office won’t call me “lord,” everyone has ideas but won’t do the work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Everyone has ideas, but no one wants to do the work

I belong to an all-volunteer organization that does a lot of good in our community. However, most of the work is done by a small core group of volunteers. There are several others who serve on the board or committees who “contribute” primarily by generating lots of ideas for projects or approaches, but never step up to implement their ideas. They take up a lot of time in meetings and send lots of group emails that only lead to anything concrete if others do the work; if asked to help, they are always too busy. We don’t want to discourage people from participating or squash creative thinking, but we don’t want to waste time or take up the group bandwidth on ideas with no commitment behind them. In my experience, there is never a shortage of good ideas; the limiting factor is always the available volunteer time and energy. Can you suggest a way to convey that without sounding sour or hurting feelings?

One common way to do it is to require that ideas be accompanied by at least a rough outline for how they’d be accomplished and what resources would be required. That alone tends to squash a lot of pie-in-the-sky thinking. Another approach is to require that people on your board and committees commit to X number of projects per year — which would both get you more help with the actual work and drive home the point that ideas take people to implement them.

Or when someone submits an idea, you can respond with, “Sounds great! Are you able to take the lead on implementing it?” Obviously you don’t want to say that unless you really want the person to move forward, but that response can make your point pretty effectively.

You can also just be really direct about it with your members: “We are overloaded and are receiving way more ideas than we have workers to take on. Our projects for the year are X, Y, and Z. To take on anything additional, we either need to cancel one of these or have more people step up to help.”

2. Company invited alumni to “celebrate” laid off staff

A company I used to work for just laid off five people. I found out because I received an email with the header: “130 Years of CompanyName Wisdom: a Farewell Celebration for Departing Senior Employees.” The body text read, “We are saying farewell to some long-standing and treasured colleagues as CompanyName right-sizes for the strategic future we see. Departing this fall will be colleagues Sansa, Cersei, Joaquin, Wakeen, and Bob. I hope you can join us for an online celebration of their work and many impactful years with us.”

Some alumni sent reply-all responses: “I’m sorry to hear about the transitions” and “I decline to participate in an Orwellian right-sizing, transition CELEBRATION of five top human beings who have been summarily fired during a pandemic.”

What do you think? Are the reply-all responses right, or harsh? I think I’d feel humiliated if I were Sansa, Cersei, Joaquin, Wakeen, or Bob (unemployment notwithstanding). I would love a reality check from you.

The email was pretty gross. It’s worded as a celebration of “right-sizing” (an awful word which on its own deserves a harsh response). And they apparently just cc’d a whole list of people (rather than bcc’ing or using mailing list software) so that everyone’s email addresses were shared and people could easily reply-all to the whole list? That more or less guaranteed this response. Your old company bungled this in multiple ways.

3. My company won’t call me Doctor or Lord

I was hoping that you could help me with a question I have regarding the use of honorifics in workplace documentation. I have recently acquired a new honorific, and my employers are refusing to use it on the documents that I have requested it be used on. I have legal documents that also show that my title is a fully legal one and can be used on official government documents up to and including my passport. Is there anything that I can do to get my employers to use it?

Specifically, I have a doctorate and I am also legally a Lord, meaning that I should therefore legally be entitled to either go by Lord LastName or Dr LastName. My employer has already referred to me as Lord LastName in several documents as well as Dr LastName in others, but they are now refusing to use either of them in any documents and on a display board that displays pictures of members of staff and their names underneath for visitors to familiarize themselves with. My passport actually also has my name as Lord FirstName LastName, which irks me that it can be used on important legal documents and yet, my employer refuses to acknowledge it.

It’s up to your employer to decide which honorifics they use across the board. If they use Doctor for other people with non-medical doctorates but not for you, you have a valid objection. If they don’t use it for anyone, that’s a choice about their culture that they’re allowed to make. The same goes for Lord.

I’m guessing you’re not in the U.S. and I can’t speak to how this would play in another country’s culture, but I can tell you that in the U.S. continuing to push for this would mark you as out-of-touch and pompous. I’d let it drop.

4. Recruiter missed a video call with me

I am a senior nursing student graduating next May. I have started my job search since new grad nursing residency programs (year-long programs to help you adjust to the workforce and slowly let you take on more patients) fill quickly. I was contacted by a recruiter through my school’s job search engine website. There was a Q&A session that I couldn’t make, so we scheduled a one-on-one video call. From internship Q&A session calls I’ve experienced, it is basically a job interview so I made sure I dressed professionally and was prepared. I was supposed to receive an email with the meeting link over a week ago and the meeting was supposed to be 30 minutes ago but no link was ever sent. I messaged the recruiter to follow up to see if it was sent to the wrong email but I haven’t gotten a response yet. I wasn’t super interested in working for this hospital but figured it would be a good learning experience and that I might actually want to work there. Is there anything I should have done differently? The meeting was confirmed over messages and I know the time zone is the same.

It sounds like you did everything right: ensured the meeting was confirmed ahead of time, checked the time zone, and were ready and prepared. Unfortunately you encountered something that’s not uncommon in job searching: recruiters no-showing. It’s rude and inexcusable, but it happens a lot. Many recruiters just don’t prioritize candidates — and especially early-career candidates — the same way they’d prioritize other meetings. Recruiters who do this think they hold all the power and thus don’t need to be particularly considerate of candidates; they feel like they have something you want and don’t consider that, if you’re a strong candidate, you also have something they want.

All you can do is follow up (as you did) and then move on. I’m sorry it happened!

5. When’s the right time to ask about a permanent work-from-home schedule?

I am applying to a job that is currently operating remotely in an area fairly hard hit by COVID. If other organizations in the area are anything to go by, this organization will not return to normal, in-office operations until July 2021. Assuming a hiring process a few months long, I wouldn’t start working there until the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021.

I have quite enjoyed working from home. I don’t want a 100% work-from-home job, but I’d love to only go into the office 2-3 times a week. Is that something you would bring up in the hiring phase – when everything is already work-from home – or wait until things start to return to the office, and you’ve had 6+ months to illustrate what you can do when working 100% remotely?

It’s not a dealbreaker for me, but I’ve never tried to negotiate anything other than salary. I’m not sure whether it makes sense to bring up something like that at this stage, given the circumstances. (For what it’s worth, the role would report directly to the executive director/founder of the org.)

It depends on how much capital you have. If you’re skilled and in-demand, you have more standing to try to negotiate it as part of your offer before you accept (and get it in writing if you do that!). If you don’t have much of a track record yet, you might be better off waiting until you’ve proved yourself for a while — although of course if you go that route, there’s a risk that their eventual answer will be no, so it also depends on how much of a deal-breaker a no would be for you. Basically, though, it comes down to how much they want to hire you. If they’re strongly motivated to get you to accept, the best time to ask for the schedule you want is while they’re trying to get you to come onboard.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

{ 813 comments… read them below }

  1. bookartist*

    LW#3 – Noblesse oblige, my lord. Surely it would be more gracious to display a certain humility in the workplace, where you would never dream of using your title to unduly influence your co-workers.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I remember when one of our customers, “John Smith”, was knighted (he was already a doctor and a professor). We had no idea what to call him. Doctor Smith? Sir John? Doctor Professor Sir John Smith? Just Professor?

      We finally asked. He said everyone called him by his nickname (“Skip”) and that wasn’t going to stop because of a title. If we really wanted to, we could call him Sir Skip, but he couldn’t promise not to laugh when we did so.

      I very much liked Sir Skip.

      1. Courtney*

        Sir Skip sounds like a great person, I think LW#3 could learn from Sir Skip. I think LW#3 is excited about their new title, which is understandable, but they’re not considering how pompous and out of touch they are coming across.

        Honestly I would be excited to be ‘Lady Courtney’ but I also think I might be more joking about the title – i.e. forcing my boss to call me Lady (he and I have a relationship where he would do it to mock me, and I would find that funny). I don’t think I would want it on my email signature or office door though.

        1. AnotherCourtney*

          “Lady Courtney” cracks me up additionally as one of the French origins of the name have to do with, roughly, “Lady of the Court”.

        2. LunaLena*

          I can understand being excited about a new title, but I also have to wonder how they got it. I recently learned that you can legitimately buy a title online, complete with documentation, history, and court transfer (obviously no property or money comes with it, though) so you can have it put on your driver’s license, passport, etc. It’s not terribly unaffordable either, they ranged from a couple of thousand dollars to over a million for a royal title. I was kind of tempted to buy a count/countess-ship for myself and my husband that would have cost around $1500, but decided I didn’t want to spend that much on what would essentially be a joke for us.

          Not saying that that’s necessarily how LW3 got theirs, just that it’s not necessarily terribly impressive and therefore might not be worth making a stand over.

          1. Hiya*

            Sounds spot on. Except for knighthoods most places aren’t handing out other titles these days. I actually know a son of a British lord so his title would be Honorable not only does he not use it he actively gets annoyed if anyone else does. My doctorate friends are the same. They only use it when being announced at speaking engagements where the credentials matter

            1. staceyizme*

              The system of titles is anachronistic for most of society whether we’re referring to purchased or hereditary honorifics in this category. I don’t think that Americans give much oxygen or space to the use of honorifics, generally. We’re kind of a first name bunch in most contexts, and it’s presumed that your students, patients, parishioners or clients know your qualifications and value them. Others, generally speaking, have no need to know. We can be downright churlish about resisting titles and honorifics in contexts where they’re superfluous or just irrelevant. For the LW- it’s considered somewhat charming to be discovered in the possession of a talent, a title, honorific or other trait such as beauty, wealth, expertise etc… somewhat by accident (and without you’re having announced it). In such instances, those possessing such commodities are often credited with discretion, humility or a winsome lack of self-focus. Something to ponder, perhaps.

            2. Sinister Serina*

              Yes-my Dad had a Ph.D and the only people who used the title were his students. He earned it, but he thought it was pretentious to use it unless you were a medical doctor.

              1. QEire*

                Same. Mine used to say, that his Ph.D. and a buck would get you a cup of coffee. Of course it’s more like five bucks now.

            3. mgguy*

              I’m a young-ish professor in the US, and I insist my students address me by title(either Dr. or Professor, I don’t care which).

              I didn’t start out doing this-I’d rather students call me by my first name. After what you might call some classroom management problems my first semester doing this full time, a more senior faculty member sat me down and suggested that, as a good start, I should use titles and not first name. Their logic for that was that I’m young enough(sometimes younger than my students depending on the class) that if I get too “friendly” students are less likely to actually respect me as a superior when it matters, such as contesting a grade or something like that.

              Insisting on titles, at least in introductory level classes, I’ve found is a big help. It’s not “I’m the big professor and you’re the little peon who doesn’t matter” but more that “Yes, I am leading this class and call the shots in it-not you.” Depending on the class, I do often loosen up as the semester progresses, but it’s important to establish authority upfront.

              I’ll also mention that upper level classes are a different ball game. I’ve often had many of the students before, and also may well have worked with them in more of a colleague-type subordinate relationship(think as teaching assistants and the like) as well as just generally knowing them. There, yeah, it’s first names.

              Of course too, when you’re in a PhD granting department, in my roles I’ve interacted with most of the graduate students(in my first years most of them I’d been in grad school with). When someone defends, it’s a pretty common thing for everyone to call them Doctor for a day or two after(often Dr. FirstName), but they’ll usually get tired of it by then and tell everyone to knock it off.

              I’ve worked with plenty of faculty members though who probably expect their own mother to call them “Doctor” or “Professor.”

              1. Retired Prof*

                Coming in late but wanted to note: it’s also a nice rite of passage for students to move from your title to your first name. So have first-year students or General Ed students call you by your title. Then you can invite them to use your first name when they move to more of a mentoring relationship.

            1. LunaLena*

              Nah, it wasn’t one of those. The ones I saw (it was a site called nobility dot co dot uk) claim that they are actual, legit titles with a history, and when you purchase one it goes through lawyers and courts so it’s an actual legal transfer. That’s why you can put it on identification papers like passports, whereas you can’t with Sealandia titles and those “buy a 1 sqft land” ones.

              For example, one of their listings is for the Irish Barony of Delvin, priced at $32,500. The description says “Very rare genuine Irish Barony of Delvin dating back to 12th century. With hunting, fishing and mineral rights. Valued at £30,000 priced to sell. Held in private ownership for 20 years from Viscount Gormanston.”

              I’ve often wondered how legit these sites are from a UK point of view.

              1. Colin Watson*

                The barony of Delvin hasn’t been part of the UK since Irish independence happened, and the constitution of Ireland forbids the state from conferring titles of nobility. So basically total BS, and colonialist BS at that.

          2. Ann O'Nemity*

            I did not realize this was a thing! But sure enough, according to Google, you can buy a plot of land in Scotland for as little at $49 and become a Lord or Lady. I find this simultaneously humorous and disappointing.

            1. Flor*

              The funniest part is that you’re not actually getting anything there; you “own” a miniscule bit of land you can’t do anything with and the Lord Lyon (the authority on titles in Scotland) refuses to recognise the title, making it meaningless. It’s no different from me pronouncing myself Duchess of Auchtermuchty and insisting on being addressed as “Your Grace”.

          3. Kitrona*

            I got the impression that it was the PhD that was new, as he has “Lord Muck” on his passport. In which case, I’d be telling everyone to call me Doctor, but that might just be me. :)

            1. Not that kind of doctor*

              You wouldn’t be. I have a PhD, and I promise you for the vast majority of us we think it’s obnoxious for people with PhDs to be asked to be called Dr. outside of academia. The non-faculty staff at my school emails most of us addressing us as “Professor” or “Doctor” and I think we are all pretty quick to make clear we want to be called by our first names by everyone but the students.

              1. littledoctor*

                Yeah, for the most part only medical doctors use the title socially, and even then, only the most obnoxious of medical doctors.

              2. mgguy*

                With the faculty-staff thing, having been there(and even holding the same degree)-it depends on the faculty member. I knew plenty of faculty members by their first name, including my own advisor, in grad school. Others still expect me to call them Dr. or Professor because I’m still just a lowly grad student no matter how long I’ve been out and earned the same degree as they have(one of the hazards of staying in the same department where you earned your degree, and why I’m glad to be gone). Still others I think expect their own mother to call them doctor.

              3. KJB*

                I used to work for a guy with a PhD and he loved to say “you can trust me, I’m a doctor” in a tech setting. This was not endearing, and I still remember it, decades later. On the flip side, prior to that job I worked for a different PhD who went by “Steve” because everyone in the office went by their first names. I liked him very very much.

          4. Parenthetically*

            Yes, I’ve seen those ads too — people talking about how it gets them travel upgrades and better treatment in airports and hotels and whatever. I hope OP comes and says it’s a legitimate inherited title and not one of those, “I clicked a link on Facebook and bought a tenth of a hectare of land in Scotland so I could +~*technically*~+ be Lord Donald Metcalf, III, of Hershey, Pa. and Aberdeenshire.”

            1. Susana*

              Actually, “inherited” makes it somehow less legit to me – since it’s really about coming from a family of wealth and privilege.

              1. Elsewhere*

                More frequently these days the title survives long after all the family money has been spent. You can still be Lord fface-Palme or Lady Hedde-Desske and be poor as a church mouse.

      2. londonedit*

        I don’t know if it’s the same with Doctor, but I know that if you already have a military title, that still goes first when you’re knighted. We have a 100-year-old chap here who raised an unbelievable amount for charity at the beginning of the pandemic by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday – it was one of those things that just captured the nation and went from a low-key thing to absolutely huge – and in recognition of his efforts he’s now Captain Sir Tom Moore.

          1. UKDancer*

            He has I think just published his autobiography if you want to read it and it’s available on Amazon.

              1. London Calling*

                He’s amazing. He set out to raise £ 1,000 and ended up raising IIRC £ 33,000,000.

        1. Thistle Whistle*

          He was given an honory upgrade in title to Colonel and although he has gone and done some Colonel roles such as inspecting troops graduating fron military college, he says he just uses Captain as he earned that one.

          Ps. One of the papers serialised bits of his story. He talks about everything including his sex life.

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          See, there’s another cultural difference. In the US, we usually don’t use military titles socially, especially not in retirement. I grew up in an Air Force town, the fathers of my friends were all majors or lieutenant colonels, but those were job titles, not part of their names.

          The few exceptions you see to this are officers who went into politics or were otherwise famous, and even then the rank isn’t used consistently.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Fun fact/side note: Col. Sanders was not a military title; he was a “Kentucky Colonel” which is an honorary bestowed by the governor of Kentucky purely for civic reasons. I lived in Kentucky two years and personally know several Kentucky Colonels because they’ll let you nominate just about anyone ;)

            1. an infinite number of monkeys*

              My grandfather was one! The title was bestowed when I was very little, and I thought it meant his picture would be replacing Sanders’s on all the KFC branding. I was pretty let down when I found out that wasn’t the case.

            2. I edit everything*

              I’m a Kentucky Colonel. If I ever get my name on a building directory, I will insist that it be used.

                1. I edit everything*

                  I’m going to have to include that on the business cards I’ll never get around to printing.

              1. SadieMae*

                I live in Kentucky and I know a guy who actually calls himself “Colonel (last name).” Unironically. It gives the impression he was in the military, but really it’s just a Kentucky Colonelship, which is super common to the point where it’s a bit of a joke. It’s such a weird flex that he does this!

              2. SJJ*

                I’m also a KY Colonel and I never thought about insisting on the use of my KY Colonel-hood as part of my name… until now… Thank you, AAM Community!

                Colonel SJJ, at your service!

                1. I edit everything*

                  Yeah, I’m thinking of changing my screen name now. Colonel Edits? Colonel Edits Everything?

                  I take my commission so seriously, I’ve never once updated my info with them, so they still have me with my maiden name, living at my parents’ house, which no longer belongs to them. I got it for being an RA for a state summer program for high school kids. It was part of our compensation package.

            3. hayling*

              Same thing in Louisiana. There was a governor who gave them out left and right. I knew someone who had an online “doctorate” from a diploma mill and an online “ordination” from one of those websites that lets you be whatever religious leader level you want. He literally went by Reverend Doctor Colonel Fazzio but told people to call him “Doc,” and he was…a character. I am pretty sure he legally changed his name to Colonel.

              1. hayling*

                Ahahahah I just found his name listed in his mother’s obit, he called himself
                “Rev. C.R. “Doc” Fazzio, Ph.D Aka “Faz”/Colonel”, people like this are too much

              2. Jules the 3rd*

                My dad has a PhD in biology (taught university), and bought one of those ordinations (Pastafarian, iirc, maybe to officiate a wedding). He also now has a Flying Spaghetti Monster costume. Some of his old students call him Doc, but everyone else just uses his first name.

                I like that way better than Rev. Dr. Dad.

            4. Chinook*

              In Canada, honorary Colonels are a thing with a lot of the regiments and military units. Don Cherry and Rick Mercer are two that come to mind and they are as much for troop morale as for honouring someone’s public support of the military. It has been like that since forever, it just used to be that the “celebrity” Colonels used to be/still are royalty.

            5. Evan Þ.*

              Fun fact: Nebraska also gives out honorary titles, of “Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.” Unsurprisingly given the map, that Great Navy has no existence outside those honorary admiralties.

            6. Not that kind of doctor*

              I’m from Kentucky too. My parents managed to get our dog made a Ky Colonel. The certificate was framed and hung proudly in our house for years.

            7. mgguy*

              Lifelong Kentuckian here(well, not anymore, but up until a few months ago). I have one hanging in my office right by my diplomas. It’s a fun conversation piece, but even before I’d been named one myself it was a 5 minute phone call(I’m from Frankfort-I have enough contacts in pretty much every branch of state government that-not to brag-I can lean on if need be to get a lot of information or make things happen-that’s how Kentucky politics work in a lot of ways) to request one as a gift for someone else and a few weeks later I’d have a giant envelope from “Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky” in my mailbox.

              We’d often get them at work as a fun gift for special distinguished speakers or other guests and of course have a lot of fun making the presentation.

              My grandfather had four of the things, all signed by different governors(oldest from one of his idol, Happy Chandler, and newest from Steve Beshear). That was enough that my dad and each of my aunts and uncles got one after he passed away.

          2. Ellie Mayhem*

            My brother is a Major General, and we (his siblings) frequently use it to lovingly mock him in public.

              1. Ellie Mayhem*

                That’s heavily in the rotation, yes. He’s a good sport about it all, thankfully, and we’re extremely proud of his service and accomplishments.

                1. Indigo a la mode*

                  (but seriously, wow, that’s an incredible accomplishment and I appreciate his service.)

          3. Artemesia*

            In the south they love military titles and it is common to use those of retired military forever in social settings. My husband was an Ast AG at one point and in certain political circles the old pols always addressed him as ‘General’. Now Attorneys General are not a military rank and the ‘general’ part means ‘general attorney’ not a rank — but they love to use it anyway. We thought it was mildly hilarious when the old Senator always addressed him as General. (reminded me of the ‘Counts’ in the Vorkossigan saga which were originally accountants and were not a rank of nobility)

          4. Chinook*

            Ditto in Canada, unless your private job is somehow connected to the military or you are already known publicly by that name. The only example I can think where that may happen is with one of the senators, Romeo Dallaire, as many of us got to know him through his work in Rwanda as a General, but it isn’t required.

            The only time DH has used his retired military rank as “fancy letters” after his name is when he joined me to place a wreath in the Parliament building for Remembrance Day. Even now, when he retires from by a police officer, I can’t see him using those retired letters except in government documents (which would go in order of service – Cpl. Ret’d, Cst. (RCMP) Ret’d).

          5. Not Jane*

            I was listening to a podcast this morning and the episode was an interview with colonel Vindman. The host started out by asking what she should call him – retired lieutenant colonel Vindman, colonel Vindman, lieutenant Vindman, and he said “call me Alex”.

            1. Aka*

              A lieutenant colonel or lieutenant commander should be addressed as colonel or commander (name) when speaking to them. Definitely not lieutenant.

          6. Corporate Goth*

            This is definitely different in other countries, depending on where you’re at. “Engineer Doctor Snuffy,” for instance.

        3. madge*

          Thank you for this comment – I’d never heard of him, just googled him and he’s delightful plus he’s on Twitter! He’s more active on Twitter than I ever thought of being…

        4. Jamboree*

          That guy made international news, actually. At least I heard about it here in DC. The Knighthood happened, if it’s the same one I’m thinking of which I believe it is, on the hundredth anniversary is … something. Now i have to go google before I obsess all afternoon!

          1. Jamboree*

            HIS hundredth birthday! Good I hope I replied correctly or this comment won’t make any sense at all.

      3. Anna*

        That sounds like another version of the thing where normal people wear normal clothes, rich & famous people wear expensive designer clothes, but people who have had more money than they can count for generations dress like homeless folk because they are long past having to impress anyone.

        1. Faith*

          That reminds me of a friend I made while studying abroad; he came from wealth, whereas I came from normalcy+backwoods Appalachia. I noticed a big rip in the sleeve of one of my favorite sweaters while we were having coffee or lunch and was upset that I’d have to probably get rid of it b/c it wasn’t at a seam where I could fix it, and he was all “that just makes it better! Now it has personality!” I was like “…okay, this explains a lot about your wardrobe, actually.”

      4. ThatGirl*

        My husband is a giant Star Wars nerd who teaches one class a semester – a sort of “intro to college” class for freshmen – and since he’s otherwise a staff member at his college and not a full-time instructor he doesn’t want to be called “Professor” or even “Mister” anything. He tells students to call him by his first name, but he says “if you feel like you need to use a title, call me Jedi Master Wakeen” and normally everyone laughs and moves on. Well, this semester several of his students have decided they liked that, so every email he gets from them is addressed to Jedi Master Wakeen. I find this hilarious. He loves it.

        1. Teapot Tía*

          When I was a grad student, my half of the department (biotechnology) told me explicitly to tell my students to address me as Professor because I still looked about 12. Meanwhile, my office mate in the other half of the department (biology) was explicitly told not to, because she hadn’t earned it. The fact that biotech had more money & students (though the entire faculty also taught bio & the curriculum massively overlapped) I’m sure had nothing to do with this.

        2. Glenn*

          My college advisor would introduce himself to the new class of freshmen this way:

          “Doctor Lastname is my wife. Mister Lastname is my father. Please call me Mark.” (He’s the only faculty member there without a PhD, as far as I know. I never learned the story of how that came to pass…)

      5. Duchess of the Mucky Pup*

        I worked for Lady Let’s-Call-Her-Arya. It was my first job (TV industry) and I was told very early on never to refer to her by her title, only ever as “Arya”.

        1. DarnTheMan*

          Sounds like one of my former bosses; she was a curator who was a BFD within her specific field and had three PhDs but always went by Phyllis to everyone who worked with her. You knew someone outside our work had annoyed her if she ever introduced herself as ‘Dr. BFD’ instead of saying ‘you can call me Phyllis.’

      6. Rachel in NYC*

        I think this goes to something my supervisor said along these lines the other. We work with a lot of doctors- both MDs and Ph.Ds (sometimes in a single person). The further in their career people are the less they care about the title.

        Tenured track? Has their own lab? Well-known and respected in their field? probably doesn’t care about the title.

        Just starting out? Feels less than? cares a lot about the title

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My dad and brother are both PhDs and they are “Doctor” only to their students. And then mostly to their intro students; I think it tends to slide as they get to know each other better.

        2. Annony*

          Depending on the context, it can also be about credentials and being taken seriously. Someone who is well established doesn’t need to worry about it while someone who is just starting out is more likely to be dismissed and not seen as having the expertise. If some people are being referred to as Dr. Soandso while others are referred to by only their first name, there is a problem.

          1. Anonymouse*

            Yes! I’m in healthcare, and (anecdotally) more female physicians at my hospital–particularly those in male-dominated specialties–wear their white coats consistently and introduce themselves using their title. This is also definitely true for the younger physicians!

            1. jose*

              Yup, my spouse is in academia but looks young, so she uses “Dr.” to make it clear that she is at the same level as the other faculty and not a student (which is the assumption people often make if they hear others call her by her first name).

              1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                One of my more embarrassing moments as a freshman at University was calling to a fellow freshman “hey you, do you know where Prof. So-and-So’s Materials science 101 lecture is?”
                He answered “yeah, right there in the large auditorium”. I found my seat among some 600 other students… and up to the stage went said freshman, introducing himself as said professor. Not 30 years old, fully tenured, more publications to his name than some others at 50.
                He was a good sport about it and not offended – I tried to apologize when I ran into him at a pub the other day.
                In German, there is a clear distinction between informal “du” generally reserved for children, friends and family but acceptable among students, and formal “Sie” used to address adults, more so for persons of respect. Ouch!

          2. Butterfly Counter*

            Exactly this. I’m a youngish woman in my field.

            I personally don’t care how my students address me. I DO care that they respect me, my experience, and my authority in the classroom. I’ve found one of the quickest ways to get those things that I care about is to introduce myself using my title. After a class or two, if they’re respectful in all the ways I care about, they can address me how they like in person or email (as long as it isn’t “Mrs.” *shudder*).

        3. Anhaga*

          “Just starting out? Feels less than? cares a lot about the title”

          In the humanities, this happens frequently due to the need to enforce boundaries, especially for younger female professors. Requiring your students to use either your job title or your degree’s honorific is a handy, easily-justified way to reinforce that you are not their buddy and that yes, you do have authority over them. College students can be obnoxious to young, female instructors.

          1. Anonymous at a University*

            +1 I’m a young-looking female professor in the humanities (regularly mistaken for 10 years younger than my actual age, at that), and I’ve had students refuse to believe I knew what I was talking about, that I didn’t have the right to grade or fail them, that I wouldn’t impose consequences for plagiarism or cheating because “ladies are nice,” that I was there to mother them, and I can’t even tell you how many other assumptions. I did try to let students call me by my first name as an experiment, and I had them saying things like, “I thought you were my friend!” when they failed. Plus, I hated it.

            I have colleagues with much more porous boundaries and who go by their first names to everyone, but they’re all older, male, and/or have boundary issues (like going to students’ houses for Thanksgiving) that would make run screaming in the other direction. People can choose to go by their titles with students for reasons that have nothing to do with being stuck-up or precious.

            1. Artemesia*

              plenty of research that shows female professors are expected to be nurturing mothers and if they are, they are not respected, and if they aren’t they are given low ratings. Hard for women to get the strong teaching assessments that are critical at some stages of the career.

            2. Bibliovore*

              This- I refer to all women by their academic title unless specifically instructed to do otherwise. Tenured faculty, male have the the privilege within the academy to “wave” their title, as rarely would anyone be “mistaking them for a departmental assistant” or a person who has not earned their rank. This goes double for anyone presenting non-white. If I am ever in a public setting, I make sure that I use academic titles even if I in a more casual circumstance, I would not.

          2. slmrlln*

            This. I am a young female professor. Most students use my title, but I correct the ones who don’t. Across our institution (and most of academia), it’s expected that students not use their professor’s first name unless they’re invited to do so. That’s fine, and I do invite my upper level students to use my first name. But when a student’s first communication of the semester is an email starting “dear Mrs. X,” I get annoyed. Even worse if I’m team teaching and the email starts “dear Dr. Man and Mrs. Woman”. This happens more often then you would think. I have never had a semester without at least one “dear Mrs. X”. Most of them are not consciously being disrespectful. I had one female student apologize profusely and say that she didn’t know women could get PhDs. Learning is what college is for, so I’ve come up with a non-harsh way to correct them, but in the end, the PhD is the reason why I’m standing in front of the room and they’re not. It does matter. It should matter to them, because expertise is what they’re paying tuition for.

            I don’t make a big deal of titles to my colleagues (who respect my work) or to random people (who have no reason to care).

