my boss isn’t doing his work, coworker won’t stop calling me a silly nickname, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Coworker keeps calling me a silly nickname, even though I asked him to stop

We have a new employee that started in our safety office. My name is Linda, but he has started calling me “Lindog.” From the first time he called me that, I asked him to stop. I’m 54 and he’s 22, but we are peers. I have tried to relax when he calls me that, but Friday was so embarrassing when another employee heard it and snickered covering his face and whispered “Lindog” as they left the building. I finally wrote him to stop and spoke to my boss to gain a different perspective and see if I may be being to sensitive and should relax. My two sons, husband, and boss felt it was disrespectful and now this guy is not speaking to me and his boss has decided to ignore me too. It seems I have created a bigger problem. Should have let him continue calling me this? I’m confused. Any wisdom to help an uncomfortable situation?

I don’t know that the nickname itself was rude when he first used it — some people are nicknamers, and it’s more likely to be a sign of friendliness than anything else. But it’s rude to continuing calling someone something after they ask you to stop, so he’s absolutely in the wrong for not stopping once you asked him to — and the whispering and snickering with the coworker is rude too. That said, your best bet is probably to let it go at this point — he’s already shown that you disliking it isn’t going to make him stop, and I think you’ll come across as overly focused on it if you keep complaining. Can you try reframing it in your mind as a friendly, albeit misplaced, gesture? And honestly, if you can pull it off, giving him a nickname too (in a friendly way, not a hostile way) might defuse the whole thing.

2. My boss isn’t doing his work and it’s impacting me

I am an entry-level graphic designer at a small tech company. Part of my job is answering phones and emails, interacting with customers, and following up on projects that the rest of the team is working on. My boss, the owner, is the senior designer but doesn’t handle much design work anymore. (I began this position last year when he was working full time – now he works two or three days a week.)

Recently, I’ve had problems with my boss not taking responsibility for the work he’s supposed to be doing. For example, a client we’ve worked with before specifically asked to work with him. I gave my boss the project outline, and he said he’d call her later that day. Four days later, she called and accused me of never forwarding her request to him – he had never called her back as he said he would. This was embarrassing on my end and made me look like a fool. Other examples include not meeting project deadlines and giving out the wrong quotes – and expecting me to handle our clients’ negative reactions. This has happened on several occasions in the past month. I’ve begun following up with him to see if he has followed through with projects. The response is something like “I’ll get to it later” and “Just focus on your projects.” His behavior is making me look bad, and it’s hurting our business. I have spoken to coworkers about this, but it’s not really affecting them much, so they don’t see it as a major problem. How can I approach my boss about this without stepping outside my bounds? Or is this something I should let go?

Well, it sounds like you’ve tried and have been rebuffed. Your boss has pretty clearly told you that he want to handle this stuff (or not handle it, more accurately) on his own, and that he doesn’t see it as your role to follow up on this type of thing. Ultimately, that’s his prerogative, even if it hurts his business.

3. I’m not getting the training I was promised when I took this job

The description of the city job I applied for (and was hired for) stated that I must be certified in two areas within one year. These are certifications that the city pays for. However, after starting the job and having now been with them for 6 months I see that not one single person in my department has been to ANY training nor do they posses any of the certifications (no wonder things are a mess) and it doesnt look good for the future.

One of the reasons I accepted this position was to have access to this training. I want to become further educated, I want to have the knowledge and skills to do my job at a higher level. If I could afford to pay for the training and time off of work I would. (By the way, these are short and fairly inexpensive schools.)

When I have mentioned this to my manager and director I was told “down the road, in the future, one of these days we will get ‘everyone’ certified,” etc. How do I approach this topic with my boss? I am thinking of writing a formal letter requesting training. I know this will see like a bit of a jab to her but I am really serious.

Unless you’re in a remarkably formal environment, writing a formal letter about this would be weird. Instead, just address it face-to-face: “One of things that drew me to this job was the ability to do these trainings. I’m getting the sense that it’s not something that will definitely be happening in the foreseeable future. Is there any way around that? I’d really like to do these courses.”

4. Should I mention that I spent a few hours with the hiring contact a few years ago?

A job I want at a small college library has come up, and I realized I recognize the name of the person the application documents are to be addressed to. She’s someone I shadowed for an assignment while I was in grad school (our interactions come down to an email and chatting for three hours during her evening shift three years ago). I don’t know if she’d remember me, and I’m not sure if it’s helpful or relevant to include in a cover letter that we met previously. If I make it to the interview level, would mentioning it help me be memorable or would it be out of left field? The fact that I gained the degree doesn’t push me above any other applicants, since it’s one of the base requirements, but the fact that I shadowed her before might make it obvious that I’ve always been interested in working in an academic library in a small college. If you were me, would you mention it in the cover letter, during an interview, or not at all?

There’s no harm in mentioning it. I wouldn’t do it in your application, since the extent of your acquaintance isn’t significant enough to warrant space in your cover letter, but after you apply, send her an email letting her know that you did, reminding her who you are, and telling her how much you appreciated her help a few years ago.

5. Job searching when I’m going to need time off for a honeymoon and surgery

I’m about halfway through a 6-month contract at a major university, which will end on September 10. It’s a maternity leave replacement, and I have every reason to expect that the woman I’m replacing will return at the end of her mat leave. I’ve already asked my boss if it would be okay for me to go to a few interviews in the last 3-4 weeks of the contract, and she’s agreed so long as I give her advance notice, so normally everything would be fine.

Here’s the rub: I’m getting married on October 26, taking a honeymoon until November 5, and at some as-yet-unscheduled time in November I will probably be having minor surgery that will require me to take about 4 days off work for the initial recovery. Obviously this is quite a lot of time to take off at a very new job — about 12 working days in a short period of time, when I’d only have started a month or two before.

I’m trying to figure out if there’s any way to negotiate so much time off at a new job during the hiring process, or whether it would just be better to wait until November and start job hunting after all the craziness dies down. I’d rather not set myself up for two months (at least!) of unemployment, but I’m not sure if it would come off as naive to tell a potential new boss, “By the way, I need 2-3 weeks of unpaid time off in my first few months.”

It’s true that 2-3 weeks of time off in your first few months is a lot, but you have pretty understandable circumstances: getting married and having surgery. I’d go ahead and job search now. If you get an offer, explain this situation and try to negotiate the time as part of the offer. Worst case scenario is that they don’t agree and you’re stuck job-searching when you get back — but that’s the other option here anyway, so you have nothing to lose.

{ 448 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia

    The nick name ‘Lindog’ is not a friendly josh — he is calling this woman a dog and the giggling co-worker knows it. This is made worse by the fact that this is a young man calling a much older woman this. I can’t imagine a positive interpretation of this nickname. I think she should have stood up for herself and it is too bad that the young jerk’s boss is giving her the silent treatment as well as Mr. Inappropriate. No one should have to put up with ‘Lin-dog’ at work.

    1. JamieG

      Not necessarily. In some areas/groups, adding the word “dog” to the end of a name is a common convention. That’s not to say that he’s not being super disrespectful by refusing to give it up, but the name itself isn’t inherently malicious.

      1. GrumpyBoss

        You beat me to it with that link! However, I think a good rule of thumb is if you need to use Urban Dictionary to explain a nickname, it probably isn’t appropriate for the office!

        1. Calla

          I don’t think UD is necessary to explain it unless you’re above a certain age or completely out of touch with pop culture. :) but of course it’s still rude for him to keep referring to her as that–to her face or not.

          I had silly nicknames in my last workplace (the equivalent of C-Dawg, C-Pop) but if I had asked for it to stop I would have expected my coworkers to respect me enough to do so.

        1. Artemesia

          That was just me being ‘out of it’ I guess — but I’m thinking the OP was not feeling the cool here.

        2. Phyllis

          I asked my 28 year old son his thoughts on this, and his first reaction was to laugh at the nickname “Lindog” or in his lingo, “Lindawg.” He WAS NOT laughing at you, Linda, just that it does sound funny. His next comment was, that even though he and his friends call each other “dawg” all the time, he would never address an older female co-worker (or any female for that matter) in this manner unless they were already at a point in their dealings that he knew a nickname like that would not upset her. And if she asked him not to use it, he would stop immediately and apologize.

          So, even though the original usage may have been in good fun, the moment you requested he stop, he should have done so.

          As I said, he and his friends use “Dawg” all the time, and one of his friends came to the house one time and addressed me as “Mamadawg”. This earned a hairy eyeball from me, and a cuff on the head from my son, who said, “DUDE!!! Do you realize what you just called my mom?” The poor young man was mortified, and told me over and over he meant no disrespect and how sorry he was….I couldn’t help but laugh and assure him there were no hard feelings…but don’t do it again!! :-)

          Hope the frosty feelings thaw out. Just don’t mention it again and hopefully they will.

      2. Tigress

        I’m sorry, Alison. I absolutely love you blog, and I read it every single day, but the response to #1 really surprised and disappointed me. You’ve always been such a great proponent of that people shouldn’t have to be called things they don’t want to be called, and that activities or behavior in the workplace that make fun of people who don’t want to be made fun of should be nipped in the bud. But in the response to this situation you’re basically telling this woman to “take it as a compliment”? I don’t think the OP should just have to sit back and accept this just because in some circumstances, “dog” could be meant as friendly. She has made it very clear to this person that she does not like the nickname and he still continued. That is not okay.

        1. ZoeUK

          Totally agree with Tigress. I’m amazed at the response to this!

          She’s being called ‘dog’, has said she doesn’t like this and it’s suggested she should try not to let it bother her as perhaps it’s a friendly gesture? Mind blown.

          Awful advice, sorry.

        2. Colette

          But … he has already stopped. If he were still calling her by hpthe nickname, she’d have reason to take other actions, but since he has stopped, choosing to believe it was intended as a friendly but misguide gesture is a much better approach than believing it was malicious and letting it color their future interactions.

          1. A

            But he hasn’t really stopped per se…he’s not speaking to her.

            There’s a big difference in “oh, you don’t like it so I’ll stop” and “you hurt my feelings so now I won’t speak to you”

            That being said I don’t think OP should give him a nick name back but if he does start calling her the nickname maybe react by waiting for him to say her name appropriately (if he starts out with the nickname) or just giving him the mom stare.

            1. Colette

              He’s no longer calling her the nickname. Does he need to talk to her for work? If so, she needs to address that, but if not, he doesn’t have to talk with her.

              1. Traveler

                Yep. This is what I was thinking. If it was someone that he didn’t have to talk to – and was just trying to be friendly with, and she wrote him a letter about how much she hates him calling her that name, etc. Then his boss’s advice to him might have been to just keep his distance and not talk to her. He obviously doesn’t understand her boundaries, and it might be self preservation rather than silent treatment for him to not speak to her.

          2. Vicki

            As “A” says: “But he hasn’t really stopped per se…he’s not speaking to her.”

            That’s so very middle school…

        3. Ruffingit

          I agree, except it wasn’t the advice to take it as a compliment that got me, it was the advice to give him a nickname too if she can pull it off. No. That is not what this woman needs to do at all because that would just reinforce that the whole nickname thing is OK with her. It’s not and she made that clear. The advice to give him a nickname too if she can pull it off was odd and out of place because it’s basically like telling her the nickname thing is no problem, just give him one too and all will be well. This woman doesn’t want to be called a nickname so giving this guy one will give him permission to call her one. That does nothing to help her out here at all. I was disappointed with this answer.

          1. Colette

            I agree that’s not a good approach – you can’t object to someone giving you a nickname and give them one at the same time.

          2. Vicki

            Agreed. That advice also seemed to take this out of the professional environment and into the middle school arena.

            We’re grownups. We don’t give our co-workers nicknames.

        4. Ask a Manager Post author

          I totally agree that she shouldn’t have to have a nickname she doesn’t want, and that it’s rude. But I’m looking at the response likely to get her the best outcome here. She’s already asked him to stop and talked to her boss. At some point, pushing it starts to reflect on her. There are other ways of responding to this that are likely to help her, rather than harming her. The principle that you shouldn’t be called by a name you don’t like doesn’t trump every other concern in the situation.

          1. Juli G.

            In reading your response Allison, I kind of interpreted it as “You have three options: quit, sue (not that I think you feel there’s a case), or live with it.”

            And I agree. There’s not many more places to move on this.

          2. Wren

            I think the not talking to her will run its course after a bit, and it’s best just not to call attention to it. No new nicknames, business as usual.

            1. Ruffingit

              I agree with this. She shouldn’t have to capitulate to the “name game” just to have peace in her office because honestly this will likely go away on its own if she just leaves it alone and moves on.

        5. Stef

          Totally agree too! So surprised by Alison’s response. I think this employee is not being nice or friendly at all, but hostile and rude. I don’t care is dawg/dog is cool. She said she doesn’t want to be called the name, yet he still does! I consider it harassment at this point, especially since they are giggling about behind her back. I think she every right to be offended and should not just let it go.

          1. Koko

            Well, sure. But she wrote in asking for advice. Alison often sympathizes with people who are being treated poorly, and I think she clearly did here, but she also has to give them advice. “Your coworker sucks” is great, but it’s not advice, and there’s realistically no “Here’s how to make your coworker apologize and do what you want him to do” advice she could give. There’s a whole range of crappy things our coworkers can do to us that ultimately we can’t control, so we have to focus on what IS within our control, one of which is how we choose to view the situation. If you’re not ready to quit and you can’t change the crappy coworker, trying to see it as a misguided attempt at friendship is one practical approach to not letting the crappy coworker make you unhappy at work.

      3. Kathy-office

        I’m sorry, but this response…. This nickname is offensive, and the link you’ve provided doesn’t explain why it isn’t. I’ve had similar “nicknames” in workspaces as well, and they didn’t make me feel welcome, and they were offensive to me (and usually used to single me out for my race, gender, age, or anything else in ways that were always explained as being just “for fun”). The LW may have different reasons for feeling this is inappropriate than I did in my case, and I can see why it’s embarrassing to them. In this case, it doesn’t mater what the intent of the co-worker is, or the definition, calling anyone “dog” like that is offensive and unprofessional (especially when they say, “no stop doing that”), and if it is actually being used in this case to mean: “Slang for “my close acquaintance of an African-American ethnic background””, then it’s even more offensive (though we don’t know the race of the LW). There’s more to calling someone “dog”/”dawg” than I feel like getting into in one post, but point being: it’s uncalled for, it’s unprofessional, and the LW should be glad this guy now doesn’t speak to her, she’ll be better off for it.

        1. fposte

          I think that’s definitely possible, but I think Alison’s possibility exists as well. Around here, “dawg” is a term lily-white young guys greet each other with, and if one of them expanded it to me (demographically on a par with the OP), I’d assume it was meant in the same way.

          That being said, I suspect I’d want an actual nickname involving it to stop anyway, and the guy should have reined it in ASAP when asked.

          1. Cat

            I’m normally for assuming the non-malicious explanation on this kind of thing, but the fact that he didn’t knock it off when asked makes me think it’s more likely that he’s doing the middle school thing of (1) insulting someone; and (2) pretending it’s not an insult when called on it since it could be affectionate in another context.

            1. Cat

              (And I just put my comment in a random place where I thought of it – not trying to disagree with you; sorry).

              1. fposte

                ‘Sokay, I had the same thought. I had young relatives who were masters of that–it’s a way of minimizing your chances of getting reported. It also may have come out without malice the first time and then turned into a more slyly amusing thing for him (hence the not stopping).

                I really like Laura’s point downthread that this is a risky term to use even in a friendly sense in a workplace for this reason. There’s just too much likelihood that it’s not intended pleasantly.

            2. Artemesia

              This. Since this is a late middle age woman and the guy is young, the idea that he is calling her a ‘dog’ to be affectionate and welcoming seems unlikely. And the giggling co-worker reinforces the few that it is ridicule rather than acceptance.

              1. Julie

                I guess the “middle” can’t be known until one dies, but generally speaking, 54 is not “late middle age.”

            3. Buffet the Vampire Layer

              Exactly. This is not a “silly” nickname, it’s a mean one. That can be inferred not only by the name itself, but also by the fact that he refused to knock it off and laughed at her with someone else while she was still close enough to hear them.

              He knows what he’s doing and it’s not nice.

          2. Simonthegrey

            Because I did grow up hearing white wannabes calling each other dawg, me and a few of my friends will still use it humorously. We ONLY do it amongst ourselves, though. Usually it’s done as “Sup, dawg” or “yo dawg”. I would never call someone who I was not friends with and was not positive they would appreciate it “dawg.”

