I'm going to sound like one of those older folks who says, “Those young whippersnappers today have no sense of respect.”
I think about this from time to time. In my job, proper protocol is essential. You call people by their proper title at all times, whether they are higher than you on the food chain or lower. Everyone has a title and this is what should be used to address them.
This is how it should be done. “Should” being the operative word.
I was at a work event the other day where a bunch of other sections came together to celebrate how we work together. It was a nice event with some of the politicians in the state too, and the governor even came to speak to us. It was a lot of fun, but as I walked around after during the post-social hour, I found myself confused as to how to address some of the folks.
During the event we were in our formal attire and so of course every one was by title. But in the bar afterward, suddenly they became Joe and Marty and Cathy and Bob. Now I work with these folks, so the first name basis isn't a big deal because we all know each other.
But this morning, while I was thinking about that, I thought about a moment last October when I was visiting a friend. We were going to go to a college game of the team he loves; as he puts it, “I bleed maroon and white.” yeah yeah. Anyway, his whole family is associated with the school one way or another – whether they attended school there or work there or just bleed love for them. Well, my friend asked his brother in law, “What do you think Jim* was thinking when he took out Scott* last week?” (*names changed because I can't remember what they were). My friends BIL turned to him and said, “Well, I'm not on a first name basis with Jim so I don't know what he thinks.”
For some reason this popped into my head today. I was thinking about how people I work with call each other by first names, because we work together and we just can't be “bothered” with titles as we should. But it extends beyond just our co-workers. It seems to flow into all the conversations, even with people you meet for the first time.
Now, don't get me wrong. We're a small organization and for the most part we do all know each other, and often on a first-name basis. But should we be using that in the workplace? What happened to protocol and proper addressing of elders or even one another?
Another story, when I was in elementary school I was talking with my father about teachers and I said, “I love Lambert. He's so great!” And my dad stopped me, “Moe, his name is MR. Lambert. Not just Lambert.” I said, “Well, why can I call Mr. Gunderson “Gundy” then?” Dad had said, “You can call him Gundy outside of school because we are neighbors and you play with his daughter, but at school you need to call him Mr. Gunderson and show him that respect.”
Is that what it comes down to? Respect? If I call Boss1 by his first name (which I never do, it just seems wrong), is that disrespecting him? I know I get annoyed when my co-workers will call him by his first name, but I don't do it either. There are a few of my bosses I call by my first name, and it's not that I don't respect them, it's just how I've always known them.
I struggle with this because I like that we're a close enough organization that we can be on a first-name basis, but it also pains me when it doesn't seem to be right.