can I ask a new hire to use a nickname, manager asks for money for food and gas, and more

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

1. Can I ask a new hire to use a nickname since we share the same first name?

We’re in the process of interviewing and we’ve found a great candidate that we might be ready to move forward with. A big snag though is that she has the same first name as me. We work in a small office with less than 10 people, but we utilize over 300 volunteers, most of whom are 60+. Because of my position, I don’t have day-to-day interaction with most of the volunteers, but it’s important that they know that I’m the one in charge. We’ll also both be out in the community doing outreach events and again, it’s important for the community to know the difference. Is it out bounds to I ask her to go by a nickname? (For example, if we’re both named Amanda, could I ask her to go by Mandy?)

It is indeed out of bounds! Names are really personal, and you can’t ask someone to change what they go by. But you can certainly suggest that she go by Amanda S. or whatever her last initial is — just as you’d have to do if the name didn’t lend itself as easily to a nickname, like Karen or Lila. And when you suggest that, it’s possible that she’ll volunteer that she sometimes goes by Mandy and would be happy to do it at work, but you’ve got to let that come from her.

Or, of course, you can be the one to use a nickname, if you want the first names to be different — but I think you’ll find that people figure it out and make do. (Ask all the Sarahs and Matts out there.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Manager keeps asking team members for money for food and gas

I am the supervisor of the payroll department of a medium-sized organization. The department consists of an assistant supervisor (Arya), 3 payroll clerks (Robb, Bran, and Rickon), and an administrator assistant (Sansa). It has come to my attention Arya keeps asking Robb, Bran, Rickon, and Sansa for money. It is nearly a daily occurrence. She tells them she cannot afford food, or petrol to get to work or winter clothing when the weather is cold, and she needs their help.

I feel this is unacceptable. We live in one the lowest cost of living area in the country. Arya makes double the average salary of the area and one and a half times what Robb, Bran, Rickon, and Sansa are paid. Her husband is a member of a trade union and his salary is publicly available. He earns even more than Arya does. They take extravagant vacations abroad and they have a cottage in the country that Arya always mentions in addition to their regular home. Arya dresses well and owns a newer model vehicle. It does not appear she needs money. Even if she did, it is not right of her to pressure people she supervises. Given that money is involved, it is a touchy subject. In the past I have lived on a shoestring budget and I know what it is like to be skint. How do I address this with Arya to make it clear her behavior is unacceptable while being sensitive enough that if she is having money trouble it won’t offend/upset her?

Oh my goodness, yes, you must tell her directly to cut it out. It wouldn’t be okay for her to be pressuring coworkers for money regardless, but it’s especially not okay because she manages them. And while diplomacy and tact are lovely things, in this case it’s more important to be very clear than it is to not upset her, given how inappropriate it is for her to do this to people she supervises.

You could open by saying something like this: “I’ve been told that you’ve been asking Robb, Bran, Rickon, and Sansa for money. Is everything okay?”

Depending on her response, you could offer to connect her with resources to help with food or other support. But then say this: “I’m sympathetic if you’re going through a hard time and we can see if there are any other resources the company can connect you with, but I want to be clear that you absolutely can’t ask others in the department for money. That would put any colleague in an awkward position, but it’s especially inappropriate because you manage them and they may feel some pressure to agree. This is not something you can ask them again.”

3. Should I continue with this interview process?

I am currently employed but have been passively/actively job searching for a variety of reasons. In the past month, I have completed two phone screening interviews with one company.

The first phone screen went decently well, and I was progressed to the second phone screen. Events beyond my control occurred with the second phone screen. The cell phone network on that day experienced severe system wide outages, the phone connection was extremely problematic, and in the end the phone screen had to be rescheduled to the next day. On top of that, I was suffering from a severe cold/virus, was working from home (to avoid infecting my coworkers), and had pretty much lost my voice at that point. I felt that I did not present myself very well in the second phone screen. The feedback the company HR and the recruiter gave me was that I needed to work on providing concise answers to their interview questions. I was informed at that point that the company felt that I was qualified and could perform the job duties but the company would continue to interview other candidates.

Approximately 1.5 weeks have passed, and the company HR rep emailed me last Friday indicating that they want to fly me out to their location for the next interview. I am ambivalent about wanting to continue the interview process because I am aware that I am not the “top choice” candidate for this position and I have been selected by default — i.e. no other qualified or suitable candidates at this point. I do find the duties being required for this position personally interesting (this is work that I like to do and am interested in doing) but there are other factors in this situation to consider also (salary, other risks related to the position and company, etc.).

What do you think? Should I continue onwards with the interview process or at this point “gracefully” bow out of the process? My gut feel is that my probability in receiving a job offer from this company is fairly good if I continue the interview process but I do not want to waste their time and money if I ultimately do not intend to take this position. This position is a lateral move for me compared to my current job career-wise and it does sting a little that I am not a “top choice” candidate. I am aware that overcoming (slightly) negative impressions whether in an interview or ultimately as an employee is an uphill climb/battle and am not sure whether continuing the effort is worth it.

If you’re interested in the job, go to the interview! People get hired as second choice candidates all the time! (And third choice and so on.) The fact that they didn’t think you were 100% perfectly matched with the job is no more of a problem than you not being 100% sure about a job yourself (and really, no one should ever be 100% sure on either side until more exploration is done anyway). It’s not an insult or a sign they’d only hire you under duress.

If they truly had negative impressions, it’s unlikely they’d be continuing (although you can watch for signs of that, like if they seem highly skeptical when talking to you). It’s more likely that they just weren’t fully sold, and that’s a very normal part of a hiring process and doesn’t mean they won’t be happy to hire you in the end. Hell, companies outright reject plenty of people who they’d be happy to hire, simply because other candidates in the mix at that time happen to be better (but in the same hiring process three months later, with different candidates in the mix, one of those rejected candidates could have been hired).

Also, in your specific situation, they might have just realized, “You know, it wasn’t the greatest interview but she was sick and the phone connection sucked. She does look qualified so let’s move forward and get more info.”

4. Should I offer to take less money in exchange for working remotely?

I am job hunting and would like a more flexible schedule at my next position, meaning the opportunity to telecommute a few days a week. I currently make about $150k a year (mid-level but independent contributor and non-supervisor) but am willing to consider a lower salary if I can have a more flexible schedule. Do I say this up front during the interviews or should I even have to? Meaning, should it be expected that i comprise my salary if i am asking for these additional benefits or should i have to have have to sacrifice salary if I want a flexible schedule as well?

Nope, don’t offer to take less money. You’re not offering to contribute at a lower level, after all, and you definitely don’t want them to think that’s what you’ll be doing. It’s possible that during negotiations, you’ll need to compromise on money to get this instead, but don’t start off by offering it because most companies that will approve remote work don’t expect to pay you less in exchange for it.

5. My office is throwing me a bridal shower but I’m leaving soon

I’m getting married in a few weeks and I’m also in the middle of a job search. I don’t particularly love my company or my current role, but there are several great people in this office who I have excellent working relationships with. The office is throwing a small bridal shower for me where I’ll undoubtedly get gifts from some people (based on office bridal/baby showers I’ve been to here in the past) and I’m already feeling bad about receiving gifts and well wishes from everyone then leaving a month or two later. Should I be worried about this? My plan now of course will be to write thank you notes like I would any other gift giving situation. Just not sure if I should be more apologetic about leaving based on this?

Nah, you’re fine. These are people who presumably like you and genuinely wish you well, and are happy to have the opportunity to celebrate a milestone in your life. (Assuming that participating is voluntary, and all the usual caveats here office celebrations.)

It’s very unlikely that anyone will think, “I never would have chipped in for that blender if I’d known she was going to be leaving” — and if they do, they’d be the one being unreasonable, not you. Allowing a bridal shower does not obligate you to stay at your job any longer than you otherwise would.

{ 808 comments… read them below }

  1. NOT Jenny*

    I was the third “Jennifer” in my department (changed name). One person got to be Jennifer and another went by her initials. They decided to call me Jenny. I despise that name but it was my first career job, and I was desperate to please so I agreed. As soon as the other two quit (a few years later), I did what I could to reclaim my name but there are still people in the professional world who know me as Jenny.

    You may think you’re only asking and it’s okay if she says no, but she may feel unintended pressure as an employee to agree to this. Let her be her.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Seriously on the last paragraph. Even folks who are ok with nicknames will introduce themselves by their nicknames or otherwise allow them to propagate. But this would be a sufficiently pressuring/harmful/offensive request to enough people that OP#1 should refrain from asking her report to change her name (because that’s functionally what it is—changing her name for OP’s convenience). Names can be a really big deal, and they’re often pretty personal.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This. And especially coupled with the remark about knowing who’s in charge, LW, it will likely come across as a power play, even if you consciously don’t mean it as such.

        1. Aveline*

          One thing about leadership a lot of people don’t get: the leader should be the first one to change or sacrifice if that is what is required.

          OP1: if anyone here should change to make things clear, it should be you.

          Ask a subordinate to sacrifice and people will know and not respect you for it. Be willing to change yourself and your employees will see you as someone who has their backs.

            1. Aveline*

              A few weeks ago, a shackled man (civil case, had been transported) physically attacked an attorney in open court. An attorney known to get under this judge’s skin. Before the bailff at the back of the courtroom could get there and before any of us attorneys could respond, the judge was over the bench and had the man on the floor.

              Not his job. He could have sat back. Could have stayed safe. He didn’t,

              Every attorney in the county has heard of this. The young Judge is now 10000% respected by the local bar. He was shown deference because if his status before. Now, it’s respect.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Perhaps I am more than usually dense this morning, but I don’t understand what this anecdote has to do with the topic of the thread?

                1. AnonEMoose*

                  I took it as an illustration of the concept of a leader being willing to sacrifice or put himself on the line – even for someone he didn’t necessarily personally like, because he clearly saw it as his responsibility.

                  If anyone needs to make a sacrifice in the situation with the names, the boss should be the first person to do so – not the one trying to force someone else to, because she wants to assert her authority.

                2. Kate 2*

                  Respect is earned. Someone may be polite and pay lip service to your position, but to truly be a leader, to be respected, you have to show that you deserve it.

        2. Drop Bear*

          I agree. I also think that there is an element of ageism in the LW’s attitude to the issue – seems to me that she mentioned the ages of the volunteers because she assumes that people over 60 are going to be more confused by the same name ‘snag’ than younger people might be, and therefore believes the fact that the organisation’s volunteers are older further justifies her proposed name change request.

          1. Lynca*

            Which is just ridiculous. Most people have had to juggle knowing more than one Mike, John, Jane, etc.

              1. Jadelyn*

                We have like…5 Joses and at least that many Marias. Amazingly, we manage to keep track of who’s who anyway.

                1. Anne (with an “e”)*

                  I am a teacher. At my school I swear every girl is named Megan, Chloe, or Peyton. Also, a few of the boys are named Peyton. We sometimes use last initials. However, you’d be surprised how very easy it is to keep everyone straight.

                  Also, I remember in high school having to choose a Spanish name for Spanish class and a French name for French class. I never liked this. I thought it was sillly. Besides, I wanted to be me, even in a FL class. Then, when I actually visited these countries, I was “Anne.” No one had any problem with my actual name. It made me resent my high school teachers a little.

          2. Observer*

            As @Lynca says, that’s utterly ridiculous. But, I think you are right – It sounded like that to me as well.

            LW, please don’t treat people like idiots. Even “old people”. And don’t get hung up on showing everyone “who’s in charge.” If YOU are doing your job correctly, most people will know who is in charge without this kind of nonsense.

            1. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

              Yes! If you have to loudly claim that you’re the boss or you’re in charge, you’re not doing your job very well. I should be able to tell who is in charge based on watching people, not listening for the person yelling the loudest that they’re in charge.

          3. Work Wardrobe*

            I’m over 60. I know the [correct] names of everyone in my department JUST FINE.

          4. "Amanda"*

            Hello, OP here! I just really wanted to respond to the ageism comment. The field that I specialize in is dealing with seniors- it’s part of my job to advocate and fight for senior’s who can’t fight for themselves. I self-edited my initial inquiry to keep it as short as possible because it says to in the request form. It’s not that I think that they’re going to be confused, it’s that they’re volunteers, and because they’re older the level of “effs” they give has gone down considerably. Many volunteer managers have a saying that managing volunteers is like herding cats or holding water in your hands, you can only do so much. So initially I’m sure they’ll be fine using Amanda S. and Amanda C., but they’ll get tired of it soon and drop it off. So not really ageism, just knowing my audience.

            1. Workerbee*

              So most of the volunteers are seniors helping with this senior outreach?

              I’ve been turning this around in my head, and I think you’d be doing a great service by instituting the Amanda S. and Amanda C. naming convention as you say–and then reinforcing it by word, picture (Here’s Amanda C at our great community event!), etc.

              I realize there is only so much energy to go around, and there’s something to be said about reaching a point where the effs left to give are scarce–it’s remarkably freeing, and I’m not near “senior”–but respect is respect.

            2. Kathleen_A*

              I have to work with volunteers a lot as well (including plenty that are well over 60), and I am nonetheless pretty confident that you are anticipating a problem that won’t, in fact, be much of a problem. They will figure out that one Amanda is the supervisor and the other is not, and they will figure out a way to indicate which Amanda they are talking to/referring to. They *will*. And the reason is, that they will need each separate Amanda for separate things.

              And I do think there’s a touch of ageism there. I’m sure you don’t intend it to be, but as someone who’s been working with volunteers in this age group for a long time, I just can’t imagine where you get they idea that they are short of “effs,” so to speak.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I’m not sure this rationalization actually addresses the ageism concerns, but more importantly, I don’t think your explanation justifies your request that your new hire change her name. I have never had volunteers—of any age—give so few effs that they purposefully forget or ignore which Amanda (or Jennifer, or Sarah or John) is which. If they want to drop the last initial, isn’t that fine as long as they’re aware of the different roles you both play?

              I’m still struggling to understand why it’s a problem if volunteers refer to you both as Amanda (no last initial). Is it impossible that they’ll know which Amanda is in charge, even though there’s two of you?

              1. "Amanda"*

                I’m sorry, I’m really not explaining myself well. It’s not that I think they won’t be able to tell the difference between us, it’s just that I think they’ll get tired of using the differentiators. So initially they will make the effort when talking about us, and then eventually I think they’ll just stop. Which you’re all probably right… it’s not that big of a deal and will probably work itself out on its own.

                1. Kathleen_A*

                  They will learn not only how to differentiate, but when differentiation is necessary. And when it’s not necessary, it won’t matter whether they use the differentiator (not sure that’s a word!) or not.

                  Honestly, unless you both have long or complicated last names, I’d suggest starting with those rather than initials, but initials would be OK, too. I used to work in a five-person department that consisted of a Kathleen, a Kris and three Karens – and most of our business was done over the phone, an additional layer of complication, BTW. We figured it out, and the people who called in did, too. People really are totally used to this sort of thing. It’s just…you know…life!

                2. bonkerballs*

                  But are the differentiations really all that important to be used every single time someone says Amanda? I work in a small office (there are about 10 of us) with two Davids. Neither of them go by David A or David B or any kind of David nickname. We currently serve close to 1000 active participants in our program and it’s literally never been a problem. Depending on who you’re talking to or what you’re talking about, people are usually perfectly able to tell which David is being referred to, and they few times it’s been unclear it’s pretty easy to just ask. And as someone with a very common name, I think you’re thinking this is way more of an issue than it really is.

                3. AKchic*

                  They will “remember” which identifier when it suits them, because they’ll know which Amanda is actually helping them with whatever it is that benefits them at that moment in time.
                  Trust me. I have dealt with seniors too, and I deal with a few very manipulative ones in my personal life (who like to play this game where she makes people think she’s losing her cognitive functions as a part of her feigned helplessness, but she remembers everything and spins it for gossip and drama amongst her kids). Some seniors taking aging in different ways. Some get downright vindictive (some were always that way and it really comes out because they figure their old age gives them a pass).

                4. Jen S. 2.0*

                  Joining the chorus. It absolutely will work itself out on its own! It always does. It’s not like this is a unique or exotic problem.

                  Is this honestly the first time you’ve ever been in a situation with more than one person of the same name? Did everyone in your high school class have a separate name?

                  I am seldom the only Jennifer anywhere I go. There were only 60 people in my high school class, and we had 5 Maggies, 2 Patricias, 2 Rebeccas. There were 6 Amandas in the class ahead of me. I feel for the Ashleys and Emmas and Madisons and Taylors in high school now. Matthews and Andrews and Davids do this every day.

                  People manage. People will very quickly learn to specify, “No, blond Amanda,” or, “Amanda in the green shirt.” The other Amanda also will quickly learn to say, “You need Amanda Smith for that, let me grab her.” Someone might be confused for a moment occasionally, but it’s not the end of the world.

                  But no, you don’t get to ask her to rename herself.

                5. Noah*

                  I guess I just don’t really get why you care if they call the other Amanda just “Amanda” without the initial when you’re not involved. Don’t they only need to use the initial when it’s not already clear who they are talking to/about?

                  I think that’s what’s making people think this perspective isn’t totally reasonable.

            4. Matilda Jefferies*

              Thanks for the context. I agree that knowing your audience is helpful! But even so, if the volunteers don’t have enough effs to figure out the difference between Amanda S and Amanda C, that’s on them to sort out, not you. Nobody should be changing their name to accommodate people who can’t be bothered to learn it.

            5. EditorInChief*

              That’s a pretty ageist statement that your older volunteers don’t give enough effs. They give enough effs to want to volunteer for your advocacy group. If there are issues with motivation or organization maybe you need to look to yourself with how you’re managing your volunteers.

              1. "Amanda"*

                Again, I apologize for not being clear. It’s not that I think they don’t give an “eff” for our organization and what they do for it… it’s that most of them have reached a point in their lives where they realize the small things don’t matter. Which the longer I have these conversations with people I realize that I am worried about a small thing and that it will probably not be a big deal.

                1. Triple Anon*

                  I get where you’re coming from. And I know it can be hard to explain things online. There’s always more relevant information than you can include in a short post.

                  Could you start by having an open ended conversation with them? Ask, “Do you think this will have an impact on anything and what would be a good solution?” That way, they can either suggest going by a nickname or maybe they’ll have ideas you hadn’t thought of already.

                2. Observer*

                  So? Why would that have any impact here? Who cares if they don’t use a differentiator every.single.time? As long as they know who you are talking about, and you know who they are talking about, that’s all that matters. And there is really zero reason to believe that they are going to have a hard time with that part of it.

                  Keep something in mind. If you have a large enough population you are going to have a number of folks who have multiple grandchildren / great grandchildren with the same first name, and frequently ALSO with the same last name as well. To illustrate – My mother has at least 7 grand / great grandchildren named after my father. And because a couple of those are children of male siblings, there are at least three of those with the same last name – JimBob Smith. You think she has a problem figuring this out? It’s just part of life.

                3. TootsNYC*

                  the “small thing that doesn’t matter” is “if I accidentally get the wrong Amanda.”

                  That’s SO easily fixed. It doesn’t matter.

                4. Can’t remember my name*

                  I am a woman in my sixties that gives a lot of “Effs” about the same stuff I gave “effs” about in my 30s, 40s and 50s. I really resent the way you refer to the seniors you work with. I will cut my rant short and just say that if you are lucky, one day you will be a senior citizen and you too will resent being condescended to.

              2. Delphine*

                Maybe this is a case where OP knows the temperament of her particular group of older volunteers better than we do.

            6. AnonEMoose*

              Let me put it this way, OP. Which would you rather do?

              1 – Maybe spend some extra time sorting out confusion that will most likely sort itself out before too long as people get used to the situation (and they will).

              2 – Try to solve a possible problem by very possibly deeply offending a new hire from the very beginning. Taking the position that “well, I’m the boss, so I get to keep my name and you have to change yours” is not a good look.

              Instead, how about, if she is extended an offer and accepts it, asking her something like this: “I’m concerned that having two Amandas in the office might get confusing for people. Do you have any ideas on how to make this easier?”

              She might say she goes by Mandy anyway (or by some other nickname). She might be ok with being mostly known by her initials, or something else.

              But either way, you’d be collaborating, not trying to dictate, and that’s likely to be much more productive and start your working relationship off on a much better footing. I’ll admit that I have something of a “button” on this issue, due to prior experiences. But clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way, and you don’t know how she feels about it.

              1. "Amanda"*

                Thank you for this. I think this is a good idea, and I’ve mostly realized I’m concerned about nothing.

                1. Em*

                  Absolutely. They are seniors — they have life experience, and that includes knowing more than one person with the same name. It’s not a shocking situation.

                  “Please give this to Amanda.”
                  “Which Amanda?”
                  “Old Amanda”/”New Amanda”
                  Problem solved.

            7. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

              In addition to what other people have said: It’s really hard to find good volunteers and get them to stay. Asking her to change her name could easily lead to driving her off.

            8. L*

              Op if you’re worried about it in context of email addresses – set up a generic one volunteer@ and have her give the generic one out in large group events. Have her email address amandas and volunteer printed on her business cards.

              People know who’s in charge. If they don’t, she’ll redirect them.

            9. Observer*

              It’s hard to believe that you actually know your audience, though. Unless your population is fairly unique – and I mean unique from a senior citizen perspective – then the idea that your volunteers are not going to be able to handle 2 people with the same name because they don’t give a hoot is just silly. One of the primary populations my org deals with are seniors, nothing could be further from the reality we see.

              The bottom line is that this is just NOT something unusual that they need to “adapt to”. This is SO normal, that they are not likely to even think about it, unless your population is “seniors with cognitive issues” rather than “seniors”.

              I can tell you from experience that even advocates for a population can be “*ist” about that population. It’s actually a very big issue that’s rarely discussed. There are some areas where the problem gets discussed, but I’ve yet to see this discussed in reference to the aging / aged population. And it’s a real problem because ageism is rampant. It’s often actually very well intentioned, but it’s still a problem for a number of reasons. If nothing else, the practical impact of underestimating your population can be significant.

            10. TootsNYC*

              There’s also the “Director Amanda” and “Scheduling Amanda” idea, though I don’t know why you think that “Hi, this is Amanda Jones, the scheduling person” wouldn’t be clear that it’s not “Hi, This is Amanda Williams, the director.”

              Surely the statement of their function will make the point.

              And if there is any confusion–well, you’ll all just have to clear it up. Nobody’s going to die.

            11. Jennifer Thneed*

              My mom once worked for someone with the same name as her. During the interview/onboarding process, her boss asked if she wanted to use something alternate. (Notice boss handling it wrong.) Mom declined and everything was fine while she was there.

              I once worked with someone with my same name and same last initial. Since I was there first, even though she would be my superior, she offered to go by one of our many nicknames. (Notice boss handling it right.) I told her that she was very generous, but that I would actually answer to ALL the nicknames (along with things like the start of “Generally” and “Jeff”) whether I liked it or not, so we should just both go by our preferred names, and we both preferred the full version. (We used to make a point of going to meetings with other departments and sitting next to each other. Because we both thought it was hilarious. That’s a co-worker I miss.)

          5. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            Which makes less sense to me because IME, 60+ seems more likely to have more “shared” names, compared to the trend of making sure your kid is the only “(whatever name)” around.

            I work, volunteer and am friends with a bunch of people in that age range, and there’s always multiple Dons, Barbs, Jans, Ricks, Pats, Deb(bie)s, Franks, etc.

            1. Observer*

              This is true. Also, there are many communities in which either certain names are extremely common, which means that any member of the community is going to have multiple instances of multiple people in their circle with the same name or where there are large extended family in which each nuclear family unit has a kid with a particular name, which means that most people in that community will have at least one instance of multiple people with the same name.

            2. Ego Chamber*

              No matter how unique this (my) generation thinks they are with names, naming trends are still alive and well. See: my cousin, who named her daughter “Cadence” and then cousin’s sister named her own daughter “Cadence” 2 years later (because that’s not weird). Both Cadences have been in daycare and preschool with a minimum of 3 other Cadences consistently.

              This is normal and the vast majority of people handle it without issue. Even the people who share names eventually stop losing their shit over it (usually by the time they’re like 3 or 4, but occasionally it can take several decades).

          6. chomps84*

            Yeah, the ageism is so weird. My parents are in their early 60s and they are perfectly able to tell people apart. I think 60 is still a little early for cognitive functioning to decline (although, of course, it varies).

      2. BananaRama*

        Agree, OP would be out of bounds asking for the report to change their name/identity.

        My grandmother has a two part first name (Mary Kathryn) and for some reason everyone seems to think that one or the other is the “real” first name even though she also has a middle name. She was at the hospital preparing for a surgery and eventually ignored every nurse that refused to call her by her legal name. They would just keep saying “Mary” and even put on her paperwork “Mary.” Finally fed up she burst out loudly, “I’M NOT MARY! MY NAME IS MARY KATHRYN!” and finally everyone got the point. I think they even ended up changing her paperwork to make sure the names were correct. Which in my opinion they should have done when she first corrected them.

        1. Perpetua*

          There’s no doubt that the paperwork should have been done correctly right away, and that once someone says what they would like to be called people should do their best to respect it, but I don’t think it’s too far fetched for people to assume that the first name is the one used most often. I have the same situation, two first names, and I go mostly by the first part, but I don’t mind if new people start using both names or just the second one – why would they know automatically what I go by unless I tell them or if they ask (which many of them do)?

          I realize that your grandmother’s situation was different, because they didn’t change their behavior even she corrected them, but I just wanted to refer to the “for some reason everyone seems to think…” part and provide my own perspective.

        2. A.*

          Similar – so my name is the shorten version of a longer name. When I was closing on my house, the loan officer put the longer version on all of my paperwork. Even though my license, bank account and everything I submitted to him had the shorter version. I was like “that is not my name!” And I made the bank redo all of the paperwork because the last thing I needed was the deed to have the wrong name on it. Why do people think they know your name better than you do.

          1. Common80sName*

            Speaking as someone who works in banking and whose job specifically involves catching exactly this kind of mistake, they should have caught that before you had to. However — 99.9% of the time we have the opposite problem, i.e. people wanting to use their preferred name on legal contracts and not understanding why they can’t. I spend half my life explaining that one. “But I go by Bob, not Robert!” Tough. All of your identification documents have your legal name, so that is what is going on the contracts the bank has with you. If you don’t like your legal name that much, get it changed. I’ve actually had customers cross out their legal name on documents, write in their preferred name, and then get mad when told that now the documents must be reprinted and resigned. The bank does not care what your name is or is not. We only care about getting extremely important documents done correctly, for everyone’s sake.

          2. Rainy*

            I’ve run into that a lot in my past, and fairly often even now with minor functionaries who have a scintilla of power and really want to swing it around. The name I go by starts with the same initial as my legal name and is often used as a nickname for another very common name (let’s say my legal name is Rasputinilla–it’s almost that bad, tbh, my parents were terrible kid-namers–and Rainbow is a really common name but I go by Rainy), but if people aren’t paying attention when I introduce myself sometimes they think I’m saying my name is Lainey, and then they backform a “real name” to Elaine and then call me that loudly and correctively when ever I answer the phone with “Rainy here”. “Oh, ELAINE, how are you today?”

            It’s a method of asserting dominance and enforcing their ideas about outdated norms on you. I had a leasing company keep putting Rainbow on communications to me including stuff that was legally binding, and every time I corrected them the leasing agent for our complex just got madder and madder and madder at me. Had the same thing happen with my old credit union, which is why they are my FORMER credit union.

        3. Anna*

          I know someone with a double first name, too, and she is very explicit in saying what her name is. It’s not This or That, it’s This That. Just like my name is not Ann or Anne, it’s Anna with an “a” on the end. I do not like being called Ann and if I worked somewhere with another Anna and was told I need to go by Ann, I would absolutely refuse.

        4. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

          Yep. My grandma and her two sisters all had the “first” name of Mary: Mary Rose, Mary Margaret and Mary Therese. Woulda been weird to call all of them just Mary, heh.

        5. Totally Minnie*

          I’ve got four great aunts and a handful of cousins with compound first names, most of whom are some variation of Mary or John (hooray for large religious families from the South, I guess).

          At my job, we take a good bit of customer information from the person’s driver’s license, and there are certain names where I’ll always ask if that’s the case. “Is it Mary or Mary Margaret?”

      3. peachie*

        A friend of mine who is an educator has a rule to always ask “Are you sure you don’t have a preference?” when a kid says their name is “[name] or [nickname]” (or, probably more commonly, when he’s taking attendance on the first day and asks “Do you go by Benjamin or Ben?” and they say “either”). He told me that the kid almost always does prefer one over the other, but they got used to having to be okay with either so they didn’t express that.

        1. peachie*

          I do want to clarify that this could easily get pushy if asked repeatedly, but I think once is a good rule and I try to ask when I’m in that situation.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Or, “which one would you like me to use?”

          Because maybe it would be cool to have my teacher address me more formally as Michael, and my friends I joke around with can call me Mike.

          1. Friendly Hi*

            This one is great! My wonderful, awesome boss uses “which one would you like me to use” and I love it. One of my coworkers hounded me and hounded me until I finally admitted I had a preference, and then used it until he was irritated at me one day and switched back to my full given first name instead of the nickname I finally gave in and told him I preferred. One felt like a respect, the other felt like a bludgeon (but of course YMMV – this particular coworker also tries to bribe me with Starbucks and then gets mad when I say thanks but I don’t want anything).

    2. Only Jenny*

      I’m another Jennifer, only I prefer to go by Jenny. I hate being called Jennifer and I don’t reliably respond to Jen.

      It’s oddly hard to get people to respect it though, I’ve had multiple people refuse to call me Jenny because they think it’s childish, and I never know how to respond to that!

      1. The Foreign Octopus*

        Respond by calling them a different name every time you see them.

        I had a teacher once who hated using shortened names for whatever reason and there was a girl in my class, a Steph who hated Stephanie, and it was the most glorious thing my 13-year-old self had ever seen to witness that battle of wills. Every time she spoke to him, she used a different name.

        Mr Carter. Mr Phillips. Mr Dawson.

        He would correct her and give her detention but she didn’t give up until he started calling her Steph.

        I’d really like to know what she’s doing know. I imagine world domination.

        1. Mad Baggins*

          That reminds me of the black woman whose white coworker made some comment about how “those names” are hard to remember, and she called him a different generic white name every day: Hey Jared, Hey Chad, Hey Chris… What a great way to teach that lesson.

          1. Kim*

            If people can remember how to pronounce Tchaikovsky or Tolstoj, they can remember ”’ethnic”’ names.

