Author Topic: Being addressed by first name  (Read 23711 times)

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White Lotus

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2012, 01:38:06 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.

marcel

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2012, 02:18:42 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.
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Twik

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2012, 09:43:30 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.
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crocodile

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2012, 08:14:53 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. 

artk2002

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2012, 02:14:53 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."
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crocodile

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2012, 02:40:08 PM »
I guess we will have to politely agree to disagree.   ;)

Twik

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2012, 03:12:19 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.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

artk2002

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2012, 09:09:49 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.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Moray

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2012, 09:59:13 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?
Utah

crocodile

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #39 on: September 13, 2012, 06:46:48 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."

Moray

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #40 on: September 13, 2012, 06:50:41 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.
Utah

Mental Magpie

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #41 on: September 13, 2012, 07:29:04 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.
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MariaE

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #42 on: September 14, 2012, 02:10:52 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.
 
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a

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #43 on: September 14, 2012, 07:40:23 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.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Being addressed by first name
« Reply #44 on: September 14, 2012, 11:30:15 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.
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