        2. TL

          Uh, I would say dog/dawg is used as a silly term for most groups I’ve been in (of a similar age to the Offensive Nicknamer) – my bestie’ll call me dawg or homeskillet or homefries with equal impunity and none of them mean anything offensive.

          Now, if someone asks you to stop, you should, but I’d guess he’s sulking more because he was asked to stop and he didn’t see anything wrong with it (unacceptable behavior) rather than he was trying to insult her by calling her a dog. At least in my experience with my generation, calling someone a dog as an insult has fallen way out of style – in fact, if someone did call me a dog as a way of saying “ugly female” or whatever, I would probably about 99% confused and about 1% insulted, so there’s that.

          1. Artemesia

            Does he call all older women in the workplace ‘dog’? does he call everyone else a nickname ending in dog? If so maybe you are right. But the idea that this is kindly meant if she is the only one is close to zero.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yes, exactly. I didn’t read this as him calling her “a dog.” Artemesia, I think you’re reading it that way but that’s generational. Dog/dawg is used in a friendly way now. It’s pretty common slang. Some people greet friends that way.

            1. HR “Gumption”

              Not even so generational now. My 47 year old self gets shouted “MillDawg” every time I walk past a 50 year old sales guy.
              I respond with “Woof!”

          3. Jen

            Yes, Dawg is usually a silly term – the real thing that makes it annoying is that he didn’t stop when he was told to. The name isn’t even the biggest issue with this – he is for sure doing that thing where he’s pretending it is all good-natured fun but is enjoying the rise he’s getting out of you. It’s not the “dawg” that’s problematic – it’s the fact that the dog won’t die.

            A guy at work sent a group text to co-workers once at an event and it autocorrected his name (Jon D) to J Dog and that’s his nickname now. No one has ever meant that he’s a dog. Although if he ever sincerely told us to stop calling him that, I would imagine most of us would do that without any problems.

          4. Mints

            I agree with this.
            I think it’s possible he was needling her in a way he thought of as joshing, and he saw her being annoyed, but didn’t realize it was so serious until later.

            I think I’m reading this sympathetically to the nick namer because dawg is so so common and innocuous to me (even though he acted wrongly)

          5. Anon

            I agree. My friends call me A-dawg or Al-dawg. I think it’s time to let it go since it’s stopped.

    2. EngineerGirl

      I took it as a slam too. In my part of the woods calling a woman a dog is saying “you are plug-ugly”. It is a derogatory term reserved for women so it is a form of sex based harassment. It looks like the OP’s boss acted correctly in contacting the c0-workers boss. Now that boss and the coworker are retaliating.
      OP, I would ignore it for now. If your co-worker refusing to speak to you harms your work then you’ll need to talk to your boss again. He’s acting like the juvenile he is.

      1. Brittany

        I didn’t see it like at all! In fact, the first thing I thought of was Andy from The Office calling himself the Narddog. I highly doubt that nickname was meant to be offensive.

        1. Callie

          I totally pictured the guy looking like Andy too! But, it was still jerky, and you can not mean to be offensive but still be offensive. I think he was being mean about it, what with the sneaky giggly way he did it under his breath.

        2. Ezri

          As much as I like The Office, Andy does a lot of things that are inappropriate in a business setting. The issue here doesn’t seem to be whether or not the nickname is innately offensive, but that it is very informal slang being used towards someone who clearly does not welcome it. I’m 22 and this would still really bother me, because I’d see it as a third party undermining my professionalism.

      2. AnotherAlison

        Whether it’s dog or dawg, I agree this is inappropriate.

        An overly friendly nickname from a male to a female can be used as a way to diminish the woman. There are all kinds of articles written on this topic.

        I feel like I know the nicknamer, as it reminds me very much of a guy I work with. I get it, and I think he probably thinks he’s being friendly, but to me, it’s one of those culturally ingrained behaviors that we’re told is no big deal when actually is a big deal if what a woman is called is being chosen for her by a man.

        1. smilingswan

          I agree with this. I’ve been given nicknames by men/boys in the past who I know didn’t like me. It feels like it’s a way for them to exercise their male power and privilege over me, that they can call me whatever they want without fear of consequences.

            1. smilingswan

              Actually, a male acting like he has the right to do/say whatever he wants regarding women without fear of consequence is exactly what male privilege is.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                This isn’t the place to argue about what male privilege is or isn’t (although I agree that there’s no indication that this is a privilege situation; not every instance of bad behavior by a man is rooted in privilege).

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        In my part of the woods calling a woman a dog is saying “you are plug-ugly”. It is a derogatory term reserved for women so it is a form of sex based harassment.

        But it has a wildly different meaning as well. (See above.) I do think this might be generational, and given that the guy is in his 20, it’s far more likely that he’s using the more recent usage.

        1. Ruthan

          “Gay” also has two wildly different meanings, but I wouldn’t expect anyone in my workplace to turn a blind eye if I referred to the Friday social as “so gay”.

      4. misspiggy

        Absolutely. Here in the UK calling a woman a dog would be seen as blatant sexual harrassment – much like calling her the C-word would be seen in the US. If this happened to me I would be utterly horrified.

        1. Angel Ever

          Just to this specific comment (misspiggy,) I think it’s still generational. If anyone in an English speaking country is under, say, 50 or 45, unless they exile themself from all popular cultural references (i.e., never overhear pop music, never watch the telly, never see a movie) I cannot fathom they wouldn’t know that “dog” or “dawg” in that context means friend, and I’ know from London, Cape Town, Sydney, Auckland, etc. My 90 year old grandmum knows that from just watching late night talk shows.

          I of course do not at all disagree or mean to diminish your feelings if a person was intending to harass. And above all absolutely agree that once asked to stop, one should stop calling another by any name that is not invited or appreciated.

      1. fposte

        We don’t know for sure that they are, but we also don’t know for sure that they’re not, and they certainly can affect the way people interact. I believe in a previous post you indicated you hadn’t found that to be true yourself, but I don’t think that’s universal, and I think it’s reasonable for OPs to include that information if they feel like it could be affecting a work situation.

      2. Mike C.

        You’ve made the same complaint in the past, are there times you recognize that gender might have a role to play in our workplace interactions?

      3. Artemesia

        How is age and gender NOT relevant? We have no indication this is his general way with everyone. Young men rather frequently do things to ridicule or diminish old women. And men rather frequently do things to diminish women. Nicknaming itself is a form of dominance behavior especially when the nickname is not welcome. Naming other people and then insisting when they object is a way of telling them who is in charge.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          But that’s only one possibility here. The other is that it wasn’t intended at all but then he was embarrassed/annoyed/thought she was overreacting when she asked him to stop. Which is silly and unprofessional and rude of him, but not at all the same thing as intending targeting her based on sex or age.

          1. Angora

            I agree with AAM. I think the OP should look at the guy as young, inexperienced and stupid. Let him pout and not talk to her for a couple of days.

            If the pouting continues, and the OP needs to interact with him in order to perform their duties, than talk to his manager again.

            Hope he’s not one of those that pushes the envelope, gets slapped down, than spills his sour mood all over the office to punish everyone else, because he’s suffering.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Dawg-ing somebody’s name is affectionate or complimentary. One way that it might have been meant negatively here is if it was being used ironically, but absent underlying ill intent, it’s a compliment to be dawg-ed.

      “Is he a friend of yours?”
      “No, he’s not just my friend, he’s my dawg.”

      That said, given the age gap especially, it’s probably too familiar. The best thing to do at the time was to call him John-dawg back, show a good sense of humor and hope it dies down (or maybe just enjoy the playfulness of it).

      If the guy generally is decent and not a jerk, it probably wouldn’t hurt to say “hey, sorry I made a thing. I know you were just being friendly. I’m not comfortable with nicknames. Can we be okay without them (and here’s the cup of coffee I brought you)?”

      1. Sawrs

        Given how the OP has described the employee’s reaction — coupled with the fact that he wasn’t too friendly or ingratiating to begin with, mocking her reaction and then whispering — I don’t see the reason for great lashings of sycophancy and chumminess, nor is it a given that the problem is her terminal lack of humor or inability to be “playful” at work.

        She hasn’t done anything, in my estimation, that necessitates her to wait on him. He created a problem that she may not have handled perfectly. If she feels like approaching him in a manner of two equals burying a hatchet between them, that’d be fine (it might, in fact, be best for her), but begging his forgiveness seems inappropriate, asking nicely (rather than requiring) that he call her exactly what she wants infantilizing (for him). He’s a grown-up; at some point in his professional life he’s going to have to realize antagonizing co-workers is a bad thing, and behaving badly thereafter even worse.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          There’s nothing wrong with the OP sticking to her POV, but I don’t think it gets her anywhere.

          Couple things:

          1) I didn’t read that the nicknaming guy was doing anything other than dawging her name and then getting butt hurt when she wrote an email about it. The snickering was some other employee, as I read it.

          2) I’m assuming that the culture of the safety office is similar to warehouse or factory culture since a safety office is usually attached to one or the other. I’m a 53 year old woman in a suit jacket but when I walk into our warehouse facility, the first thing I do is yell “Yo! Sup?” to announce I’m there and somebody usually yells back, “[first name] is in the house! Sup?”

          Nobody has ever dawg’d me but I’d crack up with delight if they did.

          SO, my face value read is that this guy wasn’t acting in a way that can be assumed ill intent but quite obviously, I don’t know the players or the context. I like to assume good intent unless shown otherwise.

          1. Sawrs

            This elision of “dog” (what the OP actually wrote) to a kindlier “dawg” belowthread by commenters is, to put it mildly, a bit spooky and bordering on gas lighting-like behavior; she obviously didn’t “hear” correctly, or parse the right meaning, or something. That you’re convinced our first-hand witness is mistaken, humorless, blowing something out of proportion is fine, really. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. But I see no solid evidence for that interpretation. It’s a fine bit of guesswork. I’d like to hear what the OP has to say in response.

            Doing some guesswork of my own, I’d wager the OP doesn’t announce her own entrance to work with “Yo! Sup?!” So, it’s a bit unfair to damn her by comparison. I don’t think anyone, yet, has suggested that she’s making unreasonable or hypocritical demands of this co-worker. She hasn’t written him off as a ne’er-do-well young’un. She’s asked him to call her by her first name and she’s complained about stage whispering (not snickering). That’s pretty casual fare, in my book.

            I’m all for assuming the good intent of letter-writers, as Alison has asked us, emphatically and repeatedly now, to do.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Except for the part I didn’t say any of that, and it’s a neat trick to gas light what I did say by saying I’m gas lighting.

              What I did say is that the OP has the right to stick to her guns. That doesn’t solve her problem, other than if her co-workers aren’t talking to her, she doesn’t have to worry about being their dawg.

              1. Sawrs

                As I say, she didn’t write “dawg,” and nothing about the co-worker’s response suggests that the suffix “-dog” was offered in a spirit of friendliness or good will.

                My other neat trick is in reading what the OP wrote and assuming that her POV is mostly valid, her intent good, because she’s writing in to ask for assistance while admitting that she might have made an error.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I assumed she didn’t write “dawg” because she’s not familiar with the term (or its weird spelling), like several others here. To me, they sound exactly the same when pronounced.

                  The OP’s point of view can be perfectly valid while still misunderstanding where the guy was coming from.

              2. Sawrs

                Also, I really don’t understand where I went wrong in interpreting your comments. You wrote that she probably lacked a sense of humor (you suggested she show one), that the nickname was meant to be “complimentary” (an interpretation rather than a fact, one not borne out by the OP’s own testimony), and that she owed him, for his troubles (in repeatedly asking him to stop with the nicknames), a cup of coffee.

              3. Sawrs

                Then again, you’re exactly right that she has to address this, that it’s probably easier to talk to him face-to-face, and that it would best to explain what she felt and why she felt it, as neutrally as possible.

                Teasing isn’t the end of the world, and the prevailing culture at their workplace, or least the small chunk of it he’s witnessed so far as a new employee, may have given him the impression that a bit of ribbing is acceptable or (more likely) a form of homosocial bonding (hence the third co-worker).

                But nobody like’s to be the butt-end of all the jokes, especially when they’re performed by a peer and completely out in the open. She seemed to stand up for herself the best way she knows how, and so far hasn’t been given enough support and may not be.

                Placating a potential enemy (who may increase the teasing because he feels he’s been targeted in return) is probably one of the better options. I just don’t like the notion that it has to be done like a servant or with a coffee in tow. They’re colleagues. She shouldn’t need to kiss up to make up.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                  This is really all I’m saying. I didn’t mean anything larger about the OP, either the post or the person.

                  If he meant “dawg” and she heard “dog”, his feelings might be legitimately hurt from his own POV. Or not.

                  Maybe he’s an ass or just somebody young and new to the workforce who doesn’t know how to manage a conflict and maybe she can bridge the gap.

                2. Sawrs

                  No, you’re quite right. He may have been embarrassed by her reaction — completely legitimate reaction, I should add — and is now afraid to back down for fear of losing face. It’s not entirely her responsibility to end this gracefully, but if management won’t render aid, it’s in her best interests to do so gently and fully. Explaining herself will feel good, and it may spur him to do the same. These tiny little misunderstandings have a horrible way of growing larger, more serious, and more irreparable as time passes and allows both parties to get stubborner. His inability to listen, to be empathetic, hasn’t helped.

                  As you say, this is a good opportunity for them both.

                  Apologies for being snippy above.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                  I meant to say the nicknamer was butt hurt because he’s the one who stopped talking to the OP. If that’s wasn’t clear, clarification here.

                  His response was immature.

            2. Calla

              That is nowhere near gaslighting. It’s possible he actual meant “dog” and it’s also possible he meant “dawg” and OP just isn’t used to that. Speculating as to both possibilities, especially when everyone is still saying yes it’s still rude if he refuses to stop calling her that, is hardly border-lining on abusive tactics.

              1. Anon

                I agree, as someone who has experienced this tactic, it would be helpful for people to consider what they are really talking about when they mention gas lighting.

          2. Anonymous

            I’m actually surprised at how many people are reading the dawg-ing as an intentional slam. Heck, I’ve dawg-ed coworkers and believe me I’m closer in age to the OP than the coworker. And coworkers have dawg-ed me back. It is obviously a little too familiar if the OP is put off by it, but nothing about the description of events makes it feel to me like the coworker was intentionally trying to make her feel uncomfortable. I also read the “they” as singular and assumed the second coworker was laughing bc clearly Linda is not naturally a “Lin-dawg”, so I perceived the laughter as being about the absurdity of the nickname, not at Linda herself. My recommendation in the future is to not rely on emails for these types of delicate conversations. You want to get a full read of the coworker’s responses so that you can adjust your full reply accordingly (coworker appropriately contrite, you can shift to a “no big deal, just my preference”, coworker sneering or disrespectful, take a stronger tone).

            1. Laura

              If someone -dawged me prior to this thread, I would not have realized it was a separate word, and would have assumed I was being called a dog (aka, plug-ugly, or a bitch, or both).

              I would be *furious*.

              This is a usage that probably does not span cultures (including generational cultures) reliably, and should be used with an epic ton of care that the listener “gets” it. (Written, I would immediately have known to go look it up, because of the spelling. Aloud? Nope.)

              1. fposte

                Excellent point. It really isn’t pronounced differently around here, so you’d be counting on a listener to correctly choose between a traditional sexist insult and a greeting that’s not usually used in the workplace. That’s a heck of a coin to flip.

                1. Koko

                  I’m familiar with both usages, so maybe that’s biasing me, but I can’t think of any time I’ve ever heard dog in the ugly sense used as an append to someone’s name, it’s always “a dog,” not a portmanteau with someone’s name. The grammatical context alone would have made it so clear to me I’d have never thought it’d be misread. Similar to if I said, “I need to book a flight,” it’d be clear to me from the grammatical structure of the sentence that they meant “reserve” rather than talking about reading material.

              2. TL

                On the flip side, it would never occur to me that it was meant as an insult and I would be completely confused if they acted like I should be offended.

                Definitely a word to use with care.

                1. Laura

                  You can google “plug ugly” and to my interest, apparently it was once also a term for a thug, but the usage I know means basically “ugly as/face like a fire plug” (or fire hydrant).

                2. Laura

                  I re-read my words and it reads like “Go google it!” to me, which is not what I meant, and I apologize. I actually did that just to avoid linking to a particular site, which tends to get your comment moderated. :)

                  dictionary dot reference dot com is the one I would have linked to.

