Author Topic: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing  (Read 14680 times)

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Diane AKA Traska

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2012, 05:49:12 PM »
Living in the SF Bay Area, I puzzled over what to refer to those in same-sex relationships.  I finally settled on "spouse" for committed couples or "other half" when I wasn't quite sure of their commitment status.

Significant Other is what I use for M.
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SiotehCat

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2012, 05:58:16 PM »
Do people usually not refer to spouses by their names?

I know that when I am at work, if I am talking about my Dh, I use his name. When they ask me about him, they also use his name.

When I ask a coworker how her husbands doing, I ask "Did Mark ever get over that cold?".

Is this not common?

Sharnita

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2012, 05:59:40 PM »
Do people usually not refer to spouses by their names?

I know that when I am at work, if I am talking about my Dh, I use his name. When they ask me about him, they also use his name.

When I ask a coworker how her husbands doing, I ask "Did Mark ever get over that cold?".

Is this not common?

I think so, unless people blank on the name.

cheyne

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2012, 10:08:07 PM »
Your co-workers will take their cue from you.  If you want to use "partner" "wife" or "[her] name" then refer to your DP the way you would like others to refer to her.


"Friend? Sorry, I have a lot of friends..."  ???
"Your, ah, special friend."
"Oh, you mean my partner/spouse/consort/helpmate? She's doing better, thank you for asking."

Seriously though, NyaChan's suggestion is what I would do if I were in the situation, and what I've heard from others.

Actually, I would do the above.

Coworker: "How's your friend?"
You, friendly, polite but puzzled smile: "Oh, which one?"
Coworker: "You know, Whateverhername is?"
You, big smile and friendly tone of voice: "Oh, my wife! Haha, sorry, wasn't sure who you meant. Whateverhernameis is doing great, thanks! How's your husband?"

Do it with genuine friendliness and I think your point will get across without it being harsh. I would use the term wife, even if it's not the personal term you two would use, just because it's easy, but fill in whatever makes you most comfortable.


I would be embarrassed and a bit angry at this PA way of addressing this issue if I were on the receiving end.  There are many people in this country that don't know anyone who has a same s3x spouse.  No one at OP's work wants to offend her, they just don't know what to call the OP's DP. 

OP, if you feel you need to address this head-on it's perfectly OK to ask your co-workers to refer to DP as "Name" or "wife".   

buvezdevin

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2012, 11:08:29 PM »
Rebecca, I don't have a ready comfortable for all/every situation suggestion, but send empathy and don't have to send it far as I am also in Georgia.

Not that it will alleviate your concern, but I share the dilemma of terminology for different reasons.  My boyfriend and I have been partnered and lived together for years - and are understood by all near to us as very much a committed couple though not legally husband and wife.  Still, I cringe at terming him "boyfriend" as well, age inappropriate, and lacking actual level of appropriate significance  - but I don't want to refer to him in a professional setting (or otherwise) as my "husband" as he isn't legally.

I don't personally mind the term "partner" but have found it can be problematic, so - I'm posting for support, and without meaning any threadjack - also interested in suggestions.

Total aside: couple of years back, the subject of terms came up at "breakfast" hour at B&B we we staying at.  Several women of my age (late 40s early 50s) were intrigued.  One pretty quickly said, in a very friendly tone "you should just call him your red hot lover.". Since then among some friends, though not professional setting, RHL is th go to acronym.  While not appropriate for all audiences, it is wonderfully age and gender non-specific.
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kareng57

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2012, 11:26:23 PM »
Your co-workers will take their cue from you.  If you want to use "partner" "wife" or "[her] name" then refer to your DP the way you would like others to refer to her.


"Friend? Sorry, I have a lot of friends..."  ???
"Your, ah, special friend."
"Oh, you mean my partner/spouse/consort/helpmate? She's doing better, thank you for asking."

Seriously though, NyaChan's suggestion is what I would do if I were in the situation, and what I've heard from others.

Actually, I would do the above.

Coworker: "How's your friend?"
You, friendly, polite but puzzled smile: "Oh, which one?"
Coworker: "You know, Whateverhername is?"
You, big smile and friendly tone of voice: "Oh, my wife! Haha, sorry, wasn't sure who you meant. Whateverhernameis is doing great, thanks! How's your husband?"

Do it with genuine friendliness and I think your point will get across without it being harsh. I would use the term wife, even if it's not the personal term you two would use, just because it's easy, but fill in whatever makes you most comfortable.


I would be embarrassed and a bit angry at this PA way of addressing this issue if I were on the receiving end.  There are many people in this country that don't know anyone who has a same s3x spouse.  No one at OP's work wants to offend her, they just don't know what to call the OP's DP. 

OP, if you feel you need to address this head-on it's perfectly OK to ask your co-workers to refer to DP as "Name" or "wife".


I agree - this PA tactic is only going to guarantee that people who already feel a bit awkward about the situation are going to feel a lot more awkward about ever referring to it again.

