Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: AylaM on January 08, 2014, 08:33:58 PM

Title: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: AylaM on January 08, 2014, 08:33:58 PM
I have a question regarding interactions with a co worker that I am not sure how to deal with.  I am part of a small team at work.  There are only two women (one other woman and me).  There are about eight men.

I've been a part of the team for almost 4 months and in that time I've been "scolded" three times by the team's head because of this type of interaction with the other woman on the team.  She is very close to the team's head, they've been working together almost as long as I've been alive.   I don't have that relationship with the team lead, so maybe I am just taking things too seriously.

The other woman on the team is a self-proclaimed fashionista. That was one of the first things she told me about herself.  If I come into work in some article of clothing that she hasn't seen or forgot I'd ever worn she'll make a comment about it.  And the comments never seem to be kept to an appropriate time.  She just spits it out as soon as she notices.  I don't mind that she says "Hey, Ayla, I like your shoes, are they new?" when we meet in the break room.  But sometimes it happens when is shouldn't.

For example: today we were about to test a product we'll be using in a demo tomorrow and she came in, saw that we were about to start and then saw that I was wearing something I hadn't worn before.  She said "Hey, Ayla, I like your shoes, are they new?"  I said "Yes, they were a gift" and then wanted to redirect the conversation to something work related.  As I tried to think of something she made some other small comment.  And then we successfully go back on track.  Unfortunately it was too late.  The boss said, very sternly,  "Ladies! Can we focus on this?  And stop talking about shoes, this is important!"

I've never heard him use this tone of voice for anything else.  He seems rather easy going most of the rest of the time.  But, as I've said, I've been caught out on this three times.  I don't even have anything to say in these conversations.  I am generally trying to get back to work related stuff because other than thanking her for her compliments I rarely have anything to say about my clothes.  "Thank you, it was a gift"  and "Thank you, it is one of my favorites" are about the extent of my knowledge on the matter  :) .

The thing is, this woman is the one who warned me when I came on that in our field in this area the workforce can be dominated by WASP men and to be careful about how girly I act.  I'm annoyed that I keep getting scolded in front of the rest of the team whenever she does this at an inopportune time.

Is this something I should ignore/let go?  If not ignoring it, how should I address this? I can't just ignore that she said something, but boss seems to be quicker to scold than I am to redirect.  So I'm not sure what my next step should be.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Ceallach on January 08, 2014, 08:45:27 PM
I think you should completely ignore the clothes related comments from your coworker.  By replying you technically *are* part of the conversation.  Your boss doesn't know that you are planning on shutting it down and redirecting back to work.  It would be nice if he gave you more benefit of the doubt but clearly he is trying to curb this type of conversation altogether.     If you don't want to engage in conversation about your clothes/shoes then don't, the interaction can go something like:

"Oooh I love your dress, did you get it from X store"
"Thanks where is the ABC for XYZ experiment?"     

Say it warmly so you're not too curt, but don't answer the question or address the non work related part, immediately go straight into work talk.  Basically don't say anything that could be seen to encourage that line of conversation at all.  That way your boss won't have anything to be annoyed about.   I can't think of any way to raise it with your boss that won't sound a bit petty to be honest.   I don't think he cares who started it.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: EllenS on January 08, 2014, 08:58:45 PM
Honestly, I think this has been painted as a gender thing because a) there is somewhat of a numbers imbalance, and 2) Senior Woman told you that on your first meeting.  This could  just as easily be about personalities - Senior Woman sounds like she is more prone to "chasing squirrels" than your boss is.  Which is annoying to highly-linear people. I have also seen this dynamic with the opposite genders, and with 2 people of the same gender.

I think this is a "pecking order" thing.  The other woman is annoying him by distracting you, but she is less affected by his comments because she is more senior. Also, in your example, the boss said "Ladies!" Is there some reason you feel that this was directed more at you than at her?

In your place, I would not add anything to the "thank you".  Your comment about being a gift, etc. is really sort of lobbing the conversational "ball" back to her, rather than shutting it down.

Like this:
Her: "Great shoes! Where'd you get them?"
You: "Thanks.  Now, about this item we're demo-ing."

