In today’s business world there can be a common debate among individuals starting their careers on how to address people, especially clients, managers or connections with whom you are beginning a new relationship. Do you use their first or last name? The old standard rule is to start with the most formal approach and then let the situation direct you from there. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case!
A long time ago, I taught myself to address people by their first name. Of course, there are some exceptions. In the course of business, especially starting at such a young age, I strived to be seen, treated, and respected as an equal. Again, there are some exceptions!
I am not promoting disrespect, but rather equal respect. The motivation for breaking down formalities and the execution of my tactics has evolved with the evolution of Anthem. Now I preach to my younger team members and interns to never use “Mr. Blah-blah,” but rather address that person by their name, whether they are internal or external to Anthem. I believe that it not only humanizes the interaction, but conveys a level of confidence and maturity as well. Addressing someone by Mr. or Mrs., could imply not just that you are younger but rather less experienced and subordinate.
While there are still going to be traditionalists that disapprove of the informality, I believe that addressing people by their first name in the business world is becoming relatively common.
When I was 16 years old, my goal was to make myself seem as if I was at the same level as some of the senior or more seasoned professionals I would communicate with (However, the purpose now is to make my dialogue sincere, human, and truly interpersonal. This tactic does wonders for productivity and comfort level among employees.
Leading through respect is better than intimidation. As it turns out, the lessons that I learned at just 16 and 17 years old still apply today. If companies adopt this practice of communicating on a first name basis, my belief is that only positivity comes from it. It’s obvious to me that if employees have confidence in themselves and feel equal to other team members, they will more successfully contribute to the overall organization’s wellbeing and have more personal satisfaction.