I accepted what I thought was a "contract" position about a year ago but quickly learned that the expectation was to be a Full Time Employee without benefits. Here's what I mean:

The manager talks A LOT. I feel like she overshares about herself and even tries to speak for her Team Members and it is beyond challenging for me because she expects (forces) us to be the same way.

As an introvert (in a creative role), I often need time to "sit" with information to process it. I like to think before speaking and am perfectly fine with using the least amount of words needed to communicate (especially when talking).

Needless to say, I am CONSTANTLY reprimanded by this manager (in private messages during our weekly update calls) stating "Your answer is too short" "You appear disinterested" "You need to give a shout out", etc. Be aware that I'm not completely mute during these meetings, but my communication is very succinct. I often show reactions and place GIFs in the chat, but it's not good enough.

She's even gone as far as to tell the group how she THINKS my weekend went when I respond that I didn't do much over the weekend (why is it anyone's business?), and the information she shares is often WRONG.

I'm not going to renew this contract once it ends, but it's to a point that the meetings actually cause me PHYSICAL anxiety and are just miserable. Any tips on how to endure these last ten weeks?

Thanks for the responses and the varying perspectives everyone. I've had conversations with the manager about this, and it has gone nowhere.

I have prepared in the past (actually wrote out an answer and read it) and the manager private messaged me that I sounded "rehearsed", so I don't think I'll win here.

It's sad that "cultural fit" is still a "thing" with contractors. I contract in an effort to avoid politics and "forced fun". I do think it's only a matter of time before this type of behavior gets legal attention, but in the meantime, I'll grit and bear it (and take meds to combat the physical manifestations of the anxiety this is causing... my hair will grow back).

  • 28
    Why not break it off early? Just tell them that you hate it here and you want to be gone, as a contractor the protections are much smaller than as employee, and likely your notice is very short to non existant.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Apr 9 at 13:46
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    @mattfreake One is legal, the other is not.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:06
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    @mattfreake In general (depending where you are), a contractor would expect: more money (often much more, though it's not directly comparable), more freedom (e.g. over your working practices) — less benefits (as you're expect to fund them yourself), less training/professional development (ditto), less legal protection, less job security, and more hassle (e.g. admin, invoicing, accounting, finding the next contract, etc.).  I think OP's saying that their manager doesn't believe in the ‘more freedom’ parts of that…
    – gidds
    Commented Apr 9 at 15:34
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    I don't see how any of this relates to your employment status and whether you're a contractor or a full time employee.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Apr 9 at 15:42
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    @gidds I've not seen contractors given any more freedom in the places I've worked. They've taken a contract and are expected to do what is asked of them and in return get more money but as you say no benefits. And obviously if they're unhappy doing that, they can walk away more easily. Commented Apr 9 at 15:46

4 Answers 4


Honesty is the best policy.

The next time you're asked to share details of your personal life, respond with "I feel very uncomfortable to be asked to share details of my personal life. I prefer to keep our discussions at a professional level," and leave it at that.

If you're asked for more details, or told that you need to be more forthcoming, respond, "I've already said that doing that makes me uncomfortable. Are you trying to make me uncomfortable?"

That way, if your boss persists in these lines of conversation, she's clearly in the wrong, and you have grounds to escalate the matter.

From the sounds of the question, this manager is an open and outgoing person who is trying to be friendly and to create a rapport between herself and her subordinates, but doesn't realise that other people, like the OP, aren't comfortable with being as open and outgoing as her. She needs to be told in plain language that the OP is not comfortable with that approach. Creating an uncomfortable work environment is a cause for OP to complain about the manager, but the OP cannot make such a complaint until it is clear that the manager understands where the OP's boundaries are.

