Knowing When To Use A First Name
When is it appropriate to call your elders by their first name?
Thanks for your great question asking about when it's appropriate to call your elders by their first name.
- Of course, it could depend upon the age difference between you, as well as the nature of the relationship.
- The protocol is that you would wait until the older person asked you to call her or him by their first name.
There are exceptions: when the elder is your relative or a long-time friend.
- You've known your friend's parents since you were a small child and always called your friend's mom Charlotte and the dad Charles.
Often with parents of friends, take the cue from the formality of their friend's relationship with their parents as to how their parents wish to be addressed.
- If your friend calls them "mother" and "father," then you would probably call them Mrs. Brown or Mr. Brown, unless asked to do so otherwise.
- On the other hand, if your friend calls her/his parents Dick and Jane, no doubt you're already calling them Dick or Jane.
In a situation where the older person is your employer, you would wait to be invited by Mrs. Brown to call her by her first name.
- Or if a fellow employee says, "It's alright to call the boss George. He likes us to call him by his first name."
When in doubt, go by the standard of protocol until the person has said to you, "Oliver, please call me Didi."
- When you've known the older person a lengthy time, and you're not an employee, it is perfectly acceptable to ask, "May I call you Didi?"
- Or a future daughter-in-law might say to her mother-in-law, "What would you like me to call you?" Then the mother-in-law would say, "Please, call me, Louise."
If, say, you think your mother's known your girlfriend long enough to be on a first name basis and you want Zoe to call your mother by her first name, suggest to your mother that she tells your girlfriend to, "Please, call me Louise."
Any further questions? We're here to help.