Is it fair to mention someone by designation alone in Salutation?
Sometimes my colleagues used to mention the "designation" in salutation to their downline employees as well as to their superiors but as far as I concern it is not fair.
If I'm wrong pls someone correct me on this

From India, Coimbatore
Dear Shantha,
Your question is "Is it fair to mention someone by designation alone in Salutation?". Mentioning the designation in salutation is not a question of fairness but properness.
No, you cannot mention the designation in salutation. However, is your query about business letter or e-mail? In either context, you may use the word "Dear Sir", "Dear Madam". If you are writing letter to very senior government authority, especially to Collector, Cabinet Secretary, Judge etc, then you may write "Respected Sir".
If you wish then you may provide the sample draft of the letter or e-mail. Just write xxxx in place of the name to protect the identify. If you provide the draft, then it will be possible for us to check the correctness.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Hi Mr.Dinesh,
My query is regarding the business e-mail. Pls find below a sample mail(Salutation) which I received from my colleague.
" Dear Asst.HRM,"
Almost, your reply has answered my query.
Some of my colleagues are using the word "SAN" which is a Japanese word in their e-mail communication as well as in oral communication.
Dear Mr.xxxxx San,
Dear San,
Since,I've been working in an Automobile Industry where the Client is from Japan.
May be this word "San" has been incorporated in our culture due to regular formal communication with Japanese.
Is it right to use the word "San" in our Business letter or E-mail?

From India, Coimbatore
Dear Shantha,
In the erstwhile era, the office communication was quite formal. It was consistent to the bureaucratic working of those times. However, with the onset of globalisation and electronic communication, the rules of communication have been changed. Business communication is more direct and personal. Against this backdrop, addressing colleague as "Dear Asst Manager" in email, is grossly incongruous with modern business practices.
Now about your second query. I did not know about usage of word "San" by Japanese. However, just they are your client and they include word "San" while addressing employees of your company does not mean that you should also imitate them. In future you could deal with Italians, Spaniards, French etc. To please them, will you adopt their cultural practices as well? If you do that then will it not create confusion because of assortment of communication styles?
It appears that employees of your organisation have not taken formal training on business communication. If you wish then you may hire my training services. To know details of my 1-day training programme on "Advance Business Writing Skills", you may click on the hyperlink.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Using salutations like Dear Asst Mgr is in bad form. It has nothing to do with fairness but with etiquette. Writing dear sir, as Divekar said, is far better. What is the need to write designation in salutations? If the idea is to show you know his designation, then you are doing a bad job by insulting him specifying you don't know (or care for) his name.
The salutation is proper, However, in spam and standard form letters.
About your second question, please note that you can't use Mr and San in the same sentence. Writing dear mr. Santha san is like writing (in Hindi) shreeman mr. Shantha. Ask your colleagues to use Dear shantha San instead.
BTW, the original greeting for superiors in Japanese is Sama, not San.
So to an authentic Japanese senior manager, being called San may be insulting also.
You need to do culture training when dealing with a foreign culture in his language.

From India, Mumbai
Dear Shanthamoorthy,
Some interesting exchanges indeed.
Designations are normally used in Inter Company mails.
Within any organization addressing by name is appropriate.
I have had the chance to work with many Japanese Engineers.
Adding "san" after the name as a mark of respect was very common.
Even interpreters have not pointed out the fine distinction brought out by
Mr Saswata Banerjee ( ie between SAMA and San).

From India
San is the Japanese equivalent of Sir. You can use it only if the address is a Japanese or your company is imbibing the Japanese culture in a big way. In fact I have designed and about to deliver a module on Breaking Cross Cultural Barriers for Business. As regards addressing people by designation, it is way too far being formal. It is like in movies, the people call the Collector, Superintendent of Police... Dear Collector, Dear SP etc. In normal business letters it is better to address the person as Dear Sir, or Sir.. In Email, in my opinion, no salutation is required at all. It is normally communicated from one e-mail ID to another e-mail ID. At best, the person can be addressed as Sir, if the person is quite senior in hierarchy. People are more concerned about the content of your email than these frivolities. People have no time to focus on these protocols, life being a fast-paced these days !
Best wishes

From India
Hi Mohan,
My experience of working with a Japanese company says that you should address them as 'san' in all your formal communication with them. Like Dear Kataoka san, Dear Hosinki san etc. And in indian context as Dear XXX. Hope this help!

From India, New Delhi

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