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I recently started a new job after losing my old one to COVID. It's in a retail store and pays minimum wage. While I find the manager and assistant manager very responsible and trustworthy, a lot of the team is very uptight, immature and tries to micromanage me. Since I'm still relatively new, I get asked the question often "how are you liking the job?". Should I just say I like it even though it's not true?

I am looking for another job but don't want to burn any bridges. It's very hard to give specific examples of what the problem is for me, is there a point in trying to talk to management? For example once I was 3 minutes late getting back from my lunch break and everyone in the store had to make a jab about it.

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    Who is asking you? – Evorlor Aug 24 at 20:14
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    A country tag might help, as the right answer depends on the (work) culture and communication norms. – usr1234567 Aug 25 at 6:55
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    "It pays the bills" can be read either way. – boatcoder Aug 26 at 18:45
  • Find the best two or three parts of the job, remembering, best doesn't need to mean good… When Asked, list one or two of those… – Robbie Goodwin Aug 27 at 22:13
  • @usr1234567 I don't think so because where I live is very multicultural and each store/company is different. – Yuftre111 Aug 29 at 10:17

14 Answers 14

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If it's just an interim job, then always reply positively.

There is no plus side to whining and you already have one foot out the door. All you want is to get through this with a revenue stream as smoothly as possible.

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    The best "revenge" in this case is to move on and be successful in your next endeavour. That being said, everyone having a jab is usually something that's a comradere move. The downside being that it does serve to enforce management desires and "falling in line" – Malisbad Aug 24 at 23:44
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    Not only revenue stream, but future references. Why burn a bridge when you don't need to? – corsiKa Aug 25 at 3:31
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    Why they always recommend to reply "positively" over "honestly"? Even answering nothing is better than "positive" insincere flattery... – Onlyjob Aug 25 at 13:26
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    @Onlyjob a platitude is met with another one... nothing wrong with that it's part of the grease that oils society and stops nasty grating – Kilisi Aug 25 at 13:31
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    @Onlyjob it depends a bit on your goals, I'm typically in favour of honest feedback, if it seems warranted,respected and helpful to improve the place/processes etc. Just venting isn't helpful and typically not what most people who ask actually want to hear. A "yeah it's alright" is basically understood as a "I'm not loving it nor hating it, but I won't give you specifics" answer. So it's not really dishonest, but also doesn't give anything away or open a can OP doesn't want to open. – Frank Hopkins Aug 25 at 21:39
89

I think there is asking, and then there's asking.

As a person in a new job myself at the moment, I find there are two styles of this question.

  1. People who have little to no investment in whether you are happy or not - they are just asking to have something nice to ask. Proper response - "It's fine". I don't think you need to fake actual joy. I don't hear you saying it's a horrible job, it's just not a group you like and it may be a bit unhealthy. IMO, "fine" is an honest answer. As a job it's doing what it needs to do - giving you money and hopefully being as safe as it can (in these strange times).
  2. People who actually care - either because they are just caring people, or because they have a stake in your happiness. This may be nobody. This may be your boss, or a coworker who you actually have a good synergy with - it's your judgement on whether this is a person who really does care, and is empowered enough to do something. If you are talking to this person, it doesn't hurt to hone in on 1 or 2 correctable things that are bugging you - such as "It's fine, but I wish my coworkers would stop doing X. It comes across as micromanaging, as if they have no trust that I'd be doing this job correctly. I really wish we could it Y way instead." - keep it short, and avoid too much blame, but be clear that there is stuff that could be better.

It's a judgement call on whether you are in scenario 1 or 2. You're right that sounding off about how you don't like the job could burn bridges, so you have to pick who is really in the #2 bucket - it's probably only a small number of people.

I find I do this organically - and sometimes I fail. But if I keep my #2 style feedback in a tone that assumes that no one is ill-intentioned, there's just stuff that I'd like to have happen differently - then there's not a huge risk if I chose someone who doesn't care or can't help.

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    For option 2, "hone in on 1 or 2 correctable things that are bugging you ", yes, and I'd like to add, if your goal is to make a positive change keep it constructive feedback and empathize. Assume people are doing their best, phrase it as a professional recommendation or suggestion, try to avoid venting frustration aimlessly. – jrh Aug 24 at 17:30
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    #1 is more likely asked in passing, to make light conversation or in group settings, while #2 is more likely asked in a one-on-one with your manager or in a conversation that's a bit deeper than talking about the weather. – Bernhard Barker Aug 24 at 19:59
  • I'd give more than +1 if I could. – toolforger Aug 27 at 10:20
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Since I'm still relatively new, I get asked the question often "how are you liking the job?". Should I just say I like it even though it's not true?