            1. Mookie*

              Yep. If there’s a will, there is no true ‘selective’ ability there. Transliterated or quasi-transliterated names, in particular, are very easy to sound out* and remember and write down correctly from memory if your goal is to use them rather than shit on them.

              *if white people can figure out and master the written form and sound of cognates for Joan, or whatever, there is no good reason to pretend to be confused

              1. SophieK*

                My response has always been that if you can memorize every tiny detail about (Shaun Cassidy, Simon LeBon, Taylor Swift, The Kardashians) you can darn well learn how to spell and pronounce my name.

                I follow up with pointing out that this is a not caring problem, not a SophieKs real name is difficult problem.

            2. Foreign Octopus*

              I think Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black said her mother told her this as well when she wanted to Westernise her name so that people could pronounce it. People can learn. Some people just don’t want to make the effort, or feel like they shouldn’t have to.

              1. Ursula*

                The only exception I think would be when the sounds in the name do not exist in the language of the country you are in. For example some Chinese names cannot properly be pronounced by English speakers.

                Conversely I used to live in Japan and I have a common (European) name but there are syllables in my name that do not exist in the Japanese language and the closest transcription of my name into the written Japanese involves (from their point of view) putting a lot of different sounds together that do not go together (and actually produce something that doesn’t sound very like my name).

                However I agree, Uzo Aduba is not a difficult name to pronounce and most people who use this excuse are just lazy. I had a friend at school who was Indian and she had a very long name very unusual (in the UK) name. But it wasn’t that hard to pronounce. But most of the teachers (yes the adults) didn’t bother.

                1. Traffic_Spiral*

                  Yup. I was a kid in Japan and almost everyone had 2 names. You had mainly Western kids/adults picking versions of their names that were pronounceable in Japanese, but it went the other way around too. So in our school we had 2 Japanese-named kids called “Ai” and “Yu” (they went by Ai-kun and Yu-kun to avoid a Who’s On First issue) a ‘Grace’ called ‘Megumi’ (Japanese for Grace) a Virginia called ‘Nina’ (because there was a character in a book we liked called ‘Nina Virginia’ and you can say ‘Nina’ in Japanese) an ‘Allan’ called ‘Andy’ (Japanese-pronounceable) a ‘Fumi’ called ‘Celeste’ (just liked the name) and an ‘Iri’ called ‘Satoshi’ (both Japanese names, but he didn’t like Iri and hey, everyone else got a new name so he wanted one too). Thing is, most the expat-kids who came back to English still use the other name for ordering (Allan gets mixed up 10 ways easy by baristas, but Andy doesn’t). Personally I use ‘Bob’ when making reservations or ordering because my conventional name gets similarly misheard.

                  Not picking a language-compliant name in a new country was seen as sillier than refusing to learn the local language because learning a language was work and picking a new name was fun. So yeah, I guess the Thing Today is to stand by a locally unpronounceable name come hell or high water, but don’t knock having a locally-practical name.

                2. Nanani*


                  I lived in Japan for many years too.
                  There is a -big- difference between expats using a locally-convenient name and people having their names mangled, ignored, or changed against their will IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

                3. Cassie the First*

                  I’ve noticed that more and more of our Chinese-speaking students are opting not to adopt American/European names – they just go by how their Chinese name is spelled out using English letters (which may be quite different from how you would pronounce it in Chinese). Maybe it has to do with the fact that many of the students now are from China where there is less of a tradition of adopting an different name, compared to the students before who were from Hong Kong or Taiwan (some of these students would pick somewhat “rare” names like Edison or Rex; others would just go by their initials).

                  I had a coworker whose name was pronounced a specific way – think Anna from Frozen (On-Ah). She introduced herself as On-Ah, but everyone kept calling her An-Ah, and she ended up not even bothering to correct them. I always called her On-Ah, to the point where I almost call other Annas as On-Ah!

              2. A.*

                Yes my favorite is when people say my first name then follow up with “I’m not even going to try to pronounce your last name.” Especially if they are calling my name out over a group. It takes more effort to tell me you are not going to try to pronounce my name than to actually try to pronounce it.

                1. Workerbee*

                  Ohhhh I hate this.

                  I still unfortunately remember a woman over the phone who tried to pronounce my last name twice, right after I pronounced it for her, and failed to get it right both times. She then said, “Oh well, doesn’t matter, right?” with a laugh. Ugh.

                2. Demon Llama*

                  What the fahhhhh? That is SO RUDE! Why not, “I’m so sorry, could you tell me how to say your last name correctly please?” If you don’t want to get it wrong and you’re not sure, why not, you know, ask?

                  (I have OPINIONS about respecting names so… flames on my face right now)

                3. Jadelyn*

                  I do onboarding for our new hires, and I’ve run across names I had no idea how to pronounce. I usually do okay – studied linguistics in my first go-round of college, which helps with pronouncing sounds that are less common in the American English repertoire – but there have been a couple that stumped me.

                  But in those cases I don’t say I’m “not even going to try” – I ask them to pronounce it for me so that I can mimic that and go from there. Or I’ll give it my best guess and immediately say “Sorry, I’m kind of guessing on the pronunciation for your last name – did I get anywhere close?” And usually people will laugh and be happy to correct me. It’s really not that big a deal, as long as you’re working to make a good-faith effort people usually don’t get too upset about it.

                4. chomps84*

                  I get this sometimes with my last name, although the people I’m around are more polite and usually just say my first name and not acknowledge that they aren’t saying my last name, although I can usually tell when they’re doing that.

                  I honestly don’t care if they get it wrong or just not use it because it does look weird to English-speakers, but it’s been anglicized in the 120+ years since my family immigrated to the US and it’s actually not that difficult to pronounce it the anglicized way, so it annoys me when people make comments about how my last name is so. hard. to. pronounce.

                5. Log Lady*

                  Ugh, this is my biggest pet peeve. I have a 10-letter last name that starts with ‘Zw’ and the minute people see it they act like they’re incapable of even trying to sound it out! It’s so dismissive and rude.

            3. So long and thanks for all the fish*

              Seriously- I never understand this. I teach 3 sections of 25-student labs, and my supervisor requires that we learn students’ names. I tend to ONLY be able to remember the ethnic ones for the first few classes because they’re different, especially if I need help pronouncing it. The ones I tend to forget are the multiples- I had five Samanthas, four Nicoles, and three Kelseys, and never trust myself to remember which of those it is for those 12 students.

              1. anon educator*

                SAME. I teach in an area with a lot of Irish-American families, and between the Colleens, the Maeves, the Bridgets, the Con(n)ors, and the Liams, I would be delighted to get an Uzoamaka or two.

          2. Boo*

            I met one of my very best friends at work, partly because I was the only one who made the effort to learn how to pronounce her full name (Spanish) while her boss and coworkers just informed her they’d be shortening it to the first syllable.

            I also used to work in a small office with about half a dozen Daves and half a dozen Johns. It never caused any issues. People will be able to work it out just fine.

            1. Nerfmobile*

              At one time my husband worked in a company of several hundred people where one-third of the men were named Robert or called some derivative of that (Bob, Rob, Bobby…). He actually counted all of them in the directory to confirm that.

              1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

                I did the same thing in my job. I searched the database for Michaels and Mikes. About 10% of 1500 people in total.
                Also again, Jennifers. Department of ten had three, including supervisor. Everyone adjusted.

                1. Turquoisecow*

                  I had 48 people in my eighth grade graduating class. Five were named Michael. Most were called by their last names, except one who was called by his first name and last name because his last name was Lewis and there was a Louis in the class as well and that would have been confusing.

                1. Kelly White*

                  We have an abundance of Bills here. Almost 10%. If there isn’t a contextual clue- we just add their job title- ex. Bill was looking for you. Which one? Teapot Spout Bill.
                  You might be surprised at how little we need the qualifier.

              2. oviraptor*

                At work we had Susan, Sue, Susie T, Suzie and Sue Z. And according to the group of Susans, Susan is a name that there is usually not more than 1 of in just about any setting.

              3. Oxford Coma*

                There is a 2015 NYT article called “Fewer Women Run Big Companies Than Men Named John” that’s worth a read.

              1. susan*

                At one of my jobs we had:
                …all in a team of about 40.

                1. A Sara*

                  The college (within a university) I work for currently has a Christy [Common_Last_Name] and a Kristie [Same_Common_Last_Name].

                  We also recently had two students named Kathryn [Other_Common_Last_Name], and at one point, I was working directly with both of them.

                  It’s fine. The school has yet to burn to the ground from all the confusion. In the case of Christy/Kristie, I’m just specific about which department I’m talking about when I’m talking to someone else about them. In the case of the Kathryns, they were luckily in different years of the program.

                  And on a different note, this is the first time in my life that there aren’t oodles of other Sara(h)s around. There are two staff members named Sarah and then me, a Sara. It’s been nice, but I know that at some point in the future, I’ll be surrounded by other Sara(h)s again and seriously…it’s FINE.

                2. Turquoisecow*

                  We had two guys in my old company with the same first and last name. Thankfully they worked in different departments, so you had to refer to them as Department First Name Last Name.

                3. Common80sName*

                  I (as a woman) have a first name like this, that tons and tons of girls born in the early 1980s were given. The year I was born it was the second most common girls’ name in the US. Thanks Mom! In college there were five of us in the (tiny) department I majored in. We all coped. People got given or assumed nicknames, numbers, adding the middle initial etc.

                  My son is a year and a half, and his last name is an Irish one that is unusual in this country, and almost impossible for Americans to figure out how to spell. There’s a combination of consonants in the middle that trips people up all the time; when I call and make appointments for him, I almost always have to spell it multiple times. When we were picking out names, my husband really wanted an Irish first name too. I said fine, but it absolutely HAS to be one that Americans are familiar with and can spell. Poor kid is already going to have to spend his life spelling his last name. He does not need to have to do that with his first name too. So then it took forever for us to agree on a first name, because neither of us liked the obvious option of Patrick (also we live in a metropolitan area with a large number of people of Irish descent, and there are already far too many Patricks in our social circle), and for a while everything else that one of us suggested, the other didn’t like. Finally found a good combination of first and middle names though, using family names for both, and we are really happy with them.

                  And just in case anyone was wondering, I’m of English descent myself. Dinner table conversations can get pretty interesting at our house. :) My condition regarding our son’s name was that either his first or his middle name was going to be the name of an English monarch. I got my wish, with the middle one, which also happens to be the name of two of our little guy’s great grandfathers.

                4. Demon Llama*

                  Oh boy, I once coached a summer camp and had a group of 15 adorable kids – almost all blonde and pig-tailed – which included 2 Kristens, 1 Kirsten, 2 Kirstens (pronounced differently to the other Kirsten), 1 Caitlyn, 2 Christys and a Katie.

                  I have to admit, I don’t think I ever quite got there, particularly as the sport I was coaching involves wearing some goggles which just made facial recognition even harder. But I remember them all fondly many years later.

              2. Brian*

                There are three or four people in this side of the office with the same name as me. We have slightly different roles within the same area of work. It’s usually clear who is being asked for what.

                The common work around? People will just say “Firstname Lastname”. It’s very easy to say “John Smith” and “John Jones” when needed and it’s never been a huge problem.

                Occasionally I’ll have to redirect a phone call or email. A manager has never had to instruct us on how to do it.

                I’m also in a hobby group with another person with my name and another adjacent to us. Most of the time people just look at which of us they are speaking to. Or add a last name. And if I use the name, I’m not referring to myself. It’s very easy for us in both circumstances

            2. blackcat*

              1/4 of the employees in my husband’s department are John.

              They make do. Everyone just uses last names.

            3. Never Liz*

              I had a student once with the last name “Huang.” She commented that I was one of the only ones to try to pronounce it correctly, instead of just saying “Wong.”

            4. Jules the Third*

              One fourth of my ex boyfriends are named Jason and 2 – 3 of them know each other (12 years of dating, first was in high school, we’re still friends). We mostly just call them Jason. If context isn’t enough, we’ll go with last names. They are both red-headed Jason S, computer engineers, so we did have to go beyond position and initials.

              It’s doable in a respectful way so that no one has to give up their names.

              1. Jules the Third*

                That said, if I mention one of the ones I don’t talk to much anymore, I do sometimes use numbers (because ‘brunette goth comp sci Jason’ isn’t specific enough), though more often location (the Jason who moved to x) or other girlfriends (the Jason who dated y).

                I am of the age where my choices for people to date had a Very High percentage of certain names. Moms in the 70s were not real imaginative.

                1. One of many Karens*

                  As a child of the early 70s, I concur with your assessment of the lack of creativity. At one point, there were three Karens in my department of 11ish, so we had to use initials. I felt like I was back in elementary school. I know the Jennifers feel my pain as well, but at least they have some nickname options.

          3. Bend & Snap*

            I have a really easy to pronounce name, but I work with a lot of folks from India, and they run into this all the time. “I’m not even going to try to pronounce your name,” or “I’m sure i’ll butcher your name but here goes nothing.”

            How about you just TRY to get it right or ASK what the preferred pronunciation is?

            I have a former colleague whose name is widely mispronounced by her team even though she makes it a point to pronounce it correctly every time she identifies herself.

            1. Workerbee*


              My dad had even taken to adding a phonetic spelling of his last name to written correspondence because of the inevitable hesitation/mangling/defeat it would receive.

            2. smoke tree*

              I have a “difficult-to-pronounce” (actually phonetic, but whatever) name, and there is such a world of difference between “I’m not even going to bother trying to get this right” and “Please let me know if I’ve mispronounced your name.” I get it, it’s an uncommon name. I don’t expect everyone to know how it’s pronounced, but you can be a baseline of polite about it.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I do this, and that twitter thread made me so happy (seriously so happy).

          5. smoke tree*

            This is one of those threads that I like to think about sometimes when the world is making me sad. It’s so beautiful.

        2. Mookie*

          This tactic also works wonders when you’ve got someone intentionally or just repeatedly mispronouncing a name that, by the speaker’s blinkered standards, has an unconventional or non-standard pronunciation.

          I know this from experience because I was on the tail-end of the tactic (performed as it was in the Key and Peele substitute teacher skit) and it taught me to improve my ear and work on my language and speaking functions, not just continue to flub and flail wildly at a name without trying very hard to get it right. With the obvious exceptions, including a serious language barrier, this is something anybody can do, or at least improve.

        3. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

          My daughter is named Marianna (pronounced Mary – ANN-a). She has given up correcting people who, even after she says her name to them, decide to pronounce is MAH-ri-ah-nah or Mary-AH-na. Some people just leave the a off the end and straight up call her Marianne or even Mary. She’s 13 and easily frustrated. I’m in my 40’s, named her after a beloved relative, and absolutely will let this be a hill I die on. USE THE NAME SHE WAS GIVEN UNLESS SHE TELLS YOU OTHERWISE!!!!

          1. Clorinda*

            Like your Marianna, I too have a name that can be pronounced more than one way, so I expect to have to correct people gently a few times. And then I expect them to get it right.
            Also: my father’s second wife had the same exact name. Somehow we both managed to use it without anyone mistaking us for each other. Don’t try to change your worker’s name, OP. Find a way to differentiate.

          2. Amber T*

            My real name (not Amber) is a fairly common name with an unusual spelling, which apparently means it must be pronounced special! (It isn’t.) Think of how that one person over-pronounces foreign words, or how Ted Moseby pronounces encyclopedia. Even when corrected (“No, it’s pronounced _”), I’m still met with a flourish.

            Just call someone what they want to be called, please.

            1. baconeggandcheeseplease*

              This is me too! Mine also looks like a typo for a semi generic (traditionally) Irish dude’s name, so people just think I’m gonna be a tall white dude and are very confused when they see a small Asian woman.

            2. Not a Morning Person*

              Same here! And it’s occasionally incredibly awkward and unfortunately common to be introduced using the incorrect pronunciation right after being asked how to pronounce it correctly by the person doing the introductions. I no longer let it lie in an effort to help the person avoid embarrassment, I just say, “actually it’s just ‘my name’ ” .

            3. Friendly Hi*

              Ha! I feel your pain on this one. My name is a very common one and spelled in the common way, but one of my mom’s friends used to INSIST on adding a flourish every time she would say my name. (Think, “oh, Jennifeuuuurrrrrrrr! instead of Jennifer)

          3. Marillenbaum*

            This, so much. My given name is Victoria, and my mother was absolutely fierce about no one calling my Vicky as a girl: “If I’d wanted her to be called Vicky, it would be on her birth certificate!” was how she put it. To this day, I strongly dislike people attempting to shorten my name (apart from the time I went by Tori in grade school, but I was nine and dotted my i’s with stars) and at this point, people generally know that, much like the Wu-Tang Clang, my name ain’t nothing to f*** with.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              My mom had a similar problem with people wanting to call my brother Steven “Stevie.” It’s also why I didn’t get the name Jessica – she hates the nickname “Jessie,” and knew people would call me that.

              1. TootsNYC*

                My dad is William, and goes by Bill, but when my mom visited his hometown after they got engaged, she was horrified to find out that people were still calling him Billy.

                She insisted my brothers be given names that don’t generally have the “-y” ending put on them (Midwesterners don’t say “Paulie,” that I’ve ever encountered. And it would be so weird to add an “-y” to Lee. What would that be: Lee-ie?)

            2. Amber T*

              Oh the gradeschool nicknames you choose. I go by my full name now, but there was a two year period where I decided to have a nickname. I have one friend (my childhood best friend) who still calls me that because that’s how she was introduced to me, that’s how she grew to know me. She’s the only person who’s allowed to call me that now, but she’s met with looks of confusion half the time. She tried calling me by my full name, but honestly that was worse.

              1. Tau*

                The older I get, the happier I become that there’s seriously no sensible nickname you can get out of my (two-syllable) first name. People have tried and failed. It seems a little boring at first, but it’s protected me from grade school shenanigans and (sorry, OP) inappropriate requests from bosses.

                (Not that I’ve ever worked with another “Tau”. If you want to experience your name being super uncommon, move to the right foreign country.)

            3. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

              “If I’d wanted her to be called Vicky, it would be on her birth certificate!”

              YES!! I was at a school function and this one girl kept calling my daughter Mary. She was corrected several times and never said it properly. This young girl (in my Girl Scout troop and very familiar with me) has a Turkish name that is very pretty but easily mispronounced as a generic English name if you’re not careful. I wasn’t careful about my pronunciation for an hour before she corrected me. “My name is _____, remember?” I said “Yep, I do remember but I don’t care like you don’t care about the name I gave my daughter. You know…the one that I have corrected for you all night?” Haven’t had an issue with her mispronouncing it since.

              I also have a cousin who is named Tina. Everyone tries to correct it to Christina. It’s not her name. Never has been. She had one girl in middle school try to call her Chris because she “didn’t like the nickname Tina”.

              1. sheep jump death match*

                That’s a really mean-spirited and petty thing for a grown adult to do to a child.

          4. Temperance*

            FWIW, my first name is close to a whole bunch of other names, so I answer to anything that remotely sounds like my first name, and have since I was a kid.

            It’s always frustrating to have a name that can be spelled or pronounced a bunch of ways. Correcting people gets so old, fast.

        4. FormerHoosier*

          I had an administrative assistant once who also hated shortened names. I and another woman in the office had nicknames i.e. Jenny for Jennifer and she would insist on using them. It was irritating but I just dropped it.

          However, I had to write letters to two hospital CEOs with whom my organization worked with all the time. Both used nicknames professionally. One hated his full name and no one every called him that. She corrected the letters I wrote and changed both names to their formal names which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal but she assumed that one had a formal name that he did not. i.e. he went by Rick but his full name wasn’t Richard but Ricardo and she put Richard on the letter. I was so frustrated.

          It is arrogant to assume that someone should be called by a name other than what they tell you.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I would have been so livid if an admin assistant [or anyone I had directed to mail/process my letters] kept “correcting” people’s preferred names because of her hatred for short names. Her tack is so inappropriate!

        5. OHTC*

          As another Stephanie who strongly prefers being called Steph in most contexts, this story made my morning.

          I had a college roommate who insisted on called me Stephanie even though I repeatedly asked her not to. I should have done this. It might have made my point a lot better.

        6. Two As*

          I did this with a co-worker.

          My name is Rachael but is commonly misspelled as Rachel (pronounced the same). I had a co-worker named Michael who would ALWAYS spell it Rachel in email, even though I had corrected him when we first started working together. I naively thought he would understand because our names are only 2 letters apart, but no.

          So, I started leaving off the A in his name, the same way he left off the second A in mine. It took 4 months for “Michel” to figure it out, but once he did, he never misspelled it again.

        7. HR Empress*

          Totally did this in high school Spanish class. My teacher absolutely would not understand from repeated reminders that I preferred my full first name rather than a shortened version – think Anna instead of Ann. I reminded, I wrote notes, I underlined and capitalized the last letter on papers. My whole class (30 kids) was aware and, kid you not, she would call “Ann” in class and 30 voices would say “a!”

          One day I had had IT! I determined to not respond. She called my name and I didn’t respond. She came near and looked me in the face and repeated my name. I stared. The class was “filling in the missing syllable.” She got so mad and said “Anna!” — I answered her question.

          We were in complete sync the rest of the year! :)

      2. Not so anon for this one....*

        My name is Kimberly. I prefer Kim. I had a manager who liked to call me Kimberly, despite my telling her over and over that I preferred Kim. Her reasoning for insisting was that I signed everything as Kimberly and since that was how the company knew me, that was what she would call me too. I explained that my mother is the only person on the planet who calls me Kimberly and that when others use my name it makes me feel like I am in trouble. She insisted on using my full name. So I started responding like she was going to write me up every time she said my name. She didn’t like the reactions from my co-workers (laughter from those who knew what I was doing and genuine shock for those that didn’t) so she started calling me Kim soon after. She did threaten to write me up for real over it, but I told her that I would fight it because how would HR respond when they realized that she wouldn’t call me by my reasonable, expected nickname?

        1. Kim Gwenhwyfar*

          Yeah, HR will be really happy with a write-up about someone’s preferred name…

          I have this problem in reverse. My legal name is Kim, just the three letters, but people randomly call me Kimberly because they assume it’s a nickname/shortened version, or they call me Kimmie. I think the second thing is worse, because it makes me feel actively disrespected, especially because I’m a) a woman and b) on the younger side. I always correct people. Recently the owner of the company stopped by to talk to me, and he called me Kimmie. I interruped him mid-sentence to say “No! My name is Kim.” The look on his face was priceless.

      3. Emily K*

        In my teenage years I started introducing myself as Emmy and received more than a few comments from parents/teachers/bosses about it being a child’s name and that I should really go by Emily in all professional/formal settings. I was a rebellious teen and I really doubled-down on it, started putting it on my school papers and other documents. I reckoned that if Laurie and Jenny and Susie didn’t have to go by Lauren and Jennifer and Susan, then why the heck should I be stuck with Emily?

        1. EmKay*

          Ha! I’m an Emilie and I couldn’t stand it when people called me Emmy (still can’t). However, I will respond to Em without blinking an eye.

          (As a matter of fact, I’m an Emilie K.)

        2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          And I’m an Emily that has to fight people to stop calling her Emmy and Emma! Just call people by the name they say, for cat’s sake.

          Pertaining to the letter: I graduated school with five other Emilies (Emili?) and only one spelled her name differently (Emilie). We all knew which Emily was being referenced just fine. Last names/initials if needed.

          1. EmKay*

            Ugh, the spelling. I’m french canadian, so I’m forever correcting how to spell my name. The francophones go with Émilie, and the anglophones go with Emily. NEITHER OF THOSE ARE MY NAME.

            1. Demon Llama*

              My niece is Emilie (spelt your way). As someone with their own easy-to-get-wrong name, I wanted to warn my sister, but I have a hard rule against critiquing parental name choices. Instead I’ve internally vowed to be a safe venting haven for Emilie when she’s old enough to be annoyed about the inevitable wrong spellings.

                1. trebond98*

                  Also an Emily. Taught a class of 15 with 3 other Emilies. There were 6 of us in my dorm of 100. We are legion.

      4. Never Liz*

        Yep. I’m “Elizabeth.” Friends and family call me “Beth,” but I use the full name professionally, 100% of the time. So why the heck does everyone insist on calling me “Liz?!”

        1. Anony McAnonface*

          Uggggggggggggggggggh. I HATE being called Liz and everyone defaults to that. I’m working on a strategy to stop it, but my nickname is actually just “E” or a variant on my last name and it’s hard convincing strangers to call you that.

        2. Viola E.*

          Exactly same — my dad is the only one allowed to call me “Vi” (not my real name). There’s one woman at my work who INSISTS on calling me “Vi” as well… since her name is also Viola, and she doesn’t mind Vi. I haven’t corrected her because she’s so far above me in the office hierarchy, but I have to fake-smile every time because that’s not my name!

          1. That's not my name!*

            There’s a jackass at our office who gives EVERYONE nicknames – Sue for Susan, Jim for Jimmie, and so on – whether they use or even like that nickname. He tried that with me once and got “That’s not my name, please don’t call me that” in my brook-no-argument tone of voice. Other people grit their teeth and complain behind his back, which isn’t solving the problem.

        3. Another Elizabeth*

          Tell me about it. I prefer Beth, but I’ve been called pretty much all the Elizabeth derivatives at one point or another. Liz is the most common, but I’ve also been called Liza, Eliza, Lizzy and Betty. I don’t know why people assume these things when I usually introduce myself with “Hi, I’m Beth,” but they do.

        4. Cari*

          While I generally have no strong feelings on whether people sign emails or not, it’s situations like this where I wish they would. In my office for example we have 5 Jennifers. The two who go by Jenny I’ve worked with for ~ 8 yrs and I remember. The other three are new ish and I don’t work with them often so I don’t always remember. Signed emails help – unsigned, not so much

      5. SpaceNovice*

        Also another Jennifer. I’m sorta fine with whatever, so I just basically let every other Jennifer with preferences claim names first. :( It’s not hard.

        This is also why my SIL has chosen short names that cannot be nicknamed for her children.

    3. lyonite*

      Absolutely. There’s a manager at my work who has made repeated attempts to nickname me against my will (my name is longish, but not unmanageable). I had to be pretty firm with him several times before he stopped.

      1. Lisa*

        People routinely try to call me “Lis” (which I hate) as if four letters and two syllables was just too burdensome to manage.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I had a roommate who did this! (My name isn’t Lisa but it’s pretty close and similarly not nickname friendly.)

        2. Sarah*

          Ugh. I had a friend in high school who called me “Ser” instead of Sarah. I haaated it. My name is five letters long, and one of those letters is just there for decoration. Say the whole thing.

          My maiden name is a pretty common last name, too. In college, I’d get emails for a different Sarah LastName every so often. It took about four seconds to reply and say hey you have the wrong Sarah.

          1. A Sara*

            My last name is also pretty common and there was a different Sara LastName at my college too. My middle initial is F and hers was E, so our email addresses were sflastname and selastname and really easily confused, so it happened a lot. But yeah – it takes zero energy to alert the sender to their mistake.

          2. Marillenbaum*

            There were two of me at college, too! Same first name and last name, but the other was a year behind me. I ended up on the Chi Omega listserve for a month because of that mistake. She got packages delivered to her that were meant for me, and once, I ended up with her underage drinking violation on my file because some numbskull in the disciplinary office couldn’t be bothered to check the student ID number of the person in question. I had a very fun time blowing up their voicemail asking what was up, because I wasn’t even in the country at the time of the violation (it was my semester abroad, and I was a practicing Mormon who didn’t drink at all).

          3. FoodieNinja*

            When my husband and I married, I decided to share his last name for convenience reasons, but now his cousin and I have very similar names and we work at the same large university (in unrelated areas). Think Annabelle Jennifer Smith and Jennifer Anna Smith. We get misdirected emails and meeting requests all the time, and it was generally funny until I got her maternity leave paperwork in the mail and my boss got a call from payroll about how I wasn’t correctly filing my timecard while on maternity leave. Then I got salty with HR.

        3. ValkyrAmy*

          Ugh. I’m an Amy and hate with a fiery passion when anyone tries to call me “Aim.” THAT SECOND SYLLABLE ISN’T THAT HARD, ASSCANDLE!

          I may have feels about this.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            ‘Asscandle’ is my new favorite insult, thanks to you. I’m stealing it.

        4. bookish*

          I have a similar type of name (two syllables, not nickname-friendly, which I’ve honestly always liked because my name is just my name) and when people (really just friends) try to call me by just the first syllable (like “Lees” for Lisa) my response is to grimace and be like “ugh, no one’s ever called me that but my dad, when I was a kid.” That “nickname” is exclusively associated with, idk, feeling like I’m being taken to the playground or told to do homework or something. It’s weird to hear other people say it to me, as an adult!

      2. DecorativeCacti*

        I was once ordering food and the guy asked for my name. I told him (to use OP’s example, Amanda) and he goes, “Alright, can I call you Mandy?!” I just looked straight at him and said, “No.” He looked like I had slapped him in the face. He had already started writing the nickname, had to scratch it out, and write the whole thing. Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to. Also, don’t mess with people’s names.

        1. Mookie*

          I had a few classes with a Reg, and she was forever telling people at work “no, you can’t spell my name Redge in service of your mnemonic device.” Some complete dipshit she worked under started calling her ‘Standard And’ because he thought she was being unreasonable, like she’d invented the homograph just to fuck with him.

      3. Parenthetically*

        People do this with my kid’s name, and it fills me with frustration. If he wants a nickname when he’s older, we will go for it. But otherwise, cripes, it is just so rude to decide you don’t feel like pronouncing two syllables.

        1. Flower*

          I used the example of “Katelyn” for a similar name to mine below and it works well for this – when I was a baby my parents called me “Katie” and then as I got older “Lynn” (funny because Lynn is actually the middle name of some women in my family) and when I hit my early teens I decided I liked Katelyn more. Until my brother started dating an actual “Lynn” (not nickname) it was hard to get my family into the habit of using my full name, and many childhood friends and extended family still calls me “Lynn”.

          1. One of Many Kates*

            Similarly, you can tell who met me when in my life by what they call me. I’m “Katie” to my parents and extended family, “Katherine” to anyone who I met between kindergarten and undergrad, and “Kate” to anyone who I met after grad school. (Especially including my now-husband’s family, because his father had dated several Catherine/Katherine/Kathryns right before I came along.) And Kat to exactly one ex-boyfriend who asked and got a special dispensation.

            But anyone at any job ever who decided I should be a “Kathy” gets an immediate (polite) smackdown. Which many are shocked by.

