Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

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Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:18 pm

I'm a junior associate being nagged by a partner for of being "too quiet" & I'm not sure how that perception is going to impact me moving forward.

In general, lawyers at my firm tend to come in, do their job & go home - there isn't a whole lot of socializing. However, this one partner (who I do NOT work with) randomly stops by my office to jab me for being too quiet and she has a tendency to make the same comments at firm events in front of other lawyers. Most recently, in front of a large group, she told me that she and some of the other lawyers have been talking about me and how I need to "get out more". I'm starting to worry that this is a bigger issue that might impact my reviews or my role at this firm.

I am introverted, but I'm not anti-social. My door is always open at work. I attend every major firm event outside of work. I attend during-the-work-day events when I'm not busy with client calls or asap work. I'm social with the people in my department & friendly to everyone. (I also have VERY positive reviews work-wise). I admit that I'm not the type of person who just drops by people's offices to chat, but I never thought that was a requirement (or even encouraged, considering our lives are run on billable hours). I really don't feel like I navigate the firm's social "culture" any differently than any other associate, but for some reason I'm the one getting harassed for it.

When she bring up my "quietness" I try to laugh it off, but I'm not sure how her perception is going to impact my job. Any recommendations for how to handle this situation moving forward? I'm already searching for jobs elsewhere (for completely separate reasons), but I still need to survive here until I find a new role.

QContinuum

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby QContinuum » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:44 pm

I'm sorry, OP. That partner sounds like a real jerk for doing this to you - all the more so because your firm's culture is more on the reserved side. Even if your firm was a "fratty" one, and you were the odd introvert in the bunch... who cares so long as you're hitting your billables and doing good work?? I've never encountered any senior - associate, counsel, or partner - who's cared about how social a junior is (barring someone being antisocial to the point of being unlikeable, which doesn't sound like is an issue for you). The craziest thing, of course, is that this partner doesn't even work with you! Did you, like, spill wine on her at some point in the past or something?? Close the elevator doors in her face when she was trying to get on?

Have you ever spoken with this partner in private about her concerns? Ask her if there's something in particular she feels you should be doing. Tell her that you do socialize actively - both informally and at firm events - and feel you have a good support network among your peers and other seniors. Say that you've never gotten even a hint of concern from anyone else, but you're always open to improvement. See what she says. (Note, I'm not saying her behavior is justifiable at all, but she is a partner, so it seems like it'd be worth going the extra mile to try to please her, if possible (which it may very well not be, she may just have taken a disliking to you for whatever reason).)

At the worst, if the partner simply ridicules you again, then I'd consider speaking with a trusted senior at the firm about this issue. I think it's gotten far enough that simply trying to laugh it off isn't sustainable in the long run.

Best wishes.

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Wild Card

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Wild Card » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:30 pm

Are you of Asian descent? "Quiet" is a common racist remark used to denigrate people of Asian descent.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby dabigchina » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:59 pm

I have nothing to contribute except to say: what the actual fuck. This is like some bullshit out of a bad sitcom. Private ribbing about being quiet: fine. But calling you out at firm functions is a whole other level of assholery.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby shock259 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 7:59 pm

It's bullshit and it sucks, but sometimes people think they're being funny or just teasing by saying crap like this. That said, I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to confront the partner about it. I would just keep going to social events, keep saying hi to this person so they know you're there and socializing, and make sure you keep doing good work for the people you're working for. At the end of the day, I have a hard time seeing how this would matter for you. I am guessing the partner that is doing this already has a reputation for being a bit of an asshole.

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CardozoLaw09

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:06 pm

I think she likes you

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby papermateflair » Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:31 am

OP, are you ever on like, client calls with this partner? Could she be trying to tell you that she wants you to contribute more? (Obviously she's doing a bad job of address it, if that's the issue) One way to think about addressing it is *if* you've been on calls with her and you haven't contributed much, asking her if she would like you to get more involved on calls, and how to do so (pre-planning that you'll talk about xxxxx subject, etc.). As a junior associate I sat in on many, many "silent conference calls" where I said nothing, so I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with not talking on calls (especially if the partner doesn't want you to!) but that may be a way to get her to talk about it without making it about your personality.

But like, 95% likely this partner is just a jerk - if no one else seems to have a problem, this is probably just weird, jerk-ish teasing run amok. One of the partners I used to work for did this kind of thing, and it's ridiculous. I had multiple people tell me that the partner was kidding, so not to take him seriously, but if they hadn't, then it would have been hard to know if he was trying to tell me to change and do things differently, didn't like me, etc., or was actually just teasing in an awkward way. If you have a mentor or another partner you work closely with, you could ask them if they think you're being "too quiet" or if she's kidding or serious.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:21 pm

CardozoLaw09 wrote:I think she likes you


This. Sounds like she's playfully ribbing you. Relax. Especially if - as you say - you're attending events whenever possible and putting yourself out there. I know plenty of people who don't even go that far.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby objctnyrhnr » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
CardozoLaw09 wrote:I think she likes you


This. Sounds like she's playfully ribbing you. Relax.


