management talks to us like we’re children, napping in the wellness room, and more

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

1. Management talks to us like we’re children

I am a healthcare professional who works for a home health agency. We are all nurses, rehab therapists, or social workers — educated people with specialized skillsets. We rarely meet in-person but have daily phone calls, so I hear from the office staff very frequently.

There seems to be a culture in the office of using infantilizing language — referring to everyone as “friend,” as in “hi friend, have you finished your documentation?” and the use of “we” when the speaker actually means “you” — e.g., “did we finish the evaluation we started yesterday?” (The main offender of “we”-ing is not a clinician; this may be why this irks me so much.) I don’t know if this is intentionally condescending, but it certainly comes off that way. I have verified that I am not the only one who is bothered by this.

Is it worth it for me to mention it to my manager? I have thick skin but for some reason this REALLY rubs me the wrong way!


It sounds like you’re taking that use of “we” as akin to saying to a toddler, “Can we finish our milk?” … but it’s far more likely that it means “did we, the team, finish the evaluation?” That’s a pretty common workplace usage of “we,” and complaining about it will look excessively nitpicky. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be annoyed by it; you are. But it’s more of a pet peeve than something worth bringing up.

However, if there’s something I’m missing about the tone — like if it’s said in a patronizing way — that’s different, and that could be worth raising. But what you’d be raising is the condescension generally, not that one specific linguistic construction.

As for “hi friend” … I’m not a particular fan, but again, it’s the “pet peeve” category of annoyance, not “this is unacceptable.”

All that said, it’s interesting that you’ve found other people are bothered by it too, and that makes me wonder if there’s more infantilizing going on than just the language itself.

2. How can I make sure my coworker isn’t left in the lurch when I leave?

I work at a usually small and rural branch of a global company. It’s open seven days a week and closes on two major holidays a year. I only have one full-time coworker, with our manager being off-site and visiting once a month at most. I’m planning on moving in with my girlfriend in July, which is very exciting, but due to the distance I’ll no longer be able to keep this job. I’ve been heavily considering quitting for a while now, so this is a good chance for a clean break — but I have one major concern (outside of the painful purgatory of finding the next job, of course).

Before I was hired, about two years ago, my coworker was the only desk employee at the branch for a period of several months … meaning for those months he did not get a single day off. This was obviously awful for him! The company had such trouble finding a candidate for his position that he was the one who ultimately recruited and recommended me to management, in a large part so he could finally get a dang break.

I know ultimately this isn’t my responsibility, but I’d hate to wreck his vibe by indefinitely leaving him without weekends when I leave, and the guilt over the thought has kinda discouraged me from putting in the time to send out new job applications. I highly doubt that the standard two-weeks notice will be enough time to find a replacement, but don’t trust in my continued job security if I mention these future plans to my manager any earlier than that. (It’s also pretty awkward now when he makes jokes along the lines of wanting to keep us happy and reliably running the branch — he’s great, my disgruntlement is with the broad company and the specific work not being a great fit for me.)

In the time since my coworker’s awful unbroken string of work, we’ve had changes in our two directly higher levels of management, so it’s entirely possible the new guys will be able to actually arrange people to cover his shifts, and I’m worrying about nothing. But if not, is there anything I can do to make this transition smoother without jeopardizing my existing income? Or any leverage he can pull to make it clear working seven-day weeks is unacceptable even with the overtime pay?

First, assume that your coworker is aware that you could leave (or be hit by a bus or trapped at the bottom of a well or all sorts of other disasters) and what happened last time could happen again. He knows! He’s choosing to stay regardless. If he wants to, he can hold a firmer line about his availability this time (like by saying that he has family commitments outside of work that he can’t move). He will have a ton of leverage because it’s really unlikely they’ll want to replace him right after they replace you.

That said, if you have time between now and when you give your notice, you could think about whether there are things you can do to smooth the workload if he does end up covering both roles for a while. Are there things you can automate/clean up/simplify? If the answer is “not really,” then so be it — sometimes this is just how it goes.

3. Can I use the wellness room to nap?

My office is now requiring everyone to be physically in the office at least three days a week. Before the end of last year, I was working primarily remotely. When working remotely, I’m expected to be available from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, which I have no problem with, even though I have a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night. However, generally I took my lunch break from 11 am – 12 pm, and I would go back to bed during this hour. Only after I got up after my lunchtime nap did I dress and actually get ready for the day. Now, I have to be up and dressed and out of the house during a time period when I’m used to still being in my pajamas. As a result, on my in-office days I’m up earlier and miss the lunchtime nap.

My office offers a “wellness room” that nobody else ever seems to use. It’s an empty room with some lockers and a recliner. I assume it’s mostly intended for nursing mothers. I was told about it as an accommodation for my ADHD and autism — I can go there if I’m overwhelmed. But if I don’t get my lunch break nap, I become overwhelmed much more easily. Is it a misuse of that space to reserve it for a 30-45 minute nap on the days I have to be in the office?

It really depends on your office culture. There are some offices where this would be fine, and others would it very much would not be. If no one else is using the room at all, I’m worried your culture is more likely to be on the “not all that okay” side of things.

However, since the room was mentioned to you as a possible accommodation for your ADHD and autism, there’s probably some space to experiment. Could you wear headphones while you’re in there, so that if anyone comes in you don’t necessarily look like you’re napping but rather just zoning out/centering yourself (which is close to what was offered to you)?

4. People get my name wrong in email

People get my name wrong. Often. The last letter of my first name is the same as the first letter of my last name, so in person this error makes sense to me. (Think “Elena” getting mistaken for “Elaine” when I’m introduced — a different name, not really a nickname.) That’s easy enough to address in the moment, but email is what I find troublesome. People keep addressing me as “Elaine” in their response to my email, where I’ve clearly signed off as “Elena.” How can I politely correct this? When I email back, I usually say something like, “So you know, I go by Elena. It’s a common mistake, so I wanted to point it out.” I may be overthinking it, but tone feels hard to get right in email, and sometimes I have to make that correction in the context of an otherwise unpleasant email (it’s the nature of my job!).

Too many words! Shorten it to, “It’s Elena, not Elaine!” Or in an otherwise unpleasant email, you can warm it up a little: “By the way, I’m Elena, not Elaine!” Throw in a smiley face if you’re not an emoji-hostile field.

{ 554 comments… read them below }

  1. coffee*

    LW1: I’m reminded of the “I’m not your friend, pal!” -> “I’m not your pal, buddy!” joke, so perhaps thinking about that could help you feel a bit better as you sit through another round of “Hi friends”.

    1. Llama Lover*

      I use friend a lot for strangers when I’m trying to get their attention. So, “excuse me, friend,” instead of sir or ma’am because I don’t want to get someone’s pronouns wrong by assuming. Otherwise, only my actual friends are called friend. This is weird at work to me.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Yeah, I think friend is fine and increasingly used as a gender neutral term for someone whose name you don’t know. Not sure why anyone would use it for someone whose name they DO know instead of their name, unless the office staff are making 12 of these phone calls in a row and don’t want to have to remember which person they’re on. Maybe it’s that.

        1. Katherine*

          Regarding the last email; one of my coworkers had a less common spelling of their name (think Rebekka instead of Rebecca) and our email system will autocorrect it to the more common spelling. I try to correct it but I’m sure I overlook it sometimes. It’s really irritating!

        2. Student*

          Wow, wasn’t aware of this trend. Good to know. This makes my skin crawl, though. I’m about 40, LBGT+, and my spouse is trans… I’m pretty confident my spouse would hate it as much as I do. I’ll ask tonight.

          Can you give an example of how this is used? If I’m talking about somebody I don’t know, I’d generally go with “person” and some attempt at a description, such as “that person Jane was having coffee with, the one with the green shirt”. If I’m directly addressing somebody I don’t know, depending on the situation, I’d go with “pardon me”, and a light tap on the shoulder if necessary to get their attention for a very casual encounter. For a more formal or longer encounter, I’d just… start off with introductions.

          Opening with “friend” on somebody you don’t know seems extremely sales-ish and aggressive and presumptuous to me. Like, my base reaction is I see you trying to HANDLE me and I do NOT like it one bit.

          1. I edit everything*

            It’s better than “honey” or “sweetie” and the other diminutives you get from servers in your local Waffle House.

            We just got back from a trip to Disney World, and most of the staff (sorry, “cast members”) there used “friend” or “friends” where a “sir,” “ma’am,” or “guys” would go. I kind of liked it, tbh.

            1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

              I think Disney is a special case though. That’s part of the culture and they’d be specially trained to make sure it doesn’t sound awkward.

          2. Strict Extension*

            I’m primarily familiar with this in the world of primary and secondary education (which might be a reason it could come off as infantilizing to those who also associate it with that). I work in a world with lots of children’s programming where folks are interacting with kids they don’t know. Not only are there the standard issues of not wanting to assume pronouns, but kids are particularly prone to reading as something other than the gender they identify with. So instead of “the boy in the red shirt,” it’s “my friend in the red shirt.” When calling on kids in a crowd, “yes, my friend in the hat, go ahead.” To a group: “Okay, friends, let’s move over this way.” It’s typically in programming where you want the kids to have a warm positive feeling towards you and it wouldn’t be problematic for them to actually think, “I made a new friend today,” which makes it the go-to over more neutral terms like “person” or “child.”

          3. Allison Wonderland*

            I’m more likely to use “hey, friends” when addressing a group at work because I don’t think “hey guys” is actually gender-neutral. Some people use “hey folks,” but that doesn’t feel natural to me. Sometimes I go with “hey y’all.” Everyone has their preference, I guess. But I agree it is weird to use friend to address one person if you know the person’s name.

            1. daffodil*

              yes, I started using it to replace “hey guys” for a casual, collective greeting. In more professional settings I sometimes use “colleagues” but that might feel stuffy to some (I’m in higher ed)

            2. Quill*

              My general rule: Team, everyone, or people if I’m addressing a group who I don’t know at all but have to work with (descending levels of formality there), friends in a less formal setting, much more tailored greetings if I actually know the group.

              The informality is probably why OP bristles at it being used in the working group, because informality and infantilization can use a lot of the same tone and phrases…

            3. zaracat*

              At work, I use “hi/hey everybody” in a Dr Nick voice because I work in an operating theatre and I find it hilarious every single time.

            4. Nina*

              I’ll use ‘folks’ just about anywhere (I am in a country where ‘folks’ is not remotely part of the local argot), ‘folx’ literally never because it rubs me up the wrong way so bad, ‘team’ at work, ‘people’ sometimes, and yes, ‘friends’ if it’s the kind of setting where people are supposed to at least pretend to be friendly.

              ‘Hey friend’ is my go-to for Redditors whose gender isn’t immediately obvious, so that only gets used when I’m an anonymous snoo talking to another anonymous snoo. I would be confused and perturbed to encounter it in real life.

          4. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            I think it’s commonly used TO people, rather than ABOUT them. And I agree with the sales-y. The first place I encountered this was from a high-level sales manager in a home mortgage company.

          5. Eigenvogel*

            I know trans people who would interpret this as “they know I’m trans and are trying to avoid using my pronouns because they don’t want to acknowledge me as my target gender.”

            My wife is trans and once had an article written about her where the person gratuitously avoided using any pronouns at all. It was super obvious they didn’t want to acknowledge her as a woman.

          6. Consonance*

            I recall one former coworker and friend who would greet people this way – but as I remember, it was ones that she already knew to some extent. The way she did it was actually really warm and welcoming. I agree that for the most part I don’t like the use of “friend,” but the way she did it was lovely. It was also in an education/social service type space, which probably affects how it was perceived. As with just about all language, I think it’s very dependent on who says it and how they say it. This example is one, though, that I’d recommend most people *not* try. Occasionally it’ll go well, but it’s not something most people will be successful with. And I think it almost never works in writing.

          7. Ace in the Hole*

            I’ve heard it used the same way someone might say “bud,” “hon,” or “pal.” Definitely casual/informal, but not necessarily childish or condescending. Tone makes a big difference of course.

            For example if my coworker asks me to bring them a tool, when I hand it over they might say “thanks friend.” Or like the example LW gave, of “Hey friend, have you…”

        3. Observer*

          Yeah, I think friend is fine and increasingly used as a gender neutral term for someone whose name you don’t know.

          I’ve never heard it and I hope it doesn’t catch on. Because if it does, we’re going to need to find another word for “friend”.

          And it’s not like it’s actually needed. As others point out, you generally don’t need Sir / Ma’am / whatever either when you are trying to get the attention of a stranger.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Maybe if all of us who don’t like it speak up and say, “please don’t call me ‘friend’”,
            it won’t catch on.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                A lot is in the way it’s said. I think if we make an effort to be respectful and polite, it won’t be so bad.
                Unless you’re dealing with the type of person who thinks any kind of direct, straightforward communication is rude. I have long since given up trying to accommodate such people. I don’t have the knack.

                1. MCMonkeyBean*

                  I think that works with almost *any* other thing people might call you. But if you say to someone “don’t call me friend” that seems really different than pretty much any other nickname. I just don’t think there is any tone that would make the concept of objecting to someone calling you “friend” that wouldn’t come across as rude. You are pretty much saying “I am not your friend” and while that is probably true I really don’t think the relationship will ever be the same after that. If you don’t want the relationship to be the same, I guess that’s a choice you can make. But I feel like even if I were just a bystander and I heard you say that to someone I’d be like “damn, that was harsh”

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  So it’s basically a trap. Calling someone who is not a friend “friend” puts them in a situation where they have to accept being considered your friend, or be judged as harsh and unfriendly.
                  I don’t accept being put in that position and will continue looking for ways to get out of it. A commenter below suggested saying “my name is Jane”. Maybe that would work better.

          2. DisgruntledPelican*

            I’m shocked by all the people who are saying they hope it “doesn’t catch on”. That ship sailed like a decade ago where I live.

          3. JF*

            Why would we need a new word for ‘friend’?

            There are plenty of communities where it’s normal to address someone as ‘hey brother/sister’, I promise you they don’t need a different word for their actual, biological brothers and sisters. Where I live, ‘family’ is a common way to refer to the LGBT community (‘are you family?’ ‘met some new family at the club’ etc.), but we haven’t invented a new word to replace family in the traditional sense. People are absolutely capable of using a word that has different meanings in different contexts.

            I’m not someone who uses ‘friend’, myself, because I don’t think I could make it work without sounding Quaker, but getting mad about someone addressing you as ‘friend’ has the same vibes as those customers who used to bark “don’t tell me what to do” when someone on our teller line would say “have a good day”. Like, come on, they’re just fellow human beings trying to navigate a slightly awkard interaction, the same as you. You don’t need to ‘win’ the conversation.

            1. Yikes Stripes*

              Haaaa my spouse and all my in-laws are Quakers so I admit, I’ve kind of been sitting here being a little startled that people are upset about this!

              And then I remembered that not everyone shares the same experiences as I do etc etc etc – but I really do agree with you that this is not something that I would never be perturbed by and people are being a little weirdly prickly about.

          4. Nina*

            Because if it does, we’re going to need to find another word for “friend”.
            Yeah we got there when Facebook really took off. ‘Let me friend you’, no you’re not my friend, you’re a random who I have to contact occasionally. You can add me as a contact though.

        4. ZugTheMegasaurus*

          When I was a college student working food service jobs, I had a manager who was super-high energy and called everyone “friendo.” I absolutely loathed it at the time, but years later, I really wish I had that kind of peppiness and confidence.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            “Friendo” is what I call spiders and other crawly things I release out of my house, or what I call the squirrels in my yard. NEVER another human being.

      2. UKDancer*

        I think I’d just say “excuse me” to get the attention from someone I didn’t know but that may be a British thing. It seems to me that it’s more common to add something like “friend” or “sir” or “ma’am” in the US where in the UK I wouldn’t use any of them. I’d just go with “hi” or “excuse me”. But I may be wildly out here and it’s just a me thing.

        1. UKDancer*

          Although thinking about it, people in parts of the UK may use “love” “duck” or “blossom” depending on local custom to address people where I’ve never heard anyone use “friend”. I’ve heard one male builder say to another one while doing a job “pass us the grey wrench, duck” and one of my colleagues calls everyone from the cleaner to the director “love” which is common in his part of the country.

          So we use diminutives more, but we don’t particularly use titles, I guess.

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            ‘Pal’ in parts of Scotland and maybe ‘mate’ in parts of England, but ‘friend’ specifically makes me think of Quakers, as other people have said. Or Julius Caesar.

            1. pope suburban*

              I have a Quaker colleague and yes, I cannot think of anyone else/any other group of people when I hear “friend.”

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            Also UK and I wouldn’t use any of them myself – I wouldn’t think much of “duck” as that’s quite common in the part of the country where my parents grew up, so I heard it a lot when visiting family in that area, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard “friend” in that context here.

            1. Frustrated Fundraiser*

              I want to go to the UK so I can call someone “duck.” I may have to try it here in the US Midwest.

              1. merula*

                You can’t just go anywhere in the UK, you have to go to the North. I got the most ducks in Sheffield and York.

                1. Sasha*

                  It’s hyper-local as well – I’m from Doncaster, so very close to both York and Sheffield, and have never called anyone duck in my life. I do call people “love” though.

                  (And it’s not always charming/affectionate – “Look, love” can absolutely mean “for fuck’s sake you idiot”).

        2. londonedit*

          No, I’m the same. My bit of England doesn’t really use any of the ‘love’ or ‘duck’ forms of address, so if I need to get someone’s attention I’ll just say ‘Excuse me’ or ‘Sorry, could I squeeze past?’ No need for anything else, really. If I’m greeting a group I’ll usually just say ‘Hello everyone’ – unless you’re making some sort of grand speech to an assembled crowd then there’s no real need for anything else.

            1. UKDancer*

              That’s definitely very West Country. My great aunt was from down that way (near Bristol) and “my lover” reminds me so much of her because she called everyone that without exception, along with other Brizzle dialectal phrases.

        3. FG*

          US Southerner here. The South generally has more colorful & softening language than the rest of the country & I can’t think of anyone I know who feels the need to add a form of direct address in casual conversation. “Excuse me” full stop is perfectly normal. If addressing a group you might say, “Excuse me, y’all,” but that’s as far as it goes. If you are addressing a stranger & you need to get their attention you *might* add a Sir or Ma’am. Personally “friend” feels … patronizing? Disingenuous? It conjures up an image of a slimy hypocritical fundamentalist preacher with an oily smile. :D

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Yes! I’m glad I’m not the only one who got culty/fundamentalist vibes from the constant “friend” use. It would be as odd to me as someone constantly calling me “comrade” lol.

          2. Clisby*

            I’ve worked with people who would address a group as “Friends” – for example, in an email that started out “Friends,” just like some people would say “Folks” or “Y’all” or “Everybody”.

            That never bothered me, but someone addressing me, personally, with the singular “Friend” seems pretty strange.

          3. Shakti*

            Yes!! Y’all works beautifully for groups and I’ve never really had to say anything other than excuse me to people? No one’s gender has ever had to go into addressing them unless it’s a personal interaction and then i know how people wish to be identified. I personally loathe friend it feels somehow both overly familiar or passive aggressive or if you actually know me oddly distant. It definitely has sales-y scam-y vibes like over using your name

          4. AndPeggy*

            Also in the US south – the only time I hear “friends” used is in my kids’ daycare or elementary school, as in “OK friends, follow me!” Or “Friends, it’s time to quiet down!” I would also take the use of “friends” as infantilizing when there’s SO many other words right there available to use.

            1. Sasha*

              Yep, my son’s kindergarten in Toronto used “hey friends!” a lot. To the point where I immediately think “hey friends, gentle hands! Hey friends, nap time!”

              Kindergarten in London was more like “right, kids! Tidy up time!”.

        4. Seashell*

          I’m American, and I would think a stranger calling me “friend” was weird. I could see it maybe coming from someone with English as a second language who is less familiar with the language’s norms. “Excuse me” or “Excuse me, sir/ma’am” seem more typical.

        5. Sparkles McFadden*

          U.S. person here and I, too, just say “excuse me.” Having someone address me as “friend” would be pretty weird.

        6. Student*

          “Sir” and “ma’am” are only common in the US south and military.

          “Ma’am” is generally considered lightly offensive in the US midwest. It’s like calling someone “old woman” in that region. The US pacific northwest was similar. East coast seems a bit mixed depending on where you are. “Mizz” is usually a regionally accepted substitute, where you use a low-key “z” sound to try to avoid making assumptions about marital status. “Hey LADY” is aggressive, but ‘Hey, lady?” can be okay, but border line.

          Yeah, we suck, I know.

      3. Smithy*

        I used to work with a woman who used to refer to me as “Hi Lady” – which I could never tell if it was a term of endearment or that she didn’t know my name.

        Long story short, I largely found it amusing and didn’t bother with it, we were in a very large department, she wasn’t on my team and we didn’t really work together given her seniority. However, had she been my boss’ boss or a colleague I worked with regularly, I could easily see it connect to actual workplace issues and not shrug it off as a point of amusement. Or, if I had a fantastic working relationship with that person, could still see it as an oddity, but feel more confident that it was a term of endearment.

        1. Bumblebee*

          In the American South that is a term of respect – when I was a student leader in college I knew I had truly earned our Dean’s admin’s respect when she greeted me with “Hey lady!” It was a big day.

          1. Smithy*

            I do love that. Alas this was in New York City and the person in question was an NYC native.