            1. Sinister Serina*

              Your students-jeez. I had many female professors (and this 30 years ago!) and I wouldn’t have dreamed of calling them by anything other than their title. Maybe it was because my Dad had a Ph.D and so I knew to use the title, even he didn’t really care about using it himself.

            2. Athlum*

              THIIIIIIS this this this. I am now a fairly senior member of our university administration, with a specific title that is held exclusively by PhDs in the academic divisions and by MBA non-PhDs in the financial divisions. Everyone on campus, including my staff, either calls me by my first name (totally fine!) or Dr. Lastname if they don’t know me so well (also totally fine, and then I sign my email reply Firstname anyway). Faculty who normally call me Firstname refer to me as “Dr. Lastname” in emails that include students, specifically to set the expectation for them that you open with the honorific when you’re talking to the administration, and that’s fine, and I still sign those email replies with Firstname too.

              But the outside people. Oh God, the outside people. At LEAST once a week, I get a “Ms. Lastname” from them. And it just grates on me, because I’ve been Dr. Lastname for more than a decade now, and you basically have to be full professor rank to be qualified for this job, and this NEVER EVER EVER happened to my predecessor in the role, who was, of course, male.

              I don’t give two wet poops about formality, but I have come to absolutely despise being called “Ms. Lastname” by…anyone, really, but especially in my work context where my name and credentials are all over emails, legal documents, and every page of our website. It’s such a gendered form of disrespect. (I am also sometimes on the receiving end of those “Dr. Man and Ms. Me” emails – where the Dr. Man is a more junior faculty member who reports to me – and those replies I passive-aggressively sign with “Thanks, (Dr.) Firstname Lastname” because F that noise.)

          3. not really a professor*

            I struggled with this my first year in the classroom. I have a full-time job outside academia and no terminal degree, but I teach a course on my professional area of expertise as an adjunct. My field has a lot of contact with higher ed, so I am very aware that “Professor” is not a title you get just by walking into a college classroom, but I also wanted to emphasize that I was in charge, since I was barely 30, looked younger, and was teaching students who were around my own age.

            Now I’ve been doing it for a few years and just say “call me [firstname].”

        4. Teapot Tía*

          In my grad school department the more outwardly successful half (biotechnology, which was relatively new at the time) didn’t care & told me to have my students address me as Professor because I looked so young. The other half, traditional Biology, was extremely strict about who was entitled to which honorific.
          Most biotech faculty also were/taught bio, but guess which sub had more money.

        5. TootsNYC*

          I once went to see a doctor about tennis elbow. His residents and nursing staff were clearly in awe of him and spoke of “Dr. Allen” with great respect, bordering on reverence.

          The resident did the initial exam, and then Dr. Allen came in. He looked at me very directly, clearly “seeing” me, held out his hand and said, quite casually, “Hi, I’m Answorth.”

          It completely weirded me out.

          In general, it’s impolite to introduce yourself with an honorific; those are to be used by other people (you say, “hello, I’m Toots Galore,” and they say, “Hello, Ms. Galore”). But doctors and teachers often DO use them, if only to clearly identify what their authority/expertise is, or (for teachers) to indicate what you are supposed to call them.

          Clearly, Answorth Allen doesn’t think he needs to remind you that he’s a doctor, and he seems to value making a personal connection with his patients. (He does a lot of pro sports doctor-ing, and I’d imagine that’s very much a “partnership” kind of relationship; he seems to bring that into his interactions with other patients.)

        6. CSG*

          Ah, PhD’s… Typically takes 4 – 6 years to get one and but thankfully, usually only a year or two to get over it.

          I used Dr. for a bit for flight reservations etc for a while but I don’t think it really gets you special treatment so I don’t anymore. And if there’s a medical emergency on a flight, I don’t want to be all “yes yes, but I think what you are looking for is a *medical doctor*”.

          Anyways, I’m not in academia anymore but an industry scientist. About a quarter of us have PhDs, the rest a mix of MSc’s and BSc’s. There is in my experience *zero* correlation between productivity, insight, intelligence or scientific acumen and academic credential.

          Every once in a while you run into people who *must* let everyone know that they have a PhD in the first five minutes or so. They’re usually compensating.

      7. Quill*

        I knew a skip in high school! He was a Eugene the third, so… apparently he got the name by yelling “skip that one!” once during roll call.

        He would not have minded Sir Skip, especially when we worked at the ren faire.

      8. BettyRogers*

        I had a recuiter who did no show up to an interview by skype that was set late at night. I wrote him, saying I was still available to reschedule. He wrote me back the day after, very apologetic and obvioulsy he felt bad. His baby was having rough night and he was exhausted and just felt asleep with the baby when putting him to sleep. We reschedule and it was still overall my best experience with a recruiter. They are human too, sometime inexpected things come up in their life. Just follow up politely and stay open.

        1. GS*

          Thank you for saying this. I am a recruiter. I am once again working a 12 – 15 hour day. I do not get paid OT. I am so tired. I am tired of pushy candidates insisting on having a call when all they want to do is pitch themselves – like sorry – that is going to be lower priority. Forcing me to speak to you when you don’t have actual questions is a waste of my time and I need as much of it as I can get. I am tired of inefficient procedures. I am tired of having far more work to do than I have hours in the day. I am taking vacation next week and I will have to work. I would appreciate if people didn’t act like recruiters were just swanning around, power mad. We are people too.

      9. Amber Rose*

        I’d be calling him Sir Skip constantly to make him laugh. And also because it’s fun to say.

      10. Jess*

        Yea, I am pretty sure that HRH Princess Eugenie (formerly “of York” before her marriage) is just called “Eugenie York” on her employer’s website in her bio. Similarly, the former Kate Middleton, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has used “Mrs. Cambridge” when asking a shopkeeper to put an item on hold for her.

        I can understand wanting to use “Dr.” professionally, since it is a title that he presumably worked very hard for and is (possibly) of relevance to his professional qualifications. But if he is British and his name is “Lord First Last” then it is based on who his dad is (either a Duke or Marquess) and so using it in a workplace context seems….odd.

        1. TootsNYC*

          If I understand this correctly, it’s rude to use an honorific FOR YOURSELF.

          There’s a bit in a Dorothy Sayers’ first Peter Wimsey novel, where Peter presents his visiting card to an American businessman, and realizes the American businessman doesn’t know how to properly address him, because of course you do NOT put “Lord Peter Wimsey” on your OWN business card.
          That’s the height of gaucheness.

          So any company documents would really be you, not your company, giving your own name.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Found it!

            and oops–I take it ALL back.

            Mr. John P. Milligan, the London representative of the great Milligan railroad and shipping company, was dictating code cables to his secretary in an office in Lombard Street, when a card was brought up to him, bearing the simple legend:

            Marlborough Club

            Mr. Milligan was annoyed at the interruption, but, like many of his nation, if he had a weak point, it was the British aristocracy. He postponed for a few minutes the elimination from the map of a modest but promising farm, and directed that the visitor should be shown up.

            “Good-afternoon,” said that nobleman, ambling genially in, “it’s most uncommonly good of you to let me come round wastin’ your time like this. I’ll try not to be too long about it, though I’m not awfully good at comin’ to the point. My brother never would let me stand for the county, y’know—said I wandered on so nobody’d know what I was talkin’ about.”

            “Pleased to meet you, Lord Wimsey,” said Mr. Milligan. “Won’t you take a seat?”

            “Thanks,” said Lord Peter, “but I’m not the Duke, you know—that’s my brother Denver. My name’s Peter…”

        2. Bibliovore*

          I met a princess once. She introduced herself (or maybe someone else introduced her) and said- first name of country. Like Eleanor of Spain. I misheard and introduced myself as Bibliovore Contstant-Reader from Brooklyn.

          1. Troutwaxer*

            That needs a “Sir” in front of it, unless you’re not a sir. Sir Bibliovore Constant-Reader. (Or Lady Bibliovore Constant-Reader) Very, very posh either way. I love it!

      11. Luke*

        Sir Skip sounds like a helluva guy.

        I watched a clip from a sci-fi convention where Brent Spiner brought the house down taking audience questions while doing a spot on impression of his co-star Sir Patrick Stewart

        “You know, my friends all call me ‘Patrick’, so *you* may address me as *Sir Mister Stewart*.”

    2. Np*

      Not that it changes things (I definitely don’t think it’s a wise move professionally or socially to insist on honorifics), but I wonder — purely out of nosiness — if OP3 has availed himself of those services where you can apparently buy a square foot of land and have a title bestowed upon you.

      Whatever way you’ve acquired your title, OP3, I agree with Alison that it’s best to drop this. Not a hill you want to die on…

      1. Gaia*

        It was my first thought. Which would make it even more out of touch. But in any case, OP needs to drop it

      2. Stormfeather*

        I’ll admit that’s pretty much where my thoughts went – the mentions of “legal documents” and recent acquisition with no mention of how it was received (“I was honored to be knighted by…” or whatever) especially make me think of the “buy a square foot of land and gain a title” thing. Doubly especially when I went to refresh my memory of them and the first one I clicked on has a photo of a passport using “Lord.” The quick reversal of “oh, they’re legally a lord, we should start to address them as such if they want… hey wait a minute” also smells like someone that looked into such a thing more and decided not to go with it. And in that case OP, yes, I’d just grit my teeth and bear it and drop it all together lest you look even more out of touch.

        All that being said, it’s completely possible I’m wrong and putting the wrong slant on this, and it is in fact in a place where the title of Lord is supposed to mean something, and the title was granted through other means, in which case I shrug and have no real suggestion.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I especially wondered this because traditionally, “Lord Firstname” would be the proper usage, not “Lord Lastname” as far as any version I’ve ever heard.

          If they’re a peer of a particular location, it would be “Lord Location-name” — for a made-up example, if Wakeen Shutzwell is the Earl of Fallowshire, then he is neither Lord Shutzwell nor Lord Wakeen, but Lord Fallowshire. But if he’s a lord-by-courtesy because he’s the son of the Earl of Fallowshire, he would be Lord Wakeen. Every once in a while, the surname and the location name are identical, so Wakeen Shutzwell is the Baron Schutzwell or the Viscount Shutzwell, and therefore he becomes Lord Shutzwell, but AFAIK that would still technically be because it’s their estate title, not because it’s their last name, even though the same word is used for both.

          I’m an American and only looking at British usage, so insert disclaimers here. But I’m a little curious about how exactly this LW got to a title of Lord Lastname.

          1. Anonymouse*

            Agreed! There’s ‘Experts’ in this field. It’s highly complicated, and has centuries of rules, and frankly why ANYONE would want to mess with it publicly befuddles me! There’s very little practical gain, and the myth you’ll get free plane seat upgrades and hotel stays is just a sales pitch.

          2. Nic*

            If I’m remembering correctly there are a few UK peerages that have the same name as the family surname, but it’s definitely a rarity.

                1. Snuck*

                  Whoops. I’m wrong. A younger son of a Duke can be given a courtesy title of “Lord”. Still probably not worth fighting over!

                2. TootsNYC*

                  but he still doesn’t give that title to himself. It’s just the term of address OTHERS would use, sort of like a different category of “Mr.”

                3. Working Hypothesis*

                  Yes, but even if he’s a courtesy Lord by being the younger son of a Duke, it would be used with his first name, not his last. Hence why the fictional character everyone keeps citing was properly not called “Lord Wimsey” but simply “Lord Peter.”

                  What makes me think the lordship was either bought or very recently inherited from an unexpected source is that unless he’s picked it up by an extremely obscure method I can’t find any information about, he’s misunderstanding the way the title is used. Someone who’d grown up with it or grown up expecting to inherit it would, I would think, know how it works.

              1. KateM*

                So you think that by “recently acquired a new honorific” OP3 meant “I was adopted by a lord”?

                1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

                  Or possibly a distant relative died and now the whole family have titles!

                  But I feel like, as a weirdo who pays attention to the British aristocracy, I would have heard about that.

                2. Miso*

                  I assumed the doctorate was the newly acquired one.

                  And honestly, it doesn’t sound like the LW wants to be called Lord So-and-so in the office, but just on documents and on that board that shows the team. I feel like that’s a completely fair wish.

                3. WS*

                  A local doctor inherited a British title from a distant cousin! He chose to use neither “Earl” nor “Doctor” in person but remained “Fred”.

                4. Kali*

                  I thought the new honorific was doctor and he’s always been a lord. It’s phrased ambiguously to start with. But, then it seems like it’s Lord he’s pushing for which does make that sound like the new one.

                  I wonder if, on the board he’s talking about, they’re switched to “Mr” or removed titles entirely? If the former, I’d be a bit more on his side because “Mr” is actually wrong, while omitting titles for everyone is more reasonable.

                5. Yorick*

                  The recent one is definitely the doctorate. He didn’t say being a lord was recent or old, so I assumed it was old.

                6. Aquawoman*

                  I think the lordship is recent, because he says he recently acquired a title that can be legally used on everything including passports and then later says since he can be called Lord Whatever on his passport, they should use it at work. Connecting those dots suggests to me that (at least) the Lord title is recent (if not both).

              2. SheriffFatman*

                Hah! Came here to say just that, beat me to it.

                I’ll just add “or of a marquess”.

                1. Jess*

                  Well it’s possible that his grandfather, the Duke or Marquess, just died and so his dad just inherited the family title. As a younger son he wouldn’t be entitled to whatever subsidiary title the family holds (Earl or Viscount or whathaveyou) but he would have been upgraded to being a Lord when his dad inherited the title. As the grandson of a Duke, he wouldn’t have had that title before.

            1. SheriffFatman*

              For newly created peerages, which are almost always life peerages (i.e. the title dies with the bearer), it’s the norm. E.g. the veteran Conservative MP Ken Clarke recently got “kicked upstairs” with the title Lord Clarke.

          3. londonedit*

            I think actually it’s usually Lord Lastname and Sir Firstname (taking the example of Alan Sugar, who’s the main chap on the UK Apprentice). When he was Sir, everyone called him Sir Alan, but since he got a peerage he’s now referred to as Lord Sugar. Same for Sir Alex (Ferguson), Dame Shirley (Bassey) etc. Sir Ferguson sounds wrong.

            1. Jack Be Nimble*

              If I’m remembering my Miss Manners correctly, you can use Lord and Lady with a first name for an inherited peerage, but with a new peerage (bestowed? created?) you’re Lord or Lady last name. So Lord Ambrose inherited his lordship, but Lord Jones earned it however one earns a lordship.

                1. Jack Be Nimble*

                  I remember Miss Manners saying something about Lord Ambrose having earned his title by putting up with his father, so I suppose that’s one avenue to success!

          4. Media Monkey*

            British here and thinking of someone like Lord Bath (recently deceased owner of Longleat Safari Park) that rings true. i know what my colleagues and i would think of someone insisting on using a title and it’s not good. would sound out of step to any company who doesn’t use mr and mrs for everyone at least! to be honest british people would often roll their eyes at someone who was knighted insisting on using their titles (thinking of sir alan sugar on the british version of the apprentice).

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              thanks, another Brit weighing in here: yes it’s a society that’s riddled with classism – but honestly if a colleague were to insist on being called Lord I’d be asking him why he’s even working, surely he should be restoring his stately home, working on his family tree or hunting for boar and all the other stuff the landed gentry get up to.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                but honestly if a colleague were to insist on being called Lord I’d be asking him why he’s even working

                The Lord works in mysterious ways.

                I will now show myself out.

                1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  There’s no need to even continue reading the comments. Alison can shut it all down, because this is everything!

                2. Pat O'Leary*

                  Excellent! I am going to steal that and some months or years into the future I shall use it without any attribution and there’s nothing you can do about it! hahahahahah!

              2. Richard Hershberger*

                Question from an American: Based on my extensive research (watching old BBC shows) it seems normal to use the title in any but the most informal contexts. But even assuming this was ever true, this doesn’t mean it still is. In other words, I wouldn’t take Upstairs Downstairs, or even Lovejoy, as reflecting modern usage. So if you worked with an honest-to-God peer of the realm, how normal would it be to use his title, in conversation or in writing?

                1. MayLou*

                  It depends on the context, as with everything else. I did fundraising for my university college and I had to call a Lady who had attended the same college. I addressed her as Lady Titlename and she asked me to call her Kathy (or whatever her name is, I don’t actually remember). When writing the follow up post card I believe I went with Kathy Surname as the style of address, because postcards are very informal and she had asked me to call her Kathy. If I’d been introducing her as a dinner speaker, I think I’d have announced her as Kathy Surname, Lady Titlename.

                2. londonedit*

                  It is all about context, but generally you’d use it whenever you’d ordinarily use ‘Mr’. And bear in mind that British society now is far less formal than it was in ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ or ‘Downton Abbey’ days. So if you have a working relationship with someone, or they’re a friend/acquaintance, or whatever, you wouldn’t call them Lord or Lady, just as you wouldn’t call them Mr or Ms Lastname. But if you’re addressing a formal letter, or you’re introducing them in a formal situation, then you’d use the title.

                3. UKDancer*

                  It’s hugely dependent on the individual I’d say but nowadays as a rule it’s very uncommon to use a title. From the ones I’ve met I’d say:

                  In writing sometimes in very formal communication. So for example if they were using House of Lords headed paper they’d probably sign their letters with the title. We’ve a family friend Sir Edward who is a baronet. He uses the title on very formal letters but not on his emails or in his email address. If you ask what his title is, he’ll tell you but it’s not a thing he goes on about and most of the time I forget it. He’s just Ned.

                  I’ve never met any who insist on using the title in conversation. That would just be so weird. I’ve met a couple of hereditaries and a life peer through work and they all used their first names like a normal person in conversation.

                  The main exception you’ll see is probably Alan Sugar who liked to be “Sir Alan” and then “Lord Sugar” on the Apprentice. It’s considered really naff and pretentious to do that.

                  I think what I’m trying to say is the people who matter don’t mind, and the people who mind don’t matter.

                4. Beth*

                  For a fully current, real life example, watch any recent documentary presented by Tony Robinson (Sir Anthony Robinson), who was knighted in 2013. He also has something like five honorary doctorates. He’s still called “Tony”.

                5. Anonymouse for this*

                  I work in a UK environment where we regularly interact with titled people (we do a lot of work with the House of Lords). We use their titles to talk about them because it’s basically their ‘work’ name – like “could you take these papers down to Lady Chompsley?”, or “Oh, we’ve just had a call through from Lord Boofterson’s office about that”, or “Oh Baroness, I love those earrings, where did you get them?”. But that’s a bit different because we’re working with them sort of “in their capacity” as titled people, it’s like calling someone “Doctor” when he’s using a stethoscope on you even if you’d call him George at the pub.

                  We also have a few knights and dames who work with us, who’ve received their honours for public service work. They would be theoretically entitled to be addressed as Sir John or Dame Lucy or whatever, but they don’t use it at the office because “Hey, Sir John, if you’re making coffees could you do one without milk” sounds ridiculous. The only times I can think of people I know with that kind of title using them is if they have a speaking engagement or are on a panel, or writing an article or signing an open letter, or something like that where it’s helpful to give weight to their words.

                6. EventPlannerGal*

                  I think everyone has covered when you would pecifically use the title, but in a more general sense of how titles are viewed/used in the modern day: the UK has kind of reached a point where although they exist they are really not at all relevant to most people’s daily lives. We have this system and people know about it and if you work in certain industries/areas or go to the right university you may well encounter somebody who has a title, but it just isn’t something that most people think about or anticipate having to deal with. (Most people would not know off the top of their head when to use “your grace” vs “my lord”, for example.)

                  As such, it’s the sort of thing where it only works if everybody involved in a given interaction sort of tacitly agrees to act like it’s not weird and not make too big a fuss about it. Then everything goes smoothly, but as soon as anyone starts making a Thing about it (in any direction) it sort of exposes how weird and archaic the whole thing is and the whole thing becomes incredibly awkward. So ideally a conversation would go, like, “oh have you two met? This is Jeremy, Lord Fauntleroy.” “Oh no, please just call me Jerry!” and that’s fine. But if one person is like “that’s THE RIGHT HONOURABLE VISCOUNT FAUNTLEROY OF HEREFORDSHIRE, I THINK YOU’LL FIND” or if the other person aggressively insists on calling him Jezza, it gets weird because the conclusion most people will draw is that the entire thing is ridiculous. That’s why even though we do nominally have this system, I think almost anyone here would find OP’s insistence on it in an office context very, very strange.

                7. Lilith*

                  When I worked as a PA, I’d fairly often be arranging meetings for my bosses with House of Lords people. When I would be talking to the other PAs I think it was about 50/50 if we used titles or first names when talking about them, but when the Lord/Baroness/whatever turned up the office they always introduced themselves as ‘Hello, I’m John, here for a meeting with Jane’.

                  Writing letters was strangely the most difficult bit for us, because there were always people with multiple titles so had to work out things like ‘if Bob is both a Sir and a Professor, which comes first in the greeting?’, but there are now some handy websites that sets it all out.

                  As other comments are saying, in the UK at least, if someone insisted on being called Lord in the office they would be considered a bit of a pillock.

              3. Aggretsuko*

                He should probably be looking for a bride per the Regency romance novel he lives in, because that seems like the last period of time people were always being referred to as Lord Whatever all the time in public.

                Not that I’m a Brit, but does that really happen in just a regular worklife that isn’t royalty-related? Like, just at the regular office?

                1. UKDancer*

                  No it really doesn’t. In every office I’ve worked in we call people by their first name or chosen name. The few titled people I’ve met I also call by first name.

                2. EventPlannerGal*

                  It doesn’t. Like, I’m sure that there is someone somewhere who does do this but it would be the sort of thing that literally everybody around them would be telling as an anecdote about how weird posh people are for the rest of their lives.

              4. Bippity*

                Heh, love the boar comment.

                I actually have a stuffed boar’s head mounted on my wall, which I inherited from my dad. It’s not real, it’s made out of fabric (like a life size stuffed toy). On the rare occasions posh people visit I like to take the piss by going into a long straight faced anecdote about how my dad hunted and shot it, because I find it funny how they smile and pretend like it’s not very obviously made of fabric.

                I did once see an actual stuffed and mounted boar’s head once, which was terrifying-looking.

                1. Henri de Bretagne*

                  We have the boars in the Foret de Fontainebleau, that is where to find them! The Foret is very famous for this, once I visited there and there were boars all around our car.

            2. DarnTheMan*

              My sister went to the University of Glasgow and she has so many lord, lady and honorables in her graduating class but she said she honestly didn’t know for most of them; convocation was the first time their full title was ever used.

          5. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            “I especially wondered this because traditionally, “Lord Firstname” would be the proper usage, not “Lord Lastname” as far as any version I’ve ever heard.”

            Depends where you are – British practices are not universal.

            1. fposte*

              And even in Britain, that’s not accurate. Lord, Lady, and The Honorable Firstname are courtesy titles, used in connection with titled parents; Lady Lastname is either married to a titled man (there’s some agitation for men to get courtesy titles, now that more men are married to titled men or women, but so far it’s just women who get them through marriage) or a peer in her own right. It also gets confusing because how they’d be listed in a directory isn’t necessarily how they’d be addressed directly, so even earls would be addressed as “Lord Rolls” (as in “Lord Rolls, please shell out for the Hawaiian type next time”) but would be listed as the Earl of Rolls.

              A classicist friend believes that the Roman Empire fell because their naming system was too complicated. I think that’s why peers are so often moving to first name use–they’re afraid of the same thing.

          6. London Calling*

            *if Wakeen Shutzwell is the Earl of Fallowshire, then he is neither Lord Shutzwell nor Lord Wakeen, but Lord Fallowshire. But if he’s a lord-by-courtesy because he’s the son of the Earl of Fallowshire, he would be Lord Wakeen*

            Nope, sons of earls are not Lord plus first name i.e Lord Wakeen. The eldest son of an earl might have a title of his own e’g Viscount Shutzwell, but any other sons would be the Honourable whatever name. Lord plus first name is a courtesy title for younger sons of dukes and marquesses.

            If the OP has just purchased a title via one of the companies that sells such things then it’s just a change of name or an addition to the OP’s name, not something that entitles him to call himself lord. If however, his father has recently inherited a dukedom or a marquessate, that’s different. But either way, insisting on being called Lord Something is what we British woulc call incredibly up yourself.

            1. jolene*

              Seconded, as a Brit. I know a few posh people and it’s considered really, really nouveau to use the title anywhere but in very formal settings. Like, for instance, the House of Lords.

          7. Quill*

            In most novels I’ve read “Lord Squareacre” would be the current landholder, “Lord Lastname” would be for someone whose title didn’t go with specific lands (so like… someone who worked for the king?) and “Lord Firstname” is for either of their heirs, while children, or any of their non-presumptive heir children.

            So, if Henry VIII hadn’t been king, he might have been “Lord Pembroke” (no idea if he ever owned that but whatever) interchangably, perhaps, with “Lord Tudor” unless they insisted on giving that to Edward, and his other children would have been Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth, probably.

            OP #3 while I sympathize with your quest to turn 2020 into a comedy of manners I can’t keep up with it myself, and nobody at your workplace can either.

        2. EPLawyer*

          When he said legal documents, I wondered too. Usually those who inherit the title or are knighted do not discuss the legal documents associated with it.

          Truly Lord LW, do not push this. You sound pompous and not like someone I would want to work with. This is not just about you, this is about working well with others. We get lots of letters from managers who say Fergus does great work BUT …. And we all jump in and say Fergus is NOT a great employee if he annoys everyone around him. Remember this.

          1. Archaeopteryx*

            Plus, as we discussed before here, what comes across as a gracious, classy, and high-status is to say “oh please, call me Charlie!”; going the route of “That’s Lord Farquhard to you!” reads as not only pretentious but also insecure.

            1. knead me seymour*

              I think there can be a kind of inverse snobbery as well, where the truly fancy members of society will insist on being called some goofy childhood nickname like “Muffin” and wear shabby old gardening clothes everywhere. It’s another kind of in-group signalling, I suppose to show that they’ve transcended the need for posturing.

              1. fposte*

                Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame has some keenly observed material about this, especially in Snobs.

                1. The Ex Trombonist*

                  *AHEM* that’s “The Right Honourable The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford” to you… But to be serious, I understand that his wife’s inability to inherit her uncle’s title was the inspiration for the Lady Mary issue in Downtown Abbey.

                2. fposte*

                  @Trombonist–I was checking Debrett’s for my post here and discovered adopted children also don’t inherit titles; as of 2004, they are at least allowed to use courtesy titles. I mean, holy hell.

        3. Hats Are Great*

          100% think this is what he did, and wonder if he’s fresh out of school and pompous, or 35 and pompous. Either one is a bad look.

          Once worked with a guy who kind-of a low-rent PhD from a diploma mill (in some fakey sort of thing like basket weaving — I don’t remember exactly what it was, but it was like “holistic knowledge of life” or some bullshit that gave him graduate credits for “life experience” (of being a white guy from a wealthy suburb who failed up, I guess)). He got it solely so he could be called Doctor (and worked psychology-adjacent so was trying to be deliberately misleading about his credentials) — this was a policy shop that had a lot of experts on staff to help with policy development and advocacy in state government in various highly-technical areas.

          He came in and insisted everyone start calling him doctor and was very pompous about it and how much “work” he put in. What he didn’t realize was that basically everyone in the management tier of this small company, and many of the junior people looking to move up, had doctorates of one form or another — MDs and PhDs and DDSs, but also JDs and EdDs and DVMs and even an STD (hee hee hee). Because everyone else went by “Joe” or “Lil,” or in formal settings, “Ms. Smith,” so he apparently really did not know that he worked with a bunch of people with HUGE credentials and nobody was very impressed by them. So he’s in a meeting and one of the senior partners is like, “Jimmy, can you get on this task?” and Jimmy goes, “Excuse me, I’m Dr. Pompous. I have a Ph.D.” and one of the other partners immediately turned to the guy next to him and said, “Oh, Dr. Jones, can you provide me with the X?” and they all started calling each other Doctor, except for the guy with “only” three masters degrees, who became “High Triple Master Smith.”

          His performance review was not positive. The whole incident was super-emblematic of his whole approach of “You must respect me because I am important and I have these superficial things that show my importance” without being willing to, like, do any work. Including what he was paid to do.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            He came in and insisted everyone start calling him doctor and was very pompous about it and how much “work” he put in.

            This is the same rationale I’ve heard from others who insist on being called “doctor” in every setting, no matter how informal. And always want to say “becoming an astronaut is harder than becoming a doctor, but none of them insist on being called Astronaut Firstname Lastname on freaking Christmas cards.”

                1. Evan Þ.*

                  I’m now wondering how Senator Astronaut Colonel Dr. John Glenn would order his various titles.

            1. Arya Snark*

              I work in an IT related capacity and received a request to provide equipment for an employee. Everything at this large US-based (non-medical) company (branches in all states + Canada, and expanding into the UK/EU) was very informal, including everyone referring to the founder/CEO by their first name. Addressing the end user with Hi Wakeen, I replied with the standard spiel about using the ticketing system as I could not help anyone who emailed me directly. His response: “That’s DOCTOR Lastname, thankyouverymuch!” and he’s been THE Doctor to our whole team ever since.

              1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                I’ve seen that attitude happen a few times when helping folks with technology, where people insist “I’m a doctor/lawyer/other prestigious someone” after they ask for my help. I have never actually responded with a withering glare while saying “and I’m the actual expert on this subject.” But I’ve said it internally a lot.

                One thing I’ve always loved about when I have to help someone with a military background is that they tend to be super aware of being respectful to a subject specialist they’ve asked for help. Someone once said it was because anyone doing training on a military base becomes the highest ranked person in the room while the training is ongoing, but I don’t know how true that is.

                1. Moeg*

                  What you describe of helping the military background is precisely the opposite of my experience. Now I wonder whether it’s gendered (I only have the female perspective) or based on country (UK here).

