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  1. Laura

     /  May 24, 2015

    Guilty as charged. Though I confess I probably tell boys they look handsome too often as well. I think I do this as a way to engage, to open a conversation. But you are right about the damaging cumulative effect. With every passing month, I am discovering the power of the question as a replacement for the easy statement. I love your suggestion to turn to questions when you want to say something positive and engaging. “What have you been doing today?” “Can you recommend a book I should read?” “What’s your favorite thing about your family?” All of these questions will open the conversation and lead to a much richer discussion. Thanks, Jennifer!

  2. Ken D

     /  September 1, 2017

    I very much appreciated this post. l was expecting an apology from a neighbor whose large dog jumped my fence and pinned my 15 year old small dog on the deck. Instead he blamed my son and called me “goofy” I still don’t understand his mindset but it sounds less like he is not the only one.

  3. Charlotte Hamilton

     /  April 8, 2018

    Jennifer: enjoyed this article! Thought provoking and as you as note, current as 50 years ago. I had a similar exchange in my high school years with some family friends having said, ‘I hope you women are doing well!’ To which one of them said, ‘Well, I hope we all are ladies!’ I walked away confused yet ‘Got it,’ what she was trying to say.
    Being from the Midwest – though having lived lots of places – I use ‘guys’ a lot for my ‘people’ expression. Will read with interest your other offerings! Respectfully, Charlotte

  4. Balaus

     /  August 19, 2018

    Tales of a male academic in the humanities. When I dated a colleague (at another institution) who was an assertive feminist, she dumped me because my tenure prospects were thin. When I went online, my sense of humor got me nowhere. On the contrary, the false profile I put (and took out after 30 min.) of a retired CEO in his seventies, widowed, living on the Upper West Side and owning his house in the Hamptons got immediate and unsolicited responses. Recently, I got two marriage proposals, both from women in poor health who needed someone to take care of them. Those who cannot dig gold, end up digging pennies. I recommend chastity, if you can take it.

    • That is a disheartening tale, but sadly it rings true. I hope you don’t give up on all women, but I feel your pain. I’m especially sad that your sense of humor got you nowhere. Gee!

  5. Normally I do not learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up
    very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me.

    Thank you, very great post.

  6. Ren D.

     /  December 9, 2018

    I would argue that the Houston Rockets employee negated his apology by throwing in the words “for some” in the sentence, “I did my best to make the account the best in the NBA by pushing the envelope, but pushed too far for some and for that I apologize.” By adding those words he reduced the emphasis of his error as the reason for apologizing and instead placed it on the ‘for some’ who were offended. Furthermore, the fact that he continues to use the ‘fake gun, fake horse’ on his Twitter account suggests he still finds humor in it and an overall lackadaisical attitude of regret. Personally I would try to bury and move on from any offense I committed once amends have been made. I understand he may be using it as a visible reminder of a bad decision, but there are better and private ways to do that.
    So an apology of his kind may suffice for the business world but I still see it as a “sorry that you were offended” type. Let’s face it: apologies from corporate entities will never be of a truly repentant nature. They are offered out of authoritarian obligation in order to save face.

    • Hi Ren, you make several good points. The “for some” did weaken the apology. Retaining the “fake gun, fake horse” also sends a mixed message about his sincerity. In retrospect, especially with our increased sensitivity about gun violence, it doesn’t seem very funny or thoughtful.

  7. Gianina Richards

     /  December 9, 2018

    I’m being bullied for nearly 3 years of my employment in a senior affordable housing as the social service coordinator by the Admin of our building. It started with her including residents in her witch hunt against the maintenance manager and now against me. She creates a mod by having residents who are weak and have to side with her because they are threatened of their housing being lost. She misuses her Authority to control people and to make them feel bad. I have now taken a month off on leave cuz it made me so sick and I’m been approved another month without pay.

    I love my job and I want to go back and was hoping that things would get better when I return. Living in a small town I ran into a resident who has shared with me that the admin called her into the office asked her if I was gossiping about her and she said no. The resident is in fear of speaking with me anymore when I returned because administrator has made things bad for her already after seeking services for me.

    I’ve had other residents approached me before I left but the same concerns about Tremont towards them from the admin very similar to mine. Worried about the effects on the residence I kept it to myself so the admin would not retaliate against them. Now she’s retaliating against me and I’m not even there. How do I stop this! I’ve invested 3 years and I’m 57 and this is wrong to be treated and talked down to and told that no one’s going to love me, accusing me of things I didn’t say, having her family members who live in the community file reports against me that are not true and making the residents feel that they need to side with her in order to keep their housing. She must be something I can do! Help I’m sick over this. He seems not deserve to be treated this way nor do I.