In other words, you can acknowledge the compliment without following her conversational lead.  Or even, if your relationship/interaction with her will permit it, "Later, Jane.  Let's focus on X."  If you have a jokey relationship with her, you could pretend you have a "date" to talk fashion in the breakroom and deflect to that. "Tell you in the breakroom, let's talk about this demo!"

I would not, in your position, try to confront this or bring it up to either Boss or Senior Woman.  Your boss has already given you the feedback (multiple times) that he finds these conversations, however brief, to be unprofessional and inappropriate.  Your job is to modify your behavior accordingly - and let him see that you are taking the direction. Just don't engage the "bait".
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: TootsNYC on January 08, 2014, 09:32:46 PM
First, are you *both* getting scolded?

Try not to take it as directed personally at you if it's not.

Quote
The thing is, this woman is the one who warned me when I came on that in our field in this area the workforce can be dominated by WASP men and to be careful about how girly I act.  I'm annoyed that I keep getting scolded in front of the rest of the team whenever she does this at an inopportune time.

I wonder if she's setting you up. Knowingly or unconsciously.

I agree--just say, "Thanks, [work item here]." Not any other detail (they're a gift, no they're not new).

Or, maybe say, "Thanks, but let's not talk about clothes now--boss would like to get the show on the road."

And if boss says, "Ladies, let's not talk about clothes!" say "Thank you" to him gratefully, as if he just rescued you from an awkward conversation.
Another possible tactic is, when boss says "Ladies,"
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: snappylt on January 08, 2014, 10:53:16 PM
Just like Toots, I wondered when I first read this if maybe you're being set up to look "less serious" or "less businesslike" somehow.  The other woman already has established her reputation with the boss; could she be intentionally making you look less serious?
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: doodlemor on January 08, 2014, 11:05:49 PM
I too think that the other woman is setting you up.  She may subconsciously feel that you are more attractive and will get more attention because of your youth.  I bet that you are "competition" in some part of her mind.

Since this has happened 3 times, I would be tempted to not look at her when she makes the comments, but smile just a bit and say "Not now."  I might say it again once - very tersely, and thereafter ignore the irrelevant comments about clothing.  Saying "Later" would work, also.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: JenJay on January 08, 2014, 11:13:53 PM
I would have a quiet word with the other lady and say "Remember the other day when Boss scolded us for talking about shoes? I realize you were only paying me a quick compliment, but since that was actually the third time he'd got on us for talking about clothes I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't ask me about my wardrobe around any coworkers. Thanks."

If she does it again you can say "I'd rather not discuss that right now. So anyway, about the demo..."
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: bopper on January 09, 2014, 08:26:56 AM
He may or may not have been saying "Ladies!" because he was directing his comments at her and didn't want to particularly call her out.

Another thing you could say to the boss is that "Something happened at the demo the other day that I wanted to talk to you about. Cow-irker out of the blue asked me about my shoes.  I was concentrating on the demo but to be polite I said "Yes, they were a gift" and then was going to redirect the conversation to something work related. However, before I could do that you chimed in.  How should I handle that kind of thing from her in the future?  Just say, "Cowirker, now is not the time?" or acknowledge her and then move on? I am trying to maintain my coworker relationships but I cannot control when she asks me non-work related questions."
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 09, 2014, 09:07:33 AM
OK, I'm curious. Do the men ever talk about non-work related issues? Is there ever "Hey Scott, did you watch the game last night?" or other chit chat?

Is she being scolded because she is bringing up non-work related topics or is it that she is bringing up a topic that the male dominated field doesn't feel is worthy of chitchat?

Either way, in your position, try to see her early in the morning so can get any of her comments out in private and if she does make one in a group setting keep your response short with a simple "Thanks"
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: GreenBird on January 09, 2014, 09:44:55 AM
I'd try catching her alone after a meeting and saying, "Hey, let's keep any fashion talk to the break room - I really prefer to stay on-topic during meetings".  I like this because it's stating your preference rather than blaming boss's preference, and makes it clear that you want to stay on-topic in all meetings, not just ones where Boss is present.  It sounds like in your workplace and field of work, this is going to be a good stance to take regardless of who is present.

