Mr. Hu?

Many times when working with international groups there can be confusion on people’s names. Seeing “Jin Hu” on an email can be confusing to people who don’t know if it is Mr. (Mrs?) Jin, or is it Mr. (Mrs?) Hu?. Which is the first name, and which is the family name? When talking on the phone, how can you avoid offending them when you address them?

What to do?

A former colleague of mine who is working in the Tokyo offices of a European semiconductor maker says that they have a nice solution to the problem: They have set a company policy that employee names be written in emails and in documents like this:

“Mr. jin Wufang”
“Mr. james Warner”
“Mrs. margaret Reid”

By capitalizing the family name and lower-casing the given name, the confusion over how to determine which is which is eliminated. This is a simple and effective example of how global policies in a company can help to resolve or avoid basic problems on international teams.


Kevin Ready

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