Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => "I'm afraid that won't be possible." => Topic started by: crocodile on August 28, 2012, 05:10:29 PM

Title: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on August 28, 2012, 05:10:29 PM
Perhaps I am an old fogie, but I find it extremely off-putting when people in business whom I have never met before take it upon themselves to address me by my first name.  There is also the age factor that plays into this.  I am 66 years old and think that by the time people reach our age, a little respect is not too much to hope for.  I was raised in a day and time in which first names were not used until an invitation was offered, as in, "Please call me by my first name."  I find this especially annoying at a physician's office.  How is it I have to call her "Dr. Whomever," when her staff (who are in their twenties) calls me by my first name?  (I am also a "Dr. Whomever", BTW.)   I am not comfortable being on a first-name basis with my physician, nor do I appreciate it when people such as mortage lenders, bankers,  and other business people say "Well, hello, (first name), I'm glad to meet you."  I was always taught in my culture (French) that first names are for family and close friends.  I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.) How do you handle this, please?  If anyone could give me any suggestions I would be very grateful.  Thank you.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: QueenfaninCA on August 28, 2012, 05:13:20 PM
Are you still living in France or are you living in the US? In the  US, the culture just happens to be less formal with names than in some European countries (German transplant to California here).
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: 25wishes on August 28, 2012, 05:15:22 PM
I know when in the doctor's waiting room, they will call you by your first name, for privacy reasons. There may be a lot of "mary's" but there is probably only one "Mrs. Feuchtwanger."
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: hobish on August 28, 2012, 05:27:34 PM
I know when in the doctor's waiting room, they will call you by your first name, for privacy reasons. There may be a lot of "mary's" but there is probably only one "Mrs. Feuchtwanger."

Oh my goodness, that never occured to me. That makes so much sense. I'm only in my 30's and being addressed by first name in an unfamiliar doctor's office has always bugged me out.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Ceallach on August 28, 2012, 09:10:10 PM
I think it's the norm in this day and age to address people by their first name.   One of my brothers married a Frenchwoman, and many of our mutual friends are French, and it's certainly no different with them either - so I think it's generational not cultural.    What makes it extra challenging for you is that many people of your own generation also prefer to be addressed by their first name - I've lost count of the number of people who've specifically told me what to call them (even though I would probably default to first name anyway from habit) and it's always "Call me Jane" or "call me Tom".   Most Drs I go to even use first names these days!  It's getting more and more common.

You need to politely make your preference clear.  If they address you as "Mary" reply with "Actually it's Mrs Jones thank you" and then continue on with your conversation.    Occasionally there will be somebody who is offended by the correction, however if you say it politely and in a friendly tone then you're not being rude.    Unfortunately you won't be able to change people's overall habits - they're not going to know your preference until you tell them.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: kareng57 on August 28, 2012, 09:22:29 PM
I know when in the doctor's waiting room, they will call you by your first name, for privacy reasons. There may be a lot of "mary's" but there is probably only one "Mrs. Feuchtwanger."

Oh my goodness, that never occured to me. That makes so much sense. I'm only in my 30's and being addressed by first name in an unfamiliar doctor's office has always bugged me out.


It can also be common in some hospital settings, especially when patients are coming out of anaesthesia or have been sedated.  They're simply more likely to respond to first names as opposed to surnames.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Sharnita on August 28, 2012, 09:42:26 PM
Additionally it is more likely to have a difficult to pronounce last name than first name.  I think it is unreasonable for the doctor to try to remember the exact pronunciation fo every last name he might come across in his day.  There are lots of patients he has to remember so he goes with the easier to remember/pronounce first name.  The patient is only remember one doctor.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: TurtleDove on August 28, 2012, 09:55:14 PM
I think you can ask that people address you more formally, but I doubt the majority of people intend any sort of lack of respect by calling you by your first name. I'm a lawyer and I work nationwide with lawyers of various ages every day - not a single one do I address as "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," aside from perhaps in formal pleading or correspondence. I generally refer to judges as "Judge" or "Judge Peterson." I think to be offended rather than simply politely stating your preference will not serve you well.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on August 28, 2012, 10:49:18 PM
"Please, Mrs. Jones" is no different than someone inviting you to be less formal with "Please, Kate".  Just reverse the process and you'll be fine.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: O'Dell on August 29, 2012, 07:10:32 AM
Like others have said, you make your preference known: "I prefer Mrs. Crocodile" or some of the other suggested wording.

I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.)

And if they say "Please call me, Joan/John" do you comply?
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on August 29, 2012, 08:20:39 AM
Are you still living in France or are you living in the US? In the  US, the culture just happens to be less formal with names than in some European countries (German transplant to California here).

No, I live in a major western city in the US.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on August 29, 2012, 08:23:34 AM
I know when in the doctor's waiting room, they will call you by your first name, for privacy reasons. There may be a lot of "mary's" but there is probably only one "Mrs. Feuchtwanger."

Actually, it is a mistaken assumption on the part of some health care workers that they cannot say a person's name in front of others.  My own office must be HIPAA-compliant and we do extensive training on HIPAA.  It is fine to say, "Would you please come in, Mrs. Jones?"  It is not fine to say "The results of your HIV test are here, Mrs. Jones."  As long as you are not revealing any medical information, it is fine to properly address people.  This was specifically covered by an HIPAA person; I do think that the office staffs in many offices may not understand this, however.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on August 29, 2012, 08:25:53 AM
Like others have said, you make your preference known: "I prefer Mrs. Crocodile" or some of the other suggested wording.

I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.)

And if they say "Please call me, Joan/John" do you comply?

If they are someone I work with over time and I get to know them, yes.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Aeris on August 29, 2012, 08:28:54 AM
I know when in the doctor's waiting room, they will call you by your first name, for privacy reasons. There may be a lot of "mary's" but there is probably only one "Mrs. Feuchtwanger."

Actually, it is a mistaken assumption on the part of some health care workers that they cannot say a person's name in front of others.  My own office must be HIPAA-compliant and we do extensive training on HIPAA.  It is fine to say, "Would you please come in, Mrs. Jones?"  It is not fine to say "The results of your HIV test are here, Mrs. Jones."  As long as you are not revealing any medical information, it is fine to properly address people.  This was specifically covered by an HIPAA person; I do think that the office staffs in many offices may not understand this, however.

The person you are quoting did not say medical offices might use first names for HIPAA reasons. She said they might do so for privacy reasons. They are not always the exact same.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Luci on August 29, 2012, 08:33:21 AM
I was raised in the more formal ways, also. I always called my friends' parents 'Mr....' and 'Mrs...' and it was always 'Uncle John' and 'Aunt Mary'. It was really a shock to me that our friends wanted our children to call them by their first names, although we taught our children to call their friends' parents by the honorific and the last name.  There was a problem when I worked in the school that the kids in our neighborhood attended, so I asked the parents to have their kids call me 'Mrs......' I did dig my heels in about our neices and nephews calling us 'Aunt' and 'Uncle'. And I wouldn't take the kids to a dentist after said, "Call me 'Dave'."

It must be a lot harder now with the more common use of 'Ms.'  We also never had and instance where the generations overlapped in ages, as in a nephew being older than the uncle, although I knew of a few.

Now I'm 68 and just go with whatever the doctors and nurses want and really TRY to not let it bug me. It's a lost battle before it begins.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Aeris on August 29, 2012, 08:40:28 AM
Like others have said, you make your preference known: "I prefer Mrs. Crocodile" or some of the other suggested wording.

I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.)

And if they say "Please call me, Joan/John" do you comply?

If they are someone I work with over time and I get to know them, yes.

I think this poster's point was that the other person's desire to be 'first-named' is just as valid as your desire to be 'last-named', so if you *aren't* respecting their request that you use their first name *when they request it*, then you are demanding a respect that you are not giving.

In your personal rules, first names aren't used until you personally get to know someone. The majority of US culture now disagrees. Culture changes with time. Just like it's no longer 'improper' to wear skirts without pantyhose, it's no longer generally improper to use first names. It's perfectly fine to have a personal preference that is outside this norm, but the vast majority of US culture is not being 'improper' if they don't know your preference.

At any rate, you asked for advice on how to handle this. There is no way to change the overall tenor of US culture. There is no way to magically make everyone that interacts with you use last names, generally or just with you. The only thing you can do is make your preference for last names known, either at the start of an interaction with every person you meet or after they first use your first name. You can attempt to set the stage when introducing yourself to people by saying "I'm Mrs. Foxtrot" instead of including a first name, but this won't work all the time.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on August 29, 2012, 08:49:35 AM
Like others have said, you make your preference known: "I prefer Mrs. Crocodile" or some of the other suggested wording.

