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Using a first-name basis rules : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Using a first-name basis rules

Frequently asked questions. Go HERE and read the first thread.
KnightWriter
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Using a first-name basis rules

Postby KnightWriter » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:01 am

I received a reply from an associate editor where she used my first name only. However, for her signature block, she used the traditional company "letterhead" that employed her first and last name. Right now, it's just e-mail tag asking questions and getting information before taking on any projects. I've read conflicting information about when to use a person's first name. What should I do in this situation?

TerryRodgers
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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby TerryRodgers » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:51 am


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:54 am

I'd use her first name, as well, but you have to go with what's comfortable to you.

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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby Oldtimer » Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:58 am

I'm glad you asked that question. I asked an agent for clarification of her agency's guidelines. She replied using my Christian name and signed with her own first name. I am assuming that, as she has been so informal, it will be okay for me to address her by her first name if I need to contact her again.
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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:40 pm


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DrG2
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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby DrG2 » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:48 pm

I'd use Ms. Whatever, until I felt I had a relationship with that person. A few emails probably wouldn't count, unless she was making personal comments in the emails.

that's just me.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:48 am


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Crono91
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Re: Using a first-name basis rules

Postby Crono91 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:48 pm

I think at this point it is more of a personality thing.

I call EVERYONE sir and ma'am, even when I'm simply going through a drive-thru.

When it comes to higher-ups, you should make the transition slowly. I wouldn't reply back with, "SUP HOMIE, DID YOU SEE MY TWITTER?" just yet. Your next email, make it, "Dear Ms. ___" but refer to her by her first name within the body of the text.

When she replies back, you will get a much better gauge. If she addresses you with formality, it's because she felt odd and wanted to keep the boundary still in place. If she continues with her informal conversations, then it is your cue to follow suit.

That said--they are still your boss. Don't get comfortable. Always address someone, even if it's just, "Jane," and always close your email with formality.

But that's just me. :D

Also, there's a good way to gauge someone's comfort in informality. I'd always do this with my professors. When emailing, throw in a slight, off-handed joke. If they reply back with a laugh or a continued comment, you know they like to have business while also having a little fun. If they totally ignore it and continue with the beef of the conversation, you know it's entirely business.
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