason — the power dynamics of “I’m here for my free service because I’m upper management” just feel icky to me. But I also don’t work in that field so I’d be interested to hear from readers who do.

The sauna doesn’t involve that same power dynamic since you’re just sitting there without anyone working on you — but yeah, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around hanging out nude around people who work for you (assuming you’re in the U.S. and not Finland). I’d go with your instincts on that one, too.

2. Can I refuse home office equipment I don’t need?

I work as a data analyst for a small local nonprofit that is part of a large network. Because I no longer live locally, I have been working primarily from home for over three years now. I am now about to start a secondment with the “mother organization” which will be entirely work from home. They are sending me a new laptop and also a monitor screen, keyboard, and mouse.

Here is the thing though: while when I am physically in an office I don’t mind working from a desk like everyone else, in my home when left to my own devices I am very much NOT a desk person. I typically work from bed/a sofa /an armchair or lounger, with the laptop in my lap. There is a desk in my home (with a screen as well) , but my partner, who occasionally works from home and, unlike me, very much is a desk person, is the only one using it. He has his own monitor on the desk, plus an old one we have lying around. Finding any kind of space for a third monitor I don’t use would be rather tricky.

I wrote back that I don’t think I will need a screen, since I prefer using the laptop directly. My secondment manager wrote back that I may still need it, since the laptop keyboard can be flimsy and the screen is a bit small. (I’m used to small screens, in my regular job so my main input on the laptop was,”I don’t want a big laptop, I want one I can plop in my bag and even work on in the train and bus if needed.” Also, I don’t think I will ever do any work that requires two screens, like transcribing.)

At this point, is there a professional way to push back and basically say “No, you don’t understand, I work from a blanket nest in my bed”? Or shall I just take the screen and stick it on top of the wardrobe in the extreme off chance I might need it?

Hello, fellow desk-hater! The only seating my home office has is a couch and I love it that way.

That said, if you have room for the monitor, I’d let them send it for now, at least until you have a better feel for what the work will be like. It could turn out to have a use that you’re not anticipating now. But if you really don’t have room for it and it would be a burden to store, it should be fine to say, “I rarely work at a desk — I’m a couch person and I’m in a small space without a lot of space to put it. If you don’t anticipate specific projects that will require it, my preference is just the laptop.”

3. Can my remote job make me visit the office at my own expense?

In 2020, during the height of Covid travel restrictions, I found a new job for a small company in a different state, about a five-hour drive away from me, that was happy to let me work remotely full-time. While the job is emotionally rewarding, the salary is far from lavish, but I live frugally in an inexpensive area, so it’s manageable. While they would love for me to sell my affordable house and move closer to the office (which is naturally in a more expensive city and a popular tourist destination in the area), they haven’t offered any reasonable incentive to do so.

We’re getting some new management and they would love me to come in for in-person meet and greets, occasional all-hands meetings, but in the past, I’ve been told that the company doesn’t have the budget to compensate me for mileage, hotel, or any other travel expenses. Can they require me to make such a long journey and find last-minute accommodations in a tourist town on my own dime?

Well, there’s what they can do and what they should do.

If they’re requiring you to come in, they should cover your costs, unless you made a different arrangement when you took the job. I give that caveat because occasionally an employer that didn’t set out to hire someone remote will agree to let someone go remote as long as they’re willing to get themselves to the office once or twice a year. (I’ve particularly seen that arrangement in some nonprofits, when they feel they can’t responsibly spend donor money on extra travel just because someone prefers to be remote.) But assuming there’s no pre-existing agreement that you happily signed on for, they should cover your travel costs since those are part of their business costs — doubly so if they’re requiring you to make the trip.

Legally, though, it’s a different question. Some states, like California, require employers to reimburse employees for all business costs, so this presumably wouldn’t fly there. But in the majority of states, which have no such laws, your employer could indeed make you pay for it, assuming it didn’t violate a contract to the contrary.

Personally I’d try holding firm that you won’t pay for it and see what happens. But you’d need to balance that against how much you’d care if that contributed to them deciding not to have remote staff anymore (and your sense of how likely that is to happen).

4. Should managers schedule breaks in advance?

I’m trying to teach my 17-year-old daughter about work expectations, so I have this question for you. Her store manager gets upset when she comes in five minutes early for her shift to look or ask about her breaks. She was only asking to see when her breaks are so that she could let me know when I could drop off a holiday meal to her. Her manager told her that she would let her know when she could have a break. Should a company have breaks scheduled when they put out the schedules or is it okay for them to fly by the seat of their pants and decide who can have break when they deem it is the right time and not give employees enough notice so that they can be able to enjoy a meal on their break?