            1. MommaCat*

              Hello, are you me? Except I go by Cat instead of Kate; apparently, when I was a kid, I REFUSED to respond to my grandfather when he tried to nickname me “Cathy.” ;)

              1. Gina Linetti*

                I’ve been Kate since I was a kid, but when I was really young, if people called me Katie I would have a full on tantrum. My mom had to teach little tiny two year old me to say “I prefer to be called Kate.”

          2. Observer*

            That’s a bit different though. It’s not that someone decided that they are going to call you something different. It’s people having gotten used to a certain way of calling you, which you then decided to change. You have every right to do that, and preferably people should adapt. And DEFINITELY, anyone you meet should respect that (and not try to claim that “well, your mother / sister/ great uncle calls you that.) But, I wouldn’t get bent out of shape about people from your past using the name you used to use. On the other hand, I would expect them to use the form you currently use to introduce you to others.

            1. Flower*

              Oh definitely, and I accept those friends and family calling me “Lynn”, but I have to admit, I wish they’d learn otherwise. It bites a little bit since my brother has started going by his birth name rather than the Anglicized version of his name in the past few years and my sister completely changed her name (not connected to a gender transition and not a different nickname) about ten years ago. While it took a while for my family to adjust to my sister’s name, everyone pretty much has (maybe not extended family, but we honestly rarely see them) and most of the people who knew my brother by the Anglicized version of his name have adjusted to his birth name. To be fair to them, my parents call me by my full name at least half the time.

          3. Rainy*

            My fiancé’s high school into early 20s girlfriend was a Rainbow who went by Raini, rather than a just-plain-Rainy, and when I met his parents, his dad said “You have the same name as his high school girlfriend, so I’d rather call you something else.” I was taken aback, and said “I suppose if you want you can call me by one of my middle names, but whether I’ll answer to it or not is up in the air”. Fiancé’s mum growled at him “YOU WILL CALL HER RAINY” and said “That’s very sweet of you, dear, but we’re fine with calling you by your name.”

        2. Yvette*

          Especially when the nickname isn’t any shorter than the original, ‘Andrew/Andy’, Robert/Bobby’ etc.

          1. Jules the Third*

            enh – Andy is actually easier to say than Andrew – ‘dr’ is a complex mouth movement.

            But you should call people by their name even if it’s harder, because you’re demonstrating respect by doing so.

      4. Buckeye*

        My father’s name is Jerry, as in that is what is printed on his birth certificate, but he had several teachers in school who insisted that “Jerry” must be a nickname and therefore inappropriate and chose to call him “Gerald” instead.

        It’s now the perfect way to get completely under his skin.

        1. Observer*

          Oh, yes. I LOVE (not) those teachers. Especially the ones who actually correct the parents! It’s bad enough to tell a kid that they don’t actually know their own name, but claiming that that parents WHO GAVE THE NAME don’t is just beyond stupid.

          1. KimberlyR*

            My uncle is Ted. Not Theodore, just Ted. My grandparents had to deal with that daily.

          2. Anne (with an “e”)*

            This reminds me that Harry Potter’s name is Harry James Potter. It’s Harry, not Harold. Or, I guess, “The Chosen One,” or “The Boy Who Lived.” Otherwise, it’s “just Harry.”

        2. Penny Lane*

          It is kind of weird, though, to have a nickname as a legal name. It’s like having Billy or Susie as a legal name. That said, if that is his name, so be it.

          1. Gingerblue*

            Enh, there are tons of names which we now consider standalones which started out as nicknames. Jerry is no weirder than Fred, Beth, or Alison. Or Charlotte, Bill, Natasha, Lisa, Abby, Chris, Drew, Joe…

              1. Not a Morning Person*

                Lisa is a diminutive of Elizabeth; I don’t know about the others.

        3. Jules the Third*

          M*A*S*H, B.J. Honeycutt, whole episode: His name is really Bea Jay, named for his mother Bea and his father Jay.

          Saw that when I was under 10yo, and it stuck – use the names people give you. If you want to know the story behind it, ask but don’t push.

        4. Turquoisecow*

          My sister, Vicki (not Victoria) and my aunt, Sue (not Susan, Suzanne, or Susannah) both had this problem. Sue actually brought her birth certificate to school and showed a teacher to prove her name was just Sue.

          1. Observer*

            She’s lucky the teacher didn’t tell her the certificate was wrong because it’s not a “real” name. I’ve seen that more than once .

      5. Matilda Jefferies*

        I had a manager who tried to insist that one of the two Matthews on our team (of seven people total) go by Matt, because it was “easier.” Except for the part where it wasn’t! Making one of them arbitrarily start answering to Matt was actually more confusing, because he had never thought of it as his name.

        The rest of the team ignored the manager and called them Matthew A and Matthew B if the context wasn’t clear. And the one time I heard the manager introduce Matthew B as Matt to a client, he kind of chuckled and said “Actually I’m only Matt in this room, everyone else calls me Matthew.” It was…awkward. (And no, the manager did not get the hint – but the client did!)

        OP, people figure this out all the time. People are unlikely to be confused by having a Jennifer A and a Jennifer B in the same organization. If it really does turn out to be a problem, there are plenty of other solutions available, that don’t start with a manager asking a subordinate to change her name.

    4. Quoth the Raven*

      I was in a similar situation. I was called by the short version of my name — so Jess rather than Jessica (name changed). Then my boss’ wife, who shares my name, was brought in as a consultant –and everyone started calling her Jess, and me Jessica, without even giving me the heads up.

      It felt weird, you know? Like my name had been changed because I was lower on the ladder, so to speak. And like you, I was eager to please, so I didn’t say anything like “I don’t like being called Jessica, it is what I’ve been historically called when people are mad at me. I’d rather be called Jess, even if it’s Jess 2 or Jess from Sales or Jess Smith”. I would have never demanded the other person went by something she didn’t like it either, but I did feel I was in a position where I couldn’t raise the topic to look for options, or that I was making too much of a big deal out of something.

      1. Not Australian*

        “I don’t like being called Jessica, it is what I’ve been historically called when people are mad at me”

        I totally hear you on that. My mother always used to call me by my full name when she was mad at me – which was a lot – and refusing to call me ‘Jess’ was her little power play. The moment I left home I was ‘Jess’ all round, and now I don’t answer to anything else except in the most formal of situations.

      2. Hazelthyme*

        This reminds me of an old family joke my husband & I have:
        – Normally, Mom calls you Phil (common nickname for your full name).
        – When she calls you Filbert, you need to listen up, because you’re on thin ice.
        – When you’re Filbert Treenut, stop and immediately give Mom your full attention, as you’re in big trouble.
        – When she breaks out your middle name and it’s “Filbert Hardshell Treenut, get over here Right. Now!” stop and RUN. In the other direction.

        (who, like all her siblings, has no middle name)

        1. Rae*

          I’m over 30 and when I hear ANYONE pulling out the three names I freeze. Grocery store, movie theater, what have you.

        2. rldk*

          does it make it worse if you have multiple middle names?!

          (as evidenced by my screen name, which is all four of my initials)

            1. TeapotSweaterCrocheter*

              I am so with you. My dog has two middle names. Her full name is Durham Von Fliegerhorn Krzyzewski MyLastName. But our vet doesn’t really know about “Von Fliegerhorn Krzyzewski”. :)

          1. Legal Beagle*

            The (human) pharmacy where we get our dog’s medication gave him the middle initial P (does it stand for Pet?), so now I include that in his full name when scolding him.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            My mom’s dog is Josh and my husband’s and my cat is named Tim. Although it wasn’t intended when they were named, “Joshua!” and “Timothy!” get used fairly frequently.

            Other cat, Suzy, doesn’t have a longer version of her name, maybe because she gets in less trouble.

          3. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

            All of my dogs have middle names, too! Calvin Theodore, Oliver Lincoln, and Wallace Ulysses.

            1. PhyllisB*

              Same here. My female dogs usually had the middle name “Belle”. Don’t know why; first dog got Belle and it just stuck. Except for Lola. She was Lola Louise. Now we have a male dog named George. Haven’t really found a middle name for him yet. (Was named when we got him. Rescue dog.) Sometimes I call him Sir George or Boy George, but some family members call him George of The Jungle

          4. Cercis*

            Once I pissed off my friend’s little brother. I think he was about 5 at the time. His name was Steven Wayne Smith and when he was in trouble they used all his names. So when he got pissed at me he called me Cercis Wayne Smith. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Poor kid had no idea what my last name really was nor that other people had different middle and last names (which was also funny because his sister – my friend – had a different last name).

          5. Anne (with an "e")*

            When I was a little girl we had a dog named Bengie. When he was in trouble he was Spencer Benjamin Our_Surname.

        3. Damn it, Hardison!*

          This is why my cats have middle names. Even they know that breaking out all three names means they are in Trouble.

        4. Marillenbaum*

          My mom jokes sometimes that this is the reason she gave us middle names–so we’d know when we were in Big Trouble. It was for those times when “young lady” and a cold hard stare just wouldn’t cut it. (Thankfully, those were rare; she is a lovely person and I am an inveterate teacher’s pet, so it generally worked out)

          1. Totally Minnie*

            I *invent* middle names for my friends sometimes, to say in a scandalized voice. It’s frequently a different middle name each time, and only with friends who are in on the game.

        5. Bebe*

          I am also without a middle name, and when I was kid the progression was, from minor reprimand to grounded-for-life: Bebe; Bebe McLurker; Bebe McLurker Young Lady; Bebe McLurker Young Lady, you get over here right now!

      3. Susan Sto Helit*

        My cousins are twins. They both have partners named (let’s say) Abigail. Neither of them wants to go by Abby, or any other derivative. They’re both just Abigail.

        One is married to his Abigail, with a baby on the way. The other has bought a house with his so that’s looking long term as well, meaning we might end up with two Mrs Abigail Winterbottoms.

        Everyone copes somehow.

        1. NW Mossy*

          I have a great uncle by marriage whose wife (second; his first wife passed away many years ago) and daughter have the same first name. It’s sweet, and also fine.

        2. oviraptor*

          My 2 friends, who are sisters, married men with the same first name. They call the husbands by their first names. Only when it gets confusing (like when both husbands are involved in the conversation/story etc) the men are called by their last names. Works well for them. I call the one husband I don’t know as well by his first name. The one I have known for a long time I call Mr. First Name. (There was a story/inside joke type thing that I have long since forgotten that started the whole Mr First Name thing).

        3. HannahS*

          Yeah, my dad has a sister and four first cousins all named (for example) “Rivka.” So, we just refer to them with their parents’ names. There’s Eli’s Rivka, Eva’s Rivka, etc.

        4. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

          My mom and my brother’s wife have the same name, just spelled differently. Obviously, I call my mom “mom” and my sister in law by her name, but other family members who call my mom by her first name have managed to handle the same name thing without assigning nicknames to either one.

        5. zora*

          My boyfriend’s sister and I have the same nickname. Our full names are different, but we go by the same first name. His other sister’s first name is my middle name. Yeah, lots of creativity going on in these families. ;o)

          At first he felt weird about it and everyone in his family made comments about it. But then I found out that my boyfriend’s Mom and his Stepdad’s sister have the same name, too! So, it’s not a new thing in that family!

        6. Lindsay J*

          In my family tree, I have two brothers, who married two sisters, and then each set gave their three children the same name.

          So Jim Jamesby married Allison Doe, and had 3 kids names Bob, Carly, and Doug
          And John Jamesby married Angela Doe, and had 3 kids named Bob, Carly, and Doug.

          It makes doing geneology a bit confusing, but is otherwise fine.

          Also, my oldest female cousin and I are dating guys with the names of eachother’s brothers.

          So, if my brother were John, and her brother were William, I am dating a William, and she is dating a John.

          We figure it out. Either by using possessive’s (Lindsay’s William), or last names, or just general context.

    5. Is It Performance Art*

      I worked at a place where they hired an entry-level employee with the same first name as an employee who’d been there for years. After the new person started, our boss told her she needed to pick a new name to go by because it would be too confusing. (Going by her first name and last initial wasn’t okay because it was to much trouble for our boss to say.) Needless to say, she didn’t stay very long.
      If you spring it on her after she’s accepted the job, she’ll likely feel obliged to agree. And if you ask before, it could seem like her answer would influence whether you’re going to hire her. Either way, it seems weird in a bad way.

      1. Susan Sto Helit*

        I once went on a date with a guy who worked for local radio, and told me about a previous job of his where he’d had to go by Nick the entire time he worked there because there was already a Chris on the radio and it would be too confusing for listeners if there was more than one Chris.

        He did kind of look like a Nick though.

        1. Demon Llama*

          a) this was a common practice with clerks in British barristers chambers for years. The barristers had this weird thing where they decided if there was already a “Chris” working as a clerk, it would be too much effort for them to remember an initial or, heaven forfend, a whole surname to differentiate them. So they would just forcibly rename the new clerk. The current head clerk at my partner’s chambers is still known by the wrong name – my partner doesn’t even know what his real name is! If you ever needed an example of how problematic privilege can be…

          b) your user name is awesome.

    6. KX*

      At one job, not only was there also a KX already, but I was taking over the role from another KX. Same first name same initials, and there was never any confusion. People know who everyone is.

      I have a child with a very common name, and even at age three in preschool every single child with that name knew who everyone meant when the name was called. It’s not really confusing. It is a coincidence.

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      All of this. Particularly when starting a new job, putting that kind of pressure on an employee is not ok.

    8. Arya Parya*

      I have a fairly common name. Currently there is another woman with the same name at my company, though not in the same department. No one has asked me to change it and it hasn’t been confusing.
      There is a shorter version of my name, but only a select, very small group of people may call me that. I would never want to go by that in any job and would probably push back hard when asked.
      At my previous job we had two men with the same name in our deparment and a third in another department. We made it work by adding an initial or job title or something, if it was unclear who we meant.
      At my volunteer job we have two women with the same first and last name (go figure). There is software to create the monthly schedule, so the name has to be unique. So one is Jane Doe 1 and the other Jane Doe 2 there. But everyone just calls both Jane.
      So there are plenty of ways to make this work without asking people to change their name.

    9. Engineer Woman*

      Short answer for OP#1 to her question if it is out of bounds to ask someone to go by another name: yes

      I also hope OP#1 decides on hiring same-name person solely based on her qualification and not potential confusion for having the same name (and cannot ask her to “change” it)

      1. Kate*

        +1. I am concerned that OP #1 won’t, seeing as she called this a “snag” whereas most reasonable people wouldn’t see this as a problem and even think of proposing to do something as ridiculous as calling a new employee by a different name just because “it’s important that they know I’m the one in charge.”

        1. NOT Jenny*

          Not to mention, she calls it a big snag. Um no. At best it’s an annoyance. And the example she cites Amanda to Mandy, that’s not a nickname, that’s an entirely new name.

          1. No Mas Pantalones*

            She also says “it’s important that they know that I’m the one in charge” which… really?

            And, for the love of all things holy, I wish people would learn how to use “less” and “fewer” correctly.

            1. No Mas Pantalones*

              Oops. Didn’t close my tag correctly. Serves me right for being salty.

    10. Jenny on the birth certificate, Jen in life*

      Yep, this is relatable. I started my first career job having changed from using ‘Jenny’ from ‘Jen’ in my professional writing, only to start the job and be told that I couldn’t because there were other Jennifers starting. It’s a real regret because they put me as ‘Jenny’ on my email, introductions to clients and the company website. Now I’m out of there, I still have that broken presence online from the time I worked there and it’s taken a while to make ‘Jen’ my principle name again. Don’t make her change please.

      1. Rosemary7391*

        This would cause me problems too. I’m actually really well trained to ignore “Rosie” because I went to school with another Rosemary – people kept calling us to see us both turn around so we agreed she’d be Rosie and I’d get Rosemary.

        1. rldk*

          I have a similar Ros- starting name, but it’s uncommon enough that no one is quite sure where the emphases go. I am now similarly trained to ignore the many derivations that come not at all close

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        They told you that you couldn’t? My reaction would be “Oh, then I really can’t continue working here. Bye Felicia”.

    11. Me again*

      In a similar thing, I was at a small company that used firstname@company email addresses. If another Firstname joined, they became firstnameinitial@company. I was Jane A, so jane@company and then Jane B joined, so she was janeb@company. Problem was, she had an email-heavy job and I didn’t, so people kept emailing her at jane@company. The company solved this by adding initials to everyone’s names, so I became janea@company.

      That’s a sensible way to do it. Instead of the newcomer having to change her name, in effect everyone changed theirs. No one felt put out and everyone knew who was who.

    12. Discordia Angel Jones*

      My first name is not all that common but there were still three of us in my secondary school in the same class (must have been a popular choice the year of my birth).

      There’s a famous musical which used the nickname for my name which I used to get repeated references to as a child and I hated it. I still hate it. I refuse to be called by that nickname. I would refuse if a manager asked me to.

      I also used to have a boss that used a different nickname which isn’t immediately associated with my full name and I hated that too. I’d rather be called by my full name.

      (as an aside, I don’t even like my full name to be honest, I’ve considered changing it but can’t think of anything I’d want more. My middle name is even worse than my first name.)

    13. Kelly O*

      I was Kelly N in high school and as an adult I’m Kelly O. The only issue I have is occasionally getting email intended for one of the other Kellys. No biggie.

      1. Fuzzy Lady*

        We sometimes call my (retired!) Mom Judy K because she worked with a Judy G, and that filtered into our home life. It was fine!

        1. Lisa B*

          A beloved former boss used to call me Lisa B. I was the only Lisa in the department, but it stuck and I loved it!

          1. SarahKay*

            I became Sarah K because when I started at my current company I was one of two Sarahs in a team of five. Someone then said to me “Could we use your middle name instead” and I pointed out that not only did I not want that, my middle name (which is not a common name in the UK) was in fact the same name as one of the other five team members, which left us no better off. Worse off, in fact, since I’d never remember to answer to my middle name.
            Hence, I became Sarah K and the other Sarah became Sarah B.

          2. Beaded Librarian*

            One of my coworkers calls me ‘D’ or ‘DB’ occasionally because my name is somewhat long and hard for some people to pronounce. She can do it fine but sometimes it’s easier. It’s fine though because I’ve indicated in the past to my coworkers and even some patrons that I have a nickname that I use as needed. That’s not really he one I normally use but it gives me a smile. But I’m okay with it because I’ve told people I’m okay with a nickname.

      2. The Original K.*

        I used to work somewhere where there were four Marks, just in the departments that I worked in or closely with. We’d call them by their last names or by first name & last initial. Occasionally we’d call them by the department they worked in (“Product Development Mark”) but two of them were in the same department (one reported to the other) so that didn’t always work. But we figured it out. You always do in those situations.

    14. Beth*

      When I was a grad student, I ended up getting hired in an office where my supervisor and I had the same first name (Beth). We had maybe one or two days of confusion before we both decided that she’d go by Beth Ann and I’d be Beth Lynn. That ended up working out well for us, and helped make it easier to figure out which Beth people were talking about. (I’d frequently hear “Which one, Beth Ann or Beth Lynn?” from the other office staff as they were trying to figure out what went to who.)

    15. Detective Amy Santiago*

      There were six Jennifers in my Chemistry class senior year of high school.

      1. A Teacher*

        Yep, 7 Ashley’s in my graduating class and 3 were Ashley B. We also had 5 Sarah’s and a few Jennifer’s and Amanda’s. we never confused any LD them…

        1. Aveline*

          “We never confused…”


          Asking someone to change how they are addressed is really about asking them to do the work/pay the price and not putting in the effort yourself.

          So not only is it disrespectful, as others have already pointed out, it’s selfish.

          With minimum effort, you can keep people straight. You just have to remember people as individuals. That does require more mental bandwidth than just remembering a name, but it can be done.

        2. bonkerballs*

          I currently participate in a social group that includes 14 Megans. We get a little excited every time a new Megan joins us.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, in my world, starting in high school and continuing on through every job I’ve ever had, it is just not that hard to say people’s full names! Jen Smith, Jen Jones, Jennifer Brown, and Jennifer Johnson — not that hard to keep straight!

      3. Sarah*

        I went to a (small) party once. There were five females there. All of us were named Sarah. Four out of five had the same middle name.

      4. Jules the Third*

        You and I must be about the same age. Two of my best friends in high school were both Jennifer, and there were at least six more in our class of 300.

      5. Beaded Librarian*

        We had to Stephanie Smiths in my elite choir and a ‘Kirsten’ and a ‘Kjrsten’. The Stephanie’s weren’t too bad one was a Senior one was a Junior and were referred to as sure if it was needed.
        Also knew two Amanda Smiths in a two of about 300 that were both in my grade. It was Amanda [Middle Initial] for both of them.
        Oh and in elementary school there was a male Kelly and a female Kelly in my grade. Didn’t usually have a problem.

        1. Elaine*

          Oh, we had two Jeremys in my friends group in college. One was a senior and the other was a sophomore, so they were Jeremy the Elder and Jeremy the Younger. Another person in the group was dating a guy named Jeremy, and he didn’t go to our school but he came up in conversation every so often, so he was “(girlfriend’s name)’s Jeremy”.

    16. Not Katherine*

      My name isn’t “Kathy”, but I’m going to use it for this.

      I was taken from an abusive father as a very young child and adopted. My birth name was “Katherine.” Adoptive parents changed it legally to “Kathy.

      I’m an old lady now.

      All my life, people have called me Katherine. Not only is that not my name, it is sometimes triggering to be called by that name. I don’t have any memories of the abuse, but that name….

      At a minimum, using a non-preferred name is disrespectful. It can be so much worse.

      I’ve met others who feel as I do: adoptees, trans individuals who have changed to their preferred name, refugees from war and torture.

      Use the name someone asks you to use.

      All OP can do is ask “How should be address you? Is it Jennifer, Jenn, Jenny, or something else?”

      All people should be asked when interviewing. Don’t ever assume what is on paper is how they wish to be addressed.

      1. JS*

        In regards to your last sentence, the majority of modern job applications have a legal name and then a preferred name section nowadays. Legal would be what HR/payroll needs to have on file and preferred is for what your email, office door and how you are in the system says. That doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have another casual nickname they go by but its pretty safe to assume nowadays what’s on paper is what they go by unless they explicitly tell you differently.

    17. Mandatory Fun*

      I agree–it’s really not ok to forceably “rename” (even if it is a derivative of the actual name) someone like that, or to make the person feel pressured (as boss to underling would).

      Besides, people are generally smart enough to figure out how to distinguish people. I have a supervisor who is named (not really, but the actual names are this similar) Anne David. I have a co-worker who is also a direct report to Anne David whose name is Anne Davidson. (There’s another co-worker with a completely different last name whose name is Ann, to follow this example). We have never had issues with people confusing the roles of Anne David and Anne Davidson.

      1. Quickbeam*

        I’m an original employee at my company from when it was founded. We just hired a new team member for my team with my name. Since I am 30 years older than her, the scuttlebutt was that I should be called “Old Gertrude”. I asked that I be called by one of my last names (I have 2) since that was my name in college. That’s worked out.

        1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

          oh yeah — in college, my roommate and I had the same first name. Since I was like 8″ taller than she was, people wanted to refer to her as “Little Gertrude” and me as “Big Gertrude” — I nipped that one in the bud! I went by “Tall Gertrude” that year (or TG), which was wayyyyyyy better.

    18. What's with today, today?*

      My Mom nicknamed my son when he was born (she used a shortened first name and his middle name). I really didn’t care b/c she was (I thought) the only one doing it. Then at his first Christmas he got a bunch of monogrammed clothes from my grandparents with that nickname! They thought I’d chosen the nickname! All it took was telling everyone (including my Mom) once to cut it out, but it was so frustrating.

      1. Jules the Third*

        We nicknamed our kid when he was born. At about 3yo, he looked at us and said ‘My name is Birthname’. We switched pretty easily, but some other people had trouble remembering it, and after he corrected them once or twice, he just ignored them until they used Birthname.

        1. Temperance*

          My mother gave me a horrible nickname (Chrissy!), that I literally never answered to outside of the family. I told them repeatedly that my name is FirstName. You are awesome for listening to your kid.

          1. curly sue*

            My youngest’s name has one really, really common nickname and a couple of somewhat more obscurely connected ones. Think Jonathan -> Jon or Jack. I was in love with the less common one, which is also more in line with part of our ethnic background. IN LOVE. But it never stuck – he’s gone by the popular short form and that name only since he was old enough to express his (very firm) opinion. We go with it, of course, but I’ll always be a tiny bit wistful.

        2. AKchic*

          My 3rd son loved his nickname of JJ (for his initials). Everyone in the family initially (ha ha) hated it. Granted, for some reason, when you’re having your third son in 5 years, everyone assumes you have run out of names and insists on the “perfect” name for you and will *not* stop harassing you about the name they have suggested (even when you outright tell them you are not looking for help on this front and to go take a long walk off of a short pier). The name we chose inevitably was hated by all members of the family (to which I was quite proud of).

          At three, someone tried to call JJ by his birth name (because they were mortified that he was going by an “unbiblical nickname” (yeah, his birth name is unfortunately in that book of fables, but it’s also in Twilight, not that we expect him to emulate that trash). Kid looked right up and yelled “I’m JJ the poop monster!”
          This started a 6 month fad of him wanting to be called JJ the Poop Monster instead of just JJ.

          Kids are weird. People can be called whatever they want. People will adjust, or run for the hills.

        3. zora*

          haha! I was about 3 or 4 when I told my parents I was going to go by a different nickname than she had been using. Same thing, I just said “My name is Nickname”. Gotta love kids!

    19. What's with today, today?*

      Second story: Our Office manager’s grandson has a common name that’s spelled a little differently. Think Lukas instead of Lucas. He’s 9, and his teacher won’t spell his name right, and CORRECTS the spelling of his name on his papers! The parents have been battling this all year, have gone to superiors to no avail. Parents now won’t sign his papers if the name is misspelled, and won’t spell her name correctly in correspondence.

      1. Lynca*

        I dealt with this as a child. I had teachers refer to me by the initial of my preferred given name because it was spelled alternately. Not even a trendy thing, think Anne vs. Ann, and it was a common name. Think about how that feels when you get called on in class “A? Read from this passage.” It’s really dehumanizing, weird, and it’s something that upsets me very deeply. My parents fought for years about it. Thankfully it wasn’t every teacher but I remember how cruel the ones who did were.

        It’s why I decided against using my middle name as a professional (even though I love it). I can be Ann to family/friends and just use Jane for everyone else.

        1. JS*

          I think this is one of YMMV things as there were two Bianca’s in my class growing up and the teacher always referred to one as “B” and it stuck. I think in your case you felt slighted and like your individuality was taken rather than feeling the affection of a nickname. I wouldn’t necessarily call those teachers cruel but I can see how in the eyes of a child, who doesn’t think they can stand up to them, it would be.

          1. Observer*

            Well, it’s pretty clear that the nickname was NOT “affectionate.” And her perception was totally in sync with reality – parents fought over this FOR YEARS. This was an attempt by teachers to enforce their view of how the name is “supposed” to be. No affection involved AT ALL.

            1. JS*

              No its not clear that it wasn’t the intention, its clear she didn’t feel that way. Also the sentence “her parents fought for years” sounds like they argued about it among themselves other than with the teachers. I’m not saying shes not valid in feeling the way she does but that just because someone calls you by your initial doesn’t mean they are trying to dehumanize you. Most nicknames people receive are from others, if they don’t like them then that should be respected. I was more replying to the fact its sounded like Lynca was saying calling someone by their initial was cruel outright. If shes saying they called her that TO BE cruel thats different then what her initial paragraph suggests.

          2. Lynca*

            There was absolutely no affection involved. Ever. It was meant to be degrading because they felt there was something wrong with the name I have.

            The teachers didn’t care about how I felt, how upset my parents were, and it was all about them addressing how “weird” my name was. That’s outright cruel in my book.

            1. JS*

              Ah gotcha, your original posts reads as if you took the abbreviation to be a slight because you didn’t like it rather than they were doing it to be cruel to you. (It also reads like your parents argued with themselves and not the teachers over it). But thats odd they just wouldnt call you your name, a common name over a misspelling (since it wouldnt be pronounced differently) they sound like real pieces of work.

      2. But you don't have an accent...*

        I feel this on a personal level…when I was about 3, I was in a Mother’s Day Out program (think pre-school, but only a day or too a week), and we were learning how to write our names. My name is an older name, like Catherine. I went by a nick name at the time, think Cathy. Well, the teacher had traced my name out but spelled it “Kathy” instead. When I insisted that she had spelled my name wrong, she told me “well, just learn to spell it this way”. I told my mom and my next paper had my name spelled correctly after that.

      3. Quickbeam*

        I confess to the occasional eye roll when I encounter a Genyphur or some other really clunky twist on Jennifer. But I keep it all inside.

        1. Observer*

          I also eye roll on certain types of “creative” spellings. But, also, I keep them inside. It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about someone’s name. All that matters is that THAT is the person’s name and you just deal – and use it.

        2. Jules the Third*

          1) Love the username; my car’s plate is Bregolad, the elven version, because Quickbeam’s too long
          2) Be careful with the eye roll. You think it’s inside, but people notice it. And since a lot of the ‘alternative’ spellings have to do with class or ethnicity, there’s some real heavy baggage that goes along with disdain.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yeah, I’d be careful with the eyerolls. Even if it’s not culturally based, it’s still the person’s name. I always felt awful when I was teaching and couldn’t figure out the pronunciation of someone’s name when it was something like Genyphur very quickly. I felt even worse when it was an ethnic name that I didn’t get right. It’s their name, and I think people have the right to ask to be called by their name.

            Asking all the students to say who they were and what their preferred name was at the beginning of the first class solved a lot of issues with this and made things go a lot smoother. I think in a lot of my paperwork actually for jobs when I first started I had the option to choose a preferred name, now that I think about it.

            1. JS*

              As a african american, I putting it out there right now we want no associations with claiming Genyphur XD.

          2. Observer*

            The eye-rolls tend to be about the “creative” spellings not the ethnic variations. And it’s generally which are which.

            Of course, the eye-roll is generally fleeting, even then, because who has the time and energy to focus on this stuff? OK, if you are a teacher and think that you’re job is to teach kids everything, including their names, then I can see that. But anyone else? Why would anyone care that much?

            And, regardless, you call people what they want to be called, not what you want to call them.

        3. JS*

          Same. I remember seeing the clip, which is now a meme of a woman who spelled ‘Erica’, Airwrecka. I’m sorry but you can’t help but LOL on the inside at names like those.

        1. Observer*

          Part 2 is also hysterical – but also really sad. It plays to every negative stereotype of the “inner city” there is.

