my new job wants to call me by my full name, which I don’t use

A reader writes:

I was recently offered an awesome new job! No major red flags so far, but I have a weird question about my preferred name. I always go by “Matt” instead of my full name “Matthew,” but I was told that since the office already has a Matt who I’d be working closely with, they would like to use my full name to prevent confusion.

I’d like to be assertive and say, “This is actually the name that I prefer to go by,” since I’ll be hearing my name every day and it’ll stick as I’m introduced to new people. But it also seems like the kind of nitpicky thing that a new hire shouldn’t be so picky about, lest I give the impression that I’m less flexible than I actually am.

What are your thoughts?

My thoughts are that you get to decide what your name is, not them. (Assuming, of course, that you are not working in Victorian times, when in fact it was customary for your employer to rename you — calling all the footmen James or John, for instance. If you are in fact writing from Victorian England, please ignore the advice that follows and accept your new name.)

In any case, I’d assume that your new employer figures that it’s not much difference to you whether you go by Matthew and Matt, and so threw out this suggestion as an easy way to ward off confusion without inconvenience for you. But since in fact you do not go by Matthew, that solution isn’t as trouble-free as they probably envisioned. But I’d assume misunderstanding, not willful disregard.

As for how to respond, I’d just say, “Actually, I’ve always just gone by Matt. But I’d be glad to be Matt S. or Matt the Second if that will help.”

That is a reasonable thing to say. It’s not unacceptably haughty or demanding to be asked to be called by the name you go by.

{ 246 comments… read them below }

  1. TL*

    Yup. Even if there’s multiples with your name, you retain full veto power over your nickname.

    (I’ve vetoed several, including “Abnormal TL” at my new workplace.)

    1. Anon*

      Agree. Why on earth they think they can rename the OP, I have no idea. Do they do that to clients/customers/vendors, too?

      I would probably try to be tactful and tell them that I don’t believe I would recognize it was me they were referring to if they called me Matthew rather than Matt, but good grief. I would be saying in my head that I know 4 other Wakeens, so I prefer to call the person who suggested this Mr. Cracked Teapot as I am sure he won’t mind …

      1. Dana*

        Yeah, I agree – I like taking the stance of “No one calls me that, so I wouldn’t recognize it if you called me Matthew.” And then giving some ‘Matt S.’/’Matt the second’/’Matt Redux’ options.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Co-sign. My quality of life is not lessened one iota because sometimes people have to specify that they mean me and not the other Jennifer who sits a few offices away. That’s what last names are for, and I would object if someone tried to call me Jenny. (I don’t mind Jen, but I mind Jenny.)

      Say with a smile, “Oh, I’m very accustomed to being one of multiple Matts; it always works itself out. But I really prefer Matt. I wouldn’t know you meant me if you called me Matthew!” Be nice about it, but be firm and consistent about it.

      1. Matthew Soffen*

        I know that feeling (see my name ;) ) I was one of 3 Matthew in school (from 1st grade through graduation). I went by Matt (as did the other 2 Matts) If the right Matt didn’t respond the teacher would add our last name.

        Its NOT rocket science :)

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Heck, yeah. There were six Jessicas in my HS graduating class of 64 students, so approximately 10% of the class was a Jessica (and there were several Jennifers, too). We dealt with it by either adding a last initial or going by something else (one girl went by her last name and another by her first and last initials, which were both their own choices). I will not answer to “Jessi” for anyone except people who knew me before I turned double digits, because it’s not a name I particularly like (and you don’t have too much control over what your parents call you before you’re 10) and it really sets my teeth on edge when someone calls me that when I just meet them. I introduced myself as “Jessica,” and if they ask I will tell them that I also answer to “Jess,” so don’t call me something else entirely. I don’t call people by a nickname (or anything other than what they introduced themselves as) unless they tell me that they don’t mind or prefer another name or if we’re super-close friends and we end up with personal nicknames of some sort.

        2. Matthew w.*

          I like to be called Matthew I hate being called matt
          a mat is something you wipe your feet on!

      2. Penny*

        Not to mention that you probably work with people smart enough to manage this situation. I work with several people with the same names as we’re a bigger company and we always manage without forcing people to go by names we choose. when I’m talking ti them I use their preferred name, when talking with others I use FN+LN or just LN to refer to them. Having a very common name I had this problem is school and preferred to go by my LN or a silly NN than the alternate versions of my name which I hate (Penny’s not my RN, just online name-and Pizza Hut order name- since mine is so common).

      3. Another Jennifer*

        This. I hate being called Jenny. In a former workplace, there were 5 of us, so over time it evolved to us going by our last names–which we were fine with. One person who had been on leave when I started thought my last name was my first name (it sounds similar to a female first name). It took him years to come to terms with the fact that my first name was Jennifer not Carroll, for example.

        1. Yet another Jennifer*

          I had a coworker who had to be told by a manager to stop calling me “JLo” or “Jenny from the Block” because he wouldn’t stop at my request.

          Not that that was the only problem I ever had from him *eyeroll*

          1. Anna*

            For the first time EVER I work with more than one Anna. For a while there were 3 of us. Easiest solution? Just include our last initial or last name. It’s not like you can really shorten Anna, so I don’t have to worry about that, but people mishear my name constantly. Don’t call me Ann!

            1. Annie*

              I had a similar problem! I’m Ann without an e, and I once worked with an Anne and an Anna. People kept tacking on random vowels after my name and it drove me crazy! So I decided to become Annie, since there’s not much chance of misspelling or mispronouncing it, and I felt more like I was in control of my own name.

      4. That Other Jennifer*

        I even have the same first AND last name as someone who works in another department in my building, and yet we still both manage to use our own actual and preferred names with minimal confusion. Very occasionally I’ll get an email or phone call intended for her (less often the other way around, since I was both here first and have the more generic first_last@company email address and have the first middle name alphabetically), but it’s never been anything that even rises to the level of annoyance, let alone actual problem.

    3. Noelle*

      I’m a little jealous of this problem though. I have an unusual name (Noelle is my middle name) that is very hard to get right without seeing it written down first. Earlier today I told someone my name on the phone several times, and apparently he heard “Keychain Willstab.”

      1. tcookson*

        “Keychain Willstab” LOL

        On a similar note, am I the only one who, when listening to NPR, heard correspondent Snigdha Prakash’s name as “Snake Paprikash”? I had to google her up to figure out what her name really was.

        1. Noelle*

          I don’t know, but I am definitely not great at this either. Once at church our priest was talking about our new “associate pastor,” and I heard the “new sociopath.”

  2. EM*

    Hilarious, at one of my previous jobs, the business owner actually did re-name an employee. He didn’t like the employee’s name (employee was male and I suspect he thought his name was too feminine sounding) so he unilaterally made the decision to begin calling him something else!

      1. KLH*

        I once worked for a crazypants who hired a friend, and this friend was a very solemn and professional woman. Which made the friendship even stranger was that crazypants called the friend was a semi-ridiculous nickname that had no relation to friend’s actual name.

        Oh, the red flags I have missed in my time.

        Anyway, I think the friend eventually put a stop to nickname use inside the office, but continued to endure it outside.

    1. Xay*

      I have an African first name and two Western middle names. I’ve had two teachers and one supervisor decide to use my middle name without even attempting or asking me how to pronounce my first name.

      1. KC*

        THAT has to be really annoying. Three of my cousins (sisters) have African first names and Western middle names. Two of them go by their Western middle names, but my cousin who chooses to go by her African name would be pretty offended if someone just made that assumption without asking.

    2. KC*

      The CEO at my last company re-named one of my coworkers because he had the same name as my CEO. And my former CEO is a megalomaniac, so no one could have the same first name as he had. Because he was so unique and important.

      The kid took it in stride (I think they ended up going by his middle name?). It was a truth universally acknowledged that my CEO was VERY eccentric, and putting up with him was a facet of working at the company.

      1. Misnomer*

        Ha! At first I thought you were repeating the plot from “30 Rock” where they hire a new cast member named Jack, and the CEO Jack Donaghy renames him Danny.

        1. Natalie*

          “Did he just change my name?”

          “Let’s go look at your dressing room. Danny.”

          I love that show. :)

  3. Ann O'Nemity*

    I think it’s even more important to use your normal nickname if your position is external facing.

    Also, I have to say, the company’s rationale is weak. If a new “Linda” started, are they going to tell her, “We already have a Linda, so we’re going to call you Lindsey instead. Hope that doesn’t confuse the professional network you’ve been cultivating!”

  4. Sadsack*

    Every where that I have worked referred to the people with the same name by using their last names, too. Like, Matt Jones and Matt Smith. That shouldn’t be difficult and will just feel natural to your coworkers after a while. Obviously, when they are speaking to your face, they’ll just say Matt, and when they introduce you to others, they’d likely use your last name anyway.

