tiny answer Thursday: 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Thursday: seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Negotiating salary as a recent graduate without much job history

I am applying for a position that requires salary history and salary requirements. The organization has taken a step of good faith by stating their salary range. I am a recent graduate and I have never had a real job within in my field. My work experience is a string of work study positions, university jobs, and fast food. I do have unpaid volunteer experience. I don’t want to send the organization a list of jobs with $0 as the salary because then they will think that they can offer me anything and I will take it (I probably would because I am a recent grad and unemployed, but that is not the point; I want to be a good negotiator). What would you do in this situation?

As a recent grad, you’re not in a very strong negotiating position because you don’t have a proven track record yet, and you can’t really change that fact. However, this employer already told you what their salary range is, so that’s to your advantage; you can push for that range, knowing that they’re prepared to pay it. You might end up on the lower end of the range, of course, but with no past job in your field, that’s fair. After all, you’re going for fair here — not just negotiating for the sake of negotiating.

2. Unwanted nicknames in the office

My name is Michelle. Not Shelly. Not Mee-shell-AY, not MEE-shell, nor any line from a Beatles song. Yet co-workers (most of whom are much older than I am) are constantly calling me these things as they come in and out of my office. One guy, as a mnemonic device for remembering my name, literally sings the Beatles song every time he sees me. I know they aren’t doing it intentionally, but rather as offhand remarks, but nevertheless it drives me crazy. Do other people have this problem? How can I politely tell them I do not like these silly nicknames without seeming overly sensitive or making a big deal out of it?

You probably can’t. You can certainly try, “It gets old to hear that every time; would you mind just using my name?” with the Beatles guy, and you can politely correct the people who simply get it wrong, but that’s about all you can do, and you might just need to ignore it.

3. Boss asks coworkers for input into my performance evaluation

My last performance evaluation was overall OK. I was a 3.25 out of 5, so I had a few “exceeds expectations” and a few “below expectations.” The problem I have is my boss does not spend enough time in the department to assess some of the goals. So he goes around and asks others their opinions as to how I should be ranked. I have issue with this since I have a very specified job and responsibilities. I am also quite busy and do not have time to engage in small talk. I try to make such things clear, however others have perceived me as aloof and standoff-ish. I have some problems with this method of assessment. He will not reveal who he spoke with, only that it was more than one person. I know he is entitled to his methods, However, I do not believe use of hearsay is fair in a performance evaluation. My mid-year evaluation is coming due this week. I have made more of an effort to be sociable, however I would not surprised if the evaluation did not change. Raises are not based on this evaluation. Can you add any advice as to how to address this type of an assessment?

Suggest other, more objective ways of measuring your performance. It sounds like you have clear goals, so there must be some way of determining how close you came to meeting them, right? If not, then the problem is with the goals themselves; you need to have goals that have a clear finish line and where you and your boss can both clearly assess whether or not you met them.

4. Traveling with a coworker whose husband doesn’t like me

What should you do when you have been told to travel with a coworker, but her husband doesn’t like you? In the past we have travelled together before, and one week she was texting another man. When she returned home, her husband saw her texts and had a fit. While we were away, I was advising her not to talk to the other man and telling her she was going to get caught. Now her husband says she can no longer travel with me, as if I had something to do with it. I asked if she told him how I was against her actions, but of course she didn’t.

Since the moment she was told we would be going together, she has whispered and caused drama to try to have me replaced on the trip. I have a feeling she is stirring up the drama to try and have me taken off the trip so she does not have to spill her secret. I’ve never told anyone her secret as I myself would not appreciate the drama it would cause me. Do you have any advice for me?

Stay out this entirely, and ignore this couple’s attempt to draw you into their own drama. If you involve yourself at all, you risk looking as unprofessional as she does.

5. Reassuring out-of-town employers that I’m comfortable making a move

I know you’ve covered applying for jobs out of state, but I have a problem not addressed in your previous posts. I’m not looking to find a job because I’m relocating, I’m looking to find a job that allows me to relocate. I’m having a lot of trouble getting responses from my resumes and I’m afraid it’s the location issue. I’m a recent grad and I’m from a small town. Small enough where I won’t be able to do what I want to do here, or anywhere near here. I cannot afford to relocate first, without a guarantee of employment, but I have enough saved to relocate WITH a job offer.

In your article on the subject, you say managers fear that it won’t work out, or I’ll be unable to adjust to the new area. I’d like to negate the idea that hiring me would be a risk by pointing out that in the past I’ve temporarily moved for internships in unfamiliar locations and I’ve thrived. I’d also want to express my enthusiasm about working for that organization in particular, because I have an excess of enthusiasm and I choose to apply for jobs and organizations I feel passionate about supporting. The problem I’m having is that every way I phrase this I feel like I’m coming off too strong, and making the location issue a focus. I also feel a manger could interpret that my interest in the job is secondary to my interest in moving. And the hardest part is that I cannot separate the two. I need to move to get a job I’m passionate about, and I need a job I’m passionate about to be able to move.

Address your enthusiasm for the job in the cover letter, yes, but you probably don’t want to dwell too much on your thriving in past relocations. That’s something you can talk about in an interview if it comes up, but you don’t want to make it the focus of a cover letter. That’s also not the primary obstacle to long-distance job hunting; you’ve also got to overcome the inconvenience factors, competition factors, and all the rest.

It is very hard to find a job out-of-state in most fields, and that’s especially true when you’re a recent grad, because you don’t have a lot of experience to make you a more attractive candidate. I would start accepting the fact that you might not get a job offer without relocating first, and start thinking about what other options you have, because in this job market it could take a very, very long time (or even not happen). That’s discouraging, I know, but you’re better off finding ways to navigate that reality.

6. Letting former company know I’m back in town

I had been at my job at a small company for about 12 years; I was not very happy the last few years there. That, combined with other personal issues, led me to the decision of making a drastic change in my life. I’m financially stable, so about 4 months ago, I quit my job and moved cross-country. I wanted to wait until I was sure I liked my new home before looking for a new job. I’m glad I did, because I’ve realized that this is not where I want to be and I’m now moving back home. Should I contact my former employer to let them know I am back in town? And what should I say? I don’t really want my old job back. I plan on looking for something new, but it’s a small town and I know they will soon find out I am back. Though I was replaced, they are hiring right now, so what happens if I contact them and they make me an offer? I don’t want to burn any bridges now, so I’m not sure exactly what to do.

Sure, send your former boss an email to let her know that you’re back in town, and any coworkers you were especially close to too. If your old company reaches out to you about a job, just say you appreciate it but you’re looking around at several options, and that you’ll let them know if that changes.

7. Should I admit in an interview that I’m not good with detail?

I have a phone interview next week and did some research on how to respond to the dreaded question of “What is your weakness?” I want to be honest and not give a b.s answer, but I’m afraid I will ruin my chances if I do so. The position is an upper level administration position in a college, and my weakness is details! I want to preface it with the fact that I’m more of a big idea person, and sometimes the details escape me. But… I’ve been working on it, writing lists, setting up reminders, and doing everyday exercises that help me pay attention to details more, and it’s helped. However, with most admin jobs, paying attention to details is key, and it may work against me to say that. Any thoughts?

You won’t like this answer, but if you haven’t 100% mastered that attention to detail problem, think long and hard about whether this is the right job for you. Being a big idea person rather than a details person in an administrative role is usually the kiss of death. If it doesn’t get you fired, it will still generally make for a job where you struggle and don’t enjoy the work.

Update: As pointed out in the comments, I mis-read this question! The questioner isn’t applying for an administrative assistant type position, but a senior-level administrator role. So this might not be an automatic kiss of death the way it would be for a job that’s all about details, but it’s still potentially an obstacle. On one hand, I could argue that you should mention it because you don’t want to end up in a job where this struggle will be fatal to your success … but on the other hand, if you really do have it under control now, mentioning it might unnecessarily scare off an employer. So I’d say to really think about the role of attention to detail in this job, whether what you plan to say is likely to alarm an employer, and whether it should alarm an employer, and then proceed accordingly.

{ 258 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous

    #6.-I don’t understand why you feel you need to tell your old employer you are back in town… unless these are people you want to socialize with outside of a working environment now that you are back in the area, why would you reach out unless you were interested in resuming work with them?

    1. JohnQPublic

      She specifically looked and knows they’re hiring. To me this indicates she’s willing to go back. Now she did say she was unhappy towards the end but there are several reasons you might decide to go back. Maybe the old boss/coworker is gone. Maybe policies have changed. Maybe You have changed. Perhaps you’d be going to a different department or position. Or maybe you do what some of my old coworkers did- get rehired to get a pay bump, since now you’re ‘experienced’. I’d put up with more if I got paid more. (biggest reason we need to pay teachers more) :)

    2. Victoria

      I read it as just smoothly over potential awkwardness. She left, as far as they know, for a job in another part of the world. Now she’s back. It could be uncomfortable to bump into someone from her old workplace without having explained what happened.

  2. V

    on #7 – I read this as the OP is looking for a job as an administratOR rather than in administrative support at the university (i.e. director, associate dean, etc.). I think she might be referring to more of a management type role, since she said “upper level.” Details are still important, of course (and possibly more important) but I’m pretty sure OP didn’t mean working as an admin.

    As far as the question itself, assuming that you do want this job, I’d simply say that in the past you have been a bit too confident in your ability to just remember a list of things, but you now make a point to track things in the ways you mentioned, and it’s working out well for you. If you know you have a weakness but you aren’t prepared to discuss what you’re doing about it, it’s a red flag. I actually talked about this “weakness” in a recent interview and they LOVED the answer. Particularly if you’re interviewing with Deans and Department Heads who are just as overwhelmed as you are.

    1. Anonymous

      Oh thanks guys! I’m #7. And yes, it’s an upper level position, so big ideas are more of the focus. Thank you V, you are spot on. And thanks AAM for answering my question. I like the way you phrased it, “a bit too confident about my ability to remember things.” I think every administrator in an upper level position hates details (at least all the ones I’ve worked with), where I’m at now, my job is to remember the details for them. In this position I’m interviewing for, I would have a couple of lower level administrators carrying out the nuts and bolts.

      1. Anonymous

        My boss is not a detail-oriented person; she’s a big-picture person. I’m the detail-oriented one on our team. And we’re both pretty open about that and leverage our different strenghts so we balance each other. So I think that’s an angle you can take for an upper-level position when you’re dealing with this as a weakness–that it’s something you are aware of and working on, and you make sure that details is a strength on your team.

      2. Ummm... no

        I have a director/high-level administrator position at a college – and really, AAM’s answer initially still rings true. It doesn’t matter really where you are in the administrative world – not paying attention to details will kill a project in quick time. On a serious note, have you considered any medical conditions? Like ADHD? I’m in a role where I spend several million dollars in government funding every month and missing just one minor detail could me losing all state and federal funding for the entire college… details are very important.

        1. Ummm... no

          And as far as having help through assistants – they don’t read minds, you have to initially and through follow-ups, often remind them of what needs to happen take place. That is why they are assistants, and we are directors… if they could do it all, they’d have the upper level job.

          1. moe

            “That is why they are assistants, and we are directors… if they could do it all, they’d have the upper level job.”

            I bet your admin assistants love you. :-)

        2. Anonymous

          It’s not that I don’t pay attention to details, I do, but it’s not my strongest suit, I often rush through things and miss little things. But everyone makes mistakes, lots of upper level administrators screw up all the time. I just wanted to give an example of something I’m working improving. I doesn’t mean I’m a space cadet who can’t keep track of details.

          1. Jamie

            I think it’s worth nothing though, as another commenter said, is that most people say they have attention to detail – even if it isn’t their strongest suit.

            So calling attention to this can be a bigger issue than you intend, only because it’s so universally touted even by the mediocre…that to state this as a weakness will cause people to wonder what level this had to rise to in order for it to make the top of your weakness list.

            Kind of like “being a team player.” Everyone says they are, even when they aren’t, so if one admits to not being a team player they assume you’re the unibomber, even if you just meant you prefer to work independently.

