How can I get people to stop calling me sweetheart?
January 8, 2010 5:01 PM   Subscribe

How should I handle people who call me "sweetheart" at the office?

All day long. All day long people in my office call me things like "sweetheart", "honey", "darling", "hon", "love", "dear", "dearest", etc. etc. etc.

It drives me CRAZY. I truly feel like calling me "honey" is a way of marginalizing me based on my gender and job title (administrative assistant), and it makes my blood boil. They don't call the boss "sweetheart". They call ME "sweetheart". Even though half the time I'm the one who ends up figuring out why the DNS isn't working, or what's wrong with the javascript, html, css, xml feed, hardware, software, whatever.

How do I handle this without being a jerk? Has anyone else figured out a way to either: a) get people to knock it off, or b) get over it?
posted by eleyna to Human Relations (49 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would smile sweetly and respond in kind, in a slightly sarcastic way that might discourage them from doing it again, e.g.:

'Could you fix this thing? Thanks sweetheart.'
'No problem, sugarbooger'.
posted by Emilyisnow at 3:31 AM on January 9, 2010

well (b) really shouldn't be an option because you shouldn't have to put up with this. but (a) is difficult and you have to judge what might work best in a given situation. If these people are of a younger generation they really have no excuse and you should be able to tell them directly. If they're kind of older then it's probably an ingrained habit and it might be a bit awkward. If you don't want to say "I ain't your honey" straight up, you could try making a point of calling them the same thing in a sarcastic exaggerated way each time they do it. Actually maybe that's a dumb idea, I don't really know... At any rate, don't let it slide. In fact, don't even worry about "being a jerk". It's not "being a jerk" to explain that you find sexist pet-names annoying.
posted by moorooka at 3:31 AM on January 9, 2010

I would say, "Hmm..., you know, I'm not really comfortable being referred to as "sweetheart". Can you just call me Eleyna instead?" whilst looking very non-angry. I think most people who do it aren't being demeaning on purpose, just clueless. Help them nicely get a clue. Don't let the next person who does it break the camel's back and unleash a torrent of hate. That would be unproductive and, well, bad.

After politely reminding everyone for a short while, they should get with the programme.
posted by qwip at 3:51 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could make a chart of how many people call you sweetheart each day, and update it as a longitudinal study. That might make it seem like a sociological experiment instead of other people being douches.

I like to just stare blankly at people when they use inappropriate endearments to me, but I'm kind of an ass. Which somehow doesn't stop people from calling me "sweetheart" and "dearie" and "hun".
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:05 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell them you don't appreciate it.
posted by fire&wings at 5:06 PM on January 8, 2010

Can you fake like you believe they're being silly?

Them: "Honey, can you..."
You: "Hee, hee! I'll let you know, sugar britches!"
posted by kmennie at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

"My name is Eleyna." Look them in the eye and say it calmly after each and every offense.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:14 PM on January 8, 2010

I'm with kmennie. Call them "honey" back. They'll get the message.
posted by kitcat at 5:15 PM on January 8, 2010

Pinpoint the most talkative person who does this to you and ask them, calmly and kindly, to stop. You can explain to them that it's a matter of respect - you can use the line about not calling your boss sweetheart, and that you understand that it's likely unintentional, but that it feels like you're being marginalized based on your gender and job title, like you so clearly put it. If they continue after that, they're a jerk, and hopefully their chattiness will spread your preference around faster than you personally could.

It could also be a cultural thing. Are you not native to the area? I've lived in places where bosses *are* called "sweetheart".
posted by Mizu at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2010

Also, to get an idea of how much variety there is out there about this topic, previously on MeTa.
posted by Mizu at 5:17 PM on January 8, 2010

On the one hand, you could try to think of it as a measure of jealousy/insecurity on their part: they don't understand DNS, javascript, etc. so they feel the need to minimize you, the administrative assistant who, rather than being some secretary who only knows how to type, is a vital and intelligent member of the team.

On the other hand, it's not especially respectful of you to call you "Sweetheart" instead of Eleyna. Could you say something like "You know, my grandma used to call me 'Sweetheart'--could you just stick with Eleyna?" With most people, it shouldn't take but one or two little reminders like that. With especially clueless people it may take longer. Depending on how long you've been answering to "sweetheart," etc., you may need to tailor this to your situation (i.e., "I wish I'd mentioned this when I started, but I really prefer Eleyna, no nicknames" vs. "You know, my grandma called me 'Sweetheart'..."), but it's appropriate to speak up regardless of how long you've been working there.
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:18 PM on January 8, 2010

Don't call them "honey" back if you are an administrative assistant. Then it will become about the heirarchy, and not about basic respect.