            While she certainly might have had parents/grandparents from the south and this tradition followed….with the NYC speaking affect it definitely doesn’t sound as endearing as one would hope.

        2. Lizbot ATL*

          I was a public defender for 10 years and clients called me “Miss Lady” the entire time. This was in Atlanta.

        3. Maglev to Crazytown*

          Oh no… I hope you aren’t talking about me! I worked in an industrial environment, and when one of my rare female coworkers I was on close terms with would pop in and surprise me, my friendly greeting was frequently, “Hey, Lady!” In my case, it was a friendly term of endearment, and living in the South, my transplant equivalent in the culture around me that overwhelming usd “Sweetie” and “Honey.” In that context, I think it was an unconscious attempt to fit in more regionally, though unable and unwilling to go with Honey/Sweetie.

        4. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Mindy used to address her mother as “Hi Lady!” in Animaniacs. Was your coworker a 90s kid?

          1. Maglev to Crazytown*

            I am a little unnerved by this, but as a USER of “Hey, Lady!”… I was indeed a 90s Animaniac-watching kiddo. I have just been using it I think because as a transplant to the South, it is friendly and casual without going with the ubiquitous, “Hey, Sweetie/Honey!”

            1. Lady Oscar*

              When I hear “Hey, Lady!” I expect it be followed by something like, “You’re gonna hafta move yer car!”

              (I get a lot of “Hey, Lady!” intros from advertisers who are trying to be friendly and use first names when I put “Lady Oscar” into login forms as first and last name. They always amuse me.)

          2. NervousHoolelya*

            Hahaha! We would never do this with coworkers, but my husband says, “Ok, Superlady, I love you, bye-bye!” to me in his best Mindy voice as a fairly frequent closing to phone calls.

        5. Thiscreaturehasanexoskeleton*

          This reminds me of my daughter who, when she first learned to talk, would always address my mother with a nonsense name – so I thought. She was actually saying “Hey Lady” to her!

      4. Emily Byrd Starr*

        How about “neighbor?” To me, “friend,” “buddy,” “pal,” “love,” “lover,” “honey,” and “dear” all seem to imply a level of familiarity that you wouldn’t use for strangers. “Neighbor” doesn’t necessarily have that connotation.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think in a lot of UK places you would use the same term for everyone. So the king would be called “my lover” in Bristol and “Duck” in Nottingham (if he ever went to either place).

          Friend and neighbour would be weird in most places in the UK. You either use something like “love” or “duck” or “blossom” which people tend to do in a fairly indiscriminate way to everyone regardless of gender, age and social class or you don’t use anything. At least that’s my perception and experience. Happy to be corrected.

          1. GreatestBlueHeron*

            There’s a comedian who is Geordie and calls people “flower” (Sarah Millican) and it is absolutely charming but I could see hating it in a work context.

        2. Kacey*

          There is a book I read where someone used neighbor for anyone they didn’t know as not everyone is your friend but anyone could be your neighbor. I liked the rational -although haven’t tried it myself.

        3. Gumby*

          I strongly associate “neighbor” used in that way with Mr. Rogers. I’m sure it’s an age thing and the younger cohort doesn’t have that mental connection.

          I also associate “hi friends” with one particular person on Instagram and it would seem disingenuous except for the source so basically, to me, it sounds ok coming from Sharon but from other people feels like they are assuming a relationship which is not there.

          1. davethetrucker*

            For me, it’s Mr Ed.

            I reckon it would sound odd to my ears if someone called me singular “friend.” I use “Hi Friends” on emails to my coworkers when it’s the second or third email I’m sending to a particular mailing list and I’m trying to produce variety. I can’t imagine my default assumption being that someone was offensive or infantilizing, though. Unless they were going with “toots” or “broad” or something that’s universally considered derogatory. But “friend”? I just can’t get mad about that.

      5. Sneaky Squirrel*

        I use “friend” at work with people who I am closer to when I am speaking to them peer to peer level in a more informal no-stakes situation. For instance, I might say “hi friend/s, how was your weekend?”. Using it at work in a formal capacity to assign and check in on work such as how LW receives it is less comfortable to me.

      6. anneshirley*

        My work (a library) has adopted “friend” pretty widely because it’s gender neutral and “works” for both patrons and coworkers. (We’re a big system, so it’s not possible to know everyone’s name.) I don’t love it either, but it does serve a practical need.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I think this is the best way to understand it. It’s not great, I doubt many people love it, but it’s filling a hole left when we eliminate gender and status and type of relationship, which is a positive shift. (Though once I spell that out, it’s reminding me of “comrade” lol.)

          If you can use someone’s name instead, use it. If you can reasonably avoid addressing them with a pronoun or noun at all — hello and excuse me work fine without being followed by friend — do that. If you must use something, friend is better than hey you or ma’am/sir.

          I’ve seen the language of library friends come up a lot, that does seem purposeful to welcome and build community in that space.

          1. callmeheavenly*

            “If you can use someone’s name instead, use it”

            I discontinued participation in a CSA-type farmers market once specifically because the person working there every time I went made it a point to call me by name at least four times during every encounter, and it just…really put my back up as presumptuous somehow. I don’t think there’s any one method of address that’s universally safe, unfortunately.

            1. Filosofickle*

              Good point. I meant the initial contact, per the letter– Jane, have you finished the documentation instead of referring to Jane as Friend. Overuse of one’s name IS super annoying.

        2. JustaTech*

          This is the context I’ve heard “friend” used most recently, when you’re addressing a large group of people, or you don’t know a person’s name/pronouns and are trying to indicate that this is a positive, friendly, peer-based interaction.

          At least one podcast I used to listen to opened with “Hello Friends!” which was nice because it was fully inclusive *and* set the tone for the show.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            The podcast example wouldn’t bother me because I presumably actively sought out that podcast so I already want to be a fan/friend.

        3. Librarian of Things*

          We use “friend” at mine, too, but pretty much exclusively for young children. “Use your walking feet, friends!” “What can I help you find, friend?” If I ever “friend” you as an adult, it’s probably because I’ve been besieged by children the rest of the time I’m on the reference desk that day.

          I have noticed that, if someone drops something or leaves their card behind, saying, “excuse me!” doesn’t get their attention, but “excuse me, ma’am” or even just “sir?” always does. This is fine when I’m sure that “ma’am” or “sir” is correct, but it would be nice to have a useful hook for those people where that’s either incorrect or unknown. Why adding “ma’am” or “sir” to the “excuse me” gets attention, I do not know. But, I don’t think I’ll be adding “friend” on there unless they’re 5.

      7. Bitte Meddler*

        Just to show how regional / community-based this can be: If a stranger said, “Excuse me, friend,” to me or anyone around me, I would be expecting words and/or hands to be thrown soon after.

        1. Shakti*

          Yes!! Maybe because I grew up in New England/Boston area if I heard hey friend/pal/neighbor/buddy I’d be like oh no things are about to go down and in a verbal or physical or both altercation kind of way. I now live in the south and there’s a certain tone where if someone says no ma’am you know something has gone seriously off course and an altercation is to be expected

        2. An Honest Nudibranch*

          Lmao, I was about to make a similar comment – most cases where I can think of where people would use “friend” as an individual reference are “trying to deescalate a fight” or “passive-aggressively warning someone if they continue down that path they’ll find themselves in one.” It’s super regional. (I grew up in Midwestern US, fwiw.)

          It registers to my brain as comparable in tone to “friendly reminder” or a smiley face emoji after negative messages/emails. I don’t hear it as infantilizing at all, because I rarely hear it used with kids, but it does activate my “is someone pissed off” senses unless there are context cues that say otherwise.

          That said, I would strongly prefer someone calling me friend to “ma’am” or “honey/sweetie/etc.”, though.

      8. Beveled Edge*

        Being called “friend” by a stranger would absolutely get my back up; I’d assume they’re trying to create a false sense of intimacy to take advantage of me in some way.

        That said, I’m hard-pressed to think of a good gender neutral alternative, besides “comrade.” Which would definitely draw mixed reactions. :D

      9. EC*

        I would just say “excuse me” and not include any kind of pet name. Someone using friend like than makes me immediately assume they’re going to tell me all about the book of Mormon.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      My husband and I do that bit all the time. ‘Friend’ however has been overwritten in my brain as what the teachers in my kid’s pre k class have the kids refer to all the other kids, so being called that professionally would indeed feel super infantilizing to me.

      I would pull the ‘it’s not you, it’s me card’ and just bring it up in the moment. “Hey, this is a weird thing with me, but due to a childhood thing being called ‘friend’ just makes me uncomfortable, could you please call me ‘my name’ going forward? Thank you so much, I knew *you* would understand”.

    3. Hot Flash Gordon*

      We used “Friend” a lot in my second job at a grocery store. It was a gender neutral way to greet customers and coworkers (as a group). I don’t have a huge problem with it unless it’s constant.

    4. LCH*

      the use of ‘friend’ makes me think of the Public Universal Friend. i didn’t know it was a thing used in schools. so mainly i figured it was an alternate to ‘hey, guys’ or anything else gendered.

      it does sound very funny to me.

      1. strawberry milk charlotte*

        Calling adults “friend/friends” (especially if you know the names/humans involved) feels off in a culty and/or pre-k kind of way. Friend alone wouldn’t be so bad, but pairing that with the “we” thing skews childspeak-y, and I wouldn’t like it either. Alison’s framing of “we” as the team thing is way better than my gut reaction! Definitely go with that.

        Alison’s right, best to shift the mindset to “they don’t mean anything by it”, maybe with a side of intentional amusement (I love the “not your friend, pal/not your pal, buddy” thing a couple readers have suggested as a short circuit for the irritation). And maybe talk less with coworkers about it if it’s coming up more than occasionally? Sometimes echoing irritation about something small turns the crackers molehill into a mountain.

        Now that I’m having fun; I have one person in my life that I call Friend as an intentionally stilted term of endearment (we’re not verbally effusive people but we *are* silly). I’ve probably addressed a group of adults “hi friends!” as a joke before but as a gender neutral greeting I prefer yall/yallz or just names/none of it. I’m not even American or from the South, yall just did a really good casual gender neutral group term of address. YMMV on yallz in an office setting. You could get in on the weird terms of address and start greeting people hey bub/bubbs like Wolverine. Works great on my dog :)

    5. MigraineMonth*

      I’m a member of the Religious Society of Friends, so “Hello, Friend!” sounds pretty normal to me. (I’d capitalize it in my friend and assume you were part of the same religion, though.)

      1. physics lab tech*

        Yeah I was going to say, I picked it up from a Quaker friend and that’s just how she referred to everyone

    6. not nice, don't care*

      Mrs.Frazzled on TikTok seems to have launched the ‘friend’ thing into orbit. My partner has to deal with violent and mentally ill patrons and uses the term friend, and I hate it.

    7. Timothy (TRiG)*

      At a Discworld Convention, where your name badge can be anything, I know one woman who usually uses “Oi you!” She says that that’s what people call her anyway. (She’s great.)

    8. Hannah Lee*

      Just convert the the Hi Friend into Ubbi Dubbi
      (From Zoom on PBS back in the dark ages)

      “Hubbbye Frubbbend”

      It’s silly enough that it might blunt the annoyance a bit

  2. Zombeyonce*

    #3: If no one else is using the wellness room, you’re unlikely to be noticed napping in there (unless it’s got glass walls or something, which isn’t very conducive to wellness). Give it a try!

    1. JustaTech*

      At our other site my CEO takes 4 hour naps in the Wellness room, which is really intended for people who aren’t feeling well to lie down either until they feel better or until someone can come pick them up and take them home (or maybe for the folks on the night shift to get a cat nap before driving home?).

      We also have a separate lactation room, complete with sign that says “This room is for lactation only. Any other use will result in disciplinary action.” So you can guess what people were up to in there.

  3. Brain the Brian*

    LW3: a caveat, from my mortifying experience, which I’ve shared in the comments before. Make sure to give nursing mothers preference using the room. Don’t block the room off yourself and refuse to move your blocks for nursing mothers, as I did when using a wellness room to nap for years. It will not look good.

      1. AnonAnon*

        I forgot about the car nap :)
        I have been working from home for 4 years now but when I was really dragging, I would nap in my car during lunch.

        The wellness room at my work and my partner’s is only big enough for one person, so naps are very acceptable. No one knows who is in there or how long they have been in there. When the door locks, it just says “occupied”.

        At my former employer, it was part of one of the women’s restrooms. There was a couch but it was a very public place to those coming and going to the bathroom. I never saw anyone use it.

        1. Emily Byrd Starr*

          “At my former employer, it was part of one of the women’s restrooms. There was a couch but it was a very public place to those coming and going to the bathroom.”

          Ew. That’s a gross place to have it. Bathrooms should be for bathroom activity.

          1. Amy*

            It’s not uncommon to see a couch in an anteroom
            before the bathroom in some department stores and in theaters. I like it.

            1. Annony*

              It’s nice to have but should not replace a dedicated room for things that need privacy like pumping or injections.

        2. Observer*

          it was part of one of the women’s restrooms. There was a couch but it was a very public place to those coming and going to the bathroom.

          Sorry, I don’t care WHAT sign they put there. That was NOT a “wellness” room. Forget naps – I cannot think of a *single* wellness related use that would be appropriate in a space that is open to public view.

      2. morethantired*

        Yes, if you have a car on-site it’s the best place to nap. You can also get some sun shades for your windows if you worry about coworkers seeing you. I used to park away from other cars and nap on the passenger side with the seat laid back so no one could see me. It was really helpful on days where I was excessively sleepy.

    1. The Other Fish*

      This is the only exception I can think of for the wellness room… if a person is having to pump (on a schedule, which will probably change slightly over time) breastmilk. They probably need privacy too …

      1. ferrina*

        If the room doesn’t have a scheduling method already, create one! Be vocal about it- “hey, I’m going to start using this room, but want to make sure it’s available in case someone else needs it. I’ll put my preferred time on there, but happy to move it if someone else needs it!”

        Sidenote- I totally agree with Alison’s suggestion to wear headphones and make it look like a meditation. Meditation has much better optics than napping in most offices.

    2. poegland*

      Yeah, someone was taking naps in our lactation room and it made for a very awkward situation when two nursing moms started needing the room. They were (rightly) not pleased about it.

      1. Observer*

        someone was taking naps in our lactation room

        Did you work at Uber?

        For those who don’t remember Travis Kalanik, shortly before he finally got pushed out, he decided that he was going to “reform” his behavior. One of his first acts of “reform” was to commandeer one of the few lactation rooms at his primary site for him to do some sort of “meditation” like activity. (I put the word in quotes because I highly doubt that he was capable of meditating on anything.)

    3. NYWeasel*

      To add some context to this comment, nursing mothers have to develop fairly rigid schedules for pumping. If they miss their window, it causes physical pain and can lead to more serious complications such as clogged ducts. Your need to reset to ensure you can properly focus is a valid need as well, but if there are conflicts, I’d encourage you to see where you can be flexible, as the moms are much more limited in their capacity to adjust their schedules, and they need a lot more privacy/structure than is required for a nap.

      1. MountainAir*

        There’s also the fact that to be compliant with the law, a space offered for pumping can’t share uses with other uses that take precedence over pumping. So it’s ok to have a wellness room or first aid room that does double duty, but pumping has to take precedence over other uses associated with the room when there’s a conflict. As several AAM letters have shown in the past, many workplaces and HRs are not up on this fact and incorrectly put the burden on nursing moms to be flexible or figure it out. If the LW doesn’t have any colleagues who currently need the room for pumping this is not a problem, but it would be wise to be vigilant about this issue and proactively offer to move/flex their times of use if so.

        (Also, since the company specifically offered this room as an accommodation to LW, there’s an argument you could make that they could specifically communicate something along the lines of “as discussed as a workplace accommodation, I am going to begin using the wellness room from 11 am to 12 pm regularly – however, if it is needed as a lactation space please let me know and I will adjust as necessary.” It risks calling attention to his use of the room but it could prevent future issues? Whether or not this is particularly risky probably depends on if HR can easily see that he’s reserving the room for an hour a day regardless.)

        1. Ally McBeal*

          I agree, getting ahead of this and proactively offering to adjust your nap schedule if someone needs to pump is a smart and self-aware gesture.

        2. Nobby Nobbs*

          Combining a pumping room with a first aid room sounds like a terrible idea! “Yes, that is indeed a lot of blood, but legally we need to give pumping employees priority, and the room is booked out all afternoon. There’s a slot available at four-thirty if you want to reserve it then?

          1. MountainAir*

            I agree! I only mention it because I remember it being one of the examples that had come up in previous AAM discussions on this topic. And I guess, having worked in a fairly cramped facility where there was “just enough” for things but no extra, I see how you wind up with one multipurpose room that does double- and triple-duty, etc.

          2. JustaTech*

            There was a time at my company (in another building) where the pumping room was also the blood draw room, and both were in pretty constant use, to the point that my pumping coworker chose to pump in her shared office rather than try to clean up all the tiny blood speckles every single time she needed to pump.

    4. MissBaudelaire*

      You just brought back flashbacks to the time to custodian hollered into the nursing room, I hollered that I was in there. But he still came in, opened the curtain, looked at me, screamed, and ran away.

      He was wearing headphones.

      If he wasn’t going to listen, why give me the warning holler?

      1. Kyrielle*

        Arrrrgh! At least he said something, though. My workplace when I was nursing/pumping had me use the server room for pumping. Which I was actually just fine with – almost no one ever needs to be in that room, it had no windows, it locked, it was within 20 feet of the doors to the break room and the women’s restroom…compared to their first offer of *letting me use a manager’s office and kick him out every time* (yikes!), it was great. Oh, and it had its own dedicated AC to keep finer temperature control in the summer. (It was not freezing. It was always comfortable, even when the rest of the office was a little too hot.)

        I had a sign I hung on the doorknob when I was in there, just in case, so people knew to knock or come back later.

        So of course, when a telephone company network technician arrived for something I didn’t know needed to be fixed, a coworker (not one I knew well or worked with regularly) unlocked the door (through the sign!) and opened it. I had *just* enough warning from the sound of key to drop a towel over parts of me I didn’t want on display (and yell “I’m pumping in here!” but that didn’t stop him), and I was facing away from the door, so it could have been a lot worse. But STILL.

        The person I feel worst for in that is, honestly, the network technician. Service calls should *not* include moments like that.

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          I had a rubber door stop for inside the door for this very reason – nobody with a key was going to override that lock when I was topless in the pumping room!

    5. New Novelist*

      I was thinking about this story as I read the letter! Glad to see you’re still here – I feel like that story has been floating around here for a while

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yep, still here, although the frequency of my comments does vary depending how life is going. :) I’m still at the office where I was accidentally overriding nursing mothers’ use of the wellness room, too. Definitely not one of my finer moments in the workplace.

        1. davethetrucker*

          Also wanted to add I’m glad you’re still here, and that you’re out of the burn unit from that coal-raking you went through!

    6. Cat Tree*

      The company really needs to have a room dedicated only to pumping, even if it’s empty most of the time. Of course that’s not something the LW can change, so the best they can do is be mindful and considerate. But we’ve seen time and time again that trusting 100% of other people to be considerate of pumping mothers just does not work.

    7. Mockingjay*

      Let’s assume LW3 knows that. They noted that the room is unused at present and also that the room was offered to them as part of their accommodation. The letter is about the optics of napping as opposed to just ‘resting.’

      LW3, go ahead and nap. I have the luxury to WFH and I often do a 15 minute nap at lunch. It’s amazing how much more productive I am in the afternoons. Even when I worked in the office, I’d occasionally close my eyes in my cubicle during lunch. (I wasn’t the only one.)

      There are short nap meditations and music available on most streaming services that include gentle wakeups to ensure you get back to work. (Recommend setting an alarm or two as backup.)

      1. La Triviata*

        My office has access to a wellness room that is shared with every business on the floor – there aren’t many. It seems to be unused because it’s small, includes only one cushy chair, a sink and it’s kept ridiculously cold.

      2. Not your friend, pal*

        I definitely miss my 20 minute naps on in-office days. sometimes I do go to my car and take one.

      1. Leenie*

        In my experience, it’s often the case in smaller offices. I wouldn’t assume it’s definitely that way. But it’s a reasonable possibility. My company just opened a 50 person office. It has one wellness room, which is primarily outfitted as a lactation room (has a sink and fridge). That’s acceptable under code and the law, and I’m in California. Lactation use needs to take priority though. There are also a couple of huddle rooms which could probably be used for some quiet time, but they’re not as private.

      2. JustaTech*

        It is in my office (even though that technically violates city regulations) – the “wellness” room is the pumping room, blood draw room, and presumably at some point was also intended for people to lie down, but they locked the door and then took away the cot, so it doesn’t work for that any more.

        1. The Other Fish*

          Why are people drawing blood at work?! Is it a drug testing sort of thing? I noticed you say earlier upthread that you chose your office so you didn’t have to clean up blood droplets before you pumped… what is going on in your office?!!

          (We have ‘pee in a cup’ drug tests generally in AU, if there was a need for a blood draw at work there’d be a dedicated medical personnel doing it and their own appropriate facilities.)

          1. JustaTech*

            Oh, I work in biotech so we used to need a lot of blood for experiments, so folks got paid to give a little blood (more than a finger prick, less than for a blood donation) so we could run our studies.
            That’s in addition to all the blood products we would buy.

