If you don’t know what to call me, please call me “Sir.”

In the last issue of Campus Chronicle, my colleague Marian Stimson wrote a great opinion piece called “Please stop calling me ma’am (thanks!).” And while discussing with other newspaper staff I brought up my experience in this same area and some contrasting opinions on the subject.

Sometimes I like being called Sir, or Mr. Burger, and use such phrasing on other people I respect. It all depends on what the other person socially.

As a 43 year old who has been successful in business, enjoys hanging out with my kids and their friends, attends college with professors I look up to, and works in a school environment regularly.  In summary, my life is full of variety in such.

In business, on the phone with clients, I will often use Sir with a client that I know as a sign of respect towards them.  I don’t want to insult someone by taking it casual too quickly.  Some of these exact conversations later break into conversations about stuff outside of business when we talk about our kids, hobbies and other things outside of work.

To my employees or people I work with, I will sometimes use the “Sir” phrasing just to open conversation but mostly use first names when conversing with them on personal or business topics.

To my kids, I’m dad.  I’m not Ryan, except for sometimes when I call them by their first name and middle name they respond with “Ryan Anthony” to make a point to me that I often don’t like.  Just like how I still don’t call my dad, Gary, it just doesn’t feel right.

To my kid’s friends, I’m often Mr. Burger or Ryan depending on the informality of the relationship.  It is tough to decide the right time when they call me Ryan, it’s just more like when it feels ready.  There are some students/kid’s friends that still call me Mr. Burger after knowing them for five plus years, and that still feels good.  So it might be more based on what their parents brought them as to saying to adults.

Attending college is yet another experience for me where I’m working with people that are often around my age but are my mentors as the situation calls for.  Upon coming into class for Journalism each morning, I’ll often say “Good morning Sir” to Andy Langager, my professor for JOU 121.  He is my professor and thus gets a level of respect with Sir.

I’m also the type of person to hold doors for elders and ladies (people I would call sir or ma’am), and instruct my kids to do such.  Maybe I’m just a bit too old fashioned for some people, or maybe I just figure that I’ve earned my grey hairs and because of that should be shown some extra respect.

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