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Is it rude for my boss to call me by my last name only?

Dear Ms. Puhn:

Is it rude for a supervisor to address an individual in a professional setting by their surname? I contend that it is. Using my surname as an example, "Abernathy, there's an assignment for you." I would think that proper etiquette requires the statement to be, "Mr. Abernathy, I have an assignment for you," or "Dan, I have an assignment for you." I found the use of my surname objectionable and contend that I am correct. Could you give your opinion, please?
-Daniel Abernathy

Dear Mr. Daniel Abernathy,

Your boss is making a communication blunder when he calls you by your last name only, without your permission to do so. Your boss does this without thinking and, in fact, may view it as a sign of friendship. Since this communication blunder is a problem for you, here's the solution:

Use the rule "Complain with Impact" from my book Instant Persuasion. Let your boss save face and present him with your complaint and a solution at the same time. Ask your boss for a few minutes of uninterrupted time. Tell him "I value working at the company and enjoy working you, but I'm uncomfortable when addressed by my last name only. I would appreciate it if from now on, instead of calling me "Abernathy" you call me Mr. Abernathy or Dan. Can you please do that?"

Remember that you don't have to accept anything the way it is. Your words are your power. So if you think someone is being rude to you, speak up persuasively, diffuse the situation, and ask for what you want.

Best wishes!
Laurie Puhn, J.D.

Jen, one of our blog readers had this to say:

I work at a retail store where the norm is to call everyone from the lowliest door greeter to the manager himself by his or her first name only. I don't like this. It's always been my understanding that we use each other's last names in our speech as a form of respect. And we should always preface it with the correct form of address: Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Miss. I think it erases the boundaries between employer and employee a little when that reminder to be respectful is left out.
Rant over.



What to do about a LOUD talker?

There's this person that rides on our local transit bus every morning. She talks and talks and talks. When she stops, it's not for very long. When she speaks to someone that person has to "Jump in and fast" to get a word in edgewise. She is hard of hearing in one ear, so she talks REALLY LOUD and the drivers have tried to get her to quiet down, but they fail every time. I tried non-verbal hand messages and facial expressions to let her know that she should stop talking, but it doesn't work. What should I do? How could this woman be so unaware of how rude she is?
-Mallory from Washington

A blog reader's response...
There are times when honesty is the best policy. Why don't you sit next to her and when she starts a conversation with you, tell her, "I am tired and I do not want to have a conversation. I want to sit here in silence." If she starts talking to you, say it again. Other people on the bus who overhear you saying this to her will probably copy your words the next time she starts to talk to them.
-David Harris



One Reader's Top 5 Rudeness Pet Peeves

In response to my question about regional rudeness from my Dec. 30 entry, one of our readers replied her Top 5 Rudeness Pet Peeves:

I live in Michigan but am originally from the south. I have encountered so many rude people in Michigan that it is staggering. Many factors constitutes rudeness and I'll list a few I have encountered.

1 - People in lines at stores butt into a line instead of going to the back of the line.

2 - Inviting oneself to join someone at their lunch table uninvited.

3 - Backstabbing with gossip and lies (and being from the Bible Belt this is a hard pill to swallow).

4 - Becomming a non-stop talker without coming up for breath and showing no interest in what someone else has to say. Monopolizing a conversation is extremely rude, especially on the phone.

5 - Undermining another person is exceeding rude but seems to be prevelent in the city where I live.
...by anonymous

Do you have any more rude behaviors you want to add to the list? Submit a comment and I will add your grievance to the list on this blog.



The New York Times & Movie Theater Rudeness

One readers' thoughts on comments on a letter to The New York Times:

Ruth Block said...

It was in today's New York Times that I read a letter concerning rudeness at movie theaters. To quote: "People behave as if they are in their own living rooms, with no regard for others around them. Strangely enough, the worst offenders are adults, who should know better."

This made me think up some ideas as to how otherwise decent moviegoers would react to such misbehavior, instead of being passive. They could move to another seat, if one is available, or complain to an usher or the management. They could also wish that the offender's cellphone would get confiscated. And acting on the principle of strength in numbers, this could even result in a grassroots-type group, similar to the Straphangers' Campaign.

I even toyed with a few last-resort measures, but then decided against them. They were: dumping a bucket of popcorn over the offender, name-calling, or saying "Hurricane, hurricane, hurricane!"

Perhaps otherwise decent moviegoers could even finally give in and be rude themselves (as in the saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!")

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