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author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva

[Status Update]Rather tired of getting called "Sir" on SCN...

I understand that short haircut can be misleading and not everyone is familiar with the gender differences in Russian names but c'mon now.

Want to address someone - address them by name. Want to show respect - say "thank you" and close your question. IMHO "sir" or "ma'am" should have no place on a professional forum to begin with. Our expertise has nothing to do with our gender.

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  • Mar 20, 2017 at 08:52 PM


  • author's profile photo Former Member
    Former Member
    Mar 21, 2017 at 07:13 AM

    The person who called you sir and then mam may not read this post.

  • Mar 21, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    alway a gripe

    But then I think back to working for a multinational and my name somehow become Mr Colleen Lee or Lee

    People from India couldn't pronounce Col-LEAN. Japanese contacts would say Mr as thought it was 'sans' (my assumption). And then a few other Asia-Pacific countries would reverse my name and call me Lee instead (or assume it was Lee).

    So I went from being Miss/Ms Colleen Lee to Mr Colin Lee.... OH and Colleen is Irish for a girl

    But yes, when there are posts saying "Dir Sirs" I feel like I'm not invited to answer the question. When moderating content, I fix it up and add commentary in hopes of education

    I don't think people write 'sirs' with intention to exclude or limit to males only.

    • Mar 21, 2017 at 06:55 PM

      Most likely people actually think they're being very nice and polite. At the same time I don't see anyone calling G Lakshmipathi or Juergen (or anyone male on SCN, for that matter) "Ma'am", ever. Yet pretty much every active female SCN member gets "sir'ed" at some point and then we're told "oh, they're just trying to be nice". Uhm... yeah, "alternative nice".

      • Mar 21, 2017 at 07:27 PM

        coincidence !

        Today I got an email where I was on CC

        the salutation was "Ladies!"

        I replied "How did I deserve this?"

        and got a reply "you are a copy"

        I replied "No, I am a original"

    • Mar 21, 2017 at 11:43 PM

      Still not bad Col-lean :)

      Refix, ferrix, pheelx.....these are some of the names my dad gets in the mail :) :) in English and even more interesting variation in my native language

  • Mar 21, 2017 at 02:05 PM

    And then there's my name - Dell. The only other people I know with my name are guys.

    My ex-husband's name is Kimberly, so people would think I was him and he was me. When I re-married, I took my new husband's last name, which is Christy (professionally I use Stinnett-Christy to connect to my previous online presence). Now people think my last name is Dell. I can't win with this name thing! :p

    • Mar 21, 2017 at 06:44 PM

      LOL Dell. Well, you are also a major PC brand. :)

      • Mar 22, 2017 at 02:08 PM

        Yup! My standard joke when introducing myself is that yes, my real name is Dell, it's not short for anything, and I had it first!


    • Mar 21, 2017 at 11:23 PM

      My son's name is Vivian which is a boys name in India, also Alex, Charlie but here in the US I see all of these are girls names :) :)

      • Mar 22, 2017 at 08:17 AM

        When you can name your daughter "Wayne", gender-specific names are of the past. "Alex" and "Charlie" are definitive names for males, too.

      • Mar 22, 2017 at 03:17 PM

        Alex is usually a boy's name in the US (short for Alexander) but these days anything goes.

      • Mar 22, 2017 at 09:27 PM

        Alex is both genders: Alexander for boys and Alexandra for Girls. I call my sister Alex but us Australians like to shorten every name (even if we end up making it longer)

        Vivian can be confusing for some but if it was a girl I would assume spelling was Vivienne. Then again, phonetically people may not hear any difference.

        Charlie confuses me a bit as it was usually more boys with Charles but then you can have people shortening Charlotte or just like Charlie as a name.

        slightly off topic but that's what I like about this place.

      • Mar 25, 2017 at 05:36 PM

        Yeah, in America, at least, Alex (like Pat) is completely gender non-specific. Charlie is usually a boy's name, but frequently can be seen for girls too.

        Vivian is an interesting one. Today, in America, I would say that this is almost always a girl's name. However, if you go back to early 20th-century or late 19th-century England, and maybe America too, Vivian was frequently a boy's name.

        Tracy is another good one. When I was a kid, it wasn't completely uncommon to come across men named Tracy. I don't know if that was a highly regional thing, or specific to one or two decades. In fact, to this day, when used as a man's name I somehow associate "Tracy" with tough cowboys!

        Going back to Alex (and Jelena will like this one), isn't it typical in Russia to "shorten" Alexander to Sasha, as a boy's name? But I grew up with a girl named Alexandra who everyone called (and who to this day goes by) Sasha. I think most Americans probably think of Sasha as a girl's name, but I don't believe that's the Russian norm, is it?

        • Mar 27, 2017 at 09:01 AM

          Marian is another example to "Vivian". And a lot of men had "Maria" as the second name, too. Also in Germany.

