BUSINESS ENGLISH – ADDRESSING PEOPLE CORRECTLY
Business English? Then both names please!
Why is this so important?
It is advisable to offer both names to give both partners the chance to use either first or family names. If the first name is not mentioned, the other person has no opportunity to use it. See below:
“Hello, my name is Smith. I’m from Jason Technologies.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr Smith. I’m Paul Jones. I am with Bartel and Co.”
This could be the alternative:
“Hello, I’m Jonathon Smith from Jason Technologies”
“Nice to meet you, Jonathon. I’m Paul Jones from Bartel and Co.”
Jonathon now knows that it is alright to call Paul Jones by his first name.
If the situation is not clear
If the situation is not clear, then it is better to stay formal at the beginning and wait for the other person to invite you to use first names (it is much more common in the international English-speaking world to use first names but this does not necessarily mean there is a higher degree of familiarity). See below:
“Hello, my name is Jonathon Smith. I’m from Jason Technologies.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr Smith. I’m Paul Jones from Bartel and Co.”
“Pleased to meet you, Paul. Please call me Jonathon.”
Some of the most important things in learning Business English are learning customs and appropriate behaviour. In English-speaking countries and in the international world in general, it is common to introduce yourself using both names. For example:
If you introduce yourself –
“Hello,…Jonathon Smith (offer a handshake) from Jason Technologies. Pleased to meet you.”
If you introduce someone else –
“I’d like you to meet my colleague, Sue Wilkinson. Sue, this is… (introduce the others).”
With women, this is particularly important
It is unusual for women to introduce themselves only with their last name. If they do, they normally use a title which you then should also use. See below:
“Hello, I’m Cynthia Wilson. Nice to meet you”
“Hello, I’m Ms/Mrs Wilson. Nice to meet you” (then you know they don’t want you to use their first names)
Since the 80’s it has been common to use “Ms” as a title for women. “Ms” is used for both married and unmarried women. You may find people using “Miss” for unmarried or single women but it has become less common. “Mrs” is strictly reserved for women who are married or have been married before – it is not a matter of choice :-). “Ms” is the preferred title for women in business as it shows no marital status and remains neutral, similar, of course, to “Mr”.