            1. Anonymous

              “only because it’s so universally touted even by the mediocre…that to state this as a weakness will cause people to wonder what level this had to rise to in order for it to make the top of your weakness list.” Brilliant. Exactly my fear. I don’t think I’ll mention it. Thanks so much.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s also true that attention to detail matters in nearly every job. I can’t think of a single job I’ve hired for where I wasn’t concerned about attention to detail, and when it didn’t alarm me if I saw evidence of its lack. I do think there ARE some jobs where this isn’t an issue, but they’re definitely fairly rare. So I’d say that it’s important for the OP to understand that most managers/interviewers will probably have that perspective.

              1. Anonymous

                It’s just strange how the more upper level you get, the more you can get away with not paying attention to details. I’ve working in higher ed administration for over 10 years, I’ve worked my way up to an Assistant Director position, however, I’ve always been alarmed at the rate in which upper level admins get away with sloppy misspelled emails, horribly written articles, misplaced receipts and records, and inattentiveness to their calendar,schedule, funding/finances. Many can’t even remember their own employees names.

              2. ITforMe

                What about the interview question where they ask if you are a details person or a big picture person? Both is a lie, right? So does everyone have to say they are a details person?

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  You really should be truthful, because you want to end up in a job that fits. But ideally your answer can demonstrate that you’re at least decent at both, even if you favor one over the other.

              3. Just Me

                Agreed.
                I think it can sometimes depend on the type of details that go along with the job, if you like the job and are bonding with it so to speak. I think you are going to automatically look at everything differently and more intently when you are more invested in it.

                One job I held I was great with the details of what was needed and I did well. My job now…..eehh.. not as good. Not terrible but I am not as bonded with the job therefore the details part and I are just not bonding. ( yes I do the job but I just get it done and that is all and yes I am looking around )

                Like it has been said, every job is going to have ” details ” in whatever manner they are. I think the more you like your job the more you will automatically focus on them.

                The OP said she has found a system for the details like lists and whatnot and that is a great if it works for her. I think she needs to keep that up and that will help.

                1. Jamie

                  “if you like the job and are bonding with it so to speak.”

                  I really like the way you phrased this. There is so much focus on whether people are a good fit for their career, their workplace, etc. and that’s all crucial – but for many of us there is an almost intimate relationship with our jobs themselves. I can get mad at it, am always protective of it, concerned about it, want the best for it. Like a child, almost.

                  Rereading this I realize I’m officially unhinged and really need to get a hobby or something.

          2. Liz

            Is it possible you’re just being hard on yourself? Or that you miss only a certain kind of detail?

            For example, I had a boss who turned in a typo on EVERY cover sheet, but he had amazing recall during contract negotiations.

            And I tend to think “Oh my lord I can’t believe I missed that!” when even the smallest thing happens, but I realized after looking at meeting minutes that I’m actually way more detail-oriented than most people.

            Is there a way to categorize or quantify the details you tend to miss, so it’s less “I’m not…” and more, ‘I am challenged in this small area and I fix it by blah (insert all of Alison’s wonderful advice regarding talking about weaknesses here).”

        3. Anonymous

          I also find it odd, that having a personality type that focuses more on the big picture, rather than small details, makes you think that I could have a medical condition. Have you every heard of the Myers-Briggs test? Everyone comes to the table with different strengths, we need big thinkers also detailed oriented people in all jobs.

        4. JustAQuestion

          Ummm. . . no,

          I’m a little unclear by what you’re trying to get across with the following statement: “I spend several million dollars in government funding every month and missing just one minor detail could me losing all state and federal funding for the entire college. . . ”

          Just for my own comprehension purposes, could I interpret that statement as being “. . . missing just one minor detail could cause to me to lose all state and federal funding for the entire college. . . “?

          Thanks!

  3. Indie_Rachael

    #2 – Have you tried saying to the other people, “Look, it’s pronounced —.” I’ve done this before and it seemed to cut off the mispronunciations with no hard feelings (I’ve been called Rochelle and Raquel, both by people who know me and by people who’ve never met me, so I’m sure somewhere out there is a woman who spells her name like mine but pronounces it differently — but I digress). think some people don’t realize how downright offensive it can be to have your intentionally mispronounced. Saying it firmly let’s people know that you have a clear preference for what you should be called, without going on the rant that you may have running in your head after the umpteenth “Shelly.” As for the singing guy…Thank God there are no Rachael songs!

    #3 – Unfortunately, those of us who have to focus on our *work* while we’re at *work* never get high marks from the more social employees. I think AAM’s advice is good, so nothing to add there. Just wanted to lend some support on the whole “too busy working to socialize much at work” dilemma.

    1. Jamie

      “(I’ve been called Rochelle and Raquel, both by people who know me and by people who’ve never met me, so I’m sure somewhere out there is a woman who spells her name like mine but pronounces it differently — but I digress)”

      That’s so weird – I would think everyone knew how to pronounce Rachael. I have a friend names Rachelle and it’s pronounces Ra-Shell – but almost everyone defaults to Rachael or Raquel before they know her.

      The first mispronunciation should be a gimme, but after being politely corrected how hard is it to call people by their actual name?

      1. TheSnarkyB

        I’ve heard this from people who have only ever met “Rachel”s, so they see a Rachael and wonder what to do.

        OP#2: You should just say, with a smile, “uh huh. Michelle.” The same way you’d politely correct someone who just met you and is mispronouncing your name. The same way someone meets me, shakes my hand and says “Jane?”, and I say “Jade.” (with a smile)

  4. michael

    #2, i feel your pain. i do not like being called mike and i have never introduced myself as such in a work environment, and yet people call me that all the time no matter how much i ask. it’s a losing battle.

    1. fposte

      I hear this. I have a workplace friend who calls me a truncated version of my name (which I don’t actually like, but she was unable to break the habit when I asked her to), and it’s spread to the whole place over the years. At least one of them tried to correct himself but failed, and nobody seems to notice that I’ve never once signed myself, called myself, etc., this nickname.

      1. Jamie

        “(which I don’t actually like, but she was unable to break the habit when I asked her to)”

        It can be a hard habit to break, but I think it’s rude to call someone by a name they don’t prefer so she should keep trying.

        I get not making a big deal over it, I wouldn’t either, but I think it’s just common courtesy to address someone in their preferred name.

        That said, one of my sons has gone by Joe for a couple of years now, but he will always be my Joey. He doesn’t care when it’s family and I really do try when his friends are around to remember to call him Joe…but since I am able to refrain from calling him Honey Bunny around his friends he forgives the Joey. Just rolls his eyes – you know how moms are.

        Around the house if he hears Joesph middlename confirmationname lastname he knows he’s in big trouble, mister.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, the family nickname thing complicates these issues–it’s easy for a nickname to be something that’d be fine from your mom but not from your boss.

    2. Dave

      My name is David. I’ve gone by Dave since I was a kid. Not by choice, but at some point kids start calling you Dave, and pow, you’re a Dave.

      Fortunately, I have no problem with being Dave. It’s actually kind of nice: when you get a phone call asking for David, you know the caller doesn’t know you very well. (I sign my name David but introduce myself as Dave.)

      A while back there was an executive at my company who insisted on being called David. He was universally mocked behind his back for this insistence.

      You see, there are some names in the U.S. that just get shortened by default: David, Jonathan, Michael, Thomas, Timothy, Joseph, etc. If you insist on David, many people interpret that as an act of pretentiousness.

      So I have mixed feelings here. Yeah, you prefer Micheal, and that’s the name on your birth certificate. I don’t like people having to suffer through a nickname that they don’t enjoy.

      But seemingly your parents knew that when they named their son Micheal, there’d be a natural inclination to shorten it to Mike. On some level, being named Michael signs you up for Mike along with it.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        This is totally true. Isn’t it interesting that it seems to apply only to male names? I can’t think of any female names where it’s as widespread.

        1. Victoria

          Ugh. If you knew how many people default to “Vicky.” (I HATE Vicky. I’ve never, ever been Vicky.)

          My parents, sister, husband and mother/father/brother-in law call me Tori (and by extension, people who hear my family call me Tori call me Tori).

          I go 100% exclusively by Victoria at work. But nevertheless, some folks will immediately go to Vicky. If it’s someone I work with regularly, I correct them. If it’s someone I pass in the hall, I let it go.

          But I do see your point – the “Vicky” thing isn’t universal in the same way that my husband’s “Matthew” is automatically “Matt.”

          1. Vicki

            Whereas I was named (according to my mother) “Vicki” with Victoria added “for long”. The only “people” who know me as Victoria are the bank, the IRS, and the DMV. The only person who has ever been given permission to call me Victoria was a HS friend who asked politely if she could use that name because she thought it was so pretty. I had to say yes.
            Other than that _no one_ calls me Victoria.

            Note to Michael – I would call you Michael.
            Note to Dave/David – It is not pretentious to want to be called David, Lawrence, Richard, Michael, Jonathan, Victoria, Michelle, Catherine, Elizabeth, or any other full name. Your name is part of who you are.
            Dissing someone over their name is childish.

            1. Vicki

              My grandmother wanted to try Tori. I was quite adament in saying no.

              Some co-workers refer to me as V because I often sign email or notes with just my initial.

        2. Anlyn

          This is why my parents call my brother by his middle name…he was named Charles, after a grandparent, but mom and dad didn’t want him to be called Charlie, Chip, or Chuck. So from infancy he was known by his middle name, and people are often surprised to find out it’s not his first name.

        3. Sandra

          Um, Try being a Sandra.
          You get called Sandy (which I am sooo not a Sandy), Cassandra, and Sondra.
          It’s a pain in my patootie. Most people understand about the Cassandra but Sandy and Sondra are just hard ones to shake. Most people assume because I don’t want to be called Sandy then my name has to be Sondra (with a long ‘o’ because otherwise I’d be OK with Sandy).
          Most people at work for some reason go with Sondra but if I hear Sandy….well, that conversation just goes a little something like this:

          Them: Hey, Sandy

          Me: That’s Sandra. I’m just not a “Sandy”. *insert rabbit ears and smile here*. Um, Sandy just reminds me of a kid and as we can see, ‘not so much’ *insert another smile here*

          Them: Yeah, you’re right. Ok, Sondra

          So I just roll with Sondra even though I have never ever signed Sondra or called myself Sondra on any occasion. EVER.

          1. Jamie

            Is this a regional thing? Growing up in the midwest I knew several girls named Sandra and it was pronounced like Sand-ra. When I lived on the east coast I knew two women named Sandra who corrected my pronunciation and said it was pronounced as you would Sondra.

            1. Sandra

              That could be. I’m in the Midwest.
              My parents always pronounced it as Sand-ra. I was always under the assumption that it could only be Sondra if there was an actual ‘O’ in your name.
              Go Figure.

          2. Sandrine

            Heh, I’m a Sandrine. I love how it sounds like “Sand Reen” in English when people from the US call my name.

            Thankfully, I’ve never really been nicknamed anything. Except one of my sisters, who has decided to call me “Sandwhich” or “Sardine” at times. Mostly the sandwhich though XD .

              1. french person

                Well, you don’t really have the sounds in english. I guess the closest would be something like “sahnd-rin”.

          3. dangitmegan

            It’s similar with my name. There are a million ways to pronounce and spell Megan, but I’ve always considered mine to be the easiest and most basic way Meg-an. Half the time people call me May-gan which drives me nuts because I went through school with a Magan and they are entirely different names to me. The people that call me May-gan still somehow come up with the nickname Meg though. They don’t even sound alike.

            I had a teacher in high school who when calling roll the first day said are you a May-gan or a Mee-gan. I said neither. And she said that was too bad because her best friend was a Mee-gan and so she was going to pronounce it like that.

            I also had a professor in grad school who asked how I pronounced it, and I apparently over emphasized the pronunciation and so for an entire semester he did the same. I ended up dating him after I graduated and he thought it was hilarious that I had let it go on so long because I was too scared to correct him.

              1. dangitmegan

                I actually say dangit a lot lol. It became a joke in grad school because by the end of my time there everyone was saying dangit all the time and just randomly throwing it in to conversation.

            1. Victoria

              I have trouble with “ay,” “eh,” “ey,” etc. sounds, so forgive me for this question: How do you pronounce “Meg”? ‘Cause you threw me when you said “May-gan” and “Meg” don’t sound the same. I’d say it “Meyg,” which, in my accent, does sound a lot like “Mayg.”

              I’m disputing your point at all – I’m truly just curious. I’ve spent my adult life discovering that I pronounce a bunch of super normal words (“bag,” “route,” “roof”) incorrectly or just weirdly.

