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 BLUF: I need an equivalent word or phrase for "Dude" that I can use with the women on my team.

I am a man managing a team of 8 women in HR (Payroll).  I work at a large, premium manufacturer and the culture is fairly formal and very performance driven.  I've got good relationships with my team and due to some poor management prior to my arrival (1 year ago), some of them get very defensive at negative feedback.  I'm completely at a loss for a word or phrase that I can use to replace "Dude" to help set the right tone for feedback.  Any suggestions?

One other point that might be relevant is that I'm the youngest person in our department at 30 and my team's ages range from 35 to 74*.  (*No typo there, one of them is actually 74.  The only creature on the planet that could call her dude is probably Crush from Finding Nemo...)

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

Joe

Kevin1's picture

Hi Joe,

I don't think there is one.

The official equivalent is 'dudine'.  A very High C once proved that to me.  However it is not in common use and cannot substitute.

When writing, you can use 'dudes and dudettes' under some circumstances, but when speaking, you can't exactly use 'dudette' comfortably.

All other casual words such as dude, pal, buddy, gal, girl, mate, etc. don't seem to work either.

I prefer to use names.  'Hey Jill, Can I give you some feedback?'  Sounds pretty casual and friendly.

Kind regards

Kev

DaniMartin's picture

Mark calls all the women who work here "dude" (and other than Mark and Mike, we're all women). Verbally and in writing. I get emails, texts and phone calls all the time that start with "Hey dude!" We also use it with each other. Being raised in the Northeast US I'm partial to "guys" yet now that I live in the South, I'll throw in a "y'all" occasionally as well.

I like Kevin's suggestion to use their first names.

And you can convey a lot of the casual nature of feedback in your tone of voice, facial expression and body language. Maybe focus on those things and don't fret over the dude.

And please, never dudette. And most certainly no dudine either! ;-)))

Dani

RDHodgson's picture

I tend to go for gender-neutrality with gendered terms - I find attempts to make a gender-specific term (like "dudette") about as successful and desirable as making "fetch" happen. Everyone's a bro/dude/chap/pal/buddy in my book - it's nothing to do with their gender.

The funny thing is you say they're all women. I think in your situation I might also find it odd using such a term. 

Maybe a dumb suggestion, I'm sure you've already tried it but - have you listened to what terms of endearment they use with each other or with you specifically?

---

Rory

"Now bring me DiSC profile 6-1-4-7, your time is up and your feedback's begun!"

joeziska's picture

 It sounds like we're all on the same page with our thoughts.  There doesn't seem to be a great replacement.  I will instead focus on some of the other aspects of behavior around the communication (tone, body language, etc.).

@Kevin, I'm still not sure I'd buy "Dudine" instead of "Dudette" but I can imagine it was an interesting discussion!

@Rory, I think that is a good point about listening to what they call each other.  To be honest, I can't remember anything more casual than "Dear colleagues" coming up in discussions.  My only issue is that even if I catch something I would worry it doesn't translate well to me as a man.  (Sweetie or dear wouldn't really work as a younger man addressing a woman.)

Thanks all!
JZ
 

mattpalmer's picture

I'm going to start calling everyone "dudine", regardless of gender.

Personally, I tend to stick with first names (or preferred shortened version / nickname, if they're universally used).  Essentially, whatever I think the recipient will feel most comfortable being called.  I tend to reserve the "dude" for when my kids act up, and then it's "duuuuuuuuude..."

 

cynaus's picture

I often use "dude" in my team (as a peer and now as a manager) but it usually just falls out quite casually so it feels and sounds right at the time. My team (also HR) are all female except one and range in age from 28 to 76!  :)  Actually besides the 28 year old and myself, everyone else is over 58 years old. 

If it doesn't feel right for you, don't do it. To me, it's a word I use casually and more often you'll hear "cool" and "awesome" fall from my lips!

 

 

SuzanneB's picture

Anything you contrive is going to sound forced and awkward. I agree with Kevin1 - stick to first names.

nowork2014's picture

I prefer addreesing with their names by doing so iot mean you care for them and it is more formal from dedes. - Steven Wyer

dlongman's picture

 How about using babes? ;-) 

Sorry! Seriously, I would just use their first names if dude doesn't work. In the UK, where I am, I don't find dude is used very much, I generally use 'guys' as collective, gender neutral term but I know some people think that is weird. Safest to stick with real names, after all everyone is happy with their name.

 

JulieGeek's picture

Fortunately for us in the southern United States, we have "y'all"--an infinitely useful term that conjugates nicely, to wit:

"Howdy! Can I give y'all some feedback?" and "Y'all're doing great!" This usage indicates that a single individual or certain members of a group (you know who you are) is being addressed.

"All y'all are doing great!" should be interpreted as "The collective impact of the efforts of everyone within earshot is very favorable."

"Y'all all are doing great!" should be interpreted as "Every single member of this group that I'm addressing is individually doing a fine job."

"Hey y'all..." is an acceptable, gender neutral alternative to "dude".

 

 

 

 

 

 

mrreliable's picture

 I think you're getting into dangerous territory with any term in the realm of "dude." You said there was a large swath of age groups. I'll be dating myself here, but I hear "dude" and I think of a stoned Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times and Ridgemont High saying, "Dude, I know this is history class. There's a globe," or something like that.

I know "dude" is used as a common term of endearment for a particular age group, but it could be taken as an insult or at least flippant by someone of a different age.

For example, last week at a family dinner my mother referred to "The girls in the office." My wife, who is a professional woman, bristled. My mother meant no disrespect, and in fact in her age group the term "girls" was meant affectionately and respectfully. Not so with a product of the 70's.

Dangerous territory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

mrreliable's picture

 I think you're getting into dangerous territory with any term in the realm of "dude." You said there was a large swath of age groups. I'll be dating myself here, but I hear "dude" and I think of a stoned Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High saying, "Dude, I know this is history class. There's a globe," or something like that.

I know "dude" is used as a common term of endearment for a particular age group, but it could be taken as an insult or at least flippant by someone of a different age.

For example, last week at a family dinner my mother referred to "The girls in the office." My wife, who is a professional woman, bristled. My mother meant no disrespect, and in fact in her age group the term "girls" was meant affectionately and respectfully. Not so with a product of the 70's.

Dangerous territory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

murphyslaw1978's picture

It's just dude or dudette, either one works.  

mattpalmer's picture

The suffix "-ette" has three uses in English; one is "feminising" (from the French '-et'), the other two are "a smaller form" and "imitation".  The latter two forms are, I believe, more commonly used these days, and so it is likely that a listener will interpret the word "dudette" to mean either "a smaller dude" or "an imitation dude", rather than "a female dude".  Dangerous territory.  Since communication is what the listener does, the negative consequences of using a word which may be misinterpreted is all on you.  If you're absolutely sure that everyone who will hear it will understand the meaning you intend, then go for it -- but that doesn't mean it's recommended for everyone.  Hell, I had a colleague who I referred to as "honey bun" (and I was his "snookums").  We were both male, both straight, and it was an in-joke around the office.  It was fine.  Would I recommend that people refer to a colleague as "honey bun" or "snookums" in the general case?  Never in a million years!

For another take on the whole issue of word choice and "communication is what the listener does", consider the word "niggardly".  It has absolutely no reference to or relationship with slavery or african-americans, and yet plenty of people take offence at its use.  Feel free to use it as you wish, but if you lose your job for being racist because you say to your boss, "That customer was a bit niggardly with their payment, weren't they?", you'll get sympathy from me because your boss was an ill-educated oaf, but not because you got fired.

Durandot's picture

Why not call them by their names? It's much easier :))