    1. MaryMary*

      Or just refer to them by last name only. “Hey, Smith, Jones, do you want to come to lunch with us?”

      I used to work with a plethora of Jennifers. There were so many we couldn’t get by with last initial, but last name worked. Several of the Jennifers were married. It must have taken some adjustment to get used to answering to your married name, but everyone worked it out eventually.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Yeah, I worked on a team that had a lot of guys named John (like, 4). We just called them by their last names, and it was no problem.

        In my Sunday school class, there is a married couple both named Shannon, so we call them he-Shannon and she-Shannon. Then, I met my now-husband … who is also named Shannon. So, at Sunday school, he is trey-Shannon or just Trey.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I have, twice worked at a place with three Kellys in close proximity. Thankfully, we never shared a last initial so we could be “Kelly L, Kelly M, Kelly N” with no issue.

      3. Steve*

        My first, middle, and last name are all very common first names. I’ve always been very adamant about not being called by just my last name. Partly because my dad went by our last name so I don’t feel like it fits me – but mostly because I think that just adds to the confusion and people who hear it naturally assume it’s my first name and then I have to correct them later down the road.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I hate it too. I chalk it up to the grade school teacher who used it exclusively (again, because there were multiple Kellys in class) and was also, coincidentally, a rather angry person who practically growled everything he said to us. I can’t hear my last name alone without hearing him bark it at me! LOL

    2. Del*

      For several years we had two Larrys in our department — nobody was at all inconvenienced to have Larry F and Larry B! Sometimes just “F” and “B” – literally, we only used the first letter of their last names. But they were in full agreement with that, and B especially found it pretty funny.

  5. Celeste*

    We are rich in Steves around here, and the way we deal with it is they are spoken to by their first names, Steve, and referred to by their whole names (Steve Smith, Steve Jones, Steve Johnson). That’s how it’s always been anywhere I’ve been, with the usual bunch of Joes, Johns, and Jims. I’ve never seen anybody be told what they’ll be called.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      We have two Steves, three Johns, and two Bobs. It seems that they some just get tagged with their last name, like, “Oh, see if Anderson knows,” not “Steve Anderson.” Then there are others who are always “John Smith” and “John Jones,” not “Smith” or “Jones.”

      While I agree you should get to go by what you want to go by (daggers to the person who calls me Ali), it seems like the office does kind of decide for people over time. It never happens up front. . .”from now on, you shall be known as Stephen.”

    2. Steve*

      I was the second Steve to join a department a few years ago, and the manager was concerned how he’d address us. He also wanted to do the “you’re going to have to be Steven” thing. I told him no, that the only person to call me Steven is my mom, and it’s only when I’m in trouble.

      Turns out the other Steve had been Steven all his life and could never get people to NOT call him Steve. This was his opportunity to claim his own name back.

      However, Steve is a pretty common name and I’ve been in more work situations where the are multiples than I have been to be the only Steve. Firstname Lastname has always worked before (with the exception of one woman who always called me Steve Lastname as if it were all one name, like Jim-Bob or Marybeth, even when I was the only other person around.)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        That reminded me of another thing I was going to mention.

        One of the division presidents I work with always calls me Ali. He worked with another Alison who went by Ali for a long time (we overlapped a few years), and now he has an admin assistant who’s fine with Ali. Some people will always call you by whatever they called the person with your name that they’re closest to, no matter how often you correct them.

        1. TL*

          I had some people who wanted to shorten my name to a single syllable – but unfortunately that makes it my dad’s name. I really hate that and will correct them once and then cease to respond (mainly because I don’t respond to that name.)

      2. Vicki*

        This reminds me of two co-workers I had a while back. The first, apparently known as Scotty, to friends and family, was Scott at work. So the second, who was always known as Scott elsewhere, was called Scotty at work.

        Apparently it was too difficult to convince people otherwise.

  6. Anonymous*

    I would as you’re introducing yourself not say, “Hi, I’m Matthew but I go by Matt.” I don’t know why people do this but it’s just going to put the wrong name in people’s heads or make them ask questions. “Hi, I’m Matt.” or “Hi, I’m Matt Smith.”

    Also I’m going to have to disagree with AAM here, if you’re writing from Victorian England now is your time to rise up and fight back, demand the right to be called by your own name. Revolt!

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Agree with your first paragraph. If you want to use the nickname, it should be on all your application materials as well. It’s a bit annoying when an applicant applies as “Matthew,” interviews as “Matthew,” accepts the job as “Matthew,” and then asks to be called “Matt.”

      1. JMegan*

        That part I don’t mind so much – using the formal name through the application and interview process, then saying you prefer the (familiar) shorter name when you start your job.

        It’s when the nickname is completely unrelated to the formal name that things get confusing – ie, if you went through the whole hiring process as Matthew and then on day 1 you announced you wanted to be called Dave. THAT might raise an eyebrow or two, but I think the Matthew/Matt thing is pretty easy to sort out.

        1. Darcy*

          I once worked with someone who was introduced to us as Eunice (pronounced Yoo-nis), and we worked with her for over a year and called her by that name. She then left and returned to the company later and told us that she had ALWAYS gone by the Spanish pronunciation A-U-Nic-A and asked her to call her by that name. It was rather difficult to make the switch, and I never understood why she hadn’t spoken up the first time we worked together.
          So yes, correct your name now before people get used to something different.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Once while I was in a temp job, a new guy started – he’d applied and been interviewed as Petros, then after a couple of weeks he told us that everyone called him Pete, but by that time everyone had got so used to Petros that Pete never did catch on. No idea why your coworker would have left it so long!

            Another time, I misheard “Carl” as “Charles” when this guy came for his interview and had to get Charles out of my head before he started – then as soon as I’d got used to Carl, on his first day he said only his mother called him that and everyone else called him Ed!

            1. Natalie*

              We have someone who uses the Russian variant of an extremely common name, but it’s misspelled in the corporate directory as the English version. I have no idea why he hasn’t asked them to change it – that would drive me batty.

          2. F in SF*

            Perhaps she had a change of heart and reconnected with her roots… I love any excuse for my imagination to run wild!

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          Yeah, that weirds me out, too. I remember meeting two women around the same time who introduced themselves with “Hi, I’m X, but I go by Y.” One went by her middle name, and the other used a nickname that wasn’t the obvious choice (think Lisa for Melissa, Betsy for Elizabeth). Then why did you bother with your given name? They both could have skipped their given name entirely. To this day, when I encounter either one of them I have to think hard to remember which is the given name and which is the name they prefer.

          1. Jessa*

            Possibly because their corp emails were in their full names, so they were trying to let you know that even if she’s Betsy, officially she’s Elisabeth so if you got an email from Elisabeth Betsy’sLastName you’d know it’s her and not someone else.

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              It actually wasn’t a work situation. They were both in my sorority. To this day, I see communication from Elizabeth (Betsy). I have no idea why she bothers with the Elizabeth if she wants to be called Betsy, especially since she leads with the Elizabeth. I mean, at least lead with the Betsy.

      2. Kate*

        My most recent new job (started in 2013) is the first time I ran into someone being surprised by this, and it’s made me more cognizant that it might be an issue in the future. I have a professional profile as Kate but my resume still has my full name, Katherine. Previously it hasn’t been a problem but it seems to have caused confusion here so the next time I update my resume I’ll just throw my nickname on there.

        1. Rachel - HR*

          Definitely let the HR person know what name you wish to go by. We had a new hire a few years ago that never once told us she went by a nickname. So, she was entered in all systems – email, phone list etc. as her full name. It wasn’t until well after she was hired that she started going by her nickname and will answer the phone as such. It now throws me off completely as in the meantime we hired someone else with the same nickname who was upfront about it so every time girl 1 answers the phone with that name I think I’m talking to girl 2.

      3. Vicki*

        I used to believe I was “supposed to” use the formal “legal” name in interviewing and applications, etc. Maybe that used to be standard advice?

        Anyhoo, I’ve stopped doing that and now my resume says Vicki. So much simpler all around than “Please, _don’t_ call me Victoria.”

  7. KellyK*

    What is it with? My husband’s name is Matt, and he had a boss named Matt in his last job. When we were in college, he was one of three Matts in his on-campus job (help desk). The one who’d been there the longest was “Matt,” he was “LastName”, and the other one was “Three.” He may also have had a roommate named Matt at one point.

    Seriously, yes, your boss doesn’t get to rename you. You will probably acquire some weird nickname to differentiate between you and the other Matt, though.

    1. Jennifer*

      At one place I worked at, there was a guy who went by “C” because Christopher and Chris were already taken by the time he got there.

      As a Jennifer, we’re all “Jennifer Last Initial” by default…but what happens when you’re the second of your initial?