              1. fposte

                Yeah, local conventions and pronunciations really influence this. I was thinking about the Megans I knew in Minnesota, where the short e is really close to a long a. And then in the Midwest Mary rhymes with marry and merry, which can make people from elsewhere crazy.

                1. Laura L

                  I always thought that was a Wisconsin or Kansas/Iowa thing. Or maybe a small-town midwestern thing?

                  Also, Mary, marry, and merry are all pronounced the same. :-) Seriously, though, I’ve heard people say that they all sound different, but I just can’t hear it.

                2. Jamie

                  “And then in the Midwest Mary rhymes with marry and merry, which can make people from elsewhere crazy.”

                  Kind of embarrassed to ask this, but how can those be pronounced differently.

                  To my Chicago ear (and speech) those are all homophones. I wouldn’t know how to begin differentiating those pronunciations.

                  I even went to a site with audio for pronunciation and I’m with Laura L – I can’t even hear the difference.

                3. Laura L

                  @Jamie-Chicago native here (although not living there currently).

                  The only way I can think to pronounce any of those words differently is if someone says Murray instead?

              2. dangitmegan

                I pronounce Meg (and Megan) to rhyme with “egg.” As opposed to May-gan which is prounced like the month. Sometimes accents do play into it but really, it’s the long A sound (more of a choice than an accent thing) that bugs me after I’ve corrected people. I know that sometimes people say they can’t hear a difference, so I generally just tell them to call me Meg like egg, and they get that.

                Of course the way I say it is no more right than how anyone else says it. I just find it hard to understand how someone can say Meg right but not Megan! Lol.

                1. TheSnarkyB

                  Rhymes with egg isn’t going to clarify if you’re talking to a Minnesotan. I’m a New Yorker- I think you’re saying meh-gin right (not gin like alcohol) (Think the “eh” in Emily)
                  but after living in MN, I’ve heard people pronounce egg the same way an east coaster might pronounce the middle part of bagel…

          4. Vicki

            My sister is Keri. It is pronounce like Care-E. The long name is Kerin (Care-in).

            She came home one day and complained about a friend who kept calling her Kaw-rin or Kaw-ri. She said So I explained. ‘It’s Keri. It’s Kerin’…. And she seemed to listen… And now she calls me Curry.”

            We who care can only keep trying. Those who don’t care are multitude.

        4. JessA

          There are a few female names that consistently get shortened. Jessica and Jennifer.

          For instance my name is Jessica. I frequently get called Jess. Okay fine. If someone calls me Jessie, I cringe.

        5. Suz

          My name is Suzanne but everyone always shortens it to Sue. Or they get it totally wrong and call me Susan.

          I used to be rather fussy about being called the right name. Then I met another Suzanne who’d have a total freakout if you called her Susan. I decided I didn’t want to ever come across like her. So now I’ll correct someone once. After that I didn’t really care if they get it right or not. I’d rather be called Susan than Bitch.

          1. Dan

            “…I’d rather be called Susan than Bitch.”

            I love it! :-D

            I have a short seemingly easy to pronounce last name, but very few people ever get it right. I applaud their effort when they try, but as long as they don’t call me a*hole I’m fine with it. Danny bugs me a little, but not enough to correct anyone.

            I think people who get upset over being called Dave, or Mike, or Jen, or some other common “nickname” don’t understand how they come accross when they repeatedly complain.

            Dan

              1. Dan

                No, no. I didn’t mean that. As others have said above, everyone has the right to go by whatever name the please; however, everyone else has the right to think people that complain about seemingly trivial things are a buzzkill.

                I choose to roll with it.

                1. Anon

                  But the thing is…to me it’s not trivial. My name is Margaret. It’s not Maggie, Marge, Meg, or whatever nickname someone decides to try using this week. It’s a boundary thing, I guess.

                  I know that some people think it’s “friendlier,” but I wish they try to understand that irritating me by not calling me what I really prefer to be called is not a way to be friendly. It’s a way to make me fantasize about creative ways to hide the body, actually…(not that I would ever do anything like that, of course!).

                  That said, I don’t metaphorically take anyone’s head off or anything. I just look at them and say some variation of “I prefer ‘Margaret'”. Or “That would be ‘Margaret,’ thanks” with maybe a frostier tone for repeat offenders. And I really try to call others what they prefer to be called, so at least I’m consistent!

                  And if someone wants to think of me as pretentious or unreasonable because of that…well, that’s their problem, and I won’t let them make it mine.

                2. Laura L

                  Yeah, I occasionally get Laurie or Lauren and I always correct people. I’ve also noticed that when I introduce myself to people, they think I’ve said Lauren instead of Laura (I think I mumble sometimes). But I always correct people. I also generally don’t answer when people call me either of those names because they aren’t my name. It’s easier on all of us if you just call me what I like and expect to be called.

          2. Anonymous

            I’m a Susan, and I either get Sue or Suzanne. I think I get the latter a lot because there are a few other Suzannes in my workplace so people are used to saying it.

        6. Elizabeth

          “Elizabeth” almost always gets shortened to either Liz or Beth.

          I go by Beth or Elizabeth (the latter when I’m dealing with vendors or the government, where a legal signature is necessary). There are a group of people who insist on shortening my name to Liz, despite every attempt to convince them otherwise.

          1. Just Beth

            But if your name is Beth people will try to elongate it, usually to Bethany but sometimes to Elizabeth. It seems to drive people crazy that they can’t give me a shortened nickname.

            When I worked at a call center I kept a list of all the wrong names I was called – Pat, Beck, Bath and my personal favorite Mrs. Bats.

        7. Jennifer O

          “This is totally true. Isn’t it interesting that it seems to apply only to male names? I can’t think of any female names where it’s as widespread.”

          What I’ve found fascinating over the years is the that male names tend to be shortened, whereas female names tend to be shortened but have a “y” added to them. I’ve heard most of the female names in this thread shortened this way:

          Jennifer > Jen > Jenny
          Kimberly > Kim > Kimmy
          Alison > Ally
          Sandra > Sandy
          Victoria > Vicky
          Jessica > Jess > Jessie
          Susan > Sue > Suzy

          And actually, as I write this, I realise that male names are also shortened with a “y” as well – but usually only in childhood. Timothy becomes Timmy until he gets older, at which point he becomes Tim. That doesn’t happen as much with female names (in my experience).

          1. Dan

            Right. I think that’s why I don’t really like Danny. It was fine when I was a kid, but I’m in my 40’s ferkrissakes!

            That said, I’ll still answer to Danny and not complain.

          2. Jamie

            I think it’s because names ending in Y or IE seem “cute” and that’s fine for kids and women but a lot of guys reach an age where they don’t like the taint of cuteness.

            And women can still embrace the cute without losing power. I told a woman director yesterday she had cute shoes, she told me my new haircut was so cute last week.

            When was the last time you heard two male executives refer to each other as cute, in any capacity?

            1. Jennifer O

              I absolutely agree that women can “own” embracing the cute without losing power.

              It seems in this thread, though, that a lot of commenters are advocating that people shouldn’t mind if others change their preferred name. I think names are important and that it’s important to call people by the name they want to be called. This is true of both men and women.

              Dave wrote, “But seemingly your parents knew that when they named their son Micheal, there’d be a natural inclination to shorten it to Mike. On some level, being named Michael signs you up for Mike along with it.”

              The corollary to this is that women are often signed up for “cute” names.

              It’s one thing to own and embrace the cuteness; it’s another to have it forced on you. “Cute” names are often used for both boys and girls, but boys “grow out” of their “cute” names.

              If a woman has chosen to use / keep her “cute” name, I say all power to her. She’s owning her identity.

              But if someone shortens a woman’s name to a “cute” name, I think that’s a different story. Because “cute” names are associated with children, it seems like there’s an element of disrespect there if one calls a woman by a “little girl” nickname. (Especially if she corrects them and they insist on using it.)

              I would say this is true for men as well – although often when we shorten men’s names, the names we shorten them to are at least considered men’s name (not “little boy” nicknames).

              As for women embracing “cute,” it’s possible for a woman can embrace “cute” without choosing to use a “cute” name. I’m Jennifer. Always have been (even when I was a little girl). Never Jenny. Ever.

              Even so, I can embrace cute. In fact, your “cute haircut” and “cute shoes” comment makes me think we work together. I just had that exchange with a coworker yesterday. :)

              1. Jamie

                I agree with every single thing you’ve said here.

                People should call people what they wish to be called – I don’t understand why that’s complicated.

                My point about women embracing the cuteness thing was just an observation about it’s perceived differently for men and woman. A grown woman can choose to go by Jenny all her life, become CEO, and not lose her power. Little Timmy will probably switch to Tim before his first set of business cards.

                People should just listen to how others introduce themselves (or sign their emails) and address them accordingly.

                1. Jennifer O

                  BTW – I know women who have diminutive names who are able to command respect and power. (Kiki, Debbie, and Annie come to mind right away.) Their “cute” names in no way diminish who they are or what they can accomplish.

                  I’d still assert, though, that they’ve chosen their names (which in itself is power).

                  I could have chosen to be called Jenny and still have created the same great career for myself. But I didn’t. I prefer Jennifer. So if/when someone calls me Jenny, it feels a bit disrespectful.

                  (Like others have said, it doesn’t even feel like my name. You may as well call me Sarah.)

      2. Thomas

        My first name is Thomas, and I’ve found that it’s even more universally shortened than some of the other names you listed. Probably because it doesn’t roll off the tongue, while Tom does with ease. I’ve always been Thomas, usually because there were a bunch of guys in class with me growing up named Tom or Tommy, and it was an easy differentiator.

        I have often wondered if people find it pretentious though. I usually tell people that I go by either Tom or Thomas (I’ll answer to either, though not Tommy), but it usually ends up defaulting to Thomas since they can tell that’s what I refer to myself as. I’m not sure if they find it pretentious or off-putting.

        1. Ivy

          I don’t think its pretentious or off-putting. It’s one thing for people to naturally call you Thomas because it’s what you naturally call yourself. It’s another thing to insist you be called Thomas when everyone wants to call you Tom.

          1. Victoria

            Why would that be “another thing”? Surely it’s up to each person – not the people who happen to use that person’s name – what they should be called.

            1. Ivy

              Thomas was worried that he might come off as pretentious. I agree that it is completely up to each individual what they would like to be called. It is also completely up to others whether or not they will find that individual pretentious for insisting on being called a certain way. People who insist on being called Thomas rather than Tom are at risk of appearing pretentious, whereas those who are called Thomas naturally are not.

              1. Anonymous

                It would come of as pretentious. In my humble opinion. I think sometimes you just have to roll with things.

              2. Vicki

                Excuse me, but what’s the difference between “insisting on being called Thomas” and “being called Thomas naturally”? How do you _get_ toi the latter without going though the former.

                His NAME is Thomas. It’s not Tom, Tommy, Tim, Timmy, or Thom. It’s Thomas.

                It’s far more pretentious for someone else to think they have a right to decide what to call a person.

                Note that I am deeply amused that directly below this comment is one from “Anonymous” stating that calling someone by the name they want to be called by is “pretentious’.

            2. Emily

              Eh, I view names as a sort of social thing not entirely under a person’s own control. Within a reasonable amount of variation, other people will shorten them because while you’re the one who has to answer to it they’re the ones who have to speak it. Every name works this way – just like folks will speak of MickyD’s instead of McDonald’s, Nashvegas instead of Nashville, and other non-human nicknames. It’s one of those things that’s easier to file under “not worth fighting” because it’s both so common it’s unlikely to change and so harmless it’s not worth changing.

              My birth name is Emily and I go by that in professional contexts. In social settings I introduce myself as Emie or Emily depending on my mood, but most social contacts call me Emie. There’s also a long list of people who call me “Em” even though I’ve never referred to myself that way. In my graduate department it was the convention that if folks liked you they’d call you by your last name, so I get called by my last name by all my grad school friends, even though I’ve never asked to be called by it. In my current office, what started out as the boss’s shorthand of just using our first initials in emails spread to the rest of the staff and eventually to our spoken language so I’m now called just “E” by my coworkers. I could go on (including a favorite high school teacher who got a kick out of M-E standing for Emie and always wrote my name that way out of affection). But none of this is worth the effort to push back against because I know there’s no malice in what they’re doing and I know they’re referring to me, so this really seems like a “who moved my cheese” type issue where it’s better for your mental peace and stress levels to just go with the flow. The only thing I correct is when people mis-hear Emie as Amy, because it’s different enough that it’s likely I won’t respond to that name if they try to use it.

