Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Honey Sugar Sweetie Baby... Watch What you Call People

Honey Sugar Sweetie Baby... Watch What you Call People

Honey, Hun, Sugar, Baby, Sweetie Pie, Dear, etc... these are all words that flow off some people's lips.  They don't flow off mine.  Nor do I appreciate being called these names.  Never have, probably never will.  I've been trying to use "Sweetie" or "Baby" on my 15 week (tomorrow) baby, and the words sound funny.  I stick to "Pretty Girl" and "Happy Girl".

I received a call from an agent a couple of days ago, asking about one of my listings.  Every sentence started with "Hun".  Hun?  I'm not your Hun.  I'm a "Colleague".  I run a business and I expect to be spoken to in a business way.

I went through college waiting tables and bartending.  People would call me Sugar or Honey or any of the above mentioned words, and I would turn around and say, "As I said, my name is Donna.  If you need anything, just let me know."

To me, the words sound degrading. I understand that some people have used those words their entire life and don't perceive the words in the same manner, but please listen to yourself talk and ask yourself if it sounds professional to speak to other adults in a business setting (not personal setting) in that manner.

My name is Donna.  It's not Honey, it's not Sugar, it's not Baby... my sister in law is "Sweetie" since my brother has forgotten her name, and my parents and I just roll our eyes every time he says it.  We remind him that her name is Kathy, but he doesn't get the joke.  I dated a guy once who called me "Precious" and all I could think about was my Grandparents' dog named Precious.  Blah!

Are there other words that people say that bother you while trying to maintain a business conversation?

Comment balloon 36 commentsDonna Harris • February 28 2008 09:37AM


Good for you. Many folks in this business are here by default, and not on a professional level.  (I was going to end with "Peace-Out, Sister", but thought better of it.)
Posted by Michael (Mike) Elliott (Nottingham Real Estate Group) over 12 years ago

I get that name calling stuff from females all the time. I also don't like it when they feel the need to touch me while talking to me.


Posted by Delete Account over 12 years ago

Lighten up Donna. There are worse things in life than being subjected to a term of endearment. Some people can't help themselves.

If somone places an emphasis on the word in a derogatory manner then fine. Perhaps you have a complaint at that point. Other wise smile and move on with life. You will be much happier for it.

Posted by Herb Hamilton, Real Estate Broker ,CDPE, Downtown Portland (RE/MAX Preferred Inc. Realtors) over 12 years ago


I agree wholeheartedly. And the same goes with clients. Although I am in my middle 50's I will address a 20 year old client as Mr. so and so or Ms. so and so until I am invited to use their first names!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 12 years ago

Donna, I agree with you that it is very unprofessional.  I like being called my birth name too, which is Vickie by the way.

 I think one of the craziest ones I have heard is calling someone "lovebucket"  what the heck is that all about? When I first moved from Pa to SC it drove me crazy that I was called "ma'am"  But, then I realized it was just their custom.  It was the same way in TN.  Now that I am in KY, I don't ever hear it. 

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 12 years ago

Hey Donna!
Thanks for your post. While I do have some pet peeves you hit one of my top one. I have someone in my office that does this every time he is on the telephone with a female and I just cringe.


Tony Grego - Indiana Mortgage Company

Posted by Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv (REISA - 317-663-4173) over 12 years ago

Mike, Here "by default"... never thought of it in those terms before. Nice.

Johnny, I hate that too!  I usually stand a little further back so it's less likely to happen, but men and women, alike, will lean in just to get the touch.  We learned about it in all my psychology classes, as it helps people relate to you better and brings the conversation "personal", but I don't think it's necessary.

Herb, Yes, there are worse things, but when someone is negotiating a contract and it's "Hun, I'll get that to you today", and "Thanks Sweetie, you're the best"... it's so much easier to insert name or leave it out.  I don't think it sounds good and does sound derogatory to me.

Richard, I call many people Mr and Mrs also.  Even the parents of my friends from junior and high school, and they've even asked me to call them by their first names.  Sounds weird and not respectful.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 12 years ago


I cringe whenever someone, who I don't have a close personal relationship with, calls me "hon" or "sweety". Terms like these have no place in a professional relationship. Oddly enough, it's women who call other women by those names. I don't say anything, because I know they don't mean any harm, but if a man would call me by those names, I would definitely speak up.