I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.)

And if they say "Please call me, Joan/John" do you comply?

If they are someone I work with over time and I get to know them, yes.

So you ignore their preferences for their own names in light of your own?  That's rude.  You call them by what they wish to be addressed; to do so otherwise is completely dismiss their wishes regarding themselves.  If it makes you uncomfortable, you can ask, politely of course, "May I please call you Mr. Smith until I know you better?  It makes me uncomfortable to do so otherwise." but you must take "No" for an answer; otherwise, you're being rude.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Yvaine on August 29, 2012, 10:17:23 AM
I know when in the doctor's waiting room, they will call you by your first name, for privacy reasons. There may be a lot of "mary's" but there is probably only one "Mrs. Feuchtwanger."

Oh my goodness, that never occured to me. That makes so much sense. I'm only in my 30's and being addressed by first name in an unfamiliar doctor's office has always bugged me out.

Yes. This was done at the pharmacy I worked at, too. I don't think it was specifically required by law, but was intended as a courtesy measure to avoid broadcasting people's last names to everyone else in the store.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on August 29, 2012, 12:04:29 PM
Like others have said, you make your preference known: "I prefer Mrs. Crocodile" or some of the other suggested wording.

I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.)

And if they say "Please call me, Joan/John" do you comply?

If they are someone I work with over time and I get to know them, yes.

And if they aren't? What if they're someone you don't know well or who you are only having a single interaction with? Does that mean you ignore the request? If so, that seems every bit as rude as refusing to use your preferred form of address.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Tea Drinker on August 30, 2012, 10:13:11 AM
It must be a lot harder now with the more common use of 'Ms.' 

I'm missing something here. Why is "Please call me 'Ms. Drinker'" harder to deal with than "Please call me 'Mrs. Drinker'" would be?
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Luci on August 30, 2012, 10:43:43 AM
It must be a lot harder now with the more common use of 'Ms.' 

I'm missing something here. Why is "Please call me 'Ms. Drinker'" harder to deal with than "Please call me 'Mrs. Drinker'" would be?

No. It's harder for someone who sees 'Jane Smith' on a credit card or doctor's form to guess whether to call her Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Usually someone could guess the age and almost assume it was Miss or Mrs. Now, with more women not marrying and changing the name and Ms, it is more difficult.

I used to get pretty hostile at Ms. Now, because of eHell, I understand it's use and where it came from and am fine with it. (I'm learning, you see.)
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on August 30, 2012, 11:00:03 AM
It must be a lot harder now with the more common use of 'Ms.' 

I'm missing something here. Why is "Please call me 'Ms. Drinker'" harder to deal with than "Please call me 'Mrs. Drinker'" would be?

No. It's harder for someone who sees 'Jane Smith' on a credit card or doctor's form to guess whether to call her Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Usually someone could guess the age and almost assume it was Miss or Mrs. Now, with more women not marrying and changing the name and Ms, it is more difficult.

I used to get pretty hostile at Ms. Now, because of eHell, I understand it's use and where it came from and am fine with it. (I'm learning, you see.)

That's the lovely thing about "Ms.", it's appropriate regardless of age or marital status! Designed for it, in fact :)
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Judah on August 30, 2012, 05:45:37 PM

No. It's harder for someone who sees 'Jane Smith' on a credit card or doctor's form to guess whether to call her Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Usually someone could guess the age and almost assume it was Miss or Mrs. Now, with more women not marrying and changing the name and Ms, it is more difficult.

I used to get pretty hostile at Ms. Now, because of eHell, I understand it's use and where it came from and am fine with it. (I'm learning, you see.)

That's the lovely thing about "Ms.", it's appropriate regardless of age or marital status! Designed for it, in fact :)

Many married women prefer to be addressed as Mrs, so, in their case, Ms. would be inappropriate.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on August 30, 2012, 05:50:52 PM

No. It's harder for someone who sees 'Jane Smith' on a credit card or doctor's form to guess whether to call her Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Usually someone could guess the age and almost assume it was Miss or Mrs. Now, with more women not marrying and changing the name and Ms, it is more difficult.

I used to get pretty hostile at Ms. Now, because of eHell, I understand it's use and where it came from and am fine with it. (I'm learning, you see.)

That's the lovely thing about "Ms.", it's appropriate regardless of age or marital status! Designed for it, in fact :)

Many married women prefer to be addressed as Mrs, so, in their case, Ms. would be inappropriate.

It wouldn't be inappropriate, at all. Just because they have a preference doesn't make the term rude to use as a starting point. I frequently interact with clients where I have literally zero idea if they're married or not, but the degree of formality precludes me from using their first names...what would you suggest?

The only way "Ms." is rude is if someone has a stated preference to be referred to in a different manner, same as "Miss", "Mrs." or "FirstName".
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Judah on August 30, 2012, 05:53:57 PM

No. It's harder for someone who sees 'Jane Smith' on a credit card or doctor's form to guess whether to call her Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Usually someone could guess the age and almost assume it was Miss or Mrs. Now, with more women not marrying and changing the name and Ms, it is more difficult.

I used to get pretty hostile at Ms. Now, because of eHell, I understand it's use and where it came from and am fine with it. (I'm learning, you see.)

That's the lovely thing about "Ms.", it's appropriate regardless of age or marital status! Designed for it, in fact :)

Many married women prefer to be addressed as Mrs, so, in their case, Ms. would be inappropriate.

It wouldn't be inappropriate, at all. Just because they have a preference doesn't make the term rude to use as a starting point. I frequently interact with clients where I have literally zero idea if they're married or not, but the degree of formality precludes me from using their first names...what would you suggest?

The only way "Ms." is rude is if someone has a stated preference to be referred to in a different manner, same as "Miss", "Mrs." or "FirstName".

I didn't say it was rude, and, you're right that it's fine as a starting point, but once a preference for "Mrs." has been articulated, it would be rude to continue to refer to a person as Ms.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on August 30, 2012, 05:56:44 PM

No. It's harder for someone who sees 'Jane Smith' on a credit card or doctor's form to guess whether to call her Miss, Mrs. or Ms. Usually someone could guess the age and almost assume it was Miss or Mrs. Now, with more women not marrying and changing the name and Ms, it is more difficult.

I used to get pretty hostile at Ms. Now, because of eHell, I understand it's use and where it came from and am fine with it. (I'm learning, you see.)

That's the lovely thing about "Ms.", it's appropriate regardless of age or marital status! Designed for it, in fact :)

Many married women prefer to be addressed as Mrs, so, in their case, Ms. would be inappropriate.

It wouldn't be inappropriate, at all. Just because they have a preference doesn't make the term rude to use as a starting point. I frequently interact with clients where I have literally zero idea if they're married or not, but the degree of formality precludes me from using their first names...what would you suggest?

The only way "Ms." is rude is if someone has a stated preference to be referred to in a different manner, same as "Miss", "Mrs." or "FirstName".

I didn't say it was rude, and, you're right that it's fine as a starting point, but once a preference for "Mrs." has been articulated, it would be rude to continue to refer to a person as Ms.

I guess I was confused as to why it was "inappropriate" for a first attempt, but it looks like we agree on all points.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: camlan on August 30, 2012, 06:01:54 PM
The staff at a department store had been trained to look at the customer's check or credit card and get the customer's first name and use that. It freaked me out to have a total stranger call me by my first name.

Then the rules changed and the staff must have been told to look for the last name and use that. So I was continually called "Mrs. Lancer."

Except that I'm not married and never have been. The first time I heard that, I freaked out a bit more, because to me, "Mrs. Lancer" would refer to my mother, and at that point, she'd be dead for over 10 years. I was very startled and it showed. The saleswoman must have thought I was nuts.

The decision to call me "Mrs." must have been made on my apparent age, mid-30s at the time. I didn't wear any rings at all, so they clearly weren't looking for the most obvious sign that a woman might be married. I guess I was supposed to feel complimented on being called "Mrs." I did not.

I think "Ms." is very appropriate in business situations like that. The salesperson doesn't have to make assumptions about a customer's age or martial status. I do realize that some women would prefer not to be called "Ms." but given the choices between "Miss" "Ms." and "Mrs." and the potential for offending someine by guessing the marital status incorrectly,  it seems to me that "Ms." is the safest choice in a situation where there will not be continued contact between the two parties involved. It's a step more formal than using first names, but doesn't imply any judgement about age or marital status.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Ceallach on August 30, 2012, 06:25:05 PM
Like others have said, you make your preference known: "I prefer Mrs. Crocodile" or some of the other suggested wording.

