Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: outliers

Unspoken (and ever-changing) norms

Today over at Ask A Manager, in the first post of the day (5 questions type post, which is typically the first post), the first two questions got the most response. Thefirst question was about training a coworker who was hopeless, and the second about a pumping mother who was getting heat from HR. I knew those two questions were going to get the bulk of the comments, and I was not wrong.

However, it was the third one that had the most interesting responses (to me). The question was from someone who worked in fundraising in a room with two big whiteboards. They used the first one for work, but the second one was blank. They put up five pics of their family on that board. Their question was if that was too much. The usually saw the donors offsite. They didn’t want to be unprofessional, but they were in an office that talked freely about family. They (I think it’s a woman, but not 100% sure) were in their thirties, but perceived to be younger. They did not want the pictures to make them appear anything less than professional.

Alison’s reply was measured and thoughtful. She said it was probably fine in that office, but tif the letter writer (LW) really felt uncomfortable, they could pare back. Alison also said that it wouldn’t make the LW look young (that was another part of the concern) in the way photos of partying would. I had no disagreements with Alison’s answer; however, the comments from the commentariat were all over the place.

First thing to note is that I swear the LW mentioned putting up five photos, but I can’t find that referenec. In her answer, Alison says a dozen in too much. I was pretty sure someone in the comments–found it. Someone did mention 5 family photos. And the LW did say threeof their new baby and two of their wedding, but they also mentioned that they ‘filled’ the whiteboard and those seemed like an example so I don’t know how many.

That’s besides the point, though. It jjust seems wild to me that people in the comments were coming down so hard on the LW for the amount of pictures. One went so far as to do the ‘of course I want to hear about people’s families and of course I support people bringing their whole selves to work’–which was followed with the inevitable ‘but’.

It’s amusing to me bceasue I never put up anything personal when I worked in an office and that was considered weird. There have been letters to Alison about that as well. How people find it troubling when the OP didn’t have anything up on their walls. One said they got so many comments, they just brought in a few random things and the comments stopped.

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