        1. Not a Morning Person*

          It gets to the point! Use the names people are given and don’t be rude about someone’s name.

      4. Anne (with an "e")*

        I am a teacher. I would never, ever do this. I can’t imagine not spelling a student’s name the way the student and their parents want it spelled. The spelling of one’s name is important. Please note my handle on this site.

        I also do not understand this teacher’s superiors. At my school, I am 99.99% certain that if a teacher refused to spell a student’s name the way the parents wanted, then that teacher would be disciplined in some way.

        FWIW, I was taught by my own parents that a family could choose to spell a name “Wxyz” and then pronounce it “Amy” if they wanted to.

    20. Apostrophina*

      This is something I’ve always done on my own when there was anyone else with my name in a classroom or an office, but the thing is… I *really* don’t like the nickname, I’m starting to sort of question the mental processes behind my doing that in the first place, and now I can’t get it to go away even when the other “Jennifer” who worked here is long gone. It’s very frustrating.

      1. Jules the Third*

        It’s your name. You don’t have to change it. People will figure it out, or you can figure out a way to make it work, like last syllables or ‘Jennifer in Accounting’

    21. MechanicalPencil*

      There’s a joke in my department that if you’re a Fergus or a Wakeen, it’s a point in your favor to getting you hired. I can think of three guys named Fergus. At least two are a Wakeen. We just go by last names if it gets confusing, but generally it doesn’t. I have two Fergusinas on my team, and we use last names there as well, or just Fergusina X and Fergusina Y, but generally no one is terribly confused unless on a conference call trying to get a specific Fergusina’s attention. Everyone still has their individual identity and no one is reduced to a nickname.

    22. chomps84*

      Yep, this is so wrong. I’m a Laura and from middle school through college there were always at least a dozen other lauras, lauries, or laurens either in my grade or at the same school. Hell, my high school friend group had THREE Lauras in it. Everyone called us by our last names. I was okay with that, but I would not be okay being asked by a supervisor to go by a nickname since I do not have an nickname (well, I have a couple, but only friends use them and they are based on my last name, not my first).

      Also, it’s honestly not that big a deal to have someone who shares your last name. I dealt with it for 11 years. Not a big deal.

    23. JS*

      I disagree that asking is bad. You can ask her “Do you have a nickname you go by or should we just refer to you as Jennifer?” which is different than asking “Can I call you Jenny?” There is less pressure because the ball would be in her court to supply a nickname, if she even has one she wants to go by.

    24. puzzld*

      One of my co-workers was renamed when she started here… 40 years ago. She’d still rather go by her real name, but has given up.

      My sister in law and I share a first name. My brother and one of my cousins share a first name, other cousin and his wife share a first name (she declined to change her last name for some reason :) ) and yet some how we manage to survive family gatherings. Cope.

    25. Facepalm*

      I had an awful teacher in the 6th grade (Mrs. Hill, I’m calling you out!) who hated my name. I had been going to the same small school since I was 2 years old, but Mrs. Hill was hired my 6th grade year and couldn’t handle that I was a girl who had a traditionally male name, and set out to feminize it. She announced since there were 4 of us with the same name in the same grade (spread out over 2 classes), she was going to call me by my feminine middle name. (For example Renee instead of Steven) I agreed, because what else was I going to do when someone with power over me insisted? Every time she called me “Renee” I got angrier and angrier and it all came to a head when I blacked out my middle name, which she’d written on a test, and wrote my first name over it. She told me I was defacing her test and tried to make me erase my own name and I told her it was MY NAME. I finally told my mother what had been going on and she was livid. It stopped immediately after she went to the principal. As an adult, almost 25 years later, I’m still furious.

      OP, just….wtf.

    26. DivineMissL*

      I’m sharing this because it always makes me laugh. My son is named Matthew (goes by Matt) and I knew when he was born that he would run into a million other Matts in his lifetime. In middle school, he and his like-named classmates formed “The Order of the Matts” and gave each other alternate names (Kevin, Roger, George, etc.) to refer to each other, and the teachers used these names as well. They are in high school now and still call each other by their Order Names.

      1. SarahKay*

        I love “The Order of the Matts”, and the voluntary (which is the vital difference, of course) renaming.

      2. AKchic*

        My oldest is a Matt. He gave himself the nickname Bob in junior high. He has a stepfather named Rob, and a step-grandfather named Bob. Yeah… well thought out plan, right?

      3. Name conversations are always the best*

        My brother is a Nicholas (Nick), and his best friend growing up was also a Nick. My mom used to refer to them collectively as The Dime.

    27. JS*

      Oh my gosh. This is exactly my story, except with a VERY similar name. It was my first career job too and I didn’t want to rock the boat. I got stuck with a shortened form of my name and could NEVER totally shake it. My company email address was notmyname@companyname. I never forgave my boss for the name change. It seriously is a big deal!

      1. JS#2*

        I just realized there’s another person on this thread with the same user name as me. Seems apropos.

    28. NOT Reba*

      I worked in a very small government cultural agency — a total of three people — and my director was also named Rebecca. She asked me to go by a nickname so that people wouldn’t get us confused. Being young and not understanding the importance of a professional name, I agreed to go by my family nickname “Reba”. It took about a week for me to come to my senses and announce I would use “Rebecca”. Rebecca’s mother called me at work and yelled at me at length for going by Rebecca, that she named her daughter Rebecca and she had the right to use the name. I should have recognized then and there that this place was going to be a disaster!

        1. NOT Reba*

          Yes, my director’s mother, who did not work there, called me to loudly complain that I was using “Rebecca,” and that it was unfair to her daughter. She somehow thought that my director had exclusive right to our name I guess.

    29. J.*

      Yeah, there’s a Jennifer who’s very high up in my organization, then there’s me and several others who are not. (Name not changed, I feel pretty safe declaring that J = Jennifer, the vanilla of names.) It’s almost always clear which Jen they mean when we say “Jen,” and if it’s not, we’ll use last names to disambiguate. It’s not really that difficult.

    30. JP*

      My former boss goes by a nickname that is the same as my name (not a nickname). When I interviewed she kept asking if I went by any other names (!) and sort of kept pressing me to say yes. I was young and naive at the time and didn’t know what to say except no, that’s all I’m known by. It didn’t stop her from trying to call me all sorts of things over the years and it didn’t take long to realize she had terrible people skills and this should have been my first clue!

      Please don’t ask your new hire to go by a different name. It’s just icky.

    31. NOT Barb*

      Jennifer, I feel your pain. My name is Barbara and my entire life I’ve struggled with people who shorten it to “Barb” – which I absolutely despise. I normally jump right in and correct them, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people from continuing to do it. I make a point of calling people by the name they introduce themselves as. It’s frustrating and feels disrespectful when people continue to ignore your preference on your own name!

    32. zora*

      Ugh, I’m sorry that happened to you!

      I also was ‘forced’ to change my name for a job, but in this case the opposite direction. I was interviewing for an Assistant Stage Manager job for a tiny theater company run by an egomaniacal woman (as happens in creative industries sometimes.) She and I used the same nickname for our very common name, so let’s say “Sam”. I seemed to do well in the interview then at the end she says, in her posh English accent, “Well, I think you’d be fine, except that I don’t think this will work if you *also* go by Sam, people might get *confused*…….[long, suggestive pause]…” I finally figured out what she was saying, and timidly said, “Oh, well I guess, I could go by Samantha??” Her: “GREAT, YOU’RE HIRED!” And flounced out of the room. (Um, lady, we all know you’re the director and founder of this theater company, no one is going to get confused about who I am.)

      It wasn’t a super big deal, I guess, since I don’t hate Samantha, but it was definitely weird and I never got used to going by my full name. Luckily, I was moving away to a different college the next year, so I was able to switch back to Sam without any difficulty. But yeah, I would be irritated if there were still people calling me Samantha just because I was too timid very early in my career.

    33. a*

      Our library hired a new employee with the same first name as another librarian. The director of the library told the new employee that she would be called by her middle name, because the director wouldn’t be able to easily distinguish between them otherwise. For some reason, the new employee agreed to this. So, a couple of the other librarians call her duplicatefirstname middlename…but only out of the director’s hearing, because she’s kind of easily offended.

      Meanwhile, we currently have two trainees with the same first and last name. Different middle initials, but it should be fun to try and keep straight in the future!

    34. KimberlyR*

      I agree with this! I joined a company that already had a “Jenny” (names changed) and everyone defaulted to calling me Jenny as well, when I actually prefer Jennifer. I introduce myself as Jennifer, I have all my correspondence set to Jennifer, but I am doomed to be Jenny. (It isn’t bad enough that I feel like making a big deal out of changing it. It just isn’t my preference.) All this to say-call her by her preferred name no matter what.

    35. PhyllisB*

      This reminds me of the letter Alison got from a man named Matthew. There was already a Matthew there, so his boss decided he would be called Matt. The problem is, he had never been called Matt and didn’t want to be called that. In my case, I have a sister-in-law with the same exact name as me, and they all decided to refer to me as Phyllis Middle Name. (She wasn’t married at the time so we couldn’t do PhyllisB because we were BOTH PhyllisB) I didn’t really want to do that; but I went along because I understand that in a family it gets to be a pain to say, “not you, the other one.” In our own household my husband and son have the same first name. Usually no big deal because my son uses his middle name. But when I get people calling wanting to ask to speak to R, I have to ask which one.

      But in a work case I would think it would be doable. The only way I could see this fly is if you ask her does she have a nickname that she likes to use. It very well could be that she’s usually called Mandy but felt like to be professional she should use her full name. But if she says no to having a nickname then drop it.

    36. bananas*

      This is exactly my story – three Jennifers, and I was the last one. Except they called me Jen. I hate the name Jen. Still mad that I didn’t say anything about this 20 years later. Grrr.

  2. A Rose by any other name...*

    When I first read letter #2 I immediately thought that the letter writer must be from the UK and not American due to some of the phrasing (petrol, skint etc.). But then words like “organization” and “behavior” are spelled the American way, not the UK way (orginisation, behaviour) so that made me unsure.

    The only reason I bring this up is because employment protections are much stronger in the UK than here in American. I can’t see this going over well anywhere and the company, the letter writer and Arya could be in for a world of hurt over Arya’s actions, but from what I know about employment law in the UK it could be even worse there.

    You need to put a stop to this immediately LW #2. Arya needs to be shut down.

    1. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

      Alison changes spelling to Americanized ways but tends to leave the identifying characteristics like petrol in there. I assumed the poster was from UK or Australia at the petrol usage as well.

        1. QE1*

          Well please don’t. You are expending energy on a task that at best is pointless and worse patronising.

          1. Myrin*

            In an ironic twist, this comment is sounding quite patronising itself!

            (I mean, I don’t get the consistency argument, either, especially when it pertains only to spelling, but this is Alison’s site and she’s always done it this way, so it’s really not on any of us to try and tell her how she should run her column!)

            1. Cambridge Comma*

              Journalism research shows that readers trust the article more when it is edited like this. I don’t know whether that’s why Alison does it, but it’s one reason why it is done.

              1. Cambridge Comma*

                And also, if Alison didn’t standardize some things, each letter writer would have different usage choices, which would be incredibly distracting particularly in a five letter post.

          2. Liane*

            QE! & Myrin:
            She does one but not the other, because it’s standard to do that when editing. The blog I write and edit for is based in the USA but has some writers from Europe. Americanizing spelling and grammar (looking at you, single & double quote marks) but not British/Australian/UK words like petrol is the correct way to do it.
            Would anyone here change how they (correctly) do some job duty because Random Person says they think “X is an odd way to do it” or “Your way takes more time”?

            1. Myrin*

              I had no idea that’s a thing in (English, I’m not a native speaker) editing, that’s so interesting! Thanks for explaining!

              1. Tau*

                I ran across this in Germany once, when my school told me that I was allowed to use either American spelling or British spelling in my English exams, but mixing would get one of the two marked as incorrect. This proved to require some concentration, since I’d learned English in the US but was now being taught British English in class, and I never quite understood why the teachers were so adamant about it.

                (Of course, we won’t even mention the complete mess that is correct German spelling.)

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I can’t think of any publication that doesn’t standardize spelling; while I’m sure there must be some that don’t, it’s a normal thing to do when copy editing.

          4. E.*

            Yikes QE1, it’s neither of those things. All (major) websites choose one style and stick with it. Obviously as an American (and running a site where, as far as I can tell, the letter writers and commenters are also largely American), Alison is going to use U.S. spellings.

          5. MsChanandlerBong*

            Boy, I wish my biggest problem in life was whether somebody I don’t know on a website I don’t own prefers to use U.S. or UK English.

    2. Gaia*

      Even outside of the potential legal issues this is just insanely inappropriate. As someone that manages a team, I can’t imagine every asking them for even the smallest amount of money! I don’t even let them buy my hot chocolate when we go for a coffee meeting at the local coffee shop. Not only do I know that I earn more than they do, I don’t want them to ever feel pressured to say yes or offer if they otherwise wouldn’t because they worry their job could be at risk.

      1. A*

        It honestly sounds like a scam? I’m sort of reminded of rumors that politicians would have all the cityworkers give them a christmas card with a $50 “gift” (or maybe it was $5, I forget) – I guess there’s less people involved here but still. If she was hitting up 3 people for $10/day, M-F, 48 weeks a year that’s around $7K. Wonder if she’s pocketing anything else around the company!

        1. RC*

          Not defending or excusing Arya at all because her actions are terrible, but assuming asking people for money means she is stealing or embezzling is a pretty big leap and there’s no evidence to suggest that’s what is happening.

          1. Massmatt*

            I completely disagree. We have evidence of the employee living above her means AND behaving unethically for money. It would be remiss NOT to consider whether she might be trying to obtain money from the company’s petty cash etc also. IMO there is a huge potential liability here, not just from Arya’s borrowing from the staff but from ignoring a big warning sign and failing to protect the company from loss.

            OP, check whatever company funds she has access to before you speak to her.

            Stop worrying about Arya’s feelings and protect the employees, the company, and yourself.

            1. Iris Eyes*

              Agreed, its not enough to accuse her certainly but its definitely worth a look-see. There is certainly potential for shadiness with her in the payroll department.

            2. eplawyer*

              this was my thought. she’s in payroll for goodness sake and is asking for money because she is skint (I love that word). Is she skimming? Creating a fake employee? Who knows.

              Not only shut it down, but bring in the auditors to double check everything she has touched. If there is nothing there fine. But better to do it and find nothing then discover she has embezzled thousands of dollars from the company. In that case, she won’t be the only one out of a job.

          2. I heart Paul Buchman*

            I’m not sure this is true. I would have assumed that showing signs of financial distress plus signs of breaking pretty important social taboos (asking co-workers for money) would be warning signs for white collar fraud.

            My first thought was gambling problems and then I thought perhaps a financially abusive partner. I have no way to know what is going on but this isn’t standard behaviour for a professional on a good wage.

            1. LCL*

              Yeah, in my part of the world, which is not where OP is from, gambling problems would be the first guess, followed by drugs. You are totally right that this is a warning sign for fraud. Or flat-out theft.

          3. Rat in the Sugar*

            Well, I don’t see a reason to assume it at this point, but it would still be safer to keep an eye on her work and ensure all your professional processes and controls are being followed.

            It’s been a while since my Accounting 101 class, but if I recall the three points for potential fraud correctly (means, motive, justification), she’s hitting all three. Means– she works in payroll. Motive — she needs money. Justification — she’s not respecting professional standards of behavior with regards to her subordinates, which may mean she doesn’t respect other professional ethics. No need to assume anything, just check your controls and make sure everyone’s following the proper procedures and that should prevent dishonesty.

          4. I'm A Little TeaPot*

            Technically, it would be considered a risk factor. Not a smoking gun obviously, but something to keep an eye on.

          5. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

            I think it’s more the combo of inappropriateness (asking subordinates) and the persistence (on a nearly daily basis!?!) that is the warning sign. I doubt A is assuming that anybody who asks for money is a potential embezzler.

          6. JS*

            I think it would all depend on what her access to actual liquid cash is. Is she cashing checks and making deposits? Or is it all electronic?

          7. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

            If you’ve ever had a clearance check for a financial position, they ask exactly this kind of thing. Financial instability is a huge flag for fraud. They don’t want someone without boundaries or financial instability to be accountable for wads of cash.

            However there’s no evidence she’s anywhere near money.

          8. Observer*

            Well, the fact that she’s regularly asking for money from her direct reports is clear evidence that she has ethical issues and entitlement when it comes to money that is not hers. Which is not proof that she’s stealing anything else. But it IS a good reason to have suspicions.

          9. Kate 2*

            Agree with Massmatt. Mountains of research show that almost every single person who commits fraud does those two things: live above their means, and ask for money/show signs of cash flow problems.

            I work in finance and it is company policy, may also be federal policy, that we report people showing any of those signs. It is actually *required* and if we don’t report them, given that these are almost always signs of fraud, we may be legally liable too. I forget exactly what it’s called, something like “blind eye” or “willful blindness”, but it is really serious.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m just agog that Arya thinks it’s ok to do this once, let alone several times. This is such an abuse of her authority/position, and it’s deeply unfair to her coworkers. If she’s having financial difficulties, she’s going to have to come up with a plan that does not include hitting up her coworkers.

      1. Oilpress*

        I want to know if anyone actually gave her the money or if it was just casually short-term loaned to her and paid back promptly. I can’t imagine anyone just giving Arya money in this situation, even if she is their boss. I’d understand it more if Arya was asking for some third party charity, but this is for her own personal benefit and extremely weird.

        I wonder if this is just a misunderstanding through hearsay because the alternative is just so bizarre.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          We’ve had multiple letters about similar situations before. Definitely believable to me!

        2. AMT*

          I would still feel weird about that. Her subordinates could plausibly feel unable to say no even if it was just a “spot me a $20 before I go to the ATM” situation.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            I’d be tempted to give her the name of the nearest thrift shop and the nearest dollar store.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          > I can’t imagine anyone just giving Arya money in this situation, even if she is their boss.
          Believe it. Work hard on believing it. It really happens, and this is one example.

          > I wonder if this is just a misunderstanding through hearsay
          Well, the OP says this: “It has come to my attention Arya keeps asking Robb, Bran, Rickon, and Sansa for money. It is nearly a daily occurrence.”

          You may not know that this is a common thing that people hear when they complain of bad treatment, but “You must have misunderstood” is a very bad look when they were there and you weren’t.

    4. Engineer Woman*

      Yes: OP #2 must immediately shut this down. Wow! I hope this came to OP’s attention after only a few times of Arya asking and also hope the group said no to her because this is such egregious behavior.

      As to the question: how to address to be clear she can’t do this while being sensitive – “it sounds like you’re having financial difficulties and I’m sorry that is happening. However: you CANNOT, I repeat, CANNOT ask any colleagues and especially those who report to you for money. Do you understand? You CANNOT do this.”

      1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

        Also add, “Any monies that you have borrowed must be repaid in full, immediately”.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          I’d even drop the “borrowed” language. “Any monies RECEIVED must be repaid in full, immediately.” That way she can’t argue that the money was a gift and therefore not borrowed and doesn’t have to be repaid. I admit that I have a guilty pleasure of watching “court” TV shows like People’s Court and it seems like the defendant is always, “It was a gift! I never promised to pay them back…”

      2. Snark*

        Yeah, I’d take a very hard line on this – harder than Alison’s, no surprise there, and similar to you. It’s just SO INSANELY inappropriate.

    5. Daria Grace*

      These vocabulary choices could be Australian. Not a lawyer, but provided you followed common sense (gave warnings ect) I’m pretty sure you’d usually be fine firing them fairly promptly here unless you were in the unlikely circumstance of a contract or union agreement requiring more complex steps

    6. Artemesia*

      This woman needs to be fired. This is totally outrageous. It would be inappropriate for a co-worker and such a person should be cautioned to stop. But for a manager who is paid more to do this to subordinates is very abusive. She ought to be fired. At minimum she gets a final warning. I am not buying some horrible financial burden when she is taking fancy vacations.

        1. AMT*

          I might unless I knew that her performance and conduct up until then had always been impeccable. This is the kind of thing a manager shouldn’t need to be told. There’s no context in which it wouldn’t reflect horrible judgment.

    7. Discordia Angel Jones*

      I’m a UK lawyer and off the top of my head I can’t think of any actual laws that Arya is breaking here.

      We definitely have much stronger employment protection here and conversely that means the *company* could be in trouble if they don’t deal with firing Arya through the correct methods, but honestly I can’t think of anything which would make a manager asking employees for money illegal in the UK (although, technically, I should say, England and Wales, not UK).

      Of course, although probably not illegal, Arya’s behaviour is unacceptable and should be dealt with and put a stop to.

      1. Media Monkey*

        i was trying to think the same thing. it wouldn’t be a reason to fire in the UK (you’d need more than that as she will have a contract) but it needs shutting down straight away!

        1. Observer*

          Extorting money from subordinates is not reason for firing – at least once she’s been warned? That’s horrifying, to be honest.

          1. Discordia Angel Jones*

            Late response but @Observer, yes it is a reason for firing in the UK, just it probably doesn’t merit immediate firing.

            They would need to follow the warning then firing process.

            1. Media Monkey*

              even later response but i didn’t read the above as “extorting”. if she threatened to fire them if they didn’t lend her money then of course you could fire her, but that’s not how I read the letter. if she asked them to lend her money and they could agree or not, then i’m not sure what law that would break. IANAL tho and clearly DAJones is.

              1. Observer*

                Uh, no. The power imbalance means that it’s extortion. Note, as well, that she’s not asking up or even parallel. Which absolutely reinforces the very valid perception that she’s using her position.

                There are good reasons that most workplaces, even ones that don’t have a problem with workplace romances, have flat out bans on relationships between boss and someone in their reporting chain. One of them is that the power differential makes for muddying of consent.

      2. Topcat*

        Arya is clearly a junkie (or just possibly has vast debts from credit card overspending/gambling) but I’d lay my money on a middle class drug habit.

        In which case, depending on the jurisdiction, she may be able to claim some kind of medical issue (mental health, drug addiction if it’s counted as a protected illness) and cause all sorts of nonsense.

        HR needs to lawyer up and do everything by the book.

  3. Gaia*

    I have an exceedingly common name (nearly every girl in the US born within 5 years of me has my first name as either their first or middle name – okay probably not that common but it feels like it!). My senior class of 200 had 11 girls with my name. 4 of us also had the same middle name. My parents had no creative energy for naming.

    Every company I’ve worked for had multiple women with the same name as me. Until Current Job. We have about 1,500 employees globally and there are 3 Gaias. Gaia2 and I were the only two until Gaia3 was hired last month. Gaia2 and I have a running joke now that we should start screening applicants to avoid a Gaia4 so we can preserve this little nook of low-Gaia population. It is funny because *of course* we’d never actually do that.

    You can’t make people change their name just because you share their name. Find another way.

    1. SignalLost*

      I have a really uncommon name (number 496 the year I was born!) and I now work directly with a woman who has the same name. Worse, some daily roles use radios to communicate and she and I are often assigned radios. I’m considering switching to my initials just to cut down on the radio calls of “which one?!” She prefers people use her role to call her and my name to call me, at least very slightly, but isn’t averse to the initials solution. I haven’t gone ahead with this plan yet because a) I’m actively job searching, and b) my initials are CJ and we have another person who often has a radio who goes by JJ, so we might get confusion there (but not if everyone starts calling me Ceej, pronounced siege, which is what usually happens.)

      OP 1, you will notice that at no point did I suggest telling my colleagues they need to go by other names. If you feel that strongly about it, that people have never once before in the history of ever had to work out that multiple people have the same name, change the name you use to a nickname. You really cannot ask someone else to change their name because you were hired first and that functions as dibs.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        Ah the radios. “I’m not responding because you’re radioing for Jessica Jones and I’m Jessica Smith!”

      2. ElspethGC*

        I can’t find any stats for my name in the UK, but apparently in the US it was 8,165 in the rankings. Eleven babies given my name in that year. It’s more than that in the UK, since it’s a Scottish name, but it’s never appeared in the top 1,000 most popular as far as I can tell. And yet, there were three of us in a school of 1,800. If anyone tries to give me a nickname at work, that’s going to get shut down ASAP. Beth, Ellie, Elsie etc are nice enough names, but they’re not my name! Girls at my school complained that it was “too hard” and tried to call me Ellie, but I just never responded. Not my name, not my business. Besides, there were always at least two Ellies in any given class – why add another?

      3. LCL*

        If radio use by multiple people is a regular thing, you really should be using numbers for safety. It makes it much easier to figure out who is where if someone gets hurt.

      4. Student*

        There’s a reason that radio users often go with call signs. Radios can easily garble speech, so call signs are a good solution for similar names as well as identical names. Those might be numbers, or might be roles/titles, locations, or nicknames, or just fun names. That’s also very different than just calling someone professionally by a different name than they prefer – you’re doing it for a specific reason in a narrow context, and if you had two people with the name “Amanda” you’d probably reassign both of them a call sign.

        Last site I was on that used radios had a mix of call signs depending on what we needed. Important people got called by either title/role or fun name at their preference – “Director” and “Big Dog” and “Driver” were some of those. Locations that we called in were things like “Control Room” and “South Field” and so on, so we didn’t have to memorize who was covering the south field that specific day but it was clear we needed to talk to somebody in the south field.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I also have a really common name (it’s not Ruth). It’s been in the top few names for a handful of years either side of my birth. I shared my name with 3 others in my highschool form (and more in the year group) and have almost never been the only person of my name in any group or class etc I’m in. It’s a name that can be nicknamed but isn’t commonly nicknamed (think like Laura as opposed to Rebecca).

      My brother’s long-term partner also has the same name as me.

      And relevant to this, my previous boss shared my name. When I answered her phone for her I would not say ‘(name) speaking’ or they’d just launch in assuming I was her. Instead I just answered without stating my name. If they asked ‘is that (name)’ I would say ‘yes but not (name) (her lasname), can I take a message?’

      I am very used to being addressed or referred to by my full name (first and last) or with my surname initial tacked on eg. “Ruth U”

      However it doesn’t actually cause that many problems or too much confusion. I think op 1 might think the confusion level will be higher than it really will if they both just use the same name (so perhaps isn’t used to people sharing their name).

      My brother has quite an uncommon name though it’s rising in popularity. He was the only person I knew of his name until uni. When he (very occasionally) meets someone else of his name, he gets kind of freaked out.

      1. Jennifleurs*

        Ooh yes, I have a name which is basically unknown in England and common in Scotland, and finding people with my name is Weird.

    3. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

      Let me guess: LAUREN. :) Omg Lauren Lauren Lauren as far as the eye can see.

      We have about 100 people in our division and one longtime employee Lauren. There was one brief moment, only lasted about a month, where she was the only Lauren. She’s like, wow, this has never happened to me before. Didn’t last long. We are now back to our standard with four Laurens.

      It’s really very easy, just Lauren + last initial or full last name (if initials are duplicated). You don’t ask someone if they will go by Laurie.

      1. Wakeen Teaptots, LTD*

        btw if you are going to have a super common name, it is great when it is a name as solid and elegant as “Lauren”. :) I love that name.

      2. grace*

        Or Elizabeth :-) My first name isn’t grace, but my middle name is elizabeth – I met no less than 4 of them one year in my classes who had the exact same first/middle name combination. I love both of my names, but I’ve sworn I’ll never name a kid something this unoriginal, lol.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I’ve a classical musician and more than once I’ve been in orchestra with other Elizabeths and/or Elisabeths – I actually spell my full name with an S and yes, I played in an orchestra with another Elisabeth. She went by Elisabeth because she had never in her whole life gone by a nickname, and it worked out fine because 98% of my life I’ve gone by Liz. I never paid attention when someone said “Elisabeth” because that isn’t who I am, I’m “Liz.” But sometimes my colleagues would get confused and actually be trying to get my attention when they said “Elisabeth.” It wasn’t a huge deal, though. I mean, sure, it took an extra 10 seconds for us to realize this, but it was NBD.

          In my current office of ~15 we have two Emilys, who we just call “Emily [Lastname] when necessary, and also one each of: Kate, Katie, Kaitlyn, Kimberly. We used to have two Megans but Megan2 was fine with being called Meg. Our office is all women, which means we get overlapping names more than most orgs, I bet, but we have no trouble remembering who is who.

          In college we had several Emilys in our dorm and one of them we called Emi to try to avoid confusion, but it really didn’t help, we still often had to use last names. (Funny, I went to an all-women’s college too.)

          One strange thing, though, is that in all legal and medical situations I am “Elisabeth.” I *once* put down on a dental form that my nickname was Liz and got hella confused when they’d call for Liz in the waiting room. Never again. It just feels weird, I don’t know why.

          TL;DR: OP, it’s really not a big deal if both you and the new hire go by the same first name and use your last names. If she wants to use a nickname she certainly can but even then, to avoid confusing volunteers I suspect you’ll have to use your last names a lot anyway because that’s easier to remember than full vs. nicknames for the people whose names they are not.

        2. Geillis D*

          The beauty of it all is, you can never know.
          My oldest was born years before GoT, and I haven’t read the books when I was contemplating baby names. I gave her a lovely and meaningful (to me) non-English name, standard but not too common in our country at the time.

          You can guess what happened. She has to tell everyone and their cousin that no, she was not named after that GoT character.

          1. PhyllisB*

            My oldest daughter will never have this problem. Her name is Marbi. (Of course, when she was young some referred to her as Barbie…) Luckily, she loves her name. When my youngest daughter was born, we named her Bethany; at the time that was not very common. Of course now there are Bethanys everywhere. She would get so mad when the teachers/coaches wanted to call her Beth because there would be another Bethany in the group.

        1. Jules the Third*

          Two of my closest friends were Jennifer Lynn and Jennifer Ann, born in 1972 . I think the Jennifer thing only got stronger over the next decade.

      1. J.*

        Truly the era of Peak Jennifer. I graduated from high school in 1999 and fully 15% of my graduating class (all girls’ school) was named Jennifer.

    4. Flower*

      Similarly, my name is a very stereotypical female name that was less common around my birth year, though I actually got lucky and didn’t really have any others with my name in non-PE classes or extracurricular activities until my junior year in high school (though I certainly knew others with my name and not infrequently waitresses are name buddies), at which point someone with the same spelling and last initial was in multiple clubs and classes with me. It has common spelling variants and a bunch of similar sounding names (think Caitlin, but with fewer common variations, just as many nicknames, and more similar sounding names) so I often have the “Caitlin with a C or Katelyn with a K?” or “Caitlin or Katie?” questions. Last time it came up someone jokingly made nicknames that emphasized the spelling difference, but it quickly became clear it wasn’t an issue anyway. I do have one friend who jokes that when he met me he knew we had to be friends because his closest friends in the last three places he lived were “Kate, Katie, and KateLYN” and I’m “CAITlyn”.

