My boss alwasy put a person A first, and then B in probably 99% of cases when he has to mention A and B. A typical example is like this in emails to our customers: "Please contact the  person A or B in my absence", even in projects when B has clearly showed more active in roles or more knowledge than A. My questions are:

1.   Based on pure English grammer point of view, in the sentence as I mentioned above, does that mean A is the  primary one, and B is secondary?

2.   Based on office custom, would recievers of the  emails have the impression that A is primary / more valuable than B.

3.   What should B say to his boss if B feels bothered by this?

Thanks for your inputs!

NLewis's picture

Your boss probably is just used to listing them that way.  I have a brother for example and we've always been "N & G".  My parents have always been "mom and dad" and I will typically refer to my directs in a certain order.  It doesn't mean anything.  That leaves you free to ping the person you believe is best-suited to address the issue.

If your boss preffered one over the other then they should have said as much.


Hope that puts your mind at ease.  :)


vkky2kk's picture

Thanks for you input.

Most of people would believe there should be a reason behind the order, it may not be the same as you know your "mom and dad", as traditionally we alwasy put mom first, which is due to "traditional reason".

This order to name "A or B", as A person always in the first has made people felt that A is a primary and B is secondary, left people the impression that the boss prefer A be contacted first, and then B should be contacted if A is not available, whereas in reality, B has really done quite a lot, more than A does. Even in the middle of some projects, despite after the fact that B has obviously done most of the job, the boss would still use the order of "Please contact A or B". Because of A is always ahead of B, in some cases, people just assumed A is the leader of me. 

I even thought there might be possibility that my boss is trying to supress me, and prevent me from being exposed too much. I dont want to guess what my boss's motivation behind, but his order to name A or B has really been bothering me a lot.

What can I do to get out of this?



mainer's picture

It is very difficult to not feel slighted in this case. I'm not saying that you feel that way, but if you do, that's understandable.

If I received such a mail, I would certainly reach out to the person listed first.

If you're (If B is) bothered by this, you could talk to your boss about it during an appraisal meeting. Be polite, yet very firm. There is nothing wrong is claiming what's due, but do it tastefully.