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Irritated Miss Manners: Strangers, stop calling me ‘dear’!

LifestyleIrritated Miss Manners: Strangers, stop calling me ‘dear’!
The act of being addressed as “dear” or “sweetie” by strangers can be a rather contentious issue. It’s a scenario that has left many individuals perplexed, frustrated, and even disgruntled. The pervasive use of such terms, particularly in certain geographical areas, has sparked a considerable amount of discomfort and annoyance.

Struggles of a Business Traveler

One such individual, who is a frequent business traveler, raised his concerns about this matter. He voiced his exasperation at being consistently addressed with endearing terms by women in certain regions. Despite his repeated requests for them to desist, the cultural norms of these areas persist, leaving him feeling powerless and resentful. Furthermore, his predicament is exacerbated by the fact that he had been reprimanded at work for addressing a female co-worker in a similar manner, highlighting the perplexing dichotomy of the situation.

The Power of Language

Language is a potent tool that encompasses nuances and subtleties, often imbued with diverse cultural and personal connotations. The significance of endearing terms is not lost on this individual, as he expressed a lament for not being addressed as “dear” by his beloved wife. In his eyes, the use of such endearments should be reserved for personal relationships, and the absence of it from his wife serves as a poignant reminder of its value.

The Impact on Professional Life

The enduring use of endearing terms has prompted this individual to take decisive action in his professional life. His exasperation has reached a point where he no longer wishes to partake in business engagements within these “dear/sweetie” territories, leading to a tangible impact on his career. Despite being an exemplary employee, the detrimental effect of this linguistic discrepancy cannot be overlooked.
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Miss Manners' Perspective

Miss Manners, the authority on social etiquette, offered her insightful perspective on this matter. She urged the individual to consider the intentions behind the use of endearments, highlighting that it is unlikely to harbor any predatory motives or intent. However, she acknowledged the inherent discomfort and patronizing nature associated with such language in impersonal contexts, thus validating the individual’s sentiments.

The Complexity of Linguistic Gestures

The debate surrounding the use of endearing terms intertwines with the broader discourse on interpersonal communication and social norms. While they may be perceived as innocent expressions of warmth, they can also evoke feelings of unease and condescension, especially when devoid of a personal rapport. Hence, the individual’s aversion towards being addressed in this manner is underpinned by a desire for authentic and sincere interactions.

Navigating Challenging Social Situations

In juxtaposition to the aforementioned scenario, another inquiry surfaced regarding the appropriate course of action when encountering a friend who underwent significant facial surgery and weight loss due to cancer. This delicate situation requires a tactful and considerate approach, with Miss Manners emphasizing the importance of expressing genuine delight at reuniting with the friend, without delving into the specifics of their physical transformation.


In essence, the usage of endearing terms within social and professional spheres is rife with complexities, emotions, and differing interpretations. The individual’s aversion towards being addressed in such a manner is rooted in a longing for authentic and respectful communication. Miss Manners’ guidance elucidates the need for empathy, understanding, and tact when navigating the intricacies of social interactions, reaffirming the significance of genuine and considerate exchanges.
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