Author Topic: Being addressed by first name  (Read 24797 times)

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Aeris

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2012, 09:40:28 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.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2012, 09:49:35 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.
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Yvaine

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2012, 11:17:23 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.

Moray

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2012, 01:04:29 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.
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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2012, 11:13:11 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?
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Luci

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2012, 11:43:43 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.)

Moray

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2012, 12:00:03 PM »
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 :)
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Judah

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2012, 06:45:37 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.
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Moray

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2012, 06:50:52 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".
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Judah

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2012, 06:53:57 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.
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Moray

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2012, 06:56:44 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.
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camlan

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2012, 07:01:54 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.
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Ceallach

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2012, 07:25:05 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.
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Twik

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2012, 05:07:27 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".
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camlan

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2012, 05:26:03 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.
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