can I refuse to travel for work, I got emotional in a meeting, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I refuse to travel for work?

I started a position two and a half months ago, working as an academic advisor in higher education. The job description for this position did not mention anything about traveling. The contract I signed did not mention anything about traveling. The only thing that came up in the interview was the question “What have you done in the past for professional development?” which could be a variety of things. I mentioned that for a previous position, I coordinated ADA services, which required me to keep up with the latest changes in regulations. I subscribed to a ADA newsletter, watched webinars, and attended conferences. I didn’t mention they were state and regional conferences, not national. Since this is a grant-funded position, I felt that I wouldn’t be asked to do long distance travel due to costs.

Anyway, the reason I can’t do long distance traveling is due to a sick family member I am helping to take care of. It is actually been something I have helped with since I was a child: my great grandmother struggling with Alzheimers, my grandfather battling emphysema, my father in a vegetative state, my grandmother and uncle battling cancer, and now a person we have adopted as a family member battling heart problems and physical limitations. Therefore, I know this will be ongoing. My mother works three jobs to support herself and has limited hours to help out, which is one of the reasons I took this job to be closer to family to help out. Since my previous job limited me to state and regional conferences, I never had this as an issue.

My employer wanted me to go to Puerto Rico on my first day on the job for training. This same training was offered online just not at that time, which I was willing to do. I showed the employer the conference in Puerto Rico cost $1600 and that didn’t include hotel and transportation and it was a one-day training. I was able to side step this with the argument of cost, but it is being discussed again. What should I do?

You need to be up-front about this! Lots of jobs require occasional travel even if it’s not mentioned in the job posting; it’s just a common part of business for a lot of people. They should mention it from the start if it’s frequent travel, but most places won’t think to mention it if it’s just the occasional short trip. If you absolutely can’t do it, you should mention it as part of negotiating the offer, so that you can (a) find out before you take the job if it’s a deal-breaker for them and (b) possibly come to an understanding from the beginning.

It’s too late to do that now, obviously, but I’d go to your boss and say that you hadn’t realized that you might be asked to travel and so you wanted to explain that you’re generally not able to do that because you take care of a sick family member. Ask if it’s something that you’ll be able to work around or not, and see what she says.

2. I got emotional in a meeting

I am a mid-20s professional in a summer internship for my graduate program. Many interns are offered jobs at the end. So far it’s been going well, and I especially love my senior manager, Max, who is my boss’s boss’s boss. We have meetings every couple of weeks, and I expect him to be involved in hiring decisions.

Today, I had a meeting with Max to critique my work from this summer. A minute before walking into the meeting, I glanced at my phone and saw that my boyfriend had just texted me. One of his oldest friends, who I’ve met and spent a lot of time with, passed away unexpectedly.

I tried to concentrate during the meeting, but I think I was visibly upset. At points I was clenching my jaw to keep from crying (obviously I didn’t). I’m worried now that I came across as someone who has major issues accepting criticism, or who gets emotional when given feedback.

This was a small group meeting, so all of the focus wasn’t on me, and I’m not sure how noticeable my facial expressions were. Max mentioned several times things like “it’s normal to be really stressed!” Everyone is, but I’m afraid it was directed at me and my grimace. My eyes may have been slightly glassy at points too.

I don’t know if it’s more awkward to bring this up when no one may have noticed and potentially look like I’m fishing for attention, or to let it go and potentially look like I’m uncomfortable with feedback. I feel silly for how strong my reaction was, but I’m really worried about my boyfriend and sad about his friend. I have been considering drafting a casual email apologizing and explaining the situation. What do you think?

This was a completely normal reaction, and anyone who knew what happened would immediately understand. But yeah, it’s definitely possible that someone who didn’t know the context would think you were really upset about what you were hearing in the meeting.

I’m a huge fan of just plunging in and explaining in situations like this. Even if it can feel a little awkward to do so, it’s usually better than letting the mistaken impression remain. I think a quick email explaining would be fine. You could say something like this: “I think I might have come across as upset or uncomfortable in our work critique meeting earlier this week, and I want to make sure I don’t leave you with the impression that I’m uncomfortable with feedback. Right before we started, I’d received word that a friend had died — so if you noticed me seeming off, please know it was that, not anything about our meeting! I really appreciate the time you took to give me feedback, and I wanted to make sure you didn’t have the opposite impression.”

I’m sorry about your friend.

3. Did I err by talking to this candidate about salary?

I’m wondering if I erred in a recent screening interview with a potential candidate. My division is (finally) opening a position parallel to mine. For a variety of reasons, there’s a short list of pre-vetted candidates that we can chose from. There was only one candidate with the appropriate skills and training for our division in pre-vetted candidate list. My boss tasked me with calling the candidate and seeing if this was someone that would be a good fit for our group.

It was pretty evident from the start that this was a borderline candidate at best. I very badly want another person in the position parallel to mine — I’ve been covering this empty position for nearly two years now and I’m burning out. But the candidate rambled from the start, almost immediately asked about the compensation, and didn’t seem to have much relevant experience to the position, despite having a relevant degree. When we began the conversation, I introduced myself as his peer and *not* from HR. I didn’t really know what to do when he started asking compensation questions. I know my salary and I know what they are likely to offer him. I initially demurred and tried to change the topic, but as we kept talking, he stated that he wouldn’t want the position if it was a step down from his current salary, and kept asking about benefits and compensation.

So, I paused and wavered … but I asked him what his current salary was. I said he didn’t have to answer, as part of the question. He gave me a ballpark figure, and I responded with a ballpark figure of what my salary is. My salary might not be what he gets, since I’ve got more years in the job than he does, but either way it’s $20,000 lower than his current position (realistically, he might be looking at $30,000 less and in a more expensive city than his current location, which I’m sure he knows). Plus it sounds like our vacation and sick leave is less generous. Which I also told him when he asked.

I know it’s a bit late now, but should I have gone into HR topics at this early stage, and as a potential peer/non-HR representative? I can’t help but feel that I overstepped and shouldn’t have asked. I’m not from HR and I don’t know for sure what they’ll offer him. On the other hand, he told me he wasn’t going to accept a step down, and I didn’t want to waste his time and money flying out for an interview. What was the right thing to do?

Yeah, in general you shouldn’t talk compensation without explicit authority to do so from your manager, since you might not have the right information or they might have specific preferences about how you handle that topic.

That said, since he said he kept asking about pay, it would have been fine for you to say, “I’m not the person to talk to about compensation, but if you want to tell me what range you’re looking for, I can pass on that number with a note that it doesn’t make sense to move forward if we wouldn’t be able to meet that.”

In other words, you shouldn’t be drawn into talking about salary without having real info and the authorization to do it, but it’s fine to pass on information from him, since he was stressing it.

4. My name is wrong on our org chart

My given name is Alexandra and I’ve always been called Alexandra, since the day I was born. All my life, people have changed it to “Alex.” It may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me (especially since it happens so often). My name is not Alex. My name is Alexandra. And I don’t really understand why it happens so often. I don’t know if it’s because Alex is a more common name, or I happen to have met all of the world’s worst listeners (“Hi. I’m Alexandra.” “Nice to meet you, Alex”), or what. But it happens ALL THE TIME.

Anyway, I started a new job three weeks ago and the COO just sent out a new organizational chart for our department. Yep, the person who works here is Alex Smith, not Alexandra Smith. I wanted to scream when I saw it. Is there a polite way I can let the COO know that’s not my name, and ask her to change the chart? Or would that make a terrible impression (we’ve only spoken twice)? I especially don’t want my incorrect name on a chart that dozens of people will see.

The COO probably isn’t the one who created the chart or who’s in charge of making corrections to it. She probably has an admin who handles it, and that’s the person you should ask to correct it. If you’re not sure who that is, ask your boss by saying this: “Somehow my name got on the org chart as Alex, which I never go by. Do you know who I should talk to about correcting it?”

And then just address it straightforwardly with that person: “My name is wrong on the org chart. It should say Alexandra rather than Alex. Could you correct it there?”

That’s really it. Treat it the same way you would a typo in your name.

5. Should my manager contact the places I’m applying before they ask for references?

I will be leaving my job soon due to moving out of state for my husband’s job. My current boss is aware of this and we are currently searching for a person to fill my position, and I am searching for new positions in our new city. My boss has been extremely impressed with my work while I’ve been here and has been chomping at the bit to talk to anyone I interview with and give me a glowing reference.

I think I know what your answer will be, but is it ever appropriate for a candidate’s current manager to reach out to a hiring manager before the hiring manager asks to check the candidate’s references?

Only if she happens to know them. In that case, yes, it’s a great thing to do. But if not, then no — in that case, it’s going to feel too salesy.

{ 471 comments… read them below }

  1. Becky*

    RE #4

    I have kind of the inverse–my given name is often actually the nickname for a longer name and many people assume that my given name is the longer name and call me by that.

    So for example, with my handle here, “Becky” would be my real given name, but people assume it is actually “Rebecca” and address or call me that.

    I annoys me a great deal!

      1. Amber Rose*

        My grandpa Cal had that problem. It wasn’t Calvin, it really was just Cal.

        I feel grateful that my name doesn’t lend itself to much of that.

        1. tigerlily*

          I think it’s the spelling. I don’t think I know anyone who spells it Jon without that being short for Jonathan. If it’s NOT short for Jonathan it’s usually spelled John.

          1. Middle Name Jane*

            I knew someone whose name was Johnathan, and people constantly misspelled it by leaving the “h” out. He went Johnathan, never John.

          2. KelJohnson*

            Jon Snow, Jon Hamm, Jon Stewart…..there are enough that the spelling really isn’t unusual.

            1. Former Employee*

              Jon Stewart and Jon Hamm are both named “Jonathan”. Maybe it’s a British thing for people to be named Jon, spelled without an “h”.

          3. Yellow*

            My husband’s name is spelled Jon and is not short for Jonathan. I’m only aware of him and his uncle who have this spelling of that name in that way. I have seen this on official documents it definitely is a name but maybe not as common as Jonathan and “Jon” for short.

    1. Penny*

      Same here. My name is Penny, but people always assume that it’s short for Penelope. When I was in school I often had teachers calling me Penelope and it was awkward to have to correct them.

      1. Printer's Devil*

        I work with a Penny who is not a Penelope. She’s fairly new, so I haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask about her name, because it’s unusual and I’m intrigued.

    2. Felicia*

      My sister had that problem too – just Katie and people would call her Katherine. I don’t understand why people do that. If someone tells you their name is Alexandra that’s what you call them, if they tell you their name is Alex, that’s what you call them. You don’t get to choose on their behalf

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        That one’s extra silly because Katie can be short for so at least half a dozen longer names!

        1. Kate*

          Yep. I get called Katherine a lot, but my full name is Kathleen. People can get weirdly defensive about getting corrected on it too. “Actually it’s…”, “I know I know, you go by Kate.”, “Well, yeah, but also my name is not Katherine.” Hopefully Alexandra will not encounter that.

          1. Kathleen Adams*

            LOL – I get called “Katherine” a lot, too, even though I don’t go by “Kate” at work. I don’t quite get why it’s so difficult to keep the two names straight, but it happens quite often, so apparently it is.

          2. KatiePie*

            Another Kathleen here! I don’t know why the Katherine mistake bugs me so much but it does. I go by Katie, but don’t get annoyed at all by Kate or Kat or anything. But Katherine is not at all my name.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Yeah, my sister’s name is Caitlin. My brother and I call her Cait, and my mom often calls her Caiti. Because of the way her name is spelled and the way we always spelled her nicknames (both in my head and on paper) it took a while for it to dawn on me that those are pretty much “Kate” and “Katie.”

      2. Princess Carolyn*

        I’ve known one or two Katie-not-Katherines and a Jenny-not-Jennifer. Their parents said they knew they’d never call them by the longer name, so they didn’t give it to them.

        1. Kathleen Adams*

          I know a Chris-not-Christopher. He’s sort of named after a grandfather named Christian, but his parents decided that was a name that would be a little difficult to live up to, at least in America. He corrects people alllll the time.

          And I recently heard about a new baby boy named “Ernie.” Kind of odd if you ask me, but oh well. His parents didn’t ask for my opinion, even though I am so very wise. :-)

      3. Kateshellybo19*

        I actually am a Katherine but have always gone by Kate. You would be amazed at the number of people who persist, even after a direct correction, in calling me Katie.

      4. Anon for this*

        My legal name is Katherine and I’ve always been called Katie. My parents wanted to name me Katie, but the grandparents insisted that I needed a “proper” name, so they gave me the full legal name and then proceeded to never call me by it.

        In high school I went by Katherine at school because there were 5 or 6 other Katies in my class. I promptly switched back to Katie once I went to university and that’s the name I chose for my email alias and name badge and everything when I started working at my job (still there, which I didn’t expect then). Now approaching 40, I wish I’d chosen to be called Kate at work, because Katie seems like a kid’s nickname.

      5. Nic*

        I’m a Katie who got Katherine all the time, too! For the most part it didn’t bother me too badly, I just wouldn’t listen for it and thereby not answer sometimes. Not good when someone was attempting to give you the Full Name Treatment.

      6. KMonster*

        People do that because they put themselves first over others. It is a control thing. They feel that they have to show that they are the “boss/parent”. Alex will be little Alexandra. Why? Because the big bad “parent” said so.
        Humanoids are all about control.

    3. LiveAndLetDie*

      This happens to my sister all the time. Her name is just Jenni, and she gets called Jennifer a lot. She even once had a teacher in grade school who refused to call her Jenni because “I don’t use nicknames in my classroom,” and my mother had to send in a copy of the birth certificate to prove that it wasn’t Jennifer. It’s ridiculous what some people will do about other people’s names. Just use what the person says they prefer!

      1. Ama*

        One of my lifelong best friends is a Jacquelyn and when we were in junior high our biology teacher insisted on calling her Jackie, which she has never gone by (and hates). No amount of “I go by Jacquelyn” or writing her name out on every single assignment and test she turned in solved the problem. It really upset her — I kept telling her she should tell her parents, but her older sibling was going through some serious issues at the time and I think she felt like her name problem wasn’t that important comparatively.

        To me it’s particularly egregious if it’s a teacher doing the misnaming — it sets such a bad precedent for kids to feel ignored on something that essential.

          1. SQL Coder Cat*

            The comments on that article reminded me of why this is one of the few places I am willing to comment. The vitriol on the internet gets out of control very quickly without strong site rules enforced by moderation. Thank you Alison for making this a great place to be!

          2. Anion*

            I used to work as a CS rep at a major credit card company (phones). I constantly got compliments–and happier, more fun calls overall–simply by pronouncing peoples’ names correctly.

            My secret was to just ASK them, at the beginning of the call, what their name was (we had to do this anyway) and LISTENING to what they said. Then I’d repeat it exactly as they said it.

            The number of pleased, surprised, “Hey! You said my name right!”s I got from various Wisniewskis, Czernowictzes, and Nahasapemapetalons was astounding.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          It rots my socks to hear about so many people on here who have had these experiences with their teachers. My first day routine is always to take a paper copy of my list and tell the student that now is the time to let me know if they have any nicknames or other names that they go by. I’ll explicitly ask kids with frequently nicknamed names “Is it Alexandra or Alex?”. If their preferred name is anything different than what’s on the roll, I’ll make a note and then correct the electronic version of the list and reprint it so I have the visual reminder. It doesn’t take any time at all and starts us off on a positive note so why not?

          1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

            That’s how I handle teaching too (though mine is just a couple times a week!). When I meet a new student, I ask how they’d like me to address them, and I stick to it!

            When I meet new people, I always hope they lead with their preferred name, because the first name is always going to stick with me strongest. I’m 100% willing and able to adjust to make sure I address people the way they prefer, but my brain will still try to stick with the first name I was given at meeting them.

      2. Llama Wrangler*

        I’ve got an account at work that is managed by a team of two men. One is a John and the other is a Jonathan, according to their email addresses. We often have to send emails to the two of them and things get confusing. Not only do they both have the same first initial of their last name but Jonathan prefers to be called John, not Jon as one would logically assumed. Gah!

        1. Bryce*

          My small high school had something like six Jenny Smiths in my year, three of whom were on the soccer team. That got confusing.

          1. BananaPants*

            We had 4-6 each of Jennifers, Jessicas, Melissas, and Katies in a high school class of around 250 students. Yay, early ’80s naming trends!

      3. Snark*

        And this is what it boils down to: your preferences are perfectly irrelevant, what you think they “look like” is perfectly irrelevant, whether the shorter name is easier to pronounce or less formal is perfectly irrelevant. Just call people what they introduce themselves as, without exception and without overthinking it.

      4. Optimistic Prime*

        That is such an annoying hill to die on for a teacher. Why would you not call someone the name they want to be called, regardless of whether or not it’s a nickname?

      5. Kate*

        I used to work with a teacher who refused to do any kind of nickname, including the year she had a kid who went by his middle name. It confused the crap out of everybody, because after years of going by James, the kid was suddenly being called Thomas. I never could figure out why the parents didn’t raise holy hell about that.

      6. Stranger than fiction*

        What a dumbass teacher. I was thinking that if the Op gets resistance, a good example might be “if my name was Andrea, would you automatically call me Andy and put that on the org chart?”

    4. MicroManagered*

      In email, I always start with Rebecca (or whatever the full name is) if I’m not totally sure the person goes by Becky. If they respond and sign Becky, then I’ll start using Becky too. But if I looked you up in the company directory and you were listed as Becky Jones, I’d start with Becky.

      1. Luke*

        Good to see someone uses the directory.

        I was on a quarterly recognition list of employees recently promoted ,and whoever put it together failed to spell my name correctly.


        1. Boop*

          I’m part of a competitive league (totally unrelated to work) and they CONSTANTLY misspelled my first name. Got my last name right (which is weird because it is very often misspelled), but misspelled my first name on everything. Now I have a plaque declaring that someone with a name that sounds the same as mine but is not me won the division.

          Drives me crazy, but not as crazy as when people shorten my general-use name (which is already a nickname for my given name)!

        2. Lindsay J*

          I have people spell my name incorrectly when responding to an email with my name in it. At every job I’ve ever had. I don’t understand it. It’s not even like they have to look it up. It’s right there.

          I’ve noticed in my new job that that hasn’t happened so far, and I wonder if it’s because my director (using these names as an example, but it’s a name that sound the same and has a significant difference in spelling and they use the less common one) is a Rebekah vs a Rebecca and that that has encouraged a culture where people are conscientious about getting names correct.

      2. Jen*

        That’s why when I started my current job, I specifically asked to have my email listed as Jen, not Jennifer. At my last two jobs my email was Jennifer, and trying to get them to call me Jen was impossible (I never go by Jennifer, so it’s grating to hear people address me as such).

        Now, trying to get them to stop spelling Jen with two Ns in the salutation is another matter…

        1. Jenifer*

          As a Jenifer with one “n” my name is never spelled correctly. I typically go by Jen, which helps, but I just started a new job and my boss is Jennifer (two n’s) and everyone knows her by Jen. She asked if I could sign things as Jenifer, but this is difficult since I’ve been singing emails as Jen for 20 years! Also everyone spells Jenifer wrong… Now we’re trying using our last initial with an email sign off. Oy!

          1. Anion*

            At the risk of outing myself, I am Stacey with an -ey. At one point in my life, I had three different spellings on three forms of legal ID, simply because I stopped bothering to correct people years ago.

            I also answer to Tracey, Daisy, and (for reasons I have never been able to fathom, but it happens alllll the time) Stephanie.

            I just stopped caring, basically. But I never liked my name, so that might help wrt that.

    5. Narrator for bad mimes*

      Mine’s the reverse of the example. My name’s Alex and people keep calling me Alexander.