            2. Artemesia*

              I don’t know if that is a good example as never was there a group of people who leaned more heavily on their job title than the US astronaut corps especially in the early days. they were for a while US royalty.

            3. AKchic*

              My father pulled a similar stunt in the early 90’s. I’m not sure of all the details, because by then, I was in foster care, but he had gotten a hold of a nametag with “doctor” and his very common last name on it, therefore he was a doctor.

              Looking back, the man needed a lot of psychiatric care. At the time, he was a danger to himself and the entire family, and destroyed everyone. Being the late 80’s-early 90’s, in Alaska, there was no help for him, and really, I don’t think there is any help now.

              Sometimes, all you can do is minimize the damage a person is going to do and let them tank their own reputation by insisting on strange titles.

          2. Dragon_Dreamer*

            I wonder if I can get my friends to start calling me “Honorable Double Bachelors…”

            1. the once and future grantwriter*

              In some areas of Latin America, anybody with a bachelors degree can be titled ‘licenciado/a’. It’s common for accountants and other white-collar professionals to put ‘Firstname Lastname, lic’ on their business cards or storefront signage in some parts of Guatemala, for example.

          3. kt*

            I love High Triple Master Smith!!!

            The most pompous I’ve gotten was after some beverages, as I think maybe at the time I could insist on being Frau Professor Doktor Doktor…..

          4. SlightlySnarky*

            This reminds me of a law professor I had my first year of law school. Since a JD is technically a juris doctorate and we were all JD candidates from day one, he insisted on referring to all the students as “Doctor LastName” in class.

            While a JD is an advanced degree, it’s really more equivalent to a Masters than Ph.D. There are Legal equivalents to a Ph.D., (LL.M and LL.Bs) and actual Ph.D.s in law. It always came across as incredibly pompous by the professor to teach 1Ls that should expect to be called “Doctor” simply because they were a law student. Most of us rolled our eyes, but there’s always That Guy.

            1. Joielle*

              Ha! I do wish lawyers had a better title than “Esquire,” which just sounds so goofy. My mom uses it when she addresses mail to me (she is VERY proud that her kid became a lawyer) and that’s about it.

              “Doctor” seems so inappropriate though. JD is a terminal degree, but like… it was only three years and we didn’t have to defend a dissertation, so. Not gonna try to co-opt that one.

              1. TootsNYC*

                When my brother became a sergeant, I started always addressing mail to him as “Sgt. Terry Lastname.”
                His wife told me that he’d picked up the mail one day and said, “Why does she always write “Sergeant” on the mail?”
                Her reply: “She thinks it’s funny. Not in a bad way, but amusing.”

                Then he became a warrant officer (he’s a CW5 now), which I complained about bitterly, because even though it’s pretty prestigious, it sure doesn’t sound as good at cocktail parties as “My brother is a supply sergeant in the Army” does.

                1. CW5 sis*

                  Toots NYC – The nickname for a CW5 in the army is “unicorn” – because there are so few of them that many soldiers go their entire career without meeting one. You should be VERY proud! (I wore a silver unicorn pin to my brother’s promotion ceremony!)

                2. TootsNYC*

                  we are very proud. (at his WO training, he won several awards, including “military bearing,” and the officer who presented the awards said my bro was the best example of a warrant officer he’d seen in all his 15 years of training. My dad had just retired and was able to go to the ceremony, and I thought he was going to pop with pride)

              2. DarnTheMan*

                Except for Bill S. Preston, Esquire which sounds awesome (but I think he conferred the title to himself so not sure how much it counts).

          5. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

            I like “Triple Master Lastname.” I myself have floated the idea of styling myself “Bamamamba LastName.” Alternatively, “Accountess FirstName.”

        4. Coalea*

          This reminded me of when Kourtney Kardashian’s husband or boyfriend or whatever he is purchased a title and started demanding that everyone use it. (And yes, I’m embarrassed that this fact is occupying valuable real estate in my memory banks!)

      3. Annie on a Mouse*

        I’m afraid I thought the exact same thing…

        OP, regardless of whether the title accompanies a square foot of land or a grand estate, it sounds like insisting on your honorific is out of touch with company culture. And from the perspective of self-interest, do you want to be known as Lord Stickler for Titles?

      4. Zombeyonce*

        I immediately thought this as well, and then thought that if it were me, I’d much rather be called Doctor than Lord because the title of Doctor implies I did actual work to get it, unlike Lord, which is either inherited, bestowed, or purchased.

        LW, fill out official documents as you please and let your work use honorifics in line with their culture. You can use your Doctor/Lord title to impress/annoy your friends instead.

        1. Detached Elemental*

          I also wondred if the Lordship was purchased. And then it occured to me, maybe the reason the company is pushing back against calling the LW “Doctor” is because they have suspicions that it was purchased, too?

          I have a Doctorate, and I use it in work-related situations where it’s important to demonstrate that I have a certain level of background education. However, after I’ve introduced myself I make it clear that I much prefer to be called by my first name.

          Through work I’ve also met some very senior people, some with titles and considerable influence in their field, and without exception, they have all been very down to earth and insistent I call them by their first name.

          1. Three Flowers*

            I also was wondering if OP is a Lord in, say, Sealand, or if the doctorate is honorary vs earned. Both would be reasons for an employer to say “hell no”, and either would fit with the level of snobbery in the question.

        2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          In the United Kingdom and possibly other places it’s possible to become a baron due to accomplishments. This title is not inherited.

          I applied for a job with Mark Malloch-Brown when he led the United Nations Development Programme (which sadly I did not get). Later Mr. Malloch-Brown became Baron Malloch-Brown.

          1. Quill*

            You can become a Colonel in Kentucky based on merit… or outrageousness.

            I only know this because of KFC and I’m glad I have that in my brainbank.

      5. Elbereth*

        No, if the title is part of his name in the passport (LW said it is) it’s real. Otherwise it would be on the observations page.
        Having said that, Lord Lastname isn’t how it goes. It’s Lord Placename.

        1. Chocolatebunny*

          I’m in the UK and have a doctorate, and that appears on the observations page. UK passports don’t allow for titles (of course I’m presuming the LW is in the UK)

          1. AJH*

            I got curious so I went and looked it up:

            HM Government advice for passports in the UK appears to be:

            Doctorates and other professional titles apart from Q.C. and Eur Ing – observations only not as part of name.
            Titles of nobility (eg members of the house of Lords and people with hereditary titles) yes, subject to checking against Debretts or at the College of Heralds; where eg a passport holder is called something like Ceawlin Henry Laszlo Thynn, 8th Marquess of Bath they are allowed to choose whether they are styled “Thynn” or “Bath” by way of surname which the UK Government state optimistically should “avoid any problems at frontiers, hotels and banks where a peer signs with a title rather than a family name”
            Foreign titles NO unless Royal Warrant, but can mention it in observations.
            Manorial title – yes with proof that the land is owned, which will then be recorded in observations that X is the lord of the manor of….
            Scottish Feudal Baronies – as above, in observations
            Given or assumed names such as “Earl Der Biggers” – the observations will record it’s a name not a title

            I note with amusement the comment “When dealing with applicants, it is imperative staff make no comments that could be construed as defamatory regarding the companies concerned. ”

            One imagines that many overstressed passport office staff would otherwise have been tempted to yell, “Mrs Bucket, you paid how much for that fancy bit of paper, you daft ha’porth?” I suspect this will also be the reaction of LW3’s workmates.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              “It’s pronounced ‘Bouquet!!!'”

              Truly, insisting on being called “Lord” at work is the ultimate in Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth would be proud. (That’s not a good thing.)

          2. Snuck*

            Australian passports don’t, unless the title is conferred by the Crown. To quote the DFAT website on names acceptable for passports “ Titles, decorations and awards not granted or conferred on the applicant by the Crown or the Australian Government, or which were purchased by the applicant, may not be included in the name field or as an endorsement in a passport.”

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I would not assume that the LW holds a British, or other Commonwealth nation passport. Perhaps, but it might be some tiny nation that uses this sort of thing as a revenue source. There are, after all, only so many stamp collectors out there.

        3. Half-Caf Latte*

          Can someone explain the apparent importance of the passport as legal doc (specifically, the “up to and including” language in the letter)?

          This Yank’s passport is an important legal document, but in order to renew my driver’s license, which is the most common form of ID for most, I had my passport but also 6 other types of ID including utility bills and bank cards. Based on prior DMV knowledge, if I were Lady Starbucks, Dr Latte, and Ms. Half C Latte, I would not get my renewal.

          1. FloralWraith*

            In employment over in the UK (and likely elsewhere in the EU and beyond), a passport is needed to prove to HR that you have the right to work in the country; it’s what I’ve been asked in applications here. There’s probably some sort of legal requirement.

            I think it’s down to that the UK is a tiny island nation close to lots of other nations, so Brits travel internationally more (and people can come in more). Also, with public transit fairly extensive, a lot of people don’t drive here (I have my Canadian licence that I will eventually exchange, but I haven’t had the need to drive in the 2 years I’ve been here), and so the default form of ID turns into the passport as opposed to a licence.

          2. Metadata minion*

            Passports are the standard form of identification in a lot of countries. You need more documents for your driver’s license/state ID because it verifies you as a resident of your state as well as the identity and citizenship information on your passport.

          3. Sinister Serina*

            In order to get a Real ID (which you have to get now, where I live) you have to have all the supporting documents to prove that you live where you say you live and are eligible to work in the US. a passport only shows that you are a citizen of the US and eligible to work in the US, but not all the other stuff that gets you the Real ID. My mom and my sister both went to get Real IDs-and forgot their marriage licenses and hoo boy were they not happy when they found out they couldn’t get one without that document.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              :-O Why did they need their marriage licenses? I have not gotten a Real ID yet and am scared of how much documentation all of us will need, and how long we will be waiting in line!

              1. Jaydee*

                Probably to confirm a name change if they changed their name when they married. Otherwise, their post-marriage ID documents would all have a different last name than their birth certificate.

              2. Two Dog Night*

                If all your documents have your current last name, you don’t need your marriage license. I brought a passport, two utility bills, and… something else, I can’t remember, all with my post-marriage name, and I didn’t have any problem.

                If you’re using a birth certificate, but you changed your name when you got married, you’d need your marriage certificate.

      6. EventPlannerGal*

        It is so incredibly unlikely that anyone with a right to a title would be writing to an American workplace advice blog for advice on how to use it that I think that must be the case. Maybe there’s some convoluted explanation but I think it’s more likely OP is either a Lord of Sealand or is having a little fun.

        1. MassMatt*

          The letter did not have even a whiff of fun. He wasn’t asking how to use the title, he was expressing frustration that they won’t use it and how terribly unfair and improper than is.

          It’s a shame that more countries (especially Britain) didn’t deal with this question as France did in the late 18th century.

          1. Captain Kirk*

            Uhhh I’m really hoping you weren’t advocating for the “terror” part of the Reign of Terror. Whatever you think of the royalty in that country, wantonly executing thousands of people because of suspected “lack of revolutionary fervor” is not the solution.

              1. Captain Kirk*

                It gets old just talking computers into logic arguments so they explode. Figured I needed to show up here and see where I was needed. ;-)

            1. Quill*

              Also you wouldn’t happen to have brought a dozen tricorders and some 23rd century medical expertise with you, would you?

            2. UKDancer*

              Definitely. While I am a republican and would happily get rid of both hereditary titles and the royal family, I don’t think the approach the French took of guillotining thousands of people and maltreating many more is a brilliant solution that should be recommended or endorsed.

              1. Artemesia*

                While I am sympathetic to the general view about beheading the aristocracy I have to note that France is full of wonderful public parks and lands available to the pleasure of all because the revolution was so very thorough.

                1. Captain Kirk*

                  So yeah, we killed a bunch of people. But look at our parks!

                  You can deprive people of their titles and their lands without also depriving them of their lives.

                2. UKDancer*

                  England also has a fair number of very pleasant parks and lands which are open to the public. I regularly have lunch in one of them. We achieved this without massacring the aristocracy and many other people who did not get a fair trial.

              2. Richard Hershberger*

                I can think of some people in public life who would benefit from an extreme haircut, but the British royal family, as presently constituted, seems to run no worse than mildly annoying eccentrics.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            Advice on how to get other people to use it, then. Either way, with greatest respect to Alison, nobody with any genuine claim to a title like that is going to be consulting an American work blog about it in any respect. He’s a yank who’s spent too much money on a square inch of the Highlands and is starting to realise he’s wasted his cash, or the letter is made up.

        2. abcd*

          I was wondering this too! Sealand allows the purchase of a variety of titles and sends all the back-up documentation to go along with it. I’m just wondering how you tell someone your a Lord/Lady of Sealand without cracking a smile?

      7. Cambridge Comma*

        From the phrasing it can only be one of those square foot Lord of the Manor type jobs, so insisting on it when people will know you aren’t a peer of the realm could completely scupper any professional credibility OP has.

        1. London Calling*

          Incredible how many fraudsters use that trick and equally incredible how many people can be duped by someone with a handle to their name. Not that I’m saying the OP is anything but honest.

      8. Djuna*

        I work with two guys who have honorifics. Both are sons of titled men. Neither of them use their honorifics at work, even though they are legal and on their passports. I knew one of them for seven years before I even knew he had a title. I know about the passport thing because I’ve seen his.

        My understanding of this stuff is (obviously!) limited but if LW3 were part of a titled family, he would most likely already have had an honorific of some sort. He probably (based on my experience) would be a little more blasé about it too. There is a whiff of wanting to literally Lord it over the hoi-polloi from LW3 that may explain his employer’s reluctance to use the title.

        1. Deejay*

          There’s a joke I’ve heard told in various forms. It usually goes something like this:

          “What do you call the second son of a duke?”
          “My friend is the second son of a duke. I’ll ask him”
          Sends text. Receives reply.
          “Apparently you call them Steve”

          1. MayLou*

            Haha yes, if I were to ask that of one of my university friends, he would say “I call him dad”.

        2. Blackcat*

          Could he have gotten the title through marriage? Do things work that way?
          If so, I could sort of see someone overusing it when it’s new…

          1. London Calling*

            Not in the UK he couldn’t. If Mr Lanky Warblesworth (goodness, having fun with these) marries the Hon Simferosa McGillicuddy and her father then inherits an earldom, she becomes Lady Simferosa Warblesworth. He remains Mr Warblesworth.

      9. Autistic Farm Girl*

        That was my first thought too. I’m in Scotland and the number of people who come here (for the very first time) and tell us how they’re lords, they own the land and that they know it better than us is much higher than it should. You don’t usually “acquire” a lord title, it’s either passed on or given to you, and the titles you can buy are usually rubbish and meaningless (they also have no legal standing).

        As for doctors, i work with loads of them (they’re not MDs) and not one of them insists on being called “dr x”, we’re all on first name basis and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve studied, you’ll still be called by your first name.

        LW3 sounds like more of an ego issue than anything else.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Haha yes, the whole “I’m TECHNICALLY a laird!” thing – I understand getting those things as a joke or something but the number of people who think the “technicality” is in any way meaningful or gives them any standing is a bit tragic… Possibly even worse than “my great-great-great-great granny was, like, totally Braveheart’s cousin” because they’ve actually paid money for it.

          1. Emeileia*

            I mean, I am technically a Laird, but that’s because it’s my surname. No castle or title, more’s the pity. :p

            1. President Porpoise*

              Technically, I do have a family castle, but it’s a college now. And no, we don’t get free tuition.

              A surprising number of people have ties to the nobility, but it’s ridiculous to insist that Everyone Treat Me With the Deference Due. OP, let it be, friend.

              1. Arts Akimbo*

                Ha! I have a family castle, too, only it is a ruin, and even in its heyday it was more of a glorified bastle house than a proper castle.

              2. DarnTheMan*

                My family also has a castle. But there’s a lot of us from the former clan so the only people who get any dibs on it are the people who inherit it.

          2. Autistic Farm Girl*

            I have 2 favourites for all those stories:
            – people who are descending from William Wallace. That’s nothing short of a miracle considering he never had recorded children.
            – people who are descending from Robert the Bruce and consider that it should give them a special spot. Someone did the maths, there’s about 5 million people descending from the Bruce. That’s pretty much the entire population of Scotland, not very special.
            (Also you rarely see them claiming to descend from farmers, or miners, or cooks. It’s always famous and royals)

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              I like the ones who have come back to visit their family castle. The definitions of “their”, “family” and “castle” are usually quite nebulous but they’re always very enthuiastic.

            2. London Calling*

              Funny you should say that. My brother has done extensive research into our family tree and on one side we DO have medieval royalty (not at all uncommon, apparently, so do millions of people all over the world so I’m not claiming to be anything special) and on the other (sorry dad) we have miners and farmers and paupers dying in workhouses. As far as we are concerned they are all ancestors and all equally interesting and worthy of research and remembering. As my mother used to say ‘Kings and lords are only kings and lords because their ancestors were bigger rogues than ours.’

              1. UKDancer*

                My paternal grandmother looked into hers and found a lot of landlords and innkeepers on one side of her family and itinerant preachers on the other. She was very disappointed as she hoped for better things.

                1. London Calling*

                  What was funny was that the royalty descent came via my maternal grandmother who was very much in favour of ‘people not getting above their station in life.’ I have no idea what she’d have made of it all.

              2. Aitch Arr*

                My maternal grandfather’s side can be traced to an earldom.
                We joke that it’s more likely that our ancestors assumed the earl’s surname because they were his serfs.

        2. Paperwhite*

          I’m in Scotland and the number of people who come here (for the very first time) and tell us how they’re lords, they own the land and that they know it better than us is much higher than it should.

          Wow, these people must really be longing for a proper bollocking. That’s the only response I’d expect such behavior to receive in Scotland.

      10. Actually A Lady*

        Yeah, this was my assumption. It’s not a “real” title, it’s one of those novelty ones you can buy online which is basically a scam. The only genuine British title you can buy is a Scottish Feudal Barony, and that’s does not confer the title of Lord.

        The square foot of land ones are a total pile of cack. and anyone who buys one should be mocked not honoured.

      11. BluntBunny*

        Yes I see them all the time on Groupon. Also the only workplaces I can think of that uses titles as standards is in a school or medical facility. It would be weird to go by Dr and Lord if none of your colleagues are going by Mr, Mrs, Miss Ms etc. In documents I don’t see people writing Miss or Dr Firstname Lastname. I work in STEM everyone goes by their first name there are lots of people with PhDs I wouldn’t be able to point them all out though. Titles only are mentioned in external papers or conferences also I think a promotion announcement would state has PhD from Uni of City/Town in Subject rather than Dr Lastname.

        1. JustaTech*

          I work in biotech and while lots of people have PhDs, the only person who’s ever referred to as “Doctor” is the Chief Medical Officer, because he has an MD (and even then only in more formal situations like an all-company meeting).

          My experience working in medical-adjacent fields is that people generally reserve the title “Doctor” in conversation for people who are clinicians (MD, DO, DDS, DVM). I’m not 100% sure why that is, but part of it might be wanting to make sure that if there’s a medical emergency you know who’s a physician and who’s a researcher. My boss may have a PhD, but I have more emergency medicine training than him.

        2. mrs__peel*

          “I see them all the time on Groupon”

          Ooh, can you get two titles for the price of one??

      12. Quickbeam*

        Actually it was a hill that many of my fellow Americans did die on. I’m sure the writer lives elsewhere but he may not know how ridiculous this all sounds. I do have PhD friends who insist on being called Doctor at the airport so I guess we all have buffoons.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          Yeah, I can trace my ancestors back for several hundred years. They may not have died, but some of them did fight a bloody war. If this guy has a hereditary right to be called lord, I’m pretty sure I have the hereditary right to object with smooth bore musketry.

          Of course, I won’t take advantage of said hereditary right, because I have class.

        2. Friendly Neighborhood Researcher*

          I remember my undergrad advisor telling me the story of how, shortly after getting his PhD, he was at the airport and asked someone at the counter to page Dr. Advisor just so he could hear his new title. It was kind of adorable.

          1. JobHunter*

            I called one of my work friends Dr. all day the day after he passed his defense. He must have thought I was teasing him about it, because he said, “You’re having a lot of fun with this.”

            I told him that he was the first person I knew before *and* after getting his PhD. And a PhD is an accomplishment, so of course I was going to call him Dr. at least a few times.

          2. Teapot Tía*

            Professor of mine in undergrad finished his doctorate and for like a week insisted on being called Doctor. Everyone played along, of course.

        3. Artemesia*

          Dr. is a useful title at the airport — especially for women — got me the last standby seat a couple of times — but otherwise yeah using Dr. socially if a PhD is inversely proportional to the prestige of the degree or the employer.

      13. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        Yeah or what was it that mess, Scott Disick did? I don’t remember any of the specifics and really don’t care enough about him or that mess of a family he is involved with, but it was something similar and he ran around wanting everyone to call him “Lord Disick.” I was happy to remove two letters from his last name and call him “Lord Dick” whenever he was on the tube.

        OP 3, yeah, your insistence at using such honorifics comes across as pompous and somewhat tone deaf.

      14. Wintergreen*

        Okay, I may stir up a hornets nest here but why is an honorific any different than a preferred pronoun. If someone requests that it be used, it should be used. For whatever reason, it is important to them and part of their self-identity or they would not have made the request.

        1. miro*

          Well, I’d say there are times when pronouns are used and times they aren’t, and the same goes for honorifics. Sometimes speech flows more naturally when calling someone by their name, or saying “you” if you’re talking directly to them, and it would be odd to shoehorn a pronoun into it. For example, if I say “hey, Wintergreen, how’s it going?” then yeah, I’m not using your preferred pronoun, but it’s not that I don’t respect your gender identity, it’s just that it would be natural to use a pronoun there.

          To be clear, I don’t think it’s an exact parallel, as many societies have norms around who can/can’t use honorifics whereas everyone can use pronouns.

          But if I’m interpreting your comment correctly, it seems like in your comment you’re arguing for using honorifics as an identity thing regardless of how/if they’re officially earned? So in that case, I think the stuff I said at the top about context applies

          1. Wintergreen*

            There is nothing in the letter that indicates this LW wants to be addressed as Lord in the office hallway. They want their company to use the honorific in official company documentation.

            If I identify as woman and the company uses Mr. in all correspondence, I would have the right to be upset and insist they change. Does that change if I earn a doctorate and request to go by Dr. and they insist on using Ms.? Both examples are related to my identity (one sexual, one earned) and by not using them, the company is showing a lack of respect for that identity.

            Insisting on using an unofficial honorific is lying, and the company is under no obligation to lie for you.

            1. miro*

              But it’s not clear if official company documentation uses honorifics in general. To take your example, if you’re a woman and the company doesn’t use titles in correspondence, it would be odd for you to insist upon being Ms. when nobody else’s title is used.

              I’m thinking a bit here of another AAM letter when an employee wanted to be Mrs Lastname when everyone else went by first names. In that case, IIRC, the employee ended up changing and going by her first name after realizing how out of step it was with others. To me, the Lord/Dr. situation is more akin to that that to anything like pronouns

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Because the honorific, whether legitimate or not, is about hierarchy. Preferred pronouns are about sexual identity. These are not the same thing.

          1. Wintergreen*

            Honorifics are about respect and/or acheivements, not hierarchy. A person earns a doctorate and requests you use Dr., you use Dr. There have been numerous comments in the past from women about not being addressed as Dr. when male counterparts are. Are they being stupid and petty? I don’t think so.

            1. Autistic Farm Girl*

              You’re not comparing similar things here though. If everyone in that business is getting called by their titles then yes, being called doctor isn’t weird. Being a lord/lady is not an achievement or something you have earned, it’s absolutely about hierarchy. It’s not a case of everyone being called lord apart from LW.

            2. JM60*

              If women aren’t being addressed as Dr while their male counterparts are, the issue isn’t honorifics per se. The issue is equality.

              Insisting to be addressed as Dr when no one else is comes across as pompous to me.

            3. NotAnotherManager!*

              It’s really environment-dependent and knowing your culture. I’m a woman, and, if there was disparity between what was called and a man was, sure, I’d ask for and expect a correction. If I’m in a place where it’s common to be called by first name or Professor X instead of Mr./Ms./Dr. X, then insisting on an honorific is going to come across as insecure and possibly petty. And it’s not likely increase esteem for the person, either.

              Pronouns (or even people’s preferred first names) are not environment-dependent and should be used because it’s basic human courtesy. They are not the same thing at all.

          2. Ramona Q*

            Trans people’s pronouns are not “preferred.” They are pronouns. Cis people have them too – ours are just much more easily accepted. And they aren’t about sexual identity, but gender identity.

        3. Ryn*

          Wow I. I can’t even wrap my head around how offensive it is to have gender identity equated to land ownership. If you don’t understand why those aren’t even in the same realm, I honestly don’t know what to say to you.

          And if your response to trans people using the pronouns that affirm their identity as “for whatever reason, it’s important to them,” then you really shouldn’t be speaking about trans issues.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            The pronouns someone tells you to use: that’s who they are. It’s as core an identity as ‘has DNA and mitochondria’ or the name they tell you is theirs.

            An earnt title though is more ‘additional information related to upbringing/education/personality/opportunity’ which is an entirely separate category. Can’t really compare the two.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, thank you. Wintergreen, this comment and others have explained why this is offensive. There’s lots more reading you can do about gender identity if you’d like. I’m closing this subthread.

        4. merp*

          For me, part of this is that pronouns aren’t “preferred” per se – they are either accurate or inaccurate, and people decide what their pronouns are and should not be questioned on that. And if I were to misgender someone by using the wrong pronouns, I am not just disrespecting them as a person, I am being incorrect. My impression of this letter is that the OP wants to be called Lord Whatever, instead of Steve. Steve isn’t inaccurate, it’s his name.

          Also I think intent matters here a lot. If a person insists on being called Dr. because they are being disrespected by the people around them – say, the norms around them would usually mean using Dr. but people won’t call them that – that is a different thing. If honorifics aren’t generally used when addressing someone (like a lot of people here are saying), then insisting on it is just going to come across like you want to lord it over everyone. (Couldn’t resist.)

      15. Former Retail Lifer*

        My husband and a bunch of his friends bought Lord titles while out drinking one night. They had a Groupon. Because of this, I tend to be skeptical of such titles.

    3. Ginger ale for all*

      A friend of mine got her doctorate and insisted on having sales people call her Dr. Lastname when she was buying a car because she was certain she would get a discount due to the title. There are times when titles are appropriate for the occasion and times when they are not. If your title impresses clients in a positive way or you can show the value of using the title in a measurable way, talk to the powers that be in your company bit otherwise, it may be smarter to drop it.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        However, if it really means a great deal to you, perhaps you can play around with your email signature to note your titles and see if it you can work one of your titles in. To usr two might be a touch too much though.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I like this idea, but I know if my coworker made their email signature “Doctor Boswell, Lord Basilton”, I’d be sorely tempted to make up a goofy signature for every email I sent only to them. “Boswell, thanks for your help with this morning’s meeting. Sincerely, Zombeyonce, Lady of the Lake”.

        2. Anonymouse*

          According to Debretts I am fairly certain the OP should write their name as “Dr Smith (Bt)” (Assuming he’s a Baronet… there’s an official ‘title’ attached to the informal “Lord”. A person usually isn’t a “Lord” usually they are another long and involved peerage title, and Lord is the abbreviation.

          This is assuming a) the ‘peerage title’ is not a bought one (they aren’t real folks, buying a square foot of Scottish soil does not make you a Laird at anything other than your mates jokes), and b) the PhD is a fully earnt one. If the PhD is an Honorary one, one which does not follow normal conventions, or from a university known to sell them as a title (similar to the Lord purchase) then…. again, you can be Dr Jokes. (Or do the whole “(Hon) Dr Smith” or “Dr Smith (Hon) etc, there’s a few variations on this theme.)

          If you have a genuinely given peerage by the Queen you’ll have been provided with solid information on how to use it. If you inherited one from your parents, again, you’ll have been provided with a solid understanding of where and when to use it. If for some wildly obscure reason you have one and no one has ever explained it to you, then contact one of the formal peerage publishers and they can help (Like Debretts, Burkes etc).

          1. SheriffFatman*

            A baronet is a “Sir”, not a “Lord”. It’s not a peerage, more like a hereditary knighthood. E.g., Margaret Thatcher’s son (Sir) Mark Thatcher, who inherited the title from his father.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              And, just to throw more confusion out there, the rank was created by James I precisely as a fund raiser. It cost about a thousand pounds, which was a large chunk of money back then. At least as a matter of history, the problem with purchased titles is not that they are purchased, but that they are fraudulent. James I was the font of honor in England. Scotland, too, though there he was James VI. He by definition had the ability to create honors on whatever terms he chose. The same is not true of what huckster is selling that title today. For an interesting gray area, there was a bunch of European royalty put out of jobs after the world wars. Did they retain the ability to create honors? The consensus seems to be no, but not everyone agrees.

          2. prof*

            actually an honorary PhD follows normal conventions…you are granted the same rights and privileges as someone who went through a program. It’s a big deal to be awarded one.

            and as a woman in STEM, you bet I use my title (for students, and for introductions). Can’t tell you how often students “Mrs.” women PhD, but never the men….our expertise gets doubted and the title helps. Now, it sounds very different here and I can’t even with “Lord”. I’d say in cases where Mr./Ms. are used, he’s Dr. though.

            1. Lara*

              Given the source take it for what it’s worth, but Wikipedia says that conventions for honorary degrees are generally not the same as the actual degree. I remember there was a bit of a dust-up several years ago when a prominent evangelist called himself “Dr.” but he only had an honorary degree.

            2. JustaTech*

              When I was in undergrad all the professors were Professor Lastname (except on chem prof who went by Doctor Lastname) whenever you were talking to them or around other professors. (In student-only conversation they were usually referred to by Lastname.)

