8 things men should never say to female co-workers. Ever

What men should never say to female co-workers!

Corporate culture is male coded.  Although things are getting better, there are a number of things men should never say to their female colleagues. Every day sexism is so deeply embedded, and much of it starts with seemingly harmelss office banter. It sounds like nothin, but it eventually gets women down.

Read: Why women leave organisations. It’s not complicated.

Here is our list of things men should never say to their female colleagues

  # 1 You’re doing great for a woman!

No woman wants to hear that anyone thinks she is doing well because she is a woman. Men should really never say this at all.

female co-workers

#2 Comment on their appearance

Comments on a woman’s appearance are in appropriate in the workplace unless you have a long established relationship and the comment will not be misconstrued. Even compliments may back fire, especially if it involves comments about weight gain or loss. Does that mean she looked less good yesterday or last month? You also have no idea what’s going on for her. She’s lost weight, maybe she’s working out. Maybe she’s sick. You don’t know. So add this to your list of things men should never say

What you should not say to women 3

Read:  9 sexist experiences women encounter daily  

#3 sexual innuendos or behaviour

Sexual innuendos and double entendres are completely prohibited.  Flirting , sexting and anything sexual has a place in people’s lives, but not the office. You are also leaving yourself wide open for a sexual harassment complaint. This would include inappropriate physical contact, lecherous glances, invasion of personal space, whistling or  suggestive body language and gestures.

Helen Mirren 2

#4 Affectionate names

She is not your “sweetie”, “lovie”,  “hon”, or  heaven help us “babe.”  Do not tell her ” “not to worry her pretty little head” About anything.   Ever. In fact remove little from your vocabulary.  Whatever gave you that idea?

“I am only responsible for what I say – not what you understand” Tweet this

#5  “Calm down” or “no need to get so worked up”

The minute you tell a woman not to get worked up, to calm down, or to stop being emotional is the moment when she will hit top C. Just don’t go there.

What you should not say to women 4

#6 Are you having you period?

See above – prepare to get your face smacked with a stapler. Or worse. No, she just thinks your work is bad.

Speaking up

#7 Be more/ less assertive

The assertiveness trap drives women crazy. Too much or too little, it’s never quite right. If you think it’s appropriate to give feedback, do so in a professional context. You are not her boss, so ask her permission first and use constructive communication language.  “When x happens …I feel that……”

What you should not say to women 2

#8 Smile

Women are expected to smile. If your co-worker is not smiling it’s because she doesn’t want to,  is busy doing her job, or  simply doesn’t like you.  Get over it.

What you should not say to women 1


These comments over time build up to create a corporate culture while not unfriendly to women, serve to act as a turn off.

What do women say to men that they should re-think. Let us know!

If you want to tackle unconscious bias in your organisation contact 3Plus now 




3Plus, 3Plus online e-Gazine for professional women, Gender Balance, Workplace
Nicola Jesse
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Nicola Jesse is Administration Manager for 3Plus International. She also works Independently as a Virtual Assistant and Executive Administrator which includes managing Social Media Profiles, Financials, Event Management, and Company Administration. Nicola is also a committed volunteer of the charity Operation Christmas Child and manages a team and warehouse during the campaign season.

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