As women, we’ve always struggled to be taken seriously in a professional environment. But, enough is enough.
We deserve to be respected. So, when someone is making us uncomfortable, we should let them know.
Redditor idealcatlady encountered this very issue with her coworker. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for not making amends with a coworker who freaked out when I told him that calling me ‘little Suzy’ was inappropriate?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“I am a petite woman (this is relevant) and I work in a professional office. I use the long form of my name at work (think Suzanne instead of Suzy) and my shortened name among my friends and family only. I get along well with most of my coworkers.”
“I have one coworker, let’s call him George, who is ‘that guy.'”
“No concept of personal space (pre-covid as well as during covid), interrupts others while they are working on stuff, walks into others’ offices uninvited, etc. We quietly tolerate him in the hopes that he decides to retire in the next few years.”
“George insists on calling me by my shortened name (think Suzy) even though I never use that name at work.”
“None of my other coworkers call me Suzy.”
That is not all George does.
“George also interrupts me for no good reason and gets in my personal space. If I back up, he takes one step forward.”
“He takes it upon himself to walk around behind my workstation so that he looms over me while saying whatever inane thing crosses his mind, all while I’m trying to focus on the task at hand. He interrupts me when I’m giving instructions to staff because he thought it was a social conversation (it was not).”
“These are recurring problems.”
“A while back, George saw me and said ‘hey little Suzy’ in front of some of the staff. After taking his crap for what was literally years, I couldn’t handle it anymore.”
“I told him that it was inappropriate to call me ‘little Suzy,’ full stop. I said he should not use the diminutive to refer to me, and he shouldn’t comment on my size because I can’t help that my body is petite.”
“I told him that he wouldn’t like me to call him ‘big George.'”
George did not take it well.
“George freaked out and yelled that he was ‘only trying to say hello’. I countered that he was NOT ‘just trying to say hello,’ because any normal person could just say ‘hello’ and not insert weird adjectives into the conversation.”
“At that point George stormed off in a huff and threw back one hand as though he was swatting away a fly.”
“It has been months since this incident and whenever I see George in passing, he refuses to speak to me or make eye contact. If he sees me he will quickly avert his eyes to the ground.”
“To be honest, this has brought me some peace after YEARS of weird comments and invasion of personal space that I endured.”
“I think that the apology should come from him, but I don’t think that will happen. I think that George believes that I’m the a**hole for attacking him for ‘just saying hello’ to me, and that I’m an unreasonable bitch.”
OP doesn’t know if she should try to smooth things over.
“However, I’m not the type of person who likes ongoing interpersonal conflict especially when it’s over something so stupid. I am wondering if I should reach out to him and address what happened so that we can move forward without the ongoing wordless avoidance.”
“It really does feel awkward.”
“So, am I the a**hole for telling him off about saying ‘hello little Suzy’ and then not taking any steps to make amends with him?”
“Should I have waited until the moment had passed and then spoken to him in private about how his choice of words affected me? Is it even possible to address this now that it’s months later and we haven’t been speaking?”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA You finally got him to be quiet around you. Keep that. Keep that and treasure it.” ~ sixscreamingbirds
“Agreed. Assuming he doesn’t hold grudges and making amends is possible, would OP really want things to go back to how they were? He seems awkward enough to not adjust his behavior after everything is said and done IMO.” ~ Frostitute_85
“OP, your one comment is truly the gift that keeps on giving. He’s not talking to you? Not undermining you in public? Not looming? Bliss.”
“In the (very unlikely) event that this escalates, ‘it wasn’t a work issue and it was clear that he didn’t want to talk to me. I was respecting his boundaries.’ Cue butter-wouldn’t-melt smile.” ~ Doctor-Liz
Most Redditors were not surprised George freaked out.
“George freaked out? Of course he did, after reading everything you described of him.”
“NTA It is absolutely right to demand to be referred to in a respectful manner in the workplace. You are not there for pleasure, you are there because you are being paid to work; to instruct other workers and so on.”
“He keeps you from working, creeps on you and belittles you. Make sure to tell HR what happened, paper trail is very important for anyone in the workplace.” ~ Mesapholis
“Yes, she could take this to HR.”
“Actually, ‘little Suzy’ is an implication that he is calling her a slut. There was a song years ago, ‘Wake Up Little Suzy’ by the Everly Brothers, about the morning after a one night stand.” ~ fredzout
OP added some edits.
“Wow thank you everyone for your comments. I have read them all but can’t respond to each individually.”
“I wanted to clarify that it was primarily the ‘little’ adjective that I found totally unacceptable and infuriating, whereas the ‘Suzy’ part was just an ongoing low-level annoyance.”
“Initially I didn’t think I was the a**hole in this situation, but when his avoidance of me went on for many months it really started to bother me and I got to wondering if I was part of the problem here.”
“I will take your advice, attempt to drop the people-pleasing guilt, and move on knowing that I’m not the a**hole and he can stew about it until he retires – my field of f*cks is barren. Thank you all.”
“Also Suzanne/Suzy [isn’t my name, but] was the first formal name/nickname combo that I could think of that still got my point across. I didn’t even remember that was a song! Sorry for the earworm folks.”
You deserve to be respected by all your coworkers. If they choose to cross the line, you’re not at fault for calling it out.