I saw a video of Rihanna. In it, she was posing for the paparazzi and one of them must have called her baby or something similar. She looked at him with undisguised contempt and responded “don’t call me baby” or words to that effect. Watching this led to a long and I must say a most satisfying rant with a friend. I am haunted. Darling, sweetheart, sweety, sweets, every form of affections and confectionaries has been ascribed to me. Ordinarily this would make me a person happy. Who does not wish to be referred to in such affectionate terms? Why then do I take umbrage to being referred to affectionately in certain circumstances?
I consider it a slight against my person when people I interact with do not call me by my given name. If you are a close friend or family and you refer to me affectionately, I love it. An acquaintance, colleague, or client in a formal or semi formal situation I absolutely detest affectionate epithets from. This bothered me a lot, especially at work. I am trying to maintain a veneer of professionalism. However, I cannot take over the world, or control a portion of it if half its populace refer to me as darling and see me as a member of the teletubbies. In light of my frustration, I decided to carry out a mini social experiment as to how often this happens to me, if I was exaggerating, and if there was something I did unconsciously to facilitate this. For a while I thought maybe I did not dress professionally enough, or I unconsciously gave off a vibe that was immature because I was subject to this more so than my male colleague.
In the past weeks before writing this feature, I took to observing people who had affectionate monikers for me both at work and outside work. I discounted absolute strangers with whom I had no interaction whatsoever as a mere “sorry darling” whilst a person walks past me in a crowd is not enough to cause a mental breakdown. Subsequently, I was left with the people I interacted with mostly at work, and other social events. A friend has told me that this is “not a big deal” and has informed me that my anger might be slightly displaced. He might be right; however, I like what I like, and detest what I detest. You should note that this observation relates to me, and might not resonate with you. Read on nonetheless, it is interesting I promise.
At work, I noticed that more women than men refer to me affectionately. They almost took if for granted when they extended a cursory “thank you for your help darling” my way. This made sense to a certain extent. Women are more affectionate than men? N’cest pas? My EUREKA moment. I was not the architect of my own discomfort. I was not satisfied still. My male colleague escaped almost unscathed in this regard. If my action or inaction did not foster this, and my professionalism was intact why did these women not refer to us in the same manner? At this point, I decided that I had had enough of social experimentation. Philosophising had not gotten me result therefore I needed a strategy. I came up with my version of Pavlov’s classical conditioning to cope at work. Whenever a client resorted to confectionary names, I calmly pause in the middle of the conversation, smile, look pointedly at them and refer to them by their name. For example (Temi talks: ramble, ramble, ramble ramble; Client says: no sweetheart, I do not think that is a good idea. Temi pauses, smiles, says: Ms/Mr/Mrs (insert name) pauses a few seconds more just to be dramatic then continues conversation) This technique is relatively new in my arsenal against puppy names in the work place and I cannot ascertain its success. It might be that my boss might be sending me a memo in a few weeks. I just cannot say, although I feel better for it already.
Outside of the work place, the result was factual and expected. More men than women referred to me affectionately. The majority of them were patronising, flirty, and then sexist in that order. I wish I could draw up a graph, however I have always been a terrible maths students, and mathematical computation is beyond me. This was merely for my personal use. So I cannot be statistically correct.
In all this, I gained an insight that allowed me peace of mind regarding this issue. I have decided firmly (note the use of the adjective here) that people who go around bandying affectionate terms are the laziest types of people at social interaction. You think I lie? Ask them if they remember your name. That is if they give you the opportunity to introduce yourself to them in the first instance. I might have a harsh stance against them but this is due to my bias. Mea maxima culpa. I also think that I am more sensitive to this because I am a woman and I think I have to try harder in my profession. I arrived at this conclusion because it did not bother my male friends when I asked how they reacted to these affectionate names at work. They simply did not care.
Are you guilty of this? If you are, comment below. I truly wish to hear your side of the story. If you dislike affectionate names at work and formal settings, please rant, rave and share your experiences also. Writing this has been therapeutic for me. Gods forbid I deny you that pleasure too.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Paffy1969