Boss insist that you call h/her by last name. Boss calls you by first name...


I think so, I used to have a boss like this many years ago. I hated that woman for just that reason. It’s almost as if she thought of herself as a higher form of life.

Any other opinions on this?

I agree it’s pretentious, if the boss insisted that you call her Ms. <lastname>.

Otherwise, could it just have been the case that she liked her last name better? Sort of like Kramer on Seinfeld? Though that is a bit unusual, especially for a woman.

I knew one woman at my office, a lower-level supervisor, who tended to call everybody by their last names, especially when speaking about someone. In that case I didn’t think it was pretentious, but rather that she simply wanted to recapture the old-fashioned sort of corporate culture where everyone goes by last name, and the boss is Mr/Ms <last name>.

Personally I’ve never worked in a company that was anything other than first names, but then i’ve only had 2 jobs. None of my friends have a job where they have to call superiors Mr Smith or whatever either. Because that’s what I am used to I think I would fint it a little strange if I went to the job where the boss insisted on being called Mr Smith, or Sir or whatever.

I’d be amused - probably smiling inwardly the first 20 times I called out his/her last name.

But always, always, I’d wonder why this boss wants to be addressed by his last name. I think I’d figure it out, eventually.

Hell…I call my HUSBAND by his last name. All the time. If I use his first name, you can assume the shit has hit the fan.

I call one of my bosses by his last name, but I don’t use “Mr.” with it. The others I call by their first names. If someone EXPECTS the Mr. LastName treatment, and especially if he doesn’t address me in kind, trouble’s a-brewing. I think this person will probably have delusions of grandeure and I won’t be working for him for long.

It’s pretentious. Also a dominance ploy.

The rules of polite society dictate that if someone calls you by your first name, they’ve implicitly granted permission for you to do the same. The exception being conversations between adults and children.

I’ve had this problem a couple of times. Mostly with physicians. You know, you’re waiting in the little examination room, and the doctor walks in and says hi, [insert first name]. I look at his or her ID badge and say, hi there yourself, Bob [or whatever], and the doctor gets all huffy. I actually enjoy this.

My mother works as a clerk at Walgreens, where they require all non-supervisor employees to call supervisors Mr/Ms/Mrs. Lastname or sir/ma’am. This leads to the absurd occurrence of a pharmicist with six years of post-secondary education calling a pimply-faced kid straight out of community college making considerably less money sir. I found it bizarre.

I used to call bosses Mr/Ms/sir/ma’am, but after I got chewed out about it a few times, I stopped. (“Alright, sir.” <growl> “Don’t call me sir!” Eep! If you want an environment where everyone’s comfortable referring to each other casually, then you shouldn’t yell at someone for something so utterly stupid.)

I still call my boss M and she still calls me Bond…


I was a teenager in the seventies when I worked as an order-picker at Best Products.

It was policy that EVERYONE was referred to as Mr/Ms/Miss/Mrs Lastname.

At that point in my short life, I’d only been called “Mr Lastname” when I was in trouble.
Always made my blood pressure rise a bit when someone called my name.
Thank goodness it was only seasonal work for Christmas.

First day at work I called my boss “Mr. Mxx” and he laughed. I continued to call them Mr. Mxxx for a couple days until he finally walked into my office one afternoon with a beer and said “Relax. Finish up what you’re doing - we’re drinking beer out back. Come on.”
Now we refer to each other with whatever derogatory name we can come up with. It’s like a game to become the most creative insulter. Since I’m on the SDMB, I almost always win.

Sounds like a combination of insecurity and a need to establish dominance, SHAKES.

Just because of the cultural norms here, I address most of my co-workers, including my boss, by their last names, although there are a few who use other nicknames. When I first introduced myself, I told them to call me by my first name (half of it anyway) so that’s what everyone else uses.

My boss (Japanese guy) is extremely casual, but we had an American co-worker a while back who had really bought into the whole “code of the samurai” nonsense and would really freak out if we addressed the boss as anything but “shacho-san” (“Mr. President”). Once we learned that, we took special pains to address the boss as rudely as possible whenever samurai-dude was within earshot. We told the pres why we were doing it, and he got a real kick out of watching the guy cringe every time one of us would hand him (the pres) some papers with “here you go, butthead.”


And how in hell can anyone say shacho-san, once, much less three times quichly?

Thanks for a most amusing tale.

I work in a medical center, so I do this daily. I always address doctors as “Dr. Lastname”, they call me by my first name. I’ve never had any of them insist on it, but the issue hasn’t come up as that’s what I always use.

It’s a dominance hierarchy thing.

It’s a dominance thing. Draw the line when he tries to hump your leg.

We call all the vets Dr. Whatever, although quite a lot of them are fine with us calling them by first name, especially the younger ones. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that almost all of them refer to one another as Dr. Whatever when talking to us. Well, except for the married couples, they’ll often use first names. The interns usually also call the attendings Dr. Whatever, even though the attendings call them by first name.

I’ve noticed the same sort of thing with Dr.J. He calls the other residents by first name, but refers to them as Dr. Whatever when talking to various staff, and he never calls the attendings anything but Dr. Whatever.

Perhaps she was a frustrated teacher or college professor.

Coulda been worse though. If she was a frustrated cop, she would’ve insisited upon being addressed as Officer Lastname.

You know, just the other day we had an interview candidate in who was extremely proper about titles. It actually freaked me out a litte. When she came in, I introduced my self by first name. When I showed her to the conference room, she said, “Thank you, ma’am.”

I am a 24 year old admin, wearing jeans and flip-flops. I am not a ‘ma’am’. I offered her chex mix and diet coke; she said, “No thank you, ma’am.”

She met with my boss. I went back to my desk. On her way out, she said, “Nice to meet you, Miss. . .” With that expectant look, she waited for me to tell her my last name. I smiled and said, “Obsidian is fine.”

She sort of grimaced a little, and then said, “It was nice to meet you, Ma’am,” and left.

Turns out it disturbed my boss as well. My company may be lean a little more than most on the ‘dotcom’ side as far as corporate culture, but this is still silicon valley and all. Where did this woman work before where people enforced sir/ma’am?

Was she ex-military maybe?

I think you’re right and it stems from a lack of hugs.

Hug them, they’ll melt, and suddenly their heart will grow three sizes.

Or… not.