I was 32 years-old and just promoted as a new manager in a training facility. A woman who lost out on the promotion who was three years older began passing my office, sweetly greeting me each day with, “Good morning, kiddo.”
In my mid-thirties I reconnected with an old highschool friend on Facebook who was my age, if not a few months younger. We enjoyed a long phone call and when the call ended, she said, “Thanks for calling, dear.”
I was 37 years-old working with a new manager who was one year older than me. I got a sense he was aware of my potential, and saw the respect a lot of staff had for me over him. When I left work each night, he started to say, “Have a good night, kid.”
I was 40 years-old out for dinner with my senior-citizen parents who came in to town. The 20-something waitress dropped off our drinks, showing my dad attention, “There you go, my love.” My mom and I gave each other a look as if to say, “Oh please,” but we were also given the same strange treatment, “Need anything else, dear?”
All of these ways of addressing me tell a different story of how the other person wanted me to perceive them, what their position was over me or against me, and I hope that more people understand the damage that occurs from this sort of disrespect. Because yes, it’s disrespectful.
Using a term of endearment is a privilege, often reserved for someone who is a generation removed from the person they are addressing and only in a personal environment. In the case of opposite-sex attention, if used carefully and it is welcoming, it can be used by either sex regardless of age gap.
Can’t remember the person’s name? Ask for it again. Don’t know the person’s name, but have the need to call them something? Ask them what they preferred to be called. In the case of a restaurant worker who just simply goes on auto-pilot with what she thinks is cute and will generate tips – I would say pick your clientele carefully. A married old guy sitting with his wife and a daughter old enough to be the waitress’s mother should probably take it off auto-pilot and learn some respect.
Whether it’s intentional or not, referring to employees or employers with terms of endearment is just dreadful. It tells a manager that you don’t fully accept their place, or tells an employee that they aren’t in their league. No amount of justification is needed. It’s just terrible.
To this day, I find it warming to hear someone 20+ years older than me calling me these names on a personal level. But in any professional environment, whether I’m at work or doing business with someone, I’ll cut the person off at the knees, letting them know I prefer not to be called anything other than my name. In ALL situations if someone is my age, younger, or even up to 10-20 years older, it’s never okay, even in personal situations.
I’m positive that a lot more respect and a favourable reaction will come anyone’s way to know how to address someone in various situations, and to be interchangeable with their terms of endearment by being aware of their surroundings and who they’re talking to.