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One of the supervisors who works for me is very punctilious about the form of address towards herself. Before she came to work for me, I had heard that she makes it quite clear that she does not approve of being saluted by her first name and requires that proper nomenclature and salutation follow the format, "Good morning, Mrs. X."

You can imagine my surprise and consternation, then, upon my first meeting her, after my greeting her with, "Good morning, Mrs. X," her responding with, "Hi, Sweetie."

Sweetie? How did I come to be her sweetie?

I'm a very casual (egalitarian, collegial) person myself, but to be greeted so by a virtual stranger was, to my mind, rude. Others in our work group told me not to pay any attention; that's the way she is. That may be the way she is, but not the way I am. There's a not-so-subtle power play going on here, and I'm perfectly capable of winning it, drawing the line.

At our next encounter, at a meeting of all our supervisors, I greeted her first with a hearty, "Hello Sweetie!" You could have heard a pin drop. She bridled and with ill grace, responded, "Good morning."

Haven't been referred to as "Sweetie" since, and she continues to be oh-so-polite.

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