Really, you should approach the most senior person you have a relationship with, and ask for their help. They can then send out some kind of general, non-personal email to the effect of "Please don't refer to your co-workers as 'honey,'" and then if someone keeps doing it, then they are not just bothering you, they're breaking a rule, etc.
posted by bingo at 5:20 PM on January 8, 2010

Go to this website and print some free business cards that are simply a link to this website: I'm not your honey, darling, sweetheart, dear, ducky, or any other diminutive creature

Every time someone calls yo honey, darling, sweetheart, dear, ducky, or any other diminutive creature hand them one of your business cards.
posted by netbros at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2010

did you ever consider that they are being genuine?
posted by bigdave at 5:23 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

You have every right to want to be called by your own name and to be upset when people call you something else that feels, to you, demeaning. That said, I'd say to the offenders something like this:

"Listen, I know you don't mean anything by it and it's probably not conscious, but I really prefer to be called by my first name rather than by a nickname. It's just a weird quirk of mine, but I'd really appreciate it if you could try to use my name. Thanks!"

In other words, frame it as an eccentricity of yours rather than as a criticism of their behavior. I think you'll get better results with that than with something that implies they're doing something wrong.

I think that calling them similar names will make them believe you like it, and getting visibly angry or upset is unlikely to accomplish the desired result of getting them to stop. However, you run the risk, whatever you do, of being labeled as "not a team player" or "standoffish" or "oversensitive" or some other nonsense, because you've refused to acquiesce to the dominant culture. That's not necessarily a reason to keep your mouth shut, but if being viewed as an outsider or a respected equal is one of your concerns, it's something to keep in mind.
posted by decathecting at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2010

Personally, I always respond with "No problem, love chunks!".
posted by smoke at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I tell them "I prefer to be called [Name]" calmly and without any drama, every single time. It will take a few repetitions but eventually it sinks in and sticks. (I don't get much of the "sweetie" stuff but I get a lot of diminutives of my real name, and this approach works there too.) Don't smile while you say it, either.

You have to do it utterly straight-faced because that's the unexpected reaction so it gets their attention. Reacting positively (smiling) OR negatively (annoyance) will encourage (or egg on) the behavior; you have to make it unfun for them to continue by making them feel a bit dumb for tossing out silly nicknames or endearments in a professional setting.
posted by Quietgal at 5:29 PM on January 8, 2010

"My name is Eleyna." Look them in the eye and say it calmly after each and every offense.

This. Don't act annoyed, don't be sarcastic, don't explain. DON'T do it back to them. And for heaven's sake don't make it out like wanting people to use your name is some kind of eccentric personal quirk.
posted by ottereroticist at 5:31 PM on January 8, 2010

Does your office have an HR department? If so, this is what they're for.
posted by justkevin at 5:32 PM on January 8, 2010

justkevin has made an iomportant point. HR exists for your protection, as well as the company's. They can advise, oversee, and enforce, as needed.

Probably all you need is advice, but letting them know this is a respect issue to you will be helpful.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:43 PM on January 8, 2010

If you live in the South, this might be partly cultural.

The thing to beware is this: Yes, you are perfectly within your rights to be offended by being called this, and there is nothing wrong with you asking for it to be stopped. That having been said: Are you prepared for this to cause a chill in the work atmosphere? By this I mean that depending on the culture of your particular office, others may frame things not as in "we are being disrespectful to a coworker" and more "What is her problem and why does she have that stick up her backside." One way to judge this is-do they call anybody else by those pet names or is it just you? If it's just you I think it might be safer to speak up. But if you are not the only one, there is a possibility that your objections might backfire.

Again, I am not saying you are wrong to object, just cautioning you to make sure this will help you and not hurt you in the long run.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:44 PM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

Ask your boss to spring for a desk plaque with "how you'd like to be addressed" on it along with your job title. In addition maybe your boss can release a memo about office etiquette. I'd talk with my boss unless he/she is a part of the problem.
posted by snsranch at 5:44 PM on January 8, 2010

Everything ottereroticist just said. Seconded (and thirded where appropriate).

