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I am an Army Reservist with 36 years.  My wife and I have adopted 21 special kids.  I invited my former Brigade Commander (Now a Major General) and his wife to an event this coming weekend, because he always was interested in my family and was the first commanding officer I ever had that actually cared about my family.
My question is: How do I introduce him and his wife to others at the event?  To me he is a friend who happens to be a General Officer. I just don’t want to be disrespectful or go overboard.
— MS

Dear MS:
       Your question is one of etiquette rather than forms of address, but here’s my advice:
       Say his name is James Johnson.
       It won’t see overboard to him if you introduce him socially as General Johnsonor General James Johnson. To him that’s his name.
       Even though one might be on a first-name basis with a high office holder, I would always let them have the option of maintaining their formality with others. Most of us in the US assume we are on a first-name basis with everyone we meet socially. But it’s still an individual’s option to decide with whom they are on a first-name basis. I wouldn’t address a high ranking officer or elected officials by their first name … until invited to do so.
       What to Do: Introduce him in this social situation as General Johnson orGeneral James Johnson and let him suggest (if he wants to) he wants you to introduce him as JIm Johnson (no reference to his rank) henceforth.
       Or let him suggest to the others they should call him JIm saying Please call me Jim on a case-by-case basis.
       I would introduce his wife in a social situation as Sarah Johnson and let the other person decide to call her Sarah or Mrs. Johnson,
                – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Our private school has applied for a grant and have invited four individuals from a foundation to visit the school.  The individuals include: the President, the Assistant Pres., and 2 other members.  They will be touring our school and will be introduced to key school persons along the way.  What I want to know is how these individuals should be introduced especially since there are four of them.
— Lynn M.

Dear Lynn M.:
They should be introduced with the highest person’s name said first if you want to actually use names. With four it would be ….
 (President of Foundation), (Assistant Pres. #2), (Foundation Person #3), (Foundation Person #4), may I present (School Person), chairman of the department of XXXX.
(Directed to the School Person)  …. Our guests are from the XXX Foundation. 

Which would sound like: Mr. Smith, Ms. James, Mr. Wilson, Ms. Thomas, may I present Dr. Anderson, chairman of the Department of History.
(To Dr. Anderson), Our guests are from the Evergreen Foundation. Mr. Smith is the President of the Foundation and is interested in seeing our facilities.
This provides an opportunity for Dr. Anderson to speak with Mr. Smith and the delegation.
With large groups some times names are left out if there are too many OR if you don’t think there will actually be any conversation. Such as:
  (To the delegation from the Foundation):  This is our football team coached by Tim Clark
(To the football team and Tim Clark): Our guests are from the Evergreen Foundation.
You allow for a general acknowledgment from both sides to the other … and then you move on.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Quick question when doing a toast to the president of Taiwan is it:
1)  To His Excellency the President of Taiwan — with the response being; To His Excellency
2)  To the President of Taiwan — with response being; To the President
My instincts say number one but there is a debate. I have a copy of your book but don’t see a form for this. 
— D.C. in Colorado Springs

Dear D.C.,
I would use #1 … and thus toast the person rather than the office. Regarding #1, His/Her Excellency always precedes a full name, then, list the office:
His Excellency (Full Name), The President of Taiwan
It is “he” who is excellent … not the job.
And the end of the toast could absolutely be:
To His Excellency
I have two forms for a visiting head of state … the second form uses Excellency.See page 408 in the book in the Chapter on International Officials. Note that I include in there a reference to (Personal Honorific If Presented):  Many internationals include a honorific in there before their name such as Dr. or Professor. In the USA we don’t include an honorific when we use a courtesy title, but if your visitor does, you should include it.
– Robert Hickey
www.formsofaddress.info

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I am trying to confirm how one would address a former Prime Minister directly when meeting him/her for the first time. Do you say Hello Mr. Prime Minister or Hello Prime Minister or Hello Mr. Blair?  I appreciate your guidance.
— A. K. @ RWB & Co.

Dear A.K.:
I show that form on page 358 in my chapter on British Officials.
In conversation a current office holder … David Cameron … would be addressed as Prime Minister in conversation.
But you mention Mr. Blair.
Former prime ministers do not continue to be addressed by as if they were still in office, which would be considered disrespectful to the current prime minister.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Presumably, a Duke’s title is not usually (or ever) the family surname.  For the sake of illustration, let’s say there is a British Duke of Highhampton, with the first name of Peter and family surname Cameron. His third son, who works as a minor government official in the Bahamas, introduces him to an American friend who also lives in the Bahamas (and who does not know the family’s history) at a casual lunch.  In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say “This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton.” What would he say instead?  Would a member of the British aristocracy ever simply say “This is my father, Peter Cameron”? (If so, presumably the friend would call the father “Mr. Cameron” during the subsequent conversation, intending to show generational respect.  However, would a duke find this an offensive come-down from his real title?)  Or would it be most plausible that the son would at least say, “This is my father, Peter Cameron, Duke of Highhampton,” even when the introduction is in a relaxed setting?
— Florence Brook

