former coworkers crashed my networking party, using a fake voice in an interview, and more

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

1. My former coworkers crashed my networking party

I can’t believe I am asking this, but is it okay to crash a networking event if you’re friendly with the host? After the first day of a large conference (1,000+ people) put on by a former employer, I held a small networking reception with a hosted bar for my largest client and was in charge of all details, including the guest list. We had physical invitations and people were greeted at the door where the invites were exchanged for drink tickets.

Three of my former colleagues arrived uninvited, and I let them in anyway, because I didn’t want to be rude and the vibe of the event was casual enough that it wouldn’t matter too much. When I went to make the rounds later though, I saw they had brought in four more uninvited guests from my former company who I had never met, had taken over a central part of the venue, and were loudly talking and drinking among themselves and ignoring the rest of the guests. I admit, I reacted with shock at the time and asked what they thought they were doing and said to the people I knew that they were taking advantage of our friendship. They just laughed and said they were fine so I walked away. The next day at the conference, one of them told my employee that they were upset and that I owed them an apology!

For some added context, they knew they weren’t invited and had borderline bullied one of my employees all day about getting an invite. I just set up my own consulting company, and this event was the first one I held for this client. The people who crashed are in very low-level, but visible positions in my industry and I will have to engage with them repeatedly over the years. So, do I owe them an apology? Or do I give one anyway to keep the peace? What I want to do is call their director (my old boss) so he can let them know it isn’t cool for half his department to crash my event simply because I used to work there. But maybe I’m in the wrong and should apologize?

Is it possible they didn’t realize the event was truly invitation-only? It’s common for receptions like that to be open to whoever shows up. The fact that they were angling for an invitation earlier that days makes that unlikely, but they still may have assumed it wouldn’t be a big deal since you knew them, it was for networking, etc. Plus, once they showed up and you let them in, that probably reinforced their thinking that it wasn’t a big deal.

They were rude, but I think you’ve just got to figure that if you really wanted the event to be rigidly invitation-only, you needed to turn them away — or at least to explicitly tell them that you couldn’t permit any additional uninvited guests. Once they and their four additional guests were already in there, you probably would have been better off letting it go — or, if you really found it unacceptable, to ask them to leave. It sounds like your outrage may have made it into a bigger deal than it needed to be.

I would not call your old director about this; that’s going to add to the drama and prolong it. If you have a professional need to have good relationships with the crashers, then yeah, I think you probably do need to at least attempt to smooth it over with them. That doesn’t necessarily mean apologizing, but it might help to at least say, “I realize I sent you mixed messages about the event — I had intended it to be invitation-only and primarily for my client, and I should have been clearer about that rather than getting frustrated when you brought in additional people.”

Read an update to this letter

2. Should I use a fake voice during an interview?

I work in corporate training and instructional design. Over the past few months, job descriptions in my field have increasingly mentioned that the job includes recording videos and voice-overs for training materials.

I don’t mind doing this, but frankly my reedy baby voice is unpleasant. I have done some community theater over the years, so I have experience smoothing and lowering my voice, but it takes concentration, and I couldn’t sustain it permanently. Doing it long enough to record a video would be no problem.

Would it be wrong to interview for this sort of job in my “theater voice”? I could be setting myself up for a comedy of errors if I get the job and show up speaking differently, but I don’t want to be passed over for jobs because they are imagining my mousy squeaking on their videos. I also can’t visualize a way to demonstrate multiple voices in an interview without coming off as unhinged.

(The “theater voice” isn’t comically different, but the difference is noticeable. It’s lower pitched, and more gravelly/less breathy. Friends have joked that my performing voice sounds like me after 20 years of whiskey and cigarettes.)

I don’t think it would be wrong to interview using your theater voice. Lots of people have a more formal voice or a “professional persona” voice. It’s still your voice, just a different version of it. And I doubt anyone is going to be that weirded out by it when you don’t use that voice during normal to day to work. They may not even remember it was different in the interview, and if they do … well, they’ll assume you put a different energy into your voice when you’re trying to make the sort of impression one tries to make in an interview. (That said, my own voice has like three different versions depending on my level of formality and whatever my energy happens to be, so I tend to just not think it’s that weird.)

3. Halloween Christmas card

The photo for our annual Christmas card is being taken on Halloween, prior to our office Halloween potluck, while people will be in costumes! (We are an medical software company, and our recipients include hospitals, clinicians, and universities.) Ugh. I feel that this is unprofessional, tacky, and weird — I don’t understand why we would use a clearly dated photo for our Christmas card. How, if at all, do I raise this concern to our higher-ups?