              When I worked in academia people were introduced with their title (usually) and then almost always were spoken to and of by their first name.

              In biotech among coworkers we never use anyone’s title, although people will be introduced to outside folks as “Doctor” if they have a PhD/MD.

              Recently we had our desk/office name plates updated with our in-office titles (Principal Scientist, Research Associate) but only the people with PhDs had that added to their nameplate. In general they were irked about this, both men and women. I don’t understand why they don’t want people to know that they have PhDs, but I guess it’s a thing.

              I think in general the use/non-use of one’s academic titles depends on how non-hierarchical the working culture is. When you’re working with undergrads, yeah, you need some structured space.

        3. MayLou*

          My friend married the son of a man who was both ordained as a minister and had a doctorate. She greatly enjoyed calling her father in law “Reverend Doctor HusbandName’s Dad” which I thought was adorable. But he didn’t use that title professionally!

          1. Everdene*

            When my uncle gained his doctorate I very much enjoyed sending him post to “Uncle Doctor Bob”. My sister also has a title that alliterates with her first name (but would normally be used with her surname). Makes her sound like a superhero.

            1. SQL Coder Cat*

              When I was in elementary school, my parents were friends with a couple who were both doctors. I took great delight in referring to them as “Dr. Mr. Smith” and “Dr. Mrs. Smith”.

          2. Caroline Bowman*

            A very clever and learned friend of mine, who is a medical doctor, attained his PhD in forensic pathology and we like teasing him by calling him ”Doctor Doctor!”. Because he’s a pathologist, it’s rare to use ”Dr” in his day-to-day life, except when involved in court cases or writing papers. Otherwise, he’s ”Bob”.

            1. Marzipan*

              On a rather less impressive level, when I got my second bachelor’s degree I opted for it to be a BSc rather than another BA, because otherwise I’d have sounded like a sheep.

              1. Teapot Tía*

                I now kind of want to find a BA program in maybe animal care/husbandry so I can be Shepherd Teapot Tía BA, BA

                1. Teapot Tía*

                  wait, no. Teapot Tía, BA, BA, MS, Shepherd. The modern world’s Little Bo Peep, all grown up and credentialed.

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            My father-in-law has a PhD in genetics and is an ordained minister (in a well known denomination), and there are two pieces of mail that were addressed to “The Reverend Doctor and Mrs. Firstname Lastname”:
            1) my first thank you note to him and my MIL (when they were my boyfriend’s parents)
            2) our wedding invitation (formal titles were also used for the military friends/family invited)

            Every single other time has been “Bob.” And he signs his emails “Bob +”. You only know about his PhD if you read his bio or if you’re treating him like someone who doesn’t understand science.

        4. PeanutButter*

          I used to work with a nurse who had a doctorate and several master’s degrees and other certifications. He had a bunch of letters after his name in his email signature, but slipped “BYOB” in the middle of the alphabet soup. XD

        5. President Porpoise*

          I was poking around in our company directory looking for someone once, and came across a few employees that had changed their names to Humphrey Master of The Mail and similar. It was amusing.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            *points to username* I was listed as this for a while on the email system/global address book at one firm. I was young and had administrative access to the system. Lasted about 4 days before my boss laughed and told me the joke had gone far enough.

      2. Tau*

        I pull out the PhD for bureaucratic things myself. Germany tends to have more cultural respect for doctorates than the US, and so I think it can lead to people taking me more seriously. Since I’m single, female, young-looking, and have a speech disorder, I have some first impressions to work against on that front and every little bit helps; I started ticking the Dr box after a flat-hunting experience where it was pretty clear the guy thought he could give me a bad deal because I was too stupid to know better.

        I would not, ever, insist on it at work or outside contexts like “my mortgage” or the like. That would come across as seriously obnoxious – cultural respect for PhDs doesn’t stretch that far. Germany also still has noble titles, but I would be equally unimpressed by someone who wanted to be called Freiherr or whatever at work.

        OP, is this really the hill you want to die on?

        1. Prof Space Cadet*

          I agree with everyone else that it’s really not a hill worth dying on. I have a PhD and I dislike Dr. Lastname by anyone outside of formal university settings because I don’t ever want to be mistaken for being a medical doctor. Even within the university, I tell students to call me me “Professor Lastname.”

          That having been said, I’ve seen some really strange office politics in my career, and I could imagine an unlikely hypothetical scenario in which a dysfunctional organization arbitrarily lets some (but not all) employees use Lord or Doctor titles but not others. Even if that were the case, I still wouldn’t rock the boat.

        2. DiscoCat*

          Didn’t Germany do away with official titles after WWI because essentially the nobility was deemed to have egged on, or at least aided and abetted, Germany’s militay aggression? So people aren’t Baron FirstName von FamilyName, but rather FirstName Baron von FamilyName, to show it’s a family thing, not an individual achievement or personal superiority to have that title.

          Germany’s bowing to academic titles really irks me, I have never seen so many positions requiring PhDs that are filled by people who don’t even have conventional undergrad title in other countries.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes. In Germany if you have an hereditary title it’s part of your surname now (Freiherr, Freifrau etc). So you have people like Hermann Freiherr von Richthoven who was a German ambassador to the UK for a time in the 1990s. “Freiherr von Richthoven” is his surname not his title. I always think the arrangement looks rather pretty and makes for some lovely long names.

          2. prof*

            heaven help you if you fail to call a full professor Herr Professor Docktor and only say Docktor….

          3. Artemesia*

            IN Italy we found that people with bachelors degrees referred to themselves as Dr. which I found odd. And of course everyone who works in music at any level above entry is ‘Maestro’.

        3. Roeslein*

          Same here – as a young-looking, female, non-native speaker working as a management consultant in Germany, I find using “Dr.” for bureaucracy and in my email signature / proposals helps a lot with being taken seriously. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when you have a foreign accent or your German is not perfect. I’ve never used it in actual conversation though, although my (German) boss introduced me to clients as “Frau Dr. Roeslein” a few times. But here it’s fairly normal for people with a doctorate to use their title professionally.

          1. Roeslein*

            Just to add: when I lived in the UK I only ever used it when someone asked me the dreaded “is it Miss or Mrs” – the best thing about defending my thesis was being able to answer “It’s Dr, actually!”

            1. Fieldpoppy*

              Yup. That’s me too. I work in academic healthcare and my bio says Fieldpoppy, PhD but the narrative uses my first name. I only use Dr when I have to pick an honorific in a drop down menu.

            2. Call Me Dr. Dork*

              Me too! I only had one officious “Miss or Mrs?” question on the phone when the ink on my doctorate was barely dry, and I was very happy to say “Doctor”!

              That being said, I do only use the honorific or the PhD suffix when either it is required or in cases where people don’t know me at all and might underestimate a small, disheveled middle-aged woman.

            3. JustaTech*

              Sigh, this is the thing with having a Master’s degree. You just can’t use it in any kind of social situation without sounding like a creep.

      3. Aldabra*

        Odd reasoning from your friend there. If I was a car salesperson I would be more likely to NOT give a Doctor a discount, as I would figure that they can afford full price.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      Yup. The only times I’m insistent about my doctorate being used is when a) there’s a disparity in (say) men being addressed as Dr. Lastname and women as Firstname (more common than you’d think, sigh) or b) when it’s a matter of being a role-model to kids that “someone like me” could successfully go through the programs I have. If this all was no issue, I’d happily be just addressed by my first name, or Ms Fireweed.

      And FWIW, all people with nobility titles I’ve ever personally known made sure that out in the normal world they’d be simply addressed by First/Lastname combination. I remember one of my fellow students whose passport our friend group once got to see (she had just renewed it and someone went like “can we see the picture???”), who really didn’t like explaining the length of her name, which spanned two lines and had a “Freifrau von [something something]” in there. Without the glance we wouldn’t have had an idea.

      Austria even abolished the “von” (the only one who got to keep it was Herbert von Karajan, … as his stage name), though occasionally it shows up. OF course in some places, like the Netherlands, van doesn’t even imply nobility, and it’s not a title anyhoo.

      1. A woman’s place is in The House*

        I agree. My first thought when reading that OP was fixated on being called by their title was that this is a situation where men with analogous titles are referred to by their title, but women are not (and there’s actual research showing that this is pretty common in some specialties, even introductions for conference speakers). The other part of it I’m wondering about is if this is a case where, because of gender stereotypes, if OP isn’t introduced by their title, people will disproportionately assume OP is in a different role, whereas OP’s opposite-gender colleagues won’t face the same kind of stereotyping if they don’t use their title (ex: doctors and nurses, academic faculty and admin, management and assistants, politician and staff, etc).

          1. A Woman’s place is in The House*

            Could race or some other disparity be at play? I’m genuinely asking, not trying to challenge or start an argument. There’s also a large phenomenon of minorities being mistaken for other roles (like Black doctors, regardless of gender, being mistaken for custodial staff, or Alexandra Wilson being mistaken for a defendant).

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s not my sense from the tone of the letter, but I can’t say with certainty.

              (Also, a request: Please don’t use multiple user names while commenting on the same post; it can be seen as sock puppetry, although I have no reason to think that was your intent. Thank you!)

          1. Pennyworth*

            I rather like the idea of lady Lords. The titles for women are usually feminised versions of the mens’ titles, like Baroness. And I’ve never like Dame.

    5. Hills to Die on*

      I would see you coming and say ‘Good Lord’. Or maybe even ‘Jesus Christ’.

    6. Not Anon*

      I know an actual, genuine, hereditary Baron, titled as a “Lord” living in Australia. He has every right to insist upon this title, but does not.

      One of my sons’ teachers has a Doctorate in Education (and therefore probably outranks every other teacher in the school), but is simply known as Mr C….

      I know several people who have PhDs (Doctorates) in a wide variety of subjects, but do not claim the title if they are not working in a) Academia, b) a role that requires the honorific (medical doctor, researcher), or c) any role that their degree does not obviously relate to.

      I’m going to say “In Australia this would be very out of left field” or “Prepare to be mocked at the water cooler if you persist”. Just because you have it as a right, doesn’t mean it’s cultural accepted and appropriate.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        The handful of occasions when I have encountered a titled person, the hereditary ones (Duke of.. Earl of.. Viscount…) never used the title and just asked to be called by their name. Life Peers on the other hand always wanted to be referred to as Lord or Lady.

        I still remember visiting the Houses of Parliament once and having a steward blocking the way because “Everyone stand aside for Baroness Warbleworth”.

        In this case, I would be sorely tempted to curtsey every time I met said lord, preferably one of those ballerina curtseys.

      2. V*

        Germans are notorious sticklers for using doctor and professor titles and truly insisting on using them. But that’s basically it. Haven’t heard of any other cultures that obsess about them to that degree.

        And every mention I’ve seen of “real” lords seems to affirm the idea that any that would be holding down a real job would be mortified to have their title used while any that would insist would not need a job.

        1. Sakuko*

          Eh, as a German, I wouldn’t generalize it like that. It is a culture thing. Some branches take it seriously and a lot of older people still see titles as important and serious business.
          But the younger generation (meaning my age, 40 and younger) don’t seem to care about titles much at all anymore. I work with two doctors in IT and no one besides the company owner calls them Doctor. And the younger professors at university tend to just go by Mr. last name nowadays.

        2. Myrin*

          We really aren’t (and I don’t mean that in a “wow, I’m offended you would say that about my people” kind of way but in a “that’s objectively not the case” one).

          It is common and pretty normal to note someone’s title(s) when introducing them, in documents (although I don’t know if these are the same kinds of documents OP is referring to), or, say, their professional CV on their website, but basically everyone I know would look askance at someone insisting their title be used when addressing them; it would absolutely be seen as snooty and conceited.

          (Also, the country widely known for their obsession with titles is Austria, not Germany. I live near Austria and went to uni with many Austrians so I’ve actually encountered this in the flesh, but it’s usually used in a more tongue-in-cheek way to prod fun at themselves in this stereotype.)

          1. amoeba*

            Yup, fellow German (non-medical) Dr. here. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who insist on being addressed as Dr. Lastname outside of formal/official situations. It’s generally either first names or just Mr/Mrs (although I’d use the title when writing to somebody I don’t know well). Could also be because I’m in research and basically everybody has a PhD, so it gets old quickly ;)

            It would be uncommon to not have it on formal documents/the company website though…

            Also agree with the Austrians’ obsession with titles. Went there for a holiday and once our landlord found out I was found a postdoc, he refused to call me anything but “Dr. Amoeba”…

            1. tamarack & fireweed*

              Confirm. When I was a student (in Germany) we called all our professors Herr [Lastname] (there were no women at the time :( ) and used polite pronouns (sie) and everyone from Privatdozent (lecturer) / postdoc downward by firstname and informal pronouns (du).

              As the doctorate in Germany is part of the name though, it is normal to add it wherever your name is formally recorded. I go by a short version of my given name myself (think Pat vs. Patricia/Patrick) and it would be wrong to provide the short form when my legal given name is asked for. In the same sense it would be wrong, for German citizens with a German doctorate or one that has been recognized as equivalent, to leave off the Dr in official paperwork as it’s part of the legal name. (I’m actually glad that my US doctorate is not part of my legal name in Germany, even though I am a German citizen – I could get it recognized, but it would be a pain in the behind internationally because elsewhere the doctorate-as-part-of-your-legal-name thing isn’t a thing. It might well be in Austria, though. Maybe Switzerland? Not sure. But not very widely beyond!)

      3. Courtney*

        I agree – coming from Australia, our university professors only ever wanted to be referred to by their first name, same with most doctors. In fact, it’s so commonplace and expected to call them by their first name that I enacted some delightful petty revenge on a professor at my university. She told me I wouldn’t accomplish anything, I would never finish a degree, and I should just drop out of university. I decided I would call her nothing but ‘Doctor Jones’. She got upset with me and would try gently correcting me to her first name, but I was insistent on being respectful of her title. It made her so uncomfortable and unhappy, and I was sure I never used anything but a respectful tone (none of my usual playfulness or gentle mocking which might be misinterpreted as sarcasm).

          1. Courtney*

            I did end up dropping out of Uni, but it wasn’t because I was stupid like she implied. But yes, I also left a very negative review (anonymous) of her at the end of semester, detailing what she had said to me. From memory, she wasn’t there a year later, which was no great loss in my eyes.

      4. MK*

        I really don’t see the sense in using an British peerage title outside of the UK, especially if you are holding down a regular job. The kind of people who would be impressed by a title might look down on you for needing to work.

        Titles are not allowed in my country, as in, if you accept one from another country you might lose your citizenship (though I think courtesy titles, like women marrying a peer, is ok). If a peer comes in an official capacity, like a politician or a relative of the Queen, the title would be used out of diplomacy, but no one would think to use one for a tourist or a person here on business (or, frankly, know how to use it correctly). A person working here would be very ill advised to try and use a title, because everyone would treat it as something of a joke.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’ve worked with a ‘Sir’, actual knighted by the Queen kind. He really preferred we didn’t call him that, that ‘Sir’ made him feel like a teacher.

          Think the title was on official correspondence to/from him, but not used any other time. Certainly wasn’t in internal emails or face to face conversation.

          1. MK*

            I ‘d rather not say, but this rule is actually in the constitution, which was written shortly after we abolished the monarchy. It wasn’t so much about preventing ordinary people accepting foreign titles (it’s not as if the Queen of England was or is bestowing titles to us all the time!) as driving the point home to our former royals (they didn’t accept the change gracefully, shall we say) that hereditary nobility is not something we are willing to accept in any form. It has lost much of its significance now, but the constitution isn’t easy to amend, and it’s not a priority for anyone.

            1. Snuck*

              To be fair, most Knighthoods and other royal titles come with a vow of fealty or loyalty to the Queen. If your country is not a member of the Commonwealth, and does not have a legal relationship with the Queen, then you probably shouldn’t be swearing loyalty to an external head of government…

              1. DaisyGrrl*

                Even if your country is a member of the Commonwealth, knighthoods or other royal titles are not always well-received. In Canada, for example, it is highly frowned upon. Google Conrad Black for an example of Canadian attitudes toward peerages.

                1. Alma*

                  Conrad Black is … Problematic at best. He would absolutely be the type to insist on being called lord all the time. The reaction then was to him, not the lordship per se.

            2. allathian*

              Today, most titles are bestowed for some sort of achievement, so they’re not hereditary but die with the title holder. In the UK, new hereditary titles are only granted to members of the royal family, the last non-royal hereditary peerage was created in the 1980s.

            3. LDF*

              That’s fair! The US tried to add an amendment like that too but it never got through, though apparently many people at the time thought it went through, and people kept referencing it as the “13 amendment” for a bit.

          2. D'Arcy*

            The United States *almost* has that strict of a rule, I’d point out. The Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits any member of the federal government from receiving any foreign title of nobility without special approval by Congress, and the proposed Titles of Nobility Amendment would have doubled down on this by stripping citizenship from any U.S. citizen who accepted a foreign title of nobility.

            The Titles of Nobility Amendment was passed by Congress in 1810 and has been pending ratification by sufficient states ever since. It is technically still active and twice came within two votes of ratification, although the increase in the number of states means that it now needs 26 more states.

      5. WS*

        My uncle is a teacher in Melbourne at an expensive private school, and the school insists that he goes by Dr Surname because it looks better to the paying parents! He doesn’t use it outside school for exactly the reasons you say here.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          At my secondary school there were several teachers with doctorates (in classics, history, geography). Normal state school (years 5-13 in Bavaria back then), though one founded long before democracy with an illustrious roster of alumni. My parents, highly submissive to cultural capital, to which they aspired, instructed me to always use the doctorate when addressing these teachers. Which I did. In the lower levels I wasn’t the only one but in the higher ones I was increasingly the only one in my year.

          Until our homeroom teacher in grade 12, who taught history and a philosophy elective I was enjoying, one day in the hallway called over to me “[firstname], I’m not your family phyician!” Then I stopped. Best thing a teacher has done for me, or nearly :) .

      6. President Porpoise*

        I come from a town where, quite literally, a full fifth of the population has at least one doctorate or a higher level degree.

        I never had to call anyone “Doctor” growing up, including the medical doctors.

        I only recall one time that my dad claimed that being a doctor made him qualified for the task at hand. It was when I was five, and I was nervous about him removing a splinter from my hand. He said “It’s ok, I’m a doctor and I know how to do this.” He neglected to tell me he was a doctor in physics – but that’s ok, because I survived the splinter extraction with no ill effects. :)

      7. JustaTech*

        I had a music teacher in middle school who had a PhD in music, and insisted that we call him “Doctor”. He was not a very good teacher (I think it might have been his first time teaching children) and seemed generally unhappy in life.
        Insisting that we call him “Doctor” when no one else in the school used titles was, to the mob mentality of 7th graders, a sign of weakness and was used to mock him endlessly. To the point that the Headmistress had to sit in on chorus practice to see what monsters we were. (We weren’t monsters, we were worse because we mostly ignored him.) He didn’t come back the next year and the new music teacher was treated with respect.

    7. Bippity*

      Unless one is a medical doctor or university professor (or if your doctorate directly related to your work position), it’s inappropriate and wanky to use the title Doctor. It comes off as braggy and unaware of workplace norms.

      As far as Lord goes, I am English and from a titled family (my family’s title goes back over 500 years). This part of the letter reads strangely to me. Most English aristocratic families either operate within worlds where everyone knows the etiquette for when titles are used and not used, or were taught this by their parents. Most people with titles are pretty humble about them and wouldn’t dream of using them in a regular workplace.

      The wording of “legal right” is very strange and simply not something an English aristo would say. I did half wonder whether the LW did not inherit their title, and whether it’s a situation where the LW is actually American and purchased a ‘dead’/vacant title. You can purchase titles fairly cheaply which gives you the “legal right” to be called Lord. But it’s honestly the tackiest thing in the world, and no one would mistake it for a real title. If it IS a purchased title: please stop.

      1. Bippity*

        To add one thought to that, I have a friend who has a PhD in a heavily male-dominated area of academia, and suffered through huge amounts of misogyny including constantly having her academic and professional achievements belittled. She now has a book deal from a major publisher to write non-fiction books related to her field, and has left academia. She used “Doctor” as a deliberate F You and as a way of empowering herself and regaining self confidence after being shattered by the misogynistic abuse she suffered within academia. She doesn’t go around forcing people to call her Doctor socially or anything, but she uses it in a capacity some people are a bit snobbish about, and I believe that is justified.

      2. londonedit*

        This is exactly what I thought. Very few people who actually have titles would bang on about being ‘legally entitled’ to use their title at work. It’s one thing discreetly asking for your correct title to be listed on any official documents, but it’s another thing insisting that it’s displayed on the staff noticeboard. That’s just tacky, and it absolutely comes off as someone who’s bought a title and thinks it makes them important.

      3. Myrin*

        From the way the letter is written and especially because of what you mention in your last paragraph, I actually assumed that OP might not be in an English-speaking country at all and just roughly translated the title/used the vaguely equivalent, well-known English term.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          That is possible, but I think that different countries attitudes to titles can be so divergent that if the OP is actually trying to talk about being called, idk, Sheikh or Don or something then they do need to specify that because it could really change the answer. FWIW I do agree with Bippity that the whole “I have a legal right!” thing does strike me as quite American.

      4. AY*

        This is no slight to you (I appreciate the information in your post very much!), but it is so beyond me why anyone would ever want to join a group with such exclusionary inner rules and shibboleths. Especially when the members of the in group will only ever see you as tacky! It’s hard to understand other people sometimes.

    8. MassMatt*

      I only knew one person who was an actual Lord, which I heard about 2ndhand. When I asked for details he was so embarrassed about it that claimed not to know. Hereditary titles are absurd and are increasingly being treated as such even in the U.K.

      Everyone I have ever known that insisted on being called “doctor” outside of a medical context or in very limited circumstances in academia (i.e. being formally introduced at a conference) has been a pompous windbag. I’m sure some people will comment that at THEIR university everyone uses such titles; I stand by my statement.

      1. vampire physicist*

        Yeah…I work in a medical field as a non-clinician and have done so in two very different roles, and honestly, the vast majority of medical doctors with whom I’ve worked for a decent period of time have at some point said “call me Firstname”; similarly, my colleagues who have PhDs (I have a masters) mostly only use Dr. in very formal academic settings and otherwise go by their first name.

    9. You Made a Bear*

      The picture that came to mind with this letter is the old Saturday Night Live skit with Garret Morris introducing Lord and Lady Douchebag.

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        I thought of Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom the Magnificent Bastard, from the videogame Jade Empire. Voiced by John Cleese!

      2. MassMatt*

        I’m ashamed I didn’t think of it first. Love that sketch.

        “Don’t tell me we’re going to have a session of parliament without a Douchebag?!”

    10. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I worked in a Very Fancy hotel in the UK for a while and we had one guest who REFUSED to be called anything other than Lord. He had this need to constantly lord it over people that he held a higher status than they did, and that he was (apparently) far more important than them. We hated him with the fire of 1,000 suns.

      LW3, this is what you will seem like if you continue to push it. I know that it’s very exciting, but if you keep pestering people about this it will come off less as you being excited about the new title and more that you want to remind other people that you are now a Lord and they are not.

    11. Anna*

      As a graphic designer for a company that works with many PhD’s (though no Lords, as far as I know), we had to make a blanket rule that no titles could be included because things like org charts start to get very unweildly with everyone then wanting specific prefixes and suffixes added. It’s much, much better to have none allowed at all than to try to figure out where to draw a line on what credentials can be added and what can’t.

    12. wem*

      #3 Made me laugh out loud. It sounds like a good candidate for bullshit bingo(every time he mentions it, you get closer to bingo!)

    13. Picky*

      You just know that everyone in the office is referring to this guy as “His Lordship” behind his back, right? And not in a good way.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      That seems a bit extreme for a recruiter no show at the beginning stages of a job search. And the recruiter may not be an employee of the company doing the hiring. I wouldn’t do this.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Nor would I. OP #4, did you follow up with the recruiter a day or two before the scheduled meeting to get the link? Sure, it’s the recruiter’s job to get it to you, but if you did not, then you should ask. There are all sorts of legit reasons that it didn’t get sent / you didn’t get it: It was sent but it went to your spam, recruiter’s email has an autofill and it went to someone else whose address starts the way yours does, recruiter typed in your address incorrectly, recruiter is out sick, recruiter thought they sent it but didn’t (who among us has not done this?), etc.

        I wouldn’t make any judgments about the employer based on this one small incident.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          And it’s possible that the recruiter decided they didn’t want to talk to OP about the job anymore and just decided not to contact them. It happens and it’s unprofessional, but it does happen. Regardless it doesn’t reach the “glass door review” level.

          1. C*

            This, exactly. I had a recruiter set up a phone meeting with me for the following day, then completely flake. When she didn’t reply to me asking if another time later in the week worked better for her, I wrote it off and assumed she was no longer interested in talking to me. It happens. It sucks, but it happens.

    2. juliebulie*

      I would, as long as it’s a review of the recruiter’s company and not their client. I feel like either showing up for the interview or explicitly cancelling it is the absolute minimum small courtesy you should be able to expect of a recruiter.

  2. LDF*

    #3… I would actually go as far as in the US, asking to be called “Lord” even one single time would make you look out-of-touch and pompous.

      1. Clorinda*

        I would laugh. And then I would call him Lord, but in atone of voice he wouldn’t like. The US doesn’t have legal aristocratic titles, so I don’t know what this “legal right” is to which he refers.

    1. Persephone Underground*

      To be fair, that’s a particular US thing since we explicitly have no noble titles and reject the entire concept as a culture. In a country where it’s normal I think it’s probably a fair thing to ask- if it’s your name, it’s your name, right?

      But it may not be worth investing the capital in pushing back on this depending on all sorts of factors. If you really want to insist, pick which one you want to hold firm on (using your best guess on the culture)- it reads like you’re giving them both options as an attempt to be flexible, but it might be undermining your argument if they see one title as unnecessary, making them see both that way.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Well, in *some* countries. In Germany, a doctorate is also part of your official name (which creates problems in passports while traveling abroad because hardly any other country understands that concept) as are nobility titles, yet it’s in many circles considered at least somewhat pompous if not cringeworthy to use either.

        (In more conservative and nationalist circles than I’ve ever moved in I imagine the opposite would be the case. I’m talking of the business world in not overly nepotism-infested sectors that have minimum standards of inclusiveness and professionalism.)

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Nobility were abandoned after WW1 and became part of the name, so someone can have a last name of “von Bismarck”. It’s not considered a title.
          Academic titles like “Doktor” (Dr. – can be a MD or PhD or any other but must be bestowed by a bona fide university, using a purchased degree is a misdemeanor) can be put in your passport, together with a maiden name, but is not considered a part of your name.

      2. Liz*

        As a Brit, I would say there has been a distinct shift over recent decades away from the use of such titles outside of formalities and ceremonies. People on the whole have much less patience for the hierarchical structures surrounding nobility and landed gentry. If the employees were working FOR the Lord’s family, especially if on his estate, there would probably be a protocol for using his title as a matter of formality, but outside of such niches, most Brits like to have at least a veneer of equality. Being pushed to constantly use the title of Lord would make people feel they are being forced to subjugate themselves based on somebody’s birthright, the very existence of which is seen as a cornerstone to social inequalities in British society. You’re going to get a lot of eye rolls from people and lose some political capital.

        I had a colleague at uni who worked for a boss who had been knighted. Granted, it really didn’t help that he was unpleasant to work for, but he also insisted on being referred to as “Sir Bob”. This was also the subject of much eye rolling. Obviously his demeanor was already a factor, but the insistence on the form of address cemented his reputation as being self-important and out of touch.

        1. Pennyworth*

          The thing is, you can just make Sirbob into his first name in your mind, so it is no more deferential than ‘Simon’ but Sir Bob will never know.

      3. Cambridge Comma*

        You’d have to be a bit of a knob to ask for it. If the newspapers are correct, even Prince William used Firstname Surname at work.

        1. londonedit*

          I was going to say this. The vast amount of people with peerages, knighthoods etc absolutely will not give a stuff about anyone using their title outside of officialdom. Whenever Prince William has done his TV programmes meeting people to talk about mental health, etc, they invariably ask how they should address him, and he always says they should just call him William.

          1. Anonys*

            This is so true. I know someone who has a princess and duchess title – while she doesn’t exactly hide it, she has never advertised it and I first found out from other acquaintances.

            I think it’s very weird to be so hung up on a title, especially if OP works in an office where people usually communicate on a first name basis. If everyone went by “Mr Doe” I wouldn’t mind calling the OP “Dr Pompous” but actually addressing someone as Lord would be super weird for me. I thik i might ironically curtesy every time. I say this having lives in the UK and Germany, both probably more formal countries than the US.

            1. Box Jumps*

              Thirded (fourthed?). I had a close family friend who held a legitimate title, had a castle, land, etc. I actually did not know this – or his birth name – until a family member mentioned in passing. I’d known this man and his wife and kids for 20 years before I found out that what I’d been calling him for decades was an Anglicized version of his name. He recently passed away- and iirc his headstone has his preferred name.

              1. JustaTech*

                I have a family friend who actively hid that she has some kind of fancy title (Princess?) for a very long time because it stands in direct contrast to the kind of person she is – a deeply egalitarian artist.

                She has a castle, but she bought it as a total mess and fixed it up to rent out for weddings and stuff.

                I can totally see *not* using a title if it brings baggage you don’t want.

            1. Phony Genius*

              From what I’ve heard, the Queen follows protocol to the letter, especially with her family. And Princess Kate has been said to be even stricter. But I’m not sure I’d put much stock into royal rumors.

                1. Alli525*

                  She is a princess of England, by virtue of her marriage (and that’s what’s on the birth certificates of her children and Meghan’s Archie), but technically she is only a duchess for now. She’ll be styled as Queen when William becomes king, I believe.

