coworker refuses to talk to anyone because I asked him to stop calling us “young ladies,” I’m afraid my friend might get fired, and more

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

1. My coworker refuses to talk to anyone because I asked him to stop calling us “young ladies”

I’ve had a coworker, someone who’s been working at the company for 15 years, call both me and another woman (the only two women in our whole department) “young lady” multiple times. He’s the most senior person on the team. Last week, he called my female coworker “young lady” at our team meeting, something like “You should try doing this, young lady, you might have better results” when entering time into our super complicated time entry system. I waited until he was done talking and said, “Just so you know, calling us ‘young lady’ is rude and condescending, and makes it sound like we’re being scolded.” He proceeded to say he was no longer talking on team calls, mentoring, or helping anyone. It’s been a week, and he still refuses to help, talk to anyone, or even show as online on our chat service (we’re all remote). My boss says that I “triggered” him, and I shouldn’t have said anything with the rest of the team on the call (all five of us, including the boss). I would have expected an “oh, sorry! I won’t do it again,” not a temper tantrum.

Who’s right? Should I allow a 50-ish year old man, call me and my coworker (both late 30s) “young lady” to keep from “triggering” him? I find it rude, and only appropriate to say to a four-year-old in positive terms: “You look adorable, young lady,” or to a slightly older girl as a negative: “Where are you going, young lady…” It shouldn’t ever be appropriate to say to a grown woman, much less a coworker.

Yes, he’s in the wrong. He shouldn’t be calling coworkers “young lady.” I strongly doubt he’s calling male coworkers in their late 30s “young man.” If he is, that would be weird too and he should stop that as well. But typically men who do this are doing it either because they see it as “courtly” to women and don’t realize it’s condescending and inappropriate, particularly at work, or because they intend to be condescending to women. Regardless, it doesn’t matter what his intent is — it’s inappropriate and you were right to tell him to stop.

That said, would it have been better to say it to him privately rather than in front of the whole group? Yeah, probably. I understand why you didn’t — you were fed up, and if he says something like that publicly, he risks getting a public reaction. But if the goal is to get him to stop and come away with a decent working relationship, addressing it privately would have a better way to go, at least to start with — as with most things that you want to ask someone to stop doing. But his reaction is wildly over the top, and it’s ridiculous that your boss is indulging him.

2. I’m afraid my friend might get himself fired from his dream job

My friend just landed his dream job, at a dream company, in a field that is notoriously hard to break into. One of the things that intrigued the recruiter and hiring committee is my friend’s involvement and interest in the industry, as demonstrated in his social media and online presence through various media formats (think blog, Youtube videos, podcasts, all of which he did on his own time and as a passion project and wasn’t paid for). Before he got the job offer, he was told this element was what got their attention, which was obviously gratifying to him as he worked hard to build that up in the hopes of one day switching fields, and it worked. Since getting onboarded, they. have brought up that he might have to cease his personal online engagement on issues pertaining to the industry due to confidentiality reasons—his new employer is one of the biggest corporations in the industry, and it would be extremely difficult for him to continue and just not ever mention his employer, their subsidiaries, or their products. He heard this from the recruiter, who checked with HR, and HR came back and said it should be fine “as long as you don’t share confidential information or speak on behalf of the company.” However, his boss recommended that he cease and desist it all immediately, and cited someone in a different department who was fired for a talk he gave outside of work that the higher-ups interpreted as revealing too much insider info—being cleared by HR and the PR team didn’t save this person as he was fired immediately without a chance for appeal. His boss’s recommendation was to lock down all social media, and not talk about the industry online at all.

My friend is basically like, “Thanks for the warning, I’ll be careful,” but has no intention of locking down social media or stopping what he’s been doing! He thinks he can be careful and not say anything his employer would object to, and because HR said it was okay … it’ll just be okay. I think this is insane, personally, and I’ve told him my opinion. My reasoning is that no online presence, no matter how much you might enjoy it, is worth risking what is quite literally your dream job! My friend says he’d be sad to give up his work and I get that — it landed him a job after all! — but I think he should be thinking bigger picture. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do or say at this point to convince him but I’m scared for him because not only is this job a big win for him, it’s also more than double his current salary and I have a feeling if he were ever fired from this position, he wouldn’t have a chance at another job in this industry ever again. What’s your take?

Regardless of my take or your take, this is really your friend’s call to make — it’s his career and he’s the one best positioned to judge what he’s willing to risk. You didn’t err by sharing your worries initially — friends look out for each other — but he’s heard you out and disagrees, and you shouldn’t keep pushing it. (If he were your spouse and you were financially intertwined, there would be more room to raise it again but even then there would be a point where you’d have to accept he simply disagreed.)

That said, if his boss recommended that he stop and he’s ignoring that, he’s taking a big risk. And while he did all that online work to help him switch into this industry, the thing that keeps him in the industry will likely be his performance in the new job, which means he really should try not to get fired from it. But that’s his to work through on his own.

3. New hire is monitoring our calendars

My team is very close-knit with constant collaboration. We recently added a late-career person to our team. She is accustomed to being either the operations manager or the executive director in the other nonprofits and consultancies she has worked at in the past 35 years. I know for sure she has “35 years of nonprofit experience” because she says it all.the.time.

It is clear to me that she is struggling with not being in charge. I think it is difficult for her to work for me (22 years her junior). I work to have as casual a reporting structure as is possible, preferring to work as a leader coach rather than with a command and control approach.

I have worked with her on other issues, but her hyper monitoring everybody’s calendars is baffling to me. It is one thing to check to see where folks are when you need a meeting, but she starts her day looking at everyone’s calendar and makes comments about items on teammates’ calendars in passing as though she is the mother of all of us. Like, “don’t forget you have X at 3 today.” Or, “I saw you are meeting/doing Y. Is that the best use of your time?”

I just let her comments about how I spend my time roll off my back. But, her colleagues are increasingly creeped out and downright offended by it. What on earth do I say to her?

Yeah, as her manager you have to address this — both for the sake of your other employees and for her own sake too, since she’s unknowingly alienating the people she needs to work with.

When you’re unsure how to raise something you want an employee to change, nearly always the answer is to straightforwardly describe the the behavior, ask what’s behind it, and explain the change you want to see. In this case: “I’ve noticed you’ve been reviewing colleagues’ calendars and reminding them about appointments or questioning whether something you see is the best use of their time. What’s behind that?” … followed by, presumably, “It’s not something we do on this team and it is coming across as overstepping. I’d like you to stop commenting on people’s schedules and trust them to manage their own time.”

Read updates to this letter here and here

4. Can I ask for more money for extending my notice period?

I’ve accepted a position for higher pay, more flexibility, and better 401k match than my current position. I’ve been at my current employer for 19 years and I expect they will counter, which I will turn down, or they will ask to extend my notice period as they’ve done with others in similar circumstances. Can I ask for additional compensation for the notice extension period since I won’t be moving to my higher paid role? How should I ask for that? I’m fairly sure the new employer would allow a start date change based on how they’ve treated me so far and things I’ve heard from other employees moving from my current employer to them.

First, do you want to extend your notice period? If you don’t actively want to, it’s acceptable to just say, “No, I’m sorry, I don’t have flexibility on the start date.”

But if you’d like to do it, you can try asking for more money! They may or may not agree, but you could certainly say, “I might be able to move my start date back but it would mean I’d take a financial loss because of the difference in pay I’d lose for that time. If you’d be willing to cover the difference in exchange for me staying on, I can look into it. It would mean an additional $X for Y amount of time.” And if they agree, get it in writing (both the amount and that it’s due with your normal pay for that period) so there’s no doubt later on about what was agreed to.

That said … be really sure you want to do this, particularly if it’s more than a week. Even if you’ve seen the new employer agree to it for others, your role or circumstances may be different from theirs, and you risk disadvantaging yourself with a new job that was probably looking forward to having you start on the date you agreed to.

Read an update to this letter

5. My boss asked my coworkers if I’m using drugs at work

What can I do if my manager is going around and asking my coworkers if I’m on drugs, instead of asking me straight?

Talk to your manager! “I’ve heard from several people that you’re worried I could be using drugs at work. I was horrified to hear that because I am not, and never would. Is there something I’ve done that has given you that concern? I want to clear up whatever it is.”

Also, assuming you are not in fact on drugs at work, do you know why your manager thinks you are? There might be something there you need to address (like if you seem zoned out or your clothes smell like weed because your house smells like weed, or so forth). Or maybe you’re on a medication that affects you at work, in which case you might need to address that with your manager. But have a conversation (which is what your manager should have done originally — her strategy of asking other people is not a good one).

6. Loan cancellation if you attended a predatory for-profit college

I know you’ve posted about for-profit colleges in the past and I wanted to share the federal loan cancellation program (Borrower Defense) for students who attended some of those universities. I feel like it hasn’t gotten enough attention and I was hoping you could share the news with your readers. There is a deadline, so people should apply asap.

The program and application are here.

Consider it passed along, and thank you.

{ 633 comments… read them below }

  1. ENFP in Texas*

    The urge to reply with, “Thanks, old man, I’ll try that” would have been *so* hard to resist.

    Calling him out on the team meeting wasn’t the best move, especially if the OP hadn’t said anything about it before. But he’s behaving childishly and I think the OP should talk to him, acknowledge that her timing was poor but her point was valid, and try to resolve it like adults.

    1. allathian*

      I agree with you on the “thanks old man.” Not the most diplomatic way of putting it, but I would’ve been hard pressed to take the high road on this one.

      I’m not sure if approaching in private would’ve been any better, though.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Reminds me of the Mortification Week story where someone told a senior coworker she was “wizened”, thinking it meant “wise, like a wizard”.

    2. Julia*

      Yeah, the “young ladies” thing is so infuriating and condescending, I’m glad LW said something. LW, I hope you don’t feel dissuaded from speaking up about this stuff in future because we need more people willing to say something.

      That said, yeah, I might have suggested mentioning it in private. I also think “rude and condescending, and makes it sound like we’re being scolded” is a bit on the blunt side. You can say “Just so you know, we’d rather not be called ‘young lady’ in future” and get the same result. I mean you’re right that it’s rude and condescending, but at work a softer touch often gets better results, particularly when talking to someone more senior than you.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        This strays into the territory of only women being expected to use a “softer touch,” which is problematic. He was rude. He was condescending. She’s allowed to call that out, but it should have been done privately. If he still continued, then public would be fine. It sounds like the boss might be the bigger problem, though.

        1. L-squared*

          I don’t think its about “women” I think its the general “you get more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Just about anyone gets better results by using a little tact and softening a message. I’m a guy, and I know damn well that bringing things up less bluntly is a better way to get what I want.

          1. Bexy Bexerson*

            Yeah, but I think you’re kind of missing the point…women are far more likely than men to be seen in a negative light if they don’t use a softer approach.

            1. Julia*

              The context here is my advice to use a softer approach next time, so L-squared is not missing the point at all – he’s articulating my point very well. Your point is a different point, and frankly sort of derailing – it’s true that women’s tone is policed more than men’s but that doesn’t mean LW specifically would not benefit from a softer approach. Which was the topic being discussed.

              (Also, even the generalization is not this straightforward – sometimes women are actually penalized *less* than men for flying off the handle at work, because they’re infantilized and their frustration is not taken seriously.)

              1. Bexy Bexerson*

                True, my point is a different one. But I don’t think it’s derailing; to me it was a natural progression of the topic.

              2. Some Dude*

                Yeah, the people at work I’ve heard bristle the most about being told to tone it down are people who were unhelpfully abrasive and tactless. Being a rude jerk is not a great look, no matter your identity. I get that certain identities get called out for it more or interpreted as being more aggressive than others, but even given that, being a rude jerk is generally not the best way to approach workplace issues. Men do it all the time and we generally make situations ten times worse by doing so.

                1. Some Dude*

                  Editing to add that I don’t think OPs response was out of line. A 50 year old calling women “young ladies” is unlikely to have responded great to a private request to gently cut it out, so a public pointed request was probably a good way to go. Not to mention, she was pissed off and so maybe let loose a little more than she would have had she not been constantly provoked. She lost her temper and was a little ungracious. Bro needs to get over it.

          2. Student*

            Have you tried it?

            For one, you actually get more flies with vinegar.

            For two, as a woman, when men undermine me in public at my job, I’ve found that it’s rare they’ll actually respond to a private rebuke, because they’re already contemptuous of or threatened by me. In such situations, I assert myself, not to “correct” the asshole but to make sure everyone else in the room saw what happened and knows I will not put up with it as a good, quiet, kind victim.

            Think about this kind of interaction less as an accident and more as a targeted attempt to establish a work pecking order. If a guy made fun of your work and questioned your competence in front of your boss or client, would you really gently hold his hand and politely try to escort him over to the civil world, or would you puff up and let him know you’re not having it?

            I only use private rebukes when I think a man genuinely does not know what he’s said is offensive, like using slang that was once common but is now a faux pas, or telling a joke that didn’t land well (which is different than a “joke” where the only punch line is that women-minorities-etc. are implied to be terrible). It happens! But this is solidly NOT an example of such a case.

            1. jasmine*


              Given his reaction, I don’t think he would’ve corrected himself if he was spoken to in private.

            2. somanyquestions*

              My dad called me “young lady” when I was 17 to insult my maturity and decision making. This man is using this exactly the same way- as a put-down. He’s openly being disdainful of his co-workers, and saying it’s because they’re women.

              People who think this shouldn’t be called out are ignoring the magnitude of what this guy is doing. I think it’s just been so normalized for older men to act like this.

              1. Splendid Colors*

                My friend’s dad calls me “young lady” similarly. I’ve started having other plans when they invite me to family stuff. (I’m younger than he is, but older than his daughter and on the AARP mailing list.)

            3. Julia*

              Interesting – I’d actually put “young lady” in your latter category of “faux pas that someone genuinely may not know is offensive”. Particularly before the person has ever been told to stop (and therefore while he may still be unaware it’s unwanted). The conduct after he was told to stop, of course, is asshole territory. But the initial offense is fine for a private rebuke.

              1. BatManDan*

                I’d make a guess (emphasis – GUESS) that whether or not it was a faux pas or intentional, can be calibrated by his reaction to the rebuke. The fact that he doubled-down on jerkiness probably indicates that he meant to be a jerk to start with.

              2. Trillian*

                Unless he grew up in a monastery or lived in a cave and never talked to a woman, he knows—Women have been going round on this as long as I can remember.

              3. Observer*

                The conduct after he was told to stop, of course, is asshole territory. But the initial offense is fine for a private rebuke.

                Given his reaction, it’s fair to conclude that calling him out in private would have accomplished absolutely zero, though. It also implies that he knew EXACTLY what he was doing – and that the boss knows it, too. The “triggering” language is quite odd, and generally doesn’t get used for garden variety rudeness (ie the OP calling him out in public.) SO what “triggered” him? I’m guessing the fact that his sexism was being exposed and he no longer could pretend to be a “clueless guy” who “didn’t mean anything”. And, while the OP’s language is blunter than I would have used, she made her point very clearly and in a way that no one could call “hysterical” or even “overly emotional”. So, he can’t even deploy some derailing into the conversation.

                1. Yeah*

                  1000%. If truly he had no clue he was being offensive, he would not have had such a petty, childish, defensive reaction.

                2. Tupac Coachella*

                  I’ve heard people who exhibit behavior of this type use “triggered” specifically and intentionally as a type of challenge. “Oh, you’re ‘woke’ and I’ve offended you? Well, you have now offended me-I am TRIGGERED!” It’s weaponization of the language of the oppressed to try to box their ‘accuser’ into a corner with the implication that anyone who continues to push back against the original behavior is now a hypocrite for “triggering” them.

                  I do. not. like it.

                3. DrivingDitalini*

                  Yeah, that “triggered” jumped out at me and makes me suspicious of the boss. It’s highly unlikely coworker was triggered in the psychology sense, and most likely trying to weaponize/mock his idea of wokeness. And the boss encouraged and repeated it? Blech.

              4. Artemesia*

                it is 2022. No guy still working has not been exposed to issues around how to refer to women in the workplace. He doesn’t think it is ‘courtly’ and polite — he is doing it to condescend.

                The problem though is the boss who is not willing to manage this jerk.
                The next step should be more pushback from several women making the point that when they don’t want a man to insult them, that it is not appropriate for that man to stop cooperating at work. This is a management problem.

                1. anne of mean gables*

                  Exactly this. Even if he is among the very oldest people currently in the workplace, he came of age in the 1960s. Most likely a decade or two later than that. He has had ample opportunity to acquaint himself with the most basic tenets of feminism and have some semblance of understanding of why an adult woman would not want to be called “young lady” in the workplace. He knows damn well what he’s doing. He responded to being called out by throwing a full-on workplace silent-treatment tantrum, which is further evidence that this wasn’t a well-meaning grandfatherly mistake.

                2. JSPA*

                  Going through the what-ifs:

                  My dad had friends who legit didn’t know.

                  Also, my dad was born over 100 years ago.

                  So, no.

                  I know a very few niche cultural groups where everyone is Sir, Ma’am, young lady or young gentleman… and in any I know of, you STILL wouldn’t use “young lady” for a respected co-worker.

                  So, no.

                  He’s just feeling old? So… the solution is to emphasize the age difference? Again, no.

                  He’s been doing it for years? Well, then it was even grosser when he was doing it to people barely younger than him. So, no.

                  He isn’t being work appropriate, nor respectful. Full stop.

              5. Nesprin*

                I entirely disagree.

                The fact that his response was to refuse to speak to women points towards dude was being knowingly sexist vs. didn’t know that calling his peers ‘young lady’ could be offensive. If he’d apologized and carried on, I might think your way.

                I really think that calling out sexism publicly is important because it demonstrates both to the offender but also to the people around him that sort of behavior is not condoned or acceptable in your workplace. Especially if you have any sort of standing (management/respect etc) demonstrates that this is not acceptable here.

            4. Miette*

              You absolutely do get more flies with vinegar–it makes the basis for a great fruitfly trap, just saying.

              Can I also head people off that think it’s an age thing? This guy is my contemporary, and condescendingly calling women these kinds of names has been discussed as a problem since we both came up. I don’t buy the “of a different generation” pass for this dude at all. He absolutely knows better, he is choosing not to show it.

              1. Rain's Small Hands*

                Bingo. He’s my age as well. And there is NO excuse for a guy my age to do this. They know better. They’ve been told better. And the boss sucks too.

            5. Quinalla*

              I agree with this a lot, this comment is great. When I think someone genuinely does not understand, I will approach them in private first too. And most of the time, it is worth giving people the benefit of the doubt, but if know how they are based on history, 100% I will call them out in public because that is often the only way to get results. I will also sometimes enlist a male ally (in this case, a POC might enlist a white ally, etc.) to talk to the person privately or do the public call out as that also can help get results. Or even just get an ally to agree to immediately back your call out.

              I agree, these types of behaviors are a way to establish dominance/pecking order/control and also a way to push off uncomfortable feelings onto others – ie I don’t know how to interact with women at work who are peers, so I’ll call them little lady to make myself feel better about my discomfort and push the discomfort on them. It is rarely conscious, but it is part of what is happening. This is why we all need to learn to sit with our discomfort around our privilege and interrogate it and WORK to overcome it. Awareness is the first step, but it isn’t the last one.

              1. Artemesia*

                I agree it is better to do this in private and to pretend you think it is an oversight or not intentionally condescending. It is however almost certainly intentionally condescending.

            6. Hannah Lee*

              Well said.

              Also, in my experience, I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve seen/heard “You’ll catch more flies with honey …” advice lobbed at women. I can count the number of times I’ve observed that advice being given to a man on one of my elbows. The expectation that someone should “play nice” is almost always heavily weighted towards women, at least in the world I live in. Waggling someone that they should have deployed that strategy in response to repeatedly being referred to as “young lady” and being done so publicly and by someone who is not her manager but presumes he knows better and is entitled to tell her how to do her job? Yeah, no.

              My not-good impulse in that situation might have been to snark back “Thanks Dad” because what he said and how he said it came off as parental-ish from him and infantilizing towards me; neither of which are appropriate in the workplace.

              1. Momma Bear*

                I’m consistently baffled that women are expected to mince words in the face of being insulted in public. I had a Project Manager back me up with a peer manager when he said something rude/demeaning and ignored my expertise in a project meeting. That manager has never done such toward me again – but it shouldn’t have had to come to another man telling him to stop. My PM addressed it quickly in the moment, as did OP.

                This was not a one-off or private comment on OP’s coworker’s end. Maybe a private conversation could have been better but I don’t see that her comment warrants his response at all, and that the boss is coddling him just makes it worse. Why can’t a woman stand up for herself?

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  … that the boss is coddling him just makes it worse. Why can’t a woman stand up for herself?

                  This times 1000000!!

                  I’m AFAB, and the number of times I gotten blowback for saying the same type of thing as a male peer is too large to count. I am so over it I’m downright prickly about it.

                  I may have boobs, but I’m not stupid, ignorant, infantile, angry, or “hysterical”. I am a professional person, and if you can’t hear from me what you accept from your male peers you need a check-up from the neck up. Because it’s just wrong. I’m not “honey”, “young lady”, “miss”, “missy”, “girl”, etc. I am an adult, and I expect to be addressed and treated as one.

                2. LittleMarshmallow*

                  I think I’ve only had one manager with the spine to stand up for me when a colleague was undermining me routinely in meetings. I’ve been a female in a male dominated industry for 15 years and I’ve had a lot of shit said to me, all the way up to “women belong in the kitchen and go make me a sandwich”. And honestly I almost prefer the really blatant stuff like that because in that environment with gruffer dudes I’ve had good luck standing my ground and telling them to “f off”. Where I struggle is in the more “professional” environments where the sexism is sneakier and easier to justify with rebuttals along the lines of “oh that’s just the way he talks or he didn’t mean that that way”. So yeah, 15 years and one manager actually called someone out whenever he did it to me in meetings. He would say “I think what she’s trying to say is…” and then would repeat exactly what I said… my manager would respond with “um yeah, that’s exactly what she said and you didn’t need to repeat it, we all heard her just fine”. I appreciated that he would say it even though it usually meant pouting from the offender with a lot of “I was just trying to help”. So yeah. It sucks because that crap happens all. The. Time. And usually I just get a lot of justification for the behavior and ways that it’s my fault (and believe me… I always run through the soul searching “was it my fault?” Whenever it happens, I’m not just assuming that everyone is mean to me because I’m a woman).

              2. MigraineMonth*

                I’ve definitely heard that advice addressed to men… as long as they’re black men. Though it’s usually more about how “angry” they seem when speaking in a normal tone of voice. Black women, of course, get a double dose of “I’m going to ignore your actual words and only talk about your tooooone…”

            7. My Useless 2 Cents*

              Yes, I agree that I think it is a good thing OP called him out during the meeting. To make the point to everyone that “little lady” is not acceptable; even if he was coming from a truly innocent, polite, (trying to be charming?) place. Trying to be considerate by speaking to him in private still gives the impression to everyone else that what he was doing was just fine when it isn’t.

              As for how soft a message to send… as a fairly blunt person who has difficulty with some of the more subtle social cues, I say being matter of fact with a “you’re coming across rude and condescending and sound like you’re scolding us” is just fine and softening it to “I’d rather…” is just giving him permission to brush aside the fact that what he is doing is disrespectful.

            8. L'étrangere*

              Student is totally right here, soft private approaches should be reserved for truly misguided people. But this dinosaur knows full well what he’s doing, and deserves the public rebuke. There’s a kind of guy who only responds to fear, and that’s what he should get. Plus the others need to be on notice that you’re not a doormat

            9. vinegary anon*

              Dealing with this nonsense in a family situation now, and it’s absolutely expected that women placate and cajole, men get angry and non-verbal. Might as well call them out on it. Remove any hopes of playing it off or jerking anyone’s chain.

            10. Artemesia*

              And you can usually tell when someone thinks he is being polite rather than insulting. And of course, a private heads up is the way to go. I kept my own name after marriage 50 years ago when it was not common and did my career in the south. There were people who would call me ‘Mrs. Hisname’ and it didn’t bother me because that was the custom; I would privately let them know that I was actually Ms. Myname. But there were those who pointedly used Mrs. Hisname KNOWING my name to make their twisted shrunken manhood point and I had no trouble correcting them publicly.

              There were also those if you used ‘Ms’ who would slyly with a leer say ‘is that MISS or MISSUS?’ as in ‘have you accomplished the one thing in life a woman is good for?’ Those got ‘actually, it is Dr.’