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    Sounds like an overkill for a question about how your weekend went
    – AnnaAG
    Commented Apr 10 at 10:05
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    I can appreciate the OP probably feels very uncomfortable sharing those details, but the risk in doing this, particularly if asked in a meeting with others, is that it just escalates the situation. Preparing a boring answer in advance feels a lower-risk option. Commented Apr 10 at 11:20
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    @AnnaAG For a simple "How was your weekend?" I'd agree. But for a person who has "even gone as far as to tell the group how she THINKS my weekend went" and "the information she shares is often WRONG" and says "Your answer is too short" "You appear disinterested" "You need to give a shout out", this answer is not overkill.
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Apr 10 at 14:18
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    @mattfreake A boring answer seems to be attracting the wrong response from this person. The OP needs to shut this down in a way that makes it clear to everyone that this person is overstepping the bounds of the business relationship, and if she continues to do so, everyone knows that she is ignoring the OP's clearly stated feelings about personal conversations.
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Apr 10 at 14:22
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    @MontyWild my understanding from the question is that "Your answer is too short" "You appear disinterested" "You need to give a shout out" were not about the OPs weekend, but about the OPs technical communication. Commented Apr 10 at 16:05

Without a jurisdiction, it's difficult to give advice if you are experiencing physical sickness due to anxiety, different places handle this very differently.

If you have 10 weeks left of a 52-week contract, you are 80% done with the contract. At this point, the easiest thing to do is finish the contract, provided that your health allows it.

For a longer-term suggestion (work related), you want to take your time and think about things, your manager expects you to have instant responses and doesn't accept "let me think about it" as a response. One option is to try to do your thinking in advance. If you understand the people, and the system well enough, combined with the purpose of a meeting, you can try to plan out responses to expected topics. While there will still be unexpected requests that may have to be researched and thought about, your response will not always be "let me think about it".

For the non-work-related talk. If your boss wants to spend work time going around a circle hearing about everyone's weekend, that's their choice. In this case though, you know exactly what is coming. Answering "I didn't do much", every week probably isn't going to integrate well. Find a way to interact, without sharing what you don't want to. It's probably better to be a "boring" person than a "non-interactive" person.

As a contract employee, it's most likely easier to emulate the integration that people expect, rather than expecting them to accommodate your personality.

  • 9
    To your last point about not saying "I didn't do much" - in one of my first jobs, the CEO (eccentric, borderline insane) used to ring me up every single morning and ask "so what do you know?" or ask what I'd done over the weekend. Every real answer I gave, it'd come back with "... and what else". In the end I used to just used my car journey in the morning to concoct something utterly stupid. "Oh, I just took my cat to the dry cleaners" was one. Oddly, he found this satisfying and would stop asking... until the next day. It was an easy-out from the nutcase's questions. Fun times...
    – roganjosh
    Commented Apr 10 at 13:10
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    @roganjosh Oh what dry cleaner do you use for your cat? Mine has a three week turnaround time and I start to miss my beloved mittens. Commented Apr 10 at 14:09
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    @le3th4x0rbot Oh, I pay extra for express service for that very reason! I'm remembering more about that nightmare now - on one occasion I made the very big mistake of saying "the office is pretty quiet" to answer "so what do you know?". Never. Again. Half an hour later he burst in the office, jumped on the desk trumpeting as loudly as possible and then made the entire office do star jumps. At least I learned some coping mechanisms early on... Sales, kids. Not even once.
    – roganjosh
    Commented Apr 10 at 14:22
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    This answer sounds so insanely dystopian and it has so many upvotes. Some parts of the world are just crazy
    – Hakaishin
    Commented Apr 10 at 14:36
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    I dont see anything dystopian about this..., just people with attitudes and personalities that dont mesh well with one another, and trying to find the best way around it without too much compromise or trouble. Not everything in life can always be perfect
    – Weston
    Commented Apr 11 at 16:48

For work-related discussion, there can certainly be an expectation within your job duties for you to engage to a certain degree. Some people may not be capable of reasonably engaging to the expected degree, in which case they may simply not be a good fit for certain roles. Although there is also some possibility to discuss the issue and redefine expectations to accommodate any personality type or neurodivergence that someone might have.

But it sounds like this isn't really about work-related discussion. What I said below may apply to a reasonable degree to work-related discussion as well, although if this is the issue, I'd probably try to discuss the issue with a focus on the job and what yourself and others can do to make sure the job is performed roughly in the way your manager wants.