During meetings, I'd immediately redirect her.  If she says "Nice shoes!", just say "Later.  Boss was just about to show us the demo/the meeting is about to start/as I was saying" and go right back to the subject of the meeting.  Don't be pulled into responding about the shoes (not even to thank her for the compliment); just make it clear you're totally focused on the meeting.

If she keeps it up, I'd switch to "Let's stay on topic here" and going right back to the subject of the meeting.  Basically you're beating Boss to the punch and redirecting her before he can express annoyance and redirect/scold both of you.

After an in-meeting redirect, you could catch her in the break room later and say, "Hey, thanks for noticing my shoes - but I just really prefer to stay on-topic during meetings.  Let's keep any fashion talk to the break room."  It softens it a little while still stating the boundary. 

Although overall I might keep fashion talk at this workplace to a minimum even in the break room, since it doesn't seem to fit in well with the workplace culture.   
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: MrTango on January 09, 2014, 09:52:21 AM
I agree with PPs who suggest to only say "Thanks" and immediately move on to something relevant to work "Are you ready to begin the test?"
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Margo on January 09, 2014, 10:31:37 AM
I agree with the previous posters  - another possibility (particularly if the incidents have all be her starting a conversation as the first thing she says to you) would be to try to beat her to the punch - so when you walk into the room (or when she does) you immediately start a work related conversation, whether it is simply "Morning all - this test should be interesting, here's the product / I'm particularly interested in how well it does 'x' / whatever product / meeting related comment is appropriate"  That way, you are setting the tone. It also means that if she then responds with a non-work related comment it is more obvious that it is her, not you. A useful response might be a brief pause as if you are surprised (why are you talking about shoes when we're here to discuss Product?) then move on "So, what do you think of Product so far?"

If you think she would listen, then mentioning it to her in private would be fine "Hi Co-Worker - It's kind of you to compliment me on my chores/clothes but I've noticed that even if it is only a very brief comment, Boss sees it as us getting sidetracked from work related stuff, which is a bit embarrassing - could you not comment on my clothes and shoes when we're in meetings?"
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: EllenS on January 09, 2014, 12:04:52 PM
Honestly, I think the fashion/gender stereotype is a complete red herring, and if you go to boss and complain about this or any other similar incident, you are going to brand yourself as even more unprofessional (in a whiny/immature way).  I mean, what you would basically be telling him is that you just don't know HOW to ignore distractions or steer the conversation.

I also think any speculation that Senior Woman is "jealous" or has it in for you, is unproductive and is going to undermine your ability to work constructively with her. It is far more likely that her personality type is not a great fit with Team Leader's, but she has proven that she can do the job in spite of that.  You have not yet proven that same thing, and I don't think it is at all wrong or unfair for Team Leader to be concerned about your ability to stay on task.

Team Leader = Lead the team, which includes running the meeting.  He did that, it's over. Focus on doing it right the next time.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Oh Joy on January 09, 2014, 02:50:47 PM
I would appeal to her status and request her help.  Such as, 'Coworker, I'd like to ask you to help me with something.  You've worked here a long time and have established your credibility.  I'm trying to build mine, and like you said, (whatever she told you about the company).  Would you mind keeping any of the 'girl talk' to when it's just the two of us instead of when the guys are around?'
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 09, 2014, 02:51:45 PM
Although I'm sure it was embarrassing at the time, I didn't necessarily get the vibe from your quotes that the boss was calling you out in particular (vs. the other woman). It could be more like he meant, "Okay, class, settle down, get your books out!" Which is a little scoldy. Does he want you talking only about work stuff, or does he not want anyone talking at all, because he's about to begin his presentation?

I would keep any response to the woman's comments extremely brief. If you're allowed to talk but only about work stuff, I would say, "Thanks! Here's the widget..." or even try to start the work conversation before she begins talking about clothes. You can prepare beforehand what you're going to say to get her back on track--actually I think there's nothing magical about getting back on track, you just say what you were going to say before she got you off track, but preface it with "thanks" or just a smile.

