Friday, July 22, 2011

"You Can Call Me By My First Name: Doctor"

These were the first words spoken by one of my professors on the first day of class. He was attempting to seem tough to weed out the people who wouldn't do the work in class, but it brought up an interesting point in my mind. Where has all the respect gone?

I think this was the first professor many people respected

I would like to ask you, dear reader, to think back a few years. Near the end of his presidency, what did many people call George W. Bush (This isn't a trick question, smart alack)? Many people referred to him as Mr. Bush. Now, that may sound alright, but think about it. He was President of the United States of America, whether you like it or not. His title should have been, at all times, President Bush. The same thing happened with Barack Obama. People were so used to saying "mister," they referred to him as Mr. Obama, instead of Senator or, later, President Obama.

Now let's get a little closer to home. How many of you are on a first name basis with your bosses?  Or your Professors? Instructors? Anyone in a higher position than you? Seems great, doesn't it? You can get all chummy with them, forget the formalities, and just be happy with your relationship with them. But do you realize how many problems that actually causes? Think about it. How much harder is it to tell a friend that they messed up than an underling? How much more difficult is it to command respect in a crisis if everyone thinks they're on the same level when the situation needs a leader? The answer is a lot. Some people just don't get this. There needs to be a distinction in the hierarchy, and titles serve this purpose.

To go along with respect of position, how about respect of accomplishment? If someone go through college, gets through grad school, and miraculously gets their Ph.D, shouldn't this be commemorated in no other way than to say "Dr. Derp?" If someone puts eight or more years in with a company and gets promoted to manager, should they not be referred to "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Herp" to show respect to their hard work? Something as simple as a title can do wonders in establishing the chain of command and, in some instances, making it harder to shift responsibility to someone else (Yes, that was a jab at bad bosses. I'm not completely putting down the little man here).

There are people like me and my friends who use titles as a show of respect out there, and usually it's appreciated. But then there are people in the higher up positions that try to buck the titles system. "Dr. Kevorkian" insists on being called "Jack" (this is just an example). In the classroom, office, or treatment room, "Jack" seems to be a cool guy. Then a group of people in the setting you picked above start to cause some trouble for "Jack." "Jack" needs to do something to curb this behavior before he gets put down. But because he has never commanded the respect he deserves and needs, he is detained by the situation, rendering him ineffective. (I had more fun writing that than I should have...)

You see it everyday in some businesses. Just the other day at my job, one of my coworkers came in thirty minutes late. The supervisor on duty, who insists on being called by her first name, should have and had the authority to send him home for being so late (his shift was already covered). But, because there was no line of distinction between friend and boss, she couldn't find it in her to send him home. Think of the hard feelings if she had made the call herself! So she had to call her boss (who had the day off) to make the call to send him home. Same result, but it took longer and more people than needed got involved. And in a business atmosphere, wasted time is wasted money.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't be friends with your boss. Go ahead. They're a person too. But there needs to be some distinction and some respect shown in the work environment. Yes, you can play golf with "Sally" on Saturday. But on Monday, you had better have your TPS reports on "Ms. Bakersfield's" desk by 5 p.m.

Sure, this may seem elitist, but we know that this system works. I reference the military. "General Jackson," "Private Stern," "Captain Pierce," just to show some examples. There are hardly any problems identifying the chain of command there, and part of that is due to the titles they hold. This system may not exactly work well in the civilian world (though I would like to see this to some extent), but the simple Mister, Missus, or Miss does go a long way in ensuring order is maintained and things get done in the proper way.

Titles help in more ways than many people know. Sure, they may be a hassle, and yes, we may not respect the person to whom the title belongs, but the chain of command needs to be clear and respect needs to be given when it is due. And when push comes to shove, if nothing else it makes the higher up's job easier by allowing them to do their job without having to step on an underling's toes.

What do you think? Too elitist? Or were our grandparents right about showing respect through titles? Tell me what you think! Leave a comment or contact me so we can discuss this!

No comments: