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7 Things You Should Never Say to a Female Co-Worker

Throughout the years, the workforce has gotten more inclusive. That means there are more women and people of color, as well as more acceptance of how people label themselves when it comes to gender identity. Offices across the country are more of a melting pot.

However, with that inclusion also comes some awkward situations. You might find yourself in a position where you’ve put your foot in your mouth, and you don’t know how to recover. Well, we’re here to help you avoid some of those situations. Here are seven things you should never say to a female co-worker.

1. You should smile more

colleagues gossiping about a female co-worker

colleagues gossiping about a female co-worker There is an unspoken expectation that women should appear happy at all times. | iStock.com/MachineHeadz

Many women hear this statement often when they walk down the street. Sometimes a stranger will pass by a woman, and if she doesn’t have a pleasant look on her face she might hear, “Why don’t you smile?”

There is an unspoken expectation that women should appear happy at all times. This behavior often spills into the workplace. For example, in a recent Slate column, one reader said she was having this very problem at the law firm where she worked. Her supervisor told her she would never make partner unless she smiled more. She was doing a good job, but the only complaint she received was that she didn’t smile. Men, on the other hand, are allowed to look serious, and people rarely protest. If you notice a female co-worker who always looks stern, don’t ask her to smile more. Just let her do her work, and leave her alone.

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