Recently, I listened to a professional webinar by a registered dietitian with a master’s degree. There was a recurring theme in the message, and it had nothing to do with the theme of the webinar. It was a bad habit that distracted me so much that I couldn’t tell you what the webinar was about.
The presenter could not stop saying “You guys.”
“You guys know …” “I want to share this with you guys.” … “What is most important, you guys, is …”
You get the drift. Note: YOU get the drift, not “you guys get the drift.”
When I go to a restaurant and the waiter or waitress says, “you guys,” I am offended, so I usually speak up. Our dialogue goes like this:
Waitstaff: “Hey guys, how many in your party?”
Me: No answer.
Waitstaff: “Hey, guys, how many in your party?”
Me: “Oh! Are you talking to me?”
Waitstaff: “Yes” (looking bewildered.)
Me: “I didn’t think you were talking to me because I’m not a guy. Do I look like a guy?”
Waitstaff: “Oh, no, I didn’t mean that you looked like a guy. ‘You guys’ is just a figure of speech.”
Me: “Hmmm. My preference is that you do not call me a guy. Could you do that?”
They agree, but they find it very difficult. You see, it’s a very bad habit:
- “How is your guys’ meal?”
- “How are you guys doing?”
- “Are you guys ready for dessert?”
Each time I act bewildered and look around for the “mystery guy” in our group. Each time, I say, “Do I really look like a guy? This is starting to concern me.” Each time they assure me “it’s just a figure of speech” and each time, I affirm my request that they please not call me a guy. They look confused, skeptical.
Why do I care about this so much? I won’t apologize for being old-fashioned because that term has become synonymous with “showing respect.” I appreciate feeling respected. When someone calls me “you guys,” it sounds sloppy and disrespectful. It’s that simple.
Is it just a figure of speech? I don’t think so. I think “you guys” is a lazy bad habit that needs to be nipped in the bud.
So, naturally I was shocked tonight to hear this young RD who prides herself in nutrition education refer to her audience (primarily peers and colleagues) as “you guys” every third or fourth sentence. How did she get this far calling her audience “you guys?” Didn’t her college professors say anything? Or were they afraid of offending her? Truly, they did her no favors by not addressing it.
She talked about the importance of dressing nice in her job in order to promote an aura of respect. I don’t disagree, but there are no nice clothes that can counteract the sloppy “you guys” every few sentences.
Do you have this bad habit? Here are some ideas on how to break it:
- Step One: Seek to understand why “you guys” is a bad phrase in your vocabulary. You need to recognize that it is offensive to many people, especially women who clearly are not of the male gender.
- Step Two: Tell a friend you want to break the habit — agree to be charged $1 every time you say “you guys.” After a $100 loss in an evening, you will learn.
- Step Three: Take Toastmasters and tell them one of your goals is to stop the bad habit of saying “you guys.” They have a Marble-Dropper who will drop a marble in a jar everytime you say it, and you will quickly become more conscientious of this habit.
- Step Four: Practice saying “How are YOU?” “What do YOU need?” and “How many in YOUR party?” Soon “you guys” will be a distant memory and who knows, if you work in a restaurant, you may discover an increase in tips.
Respect never goes out of style.
Want to be treated with respect? Check out My Coach Bev — she won’t call you a guy if you are a gal, and she won’t ignore your request for what you want to be called. She treats every client with respect and integrity. And if you want to break a bad habit like calling women “guys”, she will help you. To check out what it’s like to work with My Coach Bev, please email firstname.lastname@example.org