Boss, a word that has been abundantly used since the mid 19th century, is now one of the most confusing ways to address seniors for the modern generation. Many people face the dilemma of calling seniors either by name or as Sir/Ma’am or even Boss. But, before dwelling deeper into how one should address a senior, let’s take a short stroll on how the word ‘boss’ came into existence.
Here's what you will learn
Well, the roots of the term belong to that era, when slave drivers were known and addressed as ‘Master’. After this period ended, people had to find a word that was less slave-like and more comfortable, while keeping the essence of superiority intact for employers. In the mid 19th century, the Dutch introduced the perfect sounding replacement of ‘Master,’ which is now known as ‘Boss.’ Though initially, people started using the word out of despising for the latter one, over time, they adapted it into their corporate culture.
Did we evolve?
In terms of addressing seniors, working professionals have been testing and playing around with various other replacements such as:
- Mr./Ms./Mrs. (added as a prefix to the senior’s last name or first name)
- Exclusively in India, calling a senior’s name with a suffix of ‘Ji’ or at the extremity ‘Sahab’
While many people have become quite comfortable in taking such paths, there is a rising number in the modern work environment that feels uncomfortable, illogical, and inferior in doing so. There can be multiple reasons behind this including individual preference, hierarchical transparency, or even experiential habits. Mandating the boss culture irrespective of an individual’s personal choice of addressing seniors can turn toxic pretty fast.
What about calling your seniors just by their name?
With an evolving work environment, people evolve too. The way the modern generation perceives respect differs dramatically from the elder generation. Calling a senior by his/her name is one of them. Many organizations are promoting the culture of calling everyone in the office by their names without hindering the aspect of respect. However, it is still in its infancy stage with a significant indication of rapid growth.
How do you cope-up with this changing environment?
Though there is no evident policy for calling people a certain way, there is a certain way every organization behaves in this regard. But, with new people joining the workforce, behavioral changes are also becoming evident. If you are entering a new work environment or feel like changing the way you address your seniors for your reasons, here are a few things you can do to go ahead:
Look around you and observe how people talk to each other. If there is a degree of mandate to call seniors in a certain way, you can catch it quickly. The most comfortable places to find these conversational trends are meeting rooms, break rooms, and lunch areas. In the modern work environment, almost all hierarchical levels gather and interact together.
While all of the employees call the boss in your office with Sir/Mam, there may be one person who calls him the ‘boss man’ or something that sounds unusually personal. That may not give you the leverage to do so too. There can be multiple reasons in the background that give that person the freedom for exceptional naming, but that is only an exception.
One of the healthiest ways to address a senior is the way you prefer in terms of respect, comfort, and habit. Many organizations allow variation in the way people treat each other and are healthily accepting of them. If you find such an environment, there is nothing to do except for being respectful in whichever way you want to address anyone.
The Big Question – Should the sir/ma’am culture be aborted?
While mandating the concept of calling sir/ma’am in the office space is not the ideal route to encourage employee interaction but doing the other way around can also be hazardous.
For instance, a fresher graduate is likely to come from an environment of calling his/her lecturer, sir/ma’am. Making that employee call the seniors and bosses with their names can be a tough transition.
Another instance includes a person who worked for 3-4 years in an environment of calling everyone by their name. When he/she is introduced in a space that mandates addressing seniors with sir/ma’am or other fixations, they can get pretty uncomfortable, quite quickly.
To tackle such situations, it is best for organizations to let their employees use the method they prefer without letting that become an aspect of judgment. There are many other efficient ways to judge employees, you know. As they get used to the office culture, they may ease into the way the people go around.
Till the time you call anyone by name without making it sound like name-calling, you should be alright!
If you are part of an environment that accepts whichever way you address your colleagues, seniors or bosses, you may have found a perfectly healthy place to work in. But if you think that calling your boss by his/her name can get you sacked, you can always look for a better job on Vasitum.