If you're not supposed to talk at all, I would just give her a warm smile, and not open my mouth at all. Also, if you're all just supposed to be sitting there quietly waiting for the boss to start talking, I would turn my chair away from her (towards the boss) and otherwise use my body language to indicate I was focused on the boss, not her. That's what I would do, for example, if someone was trying to talk to me during class. Let the boss see that the only one talking is her, while you are sitting there silently ready to go.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Mikayla on January 09, 2014, 03:27:41 PM
I would have a quiet word with the other lady and say "Remember the other day when Boss scolded us for talking about shoes? I realize you were only paying me a quick compliment, but since that was actually the third time he'd got on us for talking about clothes I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't ask me about my wardrobe around any coworkers. Thanks."

If she does it again you can say "I'd rather not discuss that right now. So anyway, about the demo..."

I like this approach for 2 reasons.  One, it's a direct attempt to solve the problem.  Two, in the event there is some kind of set-up going on, it lets this woman know that OP is paying attention and isn't just going to become a pawn.   

I also noticed that the direct quote OP used about the shoes comment actually contained a question:  "Are they new"?  I've known people who used questions like this to keep someone engaged or force a response.  Besides, what difference does it make if they're new?  Who cares?  She may be phrasing the question purposely so OP can't just say thanks. 

It's tough.  There's a lot of dynamics that OP can't know yet, and this would bother me, too.



Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 09, 2014, 08:36:03 PM
I also like the idea of having a quiet word with the other lady in private. Eg "Thanks for noticing my shoes earlier, but I don't want Boss to think we're getting side-tracked. Perhaps we should keep fashion talk to the break room from now on."

If she still persists in paying you compliments about fashion in meetings, I'd reply with a very brief "thanks". If she asks you a question: "Are those new shoes?" I'd make sure my response was very brief and didn't encourage further conversation. "Yep".

OK, I'm curious. Do the men ever talk about non-work related issues? Is there ever "Hey Scott, did you watch the game last night?" or other chit chat?


I'm curious to know this too!
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: AylaM on January 09, 2014, 08:40:03 PM
OP here, thank you all for the replies.

I had never intended to go to the boss with this.  It seems like whining and finger-pointing if I do.

I am going to make an effort to have some work-related comment ready from now on.  Even if it is a generic one used only for this purpose.  Part of my trouble in redirecting this last time was the fact that I didn't have anything work-related ready to redirect to.   So as I stumbled for a way to turn it back to safe territory, she continued the conversation.

Oddly enough by the time the boss made his comment we had already turned the conversation back to work and asked him a question:

Other lady:  Ayla! I like your shoes are they new?
Ayla: Yes they were a gift.
Other lady:  Well....[insert fashion comment]
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

I'll also work on not engaging by only acknowledge the compliment and ignore the rest (saying thank you, and redirecting immediately).  I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.

There are often other conversations going on,  but they are never shut down in the same manner.  But none of the other topics have such a strong theme to them.  Yes we talked about ships, drones, and elephants.  But they are not likely to come up again in the next month, whereas at some point other lady will mention shoes or clothes.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: esposita on January 09, 2014, 08:46:26 PM
OP here, thank you all for the replies.

I had never intended to go to the boss with this.  It seems like whining and finger-pointing if I do.

I am going to make an effort to have some work-related comment ready from now on.  Even if it is a generic one used only for this purpose.  Part of my trouble in redirecting this last time was the fact that I didn't have anything work-related ready to redirect to.   So as I stumbled for a way to turn it back to safe territory, she continued the conversation.

Oddly enough by the time the boss made his comment we had already turned the conversation back to work and asked him a question:

Other lady:  Ayla! I like your shoes are they new?
Ayla: Yes they were a gift.
Other lady:  Well....[insert fashion comment]
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

I'll also work on not engaging by only acknowledge the compliment and ignore the rest (saying thank you, and redirecting immediately).  I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.

There are often other conversations going on,  but they are never shut down in the same manner.  But none of the other topics have such a strong theme to them.  Yes we talked about ships, drones, and elephants.  But they are not likely to come up again in the next month, whereas at some point other lady will mention shoes or clothes.