It’s pretty common in retail and similar types of jobs not to have breaks scheduled in advance, since available break times can depend on when things are ebbing and flowing on any given day. It’s not inherently unreasonable for a manager to want to wait for a slower time and you can’t always predict those beforehand. (They do need to comply with any state laws about when a break must be taken, though.)

5. Recruiters reach out on LinkedIn but still want my resume

Six months ago, I started a new job at a well-known company in a hot sector. Since then, I have been receiving LinkedIn messages from recruiters about once a month. These messages tell me that they are from company X and are looking to fill role Y (with varying levels of specificity — some just state the generic job function, others give the job title), that I seem like a good fit based on my experience, and am I interested and would I like to take a call?

Even though I’m not planning to move now, I’ve replied to a few that seemed interesting, accepting the invitation to chat. (These are for the companies that I could see myself interviewing for within the next 6-12 months.) However, the recruiters invariably then ask me for my resume to proceed further. Am I nuts for feeling slightly annoyed by this? If they’ve reached out to me on LinkedIn, a resume site, “based on my experience,” why are they asking for my resume before initiating a call? If I were applying to their role proactively, sure, I should send my resume, but here it’s them reaching out. They don’t even link to a job description so I can’t take a basic first look.

Why do recruiters do this? And is there a better way to reply to these messages to start building a recruiter relationship?

They’re asking because people’s resumes are often more detailed than their LinkedIn profiles and if you move forward in the process they’re going to need your resume to get you formally into their system and their client’s system. That said, a good recruiter should understand that when they reach out to you, they shouldn’t expect you to jump through hoops before you’ve even had a chance to talk to them.

With a good recruiter, you’ll be able to say, “I’m not actively searching right now and so don’t have an up-to-date resume. I’d be glad to get you one if there’s mutual interest after our initial call.” On the other hand, with a crappy recruiter who’s taking a scattershot approach to approaching anyone who looks remotely qualified, that may be the last you hear of them since for them it’s just a numbers game.

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iaravps
9 days ago
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Ask a Manager is pretty much the only blog where I'm genuinely curious about reader's comments on certain questions (saving this to see if anyone explains work norms at saunas)
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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#1361: “I can’t leave that one unrequited love alone.”

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Hello! 

This is a bit complex, but I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. 

A particular relationship (or rather, a lack thereof) has been paining me for years. 

I (36 F) met L (55 M) almost 10 years ago when I was bartending. He was a regular, and while I found him very attractive, A: he was married (albeit lengthily and unhappily, which was known to the other regulars) and B: I have a lot of insecurity about my appearance and didn’t think he’d be attracted to me. One night my shift relief didn’t come in on time, causing me to miss a ride to an event with friends. When my relief did show up he offered to give me a ride. In a turn of events that surprised me we wound up hooking up that night. 

I was in a terribly position financially and in regards to living arrangements and he helped me multiple times without my asking him for anything, and didn’t hold his help over my head. We continued to hook up with the understanding that it wouldn’t lead to anything, but I fell for him, as one does. 

I confessed my feelings to him and he confessed similar feelings for me, but said that he didn’t see how divorce was possible for him at the time (he and the wife share 2 children who were both going through a considerable amount and relied heavily on both parents for support.) 

This hurt me deeply, but I accepted it and eventually started seeing another man (33 M) whom we’ll call P. I’d been very honest with P about my feelings for L, and that being in a serious relationship wasn’t in the cards as long as those feelings were present. P managed to convince me that L wasn’t genuine and that I’d be better off with him. Wanting very much to be wanted, I began a relationship with P that wound up being incredibly toxic and abusive. It lasted for about 6 years, and abandoned communicating with L at Ps request. 

Eventually the relationship with P imploded and I reconnected with L in 2018. All of the old feelings were still there, and though we now lived 4 hours apart, we met up several times and stayed overnight at hotels together. Though we cared deeply for each other, L was concerned that I lived too far away for a relationship to work. 

At the end of 2020, I made the move north that I thought would be better for my job prospects as well as possibly make some headway with L. I was very surprised upon moving that he was seeing someone. According to him, he never thought I’d make the move. We stopped talking for several weeks, but wound up texting again after that relationship failed for him. After a lot of texting and a few outings to lunch, we slept together several more times. 

Throughout all of this, I’ve been plagued endlessly by abandonment issues, impatience, and longing for this very cautious man whom I’ve loved for almost a decade at this point. In anger I’ve pushed him away repeatedly, only to text back during lonely periods. I very recently blew up on him via text, demanding an answer. Eventually he informed me that while he had feelings for me, he couldn’t abide being repeatedly pushed away and is now “trying to live peacefully.” 

I’ve accepted that as best I can and am continuing my therapy for various mental health issues. 