              1. fposte

                “Eh, I view names as a sort of social thing not entirely under a person’s own control. ”

                I think that’s very well put. I eyeroll over being nicknamed, but I’m really not that worried about what they call the “me” space in their heads, you know?

              2. Malissa

                You are so right. Sometime around 30 I gave up even trying to care. I’ll pretty much answer to anything that starts with a M at this point. I still don’t get why people see my name and say Michelle…but I’ll even answer to that at this point.

                1. Michelle

                  OP here. I have gotten used to answering to Melissa (or Malissa) too. I don’t mind that one much, because it indicates that the person did TRY to remember my name, and was close, but simply forgot.

        2. Charles

          Thomas, Yep, some folks will think that it is pretentious. But, that’s their flaw, not yours.

          Once I had a woman, who after being introduce to me – Charles – asked me if I didn’t prefer Charlie, Chuck, or Chas. as Charles sounded “too formal.” (her words)

          I told her that Charles is what I go by; but if she insisted on calling me something else then she ran the risk of me not realizing that she was talking to me. But, I added, feel free to call me anything you want; just don’t call me late for dinner!

          P.S., for some other folks who have said that Charles was too formal I have said, “well, at least my name isn’t Charles Emerson Winchester, the third” (spoken with the proper Boston accent.)

          1. Dan

            You’re right, it is “their flaw, not yours”. But you’re the one affected if everyone in the office thinks you’re a pretentious PITA.

      3. Liz T

        Ugh, I feel bad for your boss. My boyfriend is a David Jr., and his father goes by Dave. Whenever someone calls my David “Dave” I feel weird.

      4. KayDay

        I’ve noticed that in recent years, (e.g. as my generation has children) a lot of the new parents have been insisting on their kids being called by their full name. Of the babies/children I know there is are: “Micheal not Mike,” “Nathaniel not Nathan nor Nate,” “Kimberly not Kim,” and “Jackson not Jack”.

        Considering how the children are introduced, I sometimes wonder if their birth certificates actually say “Michael not Mike”

        1. K.

          One of my favorite names for a boy is Gabriel – but I don’t like the name Gabe at all, so if I had a son and named him Gabriel I would totally be that mother all “Gabriel not Gabe.” And I’ve never met a Gabriel who didn’t go by Gabe, so people would probably call me pretentious behind my back.

          1. Jamie

            I think parents have to take this into account when naming a child, especially for the super common nicknames like you are describing.

            I love the name Patrick so much and it was in contention when I was picking names for both my sons, but I just couldn’t do it since I really didn’t like the nickname Pat. I knew it would happen and it would be an endless battle.

            My daughter, on the other hand, has the perfect solution for people calling you by the wrong name and she didn’t even come up with it intentionally. Her first name has a million nicknames, but she never uses it as she has gone by a nickname derived from her middle name since birth. So she just doesn’t answer to any of the thousand nicknames for her first name. Teachers would call her Maggie or Meg and she’s be oblivious … who? They’d figured out really fast that if you want to get her attention it’s best to use her name.

            1. GeekChic

              That’s actually what I do. I use the shortened form of my name and do not react or respond to the long form of my name.

              I’ve had teachers, co-workers and family say (after what I learned was several minutes of trying to attract my attention using the long form of my name) “Why didn’t you answer me / pay attention?” My response: “You weren’t using my name so I assumed you weren’t talking to me.” Usually fixed the issue quite quickly.

        2. Anonymous

          I know it was a typo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a “Micheal not Michael” out there somewhere!

            1. Jamie

              I knew one, too – but he pronounced it Michael.

              It has to be hard going through life with the world thinking your name is a typo.

        3. EM

          I named my son Michael, and we call him by his full name. I’m sure at some point the kids at school will call him “Mike”, and I’m okay with that. But as his mother, I reserve the right to call him “Michael” until I die. :)

      5. michael

        i don’t think that it’s pretentious to want to be called by the name that you introduce yourself to someone as.

        i think it is terribly forward to assume that someone is OK with being called by whatever nickname that you assume is appropriate.

        1. anon

          My brother’s given name is Timothy, but we’ve called him Timmy his whole life. Everyone in our town knew that his name was Timmy so it was never an issue, but now that he’s in college he is constantly having to deal with people wanting to call him Tim. He HATES the name Tim, so he just refuses to answer. He’s had people tell him before that Timmy sounds unprofessional or like a child’s name, but he is probably the most confident person I’ve ever met, so it doesn’t really phase him.

    3. Nikki

      My first name (which as you will see is not Nikki) can be shortened to Millie. . .it was kinda rough when Milli-Vanilli came out. Fortunately I was in middle school (I think) and didn’t have to suffer through the workplace with it.
      But eeeevery now and then, someone will call me that, sigh.

      1. Lesley

        Mine chronically gets shortened to Les or Lez (which I also hate from rough middle school name play). I’ve also had a few people nickname me Lester…which, because of the particular people (a cousin, a grandfatherly-type shipping guy at my first work place, and a childhood friend), I never minded. At the work place, one of my coworkers actually told me I should tell him to knock it off, but I was like “It’s a sign that I can turn in my mail late and it will still go out on time! I’m not messing that up!”
        When I was a kid, my mom used to get annoyed at my grandma for pronouncing my name with an s sound instead of a z sound…even though I always liked the way grandma said it best.

    4. Kimberlee

      I have the opposite problem… I really do try to go by Kimberlee professionally, but Kim is so damn easy that I always refer to myself as that. It will never go away. :)

      1. starts & ends with A

        I have an unusual name (not particularly difficult) but people are really accustomed to seeing/hearing names they are familiar with, that they transpose the letters and call me something different. Throughout school I got used to answering to anything that began and ended with an A and was often just garbage in between. There were so many mis-pronunciations that I let it go, and generally don’t correct people who are putting emphasis on the wrong syllables unless they ask. I correct people who mangle it and I correct people who do a common mix-up of the letters and call me something more common. That said, there was a receptionist at one job who must have been dyslexic (she screwed up my name & everyone else’s) and I just gave up on her.

        1. Dan

          No need to reply, but I’m really really curious as to what your name could be – there are several possibilities of course. I’m sure I’ll be rolling it around in my head all day. Thanks :-)

  5. Camellia

    For #3 – You say your boss isn’t in the department enough to assess your goals. I say you need to “toot your own horn” a bit. Perhaps a weekly email to your boss with a list of your current goals and the progress you have made on each one. You can even add a section for what you plan to accomplish in the upcoming week.

    It keeps your boss informed on a regular basis so that he DOES know how to assess your goals and performance and is outstanding documentation for reviews.

    1. ITforMe

      This is similar to what I was going to say. If he is going to ask around for opinions, then it is only fair that you also get to make your case. Even if you don’t do a weekly update, you should have the opportunity to put together a one-page “year in review” that highlights your accomplishments.

  6. Lisa

    Re: #3…….our performance appraisal system is the exact same way, and our boss is a jerk. And clueless. And a moron. But I digress – I’ve had the same issues with my performance evaluation. Unfortunately, he will never change, so until I change jobs, I’m stuck with it. He has no idea what I do, so he solicits feedback from my peers and then evaluates me based directly (and solely) on that. I have objected to some of his comments, though – respectfully – and ask that he change/remove them (which he has).

  7. Anonymous

    #2-My name is rarely, if ever, pronounced correctly. I’ve learned to accept whatever variations I get. Even my nickname that I gave up in high school when I embraced the awesomeness of my full name. I’ve had people argue with me that my name is really just a version of Kathy. No, no it’s not. I tend to think of nicknames as a sign of closeness. And really, is this something you want to stress over?

    1. Tamara

      This is exactly my experience. At this point, I actually respond to all 3 pronunciations of my first name. I barely notice anymore, because I lost the battle so long ago… I also feel that nicknames are a sign of closeness. Unfortunately, my email address at work was entered in with my nickname, and despite constantly using my true name, I still have outside contacts calling me “Tammy” because of that. It periodically gets on my nerves, but it’s not something worth stressing over, as you said – especially when I often refer to myself that way. To be fair though, I’m rather close with myself :)

      1. Anonymous

        I can always tell how long someone has known me by which name they call me. I had one coworker mispronounce my name (it came out at Ka-tia) because he had his supervisor call me that since she has a very heavy Turkish/Arabic accent. Even when I would answer my phone correctly with my name, he would still say it wrong. I just laugh. And I get a kick out of how people can screw up my name.

  8. Anonymous

    To OP #2,

    I totally hear you. My name has several nicknames, all of which my mother taught me as a child to never accept. Your name is quite common; mine not so much. However, there is a Hollywood name with the same name (and if I ask people “Do you know who she is?” they say yes), and people just don’t equate it in their mind. Unfortunately, I work with people who do know my name, and they get it right when they decide they are going to be nice that day. But when they are having their nasty mood streaks, they cannot save their own lives by getting my name right. I don’t know what I have ever done to those people, but they feel to take it out on my name. It’s obviously done out of spite. Luckily, they have not done this in a while now, but the next time they do, I won’t answer them. I don’t accept those nicknames so I’m not going to answer something that is not my own name. I have many friends and acquaintances who can totally get my name straight.

    Sure you can ignore it, but you are allowing people to get away with it. Your name is the first and most important part of your identity. Why should other people dictate what you are called in that sense? It’s like when people who just say “hey you” and don’t bother to learn a name at all.

    1. fposte

      I’m with Dave here, I think. I think there’s a real difference between not bothering to learn your name and not remembering the pronunciation/preference exactly,and I really don’t agree that the latter is necessarily a sign of disrespect. People get confused because they know lots of other people with lots of names, some of which are kind of like yours and mine but a little bit different (I bet Alison can speak to this on a spelling level :-)), and lots of people have a hard time with names, period–my father was one of them. It’s just at work we can’t get by with endearments instead, so it’s more obvious.

      I’m mostly not called by my exact name, as I mention above, and I understand the annoyance. But I can’t agree with you about the name being the most important part of my identity, and I don’t think relegating a mistake there to lower importance is letting somebody get away with anything.

      1. Anonymous

        If you knew the people I work with, then you would agree with me that it is a sign of disrespect.

        I don’t think it should be confusing if you just go along with how the person introduces themselves. If someone says, “Hi, my name is David,” then that’s what I call them. If he introduces himself as “Dave,” then “Dave” it is.

        As for disagreeing with me about the name being the most important part of your identity, then you need to study some history. It’s the most basic (and most important) part of your identity; if that is stripped from you and you’re only given a number to go by, then who are you? How about children who are kidnapped and are forced to go by new names? I know this sounds extreme, but our parents give us our names, and I believe that people should respect that.

        Maybe like what Dave wrote above that those who are a bit stubborn about their names come across as presumptuous. But really, who gives other people the right to change it? Confused or not?

        1. Jamie

          Maybe some people’s names have that level of importance to them, but it’s by no means universal that it’s the most important part of our identity.

          Many women change surnames upon marriage, that doesn’t strip us of any part of our identity. Many people change their names for various reasons, but that does change who you are as a person.

          I absolutely agree that we should address people by their preferred name. But for many that isn’t necessarily the names as given by our parents. Or even what they called us…I don’t think my father called me by my real name more than a handful of times in my entire life – but that doesn’t mean I’d want the people at work using my childhood nickname which he used with such affection.

          Being called the wrong name is irritating, but it doesn’t have any affect on who you are.

          1. Anonymous

            You turned it into general truths when I had been talking from my own experience from the start. Many people talk from experience on here.

            Basically what I have been trying to say is that your parents/guardians gave you a name, and that is yours until you die. You can do whatever you want with it, including changing it if you really don’t like it. But in my opinion, that’s solely your decision and it includes nicknames. If I don’t like my name to be halved, then I shouldn’t have to worry about others using any name but the name that’s on my birth certificate. If I introduce myself with the shorten name, then that gives those the liberty to use it. If I don’t, then they can either ask or not use it at all.

            I like my full name. It’s not unheard of but at the same time, I’m most likely to be the only person in the room with it. With just two syllables, it’s not all that difficult to pronounce.

