What should I call you?
Does it bother you if someone you’ve never met before addresses you in a familiar way? For example, if they use your first name, rather than Mr/Mrs/Ms or other title plus your surname.
Some of my friends object strongly to being addressed by their first name by their bank manager, for example, or to receiving emails or letters from strangers which start Hi [first name], rather than Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms [surname].
It doesn’t bother me in the slightest if strangers call me Simon rather than Mr Ager. In fact I prefer informality to formality any day. However I do tend to correct mispronunciations of my surname.
When I reply to emails I tend to take my lead from how to sender has addressed me. If they start with ‘Dear Mr Ager’, then I’ll use the same formular to reply. Some even award me other titles, such as professor or Dr, which I have no claim to. If they start with ‘Hi Simon’, then I’ll reply in a similar way. Some start with ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘To the webmaster’, which is just lazy – it’s not as if my name is hidden away.
When talking to people face to face I tend not to use their names at all, unless there are several people and I want to get a particular person’s attention. Sometimes this is because I don’t know or can’t quite remember their names, but usually it’s just a habit.
Inspired by a post on Linguism.