Dear Aunty B,
I am an entrepreneur who runs a design company. I am stylish, youngish (only 45), feminine and like champagne. But for some reason my young suppliers call me mate.
There is nothing remotely matey about me.
I find it so annoying that I am thinking of changing companies.
Is there anything I can say?
You are a victim of the McDonaldising of the world. What’s happened is this. Many of the Gen-Ys have had their formative work experience in American food chains where they were taught like robots to say: “Do you want fries with that, madam?” Some adapt this to the Australian environment, where it becomes “mate”.
Of course this is highly irritating to hippy baby boomers who hate French fries, Amercian chains (remember Vietnam) and grew up using everyone’s first name – which was highly annoying to the generation before them.
So Fiona, be assertive. I am sure you could use your abundant charm, look said supplier in the eye and tell him to call you by your name. If he baulks, remind him that while baby boomers purport to hate hierarchy, they actually revel in being the boss. And that you are not actually his MATE!
By this time he will probably be so appalled that he will sack you!
Problem solved. Now back to your champagne!