If you want to raise it, you can be direct about it: “I think it will look really out of place for the season if we send a Christmas card where people are obviously in Halloween costumes. What about taking the photo next week instead?”

But I wouldn’t worry terribly much about it. It’ll be a weird Christmas card! That’s okay.

4. Callers keep getting my name wrong

My name is Christina and I work a receptionist job and I get a lot of calls daily. Sometimes when speaking to callers, they decide to call me “Chris” instead of Christina. I have an extreme dislike for being called Chris, I don’t even allow close friends or family to call me by that name. It doesn’t seem to be helped by the fact that there are many others at work who do go by Chris.

I’ve tried overly pronouncing my name but it doesn’t always work. Is there a way I could politely tell callers that my name is Christina and not Chris? Or is this just something I need to learn to accept?

If it’s a caller you’re going to speak to regularly: “Oh, it’s Christina, not Chris.” Don’t make a big thing of it — just a matter-of-fact correction and continue on with whatever’s being discussed. And if they repeatedly get it wrong after that and it’s bugging you: “Just so you’re getting my name right — it’s Christina.” After that, you have to decide how much you care — but you want to err on the side of not being this person.

If it’s a caller you’re not likely to speak to again, I would let it go. They’re only going to be in your life for a couple of minutes, and you’ll probably be happier if you decide not to care rather than try to correct it every time.

I know there are people who come down very strongly on the side of “your name is your name and you should never accept being called anything else” … and I agree with that when it’s family, friends, or people you interact with daily, but at work sometimes the path of least resistance is the happier one.

5. How can I prove I was employed at a company that’s been sold or closed?

For many years following college, I worked as a newspaper reporter for a company in Pennsylvania (1994-1999). I left the company in 1999 when I moved south. It was five years of employment experience where I won a few awards and gained good professional experience. The company was sold, sold again, and is now owned by another company. The office I worked at is closed. At least I think it is. When I googled it, it looks like it’s used for storage or printing or something like that. My supervisor died a few years ago.

How can this experience (which I consider valuable) be confirmed on my resume? I have many many clippings of news stories I wrote during this time. But other than that, I don’t know how to confirm I worked for a company that doesn’t exist anymore at an office that doesn’t exist anymore for a person who died, Eddy. There were many others who worked in the office. But I reported directly to Eddy.

Also following that job, I was the marketing director for a company for eight years (from 2001-2009) which has been sold, sold again, and is now a completely different company. How can future employers verify my employment? I’m not even sure how to go about doing it other than show samples of my work from that time period.

Most employers actually aren’t going to be that interested in verifying employment from 1999. If they want to, you have published clippings you can use, but it’s very unlikely it’ll even come up as something they want to check into.

They may not care about verifying the 2001-2009 job either, but if they do, you can explain the situation and offer to put them in touch with former colleagues who worked there. (If you haven’t kept in touch with anyone from that job, try tracking them down on LinkedIn.)

This is a thing that happens! It’s unlikely to be an issue, assuming you have more recent work history and more recent references.

{ 547 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    Tax records can also be used to prove employment, especially in cases of more lengthy background checks.

    1. anita*

      I just had to do a background check that asked for the start and end date of each job (10 years back). They would not accept my tax records and I had to dig for pay stubs. I’m saving my first and last stubs from now on…interested in any advice other folks have about how many to keep in between.

      1. Augusta Sugarbean*

        I’ve had multiple backgrounds that ask for anything from 10 years to every job and every place I’ve lived. I’m a pack rat so fortunately I actually do have everything from my first job onwards. I made a spreadsheet with all the info on it so it’s always easily accessible. No reason not to digitize the info if you don’t want to keep hard copies. Why not keep it all?

        1. AdminX2*

          Bah cause I hate STUFF that doesn’t have a purpose! I’ve moved a LOT, so I want to keep that stuff which really matters, not all the stuff which MIGHT possibly matter to someone at SOME point for a weird reason.

          1. KE*

            I totally agree, but I think Augusta was suggesting to keep it all digitally: “No reason not to digitize the info if you don’t want to keep hard copies. Why not keep it all?”

            1. OfOtherWorlds*

              I’m way to ADHD to do any of that. If you want something more than a month and year (or just a year in some cases), you’ll need to figure it out for yourself. I don’t remember and the records are lost or thrown away.

            2. Engineer Girl*

              If you are old enough the digital scan didn’t exist. It only works for jobs within the last 20 years.

                1. Ozma the Grouch*

                  Not if your docs are already long gone because the IRS only required you to keep them 3 years and no one ever told you you would need them for any other purpose so you didn’t keep them.