Recently, another blow was dealt in that he’s recently been diagnosed with what is probably a brain tumor and I’m in absolute shreds over this. 

What do I do? 

Sincerely, 

At A Loss 

Dear At A Loss,

Between you, me, and the Internet I can admit that there have been times when I was low and lonely and somebody came along who was a) absolutely a bad idea on every possible indicator level and b) seemed like the only human capable of making me feel like a living, breathing person in a moment when I really needed that. Alas, I’m not a stranger to the “relationship” that’s  intoxicating and perfect as long as nobody else knows about it, as long as nobody actually needs anything from it, and as long as it touches the space-time continuum and normal, functional, daily life as seldom as possible. So please know, I”m not judging your grief or the longings that led you here. You were lost, and L. made you feel like you were found, and nobody else had ever done that in quite that way before, so you told yourself that driving several hours to fuck in a hotel room, or staying loyal to him even while you were involved with other people, or, at long last, moving across state lines for him was the kind of grand gesture that would add up to a future together: You could love him so much that it would constitute a form of proof. 

But other people don’t work that way. Your feelings were so deep and true that you didn’t notice or found ways to ignore how consistently this guy told you, “This is all there is or will ever be” between meeting now and then for sex/lunch. It’s not that he never had feelings for you, but I think that there’s always been a “but” if you’d only listen to the end of the sentence:

  • “…I’m married and not getting a divorce because the kids need me.” 
  • “…I”m seeing someone else.” /”…I never thought you’d move here.”  It’s unclear whether L. was still married AND seeing someone else on the side when you rolled into town, but, let’s be real. It’s far from impossible.
  • “…I just want to live peacefully.” (i.e. “I didn’t expect you to actually need and depend on me” “I’ve considered your ultimatum and I guess the answer is ‘no’.” “Whoa, sorry, still not leaving my wife, especially now that I’ll need someone to do the hardcore care-taking!”) 
  •  Consider that the night you first hooked up was a surprise to you, but I highly doubt it was much of surprise to the 45-year-old married barfly who pounced the second you were in a vulnerable place.

The tumor is a cruel twist, but maybe it’s also a giant, flaming arrow pointing in the direction of It’s long past time for you to grieve this man like he died and start getting on with the rest of your life.”

As for how to do that, you already know: Keep going to therapy. Delete his number and block or otherwise shut down any of the ways he can get in touch with you. Start locking your phone in a time-safe at night or other vulnerable times so you won’t be tempted to text him. Pour your feelings into a journal and letters that you don’t send. Find ways to be nice to yourself. Sing all the sad songs at the top of your lungs. Keep your Asshole Detector polished and sharp so you’re not tempted by the next troubled, unavailable dude who crosses your path. Repeat after me: “Unhappily married” unfaithful men are married men, not boyfriend material. They all have a story about why they are different and special, and when you’re 26 (like you were when you first met L.) they can sound very compelling, but the older you get the more you’ll realize that all the stories sound exactly the same: “I would like to have sex with you, and I have Very Good Reasons for why nothing is ever my fault.” 

Mourn L., yes, but as a way to being done with him. The feelings will have their say awhile yet, but this limbo of “what do I do?” ends the second you accept what’s already happening, the second you take L. at his word that he doesn’t want to actually build anything with you.. He wasn’t the one for you. You can say for sure that you tried everything. Stop trying. Lay down this project where you fix him or fix the situation somehow. You name yourself “At a Loss,” but it’s past time to cut your losses.

I truly don’t know where people like this come from, and I don’t know where they go once they pass through our lives, I’ve never had the fortitude to follow the wake of destruction back to the source when it’s me digging out of the rubble. Do they go back to the shitty marriages they complained about constantly? Back to sending secret sexts to their latest dopamine supply? Do they eventually get therapists of their own and realize, “wait, I was being a giant piece of shit, I’ll definitely stop that!” or do they just serially hit on all the junior staff and everyone in their AA meetings, world without end? I don’t know what justice looks like here, even as I convert my own past follies into cautionary tales.

Letter Writer, I predict that if you do the work to get L. out of your system, if you cut your losses and truly let time heal that part of you, there’s a future for you on the other side of all this where some pathetic married geezer will attempt to put the moves on you or some younger version of you out where you can see, and you’ll throw your head back and just fucking CACKLE at his audacity. “Oh, did you mistake this for free marriage counseling? Surely you weren’t whining about your wife and kids as a seduction technique?”  The other ladies around the bar will have a good laugh together, and you’ll all make sure everybody has a safe ride home, while he slinks off into the night with howls of derision ringing in his ears. When it happens, pour one out for L., it will be a tribute as good as any stone or marker.



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iaravps
9 days ago
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Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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