    • Hi Gianina, I am very sorry to hear about your situation. This is indeed a classic bully story where someone is abusing their power. You could consider going to someone else at the organization although I’m sure you have thought of that. I don’t know what state you are in, but sometimes there are state or federal employment agencies that can intervene. Good luck to you, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things get better. Maybe that terrible person will decide to leave and torture someone else, or better yet, retire!

  8. Anonymous

     /  May 18, 2020

    I recently was forced out of a job that I loved. I worked there for four years when one day we was hauled into HR and told that several of my coworkers had described me as rude and aggressive. To this day I have no idea who said these things, how many said it, or even what exactly they were talking about. I was given no benefit of the doubt. The hr manager had made up her mind and soon I was seemingly being reported every other week. I finally quit after they threatened to fire me.

    • Hi A, really sorry to hear about this. It sounds as though it was more of a witchhunt than a real investigation into conflict at work (if there even was a conflict and not just someone out to get you). Now they have lost a motivated employee and have left you with a lot of questions. It’s the kind of story that gives HR a bad name. I hope you are able to recognize that they handled this poorly and that your departure is their loss. Maybe this provides an opportunity for you to find an employer who appreciates you. Good luck.

  9. Sue

     /  June 19, 2020

    The lack of a sincere apology, especially soon after the offense, can destroy even the longest and strongest friendships. The most erroneous phrase ever coined is: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Love Story, movie)

    • Anonymous

       /  December 6, 2020

      This is true.

      I’ve had people in my community call me out on the carpet for whatever (as a city volunteer) in front of everyone else, then everyone else got mad at me and when I showed definitive PROOF I wasn’t wrong but THEY certainly were, I never, ever got a single apology. From anyone, for any of the wrong slap-downs and wrong accusations. They just brushed it off and kept going forward. I worked as a volunteer roughly 60-80 hours a month for these people and often as the only person who ever showed up for anything for 10 years with no pay. Well, I finally quit two of the three positions I held for many years because I was getting burnt out. They became mad at me because other city administration volunteers (who just came to meetings once or twice a month, that’s it) would have to take up my duties and I’m the only person who knows how to do about 80% of what needs to be done, but damn, what was I to do? Their reaction was to take the last position from me, the one I did as my passion (I’m a recently retired Firefighter/Paramedic after Neely 40 years in the field) and I did a lot of work (I built their fire department up from scratch as there is nothing else for 40 minutes in any direction). I brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, resources, training (I’m an instructor), people, etc., injured myself a bunch helping them and the community and I really got off on helping create the city’s successes that I had a little part to play in. I had hoped to retire from public service with a tiny celebration with my team but council was all pissy. As a result many of the team quit (most of whom routinely travelled in for hours to help us out on shifts and other great stuff) as they said they were here because of me (which really touched my heart, as these are my friends and professionals from other departments helping out rural volunteers). Every single time I’ve been improperly called out on the carpet I’ve never gotten any apology for and my reputation struggled because of it. I apologize for my mistakes and I really try to learn from them. However, I’m sick and tired of being everyone’s whipping boy when they’re frustrated out of some self-perceived slight on my part. I get it that when you’re the boss of anything you wear a target on your back but I was just blown away by the sheer arrogance and ignorance of people. Screw them. I will never volunteer to help with anything ever again. I’ve learned if I do something really well, I shouldn’t be doing it for free. Too much give and inch, they take a mile and when they trip you along the way, they act like it never happened. These are toxic types of people and I’m so glad I no longer have to deal with them.

      • Wow, I am really sorry to hear this story. I have sometimes wondered if volunteers are treated particularly badly — there’s a saying in the small rural town where I live part of the year that “no good deed goes unpunished” — and sometimes it seems sadly true. I have found however that there often are people who appreciate what leaders do, even if they are not as vocal as the toxic types. It is very moving that your team appreciated you, and surely that matters most…

  10. Chad Bryan

     /  June 6, 2023

    I am a 47 year old white male who started a new sales job with a female manager 45. and 2 female coworkers in sales 30 and 34. This is the first time in my career I have ever been treated as the enemy by any female. Both of the younger females are offended by everything I say. I have noticed that they choose to be on the opposite side of every subject that comes up. In contrast the manager an I are in complete agreement on everything. The two coworkers think I am judgmental and racist and can not see the irony In their judgment of me. Btw I’m also a gay man and I have been high sales for 5 months in a row. They have tried everything they can to have me fired even complaining to HR. Nothing has been seen as grounds for even discipline but at what point will their actions be seen as harassment?