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I spent a lot of school as Alison-with-one-L, as opposed to the other one in the grade who was Alison-with-two-Ls.

            1. Hlyssande*

              Ah, me too!

              Incidentally, I’m one of two Lindsay with an A’s in my department right now. For awhile we also had a Lindsey with an E.

              The other Lindsay is a supervisor and I’m not, but we definitely get a lot of each other’s emails!

      1. Anonymous*

        We have a person who goes by their middle initial and a number. Not always their first name just the letter/number combo. You say that and everyone knows who you are talking about because that’s how his email is set up.

      2. Lia*

        My sister is a Jennifer, and in one grade school class, they had two Jennifers with the same last initial, and they wound up being “Jennifer La.” and “Jennifer Lo.”

        It got worse. In high school, she had a class where all of the girls except ONE were named Jennifer (out of 10 or 11 girls in a class of 25 students) and the teacher threw in the towel and referred to everyone by last names only. Luckily, there were no duplicate last names.

        1. Ollie*

          10 or 11 girls with the same name in one class?!

          Mind blown.

          There were two other kids in my grade with my name. I feel lucky now.

          1. Jen S. 2.0*

            11 Jennifers. And ALL Jennifers. I…I… wow. That is insane!

            I once took a class in college where I was the 8th Jennifer called the first day the teacher called the roll. My last name begins with a P, so there were several even after me. But there were ~75 people in the class, so he never needed to use our names after that first day. I thought that was bad, but it does not hold a candle to this kind of all Jennifer, all the time.

        2. Chinook*

          11 Jennifers in one class? And I thought the office with 9 Davids (roughly 10% of the staff) was confusing.

        3. Susie*

          Growing up there were two guys in my classes with the same first name *and* last name. It was a tiny school so they were always in the same class. The teachers would just call out the name and if the wrong guy answered they’d say, “No, the other John Smith.”

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            When I was at primary school, there were two guys called Paul Jones two years above me in the same class. They went by Paul W Jones and Paul M Jones, which worked okay throughout primary school.

            When they transferred to high school, someone on the high school staff didn’t realise they were two separate boys, thought that someone had made a mistake and put the same person on a list twice.

            On the induction day when all the new year’s intake went to look round, meet everyone else starting with them etc., everyone’s name was called out so they could join their new class. When someone called out “Paul Jones” and both stood up, the teachers took a lot of convincing that they were both called Paul Jones! In the end, they were left in the same class.

            After that, it was never done that way again and everyone starting that high school got written to telling them what form they would be in.

            1. Meg Murry*

              I worked at an elementary school where there were 2 4th grade girls (out of less than 100 kids) named Steph@nie N!cole Av@los. It was a record keeping nightmare. And they both went by Steph@nie – not Stef or Steffie or anything like that. I worked in the computer lab and there were several different programs the kids had to log in to or pick their name from a drop down list – so usually we would list one just as FirstName LastName and the other as FirstName M LastName – but there was no consistency as to which girl used her middle initial when. I always felt bad for them, but they’d dealt with it their whole life so it was just a minor annoyance to them.

        4. Kate*

          I took a seminar class in college that had 12 students, including 4 Kathryn variations (Kate, Katie, Katherine, and Kat), 2 Nancys and another double that I can’t remember. That was also the year I lived on a dorm where my roommate and I were both Kate, my neighbor was Kate, and there was a Kathryn and a Katelyn down the hall. We all figured it out.

    2. JMegan*

      I once went to a party where the host introduced the room as “You know Ted, and everybody else here is named Chris.”

      This was my former roommate, who went by MAY-gan to my MEE-gan, so we were well-used to that sort of confusion already. :) Good times!

    3. Anonymous*

      Here’s a funny story. I am Elisa Smith and was in the same homeroom with Eliza Smith. People just started calling us “the white Elisa” and “the black Eliza.” What a lot of people don’t know is that we’re both black, except I’m more like the Mariah Carey shade. One day my father came to pick me up from school and the office called for “The Black Eliza” because my dad is obviously black.

      HILARIOUS. The receptionist was mortified.

      1. Mints*

        Haha did they actually call you “white Eliza”?
        It seems like sometimes in those situations, the white person gets to be “John” and then the other one is “black John.” Which is problematic, but common

      2. Chinook*

        My (Franco) granmdother had issues pronouncing the names of her two friends: Helen and Ellen. She eventually came up with “Helen with an H” and “Ellen, no H.” (and every single time she would pronounce that H with the wrong name)

  8. kyley*

    I have a small office, and up until recently we hard three Marks. The first, longest standing “Mark” just had his first name. Everyone else was “Mark M” and “Marc A.” Now we only have one Mark left, but we still refer to him as “Mark A.”

    Insist on your name; everyone will adapt.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Same thing happened to us with Jennifers and Heathers. Only one of each left but it is still Jen X and Heather Z. (I think it’s equal to “Mary Sue”, two part first name in my brain)

  9. Anonymous*

    We have 2 Brads. Rather than calling one Bradford instead of Brad, we figured out to just also use their last names – one is Brad Smith and the other is Brad Jones.

  10. Elysian*

    Potential Exception: Email addresses. My husband works for a small company where they do emails as (Note to companies: Don’t do your email like this if you ever want to grow. It’s doomed to be messy.) My husband has a common enough first name (let’s say it’s Tom) that someone else already had So his email is Note that they still call him Tom. They didn’t actually re-name him.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      We have people of the same name at work – different office to me – and their email addresses are firstname@company and firstnamemiddleinitial@company.
      You would think that if people were to email the OP they’d realise they were them and not The Other Matthew…some names are pretty common.

    2. Someone*

      At one point in time, I worked at a company that did this. We not only had two Kims, we had two Kims whose last name started with A (and in fact it was the same, very common, last name). Their emails were Kim@ and KimA@.

      Which is still not as good as the two N’s who had the same first name, different lastnames, but the one with the last-named email was in HR and the one with just the first name was our office admin, who ended up having to try to unsee a number of misdirected emails. She would be a couple lines in and realize ‘oh no, this is an HR matter’ and forward it on and delete…but still, so awkward. (She never told us what any of them were, just mentioned it happening; very professional, but still an awkward position to be in.)

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        When I worked in our housing department, we had a Bob Smith on our team who had been there a while when a Bob Smith started in HR. Our Bob Smith got quite a lot of the other’s emails and couldn’t understand what was happening at first – we did know what the first one was because he opened it and asked “Why has this person emailed me about So and so’s sick leave?” After a while it happened enough that he got used to it and knew what was happening, so he didn’t ask questions like that again and we didn’t know what he was getting sent any more.

        He took it quite well but the HR Bob Smith wasn’t happy and complained to IT so our Bob ended up being displayed as “Smith, Bob (Strategic Housing)” and came below “Smith, Bob (HR)” on the email.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        When I worked in our housing department, we had a Bob Smith on our team who had been there a while when a Bob Smith started in HR. Our Bob Smith got quite a lot of the other’s emails and couldn’t understand what was happening at first – we did know what the first one was because he opened it and asked “Why has this person emailed me about So and so’s sick leave?” After a while it happened enough that he got used to it and knew what was happening, so he didn’t ask questions like that again and we didn’t know what he was getting sent any more.

        He took it quite well but the HR Bob Smith wasn’t happy and complained to IT so our Bob ended up being displayed as “Smith, Bob (Strategic Housing)” and came below “Smith, Bob (HR)” on the email address book.

      3. Kelly L.*

        I got a call from the president of a former workplace, chewing me out for something that didn’t even really compute to me…and then realized she was trying to chew out an different Kelly in a different department.

      4. Jen in RO*

        My first name is very common around here (think Jane – it actually “translates” to that). In my former company we had 3 Janes – Jane S. in Doc (me), Jane C. in HR, and Jane S. in project management. For extra points, the other Jane S. and I had similar sounding last names too (think Jameson and Johnson), especially for foreigners. The natural result is that, for a while, I got emails about recruitment and about new projects being approved… even after we all corrected the senders!

    3. Steve*

      I think if you’re going to have just a first name as an email address, and you end up with multiple people with the same first name you should make them all have a variant of the name. If everyone knows your email convention, poor John Smith who is is going to be deluged with emails for and Having been the one to get everyone else’s email, it sucks to have to forward dozens of emails a day to 2 or 3 other people.

    4. Katie*

      We have our founding staff setup as

      I consider this a fun thing to for our early employees. For future employees once we starting ramping up hiring we will switch to

      I’ve setup a few emails already that way where we had similar first names. Think Kate versus Katie.