Posted by Sandy Nelson, your Olympia area Realtor (Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc.) over 12 years ago

Donna, you say in your description or "about me" section that each market is diiferent. Real estate is different in Texas than it is in Alabama. Not only real estate but dialect and etiquiette. A difference here is that "honey" or "sweetie" is a term of endearment. Nothing more than polite admiration or a sign of respect to a LADY.

I recently worked with some buyers who were originally from South Alabama, had moved to Texas for 10 years and they were coming back. They had their Texas-raised child with them and she kept having to apologize for his lack of manners as being the "Texas-raised" child where saying "yes/no ma'am" or "yes/no sir" is not polite as it most certainly is in Alabama.

I understand your empowerment as a female in the workplace. "I am woman. Hear me roar," and all that. But if you ever visit Alabama, you'll most likely be insulted by many a respectful man who will offer a "honey" or a "sweetie."

Posted by Jay Knorr, Auburn Al Properties (Prudential Preferred Real Estate) over 12 years ago
This really doesn't bother me from women. It is disrespectful if a man says it though. I think that older women do this to younger women without meaning any harm. If a younger women says this, I would definitely correct her.
Posted by Julie Hite (Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company, Inc.) over 12 years ago
Donna: Pet names should only be for your loved ones or pets.. THAT'S IT
Posted by Jill Wente, Realtor, CRS, MCNE, CHMS (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Gary Greene) over 12 years ago

Unless it's clearly meant in a pejorative way (and that's pretty easy to tell from things besides the words themselves), I don't take offense at the use of those terms of endearment.  Figured out long ago that they don't impact me at all unless I choose to let them, nor, in most cases, indicate any disrespect on the part of the person using them - quite the opposite, in fact.  (Now, I used to take great offense at them back in the day when I was on the barricades of the women's movement, but I took a good look at who was using them and when and how and got over myself. ;-) )

By the way, Jay, "Yes, sir/m'am" and such is, too, polite in Texas (at least, it has been as long as I've lived here, and that's been pushing 60 years now).  I suspect there was something else going on there.  


Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) over 12 years ago

Vickie, I smile every time someone calls me ma'am as it's usually older gentlemen.  I'm like, I'm young enough to be your daughter, you don't have to call me ma'am.  But that's a respectful word, not lovebucket! 

Tony, I have many other pet peeves too.  They slowly come out in blogging...

Sandy, I hadn't really noticed that it comes more from women, but you're probably right.

Jay, My blog is about me and my experiences.  There is nothing wrong with blogging about any topic though it might be different in another market. It was written in first person with my opinions. If your market tolerates it, great.  If you talk that way out of habit and never realized other people don't talk that way, you may just realize that you've been offending people for years. If everyone you talk with talks like that, by all means, go with the flow.

Julie, Yes, I want to smack the youngin's when they talk with me like that.  On the other side, when it's an older women, sometimes sounds like they just realized their granddaughter accomplished something, "Thanks so much sweetie, good job!"

Jill, Thank you!

Tricia, 60 years? No way! Your picture looks good!


Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 12 years ago
Donna - I couldn't agree with you more.  The more I read your blogs, the more I realize we think very similarly.  :-)  I feel like other agents that use the terms Hun, Sweetie, Dear are dismissing me.  I don't think they see me as an equal peer and it drives me nuts!  I don't think of these words as terms of endearment when it is a person I just met.  
Posted by Linda Box Taylor, Your Plano, TX Realtor (Castle Connections Realty) over 12 years ago
Donna,  I don't use the terms of "endearment" that flow like water out of an open tap and I especially can't stand the "hands on" that sometimes accompanies them,  Karen 
Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) over 12 years ago

I notice that a lot of the older female agents will say that to me when I speak to them.  I don't let it bother me now but in the beginning it kinda seem like an insult since I was a newer agent and young when I entered this field (22 years old).


Posted by Nick Good, (The Good Home Team with eXp Realty) over 12 years ago
Donna, I grew up in the South, it is normal. Doesn't bother me at all.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 12 years ago

Donna - around here it's a common thing.  I get called those names everyday and at least they are meaning it in a nice way.  I don't think I have been to a restaurant yet where the cashier or waiter hasn't used those terms,

I've never called a client those names.  Yet some do use those names on me.