              When in doubt, correct privately and assume good intentions or pretend you assume good intentions. That usually takes care of it, but then don’t hesitate to correct publicly when it is clear they are needling you.

            11. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              yes, vinegar does work better, and is great for trapping fruit flies too.

              Of course, putting that aside, another response to it is, “Why would I want to attract flies?”

          3. Petty Betty*

            He had no problem *causing* offense and being triggering in a group setting, so I don’t know why everyone has to cater to his feelings in order to ask him to *stop* doing the thing and still act professionally afterward!

            The boss is enabling his behavior and excusing both his prior words/actions and his current actions. This requires someone higher up to ram home the point that this is misogynistic behavior from both the original offender and the boss who’s refusing to do anything.

            1. Despachito*

              I actually think he is making it easier by his sulking, because this makes even those less reasonable see that there is something wrong with HIM.

              But it is well possible that some people are unreasonable and even this will not penetrate their thick skulls. And there, I am at a loss (and I hope this is not OP’s boss’s case)

        2. KRM*

          Oh yes, the boss is the biggest problem here. The boss should be telling this guy to stop saying ‘young lady’, and to stop throwing a tantrum and do his job.

          1. Xantar*

            Also, this isn’t the biggest issue by far, but it really bugs me that the boss is misusing the term “triggered.”

            1. ferrina*

              Me too. “Triggered” is not the same thing as annoyed or offended, and it’s insulting to all parties when it’s misused like this.

              1. Momma Bear*

                Agreed. Call it what it is – the guy can’t handle being called out on his behavior. That’s not being “triggered”.

            2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              Honestly! Triggered what? His PTSD stemming from when his royal family was deposed from the throne and chased through the streets by angry citizens?
              He wasn’t triggered; he was embarrassed. If OP’s boss had said she’d embarrassed a colleague in a team meeting, well, yes, she did. But triggering? Boss is a problem.

            3. Cringing 24/7*

              Oof, yeah, I became immediately more skeptical of the boss at that point. That AND they’re not addressing this temper-tantrum? Even though coworker is the most senior person on the team and may not be under the same boss – a boss has a standing to speak up on this to a senior person that their team can’t just be shut out. Not. Great.

            4. Observer*

              Also, this isn’t the biggest issue by far, but it really bugs me that the boss is misusing the term “triggered.”

              Actually, I think that it is quite a big issue, because the language says a lot about the situation. Keep in mind that the boss is blaming the OP for the situation. I think he’s using this language deliberately to make it sound like the OP did a REALLY bad thing that reasonably caused the Jerk CW deep emotional distress that we should be sympathetic to.

              Either that, or he’s been living under a rock for the last 2 decades and doesn’t have a clue what the term means.

              I’m not sure which is worse.

              1. Hannah Lee*

                Maybe we can get Kevin – Foister of Unasked-for Food and/or Beverages to offer this guy a hot beverage to soothe his – airquotes – deep emotional distress – end airquotes.

              2. ThursdaysGeek*

                Or, he’s using the term in a mocking manner, because only snowflake young ladies can be triggered – in other words, worse than just claiming the OP did a bad thing – the boss is being just as condescending and sexist as the co-worker.

              3. MigraineMonth*

                Exactly! I went from “annoyed” to “grinding my teeth angry” the second the boss tried to frame it as a an attack on the male coworker.

                1. Artemesia*

                  Me too. ‘Young lady’ if the person is older than 12 is always condescending. I am an old lady myself and it is often used by smarmy very junior professionals upon meeting an older client. It is enraging because it means ‘old decrepit crone.’

            5. Not here for this*

              Hard same. OP, your boss is possibly a bigger problem here. The fact they’re coddling this jerk by condoning his childish behavior is bad enough, but use of the word “trigger” betrays a gross misunderstanding of what it really means to be triggered. If this was my boss, I’d want to understand why they were using it–are they repeating what Asshole said, are they truly ignorant of its meaning, or is it something more telling? Is your boss one of those Tucker Carlson-worshipping white guys that likes to affix labels like that or “snowflake” etc. to women/libs/millennials/this week’s target who they view with contempt or not? If so, you’ve got another problem.

            6. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

              I’m wondering who chose the word, the old fart or the clueless boss? If it was the old fart, he’s sarcastically using it to denigrate people who dare to stand up for themselves. More evidence that the ‘young lady’ crap isn’t accidental.

            7. EmbracesTrees*

              I so agree. If boss and The Old Man insist on using it, perhaps OP should respond that *she* has, in fact, been “triggered” by being spoken to like a naughty child. Ugh

          2. L'étrangere*

            Oh yes, the boss is the primary problem here. A week’s worth of tantrum because a young lady dared to talk back to him and the boss hasn’t stepped in, is bleating about psychological things he doesn’t understand? If you have an HR, it may be time to give them a heads up. Even if they’re of the same ilk, you need an official record of the incident for when he tries to retaliate

        3. Observer*

          This strays into the territory of only women being expected to use a “softer touch,” which is problematic.

          No. I would have had a problem with the way the OP approached it, if she were a guy as well.

          That does NOT excuse him! He was being rude, and now he’s acting with less maturity and grace than a 3 year old.

          But, I agree that the BIGGEST problem here is the manager. Even if the OP had actually yelled at the CW and called him names and done so for no reason whatsoever, the his reaction would have been problematic. The idea that he can get away with something like this because he was called out for legitimately problematic behavior in a less than perfect way is beyond absurd.

          How else is this manager failing to manage? And what other sexist ideas is he “managing” with?

          1. Quinalla*

            Agreed the manager is completely failing to manage here and is in fact making the situation 100x worse that it was. I don’t disagree with him advising OP to take a different approach next time, but apparently not have talked to the dude about why he needs to stop using young ladies and that he absolutely cannot shut out coworkers like he is, ugh.

          2. Public Sector Manager*

            I concur. Coworker acts like an ass. OP calls the coworker out on it. Coworker acts like a giant man baby. Manager blames OP.

            This is clearly a manager who doesn’t know how to manage. The coworker is low hanging fruit on the manager scale of things to address.

          3. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

            If OP were a guy she couldn’t be on the receiving end of public misogynist belittlement so I don’t know what you mean. This situation is specific to an OP perceived to be a woman.

      2. JTP*

        I think the reaction would have been the same, no matter how “soft” or blunt the message was.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreeing that this other person probably would have thrown the same tantrum either way – but using a more private approach may have made it more obvious that the coworker was being unreasonable. As it currently stands boss is managing to paint both OP and coworker as equally rude.

          1. JTP*

            If it had been addressed privately, OP might have been brushed off. In addressing it publicly, the offender gets the message that multiple people are offended by it. People who are offended by it but too nervous to address it with him also find out that others agree with them.

        2. Rose*

          Yea it’s hard to imagine a man who’s having a public temper tantrum and refusing to do his job after being called out on gross behavior would somehow be a mature adult if he had been called out in a more private, less blunt way. This guy is pathologically immature and self righteous.

      3. LW1*

        LW1 here (I was on vacation when this posted). I’d left off some details, since I wasn’t writing a book, but he’d been condescending to us in the past. He told the female co-worker to “pull her big girl panties up” and “figure it out for yourself” when asking for help with something she’d never done nor seen. I may be blunt, but this wasn’t the first instance of this.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Ok, someone really needs to lay it out for your boss that this kind of behavior is toxic, creates a hostile work environment, and is not something he can afford to be passive and permissive about in the 21st century. If he is not part of the solution, he is choosing to be part of the problem!

    3. Not Australian*

      I have been known to reply “I am neither young nor a lady” in similar circumstances, or to quote Aldonza’s “I am not a lady. I am not any *kind* of a lady.” It causes no end of confusion because the usual response is “Well, what are you then?”

        1. nobadcats*

          I was just coming in here to quote Lt. Uhura’s response to Sulu’s “I will save you, fair maiden!”

      1. ferrina*

        “What are you then?”

        …..oooh, so many great answers….

        “Rabblerouser and Socratic gadfly (TM)”
        “Your worst nightmare”
        “I am the Dread Pirate Roberts”
        “Just [Name]. One word, like Prince or Beyonce”

        1. MsM*

          One of my husband’s high school classmates’ response to a similar demand of “who do you think you are?” was “I’m Batman,” and now I keep waiting for an opportunity to use that myself.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          Well, I’m adding these into my list.

          Some of my favorites:
          FBI’s least wanted
          Cad, wastrel, and general scoundrel
          Entity of interest
          A scallywag, perhaps even a rapscallion
          A material witness to the Kennedy Assassination
          Future casualty of the Octopus Uprising

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        My very favorite Charlotte Bronte quote (and the reason for my username, actually):

        “Are you a young lady?”
        “I am a thousand times better. I am an honest woman, and as such I shall be treated.”

      3. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Last week, my co-worker and I who are both past 50 got a “You did a great job, girls!” from a guest who was at least 20 years younger than us but old enough to know better. The only thing that saved his butt was that he was on his way out the door at the time. Later, I spoke to the group leader who was embarrassed on his behalf. We didn’t hear “girls” again.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I had to tell a 42 year old female co-worker to stop calling me “girl.” She would talk about “the girls” on the team and it ticked me off.

          I finally said, in front of our boss and other teammates (maybe I should have told her in private but I didn’t like her and had told my boss not to hire her because she was incompetent and turned out I was right) that I couldn’t control what she did with other women but I would prefer if she not refer to me as “girl.”

          She got huffy and defensive but she stopped.

        2. vinegary anon*

          I have issues with adult women calling themselves girls and saying they are reclaiming the term. It just makes it easier for dudes to keep condescending while playing innocent.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          Still he torments me! How should I be a lady?! For a lady has modest and maidenly airs, and a virtue I somehow suspect that I lack.

          Truly, the answer to “Well, what are you then?” could kick off a whole (NSFW) musical number.

    4. Indigo Five Alpha*

      I think the first time it happened you *might* be able to get away with this if you said it in a questioning/incredulous voice – “thanks…. old?? man?!?!”

      But I can’t imagine he would have reacted any differently.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        Or ”thanks, late… middle-aged… man, I think?”

        Or simply ”I’m 45 and go by Patricia, for next time” in a really bland, deadpan way.

    5. BookishMiss*

      That’s how i have dealt with it when a coworker called me “young lady” multiple times.

      He doesn’t call me young lady anymore.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        I’ve responded to the “Young Lady” comment (and I’m 68 in November) with an icy stare and “Sir, I am no more a young lady than you are a young man”
        Also a lot of older men think it is cute to abbreviate one’s name and turn it into a nickname
        (think Les instead of Lesley) I turn it around call them Bobby if their name is Robert, etc.
        They reply “It’s Robert” and I respond “It’s Lesley”.
        Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

        1. eeeek*

          This reminded me of the day when one of my graduate school professors (a very nice man, and an eminent scholar in his field) called me “sweetheart” in class. He was quite elderly and had a questionable memory, but still managed to call the men by their last names – but could only muster a limited list of personal terms for the women. I was the one who responded to a question by starting with “Well, Schnookums, .” He was flummoxed, and asked me what I had called him. “Schnookums. Since we’re apparently not on a first or last name basis, but have skipped straight to personal terms like ‘sweetie,’ ‘sweetheart,’ ‘dearie,’ and ‘lovey,’ I reckoned you should get your own endearment. Is that not okay with you, too?”
          He never did it again and I still got an A in the class. (I did have a chat with the grad program chair, just in case – and she thanked me. Apparently he did this in faculty meetings as well…)

          1. Ex economist*

            Very many years ago (early 80s), when I was a student at Cambridge (UK), the story was that a couple years earlier one of the biggest name profs in the econ dept completed a long complex mathematical proof on the chalk board, turned triumphantly to the large class, focused on a female student in the front row, and said, “So! What do you think of that, my little virgin?”

            To which, the story went, the student responded by standing up, saying “Speak for yourself!” and walking out.

            True or not, he was a bit more subdued when I attended his lectures.

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              WTF, why would anyone call anyone else “little virgin?” That is just insanely creepy!

          2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            That’s a great one! No one can mistake Schnookums for simple social awkwardness!

        2. BookishMiss*

          My name can’t be shortened, but I’ve definitely responded like you to nickname attempts when i don’t go with a cold “my name is Bookish” or “never call me that please” or some such.

          I am not here for older men to belittle me by trying to cutesiefy me. I’m here to do my job.

        3. Texan In Exile*

          I used to shorten peoples’ names (I was wrong! I know!). Then, in college, I called a friend “Dave” and he replied, “Should I just call you ‘stupe?'”

          I have not done it since.

    6. I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah, ideally it’s best to call these things out before you reach the point of fed up — cause that can often make us sound harsher than we mean to.

      but it’s still on him, he should respect OP’s request nonetheless.

    7. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, I had a male colleague, Doug, who made everyone’s name into a diminutive (Jacqueline became Jackie, Barbara became Barb, etc.) even if they never went by Jackie or Barb—it legit confused me more than once. I told him (nicely) that it was weird and annoying and to please stop. He persisted. So the next time we were in a 1:1 meeting and he mentioned Barb and Jackie I said, “Okay! Thanks, Dougie!” And just like that, he stopped.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      As someone in her 50s, who works with other people in their 50s, he’s waaaaaaay young to be trying the “I’m just a courtly gentleman from a bygone era.”

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssss*

        YES. I had the same thought. “Wait, I’m in my 50s. This guy is Gen X too.” followed by the though that this guy is way too “young” to be using that phrase to 30 something coworkers.


        Calling him old man might have really caught his attention because again, as a 50-something person, I don’t feel like an old person (yet!).

      2. Lily Rowan*

        And to someone in her late 30s??? That is bananas. I’m not quite 50, and have to stop myself from thinking of early 20s colleagues as “kids,” but this guy is ridiculous.

        1. many bells down*

          My boss is FORTY and older men still call her “kiddo.” It’s bizarre and infuriating, and if I ever catch one of them doing it they’re going to hear from me. They don’t do it to me; I’m 10 years older but I don’t think that’s why. No one guesses my age correctly.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I’m over 60, and I have to catch myself referring to RCGs and people under 30 as “kids”.

          So if I refer to kids, I make sure that it refers to everyone, including myself, like “We’re all the cool kids now?” Otherwise, I treat adults as, you know, adults.

          Because even if I think many of them behave quite immaturely, calling them “kids” in earnest is insulting.

      3. somanyquestions*

        Someone who is 75 would have been 22 in 1969, in the midst of the counter-cultural revolution. They have had computers and the internet for decades. I think no one exists in the business world who could really claim to be “from another era”.

      4. Public Sector Manager*

        I’m in my 50’s, my dad’s 85, and neither one of us have said “young ladies” in the workplace ever.

      5. Artemesia*

        No kidding. There are no more passes based on ‘the way we did it then’ for grown adults doing this. I am pushing 80 and came of age in the Civil Rights era — no one still working doesn’t know about correct ways to refer to POC and women. There are no courtly old men who grew up in racist and sexist time and don’t know better. If there are, they are in their 90s and not your 55 year old co-workers.

    9. Astoria*

      He’s in his 50s?!? I was picturing some would-be courtly Colonel Sanders type.
      As a woman in my 50s, it’s jarring to hear of a man my age acting like that. Besides being condescending, he’s making himself sound older than he is.

    10. Christmas Carol*

      As Miss Manners once said, the term young lady is only used to describe a female child who has just done something horrible.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Had an opposing party call me “young lady” recently during cross examination. I objected. The judge laughed and said he didn’t know any women who objected to being called young. In retrospect, I should have called out the judge too. But at least he admonished the opposing party.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          You were smart not to call the judge out, but I understand why you would want to! I had a case before a Board where the respondent referred to one of the Board members as “young lady” (really dumb move, because he was in some serious trouble). The Board member called him out right then and there and told him she was not “young lady” but a member of the board that was determining the fate of his license to practice his profession. His license was revoked at the end (not because of that, but still … it was pretty ridiculous).

          I think I would probably burst out laughing if opposing counsel called me “young lady.” I would hope not, because it is something that should be addressed seriously, but I think I would be too taken aback to help it!

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I laugh when shocked, then have to backtrack and say, “but seriously, that is never okay to say. Just no.”

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              Oh yeah, I do that too, but I just wish I did not immediately burst out laughing! Better than breaking into tears I guess …

        2. DefinitelyOverIt*

          I’m definitely in the “escalation to make a point” camp on this one.

          Call me “sweetie” or “darlin'” (we’re in the Southern U.S. and this is common), and you’re gonna hear me come back with an even more annoying Term of Endearment. I have definitely called an older male Opposing Counsel “sugar tits” after being referred to as “now look here, darlin’.”

          If they try to shorten my name or call me anything other than “Ms. Lastname” or “counsel” when I haven’t specifically told them to “just call me Firstname,” I call them the most youthful diminutive of their first name, and often add another lil spoonful of condescension so they don’t think it was accidental. Something like “Oh wow, Willy, that is such a good point! Thank you so much! I can tell you really do your research!!”

          I told my last boss, who called me “young lady” exactly once that “even my father isn’t allowed to call me that, old man.” And once, after a man gave me the once-over while shaking my hand and told me that I was “prettier than he expected,” I stayed around after Court to ask him how he felt to “have pretty kick your a$$ just now?”

          I’m 42 years old. This is a fight my GRANDMOTHER was in close to 20 years before I was even born. I’m not playing nice or asking. I’m just giving back exactly the energy I get.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Wow, I am 41, also a lawyer, and have definitely not had as much of that nonsense from opposing counsel or my bosses! But I am definitely saving up some of these responses for when I do encounter it!

        3. Artemesia*

          Decades ago a friend of my husbands who is a lawyer had the judge say ‘Thank you sweetheart’ when she finished her presentation. She went up to him after the trial and told him that when he used this kind of familiarity publicly with a woman lawyer, it diminishes her authority in front of the client and jury. He acknowledge her and stopped doing it. It was one of those southern things that older men did unthinkingly then. It really was the way he came up. BUT when it was pointed out, he apologized, said he hadn’t thought about it and stopped doing it. That is how a grown man acts when he gets feedback.

      2. FrivYeti*

        I can imagine it from someone who is (a) at least fifty years older than the woman in question, (b) does not know the woman’s name and definitely does not work with her, (c) is a slightly anachronistic British gentleman, and (d) is being polite rather than trying to issue a correction of any kind.

        Basically I’m just thinking of Stephen Fry in Sandman right now.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think it is most often used in reference to a clearly very old lady and is just one more way of treating an old woman as if she were childish.

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Or to say something nice to a little girl, like, “oh, you’ve grown so much since I saw you last! You are quite the young lady now!”

    11. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, I’m in my late 50s, barely, and I’d never think of using that expression. And ‘triggered’? What? Dude’s a jerk.

    12. Another JD*

      My early thirties coworker was being called “young lady” in open court by opposing counsel. When it was her turn, she called him “the elderly gentleman”. The judge just smirked.

    13. Beebs*

      I had a coworker who did the same thing. I tried a couple of approaches–first joking (“No one’s called me that since I wore short socks with ruffles!”–dating myself there, I’m sure), then a bit more direct and finally with a straight up request to stop doing it because it came off as very disrespectful of my experience and title (which was higher middle management). That last one happened before a meeting with a couple of other people in the room. He hemmed and hawed for a second about how he didn’t mean anything by it but it didn’t happen again. He was at most 10 years older than I was, and I was in my mid-40s at the time. I think he thought it was a compliment, honestly–“Well, hello, young lady!” He was otherwise fine to work with so it was just baffling to me why he thought that was a good approach.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I think some men do think it is complimentary, as Alison said, but they need to learn. It sounds like you handled this well, trying to address it lightheartedly but clearly, then privately and directly, and finally with others present. I think LW1 went to step 3 a bit more quickly than is ideal.

    14. DiamondDogs*

      When I got the ‘young lady’ comment (I’m 58) it was in the context of asking how I was. However, after dealing with this old fart for 10 years, I finally snapped “I’m fine sweetheart, how are you?” and I thought his eyes would bug out.

    15. Anon4This*

      I’m so inured to this sort of bullshit that I don’t even hear it anymore. When I was working from home, my husband pointed out to me that, on a call with several very senior-level people, one of them kept referring to me as or calling me “gal” to the point that he considered coming in and saying something. Honestly, I hadn’t even noticed it. (And I did tell my husband to never to “white knight” interfere with my work, regardless of how good his intentions are.)

      I would support and cheer on a coworker who called someone out on this sort of thing.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I watched the Jennifer Lopez documentary on Netflix last night. She said that Ben Affleck (back in Bennifer.1) was shocked that she didn’t get angrier at the insults and disrespect she got.

        She told him that he, a white man, almost always got respect but that she was 1. a woman and 2. Latina, so was used to being discounted.

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Good for you for telling your husband not to interfere. I know he would be coming from a good place, but he would actually undermine you and you would lose respect from those colleagues.

        I admit that I too probably do not hear it as much as it happens. But I also know my male colleagues all respect me. And my office is much more heavily female than male, actually, so it probably does not happen as much here as in other work environments!

    16. Momma Bear*

      He’s being childish. He may also have crossed the line on harassment at work – look into your local laws about it. We recently did a training where it was said that pervasive comments about one’s age or gender could possibly be illegal/considered harassment/reportable to HR. This guy might be lucky no one’s taken it that far.

      In the meantime, I’d note every time his inability to behave like a grown up has impacted the team’s ability to work. CC that boss that thinks that this guy being called out is “triggering” and acceptable vs the rest of the team putting up with being called demeaning things day after day. Regardless of whether or not the boss thinks the dude was right, this new behavior of not doing a part of his job needs to be addressed.

    17. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I think OP needs to stay away from him. Any apology will come across as saying it was all her fault. No, the boss needs to deal with this by telling him that he needs to do his job and cooperate with his colleagues. The boss can say that he talked to LW1 and mentioned that calling him out publicly was not the best approach, but that he agrees with LW1 on the larger issue, and the guy needs to be more cognizant of how he speaks to people in the workplace, especially female colleagues going forward. Also, boss needs to tell the guy that his reaction is wildly inappropriate and unprofessional and is a poor approach to workplace conflict.

      And the boss needs to apologize to LW1 for his wording in saying she “triggered” the guy, which is especially loaded wording given the context. Boss needs to explain that although he does not feel she handled it in the best way by addressing it publicly, he understands that her concerns are valid and he is talking to the guy about the issue and taking it seriously.

      But my guess is that the boss is not going to do any of that, because he is an even bigger problem than the guy who is throwing the hissy fit!

    18. David R.*

      One potentially complicating part here is that, in the US, age discrimination is EEOC-protected, but *only for people over 40*.

      This’d probably fall into “simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious”, but if a company’s being cautious about anything in this space it might be taken as more serious.

      * Not saying this is just, or a good state of things, but if he’s reacting that strongly I wouldn’t put it past him to try and lean on this legal asymmetry.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        It’s interesting. I often get younger people saying “why is it discrimination to deny older people a job based on the age, but not younger people? Waaah, it’s not faaaair!”

        My response now? “Younger people get older, so the problem is solved by time. But older people can’t get younger, so it becomes an immutable characteristic. Once you are 40, you will always be either ‘over 40’, or dead. Under 30 corrects itself.”

        It is still not appropriate for older people to condescend to younger people, and definitely not appropriate for men to condescend to women. “Young Lady” is both.

    19. Young One*

      I had a nightmare situation recently where the service manager of the car dealership I just bought a car from would call me young lady when i pushed back on his lies. I asked him twice to stop the condescension and he did it again. I solely called him Old Man from then on. Its almost crazy how quickly he realized he did not like being spoken to like that

    20. She of Many Hats*

      Even better…Okay Boomer.

      But, yeah, leadership should have your back on this one if he’s being petulant about working in any way with those who called him out for poor behavior.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        LOL, I had someone do that to me, and I am at the tail end of Gen X or very beginning of Millennials! And no, it was not over anything to do with politics, or with calling the person “young lady” or anything else emphasizing age (I think she was not much younger than me, and I am always told I actually look young for my age, so it made no sense at all, but it was really irritating)!

    21. Despachito*

      But this would unfortunately likely give him ammunition to say “she was nasty to me”, and be sort of right.

      My experience is that if you respond rudely to someone’s rudeness, people often stop distinguishing who started it, and they perceive it just as two rude people exchanging rudeness.

      I’ve been there, and felt it as a large injustice (as from my POV, I was just responding to long-term pestering).

      If the attacked person does this, it would be understandable but it would be more tactical to remain professional, if she can manage it.