I don't know, maybe I'm way off, but that sounds a lot more like a problem with him than with her?  :-\
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 09, 2014, 08:47:07 PM
I have to admit, the boss is starting to sound a little punitive, like he thinks "the ladies with their shoe talk" is some huge problem.

Or, if your co-worker often gets into fashion conversations with other people in the office, especially if she doesn't pick up on social cues as to when to stop, and/or has a voice that carries, maybe the boss is particularly irritated at HER for this continuing behavior, but didn't want to call her specifically out in front of everyone.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Another Sarah on January 10, 2014, 04:30:59 AM
I agree, it sounds like this might be boss's problem.
If you don't have a work comment ready (and it can be hard to just come up with one on the spot), I'd just quietly say "thanks, (indicate meeting) I'll tell you later."

By pointing out it's the time to focus on the boss, you might eventually train her out of these comments but by not directly saying so, you won't put her back up.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: laceandbits on January 10, 2014, 06:24:58 AM
To me you are reading waaaay too much into this and taking it as a criticism of yourself which may never have been intended.

Re-read what you wrote (as this is all I can go on) as the way it reads to me is that your co-worker raised the issue, obviously loudly enough for all to hear.  You then replied with a short, polite but closed reply which honestly didn't invite further comment.   CW tried to extend the conversation and it was this extension which the boss cut short, not your reply.

Just because CW has been there a long time doesn't necessarily mean that boss is pleased when she makes off topic comments just as the session is about to begin, and at the very least the request for concentration was aimed at BOTH of you.  She initiated the OT conversation and was trying to continue it so to me at least at least two thirds of the boss's ire was aimed at her.  If over the many years she has been there she has made a habit of these OT remarks at inappropriate times, the scolding will have been to her, not you.  If previously she was the only female staff member she may have commented on their suits, ties, shirts - who knows?

As others have advised don't get drawn in by her in future, but also keep your dignity and don't JADE to the boss.  As far as I can see,  you have nothing to JADE about.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: TootsNYC on January 10, 2014, 06:59:22 AM
Quote
I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.


That's actually frequently given as advice for *how* to accept a compliment.

And interesting that you were -already- back on topic before Boss got all bothered.

Quote
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

Maybe then, this:
Ayla: You mean about doing xyz with the station? Yes, what have we done?

This points out, pretty subtly, that you were on topic actually.

Good luck!

Has it been a while since there was another woman in that office? Maybe the mention of shoes, or whatever, is new to him?
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Mikayla on January 10, 2014, 12:21:52 PM
OP here, thank you all for the replies.

I had never intended to go to the boss with this.  It seems like whining and finger-pointing if I do.

I am going to make an effort to have some work-related comment ready from now on.  Even if it is a generic one used only for this purpose.  Part of my trouble in redirecting this last time was the fact that I didn't have anything work-related ready to redirect to.   So as I stumbled for a way to turn it back to safe territory, she continued the conversation.

Oddly enough by the time the boss made his comment we had already turned the conversation back to work and asked him a question:

Other lady:  Ayla! I like your shoes are they new?
Ayla: Yes they were a gift.
Other lady:  Well....[insert fashion comment]
Ayla: Do you know what to do with this station?
Other lady:  I have not done it in a while and we were going to change it. BossMan, have we done xyz with this station?
BossMan: Ladies, [blahblahblah]

I'll also work on not engaging by only acknowledge the compliment and ignore the rest (saying thank you, and redirecting immediately).  I picked up the habit of adding a statement at the end of my "thank you" from...somewhere...because I've always bee socially awkward and accepting compliments was never a strong point for me.   So it was habit, but I can see how it would make me more a part of the conversation than I should be.

There are often other conversations going on,  but they are never shut down in the same manner.  But none of the other topics have such a strong theme to them.  Yes we talked about ships, drones, and elephants.  But they are not likely to come up again in the next month, whereas at some point other lady will mention shoes or clothes.