      I’ve worked at a couple places that do it this way. It’s not that messy.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      Ours are firstname.lastname, and even this results in duplicates in a big company. All the Bob Smiths and Bob Brown bob/robert/bobby variations were taken, so some became Bob.A.Smith or Bob.Smith2. The problem is people who don’t always talk to Bob start typing and use whatever Outlook address comes up first. Super annoying, but unavoidable, I think.

      1. De Minimis*

        We had a duplicate first name last name at the last place I worked, it was a big company and the two people worked in completely different offices, but apparently it was a big pain to get it worked out in the system.

        1. doreen*

          We’ve got so many of these at my employer. What they ended up doing was adding the title to the display name – fortunately all the duplicates are in very different titles.

      2. PurpleChucks*

        This happens to me all the time thanks to Outlook’s auto-fill when you start typing a name. Our emails are firstname.lastname and I’m Geneva S. and there’s a Geneva H. She’s in the same building and we work for related, but separate programs, so we get each other’s emails all the time. I NEVER thought I would run into this because I’ve only ever met another Geneva once in my life! I’ve even emailed her when I meant to CC myself, so I know how easy it is to do!

      3. Cathy*

        I think I’ve gotten emails for every Cathy, Kathy, Catherine, Kathryn and Kathleen that I’ve worked with. Spelling and last names don’t seem to matter; people still screw this up routinely, and I’ve gotten some things that I definitely should not have known about.

        The best was when I worked for a foreign company based in a country where there’s no “th” sound in the language. Everybody called me Ketty, but at least my email never got confused.

    6. Anonymous*

      I totally agree about not having emails be firstname@company
      firstname.lastname or firstnamelastname is much better. Plus it lets you do firstname.middleinitial.lastname@

      Though if your name is John Smith you’re going to be John.R3.Smith@

    7. ellex42*

      At the company I used to work for, when they finally went digital (around 2005) the IT dept set up everyone as This is fine if your full name is around 10 letters. But my full name is 23 letters. Even using my 3 letter nickname puts me at 16 letters. When the IT director came to me to check on the spelling of my name, I asked him to please make my email just my nickname plus the first letter of my last name. So at 4 letters, I ended up with the shortest, easiest email in the whole company.

      I can’t tell you how many coworkers and clients mentioned how grateful they were not to have to deal with my entire name.

  11. Fiona*

    Referring to two Matts as Matt Jones and Matt Smith is the logical thing, but I would be hard pressed to resist calling them Matt 1 and Matt 2. Or Matt and New Matt.

  12. Chocolate Teapot*

    I would go by something like Matt Surname initial to avoid confusion. (e.g. Matt J, Matt S etc.)

  13. Mike C.*

    Growing up I’ve been in classroom situations with many, many Mikes. Trust me, we can figure out who you’re talking to.

    Who in the hell does someone think they are that the assert the right to rename someone based on the fact that they’re employed by them?

    1. Anonymous*

      So when I take a phone message for Mike, you’ll just know who it belongs to? Or if I as your manage ask Mary to tell Mike to do something when he gets in, Mary will just know who I’m referring to? It’s not about you, it’s about us and our confusion. (speaking as one of many in my office with the same name, we seem to only hire folks with one of four first names.)

      1. Anon*

        If you take a phone message, you either ask which last name, which department (explaining you have more than one Mike), etc., or you apologize to both Mikes for not finding out the correct recipient when you took the message, and pass it on to both of them.

        My office has at least 10 names that are duplicated (i.e., approx. of our employees have the same 10 first names). Some are in the same department and often get messages passed to both of them. Others are in totally different departments and it is obvious from the context of the message whether the caller meant to tell Joe in Accounting or Joe in Maintenance that the HVAC repair call was completed.

      2. Mike C.*

        One’s name is a fundamental part of their identity as a human being. If a room full of kindergartners can figure this out, so can a room full of professional adults.

  14. Judy*

    I worked with a guy who was known by his initials (similar to JD). Ran into him a few years after he left that company, and called him that. He said he’s always been known as John, but since there were 3 others when he joined the group, they just started calling him JD. I don’t know if anyone else ever called him that but the people at X company, but I’d guess he was ok with it, he usually let people know if he wasn’t ok with something.

    I also worked with two guys with the same first and last name, spelled just one letter different, and a different middle initial. Think Mike S. Schmitt and Mike W. Schmidt. Luckily for the rest of us the one with a S for a middle initial was the shorter one. ;)

  15. Anon*

    We had two guys in our office with the same name. The younger and last hired ended up being called “Ditto.”

  16. A Teacher*

    Trust me, they’ll figure it out. One year when I worked as an athletic trainer at a high school we had 3 Heavens, 2 Neveahs and a Heavenly . It was definitely easy to tell them apart. This year I have two girls that go by a version of Shea, I just use last initials when I have to hand stuff back, no confusion.

  17. The IT Manager*

    LW, Matt, has the right to refuse to go by “Matthew,” but IMO he has to be accomidating and accept that he will end up being “Matt L,” “new Matt,” “Matt 2,” etc. So I recommend that Matt come up with what he prefers and offer it to his co-workers on his first day.

  18. Chrissi*

    At the beginning of my career, I decided to go by “Chris” instead of “Chrissi” because I thought it sounded more professional, and more importantly, I wouldn’t have to keep correcting the spelling or spelling it out for people. Since then, I have to say, I wish I hadn’t done it because I now go by a different name at work than with my friends which is a little weird. Also, now I have a coworker who sits right next to me named Chris and we get mixed up all the time (he’s a guy, I’m a woman). So I see both sides of it – it sucks to have the same name as someone you closely work with, but if they start calling you by this name, it will likely stick as long as you are at this company (and possibly beyond). I would politely tell them that you much prefer “Matt”, or they can call you by your last name instead.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      My mum is Christine but goes by Chris professionally – only the family call her Christine. Where it gets confusing is that her younger brother is Christopher and he is also Chris to his friends, but the family call him Donald. This came about because Mum pronounced Christopher as “Tiffer” when he was born and my grandparents thought she’d find Donald easier to pronounce, but then he kept getting Donald Duck and Donald Where’s Your Troosers at school. In the end, he changed schools when he moved house and some teacher introduced him to his new class as “Chris” and he latched on to that.

      Recently it was fun and games when he then had to explain to all his friends at his daughter’s wedding that some people there would call him Donald – the story got told a lot.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Sort of reminds me of my step-dad. He’s named after his grandfather who’s nickname had nothing to do with his given name (think Joe, but given name is Henry Grant Williamson.) No one knows how he came to be called Joe, but when my step-dad was born, his grandfather was also in the hospital for unrelated reasons. When his friends came to see his grandfather, they would stop by and see his new grandson and just called him little Joe. The little was dropped, but Joe hasn’t. It can be confusing sometimes, but its a cute family story.

  19. Anonymous*

    Tangential, but I’ve seen younger interviewees go by their full name during the interview process…only to announce after getting hired that they’d prefer their nickname. Unless your nickname is something outrageous, please just go by BJ during your interviews rather than Benjamin James! Only a strangely haughty hiring manager would think that you’re less professional for having such a nickname and it will be much easier for us to remember to call you the right name once you’re in the office that way.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I think some people, particulary younger people, use their full name on the applications because that’s what their official documents say (SS card, transcripts). Then once the hiring manager says, “Hello, Benjamin” they feel weird about correcting them. Don’t feel weird, correct away. What’s weird is when, years later, you meet someone’s friend or something and find out that they go by another name most of the time.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Agreed. I don’t think it’s odd to have your full name on your resume if you use a common, obvious nickname. But when you enter the interview and shake hands, that’s the moment to supply it. “Hi, Benjamin, welcome.” “Hello! Ben is fine.” (That sounded like Ben is referring to himself in 3rd person, but you know what I mean. It also soon will become obvious during the interview if Ben is a weirdo who constantly refers to himself in 3rd person.) You also likely have multiple opportunities to sign emails and leave phone messages as Ben. If you get called Ben, and 5 years into the job they’re still calling you Benjamin James, that’s on you.

    2. not really anon I guess, given this comment*

      I do that, not because I am young, but because an iPhone app that stole the shortened version of my name that I go by and now everyone’s first reaction upon hearing the shortened version of my name is to make a joke about how I’m a computer program or how I’m like the app. So I use my full name instead of the shortened version on my resume. I still sign off with the shortened version in my cover letter and my e-mail address still has the shortened version of my name in it, but the full name on the resume cuts out some of the jerkiness. It also cuts out the “is she a real person or a computer?” which, sadly, is the reaction some people have had when I’ve communicated with them via e-mail. (I have had people think that work e-mails I’ve sent them have actually just been e-mails my boss has generated on his iphone with the app. The number of choice words that I have bit back in response to that, let me tell you.)

      So. While I think that, typically, you should apply to jobs using the name you prefer I also think there are some exceptions, particularly if people are liable to be jerks or make jokes you’d rather not have to deal with while job hunting. Finding a job is stressful enough, ya know.