First-names are great - occasionally I was never sure which co-workers were married or longterm co-habitating, and it was none of my business anyway.  Knowing the first names of the partners made everything a lot simpler.

greencat

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2012, 12:06:30 AM »
First, you need to decide what you want to call your partner - wife, life partner, significant other, etc.
It sounds like your entire office are repeat offenders.
Give the asker a puzzled frown (to convey disapproval) and say "Do you mean my (wife, life partner, significant other, etc.)?"  When they confirm that they mean your partner, give them an update, thank them for inquiring, smile, and say "Please refer to (her name) as my (wife, life partner, significant other, etc.) - she's not just my friend."  Frowning as a reaction to their behavior and smiling when you model the proper behavior will help set the message in their heads.

Twik

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2012, 01:40:28 AM »

Total aside: couple of years back, the subject of terms came up at "breakfast" hour at B&B we we staying at.  Several women of my age (late 40s early 50s) were intrigued.  One pretty quickly said, in a very friendly tone "you should just call him your red hot lover.". Since then among some friends, though not professional setting, RHL is th go to acronym.  While not appropriate for all audiences, it is wonderfully age and gender non-specific.

It always wonderfully focuses people's imagination on your sex life. Other than a joke, I can't see how this is better than "partner". Unless, of course, you wish to inform people of how hot your scrabble activities are.
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O'Dell

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2012, 08:57:12 AM »
First, you need to decide what you want to call your partner - wife, life partner, significant other, etc.
It sounds like your entire office are repeat offenders.
Give the asker a puzzled frown (to convey disapproval) and say "Do you mean my (wife, life partner, significant other, etc.)?"  When they confirm that they mean your partner, give them an update, thank them for inquiring, smile, and say "Please refer to (her name) as my (wife, life partner, significant other, etc.) - she's not just my friend."  Frowning as a reaction to their behavior and smiling when you model the proper behavior will help set the message in their heads.

I don't understand why there is this attitude in this thread that the coworkers are repeat offenders and being rude (not just you, greencat, your quote is simply convenient). If you, Rebecca, were correcting them all along and they refused to use the term you've asked for, then absolutely they would be rude and need a more aggressive form of correction.

But since you seem to feel that correcting anyone is impolite (it's not by the way), then I imagine a scenario where people weren't sure and instead of asking they guessed and tried friend and you went along with friend like it was okay and that led them to think "Okay, Rebecca prefers friend. Noted. I'll use that." IMO they should have asked, but a lot of people are afraid to ask and will try to take a shortcut by guessing. I got that with my husband before we married and living together for years...so many options what did we want to be called. Mix in the controversy over gay marriage in the US and where/if it's legal and we all have quite a conundrum over what terms to use.

I like NyaChan's wording. Just start using the term you prefer when referring to DP (my vote is for "lover"!). If coworkers don't pick that up after a few corrections, assume that it's just going over their head and be explicit "I refer to DP as my spouse. She's not just my friend."

After that, you'll need to be more assertive and ask them and let them know they are offending you. I'm betting it won't come to that if they are caring enough to ask after DP, then surely they care enough to use the term that you teach them to use.

(And sending out get well and healing vibes to DP!)
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greencat

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2012, 10:28:41 AM »
First, you need to decide what you want to call your partner - wife, life partner, significant other, etc.
It sounds like your entire office are repeat offenders.
Give the asker a puzzled frown (to convey disapproval) and say "Do you mean my (wife, life partner, significant other, etc.)?"  When they confirm that they mean your partner, give them an update, thank them for inquiring, smile, and say "Please refer to (her name) as my (wife, life partner, significant other, etc.) - she's not just my friend."  Frowning as a reaction to their behavior and smiling when you model the proper behavior will help set the message in their heads.

I don't understand why there is this attitude in this thread that the coworkers are repeat offenders and being rude (not just you, greencat, your quote is simply convenient). If you, Rebecca, were correcting them all along and they refused to use the term you've asked for, then absolutely they would be rude and need a more aggressive form of correction.

(Snipped)

I meant that I got the impression from the OP that they always refer to her DP that way - not that they were intentionally doing it to be offensive/rude.

buvezdevin

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2012, 10:39:01 AM »

Total aside: couple of years back, the subject of terms came up at "breakfast" hour at B&B we we staying at.  Several women of my age (late 40s early 50s) were intrigued.  One pretty quickly said, in a very friendly tone "you should just call him your red hot lover.". Since then among some friends, though not professional setting, RHL is th go to acronym.  While not appropriate for all audiences, it is wonderfully age and gender non-specific.

It always wonderfully focuses people's imagination on your sex life. Other than a joke, I can't see how this is better than "partner". Unless, of course, you wish to inform people of how hot your scrabble activities are.

Well, the reason I mentioned it as a "total aside" was that neither the woman who suggested it, nor myself in retelling her suggestion meant it to be put to any practical use as a term to refer to anyone's partner - but I have two friends who have also not found their own well-fitting term to use when referring to their significant others.  Amongst ourselves, we do use "RHL" or - in a nod to an old recurring skit on Saturday Night Live, the word "lover" spoken in an overly dramatic tone.  As jokes.
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Oh Joy

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2012, 11:07:57 AM »
The problem that keeps coming up is that nearly everyone asks me "So how's your 'friend' doing?"