Posted by Karen Gentry>>Charlottesville, Virginia Real Estate Professional (RE/MAX Excellence-Charlottesville VA) over 12 years ago
Donna, I understand where you are coming from. But in some areas and cultures calling someone "hun" or "sweetie" is just a natural way to talk. By the way I do not do it. I think as hard as is it you have to consider the source and how it is being used. I think for one of your peers to do it is just wrong unless of course it's a sweet little old lady and that's just the way she talks. In that case just try to not let it bother you(as hard as that may be).  
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 12 years ago

Right on, Donna. I'm in Kentucky, and it is not common here.  Totally degrading, unless you're 5 years old, and maybe then it's ok, princess.  (tee-hee)

Posted by Angela Clark, CRS, Realtor, Broker (Tony Clark REALTORS) over 12 years ago
Great post, Sugar Pie!
Posted by Rich Jacobson, Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker (Fathom Realty West Sound) over 12 years ago
Donna - Great post, my background was very formal everyone was Mr. and Mrs. and you never called an older person by there first name.  So it took a while for me to get use to hun, sugar.....
Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) over 12 years ago
If an individual requests that another person speaking not call them "hun" or "sugar" or whatever, that should be the end of it.  Be polite and honor their request, without making a big deal out of it or being touchy, regardless of "cultural" differences or where you come from or how momma brought you up.  It's about respect.
Posted by Eric Kodner, Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island (Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes) over 12 years ago

Linda, Great minds think alike! 

Karen, Good to know you're not a user or liker of those words either!

Nick, I was 23 when I started, so I feel your pain...

Missy, I'm in the "south", but maybe not south enough.

Karen G, But do you like being called Hun by the 18 year old waitress?  Almost like my mom hates it when the people at the department store call her by her first name because they see it on the card.  She feels since they don't know her, they should call her by her last name, not first.

Bryant, Me, let something bother me?? Never!  lol

Angela, Ahh, Princess... now I feel like my 6 year old niece!  jk

Rich, Thanks so much Sweet Pea!

Jennifer, Exactly, growing up, everyone was Mr. and Mrs. and I can't transition to use their names even though many have asked me to.  One asked to be called Barbara, and then asked to be called Babs.  Sorry, but it was Mrs for so long, I can't switch to Babs.

Eric, Yes, it's about respect.  It's also about being aware of the words coming out of your mouth, as there are many people in my personal life that I've asked not to call me those words and they have never made the conscious choice to stop.  It's annoying.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 12 years ago
Well, I call some of my young clients "Dear"?  I mean it as a term of endearment, not as degrading. My clients know that I am sincere and not talking down to them. Maybe I should stop doing that?  I too put myself through school bartending and waiting on tables.  It pissed me off more when someone called me "waitress" or 'bartender" .  I would say, yes "customer", my name is Audrey if you need anything.
Posted by Audrey June-Forshey, GRI, Gaithersburg, MD (RE/MAX Realty Services) over 12 years ago

I personally don't have a problem with people using those terms with me even though I don't use them with other people. It's just a southern thing and I am proud of that heritage. There is a "comfort" level here and a "Closeness" that doesn't exist in other parts of this country. It's as if everyone is your friend and there is no such thing as strangers....although this is changing (sadly).

 For example...when I first moved to Seattle I was walking down the street towards Pikes Place Market. I was passing a man and said "hi". He responded with a F*** You. It shocked me to the core! I came from an area where you waved to people you passed in your car and said hi if you passed someone on the street and said good afternoon to everyone you passed. You didn't have to know them you were just being "Cordial". I quickly discovered this was not the case in the dog eat dog world I had just moved into.

As beautiful a place as Seattle was, I was never "at home" there. I miss the water and seeing Mt. Rainier every morning when I came out to my car. I miss Point Defiance Park, but I don't miss that "cold" attitude I experienced. Everyone has these emotional walls errected and how dare you try to get through them.

You might want to rethink making fun of the fact that your brother calls his wife by a pet name. It shows he is at a comfort level in his relationship that is not quite as formal as you would like but it is his relationship and it doesn't mean he forgot her name at all. It shows he doesn't have the emotional walls erected that you might have that make him feel silly for having a pet name. It doesn't mean he doesn't love his wife or respect his wife....which is what I FEEL  you are saying.

My husband calls me baby or puddin and I'm not at all offended by it. He doesn't call other women that or I would be offended because that is my personal pet name. However, if he talked to a waitress and called her some other endearment then I would be fine with it as long as the rest of his behavior did not reflect  flirting of some type. It really depends on the manner and setting in which it is used. I tend to call all children "sweetie".