I don't know, maybe I'm way off, but that sounds a lot more like a problem with him than with her?  :-\

If OP is using a direct quote, it could be that he starts off with "Ladies,...".  When he talks to the guys, I seriously doubt he starts off with "Gentlemen,...".  He seems to think he has employees....and then "the ladies".!
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 10, 2014, 12:36:37 PM
You said the boss and your female co-worker have worked together for a long time. And that co-worker is a self proclaimed fashionista. Do you think this is just a recurring joke between the two of them and he's not really concerned about the topic and is just using it as an opportunity to rib her some?
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: tinkytinky on January 10, 2014, 02:07:21 PM
You wouldn't be rude or out of line to just say "Thanks, I'll talk with you about it at break!" with a smile. "It" can be anything, from shoes to hair to clothes to your weekend getaway. If you are working on a project you can add "can you hand the whosey-whatsit?" and just get right back into the work conversation.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: lollylegs on January 10, 2014, 06:41:25 PM
Honestly, I think the fashion/gender stereotype is a complete red herring, and if you go to boss and complain about this or any other similar incident, you are going to brand yourself as even more unprofessional (in a whiny/immature way).  I mean, what you would basically be telling him is that you just don't know HOW to ignore distractions or steer the conversation.

I also think any speculation that Senior Woman is "jealous" or has it in for you, is unproductive and is going to undermine your ability to work constructively with her. It is far more likely that her personality type is not a great fit with Team Leader's, but she has proven that she can do the job in spite of that.  You have not yet proven that same thing, and I don't think it is at all wrong or unfair for Team Leader to be concerned about your ability to stay on task.

Team Leader = Lead the team, which includes running the meeting.  He did that, it's over. Focus on doing it right the next time.

This. All of this. Thank you for putting my vague thoughts into words.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: AylaM on January 10, 2014, 11:46:32 PM
OP here, thanks everyone!

I've thought on it and read the most recent posts and have come to the decision that,  as previously stated,  I will respond politely and redirect without further engagement.  I will also try not to take it personally otherwise, but will try to be sure there is nothing to correct in the future.  This decision stems from a combination of three things:


So I am going to work under the assumption that a combination of "direct boss" and "thin skin" made this seem worse than it was, unless future evidence says otherwise.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: CookieChica on January 11, 2014, 11:08:22 AM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Betelnut on January 11, 2014, 11:53:19 AM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: jaxsue on January 12, 2014, 11:44:25 AM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.

ITA. It also sounds very patronizing to me.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: EllenS on January 12, 2014, 07:43:45 PM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.

ITA. It also sounds very patronizing to me.

I just don't get that.  I think it is unbelievably patronizing to call direct, blunt speech "sexist" or "a problem".  I am far more direct and blunt, especially in work situations, than many men I know.  And I have more than once had to call men's attention away from side conversations to focus on a meeting.

It is also patronizing to assume that a thin skin is a typically female trait, or that women in work situations are always jealous of each other or trying to sabotage each other.

Of all the comments on this thread, I think the boss saying "Ladies" was one of the least sexist things said.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: LifeOnPluto on January 12, 2014, 09:02:27 PM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.

ITA. It also sounds very patronizing to me.

I just don't get that.  I think it is unbelievably patronizing to call direct, blunt speech "sexist" or "a problem".  I am far more direct and blunt, especially in work situations, than many men I know.  And I have more than once had to call men's attention away from side conversations to focus on a meeting.

It is also patronizing to assume that a thin skin is a typically female trait, or that women in work situations are always jealous of each other or trying to sabotage each other.

Of all the comments on this thread, I think the boss saying "Ladies" was one of the least sexist things said.

I agree with the bolded, but I think the issue here is that the Boss is not using direct and blunt speech whenever the male employees chat about other non-work topics. It's only when the females talk about fashion that he objects.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: sammycat on January 12, 2014, 09:22:55 PM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

Glad I wasn't the only one thinking that.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Another Sarah on January 13, 2014, 04:45:33 AM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.

ITA. It also sounds very patronizing to me.

I just don't get that.  I think it is unbelievably patronizing to call direct, blunt speech "sexist" or "a problem".  I am far more direct and blunt, especially in work situations, than many men I know.  And I have more than once had to call men's attention away from side conversations to focus on a meeting.

It is also patronizing to assume that a thin skin is a typically female trait, or that women in work situations are always jealous of each other or trying to sabotage each other.

