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Salutation SNAFU

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by sat0ri, 09.24.14.

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  1. sat0ri

    sat0ri Everything we see hides another 2+ Year Member

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    Ok so this is a bit silly, but it has made me wonder more than once.

    So I generally start the first email in a thread with proper salutations Dear "Dr. Fake name; Ms. Amanda Holdandhug", but I notice that they tend to write back with my first name. "Hi Lisa thank you for your email..." and often close with the valediction of their first name, "Sincerely, Amanda"

    I wonder if at the point, when I write back to them, should I transition to "Hi Amanda" (more cordial) or stick with "Thank you Ms. Holdandhug" (more professional). It's a silly dilemma but I'd like some input nonetheless.
     
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  3. tiedyeddog

    tiedyeddog 7+ Year Member

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    If it is an attending I almost always respond with "Dr. Attending". Most of the time I will respond with a last name, regardless of their status, unless I have met them in person. If I have e-mailed back and forth a couple times I'll go to first names or just not use first names.

    Don't think about it too hard, most people probably don't care either way.
     
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  4. type12

    type12 2+ Year Member

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    Technically, the signed name is safe to use. For medical school-related stuff, people are anal, so you're safer being passively insistent in the correspondence. Some people take offense that you are treating them as equal, but those people tend not to know anything about business. However, in an inequality of power situation, it is never wrong to be passively insistent in formality.

    In short, Amanda should be fine; if you are really worried, Ms. Holdandhug is always a safe bet.
     
  5. SSSMDt

    SSSMDt 2+ Year Member

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    Go with there first name.. I'm assuming you're an adult right (college student at least)?? If they introduce or close with only their first name that means thats how they'd like to be referred to.
     
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  6. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche Meep Meep Meep 5+ Year Member

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    After a couple of beers one of my PI's told me and a coworker to call him by his first name because we're all colleagues. We never wanted to. He's always been Dr. _____

    I used to call my old boss by his first name even though he's a doctor and all the other doctors in that practice made it a point for me to call them by their first name, but they legit forced it, and it just felt different. Medicine vs surgery maybe? Not sure.
     
    Last edited: 09.24.14
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  7. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    You can never go wrong with Dear Dr. Jones, Dear Professor Jackson, or Dear Mr. Smith or Dear Ms. Johnson,. Where I have trouble is with people I don't know who write to me and I need to respond but they aren't a doctor or professor and I can't deduce their gender so as to use Ms. or Mr.

    If the gender is obvious from the name and you don't know the person, or you know that they are much older than you are, I would strongly recommend erring on the side of formality.
     
    Last edited: 02.12.15
  8. JPA178

    JPA178 2+ Year Member

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    I still refer to my PI as Dr. ______ even in conversation with other people. He always introduces himself by his first name and signs his emails with his first name. It's a subtle respect thing. Another thing I've noticed based on my business experience is that most people begin emails with Hi instead of Dear.
     
  9. Gauss44

    Gauss44 2+ Year Member

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    Here's what I would do: I would google their names or call their secretary and ask something like, "Hi, I'm writing a letter to Chris Rhodes, and I was wondering if you could tell me which salutation would be most appropriate? For example, Dr., Prof., Mr./Mrs., etc.?" If they say, "Oh, Mr. or Mrs. is fine." Then I would say, "Okay, which* is it again?" And then you will usually get either Mr. or Mrs. Even though you know this person isn't a "Dr." this is a polite way to get to the question out. There may be better ways. Someone on the LGBTQ thread or an organization like MTPC, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, may have a better answer. Thanks for being respectful and not just choosing Mr., Mrs or Ms.

    In person, it's fine to ask, "How do you like to be addressed?" or "Is it okay if I call you, Pat?".

    *Edit: Voice inflection is important. Emphasis on, "Okay," or, "again," and - NOT on, "which," - sends the right message.
     
    Last edited: 02.12.15
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  10. WinslowPringle

    WinslowPringle 2+ Year Member

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    If an attending, a professor, or a PI, I'd def recommend going with the Dr/Professor/Mr/Ms. even if they sign with their first name - or especially if they don't sign it and just have an auto signature that is "Firstname Lastname, MD." I think that people sign their first names from habit and because it's weird to refer to yourself as "Dr. Me." First names are probably ok if you know each other in person and he/she insists you use the first name in person.

    I once emailed my PI back by first name, despite always using last names in person.....it just felt strange. Won't do it again.
     
  11. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    I don't believe in Mrs. -- that was the point of Ms., to avoid issues around marital status in female honorifics (Mrs. or Miss) I don't know how Miss became Ms and Mrs remained, but I digress.

    My issue is that I receive many emails from people with ethnic names. I am not going to get far googling someone from Uganda or China and I can't call their office... In those cases I usually go with "Hi Xyz".
     
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  12. Gauss44

    Gauss44 2+ Year Member

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    Good point about, "Mrs." I think that greetings in general are evolving* in terms of what's most appropriate. There's the ethnic names, feminism/women's rights, gender-ambiguous names, the revolution of transgender rights, intersex awareness, and probably other factors playing into this as well. I think that, "Hi Xyz," or "Hi (first name)" is becoming the standard*. I've noticed that many larger corporations are establishing policies where all employees address each other by, "Hi (first name)" regardless of the rank, or difference in rank, of the writer and the person the letter is to.

    To OP's point, as an additional option or solution, I would be comfortable calling the secretary or department and asking about the most common and/or most appropriate salutation for a "follow up email." I would be sure to make my question quick, as in one short sentence, to be respectful of the call volume they might receive. (While "Hi first name" may be too informal, being too formal can seem distancing.) The norm or standard may be different for different institutions and for different areas of the country.

    *My purpose in pointing this out is to provide a "heads up" that things are changing. Sometimes people hang on to "old" ways because they missed the fact that society changed around them. To the younger folks on here, this usually becomes more apparent the older you get. (Examples, people older than 35 who have not heard about flash drives and still think computers use floppy disks, exceptions noted; your grandma's set of etiquette rules versus your mother's versus your older sister's, exceptions noted, etc.)
     
    Last edited: 02.12.15
  13. xffan624

    xffan624 2+ Year Member

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    Sometimes with unfamiliar ethnic names, I've googled the name to find out if they're generally a male or female name. Doesn't always work. In that case... there's always just "Hi"
     
  14. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche Meep Meep Meep 5+ Year Member

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    It doesn't matter what they write back to you with. I always address doctors as 'Dr. Soandso' until they tell me to stop. In a working relationship, I've been told that before with ID folks I worked with, but none of the surgeons have said that so I still call them Dr. even though I've been here for almost two years. Some of their admins and the other MD researchers call them by their first name, but I doubt I'd ever refer to them by that.

    One of them told me to call me by his first name after a few rounds of drinks and followed up with a 'though one of my mentors told me to do that and I never did, but you should' comment. I've never called him by his first name lol.

    Yup. I always refer to female patients as ms till I am told otherwise.
     
  15. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    As an aside, at interviews, please use Dean, Dr. Mr, Ms or Professor plus last name. There was a minor uproar in the adcom a few years ago when an applicant greeted the interview (a dean) with "Hi, Marge" rather than "Hi Dean Smith" and the interviewer made a note of it as being overly familiar, too casual and unprofessional.
     
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  16. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche Meep Meep Meep 5+ Year Member

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    This needs to be said?

    Goodness.
     

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