                3. SaraD, in Scotland

                  Plug ugly is pretty common in the UK. I think it came from a popular comic character called ‘plug’, but I’m not sure!

              3. Not So NewReader

                Ditto, from me, Laura. As I read along I concluded I am old and never watch tv.

                I dunno, I was always told to stay away from slang terms with people until you know them. And really stay away from slang terms in the workplace.
                This right here is a case in point.

                As an additional talking point, I see plenty of times where a poster comments and then explains their use of a word or expression used in their comment. I tend to think that is just the right thing to do- if something looks really ambiguous then explain. It’s a show of respect to those who read it. Just my opinion, though.

      2. Daisy

        Originally, I read it as just a nickname that the OP misinterpreted as an insult. I re-read her letter and it sounds like John and the other coworker were both snickering about it. I had read the ‘they’ as a singular ‘they’ and not 2 people.

        1. Not So NewReader

          That’s what I got out of it, too. Watching two people snicker and giggle is a stone’s throw from being back on the school yard and dealing with the class bully.

          So I understand that the emotions can race to the foreground faster than we want those emotions to move. May or may not be applicable to our OP. Sometimes people just do not do nicknames at all. But no one wants to have their expressed wishes tossed away with total disregard.

      3. Elizabeth West

        The issue is not whether dawg is meant affectionately or not, and I think these comments arguing that are derailing it. And I think the coworker was laughing at the nickname because it’s silly, not laughing at Linda herself. But she doesn’t like the nickname, asked him to stop, and he is now acting like a butthurt child.

        I think talking to him about it is a good idea. Once. But NOOOO she shouldn’t bring him a cup of coffee, jeez no no no.

        1. misspiggy

          Agreed. And she could tell him that this is a term many women associate with extreme offence, whether or not it was intended that way.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Good idea, really. In a calmer moment she could explain to him that dog used to be a comment about a woman’s looks. But that maybe sometime from now, if ever.

            I have had people use words in front of me that just did not fit with everything else. (Okay the words were upsetting.) Once in a while, I would ask, how are you using that word, what do you mean? I am amazed by the number of times people will say they don’t know. And judging from the looks on their faces, they truly do not know.

            1. smilingswan

              For example the word: Butt Hurt, which according to urban dictionary means: To become offended or upset (such as you would after taking it in the a%@ in prison) after a smart-a%@ed comment is made.
              I find that word and the derivation of it to be offensive and homophobic. But maybe that’s just me.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                There are lots of sites all over the internet that don’t list that etymology of the word (like here or here). Urban Dictionary is known for particularly graphic/sexual definitions of things, even when they’re not listed that way elsewhere. I wouldn’t read that much into it.

        2. KrisL

          “But she doesn’t like the nickname, asked him to stop, and he is now acting like a butthurt child.”

          Perfect. That’s what I thought.

      4. aebhel

        Wow, no.

        He does something offensive, refuses to stop when asked, and then sulks about it…and your solution is that she should apologize and bring him coffee?

        I sincerely hope this is a joke.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Sometimes the best way to create good relations is to be the bigger person, to apologize when you’re not at fault, to show the other that professionals can get past issues between them so they can work together.

          1. Not So NewReader

            She can do that without coffee and apologizing, though.

            In a calmer moment she could say “I like working with you, it’s just a matter of I prefer that everyone uses my full name.”
            [Format: Say a positive that is true, then state what she wants.]

            I think OP actually likes this coworker over all and that is what pushed her to write to AAM. She’d like her own name back and she’d like to have some type of a working relationship with her coworker.

    4. KayDay

      I really don’t think the addition of dog was to her name was meant maliciously. I’ve heard people (always men to their good buddies, in my experience), even people who have never, ever used the word “dawg” on it’s own attach dog to a name of a friend in an affectionate way. Many times. “Bro-dog; Timmo-dog (because one nickname isn’t enough); “Tone-dog” (real name: anthony); … Therefore, I really, really do not think it is meant to be taken as calling her a dog.

      However, I also was surprised by Alison’s response, because I think the nickname is both way too familiar for a coworker, and because she doesn’t like it, and asking not to be called a name you don’t like at work is a pretty simple request. And the boss and the coworkers actions were super immature.

      1. Ellie H

        This happened to me! One of my male friends -dawg’ed me in college and it kind of stuck. I did not like it at all, not because I thought I was being called a dog but because it was kind of too bro-y for my taste and the last straw was when the guy I had a huge crush on called me Ell-dawg. I good-naturedly protested sometimes but that was about it. Not everyone loves nicknames and I really don’t for whatever reason but I could still tell it was meant in a friendly way. I think both positions are legitimate – friendly intentions, not liking to be nicknamed.

      2. Liz in a Library

        Yes, I also didn’t think it was malicious. Heck, even my septuagenarian father calls his friends “dawg.”

        Doesn’t make it workplace appropriate, or really appropriate anywhere once the nicknamee has asked for it to stop, but the name doesn’t necessarily mean something bad.

      3. MaggietheCat

        +1 WAY too familiar for a NEW co-worker at that. I can’t imagine starting a new job and antagonizing someone this way right out of the gate. I feel bad for this woman.

      4. some1

        Every guy I know named Nate over 30 has had people affectionately call him Nate Dog after the rapper.

    5. Snapple

      This reminds me of Andy from the Office calling Jim “Nard Dog”. Maybe he’s playing off of that in which case it is intended to be friendly.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Dammit, I got that wrong too further down.

          Snapple and I will be writing our own comedy for NBC this fall, the Office Revisited.

      1. Lamb

        “The Office” is what I thought of too. Heaven help this coworker if he thinks that show is about how people are *supposed* to act at work!
        While he may have started out trying to be friendly, once she told him to knock it off he should have done his best to stick with OP’s name. “Friendly” stops being friendly when you ignor the person’s requests to stop.

        1. anaon123

          ahhah. I find this funny. I actually called a coach I had named Linda…Lindawg.

          It wasn’t a diss…it is fairly common for people to add “dawg” or “dog” onto someone’s name to make a nickname. You can add it to anything… Boss-dawg, Mike-dawg, Jendawg.

          If she doesn’t like it fine, he should stop, but it isn’t an “unusual” nickname…

          1. Mints

            I just remembered this:
            My name is short, and doesn’t really have a nickname (like Sarah). And I went to a book club with another “Mints” and we looked at each other like, okay should we do last names, or…? And she said well I was “M-dawg” in highschool sports and I said I was “M-baby” in sports.
            So we basically came up with the most ridiculous nicknames to have a sort of serious conversation about literature
            (Again, this nickname is so innocuous to me)

    6. Jess

      I can see definitely see how the -dog or -dawg suffix could be meant in a friendly way in some circumstances. But with this particular situation, I would go so far as to say it’s getting into bullying territory, and I’m not one to use that term lightly.

    7. JC

      I’ve been in situations in the past where a younger coworker calls an older person some kind of young-person slang name, like “Lin-Dawg,” as a way of making fun of the person as being old and not with it. The “Lin-Dawg” becomes funny to him because he is applying it to someone who is obviously not the kind of person who would use a name like that. That is how I read this situation.

      1. Whippers

        Yeah, that’s kinda how I read it too. Not as an overtly offensive “dog” but as an I’m-so-ironic-calling-this-to-someone-in-their-50s “dawg”.

      2. Befuddled Dawg

        Yeah, that’s what I’m guessing too, although it’s impossible to say without hearing the tone it was said in.

    8. KrisL

      I also thought that Lindog was an insult. Even if it wasn’t, who keeps calling someone by a nickname after the person asks them not to?

    9. Karen

      Completely agreed – assigning a relative stranger/work colleague with a nickname is very rude. Even if he DID mean it in a fun or friendly way, it’s obnoxious, and the fact that he didn’t stop once she told him to stop makes it completely inexcusable.

    10. Wren

      My nephew and his friends called my mom G-Dawg. It was totally an affectionate joke, giving her a “street” nickname. Nothing even remotely insulting.

    11. Chris

      Sheesh. It’s amazing how times have changed: As someone “older”, I grew up to respect those older than me. I would never even jokingly call someone a nickname; regardless if others are using it… unless that person asked me to and approved of it. Even then, I might still be reluctant to. Lindog is not a friendly nickname but offensive to me.

      And it appears “Lindog” was started by someone else in the office that Linda herself didn’t approve of and someone else decided to keep perpetuating it. Disgraceful. That in itself creates a hostile environment, sorry. Some might think it is being “overly sensitive” but being called a nickname one doesn’t approve of or even asked for, is harassment in my view. Especially if the boss doesn’t take any measures to stop it or take your feelings into consideration. Not the kind of place I’d like to work in!

  2. JamieG

    I read number one a little differently. I thought OP meant that the coworker who overheard the nickname was snickering, not the coworker who said it. (Not that it makes much of a difference, really, since either way he doesn’t seem likely to give up the nickname.)

    1. Artemesia

      Refusing to stop calling someone something that offends them is something a boss should nip in the bud. Are this many offices functioning like nursery school?

      1. Nina

        What bothers me about the boss ignoring it is that it could set a bad precedent for others. If they know that they can get away with nicknames (regardless of whether the person in question is comfortable with said name) then others may start calling her Lindog as well.

        1. Xay

          OP’s boss didn’t ignore it. The OP said her boss agreed it was disrespectful – the coworker and the coworker’s boss are the ones giving the OP the silent treatment.

      2. Apollo Warbucks

        The office I work in has a long way to go before reaching the level of maturity seen in nursery school.

      3. Joey

        True, but taking offense to what the boss doesn’t find offensive and pushing the issue isn’t going to do your reputation any favors.

    2. FiveNine

      That’s how I read it too, which underscored that this never was meant as an affectionate term but basically, yes, a way of harassing a woman 33 years older.

  3. Mike

    Kinda long the lines of #1: At my new job the big boss for the engineers and a few others have been calling me Mike which is throwing me for a loop. I’m the only Mike so it isn’t to differentiate. Verbally they do it in the announcer voice since there is a basketball player with the same name.

    I’m not offended but is is just weird.

    1. benh57

      Why is the boss calling you Mike when your name is Mike throwing you for a loop? Your post does not parse.

    2. Befuddled Squirrel

      I’m guessing there’s a word missing from this post? Are they calling you Mike [last name]? That would be weird, but I think the rule of thumb is to smile and do the same thing back to them.

      “Yo, Mike Smith!”

      “Hey, what’s up, Ezekiel Yamamoto?”

        1. Bran

          It’s because there are so many Mikes in the world, even if you don’t work any of them right now. Right now at my job there is only one Mike on my team, but there are four in the whole department that I know of. When you have been at your job for long enough to become the default Mike, no last name will be required.

        2. Daisy

          Is Mike YourSurname, a famous name? It’s the announcer voice that made me wonder. My common last name was in a movie so sometimes I would be called ‘Mrs. Smith’.

        3. Befuddled Dawg

          Sometimes people get called by their full name just because their first and last names flow well together. I’ll admit that I do that . . . a lot. But I mean it affectionately.

    3. BadPlanning

      The Mike in our office sometimes now gets called “MikeMikeMike” from the Geico commercial for “movie day” — it’s playing at one of the local movie theatres. See YouTube for GEICO – Hump Day Camel: Movie Day

      1. Mike

        Fortunately no one has caught onto that one. That’d make me cringe more than Mikey (dang you life cereal!) which has slowly become just a minor annoyance.

    4. chewbecca

      Does your name flow well? I’ve known a few people whose names just flowed so well it was fun to say the whole thing. Our current CEO is that way, and coincidentally his first name is Mike.

      1. TychaBrahe

        My niece Priscilla was briefly called Priska and Priskabibble. She disliked it. We stopped. I’m still sorry that she didn’t like Priskabibble, at least now-and-then, affectionately.

      2. Koko

        I know a lot of men with common one-syllable first names who get the full name treatment. Scotts, Mikes, and Johns usually.

  4. GrumpyBoss

    I think that #2 sounds like a situation you may want to exit from fairly soon. If he was just a boss, I think that would be one thing. But since he owns the business and doesn’t seem to be concerned with issues such as failing to meet customer expectations or accurate quotes, the writing is on the wall about the long term viability of the business.

      1. Legal opinion

        Then once you leave and find another job, talk to a lawyer on why had to leave. But ensure you have detailed written accounts and even audio recordings to prove what happened.

        1. Monodon monoceros

          I’m not understanding the legal angle here. Just sounds like bad management to me, not anything illegal.

        2. DebbieDebbieDebbie

          I am curious about the purpose of consulting an attorney. What is actionable about a business owner not following up on his own assignments? Not sure this situation requires “wearing a wire” to obtain an audio recording.

        3. rando

          There would be no reason for audio recordimgs. Assuming this is a question from an American, the default rule is that OP can leave for any or no reason. OP can apply to other jobs, give notice to stay professional, and move on. No lawyer necessary.

          1. fposte

            And the audio recordings could quite likely be *illegal* unless you tell your boss you’re recording.

            1. r

              +1. Do not record unless you check the law in your state (and even then I don’t understand the purpose…?)

    1. Traveler

      Even if he was just a boss it’s still problematic and I have definitely been there. Then my boss began using me as the fall guy for things – forcing me to apologize on his behalf instead of just doing the right thing and calling himself, giving lies for excuses and then changing the story a week later and making me look like a liar (since I was the one relaying it), and more like this. This is particularly painful when you’re working with clients because their bad opinion of you can last, and when you go to a different job – can follow you there. So definitely get out ASAP. This is not just an “oh well, that’s the boss’s problem” when it can affect your career.

      1. AVP

        Ugh, I’ve so been there! Luckily it was blatantly obvious to everyone in the situation where the blockage was, even if he was trying to make it look like I wasn’t doing my job. Clients can tell, usually. (And then they stop hiring you.)

      2. Lisa

        Being forced to give excuses is horrible, its even more excruciating when you could deal with the client yourself, but your hands are tied by ‘let me handle it’, which never gets done. They contact you because you answer your phone and emails. Clients were begging to do business with him. One had POs and 70k waiting, but my boss would sit on it because of other priorities. I had work waiting to be given, it was already done. He just wouldn’t let us give it to her until the contract was signed. But he was the one that never would get the contract in order for them to sign it. 70k isn’t a small amount in that company, but my boss wanted to feel like he was still on the ground floor dealing with clients. I left 5 months later, which was when the client was trying to get the contract up and my boss was still sitting on it.

    2. Amy B.

      Agree; it is time to start looking for another place to work. I worked for a very similar type of owner. Clients would call and he would never call back. I got chewed out by many of them. I finally sat down with him and asked him if [this business] is what he really wanted to be doing with his life. He said that, honestly, he would rather be out sailing. I found another job.

      He took my leaving very personal and would not even speak to me on my last day (after working a one month notice and presenting him with a document detailing the state of each of his projects).

      Oh well…if the owner is not as committed as the employee(s), things are not going to go well.

        1. Angora

          You wonder about people. When you get to the point you do not want to be there and are unwilling to do a good job for your own self respect and reputation it’s time to find another job, retire or just quit.

          People like that boss suck the energy out of everyone around them.

    3. T

      I agree with all the people who say get the heck out of there. There really doesn’t seem to be any way for you to salvage the situation. Your boss is unresponsive, and if he changes, it probably won’t be because of something that you say or do. His behavior may be caused by some personal problem completely unrelated to work.

      I would add, however, that you might want to think through some appropriate responses to client complaints. I think you should be honest without specifically outing your boss for being unreliable and dishonest. “I gave your message to Mr. Smith, and he said he would call you back. I’m not sure why he hasn’t. Let me put you through to his extension now.” is better than “I don’t know why he didn’t call you back. He’s been doing that a lot lately.”

      In the meantime, is there anything you can do that will show up as an accomplishment on your resume (without overstepping the bounds of your role)?

      Good luck.

      1. spocklady

        This is really good advice. OP #2, I’m in a similar situation. Evidently it has been going on for a while. Things got a little bit better for a brief period around one particular project (maybe my supervisor liked working on that more?), but they’ve deteriorated again.

        As far as I can tell, getting out is the only solution.

      2. Pennalynn Lott

        I’ll add that the OP should communicate (or follow up) with clients using email. If you’ve told the client you’ll pass their message on to the boss, follow up with an email that includes both parties. “Boss, I just got off the phone with Client, and they have requested a call from you regarding X project,” and cc the client.

        The client will definitely know who has dropped the ball then.

    4. Vicki

      Alison – I wonder why you didn’t comment on the fact that the boss not doing this work reflects on (and affects) the OPs work. It’s not just affecting “the business”.