            I guess everyone has a different definition of normal!

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Maybe because that’s what the LW says:

        My office offers a “wellness room” that nobody else ever seems to use. It’s an empty room with some lockers and a recliner. I assume it’s mostly intended for nursing mothers.

    8. Friendo*

      Honestly, I don’t blame you, I blame your employer! They should be very upfront about what the hierarchy of acceptable usage is. If it’s going to be the lactation room it should clear for everyone.

    9. Tumbleweed*

      Thing I’ve occasionally run into with this is lack of managers willing to give people flexibility to schedule these things so they don’t clash.

      Nursing mothers tend to get a lot more latitude to go and pump whereas napping employee is only able to do it in their lunch hour so if the latters lunch hour is rigid and coinsides with someone else’s pumping time they are completely out of luck even if the reason to take nap is disability related etc.

      (both people should have the same flexibility to make it work, and that’s an easy solution for the company that they often just don’t take)

  4. HannahS*

    OP1, I feel you; that is just not how people talk in healthcare. I only know the lay of the land in my corner of Canada so caveats about cultural norms, but that would be read as downright bizarre here.

    My guess is that the non-clinical person is bringing in a corporate norm that doesn’t sit well with clinical staff. My experience of working in healthcare is that while we have our faults (eating our youmg, rampant abuse and exploitation, burnout) non-patient-facing communication is generally direct, clear, efficient, and blunt. Very blunt. Boundaries about who “owns” what task are kept clear, which comes out of closed-loop communication. If someone referred to me as “friend” and asked me if I’d finished “our” assessment, I’d wonder what planet they were from.

    1. Leenie*

      I’m in finance, and “friend” would be downright bizarre in my context. So I don’t think it’s generically corporate. The two people who I know that do habitually use “friend” are a nonprofit fundraiser and a teacher. And I perceive one of those people as a bit disingenuous, or even manipulative. So I have to remind myself that the word “friend” in itself doesn’t drive me up a wall. It’s the dissonance. When the other one addresses me that way, I barely notice it.

      1. Twix*

        I’m an industrial applied mathematician and software engineer at a Fortune 500 subsidiary, and “friend” would be downright bizarre at any job I’ve ever had across several different industries. I’m sure there are places where it wouldn’t be, but it’s definitely not something generically corporate.

        My reading was that this is all about tone. You can use the singular “we” and “friend” as an honorific without coming across as condescending, but you can also use it in a way that is clearly and aggressively condescending, and when you’re dealing with someone in person it’s often pretty clear which it is. I think Alison somewhat missed the mark on this one by assuming the most likely thing was LW misinterpreting the situation.

      2. a clockwork lemon*

        Heh, I’m in a mid-office function and I’m pretty sure I said “alright friends, I’m out” just yesterday as I was leaving the office. To me it’s functionally identical to “gang” or “team” as a term of informal group address in mixed-gender contexts. Nobody’s ever said anything to me about it–I don’t think it’s necessarily a generational thing but I assume there’s a big tone component in how it’s said that makes a difference.

        1. Gray Lady*

          “Okay, friends” to a group, and “Hi, friend” sound pretty different to me.

          “Hi friend” has a definite Mister Rogers vibe. “Okay, friends” is just a variant, as you say, on “gang” or “team.” It sounds a bit awkward to me but not childish in the way way that, “Hi, friend” is.

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            Question, what about something like “Ok, people, I’m out” – which is what I say some nights.

        2. Leenie*

          I’m agreeing with Gray Lady that “friends” sounds different than “friend.” You’re addressing a group, and not an individual where you know the person’s name, but for some reason are reaching for a different form of address. So your usage doesn’t sound at all odd to me.

          It’s obviously not the same, but I’m amusing myself by thinking about someone saying “Hey, gang!” vs. “Hey, gang member!”

      3. Lacey*

        Yeah, I’m in marketing and no one would use friend that way – even though we are a pretty chummy bunch!

        The “we” is different though. Projects go through various phases and each team has a part to play, so it wouldn’t be odd at all. But, I think it doesn’t translate very well to a healthcare setting either.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*


        I work in professional services/consulting, and “friends” somehow manages to sound both patronizing and overly familiar. The only place I’ve heard that is in preschool/elementary school and in scouts. I would discourage members of my team from using it because I can’t even imagine the impression it’s leave on some of the senior leadership people they work with.

      5. Frankie*

        As someone in non profit accounting, I can make a guess as to which you find disingenuous and manipulative

    2. WS*

      I wonder if OP is particularly annoyed by “we” because it used to be healthcare speak and got phased out for being unclear and condescending – “are we in pain? have we moved our bowels today? are we feeling better?”

    3. Grandma*

      The only people I know who address others who are not their actual social friends as “friends” are teachers of K through 2nd or 3rd grade children. “Good morning, friends (big smiles). Thank you for sitting so politely with your listening ears on.” If an adult in a workplace did that I would definitely feel infantilized – or maybe that the speaker had a serious problem.

      Although I wouldn’t go my manager, I might say to the speaker, “It really feels off when you call me ‘friend’ like that. Could I ask you to use my name?”

      1. Jackalope*

        I’ve heard it a fair bit at church, for example from the people addressing the whole congregation (I’m not Quaker). It seems to be used as a way to address the group without using gendered language. Of course it’s also a group of people who are more or less choosing to be around each other on a regular basis, so that’s different from an office setting, but at least some of the people using it are church employees.

        1. I Have RBF*

          See, I use “folks” for a group of mixed or unknown genders. As in “Okay folks, I’m headed out. See you tomorrow.” It’s not overly familiar, like “friends”, and not binarist like “guys and gals”.

          Getting called “friend” by management and office staff who aren’t actually my friends, along with the babytalk “we”, would set my teeth on edge.

      2. ferrina*

        I did know someone who would call any social acquaintance “friend”. I never worked with this person, so no clue if they used it at work.

        I worked in a daycare at the time, and I found it deeply annoying because “friends” was what we called the students. But the person saying “friend” had no daycare experience and had no idea this was the term in the industry.

        There’s a chance that the person saying “friends” is trying to use softening language or that’s just their lexicon, but could be that they are being condescending. I’d pay attention to what they did in other ways.

      3. Parakeet*

        I’ve heard it from a few people (my own age) in volunteering contexts. It’s come across as unusual to me, but not condescending (it probably helps that these are people where I have other contextual clues to get that they aren’t condescending to me). I assume it’s either something they picked up from their major social milieus or something they picked up from their day jobs in whatever field they’re in.

    4. The Other Fish*

      I wonder if ‘Friend’ is a misguided attempt to be inclusive? Like ‘folk’ but… warmer?

      The only person I’ve ever heard professionally addressing people as friends is a kindergarten teacher “Now friends! We are all going to get ready to go out for recess!”

      1. Malarkey01*

        I’m in a “non-soft” industry and I’m hearing friend pop up more when people don’t want to use “hey guys” because of its gendered perception and “hey all” is very overused and “folks or ya’ll” doesn’t fit regionally or culturally. It comes up when joining calls and videos to say a quick hi to a group. It also bumps for me but seems like a way people are trying to address groups- personally I want to use comrades or fellow prisoners of capitalism… kidding

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          I did say friends sometimes when addressing my team in emails, as ‘Party people’ was somewhat frowned upon.

        2. Tricksie*

          How about “cogs”? Hey, cogs, how are we doing today in the capitalist machine?

          Ima lobby for this.

        3. wordswords*

          Yeah, I also hear “hey friends” and similar periodically in that context. I don’t necessarily hate it, but it would put my hackles RIGHT up if it was coming from someone who already annoyed me, and someone who has or is used to being around young kids may well associate it with the way teachers of young kids use it. So I do think it has some major failure modes that would make me hesitant to use it at work except with a close-knit and casual team.

        4. Michelle Smith*

          Hi everyone!
          Hi everybody!

          Same gender-neutral vibe without using the word “friends” – because we aren’t friends, we just work together on the same project.

          1. The Other Fish*

            Exactly… “Good morning everyone” is perfectly inclusive. Except for the pessimists but there’s no pleasing them anyway.

        5. another Hero*

          I often have to speak to the room at the start of various events and “hi everyone” is right there. I feel like I mostly encounter the “addressing an individual as friend” thing online and used with people the person knows (online) in a cluster of interactions that might be with strangers. I still find it weird. but I have an actual friend who says it as a greeting, and while I wouldn’t take it up, it doesn’t feel disingenuous when she does. part of it is probably the word choice at work from, well, not a friend.

      2. ForeverLurker*

        I’m feeling very anxious after reading all these comments. I definitely use friends some times as a greeting. It entered my rotation years ago as a gender neutral replacement for guys in my fairly casual workplaces. I don’t think I ever say it out loud, but I definitely use it as a greeting in slack … now I worry everybody finds it super annoying! yikes!

        1. Venus*

          I think you’re fine if you use it as a group thing! The problematic examples here are focused on individual use.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          I think it’s really about context. “Hi friend. Have we finished our round yet?” comes across a lot differently than “Hi friends. It’s good to see you all.” The first does sound a little like talking to a kindergartner” whereas the latter would hardly ping my radar at all.

        3. Hlao-roo*

          Seconding Venus that you’re fine. It’s a pet peeve only some people have. Most of your coworkers probably don’t notice, don’t care, or actively like your occasional use of “friends.” Also, if it’s one greeting in a rotation of greetings you use, it’s less annoying than if it were the only greeting you ever used (for those who are annoyed by it–again, not everyone).

        4. fine-tipped pen aficionado*

          I wouldn’t worry about it. This is absolutely a pet peeve – nobody needs to justify themselves for not liking it and likewise should not try to enforce their preference on other people as if there is an objectively correct approach.

          If someone tells you “Hey, I know this is weird but that word really grates on my nerves for some reason. Would you mind trying to use it less?” then I think it absolutely makes sense to try to accommodate that. But trying to guess what people’s pet peeves are and avoid those things will give you an anxiety disorder.

        5. Michelle Smith*

          It’s not something you should feel anxious about, it’s really not a big deal even if someone does find it mildly annoying. But you’ve already got a gender-neutral alternative right there in your paragraph (everybody). You could use that, and say hi everybody! or hi everyone! or hi team! or hi X department! or any other number of words that aren’t as (potentially overly) familiar, if you’d like to make an adjustment.

      3. Golden*

        This was my thought too. I hear this type of language a lot in higher ed academia. Y’all seems to have evolved a similar usage (or gentrification, depending on how you feel).

    5. Friend*

      I hear friend a lot in Quaker influnced communities especially within social justice work.
      Often used as a softer option to comrade or a more gender neutral option than ladies and gentleman.
      Just giving another perspective to the word as there could be other cultural disconnect.

      1. Nene Poppy*

        UK Quaker here – I am used to hearing and using the word ‘friend’ but only at Meeting or within Quaker related activities. We don’t tend to refer to each other as ‘friend’ in other instances. I would find it weird and probably irksome to hear someone outside this calling me ‘friend’.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. I’ve a number of friends who are Quakers and they don’t call others “friend” outside meeting. So when I meet my Quaker friends they call me by name, which is what I’d expect. Likewise with the Quaker gentleman who works in my company and the chap who is my podiatrist. I’d consider it a bit peculiar if they started calling me “friend” when they know who I am.

        2. kiri*

          US Quaker here and yeah. Honestly I even find it a little self-righteous within non-Meeting Quaker activities – although that may be due to one particularly self-righteous individual I’m connected with who uses it alllllll the time.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          US Quaker here: Agreed. I would never use, nor have I ever heard used, “Friend” as a manner of address outside of a group of literal Quakers or a Quaker-centric event. (And I find it kind of pretentious even in those contexts.)

        4. The Other Fish*

          AU Quaker dabbler here… not common here. “Friend” within the religious structure, but outside of it nope. A “Friend” for quakers is a way to identify each other and be inclusive during conversations, if you are talking with non quakers they are just ‘people’ like everyone else.

      2. House On The Rock*

        My parents are Quakers and this was my thought too. If someone called me “friend” I’d feel the need to tell them I never formally joined the meeting! Alternately, it makes me think of 1930s gangster movie speak!

      3. BostonANONian*

        I also wondered if LW1 is located in a region with Quakers! This was the standard greeting at my formerly-Quaker college in PA.

    6. Dog momma*

      retired nurse here, this makes me grind my teeth. I’d ask them to please address me by name, not friend or we.

      1. Grim*

        How do you feel about being called “sister”? That’s an occasional thing among nurses where I am, and I find I can tolerate it from other nurses/allied health/support staff, but the instant a doctor calls me “sister” it’s the most condescending thing in the world. My name badge is right there!

    7. Washi*

      I’m a medical social worker and completely agree, in my experience this is wildly out of the norm for how you are spoken to in healthcare.

      Having worked in home health I’m guessing this is an admin, someone who is supposed to be keeping tabs on this stuff for compliance purposes but without the authority of a manager. It’s definitely a tough role as everyone is busy and no one enjoys being reminded about stuff like documentation. If this person is new, kind of a peer, and OP has been there a long time, I think they’d actually be doing this person a favor by saying “hey, this has to be tough to navigate, just an fyi that we’re used to being very blunt over here so the “friend” stuff is more likely to backfire than help nudge things along! it’s ok to just tell us what needs to be done, and I definitely appreciate your role in keeping us on the CMS guidelines [or whatever].”

    8. the Viking Diva*

      re “that is just not how people talk in healthcare”…
      actually, that IS how a lot of people in health care settings talk to patients. “And what procedure are we here for today?” I (usually) manage not to snap back, “I’m having an appendectomy, how ’bout you?” I could see the language habit crossing over.

      1. HannahS*

        It’s being said by someone who doesn’t do patient care. Not to wildly stereotype, but in my experience the people who use “we” in a condescending way with patients are the ones who are the least sugary with colleagues.

      2. I Have RBF*

        Yeah, I’m not happy when I’m talked down to using “we” language. They need to not use “we” when they mean “you”. I will often come back with “Well, I’m here for my vaccination, I don’t know about anyone else.”

    9. snarkalupagus*

      Yikes, I had no idea that “hi, friend!” was so grating. I use it sometimes as an informal way to answer a Skype/Teams call when I know who it is and have a strong, long-standing working relationship with them. I wouldn’t use it to address a group or in a manager-to-team member context, though, because that is infantilizing.

      1. Lacey*

        I think it really depends on the relationship you have with the person. I have had multiple real friends who greet me that way and I think it’s charming.

        If someone I didn’t know well greeted me that way I’d be giving it some side eye.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        I have a very lovely coworker who does this, and it doesn’t bother me at all. You are probably fine as long as you are not someone who treats people condescendingly in general (and you don’t sound like you are).

      3. HannahS*

        I think you’re fine? There’s a big difference between referring to someone as “friend” when you know them well and have a long-standing relationship (which I also have done! I’ve certainly said, “Bye, friends,” to a group of close colleagues at the end of the day) and a manager using it instead of a person’s name.

      4. anon today*

        100%, I definitely say “Hi, friend! What’s doing?” or similar to close colleagues if they walk into my office. I picked it up as a less AAVE-inflected way of calling close (also-female) colleagues “girl.” (I will also call, and have been called, “Lady” by close colleagues. I also address groups of colleagues (or occasionally individuals) as “Fam.”

        The “friend” thing definitely kicked up once my kids started going to a Quaker school (we are not Quaker).

        Context: east coast US, informal-er sub-industry in formal industry.

    10. NotYourMom*

      Yes, this struck me. I think Allison’s advice here may be off base, in that they are appropriate for an office environment but not clinical medical environment. Saying “we” about finishing documentation that clearly belongs to the appropriate clinician is patronizing, and its incumbent on management within these roles to figure out how to effectively communicate with profession health care providers.

      1. Nonanon*

        Interesting! I used to work in an academic research lab, and it was stressed to us to ALWAYS use “we,” either because the team as a whole was “generating the PI’s data” or because you were working with a more senior lab member who “owned” the project (eg instead of “I found that…” you would say “we found that” because the data would be published by the lab, potentially after you left the lab and/or declined authorship). I can’t help but wonder if the “we” stems from something similar; it’s not JUST the clinician, but the clinician AND the scribe for example; clinician is ultimately responsible, but the scribe did contribute so admin might just lean towards “we” even when speaking to the clinician.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I think the difference is in the process. If there was one piece that was your specific responsibility, someone asking you about it might not say, “Were we able to get that done?”. They’d more likely say, “Were you able to get that finished up?”

          Reporting results externally–> team, we
          Internal discussions–> individual, you/I

    11. OnyxChimney*

      It really stuck out to me that OP made a point of mentioning that the “we” user is not a clinician. It made me think that the OP would be annoyed at this non clinical staffer asking about documentation no matter what language they used.

      It’s also ironic you think that it must be that the OP just values direct communication… because they’ve made no mention of using direct communication with the we user at all! OP wants to complain about them behind up the chain for “being condescending” rather then simply saying – “hey I actually prefer you just say Jane have you finished your documentation from Monday?”

      Of course I’m coming from the opposite side of the ball court then you. I worked in hospitals for nearly a decade as a non clinical back office staff. In most places I worked extremely unhealthy cliques of nurses vs other clinicians or clinicians vs non-clinicians would pop up. In my experience when nurses are tired and burnt out there is no way for a non clinician to communicate with them about their work that doesn’t rub them the wrong way. I’m pretty sure there was a letter about it here even. I’ll link it in a reply.

      1. wordswords*

        It stuck out to me too, but differently. I took it to mean that the person asking is someone who doesn’t have any role in getting the evaluation done — meaning that it’s not the “did we [the team] get this done” interpretation that Alison took from it, but “did we [you, solo] get this done.” And that would grate on me too! That particular usage of “we” feels very infantilizing to me in a work context, whereas Alison’s interpretation of it wouldn’t at all.

      2. Ama*

        I do kind of wonder if OP feels like they are being micromanaged but nothing the staffer asks is *that* unreasonable. My current C-level boss does this sometimes — she’ll send reminders to all of the middle managers for stuff I have my own calendar reminders for and it irks me because it feels like she treats the middle managers like you would entry level employees when most of us have been here for a decade or more, we know when we have to present at the upcoming staff meeting or whatever. And yet I think *she* thinks it’s just a courtesy reminder because she knows we’re all busy so I don’t feel like I can push back.

        1. Lasuna*

          I work in the office of a home health agency and honestly, the questions being asked are EXTREMELY reasonable. Our clinicians are independent contractors and their contracts specify that they are paid for completed NOTES, as there is no proof that the visit occurred until the note is completed. We still can’t get our clinicians to turn in their notes on time. Honestly this reads to me like an office staff that is trying not to curse the clinicians out and had swung too far the other way as a consequence. Unfortunately, it’s often not possible to replace clinicians in my area, so we can’t actually fire people over regularly turning in notes late. I’m not saying that this is a problem with LW, but it may help LW be less annoyed to recognize that this behavior may be coming from somewhere. Also, do you really know for sure that your coworkers are annoyed by the condescension vs being annoyed at being called out on not doing their notes? I doubt they would admit to you that they regularly turn in notes weeks late.

          1. Velociraptor Attack*

            I had the exact same reading you did. I know in my state this is an even bigger issue right now when it comes to Medicaid, there are longer delays than usual in reimbursement and of course nothing can be submitted without that completed documentation.

      3. Observer*

        In most places I worked extremely unhealthy cliques of nurses vs other clinicians or clinicians vs non-clinicians would pop up

        I’ve never worked in healthcare, but I’ve seen enough…. And this was where my mind more or less went.

        1. OnyxChimney*

          To be far to everyone still in healthcare (I left permanently after I was furloughed in 2020) it’s because absolutely everyone is overworked and exhausted all the time. Everyone feels ground to dist so anytime they can vent at a “lesser” worker they do.

          The only solution to this is mass unionization of the healthcare landscape and increasing efficiency of healthcare payments by reducing 3rd party impacts (i.e. private insurance has got to go).

    12. I edit everything*

      My mom was in the hospital recently, and I feel like the nurses there used “friend” a lot when addressing her, particularly. It seems useful when “Mrs. [Lastname]” feels too distant, but first names feel too familiar.

  5. Feotakahari*

    #1: I hate when bosses say “we” will do it, because I have no idea whether they mean “I’ll do it” or “you do it.”

    1. Carl*

      I do the flip of asking “did we do X?” It never occurred to me that might sound condescending.
      I say it for a few reasons – sometimes I’m genuinely not sure who would have done it, and I also do think of the group as a team regardless of hierarchy.
      “Did you do X?” sounds accusatory.
      “Did anyone do X?” sounds…flighty.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I think “did we do X?” is different. So long as it’s a task that wasn’t clearly one person’s responsibility, I’d take that as meaning “did anybody do X?”

        *If it were specifically my responsibility and my boss asked me, “did we do X?” to mean “did YOU do what I told you to?”, I might think it sounded a bit condescending but if it was in the context where it meant “has anybody else done X or should I do it?”, that seems different to me because then you do mean us, as the team.

        1. londonedit*

          Yes, I think there’s definitely a difference between ‘Have we finished the finance report?’ and ‘Have we finished the finance report that we started yesterday?’ That just sounds condescending, and reminds me of a smarmy butler from a period drama saying ‘And has Madam decided what Madam would like for her supper?’.

