Over at Miss Snark’s some folks get all snooty when agents address them by first name. I find their crankiness weird and am wondering if it’s a generational thing or because (as another commenter says) I’m Australian and we’re
less uptight more relaxed than USians.
Personally, I’m more squicked when people insist on using a title with my name. My name is Justine Larbalestier, it’s not Ms Justine Larbalestier, certainly not Miss or Mrs Justine Larbalestier and you’re risking life and limb if you ever use Mrs Scott Westerfeld, though FYI Scott adores being called Mr Justine Larbalestier.
If you must use a title the correct one’s actually Dr, which I’m not wild about either, but at least I earned that one after almost four years of blood, sweat and tears (oh, yes, tears, lots and lots and lots of tears).
But how to negotiate this web of correct name/title useage? Even though I think it’s fusty and weird to want to be addressed by a title I also don’t want to offend anyone (not unintentionally anyways). So what are you supposed to do when some folks will spit the dummy if you don’t use a title, and others if you do?!
Here’s my cunning solution: echo how they sign off. If they sign off Dr Massively Stuckup, then you respond thus:
- Dear Dr Massively Stuckup
And sign off how you would prefer to be addressed:
But what to do if you’re the one writing the first letter? If you have a mutual acquaintance ask them. Otherwise play it safe. In the US of A I would use title plus full name (unless I can’t figure out whether they’re a sheila or a bloke or whether they have a phd or not in which case I’d use full name). In Australia I use full name sans title. Then I wait for the reply and adjust my salutation accordingly.
Aren’t you lucky to have me here to solve all etiquette problems?