Open Thread

by epi on September 16, 2011

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Liam Lynch September 16, 2011 at 8:50 am

Dear Friends,

I am wondering if there is an etiquette to printed names on business cards? There are so many ways to write a name, I am a little confused.

For example, someone named William David Smith works for a Silicon Valley computer company. His friends call him Bill. Which is most appropriate to have printed on a business card?

1. Mr. William Smith
2. Mr. William D. Smith
3. William “Bill” Smith
4. William D. Smith
5. Bill D. Smith
6. Bill Smith

Is there some kind of rule for when you use your middle initial? Does it depend on one’s status in the company? Example:

Billy Smith
Shipping and Receiving

vs.

Mr. William D. Smith
Chief Financial Officer

Thanks for any help you can provide,

Liam

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Elizabeth September 16, 2011 at 9:42 am

It is not typical to include Mr./Mrs. on a business card. You would include an honorific like Dr., though.

It is also best to include one’s fill name, and not the nickname – unless the nickname is used by everyone (friends and business contacts) and it is significantly different than one’s given name. The business cards are presumably not for friends, but for business associates, so full name is best irrespective of position in the company. (Sometimes people do include their nickname in their card, but only if it is really different than their given name and only if everyone calls them that. Example: Jonathan “Skip” Rockford.)

I’m not so sure about middle initials. I have never included my middle initial on a business card. But perhaps if your name was kind of generic, like William Smith, the middle initial could help introduce some difference or something unique into the name.

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Winifred Rosenburg September 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

Actually, a doctor wouldn’t write “Dr.” on his business card. He would write “, M.D.” after his name. As far as the middle initial goes, it’s entirely personal preference as to what you want to be known as professionally. Either way is fine.

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TootsNYC September 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

You never, ever, use “Mr.” or any other honorific to refer to yourself.

Other people use it. You never do.
It’s an honorific. It’s tremendously conceited to honor yourself.
It’s also a term of address–you don’t talk to yourself. Especially not on a business card.

I wouldn’t even put “Dr.” on a business card–I would put “Matthew Johnson, M.D., A.A.F.P.” or whatever other initials indicate your medical degrees and certifications.
And then a line that gives your specialty, just like a job description.

In person you could call and say, “This is Dr. Johnson,” because saying, “This is Matthew Johnson” doesn’t give the other person enough information.
Or the principal or teacher at your kid’s school might say, “I’m Mr. Fruner.”

But in business, it would be best to say, “I’m Marsha Gonzalez” or “This is Philip Waxmann.”

And absolutely never in writing would you refer to yourself as “Mr.” or “Dr.” or such.

Status in the company has nothing to do w/ the form.
You should use your formal name (and not terms of address) in whatever way makes it easy for people to know it’s you.

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Carmen September 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I need help! How do I politely tell someone standing behind me at the checkout stand to give me my space while I take care of my transaction with the cashier. I am looking over my transactions while they are being run up, I have my coupons in hand & store card. I also need to pay by bank card or cash. These people are looking inside of my purse! I have tried in the past to keep a shopping cart behind me, and being people have tried to move it out of their way! But if I don’t keep my shopping cart behind me people think they have the right to stand right over my shouder as I handle my transactions with the cashier. I have tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, by setting a good example with the previous person who stood in front of me. But it’s outrageous, how people seem to think that they should be right behind my “butt” as I am trying to check out. When I ask the person to move back and give me some space they act like I just offended them! They all of a sudden are the victim! And I have egg on my face! Please help. I am at a loss on how to handle this situation. Thank you.

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Jodi Blackwood September 17, 2011 at 3:00 am

Hi Carmen,
Try including a little humor in your request; you will still be able to get your point across while at the same time indicating that no offense is intended. For example, after you have stepped up to the cashier and feel someone moving in behind you, glance over with a smile (you are saying, “Ok, I see you”. ) Then go back to your business. If the person still continues to press in on you, again glance over, still smiling. Each time you look at the person, you are acknowledging their presence, and often times that is enough to cause people to recognize boundaries. If they still persist, look them in the face, smile and say something along the lines of “Gosh, may I ask you to back up a step or two? I have serious claustrophobia issues and it’s feeling very crowded in the store today!” Then continue to look the person in the eye, still smiling, until they do so. A form of intimidation by body language? Perhaps, but if they have over-stepped into your personal space and not taken the hint from your glances, so what. If the person responds in any other way except “Oh, sorry” or stepping back, they are going to look like the unreasonable party in the interaction; you have been friendly and pleasant through-out, made a very reasonable request and have absolutely no cause to be embarrassed.

If you continue to use the shopping cart-behind-you-method, when someone attempts to move it, simply turn to them, again, smiling, and say “Oh, I will be taking that with me when I finish” or something similar. (In other words, paws off!) The key is your tone of voice and the expression on your face; that is what will set the tone as to how people may interpret your intentions. If they take it as anything but friendly, that is their issue.

One other suggestion … keep your purse on the opposite side of your body and if need be, turn your body slightly away as you open it up and delve inside. No one has any need to see what you carry with you and your body language will signal that it’s not available for view.

I hope these suggestions help!

Reply

Elizabeth September 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

I think the easiest thing to do would be to say, quietly, “Hey, do you mind giving me a little room?” Then, you turn back to the cashier, focus on completing your transaction and most importantly don’t wait for a reaction from the other person. If you don’t make a scene, they won’t either.

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Elizabeth September 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm

This is not so much a question, but just a pet peeve of mine. Today I was at a coney island – for those of you unfamiliar with this Michigan institution, it’s like a diner that serves both Greek food and chili dogs. It is a very casual kind of establishment. I had a very good waitress who had the very unfortunate habit of responding to “thank you” with either a singsongy UH-huh, or a weird fast thankyou. Not a “no, thank YOU”, but a weird restatement. Mostly she just said “UH-huh.” It was so off-putting, I longed for a “you’re welcome,” a “sure thing,” or even a “no problem.” It made me actually want to avoid saying thank you! I realize there’s nothing to be done…but yikes it was terribly grating!

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Nina September 18, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I feel for you, Elizabeth–totally grating. But try not to let it get to you. When you work in customer service, you say the same thing so many times in a row, it can lose all meaning after a long shift. If the waitress had been there 8 hours, she probably had no idea her tone had become so odd–it was just a mechanical reaction to hearing the words “thank you.” When I was a waitress, I always technically polite, but it came out a little weird sometimes. Then I realized I wasn’t cut out for that line of work!

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