    5. BlueWolf*

      Yep, growing up there was usually at least one other student in my class with the same first name as me. Fortunately, it seems it only started being popular in the late 80s/early 90s, so I haven’t actually come across too many people at my office with the same name since I am on the younger side for my company I think.

    6. anycat*

      Laura? there were three of us in my 32 person elementary school – two of us had the same last initial. High school there were even more of us, but at least my class had 152 girls in it.

      When I got married I thought of changing my first name to me by first and middle, but everyone thought that was dumb. So now I legally have two middle names, and get odd spellings of Laura all the time..

  4. Sami*

    OP#1– I would really side eye anyone who asked me to go by another name. People WILL figure it out. Listen to Alison- don’t ask this of anyone.

    1. LeRainDrop*

      I agree. I worked in a firm where our local department had three Christines*, two Joes*, and two Dans*, among others. One of the Christines was the department head. We really had no trouble telling who was who or speaking with clients, as it was pretty clear from the context which person we meant. Our if the context was ambiguous, we could say Christine D or Christine W.

      *Not actually these names, but other very common names.

      1. T3k*

        Same. Last company I was at had numerous Chris(topher)s (at least 10 of them) but we easily kept them apart by last name initial and job function.

      2. only acting normal*

        Same here. I’m regularly in meetings where Mikes and Davids and Matts outnumber the women present.
        I also once worked in a team with another woman with the same name as me and two women with a similar sounding name (think two Lenas and two Lunas).
        And yet the confusion is minimal. If context isn’t enough we usually just append last initial or name.

      3. Mookie*

        I mean, gather enough people together of the same generational cohort sharing the same language and culture, and you’re bound to be drowning in top ten baby names. This phenomenon has always existed. There are ways around it besides playing Territorial First Dibs with a new hire. That just feels so aggressive a request to me.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Same here. We had several Marks in my old job, but it was clear whether people were talking about Mark the IT tech, Mark the academic department head, Marc the faculty member in another academic department, etc. We did joke around that we were full up of Marks and didn’t need to hire any more, but it wasn’t a “major snag” or any sort of problem.

    2. Nasturtium*

      I have a fairly uncommon name, and at one of my jobs when I was in college they asked me if they could call me something else, because their supervisor in another city had the same first name as me, and they didn’t want any confusion. I told them they could call me by my middle name, but since I wasn’t used to being called that I tended to not respond. (Not on purpose — but when someone was saying “Elsie” I didn’t realize they were talking to me). After about a week, they went back to calling me by my actual name, and it was never confusing.

    3. AnonEMoose*

      This. Seriously, OP #1, don’t ask her to go by another name. If someone were to ask this of me, it would be a Big. Deal. It would likely sour the relationship for quite some time, if not permanently.

      My actual first name is not incredibly common, but it’s not super rare, either. And it has umpteen nicknames associated with it. And I do not like being called by ANY of them. I use Full First Name. Always. And have since I was 12. But in my teens and 20s, there were SO MANY PEOPLE who thought it was ok to just rename me according to their whims.

      I’d be introduced by Full Name, and they’d be like “I’ll just call you [NICKNAME].” And I’d be like “I go by Full Name,” and they would get so offended. “Well, I’m just trying to be friendly!” “Full Name is SO FORMAL!”It was infuriating and frustrating. Also the ones who’d respond to the introduction with “Hi, [NICKNAME]!” A few times, I even got “Well, what does your mother call you?” And I’d be thinking “Why does that even matter?! You’re not my mother!” I took some pleasure in giving them a cold look and saying “She calls me Full Name” (because she does, because she knows that’s what I prefer and she’s not an asshole).

      Slightly less awful were the ones who’d at least bother to ask. “Can I call you…?” “Do you ever go by…?” But it was still annoying. I introduced myself as I did because that’s what I want you to call me.

      Sorry for the rant. But as Alison and other posters have said, names are personal. And it’s not cool to rename someone for your convenience. It’s their name; they get to choose. There’s no way for it to not come across as rude and a power play, because it would be both. How about asking her how she’d like to handle it, instead? She might say “I go by Mandy, anyway, so we can do that.” Or she might have another idea.

      Way back, I had a job where there were about 5 guys named Chris. We tended to refer to them by their last names, but call them “Chris” when they were actually present. We tended to use last names like that a lot, anyway, so it worked out well enough and none of them seemed to mind. It’s just a think that happens sometimes, and people work it out.

      1. Positive Reframer*

        Yes! I developed strong feelings about my name and going by my full name despite my parents wanting me to go by nickname. There are special individuals that can get away with using a nickname but there is one that is absolutely not ok ever, as it is a common one for people in the generation before but rarely in my age group. Think something like Betty for Elizabeth.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Yeah, I have one or two friends who are allowed to use very specific nicknames. But they tend not to use them in public because I don’t want other people picking up on them.

          I would honestly prefer that people use an endearment, rather than a nickname, if they feel they really must use something other than Full First Name. So my husband either uses my name or calls me “love,” or “dear,” or something like that. My best friend and I call each other “hon,” all the time. But if you’re not that level of close to me…just call me what I want to be called; it’s not that difficult!

  5. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

    We just called people by their full names when they had the same name when I arrived. Yet we hired two Ryan’s after I started and Voldemort had his mind blown wide open by it…like for some reason he suddenly thought we needed to rename one or both, they weren’t even in the same department.

    I have a name that has a nickname that infuriates me when called that by anyone not my immediate family. I would bristle at the suggestion I shorten or change my name. Just make sure your internal controls are in place so New Sarah isn’t getting the calls or visitors for you. It just takes getting used to.

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      Or in my case, where I associate not being called by my nickname with people being angry at me, and therefore there’s only a handful of people (not even my parents) who can do it without having that effect, even if they mean nothing of the sort by calling me by my full name.

      People find a way. My sister was one of five Angelas at her OldJob and in the same department, and yet there was seldom any confusion — either by specifying the last name (Angela Smith) or the specific area (Angela in first grade) in her case.

      1. curly sue*

        We have a department of five, two with the same name, and they’re often in the same space, working with the same people. They’re either ‘Sara Q’ and ‘Sarah X’* or ‘Llama-Sara’ and ‘Alpaca-Sarah.’ It works itself out.

        (*not the real names)

      2. WS*

        Specifying works fine. We had Big Tina, Little Tina and then added Greek Tina, all in sales. All of them went by just “Tina”, even though Little Tina and Greek Tina were actually both called Christina and didn’t like it!

      3. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        I totally get that too. My partner goes by the shortened version. Think Nick instead of Nicholas. He doesn’t associate his formal name as having someone mad at him but he loathes being called by it. Some people think they’re being cute by formalizing it, it’s not cute at all and he lets them know.

    2. krysb*

      That’s what we do, too. When we refer to our company president, we still call him FirstName LastName, because when he started, there was another guy with the same first name. The other guy left the company, like, five years ago, but we still do it.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      I wonder if Voldemort is the same guy who couldn’t cope when my cousin’s husband went on a business trip with a guy who shared his first name. He said to my cousin’s husband “Y’know, you don’t look like a Richard. I’m gonna call you Marvin.” and then addressed him as Marv throughout the entire trip. (My other cousin tried to make Marv stick but it didn’t work.)

      1. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        That sounds like something that guy would try. He fancied himself a real laugh a minute (we laughed at him mostly).

  6. Eleven*

    Last year my supervisors were named Kaitlyn, Katelyn, and Katie and there really wasn’t an issue. We just referred to them by their full names as needed. I roomed in college with someone as the same name as me, and we chose to live together. It wasn’t confusing at all. Tons of people share the same name. It is a) not a big deal and b) not confusing. OP #1 needs to stop worrying so much.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        We had three Jolenes once and ex boss used to call me that too by mistake (as Jemima has same first letter). He was most apologetic and in the end started calling me Dave as a self deprecatory joke which I found quite amusing. (I have changed the J names but “Dave” is the actual truth)

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Aw, I’m vaguely disappointed that there wasn’t actually a small herd of Jolenes!

          I would also have laughed at being called Dave.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          “I have changed the J names”

          That’s a shame, because if you hadn’t, then when you wanted to call them you could go “Jolene, Jolene, Jo-leeeeeen,” and we all need more Dolly Parton in the world.

        1. Hellanon*

          A few years back it seemed at graduation that 10% of the student body was either Brittany or Ashley.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, when I moved to my current office we had 4 ‘Sue’s, (In an office with about 20 people). There was very rarely any confusion, occasionally we had to use someone’s last name, or job (“Do you mean Sue-in-accounts, or Sue-the-admin?” but it was usually obvious from context. In e-mails etc. we’d just add an initial. We are down to one Sue now, but she’s still often referred to as ‘Sue J’ in e-mail, out of habit.

      I agree that you can’t ask / tell someone to change the name they use. Change your own, if it bothers you, or let people work out how to distinguish you. They will work it out. It’s not hard.

    2. Anonymous Ampersand*

      I’ve mentioned here before that at one point in a previous job we had a Christen, a Kirsten and a Kirsty.

      We got confused sometimes, but we managed.

      1. NYC Weez*

        At one job we had something like 9 Daves on a team of ~50 people. The crazy thing was you could say a sentence like “I asked Dave if Dave had finished prepping the files for Dave, but Dave still has to deliver his section, so Dave isn’t going to have it done until tomorrow,” and people would know exactly which Daves were being referred to without further explanation.

        1. One of many Karens*

          I actually found myself sending an email recently that consisted of the following:

          Please see the attached from Karen noting approval of [project].


      2. Christen*

        That’s amazing my name is also Christen (pretty uncommon). I once worked woth two nicoles a nick and a nicollete, I swear there are just pockets of similar names based on like geography or something!

        1. Anonymous Ampersand*

          I wondered for a minute if you were the Christen I knew. I don’t think so. But she was awesome so I presume you are too :)

    3. Raisin's Girl*

      I swear, back in the day I worked in the office with both a Darrell and a Daryl. No matter how hard we tried, we were never able to hire a Larry though.

    4. You don't know me*

      My friend’s daughter’s Girl Scout troop had a Haley, Hailey, Hailee, and Hayleigh. At least I only had Abby, Abby, and Abbey.

      1. Geillis D*

        I never thought there was more than one way to spell Jackson until my daughter started kindergarten. Well, that changed after meeting Jackson, Jaxon, Jaxxon and Jakson.

    5. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      At my last job we had 3 Laura’s (including me) and a Lora. One of them was my boss, and we just used the initial of our last names when referring to each other. I did have one co-worker who wanted to call me by my middle name, but I shut that down pretty fast. I moved to a new company a few years ago and we have 3 Laura’s in my department, so apparently there’s no getting away from it for me.

      1. zora*

        Ha! If you didn’t have a job title in your username, I would think you worked with me! We had 3 Laura’s and a Lauren at one point. And two of the Laura’s had the same last initial, so initials didn’t work.

  7. Tallulah In The Sky*

    #1 : At one point, we had three Yannicks, two Matts and two Johns. None of them have a nickname, and everything was fine. People understand the concept of a first name not being unique. Sometimes the context makes it clear which one you’re talking about, and when it didn’t we either added their first name or mentioned their specific role (“Ask Yannick, the developer, about this”). Or if one of them was close by, pointing works too.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        A large company might have 2 Jane Smiths. Or a Jane Smythe and a Jane Smithson as well!

  8. PJMask*

    I had the same last name as my manager, so he asked me to invent a new last name for myself. He didn’t want customers to think we were related! I was so outraged that I went to the owner of the company, who sided with my manager! I just ignored both of them and continued with my real last name and I guess he just gave up the fight.

    1. Massmatt*

      I would have made some interesting suggestions! Romanadevoratravelundar! Nahasaveemapetillon! Rumplestiltskin! Crapbag! The Artist Formerly Known As PJMask! And of course, Princess Consuela Bananahammock! Oh the possibilities….

      1. Mookie*

        PJMask They Made Me Change My Surname Fookin Nuts Innit
        PJMask This Space Available For Rent
        PJMask MaskyMcMaskface
        PJ ‘MaskSpice’ Mask
        PJMask NoRelation

        1. Parenthetically*

          I am crying laughing at this whole thing “Fookin Nuts Innit” *howls*

    2. Parenthetically*

      Apparently this is fairly common in salons? At least in my area. My friend Chris had to go by an invented name at his salon because apparently you can’t ask clients to start describing “Uh… the Chris with a ponytail? Oh there are two? Uh…”

  9. Free Arya!*

    Am I the only one who wishes people wouldn’t use the names of good/beloved GOT characters as aliases for people who are doing bad behavior in the workplace? (ex. the use of Arya in the second letter). It happens a lot, especially for Arya, and it really jolts me when I read the letter because there is no way the good characters would do the stuff awful bosses/coworkers do.

    1. Mad Baggins*

      I doubt any of the GOT characters would work a desk job or use smartphones but here we are. I don’t see why aliases have to be “in character” when they’re just for ease of comprehension.

    2. Lou*

      Some variety would certainly be nice. How about Rachel and Monica, or Leslie and Ann?

      1. Antilles*

        That’s my thought too – the complete lack of variety is kind of ridiculous.
        There are literally thousands of beloved TV shows on air right now, the oldest movies are over 100 years old, and human literature has existed for millennia…and yet we can’t go more than 2 days without someone using the same pseudonyms from Game of Thrones?

        1. Happy Lurker*

          I actually watched GOT because the names were used so often here. That and my kids kept pestering me to watch it.
          It’s not The American’s, but it’s good enough.

    3. Nonnon*

      If I ever have need to write in here, I’ll make sure to reference something really obscure. Goetic demons or something.

      1. Antilles*

        When I wrote a letter a couple years ago, I intentionally used characters from a video game RPG (Final Fantasy 9) simply because I figured that nobody had ever done that.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        I don’t watch GoT, so I have no attachment to those names, but A) I think I assumed that Alison sometimes changes to those names when someone unthinkingly writes in with the actual names of the coworkers, and B ) I’m surprised we don’t have “Wakeena” in regular use around here yet.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t. Letter writers pick their own names to use. (I have no way of knowing if the names in a letter are the real ones or not.) The only times I change/assign them if it they didn’t use any and it’s confusing, or if the names they picked are confusing (like A, B, C, D).

          1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

            Yeah, wouldn’t it be terrible if you decided to assign more common names and by awful coincidence ended up using some offender’s real name? I don’t watch GoT so have no feeling whatsoever about these names. I will say that if I ever meet a Fergus, I will probably actually laugh and have to come up with some crazy cover story on why that is.

      3. AMT*

        “My coworker, Mahershalalhashbaz, keeps taking items out of my lunch, and my boss, Chushanrishathaim, isn’t much help. Should I go to my grandboss, Zaphnathpaaneah, or speak to our HR rep, Tilgathpilneser?”

        1. Nonnon*

          “My boss, Belphegor, obsessively monitors our loo breaks to see why our productivity is down, but rarely does any of his own work. Please advise?”

          “My boss, Orais, is really into astrology, and has mapped our star charts to determine which roles we shoud take on.”

          One of the bosses who interrupted a funeral or made their assistant put a note on someone’s grave would make a great Bifrons…

    4. WeevilWobble*

      Yeah we have to protect the reputation of an easily manipulated serial killer who threatened to cut her sister’s face off based on flimsy evidence.

      1. Positive Reframer*

        Yes! There are no “good” people in GOT, that’s one of the things that makes GOT, GOT. There are characters who are more sympathetic, there are characters who are less sympathetic. But one of the great things about it is that it shows humanity as not comprised of the Heroes and the Villains, but of broken people pursuing what they see is right who none-the-less can still be held to the choices they make.

    5. Chocolate lover*

      I don’t watch, so if it weren’t for this blog, I wouldn’t even know any of their names. Occasionally I find myself wondering if there’s significance to a particular name being chosen.

      1. Anon-eapolis*

        Agree. And let’s be real, folks. It’s a tv show, not real life. Nothing to get offended about.

      2. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        I’m mostly still struggling to figure out how they’re pronounced. I don’t watch and don’t care to search but I gloss over fast when reading.

      3. EvilQueenRegina*

        I once veered away from a significance – I was using Once Upon a Time characters for pseudonyms and the closest counterpart to one coworker was Henry, but his real name was close enough to that that I didn’t feel I could use it and picked another character name for him.

    6. Magee*

      I agree! There was a letter where the “bad guy” was named Severus and the “good guy” was named Lupin. Though Severus wasn’t that great in the letter, it made me think he had MUCH more sinister motivations than he probably did. It can be hard when you’re a big fan of the book/show/universe of the names being used and you to start to apply the characters’ traits and tendencies to the person being described in the letter.

      1. Fabulous*

        I at least try to somewhat match the name with a similar character when I’ve written. Cercei = head honcho, Sansa = an enemy of Cercei, etc.

      2. Penny Lane*

        Ohmygawd what if someone used Rachel and Monica to describe coworkers but they made Rachel the fussy, uptight one instead of Monica??? How would readers ever cope??? /s

        Get over yourselves, Game of Thrones people. It’s bad enough the rest of us have to suffer through these characters we don’t care about; please don’t insist that they be accurate representations. They’re just names.

        Next we will hear from someone named Jane about how offended she is that Jane was used for the name of a bad employee or manager. Gah.

        1. Jules the Third*

          I lived through that era but never watched more than 1 episode of Friends, Seinfeld or Sex and the City. I wouldn’t know who was uptight and who wasn’t.

          I haven’t seen GoT either, but I still know Cersei’s a boss / villain and Arya’s younger / opposed.

          At least, I would *assume* Cersei is a boss / villain, because she’s a cognate of Circe, right?

          As to Arya – read enough to know she’s an assassin now. I think assuming she wouldn’t do something is pretty… wishful.

      3. Airy*

        One time they used Steven Universe Gem names and I got a bit miffed about it because the hierarchy was wrong and Jasper doesn’t work with Garnet, darn it. If you like a show or book enough to want to use its names as pseudonyms, it just seems like you should try to make them apt!

        1. The Person Who Did That*

          I didn’t choose the names based on the relationships between the characters. I chose them based on the personalities of the people in question.

    7. EvilQueenRegina*

      I know it wasn’t intended as a reference at the time, but when I see Fergus now I think of Crowley from Supernatural because it’s his real name even if only Rowena calls him that. It made me feel a bit less “Fergused out” when I realised that.

      1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

        I vascillate between Crowley and Ferguson from Clarissa Explains It All.

      2. Geillis D*

        Outlander’s Fregus Fraser, all the way.

        And Fergus wasn’t even a Bad Guy. If I wanted to name a “BTW I’ll need one of your kidneys and possibly a lobe of your liver” boss, I’ll call them Black Jack.

    8. Yorick*

      I think it’s no big deal to randomly use character names that you like. But I did think this particular letter would’ve made more sense if they used Catlyn or Ned instead of Arya.

      1. Bostonian*

        Honestly, I don’t know how Arya thinks she’s getting any money out of 2 dead siblings.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        You’re not alone. They’re not my cup of tea, either. But I wouldn’t mind if people used character names from a book/comic/movie that I do like, and I don’t mind the GoT names.

    9. Jules the Third*

      I totally vote for Lord of the Rings / Hobbit references from here on! :D

      All Saruman, all the time! He’s The Worst. Totally liver-hunting, chemo-crashing, therapist-kidnapping level. The hard part is finding a middle-ground bad-ish boss or employee in Tolkien, or any females.

      That’s probably *why* we use GoT so much, there’s so many female options. It’s hard to find a wide variety of complex female characters in popular culture. Even HP’s only got Smart Good Girl, Girlfriend, Good Mom, Bad Mom, Good Teacher, Bad Teacher, and Crazy Bad Aunt, and all of them hit the series pretty fully formed, not a lot of growth to their characters.

      GoT’s got Not Naive Anymore (Sansa), Unholy Hell (Cersei), Queen of the World (Daenerys), Death On Wheelz (Arya), Sand Snakes & their mom, Wise B* (Olenna), Pure Warrior (Brienne), Lyanna, Catelyn, Loyal Aide (Missandei), Witch (Melisandre), Yara, Margaery – most of whom go through significant character growth.

      If you notice, people tend to use other fandoms for men, or Fergus / Wakeen, it’s mostly women who get GoT’d.

      1. I Love Thrawn*

        Yep – and throw in some Star Wars names too. Though I’ve never seen a comparative to the great Grand Admiral Thrawn here.

  10. Marie B.*

    Re: Letter #1. This sounds so familiar. I could have sworn there was another letter like it sent in before, about a boss wanting a new employee to go by a different name, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives.

    Whether I am imagining things or not, you do need to leave the new hire alone. Alison is spot on about a name being personal. Not only that, but if anyone around you sees you try to force a name change you will get major side eye. I know if I heard a boss insisting someone with one name was actually called something else, I would feel weird and it would make me look a the boss differently.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      There was something not that long ago about someone who just hired a direct report with the same first name, and there was some reason why it could be life or death if a voicemail was sent to the wrong Arya, so the boss was suggesting New Arya go by Stark and then heard her introducing herself to people as Arya anyway.

  11. Laura H*

    I still put “Laura H.” on work-related stuff even if i could just use my first name now that I’m the only one with that name at work. I’m not the easiest to budge on ingrained behaviors.

    During the time while I wasn’t the only Laura, I used context clues to determine if a coworker was referring to me. That worked pretty well.

    1. Agent Diane*

      This. I am one of several “Agent Diane”s at work. We’re all in very different areas (think legal, technical and corporate) but end up working on projects together.

      People use our family name initials to distinguish us if we are at the same meeting. We’ll use them as well in some emails (“did you mean Agent Diane A, or me?”). It doesn’t diminish our authority in those meetings because our authority comes from our experience and our professionalism.

      Generally we can tell straight away if we’ve got each other’s emails, and will just forward with a “for you!”. It doesn’t happen that often because people are capable of telling us apart despite the same name.

      I got an email the other day that was missing any way of identifying if it was for legal, technical or corporate. That did have to go back to sender with a “am I the right Diane for this?”.

      By suggesting Amanda changes her name, Amanda, you’re saying not only that others won’t be able to tell the difference but that you won’t be able to spot when something is for you or for her. That undermines your position. Honestly, if three senior Agent Diane’s in one midsize organisation can cope, you and your volunteers will be fine. ;)

      1. Agent Diane*

        Oh, and at college there was another Agent Diane who took the same course modules as me, had the same hair colour and we were BFFs. We skipped the initials business and were simply “t’other Agent Diane”. So if I was talking to someone, they’d say “where’s t’other Agent Diane”, or I’d say “t’other Agent Diane is doing her essay on X and I’m doing Y”. If we were together then it was always obvious which Agent Diane was which and who someone meant. People are amazingly adept at this.

  12. Kay*

    I’m so confused about the second letter. Some of it: trade unions, petrol as an example is not American language. But then stuff like behavior is the American way. It’s not clear where the letter writer is located and although the situation is wrong no matter what, location could make a difference in terms of laws and workers rights.

    1. JamieS*

      I’m thinking OP either isn’t American and Alison Americanized some words, OP Americanized some words since they wrote in to an American-based blog, OP isn’t American but spells some things the Americanized way (I do that but in reverse), or OP is an American living in another country where words like petrol are common but they still spell some words the Americanized way. That or maybe OP is Canadian. Not really sure what side they come down on regarding spelling. Bottom line is I’m guessing OP isn’t currently in America.

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          Yeah, we spell some things the British way and some things the American way. Even Canadians aren’t entirely sure when we use some spellings as opposed to others (except for adding the u in words like colour and honour, we all know to do that!). Our vocab tends to be a lot more American though, so petrol and skint aren’t really heard here.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      Alison has clarified upthread (and I’ve read her saying so before) that she doesn’t change vocabulary but edits to American spelling to assist her copy editing. So this LW is probably in the UK or somewhere else where the English spoken is more British in style.

    3. Ursula*

      I’m pretty sure the letter writer is in the UK. We say petrol and have trade unions. Also Alison mentioned she changed the spellings of some words to the American way e.g when letter writer wrote “behaviour” it became “behavior” the first is the British spelling.

      I’m not sure Arya is breaking the law in the UK by asking but she would be if they were fired for refusing (I think, not a lawyer). We have stricter laws on when someone can be fired (it’s quite hard to fire someone on the spot unless they do something pretty bad like punching the boss or turning up to work high on illegal drugs) but I don’t think asking for money alone is breaking the law. Though obviously it is still bad.

  13. Chriama*

    Gosh, names are so personal. Don’t be that person, OP. You don’t know if they hate the diminutive-ness of the possible nicknames formed from their name (as certain women do, because they feel it undermines their professional demeanour). You don’t know if the name is inherited from a beloved relative or friend, or has a special family meaning. You don’t know if they’ve chosen a name that has personal significance to them for a variety of reasons. I don’t know either, but I do know that such a request coming from a job interviewer (or brand new boss) will have an inherent power balance that may compel someone to agree to your demand despite their dislike or resentment. And it’s not a great way to endear someone to you or to their new job.

    People have navigated situations where they know multiple people with the same name with no issues. At my last workplace there were 2 different people with the same name with different spellings – we could usually figure out who the other person was referring to by context, but if not we just clarified by using last names.

    Also, if your don’t have an email signature with your full name and position, you should get one. That will also clarify a lot for people outside your office.

  14. Peter Parker*

    #1 – Personally I can think of bigger problems than just having the same first name (I also have a common first name). I work in education and the head office that oversees all the schools recently decided to consolidate all of the schools to a single domain name, with everyone having the same username format (not uncommon – first initial, last name, number if required).

    This was all well and good… until a teaching assistant and the very top honcho had a very similar email address… and the TA started getting emails that were directed to him. Now both of their e-mail addresses are “firstname.surname”.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      We had something like that at my old job – a handyman and the chief executive had similar names – think Apollo Warbucks and Apollo Warburton. The handyman used to get the chief exec’s email.

      In the same job, there was a coworker called, let’s say Wakeen Smith, and then the year after he started, a Wakeen Smith got hired in HR. Our Wakeen used to get emailed stuff like people’s sick leave. HR’s Wakeen complained to IT and it ended up that they changed the display in our address book to “Smith, Wakeen (HR)” and “Smith, Wakeen (Housing)”,

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I had this happen at an old job. There was me in the Teapot Finishing department and an Amy Santini in the Teapot Ordering department so our work occasionally overlapped and we used to get emails for each other all the time.

    2. Binky*

      I worked at an office where a manager and an admin had the same name – first and last. And the admin arrived first, so he had the standard email address and the manager had to have a derivative. Manager got a lot of requests to make copies/binders/etc. It was awkward.

  15. JamieS*

    OP #3, there’s nothing in the letter that actually shows you aren’t the first choice. Interviewing a good selection of candidates is just good practice and few people (IMO) have absolutely perfectly flawless interviews. The company could’ve very well interviewed other candidates and concluded you were hands down their top choice. Of course, I realize there might be additional info not in the letter but if the primary reason for being gun shy is a presumption you’re not the top choice and that’s based on what’s in the letter I wanted to point out that not necessarily accurate.

    1. Safetykats*

      For OP1 – finding a great candidate with he same name as you is not a big snag. Also, if the only way people in your organization or community know you is by your name, to the extent that they will not be able to differentiate you at all from a new hire with the same name, the problem is probably not that you have the same name.

      If people do have issues differentiating you in conversation, they will undoubtedly find ways to do so. You may find that over time you both pick up nicknames. (At my last job we had two managers named Mike. First they were Mike W and Mike E; eventually they were just W and E.) one way or another, people will work it out. But you shouldn’t ask someone else to use a different name if you aren’t willing to do the same.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Not only that, sometimes your second choice on paper turns out to be an undiscovered superstar! Not everyone who excels at their job manages to do so from the very beginning. And sometimes someone who starts out as just very good rather than amazing at their job tasks is a much better fit, and winds up being better overall for the company.

      I agree that OP #3 might not be the second choice, but even if they are, that’s not always a bad thing. Teddy Roosevelt became President because he was VP when McKinley was assassinated, and most historians consider him among the top Presidents in US history.

      1. myswtghst*

        “Not everyone who excels at their job manages to do so from the very beginning.”

        Yep! And not everyone who excels at their job gives a flawless interview. It’s entirely possible that they were a little discouraged after the “bad” interview, but upon further consideration realized that none of the issues in the interview were really OP#3’s fault. I can understand it being a little difficult to work up the same level of enthusiasm now that there was a setback, but if it’s a job you’re interested in, OP#3, I’d say go for it.

    3. Garrett*

      Agreed. Just because they said they want to interview others doesn’t mean you aren’t the first choice. Companies don’t necessarily stop interviewing once they find someone they like. Regardless, you are a top choice, otherwise, they wouldn’t waste time flying you out there for an in-person interview. Good luck!

      1. Bostonian*

        Exactly. They wouldn’t fly you out if you weren’t a legit contender. OP, don’t get discouraged! Shake off the bad first impression and go to the interview if you’re interested in the position!

  16. Tallulah In The Sky*

    #2 : from the letter I’d guess it is someone else in the company who brought this to the LW’s attention, so I’d also talk to Robb, Bran, Rickon and Sansa, to at least them know their boss’s boss is aware of the situation and disapproves of Arya’s action, so that they know they can come to the LW if there are any more problems. Because you have the risk of Arya being more discreet, and if the employees think this is nothing to botter the LW with, it can go on unchecked.

    I know it is advised not to talk about one employee about another, but in this case I would make sure every employee who was solicited knows that what Arya does is not OK, they can say no to her without fear of repercussion, and they even can come to the LW to put a full stop this if it continues.

    1. Engineer Woman*

      Good point. OP #2 should 1) verify with Bran and team that this indeed is happening (if OP learned from a third party. 2) let Bran and team know this is unacceptable and if asked again, to let OP know. 3) speak to her boss and see if this can be addressed openly to the larger department or even entire company.

      Would be helpful if the company has resources to help in such a case or can provide some information. Like at a company-wide meeting: “While financial difficulties are very personal, we would like to point to these services or organizations that can help people that require some short-term financial support. It has come to our attention that there has been some asking of colleagues for financial help and we want to make it clear that this is not acceptable”

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      And regarding Alison’s script: You could open by saying something like this: “I’ve been told that you’ve been asking Robb, Bran, Rickon, and Sansa for money. Is everything okay?”
      This is another very good time to wait and listen. Don’t offer suggestions, don’t offer your personal experience. Just let her put into words why she is doing what she is doing.

