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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Three Letter Word "Sir"

Peep into the offices of most of the organizations in most of the countries of the world and you will notice a similar scene- the boss sitting in his well cushioned wheel chair like a super-human in an expansive manner and the subordinate sitting in front of him across the table belittling himself as much as possible and bending low, squeezing his limbs, trying to occupy as little area on the chair as possible and addressing the boss, after every other word of his dialogue, "Sir, yes sir, very good sir, you are right sir, yes sir and yes sir and .........."

Most people are so much accustomed to this master-slave relationship that a person at the lower rungs of official hierarchy is always treated as a dumb donkey. And this feeling is further aggravated by this three letter word "sir". This word when spoken, creates, immediately, a sense of false inferiority in the subject who speaks this word and a false superiority in the addressee. As soon as this phenomenon takes place, the actual work, the intended results from the work and the real objective of the discussions between the two persons get surrounded by the ego satisfaction of the boss and the selfish motives of the subordinates. Many bosses feel offended if they are called "Mr so and so", they always expect to be called "sir". The subordinates on the other hand develop an unnecessary guilt feeling if they do not address their bosses with a "sir". In majority of cases, it is not out of respect that a man wants to call other person with a dignified address. It is out of selfishness, fear, doubt and the bad custom. This word "sir" arouses the base feelings of the human beings.

There are three types of situations where you will find the "sir" culture:
1. The boss wants to be addressed "sir" (he wants sycophants around him).
2. The subordinates are in habit of calling their boss as "sir" for some reasons or other (though the boss is quite open-minded on this issue)
3. The boss and subordinate both are used to it.

It is surprising that not many human behavior experts have seriously identified this calling each other "sir" a major stumbling block in the development and progress of the human society in most parts of the world. In few organizations, in some parts of the world, they encourage address by the first names or surnames and in a way, it reflects that there is no master and there is no slave. But it is doubtful if a subordinate at a junior rung or for that matter even at a higher rung of the hierarchy will be accepted addressing any CEO or Chairman of an organization or a president or prime minister of a country by his first name or as "Mr so and so".

If "sir" is used as a mark of reverence, it has different connotation- no motives are attached.

It is time that every organization every where in the world tries to scrap this kind of address and promotes a healthy man to man relationship. This should start from homes, schools and colleges. The teachers and professors should take pride in being called by their names by their students. Mere usage of the word "sir" does not bring in the sense of discipline. It's time we change our values on "what is discipline".

Read the “inside” stories of the corporate sector at: (Management Anecdotes)

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