            As for the whole name being your identity: People, in the past (such as the Holocaust), were stripped of their identities and given numbers for “names.” A museum I had worked for stated that it is a fundamental piece of your identity – which then branches out to your family, community, and beyond. Perhaps it’s a lesson I took to heart. But once again, I’m talking by experience whereas you’re talking in “general truths.” Please don’t argue with me on this as I’m not out to prove anyone wrong.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I think Jamie was responding to the fact that the comment was worded in way that sounded like you were talking about a universal experience. You wrote, “As for disagreeing with me about the name being the most important part of your identity, then you need to study some history. It’s the most basic (and most important) part of your identity…”

              So I don’t think it came across clearly that you were speaking only of the way you personally experience it.

              1. Jamie

                That is exactly the portion of the comment to which I was responding.

                I have no desire to argue about anyone’s personal experiences – our personal beliefs are as individual as we are. I read your comment as a general pronouncement, which is what triggered my response.

        2. fposte

          I didn’t say that you’re not being treated with disrespect, I said that mispronunciation is not necessarily a sign of disrespect. I think you’re conflating your personal views and experiences with general truths here.

          I, for instance, use a different name here than in face to face life, but I feel my identity is pretty intact when I’m typing. And in fact I was stripped of my name in my youth, and I’m not seeing it as annihilation, and it’s up to me to say that, just as it’s up to you to judge what’s going on in your workplace.

          The fact that it’s important to you is a good enough reason for people to try to get your name right.

        3. Dan

          “”If you knew the people I work with, then you would agree with me that it is a sign of disrespect…”

          Yes, it I agree, it can definitely be a sign of disrespect. I’ve used it.

          Years ago I worked with a guy that was kind of an arrogant twit. Despite being the new guy, he acted like he knew it all and it was a bit annoying. His last name was “Chan” and I would have him paged on the overhead system as “Chang”. I knew it made him mad; that’s why I did it. Yeah, it was juvenile, but to this day, it makes me laugh when I think about it :-D

          On the other hand, his reaction gave me the power to screw with him on a regular basis. Why would he give me that power? Because he was a twit.

          Dan

          1. Anonymous

            Sure, the guy might have been an “arrogant twit.” I’m not making excuses for anything he might have done. But in reality, since you stooped low enough – and made the effort – to make sure his name was mispronounced, the real twit in this situation is you. You got a couple of minutes of jollies because you were able to anger him over his name? That’s immature. I’d expect to see that in middle school, maybe high school. Not in the professional workforce amongst supposed mature adults.

            In my workplace, I don’t know why these couple of people decided to not get my name straight, but one of them was “honest” enough to say that she would never get my name straight. Yes, it did cross my mind to start changing her name to get the point across after trying to give her some pointers on how to remember it, but instead, I took the higher road.

            1. Dan

              Haha, yeah, you’re right, it was immature. I was young and stupid. I’m not so young anymore, but it still makes me laugh :-)

          2. Liz

            This phone trick was really a sucker punch. You got to flaunt your disrespect for him, but without giving him a chance to respond in kind or do anything but take it.

            It’s your business and you can decide where you draw the line in treating people, but that lack of fairness is probably why some people aren’t laughing with you.

      2. Cassie

        I agree with you – especially if you have a lot of coworkers not familiar with names commonly found in the US. We have a staffer named Rochelle, and people frequently call her Rachel. I’ve heard (from another coworker) that she hates being called Rachel but she never corrects anyone. If someone mentions Rochelle to me, I do correct them.

        Some people just are not good with names or hearing where the accents on names (and words, for that matter) should be. Sure, it would be nice if they could take the 20 seconds to focus, but in the whole scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal.

  9. B

    #2 I correct people right away when they call me a nickname. I very nicely state “Oh can you please not call me that. It is a nickname I just never use and do not particularly like”.

    1. Dave

      Is the nickname a shortened version of your name, or some unrelated thing?

      If it’s some unrelated thing (like Sport or Tiger), then sure, go ahead and correct.

      But if it’s just a shortened version of your name, why don’t you like it?

      (Not saying you’re wrong. You’re entitled to your own feelings on what you’re called. I’m just curious as to why. Being someone who has never cared about called David or Dave, I often wonder about why some people do care.)

      1. Victoria

        I can’t speak for B, but I feel strongly (as I mentioned above) about my name and various nicknames.

        I’ve never been called Vicky (except by people who assume it’s what I go by); my parents never used it as an endearment or a nickname. It’s not my name, just as much as Susan isn’t my name.

      2. Steeeeeellllllaaaaa

        I feel for the OP of #2. As you can see from my username, I get the “Streetcar Named Desire” thing a lot. Whenever I get it, I just give the person an “okay, wise guy” look and say nothing. This usually produces an “oh, you must get that a lot” and a blush. I recommend this for the Beatles offender.

        As for nicknames, I also feel for you, OP. They don’t bother some people, but they do bother others. I think I personally find them nettlesome because so few people outside of work use a nickname with me that I simply expect to be called Stella, and if you shorten it, then I feel like the person is assuming a level of familiarity that we don’t necessarily have. I’m not consciously thinking this every time I bristle at being called “Stells” (I had a coworker who did so ad nauseam), but I think that’s the root of the annoyance. I mean, if even my BFF doesn’t shorten my name (and it’s only two syllables, so it’s not that hard), why would you as a coworker do it?

        But, habits are pretty hard to break. I think you get to state a preference once, and after that you just have to deal, because it’s an annoyance but not a big enough deal to make it worth arguing about.

        1. Jamie

          “if you shorten it, then I feel like the person is assuming a level of familiarity that we don’t necessarily have.”

          For me it depends on the relationship. If it’s someone I don’t know well or like, I bristle as well. If someone at work calls me Jame or James it’s kind of a signal that we’re work friends as opposed to just co-workers…and if I like them I don’t mind at all.

          I’m just glad I’m not offended by misspellings, because most people will default to Jaimie, Jaime, or even Jamey no matter how many hundreds of emails they’ve gotten from me with the correct spelling.

        2. Eileen

          People frequently burst out into “Come on Eileen” upon learning my name. I usually try to make a joke about them being very original/never heard that one before, and it usually doesn’t happen again past the first meeting. Do you let people know it drives you crazy? I basically ignore the guy who sings every time he sees me, and he’s almost stopped doing it because I don’t give him a reaction.

        1. Dave

          I don’t think I would mind. But I guess I can’t say for sure because no one has ever called me that at work.

          But that’s the thing–there’s a reason why no one’s ever called me Davy at work. Shortening David to Dave is “a thing”, but shortening David to Davy is not “a thing”.

          Sure, some people decided to go by Davy thus get called Davy. And I suppose someone trying to be cute may call someone Davy without prior consent. But that’s different than the auto-shortened nature of names like David->Dave.

      3. Anonymous

        But if it’s just a shortened version of your name, why don’t you like it?

        Because it’s not my name, short and sweet.

        Furthermore, people confuse my name with another name that is similar but obviously different. And then, they shorten it even further, and I just don’t like how it sounds. I like my name as a whole.

      4. Kristen not Kris

        In my case the shortened version of my name is simply not my name and I won’t respond because it’s not my name – not in stubborn refusal but because I assume you’re talking to some guy named Chris. On the very rare occasion I choose to go by a nickname (for example another Kristin on my softball team, I go by my initials). So when someone says “Chris” its just as much not my name as “Sheila” is.

        It’s probably a background thing. My parents never shortened my name. I never went by “Kris” in school in some part maybe because in my very small class in elementary school there was also a Crissy (short for Christine) and Kristie.

        Side note: My brother’s name is Daniel and that’s what all the family calls him – not Dan or Danny. I think he got some friends shortening his name in school, but to us he’s Daniel so my parent’s probably make a conscious or not so consious choice not to call us my nick names. So I’d guess that early life, family influence can play a big part on what name you associatewith your identity.

        If someone insists on using a nickname that you don’t identify with, it feels just as disrepectful as getting your name wrong on purpose all the time. I know that may not be the intent but it feels like that.

        OTOH I do not get annoyed when someon trips up and has trouble remembering it “Kristen” and not “Kirsten.” I’ve never had anyone I deal with regularly get it wrong too consistantly. Also my family name looks easy to pronounce, but we use a foreign and uncommon pronunciation which people have a difficult time with. In that case, I do my best to train the people I meet who may have occassion to use my last name (co-workers) when I start a new job or meet new people, and then let it go. People can usually get close, but they don’t really get the French/Cajun accent quite right and are still off. I think most Americans simply cannot even hear it.

        1. Kristen not Kris

          Wow! Wrote a novel! :) You’d think I have problems with this and am angry about it, but I am not. People are usually polite. New acquantiences will often ask if I go by Kris and I say “no.”

          Related to this I worked with a guy named “Thomas.” He signed his email “Thomas” and answered the phone “Thomas speaking” so I called him that since that what he called himself. A lot of our peers called him Tom (to my knowledge he never objected), but someone called me out for sounding so formal and I just said that’s what he calls himself.

          Actually sounding so formal was accompanied by “you sound like you’re talking to a slave” so I felt a little reluctant calling him Thomas after that. (All parties in this situation were white thankfully.) But that’s what he called himself.!

          1. Lexy

            Yeah… I always call people what they call themselves.
            I mean… what else are you supposed to do?

          2. Kristine

            +1 on hearing people say “Kris” and thinking they’re looking for some guy named Chris. I know a woman or two who’ve gone by Chris, but in my lizard brain, it’s a predominantly male name. (No doubt that it’s because there are so many more guys named Chris than women in my age group.)

      5. Lexy

        It is really quite rude to call someone a name they don’t go by just because you feel like it.

        My given name if Alexis (and I go by Alexis at work), and much like Kristen I don’t go by Al or Alex and won’t respond to you if you call me that. It’s not because I’m trying to get on my high horse it is because literally no one who has gotten to know me even in the slightest would call me Al or Alex.

        I respond readily to Lex or Lexy, most people who know me well call me Lex or Lexy so if I hear it I assume someone is talking to me. Even then, it’s a very familiar name and I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable when someone calls me that in a professional context. I’ll respond but I’ll be uncomfortable.

        Now I do think there’s a difference between mispronunciation of a name and shortening a name. Many names have multiple spellings and pronunciations and it can be hard to remember exactly which one you’re dealing with, especially if names are something you struggle with at all. My name isn’t particularly hard to pronounce but sometimes I get “Alexia” or something and I’ll usually let it slide and try to work the correct pronunciation into conversation so I don’t embarrass someone.

        But if I introduce myself as Alexis and you say “Hey, nice to meet you Al” you will get a tense smile and an “Actually, it’s Alexis, thank you”. Taking that sort of liberty with what you call a person is SO rude. What exactly gives you the right to decide what to call a grown person who clearly tells you what their name is?

        1. AnotherAlison

          It’s funny how we all have different preferences. I don’t mind “Al” one bit. (The alternative nickname would be Ali, and I’m not a fan of that.) Growing up, a friend’s dad called me Big Al, which was just amusing, esp since I’m not big. My mom would sometimes call me Alberto the Mousse, after the hair product.

          1. Lexy

            Exactly! That’s why it’s totally best to just let people decide what they get to be called and go with that… there’s just too many ways that “giving” (forcing) a nickname can be AWFUL for someone… just call them what they introduce themselves as and you won’t be an ass.

      6. Anonymous

        My given name is Amanda. It gets shortened to Mandy occasionally. Like it or not, people associate Mandy with bimbos and pornos and young children. I get treated very, very differently by people who call me Mandy. Using Mandy professionally tends to be like wearing pigtails and a short skirt to work (YMMV).

        To make matters more complicated, I’ve gone by an unrelated nickname for most of my life, so I have a bit of trouble responding to either my given name or the hated nickname.

        1. Another Amanda

          Yes. I am actually offended if you take it upon yourself to call me Mandy. If someone asks, I will kindly tell thim in no uncertain terms that I absolutely will not answer to Mandy. If you take it upon yourself to just call me Mandy, you will be met with the sound of crickets and maybe a blink or two. Of course if you are a little old lady or man or small child, I will let you pass with a warning (I am not completley unreasonable..;) )

      7. Anon

        My first name is “Margaret.” And I refuse, absolutely refuse, to respond to Meg, Maggie, Marge, Peggy, etc., etc.

        I like being called “Margaret.” I don’t like being called any of those other things. I don’t think I need a reason for that preference…and since it’s my name, I think my preference overrides the preference of those who think it’s ok to shorten it without asking me.