      –Siri (only make a joke if you want to be forever known as an unoriginal hack)

    3. Gjest*

      At my last job, when interviewing for interns, we just automatically started the phone call by asking if they went by the name on their resume, or a nickname. Much easier to get it all out in the open at the beginning.

  20. JMegan*

    Totally agree. I work on a team of six, which includes two “Matthews” who both go by the longer version of their name. My first day, my manager told me that Matthew A has “offered” to let us call him Matt so there’s no confusion.

    Except that he always introduces himself as Matthew, and I even heard him correct our manager one time, when she introduced him to an external person as “Matthew-but-we-call-him-Matt-because-we-have-two-of-them.” He was very polite about it, but it’s clear to me that he prefers Matthew. So I don’t think it was a case of him offering, so much as a case of our manager Deeming It So, and he decided this was not the hill he wanted to die on.

    But it still bugs me – after all, your name is a pretty important part of your identity! What if we had two Adams, or two Scotts, or two Todds on the team? We wouldn’t just rename one of them, we would figure something out – most likely by calling them by their first and last name if the context wasn’t enough to tell them apart.

    TL;DR – if you prefer Matt, then stick with Matt. Be polite, but be firm about it – your colleagues will figure it out.

  21. Anon*

    I had a job where there were four guys with the same first name in a workplace of about 40. While some came and went, there were still usually 2-3 “Bill”s on staff at once. Two of them even shared a last name. So we dubbed them Bill 2.0, Bill 3.0, and so on. The system worked for years and all of the Bills thought it was just fine.

    1. MaryMary*

      I am always amused when someone leaves an office, and the commonly named people don’t renumber themselves. So you have Bill 1 and Bill 3, but Bill 2 quit five years ago.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        I can see how that would happen. Especially if Bill 2 still gets referenced around the office, he’d keep his slot. I mean, imagine — “I got a call from Bill 2 the other day; he’s got a client he’s referring to us.”

        “Bill 2 down the hall?”

        “Oh, no, the old Bill 2. The current Bill 2 used to be Bill 3, but then Old Bill 2 left. Actually, now that I think about it, Current Bill 2 started out as Bill 5.”

      2. Elsajeni*

        There was only one person in my college social circle named Katie, but she was universally known as Other Other Katie, for basically this reason — when she started college, there were already a Katie and an Other Katie in the group, and even though they’d both graduated by the time I met her, she hadn’t managed to get a promotion to Regular Katie.

      3. EvilQueenRegina*

        My ex-boyfriend had a friend who was known to his friendship group as “Young Paul”. I wasn’t quite sure why, as he was the only Paul in that group and he also wasn’t the youngest person in it. Eventually, I did hear someone make a reference to “Old Paul”, but I never knew who that was – maybe someone who had left? For that reason, I only ever referred to the Paul I knew in the group as “Paul”.

  22. Anonymous*

    We have two people with the same first name, last name, and middle initial where I work. We differentiate by saying (or writing) Firstname Lastname in Department.

    This company doesn’t know how good they have it.

  23. Bee*

    Oh my God, I really hope this is the Matt who just got hired at my boyfriend’s work, lol, because my boyfriend is the first Matt. That would be the biggest coincidence! (OP, are you in NE Ohio?)

    In the case of my boyfriend, not only are the first names the same but the last names are extremely similar. It has actually caused confusion amongst his co-workers already, because it’s easy to mistake one name for the other if you just glance at it, and the new Matt hasn’t even started yet.

    I’m sure they’ll figure it out, though. Talk to your co-worker once you’re settled; I’m sure you guys can come to an agreement.

  24. Para Girl*

    When they call you “Matthew” and you never answer, they may get the point. I was once one of three Anns and we figured it out. When studying abroad, we had to Amys so they became Amy Un and Amy Deux. “Un” is masculine so it was strange that we all adopted it. And somehow, we all knew which one was Un and which one was Deux.

  25. Anonymous*

    At my first professional job (at an ad agency), I was introduced to our computer guy, John. It was a few years until I learned that his name was not John but Tim. It turns out that he has always went by his middle name (Tim) but that our HR insisted on calling him by John and he was such a laidback guy that he just went with it.

    I learned his real name when a friend of a friend (Sally) attended a party and a fellow party goer found out where she worked. The party goer said her good friend Tim worked there and asked Sally if she knew Tim. Long story short, Sally figured out that John/Tim were the same person. So weird.

    1. L McD*

      I could see myself doing that. Luckily, I have a common name that’s rarely “gone by” with several well-known nickname options, so people generally ask right off the bat. “So, do you go by x, or y, or…” But several times, at some (non-professional) meetings I go to, I’ve had people fill out a name tag for me according to the name that’s on my paperwork. I don’t bother saying anything. I’ll still answer to my full name even though I don’t really use it. It doesn’t cause any confusion in my case, but honestly if I were John/Tim I’d probably just do the same thing. :P

  26. Katie*

    Actually, I had the guy who used to cut my hair tells the story of a former salon that only allowed one stylist per name. His first name was James and since there was another James already there, he had to pick another name (key difference is he knew this going in and he got to pick what his “new” name would be). The argument they used was that they had several locations throughout the city with a centralized appointment number and most people didn’t know their stylist’s last name. He actually started going by his last name only and liked it better – I didn’t even know his first name until at least a year later! Except in a case like that (and even then, kind of iffy!), I agree with Alison and the other commenters that you get to choose your name!

    1. RJ*

      Yes, at a small call center of about 12, we had two people with the same first name. In order to differentiate between them for callers, one of them agreed to go by the first syllable of her last name instead (“Fay”). It worked out well, but she volunteered the solution and chose what name to use. It wasn’t assigned to her unilaterally by someone else.

    2. Mints*

      This actually seems really smart to me, because hair stylist is the type of job where the name is the brand. I’ve tracked down stylists by googling “Maria Chicago hair” when they switched salons. Having an unusual name seems like a plus!

  27. Marmite*

    I have recently changed my company e-mail address to reflect my preferred name. Only my grandmother calls me by my full name, but because my company e-mail had been set up as fullfirstname.lastname my full name showed up in people’s inboxes. Even though I signed my e-mails with my preferred name people would stick with the full version. It finally bugged me enough that I changed it.

  28. Ann Furthermore*

    A name is such a personal thing — I don’t know why someone thinks that they can just change it on a whim. Alison’s advice is good — politely decline to be called “Matthew” but offer alternatives like “Matt S” or whatever your last initial is. At my company the CFO and one of the Finance directors are both named Robert. The CFO goes by “Bob” and when the director started, he was just “Robert” from the start. I don’t know if it was a pecking order thing (the CFO gets first dibs) or if he just prefers Robert, but it works out OK — not too much confusion.

    I attended a week-long training session a few years ago and there were a bunch of people from the a local branch of a federal government agency in the class too. When I told them where I worked, they said, “Oh yeah, we’ve got a contractor working for us who worked there,” and told me his name. He’s an Indian guy who does IT development. I then said that it was confusing while he worked there, because we had 3 Indian guys with same variations of that name: Rahesh, Ramesh, and Rajesh, so you had to think for a minute before sending out emails, IM’s, etc. Then one of the people from that agency said, “Yeah, we have that problem too. We just call them all Mike,” and laughed like it was the funniest thing ever. They must have seen my eyebrows shoot up or something, because none of them talked to me for the rest of the week. But really — I just couldn’t believe it. It was so close to the classic ignorance of, “oh they all look the same to me,” that I was just appalled.

    I also did some contract work at place years ago, and there was an Indian consultant there whose name was “Danish.” He always pronounced it Dah-NISH, with the emphasis on the second syllable, so that’s what I called him too. But then one clueless lady always pronounced it like the breakfast pastry. Made me cringe.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Well, now I’m wondering if you just effectively called the Indian version of Mike, Mark, and Mitch all the same name, just because they’re unfamiliar to us. : )

    2. Jennifer*

      Reminds me of a programmer friend of mine who said he was constantly working with multiple guys named Shrini (I’m guessing on the spelling). I have never heard this name anywhere else, except at this guy’s jobs. I guess it’s popular in the computer world?

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        It might be a shortened version of Srinivas. We have an Indian guy in our group with that name, and he goes by “Shrini.”

  29. JoAnna*

    At one of my jobs, we had three Joannas… and for a while we all sat in the same row of cubicles. Since I was the third and last Joanna to be hired, I was called JW or “J-Dub” (I found the latter hilarious). The other two were Joanna R. and Joanna G., since none of us went by Jo or any other variant.

  30. Stephanie*

    I had a boss who called me “Sheri” for like three months after I started. He claimed he was bad with names (it was a job where they had lots of people start in groups). After a while, I just had to go in his office and correct him. I don’t know why it was so uncomfortable to correct him!

