I struggled with what to title this post. Truthfully no one has ever called me “bae” since I’m now 25 and officially old.
But it’s not the words I’m called so much as the one I’m not.
A major peeve of mine is the use of pet names. I’m starting to cringe a little less when exchanged amongst couples that I know sincerely love and respect one another and have been married for a literal for-ev-er (or at least 50+ years). I’ve been this way from a very young age. So getting past it probably isn’t in my near future, especially if that future involves kids.
Growing up, I remember being called sweetie, little one, sweetheart, princess… you get the idea. Mostly by my dad, doting loved ones, or church acquaintances. It bothered me, but I usually just eye-rolled or fumed internally.
My brother? He was dubbed Tim, Timmy, little man, big boy, etc. Same diff… NOT.
And the *wonderful* thing is I still get to experience this as an adult. No, not from loved ones–except grandparents, which I can accept as endearing–but from complete strangers. Wonderful, right?
On so many levels, wrong.
Dozens of times I’ve been referred to as sweetie, hun, babe, beautiful, etc. by people with whom I’ve had absolutely ZERO relationship established. None. And if you assumed the “people” I’m referring is primarily male, you’d be correct. The age? We’ll say from the teen years on up over the course of my life. But I’ll tell you, it’s more annoying than anything when they’re in the same decade as you. Once they’re 20+ years your senior, it’s just plain creepy.
And where do I primarily experience this? At work, of all places. And I work in what most would consider to be a highly professional environment–not that it’s something I’d want to deal with on a regular basis regardless of where I found myself employed.
My husband doesn’t even have pet names for me. Nicknames, yes–but he’s never so much as called me “babe” in our home, much less in public. And this doesn’t make him a terrible, unaffectionate husband. Quite the contrary. He expresses his love for me and the things that are a part of who I am in a way that doesn’t make any one quality my identity. That doesn’t objectify me. And you know what? In the years we’ve been together, we’ve never even had to have a conversation about it.
But back to the work–so how should one respond when a stranger calls you an equivalent of bae? Glad you asked, and I’d like to share my own tactic that I’ve put into practice more times than I’d like to count:
- Stand up if you’re sitting down.
- Make eye contact.
- Stretch out your hand for a firm I’m-a-boss handshake as you introduce yourself, saying something along the lines of “I’m not sure we’ve met. My name is…”
- You received an introduction in return? Great. Proceed to Step 5. If not, prod the individual with “I don’t believe I caught your name,” or “And you are?”
- Then acknowledge the person’s name. Depending on the person’s age and assuming it’s a he (as the only other offender is usually a female over 65), you may choose to respond with Mr. Not as a formality, but so as to make the person giving you a creepy pet name feel the age gap. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. (30 years your senior who called you sweetie). (Ad lib something relating to your field of expertise).” And if the person comes across as particularly stubborn, use your name again in closing.
On the phone, awkward silence works wonders. Example:
Him: “Hey, sweetie…”
You: *awkward silence*
You may have to spell it out…. “I don’t answer to sweetie.” Some just don’t get it.
(Repeat if necessary.)
Now this doesn’t work all the time. Every situation is different. Some you may just choose to tolerate. Sometimes you may have to call it out point blank, especially if your in a manager position There will be a few repeat offenders for which you may need to stress that you previously met and reintroduce yourself. But overall I’ve found it to be a very successful tactic in letting people know they’ve crossed a line while maintaining professionalism and furthering respect.
Have any tips to add from your own experience? Comment below.