When I attended an online social media class taught by two women (Laura and Danielle), I was impressed with the information shared during the session, and decided to write the following email to the instructors:

Ladies –

I wanted to personally thank you for the excellent social media class. I was impressed with both the content and delivery. In fact, I’m already using some of what I learned!

Keep up the excellent work!

J. Flores

Within a few hours, Laura provided the following response to my email:


I’m glad you enjoyed the class. We keep making updates as new tools become available in the market.

By the way, please be careful who you call “ladies.”


Here is my response to Laura:

Hi, Laura –

I apologize if I offended you or Danielle.

The reason for my email was to thank you for the good work, and I look forward to taking another course in the near future.

Have a great day!

J. Flores

What Happened?

From my understanding, “Laura” and “Danielle” are names associated with women. Because this was an online class, and the instructors did not provide pictures, I never physically met the presenters.

I was surprised to receive the email from Laura. Why would she be offended when I referred to her as a “lady”? I went back and reviewed all correspondence from her to see if I overlooked a nickname. Her email signature clearly stated “Laura.” I was confused.

Even though I was super-busy that day, I decided to conduct an online search for Laura and Danielle. I found both of them on LinkedIn, and they looked like women to me. Why would Laura warn me about calling them “ladies”? This did not make much sense to me.


I can only speculate why “ladies” was inappropriate. I thought about locating Laura’s phone number, and discussing the issue on the phone … and the call might go something like this:

ME: I wanted to call you and apologize over the phone for calling you a “lady.” Aren’t you a woman?

LAURA: That’s none of your business!

After thinking of the possible scenarios, I decided against the phone call. There was little to gain, and I might make the situation even worse. The fact is that they did not want to be called “ladies,” and that’s the bottom line.

Is it, though?

Were they men pretending to be women? Wait a second! I’m thinking too much about this situation. Perhaps they are women who think that “lady” is just not the right term to describe them.

I suppose it really doesn’t matter what I call them. They did an excellent job with the online class, which means they met the expectations. I paid $250 for the class, and it was knowledge that I can apply in my social media marketing campaign. Why should I worry how they wish to be addressed, right?

It’s funny, though, I walked into a meeting recently in which three women were seated, and I said, “Good morning, Ladies!” They all smiled, and we had a great discussion. They were not offended.

Go figure!