    22. Avril Ludgateaux*

      The problem with “thanks, old man” is that age is a protected class by the EEOA… But only in one direction, i.e. people 40+. So mocking, disparaging, or otherwise discriminating against somebody for their perceived youth is A-OK, but biting back to that, in kind, in a way that targets “older” workers, would get the LW in pretty big trouble, from a “hostile workplace” perspective.

    1. HBJ*

      Me, too! I don’t know how the company’s drug testing program works or even if they have one, but if they do, there’s certainly paperwork that can be done to pull someone for a test if a supervisor suspects drug use.

    2. PsychNurse*


      It seems weird to me that they hired him because of his online presence, and then immediately told him to stop having an online presence!

      1. MK*

        Not really. They didn’t hire him “for” his online presence, aka in order to utilize it, it was just proof of his interest and knowledge. And it isn’t unreasonable to fear that there might problems. E.g. if you have a successful YouTube channel analyzing Star Wars, and you get a job working on the next SW film, it would be natural that your channel was a factor in your getting hired, but equally understandable that they might not want you, as an employee, talking about the IP in a public forum.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Year ago when I wrote a food column I would occasionally mention a name brand product that I used and liked. When I got a food related job I stopped because I didn’t want the vendors to feel I was endorsing the competition.

        2. L'étrangere*

          I’d also like to point out that OP2’s friend might think he can get away with continuing his online life, and could well get away with it for a while. But sooner or later he’ll be tired, or distracted, or even mad, and he’ll say a wrong thing. Because he too is human. And then he’ll get summarily fired, because he’s been warned. And because he’ll have been fired for good public cause from the prominent company in his industry, he’ll never get hired again by anything adjacent. Sigh. A sad waste

    3. Elena*

      Theres just something about the short, matter of factness of the question that makes one wonder

      Also, everything about this feels like retail, imo. (Or possible food service.) I am struggling to picture a boss in an office job going around and “going around” and asking vartious people if one of their coworkers is on drugs

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        This. I’m wondering if the manager is on drugs.

        I work with someone who’s flaky as all get-out. If she weren’t a well-educated middle-aged woman in an office (who is clearly just naturally odd) but a young person in the service industry, I could see someone asking this question of her.

            1. whingedrinking*

              It reminds me of the bit in Slings and Arrows where the admin director Anna – a very soft-spoken and non-confrontational woman – goes to talk to the stage manager and starts sort of vaguely asking about where to get pot. The SM says, “What, you think I’m the kind of person who’s on drugs all the time or something?!” Anna hastily says she wasn’t trying to insinuate that at all, oh god no! “Good, because my guy’s out of town and my stash is running low, so I’m afraid I can’t help you.”

        1. EPLawyer*

          But you don’t ask OTHERS the question. That’s not good management. If you suspect someone is on drugs, you observe their behavior, or you follow whatever your company’s policy is. You don’t ask others to “build up your case.”

          1. somanyquestions*

            Right? Going around the office saying “do any of you think OP is on drugs?” is so bizarre and inappropriate no matter how much they think it’s true.

          2. Hannah Lee*

            Yeah, at most you might ping co-workers in a general sense. “How have your work interactions been with Harley recently, any changes? any issues?” or maybe more “how’s the TPS reporting process going lately?” if Harley the glass-eyed happens to work on it with the person being questioned.

        2. KoiFeeder*

          Eh, I’m young and naturally odd (though I do data entry, not retail) and on the occasions where someone has felt the need to ask me if I’m on drugs (thankfully, this has not happened at work) they just ask directly.

      2. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Well, if its a toxic place I can see it. When I worked at a call center someone lost their tin with their weed in the bathroom and the managers were going around asking about it. They even announced it over the speaker saying if anyone lost anything to come to the front desk. I knew who it was, but I wasn’t going to say anything.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            It happens. See also: person calling cops on drug dealer who gave them a bad deal.

          2. calonkat*

            There was a young man in a small town who broke into a store. He took off his tshirt (got hot while committing crime?) and left it there. The store ran an ad in the paper about the “lost” shirt. He showed up to collect it. The police station was 2 blocks away :)

            So I do believe someone would show up to collect a “found tin box, blue markings on top, left in bathroom”

      3. The OTHER other*

        Interesting, my first thought was it might be in a restaurant. Maybe my perspective is skewed by tales of people who worked in restaurants in the 80’s when it seems they were awash in coke (probably outdated). Made for some great stories, though.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          I also thought “restaurant” – not necessarily because of the stereotype of everyone being on drugs* but just because of how much more casual management tends to be compared to office work hierarchy. I can think of a bunch of times that a manager asked that question both in a joking way as well as a concerned one.

          The way to approach it in a restaurant setting would be very, very different than the AP function of a major corporation. For example, a “stop asking people if I’m on drugs dude! You want some or what?” would have been a perfectly effective way of dealing with this at some of my gigs.

          *if we’re defining pot as a drug, then certainly not everyone is doing drugs but showing up to a shift high is certainly much more of a norm than in other industries.

        2. Velociraptor Attack*

          To be fair, I worked in restaurants in the 2010s and that…. hadn’t changed much for front of house while back of house was mostly weed in the places I worked, except for the executive chef, who was usually on coke.

      4. SofiaDeo*

        I was working in a hospital, and my boss called to tell me a nurse had called him, saying I smelled like alcohol. I offered to go to the ER and take a blood test; I had been out dancing (not too late) the night before, hadn’t showered, and must have “smelled like bar”. So with marijuana being used (legally or not) I can see where, as Alison pointed out, if one smelled of MMJ or alcohol, one might make the assumption that a person was “using”.

  2. Skates*

    Idk Alison. With a coworker who is this obnoxious and also very senior I would be very worried that a private conversation would either make me a personal target or be dismissed completely (and apparently, I would not be wrong!) I feel like without knowing how he would react the private call-out comes with as much or even more risk to LW.

      1. The OTHER other*

        His temper tantrum, giving the entire team the silent treatment, tells us everything we need to know about this guy.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I tend to agree. But the real problem isn’t the condescending coworker, it’s the laissez-faire manager who refuses to do anything about it.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            I agree. The manager is also a problem and doesn’t seem to be addressing it, either because they don’t agree with LW or their approach or because it’s not been made a problem they need to solve.
            LW I would give a brief, sincere apology to your colleague for raising it in a public setting as it was probably worded more confrontational than it needed to be.
            I would also let your manager know you’re apologising for how you said it but not the gist of what you said. Then ask for their support in shutting this behaviour down because of course they would want to stop sexist comments against their employees. Make it his problem to solve too.

            1. paxfelis*

              While it may be a good tactic, it really burns me up that a public insult is supposed to be met with a private and conciliatory correction.

            2. My Useless 2 Cents*

              Sorry but I think a public offense should be met with a public apology and this in no way merits a public apology. LW should NOT apologize. She may have been blunt and there may have been better ways to address it (although I tend to disagree about that) but she was not wrong to call it out.

              1. Storm in a teacup*

                I agree with you that she shouldn’t have to apologise for correcting his sexist behaviour and deserves an apology herself for having to deal with it, which is where making it a problem for her manager to solve comes in.
                Equally speaking to him privately to state that ‘how’ she handled it wasn’t ideal is more to preserve the working relationship. It will also allow her to reiterate the ‘what’ of her comments to him again so he doesn’t get to tantrum his way out of having to accept valid critique. Someone has to take a mature approach and clearly this chap is not. So why doesn’t she capitalise on this by using it as an opportunity to demonstrate to her manager her professionalism and also force him to deal with sexism in the team.

                1. My Useless 2 Cents*

                  I don’t see how she is behaving childishly. She called out a coworker over a sexist remark during an in-house department meeting. Placating a man-child throwing a tantrum is not professional or mature.

          2. yala*

            The manager’s use of the word “triggered” in *this* context gives me some Questions about the manager themselves…

          3. Rose*

            Yea, allowing someone to not do their job/ give their team the silent treatment because they were “triggered” by being called out on bad behavior is the worlds largest red flag. I just cannot imagine this is a functioning team/workplace.

          4. Observer*

            But the real problem isn’t the condescending coworker, it’s the laissez-faire manager who refuses to do anything about it.

            To be honest, I don’t think that the manager is actually being “laissez-faire” here. I think he’s actively making a choice to protect misbehavior. Because allowing this kind of behavior to go on AND *blaming the OP for it!* just makes no sense. It “laissez-faire” would be bad, very bad, but it would more like “you need to figure this out”, rather than “You did this very bad thing in response to rudeness and it’s all your fault that CW is not MIA.”

          5. Lydia*

            I can see that. If the manager was actually good, then the OP wouldn’t have had to say anything. At this point, however, it’s definitely a one-two punch of awfulness.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          That part blew me away. Why is the boss criticizing the LW when this guy is sulking and acting like a toddler because he’s embarrassed? He’s flat out refusing to work with his team. None of that is on the LW

      2. Sabine the Very Mean*

        I agree public is better here though I would’ve waited for the opportunity to correct him when he called me that rather than coworker. And I’d change it to, “please don’t call me young lady, Ken” and then launch into my response to whatever without letting him in at all so it also takes away his best chance to woe. Next time he says it, drop the please.

        1. Two rudes don't make a polite*

          This. Times a million. I love this blog, but one thing that I often find disturbing is the advice to call people rude. (Which Alison did not do in response to this LW, but has often enough in the past.) Miss Manners does not recommend that and says it is rude to call others rude. I agree. A simple “please don’t call me that” would suffice. And if he continues, drop the please. And if he continues after that, get your manager involved. No need for very rude, very public excoriations. Neither his sexist condescension, nor his insane reaction makes what she did ok.

          1. ant*

            That is interesting, I have read for years and don’t think of that as something I’ve seen recommended here.

            1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              Me too – I’m not saying I have total recall, but I feel like the classic AAM recommendation goes something like “…and if that doesn’t work, try saying ‘Wow’ or ‘It’s weird that you keep saying this after I’ve told you to stop’ – you might feel rude, but the other person is the one who’s broken the social contract by being rude”. So I feel like the advice is that if the other person is being rude, you can push through your own sense that YOU are being rude to call them on their behaviour… but not often to actually say “you’re being rude”.

              1. Dark Macadamia*

                Yeah, Alison often reassures LWs about how they might *feel* rude speaking up or validates their sense that the other person is *being* rude but I can’t think of an example where her advice has been to *call* someone rude to their face!

          2. The Prettiest Curse*

            Well, frankly Miss Manners is absolutely full of it, not to mention that she herself is often rude and condescending to the people who write into her column.

            Ideally, of course you wouldn’t be rude to rude people. But sometimes rude people don’t get stunned into changing their behaviour until someone is rude back to them. Of course, being rude, they often won’t care anyway or will do the kind of thing that the OP’s colleague is doing. But strategic rudeness is still a good tactic to keep on hand as a nuclear option for rude people.

            1. LiptonT4me*

              But at the same time, men in particular take things being said bluntly as being rude. At times, no matter how it is said, women just can’t win.

              1. ferrina*

                Yeah….I’ve def seen “rude” used as a euphamism for “you called me out on bad behavior and I didn’t want to be called out, I just wanted to keep behaving badly and have no consequences. I don’t like that you are stopping me from behaving badly without consequence.”

            2. Julia*

              When a colleague is rude to you, which would you rather hear from colleagues and higher-ups? “Oh, Bob and Jane are having one of their interpersonal conflicts again, why can’t they get along”? Or “Jane says Bob has been rude to her and given her reputation as a model of professional conduct I’m inclined to believe her; we have a Bob problem”?

              Your suggested “eye for an eye” approach will get you the former result. The latter is preferable.

              In this particular case, no one had even told the guy to knock it off before, so it was not yet time to be brusque anyway.

              1. Rose*

                Yes, it was. If he had been addressing them as hoes in the office no one would think twice about her blunting calling him out. This “I was just being chivalrous” brand of sexism is especially insidious in the workplace and deserves to be called out for what it is.

              2. Observer*

                In this particular case, no one had even told the guy to knock it off before, so it was not yet time to be brusque anyway.

                Do you really hold men in such contempt? I’m not really being snarky here. Because the only way a competent adult could NOT realize that the way he was talking was offensive was if he’d been totally out of commission since his teens or is terminally clueless. Neither seems possible given his role and history at the company.

                Which means that if it’s believable that he just didn’t realize it would seem to be because men just are too stupid and clueless to understand that a term that is used in the particular way that the OP clearly described is going to be offensive to people.

                1. SofiaDeo*

                  I disagree. People enabling him previously is what has allowed him to do it for so long. Sexism against women has been rising in the past decades, and since Covid it’s becoming much more flagrant. I am in Camp He Knows Better. Calling an adult has been a sign of contempt for years and years. Remember how certain men used to refer to male underlings of any age as “Boy”? It was always, always a power play and attempt to put them “in their place”.

                2. Julia*

                  I think my meter on this is probably just calibrated differently from yours! I’ve been called “young lady” before and while I was annoyed, nobody was gasping in horror and I didn’t consider the offender terminally clueless.

              3. Lydia*

                Yeah…no. It’s time to get over the idea that returning the rudeness is sinking to anyone’s level. This is another way to silence people who are fed up with the sexism, racism, and ableism they face every day. If people don’t want to be called out for poor behavior in public or private, they should refrain from behaving poorly.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Alison is more likely to recommend “that’s weird” rather than “that’s rude”. Which I understand to be short for “it’s weird that you’re being so very rude”, and I’m sure that the message is put across well, especially if you use the right tone.

          4. Someone Else's Boss*

            I disagree. In a work setting, it’s important for people to know how their behavior is being perceived. If someone is offended that they’re being called out, that’s their cross to bear.

          5. Observer*

            I love this blog, but one thing that I often find disturbing is the advice to call people rude.

            I don’t think that this is actually true. Some examples would be nice.

            1. Two rudes don't make a polite*

              Here are some examples of Alison recommending that the LW call someone rude, as a script. But you are correct. In a search for what I thought was the most usual phrasing “Wow, that was rude” I got far more results for commenters recommending using that language. But I did get plenty of times Alison recommended it. Here are 5.






              1. Observer*

                Actually, no. You found 5 from over a decade – and they mostly aren’t even the primary recommendation. Hardly “often”.

                Dealing with a rude coworker – Alison doesn’t even provide a script that specifies that someone is rude for most types of interactions.

                Coworkers trashing people in another language- The advice is not to call people rude, but to let them know that people can actually hear and understand their rudeness. And again, the first suggestion doesn’t even explicitly mention the rudeness.

                Cranky coworker – that’s not Alison’s script. “That comes off sounding rude” is not the same as telling someone they are rude, and Alison also advises try just saying “Wow”.

                Trust fund Baby – yes, that’s a primary script. So, you found an extra-ordinary response to a (fortunately) extra-ordinary situation.

                Chronic illness – that’s one of several possible scripts, and the last one. And if the others don’t work then it is time to deploy that.

                The bottom line, calling someone rude is not something that Alison frequently recommends.

                1. Two rudes don't make a polite**

                  Bottom line is you read my post wrong.

                  I said I often find it disturbing, not that she says it often. See the quote from me you quoted above. Fact is, as I said to you when you asked for examples, most times it seems to be commenters doing it, but Alison certainly has given that advice, not shied away from using it, even when offering a post just with scripts on how to deal with a rude co-worker.

                  In her actual post specifically dealing with general advice on how to deal with a rude co-worker, Alison specifies to refer to the person as rude as one option. I think it is not necessary, ever, to call someone rude in a work environment. Alison apparently disagrees. You can too! But gaslighting is not useful either. She has, and does, recommend calling people rude. I never said how often she does it – I said it often bothers me when I see it on this blog. Does it bother me Sometimes? Often? Occasionally? Irrelevant. The point is I don’t think the LW was professional when she called this rude, condescending, guy rude and condescending. Disagree? Fine by me.

          6. Librarian of SHIELD*

            There are two kinds of “rudeness,” though. There’s the minor rudeness of not “having manners” (like eating with your fingers at a fancy dinner party), which you wouldn’t call someone on because to do so would be even more rude than what that person is doing.

            The other kind of rudeness is treating people badly because you can. That rudeness can and should be pointed out because it does actual harm to other people in a way that a lack of table manners does not. OP’s coworker is this kind of rude, and based on his reaction I have no good opinion of him whatsoever.

            1. Grammar Penguin*

              “The other kind of rudeness is treating people badly because you can.”

              And the only reason you can, or think you can, is because you’ve not faced immediate consequences for it before, like being publicly called on it in the moment.

          7. Just Me*

            Miss Manners is giving advice on how to be polite, not how to advance your career and make the best decisions for your work-life.

            Suggesting a woman should take career advice from Miss Manners is a special level of sexist I really hoped we were past in 2022.

            1. Two rudes don't make a polite*

              I never suggested taking career advice from Miss Manners. I suggested I agree with her that calling people rude to their face is rude itself. In my view, as a rabid feminist, and lesbian woman, being rude does not advance one’s career. Neither does taking sexist condescending BS lying down. There is a middle ground.

              Alison is often, correctly, in my view, talking about being professional at work. Speaking of things as “of course they would want to fix this blatant xyz,” in a calm tone, as if one was talking about a broken printer. Some of those things are huge salary disparities between white straight men and everyone else, (so important, sexist, racist, things that have an effect on the life, retirement, and everything of the employee.) Why anyone should think that some jerk who calls women “young lady” should get anything less than the coldest, most professional, “do not call me that”, instead of being called rude, which is namecalling, and in my view unprofessional, especially when the stern approach of setting limits on unacceptable behavior keeps LW taking the high road and looking beyond reproach, is beyond me.

              1. Just Me*

                Well, I hope you can rest assured it’s not beyond a lot of us. It’s perfectly within the bounds of professionalism to respond to rudeness by pointing out the person is being rude. You don’t have to hurl it at them with malice and anger, but you can professionally and calmly say to someone “that was rude.” without being rude yourself. (And frankly, if you don’t agree with that – please let me know how anyone is ever made aware they are rude if telling them isn’t an option.)

                “I love this blog, but one thing that I often find disturbing is the advice to call people rude. (Which Alison did not do in response to this LW, but has often enough in the past.) Miss Manners does not recommend that and says it is rude to call others rude. ”

                This part of your comment makes it sound like you’re suggesting people who are coming to a blog about career advice should be listening to Miss Manners’ advice on how to advance their career.

              2. Summer*

                @two rudes don’t make a polite

                Telling someone they are rude is not name-calling – that is literally describing how they are behaving.

              3. SofiaDeo*

                This! And no “please do not call me that”. It’s not an option, you aren’t asking. Just a simple “don’t call me names other than my own” “don’t call me that” “don’t call me/us a guy/guys” (for the ubiquitous “you guys”) etc. is more effective since the boss can’t call out the person saying this. He’s name calling, you respond with a “stop”.

              4. One of the Annes*

                I very much agree with your approach, Two Rudes. I think telling someone who’s rude, “You’re rude,” generally makes the person saying that look unprofessional and childish. At that point, you’ve gotten down to the rude person’s level. It diminishes one’s point.

            1. Two rudes don't make a polite*

              She didn’t say that. She said it was rude and condescending, in public, on a meeting with 5 people, having never before asked him to stop with the usual language. (You know, Jim, please don’t call me young lady. Then dropping the please, then taking it to management.) The standard procedure for dealing with jerks or inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

            2. SofiaDeo*

              Pointing out misbehavior/ill manners in public is generally considered rude in social settings. I also disagree with this being considered rude, since there are an increasing number of people nowadays who act like they are the only people who matter, everyone else is here to serve them, and our thoughts/feelings don’t matter. As opposed to even pretending to a veneer of civility.

          8. She of Many Hats*

            There’s a difference between saying “you are rude for saying/doing X” and “X is a rude thing to say/do”. The first blames the person. The second names the action as inappropriate but allows the person to save face if they choose to do so by apologizing or acknowledging they didn’t know better. Many etiquette and advice columns advise using the second approach.
            The other issue is when women point out inappropriate behavior or errors like the LW did, they are expected to soften it with platitudes like “I’m sure you didn’t mean it” or “In case you didn’t know…” or be viewed as rude themselves. Men can say “Really?!? Did you call me X?” in all sorts of vocal tones without repercussions.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          Yes, I wish LW had waited to address it when he was talking to her rather than someone else. Jumping in to defend her coworker AND over explaining the “why” made this seem much more confrontational than it really needed to be, even though LW is completely right on principle

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Yep. His use of the word triggered suggests to me he’s mocking OP for calling him out. He gives off major “you can’t even tell a woman to smile anymore!” vibes. F this guy. He’s being a child.

        2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          You may be right, but then at least LW1 would be in an unimpeachable position.

          1. ferrina*

            Or in an unproveable position. Given the extreme response this guy is having, he might have retaliated to even being called out in a private conversation. Suddenly leaving LW off critical emails, spreading rumors, spinning the story….and LW would have no way to prove what she said.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Yes. This guy seems like someone who retaliates. I might have worded things a little differently but I don’t fault OP for calling him out publicly and I understand why she was heated in her delivery.

            2. Observer*

              Or in an unproveable position.


              I normally agree with Alison on doing this stuff in private. But this guys extreme over-reaction says that it could have backfired. And the Boss’ reaction says that he would have back CW no matter what.

              1. LW1*

                LW1 here. He has dirty deleted everything he’s said via chat, and to be honest is a bit of a loose cannon. Honestly, saying it with the team listening is the best scenario. Especially sticking up for my co-worker.

                1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                  OK, it sounds like you had enough history and understanding of the situation to make a strategic call about it being public, but start screenshotting everything he says in chat before he can delete any of it. Also, send your boss a follow-up email in writing to go over what happened and clarify what his expectations are from you and what he intends to do about the ongoing situation. If he tries to then address it verbally with you, have the conversation and then thank him and then send him an email going over everything he said to you and asking him to please reply if there is any misunderstanding. You need to get everything documented, even if you worry it might escalate, because it is already going that direction.

                2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                  Ok, you need to screen shot anything he says and save it before he can delete it, and you need to start putting things between you and your boss in writing, by email. If it is a verbal communication, put it in an email “commemorating” your conversation and asking him to reply if there are any clarifications he wants to make. I know it may feel like you are escalating things, but they are already looking rather precarious. Better to CYA!

            3. Tracy Flick*

              Of course he would have. He’s a sexist jerk and nobody is reining him in. She’s better off having raised it in public – if she had spoken to him privately, he would be retaliating against her and she would have much less proof that it is retaliation.

              I’m honestly a bit surprised that Alison didn’t cover that aspect of this.

              This extreme hostility is occurring in response to a reasonable good-faith concern about sexism, raised in a professional and respectful if not friendly way.

              She complained about behavior that she considered to be sexist. Now he is icing her out at work and refusing to share in work – to a degree that is making it difficult for her do her job.

              That’s illegal. Retaliation is prohibited by the same laws that make sexism illegal, and employers care about it because it usually creates a much stronger case.

              I think she should go to HR immediately, lay all this out, and ask if she is expected to simply live with this textbook retaliation given that her manager has been alerted to the problem and is refusing to intervene. If they have any sense, they will step in – this is a strict liability issue.

          2. Rose*

            Women being in “an unimpeachable position” because theyre always SO polite to all the men who are sexist, condescending assholes gets them nowhere in their careers. This is an adult man throwing a public temper tantrum because he was told rude behavior is rude, whose boss is backing him. This was never going to end well because OP was so nice and polite.

        3. Julia*

          I don’t think that follows, actually. I imagine the guy is feeling embarrassed and defensive and that’s where this temper tantrum is coming from. It’s entirely possible that a polite request behind closed doors, delivered with a smile, would have worked fine on him. It’s all speculation anyway, but I don’t think we can jump to the conclusion that there really was no better way to tackle this.

          That said, I don’t really think he’s worth wasting a lot of mental energy on. He’s clearly childish.

          1. WellRed*

            I agree, he’s embarrassed and reacting to that. Not sure what by so many comments are assuming saying something in private wouldn’t have helped.

              1. Julia*

                The rest of us have also been there and done that with regard to tackling sexist behavior and phrases in the workplace.

                By which I mean: you are drawing conclusions about how he’d react based on your experience with other men, and so am I. My own experience is that some people really do respond very differently depending on how they’re approached, including people as childish as this guy.

                I think basically, be careful about the assumption that when someone else has a different idea about how to tackle sexism it must mean they haven’t “been there”.

            1. Observer*

              I agree, he’s embarrassed and reacting to that. Not sure what by so many comments are assuming saying something in private wouldn’t have helped.

              Because reasonable adults do NOT react this way to being embarrassed!

