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Senior to Senior: Please Use My Name

Do you bristle when a stranger, or a new acquaintance, has the audacity to call you by your first name? It seems that many people, especially seniors, feel that this is a disrespectful breach of etiquette. The sound of your name should be music to your ears. Your parents put a great deal of thought into giving you a name that would reflect how much you meant to them. It was the first word that you heard and the first word that you understood. It became your identity. Your name is a part and parcel of who you are. It is the one thing that has remained constant throughout your entire life. So when did the issue of not wanting to hear your given name crop up? If you are offended when someone addresses you by your given name, it could be a sign that your sense of “self” has been eroded. When did a title become more important, more respectful, more meaningful, than your own given name? The next time someone, not in your immediate social circle, asks if they can call you by your first name, you might want to give them a break. It might be that a professor is trying to sound less judgmental or condescending. It could be that your doctor is trying to be friendly, or that he/she wants you to know that they see you as a person and not just a diagnosis. If you feel insignificant when someone addresses you by your first name, it is more your problem than theirs. You are certainly within your rights to request a more traditional form of address but be sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Yes, people are more informal these days, but isn’t that a good thing? It means that they are trying to connect on a one-on-one basis. We complain that interpersonal relationships are strained these days, so try to think of this informality as an attempt to bridge the gap. Let go of petty annoyances and be glad that someone wants to talk to you at all.

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