Don't turn it into a game, don't be self-effacing. You are an adult and you get to choose how people address you. No explanation needed.
posted by greekphilosophy at 5:46 PM on January 8, 2010

Sidhedevil's idea is more brilliant than she knows. Yes, make the chart - but post it where people can see it! It's funny and points out that the behavior is... not serious.

OR (my wonderful SO just came up with this) - have a 0-9 flippable digit sign, posted within the phrase, "It has been [0-9] days since I was last condescended to" (or something more grammatically correct). When someone calls you "sweetheart", just heave a deep sigh, reach back, and flip the numbers to zero.
posted by amtho at 5:47 PM on January 8, 2010

Why are most people suggesting passive aggressive behavior? Just tell the offenders that you'd prefer to be called by your name. Don't be aggressive, don't be self-demeaning -- just tell them "Hey, could I ask you to call me by my name and not use 'honey' next time? Anyways, lets take a look at the HTML problem you're having ..."

If people refuse to respect your requests, you can escalate. But don't do it preemptively!
posted by bsdfish at 6:20 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I respectfully disagree with most of the advice given above.

I don't think people are trying to marginalize you. If your job title is "administrative assistant," you're already marginalized. You're an assistant. If you don't wanna be that, kicking up a fuss about how you're addressed is unlikely to change it. If someone did call your boss "sweetheart," how would she/he react? By saying "My name is ___"? Not likely—they would probably think it was too trivial to respond to. If that's not true of your boss, ask yourself whether you respect them more or less when they take exception to how others address them. How would *insert famous business magnate's name here* react to someone calling them "sweetheart"? Would they take umbrage, or take it as a compliment?

Applying for a new job somewhere, with a title like "applications developer" or some such, is more likely to yield the respect you desire.

To put it another way, the form of address is not the problem, it's just one of the symptoms. Deal with the root cause and the rest will fall into place.
posted by bricoleur at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2010

I would go with something funny that gets the point across, rather than serious. As it is a situation where you might want to choose to be 'happy' rather than 'right', as you will have to spend quite a few hours a week with them in the future.
posted by Vaike at 6:37 PM on January 8, 2010

If your job title is "administrative assistant," you're already marginalized. You're an assistant.

Fuck. That. Noise.

Every. Single. Employee. Deserves. Respect.
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:40 PM on January 8, 2010 [19 favorites]

Bricoleur suggests that there is something demeaning about your job title. I bristled initially, but he may have a point. I like 'secretary' better, if only because it is easier to say, and implies something more than 'assistant.'

That being said, it hsould also be said that there is certainly nothing demeanig about your job. It is an awesome job. Our new admis asst is rocking our office, organizing the hell out of us, and making our work lives better in a thousand ways. And she is doing it in professionally, competently, and without kissing up or kowtowing to a single one of us.
We call her by her name. If you are doing as much for your co-workers, let them know what you prefer to be called. Be persistent and be nice. They will come around.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:47 PM on January 8, 2010

They don't call the boss "sweetheart". They call ME "sweetheart".

People call me "man" or "dude" in the workplace and I don't feel marginalized even if the higher-ups wouldn't get similar treatment. Fix the problem like others are suggesting without thinking people mean bad by it. I call people "love", "mate" and so on with the best of intentions - most of these folks aren't trying to oppress you.
posted by wackybrit at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

People call me "man" or "dude" in the workplace and I don't feel marginalized

The masculine equivalent of "sweetheart" isn't "man", it's "sweetheart".
posted by stammer at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2010 [8 favorites]

If it's older ladies calling you this, I'd cut them some slack.

If it's not, it'd get pretty annoying. Is it really a lot of people?
posted by bluedaisy at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2010

"I feek uncomfortable when you call me _____ (name). I'm certain that you would like to make my experience more comfortable by acting in a respectful manner towards me."

What are they gonna do, say they don't wanna be respectful? Nope.

Its all about setting the boundaries in a way that makes you comfortable.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 PM on January 8, 2010

The names "honey" and "sweetheart" imply intimacy. You are at work: these aren't intimate relationships; they are professional ones. Men use those names towards women because it is their privilege to do so, which is WRONG. Those names are SEXIST and DISRESPECTFUL in a workplace environment.