              Adults don’t throw week long temp[er tantrums, give people the silent treatment, retaliate against ENTIRE TEAMS for the actions of one person, and essentially refuse to do their job. In fact, most children don’t even react this extremely to embarrassment.

            2. Lydia*

              He can be as embarrassed or defensive as he wants. He doesn’t get to avoid feeling uncomfortable. That’s not how this works. And his reaction shows he wouldn’t have responded well. A mature person would have apologized to the OP for letting it get to the point where she called him out in public.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Boo hoo. He didn’t want to be embarassed at work he shouldn’t have called a grown co-worker “young lady.” this isn’t about his feelings. This is about treating your colleagues like grown ups. And reacting like a grown up when you do receive feedback.

            1. Julia*

              It seems impossible to have a conversation where we even. *mention* the existence of someone’s emotions without someone jumping up to say “that’s no excuse for the behavior!!” Yes. We know that. This conversation is on an entirely different level from that, and literally nobody is trying to excuse his behavior in this thread. This is tiresome.

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                There’s only one thing that’s tiresome, and that’s the fact that men have been dong this and getting away with it for centuries. If a woman wants discuss problematic language privately with a man, that’s great; that’s her prerogative. But if someone’s fed up with this absolute BS and embarrasses him with a public call out, good for her!!

                1. Lydia*

                  This. So worn out by the “but think how he feels” when he has given no thought to how anyone else feels.

              2. Observer*

                Well, if you are not TRYING to excuse his behavior, why are you actually excusing the behavior.

                Claiming that the OP is at fault here, or that the CW is legitimately “embarrassed” by an “over-reaction” to stuff that he could have legitimately not realized is a problem are all justifications for behavior that should be putting his job in jeopardy.

                1. Julia*

                  The nuance in my comments seems to be missing from this take. Saying that LW might have been more successful if she’d approached him privately is not saying she’s at fault – it’s the same thing multiple other people here are saying. Describing this guy as embarrassed and defensive is not the same thing as saying he’s “legitimately” embarrassed. And not once did I say LW was overreacting; in fact I lauded her for speaking up.

                  The only characterization I agree with is that I did say this guy might not have realized his language was a problem before the first time he was alerted to it. That, of course, is speculation, and people are free to speculate in the opposite direction.

                  I will say that I’ve had multiple interactions with you on this platform, Observer, and I often feel some hostility in our interactions. If I’ve done something to offend you, I apologize. I hope that although we often disagree, we can do so without rancor.

              3. Roland*

                That, plus this comment section also has a serious problem of replying to deeply nested comments while ignoring the context of the thread they’re in. Just completely ignoring that you posted your comment in response to someone who was making assumptions first. But no, any comment that isn’t “this guy sucks” must be excusing him I guess…

                1. Observer*

                  That’s actually not the case. People are responding to the fact that Julia keeps on insisting that this guy might actually be reacting to legitimate embarrassment because he legitimately didn’t know that “young lady” is an inappropriate form of address in this context, and the OP should have realized that he might be this deeply clueless and spared his feelings.

                2. Roland*

                  I haven’t seen any comments where they excuse the guy’s behavior. Explanation is not excusing. There’s a difference between “X might have gotten different/better results” and “this is your fault OP and the guy is off the hook”. They’ve been incredibly clear imo but folks will misinterpret anything that isn’t perceived to be on OP’s “side”.

                3. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  If someone is in a two-week long snit/quiet treatment after being called out for being sexist, it’s pretty clear that they’re not a reasonable person. Therefore, it really doesn’t make sense to be a Monday morning quarterback and suggest that OP could have had a “softer touch”.

        4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Oh, very probably. But we know that because we know how he reacted to being corrected in public. OP didn’t know how he’d react to being corrected until she’d actually done it.

          Public correction wasn’t wrong, but it was a tactical error.

      3. Sloanicota*

        I think I agree. It’s possible there’s a way to say “nicely” one on one, “Doug, would you mind not calling me that? I’d rather you just refer to me as Suzie” and then if you lost it in the meeting he’d at least feel like he’d been warned. But he’s already been so unreasonable, and his reaction here is over-the-top, and it’s really weird that the boss is taking his side, so I’m not optimistic.

        1. Worldwalker*

          “Would you mind”? Yes he would; he likes what he’s doing. My guess is that he feels threatened in some way by the OP (competence?) and this is a putdown with plausible deniability.

          “I’d rather.” But he doesn’t care what she prefers, or he wouldn’t have been doing that in the first place. He’d rather keep on with exactly what he’s doing. And his opinion is the only one that counts.

          But the elephant in the room is that manager

          1. Sloanicota*

            Right, I doubt it would have actually worked to keep Doug from continuing this, but the point is that now you’re “on record” having made this request, directly, at least once; because in the eyes of the (shady) manager, OP has damaged her point by seemingly going off in public with no warning.

        2. Lydia*

          “Would you mind” and “I would rather” implies he has a choice and, no, he does not. Stop softening the language. If the OP spoke to him in private, she still would have had to be firm. “Do not call me young lady.”

          1. Curmudgeon in California*


            I’m sick of people perceived as women being expected to put every jerk’s feelings ahead of their own.

            I’m sick of people perceived as women being expected to soft pedal criticism or requests for basic courtesy!

            Just because a person is perceived as a woman does not automatically make them a #@%^&# doormat!

    1. Middle Name Danger*

      Agreed. Rude coworker can’t make claims about the LW being unreasonable or confrontational since everyone heard the request firsthand. It also lets the rest of the team, who have been letting it slide, that it’s not okay.

      Refusing to talk to the team over this is so incredibly childish and any decent boss would be reprimanding him even if they also reprimanded LW for making it public.

      1. Despachito*

        I agree.

        I just cannot wrap my head around (or rather, unfortunately, can, given the genders of both the persons involved) that the boss scolds OP although the real transgressor was the coworker and his transgressions were much bigger and SEVERELY AFFECTING WORK.

        I frankly cannot imagine a reason which would justify sulking at work to the point he is doing this – even if there was severe harassment and the sulking person was within their rights, this would not be a solution and management should step in.

        The coworker is behaving unprofessionally on various fronts – first, the “young lady” thing, which I think does sound condescending to most people, but can still extend a benefit of doubt that he may not perceive it as such. But then the sulking, which is so wildly inappropriate AND is affecting the work of everybody, and absolutely should be addressed by the manager instead of policing the wording of the OP.

        I see a pattern here I hate with the passion of thousand burning suns – a MAN does wildly inappropriate things several times, but a WOMAN gets guilt-tripped for not being diplomatical enough.

      2. Observer*

        Refusing to talk to the team over this is so incredibly childish and any decent boss would be reprimanding him even if they also reprimanded LW for making it public.

        Exactly. This is the thing that’s really bothering me here. The OP could have been FAR more rude and totally unreasonable, and it would still not be OK for him to behave this way or the boss to back on it.

      3. Nameless in Customer Service*

        Rude coworker can’t make claims about the LW being unreasonable or confrontational since everyone heard the request firsthand.

        This is important. Who knows what reputation-damaging things he would have reported she’d said if they’d talked privately? Now there are witnesses.

    2. Other Alice*

      My thoughts as well. I would want a public conversation so other coworkers can back me up (and the manager’s reaction is concering here, why is he indulging the old man?)

    3. kina lillet*

      As a different perspective, I think it improves one’s chances of success to provide a way for someone to save face when asking that they change their behavior.

      I understand that it feels scarier, but I don’t think the career risk is heavier in a one on one conversation. For what it’s worth I also had an older coworker calling me “young lady”, and while I told my boss I’d be talking with the coworker about it, I had the conversation one on one. It worked fine.

      1. L-squared*

        I totally agree.

        No one likes to be publicly called out for their mistakes in front of their peers. Many people get defensive. While I fully admit, this guy is taking it way too far, I feel like the initial defensiveness is normal. Many people would not want someone brining up a mistake in a full team meeting, or even a personal issue that they had with another person. Talk in private first, and if that doesn’t work, bring in a manager.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I admit, I have experienced first-hand the automatic ego-saving defensiveness that can pop up when you’re unexpectedly called out (I had used a word that I had no idea was related to an offensive stereotype, and a friend very correctly asked me not to use it – it took me a good few days of stewing about feeling bad before I did the logical thing and just deleted that word from my vocab – see, the example last week about “data nazi” where OP is still just stewing). I think of myself as a kind person who wants to do right and I still had this reaction!! It reminded me of white fragility – you’re so focused on being a good person rather than just … not doing the thing. Being called out in public would make it about ten thousand times worse, when you truly think you’re innocent / meant no harm. I thought Alison’s response was a good way to explain how Doug might be seeing “young lady” as kind and courtly. But it’s really annoying that the burden is on OP, the victim in this case, to fix it. It might have come better from Doug’s boss or friend to knock it off.

        2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          But why are so many people talking about HIS feelings and not the feelings of a woman who hears, “You should try doing this, young lady, you might have better results,” also in public? I honestly think that is a worse rudeness, because it demeans her for things that she can’t change about herself and aren’t negative anyway, as opposed to really bad behavior.

          1. WellRed*

            Because the letter is about his reaction, not how his comments made her feel. We know how she feels.

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            Don’t you know that men are incredibly delicate, sensitive creatures, with extremely tender emotional centers? Socially, they should be treated as rare, endangered butterflies whose wing (feelings) could be permanently bruised with one harsh word. Women can handle anything, though. They’re more like Korg from the Thor movies. Like rocks that can handle anything & regenerate.

            Speaking in private might have been a bit more tactful, but if he does this all the time, I don’t know if he would stop. In which case, a public call-out is the next step.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I’m getting definite vibes of “if a man reacts badly, he must have been provoked into it! You must adjust your actions to manage his feelings at any cost to yours” from some of these comments. And I’m NOT here for it. He deserves to be embarassed, and preserving his feelings or getting him to react better by softening the message is not a worthwhile goal.

              1. EPLawyer*

                THANK YOU.

                His feelings at being called out are irrelevant. He was wrong. He got told he was wrong. He needs to put his big boy pants on accept it. (yes I did that last intentionally)

            2. JimmyJab*

              Yes, be careful of his feewings, or he will act like a true first grader, take his toys, and go home.

            3. kina lillet*

              Fortunately I didn’t say any of that—that would have been pretty sexist!

              For anyone, if the goal is to get them to simply stop a behavior, it’s pretty helpful to provide them a way to save face. This isn’t treating them like a baby or being unfeminist. It’s simply acknowledging that public embarrassment can cause a person’s ego to flare up in a way that isn’t conducive to changing their behavior.

              OP didn’t do anything wrong. It makes a lot of sense to support her colleagues by commenting in this way. And there’s no need to optimize tact at all times.

              However I think it’s a mistake to treat everything like there will be a trial about it later—have witnesses for everything!—or like it’s a conversation on a public online forum. That removes a hugely important and effective tool from one’s toolbox, which is a serious, face to face, equal to equal, colleague to colleague, conversation.

              This tool won’t always be there and won’t always work, unfortunately, but it doesn’t make sense to discount it immediately, as did the comment I replied to.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                Btw, I don’t believe this about men’s feelings. But some people sure act like this is the case. This is why women are expected to spend so much time & effort managing other people’s emotions.

                Both the coworker & the boss are being immature jerks & not caring about the OP’s feelings at all.

              2. ferrina*

                This tool only works for reasonable people. (and I’m not against this tool- I use it all the time). But this guy has shown himself deeply unreasonable- I’m sure there is more weird behavior that the LW didn’t include (this can’t be the first time he acted irrationally- this is much, much more likely to be the escalation of an existing pattern).

                With people that have already shown themselves awful and irrational, first priority must be self-protection. Which means witnesses and/or documenting. If this means they don’t get the opportunity to save face, well, that can be the cost of being rude and irrational

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  Yep agreed. I think the advice to handle things privately when possible makes sense in theory, but in this particular case I think that would have had different/just as bad consequences and the OP wouldn’t have witnesses.

                2. Nameless in Customer Service*

                  This tool only works for reasonable people.

                  This is the crux of the whole situation. He’s proven himself to be unreasonable but so often in these situations women are basically told we’re not allowed to treat an unreasonable man as unreasonable.

          3. jasmine*

            People are discussing what would be most effective for the OP to have done in this situation. There’s no need to take their comments in bad faith.

            No one’s saying “you should have been nicer to him because his feelings are precious”, they’re saying “talking to him in private would have been more likely to yield the desired result because he would’ve been less defensive”. I disagree with that take, but I think it’s helpful to remember that everyone here knows who the villain is. That’s not the question that’s being discussed.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I think part of the disagreement is about what the desired result is. To me, the condescending donkey showing exactly who he is to everybody and stopping talking to me entirely is not actually a bad outcome! Certainly better than the alternatives.

              Obviously the best outcome would be that he would excuse himself and stop the behavior, but there was never any possible path to that outcome. Pretending otherwise is arguing in bad faith. It’s the “if you didn’t provoke him he would act better” line of reasoning, and I refuse it on principle.

          4. L-squared*

            Because she wrote in about his behavior, so at some point, if you are having a problem with the behavior, its good to look at WHY that may be a problem.

            I don’t think only his feelings need to be considered, but if you want to change a behavior, thinking about the way you frame things isn’t a bad things. People are more receptive to things when they aren’t made to feel attacked. That is basic human nature. This happens to good and bad people alike.

            My boss may be totally right to bring up how I messed up a particular report, but it would be far worse for her to bring that up in my team meeting. I may be wrong, but I don’t think that means my feelings about being publicly called out should be ignored.

        3. Big Bank*

          I just can’t get on board with this idea that you aren’t allowed to call out bad behavior as it’s happening. Might I suggest the LW should have just said “don’t call me that” and moved on, sure, but I think they were right to say something as it’s happening. If the words were racist, would we asking them to wait? I doubt it. Why should sexism have to sit politely for an opportune moment?

          It’s embarrassing to be called out, but the reflex is how our memory makes sure we don’t do it again! I had a coworker mocking someone’s weight in a meeting. I told them to stop. They tried to backpedal and rationalize to save face, and I stood firm it wasn’t ok. Things were uncomfortable in that moment. You know what NEVER happened again? That coworker bringing up weight. And they were adult enough to ingest it and move on with our professional relationship.

          1. starfox*

            I think there’s a difference between something like, “Please don’t call me young lady. I’m sure it’s not your intention, but it feels condescending” vs what she said, “Just so you know, calling us ‘young lady’ is rude and condescending, and makes it sound like we’re being scolded.”

            There’s nothing wrong with calling it out when you hear it, but if you want them to actually stop, it’s best to provide a way to save face.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Why does the OP owe him a chance to “save face”? He shouldn’t be able to brush it off and “save face”, he should stop the rude behavior!

          2. L-squared*

            while I’m not a woman, I am black, and I can say that depending my end goal, I absolutely would wait to discuss someones racist sounding behavior in private. If my goal is to get them to change and have a civil relationship with them, I’ll pull them aside and tell them why I feel the behavior is bad and should stop. If its to simply call them out and bring attention to their behavior and possibly embarrass, I’ll do it publicly. But, I also know that doing the latter may make them look bad, its not likely to help me have a productive working relationship with them going forward.

        4. Observer*

          No one likes to be publicly called out for their mistakes in front of their peers. Many people get defensive. While I fully admit, this guy is taking it way too far, I feel like the initial defensiveness is normal.

          So? The key thing is that he is not only “taking it too far”, he’s gone off the deep end. And his boss is backing him!

          If the reaction would have been more reasonable, the discussion about what the OP could have done differently could have been reasonable. But given his reaction, it really makes no difference. Because when something reacts THIS ridiculously, you know that they are NOT reasonable people. Blaming their abject unreasonableness on the OP’s less than perfect handling of the situation is neither fair nor useful.

          I’d be willing to bet that the OP chose this way of dealing in part because they recognized at some level that she’s dealing with DEEPLY unreasonable people.

      2. ferrina*

        Yes, but only if the person you are talking to is reasonable to begin with.

        Starting with a low-key private chat is best and works with most people, but there are some folks that will retaliate for any kind of critical feedback. These folks you want to address in a public setting so you have witnesses- otherwise they will spin the story that you “cornered them and berated them and were so rude!” Then coworkers- even ones that know you well- can be left with the seed of doubt that maybe you were a little out of line. But when they witness it first hand, they know that the retaliation is unjust.

    4. CheesePlease*

      I do think people respond better to “please don’t call me young lady” (seen as a personal preference) over “calling people young lady is condescending” (seen as a judgement on them) even though THAT IS CORRECT.

      1. Roland*

        Yeah this is about what is likely to get the result OP wants! We can’t change how the Guys of the world react. Saying “X could potentially work better next time” is NOT blaming OP and it’s not letting the shitty guy off the hook. It’s simply making a suggestion based on the world we live in. It’s reasonable for people to disagree but I’m tired of people who make suggestions being cast as “trying to protect men’s feelings” or whatever.

    5. EPLawyer*

      Yeah speaking to him privately would have just allowed him to claim he was never told.

      Honestly with the boss’ behavior too, this might be HR time.

    6. Luna*

      Even had he not reacted to a private mention, at least you set things in motion. If/when he keeps doing it, you can then pipe up and say, “I’m sorry, Jeremy, I have already asked you before to not refer to me or the other women as ‘young ladies’.” Which makes it clear that
      A) Yes, someone is offended by the term
      B) This being an issue has already been brought up to the coworker in question
      And I guess C) That he wasn’t doing as requested.
      Then you can make it a bigger deal. Even go to the manager or even higher up, pointing out that you have already tried at least once to solve this matter calmly and between coworkers, before ‘having’ to go higher up because he isn’t listening to coworkers.

    7. Love to WFH*

      I had coworker who always referred to the women on the team as “girls”. We corrected him matter-of-factly. We tried humor. We tried gravitas. We tried anger.

      He was not an older guy.

      At least he only got snippy about it, and didn’t go into a “refuse to talk to everyone” mode. That’s wild.

      1. Grey Coder*

        One of the high points of my time as a hiring manager was rejecting an applicant who referred to the women he worked with as “girls”. He was absolutely being condescending about them. It wasn’t the only red flag in the interview but it’s the one I remember.

  3. The OTHER other*

    #3 I would totally snap on this schedule snooper. “I see you’re meeting with X at 3pm. Is that the best use of your time?” would probably be met with “I see you’re looking over everyone’s schedules. Is that the best use of your time?”

    You need to shut this down ASAP. Honestly it sounds as though she clearly doesn’t have enough work to do.

    1. allathian*

      I agree that as a peer, this is exactly what I would do in retaliation to a comment like that. But as the manager, the LW can use less snark and more managerial authority to get the message across.

      I’m 50, and I’ve been working for longer than I have years left in the workforce, and I can without hesitation say that the absolutely best managers I’ve had so far in my career, my current one and her immediate predecessor, are both about 10 years younger than I am.

      Ageism towards older employees is definitely a serious problem, but this sort of condescending attitude towards younger managers needs to go away, too. As does the office mom/granny.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Honesty, if there were a way for OP to communicate “you are coming across as our scolding mom” I bet this employee would really be taken aback – they probably think they’re asserting leadership and authority, and don’t want to give this impression. However, I don’t think OP should say this, as it’s doing to sound both gendered and ageist.

        1. EPLawyer*

          That’s why Alison’s advice is perfect. It leaves out any age or gender terms. It addresses the actual problem — monitoring calendars. It conveys that this is very much not the person’s job to do and it needs to stop.

          OP as the manager, you are the only person with standing to shut this behavior down. You can’t let things like this just roll off your back. You have to stop it.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This really strikes me as the employee took a step down – to start winding down a career in preparation for retirement possibly – and they really didn’t think through the changes in their authority/responsibility/job duties that would come with that change.
          I do think you need to have a talk with her though, because she is probably driving all her teammates nutty.

        3. L'étrangere*

          It’d be perfectly possible to drop the office mom terminology, so demeaning for all parties, and simply say “you sound like the most unpleasant of micromanagers. But you’re not even a manager”. Alison is right in demanding an immediate stop to remarks about other people’s schedules. But I’d go further and request a stop to even looking at other people’s schedules at all, unless really necessary to schedule something. In fact it sounds like she may never need to schedule anything herself, so OP3 you may consider removing her read access entirely, at least till she shows she can develop a better attitude towards her peers

      2. ferrina*

        Yeah, as a peer I would be so frustrated. I would lock down my calendar so she couldn’t see, or start putting “joke” appointments on there.

        Trust me, this woman already has a reputation that’s going to hurt her.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I’d make appointments with intriguing names and the leave notes for her in the meeting details “Knew you wouldn’t be able to resist “Go Wax Daniel Craig with Idris””

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          There was a letter here once where some guy kept putting all his appointments in the calendar in Arabic (he wasn’t a native speaker – I think this may have been in response to him being called out for not keeping his calendar updated, so he just Google translated it all and put it in that way?) I’m now picturing these two working together.

    2. KateM*

      The person who has a meeting with X is probably being paid to have that meeting, while the snooper is doing the snooping instead of whatever she is paid for.

    3. Lance*

      What gets me even more is that sounds to me like something a micromanager would say, not an effective manager. This woman really needs to cut this nonsense out.

      1. Ari*

        I came here to say the same thing. She was probably a nightmare as a supervisor, if she thinks that she needs to manage everyone’s time/calendar for them.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I wonder if she’s new to remote work? And so the calendar is her way to feel more enmeshed with her new team, recreating the feel of being in the same cube farm.

      (“Wonder” in the sense “if you can think of a context where this behavior might be understandable, that can help in addressing it.”)

    5. OP 3*

      OP3 here-Oh, she has plenty to do. She prioritizes the calendar monitoring over many, many more pressing tasks! You are right: someone on the team will snap soon. I’ll be addressing this ASAP.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        OK, that adds to the issue. She is starting to sound like an adult version of the student I once had who spent his time looking around the class to see if there was anybody he could tell tales on instead of doing his own work. I once replied to him with “I’m actually far more annoyed at YOU.” He was horrified; “you’re annoyed with ME because he’s eating sweets?” “No, I’m annoyed with you because you still haven’t taken any of your books out, you’ve been looking around the room instead of following the lesson and then you shouted out, interrupting everybody over what really was a very minor issue.”

        Maybe include that when addressing it, that you need her to be focusing on her own work and prioritising that over checking what other people are doing. I do realise it can’t be expressed in quite the same way in the workplace that I would do it in the classroom, but it sounds like it would be worthy of mentioning.

      2. MsM*

        If I were you, I’d be tempted to do a point-by-point review of every single block on *her* schedule and how she’s supposed to be using them. (Which is why Alison’s paid to give the advice and not me, because “yeah, that needs to stop now” is far more efficient and effective.)

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Speaking as someone who has been that employee’s coworker: please get her to shut the schedule monitoring yesterday. I had that coworker, he didn’t want to listen to the manager either. So yup, all of us started doing the wacky appointments and he started loosing his mind at us, and it ended up going all the way to ownership…..and everybody got a talking to about professionalism- including him with his major shocked pickachu face. Please don’t let it devolve to that.

    6. Love to WFH*

      I would be heartily annoyed if my manager did this. A coworker doing it crosses the line from micro-managing to bizarre.

    7. Petty Betty*

      Agreed. I *did* have a co-irker who tried to micromanage me instead of doing her own work. Unfortunately, our boss didn’t actually care that she was doing it and chose to let her do it rather than manage either of us. Our manager was also salty at the fact that she’d gotten her job because I’d turned down the role, made as much as she did, and was very well-liked by the c-suite and board.
      To say that our department was poorly managed and toxic was an understatement, and that my main reason for leaving was specifically my manager and co-irker (closely followed by money) was not a secret (and still isn’t). 6 years later, they are still there, in the same positions. I’ve had great jobs, been promoted twice in the last 7 months and am looking at another one before the year ends. I don’t regret leaving at all.

      I *do* regret not leaving sooner, and not setting healthier, heavier-handed boundaries while I was still at that particular position.

  4. Tuba*

    I doubt I’d have the frame of mind to pull the “young lady” guy aside. I don’t know if I’d be silent as to fight back tears or if I’d have angrily said something there and then, but my usually mellow self had a strong reaction just reading this post. The level of condescension is astounding. The only person that’s ever called me “young lady” is my boomer father when I tell him I’m not having kids and he thinks I’m selfish for it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Boomer Dad, do better.

      Tuba, if you are “selfish” then it is also true that selfishness works both ways. I have seen people have kids so they could get a “mini-me” and that is pretty selfish. And often plays out poorly.