                2. The Ex Trombonist*

                  She’s both: she’s both a princess by marriage and a dutchess by marriage. While on paper, being “The Princess William” outranks being “The Dutchess of Cambridge” in practice she and William follow the tradition of royal peers and using their peerage titles rather than their princely titles. When Charles becomes king and William becomes the Prince of Wales, then she’ll start being called Princess.

      4. TechWorker*

        If you’re including the U.K. as a ‘country where it’s normal’ remember there are a tiny number of Lords and the vast majority of people will never meet one in person or work with one. In many circumstances here it would also make you look out of touch and pompous ;)

        1. Clewgarnet*

          I’ve worked with several over the years. The only one who insisted on people using his title was a pompous fool. The others were varying levels of useless, but at least they weren’t pompous.

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I’ve met a few in various circumstances. Not one of them has ever insisted on using their title.

      5. MassMatt*

        But every commenter here from places where there ARE noble/hereditary titles has said this is only done in particular contexts (i.e. when being introduced at a formal occasion) and people that insist on their usage at work or in everyday life are pompous, and mocked.

        The LW isn’t impressing anyone and should cut his losses.

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          The details about how this is handled in places like the UK are fascinating, honestly.
          I tried to be broad in “where it’s normal” to include the possibility that it isn’t normal in England for example since I wouldn’t know myself. I suppose I think there’s an argument to be made that we shouldn’t be so judgemental about what people want to be called, but forms of address have so much cultural baggage that I think that’s a bit naive, and it’s probably more useful to the LW to hear the reality that he’ll probably be judged on this, even if it might not be entirely fair.

    2. Londoner*

      #3 is so interesting, partly because it’s so vague with so little context. OP doesn’t specify which of his two titles (Dr or Lord) was recently acquired or how. I guess it makes me think of those dodgy certificates you buy on the internet for £25 that allege you’ve then become a Lord, but that carry no meaning whatsoever and are just a nice gift, and possibly a useful chat up line, but not really something one would otherwise use in real life. There’s also something a bit incongruent about a Lord working in an office, isn’t there?

      Regarding doctorates, it’s also tricky because it entirely depends in what kind of setting the OP works. it’s possible that if the PhD is irrelevant for the role the OP is in, that the employer will ignore it. E.g if you have a PhD in geography and you work in HR. Here in the UK, I work in the academic sector for a funding body, where there’s loads of people with doctorates, and it’s displayed e.g. on people’s name badges, though we all call each other by our first names. Before that I worked for charities where there were one or two people with PhDs, but it was not relevant to their roles and therefore not displayed.

      1. Coffee time!*

        You just gave me an idea for a present for hubby …looked it up he can be an Irish Lord !

      2. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

        I don’t think the dodgy titles you buy on the internet are official enough to go in your passport, so if the Lord title is that official it’s presumably been inherited.

        I have some sympathy about Dr, but in 99/100 UK offices insisting on an inherited title is going to make everybody think you are a complete tool.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          My brother had his bought one in his passport. Now he’s no longer a teenager, he doesn’t.

        2. M*

          Best I understand it, it’s reasonably easy to get one of the dodgy ones with no legal weight onto a passport in the US – but if you buy a patch of dirt in Scotland, no chance that same “title” is getting onto a UK passport.

          Pretty much, because *real* titles don’t have any particular legal significance in the US, there’s not really any gatekeeping stopping you putting them on documents, so skip buying the patch of dirt, just claim to be a Lord if you want. In countries where they might actually carry any weight, your patch of Scottish dirt has purchased you nothing.

          1. MassMatt*

            It’s also pretty easy to just change your name in the US. You can name yourself Emperor Jones or Princess Consuela Bananahammock or Lord MassMatt. Really the only times I’ve heard of a court intervening is if the chosen name is offensive, there was a neonazi couple that tried to name their child Adolph Hitler and the court wasn’t having that.

            1. yala*

              As I recall, they actually did name him that (and named his sister Aryan Nation) and the legal dust-up was because a bakery didn’t want to write Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler” on a cake.

              …i don’t remember if it ended with them losing custody and the kids getting a much needed name change, but wow I hope it did.

              1. JustaTech*

                My advisor in undergrad’s lastname was Adolph (probably the Swedish extraction of that name, but who knows). It wasn’t ever an issue until I was chatting about him using just his last name with someone from another college where students called their professor by their first name. “Your professor’s name is Adolph?!” *blink* “No, his name is Steve. Adolph is his last name.”

                After that I was more careful to use Professor around people who didn’t already know him.

          2. Thistle Whistle*

            There is a rather good article on the legality (or not) of buying British titles in Forbes.


            It states that the sale of British titles is prohibited by Law and that what is for sale is not a title but the lordship of a manor. “A manorial lordship is not an aristocratic title, but a semi-extinct form of landed property”. It also can’t be used on a passport.

      3. Batty Twerp*

        Yeah, the only time I can really see pushing back on the doctorate issue is if in their external literature the company refuses to use it where it would actually carry proper weight. ie “Speaking at our conference will be Dr Wakeen Smith from Similar Company, Dr Jane Jones from rival company, and our very own Bob Tanner.” But this is such an edge case and being crowded out by the Lord issue (ugh)

        1. Blackcat*

          I know my husband is simply FirstName LastName in all official company stuff (like HR systems, office label, email system, etc), but they always slap Dr. in front of any external thing he does. I think that’s common, if not the norm, in corporate settings with a relevant PhD.

          1. JustaTech*

            That’s how it is at my biotech. When they put people’s PhDs (but not Master’s) on their office name plates whoo boy were people irked.

            I couldn’t get them to explain *why* they were mad about other people knowing that they have a relevant degree.

      4. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Yes! My friend bought a square foot of land in Scotland for like 150 pounds and became a Lady!

    3. Lilyp*

      In the US, but someone asking even once to be referred to as Lord, even if it was their real honest title, would immediately go in the top 5 strangest people I’ve ever encountered professionally….and not in a good way. The whole system of landed inherited titles is just so at odds with everything about a professional office, it would stick out like a sore thumb.

    4. ev*

      Would in the UK as well. The only way it wouldn’t is if this guy was extremely high management where it was likely he’d be able to force it and then the employees would likely still be eyerolling behind his back about out of touch stuck up management, and why does someone who prances around wanting to be called Lord even NEED this job…?

      Sorry OP, all you are doing is alienating every person you work with.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        I could see a title working out for certain niche jobs. I am an American and I would be more likely to hire a tour guide or stay in a b and b run by a peer. I would maybe even hire a titled peer to decorate my home or design a garden if all else was equal between applicants. But to be certain, it was tough to come up with those examples. I think the letter writer might consult his fellow peers how they handle their title in work situations if they want to take another temperature on the situation. I have the feeling they will mirror what Alison said but you never know.

        1. Teyra*

          That’s fair, I can see how it could be a good tourist gimmick. But, seriously, anyone who asked me to call them lord here in England at work (and in most other occasions frankly) would get an eye-roll and either an outright refusal or a very sarcastic remark. I’d imagine there are some jobs where it would be acceptable, but in the vast majority it would come off as arrogant and conceited. It’s effectively demanding an unearned level of respect and even subservience which I feel is very inappropriate for almost any workplace. Plus it’s super out of touch – nobody cares or values that someone’s a lord, so thinking its so important that people should refer to you as such at work is just odd.

          1. londonedit*

            Absolutely. And in my experience, most people who actually do have genuine titles wouldn’t want any sort of special recognition or treatment – they want to go to work, do their job, and be treated the same as anyone else. They don’t want people bowing and scraping and calling them ‘Lord’ in everyday life.

    5. Artemesia*

      It sounds like the doctorate is an honorary degree too and using the title ‘Dr.’ when you have an honorary degree beyond the event where it is awarded is laughable. Even those with an earned doctorate don’t use it socially usually in the US — although it sounds like you are not here since ‘Lord’ is not even a title an American citizen can use even if it is awarded in a country with that custom. But I doubt honorary doctorates are viewed as anything but pompous if someone insists on being called that anywhere.

    6. Eyeroll*

      Maybe even in the UK – we have a client who insists on us always using his hereditary title and we all roll our eyes about it when he’s not around.

    7. profe*

      I’m cracking up at this because my partner has a doctorate and goes by Dr. but also just did that thing where you buy a square foot of land in Scotland for the title of Lord (and the money benefits conservation), so there are lots of “Lord Doctor” jokes happening in my house and at his work, but they are jokes!

      1. JustaTech*

        One of my friends in college got an online ordination (so he could do a friend’s wedding). You get to pick the title you want, “Reverend”, “Brother” etc, and he was in the Marines at the time, so we joked that he should be Lance Corporal Mother Superior.

    8. cmcinnyc*

      We had an actual Lord (UK) visiting our (US) office, and his email signature included the title. There was a lot of laughing and “Do we call him Sir? Or is that a come-down?” We are a first-name office, but we settled on calling him Mr. BritishLastName-With-Hyphen and he immediately corrected us to Reginald. All was well.

  3. bubbleon*

    Sorry OP#3 but even if it is more in line with the country’s culture, you still sound a little pompous. Pick one honorific to use at work and stick with it, that way you can explain to your company that you should be referred to as Dr. OP3 in all professional communication. That way you’ll probably have a little more room to lean on the recognition than you would if you’re being selective about when you want to use each.

    1. B Wayne*

      Pompous is being kind I think. This is a perfect example of why we “fired the shot heard ’round the world”, to get away from all that CRAP. Bad enough we have a political class in the US with multigenerational political families. Turn them all out.

      1. anonaccountant*

        This… seems aggressive. There are plenty of other cultures and countries besides the US who read and use this blog. I don’t think we need to bring the American Revolution into this.

          1. jolene*

            Eh, hereditary class systems are universally a bad thing, as are political classes. It’s a fair point. Though of course, the reason American has hereditary political classes to this point is the conflation of Head of State and Head of Government in one role. It’s a terrible idea.

              1. anonaccountant*

                Precisely. This is an advice column about work, after all. Really, a low stakes (somewhat funny) question that’s eliciting a strangely intense reaction. This is just one OP who is fixated on a title. No need to jump to wars that happened nearly 250 years ago!

        1. MassMatt*

          …and many of them had republican revolutions to get rid of these titles. A shame Britain never did so.

  4. Eric*

    #4, in this case, you could probably reach out to your schools career office. Since they contacted you through the schools job board, they msy have had to agree to certain requirements.

    1. Viette*

      That’s a good point. I don’t know if they’ll have power over the recruiter but this is the kind of thing where if you can spread around the knowledge that this recruiter is very unprofessional and doesn’t make the folks around them look good, it’s worth doing.

      1. Esmeralda*

        I would not be spreading that judgment around. There are all sorts of reasons besides “unprofessional ghosting” that this could have happened, I listed some in a comment above.

        And also, if it’s a couple days before an important meeting and I haven’t gotten the zoom link, I contact the organizer to get it. Don’t know if OP 4 did that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That is truly my favorite thing about Scott Disick, because it seems like he knows how ridiculous it is. (But maybe I’m giving him too much credit.)

      1. Coffee Cup*

        I was just thinking about him. In my opinion he definitely knows how ridiculous it is and used to play it up. He is a witty man.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I was hoping someone would say this! It’s the first thing I thought of. The second was Lord John Marbury on The West Wing.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s who I thought of, and I would love working with that guy – he was hilarious.

    3. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      When he first got that “honorific” I couldn’t help myself from modifying his last name from Disick to Dick. He was such an ass about it.

  5. Artemesia*

    The lay off situation really hit home I was among 41 faculty laid off in a merger, many of them long tenured and half a dozen were near retirement. Some of us decided that these people deserved a retirement party although retirement was coming a year or two early. Well intentioned and run by their peers — WOW — the amount of blowback. People being laid off who were not being celebrated felt unappreciated and then those honored were hesitant to be singled out once people not being honored started whining. And this was in reaction to a peer organized event in which many of those planning were also losing their jobs.

    These are situations where nerves are raw and taken umbrage is pretty much the first response. For the company to do this is particularly tone deaf, but I am sure they thought they were doing something positive.

    You’ll never get me close to one of these things again.

    1. JustaTech*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that had an official work party for a layoff.

      Bosses turning a blind eye when everyone leaves at 3 when the bars open to go comisserate? Sure. A party? Heck no.
      In fact, a few years ago an email was sent out that there would be no more goodbye parties for people who were leaving (voluntarily) because we “shouldn’t act like we are happy they are gone”. Uh, no, we were happy they were getting out.

      The solution was to stop inviting people over a certain title and organizing by word of mouth and not email. If it just so happens that everyone goes to the Sasquach bar on a Friday afternoon after work, well, it’s after work.

      I’m just sad we couldn’t do the “if you want to come out drinking after getting laid off we will pay for your drinks and get you home safe” for this latest round of pandemic layoffs.

  6. a sound engineer*

    #3 – This is definitely not a hill I would die on.

    #4 – In my current job search, recruiters scheduling calls or interviews and then dropping off the face of the earth has happened more times than I can count. I have almost a decade of work experience in an unrelated industry, but am also a recent grad and new entry to the field I am job searching in (I graduated in December, right before classes became virtual). It really sucks, but it seems to be the way things are. I hope you start having better luck!

  7. MerBearStare*

    #3 – If it were me and I was dealing with someone who was making a stink out of me not calling them doctor or, even worse, *lord*, I would just keep not calling them that out of spite. But, well, I’m a petty person. Maybe trying chilling out about it and then seeing if people are more receptive to what you’re asking for. And if they’re not, let it go.

    1. a sound engineer*

      Ha, I hadn’t thought about that, but will (for better or for worse) admit that if the person was having a big enough fit about it I might end up going down that path too.

    2. Persephone Underground*

      OP does say it’s about written documents and signage, not about asking to be addressed with a title in conversation. That’s a lot different IMHO.

      1. PollyQ*

        Eh, I’d say it’s a little different. In a lot of US workplaces, a bulletin board full of photos & bios would just use “FirstName LastName”, with no title at all. In that context, insisting on “Lord Fergus Puffnstuff” is going to look pretty silly.

        1. Pennyworth*

          Also, many people get confused about how to use a title if they are not familiar with them. Is it Lord Scott, or Lord Disick, or Lord Scott Disick? Also, in the US, title-like first names names are not uncommon: is the Prince Michael on the noticeboard a member of an obscure royal family or one of Michael Jackson’s kids?

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        Agree. Before I read the letter I was ready to eyeroll so hard, but simply wanting it on business cards, letterhead, seems fairly benign. I will agree that he should pick one honorific (probably Dr) and stick with it. A doctorate or MD is not an easy feat and usually provides a benefit to the organization as well so I’m not sure why they are resistant.

      3. Observer*


        ESPECIALLY the signage bit, which is for people to “familiarize” themselves. In other words “everyone must know that I am Lord Dr. Big Shot”.

    3. I’m Not the Secretary*

      “If it were me and I was dealing with someone who was making a stink out of me not calling them doctor”

      I work in a field where because of sexism and stereotypes, women are disproportionately assumed to be in a different role (without a title they have earned) whereas their male colleagues in the same role would be assumed to be in that role, so for us women, it’s important to have our titles used in a way that it’s not as crucial for our male counterparts. It’s similar for minorities vs white men. (Think academic faculty vs admin, or doctor vs nurse, or Senator vs staff, etc.) There is research out there showing that women in certain roles are disproportionately less likely to be introduced at conferences by their professional title than men, and there’s plenty of stories out there about minorities being mistaken for other roles (ex: the latest news about a Black female British barrister being mistaken multiple times in a day for a defendant).

      Please consider respecting people’s preferred titles or forms of address, instead of intentionally doing the opposite when they request it, especially since they may be doing so to combat sexism or racism or other forms of discrimination.

      1. a sound engineer*

        My comment, at least, was referring to being called lord specifically. I am a woman of color who works in a field where I am vastly outnumbered by men (and usually much younger than everyone else), and it’s a good day when I’m mistaken for something like intern as opposed to girlfriend, when in reality I am in charge. So I totally understand the point you are making. But I think it’s unfair to assume that those of us commenting above fall immediately to pettiness regardless of the situation. We are incapable of making the distinction between an actual issue where someone is being disrespected by not being called by their title, and someone deciding to die on a hill about titles in a situation where the title in question is not necessarily adding useful information or relevant.

        1. I’m Not the Secretary*

          I was replying literally to your comment where you used the word “doctor” and not “lord.” You as an individual may understand the nuances of race and gender, but a public response to your comment (without qualifiers) is fair when many others are also reading these comments. G*d knows I’ve probably been considered b*tchy plenty of times for explicitly clarifying my title when I introduce myself. I think it’s also unfair to say that just because you are an individual who may already understand my point, my comment reply was pointless.

          1. a sound engineer*

            I believe you are confusing me with the poster of the original comment, I was not referring to the title of “doctor” in any of my responses.

            1. a sound engineer*

              I’m also not sure where I said your comment was pointless, but I’m sorry if you took it that way.

      2. MerBearStare*

        Right, but that’s not the letter I was responding to and your quotation wasn’t my complete thought. The letter writer wants to be called either doctor (reasonable) *or lord* (ridiculous). To me that reads as the OP wanting to use a title, any title, for the sake of using a title rather than him wanting to be called doctor because he worked hard to receive a PhD. If he had stuck with just doctor, his workplace probably would still be accommodating him. And aristocratic titles don’t belong in the workplace (or in any year starting with 20–).

      3. Observer*

        Alison did address that, though.

        Personal preferences don’t over-ride everything, and it is certainly legitimate to draw conclusions about people based on their behavior around these things.

        As well, it’s fairly obvious that none of this is the issue for the OP. The OP is male (titles of “nobility” are heavily gendered). And in no work related context do such titles help a person be taken more seriously. Had he stuck to “Doctor” it would have been a bit different – MAYBE it would be relevant.

    4. tyrannosaurus vex*

      I used to work with a super pompous blowhard veterinarian who was always DOCTOR JONES, or if he really liked you, you were allowed DOCTOR ROBERT. We hired a lady who was quite advanced in years and refused to stand for his nonsense (think Maggie Smith if she was into crystals and herbs) and she never called him anything but Bob. He hated it but it gave everyone else so much joy

  8. Unemployed in Greenland*

    #3 – Dr. Lecter, can I just ask you to leave the census taker alone, this time? They’re doing important work.

  9. Zelda*

    #1, An all-volunteer organization I used to work with had, as part of its bylaws, a required minimum number of hours of service in the previous year before a person is eligible to sit on the board or hold office. I.e., anyone can turn up at the general meetings, but only active, productive members of the organization get a substantial say in how it’s run.

    I know there are situations where a seat on the board is essentially recognition for major financial support, and I’m not sure how you might navigate around it if your time-wasters are big donors. But if they’re just folks who have mistaken “talking” for “volunteering,” limiting some or all of the committee meetings to people who are acting may help.

    1. Llamalawyer*

      Agreed. Also, when recruiting board members, you need to be clear that this is a “working” board, where board members are expected to participate and give time in implementing ideas.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      My concern about that is that there are a number of circumstances that could prevent people from being active – illness, disability, child/elder care, etc. Does anyone really wan to tell a valued member of the organization that he/she can’t be on the board any more because their cancer treatments or sick mother meant they didn’t contribute enough hours last year?

      People can contribute in lots of ways – and financial contributions shouldn’t be considered minor – so I’d be VERY leery of writing in a policy like that.

      1. Colette*

        If the purpose of the board is to run events, there’s no reason why you can’t say “this is a commitment to provide X hours of service or organize Y events”. You can provide alternative ways to support the organization – e.g. maybe you can be a member and contribute whatever time you are able to commit.

        But if you’re dealing with health issues or family commitments or a busy job or other commitments, you won’t be able to commit the time/effort this organization needs, and it’s OK for the organization to say “hey, right now you’re not in a place to give us the kind of commitment we need, so we are going to find other people who can.” And you can have include the current board members in the discussion about how you get more people involved in helping to run things.

        1. Paulina*

          It can be useful to get input, at a board level, from people with different backgrounds and perspectives. Only having input from people with significant available time can lead to narrow bias and the organization’s activities excluding large groups of people. (I’ve been part of a few organizations that were largely run by retirees, and it showed, while they wondered why they couldn’t recruit more younger members.) However, if a board member is there for perspective rather than the time they can put in, and they are very busy, then you’d hope they’d be less indulgent with making up things for others to do.

      2. MassMatt*

        Well, yes, people can contribute in many ways, including financially, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be on the board. Likewise, people that have disabilities or responsibilities that prevent them from working for the organization–maybe being on the board is not a good fit?

        1. Paperwhite*

          OTOH, can a modern organization really do its best if it excludes the perspectives of disabled people, people who can’t afford to volunteer full time, and so on?

          1. Zelda*

            See above re: “anyone can turn up at the general meeting.”

            NO ONE said anything about “full-time;” the required number of hours is something pretty reasonable to do around the edges of holding a job and running a household, which just about all of us did. And much of the available work (certainly not all) is doable from one’s couch– we had persons of limited mobility who were doing yeoman service in setting up our relationships with other businesses by making those phone calls, for instance.

            There is a lot of territory between letting all comers take up everyone’s time always with no filter, and only letting in those able-bodied and privileged not to work for a living while utterly silencing everyone else. The idea is to frame leadership positions as *responsibilities* more than power, and meetings as *working* meetings rather than gab sessions.

      3. Zelda*

        “Does anyone really wan to tell a valued member of the organization that he/she can’t be on the board any more because their cancer treatments or sick mother meant they didn’t contribute enough hours last year?”

        Our experience with that was that people going through such situations didn’t want to be on the board, either. If they’re not able to be of service to the organization for a while because of a more important situation elsewhere in their lives, no prob, stay in touch, come back when you can, and do you need your casserole to be gluten-free? It wasn’t the organization “kicking them out,” it was them cutting out all those meetings that didn’t fit into their lives for a while.

      4. Sandman*

        Our working Board has an attendance etc. requirement and included an exception for this sort of thing, but it does require Board approval. Some Boards are more social club/ego-driven, but a working Board needs its members to be active in order to function. We’re really clear on expectations with incoming Board members, so it’s not something that should ever be a surprise. But in the long run, if you can’t be active then you’re preventing someone else from contributing and demanding that fellow Board members take up your slack.

    3. MassMatt*

      It’s annoying to get lots of memos and emails, etc where people that do no work are suggesting all the great new and different things for someone ELSE to do. The best volunteer organizations I’ve worked with emphasized that if you suggest an idea you should be prepared to work on it.

      Your organization needs a new board, or at least a change of direction for the existing board. It’s easy to suggest lots of ideas, the hard part is getting things done. IMO your board should be a resource for doing the hard work, not simply assigning it.

    4. EmbracesTrees*

      I may get flak for what I say here, but this is a sore spot for me right now.

      That “there is a core group who do all of the work” has been true for nearly every volunteer org that I’ve worked with. It’s immensely frustrating to be one of those people and then have someone who does nothing but attend board meetings make suggestions about what *other people* (as in, me and the other vols) “should” do with their time. Guess what?
      WE’RE BUSY TOO! (For ex, I work full time+, am a parent to a middle schooler, have an elderly (and, now, lonely and isolated) mother, and can’t afford to hire someone else to do any of the endless requirements of maintaining a house and yard, etc. It’s all on me. So, yeah, “being busy” isn’t unique.)

      Assuming the inability to contribute to what has to get done isn’t a temporary or new situation (iow, the “idea person” has contributed in the past and will do so again when they can), I don’t think it would be much of a loss to (kindly and gently) run off some of those who are volunteering nothing but ideas (news flash — people doing the grunt work have good ideas too — ones informed by actual interactions “in the field”). Unfortunately, I’ve met too many who just do it to be able to feel like/say they’re “doing something in their community” … but really aren’t.

    5. Wintergreen*

      The problem though, is that it doesn’t really address LW’s problem. For ex., I could volunteer 20 hours in January to project X (fulfilling said bylaw minimum) then, at the next meeting, waste an hour proposing ideas that I have no intention of following up on or working on further. If I did that each month that is 11-12 hours of wasted time on one person alone. Now imagine if multiple people are doing this.

      Instead of a blanket X hours volunteering at organization should instead change the meeting rules so that if you propose an idea at the meeting, you are committing to X hours to setup/implementation of said idea. So, if I were a board member and propose a bake sell, as the person who proposed the idea, I am committing to 5 hours toward the implementation of the bake sell before I know if there will be any interest in the bake sell by the board.

      1. Zelda*

        It does address it, albeit indirectly– folks who are putting in the work *somewhere* are seeing more of how the sausage is made and are less likely to (admittedly not guaranteed not to) engage in that sort of siliness. Now, you still have to have someone *running* the meeting, that is, actually taking charge and not letting it get too far off track, spinning off things to side groups where needed, etc. That’s its own whole topic that Alison has addressed elsewhere.

    6. juliebulie*

      I had a coworker who was always full of great ideas that other people could carry out. He would monopolize meetings that weren’t his explaining things that he thought were wrong and that could be fixed by someone other than him. His great visionary delusion was cured when managers started telling him that he could be in charge of implementing these ideas if he submitted proposals.

      Pretty much what Alison suggests. It really worked!

  10. Lilyp*

    I don’t think a specific title would be relevant or necessary for any really internal “paperwork” though (e.g. insurance forms or work clearance documents or something). It’s not like OPs name changed or something. It sounds like he wants the title used for general written communication (like a staff directory or nameplates), which is not AS bad as insisting on it in conversation but still weird and out of touch.

    1. Clorinda*

      A doctorate is earned (usually), and if a person who put in all that work wants to be called Doctor, even if it’s not medical, that’s fine. A lordship is either inherited or bought, and he can blow it out his ear.

      1. Reba*

        I can imagine — in fact, I’m sure that I know — people with honorary doctorates insisting on the title.

      2. EmbracesTrees*

        I have a doctorate. I really really really tried to get my family to call me “Dr.”

        … for some reason they just laughed at me! =)

  11. Karia*

    As a British person, not to mention a socialist, I’d laugh in your face if you asked me to call you Lord Pompington. I call my boss by his first name. I’m not bowing and scraping to a fellow employee. Also – why do YOU want it known? If I were minor nobility in employment, I’d hide that with all my energy.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Almost all of them now. The estates that still come with the titles (and not all of them do, many have been sold) are expensive to maintain and don’t actually bring in money the way they used to, though a lot of nobility that still own their ancestral estates have converted them into tourist attractions to help pay the bills. But that’s just to cover the enormous costs of keeping up the property itself; they still don’t make their living off the property, so they still have jobs with which to keep themselves and their families financially supported. Even minor royalty often have jobs now, though they don’t always need them in order to be solvent.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Case in point: Downton Abbey is recorded in the estate of the earls of Carnarvon.
          Also, I don’t know how it works in other countries, but in my country people can be raised into nobility for exceptional feats. Usually these are non-hereditary baronies, and the law is very clear that frankly it’s just a fancy acknowledgement of what you did and that you derive no special privilege from it, especially not in foreign countries.

          1. FloralWraith*

            We have a Baroness in our faculty and one on our advisory council and the only time their “Baroness” title is used is on official university communications (our website for example, or if they’re hosting a prestigious event). Otherwise, it’s just first names regularly.

        2. londonedit*

          Even the minor royals have jobs. It’s only the very senior ones (like the Queen, Prince Charles, etc) whose ‘job’ is ‘member of the Royal Family’ (and even Prince William was in the military and worked for the Air Ambulance before he was deemed senior enough to make ‘official royal engagements’ his main job).

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I recall Princess Anne was pretty clear she wanted both her children not to have royal titles and to work which is why Peter Philips works for a bank I think and Zara Tindell is an athlete.

            The number of royals who get paid to be royals is pretty small now.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The House of Lords? Plenty Lords and Ladys from there have roles elsewhere than the debating chamber and are not entirely from landed gentry anymore.

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        In the U.K. at least, most titled people of working age do have/need jobs. A lot of the assets that go with peerages, if there are any by now, aren’t very liquid.

      4. Pennyworth*

        Lords who need money to live on? A title doesn’t come with a pre-loaded bank account, though a hereditary one might have and ancestral estate.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. As a student I worked for the local baronet. He was the classic definition of impoverished aristocracy with a large manor house with a leaking roof and no money. The reason I worked for him was because the house was open to tourists, hired for weddings and events and just about every other thing he could think of to make money to pay for the leaking roof.

          He was a frightfully nice chap and he certainly did not insist on using his title. Everyone called him Toby. Unless we had tourists around when we tugged our forelocks excessively and acted up the humble retainer thing. He was the nicest, most unassuming person and if we’d started calling him Sir Tobias he’d have wondered what was wrong.

          Another family friend has a hereditary baronetcy and no estate at all (sold years ago). He used to work in the NHS I think. He says the title gets him hotel room upgrades but that’s about it. He doesn’t use it in daily life and everyone just calls him Ned. I mean he could make us call him Sir Edward but he’d look a right prat if he did and we wouldn’t like him half so much.

            1. UKDancer*

              Afraid not. I was using Toby as a substitute for his real name to make it less identifiable. I never like using peoples real names on the site.

      5. Bagpuss*

        A lot of them. IT depends, of course, on where their families own (or owned) land and what they invested in, not to mention where they fall in the family.
        Not all hereditary peers still own their original estates. Death duties / inheritance tax meant a lot had to sell or mortgage assets. Also, depending n rank, there may be younger sons/daughters who have titles but don’t necessarily have much property, as in most cases what wealth / estates there are will primarily go to the eldest son. And even he may not have much of his own until he inherits, which can be pretty late in life.
        Of curse, it’s all relative, and most of them will still be better off than the average person, but title doesn’t automatically equal wealth.

