The tension created between the supposed egalitarianism and the hierarchical realities of the American workplace can often cause conversational "black holes" during which employees avoid calling their bosses by any name, according to a Penn State researcher.
"Uncertainty over whether it is appropriate to call your boss Bob or Mr. Smith can create tension for employees in todays workplace," says Dr. David A. Morand, professor of management at Penn State Harrisburg. "In todays organizations, subordinates often address superiors by their first name. Subordinates are at times, however, reluctant to use the first name toward more powerful others due to this forms presumption of familiarity."
At the same time, employees shy away from the main alternative, which is calling their boss by title, then last name (e.g. Mr. Brown, Ms. Smith, Dr. Lynn). Such a practice may suggest formality, exaggerated deference and even obsequiousness. The result is a conversational "black hole" when it comes to addressing the supervisor.
Paul Blaum | EurekAlert!
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