      I agree with the other commenters that “you need to leave” but what else can the OP do? When interviewing, she can’t badmouth the boss, so “he doesn’t do his work and that backfires on me” isn’t going to be a reason she can use for leaving. And what about references?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The fact that it affects the OP’s work doesn’t give her any more power to make the boss change things. She’s asked him about it and he’s told her to back off, so now she has to back off.

  5. Nina

    #1: I wonder if the OP could just ignore her coworker when he calls her Lindog, and if he complains, simply say “I don’t respond to that name.” Eventually, he’ll get bored and start using her real name.

    Seems like the OP has made it clear that she doesn’t like it (meaning she doesn’t laugh or smile when she tells him to stop using that name, for example) so it sounds like he’s just doing it to be a jerk. If she stops responding to it, he can’t use it.

    1. Nina

      I just re-read the post. It sounds like the guy did stop calling the OP by the name, but he’s mad, and now the boss is ignoring her, too.

      If that’s the case, then I would let it go. If he’s going to sulk and pout because he can’t call you that, then that’s his problem and he’s unprofessional and childish. Same with his boss. You have a right to refuse a pet name if it makes you uncomfortable. Just keep doing your job and I wouldn’t worry about him.

        1. GrumpyBoss

          I doubt you’d be able to make a case that someone else’s boss ignoring you is harassment. Unprofessional and immature, maybe. But silence is not harassment.

          1. EngineerGirl

            But it could be retaliation if it keeps the OP from doing her job and impacts her negatively in the workplace.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I’m not sure if you mean in the legal sense. Retaliation isn’t illegal unless it’s linked to a protected behavior — like they’re retaliating because you reported sexual harassment.

        2. rando

          Legal opinion – may I ask what country you are from? Your comments suggest legal norms that I am unfamiliar with in the US.

          1. r

            Ditto… As someone who does practice employment law in the US, not sure where you’re coming from, Legal Opinion.

        3. LBK

          Hmm? Nothing here sounds like it comes even close to the legal definition of workplace harassment.

  6. kas

    1. That’s disrespectful, especially with the age difference and the fact that you have already told him to stop. I’m the same age as your co-worker and I wouldn’t be okay with that either. It’s not funny and I’d hate for it to catch on and have other people thinking it was okay to call me that. It may be awkward but I’d be okay with him not speaking to me, as long as work still got done.

    I hate when people assume it’s okay to give you a nickname. How do you know Michael is okay with being called Mike? My nickname is pretty obvious and my friends and family all call me by it but I always get caught off guard when someone I barely know calls me by my nickname. I’m fine with them using it but for some reason I get a bit annoyed at the assumption that it’s okay.

    1. Raine

      I’m a little confused by comments that it’s a term of affection, as though that makes it somehow appropriate in the workplace and something a much older woman is just expected to smile and say nothing about?

      1. ZoeUK

        Exactly. Even IF it’s a term of affection, that doesn’t mean she has to accept or be grateful for it.

        Personally, I wouldn’t want anyone at work calling me by a nickname because it’s a level of familiarity that I’m just not interested in at work.

      2. JayDee

        It doesn’t make the nickname appropriate for the workplace or something the LW should have to put up with. But coupled with the age (and likely inexperience) of the co-worker, it suggests that the intent behind the nickname was not malicious but was a misunderstanding of how to act in a diverse workplace where others may have different social norms than you. That said, he should have stopped calling her by the nickname when she asked the first time.

        1. Callie

          If he’s not using it maliciously, he’s an immature dudebro type who has no idea how to behave in a professional environment, because randomly nicknaming coworkers you’re not close to is inappropriate. If he is using it maliciously, he is an a-hole.

          1. Karen

            + 1000

            Either way – whether he meant it as a term of affection or as a form of teasing – he sounds like a huge jackass.

      3. Traveler

        I’ve worked in places where there is not much distinction between the 20 something and the 50 something because they were peers. I wouldn’t think to treat the 50 year old any differently then the 20 year old in that environment unless he/she made an issue of it and asked me to treat them differently or I could read cues that implied I should. There are a lot of “much older women” that would take offense and feel it was ageism that they weren’t being treated like their peers – including social aspects like nick naming each other. I had a boss that was very sensitive to the fact that we treated her differently (no nick names, jokes, etc.). It hurt her feelings – so be aware that everyone is different and her age would not automatically make her offended.

        1. Artemesia

          I’m guessing if this guy were calling EVERYONE in the office including peers ‘dog’ that she would have been less offended. She is getting called a dog and others are giggling. And then when she asks him to stop, he doesn’t. This doesn’t read like she is being treated like everyone else; it reads like she is being singled out.

          And ‘affection’ has no place in the office, particularly from a new young worker to an old long time worker. Should he be able to call her ‘sweet cheeks’ or ‘honey baby’ because his bros use that term to address women?

          1. Traveler

            You’re taking this to extremes. Where in my statement did I say anything about sexist language being okay? That’s never okay – but If a 20-something guy called me Trav-Dog, I would think he was a bit ridiculous, but wouldn’t in the least bit be offended by it. I would make the assumption it was just his slightly awkward way of trying to create familiarity in a new environment and that he had perhaps come from a work culture where that was the norm (contrary to your opinion there are cultures where that is completely normal). If I heard someone else giggle when he said it – I wouldn’t automatically assume they were laughing at me. It could just as easily be the fact that he’s using an outmoded term, or that I raised an eyebrow at him for using said outmoded term and the person found that funny. Calling someone Lin-dog is nowhere near being akin to calling them sweet cheeks or honey baby.

          2. Traveler

            Oh, and I never disagreed with the fact that once she asked him to stop, he should have. Absolutely he was wrong there.

      4. aebhel

        This. ‘Sweetie’ is a term of affection, but if my boss called me that, it would be beyond inappropriate.

    2. Judy

      I had the opposite problem. Yes, my legal name is Judith, but I have never been called Judith.

      I had a co worker who insisted on calling me Judith. She was a Tamera who like being called Tamera. So I started calling her Tammy when she would call me Judith.

      I also had a co worker in another department who mistakenly called me Julie a few times. His name was Mike, so we had this thing in the hallways where he would say, “Hey Julie, what’s up?” and I would say “Not much, Mark”.

      1. Sawrs

        I would never have the courage to do this, so: brava. Did it encourage them to learn / use your preferred name?

          1. Judy

            Yep, she stopped after a few weeks. Or at least it trailed off so it wasn’t an issue fairly soon.

      2. chewbecca

        I’m the same way. I get kind of confused when someone I know socially calls me Rebecca. I’ve gone by Becca for the past 31 years, I’m kind of attached to it.

        I tend to have more problems with people wanting to shorten my name to Becky. It’s never sat well for me, but it’s the most common way to shorten Rebecca, so I have to nicely correct them.

  7. Befuddled Squirrel

    #1 – I seem to attract a lot of nicknames so I’m used to dealing with this kind of thing. When it’s something you don’t like, the best strategy is to respond with humor and give them a nickname. If it continues to be an issue, give them a worse (but funny) nickname. Keep going until they back off or you become friends.

    1. nomonus

      Maybe because “Befuddled Squirrel” just doesn’t roll off well? I’d want to call you B-funk. :)

  8. Legal opinion

    There’s some serious issues here Allison aka AskaManager as I see it is either inept or incompetent. If anyone calls you a nickname and especially if you’ve told them to stop, this is considered harassment, pure and simple. If Allison doesn’t recognize this she should gracefully quit her position as an HR Manager of be fired. If it was me. given her ongoing horrible advice., I think she should be fired.

    1. EE

      Goodness, AlLison has become a HR manager? I’m surprised she didn’t share the news with us.

      1. Yup

        Yeah, Alison… should you quit, or be fired? What would look better on your resume?

        And I’m glad we have this legal opinion here to guide us, whew.

        (Is it considered ‘management’ when you own cats? I can’t be sure. I feel like they’re a force of nature.)

          1. GrumpyBoss

            Yup. The chain of command is clear in my house.

            Thank god I also have a dog, so at least there is someone who listens to me!

            1. Monodon monoceros

              I wish my dog listened to me! But alas, I think I am managed by my cat, and then just blatantly disregarded by the dog. Perhaps I am in dysfunctional relationships with my pets :)

      1. Jennifer O

        I hope the new comments section has a like button. Or maybe a love button for responses like this?

    2. Monodon monoceros

      That’s a pretty strong overreaction. I think a discussion of whether the advice was good or not is interesting and important, but the advice is not a fire-able or quit-worthy offense.

      1. GrumpyBoss

        I’m wondering if this is a troll. There are some really bizarre comments from this handle.

        1. rando

          Good point. I’ve tried to assume a non-troll, but the comments just don’t make sense.

        2. GrumpyBoss

          And I posted under the wrong person. I was referring to Legal Opinion, not you, Monodon Monoceros

          1. Monodon monoceros

            Ah, yes, I am not a troll. Maybe I do make some bizarre comments sometimes, though, ha ha.

    3. BRR

      First, Alison doesn’t have an HR background, it’s management.

      Second, while I actually agree that someone should stop calling you a nickname if you’ve asked them to stop, her advice is more of a “this is the situation at hand and here’s how to deal with it,” instead of in an ideal world this is what should happen.

      You don’t seem to be very happy with this blog so I suggest you don’t visit this webpage.

      1. AnotherAlison

        TBH, the first site that I hit on a google search for “friendly nicknaming harrassing” is under h r resource . com ‘s page for defining harrassment.

        [blockquote]There are three primary modes of harassment: 1) verbal; 2) visual; and 3) physical. Verbal harassment includes such things as derogatory name calling, comments, slurs, jokes, stories, nicknames, whistling, etc.” [/blockquote]

        While I know there is a lot of legal precedence for this, and hr resource . com is not a legal reference, I do feel like Alison’s response was a little off on this one. I guess if the nickname was “Naughty Nancy” or something, that’s probably closer to what would meet the legal precedence, but I really do not agree with someone having to put up being called a name they do not wish to be called. It IS harrassing, whether it truly meets the legal standard or not.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, that’s not the kind of support Legal opinion needs for her claim; I think you’ve interpreted the phrasing correctly that it needs to be nicknaming based on one’s membership in a protected category or in conjunction with other illegally harassing behaviors.

          If you’re into splitting hairs, I think it’s harassing if you deliberately call somebody a name after they’ve asked you to stop (which is what happened here), but that intent matters and it has to be deliberate.

        2. Natalie

          In the US, though, that harassment has to orient around protected characteristics – sex, race, etc. Calling my co-worker Joey even though he hate it is certainly assholeish, but it’s not illegal.

        3. Ask a Manager Post author

          Harassment in the legal sense has to be based on membership in a protected class (race, religion, sex, etc.) and has to be severe or pervasive.

              1. karowen

                My boss is a big fan of Spoonerisms when it comes to names. Normally hilarious…until he called a woman something similar to Jam Cones.

                He was absolutely horrified, turned beet red, and started thinking before he Spooner-ized names thereafter. If he had said it to her, it probably would’ve ended very poorly.

    4. Traveler

      If you look at the advice “legal opinion” has given on this thread – they are clearly a troll. We should probably stop feeding it.

    5. Red Librarian

      Actually, you may want to read the letter again as the OP makes it clear that the coworker DID stop but is now ignoring her.

  9. Sissa

    Number 1: people (I also like to call them kids) like this usually do this whole name-calling thing to get a reaction out of you, and you play riiiiiight into their hands (even though the fact is that it’s inappropriate and/or rude). Once you stop reacting to the name, AT ALL – no raised eyebrows, no “huh”s, no “wow”s – will they stop using it.

    This particular individual just didn’t learn the difference between school and work world yet, apparently. :P I’ve seen worse behavior at 30 (way worse!), but we’re in the Netherlands and people tend to act funny at work here.

    1. EE

      I don’t agree. I think people get habituated and that if there’s no pushback she’ll be Lindog forever. Even if every single time he does it now he’s doing it with intent (something I doubt) it’ll soon just become what he says, without even thinking about it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree. Ignoring is the same as “green light GO”. She would have been better off to either seriously address it almost immediately OR fire a rock solid comeback.

        The comebacks only work if you have an unbeatable one liner. Not my strength.

        Usually, I just opt for the serious request. “Hey, my friends call me Lin, you can call me that, too.” OR a redirect “Actually, I like the name Linda, what do you like to go by?”

    2. In progress

      I’ve been bullied before and I’ve found ignoring it doesn’t work. They’ll just push my buttons until they get a reaction. So I treat it as completely unremarkable. That way they know I’m not deliberately ignoring them, and it gets boring for them.

      1. Mephyle

        Doesn’t ignoring actually have the potential to work, though, for the special case of bullying by being called the wrong name (whether nickname or mistaken name)? Because why would you answer to a name that isn’t yours? If they escalate, you would be genuinely puzzled like “Why is this person shouting ‘Gilligan, GILLIGAN!’ at me, when my name is Chris?”

    3. Aunt Vixen

      usually do this whole name-calling thing to get a reaction out of you

      … But why is that okay? Even if one does avoid playing right into their hands, shouldn’t they – you know – not be allowed to do things with the intention of upsetting people?

      1. KrisL

        You gotta figure that sooner or later the people who are doing this just to get a rise out of people will eventually do this to the wrong person. Karma?

  10. Mark

    #1. You did the correct thing by bringing this issue to your boss. Calling you out your name after you told him to stop is harassment and his boss ignoring you is not your fault either. He is a terrible boss. I hope Allison reconsider her advice after a good nights rest because 9 times out of 10 her answers are justified but she missed this one.

  11. Jen RO

    I think age can be very relevant for #1, because 22 means that the coworker is very new to the workforce, and is probably still treating it like college/high school where giving nicknames to classmates was normal. I am currently working with someone who reminded of #1 – he is a bit older, but this is his first professional job, and he does act inappropriate sometimes.

    But how would OP#1’s situation be harassment? I see a lot of people mentioning this angle and it does not compute to me. Yes, coworker is being obnoxious and the boss should have addressed it, but it’s a nickname, not the end of the world.

    1. Monodon monoceros

      I agree with both of your points. For the harassment, the OP doesn’t say how long it’s been going on, but it doesn’t sound like too terribly long. If it was going on for quite a while I can see that moving towards harassment, but it sounds more like a little bit of unprofessional behavior on the part of the name-caller, maybe some misplaced joking around, some misinterpretation of the intent, but not harassment (yet).

    2. GrumpyBoss

      It’s not just a college/high school thing. Some of is our just nicknamers. I’m in my 40s and still do it. It’s a term of endearment from me and meant to inject levity into a work environment that is often too serious. It’s also easier for me as well, since I struggle to keep people with the same name straight (I once managed a team of 22 that had 5 John’s and 3 Sean/Shawn/Shaun’s). Only once in my entire career did someone ask me to stop, and that was for what I considered a very benign nickname where there was gray area for offense, like the OP’s. I didn’t understand his reasoning but I knocked it off.

      However, I’ll be using nicknames until the day I go into retirement. It’s just how some of us operate.

      1. kdizzle

        Agree. I’m a woman in my mid-30’s and also a nicknamer. In fact…that’s how I received the name I comment under; it was a workplace nickname from my first and best boss.

        Anyone who doesn’t stop calling you a nickname after you’ve asked them to stop is clearly a jerk, but I really never thought I’d see quite the backlash against nicknames in the workplace. This thread is really fascinating.

        1. Toothless

          I would have to already love you a lot to enjoy having you give me a nickname, even an inoffensive one. My name is Sarah, and it makes me happy when my dad calls me Sal; do I love you like I love my dad? No? Then call me what I tell you my name is, please.

        2. Karen

          I think it depends on your relationship to the person. If you have an established relationship where nicknames would be fine, then that is one thing. But in this case, it seems like the nicknamer is basically a stranger to the OP AND a new hire AND more than 30 years younger than her and nothing about their relationship has indicated that assigning her a nickname would be cool. And now he’s all offended because she told him to stop.

          I think in this case, the guy is just kind of a tool.

  12. Brightwanderer

    I feel like the advice in #1 is answering a different question than was asked? The nickname calling has already stopped. There’s no need for the OP to ignore it or find ways to deflect it – the question was a) did she do the right thing in escalating in the first place and possibly b) what does she do now she’s getting the silent treatment from the coworker AND his boss?

    1. rando

      Good point! I went back and that does seem to be the case.

      OP should not feel guilty. She told her coworker that she didn’t like it, it continued, so she escalated. The nicknamer probably just feels very awkward. I would extend some friendliness now that the naming has stopped.

