1. polite punk

    I have a question regarding references…I work in a field that is almost impossible to find a full time position, but once or twice a year, I find a job to apply to. I have three strong references that I’ve used continuously in the past and I want to know if it’s appropriate to email them each time to enquire about listing them. I absolutely hate it when people list me without asking, but at the same time, I also don’t want to keep bothering these people every eight months to see if I can list them. Thoughts?

    • Elizabeth

      If it is every 8 months, I think it is worth sending an email or calling them up. First, you can check in and see how they are, give updates on your life, etc. Second, you can let them know you’re applying for a job, and would it be alright to use them as a reference again? This is good, because it gives them a heads-up that someone might be contacting them.

  2. Kate

    My sibling recently passed away unexpectedly and tragically. Some people expressing sympathy are saying things that only make my parents and I feel worse. They range from “I guess it you’re an only child now,” to “It was probably meant to be.” And yesterday a woman we barely know accosted my mother in public, and my poor mom felt trapped in a conversation with this woman for nearly 20 minutes that left her in tears. (I wasn’t there, or I would have pulled her away.) Is there anything polite we can say to these (presumably) well-meaning that explains we don’t wish to discuss it or that their comments are hurtful? I have to return to state where I live in a few days, and I’d like to give my parents a few stock options they can use in the coming weeks. Thank you.

    • These are truly odd statements (because when you’re facing unexpected loss, “I guess you’re and only child now” is a terribly odd thing to say… and just plain terrible).
      I suggest the following:
      – When being accosted in public. “I’d rather not discuss it at this time.” Repeat as necessary.
      – When asked, “so what’s it like to be an only child?” “How kind of you to take an interest.” Then silence. Or, “I’d rather not discuss it at this time.”
      – “I guess it was meant to be/Johnny’s in heaven now.” I suggest not saying anything to those types of comments, as the person is well-meaning. I’m not saying those are appropriate comments, but there is generally no nosiness nor malice intended.

      I am sorry for your loss.

    • Elizabeth

      How awful. While you and your family are in this period of deep grief, I encourage you to prioritize your own health and well-being over appearing nice and polite to these boorish people.

      Your poor mother should feel free to say:
      “This is actually very difficult for me to discuss right now, so I’d rather not continue the conversation. Thanks for your concern.” (then walk away)
      “Actually, we don’t feel like it was meant to me, and do not take any comfort in that sentiment. But thank you for your concern.” (then walk away)
      “Thanks for your concern, but your sentiments are rather painful to hear right now. Excuse me.” (then walk away)
      “I’m still at a point in the grieving process in which it is difficult for me to talk about my son/daughter without becoming very upset, so I’d rather not do it right now/in public/with you.”
      “I”m late for something, excuse me.”

      While some of these statements may seem abrupt, it isn’t rude for her to express her feelings and it certainly isn’t rude for her (or any of you) to protect yourselves from an onslaught of misery from these well-intentioned but clueless people.

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