Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Defense: false flattery

Hello guys,

A male nurse, the one I'm often talking about A. (yes another A.) uses a lot the term: "Doctor" but on a tone that half-implies he's mocking it, half-implies he's respectful. For instance, when I make a mistake, he will say: "Doctor, you should not do ...." He uses on a tone that you would use to call the first name of someone you feel like you're superior to.

First, I'm not a doctor, I hold no "doctorate", I'm a physician. He knows this. At least in my country that's how it works. Patients call you doctor, but it's more of a habit. We don't all have a doctorate, which is an academic title. So, "doctor" is more a shortcut for "physician" as we receive letters with Dr. on it but I don't hold the academic title. People who have a doctorate worked on a thesis for a couple of years. It's a title for a researcher, not a clinician.

So either, I defend and I say: "I'm a physician not a doctor" and he got what he wanted: I'm self-devaluating. If I say: "please call me John, I don't like when you call me doctor", we end up in the same situation I ended up many times before. He can make it look as when I'm upholding my boundaries, I'm being thin-skinned. If I say: "Why are you calling me doctor?" He will say it's to joke, to be friendly or because I'm a doctor.

So he uses "Doctor" as a flattery, but it's more a way to devaluate us. When you're using the official title of somebody to ask them something or show them they're wrong, it implies that: 1. you're their subordinate 2. you're not that smart.

Basically, it's a covert attack on your authority given by your title.

I'm sure it happened to you in your respective professions.

How to defend against this one?


Hey John,

I'd like to hear that tonality to understand better.
Since I'm right now not 100% sure I understand the dynamic, I also don't have a good answer yet.

What I can say though is that if you want to correct him, then "please call me John" is better than the other option.
And I'd personally change from:

Please call me John, I don't like when you call me doctor


Call me John, man

"I don't like it" might seem like strong assertiveness, but it actually gives power away, since it shows that someone can get to you just with their choice of words.
If you want to keep that structure, then I'd rephrase it with "I prefer", rather than "I don't like".

Matthew Whitewood and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodJohn Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks! It makes sense. That's what I'm figuring out these days: the calibration.

I would say half-sarcastic half-friendly tone, the best I could find. Not as much, that's why it's powerful. It's both flattering and mocking. It's smart.