        2. Name Required*

          It sounds like that system works for you. It doesn’t mean that there are no reasons for not using this method. Digitizing takes time to do and costs money for space (on the cloud or external hard drive), especially if you are keeping everything. Electronics productions and the storage of digital data have real environmental concerns which some folks choose to minimize by not storing unneeded data. For most, the likelihood that you would need paystubs from 20-30 years ago is pretty darn low. Scanning each one in and organizing it into a spreadsheet might be a good use of your time, but isn’t for a lot of people with such a low possible reward.

          I don’t save any of my paystubs. I save my tax returns from the past 7 years, and then I purge them. This has worked great for me; I have not once needed a paystub from 2005 when I started working. In fact, I haven’t need a single paystub beyond verifying it at pay time OR trying to start my tax prep early. It’s pretty standard advice for those items not to be needed past 7 years, at least in the US. I’m curious about what sort of job Anita was getting that required such a strenuous background check — my brother has a security clearance for his work with the NSA, and they didn’t require paystubs from 10 years ago.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I once had a 10-year check working for an investment bank. I didn’t have documentation of everything, luckily they accepted what I could remember of random restaurant jobs in the early 90’s.

            1. Anita*

              The NSA doesn’t need your pay stubs because they’re talking to people at your former workplace. And many other people, besides.

              Someone else mentioned the work number and I can vouch for this – places listed in that database were never contacted. Other employers were contacted for the purpose of employment verification only. Discrepancies or non-responses resulted in a follow up. My experience was exactly what the financial sector poster described. We may have even had the same company conduct it (HireRight).

      2. Washi*

        Is this common? I’m early in my career so I guess I’ll save pay stubs going forward, but if I had a request like that, I would not be able to comply because I definitely wasn’t saving anything 10 years ago.

        1. Ann Perkins*

          In the financial industry, it’s common to need last 10 years of employment history and residential history. I had a background check get stalled before registering a candidate for a FINRA exam because one of his previous jobs wasn’t returning the call from the agency performing the check.

          1. BatmansRobyn*

            Also financial industry, and when I was doing my background check I was having absolute FITS getting an internship with a government agency verified. The internship was unpaid, but I was getting Work Study money through my school, and the contractor who does the background checks literally could not handle that setup as a concept, and then wouldn’t accept the paystubbs I ~did~ have….because they were coming from my school, and not the agency!

        2. RainyDay*

          I recently had a background check for a new job. I have several years of traceable employment history – no problem, right?

          The background check company called my former employer to confirm employment. They claim they left a voicemail and never heard back, and I had to chase it down or provide W2s. I had my tax records but not the actual W2s. Okay, get them from the IRS, right? Turns out I wasn’t eligible for the immediate name verification and had to wait for an PIN to be mailed to me, which could take a week.

          I called my former employer, discover they switched to The Work Number. Gave this info to the third party. They still had issues and said they couldn’t verify.

          I finally called TWN. They asked for a company code. Fine, I ask my former employer. They don’t have one as they only use it for former employees. This went back and forth for a few days, where I was essentially being asked to provide something that nobody had, and it was holding up my background check (and pending employment!).

          I finally raised enough of a stink and got a human being at my former company, who was able to give direct confirmation that I worked there.

          I keep paystubs now.

        3. Product person*

          I just had to provide information on past employers for the past 15 years for a background check (private company). My husband had to go through the same process when he recently changed jobs (also with a private company in the U.S.).

          Curiously, the background company asked for a W2 for a company that is still in business and in the same address because they couldn’t find anyone who could confirm my employment, and not for another that disappeared after an acquisition. Luckily I had the W2 — they say they could work with me if I didn’t have it, but I didn’t want to risk delaying my start date and promptly sent them a copy.

          I also had to send them a copy of a recent University diploma (my husband had too–even information about employment with his University during his PhD, which was hard to find).

          Moving forward I’ll make sure I have copies of W2 and start and end dates saved, because you never know when a background check will require it.

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            I’ve had issues with a background check where an old job that was still in the same place with the same number and the Payroll person just never seemed to feel like calling the background check person back. I finally emailed her myself and asked her to PLEASE call this dude because I can’t work until she does. That finally got them the “yes she worked here,” that they needed. That was very annoying.

      3. Hiring Mgr*

        That seems crazy… If a company is doing a background check wouldn’t they or whoever they hire to do it be the ones to find all this stuff? I’m confused as to why you would have to provide these things yourself.

        1. Anita*

          The background check company verifies what you provide. Part of the background check is seeing whether you are lying. There are background checks where they just check for criminal histories which is what property management companies will do when you are applying for a rental.