      FWIW, I am kidless first by choice then second by nature. In other words I had zero interest in having kids growing up and in adulthood, found I couldn’t have kids anyway. The world needs all kinds of people- we need people who want to parent and we need people who focus on other things in life. Every person has a role/purpose regardless of parenthood status. Dad’s way off the mark on this one.

      1. Bronze Betty*

        I love how you worded this, NSNR!

        I had an acquaintance say that my daughter is selfish because she doesn’t want kids. After an internal deep breath, I responded that, no, that’s not selfish–it’s wise. Not everyone is meant to have children, Recognizing that, and acknowledging it for yourself, is doing what is best in your situation. Having children just because that’s perceived as the norm is unwise and creates a potentially bad situation for both parent and child. Yes, we all have our own role.

        And, by the way, she’s a great “auntie” to her friends’ kids.

        1. Luna*

          “If I demanded that she have children, despite not wanting them herself, wouldn’t that make *me* selfish?”

        2. Nameless in Customer Service*

          I had an acquaintance say that my daughter is selfish because she doesn’t want kids. After an internal deep breath, I responded that, no, that’s not selfish–it’s wise.

          Well and awesomely said.

          1. Tuba*

            Thanks kind internet strangers. This reflection is wonderful, but I’m more trying to articulate that I’ve never heard “young lady” in a context is isn’t disgusting and misogynistic after said young lady is over 16 years old. It reeks of paternalism.

  5. Grow Up*

    A 50 year-old man throwing a week-long tantrum is ridiculous. We all get feedback we don’t want — sometimes publicly — but handling that with grace is part of being an adult. It’s stunning to me that some people can make it that far in life and still think that that they can rage or pout their way to what they want.

    1. Zoe*

      The tantrum tells me up until now he HAS gotten whatever he wanted by raging and pouting. And the manager’s reaction tells me it’s going to work this time too — my instinct is that OP will be asked to apologize for calling out the behaviour to “make peace,” and he will have all his gendered biases reconfirmed. I hope the manager steps up and tells him to cut it out, that’s the only solution possible at this point.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. As obnoxious as the condescending coworker is, the actual problem is the manager who refuses to do anything about it.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I think this would be a hill to die on for me. I would never, ever apologize. The manager is a wimp that capitulates to tantrums, so I think it unlikely he will actually do anything in response to a refusal to apologize. He’ll probably increase the pressure on OP first, because he thinks she’ll be easier to push, but when she’s not, he’ll throw up his hands and wait it out.

        LW should not take any responsibility in resolving the sulking. Your team can do without that guy, pretend he quit and carry on. The fact he draws a salary and doesn’t do his job is purely the manager’s to resolve.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Yes, I can’t see a good solution here either, but I think my response would be to have a firm conversation with my manager about respect, sexism and why I they should have stepped in long before you snapped at Condescending Colleague.

          Frankly, if the manager is going to side with whatever The Most Awkward Person In The Team wants, you’ve got to be The Most Awkward Person In The Team. Be polite and lovely to everyone else, but make it as hard as possible for your manager to decide that the easiest course of action is to placate CC.

          1. ferrina*

            agree. I’d hold the line and refuse to apologize (though I’d still do my job and move on with life!)

            Unfortunately, sexism and “women are responsible for ego soothing” may come into play and your manager may just refuse to ever address That Guy about his temper tantrum. That’s not your problem and you shouldn’t try to solve it, but be aware.

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I mean, if the OP is forced to apologize I’d go with, I’m very sorry your reaction to being told to stop this was to have a temper tantrum.

          I’m very sorry your feelings were hurt by the truth

          I’m very sorry you are a snowflake and we’re triggered when you learned you were being condescending

          I can dream.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          OP, if it were me, I would just tell the manager that I knew I could not say anything privately because there would be repercussions. And here, we can all see that this is correct. He would have lashed out no matter how you handled this, OP.

          When I supervised I had very little patience for folks who use silent treatment on others. Failing to communicate with others is a failure to do a very basic component of the job. We all have to talk to each other to do our jobs. In my mind, this guy should either resume talking to people OR face a write up and possible dismissal because he is failing to do his job. Pretty straightforward to me.

          I agree with not apologizing. I think if you get asked to apologize then go to HR, file a complaint. But in the meantime, I’d just work around him. I have been working long enough to know that this can be done when necessary with almost anyone. I worked with a cohort- it was just the two of us on duty- and she refused to speak with me. My day went on, I was fine. At one point something started to smoke as if it were starting on fire. Jawdroppingly, this cohort STILL would not speak to me. Where I went with this was she was not doing the job (by failing to speak to me) AND she was a walking safety hazard (her refusal to help with the overheated item),

          These silent treatment people tend to unravel themselves on their own, OP. I would just settle back and let him do whatever stupid thing he wants. He’s his own worst enemy.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        “We can’t ask Bob to be reasonable–he’s Bob! He’s staked out being unreasonable! So it’s on you, Bob’s coworkers, to appease him.”

      4. LW1*

        That’s exactly what has happened. I was told that he apologized to me (It was an “I’m sorry you’re upset” non-apology) and I should apologize to him for embarrassing him. I told my manager that wasn’t anywhere near a real apology and that wouldn’t be happening.

        He still hasn’t apologized to my co-worker for calling her young lady, either. There’s been a real, ongoing problem of him not helping us, and telling us to “figure it out” and “it was hard when I started, why should it be easier for you”. He really is just that kind of person.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Old white guy privilege would be my guess. Or he’s a rainmaker or super good or super senior, I don’t know which.

      I knew this one programmer at my organization who did all kinds of shit, got away with it, and even got RE-hired here when she should have been blackballed.

      But yeah, really the problem is that the manger is going to let this guy do whatever he wants and it’ll all be OP’s fault. The update to this one will be sad, I fear.

      1. Pisces*

        Along this line, maybe OP1’s boss doesn’t have the support of their boss/management on dealing with Bob.

        I’m an admin assistant, and would never want to manage admin assistants. In the big firms I used to work for, it’s easy to be undercut by an underperformer who works for a big-shot boss.

    3. Pennyworth*

      If being told ‘young lady’ is condescending is triggering for the fuddy-duddy 59 year old, I’d fight back that being addressed in sexist terms is triggering too, as is being subjected to exclusion bullying in retaliation. Not to mention that 50 is not old enough for him not to know better.

        1. ferrina*

          Yup. The “young lady” comment doesn’t rise to the level of harassments, but retaliating for being told to stop may well hit that level. And if the manager ends up punishing LW for it? yeah, that might be lawyer time.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Seriously. He was born in the 1970s and calling people “young lady” hasn’t been acceptable in his lifetime.

        1. Karen, but not that kind of Karen*

          Thank you. I am 51 years old and have never used the term “young lady” except in jest to people who are barely younger than I am. I didn’t even use it with my daughter when she was a kid.

    4. Malarkey01*

      Honestly his tantrum seems like a win win. He’s no longer speaking up or participating or mentoring, but it sounded like his contributions were condescending and self important. Sooooo I’d lean in to the silence and give this zero oxygen.

      He’ll either realize he was ridiculous or get the gut punch that no one actually cares if he talks. Either way I wouldn’t spend any more time thinking about this.
      (And I’d side eye boss really hard for not immediately stepping in and correcting the “young lady” talk. This isn’t something you let your employee do)

    5. PotsPansTeapots*

      Yeah, this is a situation where the prolonged response says so much more than the immediate one. We can go round and round on this man’s intentions and how appropriate or not OP was for calling him out publicly.

      But, even if we’re kind to this man at OP’s expense, absolutely nothing short of threatening/harassing/dead naming etc warrants a week-long tantrum ans silent treatment *with* the blessing of the manager! The horse has long since left the barn and this guy and the manager are truly sexist jerks at this point.

  6. AnonyMouse*

    OP1, I wonder if his reaction might have been less strong if you’d addressed him calling you “young lady” directly instead of responding to what he called your coworker and framing it as an issue that multiple people in the group have with him. You are 100% in the right though, and he is being very immature.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I agree in theory that a different approach would have been better, but someone who throws a week-long tantrum doesn’t seem likely to ever take feedback well.

  7. bookartist*

    LW#1 – If this guy is in his 50s now, he was a teen in the 80s, a young adult in the 90s, and a thirtysomething at the turn of the century. He knows damn well “young ladies” is disrespectful in the office, and he sure as hell knows he is acting like a child now. Funny how a guy who wanted to project an air of seniority and authority now looks like a spoiled child.

    1. PollyQ*

      1000000% this. There has never been a time in his career that it was acceptable to call colleagues “young ladies.” Or, for that matter, anyone other than his minor daughters who are currently misbehaving.

    2. MK*

      Also, he was referring to women about 10-15 years younger than him, if I have the numbers right. I can see being lenient with a guy in his 90s talking to people young enough to be his grandchildren (who in my experience absolutely would call a male coworker “young man” or even “boy”), though even that should be called out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s odd but I am seeing less and less older people (80-90 y/o) using the expression. It was overused decades ago. I am glad to see the fade out is definitely happening.

      2. Cringing 24/7*

        Oof, the word boy is F.R.A.U.G.H.T.

        I think it would be very hard for me not to have a visceral reaction to it – possibly publicly like OP.

      3. Observer*

        (who in my experience absolutely would call a male coworker “young man” or even “boy”), though even that should be called out.

        Young man, I could see. But “boy”? No. “Boy” used to an adult was absolutely classist at best and more commonly racist.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes – I work with a lot of men of this age (in tech) and cannot think of a single one of them who would say “young lady” etc to me or any of the other women here. The only exception is maaaybe in the course of banter with someone I know well.

      1. Ganymede*

        Yep, I used to banter with a male associate (not colleague) – in a situation that was semi-social/semi-formal, and he took to calling me “young lady” whenever I came up with a particularly witty bit of repartee. I do look young for my age, but realised at one point that he looks old for his, and he was actually about 4 years younger than me! He looked so shocked. We were both in our 50s.

        Unfortunately the work we collaborated on has come to a natural close so what with that and the pandemic, we don’t meet any more in person, so I don’t know if he would still do it. Plus, I’ve let my hair go grey, soooo….

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Oh, lol. With the username you’ve picked, I was assuming you were male.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      Indeed. My OH is in his fifties (I am in my forties) and there’s no way in heck he would call anyone young lady. It’s not a generational thing, this isn’t a very old man who doesn’t know better, this is someone being a d!ck.

    5. Xaraja*

      Oh this is a good point. I started working 20 years ago and I was reading this story from the perspective of that environment 20 years ago and thinking of a particular person I worked with who was 88 at the time. Someone who’s in his 50s now is only about 10-15 years older than me!

    6. Panhandlerann*

      Yes, this dude is more than a decade younger than I am (don’t do the math), and I can say with utter confidence that he knows better.

  8. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    #1: I guess I’m sharing this more as an amusing factoid than anything else.

    My supervisor sometimes calls me “kid.”

    My supervisor is male. I’m also male.

    My supervisor is 62. I turn 60 next month.

    1. Zeus*

      Fun fact: “factoid” actually means a tidbit that people assume is fact, but is actually false. Lots of people use it to mean “small fact” (myself included until I learned this last year!) but it doesn’t mean that at all :)

      1. PollyQ*

        Fun fact! When many people use a word in a given way, that IS at least one of its definitions. Here’s wikipedia on the word:

        A factoid is either an invented or assumed statement presented as a fact, or a true but brief or trivial item of news or information.

        The term was coined in 1973 by American writer Norman Mailer to mean a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact even though it is not actually true, or an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print. Since the term’s invention in 1973, it has become used to describe a brief or trivial item of news or information.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Another fun fact – words change meanings, and sometimes they change to mean their exact opposite. (There’s a variety of ways this can happen – linguistics is the study of this stuff.) When the meaning changed before we were born, we shrug it off; but when the meaning changes during our lifetimes, we rail against everyone making that mistake.

        Current example: “nonplussed”. It’s currently about 50/50 whether it means “taken aback” or “not bothered” (it’s moving from the former to the latter). As a reader, I hate this. As a writer, I avoid the word entirely.

    2. Pennyworth*

      We once had two directors in our company who always addressed each other as ”young man”.

    3. Despachito*

      This is a proof that everything is context-dependent. You both are 120% sure that he is not being condescending, and it is fun.

      I attend a hobby class where the teacher calls us all “boys” and “girls”. He is well into his forties and our ages range from 40 to 70+. In this particular context, it is not a tad condescending, it is endearing and I love it.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I think it’s not only a context issue, but a consent (for lack of a better word) issue. People can call each other whatever they like as long as both agree.

        1. Despachito*

          You are right – consent is key here.

          (I can imagine people in intimate situations consensually using words that, if used in a different context, would have them fired or sued).

      2. Irish Teacher*

        VERY much context and relationship based. I have a colleague (about 7 years older than me) who regularly calls people, of all ages, “pet.” When she does it to me, it’s affectionate and sisterly and I like it. (That said, I DID overhear her saying she was trying to be careful about it/do it less BECAUSE of the fact people can find endearments in the workplace inappropriate or offensive and THAT is a factor too, that she is aware of that and does her best not to give offence, so I am sure if anybody said they disliked it, she’d stop.)

        I have another colleague (about 10-15 years older than me) who called me “darling” in a way that irritated me, because there was something in the tone that made me feel she was almost trying to draw attention to the fact that she was that bit older and more experienced than me.

        The fact that I am pretty close friends with the first colleague and the second is one I don’t really have much to do with – different departments, etc – makes a difference too as I don’t have the sort of relationship with the second colleague in which endearments would be expected.

        And I know those are different from things like “young lady” but just more indications of how context, the relationship between the two people and also the reaction when people are uncomfortable all make a difference.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          This! I worked with a manager who called everyone “dear,” & it rubbed me the wrong way. She worked closely with my department but didn’t manage us. Once on a call with a coworker, she called her by 3 different names. We realized she called people “dear” because she couldn’t be bothered to remember our names. (Side note: our phones had displays showing who called & who you were calling that stayed up during the entire call. All she had to do was look down to see who was on the other line.)

          On the other hand, my recently retired manager would sometimes call me “my dear,” but I found it sweet & sincere.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          All I can think of when reading about a woman calling others “pet” is Brenda Blethyn as Vera.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          I call this a proof-in-the-pudding situation: It’s ok exactly if and only if everyone involved is ok with it. There are some things that are never going to be fully ok because of the effect they have on the bystanders and the general office culture, but leaving that aside, people are allowed to have individual relationships and one-on-one quirks. It’s not in general ok to call me “young lady” (leaving aside also that I’m hardly young by any measure); there are people who can call me “young lady”.

          (I’m also not going to be the person who reins in regional endearment vocabulary, especially if it’s more or less gender-neutral. Northern BrE “duck” or “pet”; AmE “honey” sometimes, and more, sometimes fall under the regional dialect exception, and I’d rather have the diversity than to force everyone into a mold. But OTOH I was the one who immediately, though in a friendly tone, pointed out to a (more senior, non English native speaker, south Asian) co-worker that, no, calling me and the male grad student who shared the same first name (say, “Pat”) “girl-Pat” and “boy-Pat” would not work.)

      3. Antilles*

        Bingo. It’s all about the context and how it’s being meant.

        At my first job, I had a colleague who joined about two months earlier than me. We once disagreed on a project and he told me “young man, you should respect your elders” – but I chuckled because it was obviously a joke to relieve tension. And he laughed when I fired back with “sure grandpa, tell us more stories about how you used to used to do calculations on an abacus”. Just a fun lighthearted moment to add some levity to a stressful situation.

        But if he was actually a couple decades older than me so it could be taken seriously, it would have come across as condescending.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      There’s a huge differences here between your situation vs the letter writer. 1 – both of your being the same age vs the LW who has an age gap. 2 – “kid” vs “young lady” is totally different. “Young lady” has an air of talking down to, making the recipient inferior. Kid implies you are young sure but not the same way “young man” would imply authority over you. Please don’t attempt to say that older men using “young lady” for their colleagues should be allowed.

    5. yala*

      I think the thing is, “young lady” as a term of address (eg not “the young lady” or similar), is almost ALWAYS a warning/scolding/etc.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Along similar lines, I decided I was officially middle-aged when I started saying things like, “What a nice young man/woman.” But while I would refer to someone that way– “I’m looking for the young woman selling lemonade who was here yesterday”– I also realize that I would never address someone like that. It does sound like scolding.

      2. Office Lobster DJ*

        “Young lady” is also gendered in a way “kid” is not.

        I do absolutely agree with the comments that it’s all context dependent. In my experience, it’s very easy to tell when endearments are being used affectionately or in a bantering way versus when the person is being condescending, despite what the you-can’t–say-anything-anymore! crowd will insist.

    6. Nodramalama*

      Similar fun fact, I went to all girls school and our PE teacher (who was a woman) would collectively refer to us as Ladies!

      I still have a pavlovian response to duck away whenever someone uses lady to this day

    7. Jopestus*

      I call the secretary of the office i work in “girl”, “cutie” and all other kinds like that, since she wants me to. She is old enough to be my mother, but a nice coworker so i comply with her wishes. We both find it fun, since it is ridiculous/funny.

      Then again, that is entirely different than calling people names in a condescending way.

  9. Waving not Drowning*

    OP5 – we had a workmate we suspected of drinking through the day – turns out he had type 2 diabetes, and didn’t know. Mind you, we didn’t go around asking everyone – we quietly thought it instead. He’d be slurring his words, and he’d vague out on us. He’d overreact to simple mistakes others made (yelling), but making many many more mistakes himself. He was fine in the mornings, but in the afternoons was when he deteriorated.

    Once we knew, everything made sense. He was still a crappy co-worker, and he still make a ton of mistakes that we had to keep fixing, but the slurring of words, loud talking and over the top reactions mostly stopped. I sometimes had to remind him to check his bloods when he started slurring words again, because he couldn’t always tell.

    1. Lilipoune*

      Regarding the “young lady”; I personally think that speaking up publicly was the correct thing to do. It shows your other female colleague support and she may not have dare to make a comment herself (either in public or in private). Plus given the reaction of your manager, she would have brought it up with him would have probable not get any result except from, “Oh that is just a way he speaks, don’t take it personally”.
      It also help in ensuring that the perception the rest of the team has from you does not get biaised over time. By hearing repeatedly young lady, they might start to consider you as not competent enough and having corrected the guy in public may counteract this.

      1. Eyes Kiwami*

        Those are good points about the dangers of letting it go unchecked.

        I think it’s better to start with a call-in because it lets well-intentioned people save face, and then depending on the reaction, escalate to public call-outs. No one likes being corrected in front of others, but then you can say you’ve already asked him to stop so the reasoning for escalation to call-out will be clear. And you’ll feel confident in having taken the highest, kindest, most forgiving road–might help you feel more comfortable standing up to him/boss/others later.

      2. Cringing 24/7*

        This! Hearing others speak up on an issue like this can encourage you to be the one to do it next time – or at least make you feel less alone in being quietly bothered by it. I’m so glad OP spoke up in front of people, and it’s angering to me that her boss won’t do anything about this tantrum.

    2. AngelS.*

      It makes sense. There are many, many reasons for this type of behavior. The best thing is to ask directly.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I had a co-worker that started slurring words and not always making sense. He was fired. And then he found out he had ALS, a kind that first affected his vocal chords.

  10. Lilipoune*

    Regarding the “young lady”; I personally think that speaking up publicly was the correct thing to do. It shows your other female colleague support and she may not have dare to make a comment herself (either in public or in private). Plus given the reaction of your manager, she would have brought it up with him would have probable not get any result except from, “Oh that is just a way he speaks, don’t take it personally”.
    It also help in ensuring that the perception the rest of the team has from you does not get biaised over time. By hearing repeatedly young lady, they might start to consider you as not competent enough and having corrected the guy in public may counteract this.

    1. Zeus*

      I second this. I had a similar issue with an older (female) team member referring to me an another young woman in the team as “girls”. I called it out in the moment during a meeting once (less formally than OP, I just pointed out that we were all adults in the team) and she stopped after that, and made a point to apologise to me personally after the meeting.
      One of the main concerns I had was that younger people, especially women, tend to not get taken as seriously in the workplace; and I didn’t want her calling us girls to contribute to that.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        I *have* in a situation like this called it in privately and at the same time told the other women I had done so. But there’s also nothing wrong with saying it in the public setting.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Very much agree. Calling out such behaviour in public isn’t always a great choice but in some circumstances it’s a great to show other people being insulted that you are on their side and to show bystanders that this behaviour isn’t acceptable.

      This can eliminate other people saying ‘oh I wasn’t aware it was a problem since X says it all the time’ and a potential repeat.

      This guy’s reaction (sulking, claiming to be triggered) pretty much guarantees that approached privately he’d have ignored it. It really boils back to a post last week and the conclusion of ‘if someone tells you a term is offensive you stop using it adn you do not make a big deal over it’.

      How to fix this situation? Honestly I’d just ignore his behaviour – keep acting around him like he isn’t ignoring you. Like his tantrums are not happening. He’s acting up for a reaction and I’m guessing for you to apologise and soothe his hurt feelings. Don’t give it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Triggered by what? is my question.

        Being triggered has an actual meaning. Even multiple meanings, but “when confronted I go into a power pout and sulk for weeks and refuse to talk to anyone at work” isn’t one of them.

        1. Minerva*

          Right? The co-opt of trigger to mean “thing that upset me” is super harmful in more way that one.

    3. Luna*

      With a reply of ‘that’s just how they talk’, I just want to turn the table and start referring to the other person as ‘old geezer’ or even a flat-out insulting term, and when it gets brought up just shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s just how I speak, don’t take it personally”.
      Show the hypocrisy of the original statement: they can’t reprimand you for talking that way, if they didn’t for the other person.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      Agree. In my work culture (U.K. govt so this is a widespread policy) when you witness sexism/racism or similar you are encouraged, even (circs permitting) required, to challenge that behaviour.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Also a policy here too (UK heavy engineering). Although the implementation of it is a bit hit and miss in our area (it’s still heavily male dominated but the last person who called me ‘young lady’ definitely got the Ice Cold Voice of Doom in that meeting)

    5. Scarlet2*

      Exactly. Based on the manager’s response, OP’s concern would have been completely dismissed.
      Also, is the manager OK with the coworker’s petulant reaction? Is it somehow fine that the guy is icing out everyone and refusing to communicate with his colleagues for a whole week? He’s basically refusing to do his job at this point.

    6. mreasy*

      Yeah, I think the group setting was better than addressing in private as well, for showing your colleagues’ support, but also so they know that if nothing changes, your manager failed.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      “Oh that is just a way he speaks, don’t take it personally”.

      “I am not taking it personally. This is a well-recognized, well-know phrase loaded with sexism and condescension. If I am taking it personally then so does most of society. A good number of people would find this phrasing offensive. In reality there should not be any comments involving age, gender and so on in the workplace.”

  11. bratschegirl*

    Oh, #1, I worked for that guy for years, and honestly there is an excellent chance that his reaction would have been the same no matter how you phrased it, whether or not you had done it more privately, etc. In my case, I did address it privately, very politely asking my boss not to address me as “dear” in a large group situation. He got very riled up, said “well, I suppose I’ll have to call you Mrs. Husband’s Last Name then” (although he knew very well that I don’t go by that name). I said that wasn’t necessary, he could just call me by my first name as he did everyone else, to which he replied that then perhaps he just wouldn’t call me anything at all, and stomped off. Lord, but he was a glassbowl…

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Ugh, I hope you are well rid of him now! (I HATE the use of “Mrs” in any professional setting—allowances for primary education where it’s a norm—and change it any time it comes up.)

        1. JustaTech*

          The only reason I ever noticed that we called all the women teachers at my school Ms and not Mrs was the one teacher who insisted on being called “Miss” – and she would call you out if you shortened it to Ms (the same thing you’d called every woman teacher since kindergarten).
          She was an … interesting person.

    2. londonedit*

      Ugh. There is nothing worse than the whole ‘Well I suppose us men just can’t talk to women AT ALL now, I suppose we’ll just have to NEVER SPEAK TO THEM in case they GET OFFENDED’ thing. No, you massive man-baby, all women are asking is that you treat them with respect, and that means not being weird and creepy, not ‘flirting’ in the office, and not calling them ‘dear’ or ‘young lady’ or ‘the girls’ when you’d never dream of speaking to a man like that. If you can’t manage that then you have a serious problem.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Oh the fake helplessness. “I can’t call you ‘dear’ so I have no idea what to call you.”

