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I chose to put this in the Personal Growth section but it relates to an incident at work. I have 2 staff members who assist me with various day-to-day duties, one male and one female. We work in an office and very rarely does anything not get done at a desk on a computer. Today though I needed help moving a couple of moderately heavy boxes. The female was rostered to start 2 hours before the male and upon arrival commented on the boxes that I'd placed on the floor. I was intending to ask the male to help me when he arrived, and mentioned this to her. She snapped back at me (very out of character) that I could have asked *her* to help me. I felt awful so waited an hour and a half in silent discomfort then asked her and, thankfully, she helped me and all went fine (I expected to be told where to go). I still feel bad though; she's lovely and I never meant to cause offense, but I know from her reaction, tone and quietness immediately afterwards that I did. She's not an outspoken person, is never unreasonable and is always respectful. I knew I'd upset her. I realise it's hard to comment without knowing certain details, but from an outsider's perspective, just how bad a crime was this in 2020 and in a workplace?

PS...I'm just curious, I know I won't be sued or have my effigy burnt.

PPS...one factor definitely not in my favour is I've worked with her nearly 3 years longer than I've worked with him.

PPPS...I'm so socially backward that I seriously don't know if I'm going to be told to man up because this is so trivial, or if I should be apologising to female readers.

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Sounds like an overreaction on her part. Unfortunately, this is one of those though things for managers where you are pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard part.

 

You are supposed to avoid workplace injury and that necessitates making these kinds of judgment calls that employee A is better suited than employee B to lift x weight. If she threw her back out, you'd be responsible.

 

As for waltzing around PC culture and people's individual sensitivities, I'd say adopt and learn to love this "we'll move/address/talk about that later". "We" is a handy vague term that can mean any combination of people and "later" is later. Means don't worry about whatever issues and focus on your current personal tasks. It's a vague dismissal without making the person asking feel personally rejected or pushed out of the loop.

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Oh PULEASE!!!

 

I am petite. Carried many heavy boxes in my day. It aint easy but I did it. And yes if there was a stronger man around I'd wait to see if he offered. And I'd hold the door for him LOL.

 

Many years ago we had to bring heavy boxes downstairs in my office. I wasn't feeling well (cold, feverish) and trying to hide it but I was really not up to carrying heavy boxes. I believe I asked someone for help and from what I remember my boss didn't like that I asked him or someone near him. It was weird. He had back issues though.

 

Make your judgment calls about actual heavy lifting. A larger, stronger person is a better bet. Of course!

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It's a 50/50 chance you would offend a female over something like this. I'm one of them too. I had a guy go on and on that I shouldn't be unloading the truck because a woman shouldn't be doing such a task. I take a big offense to that..BIG time. It took a lot for me to keep my cool. If there is something that is too heavy to lift or they simply don't want to, women will tell you because unlike men who seem to have to prove their strength, we have np saying so.

 

Just keep it in mind that it doesn't hurt to ask if they are up for the task. Obviously those boxes were not heavy. As for her reaction, I say there's something else working in the background, like she feels like she wasn't given an opportunity of some kind or was passed over for a promotion.

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I mean how heavy are we talking? Splitting a 50 pound box two ways is a whole different story than calling a random lady over to help you move a sofa bed. If it's clearly something any other grown and capable adult could comfortably help with, then yeah, you're falling back on gender norms or stereotypes to some needless extent. I don't think it'd be some egregious sin worth her getting mad (and FTR, I've known a few who would), but again assuming we're not talking a box containing a completely unpacked wooden desk, I would consider it a show of respect to ask for help from an average bodied / capable coworker regardless of their sex, particularly if they're the only present option.

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It's a 50/50 chance you would offend a female over something like this. I'm one of them too. I had a guy go on and on that I shouldn't be unloading the truck because a woman shouldn't be doing such a task. I take a big offense to that..BIG time. It took a lot for me to keep my cool. If there is something that is too heavy to lift or they simply don't want to, women will tell you because unlike men who seem to have to prove their strength, we have np saying so.

 

Just keep it in mind that it doesn't hurt to ask if they are up for the task. Obviously those boxes were not heavy. As for her reaction, I say there's something else working in the background, like she feels like she wasn't given an opportunity of some kind or was passed over for a promotion.

 

Like the time I got yelled at by a female co-worker for not leaping to me feet to help her carry a heavy box, but said nothing to the girl who sat next to me. I would have helped had she asked, but the expectation that I should be there to help because I'm a guy could be considered sexist in the same way.

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Speaking as a boss where people have tried to sue me plenty of times and lost - no, she can't do anything to you. You won't be penalize for not asking her to assist in an out of scope request.

 

And if anyone asks, do not use terms Male or Female unless you a doctor or cop - use Woman or Man to identify.

 

"Female" is a scientific term that refers to the sex of a species that is capable of producing children. The term "woman" refers specifically to human beings, while "female" could refer to any species. The term female is reducing a woman to her reproductive abilities and now can be seen as dehumanizing and exclusionary. I know it's science, but for work, and for you, really, use terms, "Men" and "Women"

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While the woman clearly overreacted, it may have had more to do with being annoyed by the boxes being there in the first place, then only compounded by the suggestion that they would remain there until the male came in.

 

I wouldn't sweat this. No offense was intended, and some things are just best relegated to a too-bad-so-sad category. If someone wants to hold a grudge over an otherwise minor annoyance, then that's on them, not you.

 

I'd avoid feeding the beast by being too apologetic. Sometimes the suggestion to just get over it is best modeled by our own behavior, while catering to oversensitivity only justifies the unjustifiable and invites more of same.

 

Head high, and plow forward without looking back.

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She might have just been in a bad mood about something. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just one of those things. If she had a problem with it again, then you would know it was a sticking point with her and could adjust accordingly. But as of now, I wouldn't think too much of it.

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She might have just been in a bad mood about something. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just one of those things. If she had a problem with it again, then you would know it was a sticking point with her and could adjust accordingly. But as of now, I wouldn't think too much of it.

 

Sure, but if she dwells on it, don't adjust. You're within your rights to not want injury to your own back by estimating who might be better able to carry their half of the weight.

 

Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

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Like the time I got yelled at by a female co-worker for not leaping to me feet to help her carry a heavy box, but said nothing to the girl who sat next to me. I would have helped had she asked, but the expectation that I should be there to help because I'm a guy could be considered sexist in the same way.

 

I agree. It all comes to communication. That's it. Ask and you shall receive. Pretty simple stuff.

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As a female that has worked in two jobs that required carrying around (office) boxes, I understand the feeling - but I don't think it's enough reason to react the way she did. Perhaps she was already upset about something or because she has been increasingly aware of similar situations. Honestly, don't take the situation too seriously, I guess she just needed to let some steam off!

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