It's "banana," not "'nana"
July 21, 2014 10:49 AM   Subscribe

How do I ask a friend to stop speaking in a baby voice? Friend in question is 22 years old.

I met another woman through playing pickup Sport, and we get along well. We also play on the same team this summer and will play together in the fall. So I see her at least 2-3 a week for a few hours each time.

One thing I notice when it's not just us talking - although sometimes between us as well - she uses a baby voice. Her voice gets much higher and the sentences become more infantile. As much as I like her, this is extremely annoying because we're adults. I feel like avoiding her completely when she starts using that voice.

How do I ask her to stop speaking that way? Can I ask her to stop speaking that way? I suspect it's a way to integrate herself with the other players but I'm just grasping at straws here.
posted by mlo to Human Relations (51 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Personally I would just put up with the annoyance and not try to correct her. Unless you are close friends who have shared lots of personal stuff, or you are much older and have reason to believe she looks up to you as a mentor, I think it would be difficult to correct a personal tic like that without offending her.
posted by Aravis76 at 10:54 AM on July 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

Agreed with Aravis76. I can't imagine a tactful way to tell a grown woman to "talk like a big girl."
posted by missrachael at 10:55 AM on July 21, 2014

What I do with kids who are whining or speaking in an age-inappropriate baby voice is just say "what?" I'm sorry, I can't understand you" when they do it. I think you are too casually acquainted to be more direct than that.
posted by kate blank at 10:56 AM on July 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

Can I ask her to stop speaking that way?


I mean, you can. But it's not your place and it would be weird and rude.
posted by threeants at 10:56 AM on July 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

I think you'll have the best results by pretending you can't understand her and saying, "What? I can't understand you," repeating as needed.

*I do the same thing with little kids.
posted by kinetic at 10:57 AM on July 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

You either suck it up or ask her bluntly: why the hell are you talking like you're 3?

try to make it jokey "so blunt it's funny!" and if you can deliver it without a live wire of disgust / judgment but just shock and slightly weirded out it might go over well.

I picked up a bad habit of baby talking to my cats from the Vet Techs at my vet. They talk in cutsey high pitched voices all day long. Maybe this woman has a day job with children?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

This would get on my last nerve as well but I can't think of a single way you could say it that wouldn't be extremely rude.
posted by _Mona_ at 11:00 AM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Hey, your baby voice really bugs me and makes it hard to interact with you. Why do you do that?"
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:00 AM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I picked up a bad habit of baby talking to my cats from the Vet Techs at my vet. They talk in cutsey high pitched voices all day long. Maybe this woman has a day job with children?

No, she's a PhD student in biomedical engineering. Through her lab, she does some outreach with children but that's once a month or two.
posted by mlo at 11:02 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

One thing I notice when it's not just us talking

So, a boyfriend once told me I do this thing where I'd raise my voice about half an octave when talking to him. Talk to other people in a normal voice, talk to him in a higher voice.

Obviously that's horribly embarrassing and childish (he thought it was cute), and I had no idea I did it, and even once I was made aware of it I had a hard time noticing when I'd do it. I think there's an extremely good chance I do this with every guy I date.

The fact that she does it more when you're in groups might be that there's someone in the group she's affectionate toward, and she doesn't even realize it.

You can go ahead and tell her, but do it in a "hey you may not realize this but" way and frame it as kind of a funny little quirk rather than "stfu you annoying brat."
posted by phunniemee at 11:02 AM on July 21, 2014 [13 favorites]

I would be unable to restrain my visible confusion/disgust/horror/D: face whenever she did this in my presence so that would probably do the trick but I can't really see a way for you to do that naturally at this point, nor do I see it working out favourably for you to say "this is super creepy and annoying and i wish you wouldn't".

I very intensely hate social awkwardness like this so I would probably just stop doing this sport thing forever in the hopes of never seeing her again. Either that or I would try to ignore it and fail and just resent them forever.
posted by elizardbits at 11:05 AM on July 21, 2014 [20 favorites]

I've been this woman, and yeah... I didn't realize I was doing it. It was just kind of a way to deal with anxiety and ingratiate myself and was born of insecurity. But I seriously had no idea I was doing it, let alone Frequently.