      Uh maybe if you are THAT helpless that you cannot figure out such a simple thing then maybe you need around the clock adult supervision because who knows what other simple things you cannot figure out.

    4. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      Agree. Alison’s advice is perfect in a reasonable setting, but the fact that the manager is letting this week-long tantrum slide tells me this isn’t a reasonable setting populated by normal people.

      My fave was the time as a very young temp I got sent out URGENTLY for real milk for an early morning coffee meeting. I returned with said milk and 60+ year old department head yelled, “Oh THANK YOU sweetheart!” A woman exec (in her 50s?) said, “Mr. Smith, you can’t call her that!” He looked so astonished. And his answer? “Well, I can’t call her SIR!” Those were the choices??? This was the damn 80s. NO ONE has called me young lady at work in 40 years.

  12. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    OP2 – Your friend is in the best place to make the call. He spent time and effort building a following. What if his dream employer lays him off after he locked his social down? Now he’s starting from scratch again. That’s tough to give up. You said your piece, now let him be an adult and decide.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      The company (via HR) said it was fine given some stipulations; it’s only his boss who’s trying to get him to delete everything. I almost think the boss doesn’t want his “subordinate” to have a higher profile/influencer status in the field than he (boss) does…

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      The company (HR) was ok with it given a few restrictions, it seems to be only the boss who thinks he should delete everything – I wondered if the boss doesn’t like it that the friend has more ‘exposure’ in the field than he does?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This strikes me as a variation on last week’s question where the poster’s SO had investments that conflicted with the poster’s job.

      Some times we have to let go of A to get B. And it becomes a matter of which is more important- A? or B? It’s surprising the number of times people will pick the choice that is less logical to us. And that is the key- it’s not logical *to us*.

      In order to help myself step back from these situations, I like to think of it as I am going to have a learning experience. The person may come up with something that I never thought of and salvage the situation. Sometimes the person comes up with something that is Amazingly Clever and I am actually wowed. I can find applications for that technique in my own life. Other times the person takes a stand in a way that I never would. I don’t have to agree with a person in order to admire them for standing up for what they want.

      Bottomline some times people just make poor choices and we try to be a good friend and help them clean it up if we can. I understand the desire to prevent him from falling. But if you think about it, we all fall at some point. And we do survive- we get older and wiser. You said something that is step one. Step two is not to interfere with people’s learning experiences, especially when they indicate they do not want help. If you both dig your heals in at the same time, then the friendship could be lost.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Yeah, OP2, you’ve raised it once. That was a friend thing to do. One key to being listened to in the future is that such things are vanishingly rare from you.

    5. Kella*

      That was my thought. I understand how important the job is but OP2 doesn’t seem to be understanding how pulling back from your social media presence immediately tanks it and how much work it takes to build it back up. If that presence was a big part of why he was hired, and he loses this job for some reason outside of his control, then he’s lost both of his really valuable resources.

      It’s still obviously a big risk but I understand why the guy would make that call.

      The thing that I’m concerned about is if his social media is being left up, he’s just not adding new content, what if something old he posted makes the rounds again and gets interpreted as something he made since being hired? Sometimes posts get screenshotted without the relevant dates attached. That would be an argument to close the social media accounts entirely but that would be an even larger sacrifice.

      I think if I were OP’s friend I would want to have more in-depth conversations with the boss AND HR together to figure out what was and wasn’t okay and how things would be evaluated if someone from the company noticed a post they found concerning.

  13. Luna*

    LW1 – I can understand not calling him out in front of everyone, I would say it’s a bit akin to your boss reprimanding you for a mistake you made at work in front of the whole office. Maybe drop a DM or short email to the coworker, pointing out that ‘young lady’ sounds like talking down to someone and pretty much infantilizing, especially when used in a sentence about doing something a certain way.

    But your coworker should also not have decided for that to mean to stop talking entirely. I have anxiety and am on the spectrum, and I do tend to turn quiet after being (roughly) reprimanded for something because I feel I did wrong, and my anxiety spikes and tells me don’t say *anything*, in case it turns out to be annoying.
    Mostly because, by the time someone reprimands me, it’s been several instances of the problem and it was never brought up previously. (If they had mentioned something immediately, I doubt it would have been rough. Think, “Hey, what you said was kinda rude. Could you try to not say that again?” versus the usual “OmG, WTF is wrong with you for saying that?!”)

    Coworker needs to learn that names are okay to use. “No need to call me ‘Young lady’. ‘Luna’ will suffice.” Or just tell the coworker (and the manager) to grow up.

    LW2 – Dear friend, your boss has told you to stop something and gave you a good reason why. And there’s also the fact that what YOU might think is not ‘insider’ information at all is considered the same by HR, PR, or anyone that might look at your videos/blogs/etc.

    Especially since your presence is large enough to gain, and hold, the attention of this company. They know you talk about this a lot, they know they have told you to, at least, ease up on it, and they likely will keep an eye on your social media to make sure you are doing as they told you.

    Just something they should be aware of. If they still want to go through with it, any consequence coming their way is their own doing. And as a friend, OP will be there for sympathy because they know it was the friend’s dream job. But perhaps even a mention of “I told you so” will happen.

  14. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, I think this is an absolute TEXTBOOK example of something I read about how what really tells your character isn’t whether you mess up or not, it’s not even how BADLY you mess up, but rather how you react when called out on it. As Alison said, it’s quite likely he intended to be “courtly” but a decent person who intended to be complimentary and realised it was annoying people would be embarrassed and apologetic, not retaliatory. His response is the biggest deal here.

    LW3, it doesn’t really change the advice, but it is possible your new colleague has a good memory for these things and people in previous jobs relied on her. I have a pretty good memory and I have a colleague who I think has something pretty close to a genuine photographic memory – she will comment on how somebody voted at a meeting a year previously or tell somebody exactly what page 47 of some government document on teaching says in response to a question somebody asks – and people regularly do ask her stuff like “do I have a meeting today?” “When is the project my students have to do due?” and so on.

    It doesn’t change the fact that she shouldn’t be bringing it up unsolicited and certainly shouldn’t be asking people if it’s the best use of their time, etc, but just to say she might not be intentionally monitoring. I have freaked people out occasionally by mentioning something, like a previous head of department was talking about a student and I said, oh, yes, you said his primary school told us X when he joined the school and she was like, “did I?” I think she knew me well enough not to really be freaked but it was a reminder to me that quoting exact words a year or more after an event often comes across as odd.

    I wasn’t taking particular note. My mind just retains this stuff.

    1. WellRed*

      She is starting each day off by actively checking everyone’s calendar and questioning them. That’s not a “good memory” just busting to get out.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, reading the full thing and the replies, it really does seem like it’s not just something she does automatically.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      You’re right that the advice to shut it down is still spot on.

      I’ve had people looking out for me all my life, I somehow attract them, being scatterbrained. Three different friends looked out for me at school, reminding me about my homework etc. I had a “motherly” colleague who would very discreetly remind me to do something.
      And you know what? It DOES NOT HELP. It simply means that instead of coming up with a system or a strategy to make sure I remember something, I just rely on that person to remind me.
      What does help? letting me screw up royally! I wince so hard from the pain after I’ve screwed up, that I immediately scramble to find some way of no longer screwing up.
      I freelance nowadays, so there’s literally nobody to remind me of anything. And I’m making enough of a success of it that I have plenty of time to comment here :-)

      Grown adults should not be asking whether they have a meeting. They should be clicking to view their schedule that they filled in by themselves as responsible adults.

  15. London Calling*

    ‘My name is X, not young lady,’ in the flattest, calmest tone you can muster while looking him in the eye. Rinse and repeat as often as you can bear.

    1. Tired and Confused*

      I once had some success with a cheerful “oh, I’m not as young as I look, you can call me MyName” in a meeting. The guy was obviously pissed by being called out but he did stop calling me that. Thing is with guys like that there is no winning because they are total a**holes or they wouldn’t be calling you that.

      1. London Calling*

        I had one colleague (in a temp job, thank goodness) who persistently got my name wrong. Like Marie instead of Mary; and he’d grin at me each time he did it. I found that responding in kind worked quite well with the added bonus of him getting huffy about it. Yeah, not so funny now, right?

        1. La Triviata*

          The name I use is a family name, but also a fairly common man’s name (I’m a woman). At one job, a client refused to accept that it was the name I used and so decided my name was actually a fairly common woman’s name. She’d call and ask for me by that name, which confused the rest of the office, send mail to me in that name … it was annoying, but I had to live with it since she was a client.

        2. MAC*

          In college, I worked on campus. My little cubby was next to security, which employed students also. I have a 2-name first name (think BobbieJo) and this one dude could NOT get that through his head and consistently called me Bobbie. I repeatedly and patiently explained that I wasn’t responding because I didn’t realize he was talking to me because that wasn’t my name. It honestly doesn’t register with me! (Also because he was constantly trying to talk to me when I was trying to DO MY WORK and he seemed to think he was entitled to my undivided attention.)

          He had an adrogynous name (Kerry, I think?) and was EXTREMELY put out one day when I called him Kelly.

  16. Grey Coder*

    LW4 – You absolutely can ask for extra compensation for extending your notice period. When I gave notice at ExJob, my manager asked if I could stay an extra two weeks to finish a project. I said, basically, “what’s in it for me?” He was completely prepared for this and offered me most of my annual bonus, which I otherwise would have missed entirely. (The bonus wasn’t due to be paid for a few months, and it wasn’t enough money to change the timing of my departure overall.)

    I was a little surprised because the project I was staying for wasn’t that important. My manager left a few months after I did though, so in retrospect I think he was just looking out for my interests and wanted me to get my bonus.

    1. Mockingjay*

      I would caution OP4 against extending. The benefit is all to your old company and as Alison noted, can color your initial perceptions with New Company. OP4 gains nothing by extending; even the money they are asking for is only what New Company would pay for that period, not extra.

      You and your former coworkers are leaving Old Company for reasons. Have those reasons changed? Probably not. Don’t stay in place. Move forward.

      1. Antilles*

        even the money they are asking for is only what New Company would pay for that period, not extra.
        I wasn’t clear on that part either.

        If OP4 is going to extend the notice period and risk irritating New Company, the cost for that is *not* simply matching what you’d miss out on elsewhere. You are doing OldCompany an enormous favor by delaying your start date elsewhere – and you should expect such favor to be richly rewarded.

        If all you’re getting is what you’d get elsewhere, then what’s the point?

        1. Grey Coder*

          Oh yeah, I missed that bit. In my case because I was getting most of a years’ bonus for two weeks work, effectively I more than doubled my pay for those two weeks. Well above what I was getting at the new job (which didn’t mind the delay in my start date).

          If it’s not a substantial amount of extra money — more than your new salary — don’t bother.

    2. L'étrangere*

      The only reason to extend notice would be if it would allow OP4 to finish a major project they were attached to, or some such personally professional concrete goal. But just for the convenience of the unloved previous employer, just because someone did it before? You don’t need to conform to a silly tradition. Just consider yourself lucky to be warned that they will probably try to talk you into it, and prepare a suitably bland but firm and short refusal (“it would be inconvenient for my new employer”?).

  17. Helvetica*

    LW#1 – I once had an older male coworker who would sometimes, jokingly, address female colleagues as basically “Miss Smith” or “Missis Smith” (we do not use last names like this in the workplace). It’s not as fraught in my language as in English – and we do not have Ms – but it still grated on me, since there was something condescending about it. So one time, when he again addressed me as “Miss Smith”, I just calmly and not in a joking manner said “John, my name is Jane”. I don’t think he had received this pushback before because he did seem surprised for a moment but to his credit, he never again called me by anything than my first name.

    1. Xaraja*

      Here in the southeast US (what is often referred to as just “The South”), it is very common to call women “Miss FirstName”. It’s not even just men who do it. I haven’t been able to figure out all the rules for why and when it’s done. I first noticed it when I had a good friend who was from Texas even though we lived in the Midwest and he would sometimes address me that way but not always. Now that I live in the South I know why he did that but I haven’t figured out the system for determining when and who is addressed that way.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Native (Southeast) Southerner here. The rules for the use of “Miss Mary” vs. just plain Mary are rather complex. Usually it’s used as a sign of respect. Ex: your aunt’s 90 year old best friend, a child addressing a Sunday school teacher, what your children’s friends call you, etc. Sometimes it’s a sign of affection. I have been known to use it in a teasing manner with some of my friends. I have a friend named Vicky I call “Miss Vicky.” We both remember Tiny Tim addressing his wife that way. (Yes, I’m old.) There was a little girl in our church named Dixie that almost everyone addressed as ” Miss Dixie.” I always thought that was odd.
        Of course, it can also be condescending. (Like the use of “young lady.”) There was a woman in our church who used to address me that way, and it used to set my teeth on edge. Yes, I was older than her, but only about 5 years, and she wasn’t a good friend. Not an enemy, but not buddies. I just put up with it because I didn’t want to start any drama and I didn’t see her very often.
        So as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. Use it it feels comfortable to you, don’t if it feels fake.

      2. Pisces*

        As an aside, in Gone with the Wind it wasn’t lost on Scarlett O’Hara when she asked who a woman on the street was, and the driver answered, “Her name Belle Watling.”

        Watling was a madam.

      3. Helvetica*

        Yeah, I’ve heard that about the South (and honestly, in the commentariat here!)
        I am not from the US at all, and there is definitely no such existing and enforced social custom here, so it was very uncommon in the workplace in my country.
        In my local context, “Miss FirstName” harkens me back to a time when my country had clearly defined social classes where you could definitely address someone way above you in stature as “Miss FirstName”. If he had done that then the connotation right now would be that he thought I was snobbish and expected to be treated deferentially. Come to think of it, had he addressed me as such, that would have been even worse than the “Miss LastName”.
        All in all, naming customs are fascinating but this case was definitely an older man trying to be “funny” and not really succeeding.

      4. Anonymouse*

        I have a female co-worker who regular refers to me as “Miss MyFirstName” when we’re on a 1-1 call. For context, she’s probably about my age (although I am generally mistaken for younger than my actual age), she’s Latina (I’m white), and we’re in the DMV, although the main company office is in Georgia, and we’re both in (completely different) support roles.

        I’m not gonna say it never makes me blink, but from her, it’s always felt affectionate, rather than condescending. I’ve also gotten it in a few other contexts where I sort of suspect that the person using it does NOT address women that way as a matter of course, and I tend to chalk it up to a combination of factors including the aforementioned looking a bit younger than I am, having a generally sunny disposition and amiable nature, and the fact that my first name starts with “M”, making the “Miss M—” construction slightly more euphonious.

        I feel like there are probably some cases where I’d bristle at it, and I can understand why other people might be bothered where I’m not, but *shrugs*, amiable nature being amiable, I haven’t run into one yet that I can recall.

  18. Scarlet2*

    LW1 is yet another proof that it’s not so-called “woke” people who are most easily “triggered”.

    1. Observer*

      Uh, who exactly is “woke” in this scenario? Also, the only person who is claiming to have been triggered is Jerkk CW, who isn’t exactly woke, that’s for sure.

      But my question to you is why the snark against the OP? Why exactly do you think that it’s not OK to call out someone who is being rude and condescending?

      1. Jackalope*

        I think it’s the other way around here. My understanding of Scarlet2’s comment is pointing out that “Young Lady” dude is clearly not “woke” but is using an allegedly woke term (“triggered”) to describe his feelings when in fact he was just reaping the consequences of his actions. It’s a slam on him, not on the OP.

  19. Madame Arcati*

    #1 really grinds my gears. Firstly, I’m no expert in a relevant field but I’m pretty sure that is not what “triggered” means. Someone being called out fairly and correctly for poor behaviour is not triggered because they don’t like it. He’s just angry at being challenged, and hopefully ashamed although no guarantees on the latter.
    What makes me really annoyed is the boss who is basically saying, it’s not ok for him to be upset, but it is ok for you and your other female colleague to be upset (by his patronising sexist collects). You and your feelings (and office reputation, and potentially career) are less important than his.
    Pls someone get a fire extinguisher for the side of my face.

    1. PsychNurse*

      I DO work in a relevant field and you are 100% correct! I sort of find that use of “triggered” a little offensive.

    2. Despachito*

      Yes, this, absolutely! I feel the same.

      He is the one behaving WILDLY inappropriately (an adult sulking at a workplace? WTF? Can’t think of any single reason justifying that), but SHE is the one in the wrong and should perhaps apologize?

      WTF WTF WTF?

    3. ecnaseener*

      I mean, it *is* possible for criticism to be a trigger for things like rejection-sensitive dysphoria, trauma, etc. The manager would still be wrong, being triggered isn’t a free pass to escape the criticism or to stop cooperating for a week.

      Regardless, pretty sure this guy’s just being a jerk on purpose because he knows can get away with it.

    4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      yeah this is someone who knows nothing of triggers, who’s probably poo-poohed the need for trigger warnings on news articles etc., but pulls it out like a trump card as soon as he feels under attack.
      A true snowflake if ever there was one!

    5. Nameless in Customer Service*

      Well said. This common, deliberate, and mocking misuse of the term “triggered” is so infuriating.

  20. Despachito*

    OT Allison and the commenters – more than a hour ago I wrote a long-ish contribution, sent it, but it did not appear among the comments, although a shorter one I wrote later did. A similar thing happened to me yesterday, I wrote another comment in a similar vein, and considerably later (hours?) both of them appeared.

    Is this something that happened to other people, and does anyone know how it works and whether the best solution is just wait for it to appear, or something different? Thanks

    1. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I think all moderation for the site is done by Alison, so kind of depends how busy she is?

      1. Despachito*

        This is precisely what I am trying to find out – whether this is a question of moderation (if so, I’ll just happily wait whatever it takes knowing it is in the pipeline), but given that my other comments appeared immediately after I posted them I was thinking that there might be some sort of a technical glitch and wanted to flag it were it the case.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Happens a lot, with no definite indication as to what triggers moderation holds. There’s a link above the comment box to report tech issues.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          In my experience here over many years, when a post fails to appear it’s almost definitely being held in moderation. Lately it’s been happening to me more often. There are some ideas / words that will always trigger moderation but especially lately I have no idea what I typed that got flagged — but they always make it out eventually :)

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Also happening to me – I wrote a comment which didn’t appear and then wrote a rephrased version an hour or so later which has also gone into a black hole; I don’t think there was anything controversial or likely to set off a filter in either of them..

    3. I should really pick a name*

      That sounds like the comment went into moderation.

      If a comment contains a link, it automatically goes into moderation.
      There are also various words that also trigger moderation, though I have no idea what most of them are.

      I’d suggest just waiting.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Usually, when this happens to me it’s because I used a word that flagged it for moderation – I have figured out what some of them are but don’t want to get too far in the weeds. The best solution is waiting for Alison to release it, yes.

  21. PsychNurse*


    It seems weird to me that they hired him because of his online presence, and then immediately told him to stop having an online presence!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      It could be something like a Hollywood gossip blog, and he’s been employed by a Hollywood publicist. Now that he actually has genuine insider information as part of his job, it crosses the line from a random outsider gossiping and compiling information, to releasing confidential information, which would get him fired.

      Or running a gossip blog about politics, or video games, or leaks and guesses about upcoming movies – doing it before he’s hired and has access to trade secret is very different than after, and it would be a very hard line to walk.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        I’ve followed fan bloggers who got a job in comics and whose online presence tapered off very quickly afterwards- friend could have been hired to help create the media he’s been reviewing/critiquing.

        1. NYWeasel*

          Many artists get hired bc of the fan art they generate, but once they are internal employees, their access to marketing or scripting info severely limits what they can say online.

        2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          I have seen personal finance bloggers who stopped posting or even took their blog down when they got a new job. That said, I don’t know if their blogs were specifically cited as reasons they got the jobs.

          What’s weird to me is that the company fires people no warning, no appeal, EVEN AFTER HR has given them approval to keep blogging. But I suppose it depends on the circumstances, which we AAM readers are multiple layers away from.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            What’s weird to me is that the company fires people no warning, no appeal, EVEN AFTER HR has given them approval to keep blogging.

            I agree that this is a little strange, but it makes sense if it’s viewed as a “need two OKs to continue, one veto to stop” situation because the manager/management and HR have different assessments of what is acceptable. The person who was fired before was in a tough spot because from what we know, there was no warning from management just immediate dismissal.

            OP’s friend is in a better spot because it seems clear to me (and the OP) that the boss is saying “HR gave you permission but that is not sufficient. You should stop your personal social media accounts because I am telling you they are not OK.” Whether the friend listens is up to them, but they have been warned.

          2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            > the company fires people

            So the boss says. I am starting to be a bit suspicious of the boss’s motives.

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Yeah, this has happened with a few of the authors I follow on social media who have started writing for Star Wars in the last couple of years. They’re still big fans and they still love and talk about the stories, but they can’t speculate and theorize in public the way they could before they were officially on the writing staff.

    2. mreasy*

      I work in a “dream job” type industry, and we have pretty strict social media policies because our industry has “reporters” and general gadflies who love to find gossip where it may or may not be. The social chatter may feel neutral, but it’s easy to say something innocuous as an employee of X that seems like confirmation of someone’s other sources about X. It may be annoying but it makes sense as a policy.

    3. Snow Globe*

      Makes sense to me. They hired him because he demonstrated a lot of knowledge and interest about the industry. But once he’s employed by them, if he starts talking about the industry on social media, it’s not just a random person talking, it could be seen as “representative of abc company” talking, even though he’s not actually intending to represent the company. He cold also make a reference to speculation about something happening in the industry that turns out to be true, and higher ups at the company may think he’s using his insider knowledge to release confidential information. So many ways this could go wrong!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, “dream job” kinda set me uneasy- nightmares are dreams also.
      There’s lots of variables here.

    5. Pierrot*

      I actually read about this happening to a Tik Tok person recently. She used her account to make videos about breaking into the tech industry & financial advice. She got a job in tech, made a video about her salary and budget, and the company fired her. They might have given her a chance to take the video down first and she didn’t, I’m not totally sure. The thing is that the story came from her, not the company, so there might have been other details that weren’t disclosed. The tricky thing here was it was about her sharing her salary so legally she might have a right to do that without getting fired. Ultimately the concern was that this is someone who seems comfortable talking a LOT about her job and the specific company she works for on the internet and there was a concern about whether she’d disclose confidential information or trade secrets.

      I think the difference comes down to whether they’re asking the friend to cease having an online presence all together versus cease talking about subject matter that is related to the place where he works. I am guessing that there’s a way he could be able to continue creating content about the subject he’s passionate about, but he might need clarification and guidelines on what’s off limits. HR or the communications department at this company should be prepared to talk through that with him- for example, if he works for a record label, is it that he can’t talk about musicians who are on that label? Or does that expand more broadly to creating content about music in general?

      It might also be a matter of stepping on toes. The communications and marketing department probably has very specific guidelines on creating content that represents the company, and if he’s not part of the social media/communications department they might see a risk of him stepping on toes or not following the branding guidelines.

    6. one L lana*

      Not necessarily. I’m in media, where having a good Twitter feed/newsletter/YouTube channel can absolutely help you get a job because it’s another way to demonstrate the skills you’d bring to the job. Once people are hired, though, managers generally prefer that the energy, effort and ideas go into creating work for the company. (How much this actually matters depends on the platform. Most reporters tweet more than their editors want them to. But if you were a reporter who saved your best scoops for a personal newsletter, that would be a big deal and a firing offense if it happened multiple times or after you’d been told to shut the newsletter down.)

      1. one L lana*

        I don’t think OP is in media given their description of the concerns, but it absolutely is a field where someone could have a good blog/twitter feed/youtube/tiktok as a way to break in and then be told to shut it down as soon as they’d broken in.

  22. Sotired*

    When my DH was promoted and there were many older people in similar but less titled positions, they called him young man. Clearly a put down, they were implying he did not have the experience.

    1. ManyHats*

      Wow, I’m sorry that happened to him. When I first got my job, I was the youngest full-timer on staff and some people would make references to “child labor laws.” I let them know that if their comments continued, I’d be visiting HR, and also that I was documenting every incident.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, it as really rude of them to do that, though it is worse in many ways with women, especially if it is only happening to the two women in a male-dominated team. He is implying more than inexperience … the term “young woman” when combined with his behavior is implying that he thinks LW1 and her colleague are flighty, flippant, empty-headed, unreliable, and every other nasty stereotype applied to young women.