I guess the point I was trying to make is that it doesn't bother me when people use those terms with me because I know why they do it and I don't think any less of them for it. It's just a southern thing. That explains it all.

Posted by Cheri Smith, Realtor Prudential Gary Greene (Prudential Gary Greene, Cypress TX) over 12 years ago


I couldn't agree more.

I wish women would stop calling me sexy over the phone. I am so tired of female agents saying things like.."I bet your great in negotiations" or your voice, it's so soothing and inviting.

I wish women would respect me as a professional. Sexy this, handsome that...

 I really hate it when they get close and run their hand on my back. Can't I just work!

thanks for the laugh Donna, you little sugar briches, cream puff, cup-cake, daisy, cuddle-cakes, bambie!

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 12 years ago

Donna...  In my old office there was an agent who would call me hun and my skin would crawl every time.  I actually told him that my name is DEBBIE and that I find being called hun offensive.  He acted as if I had harmed him and he said that he meant it in an affectionate way.  I told him that I found it belittling and that I realize he didn't mean it that way, but I am a colleague and expect to be treat that way.

Wow, as you can see... it burns me too. 

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) over 12 years ago

Donna -

Good point and I guess growing up in Richardson, TX (JJ Pierce alumn) as you did that the general population was urban, business people.  I grew up in rural West Texas and something was definately off if I didnt hear 'honey, sugar or sweetie' at least 3 times a day.  I think it is where you are from and mainly older generation incorporate this into their daily venacular (yes, that was a three syllable word coming from a mortgage guy) and I agree by today's standards there could be a little teensy bit of sexism but probably not meant to be offensive as much as friendly.

Greg - messing with fire but extremely funny...and I happen to have the same type of problems you have all the time, wierd!


Posted by JDo Doe over 12 years ago

It depends on the tone in which its used.... If it is within a happy scenario then, I take it as a term of endearment and appreciation. If it is in a condescending or derogatory tone i.e. "Listen, Sweetie.." then oooh boy, the claws come out!


Posted by Nancy Kent, RE/MAX Hill & Valley, Western Mass (RE/MAX Hill & Valley) over 12 years ago

Its a thin line.  I've been working a deal with an agent for a week now.  I really don't think he remembers my name.  He keeps calling me Sunny.  I really don't think he means any disrespect from it, it's not worth raising a stink about (or in his case, a dust cloud of ashes HAHA!)  It comes down to context and how comfortable you are. 

I call my title rep Baby, I rarely use her name unless we are in a closing, She calls me Money Maker.  In the flurry of getting dinner on the table and two kids running around I call my mife "Hey You".  I see people I recognize but for the life of me, I can't produce a name, I say Good to see you my friend.  Won't even tell you what I call the Secratary in the office, BUT we have a comfort level and its all acceptable. 


Posted by Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit) over 12 years ago
Thanks for the tip on my recent blog post... I don't get called any of these names...not that I need to.
Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) over 12 years ago

Donna...What was shocking to me was when I was still comparatively young and adults began to call me Ma'm.  Wow.  That sure woke me up.  I've earned it by now as I'm much, much older.

I also prefer not to be called hon or sweetie especially by total strangers.



Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 12 years ago

I ranned across this b/c I was carious how this all started. I work at my local Publix and wonder Why?Younger  ones call you sweetie, pie , sugar hon, baby. Today I had to ask a young personger 12 years younger than me call me baby baby. So I asked Why/ she tuirned red, but I bet she would remember next time. If they only new where this all came from. I am like really!

Posted by Renata over 8 years ago

In any business if you are professional you just don't call clients "Honney"if you feel like it's OK then you need to take a business classes near you at the community college.Unless you don't remember their names and it is a shame. Still you can say Mam or Sir. I just can tell how some clients react when they been called Honney and well I don't see them coming back to get services done any more. First NAME that's# 1 MUST call in the business.

Posted by Nadezda Fontana over 5 years ago

I have a friend who was calling me "darling." I asked her not to do it because it sounds condescending, so she now calls me "baby." Then she came up behind me and took my hand and kissed it. I find the whole thing creepy overall. Today I intend to ask her again not to invade my personal space or use terms of endearment. The way she does it, I think it's disrespectful.

Posted by Donna2 almost 2 years ago