Of all the comments on this thread, I think the boss saying "Ladies" was one of the least sexist things said.

I agree with the bolded - but "not very sexist" doesn't equal "not sexist" - I said I thought this might be boss's problem because OP's description made it clear this was two shoe related comments and then back to work. Boss waded in unnecessarily to break up a conversation that wasn't inappropriate. That's not being blunt, that's not paying attention to what's actually happening and assuming the girls are gossiping.

Sexist? Not industrial tribunal sexist, but yeah, there's a touch of "women-can't-focus-in-the-workplace" attitude there. OP needs to exercise caution round her boss and make sure he sees her as focussing on work.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 13, 2014, 11:22:57 AM
I immediately thought that the problem was Boss and the update reinforces my opinion. I don't normally jump to sexism but this seems like a pretty good example.

I was going to say the same thing.  Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing.

ITA. It also sounds very patronizing to me.

Well, I hope not everyone feels it is sexist or patronizing. I use "Ladies" frequently when speeking to a group of all women and I'm a woman.

I actually work in a male dominated field for a male dominated industry. In my department we ended up with a high proportion of women in management and director level roles. We like using the greeting "Hello, Ladies" as we have no need to refer to each other as "guys".
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Mikayla on January 13, 2014, 03:43:59 PM
I'm another one who is generally cautious about gender bias claims, but there's a context here that makes it more bothersome.  Heck, you can go back to the OP and the other woman's strange assertion right off the bat that she's a fashionista.  Even that could be feeding into it.  If boss is assuming the OP is another fashionista, and/or he's stereotyping that all ladies dig convos about shoes, and men talk about real things like cars and football, this stuff can add up.  And then "ladies" becomes something else.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: artk2002 on January 15, 2014, 11:48:57 AM
Well, I hope not everyone feels it is sexist or patronizing. I use "Ladies" frequently when speeking to a group of all women and I'm a woman.

I actually work in a male dominated field for a male dominated industry. In my department we ended up with a high proportion of women in management and director level roles. We like using the greeting "Hello, Ladies" as we have no need to refer to each other as "guys".

Nobody is claiming that the word "Ladies" is sexist and patronizing by itself, so you're arguing against a straw man here. As Mikayla and others have pointed out, it's the context that makes the use of the word suspect. It's still not conclusive but it's enough to make one look more deeply. It may be the normal mode, as it is in your office, but it may be something else.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 15, 2014, 01:40:38 PM
Well, I hope not everyone feels it is sexist or patronizing. I use "Ladies" frequently when speeking to a group of all women and I'm a woman.

I actually work in a male dominated field for a male dominated industry. In my department we ended up with a high proportion of women in management and director level roles. We like using the greeting "Hello, Ladies" as we have no need to refer to each other as "guys".

Nobody is claiming that the word "Ladies" is sexist and patronizing by itself, so you're arguing against a straw man here. As Mikayla and others have pointed out, it's the context that makes the use of the word suspect. It's still not conclusive but it's enough to make one look more deeply. It may be the normal mode, as it is in your office, but it may be something else.

I was responding to Betlenut who said:  "Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing."

So I'm not sure why you feel I'm arguing against a strawman.
Title: Re: Getting scolded because of a conversation I'm trying to shut down
Post by: artk2002 on January 15, 2014, 01:44:25 PM
Well, I hope not everyone feels it is sexist or patronizing. I use "Ladies" frequently when speeking to a group of all women and I'm a woman.

I actually work in a male dominated field for a male dominated industry. In my department we ended up with a high proportion of women in management and director level roles. We like using the greeting "Hello, Ladies" as we have no need to refer to each other as "guys".

Nobody is claiming that the word "Ladies" is sexist and patronizing by itself, so you're arguing against a straw man here. As Mikayla and others have pointed out, it's the context that makes the use of the word suspect. It's still not conclusive but it's enough to make one look more deeply. It may be the normal mode, as it is in your office, but it may be something else.

I was responding to Betlenut who said:  "Anytime someone uses the word "Ladies" it is patronizing."

So I'm not sure why you feel I'm arguing against a strawman.

Sorry. I missed Belenut's post.