    3. myswtghst*

      This is a really good point. Even if one person on the team approached OP#2, it’s worth making sure the entire team knows that this behavior is not okay, that is has been noticed, and that there is something they can do if it happens again.

  17. Mr. Rogers*

    While I completely agree with the advice for the name change OP, it’s true funny confusion can sometimes arise. My boyfriend was once in a video meeting with his boss and Tim (Or so we’ll call him). After the meeting, his boss goes “okay, so email Tim R. and coordinate this project for x y and z.” My boyfriend spends weeks emailing with Tim R., who is not helpful but is really trying to be, and even has a video call later just with him. Curiously, Tim R. has grown a GREAT beard since that last meeting. Strange!

    Yeah, turns out the first Tim was Tim M. and his boss had him bothering a very confused, very nice, entirely different man for this project, while Tim M. thought everyone dropped the ball big time after that one meeting. It was very embarrassing when he had to update everyone, and of course his boss was like “WeLL MaYbe YOu ShOulDN’t HaVe TrUsTEd mE”

    1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      We had two women with the same name – and they were boss/reportee. Everyone just called them Big “Maggie” and Little “Maggie”, but big meant more like older/more experienced (like big brother). Apparently Big Maggie was fine with it and they worked together (as boss/reportee) for 5+ years

    2. Lissa*

      LOLOL we had a lot of Daves for awhile in our social circle, one of them had really long, lovely hair, so we called him “Pretty Dave.” This worked fine until they all left except Pretty Dave, then another Dave came long and was like “….hey!”

    3. Popular Girl Name of the 70's*

      I used to work at a shop with 3 Amys. They were of varying height, so they became Big Amy, Medium Amy, Small Amy. None of them seemed to mind, and we continued to call my coworker Medium Amy even after the other two moved on.

  18. sacados*

    In short, yikes.
    Also one thing to note — it sort of sounds like you are using the fact that Arya and her family make lots of money / have expensive lifestyles as another justification for why it’s bad that she is asking for money. But really that’s not necessary at all.
    In a case like this it’s actually pretty much irrelevant whether Arya actually legitimately needs money or not. Even if her needs were dire, she absolutely should not be asking her subordinates for a handout. Full stop. It certainly makes her more sympathetic, but it doesn’t change the fact that her actions are unacceptable.

    1. RC*

      Not sure why you would come to that conclusion given that OP clearly states in their letter:

      It does not appear she needs money. Even if she did, it is not right of her to pressure people she supervises.

      1. sacados*

        Oh, definitely.
        OP’s gut instinct is obviously telling her that it’s not acceptable to ask subordinates for money. But I get the sense that she’s still a bit unsure– if it were someone truly in need, isn’t it heartless/insensitive/awkward of me to declare they are not allowed to ask for help? but wait — in this case, I know XYZ situation means that Arya shouldn’t actually need money so it’s definitely certainly okay to shut it down (all of which is totally understandable!)

        So I’m just saying that OP should go with her gut and doesn’t need to worry about justifying Arya’s lack or otherwise of cash (to herself or any third parties).

        1. tangerineRose*

          I can see why the LW might feel more concerned about it if Arya seemed to be surviving off of doughnuts in the break room and wearing very worn clothes. I mean, Arya still shouldn’t ask subordinates for money, but when it seems like Arya has no real need to do this…

      2. myswtghst*

        I understand what you’re saying, but I had similar feelings of unease to sacados when reading the letter, since before OP#2 said that, they spent a paragraph explaining all the reasons why they know that Arya clearly has tons of money. Even if OP#2 understands at the surface level that need wouldn’t make this more or less acceptable, it’s clear that Arya’s theoretical financial well-being is on their mind.

        IMO, it’s good to be aware of that thought process, not only so OP#2 can keep it out of their conversations with Arya, but also because it may play a part in how Arya’s behavior is perceived by the rest of the team. It doesn’t make anyone a bad person to have those thoughts, but it is important to acknowledge them so you don’t let them shape your behavior.

    2. Artemesia*

      It does shape my attitude. If I knew she had major family medical issues and was genuinely strapped I would let her know that this must not happen again and point her to resources. If I see her blithely flying to Paris and then extorting money from subordinates then I would fire her.

      1. Yvette*

        Not to defend asking for money, but you (general you) would really have no way of knowing how a trip or any other extravagance was financed. People get gifts, parents pay for family trips, the vacation home could belong to another family member. My daughter picked up a $110 leather jacket at a thrift store for $5. And the letter writer did seem to be taking this into account.

        Again she should not be asking for money.

      2. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        Thing is, most places you have to be consistent with firing.

        If Bobby was broke and begging his assistants for money, showing him compassion and giving him warnings first would give Steven a case if you fired him for it due to you saying “well you drive a BMW, you went to the moon for vacation. You’re fired.”

        Suddenly it’s uneven distribution of punishment. You already have a protected class in the original story being a woman. If a man then did it and got a warning, sign a check and leave it blank.

        1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*


          Whatever context you have is important for addressing bad behavior (example: Someone’s work declining because of a medical issue vs. Someone’s work declining because they don’t seem to care), but at the end of the day, work needs to get done and professional boundaries must be respected. Especially when it comes to something as sensitive as money, both things are true here:

          – Unless you’re especially close/watchful of someone, you cannot know for sure the totality of their financial circumstances from the outside.
          – It’s inappropriate to ask for money from your subordinates. (Spotting $5 because you forgot your wallet is one thing, otherwise, don’t do it.)

    3. Rose V*

      Not disagreeing with the need to stop asking for money, but people use money to control others in abusive relationships. Even if she looks like she has money, her husband might not let her access it without his approval. Not saying this is the case, and again, she needs to stop, but it’s another reason appearances can be deceiving.

      1. Observer*

        The thing is that fundamentally it doesn’t matter, except insofar as it would be useful for the OP to point her to some DV / Abuse resources if that’s the case, and maybe offer to direct deposit her check to a different account. She still can’t ask her subordinates for money. Period.

  19. Tallulah In The Sky*

    #4 : Where I work, you get an extra 5 bucks for each day you’re teleworking, since this means you won’t use valuable office space, electricity, coffee, water when you flush… In my case, my company wants us to work remotely two days a week (to rent less office space) so it is a bit different to your situation, but it’s just to show you that if you’re job can be done remotely, the company doesn’t lose anything (it even gains something), so you shouldn’t either.

  20. SaraV*

    Hi, I’m Sara, and would have been Matthew/Matt if I was born a boy. :)

    But you can’t ask someone to change their name. You could be asking them to use a name they’ve never gone by before, or one they detest. I’ve read Sadie and Sally are nicknames for Sara, but I’ve NEVER gone by those names. It would be so foreign to me. When in situations with two people with the same name, which happened a lot with me, we just dealt by using initials or full last names or which team they belonged to. At Old Job, we had a lot of Chris’s in our department…male and female. We figured it out.

    Plus, what happens with a name duplication with names that can’t be shortened? Names like Mark or Craig or Scott?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      As my company works on several floors of an office building, we have “our” Kevin (on our team) and “Upstairs” Kevin.

      1. Blue*

        We had two women with the same name in my grad school cohort . When talking to faculty, we used their last names to distinguish, but among ourselves, we had “tall Mandy” and “little Mandy.” Little Mandy was actually pushing 5’9″ but tall Mandy was over 6′ so…

        Tall Mandy was also called “Mandy-with-an-A” or “A-Mandy” because she introduced herself as Amanda at the start. She was used to introducing herself with her formal name and then having people default to the nickname and was somewhat dismayed that we all just used the name she gave us. A few weeks in, she awkwardly mentioned that she actually preferred Mandy, so while we switched to using that, she never fully shook the idea that she was Amanda and the other was Mandy.

    2. JamieS*

      Sadie and Sally can be nicknames for Sara? That’s surprising. With names that can’t be shortened I’d think middle names would be used so John Jacob Smith would go by Jacob.

      1. Lucky (short for Lurker)*

        It’s going to blow your mind that Polly is a nickname for Mary, Peggy is a nickname for Margaret, and Jack is a nickname for John!

        1. Artemesia*

          It is fairly recently that Jack has been a name as opposed to a nickname. In my generation all the ‘Jacks’ are ‘John’. Like JFK. I know lots of kids in my own kids’ generation that were just named ‘Jack.’

        2. TheCupcakeCounter*

          My MIL is a Margaret but a total of 1 person calls her that. She has been McGee since the day she was born. The rest of the family is similarly named – all go by nicknames that almost no one would connect to their real names.

        3. Cercis*

          And Daisy can be a nickname for Margaret (daisy in french is marguerite). So for Margaret – you have Meg, Peg, Peggy, Maggie, Mags, Molly and Daisy (that I can think of right now, there are probably more).

      2. Penny Lane*

        Why would you think middle names would be used? I like my middle name but I’m simply not going to use or offer it as an option. I have a first name. It’s to be used as is, no nicknames please, end of subject.

        1. JamieS*

          Because if two people with the same first name want to go by differing names and their first name doesn’t have an easy nickname the next logical step is for one to use their secondary (aka middle) name.

            1. JamieS*

              Then the one with a middle name would be the one to go by their middle name. In the unlikely event both don’t have a middle name one would go by their last name. If both have the same last name and no middle name then one will be called Skippy. My answer was what would be the most logical solution in most cases. I’m not going to account for every possible scenario.

              1. Observer*

                There is nothing unlikely about two people with the same first name not having a middle name. Middle names are far, far from the default.

          1. Sam.*

            I don’t really think there’s anything logical about refusing to call someone by their preferred name. If you’re going to force someone to use a different name, at least let them pick what they want to be called. As far as most of my colleagues know, I don’t have a middle name because I don’t like it and I never use it – not even the initial. There’s no way I’d be open to going by that professionally.

            1. JamieS*

              The question was what to do if the first name didn’t have an easy nickname. My answer was what the best solution would be in that scenario with the presumption whoever’s name would be changed agreed to the change.

          2. AnonEMoose*

            Why? That is definitely NOT the “next logical step” to me. And my great grandmother actually did go by her middle name, because she loathed her first name.

            But I’ve never used my middle name in anything but the most formal of situations, although I did choose to keep my middle name and drop my maiden name when I got married. I’m fond of the middle name for various reasons, but I don’t ever get called by it. I doubt I’d even realize someone was talking to me if they used it.

            To me, it would be far more logical to see if either or both of the individuals would mind having the first initial of their last name added. So, “John S,” or something like that.

            1. JamieS*

              The question I answered was what to do for a nickname if the name in question doesn’t easily lend itself to a nickname. John S. isn’t a nickname (or alternative name – however you want to think if it) of someone named John.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                Maybe not an “official” nickname (and how does that get decided, anyway?). But there’s no reason it couldn’t be an alternative way of referring to a particular person in a situation in which some clarification is required.

          3. Chocolate Teapot*

            After the big wedding on Saturday, I heard some people were confused as to who Henry and Rachel were.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      In high school, the grade above me had two “Wakeen Hernandez”. The fat one and the smart one. The fat one was also pretty smart – he went to MIT – but the smart one was the actual smartest person I’ve met in my life.

      If even Fat Wakeen refused to change his name, OP’s employee certainly shouldn’t have to…

    4. Boy oh boy*

      Just use surnames and job titles.

      John and John sat opposite each other and were the department Manager (John) and Deputy Manager (… also John). They became Blond John and Other John, or Little Boss John and Big Boss John, or John C and John M, etc. It was not a very formal workplace and (inoffensive) nicknames weren’t a problem.

      There was also the Curse of the Daniels where we had about five Daniels in the office. None ever used Dan/Danny, so we used surnames and job titles to distinguish them.

      1. Christy*

        Exactly. One of our divisions has five senior leaders and three of them are named John. They’re just always referred to as John Jones, John Truman, and Smitty (John Smith). It’s really not that complicated.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Or first names and job titles. Or whatever works for the persons involved.

        My supervisor (document team) has a fairly uncommon first name. The technical team I am assigned to support brought on someone with the same first name. We simply refer to “Fred from the Doc Team” and “Fred from the Tech Team.”

        Upper management has three people named “Harry.” Two go by Harry Last Name to distinguish themselves. The third just goes by Last Name.

    5. Clewgarnet*

      My team of around twenty has five Mohammeds (of various spellings), two Omars, an Umar and an Umer. The biggest problem is remembering which spelling of Mohammed goes with which person.

    6. Not Australian*

      Names that can’t be shortened get lengthened; I’ve definitely heard ‘Marky’ and ‘Scotty’, but never ‘Craigy’!

      1. Christy*

        “Craiggles” is a real nickname I have used. (Pronounced “Creggles” because he pronounced his name Cregg (like Greg) not Cray-g)

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          Interesting! In most dialects I’m familiar with, Greg and Craig are completely rhyming names!

          1. Jules the Third*

            British / Aussie it’s usually Cray-g . California, Canada are split between the two. Rest of the US usually Creg . Kinda odd, that, US South’s got a *ton* of Scottish heritage, but all I hear around here is Creg.

            ooh – Google has a Dialect survey result, 34% Cray-g in New Mexico, with another 24% ‘in between but closer to ay’ – so broaden that ‘California’ to ‘US West’ maybe. Link in name..

            1. Turkletina*

              When my coworkers from Australia visit our midwestern US office, they make us say “Craig” over and over again so they can cackle at our pronunciation. I’m still not sure why they’ve latched on to this word in particular.

              1. doubleblankie*

                Interesting! I can kind of see how Craig spoken with a Scottish accent could evolve over time to become Creg – maybe that’s what happened in the US over generations of people with Scottish heritage? Or maybe the US way is actually how UK used to say it a long time ago and we’ve changed our pronunciation?

          2. doubleblankie*

            I’ve never met a Craig who pronounced it Creg, always Crayg – think it’s probably a UK /US difference?
            And totally agree with everyone else – we had 8 Catherines in my year at school (although some went by Katie etc) and there are about 6 Johns at work – it’s not difficult at all to differentiate e.g. Little John, John C, IT John etc.
            Being asked to change my name on my first day at work wouldn’t feel nice at all. And having just been through 4 rounds of interviews to find the right person – someone having the same name as me would definitely not be a ‘big snag’ – if that’s your biggest issue you are lucky!

      2. Tmarie*

        I named my son Craig (creg) because I wanted the “C” sound and couldn’t think of any Craigs I knew. I got home from the hospital, my mom had brought me some magazines On one magazine cover, there was a soap opera actor named Craig, and a soap opera character name Craig. Then there was my optometrist Craig AND my dive shop owner Craig.

        Yeah, Craig was way more common than I realized!

        1. AMT*

          My friends are all Gen X/late Boomers and we joke about how we’ve got all the Toms, Kevins, and Keiths we need in the group, so we’re not accepting new applications.

    7. Traffic_Spiral*

      I worked in a Middle East office with a lot of Ahmed’s and Ali’s (and I do mean, a loooooot). We just added last names or only used last names (or one of their zillion middle names, if they preferred).

    8. myswtghst*

      “You could be asking them to use a name they’ve never gone by before, or one they detest.”

      This is so important. Names can be a really fraught subject, both in the sense that people can be really attached to their names, or because they might have very good reasons for not using a given name or nickname. For those of us who have no strong feelings either way, it seems easy to just say “oh, go by a nickname or your middle name!”, but for the person who already goes by a shortened version of his middle name (because he was named for a relative he didn’t want to be associated with), or someone whose abuser insisted on using the nickname you’re suggesting, you could be kicking a hornet’s nest unnecessarily.

  21. OneofthehordeofJohns*

    OP1, at my small company (~50 people, 2 sites) we have 4 Johns (two with similar last names in the same office), 2 Jennifers, 2 Lisas, 4 Richards, 2 Caseys, Katherine, Kathy, Katelyn, 2 Lees (different spellings and gender)… We figure it out. I go by my initials at work and with our customers since my last name is uncommon and hard to spell..

    Don’t worry about name collisions.

  22. Beth*

    OP#1: At one point, I was working on a team where we had 3 Bobs, 2 Janes, 2 Sarahs, and 3 Catherines (names changed, but numbers are accurate to what I remember) at the same time. And none of them used nicknames. The team was only about 15 people total, so this was a lot of repeated names! It worked just fine, though. Some had different spellings (Catherine, Kathryn, Katherine), which kept things clear in written communication; when speaking out loud, and for those that had the same spelling, we just added a last initial. There was the occasional “Oh, the OTHER Bob!” moment, but not nearly as many as you’d think, and they were usually pretty easy to catch and correct.

  23. Going anon this time*

    I have a reasonably common first name with both common and less common nicknames (think William with Will and Liam, although it’s not that one). I’m William at work, Will to a few VERY old friends and family who seem oddly resistant to breaking themselves of the habit, and Liam to a somewhat larger subset of college friends. If I nickname myself, it’s consistently Liam, not Will.

    If I were asked to nickname myself at a new job because another William already worked there, I would be mildly bothered and would decline – William is my professional name as well as what I go by in day-to-day life. If I were just GIVEN a nickname, I would be actively annoyed, especially if it were Will rather than Liam. “Will” is the name that people trying to force friendship on me invariably use, so I bristle at it even when it is totally kindly meant.

    tl;dr – Don’t nickname your coworkers unless they say they’re OK with it.

  24. namelesscommentator*

    #1 If you’re worried a second person with your name will undermine your authority it may be worth examining why … There’s lots of bosses who share names with employees who get by just fine by acting like the one in charge, introducing themselves at the director … sometimes my boss even says “I’m the one in charge” to clarify when appropriate.

    Making somebody change their name does nothing to clarify your authority — if that’s your main concern, focus on the things that will. If you’re just territorial about your name, do your best to get over it.

    1. JamieS*

      I got the impression the concern was more people would erroneously contact the potential new hire when they meant to contact OP (like another post about a TA getting emails meant for the head honcho) not OP thinking their authority would be undermined.

    2. WS*

      I get feeling territorial about a name! My name was very uncommon when I was born, but got popular about 15 years later. I had never shared my name with a classmate or a workmate until I was 35 and a young new hire had the same name as me. Horror! I got over it in about five minutes, though!

      1. Emily Spinach*

        Yes, my actual name was very uncommon (not in the top 1000, I think, the year/decade I was born) when I was growing up, and became popular much later. I teach, and the first time I had a student with my name, honestly the only person flummoxed by it was me!

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, why doesn’t she just nickname herself “Boss Amanda?” That way she gets to look like a nice person (because she didn’t make the other amanda change her name) while making people call her something cool.

  25. Jen RO*

    There are two women on my team called Stephanie and neither of them use a nickname, so we just clarify whether we mean Stephanie A. or Stephanie C. On another parallel team there are two women called Alexandra, except one prefers to be called Alex. A while ago we had someone else with the same name as me, so she was Jen from Product A and I was Jen from Product B. Somehow the office was able to keep moving…

    Don’t ask your new hire to change her name.

    1. starsaphire*

      Honestly, even if there’s only one Bob, I’d prefer to be told “Call BobJonesInAccounting to get this invoice handled,” rather than “Call Bob about this.” Sometimes you have been at a company for six months and still don’t know everyone by name, and MarySmithFromHR gives you a lot more information to go on when you’re trying to track someone down in the company directory.

      Nothing wrong with calling yourself ManagerAmanda and calling her InternAmanda. :)

  26. Mad Baggins*

    OP4, instead of telling companies you’ll settle for less money in exchange for flexibility, why don’t you use that range to widen your search for companies that provide it and factor that into your calculations? For instance, you apply to Talulah’s Teapots Inc. which is butts-in-seats and has a salary of $$$, but you also apply to Sergio’s Spouts Inc. which offers work-from-home and a salary of $$. You can still ask Sergio for $$$ but don’t tell him you don’t need that extra $.

  27. It’s all good*

    Op#1 – when our oldest was about 8, there was another girl on her team with the same name. The coach told them to decide who was going to change their name! Both did not want to do it do it was Sarah M and Sarah O all day long. Coach was not happy but I was proud of the girls for sticking up for themselves.

    1. Bagpuss*

      My sister (who was named after our grandmother) ended up with a ‘top 10 for the year’ name and middle names. We also have a fairly common surname. I don’t think she had a single class, either in school or university, where there wasn’t at least one other person with her name, and at least twice there was another person with exactly the same first, middle and last name.

      The only time it ever caused confusion was at one parent-teacher conference where the maths teacher confused her with the other girl of the same name. My parents were a bit surprised to hear him say she was disruptive, but it wasn’t until he told them that her results in the most recent test were terrible did they realise he’d got the wrong set of parents. (My sister had scored 98% in the test)

      I don’t think anyone ever suggested that any of them use a different name, although my sister does now go by a shortened form of her name, it was her own choice.

      I suspect that finding they had picked such common names may have influenced my parents when they came to pick my names, though. Mine is very uncommon for people of my age, (I don’t have much of an internet presence under my real name, but I’m the 2nd result on Google because there are so few of us)

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      The first day of kindergarten my son was one of seven (!) Christophers. There were a total of 17 students in the class including the girls. Somehow the teacher managed seven little Christophers who (and whose mothers) wanted to be called “Christopher.” As I recall a couple of them even had the same last initial, so it’s totally doable.

  28. Lara*

    Ayra is being ridiculous. If she can’t afford gas money, she can sell her damn holiday cottage. The only thing that would make this understandable is if Ayra is experiencing financial abuse and her husband is pocketing her salary. But that still doesn’t make cadging money from her subordinates acceptable, and given what OP said about her clothing and lifestyle, it doesn’t sound likely.

    1. Beth*

      True, but as Arya’s supervisor, OP should probably avoid doing or saying anything that could be construed as telling Arya how to manage her finances. The only thing OP should be involved with when it comes to Arya’s financial management–and the only thing OP needs to be involved in, luckily–is how Arya’s actions at work are disruptive and inappropriate and need to stop.

      1. Lara*

        Oh absolutely. It’d be great to get an update – I’d be intrigued to know if Arya pushes back when OP speaks to her.

        1. Observer*

          I’m more interested to know if it turns out that there is more to the story in terms of what she’s doing in the workplace. As others pointed out, this behavior is a wall full of red flags for fraud.

    2. MLB*

      You can’t assume someone’s financial status by what they own because way too many people are living far beyond their means. Regardless of her financial situation, she shouldn’t be asking anyone, especially her subordinates, for money.

      1. Lara*

        I agree with your last sentence, but due to her husband’s salary being public, their income is common knowledge. And possessions are a way to gauge someone’s financial status, especially ones like cars and holiday cottages, because they are saleable assets.

        I am not suggesting OP say any of this to Arya. But if it is purely about living beyond her means, she needs to be told that her choice to go on her fourth vacation of the year is not sales clerk Rob’s problem, and that she cannot expect him to fund her lattes.

        1. MLB*

          Knowing someone’s salary does not give you the full picture of someone’s financial situation. A lot of people look like they’re living the high life because they care more about appearances and “stuff” than being financially stable. I stand by what I said.

          1. Lara*

            Ok. My point was that what Arya cares about is irrelevant. She’s engaging in flashy spending that if curbed, would prevent her from needing to ask subordinates for money, a behaviour most rational human beings would not engage in unless desperate. Ergo, I don’t believe she is desperate.

            As I say, her choice to spend hundreds on dinner is not a financial situation that warrants scabbing from your employees; OP knows all she needs to about Arya’s financial situation. Arya is not poor, she is a spendthrift, and thus OP needs to not feel any guilt about confronting her ridiculous behaviour.

  29. The Pink Lady*

    I’ve had to deal with the names thing at work: at one point four women on my floor, including me, shared the same name, at various degrees of seniority of role and tenure. Each of us hated the shortened version of our name, and none had ever used it. We rubbed along just fine for the four years we were all there. Our director came up with his own solution, using a short form when referring to any of us to another person, by taking the first syllable of our shared first name and adding the first or only syllable of our second. But aside from him, if clarity was needed in conversation, people just added our second name.

    Please don’t ask someone to give up the most personal thing about them; there’s really no need, and it shows a lack of respect for them as a person which is not a good way to begin a working relationship.

  30. Jennifer*

    We had two Barbaras for awhile, one of them being very high in the rankings. We would just say “Barbara Lastname” or “Barbara Otherlastname.” We used to have Aaron, Erin, and Karen all working in the same group and now we’re back to having both an Aaron and an Erin again. Folks will just have to figure out a way to distinguish and live with it.

    Oddly enough, I haven’t had another Jennifer at the same job as me since college, though sometimes at my volunteer job.

  31. The Pink Lady*

    OP 4: I agree that you shouldn’t offer to take less for working remotely, as it’s not related to the value of the role, or what you would bring to it.

    As an aside, though (and having worked from home permanently for nearly 15 years, I can speak from experience) it’s worth remembering that you won’t necessarily save as much as you think. Yes, you won’t have regular commute costs, which can be a really significant saving, but depending on where you live, the climate might mean you are spending much more by heating you home all day when you’d normally be out in a toasty office paid for by someone else; and there are other power and lighting costs too, especially running lots of tech. I’m in the UK and find having the heating on all day in winter can really add up, and as I sit at a computer all day when I’m here, I do feel the cold. Plus, if you have to attend meetings or your office, even irregularly, you’ll still need appropriate clothes. Worth thinking about when considering home working.

    1. MLB*

      I WFH twice a week and I look at it more as saving my sanity. My commute is horrendous, and knowing I can sleep a little later and not have to drive anywhere a few days a week makes me much happier. Plus I can get stuff done at home – I can run upstairs and throw in a load of laundry – and not do everything on the weekends.

    2. Emmie*

      I am a full-time remote employee, and have been so for years. The Pink Lady is right. There are costs associated with WFH like: a/c and heat; bathroom tissue; social activities (because being home all day is isolating); a reduction in networking; clothes (maintaining a rarely used in-office wardrobe for travel, and a comfortable WFH wardrobe); in-home office space (doesn’t always yield the tax savings you expect); setting up an ergonomic work space (yes! you need better set ups when WFH full-time); some people have increased equipment costs (I do not since my company provides those things.)
      Aside from that, I would not devalue my work or accomplishments. Your salary is what you have earned, and the market rate. Those companies won’t say “hire OP because she will work for cheaper.” They will extend an offer based upon your credentials, accomplishments, their budget, ability to be successful in the role, etc…

  32. Massmatt*

    Can we please stop trying to guess the location/nation of origin of letter writers where it is not relevant to the issue raised? It doesn’t help the letter writers with their problems, in fact quite the opposite. Likewise a recent letter where the writer wanted to keep their niche profession out of it, it spurred many posts trying to guess, some of them offensive (“I know, I know! Prostitution!”). Letter writers are posting for help with a problem, can we try to help versus trying to break their anonymity?

    1. Jemima Bond*

      I see what you mean especially about the niche profession but the country of origin is often extremely important in the legal aspects of a question and also the prevailing culture. Many LWs state it if so (and they think to) or clarify it if asked. I don’t think it compromises anonkymity – the UK might be quite small but I’m in a throng of some ten million in our capital city alone.
      With several letters on here the difference between US and UK origin can easily be the difference between “that is awful here is what you could do” and “that is illegal and they are about to get an employment tribunal right in the face”.

      1. Kate*

        By population the U.K. is one of the world’s larger countries- something like 20th out of 200. I agree that’s completely not the same as guessing someone’s niche industry

      2. Mookie*

        With several letters on here the difference between US and UK origin can easily be the difference between “that is awful here is what you could do” and “that is illegal[.]”

        That sums up the distinction between the two places in general, really. Well, up until June 2016, anyhow.

      3. Massmatt*

        Which is why I specifically said “where it is not relevant”. Yes, national origin can be important for understanding local laws and customs, but in this case people are simply playing amateur detective and not adding to the discussion.

    2. MakesThings*

      Your point is somewhat valid, but the fact that you think that guessing “prostitution” is offensive demonstrates that you do not respect sex workers.
      I invite you to think about why sex work is associated with offense in your mind.

      1. WS*

        Or it could just be illegal where they live so they think it’s rude to suggest that the OP is a criminal. I think you’re jumping to conclusions in a thread that is about not guessing people’s backgrounds!

      2. Thursday Next*

        Hmm…this is a bit harsh to Massmatt. Prostitution is illegal in many places, and there’s stigma attached to engaging in illegal activities. Whether it should be illegal or not is a whole other matter, but as long as it is, I think it’s fair not to want to have people presume you’re doing something illegal.

        (A good analogue is marijuana use, which has been discussed a lot here. It’s legal some places, but not everywhere, and people definitely have strong opinions on whether it should be. Still, many people are going to form judgments if someone is known to be smoking pot illegally.)

        1. MakesThings*

          I don’t know, if someone described a vague insinuation of pot use as “offensive”, I’d think they were, at the very least, a giant stick in the mud. But I guess we are veering off course, and I’m not going to argue any further.

      3. Massmatt*

        The OP commented in the thread and was both offended by some of the speculation and taken aback why people were trying so hard to guess the profession when it was made clear it was niche and left vague to preserve anonymity.

        I have done volunteer outreach and safe sex education for sex workers early in the AIDS crisis, so no, return invite to sender.

        1. MakesThings*

          It’s great that you’ve done all that volunteer work, but in your own words, “it spurred many posts trying to guess, some of them offensive”. Meaning, prostitution s offensive.
          I posit that it is not.
          Up to you what you think, but I’m offended that you’re offended.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Asking people to stop thinking is silly. People with working brains are going to notice things and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      1. Massmatt*

        I’m not asking people to stop thinking, I’m asking them to think before they post.

      2. myswtghst*

        And yet, those people with working brains could think those thoughts to themselves, then continue on with their day, instead of posting unhelpful speculation that may be off-putting to current and future letter writers.

    4. March Madness*

      The nationality can be very relevant and if that’s not something that the letter writer obscured, the readers here should be able to tailor their responses accordingly.

      However, sometimes the commentariat gets hung up on “juicy” but irrelevant details, like the profession of the letter writer yesterday. I understand the curiosity, but I don’t think we’re helping these OPs at all if we pry into the details!

  33. Jemima Bond*

    Re #2, Alison, would you advise also speaking to the clerks/admin about the issue as well, discreetly of course? My instinct would be to ask them (if they are happy to say) whether they have lent money to Arya in the past and crucially whether she still owes them (so “you must pay people back NOW” can be part of the convo with Arya, but also if she’s into them for hundreds of pounds I think you need to know). I’d also want to reassure them that they don’t have to lend the money and/or were right to refuse and they should tell you if she tries it on again. I feel your staff need to know they have your support and will indeed not be in a bad position if they gainsay Arya.

