updates: the boss’s son who yells, the student who won’t take feedback, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My boss’s son constantly yells at him in the office

First of all, I want to thank you for your incredible advice on dealing with my old boss and his son (yes, I said OLD boss!).

I did end up asking a few others in the office about the situation and everyone said pretty much the same thing — that’s just how it is. Everyone was too scared to stand up to the boss and his family so nobody had ever said anything (ever!!) and I was advised to just ignore it. So I did and it kept happening and along with a few other reasons, including but not limited to lack of work, my taking on receptionist duties when I was hired to do architectural work, and the fact that I just wasn’t happy and depression from work was sinking into my personal life, I decided to leave not long after I sent you the original letter. I decided that I deserved so much better and staying there meant that I was accepting into my life things that felt toxic and made me a worse version of myself. I’m creative and passionate and I need to feel needed at my work.

I had only worked there for less than 6 months so I didn’t leave lightly and I fortunately interviewed many places before I decided on a position that met my standards for company culture, dynamic, and could help me reach my career goals. It was really hard to trust another employee after I felt like I had been lied to and tricked at my last company but I couldn’t have made a better decision in more perfect timing.

When COVID-19 hit and things started getting shut down in my city, my new company provided me with a full at-home workstation and equipment to do my job, while my old company provided its employees with nothing to help them and some even got laid off. I’m extremely grateful to have such an amazing opportunity and circumstance in this scary time. I will definitely still lean on your advice to learn from the situation and use what happened there to aid me in future discourse in my new work environment.

2. A student isn’t addressing my feedback on her work (#2 at the link)

This particular student disagreed with a lot of the advice that I gave her. I tried my best to explain my advice by giving her examples in her writing and explaining why my suggestions would help to make her writing better. In some cases she agreed, and in some cases she just did not agree. At first I took it more personally than I should, because I do care about her learning and her improving at writing. However, I eventually realized that in cases where she may not agree with me, I’m not obligated to keep giving her examples or explaining myself. In the end, people do what they think is best, and her writing is her writing, after all.
Your advice and the readers’ advice did really help! I’ve since learned to stop taking disagreements personally, and to be better about providing feedback in a way that teaches but does not offend. I think that like writing, providing feedback is a learning process, and I’m going to keep working on getting better.

3. I don’t want to eat all my meals with my coworker when we travel together (#2 at the link)

The big twist was that Jane wound up bringing along a young woman that she was mentoring. At the end of the first day, I told both of them I was tired so my plans were to pick up food across the street and head to my room. I offered to bring them food back if they wanted but said otherwise they were on their own. Their response was… odd. A rushed response of how neither of them were planning on eating but both had their separate plans and would be fine. Ok, not my business, I was glad to be out of it.

The next morning was more oddness. The mentee joined me first and started telling me about her evening and then seemed to slip and mention that they had gone to dinner together. Ok, I still don’t care. But then Jane showed up and it was this stammering mess as she tried to pass off the dinner comment as a mistake and nothing really happened but they did wind up bumping into each other and it was just a quick bite… It was incredibly awkward! I didn’t mind the dinner at all but was uncomfortable at the obvious lying.

They spent most of the rest of the week together which made it easy to excuse myself. We did go out for Happy Hour one night and I considered that my obligation completed. Moving back to the office I’ve just been trying to distance myself from Jane as much as possible to avoid the drama and now everybody is working from home! We’ll be moving to different office locations soon and I hope that’s the end of it.

updates: the boss’s son who yells, the student who won’t take feedback, and more was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

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