You might try just asking, "did you know you change to talking in a baby voice with the group?" On preview, like phunniemee says, it's worth pointing out. I was pretty embarrassed, and tried to cut it out.

But don't be like my friend who gets angry any time it happens and overexaggerates it while responding. That gets OLD.
posted by ldthomps at 11:05 AM on July 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I suspect it's a way to integrate herself with the other players but I'm just grasping at straws here.

She's playing pickup sport, and trying to get in with the team while being a very young PhD student...

She's probably internalized the concept of dumbing herself down just a little too much.

Or she's just doing it for the hell of it. Or completely unaware.

In any case, you probably can't find a graceful way to tell her this is irritating. But you could just tell her, since it's already making you feel like avoiding her.
posted by RainyJay at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

You can ask her about it without asking her change and then mildly express your preference for the usual voice she uses with you.
"I notice that sometime when you are in a group, your voice gets higher. Did you know that you do that?" Listen to her answer and then just add "while i'm glad that you don't talk that way with me, I like your regular voice better" If, and only if, she says that this is something she wants to change then you can ask if there is anything you can do to help her (like a reminder when you notice her doing it) Unless she says she wants to change, you need to leave it alone.

It is different with children, where we as parents or teachers have a responsibility for teaching them the correct way to behave. You are not in this role with your friend and it would be inappropriate to do so.
posted by metahawk at 11:08 AM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

If it's that damned "sexy baby" voice, explain to her that's it's annoying to all right-thinking people.
posted by pracowity at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

I really think this is a thing you find annoying about someone which is not necessarily an actual objective problem in need of fixing. And for that reason, it would be way overstepping your bounds to give her advice on how to change the way she speaks. Your aim is just to be less annoyed, right? That's a really crappy reason to make a casual friend try to change a fundamental thing about themselves.

If you want to be less annoyed, stop hanging out with her. If you genuinely feel like this behavior is harming her in some way and you want to help, that's something else - but it sounds like to me you just find her irritating. That's your problem, not hers.
posted by something something at 11:11 AM on July 21, 2014 [16 favorites]

I'm with ldthomps and phunniemee.

We have a family friend in her 60s who does this on occasion, and I'm told she was the baby of the family and she's done this all her life, usually during festive moments or moments she feels should be more festive, like holidays. She's a wonderful, generous, educated, thoughtful person, but what she does with her voice really does work against her. Her husband and children resist it but have been too shy to say anything for fear of hurting her.

So, yeah, gently pulling your friend aside and letting her know could save her years of embarrassment or discomfort later on. It's quite possible she has no idea she's doing this.
posted by mochapickle at 11:16 AM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I fucking hate baby talk. I feel for you.

I had a friend who used baby talk. She would call cooked "tookies" and spaghetti "sketti" and did baby talk crap all the effing time. Drove me absolutely insane. I finally lost it and said straight up confronted her about it, saying something like "I'm unclear if you're aware, but you frequently use baby talk to me, and refer to things in baby words. I need you to try to stop speaking to me in that way. It is driving me insane. I'm not a baby, nor are you. You're a masters student for gods sake, you know the word is cookie not tookie!"

1. I don't think she knew she was doing it 2. She thought it was perfectly alright to speak that way. Long story short, she didn't take it well. Granted, I maybe could have phrased it more gently but seriously I just couldn't take it any more. Ultimately we went our separate ways (for reasons unrelated to her baby talk) but she never stopped doing it as far as I know. To this day, though, I am oversensitive to hearing ANY baby talk. I get irritated when people speak to babies that way, for gods sake. My kid went through a phase where he decided to speak like a baby ("me want supper" not "I want supper"). Every time he did it I made him repeat whatever he said like the big kid that he was, and reminded him that people won't know how smart and grown up he is if he keeps speaking like a baby. Thank god it stopped...

In summary, you can point it out to her (more gently than I did) but understand she may be perfectly aware of it and thinks it's cute, in which case you're stuck. However, I'm of the mind that you should risk it and let her know that she's doing it.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

My relative does a similar thing. Adds -sies to everything, like "Let's play game-sies, isn't this funsies?" or otherwise adding all kinds of 'cute' adjectives like "yummy". In her case it's a way of collecting attention, or forcing people in to her communication court, or pitching herself as "cute baby relative", or something.

