Speaking on a first name basis: let’s look into it in detail.

“You” or “you”: the rules of subordination at work

Addressing seniors as “you” or “you” is not only a matter of etiquette. It is also an opportunity to build competent relationships with the team, mark or erase boundaries and create the right atmosphere.

Norms and traditions

The form of communication in the team is regulated neither by the Labor Code nor by local normative acts. It is fixed in the rules and similar documents. The rules are more of a recommendatory nature.

– In IT even at the interview the candidate can address a future employer on the “you” side, and this is normal. Such communication is due to the fact that in the field of information technology came a lot of young people under 30 years. These people quickly established themselves as professionals, reached the level of wages, which allows you to speak on equal terms with other professionals in the market, – said the head of the company “Megaplan” Sergey Kozlov.

– In the federal authorities it is customary to speak to managers and colleagues on a “you” basis. On the “you” is acceptable only with close friends in an informal setting. You may receive a bad characteristic because of your flirtatiousness. You need to control your behavior in any situation, even at the celebration of his own birthday – the lawyer of bankruptcy of individuals and individual entrepreneurs Sergey Chekunov.

– Doctors (that’s them, not the rest of the medical staff) often address each other as “you” but by their first and patronymic names. In medical circles, this is a sign of inclusion in the professional community. And such a quirky combination indicates recognition by colleagues,” says ICL Services’ Lead HR Manager Marina Markelova.

If everyone in the company addresses each other as “you” and one person as “you”, it is not an advantage, but a sign of disrespect. In the reverse situation, when communication on the “you” is the norm, “you” demonstrates respect and distance.

It’s better to be “you.”

1.When dealing with difficult tasks all the time

– Talking to employees on a “you” basis helps in situations where something goes wrong in the work process. Telling the supervisor about the problem without unnecessary formalities is easier: you don’t need to choose special words so as not to break the chain of command. Instead, you talk directly about the problem”, says Philipp Shchirov, director and cofounder of cloud business automation service “Altap”.

2. When you often communicate informally

– We constantly hold corporate events in our company, for example, we go to Sheregesh, and recently held a bike ride in Altai. It would be strange during the race to shout: “Vitaly Sergeevich, move over, please”, considering that together you have covered 200 kilometers on a bicycle. We have a lot of activities to bring together employees and partners, and of course the vast majority communicate on the “you”, – says HR director of the international network of car services FIT SERVICE Svetlana Solovyova.


It’s better to use the word “you”.

1.When communicating outside the company

– At public events with the participation of outsiders (interdepartmental meeting, presentation of the project to the client, report to the board of directors, etc.) there is always formal treatment by name and patronymic,” says Anton Palyulin, managing partner of the law firm Paliulin & Associates.

2. When the company has many branches

For people who have never seen each other it is psychologically difficult to change to “you” at once, especially if there is a big difference in age.

3. When the management style is authoritarian rather than democratic

“You” suits young teams, startups, small teams. But if you have a company with a clear hierarchy, and there is no equality between employees, because they stand on different levels, then “you” will only confuse. Addressing to “you” implies the absence of barriers, but it is not always good for business.

Pros and cons of each option

Addressing people as “you” is thought to show respect, but that statement is being challenged in many companies today.

– Authority is not “lived till so long, that’s why you call me by my first name and patronymic”, but competence, knowledge and experience. It is impossible to know everything, we are all always learning something, and you can learn from someone who is younger in age and position. And the best position for learning is on an equal footing,” Mikhail Filippenko, General Director of Fast Reports, is convinced.

“You” gives more freedom, creates a creative atmosphere, removes unnecessary barriers. But not all people are ready for this kind of treatment, especially the older generation: they may just be uncomfortable. It is better not to create unnecessary inconvenience, and address with the usual “You”. Another disadvantage of “poking” is just the lack of barriers. Before you remove them, think about whether the team needs it?

Business etiquette. “You” or “you”?

Very often I hear interlocutors quickly switch to “you” when introducing themselves. Even more often, one of the participants starts using the word “you” without asking for permission. What is the right way and what does etiquette say about it?

From the age of 18, it is customary to address people as “you. Addressing by “you” takes place in the following cases: family relations; close, friendly relations; children’s age.

Addressing to “you” should be used regardless of social status, gender and age of the interlocutor.

Adhering to this rule of etiquette in business communication is especially important, because you represent not only yourself, but yourself as a professional, as well as a particular company. Behind you stand the name of the company, the team, the authority formed over the years.

When in doubt about the choice of form of address, it is advisable to use the more polite form of address – “you”. Addressing by “you” indicates the culture of the person who is addressing you.

The transition from “you” to “you” is an important moment in communication, a sign of a significant reduction of distance, a conscious transition to a more intimate level of relations. At times, the transition to “you” leads to a reduction in the level of mutual demands and responsibilities, the expectation of parties of greater loyalty and leniency in case of violation of agreements. Maintaining distance in business communication allows for a more constructive dialogue that meets the requirements of business and the economy. Therefore, when getting acquainted, do not rush to reduce the distance of communication, to make the relationship more intimate by switching to the “you”.

According to etiquette, the initiators of the transition to the “you” can be:

– a woman, in communication between a man and a woman;

– the elder, when communicating with the younger and the older;

– senior in status, when communicating with people of different social status.

What should you do if the person you’re talking to speaks to you “you” without asking permission? You have the right to emphasize this and say that you feel more comfortable to be “you” with him/her. In a situation where the interlocutor turns to you with a proposal to switch to “you”, and you don’t want to do this, you should not keep silent either, you should say that it would be more convenient for you to continue speaking as “you”. Further reference to you from his side as “you” or “you” will indicate his level of education and culture. Draw your own conclusions.

If the decision to switch to “you” is mutual, it indicates a desire to shorten the distance and add friendly notes in communication. The decision, as well as the responsibility for it remains with you.

One-sided “poking”, in most cases sounds rude and rude. An exception is referring to the person as “you” by a very old man or a person in a high position, as long as they do not offend the interlocutor.

Different companies and teams use different forms of address between employees. It is not uncommon for the form of address to be defined as “you”. A new employee is advised to listen to the life of the team and accept their form of address.

But even if it is customary to address each other as “you” within the team, it is advisable to address each other as “you” in front of clients, this will indicate the high culture of the organization.

Addressing one another by “you” in Russia implies the use of the respectful form of address by name and patronymic. If a stranger is in front of you, it is better to use impersonal turns: “Excuse me”, “Excuse me”, etc. Use of the words “man” and “woman” sounds vulgar. The words “girl” and “young man” with a stretch, but it is allowed to use, but only to persons really young.

Our country has not yet developed a stable form of address. References “sir”, “madam”, “comrade” are lost. Appeals “gentlemen”, “ladies” are appropriate only in business official settings: “Mr. Ivanov”, “Dear ladies and gentlemen”. The participants of the event can be addressed as follows: “Dear participants of the conference”, “Dear Tyumen citizens and guests” etc.

When choosing the form of the address please remember one of the most important rules of life and etiquette: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you”.

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