    1. Colette*

      Yeah, I agree. The people Arya has been asking for money should be told explicitly that they should say no, and that they can let you know if she asks again.

  34. ShopLady*

    Ooof. I worked with a junior employee who had the same name as our Director (a very common name in their faith). The Director made Junior Employee go by a nickname- it was her email, on her business cards, on every piece of work she put out into our field and the community. It was not a secret that the Director did it because she wanted to be the only one with that name. Junior Employee worked there for 5 years and put up with it, but it was a point of contention her entire tenure and really made her quite defensive. We also worked with many volunteers in a community-based organisation (lots of volunteers had the same name too!) and, for what it’s worth, no one confused Director Alison with Junior Employee Ally.

  35. Close Bracket*

    I once worked with a woman whose name had a common short form. She went by Longname. I made it a point to remind myself to make sure to call her Longname until I could get a chance to ask whether she ever went by Shortname. Before I got that chance, I learned that she was trans and that Shortname was her deadname (technically, her deadname was the masculine version of Longname, but she had gone by the gender-neutral shorter version of it). So while I am sure that an innocent question from a new coworker to get her name right would not have been a problem, I was glad I hadn’t ever brought it up. Point being, names are very, very personal, and you should always and only ever call someone what they introduce themselves as.

    1. You don't know me*

      On my first day one of my new coworkers introduced herself as Pamela. She specifically said “Hi, I’m Pamela. I prefer being called Pamela.” So I call her Pamela even though everyone else in the office calls her Pam.

    1. Myrin*

      I mean, in most kinds of jobs it really is important to know who is in what kind of position or at least who’s higher up to know who to turn to in situation X versus situation Y.

      I do think OP is putting way too much thought into and weight onto the “same name” issue – calling it a “snag” in the actual hiring seems wildly exaggerated to me, for example! – but in general, it’s not unreasonable to say that coworkers and clients should know about who’s the boss and who’s a regular employee.

      1. Myrin*

        And now I’m seeing that JamieS above already said the thing, and much more nicely, to boot!
        “I got the impression the concern was more people would erroneously contact the potential new hire when they meant to contact OP […], not OP thinking their authority would be undermined.” That’s exactly it.

      2. Mookie*

        If this is the LW’s primary motivation, she can readily slap her title onto her preferred form of address, thus preserving her right to her name (an absolute right she shares with the incoming employee) while reminding everyone who’s boss.

        1. Myrin*

          I’m not sure if you think I’m disagreeing with that? I’m not, I am in fact agreeing with what basically everyone else already said, but if I’m reading Zaphod’s comment correctly, he assumes that OP mentioned others’ needing to know that she’s in charge because she wants to Feel Important whereas my counter to that was that it’s generally not unreasonable to want others to know that you’re the boss and that I’m assuming that’s the reason OP brought that up.

      3. Observer*

        Yes. But you don’t need to be the only one who has a particular name for that to happen. The need to procliamit through every means, relevant or not, does sound quite odd.

  36. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

    OP1 I have a 4 letter older name that is almost impossible to shorten. I had a classmate with the same name and the teacher called us AnneP or AnneG. This post made me realize that as an adult I’ve never met anyone else with my name. I did work in an office with a Ken, Ben, Jen, Den and a Benny. People said it sounded like the start of a children’s book.

  37. Not Australian*

    I feel that ‘Do you have a nickname you’d be willing to use?’ is a perfectly reasonable question, but if the answer’s ‘no’ then the office will just have to find a work-around.

    1. Penny Lane*

      No. Silly. People who want to be known as Jenny or Bill instead of Jennifer or William introduce themselves proactively as Jenny or Bill.

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        That’s not necessarily true. I once worked with a woman whose shortened first name and last name, when pronounced together, kind of merged into a whole different name that people would confuse for her first name. So she would introduce herself with her full first name and last name, and then once the person knew her name, she would refer to herself by her shortened first name.

      2. Blue*

        This isn’t always true, in my experience. I default to using whatever name you use to introduce yourself, but I’ve definitely met people (especially in quasi-formal settings) who give their official name and it’s only after knowing them for a while that they clarify that they actually prefer a nickname. Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 or 5 examples of this from the last couple of years.

      3. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        Not true. My email is a shortened version. Think jon.smithers@ and I sign everything Jonathan for professional correspondence.

        My last two employers specifically asked for my preference before setting up my work email and business cards. I do use my full name professionally. Hence why I sign with it unless it’s a casual interaction.

        Just ask, it’s better to never assume we’re all the same.

        I’m not mad or anything if they automatically call me my shortened version but I’ll still always introduce myself formally and their brains may be confused.

        1. Nonsenical*

          I use my full first name at work and when I don’t know people personally. I have a nickname on Facebook that was initially just meant to make it harder to find me on Facebook (it was an unusual shortening of my name, because my name doesn’t lend itself conducive to any easy nicknames).

          My ex used to call me by the nickname and people that know me tend to either call me by my full name or the nickname interchangeably. I introduce myself by my full name unless I know them or are closer with them because my nickname isn’t professional sounding as my full name.

          My full name is also common among 60 years old and more elderly, so it is rare that I encounter anyone my age or in the working world with the same name. Though funnily enough, one time I was an urgent care, and the nurses were calling out the name. There happened to be another older woman there at the same time I was!

      4. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        This is just not necessarily true in hiring. Many people will apply for jobs using their full formal names even though they prefer to go by a nickname. My company tries to make it a matter of course to ask what their preferred name is when we hire them so their email address and display name are the name they prefer.

    2. Karo*

      I agree with the sentiment, but even that question may be a little pushy. I’d recommend asking “Is Amanda your preferred name, or do you prefer something else?” and then work with whatever she says.

      1. myswtghst*

        Agreed. The “be willing” language puts my hackles up a bit, but when I’m doing orientation for new employees, I always ask them to let me know if there is a nickname they prefer to go by, so it’s framed as being about their comfort, not mine.

    3. Observer*

      No. Because that does put pressure on the person. The only relevant and appropriate question is “Is this the name you go by?” Or “What are you usually called?”

  38. Anonymous Ampersand*

    Like, yeah, Arya needs to stop asking people for money. And it’s likely that she’s just really tone deaf and inconsiderate.

    However, please keep in mind that it’s possible she’s a victim of financial abuse.

    Even if that’s the case, firing her may still become necessary – but if her spouse controls all her money and provides her with a car but no petrol, etc, just…. be aware that this happens and don’t immediately jump to SHE IS EVIL AND MUST BE FIRED, ok?

    1. Anonymous Ampersand*

      Fwiw it’s the clothes and food part of this that makes the hairs stick up on the back of my neck. It might be nothing but it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind.

      1. Yvette*

        I mentioned this upstream, but my daughter got a $110 leather jacket for $5 at a thrift store. You cannot always judge based on clothing alone.

        1. Lara*


          But the car, clothes, holiday cottage, eating out, multiple vacations, a verifiably wealthy husband?

          That either screams abuse, or terrible with money, not that she’s a thifty shopper.

          1. Yvette*

            But again, gifts, generous wealthy parents, the holiday home could actually belong to a family member, etc. The point is you (general you) really just don’t know for sure, so that should not even be a factor. It is wrong to ask people at work, especially subordinates, for money.

            1. Lara*

              I’ve mentioned it as a factor because if that is the case, OP can approach it in a slightly different way. It doesn’t excuse or mitigate Arya’s behaviour, but it does take it from “She’s a selfish person who is behaving badly” to “Hey, we have these resources.”

            1. Lara*

              6 or 7 other people suggested in independently, so no, it’s not totally reaching. OP knows Arya’s salary and knows her husband’s salary. She knows Arya has nice clothes, holidays and saleable assets, but still hits up subordinates for money. The three most likely scenarios are:

              1) she is terrible with money
              2) Her husband is financially abusing her – i.e. pocketing her salary but giving her enough to keep up appearances in terms of clothing / hair.
              3) She is some kind of addict.

              I think abuse is actually pretty unlikely – my take is that she’s simply a selfish spendthrift who thinks it’s ok to exploit her employees. The solution is the same, in that she needs to stop, but it’s worth OP considering that abuse / addiction could be factors. That way OP can still firmly state that it’s got to stop, but also direct Arya to appropriate resources.

      2. & Vinegar*

        Telling your staff you need help getting winter clothes is scary. Daily need for food and gas is scary. Something’s really wrong somewhere. But her staff aren’t the ones to ask for help.

        Good for her boss for looking for help in taking this on in constructive ways. And I’m on team it’s-time-for-an-audit, that’s part of due diligence in this situation.

        As for the rest of her seeming financial situation, there are lots of possibilities for what looks like financial comfort that might not be quite right. Eg, is the holiday cottage hers, or does it belong to a family member or family group? Is the nice car someone’s hand me down? None of us need to know, but it’s good to remember that things aren’t always what they seem.

    2. McWhadden*

      That was the first thing I thought of. Sure, she may just be The Worst. But it seems really unlikely to me that she’d risk her stable job to scam small amounts of money off of people at work. It’s much more likely something is going on and she doesn’t have access to funds. Whether that is abuse or a serious financial hardship who knows. (And, sure, some people are just terrible and act irrationally we’ve seen plenty of those.)

      However, that doesn’t really change the answer at all. It needs to stop happening at work. If she suggests this is the problem then definitely suggest resources. But, at the end of the day, she can’t be putting her staff in this position.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        If it’s any serious financial hardship other than abuse, she needs to sell her holiday cottage and stop taking those vacations, not mooch off people who make half her salary!

        (Also, those subordinates who make half her pay could also very well be having financial hardships, or even be experiencing abuse. In fact, considering that they make a lot less money, they’re much more likely to be experiencing such hardship. And it’s a lot harder to leave an abuser when you’re broke, especially if you don’t have managerial experience on your resume for future jobs like Arya.)

        1. myswtghst*

          Unless, as others have mentioned, the holiday cottage isn’t actually hers, and the vacation was a gift, and so on and so forth. We could spend all day speculating about Arya’s finances and debt and personal life, and it still won’t matter – bottom line is exactly what McWhadden said: “[it] doesn’t really change the answer at all. It needs to stop happening at work.”

      2. Observer*

        Well, depending on how often it happens, those small amounts can add up to a pretty penny.

        And she may very well think that she’s not taking a risk. The OP’s gut is telling them that they need to address it, and yet they are hesitating and trying to rationalize addressing it. Arya could easily be betting on that kind of hesitation, could assume that it will never come to the attention of her superiors, or may just be so boundary / ethically challenged that’s she’s missed the memo that it’s bad enough that it could endanger her job.

    3. Colette*

      Well, if she continues asking subordinates for money, she either needs to be fired or demoted to the point where she has no subordinates. It doesn’t matter whether she’s doing it because she is being abused or because she has a mental illness or because she is bad with money or because she thinks her subordinates spend their money foolishly – it’s an abuse of power and needs to stop immediately.

      1. fposte*

        Right. Some of the people she’s mooching off of may also be victims of financial abuse, and now she’s abusing them as well.

        1. Observer*

          I’d put it a bit differently. The people she’s mooching off ARE the victims of financial abuse – hers! And they may ALSO be experiencing financial abuse or other financial problems in the personal lives.

    4. Lara*

      I suggested this too. It’s the only thing that would make her behaviour understandable.

      But it’s still not *acceptable*, whatever your circumstances, to ask subordinates for money. They won’t feel able to say no, whether or not they can afford it.

  39. Never Nicky*

    It’s unusual that I’m the only person with my name – from Uni onwards, there’s generally been more than one (and my partner is a Nik) hence a frequent diminutive became “Nic Nic” – as in “oh, you know, *Nic* Nic, the one from accounts”. Which is okay, given my visceral dislike of any other form of my name (see nym!). Names are so personal, so central to their identity, asking someone to change is just not on.

    We have 16 people in our office (some names changed to preserve anonymity but numbers/sense preserved)
    Stephen H, Stephen H, Steve (one is the CEO and his name is shared with a well known sportsperson)
    Karen, Karen, Carol (the fundraising team)
    Sue and Susie (admin – Susie goes by Sue outside work). When one of the Karens was on maternity leave, her cover was a Sue.
    Emma and Emma
    And we have three women (me included) who use commonly male diminutives of our names.
    And you know what – we manage, and we manage well.

  40. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP#5, if it were me, honestly I’d start suggesting to the office that I’d prefer not to get gifts at the shower. My go-to phrase for birthday parties and other celebrations (I recently moved, so we had a housewarming, for example) has been, “Your presence is your present! Please do not bring a gift.”

    Who knows? Though there appears to be a gift-giving status quo for bridal showers at your office, maybe some of your co-workers will appreciate not feeling obligated to spend the money, too.

    1. MLB*

      I told my friends at work that I DID NOT want a bridal shower at work when I got married. The ones I wanted to be at the wedding were invited, and I hate being the center of attention. Thankfully they listened.

  41. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I worked with a horrible bully who had a slightly uncommon name. The company then subsequwnelu hired another person with that same name, although she spelled and pronounced it slightly differently. The bully set about a systematic year-long campaign of undermining and power plays to show that since she had been there longer she was “in charge.” Person 2 quit with no job lined up because she couldn’t take it anymore. Don’t be like my former co-worker. Just accept that sometimes people have the same name as you.

  42. OrganizedHRChaos*

    I work for a travel agency and the agents go by first names. When we have new hires that have names already used, the new hire will then go by an alias. They use legal names for documents but clients know them by their aliases.

    1. Yvette*

      I can see where this would be important in an industry where much of the work is done over the phone and compensation is primarily commission based, you would not want your repeat clients to get shunted to someone else.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Nearly 20 years ago, I worked with a wonderful travel agent named Maria. We never met in person but we talked constantly, as my boss was a heavy traveler and this was before all travel booking was done online. One day she wrote something down incorrectly and admonished herself with, “Come on, Mary!” When I questioned her, she told me that there was another Mary when she joined the agency, so she decided to go by Maria and had done for at least 10 years. I miss that woman.

    3. drpuma*

      I strongly suspect I also used to work for this company, much earlier in my career. I was so relieved that I was the first “Puma” to be hired, as two more started within a year of me! They both chose similar nicknames to our shared name (think Pam and Paula), and our manager was “Patty”, so there was still sometimes confusion with clients.
      That experience makes me so happy I never had to change my name for a job.

  43. Birch*

    The name dilemma is so baffling to me, especially all the examples of situations where someone asks for (e.g.) Jessica and then they have to ask which one. Do you not use surnames?! I always use surnames unless it’s clear from our conversation who we’re talking about. I’m in academia, so do other professions typically not refer to people by surname? I can’t imagine knowing there are several Pauls and only using a first name to talk about him, or even being an external person asking for someone and not using a surname! Why would you assume people know who you’re talking about based on first name alone? Kids often get put into classes with multiples of popular names and it’s not a problem. Children are able to do this. My close group of 9 friends in school had 4 first names between us and we were never confused. I don’t understand why adult professionals spend so much time having trouble with it.

    1. Penny Lane*

      And good lord, all the interchangeable and interminable anecdotes about how everyone’s office had 4 Jennifers or 5 Bobs or 6 Wakeens or 7 Kristins. This whole thing is so un-noteworthy. It’s like saying – I’m hiring someone and they need to breathe in the office, however will I accommodate them when I need to breathe too.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      And not for nothing, it’s the same reason I’m bemused by parents who go overboard trying to find a unique name for their kid, and bypass names they like out of fear there might be another one in the class. …So? The kid will live.

      1. Observer*

        Even better, the parents who complain that some “stole their name”. Like, what? What did you just say?

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        I KNOW!!! **facepalm** Someone wrote to Miss Manners saying a distant cousin of her husband’s IN ANOTHER COUNTRY named her son the same name the letter writer had used, and she was upset that it had been a year and they were refusing to change their kid’s name.

        Are you serious???

        Ah, here it is:

  44. M from NY*

    OP#2 Given that this is happening in a payroll department the actions of the supervisor is even more egregious and I hope the OP responds sooner than later. Frankly I don’t care why she is doing it the behavior needs to stop immediately and the employees assured that they will be supported and not blamed for reporting what was going on.

  45. Liane*

    OP 1, you need to read the post (link in reply) from someone who was offered a good job. BUT between his acceptance and start date date, management insisted he go by an entirely different given name on the job because a current employee said that the candidate’s name, King, was offensive to her religious beliefs.

    Spoiler Alert (from the comments): Candidate rescinded the acceptance.

    (I have only skimmed comments so may have missed earlier references to this archived post)

    1. Nonsenical*

      This is actually a cultural discrimination issue as well. My friend’s father is named King and it is actually an Amerniean tradition and that is how his name became his.

  46. WeevilWobble*

    Definitely don’t mention Arya making enough money. There is no clue what is going on with her. For instance, withholding money and controlling all finances is common in domestic violence relationships.

    I’m not suggesting that’s happening (that would be a huge leap to take!!). Just don’t bring her finances up at all. The focus should be it’s inappropriate to ask at work (except for the very rare one off “forgot my wallet”) and especially so as a manager.

    1. Pika*

      It just looks bad. And it sucks. If your boss is getting paid so much more than you and then going to ask you for money? That sucks. Especially if I have to deal with my own financial problems, but with less money to deal with them. Everyone acts like we should ignore that point when it is a normal reaction to be like, “Damn, you make twice as much as I do. Why do you think I have money to give you?”

  47. Thursday Next*

    OP #2–I’d be tempted to skip asking Arya, “Is everything okay?” I wouldn’t want to give her the impression that I thought her behavior could be defensible. Jumping from “I’ve been told you’ve been asking the Stark boys for money” straight to “If you’re having difficulties, I can help direct you to resources” is matter-of-fact, kind and firm: it acknowledges the possibility of difficulties (kindness) and offers the only reasonable course of action the company allows (firmness).

    I’d be curious about the amounts in question. If she’s hit them up for 10 or 20 pounds all told, that’s one thing, but if we’re talking about large amounts, I’d work that into the discussion with Arya.

  48. LaLa*

    I have a friend who was forced to start using an odd nickname because her name was too similar to a supervisor’s name. Think Carol and Karen, with the nickname ‘Rennie’.

  49. Half-Caf Latte*

    Op #1 –

    I noticed that you made sure to point out that most of your volunteers are over 60. I’m not clear on what the purpose of that was, unless you have an impression that they are somehow not as sharp and won’t be able to get it because of their age?

    If that’s the case, please consider that your volunteers may be disinclined to continue if they find you think less of their abilities due to age. I sure would and I’m well under 60.

    Also, my parents are of that age, and their social circle has far more duplicate names than mine, which in turn has more than the decaf espresso shot and her pint sized friends.

  50. Teapotty*

    I have a very common name for females born in the 1970s. I have often worked with other women of the same name which has never caused any bother. The only time I became irritated was when I was about 17, and someone else started with the same name. Instead of calling us ‘teapotty in typing’ and ‘teapotty in orders’ they decided to call her Teapotty and i was relegated to Little Teapotty. This was before the days of email so it would have only been phone or written communications to worry about. Yes, I found this rather insulting as we didn’t share job roles or surnames so it was just laziness on their part. It was made no better by the explanation that I was smaller (thinner) than the other girl so they couldn’t call her Big Teapotty and I shouldn’t mind. I’m still irritated when I think about it now even I am no longer skinny! Names are so personal.

    1. Nonsenical*

      My mother named myself and my younger sister after her two closest friends. It led to myself being called Little Nonsensical. I hated it. My younger sister was lucky in that the older one went by a shortening of the name, so she was able to go by her full name rather than Little Closest Friend’s name.

      1. Not a Mere Device*

        I was “little Vicki” to “big Vicki” for a while–which was acceptable because this was while big Vicki was my nursery school teacher.

        Also, it’s Vicki, not Victoria–my birth certificate and my passport both say “Vicki.”

        Also, I once worked in a seven-person department that included two Carols and a Carolyn. We did just fine.

  51. Will's Mom*

    Years ago I was hired by a woman with the same name as mine. She was not a very nice person and I am. My coworkers would refer to us as “nice Jane” or “b1!(h Jane”
    It was a blessing when they fired me. :)

    1. Triple Anon*

      Wow. It sounds like you were the only nice person there. I’m glad you got out!

  52. MuseumChick*

    OP 1, I worked in a museum where the director and I (a lowly tour guide) shared the same name. No one needed to use nicknames because almost from the moment I started people found very obvious ways to differentiate us. For example

    Co-worker 1: “I spoke with Jane S. about the program I want to develop. She’s going to ask the board if we can get funding for it.”
    Co-worker 2: “Cool, have talked to Jane B. about it? I think she would be interested in helping develop that.”

    I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill here. It’s not at all uncommon for places to have people with the same first names. Maybe for a few weeks the volunteers with have the “Wait, which Jane do you mean? Director Jane or new-hire Jane?” conversations but trust me, they will figure out on their own who to distinguish between you two.

  53. Gotham Bus Company*

    OP 1…
    What if she had the same full name? My organization has three guys named Don Smith PLUS a Don Smyth and a Dan Smith. Fortunately, they work in different areas, but their names appear together in our global email list and there is often lots of confusion. None of them has been asked to change his name. Two have started using their middle initials, but that doesn’t help much.

    1. Anonymous Ampersand*

      In both my current job and my last job there are staff members with the same full name. In both cases the staff members in question always immediately forward on and delete any emails they receive in error. I’m sure if I was in that situation I’d do the same.

  54. Cordoba*

    OP#3: “I am aware that I am not the “top choice” candidate for this position and I have been selected by default — i.e. no other qualified or suitable candidates at this point.”

    In this case it sure sounds like you are the “top choice” candidate.

    Rational employers don’t make hiring decisions by comparing applicants to a theoretical ideal candidate who maybe exists and will maybe apply someday. They pick the “top choice” out of the actual people who have actually applied for the job.

    Definitely go to the in-person interview. Forget about the phone interview, if they thought it was a catastrophe they wouldn’t be bringing you in for the next round.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Agree. This is a place where job interviewing is NOT like dating. It is not an insult to be chosen even though you are not a 100% match. The job is not going to eventually have an affair with a better-suited candidate. Many jobs get filled by someone who was not the absolute top candidate for a very good reason*, and it ends up working out great for all involved.

      *Reasons include:

      *Top Choice went with another offer, or wanted too much money.
      *An otherwise B+ candidate had some special skill that Top Choice did not have, like fluency in a useful language.
      *Top Choice clicked with a lot of people, but someone else clicked better with someone whose opinion mattered more in the hiring process.
      *Most common of all is there were multiple excellent candidates, all of whom were an A-. All of them were about equivalent, but missing different things. That doesn’t make you an inferior choice to another candidate; they just need to weigh their needs against what you are bringing to the table.

  55. Lady Phoenix*

    OP 2: Before doing anything, I would verify this information with Arya’s subbordinates. If this information is true, then bring her into rhe office and inform her that asking your subordinates for money is wildly innapropriate and an abuse of her power. Then tell her that this is a warning and to stop her action. If she pushes back or tries again, then punish her.

    As much as I dislike it when people seemingly rub their mknetary class in my face, she might not have access to her own money… or her husband could have a gambling/drinking/jerk problem. You can’t always assume these things.

    1. MissDissplaced*

      You know… that thought crossed my mind. It does not excuse her behavior in constantly asking others for money, but given some of her supposed comments I have to wonder what’s really going on.

  56. LizB*

    OP2, in my department, we have four management-level staff named (let’s say) Alice, Bob, Charlie, and Doris. We also have the following lower-level staff: an Alice on Doris’s team, a Bob on Alice’s team, a Doris on Bob’s team, and a Charlie on Charlie’s team. Nobody gets confused about who’s in charge. Even external partners who rarely interact with our team don’t get confused about who’s in charge. Know why? Because if someone comes in asking for Alice, we immediately clarify “Alice in Marketing or Alice in Operations?” or “Alice B or Alice F?”, and they tell us, and the interaction proceeds from there. Never has Alice F tried to usurp Alice B’s role on the grounds that they have the same name, so now she can answer high-level Marketing questions! It’s just… not a thing that happens. If you’re really concerned that having two staff members with the same name would create some kind of crisis of authority in your organization, that points to something that’s amiss in your organization or your own level of confidence in your position.

  57. Environmental Compliance*

    OP1 – I have a name that for some reason no one can get right. It’s a very average name and is pronounced just how it’s spelled. Think like Melissa. I have no idea why few people can get it right. I have been called Melinda, Belinda, Alyssa, Carissa, Miranda, Mary, etc, etc….if it sounds kinda vaguely like it, people make the assumption that if it’s close enough, good enough. But my name is my name.

    At LastJob, BossLady had a similar name. Think like Vanessa. For some ungodly reason, no one who called in could remember who they needed to talk to. I tried giving out my direct line instead. Nope, they’d lose it and call the general line and spend 5 minutes berating the receptionist. It was unreal. BossLady never actually put a stop to any of it and just pressured me to change to a nickname I do not like (i.e., Mel). I do not ever go by that name, and to me it tends to have a very ‘young’ sound, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid.

    I was incredibly happy to not only have everyone at NewJob get my name right, but they also all just call me by that name. It’s great. It’s a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but it means a lot. Your name is your name, and you shouldn’t have to change it for someone else’s “convenience”.

    1. Birch*

      This anecdote underlines the fact that the issue is not that people have similar/unfamiliar/long names, but that some people are too lazy to try to use someone else’s name properly.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Laziness is exactly it. I will always understand people asking me if my (real) name is spelled with a C or a K. Heck, I’m even okay with them misspelling it with a C and not a K, because at least those sound the same, and unless I spell it for you, you won’t logically know which one it is. But when they call me the equivalent of Mary when my name is the equivalent of Melissa….come on, seriously? That’s not even the same number of syllables. And there’s only 3 to begin with! And all 3 are pronounced exactly how you’d expect them to based on how they’re spelled!

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Though I will say that my absolute favorite caller-in really wanted to speak to a Claudette. Very nice person who called in, very calm, but insisted that a Claudette left her card and she needed to talk to Claudette.

          Claudette is not anywhere close to either of our names except for the first letter – for one of us. I still don’t know how the lady got Claudette when she had one of our business cards in front of her, but I really enjoyed how politely insistent she was that she had to talk to Claudette, she wouldn’t the receptionist that answered the general line what the call was about, she just needed. to. talk. to. Claudette. Receptionist finally gave up and just guessed (turns out she needed to talk to the person who starts with a K, so I’m still confused on Claudette, but whatever).

  58. You don't know me*

    3) I was the third choice candidate for my current job. I didn’t find out until a few months after I started the job but honestly, I don’t even care. I’m glad the other two didn’t work out!

    5) A former coworker allowed us to throw her a baby shower even though she knew she had no intention of coming back to work after her maternity leave. At least you feel a little bad about it. We probably would have done the shower anyway. Any excuse for a party, eh?

  59. Nicole*

    OP#1, I’m reminded of the story posted here on AAM about the employee with a non-English name whose coworkers brought it upon themselves to give her a nickname. I know your intentions were not nefarious, but imagine how disrespected you might feel if someone asked you to start going by a name other than the one you use, merely for their convenience? I take it your clients are smart enough to be able to tell the difference between your looks, voices, last names, and such.

    OP#2, UGH! That is totally not cool. If a higher-up ever asked me for money (heck, even if they just unloaded their personal problems on me), my respect for them would immediately disappear. More so if I knew she was taking these lavish vacations and buying new cars—how utterly insulting to someone who may be financially struggling themselves. Regardless of how much more “Arya” makes this is never okay, and she is totally abusing her position here. Asking for money every single day? That woman needs to get a budget. I’d be wary of trusting her with anything financially important at work, too.

    OP#5, Outside of being forced to participate, if these coworkers are doing this it’s because they care about you and they’re happy for you. Truly decent people won’t suddenly stop feeling this way because you don’t work with them anymore. And really, if they do, good riddance anyway. Enjoy your shower, and congrats!

    1. Lara*

      “how utterly insulting to someone who may be financially struggling themselves.”

      Absolutely! I’m so confused by people who say it shouldn’t be a part of this. The fact that Arya has less money than her subordinates *after she spends it on frivolities* is not a mitigating factor.

  60. Cass*

    Oh dear. I might also add at the end of Alison’s suggested wording, “Your job will be in jeopardy if you continue asking anyone who works here for money.” I think someone who has the gall to ask their subordinates for money needs to have this stated very clearly.

  61. Ellen*

    #5 reminds me of something an old boss said to me. I reported to three people at the time, and she wasn’t my primary manager (fortunately). My other two supervisors had supported me in a job search because they knew I wasn’t going to be able to move up where I was, and when I told them I’d accepted a new job in October of that year, they congratulated me and were genuinely excited for me. My third boss? She said:

    “Thank goodness I hadn’t bought you a Christmas present yet.”

    But I bring this up as an outlier. Everyone I’ve mentioned this story to has been horrified by her reaction. OP, you shouldn’t feel bad about your shower!

  62. Bookworm*

    #1: You can ask, but don’t be surprised if the persons says no. I personally associate nicknames with friends or family and wouldn’t like a work nickname just because someone else has the same name (if it’s something like “Speedster” because I can get through X task at work really quickly then that’s different). This reminded me of a somewhat similar situation at my very first job where there were two Johns in different departments. Because their last names were relatively short (two syllables at most?) we just used the full names (saying “John Smith” and “John Jacobs” or whatever their names are) when needed. Or something like “Sales Amanda”, “IT Amanda”, “Front Office Amanda” (denoting the department/area) could work, too.

    #4: I would. How this shakes out and how it’s presented might vary, but I love working from home and like the savings (less need for dry cleaning, commute expenses, etc.) but at the same time you don’t want to get gypped when it comes to pay. Good luck in how it rolls out.

  63. Justin*

    I worked at a place where, out of, I dunno, 15 people on the administration floor of the building, 6 were named Lauren/Laura/other L names, and on top of that, they were all similar ages, races, etc.

    And yet we managed to survive! Crazy!

    (We just added their last names if it was necessary.)

  64. sb*

    OP1 — you shouldn’t ask her to change, but I do think you can ask if she prefers Amanda or a nickname — just don’t imply there’s a “right answer” to that question. She might prefer to avoid confusion herself, and/or maybe she really does prefer Mandy but was going with her legal name throughout the interview process. Or is like me — I have another of those common women’s names, but one that doesn’t have any common nicknames, and there were so many of us in my high school class that nicknames abounded, and I ended up with one (based on my last name) that I’d be happy to use again in a professional setting but wouldn’t think to spontaneously supply. I wouldn’t want any *other* nickname, though; one is enough.