Dear Ms. Brook:
I love this question because it superficially about addressing nobility, but it really about making introductions. For formal situations the forms of address are fixed by protocol. Casual situations may call for casual forms of address … which are the realm of etiquette. Etiquette allows for the individual to interpret what he or she believes is right for the situation.
Here’s what I think:
1) The job of the introducer is to provide the names for the people being introduced to use when each responds to the introduction.  The son will be in the best position to know what his father will like to be called by his son’s friends and what his friends will like to be called by his father. It is the son’s function as the introducer is to establish the right common ground.
2) Acknowledging the other person’s status … whether a student, military officer, your supervisor, or both father and the holder of a noble title …. is a essential to establishing good communication.
Perhaps the best plan is for the son to brief everyone in advance of what he will do and what he thinks each should call the other, so everyone can enjoy the start of a new friendship.  Protocol officers typically brief their bosses on what the “call by” names are for people they are about to meet. It’s really easy … and makes things go smoothly.
RE: In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say “This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton.”
Secrets that explode during the event are really planning problems! The purpose of protocol is to establish a stress-free environment so the planned work of the event or meeting can be accomplished.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

Dear Mr. Hickey,
Thank you for your insight.  It’s very kind of you to respond, and charming to me for different reasons, not the least of which is the comment about a secret that explodes.  I was once the inadvertent subject at such a moment, and embarrassed a speaker in front of a big roomful of his peers and bosses due to the klutzy job he did introducing me (no loss of face for me, a whole lot of loss of face for him).  I don’t believe any of his staff ever had the slightest inkling that they should have been abashed for not briefing him properly.  They all just stood around and tsk-tsked him for his faux pas.
I once met an earl at a friend’s house in Oregon. We were hanging around on a summer day in shorts and were introduced by first name only (i.e., not a protocol-officer moment).  My friend is rabidly egalitarian, yet even she was quite ready to whisper in my ear that he was an earl.  I therefore guess it is unrealistic to think a member of the British aristocracy would ever fail to mention that fact, either prior to an introduction or during, no matter how casual the setting.  (A contessa I know is always introduced by only her first and last name, but she points out that her title doesn’t mean anything, since Italy is a republic.  And though she feels this way, I knew by the end of our first meeting that she is a contessa.  The secret just doesn’t keep.)
The only part of what you said that I wonder about is the assertion that once everyone’s status is on the table, they can go forth and enjoy the start of a new friendship.  Perhaps, if the room is full of other people of similar stature (wealth, fame, achievement or position). But if the room contains only one duke and some guys, it seems that the title must inevitably impede genuineness.
Anyway, many thanks again. I ordered your book last night and am looking forward to learning all the things I did wrong when working at the Senator’s office back in the day.
— Florence Brook

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Robert, how would you address a group of senators, governors, police officers, etc.?  Would it be generally like the plural of “sir” and “ma’am” — “ladies and gentlemen,” or “assembled guests” for instance? Or do I mention the top ones?
Jim Sternberg

Dear Jim:
If you have a wide variety of officials the challenge is to figure out a natural place to stop mentioning them by name so you don’t spend your time picking out certain people in the audience … and end up overlooking others.
Here is the standard approach: The speaker will briefly acknowledge those on the podium then go on to acknowledge everyone else generally.
E.g., The President at the State of the Union Message is on the podium with just theSpeaker of the House of Representatives and The Vice President ... so he begins his speech with those officials in precedence order:
Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished guests, and the American people …. etc.
If no one is on the podium with you … you can thank just the person who introduces you … so it Thomas Smith is the master of ceremonies …
Mr. Smith, distinguished visitors, and ladies and gentlemen …
Then end with just: Thank you … not directed to anyone in particular … and sit down.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am preparing an agenda for a speaking engagement and am wondering how to correctly list the individuals that will be speaking. Although I already know the order of precedence for the agenda and I understand the procedure for addressing a formal letter to such individuals, I am unclear if I am following those formal letter guidelines when listing individuals in a program of events format.  For example: do I write …
Mayor John Doe (first line)
City, State (next line)

or…
The Honorable John Doe (first line)
Mayor of City (second line) … do I need the state as well?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
— Tamara Zanders, Willoughby, Ohio

Dear Ms. Zanders:
Most of the questions I get are forms of address …. but a program is not a direct form of address … so there’s more leeway in how you present the names.
Sometimes the best time to make decisions on how to present names is when you has the entire list in front of you.  But … I certainly prefer:
The Honorable Harold Hill
Mayor of River City

That form is the traditional form of direct address … and the elected official will certainly like The Honorable being included.
Include the state if it would be confusing not include it E.g., if you had the mayors of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia at the same event.
But if it’s not confusing, then it’s not necessary.  Again that will be the most clear when you have the entire list in front of you.
State names are sometimes omitted on wedding invitations for this reason. Sometimes an invitation will state the ceremony will take place in the City of Albany and not mention New York.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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