        I’d agree with previous posters that very few of them insist on using their titles at work unless it is directly relevant (e.g. their job involves running the ancestral home as a tourist attraction) .
        I have come across quite a few titled individuals in my professional and personal capacity and I can’t think of a singe one who has used their title – once or twice they have been introduced as ‘Lord X’ or ‘Lady Y’ but have immediately said “Call me Jim / Jane”

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes, when I worked for the local baronet as a student we referred to him as Sir Tobias when talking about him to visiting tourists but called him Toby normally. It was part of the atmosphere we were selling to use his title so we did it as part of the act.

          We called his mother Lady Brown but she was an elderly lady and that was her preference and made it easier for her to deal with the fact that her home was full of tourists and wedding guests most of the time. Also she was a lovely old dear and so we didn’t mind.

      6. Bippity*

        My partner is from the most working class background you can imagine and is probably going to be Knighted in the next NYH due to his work in more or less single handedly keeping his industry going after it was completely destroyed and shut down by COVID. He already has a gong for services to his industry and that was before COVID, he’s done ten times more in the past six months than he has in the past ten years.

        Of course if he is knighted he’ll be Sir not Lord, but the point is the same.

        1. JustaTech*

          Good on your partner! I hope they enjoy the appreciation and it gets them some material benefits for their work.

      7. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Many people with titles have jobs! Here’s what the actor Christopher Guest (who is the 5th Baron Haden-Guest) said about the House of Lords:

        “But it wasn’t Downton Abbey and the Roller, none of that. Most of these people had no money. They didn’t have the country houses. They were regular people who had regular jobs. They were well informed, and lending their expertise. And the speeches were amazing, so I’m glad that I went.”

  12. Dan*


    This one hits home a bit. My org recently RIF’d some long standing senior management. This was rather unexpected, and the org never fully explained why, although it wasn’t COVID related. These managers had like 20+ years each.

    And… they were vague about the whole thing. They just called it a reorg, which was quite true. The fact that there was a RIF attached to it wasn’t clearly announced by upper management. Rank and file found out about the RIF as managers sent out their good bye notes. The rest of us were like, um what? How many?

    Management later indicated that in retrospect, it would have been thoughtful to recognize their contributions. After all, they said, those folks were with us for over 20 years so they must have been doing something right.

    I’m under the impression that when it comes to bad news (e.g., RIF or job rejection), no matter what people do, someone is going to find fault with that.

    1. Ali G*

      Yeah, we had a re-org with a RIF last year and I can tell you, as one of the staff that agonized daily for weeks over things like: should we do it early in the month so they have health insurance a few more weeks, is it better at the beginning or the end of the day, what kind of severance can we afford…? There is no good way.
      However, what we didn’t do is draw attention to all the people that lost their jobs OUTSIDE the organization! That’s just wrong. Letting RIF’ed staff go with compassion and reassuring retained staff are the priorities. No one else needs to be involved.
      The people that were let go got to choose who and when they communicated about it. It didn’t take long for our alumni and stakeholders to find out. We didn’t need to announce it and it would have been heartless to do so.

    2. RC Rascal*

      I was once required to attend a going away party after I was laid off. Massive reorganization, 3 people in my area were cut including me. They had a big going away party at a bar and for political reasons I was forced to attend. It was humiliating. And the people staying were all having fun talking about their new roles. It was clearly done by management to assauge their guilt; none of this was for departing employees. Then they have me a going away gift of an enormous basket of candy. I lived alone and am health conscious. I ended up taking giant candy basket to my apartment complex’s leasing a office & leaving it there.

    3. Ellen Ripley*

      Yup, the thing I like about how #2’s org dealt with it was that they were straightforward and regretful. Some of the wording was unfortunate (and they should have used a BCC rather than a CC), but at least they let everyone know these people were leaving and provided an opportunity for everyone to speak with them before they left.

      I strongly dislike it when people just disappear, and the org acts like it just magically happened, and no one knows why.

      1. Observer*

        Regretful? That’s one of the problems here – despite the talk of “valued” employees, I don’t think that there was any sense of regret at all. “Right sizing for our strategic future” is not in the least bit regretful.

      2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

        But this email was sent to alumni, i.e. other former employees. They didn’t need to know this information.

    4. Hiding for this post*

      There is no right answer to this. I’m going super anon for this… but I’m a manager dealing with this exact conundrum. We laid off several long tenure (20+ years) employees recently who were given an extended (4 month) notice period. It’s been awkward and a landmine enriched environment since the announcements.

      I want to recognize them somehow when the notice period is up. But am really struggling trying to figure out a way to do it that isn’t going to cause bad feeling (on top of the bad feeling from being laid off). It doesn’t seem right to not recognize them in some way, but it also isn’t right to celebrate.

      I have a little time, so I’m going to keep thinking on it. but yeah… it sucks and whatever I do or don’t do is going to be received differently by those affected. I’m aware of and very conscious of that fact.

      1. Smithy*

        Depending on the COVID realities where you are, I just want to make a plug for not having that recognition done through a Zoom event. I recently left a job on my own accord, had a new one lined up, and did the Zoom Goodbye because I knew refusing it was bad for me networking-wise.

        I was leaving on good terms, no major issues at play, and it was still the weirdest more awkward thing ever.

        1. Hiding for this post*

          Yeah, this was going to be an issue either way since the team is spread out among different locations. I’m currently leaning towards encouraging team members to send a note to the affected teammates or something along those lines. (I’m also trying to be aware and sensitive to the remaining employees who are unsure how to navigate this situation with their coworkers). I may ask the team if they want to write out a note to leaving teammates and take a picture for me to combine into a virtual card.

          I don’t know like I said, it’s a very fine line to walk to make sure that respect is shown (because they’ve earned it!) and recognition for their work for all of these years vs. creating an uncomfortable situation for them.

          For obvious reasons I don’t think a group activity/event is the right way to go because of the sensitivity of the situation.

          1. Hiding for this post*

            ETA… there will be a severance package of 2 weeks/year of service and other support to help them transition, in addition to the 4 months of notice of layoff.

            So non of this would be a replacement for financial compensation

      2. Observer*

        Things that will help

        1. No “celebration”.

        2. Be straightforward but not soppy. And don’t make it about YOUR feelings.

      3. Dan*

        I have a strong dislike for super long notice periods. My org has a “notice” or “pay in lieu of notice” policy specified in the hand book. These folks were given two weeks to tie up the loose ends. I thought that was reasonable.

        I’ve seen voluntary separations where the notice was given a couple of months ahead of time, and I’ve never seen that work well. It’s not that it’s guaranteed to work poorly, but I’ve just never seen it work *well*. Mostly people are chomping at the bit to move on with things, and that person no longer has skin in the game and subject to overrule in a few weeks, so they’ve got no incentive to make well thought out decisions.

        For those reasons, whenever people ask around here about giving a longer notice, I’m on the record saying, “in the US, give the customary two weeks and nothing more.”

        1. Hiding for this post*

          Again… I don’t think there’s a right answer here. Would I like to serve out a long notice if I were in that position. No not really… but would I appreciate the extra money and additional time to prepare for what is next, absolutely.

      4. Lady Meyneth*

        Couldn’t you talk to them, and tell them what you wrote here, and then follow their lead on what to do?

    5. GothicBee*

      Meh, I feel like once you lay someone off permanently or RIF or whatever terminology is used, you can’t then recognize them for their contributions. The time for recognition is before lay-offs (which is not to say that you should have a big celebration right before announcing lay-offs). But once you inform people they no longer have a job, the only “recognition” should be in the form of whatever severance the company gives out.

      1. Dan*

        Awhile back, when we got a new CEO, he wanted to part ways with one of his direct reports, who oversaw a division of several hundred people. The org had a very nice going away reception to recognize that person’s accomplishments, I thought that was appropriate and done well.

        When this most recent RIF occurred, several of us who worked for these managers had an informal gathering on company property to say goodbye.

        “Recognize” may have different connotations, but some sort of concrete acknowledgement of the separation isn’t inappropriate. I happen to find the Houdini impersonations a bit distasteful, but if that’s the best that can be done, then so be it.

      2. CW5 sis*

        On being RIF’d… my fortune 500 company let 1/3 of the salaried staff go at our factory. Lengthy advance notice was necessary to avoid a plant shutdown when we all left. I spent 3 months training my direct reports to do my job. My father was RIF’d same place same day with me. YES we had farewell parties with cake and cards and gifts – organized by our direct reports. NOT HR. This was much much preferable to the first 2 rounds of layoffs I made it through….for those, people were called to HR and escorted out by security. Couldn’t even walk back to their office to get a coat. Afterwards we were forbidden to speak of the “disappeared” to external customers who called asking for them. I feel sorry for the commenter who has to manage an upcoming layoff. My advice would be …long advance notice (I signed the papers to buy my first house 2 days before I was notified)….and turn a blind eye to unofficial collections for gifts and people carrying cakes into the office. If possible reach out to any formal or informal company retirees group as they may want to plan a dinner or something…and subtly support any grass-roots efforts by the rank and file for on-site or off-site recognitions. However as official company representative you are the “bad guy” unfortunately and simply can’t organize a happy retirement celebration for this one. PS. When I reached actual retirement at a subsequent job years later…my official company gift was a software plaque. Yeah, OK. My treasured gift was the mechanics getting together and naming a restroom in the warehouse after me – complete with brass plaque on the door. A blind eye has been turned to this completely non approved building modification and it’s still “my” restroom years later (I check at retiree Christmas parties)

    6. OP2*

      OP #2 here. Thank you to all of you who weighed in.

      Here’s how the CEO acknowledged the reply-alls (and potentially other individual letters) in a follow-up to the entire list: “And to all who have commented and questioned and asked for more info about these departures, (1) it’s nice to see your CompanyName instincts to challenge things remain vibrant! And (2) we’ll talk more about why we are changing CompanyName at the event. There’s a lot that feels unmoored in our world right now, so family gatherings, even if poignant, are important.”

      I didn’t like this response. He said “family”, then praised and took credit for alumni’s speaking up. And yup – they put everyone in CC again.

      RC Rascal – I’m SO sorry for what you went through; my fear is that these folks (Bob, Cersei, Sansa, etc.) may be feeling similarly.

      Hiding for this post – I’m sorry that your organization is going through something nearly identical as what I described (several very long tenure employees being laid off). I like Lady Meyneth’s idea of asking them how they’d like to be celebrated. I would do the same if I hadn’t lost touch. I’d love to hear an update in one of the Friday Open Threads if you’re willing to share.

  13. Admins, can't find good ones*

    OP1, I’ve run two all volunteer nonprofits, and I know exactly what you’re dealing with. At the first, I finally just laid it out that all ideas had to be accompanied by the idea generator’s commitment to implementation. A couple folks stopped coming to meetings, but they had never contributed anything meaningful. Our meetings became more productive and less stressful.

    At my current non profit, this straight talk approach won’t work. The volunteers have more money and expect to have influence. So we have time limited brainstorming sessions, ruthlessly slash the list of ideas right after, and if no one steps up to move forward with one, we abandon them. Being heard is enough for most of the idea people. It amazes me that folks think all a volunteer org needs is better ideas…seems to be a pattern though among humans!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      At every nonprofit I’ve worked at, the reception staff had to deal with callers (often as much as daily) who were sure they had the silver bullet idea that would lead to a major breakthrough that no one else had ever thought of before. We always had form letters for the ones that emailed, but the callers were always problems.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      This is very true in political organising in my experience. People get fired up and have lots of ideas and good intentions, but they don’t always have the skills or ability to do the necessary work. I ran into a number of people who were very upset that the organisation wasn’t doing this or that great idea but they had no clue how to do it or the constraints on it either.

    3. RecoveringSWO*

      Great ideas! In the military, we call this problem the “Good Idea Fairy.” The Good Idea Fairy shows up out of nowhere and plops an idea down on people who have been working on something specific for a long time, and then flies away never to contribute to that idea ever again. If you need something cheeky to name your brainstorming sessions, I’d recommend that :)

    4. SomebodyElse*

      This is where a template project plan would come in handy. All ideas need to come in that format and outline the resources needed (including # of people and estimated hours), who would be leading the project, and anything else that the board or steering committee would need to start the discussion.

      I’ve found at work this type of really low bar to submit ideas seems to be enough to discourage the “Idea Fairies” that @RecoveringSWO mentioned

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        Yes! The antidote to the Idea Fairy dust is a formalised process. I’m part of the project management office for my company and we have several steps before an idea is approved.

        1. The original project submission form, which some high level questions: what problem is being solved, who is affected, what is the cost to not perform the project.
        2. A weekly ‘Tactical’ meeting where mid-level and senior management reviews the requests, culls out ones that do not have the appropriate return on investment, and assigns a team member to put together a Level of Effort. Note that it’s not the submitter who creates the LoE, as they might present a very rosy picture. An unbiased party is helpful to present realistic estimates.
        3. If the project passes out of that meeting, the senior leaders/board will rank the ideas by Level of Effort and payback. Then they’ll be implemented in that order as resources become available. Project that are not yet ready to implement sit in the backlog. Many of them fall off the backlog into ‘deferred’ :)

    5. MassMatt*

      People I know who are writers or editors are often bombarded with “ideas” from people that want to “corraborate”. They have a vague idea for a book and just need someone to uh, write it, and edit it, and publish it, and promote it. “How about we split the revenue!?”

      It’s the rare idea that is so valuable that simply coming up with it means the work is done. Every invention, innovation, new product or service all require loads of work to make them happen.

  14. Viette*

    OP#3 – whether people should be called “doctor” in person and/or on internal paperwork is a question that’s come up before. Some people feel that they worked hard for their doctorate and that they deserve the respect that goes with being titled that way. Some people feel that insisting on a title in person is too much but in writing is okay; or that neither is appropriate that you don’t get to decide how the company or your coworkers title you, either verbal or written.

    I think that “Lord” as a title takes away most of that debate. Fundamentally — at least in this day and age — you did not do any hard work to get the title of “Lord”. Whether OP3 bought land or just had someone related to them die*, they didn’t did any work about it. I don’t think there’s a leg to stand on in regards respect on this one. You want your company to pay you the respect owed to you for [checks notes] perpetuating a classist, outdated system of nobility? Sorry, man, no dice.

    *I guess if you orchestrated that related-person’s murder, you did do some work. But you still don’t go around talking it up!

    1. Well...*

      I will die on this hill like I did last time this came up: while there is a lot of classist coding around this, most people in academia would prefer to be known for the research they did to accomplish their PhD rather than the title itself. The degree has become inflated over time, plus the competitive academic job market means getting a PhD is a bare minimum and not generally good enough to ensure future employment in your field. Bragging about the title itself implies you weren’t particularly successful in your program.

      So when people say they put the work in and deserve credit, I say sure, but remember what you’re bragging about.

      1. A woman’s place is in The House*

        As a woman of color, I respectfully disagree. When my (white) male colleagues are introduced by first name, people assume they have doctorates. When my female colleagues and I are introduced by first name, unless the other person has heard of us, we’re usually assumed to be in a different role that does not require a doctorate. I definitely mention my title when I introduce myself to members of the public a lot more than my male colleagues do in their self-introductions. The fact that I want to appropriately clarify my role and title does not mean I’m “bragging” or that I was unsuccessful in my program.

        1. Well...*

          Absolutely, in this case you are not bragging but clarifying your position, so what I said above doesn’t apply.

          I’m also a minority in my field (though to be clear, less underrepresented than you would be in my field), and the peculiarities of my field means that sexism at least presents differently. Calling anyone doctor has been re-coded as crass (sort of like new money stereotypes) so I haven’t run into this problem. This advice does spread through diversity & equity communities, but IMO for women in my field this is bad advice. It makes us look out of touch with the norms of the field. The only place I’ve seen it be effective is in outreach or other public-facing functions, as you mentioned.

          1. Three Flowers*

            Uh, no. Maybe in *your* field asking for acknowledgment of your degree is not the usual thing…but that’s not universally true *at all*. We all know a PhD is the minimum for academic jobs lately, but saying it’s not appropriate to ask that your 5-10 years of qualifications be acknowledged if you haven’t managed to get a tenure-track job would be laughably snobbish if it weren’t enraging. Not worthy of having your basic qualifications acknowledged unless you’re hot shit, well-known in your field, able to get grants, and widely published? JFC. Rationales like this are why academia remains so white, male, middle/upper class, and toxic.

            1. Well...*

              Whoa I think this has gotten off track. To be clear, if people are implying you don’t have a PhD, then go ahead and clarify! And if you really want people to refer to you as doctor, knock yourself out. It’s not globally amoral.

              But reality check: I do think it comes off as a weird flex in a lot of situations. Of course my experience is t globally, and yes, there is a lot of classism around this, it’s bad and we should work to undo it (though I’m not sure ensuring follow through on honorifics are where I’d put my energy in the quest for equity). This puts underrepresented folks in a position of being stuck between a rock and a hard place (looking pretty by trotting out degrees or being railroaded) by design, but that hard place exists. We can’t just pretend it’s not there and say insisting on being called Doctor Lastname as a postdoc isn’t going to come off a little strange.

              I hope I’m allowed to point that out without damning academia to the patriarchy.

        2. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I have 3 colleagues with PhDs in my company, all from a BAME background. They don’t use their titles on a day to day basis but at conferences or professional documents they will mention it. It’s also in the email signatures. I think given that my one colleague has been twice mistaken for a cleaner at a conference we’ve attended together, I can understand why she goes by Dr Patel rather than Ms Patel.

        3. Paulina*

          Yes, it’s a lot easier for me to go “oh call me Paulina” when someone has referred to me as Dr. Robson, than if I’m being called Paulina (or worse yet Mrs. Robson) in contexts when my male colleagues are assumed to have PhDs and the women often are not. In my very male-dominated field, I’ve run into a lot of people who assume I am staff, not faculty, and it’s considerably easier to claim that you’re not worried about how you’re perceived or given authority when you’re naturally getting it anyway.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I agree. There are circumstances where it’s beneficial to call myself Dr, but most of the time my PhD is utterly irrelevant. I mostly use it when someone is being a jerk and acting like I’m unqualified or just a dumb woman.

      3. The Other Victoria*

        In these debates, I’m always curious what constitutes insisting to be called by the title.

        Personally, I go by first name. But, if it’s a conversation where people are bringing in titles, I prefer to be known as Dr. Victoria rather than Ms. Victoria, or Mrs. Victoria or (heaven forbid) Mrs. Victoria’s husband. Is that also considered crass?

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          My understanding is circumstances like everyone in the office goes by their first name, but you insist on only being called Dr Lastname. If it’s more mixed, with some people going by Dr Whatever and it was used to convey that they are qualified in the field then I’d go by Dr, too.

      4. Smithy*

        I just want to add that by dying on this hill – the work of pushing for being called doctor is largely left to women and minorities who are assumed to not have the credentials.

        Both of my (white) parents have PhDs. Dad has gone by just his first name forever and is always assumed to be a PhD in professional settings. My mom has had to fight for recognition in 101 ways to have her research perceived as PhD work, because for what she does and where she does it – no one expects her to have a PhD. My dad was chill and one of the guys, my mom was pushy, demanding, and not a team player.

        My mom certainly would have rather just been acknowledged for her research. But the only way that ever happened was when she was also screaming “I am a Doctor”.

        1. The Other Victoria*

          Yeah, every time the subject of “it’s so gauche to insist on being called Dr.” comes up here, I have to think “it’s gauche among people who go through life knowing that whether they get called by the title, they’ll get the respect regardless.” Since getting my PhD, it has felt like relatives have doubled down on the name thing. It’s not even that I want to be called by the title, calling me by the given name is fine, calling me Mrs. (which would not be my title even with out the doctorate) is a passive aggressive dig.

  15. Daffy Duck*

    The “all bosses, no workers” is pretty standard for many volunteer organizations/clubs. Plenty of people are willing to sit down for an hour or two and toss out ideas or decide what others should do, fewer willing to put in the effort to actually get something done. I definitely like the idea of putting anyone with an idea in charge of implementing it, they can raise the funds for the project too. Don’t like the decorations for the party? Awesome, you are in charge of them next year. It definitely cuts down both griping and pie-in-the-sky suggestions.

    1. Cary*

      At least in the UK Lord can be a honorary title bestode by the monarch in recognition of service to the country, or for a history of achievement. Like Sir David Attenborough.

      1. PollyQ*

        Aren’t those almost always just “Sir” or “Dame”, though? I thought “Lord” was restricted to actual nobility (Duke, Earl, Baron, etc.), and those titles are mostly not being awarded anymore, with the exception of former Prime Ministers, who generally receive a “life peerage” after they retire. They’re allowed to use “Lord” or “Lady” for the rest of their lives, but the title isn’t inheritable.

        1. Jules the First*

          A “Sir” or a “Dame” is technically a knighthood, not a peerage (which is the bit that entitles you to go by Lord). When the Queen grants a peerage these days, it’s almost always an Honour (which means it isn’t heritable). The inheritable ones are strictly limited and very hard to create from scratch, so when she needs one of those, she turns to a title that is already in existence, just vacant (like the Duchy of Sussex). When someone is created a Lord as an Honour, a (non-heritable) Baronetcy is created; so, for example, Lord Richard Rogers is technically Baron of Riverside, and technically the address would be “Lord Rogers” (though he will mostly insist you call him Richard).

          Ask away if y’all have more questions (I spent a few years early in my career as the designated protocol officer for a company owned by a knight, so had to learn all this stuff…)

          1. Nic*

            That’s a barony, not a baronetcy. Baronets are “Sir Firstname” (it’s basically an inherited knighthood).

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          They are generally Lord Surname, and not heritable.

          For example: Alan Sugar, later Sir Alan Sugar, now Baron Sugar of Clapton (addressed as Lord Sugar).

          In my experience, people who have always had a thing (privilege, titles, money) are far more casual about those things than those who have earned them by hard work and despite the odds.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I’ve known a couple of hereditaries through work and none of them insisted on using the title. It was just a thing they had. In my last company the chief exec had a knighthood and we all still called him by a nickname for his middle name (because he didn’t like his first name). So he was Sir John Arthur Smith and we called him Art.

            The only person I knew who insisted on us using a title was a woman I worked with whose husband just got a knighthood for services to the Government. She made everyone call her Lady Jones and went on about it a lot. We called her plenty of other things behind her back.

        3. SheriffFatman*

          > those titles are mostly not being awarded anymore, with the exception of former Prime Ministers, who generally receive a “life peerage” after they retire

          There’s a lot more life peers than just ex-PMs. Boris Johnson has created 52 already, and he’s only been Prime Minister for just over a year. They tend to be ex-ministers, long-serving party hacks, big donors, independent-minded veteran MPs you want out of the way but can’t afford to completely alienate, outsiders who the PM wants to give ministerial jobs to (you can’t be a minister without a seat in either the Commons or the Lords) and so forth. The latest batch included:

          * Ken Clarke, cabinet minister under Thatcher, Major and Cameron, and formerly Father of the House (longest-serving male MP), who lost the Conservative whip for voting against one of Boris’s Brexit bills

          * Claire Fox, former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, founder of the neoliberal Institute of Ideas, and until recently a Brexit Party MEP

          * Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph (and in that capacity Boris’s old boss)

          * Ian Botham, cricketer.

          Others recently nominated but not yet confirmed include:

          * Evgeny Lebedev, Russian-born owner of the Evening Standard and son of oligarch and former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev

          * Jo Johnson, Boris’s younger brother.

          The political composition of the House of Lords is supposed to be kept roughly in line with that of the House of Commons, so all parties get to make nominations when the ermine’s being handed out.

    2. Zelda*

      “Don’t like the decorations for the party? Awesome, you are in charge of them next year.”

      See also Utah Phillips’s bit “Moose Turd Pie.” Set in a cowboy camp where there is no trained cook; first one to complain about the food is now in charge of cooking. Until someone else complains.

  16. Dr. Lady*

    #3. Oh, honey, no. First, I also have a doctorate and don’t insist people call me Dr. because it would make me look like a pompous ass. I use it when publishing, but absolutely not in a business setting. Also, I am, I guess, technically a Lady due to the somewhat lax restrictions in Scotland that allow you to buy the title with a donation to charity essentially (buy a square foot of land to help restoration, etc.). I go by my first name. Not saying that is the sort of “Lord” you are, just that it’s definitely how you look if you insist on being called that at the office. It’s not a good look. People will call you what they are going to call you based on whatever respect you have earned. For better or worse, and in spite of the fact we are a massively class based society as a world (regardless of where you are and what that country tried to pretend), you will just do yourself a massive disservice by insisting that you be treated differently due to you title. In the workplace you mostly have to prove yourself based on your work, and any demand that you be acknowledged for non workplace contributions will likely just make you less popular and respected, tbh.

    1. Batgirl*

      The insistence is…very uncool. Aside from making OP look out of touch, I agree it raises suspicions about how ‘real’ the title can be if OP insists on acknowledgement of it.

  17. Dan*


    Depends on your country and its culture. In the US, the dual title thing wouldn’t fly, and we’d all laugh like hyenas if you used Lord at all.

    However… I’ve had some medical work done in Germany, and the business cards for people over their would read “Professor Doctor” which I found hilarious (again, in the US, it’s “pick one”). But if that’s the culture, that’s the culture.

    For better or for worse, on this site, you’ll get US-centric advice unless you specify otherwise.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think the Prof Dr thing is more of a thing in parts of Europe than the US because we don’t call university teachers ‘professor’ by courtesy as I understand is common in the US. You could be the most senior academic in your entire department with a library’s worth of groundbreaking publications behind you, but still technically not be a professor.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, “Professor” is an actual titel in Germany which requires you to have written a Habilitation which is, very simplified, a second dissertation (and which you can only acquire if you already have a doctorate), and to actually be chair of your university department, otherwise the title is “PD”. (I can only assume there is an exception for people in medicine and maybe law because there’s such an abundance of “Prof. Dr.” in every hospital I’ve ever been to that I doubt they can all also actively lead and teach at a university department. But I’ve never cared enough to figure that out tbh.)

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I did a year at a German university as a student studying law and there were a lot of Professor Doctors in the department. We had one with 2 doctorates and his title was Professor Doktor Doktor Klein so I think law faculty go in for that sort of thing more. We never understood quite what the rules were but just went with the flow. One time a German friend tried to explain it and we were more confused at the end than the beginning.

          When we saw the young professors in the Mensa for a drink everyone used their first names.

          1. Forrest*

            Traditionally, if you’re married to a doctor in Germany, you are Frau Doktor (or Herr Doktor, but traditionally there weren’t many of those.) Both me and my partner have PhDs so we have wondered whether we’re both entitled to be Frau Doktor Doktor.

            1. Anima*

              I believe we dropped that completely. My grandma insisted on this until the wall fell, then it phased out. My grandpa has had the doctorate.
              I think I never met or know of someone who uses this construct anymore.
              That said, it would not be used in your case – albeit being quite funny. ;)
              Each of you have their own doctorates and that’s fine.

              1. Myrin*

                Yeah, that’s definitely not a thing anymore. I’d guess there are some last vestiges of 90-year-olds who insist on this construct left but it’s really not something you encounter at all, given that it’s seen as gauche to even insist on being addressed by your own title, so this marital-title kind of thing would definitely get you laughed out of the room. (Which is something I witnessed exactly once, actually – the woman wasn’t even that old, mid-fourties maybe, but we always assumed that her weird insistence on the title thing stemmed from a combination of her being from a country with different rules around title-usage and her late husband’s being much, much older – as in, he would be around 100 today – and maybe just telling her that that’s how it’s done.)

                1. UKDancer*

                  Yes. I used to visit my German godparents in a small village in Nordrhein-Westfalen in the 1990s and the retired doctor’s wife used to insist on being called Frau Doktor Ludwig and she was in her seventies at the time. It was outdated even 30 years ago and my Godmother just used to shrug and say “she’s always been like that.”

                  I gather it generated some amusement amongst the other women of the village.

            2. Batgirl*

              How do you avoid calling each other Mrs Doctor Dear, a la Anne Blythe? I wouldn’t be equal to the temptation.

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I’ve never used “Professor” as a general courtesy (I’m in the US and work at a university). It’s a specific job title and involves tenure. There are also big differences between an Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, instructor and adjunct faculty. For the students, they use Dr. or Ms/Mr.

        1. Researcher*

          Yup. In the US, Professors are also Drs (very limited exceptions), but certainly not all Drs are Professors. Professor is their appointment, Dr. refers to their degree-granting education.

    2. Anima*

      Yes, “Prof. Dr.” is quite used here in writing, but if I address my teacher in university by speech, it’s either one. Not both. Sometimes the person announces which title to use when you meet, but it’s never both. How pompous would that be?
      Side note: in my 13 semesters at uni my teachers did not use either at all, it was always “Mr. X” or “Ms. X” (“Herr” oder “Frau” X).
      I also know a few people with a real “von” in their name, which points to a title like “Graf von” (“Duke of”). None of them use this title other than in official letters.
      Soooo…. Common in written conversation but not in spoken. So far for Germany.

    3. Indisch blau*

      My German husband (we live in Germany) uses his Dr. frequently, including in situations that have nothing to do with his field of study. He earned it, it’s part of his name here.
      A colleague of mine – on the other hand – had two sets of business cards, one with his title, one without.

      And some levity: I saw a cartoon once with a couple holding an infant. One of the parents says, “We named him Drafy Philipp so he can abbreviate it Dr. Phil.” (Dr.phil. is the German equivalent of Ph.D. in humanities and can be used before the last name.)

  18. Jessica Fletcher*

    Oh, I’m sure your coworkers are calling you Lord behind your back, but probably not in the way you’d prefer!

    OP3, this is silly. Move on. I would bet they don’t want to use Doctor because it’s not in a relevant field, or because it would be confusing to others. For example, if you have a PhD in English, but work in the medical field, they don’t want clients or customers thinking you’re a medical doctor.