    2. Tomato Frog

      Thanks, I was looking for a comment addressing this. I hope some commenters will have suggestions for what she can do now that she’s getting the silent treatment.

      1. Xay

        I think all she can do is move forward. She has the support of her boss, which is most important. Either the coworker will get over his immaturity and hurt feelings or he won’t – there is nothing the OP can do about that.

        1. Colette

          Up to a point, I agree with you. If she needs to work with him and he continues to ignore her, she can address it at that point. Otherwise, leave it be.

    3. M. in Austin!

      Agreed! I think the problem is now the silent treatment. My advice would be to let the children pout and keep working on your own projects. They can get over it.

      1. KrisL

        Yeah, I think I’d ignore it and act like nothing unpleasant ever happened (unless he starts doing it again).

    4. iseeshiny

      +1 Yeah. And for what it’s worth, I think it was a little soon to escalate it to boss level. I understand she shouldn’t have to tell this guy twice, but it might have been worth it to give him a raised eyebrow and remind him to knock it off. “Just Linda’s fine, thank you.” Because it was a stupid nickname, it was rude to continue using it, but getting the bosses involved seems pretty petty to me.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s my take too. Not everything interpersonal needs to be escalated to your boss; some things adults can handle on their own between them.

  13. Tmiomg

    I appreciate the responses as the OP so that I can see other interpretations to understand how to handle this professionally and successfully. He wrote dawg originally and then typed dog in the email response to stop. Oddly I struggled with this nickname and did not want this to stick with me and be used by others. I am not part of his posse as that is how I saw his use of this ” term of endearment” as he kept explaining to me when I questioned why would he call me that. He will stop as I do not like it and feel it is disrespectful. I could not imagine my son’s friends addressing me in that manner so work should have the same if not higher standard. Picking the right battle was my dilemma so that work does not cease flowing. I will take it one day at a time. Thank you so much for the review by everyone. This site is definitely very helpful.

    1. UK Anon

      OP, please can I just respectfully suggest that you look at your relationship with him as a peer? Whilst he has no right to keep calling you a name you’ve asked him not to, he seems to have meant it in the right way, and it sounds as if he has now stopped.

      The comparison with your son makes me wonder if maybe the way in which you approached this is part of the reason that he backed off – it sounds to me that you may have risked coming across as slightly aloof and possibly even patronising. I don’t think it’s a helpful comparison, because I would expect certainly a different form of respect from a work colleague of the same level as me, if not a lower one.

      I hope you don’t feel that I’m reading too much into this or attacking you personally, as I don’t mean it that way at all – but if he and his manager have both now stopped speaking to you, swallowing the bullet and being the bigger person is most likely the right way forwards, and I think that going in from the right perspective will be a big part of making that work.

      Good luck!

      1. Xay

        I have to agree here. He shouldn’t call you a nickname you don’t want to be called, but he is your coworker and peer. Regardless of the age difference, the relationship between coworkers and demonstration of respect is different than that between you and your son’s friends.

      2. M. in Austin!

        Agreed. It’s a different type of relationship. Set the age difference aside and treat him like a peer.

      3. Ann O'Nemity

        It’s not weird to want workplace standards for interactions to be more professional than what people allow in their personal lives. Frankly, I’d be uncomfortable if a co-worker started calling me “dawg” in the office even if I was fine with the nickname outside of work.

      4. Fabulously Anonymous

        I interpreted the comparison to her son in a different way: that she has experience interacting with that age group. I didn’t see it so much as she doesn’t think of him as a peer as much as, “I interact with this age group all the time and have never been dawged before.”

    2. BritCred

      I sense a personality conflict between the two of you. You treat him like he was a friend your son brought home rather than a work colleague. Or even a neighborhood kid who you are barely avoiding yelling at for being on your lawn….

      Even reading your post I feel a bit like a “oh, I won’t talk to her again then unless I have to”. That feeling would have a lot more effect than the act of being asked not to use the said nickname.

      We all remember the neighbour up the road who made us feel like she was constantly watching us waiting to be able to call our parents and rail against us misbehaving right? Even if you bumped in to her and she was happy and cheerful you’d be a bit aloof….

    3. Not So NewReader

      I’m not so sure that letting the age difference weigh in is going to help you, OP.

      It makes sense that your son’s friends would not say that to you. Maybe your son has cued them in “Don’t call my mom ‘ dawg’.” Or maybe they have been around you enough to realize you are not a person who uses a lot of slang words so they are trying to copy you. And lastly, if they are in your house they are going to remember that they are in your castle.

      There is none of this stuff going on in the work place.

      Technically, you are his peer, first and foremost. Yes, he should have waited to know you better before trying out the slang. And yes, he should have stopped when you asked. But, please, double check to make sure you are not sounding like a mom/parent to him.
      I am over 50. I have worked with people who are half my age, or less. I can see it on their faces–“Don’t talk to me like you are my
      parent. I don’t need more parents.”

      One time, I was doing X task. A woman, 20 years old, decided she wanted to do it. Without thinking, I said “It’s okay, I got it.” Then she let me know “You guys never give me a chance. I want a chance to learn how to do this.” (It was clear in the remarks that by “you guys” she meant us older staff.) I realized my error. I said “You’re right. Okay, you do this and if you need help, I will answer your questions.”

      It’s an easy pit to fall into. Self-checks are important.

      [My coworker got the task done successfully- oh my! happy! happy! It was a pleasure to see it fall together for her.]

  14. Helen

    #1 – you don’t keep teasing someone after they have asked you to stop, it is bullying, and it is not ok at all. What Tigress said. Sorry AAM – you are wrong on this.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Can we please reserve the term “bullying” for instances where there is actual bullying? Throwing the term around so lightly devalues it to the point where it isn’t taken seriously and we’re back to square one in getting people to understand bullying.

      Is Andy calling Jim “Nard-dog” on The Office bullying him? Or is Rob Scheider’s SNL character who had a stream of nicknames for his coworkers bullying them?

      Absent any evidence of ill intent or more nefarious motivates, a co-worker calling you a nickname that you don’t want is some level of annoying, possibly annoying as hell. Maybe annoying to the point of being glad that when you tell them to just cut it out they stop talking to you, fine.

      Annoying the crap out of people or being socially tone deaf, which a lot of nicknamers are, doesn’t mean the nicknamer is a bully.

        1. TotesMaGoats

          Absolutely agreed. People can be mean or rude or just disagree with you and it’s not bullying.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Sorry, I just can’t agree here. I have one of those nicknaming coworkers. I liek him, and I would have no problem with him giving me a “Yo, Big A, what up?”

        But, I also lived through high school where someone would call me a not-at-all-derogatory nickname, but it was someone I didn’t like and was not friends with. The tone of how he said it turned it into a put-down. It made me uncomfortable and I dreaded running into him and hearing it.

        I don’t know what the OP’s coworker’s tone was originally, but once she asked him to stop and he didn’t immediately stop, I believe it turned into bullying. It’s not the words, it’s how they’re said and who says them.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          You’re projecting something completely unsupported by any facts in the post.

          The facts are:

          He’s new to the workplace. She’s got 30 more years of experience than he does. He has support of his boss. She has support of her boss.

          There’s no imbalance of or abuse of power, either workplace power or social power, at all.

          You could actually tilt that slightly toward the OP, if you squint, because in her follow up post here, she said the reason she didn’t like the nickname was that she didn’t think it was age appropriate, even though they are on peer level. (not picking on that point, just saying, if there’s any power tilt there it’s in favor of the OP and her age/experience)

          Where is there any imbalance of power in this situation that would lead to bullying?

          Calling bullying where there isn’t makes people deaf to actual bullying.

          (And that’s it for me. I am sorry if I am belaboring but I feel so strongly about this, bullying upsets me so much, I had to have one more post and I’m out.)

          1. smilingswan

            The imbalance of power comes from him being a young man in a man’s world, versus an older woman.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              We really, really don’t have enough information to know what the balance of power is in this situation. It’s categorically untrue to say that all young men have more power than all older women in every workplace — so categorically untrue that I’m a little horrified I even have to write that out.

    2. Jake

      … but he has quit. He is upset that he has been forced to quit, but he quit. I don’t understand your point.

      1. Helen

        when someone won’t stop teasing you after you have asked, it is bullying. She is a woman, he is a man, he cannot just keep ‘teasing’ her or calling her a name after she asked him to stop. It is bullying, and we should never ever tell someone to just ignore it or ‘get over’ it. I am not throwing around the bully term lightly. It is so wrong on so many levels that people are saying this is no big deal. It is.

        1. Nerdling

          But you’re ignoring the fact that he did stop. Now he’s just being butthurt and ignoring her.

          1. fposte

            Or he’s been told to keep his distance from her to make sure he doesn’t bug her. We don’t know if he’s sulking or being scrupulous here.

  15. Julie

    Hey, everyone. OP #5 here. Just chiming in to say hi, and also so I can subscribe to the comments. (But clearly I’m not the post that’s pushing everyone’s buttons today…)

    1. LeighTX

      Sorry you’re being ignored, Julie-dawg! :) For the record, I think AAM is right–keep job-hunting, ask about taking the time off after you get an offer, and hope for the best. Good luck!

      1. Julie

        Thanks! I actually reposted my “hello” a little lower and got more response there, so I’m definitely not being ignored. As always, people have plenty of good advice.

    2. Anon Accountant

      Hi,

      From your letter it looks like your situations are completely reasonable to talk to a prospective employer about the need for time off. Most will understand.

    3. Vancouver Reader

      Nope, you’re not, but it’s probably a good thing. :) Best of luck with everything.

  16. MaryMary

    OP 3, I’m not clear from your letter if you can expect your employer to pay for the certifications and the training, or if you’re expected to get the training on your own (and you originally assumed you’d get that training from your cowokers). Particularly if no one in your department is currently certified, I’d consider asking if your manager and director if the organization will pay for your training, or reimburse you after you become certified.

    1. Editor

      If the OP is working for a municipality in the U.S., the budget should be a public document. OP should get a copy of the budget and look through it to see if money is budgeted for training. The money may not be there.

      It might be more practical to ask your new boss if money for training is budgeted and if not, when the money might reappear. That will give OP a better feel for whether things will change.

  17. eemmzz

    #1 – I’ve always been under the belief that if someone politely asks you not to call them something, you don’t call it them. If that person continues after you’ve asked them to stop, stating it is just how they do things or whatever, then I’d think they are almost being selfish and not considering someone else’s feelings. It is similar to when some people dislike their name being shortened.

    My name is Emma and plenty of people call me “Em” in the workplace without me ever prompting it. I don’t mind this at all of course but some of my co-workers will then pause and ask “sorry Emma, do you mind being called that?” to which I say no it’s cool with me.

    With all the offices I have worked in nicknames grow over time. This guy was new to the office and I find it a bit bizarre that he would start throwing around nicknames without really understanding the people around him.

    That’s just my two cents (well pennies) on the whole nickname thing.

    1. Ellie H

      Yeah, I have exactly the same thing, practically everyone automatically goes to the nickname and then at some point pauses to ask me if I mind it. Fortunately I don’t mind that particular nickname!

      1. TL

        When people shorten my name (there’s only one or two obvious ways to do it), I just add the last syllable in. I hate shortened versions of my name. But I’ve never had anyone continue calling me by it after being corrected a time or two.

  18. EE

    I’m surprised by all the people here who assume that the nickname is a term of disrespect. It definitely may be overly familiar and not work appropriate, and he definitely should not have continued once she asked him to stop. I have never (and this is probably related to my age, very close to the coworker) heard a ‘dog nickname as something disrepsectful, either in media or in real life.

    1. Tina

      Unfortunately, some of us have (often) heard it used in a derogatory way, so I guess it’s just as easy to go one way as another. I wouldn’t want to be called it, regardless of who was doing it.

    2. Amanda not Mandy

      And I have never heard it used in a way that WASN’T intended disrespectfully.

      1. Sunflower

        ‘You’re a dog’ = disrespect, you’re ugly/rude
        ‘You’re my dawg’ = Respect, you’re my buddy/i like you

        Only a change of one word but a big difference in meaning

        1. Amanda not Mandy

          I’ll have to take your word for it. It’s not a usage I am familiar with, and if someone called me their “dawg” I would be deeply insulted and angry. And I would let them know that in the strongest possible terms. It’s not friendly or respectful TO ME.

          1. EE

            He did not say “You are a dog” or “You are my dog,” he gave her a nickname that was a play on her name. This is very common, if not particularly work appropriate, among the younger generation.

            Appending things like -dog, -man, and -izzle is very common. See The Walking Dead’s T-dog or the commenter upstream “kdizzle.”

            To be clear, I’m not trying to defend his subsequent behavior after she made it clear she didn’t appreciate it. I think we can all agree that that’s obviously not OK.

            1. Kelly L.

              I got -train’d for some reason by an old co-worker, as in “K-Train.” It amused the hell out of me.

            2. Amanda not Mandy

              I didn’t claim he did. I was responding directly to Sunflower’s wording.

          2. Sigrid

            Ok, but you do have to understand that when you respond that way, someone to whom “dawg” is a term is a familiar term of affection is going to be very surprised, and probably very confused. Such a person is not going to be aware that you find the term insulting until after you tell them so. They should apologize that they offended you, of course, but they’re not going to automatically know that you find the term offensive when it’s a term of affection in their social circles.

  19. TotesMaGoats

    I guess I’ve always worked in more casual offices than most even though I’ve always been in academia. One of my staff, who is a solid 20 years older than me and reports to me, calls me “girlie” from time to time. I call her “Mar-Mar”. I had one staff member refer to me as “the General” and he was “Captain College”. That man was old enough to be my grandfather. So, nicknames are more than fine in all the places I’ve worked. I also had a coworker completely mispronouce my name for a whole year. Even on my voicemail where I say my name correctly.

    And I do think the guy wasn’t trying to be insulting but that’s been covered. My takeaway from this for the OP and anyone else is: pick your battles. I’m not saying you can’t/shouldn’t get upset when something upsets you but there’s a lot of “is it worth it” involved? You spend more time at work (if you are FT) than you do anywhere else. Learning to live and let live, when appropriate, goes a long way towards making your work life easier.

    I’ll also add that I do think age was involved here. He’s 22. He grew up learning to form relationships without boundaries. That’s what the internet has done for us. So, keeping workmates at arms length tends to go against how that generation grew up. It doesn’t make sense to them, at least that’s what I think.

    1. LBK

      I’m 24 and I understand relationships with boundaries, at least in the workplace…I don’t think this is necessarily a generational thing. I work in a very young office and for the most part, we all understand the idea of calling each other by our names.

      1. TotesMaGoats

        Not trying to paint with a broad millennial brush but just suggesting a possibility. I’m sure lots of early 20’s people understand appropriate office behavior.

        However, for a generation who is used to being closely intertwined in the lives of friends, this could be a possibility. Or the guy is clueless.

        1. millenialreader

          Honestly, I hate to jump on you, but you are painting with a broad millenial brush. How about painting with a “he’s new to an office” brush instead? Thanks.

          1. TotesMaGoats

            So, we can’t make a supposition now based upon age and generational proclivities now? And technically, I usually fall into the millennial group, even at 31. But I don’ t have or show any thing that is typically millennial. I’m more like a Gen X’er than anything else.

            Generations who grew up (at least to teen age or older) without the internet and those who grew up with the internet always existing have a tendency to treat relationships differently. This can be true for both age cohorts. It’s not true for every person in each group.

            And, honestly, you probably don’t feel at all bad about “jumping on me”. You got offended because I’m applying a generational stereotype.

            1. Xay

              I don’t understand why this has to involve a generational stereotype. The problem isn’t that he is a millienial – the problem is that the coworker is at best immature, at worst inappropriate, at least unprofessional for the nickname AND the silent treatment. Since the coworker’s boss is also not speaking to the OP (and we don’t know how old that boss is), obviously there is some shared immaturity.

              I’ve witnessed inappropriate nicknames from people older than I am in the workplace and I attributed that the immaturity, not the failings of the baby boomer generation.

              1. TotesMaGoats

                I’m not saying it has to be or it should be. I’m saying that here is an angle to consider. It’s not the reason or possibly even a part of the reason but environment (and generation is a part of that) is something to consider when looking at worldview and why people do the things they do.

    2. Nerdling

      It’s got nothing to do with generational differences and everything to do with personality. Some people are nicknamers. We have a couple in the offices I support, and, believe me, neither of them are millennial. In fact, one of them is old enough to be my (millennial) father.