          In my industry/culture/location calling everyone ‘friend’ would also strike most people as fairly odd – I’m not sure I’d find it infantilising, possibly I’d find it more passive-aggressive, as if someone was saying ‘Hey, pal, leave that alone’.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I think I may occasionally say “Did we do X?” but I’m more likely to say “Is X finished/done?” I suspect I also sometimes say “Have you done X?” which, at least to me, feels like it has less of the implied “because you should have finished it already” than “Did you do…?”

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          (Though I’ve definitely used “Did we do X?” in the “Did anybody do X?” sense that Irish Teacher mentions. I think that one comes more naturally to me because I am in fact part of the group of people who might have done X.)

        2. ferrina*

          I usually say “has X been taken care of, or do still we need to do that?”
          This is only when there isn’t a designated owner for X. If X had previously been assigned to someone, I’ll say “Were you able to get X done?” or “You did X, right?” I use the latter when I’m 85% sure X got done, but need to double check; it’s always posed as a memory check for me (sometimes I’ll even say “refresh my memory- you were doing X, right? And that’s done?”)

      3. Turquoisecow*

        I think did we do X makes sense if you’re talking a group and you’re not sure if someone did X or who it was. If the team is you and one person and you know you yourself did not do X then really you’re asking if the other person did X (and also they wouldn’t know if you did it if you didn’t know!) and “we” is disingenuous and kind of passive aggressive, because why would you ask it that way?

        But if it’s a team of five people and you’re not sure who was going to take on X or if anyone did, then “did we do X” makes sense, though I would still argue that “anyone” works better here than “we,” because “we” includes yourself and you know the answer to that, barring some memory issues.

        1. I Have RBF*

          How about “Did X get done yet?” This places the emphasis on X being done, not who did or didn’t do it.

    2. Lora*

      My boss is fortunately reasonable enough to take “Do you want to do it or should I do it?” in good humor and frequently indeed then assigns whatever to themself.

    3. Llama Llama*

      I have run into problems in the past where I have confused my team when saying ‘I would do ‘X, Y, Z’ to fix this problem.’ They took it as I would fix it, but it was really just me guiding to them on how they should fix it. Now if I catch myself saying that I clarify that they are still the ones that need to fix the problem.

    4. Michelle Smith*

      The instant my boss says “we” will do something in a meeting, I go ahead and start making space on my calendar because it always means it’s about to be my problem to solve.

    5. Caroline*

      Not work related, but my husband uses “we” language sometimes when talking about tasks that we both know I’ll be doing. He does it because he’s a little uncomfortable asking me to do things. Sometimes it does annoy me and I’ll respond archly with something like, “I don’t know if **we** have done it, but **I** have not done it.” Probably not appropriate for work, but I thought the context that “we” can soften things for someone who is uncomfortable with giving direction might be helpful.

      (No relationship advice please, I’ve got it covered! :)

    6. Turquoisecow*

      My boss used to do that and I would clarify, do you mean I am doing it or is this something you are actually going to help with? And usually it was a me only thing.

      I think when you’re the boss you want to kind of represent your team, so in like meetings with the people above he’d say “we’re doing X project this week,” even if he himself wasn’t doing anything with X project. And the big bosses would use that sort of inclusive language when assigning projects: ok, Bob, your team is responsible for the X project, what’s the update? Well, here’s what we’ve done, here’s when we hope to be finished. And then that carries over when talking to subordinates (me).

      It annoys me in the moment because I like language to be accurate and clear, but really it’s a corporate speak and I see why it’s used.

    7. Always Tired*

      I went from a “we” boss, to a “thank you” boss. A thank you boss will send you an email with a 40 page pdf and the text “Thank you for printing and binding these before the meeting today!” The first time she did it I was like “… I didn’t? Someone else must have?” and then she got very annoyed with me for not understanding that this was her way of asking me to do something.

      I much prefer a royal we boss.

    8. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      My boss always means “did you do it” but I far prefer “did we get that meeting scheduled” to “did you schedule that meeting.” The former sounds like we’re on team whatever the meeting is about, and the latter sounds faintly accusatory. But my boss also insists on being called a colleague rather than boss (which honestly is ridiculous but I applaud the egalitarian intent).

  6. DeskApple*

    Definitely curious about an update to #1. The way I understood it, the use of “we” was targeted regarding specific contributor tasks, not group work, as would be the case in a medical practice. I had a coworker try this with me and in my case it was them trying to micromanage my specific reports (that were unconnected/independent of any team projects/deadlines), so context is everything as Alison says, but I think OP’s gut is right in this case. I’d respond initially with one of Alison’s scripts: “I don’t have a history of not completing my work on time, is there something else that you need from me?” and then escalate to the manager. For the “we’s”, “Oh, I want to clarify it’s only me who does this report, I’m not sure who you’re referring to with ‘we’? That’s a bit confusing”, and see if they stop.

      1. Twix*

        Because it’s not about the parlance, it’s about the intent behind it – them trying to exercise authority they don’t actually have by being indirect and passive-aggressive. If it is someone communicating in good faith with annoying phrasing it’s not worth turning into an issue, but it’s not a waste to assert reasonable boundaries that are being pushed on.

        1. Katie A*

          That’s a big assumption to make, that it’s someone trying to exercise authority at all, much less authority they don’t have. Is there something on the letter that makes you say that? I don’t see it.

          If they are being passive aggressive and indirect, it isn’t especially productive to add more passive aggression and indirectness to the situation by pretending to be confused about whether someone else is working on the report, as if that’s the actual issue.

          1. different seudonym*

            I read the commenter’s suggested language as direct, because it names the behavior/wording that is the problem. The original “we” is indirect, since what the speaker apparently actually means is not “we” but “you [lazy so-and-so’s]”.

            Someone also made the excellent point that individual accountability is crucial in healthcare, so that it might actually make work harder to say ” we” instead of being direct.

            1. Saturday*

              But pretending not to understand who the “we” refers to is indirect – and disingenuous.

              I disagree that there’s an accusation of laziness attached to it. I’m not saying it’s helpful, but I think for some people, using “we” feels like a way to soften the question. An attempt to say, “we’re all in this together,” rather than “if the report isn’t done, it’s all on you.”

          2. Twix*

            I was referring to DeskApple’s anecdote, where they told us that was the situation. And there’s a big difference between being passive-aggressive in general and giving someone one chance to back off relatively gracefully before escalating an issue.

        2. BatManDan*

          I’m having a hard time articulating it, but I’m with you. “We” does come across as somehow condescending, in a very intentional way. I wouldn’t be able to go three days hearing that without putting a stop to it.

        3. Winstonian*

          I have a few friends and coworkers who use “friend” in this way. Definitely not a lot but enough that it doesn’t seem weird to me. Unless there’s a weird tone I don’t think assigning negative connotation to someone’s’ quirky word choice is the kindest or best practice to assume with a co-worker (or really anyone).

        4. Observer*

          them trying to exercise authority they don’t actually have

          What is your basis for saying that?

          it’s not a waste to assert reasonable boundaries that are being pushed on.

          *Assuming* that some boundary is being pushed.

          Beyond that, there are much better (for the OP) and more effective ways to push back on setting boundaries, if needed.

      2. Frankie*

        Never in my 30 years of working have I been spoken to like that across 3 different careers. It is not commonplace, it is condescending and inappropriate.

    1. Cqrit*

      I read it the same way. Not as “we the group doing evals,” at all, but as “now, we wouldn’t want the widdle kitty to be saaad.” I find it telling that the OP indicates others are bothered by it also. That, to me, supports the latter reading.

      I’m not sure how to push back on it effectively, though. This seems like the sort of thing that somebody is going to hit the end of their rope and say “FFS, I’m not a kindergartener – stop talking to me like I am one, you jerk.” And then that person will be vilified, instead of the one who created the actual problem. So OP doesn’t want to be the one, but somebody seriously needs to address it. Possibly with their (OP’s and colleagues’) manager, and let that manager address it?

      This would drive me batty and I’d hit BEC-levels very, very quickly. I’m sorry, OP.

      1. Seashell*

        Yeah, I read it as this was said directly to OP and about a task they specifically had to do, rather than something the group was doing. I would find it a little annoying, but the most I could see pushing back is emphasizing the I in “Yes, I did the evaluation.”

      2. BatManDan*

        I’m with you completely on this. You did a great job of explaining why. BTW, to me, the one that spoke up would be the hero, and the initiator of “we” would be the villain in my story forever, even if they eventually stopped using it.

    2. Marta*

      That seems needlessly confrontational over a little phrase – the faux confusion doesn’t fool anyone either – I wouldn’t say any of that

    3. ecnaseener*

      “I don’t have a history of not completing my work on time” feels pretty defensive in response to a simple question. If you want to convey that it’s weird for this person to be checking on your work, then I would just answer the question and tack on “why do you ask?” Even if you’re at the point where you really need to say “why do you keep asking me this when you know I always get it done on time,” I would still answer the question first!

    4. Heather*

      Completely agree. I say “we” all the time, but that’s for shared responsibilities. If I know a specific coworker handles something, asking her “did we do X” feels very condescending.

      1. I Have RBF*


        If I didn’t know who was responsible, just that it wasn’t me, it would be “Has someone done the X report yet?” not “Have we done the X report yet?” Even better would be “Is the X report done yet?”

    5. Observer*

      I’d respond initially with one of Alison’s scripts: “I don’t have a history of not completing my work on time, is there something else that you need from me?”

      Why? There is nothing in the letter that indicates that the person is micromanaging.

      “Oh, I want to clarify it’s only me who does this report, I’m not sure who you’re referring to with ‘we’? That’s a bit confusing”, and see if they stop.

      Maybe it would stop – but at the cost of making the OP look like a passive aggressive doofus. To their credit, the OP doesn’t actually sound like a doofus, so hopefully they won’t take this advice.

  7. Honeylemon*

    I am a preschool and kindergarten teacher. In class we call all the students “friend” and all of the teachers have taken to using this language unconsciously with each other and in our personal lives. My husband, kids, grandmother, barista, etc are all “friend” now. I try to catch myself when I’m talking to someone who won’t have that context but it’s hard when I say it so often everyday!

    I wonder if some/one of OP #1’s coworkers came from a similar environment and now it’s permeated the entire workplace.

    1. Anonymous cat*

      I think some people are starting to use it as alternative to “ladies” or “you guys” or similar words because it’s sort of neutral.

        1. Sparkle llama*

          I am Quaker and have a hard time avoiding using friend in this way at work when it would come off as condescending or odd! I use it in my personal life in and outside of Quaker circles but not at work. The hardest thing to avoid for me is saying “friend speaks my mind” as a way of saying I agree.

        2. EC*

          My family have been Quakers for hundreds of years, and I’ve never heard anyone in the congregation use friend like that. They just use people’s names or no terms of endearment.

      1. Awkwardness*

        That was my first thought too: someone trying to use gender neutral language and coming across poorly.

        But it is difficult to say from the outside.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            I think Anononon meant “afraid” as in “I’m afraid of hurting someone by accident.” I also try to be very careful of what I call groups because I don’t want to misgender someone, although I tend to default to “folks.”

          2. Amy*

            That’s pretty nitpicky. “I’m afraid” is a common English idiom to express regret.

            If someone says “I’m afraid I don’t understand the directions on this task. Can you help? ” – no one assumes the person is literally cowering in fear over the task.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah that’s what I’d use. “Hi friend” sounds really peculiar to my ears. May be a British thing.

          I’d say “hi everyone” if I was speaking to a group “hi all” in an email to a large group or reference people by name if there were fewer than four of them.

        2. Mellie Bellie*

          To me, too. “Hi, friends” just sounds so off to me a professional setting. We’re not friends. I mean, maybe we are, but this isn’t a friendship group. It hits me as both oddly stilted and overly familiar, if that makes sense. Like forced rapport.

          “Everyone” is the word to me for when you’re trying to get a group of people’s attention or greeting them. “Hi, everyone.” “Everyone, let’s get started.”

          And to me, if you’re trying to get one person’s attention, “Excuse me” or “Hello” will do the trick. If someone walked up to me on the street and said “Excuse me friend” or greeted me in the store with “Hi, Friend”, I’d honestly be taken aback and put off. It just hits my ear oddly.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Everyone, all, folks, team, and y’all have also never raised an eyebrow even in stodgy DC.

      1. Reality.Bites*

        I remember a Big Bang Theory where Sheldon said, in reference to his childhood, “I did not have imaginary friends. I had imaginary colleagues.”

      2. Iain C*

        That’s what I tried to get my son to call his fellow children at school. None of them chose to be there, let alone with each other. “Friends” seemed presumptuous.

        Many became friends, of course!

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          Why be annoying and pedantic when “classmates” and ” schoolmates” are right there?

    2. DawnShadow*

      I first heard “friend” used this way in my son’s kindergarten class too (he’s in his twenties now) and I loved it! I still have fond memories so that’s my bias.

      I think I remember it so fondly because his main kindergarten teacher was a first year teacher in the wrong profession for her. She had *a lot* of anger and frustration towards the children. Even my son, who was quiet, had several bad experiences with her. She left at spring break and the long term substitute who replaced her was like a breath of fresh air – so calm, so gentle, so the fact that she spoke of everyone as “friends” seemed like part of what I was noticing was so different with her.

      I do have to admit though, I might feel it was a bit strange to use in conversation when all are adults – I’ve never experienced that and probably that’s why I didn’t pick up using “friends” in this way from her. Maybe I should consider it, I know “guys” is problematic but it’s what comes out of my mouth more often than not.

    3. Prof*

      and now I’m pondering what my neurodivergent self would have thought of that as a little kid…and suddenly I’ve realized why the “friend” bit would annoy me too. I dislike inaccuracy and everyone is not my friend. And yeah, I was the kid who’d absolutely say that cause I lacked social graces…

    4. Dek*

      My first thought was Ms. Frazzle from tiktok, who is hilarious, but I’d be pretty irritated if I was spoken to like that

    5. Nom*

      I’ve only ever heard friend used this way when it’s about gentle parenting or early childhood education. That’s why I would read it as specifically infantilizing, more than if they were using another word, such as comrade, buddy, pal, amigo, unindicted co conspirator, etc.

      1. Honeylemon*

        “Unindicted co conspirator” is for when one of the kids says, “So-and-so told me to!” but I have no proof.

    6. California Dreamin’*

      Just yesterday the person helping me at the Starbucks drive through called me “friend.” I thought it was charming.

  8. Sleve*

    #3 – preventative medicine is still medicine. If you’re using the space to prevent overwhelm then you’re using it as a medical accommodation, as intended. So, you’re using it for a nap instead of meditation or a mindfulness exercise. And? It’s not as if napping creates extra wear and tear on the space or impacts its utility for others in a way that meditating wouldn’t (I’m assuming you’re simply lying down, not bringing in blankets and pillows and taking your shoes off). People aren’t entitled to be snippy about your medical accommodation any more than they would be if you were a diabetic eating jelly beans. It’s not a nice perk if you need it. If anything it’s more like a shackle. Ethically you’re fine, so long as you quickly and willingly vacate the room for those with higher needs such as nursing mothers, people with migraines etc. Always triage sensibly.

    Now, will your workplace see it that way? Quite possibly not. Ethics aside, socially this might be a problem. But that’s not because you’d be somehow ‘misusing’ the space, it’s because our society is still prejudiced af.

    1. Settle Back*

      I agree with this, and I’d add that in my opinion a blanket – or taking your shoes off – could also be fine if you need it. Going by the same logic – that it’s an accommodation, or a wellness-promoting action. An action that increases your productivity too.

      Though I get that Alison is highlighting the optics of the situation, and that some workplaces simply wouldn’t be on board with it.

      I used to work somewhere where it was fine to slip away and have a short nap. It was hardly ever done, just because no one on the team needed it often, but when I did do it it was more refreshing and helpful than a cup of coffee.

      1. Miss Chanandler Bong*

        Yup, some places it was fine.

        When I worked in an office, I used to slip away for a car nap at lunch, and my boss absolutely knew what I was doing. He’d be like “how was your nap?” Then we’d laught and he’d say how he wished he had my ability to nap in the car.

        That being said, I get frustrated with these return to office mandates when it’s clearly better for the employees’ well-beings when they work from home. I personally need more sleep due to being chronically ill, and I’m more productive when I can sleep later and roll out of bed and start work at 9. My employer benefits and I benefit. LW is clearly someone who benefited from WFH. Not everyone does better working from home, but why not allow it for those who do?

      2. All Het Up About It*

        I’m definitely in the camp of go for it, but be aware of optics.

        Years ago I worked at a non-profit that had a “Quiet Room” that had been donated for if clients needed some quiet time when arriving for services. Only it was one of those things that sounds good in theory, but partially because of the location of the room it was pretty much never used by clients. However, staff frequently spent some time in there on their lunch breaks, resting/napping/reading. It made since as we were mainly social worker/client services folk who’s jobs were emotionally taxing. Being able to recharge in a quietly and truly lovely space was great! It had been going on for years with nary an issue until one person decided to literally drag superhero blankets and her full size pillow from home in there. It was super obvious and suddenly we had a no naps in the Quiet Room policy. Which basically meant the Quiet Room went back to absolutely zero use and a nice sound bite for the donors.

        So use this great room, that you have been offered as an accommodation, but I recommend remembering the phrase, “Be cool, man, be cool!”

      3. And thanks for the coffee*

        Much better than napping during an afternoon meeting or presentation. I’ve done that.

      1. The Other Fish*

        So… no unicorn onesie, fluffy slippers, 100 cube pop fidget and squishmallow? Are you even napping without all that?!!

    2. Lucia Pacciola*

      “preventative medicine is still medicine. If you’re using the space to prevent overwhelm then you’re using it as a medical accommodation, as intended. ”

      While this makes sense in principle, a legalistic argument isn’t guaranteed to work. What happens if LW3 uses this argument, and HR says, “we don’t see it that way”?

  9. lyonite*

    I saw the “napping in the wellness room” title and was afraid someone was writing in to complain about me. I live to nap another day!

    (*We have a separate room for nursing mothers.)

    1. Another lunchtime napper*

      Meanwhile I got very jealous of the thoughts of recliners – I have to nap on the floor as we jabe just a tiny hard loveseat and armchair. (I used to sometimes feel stressed about using the room for this because we *didn’t* have a separate room for pumping, but luckily that changed last year so I can nap guilt-free!)

  10. nodramalama*

    eh for LW1 i think using “we” instead of “I or you” is just fairly standard corporate speech. Unless you’re genuinely not sure who they’re referring to, I wouldn’t push it and I wouldn’t dwell on it.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I’m assuming OP is talking about someone asking them to do something but being weirdly evasive about it. Which means that instead of a colleague saying “Hey did you do that evaluation I needed you to do?” they are saying “Did we do that evaluation, the one we agreed to have ready?”. I think it’s a common turn of phrase because it’s lot different if you’re talking about a group task, or about something that could be an organisational or building issue, like “did we have technical difficulties?” I also think it’s okay to say we instead of you here and there, but it starts being noticeable if the person is never once using direct language.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup. I mean, it could be either, but combined with the “friend” and the coworkers who are also annoyed, it read more like “So, how are we feeling today?” “Did we do our homework?” than “oh, actually, have we called that client?”

        Only LW knows, obviously.

        1. Mellie Bellie*

          Yeah, I think if you read the “we” in with the “friend” thing, it probably does come off as infantilizing. It’s probably the tone or vibe of the “we” and not its usage itself that’s causing the teeth gritting.

    2. theletter*

      There’s always the more grown up option of just asking “Did the thing get done?”, and the really sophisticated option of having a way to know if the thing got done, so that the manager can ask why it’s not in the system and say nothing if it is.

    3. Garblesnark*

      I often catch myself saying “we” unnecessarily to my spouse and end up with a “we should take the trash out soon. And by we, I mean you.” (I’m disabled and can’t take the trash out.)

      1. Eigenvogel*

        I sometimes catch myself doing that because I’m uncomfortable directly asking people to do things.

  11. Leenie*

    I’m not sure what the correct number of people is to work in an operation that is open 363 days a year (or 364 days in leap years). But I guarantee you that number is something more than two. It’s not LW2’s fault that the global company won’t adequately staff that site.

    1. Third Wicket*

      That was my first thought. Only I was thinking that two doesn’t seem like a reasonable number to get through a week, not even thinking a year.

      Does no one get sick? Does no one get a day off?

    2. The Other Fish*

      Oh so very much this. Assuming only one person is needed to man the desk at any time, and that the max days an employee works a week is 52…. And there’s two weeks annual leave and five sick days to take off that (so 15 days leave budgeted for)…

      363-15=348 days (after leave taken)
      348 / 5 (working days a week) = 69.6 FTE work weeks a year
      69.6/ 52 (to get the equivalent FTE annual requirement) = 1.34 FTE staffing level …

      And that’s assuming that there is a five day week, with no coverage required beyond 15 days leave, and only one person in the office at a time.

      If I was the OP and had the capacity I’d start job hunting NOW and plan to move faster. I’d be dead scared my colleague was going to quit before me and make the transition MY problem! (Not that it would be, because if my colleague quit leaving me with a 7 day schedule into perpetual hell I’d be out of there!)

      1. wendelenn*

        I know it’s a typo but “the max days an employee works a week is 52”. . . I’m sure in this case it really does feel like 52 days a week instead of 7! (Even the Beatles only did Eight Days A Week.)