It is time for you to say "Could you address me by my name, please? Thanks." You don't need to deal with it humorously, or in some way that won't "rock the boat." It is a double burden to shoulder these god-awful nicknames, AND feel like we must nicely, sweetly ask the perpetrators to stop while hoping we aren't offending anyone.

These men are disrespecting you. Tell them, bluntly, that these names are inappropriate and your own name works just fine.
posted by missmary6 at 9:02 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Talk to HR. Tell them you want them to send out an official memo regarding the use of these demeaning words. Tell them that you aren't lodging a complaint against anybody in particular, but you are voicing your concern.

HR is an odd department. Once you tell HR of something like this, it becomes THEIR problem to solve. If they don't do shit about it...the company becomes vulnerable to lawsuits, and they understand that.

I'm guessing you don't respond in kind with something like "love chunks". That's good; DON'T DO IT. It will only let the creeps think "oh...she's playing back...awesome...she wants me". It will get you MORE grossness.

PS. Im an HR Pro, not some dude hoping this works for you. PM me if this problem doesn't get solved by the end of January.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:02 PM on January 8, 2010

I am the boss and people "under" call me all sorts of endearing nicknames. If I am in a bad mood it bugs me, but I know they mean it to be endearing. I know they do respect me. I don't use nicknames. I don't even use diminutives of names, I will use Jeffrey instead of Jeff. But Jeffrey might call me Toots. It is kind of funny.

I suggest you try telling these folks that you prefer people use your name. I once worked with someone who was furious a situation you describe. She blew up and it really was a bad thing.
posted by fifilaru at 9:03 PM on January 8, 2010

If you hear the beginnings of what might sound like "honey" or something similarly diminutive just interrupt them before they can finish the word. Make up some minor clarification, detail or something you wanted to ask them. That is one way to deal with it.

Or, if they finish saying it you could say you didn't hear what they said. Have something else to look at, and bring up something new like "Oh, I didn't notice that before" and its some minor inconsequential detail.

Usually this is some kind of power play. People use it when they feel threatened or want to throw someone off balance sometimes. One good counter is to look directly next to their eyes. To others you will appear to be looking directly into their eyes, and the spectators will observe that the person looks a bit uncomfortable.
posted by verapamil at 9:14 PM on January 8, 2010

if someone says "thanks sweetheart" I'd fire back an enthusiastic "you're welcome sweetheart" with a big cheesy grin. It will get a laugh and highlight just what a ridiculous thing it is that they're calling you.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:14 PM on January 8, 2010

I am a boss as well as an employee. It would be weird and inappropriate for anyone in our office to call anyone "honey" or "sweetheart." It's unprofessional. If you were on my staff, I'd want you to bring it up, and would encourage you to respectfully let people know directly, when they used the word, that you prefer to be called by your name.

The assistant role in no way justifies condescension. And, unfortunately, there's no guarantee that having an illustrious job title would protect you from the invariable mis-application of diminutives in the inappropriate environment of the workplace.
posted by Miko at 9:21 PM on January 8, 2010

Before you go to HR, take a look around your office. What is the norm for your office? I'm not talking about the boss. I'm talking about everyone else at your level. Are relationships formal? Have people worked at the company for years? Do people socialize outside of work? I don't know what part of the country you're in, either, but that also comes into play, because in some parts of the country I'm "honey" when I go to visit clients or go to job installations.

Not every person who calls you "honey" is trying to demean you, put you in your place, diminish you. I absolutely agree that there are asshats out there that do just that, but NOT EVERYONE IS AN ASSHAT. If everyone in your office is incredibly familiar and informal, them continuing that informality with you shows that they are including you in that informality. You are one of the gang. I know you're going to say "but I don't want to be part of the gang if it means they call me honey" but I'm going to tell you outright that you do.

If you go to HR it's going to become a massive thing if you work in an organization of some size, and I'm not sure you want to do that. They have to take it seriously. But I honestly don't see enough here that tells me this is a HR violation.

I am also an old lady, but I have not lost all my marbles yet and I remember being the youngest one in the company and fuming at the stupid comments people made. I would advise trying to have a sense of humor about things and not take it so seriously unless it is getting in the way of you doing your job or it veers into the territory of sexual harassment. I don't want to say "lighten up" because I remember what it was like when I was the person who was keeping the office running and yet the sales guys called me "toots".