  19. Magneto*

    LW #3 I bet your employers use an honorific to refer to you, just not any of the ones you are thinking of.

    Alison is right. Being so pompous is not a good look. You should leave this alone.

  20. KayEss*

    I hoped the “lord” question was going to be a resurgence of the “King is my actual legal name but my Christian fundamentalist coworker refuses to use it” situation.

    1. scribblingTiresias*

      And here I was thinking it was a resurgence of the “my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend ‘master’…”

      1. AMT*

        That is actually a common thing with online services that claim to make you a lord. Basically, they feed you nonsense about buying a single square foot of land on some estate, take your money, and then make your change your legal first name to something like “Lord Robert” or “Sir Steven.”

      1. Phony Genius*

        I know one whose last name is Lord. It sounds weird when somebody calls him Mr. Lord. If he got a title, would he be Lord Lord?

  21. L*

    My coworkers who have PhDs are called by their first names. They usually have it listed in their email signature, but that’s about it.

    The only time I’ve really run into anything other than just a first name is the Southern older-colleague honorific of Mr. Tywin / Ms. Olenna

  22. ggg*

    If and only if your employer is the actual honest-to-God House of Lords, by all means, insist that they use your proper title. Somehow I think that’s not the case.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Nobility were abandoned after WW1 and became part of the name, so someone can have a last name of “von Bismarck”. It’s not considered a title.
      Academic titles like “Doktor” (Dr. – can be a MD or PhD or any other but must be bestowed by a bona fide university, using a purchased degree is a misdemeanor) can be put in your passport, together with a maiden name, but is not considered a part of your name.

  23. raincoaster*

    “Lord” is a social title, not a business title. So you’re a Baronet? Good for you, but it isn’t going to cut you any slack when your marketing report is overdue. Use the title in your social life, not in your business life, unless you are in a particular business (like posh country house hotels) where it is seen as an advantage by all and won’t get you questions about buying square feet of a car park in Glasgow or something.

    “Doctor” is generally okay to use in Europe and the UK if you’ve got a doctorate. But if the company you work for has used this title for you in the past, and they’ve stopped, perhaps your insistence on a title, ANY title, has turned them off it for now.

    1. Scarlet2*

      It varies wildly between European countries though. As already mentioned, Germans love their honorifics, so do Czechs, etc. and in such countries, it is indeed quite common to add Dr.-Ing. or something similar to your name in most situations. But in France or Belgium for instance, if you introduce yourself as Dr. Whatshisname, everyone will immediately assume you’re a medical doctor, and insisting on being called “doctor” if you’re not an M.D. would cause serious eye-rolls too.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I wonder if they stopped because upon some investigation found both titles to be not really appropriate to list. If the OP did the square foot of land in Scotland thing or was awarded an LHD (hon) neither of those should have been listed in the first place.

  24. Aphrodite*

    I guess OP #3 could call himself His Lordship the Viscount St. Austell-in-the-Moor Biggleswade-Brixham (but you’ll have to fight Zonker Harris for it).

  25. Mnemosyne*

    Someone needs to say this: If you want to be called Lord, there are two options: The House of Lords and the BDSM community. Pursuing the title anywhere else will give you a lot of unwanted names to go with it.

  26. Nicole*

    #4 – Since losing my job during COVID I’ve reached out to/been contacted by a handful of recruiters. I’ve had to follow up multiple times/have them miss scheduled call times. I know it must be super hectic and busy for them but it’s a pattern I’ve noticed (all from different recruiting companies, too). Not sure if it’s just my industry (one that has seen many layoffs during these months) but it’s been stressful.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Honestly it has little to do with the current situation we’re in. The pandemic may make it more common, but “ghosting” candidates is definitely not a new thing. I’ve had companies who have taken the time to bring me in for an interview not have the courtesy to let me know I wasn’t getting the job. I’d even appreciate a crappy form rejection over nothing. But unfortunately it’s become the norm to just stop communicating with people if the company isn’t interested in you. Believe me, if they want you, they’ll call/email you because they don’t want to lose that commission.

  27. The Right Honourable the Lord Whifflemiffle*

    If your passport says “Lord First Name Last Name” either you changed your first name to lord or you’re using the title wrong. (Or you come from a country with a different tradition of nobility than the United Kingdom or Germany.)

    In the UK Lord First Name Last Name is the son of a peer. And not himself a lord. A real lord would be First Name, Lord Last Name or First Name Last Name, Lord Somesuch. Lord possibly being replaced by a title.

    In Germany, a noble title could be added to your last name. “Tyrion HerzogvonLannister” instead of Tyrion Lannister.

    This just sounds pompous. Even if you bought a minor title that sometimes can be bouty

    1. London Calling*

      Amazing how many people in the UK get that wrong, though, including life peers who call themselves Lord Thaddeus Whippersnapper instead of Lord Whippersnapper.

  28. Ganymede*

    It’s Lord Lastname if you are a life peer. Life peers are parliamentary appointments and choose a place to be “of”, eg I would be Lord Smith of Myvillage, but when reporting my political antics the papers would call me Lord Smith, not Lord Myvillage.

    Lord Actualplacename would be the eldest son of an inherited title.

    I believe Lord Actualplacename’s younger brother would be Lord Firstname.

    I’ll probably read on and fins someone has explained all this further down…

    1. Mark Roth*

      The eldest son of an earl or higher can use one of his father’s several titles as an honorary title. He is not technically a lord and it may or may not be a place name. The younger son of a duke would be a Lord firstname lastname, like Winston Churchill’s father Lord Randolph Churchill, a younger son of a Duke of Marlborough. The Duke of Marlborough’s eldest son is by courtesy known as Lord Sunderland. The real Earl of Sunderland is the Duke himself.

  29. Aw*

    #3 if you brought the title of Lord and want insist on it being used it will come across really poorly.

    I can almost see using Dr as a title but pay attention to the office culture.

  30. Grandma Mazur*

    My immediate thought was that OP3 was from the perspective of Dr Who being a Timelord…

  31. Tiger Snake*

    LW#3; Two things;
    One, remember that not calling you ‘lord’ is not an insult against you.
    Because, point 2; all use of titles – be it Mr. or Your Majesty – is dependant on the context on which you’re speaking. They are not universally applicable or used in all circumstances.
    A PhD of philosophy does not get to be called ‘Doctor’ while at the hospital. A M.D. does not get to be called doctor while at the university. A military officer is still just ‘Mr’ when he is at the shopping mall. At a place of work, you are representing the company, not acting under your responsibilities as a nobleman.

    1. Courtney*

      ‘At a place of work, you are representing the company, not acting under your responsibilities as a nobleman.’

      this sums it up very succinctly, I like the way you phrased it.

    2. Moocowcat*

      That’s a great perepective Tiger Snake!
      Context is everything when titles are being used.

  32. Beth*

    I do see reason to insist on using the proper title for a doctorate, at least sometimes. “Dr.” is handily gender- and marital-status-neutral in a way that “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” “Ms.,” etc. are not, which can be very convenient when a person is either worried about discrimination or not comfortable with gendered titles. And many of my female professors have preferred to be called “Professor ____” (even when men in the same department will encourage more casual namings) because they’ve found that their students don’t take them seriously otherwise; I’d be willing to bet that POC professors have a similar experience, and also that this applies outside the classroom in a lot of cases.

    Anyone asking to be called “Lord” outside a formal, ritualized court context, though…how pretentious can you get?

  33. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    I often deal with judges in my work – sometimes, someone will phone up and say “This is His Honour ………”

    He thinks “I’ve told him I’m His Honour, so he will snap to attention and treat me with utmost respect”
    I think ” Ah – another one of those…..”

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        I don’t disagree – it’s more the tone of voice with some (not all by any means) that sets my teeth on edge.

      2. MK*

        Earning it is not the deciding factor, it’s relevance. If you are speaking to, say, a clerk at the Justice Ministry about something relevant to your being a judge, it’s fine to say “I am Jane Smith, judge of X court in Z city, and I need to know in which prison prisoner Y has been sent”. But if you are calling the DMV about your driving license, mentioning your job is at best pompous and at worst inappropriately trying to use your position to get special treatment, which is a big no-no here (to the point that some judge are vague about their actual position, saying they work “at the courthouse” or similar.

        1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

          Yes! My father was a judge and he very much wanted all people at all times to acknowledge that. Because he’s better than the riff raff (eyeroll).

    1. MK*

      This would be hilarious in my country. Judges are not addressed as “honour”, but as Mr.President/Madame President (comes from presiding over the court). If one of them introduced themselves as “I am Madame President Jane Smith” people would think it is a prank, because that is something that is simply not done.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        There is an old joke about someone trying to have a meeting with the president of Harvard University. To adapt it for recent times (say 2014) it’s this – the the secretary responds to the request by saying:

        “President Faust is not available to meet with you. She’s in Washington DC seeing Mr. Obama.”

    2. Anononon*

      At least in my experience in the US, I would just mostly find it super weird to actually get the judge on the phone. I’ve found it’s super uncommon because they’re concerned about accidentally having ex parte communications with only one party and because they’re just busy people who have staff to answer phones.

  34. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3 – let the Lord thing go. Seriously.

    I spent years working for a U.K. charity that dealt with the military, and almost every senior staff member and a lot of external stakeholders held aristocratic titles or in some cases were serving, very senior military officers. Often both! Absolutely none of them wanted us, their colleagues, to address them by their title. And these were people who had been knighted by the Queen or held pretty serious hereditary titles. (None of them expected others to use their military ranks either but the context there is slightly different.) The only thing they ever requested to be called was stuff like Bunty or Biffy or Jonno.

    I think the fact that you’re even asking this question kind of shows that you are not in a situation where you should be using it – I presume this is either an online “””Lordship””” or you’re in some romance novel situation where you’re the long-lost love child of Lord WildOats who got raised in Oklahoma and everyone else in line has just died in an unfortunate group skiing accident. Either way, insisting on using the title at work is not going to make anyone take you or your claim to that title seriously – quite the opposite, and it’s probably also undermining your request to be called Dr.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      it’s probably also undermining your request to be called Dr.

      I agree that this is the crux of it.

  35. Bobina*

    OP1: What kind of ideas or projects are these in terms of time and commitment? Is working on multiple things at the same time a good idea?

    I ask only because to me, the simple solution here is to have either annual strategy sessions where all ideas are welcomed and brainstormed, and/or an ongoing suggestion box, but you are only ever *actually* working or implementing X projects at a time. Once you’ve picked your projects for the year (or quarter or month or whatever), that’s it, no deviating and any future ideas or suggestions are put on the pile to be reviewed once its time to pick up something else.

    Other suggestions about requiring minimum standards for ideas (ie it must be idea + outline of a plan + rough budget) are also great for weeding out the good from the bad.

  36. DiscoCat*

    #3… Why did I think it was an April fool’s joke? Seriously, a bit of humility would be very becoming. The PhD is earned, but the lord title? I mean, some countries sell their nobility titles, so what is LW angling for? If I had a colleague who went on about it I’d lose a great deal of respect for them. But maybe that’s just little old anti-feudalistic me and my leftist views‍♀️

  37. Myrin*

    I’m going to come at #3 from a slightly different angle.

    OP, as far as I can tell, your question is not about having your coworkers address you with either of your titles but about their use in certain documents.

    So my first question is: What kinds of documents are these? Are they for internal use, and if so, are they on the formal side or more casual? Are they government-/contract-/finance-related? Are their recipients other companies in your field? Something else entirely?
    Because where I am, all of these would have different answers. Internal use – meh, everyone else is probably referred to by their full name and they won’t make an exception for you, especially if you’re the only person like that. Government stuff – they’d probably have to use your titles for legal purposes, although I’m not 100% sure on that. Other companies – depends on whether they wanna play your titles up (and as such, depends on how they estimate the other company will react to the display of titles), how they talk about your coworkers, and what exactly the use of any particular document is.

    My second question – and, in my opinion, the infinitely more interesting one – is: What happened?

    Because you say “My employer has already referred to me as Lord LastName in several documents as well as Dr LastName in others, but they are now refusing to use either of them in any documents and on a display board” (emphasis mine). Heck, you even say that you have specifically requested they use the titles and yet they’re refusing.

    So I’m thinking something must’ve happened here, so, what was it?

    Was there a change in leadership or with the person working on these documents? Did you badger them incessantly about the issue and they’re now so annoyed that they want to make a point in not “giving in”? Do they have reason to believe that either of your titles aren’t real and they don’t want to be entangled in possible issues with that? Was there a change in company policy and they’ve done away with title usage altogether?

    I’m going to be honest, the general feeling I got from reading your letter was that you want to force your employer to use your title and absent any kind of legal obligation regarding official documents and whatnot – and even there, it certainly depends on where exactly you are located – I don’t see that happening, especially not on things like display boards which are pretty informal and whose format is usually something someone at the company randomly came up with.

    1. Anon100*

      I’m wondering if the “lord” is a translation, and OP3 is from South America or parts of Asia where they may have inherited a title from a distant relative or something. One of my college friends has a family title from a country in South Asia, but he doesn’t use it at all in the US.

      I understand wanting to add “Dr.” to certain documents, since that would give you a professional/academic cachet that’s deserved (assuming that it’s from an accredited university). Adding “lord” or whatever equivalent title (I’m thinking of the Malay titles, which are probably foreign to the AAM crowd) to your legal documents is one thing, but based on what all the other commenters are saying, you’d be hugely out of touch to insist on being addressed by the title with your coworkers in a North American/Western European/Australian/New Zealand business setting.

    2. fhgwhgads*

      This expresses the sentiment perfectly and much more kindly than a lot of other comments whose general point is roughly the same.

  38. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Dr Lord is a very funny letter to read if you’ve just watched Enola Holmes. Just putting it out there.

    I wonder if there’s some difficulty in LW’s system accepting multiple titles. In CRMs I’ve used before, the drop-down would let you choose Dr *or* Lord but couldn’t manage both. In most professional fields the Dr would be more relevant than the Lord (unless you’re so super senior you’ve been honoured for services to animal care) so it would be entirely appropriate for HR or whoever to make a decision on that basis.

    Noble names are complicated – check out the royal babies’ birth certificates for a giggle – but you don’t need to have every single detail in your system, only the parts you deal with. So yes maybe your intern genuinely is Baron Warbleworth of Crinkleton, but he’s also known as Clive Evans and that’s what goes on his name badge.

    I can see that in some fields clients would be interested in doing business with someone with a hereditary title but that’s a matter of marketing, not systems.

    1. londonedit*

      One of my favourite things to do is to order presents for people from Fortnum & Mason just to make use of their drop-down menu. I ordered a hamper for my sister and brother-in-law as a housewarming present and went for ‘The Venerable’ as their title.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        From memory, their dropdown accommodates compound titles like “Admiral Sir” John Smith.

        Sending presents is absolutely the time to take advantage of such systems.

        1. CountryLass*

          I’m too much of a peasant to afford Fortnum, I am however going to find out if there are other websites that do this… My parents met at a medieval banquet themed event, and were selected to be the Baron and Baroness, so I’d love to send them something through titled that!

          1. londonedit*

            Not to derail too much but it’s not all massively expensive – they do little gift boxes with tea/biscuits/chocolates etc for about £25. Looks like you’ve gone to a load of effort and expense but it’s not horrendously pricey (of course there are also eye-wateringly expensive options but I don’t ordinarily go for those!)

      2. I never remember my username*

        Just read londonedit’s comment while I was drinking tea.
        That was not wise since I cracked up & the tea promptly went up my nose. :)
        I so want to try that system now.

  39. Caroline Bowman*

    The titled people I have known along the way (peers I mean, aristocracy etcetera), particularly those in a professional capacity would never dream of using their titles, even in the UK, even when it’s perfectly okay to do so. I’m sure that they make use of their titles when it’s strictly useful / important to do so, but in a working environment, never. Not ever. The ones I knew (at different times) almost uniformly were first name basis.

    It’s very gauche to demand a title be used in the normal course of work between you and your colleagues. If you’re giving a public presentation or there is a really good reason to, then sure, ”Dr” can add a bit of weight, but otherwise, nope.

  40. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Re: #3, I get being miffed by being referred to as Mr/Ms if your formal title is Dr, but Lord? Nope…

    1. jolene*

      Yes, and this makes the point perfectly; if you’re not calling your staff “Mr” or “Ms” on the documents and work boards he’s talking about, why on earth would you put “Lord” in there? I almost want them to agree, just to make the point to everyone what a tit he’s being.

  41. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP3 My guess is that you bought some kind of Lord of the Manor type deal, given your reference to legal paperwork. Sweetie, you were robbed.

    And if you fell for that, did you also get one of those doctorates that bought rather than earned?

    If I’m right on either count, pushing this is only going to lose you more respect. Sorry.

  42. Craig*

    With #3, I’m wondering whether the OP has actually bought this “title” from one of a number of shady internet business that claim to be able to sell you a square foot of land, which they say carries with it the right to call yourself a lord. Needless to say, this is a scam, and all you’re buying is a legally-worthless piece of paper, but some people seem to take it seriously.

    Of course, some people do have titles of nobility, but not very many. If I met someone who claimed to have one (and I wasn’t at the House of Lords or something like that), I would tend to assume they had paid for a scam title. To be honest, OP, it isn’t the credibility-booster you think it is.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Most titles only tell us which crotch you burst forth from, or which crotch you currently tend to. If you’ve earned one for another reason, then your reputation will precede you.

  43. Liane*

    Today would be a good day for Alison to invite Miss Manners to collaborate with her on a column or live chat as she’s done a few times with other columnists. To help Alison address Doctor I. M. Portant, Lord Pompous’ plight, of course. It would also be helpful for our OP4. Today Miss Manners discussed how and why recruiters and hiring managers should notify unsuccessful applicants. While their take IMO was in line with AAM, Alison could certainly expand on it and Miss Manners would probably enjoy explaining how badly behaved OP4′ s Ghost Recruiter was, how they could make amends, and how (un)successful said amends were likely to be.

  44. can'tremembermyusername*

    Number 3. If this is UK, which it must be if OP is writing in their native language and “Lord” is not a rough translation (which is entirely possible).

    If they have an actual noble title they are Lord PLACE, e.g the Earl of Wessex would be Lord Wessex not Lord LASTNAME (or would be if the current Earl of Wessex wasn’t Prince Edward the Queen’s youngest son) if he wasn’t a prince though he would be Lord Wessex or Edward Windsor, Earl of Wessex NEVER Lord Edward Windsor.

    So if John Smith is an Earl of somewhere he would be Lord PLACE or John Smith, Earl of PLACE. If he has three sons Tom, Richard and Harry. Tom as the eldest would probably be Viscount something (eldest sons usually get a courtesy title a rank below their father’s so the heirs of Earls and Marquesses are usually Viscounts, heirs of Dukes are often Earls or Marquesses but could also be viscounts) and the younger sons would Lord Richard Smith and Lord Harry Smith or they could be called Lord Richard and Lord Harry but never Lord Smith. If OP had a title or was the son of a person with a title they’d know this.

    If OP is legitimate Lord they either inherited a noble title, are the son of the holder of a noble title or were created a life peer by the government.

    It is possible they are a life peer (they do get called LORD LASTNAME) but I would have thought they would have mentioned that in the post “I was recently given a life peerage for REASON” or something the use of the “legally” feels like “technically” and makes me wonder if they bought a small amount of land and are now saying “technically I’m a lord”.

    But even if the title is legitimate and OP really is an Earl or the younger son of a Duke of something he is still coming across as pompous and out of touch. Even in the UK most people don’t care and will resent the implication you think they are better than them (if you want them to call you “Lord” what else do you expect? People to doff their caps? It isn’t the 19th century).

    Requesting to be called “Dr” holds more weight as it is an earned title but this will be down to the organization’s culture as in the US. If nearly everyone is a “Dr” they may decide not to bother.

    1. embertine*

      Agreed, I used to work for an Earl (now a Marquess) and he would absolutely not have wanted us to address him as “My lord.” I never quite got up the courage to call him Charles though. ;)

    2. CountryLass*

      I have a client who has an inherited title, and insists on be called Sir (Firstname). A colleague once called him Sir (lastname) and was told she was obviously uneducated… That being said, he is quite a charming old chap, and I get on quite well with him so we have never had any issues, and I seem to be able to get away with being a bit more informal in my emails than some of my colleagues..

      But yeah, it’s weird.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        This is actually the only title-related hangup I’ve seen from people like this – the vast majority seem to prefer to just be called Hugh or whatever, but if you try to use their title/form of address *and get it wrong*, or use it in some inappropriate context, I have seen some quite serious side-eye.

      2. can'tremembermyusername*

        It’s different with clients.

        Assuming no one has a title, I call all external people Mr or Ms LASTNAME. The vast majority of them say “call me John” or “call me Jane” on the first meeting. If they don’t though I use the more formal version. Defaulting to formal usually avoids offending anyone and most people quickly go less formal.

    3. London Calling*

      *So if John Smith is an Earl of somewhere he would be Lord PLACE or John Smith, Earl of PLACE. If he has three sons Tom, Richard and Harry. Tom as the eldest would probably be Viscount something (eldest sons usually get a courtesy title a rank below their father’s so the heirs of Earls and Marquesses are usually Viscounts, heirs of Dukes are often Earls or Marquesses but could also be viscounts) and the younger sons would Lord Richard Smith and Lord Harry Smith or they could be called Lord Richard and Lord Harry but never Lord Smith. If OP had a title or was the son of a person with a title they’d know this.*

      Younger sons of earls don’t have titles. They’d be the Honourable Richard Smith and the Honourable Harry Smith and the Honourable Tom Smith.

      1. can'tremembermyusername*

        Looks like you’re right. Because the daughters of Earls are Lady FIRSTAME just like the daughters of Dukes and Marquesses I assumed it was the same for male younger sons too.

        My main point still stands though except he’d have to be the younger son of a Duke or Marquess for my point to apply.

    4. Three Flowers*

      This situation is so wild that in addition to the pomposity of asking to be called “Lord” in any workplace outside of the House of Lords, I feel like we have to clarify that only people with *earned* doctorates should go by “Doctor”. I can envision situations in which a member of the nobility might receive an honorary doctorate for some reason relating to social prominence, in which case their employer should *not* be calling them “Doctor” whether they use the title for people with non-medical doctorates or not…because OP is not one.

      The chance of this is vanishingly small, but so is someone writing to Alison about wanting to be referred to as a member of the nobility at work.

      1. can'tremembermyusername*

        Part of me wonders, as I think someone said in a different comment thread. If this is a “bought” Lordship and the Doctorate is real, if OP is making people believe his doctorate is possibly a “I’m legally entitled to be called a Doctor” type honarary doctorate given his instance at being called “Lord”.

        Mind you according to google there are 31 Dukes and 34 Marquesses in Britain (though that counts the royal Dukes like Prince William and Prince Harry and Irish titles which people somehow still hold despite most of Ireland not being part of the UK anymore). So the chances are more people than expected are second sons. Ignoring Earls because it turns out I screwed up there and the second son of an Early is “The honorable” and not “Lord FIRSTNAME”. At least a couple of these Dukes/Marquesses are broke so its possible OP is the second son of one of the broke Dukes/Marquesses and is trying to cling onto an outdated system by insisting people call him “Lord” when really he is just looking ridicolous.

  45. Melissa*

    OP3 – I am in the UK and on the off-chance that you are as well, continuing to push for this will mark you as an insufferable boor who considers themselves superior to their colleagues. You would be the subject of unflattering water-cooler gossip and alienate yourself from your co-workers. Please desist.

  46. 653-CXK*

    OP#2: I agree with Allison – that email “celebrating” a layoff (including a loss of income and loss of benefits) is at best tone-deaf and at worst pretty gross.

    The best thing to do – make a simple announcement and leave it at that. “Due to our financial circumstances, we are making some staff changes this morning, which unfortunately involved the elimination of some positions. This was not an easy decision to make, but we wish those affected the best of luck in their future endeavors.” Then a followup email to shut down the rumor mill: “Due to our staff changes this morning, George and Jane’s teams will now report to Judy and Elroy; Mr. Spacely’s administrative assistant, Uniblab, will report to Rosie’s team.”

    1. 653-CXK*

      Gah…forgot to edit out “financial,” which would really get the rumor mill humming…

      “Due to our current circumstances, we made some staff changes this morning, which unfortunately involved the elimination of some positions. This was not an easy decision to make, but we wish those affected the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

  47. Roeslein*

    OP3 – I come from a country that has actual, honest-to-God titles that are on people’s passports and ID cards. I also went to a posh school (and later business school) with a lot of titled people/families. The general approach there was “if I need to tell you what my title is, you’re probably not worth the effort” – which is an awfully snobbish mindset, but basically reflects the fact that everyone who is part of the “right crowd” already knows what your title is, so you don’t need to tell them – and those who don’t know are just plebs anyway. (Needless to say, I was the pleb.)

  48. RecentAAMfan*

    I haven’t reviewed all the comments, but I’m wondering if I’m the only one who read the headline and thought it was another “I want people to refer to my boyfriend as Master” post.

  49. Michael Birtwistle*

    It’s Dr. Evil, I didn’t spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called “mister,” thank you very much.

  50. CountryLass*

    #3, I’m guessing you are from the UK, as am I, and I have to admit, I would find you constantly wanting to be referred to a ‘lord’ a bit weird, and I have a client who insists on being addressed by his title of Sir, and his wife as Lady. On internal issues, such as payslips etc, then sure, Lord is fine, but are you meaning meeting invites and email signatures with Lord on it? “Lord Will Smith will be taking the lead at the Annual Greengrocers AGM” would come across as a bit strange. I see honorifics like Lord/Sir/Doctor etc as another form of Mr/Mrs and use them in that situation.

    You need to see the lay of the land with the company though. If they are pushing back, ask why.

  51. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Small ps for OP3: depending on your work culture, titles and honorific can be discouraged or even banned to improve team communication. Crew Resourcd Management (CRM) for commercial aviation and Agile methodologies are two examples I can think of.

  52. Lobsterp0t*

    Lord isn’t a qualification. Dr. at least denotes something that’s likely to be actually relevant to work.

    The idea that in 2020 we need to be extra focused on deferential honorifics that are achieved through connections, influence or heredity (in the UK, I presume) is.. well, it’s a view. But unless you’re sitting in Parliament, I’m struggling to see how this is relevant to effective work being done.

  53. AnonProfit*

    #1 Our Incessant Idea People (who are staff) are nurtured by my nonprofit, and always expect someone else to do the actual work, which is usually someone lower in the hierarchy of this stated flat organization and who has an overloaded plate already. The Idea Person somehow isn’t expected to do the work as they constantly say of themselves that they are soooo busy, yet manages to provide constant edits of the work going on, from vague “I don’t like that image, find something else “ to insisting on co-editing rights, yet emailing the poor sod all the edits to put in themselves, to changing the direction and scope of their own idea multiple times. Deadlines? Ha!

    Meanwhile, our partners and volunteers come with ideas that have outlines and goals, all ready to get going, only to be derailed by an Idea Person’s endless thoughts, meetings, and edits.

    I have tried to institute any number of suggestions laid out here and elsewhere, thoughtfully and still providing a sacred space for All The Ideas, but this culture is so ingrained that people lapse. Leadership is ineffective and likes to sit around in meetings themselves. Idea People are seen as assets, but it somehow isn’t noticed that they are rarely the ones executing anything. Of course, they always refer to the person who went through hell to execute it as “helping” when it’s time for the accolades.

    So I sequester where I can, help out the poor sods when I can, even just emotionally, and try to get my stuff done because nobody else is going to, that’s for sure. And there is some twisted glee in pushing back on an Idea Person. When you put their idea back on them to solve—or fix, after round 3 of their own mangling—it’s amazing how suddenly it’s not a priority.

    Let them fall to pieces. I have found that their ideas rarely impact or influence the work positively, so the stream of consciousness can flow out with the waste water, in my jaded opinion.

  54. Ali G*

    If you’ve never read the letter “why won’t anyone hire me to be their visionary” I highly recommend. You will not be disappointed.

  55. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – your company wins the prize for most tone deaf. This is insane and if I were one of the laid off employees I would be pissed. The responses received were 100% deserved.

    #5 – I don’t know that it would make sense to negotiate any WFH time before you get the job, since everyone is WFH right now and there’s no end date in sight. But once you’re at the stage of negotiating salary, I think it’s fine to bring it up as a “would you consider” option, especially since you said it’s a nice to have and not a deal breaker for you. But you would know up front if it’s possible, or if they’re a company that would never allow their employees to WFH part time.

    1. LW5*

      Thanks for your input! If we get to the offer stage (hoping to hear back about the next interview today!) I’m thinking about bringing it up in a general conversation about their plans regarding transitioning back to the office, because that’s also very important to me and I think it makes sense.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        No problem and good luck! I’ve had very long commutes and negotiated flexible start/end times to not get stuck in the worst traffic, and that’s generally when I bring it up.

  56. Tuckerman*

    #4 I connect with new grad RN residency program managers/recruiters regularly for work. If you’re still interested, I’d recommend going on the hospital’s website, finding their page on new grad residencies (typically careers -> nursing careers -> new grad opportunities). If they list a contact person or general email that wasn’t for the recruiter who contacted you, you might email and let them know you were invited for a meeting with the recruiter but no follow up info or replies to your response.

    The program managers I know would be horrified to hear a student was ghosted by a recruiter. And if they’re using an external recruiter, that would be good info for them to have. These residency programs are growing quickly from what I’ve seen, they want to cast a wide net and connect with as many interested students as possible.

    You’re almost to the finish line! Congrats!