          Just look at Italian names: Andrea is the male form there. In Germany it's the female version.
        • Mar 27, 2017 at 05:22 PM

          In Russian, Sasha can be short for both Alexander and Alexandra but because male Alexander is much more common most people would think of Sasha as a male name first. In the US though Sasha is mostly used as a full female name (maybe because of Sasha Obama?).

          Same story with Misha (or Mischa) which is short for Mikhail in Russian but is used as a full female name in other countries.

          Well, any of these are still better than Apple or Number 16 Bus Shelter for a kid's name...

          • Mar 27, 2017 at 10:15 PM

            "Number Six Bus Shelter"? Lol! Now that's showing true hatred for your children on the part of a parent...

            Not unlike Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa?

    • Mar 22, 2017 at 07:55 AM

      It's a good job you don't live in England ( or do you ????) because you'd be associated with a little yellow Reliant Robin, talk wiv a cockney accent and be called 'Dell Boy'....... :-)

      • Mar 25, 2017 at 05:37 PM

        Oh yeah, my brother's name is Robin! And that was my father's nickname, but his "real" name was Robert.

        • Mar 27, 2017 at 09:02 AM

          Robin Hood

          The Boywonder Robin

          ^^ So there are definitly a lot of guys with that name. But I also know it as a girls name.

          • Mar 27, 2017 at 01:29 PM

            I grew up with Robin Hood stories (they lined up nicely with Soviet propaganda, I guess) and when Santa Barbara appeared on TV with Robin Wright it was mindblowing. :)

  • Mar 22, 2017 at 07:53 AM

    Guru, Master and the one that really really annoys me 'Dear Team'.... WE ARE NOT YOUR TEAM!!!!


    • Mar 22, 2017 at 02:16 PM

      Yep. It also makes me wonder where are their actual teams and why they can't help with [usually basic] questions.

  • Mar 22, 2017 at 08:15 AM

    Hi Jelena,

    Want to address someone - address them by name. 
    Want to show respect - say "thank you" and close your question.

    Sure - but only within your society / norm:
    From his cultural background to address someone with Sir or Madam is the most respectful way possible. But for us westerns it's just feels strange / stupid / old fashioned, etc.....

    As far as gender recognition goes:
    Think about how hard it is sometime for us to differentiate between Asian man and women solely based on head shots...



    P.s.: I hated it to be called Sir when I traveled India around 15 years ago for the first time - now I'm used to it ... there's nothing you can do against it. I just call them Sir back :)

    • Mar 22, 2017 at 02:53 PM

      Mark, would you've liked if people kept calling you "ma'am" or "madam"? You might have chuckled for the first few times but eventually I'm sure you'd get tired of it and rather irritated. I've been on SCN for 10 years and have been called "sir" (never "ma'am", by the way, unless I corrected someone first) all this time.

      "Cultural differences"? Give me a break. Calling a woman "sir" is not respectful. I live in the US South and it's customary to hear "sir/ma'am" around here. But it's also very impolite to mix those up.

      Yes, it is sometimes difficult to tell gender by name or by picture. That's why "when in doubt - leave it out".

      • Mar 22, 2017 at 04:57 PM

        Hi Jelena,

        It would sure get on my nerves to be called ma'ma, and it is for sure not respectful to mix up genders!
        I just wanted to point out that in my opinion this is not done on purpose...
        For some men it is still unimaginable that a women knows more then them - or an have short hair - and therefore I guess the automatically assume you must be a guy - as sad as it is...



        You know this one ;-)
        God, grant me the serenity
        to accept the things I cannot change;
        the courage to change the things I can;
        and the wisdom to know the difference.

        • Mar 22, 2017 at 07:00 PM

          Well, such assumption is exactly what is wrong here.

          100 years ago women could not vote. 60 years ago it was acceptable to call a woman "sugar lips" (or worse) at work. It was probably not done on purpose either (heck, men must have thought it was a compliment). Still doesn't make it right.

          I guess it's time to start "Not-a-sir" movement on SCN. :) This totally looks like something we can change. And men who don't want to be called "sir" either are more than welcome to join. :)

          • Mar 23, 2017 at 01:37 PM

            Sir is one of my favorite words, I cannot support this movement :) What I think you need is an "Open your eyes and think for more than half a second before assuming gender" movement, though I guess that doesn't roll off the tongue as well.

        • May 30, 2017 at 05:51 AM

          The intent is respect, the result is offence. The cause is cultural ignorance (on their part). Mind you, I'm sure I inadvertently (honest!) offend people whose culture is not my own... so the best bet is to appreciate were in a multi-cultural environment, dominated it seems by one non-western culture, relax ... and educate.