  31. Shall remain nameless*

    I have a fairly uncommon (though not unheard of) first name. Unheard of enough that I have only met a total of 2 people in my life with my name. Through some odd fate, at a time when I was working for a manager who was a) not good and b) a little sadistic, we hired another person with my name in our tiny department of 5 people. Not only that, but we both had primary phone changing duties. We also had the same (common) middle name.

    My boss asked me, since I had been there longer, if I wanted to keep my name, or change to something different, because she thought it would be too confusing to have 2 of us. I looked at her like she was crazy, but I said I wanted to keep my name. SO SHE MADE MY NEW COWORKER CHOOSE A TOTALLY NEW NAME TO GO BY! Which she could never remember and didn’t answer to. It was awful.

    After about 2 weeks, we just started using our last names, like sane people.

  32. Simonthegrey*

    I go by a nonstandard nickname for my full name, one that is actually a name of its own. (For instance, if the usual nickname for Elizabeth is Beth, I use Becca). Plenty of people assume they know how to shorten my name, but I always correct them politely. It’s one thing to have a very common first name, but the name I go by is unusual, and I have never used either my first name OR any of the traditional nicknames for it. Because it is a name on its own, however, I have worked with people for whom it is their name, and it’s never been much of a problem.

    Right now at my workplace we have three Annas. One is Tall Anna, one is Pregnant Anna, and one is Anna H. I’m not sure what we would do if Pregnant Anna wasn’t pregnant, since she’s also tall and all three are blonde, but I’m sure we’d come up with something.

  33. Anonymous*

    I like “Matt 2”, it rhymes with Matthew sort of. I think the employer is just seeking a nickname that will prevent confusion. If OP doesn’t like his full name, it’s up to him to suggest an alternative. (says she who shares a name with three other women in her office. We go by our email abbreviations — i.e. the minimum number of characters needed to find our email name.)

  34. some1*

    I have a very common first name. I am so used to being referred to by both my first and last name from back in school that it’s not a big deal. I much prefer that than being called a different version of name that I never go by.

      1. Mephyle*

        I thought of Newhart too. Imagine if someone was actually in a workplace with a Larry and two Darryls. It would never get old!

  35. Nobody in particular*

    I used to go to a hairdresser whose boss gave her a work name because her own first name was already the same as a more senior hairdresser. I was shocked when I finally found out the ‘secret’ (it had been years and she discouraged me from talking about it in case the owner heard us) and it was really eye-opening. Truth be told, I didn’t feel good about giving my money to that scumbag hair salon owner. What else was he doing that the customers didn’t know about?

  36. Anon Coworker*

    So, talking about same names. . .A coworker introduced a new coworker to me one day, and I could not get past the introduction. The new person’s name was very unique, but it was the exact same name as someone I knew growing up. It was an unusual first name and last name. I just kept staring at her like she was an identity thief. I must have made her repeat her name three times, and finally she says, “You must know the other ____ ____.” And my pea brain could finally make sense of it! The other person was well known, having been a coach at a large, local high school, so it was not the first time ____ ____ had run into people giving her weird looks about her name. Turns out they had totally different spellings, but were pronounced the same.

    I was completely embarrassed, but we laughed about it for months whenever we bumped into each other.

    1. Anon Coworker*

      Should also mention, the new coworker told me that there were only two people with her name in the entire US, and both happened to live in the same county. I wasn’t completely crazy for thinking it was impossible.

  37. Anonymous*

    I’m the opposite. I don’t like shortened names for my first name. One of the names people mistaken me by is a different name in of itself. But I still have people call me by all the other names. Half the time I give up; I’ll fight bigger battles later.

    At my job too, someone else had the same first initial and last name. In my email address, the company added my middle initial. It throws a few people off.

  38. Mimi*

    My experience is the opposite: I work with someone who is VERY strict about being called Matthew, not Matt. It took me a little while to get used to it, but hey – if that’s his preference, who am I to judge?

  39. BadPlanning*

    I have a common female name that has many long/short/nearly the same versions. I started answering to anything close…

    I can say from personal experience that it’s unwise to start referring to someone as “New Wakeen” — as it implies there’s an “Old Wakeen” and many people don’t take kindly to being “Old Wakeen.”

    1. Mints*

      Haha me too!
      My name isn’t Kate, but something similar where there are a ton of chose variations. And in like Starbucks or restaurant tables where people call out my name,.I’ll respond to almost anything. Cat, Katie, Katia, and the (mis)spellings Kate, Cait, Cate. I’m just like “I think that’s me”

  40. Elizabeth West*

    At one place I worked, we had two Marks, two Dales, four Daves, two Steves (it was four but two of them left), and two Carls. Everyone just called the duplicate people by their whole name, i.e. Carl Smith or Carl Jones.

  41. Jubilance*

    I have a different name so no chance of having someone else with my name in the office, but I do find myself correcting people all the time, because my name sounds like a common name (just a difference in the first syllable). People make an assumption that I said the more common name, and I have to correct them immediately. Generally that works but there are the occasional people who think my name is common name and no amount of correcting them will change it.

    1. Jennifer*

      A friend of mine (her name is similar sounding to Lauren) and another fellow I know were talking about how when people get their names wrong, they frequently just don’t correct anyone. Rahul just answers to “Raoul” because it’s easier than correcting people incessantly.

  42. Sunflower*

    After reading the comments I wonder what it would be like to go by a totally different name at work. Would be kind of fun at first but I feel like I would end up feeling like 2 separate people honestly.

  43. KJR*

    My parents are from the East, transplanted to Ohio, where I was raised and live now. My first name is pronounced quite differently in NY/PA than it is here, so I had a bit of an adjustment when I was a kid. I pronounced my name like my parents did of course, but no one here could say it correctly. So now I’m the East Coast pronunciation with my family of origin, and another with everyone in Ohio. I think I gave up correcting people in elementary school. But, OP, I do think you should stick to your guns and not allow what you are called to be ruled by someone’s whim or convenience. I work with 4 “Bills”, and we just use the last name if needed. No reason they can’t do the same with you.

  44. Anon*

    Both my first name and last names can be personal names, and I get called by my last name all the time. Despite wearing a large nametag with only my first name on it.

    I also have no middle name, and I once worked at a place where schedules were marked with initials. I shared initials with someone who was senior to me. They invented a middle initial for me.

  45. Rachelle*

    I go by my middle name. For applications, I always put my full name so that it passes the background checks. I always say “You can call me First Name, but it’s been so long I don’t answer to it anymore.”

    You’re not going to turn around when they say “Matthew”. So it kinda destroys the whole point of changing your name.

  46. BostonKate*

    When I started my job, I was told I’d be called by my full name (Kaitlyn) as we already had a Katie and Kate. Turns out, the Kate is a Katie to everyone else in her life and they rechristened her Kate.

    Granted, I generally go by Kaitlyn, with friends that refer to me as Kate. It didn’t really bother me, but I was slightly weirded out that someone felt the need to announce it to me haha

  47. Vee from SD*

    In our HR department, the VP’s name was Kathy, so when a new member of the HR team was hired, they had her pick another name. Not Kathleen or Katherine, something completely different. Which made it weird for me when I saw New Kathy socially, I felt I should call her by her real name.

    I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of going by some random name, one that I had never been called before.

    1. Judy*

      Many of our vendors from China seem to do just that. Otherwise, how would someone from China end up with names like “Rainman” or “Butterfly”?

      1. Miranda Jane*

        We had a lot of Chinese girls at my school and they all went by Western names because no one could pronounce their Chinese names (Chinese pronunciation being about intonation as well as pronunciation). That’s probably what the vendors are doing.

  48. TheExchequer*

    My first name is Sarah. Oh, the many, many times I have been given the brush off with people saying, “No, not you, the other Sarah.”

    1. Anonymous*

      I’ve worked in an area with 2 Sara(h)’s, who shared the same middle initial and last name. Luckily, one spelled their name with an H, the other did not.

    2. Jennifer*

      This is why I generally don’t answer to my name being called out in public. They don’t mean me, they mean the other one.

      In the unlikely event that I were to spawn, I’d check the name popularity list and make sure I didn’t pick anything within at least the top 50.

      I pity the Isabellas.

  49. Julie*

    I used to think I was supposed to put my full legal name on my resume, but it was confusing when I got a job and then had to tell my employer, “well, actually my name is ‘Julie,’ not ‘LegalName.'” They had to change my email account and copy all of the messages from one account to the other.

    My current company requires that we use our full legal names for the email address. The problem is that I don’t go by that name, and I feel ridiculous telling people that my email address is X, but that’s not the name I go by. Fortunately, the alternate email address that’s allowed is “” They keep threatening to eliminate the first initial option, but it’s still working after several years.