    3. Shirley Keeldar*

      True! I hate to see the OP taking on so much responsibility and anxiety for a failure that is completely, 100%, on management. If they can’t find enough staff for the hours they need worked, then the solution is to cut hours, not require someone to work endlessly! OP, get out, find a better job, encourage your coworker to do the same. Good luck!

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Exactly. Two people for an operation that is only closed 2 days a year? This is on management for not ensuring proper staffing.

      OP go forth with a clear conscious that this is not your problem to solve. let us know how the job search goes and where you land.

    5. ferrina*

      Joining the chorus on this one!

      This is 100% a management problem, not an OP problem. Any decent management has contingency plans to maintain necessary staffing for normal life occurrences. Many places I’ve worked, it meant the manager themself had to step in when we were short staffed. If I don’t have any power over hiring or scheduling, it’s not my job to try to fix the shortfalls.

    6. irritable vowel*

      I know – and if I’m understanding correctly, the other staff member worked 7 days a week for several months when they were the only person at the branch? Is that even legal? Dying to know what this “global company” is.

    7. The Starsong Princess*

      OP should advise his colleague to ask their manager what two days a week they would like to close the branch or what their alternative plan for staffing is? Or maybe one day a week if the colleague wants overtime but I suspect management will figure something out.

  12. nnn*

    For #3, if you bring in a yoga mat and lie down flat on your back (savasana) you look like you’re just wrapping up a yoga session.

    Also, if you have headphones in, you can say you’re doing a guided meditation. Might even be able to drop that into conversation. “When working from home I got in the habit of doing a guided meditation during my lunch break, and I find that makes a huge difference!” Edit wording to include whatever wellness buzzwords are currently trendy at your company.

    (PS: the internet says the Dalai Lama says sleep is the best meditation)

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Blankets are a common ingredient with yoga too! Bring blocks+blanket+mat and that really sets the scene for closing your eyes and reclining.

    2. nopetopus*

      This reminds me of when I was taking a meditation class in high school. I had a not-great home life and wasn’t getting enough sleep at the time. One day in class I fell asleep and slept so hard that my teacher had to wake me up after all the other students had left. I was very apologetic, but my teacher said “you were so relaxed that you fell asleep, that earns extra participation points for putting the teaching into practice”. It was a small act of kindness, but one I still remember to this day.

      So LW, go forth and nap if you need it!

    3. kik*

      Yes! I was also going to write that most folks probably wouldn’t bat an eye at somebody doing some lunchtime yoga or meditation in that room. Luckily, the yoga-meditation-nap venn diagram has overlap!

      This has been mentioned elsewhere, but my biggest note is to make sure you’re not blocking the room for others, especially nursing mothers. It sounds like the room is normally unoccupied so it’s fine, but napping, meditation, and yoga all fall beneath nursing on the priority list for that room.

  13. Anon in Aotearoa*

    #4, I feel your pain. My name is the less-common variant of a more-common name and I am constantly misnamed. Here’s what I do, with fair success (but not 100%):
    * when first meeting someone I explicitly take care to learn the pronunciation and spelling of THEIR name, and make a comment that my own name is often remembered incorrectly.
    * when someone gets my name wrong I correct them in a friendly cheerful way. Everyone gets three corrections. After that I mentally give up on them.
    * I make very very sure I always get others’ names right, and correct other people when they misname third parties (“oh her name is pronounced MEGGan not MEEEgan”) in a cheerful matter of fact way.
    * I try not to care so much.

    1. One Hundred Percent Not Hannah*

      Anon’s points are excellent. And I feel your name pain. I had to stop caring about people spelling my name wrong – basically anyone who isn’t immediate family and close friends – since I was in elementary school. “Hanna” vs “Hannah”: it is rare that when I tell people my name without spelling it that it’s spelled right. I also have the fun experience now of people occasionally thinking my maiden name is my first name, which is…exciting.

      I did one time have a Burger King employee spell my name “Haha” on the receipt lol.

      1. One Hundred Percent Hannah*

        I am a Hannah and *constantly* get it spelled “Hanna” or even “Anna” even though I sign off emails as Hannah, my email address is hannah….etc. I can’t tell from your comment if “Hanna” is the spelling you use but it’s so annoying that there isn’t a spelling of this name that doesn’t get butchered. I don’t mind the other not-me-spellings “Hanne” and “Hana” because they’re so uncommon for me, but “Hanna” drives me up the wall.

        1. Another Hannah*

          I came to offer sympathy to LW4 but didn’t expect to see a group of Hannahs all commiserating. I don’t know if it’s just how common different spellings are in different regions, but it’s more common I get “Hanna” from colleagues in one region than all the others. I’ve never known how best to correct them because I’ve never spelt my name any way other than “Hannah”. That’s how it’s spelt in my email too!

          Though on the subject of weird spellings by other people, the best I ever saw was back when we were all little and one of the other kids had written “Hanner”. That still amuses me to this day.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Did you grow up in Boston? I’m a born and raised Bostonian, though without the accent (except when I want to have it, like when speaking to others who do), and I could totally see any kid here writing “Hanner.” Reminds me fondly of my childhood neighbor. When we would play together and be trying to figure out what activity to do, she would say, “I have an idear!” It’s probably what started me on my lifelong love of the Boston accent. (And New York accents, too, actually; despite being a lifelong Red Sox fan, I am not anti-NY like many of my fellow Bostonians. Actually, I just love any accents at all, it’s fun to hear how different people talk.)

            1. Another Hannah*

              Nope, north of England. Not exactly a stretch for stronger accents in that particular region. But I think the main factor was age. The thought process was probably, well I can spell “hammer” and it’s kinda similar sounding… XD

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          I have a really common name and it only has one spelling, but it’s a long name, so it still gets spelled wrong a fair portion of the time. Think my name being Geraldine and people regularly spelling it Gerdine. People just leave out a syllable for some reason I don’t really understand. It’s a far more common name than Geraldine.

          1. Sharpie*

            My name is Keren. It’s probably unsurprising that I’ve been Karen, Keiran, Kerren, Keiron and any other spelling that you can think of. It doesn’t help that Karen was one of the popular names for girls only a a handful of years older than me (which is one reason for the age group of that particular online stereotype!)

            I went by Keri for basically my entire twenties, apart from with family, because it’s easier and I don’t mind getting Kerry quite so much.

          2. Janne*

            Maybe people don’t hear all of it because it’s pronounced quickly?

            I have a new colleague and on my first day was sure her name was Kevin… turns out she’s called Katherine, people just rush over most of the letters.

          3. Humble Schoolmarm*

            That’s kind of funny, my problem is people throwing in extra letters. It makes sense with my first name because there are a lot of spelling variations. On the other hand, as far as google can tell, no one uses the extra letter variant of my last name and yet…

        3. Not on board*

          Not a Hannah – but I have an ethnic name and at work go by Maryanne – this might have been a mistake because I get called Mary all the time.
          Also, your name is right in the email! How can you get it wrong? The number of people who reply to an email and then get your name wrong is just astounding.

        4. One Hundred Percent Not Hannah*

          Yep, no h at the end. The amount of people who add the h on when it’s an email where my name is clearly spelled *in my email address* is truly astounding.

      2. L*

        I constantly get people mixing up my first and last names in email. My org has everyone’s display names set as “Lastname, Firstname”, but that’s a fairly normal thing to do and the comma should make it clear that the last name comes first, my name is clearly written out in the correct order in my signature, and all my co-workers have their names in the same order but somehow I’m the only one this happens to. I get it from:
        – coworkers I see infrequently but who should now how our org does things
        – people I’ve met in person who were perfectly capable of getting my name right until they got onto email
        – people who called me by the right name in email yesterday (!) and who sometimes have been emailing me for years (!) under the right name, until one day they just decided to switch it up

        I’ve never managed to bring it up when it happens, but it’s baffling and annoying.

    2. Airy*

      I think also saying “I *go by* Elena” (perhaps in an effort to soften the message) opens the door for problems, since “going by” a name usually means it’s not your legal name but another that you prefer. If someone thinks your “real name” is Elaine but you *prefer* being called Elena, they may think “Well, it’s fine for me to keep saying Elaine since that *is* her real name.” This would, of course, be rude of them but there’s a definite Type of person who thinks this way and it’s better not to give them an inch if you can help it.

      1. Florance, not Florence, or Flo!*

        Computer autocorrect is the new bane of my life because it ‘corrects’ to the common name/spelling and people may even have typed the correct thing!

        My final defence used to be to miss-spell the offender’s name back to them, which was always surprisingly effective. But risky, nowadays…

    3. Magenta*

      I have a name that is often misspelled, my mum wanted to be different and picked an unusual spelling that is in fact the French masculine version of my English feminine name. I have pretty much given up these days, I only correct people when it matters, like for email etc.

      It might just be me, or a US/UK thing but to me this line is a bit jarring:
      “in an otherwise unpleasant email, you can warm it up a little: “By the way, I’m Elena, not Elaine!” ”
      To me the exclamation mark makes the sentence come across as aggressive and even more so in the context of an unpleasant email.

      1. mlem*

        I also thought the suggested phrasing seemed aggressive.

        (And I am also someone whose parents wanted to be “different” and so picked an alternate spelling … and in fact, in his later years, my father got confused and thought they really had given me the French-masculine spelling!)

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          My mom worked in early-childhood literacy and was very determined that my name be short and with easy phonetical spelling so I wouldn’t have any trouble learning to print my own name. Unfortunately, the other several thousand parents who gave their babies the same name had no such qualms and I’ve be cursed to say “NAME, no, just n-a-m-e, you know, the easy way” my whole life. Sorry mom, you tried! Or maybe it worked extra well, since I’ve needed to spell my name for people since pre-school.

      2. Seashell*

        I’m American, and the exclamation point makes it seem more enthusiastic/happy/perky to me. Not aggressive at all.

        I’ll type “Thanks!” to co-workers even when I don’t think the thanks merits excitement, just because it comes across as more pleasant than “Thanks” via IM/e-mail.

      3. EngineeringFun*

        I am Christie. Actual conversations with HR every time I start a new job: Yes it’s my legal name. No it’s not Christine. Yes I’m sure. Yes my mother named me a Nick name. Can you take the n out of my name it’s incorrect. Yes I’m sure…..

    4. I made all my money off the big Charlie Brown*

      I’m in the same boat and I honestly don’t even try anymore. If seeing my name spelled the correct way in my email alias and signature don’t do it, attention to detail is probably not going to be your strong suit. I do wonder if they get confused in meetings hearing everyone else say my name right.

      1. BatManDan*

        I can use my real name here for the example, because not only are their (apparently) millions of us, but also a bombastic Australian parliamentarian shares my name, so a Google search only turns up HIM and never ME (which I take as a good thing). Anyhow, my name is Daniel Andrews, and I’m astounded at the number of people that call me Andrew, even when my name is right there on the screen on Zoom, my email address is my full first and last name at my domain, other people in the (live or Zoom) room call me Daniel, I still get a fair amount of “Andrew.” So weird to me.

        1. LimeRoos*

          Oh that is totally a thing! My dad’s name was Christopher Mark and he went by Chris. But so many people called him Mark. He had a shop with his name too, so like, Chris was always listed first but sometimes Mark just stuck in peoples heads.

        2. Seashell*

          My husband has a co-worker who has an occupational surname for a first name and a common nickname for his last name. Think “Tyler Bill”. He has commented that Tyler gets called Bill a lot.

        3. Seahorse*

          I’m in a similar boat – something like Elizabeth Andrews. You’d think the overtly female-coded first name would be a tip off, but no, I still get called “Andrew” strangely often.

        4. Emmy Noether*

          I had a classmate who was called something like Albert Richardson. He got called Richard surprisingly frequently. Somehow, the -son did not tip people off that this was not his given name.

        5. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I will confess to having done something similar. In my neck of the woods, teachers are always referred to as LastName by the students (with or without honorifics) but when the kids aren’t around we’re on a first name basis. It’s not uncommon, especially with new staff, to remember either the first or the last name in a situation where you need the opposite. I once worked with a guy whose first name could also have been a last name, let’s say Ross, so I was forever telling kids to “go ask Mr Ross blah blah” and have them look at me like I fad two heads.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Despite being in publishing, I have a terrible time with words that have alternate spellings. Grey versus gray for example.

      The easiest for me is when there’s a person to link this new person with. “Diana not Diane” introduced herself and added “Like the Princess of Wales and Wonder Woman’s secret identity.” THAT I can remember.

    6. raven_smiles*

      As a person who has misspelled names before (Michele vs Michelle; Benjamin vs Benjamen), I want to know I did it wrong! I’ve caught myself many a time before I hit send, but I’ve definitely realized it when the person replies to my email and I go, “oh no!” and apologize profusely. Or have panic run back to my desk to verify I spelled the name correctly. I’d rather know than not know.

    7. Sara without an H*

      Hi, LW#4 — I have done, and endorse, everything recommended by Anon in Aotearoa. The thing is, it’s usually quite easy to correct your name in a face-to-face conversation. But people rarely proofread their own emails, so I’ve been both “Sara” and “Sarah,” sometimes within the same message, and even though my name appeared, in full and correctly spelled, in my signature.

      Eventually, I decided the easiest solution was just not to care. Although when I worked for an organization that included both a “Vicky” and a “Vickie,” I took perverse pride in making sure I always got their names right.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I’m an Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer, and years ago I was the IT chief of a unit where we received a soldier with a very ethnic name. I got chastised by a fellow member of the unit because I made the effort to learn his name (last name…..I called him Specialist ). I’m still salty about that.

      2. Kyrielle*

        I have managed to mis-type my *own* name more than once…and it’s a fairly common one. Fortunately my usual “typing too fast” typo of it is an obvious one, not a plausible alternate. But it really could just be someone getting auto-corrected wrong, or someone *not* getting auto-corrected when they type it wrong, at least some of the time. To shorten my screen handle to make it equivalent, think I’m Kyrie and somehow I signed off Kyire.

    8. Smithy*

      When it comes to the correcting third parties….I would add a point of caution on this one. While there are a number of people who genuinely care about this point of correction – there are also those who don’t.

      I get “nicknamed” at work frequently and have my surname pronounced incorrectly often. In my case, this would be similar to making an Elizabeth into a Liz, using my initials in lieu of my name, and not getting the right pronunciation of Sara. It may be the variety and frequency, it may be that I am in the US, have commonly spelled English names and so this doesn’t diminish my cultural or ethnic identity, it could just be my personality type – but I genuinely don’t mind.

      And because I don’t mind, when other people make those corrections for me – I find it uncomfortable. Because while I will tell people what I prefer if asked, I never correct people and genuinely am not bothered. My boss (who also has a name she wants pronounced Way A and not Way B), will regularly correct people on my behalf as it regards my name. And it bugs me because in how she uses her position and status to help me at work – that’s not on a list of 100 things I’d want her to do.

      If you know that someone does want their name pronounced Way A and not Way B, and is actively correcting people. Then that is different. But people have all sorts of relationships to this, including who they want to correct and how. So if you’re going to do this on someone’s behalf, do ask them if they’d like that support before choosing what kind of support they want.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        This is a weird take. I hear that you think people are doing you a favor that you didn’t ask for, but to me, it’s simply a fact that someone got wrong. I would never even think to ask Elizabeth if I should/shouldn’t correct someone who called her Lizzie, because that’s not her name and I would be correcting an error. (Also, I assume the person who made the error would want to know so they could get it right. I’m doing *them* a favor, not Elizabeth.)

        So like if someone mispronounced a word and I corrected them, “actually, it’s pronounced SAW-cunn-ee”, it’s that kind of thing. I encourage you to think about why you *don’t* care if someone gets your name wrong, but you *do* care if someone who knows you corrects the person who was wrong. You so vehemently “don’t care” that it upsets you if someone else does care?

        1. Aqua*

          well, if someone introduces themself to you as Elizabeth and you later hear someone calling them Lizzie, how do you know if that is incorrect or just an alternate version Elizabeth is also happy with? not everyone has exactly one name

        2. Smithy*

          It bothers me when my boss corrects the pronunciation of my name because I’ve told her I don’t care when people call me those things. I’ve also told her other things that I would like support on and she’s not providing that. So my specific irritation with my boss is that there is support I want and I’m not getting. And I’ve told her that this in fact is something that does not bother me and I don’t mind.

          When you say you’re just correcting something that is wrong, the reason why I push back is because to me it’s similar to assuming something is always polite or desired. Think of the man who goes out of his way to hold open a door for women because “that is polite” regardless of when women are saying “it’s ok, I have this.” Or calling someone sir or ma’am as an honorific when you’re asked not to.

          This is making an assumption that the correction is desired, when I’m saying – I don’t want it. I’ve lived with this name my entire life and have found that the exercise in making those corrections to not be of personal or professional value. So when someone decides I’m not being honest or their way is best, it can create a dynamic where someone feels I haven’t corrected them and let them continue being wrong or rude, and they want to know why I never told them. So this is why I care.

          Ultimately the polite position is to listen to what people tell you and not to assume that your decision for them is what they want.

    9. BostonANONian*

      I’m LW #4! The struggle is real for a lot of us, clearly!
      This is great advice. In-person it’s easy, I feel a lot more comfortable conveying a pleasant tone. And you can bet because I so often have my name misspelled, I am careful to make sure I get other folks’ names correct!
      Short and simple seems like the best option over email – it just feels so awkward to address that when I have to send an already unpleasant message. A little background: I’m an attorney and I work in a very personal area of law. It’s important to get clients names right, as well as other attorneys. The other attorneys are who often make the error with my name! Maybe because we’re already in opposition rather than a teammate or client relationship, it feels more uncomfortable in my mind.

      1. Zweisatz*

        My experience in correcting it in writing has been good with first thing in the mail, keep it short and move on. To me changing the subject immediately indicates it’s not a big deal. (and people still pay attention as opposed to the last line of the email)

        Hello X,
        it’s actually name.
        Thank you for the materials…

    10. Michele With One L*

      I am Michele, with one L. My name has been spelled Michelle, Michael, Michela, Michella, and — weirdly, and far more often than you’d think — Melissa.

      Pronunciations range from Muh-shell, Mih-shell, Mee-shell, Meech-ell, Mike-ell, to Mitch-ell.

      I quit correcting people a long time ago, unless they’re typing my name into a critical database (like assigning an email address or adding me to the employer’s health insurance plan).

      There was also the time, pre-internet, when I ordered plan tickets over the phone. When asked for the name on the ticket, I said, “Michele, with one L,” and then spelled out my last name. A few days later, a ticket arrived in my mailbox for “L. Lastname”.

      1. tangerineRose*

        My name gets misspelled every so often. Back when I was on the phone more and received faxes instead of doing most things by e-mail, it happened a lot more often. I just roll my eyes and ignore it. I thought about it when it first started happening and decided that I could make a big deal about it (which probably wouldn’t work that well), or I could just not worry about it and picked the second option.

    11. English Teacher*

      Ugh, I had a team leader who I suspected of calling me the wrong name for months, but she has an accent from another country, and I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she was just pronouncing it that way. After all, my name is on my door, my mailbox, every email listserv, our many other coworkers calling me by it every day–it’s everywhere! Then I got a direct email from her, and yeah, it was “Dear [Wrong Name].” We’re talking multiple consonants incorrect. The wrong name is slightly more common than mine, but mine is not that unusual. I would reply with my signature, of course, and she would continue using the wrong name. Then I was just curious to see how long it would take her to figure it out. We’re on year three. XD

    12. Freya*

      My name is Freya, pronounced with an ‘ee’ sound in the middle (unlike most people with that name-spelling around here; I don’t wear nametags because it’s useless). There was one very memorable occasion when a client on the phone misheard me introduce myself and so for the rest of that phone call, my name was Tara. Moreover, Tara with both the vowels pronounced ‘ah’.

      I’ve also had memorable occasions where one person corrected the spelling of my name to their preferred spelling… in the email address… and then got cranky because I never responded to their response to my email.

  14. Frodo*

    As a school teacher, my colleagues and I use “friends” all day long. As a mother of a teen with many non-binary friends, I’m very much aware of not using gendered words when referring to a group, so using “friend” has become the norm for me. I’m currently going thru medical treatment, and I’ve noticed in the office that many of the medical practitioners use the term friends for both patients and colleagues. Friends seem to be everywhere.

    1. Iain C*

      I made this comment briefly above, but as a pedantic parent, this annoyed me. You wouldn’t refer to fellow prisoners as “friends”. Do you go to the staff room for a tea break and say “Hello friends!!” as you walk in?

      I encouraged colleagues rather than inmates.

      Of course, many became friends, but some became nemeses. Friends for the class wouldn’t have just been presumptuous, but plain wrong.

      Pretending this group of children who have no choice in being grouped together are automatically friends should go the way of “if he hits you, he likes you”.

      1. Third Wicket*

        I know this is not what you meant, but I could easily get behind greeting coworkers with “Hello, fellow inmates!:

        1. allathian*

          Still, I hope colleague catches on as a gender-neutral replacement for the unfortunate binary “boys and girls”.

          Children in class have a lot in common with coworkers because both are forced together by circumstance regardless of personal preferences, and kids in class have to learn to work together in group exercises and projects just like coworkers do. Kids also need to learn to work together with people they don’t necessarily like much personally.

          Calling kids in class colleagues would also hopefully teach them that you don’t have to be besties with every classmate but you do need to treat them with kindness and respect, just like coworkers should. Calling everyone friends just devalues the concept of genuine friendship, which is always by mutual choice.

