Yes Sir & Ma Culture

There is this very popular culture in the world, Africa, and particularly Nigeria, where you always greet and communicate with superiors with the phrase ‘Yes Sir, Yes Ma’.

We believe this shows you have immense respect for your bosses which is not bad at all. However, using it too much and on every occasion is a negative thing and I will tell you why shortly.

As suggested in a recent article on, we need to understand that calling someone sir or madam is not the only way to show respect.”  Do away with the ‘Yes Sir, Yes Madam’ Culture, together with No Sir No Madam.

You may say that this is Nigeria and not the United Kingdom or America where too much respect and servitude is not necessary.

And you’re right. In Nigeria, you will need to call some people Sir/Ma otherwise you will get into trouble.

Why is too much “Sir”, “Ma” or the “Yes Sir, Yes Ma” culture not good?

1. It is not good when you use it in every conversation and meeting.

Aside from School/university, family, religious and political settings, you don’t need it.

I removed the business setting from the above because it’s really not necessary. Business is all about providing value, getting value, and relating well with others. If you have good ethics like honesty, integrity, reliability, consistency, etc, you’re good to go.

Being a yes-sir person is not really needed. You may need it in politics but in business, it’s not needed.

Doing it won’t get you to the top.

As a digital entrepreneur, most of the foreigners have worked with never want me to call them “Sirs”. They are not after servitude or me being a sycophant(yes men) to them.

What they are after is me being exceptional and delivering great work consistently. And this leads to my next point.

2. When people tell you Yes sir to everything you say, you tend to really believe they are good without validation.

You may not bother checking the data/fact about their work. You just tend to believe they’re respectful which they’re not.

My recent experience says much about this. Someone who calls me “Yes Sir” every time went ahead to perform a couple of atrocities on my construction site which left me perplexed.

When you remove people calling you Sir always. They tend to behave like their normal self and you can get to quickly know who they are.

I have tried it in my office. I told everybody to call me by my name Kenny. That way, I saw their true behaviors. I knew those that were truly respectful and those that were not.

3. The removal of yes-men from your business enables you to judge people based on the metrics for the task to be achieved and not just respect.

Some people use “Yes Sir” so you would never suspect them. Do not fall victim to this. I repeat, don’t let someone’s “Yes Sir” fool you.

In business that’s not the most important thing. What’s important is the value they’re giving and their ethics.

If a moron or a bad actor is telling you “Yes sir”. Don’t hesitate to fire them.

You need people that are truly respectful, hardworking, and have the right mindset and attitude.

You do not need yes-men.

I believe with these few points of mine; I have been able to enlighten you about the “Yes Sir, Yes Ma” culture.

Feel free to share your opinion below.

And here is another article that can throw more light on the topic.



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