Vidisha Raval, USA Based NRI Advocates: No Sir No Madam – A Move to Detach the Authoritative Prejudices

Vidisha Raval, the USA based NRI, fervently believes that Sir/Madam culture expands discrimination at the workplace.  At present, she is working as a physical therapist in Texas, USA.  She earned her doctorate in Physiotherapy from Texas Tech University, USA.

While working in India, she would address her seniors such as the Director and CEO as Sir/Madam.  She said, “I felt like working beneath my seniors.”  We cannot instinctively keep our opinions in front of our supervisor when Sir/Madam culture prevails.  We are hesitant to tell our seniors that we are not comfortable with their decisions.  This is a dread that we have created in our psyches.

Whereas, in USA, no one uses Sir/Madam just to provide respect.  When she first moved to Houston, Texas, she felt that both the countries were socially distinct.  She recalled — “Initially, I was the only person addressing my CEO as Miss.  However, I realized that USA was a completely different ballgame from India.  They appreciate our opinions, if we do not agree with the decision of the supervisor.  Directors/CEOs encourage constructive criticisms.”

When we address someone as Sir/Madam, we spontaneously provide them the leverage of treating us discriminately, Vidisha indicated.  This results in diminishing our value in front of them.  We have to request them for getting our work completed.  Consequently, they start taking advantage of the situation — sometimes they would keep us waiting superfluously.  They would insult us in front of our clients/patients.  They might start using phrases such as ‘you must do this work as I told you; because I am your Sir, I know better than you do’.

At times, juniors come up with great ideas.  However, due to Sir/Madam culture, they carry a certain fear while speaking to their seniors, she mentioned.  Evading Sir/Madam will enable better communication channel.  Every individual deserves equal respect.  It does not matter, if you are a CEO or a member to the cleaning staff.  Avoiding this culture will definitely increase the proficiency and profitability of the organization.  Moreover, it will build the confidence of the employees.

Vidisha talks about her favorite author Robin Sharma, who quoted, “Leaders should create more leaders.”  She believes that the senior management should unveil the leader within every person so that they get the opportunity to come forward.  This will be India’s progression towards the positive direction.

Vidisha considers that abolishing Sir/Madam will make the workplace comfortable for employees.  The mutual relationship of an employee and an employer will improve.  It will create equal opportunity for everyone.  Besides, it will lead to an amicable environment at the workplace.

In India, it is a common practice in colleges, where juniors are supposed to address their senior students as Sir/Madam.  Vidisha concurs that it is awkward because everyone is a student.  More or less, all the students in an institution are companions.  Students should be educated about the workplace ethics and how to communicate without rambling Sir/Madam.  Vidisha indicates that India is progressing in business and corporate world.  However, using first-name culture will take it to the highest level of success, like a cherry on the cake.

She conceives that addressing people with first names helps you to connect better.  “If someone calls me Vinisha, I will instantly correct them by saying it is Vidisha, not Vinisha.”   She indicates that a person’s name is his identity.  Thus, addressing someone by his/her name provides a better communication platform.

She agreed that in Indian police stations — if we call the officers by their name, we have to face severe consequences.  Obliterating Sir/Madam culture can significantly reduce corruption.  When we address someone with their first name, we are neither underneath them nor above them.  It feels that we have equal status and power as they do.  This is the reason for which police officers will help us rather than letting us down.

As Myles Munroe said, “True leaders don’t invest in buildings.  Jesus never built a building.  They invest in people.  Why?  Because success without a successor is a failure.  So your legacy should not be in buildings, programs, or projects; your legacy must be in people.”  We need to change the attitude of people. The culture will automatically change.

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