Why should I call someone sir?

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(Last Updated On: 09/10/2018)

Well 2d ago, Prabhakar Alok founded a very good post from Ramesh Kumar’s Linkedin wall. So, He Decided to merge these answers and people can read easily.

Why should I call someone sir

So, the Questions arises from Ramesh Kumar is Why do I address someone, sir? Ramesh shared his experience too and said that I studied in an engineering College and every senior was a ‘Sir’. We never thought about it just as a word. Every senior was a ‘sir’ and we respected them whether they are smart or illogical. It was complete and unconditional respect. Even today, I address my seniors of college as ‘sir’ and all my juniors call me ‘sir’! At work, I address all those elders to be a ‘sir’. Boss, younger to me, wants us to call by his name.

We do it and sometimes I use ‘Sir Ji’ I address all Professors, Armed forced personnel and senior IAS officers as Sir, irrespective of their age. For me, the profession, the person’s achievements are of prime importance. If a person is elder to me and has achieved a lot, he is a ‘sir’ to me. I met a person with tremendous knowledge and I called him sir and he asked me not to call him sir/ boss, but only by his name. I am uncomfortable calling by his name, yet, I respect and do not use his name or sir or boss. Difficult. But, I am trying! I appreciate successful businessmen. But, they are never ‘sir’ to me. Generally, all elders are ‘sirs’. But, sometimes, we may address a customer ‘sir’, out of respect to satisfy their egos but not with feeling.

Whom do you address ‘sir’, if you do?

Whom do you address sir if you do

well..!! People came up with different opinions when the question arises. Some of the opinions were as follows:-

  • Being from a boarding school, every hostel senior is a sir (automatically). Then comes elderly and creative people / intellectual community/thought leaders. I have full respect to people in defense services but I rather like to call them by their rank like “Hi Major” etc. IAS officers I address them rather with their last names because they are just like us who sat for an exam passed it and doing a job. – Sivesh Kumar
  • When I meet a person for the first time I just ask him or her how should I address. The next time I meet the same person, preferred addressing is natural. __ Human memory is so graphic that you do not even have to make an effort to Remember specific addressing for everyone you know. Try that sometime. You will be surprised! – Ram
  • I discourage to call anyone Sir as it’s a title honored for all who gave up home and hearth to serve our Motherland, Sir M. Vishweswaraiah, Sir. APJ Abdul Kalam, Sir.CV Raman and Sir. Radha Krishna.and the list is huge. I request people to call me by my name and as usual, they ask how can that be possible, respect etc happens… Respect, trust, honesty all the beautiful treasures of the heart can be glimpsed in the eyes….of the speaker. I say I am no Madam, who am I to be a Madam?? Anandi Gopal who traveled across the globe in those days is one. If anyone is highly qualified and expects to be called Sir he is still not attained “learning”! India is still in the hangover of post Independence and enjoys few words of the worldly matters. Thank you for this post!! It was needed!! – Vandana Srinivas
  • Yes.  It is good to see a wide opinion on the topic. I  respect a friend for his knowledge and I like to call him sir or at least Boss. He refused and wants me to call only by his name. I am actually uncomfortable in calling him by name.  Hence I posted this  🙂 says – Ramesh Kumar.
  • Having worked in Singapore, there is never a culture of calling people in your organization as Sir. I agree with this coz of the following reasons. 1.) Firstly, In the office, we are all workers and professionals. Irrespective of age. 2. ) We never know who will be our boss. A young engineer with some years of exp can be promoted to a very senior position..and it could be that those under whom he worked will now report to him.. 3. Calling Sir sometimes creates a barrier to free and fair communication. But we Indians have been brought up this way and hence have a natural inclination to say, Sir. To me, I call Sir only if I feel I must call the person Sir. – Muhammad Anwar Dasurkar
  • It’s a very good question. It depends on the organization and its culture. In my entire career, I have always addressed people with their first names(seniors as well as juniors) as that was the norm. A very professional setup at the same time believed in treating people as equals irrespective of designation. And there was a subtle code of conduct of keeping a personal space of each individual intact. Later when I moved out as a freelancer is when I realized that people come with varied culture and background and it’s difficult to gauge their level of interpretation hence I find it safe to address Indian counterparts as sir or mam whereas while dealing with expats I can never imagine myself addressing them as such, the first name is what comes out naturally ,’sir’ is an honor for the knight which has seeped into our Indian culture for reasons best known. So for me, the use of the title is situational.

In the banking world with a global presence I cannot imagine myself calling people as sir or mam nor in a multinational organization but other organisations ,if someone whom I not too familiar with does not specifically inform/request me to address them by their first or last name I continue to address them with the stated title. – Sulochana Amin,  then Ramesh Kumar replied, ” I find it safe to address Indian counterparts as sir or mam ” — so true.   In that situation, it is not respect..it is just a word! In Reply Sulochana again said Ramesh Kumar yep.. true.. the usage of the title cannot conform respect .. I will still respect a person even without using the title and vice versa .. I don’t find the correlation between the two words.