    • Hi Chad, I am very sorry to hear about your experience. It is sad to hear that the current atmosphere as led to open season on white males, particularly by confused young women. Your comment about “not seeing the irony” is spot on. It sounds as though logic and reasonableness have won out (so far), and I hope it stays that way. I can only advise you to keep to the high road and hope for better days, but that’s easy for me to say. With regards to your question, I think it will be a cold day in hell before legal protections are offered for white males, but I hope that your manager will begin coaching the younger women about respectful and courteous treatment of all co-workers. It is up to her to maintain an environment conducive to collaborative teamwork. Good luck and fingers crossed that this phase will pass quickly.

  11. eli

     /  July 16, 2023

    I myself have been in a situation with just me being the only male worker and the other 4 workers in the office being female workers with the manager being female ;

    things were initially evasive with them at first with them avoiding me in the breakroom and keeping conversation to a very minimum except one of the ladies who was 46 I am 38 but the other 3 were all in their 20’s ; the 46 yr old had the best social conversational skills while the other 3 it was very hard to connect with them on anything , I consider myself ok at making and holding conversation.
    So fast foward 7 months on the job I believe the manager did warm up to me after she found out I had a GF the whole time and we would talk about gaming (my manager has big into gaming ) and so was I and she liked horror movies which I did as well so over time I won her over and we had a good relationship at work she was 28 the other two were 22 and 24 but I could never relate much to them and our relationship stayed mostly the same even when they found out I was dating someone ; I never tried to flirt with any of them and tried to talk about weather, how the weekend went, things at work , life and other topics but I could only really level with two of the four co workers; I am a Mexican male with light skin if that helps

    • Hi, thank you for relaying your experience. I’m glad you were able to establish a relationship with two of the four—does that count as batting .500? I’m only slightly joking because I think right now there is so much suspicion of male colleagues that, like baseball, .500 might be a pretty good average. I’m disappointed that the two younger colleagues were unfriendly. It’s such a shame, but sadly, as I say, there are a lot of preconceived notions and suspicions directed at men in the workplace. I hope that changes over time. Thank you for trying. That’s about all you can do in that situation.

  12. Anonymous

     /  August 10, 2023

    As a woman I would like to point out that over time woman have succeeded in establishing themselves in the workplace. In some fields they outnumber men. Which means that the number of women is equal or greater in the workplace. So woman harassing men has increased substantially yet it’s not perceived yet as a problem because men are unsure of when women are taking advantage of them. Women are more manipulative by nature and more needy for attention so over-chatting and wanting to share feelings and receive comfort from other male colleagues is acceptable but to men it’s sensory overload. It’s not seen as direct harassment but it’s happening inadvertently. Men generally are expected to be courteous and polite even when a woman is overstepping his boundaries. She might have a spouse that is too busy to communicate with her so she wants to look for chatting with unsuspecting men. They oblige once or twice and then it becomes a habit until he starts ignoring her but then gets accused of being rude to her.
    So woman can use men for emotional support and comfort, make him feel uncomfortable while she’s doing it and getaway with it. He does not think of himself as being abused and could might think that it’s all above board but it is a form of emotional harassment that should not be tolerated in the workplace.

  13. Dave

     /  December 5, 2023

    I have a problem with a few of the assistant nurses in work and don’t really know how to solve it.

    I serve food at a hospital: I don’t prepare it or stock the food trolleys, just take the food trolleys to the wards and serve. Most of the wards I work on are a pleasure, but sometimes I have nursing assistants interfering. One even rudely grabbed the serving utensils to show me how to do it. She served everyone too big portions so that there was no food left for the last three. Others complain that a patient doesn’t like the food he has ordered and wants to change it for something else (often difficult as each patient is an individual order). They want to change the order of service etc. Now this might be ok if there was plenty of time, but sometimes I have to dish-out, carry and serve 25 meals to 25 patients at their beds fast enough that it is all still hot. I tell the NAs that I will serve everyone the food that they have ordered and if anything is left over, they can make use of what remains to sort out their changes (otherwise some might not get what they have ordered), but some of them just won’t leave me alone even raising their voices such that other staff and patients can hear – insisting that whatever it is they want, takes priority over everything and everyone else. It also sometimes invokes the wrath of a male nursing assistant who takes it upon himself to take up her cause on her behalf and I have to deal with him too.

    My supervisors support me (as did the other nursing assistants last time) and tell me just to continue as I am and have even offered me extra hours. However, all this is causing me a lot of stress and does no good for my blood pressure: I am a 62 year old male.