        (And yes, I’ve had this conversation with people way too many times.) I’ll “give” on a number of things to keep peace in the workplace, but this issue isn’t one of them. For those who ask (making the argument that nicknames are somehow “friendlier”), I take pleasure in informing them that even my parents, my husband, and my best friend call me “Margaret” when actually using my name, or they use endearments.

        I’ve never understood how re-naming me is somehow supposed to be a friendly gesture.

        1. Lexy

          My grandmother was a Margaret who also hated any nicknames! Her sisters called her Maggie, but they were the only ones (and I suspect were also the source of her hatred of nicknames).

          I think it’s a family trait of the women in my line, we all prefer our full names thank you very much.

        2. Anonymous

          I’m a Margaret who hates being called Margaret and much prefers Maggie. I’ve been Maggie since birth! I do get a lot of “Wake up Maggie, I think I’ve got something to say to youuuu! Hey, has anyone ever called you Maggie May? Like the Rod Stewart song! Hey!” Uh, gee no, no one has ever thought up that one before, so clever! Thankfully I don’t have a lot of people calling me “Mags” in the workplace. That’s for friends only. Actually, my tolerance for a cutesy nickname is directly correlated with how much I like (or dislike) you!

          1. Anon

            :-) – if we were to meet in real life, I’d be sure to remember to call you Maggie. I just don’t want to be called that myself!

            I really don’t understand people who seem to think that “well, I know 2 people who like to be called Marge, so everyone named Margaret must want to be called Marge.” It seems, well…lazy. I can understand slipping once in awhile, but it just seems polite to make an effort to remember when politely corrected.

      8. Rana

        Because it reminds me of childhood teasing? There’s really only a couple of variations you can do with my name (it’s not a name normally turned into a nickname) and one of them happens to be easily exchanged with a less pleasant word.

        (Note: “Rana” is just my nom de blogs, not my actual name.)

        Or, in the case of my husband, he’s known several unpleasant people with a particular short version of his name, so if you call him by that , he doesn’t think “me” but “that horrible kid” or “that annoying guy.”

  10. Rachel

    Hmmmmmm. Re: #2, I’d say you’re right, Alison. I wonder, though, about the added complexity of this being a young woman having her name mangled by older male coworkers (if I’m reading the post correctly). It may call for a firmer hand, as I suspect the nicknames are not entirely unintentional.

    1. Elise

      That was what I picked up on too. I rather expect these same men don’t refer to her as a “woman” but as a “girl” when she comes up in conversation. And names ending with an ee sound tend to be more cutsy and less professional sounding than other names. Men’s shortened names don’t often end in an ee sound beyond grade school.

      Thomas goes to Tom but not often Tommy.
      Michael goes to Mike but not often Mikey.

      Women’s name often get shortened to the younger sounding cuter version, even in professional settings:
      Michelle/Shelly, Rebecca/Becky, Elizabeth/Lizzy, Deborah/Debbie, etc.

      That’s fine when you are choosing to do that with your own name, but can be an indicator of disrespect if it’s someone else who just refuses to call you your chosen professional name.

      Not really much you can do beyond letting them know you don’t use that name, but I wouldn’t just see it as completely harmless.

    2. Alisha

      Alisha is not really my name. But my real name is often changed to a diminutive form by older men. I don’t answer to it. I reserve the right to my boundaries.

  11. Charles

    #1 – Yep, AAM is right. OP, you really don’t have anything to negoiate on. Count your blessings – they gave you a salary range. Go with that. Considering this job market count yourself lucky if they hire you. Negotiating for a better salary will come later in your career. For now you need to get other things from work such as paid experience.

    #2 – The fact that they think they are being “cute” isn’t your problem so don’t let it be.

    I’m guessing that a lot of folks reading AAM might be too young to remember the Starfish tuna commercials from decades ago: “Sorry Charlie, only the best tasting tuna get to be Starkist” said in a rather obnoxious voice I canot tell you how many times (thousands, at least!) that I heard “sorry Charlie”in that tone of voice from folks. Everytime, each one of the idiots who said this thought they were being original. Ha! They all thought I was laughing with them when in reality I was laughing AT them for their stupidity. I guess for a lot of them my “wow, how original” response just went way over their heads. Try to ignore them; they really won’t get it.

    #3 – “Sorry Charlie,” OP and, especially AAM, I’m surprised that you didn’t recognize this as part of a 360 degree review.

    OP, what is wrong with your Boss asking co-workers for their opinion of your work? As you state, he isn’t around that much so why not seek advice from those who are? This is a part of 360 degree reviews; it is not “hearsay”!

    He is doing the right thing in NOT telling you who he spoke with – they gave their input with the understanding that it was to be confidential. And just why, OP, do you want to know the WHO?

    Ask yourself, if, perhaps, maybe you aren’t “standoff-ish.” If folks feel like you are difficult to approach then that will affect work. Bonding with co-workers does help in making the work flow progress much more smoothly. Are you a part of this or does your “too busy to engage in small talk” hamper the work flow? Since this review does not affect your raise I would suggest that you reflect on the “below expectations” and see if you cannot improve those areas instead of trying to challenge the boss’s “methods.”

    #7 – “sorry Charlie,” But AAM is right you cannot be the “big idea” person without getting the detail. Remember the saying “the devil is in the details”? Screws up the big idea every time.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      On #3, it could be a 360 review, but she says it’s about meeting her goals, which doesn’t sound to me like a 360 — whether or not she’s met her goals should be really clear to her boss. (Now, maybe she’s in an internal customer service position and her goals are things about helpful she is to people around her, but if that were the case, I assume it would be clear to her that her coworkers’ assessments would be needed.)

      1. Anonymous

        I can give very clear reviews on my co-workers because though our goals are different, they affect one another. It might not be so strange as we think, but without knowing what industry this is in, it’s hard to tell.

      2. Jamie

        This is what I thought. I was under the impression that 360 reviews are a more formalized thing where a sampling is taken of people with differing interaction levels and they are put together to see a whole picture.

        This sounds more like peer input into a performance review, to me.

        That said, I’m not sure how much socializing has to do with it. I small talk very few people at work, but I could (and have) given a fair and sometimes glowing reviews of people with whom I’ve never had an extraneous conversation. I base my feedback on the quality and timeliness of the portion of their work which affects my job.

        1. Anonna Miss

          I discreetly asked my staff’s coworkers about a newly promoted intern supervisor. She gets her technical work done and is great at it, but part of her new role is to teach and develop people, and she is… not so great at it. I found out that she was (somewhat rudely) telling interns that she was too busy to help them, and gloated a tiny bit when she emailed them that she found any errors they made. The interns ended up spinning their wheels and taking stabs in the dark at how to do the work, the team supervisor spent a lot (over)time fixing the work before I saw it, and acting like a teacher’s pet about it when telling the interns about errors she found. (Remember the one who would ask how you did on a test, and then would loftily announce that they scored two points higher? Like that.) Plus everyone ended up spending too much time getting the work done, and rancor has started to build.

          Now I have to coach the team supervisor to be more helfpul, and be a lot nicer about it if a new hire made an error, since her job is to review and catch errors, and an intern’s job is to make errors and learn from it. I also have to directly help the interns a lot more, even though they’re a notch uncomfortable dealing with someone three levels up from them. (The interns are too new to realize that her behavior isn’t quite kosher, since they have nothing to compare it to, or are too intern-nice to complain. Of coure, I don’t want to criticize their supervisor in front of them.)

          The point is, the team supervisor is getting all the technical work done, in that it’s coming to me error free. But being “too busy” and difficult to ask questions is still a very large problem, that I need to know about. Since I’m down the hall and haven’t spent the first half of the year eavesdropping, I had to ask, or I wouldn’t know.

    2. Anonymous

      I guess for a lot of them my “wow, how original” response just went way over their heads

      That reminds me of one of Sir Humphrey’s better put-downs…. Hacker has just made a rather weak joke:
      [Hacker]: I expect all new ministers say that.
      [Sir H]: Oh no minister! beat Not all of them.

    3. The OP

      No it was not a 360 review. The standards my boss was assessing were the rather soft ones such as “displays a positive attitude”. He lacked any specifics because he is not in the department. Therefore I wanted to know who gave negative reviews in order to improve. My position is very different from others in the department. Last Tuesday, someone posted their co-workers would not stop talking. I have very similar problems. I suspect I have received this reputation because I have (politely) said I need to attend to X now and ended conversations.

      That being said, I did participate in a 360 review well after my last performance evaluation. I will mention again my position is different from others and sometimes unpopular as I have to say “no” fairly often. The results from the 360 were consistent with my performance eval. All of 5 people responded out of more than the 50 I work with. Yet no specifics are given and participants are anonymous. So how am I to improve?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        In 360s, it’s normal not to be told who said what, since otherwise people won’t be candid. However, you can ask your boss to go back to those people and solicit additional information that he can share with you (not their identities, but more specifics).

        You should also talk with your boss about your beliefs about the reasons for this, since you two should be on the same page about that.

  12. AG

    #1 – the only things you’re going to have as a negotiating tools coming out of college are a.) its a company you’ve interned with 2 or 3 summers in a row, or b.) competing offers. The fact that the job you’re applying for has a range might even imply that they’re looking for an experience hire. Most entry level jobs I’ve seen come with a salary scale that’s non-negotiable. The range is usually a budget set aside in case it takes extra to pry an experience hire away from another company.

    #7 – With all due respect what job *doesn’t* require “attention to detail?” In this economy it doesn’t take much to get branded unemployable, so perhaps you can pick a weakness that’s totally irrelevant to the job and then discuss how you’re improving on that rather than on detail. Heck you might even want to talk about how you’re improving on detail without labeling it a weakness even.

    1. KayDay

      #7: – That’s about what I was thinking. Attention to detail is one of those things all (or almost all) jobs require, to varying degrees, like showing up on time.

      I actually commend the OP for being really honest with his/herself and admitting that it isn’t his/her strong suit, as pretty much everyone claims to be really detail-oriented, even if they aren’t. Unfortunately, being this honest with employers will only hurt. Instead, the OP should just use the interview to see how much detail-oriented-ness is required, and choose jobs wisely.

      Also, in my experience, many people are more attentive to details in some areas than other; I’ve only met a handful of people who are super detail-oriented across the board.

      1. Jamie

        “Also, in my experience, many people are more attentive to details in some areas than other; I’ve only met a handful of people who are super detail-oriented across the board.”

        The flip side of this is I’ve worked with a couple of people who admitted they were not detail oriented and both used to term big idea person to describe themselves. My experience has left me with the impression that this was code for being fine with other people doing the real work while they sat around waiting for inspiration.

        I’m not saying all big idea people are like that, but everyone I’ve ever known who described themselves in those terms was an absolute nightmare as a colleague. If you don’t pick another weakness I would suggest at least making it quiet clear that you don’t see lack of attention to detail as some kind of badge of honor.

          1. Anonymous

            Like pigeons, they make a lot of noise, flap around a lot, and leave a big mess when they depart.

          2. Kathryn T.

            After volunteering with a large arts organization for the past seven years, I’ve decided that you lose exactly nothing if you mentally translate “I’m a big ideas person, I don’t do so well with details” as “I love to brainstorm and dream, but I don’t have the passion or focus to make anything actually happen.”

        1. Anonymous

          Related: by all means dream up big ideas, but when you get objections citing the second law of thermodynamics, don’t dismiss them as irrelevant technical jargon. You’ll find that I have a well-honed withering look – and a strong sideline in contemptuous gazes.

      2. Anonymous

        Thanks for the response. I agree, everyone thinks they are awesome with details, but I’ve only met a handful that truly are. I’ll pick another weakness. God knows I have plenty.

  13. Xay

    #2 – I understand your pain. I have a non-Western first name that people try desperately to shorten. I even had one supervisor decide to call me by my Western middle name instead of using my first name because they decided that my first name was too hard to pronounce.

  14. danr

    #2… how about being called a completely different name? My full name is Daniel, and I’ve been addressed as David many times and more than a few of those times were when a name was being read off of a list.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      No, in that case, I’d think you should correct them — in part because they’re going to be embarrassed if they later realize they’ve been calling you by the wrong name the whole time.

      1. danr

        I’ve corrected them immediately, or just after privately depending on the situation. Sometimes they remember and sometimes they don’t.

