[Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay]
Names matter to most of us, as they’re a critical aspect of communication. We have multiple ways to address an individual but what really counts is asking a person what name he or she prefers.
One role I have (that I imagine many of my readers also have), is that of patient. The medical/dental staff who have full access to my records, often refer to me as ma’am. To me, that’s an extremely formal style of address and one that I view as unacceptable. My preference is to either simply call me by first or last name or to be asked what I prefer. It’s easy enough to accomplish this by saying “What do you like to be called?” or “May I call you…?” When this type of address is used, it helps personalize the conversation. I view it as making the effort to speak with me in a way that is appropriate. It is also more desirable to me.
When someone uses “sir” or “ma’am” it signals to me that it’s an easy out vs. taking the extra step of using a name or asking preference, as I indicated, especially when my name is known. If a name is unknown, you may consider introducing yourself first “Hi, my name is _____, what is your name?” If you encounter the situation where you’re unsure of how to correctly pronounce a name you may say “I want to say your name correctly, so please tell me how you say it.
I understand usage of sir or ma’am is considered a sign of respect in some cultures, however that may only be your perspective. What truly matters is what I’ve stated and placing the importance on what the other person prefers. Try it and see how it works out for your situation.
You’re welcome to contact me with any questions you have 518-664-6004.