          This was not for a security clearance so they didn’t require my past residences. Security clearances go back 10 years too.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            Yeah my experience is that the background check co’s verify your dates of employment, among other things, so in that case I don’t see why you would need pay stubs. But i have limited knowledge of how it all works.

            1. Ozma the Grouch*

              I’ve been working since I was 14… I don’t think I could possibly remember the actual start and stop dates for every job I worked. Some jobs were so quick that I barely remember the month. It’s more like “the summer of 1997… maybe June?” If they “caught me in a lie” it would be more like… “dude, I wasn’t trying to be deceptive, I just couldn’t remember the exact dates. All I really remember is that I quit almost immediately because that manager was a massive sleezeball!”

        2. LJay*

          In my industry 10 year background checks are mandatory.

          Companies have different levels of competency in being able to find this stuff themselves.

          One place contracted with what seemed to basically be a call center in the Philippines to do the employment verification portion, and it took months, and there were several jobs that they were unable to confirm for whatever reason. I had to supply paystubs to them for them to verify the position.

          My current company has one woman in-house who verifies everything. I supplied pay stubs to verify one of my jobs to expedite the process because nobody in HR at that job was picking up the phone. My background was done in like a month for this job, and probably would have been done sooner if she wasn’t also responsible for checking about 50 other people at the same time.

          One company I worked for had a department that did it all in-house. They didn’t ask for anything from me and were done in like a week.

          Basically, you need proof that you’ve been working consistently for years and were not off in a terrorist training camp somewhere. You provide the information, and they try to verify it. If they can’t verify it, either you come up with some proof, or they go, “Sorry, we can’t offer you the position because we couldn’t verify X,” so it’s in your best interest to be able to provide proof.

          They do obtain all the non-work related stuff, like driving records, criminal records, credit score, etc, themselves. And they do make at least a cursory effort to verify employment themselves. But if you were self-employed, or the company shut down, or just nobody is answering the phone they need some way to verify. Also, the W-2 from the government wasn’t considered sufficient evidence because it only showed how much you made, not when or how sustained your work was. So pay stubs or similar evidence with dates was required. (I find this dumb for a number of reasons, but whatever).

          I’ve actually found “The Work Number” to be really helpful. Employers verifying backgrounds have to pay to use it. However, as an individual you have the right to look up your own information. And if you happen to print that and submit it to an employer then whatever. I actually was a little surprised and creeped out by how much info they had on me. It looks like if your company uses ADP for payroll your info is definitely in there, and other companies can participate if they want (just basing this on my own employment background and what they had collected on me.)

          1. Anita*

            Nailed it on the paystubs vs tax returns distinction, thanks. I think I had a comment in moderation saying much of this but may have been caught because I included links to OPM background check forms for the curious. I, too work in the private sector yet had a 10-year background check. I’m not surprised at all that some hospitals would have them – you can expect to encounter this in positions dealing with confidential records or access to high-level IT systems. It’s just a matter of time for many working professionals before they encounter one, even if they are not working in national security positions. I wish I had been better prepared. My experience was much like yours (at a big consulting firm). Did not need a college degree but did need transcripts and dates of all schools attended.

            Fun fact: lenders sometimes want your pay stubs, too. If you are buying a house, not bad to have the first one on hand, and the most recent 3-5…

      4. Katelyn*

        I’d side-eye that very hard, I destroy my pay stubs after about 7-10 years (depends on when I get to the latest batch of shredding) because they have personal information on them, you aren’t required to keep them longer than that under tax law, and I don’t want to keep paper around cluttering my apartment.

        I guess if you scanned them all into a secure storage device that might be worth it? But otherwise, tax records should be sufficient. What was the position where they weren’t?

        1. Ozma the Grouch*

          Exactly, I keep my paperwork as long as the tax law requires me to. I live in a tiny apartment in an expensive city. Space is at a premium. It has NEVER been brought to my attention that I would EVER be required to have these documents for any purpose whatsoever past a certain time period. I happily downsize all my documents every other year. Even to buy a house you only need current pay stubs (maybe 1 year back). So why should people be punished and excluded from a potential job because they don’t have pay stubs from 10 years ago?

          The company I worked for 10 years ago folded (and 6 years ago and 2 years ago). I have no way to access that information. In fact when they changed their system form paper paychecks to direct deposit, it was so “secure” and cumbersome for people to access their pay stubs, no one bothered. Our company was owned by a conglomerate, who gave us new corporate email addresses and passwords just for logging into the HR portal which could only be accessed using IE on a PC on a company networked computer using the corporate profile/outlook sign-in credentials. This was back in the day when outlook only allowed for one email account/profile at a time. So in order for anyone from our organization to access the HR portal we literally had to log out of our computers, log back in under our corporate profile and then log into the HR portal to see our pay stubs (and that’s IF you were on a PC, some of us were on Macs and would of had to borrow someone else’s computer)… It was the most archaic and cumbersome nonsense I ever had to ever put up with. And that doesn’t even consider when we all found out corporate was actually sending us all emails to those addresses, but we didn’t see them because none of us used those addresses except as a means to access our pay stubs.