        1. zayq

          I wonder if this happens more often when someone is reading a name without looking at the person the name refers to. My name has a masculine and feminine version pronounced slightly differently, and every so often I get the masculine name…and a prompt apology once they see me.

    2. Anonymous

      On national television, Al Roker called Savannah Guthrie “Samantha.” She called him out right there too!

    3. anon

      Ha! My parents have a running joke about this exact thing. When my dad (Daniel) signs his name, it looks for all the world like he wrote “David.” My mom always teases that she gets these wonderful cards and gifts from some stranger named David, but nothing from my dad. Of course, that’s not in a professional setting. I’ve just never heard of another Daniel being mistaken for a David. :)

  15. Catherine/Kate/Cait/Katie/Cathy/Kat/Kitty?

    #2: If people are simply pronouncing your name wrong, just kindly correct them–I found out after 2.5 years that I was pronouncing a co-workers name wrong the whole time (I found out when she introduced herself to someone in ear shot of me) and was really embarrassed. For unwanted (but common) nicknames, such as Shelly, just say that you prefer to go by your full name and hope for the best. People sometimes call me Cathy even though I have said I don’t go by it :( For the Beatles guy, I would use a very short “Could you please call me by my name?”

    1. Nodumbunny

      Can I hijack this part of the thread a little? I just started working with/for someone who is originally from an Eastern European country and while I’ve successfully learned to pronounce his name with the emphasis on the right syllable, I just yesterday heard him say his name to someone on the phone and he pronounces the beginning consonant in a way that I would guess is the correct German pronunciation. Now I don’t know whether to try to say it the way he says it, which might almost sound like I’m mocking him because it is so uncharacteristic of English pronunciation, or stick to the more Americanized version of his name. Thoughts?

      1. Jamie

        I think you should stick with the common pronunciation for your region, unless he asks you to do otherwise.

        Both my married and maiden names are Polish and I’ve had people actually correct me on my pronunciations over the years – trying to teach me how to say my name “properly.” One of the names, if said properly, would bear almost no resemblance to it’s spelling.

        I say my maiden name the way my daddy taught me and my married name the way my husband’s family does…that’s good enough for me and I don’t like being spoken to like an idiot who doesn’t know their own names.

        Then again I bridle when I watch food network and the Giada or Aaron kick into over exaggerated Italian and Spanish pronunciations of ethnic words and morph back into English. I just hate when anything seems like it’s being done for effect.

        1. Anonymous

          Giada kills me when she does that. Does she really need to over pronounce parmesan? And then right back into standard american english.

          1. Jamie

            Speaking of tv – I know I’ve been reading too much AAM when I’m watching The Next Food Network Star or Hell’s Kitchen, which are ostensibly job interviews on television, and I keep counting all the ways the applicants and hiring managers are violating Alison’s best practices.

            Or when watching Barney Miller and are impressed with his management style and see it not as a comedy but as a tutorial as to how to correctly manage your reports.

              1. fposte

                A Barney Miller reference and a Yes, Minister reference in the same thread! It’s a good day.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              There are some TV shows that I can’t watch anymore because the management issues drive me crazy. The Rachel Zoe show, in particular. (Obviously there are all sorts of other reasons not to watch that show too, but her management practices were infuriating.)

        2. Charles

          One co-worker from years ago had the last name of Simone. She always pronounced it as “Simon” as in Simon says.

          Well, one rather pretentious co-worker kept insisting that she wasn’t being true to her French heritage and would always correct it to the “proper” French (sort of like si-moan).

          After a few times my co-worker asked, point blank, why do you insist on telling me how to pronounce MY name? That seemed to put a stop to it.

        3. RJ

          We mock Alex Trebek mercilessly for his exaggerated pronunciations of foreign words. :)

          The R in RJ is for Roberta. I can deal with Berta, Bert, Berta-face (elementary school), Robbie, Rebecca (nice try!), and Barbara (not sure where this comes from, but I’ve heard it from multiple people). But when you ask me, “Do they call you Bobbie?” and I say no, please don’t tell me, “Well, I’m going to call you Bobbie anyway.” I won’t answer you because I will have no idea that you’re actually speaking to me.

          The husband has sort of a reverse problem. His name on his birth certificate is “Johnny”. He’s been Johnny his entire life. But when I introduce him as Johnny, people have a tendency to believe that I’m using a familiar nickname and that they should call him John. They’re wrong.

          1. Kris

            My wife is Becky. That is her full first name but everyone insist on Rebecca so I feel you here.

            1. starts & ends with A

              I have several friends named Katie, and called all kinds of other names that Katie could be a nickname for, but which are not their names.

              Such is life, for everyone I guess.

              Anecdote: I knew a couple who went by the same (unisex) name. Her’s was her given name, his was a nckname (diminutive shortening). Once they got married, he started going by his full, masculine name.

      2. Melissa

        I would just ask him how he would like you to pronounce his name.

        I know a couple of people from other countries who use “Americanized” pronounciations when speaking with people who don’t know them, usually for official purposes, i.e. calling a customer service representative or a college registrar’s office. I assume it’s just to save time in spelling or repeating the name, and preventing it from getting misspelled in official documentation.

        1. Dan

          Yes, this is what I was going to suggest. It is polite to ask for their preferred pronounciation. I always appreciate it when someone asks me how to pronounce my last name.

      3. KayDay

        You could just go up to him and say, “hey, I’m really sorry, but I have a lot of difficulty with your name. Is it pronounced —-?” (and pronounce it the way you have been saying it). Some people prefer to use an anglified pronunciation (web-ber not vay-bar) while others prefer the original pronunciation. You just have to ask.

        (And Jamie–I had a friend from a Spain who would always use the “proper” (French) pronunciation for Dannon/Danone and Nestlé, while speaking English with an otherwise American accent. I always thought that was really awkward.)

        1. Natalie

          Those brands exist in Europe – I wonder if your friend was just used to their French pronunciations.

          I think if I moved to France, I’d probably still pronounce Dannon with an English accent just out of habit.

      4. Xay

        Use the more Americanized version. I introduce myself with the American version of my name because the language of my name is so different from English that it is very difficult to teach a native English speaker to say my name correctly. At this point, only my mother and people from her country say my name correctly.

      5. Alisha

        My husband is from an E. European country, and he uses the Americanized version on the phone because he realized otherwise people have no idea how to spell it. The American version is a short and common, if quaint, men’s name, the E. Europe version sounds like it’s spelled with completely different letters.

    2. Anonymous

      I mispronounced a high school teacher’s last name once. She corrected me rather snidely, and for the rest of the school year, she was totally rude to me.

  16. Max

    I’ve experienced similar problems to 5), and it really is a very painful catch-22 situation: very few good jobs locally and none of them in your field, but you need money and experience you don’t have in order to be able to afford to move to a place with better employment prospects. You mention “finding better ways to navigate that reality”, but ARE there better ways?

    1. Anonymous

      I suggest the classic Hollywood technique.

      Pick a place where there are several different opportunities for jobs in your field. Make the move. Once you get there, take a job as a waitress / janitor / fast food employee / grocery store cashier / anything you can. Then apply for local jobs in the actual field you plan to work in.

      These low end jobs may be very easy for you, but there are many that pay enough for you to survive on while you get established. Depending on your credentials, you might be able to get a “better” starter job as a fast food manager, an admin, or something like that. It’s a sacrifice of a lower living standard for the sake of following your dream.

      Just pick the town carefully, so that you have good opportunities available and a backup plan in case everything goes badly.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, this is exactly what I was envisioning. Or finding lower-costs ways of living there, like staying with friends/relatives if that’s an option, etc.

    2. Lexy

      I live in a very popular city for young new grads (Not like, NYC popular, but still, lot’s of people move here from the middle of the country). It seems the best strategy is to kind of “suck it up” and struggle to move without a job lined up. I know many people who just got in a car and moved, no place to live or anything. I wouldn’t recommend THAT necessarily (at least line up a couch surf or hostel or something for a few days). But it is SO much easier to find a job when you ACTUALLY live in the city… save your pennies, live like a pauper, go for your dream.

  17. Anonymous

    For #2, I suggest you don’t respond to the annoying nicknames. When someone is persistent, then look up and go, “Huh? Oh! No, my name’s Michelle. Don’t worry, common mistake. What did you need?”

    If it’s a fairly minor mispronunciation, though, instead of a nickname, you might need to let it go. Some words or names are hard for certain people to get right, simply because they can’t hear you well or aren’t able to pick up on the subtle difference. I can’t get the word feta right, and it’s not because I’m trying to pronounce it weird, I just can’t hear the vowel distinction correctly.

    For the singing guy, I’d just tell him to can it. You are only obligated to put up with co-workers singing to you a limited amount of times per year. That number is one per co-worker. “Bob, the singing was clever the first time. It was clever the second time. By the third time, it was a bit repetitive. After the 22nd time and onward, you’re a broken record, and no one listens to records anymore. We’ve all got Ipods instead, and I am officially putting you on ‘shuffle.’ Even Ringo had to come up with new material now and again, so find a different tune to regale us with.”

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I had a friend who would always sing me “Alison” by Elton John, which is not a very flattering song if you listen to the lyrics. But I took it as an expression of affection and didn’t mind it.

      1. RJ

        Too funny. All the Robertas in popular culture seem to be semi-pro hookers. See Billy Joel’s lyrics for proof.

      2. Anonymous

        I’m just curious – Does anyone ever call you Ally (or Ali, since you don’t have a y in your name)?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I was Ali to everyone until about the age of 12, when I decided Alison sounded more mature and insisted that everyone make the switch! The irony is that now I really like the name Ali and regret my 12-year-old self’s silliness!

          1. AnotherAlison

            Anyone ever call you Alison Wonderland? That was what I hated more than anything. I was 6 and trying to explain to other kids that my name was Alison and the book was actually “Alice in”. Obviously they did not care. I hated the name Alice. . .probably due to the Brady Bunch.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              When I was really little, I thought that the character’s name was “Alison Wonderland.” I remember correcting my older sister when she insisted it wasn’t.

              1. Tamara

                I also thought that and loved the name. I managed to convince my parents that they loved it too, and I now have a sister named Allison. So sometimes the older sister gets it wrong too, but it has a much bigger impact!

          2. Anonymous

            I used to know someone with that nickname. However, her name wasn’t Alison; it was Alicia.

      3. Joe

        If I had a bullet for every time someone asked me where I’m going with that gun in my hand, I’d be able to open my own ammo store.

  18. Lee

    People always want to write my name “Leigh” or “Leah” or pronounce it “Leia”. I have learned to just roll with it. And of course I married someone with an elaborate French last name that no one can properly announce, so I make jokes about “collecting pronunciations”. Of course depending on the work environment, you could make up a song and nickname for the person who is bugging you and sing it back to them.

    1. Anonymous

      This reminds of someone I knew with the last name Lee – he kept get telemarketers offering long distance plans to China!

      1. Charles

        Hehe! 2 co-workers whose desks were next to each other; the one was Asian and the other was white. It was the white woman who had the last name “Chin” (it is an English surname), and yet everyone who didn’t know them would always walk up to the Asian woman because they were responding to an email, or whatever, from Ms. Chin! It did kind of drive them both up the wall. Aren’t assumptions funny?

  19. Michelle

    Hi, this is OP #2. What a response! Thanks everyone for your input. To clarify, it’s not that people don’t know how to pronounce my name, or can’t remember it — they know damn well what it is, they just create little singsong versions that follow me everywhere I go. Plus, you all reminded me- at a previous job I had a co-worker who frequently called me Mickey! That was worse than anything. To add insult to injury, I share a last name with a certain Captain from Star Trek. I’ve been hearing that one since birth, and I got over it a long time ago.

    1. Steeeeeellllllaaaaa

      Oh honey. I feel you. Everyone who does it, does it because they don’t know a lot of Picards or Kirks or whatever in their lives, so it’s the first time for them, and it’s soooooo novel. They don’t think about the fact that YOU get it from just about everyone you meet.

      This is why yelling “Steeeeeelllllaaaaa” a la Marlon Brando will never get anything but folded arms and an “are you done?” look from me.

      1. Lexy

        As A Tennessee Williams fan I blush to think this is something that would occur to me. I probably wouldn’t actually do it though. I’m too sensitive to annoying people by being overly familiar.

