Etiquette question

If a senior male colleague refers to me as “young lady”, is it acceptable for me to call him “old man” next time I see him?

I’m not really offended or anything, but c’mon! Only my Dad gets to call me that.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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12 Responses to Etiquette question

  1. hypoglycemiagirl says:

    Depends if you’re in any way dependent on the colleague in question. If you’re not, go ahead and try the “old man” with a smile to indicate that you’re being funny while at the same time bringing a message of “don’t you ever call me that again”. If he doesn’t have a sense of humour AND you are in some way dependent I would be very careful…Some of my older (male) French colleagues frequently call the female staff “girls” as in “Bonjour les filles” if there’s more than one female present. Unfortunately my French is not good enough to tell him to shut it in the polite French way.

  2. CAE says:

    I don’t really know him well enough to know if the humourous approach would be appropriate. I might try it anyway!I did use that approach yesterday when a workshop participant joked that deciding on the amount of preliminary data to put into a grant application was like dealing with a fussy girlfriend – not too much, but not too little, don’t get it wrong or you’ll be in trouble! I replied (with a smile), “hey, some of us around this table have had boyfriends like that too!” It was about a 50-50 gender split so it went down quite well…

  3. Unbalanced Reaction says:

    I vote for the “deploy death stare” approach.

  4. ScienceGirl says:

    My favorite is the “Guys! Oh, and that includes you, young lady!”Yep, I feel included now.

  5. CAE says:

    UR: My death stare needs some work, people usually just laugh at it.SG: That’s shocking! How do you usually respond?

  6. ScienceGirl says:

    I practice the death glare. That tends to change the address into “Guys and gals!” the next time, even though there is only one gal. (Maybe that means UR and I should tutor you, CAE 🙂

  7. CAE says:

    Yes, apparently I need lessons. Maybe there’s a tutorial on YouTube or something!

  8. Mad Hatter says:

    Hey, I can actually put my four years of French classes to some use. I suggest hypoglycemiagirl use “Taisez-vous, s’il vous plait!” That’s polite enough, isn’t it? After all, you did say please…. :-)As for using the word “guys,” that really doesn’t bother me. I use it myself as an informal way to address a group of people regardless of gender composition.

  9. Wayfarer Scientista says:

    Absolutely!!! My dad would 🙂 Or you can just call him sweetie. I’ve used that tactic before with a big grin and a laugh, and usually they laugh too but they don’t do it again. And in ScienceGirl’s case I look around and say “who? Oh, you mean me??” with great exagerration. The death stare doesn’t work too well for me.

  10. CAE says:

    Mad Hatter: I use guys indiscriminately too, but I think if I was the only girl in the group and got Sciencegirl’s modifier I’d have to start practicing my death stare too!Wayfarer: Eww! Sweetie just doesn’t seem to fit for this bloke. It’s either death stare or “old man” I think. I don’t come across him very often but I think I might see him on Friday so that could be interesting.

  11. Ed Darrell says:

    Manager at the local non-fast food burger joint calls me “young man” when I order. He probably does that to everyone. 20 years ago, it didn’t make me think twice. I’m over 50 now, quite gray, and it seems patronizing. What’s changed?Maybe you should deal with it in an adult manner: Tell him that it bothers you, if it does. Then he’ll tell you about the tragic death of his daughter, and how you remind him of her, and you’ll both go out for a beer, and it won’t ever bother you again.

  12. CAE says:

    Ed: it doesn’t bother me too much, I realise it’s probably just a generational thing. If I saw him every day I think I’d say something, but it’s once or twice a month so no biggie!

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