      Fortunately for me, both of the nicknames I’ve gotten don’t get under my skin, but it would have been hard to unseat them if they had, just because it would have gone so totally against the prevailing attitude in the office.

  20. Sunflower

    #2- While I’m not in the same spot, I’m in a very similar one. I wrote in a couple months ago about my company not paying bills on time. My boss basically won’t pay vendors until they beg him or threaten legal action then when he needs something from them, he expects me to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild the relationships because they won’t talk to him. I have a dreaded feeling everyone I talk to secretly hates me because of the entire thing and it really looks bad on me.

    It doesn’t sound like anything is going to change. In a perfect world, your boss would stop taking on clients to deal with whatever else he’s doing. The only way I think the boss is going to realize this is when you start losing clients over it. I could be wrong and maybe your bosses work is so phenomenal that clients don’t care and this is working out for him. Either way, for me, I’d be pretty uncomfortable so I’d recommend getting out sooner rather than later especially if you ever see yourself working for one of these clients in the future.

    BTW- your coworkers are wrong that it’s not affecting them. Having an owner that doesn’t do the work he’s supposed to do for clients is going to lead to NO clients soon.

    1. Alice

      OP #2 here …

      Ugh, sorry to hear you’re in a similar situation. It’s embarrassing and frustrating at the least. I see your point about it affecting my coworkers. The whole environment isn’t very friendly anymore and I don’t really have work pals anymore. A new place of employment is definitely needed for me (and possibly for you too…).

  21. Julie

    Hi everyone! OP #5 here. Just chiming in to say hi and subscribe to the comments. (And answer any questions and accept any advice, of course…)

    1. BRR

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

      I am not sure what field you are in but in many fields it takes a very long time to hire someone. If you start now you might not have an offer by your honeymoon/surgery. Good luck in your job hunt.

      1. Julie

        Thanks! Right now I’m working in an administrative position for the Faculty of Medicine for a major university, and I’d like to keep working in higher education, but I’m not sure if it’ll be for the same faculty or department, or even the same institution. It’ll depend on where the jobs are.

        1. Felicia

          Well if you do get a job in higher education, that’s been known to take a long time! I know someone who just got one that’s taken 3 months from application to offer, which is apparently normal. I hope the timing works out perfectly for you!

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      Is there any way you can get your surgery scheduled now so that you can plan around it? “I have minor surgery scheduled for November 10” I think would be better received than “sometime in November.” And on a scheduling note, personally, I’d either shoot for immediately following my honeymoon so I could take it all as one block of time, or possibly the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and take advantage of the long holiday weekend for recovery.

      1. Julie

        I’m in Canada, so our Thanksgiving is in October — no long weekends in November for us. :(

        Also because I’m in Canada, I’ll pretty much get it scheduled when they call me, which will hopefully be in the next month or so. Sadly, there’s not much I can do to expedite the process. (Drawbacks of Canadian health care system: long waiting lists. Upsides: Free surgery and hospital stay.) If possible, I’d definitely like to take it all as one long block of time, but we’ll have to see what’s possible. (The doctor originally said it would be scheduled in October, but I really don’t want to be recovering from surgery during my wedding! I’ll ask them to push it back to November.)

        1. Felicia

          I suspected you were in Canada because of the length of the maternity leave contract! You should probably have a concrete time for your surgery by the time you’re interviewing a lot…but if you don’t, your interviewers being also Canadian, they’ll understand why. In my experience in really wanting to work for an Ontario university, they (mostly) hire for September or January, but when they don’t, there’s generally a 1 month period between applying and getting called for an interview (at least…the one time ever I got called for an interview there was). Some provinces get Remembrance Day as a day off…I guess you don’t live in one of those! I don’t either though that would be great. It’s actually a stat holiday in 6/10 provinces…though of course not always a long weekend.

          1. Julie

            “I suspected you were in Canada because of the length of the maternity leave contract!”

            Funnily enough, the mat leave contract was actually for a year, but the first replacement didn’t work out. I’m only covering *half* the mat leave. Yay Quebec and its generous policies for new parents!

    3. oleander

      Hi Julie (#5) —

      My strong advice would be to start job searching NOW. I agree with everything Alison said, and would add this: sometimes you just don’t know how long a hiring process is going to take, or what balls you will set in motion by applying that may take a long time to shake out.

      Last November, I saw an ad for a job that looked like my dream. But I thought I couldn’t apply for it because I had just committed to then-current contract-length job for another 6 months, until early May. I had very strong relationships at my then-current workplace (Workplace A), and didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize them, and my leaving early would definitely put them in a bind. So I shrugged my shoulders about the Dream Job ad. If it weren’t for my partner vigorously arguing with me about it, saying I should just apply and see what happened, I wouldn’t have applied.

      But I did apply, and the process was so…….slow. I was phone-screened in January, then invited for an in-person interview which didn’t happen until late February, and then was finally offered the job in late March. Negotiation of terms took another week, and by that point, it was fine with them for me to wait until late May to actually start the job. It was perfection! Now I’m here, loving it, and am so grateful that I applied back in November. Most worthwhile argument I ever had with my partner.

      A few years ago when I was job searching, I sent an application for a position that I never heard about, but 6 months later I got a call from that workplace asking if I’d be interested in a different job (that I was indeed, even more interested in) — I ended up being the final runner-up for that job, not landing it, but it goes to show that opportunities CAN pop up at unexpected times.

      PLUS, like Alison said, even if you do get a job offer before November, I don’t think that any reasonable employer who has decided that you’re the best candidate would deny you time off for the totally reasonable reasons and wedding and surgery.

      One more thought — if you do send out applications before November, just make sure to put auto-responses on your email during honeymoon and surgery so people know not to expect fast email responses for a bit.

      Good Luck!

      1. oleander

        P.S. The dream job I eventually ended up in is also academic staff (not faculty) at a university.

      2. Julie

        Thanks! Good advice. I’ll take it to heart. (For reference, when I found this current job, the entire job hunt process from sending out the first CV to getting the job was about 6 weeks. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. *grin*)

        1. AAA

          You definitely are. I am just about to start a new job (in an academic-type field). I applied for it in November, interviewed for it in February, and got the job offer in mid-June. Some hiring processes move at a glacial pace.

    4. Graciosa

      One thing that may help you is making it clear up front that you do not expect to be paid for the time off (well, possibly the surgery which is medical / sick leave, but not the wedding and honeymoon time).

      Part of the reason I mention this is that it is a lot of time to ask for so early in your job, before you have earned any vacation time. Offering to take it unpaid makes it clear that you understand this, and the fact that it’s a bit of an imposition.

      Another factor is that employees at my company are not allowed to take vacation time the first 90 days of employment, however it is possible to work out unpaid time off (occasionally a little paid depending on circumstances, but it’s not a given) and include it in the offer letter – but I really need to know this up front. A wedding is certainly the kind of thing I would accommodate as a Hiring Manager, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

      An HM who isn’t willing (or able) to help you out here is telling you something important about the company culture or the HM’s management skills.

      1. Julie

        Thanks! Yeah, I wasn’t able to take any time off (except sick leave) during my first 90 days at most companies I’ve worked for so far. I understand how unusual a situation this is. I’d definitely suggest I could take the time off unpaid.

    5. anon in tejas

      honestly, I think that there are two ways that potential employers can see this.

      1) this is something that I have to accommodate and it is reasonable. most/all of it is outside of this person’s control and they may make some concessions where it’ll be tough that month, but worth it in the long run.

      2) This is something that I could accommodate, and it is 100% not reasonable. some of it is outside of the person’s control and some of it isn’t. I see this as an unreasonable request on the whole and I am unable to accommodate.

      If I were you, I would do whatever I could to make it into group 1. If this meant that I would have to forego a honeymoon or postpone it, I would. If I hadn’t purchased tickets, or would not lose out on reservations/deposits, I would do this to make sure that I fell squarely in 1, and not 2.

  22. Hummingbird

    #1

    I think the question here was how to handle being given the silent treatment, especially when it was the coworker in the wrong but the OP is being treated as the criminal.

    IMO, that workplace sounds like a middle school, and unfortunately, the OP should probably find some other place to work. I say unfortunately because she was there first and this one person comes in just to act like he has.

    There is a whole big debate in these comments about whether or not the nickname had a good or bad intent. I say, “Who cares?” If the OP does not like to be called something, she has ever right to put the kibosh on it. For example, you can shorten my name, but I do not accept it and have told many people not to call me by the shortened name. If someone continued to do so, then I feel disrespected even if the name in itself is not disrespectful. That could very well be what happened here.

    1. Clinical Social Worker

      Silent treatment in the office is just so bizarre. I’ve had to deal with it multiple times. Each time it suddenly ends and everyone pretends like they’re my best friend and they weren’t just yesterday asking the secretary to ask me to do them a favor.

      It’s also very hard to address as people will just…ignore you.

      1. Colette

        I think it depends. If he had been trying to be friendly and was told to stop doing what he was doing, I can understand why he would pull back (because he got it wrong once, he may not be certain what is appropriate).

        If he’s not talking to her when he needs to talk with her for work, that’s a bigger problem, but it’s not clear that’s what happened here.

    2. BRR

      This has been my newly adopted position on intent as well. It doesn’t matter what your intent is/was because the action itself can still be hurtful. I recently made a faux pas at work and I had no bad intent. However, I realized that it came off really bad regardless of my intent and I apologized. I will say it is incredibly hard to feel I was wrong because I know I didn’t mean it maliciously and that was difficult to overcome.

      1. Hummingbird

        And you apologized, which is fine and hopefully the situation blew over. The OP’s coworker could take a page out of your book and learn from the situation. I think if he had calmly explained the nickname and apologized – as well as agreeing to stop on his own – the situation would have defused without managerial interference. But he failed to make things right when he continued to do. It became a malicious intent when he refused to honor her request to stop.

    3. Befuddled Dawg

      The way I look at it is that everyone goes through times when they’re unpopular. You just have to wait it out and not let it get to you. Then people will come around.

  23. Jake

    I left my last job with 8 nicknames that ranged from the potentially offensive, “B.A.” (which stands for exactly what you think it does) and “Squirrel Nuts” (which refers to the genitals of a Red Squirrel) to the perfectly benign name swap (think John Kelly being called Kelly Johnson).

    Nearly all of them were given to me by folks that didn’t know me very well, and none of them made me uncomfortable. That being said, when you find out the back story to every single one of them, they end up being a reflection of a positive personality trait that the nicknamer saw in me.

    I don’t fault the OP for requesting not to be called Lin-dawg at all because she has every right to do so. I do however, find it startling that people think this nickname is anything other than positive. I’ve never seen somebody be called a nickname (to their face anyway) that wasn’t called that nickname for a very positive reason. The automatic assumption that she is being bullied, harassed, or belittled by being referred to as Lin-dawg seems to be an unfounded assumption with very little evidence.

    Now, when she asked him to stop and he sulked, I see that as a guy new to the workforce that is highly disappointed at the lack of what he sees as “fun.” He is in the process of realizing that work isn’t quite as lax and free as he thought it would be (which is a process we all went through whether we admit it or not) and is disappointed. The only way this goes to harassment, bullying, belittling levels is if he either keeps doing it or he couples it with other behavior that is inappropriate. However, there is no evidence in the question to believe this is the case.

    The TL;DR version is, I agree with Alison and am thoroughly bewildered by the large number of comments indicating that he is a bully, harasser, etc.

    1. Clinical Social Worker

      When someone tells you, repeatedly, “No” or “Stop doing that” and you keep doing that thing, you are acting like a rude jerk. “Fun in the office” should be about fun, and not forcing your own brand on people that are obviously visibly uncomfortable (and have told you multiple times they don’t like it). That’s actually the opposite of fun / a good time in the office.

      This is coming from someone who regularly jokes in the office.

      1. Jake

        But he’s stopped. Like I said, if it continues, it is no innocent and is clearly an issue. I also clearly said the op is 100% in the right here. The strange isn’t the op, the strange part is the commenters.

        1. Clinical Social Worker

          He stopped…by no longer speaking to her. Which is also weird.

          Whether we call him a jerk…or a bully…or whatever I don’t think it matters. He was clearly violating a boundary, repeatedly, over and over again until she got the boss involved.

          The OP obviously didn’t feel like it was of the best intent when he continued to do it. It’s fortunate that you’ve never seen a nickname used in a prejorative way, but in reality, it happens kind of often.

          1. Sunflower

            Maybe the guy is uncomfortable around her now. I mean, if you knew that someone spoke to their boss about something you did, would you think they wanted you to casually chat with them at the water cooler? I’d assume the person didn’t want me speaking to them. There’s nothing in the letter that implies he is ignoring her for work purposes- just that isn’t chatting with her like he was before.

            1. Clinical Social Worker

              If I’d actually done something wrong? I would apologize to the person and move on. I wouldn’t give them the silent treatment and stop talking to them. I wouldn’t avoid “social” or “chit chat” interractions with them either.

              1. Jen RO

                But in the coworker’s (and many commenter’s) opinion, he *didn’t* do anything wrong. I would avoid OP as much as possible too.

          2. Jake

            “He stopped…by no longer speaking to her. Which is also weird.”

            I disagree completely. If I was told by my manager to stop calling her a nickname, I’d cut off all non-essential, non-job communications with her immediately. If you want me to stick to business, that is exactly what I’ll do. Don’t expect me to make small talk, don’t expect me greet you, don’t expect any of that because you’ve clearly indicated that you don’t want me to communicate informally with you.

            That assumes is motives were not dark to begin with of course, but if the motives were dark from the beginning, I’d expect more complaints beyond just the nickname.

            1. SiriusWhite

              Is using a nickname really the only friendly and informal way you can think of to interact with someone?

              Don’t use a nickname does not even remotely mean don’t communicate informally. It means don’t use a nickname. Nothing more.

              And greeting someone is just basic good manners in a work environment.

              1. GrumpyBoss

                As I mentioned up friend, I’m guilty of nicknaming everyone. I always meant it in jest and in 20+ years of doing it, I had one person ask me to stop (I was also in my early 20s at the time like the OP’s coworker). I responded by not engaging the guy in a lot of conversation. It was a very harmless name. He went by Bob, and I was always adding an “sie” or an “er” to the end of someone’s name (this actually very common on sports teams). So I called him Bobber. He got upset, and asked me to stop. I respected his request, but never understood his ire. As a result, I found that I was walking on eggshells around him. If such a simple thing was all it took to upset him, why put myself out there?

                I wonder if the OP’s coworker is feeling in a similar way.

                1. GenXer

                  Why is it so hard to understand that someone might not like being called a nickname? You seem remarkably incapable of dealing with people unless you can call them something that is not their name. Eggshells, really? I think you are the one with the problem here.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  GenXer, you’re making this too personal and it’s starting to feel hostile. You might not mean it that way, but please rein it back a little!

                3. Fabulously Anonymous

                  Whereas my take on it is: you did something you thought was lighthearted and fun, someone disagreed, and now you are too embarrassed to own up to your mistake and so instead you avoid that person.

                4. C Average

                  Honest question: why do you do that? Have you always been a nicknamer?

                  My manager is a nicknamer. She shortens everyone’s name. So I know that when she shortens mine, it’s 100% not personal.

                  But it bugs the holy hell out of me when she or anyone else shortens my name to something it’s not.

                  I have a somewhat unusual but completely phonetic two-syllable name, and it’s always weird to me when fellow adults spontaneously decide to start calling me something different. I know it’s not malicious and I try not to let it bug me, but it really does. Maybe if I understood the nicknamer mindset a bit better, this wouldn’t push my buttons so hard.

                  [A side note: My unusual name is actually a word (yep, the parents were hippies) and it rhymes with a lot of things and lends itself well to bad puns. I got a lot of both as a kid and still get more of both than I’d prefer. So maybe I’m hypersensitive and need to figure out how to get over THAT.]

              2. Jake

                Everybody communicates informally differently. If you don’t like the way I informally communicate, it is sometimes (not always, but sometimes) easier to just keep it formal.

                The greeting somebody is completely dependent on the situation, and is only basic good manners in some situations. If I walk by your office cube when I come in the morning and see you sitting at your computer, I’m not going to greet you. If I run into you in the hallway, I may greet you. If you greet me, I’m definitely going to greet you. Such a blanket statement is not valid.

            2. Episkey

              Yes, but the issue is — she clearly told him to stop HERSELF first — and he didn’t. At that point, she probably felt she needed to get her boss involved because she didn’t know what else to do. If he had respected her when she originally asked, she would never have gone to her manager about the issue.

