coworker is angry about a prank, contacting my daughter’s employer about her affair, 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 is really angry about a prank

Some of my colleagues decided to pull (what they thought was) a harmless prank on a coworker. The coworker, “Jane,” is particular about her car – she always parks far from the entrance because she is concerned about car door “dings” and does not want anyone to park near her. As a joke, several people pulled their cars around her one morning last week. No one touched her car or impeded her ability to get into the car or leave the parking lot.

When Jane saw what they had done, she went ballistic and started yelling at everyone in the office. Keep in mind, Jane is usually the first to pull a silly prank in the office (think printing out pictures and papering a coworker’s cube with them).

Fast forward to today, and the weekend didn’t calm her down – nearly a week later, she is still refusing to speak to anyone involved in the prank. She has started parking her car even further out to ensure it is the only one in the area. The office is typically a friendly place, but Jane feels hard done by and shows no signs of getting over this. The employees who engaged in the prank feel she is completely overreacting since no harm came to her or the vehicle. It is a public lot after all with no assigned spots. Thoughts on what to do?

Pranks tend to be highly controversial in the comment section here (I suspect they’re more controversial here than anywhere in real life, but who knows) but since Jane has a track record of pulling pranks herself, I can’t fault your coworkers for thinking she’d see the humor in this. (You of course shouldn’t do this to someone who’s known not to be able to take a joke or laugh at themselves, because then it’s mean-spirited rather than funny.)

That said, since she’s upset by it, the coworkers involved should apologize. It doesn’t need to be a groveling apology or anything that would be out of proportion to what happened. But they should say something like, “Hey, we’re sorry that upset you. We meant it as an affectionate joke and thought you’d find it funny. But we see that you didn’t, so we’re sorry it upset you.”

If Jane continues to refuse to speak to people after that, a manager needs to intervene and tell her to let it go.


2. Contacting my daughter’s employer about her affair

First, the behavior coming from my daughter is not her. It’s as though someone has taken her away.

My daughter started a new job end of November. She has always had a strong working ethic and went to college for human resources. We just recently found out she had been partying with girls from work and they have been encouraged her in having an affair. Well, her husband found out she is having an affair and all of us have been losing sleep and are emotionally stressed. He (husband) did talk to her and they had a plan to work it out.

The following day she had lunch with these girls and since has changed her mind and is staying with this guy and his roommate. Last night I found out the guy she is having the affair with is also on a dating site.

My daughter has been with her husband for seven years and he is devastated and wants to work on the marriage. I would like to contact the company and let them know what’s going on and also ask if they have a fraternization policy. What are your recommendations?

Oh my goodness, no. Do not under any circumstances contact her employer. This is not a work matter; this is between your daughter and her husband. Contacting her employer would be incredibly out of line.

I’m sure this is painful for you to watch, but you can’t interfere with your adult daughter’s employment in that way (or her personal life, for that matter).


3. An employee told me she found another job and gave me an “offer” letter with the option to terminate her

I just had an employee bring a letter to me saying that she had an opportunity to work elsewhere and that she will be taking that job but would still be available to work for our company one day a week. If we decided not to accept her offer for one day a week, then she would “terminate” her employment with us. At the bottom of the page, it had a place for me to sign whether I accepted her one day a week, or declined her one day a week and accepted that it would be termination. Because she used the word “terminate,” I did not feel comfortable signing her letter because WE are not terminating her employment, SHE has decided to stop working her full time hours with us. But at the same time, we do not need an employee that will only be here once a week. We had a conversation about this and verbally informed her that one day a week would not work for our company and told her to write a letter of resignation and turn it in as soon as possible.

This was then followed by another letter “from her to our company” stating her termination of employment with the company. It also mentioned that she had offered to work one day a week and that it had been declined by the company. Again, I did not feel comfortable signing her letter because I did not agree with her wording. I told her that the letter must state that she is the one resigning from the position offered to her.

I have never had an employee resign this way. What do I do? Have I done anything wrong so far? Should I just continue to not sign her letters?

Yeah, this is super sketchy. She’s trying to make it look like you are letting her go — either so that she can collect unemployment (which she probably can’t anyway, since she’s accepting another job) or for some other reason, which is probably just a misunderstanding of the law.

I’d say this: “We’re not terminating you. You’re telling us that you’ve accepted another job and resigned. We are accepting your resignation.” If she says not resigning because she’s offering you one day a week, say this: “Your position is full-time. There’s not a part-time role available. We consider this a resignation, and aren’t going to continue debating this.” If she keeps pushing, say this: “I’m confused about what your goal is here. Is there some reason why you want this to be considered a termination?”

Also, stop trying to get her to write a resignation letter; if she won’t, she won’t, and at this point it’s just prolonging the debate. Write a memo explaining what happened, being as detailed as possible, and file it away. Additionally, give her a letter documenting the fact that she’s resigned, you’ve accepted it, and her last day will be X. Decline to discuss further.


4. I accidentally described myself as “outgoing” when I’m not

When I interviewed for my upcoming job, I was asked to describe myself in three words or phrases. I said “professional, a self-starter, and outgoing.”

The first two are true, but I’m not outgoing. I’m usually introverted and quiet, although I am very good at networking. Also, my last job required a looooot of customer service interaction (700 or so people in an 8-hour shift), so I was primed to think of that while I was interviewing.

I swear that saying that wasn’t intended as a lie! It was just something that came to mind and I said it without thinking. But when I start this next job — which is NOT a customer-facing position — are they going to be expecting me to be super outgoing, or can I be more like myself?

Nah, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. They’re probably not going to mention the exact details of your answer to that question, and even if they did, they’re not likely to hold it against you.

The only thing I’d worry about here is whether you may have inadvertently gotten yourself hired into a job that isn’t the right match for you — if they really want/need someone who’s outgoing and you’re not. But (a) it’s unlikely that a single word in an interview would result in that, and (b) it sounds like you’ve adapted to environments that required a lot of interaction in the past.

Either way, your best bet here is to be yourself and see how it goes.


Read an update to this letter here.

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