  65. Katie the Fed*

    There’s a slight whiff of ageism in OP#1’s letter too – as though the 60+ crowd can’t handle two people with the same names. It’ll be fine.

    1. Baby Fishmouth*

      I got a bit of that from the letter too, and frankly, it doesn’t make sense – 60+ is the crowd that are MORE used to multiple people having incredibly common names like Joe, John, Mary, Elizabeth, etc. etc. etc. They can handle dealing with two people with the same first name.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Yes, they absolutely can. I work with volunteers in that age group, and they are neither more nor less likely to mess up someone’s name than anybody else. I mean, there’s one elderly lady who’s called me “Katherine” for the last 20 years despite numerous corrections and despite the fact that when she sees me, I am usually wearing a name badge that says “Kathleen,” but there are one or two much younger people who call me “Kath,” a nickname I am not overly fond of, also despite numerous corrections. Some people are name-manglers and some are not, and I don’t think age has much to do with it.

    2. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

      My mom and dad are over 60, common names and have friends and coworkers and goodness knows who in between with the same name. They’re not confused by a name being shared. I agree the idea “old” people are so easily confused is off base.

  66. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    OP #1 – in my division (IT), we have at least 5 different Davids at all times. We just call them by their last names or David in Ops, David in Helpdesk, etc. It will be okay. Please do not ask your new hire to go by a different name, it’s like saying something is wrong with her as soon as she starts a new job, and is already nervous about making a good impression. People will figure out the difference between you.

    Also – even if some people don’t figure it out and get you confused, IT’S OKAY. It doesn’t diminish your role. In my former job, I was called by the wrong name by a few professors, because they were just bad with names. They remembered who I was and what I did, and how I helped them – they remembered my impact on them. But they always called me some really random name ( ex, name is Ann but they would call me Jennifer or Elizabeth). People will remember your impact if you do your best to be helpful, professional, and kind.

  67. Kimberly*

    Sorry I don’t get the name thing. I grew up with at least 3 people with my name in my grade, plus several more the year ahead and the year behind. We didn’t get confused because last names were used. My sister and I are the only ones of our 20+ 1st cousins that aren’t named for someone. There are multiple cousins named James/Jimmy, Micheal, Arthur/Edward/Edwin, and Mary/Margaret, Anne, Carlie and the guys often have the same last names. Still, my Sister says Arthur called about X. I know which one she means because of context. The LW should either start using last names or titles when introducing people. Make it the norm of that culture.

  68. Fabulous*

    $150k a year for a mid-level independent contributor and non-supervisor role? What field is this and how can I get in on it! I’m a mid-level independent contributor and non-supervisor and I barely scratch $40k yet!

    1. Nonsenical*

      I am entry level and only 2 years ouf ot college and in the 70k area. It is not unusual for people in my area to be offered 80-90k straight out of university with zero experience.

      It depends on location and field.

  69. jenniferthebillionth*

    OP#1: In my office, there are four people named Jennifer. We never discussed it, but organically we became Jen, Jennie… and two of “Jennifer the [job title]. At first, we all answered whenever anyone asked for any variation of “Jennifer,” but it smoothed out. If anyone had asked me to use a nickname because they were here first, it would have left a very unpleasant taste in my mouth. It will work itself out. Let it, don’t force it.

  70. aes_sidhe*

    Re: OP #1 – I have a *very* common name from when I was born. In my mother’s defense, I was supposed to be a boy, and she had a name picked out and everything. When I was born and the doctor announced I was, in fact, a girl, she was left scrambling for a name, and my great-grandmother ended up naming me. So, in saying that, there were a LOT of girls in my class with my first name, and we just did the First Name Last Intitial for a while until another girl transferred who had my same initials. It wasn’t a huge deal, and people figured it out pretty quickly as to which one of us someone was referring to and it was fine.

    Names are incredibly personal, so don’t ask someone to change their name just because you have the same name. Generally, people aren’t stupid and will figure it out. If they accidentally get you confused, it’s totally okay. The world won’t end if it happens.

    1. Not actually Joseph*

      In first grade, I was the only Joseph in my class and I went by Joey. Midway through the year, a Josephine entered who also went by Joey. And we had the same last initial. In speech, we were “boy Joey” and “girl Joey” or “Joey HisLastName” and “Joey HerLastName,” and on papers we were Joey Hi. and Joey He. It works out.

  71. Come On Eileen*

    “Yanny, I’m going to need you to go by Laurel when you start working here…”

  72. Not Really Liz*

    A nickname is no guarantee, anyway. I’ve worked with a woman with the same name as mine for fourteen years. I go by a nickname, she doesn’t (like I’m Liz, she’s Elizabeth). We still constantly get messages and such intended for each other.

  73. JJJJShabado*

    We have about 40 people in our company. I’m a department of 9 and 3 of are Joey Joe Joe. The third hire agreed to go by a derivation of his last name (e.g. Matt from Matthews) when asked (asked not ordered and I refuse to use it because I’ve known him for 15 years, I use First Name Initial). There’s also 3 Mindys (across the company, usually context or initial suffice there. We just hired a second Lenny into same department with another Lenny, but he was fine going with initials when asked.

    I see no issue with asking if they have another name they like to go by, but it is not ok to demand it. If it were me, I would say that I prefer to go by Joey Joe Joe and people would figure it out.

    1. Triple Anon*

      I agree that how it’s brought up is the main issue. If it’s asked in an open-ended way, it’s fine. The thing to avoid is picking a nickname for the person. Even if you ask them nicely if they would be ok with using it, there will be pressure because they’re new and a subordinate. This is a typical, “Yes, but be aware of the power dynamics,” type of situation.

  74. Observer*

    #2 – Stop Worrying about offending or upsetting Arya. What she is doing is utterly unacceptable, and it would be so even if her financial problems were 100% legitimate.

    You need to tell her ONCE that she needs to cut it out. After that, it’s firing time. Follow whatever process you need to, and document everything meticulously. But this is SOOO out of line that it really is a deal breaker.

    1. aes_sidhe*

      I have never understood why people worry about offending someone who is being offensive already.

  75. it_guy*

    #3 – I got an offer because their preferred candidate backed out because the process was taking too long and found something else. This was one of the best jobs I had!

    For all you know, the reason you weren’t the top pick was because you reminded the interviewers of somebody they hated. There is no way you can find out why you were #2

    The question is not whether you should be interested because you were #2, but do you want this position because you really want to work there?

  76. Cordoba*

    I’m surprised by the amount of comments here saying how personal and significant people find their names, and how attached to a specific form if it they are. Not saying that this is wrong or not something that should be respected; just that it’s very different from how I think about this and I would not have expected the strong feelings associated with it.

    I don’t attach any significance to my name and really only see names as a convenient means to identify or get the attention of a specific human. I’ll happily go by long form, short form, first, last, nickname, localized transliteration. Whatever. I only mind misspelling and mispronunciations to the extent that they cause practical problems.

    It actually throws me a bit when people ask “Do you go by X, Y, or Z version of your name?” My typical response is “I guess X, because it has the fewest syllables.”

    If I was this new employee and somebody asked if I could go by an alternate form of my name to avoid confusion I would not find that to be even remotely offensive, and would actually appreciate their sensible approach to identification.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      This is a very unusual attitude, Cordoba (may I call you “Doba”? ;-) ) – in fact, I’ve never met anybody who was as casual as you are about your name. I’m not trying to talk you into anything, so if you don’t mind if people call you lots of different things, that’s fine with me. But do keep in mind that unlike you most people do have preferences, usually quite strong ones, and you need to honor those preferences.

      1. Cordoba*

        I agree about respecting people’s preferences and will happily call somebody else whatever they want.

        I’m just surprised that so many people would regard OP1’s question as insulting rather than merely odd.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          Well, there can be lots of reasons why people react strongly – maybe they knew someone really unpleasant with that nickname and just don’t like the associations, or maybe their parents only called them that when they were on trouble, or maybe they just really like the way FullName sounds and therefore don’t want to be called NickName. People can develop a strong preference for any or all of various reasons. When you think about it, having a strong preference regarding the name you’re known by makes at least as much sense as, say, a strong preference for the color red instead of the color yellow, or for waking up to music vs. waking up to an alarm. It’s all a question of personal preference.

    2. Jules the Third*

      For many people, the label is part of our identity. I tried some nicknames in high school, but went back to the name I’d been called since birth. We called my son a nickname from birth, but at 3yo he rejected it thoroughly in favor of the name on his birth certificate, so it starts at a pretty early age.

      The world is full of different people, that’s what makes it interesting.

    3. Nicole*

      I think it depends on the name, too. For me, I have the choice between “Nick,” which would only cause more confusion because my gender identity doesn’t align with that name, or “Nikki” which I find to be too informal, almost casual and cutesy. It actually gives me the heebie jeebies when anybody calls me that.

      For what it’s worth, my last name is only one letter off from a famous actor so I’ve spent my whole life constantly correcting people in how it’s spelled/said, so I’m probably more protective of my name than average.

    4. Birch*

      It depends on the context, too. I have a very common name in English-speaking countries but I’ve found that it’s almost always mispronounced in other countries because of the vowel combination. I don’t really mind that, because it’s entirely possible that they’ve never met anyone with my name, and it’s typically short encounters or in situations where I can’t correct them (it being yelled over the intercom in Stockholm airport is a memorable example). On the other hand, English speaking people will automatically shorten it, which I HATE. Imagine meeting Catherine for the first time and calling her Kate, Katie, or Kathy. It’s just rude to assume things about the way other people use their own name, and using a nickname when you’ve not been instructed to is really forcing social intimacy with someone. Refusing to learn it entirely, or refusing to add a surname to differentiate between two Catherines is lazy and dehumanizing, basically saying your laziness is worth more than someone else’s identity. That’s why people get so up in arms about it. I recently had an email interchange of at least 10 emails containing official documents in which my name was misspelled or shortened every single time. It’s so rude! Take 2 seconds to read or listen to someone giving you their name, and use that!

    5. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

      Yeah, it’s gonna be different for every person, which is why LW’s suggestion is kind of a minefield. There’s a chance the candidate is like you, and wouldn’t mind at all, but there’s just as much of a chance that she really values her name as she presents it already. Not only that, but there’s a possibility that while one nickname would be fine (Jess) another one would not be (Jessie), because of personal baggage/association. And because of the power dynamic, it’s gonna feel like more of a burden for the candidate to refuse if she doesn’t want a nickname.

      I know for me, my name isn’t very nickname-friendly (or, it could be but no one’s ever shortened it because it’s a somewhat uncommon name). I’d feel awkward being told to go by something else because my name feels fairly personal, even though I do have nicknames in other parts of my life. I have no specific reason as why I feel “ownership” over my name, but it’s just how I feel and that’s not an uncommon feeling.

    6. Jen S. 2.0*

      I also think so many people are sharing these stories to point out just how extremely common this is. OP 1 seems to be new to the idea that there can be people in close proximity of similar names, and is looking for a solution to a problem that every other classroom and office in the world has solved.

    7. Observer*

      You are unique. For most people name and identity are tied together. Asking them to change their name is asking them to change their identity or divorce their name from their identity.

      Beyond that, most people who are past their first job have a professional identity that is tied to their name. Asking someone to use a different name somewhat severs that connection, which is not a good thing, especially for people in a public facing role.

      Lastly, there is the little practical problem that for most people being called by a different name is a HUGE adjustment. For most people, the scenario looks something like this: Joey “needs” to be called Joseph because that’s “more dignified”. For the first month or so, every time someone tries to get his attention by saying “Joseph” he ignores it the first two tries because he’s not registering that someone is looking for HIM. Then for another month or two, he picks up on the second try. Then for another few months, he DOES pick up right away, but there’s the cognitive dissonance of “Who is – Oh, me!” It’s not necessarily conscious, but still an additional cognitive load.

  77. Dust Bunny*

    My real name is an established name (as in, not invented by my parents or a “normal” name with a drastically altered spelling) but it’s obscure and the pronunciation is not immediately obvious. However, it’s not *that* hard, either, if you take a moment to listen to me. I could go by one of several nicknames but I don’t like any of them.

    I don’t think OP1 quite grasps how insulting this is. I work here. You can by god learn to pronounce my name (or learn to differentiate me from another person). We all went to school with kids who were name duplicates and it’s really not that big a deal.

  78. DCGirl*

    In regard to Letter #1…

    For what it’s worth, I once worked at a place that suddenly found itself with a surfeit of Toms. They ALL had a nickname to avoid confusion, such as initials (TJ). My boss, the fourth in a line of recent hires, was universally known as T4.

  79. NW Mossy*

    OP1, on more than one occasion I’ve shared first names with my boss – it was fine, and the moments of true confusion about who was who were very rare even without resorting to nicknames. Misdirected email was about the worst of it. I’ve also been on many teams that had more than one person with the same first name. It’s just a thing that happens.

    Interestingly, I’m facing a version of this for myself because I just hired a new employee who has the same first name as an existing employee on the team. The plan is to ask the new person if he has a nickname he likes and wants to use, but if he doesn’t, they’ll just be Ferdinand A. and Ferdinand B. and we’ll get along fine. And yes, we already asked Pre-Existing Ferdinand if he wants to use a nickname and he declined.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think Pre-Existing Ferdinand is a great way to differentiate :)

  80. SleeplessKJ*

    LW#1: OMG NO you don’t get to tell/ask her to use a nickname! I had a job where afternoon I was hired, my supervisor informed me that they’d be calling me “KJ” because there were “too many Karen’s” in the department. Well not only was “KJ” what my ex husband used to call me, it was upsetting to not be able to use MY NAME. It colored the way I felt about that supervisor and that job to this day.

  81. Wendy Ann*

    I work in a 5 person office and two of us have the same name and the same last initial. To add to the fun, I (Wendy 2 because I’m the newest) covered for Wendy 1 when she was on mat leave so for some people I was their first Wendy! Apart from other locations not realising there were 2 of us for a couple of months, there hasn’t been any huge mix ups and if there are, we just forward the email/phone call/message to the right one.

    I also work with 4 Jennifers, a Jenny and a Jenna.

  82. LesleyK*

    My name is Lesley and many people insist on calling me Les. I correct them right away. One co-worker named Robert persisted in shortening my name until I started calling him Bobby. That worked.

  83. kale*

    Re: the nickname letter—the president of my company goes by the initials of her first and middle name, think KC. My coworker goes by KC, too, as they’re also the initials of her first and middle name (think Katelyn Christine). Upon my coworker’s hire, our boss (not the president) suggested that my coworker go by her first name, for ease. My coworker had no issues with this, and she’s known around the office as Katelyn while still going by KC in other areas of her life. If she’d been off-put by this, I’m sure the company would’ve rolled with two KC’s, but it wasn’t really that big of a deal to ask, imo.

    1. Observer*

      How do you know? If she’s any good then it’s quite likely that this is not the kind of thing she’d talk to about with someone in the office that she’s not close with.

  84. Anony McAnonface*

    I worked on a ship with a very close friend. Despite not looking anything alike, people confused us a lot. We wore a uniform but I wore the same hat every day, and she did not…so…you’d think people would figure it out, but no. One day we were hauling lines next to each other and the bosun called out, “Wendy!* Quick! Belay that line!” and we both said, “Which Wendy*!?” and it turned out she meant me, even though she was using my friend’s name. (*not her name)

    If we can take 2s to clarify while under sail, in high winds, while working with semi-dangerous machinery, office folks can figure out a workaround for two Amandas, or whatever. Amanda A, Sales!Amanda, Amanda Who Knits…you can figure it out. And if you emails have a signature like, Amanda Executive VP of The World then there won’t be any confusion anyway.

  85. Allison*

    My name is Allison, and that’s the only name I go by. I don’t want anyone calling me Ally, or Al, Allison Wonderland, or anything else, and I have no problem correcting people who try to use nicknames on me. I would be pretty pissed if my boss or workers wanted me to go by another name just because there were multiple Allisons in the office.

  86. Snark*

    It is so insanely inappropriate for a superior to be asking subordinates for money that I’d consider it grounds to consider firing immediately, and if not that demoting her to a position of no management responsibility. It’s just so insanely inappropriate that it calls her ability to manage into question, and at the very least she should not be in a management position moving forward.

    1. HS Teacher*

      I agree, regardless of circumstances, too. Even if the manager person was legit struggling to make ends meet, asking a subordinate for money would still be completely out of line.

  87. "Amanda"*

    OP#1 here… I have very much realized I am worrying about something that is probably not a big deal. I will not ask her to go by a nickname, but rather ask her to collaborate on ways to address these concerns.

      1. Strawmeatloaf*

        Easy enough to do “Sam J.” Or “Sam T.” If you don’t want to use full last names.

        1. Birch*

          Is there a specific reason to use initials rather than whole names? It just strikes me as very elementary school. Surely adults can learn to pronounce and spell two names per coworker.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Glad to hear you’ve found a solution to the problem! Sometimes we need an outside perspective to help us figure something out. Good luck!

    2. Rat in the Sugar*

      Thanks for updating us, OP! Hope you don’t feel piled on, many people here have Feelings about names and so any related letter will always have a TON of comments. :)

  88. Interviewer*

    OP2 – I work in payroll. Supervisors regularly asking their staff for money is so over the line. She’s taking advantage of the power dynamic, and these people make less than her. If you investigate and confirm the reports are true, I would terminate her immediately.

    Make sure the investigation asks if there are other incidents where she crossed boundaries with her staff. If she’s doing this, it’s possible there could be more inappropriate behavior to discover.

    Once she’s gone – escorted out with no chance to log in or pack up files – I would audit her work. In a company large enough to have this many people in payroll, it’s possible for her to know exactly how to set up fake employees, change rates, edit timesheets, change bank accounts, etc. in order to divert funds her way. Payroll requires a great deal of trust and confidence in the staff. Even so, you probably have audit systems in place to spot variances. You probably review reporting data. You probably have security settings in place so only a few people can do all of these things. But what if any part of this work is her job?

    Better to find out now, before your audit teams do. And I would make that part of the termination meeting, to see if she’ll confirm or deny it, to let her know that a loss of a trust & confidence in a supervisor in payroll will lead the company down this path.

  89. Manager Mary*

    OP 1, if “Amanda H.” and “Amanda F.” don’t work out, see if you can come up with something title-related. At one of my volunteer jobs, I work with one age group and another Mary works with a different age group so I’m “middle school Mary” and she’s “3rd grade Mary” which isn’t great, but we were both “Mary M” and it isn’t a situation where everyone knows our last names anyway. Perhaps she could be, say, Outreach Amanda, and you could be Admin Amanda? Or whatever is appropriate for your organization!

  90. Politico*

    In THE WEST WING, Toby Ziegler was President Bartlett’s second choice for communications director! That worked out OK (all right, until the seventh season and the space shuttle fiasco…).

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      The West Wing has relevant examples for Letter #1 too! In Season 4, Will Bailey has “The Laurens” and he gives them all football jerseys to wear and refers to them by their numbers.

  91. AKchic*

    I have a lot of thoughts on #2. And I know that my personal history is going to color this considerably.
    I want to preface this with a disclaimer. In no way to I believe that Arya’s behavior is acceptable. Full stop. Let me get that out of the way.

    Having said that, I am looking at what is presented. Arya makes a lot more money than the others, her husband makes even more than she does, they have a vacation home, they take at least one lavish vacation a year, they dress well and she drives a nice vehicle. What if all of that is for appearances and her husband is financially abusive and withholds money from her? I see this a lot. Outwardly, the abused spouse appears to be living a financially-rewarding life, with all of the appearances of wealth, but really is not given two coins to rub together and has to justify every cent and how each expense they make will look on the abusive partner before that person will give so much as a dollar, and will expect not only receipts and change, but will calculate to the very penny how much tax, fuel consumption, the time it should take to get there and back, and how it will benefit *them* for the abused partner to have the item.

    I’m not saying this justifies what Arya is doing to her reports. I am saying that this *does* happen. It is also another way of controlling her actions. By making her beg others, it is another way of alienating her from support because people will avoid someone who constantly appeals to them for money, especially when it looks like they already *have* money. I think this is something that should be considered when confronting Arya about her continuous pestering for money. She may actually unload on the supervisor that yes, there is a situation at home and the supervisor needs to be aware of potential resources of this variety.
    Of course, it could be that they aren’t doing as well financially as they like to brag. Keeping up appearances even though they have hit hard financial times is something that plagues people too.
    Ultimately, Arya’s issues are her own and she needs to keep them out of the workplace, or she will need to be removed from the workplace. Her subordinates are not her personal ATM or charity office.

    1. Observer*

      Outside of pointing Arya to DV resources, I think all of this is really not relevant. What she is doing is abusive and also a huge red flag for fraud, and the potential for DV being a cause does not make it less likely.

      Do you remember the letter about someone who framed a co-worker to get the police into her workplace so she could get their help with her abuse situation? I don’t see that mooching off your direct reports, especially one that are not highly paid, is any better.

    2. Lara*

      I agree abuse is a possible scenario here

      Keeping up appearances is also possible. I think it is more likely. I also have zero sympathy for it.

  92. Robin*

    Regarding names – I work in a federal government agency that has 5 other Robins. The name is not age-specific. We range from late 30s to early 60s – I am 56. I use my middle name on my emails so they can associate “which Robin”. We are inundated with a lot of Beths, Mikes and Steves.

  93. Pamela*

    I once substitute taught a class of second graders. Of the 23 students, 7 were named Robert.

    1. JM in England*

      I remember a local TV news story some years ago where a youth soccer team was composed entirely of boys named Chris!

  94. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

    If LW #1 really wants to suggest something, it would be better for her to ask in an open way, “Since we both share the same first name, how would you like to be differentiated?” Still, this is basically a non-issue. Context clues are gonna go a long way in knowing which person is the subject of the conversation, or who’s being addressed. People survive all the time with sharing names.

    LW #5, don’t feel bad! Leaving a month or two after getting gifts wouldn’t even be on my radar except maybe being sad because we just had a small celebration. Job searches have such weird time variables too, I wouldn’t really think about it too hard.

  95. Strawmeatloaf*

    She should be allowed to keep her name. It’s a pain in the butt, but people should be able to use them. I remember in High School a girl in one of my math classes having both the same first name and the first letter of our last name. Teacher just called us by “first name last name” when she wanted to specify one of us. It’s not that bad.

  96. FrontRangeOy*

    There are at least four “Elizabeths” in my small office. They’ve sorted out what they prefer themselves. A couple use nicknames, a couple use full name plus last initial. It takes a bit of getting used to but a cheerful “I’m Elizabeth S now and this is Elizabeth D who will be going with me to community events” should work just fine.

  97. Not really Lily*

    To Q1 – I’ve been in your shoes! Hired a subordinate with the same (somewhat unusual) name as me, and our name has no nicknames (not Lily, but we can use Lily). I was a little unsure about how it would work, but it was fine. She was a manager under me, and the management team sometimes referred to her as “Teapot Design Lily” whereas I bet her reports had some similar term for me (the Lily they dealt with less often). Or we just used last names, but honestly, it was clear from context almost all of the time. (Teapot Design Lily obviously wasn’t the Lily making big decisions about the company, Boss Lily wasn’t making detailed teapot design moves, neither of us were referring to ourselves in the third person…) Good luck, but I bet this will be easier than you think.

  98. Mrs. Fenris*

    There were four Janes at my old job. All in the same role. We had no trouble with it at all. One had a “work nickname” that had stuck and nobody had called her Jane for years. We called the others by their first and last name, or frequently just their last name.

  99. Doe-Eyed*

    LW4 be wary of negotiating teleworking privileges. I’ve had more than one friend do so and then the manager they worked it out with left and new management put the kibosh on the whole thing and they ended up with short stays on their resume. If you can try to find a company who’s natural structure supports teleworking positions.

  100. More Than One Me*

    I work a a non-profit where I am a co-founder and CEO. Luckily, I have a distinct first name because it might be disastrous (in our sometimes contentious movement where just using a wrong word can lead to serious drama) if some inexperienced new hire were to represent our organization literally in my name, potentially leading someone to think they had conversed with me.

    I know of several other non-profits where one or two people are well-enough known within our realm of activism that anything attributed to their names would be presumed to be the official position of their organization on this or that contentious topic. One of them is named Kim. And… yeah, it would be a big problem if a newly hired staffer who might be interacting with the public were to identify herself as Kim when meeting people, who would then presume they had met *the* Kim. This might be even more problematic if the new hire isn’t yet sufficiently savvy to always know exactly the thing to say to reflect the organization’s position on this, that, or the other.

    And, no, random members of the public won’t attend to Kim S versus Kim Y and it is anyway a weird thing to say, “Hi! I’m Kim S” when meeting someone for the first time. I also think it would be kind of inappropriate to expect the well-known Kim to forever after have to call herself “Kim Y” in public because an entry level staffer who sometimes leaflets or staffs a table at events happens to have the same first name.

    So… I think it would be entirely appropriate to ask the new hire to choose another name — her choice! — to use when representing the organization to the public, so as to not accidentally misrepresent the organization to the public. Internally, yes, identifying nicknames will emerge organically (I once knew a “big Chris” “little Chris” and “first Chris”) so nobody needs to change the name they are known by within the organization. But it’s perfectly legit to ask a new hire in this rare situation to choose her own nickname to use when interacting with the public… and to encourage her to have fun while doing so.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      More Than One Me
      No, it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask the new hire to choose another name. She can introduce herself as Kim Herlastname, and if you’re as well known as you claim, they know you as Kim Yourlastname.

      And no, it is not appropriate to be more considerate of random members of the public than of your own employee.

      If your new hire introduces herself as Kim Yourlastname, and you’re well known, the public knows they’re not talking to you, so your concerns are invalid.

      I’m glad I don’t work for you, because if I did, and you came to me with this demand, I’d have said no, and quit on the spot. It’s so far beyond the pale, I would vote for you for Alison’s Worst Boss of 2018 award.

      1. More Than One Me*

        Wow, I am really surprised by this. I started out working as a cashier in fast food. We all had name tags with our first names and only our first names on them. If you were named “Mary” but the store already had a “Mary,” then you had to choose another name for your name tag. Maybe your middle name. Maybe a nickname. You were “Mary” to your coworkers but whatever your name tag said to the customers. And it was NO BIG DEAL. Many of us actually enjoyed choosing name tag names other than our own even when we weren’t duplicates, to preserve privacy or just for the fun of it. So, I am really not understanding this at all. I can’t imagine being offended if I were a new hire and was invited to come up with an alternative public-facing name to avoid confusion. I wish somebody could explain it without calling me a candidate for worst boss.

    2. JS*

      It is something to consider if its going to cause a big issue if “Kim” accidentally misrepresents herself. However I still wouldn’t *force* someone to change their name. I would ask them if they had something else they went by and explained why I am asking. I would then say if they did want to continue to go by their legal name to then make sure they add in a disclaimer when interacting with the public (and in their emails) and make it apart of their job requirements. This way when they introduce themselves as Kim people know they are talking to “individual contributor Kim” not “CEO Kim”. Saying something as simple as “Hello I am Kim Jahn, I work in outreach, not to be confused with Kim Long CEO”.

    3. Observer*

      Give me a break. If you are so prominent, people should know your last name. And there is nothing weird in introducing someone as Kim Jones as opposed to Kim.

      As for the issue of an inexperienced staffer mistakenly representing you, the solution is not to make ridiculous demands, but to hire well, train appropriately and have clear policies and procedures. For instance, in my organization, everyone who has any interface with the public knows what they are and are not allowed to say. Mostly because for most of the staff, the ONLY things that they are allowed to say in the name of the organization are to repeat our official policies and stuff that’s in public posting (eg if it’s on a flier that we’ve been circulating, you can repeat it.) Anything else needs to be referred to the ED or program manager as appropriate. Anyone who has some discretion is not someone who is new and inexperienced.

  101. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP1: You should take note that it was a plot point on 30 Rock that the head guy Jack told an employee he just hired that he had to go by Danny now on learning that the new employee’s name was also Jack. This was meant to be a hilariously absurd thing that shows how ridiculous the boss was. Asking people to change their name because it is the same as yours is not okay at all. We have three people named Megan on my team and it has never caused even the tiniest bit of confusion. If this woman is a good candidate, hire her and people will be able to handle the name issue just fine.

  102. Database Developer Dude*

    Name change? Uh, no.

    As a young junior enlisted troop on active duty in the Army, I wound up temporarily working under this Sergeant Major who tried to insist on a nickname for me because his first name was the same as mine. I told him “Sergeant Major, there are two reasons that’s not going to work: 1. I already have a nickname for those I’m on a first name basis with….and 2. We’re military members, on duty, in uniform. If you’re calling me anything other than Specialist (mylastname) you’re wrong.”. And then I walked away……

    OP#1 sounds like a real winner. I think she’s being territorial about her first name, and the only one she’s trying to show who’s boss is the new employee who shares her first name.

    In my civilian capacity, if a boss ever asked that of me, I’d laugh in their face, and dust off my resume. That’s so beyond the pale offensive that I’m glad I’m not a younger hothead who might tell off the manager loudly and in no uncertain terms…..

  103. Database Developer Dude*

    Oh, and about the same name, I should get one of my co-workers to start reading this blog. There’s already a commenter who calls herself Katie the Fed, and my co-worker is also a government worker named Katie, so she could comment as Katie the Other Fed.

  104. Triple Anon*

    I think people have made their point in regards to OP1. She knows the dynamics of her workplace best. The duplicate name issue could be a serious concern. She’s gotten some good recommendations and has been respectful and appreciative in spite of the harsh tone of some of the comments. I don’t think this is an appropriate thing to pile on about. Let’s keep it constructive.

    I mean this in a friendly way. I get why the topic has provoked a lot of critical replies. I’m just pointing out that a lot of the criticism at this point is duplicating things that have already been said, and the OP has commented saying that she’ll take some of the advice that was offered.

    1. Observer*

      I agree on the piling piece. But the “knows her workplace best” I don’t buy at all. The things she said simply don’t add up.

  105. VermontAutistic*

    On number 1-

    In my previous position I shared the same name as my manager in a working group of 10-11. Although we had other departments come by to chat at some point one of my coworkers, who I am close friends with now, started referring to me by my full legal name right in front of me when the manager was not in the area. It was really awkward for me to be talked about in almost the third person and it was really awkward for my manager when she found out this was happening.

    Although it’s helpful to have a way of identifying the right “Jane” also recognize who your audience is in conversations. It is fine that someone referred to me by my legal name when I was not in the area and my manager was part of the conversation. But considering I am a BBW and almost 5’10 and my manager was about 5 ft and HBP and we looked nothing like each other… it was overkill

  106. LiveAndLetDie*