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A couple of weeks ago, I asked the question “How do you address your boss in a conversation with them?”. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. I don’t know that the results are surprising.
My takeaway from this poll was that the way we address others is important. It can have an impact on organizational culture. For example, the work environment where everyone refers to each other as Mr./Ms. LAST NAME is going to be very different from the workplace where people have office nicknames.
I could see this being important to share during the recruiting process. What if I’ve always worked someplace where we addressed each other by first name and now I’m expected to address others as Mr./Ms. LAST NAME? That could be a significant adjustment. Especially, if I believe that using a person’s first name is a way to create a friendly environment.
On the other hand, people might feel that saying Mr./Ms. LAST NAME is a sign of respect. Many of us were raised in a culture that used Mr./Ms. for that reason. It might also include the use of sir/ma’am. The challenge with this is if some people are addressed as Mr./Ms. and others aren’t. Does that mean I respect one person and not the other? And if an employee is told to address their manager with Mr./Ms. that doesn’t mean respect comes along with it.
Again, the way we address others is important. It’s important to the person and it sets a tone in the working relationship. If you have questions about how to address someone, just ask. And you can explain why. How do you prefer to be addressed? It’s important to me to address you properly.
And if you have a preferred way that you would like to be addressed, mention it early. Hi! I’m Dr. LAST NAME but you can call me INSERT WHATEVER HERE.
We all have the ability to positively contribute to company culture by letting others know how to address us. It might seem like a simple thing, but when we talk with others and use their name properly, it makes a big difference in the way a message is received. And that is what creates the impact on company culture.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Las Vegas, NV30