  23. NYWeasel*

    OP2: I have direct familiarity with this sort of situation having worked at a number of “dream” employers, and both the HR person AND the boss can both be right with what they are saying. From a broad sense, it’s not hard to follow the confidentiality rules. If you ask me about upcoming stuff, like “So are you expanding the iChocolate Teapot line?” you’ll either get some vague non answer using public knowledge like “That line has been really successful for us” or if you ask these questions over and over, you’ll get a blunt answer like “Even if I know I’m not able to answer you.” The HR person is likely entirely correct that it’s possible to keep posting with just a little extra caution.

    That said, I’ve seen a number of coworkers get let go over the years for slipping, and a lot of times it’s either from posting online or talking to groups. In both cases, since the goal is to position yourself as an expert, it’s really easy to go a little too far, and say something that then gets shared wider. For example, I might be speaking to a class, and someone asks the question above. Even a vague answer like “The iChocolate line is going to be the highlight of our fall releases” can get reposted from attendees and is close enough to the truth and the actual marketing goals to be considered confidential. For most online posting, there’s also stringent rules of having to declare your connections. So if I’m posting my thoughts about Tangerine Teaporium, I need to stare clearly that “I am an employee of DreamCo, and the views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of DreamCo.” The other mistake that I see getting made is that even if you declare your connections, it’s not carte blanche for tearing into Tangerine Teapots for their terrible customer service or whatever. On one level, you open yourself up to Tangerine Teapots calling your employer and saying “We don’t like what NYWeasel is saying about us, so you need to fire her or else we won’t place orders.” On another level, some comments along these lines can be construed as attempting to manipulate the market—me speaking against Tangerine Teapots could be seen as a way to boost Tea & Cheer’s reputation by comparison. If your friend’s words put DreamCo into awkward or potentially risky positions, they may need to fire him to prevent a larger risk and unfortunately these types of slips often don’t involve getting a warning (or even an investigation to show that your friend said anything prohibited). So the boss can also be right that it’s more prudent to stop posting about DreamCo and the industry rather than saying something that could get you in hot water.

    All the marketing and entertainment people I work with tend to simply share PR announcements like “Now I can share what I was doing for the past 8 months!” Trust me, if DreamCo is well-known enough, your friend will have no issues being perceived as an expert in the field no matter how long they step away, by virtue of their employment. “Former DreamCo employee dishes on this year’s saucer releases!” is always going to attract attention.

    1. Purple Cat*

      This is a really good explanation of the issues and perspectives.
      I’m not a gambling person, so I wouldn’t risk it, but I definitely understand not wanting to give up the hobby, even for a “dream job”.

      1. Squidlet*

        I understand it too, but OP2 says that the friend “worked hard to build that up in the hopes of one day switching fields” – it was a means to an end, and an end that he’s now achieved. I’m guessing that it’s become more important to him, but it seems a bit foolhardy to risk his “dream job” for the sake of positioning himself to get into the industry… and if his direct manager has warned against it, he won’t get any support from that quarter if he oversteps.

        That said, OP2 has voiced an opinion and the friend needs to make his own decision.

        1. Buu*

          LW2 I work in a creative industry where it is seen as good to have an industry profile but where there is a high level of media interest and community aggression. Which has led to a huge variety of responses to online activity.

          If the company has a social media or community management team it may be worth your friend talking to them. They may understand things a bit better and have a clear social media policy. Also good to flag to them they have a profile and experience if they need staff for on camera work.

          If they OK it. Then it’s good to have contacts there who can support them if drama does happen.

    2. NovaAnon*

      Not to mention in the finance industry (where LW2’s friend works), institutions that offer any information on investment products or securities on their sites have explicit disclaimers about how the information is represented and how it is not. LW2’s friend’s employer may be worried that if the friend’s online presence isn’t properly disclaimed, they could get in trouble with the SEC or FINRA.

          1. Littorally*

            Dang, if it was in there and I missed it, I was gonna have a lot more to say on the topic! :)

    3. El l*

      Yeah, the day your Dream Company has an Investor Relations department is the day you have to vet literally everything you say in public.

      That’s part of the trade you make in working for them.

  24. Not really a Waitress*

    LW #1. From personal experience, I don’t see any advantage in having this conversation privately. Because it was public, there is no chance he can claim something was said that wasn’t.
    Young lady is patronizing at best. And I am sorry (not sorry) he is triggered but honestly, if he has been doing it in front of your boss and your boss hasn’t said anything I would be even more ticked.

    I say let him have his tantrum. The longer he does it, the worse he looks.

    By the way, my coworker/counterpart calls me witch and I call him old man. But its all in good fun.

  25. Been There*

    LW1 – I’m struggling more with the idea that she was asked to soften the message than the idea that he was huffy about being called out. The man who called her ‘young lady’ is certainly wrong both in what he said and how he reacted – but to my thinking the real problem is the manager who said it was more important to protect his feelings on the matter and she should have softened the message for him. It’s pretty well known that calling adults ‘young lady’ is offensive, so even if this was the first time she brought it up, it can’t have been that much of a surprise. I’d be tempted to talk to the manager about ‘triggering (the current correct term is ‘activating’) women by being told to soften their message to placate the men in the room.

  26. ManyHats*

    1 – I am 52 and anyone around my age who doesn’t know it’s inappropriate to call colleagues “young lady” (or “young man”, for that matter, although I never hear about that happening) is an absolute fool. I have a coworker in his 70’s who used to do it to me only a few years ago and I set him straight in private. It never happened again and we’re on good terms now. OP’s colleague is behaving like a petulant toddler and it infuriates me that her boss is enabling him. He’s refusing to do part of his job, for fox sake!

    1. ManyHats*

      Actually, anyone of ANY age who doesn’t know it’s wrong to call other adults by such names is a clod.

      1. ManyHats*

        Oh, and Alison – “courtly”? REALLY? Try cutesy and condescending. Jerks like this know they’re in the wrong, every single time.

    2. Four of tem*

      I’m going to remember the for fox sake. Unfortunately when spoken, that may be indistinguishable from another word.

  27. Hiring Mgr*

    The older employee may have been referring to “Jung Ladies”, the tell-all biography of pioneering psychologist Carl Jung and his notorious womanizing. /s

    But seriously, I agree with those who are side-eyeing the manager here… Sounds like he’s trying to avoid conflict by indulging the petulance..

  28. OP3*

    That is an angle I hadn’t considered. Thank you! I’ll be prepared to receive that response when I bring it up with her. I envy your memory! That must be very helpful to your team.

  29. Up and Away*

    I have to jump in here with an experience similar to LW#1. I overheard one of our upper management (a male in his 60s) tell our receptionist that she should “smile!” It’s worth noting that I have heard him say this before to other women, including me. On several occasions he would walk past my desk, see me looking intently at my computer (you know, concentrating and problem solving), and he would say, “Why so serious? You need to smile!” OK…what?? So when I overheard him telling the receptionist (who reports to me) to smile, I called him out on it by saying, “Telling women to smile just isn’t done anymore. She doesn’t need to conform to what you think she should be doing with her face.” WELL. To say that didn’t go over well is an understatement. It turned into a two week pout fest and an e-mail to me saying how “his friends” thought I was being ridiculous (I’m the HR manager, btw), and that things have really gotten out of hand in society. I did my best to explain to him where I was coming from, and tried to help him see what it was like to be a woman being told how she should be feeling or arranging her facial expression for the benefit of others. He just didn’t get it. He did stop saying it though, so mission accomplished I guess?

    1. ManyHats*

      He sounds awful. A couple of years ago, as I was walking into work, a guy who works for another agency in our building told me “slow down – a lady shouldn’t walk so fast!” He actually followed me down a long hallway and around a corner to do this. I was so creeped out that I called security and they were in my office in a hot second. Something tells me that wasn’t he first time he’d been reported.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I had a coworker once who would wink at the women in the office if he passed us in the halls, and a bunch of us had already told him we didn’t like it and he should stop. One day, my boss and I were leaving a conference room and he walked by and winked at us. She said “I’ve asked you not to do that,” he responded “I know, I’m sorry, it’s a habit. I’m just trying to be friendly.” So I said “then why do you wink at us but never at Henry or Kyle?” And he just stood there blank faced for a moment and said “Oh.”

        I don’t know if it stopped the winking entirely, but he never winked at me again.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Thank you for taking that on! His behavior did change so yes, mission accomplished. We can’t change how other people feel, so while it would have been great if he had “seen the light” and understood why it’s bad to tell women to smile, the behavior change is the most important part.

    3. Luna*

      You should have told him that he can keep telling women to smile… as long as he will not complain when said women then tell HIM to smile, too. “Why so glum? Smile, you always tell me it makes things better. Now, Fergus, how can I smile when you walk around with a pout the size of Texas?”
      Treat others as they treat you. Maybe that would have taught some lessons.

      PS: ‘My friends think you are ridiculous’. What the heckarooney, that’s such an immature thing to say…

    4. Kyrielle*

      Thank you for standing up for her.

      Honestly, if there is anything that this pandemic has given me, it is the (never yet had a chance to be used) idea of whipping out a creepy grinning mask (Cheshire Cat on the nice end, zombie or skeleton on the other) and putting it on if someone tells me to smile.

  30. CheesePlease*

    OP 1 – your coworker is being childish and so is the manager who says he was “triggered”

    I had an experience where a coworker (40ish) called me (20ish) “sweetheart” in a condescending tone (ie: “slow down sweetheart”) and I saw flames so fast I turned and said curtly “don’t call me sweetheart” and he apologized, seeing how serious I was, and never called me sweetheart again. We did talk to each other at work though, and he was still condescending in other ways lol. But at least he called me by my name. That’s the sort of reaction I would expect from a coworker, not a silent treatment.

    1. Esmeralda*

      Hahaha, in grad school one of the profs (older, but not that old), called me “Cupcake” at a department gathering. Before I could even think, out I came with “Cupcake? Did you REALLY just call me… Cupcake?” Very very very loudly.

      I will say he had the good grace to apologize right there, in front of his colleagues and the other grad students.

      And NO ONE has ever called me a cupcake or any other baked good since.

  31. Spicy Tuna*

    For #1, I honestly don’t think there is a good way to handle that kind of situation, unfortunately. Of course, she was right to speak up, but I can’t think of any scenario where the offender wouldn’t have behaving immaturely / negatively

    In the late ’90’s / early aughts, I worked in a male dominated industry and I was the only woman in my department. One day, one of my clients came into the office. He was an older guy, from a different culture than our department. He greeted all the men by name and said to me “hey baby”. I had worked with this guy for years and had a great, respectful relationship. Calling me baby was NOT offensive; I knew he didn’t mean anything belittling by it.

    After he left the office, my boss asked if it bothered me. I said “absolutely not; that’s just Ralph”. My boss said he HAD to address it with my client. I said it truly didn’t bother me and that Ralph would 100% take it the wrong way. My boss said he had to say something, “because of HR”… we were in a branch office and there was no HR on site. I offered to sign something releasing them from any blowback. No dice.

    The next time I talked to my client, he said right away, “if you had a problem with how I address you, why didn’t you say something? Why did you run to your boss to complain?”. I said I had NO issues; he could call me whatever he wanted as long as he kept the business flowing, but that my boss had the problem.

    It didn’t matter. Damage was done. He refused to continue working with me. My business dried up. I had just finished getting my MBA. The company had provided some tuition reimbursement but I also had student loans. Thankfully, the company didn’t require me to continue working for them in exchange for the tuition reimbursement as I had to leave for a better paying job.

    The company irritated a big client and lost a talented employee that they just spent money educating in order to placate “HR”. This happened 20 years ago and it still irritates me.

    I know my situation is different from OP’s as I wasn’t bothered by the term used to address me (and in my situation, it wasn’t done in a condescending manner), but my point is (in defense of how OP handled things) that if women are to be taken seriously in the workplace, they should be allowed to handle workplace issues how they see fit.

    1. Ana Gram*

      But, in your scenario, your boss did have an obligation to shut down sexism in the workplace. You, personally, may not mind being called “baby” and others might not care about sexist jokes or pats on the behind or porn magazines floating around. That’s not something you can release the company from liability for because it’s illegal. It’s like saying you’re aware of fraud at work but you’re willing to ignore it. (Not a perfect comparison.)

      It sounds like it had really negative ramifications for you and I’m sorry for that but your boss did do the right thing in this scenario.

      1. Wisteria*

        Welll…specific acts and behaviors are not illegal. Specific acts and behaviors that are *unwelcome* are illegal. Most offices will shut down the examples you give bc there is a really high risk that someone will find them unwelcome, thus opening the office to a harassment or hostile work environment charge. But it’s the unwelcome part that makes acts harassing or hostile. Not the specific act itself.

        1. Ana Gram*

          Right, the boss needed to shut down the behavior which he did. If you’ve ever attended a sexual harassment training, this is one of the super obvious examples that gets brought up… heck, even the ones from the 90’s with cringey, awkward acting!

    2. EBStarr*

      I get that it’s incredibly frustrating to lose a client because you weren’t allowed to handle a situation in the way you wanted. But frankly if I were your boss I would have done the same, although without blaming a fictitious “HR” — I’d have owned the choice. I’d have explained to you that I simply didn’t want to create an environment where that kind of behavior seemed to be acceptable just because in this one case you were willing to make an exception. What happens if another woman is hired in the department? Now she’s under pressure to either accept being called “baby” (gross) or to be blamed for something that the *other* woman (you) was always OK with, and that’s a terrible situation to put her in.

      Your solution only worked as long as you remained the only woman in the department and willing to play along with the sexism to get what you wanted. It’s a classic “cool girl” situation — not saying this to blame you, I know that’s a survival tactic in a male-dominated environment — and not sustainable long-term. Your boss seems to have done a poor job communicating his reasoning, and maybe he could have improved the outcome by letting you provide the feedback directly, or making it clear when he gave the feedback that you personally had disagreed with it. But overall? “Let this guy continue behaving inappropriately” was never a good option. It’s not that your boss disrespected you, it’s that his job was to create an environment that doesn’t include grossly sexist behavior, and that’s what he did.

      And I really don’t see how you can look back on this story and assert that this client was respectful or that they didn’t mean any harm. I mean he literally refused to keep working with you after that, and he blamed you for a private correction to his behavior that didn’t even come from you! He sounds like a jerk. I’m sure it’s served you well in your career to be able to form productive working relationships with all kinds of people, but I’m not buying the description that this relationship was “respectful” if it only remained so as long as the guy was allowed to call you “baby.”

      1. Indigo Five Alpha*


        The guy sounds awful. I’m sorry it had negative repercussions, but honestly, he needed to learn.

      2. londonedit*

        Yep. I’m afraid ‘that’s just Ralph’ is precisely what allows men to get away with harassing women and it’s honestly time that sort of attitude was stamped out for good. Jane complains about Ralph making creepy comments about her skirt? ‘Oh, come on, that’s just Ralph, everyone knows that’. Anne confides in her boss that Ralph has made sexual comments to her? ‘Oh just ignore Ralph, he doesn’t mean anything by it, it’s just the way he is!’ Sarah makes a formal complaint because Ralph tried to corner her in a meeting room? ‘Listen, Ralph’s an important client – OK he’s a bit inappropriate sometimes but he’s harmless really, just be nice to him until the deal’s closed’. None of that is appropriate behaviour and women absolutely should not have to put up with that sort of complete and utter bullcrap ANYWHERE, let alone at work.

        1. Luna*

          Whenever I hear people using phrases like ‘that’s just how Garnet is’ or similar, it always makes me think of a comedian that said phrases like ‘Greg is just being Greg’ translate to ‘Greg is an f-ing a-hole’.

          And your comment is just a show of how small things tend to turn into big things. They start off with really small things that some people would really not consider a big deal, like referring to a woman as ‘sweetheart’. But since nobody pushes back on that, they proceed to go further and get more offensive with their speech, if not even advancing to physical actions instead of just verbal ones.
          Stomp that weed before it flowers, don’t even let it get to a blooming stage!

      3. Observer*

        but I’m not buying the description that this relationship was “respectful” if it only remained so as long as the guy was allowed to call you “baby.”

        Neither am I. I think you described the situation very accurately.

      4. Jackalope*

        I have to agree with the last paragraph here. I can understand how you might have been upset with the way things ended up. But if he’d really been such a wonderful and respectful guy then he would have found a way to keep working with you after being told not to call you “baby”.

      5. Emmy Noether*

        Agreed, this is so well explained!

        It sucks that women (and minorities) often have to choose between putting up with unacceptable behaviors and actual risk to their livelihood. The “cool girl” trap is so easy to fall into, because it works! Until it doesn’t, and puts you in a worse position than before, that is.

        It’s actually good that the boss wanted to take the hit for her by saying something. He should have actually followed through though, by not making the clients shitty reaction her problem. It seems he had the right idea, but bad execution (as evidenced by blaming it on”HR”, which doesn’t make me confident he worded it well to the client).

    3. Observer*

      Actually, it seems to me that although your boss didn’t handle it that well, he had a very good point. The fact that the client reacted this way says something very problematic about his attitude. Let’s face it, you told him that you were ok with it, but he didn’t believe you. Why? Probably because he knew that most women WOULD have a problem with it, and therefore assumed that you, being a woman would OF COURSE go running to your boss and then lie about it. Because, don’t you know, that’s what women do. That thought process is very common.

      Please realize that whatever you think he meant, the simple fact that the only person he didn’t call by name was also the only woman in the office really can’t be taken as anything but sexist. Especially since he was using a term that is commonly used as an endearment and it was a work relationship with a power imbalance that you both explicitly aware of.

    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Your boss was in the right. The company allowing that behavior was normalizing it and creating an environment that told the men it was ok and that would tell any other woman working there that it was ok. And other women hearing you be called that could make them feel uncomfortable and like they had no right to speak up. I am sorry it had a negative affect on your business, but your boss was absolutely correct for shutting it down, and just should have made it clearer to the gentleman that it was not in response to a complaint on your part but part of a company wide policy.

    5. Despachito*

      I seriously question the “respectful” here, because Ralph, despite working with you satisfactorily with no problems up to this moment, turned extremely vindictive, blamed YOU, completely disregarded your explanations (which should not been necessary at all), and refused to work with you, depriving you of your livelihood as a result.

      This is not what I would call “great, respectful relationship”, quite the opposite.

    6. Despachito*

      I think the truly respectful thing would have been “Spicy Tuna, I am very sorry, I did not realize it was inappropriate, it will definitely be Spicy Tuna from now on. Now, let’s talk about the Jones case”.

      What he really did was petty, retaliatory and machistic, what a j.rk.

  32. kiki*

    Letter 1: I think it’s humorous that a lot of the people who talk about younger generations being too sensitive or easily triggered react like this man when called out on something relatively minor.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      If the boss told me I’d “triggered” him by calling him out for using sexist and demeaning language like that, I’d be tempted to tell my boss that he better tell the guy to stop being a precious “snowflake” then and do his job!

      Admittedly, I think talking to him privately first would be more appropriate, but honestly, the boss’s response to all this is really troubling!

    2. Despachito*

      I discover this is pretty common overall (that a person dishing out condescending remarks is unable to take even minor criticism). I think it is done out of some internal insecurity, but it is a thing for the person to handle, not the environment.

  33. Esmeralda*

    OP #1. I don’t know who’s the bigger asshole here, your coworker or your boss. Probably your boss.

    Let’s remember that 50 is not that old. People in their 50s were born in the 1970s. They mostly went to co-ed schools. Girls played sports. Many women were in the work place, at all social classes. Daycare was a thing. There is no good reason for these bozos not to know how to treat women equitably, and if they somehow got thru 50 years without learning that “young ladies” is condescending, well, they’re learning it now — and at 50 years old, they should know how to respond.

    Unless you were born before 1950, there’s no excuse. My dad, who is in his 80s, figured it out. My father in law, an irascible old fart, even he, close to 90 (born in 1926) when he passed, figured it out.

    Do not be cowed, OP. Could you have done this privately? Yeah, but then everyone else in the room would see that you had “allowed” that condescending crap to go unremarked.

    And really, what the hell is wrong with the other guys in the room? They’re assholes too for letting it go unremarked.

    1. Veryanon*

      Exactly. I’m in the same age cohort as this guy, and grew up with women being very present in all aspects of professional life. It was never “a thing” for our generation to refer to people in the workplace as “young ladies” unless they were being deliberately sexist.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      The boss is worse … or at least the more serious red flag for OP about the reality of working at this company.

    3. PotsPansTeapots*

      Eh, my dad’s in that age bracket, roughly. He’s actually really great about gender politics in the office, but I could definitely see some of his buddies thinking they were being ironic by saying “young lady” or think, “I’m a feminist guy and we’re all in on the joke!”

      That is absolutely the wrong behavior and bad reasoning, but that’s how I ascribed that behavior in my head.

  34. A More Brilliant Orange*

    If your employer was laying you off, would they be open to extending your job a few weeks before they walked you out the door?

    And yet, they so many companies seem comfortable asking employees to extend their notice period by not only weeks, but often months. Knowing they are not only costing the departing employee money, but jeopardizing their new job prospects.

    It’s business. It’s not personal. You don’t have to give them an extended notice period. And if you do, you should be paid a premium.

  35. Patches023*

    LW6: What is the deadline to apply? I looked over the materials and obviously missed where it said the deadline.

  36. Jones*

    Work with him or not, it’s up to you. You have the right to not be referred to as a young lady. Likewise, he has the right to not mentor you if he doesn’t want to.

    1. Kel*

      It’s not the mentoring; this man is refusing to do all work with the team including speaking on any work calls. He’s also appearing offline for IM when they all work remote. He’s throwing a hissy fit.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yeah, the boss needs to stop worrying about him for being “triggered” over being called out and tell him to do his job or expect to be terminated. I cannot believe the boss’s reaction here. I’m guessing this place does not have good and competent HR.

    2. Dr. Hyphem*

      He does have the right to mentor someone or not as he chooses, but making mentorship contingent on the ability to call people sexist, infantilizing, and/or otherwise demeaning terms is not a good look. Some might even say an abuse of power…

  37. Kel*

    OP 1: I would also start calling the older coworker ‘young lady’ and when he asks why just say ‘oh, sorry I thought that’s what we called people here.’

    OP3: Holy cow, that is wild and Alison is right, you need to step in here, because the next step is her starting to report it to YOU and expecting you to take action on things she sees as ‘wasting time’.

  38. Anne Shirley*

    OP#1: I think you should continue to let your coworker call you a young lady on the condition that you get to call him a manbaby

  39. idwtpaun*

    LW 1, I’m seething right now on your behalf. No, your coworker wasn’t “triggered,” because it’s not an internet buzzword, it’s a serious symptom of PTSD. And I would guarantee that your coworker does not have PTSD about being called out for his sexism, he’s just throwing a tantrum, and it’s very concerning that your boss is indulging him in it! I very much admire you for standing up to the sexist rudeness and condescension you were being subjected to, I don’t know if I would’ve had the guts to do that for myself, but to me, both the coworker’s and your boss’s reactions show that this sexism is very ingrained into the culture – of the team, at least, if not the company.

    1. Student*

      To me, using “triggered” in this context was actually a red flag. It’s basically an admission that this guy has done this kind of BS before and gotten called out on it before, and has bad memories of the consequences. But apparently they’re not bad enough memories to change his behavior, only bad enough to get him blaming women for the consequences of his own bad behavior toward them.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, I don’t know if that’s actually the case. But it sure as anything resonates! In fact, it’s something I might even point out to HR.

  40. El l*

    OP2: There’s a price to pay for working for a given industry’s 800-pound-gorilla. And public messaging is a big one.

    I work in the power industry and for the biggest players literally everything you say in public has to be cleared with Investor Relations first. Anything that could plausibly affect their share price has to be vetted – and it’s a fireable offense if you don’t do it right.

    Look, it sounds like nobody – your friend, the hiring committee, anybody – really thought through whether it made sense to hire a social media star at a place where messaging is tightly controlled. Sounds like somebody senior wanted to be “with it” and they just can’t be.

    So while it’s not all your friend’s fault, it’s officially no longer their dream job or dream company. It’s their choice, but it’s time to choose whether they adapt or whether they want to “stay true to themselves.”

  41. El l*

    If they are having to make this choice, it is officially no longer their dream job or dream company. Time for them to choose whether to adapt to the company’s tightly-controlled-messaging – or whether they choose to “stay true to themselves” etc. You’ve given your opinion, now let them choose.

  42. Oscar Martinez*

    Federal Loan Reminder–be sure to check into how your state is handling for taxes! I saw a news item that my state (WI) will treat the forgiveness amount as personal income.

    1. Veryanon*

      Pennsylvania’s governor has announced that PA will *not* consider this taxable personal income.