    I am in charge of food service, not them, but they don’t seem to want to recognize this. How can I establish boundaries, bearing in mind that I have to be EXTREMELY careful not to upset one of them or it might become an issue? It would be all about how I made her feel and about how she perceived the tone of my voice, not about what I said.

    I let that nursing assistant take my utensils and serve because she looked really stressed out and was afraid that I would upset her if I said anything. I am sure I could “win” if it became an issue, but I don’t want to go through a months-long “investigation” and all the meetings it would involve as this would cause me even more stress.

    Any advice greatly appreciated – thank you in advance.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment though I am sorry to hear about the rude nursing assistants. I sympathize with your frustration about not being to speak up because of the consequences, upsetting them, how you made them feel, even winning. Like you, I suspect this is a very tricky situation that could turn out badly for you, especially in the current climate.
      So, knowing that, you have some choices. The good news is that your supervisors support you. So you could ask them to sort this out for you and clarify who IS in charge of food service and what is the role of the nursing assistants regarding food service. That actually might be helpful for everyone, including the nursing assistants. Perhaps it would result in some guidelines, such as, “NAs should not serve food or handle food trays or utensils.” The nursing assistants appear to think they are responsible for the patients getting their food choices which sets up an inherent conflict with your responsibilities. I do think many times conflict at work is the result of garbled roles and responsibilities. That’s one option.
      If the supervisors do nothing (which sadly they often do when it comes to workplace conflict), my next suggestion is harder, but with your intelligence and age, I bet you could pull it off. Rather than confronting the NA, you could try being a little more oblique and subtle, perhaps using some humor, by holding the utensils out of their reach and smiling, or putting yourself in front of the cart in a mock pose of “defending” your trays. I don’t know if those would work for you, but perhaps it gives you some ideas about how to remain calm, still be a team player, but clarify what your job is to those who are trying to interfere with it. Perhaps you could help them all lighten up a little bit, instead of treating food service as a stage for drama.
      Good luck. I sincerely hope that you can sort this out. Work should not be so stressful.

      • Anonymous

         /  December 28, 2023

        Thank you for replying Jeff. You have made some useful suggestions. I will bring the matter of roles up with my supervisor.

  14. Sherry

     /  December 17, 2023

    One thing that annoys me is when male superiors at work always hug me when we get to office parties. I understand and appreciate the genuine intent of being friendly and welcoming, but I really don’t like hugging males who are not my family or my boyfriend. Yet, it always happens so fast: they’ve already hugged me even before I open my mouth to say no.

    I once read something, saying something that we, as females, can initiate handshakes with males so they know to handshake back. I tried it, but I’ve realized that many males would simply ignore my hand and still come up to hug me, including men that I just met for the first time that day. Just super annoying.

    • Hi Sherry,
      Thank you for mentioning this because you are not alone! Especially in California, we seem to assume that we can throw our arms around a work colleague with little preamble. I think it’s especially inappropriate for a higher-ranking colleague——male or female. If you’re a hugger, my suggestion would be to just ask, “Is it okay if I give you a hug?” It’s fast, easy, and polite. If you’re the recipient of that request, and you *don’t* want to be hugged, you can just say with a smile, “Oh, how about we don’t and say we did,” and follow that up with a warm handshake so show it’s not that you don’t like the person, you just don’t like to be hugged.
      I like your suggestion of trying to get your hand out there first, but, as you say, sometimes people crash on in. I’ve had that happen to me in California which they sometimes follow up with, “I’m a hugger.” It’s tempting to say, “Well, I am NOT,” LOL, but that would probably result in some awkwardness. Like you, I usually just let myself be hugged (sigh), but sometimes I turn sideways so it turns into more of a shoulder squeeze. Sometimes you can step back and then take an outstretched hand in your opposite hand, so that there’s an arm between your two bodies if they do keep coming in (hope that makes sense), or they pause and it turns into a handshake. Another strategy is to always have something in your hand so that, at worst, you will only suffer through a one-armed hug. You can always accompany this with an enthusiastic handshake and a kind comment like, “It’s really nice to see you,” so they know that it’s not personal. Also, nothing wrong with being forthright and saying, “I’m not much of a hugger.”
      Some of us could use a bit of a reminder that this hugging business is not for everyone. I once encountered someone I liked a lot, after I hadn’t seen him for a while and was so delighted to see him that I did jump up and hug him. I’ll never forget the look that crossed his face which carried the definite message that he had not wanted to be hugged by me. I’ll never forget it, and I’ve never hugged him again. Some people are oblivious, but some of us do get the message. Keep at it. We’re learning.

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