I find that I really do not like being "first-named" when commencing a business relationship.  (I always show the other party respect by calling them "Mr. Smith" or "Ms. Jones," etc.)

And if they say "Please call me, Joan/John" do you comply?

If they are someone I work with over time and I get to know them, yes.

So you ignore their preferences for their own names in light of your own?  That's rude.  You call them by what they wish to be addressed; to do so otherwise is completely dismiss their wishes regarding themselves.  If it makes you uncomfortable, you can ask, politely of course, "May I please call you Mr. Smith until I know you better?  It makes me uncomfortable to do so otherwise." but you must take "No" for an answer; otherwise, you're being rude.

OP, I'm afraid I also agree with this.    I respect your wish to be addressed a particular way.   However, it seems you're trying to force your preference onto others as well.   That's not right.  If you want them to honour your wishes in how they refer to you, then you need to honour theirs also.    I understand it can be hard though.

When I was a little girl my parents were big on respect, and we were not allowed to call adults by their first name.   One particular couple we knew went by first names even to their own kids.  I was fine referring to them by name, but I would never ever actually *call* them by their first names in front of them because it made me feel terribly uncomfortable.  At the same time, even as a young child I knew it would be rude to disrespect their wishes, so I just avoided using any name at all. e.g. I made sure it was clear I was talking to them and responding, but I wouldn't walk up and say "Hi Sally, how about XYZ?" I'd make sure the conversation happened in such a way that I could skip the name part!   (Not rudely, I might say "Hello, how are you!" for example instead of "Hello Sally!").  I knew if I said "Hi Mrs Jones!" I would be rude, because I'd be disregarding her preference that I was well aware of.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Twik on September 04, 2012, 04:07:27 PM
Actually, I think the OP has an interesting point about being asked to go first-name basis when not ready for it.

There's such a thing as insisting on too much familiarity. Insisting that you be called "Mary" not "Ms Smith" is meant to imply that hey, you're an informal and friendly sort. But it also implies the establishment of a connection. "You MUST call me Mary!" implies that you are already familiar, even friends. This is not something one should be demanding, even if you are willing to offer it.

Of course, in today's society, many people are going first-name with everyone - "Hi, I'm Jill your waiter!" "Great, I'm Sam, your customer!". But particularly for those from an older generation, insisting that they refer to you by an informal address may be forcing them to assume an intimacy that they don't really feel ready for. It's sort of like insisting on giving someone you just met a great big hug in greeting. Some people really don't want this much intimacy before they are willing to reciprocate. As much as one may want to be informal, I think one should have some tolerance for people who don't want to be so close so soon. Particularly if you do not intend for your colleagues or customers to have the same privileges as your friends would.

In addition, I do think that in business you cannot, in politeness, expect to be called Ms. Smith or Dr. Jones, if you are calling your customers or clients John and Mary. Any doctor who would be offended by someone saying, "Hello, Leslie, today I'd like you to check out my sinuses," should be greeting his or her patient with "Hello, Ms (or Mr) Franklin".
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: camlan on September 04, 2012, 04:26:03 PM

In addition, I do think that in business you cannot, in politeness, expect to be called Ms. Smith or Dr. Jones, if you are calling your customers or clients John and Mary. Any doctor who would be offended by someone saying, "Hello, Leslie, today I'd like you to check out my sinuses," should be greeting his or her patient with "Hello, Ms (or Mr) Franklin".

I have to admit that at one time, I needed oral surgery and there was only one oral surgeon in the area who took my insurance and could do the procedure. I just didn't like him--he was condescending, he got my name wrong even after I corrected him (think something along the lines of mispronouncing Ann), he tried to sell me various procedures I didn't need, tried to scare me that I had cancer on my face. He refused to tell me why I had to make several extra visits after the procedure that had not been included in the minimal explanation he had given me at the start (I figured it out eventually--there had been an infection and an abbcess and he was monitoring it until it cleared up, but why not tell me that when I asked?).

So, yeah, at some point, when he called me the wrong name *again*, I started calling him "Tom." His assistants were shocked. He glared at me, but never said anything to me about it. And for two more months, until everything was done, I called him "Tom" and he didn't address me by name at all.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: White Lotus on September 07, 2012, 12:38:06 AM
I think Twik said most of it for me.  Ms. can be used for any woman -- that is the point.  As a seventies feminist who never changed her name despite a long and happy marriage, I don't like being called "Mrs." I think those who do it see it as a mark of respect for an older woman, but we are the women who made it possible for your marital staus to be private, for you to call yourself whatever you like, work at the profession of your choice, get into college on merit, and even attend the college of your choice.  I fought for Ms.
If you don't know I can be called "Dr.", call me "Ms.", not "Mrs."  And certainly not "White."  I am definitely a grown-up and deserve to be treated as one.  Also, suppose my given name was, in full formality, Elizabeth, but I am always called Betsy.  When you start calling me "Elizabeth" you are insisting on calling me by a name I do not use. If you actually knew me well enough to call me by my given name, you would know if it was Theresa, Tess, Terry or Spike.  If you don't know my preferred form of address among my friends, you do not know me well enough to call me anything but Ms., or Dr., Lotus.  Yes, there is a first-name informality among colleagues and even socially, but in business relationships, or as a general rule, it presumes too much.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: marcel on September 07, 2012, 01:18:42 AM
Are you still living in France or are you living in the US? In the  US, the culture just happens to be less formal with names than in some European countries (German transplant to California here).
It is good that you say some European countries, since compared to the Netherlands, the US is still quite formal.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Twik on September 07, 2012, 08:43:30 AM
Just a side-note on the idea that you should always follow the lead of someone who tells you how they want to be addressed:

A few years ago, my company hired a rather ... unusual... employee, who was a Francophone. Upon my being introduced to him, he grinned broadly and announced, "Hi, I'm Pierre. You can call me a frog if you want."

... No, I think I shall not.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on September 07, 2012, 07:14:53 PM
Actually, I think the OP has an interesting point about being asked to go first-name basis when not ready for it.

There's such a thing as insisting on too much familiarity. Insisting that you be called "Mary" not "Ms Smith" is meant to imply that hey, you're an informal and friendly sort. But it also implies the establishment of a connection. "You MUST call me Mary!" implies that you are already familiar, even friends. This is not something one should be demanding, even if you are willing to offer it.

Of course, in today's society, many people are going first-name with everyone - "Hi, I'm Jill your waiter!" "Great, I'm Sam, your customer!". But particularly for those from an older generation, insisting that they refer to you by an informal address may be forcing them to assume an intimacy that they don't really feel ready for. It's sort of like insisting on giving someone you just met a great big hug in greeting. Some people really don't want this much intimacy before they are willing to reciprocate. As much as one may want to be informal, I think one should have some tolerance for people who don't want to be so close so soon. Particularly if you do not intend for your colleagues or customers to have the same privileges as your friends would.

In addition, I do think that in business you cannot, in politeness, expect to be called Ms. Smith or Dr. Jones, if you are calling your customers or clients John and Mary. Any doctor who would be offended by someone saying, "Hello, Leslie, today I'd like you to check out my sinuses," should be greeting his or her patient with "Hello, Ms (or Mr) Franklin".

You hit it right on the head.  Forced intimacy is false and presumptuous.  When a relationship evolves over time, the time for first names will come naturally. 
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: artk2002 on September 11, 2012, 01:14:53 PM
You hit it right on the head.  Forced intimacy is false and presumptuous.  When a relationship evolves over time, the time for first names will come naturally.

The point that several people have been making is that using first names is no longer a sign of intimacy. So, being asked to use someone's first name is not "forced intimacy."
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on September 11, 2012, 01:40:08 PM
I guess we will have to politely agree to disagree.   ;)
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Twik on September 11, 2012, 02:12:19 PM
You hit it right on the head.  Forced intimacy is false and presumptuous.  When a relationship evolves over time, the time for first names will come naturally.

The point that several people have been making is that using first names is no longer a sign of intimacy. So, being asked to use someone's first name is not "forced intimacy."

To you, perhaps not. But obviously, there are many people who may still prefer older traditions.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: artk2002 on September 11, 2012, 08:09:49 PM
You hit it right on the head.  Forced intimacy is false and presumptuous.  When a relationship evolves over time, the time for first names will come naturally.

The point that several people have been making is that using first names is no longer a sign of intimacy. So, being asked to use someone's first name is not "forced intimacy."

To you, perhaps not. But obviously, there are many people who may still prefer older traditions.