      1. Another Alex*

        Yeah, also “just” Alex here, and people always ask me “what’s it short for” or assume it’s Alexis or Alexandra or Alexa or something.

        I had one girl in school ask me to go by “Aly” because SHE went by Alex, even though her full name is Alexandra and how dare I use HER nickname.

    6. Judith*

      Judith here, and yes, I’ve already heard – and grown very tired of – Judy!Judy!Judy! My name is Judith.

      1. Temperance*

        I like mortally offended a different Judith, who apparently only goes by Judy, by having her name tag made with her actual name. How about you give us the name you want us to use when you register, lady, we aren’t mind readers.

        1. Mirve*

          And this is why it is useful for registrations to have separate fields for name and preferred name (to be used on name tags). Covers all cases where legal (credit card etc) differs from what you want people to call you.

          1. JessaB*

            This. Exactly. Before you make out credentials, IDs, security tags, etc. ASK people what to put on them.

            I have a legal name that goes before Jessa and more that come after. I don’t USE it – 3 people in Mr B’s family with it and who wants to explain that you’re now number four and NO not that cousin in Ireland and not the one Rhode Island. And one of the afters is Margaret and OMG the amount of Margarets in the Irish side.

            I don’t get mad if people call me it, but nobody would have a clue who you were talking about if you did. I have a bunch of those first name stickers you can get around school shopping time (the ones kids put on their books and stuff and are cute) that have Jessica on them and I tend to add them to anything that’s printed wrong.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Right. Similar to when employers get business cards for their employees. Usually they let the employee proof theirs.

        2. Kate 2*

          I agree completely! Organizing an event is a massive amount of work. If someone cares so much about having a different name than their given one on the name tag, it’s their responsibility to tell you, not for you to ask hundreds or thousands of people what nickname they want on their tag!

    7. K.*

      I know sisters who both have what are traditionally thought of as nicknames for very common names. They introduce themselves and people say “Short for …” and they both say “No, just [name].” I also know a Jennie, short for nothing.

        1. JessaB*

          I know a tonne of Drews that are not short for Andrew and OMG the amount of people that think not only does Drew = Andrew, but since they’re obviously Andrew we can call them Andy.

          1. gsa*

            Oh no…

            When people called me Andy, I said; my name is Andrew.

            Dear Lexi,

            Please tell people you given name, apparently repeatedly.

            All my best,

            Andi… :D

    8. CMDRBNA*

      Uuuugh, LW #4, I feel your pain. My name is not terribly unusual, but when my parents picked it, I don’t think they were aware of the pronunciation (think, using a short vowel instead of a long one) so the pronunciation is kind of odd, but that being said, it’s phonetic and a short name.

      I DO NOT understand how people manage to butcher it as badly as they do. I could understand calling me the more common pronunciation, which is fine and I’ll answer to it, but even after repeating myself multiple times and using a rhyming mnemonic to explain the pronunciation, they still can’t seem to get it and will do stuff like add extra syllables or letters and make it way harder than it actually is.

      I don’t care if people screw up the pronunciation if they’ve only seen it on email or whatever, but I don’t understand why I have to correct people seven, eight, nine, to infinity times and still have them fuck it up. It’s not a hard name to get right.

      1. Sal*

        To be honest some people’s minds just can’t pronounce certain short/long vowels correctly. My mom has this problem with a few names (and other words). When she’s talking to one of my good friend’s she literally stops and thinks about it and still can’t get it right. So maybe some people are being careless but I’d go easy on people for this one. It’s usually i vs e (ex she would call a pen a pin) and long vs short a (she would call a man a mahhn – not that she actually does this one. She can pronounce the sounds, just within certain words they give her a lot of trouble)

        1. Becky*

          It is also a dialect thing- in my dialect, “pen” and “pin” are pronounced the same, to the point that I cannot differentiate between those two vowel sounds- I cannot hear the difference nor can I produce them differently.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Where I live now Aaron and Erin are pronounced the same.

            I was thrown for awhile at first because I heard people talk about “Erin” in IT, and I hadn’t met or seen her. After awhile I mentioned it, and people were like, “No, you’ve met him before. He’s the one that set up that monitor.”

            I was like “Oh, Aaron.”

            “Yeah, that’s what we said. Erin.”

            In my original dialect Aaron is pronounced more like AIR-RIN while Erin is pronounced more like ERR-in. Here, they’re the same (both ERR-in) and people hear them the same apparently.

            Don and Dawn caused a similar issue. In my original dialect d-on and d-aww-n, here both d-on.

            Other vowel merges I can get with context, generally. Marry, Mary, and merry are all different parts of speech and unlikely to be used in a similar sentence. If I’m in the kitchen I’m looking for a pan, sewing I’m looking for a pin, the office I’m looking for a pen.

            But the names without a gender cue get me. (And even at first with the gender cue it took me a moment. My first thought was “huh, I’ve never met a guy named Erin before,” before it went to “Oh, they mean Aaron.”)

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yes, I think of Erin and Aaron as being pronounced the same and honestly I’m confused by your phonetic explanations because I would also think of “air” and “err” being pronounced the same. I’m so curious what you are pronouncing differently from me!

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            My husband says those words like that. He pronounces his last name so that it rhymes with pin and later I realized it is really supposed to rhyme with pen (which he says just like pin). I’m like… I’ve been saying your name wrong all these years, but only because *you’ve* been saying it wrong! I continue to pronounce it like he does because it’s his name, but now I feel kind of weird about it lol.

      2. Bryce*

        My mother is Shari, pronounced shah-ree. Unfortunately the restaurant chain and children’s actress, among others, pronounce it shair-ee. *Nobody* gets it right on the first try, and an unfortunately large portion don’t get it right on the eighteenth try either.

    9. Kiki*

      My sister has a similar problem. Her name is Allie, and so many people think it’s short for Allison and will address her as Allison if they’re trying to be formal. But nope, her name is just plain Allie.

      People also ask me if Kiki is short for something but it’s not.

        1. Alienor*

          One of my uncles was a Bobby-not-Robert, and I’m pretty sure he fought that one in vain all his life.

    10. Normally A Lurker*

      Oh! I have this so bad. I was named after a family member with the exact same name. My name is a weird name that seems like a shortened form of a more popular name and call me the more common instead. But it’s not a shortened form of the more common one. It’s my name. Full stop. They often don’t believe me until I pull out my driver’s licence and am like – look. that’s not my name.

      I have never understood why people don’t believe you when you say your name is XXX.

      1. Kateshellybo19*

        We have a family name “Rella” and my poor niece gets called Ella and Bella constantly.

    11. Basia, also a Fed*

      My name is Barbara, and no one will ever ever ever call me Barbara, no matter how many times I tell them I don’t prefer “Barb.” And, it is amazing, because there are several people at work who insist on being called by their full name (Richard, Deborah), and even THEY call me “Barb.” Basia is what my Polish grandmother calls me, but she’s the only one. As mentioned elsewhere, I have a close friend whose name is Jennie, and she is frustrated by official mail and email that is addressed to “Jennifer.”

    12. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      Relatedly, I dated a Luke for several years and one of his pet peeves was people named “Lucas” who shortened their name to Luc/Luke, which he felt was “stealing” his name, lol.

    13. RJGM*

      I don’t have this problem, but my husband’s a Jake, and I assumed his name was Jacob for the first six months or so of our relationship. Nope! Just Jake.

      Luckily he’s not super picky about it; whenever he meets a Jacob-goes-by-Jake, he jokes that he should become Jake-goes-by-Jacob :)

      1. OP#4*

        Wow you guys, I feel so much better. Maybe we could form a support group. This is so common! I’ve gotten a lot of these same responses when I’ve correct people: “I’m going to call you Alex,” “Whatever, it’s the same thing,” “Really? Because you look like an Alex,” and my very favorite, “Ugh. Alexandra is commonplace.” I would have corrected someone at work who called me Alex in the moment, but was worried that sending an email about the chart would seem like I was making a big deal over nothing, or even picking a fight. As usual, Alison’s advice is great- how did it not occur to me to talk to the admin?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’ve been told that I just seem like a Fa by someone whose communication with me was solely through email. For work.

          Well, gosh, given that I have signed every email to you “Falling” maybe there’s a hint that I don’t like “Fa” no matter what my email paragraph formation looks like to you.

        2. Snark*

          As someone with a similar issue – I go by my middle name – I’ve found that a level, dispassionate, but quite firm “Like I said, I do prefer Snark” or “Be that as it may, I do prefer to go by Snark” or “Actually, it’s not the same to me, I prefer Snark” helps.

          Failing that, “DID I STUTTER NO I DID NOT” seems to drive the point home.

        3. Arjay*

          You are so not alone.

          Jerkface: Do they call you Bobbie?
          Me: No
          Jerkface: Well, I’m going to call you Bobbie!
          Me: Well, I’m not going to answer you then.

          1. AMPG*

            I’ve done that to people! My name doesn’t have very common nicknames, but a couple do exist, and one of them I absolutely HATE and refuse to answer to. Every once in a while someone tries, and I just ignore them. When they get my attention, I say, “Oh, I never use that nickname, so if you call me by it I won’t know you’re talking to me.”

        4. that's my name*

          I always introduce myself as “Jennifer”, although my family and many of my friends call me “Jen”. Once people get to know me, they also sometimes call me “Jen”. I have sent so many emails signed “Jennifer” only to get a response starting with, “Hi Jen, blahblah”
          I started a new job working and a coworker was someone I knew in college. She took it upon herself to call me Jen, which is fine I suppose. When I introduced myself as Jennifer at work to others, she loudly and condescendingly sqwaked, “OH, you go by JENNIFER now?”
          In my head I’m thinking, “It’s my name…”

          What gives someone the right to think they can make you feel guilty for using your NAME??! It’s not being annoying or selfish or high-maintenance to ask someone to call you by your NAME!

        5. Betty Cooper*

          My full name’s Elizabeth, which has about 147 different nicknames. The number of times I’ve had to remind people I’m Betty–not Liz, not Lizzie, not Eliza–is staggering. One semester, I just went ahead and let the professor in one of my online classes call me Liz because it was just easier that way.

          1. Asile*

            I’m also legally Elizabeth, and Liza grates my nerves like NOTHING ELSE. And the nickname I use sometimes gets pronounced Eliza. I correct that one fast – I’ve only let one person ever call me that – even though any other mispronunciation of my nickname doesn’t faze me.

        6. Mrs Pitts*

          Enlist a couple of people to be your ambassadors. Explain the situation and ask that they always call you Alexandra and if they are willing, correct anyone who uses Alex when you’re not around. After a time it will be the new normal.

          I did this for a Richard whom everyone called Rich and it worked!

    14. But you don't have an accent*

      This happens to several members of my family! I have a very long, very old name (and I’m talking “I’ve never met someone within 20 years of my age with my name” old school name), and I go by the full version. People always ask “do you always go by ____?”, and sometimes I want to say “If I wanted to go by a nickname, that’s how I would introduce myself”.

      My brother and my dad, on the other hand, have a name generally considered a nickname for a longer name, but the shorter version is their name. It’s funny when people are trying to be “polite” to my dad and address him as the full version and he has to correct them. My brother’s an officer in the military, so everyone calls him Mr. Lastname, so it hasn’t been a professional issue yet.

      1. Snark*

        “sometimes I want to say “If I wanted to go by a nickname, that’s how I would introduce myself”.”

        I’ve actually said that to a “you look more like X, I’ll call you that.”

    15. cncx*

      my legal first name is a nickname too. being called the “long version” bothered me so much i now use my middle name.

    16. Sal*

      I have THREE versions of this. (Bear with my made-up names because I can’t think of another name that these examples would work for, besides my real name). If my name is the somewhat uncommon “Sally”, people hear the much more common Tally (especially over the phone). They also get it confused with the much more common Silly. Some people automatically shorten it to Sal. And if I’m introduced to someone as Sal, they assume it’s a nickname for the much more common Lesal. And one of the sounds in my name exists in few foreign languages so foreigners (or locals when I’m travelling) usually can’t pronounce it.

      The thing is, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

      1. KatiePie*

        Oh my gosh, the number of times I’ve talked to someone on the phone, introduced myself as Katie, then received an email from said person saying, “Dear Kathy.” Ugh. Do they SOUND similar? No.

        This one amuses me, though: over the 12 or so years of my career I encounter this on a not frequent but definitely regular basis:
        Person on phone: Can I get your name?
        Me: Katie
        Person: Judy?
        Me, louder and clearer: Katie

        Apparently it’s something in my voice because it just keeps happening. Makes me laugh.

        1. BeautifulVoid*

          This is why I always use the full Jennifer when I’m on the phone now. If I just say I’m Jen, I have been called every single monosyllabic name under the sun that has a short e or starts with j. Because I totally sound like a Ken or a Ted.

        2. FCJ*

          I have a fairly uncommon name (but not unusual, if that makes sense), and the biggest mixup I get is that people call me by a similar sounding but far more common name because they’re not expecting mine (sort of like if my name were “Peggy” and people called me “Megan”). However, FOR SOME REASON, sometimes people think my name is Katie. This has happened to me multiple times, with people who do not know each other, sometimes a decade apart. They just decide my name is Katie and then it gets weird because I don’t answer them because why would I?

        3. Jen*

          My legal name is Jennifer. I go by Jen. This name causes great problems and confusion for people (I guess I pronounce it oddly?). When it gets questioned, “Jan?”, I will reply, “No, Jen – as in Jennifer.” Then I get called Jennifer. :| (this is mostly a problem with the Francophones I encounter).

          When I was a receptionist, we answered the phone with our names. The things I got called that weren’t Jen included, but are not limited to: Jan, Jeanie, Jean, Dan, Ian, and others I can’t for the life of me remember anymore.

          I kept a list up on my notes area because it was just bonkers.

        4. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          Yep. I’m an Emily, but I’ve been called Beverly, Melanie, Tiffany, Stephanie, AnnaMarie…
          People at work know that if the name rhymes with mine, it’s probably for me. (Beverly is the most common error)
          Once I got Lydia, so I knew they just plain weren’t listening.

        5. ZucchiniBikini*

          I’m a Kathy and I frequently get Katie, Kate or (my least preferred of all) Kath instead, regardless of how I introduce myself. I don’t actually mind being called Katherine – it is, in fact, my full name and I have gone by it in some formal contexts – but I am not a Kate, Katie, Kat, Kath etc. (Well, when we travel in Japan I am “Kashi”, but that is a pronunciation issue I am totally fine with – my eldest daughter’s name, which is built around an “l”, similarly shifts a bit).

          And like you, I find it a bit bewildering to get the Kathy / Katie confusion. Those names have quite different sounds!

    17. Katrina*

      Yeah, I’m a Katrina – not – Kat – not – Trina.

      I make one exception for small children cause it comes out as Cuntrina.

      But I’m polite the first correction, and notsahmuch subsequently. “No, really, I go strictly by Katrina. Thank you.” “Seriously, I won’t respond if you call me that, cause I’m not even a little bit used to it.” “What’s your goal with ignoring me?”

    18. Turquoise Cow*

      My sister’s name is Vicki, not Victoria. I have an aunt named Sue, not Susan, or Suzanne, or Susannah or whatever else.

      My name is Lori. I’m occasionally asked if it’s short for Lorelei or Lorraine, but nobody just calls me that. I guess because Lori on its own is more common? My main issue is that people usually spell it Laurie. (I have an album of photos on Facebook of baristas spelling my name creatively: Lorri, Lorrie, Lauri, Larry, etc.)

    19. KH*

      My name is Kurt and I get called “Curtis” or “Kirk” all the time. Kirk is especially common. This is even after they know how my name is spelled, and I know this because they can spell it correctly in emails! I think I should just tell people my name is Norman.

  2. all aboard the anon train*

    #4: Oh, how I share your annoyance.

    I find that people who like to shorten my name without asking are usually 1. lazy (because one syllable is easier than two); 2. assume I go by the common nickname even when I introduce myself by my first name; 3. think my full name is “too formal”; 4. think being acquainted with me gives them the right to give me a nickname.

    I also find some people get pretty defensive when I ask them to call me by my full name instead of the common nickname. It’s my name and I get to choose what I want to be called! So, OP4, you have every right to ask them to correct your name, and good luck on your quest to do so!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      You have every right to ask, and every right to mind, but you may have to be a bit realistic when you have a four-syllable name. Some people are going to shorten that, whether they should or not.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Alexandra isn’t the real name; the OP asked me to substitute in something other than her real name. In the real life version, they’re actually using a nickname with more syllables than what she wants to be called.

          1. JeanB in NC*

            Why is it excusable to shorten a long name if the person prefers to go by their actual given name but inexcusable to lengthen a short name? Either way the person is not being called what they prefer to be called.

            1. Anna*

              I think Ramona just means that if they’re doing it for expedience, it’s not really working out so well.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          I had to deal with that from a former manager. My name is Wendy. He ALWAYS called me Wendy Lou or even Wendy Lou Who. Seriously, dude? I’m not a Doctor Seuss character!

          It was still better than the guy who insisted on calling me an Oompa Loompa. Oh. Hell. No.

          1. Czhorat*

            Ooompa loompah doopity der
            I have a perfect puzzle for you and for her..

            What do you get when they mangle your name?
            A little annoyed and a little insane?

            They’ll freeze you out so much you’ll yell”brr”
            So call them by their preferred moniker!

            You can live in happiness too
            Like the Oompah-loompahs doopity do!

            1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

              As another person who is constantly getting called by a nickname that I don’t use, I LOVE this!

          2. cornflower blue*

            I had a coworker who did this to another coworker named Cindy! I can’t believe this is a thing. O_O

            1. Christy*

              My mom’s name is actually Cindy Louise so she just has to roll with it.

              (Also all the time people try to send mail to “Cynthia”, which is not her name.)

        2. VioletEMT*

          So, her name is something like Jen, and they keep calling her Jenny?

          Yeah, that’s silly and wrong. No excuse.

          1. Elizabeth H.*

            Right, there are some one-syllable full names that nickname to two-syllable names. Like Anne/Annie, Jane/Janie, Jeanne/Jeannie, Elle/Ellie – those are the most common ones I can think of.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        I don’t see how someone with four syllables would need to be realistic about their name being spelled correctly on a company directory. It’s not like a name like Alexandra takes up that much space. Unless there’s a character limit, there’s no excuse and I don’t think it’s too much to hope that your name is entered the way you want it.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Might be realistic – but I’d think very poorly of someone who did it. It’s up to you what you call me, to a certain extent, but I wonder if they really want to announce “I’m to lazy to respect you” every time they speak to someone?

        1. Trillian*

          I too don’t really buy the too many syllables rationalization, Most people use four-syllable terminology in the workplace. If people can get the technical terms correct so they don’t sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about, they can get people’s names correct with an equal lack of effort. (Signed, the owner of a name that is obviously too short to please, given the number of extra letters people like to add.)

          1. Stop That Goat*

            This! It’s still pretty rude to shorten it and often overly familiar. Syllables or not.

          2. Phoebe (Phoebs)*

            Also nicknames often have nothing to do with syllables! Katie isn’t fewer syllables than Kathleen, there are tons of Russian nicknames that have the same number or even more syllables.
            My name is Phoebe and people always want to call me Phoebs (I think because of Friends) and then always ask apologetically if I mind it-I actually DON’T (a little bit unlike me!) but it’s funny that people want to nickname even my short, unusual name. It’s more of an affectionate name (like only used when someone’s addressing me) rather than a referential name like Katie or Alex that you’d actually call someone in the third person, but still.

