Open Thread

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  1. Jane

    My company has a board member who routinely arrives to meetings and events anywhere from thirty minutes to 2 hours early (without prior notice). The board member bypasses the lobby and finds a way to socialize with staff members – either by knocking unannounced on office doors, or by appearing in the event space. For staff members, the time just prior to meetings/events is when we’re most busy with final preparations.

    On multiple occasions, I’ve commented to the board member on the early arrival, or mentioned that I can’t socialize until I’m finished with my task at hand. It doesn’t seem to work. The board member either continues to chat at me, or makes what I perceive to be a passive-aggressive comment about their displeasure in the situation.

    I think general consensus of staff members is that this early arrival is rude. But we haven’t found a way to put an end to this behavior, particularly because it comes from our board member. Any suggestions?

    • Jody

      Jane, does your company have a regular staff member who’s a designated Board liaison? Maybe that person can speak with this board member about the early arrival. Another idea might be for the liaison to send a general message to the entire board, something along the lines of “please give me your input/matters/items for discussion by X time as our staff uses the time immediately before the event to prepare.”

      Unfortunately I don’t have a better idea. I think your system of a polite “nice to see you but I apologize for not being able to socialize at the moment” is a good one. If you just keep working even if this board member is around, maybe he’ll eventually get the idea.

  2. Ashley

    I have this serious problem. I am a junior in college. I have never dated before and I am a very shy person. To top it off, I am very pretty so every where I go, guys are smiling broadly at me. I thought they were being friendly initially(I am from another country), so I smiled back at them. However, all it led to were problems. These guys would sit behind me in class and giggle, look at me and look away shyly, laugh loudly whenever I am became hell it I just started sitting right near the front of the class. When I start avoiding these guys, they start giving me mean looks. I want to know the right way to approach boys to make friends(not looking to date). I don’t want to run away from everyone and avoid all such situations. This is just making me shier than ever. How do you talk to men without making them think you want to date them? I can only talk to one person at a time (ie, I can’t talk to a whole gang together) as I am quite shy. I see other girls who are friends with guys, and they are all so normal. Does smiling at a guy mean you want to date them?Please help.

    • Alicia

      Relax. No smiles do not mean want to date. But certain looks do.You mention your dating history but being friends that is not the issue. Become friends with some of those normal girls first and they can introduce you to their decent guy friends and you can talk to both your friend and the guys at the same time. Being shy in a different country must be a hard thing.

    • Elizabeth

      These guys sound a bit immature, to be honest. A couple of suggestions: ask your female friends to introduce you to their male friends. These guys will have already been “vetted” and you know they will be used to have girls as friends. The other suggestion is to find yourself a fabulous gay man to befriend. He can fill you in on all the details about guys, and you don’t have to worry that he’ll be interested in you.

      • Joanna

        “To top it off, I am very pretty ”

        Um…wow. I’m not saying you aren’t, but to have a person say that of themselves is a bit, well, conceited. Is it possible that you are somehow conveying this attitude to the guys around you, and that is what’s responsible for their shying away instead?

        • Tara


          I think there is nothing wrong with Elizabeth saying she is very pretty. Also I find calling her conceited is a bit mean. If you were speaking with her face-to-face would you call her conceited? I certainly wouldn’t and believe you shouldn’t treat the internet any differently. There is nothing wrong with thinking you are pretty!

          • Elizabeth

            That was Ashley (the OP) that said that, not me! But I agree with you. I read the statement “I am very pretty” to mean “I am pretty by conventional standards” or “my looks attract attention from the opposite sex,” neither of which raised a flag for me. Like it or not, there are conventional standards of beauty that are easily articulated: thinness, youth, clear skin, symmetry of features, long eye lashes, etc, and I don’t think it’s conceited to realize that you fit those standards. It doesn’t mean that one thinks that one is “better” than anyone else.

  3. Jennifer

    I am a full time student at a private Christian college that has VERY LITTLE diversity. It seems like around 97% of the students are age 23 and under, live on campus, and almost all are straight out of high school and this is the first time for them to be out on their own. Away from their parents. I am 28 years old, married (no kids), and live about an hour away and have to commute. I blend in ok by avoiding getting too close to people, but I feel like a total oddball. I dread the day some unassuming 18 year old asks me my age . I’m so embarrassed to be the oldest student in all of my classes. Any advice on how to avoid answering the dreaded “How old are you?” question without sounding like an old person? Honestly, I would be ok if no one ever asked that question again.

    • Alicia

      28 is not old! You are not an oddball because what you have in common is being at college and being in those classes. Go ahead and get close to people and get to know them. Nobody asks age right off and by the time they are friends of yours it will not matter.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree that 28 is not old, but I can also understand the lack of connection you feel to kids that are 10 years younger, unmarried and live on campus. I would not feel self-conscious, though – why should you have to feel bad or apologize for doing something (getting an education, following your career dreams) that is great for yourself and your family? Put another way, what do you care what those twerps think? I agree with Alicia that there ARE definitely other students you could befriend. The difference between 23 and 28 is not so great. You might also seek out the company of graduate students, who will be closer to you in age. Look for interest-based clubs or join an intramural sports team. Strike up conversation with a friendly person in your classes, recruit a study buddy. You are actually not giving those other students an opportunity to get to know you!

  4. Nina

    Dear Jennifer,

    I also went back to school in my late twenties and I had your fears. In my case, at least, it didn’t wind up mattering. Alicia is right that your age won’t come up for quite a while (probably not until your birthday, unless you get carded at a bar) and then it won’t change people’s opinions of you because they will already know your personality. They *will* be surprised, 18-year-olds are easily surprised, but not in a mean way unless they are jerks!

    One thing to avoid is being too much “the voice of experience”–when I gave to much advice about jobs, apartments, whatever, people started looking at me in a “mom” way, not as a friend. So I shut up about that stuff and just enjoyed people’s company as equals.

    In some cases there were differences in maturity, but with truly decent people I just let it go. I’ve been out of school 6 years now, and the small gaps in age matter less and less with the people I’ve stayed friends with. I feel lucky to have them!

    I am sure you will make some awesome friends, too!

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