    One last name story: Another Julie and I joined my college Glee Club, and the director decided that he would avoid confusion by spelling my name “Juli.” I actually liked it and used that spelling for several years after college. I only switched back when I started working in the corporate world. I thought the “alternative” spelling wasn’t professional enough. If I were making that decision today, I think I would probably keep the shorter spelling. :)

  50. dawbs*

    I will say that it *MAY* behoove Matt to figure out what he wants.

    Back in the dark ages, when I was a CSR, it got really important to have a name that was purely yours. If I *almost* closed a sale, and that person called back for “Sarah” (I have no idea why we had 3 million Sarahs, but we did) and they didn’t know the last name (and generally, they didn’t. For safety reasons, I avoided giving my last name!), the closest available Sarah got the sale.

    Being able to say “Okay, if you decide to go with that package, please call back and ask for me–I’ll have your paperwork waiting so we won’t have to re-do it. My name is dawbs –I’m the only dawbs working here,and I”m here until 3:00 most days!” worked much better than saying “I’m Betty S. No, S as in Sam. My extension is 5555.”
    (Unilateral name changes suck. But I told the new hires I trained why they might want to pick a name and stick to it)

    1. EA*

      an organization that I’ve worked with gives every phone agent a “stage name”, so that nobody has the same name.

      Which is how my friend Tim became known as “Hamilton”, and Erin became “Staci-Ann”

  51. Windchime*

    We have two guys with the same name in our small work group. We just tack the first letter of their last name on when there is room for confusion, so we have “Matt C” and “Matt N”. Not a big deal, and neither “Matt” minds.

  52. Nancie*

    Two Matthews? That’s child’s play. Try having a Gregory Hoffman and a Gregory Huffman. Who work in the same group, on the same product, with the same job title.

      1. Laura*

        My former workplace had a Laurel Cohen and a Laura Cohen , neither of which are me, so 2 Lauras and a Laurel. Sometimes we got each others’ calls, but we figured it out amongst ourselves.

  53. EvilQueenRegina*

    Stick to your guns on going by Matt. How would they try and manage it if you and someone else had the same name which was one that couldn’t be easily changed? I was one of five with my first name in my year at high school, and my best friend was one of seven with hers. Neither of our names is one that could be easily changed, but it was never a major issue.

    One thing I do get is, my surname is spelled the same way as a name that is quite a common first name here, but pronounced differently, and I’m always getting called by this first name instead of my real one, which does get annoying. It didn’t help that I had one job where that first name was the name of my predecessor.

  54. Kate*

    My kindergarten class had a Katy, a Kati, and a Katie when I showed up on my first day, and that’s how I ended up being Katherine for my entire K-12 education even though my parents called me Katie at home. And then school carried over to school, and college carried over to grad school, and then grad school became a workplace that already had a Kate, and in the end I was 30 by the time I started going by anything other than Katherine again. All because Kati, Katy, and Katie got there first.

    The real world is not subject to the One Steve Limit. You get to be Matt if you want to be.

  55. Moses*

    Ex-boss actually wanted to re-name me something “less biblical” sounding. Thanks but no thanks man!

    1. Chinook*

      I actually worked with someone called Jesus who pronounced with an Engliah accent, not Spanish. It freaked me out for the first few weeks because it seeme so wrong to my sort-of-religious ears. Though, I did get a kick out of the email sent to me at reception to keep a look out for the new guy because “today is the day Jesus is coming.”

  56. Suz*

    This reminds me of a job I had years ago. It was a very male dominated field. There were only a few women there and we were all named Sue. We used to joke that all women hired in the future would be required to go by Sue also.

  57. JustJ*

    I have a very common first (Jennifer)and last name and I just want to put it out there that if you are in the position of naming a child, just try to be more adventurous with thinking of names. I had to be hospitalized a while back and they grabbed the wrong patients file and I would have been in serious trouble if I had not been asked how I was recovering from my hysterectomy (which I had not had). When I go to my regular doctor (2 other people in his practice with my first and last name), optometrist (3 others with my first and last name), library (many multiples again), etc., I make sure they match my middle name, birthday, ID number, etc. because there have been so many mistakes in the past. I work in a place where there were three people with my same name and middle initial at one time.

    1. Jennifer*

      Seconding this. I’m grateful my last name is relatively uncommon (it’s more common online, but not IRL) because it’s the only thing telling me apart from everyone else. Being a Jennifer Smith or Nguyen? Oh god.

    2. Lindsay J*

      One of the guys I work with thought he was being adventurous by naming his daughter “Maia.” There are 5 other girls in her kindergarten named Maya or similar spellings who ALSO have the same last name as het. Sometimes trying to be adventurous doesn’t work.

    3. Anonymous*

      I (top-20 girls’ name in every year ever, when you add all the spellings together) and my husband (#1 boys’ name of the 1980s) had a baby in August. Our first guideline for naming was that anything on the top 10 in the social security list in the past 5 years was off the table, haha.

      (And one name we had liked has, over the past 5 years, moved from the 50s to the 30s to the teens, and we decided to let that one go, too.)

  58. Susan*

    This seems kind of juvenile of them to me. (It reminds me of first grade because that’s the last time I remember everyone distinctly had to have a different name.) In my last job, it was mostly all women so maybe that’s why there were a lot of people with the same name (or maybe it was coincidence). It wasn’t a big deal. People called people by their first name and if it was a situation where it was unclear who they were talking about they used their full name, like perhaps in an all-office meeting. “Jane Doe will now present our findings” versus lunch “Jane, pass the salt please!”

  59. Anon*

    I work for a very large beverage company. When another Latin American joined the team, Ignacio, and went by the same nickname as the original Nacho, we implemented a solution:

    Nacho Classic
    Nacho Zero

    It definitely worked.

  60. ella*

    I’m a little surprised that nobody has discussed how the OP got an email account in Victorian England, to say nothing if emails traveling through time. You wouldn’t think that would be something that the help would have access to.

  61. B*

    In a meeting once one of our IT staff referred to a colleague (not present) as ‘clever Sally’ (name changed). Three of us sitting round the table reeled. Christ knows how the other Sally in IT feels to know she’s the stupid one. Just a tip for if you want to choose a descriptor, don’t go with ‘clever’!!

  62. lifes a beach*

    at my first job, the Operations Mgr, had a hard time remembering new hires. One day he called me Suzie (that was his go to girsl name, when he couldn’t remember). I drew my self up, looked at him and said very clearly, “I am sorry, but my name is Karen!” He got very embarassed and apologized. He never forgot my name again. Later it became a joke between us. When I think back, probably not the right response for a new employee.

  63. Anonymous*

    I once worked at a location that had a Chris (male, manager), Christine (female, manager), Chris (male, supervisor), Chris (female, supervisor), Christy (female, supervisor), and Christine (female, supervisor), plus a Chris (male, employee), and a Crispy (Christine P. shortened her name to Chris P., and it all became one word … she didn’t mind), and a Kris (male, employee) … now THAT was confusing.

    Right now, I work with 2 people that share a first name, and the first 2 letters of their last name, so they are 1.0 (first one to join the team) and 2.0 (more recent hire)

  64. straws*

    At a previous job, I was required to use a nickname for my first name (that I didn’t use) and change my last name, because my boss decided that they were both too difficult for clients to remember. That job didn’t last very long.

    I’ve always found that people are usually able to work out what to call each other without additional assistance though. It seems weird to not allow that process to take it’s course naturally.

  65. teclatwig*

    I am a woman whose full, legal first name is generally used as a diminutive form of the full name. Working as an admin in offices, people often tried to “correct” to “my” full name. I went to college in my mid-20s, and when I landed a summer internship across the country, I decided I should expand my name to the full version. Let me tell you, people would call out my name and I wouldn’t answer. I finally realized that [fullname] wasn’t *my* name, they were just closely related.

    I realize that it’s a bit different for someone who was given the full version of a name, but I suspect it results in the same sense of “who are you talking to, because it isn’t me.”

    On a tangent, my name sounds like several others that end in the “ee” sound, and — while longname isn’t mine and shouldn’t be assigned to me — I also learned to let it roll off my back (as in, I answered to anything and everything) so long as I knew a person was talking to me, and that person was just passing through.

    1. Felicia*

      The same thing happens with my sister. Her name is Tori, just Tori, it’s not short for anything, Tori is her legal name . Yet people constantly try to call her Victoria, and won’t believe that’s not her name .

      1. Natalie*

        My grandmother once brought my aunt’s birth certificate to school because my aunt’s teacher refused to believe my aunt’s name was Katie, not Katherine.