At any rate, it's intentional and done for the purpose of whatever she thinks it does to other people's view of her. She has not reacted well to hints and/or direct suggestions to stop it, as that's an affront to her personality! and individuality! and her own way! And don't ruin my funsies!

So that may underlie whatever interaction you choose to have with your teammate about it.
posted by Dashy at 11:46 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hatesssss it, the baby talk. Blegh.

If this were me, I'd just wait until she said something in a baby voice and then ask her, "Hey, why do you do that baby talk thing?" Try to avoid showing your [totally justified] disgust, and ask her with as much sincere curiosity as you can muster. If she isn't aware she's doing it, you may have just helped her out. If she IS aware she's doing it and REALLY LIKES doing it or something, then you've met a freak and you have my permission to kick her ankles.

But please don't do that passive-agressive 'I can't hear you when you talk like that' thing, though. That's as lame and immature as speaking like a baby.

Anecdata! My wife once met a woman who gave voice to affirmative answers by saying, "Meow." My wife thought this was odd, and made a comment to a friend about how she wanted to ask this girl what the deal was with her 'cat-talk'. This friend (a filthy hipster) advised against it, saying, "She's a famous artist and you don't want to make her feel weird. That whole 'Meow' business is kind of her thing." My wife chose to follow the friend's advice.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:50 AM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you do end up bringing it up with her, I'd at least aim to do it when it's just the two of you. I think having spectators won't be helpful to either of you, should you discuss this openly.
posted by obliterati at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I work with a couple of women who use that really high "fairy voice" as though they're speaking to a drowsy baby. It irritates me, but I would never comment on the voice alone. If however they ever started using "baby words" when they were speaking with me (not just around me, but actually speaking *to* me) I would probably say "Can you please not speak baby talk when you're speaking with me? I find it completely distracting and can't focus on the actual topic at hand." I'd say it nicely, but I would absolutely say it.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:00 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is yet another situation that can be easily handled with gentle humor. Next time she starts, you just give her a mischievous smile and say "We're all adults here, you can use your big girl voice!" Keep smiling, make it playful and upbeat. Practice in front of a mirror beforehand if you have to. The trick is to make sure there is no hint of sarcasm, irritation, or demeaning manner. Because ultimately, you are trying to do her a favor, in a nice way.

Do this a couple of times and she will get the message, I promise.
posted by raisingsand at 12:03 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think IF you're willing to risk being the asshole, because you really think she's doing it unthinkingly like a tic or bad habit or nervous camouflage or something, you will have done her a favor if you're right.

(You'll be an asshole if you're wrong, but then does the judgement of a baby-talker carry all that much weight?)

I do think you can get away with one or two pointed "Sorry?" responses to open the door to saying something. And then you can say, "Look, I'm an asshole if this is deliberate, but I'm not sure you realize you're baby-talking and it just seems like it's doing you a disservice."

That second "Sorry" gives her a chance to own it herself first. Because maybe this is a thing she knows about but struggles with, and it gives her a chance to say yeah, I know, I don't mean to and I don't think you're a baby or that I need to baby talk, it's just this thing I'm trying to not do, sorry.

If she hates you for saying this to her privately and gently, then the problem is hers.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:04 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

One more thing... sometimes, if you're doing it right, you will get a sincere response of "what do you mean?" or whatever. That's the time to start an adult conversation with her about it...."I'm not sure you realize how unflattering that is." etc.
posted by raisingsand at 12:05 PM on July 21, 2014

I had a friend like this and the only non-rude thing I could think to do was sort of repeat back to her what she was saying, in an adult voice.

Her (in annoying "sexy baby" voice): "Aren't you SO excited for the BACHEEEEEYYYYYYY?!"
Me (normal voice): "Yes, so excited for the bachelorette party!"

It didn't work. Thinking of it now, my annoyance was magnified by what I perceived as the cause--the sexy baby voice always came out around guys and was part of a whole insecurity thing, which got so bad in other ways that it ended our friendship.

So maybe thinking of why this annoys you and trying to deal with that can help you be around this person regardless of whether the voice continues?

