Random workplace scenario #583

Chief actuary (male) walks over to junior actuary (female). Starts talking about how he feels so old that he takes medication each night. Junior actuary has only rarely interacted with this person, and has no response pop into her head, other than a smile, and oh, you’re not so old. But that feels like flirting and she’s really not into that right now. Thoughts?

Later on, junior actuary’s end of year feedback from this person ( who by some weird happenstance is the one giving her it, even though he is several levels up) is to be less serious.

I wouldn’t consider either of those statements as “flirting”. Obviously we have imperfect info here but from what was written just seems like a normal thing with the other person trying to make small talk.

This can be legitimate feedback, especially if you are all business all the time and never open up and just chat with coworkers / leaders. Networking isn’t something that goes away, and to network you need to talk about other things. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, but be fully aware that limits your upward growth potential.

Again, imperfect info provided, so there may be other warning signs or something but this in and of itself seems like feedback I would give some actuaries.

be less serious might be okay. i’m not sure. it sort of rubs me as “smile more” though, which is NOT okay and worthy of a dick punch. i’m torn. the chick probably needs to lighten up and might be nervous around higher level folk. i’m not sure “be less serious” should be in a performance review though. make her comfortable to be less serious.


Does the weird happenstance include him arranging things so that he gave the review when there was somebody more appropriate to give it? Not sure exactly why, but that is the part that strikes me as the weirdest. I have had/given hundreds of reviews across multiple companies, and never had it be anybody other than immediate supervisor (though possible immediate supervisor is two “levels” up if somebody recently left).

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Not flirting.

Junior actuary: What is your age?
Chief Actuary: 55 (say).
Junior actuary: (turns opens a file, checks the table…) says here you have 38 years (say) until death, on average. So, lots of life ahead.

Now, THAT’s flirting, to an actuary.


Disclaimer: not a life actuary, numbers just made up, for the sake of comedy.


Was it a formal review? They just said end of year feedback. Were they the only one that got feedback from that individual or did their coworkers as well? Did they also get feedback from their direct supervisor? If not, did you ask your main boss why the other guy gave the feedback?

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One layer between had just left. Not sure why the next layer didn’t do it, though maybe there was some reason.

Totally agree small talk is good , though it seems weird to skip “how was your weekend” and " what do you like to do in your non-existent free time" and go straight to medical stuff and aging, which I’m sorry, just seems odd and obligates me to say something about him not being so old. Which for some reason I would happily say to a woman, but not a man. Oh well. I’m fine saying other stuff like that to a man, like if they say they feel their work is falling off, you say oh your work is great, etc.

I had a similar 2 conversations recently where men said they got fat and I had to say oh you look great, but that’s something you really can’t leave hanging…

Sure you can. Smile and nod. No requirement to tell anyone they look great.


That’s because I’ve asked “how was your weekend” one million times and isn’t really getting to know someone.

You could respond like “I’m still young enough that I don’t have to deal with that yet. Not looking forward to getting older”. Or if you are worried about him flirting by saying he’s old and takes pills, say something like “yeah my parents complained about that. I’m glad I’m so young and not in that stage of life yet “ or something like that.

The smile by itself was how I responded to the initial incident I was asking about… But I felt after maybe they got insulted?

Say nothing like AO fan said or just complain about having to actually care about what you eat more than when you were younger or something. No need to compliment them

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Fat seems to me to be something people care about slightly more than being older, but maybe I’m wrong there

This is a common thing to say. Don’t say “you are fat, yes”. But don’t say “no you are not”. Just something like “yeah the covid-19 is hard to avoid”.

Do you have non-work conversations with anyone at work?


Yeah just not typically stuff like that with people 3 layers up right off the bat. Stuff like that and more with coworkers and one layer up, or if I’ve got to know someone more then maybe even several layers up.

Maybe how’s your weekend is overused but when you get to know someone I feel it helps to go in a bit more gradually.

I think this person might be a bit awkward around people, actually, and has gotten away with it because they were probably the kind of person women flirted with when they were younger (see, are all hot guys jerks, etc, except, not a jerk in this scenario, just awkward.)

That’s fair. I sometimes forget what it’s like to be nervous around higher up people, but I definitely was early in my career.

Edit: should probably say more ‘cautious’ than nervous. Don’t want to say the wrong thing

Could never leave it like that for some reason

I’m curious about this too.

When my immediate boss left shortly before performance reviews, (former/future) grand-boss (temporary acting boss) gave the review but only because that was the lowest level person available to do it. It would have been weird if great-grand-boss had done the review.

But weirdest would have been if great-grand-boss did my review and no one else’s at my level.