The Importance of Titles and Respect

I didn't call him Dr. I called him by his first name.

In a recent email communication, I got an angry reply back from this person.


I didn't realize I upset him.

From my experience, most people enjoy the wall being broken down and being seen as human beings.

Titles are ingrained in us from a very young age. Starting from the classroom. They're supposed to teach us respect.

But I believe that they cause more barriers. 

Titles (Mr., Mrs., Dr.) are often just a wall we put in front of ourselves to seem more powerful, or force people to acknowledge something some status.

What do you think about titles?

I asked this same question on LinkedIn, and here are the thoughtful responses I got back:

  • "Titles are just a form of respect. Most hard working people tend to be respectful. I personally haven't met any "Dr" who wasn't pleasant. Use it if they're strangers, but if you naturally see these people regularly, then drop the "Dr" to break the ice. It's case-by-case depending on who it is, and how your relationship with them is"


  • "I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say this: I get that Dr. is a great title,  but its pretty silly to send an angry email in response to someone who is obviously not trying to offend you. The tile is great, its amazing but to use that as a way to say "I've surpassed you in some way" and "am different from you." If someone prefers to be called doctor so be it. "I'd prefer if you call me doctor :)" diffuses the situation as quickly as it starts. Hanging onto a title for status is a sense of insecurity, being proud of your title and wanting to use it is empowering."


  • "Just my experience - I always use "Dr." unless told otherwise by the person him/herself.  I do it out of respect since Drs and PhDs work hard and for years for their title."