Advice Needed For Dealing With a Coworker

Every so often, my company hires temporary help to work in production. They seem to have people they draw on fairly regularly. One of these people is a woman who looks to be in her 50s. She’s the one I need help with.

You see, I work in IT and don’t get back to production that often, although I know and like our regular people who work there. This woman, however, I don’t know. I don’t even know her name. It used to be that every time she saw me, she’d ask me my name. I didn’t mind the first couple of times, but after 5 or 6 times, it got old. She’s stopped doing that. Now she’s started saying “Hello Sweetie” or “Hello Sweetheart”. Now, please understand. I’m a little bit shy in places and a bit standoffish. I’m not always at ease with strangers. I’m also from a family which doesn’t use endearments. The gentleman I’m crazy about doesn’t call me “Sweetie” and, if he did, I’d be worried about him. I’m sure she’s trying to be friendly, but it rankles a bit, especially since she used to constantly ask my name. I don’t want to be called “Sweetie” by anyone, especially a relative stranger. To be honest, I find her a bit off-putting, in part because her greeting to a male coworker of mine is so affectionate I was starting to think she must be related to him (she isn’t).

Any advice on how to handle this? I’d like to let her know that a simple “Hello” or “Hi there!” will be enough and that I don’t care for being called “Sweetie”, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Yes, I realize I may be sounding a bit hypersensitive. It also really isn’t that big a deal, but I thought I might see some interesting opinions.

I also fully expect that at least half of the first dozen posts will involve someone calling me “Sweetheart”, “Snugglebuns” or worse, so I am prepared for it! :wink:


Well, it seems pretty obvious that she’s really shitty at remembering names and relies on endearments to cover the lapse. Personally, I’d just let it go. I wouldn’t want to embarrass someone who’s probably just trying to be friendly.

Personally, I think you should just smile at the lady and otherwise ignore her. She’s a temp with a memory problem; is it really worth the aggravation? Telling her to not call you Sweetie is only going to make her feel bad (and make you look bad).

You could try learning her name. Then the next time she says “Hi Sweetie” you could go to her and say " C’mon, LaVerne, why don’t you just call me CJ?" That way, you don’t seem unsociable. Just a thought.

I want your life that a stranger calling you “sweetheart” somehow is enough to cause you distress.

I tend to agree with the others on this one. I happen to be the type that uses terms of endearment (though not with people I’m not at least chummy with). It may not be your M.O., but she’s not hurting anyone, so I’d let it roll off.

I suppose you could counter with a nickname for her, but my guess is that she’d probably read it as a signal that you want to be closer to her.

If it bothers you, quietly and politely take her aside and let her know. “I’d prefer it if you don’t call me ‘sweetheart.’ It makes me uncomfortable. Just call me Siege.”

I’m from the school of thought that if someone calls me a familial or endearing term, they better well be close enough to me personally to actually mean it. I detest empty terms of endearment, particularly when the person doing so can’t be bothered to actually remember my name.

Your opinion, sugardoll, may differ.

Just putting in my $0.02 to second this brilliant suggestion.

I used to feel the same way about such terms of endearments (especially when coming from creepy old men).

Then I moved to Bristol, England, where these endearments are as common as dirt, and was pleased and relieved to see creepy old men calling OTHER creepy old men “luv.”

I now realize that it’s a much more minor term of endearment to some than to others. Your co-worker’s use of “sweetie” may correspond with my own use of “man” (as in “Thanks for those getting those revisions to me so quickly, man” or “Hey, dude, can you pass the salt?”). It just comes out. She may not even notice she’s doing it.

You’re right to let her know it makes you uncomfortable. You should realize, though, that her interpretation of “sweetie” is probably not the same as yours, and if she still doesn’t get it after you ask her repeatedly, she’s not doing it on purpose, she just can’t break a habit. Don’t press it.

Another vote for ignore it.

My vote is for wearing a name-tag when she’s on site. Come to think of it, I would seriously appreciate it if everyone wore name-tags when I’m temping. I can’t remember 20 new names.

We have a group photo of all the attorneys in the office that is name-labeled for any temps or new employees that come through. They seem to find that far more convenient and less intimidating than having to repeatedly ask, and I think that makes perfect sense.

As somebody who lives in the land of “honey, sugar, darlin’, sweetheart, dear” my first thought was, what’s the deal. However, siege I realize that that is not what you are used to and can understand how it could be irksome. I like DeVena’s suggestion. It seems like a way you can make this win/win for the both of you.

Of all the irritants in life or the workplace, this is pretty trivial. Let it go, especially since she’s just a temp. It’s not like she’s acting hostile or unfriendly.

Wait a minute–you’re in the Pittsburgh area, aren’t you? How do you avoid getting called “dear” all the time, then?

I got into that habit while living and working in Pittsburgh. Everybody seemed to call everybody “dear,” whether they liked you or not. It was a very hard habit to break when I moved away.

I like DeVena’s suggestion.

For Christ’s sake, just deal with it. I can’t remember hearing about a more minor workplace complaint in my entire life.


Well, sweetie, since you prepared for it… :wink:

The world is nasty enough these days. Someone is being nice to you- appreciate it for what it is (common politeness, 'Burgh style) and give back some of your own. Like others have said, it’s not like she’s annoying you by the hour.

You never know- she might bring in something from Primanti’s for everyone.

DeVena is on the money.

And you might find just a wee drop of compassion in your heart. The poor gal’s probably desperate to be accepted (liked?), etc. Blah, blah blah. You’re smarter and more secure than she is, so be nice, Siege.

I’m going to go against the herd here and say, Just tell her. “Don’t call me sweetheart, I have a name, you know.” Maybe because I’m a New Yorker but whenever sweet little names are used in my workplace it’s condescending. Our building super calls me “doll” and it drives me batty because I know he doesn’t take anything I say seriously.

But if you can deal with it, sure.

You know, this is the kind of thing I find most interesting–and admittedly, most frustrating–about this board. I know that people are different, yadda yadda yadda, but finding out that people object to others being nice??? It just never would have occured to me that anyone could possibly mind something like some nice, forgetful woman calling them “sweetie.” Yet here you are, in the flesh, as it were.

It reminds me of the “how dare you compliment me” thread from a year or more ago. People who don’t like sincere compliments from someone who is not selling them something or coming on to them??? Huh?

Honestly, I just can’t imagine where you are coming from. How on earth does it hurt you to be called sweetie? To me, being nice to others makes me happy, and I like it when people are nice to me. Does that not work in the same way for you?