  57. Dr. Rebecca*

    This is probably retreading old ground by this point in commenting, but…

    …I have a non-medical doctorate (we were the first doctors) and I use it as both personal and professional title. That said, I don’t use it among my peers or my superiors, and if someone who was my peer wanted me to use their formal title, I would laugh in their face.

    When you’re at work, are you acting in the capacity of senior scholar? Are you acting in the capacity of a lord? No? Then drop it. I let my undergraduate *students* call me Rebecca; the only time I insist on Dr. is if they insist on using a title–I’m not Mrs. or Ms. or Miss, I’m Dr. Other than that, Rebecca is fine.

    1. Blackcat*

      Yeah, I’ve only insisted on the Dr. title socially with my extended family who has done things like sent wedding invitations to Dr. & Mrs. HusbandFirst HusbandLast
      Which is…. very not correct.
      I always return it with Drs. Black Cat and HusbandFirst HusbandLast written in LARGE print.
      If they’re going to acknowledge his doctorate socially, the better acknowledge mine. And also acknowledge my real name. Mr & Mrs Husbands Name is slightly less irksome, because while it erases my name, it doesn’t explicitly snub the title.

      So… I only use it socially if people are calling other PhDs doctor socially. I actually find it more aggravating when my family calls me Mrs than when my students do. With students, they often just don’t know better, and, with one exception, I’ve only ever had to correct students once. But I’ve been correcting my family for years now. And it bothers me even more because this is *my* family. And *my father’s* family at that. They know my last name!! It is/was theirs! I could see a relative of my husbands not knowing my last name/that I have a PhD.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My cousin is a research lead, married to a medical doctor. She has gleefully pointed out that when he retires he should no longer use his Dr (MB, known by courtesy as “Dr” in the UK), but she can use hers (PhD) until the day she dies.

  58. Amy*

    I was on non-profit junior board for many years. I’d never thought much about the concept that “ideas are cheap” until then. And then suddenly I was swimming in cheap ideas. What if we had our event at the NY Stock Exchange? What if we had Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi open it? What if got the NYT to cover it?

    Great! Do you want to run with that?
    Oh, I think someone else should have a turn (as in coming up with these amazing ideas is 99% of the work)

    It was about 5 of us worker of bees and 5 “idea people” and eventually all the workers bees got burnt out and left. But it did seem fun to be an “idea person!” Very low-effort certainly.

  59. MissDisplaced*

    #3 Even Indiana Jones’s enemies called him Doctor Jones

    I guess I take a slightly different view here, because to me, working hard to get your Doctorate/PhD. is a big deal. It signifies that one is an expert in their field. If that is why you want your company to display your name as Dr. LastName or FirstName, LastName, Ph.D in a formal presentation (displays, papers, photos, directories, etc.) then I’m honestly with you on it.

    I don’t know the specifics of using a hereditary title, but that would probably seem more out of place at most workplaces nowadays, and personally, I’d rather be known for my expertise and not my family tree. So if you’re going to fight this battle, I’d pick the professional title to fight for, and stick to that one on any formal presentations at work.

    Ultimately, it’s going to depend on the type of company or industry you work for though. As Allison said, if the company has made a decision and ONLY uses Dr. for medical doctors, you’d have to decide if it’s a hill you want to die on. Or just become a medical doctor. LOL! Ha Ha just kidding!

    1. Southern Academic*

      Yes, this! I’m working towards my PhD and definitely want professional/formal communications to include my title after graduation (though unlike the letter we had awhile back, it would be weird if people actually *called* me that, in day-to-day convos; I just want formal stuff to say, Southern Academic, PhD or Dr. Southern Academic.)

      The Lord thing, though . . . nope. In the workplace, hereditary titles unlikely to have anything to do with your skillset are just going to create weird hierarchies with the rest of the group.

      1. Ali G*

        Right. I work with a number of people that have PhD’s directly related to our STEM field. They are also highly regarded, published and SMEs. They use their credentials in the email signatures, and introduce themselves as such and pretty much it. I’ve been in this convo so many times:
        me: Bob this is Dr. Jane Smith
        Bob: Dr, Smith! Your research on llama hoof nutrition changed our feeding and our llamas hooves are amazing now!
        Jane: That’s wonderful to hear Bob. Please call me Jane.
        That’s the extend of “dr” used in our highly credentialed field.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I got the sense OP was only asking for it in formal documents, not everyday conversation as they cited paperwork and some kind of directory.

    2. Amy*

      I think it’s very dependent on if the degree is connected to the field. My mom had a PhD and ran a business unconnected to the PhD. It would have added nothing to the conversation and may have even been a distraction. She did not use it professionally.

      I have a Masters and include it in my signature for work. But I work in the field of my Masters. The value is understood. If I switched industries, I would drop likely drop it unless there was some clear benefit to using it.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        When I was in high school I knew a woman who had a PhD in Literature and was an Athletic trainer. She insisted on being addressed as Dr. Helen. 20 years later this still seems strange to me.
        If she had been a literature professor it would have made sense.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a middle school music teacher who insisted we call him doctor because he had a PhD in music. He wasn’t a good teacher so the “respect my doctorate!” went … poorly. Also, middle schoolers can be vicious, even if all they do is ignore you.

      2. cubone*

        Yes! This is how my workplace does it. We have one staff person who is constantly adding their Dr title into email sigs, Slack profile, any time their name appears anywhere, but their PhD is in a COMPLETELY unrelated field. I really, really do respect the work and pride that accompanies these titles, but there does need to be some parameters related to its relevancy in the workplace.

        1. Anonymous*

          There should be a seminar on the subject for doctoral candidates in their final semester. When to Use Your Title in Social and Business Settings.
          Teach them the appropriate time and place to be called doctor, and make it clear that insisting on the title in other contexts just leaves them looking foolish.

      3. Paulina*

        Yes, it makes sense to use the degree or title if it’s relevant. Since OP3’s workplace has used it (the doctorate) before and now does not, it’s possible that they’ve assessed the title is likely to cause confusion, would be assumed to be relevant or give him higher standing when that’s not the case.

        I have a colleague who has self-published some self-help books, and I side-eye them every time I see them because he has PhD after his name on the cover. It’s indeed a degree he has, but it’s not relevant to the books’ topics (neither on his research topic or how to complete something big like a thesis), so it looks like he’s claiming authority using a technicality.

    3. Dr. Rebecca*

      …yeah, but it’s not like he *asked* his enemies to use it.

      Working hard to get your doctorate/PhD *IS* a big deal. But mostly to yourself, your parents, and people over whom you want to pull rank. It doesn’t belong in an egalitarian office.

      And I say that under the screen name that I changed when I got my PhD…because it’s a screen name, not real life.

    4. Three Flowers*

      Maybe it’s because I’m so put off by the snobbery of OP3 wanting to be called Lord outside the House of Lords, but do we know if their doctorate is actually earned? If it’s honorary (perhaps related to their public stature, if they’re nobility), they shouldn’t use “doctor” even if others in their organization do, and their employer would be quite right to tell them to pipe down and not misrepresent themself.

  60. Cass*


    Lord Farquaad – My dude, cool it with the honorifics, especially this one. It really makes you sound pompous.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      I was doing trivia with some friends not too long ago and totally blanked on the name of the movie. It was a round of movie quotes, and I could see his huge face and tiny body during that line in my mind’s eye…but could not form the words! I was getting frustrated since it was on the tip of my tongue, and it time was running out, but I finally got it! FARQUADD! And my teammate was like, “Oh yeah! Shrek!”

      I think the line was, “The winner of this tournament will have the honor of rescuing the beautiful princess from the fiery pit of that dragon! Should the winner fail to return, the runner-up shall take his place, and so on and so forth…Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.”

  61. M2*

    It irks me when PhDs (I also have a PhD) want to be called Dr. so and so. Technically it should be Name, PhD. A JD is Juris Doctor and you don’t hear lawyers asking to be called Doctor! Same goes for EdD titles. Irks me to my core!

    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      In the UK I would expect someone with a PhD (or a DPhil) to be addressed a Dr rather than Mr/Ms/Mx

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Me too. Even in college our instructors were called Professor (and not Doctor). Though that could be because the university had a world-class medical school and Professor would differentiate those who had a PhD from those who had an MD.

    3. Pepper Potts*

      As a JD, I was always told that using the Dr would make the legal community to be even more insufferable than using “Esq”

      People already hate lawyers, no need to be even more obnoxious about it.

    4. Three Flowers*

      Hmm, I see your point and disagree lightly. Women with PhDs or EdDs often push to be called Dr. so and so in formal settings (and on twitter, land of mansplainers) because it’s so common for women scholars to be referred to without their titles when their male colleagues are. And students seem to be more comfortable sometimes referring to professors as Professor X or Dr. Who. That said, I am a woman with a PhD, and while I have my degree after my name in my email signature because I work in higher ed (non-faculty), I don’t typically use it outside formal settings, and certainly wouldn’t go by Dr. Flowers among colleagues!

  62. theletter*

    OP #4, getting ghosted is frustrating, but recruiters are human and sometimes stuff happens. If you get a response in a few days, you’ll know they missed you by accident.

    If not, the recruiter is either rude/incompetent or suddenly left the job.

    In any case, it’s not something you did wrong, or something to take personally. You’re going to graduate soon, and somewhere out there, there’s a nursing residency spot with your name on it.

  63. IT Heathen*

    #3 – I could understand wanting to be referred to Dr. Soandso. Getting a doctorate is a LOT of work, and recognition of that is important to some people, especially those who might be from marginalized communities. But the title of nobility? Hard pass.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      I agree with you about the Dr. title, but if they’re a Ph. D. and not an MD, it’s American custom that it’s not used outside of an academic setting. It paints them as out of touch with the work culture.

      1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        I don’t think OP is in the US. In Europe, getting a PhD definitely means you’re entitled to be Dr LastName

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          The reason why it’s controversial (and it is a set custom) is because some individuals take a reluctance of people to call them Doctor as a PhD is ignoring the tremendous amount of work they put in to get it. Some then act accordingly.

        2. JustaTech*

          When I worked at a cancer research institution the local custom was to introduce everyone with any doctorate as “doctor” but in general conversation/interaction the only people who were called “doctor” were the ones seeing patients. It seemed to be partly a “in case of a medical emergency I want a physician not a researcher” and partly to (attempt) to promote a more collegiate environment in the labs.

          The real way you could tell them apart was that the clinicians carried pagers.

  64. inoffensive nickname*

    You don’t use the honorific unless it directly applies to the job. For example, I would not put “Inoffensive Nickname, BA, LMT” for a position managing a small teapot remediation department. Have I earned and am I proud of my Bachelor’s Degree and massage therapy license (my side and future retirement gig)? Absolutely, but it’s not required to remediate teapots, so unnecessary and off-base. Also, if you are in the US (which I doubt, because Lord sounds British), but just in case you are, we don’t give a rat’s tushy about “nobility” since about 1776, so you’re probably alienating coworkers.

  65. M*

    #4- I recall a similar experience. I was searching for a job before moving to a new city, and was not getting a ton of bites at that point. A hiring manager emailed me back promptly after I sent in my resume and cover letter for a job, and I was very excited! We set up a time to chat. I waited over an hour, emailed her, and even tried calling her. No answer. Next day, she emailed me and said something had come up, could I chat the next day? I said sure. No call, no email. Next morning, she emailed me again and asked if I could chat then (I couldn’t). Asked for a reschedule, didn’t hear back for A MONTH. Emailed in reply (was feeling kinda desperate, as you can tell), and didn’t hear back for ANOTHER MONTH, when she asked if I was still interested. I said, no thanks, best of luck. Recruiters and hiring managers certainly aren’t all bad, but some of them definitely are rude and self-centered, as if they hold all the power in the situation.

    You did nothing wrong in this situation OP4. If they ghosted you, that’s on them. If it was a mistake, proceed with this knowledge in your back pocket, and let it help you make the best decision for you. Best of luck!

  66. lilsheba*

    For the laid off staff being celebrated….I think it’s a little much myself. But the person who said they were “fired” isn’t accurate, and people always interchange laid off and fired, and they are two completely different things.

  67. Bookworm*

    #2: Yikes. I was not party to this but read at another situation where management brought *cake* to an announcement they were laying off staff. WTF?

    #5: Thanks for asking. I’m not in a similar position (yet) but have been thinking about this since companies vary quite a bit on bringing people back into the office (some have never cared to major companies now having a permanent or semi-permanent WFH set up to my org giving us an update every few months as to our situation).

    1. LW5*

      When you are ready to move on, I hope you find the WFH situation that you’re looking for! I definitely don’t want a 100% remote job (it’s not good for my mental health and it also doesn’t make sense for what I do) but certain parts of my job are SO much easier when I am at home, with my laptop, chilling in bed in PJs.

    2. juliebulie*

      Years ago I worked for a company which laid off several people on my birthday. One of the casualties was the woman who had brought in my cake. :-\

    3. OP2*

      Bringing cake to a layoff? Didn’t that happen to Kevin in The Office (“well, at least I got chocolate”)? If it’s something management in The Office would do, that’s a good indication it’s a bad idea!

      1. juliebulie*

        This was before it happened on The Office.
        Sadly, there is probably nothing in The Office that hasn’t happened in real life.

  68. SD*

    When I read the headline “office won’t call me ‘lord’,” I thought this was going to be a letter like the one where the employee in a dominance/submissive relationship wanted her colleagues to call her partner “Master.”

  69. Observer*

    #3 – If you are in the US, then you actually are not legally “entitled” to have anyone use any titles except in some fairly narrow circumstances. Your employer, in particular, has no obligation to use any title that they don’t use for anyone else. Your employer can certainly insist on listing you as FirstName LastName with no honorifics, as long as they are doing this without regard to things like race, gender or other protected characteristics. (eg if they only use Dr. for men not women, or white and Asian people, but not Black or Latinx people, that would be illegal.)

    If you are in the US, your demands, and the attitude behind them, are likely to harm your career because it just sounds so pretentious and pompous and detracts from your actual abilities and qualifications. I suspect that this is probably true in a lot of other countries as well, but I defer to others who actually live in those countries to speak to that.

  70. BadWolf*

    I think I kind of love the email responses on OP2. I’d be more angry about their email list management. However, I could definitely see that it could also be embarrassing for the retiring persons who don’t want to cause a fuss and are just ready to be out of there (or may be concerned that something negative may affect their compensation package or time left).

  71. Database Developer Dude*

    LW3 – Are you freaking kidding me????

    My high school English teacher as a sophomore insisted on being called Mr. Paola, even though he had a Juris Doctor degree in Law, and was entitled to be called Dr. Paola, as it was an academic setting. Why in the world would someone want to insist on a title of Lord??

    I’d say if he was insisting just on the Doctor title, he MIGHT have half a case. Including the ‘Lord’ stuff in there shows he’s not serious.

    If you’re an MD, great, I’ll call you Doctor all day long, even socially. If you’re a PhD, and we’re in an academic setting, same. If not, though, no. It’s out of touch to insist on that outside of an academic setting.

    The peerage titles mean nothing in countries that don’t have monarchies. The very idea of a monarchy and nobility is that some are supposedly better than others by accident of birth. You can have several seats on that one.

  72. yala*

    I could be wrong, but isn’t “Lord Firstname Lastname” incorrect anyway? Or at least kind of uncommon?

    Either way…lol. Lord Lol.

    1. yala*

      This isn’t one of those things where you bought a square foot of land in Scotland or something, is it?

  73. Solitary Daughter*

    Letter Writer #1: I totally agree with the approach of making somebody submit a proposal. If you can establish a form/process for it, and one part of it is group consensus, that will maybe mellow things out. Another thing, too: “Great idea! Let’s put it in the Great Idea Folder!” You might come back to it. But right now, it’s not something that can be taken on, unless they’ve got more time to commit.

    1. sofar*

      Yes, at my office, we have the Ice Box, a place where all ideas (without a specific proposal or ownership go). It is a spreadsheet with columns for “Idea,” “Proposed by,” “Owner” and “Link to proposal.”

      This helps in meetings. Because, if someone brings up an Idea, whoever is leading the meeting will say, “Great idea! Iceboxing that! And then bring up the spreadsheet, put the idea in the idea column, the person’s name under “proposed by” and then moving along.

      In the meeting notes, a link to the ice box is included, encouraging everyone who has the bandwidth to own one of the ideas and talk to their boss about implementing.

      If the idea is actually good (rare) someone will always grab it out of the ice box and volunteer to own it. Otherwise, there it sits. Forever.

  74. HailRobonia*

    My reaction to the “call me lord” letter can be summarized by Bender from Futurama: “oh wait, you’re serious, let me laugh harder!”

  75. Girasol*

    #2 We had downsizing celebrations too and it made a sort of sense in an awkward way. When the big downsizing was announced, certain older employees qualified for early retirement. They had a financial choice: don’t volunteer and face the risk of layoff with everyone else, or quit the day before the layoff announcement in exchange for a severance offsetting the unemployment that they would not get plus eligibility for company retirement medical insurance. People in their early 50s who felt sure they would be laid off volunteered so that they could get the insurance before starting their job search. Afterward, coworkers – some of whom had just been told that they would be laid off in a few weeks – threw retirement celebrations with gifts, roasts, and rocking chair jokes. The celebrations were well meant but so awkward for those who weren’t old, weren’t retiring, and were in effect downsized with everyone else. But it was part of the company’s way to reinforce the public image that the big downsizing had been much smaller because some people chose to retire.

  76. Nanc*

    I have absolutely nothing useful to offer in terms of advice but I kinda wish I worked with Lord OP#3 just so I could bust out a chorus of “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin.

    Full disclosure: am a mature worker (as in old) and was alive when the song came out. Also watched Dialing for Dollars.

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I’m 34 and this is my go-to karaoke song. I also have a bizarre ability to sing almost any song in the style of Janis. My best is “Stand by Your Man”.

  77. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I love AAM and that we have a Lord rolling around here salty that nobody is recognizing his true nobility. Bless this blog, each and every one of us. What a wide reach, Alison.

    1. Sungold*

      Hilarious! Your reframing this in a positive light makes me a little more accepting of his (salty) lordship as just another thread in the great tapestry of life.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I laugh at people who want to take themselves this seriously.

        We’d call him Lord around here and do an exaggerated bow to him each morning if he wanted to play. He’s truly lucky they just refuse to use his honorific.

  78. Dr.OO7*

    “Lord” letter. . .
    Congratulations, you’ve won this week’s “This Letter Must Be Fake Because No One Could Possibly Be This Stupid/Crazy/Ridiculous” award!

    1. scribblingTiresias*

      Alison asks us not to accuse letter writers of being fake, no matter how silly they may seem.

      We’ve seen people acting more ridiculous before, unfortunately.

  79. newgradnurse*

    LW4: I literally JUST went through this recruitment process for nursing as I graduated in May. What I will say is that it is absolutely the norm for this, especially if this residency is in a big city or popular locale. They receive thousands of applicants for maybe 30 slots and that was when hiring was good pre-pandemic. Out of well over 100 residencies I applied for I only received responses (and I mean basic form responses) from about three. My experience is that because they know new nurses are desperate and there is no shortage of good candidates, they drop the ball on anyone who isn’t on their interview list. Wishing you so much luck, the residency scene is ROUGH right now.

  80. cheeky*

    Can you even imagine calling an employee Lord? Like, do you expect your boss to call you Lord? I’m sorry, this is hilarious to me.

  81. Ann O'Nemity*

    #3 Is there any legitimate business reason to use either title? Will it open doors, make you more eligible for external funding opportunities, improve customer trust or relationships, help you do your job better, etc? If not, and especially if you’re only asking for status-related reasons, I’d drop the issue.

    1. London Calling*

      I did hear that a title is good for getting a table at expensive restaurants that claim to be sold out and airline upgrades, but not for much else. Although I did a brief stint at a rather prestigious shop in London and a couple of times we had to raid the petty cash to pay for Lord So and So’s taxi fare. So getting other people to pick up your bill, as well.

    2. UKDancer*

      Our family friend who has one says it’s helpful when he’s complaining to the local council about the potholes in his road because he gets a very fulsome response. Other than that I don’t think it gives him massive advantages and he gets a lot of begging letters from people who think he must have a lot of money.

  82. BigRedGum*

    #3 I’m trying not to double over laughing, because i’m just going to assume that you are serious. I work with doctors all day and they mostly insist that i call them by their first name. unless you’re the actual queen of england or her husband, most people in the USA would just go by 1st name. Lord StuckUp is just really off putting.

  83. e271828*

    No matter how legitimately OP3 may hold the titles “Lord” and “Doctor” or any other, if the titles are irrelevant in the workplace (or any other context) it is very poor manners to try to insist on them.

    Since Lord Nemo here labors for his bread, his titles carry a nugatory weight in every setting until he has endued them with significance through his own efforts. Let his lordship keep in mind that it is a privileged duty to give meaning to the title one has the honor of bearing for one’s line, not the reverse.

  84. employment lawyah*

    There is no right to be called doctor or lord. That is not a “legal title,” any more than one is required to use the terms Sir or Lady. I am not at all surprised by the fact that a workplace would refuse to do so. Absent class discrimination I would drop it.

    (Not incidentally, in many places “doctor” is really only used for M.D.s)

    1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

      We are meant to take the letters seriously even if we think them ridiculous. We do not hazard guesses as to their falsehoods.

  85. Troutwaxer*

    As to the Lord thing, do you manage a large estate? Have you a commission? Are you trained in weapons and combat? Have you successfully led people through a life-or-death situation? Do you regularly walk, ride or otherwise tour the boundaries of your lands to make sure everyone and everything is well? How large are your charitable contributions? Have you served your crown in some important way, either in the military or as part of the kind of civil service, or have you done long-term service (by which I mean decades) with some charity? Are you a citizen of the land in which you claim Lordship? Are you descended from someone who actually has done some large subset of these things? Have you been carefully trained in leadership and personal honor either by education or difficult circumstance? If not, I am uninterested in your title and will continue to call you “Steve,” …even if that’s not your first name.

  86. Oaktree*

    I assume His Lordship is from the UK, but I can assure him that in Canada, too, he would be viewed as a bit of a joke if he continued to insist on being addressed by his subjects colleagues as Lord So-And-So.

    Good luck to you, sir!

  87. Lovecraft Beauty*

    Re #3: Look, if behavioral ecologist Dr Auguste von Bayern does not in her professional life go by Princess Auguste Marie Philippa, you can suck it up.

  88. JustaTech*

    I’ve got two more specific bits to add to Alison’s: First, literally read the room. Does anyone else have an academic or hereditary title in their bio? Did management recently re-do everyone’s internal info? You could also try asking *why* they have stopped using your doctorate. It might be that there is new software that doesn’t support it, or management has decided to take the company culture in a less formal direction.

    The second is to metaphorically read the room. Does anyone else use their academic title? Are academic titles only used when interacting with people outside your organization? Do you need to use your academic title to avoid being mistaken for the cleaning staff or an intern?

    As an American I can’t speak to the whole “Lord” thing, because it’s just not a thing here (and people will judge you negatively for it). In that case as well, you need to read the room.

  89. SadieMae*

    I would really love it if this guy turned out to be the partner of the lady in the dom/sub relationship who was asking everybody in the office to refer to her partner as her “master.” Then she could say things like “My lord and master will pick me up at five…”

  90. Khlovia*

    Here’s an interesting little tidbit from the Constitution:
    article I, Section 9: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

    Therefore, #3, we know for a fact that you are not a citizen of the United States, because you insist that you are legally entitled to be called Lord indeed, you insist it repeatedly(strongly giving the impression of a three-year old stomping his feet having a meltdown in the cereal aisle. I suppose section 9 of article I could be interpreted as applying only to persons employed by federal, state, or local government in some capacity, Lord High Dogcatcher; but it should give you a pretty clear idea of just how much value such titles hold in the U.S. In the U.S, such persons as ever use the word “Lord” at all (in a non-cussing context), generally follow it with “God Almighty” Therefore, since we must logically deduce that either you are a lunatic who thinks you created the Universe or you are not a citizen of the United States, why in the name of L.G.A., did you write for advice to an American? Write to some local columnist who can advise you on the acceptability and relevance of “Herr Doktor” in your particular workplace.
    So much for “Lord” Now, as for “Doctor”. It would be hyperbolic of me to assert that PhDs are a dime a dozen, but, yeah, not as special as you seem to think. Yes, I know you worked hard for it. so did lots and lots of people. And Perhaps it was a required qualification for your position. In that case everyone else at your company and/or in your industry who holds the same or equivalent or a higher position also has a PhD. Look around you. Are all of them also pitching hissy-fits if someone neglects to call them Doctor? If not, why do you think you are special? The last moment that your PhD was relevant at your job was when you sent them your resume. Apparently you long to find yourself stuck in the following scenario: you are dozing on a plane when a flight attendant shakes you awake and says “Someone in coach appears to be having a heart attack or a stroke or something, either get back there and fix them right now, or apologize for being such a snot to me when you boarded and you pitched a hissy because I called you Mister instead of Doctor.”
    You want to know what would be a sensible and appropriate way to celebrate and advertise having acquired your PhD at long last? Get a nice frame for it and hang it up in your office somewhere. And then shut up about it because nobody cares.

    1. Khlovia*

      P.S. Sorry if I was harsh, but I don’t think I was any harsher than some other commenters who made it clear that they were giggling at you pretty hard. You seem to have gotten our rebellious Yankee back fur up, Lord Whatsit. BTW, for all you know, your secretary who has been taking night classes for the last ten years just achieved her PhD in Art History. You had better start calling her Doctor.

  91. agnes*

    #1 OH my god you are singing my song! When I started work at my organization I quickly saw that we had lots of meetings and they were almost all what I call “jaw sessions” brainstorms on a bunch of topics and no follow up or follow through. I naively started asking–OK, so whose job is it to lead this over the finish line? and “Can someone clarify the the purpose of this meeting?”–and you could feel the oxygen go out of the room. However, there were a few of us who started banding together and asking these types of questions at our meetings and I can say that it has gotten much better over time–we spend less time getting excited over a hundred new ideas and more time actually implementing good ones.

  92. anonymous for this*

    So. I am actual “nobility.” Like, I’m Lord/Lady Firstname, Title Area.

    I never tell people or bring it up, because why would I? Only someone really pretentious would. I didn’t do anything special except happen to be the child of some person who happened to be descended from someone who spent ages oppressing serfs. It’s nothing to be especially proud of, and it’s nothing I really had anything to do with. It isn’t even exciting the way it might be to be descended from someone like Louis Riel or Chiune Sugihara–my ancestors did nothing to really be all that proud of. They were just rich.

    IMO, to use your title like that (assuming it’s a real title) comes across as very grasping and very, very classless. I think it would strike that way to most people who are members of a royal or noble family or who had a royal or noble title. I would be embarrassed for someone to use a title for me, or even find out about me having a title. I’ve never used it socially, or especially at work, and I absolutely never would.

  93. Kevin Sours*

    Admittedly if I were entitled by right to be styled Lord I would definitely encourage coworkers to use it. But that’s because my sense of humor is kind warped and I would find it funny (and would definitely expect the taking a ration of crap over it). But expecting it on official paperwork is taking the joke too far.

  94. RagingADHD*

    OP#3, If Prince William, Duke of Cambridge got called “Flight Lieutenant Wales” at work, I think a mere lord will have to suck it up.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, I believe both he and Harry used “Wales” as their surname at school and in their military careers, because it set off fewer alarms than “Windsor-Mountbatten.”

        1. Anonymous*

          Also what Harry signed when visiting DC. “Harry Wales” and nothing more.
          His grandmother is the freaking Queen of England. His father is the Prince of Wales. His father, brother, and nephew will all likely be kings themselves. If he can go by plain old “Harry Wales,” I think OP can manage to stop making a fuss over being a mere lord.

  95. TPS reporter*

    OP #5: I’m interviewing people now for various positions. Depending on the level of the position and what type of work is involved, I would want to know someone’s intentions re permanent work from home. Some of the more senior non-manager positions I would be more willing to hire from the start as work from home. For a junior position though, I do want to have someone in the office a few days a week initially (once the vaccine is here). I think it’s okay to be up front in the interview. I’ve been having the conversation with various candidates.

  96. Joaquin Parcell*

    Omg. Letter #3 makes me want to start a grassroots campaign to get Kentucky Colonels the respect they deserve in the workplace.
    ”Are you Joaquin Parcell?”
    “Excuse me, that’s Col. Parcell to you.”
    Also, i could see this being not unusual in Germany. The workplace is often more formal, and in a country where seemingly every third person has a doctorate in something, people are obsessed with their titles. It makes drop-down menus very fun.
    Prof. Dr. Dr. Parcell

    1. UKDancer*

      I could see Germans using their doctorates in some circumstances, mainly formally on things like business cards and in settings like acadaemia. Informally it’s a lot less common now than it was.

      I couldn’t see Germans using a lord type titles given they phased them out after World War 1 and aren’t creating any more. I would imagine anyone who tried to do so would be looked at rather oddly and it would be very unusual. Anyone with a German title would have it incorporated in their surnames their whole lives. For example Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg would have been Count von Stauffenberg before 1919 but after that the titles “Schenk” and “Graf” are both incorporated into the surname, hence why his is so long.

      In my experience most Germans know from the surname structure whether someone had once upon a time a title in the family so it’s unlikely to be a surprise, it’s just part of the name. If you didn’t have one before 1919 in the family, I can’t think of any way you could have one created in Germany now. If a German bought a foreign title it would be a subject of amusement and disdain I think.

  97. insertusernamehere*

    Only if the job is for a reality television show and you would like to insist everyone call you the Countess.

  98. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

    I really, really wish Lord Doctor Herr Wigglesnooty McPretentous (LW3, obviously) would update us. I really want to know his story. So very, very much.

  99. Six Feet Under Par: A Chip Driver Mystery*

    If you are a doctor and a (time) lord does that make you Doctor Who?

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