Not just to me. It's a societal/cultural shift. Railing against it is just following in Cnut's footsteps.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on September 11, 2012, 08:59:13 PM
You hit it right on the head.  Forced intimacy is false and presumptuous.  When a relationship evolves over time, the time for first names will come naturally.

The point that several people have been making is that using first names is no longer a sign of intimacy. So, being asked to use someone's first name is not "forced intimacy."

To you, perhaps not. But obviously, there are many people who may still prefer older traditions.

Not just to me. It's a societal/cultural shift. Railing against it is just following in Cnut's footsteps.

Exactly; not liking a cultural shift is fine, actively taking offense at it is a little foolish. All you're likely to do is frustrate yourself.

Crocodile, I didn't see it in your previous responses, but what do you do if someone says "Please, call me Mary". Do you call them Mary, or do you refuse to use their preferred form of address and still call them Mrs. Jones?
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on September 13, 2012, 05:46:48 PM
If it was with my work as a coroner, I would use their last names.  If I met you socially and said, "I am happy to meet you, Ms. Jones," and you said "Call me Mary," I would say, "Mary it is.  Please call me Gertrude."
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on September 13, 2012, 05:50:41 PM
If it was with my work as a coroner, I would use their last names.  If I met you socially and said, "I am happy to meet you, Ms. Jones," and you said "Call me Mary," I would say, "Mary it is.  Please call me Gertrude."

Wait, so if you encountered someone in your line of work who asked to be called by their first name you'd refuse? How is that any less rude than if they refused to call you by your preferred form of address? You can still call them Mary and not ask them to call you Gertrude, you know.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on September 13, 2012, 06:29:04 PM
If it was with my work as a coroner, I would use their last names.  If I met you socially and said, "I am happy to meet you, Ms. Jones," and you said "Call me Mary," I would say, "Mary it is.  Please call me Gertrude."

Wait, so if you encountered someone in your line of work who asked to be called by their first name you'd refuse? How is that any less rude than if they refused to call you by your preferred form of address? You can still call them Mary and not ask them to call you Gertrude, you know.

Pod. That's just as rude and I can't see how you would rationalize that.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: MariaE on September 14, 2012, 01:10:52 AM
If it was with my work as a coroner, I would use their last names.  If I met you socially and said, "I am happy to meet you, Ms. Jones," and you said "Call me Mary," I would say, "Mary it is.  Please call me Gertrude."

Wait, so if you encountered someone in your line of work who asked to be called by their first name you'd refuse? How is that any less rude than if they refused to call you by your preferred form of address? You can still call them Mary and not ask them to call you Gertrude, you know.

Pod. That's just as rude and I can't see how you would rationalize that.

Agreed. If you want to be called by your preferred form of address, then you have to respect others by calling them by their preferred form of address too.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: a on September 14, 2012, 06:40:23 AM
Just as a (possible ;-) ) point of interest... In Sweden, in the 60s, a Director of a National Agency started calling all his employees by their first name (a very well known anecdote). That was the start of a national move towards *everyone* always using people’s first names; never anything else. The Swedish ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ are very old fashioned; and in English translations of books into Swedish you’ll see ‘translations’ of ‘Mr Smith’ into ‘Mr Smith’, ie retaining the English title in the Swedish translation, since using the former Swedish one would give the text a very odd flavour.

There is now a slow but steady trend for young people to call older people the formal, in some countries, more polite plural ‘you’ (cf. French vous/German Sie). This is *not liked* by most older people. It is seen as a way of distancing yourself from the other person and could be interpreted as you’re talking down to them. So very often it’s not seen as polite at all. The Swedish Miss Manners regularly responds to questions from young people about this in her column . They think they’re being polite and don’t understand why people don’t like it.

In Sweden I’ve never been called anything other than my first name by anyone (other than as a joke) including friend’s children, children I’ve taught, business relations etc etc. And honorific names for people aren’t just either very much; I’ve never called my uncles/aunts anything other than their first names, it’s just not done. A first phone call from a business relation may start with ‘I’d like to speak to Anna Smith’, but may equally start with ‘Can I speak to Anna please’. Both are equally polite.
It is interesting how things vary and easy to see how easy it is to offend people given that ‘being polite’ can differ so much.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on September 14, 2012, 10:30:15 AM
That's very interesting!  Thank you for sharing!

In both French and German class, I remember specifically being told to use vous and Sie when you don't know someone and that it was rude to use anything else; AND that if you did, that person would find you incredibly rude.  I don't remember the phrases, but I also remember being taught a phrase to ask if you can use the less formal "you" but not to ask it too early or, again, you'd be seen as rude.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: GraceSullivan on September 15, 2012, 11:19:32 PM
I'm wondering how regional this is, too, within the US.  I've lived from coast to coast, and in between.  I currently live in the south (mid-south, not the deep south).  I'm called 'Ms. Sullivan' a lot more here then anywhere else I've lived.  Doctors, co-workers, dentist, etc.  My friends' kids call me 'Miss Grace,' which I already know is regional, since my friends' kids in CA, NY, NJ, etc, call me Grace, which I don't mind, but do get a kick out of 'Miss Grace.'

I will admit to calling those people older then me 'Ms' or 'Mr' more so then someone around my own age (41) or younger.  To the OP: I don't think that a simple "Please call me Doctor (or Ms if you prefer) So and So" is rude at all, and would ultimately make you more comfortable in the situation.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on September 26, 2012, 08:19:08 PM
None of us in the coroner's office called people by their first names (I mean people who were coming to identify loved ones, etc.) because it was a governmental rule for our office protocol.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on September 27, 2012, 10:57:47 AM
None of us in the coroner's office called people by their first names (I mean people who were coming to identify loved ones, etc.) because it was a governmental rule for our office protocol.

So if some grieving spouse comes in to identify her husband's mangled corpse and specifically asks you to call her "Jenny", you refuse?

Cold. Real cold.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: MariaE on September 27, 2012, 11:00:49 AM
None of us in the coroner's office called people by their first names (I mean people who were coming to identify loved ones, etc.) because it was a governmental rule for our office protocol.

So if some grieving spouse comes in to identify her husband's mangled corpse and specifically asks you to call her "Jenny", you refuse?

Cold. Real cold.

Agreed. I realize it's in no way the OP's fault, but that's a horrible rule  :(
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 06:19:19 AM
None of us in the coroner's office called people by their first names (I mean people who were coming to identify loved ones, etc.) because it was a governmental rule for our office protocol.

So if some grieving spouse comes in to identify her husband's mangled corpse and specifically asks you to call her "Jenny", you refuse?

Cold. Real cold.

I can actually see a reason for this. (Although as a side note if the corpse was actually mangled they would likely discourage "Jenny" from trying to visually identify her husband).  I  think that they would want the spouse to understand that they were there for professional reasons but that the coroner's office is a but removed - they do not offer counseling services, though maybe they can refer people.  It might be difficult to maintain the right balance unless there are specific protocols in place to deal with people while maintaining professional distance.  They might be dealing with several wives a week - if they didn't keep some distance the job would take a toll.

Agreed. I realize it's in no way the OP's fault, but that's a horrible rule  :(
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: crocodile on October 10, 2012, 02:45:49 PM
Actually, in the US, police departments and coroners' offices are instructed to call people by their last name and title as a sign of respect, not coldness.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Moray on October 10, 2012, 02:48:31 PM
Understood. I absolutely get that it's intended as a sign of respect.

However, if someone asks you to call them Mary, you call them Mary, especially if you expect your own request to be called "Ms. O'Dile" instead of "Croc" to be respected. To do otherwise is hypocritical.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: MariaE on October 11, 2012, 01:44:20 AM
Understood. I absolutely get that it's intended as a sign of respect.

However, if someone asks you to call them Mary, you call them Mary, especially if you expect your own request to be called "Ms. O'Dile" instead of "Croc" to be respected. To do otherwise is hypocritical.

Yup. That's my point exactly. Defaulting to Mr/Mrs/Ms is absolutely a sign of respect. Insisting on staying with that form of address when specifically asked otherwise, is a huge sign of disrespect.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on October 11, 2012, 01:56:14 AM
Understood. I absolutely get that it's intended as a sign of respect.

However, if someone asks you to call them Mary, you call them Mary, especially if you expect your own request to be called "Ms. O'Dile" instead of "Croc" to be respected. To do otherwise is hypocritical.

Yup. That's my point exactly. Defaulting to Mr/Mrs/Ms is absolutely a sign of respect. Insisting on staying with that form of address when specifically asked otherwise, is a huge sign of disrespect.

