Dear Mrs. “Deputy Chief of Staff”? How Do You Address Senior Leaders in Government?

Home Forums Careers Dear Mrs. “Deputy Chief of Staff”? How Do You Address Senior Leaders in Government?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 5 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #175775

    I was just talking with a colleague, who was asking me how to address higher-ups in government.

    Do I say “Deputy Chief Smith” or just “Mr. Smith” in sending an email?

    How about in person? Is it the same or is there different etiquette?

    What if they say to call them “Greg” but your peers and other superiors use a more formal title?

    I did find this helpful resource, but I’m wondering if that’s how it really works.

    Thoughts on how to address senior officials in government?

  • #175779

    Steve Ressler

    This is a tricky one – my default is to see what others call them first.

    Generally, I’ve seen from senior level folks usually either Mr. X or First name. Few use the Deputy Chief/Administrator

  • #175777

    Mark Hammer

    I would think it depends on the context.

    I suppose it helps to remember that, if the position is senior enough, one is often addressing the office, rather than, or as much as, the person in particular who currently holds that office. So in that context, “Deputy Chief Smith” is appropos, as is “Secretary X”.

    In our context, a Supreme Court Judge might be addressed as “Madam Justice X” or “Mister Justice X”.

    I’m curious about elected officials that have essentially dual roles. The website you link to (great resource, BTW), would suggest that the higher of the two roles is employed. So, it would be “Mister Speaker Boehner”, rather than “Congressman Boehner”.

    A few years ago, I noticed a former teaching colleague from 20 years ago across a large hall our organization was having an annual meeting in. As it happens, he is presently the Speaker of the Canadian Senate. I knew that, but to me he was just another fellow department member who also stuffed his face from the dessert tray the server brought around in the faculty dinng room. Not having seen him since our teaching days, I shouted out his first name to get his attention. We did some catching up, and I noticed my director across the hall and motioned to him to come over. I introduced them, using official titles. I gotta tell you, it’s a helluva delicious feeling to introduce your boss to someone you know who’s more important than their boss.

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