          1. Jackalope*

            As someone said above, and as you said in your comment, classmate is right there. Colleague isn’t the right word for schoolchildren; they aren’t getting paid, and they are there to learn rather than provide a product or service.

            1. Spargle*

              The kids aren’t the teacher’s classmates, though. They are students.

              So why not use student? I don’t have a “good” reason other than it is very formal for little kids, especially in a setting where the teacher wants a happy vibe. I doubt six-year-olds are getting deep into possible hidden meanings when their teacher says “ok friends, let’s get in line for recess”.

          2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            “Classmates” and “schoolmates” have been there for decades and accomplish the same thing without corporatizing school.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I wouldn’t use this with my secondary pupils, but for primary, some of the time the staff are actually teaching them to at least try to make friends with each other, or to treat each other as friends regardless of their opinion. You could also go into detail with the class that you don’t actually expect them to be close friends, even if they behave as friends, or friendly in school. Kids understand context and voice tone- that even if you call them “team” they don’t have to go actually fetch a ball. It’s not something that would be appropriate with every group of young kids but it could be really, really appropriate for a particular group of poorly socialised kids. The parents of high-achieving well socialised kids often underestimate how many basic skills teachers have to walk other types of pupils through, so respectfully, “as a parent” means very little in terms of teaching know-how. TLDR – it can definitely be patronising for certain kids and it is definitely too patronising for the LW.

      3. Devious Planner*

        I mean sure, if you want kids to think of school like prisons…

        Seriously, we’re talking about 6-year-olds, who generally DO in fact make their friends in school. Yes, they have to be there, but teachers do try to keep it fun and enjoyable. Why would you purposefully encourage them to think of school like an unpleasant chore?

      4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        I also don’t walk into the staff room and say, “Hello colleagues!” You are not being pedantic, you are annoyed about something and making wildly inappropriate comparisons. Those are different.

        If you have actual nemeses, you are the problem here, not a generic, pleasant, gender-neutral term.

        Do no equate school with prison. Do not equate abuse with annoyance. Good grief, harmlessly addressing children as friends is NOTHING LIKE normalizing violence and abuse.

      5. Frodo*

        Yes, a lot of us teachers walk into the lounge and say “Hi Friends!” Not all the time, and not all of us.

        Curious, how did you get from school teachers to inmates?

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Here in New England we seem to be migrating to “folks”–and some of us are picking up “y’all” because of HQ’s location.

  15. hellohello*

    For the name misspelled in emails, if you’re able to stomach it I’d recommend waiting until a second offense to correct a person. I know I’ve realized after the fact that I had a typo in someones name (or, once, accidentally used their last name instead of their first in a very awkward way, because both names could be a first name, and I misread.) Hopefully at least some of the miss spellers correct themselves on take two, and you don’t have to send as many correction emails.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I’m a person with a first name for a last name! I don’t even bother correcting people anymore. Most of the time I don’t bother to correct people anymore, and it only bothers me when people get it wrong AND do that car salesman thing of using your name as often as possible, but that annoys me even if they get my name right.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        To be clear, Constance Lloyd is not my real name, she was Oscar Wilde’s wife. My actual last name is a traditionally feminine first name.

      2. Michele With One L*

        I once had a manager whose last name was a common first name. And, to make it even more confusing, he spelled his first name (which was also a common first name) in a non-common way.

        Think: Myke John

        The number of people who called him “John” was infinitely higher than the number of people who called him “Myke”. He told me he just rolled with it and, in his head, pretended it was that collegial thing people do when they call each other by their last names.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I have a colleague with a common name, but an uncommon spelling (think “Jesica” instead of “Jessica”) and a few times the autocorrect in my email “corrected” it without me realizing, so now I’m hyper-vigilant when emailing her.

    3. BW*

      I have an uncommon first name and worked in computer support over the internet. Nobody got my name right. Some of it was autocorrect problems and they didn’t notice that autocorrect had changed my name, and some of it was them misreading my name. I would always answer with “By the way, my name is X not Y.” They always would apologize and be more vigilant next time. I know from when I was very young and shy, that waiting weeks or years to correct someone meant that the wrong name was so ingrained that they couldn’t change how they referred to me.

    4. Always Tired*

      I had a coworker for MONTHS who was just straight using a different name, rather than the nickname I go by. (think calling me Nina when I am a Natasha who goes by Nat) I corrected him many, many times. I told my boss since she was friends with him but no dice. I told her I had a plan, but she would probably going to hear about it. So I picked a similarly close but wrong name for him and used it in a few emails. and BOY HOWDY was it apparently a big deal when I do it to him. He did indeed send a nasty email to me about it, cc’ing my boss (STILL CALLING ME NINA), and I just replied, “oh, sorry, I thought it was our thing? making up silly nicknames for each other?” And he got my name right for the rest of the time I worked there.

      So it could also be a passive-aggressive control thing, if it keeps going.

  16. Iain C*

    #4 My name is pretty is my email address. It appears afterwards in brackets in outlook. I finished my email with it.

    Yet people still reply “Thanks Ian!” or the like. I seethe each time. “Presumptuous” seems to be my word of the day, but it applies here. Do they think my fingers stutter? Consistently?

    I’m ok with people who’ve just heard my name assuming wrongly – the odds are in their favour – but it’s in multiple places written down!!!

    (OP – you have my sympathy and solidarity, but little advice. I do occasionally go the route of misspelling names in replies.)

    1. Le Vauteur*

      Same here! I get many variants of mine when it’s right there in the email address, I end my emails with it, and it’s in the email signature. I also prefer the full version not the shortening I get, but had to give up fighting with colleagues on that one (and yes, that’s ‘colleagues’, none of that ‘friends’ nonsense).

    2. EllenD*

      I’ve the same problem with people not reading my e-mail address or signature. It is so annoying. I’ve been addressed as Helen, Elaine, & Eileen in e-mails. On two occasions, I’ve had people ask on the phone for ‘Alan’. One even complained they couldn’t find an extension for ‘Alan D’ and I replied it’s ‘Ellen D’ and you’re speaking to her. This was nearly 40 years ago, where some people still assumed anyone important was male and went for the nearest male name.

    3. londonedit*

      Yep, I have the same thing. My name is something like Kate – a fairly standard shortening of a fairly common name, but I guess a name that’s close enough to other names (say, Katie/Caitlin/Kathy) that people just can’t seem to get it into their heads despite it coming up as the sender name in Outlook, being my actual email address, being the name I sign off emails with, and then also being in my email signature. It’s quite irritating when I email someone and they respond ‘Hi Caitlin…’

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      My uncle is an Iain, and he gets this. My cousin actually sent a save the date email for his wedding to Ian Lastname instead of Iain Lastname and only realised when Mum corrected him (the email didn’t bounce back to my cousin as undeliverable, so I guess an Ian Lastname out there got an invite to a complete stranger’s wedding!)

      The one I tend to get is being addressed by my last name (which is something spelled the same as, but pronounced differently from, a fairly common first name.) An ex-coworker who had the same issue used to put her first name in a bigger font in her signature to make the point, but still got emails to “Hi Lastname!”

    5. Antilles*

      My wife deals with a similarly ridiculous variation of this issue all the time. Let’s pretend her married name is Christine Jent. The company email addresses all have a standard First.Last format and her email signature says “thanks, Christine”.

      She regularly gets people sending her emails with “Hi Jen”. Which is doubly wrong, because it’s her last name and also not even spelled correctly! Apparently Jent is close enough to the common feminine first name of Jen that people just get super confused, somehow?

      1. londonedit*

        That’s so odd! It’s funny how people’s brains work. I have a friend whose surname is also a common first name (like Peter Charles) and he’s constantly getting people sending emails saying ‘Hi Charles’, but I think that’s slightly more understandable than ‘Hi Jen’ when ‘Jen’ is only part of her surname!

      2. Constance Lloyd*

        I share your wife’s plight! Let’s pretend my name is Mary Berry. My last name is Berry, which is similar to the first name Barry, so I am often addressed as Barry in emails. Except, once in a while, I get someone who inexplicably addresses me as Bury, which *is* a word and which *does* sound like both my last name and the incorrect first name, but is utterly baffling as far as mistakes go.

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            Speech to text isn’t an option, so it really is just people typing strange things. I don’t correct them and it doesn’t upset me, it’s just amusing.

    6. Cat Tree*

      I have a name that has two common spellings, think Nora and Norah. Mine is spelled one way and it used to be fine. Now we got a new grandboss with the same name spelled the other way. I guess it’s due to habit and muscle memory but now people frequently spell my name wrong. It can actually make things confusing to know who specifically they’re talking to/about, so I wish people would make more effort to get it correct. I don’t want to accidentally miss a question directed at me because it was addressed to Norah.

  17. Roxaboxim*

    #1: I find this hillarious and disagree with Alison’s assessment. I’ve had a lot to do with social workers, psychiatric nurses and the like – as a client / patient. And this is how most of them talk to us, to varying degrees. The good ones aren’t condescending and treat you like a competend adult, but even they often use we-form; some confusingly even say “I” when they mean “you”. Others have treated me like a not very smart preschooler or a recalcitrant teen – super annoying and unhelpful. I can see these practices seeping into communication with collegues. I think it’s worth calling out – not just for yourself, but also on behalf of the clients.

    1. Jaydee*

      This ties in to my concern. There is a long history of infantilizing adults with disabilities. Literally seeing them and treating them as long-term children because of their care needs and/or cognitive abilities. This carries over to older adults too for the same reasons. If this is how the office staff speak to their professional colleagues, do they also speak like this to clients of the agency? Do they do so in the tone of voice one would expect a kindergarten teacher to use with actual 5 year olds? Are there other ways they treat adult clients poorly (e.g. talking to a family member or caregiver instead of talking directly to the client)?

      If the office staff are speaking in a normal adult tone of voice, otherwise treating everyone respectfully, and just happen to use “friends” and “we” a lot, that’s a little odd but probably harmless. If they’re speaking in a sing-song, chipper voice and you feel like you’ve been teleported to a grade school classroom, I would say it’s worth addressing both because that’s not how to talk to colleagues and also because I’d be concerned with how they interact with clients.

    2. Been There, Hate It*


      I have spent waaaaaaay to much time in the healthcare system, and I want to know who is training the sing-song way of speaking that is used by far too many staff members. They may mean well, but I resent being spoken to as if I’m not engaged in and in charge of my own health. The odd thing is that for a lot of these “friendly and caring” folks, if you ask them to speak to you differently, they get upset. So…. I have changed providers because of this, and I cherish and promote those people who treat me as an informed and active participant in my own health care. I know I would struggle with any colleague who spoke to me in this manner.

  18. Xero Deficit*

    LW4: If someone gets my name wrong in an email, I usually get their name wrong in my reply. Hopefully they pick up on it enough to realise they got my name wrong.

    1. The Other Fish*

      That would completely over my head. I’d just be annoyed at you for mis spelling my name. If you pointed it out to me I’d usually remember it unless I spoke to you very rarely and didn’t have any real personal/professional relationship built over time

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I really don’t think I’d get this. Making mistakes with people’s names is so common that if you used the wrong name or misspelled my name in an e-mail, I would just assume you made a mistake. It definitely wouldn’t occur to me that it was a hint that I had gotten your name wrong.

    3. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      So there! The fact that you said “hopefully” indicates this hasn’t worked and yet you keep doing it. Maybe try a different tactic.

    4. Michele With One L*

      I have done this, too, but only with people I am close to (like my manager or my departmental BFF) and who therefore would find it funny.

      When the co-workers I am close to get it wrong, I know that they know how to spell my name but were in a hurry and their fingers went with the muscle memory spelling (adding an L to my name), and I am teasing them.

      I never do it unless I’m 100% sure the recipient will crack up at seeing their name with an extra consonant (Nathhan or Davvid, for instance) in my reply to them.

  19. niknik*

    3: So, is “wellness room” just office speak for “nursing room” ? Taking a nap certainly improves my wellness, but sounds like that’s not its intended purpose ? Help my out here please, native speakers.

    1. Katie A*

      No, not inherently. Sometimes it’s a room that is genuinely meant to be a space for people to take a break and relax for a bit, or maybe do specific things like stretching, meditating, calling your doctor, or giving yourself an injection in privacy.

      My office has a wellness “room” that is more like a corner of a room that has been partially walked off, and it has no door, so not an acceptable nursing room (or a good room for doctor’s calls or other private things, unfortunately).

      It also could be that it’s a room that is intended to be a nursing room, but when no one is currently nursing, it becomes a more general purpose room. Of course that can be tricky if someone needs to start use it for nursing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        When I was pregnant I got the code for the nursing room so I could rest if needed. One weekend I was in the office, didn’t have access to that floor, and so wound up lying down between two cubes. Because being upright one more minute just was not happening. If only I had stocked my cube with the yoga props from upthread!

        The wellness room could be used to pump milk, inject insulin, lie down if you have any of the physical conditions that are helped by doing that, pull yourself together if you just got rough news, etc.

    2. amoeba*

      I mean, it was shown to them in the context of accommodations for their ADHD, so seems like not only for nursing, at least in this case!
      Probably the “normal usecase” would be more like “sitting quietly for a few minutes”, “doing a few stretches/breathing exercises” or something than “sleep for a full hour”, but doesn’t feel that far off, either.

      1. Dog momma*

        I never worked anywhere there was a wellness room. And unless we had a nursing mother pumping, I can’t imagine paying someone to take a nap if they were also taking lunch and breaks! If it was done once in a while and counted as a lunch break..mmmaybe, but most would probably go to their car. Otherwise you’d probably be fired. RN post clinical in an office job, with reviews and phone line

        1. amoeba*

          LW would be using their lunch break though, wouldn’t they? I agree that outside of break hours it would be a no go in most places, obviously!

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Why would it be more okay to nap in the car?! Also, if it’s okay once in a while, why not more often? Like, I get why it might not be acceptable at all in a given culture; I work in a very non stop pace kind of place , where you just get enough time to eat and in a facility with very few rooms that are purely for staff use. So naps at lunch probably wouldn’t happen here any time soon. But I think it’s great if some workplaces allow this, where they can. Just think of how many people with chronic fatigue, or with sensory overload could do a more productive day by being allowed to take the type of breaks that they actually need. If it’s your break, (and you’re not bothering anyone) it’s your break to spend as you wish.

    3. Loose Socks*

      My husband’s company has a Wellness Room that has dimmed lights, recliners, futons, and timers to wake people up if they sleep. He called it Three Mayo Room, but officially it’s the Wellness Room. they have a separate Nursing room.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I really wondered what “Three Mayo Room” referred to. I assumed it was some sort of in-joke, like maybe somebody spilled mayonnaise there at some point or something.

      1. Helen Waite*

        Ours was very similar. We also had a 20 minute limit unless we were lactating. If you were there for lactation, you could take however long you needed.

        And yes, I used it to take short naps.

    4. UKDancer*

      My company has a room for breastfeeding and a different room called the first aid room. If you need to lie down you use the first aid room. It’s not massively comfortable but it has a bed and a first aid box. I’ve used it in the past when I’ve needed to do physiotherapy exercises and not wanted to do them in the open office.

      I think the breastfeeding room is used less often but it’s not on my floor so I’m not sure whether anyone not breastfeeding uses it.

    5. Constance Lloyd*

      I worked at a disability rights non-profit that had a wellness room. People who needed it regularly, whether for pumping or for other recurring and predictable medical needs, used a sign up sheet. People who needed it for other reasons, whether that be a dark space to fight of a headache, a quiet space to work through a meltdown, or a nap (which was expressly stated as an option!) used it on a first come, first serve basis around the reserved times. No questions asked, as long as you were accurately recording your billable hours. It was a really simple and effective way for this employer to really walk the walk of supporting people with and without disabilities in the workplace, and making it so widely available also helped alleviate the burden of navigating doctor’s notes and reasonable accommodations. I know one person who abused this, but their performance was predictably problematic in much bigger ways, so they were let go for those reasons and nobody else’s access to the wellness room was affected.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think it varies by organization. We have several small wellness rooms in our building that anyone can reserve through the conference room system. It’s intended for nursing parents, people who need a few minutes to themselves, people who feel a migraine coming on, or people that want to take a short nap. I know someone on one of my teams takes a 15-minute break to do a mindfulness exercise days they’re in the office. If someone was in there for hours regularly, I’m sure someone would notice, but, best of my knowledge, we’ve not had any issues with one not being available for nursing parents.

    7. sam_i_am*

      No, wellness room is something entirely different from a nursing room. A wellness room is meant to be a place where you can go to get away from harsh lights, noise, etc. Sometimes they’re also a prayer room, but I’ve never seen one that could reasonably work as a nursing room.

  20. Lilo*

    Is there any way you could get a doctor’s note for use of the wellness room? Something that was available my work (before we switched mostly to telework) was that pregnant women had a break space to take lie down breaks in the health clinic (government employer). You could get a doctor’s note or the clinic would have the staff nurse write a note.

  21. Dances with Code*

    In a previous career, I handled a lot of inter -agency mail at a school organization. I had a very specific function that required certain paperwork. My married last name is quite short but very unusual. It was constantly misspelled in diverse and sometimes amusing ways. As a more common name of a different origin/ethnicity, a type of pasta, missing a letter, with an extra letter, etc. Occasionally, even my first name, of French origin and reasonably common in US populations, would also get misspelled. I kept a running list of all of the misspellings I received, whether in inter office mail, email, whatever, posted in my cube. It was a source of amusement among my direct colleagues. I still have it somewhere.

    1. Loose Socks*

      When I was a preschool teacher the children couldn’t pronounce my last name. What they ended up calling me instead was “Ms. Breadstick”, which I loved

    2. Emily Byrd Starr*

      I wonder if your husband is a distant member of my family, because I also have a very uncommon last name that is often misspelled and could be mistaken for a type of pasta. I say “distant” because as far as I know, no one in my family married someone with a French first name.
      My screen name is the name of a fictional character.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      An ex-coworker had a Polish maiden name, and said that as a child, she’d been asked to spell it, she’d get as far as D-z- and then get told not to be so silly. In the next job after that, I worked with her brother’s wife, and she got all sorts of misspellings of that name. She actually ended up reverting to her own maiden name professionally in the end.

  22. Loose Socks*

    I do this so often, and I’m trying to so hard not to! I didn’t around 10 years in Early Childhood Education, and certain speech habits that are used with children have accidentally followed me into my next career (HR).

    I work in a male dominated field (I am a woman) where we send new hires to specializedv training soon after being hired. I work with our on-staff recruiter/retention officer to make sure everyone has everything they need, and we have meetings before they leave and when they return. One day the recruiter/ retention officer pulled me aside after a meeting with the new hires when they came back to explain to me that people don’t often ask them “Did everyone have fun? What was your favorite part? Are you excited to start your new shift?”

    I try to be extra careful now in how I phrase things, but I caught myself saying “We probably shouldn’t say that” in response to someone venting about another employee in a way that wasn’t work -related and not appropriate. I definitely should have called them out, but not like that.

    Thank you for the reminder!

    1. BatManDan*

      My mom spent her career in early-childhood education, and never did gain the ability to talk to others as competent adults.

    2. Cat*

      “We probably shouldn’t say that” – it often comes up here and in some other spaces that when it comes to speaking up about stuff like that, if reasonably safe to do so, it’s often better to say something to convey something wasn’t ok than let it pass for want of perfect wording

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I wouldn’t have clocked that as “former early childhood educator language slip” at all so don’t be too hard on yourself — sometimes in those moments our instincts take over and that’s ok!

  23. Brain full of bees*

    #3 – I worked for a music company for a few years where we had a wellness room that was colloquially known as “the hangover room”; generally people would use it for a quick nap if they’d had a big night out at a gig the night before, because we were allowed to work wherever we wanted to in the office (kitchen w/view over the Thames, rooftop garden, lounges in the hallway, etc, it was a very fancy tech style office) so you would take your laptop & try to subtly act like you weren’t dying while sneaking into the room for a kip…all that to say I think you’re more than fine to use it for legitimate reasons, & I wish I’d thought to ask for such an accommodation for my ADHD in the past lol

  24. bamcheeks*

    I work on a project with an assistant who is entry-level, and I oversee all her work but am not her formal line manager. I am trying so hard to break myself of the habit of, “we need to…” when I mean, “I’d like you to…”! She’s pretty on the ball and we haven’t had any problems with her NOT picking up and action, but I just think it’s bad practice for me not to be clear when I’m assigning her a task versus listing for myself what needs to happen over the next few days, weeks or months.

    “Have we done X” is the kind of thing that flies in a close group with good communication and a lot of trust, but can turn into a REAL irritant if there’s any friction or lack of clarity about authority or role responsibilities. I would definitely prefer, “is X sorted?” which covers both, “is X finished and sent off” and “is someone responsible for X and expecting to have it done and sent off within the necessary timeframe”.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yeah, I struggle with using “we” when I mean “you” as well sometimes. I try to reformulate it as “we need to (organisational goal) so please could you (specific request)?”.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I use the same reformulation, especially when tasking out multiple parts so it’s clear who I want to do what and by when. I think people are more comfortable when it’s clear that you’re asking them to do it and they don’t have to guess about it.

        1. I Have RBF*


          The team goals/assigned outcome is “we”, but “you”, “you” and “I” when it comes to breaking up the tasks.