Telling people "My name is Sharon" or calling someone "sugar buns" won't get them to stop. It will, however, possibly get everyone in the office talking about how you don't have a sense of humor and who does she think she is and why does she have an attitude, she just started working here.

Not saying it's right. Not denying it's perpetuating the patriarchal hegemony. But work is work and you gotta survive and surviving at work without wanting to blow your brains out is about LEARNING TO PLAY THE GAME. It's a game. Learn to play it and you'll be happier and go farther.

And if someone is being a sexist asshat, by all means log it, go to HR, put them in their place.
posted by micawber at 9:22 PM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I call people sweetheart or darl or cowboy or honey-munchkins where I work. I'm quite certain the people I say it with (it's not everybody) understand it's a joke. I'm certain of this because they respond in the same manner, and we're both laughing.

If, however, one of these people wasn't comfortable, I'd be a little confused if they went straight to HR, or to our boss, and if they called me the same names back I'd assume it's a part of the joke. If they told me they didn't appreciate it, then I'd stop right there without a worry.

I know people may use these names derisively and condescendingly- I'm not trying to excuse their behaviour if they are. Please though, simply ask them before you go to HR or embark upon some passive-aggressive retaliation. They may not know how you feel about it.
posted by twirlypen at 9:46 PM on January 8, 2010

Shave your head and wear an eye patch.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:16 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ok, I see you are in California. That actually is probably to your advantage-if you lived in my area you'd be better off putting up with it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:45 PM on January 8, 2010

Just a point of order for those suggesting you go to HR - there are a lot of companies in this world that don't have a Human Resources department, or in which the HR "department" is one person who got that title simply because she (or he) keeps track of the payroll and health insurance. I've worked for many companies, large and small, that did not have a trained HR professional in residence.

As for the sweetie-honey-sugar situation, it's a multi-edged sword. If you object in any way, even in the most professional way, word may spread that you're not a "team player*" or that you're wasting company time concerning yourself with such trivial matters or that you're an uptight bitch. And if you don't object when someone minimalizes you with an endearment it is translated as tacit Certainly women deserve the same respect as men in the workplace, whether she's a receptionist, custodian, administrative assistant or vice president. I've been dealing with this problem since I got my first job as a teen in 1976, and over the years the only occasionally-effective defense I've found is to pause, act surprised and then look at the person with sincere confusion and ask "Sweetheart? Why did you call me that?" Let them reply and then comment "it just took me by surprise because even my (husband/boyfriend) wouldn't call me that at work....." Voice drifts off with a look of incredulty on your face while you handle the requested task. The one time I took the extreme route was at one small company where I regularly had to talk to the company's CPA (outsourced, but he was the father of the guy I worked for). He had a nasty habit of talking to me as if I was a child, regularly saying "good girl!" when I'd done something like finished the quarterly report ahead of time. One day he "good girled" me yet again, and I demurely replied, "Oh, you make me blush, Mr. S. I've haven't really been a girl since I got my first period in the eighth grade. According to the school nurse, I was officially a woman." Inappropriate, yes, but I knew I was leaving the company a few months hence and it left him speechless for the first time since I'd met him.

(*I was told this by an actual degreed Human Resources professional at one company I worked at; I'd told an exec who persisted in calling me "Babe" that my name was Oriole, not Babe, and he complained to HR!)
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:22 AM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be called what you want to be called. A simple, "Please, call me elayna" is professional and appropriate.
posted by Space Kitty at 3:43 PM on January 9, 2010

Miko, with all due respect to all the extremely good advice you give on this site and otherwise... honestly we don't know enough about the situation here to make even a well educated guess on a good path forward, and sometimes, and I really hate to admit this, the "right answer" isn't actually the best or most helpful answer.

Depending on the situation, and whether or not this job is worth keeping, the OP may or may not be successful in embarking upon a campaign of confrontation, no matter how polite, particularly depending on the office dynamic involved. Sometimes even correcting people politely (whether you're a admin assistant or a senior scientist) is very ill-advised, and I'll try to explain why, as articulately as I can manage.

I have been a SECRETARY (goddammit!) for 22 years. In those years I have been called all manner of diminutives, sometimes it's been harmless, and sometimes it hasn't. Sometimes I've gotten pissed off, sometimes I've been polite, sometimes I've mentioned it to HR, sometimes I've just smiled and blown it off. My point is: it very much depends.

