Advice Column: Colleagues who use inappropriate language

an amygdala
2 min readAug 6, 2023
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

A few older men at my company refer to me as “sweetheart”, especially in their greetings. I really don’t like it. Am I overthinking things here?

— Woman in tech

Let me start with this: I don’t feel comfortable when any acquaintance or colleague calls me either “sweetheart” or anything within the family of overly intimate terms. No, no, no. Respect is shown through understanding communication boundaries.

I am also not interested in feeling manipulated into maintaining a pleasant, sweetheart-like disposition. Having to perform femininity is exhausting.

All of this is to say- you are not alone.

Now, what can you do?

Well, first let yourself have the reaction you’re having. If you don’t like something, instead of forcing yourself to like it, allow yourself to dislike it.

Women have been gaslit into thinking that we are overreacting about all the ways the patriarchy infringes on our rights and boundaries.

To protect yourself in the workplace, document cases of inappropriate language directed at you. You are also well within your right to tell every person who calls you “sweetheart” to not refer to you like that every single time they do it. This is where documentation protects you from retaliation.

in tech with yourself



an amygdala

You Are Your Own, a curated collection of my feminist poems is available on Amazon & Free via Kindle Select: