On a daily basis, our office colleagues sometimes give us nicknames – or do it ourselves. Nevertheless, this practice at work should absolutely be avoided. Dang-Minh Tran, co-founder and head of operations at Projet Adelphité – which helps companies become more inclusive – denounced this attitude in a LinkedIn post published in December 2022, according to Marie Clairehighlighting this very common and yet oh so uncomfortable practice.
Nickname colleagues: a common practice
As we can see by browsing the web, and in particular the Reddit site, this practice is rather common in companies. One userwho is a computer developer, nicknamed “computing god” Where ” god “, sought to find out what other nicknames are given. Suffice to say that they are quite rarely flattering. Another user claims to be called ” the black Cat “, because breakdowns often occur in its presence. A woman said to be called ” the little “simply because of its size. Other nicknames are even offensive…
🙄 “My beauty”, “the chatterbox”, “the young one”… Are you also at work, are you entitled to these awkward nicknames? https://t.co/Bv5i1LnqSV
— Marie Claire (@marieclaire_fr) January 18, 2023
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In his post, Dang-Minh Tran makes the same observation, calling them “microaggressions”. “Nicknames like ‘my little’, ‘my beauty’, ‘the Asian’, ‘the black’, ‘the little buffoons'”she lists. “No, it’s not affectionate. It’s not cute. It’s awkward and unprofessional.”says the co-founder of Project Adelphité.
Why should we absolutely stop with nicknames at work?
For her, there are several reasons to stop nicknaming our colleagues. “It’s paternalistic and childish. We call white men by their first name, why not women and minority people? Everyone deserves to be considered and respected” , she writes first. For Mélissa Pangny, work psychologist, these qualifiers to define our colleagues are “rarely rewarding”.
So of course, sometimes the affinities between colleagues make us all more permissive with certain people. “In general, for the diminutives you have the agreement of the person, often it is even she who prefers this denomination”explains the occupational psychologist, before specifying that the nickname is often given to us “for no real reason” and “It’s still a problem”.
” Being reduced to a feature of our physique is reductive. No one wants to be the Asian on duty or the Black on the team.”, adds Dang-Minh Tran in his post. This is also valid for people who do not fit into the physical norms of society, those who have a disability… Moreover, it is often women who are given a nickname, which can also have a sexist connotation. even sexual.
A form of bullying
Unfortunately, many workers suffer from these nicknames that they did not choose, from one or more colleagues. Sometimes they even have the feeling of losing credibility, even self-confidence. Even worse, this habit can go so far as to become moral harassment. He “is manifested by repeated acts that may lead, for the person who suffers them, to a deterioration in their working conditions that may result in an infringement of their rights and their dignity, or an alteration of their physical or mental health, or a threat for his professional development.defines Public service. As the institutional site reminds us, it is up to your employer to protect you from this phenomenon. Occupational medicine can also intervene. The employer can sanction the employee who has harassed his colleague, with a transfer, a layoff or even a dismissal. On the side of justice, moral harassment is an offense that can go up to 2 years in prison and a fine of €30,000. Its author may also be ordered to pay damages to the victim.