        2. JessaB*

          I remember and I’m an ooooold lady (hah) when admins were called secretaries and part of the job before printing invitations, programmes, company directories, business cards, etc. was to actually call and ask the people themselves or their assistants exactly how they wanted to be addressed and spelt. And this was in the days where Mrs. Husband’s Name was a thing across the board, we had more choices we had to pick from and getting it right was a big deal. Now most people are either Ms or Professional Title so and so. I had a list, and if it was wrong, it was directly on me (as the senior person in the company,) and my boss was not happy.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think it’s fine to push back, though. I often find people shorten names out of affection, familiarity with a nickname, or laziness. None of those are really acceptable reasons for calling someone by the wrong name after they’ve corrected you (and I do think it’s ok for OP to keep correcting people).

        1. Liz*

          Uuuugh I had this issue my entire high school career. My name is Elisabeth. There is an S in it, I promise, I have my birth certificate. My family has always called me Beth, but in school I wanted to be called Elisabeth. And this, for some reason, was completely outside of the realm of possibility for my teachers. Invariably they called me Liz. They tried to play it off like they were just being familiar with me, but I guarantee it was just that it was easier than Elisabeth. I don’t care, though. It’s my name. Like, what, I have to be literal royalty before I’ve earned being called by my name? I would say, “Oh, oops, it’s Elisabeth.” And they’d go, “I’m just gonna call you Liz. :)”

          And I would say, “I’m actually not okay with that. I’d rather be called Elisabeth.” And they’d go, “All right, fine…” And call me Liz again the next day.

          And I would say, “There’s no Z in my name, so I can’t be Liz.” And they’d go, “Really??? What do you mean, no Z?”

          And I would say, “There’s no Z, so I can’t be Liz, and I don’t want to be Liz. It’s Elisabeth.” And they’d go, “All right, fine…” And then call me Liz again the next day. Eventually I gave up and was Liz until I graduated.

          I’m touchy about it, and that’s my only advice, actually, is just be touchy about it. You can either be the reactive jerk who won’t let anybody call them Liz, or you can be Liz. Those are your options if your name isn’t Kelsey.

          1. OtterB*

            You’re not my daughter because she’s Elizabeth with a z, but she had the same issue of people defaulting to Liz when that isn’t her preferred nickname. Although she rather liked the version it morphed into at one job: she’s Lizard to those old coworkers.

            1. Mouse*

              I had a really good friend in high school that we called Lizard! My mom always called her Lilibet, though, because it’s the Queen of England’s nickname. We also called her Lizard-Breath when we were teasing her, because it sounds more like Elizabeth. :)

              1. JessaB*

                Lizard Breath was what her brother called Elizabeth in the comic strip “For Better or for Worse.” Giggle.

                Oh and one of my afters is Elspeth. NOT Elisabeth but the people that hear that always hear Elisabeth GEEZ.

                At least now there’s a pretty well known actress (Moss from Handmaid’s Tale,) that’s with an S so you’re not getting stuck with everyone who insists there’s no such think as Elisabeth with an S.

          2. an infinite number of monkeys*

            Another member of the Eli(z/s)abeth-who-is-not-Liz club here. It drives me nuts. My family has always called me Beth, so I’m mostly okay with being called that by non-family members, though it feels a little overly familiar. But I’m not Liz. I’m just not.

          3. Government Worker*

            A family member is also an Elisabeth. My favorite story about her name is that she told the person at the library that she was “Elisabeth with an s” when she signed up for a card, and they issued it to “Elizabeths LastName”.

          4. Alex the Alchemist*

            This is what happened with me! My full name is Alexandra (yeah I match the letter) and so many of my teachers shortened it to Alex. I don’t mind as much now, because there were all too many people who would call me Alexandria, no matter HOW many times I would correct them, or even Alexander, even though I’m a woman who presents very femininely. I like being called Alex, it fits, I’m just not a big fan of how it got that way. And my family are now the only ones allowed to call me Alexandra because they’re the only ones who can reliably get it right.

          5. Temperance*

            My family always called me Chrissy, which I hated and never used. I’ve only been called that once at work (nothing about me screams “CHRISSY”), and I’ve mostly been able to head off the problem by introducing myself by my full name.

            I think I’m also lucky in that my first name doesn’t really lend itself to being called Chrissy, so most people don’t immediately make the association.

          6. Kyrielle*

            My youngest has already declared his intent to change his name when he’s a legal adult…to his nickname.

            He’s currently five, so I don’t know if he’ll follow through (or if he’ll even like the nickname!) by the time he’s an adult, but seriously, guys…it’s not that hard to use someone’s preferred form of their name! He’s actually been called by his nickname his entire life*, so that is his name to him.

            * I gave my kids flexible names, that had common nicknames if they wanted. I wanted them to have room to have a choice in what they were called. My oldest now goes by his full first name, not the nickname, but my youngest prefers the nickname. And thus I, who resented having a name that really only have one form, walk head-on into the minefield that is people…apparently not wanting to use someone’s preferred name. Ugh. So far, we’ve only had cases where someone didn’t know the preferred form, tho.

            1. Bookworm*

              Almost all my childhood friends (the Jimmys, Andys, Lizs and whatnot) ended up going by their longer, more formal names when they started working.

              1. Kyrielle*

                My oldest’s nickname was close to that sort of thing, although there’s another nickname for it that adults often do use. My youngest’s nickname is often a given name on its own; the full form is actually less common and sounds strange to some people (apparently, judging from the reactions). I think it’s very possible he’d still be using the nickname when he’s grown. It’s also possible he won’t; that’s his call.

              2. Stranger than fiction*

                I’ve always thought that was common. Like you’re Jimmy as a kid and then James or Jim as an adult. Imagine my surprise when I learned my bf has three full grown men at his work that go by Bobby.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              My bff (an Elizabeth) has switched her name multiple times. She had one nickname from K-8 (her family nickname), and after summer camp before high school, she chose a very different, less common nickname. So everyone in high school through grad school knows her by Nickname 2. And now, she uses her full name professionally.

              I find it kind of charming/endearing that she has three sets of names: her family nickname, her “grown” school nickname, and her “government name” as I teasingly call it. Whichever name gets used tells you so much about that person’s relationship with her.

              Actually, now that I think of it, I think the same is true for me. I’ve always gone by my full name, but anyone who has known me from when I was under 5 calls me by a family nickname, and my high school/college friends use a different (shorter) nickname that doesn’t bother me but isn’t really my name.

              1. Jen S. 2.0*

                Ha! I have a Charlotte in my life who has done the same thing. She’s been Charlie, Lottie, Lotte, Char, and several others.

              2. Jen*

                I’m similar; my family/K-8 name is Jenny, and my cousins didn’t know until our grandfather died that that wasn’t my legal first name (as far as my mom is concerned, it is – she’s actually said if she could go back, she’d have named me Jenny). Friends and long-time family still call me Jenny, and it doesn’t phase me in the least.

                My dad argued to get me Jennifer so I could have a more ‘professional’ option when I was older; I bucked both of them and switched to Jen once I was in high school. The people who try to insist on calling me Jennifer (including one coworker who I otherwise quite like who wants to call me that because she likes it), bother me. :P

            3. Lindsay J*

              I always wanted a nickname to use when I was in school. One year I decided I wanted to go by Lin, but that didn’t last long. Family sometimes shorten it to Lindz, but even they generally use my full name or go with stuff like “pumpkin” or whatever.

          7. oviraptor*

            My great-grandmother’s name was Lizabet. No E at the beginning or h at the end. I early elementary school age and helping her with a project sorting papers when I found out her name really wasn’t Elizabeth. According to quite a few of those papers she could be Elizabeth, Lizabeth, Elizabet, Elisabeth, Elisabet, Lisabeth and very, very rarely she was herself – Lizabet.

            She also just went with the flow and was Elizabeth. It wasn’t until she was in her 80’s or so did anyone (other than family) realize Elizabeth was not correct. And since she lived in a very small town (of maybe 500 people) everyone tried very hard to use her correct name – Lizabeth. They were so close and tried so hard. We all figured it would take another 80 years to get them to drop the h.

            Thank you for sharing Elisabeth. Your issues with your name brought up some fond memories of my great-grandma and learning about her Real Name.

          8. JeanB in NC*

            My aunt’s name is Elisabeth but she goes by Lisa. Elizabeth has like a million nicknames – you (the general you) don’t get to pick which one you call someone else!

          9. miss_chevious*

            I’m in a similar situation with my name and I chose “reactive jerk.” :) My first name is unusual and mispronounced and misspelled constantly, and I will correct you (more or less politely) every time you get it wrong until it’s too much trouble for you to get it wrong anymore.

        2. Justme*

          I hate the common nickname for my name but prefer an even shorter one. Using the name from the letter, It’s like people calling me Alex when I prefer Al.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            My dad is the same. I guess he used to go by the common one but switched as an adult to a shortened version and my Grandmother always struggled with the change.

            As an aside, his preferred nickname is not really a name people have seen but it sounds similar to a different name usually given to women so teachers would always think he was my mother from written correspondence like emails.

        3. Fifty Foot Commute*

          My wife finds it endearing that I call her by her given name, which is the only name she ever uses. Apparently most people (especially friends) feel free to shorten it without prompting or even asking. I like that she thinks it’s sweet that I do that, but also WTF everyone else?!

      4. CoveredInBees*

        I am an Alexandra and people take it upon themselves to rename me a variety of things well beyond Alex up to and including entirely different names, such as Andrea. It is rude and lazy.

        It is even worse for people with a polysyllabic name that isn’t common in the US or just unknown to a person, where people just pick a clump of letters from the person’s actual name and call them that. I’ve seen this with South Asian and Southeast Asian names. Or the really rough ones are, “Here’s an entirely different name that kinda sounds like your name, even though I have the correct one in front of me.”

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It goes in reverse, too :( If you’re South Asian with a “Euro” name, people assume you’re lying and insist on knowing your “real” name.

        2. Confused*

          So am I and I prefer Alex, but I have gotten Ali, Lexie, Alexis, Alexia, Alexander, and of course, Alexandria. I prefer Alex over my full name but if you’re gonna just start making things up then Alexandra is fine I guess.

    2. Bea*

      It’s obnoxious how people take it upon themselves to choose a name for others. My partner has the issue with people thinking it’s cute to call him by his full name when he always introduces himself as Steve. “Oh hi Steven.” “My name is Steve.” believe it or not someone has once responded to the correction with “I like Steven more, I’ll call you that instead!” “You can call me whatever you want but I will not answer to it.”

      Be firm with people and insist they respect you enough to get your name right is my advice to everyone.

      I get called nicknames I hate and my response is “please don’t call me that.” then when met with resistance I crank it up to “that isn’t my name”. Sooner or later they catch on.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Yes. There are times where I just refused to respond to someone until they got the hint or, my favorite, I came up with a dumb nickname for their name and they get the hint.

        I honestly don’t understand why some people act like I asked them to do something horrible when I ask them to call me by my full name.

        1. Gen*

          There were three/four girls with my name in every class in high school, I got lumbered with the most infantilising version of the name because the teachers refused to call us all by our real name. I always hated it and never ever use it now, but I met my husband in high school and he can’t shake it. So anyone who meets me through him ends up using it :/ I’ve also found the ‘use made up names for the other person until they get it’ works, but only with peers or higher ups that you have good raport with.

          1. Jasmine*

            There were 6 girls in my year at secondary school with my first name. When the 7th arrived I decided enough was enough and started going by my middle name.

            I get all sorts of odd things parroted back when I introduce myself: Yasmin, Jacqueline, Jessie etc.

          2. Allie Oops*

            I’ve done the made-up name thing. At an old job, a manager named Paul kept calling me a name with the same first letter as mine (because that’s close enough, right?) so I started calling him Pam. That got him to stop.

            1. Amber T*

              My real name (not Amber) is spelled “wrong” – it’s a common name with multiple spellings, but my particular way of spelling it is the least common. When I send an email, or even when you send me an email, it comes over as Firstname Lastname, so there’s really no excuse of spelling it wrong in an email. However, of course people do. I was in an email chain where one vendor continuously spelled my name wrong, even though my sig block is right there, even though everyone else on the chain was spelling it right. She also had a name with multiple spellings (Katherine/Catherine, Megan/Meghan, something like that), so passive aggressive me started my next email spelling her name wrong. She never spelled my name wrong again!

              1. Friday*

                My (very common regular spelling) name gets spelled wrong in emails from time to time as well too. One time early in my career, I corrected a vendor politely after he did it many times, and oh wow did he get frosty on me. Ridiculous man.

              2. Symplicite*

                I need to do this!

                I have a uniquely spelled name (both first and last), because my Mom created my first name not realizing that there was the commonly accepted French version, so I get the French version all the time. I forgot that in high school, friends of mine would give me every spelling under the sun!

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              This is so smart. I once had a woman who called me insane names (none of which were my name or even close—they didn’t even start with the same letter) because she couldn’t handle the cognitive dissonance of someone from my ethnic background having my name. Based on your story, I kind of wish I had started calling her any number of random names in response.

          3. Lora*

            Yup. There were seven Lora/Laura/Lori/Laurie’s in my grade school class.

            That said, there’s a practical reason to insist it be spelled out correctly: email address formats are so often First.last @ or first_last @ that if it’s wrong in any documents used by the whole company, people won’t be able to get in touch with Alex.jones @ no matter how much they try. Then they get pissy that you’re not responding to them.

            I swear my email should just be Lora.nonotthatonetheotherone @ at this point. Although my cousin and niece have it worse: Jennifer. My grade school used to mix my niece up with me and call her Lora, too…

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Side note for people naming babies: The US Social Security website lets you look up baby names and their popularity for the last 100 years, so you can learn whether the unusual old-fashioned name you like is now a hot new trend and your child will always be one of the many many Emilys in every class. (Names tend to go on a two-generation cycle, so people looking for something not common (like their own names) but classic (like grandma’s name) often all wind up piled together on the same names.)

              1. Bookworm*

                Yes. I always loved the name Oliver growing up, and it seemed so unique….but now it’s out of the pile because I keep meeting people who’ve named their baby Oliver.

              2. Optimistic Prime*

                I love the SSA website! I used to write a lot of fiction and so I would check out the name list to help me pick names that fit in certain eras or feelings I was going for.

                I’m one of those folks who does really love the classic names that came out two generations ago, and don’t really care if my little Vivienne or Charlotte is one of 3 in her class. Actually right now most of the most popular names for both girls and boys are names I really like.

                That said, one thing I’ve noticed from using that site is that the diversity of names is actually up, not down. In 1982, 3.6% of baby boys were named Michael and 3% of baby girls were named Jennifer, the #1 names for male and female genders. Fully 10% of all baby boys born in 1982 were named the same 4 names – Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Jason – and 10% of baby girls born in 1982 had the same 5 names – Jennifer, Jessica, Amanda, Sarah, and Melissa.

                In 2016, the top boys’ name (Noah) is shared by less than 1% of the boys born that year, and the top girls’ name (Emma) is shared by just 1%. You have to go down like 12-13 names for both of these genders before you make 10%.

                So even if you name your kid Sophia or Ava or James or Benjamin, they’re actually less likely to share a name with someone in their class than the Amandas and Christophers who started school in the late 1980s.

                (And it gets worse the further back you go – in 1880 fully 16% of boys born were named either John or William.)

                1. Lissa*

                  Oh yeah, I’m a name nerd and this stuff is fascinating! One of the reasons why we have a lot of nicknames, some non-intuitive, for names that have been around for awhile is because of what you say about the commonness of names in the past. When you have 5 Edwards, you get Ed, Eddy and Ned, or Bob from Robert, Sadie from Sarah etc. Then of course some of those went on to be their own names.

                  I think it’s pretty recent that parents really don’t want their kid’s name to be popular. I have heard *so* many people say some variation of this “I had no idea my kid’s name was popular, have loved it for years, I’m not being trendy! It’s a coincidence that it got popular when I had my kid” And I’m sure that’s true but sometimes it seems like names just “enter the consciousness” at the same time and everyone is convinced they had the idea first. :)

                2. Overeducated*

                  But even more fascinating, I think some names trend more among specific demographic groups, so despite the diversity…in my local “new parents group” of highly educated, mostly white and middle class people, there were 2 Julias, 2 Miles(es?), and an Olivia. My spouse liked the name Julia because it was “a little unusual but not weird,” which both sets of Julia parents cited as their rationale. I’ve also met kids my child’s age with 2 out of 3 of our “runner up names,” despite carefully selecting only ones that are not very popular on the SSA list. (The third runner up was a name that my spouse rejected as “too common” because we know 3 adults of our generation with it – but no kids.)

                3. BananaPants*

                  I’m a genealogy buff and the lack of diversity in male naming trends 100+ years ago can be maddening, especially when a family line has a common surname or a variant of a common surname. Finding the correct “George Smith” when all you have to go on at first is a birth year and state can be a real puzzle.

                  It gets even harder with some of my ancestors, who I swear all had like 4 given names on vital records in Germany before emigrating, and then chose one of them (or had it chosen for them) on their immigration paperwork and census records.

              3. AMPG*

                Yeah, my husband and I picked an “old-fashioned” baby name as a joke when we were first dating, and then 15 years later decided to use it for our youngest. Unfortunately, we were at the beginning of a trend, it seems (made worse when a celebrity used it a couple of years ago). We’re just hoping it never reaches “Aidan” status.

              4. Gen*

                There were apparently five kids born in the same year in the uk with my sons name. One of them is in his class! What are the odds?

          4. Sydney Bristow*

            I met a friend of mine through her husband but didn’t meet her for at least a year after meeting him. He used a nickname version of her first name because that is what she went by when they grew up together but she had shifted to using her middle name in high school and beyond. So I kept hearing about Jules but she’d really been going by Alex for years by the time I met her. I slipped up a couple of times at first but always tried to use the name she goes by now!

            Likewise, my husband shifted from using his nickname to his full name when he went to college. His family and friends from before that time still use his nickname and I use his full name since we met after that. He doesn’t mind these people (or me, I asked!) using the nickname and I find myself shifting to match what the rest of the group are calling him.

            People deserve to be called the name they want to be called!

          5. RabbitRabbit*

            Aw, that’s a shame. It was very difficult to me when my now-husband told me in college, after a couple of years of knowing him, that he was opting for a different version of his name, but I made it stick after not much time. (Husband was a “Jr.” with a name that could be shortened a couple different ways. His overbearing father decided after decades of using one of the other variants to switch to the one that my husband was using. Husband rebelled and switched to another version.)

          6. JessaB*

            I got upset as a kid because my father told me that when we got to High School we’d be semi-adults and we’d be called Miss Lastname. That’s what they did when he was in school. My parents were like 25 years older than my peers. So they went to school in an entirely different generation.

            But in my school when we had six Susans, they were at least Susan A. Susan B. Susan C. they weren’t Sue, Susie and Susan. And if the teacher was annoyed it was Adams, Bentley and Cook. But nobody called people what they didn’t want. At absolute minimum if one did answer to Sue she said so.

          7. Stranger than fiction*

            Oh I had one boss who solved the problem of three of us with one name by calling us 1, 2, and 3.

        2. NCKat*

          *Shuuders* My full name is Katherine. My nickname is Kat. I walked out on a blind date who insisted on calling me “Kitty Kat.” I was seriously creeped out a few years later when Old Boss started calling me “Kitty Kat” and even tried to change my nameplate – you can make your own labels and slide them into an insert. I took it out and replaced it with my full name. She was hurt, or so she claimed.

          1. OwnedByThCat*

            The first time I met my husband and introduced myself as Cat he and his friends triumphantly programmed my name as “Pussy” for our bowling match…

            Luckily we were 16. 15 years later we both cringe at how edgy we thought we were.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I often get called by a similar name that’s not my name. Along the lines of Rosie instead of Rosa. I do a lot of wilful deafness and no, you didn’t say my name, perhaps you said Rosie by mistake but that’s not my name.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This used to happen to my younger brother, and he started enforcing his full name as the name he’d respond to—using almost identical lines to the ones you’ve provided—starting when he was 4. No one calls him by his childhood nickname, not even in the family.

