Awesome Etiquette: Innocent But Inappropriate

Sep 22, 2017

We all appreciate a compliment on our appearance from time to time. But should it happen each and every day in the workplace? And from the boss?

A 20-something female reached out for advice about handling a situation with her 50-something female manager. Turns out the younger woman and many of her co-workers are greeted each day with a compliment from the boss on their appearance or how they're dressed. Although these kind words are intended to be just that, these subordinates find it exhausting and disingenuous to return the compliment day in and day out.

It's definitely a tough spot to be in. Someone is trying to be complimentary while the other person feels uncomfortable. On top of that, the situation is being caused by a superior at work. Typically, there's a base-line idea in a professional atmosphere that, no matter what your gender, you leave looks out of the conversation.

Our best advice is to approach the HR department rather than correcting the manager's behavior yourself. Ask that they offer a reminder about commenting on the appearance of employees. This will help keep everyone on the road of fostering a more positive work environment.

To get a little deeper in the weeds of the topic, listen to this podcast of Awesome Etiquette.