ITA, and you said it so much better than I could have.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: White Lotus on October 18, 2012, 11:01:00 PM
I completly agree with Ms. Crocodile.   I hate being first-named by people who could be my children.  I was raised -- and in the USA -- that one addresses anyone one's parents' ages and up by title and surname until one is asked to do otherwise, and taught my children to do the same, with some exceptions for colleagues of equal professional status.  This is especially egregious when I say, "Hi,  I am Dr. Lotus" and am immediately called "Whitey," a nickname I have never, ever used.  This is also a serious problem with first-naming people.  People are very commonly called by nicknames, not the full formal forms of their given names, or the reverse.  Is she called Susan, Sue, Suzie, or Suz? Is she called Elizabeth, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Bess, Liz -- what?  If she is called Peggy, she may not even know who you are talking about when you call out "Margaret."  Is it Theresa, Tess, Terry or perhaps Louise, her middle name?   But if you call any of these women "Ms. Lee" you really cannot screw up.  I usually respond, "I have never in my life been called that.  Dr. Lotus will do."
I  also HATE being called "MRS."   I am a "Dr."  or a "Ms." (Ph.D.)  It is not in the least respectful to address the women who fought to make a marital status neutral title for women available by a title that identifies them by a presumed marital status.  And I am so close to 60 I can just about touch it.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on October 18, 2012, 11:17:36 PM
I completly agree with Ms. Crocodile.   I hate being first-named by people who could be my children.  I was raised -- and in the USA -- that one addresses anyone one's parents' ages and up by title and surname until one is asked to do otherwise, and taught my children to do the same, with some exceptions for colleagues of equal professional status.  This is especially egregious when I say, "Hi,  I am Dr. Lotus" and am immediately called "Whitey," a nickname I have never, ever used.  This is also a serious problem with first-naming people.  People are very commonly called by nicknames, not the full formal forms of their given names, or the reverse.  Is she called Susan, Sue, Suzie, or Suz? Is she called Elizabeth, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Bess, Liz -- what?  If she is called Peggy, she may not even know who you are talking about when you call out "Margaret."  Is it Theresa, Tess, Terry or perhaps Louise, her middle name?   But if you call any of these women "Ms. Lee" you really cannot screw up.  I usually respond, "I have never in my life been called that.  Dr. Lotus will do."
I  also HATE being called "MRS."   I am a "Dr."  or a "Ms." (Ph.D.)  It is not in the least respectful to address the women who fought to make a marital status neutral title for women available by a title that identifies them by a presumed marital status.  And I am so close to 60 I can just about touch it.

So people should automatically just know by looking at you that you're a doctor or that you despise Mrs. even though you're married (assuming you're married in this case...if you're not married, should they automatically just know you're not?)?  The only point at which I think it becomes disrespectful is when you voice your preference and then a person ignores it.  Up until that point, I don't think it's disrespectful at all.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Margo on November 16, 2012, 08:02:17 AM
I completly agree with Ms. Crocodile.   I hate being first-named by people who could be my children.  I was raised -- and in the USA -- that one addresses anyone one's parents' ages and up by title and surname until one is asked to do otherwise, and taught my children to do the same, with some exceptions for colleagues of equal professional status.  This is especially egregious when I say, "Hi,  I am Dr. Lotus" and am immediately called "Whitey," a nickname I have never, ever used.  This is also a serious problem with first-naming people.  People are very commonly called by nicknames, not the full formal forms of their given names, or the reverse.  Is she called Susan, Sue, Suzie, or Suz? Is she called Elizabeth, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Bess, Liz -- what?  If she is called Peggy, she may not even know who you are talking about when you call out "Margaret."  Is it Theresa, Tess, Terry or perhaps Louise, her middle name?   But if you call any of these women "Ms. Lee" you really cannot screw up.  I usually respond, "I have never in my life been called that.  Dr. Lotus will do."
I  also HATE being called "MRS."   I am a "Dr."  or a "Ms." (Ph.D.)  It is not in the least respectful to address the women who fought to make a marital status neutral title for women available by a title that identifies them by a presumed marital status.  And I am so close to 60 I can just about touch it.

So people should automatically just know by looking at you that you're a doctor or that you despise Mrs. even though you're married (assuming you're married in this case...if you're not married, should they automatically just know you're not?)?  The only point at which I think it becomes disrespectful is when you voice your preference and then a person ignores it.  Up until that point, I don't think it's disrespectful at all.

People can't be expected to know by looking whether you are a Doctor, but  calling someone 'Mrs' makes two presumptions - first that they are married, and secondly that they are happy to be called Mrs.

This is why we have 'Ms' as it doesn't carry those assumptions. And we've had it for at least 50 years now, it's not as though it's a temporary or uncommon fad.

It's about starting with respect.

If you don't know someone, then you begin by adressing them formally as Mr. X or Ms. X. They can then let you know if they prefer a different form of address, whether it is to say (politely) "Oh,. it's Dr X, actually, or "I prefer Mrs X" or "Please call me Liz".

I think that **particualrly** in a professional setting, calling someone Miss or Mrs where they have not already expressed a preference is less respectful then calling them Ms, which is a neutral word.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on November 16, 2012, 01:32:09 PM
I completly agree with Ms. Crocodile.   I hate being first-named by people who could be my children.  I was raised -- and in the USA -- that one addresses anyone one's parents' ages and up by title and surname until one is asked to do otherwise, and taught my children to do the same, with some exceptions for colleagues of equal professional status.  This is especially egregious when I say, "Hi,  I am Dr. Lotus" and am immediately called "Whitey," a nickname I have never, ever used.  This is also a serious problem with first-naming people.  People are very commonly called by nicknames, not the full formal forms of their given names, or the reverse.  Is she called Susan, Sue, Suzie, or Suz? Is she called Elizabeth, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Bess, Liz -- what?  If she is called Peggy, she may not even know who you are talking about when you call out "Margaret."  Is it Theresa, Tess, Terry or perhaps Louise, her middle name?   But if you call any of these women "Ms. Lee" you really cannot screw up.  I usually respond, "I have never in my life been called that.  Dr. Lotus will do."
I  also HATE being called "MRS."   I am a "Dr."  or a "Ms." (Ph.D.)  It is not in the least respectful to address the women who fought to make a marital status neutral title for women available by a title that identifies them by a presumed marital status.  And I am so close to 60 I can just about touch it.

So people should automatically just know by looking at you that you're a doctor or that you despise Mrs. even though you're married (assuming you're married in this case...if you're not married, should they automatically just know you're not?)?  The only point at which I think it becomes disrespectful is when you voice your preference and then a person ignores it.  Up until that point, I don't think it's disrespectful at all.

People can't be expected to know by looking whether you are a Doctor, but  calling someone 'Mrs' makes two presumptions - first that they are married, and secondly that they are happy to be called Mrs.

This is why we have 'Ms' as it doesn't carry those assumptions. And we've had it for at least 50 years now, it's not as though it's a temporary or uncommon fad.

It's about starting with respect.

If you don't know someone, then you begin by adressing them formally as Mr. X or Ms. X. They can then let you know if they prefer a different form of address, whether it is to say (politely) "Oh,. it's Dr X, actually, or "I prefer Mrs X" or "Please call me Liz".

I think that **particualrly** in a professional setting, calling someone Miss or Mrs where they have not already expressed a preference is less respectful then calling them Ms, which is a neutral word.

It is neutral to you. Some women absolutely abhor it.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: violinp on November 16, 2012, 02:58:25 PM
I completly agree with Ms. Crocodile.   I hate being first-named by people who could be my children.  I was raised -- and in the USA -- that one addresses anyone one's parents' ages and up by title and surname until one is asked to do otherwise, and taught my children to do the same, with some exceptions for colleagues of equal professional status.  This is especially egregious when I say, "Hi,  I am Dr. Lotus" and am immediately called "Whitey," a nickname I have never, ever used.  This is also a serious problem with first-naming people.  People are very commonly called by nicknames, not the full formal forms of their given names, or the reverse.  Is she called Susan, Sue, Suzie, or Suz? Is she called Elizabeth, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Bess, Liz -- what?  If she is called Peggy, she may not even know who you are talking about when you call out "Margaret."  Is it Theresa, Tess, Terry or perhaps Louise, her middle name?   But if you call any of these women "Ms. Lee" you really cannot screw up.  I usually respond, "I have never in my life been called that.  Dr. Lotus will do."
I  also HATE being called "MRS."   I am a "Dr."  or a "Ms." (Ph.D.)  It is not in the least respectful to address the women who fought to make a marital status neutral title for women available by a title that identifies them by a presumed marital status.  And I am so close to 60 I can just about touch it.