      4. Drew*

        I went 15 years being called by a nickname and feeling a bit weird about it. A high school teacher, on my first day in her class after I introduced myself with the nickname, said, “You’re not a [nickname]. You’re a [full name].” And I was going to push back, except that I realized the full name felt more mature and just RIGHT in a way the nickname didn’t.

        I still have old friends and family who use the nickname because it’s not my hill to die on with them, but if I haven’t known you for 30 years and you whip out that nickname, you’re getting a pretty cold look. It’s not my name anymore. Call me what I want to be called, dammit.

        1. Kim*

          Right. I work with a Daniel, and he goes by and introduced himself as Daniel. Hence I do not shorten it, but some of the more insensitive people on the team do (the same people who do other boorish things, I’m afraid). We are quite close and I asked him about it once. He told me if you’re not married to or related to him, he’s Daniel. And he’s told these people that, and yet they persist. I guess all we can do is call people what they want to be called and remind others “Dan? Oh, do you mean Daniel! Right!”

          1. Anonygoose*

            Yes, only my husband (and my in-laws, which I don’t love but it’s not my hill to die on) are allowed to call me by my shortened name. If anyone at work did that, I wouldn’t even know who they were talking to. The short form of my name is incredibly common, because it’s the short form of several different names – the long form of my name is a bit more unique.

      5. SusanIvanova*

        “You can call me whatever you want but I will not answer to it.”

        I have a double first name. If you only call me by the first part of it, it doesn’t even register with me, any more than a completely different name would.

        1. Anonygoose*

          Yupp, my name is something like ‘Jennifer’ where there are a couple different ways to short form it. I lived with 2 other girls in uni who had the same (or very similar) name as me. So I went by Jennifer, one went by Jenny, and one went by Jen. I got very used to not responding to those nicknames, and will not respond to them now. They register in my brain as being an entirely different person than me.

        2. EA in Partly Cloudy Florida*

          I worked with a colleague once that was named Mark-Paul. He was always very adamant about the hyphen in the middle. We also had a big board with magnetic nametags to indicate everyone’s shift for the day. One of the supervisors typed up a new tag for him “Mark Hyphen Paul”. Mark-Paul saw the humor and said that was fine.

      6. Samata*

        Opposite for my partner.

        “hi, I’m Steven”
        “Do you go by Steve or Steven?”
        “Ok, nice to meet you Steve….”

        1. ThatGirl*

          My husband’s name is Matthew and he definitely finds being called “Matt” very annoying, though there are a couple people he’s given up on.

          (Ironically his dad’s name is Stephen and he goes by Steve.)

        2. finman*

          The one that kills me every time it happens is in emails or other written correspondence where the person had to type Steven into the “To” section and in the body of the email will put Stephen. Maybe this is a midwestern way, but growing up in Arizona I never had an issue with Stephen vs. Steven. And while I don’t mind being called Steve (unless there is someone else at work who has gone by Steven for longer), I introduce myself as Steven and do prefer to be called that.

      7. Julianne*

        My boyfriend has the same problem as the OP, and I have the opposite problem – people want to call me by my full, legal first name (“Alexandra”) when I go by a very common, shorter nickname (“Alex”). I agree that being firm and neutral when correcting people is the best thing to do; I feel like there’s no sense expending the energy required to get annoyed with people who slip up once or twice, but I do see it as disrespectful when people are corrected multiple times and continue to use the wrong name.

        When I do correct people, a lot of people ask if the reason I don’t want to be called “Alexandra” is because my parents only used my full name when I was in trouble as a child. (It’s not. It’s because I prefer “Alex” and have always gone by “Alex.”) I do understand that that’s a thing that some parents do (“Alexandra Victoria Warbleworth! Go to your room this instant!”) but I’ve always found it a weird thing to bring up (a) with someone you barely know, and (b) in a professional context. Like, we probably need to discuss those TPS reports, but sure, let’s start this meeting with an awkward 90 seconds talking about ways I may or may not have misbehaved 20 years ago and my parents’ reaction to it.

        1. Allie Oops*

          My friend with that same issue once deadpanned “No, they didn’t yell at me with my full name. They just beat me with a belt. But you still need to call me ‘Alex’.”

        2. Moonlight Elantra*

          Haha, same. My given name is three syllables but shortens down to a one-syllable nickname (think the captain of the Serenity). Everyone in my life has called me the nickname since birth and I only got the full name when I was in trouble. I started a new job a few years ago and constantly thought I was a huge disappointment to my boss because she only called me by my full name.

        3. Lissa*

          Yeah, I am one who prefers my nickname, which is common, to my full name which is not. People think the full name is more interesting, which it is, but I still feel like it doesn’t fit me as well as my nickname. I’ve been told “I’m going to call you Alessandra because it’s prettier than Allie!” … well allrighty then.

      8. Kalamet*

        My husband has a very commonly shortened male name. This isn’t his real name, but he’s basically an Alexander. Everyone, and I mean everyone shortens it to Alex immediately, even after he introduces himself as Alexander. It drives him up the wall. His jobs even print “Alex” on his name tags without asking.

      9. Annienon*

        My brother has the exact reverse problem–his name is Steven, and he prefers Steven, but people are always shortening it to Steve.

        People are ridiculous.

      10. Turkletina*

        I get the “I like your full name better” thing all the time. I’m glad you like it! I like it too, but it’s not the name I use.

        You don’t get to go around calling people by names you happen to like. “Hi, I’m Eleanor.” “Nice to meet you. I like the name ‘Irene’ better. I’m going to call you Irene.”

    3. AnnaleighUK*

      I get shortened as well – most people call me Ani which is my nickname, but only when they get to know me, so otherwise it’s Annaleigh. Not Anna. We met a surveyor at a site the other day who called me Anna and even my manager said ‘her name is Annaleigh’ and he just shrugged and called me Anna the whole day.

      Including in the follow up email! Unacceptable! OP4, I totally get it. People shouldn’t assume a shortening of name unless you say.

    4. MacAilbert*

      I know what you mean, kind of. I despise my first name. It’s ugly sounding, too biblical, and just plain doesn’t work for me. Not to mention a lot of customers would read my nametag and call me by name, which upset me to no end (I am not your friend, and I am not your aquiantance. That kind of familiarity is unwarranted and extremely uncomfortable.) I use my middle name (which is, naturally, on my birth certificate, state ID, passport, and other such documents). More attractive, not so off putting, generally makes me feel better (though I still don’t like it when customers address me by name). My last job, the district manager was absolutely adamant that I couldn’t do that, and had to wear and go by my first name. I don’t know what his malfunction was.

      1. MacAilbert*

        I’m starting to wonder if I can just start applying to jobs using just my middle and last names. My middle name is listed in full on every single ID I have, after all, so I should still be able to prove my identity.

        1. Rookie Manager*

          You absolutely could! Use middlename lastname on your CV or firstinitial middlename lastname. As long as if asked to provide your full name for anything you do so then there is no problem.

          I suppose I’m lucky that I’m ok with my first name but hate my middle name. My middle name is only ever an initial apart from to my parents.

        2. Lora*

          Sure! I have a colleague who uses his middle name because it’s unique and easily searchable in databases for scientific publications. His first name, there’s a zillion of – but in our field, he’s definitely the only one and pretty well known by his middle name only.

        3. Liane*

          My husband has always gone by his middle name, including at work or applying for jobs. His resume has his name as J. Tiberius Kirk, not James T. Kirk, to make it clear which he goes by, although I think he uses James T. or both given names on applications.

          1. Anna*

            Same with my husband. The only time it’s really annoying is when we’re buying plane tickets because they insist on his first actual name, despite every other document in his life having J. Tiberius Kirk on it. It caused a PITA issue once, but not since then.

            1. JessaB*

              Since I go by Jessica, I had such a fight with DMV in Ohio to have firstname Jessica on my licence. Seriously. Because the only one who ever wrote a cheque to me with First name, was Mr B’s father (and 27 years of it before he passed on, he spelt it WRONG.) Trying to cash something without the Jessica on the licence was a pita.

        4. LadyL*

          I would think so. My father goes by his middle name both professionally and personally, and no one seems to mind.

          1. JessaB*

            My mother did too. My father was middle name until he was about 30 then he went first name. And I was ALWAYS middle name (my original first name was a “after the relative we want to put her in the will.”) That NOBODY called me ever. They didn’t like her.

        5. ancolie*

          That’s what my uncle does. He was named after his dad, but with the first and middle names switched. Funnily, both went by their middle name. So it’s like:

          Grandpa: Benjamin Michael, goes by Mike
          Uncle: Michael Benjamin, goes by Ben or Benjamin. Writes it was M. Benjamin Lastname.

        6. Akcipitrokulo*

          I do that. I started using my middle name in university; my granda was the only one still to use my first name (he was allowed!).

          My CV has “Middlename Lastname”. I use the full name where a full name is needed, but if it only wants one first name – they get the middle name.

          Oh – and I also use the familiar version of it on CV. It’s what I get called.

        7. K.*

          Sure you can! My first boyfriend went by his middle name and judging from Facebook, he still does. I knew him when we were teens so he’s done it at least that long. Formal government mail comes to Firstname Middlename Lastname and his driver’s license has his full name (and I’ve been around him when people see it and are like “Your first name is what?”*) but literally everyone calls him Middlename and he introduces himself as Middlename Lastname. A number of people in my family, including my grandmother, used their middle names exclusively. I never heard anyone call my grandmother by her first name, and she introduced herself as Middlename Maidenname Marriedname (no hyphen in the last two).

          *It’s a common, innocuous name; he just doesn’t like it.

      2. Jen Erik*

        That’s given me pause. My eldest had an after school/ holiday job in a large shoe shop for several years, and she particularly appreciated it when customers read her nametag and used her name. (I don’t think she would have seen it as the customer trying to be her friend though – more as the customer seeing her as a person.)
        So since then, I would use nametags that way – not if I was just paying for something at the till, but if I was having a more prolonged interaction with someone (like a shoe fitting).
        I’m wondering now what the best (least worst) approach is. Ideally, would you like customers to ignore the nametag, and just introduce themselves if the situation warrants that?

        1. Jen Erik*

          Also, just on the middle name thing – my youngest daughter routinely applies for jobs using her middle name, because that’s the one she uses. It hasn’t, so far, caused any problems that I know about. (We’re in the UK.)

          1. Ange*

            I used to do that but in the end I changed my name to just my middle and last names because my bank wouldn’t accept cheques made out to my middle name. (Also in UK).

            1. Tyche*

              Yes, I think it depends on the country you live and its law. Here in Italy, if you have a middle name on your birth certificate you have to sign every document (contracts, cheques, legal documents, bank accounts etc) with both names, otherwise they are void.
              To complicate things, most Italians are Catholics so they christen children: I have one name on my birth certificate and two on the Church list of the baptized. Only the name on my birth certificate is legal and it is the one I use, but I knew one woman in my exact situation who persisted to use both name in legal documents and she had a lot of problems because it was not recognized legally.

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              (Also UK) I give my full name when needed – we get paid by BACS, so my pay slip is addressed to Firstname, but it’s not a big deal.

        2. Myrin*

          Oooh, I think this is another one of these things that come down to preference. My sister works in a supermarket and isn’t really a fan of people’s using her name. That’s not strictly because they use her name, though, but rather because according to her, about 90% of the people who do do so because they are in some kind of righteous anger-spiral (“Now, now, Ms. Thinks, what do you mean I have to pay for my wares?!”) or because they try to make their relationship appear closer/more intimate than it actually is (which is so weird because they only of their surnames on their tags anyway so it’s not like they’d seem like old friends regardless); either of those would be obnoxious with or without using her name, though, so that certainly adds to her dislike of the name-usage, period.

          I can totally imagine the opposite situation, though, just like you describe, where people appreciate someone’s using their name as a way of them acknowledging that they aren’t just feelingless workbots.

          My general take is that you won’t really do anything wrong by not using the name (unless there are cultures where it’s explicitly rude to not use someone’s name in any given situation) but you can appear overly familiar if you do use a name. It probably depends on the entirety of the interaction, though (like you say, there’s a difference between my brief interaction with a cashier and someone doing a long-ish shoe fitting).

          1. babblemouth*

            When I worked at the check out, 100% of the people using my name did it to hit on my. I would rather have been anonymous.

        3. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

          My feelings toward my name are similar to MacAilbert’s — I went through my life with a “weird” and ugly name for 20 years (until I started going by a nickname), which I think has given me some kind of neurosis about names in general. Using vocatives for people I’m not super close with (other than in email salutations or, very rarely, to get someone’s attention) makes me feel uncomfortable, as does being on the receiving end of them. When talking to strangers in public, like in a store, making eye contact is usually sufficient for my purposes. “Do you have that in a size 7 1/2, Jane?” just seems awkward and, yeah, too intimate. I’m probably in a very small minority here.

          1. JanetM*

            With a few exceptions, I don’t address customer service folks by name because it feels over-familiar to me.

            The exceptions are:
            * If I’ve gone to a location often enough to feel friendly with the CSR (like the woman who does my nails, but I generally reserve the name for the greeting),
            * if I know them personally (like when I call the HelpDesk at work; I know most of the techs),
            * or, oddly, in chat-based customer service where the CSR has introduced herself by name. Even then, though, I generally don’t use the name with the stranger until the very end of the conversation when I say, “Thank you, Jane! You’ve been a great help” or “Thanks for your time, Jane; I appreciate your trying to solve this.”

          2. CheeryO*

            You’re not alone! I have a name neurosis, I think because I had a minor speech impediment as a kid that made it hard to pronounce my own name. I realized how bad it was when I played Go Fish with my boyfriend’s parents a couple years ago and felt like I’d rather stab myself in the eyes rather than continually refer to everyone by their names.

          3. Lindsay J*

            I can’t read your example without it sounding either condescending or hostile. It’s not you at all. It’s just how I feel when people attach my name to things like that, especially at the end of sentences. It’s like, “Do you have that Jane? Do ya? Do ya?” or “Do you have that in a size 7 1/2, because obviously you were too stupid to bring out the right size the first time and clearly a size 7 isn’t going to work here.”

            I also feel like people who use my name liberally are generally trying to convince me of something or sell me something. (It’s advice given in a lot of sales books to try and build a relationship between you and the person you’re selling to.) Otherwise, in my world, people don’t tag names onto sentences much unless they’re trying to get someone’s attention across a crowded room, or in greeting, or similar.

        4. Samata*

          I think your practice of doing this is fine. I think the problem MacAilbert has was that her preferred name was NOT on her nametag because her boss didn’t allow it.

        5. Terry*

          Although I’m sure there are many more out there than just your daughter, I personally never met anyone in any of my retail jobs who liked customers calling them by their name from the nametag. The customer can show they see staff as people by treating them courteously; using the nametag as an overly familiar shortcut is not an effective way to demonstrate that sentiment most of the time. For myself, I only use the nametag if I need to prompt an introduction in a long interaction where the salesperson has forgotten to introduce themselves earlier.

          1. Jen Erik*

            That seems like a fairly straightforward consensus that the majority of people don’t like it, so I’ll stop doing it.

            Thanks, everyone.

        6. paul*

          back when I did retail in HS/college it actually kind of weirded me out. I know some of the kids I worked with it preferred it and others didn’t. I don’t think there’s really a universal reaction you can count on.

          1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            +1 – the first time someone did it to me, I had kinda forgotten about the name tag and I said “do you know me?” in a very confused tone. It just weirded me out that this person I’d never seen before was using my name.

            1. Lindsay J*

              This is how I felt every time it happened. I don’t think I ever said it aloud, but I sure thought it.

        7. oranges & lemons*

          Yeah, I was never very comfortable with it either. It actually always felt a little condescending to me–like the customer was in a position of power because they knew my name without being introduced, but I didn’t know theirs (this sounds very intense but it’s just the best way I can think of phrasing it–it didn’t bother me all that much). I also find it off-putting when people use my name excessively, in a salesy way.

        8. Lindsay J*

          I can’t speak for other people, but the reason I disliked it when customers used my name from my name-tag was that very few people did it. So I kind of forgot that they could read it from there.

          So when someone said “Hello, Lindsay” I would frantically rack my brain for a few seconds to try and figure out where this person knew me from, why I didn’t recognize them, and what their name was. It would take a few moments for it to dawn on me that they didn’t know me and that they were just reading my name-tag.

          As long as the customer treated me like a person (responded to my questions, maybe made eye contact, maybe asked how my day was going, maybe told me to hang in there during the holiday season, maybe thanked me if they found me especially helpful) I felt like they saw me as a person. Using my name wasn’t necessary for that.

          Though if it was a situation where it would be a prolonged transaction, I would generally introduce myself first. “Hi I’m Lindsay. Is there anything specific I can help you find today?”

          I think ignoring the nametag and introducing yourself is best. Especially as some stores have draconian nametag policies. I think it went to court and the woman won, but I know there was a case with one retailer where they forced a trans woman to have the male name they were assigned on their nametag since that’s what was on her official documents, even though she went by her chosen name in everyday life and presented as a woman full-time. Not to mention the people that go by middle names, shortened versions of their name, etc, that have to put their “official” name on their nametag at some places.

      3. self employed*

        Well, it’s considered common courtesy to use someone’s name in conversation. It doesn’t presume friendship or acquaintanceship. If anything, I think using someone’s name in a customer/business relationship is humanizing.

        1. MacAilbert*

          That’s just it. I didn’t like it BECAUSE it’s humanizing. I was Retail Drone at work, and I largely performed that function without really thinking much. It’s really difficult to explain. Basically, there was a really sharp barrier between the Retail Drone function and MacAilbert, and the weaker that barrier got, the more miserable I ended up getting. People I don’t know addressing me like they knew me was not good for that barrier.

      4. FCJ*

        OMG I hate wearing nametags for exactly that reason. It creeps me right the heck out when someone I’ve never met before starts calling me by my name, especially when they do that thing where they use your name a lot to, I don’t know, build familiarity or something. Ugh.

    5. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      I’m odd around nicknames, and I usually go by one nickname professionally, another by family, and my full name among friends. (My given name is unusual— not, obviously, Zoe– and the nickname can apply to many names, which means I get less “Oh, what an unusual name, where does it come from?”. This was more of a problem when I was working retail, and had a name badge.) The important thing is what you choose to be called.

      I did have a cousin whose friend decided to call her ‘Liz’ because her normal nickname was ‘Beth’. The friend hadn’t realised it was short for ‘Bethan’.

    6. HR Expat*

      I always make sure to ask what name people prefer to be called, especially if their name is one with a common nickname. And when they say they don’t care, I ask them which one they usually use at work. That way I avoid the tendency to shorten names or use common nicknames (referring to Joseph as Joe, for example).

      1. BookishMiss*

        That is fantastic. I have has people give me the strangest nicknames – my name is three letters. Come on now. – and my favorite customers are the ones who ask for my name instead of staring intently at my ‘nametag’ them gifting me a nickname I rejected when I was three.

      2. OtterB*

        Yeah, I had an employee for several years whose name was, say, Joseph (not really). I asked him when he first started if he preferred to go by Joseph, and he said Joseph was fine, Joey was fine, but not Joe. So I called him Joseph or Joey, and corrected others who routinely shortened it to Joe. Which they kept doing, even in our small and pretty functional office. People are strange sometimes.

      3. Sydney Bristow*

        I like this approach too. I typically just use the name they give when we meet, but if we interact a lot or if I hear someone else use a nickname for them I’ll ask about it. I always appreciate it when people do that for me. I always introduce myself with my full name but truly don’t mind when people use the most common nickname version, which they usually wind up doing once we become close. I’ll happily tell anyone who asks that they can use whichever one they want and that I appreciate that they asked.

