How to use Sir
How to use Ma’am

How to Address a ‘Sir’

‘Sir’ is not a rank or office. But it is an honorific used in addressing a British knight: Sir Paul (Paul McCartney), Sir Elton (Elton John).

Follow the link to Knight for those forms of address.

– Robert Hickey How to use Maam

Sir

How to Use Sir and Ma’am

I have been wondering about the use of the word Sir. Calling men Sir often and it results in negativity. Would you be so kind as to elaborate on the proper use of the word Sir?
__________-– S.L. How to use Maam

Dear S.L.:
Sir and Ma’am are formal.

In hierarchical organizations and environments these are signs of respect. For example, in the armed services it’s standard to address anyone of higher in rank (e.g. officers by enlisted personnel) by (Rank)+(Name) first, then as Sir/Ma’am thereafter.

In formal households children might be taught to address their elders and Sir and Ma’am. Thus, to many it is appropriate to use these when addressing someone older.

I take a spin class every Saturday — the instructor always calls me Sir … Because (I think it is his reasoning) he has noticed that I am by far the oldest person in class.  I think it’s funny, but I bet not everyone would.

If someone is reacting negatively, they probably are very egalitarian and don’t like the lower/higher relationship implied — or they think you are implying they are old.

Try Good Morning rather than Good Morning, Sir.

– Robert Hickey   How to use Maam

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) was founded in 1988 and offers open-enrollment, classroom-based programs where students learn to become a licensed Intercultural Etiquette and Protocol Trainer, or can earn a certificate in operational protocol by completing Protocol Officer Training. Private, on-site training is also available to provide tailored training solutions. In 2020, PSOW launched online, instructor-led training to meet the needs of students worldwide.

PSOW has offices in: Washington, DC; Columbia, SC; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The school is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and provides international protocol, cross-cultural awareness, business etiquette, and image training preparing professionals to build lasting business relationships.

.

Protocol and Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association promotes the protocol profession and raises awareness of its central role in business and diplomacy through education and networking. PDI-POA’s mission is to share the highest level of collective expertise, training, information and advice regarding accepted rules of protocol. PDI-POA is committed to facilitating communication, understanding and cooperation among individuals, governments and cultures around the globe.