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if anything? - colleague uses "patronising" language

(21 Posts)
lisbey Tue 13-Oct-09 21:22:46

I have worked in a very male dominated industry for 20+ years.

I can honestly say I have never felt discriminated against for being a woman and that the men I have worked with have respected my abilities and generally treated me as one of the lads. I have never asked for/expected any special treatment and am happy to join in with the banter & mild flirting. (It's how I've survived 20 years imo)

My current job involves acting as a consultant for about 45 managers based in 5 different offices, so I have met a number of new people recently (only 2 women). Everyone has been great/friendly/professional and appreciative of my help.

There is one man who is always very welcoming and grateful for help etc. He is very East End/West Essex, only more so. All cor blimey and sweetheart. I was supposed to go an a meeting with him today, but it was cancelled at the last minute (not by him). He left a very apologetic message on my phone and also emailed me "meeting cancelled, sorry babe". I don't think I've ever been called "babe" before in my life.

So do I laugh/let it go, or "av a word"?

alarkaspree Tue 13-Oct-09 21:27:07

Let it go. I think you would come across as very uptight if you pulled him up one instance of calling you 'babe'.

Do you think he fancies you, maybe?

ZZZenAgain Tue 13-Oct-09 21:28:26

I don't know really. How would you go about it if you did bring it up?

FromGirders Tue 13-Oct-09 21:28:38

Given that he's very grateful for help, and apologetic on the phone, I'd prob let it go, as it's probably just the way he talks, and is being friendly. Next time I saw him, I might make a hmm face and ask "babe?" sarkily.
(In a previous life I also worked in a male industry, but I did get properly patronised, regularly). If it really pees you off, and he keeps on doing it, you could have a word once he'd done it a couple of times - if you let it go too long, you'll just look snotty about "changing your mind" iyswim.

RubysReturn Tue 13-Oct-09 21:29:24

I think I'd reply to the email

thanks babe

and see if he noticed

WartoScreamo Tue 13-Oct-09 21:30:16

I had a supplier call me "babe" on the phone recently. I was quite taken aback. Still he'll be in for a shock when he meets me! grin

CMOTdibbler Tue 13-Oct-09 21:30:46

If that is really his normal way of speaking, then I'd leave it.

catinthehat2 Tue 13-Oct-09 21:33:56

1)Don't make any comment in writing.
2)Check out the situation next time you are face to face. Are all females babe/all males guv? If so, probably fine
3)If you think there is more to it - ie a put down, overfamiliar etc, then raise it with him and explain the situation.
4) If you don't like it anyway, raise it with him and explain the situation
5) If he is OK, he will say sorry, won't do it again
6) If he is an arse, he will get on high horse at which point start sharpening your axe.

ZZZenAgain Tue 13-Oct-09 21:35:19

I find babe worse than sweetheart. No idea why. Sweetheart wouldn't bother me but babe would. I know it isn't logical.

Perhaps you need to call him an old fart?

crokky Tue 13-Oct-09 21:37:31

I'd let it go

The burglar alarm engineer rang off yesterday with "Bye, love you!" grin I imagine he was cringing afterwards...

ZZZenAgain Tue 13-Oct-09 21:43:51


TigerBitesAgain Tue 13-Oct-09 21:47:52

I'd let it go - but I'd call him "babe", "darlin", "sweetiechops" or something until he stops or it becomes a tired old joke. It's very irritating but not worth getting on the old soap box. I have a colleague (who thank god I don't have to speak to more than once a year) who started his last convo with me (in the spring) with:" hello, darling, what did the Easter bunny bring you then?".

Me: "a complete twat for a colleague". (Wish I had said it).

JustAnotherManicMummy Tue 13-Oct-09 21:51:52

You should reply "No problem poppet-kins"

And then say no more about it. I wouldn't have a special conversation about it.

lisbey Tue 13-Oct-09 21:53:55

LOL alarkaspree. He doesn't fancy me, is approximately 15 years younger than me (probably why babe seems so inappropriate) and absolutely smitten with a very glamorous wife who is about to have their first baby - I get shown the latest scan picture every time I go smile Lovely bloke, hugely enthusiastic about everything and I could just ask him to stop without it becoming a big issue. Not sure it would work though, think it's just habit.

It was seeing it written down that made it so shocking TBH, although I can see others who have worked with me for longer taking a sharp intake of breath when he directs such terms at me grin

Georgimama Tue 13-Oct-09 21:57:39

I would usually jump on something like that. But on Friday, for the first time in my professional life, I came over all girly in order to achieve a necessary result. And it worked.

Client giving me a hard time (am doing conveyancing seat in training contract - not going well, I am a born litigator) so I phoned up someone in a London council office and flirted with them pathetically in order to get a search turned around in record time (hello, I'm Georgimama of X solicitors, what's your name? Simon. Hello Simon. Can you help me? I have a client being very mean to me. Yes, I know, poor me. I'm just a trainee and I've been launched into conveyancing and I'm not very good at it. You're sure I am? That's very sweet of you Simon" etc etc etc).

So from now on I am going to flutter eyelids shamelessly.

BoffinMum Tue 13-Oct-09 22:01:04

Call him 'big boy' back. Or do a Pammie and stand there saying 'Don't ... call me babe!'

catinthehat2 Tue 13-Oct-09 22:21:47

It sounds absolutley fin efrom your description as he sounds like a big softie who might be mortified/upset if you said anything tough to him. Let it go!

bran Tue 13-Oct-09 22:31:59

He's not really being patronising, or at least I doubt that he means to be, it's just his turn of phrase. Having said that I did once as a colleague to stop calling me "mate". What I told him was that it just sounded odd to me. What I obviously meant was that he was not, and never would be, my mate. I didn't think he was being patronising though, it's just what he called everyone.

At the same company this guy and two others were standing around a computer trying to connect it to another one. I walked up behind them and told them that they should make sure the other computer had the folder they needed marked as "shared", and offered to show them how. They looked, silently, and turned back to what they were doing. Five minutes later a male colleague walked past and said exactly the same thing, they asked him for advice on how to do it. hmm I have a bit of an Irish temper and HIT THE ROOF. Now that was patronising.

bran Tue 13-Oct-09 22:35:01

Actually, if he's a lot younger then you could give him some gentle advice about using "babe" in the work environment. Pitch it as though you don't mind but some of the "older" generation might be a bit miffed about its use in a professional environment. Then he might just stop altogether.

ib Tue 13-Oct-09 22:50:21

I would probably let it go.

Having said that, when a colleague once called me 'love' I teased him remorselessly for ages afterwards. I don't think he'd even noticed he'd said it until I laughed and said 'did you just call me love?'. And then proceeded to tell everyone else about it.

He was very embarassed. But he deserved it, he would never let one of my slips pass without giving me a hard time about it (we worked fantastically together, and are still friends). I wouldn't do it if it wasn't a colleague I was quite close to though.

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