  43. What a way to make a living*

    LW 1 is clearly in the right, but I do see how the combination of pushing back in public, plus a tone of telling him off, might have been particularly unhelpful.

    However, his reaction is so wildly disproportionate that I have to wonder whether he is constantly behaving in ridiculous ways, and this was the last straw.

    I worked with a man like that once. He didn’t bring out the best in me. But his behaviour was just astonishing. And often indulged.

    From your boss’s reaction to this situation, it sounds like this guy is usually indulged too, which is probably how it got to this point.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      The boss’s behavior is actually more concerning to me, since he is her boss. And he used the term “triggered” to refer to the man’s reaction to being corrected, which is pretty loaded language considering the context.

  44. Veryanon*

    “Young ladies” – can we all agree as a society just to drop this term completely? My mother and I were out to lunch recently – I am a middle aged woman and she is in her 70s. We are clearly, obviously, not young ladies. Yet our (young male) server kept saying things like “what can I get for you young ladies today?” Did he think it was cute? I don’t know. It was super annoying. Just stop it.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I think he did think he was being cute. As a society, we really need to teach our young men and boys better! They learn these bad habits early on!

  45. Duchess*

    Letter #1

    I’m 30 – my coworker is 70. I have just started calling him old man.

    “Thank you young lady” “You’re welcome old man.”

    It threw him off at first, but I just played dumb and acted like it was completely normal response since his interaction needed to reference my age and gender.

    He still will say young lady – but much less now – and I still respond with old man.

  46. Jen*

    #2. First of all, this is your friend’s decision, not yours.

    But this makes me think of the video game industry, which my husband used to work in and we still have a ton of friends who still do. There are very strict confidentiality agreements and it is clear that you are not to comment on the game in any forum. Leaks happen and people read into things they see online, and it can cause major problems for the parent company.

    I have a few friends who have maintained some sort of online presence while working in games, and they are very careful to not discuss anything that might be remotely related to their job – streaming other games, talking about other elements. Most of our friends don’t ever talk about their job, except to announce they’ve shipped a game. While there is a certain degree of occupational awe, it is still a job, one that can be very boring and stressful and definitely not as illustrious as social media may lead you to believe.

    As someone new to your industry, you don’t understand these norms and they’re probably being extra cautious with their recommendations until you understand industry norms.

  47. Guin*

    Control-freak calendar woman: Just take away her calendar access for other people. If she needs to meet with someone herself, she can send the person an invitation. Otherwise, tell your group to set their calendars so other people can only see if they are “busy” or “free.” This situation is exactly why I refuse to give anyone except my manager and my two teammates access to my calendar.

    1. Observer*

      Yes and no.

      Yes, she doesn’t need access to their calendars. But, no that’s not enough. She needs to hear clearly that she is NOT the “office mom” or the “de facto, unofficial chief of staff AKA the hall monitor.”

  48. Anonymoose*

    Argh argh argh, men who call women “young lady.”

    It’s bad enough when the man is actually older than oneself. In other 10 years, LW and her coworker will have 19-year-olds doing it, and believing themselves oh-so-suave.

    ‘Scuse me, I have to go chew iron and spit nails.

  49. Littorally*

    #2 – I have to say, I’m surprised that a major industry player (in whatever industry) doesn’t have an easily accessible social media policy that would cover this. I know my firm does! I get reminded of it regularly. I know pretty clearly what I can and cannot say in online posts, both in invite-only seminar type settings and in broadly accessible posts like this one. There’s no question of consulting my boss or a member of HR, because in either case the immediate and easy answer would be “Okay, did you read the social media policy? What isn’t clear?”

  50. Risha*

    LW3, please please please shut down that woman right now. Do it for the people who work under you. I’ve worked with too many people like the woman you describe….thinks she’s in charge, snoops around, is a busy body instead of doing her own work. Usually managers do not address it and let this type of person run wild in the office. Then they are shocked when people start leaving. Of course it’s harder to make the ahole stop being an ahole than to help the others, but as the manager, that’s what you need to do. Do not let this nonsense go on for another second. It doesn’t matter what her position was in the past, she’s not that now and needs to simmer down with what she’s doing.
    Alison gave a good script. Use it and know that she will argue and deflect and want you to go around in circles explaining/defending yourself. Don’t get caught up in that. State what you need to state then moving to write up may be the next option. I know her type. She will test you after the talk. Don’t tolerate it.

    1. Veryanon*

      Yep, this. I worked with someone like this in the past – we were peers, but she felt the need to police my calendar. I started marking all my meetings as “private” (which Outlook allows you to do) so that someone can see your calendar is busy, but can’t see what the meeting is for. She escalated that to our manager. I asked the manager, do you have any issue with how I’m performing my job or spending my time? No? Then get Co-worker to back off.

    2. El l*

      Yeah, agree with all of this. I would even throw in a comment like, “Making sure schedules make sense for our team is my job. Not your job, not here.

      “When you managed people, did you like it when someone else undermined you and did your job? No? Because that’s what you’re doing. That needs to stop, and if it doesn’t it’s going to be a performance issue.”

      1. Observer*

        When you managed people, did you like it when someone else undermined you and did your job? No? Because that’s what you’re doing. That needs to stop, and if it doesn’t it’s going to be a performance issue.”

        Your first comment was good. But do NOT say this, OP. Because she needs to step away from her prior management roles. She’s not a manager, and she needs to stop acting like she is.

  51. Ann Ominous*

    OP1, that’s so annoying! I would consider addressing it directly (because I’ve done it in the past, but it was to a person I managed so I had different standing).

    In my case, I found out my employee was taking out his mood swings on the people he managed. I asked him to not yell at his folks. He responded with ‘fine, I won’t joke around with them anymore either”

    I said “Help me understand your response. I asked you to stop raising your voice to your team. Are you saying you can’t communicate with them in a lighthearted way if you also can’t yell at them?”

    He didn’t know what to say, just looked at me silently. I told him this was work, no one is expecting him to be friends with everyone but I do expect him to be friendLY.

    He took that to heart and mostly changed, but I sure was glad when he ended up moving on. He took a ton of management.

  52. BellyButton*

    I love how the manager is so concerned about “young lady” guy’s feelings and not about the women’s feelings and what is appropriate or not. It makes me think of the song “A Scary Time”

    Lw1, at this point I would speak to your manager. “I know I could have handled this better by speaking to you first or to him privately. I was very frustrated that he devalues our contributions and could create a bias by making other people unconsciously view us as too inexperienced to know our jobs. His reaction now is to not talk to us at all, which creates more issues. How can this be addressed?”

    Depending on their answer, I would likely want to add “Being more concerned about his comfort and feelings and by protecting his use of gendered and aged bias language creates a gender line that is hard to navigate and breakthrough. ”

    Good luck, I hope you will update us.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I know, I was really bothered that the boss said she “triggered” the guy! Maybe correcting him publicly, at least the first time, was not the best choice. But the boss’s use of the word “triggered” was really loaded and suggests that he did not respect LW1’s greater point and that he had more concern over the guy’s embarrassment than over the use of gender and age biased language (stealing your phrasing) by an older male employee.

  53. KP*

    Men who react with temper tantrums when you pushback on being called “young lady” know exactly what they’re doing. He’s withholding because he expects you to show deference and since you didn’t, you’re being punished for it.

    My mentor called me “kiddo” once in a room full of directors after I had given a presentation. The meeting was wrapping up and he said, “Good job, kiddo.” I normally wouldn’t have cared, but he can’t do that in front of leadership. I laughed at him and told him I was five years younger than him. He realized immediately what he had done. He never did it again, even when it was just us, 1:1.

    Another older male colleague fell over himself apologizing when I explained that it was demeaning to call me “princess”. He thought princess was a compliment. That man apologized to me every day for a week.

    My point is, men who do this and who don’t immediately stop know exactly what they’re doing. They are intending to demean and belittle you. They want you in “your place.” Let him be an angry misogynist. You haven’t done anything wrong.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      >>record scratch<<

      Who the H*ll thinks "princess" is even remotely appropriate in a work setting???

      1. KP*

        He wasn’t thinking. An older female colleague was with me – she knows a very complicated process like the back of her hand. He made a comment like, “oh, you’re a queen!” when she discussed a potential solution to a problem.

        And I think in an effort to include me he called me princess. I had less experience, so I couldn’t be the queen, but I could be the princess. Or something. IDK. I had to explain that 1) I’m almost 40 and 2) princess has a history of being derogatory word when said in a professional setting, especially when it’s delivered from a man to a woman.

  54. Miss Suzie*

    #5 Weed is legal in many states, so asking about employee use would be like asking if employee drinks beer. Not the company’s business as long as it’s not done on company time or impairing the employee’s ability to do their job.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      They don’t actually specify weed. The question is so short I’d love more details. Is the manager asking about a specific drug? Are they asking about use at all or are they worried you’re under the influence *at work*? What are your company policies generally speaking?

      I think Alison’s advice stands but depending on where they live and what the associated details are the general concern might be warranted.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      We have zero idea what “drugs” are a concern.

      But it’s important to address something here – Being legal in a state does not in any way mean an employer cannot have a drug use policy and fire people who violate it.

      I personally think it stupid, but I don’t want people thinking their employer can’t fire them for off hours use.

      If your employer drug tests/has a policy you better know what it is and what the risks/implications are before deciding to violate it.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This is an important point for people to remember, thank you for raising it.

        Additionally any company that operates in multiple states or at the federal level might still need to behave as if THC is an illegal substance in their policies. It sucks. But we aren’t all the way there with this one yet.

  55. Lady Blerd*

    LW2’s friend reminds me of the many aspiring movie makers on YouTubers who do essays or movie reviews when their dream is to get into Hollywood proper. Even they jokingly say they’re willing to delete their online presence or take back any negative criticisms of particular studios if it means getting a job directing a Marvel movie (or whatever prestige project they can get). All this to say you said your piece but your friend is choosing to ignore your advice and play with fire. He may be ok or he may loose the job. But at this point, just be prepared to commiserate should he indeed loose the job because of his presence online.

  56. fifteen minutes of indiscriminate screeching*

    LW2 – not in the same industry, but in a similar position (i used twitter to network and amassed somewhat of a following before getting hired). as a coworker told me, “nobody ever got promoted for tweeting, but you sure as hell can get fired for it.”

    (social media managers an obvious exception)

  57. Hills to Die on*

    Re #1:
    Literally lol’d at this guy. What the kraznots.
    Honest question: is it really that bad that he’s refusing to talk to anyone? Can you work around him for the most part?

  58. A More Brilliant Orange*

    You’ve had two examples of passive-aggressive men in two days.

    Yesterday Kevin the present giver, and today Mr. Young Lady.

    Today’s guy is claiming victim status (saying he was triggered) and refusing to interact with teammates (an aggressive act).

    The LW should point out to her boss the passive-aggressive behavior and ask if that is acceptable behavior for a work environment (it’s not, because it’s not acceptable anywhere, work or otherwise).

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Actually, we do not know if the guy claimed he was triggered … just that he threw a hissy fit. It was the boss who said LW1 “triggered” the guy.

      And that is really far worse. If the boss had just told LW1 that it would have been better not to call him out publicly, I would understand, though I would still think the boss needed to acknowledge that the “young lady” language is inappropriate and that the guy’s reaction was unacceptable. But his use of the term “triggered” suggests that the boss is siding with the guy over LW1 on the whole situation.

  59. Calamity Janine*

    i understand completely why the advice is to have considered approaching this guy in a more delicate manner, and i don’t really begrudge alison giving that advice.

    i’m just going to be in the corner staring into the middle distance making exhausted groans about how much women are expected to tiptoe around, cater to, and generally manage the feelings of men. and how many people in power are ready to punish women for not sacrificing their comfort and recognition of humanity because they dared to not put the feelings of a man as the top priority, compared to the woman’s basic existence.

    (anyway, LW1, the bad advice you shouldn’t do is go to your boss doe-eyed and sweetly confused, and ask if this is the new professional norm? should you have been doing what coworker is now doing instead of telling him that it was a problem? is refusing to speak to anyone the preferred way to deal with all interpersonal conflicts? you’re just so very confused, and trying to follow his directions, of course! you just want clarification! perhaps this should be put in the employee handbook? maybe HR can write up a little guide explaining that refusing to speak is the choice the employer wants everyone to take?)

    1. Camellia*

      This! So much this! I would be tempted to tell him, “Oh, you’re being so EMOTIONAL; do you need to go home and have a good cry?”

  60. Fluffy Fish*

    Frankly I have zero problem with the public call out.

    If the perpetrator has no qualms about publicly being a condescending jerk to his colleagues then OP need not have any qualms about publicly addressing it.

    Not liking what someone has to say doesn’t make it wrong or rude. As a woman likely a wee bit older than the OP who is t.i.r.e.d. of dealing with sexism in the workplace and the lack of it being addressed firmly, directly and appropriately by management, all the while being dismissed as oh they didn’t mean it that way – enough.

    There is no need to soften the addressing of sexism.

  61. Velociraptor Attack*

    OP3, I’d probably go a little further and instead of saying “I’d like you to stop commenting on people’s schedules and trust them to manage their own time”, I’d probably say that you need her to stop commenting on people’s schedules and that you trust them to manage their time.

    She doesn’t need to trust people to manage their own time because it’s not her business and I feel like phrasing it that way will make her feel like it is her business what they’re doing.

    1. LW#3*

      That is such a good point! I am preparing to have this conversation. Will update my script. I think any opportunity to see a loophole to continue this kind of behavior must be eliminated.

  62. my other car is a terrible, howling void*

    Ugh. To the LW whose coworker is throwing a tantrum over being called out on his condescending, misogynist language, I feel for you.

    I know this type all too well, and I have a feeling that if you had called him out in private, he’d probably still be stonewalling you right now. But since he was called out in front of others (an action which I have a hard time blaming you for, being infantilized like that is infuriating), he’s using the silent treatment as group punishment to turn everyone else against you, even though he’s clearly in the wrong. He’s refusing to engage with anyone in order to manipulate those around him, and unfortunately, it seems to be working on your boss. This behavior is crappy at best, and toxically narcissistic at worst.

    If his stonewalling continues, it could very well affect yours and your coworkers’ ability to do your job. So not only was he creating an uncomfortable working environment by talking down to his female coworkers, now he’s doubling down and potentially making it harder for everyone around him to do their jobs, just because he’s butthurt? (To me, this part walks right up to the line of being retaliation and maybe even crosses it, but it would be very difficult to prove that legally.) His own behavior is doing more damage to his professional reputation than your call-out ever could have.

    If he continues refusing to work with anyone and it causes issues (like stalled projects), it may be time to bring it up again with your boss or maybe even try HR; if it’s interfering with your work/your team’s work, they should address it immediately. And depending on how good/savvy your HR department is, they will want to avoid even the appearance of retaliation in the workplace. If, however, your HR has a history of not taking such matters seriously, proceed very carefully.

    Good luck OP! So sorry you’re dealing with this.

  63. Clisby*

    I’m 68, and perhaps oddly, have never had a male co-worker or boss refer to me as “young lady.”

    I have encountered it, though – always from much younger women. Usually a cashier, somewhere like the grocery store or Target.

    I have no idea whether they weirdly think that I’ll find it flattering – I do not. My response has always been to give them an “Are you nuts?” look and say: “Young lady????” in an unbelieving tone.

    I have no idea whether I’ve inspired any to drop this nonsense, since these are people I rarely see. Even my 26-year-old daughter is way past her “young lady” years.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I had a senior colleague do it to me once, but it was only once, not a habit, and he has never shown any signs of looking down on women. Quite the contrary, he has always made it clear that he really respects me and my skills, and he is always very encouraging and helpful to all of my team, regardless of gender. So I said nothing. I think I just reminded him of his daughter in the moment somehow … he was a little worked up over an issue that popped up in a case. It is not appropriate, but I genuinely do not think he even realized it and I have never heard or heard of him doing it again.

    2. Just My Name Is Fine*

      Sixty-seven here. I would rather get “young lady” than “ma’am”. Makes my skin crawl, ugh. Neither is necessary.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I dunno, if a very young man calls me “ma’am,” I may not love it, but I know he is trying to be polite and respectful, and he is acknowledging me as an authority figure or at least an equal. “Young lady” seems to specifically imply I am young (child young … I’m 41, not 12), inexperienced, and in need of being educated by my superiors!

        1. London Calling*

          It used to be said that French waiting staff had an unerring instinct for a woman’s age and when to use ‘Mademoiselle’ or ‘Madame’ and the shock it was when you realised you’d stopped being the first and were now the second.

          I like ma’am but being British don’t get called it a lot.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I wasn’t thrilled to graduate to ma’am status, but “young lady” from a very young person makes me feel like I look old.

        3. Birb*

          As someone from the deep south… I call everyone whose name I don’t know “sir” or “ma’am”… even small children! It’s wild how different that is in other parts of the country.

          1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            Yeah, I am from the less deep south, but here, many young men have been taught that it is ill-mannered not to address grown women, especially ones who are older or in a position of authority, as ma’am.

  64. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    LW 1 – I had a senior colleague call me young lady once, but I did not say anything and just laughed about it to myself. But it was a totally different case because, a) it only happened once ever that I am aware of, b) he is in no way less respectful of female colleagues than male colleagues in general, and he is always amazingly helpful, and c) I absolutely know through his actions and words that he has the utmost respect for me and my skills. If I did say something, he would never behave the way your colleague did (and I also think the only reason it happened that one time is because I remind him of his daughter … again, not a habit). That said, if I did say something, I do not think I would say it publicly because it would embarrass him (unless I felt I needed to due to multiple other methods of trying to communicate it, but that would be a strategic choice that would only work under the exact right circumstances).

    All that said, I am really not impressed by your boss’s response, saying this man was “triggered” by being called out for saying something that is actually potentially triggering. And has your boss made any effort to tell him that he needs to get with the program and work collaboratively with his teammates again, or to advise him that he really does need to avoid language that is demeaning to women in the workplace? Because it sounds like this colleague is just the tip of the iceberg here!

  65. Librarian*

    I recently had a male colleague in IT email a group in my department (all women in this case) with the salutation “Hi Ladies”. I don’t think it ever occurred to him that I’m a director and senior to him. I’m sure he meant “ladies” as a pleasant salutation, but the gender dynamics between our fields and the specific gender difference in this communication rubbed me the wrong way. I responded, “Thanks, Gentleman! I appreciate your help!” He hasn’t called me “lady” since.

  66. Jake*

    The number of old coworkers who have called me young man is more than I can remember, but definitely more than 20.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Observer is right. LW1 noted that he does not do this with the male colleagues. Also, “young man” is generally less loaded and not steeped in sexism. With women, the implication of young lady is not just that you are younger and less experienced, but that you are flighty, flippant, unreliable, and not serious. The implication of young man is just that you are younger and less experienced.

      Also, “young man” is usually used to address men who are actually young, and definitely younger than the person using the term. “Young lady” is routinely used to address women who are not at all young or inexperienced, and often by men who are the same age or younger than they are.

  67. librarianmom*

    LW1 – Yes, you had the right to publicly call him out, but I wonder if when and how you did it was the best way. I have often found that killing rude people with overwhelming kindness can be quite effective — They get so confused that their barbs didn’t penetrate your polite veneer that they melt into huffing puddles (really fun to watch BTW.) Talking to him privately, sweetly saying, “John, I really would prefer if you refer to me by my name. “Young lady” feels so condescending, *although I know you couldn’t possibly mean to be that to me.* (yes, that sticky sweet lie) If it works, you get the satisfaction of outmaneuvering the idiot. If it doesn’t, then you have full justification in blasting him in public the next time he pulls that crap.
    I know, I know —- you’re thinking why should I go out of my way for this jerk? Because you might find in the long run it works out better, and you look more professional to your colleagues and bosses. And because taking the high road is always more work, but can be internally rewarding.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      The problem here is that his response was *so* overblown, that there is no way speaking with him privately would have had any positive effect. OP may have realized this from knowing him more fully than she was able to describe in her letter. That knowledge may even have been subconscious!

      She found the way to get him to stop calling female team members ‘young lady’. Good for her! Getting him to do his job properly is now the manager’s job.

  68. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

    I am in the same age bracket as the guy who calls women “young ladies” and I’m stunned that one of my peers would refer to women that way. Come on-it’s not hard to treat people as equals, but no, he has to be condescending. It’s infuriating.

  69. hamburke*

    Q1 – I didn’t like this even in my 20s when I was a young lady (or a little miss, asi got a time or 2) and always responded with “, older man” or some other descriptive but not flattering term. My 30-something coworkers thought it was hilarious.

  70. Young One*

    Allison your timing is impeccable because i have been dealing with the service manager from hell at my local car dealership. He lies and lies and when i push back its “Now Young Lady…”

    Safe to say i lost it and told him along with his GM what is up.

  71. student loans*

    Thank you for sharing about the loan discharge program! I went to a small for-profit school that acted in really predatory ways and I didn’t know that this was an option. Not sure it will work but it only took a few mins to apply!

  72. Camellia*

    She ‘triggered’ him? More like he triggered her with his inappropriate comment.

    And I would be so tempted to tell him, “Oh, you’re being so EMOTIONAL; do you need to go home and have a good cry?”

  73. Birb*

    Women find being spoken to in the workplace in this way “triggering”, too but I bet he didn’t defend her to her coworker. More than hurt feelings, condescending language and pet names affect the way others on our team perceive us and interact with us in the future. “Young lady” certainly doesn’t sound like someone who gets promoted to leadership.

    How disappointing to have a boss that just shrugged it off and didn’t immediately let him know that he HAD been out of line, and that hurt feelings or no, he has to do his job and work with his peers in a professional manner. It sounds like the boss, and the triggered peer need more training on professional work environments.

    I think it was right to correct him in the moment, publicly. He said something to her publicly that was infantilizing, and accepting that as normal publicly to let him save face makes it look like you had no issue with it to everyone else. It affects the way you’re seen by everyone you work with.

    I might have used a slightly less direct approach, like “Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been called that. I didn’t think I’d hear that from a work peer in my 30s!” but honestly even that feels like a compromise I’ve been socialized to make. Joking about him being an “old man” feels dangerous because he sounds like exactly the kind of person to turn around and claim old age as a legally protected status.

    I am so tired of people getting away with saying offensive things and STILL BEING THE VICTIM because someone set an appropriate boundary with them. He got away with it because the boss can relate more to him feeling like he has to “be careful” around women he works with than the letter-writer who gets talked down to by older coworkers, and that’s unfortunate.

    Why is the narrative never “hmm maybe this guy doesn’t have good enough judgement / communication skills / thick enough skin?”

    If being called out on his inappropriate behavior is triggering, he ought to put more thought and effort into speaking to his coworkers respectfully to keep it from happening again.

  74. Observer*

    #3- I want to echo all the people who are telling you to shut this down. There are so many things wrong with it, but it may help you to remember that you owe this to the rest of the staff. They should not be subjected to this.

    Here is something you need to realize. It’s all good and fine to have a casual approach for the most part. But the fact is that you ARE the manager, and the behavior of your staff *is* your responsibility. Which means that you *need* to be ready, willing, and prepared to assert authority. Don’t “coach” her about this. TELL her what needs to change.

    Allison’s script is fine to start with. It’s clear and straightforward. But if she doesn’t cut it out you need to get more blunt.

    Also, don’t just shrug it off when she does that to you. She needs to understand that she is NOT in charge, and it is not her place to try to manage your schedule, get involved in you time management, etc. In fact, I think that the only way she is going to get over her difficulty in working for you is going to be by your asserting your authority and making it harder for her to see you as the “youngster” and forcing her to relate to you as “the boss.” It’s not ideal, but the alternative is that it just doesn’t work out.

  75. PlainJane*

    A boss who’s only in his FIFTIES pulled the “young lady” thing?


    I’m fifty-two. I know what it was like to be young in the late sixties and seventies. The message was “Free to be you and me,” not “Father knows best.” We had opposite sex friends and our mothers all worked, often in positions of authority. Any 50-odd-year-old who is pulling this BS knows EXACTLY what he’s doing. There would be no way for him not to, having grown up in those years. He’s being deliberately demeaning in terms anyone of my generation would recognize, and he should not be surprised by pushback on it.

  76. Derek*

    LW4: This is one reason that a drug-free workplace policy is so important. Not only will it outline what you as an employee can and can’t do, but it will also lay out the process for things like random drug testing (ensuring they are actually random) and reasonable suspicion (under no circumstances should a supervisor ask co-workers if you’re using drugs).

Comments are closed.