She's not my "friend", she's my spouse! I know getting them to use the term we prefer is totally impossible (I call her my husbutch, she calls me her wife), but would correcting them to "partner" or "spouse" be ok? Should I just keep saying "<DP's name> is doing well, thanks for asking!" I know it's a minor point, and I should be grateful they haven't gotten out the torches and holy water after me or anything, but still.... it bugs me.

Suggestions?

I suggest (mentally) completely removing the GLBT element.  When chatting with a co-worker, use the title or name you'd prefer they use when talking about this person (my stepson, my wife, my roommate, Frank, Sally, Chris, dumpling, peaches, the love of my life*) and leave it at that.

I'm not implying that some people may not be adding different levels due to uncertainty or discomfort, but I think this is a good starting point...addressing issues with specific coworkers in the future can be done on a case-by-case basis once the 'norm' is established.

Best wishes.

* I mean this is a general request to folks to not 'train' me to think a nickname is the name I should use when talking about or to this person.  Tell me I'm not the only one who has had this problem!   ;)

SleepyKitty

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2012, 11:32:17 AM »
Your co-workers will take their cue from you.  If you want to use "partner" "wife" or "[her] name" then refer to your DP the way you would like others to refer to her.


"Friend? Sorry, I have a lot of friends..."  ???
"Your, ah, special friend."
"Oh, you mean my partner/spouse/consort/helpmate? She's doing better, thank you for asking."

Seriously though, NyaChan's suggestion is what I would do if I were in the situation, and what I've heard from others.

Actually, I would do the above.

Coworker: "How's your friend?"
You, friendly, polite but puzzled smile: "Oh, which one?"
Coworker: "You know, Whateverhername is?"
You, big smile and friendly tone of voice: "Oh, my wife! Haha, sorry, wasn't sure who you meant. Whateverhernameis is doing great, thanks! How's your husband?"

Do it with genuine friendliness and I think your point will get across without it being harsh. I would use the term wife, even if it's not the personal term you two would use, just because it's easy, but fill in whatever makes you most comfortable.


I would be embarrassed and a bit angry at this PA way of addressing this issue if I were on the receiving end.  There are many people in this country that don't know anyone who has a same s3x spouse.  No one at OP's work wants to offend her, they just don't know what to call the OP's DP. 

OP, if you feel you need to address this head-on it's perfectly OK to ask your co-workers to refer to DP as "Name" or "wife".


I agree - this PA tactic is only going to guarantee that people who already feel a bit awkward about the situation are going to feel a lot more awkward about ever referring to it again.

First-names are great - occasionally I was never sure which co-workers were married or longterm co-habitating, and it was none of my business anyway.  Knowing the first names of the partners made everything a lot simpler.

I get what you mean - this tactic certainly could come across as PA or snarky, but I think that if your tone of voice is genuinely friendly, it will get the point across in a gentle but still obvious way.

I guess that way I see it is that, even if people don't know what term to use for a same-sex relationship, using the term "friend" to refer to someone's spouse is somewhat insulting. I don't think there is any reason to believe OP's co-workers are deliberately being insulting! But, if I were in the OP's position, any term would be better than a term that diminishes the relationship in the way 'friend' does. And I feel like even if the co-workers don't know what term to use, they ought to have enough tact to either ask the OP or use a term that doesn't reduce the very special bond between spouses to 'friend'.

That's why I like this tactic - because it's a way of suggesting that 'friend' is an inappropriate term and it gets across why it's inappropriate (I have lots of friends, but only one spouse) without a direct confrontation. Again, I do totally see how it could come across as PA, but I think it's all in the delivery/tone of voice.

O'Dell

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2012, 11:40:26 AM »
^^ Rebecca asked "how to gently correct" her coworkers. The imaginary conversation isn't gentle correction in my opinion. Especially when it seems that she's implied that she's okay with the term by accepting it up until now. I can only imagine it coming off as over-the-top PA and snarky when she pretends not to understand something that she understood several times before.

Coworker: "How's your friend?"
You, friendly, polite but puzzled smile: "Oh, which one?"
Coworker: "You know, Whateverhername is?"
You, big smile and friendly tone of voice: "Oh, my wife! Haha, sorry, wasn't sure who you meant. Whateverhernameis is doing great, thanks! How's your husband?"
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

cheyne

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Re: How to gently correct - GLBT phrasing
« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2012, 08:41:43 PM »
Back in the distant past, when gas was .50 a gallon, there were people had same s3x partners.  These people were referred to as "friends" or even "roommates".  If the age of Rebecca's coworkers is over 45 or so, they may have learned to refer to same s3x partners as "friend". 

It's OK for Rebecca to correct her coworkers by asking them to refer to her partner by "Name" or "wife" or "partner".  It is not OK to try and embarrass them by pulling a PA conversation on them.