Titles Do Matter.

September 22, 2015

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." – William Shakespeare

 

So what is in a name? While it identifies us, it doesn’t define who and what we are. But a title, well that is a bit different. It does help define you. A title is a formal and descriptive designation attached to a person to signify office, rank, profession or hereditary privilege.

 

In a town like DC, one often sees people who once held offical positions of power. How do you address them now that they no longer hold the position for which they are known? You benefit your own personal brand when you know how to properly refer to others and are able to interact with ease.

 

If someone once held a position where there is more than one office holder at a time -- US ambassadors and senators, for example  -- they use their "title" for as long as they live, regardless of circumstance, because they attained that special rank.  

 

If, however, they once held a position for which there can only be one actual office holder at a time, like a governor or the president, they can't use the title after their service is done. Instead, they are referred to by the title they held previous to that one-at-a-time position. Hence, former Alaska Governor Palin, is referred to as, “Ms. Palin, former governor" and former President Bill Clinton is referred to as, "Mr. Bill Clinton, former president."

 

Given Pope Francis’ visit to DC this week, we want you to be prepared in the event you happen to encounter him. You would refer to him as, “Your Holiness”.

 

Learn the ins and outs of titles and you will be marvelously well-mannered when you are hobnobbing with all sorts of people. Robert Hickey, Deputy Director of the Protocol School of Washington, has a well-researched book entitled, Honor & Respect, to help guide you through all the forms of address and title imaginable - it is a great resource.  It belongs on every books shelf in DC!

 

Have a marvelous week - Catherine

 

 

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