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There are certain adjectives we would all love to have used when we are referenced by our boss in the workplace. Determined, a leader, team player, etc. Cliché perhaps, but these words are nice to hear and typically have something to do with the quality of work being performed or, at the very least, a characteristic that has been shown through a successful project. It’s not so often that you get a compliment on something that isn’t work-related, and yet that’s where I have found myself.
The other day I had a meeting with my boss regarding a time-sensitive contract issue, and although successful, afterward I was informed that she told a coworker I was “so cute” during the conversation.
Umm, excuse me?
Look, I’ll be the first one to admit that I am in fact very cute, but do you know where I don’t want to be described as cute? Any work situation that is legitimately serious! Especially one where I was being assertive to make things happen! This was not an instance when I had any intent to be anything less than on my game because I needed answers, but, unfortunately, my boss left our meeting thinking, “Aww, she’s adorable!”
Great. This is exactly the kind of impression I want to leave on the person who decides if I get a raise or a promotion!
So what am I supposed to think? Where do we go from here? Do I just go into future meetings knowing that my confidence plays off as the equivalent of a puppy playing in the snow? Should I be flattered that my charming personality knows no bounds and has cracked my normally not-so-fun boss lady’s exterior enough to tell other people about it? The jury is still out.
Granted, I’m sure this would be a different story if my boss were, say, an attractive dude. Would I be as thrown off if my work crush who also happened to be overseeing me thought I was delightful during negotiations? Doubtful. But when that judgment comes from a middle-aged woman who rarely smiles and has never paid me a compliment things get confusing. Is it too much to ask to be taken seriously?
And maybe I’m overreacting. What harm is there in it really? Because in almost any other situation I would happily accept the descriptor of cute. Yes, I am not too shabby looking and endearing, thank you very much! What a nice thing for you to say! There’s just something about this situation that rubs me the wrong way and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Kittens are cute. Mini-cupcakes are cute. Videos of old people dancing are cute. For goodness sake, babies can be cute. However, this is not the desired category in which I would like myself to be placed into when I am trying to get through the grind that is Monday to Friday. Call me cute at happy hour all you want, just don’t do it at the office..