  66. Phyllis*

    I’ve never worked with anyone with my name, but my husband has a sister with the same name, and she was single when we married, so there were two of us in town with the same first and last name. We live in a small town, and the confusion was when we would call and order a pizza or something. Either the person on the other end of the phone would start a conversation thinking they were talking to the “other” Phyllis, or they would deliver to the wrong address because they would think it was the other one. I finally started using my middle initial when ordering so they would know it was a different person. The confusion didn’t end until she married.

  67. Cassie*

    I had a ballet teacher who insisted on calling me Carla, because she thought my name was too kid-like and that the name Carla was more sophisticated. It was just for a couple of weeks one summer so I just lived with it.

    We used to have two Katherines in our department – one went by Kath while the other went by Katherine. They were also known as Katherine from upstairs, and Katherine from downstairs, since they sat on different floors. Other than that, we have not had any staffers with the same name… it’s kind of ironic, actually. We have a couple of foreign names (from non-English speaking countries) but everyone else just happens to have different “American” names.

    Back in middle/high school, we had 5 Jonathans in our class (of about 180 kids) – most went by Jon or John (no one went by Jonny) and their friends usually called them by their last names. We also had 2 Mikes (Michael), 2 Nates, and 2 Scotts. But oddly enough – only 1 Matthew!

  68. Diane*

    Back in my teaching days, when I called roll on the first day, I always asked students to correct my pronunciation or note if they preferred a nickname. One student, Ethan I think, asked me to call him Spicoli. So I did. It was about two years later when a former student from the same class told me that was from a movie and that was never, ever his nickname until my class, but it stuck with him all through college.

  69. JustM*

    I have a very uncommon name and a weird spelling of it. When someone needs a first name for something, like for a food order, I tell them my name and then say, as long as it start with M I’m good. I usually get a laugh, and the person then remembers my name. At some places I go to on a regular basis people there will even say Hi M or my name because it’s so memorable to them.

  70. mel*

    Might be wrong to assume that Matt is automatically short for Matthew. What if he was just born as “Matt”? It would be pretty weird to be called a name you’ve never been called ever.

    Kind of like how someone named John gets called “Jonathan” despite the fact that those are two completely different names.

    Though if you were signing resumes/forms/emails with “Matthew” you kinda had it coming.

  71. Anon*

    Haha, I’m glad there was a post like this! I’ve always gone by a nickname that’s not immediately apparent from my full name. Think Freddie for Winifred (without the male-female dichotomy) and I’ve generally done the “my name tag says Winifred but call me Freddie!”. I never knew it confused people!

    Also, to add to the long list of personal experiences, I once worked in a place that had 7 people, four of which were named Robert, two Roberto, Roberto, and Ryan. Both Robertos left after some time and then were replaced with someone named Russell. I know it’s not the 10 out of 11 girls named Jennifer but it was pretty cool for me in the context of things.

  72. Janie*

    I’m reminded of an episode of Scrubs where Dr. Kelso declares all male interns are Dave, and all female interns are Debbie, except the intern whose real name is Debbie and is called Slagathor (in the interest of fairness).

  73. Kelly*

    I am a Kelly and have always had good friends or co-workers that are Kelly’s (hello, 70s and 80s babies!) It has never been an issue for me to go by Kelly 2, Kelly S., or just [Last Name]. But I would take offense if any of these names were forced upon me. The OP is definitely not out of line with having a preferred name to go by.

  74. WorkerBee*

    I live in Russia, where there are comparatively few first names in common use, and the nicknames all sound the same. On our staff, we have four Dashas. Among the students, we often have three or four kids with the same name in the same class, or similar-sounding names – in one class I have three Anastasiyas, in another I have two Sashas (boy and girl), a Masha, a Dasha, a Pasha and a Natasha. Somehow, everyone manages to survive. This guy’s manager must be really lazy to not want to bother using a last initial.

  75. anonintheuk*

    My first name was among the ten most common given in the decade I was born, and my last name is the most common in the UK.

    When I worked for a national firm, the *other* Matilda Blenkinsop went on a conference, got drunk and into a fight. Could have been very awkward if not for the fact that we worked in such different areas that there was no way I could have been on that course.

    Then *another* Matilda, who had the same middle initial as me, married a Blenkinsop and elected to use her married name. She wanted my email address. I refused to give it up on the basis that I had been Matilda Q Blenkinsop for 25 years longer than she had. I forget what IT did in the end.

    1. B*

      I am amazed by this – why on earth did she think she had the right to YOUR email?! You had it first! People are crazy.

  76. IronMaiden*

    There is another person with my name in my organisation but in a different department where sometimes our roles overlap. I (as the more recent starter) told them I would be referred to as “the Awesome Iron”. So far, it’s working pretty well.

  77. Lanya*

    Our office is hiring, and they are seriously taking into consideration whether the new person would have the same initials as anyone who is already working there…

  78. anon*

    Really? Out of all the things to complain about we are complaining about names? It’s not as if new Matt is asian and they call him Matt-san. Give me a break, my employer can call me whatever they want as long as they don’t call my paycheck pesos!

  79. jennie*

    Three of my boss’s reports are named Jennifer. The other two are named Sue. We use last names or context to differentiate.

    I go for a weekend away with girlfriends every year where 2/5 of us are named Jen. Last names and context work there too (except my sister-in-law and I have the same first and last name, but we still work it out).

  80. Christine*

    I have the opposite problem… Everyone calls me Chris!!! My husband name is Chris, so it’s super annoying. The “I could never forget your names, I’ll just call you Chris” got old even before I made it to the altar. I’ve always been able to escape it in the workplace, but now since our CEO with a similar name goes by Chris, everyone assumes I like to be called the same. But, I don’t deal with external clients, so I’ve always just gone with it. When I introduce myself, I always use my given name. I don’t know why people always try to shorten it. Christine really isn’t that long…

  81. LP*

    We had 3 Kellys (Kellies?) in an office I used to work in so we would say K1, K2, and K3. They unfortunately all had the same last initial, so this was easiest.

  82. Cath@VWXYNot?*

    I’ve had roommates called Catherine, Cathy, and Kate (all at the same time), then another Cathy, then a Cat, then a Katie. In the first house, calls from parents were particularly difficult because my parents call me Catherine, Cathy’s parents call her Cath, and Catherine’s parents call her Cathy.

    My husband has the first name as a former student of mine. Hubby is Big Mark, student is Little Mark – but because hubby didn’t work with us, just socialised with us sometimes, it really confused new people. We had another Mark show up at work and when he was introduced to Little Mark, he said “so am I Big Mark?” and we said “no, we’ve already got one of those”. He wanted to be Tall Mark, but got English Mark instead. Now, after a lot of turnover, they have English Mark, Tall Mark, and French Marc, and almost no-one remembers who Big Mark is (although everyone remembers Little Mark, who actually worked there). We once ran into a group of them in the pub after work, and Big Mark was treated like a celebrity when I told them who he was!

  83. IronMaiden*

    At a former workplace, we had a lot of Margarets. They were Little Marg, Old Marg, Margie H and Tall Marg. then a new Margaret started. For some reason she ended up as Smelly Marg, even though her odour wasn’t an issue.

  84. Amy*

    My parents named me Amanda and called me Amy from day 1. So all my legal documents say “Amanda”. The first day of school/classes involved endless repetition of “I go by Amy”.

    And now, insult to injury, my college refuses to change the display name on my email to “Amy”. So when I email people who don’t know me well, they often call me “Amanda”, if they don’t read my sig line. SO FRUSTRATING.

  85. haha*

    I know of one workplace that had 5 roberts in the development team and they all needed variations on their name. It was quite funny apparently. Treat your new work name as a nickname that no one else will ever call you. They can be fun sometimes. I was given a funny nickname once (not derogatory at all) and it stuck. It makes me smile when I hear it from ex Coworkers. :)

  86. Rhymes with...*

    When I started my last job, they told me I couldn’t go by the name I go by because it *rhymed* with the CEO’s name and that would be confusing. I was the only woman who worked there at the time and there were less than 10 people in the office. There’s no way that would have been confusing, but I didn’t know I could stand up for myself then.

    After establishing myself there and after another person who went by the long version of my name started, I was able to transition back to using my actual name. The one I now use professionally as an author, etc.

    Guess who was the one single person who never respected the transition back to my professional name? My boss who didn’t like me and was eventually the main reason I left the company.

    So…if people won’t respect your name, it’s likely they won’t respect you. Speak up immediately if this happens.

  87. FRRibs*

    I’ve never been asked to change my name, but having a name combination that is not uncommon in the US and one of the top combos in Ireland, coupled with working for an organization with a couple hundred thousand employees who don’t get to pick their email name, causes a lot of confusion. One of them even works in the same facility!

    Not a week goes by where I’m not sent emails or meeting invites intended for some strange name ursurper.

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