Honesty is great but like all principles usually comes with a price tag. In this case the price tag for admitting that you are unhappy can put your employment in jeopardy.

If you decide to be honest and use the opportunity to share your laundry-list of workplace issues, you should do so hoping that there is going to be good will towards fixing them. But as you are already looking for better employment, it doesn't seem like it's worth the risk of putting your employment on shaky grounds if the higherups will not take it well, and the upside of fixes, if ever happens, is likely to happen after you are gone.

Ultimately you have to make your own mind whether the risk is worth the possible consequences.

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    "Honesty is great but like all principles usually comes with a price tag" is a quote. – XavierStuvw Aug 25 at 7:20
  • @XavierStuvw From where? google.com/search?hl=en&q="Honesty is great but like all principles usually comes with a price tag" – JakeD Aug 25 at 14:01
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    @JakeD - Tymoteusz Paul, 2020, ™ et. all. patent pending :D – Tymoteusz Paul Aug 25 at 14:01
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    "Dishonesty is great but like all offences usually comes with a price tag" can be another :-) – XavierStuvw Aug 25 at 17:26
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    Generally agree, but to supplement (feel free to take it into account or don't): There are also longterm benefits of leaving feedback when you're going out the door. You might be coming back, especially if your improvements got implemented. And you might consider positive effects beyond yourself to be a positive reward in themselves. Or consider that they might rebound to you positively in the bigger picture, perhaps with low probability, but when you're looking anyway, the risk of loosing your job is typically also of lower cost than if you did not plan to switch for the next few years. – Frank Hopkins Aug 27 at 11:40
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When your manager asks you about how you like your job, then that's a great opportunity to point out issues in your work environment. Saying everything is great when things aren't won't lead to any improvement. Many workplaces suffer from organizational blindness to a certain degree. People found ways to arrange themselves with glaring problems in their workplace and just learned to accept them, even though they would be fixable. New employees can be a great way to remind a team where they can improve.

However, if you do use this as an opportunity to point out problems, make sure you point out problems which are actually fixable by the management and within the responsibility of the management.

For example, when you are new in a workplace, then being micromanaged is to be expected. Especially in a minimum wage retail job where you are expected to do what you are told, not make decisions. You know nothing about the job and your colleagues know everything. Telling you exactly what to do and what not to do is their job. If you want them to stop, show them that you understood their instructions and can execute them yourself.

I can also understand that your colleagues don't want you to come back late from your lunch break. Retail is a job where people always have to maintain a minimum amount of people in the store. That makes it important to coordinate lunch breaks properly. When you take 3 minutes too long, then that means that someone else has 3 minutes less lunch break. I can perfectly understand that they don't want that to become a habit.

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  • I feel as when OP, as a new employee, comes back late from a lunch break it indicates they aren't invested in the job and they are clearly communicating it to others. My wife just started a new job with a 90 day review period, and she was fastidious about following every work rule, always being there on time and never leaving early. She did that because she loved the job and really wanted to keep it. Doing the opposite indicates, well, the opposite. – SafeFastExpressive Aug 26 at 18:17
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Out loud: "I'm liking the job." Inside: "I'm liking the fact that I get paid every week and I don't care enough about any of it to give a rat's ass." You're not being dishonest in the slightest.

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    "I'm liking having the job a lot!" – goblin GONE Aug 26 at 0:17
  • I'm liking having the money from the job! – user11909 Aug 26 at 13:50
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Maybe you should read Dale Carnegie.

Rule 1: If you have to go to work, you might as well enjoy it.

Rule 2: If you tell yourself and others that you enjoy it, you will actually after some time start enjoying it.

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    I am interested in knowing why this is down-voted. It answers the question with reference to a popular source no less. – Damila Aug 24 at 14:44
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    I'm not one of the downvoters but I guess it's because depending on the opinion the rules can be seen as naive, not everyone agrees with the rule 2. Personally, I don't fully agree nor disagree, I think it can work for some jobs and not for other, that's why I neither upvoted nor downvoted. I think people downvoted for this reason or because the answer is opinion based – LP154 Aug 24 at 15:18
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    My guess is that it sounds like Stockholm syndrome. – aherocalledFrog Aug 24 at 18:24
  • @aherocalledFrog: Stockholm syndrome can come in handy if you know it is happening and thus have an escape mechanism at the ready. – Kevin Kostlan Aug 26 at 7:47
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    1. finding a job you genuinely enjoy is a luxury for many workers. 2. Forcing yourself to enjoy something that you intrinsically do not enjoy is a challenge for many/most people. Anyone non-neurotypical, but especially Autism spectrum, ADHD, mood disorders, dysphoria, etc, that already invest many spoons into "Passing", will especially struggle. – DeusXMachina Aug 26 at 15:53
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Make a true, positive statement, something like, "I'm grateful to have this job, they're not easy to find" or find something positive to say about the job, even if overall you don't like it.