      4. veggiewolf*

        I do this, too. I also ask how to pronounce names if I’m unsure or if there are multiple possibilities. My colleague VanZyl (pronounced fun-sale) was thrilled.

        I also teach children’s swim lessons and always ask them to tell me what they want to be called, and to correct me if I pronounce their name incorrectly. Of course, this also led to me having “Batman”, “Spiderman”, and “AnnaBanana” all in the same class…

        Preschoolers are amazing.

    7. Czhorat*

      Me too, but it’s best to make it as low-key as possible. The more irritated you appear, the less likely people are to take you seriously and the more you set yourself up for teasing later.

      A simple, “I go by Leonard. Nobody calls me Lenny” is usually fine. If you need to say more, you could always follow with “Lenny was the big, dumb guy from _Of Mice and Men_. I’m Leonard”.

      Getting the org chart corrected is probably worth at least a call to the admin because people seeing “Alex” there will reasonably assume that it’s Alex.

    8. aebhel*

      I’m actually surprised that people have so much trouble with this. I have a long and unusual name, and I prefer that people I’m not close with use my full name rather than the nickname; I’ve rarely had to get stern about it. It probably helps that my name is rare enough in this country that there’s not an obvious nickname for people to default to, though.

    9. hmm*

      I think reason number 5 for why people default to nicknames is that they know other people with that name and just need to break that habit. Sometimes it’s helpful to just give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they are coming from a good place rather than immediately getting upset about it. You should still stand your ground and correct them, but it’s entirely possible (likely, even) that it’s just a habit based on their friend, roommate, brother, cousin, child, wife, whatever.

    10. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I always introduce myself with my full name and so often people respond with nice to meet you, nickname. And I’ll correct someone cheerfully ONCE. After that, they get “I haven’t gone by nickname since I was 5, because I think it’s only appropriate for 5-year-olds to be called that.” I don’t actually judge anyone who goes by the nickname but it is true that I stopped going by nickname when I started Kindergarten and that line tends to stick in one’s memory.

    11. LadyL*

      I have a long name and I go by a shorter nickname, and sometimes people insist on shortening even that! (Think like, my name is Elizabeth, I go by Ellie, and some people insist on calling me El). Over time it’s become like a shorthand code, if you call me El I probably don’t like you. I’ve also noticed that the super shortening is almost always followed by a request, like “Hey El, can you do me a favor?” I think they’re trying to create a false sense of intimacy but are missing the mark entirely. It’s my biggest name pet peeve.

    12. Bostonian*

      I don’t think people who use the wrong name really put as much thought into it as you’re suggesting. It’s probably just a simple mistake. Yes, an annoying mistake when you have to deal with it all the time, but I don’t see the good in assigning ill will when there may be none.

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        Trust me, people do it to deliberately. Not all people, and definitely not the majority, but some take extreme pleasure in calling you something that they know you do not want to be called. I actually deliberately named my children names that do not have nicknames or longer forms readily associated with them just so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        There’s a difference between someone who forgets once in awhile or who calls you a nickname and then stops when you tell them to and people who continually choose to call you by a name you don’t like. That’s not a mistake. That’s purposefully being ill-intentioned.

    13. AnonEMoose*

      #4, I’m so there with you.

      My real first name is one of those that has a bunch of nicknames attached to it. And I don’t like being called any of them – I’m happy to use them when others who share my name prefer to be called by one of them, but I don’t go by any of them, and haven’t since I was 12…so…more than 30 years, now.

      I used to get people wanting to call me “Liz” (“Elizabeth” isn’t my name, but it’s close to my actual name in the number of variations) a lot in my 20s. And some people would be weirdly insistent about it. I’d tell them that I really preferred “Elizabeth,” and I’d get “oh, that’s so formal,” or “well, what does your mother call you?” (Mom has called me by my preferred name since I was 12…and even if she didn’t, YOU are not my mother, so why is this even relevant?), or “well, I’m just TRYING to be FRIENDLY…” (Really…because I’m not feeling all that friendly right now…). Or “what’s the big deal?” (The big deal is that what you’re trying to call me ISN’T my name…and you don’t get to re-name me.)

      Selective hearing was the best option I found at that point. For some people, it really seemed to be some kind of weird power play or control thing. Others, I think, were just clueless and/or lazy.

      Now that I’m not a cute little 20-something anymore, it doesn’t happen as much. And on the rare occasion, a firm “I go by ‘Elizabeth.'” usually does the trick. I think the last person who tried it was a co-worker in another department…and at least he apologized when I corrected him. But that it doesn’t happen so much now that I’m older has confirmed for me that it was, in part, a power/respect issue. Basically, by trying to call me what they wanted to call me, whether than what I wanted to be called, they were exerting power and asserting that they didn’t need to treat me as an adult. At the time, I felt like this was at least partly because I was young and looked younger – that age has mostly solved it seems to confirm this.

      I think the OP should definitely get this corrected on the org chart; otherwise, others are going to be using that as a guideline (which is what it’s for). Be polite, but insistent, OP. They may not see this as “a big deal,” but it’s your name, so you get to decide.

    14. Princess Carolyn*

      So, I have two first names (think Lindsey Quinn) and people often respond to my emails with “Hi Quinn” instead of “Hi Lindsey,” and it drives me nuts. But I swear it was an accident when I responded to one such email from Pamela with “Hi Pam.” Maybe a subconscious revenge?

    15. too many mason jars*

      I have a 2-parter name (think “Mary Beth” or “Peggy Sue”) and hyphenate it (“Mary-Beth”/”Peggy-Sue”) to help people out and they still drop the 2nd name the majority of the time. I’ve learned to live with it when it’s a stranger or someone I won’t be interacting with regularly, but I hate how often I have to correct my regular coworkers – and how defensive people get when corrected!

  3. DataQueen*

    #1. I don’t think that any [good] manager would not find a way to work with you on this – you should absolutely be up front with them about the situation – they should understand and find a way to eliminate the travel with the online classes, etc. They aren’t bait and switching you – they just genuinely don’t know it’s a big deal. I have one employee who takes care of her sick father every day at lunch and after work. Sometimes, I invite her to client dinners, etc., and she says no because of that – I genuinely forget, and of course understand and would never hold that against her. I’m guessing your boss just really doesn’t realize, and would never force you or be upset if you explained the reason.
    I’m sorry that your family member is unwell, and admire your dedication to your family!

    1. Cece*

      Also, if LW1’s employer insists on travelling for the training, and if it’s appropriate to their circumstances, LW1 could ask if they’ll also cover carer respite services of some kind so the other family members have support while she’s away.

      (Optimal solution is for an online training option, of course.)

    2. Frances*

      And the boss might have thought they were offering you a perk – for many people, a work paid trip to Puerto Rico would sound more appealing than doing a training online. But it wouldn’t be a perk for you, so just explain your obligations to your boss.

      1. Thermal Teapot Researcher*

        This is what I thought as well. They may have thought that they were giving the LW a cool perk.

    3. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      Yes, I have an employee who is in a role that doesn’t require travel, but we have a generous professional development policy and budget here, so she attends conferences. I would not mind at all if she preferred to do online seminars or take Lynda courses because she didn’t want to travel. Totally fine with me if she doesn’t want to travel because that’s not related to her job function.

    4. Sarah*

      Eh, I think it depends on the job. I have a job where I travel probably 1-2 times per year for conferences, and it would be a pretty big deal if I refused to ever go to them. I have some discretion in which ones I do, but on the whole they’re a pretty important opportunity for professional development and networking and would not be easily substituted. I did know this going in, but only because I have been in the field for a while — it certainly was not spelled out in my interview or in the job advertisement (I think partly because it really is pretty occasional). All of this just to say, if your manager can’t budge on this, it might not be because they’re an asshole or were trying to hide something, but rather because they really didn’t anticipate that occasional required travel would be an issue. I also wonder if — if the travel really is quite occasional, it could be possible to make alternate arrangements for 1 or 2 trips per year. Maybe not, but perhaps you could get creative as long as it’s not frequent travel.

      1. JC*

        Agreed that it depends on the job. I work as a researcher where occasional conference travel and presentations that require travel pop up. It’s something I bring up when interviewing people, but mostly from the perspective that we have the funding for this kind of travel. Traveling for conferences/presentations is such an ingrained part of the field that it would be pretty weird for someone to be in this kind of job and not be able to travel ever.

        I accomodate people who can’t travel or who want to cut back on travel for a period of time, such as for parents with a new baby at home who don’t want to travel for a few months or for someone who can’t find coverage for their caretaking duties in a particular instance. But if someone could never travel, it would be a problem. Other staff members would have to pick up their slack and they wouldn’t be able to be the visible expert in the field that they are needed to be.

  4. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Your reaction wasn’t silly. Of course you were worried about your boyfriend. Of course you were sad about your friend.

    Because it hasn’t been mentioned yet and I want to make sure you know: if you’ve had bad news, it’s okay not to carry on as normal but, for example, to ask to be excused from the meeting or go home for the day.

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I’m also wondering why OP’s boyfriend had to inform about it during the workday. My family has always run by the system that there’s enough time for bad news when you get home. When my grandmother unexpectedly and suddenly died, I was working but my husband was at home (I had weird hours back then) so my mom called my husband. He told me when I came home. I really wouldn’t have needed the information sooner and it would only have caused trouble, really no possible good would have come out of it, compared to telling me after the workday. But maybe OP had some kind of circumstance that made it necessary or beneficial to know about the death immediately.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        So this is a fairly unusual way to handle bad news, and most people would want to know as soon as possible. If by ’cause trouble’ you mean upset the person and make them want to leave early, then a decent employer should be understanding about that.

        Everyone handles these things differently but I did want to let you know that it’s not really reasonable to criticise someone for sharing bad news straight away, and to let OP know most people would not have a problem with that, whether or not that’s how you and your family personally choose to handle it.

        Telling people straight away also reduces the risk that they will stumble on the information another way (e.g. social media).

        I would find it really aggravating not to be told until I got home, but am trying to stay on topic so I’ll leave that there.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Or maybe this is a regional or cultural thing, in which case I can only speak to norms in my own country.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t think it’s regional. I suspect it’s personal (or perhaps cultural—I can’t speak to the latter).

            1. Isobel*

              Yes, entirely personal. I’m in the UK, like Ramona, and my friends and family would be unlikely to ring or text me with bad news at work – maybe if a parent or sibling died, but not a more distant relative or friend. That would wait till I got home. But we don’t use social media that heavily and certainly wouldn’t put anything very personal on Facebook. Also I suspect my family are more stoical than average.

        2. This Daydreamer*

          I can understand wanting to reach out to let someone else know what’s going on. It’s awkward at work sometimes, but life is like that. When you get handed something that horribly painful, grief can overcome professionalism.

        3. Anonygoose*

          Yeah, with social media nowadays, I’d much rather be interrupted in the middle of a workday with bad news than see it when scrolling on Facebook during my break. I think most reasonable employers would understand if someone needed to excuse themselves from a meeting or go home early due to something like that, particularly if it was unexpected.

        4. OldMom*

          Wow I was just thinking exactly the opposite. This situation is an example of why it’s better not to text at work. When my sister was in hospice I asked not to be notified while I was at work if the the inevitable happened during that time. The only redeeming factor is lowering the risk of finding out through social media.
          My takeaway…don’t text news of death! It deserves at least a phone call. And don’t post about it on social media unless you are sure all the principals have been notified! The same way news media doesn’t identify the deceased publicly until next of kin have been told. At least that used to be the protocol.
          I see now that others obviously feel differently so I will take that into account in the future. But I would never text news of a death nor tell someone at work unless I knew they could leave work immediately. I don’t really see the point in knowing immediately. It would be different if the person were still alive and there was time to rush to their side. But otherwise? With a permanent thing like death that you can’t do anything about, I’d rather not know until I was somewhere I could indulge my emotional response i.e. Not at work.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Don’t post about it on social media unless you are sure all the principals have been notified!

            I think this is an excellent rule in the abstract, but not one everyone can trust their families or social circle to carefully follow. (I don’t do Facebook, but gather “How could you post about LuLu’s death before we called everyone?!!” “How dare you tell me not to honor LuLu with a post!!??” is a thing.)

            1. Red Reader*

              Yup. My dad found out about his mother’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis because his sister posted about it on Facebook before they’d even left the doc’s office. (And the fact that her post was entirely about how upset SHE was and the impact it would have on HER didn’t really help matters.)

              When Gran passed, my mom gave me a call, I guess within 15 minutes of her passing, and before I even got off the phone, the same paternal sibling was all over Facebook about it.

              We, uh, don’t have any significant interaction with said paternal sibling anymore.

            2. Akcipitrokulo*

              One of my close friends died a few months ago. There was a group of people who knew – and no-one posted on social media. And we use it a LOT …

              Her brother had asked that no-one mention until he gave all-clear. When he did, it filtered down through those who had been holding off, and then we posted about it.

          2. Lissa*

            My takeaway is to give people the benefit of the doubt, because even from this thread here – people have very different reactions, so the person who tells you in a non-ideal way is very likely doing what *they* would prefer. It might even be worth a conversation with someone like you had, letting people know your preferences.

            For me, I’d rather wait to be told, but I’d never be aggravated/mad at someone who did it the other way. They’re probably doing their best at a trying time.

        5. Basia, also a Fed*

          My grandfather passed away suddenly, and my grandmother decided not to tell my aunt right away because she was in Mexico on vacation. My grandmother’s reasoning was that there was nothing my aunt could, and why ruin an expensive vacation that is already paid for. My aunt missed the funeral of her own father and didn’t even know it before she came home (this is before cell phones). I don’t think she has ever fully forgiven this.

          1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            Wow. We didn’t tell my aunt immediately when my grandfather died, but that was because her husband was having a medical crisis at the same time*, and, as my mother said “She’s going to fly back from New York, but there’s nothing she can do here.” We just told her the day after.

            *I think.

      2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        See, I’m the opposite. I would be furious if someone decided to withhold news of someone’s death from me. People’s preferences on this will probably run the gamut, and I don’t think it’s fair to criticise OP’s boyfriend as though he did something objectively wrong.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Same. I don’t think I’d forgive someone who withheld that information from me so that I could make my employer’s day easier. I know that theoretically it made my workday “easier,” but I would be pretty upset with any employer who would not let me leave early if something terrible happened, even if it’s a terrible I cannot do anything about.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I know someone whose father waited to tell her that her brother had died, unexpectedly and in terrible circumstances, because she was at work. She was extremely upset to realise she had been laughing and having fun when he had just died.

            I have also had the experience of not getting some news quickly enough and discovering that a friend had died of carbon monoxide poisoning by seeing it on the BBC News homepage. That was a terrible shock.

            Basically everyone is different. If you only want bad news when you get home, that’s your choice to make.

            1. Alton*

              This is how I would feel. One of the first things I think about when I receive delayed bad news is how wrong it feels that I’d been happy or going about my day as usual. Knowing someone purposely waited to tell me would be upsetting.

          2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

            I understand waiting until you’re sure someone is alone/in a safe place. My father once started a conversation with “Hello love, the cat died,” and had he called 30 minutes previously, I would have been in a crowded pub vs being at home with someone who could give me a hug. But work also works as a place for getting bad news.

        2. WriterLady*

          Going to sound weird because it’s not same category as a human death, but when one of my dogs died I was at uni, interstate. I’d had her since I was 5 and I was 19 when she passed. I happened to be in a class, my dad rang, I texted back asking what the problem was as I was in class, and he said it could wait. Anxious me, I freaked. My brother knew this, and knew I’d be devastated, so he texted me to call him ASAP and get out of class.

          After, my parents were slightly upset that I’d miss part of a class because the dog died. Screw that, I wanted to know. They have since learned that me being at work/school/whatever does not mean I get left alone. I mean, a pet mightn’t be in the same category as a friend or family member, but it was basically the first death I’d ever experienced, and i knew from then on I needed to know immediately. I can’t imagine getting home to find out after a large amount of time that someone you loved had passed away.

          1. baseballfan*

            Dogs are family too! A few years ago, my dog passed away. Several days later, my husband texted me to tell me that the vet called and Dakota’s remains were ready to be picked up. This was literally two minutes before stepping into a meeting with my boss, which involved some constructive criticism. I teared up and had to explain why – she completely understood. In my particular case, since the meeting involved criticism, I felt it was important to explain that my reaction did not have to do with the feedback.

      3. TL -*

        I, on the other hand, would be really upset if someone didn’t tell me as soon as they could (barring me being in an interview/other high stress moment, or the time I got my first real job offer while I was getting my makeup done for my best friend’s wedding and told her the day after the wedding.)

        A lot of it depends on personality and family culture, but I definitely approach it from the viewpoint of I am an adult who does not, in the normal course of things, need to be sheltered from the realities of life and would appreciate the chance to deal with things as they come up, rather than when people feel that I’m ready to deal with them.
        But again, super dependent on personality and family culture.

      4. So Very Anonymous*

        This seems a little hard on the boyfriend, who may also have found out during *his* workday. In OP’s place, I would want to know, not just for me to know, but to also be able to be there, even if it’s just for a moment, for my partner who lost his friend. I think explaining the reaction makes the most sense for OP.

      5. Geoffrey B*

        In addition to Ramona’s comments, the scenarios you describe aren’t quite parallel to LW’s. In your case, it was the person at work who’d lost somebody close; in LW’s case, it was the person at home. The boyfriend had just had awful and unexpected news; it’s quite possible that he wanted emotional support and was reaching out to LW for that reason.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It sounds like it affected OP directly, as well as in her capacity as an emotional support for her boyfriend. She notes that she also had spent time with the friend who passed and knew him well.

          (OP, I am very sorry for your and your boyfriend’s loss.)

        2. Lissa*

          Yes, and I think being furious and not forgiving someone (reactions I see above) for not knowing the right way to let someone know something that people don’t all agree on is not really fair. The person receiving the text isn’t the only one under stress, and if I had to let somebody know about a death, I can’t promise I’d do it in the right way. I just hope that whoever I messed up with would realize I was doing my best.

        3. Bea*

          That was what I took out of the letter. I imagined her partner finding out that his friend had died, so he reached out to the person closest to him for support and also in turn break the bad news to her.

          I’d never be furious about this kind of thing, even if it meant that I burst into tears in an awkward moment, we’re all human and anyone who doesn’t get it isn’t important. Granted my professional life has always been surrounded by people who are kind and understanding, so we’re in a different boat.

          That and my BF and I always text each other everything. We’re both at work and texting is our mode of contact, we do not talk on the phone. We also don’t live together, so what is he supposed to do? I assume it’s a pocket dial if he calls, if he left a message to call him or called back immediately to be all “no, pick up the phone tho”, I’d freak out and think he was dying.

      6. Bagpuss*

        I agree this is very much down to personal feelings. I would rather know straight away, I’d feel upset if someone kept such important information from me, even if they were doing it ‘for my own good’.

        On a practical level, when someone dies there are often choices to be made at short notice, such as whether to travel for a funeral, to sped time with the bereaved etc and not telling a person cuts down the amount of time available to them to process the news and to start to make those decisions.

      7. Mookie*

        I’d also want to know straightaway (so I can go home and cry and commiserate, because sometimes crying and commiserating feels like you’re Doing Something Productive instead of having the ground fall out beneath you with nothing to cling onto), but a good chunk of my family feels the way you do and the rest of us act accordingly. I do not want my parents, for example, rushing home from work in a shock or grief-filled daze.

      8. Science Teacher*

        My mom didn’t want to call me at work and let me know a family member had passed away. I checked Facebook on my phone during a break and my aunt had posted a tribute to the family member. So I found out via Facebook.