              Even if he was calling her the nickname without malicious intent (which I’m perfectly happy to assume), continuing to call her the nickname after she asked him to cut it out moves it into a not-so-friendly sphere to me.

              I don’t think the OP intended to indicate she didn’t want him communicating “informally” with her — she just wanted to be called by her name!

              1. Elizabeth West

                Yes, his ignoring her request that he stop was immature and rude. I had a similar issue with a coworker at Exjob who kept picking on me. It wasn’t illegal harassment, just teasing, but it wasn’t affectionate teasing like the kind I enjoyed with another coworker. It bugged me, and I asked him several times to stop. After the third time, I went to my manager. She put a stop to it. I did not care how he felt about it–to his credit, he was noticeably more respectful after that.

            3. Fabulously Anonymous

              I disagree. Asking to be called by your name is not the same as asking to stick to business.

        2. Anonypants

          Yes, we know that. He stopped, he’s not doing it any more, but he didn’t stop soon enough and damage has already been done. She feels disrespected, and now there’s an issue with her getting the silent treatment because she didn’t respond to the nickname the way he wanted her to. That’s a problem that needs addressing.

    2. Magda

      “I do however, find it startling that people think this nickname is anything other than positive.”

      I find it startling that you find this startling. You must certainly be aware that the most common insult for women in the English language is another term for “female dog,” right? To be clear, I don’t assume the younger coworker was necessarily thinking this way, and I think his actions can be explained by cluelessness as much as malice. And, there are certainly some women out there who might find a nickname like “Lindog” hilarious and endearing. But does it really come as a total surprise to you that the nickname’s not being met with a universally positive reaction when there’s a loaded history of referring to women that way?

      1. Jake

        It only surprises me because there is no outrigger evidence that the op provided to demonstrate a negative connotation for the nickname. If the op had written, “this offensive coworker that is always singling me out has given me a nickname” I’d get the automatic assumption of negativity, and I’d actually make the same assumption, however nothing in the letter indicates this, so why are commenters taking such a sstrong stance that this is obviously and clearly bullying and offensive. I’m not ruling out that possibility, but to argue that he is obviously doing this to bully her seems way too strong.

        1. iseeshiny

          I tend to believe the OP because she was there and we weren’t. It’s worth mentioning that maybe she misinterpreted his intentions, but just assuming she’s wrong is pretty insulting to her intelligence. She found it disrespectful – what’s the harm in believing her?

          1. Jake

            I believe the OP had every right to ask him to stop. His intentions are not relevant to that. However, he has since stopped… I don’t see how asking somebody to stop, them stopping (sure it took a few tries, but still) constitutes harassment or bullying.

            Somebody that is harassing or bullying isn’t going to just put their head between their legs and sulk, they are going to find new ways to do it.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Well, the comment section here is pretty illustrative of the fact that some people don’t realize that the term has a non-insulting, good-natured usage. So it’s not unreasonable to think it’s possible that the OP is in that group.

            1. iseeshiny

              Oh, no, I know the nickname itself isn’t necessarily an offensive one, wouldn’t have found the nickname offensive myself, but I’m literally half the OP’s age and I know that not everyone is going to take every joke the way I would, and therefore was addressing specifically the claim that “I do however, find it startling that people think this nickname is anything other than positive.” It stopped being positive the second OP asked the guy to stop and he kept using it.

              I’m just saying that for the most part, people with basic social skills can tell if someone is being good-natured or jerkish, and that I’d rather err on the side of believing the person who writes in.

              1. Judy

                I am assuming for someone in their 50’s “dog” as slang means what it meant for (at least at my school) us in our 40’s. In the 1980’s “dog” meant female dog or ugly when referring to females, and when referring to males meant a derogatory term similar to “playa”, someone who has several girlfriends who don’t know about each other at a minimum.

                Also “dog” as a verb in the 1980 in high school where I went actually meant “disrespect”. As in “He dogged you”.

              2. Not So NewReader

                Work place humor is almost an art. There is a knack to cracking jokes/puns that would make most people laugh and not upset anyone greatly.

            2. Anonymous

              Randy Jackson’s good natured overuse of it on American Idol was such a part of pop culture for awhile–parodies, comments on news stations, etc) that it shocks me to see a fairly even split bt ppl who consider it an insult and those who see it as a term of endearment.

        2. Clinical Social Worker

          It doesn’t have to be an offensive nickname for his behavior to be a problem. He did this repeatedly and she voiced her problems with it. He still continued until a boss stepped in to check his behavior.

          I’m in the camp that wouldn’t find a “yo dawg” type interaction offensive. But the OP was clearly bothered by it and asked him to stop. He didn’t until a boss stepped in. That’s pretty crummy behavior.

          Also, just because he’s stopped talking to her, doesn’t mean he’s stopped referring to her this way. It seems he referred to her by her nickname with other coworkers.

          1. Jake

            Your point that he didn’t stop until a boss stepped in is a fair one. However, that falls squarely in crummy behavior, not harassment.

            It is way too speculative to make the jump that he is still referring to her as the name with no evidence that this is occurring. If he is, obviously this has escalated, but there is absolutely nothing to lead us to believe he is doing that.

            I’m not saying he isn’t harassing her. I’m simply saying that the evidence provided doesn’t make it a slam dunk, “this is harassment” case. It just doesn’t. To make the assumption that it does, and then argue for it seems foolhardy.

        3. Magda

          Well pardon me, but you seem to be moving the goalposts a bit. My response was regarding your statement that you couldn’t see ANY reason why “Lindog” would be received negatively, and I provided you with one. I personally don’t know if I’d make the argument that it rises to the level of bullying or harassment, but that doesn’t mean it’s friendly.

          I can envision a variety of scenarios where such a nickname would be received anywhere from neutral to positive. But I don’t understand your insistence that there could not possibly be ANY reason to have a negative reaction to the nickname. And I think even if the coworker intended the nickname in an innocent or friendly way, the fact that he persisted in using it after being asked to stop is asshat behavior. That, for me, is the point where my benefit of the doubt disappeared. It implies a lack of respect for OP, which in turn tells me the OP probably wasn’t off the mark in her negative perception of the nickname.

    3. Xay

      “I’ve never seen somebody be called a nickname (to their face anyway) that wasn’t called that nickname for a very positive reason. ”

      You have been very fortunate then because that has not been my experience.

      I agree that this case seems to be more about immaturity than malice, however, language and slang are so layered that I don’t think you can assume that a positive reference to you is positive to someone else. I work with people all over the country – you’d be surprised how many meanings and interpretations slang can have depending on the location, tone, and context.

      1. Jake

        I agree wholeheartedly. Which is why in bewildered by the reactions that claim it is obvious bullying and belittling. My point is simply that it is strange to me that there is a very negative reaction to Alison’s advice and the nickname in general when it easily could be positive or negative.

  24. Shadow

    #1 – nickname-

    OK, I HAVE to respond to this. Years ago, I had a female boss who used nicknames for just about every employee in our small office. She would use ones. like the OP mentioned.

    Well, I hated the one she used for me.

    One day, after she used it to me, I said one back to her. I made a rhyme on her name, and it sounded exactly like the type of nickname she would use for everyone else.

    It took exactly two times of me calling her this nickname before she permanently stopped using a nickname for me.

    In that case, I am certain that once she experienced what it felt like to have her name twisted into a cutesy nickname that she didn’t like it so much.

    Just had to share!!!

    1. GrumpyBoss

      LOL! I had a coworker named Stephen. He hated being called Steve. But I also have a name that is commonly shortened to something I don’t like. I used that method on him and it worked great. You call me by my shortened name, I responded with “Sure thing, Steve”.

      It worked like a champ!

      1. Elizabeth West

        Hahaha, great response.

        We do nicknames here, but so far no one has been offended by any of them. I hope it stays that way because I’m a nicknamer (and so are many of my coworkers). But if I were asked not to do it, I would apologize and then STOP.

  25. ella

    OP #3: Do you have access to a calendar that will show you when the trainings/certifications are being offered? It doesn’t sound like your bosses are going to take the initiative, but if you can see when it’s happening, you can go to your boss with, “Hey, I noticed that the Chocolate Melting training is happening the second week in September. Can I sign up, and can we adjust the schedule so that I can attend that, since it’s required?” Unless they’re actively opposed to you getting training, it sounds like they’re just lazy/procrastinating, but might respond if you could give them a nudge.

    1. M. in Austin!

      Yeah, it might be more effective to say what Alison suggested, as well as something like, “They are actually offering the class from August 15th-18th. Will it be possible for me to attend that session?”

      1. JMegan

        Yes, and include the cost in your request. Also be prepared to answer questions about the content of the course, and expected outcomes for you as a learner, and for the company as a whole.

        They might already know most of that, especially if the certifications have been discussed for everyone. But don’t assume! (I work in a field that attracts people from a lot of different backgrounds, and I don’t think I’ve ever once had a manager who understood what I do before I walked in the door.)

        What you want to lay out is a professional-sounding business case for why you should take the course right now. Something other than “because you promised!” Lay it out as if they have never heard of the courses and don’t have any idea how they would benefit the organization.

        They could still say no, of course. But at least you can say you tried, and you’ll have all that information about the benefits etc for next time you have to make the request. Good luck!

        1. anon-2

          And see my comments below — if you can’t acquire a skill set because they’ve denied you the educational opportunity – if your manager is stupid enough to use it against you at review time, you have an effective rebuttal.

          1. HR “Gumption”

            Good input to you OP3- I’d also add since many of your co-workers haven’t received the training yet research if the trainers can do some custom sessions, like after hours or in-house if there is a number of people involved.

  26. Noah

    #1 – I recently had a very similar situation in my office. I have an employee who nicknames everyone, and most of us he has multiple nicknames for. They are never offensive and no one has ever asked him to stop before. Well an employee from another department will always call and say “Hi this is [name] again”. His nickname was soon “[name] again”.

    Well apparently he did not like this newly bestowed nickname, and asked my employee to stop. When my employee said “ok [name] again, I’ll stop” the other employee went to his manager. I told my employee to knock it off and he did.

    Just a few days ago I got a call from the other employee’s manager saying that other employee feels like people in my department are not as friendly as they used to be. I asked if they were being difficult to work with and was told “no, just not friendly anymore”. I replied that other employee got someone in trouble for the nickname thing and that was likely the reason. I also pointed out that unless they were obstructing work or being difficult I could not and would not make them be extra friendly to other employee. Get someone talked to by a manager and they are not likely to say anything to you not required by their work.

    1. Sunflower

      ‘Get someone talked to by a manager and they are not likely to say anything to you not required by their work.’

      Yes this exactly.

      1. Befuddled Dawg

        +1. Fair or not, the perception is always that you jeopardized someone’s job. You always have to weigh the consequences of that against the consequences of not saying anything.

    2. HM in Atlanta

      It’s continuing the same, silly behavior that got the bosses involved to begin with. They don’t have to be buddies with him, but freezing him out doesn’t reflect well on them.

      There are multiple ways to be congenial in the office without having to be best friends.

      1. Noah

        I disagree, they are engaging with him appropriately for the work required. What has changed is that there is now no discussion of non-work activities, family, friends, etc. My department and other department work closely together and our employees interact all day long on the phone and using text messages. Now only the work at hand is discussed with this person and nothing more. I’ve listened to the phone recordings and seen the text messages. They are not being rude, just sticking to work and work alone. They say hello, good bye, good morning, and all the other polite things.

    3. Nerdling

      I would say that the other employee didn’t get someone in trouble for the nickname thing. YOUR employee got himself in trouble all on his own. I mean, how childish and unprofessional was his response to being asked not to use an absolutely asinine nickname? “Ok, [nickname], I’ll stop.” Completely dismissive and shows no inclination to acquiesce to a perfectly normal and rational request.

      You need to take some responsibility for your employees, not lay the blame on the person who just wanted to be called by his or her name.

      1. Erika

        +1 — This is what I was thinking, but was struggling to put in a polite manner as you have done so. :)

      2. Noah

        I would agree with that, and that was part of what I discussed with my employee. He should’ve stopped immediately when asked instead of trying to fit one more in there.

        1. NotMyRealName

          But read your own comment here. You’re blaming the other employee for your “jokester” getting talked to by his manager. Your employee was in the wrong and now your whole department is taking it out on the guy who made a reasonable request? And you are backing them up on this nonsense?

      3. KrisL

        Nerdling, that’s what I thought too!

        To be fair, if someone did that to me, I probably wouldn’t go to the manager unless it happened at least once more.

    4. Anon Accountant

      I’m not understanding the “just not friendly anymore” as a reason to talk to a manager about it and that manager talk to the employee’s manager about it. If there’s issues with getting information in a timely manner or if they’re giving them a difficult time over business issues, then address that.

      Maybe it’s just my current bosses but if my complaint was an employee wasn’t friendly anymore but if it wasn’t holding up work getting completed then they’d tell me to suck it up or deal with it and to not tell them again until it’s an issue of harassment or affecting my ability to do my job.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yeah. This is something that generally I wouldn’t recommend taking to a manager; it’s an interpersonal thing that you handle on your own unless it gets in the way of you doing your work or turns into something much more serious than a disliked nickname.

    5. Mints

      Yeah, I get that the OP’s coworker was immature. But if someone talked to their boss about something minor I did, I’d think, “Wow they really dislike my sense of humor” and would probably not interact with them socially either

      On the other side, I had a coworker once who was making sexist jokes and at first I tried to deflect like “Haha this is inappropriate let’s change the subject” but then he escalated, and I called him a sexist and walked away. And I’m 99% sure he thought I was an overreacting B, and avoided me socially. Which I didn’t mind at all, and we successfully worked together while I thought of him as an jerk. So no loss there

  27. Ann O'Nemity

    I’m confused about some of the advice today.

    #1: I don’t know how pretending the nickname is a compliment and giving one in return answers the LW’s question about the current situation and the silent treatment. Is the LW supposed to go back to the co-worker and bosses to say, “Oh sorry, I didn’t realize dawg was a compliment! My mistake! [Co-worker] can all me Lindawg, and I’ll come up with a similarly kind nickname for him!”

    #2: The LW can’t avoid getting pulled into this situation when they’re on the front lines fielding calls from angry clients. These clients are already assuming the LW is dropping the ball, or perhaps the boss is deliberately giving that impression. I don’t see how the LW can follow the advice to let the boss deal with it when it’s the LW who is answering the calls.

    I really don’t mean to be snarky here. I just feel bad for the situations both of these LWs are in and wish I could offer some better advice to them.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      I think in both cases the advice (as is usual here) is focused on what the OP can actually control.

      OP1 can’t force the coworker to communicate with her (or be kind, or anything, really). She’s already spoken with both the coworker and her boss about it. What’s left for her to do? Make the best of the situation by assuming good intent and trying to move forward.

      OP2 certainly can’t force her boss to be more responsible with the clients he manages. She’s already talked with him about it and tried to create systems to make things run for smoothly, and he’s told her not to get involved. What’s left for her to do? Understand that it sucks, do her best to manage her clients, and consider whether it’s a place she wants to work.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yes,that’s it exactly- we can only control ourselves. Consistently, I find Alison’s advice is geared toward keeping the LWs employed and successful. Sure, YMMV. But, her advice is always a rock solid starting point for thinking through next steps. ( I find her advice to be a step-by-step guide of what to do.)
        However, LWs are free to write into say “oh, I forgot to mention Facts D, E and F.” I have seen Alison modify her advice accordingly. I am sure if a LW wrote into say “why do you think thus and such?” Alison would elaborate.

    2. Sunflower

      For #2 the only thing I could think of her to do is CC clients on emails to her boss alerting him of when they call/the reason for calls. I don’t work in a business that deals with clients in this context so I don’t know how professional this is and I feel like the boss could tell her to knock it off but at least the LW could have the blame shifted off of her- not that I know if that’s the best idea if LW wants to keep her job. I’m curious what boss is saying when he finally gets back to these people- is he taking the blame(or at least making up an excuse like ‘sorry I was sick’) or is he throwing LW under the bus?

      1. Alice

        OP #2 here:

        Just to clarify, he throws me under the bus constantly (there is no “I was sick” excuse on his end). I mainly wrote to Allison to see if there was any obvious solution. Clearly there isn’t. I have taken over some aspects of my boss’s clients’ projects – like email communication about project details – but that’s about all I can do. To be honest, I’m just feeling a bit lost and underappreciated. Time to find new employment if this doesn’t clear up within the next couple of months.

