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Addressing people in America

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My partner and I are visiting a relative of his in the States next year. His relative will also be introducing him to some potential clients so it's sort of a working holiday.

This is probably a silly questions, but in Australia we address pretty much everyone by first name (except for, of course, teachers, police officers, judges, etc) and it would be very strange, when introduced to Bob Jones, to say, "Nice to meet you Mr Jones."  But in America, I believe the norm is to address people as Mr/Mrs Lastname until they say it's okay to use their first name, is that right?  These will be business contacts and obviously we want to make a good first impression.

Not sure if it makes any difference, but we'll be in Oregon.

Actually, I'm not sure that is the norm. No one ever addresses me as Mrs. Lastname except some children. No adults do.

In a business setting, you may want to err on the side of more conservative by using Mr. or Ms. Lastname until told to do otherwise, but my guess is you'll get, "Oh, call me Bob," right away.

Oregon is likely to be pretty laid back.

I'm on the East Coast, which has a different culture than the Pacific Northwest. In business situations, if the person is a client or way up the food chain, I default to Mr./Mrs. In peer-to-peer settings, I go by first name.

I think it depends a lot on the type of client/business as well.   Tech work is usually more casual than, say, banking or finance where it may be less common to be on a first-name basis immediately with someone you just met.

Since the relative will be introducing you, if they use a title in the introduction, go with that title unless the new person says otherwise:

"I'd like you to meet Mr. Jones/Mr. Bob Jones"  (Stick with Mr. unless the guy immediately says "Oh call me Bob")

or "I'd like you to meet Bob Jones" (he's probably cool with Bob)

Or skip it altogether - I have only rarely had reason to use someone's name in a conversation with them and it's perfectly acceptable to leave off their name entirely when returning a greeting or when addressing them.  I've had many conversations with people only to realize much later that I couldn't remember their name at all because it was never used after the initial introduction.  (Not a good thing for remembering names but I would say it's pretty common)

While modern manners are more relaxed than in generations past, you will never offend someone by referring to them as Mr./Mrs./Miss-they may say "Please, call me Penelope!" But if they don't, you will know that they prefer the more formal form of address. This would be especially true of someone a bit older or much higher on the food chain.


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