My husband is a rising executive for an international company. He does a lot of interviews for new hires. The other day he said to me that he was planning to have lunch at Hooters with a potential employee. When I voiced my concern about his choice of restaurant, he patronizingly said he met his boss at a Hooters. I doubt that, but as he was dressing to go, I reiterated my concern. He left for work without even his usual kiss goodbye. We exchanged several text messages later and I told him how hurt I was by his behavior. He said it would be embarrassing for him to change the meeting place now, but he would do it for me. He stated he did not see anything wrong with this venue, and I was making "mountains from molehills.” He doesn’t seem to understand that he has been conducting business at a place that holds little regard for women. Not so incidentally, the company is dealing with a discrimination action by female employees. How can he overlook the implications of having an interview lunch at an establishment known for being a "breastaurant"? I asked him if he would interview a woman there, as this would logically show him what an inappropriate place it is to conduct business. Am I overthinking this, or if my husband wants to keep his job and title, should he stay out of this place while conducting any of his company's business?
Dear Executive Wife,
It’s Hooters that insists on mountains not molehills. I agree with you that your husband is jeopardizing his standing in the company by making this salacious place his satellite office. When you asked him if he would bring a female candidate to Hooters, you don’t say what his response was. Maybe he didn’t have one because he knows it would never happen. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for him to limit his Hooters lunches to fellow males. If his company has a problem with women it may be in part because it is attracting the kind of male employee who would see nothing wrong with being assessed while surrounded by young women in revealing tank tops. But to get your message across, you need to lower the temperature of the discussion. Apologize for getting so bent out of shape (try to sound sincere), but say that you don’t want to just let it go out of concern for his thriving career. Then explain that as a woman, you are particularly sensitive to the signals that are being sent by what may seem to him to be an innocent choice of lunch place. Say that given the company's existing troubles with sex discrimination issues, he does not want to do anything that might draw the negative attention of the company's legal team. Tell him that a display of cleavage and a lousy hamburger are not worth unwittingly ending up as an exhibit in a lawsuit.
I apologize for the many tiny violins that are going to be played for my question. I'm 19 years old, a freshman in college, and I have noticed an uptick in the number of compliments I receive, especially about my looks. This started to happen in my junior and senior years of high school, and I quickly learned just how bad I was at receiving any kind of compliment. I was once told, "It was a pleasure seeing your art," at a gallery show for student work. I panicked and said, "You're welcome.” Since starting college, the number of comments I get on my looks (from both men and women, friends and strangers) has increased exponentially and I'm always at a loss for words. How do I respond to a friend saying that I'm "a babe"? I was told that I had "an amazing laugh." What does that mean? Last semester a professor who was retiring told me that freshmen like me were the reason he'd been a teacher for 40 years. I didn’t know what to say! I feel I'm being rude by gracelessly accepting these comments. How should I handle this?
—Thanks but No Thanks
Even though this is only the first column of the new year, I already know that yours is going to be the best letter for all of 2014! OK, sorry, you’re right—as you recognize, you don’t have much of a problem. I can’t give you an all-purpose answer to all the compliments your receive for your all-purpose amazingness, because the recognition is coming from different people for different reasons. First of all, memorize this phrase: “Thank you.” That’s going to come in handy no matter what praise you receive. If a teacher is commending your work, after expressing your thanks, you can add how much you’ve learned from him or her. If the compliments are of your physical appearance, then consider the source. If a girlfriend says you look fantastic when you two are on your way out to a party, then go ahead and return the compliment. If it’s a guy hitting on you, decide if you want to encourage him or not—often a facial expression will take care of that. As for acclaim about your amazing laugh, you can say, “That’s so nice,” and follow it with peals of your delicious laughter.
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