        It is possible the boyfriend was trying to avoid OP finding out on social media by letting OP know asap.

        1. Soon to be former fed*

          People really need to stop with this rush to put every damn thing on Facebook like it is the Associated Press. I hate FB.

        2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          Oh, that’s awful. My grandmother passed away recently after several weeks in hospice and as well as talking through who wanted to know straight away vs. who’d be happy to be called in the morning if she passed in the night, we also put a 24-hour moratorium on posting anything on Facebook so we could make sure everyone who needed to be told knew beforehand. It meant people were putting Facebook posts up the same day the death notice appeared in the paper, which seemed pretty reasonable.

      9. Allison*

        For me it would depend on how much I knew the person. If it were a friend or family member, I’d wanna know as soon as possible, even if it was in the middle of the workday. If it were an acquaintance that was more my boyfriend’s friend than mine, I wouldn’t be upset to know during work but it may be the sort of thing I could find out about later, unless my boyfriend was so devastated he felt he needed me right away.

        Thing is, news of death spreads quickly on Facebook, and while people hold off on posting anything until all the important people know, people can’t hold off forever. For someone I know well, it would be better to know from a text or call than from someone’s status.

      10. A Nonny Mouse*

        I’m of the opinion that you always tell people as soon as you know. Her’s why. When I was a senior in high school my grandfather died. My parents took the day off work to do whatever it is when someone dies, but neither of them came to school to tell my brother and me. We got home from school and my mom’s boss called asking for her. Which was weird since she should have been at work. He closed by saying he was sorry about my grandfather. I had to ask him what he meant. So to save people from being told by a complete stranger, you tell people as soon as you know of the death of a loved one.

        1. No, please*

          Ah man. I’m sorry. When my dad had an aneurysm I got a text from a number I didn’t know saying I should get to the hospital because my dad was ill. Which hospital? Which town? Who is this? It was beyond frustrating and I barely got there before he died. Op, I’m also sorry for your loss.

      11. Akcipitrokulo*

        I guess it’s ymmv … we’ve always gone with “tell at the earliest possible opportunity” in my family.

      12. JKP*

        When I was in college, my parents wanted to wait to give me bad news until after I’d finished finals. But my brother spilled the beans when I still had 2 days of finals left to go. I had been getting all A’s in those classes, but I was so upset, I bombed all the finals after I got the news, and those tests were such a large percentage of our final grade, I ended up getting a bunch of C’s and even failing one class and having to retake it. My parents were totally right to wait to tell me. It ended up costing me an additional semester of school I had to pay for.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think this is a bit of the flip side of, if someone misses an appointment, you ask about it with the assumption that there could be a good reason for it. Rather than launch into your righteous tirade only to eventually stop for breath and get “well I was unconscious in the ER, so that’s why I didn’t call.” You can hope and maybe expect that people are allowing for the “something completely outside of work and the timing is coincidence” explanation, but you need to follow that up by confirming it. (Either in the moment or shortly after, when you’ve gathered yourself and realized your reactions were probably off and open to a lot of work issue interpretations.)

    3. Just J.*

      OK, aside from whether or not you want news at work, sometimes you cannot control what news you get at work.

      Dear OP2: Your reaction was not out of line. At All. As a 20-something still in school, you may not know that, professionally, you had the right to postpone the meeting. No decent boss, associate or co-worker is going to expect you to be coherent after receiving news like that.

      Perhaps you could have shared the text with Max? From your description, he sounds compassionate and probably would have allowed you time to gather yourself before having to sit through a review.

      But yes, go please talk to Max and let him know what happened.

    4. saby*

      Yes! This is a thing I’ve noticed with my student employees… one of them found out a family member had been in a serious accident and was in hospital and finished out their shift (then drove to the hospital, may or may not have spent the night, and apologized profusely for arriving a bit late the next morning). They didn’t tell me about it, either — they just told another of the students, who let me know what was going on after the crisis had passed and the family member was in recovery. I guess they thought it didn’t matter or I wouldn’t care?

      Life comes first! My industry tends to value work-life balance, but even in those that don’t, people understand!

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, there is nothing silly or unusual about what happened!

      I would probably reach out to the boss, but I don’t think I would specify that meeting. I would just give a general “Just wanted to let you know if I’ve been a little off this week, this is why.” I’ve gotten an email like that from my boss before. She specified in the email she really didn’t want to talk about it, but she wanted us to have some context in case she was more emotional or otherwise different than usual.

  5. Recruit-o-Rama*

    Totally disagree that the OPs boyfriend did something wrong. That’s fine if it’s the way you and yours do this, but I think it’s not ok to imply that OPs boyfriend did something wrong. I would want to know right away if someone I love dies rather than being left in the dark carrying on as if nothing happened. I work to live, not the other way around and nothing at work would seem more important than being in the moment with my family and friends.

    I’m sorry about your friend, OP. I think you should just let your supervisor know what happened, I’m sure he will understand and appreciate the follow up. I like Alison’s wording.

      1. Jacob*


        August 4, 2017 at 12:52 am
        I’m also wondering why OP’s boyfriend had to inform about it during the workday.”

        The word “wrong” doesn’t actually appear, but that’s absolutely the implication of the statement (and the whole comment).

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          I never said it was wrong and I never meant that. I know that telling everyone immediately is a thing that some people do and I’ve never understood why. Now you fantastic people here have explained this baffling concept to me and I can go on with my life understanding one piece of human behavior a little bit better! I also see that my confusion probebly comes from the fact that I don’t have a Facebook account and neither does any of my closest family members. Also in many of the jobs I’ve had I haven’t had any kind of internet access during the workday (I don’t have internet on my phone – weird, I know.). So there’s zero possibility that I would hear the bad news from anywhere else. Another thing seems to be that in some countries you would need to start funeral arrangements so extremely quickly. In my part of the world funerals are often a month after the death.

    1. OldMom*

      While I have the opposite preference about being notified, I agree that the boyfriend did not do anything wrong and did not mean to imply that he did. With so many communication methods these days it is hard to navigate everyone’s preferences. I also agree that OP should tell her manager. People are usually very understanding about that sort of thing. So sorry for your loss, OP, and that you had to cope with it while at work. (I received a similar call once while at home, regarding a friend’s suicide. It literally knocked me to my knees. No way I would have been able to continue to work especially not to attend a feedback meeting! it would have been like…oh you find my TPS reports efficient? Burst into tears…I’m so happy to hear that! Sob…)

    2. Op #4*

      Thank you so much. I found some of these comments strangely critical. As I mentioned in my letter, the friend was my boyfriends, not my own, and I was more worried about his reaction and feelings than my own. We know each-others communication styles well, and he knows I can’t answer my phone at work if he calls.

      My boss and I both often work off site, we text frequently and I’m encouraged to check my phone at work.

      V knew I would want the news as soon as possible, and it was his sad news, not mine. I had spent a good number of days with this person but didn’t truly know him well; I just knew he had always been really kind to me, and was important to V.

    3. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

      I’m also very much a work-to-live person, but I have the opposite preference. However, I agree that it is just that: a preference, not something that’s objectively right or wrong. I think that slightly delayed bad news makes it possible to separate work and life more than immediate bad news, but maybe you find it easier the other way.

  6. This Daydreamer*

    OP1 – yikes! I am so sorry you’ve got all of that on your plate right now. Any halfway decent manager would let you skip unnecessary travel. If he refuses, then you’ve learned that you should probably start looking for a new job now.

    OP5 – I like your boss! I hope your next boss is just as supportive.

  7. Bagpuss*

    OP #2 – Definitely let Max know. It would also have been fine for you to have mentioned it at the time, and asked for little time to compose yourself, or even to leave early to go to your partner.

    OP #4 – as Alison says, contact the person who prepared the plan . Getting your name right is really basic. You would’t hesitate if it was a spelling error.
    I’ve had similar issues with people choosing to use a shortened form of my name. It’s a nickname which I really, really, dislike but even if I didn’t, it’s so rude and presumptuous to change someone’s name without their consent.

    1. MacAilbert*

      This. One thing I really dislike about being American is how overly familiar we are with people we just met. I’m not friends with someone I just met, and any term of endearment is most inappropriate.

    2. Kalamet*

      I think the person who has the name gets to decide whether a nickname is “friendly”, not random strangers. I don’t really care for my full first name, so nicknames aren’t a big deal.

      My husband, on the other hand, has an emotional attachment to the name (it has history in his family), and it makes him very upset to have it shortened. We’re not talking a casual one-off that stops after he corrects it. The problem with Swarthmore Adonis’ script is that many people will just ignore your preference and call you what they like. That is not friendly, it’s rude.

    3. Allison*

      I hate being called Allie too! I liked it when I was a kid, but as I got older, being called Allie felt like I was being spoken to as though I was a little girl, and I didn’t want to be spoken to that way because I wasn’t a little girl anymore. If other girls named Allison like Allie, that’s fine, it’s just not for me.

    4. Justme*

      I also hate being called Ali. But my name has a Y in it, which (to me) makes the nickname super weird. Friends can call me Al, and I won’t even call them Betty.

    5. Soon to be former fed*

      I think this attitude is a little off-putting, but to each her own. That said, I think names are important and I go out of my way to say and spell people’s names correctly and the way they prefer. Its a matter of respect.

  8. Kate, Short for Bob*

    #2 – please don’t feel that you were unprofessional or inappropriate in your reaction – sudden death does that to us, and it doesn’t matter how many years you have in the workplace it’s upsetting.

    I had a similar reaction to hearing of the death of someone I hadn’t seen for years – it felt disproportionate at the time but I ended up taking the rest of the day off I was struggling so much. It probably didn’t help I was working about 4 hours from home at the time. But unpicking it later, that person had been close for a time, never romantic, and had represented a very specific time in my life.

    So go easy on yourself, and just be matter of fact with your boss. Be prepared for the *record scratch* when you give your reason because it’s a big thing to process. If you can remember the feedback you were being given at the time, you can say you’ll be working on it. If you can’t, it’s ok to ask to go through it again so you can take it in properly.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    1. Red 5*

      I’ve been going through a lot of that *record scratch* stuff myself. I’ve started prefacing it with, “there’s no way to say this that doesn’t make it awkward…” which doesn’t stop the silent stare, but at least makes everybody know that I totally understand that it’s a big thing to drop into a conversation and requires a real shift in expectations from how they thought this flow was going.

      It is important to remember that when people start to struggle after you tell them you’re grieving, it’s not a signal of anything except that it’s a hard moment in general.

  9. MacAilbert*

    I think this is very dependant on industry and location. Lots of jobs, there’s no reason to even suspect travel. Certainly not in mine (I sell liquor to tourists, I’d be gobsmacked if I was asked to travel to another city). And I actually would have an issue if my boss up and asked me to drive, considering I don’t have a license.

    1. MacAilbert*

      In terms of college jobs, it’s probably among the best. Hours don’t interfere with class because it’s such a late trending job, it doesn’t really get boring, I tend to be too busy with the volume of drinks to spend all night having to socialize, and the money is huge (we don’t have a seperate tipped minimum wage in California, so I make $14 an hour plus tips, and tourists seem to overtip as much as they undertip, if not more). It’s harder than when I worked retail, but I still prefer it.

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      Yeah, in my position not being able to travel at all would eventually set you back a bit professionally since it’s expected you’ll at least occasionally go to conferences and such, but there are plenty of local business-day-length professional development workshops and longer travel definitely isn’t required.

  10. Alex*

    Haha fellow Alexandra here. We must both have the world’s worst listeners:)

    I actually used to go by a different nickname but I’ve given up and go by Alex now.

    1. BookishMiss*

      I’ve got a 3 letter name that often somehow gains two or three letters between my mouth and my listener’s ears. It’s magic.

  11. Beth*

    #4 – ugh, I share your org chart woes – not only is my name listed incorrectly mostly everywhere in official directories (my first name is actually two names, and they’re set together as my preferred first name in our HR system, but the directories only use the first half of my name), but I’m NOT EVEN ON the org chart for my department. Despite me having work there full time for two years, and part time for four years before that. Someone who got hired after I did is on there, but not me. Gaaah.

    1. Sam*

      Most of my career has been academic advising-adjacent, and it would never occur to me to bring up travel in an interview process because it is, in my experience, very rarely an expectation of the job. I went on maybe 4 work trips in 8 years doing that kind of work at 3 universities, and they were all things I volunteered for. So I don’t think OP #1 failed to do something critical here – the expectation of significant travel (whether it’s multiple trips a year or one substantial trip) is unusual enough in these jobs that I think the onus is on the employer to bring it up.

      1. Justme*

        Same. I work in Higher Ed and any travel I have done is the next town over for the day. Others travel overnight, but my job listing even specified that there was no travel involved.

      2. Admin of Sys*

        Agreed! My last job was a 10 year stint and I traveled once, voluntarily, to a conference I wanted to go to. There are quite a few careers/jobs where travel is not the norm at all.

  12. I Herd the Cats*

    In my low-overhead nonprofit workplace, convention/training travel is viewed as something of a “bonus” — yes, you have to work the conference or go to the training, but you also get to go to Fun City X on someone else’s dime and have some downtime. There are people who very much view it like this, and I think management views it as a perk as well — hey, we’re paying to fly you to Puerto Rico for a one-day training!! People might even tack on a day or two of leave (at their expense) before flying home. Point being, if I had a problem traveling, I’d make that very clear to my boss and ask to find a workaround, because at least in my org they’d rather find someone who actually wanted to go. We have staff with young kids who pretty much never travel, even though they’re more involved in a specific program; other team members cover for them at the New Orleans convention, etc. Training is trickier, but there are a lot of online options as well.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, my sister’s first job after University was for a big multinational organisation. They rotated where they did the intake training for their new graduate employee, so she got to go to Prague. They organised the training for Thursday and Friday and anyone who wanted to could stay and fly home on Sunday evening, if they were willing to pay for Saturday night’s accommodation. It was definitely seen as a perk, but I am sure that they would have found ways to accommodate someone who was not able to travel

  13. YetAnotherAlison*

    Although I would argue that a job that requires a lot of grant seeking often requires a lot of travel. I do think OP1, given that fact, should have said something in the I terview.

    1. Chocolate lover*

      The op didn’t say her job was “grant seeking” just grant funded. They’re not always the same thing, at least in academia.

      1. YetAnotherAlison*

        I guess. My spouse is in academia and he spends tons of time developing grants. They mentioned development specifically in the interview which to me suggested they would want OP to go after funding.

        1. chocolate lover*

          It looks like they asked about professional development though, not development as in fundraising. I work at a university, and we have a variety of programs which are grant funded, but only designated people responsible for obtaining the grants.

          1. YetAnotherAlison*

            Yes, although ultimately I don’t really think it changes the outcome. LW can ask for no travel, but the employer can make it a job requirement. The employer will have wasted its own time and money if this doesn’t work out but ultimately there is no real reason they cannot ask that of OP.

  14. PB*

    OP #4, I really feel your pain! My first name has many possible nicknames, and everyone assumes I go by a certain one without asking. It gets really annoying! Add to that, before I was married, my last name was one letter off of a much more common last name (think Smyth/Smith). My last name was never spelled correctly, even on important documents. I had to always ask for it to be respelled. This was a huge part of why I decided to change my name post-marriage; my husband’s name is much easier to spell!

    IME, however, people have no problem making the change when it’s pointed out. 90% of the time, they just say “okay” and make the change. The other 10% apologize profusely. It should be fine, even in cases where you don’t know the person well. I’m sorry you also have to deal with this frustration.

    1. Murphy*

      My first name is one letter off from a more common first name, and I get the other name all of the time. I often have to correct people multiple times, and sometimes I just stop because it’s clear that they’re just not getting it.

      There was a person from Client Services (!!!) for a product that my organization uses, for which I am the administrator. I had to correct her via email (where my name was clearly visible in my signature, as well as in my email address) THREE TIMES before she acknowledged it at all.

    2. Shoe Ruiner*

      OP 4: I have a similar issue. I have an uncommon name that looks like it’s pronounced one way, but it’s pronounced differently. Think “Alicia” but my name is pronounced “A-lee-see-ah.” I have sympathy for people who read my name before they hear it, and get it wrong, but I should only have to correct you a couple of times.

      The worst is when someone has never read my name, only heard it, and STILL gets it wrong. Those bad listeners you mentioned. “Hi, I’m “A-lee-see-ah.” “Nice to meet you, “A-leash-ah.” *head explodes*

  15. LiveAndLetDie*

    I have a pretty unique name, and for me, people trying out nicknames on me comes in two flavors:

    1) They’re close friends and they know me well and the nickname comes from a genuine place, or
    2) They’ve just met me and can’t be bothered to try and learn my name properly.

    The folks under umbrella #1 are fine. If I dislike the given nickname, I say so, and they don’t use it again, because they respect me and my wishes about it.

    The folks under umbrella #2? They’re the jerks who keep trying and trying, repeatedly, even when I say I dislike a nickname. This is how I have gotten saddled with godawful “funny” nicknames over the years, where one umbrella-2 person is just so persistent that the awful nickname persists in whatever place they are that I’m also in (high school, a workplace, etc). Don’t be an umbrella-2 person.

    1. shep*

      Same. I have an unusual first name that shortens to a common name easily. That said, I’ve only had a few people ever try to use the shorter name. My dad calls me by the shorter name as a kind of verbal shorthand occasionally, and he’s really the only person who can get away with it because it seems normal to me.

      I had a friend for YEARS online who tried out the shorter name once (I think there’s something about not actually TALKING that gives people more latitude to try out nicknames), and I felt sort of horrible but I went sort of sideways at asking her not to: “Actually, it’s funny you call me that. Only my dad has ever called me that.”

      She was gracious enough to realize I was passively (and poorly) asking her not to call me by that name. In retrospect I should’ve just said I preferred my full name.

      On the whole, though, I think my name is so odd to people that it doesn’t occur to them to shorten it.

  16. Trout 'Waver*

    Bringing up the fact that you aren’t available to travel for a job that typically doesn’t require travel is needlessly confrontational and would be out of place in a job interview.

  17. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#3. If this candidate who’s making $30k more than you in a less expensive city does take the job, you know you deserve a raise, right?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Maybe. Or maybe the other person is just paid over what the standard is in the market, and will have to take a cut wherever he goes. (I had this situation. Golden handcuffs! I worked for an organization that just had higher wages than any of its equivalents. 2.5 years later and I’m still working my way back to the salary I had there. I’ll never catch up to where I’d be if I had stayed there, and I’m probably at least 5 years away from getting back to the salary I left. Sigh. But still worth it, for other reasons.)

      1. LW #3*

        Yup. Spot’s been open for a while, unsurprisingly. We’ve lost candidates before because of it. When I realized he would have to fly in (at his own expense), I asked. And immediately felt bad. Oops.

        On the flip side, if I stick around long enough, hopefully my student loans will get forgiven. :)

  18. Red 5*

    I was actually going to put this in an open thread later, but since letter #4 sort of brings it up, is there a not awkward way to find out if a person prefers the nickname or a full name after you’ve been working with them for a kind of absurdly long time?

    Let’s say I was a co-worker with the letter writer. And half the office got the memo that she prefer Alexandra, and half is still just not getting it. Because she’s so used to this in life, she responds to both. Her email signature has her full name (first, middle initial, and last) and she doesn’t actually sign off with a “Thanks, Alexandra” but just “Thanks.” If, after um, a few years, I notice that the name people use isn’t consistent, and I want to make sure with her that I’m using what she prefers, how do you even do that? Especially if it’s somebody that you work with literally every day of the week?