So people should automatically just know by looking at you that you're a doctor or that you despise Mrs. even though you're married (assuming you're married in this case...if you're not married, should they automatically just know you're not?)?  The only point at which I think it becomes disrespectful is when you voice your preference and then a person ignores it.  Up until that point, I don't think it's disrespectful at all.

People can't be expected to know by looking whether you are a Doctor, but  calling someone 'Mrs' makes two presumptions - first that they are married, and secondly that they are happy to be called Mrs.

This is why we have 'Ms' as it doesn't carry those assumptions. And we've had it for at least 50 years now, it's not as though it's a temporary or uncommon fad.

It's about starting with respect.

If you don't know someone, then you begin by adressing them formally as Mr. X or Ms. X. They can then let you know if they prefer a different form of address, whether it is to say (politely) "Oh,. it's Dr X, actually, or "I prefer Mrs X" or "Please call me Liz".

I think that **particualrly** in a professional setting, calling someone Miss or Mrs where they have not already expressed a preference is less respectful then calling them Ms, which is a neutral word.

It is neutral to you. Some women absolutely abhor it.

POD. I would much rather be referred to as "Miss Violinp Lastname" rather than "Miz* Violinp Lastname," because the latter is trying to imitate or make more obvious a Southern accent, which is just confusing to me. I don't see "Miss" as bad and "Mrs." as good - they merely denote marital status for the women who choose to change their last names. That said, women who prefer to go by "Ms." should be called what they wish to be called, and refusing to do so is quite rude.

*That's how Ms. is pronounced, to the best of my knowledge.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: turnip on November 16, 2012, 03:03:37 PM
I completly agree with Ms. Crocodile.   I hate being first-named by people who could be my children.  I was raised -- and in the USA -- that one addresses anyone one's parents' ages and up by title and surname until one is asked to do otherwise, and taught my children to do the same, with some exceptions for colleagues of equal professional status.  This is especially egregious when I say, "Hi,  I am Dr. Lotus" and am immediately called "Whitey," a nickname I have never, ever used.  This is also a serious problem with first-naming people.  People are very commonly called by nicknames, not the full formal forms of their given names, or the reverse.  Is she called Susan, Sue, Suzie, or Suz? Is she called Elizabeth, Beth, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Bess, Liz -- what?  If she is called Peggy, she may not even know who you are talking about when you call out "Margaret."  Is it Theresa, Tess, Terry or perhaps Louise, her middle name?   But if you call any of these women "Ms. Lee" you really cannot screw up.  I usually respond, "I have never in my life been called that.  Dr. Lotus will do."
I  also HATE being called "MRS."   I am a "Dr."  or a "Ms." (Ph.D.)  It is not in the least respectful to address the women who fought to make a marital status neutral title for women available by a title that identifies them by a presumed marital status.  And I am so close to 60 I can just about touch it.

So people should automatically just know by looking at you that you're a doctor or that you despise Mrs. even though you're married (assuming you're married in this case...if you're not married, should they automatically just know you're not?)?  The only point at which I think it becomes disrespectful is when you voice your preference and then a person ignores it.  Up until that point, I don't think it's disrespectful at all.

People can't be expected to know by looking whether you are a Doctor, but  calling someone 'Mrs' makes two presumptions - first that they are married, and secondly that they are happy to be called Mrs.

This is why we have 'Ms' as it doesn't carry those assumptions. And we've had it for at least 50 years now, it's not as though it's a temporary or uncommon fad.

It's about starting with respect.

If you don't know someone, then you begin by adressing them formally as Mr. X or Ms. X. They can then let you know if they prefer a different form of address, whether it is to say (politely) "Oh,. it's Dr X, actually, or "I prefer Mrs X" or "Please call me Liz".

I think that **particualrly** in a professional setting, calling someone Miss or Mrs where they have not already expressed a preference is less respectful then calling them Ms, which is a neutral word.

It is neutral to you. Some women absolutely abhor it.



People can like or dislike whatever they want, but what do women who abhor the title Ms. expect the medical assistant at the Doctor's office to do when she needs to call for Jane Smith?    People don't need to like Ms. but I hope they can appreciate that it's the best default title if we are going to stick to titles.

Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: TurtleDove on November 16, 2012, 03:04:59 PM
I  prefer to be  called "Turtle Dove" or just "Turtle."  When I was married I preferred to be called "Turtle Dove" or just "Turtle."  Professionally, I prefer to be called "Turtle Dove" or just "Turtle." It's my name, after all.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: TurtleDove on November 16, 2012, 03:08:02 PM
People can like or dislike whatever they want, but what do women who abhor the title Ms. expect the medical assistant at the Doctor's office to do when she needs to call for Jane Smith?    People don't need to like Ms. but I hope they can appreciate that it's the best default title if we are going to stick to titles.

At my doctor's office they call for "Turtle."  I've never heard them use a title.  Perhaps this is regional but in my area it would be quite contrived to call someone "Ms. Dove" or "Miss Dove" or "Mrs. Dove." Professionally, if someone insists on calling me "Ms. Dove" I take it as an insult or an intentional slight.  It's just not done around here.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: violinp on November 16, 2012, 03:10:10 PM
People can like or dislike whatever they want, but what do women who abhor the title Ms. expect the medical assistant at the Doctor's office to do when she needs to call for Jane Smith?    People don't need to like Ms. but I hope they can appreciate that it's the best default title if we are going to stick to titles.

At my doctor's office they call for "Turtle."  I've never heard them use a title.  Perhaps this is regional but in my area it would be quite contrived to call someone "Ms. Dove" or "Miss Dove" or "Mrs. Dove." Professionally, if someone insists on calling me "Ms. Dove" I take it as an insult or an intentional slight.  It's just not done around here.

Yeah, no one ever calls for someone saying "Title Lastname" at my doctor's office either. It's just "Firstname Lastname."
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Twik on November 16, 2012, 03:11:40 PM
Actually, in my doctor's office, the call is for "Twik Twikerson?" (always with a slight questioning inflection, as if wondering if I'm still out there). No "Ms" or "Mrs/Miss" issue at all.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: turnip on November 16, 2012, 03:40:55 PM
People can like or dislike whatever they want, but what do women who abhor the title Ms. expect the medical assistant at the Doctor's office to do when she needs to call for Jane Smith?    People don't need to like Ms. but I hope they can appreciate that it's the best default title if we are going to stick to titles.

At my doctor's office they call for "Turtle."  I've never heard them use a title.  Perhaps this is regional but in my area it would be quite contrived to call someone "Ms. Dove" or "Miss Dove" or "Mrs. Dove." Professionally, if someone insists on calling me "Ms. Dove" I take it as an insult or an intentional slight.  It's just not done around here.

Yeah, no one ever calls for someone saying "Title Lastname" at my doctor's office either. It's just "Firstname Lastname."


Right - but the whole of this thread started off with someone being insulted at the use of their firstname!    I mean - I take a "just don't call me late to dinner" approach, so it's no skin off my nose, but it seems to me that we've decided that every form of address is going to insult someone.    Perhaps we could all instead have a little sympathy for the Doctor's assistant/check out girl/restaurant hostess and not take their attempt to get our attention as a personal judgement.

- "insult or an intentional slight" - really?  What do you think they are saying about you or your character by calling you Ms Dove?  And I get it may be regional, but people must come from outside the region sometimes? 
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: TurtleDove on November 16, 2012, 03:49:35 PM
- "insult or an intentional slight" - really?  What do you think they are saying about you or your character by calling you Ms Dove?  And I get it may be regional, but people must come from outside the region sometimes?

I am a lawyer and generally speaking we all talk to each other using first names, regardless of whether we are cocounsel or opposing counsel.  If I ask a colleague, coworker, or counsel with whom I am negotiating to call me "Turtle" and he or she insists on calling me something else, that comes across as an insult or intentional slight.  They are saying nothing about my character and a lot about theirs.  For what it's worth, I work nationwide and generally speaking, even in Southern states, other lawyers who uphold professional courtesy call me "Turtle" and I call them by their first names.  In my experience, lawyers who insist on calling me "Ms. Dove" do so not as a sign of respect but rather as a show of "I refuse to be friendly - our clients are at war and therefore so are we." 
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: turnip on November 16, 2012, 04:02:05 PM
- "insult or an intentional slight" - really?  What do you think they are saying about you or your character by calling you Ms Dove?  And I get it may be regional, but people must come from outside the region sometimes?