Or...make up an article you read: "That reminds me, I just read the most interesting thing! They did a study and it showed women use baby voice in [pick some situation], but it worked against them because other people find it annoying! Isn't that weird? Like, we have this urge to do it but we all hate hearing it from someone else? It made me stop doing it!"
posted by sallybrown at 12:08 PM on July 21, 2014

If there's a way to use playing along to deflate the sexy-babyness while staying light-hearted and without being condescending...

To adapt sallybrown's example above, instead of responding to "BACHEEEEEYYYYYYY" with "bachelorette party," in a totally stable and adult (not sexy-baby) way say, "I am SO excited for the bachey. I mean, my sister's bachey was great, but seriously, not kidding, this bachey should be the bachey to beat all bacheys."

I realize typing that that it looks like it could be cold sarcasm, but I think that if you're able to maintain a friendly tone while repeating words like that back to her minus the baby voice, it might make her realize that it's bothering you without you having to call her out on it directly and make her feel bad about it.
posted by doctornecessiter at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd say something, but only when it's just the two of you present, NOT in front of anybody else. If it works, fine; if it doesn't work, there's a good chance she'll be so insulted she'll drop you like a hot potato, and that's fine too.

Anecdata: I once got so frustrated by it that I told one of my sisters about, you know, her habit of saying 'you know' about, you know, every third word or, you know, thereabouts. She got very angry and totally denied it; the only way she FINALLY believed she was doing it was when we recorded a family tape for a blind relative and I played it back for her... I lost track of how many 'you knows' were in there, but it got the point across. Sister never did completely get rid of them, but she certainly cut it down.
posted by easily confused at 12:28 PM on July 21, 2014

People are really annoying. They're too loud, they fidget and stim and they chew with their mouths open, and they talk funny. But how would you feel if some casual acquaintance/new friend jumped right in giving you advice on how to change your personality to be less annoying to them?

You don't know her well enough to get to criticize the way she presents herself. She probably has her reasons, even if they're silly or subconscious ones, and the way she talks is not hurting anyone. Work on your own tolerance of it, or if you really can't handle it anymore, then maybe you can't really pursue a closer friendship with her.

Maybe someday, if you guys get to be close enough friends, you can bring it up in a non-judgmental way.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:29 PM on July 21, 2014 [14 favorites]

I find this kind of talk annoying, too. But I used to engage in a version of it, and it was it was a manifestation of barely-contained volcanic anxiety and self-consciousness. Definitely NOT an attempt to be precious and nonthreatening in front of men, or any such bullshit. If someone had scolded me or teased me for talking that way, I'm pretty sure it would have just made my self-consciousness/loathing worse. God only knows what irritating tic I would have resorted to, then.

Someone closer to her can have the talk about why women need to speak more confidently to be taken seriously, or why she doesn't have to ingratiate herself to fit in. You just don't know her well enough to do that.

But yeah, it really can be obnoxious as fuck. All sympathies there.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:40 PM on July 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you're willing to white-lie it a bit, you could tell her that you seem to have trouble hearing high notes, and so sometimes miss what she's saying when she does that voice. That way you can let her know that she's doing "a voice" without admitting that it annoys you, and also letting her know that you do want to hear what she has to say.

My hearing can be very patchy when there is a lot of background noise, so I have had similar conversations with a lot of my friends, and they are always understanding.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:55 PM on July 21, 2014

Honestly, I think I would probably say "Use your grown-up voice" to her in a slightly chiding/scolding tone. But, I have poor social skills and often say things that I regret later. So don't take it as advice, so much as "this is how a person might handle it with unconscious tactlessness, even though I was really annoyed and saying something seemed appropriate at the time."
posted by mudpuppie at 12:55 PM on July 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

I have a ridiculously childish giggle I do when I'm nervous. I used to think that it was a very rare event for when I was very very nervous. Then a guy used to point out that it was the most adorable thing ever.

I wasn't trying to be adorable! I was trying to be an adult, hiding my insecurity. After that I heard myself giggling everywhere, in the most embarrassing scenarios. It still crops up, but I've made strides. And I can at least warn the folks at a funeral that I'm soooo sorry I am a nervous giggler and don't mean anything by that. It was nice because it was such a non-confrontational way to be told how I present myself.