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  • Yes, This does not have to be a Yes/No answer. You said you respect the manager and assistant manager. You could say, "I really like the managers here" or, if talking directly to one of the managers, "I really like the way things are managed here by the top managers although I feel I am somewhat micromanaged at a lower level" – chasly - supports Monica Aug 25 at 10:09
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I used to work retail, so I understand how grating it can be to get this kind of question repeatedly when the truth is something you shouldn't say. If you don't want to lie, then you can say something like this:

It can be tough, but I'm getting the hang of it

I'm happy to have any job right now

I can't complain

If there's something specific you do like, you can also answer with that:

People have been welcoming

Management seems pretty reasonable

Especially if you're being asked by co-workers instead of management, they likely don't expect you to love your job and they probably hate their own job a lot of the time. In addition to the typical unpleasantness of retail, customers are being extra obnoxious right now, you have to worry about getting sick, there's more work because of all the extra cleaning needed, etc. It's a rare person who loves their retail job even on a good day, so you aren't alone.

I wouldn't complain at all to management, as the one thing they seem to object to the most is someone seeming grumpy. Whatever your response is to them, give it with a positive and upbeat attitude. They don't really expect you to love your job either, but they do expect you to act happy while you're at work.

In general I wouldn't suggest giving criticism while you're still really new. You can ask why things are done a certain way if it seems strange to you, and maybe ask why they don't do it some other way, but you should do so with an expectation of increasing your understanding, not of changing their mind. Make sure you have a good understanding of how everything works and have shown yourself to be useful before you start suggesting changes.

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From a manager point of view: telling your manager you dislike your job can be separated in two categories:

  • You are trusted to be worth trying to change things and the management will try to make you happier (if they can) but it will be on the long term
  • They don't believe you are worth trying (because you're still a new hire or because you're not good at your job for instance) so, best case scenario, nothing change, worst case scenario you're replaced, with a lot of other possible bad outcomes: transferred in an even worse position, gossiping that makes everyone know it and make your work life harsh...

If you don't see long-term opportunity with this company (as you said, you don't want to stay here) there is nothing to win to say you're not happy in your job, but there is a lot to loose.

My advice is to say you like your job. It's lying, but sometimes (often?) lying is necessary in the workplace.

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Honestly the best approach here is just to say "it's great thanks for asking".

There is 0 benefit in saying how you really feel about this job. Having worked in retail they don't care if you like the job or not most managers will know that you don't like working there as very very few people actually enjoy working in retail.

You might be thinking that they will take some action if you say you're not enjoying the job and the answer is yes they might and that action is to fire you. Why ? Because there is a line of people behind you willing to take your job in retail as it requires no qualifications and staff turnover is generally very high in retail so they are used to it. If you voice that you don't like your job then it's likely you're looking to leave so they might as well just start the recruitment process now rather so that they are in control rather than you.

My advice is to start your job search now and when you are looking don't look at jobs in the following industries:

  • Retail
  • Hospitality
  • Manufacture
  • Construction

You'll find the reason you hate your retail job will be similar in these industries

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If you would like to convey the message that you are not very satisfied with your job, a short, standard positive answer may be suitable, as opposed to an enthusiastic positive one with specific points to support it.

Of course, many people that are really satisfied with their job may give a short, standard answer, but few people would fake an enthusiastic answer. Coupled with the totality of other indicators, if the person asking the question is emotionally intelligent enough, they should understand it at some level.

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🤷‍♂️

"Well, do you or don't you?"

Face it ... "not every job 'works.'" Because, at the end of the day, it is a human, social interaction. None of us are automatons.

"If it's working, make it work." And, if it's not ... "okay..." 🤷‍♂️

Because it's called: "Business!"

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One other thing to consider: "under American law, your manager is rather-strictly constrained with regard to what (s)he can say you you, while the opposite is not true."

Not only is it true that "your manager cannot read your mind," but your manager might be unable(!) to discuss with you something that (s)he can plainly see ... unless you are the one to begin the conversation!

"Don't waste time – clear the air!"

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Ok - cheese first - and now just say I LOVE, I LOVE, I REALLY LOVE THE JOB!!!!!.

While the employer does care if you are happy or not at work, the usual solution is simply to dismiss a person that does not look happy enough. Trying to address some problems, even if you think they can be somehow differently solved, may cost you a job. This must be somehow differently wrapped, like "a proposal how to improve efficiency" maybe, but nothing anywhere near about your happiness.

Of course you may not like the job. Nothing prevents you from looking for another one and there is no need for the employer to know about your efforts, progress and success in this direction. Still, the question is a trap. Do not get lured into it.

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