I am a lawyer and generally speaking we all talk to each other using first names, regardless of whether we are cocounsel or opposing counsel.  If I ask a colleague, coworker, or counsel with whom I am negotiating to call me "Turtle" and he or she insists on calling me something else, that comes across as an insult or intentional slight.  They are saying nothing about my character and a lot about theirs.  For what it's worth, I work nationwide and generally speaking, even in Southern states, other lawyers who uphold professional courtesy call me "Turtle" and I call them by their first names.  In my experience, lawyers who insist on calling me "Ms. Dove" do so not as a sign of respect but rather as a show of "I refuse to be friendly - our clients are at war and therefore so are we."

That makes more sense - I think I misread you as saying that if a office assistant you never met before called you "Ms. Dove" you'd take it as a slight.

Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Biker Granny on December 12, 2012, 07:31:42 AM
I personally don't care if it's Ms or Mrs. ::)  Never been anything for me to get excited about.  I will say at 50 I'm not over fond of being called Miss.

My generation grew up calling out friends parents and other elders Mr and Mrs.

My children's generation was more relaxed.  It was Mrs./Ms/Miss Mary or Mr. Joseph....never just the 1st name.

And if my Doctor's title has nothing to do with the social or business setting, I don't feel it's necessary to use it and I never point it out.  I also feel that is rude.

I have no problem if someone points out that they prefer the more formal but I agree with the others that if one starts out with the Mr/Mrs and it's stated that the less formal is preferred, it's just as important to respect those wishes.

Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: AuntieA on December 12, 2012, 10:25:05 PM
I am (almost - 13 days away) 58 years old. I am okay with former co-workers (including physicians), family, and business contacts with whom I have an established relationship (like the folks at my local Save-On Foods+ their pharmacy) calling me Audrey. I am also okay with individuals from workplaces where I am applying for work using my first name. However, when dealing with persons in a business capacity where the person in question has never met me, I do not want to be addressed by my first name.

Case in point - a few weeks ago, I had arrived home after shopping, and was approached by a gentleman in his thirties who was near the door of the townhouse two away from mine. He asked me, "Are you Audrey?". Turns out he is from the condominium association and wanted to ask me about a voting issue. I was in a rush and therefore didn't emphasize my desire to be addressed as Ms. AuntieA. The next time, though, I will correct him/them.

When out in a restaurant, store, or other venue where they don't know my name, I am okay with Miss, Ma'am,m or even Lady. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of restaurant servers have defaulted to the overly-casual and IMO insulting "You Guys", and that I find offensive. "You Folks" is far more palatable.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on December 12, 2012, 10:27:24 PM
I am (almost - 13 days away) 58 years old. I am okay with former co-workers (including physicians), family, and business contacts with whom I have an established relationship (like the folks at my local Save-On Foods+ their pharmacy) calling me Audrey. I am also okay with individuals from workplaces where I am applying for work using my first name. However, when dealing with persons in a business capacity where the person in question has never met me, I do not want to be addressed by my first name.

Case in point - a few weeks ago, I had arrived home after shopping, and was approached by a gentleman in his thirties who was near the door of the townhouse two away from mine. He asked me, "Are you Audrey?". Turns out he is from the condominium association and wanted to ask me about a voting issue. I was in a rush and therefore didn't emphasize my desire to be addressed as Ms. AuntieA. The next time, though, I will correct him/them.

When out in a restaurant, store, or other venue where they don't know my name, I am okay with Miss, Ma'am,m or even Lady. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of restaurant servers have defaulted to the overly-casual and IMO insulting "You Guys", and that I find offensive. "You Folks" is far more palatable.

I have to ask...why?  What's the difference?  In the past few decades, guys has failed to mean only males and rather means a group of people regardless of gender.  That doesn't mean it doesn't bother you, but I still wonder why.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Aeris on December 13, 2012, 01:18:40 PM
I am (almost - 13 days away) 58 years old. I am okay with former co-workers (including physicians), family, and business contacts with whom I have an established relationship (like the folks at my local Save-On Foods+ their pharmacy) calling me Audrey. I am also okay with individuals from workplaces where I am applying for work using my first name. However, when dealing with persons in a business capacity where the person in question has never met me, I do not want to be addressed by my first name.

Case in point - a few weeks ago, I had arrived home after shopping, and was approached by a gentleman in his thirties who was near the door of the townhouse two away from mine. He asked me, "Are you Audrey?". Turns out he is from the condominium association and wanted to ask me about a voting issue. I was in a rush and therefore didn't emphasize my desire to be addressed as Ms. AuntieA. The next time, though, I will correct him/them.

When out in a restaurant, store, or other venue where they don't know my name, I am okay with Miss, Ma'am,m or even Lady. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of restaurant servers have defaulted to the overly-casual and IMO insulting "You Guys", and that I find offensive. "You Folks" is far more palatable.

I have to ask...why?  What's the difference?  In the past few decades, guys has failed to mean only males and rather means a group of people regardless of gender.  That doesn't mean it doesn't bother you, but I still wonder why.

The only thing I can figure is the formality. I'll admit that I'd be surprised if I were at Chez Fancy and the waiter said 'you guys', because it would seem more casual than the setting. It wouldn't *bother* me at all, though, just seem incongruous.  But if you're going to someplace like T.G.I.Fridays, you (general) really have to accept that they are selling a casual atmosphere - and in a casual atmosphere, addressing a group as 'you guys' is perfectly appropriate.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Yvaine on December 13, 2012, 01:30:53 PM
POD. I would much rather be referred to as "Miss Violinp Lastname" rather than "Miz* Violinp Lastname," because the latter is trying to imitate or make more obvious a Southern accent, which is just confusing to me. I don't see "Miss" as bad and "Mrs." as good - they merely denote marital status for the women who choose to change their last names. That said, women who prefer to go by "Ms." should be called what they wish to be called, and refusing to do so is quite rude.

*That's how Ms. is pronounced, to the best of my knowledge.

It is Miz, but as far as I know it doesn't actually have anything to do with a Southern accent, and indeed I don't even think it's used as much in the South as it is in some other locales. I think Miss has a popularity in the South that it no longer has in other areas, and it is sometimes pronounced kind of like Miz too, but as far as I know they're not really connected.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: magicdomino on December 13, 2012, 02:41:21 PM

Right - but the whole of this thread started off with someone being insulted at the use of their firstname!    I mean - I take a "just don't call me late to dinner" approach, so it's no skin off my nose, but it seems to me that we've decided that every form of address is going to insult someone.     Perhaps we could all instead have a little sympathy for the Doctor's assistant/check out girl/restaurant hostess and not take their attempt to get our attention as a personal judgement.

I noticed this while reading this thread.  Every form of address has at least one person who doesn't care for it, and I think every form has had someone who is downright offended.  Of course, if you ask to be called something in particular, your wishes should be respected.  But please don't take it personally if someone guesses wrong on the first try.

My two cents, for what it's worth:  I strongly prefer to be addressed by my first name, because dealing with my last name is annoying.  The letters do not correspond to the sounds, so it is invaribly mispronounced. (Think D'amanjaugh) Then I have to repeat it two or three times, adding that the person should not look at it while trying to pronounce it, because it doesn't sound anything like it looks. (Ignore the apostrophe and that ugh at the end.  The j is silent.  Yes, those a's really are pronouced like long o's.)  Then I'm asked where it comes from, and I explain that it is from one Eastern European country to another, and then got mangled a second time through Ellis Island.  Or I can skip the whole pronounciation thing, and hope I recognize it if my last name is called.

Aw the heck with it.  Just call me Magic.   :)
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: CNN on December 20, 2012, 07:47:59 AM
I find this discussion fascinating. I come from a country and culture where I would not even dream of calling my elders by name. My family is a bit more relaxed about the rules ( I have cousins more than 15 years younger than me that call me by name) but most people here would not even dream of calling an elder by name. If you don't know the person's name, you address the person as Oga, Madam, Auntie, Uncle etc., anything that might sound polite.