  25. Yup*

    LW#2: You are kind to worry about your coworker, but this issue is above your pay scale. That company is mistreating its employees, and you should not have to be the one worried about how other people will have to deal with their corporate greed. I would follow procedure and announce your departure as required by law. And I really hope your coworker either only comes in 5 days a week, or quits too. Employees are people, and we should get to live our lives instead of being used as a permanent stop gap (and eventually burning out).

    1. M2*

      #2 says it’s in a rural branch. I assume there is very limited work in the area and that may be why the other employee has not left.

      Some of my extended in laws live in very rural parts of this country and there are limited jobs but that’s where elderly family is/ some own a farm/ etc so they can’t actually move. And some of these places have limited or spotty wifi so WFH jobs can be hard to come by. Takes them 1 hour to drive almost anywhere.

      #2 if you can I would try and give 4 weeks notice or if you are close with your coworker maybe a week before you give notice (if you are doing 2 week) maybe say you have decided go look for new employment or say hey I am looking for a new job what about you. If you aren’t comfortable don’t do this, but I have been looking but for something very specific and some of my coworkers know because we are all very unhappy with the new top boss. Basically everyone senior level is looking and a few have already left. I try to protect everyone in my teams from this person but that means I am totally burned out. And yes the very top person and head of HR knows this person is toxic yet refuses to do anything about it.

      You said you have new managers and if you have something lined up already 4 weeks gives them time to at least get a job posting up and potentially start interviewing.

      There’s a period in my job when it would be awful to leave just awful create a giant mess. I am going to try and not leave during that period but if I get something I will try and get as much done/give enough notice so it doesn’t sting so bad. It also isn’t my issue my boss refuses to learn this complicated system or let me hire more people. I have a large team but it would still be chaos. But would I miss a great opportunity for me? No, I wouldn’t but I also don’t have any extra time during this period to apply anyway.

      1. Yup*

        The company is still not allowed to burn people out–rural or not.

        People get to live their lives without having to think of the company that never once thinks of them.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      I feel like I see places in my major city that have temporarily shortened hours due to staffing. I don’t understand why they can’t close on Sundays and Wednesdays (or whatever days already have the shortest hours/slowest needs).

    3. Ama*

      I am about to leave my job and there’s just not a good time to do it. Probably about 75% of what I do no one else at my job really knows how to do, and right now my boss is already covering for someone else in our department who is on maternity leave (although she’ll likely be back by the time I actually depart), while my direct report is about to file for intermittent FMLA to deal with a family member’s illness. But my workplace, despite multiple situations like this in the last five years, refuses to develop a staffing plan that has some redundancy built in, even though every time someone quits or goes on leave it causes a crisis and someone ends up covering multiple jobs for months (and then they often leave and the cycle continues).

      I do feel some guilt for what my coworkers are going to have to deal with when I’m gone, but my bosses caused this situation by refusing to staff adequately and treating every staff vacancy as if it’s a new situation they couldn’t have prepared for. I am leaving behind extensive documentation of my role and processes and I will make sure everyone on my team knows what’s in there and how to access it before I go and that’s the best I can do.

  26. Dread Pirate Roberts*

    I’d encourage you to use the wellness room for your nap, for your own well-being but also normalizing the use of the room can benefit others who might also be thinking “but no one uses it…”. We have a few in our large office that are mostly empty but people do use it for pumping, prayer, naps, escape from the fluorescent lights, quiet, and just to get away for a bit, though mostly people don’t notice when someone enters. You shouldn’t have to tell anyone what you’re using it for, though using it daily might cause the People With Opinions to have Opinions of course. But in most office I think that would be a small price to pay for preserving your well-being.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      They are definitely not the norm in academic publishing.

      I feel like the assumption is that if you’re paid to write, you’re able to find words to convey the tone of the email. Like in the novel I’m reading, it doesn’t sprinkle in emojis for “happy” or “shirt” or “cat” but just uses the words.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Ok, but a novel and an academic publication are completely different contexts than an email to a coworker. A novelist should absolutely take however much time and effort they need to convey their tone through the prose. An informal email’s job is to convey its message clearly, and if a smiley face works, it would be bad use of time to try to rewrite the email to get the same tone across without the smiley face. I get a lot of emails from published academics and I’ve never been surprised that they use smileys!

        1. Mo*

          I almost never ever see emojis in informal emails among academics either… (I work as an academic at an R1.)

      2. Laika*

        FWIW I’m the only person in my 150+ person organization that is actually paid to write, and ALSO probably the most prolific emoji-user in the company. And my previous boss (who was also paid to write) never capitalized or punctuated any of his Teams chats, though his emails and external-facing communication were of course impeccable

        I spend so much time crafting the polished stuff that, e.g., “slightly smiling face” or “flexed biceps” does plenty of heavy lifting for me. I don’t need to spend bandwidth fretting over my diction in an email.

        1. TW*

          Yep. I tend to prolixity in general, but since most of my communication is going to busy, technical, non-writer people, I really try to winnow down most emails to get right to the point. Which can often seem too blunt. So while my instinct is to add a lot more words to convey tone and make it friendly, the occasional :) does it a lot better.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        To be clear: I work in textbook publishing, and am saying that emails I receive virtually never have emojis in them. Probably the thumbs up as a loop closer is the most common, and “great thanks” isn’t that much longer to type so it’s much more frequent.

        Emails I write do not have emojis in them.

        I will admit that they often strike me as similar to how, if you say “Gentle reminder that the TPS reports are due Thursday” it lands less gently. If you have to preface the paragraph with “This is gentle” “This is funny” “This is quirky” then I usually find it actually undercuts the gentleness, funniness, or quirkiness of what follows.

      4. Scholarly Publisher*

        I do see emojis in internal emails where I work, mostly used in the same ways that emoticons would’ve been used twenty years ago — smiley faces, yes; random vegetables or objects, generally no.

        I fully expect, however, that before I retire I will be asked whether the title management system can handle an emoji in the book’s title. I also predict that the book in question will be one of the densest and most theory-heavy pieces of academic prose I’ve ever encountered.

    2. DrSalty*

      Well I think it depends. For example, we use emojis internally but never in client facing communications. So are we an emoji hostile field?? *shrug emoji*

  27. DJ Abbott*

    LW1, being called “friend” by management would grate on me too. Especially the phony-friendly, indirect, too-critical manager. She is not my friend!
    Are they trying to act like you all are actually a group of friends, similar to the “we’re all family” thing? Or is it more just a habit of speaking?
    Either way, yikes. Keep your guard up and keep some distance.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      There’s definitly something more going on. OP is not the only one annoyed by this. I wonder if its just the most obvious symptom of a larger problem?

      What else is going on that you don’t like about your company and you just focused on the words to complain about? Long hours with low pay (more than normal in this field?). Low staffing so patient care is suffering? Management that discourages time off?

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      One of the things we train new managers on is that they can (and should) be friendly toward their team but they absolutely cannot be friends with them. I feel like calling them all “friends” would muddle that message.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        Definitely. I’ve never seen this done and I’m sure it would be weird and uncomfortable.
        Make sure they know not to act friendly, then completely misunderstand a good employee and give her a bad review. Insult plus injury. Looking at you, new department manager!

    3. And thanks for the coffee*

      I’d probably be quite annoyed. Might say, oh my name is Jane, in case you’ve forgotten,

  28. Cabbagepants*

    #3 Check your employee manual. For whatever reason, all my employers have had very strict rules against sleeping on site. Like it was considered a fireable offence! I was always a salaried office worker so it’s not like I’d be sleeping “on the clock” per se.

    1. allathian*


      I had to tell my manager that I was pregnant earlier than I’d planned because she found me sleeping at my desk one day when I was about 14 weeks pregnant and not showing yet.

      She sent me home for the rest of the day on sick leave (ours is something like 3 months a year at full salary, separate from vacation days) and told me to use the wellness room in the other corridor if I felt sleepy during the day. I sometimes did, but never for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

    2. reg*

      yes, i was scrolling down to say this! i had a coworker who was rumored to be fired for having violated this rule. LW, i strongly recommend checking your handbook for this rule. even if your immediate supervisor okays the nap, they might not be aware of the rule (because who has this stuff committed to memory) and some other upper level staff could get you on it.

    3. I Have RBF*

      WTF? That is bizarre.

      IMO, sleeping during your lunch hour is none of their business. Plus, if it helps a person be more “on” afterwards, it’s a positive thing. When I worked in an office I would often go nap in my car, if it was parked off the street. I had a boss who would snore in his chair in an open plan office every afternoon.

  29. I should really pick a name*

    I’ve noticed in that past few years that people have been using “friend” a lot more often.
    I don’t think it’s intended to be infantilizing based on the contexts in which it’s happened.

    I don’t love it, but I think the LW is reading too much into it.

    1. What the what*

      I don’t like people calling me friend unless they are a friend. Friendships are precious to me and it bothers me to have someone throw that word out casually. I’m just grumpy about that I guess. Oh, and get off my lawn. ;)

      1. I should really pick a name*

        It sets my teeth on edge (is that actually a phrase?) when people who are not my brother call me brother, but it’s not worth saying anything about it.

      2. Gozer (she/her)*

        I like the one Sparhawk uses – ‘neighbour’. Because you can’t tell if someone is friendly but you can tell if there’s within physical distance of you.

  30. not elena*

    I have an unusual full name that people almost always get wrong. A huge number of my emails start with “Elena here, checking in about (etcetc)”

    I basically put “Elena here,” at the beginning of emails as often as possible (including in ongoing conversations if the person keeps getting my name wrong, I’ll just keep adding it to every message).

    1. dietcoke*

      I have a pretty common name that people still confuse with another (think Emily being called Amelia, it’s not really *that* close so it kind of irks me), and I’ve done the same thing with emails. It seems to help a bunch!

  31. chellie*

    L1: I would be interested in whether there’s a culture of infantizing patients that’s spilling over to staff? I have no reason to think so based upon the letter, but talking to older adults as though they are toddlers is by no means rare in health care.

  32. Jen Not Jenn*

    The name thing drives me up a wall. I use Jen, not Jenn. People keep using Jenn, and it’s starting to ramp up because my boss keeps using Jenn in spite of me telling him I spell it differently a couple times. It seems like a petty thing to get worked up over, but I’ve been working here for over ten years, I’ve never ever signed off as Jenn.

    1. Jenn, But Jen Is OK…Never Jenny*

      I have the opposite! I use Jenn – luckily for me Jen doesn’t bother me, because Boss Man, who is SUPER GREAT in literally every other way, frequently mis-types or doesn’t realize and uses single-N Jen lol. But for me, as long as you don’t call me JENNY, we are all good, so I will correct folks who call me that but not the single-N folks as I am just not personally very invested in that one. But I DO note and appreciate the colleagues who email me or message me to confirm if I am a two-N Jenn!

    2. Cat Tree*

      It’s not petty! People deserve to be called by their correct name, and you get to decide what is correct. Some people don’t care and that’s a valid response, but feeling upset is also valid.

      I make an effort to get names right by checking the email address (which is already *right there*) and checking emails that the person has sent to see their signature before using a nickname. If I’m working with a new person I will sometimes just ask them outright especially for names that commonly have nicknames. Yes, this is some extra effort for me but people deserve that basic respect. You deserve it too.

  33. PieAdmin*

    I office also has a wellness room that no one ever uses and I absolutely have used our wellness room to nap. Ours has a lock and I just go in there and lock the door. No one has asked what I do in there and I have not told anyone except my direct boss that I use it for napping.

  34. What the what*

    #1: That would be annoying. It could be the person is not good at managing/leadership and feels insecure at being in a leadership role. Or it could be an affectation that just rubs people the wrong way.

    The corporation I work for says super annoying things like that (but in more corporate-y speak instead of preschool speak). I find it annoying…..and grating-ly entertaining.

  35. Hyaline*

    As an aside to LW#3–finding a place to nap sounds a bit like a Band-Aid for a bigger issue of not getting enough rest at night. It sounds like the letter writer’s inability to sleep well at night wasn’t a huge issue while the work was remote and so they back burnered it, but now it is an issue. I would really encourage the letter writer to make an appointment with their primary care doctor to get the ball rolling on investigating if there are any solutions to their nighttime sleep issues if they haven’t already. ADHD especially is super commonly associated with sleep problems, but there can be other causes, too.

    1. Emily Byrd Starr*

      I had thought that, too. Unless the LW is a recent graduate, they probably worked all day pre-pandemic and managed just fine, so they can learn to do the same now.

      1. JustaTech*

        Or they didn’t? Or a medical condition causing poor night time sleep has gotten worse in the past few years?

        Things that can cause poor night time sleep (off the top of my head): sleep apnea, menopause, restless leg syndrome (common in ADHD), ADHD, any medications that can cause vaso-motor symptoms (night sweats, hot flushes), the list goes on.

        And also, they are managing, but taking a short nap at work during their lunch break. That sure sounds like “managing” to me.
        Resolving sleep problems can take a really long time, first to identify the cause and then to try possibly dozens of interventions and treatments before they find one that works, or their symptoms resolve for other reasons.

      2. Observer*

        Unless the LW is a recent graduate, they probably worked all day pre-pandemic and managed just fine, so they can learn to do the same now.

        You have absolutely no way to know any of this. *Especially* your last sentence. And that’s before you get to the fact that from the OP’s letter, it’s quite possible that they did NOT “manage just fine” before the pandemic.

  36. reg*

    LW 4, i have a double first name and virtually everyone i’ve ever met assumes the second part is just a suggestion they can ignore. because it’s very much not, i’ve started correcting new people immediately. “here is the answer to your question. [line break] i go by jimmy john, or jj. thanks!” it seems to be going well.

    1. reg*

      addendum: i started being explicit because the following never worked

      new coworker: thanks, jimmy

      me: you’re welcome.

      jimmy john (or jj)

      i also prefer to do it right off the bat with the first offense because it doesn’t let awkwardness fester (so far!). and actually instead of “i go by jimmy john” i say “please call me” which makes it slightly more of a request than a full on correction

      1. Laika*

        Yeah, “I go by…” opens up room for debate depending on how, erm, boneheaded the other person is.

        I now default to a breezy “my name is Laika” (though it’s harder to sound breezy in an email, it’s still what I use). After years of people assuming my name is something that it’s not, I just kind of stopped caring about softening the correction

  37. trust me I'm a PhD*

    I’m just here to defend “hi friend” –– I have several colleagues who use it, and they’re some of my favorite folks in my field. I do think that personal relationship means a lot; in my case, because the person saying it has a good reputation for kindness, etc, “friend” is fine, but I can see how it would not be if you didn’t like the person.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      It’s fine if it doesn’t bother you personally. That doesn’t make it read any less condescending and phony to other people. I get that the term “friend” has been diluted by its use for social media connection, but it grates in a professional setting where we work with adults and not children. Those aren’t my friends, they’re my colleagues.

      And of course we are all more likely to accept less-desirable behavior from people we generally like and respect. My boss manages to make my full name sound like a term of endearment because they’re such a lovely, kind person whereas one of my least favorite coworkers manages to make it sound like my mother scolding me.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      I admit I’m surprised to see so many people dislike (or outright hate) it – I thought “friend” had sort of become code for “group of people who I am neutral-to-positive about” in these contexts, sort of like how “How are you?” in a work setting actually means “Hello my fellow human” instead of actually wanting to know how you are. I guess I’ll work on getting it out of my vocab, just in case! (I tend to use “folks” in these sorts of situations anyway because it seems the least likely to cause upset, but I’m going to keep an eye on myself for any uses of “friends” that may sneak through.)

  38. Also-ADHD*

    For LW1, it doesn’t surprise me this is bothering multiple people. I’ve worked in healthcare (not clinical myself), education (both as a teacher and a more administrative/higher level technical role), tech, and more. And the thing about healthcare is, similar to education, you have a specialized, highly educated, and (especially with the roles stated—I’ll note no MDs) predominantly female workforce. Then at the highest levels, you have some female leaders but also a higher % of males (despite individual contributor roles, clinicians in this case) being predominantly female and the gender dynamics amplified because they are in a “helpful” job —clinical workers (especially non MD) are helping positions, and thus often asked to self-sacrifice and given less respect by management in many cases.

    I think all of that factors in to why the “we” and “friend” feel wrong. There is a feeling they are not expert, highly educated, valued workers in the eyes of some managers, especially when the language doesn’t bear out a professional acknowledgment of them. If managers don’t speak to each other in the same manner they speak to clinical staff, this is noticed and amplifies issues.

  39. BookMom*

    I was a small fender bender in my mid-twenties. I called my insurance agent and described the accident. He said, “I don’t think we’ll be able to show that the other party was at fault here.” I remember thinking even at the time how compassionate it was to use “we”… like, it was totally my fault for not checking my blind spot, but he was saying that he was here to help me navigate the claims process, not scold me. If my supervisor now says, “we,” I hear, “I’ve got your back to support you on this project.”

    1. kik*

      I think this is a great example of how the same phrasing can be received as supportive by one person in one situation but to a different person can be seen as patronizing.

  40. my $.02*

    I once worked for a home health agency as a supervisor and in one of my yearly evaluations I was asked to read a book titled “How to speak to your toddler so they will listen” to improve my communication style with staff. I had been a nurse for 10 years at that time and worked with all levels of staff for years. That always sat wrong with me.

    1. Emily Byrd Starr*

      That’s bizarre, unless you were in the pediatrics field and they really mean patients instead of staff.

    2. JustaTech*

      Ooh noo…

      Many years ago my husband was given his first management position at a small tech startup (so, very “here you go!” and no mentorship), so he decided to read some books on being a manager. The best was “how to manage humans” because it was *specifically* for early-career managers working in tech with individual contributors (programmers).

      I am sure that somewhere there is a book called “how to talk to clinical staff” or “how to talk to nurses” – even if it conveyed the same general information as the toddler book it could only be less offensive. (And hopefully you don’t have to ask clinical staff if they are sure that they don’t need to use the potty.)

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I went and looked up the book in question. It just centers around positive communication, identifying and solving problems, de-escalating conflicts, and improving behavior. You might not use the exact same words or tone, but the strategies seem sound.

  41. HonorBox*

    OP2 – While it is very kind of you to think about your coworker, and I’d do what I could do to mitigate negative impacts on them as much as possible, I’d still do what you need to do for yourself based on what you know about your move and what you know about management. While it is nice to protect our coworkers if we can, it is also impossible for you to control for what may happen after your departure.

    OP3 – Use the wellness room. You’ve already been given the nod that it can be used if you’re feeling overwhelmed, so it should come as no surprise to your manager if you actually do that. Just because your nap is preventing you from being overwhelmed doesn’t mean that it isn’t a perfect use. As others have said, you may need to adjust based on the timing of someone who needs it to pump, but if you find yourself in there and a coworker needs it for that purpose, just check with her to see what specific times she will need it and plan your nap around that. I’ve fallen asleep plenty of times doing guided meditation, so the fact that you’re “doing guided meditation” and “happen” to fall asleep shouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

    1. HonorBox*

      Shoot… had to add this: If someone pushes back, hit up your doctor for a letter that you can place on file noting that you’ll need the wellness room for 30-45 minutes.

  42. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    Why is napping in the middle of the workday, esp if on your unpaid lunch break time, considered so wrong in the US? Entire countries in Europe and elsewhere do this every single day, siesta is recognized as a good thing, rejuvenating, balancing. Yet we see it as lazy or slacking somehow.

    1. NotSarah*

      Agreed. I would often close my eyes for a few minutes after I had parked my field vehicle and just rest quietly. Made a huge difference.

    2. Dinwar*

      Same reason sleeping in and working late is considered wrong, and taking your vacation days is considered wrong, and enjoying yourself in the evenings when traveling for work is considered wrong: Holdovers from the Puritanical culture. We as a culture have a nasty habit of defining ourselves by our jobs, and viewing any time spent not making money as wasted time.

      So basically it’s Europe’s fault. They kicked the Puritans out, and now we have to deal with them! (Joking, of course!!)

      It’s getting better. The various DOTs and OSHA are both cracking down more on absurd work hours–for example, I’m not allowed to work more than 10 days in a row anymore (personal best is 27 days straight, each 10+ hours). If you have a CDL it’s even more restrictive. Plus, good bosses are learning that letting people recharge means they’re more productive during the time they’re at work. But there’s still a lot of stuff that hasn’t caught up.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yup, it’s those dang Puritans again. The Puritan work ethic might get stuff done, but there’s a reason “Puritanical” is not a compliment.

        (I’m sure there are scholars of the subject who have more data, but I’d say at least 30% of what is weird, difficult and problematic about American culture is rooted in those effing Puritans. Who were my direct ancestors, so I profoundly hope I disappoint them every single day.)

  43. Gozer (she/her)*

    4: I’m not saying my name for obvious reasons but part of it is how it’s very differently spelt according to the ‘norm’. So the number of people who ‘correct’ it back to what they think it should be has been a constant annoyance my entire life.

    However – short of a single correction ‘btw you left spellcheck on – it’s X not Y’ (for emails) or ‘it’s X but carry on’ I just look upon it as a great way to sort out spam/uninterested people. Email comes in with the wrong spelling? Probably junk. That guy in dev who keeps correcting my name? Eh, he’s a muppet and his code sucks.

  44. Cici*

    I work at a historically Quaker institution where ‘friends’ is synonymous with ‘all’ – “Hi friends” instead of “Hi all” to begin an email. It’s less used in person, though…

  45. MCMonkeyBean*

    I am curious about potential cultural differences in letter 1 as well. I am white, but my understanding is that “friend” is more commonly used like that in black communities. I also am seeing it recommended more and more often in queer spaces as a gender neutral term and I feel like I would not be surprised if it became more common in the future.

