Aanchal Saini, Ex-General Counsel at Delhi International Arbitration Center — Abolishing ‘Sir/Madam’ Culture Will Lessen the Disparity in Society
Aanchal Saini, the CEO and Co-founder of Rent It Bae (https://www.rentitbae.com) enthusiastically upholds No Sir No Madam drive in India. Rent It Bae provides you a wardrobe to dress you up with their unique online premium fashion rental service.
She is a law graduate from the famous, Amity Law School. Having studied law, she has interned and worked with various law firms. Her resume boasts of her tenure at the Delhi International Arbitration Center. Aanchal held the designation of General Counsel at the same office.
Aanchal has seen both types of the office culture, i.e the one with ‘Sir/Madam’ practice and the other with first-name custom. Preferring the latter, she has instilled the same at her workplace too. She opines that addressing each other with first-name creates a sense of equality. In addition, it also eases the process of communicating with someone.
She was introduced to No Sir No Madam tradition during her interaction with a lawyer working for a UK based Arbitration Institute. While conversing with him, she could not stop addressing him as ‘Sir’. To her surprise, he questioned her, the reason for referring him with a salutation, to which she did not have an answer. Furthermore, he even informed Aanchal to address him by his first-name.
Having worked in the legal department, she claims — ‘Sir/Madam’ custom is eminently prevalent in courts and other legal offices. Law associates, out of habit, address their seniors with a salutation. Usage of first-name to address someone is considered as impolite in legal firms and courts. Especially, while advocating a case, a lawyer has to bow down in front of the judge and address him/her with a salutation. Besides this, lawyers even have to bow down before entering the court room at the Delhi High Court. Aanchal considers such practices strange and wishes for a change in such acts.
She acknowledges the dominance of ‘Sir/Madam’ culture in the government sector across India. However, she considers herself lucky that she always had cordial interactions with bureaucrats. Aanchal narrates “During a course of a business interaction with two men from Japan, I was addressed as Aanchal ‘San’ which means Ji in their language. I was in awe as I did not expect anyone to use such a polite word during a corporate interaction. ” There are numerous substitutes whom a person can heed to show regard, instead of ‘Sir/Madam’ that only imposes authority.
On pondering upon the difficulties faced by blue-collar workers, Aanchal remarks — it is difficult to inculcate No Sir No Madam habit into them as they need to be educated responsibly. It is vital that people should be taught about the lessons of respecting and diligence while liberating them of formal obeisances. They would definitely be happier when they do not have to lower their dignity in front of others. This, in turn, would also reduce the discrimination they have to face because of their work. Additionally, after understanding the labourer’s plight, Aanchal has even sworn to educate the peons and clerks regarding No Sir No Madam thesis in her office.
She conveys, it was difficult for her to adopt to a first-name culture after switching from the legal world to a startup environment. Therefore, she suggests, No Sir No Madam ideology should be integrated in schools. Having one way of addressing each other would reduce the time wasted on deciding the suitable salutation for the other person. Especially, while writing mails, a person has to spend more time on deciding an appropriate greeting than writing the actual content of the mail. Teaching kids about mutual respect would also empower them not to subordinate themselves to dictatorial seniors when they grow up.
To spread awareness regarding No Sir No Madam movement, she advises to conduct seminars and sessions. In addition, she suggests creating a community of people who understand the essence of the first-name system. Being an integral part of the community, every individual would then, inform people around him/her about No Sir No Madam.
Aanchal concludes — It is high time we change the misconception or disbelief that ‘Sir/Madam’ equates respect. No Sir No Madam habit will impart mutual respect and a sense of belonging into employees at the workplace. Thus, improving the overall performance and creating a cordial environment in every domain.