For discussions of topics outside of work, I wouldn't say the expectation falls within job duties, but it's rather a cultural expectation. This may seem like a negligible distinction for some, as companies typically also expect employees to be good cultural fit and they can and do commonly quite easily get rid of employees that aren't good cultural fits. But depending on where you're at, this may be more difficult for a company (a company may also get into discrimination territory if there's a possibility of neurodivergence). Cultural expectations are a lot more vague, open to interpretation and not as enforceable. Culture could be either more and less able to accommodate different personality types or forms of neurodivergence, because it ultimately comes down to how accommodating your boss and coworkers are, separate from what's needed for the job to get done (and it doesn't sound like your boss in particular is all that accommodating).

As a very introverted person with autism, I'll say you have no ethical obligation to engage with non-work discussion on any level beyond basic politeness (e.g. if someone asks a question, give at least some answer, however brief, which it sounds like you're already doing, and possibly add a "and how about you?" if relevant). It's a failure on their part to not be considerate towards people who are more introverted. Of course, this does assume you didn't misrepresent yourself during the interview (they could choose to not hire introverted people, but if they hire them, it's their failure to then expect such a person to stop being introverted).

That said, they seem to already be placing this expectation on you. If you don't meet that, it could increase conflict and could potentially lead to them firing you (depending on local laws and how important this is to them).

So I can't tell you what to do, but your options would roughly be one of the following:

  • Keep doing what you're doing and just brush off what your manager said about it (this'll probably have the worst outcome as far as your job is concerned).

  • Keep doing what you're doing and offer some explanation or push-back to your manager, e.g. point out that you're introverted and/or say that it makes you uncomfortable to discuss your personal life or that not conducive to your mental health to engage in small talk to that degree.

  • Take some steps towards meeting their expectations. It could just small steps or large steps. You could, for example, just add a sentence or two beyond what you'd typically respond, or using more emotive/positive words (like "good", "fun" or "great", instead of "fine"). If asked "how was your weekend", rather than just saying "it was fine", you could say "it was great, I played some games" or whatever.

  • Some combined approach, where you offer some explanation but also try to do more.

  • If this is really too much to deal with for you, other options would include quitting or taking some vacation or sick leave (how viable any of these are depends on your contract and local laws). Although I'd probably first suggest therapy (which can also help with any of the other options), as therapists can help you deal with anxiety and help you deal with and resolve interpersonal conflicts.

I'd personally have much more of a problem with someone who makes a habit of trying to answer questions for me, especially if they do so incorrectly.

I'd say you'd be perfectly justified in calling that out, whether in public or in private. But calling out the behaviour of one's manager often tends to not work out that well. So what you do with this information is up to you.

It seems relevant to point out that it helps to use "I" statements instead of "you" statements when bringing up issues, e.g. someone is more likely to be receptive to "It makes me uncomfortable to discuss my personal life" or "I am uncomfortable with discussing my personal life", whereas it comes across more confrontational and blaming to say "You make me uncomfortable by asking me about my personal life" ("it makes me uncomfortable for you to ask me..." is probably also not great).


No job is worth your mental health.

You seem to be forced to live with an over-bearing boss. You are being exploited in this contract position. What you just have to do is ride this contract out and move on.

These types of employers think they are the ones who decide if the contract gets renewed, but as long as you don't sign anything you are free to simply walk away when the contract is up. There is no notice period with contract work.

If they want to play with fire by nickle-and-diming the wage bill by having mission critical work be done by people who can in a certain amount of time walk away with not so much as 10 minutes worth of notice then that is there problem.

Ride the contract out and then when your contract is out ghost them. That is what I would do.

For now you are going to have to learn to develop a bit of a thick skin. Don't be afraid to tell people you don't want to talk about things. Don't be afraid to simply walk away from situations that spike your anxiety levels.

You may be accused of not being a team player, but what are you employed to do be a chatty barman or to work? Seeing as you have one foot out the door already them not renewing your contract seems like no sweat of your back.

There are posters on this site who are more well versed in tax-law than what I'm, but it is safe to say that the IRS will very much take offense to the idea of employing full time workers on contract basis. Your company is probably flogging several labour and tax laws in doing so

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