    I’m totally comfortable asking somebody what they prefer when I first meet them, but in this one case I didn’t and now I’ve realized that I’m honestly not sure what this person wants to be called or if they even care (I don’t care one way or another about nicknames for my name, but my husband cannot stand the shortened version of his name). It seems weird to be in the middle of an average workday and just go “Oh, by the way, what IS your name?” They’ve never corrected me, but I know that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care. Any advice? Should I just bite the bullet and be weird?

    Unrelated, Letter Writer #2, I do think you should feel comfortable just speaking up but I don’t know that you even have to go so far as to say “I hope you didn’t think I was upset about what you were saying” or anything like that. You could just send a quick email saying “I just wanted to thank you for that meeting the other day, the feedback was really good and I really appreciated getting a chance to improve. I’m sorry if I wasn’t able to engage with you as much as I might have liked during the meeting, just beforehand I got word that a good friend had passed away and I was still processing the news.” Then you if you’re comfortable you could say something about how things are going on that situation, but you could also end with something like “please continue to offer me your feedback.”

    All that being said, I also want to say, please mention it to your supervisor, if you have a good supervisor, if it’s something that you’re still dealing with emotionally. I have had a few big losses like that, and it did end up affecting my work sometimes because it’s just a rough thing to deal with. Grief is hard. I was lucky enough to have sympathetic bosses who were understanding and would let me say things like “I’m not doing as well today as yesterday, so could I get a little help today?”

    I got to a point where I hated hearing people say “I’m sorry for your loss,” even though I knew they meant it with all of the love in their heart. So I will say I am sorry for what you are going through, and I hope that you have family and friends around you now so that you can all navigate this together. Good luck, and take care.

    1. Demon Llama*

      Hi, I have a fairly unusual name and people often mispronounce it. I actively prefer someone to ask, “hey Demon Llama, can I check the right way to say your name please? I’ve heard a couple of people say it differently and I want to be sure I’m getting it right.”

      Even if it’s been a while since we were introduced, this is SO SO much better than when people unilaterally decide what they think is right and plough on with it for the rest of time. Because that way puts the pressure on me to stop them and say “hey, actually it’s Demon Llama, not Dæmon Llama, FYI,” and as I’m shy, it feels like quite a lot of emotional effort.

      Other people may think otherwise, but if it were me, I’d send an email (or say in person), “Hey Alexandra, just checking – do you prefer Alex or Alexandra or [insert other common variant]? I probably should have asked this sooner, but I’ve seen people use both/all of these and I realised I’ve no idea if I’m using the right one.”

      1. Demon Llama*

        Also, Red 5, massive congrats for not just assuming if she hasn’t mentioned it, she doesn’t care. I do care, but I just don’t have the emotional energy to make myself correct people (especially more senior people) and if I don’t do it at the start, it makes me feel like I’m being really weird to only bring it up later. Your colleague may have just resigned herself to always being forced into a nickname she hates and would really appreciate the effort to ask.

        (And if she really doesn’t care, she can just say, “whichever, don’t care” and you can choose the one that feels right!)

        1. Red 5*

          That’s part of what made me start to notice the difference with this person actually, is that a friend had mentioned how she was just tired of correcting people and that it so often ended up being a weird conversation. If I cared about nicknames for my name, I would find it almost impossible to correct people because I just hate those kinds of conversations. If I’m stressed about asking what she prefers to be called, I can only imagine the stress of actually correcting people.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’ve done that exact thing when I heard another coworker mangle someone’s name, but I wasn’t actually sure it wasn’t me doing the mangling. I just asked him! And we’d been good colleagues for a while. In that case, his name was not one I was familiar with before, but you could do the same thing for anyone. “I’ve noticed some people call you Alex, do you prefer that to Alexandra?”

    2. Bagpuss*

      I’d say you’d be fine to say to them “I’ve noticed that some people call you Alex and some call you Alexandria – which do you prefer?” (Or even – I’ve always called you Alex as that’s how you were introduced to me, but I’ve noticed a lot of people call you Alexandria. Do you prefer that?”)

      1. anon for this one*

        Since my daughter’s name is Alexandra, I have to point out that YOU DID THE THING. You changed it to Alexandria. Why do so many people do that???

        1. fposte*

          Because “Alexandria” is common and similar. Just ask Katherines about how they get their names changed :-).

          1. Anonygoose*

            I don’t think Alexandria is actually very common. It’s more of a city name than a person’s name.

            1. fposte*

              It’s not a common girl’s name, but it’s a common proper noun. You don’t have to have another person to confuse the name with–it’s enough that it exists in the zeitgeist and has a common suffix.

            2. anon for this one*

              Yeah, there are a few Alexandras in her school. Not a single Alexandria that I’m aware of. I don’t know why everyone at the pediatrician’s office, for example, seems to default to Alexandria (and no, it’s not spelled that way on her records).

    3. Myrin*

      I don’t think at all that it would be weird to ask your coworker, even after many years! I mean, I understand where the awkwardness you fear comes from but I’ve had success in the past with being very upbeat and maybe a tiny bit self-deprecating in such situations. Something like “I’m embarrassed because this is probably a bit awkward, but I just realised that I never actually asked if you prefer Alex or Alexandra. Would you rather I call you one or the other?” or so should not be a huge deal and you might even share a laugh about it.

    4. Admin of Sys*

      I definitely think it’d be fine to ask regarding the name, regardless of how long you’ve known someone. Though if you want to offer an excuse for asking after years, you can say that someone recently mentioned how annoying it was that folks assumed name-variants were okay, and now you’re checking with everyone for their preference – Which is exactly what happened, it just got mentioned in Ask, not in brick space. :)

      1. Red 5*

        That’s a good point, and it’s not like we haven’t had other coworkers with similar “they’re calling me by the wrong name” situations, so it’s not like it’s a topic that just never comes up in our world.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      Bite the bullet :) I’ve been on both sides of that conversation, and it’s been fine.

    6. Lefty*

      For the first part of your comment- asking which name someone prefers after knowing them by both/either for some time- are you ever in a situation where you’ll hear them introduce themselves? If they say, “Hi, I’m Alexandra”, you could later use that to pose the question later. “Hey, I know you get called ‘Alex’ a lot, but I heard you introduce yourself as ‘Alexandra’ earlier. Which do you prefer?” And then of course, call them by the preferred name.

      It sounds like the Alexandra in your situation could use some back-up though. If you know that she prefers Alexandra, maybe you could help re-route some of the use of “Alex”. “Alex who? Ooooh, you mean Alexandra in accounting. She only goes by Alexandra.”

      1. Red 5*

        I’ve actually been fretting about this for about two months, and in that time I’ve been eavesdropping a bit to try to hear introductions and of course, every single time there’s been a new person around, the third person who is bringing the new person in does the introductions. So the only info I get is to reinforce that this third person calls them Alexandra or Alex. It seemed like the perfect plan to bring up the subject too! I’m just going to have to find a moment where it’s just the two of us and ask.

        1. kitryan*

          I finally checked in with a close coworker, because the name conversation had been on his first day or so, and I was worried that he had been trying to make a good impression and might have been unwilling at the time to state his preference.
          So I just said that I wanted to make sure he wanted to be called the name and spelling I’d been using this whole time (about a year and a half). He said yes, that was his preference (either what I’d been using or the full name, but not a couple other variants). I said ‘great’ and we all went on with our day.
          Since there’s multiple names used in the office, I would think that saying ‘it just occurred to me that I’ve been calling you X and Fergus usually calls you Y – I should check in to make sure of your preference- I know it can be irritating when people don’t use your preferred name.’ – and of course, the key element is changing if that’s what’s preferred, since now there’s no excuse!

    7. shep*

      Oh man, I had two of these at my last job. I wasn’t there long enough to suss out their actual preferences, but one person was named Richard (for example), but I heard him called “Rich.” Just when I thought I should call him Rich, I’d hear “Richard” again.

      The BIG stumbling block was the other guy. He was literally introduced to me as “Jack, but also sometimes Herbert.”

      I found out later he went by “Jack” because that was his middle name, but when he first started, everyone called him “Herbert” because it was his first name and he didn’t bother to correct anyone for months. Apparently they took to calling him “Herbert Jack” for a while before the office just split into their “Jack”/”Herbert” camps.

      It was all very confusing to someone like myself who deeply wants to call a person by the name they most prefer.

  19. Delta Delta*

    I have a name that can be shortened into numerous different nicknames. Over my life I have gone by one of those names primarily, if I use a nickname at all. Lots of times I’ve had people call me by another of the nicknames and then get offended when I don’t answer. I’m not attuned to listening for that particular name, so I don’t respond to it. If I tell you my name is DeltaDelta, don’t call me “Telly” and expect that I’ll know you’re talking to me.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    #3 OP was constrained by a weird hiring process, but I really believe that baseline salary should be something businesses assume prospective employees want to know right at the start. Also where the job will be located. If it’s not going to work for big obvious reasons like those, prospective employees and their interviewers shouldn’t have to spend hours slowly dancing up to that mutual realization. (A bit like yesterday’s discussion of bad websites that don’t reveal the business’s hours of operation, because the owner wants people to be drawn in and deeply explore the site’s easter eggs before they reveal that tidbit.)

    It sounds almost like the company tried to set up an informational interview, rather than vice versa. And they were providing broad “what’s the day-to-day like for someone in this job?” to someone who was explicitly not interested in this job unless it was going to be a bump in pay.

    1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      Agreed. My husband is currently searching for a new job and as salary is the #1 reason he’s leaving his job, it’s important to him to know what the baseline salary is during that first interview. If they refuse to give him a range during that first interview it immediately sours him against the company.

    2. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      The secret squirrel shenanigans around salary are endlessly frustrating to me. You told HR your budget, why won’t you tell the candidate? It is a real number/range that you know. Stop being coy.

      1. Doug Judy*

        The worst is when your internal candidate. One company I worked with listed the pay grade by each open position which was very helpful. But then I took a job at a very large company and no such info was given and when I inquired with HR what the range was for an open position they would say that was up to the hiring manager. Good grief I wasn’t asking for an exact amount just a ballpark to see if it was even worth applying for. They were cagey about salary when I initially interviewed there as well which should have clued me in to run away.

    3. LW #3*

      Yup. You nailed it. It was an informational interview for both of us. My primary mission was to assess personality and fit, while providing the candidate information about the role and responsibilities associated with the position.

      No one wants to fill this position more than I do (I mean that with 100% sincerity). If there hadn’t been other red flags, I would have tried to move him forward and crossed my fingers that maybe this time, HR could make it work.

  21. Trout 'Waver*

    In response to the name vs nickname thing, I have another slight grievance.

    Let’s say I have a coworker named Philip. When I meet them, I ask if they prefer Philip or Phil. Their response, “Either’s fine.” But I notice all their friends call them Phil. So it’s clear they have some preference. Do I call them Phil, or is that only for their friends? I personally don’t care and would call them whatever they preferred.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It doesn’t mean he has a preference, it means his friends do. In this case I would guess Philip has a slight preference for ‘Philip’ but it’s not so grating that he’s decided it’s the hill to die on.

      (I’m okay with Falling and Fallin’, and no doubt should have made the concerted effort to switch to Falling (given name) rather than Fallin’ (common nickname) at 18 as Miss Manners suggests. Too many people in my life now call me Fallin’ to be worth wrestling. Yet I will push back against anyone who calls me Fa, which is as nails on a chalkboard.)

      1. fposte*

        Heh. I’m about there too. Don’t assume just because other people use the nickname it’s something that Philip actually likes.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Take their word for it!

      If you’ve been thoughtful enough to ask, and they have said “either is fine” then go with either. It’s part of respecting them enough to ask – respect them enough to believe the answer and you can relax :)

    3. Anonygoose*

      Some people genuinely don’t care! My husband has a common first name with a common nickname, and even I call him by both of them on occasion. He genuinely has no problem with either one. He is the only one allowed to call me the short form of my name, though. But I tell people that if they ask which I prefer.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I used to work with somebody who had a double name (think Jean-Paul or Anna-Maria). In the office they were called by the first half, but once I attended a conference and met some of Anna’s old friends. It took a while to realise who Ria was!

  22. YetAnotherAlison*

    I think something that should be acknowledge that while OP1 can ask to not travel, the employer may make it a condition of employment. Some academic jobs, particularly grant-reliant ones, can involve extensive networking. It may end up being that this is not a good fit. That doesn’t make either OP poor employer a bad person if it is a mismatch.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, but if travel is a condition of employment, it should be brought up in the interview.

      1. YetAnotherAlison*

        Although that kind of thing happens a lot. I have a friend who was hired into a law firm with no mention of travel. A month in she was sent on a 3 month trip to China. It definitely happens and in academia travel can be very common. My own undergrad research advisor was constantly in Germany and Mexico working on our industry connections.

      2. Kathleen Adams*

        I agree that frequent travel should be brought up in the interview, but…

        Attending the occasional conference? I think most employers would assume employees expect that, and I think most employees would expect that, too. It’s super, super common, so common that many people wouldn’t think to bring it up in an interview.

        I don’t think anybody is at fault here, really, but I do think if the OP simply cannot travel at all (and I understand perfectly why she can’t), it was kind of up to her to mention it. I don’t like to say that because I can see she’s in a difficult position, but in this case, she had expectations that were a little unrealistic, I think.

      3. Temperance*

        I assume that any job could require travel at any time, especially in an industry like the LW’s.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Like the LW, Mr. Shackelford was also an academic advisor in higher education for a few years, and his job never involved mandatory overnight travel at all, let alone anything as expensive as the LW describes. So I wouldn’t have made that assumption.

          1. Sterling*

            I work at a 2 yr college and while they won’t send me anywhere near as fun at Puerto Rico I do have over night travel 3-4 times a year for conferences and trainings. And since my specialty is ADA accommodations and students with disabilities I went to many state, regional and national conferences and trainings. Depending on your school it could also be expected that you will collaborate on presenting at these as well. If that isn’t your goal and you don’t want to grow your career you can decline but you really won’t be helping yourself go very far.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Eh, it depends on how frequent the travel is. I think it’s reasonable to assume that any office-based job may require occasional travel (in which case it’s on the applicant to get clarity on that if it’s a dealbreaker for them).

        More generally, I like to push back on the notion that interviews must cover every possible scenario (to avoid the dreaded bait-and-switch). Might have to occasionally work late? Weekends sometimes? Office allows children to visit? Parking is assigned based on seniority, not the hierarchy? An interview can’t cover everything; applicants need to be clear about the specific things they care about and ask about those things.

        In this case, I do think it was incumbent on the LW to ask; if you have an absolutely hard line on travel, you should make that clear and not assume that because the employer didn’t mention it you’re in the clear.

  23. Demon Llama*

    OP #2, as everyone else has said, your reaction sounds like a perfectly reasonable response to hearing some sudden and tragic news. Allison’s advice is perfect as always.

    I hope this doesn’t take things too off-topic, but I just wanted to add that if, at some point in the future, you get emotional about the actual feedback you’re getting, then that’s something that sometimes happens and it’s also ok! Sometimes feedback about your work will address personal behaviours that have an emotional trigger attached. It’s not having the emotional response that’s the issue, it’s how you explain that you’re having an emotional response. (i.e. floods of tears or aggressive denial = not good, getting a bit teary and asking for a moment to compose yourself = totally fine!)

    A good manager is ok with an occasional teary moment in a feedback session, as long as it’s occasional and you still take their feedback on board. This has happened to me, and I just explained that it touched on some personal stuff and took a moment to recover, and then everything was fine.

    Best of luck with the rest of your internship and also, I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend. I hope you and your boyfriend are doing ok.

    1. Red 5*

      Yes, this is very true. I’m good at taking written feedback but face to face stuff can still sometimes be hard for me so I’m often very quiet in these kinds of meetings. But I have gotten overly emotional in them before and just took a deep breath and said “I’m sorry, there’s a lot going on here and at home and so I’m running a bit more emotional than usual. I’m fine, and I appreciate what you’re saying,” etc.

      Just acknowledging it works out pretty well if you’ve got a good manager.

  24. Health Insurance Nerd*

    I have a name that can be pronounced a few different ways, and some people, even when hearing it pronounced “my way” will still use the different pronunciation. I gave up correcting them years ago, but it’s still super annoying.

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      As a person with one friend named Sandra, first syllable rhyming with band, and one friend named Sandra, first syllable rhyming with bond; and friends named Arielle pronounced Airielle and Ahrielle with the emphasis on the first syllable and Airielle and Ahrielle with the emphasis on the last syllable, and Ariella (I know, why not spell it that way), I apologize on behalf of everyone who has ever pronounced your name wrong after correction.

      1. fposte*

        For me it’s multiple Andrea variants. I have a strongly orthographic memory, so I’m good at remembering who’s not Andy, but Andrea who is Ah-ndrea, Andrea who is And-rea, and Andrea who is An-DRAY-uh all get muddled together in my brain.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t know if this helps, but some of us just have a terrible ear. I had a few discussions with my multilingual husband about how to pronounce words that basically ran:
      “It’s not oven, it’s oven.”
      “Those sound exactly the same.”
      “No: o-ven. And o-ven.”
      “They still sound exactly the same. I sincerely believe that we are pronouncing this word in exactly the same way, and cannot hear this vowel difference you claim is there.”

      I do my best to pronounce people’s names correctly, but I’m sure I’m often in there with Jake from Brooklyn 99, saying “Nicolaj” “No, it’s Nicolaj” “Nicolaj” “Still wrong: Nicolaj” “Nicoloj” No…”

      1. Red 5*

        That’s definitely an issue when it comes to other languages, and I’ve had almost this exact conversation with somebody. It’s a studied phenomenon that I cannot recall the specifics of now, but with certain languages unless you’re a native speaker or become fluent there’s going to be issues with your mouth and tongue having the skill to shape the sound correctly and with your brain processing the language correctly to hear the difference.

        I always try to tell people who have names that I find difficult because of my own language barriers that I will do my best and that if I mess up to remember that it’s all on me. And I never, ever give them a nickname unless they offer one.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          When my daughter was in infant, she had a wide variety of clicks. We thought this was really neat and would have reflected them back to her just for the coolness factor, but we didn’t know how and so they faded from her vocabulary by toddlerhood.

        2. Allie Oops*

          Phonemes! Fascinating stuff. Studies show that kids lose them much earlier than previously thought, which has pushed for bilinguilism to begin earlier in schools. Waiting for high school to start learning a second language is FAR too late.

      2. paul*

        pen and pin.

        THEY SOUND THE SAME TO ME OK!?! Apparently not to most people though.

        I’ve got a friend with a wife whose name is utterly unpronounceable for me. It’s Chinese–I forget if it’s Mandarin or Cantonese or another dialect–and I’ve been told I butcher the inflection. I feel bad, because getting someone’s name wrong is annoying, but I just apparently am not hearing what they’re saying right.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, I think pen/pin is an accent difference – I’ve seen it come up in accent quizzes. To me they sound different, but Mary/merry/marry all sound identical!

          1. Paul*

            me too :/

            I have a hell of a time with a and e sounds. Same damn thing as far as I’m concerned TBH. This predates my hearing loss too.

    3. kittymommy*

      My first name is hard to pronounce and spell, even my extended family still gets it wrong. I don’t even notice anymore.

    4. BookishMiss*

      This is actually a hill I’ve chosen with my very Polish surname. Most people who mispronounce it can actually say it correctly – they just choose not to. I had to call a co-worker out on it because she was teaching it to new hires incorrectly, so I just went with ‘actually, it’s Rochester, not Row-chester’ with a straight face. She hasn’t messed it up since. It’s something I have a lot of practice with.