I was wondering what people like me should do if they come to a setting where their elders asked to be addressed by their first name? Because the first time I visited the USA, a man old enough to be my grandfather asked me to call him "Jim" and I just couldn't do it. I could almost feel the spirits of my ancestors preparing to give me a hot slap if I tried it. Since it was a one off interaction, I managed to get through the conversation without addressing him by name but I don't know to do if I ever encounter that sort of situation again.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Emmy on December 20, 2012, 12:51:22 PM
DH volunteered in an English as a Second language program a few years ago.  One of his students was a woman from France and her and DH talked about her culture.  I remember DH mentioned that in France, often people don't volunteer their first names until after they know somebody quite well and it would be considered an invasive question to ask a stranger their first name.  If I have my facts straight, I can see why the OP considers it so rude even though it is very common place in US culture.  On the same note, in that culture, it would probably feel odd to address somebody you just met by their first name, even if they insisted, because it is considered to be a fairly intimate thing.  However, when in Rome do as the Romans do.  It would be unfair for the OP to wish to be addressed in a way that makes her comfortable, yet not be willing to respect that wish for somebody else. 

As a child, I was taught to use surnames for pretty much every adult.  Some of my parents close friends I used Aunt or Uncle and first name.  They had a few friends who dropped by the house on a regular basis and they would be the only adults we called by first name.  In college, my professors introduced themselves by their title, usually Dr.  I graduated college and worked in an academic setting, however everybody in my small office went by their first name.  It felt funny at first because I was so used to being the student and using title and surnames.  At meetings with other professionals, they always introduced themselves by their first name.  It seemed once I became an adult in the working world, I entered the club on being in a first name basis with colleagues, even those much older, and with high titles such as doctorates.  I realize other working cultures may be different.

Teachers in the US are referred to Mr. or Ms. (or Miss or Mrs.) Surname while students are referred to by first name.  In an all adult working environment, is it rude for a boss or older person to refer to somebody by their first name while expecting to be addressed by a title and surname?   

Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on December 20, 2012, 03:48:11 PM
DH volunteered in an English as a Second language program a few years ago.  One of his students was a woman from France and her and DH talked about her culture.  I remember DH mentioned that in France, often people don't volunteer their first names until after they know somebody quite well and it would be considered an invasive question to ask a stranger their first name.  If I have my facts straight, I can see why the OP considers it so rude even though it is very common place in US culture.  On the same note, in that culture, it would probably feel odd to address somebody you just met by their first name, even if they insisted, because it is considered to be a fairly intimate thing.  However, when in Rome do as the Romans do.  It would be unfair for the OP to wish to be addressed in a way that makes her comfortable, yet not be willing to respect that wish for somebody else. 

As a child, I was taught to use surnames for pretty much every adult.  Some of my parents close friends I used Aunt or Uncle and first name.  They had a few friends who dropped by the house on a regular basis and they would be the only adults we called by first name.  In college, my professors introduced themselves by their title, usually Dr.  I graduated college and worked in an academic setting, however everybody in my small office went by their first name.  It felt funny at first because I was so used to being the student and using title and surnames.  At meetings with other professionals, they always introduced themselves by their first name.  It seemed once I became an adult in the working world, I entered the club on being in a first name basis with colleagues, even those much older, and with high titles such as doctorates.  I realize other working cultures may be different.

Teachers in the US are referred to Mr. or Ms. (or Miss or Mrs.) Surname while students are referred to by first name.  In an all adult working environment, is it rude for a boss or older person to refer to somebody by their first name while expecting to be addressed by a title and surname?   

As long as that other person prefers to be called by his or her first name (or doesn't care either way), no, it isn't rude.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: JeanFromBNA on December 23, 2012, 08:10:09 PM
DH volunteered in an English as a Second language program a few years ago.  One of his students was a woman from France and her and DH talked about her culture.  I remember DH mentioned that in France, often people don't volunteer their first names until after they know somebody quite well and it would be considered an invasive question to ask a stranger their first name.  If I have my facts straight, I can see why the OP considers it so rude even though it is very common place in US culture.  On the same note, in that culture, it would probably feel odd to address somebody you just met by their first name, even if they insisted, because it is considered to be a fairly intimate thing.  However, when in Rome do as the Romans do.  It would be unfair for the OP to wish to be addressed in a way that makes her comfortable, yet not be willing to respect that wish for somebody else. 

As a child, I was taught to use surnames for pretty much every adult.  Some of my parents close friends I used Aunt or Uncle and first name.  They had a few friends who dropped by the house on a regular basis and they would be the only adults we called by first name.  In college, my professors introduced themselves by their title, usually Dr.  I graduated college and worked in an academic setting, however everybody in my small office went by their first name.  It felt funny at first because I was so used to being the student and using title and surnames.  At meetings with other professionals, they always introduced themselves by their first name.  It seemed once I became an adult in the working world, I entered the club on being in a first name basis with colleagues, even those much older, and with high titles such as doctorates.  I realize other working cultures may be different.

Teachers in the US are referred to Mr. or Ms. (or Miss or Mrs.) Surname while students are referred to by first name.  In an all adult working environment, is it rude for a boss or older person to refer to somebody by their first name while expecting to be addressed by a title and surname?   
A former teacher from France, who was living in the US temporarily with her husband, told me that she would ask her new primary school students whether they preferred "tous or vous."

I think that more US teachers are accustomed to their students addressing them by their first names, or so I have found on this board.  I still find it awkward.

In business, I think that the environment should be either formal or informal for every person working there.  My employees are told to address people formally at first, and call them what they prefer when invited to do so.  We're almost always given the green light to refer to someone by their first name or nickname. 
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: onyonryngs on December 26, 2012, 04:21:11 PM
Coming into this one a bit late, but my mom is 68 and this wouldn't bug her at all.  These people don't sound like they're trying to be disrespectful.  I would politely correct them with, "Actually, I prefer Dr. Crocodile."  But I have to say, my doctor gets to see parts of my friends don't and I don't him calling me by my first name.
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: norrina on December 27, 2012, 05:16:52 PM
I was a paralegal in North Carolina for 6 years, and am now an attorney in South Carolina, so I have been dealing with clients in the mid-south for a while now. A lot of my correspondence is by email, and my general rule with emails is that if the client signs their email FirstName LastName I respond to Mr/Mrs/Miss LastName, but if they sign FirstName only then I respond to FirstName. If we aren't corresponding by email then I call the client Mr/Mrs/Miss LastName until they explicitly invite me to call them FirstName, or there is some other indication that that is their preference (some clients will not outright request a first name basis, but our relationship will otherwise indicate that a first name basis is appropriate). As a PP has already mentioned, first names are used between attorneys, and there are some other professionals I will also default to first name usage with; for instance, I am a volunteer guardian ad litem, and use first names with DSS caseworkers.

I don't use "Ms.", if I don't know a woman's marital status I refer to her as "Miss". This began at the direction of my previous boss, who told me that some southern women would take offense to "Miss". I was raised in Maine, and there "Ms." was common. After my boss directed me to use "Miss" rather than "Ms." I started to pay attention to what others were doing; I found that in NC and SC I was/am called "Miss LastName", but when I lived just outside of DC for 2 years (between living in NC and SC), I was called "Ms. LastName".
Title: Re: Being addressed by first name
Post by: Mental Magpie on December 27, 2012, 05:25:21 PM
I was a paralegal in North Carolina for 6 years, and am now an attorney in South Carolina, so I have been dealing with clients in the mid-south for a while now. A lot of my correspondence is by email, and my general rule with emails is that if the client signs their email FirstName LastName I respond to Mr/Mrs/Miss LastName, but if they sign FirstName only then I respond to FirstName. If we aren't corresponding by email then I call the client Mr/Mrs/Miss LastName until they explicitly invite me to call them FirstName, or there is some other indication that that is their preference (some clients will not outright request a first name basis, but our relationship will otherwise indicate that a first name basis is appropriate). As a PP has already mentioned, first names are used between attorneys, and there are some other professionals I will also default to first name usage with; for instance, I am a volunteer guardian ad litem, and use first names with DSS caseworkers.

I don't use "Ms.", if I don't know a woman's marital status I refer to her as "Miss". This began at the direction of my previous boss, who told me that some southern women would take offense to "Miss". I was raised in Maine, and there "Ms." was common. After my boss directed me to use "Miss" rather than "Ms." I started to pay attention to what others were doing; I found that in NC and SC I was/am called "Miss LastName", but when I lived just outside of DC for 2 years (between living in NC and SC), I was called "Ms. LastName".

I think this is the perfect way to handle it.

On another note, almost all of the offenders refer to all of the female staff (unless that female staff has rank) as Miss FirstInitialOfLastName or Miss LastName, like Miss S or Miss Smith.  The age, race, apparent marital status, or position of the female staff does not change what the offenders refer to them as.  I have been paying close attention.  The age, race, apparent marital status, or crime does not change between offenders who refer to female staff as such.  Those who do not refer to female staff by Miss LastName usually just use LastName, Officer, or Officer LastName.  I just thought this would be interesting to add.