It has the downside of potentially reinforcing her commitment to babytalk. But ultimately if you're going to approach it, it should be with the expectation of making sure she knows how she presents herself, not that she should know she's bugging the crap out of you. The first is kind, the second is rude (but totally understandable).
posted by politikitty at 1:00 PM on July 21, 2014

Ask her if she's seen In A World.
posted by caek at 1:12 PM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd use behavior modification, basically, respond positively to adult conversation, and ignore baby talk.
posted by theora55 at 1:36 PM on July 21, 2014

It is not likely to end well when you try to change the behavior of a not-very-close new friend. Your friend will see through most of the pretexts suggested above.

This may be a case where the title of the post is getting in the way. Does she really say "nana" instead of "banana"?

Anyway, taking that as an example, the next time an important topic comes up, such as your baby's allergy to bananas, or international trade in bananas, or a new fruit blight or the chief crops of Central America ... you might be able to say, "Look, I'm sorry, but this is really serious for me and I really want your opinion, but it sounds from the way you're speaking and calling them "nanas" that you aren't feeling this is important."

So, I think you can bring this up more organically when the discussion is about an important issue, where the whole baby-talk behavior is objectively inappropriate.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:39 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Baby talk annoys me like nothing else, so I'm sympathetic to you. I wonder if you can make it about you, not her. Could you say to her, "hey, I'm sorry if this comes across as rude, because I don't want to make you feel bad--I think you're awesome--but I was hoping you could try to cut down on the baby talk when we're together. I'm probably oversensitive to it for some reason, but it really drives me batty and makes it difficult for me to pay attention to what you're saying. I'd appreciate it so much, thank you."
posted by Edna Million at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Baby talk really, REALLY grates on my eardrums, even when used with pets and even when used with actual babies. (Is there any good reason why the kid can't learn normal, grown-up words like "bathroom" vs. "potty" and "banana" vs. "nana"? It's not like you're trying to teach the kid to say "antidisestablishmentarianism" or "partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil" and thus have a developmental-level need to use simpler words as the kid's brain hasn't matured enough to handle it yet...)

Pussyfooting around the issue does a disservice to all involved. Be direct and blunt. The next time she uses baby talk, say something like "why do you feel the need to do that?"

If that fails, either find another pickup Sport team or just ignore it and try not to associate with her beyond what is necessary to play pickup Sport.
posted by tckma at 2:12 PM on July 21, 2014

Invite her over for movie night. Show "In A World"

Here's a bit about it.

Other than that...grit your teeth, if it bugs you you could always do a passive aggressive, "Dude, bring it down a couple octaves, I don't think the dogs in Cherokee county could hear you."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If she's biomed engineering, she could be dumbing herself down in order to not alienate others. It's hard to open your mouth and have everyone recoil at your clarity of discourse or confidence. Many me-fites can relate. (I'm engineering and sometimes act silly/dumb with my guy... especially when my brain is tired.)

Then you can just take her aside an mention it to her. "hey I noticed you talk really high pitched" and see what she says. You don't even have to say "stop doing it" just say what you notice and then take her lead from there.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:59 PM on July 21, 2014

If it's that damned "sexy baby" voice, explain to her that's it's annoying to all right-thinking people.

I hate it when adults use babytalk to me too.

However, baby talk is NOTHING like what your post linked to. Women/girls who use vocal fry, uptalk, and who sound as if they are smiling when they talk simply sound young and friendly, as far as I can tell. And uptalk is simply a conveniently condensed way of adding "You know what I mean?" or "Do you understand?" to your sentences, although it certainly can be overdone.

The actress who didn't like what she called "sexy baby" talking was babyfying her tone to make her point, by making it sound worse than it actually is.

Guys use vocal fry and uptalk too, by the way. And some people just don't have grown up voices yet.

Baby talk is a whole nother thing.
posted by serena15221 at 3:04 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

A former coworker and friend of mine has a very high, very girly voice. It gets worse in anxious situations, like presentations. Colleagues would talk behind her back about how annoying her voice was, and how they absolutely hated her because of her voice. They would completely disregard her and anything she said, and this was a woman with a masters degree and was ABD.

She knows she had a high voice. She also knows she was harshly and deeply judged by others because of it.