I am going to try to make a couple of points here that I think micawber also made, and I swear to jebus I'll try to be brief, but it probably won't happen.

1) It makes a HUGE difference what region of the country you work in, what the power balance/dynamic is, what industry you work in, and even the common demographic you're dealing with. Example A: When I worked at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals R&D with a bunch of East Coast Ph.D. executives, we all displayed an extreme degree of polite, professional graciousness with each other, and no one would have ever dreamed of using diminutives, endearments, swear words, or even raising their voice in a business environment with any colleague. Example B: When I worked on the machine shop floor at G.E. Aircraft with a bunch of ex-military Southern boys, everyone swore like drunken sailors and it was acceptable, even admirable, to do some serious ball-busting. I even found a 16 oz ballpeen hammer outside once that some contractors had left behind and stuck it on my desk thinking the guys might come back for it. They never did, and my colleagues took to calling it "the Nutbuster". You can imagine the sorts of interactions I had in that office.

2) Okay, sure I've gotten on my self-righteous I AM SO EMPOWERED high horse before in employment situations... and gotten my ass fired for "being a bad fit" because of it. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it's discriminatory. No, there was absolutely nothing I could have done about it, because, see above, I was fired as "being a bad fit", not because anyone would ever have admitted I was being discriminated against. See, the problem is, it's all "he said, she said" bullshit.

So, and as I am extremely afraid to publicly admit in front of all the progressive feminist intelligentsia on MetaFilter: yes, even in this enlightened day and age, this is unfortunately sometimes still a fairly shitty part of being a woman, and especially a woman in a clerical role in the business world, and particularly as a woman in a clerical role in certain regions / industries / demographics of Our Fair Country. YES THAT SUCKS. NO IT'S NOT FAIR. But honestly, who ever, in their wildest dreams, ever said life is fair?

No, it's absolutely not the norm everywhere, but absolutely in some places you're going to get this, and your colleagues just think they are normal everyday Being Polite. If that is not okay, then you have a number of choices, including, but not limited to: getting a different job at a more progressive company, moving, changing careers / getting a degree, and so on. If you choose to remain status quo with the quainter sorts of Folksy-Folk office, and you then elect to get a bit shirty about their attitudes, then, to some degree, you're going to be (as my old bully-sergeant boss at Lockheed Martin used to term it) pissing up a rope.

Please understand that when I refer to "playing the game", it does NOT have to mean "rolling over to the man", or surrendering your sense of self-worth, your independence, the respect of your colleagues, or enabling misogynist asshats. It does, however, involve, as my very blueblood Boston debutante grandmother would have put it "being gracious" and learning how to get along in society.

Also understand that I am in full agreement that if these people are being deliberately demeaning then BY ALL MEANS you should confront them, up to and including filing a complaint to HR. However, in quite a few situations, it really is just the species of well meaning ignorant bullshit that's part of dealing with office life.

Conclusion: There's a reason I don't work for soldiers and blue collar mill workers anymore, and am now, once again, back to working for an East Coast attorney in a pharmaceutical setting with a bunch of Ph.D.s.


let the poo-flinging begin...
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like to blandly ask people if they just did the annoying thing they just did. I find it gives them a moment to re-consider without my having to explicitly tell them not to annoy me any more.

THEM: Hey, thanks for fixing my computer, sweetheart!

YOU: (very bland, no smile, don't raise the volume or pitch of your voice, just look at them with slightly sideways eyes but not angry eyes.) Did you just call me sweetheart?

THEM: Uh... yeah....

YOU: Does everybody get a cutesy office nickname?

THEM: Uh... no, just you... because... because you're so sweet!

YOU: Huh. (pause, then, slightly pointed but not angry) Oh, lucky me. I reconfigured your DNS. Is your computer working properly now?

Pretty sure they won't do it again.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:50 PM on January 9, 2010

Oriole Adams: "blah blah blah ... don't make waves ... you're only a secretary ... you might be punished or worse yet fired ... being seen as a team player is more important than feeling comfortable at work ... blah blah blah"

Name another oppressed class that has members working so very hard to keep others from fighting for their rights.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:01 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Call them "honey" and "sweetie" back, and quit overanalyzing it. Obviously they don't mean anything by it.

"Sugarbooger" is a good one. I vote for that.
posted by anniecat at 6:39 AM on January 11, 2010

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