There is increasing awareness these days of the importance of calling people by their preferred names and using their preferred pronouns, if they have stated them. This is a particularly sensitive issue in the case of members of the transgender community where ‘dead naming’ someone, i.e., using the name they have abandoned along with their former gender identity, is seen as wrong, especially if done deliberately.
But being sensitive to how people wish to be referred to and accommodating their preferences is a good thing to do under all conditions and at all times. This seems to me to be the minimal act of respect that we pay to others and why it has become controversial in some quarters is unfortunate. In some societies, people tend to be formal in addressing someone. The rules for how to address others are fairly explicitly laid out unless they are members of their family or close friends when the rules are relaxed. Ats a result, he chances of one committing a faux pas or an insult are small.
In the US where people tend to adopt casual terms of address very quickly, even if one has just met someone, one has to be more careful. This is especially the case with names that are commonly abbreviated because not everyone likes the short form. I try to listen carefully to how someone introduces themselves. For example, if their name is ‘Lawrence’, I will use that form until I am told by them otherwise but I have noticed that some other people will immediately assume that they can be called Larry.
When it comes to emails and letters, if I am writing to someone I do not know, I will use the salutation ‘Dear (first name, last name)’. I will sign the letter ‘Mano’, a hint that I am comfortable with that level of informality and with them calling me that. I will then read their reply and see how they end it. If they too sign off with just their first name or an abbreviation of it, then that indicates to me how they wish to be addressed in the future and sets the tone for all future communications.
But I have noticed that not all people engage in this kind of probing. For example, over the past few years I have got to know someone pretty well and we met many times and have exchanged multiple emails. Despite the fact that my name appears in every email and document, he still refers to me as ‘Manu’. It does not bother me except in the general sense of noticing an obvious and easily corrected error. And after a couple of years, it seems a little awkward and petty for me to suddenly bring up the fact that he has been calling me by the wrong name for so long. So I let it go, resigned to the fact that he is one of those people who will never notice this.