I work in a small office with my supervisor and eight co-workers. We all get along pretty well, or at least I used to think so. One woman who acts like the social leader of the group started giving everyone nicknames a few months ago. It started as part of a contest we were having and then sort of stuck. She gave me the name “Honey Badger” and said it is because I am both sweet and organized. Since I can always find things, she said I was smart like a badger. I realized that people laughed a bit more about my nickname than anyone else’s. Yesterday, one of my other co-workers told me that Honey Badger is actually an insult. She said it means I am mean and nasty. Someone else said it was a nickname on the TV show Glee and it means I am sneaky. I don’t really care if it means anything, I just don’t want to have a nickname any more. How do I ask them to stop without making it sound like I am not a good sport?
— Honey Badger
Dear Honey Badger:
Thank heaven you found this blog because you obviously do not haunt cyberspace with alarming frequency. The honey badger is the focus of one of the most hysterical videos circulating to millions via You Tube. It contains swear words, so don’t watch it if that sort of thing bugs you. Your loss. Personally, I’d take the Honey Badger moniker as a compliment even though I don’t quite match the same intense confidence demonstrated by the actual beast.
I’d also feel somewhat unsettled if my co-workers bestowed the name on me. Are you telling me that you didn’t find the name a bit odd? Really? Okaaaaay if you say so.
I say watch the video and do whatever you think the actual honey badger would do in your place. That should shake things up a bit.
— Evil Skippy
I smell a contest. Readers? What would the honey badger do about the nickname? Dare we ask for your comments?
O.K. – tell us.
In the meantime, Honey Badger asked how she could get her co-workers to stop using the nickname without appearing to be a poor sport. Easy. Tell them that you’re tired of the nickname. Don’t make a big deal of it. Just say you’d like everyone to go back to calling you your name, and leave it at that. No discussion. Move on. If someone uses the nickname, smile and remind them to stop. It will stop. You’re not being a spoil sport. They’re being tiresome if they continue a joke that’s past its expiration date.
If someone keeps using the nickname despite several reminders, then you have to decide whether it is important enough to you to force the issue. In my opinion, it is important enough. You have a right not to be called unwelcome nicknames at work. That’s reasonable. (If you did not already read it, this was a topic in yesterday’s post.) If a co-worker insists on using an unwelcome nickname, your supervisor should direct that person to knock it off. That means that you would have to seek your supervisor’s intervention.
I doubt it will come to that. If you ask and remind, no reasonable co-worker should keep using the name.