        I would probably try the (hopefully) less obnoxious tack of “Do you get a lot of Brando impressions?”

      2. Charles

        Sort of off-topic; but related in a way.

        Several years ago my company had a retreat in Atlantic City. (I don’t drink or gamble; but hung out with the gang at night anyway) Well, after a long night we headed out to a 24-hour diner to get a late night snack (or was it really a very early breakfast?)

        Our boss, who really is a nice guy; but a real bore when drunk ordered “2 shots of Jack Daniels” thinking he was the wittiest guy ever! One of our co-workers chided him saying that the waiter has heard that line so many times before and is most likely sick of drunks’ jokes. The waiter without missing beat said, “Yea, I’ve heard it before; But, it is a new and funny to him” (meaning our boss). That waiter got the best tip from our boss than anyone else during that retreat! So, sometimes, you have to just humor the clods.

          1. Charles

            Sorry, I was babbling, wasn’t I? Really I was trying to say that folks who insist on calling you by the wrong name are like drunken bosses – sometimes you just have to humor them.

            On the other hand, I’m often like Kelly from the office(played by Mindy Kaling) – most folks just ignore me, in fact, half the time, I don’t listen to myself either ;)

            1. Scott M

              Still don’t get the “2 shots of Jack Daniels” joke.

              Just curious what I’m missing.

              1. Charles

                “what I’m missing?”

                You’re not drunk – that’s why you’re missing the joke.

                There really isn’t any joke except in the drunk boss’s mind – ordering 2 shots of whiskey in a diner – only a drunk finds that funny.

    2. Kristen not Kris

      How can I politely tell them I do not like these silly nicknames without seeming overly sensitive or making a big deal out of it?

      It’s a lot easier to correct them when you first meet than later, but I would try “I prefer Michelle, not ” whenever it happens consistantly for a few weeks/a month and maybe you can train them. Also try to completely not respond to the the nicknames if you can without being a jerk yourself. “Oh were you calling me? I go by Michelle”

      Except for the singing guy. He sounds obnoxious. As a question from a few days back shows singing can be really annoying and unprofessional so if he’s willing to be obnoxious, annoying and unprofessional I’m sure politeness will not work on him. You probably have to put up with it just because what he’s doing does not rise to the level of complaining to the boss/HR despite how annoying it is.

      1. Rana

        I’d be half-tempted to come up with some sort of annoying song about *his* name, and sing it at him in response for a while. “It’s Jaaaames! Jamie Jamie Jaaaaames! The man who sings naaaames!”

        Either he’ll get fed up and knock it off, or it’ll become a running joke between the two of you. ;)

    3. Another Michelle

      I don’t get Shelly often, but have gotten Mitch and Melissa plenty of times. Mitch (or Mich) I can understand, but Melissa is a completely different name altogether. In another instance, someone at the office started spelling my name with one L instead of two. I ignored it for awhile, but eventually I had to contact HR to correct it because pay stubs and other things starting showing up with the wrong spelling (yeah, I’m pretty sure I know how to spell my own name….thanks)

      And that stupid Beatles song has been following me around since Grade 4. I once had a manager who referred to me as “Michelle My Belle” every. single. time. we interacted.

      I work with a guy named “Jude”. It feels really strange for me to say “Hey Jude” when I see him around, no doubt because I’m already sensitive to the sing songy stuff that goes with my own name. I just try my best to use another greeting when I see him!

      1. Jamie

        The song thing gets old quick, I feel for you.

        I may not mind so much if I got Jamie’s Cryin’ from Van Halen – because I’m not sure I could ever get sick of a VH song no matter how badly butchered.

        What I usually get (at least weekly) is a bastardized version of Janie’s Got a Gun…because it’s very clever to change Janie to Jamie. The ironic thing is that if I actually had a gun people would probably be less inclined to irritate me for sport.

  20. EAC

    #5 I think one of the biggest concerns that employers have with out of town candidates is the fact that they might think that you will want them to re-locate you to the new city.

    When I was looking to re-locate from the West coast to the Southeast, my cover letters touched on the fact that I made frequent visits to the city because I had family in the area. I also mentioned that I was coming to the area to make housing arrangements and requested interviews during that time frame. That way it was clear to them that I was planning to finance my own move. I managed to schedule 11 interviews during two week-long visits. I got two job offers. And wouldn’t you know, the company who’s offer I accepted offered me a full relocation package. That was an unexpected surprise!!

    I think if you can demonstrate your familiarity with and that you have some personal connections to the area that it might help you. And make sure that you let prospective employers know that you are shouldering all of the expenses for traveling to the interview and your subsequent move.

    Good luck!!

  21. AnotherAlison

    #2 – My uncle’s ex-wife Michelle went by Mush, so at least they don’t call you that. I think it’s weird they shorten your name to Shelly, though. Every Shelly I’ve known has been Shelly and every Michelle has been Michelle.

    My name is Alison, and only my grandmother and aunt called me Ali, and they usually paired it with my middle name. Coming out of anyone else’s mouth, it completely throws me off, so I was surprised when the president of my company started calling me that out of the blue. I let it go. I know he worked with another Alison who went by Ali before & he’s got hundreds of names to remember.

    I also have a son Jamie who sometimes gets called James. That’s not his given name, as it would have made for an unfortunate celebrity name when paired with our surname, so I wish people wouldn’t assume that it is.

    1. khilde

      My uncle’s ex-wife Michelle went by Mush

      Someone on my husband’s side of the family is named Elizabeth, but everyone calls her Biz. I have a really hard time not calling her Biz-natch. It’s tricky.

    2. Anonymous

      I know a “Mush.” Last name Schrum. He’s a Navy pilot so that’s where that came from.

  22. The Other Dawn

    3. Boss asks coworkers for input into my performance evaluation

    I think it depends on who the boss is asking about OPs performance. If he’s asking his own peers (other managers in the office), then I think that’s reasonable. He may not work with OP directly, but there’s likely at least one other higher up who is familiar with OPs work and work habits that could give some feedback. If he’s asking OPs peers I also don’t think that’s completely unreasonable; however, he should carefully evaluate what is being said before putting it in the evaluation. Sounds like he’s doing a partial 360 review.

    1. The Other Dawn

      I totally missed the part about goals. If he’s asking about goals that’s not likely something OP’s peers would know about, unless it’s a job where departments work closely together.

  23. Anonymous

    I have a Russian version of a common American name. People always seem to resort to the American version. It baffles me that when they hear or read my name, they get confused or something (the American name doesn’t even start with the same letter!). I even had the optipm to legally change it when I was getting my citizenship but I dodnt because i prefer my name. If its someone I’m talking to once or something (customer service, orders, etc) I’ll go by the simple Americanized name. But it did bother me that my former boss never called me the right name. Not much to contribute advice wise that hasn’t been said; I say correct them politely until it sticks.

  24. Sara

    #3 – Did I submit this question in my sleep? You are describing my exact situation. My boss does my performance reviews based on, and only on, what my coworkers think about me. I have asked him to give me specific actions I can be measured on, and made several suggestions of such actions, and he basically said “no, that’s too hard, I’m just going to ask other people what they think.”

    After 6 years of stellar reviews from my previous boss (same role, same company), this year’s was mediocre because it was based on feedback from others and not what I actually did. When I provided evidence of what I had actually done, he ignored it and said “well, the measurement was feedback.”

    One of my duties, for example, is to provide training on the appliations I develop. He said that he received feedback that I didn’t do enough training and didn’t walk employees through troubleshooting problems. When I showed him my training calendar, emails from others thanking me for my helpful training sessions, and copies of dozens of email chains of me walking employees through troubleshooting problems, all he said was “well, it doesn’t matter because that is not the feedback they gave me, so they’re telling you something different than they are telling me.” In other words, if I’m expected to do X, and I do X, but someone else doesn’t think I did, then I get marked as “below expectations.”

    *bangs head repeatedly on desk*

  25. Kris

    I’m a little different on my name. I am as you might have guessed Kristopher. While I will answer to Kris, Kristopher, and in Mom and Grandma’s case Krissy, I generally don’t like being called Kristopher. It always feels like I’m in trouble when someone takes the time to pull out the extra two syllables.

    **Note ONLY mom and grandma get away with Krissy

  26. Scott M

    #2 : By all means, tell them you prefer your real name, rather than the nicknames. If they ask why you are suddenly correcting them, you can defuse the awkwardness by saying that it gets too confusing for other people to hear you called by different names – so you are asking them to stick to the version you prefer. But you’ll still have to remind them (gently) many times, I’m sure:
    “Hi Shelly!”
    “Michelle” (amused smile – so they know you’re not mad)
    “Oh, right, Michelle, sorry”
    “It’s ok”
    Repeat ad infinitum

    I’m a Scott, so nicknames are rarely used on me (Scotty or Scooter just don’t work very well for adults). My issue is the last part my last name, which is similar to “Bassinger” (last part pronounced like”singer”). But it is often pronounced “Bassenger” (like “messenger”).

    I’ve given up correcting that pronunciation, but always show my appreciation when someone gets it right.

  27. Natasha

    In #4 I don’t think the LW was asking about what to do in regards to the trips, I think they were asking advice in how to deal with the drama the wife is deliberately causing for him in the office. I read it as since they haven’t talked about what happened last trip she is causing this drama so they won’t know more. What would be the advice for that situation?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Same exact advice. It’s all horribly unprofessional drama that doesn’t belong in the workplace, and the OP should treat it that way and not get involved at all.

  28. Sam

    RE: #2 If they’re mispronouncing on purpose, you need to be direct with them and (if it calls for it) ignore any pronunciation which isn’t your name. However, if it’s not malicious and it’s just a nickname, there’s probably not a lot you can do without coming across as pretentious. Nicknames tend to just happen, particularly with longer names being shortened, and unless you correct it within the first handful of meetings, they tend to stick to you like glue.

    My experience?
    I’m a Samantha. I was a Sammy in infants/junior school which my parents were OK with, but they hated the idea of me being called Sam (why they called me Samantha is something of a mystery – it’s not a traditional family name or anything, and the shortened ‘Sam’ is fairly obvious.. hey ho..). By the time I reached high school, I was known as Sam by pretty much everybody. I didn’t particularly mind – Sam’s a lot easier + quicker to say. Around the same time Sex and the City was getting quite popular, and because I was a Sam, the comparisons to Samantha from the TV show weren’t half as numerous as they could have been.

    Having been called Sam for over 10 years, by pretty much everybody, I now have trouble remembering to respond to Samantha, it happens so rarely!

    On another related note, if people already know someone who goes by the shortened version of their name, it’s a tricky habit to get out of. I’ve had a new co-worker start recently in the office, and she’s a Melanie, not a Mel. My mother in law is a Mel, and so without thinking I started calling her Mel for a couple of weeks until she told me she prefers Melanie. I’m now trying to get myself out of the habit, but getting out of it is a lot harder than getting into it in the first place.

  29. Anonymous

    #2 – I have a rather unusual spelling of an uncommon name, where there is only one “correct” way to spell it and say it, and there is no way to make a nickname out of it. My problem is people often don’t know how to say it and get it wrong AND when they hear my name they have no idea have to spell it. Many times I have account or mail where my name isn’t spelled right (think things like bills and mail from work like W2s), even after telling them the correct spelling, or them having the correct spelling available someplace else, but they’re just too lazy to look. Unfortunately there is a very old song that has my name, and a singer, neither of which I like, and I get questions “like the song” and then they start singing it, “or like the singer” and then they name all the songs they like from that singer or why they hate that singer.

  30. Anonymous

    Quick Question about #1: How many years do you need to be out of college to no longer be considered a recent grad?

    Would 2 years of real work experience (after college) give you some leverage to negotiate?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There’s no real formula, but I’d say … a few?

      Two years isn’t going to give you a ton of leverage unless you’ve really become impressive during those two years, but you can and should still try.

    2. Alisha

      Usually somewhere between 3 and 5, closer to 5 if the job market is sluggish or you live in a small town, and closer to 3, 4 in a major metro with a lot of churn.

      But yes, negotiate anyway.

  31. Anonymous

    Yes on #4 I was asking more or less..should I back myself out before it goes any further? I keep telling my self that’s HER drama not mine. She should figures out for herself. I am amazed she even said anything. It was as if I would go and tell my management that I couldn’t go an make an excuse. She hasn’t spoken to me since I told her.

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