Miss Manners says…

marikochan commented elsewhere:

I have a quick “query manners” question (unrelated to the post):

When receiving queries, how do you prefer to be addressed? “Dear Ms. Jennifer Jackson”? “Dear Jennifer Jackson”? “Dear Ms. Jackson”? Obviously correct spelling is a must, but is there any reason to choose one of those over the others (or is it simply a matter of the preference of the person reading?). My instinct is to go with “Dear Ms. Jackson,” but I know many people can be sensitive about titles.

Thanks in advance, and I hope that’s not too nitpicky of a question. =)

I don’t really believe in nitpicky questions. And I suppose any of these suggestions would do for a business letter. I think “Dear Ms. Jackson” is probably the usual one, and, so far as I know, considered the norm in the professional world. My pet peeve? People who query me and use just my first name. Especially those who have never even so much as met me. Or people who query me and use the wrong name – yeah, it happens. Bad mail merge and/or lack of proofreading. No biscuit.

12 responses to “Miss Manners says…

  1. the proper way to address you is, of course, “Madame, oh most worthy, this unworthy one crawls to look upon your brilliance…”
    *exunt, whistling innocently*

  2. This is totally off topic and quite intrusive, but as we are on the topic of Ms. Manners, I thought it would be rude not to let you know that I chanced upon your journal while doing a friends’ list swap with . I read this entry, which amused me, and I went on to read a couple more and found that I really enjoyed your writing. I would like very much to add you to my friends’ list, I hope you have no objections?

  3. Thanks! That’s good to know.

  4. “Dear Ms. Jackson:” is the business letter norm.
    While the use of your first name is clearly too familiar for any type of business letter, it may be that the people using your first name feel they know you a little bit from your journal?

    • Your point is well taken… Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s, um, polite(?) to begin a business relationship in such a casual fashion unless one has been invited to do so. There are a number of people that I have met online whom I have yet to meet face-to-face, and if we’ve correspondended to a considerable degree, we may have progressed to a more familiar state. In my view, that would be an entirely different situation. That can be a bit confused in forums like LiveJournal where many people don’t even use their own names (let alone those of the people they’re addressing *g*). Either way — I must admit that I came by my “first name pet peeve” in queries long before I even had a journal. I used to wonder when I would chance to come across the article in some writers magazine that recommended it. (Just like those that advise authors to cold call agents and editors and skip that “query nonsense” altogether.)

  5. “My pet peeve? People who query me and use just my first name. Especially those who have never even so much as met me.”
    The only way I could see doing that in a business letter is if you had a first name like mine, which is used for both men and women, and the writer didn’t know whether the person being addressed was male or female. Even then I’d personally MUCH prefer to see the last name used as well, not just the first.
    When people who have actually *met* me or *spoken* with me use “Dear MR. [first name last name]” it really annoys me.

    • On those occasions when I am responding to a query and the name seems to be gender-ambiguous in some fashion, I pretty much stick to Dear LastName FirstName myself.
      I was trying to think of something witty to say about the misfortune of those people who have met you and then apparently become confused. But it seems that’s not going to happen. Evenso, I applaud their oblivious lifestyle. *g*

      • ROFL! The sad thing was this confusion happened a lot when I was working in financial aid. It is SO not good to be an oblivious student/parent who has met face-to-face with a financial aid administrator, then written a follow-up letter to her asking for more money…but confusing her gender.*grin*
        It was even worse when it happened to the director or associate director of financial aid, both of who were women with VERY clearly female first names. I only got annoyed. They got irked when it happened to them.
        They especially got irked when a father–and for some reason, only men did this–would call and say, “Can I speak to MR. [female director’s last name]? I have this letter and it says blahblahblah.” It was a letter signed by MS. [female director’s first and last name]. We would say politely, “Oh, do you mean MS. [female director’s first and last name]? I’m sorry, SHE’s on another line at the moment, can you hold please…”
        *eye roll* Silly people.

      • eCultural Confusion
        Ms. Jackson,
        If I may delurk for moment and share this: one of the largest problems we’ve had in the Navy is the use of email and the abuse of protocol. While this is a little more extreme in example, we have the situation of the chain of command being jumped by several steps because the increasing use and availability of email. It’s lead to quite a bit of frustrating ‘back-dooring’ and loss of respect for the chain. I can see why: why bother going through six or seven people when I can have direct access to the top of the food chain. Although seemingly unlrelated, I can imagine that a further erasure of boundaries can be found out here. Why bother doing my own homework when I have a direct link to the source? Why bother with formality when I can sit protected behind a screen? Then again,”Some people’s kids man…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s