Recently there was a huge viral story on Malaysia's social media about how a person was addressed wrongly during a conversation of an online business transaction.
Before, I worked and dealt with various levels of people from private and government sectors; I learned very well how important the 'title' is for certain people. I worked as a trainer, then as a consultant which dealt with meeting and talking to people. I have met all kinds of levels and types of people throughout my career days and even now.
I still remember when I was given a task by my boss to conduct a training to one of the government sectors. I always conducted my training in English and if required only would I conduct in Bahasa Melayu or rojak campur dengan English. So when you talk in English of course you address people using "YOU" and "I".
At the end of my training I got a complaint from the participant (written in the evaluation form and verbally remarks by the personnel of that government agency) for not respecting and addressing the people in the class very well. It seems there were a few "Dato" and "Datin" in the class. It was like a huge slap on my face at that time. Of course I defended myself; how would I know there were Datos and Datins in my class as nobody cared to inform me!
On the other hand (after coming back to reality and long thoughts) I admitted it was partly my mistake. I should have checked who were my audience. I should have done homework at that part. Since that day, I am very careful on how I address people and till now it's like a habit that I am always conscious not to address people wrongly.
Well.. that if it is in a real world, you could see the person's face and expression, but what if it were the case in the cyber world? Where only text and sentences be the conversation between people. I guess it will be no problem between people that knows each other but with strangers, especially doing business - this is why every seller should learn the ethic on how to communicate.
I love buying things online and always communicate with the sellers who mostly youngsters. So far they are very polite addressing me "sis" "kakak" or "puan". As for the middle aged seller their favourite term is always "dear". It is probably to sound more intimate mesra gitu.. hehehe. Play safe kan.. it is better rather than you mistakenly address people.
How you talk to people.. address or call people be it at any situation, reflects who you are. If you don't want to be called rude or dumb, you have to learn how to live politely in this world. I don't agree with some people saying - apa lah yang ada pada pangkat? Mati bukan boleh bawa pun.. Dato, Datin, Prof, Dr or apa saja, itu semua pangkat je pun.
I agree, mati memang tak boleh bawa itu semua.. but respect and dignity is needed so you can live and die in a respectable way. Those who have "Prof" or "Dr" as their title, do you know how hard they work to achieve to that level? Here in Oman we have a few medical "Dr" and also PhD "Dr". We also have a "Prof" here. I always address them with that title though I met them everyday. They never stop me doing that neither ask me to. I just feel that they deserve that title and they deserve to be respected that way.
As for me.. call me "Puan" ok.. "Cik" pun ok.. (ni perasan muda ah jap).. dah ada pun panggil "makcik" dan "aunty". Nak panggil I "Datin" ? Ok je.. tapi jangan depan the real Dato and Datin ye.. Tersangat malu.. hahhahha.. Among my close friends, we love to call each other "Datin".. Bukan berangan pun nak jadi Datin, tapi saja suka-suka pasal kawan yang kita panggil Datin tu tersangat style dan kelasss which the real Datin pun tak kalah tau.... oops.. terlebih sudah ya..