    For the “we” I feel like context and tone makes a big difference. I say “we” a lot at work, when it was really just me who did something. I am sure my grandboss says things like “have we done the x report” a lot when it is a question addressed to our entire group. But I can imagine some scenarios where it comes off infantilizing, and if multiple people are feeling that way then it’s probably not stemming from nowhere. But it’s a delicate enough line that it’s probably not worth addressing.

  46. Swamp Witch*

    OP 1: I was an administrative manager in a clinical setting for quite a while before switching careers and I oversaw a lot of unit secretaries and admins. I wasn’t medically or clinically licensed but I had/have a masters in public health and a lot of my staff were credentialed in other things that agencies like yours need to function. From my perspective, it was difficult for my staff to interact with the clinical team because they were burnt out (through no fault of their own). Many of them felt they had to tiptoe around the clinical staff. You pointed out that one person speaking that way was non-clinical. If you’re not their manager, non-clinical staff are not subordinate to clinicians. That was a big problem I saw that clinical staff would try to “pull rank” with admins, which I’m wondering if that might have something to do with your frustration.

  47. Database Developer Dude*

    It just leaves me absolutely gobsmacked how many people don’t even bother with something so basic as learning someone’s name correctly. That’s a part of the basic respect we all owe each other as human beings. I remember feeling resentful because a boss at one of my previous postings addressed me by a coworker’s name after I’d worked there for a year and a half already. The coworker is a short white guy, I’m a tall black guy. Really Mike??

    Then there was the time I was the IT Chief of an Army Reserve unit, and we got a soldier in with an ethnic name (Thai, I believe). I made the effort to learn his name and got chastised for not using his nickname that was imposed on him. I’m still salty about that.

    Alison even had a story on here about a person who insisted on using a transgender person’s deadname “out of respect for their mother”. That’s an entire boatload of crap.

    If someone gets your name wrong, correct them every single time. Be civil, be professional, but do it. They’ll get sick of it.

    Hell, I go by my initials, and I will correct people who want to just use my first name.

  48. Cat Admin*

    #4 I have this happen to me a lot too (once even a completely different name “Christina vs Caroline” lol). Unless it’s someone I communicate with on a regular basis, I just let it slide. I have also done this to other people, unfortunately. Either getting the spelling wrong or thought their last name was their first name. And when that happens, I’d just email and apologize. But it happens, especially if one is busy/not really thinking.

  49. Crazy Chicken Lady*

    I had to comment as I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet!
    Alternate view for LW1 – depending on your algorithm for Instagram, there is at least one account where the lady uses positive parenting talk to respond to things like a mean uncle at Thanksgiving or political views. It is SUPER condescending, and very funny as someone who shares her views (left leaning), but it’s not in a work context!

    If LW1 was feeling that the speech was infantilizing, my mind went to that lady, who uses “Okay friend, let’s not do that…” and similar types of phrasing, including the ‘we’ thing. It is very much about the tone and delivery and less so the exact words. If not just LW is being annoyed by this, my take is that the person is leaning towards the gentle-parenting, baby-talk voice. Seems fair to be irritated by it and to say something!

  50. not frigging Maria*

    LW4, I feel your pain. Just briefly saying something should be fine for most people. I have yet to figure out what to do with repeat offenders . . . .

    I wish you good luck and correct naming.

  51. Nelalvai*

    LW 4: I run into this problem a lot too. When it happens I just start my email reply with “it’s Elena, not Elaine. Common mistake :)” and move on. Quick and clear.

  52. plumerai*

    LW3: I used to nap all the time at my old office! We had a reservation system for reserving offices for privacy and phone calls and such. If I needed a nap and nobody was using it, I would reserve it for half an hour. It wasn’t even a wellness room, just a small office.

    I feel no shame about this whatsoever! I am SO much more productive after a 25-minute catnap that I felt wholly justified should anyone have questioned my behavior. Which, for the record, nobody did. But we’re a marketing agency that prides itself on its creative output, so the tolerance for certain behaviors was probably higher at my office than in many others. Still, I would argue that this is absolutely legitimate, regardless of office culture (though I agree it might not be seen that way).

  53. ZSD*

    The advice to #1 to keep pet peeves to yourself is timely for me. This very morning, I drafted an email to my team about a pet peeve. I even started the email, “I fully admit that this is just a pet peeve, but please don’t write…” And I explained what was bugging me about the team’s writing.

    Then I looked at the email I’d written, and I deleted it without sending.

  54. ChurchOrganistamongotherthings*

    LW#4 – I feel your pain! I have always gone by my middle name, but due to system restrictions, my first name appears in my email address. I sign my emails with my middle name, but invariably get replies to my first name. Drives me crazy, but nothing I can really do about it.

  55. Hailrobonia*

    #1: I did have a manager talk to me and my colleagues like we were children. Our office had recently moved and our workspace was terrible – four people cramped into a largish cubicle that was more appropriate for two (there was literally not enough room for someone to stand up and push their chairs back without bumping it into another person).

    When we raised this issue with our manager and asked to have our space rearranged or to allow a couple of us to move to some of the SEVERAL unoccupied cubicles, she launched into a rambling anecdote about her young children having to share a room and compromise on their space. WTAF?

    Oh, and the kicker is she followed up with saying “not everyone is compatible with every workspace or office, and if someone doesn’t feel compatible they might want to find a place that is more suited to their needs.” So basically she was telling four very experienced workers – her ENTIRE team – who had been working there for several years before she arrived to either shut up about the space or find a different job.

    Now that I am more experienced I think we should have, as a group, gone to her boss and say “this is what Cersie told us… this seems unreasonable. Is this indeed the organization’s point of view?”

    1. Observer*

      Now that I am more experienced I think we should have, as a group, gone to her boss and say “this is what Cersie told us… this seems unreasonable. Is this indeed the organization’s point of view?”

      That sounds like it would have been super reasonable.

      What did you guys actually wind up doing?

      1. Hailrobonia*

        We bided our time until she resigned (which I suspect means she was given the option to resign or get fired).

  56. Mr. Osetti*

    #4 I feel your pain. I have a double first name, both parts begin with M. It isn’t, but let’s pretend it’s Marcy May. My last name begins with an R, like Rosetti. My email used to be MROSETTI. I started getting calls for Mr. Osetti. Daily. People would call for the non-existent Mr. Osetti & make the front desk miserable; important callbacks didn’t happen. Then there the charmers who thought they would be dealing with a man, but ended up with me. Even though I was the real Mr. Osetti, they still needed to quiz me on my skills. It was a mess.

    It was so bad, IT was happy to port my old email to my new email MMROSETTI. This solved the problem, most of the time, but I still get people looking for Mr. Osetti every few months.

    I correct them politely & then I just accept they are just not very bright. For me, it’s nice to have the “won’t pay attention to details” people identify themselves so quickly.

    Try not to take it personally. Some people live small lives of all Elaines & no Elenas.

    1. NameRequired*

      Not zackly the same, but my first 2 initials are “MD” so my email is say, “MD.SMITH” I get a lot of unsolicited emails that address me as “Doctor Smith” which I find amusing as it immediately tells me “you do NOT know me and therefore I am under no obligation to respond.” Click, Delete, Done. :)

  57. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #4 – PSA, getting someone’s name wrong is both a sign of disrespect and a diversity issue. It takes little time and effort out of our days to scroll down to the last email to confirm how someone’s name is spelled. It would be the equivalent of consistently calling someone he/him after they’ve said the prefer she/her pronouns. If you err, apologize for messing it up and correct it moving forward. (Signed by someone who has a name that is misspelled consistently by people I’ve worked with for 1, 5, 10 years)

    1. Avery*

      Funny you mention the pronouns comparison, because it’s been on my mind while reading through this comment section.
      I myself AM somebody who says in their signature to use she/they pronouns, but my first name (not actually Avery!) is traditionally masculine, and it’s not uncommon for me to get he/him. In my case, I’m agender and don’t care much about pronouns to begin with, so it’s more amusing than annoying–especially when the person using he/him for me has heard my very high-pitched voice over the phone–and don’t usually bother correcting them. But that’s a me thing, and I can 100% see it being an Issue for someone who’s more sensitive about these things, trans or cis.
      …and my given name is also fairly unusual and I’ve gotten a fair bit of misspellings, mispronunciations, and confusions with other, more common and somewhat similar names over the years. So I’m not just speaking from experience with pronouns here–I get name issues AND pronoun issues, and I do think the two can be similar! This is one reason I use Avery here, and some other places online–it’s easier to get right than my given name is!

  58. Dagmar*

    #1. The problem is home health care itself! It is well-known to have ridiculously short deadlines for documentation. I just left home health because I was tired of seeing patients all day and then charting all evening to get finished by midnight. Anything the supervisor says is going to be annoying!

  59. Grenelda Thurber*

    Any time I hear someone call someone else “friend,” I get a flash of the Star Trek (original series) episode called “Return of the Archons” and all those weirdly creepy people calling the landing party “friends.” I’ve never heard anyone use it in the office, but I know it would give me the willies if I did. YMMV

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Being called “friend” generally doesn’t bother me, but it always makes me think of Emerson, Lake & Palmer:
      “Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends,
      We’re so glad you could attend.
      Come inside!
      Come inside!”
      My friends IRL tell me this is evidence of a misspent youth. I’ll buy that.

  60. Observer*

    #1 – This jumped out at me: “(The main offender of “we”-ing is not a clinician; this may be why this irks me so much.”

    I think it’s worth thinking about whether the condescension is not going the other way. Because you also say that “We are all nurses, rehab therapists, or social workers — educated people with specialized skillsets.”

    It’s odd to me – why would you jump to condescension from someone who is educated with a specialized skill set? Or do you mean that you were using we to refer *only* to other service staff, and management staff are other?

    I’m sure that there may be other explanations that I’m just not thinking of. But I do think that this is worth thinking about.

    1. Hyaline*

      I had a similar thought—that the OP felt it necessary to point out that she and others who feel this way are “trained professionals” suggests perhaps some feel that the office/admin staff are…not? It makes me wonder if there is tension that the “soft language users” are trying to mitigate with “friend” and “we” or…worse…that there is resentment among the “clinicians” that they have to answer to “mere” admin staff. At any rate, not necessarily that the OP is engaging in any kind of intolerance or discrimination against “lesser” jobs but that this language use issues is the tip of the iceberg of some workplace striation and subsequent dysfunction.

    2. MonkeyPrincess*

      “Pink collar” jobs that are commonly held by women, such as the ones listed (and also teachers, librarians, office administrators, etc) are very often treated with condescension. It’s a VERY easy jump to make if you’ve ever worked one of these jobs, because it’s actually the norm.

  61. Lobstermn*

    LW2, serve your own time and get out. This is an example of what AAM refers to when toxic workspaces messing up your understanding of the world and yourself are discussed.

    The company will be fine. The coworker will be as fine as they want to be.

  62. Observer*

    #2 – Understaffed unit.

    I realize that you have good reason to believe that someone giving notice would get pushed out. But do you think that they would not make an exception for you, given that you are moving away (so nothing bad about them) *and* the staffing situation is so dire?

    I realize that the history indicates that there are some self-destructive idiots in the chain of command, but you also say that there have been some apparently positive changes since you started. So, given all that, perhaps you could revisit the idea.

    Having said that, Alison frequently says that companies that treat people who give them long notice poorly do not deserve to get long notice. And as much as you’d like to help your coworker – which is genuinely admirable! – you need to take care of yourself. And if management is as stupid as you think they are, that’s going to mean 2 weeks notice.

    1. Coco*

      I don’t know how feasible this would be, but perhaps LW 2 could “nudge” their coworker to take some vacation time now. Come July, this person won’t be able to take any time off (which is ridiculous). If they take some time off now to recharge, that might be helpful.

  63. Selina Luna*

    I find “friends” as a general term annoying. I acknowledge that this is a personal pet peeve. When I need to refer to my students collectively, I use “everyone,” “students,” or if I’m feeling cheeky, “minions.” I did have to train myself away from using “guys” generically.

  64. Ccbac*

    I’m not sure why, but misspellings of my name don’t bother me at all– my name is rather unusual generally, but does have a much more common spelling that is often a nickname for a longer name. I don’t think people mean anything by misspelling it and I have never once pointed it out and most people correct themselves after an email or two of seeing me sign off. I guess I just go with people are busy/if they only heard my name initially they may not know the spelling? I’m not sure why it doesn’t bother me.

  65. Ccbac*

    upon further reflection, I think it really comes down to (for me), I have had people being extremely rude/disrespectful/mean via email all while spelling my name correctly and have also had people misspell my name but be absolutely lovely otherwise and, to me, I care less about the spelling of my name and more about how I am being treated otherwise.

  66. Hailrobonia*

    On my old team we used to have a “name game” – you get a point every time someone addresses you by the wrong name (typically in an email). You get a bonus point if it was someone we work with in our organization, and another bonus point if it was someone in the same office.

    And even more extra points if the name was entirely wrong. Like Brian being called Francis, even though nobody named Francis was in our office.

  67. Barefoot Librarian*

    LW#1 – I’ve warmed up to “friends” and “friend” a lot more in recent years as a replacement for “ladies and gentlemen,” “ma’am,” and other gendered addresses, but it can be odd when addressing someone you know well, especially someone singular not a room of colleagues. Same with “we” used when talking about a project not involving group effort.

    I do think tone matters when using these terms though. A condescending tone can take those addresses from a linguistic quirk to infantizing. I think if you and colleagues are feeling that way, it might be worth talking with the offender about it. They might not realize how they are coming across. It’s probably not a hill to die on, but if you otherwise get along well with them, a gentle conversation might help.

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      I’m reading through the other responses and just wanted to clarify that I’m generally not using “friends” or “friend” as an address for complete strangers. That is usually something like “colleagues” (in a professional setting) and “y’all” or “folks” in a more casual one where we aren’t, in fact, acquainted. Language is weird, but I’m enjoying hearing everyone’s regional takes on this! For demographic purposes I’m in the southern, east coast US (though not the deep south).

  68. Chillafrix*

    Here’s an alternative to the name correction, which may not work for you. But it has worked very well for me. I have a somewhat unusual name and people call me the wrong name all the time. Not my real name, but let’s say my name is Maura and I get called Mara or Maureen in email a lot.

    I just go with it. I still sign my emails with the correct name, but I don’t correct them. It seems so much easier. Previously when I corrected people, it seems like they just couldn’t get it. They continued to use the wrong name.

    I let my coworkers know that if someone calls for Mara or Maureen to send them to me.

    Sometimes the client realizes they’re wrong (either I meet them in person, or they get copied on an email where someone uses the right name, or they finally read my signature), and they apologize profusely. Many of those people I had corrected at least twice before and they seem to completely have forgotten that. I tell them it’s fine, that a lot of people do it and I don’t mind.

    Because really I don’t, and it makes for better relations with my clients to not be correcting them all the time.

  69. Jodi*

    Someone calling me “ friend” gives me the Icks. It has that old time preacher vibe.” Hello Friend. Have you heard the good news?”

  70. Dawn*

    Several of my non-binary acquaintances use “friend” as a non-gendered way to refer to pretty much anybody. Nothing negative is meant by it.

    I agree that I don’t love it either but it’s nothing worth getting offended by.

  71. AnotherSarah*

    I definitely read the you–>we as infantalizing! I didn’t think the OP meant that someone asked a group, “did we do this,” but rather asked the OP or other individuals “did we do this?” That would infuriate me. I would probably answer, “We didn’t…but I did.” I’d love clarification from OP about whether a person using “we” in this way is addressing a group (would annoy me but whatever) or an individual (infuriating).

  72. Jenisse Lastname*

    When I was in grad school, I was working with a team of international scientists on a large technical project. During our first telecon, they kept asking for Jenisse’s opinion, and no one replied. After the meeting, I realised that they had assumed my nickname (Jenn, which is how how I sign off my emails) was short for Jenisse, rather than Jennifer. Luckily for my social anxiety, the project fizzled before it got started, so I didn’t have an opportunity to correct them. However, I take pleasure in knowing that there is a group of well respected scientists out there who all think they worked with Jenisse Lastname.

    I’m now in an entirely different feild, but I still think of them in occasion, and hope I run into them again one day.

  73. Always Tired*

    I’m sorry OP1, I absolutely use “friend” talking to coworkers. I even sometimes start calls with “hey bestie!” But I also do HR/Admin at a construction company. One of them started with the ‘hey, my friend, I need your help with this 401(k) form” and it has spiraled. “Hey Friend” at the start of a call or conversation says “this is not a bad call! No bad news or discipline!” Whereas a “hey bestie!” is a very good news or I am pleased with them, while “Hey John, you have a sec?” is generally bad news or at least more serious (ie: “we got some not good feedback on the new guy from a different super, how’s he been on your job site?”). Also incredibly useful when field staff stop by to ask a question and I haven’t seen most of them since the Christmas party and I have no idea who the dude in font of me is.

    I can totally see how some people would find it grating, and outside the norm in most places of work. But I also would never, EVER swap a “you” to a “we” when talking to grown adults at work. Because I am not volunteering to pick up the baton, and my office is not a hivemind.

  74. H3llifIknow*

    #3: If the wellness room was primarily/originally intended for nursing mothers, theoretically there should be a lock on the door, yes? If so, nobody should be barging in on you to see you napping. Or perhaps there’s a “IN USE” sign you can flip on the door? (Or make one?) I’d just be sure to set an alarm on your phone or something, so people don’t come looking for you after an hour and 15min! If I take a nap midday, it might be an hour, or I might think it was an hour but it was 4! (Although that only happened when I had COVID ;) so not typical.)

  75. Gandalf the Nude*

    LW4 – I get this sometimes, and I generally lead the email with some variation of “I’m assuming this was intended for me, Gandalf the Nude, and you didn’t mean this to go to a Gandalf the Grey. :)” So far, the only folks who make the same mistake again blame it on autocorrect. And sometimes they actually do mean Gandalf the Grey!

  76. Jim Nance*

    What the heck is wrong with a greeting of “Hello Friends!”?

    (this post is for all of my golfing friends who will get the reference and laugh)

  77. Nat20*

    LW4: I have the same problem. There are a few variations of this name and its relatively gender-neutral, but mine is the variation that’s less common and more usually given to men (I’m a woman), so I constantly get called the wrong name in email or it’s misspelled. For example if my name was Francisco but people usually assume it’s Francis or Francesca. (Not a perfect example but you get the idea.) So irritating cause like, it’s literally in my email address!

    Anyway. If you have an email signature, sometimes simply replying with that will get people to catch their mistake on their own, but not always. If it becomes a pattern then I say something like what Alison suggested, like “Also it’s Francisco, thanks!” Short and sweet, no need to sugarcoat.

  78. hayling*

    I love the idea of bringing in headphones. Just say that you’re meditating. If you “accidentally fall asleep” then oopsies – lots of people fall asleep when they meditate! Great that you know how to take care of yourself.

  79. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My German background has me cringing at the constant use of “friend” as an all-purpose title (they are generally much more circumspect about using that title, and it’s more common to use a word that translates as “someone known to me.”)

    I know it’s a preference that’s personal for people, but I don’t like it. Unless I’ve known someone for years and had them in my home, we aren’t friends. So if LW doesn’t like it, maybe point out it could be confusing or strange depending on various backgrounds?

  80. Oscar the Grouchy Nurse*

    We nurses use the term “we” as all-inclusive language to avoid any accusatory language. We are literally taught that in nursing school.

    Also, I say “Hey friend,” to my patients, nurses, people at the grocery store, my own friends, absolute strangers, people in traffic, and animals. It’s like a more formal use of the word “dude.”

  81. Manglement Survivor*

    LW1, I totally share your pet peeve being addressed as “friend“ and using the word “we” the way you described.
    If someone is not my actual friend, they can call me by my name. If they don’t know my name, they can ask me. It’s like somebody addressing me as “young lady“ which they obviously think is flattering, but I find it condescending as I am not a young lady.
    And I actually really hate it when somebody uses the word “we” when they mean “you”. It sounds incredibly infantilizing. Someone commented that nurses are talked to do that and I think that should change it sounds like you’re talking to toddler and I for one don’t appreciate it at all.

  82. MonkeyPrincess*

    I find “friends” as a plural 2nd or 3rd person pronoun to be annoying, but not as affected for this northerner to say than “y’all,” not as Daffy Duck as “folks,” and not as genderly problematic as “guys” (which is the one I grew up using).

    To clarify on the “y’all” I have, on occasion, been accused of making fun of southerners for using it (I was not making fun, I was trying to move away from “guys”), so while I actually prefer it, I don’t say it to people I don’t know well.

    So, anyway, “Okay, friends, let’s do this” it is. And I do find it vaguely patronizing. Hopefully someone else can come up with something better.

  83. Ilia*

    I get the misspelled name all the time! I am Ilia, named after the Star Trek character. For reasons I can’t fathom, I get called Llia, because a capital I is equal to a lower case l, never mind that the first letter of my name is already capitalized! I am not looking forward to shenanigans in emails when I return to the workforce.

  84. Where are the turtles*

    LW4 – I had a coworker once call me a completely different name (same starting letter) while having to have seen my name about five times in the email. I don’t think you can fix people.

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