Unless your friend asks you for your opinion about her voice, or shares with you her feelings around how she's being perceived by others, or you get into a discussion where she's actively seeking your advice where her baby talk is the root cause, I don't see how this is going to work without it coming across as judgmental and shaming.
posted by vivzan at 3:31 PM on July 21, 2014 [11 favorites]

If you decide to talk to her, could you make your comment about yourself rather than her directly? I hate it when other women talk to me this way because it feels like they expect me to join them in complying with the infantilization of women. I think this kind of talk probably comes from a place of anxiety about being a grown woman who asserts her space in the world.

If nothing else, your friend's PhD advisors will probably talk to her about this.
posted by Comet Bug at 5:35 PM on July 21, 2014

If she told you she didn't like your hair and wanted you to change it because it bothered her , how would you take that?

This is not her problem to fix, it's your problem.
posted by smoke at 5:45 PM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Gah, so sad that intelligent women feel the need to speak like that.

I'd talk to her about it, gently. And casually bring it up every time she does it again.

"So, we all have bad habits but ... Do you realize you speak baby talk sometimes? Not trying to hurt your feelings, but you're on your way up and it's not appropriate. You really have to work on this."

Then a, "you're doing it again".

Please don't treat her like a child. Being demeaning and being a friend just don't go well together.
posted by Neekee at 6:45 PM on July 21, 2014

What elizardbits said, plus: "What? What? What? OH, a banana!"

I dated a guy who baby talked to me, it made my skin crawl. I tried to address it head on and he cried, I'm not sure why. Anyway, for the long haul, you may just need to avoid her except when absolutely possible -- luckily, Sport probably winds everyone too much to talk.
posted by mibo at 6:51 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're potentially at a point where you'd consider not being her friend anymore, you can try to point it out. You don't have much to lose because you may lose the friendship anyway. You don't need to sit her down and be like, "Jane, you speak in a baby voice sometimes and it makes me uncomfortable." But next time she does it you can say, "Why did you just switch to a baby voice? Are we pretending we are the Muppet Babies now, or...?" Don't laugh. Just seem confused. Once it's pointed out and she feels dumb, she should stop by the next time you see her. If not, she doesn't get it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:08 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Throwing out the 0.00000000001% chance, but she could have a bimbofication arrangement / agreement that includes modifying her speech. Maybe involving only modifying her speech.

If you don't want to confront her, think that, if it helps ("this is part of a very conscious, adult charade that she does by choice, and she is getting something out of it that is none of my business").
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:16 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could be talking about one of my good friends from my college years. She was a virologist, on her way to a prestigious research university PhD and she was witty, brilliant and fragile. She would talk in a very high, baby-ish voice when she was nervous or unsure, especially around people who she didn't know well. This initially irked me, just as it does you. Her "other" voice, the one I didn't mind, was used when she addressed professors or the researchers she worked for and with. It was a very slow, carefully measured "normal" speaking voice. As I got to know her and she grew more comfortable around me, she stopped the high-pitched baby voice and began to use a more "normal" voice in our interactions, different from the professor voice even. That's when I realized that she was using the baby-ish sounding talk as a kind of self-soothing reaction to being in an anxious situation.

I guess I would say that if your friend is using that voice with you, it might be because she feels anxious around you, despite liking you. I would advice patience and non-judgement and maybe some humor and understanding. After all, is it actively hurting you when she speaks this way?
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 7:29 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I would just kind of roll my eyes at her affectionately and be like, "OH MY GOD. JUST CALL IT A BANANA. I mean, I love you, but come ON."

I forgot which word I was overusing, but it was something that drove one of my friends crazy and she told me in just that way while we were having tacos. I was kind of embarrassed but it wasn't a big thing. It gave me the opportunity to be jokey back so that it wasn't a back-and-forth conversation we had to dwell on, and then we dropped it. (If my friend had put on a serious face and said something like, "I don't know if you noticed but _______, and it's really not a good way to represent yourself," I would've found it pretty condescending and also would have died of embarrassment. Like, how do you recover the conversation from there? Make it quick and then drop it.)
posted by pineappleheart at 9:27 AM on July 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Taking her to task for her behavior as an adult woman is simply not your place as a casual acquaintance. If a someone told her not to wear such tight sweaters, or short skirts, would that be okay? I don't think so. You don't police other people's behavior unless it's doing actual harm. If you're irritated by it, but it isn't harming you, just back away.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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