          • May 30, 2017 at 07:42 AM

            I see what you did there, Matt ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

            Btw, somebody once addressed me as "Deer Cheers". I can't prove it anymore, though, because the thread was moderated/deleted. At that, I wasn't offended since a deer (in before, "hurr I'm a durr") is a noble creature and assuming my salutation being my name just is... hilarious somehow :-P

            P.S. @Jelena, perhaps some people imply knighthood here :>. Then you would indeed be Sir Jelena, wielder of the mighty mentor melon

  • Mar 22, 2017 at 02:25 PM

    Jelena - after the honor of meeting you at TechEd Vegas, and interactions here in the community, I am proud to call you 'friend' :)

  • Mar 23, 2017 at 11:14 AM

    I thought the gender-neutral AND respectful salutations "Dear Gurus" or "Dear Experts" where SCN-standards for asking questions?! ;-)

  • Mar 23, 2017 at 07:13 PM

    Some stats from Google:

    "Dear sirs" -> 913 results
    "Hi sirs" -> 87 results
    "Hi team" -> 9,900
    "Dear gurus" -> 19,400
    "Dear experts" -> 55,600
    "Dear ladies and gentlemen" -> 82
    "Dear ladies and gentleman" -> 9 (these must be for Juergen)
    "Dear ladies" -Gentlemen, -gentleman, -gents -> No results found

  • Mar 27, 2017 at 10:15 AM

    Comrade is wonderful! :)

  • May 30, 2017 at 09:11 AM

    In my country madam is also used in a slightly different context, which is a good reason for me to avoid this polite form of addressing.
    This is on top my not humble opinion, that the whole assumption of one human being in any way superior or 'more worthy' than another, is just sad and it does not absolve you from using some critical thinking.
    If you wish to express respect - valuing other people's time at least as much as yours, is a good start. And this involves searching and reading, and thinking before you post.

    • May 30, 2017 at 06:55 PM

      Exactly. Do your homework, answer timely to any follow-up questions, say "thank you", close the question, pay it forward by helping others. That's a great way to show real respect on SCN and gain it as well.

  • May 30, 2017 at 11:11 AM

    Hi All,

    Sometimes I get called sir or Mr. Patil. I think it would be lot better if we just address people with first name. We might confuse with the first name and last name at times. In some areas people write fname lname and in some areas its lname fname. And confusing that is fine at times (I guess). But just assuming someones gender may be wrong.

    Also I want to share one of my experiences while I was working for SAP Product Support. I called a customer named Jennifer. A guy picked up and I said "May I please talk to Jennifer" and the guy said "Speaking". I never knew that a guy could be named Jennifer. A similar incident happened when there was a customer name "Laxmi" (this is a very common Indian girl name. Also goddess of wealth). But the guy said "yes speaking".

    Once for a week I called one of my customers with his lname. He told me later that that was his lname. I was so sorry and I apologized.

    After this I was very careful in choosing my words and was very careful in not offending anyone and assuming anything.

    • May 30, 2017 at 06:58 PM

      For me it usually goes like this:

      - Hi, may I speak to... err... uhm... hm... Hee... Gee...
      - [sigh] Yep, it's me.

    • May 31, 2017 at 01:20 PM

      We had a guy named "Candy" in support. So you're not alone. ;)

      • May 31, 2017 at 01:29 PM

        How sweet is that ;)

        • May 31, 2017 at 07:40 PM

          Not really common for German people, let alone males. And he sounded like you would picture a lumberjack or some other reaaally masculine guy. Such a deep voice. :D

      • May 31, 2017 at 05:32 PM

        Got an email today greeting me with "Dear Email Address". Starting to think this might be a real name some day. :)

  • May 30, 2017 at 05:28 PM

    Someone is welcome to correct my if I'm wrong, but I will also guess it would have to do with improper translation often times. i.e. in Hindi people add gender neutral -ji to names to show respect. There is no English equivalent and I believe translation sites will sometimes show this as 'Mr'. And some might choose sir as an approximate translation as well if they are searching for terms of respect in the English language.

  • Oct 11, 2017 at 09:56 PM
    • Oct 12, 2017 at 06:20 AM

      Any chance of changing your haircut or your the profile picture? :)

    • Oct 12, 2017 at 06:49 AM

      Maybe add a pink border to your avatar!
      Even poor Colleen has been called "Sir"!

      i think his (her?) standard answer is "ok sir,thank"

    • Oct 12, 2017 at 06:56 PM

      If it makes you feel better, he called everybody "sir" in that discussion...including Colleen.

      • Oct 12, 2017 at 07:30 PM

        This just means that it's not even an honest mistake and OP clearly believes everyone should feel honored by being called "sir". Which is rather sad.

        • Oct 12, 2017 at 07:34 PM

          Maybe he's a believer of "There are no girls/women in the internet." ;)

        • Oct 12, 2017 at 07:36 PM

          Hmmm...I hadn't really thought of it that way. I just assumed it was a language issue (considering he ended his post with "suggest me" :) ).

          I also discovered what might be a candidate for a new word: "uncomfartable." It could be used to describe being trapped in a small, enclosed space with someone who...well...I'm sure you can figure it out...

  • Oct 12, 2017 at 07:50 PM
    Soviets did it best.
    Comrade. gender neutral. polite. professional. No games.


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