      1. Paul*

        Rochester/Rowchester would sound the same to me, or extraordinarily close. Maybe kinda extend the o sound on the first to make the second word’s sound? IDK

  25. Rusty Shackelford*

    Overnight travel is significantly different from sharpening pencils or driving (and I’m going to assume “flushing the loo” was meant to be an amusing hyperbole). Sharpening pencils and driving can be done during your normal workday. Overnight travel cannot. If you expect employees to be able to put their normal lives on the back burner after their normal workday, even if it’s only once or twice a year, you need to make that clear before they accept the job. Because it’s a dealbreaker for some people.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      And I would be shocked and appalled if driving turned out to be a requirement for any office job I’ve ever had, since I don’t drive and it’s never been an issue.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yep. I’ve never had a driving licence, and probably won’t at least until I have enough time and money to get one. If I’m applying for a job, I’d expect it to say on the advert that being able to drive is a requirement. (And all the jobs I’ve seen that require it do have it right there in the ad!)

    2. Kathleen Adams*

      Frequent travel should definitely be brought up in an interview, but every professional-level job I’ve ever had involved some travel, even it if was just once per year. So I assume there is some travel, and I’m sure my employers assumed I knew there would be some travel as well. Because there always is.

      So much as I feel for the OP in a difficult situation, I think if travel is a deal-breaker for her, it was her responsibility to bring it up. Expecting occasional travel is the norm, at least in my industry, and if the OP can’t do something that is considered the norm, she’s the one who should have raised it.

      And that’s what she needs to do right now. Most employers will try to work with someone in these circumstances, so she needs to give them a chance to do that.

      1. Undine*

        “Expecting occasional travel is the norm, at least in my industry.”

        It really depends on the industry and the job. In my job, travel is highly unusual and also optional. I don’t know the standards for the OP. I do agree that getting that out on the table a soon as possible now is the best way to go.

    1. Red 5*

      Holy cow, that was a ride.

      I have a name that also has a lot of common nicknames, and while some I like better than others, I can’t even imagine being so invested in my name as my identity that I would send more than a single email about it. Even the “who is Liz” is so weirdly confrontational.

    2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I’d forgotten about that one. My favorite part is when she makes her response emails as “High Importance”.

      Importance: High
      “Who told you that name?!?!?!?”


  26. Lora*

    True story about my name:

    When I meet Spanish speakers I generally introduce myself as Laura, not Lora. Lora is a female parrot in Spanish. In the majority of Latin American countries, the expression for “holy hecking sht” is literally translated as “I sht in the milk!” Which is fine.

    Except in Argentina. I looooove Argentina. The helado delivery bikes, the malbec, the dancing, the music, the weather. But the way they say “holy hecking sht” is “la concha de la lora”. Literally, “the seashell of the female parrot,” but slang for the lady parts of a prostitute. Lora is their euphemism for prostitute.

    They mostly don’t use credit/debit cards in Argentina, they use cash, but on the occasions when I did use my credit card, I was always asked for ID. Bonus: my bank card is from Middlesex Bank.

    1. Lily Rowan*


      I used to make fun of Americans who used a Spanish version of their own names when speaking Spanish, until I actually spent a little time in Mexico and realized how much easier it is to use the Spanish version! It actually gave me more understanding of Jorges who go by George in English.

    2. Snark*

      “Literally, “the seashell of the female parrot,” but slang for the lady parts of a prostitute. Lora is their euphemism for prostitute.”

      The gloriously gratuitous filthiness of profanity in Romance languages never fails to amuse. I’m pretty fluent in Italian, and HOLY CRAP GUYS Italian profanity takes filth to an art form. Especially southern Italian dialectical slang.

    3. only acting normal*

      Oh wow.
      I went skiing once upon a time and the instructor for my group was from Argentina – he pronounced “Laura” what I assume was the usual Argentine way (approx. LAOW-rah), and one of the English speakers in the group (not Laura, who didn’t mind how he said it) ‘corrected’ him to say it… well… the rude way for him!

  27. Allie Oops*

    People who reverse engineer names are often in for a nasty surprise when companies have an international presence. The owner of a company I used to work for fancied herself a matriachical Miss Manners, and insisted on calling everyone by a full name. She referred to Gerry as “Gerald” for the entire time he worked there, despite his multiple protests. After he quit and someone called for a reference, she had no idea who “Gerardo” was and had to be told.

  28. Red 5*

    Driving actually isn’t and shouldn’t be required for most employment outside of things that have “driver” in the title like taxi driver or delivery driver.

    There’s a reason it’s always phrased as “reliable transportation.” Because unless you’re actually driving on the job, then they have no business knowing how you get to work, and driving requirements would be discriminatory towards people who can’t afford a car, can’t drive because of disability, etc.

    I’ve never had a job that required travel of the type being defined by this letter writer. I’ve had jobs that have offered opportunities to travel, and I have taken them up on some of those for some really wonderful experiences. But travel has never been discussed in interviews or on the job until the opportunity came up because I have never in my decades of working life worked at a job that required overnight or “out of town” travel.

  29. Anon Anon*

    #3 – this is why I think it’s so value to list the salary range in the job posting/ad. While the salary isn’t everything, it is important, and some potential candidates will self-select out of applying if it doesn’t meet their range.

    Where I work we have the opposite problem. Our HR manager spends double or sometimes triple the time that the hiring manger gets, going over the salary and benefits with the candidates.

    #4 — the nickname thing is frustrating. I’ve experienced something similar myself. However, I would encourage you to correct people. There are a lot of names that get shortened, and so I think it’s easy for people to assume that you go by the shortened name (Becky for Rebecca, Kate/Katie for Katherine, etc.). I don’t think they are trying to be reduce, they are just making an assumption. One you correct the assumption then they stop.

  30. saffytaffy*

    OP 1 – You don’t need to share a reason. You don’t need to share the extensive and honestly kind of mind-boggling list of reasons you have. If you want to, that’s fine, but your desire to not do it is worth enough to make it worth listening to. Please just remember that.

  31. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

    Yes, and Americans are known for this hasty familiarity by other cultures around the world. It’s a Thing.

  32. bopper*

    I think it is time to make sure #1 LW has more support…be it visiting nurses, respite care or what have you. Talk to your county’s office on aging to see what options are out there.

  33. AnonEMoose*

    “It’s also worth bearing in mind that using nicknames or diminutives uninvited can also be a way of infantilising someone so if you do it, particularly if you are a man doing it to a woman, or an older or more senior person doing it to a younger or more junior one, it can come across that way (Which is you do it intentionally, is the opposite of friendly or welcoming, and if done unintentionally cancome across that way.”

    This. This. SO MUCH THIS. When I was younger, I used to get the nicknaming attempts a lot. Along with objections that my full first name (which I strongly prefer) was “so formal.” (And what’s wrong with a bit of formality…I just met you!) It was almost invariably a sign that the person in question was going to consistently push my boundaries, bully me, or otherwise be a jerk.

    1. BookishMiss*

      Yesss. My name is short. 3 whole letters. Anyone who creates a nickname for me is only making more work for themselves, but they still get super defensive when I call them on it. Think actual preferred name of Meg and people keep calling you Meggie, or picking a totally unrelated name like Ashley and asserting that it’s actually a very well known nickname for Meg.

      Those people never end up respecting my boundaries and competence/expertise, so unless you’re family, no, you don’t get to use a nickname. That goes quadruple for random customers at my retail job who stare at my ‘nametag’ for a while, then give me a nickname anyway.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        And then there are the ones who insist that they “give a nickname to everyone.” To which I wonder why their desire to give a nickname trumps my desire to be called what I want to be called. And think that they have clearly failed to learn that it’s only fun if everyone is having fun.

        But as I said above, as age seems to have largely solved this for me, I really think that it is more about the person who persists in doing this expressing their lack of respect for/desire to exert power over the person on the receiving end. I wonder what would happen if, when someone tried it, I looked them straight in the eyes and said something to the effect of, “Thank you for telling me up front that you are someone who will respect neither me nor my boundaries.” (Of course I would NOT recommend that in a work situation – and I’d probably never actually do it, even in a social situation – but it’s kind of fun to think about!)

        1. BookishMiss*

          Ooooh that’s so tempting for the retail customers…

          I somehow have been gifted with a professional variant of my ‘wtf did you just say to me’ face, and that works well. If I have to go beyond that, I either ignore them entirely or pick a nickname for them too. Oh, your name is John? Nice to meet you Jimmy.

  34. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Troll has been removed and banned. Please don’t respond to trolls — it encourages them to continue. The best thing to do is to flag the comment for me (which you can do by including a link in your response, which will send your comment to moderation, meaning I’ll definitely see it) and I’ll remove it.

    1. GeorgiaB*

      Thanks Alison – I said something on Twitter because I wasn’t sure how to flag it here. I’ll remember that next time!

    2. Myrin*

      It honestly only occurred to me that this person might be a troll after they’d posted more than five obnoxious comments and I’d already called them out and decided to not engage further – I think I took your recent more drastic approach of “please don’t call people troll heres” a little too much to heart!

      That being said, I hadn’t even thought of putting a link in a comment to you so you’ll see it, that’s absolute genius! Thanks for all the hard work you put into the moderating business!

      1. Paul*

        eyah the first one or two were like…OK, the misspelling BS is annoying but they were *just* this side of obviosu. ugh.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Thank you, Alison, for removing and banning – and I will remember the link trick for flagging it next time.

  35. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    OP #1, I am very sorry you are dealing with all of these family issues. I hope your new manager also will feel this same sympathy. As a former manager, this is the key point: you should be honest about your reasons why you cannot travel. While it may be better for your employer financially for you not to travel, that is not the underlying reason why you have this restriction. If you are always trying to justify the lack of travel due to cost, you will eventually hit a situation where your manager does not agree. Better to be up-front right now, as this will allow your manager to plan accordingly (e.g., send someone in your place, look at virtual meetings, etc.).

    Yes, there is a risk that this could cause you to lose your job, but if you discuss this situation when there is no immediate travel planned, there will be far less stress and more time for you and your manager to come up with a solution where you can stay. If you reveal your family situation when there is impending travel, you risk creating a crisis, and many of my fellow managers do not react well to a crisis.

    Good luck. I hope your management is empathetic to your situation.

  36. Sara without an H*

    OP#4: Go ahead and say something, but keep it low-key. “Actually, I go by Alexandra — can you fix it on the org chart? Thanks.”

    And as you can probably guess by my handle, I have had lots of practice with this issue…

  37. anonanon*

    #4 – the org chart is actually a gift that you can correct this early. I actually do go by a nickname, but for HR reasons, I am listed in our directory as my full name. Even though my email, email sig, business cards, etc., all have my preferred name and my boss has asked me multiple times what I go by, he still sometimes calls me a different nickname associated with my full name. One I have never gone by in my whole life.

  38. Shadow*

    #3. Missing out on a borderline candidate who almost immediately asks about salary without even knowing if he’s a good match for the job is not a big loss. Fwiw you did good by asking him what he was looking for and giving him some idea of what salary to expect. Your thought process about salary is how an offer should be calculated was right on even though that’s not what may occur.

  39. Amber Rose*

    OP #4: Just say “oh, it’s actually Alexandra” when it comes up in conversation, people will apologize, the conversation will move on. This is usually a drama-free kind of thing. And definitely request to change the Org chart. You have the right to be called by your own name.

    Silly anecdote: A long time ago, I had a coworker named Robert who insisted he NEVER be called Bob. Turns out his last name was Barker. Poor kid. Probably got a lot of crap in school.

    1. Barney Stinson*

      You wrote: “Just say “oh, it’s actually Alexandra” when it comes up in conversation, people will apologize, the conversation will move on. This is usually a drama-free kind of thing.”

      Good advice. I do that.

      What I don’t know how to handle is when I do the above and they STILL use the wrong nickname? 99% of the time, they go back to using the long name I introduce myself with and use professionally. It’s that 1% who heard the story and continue to use the nickname I loathe.

      1. BookishMiss*

        For them, I just start mispronouncing their name. I had a co-worker do that recently, and (fake name) started calling her MaddieLynn instead of Madelyn. Worked like a charm. Alternatively, I just don’t respond to Not My Name.

  40. HR Gen KC*

    OP #5 – If your current boss is “chomping at the bit” to sing your praises, have her write you a letter of recommendation that your can deliver to the hiring company at time of interview. That way your boss will be somewhat appeased by saying her piece and you won’t be targeted by potential employers as having a helicopter boss. Your boss can even share her contact info in the reference letter in case that potential employer wants to ask more questions about your work ethics and skills. Good luck with finding a new job in a new city and how awesome it is to have a boss that cares so much for your future well-being!

  41. Old Cynic*

    3 things on #4.

    My brother in law is Robert. He’s ok with it being shortened to Rob but absolutely hates it when people call him Bob. He is so not a Bob I can’t fathom how anyone can make that leap.

    One job I accepted my business cards came in with a shortened version of my first name (which I never use.) I objected and they objected to reprinting correctly because of the cost. Really? It’s <1% of the salary.

    I like Filipino nicknames that have almost nothing to do with given names. Tengo, Bebing, Boyot.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Business cards are pretty darn cheap, that was definitely uncool of them especially since it was their mistake!

  42. Snark*

    OP2: Do clear the air. Honestly, I think it would have been appropriate and fine to say at the start of the meeting, “Sorry, folks, I just got some really bad news and I’m holding it together, but this might be a rocky meeting for me.” But I do think that now, after the fact, you should let Max know what was going on, because getting really emotional at work feedback isn’t the greatest look, and it’d be good to dispel that.

  43. Part-time lurker*

    OP1: This is a little off-topic, but your letter reminded me that some family health care givers can qualify for free or low-cost temporary relief (from a few hours to a few days) through their local department of social services. I know some people who used this, and it was 24-hour, in-home care. The limit was a few days within a set period (I think 2 or 3 months but I forget) and could be used repeatedly. It’s called respite care. A state social worker might be tell you if your situation qualifies for other programs too.

    I’m not suggested you use respite care to cover essential work-related travel. I just think it would be good for you and your mom to get a break outside of work.

    1. nonymous*

      > I’m not suggested you use respite care to cover essential work-related travel. I just think it would be good for you and your mom to get a break outside of work.

      Actually, I’d suggest that OP1 consider using respite care to facilitate meeting her job’s travel requirements (obviously she should work with her boss to reduce requirements to minimum levels). OP’s work is what pays for all the other things that let her be a caretaker so it’s a legitimate use.

      On the topic of Social Services, OP should look into whether the family’s adopted or disability status entitles them to state medical services. It really varies from state to state, but there may be options for long term in home care to supplement the efforts of OP and her mom. Getting a helper in for a few hours a week really takes a huge burden off family caretakers. When my family went through the process we got someone who was licensed for “household help”, which meant she did stuff like laundry, grocery shopping, tidying up, fetching stuff. It was great because when my mom and I came home from work we could just focus on being with our loved one (instead of being frazzled with chores).

  44. Not Today Satan*

    Does anyone else’s workplace have a lack-of-eye-contact plague? It’s only a handful of people, but there are certain people who when I walk up to their desks to talk to them, they just keep looking at their screen. And none of them are people I talk with a lot/I only go up to them for work purposes (and also I’m a manager/outrank them) so I promise it’s not a situation where they’re like “ugh, chatty Cathy at it again.”

  45. Avid reader infrequent commenter*

    I can’t get worked up about name missteps. I’d be annoyed all day. My Mom & I both work at headquarters for the same company (500 here, 12000 nationwide, we interact with all of them). Our names are incredibly similar, but she’s been here 5 years longer than I have, so I get emails intended for her, and I am addressed by her name ALL the time. The first three letters are the same. So, along the lines of McKenzie and McKall. I save the day and send someone something they really, really needed… only to get a thank you addressed to her. We just laugh it off, what else can you do? Oh, and on TOP of that — we have a ridiculously difficult German last name. I take great joy in hearing someone try to pronounce it for the first time, and honestly, it impresses me when people do spell it right. :)

  46. What's In a Name?*

    Oh the name thing…I actually legally changed my first name because a) I hated it and b) it was such a hassle because it was highly uncommon and no one would ever say or spell it right. It was Taryl. It’s pronounced like “Carol” if you replace the C with a T. Ugh. It always got butchered, even after multiple corrections. My mother was kind enough to nickname me Tari (think “Terry”), but with that spelling it got butchered too.

    Ironically, the name I changed it to is also a bit unusual and with an uncommon spelling, but I like it so much that I just deal with it.

  47. Bookworm*

    I am sympathetic, #4. I have a multi-syllable name that is fairly common where I am and it annoys me that many shorten it. I do think some people are just a bit lazy and there are others where I think they couldn’t remember my actual name. Hope it’s corrected soon and without a fuss.

  48. Barney Stinson*

    I will never, ever, ever understand why so many people think it’s okay to assign me a nickname. I introduce myself as Frederica, I sign everything as Frederica, I never, ever, ever use ‘Freddy.’

    So stop calling me that.

    And when you do call me that, and I give in and tell you my super-secret nickname that is suitable for work and what I would infinitely prefer to ‘Freddy,’ either use the right nickname or go back to Frederica.

    Rudest thing ever.

  49. I_am_RADAR*

    My preferred nickname is Sandi, with an “i” so of course just about everyone misspells it as “Sandy” but on top of that somehow it’s a chronic problem when I answer the telephone at work and say “This is Sandi,” for people to respond with, “Oh hi, Mandy,” “Candy,” “Randy,” and etc. My given name is Sandra, which I’m fine going by, but only as long as someone doesn’t mispronounce it as “Sondra.” Ewww!

  50. only acting normal*

    Oh the mispronounced misapplied name thing. One of my big bugbears, in both directions: both people who won’t be corrected, and people who over-correct needlessly.

    I had a colleague with a surname like Rosenfield, but our boss both mispronounced and misspelled it as Rosenfeld for *years*, and it went on the org-chart wrong, and got corrected, and got uncorrected again, and so on.

    A friend’s little boy once stumbled on my given name and said the variant that only my late grandfather called me, I was actually very happy to be called that again, unfortunately they corrected him!
    Also my name is not originally an English name, and though I go by the anglicised pronunciation, I actually like the “foreign” (i.e. more original) pronunciation, so would never correct that from a non-English speaker, but people have done that on my behalf too.

  51. Cari*

    My name is Carianne. Not Carrie Anne or any of the other more common spellings. I’m indifferent to Cari/Car/Carianne but I am not Carrie, or Karen! What’s amusing lately is that a recent iOS update turns Carianne into Marianne. If I see folks are writing from a phone, they get a pass. We’ve all been there. But it grates when people are responding to an email not from mobile and I ‘ll get Dear Marianne…

  52. NewManager*

    #4 I’m a new manager of a new hire who is the third “Emily” in our small department. One of the oldtimers who should have known better immediately chirped to her, “We’ll have to give you a nickname to keep all these Emilys straight!” And she was galloping merrily right past “Em” and “Lee” to “What’s your middle name?” and beyond, but fortunately as the manager of the new hire, I could and did say, “It is not on her that she is the newest Emily. Just refer to her as Emily Last Name Initial when needed.”

    I’ve had to reinforce this once since, but damn, either do the perceived extra work of clearly referring to someone or wait until they offer up an alternate if they choose to.

  53. Jacque*

    My given name is Jacqueline and my parents chose to spell my shortened name Jacque (still pronounced Jackie). You wouldn’t believe how many people think it’s “crazy” to spell the shortened version that way and it’s just too confusing. It’s only crazy and confusing because it’s new to them. I have to correct people all the time, but it’s really no problem at all. And it is actually kind of fun when people think I’m a man (they’re thinking the French name Jacques) and I show up. You really can’t judge people by their names.

  54. P.*

    #5: I include a copy of written testimonials such as LinkedIn recommendations in the same PDF as my reference contact info (2nd page) so that I can be the “salesey” one with early-in-the-process kind words from people who don’t know the hiring manager. (I figure I get to “sell” myself all I want — I’m the applicant.)

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