First names or second?


    One of the other things Tommy Weir talked about was the need to be sensitive to status issues. That in the Middle East he allows his bags to be carried by someone for example, so as not to be seen as inferring that he’s unworthy to have his bags carried for him.  And I also thought it was interesting that he was referred to in the agenda as simple Tommy Weir, whereas in the UAE, I’ve only ever come across him addressed as Doctor Tommy.

This got me thinking further, particularly when I wanted to refer to him again later in my post – ‘Tommy suggested’?  ‘Weir suggested’?  ‘Dr TW’?

I quite often struggle with this one in my posts.  And I’ve noticed that I’ve tended towards first names for people that I’ve met (face to face or by 2.0), and second names for who I’ve not.  But then there’s a whole heap of other factors that influence this too.  Even after my meeting with him, Thomas Stewart still seems like a Stewart than a Thomas because he’s a bit older than me, and has published more, and more successful, books.

In general, I prefer first names (I still feel uncomfortable when recalling my American boss who called me Ingham to my face) but then this may just be me.

Do you have any guidance here?  Which do you prefer?  Do you care?  Let me know if so.



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I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).


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