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Improper/Unprofessional Office Grammar

I am an Executive Assistant working for a male dominated company/field. A young man was recently hired as an assistant to the Marketing Manager. My office is next to that of the Marketing Manager and the new hire sits in a cube just outside of my office door. He is in the process of taking over the marketing duties that I was once responsible for so I have been training him. My complaint is his use of the word Hey rather than Hello when sending emails to vendors and managers at our other locations. The word "hey" seems very casual/slang to me. He also routinely uses the phrase "what's up" when answering the phone or answering requests made by anyone in the office including his manager and owners of the company. Just this now the new way of communicating in an office environment? I would like to say something to the Marketing Manager but this doesn't seem to bother him and he has really taking this person under his wing and seems overly sensitive and protective of him. What our your thoughts and ideas about this? Thank you for your input.

Submitted by: Debra


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I agree with Lisa. Unless it's offensive, it's just personality or culture shining through. What bothers me is when a supervisor comes into my space upset about something that irritates him that others are doing and uses the "F" word. I know I'm not perfect, but it always takes me off guard to see someone that angry in a work environment and use language in a professional setting that I would hear on the streets. :( Alias on 8/8/2016 2:08:03 PM
If the manager is taken with this employee, then I would say nothing; at some point I would hope customers/clients would get tired of this greeting and THEY will mention it to his manager. Anonymous on 1/29/2013 2:28:02 PM
If it your job to train him, just teach him the way you do things, and tell him that his casual responses appear unprofessional. If he continues to talk this way, it is not up to you to worry about it. Anonymous on 1/29/2013 2:21:34 PM
If the manager is taken with this employee, then I would say nothing; at some point I would hope customers/clients would get tired of this greeting and THEY will mention it to his manager. Anonymous on 1/10/2013 9:56:06 AM
Thank you all for your input. Your comments and suggestions remind me of who I am and where I am--a 50+ woman working in a "good old boys" environment. I am sure that this does play a part in this situation as well as the attitude of some (hopefully not all) younger people entering the workplace. Since I am not his supervisor I plan to continue performing my job in a very professional way and perhaps it will rub off on him! I really do believe that in general, people are taken more seriously and with more respect when speaking without the casual slang--there is a time and place for it. I also think that as an employee we should represent the company in a very positive and professional way to our customers and vendors. I do not plan to ignore this completly and as suggested by one of your posts, I will look into info re. proper office etiquette to share with the employees. Thanks again! Debra Debra on 1/9/2013 7:32:50 AM
Depending on what part of the country you are from..."hey" is a common greeting in the south. I was raised in the Midwest and "Hi" is a normal greeting. Anonymous on 1/8/2013 6:10:47 PM
There may be an unknown personal relationship with the new assistant and/or because the manager may be sensitive/protective because this person is solely his. Maybe in your capacity of training, recommend that the entire admin support staff participate in some service excellence refreshers similar to those listed below ( I googled a few). This way, you are introducing ideas that improve the company?s image overall. With so much competition these days, companies are working harder to please current and possible customers ? ? ? Anonymous on 1/8/2013 1:39:45 PM
Senior EA - Business Writer (above) nailed it - enough said! Tamra Moore on 1/8/2013 1:37:38 PM
I believe we older assistants have to get use to the younger generation speak. There are many things to worry about these days. Chose your battles, but this isn?t one of them. Let it go. Anonymous on 1/8/2013 1:37:02 PM
I agree with you his terms of communication do not seem appropriate. However, you pointed out that it is a predominantly male office. He is male and therefore has become part of the ?boys club?. If your manager has taken him under his wing and does not seem to mind, then you should perhaps think twice about saying anything. Best regards, Colleen Anonymous on 1/8/2013 1:25:05 PM
Not saying anything is not the answer. You cannot ignore someone being unprofessional and hoping it would be swept up under the rug with all the other office castaways. And discounting this person as being part of the younger generation is wrong. It would bother me as well. You do not address a client as HEY. or ask what's up. Bottom line a client will always be a client. I've seen it too many times when a person builds a great rapport with a client and they become great friends outside of work. Remember, business is business. What you do during 8-5 is on business time. The email belongs to the company. You are representing your company in every aspect. Yes, it may seem harmless. But remember this is a position Debra once had. Same clients, vendors etc. If anything, it is a poor reflection on the new guy by not living up to the same professional standards Debra paved. Since you trained him, you have every right to discuss his poor habits of professional conversation. Let him no by no means his Hey and What's up acceptable conversation especially in an email where it is forever kept. Explain to him, this is the way a phone call should be answered and how emails should be addressed. If he turns around and says well it doesn't bother my manager why should it bother you? You should say why doesn't it bother you? A college grad not using proper etiquette? Let him know you understand it takes some adjusting and there's a learning curve. Debra, who do you work for? The President, VP? Let him know this is the standard for them. Don't let this bother you but don't let his ignorance go unnoticed either in a friendly yet tactful way. Carol-Lynn Lavelle on 1/8/2013 12:50:30 PM
Wow! What's the world coming to? Since you are responsible for training this new employee, I would politely ask this person to STOP IT! Kindly say "would you please answer the emails/phones by saying Hello or Hi? "Hey" seems to be too slang for our corporation." You might also want to say the "what's up" is not used in the business world. It's inappropriate. You can also obtain advice from your HR consultant to see how they would handle the situation. What's the worse that can happen? He runs to the marketing director? Hope this helps. Carolyn Santora on 1/8/2013 12:01:43 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. Not that it's a "male thing," but men oftentimes are more free in their speech. Saying "hey" in an email is not the end of the world. After answering with the proper company announcement, I don't think it's wrong to say "what's up." We have a scripted message when answering our telephones: "Hello, thank you for calling ... This is Carolyn, how may I help you?" Too, since you are 'training' the new person, you should feel free to mention to him your concerns. I would recommend you do it earlier than later. Carolyn Clemons on 1/8/2013 11:39:52 AM
The other thing I'd advise is not quickly judging and just attributing this to something the "younger generation" does. I get that they do things a little differently (smile) but different doesn't necessarily equate to being wrong. And you'd be surprised how many older people use "Hey" and "What's Up?" as a way of greeting each other but again, it's based on their relationship with others. If you've worked with someone for a long time chances are you aren't going to be nearly as formal as you were when you first met. Again, I think this guy is a little too comfortable too soon but after a while (and a lot of relationship-building) he could possible get a Hey/What's Up pass. :) Anonymous on 1/8/2013 11:31:35 AM
I don't think there's an issue using "hey" as a way of greeting someone IF you've established a rapport with them, otherwise I wouldn't advise it. And in this case you say this young man is new to your organization so I think it's inappropriate at this point. It's funny you bring this up because I was thinking about this recently. I'm an EA and I use "hey" quite frequently but I only use it with my colleagues who I've worked with for quite some time and we've established the type of rapport and working relationship where we're comfortable communicating informally. Having said that, I wouldn't use it speaking to a new colleague or vendor. There's a time and place for everything and new business relationships/partnerships aren't the place for "hey." There appears to be a trend in a lot of businesses now for less formality but in this situation I'd still advise to err on the side of professionalism. I was writing a quick email to one of my colleagues with whom I have a close working relationship and while we say "hey" (as a greeting, not "Hey you!") to each other all the time, I made a mental note to myself to use it less in writing. You never know when your messages will be forwarded and someone will misconstrue what you're saying as insulting or disrespectful. My two cents. :) Anonymous on 1/8/2013 11:17:17 AM
I have to agree with the other replies. The younger generation entering the workplace seem to be far more casual then when we entered. Also, the people this employee is talking with probably are from his generation or close and will not take his choice of words as offensive. As frustrating as it is, I think you should just let this go but continue to focus on your professionalism as that will continue to gain you respect and it will be a sharp contrast to the actions of the new employee. Shelley Black on 1/8/2013 11:00:13 AM
Sup dawg? I mean "HEY" Hows it hanging? It is amazing the different language we hear in the office isn't it? Possibly the group could attend a seminar on generational differences in the work place. I recently went to one and it was fantastic. They also focused on what drives the younger generation who seems to have been given things when they want them, and the older generation who has had to wait and save up for new and improved items and technology. I had to get on Facebook just to communicate with my children it seems. It may be a way you can talk about this would be if everyone in the office gets together. That way you are not singling out anyone in particular. The topic of conversation and what the office manager or director would prefer, could be presented with a general inquiry. As in you have heard some people in other offices were talking about it and thought I'd ask here. Good luck. ..or is it "Later dude". Julie Minegar Stasi on 1/8/2013 10:54:05 AM
My experience is that the younger the employee, the more casual they behave in any environment, even an office. Protocol has changed over the years to calling the boss by his first name, etc. As long as he is learning the job from your training methods, you should just be proud of your accomplishments! He will make you look good! Daisy on 1/8/2013 10:51:46 AM
I agree. Let it be. Remember, it's male dominated and he's in the "good old boy network" now. You are not. If he is being treated like a golden boy, he could turn on you if you start being petty about how he talks. I use both terms in my emails. If someone doesn't like it they should let him know. AlVerta Harty on 1/8/2013 10:49:33 AM
it's been my experience that the younger generation of employees coming to the workplace either have proper manners or are more relaxed with their behaviors. it really depends on how they were taught throughout their schooling for professional positions. the slangs that he is using are commonplace with the younger generation and if the Marketing Manager and others accept his behavior - that's your clue!! if your office personnel accept his behavior - then i would suggest 'tuning out' the behavior and focus on your job to make sure you stay secure in your position! it's a hard lesson to learn but if you want to keep your job - learn to live with it and maybe just maybe he won't last as long since he's young and probably using this posiion as a 'stepping stone' for other things! Good luck! sylvia frey on 1/8/2013 10:45:58 AM
Leave it be. If you say something it may come off as being petty. If the language is offensive to vendors and other managers, perhaps one of them will report it to his supervisor -- and that will carry more weight. Lisa Poma on 1/8/2013 10:44:52 AM

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