  28. Ask a Manager Post author

    Reading over all these responses, a few things jump out at me:

    There’s a whole contingent of people who say they don’t think dog/dawg is a good-natured nickname — that they’d consider it an insult. There’s an equally large group of people shocked that anyone thinks that, and who know the term as good-natured. There are enough people in the second group that it would make sense for the first group to broaden their understanding of the term (or at least to acknowledge that the term has a second usage they hadn’t realized). And there are enough people in the first group that those of us in the second group should take away the message that it’s important to be careful who you use the term with. (I honestly had no idea that there were people who would find it offensive. My experience with it has been 100% friendly. So it’s good to learn not everyone is familiar with that use of it.)

    I’m a little surprised by the number of people in the first group who are insisting that their usage is the only usage, even after seeing so many people in the second group tell them that’s not the case. It seems to me that if you’re in the first group, it would make sense to incorporate the new information from the second into your thinking.

    As for the situation in the letter … as I said in my original answer, it’s rude to continue calling someone a nickname once you’ve been asked to stop. But I’m a big believer in focusing on the pieces of a situation that are within your control, and I don’t think the situation warranted escalating it to the boss (and I’m not surprised that now that she has, the guy has stopped talking to her — as someone else pointed out, when you get someone talked to by their boss, they’re not likely to keep engaging with you except when they absolutely have to).

    To be clear, the guy was in the wrong for continuing with the nickname after being asked to stop, as I originally said. But that doesn’t mean that more reaction was called for.

    1. Jennifer O

      Along these lines, I’m thinking if the OP reads this and can accept the second usage as a possibility, this could give her an opportunity to talk to her coworker about it. “Jim, when you called me Lindog, I thought you meant ‘dog’ as an insult. That’s why I was so upset. I’ve since learned that ‘dawg’ can be a friendly term added to someone’s name. I still prefer ‘Linda’ to ‘Lin-dawg’ but I’m hoping we can move forward and put this behind us.”

    2. Tinker

      Heh, I kind of think that both camps are incorrect in that the question of “is or is not that usage offensive” is a trivia question — it’s interesting to discuss but not actually that relevant to the scenario. The relevant bit is “does or does not the OP want to be called that”, and they don’t, therefore request not to be called that (repeatedly, if necessary). End of processing.

      It seems like that getting involved in the question about whether the OP was justified or not in their preference is part of what prompted the error of getting the manager involved prematurely in the first place — essentially, declining to JADE would have headed off the error that seems to have caused this matter to blow up.

      (Meaningless sound-permutations on my name, also bad poetry, are like the sound of fingernail-clipping to me, so I’m very much sympathetic to the OP’s problem.)

      I do think there’s a point where one can take someone aside and say something like “Hey, that particular nickname is extremely grating to me; in all seriousness, please stop calling me that” when just repeating the response of “Please don’t call me X” doesn’t work. And there would be further interventions after that, but I question whether it’s a great idea to do a lot of plotting out based on examining the notion that people might behave appallingly badly if they’re not doing so already — it seems like inviting trouble.

      In this case it seems like the OP rather jumped the gun, though, and in a way that comes off as not having been entirely intentional. Oops. Awkward!

      1. NotMyRealName

        How many times and in how many ways was she supposed to ask him to stop before taking it to her manager? She asked verbally multiple times and then by email and got nowhere until she escalated.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, not everything has to get escalated to a manager. Some interpersonal things just don’t warrant that — I’d argue this one didn’t.

          1. NotMyRealName

            I guess we’re going to disagree on whether this situation warranted the escalation. I tend to think that someone needed to have a talk with the coworker about what is and is not appropriate.

        2. Tinker

          I think we’re talking at cross purposes to one another.

          I don’t have a strong opinion about when the OP “should” escalate the matter to her manager; rather, I observe that she asked her manager for advice and it appears that the manager may have intervened — i.e. that she may not have intended at that point to escalate the matter to manager intervention, and yet it happened anyway.

          If that’s the case, I don’t think it matters whether the OP “should” have involved the manager at that point (though, as it happens, I think it’s a reasonable reaction considering the circumstances) — if she didn’t want to, that’s all that matters.

          That latter is also my position regarding the nickname in the first place — it doesn’t matter whether it’s offensive or not, or whether other people think it is or is not offensive. It is a name that she does not wish to be called; she therefore gets to not be called that. End of story.

          Obviously there’s a lot of room for interpretation in that story, though, and that’s fine; I’m not particularly interested in getting into a debate over it.

    3. AnonMahna

      I don’t think OP was intending on escalation when she asked her boss if SHE was being too sensitive — in fact I see that as her own desire to understand whether she was interpreting the situation wrong and getting advice on handling the situation, same as her writing to you now.

      As someone who has felt very humiliated by being called a name that I didn’t want to be called, I’m really sad that you continue to ask group 1 to basically lighten up. I don’t think we’re all willfully ignoring the affectionate manner that a nickname could be used but the fact is OP’s feelings on her own name should be the primary point of consideration. You may see her reaction as being overly sensitive but it’s really not up to us to decide. Even if the coworker meant well, giving him all the benefit of the doubt does not make it any better for the OP. She still hated the nickname. I think him leaving her alone is probably the best case scenario but the fact hat his boss is ignoring her is the more alarming issue. Maybe we’ve got a clash in culture fit here.

  29. anon-2

    #3 – been there, done that. Working in IS/IT, it’s essential that you keep up with your skills. Don’t forget, at review time – when you do not have those skills that you acquire through training, a manager can use that as a weapon against you!

    In one place – I would file an “education plan” for myself, but the training dollars were allocated to our group, and spent elsewhere.

    I thought of doing / not doing this, but I decided to DO IT – force the issue. When the “training plans” were requested, I replied with a memo –

    “I have been asked to file a plan for technical education and its costs. However, I have done so in the last two years, and not received any education benefits myself. I find that it would be a time-wasting exercise for me to create one for the next year, because I assume that I will not derive the intended benefits from it.”

    “Please advise – or, if there is some misunderstanding, please get back to me so we might resolve it.”

    I sent it because if you don’t get training in my field, it’s career-ending. My career was in jeopardy ANYWAY — so, why not send it? Confrontational? Oh yes. Necessary? CERTAINLY.

    Oh, by the way – I was called into the director’s office, who personally asked me for a plan, and he fulfilled it.

    1. anon-2

      I might add – the ed dollars in the past were used to educate the “pets” in the group — or, to send people on junkets. I don’t care about junkets, I care about education and self-development so …

    2. anon-2

      Re #3 an afterthought – yes, it’s a form of brinkmanship.

      But in the IS/IT world, it sometimes is a necessary, last ditch form of negotiation. And in my working experience, it has often been effective.

      If your career development is derailed – they’re probably the only options you can use.

  30. Anonypants

    Story time.

    When I was younger I heard a news story about a new law in a southern state (Louisiana maybe?) that required schoolchildren to call their teachers “sir” and “ma’am.” Based on the commentary about how that’s the respectful way to refer to your elders, I started calling my parents that, trying to be respectful. I wasn’t intentionally giving them lip or being overly “respectful” to make some anti-authority statement, I was trying to be good. But they didn’t like it and kept telling me not to call them that.

    And I didn’t listen. I didn’t listen because I was trying to be a good kid and didn’t understand why they didn’t like it, so I kept going. I didn’t understand, until years later, that my intentions didn’t matter, their reason for objecting didn’t matter – the fact was, they told me to stop and I didn’t, and that in itself was disrespectful.

    If someone tells you not to do a thing, because they (or someone else) doesn’t like it, and you don’t actually need to do the thing, just don’t do the thing.

    1. Not So NewReader

      My father HATED being called “Sir”. His hang-up, yes. But if someone wanted to have a positive relationship with my father they would need to know that “sir” would be a hurdle. If this person kept saying “sir” it would become an wall between the person and my father.

      It’s not possible to know everyone’s preferences. But once told, it is really off-putting to keep doing the undesired activity.

  31. LCL

    #1: You handled this appropriately. You talked to nicknamer and talked to your boss. You don’t have to make nice. The fact nicknamer and his boss aren’t talking to you is good. Often when people speak up about something they don’t like, the people spoken to get angry and upset and push back.

    TL:DR You stuck up for yourself. Good! Now leave it, this issue is done unless nicknamer and boss make more problems.

  32. Tinker

    So, slightly different take on #1 —

    Being addressed by your correct name or at least a variant that doesn’t make your eyes bleed is in general an expectation that is so trivial as to be not worth comment — that is to say, when someone says “Please call me X” or “please don’t call me Y”, you just do it. However, the OP polled her husband, her two sons (!), her boss, and an advice columnist in order to determine what sort of opinion they were allowed to have on the matter. That strikes me as a bit overblown, in a way that makes me wonder if there’s an issue of feeling unable to set boundaries involved.

    This is relevant to the OP’s problem because I think the current problem (as opposed to the previous problem of the nickname) is a side effect of the excessive polling behavior. It sounds like this falls in the category of “HR is not your therapist” — that the OP was asking for advice, and the manager took the question as indicative of an issue existing in their management domain and took some sort of larger action on it. That’s a thing that can happen, and the result seems to have been that the OP has effectively, although inadvertently, prematurely escalated the nickname issue to the “my boss talks to your boss” level of intervention. Which seems like the most likely cause of the current awkwardness.

    So, was the OP unreasonable re: their preferences? At least as regards the basic “not wanting to be called Lindog” matter, no. Did the OP err? In seeking excessive validation from others, including from one source where asking probably set in motion undesirable events, I rather think yes. But it’s an error of the “awkward handling of social situation due to having picked up some minor incorrect practices” variety — a fair sort of error to make, and not one to beat oneself up over.

    As far as what the OP should do going forward, which IIRC they didn’t actually ask but it seems like a reasonable subject to address, I’d just ignore the ignoring unless it extends to being a direct obstacle to work (in which case treat as any other such direct obstacle to work), be cordial to the other parties involved, and not give it any more thought otherwise.

    1. Episkey

      I read it a bit differently — I took it as the OP asked her family & Alison if she overreacted because of the response of the co-worker and his boss (ie, she is now being given the silent treatment).

      I didn’t think she had boundary-enforcement issues as she stated she immediately asked the co-worker to not call her the nickname when he first did so (verbally) and then when he refused to stop, she then sent him an email requesting him to do so before going to her manager.

      I read it as she was so dumbstruck that he didn’t comply with her request to knock it off that she started questioning herself, like, “Wow, was I REALLY out of line in asking this dude to stop calling me something other than my name?” And then when the silent treatment started, she really got thrown for a loop.

      1. Cara

        I agree with this.

        And, as many people have noted, age and gender may be a factor here. For me, the fact that she polled her male family members — especially the sons, who presumably are closer to the coworker’s age — to get their perspectives on the situation is completely normal.

  33. L McD

    If someone tried to call me “-dawg” nowadays I’d probably just laugh and remind them that it’s not 2003 anymore. But I’m getting the sense from some of these comments that it’s maybe not as outdated as I think – still, though, it makes me think of the days when the site “you’re the man now, dog” was the height of comedy.

    Obviously the guy’s being inappropriate no matter what, but there’s really nothing else to be done at this point. It’s simply not a grave enough offense to keep pushing.

  34. CaliSusan

    See, my brain immediate went to When Harry Met Sally.

    Sally Albright: Is one of us supposed to be a DOG in this scenario?
    Harry Burns: Yes.
    Sally Albright: Who is the dog?
    Harry Burns: You are.
    Sally Albright: I am? I am the dog? I am the dog?

  35. Pete

    Now that I know we can pick the name by which we are called.

    Let it be known, from this day forward, at my place(s) of employment I shall only answer to:

    King Peter VI (“King Peter the Sixth”)

    1. Cara

      That’s a bit of a strawman. She wasn’t asking to be called anything other than her actual first name.

  36. Tmiomg

    Sad that a nickname that makes someone uncomfortable at their work got someone to declare themselves king. Good grief. It is what it is. Patience to understand situations before acting led me to try to understand and see if I could tolerate without creating a more uncomfortable situation. No other mgmt staff is called that but me. I let it get the better of me. It will work itself out. Thank you everyone.

  37. Sally

    Nowhere did I see that whether it was dog or dawg is the other employee correct in using street language in the workplace. This is as much about that as offending a co-worker. Much like not swearing on the job, if an employee is calling within an organization dog/dawg how are their skills with clients? For me it’s a sign of unprofessionalism. The boss who is refusing to deal with it is just as culpable.

  38. smilingswan

    OP3- I noticed you said that employees in your position “must be certified in two areas within one year”. If this is a legal/insurance requirement, you might be able to push that angle to get them to provide the training. Maybe try saying something to the effect of, “I know we all want the department to remain in compliance/keep our insurance coverage…”

  39. Nicole

    A little late to the party, but anyway…

    When I read the subject of question #4, I thought “spent a few hours with…” meant something a little different and I was slightly disappointed by the question.

  40. JuniorMinion

    I know I am pretty late to this (and I have never commented before…) but letter writer #1 sort of struck a nerve for me. I had an alternate thought that might be what is happening here. I work in an overwhelmingly male field (investment banking) in an overwhelmingly male office (40 guys, me). Sometimes, my colleagues make some debatable remarks and use some unprofessional / derogatory terms. While its not ideal, there is a certain amount of “rolling with it” that I do in order to be one of the team and foster communication. I will jokingly call people out sometimes on the more egregious remarks – however to really take issue with them would get me labeled a “rules girl” and might have more adverse consequences than having to listen to Frat speak at work sometimes….

    The other, more insidious possibility is that OP1 came across to her younger peer as condescending/ patronizing. In order to level the playing field, the peer used “dawg” after her name as if to say ” you may be 54 and I am 22 but in the eyes of this company we are equals”

    I think its telling that your peer’s boss is clearly on his side and is limiting interaction with your boss – Clearly his boss doesn’t think the nickname issue is a big deal.

    Regardless of what the motivations are, I think OP1 will do more damage than good to keep pressing this issue. If she feels the need to clear the air with her peer / create a better working relationship she could always approach him in a casual setting (grab a cup of coffee) and say something like “I realize I may have overreacted a bit to the nickname you called me – I am unaccustomed to being addressed like that and find it jarring. I enjoy working with you a great deal because you bring x and y different perspectives to the table – and I look forward to working on z project with you”

    I feel for OP1. In my experience its a lose lose situation – you either deal with whatever you dont want to deal with or get labeled as a difficult woman to deal with and left out of some of the more interesting / important conversations and projects. There is always the third rail option of finding a new job, but I think that what allison was trying to do in her response to OP1 was to find a workable solution under the impression that OP1 isnt looking for a new job.

  41. Lady Sybil

    Wowsa. The responses to #1 were fascinating. Nicknames can be such a minefield. Comments sections are another minefield, combine those and – kaboom! OP#1, you must be amazed at the level of response. I hope it will all smooth out in short order, awkward situations often do, keep being polite and professional. He messed up by keeping the nickname going and the silence could mean he is angry/embarrassed/unsure how to act now/who knows what. If the awkwardness carries on too long and gets in the way of productivity, a chat to clear the air (no hard feelings, let’s move on) might help you move forward. You wrote that his boss is also ignoring you. I wonder why? I’d talk to him to see what’s going on there. Awkwardness at work is no fun at all, but it should be temporary as I see you want to resolve it. Best of luck to you.

  42. John

    I am 30 year old men – in the organization that i worked 1& half year ,there is a divorced coworker women & she always ak me to do a favour – i gave her more than 200 timea a car ride to her home & do a lot of fabour for her – she always ask some help and as an office mate i helped her alot – i even know her familu and her daughter and all her privatr life she shared me – i alwaya give her good comment and advice – but i have no idea why but she always respond very bad thing to me – even if i helped her before minute – immesiatly after i helped her she did things purposly to annoy me- and next te when i decided to have some gap – she start to beg me and ask me to do a favour and after i did what she asked me she replies baf thing and make me annoying – I have no idea why she do such things – My poaition is a biy higer than her she is our project assistant – and i always think why a person act like this. I understand it is low self estem amd confidence problem but this is given and very simple stuff to think and stop to respond bad thing for someone who help u – let alot very close office mate – Finally i hate the office amd to look at her – not to get in the same circle again – She doea such anouing thinhs for all men who get close to her and helped her – She is smiley funny when she approach a person – but just after ahe got what she needs – she defame aperson reputation and even ignore a phone call – what an amzing nature she has – I just couldn’t figure it out. I suspect her purppse is to snatch money amd material from men & she act as if she is smart by just ignoring specially men. Would u pls advice me with such horrible relationaship in office

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