I’m going to second this. With the caveat that of course I wasn’t in the room when this happened, and I totally understand that you would have preferred that it didn’t happen, you don’t want to develop a rep as an associate that makes mountains out of these types of molehills. I would just let it be.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Guchster » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a junior associate being nagged by a partner for of being "too quiet" & I'm not sure how that perception is going to impact me moving forward.

In general, lawyers at my firm tend to come in, do their job & go home - there isn't a whole lot of socializing. However, this one partner (who I do NOT work with) randomly stops by my office to jab me for being too quiet and she has a tendency to make the same comments at firm events in front of other lawyers. Most recently, in front of a large group, she told me that she and some of the other lawyers have been talking about me and how I need to "get out more". I'm starting to worry that this is a bigger issue that might impact my reviews or my role at this firm.

I am introverted, but I'm not anti-social. My door is always open at work. I attend every major firm event outside of work. I attend during-the-work-day events when I'm not busy with client calls or asap work. I'm social with the people in my department & friendly to everyone. (I also have VERY positive reviews work-wise). I admit that I'm not the type of person who just drops by people's offices to chat, but I never thought that was a requirement (or even encouraged, considering our lives are run on billable hours). I really don't feel like I navigate the firm's social "culture" any differently than any other associate, but for some reason I'm the one getting harassed for it.

When she bring up my "quietness" I try to laugh it off, but I'm not sure how her perception is going to impact my job. Any recommendations for how to handle this situation moving forward? I'm already searching for jobs elsewhere (for completely separate reasons), but I still need to survive here until I find a new role.


Did you get a sense she was joking or making what I call awkward "lawyer small talk" (i.e., lawyer trying to be "social" or "friendly" the best way they can but in actuality, it's rude and awkward for normal people)? If your formal growth area was to connect more with people internally at the firm or with this partner's client, I'd be surprised she'd bring it up in front of other groups of lawyers (not impossible though--I've seen worse behavior from partners who never learned common sense/manners).

If you couldn't tell, you can always try to casually slip into a private conversation with her to flesh out if she's just giving you a hard time or it's something she's overheard as part of your reviews or buzz among the partnership. I highly suspect its the former given your self-described reputation/behavior.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:03 pm

Sounds like some ribbing to me, albeit awkward and just weird. Unless there’s something about the way she says it like she’s being malicious (which is possible, we haven’t heard her say it) I wouldn’t worry about it.

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BeeTeeZ

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby BeeTeeZ » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:12 am

Sounds like playful ribbing to me as well, and likely a sign that the partner likes you. If the partner didn't like you, she would probably want you to be more, rather than less, quiet.

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rcharter1978

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby rcharter1978 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:45 pm

Just ask that person questions. Open ended questions. If there is one thing people like that love, it's talking about themselves. Open ended questions are their kryptonite.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Tenzen » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:27 pm

I got similar comments my first year.

It didn't matter if I met billable hours, showed up early, left late. If your firm is like mine, people need to know you're "happy" and they erroneously measure happiness using subjective assessments about interpersonal relationships, how extroverted you are, etc. Work product and demonstrable commitment to the firm be damned. To be clear, I'm social and nice, but I don't like to talk about meaningless shit, especially not when I get 10 - 30 emails per hour that demand my attention, on top of everything else I need to do. So it can seem like I'm not in it.

All that said, I'm still in my junior years, but get less comments about it. I think people are realizing it's more my personality and not about if I'm happy (or at least they've generally shut up about it). Hopefully the same happens for you, and it doesn't play into your evaluations.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Nightcrawler » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:34 pm

Even if she sounded rude, she clearly expressed an interest in you. My guess is that she likes you and wants to get to know you better without showing that she wants to. Alpha (fe)male shit I guess.

I second the idea of asking open ended question to this person.

Please, for your own sake, avoid going to a superior and bitch about it. That would make things way worse for you imo.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby wishywashy » Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:06 pm

If your work product is good it is possible this partner is trying to gauge your happiness level at your current group/practice. They may be trying to steal you. You won't really know until you dig deeper (open ended questions, stop by to chat them up about some matter they are working on that is of interest to you). Outside chance that they are just hitting on you - I would lean towards a rational business related explanation (worried you are unhappy and going to leave/want to steal you because good reputation and they need good people/just want to steal you to piss your current partner off).

Just my 2 pennies (still a 2L but a decade in the "real world" and this sounds familiar in environments, like sales, where quality people get siloed into teams and another manager/partner wants to steal you to get your work in their downstream so they can eat off you).

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:45 pm

I’ve also been called out as being too quiet... I honestly don’t get it... it’s not like I go around saying people are too loud. I would say try to make an effort once a day to strike a conversation with someone. That is what usually helps me.

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Re: Called Out for Being "Too Quiet" at Work

Postby Whatislaw » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:24 am

I've seen that comment before and it isn't about you being socially shy or anything of that nature. It's often a jerk's way of finding a problem with you because you don't stroke their ego or kiss their butt. I had a law clerk who got that comment at my office and he was always outgoing and helpful, but the Partner still made that dig at him. Like others said. Do your job and don't get stressed about it.



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