Hey Mister! How To Address People Properly


July 17, 2013

*A gem from the dusty archives…

mr mrsMy mother joined the workforce in the sixties.  She was a small town girl who came to the “big city” of St. Louis (don’t laugh) and found work at Dempsey Tegeler & Co as a bond teller.  I always picture her going to work in her perfect little suit, pencil skirt and short, fitted “smart” jackets.  And of course, she always had heels and a purse to match.  After all, she was a proper young woman working in the big world.

One thing that strikes me is that even today, she still refers to her boss as “Mr. Stanek“.  I think that stands out because I do not remember the last time that I called a boss “Mr.” or “Mrs.” anything.  And that is sad.  I’ve always been respectful and for some odd reason when I address people I tend use their first and last name.  For example, when I called my friend Paul yesterday, I said, “Hello Paul Hebert.  This is Trish.”

Working in healthcare, I never quite know when to use the title “Dr.” or when to just use the person’s first name.  I usually listen to how they introduce themselves or how other people address them a majority of the time.  Going with that seems to be a safe bet.

I’m finding that most professionals prefer for you to just call them buy their first name and I’ve experienced this from the highest level executives.

How about you?  What is the best way to address people in today’s world?  Should we be more traditional or are there other accepted professional ways to address each other?  I’d love to hear how you handle this.  Share in the comments.

One Comment

  • They say that everything old becomes new again. We have seen the pendulum swing so very far in terms of informality that it may be time for a swing back…some may yearn for a return to being addressed in a way that suggested respect and not instantaneous “best friend” status. My personal pet peeve is a group of women being addressed as “Hi, guys” by restaurant service people – and my tip reflects that!

    I have found that when I greet people as Mr. or Ms. it has been very appreciated. And if they make the call about wishing to be addressed by their first name – then and only then would I presume to use that familiar convention. It is the presumption of closeness that is irksome to many. I have read that manners will become the new business currency – and that folks who are adept at social skills and graces will be making a comeback.

    If that’s the case, for me, it would be very good news.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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