  • राम ???????? (Ram) again replied:- How do you address God? In Hindi, we have several addressing for the same person. आप, श्रीमान, महोदय, सुश्री, श्री, जी but we always address God as “तू” that is the most informal way of addressing someone. “हे भगवान तू…” for example. Ever wondered why? The more formal you are with someone, the farther you are emotionally from that person. You can only get informal with someone you feel close at heart. What does this translate to? If you are close at heart with someone you will:-
  1.  Be comfortable in sharing
  2. Frankly and honestly discuss problems and solutions
  3. See them as your flock
  4. Be happy around them
  5. Seek advice and guidance from them
  6. Take their advice and guidance seriously
  7. Subconsciously keep them happy
  8. Do not fret over little things. Do not mind little matters.
  9. Look forward to meeting them again
  10. Love to help them Last but not least, you are recognizing their individuality and uniqueness in the world. Now imagine these factors in a work environment. Exactly!
  • Prediction is just hope. Once you decide what you want, Just don’t predict. You need ways to ‘think’ an opportunity. And then you need to ‘plan’ ..have Plan A, Plan B … and then you ‘create’! Said, Ramesh. In ReplyIf Plan A did not work, the alphabet has 25 more letters! Stay COOL
  • Couldn’t agree more. There’s another option though of addressing people irrespective of age, seniority, position etc., that is Mr…..Ms… said by Raman TSK
  • I personally do not like being called Sir and I do make sure the other person call me by my name but yes like you mentioned in your post , sometimes calling Sir or Madam is not out of order as it is the accomplishment or the body of work they have achieved that results in genuinely giving them the respect and for me that is acceptable as it is a form of endearment and any other connotations should not be thought for such people …but yes for just satisfying someone’s ego it should not be used as it brings down it’s value and if something becomes common then the feeling also behind it diminishes… thanks for sharing the post. Says Sushant V Pai
  • Even though people use or don’t use “sir” in their profession but we all are forced to use “sir” with all govt employees and politicians. While calling someone“Mr” is considered as respectable elsewhere in the world, here we get very awful reactions if we use the same. Upendra Pinneli
  • The exact same situation is with me too. I address all my college seniors ‘Sir’ and the closer ones as ‘Sirji’. But if they are not my college senior yet the person is at a position + have some age I call him “his name + sir”. I think we are conditioned to show respect to our elders and so we use ‘Sir’ or ‘Shri’ with their names. Said Avinash Chaubey
  • I address SIR for a person whom I want to limit the conversation within boundaries. says Vallalarasu Pandiyan 
  • “Sir” is a word used during the concept of “Master & Slave” time…. yes, it is being used later to honor some “special person” or a dignitary during the British era, but now that too stopped.  In the modern world, “Sir Ji” means, “no merit, but we are forced to call”… We can hear this only in select Asian countries… The best way to address your Boss is by First Name.  If you add Mr. then it’s very rude… If you are very insecure, you may add the flavor of “respect” – little longer “Sir Jeeeeee”… in my previous office when we hear this, we know either of the persons is feeling highly insecure, and the other wants to capitalize on that weakness… In my current office, only one person does that…. – Anil Joseph
  • It’s an old colonial hangover and despite our apparent despise of all things colonial we hang onto this word because this particular word resonates with power. It is disguised in the form of respect. Deep down it’s about power. said by Bobby 
  • It is something that comes naturally… In a corporate setup, it is quite acceptable to address to an experienced senior management person by his or her name but if the person is known to be someone of wisdom, of experience, of subject matter expertise… Sir or mam comes naturally. – Shourya Bhattacharya
  • Sir might have variations. Colonial Hangover In Companies Out Of Sheer Respect Out Of Courtesy For Elders For Teachers and Professors Sometimes out of danda rule also…e.g. tum mere junior ho, call me sir ….yadda yadda Or sometimes sarcastically also e.g. What synopsis sir sir sir … – Ravi Kikan
  • India corporate is changing nowadays and many of them, including CEOs, love to address them by their 1st name. Sir culture is still prominent/ dominantly seen in Government organizations. Many of the people addresses other by Sir just to pamper the EGO of others as they are sitting in power positions. Its high time to abolish Sir culture, I personally don’t like to call anyone by it. – Milind DHUMAL
  • In my part, I use to call sir for my gurus, and elder’s in the profession, and another one I use to call my seniors or guys out said of my office or world I use to call them as Anna/bhai/brother. Respect should be in the way we communicate to other maybe they are younger or elder than me. – Gopal Nagubandi
  • I used to use this connotation of “Sir” or “Madam” at the start of my career. Until, I was asked by a particular boss ( way senior – may be 15 yrs senior to me, professionally ) to call them by their name only. I felt that it did not cause even a pinch of respect to slide up or down. In my mind, it always comes to me as an “aap” in Hindi for anyone senior or junior to me. Now more so, after I started following a certain philosophy which works great at the profession as well – respect and dignity for all. Now I address only my teachers with the Title of Sir or Mam Or historically great figures. – Deepa Surakattula 
  • I think for respecting someone, you don’t always need to use “sir” I use sir for only people who are elderly or my professors. Though I respect everyone including my juniors & seniors but don’t address someone as sir for that matter. – Taran Singh
  • Agree …same way there exists for vvips “honorable, his majestic, his Excellency ” and so on…I know a company where people used to write emails to the chairman calling Honorable….we need to give off these habits and be American way just the first name without any senior junior tradition…I m in this league…- Mrutyunjaya Mohanty
  • I address Sir to all elders and profession wise on office works Govt. Or Private. Apart from some organizations adopting not to call hashtagSir or hashtagBoss to any of the employees but they ask to call by their name to eliminate discrimination/ego. – Manju CSW
  • “Sir” is something I had used frequently to address men and Ms. As it pertains to women. For me, it is less about accomplishments or titles. It is solely based on respect and usage of a surname. – April M
  • The word “Sir” has become a common usage to all whom we address since the British invasion into India. This was considered to address somebody with respect for their achievement or social status. Our C.V.Raman was given a title “Sir C.V.Raman” by Britishers to recognize his works. Later, this has become a common usage in our daily life to people we meet. (At the office, co-workers, customers, Neighbours, strangers, co-traveler and so on). Though we sent Britishers back, unfortunately, we could not send these practices with them. Many such practices are still living. Personally, I feel that the most respectful way of calling someone is by them the first name like how Americans do! However, I use the word “sir” to seniors/elders as a mark of respect and to customers for balancing ego. – Santhosh V.R
  • Respect comes from the heart. Only a word sir, can’t define that. Being Indian it’s our habit now. Amercian, European don’t use it. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect their boss n elders. We should be more open to our juniors n seniors. By calling name doesn’t mean we r disrespecting them. Now it’s Indian mindset if somebody doesn’t say sir to his / her boss, it is considered as disrespect, attitude. We should come out of this fake zone. – PRADEEP SINGH
  • Sir always for My Teachers and Professors Only… With all due respect to my seniors, Bosses, and mentors I would prefer calling by Name. I have done so all my professional career. Thanks to Convergys culture… Also, I would call Sir, to those whom I don’t know by Name. – Manish Garg
  • I favor calling sir or Ma’am. It’s completely our choice. Since childhood we learned to give respect, it shows our humbleness. In my country its a culture to give respect everywhere then why don’t in Industry. I never understood why we are following foreign trend even Respected SubashChandraBose spoke in Hindi and called sisters in his speech. Then why foreign trade. – Aparna Rajawat
  • ‘Sir / Madam’ are words we have inherited from the British rule. When we address someone as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’, it indicates that someone is superior to us and by corollary that we are inferior to them. It does not necessarily convey respect. I have a rule for all new joiners in my company. They have exactly one week to stop calling me ‘Sir’ and have to get to address me on a first name basis otherwise they are out. This is irrespective of any age differences. If they like to show respect, they can show their respect by the quality of their work. If we want to refer to someone respectfully our Indian language has many wonderful words like Shri / Shrimati (pre-fix), Ji / Garu (Suffix). It is my personal view that if we stop using ‘Sir’ & ‘Madam’ particularly in Government, Bureaucratic circles and workplaces, India will progress by leaps and bounds. One other word that is perhaps best banned is “ruled”. Our media and newspapers liberally say ‘political party/government “rules” the state/country’. Governments govern, not rule. Period. We Indians should re-look at the words (like ‘Sir’, ‘Madam’, ‘Rule’) we inherited from the British rule and really look to drop from our vernacular. It will do all of us a lot of good. – Manish Jain
  • What a lovely post. Being from a naval background sir and ma’am is part of my address before I give my opinion or communicate. Corporate culture trends with now name calling but till date, it’s tough for me to call them by name, whether be my senior or a person below me yet elder in age. I guess it’s tough sometime to break the trend with what you have grown up with or what you were trained in our learning days. – Harsh Srivastava
  • I believe this is also to do with how we are engineered when we grow up, to not take names. Maybe that is way out of habit we call anyone sir as it’s the easiest and convenient word to put forth if one doesn’t know how to address someone. – Ullas Narain

That’s it.

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Prabhakar Alok


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