          Anyway… Long story short: Your reality is not my reality. Don’t assume it’s “just that easy”. Most people who were laid off at my job found out without any notice. They wouldn’t have had any chance to grab their pay stubs. I actually found out I was laid off while I was on vacation. I still have my building’s key card… no one ever responded to my email about returning it.

      5. Genny*

        Who still gets a physical pay check? Every company I’ve worked for uses direct deposit as the default.

        1. anita*

          every job issues pay stubs. they are usually stored electronically on an employee portal, usually affiliated with the payroll processor (even restaurant jobs will generally have access through ADP or similar).

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I suppose I could just leave mine in my email (encrypted files), but I don’t trust electronics enough. The one time I need them the email will be down, or the internet will have crashed…

            1. Glitsy Gus*

              I have a lot of my stuff on an external hard drive. No storage method is perfect, short of a safety deposit box or something like that, but so far the drive is good enough for my purposes.

          2. all the candycorn*

            Yes, but this requires that you log in every pay period and remember to print your pay stub. When you have direct deposit, it’s really easy to forget to do this.

            1. anita*

              I downloaded them all when I left my last job and was about to lose access. That’s why I posted asking which ones people end up keeping. You obviously don’t need five years of them, but you generally need enough to verify starting and ending salary, and possibly the last several if you will be applying for any kind of financing within a few years of starting a new job (see my comments above about lenders requiring paystubs for salary verification).

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              I just keep one of the first ones and then the last one. Maybe a few in between when promotions or something like that happen.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I print mine for my records. Yes it’s cluttery, but I’ve had times when I needed them and I’m not leaving that in the hands of a bank that has demonstrated they don’t give a **** about me.
          The time I’m thinking of is when I was between jobs – probably in the 90’s – and someone in the unemployment office forgot to press a key, which generated a question about my job history and they required pay stubs. I took the whole file on the bus, 1-1/2 inches thick, and set it down in front of the manager. He took care of the problem less than a minute.

      6. LJay*

        For my background check (aviation) I had to supply all of them, as they wanted to know that I had been employed continuously and hadn’t, say, taken leaves of absence for months on end to go do suspicious stuff.

        I think it’s dumb because I could have been working remotely and doing suspicious stuff. Doing suspicious stuff in my city after work. Doing it on the internet. Whatever. But they wanted continuous employment and supporting documentation for any breaks in employment longer than a month or so.

      7. TootsNYC*

        this is interesting; I wouldn’t be able to provide them, especially now that my stubbs are digitized, and I have to go get them–they aren’t even emailed to me.

      8. DaniCalifornia*

        That is ridiculous they wouldn’t accept your tax records. Was it because it was coming from you? Because you can request official transcripts from the IRS that confirm those types of things. Just seems silly, what if you were the best candidate and you didn’t have those paystubs? My job doesn’t even give us paystubs. (I can access them from QB if i want, but if I left here I wouldn’t have access to them.)

      9. Ozma the Grouch*

        I am terrified of this, I don’t have that information and I am very interested in moving on from my job in the next year or so. I have been working since I was 14 but I have ONLY saved my tax documents. I haven’t had an employer who has actually used physical pay stubs since ~2008. Three of my previous 4 employers have ceased existing. And none of them made accessing your pay stubs easy (hurray for direct deposit???) I am in contact with many of my old colleagues and bosses, both as actual friends and as contacts on LinkedIn. So contacting people for recommendation isn’t a problem. During the recession I had up to 3 part-time jobs and gigs at a time. Some of which were so brief I don’t even know where to begin remembering/documenting them for a background check. I’ve had jobs I’ve forgotten about.

    2. FaintlyMacabre*

      Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen from family and friends, particularly in journalism, having businesses be sold or having a lot of employee turnover is quite common. I doubt any one will look askance at your record.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        … and that was not meant to be a reply, rather a standalone comment. But yes, keep your own personal employment records just in case!

    3. Dance-y Reagan*

      Do you know how this works for temp-to-hire jobs? Thinking back, my paychecks from Teapot Temping and Teapot Corp. had completely different contact info/tax IDs. I’m not sure how you would prove they were the same position.

      1. Bea*

        You were an employee of Temp Agency for X time and employee of Actual Company Y time.

        They’re two employers, they file separate taxes, you need to list both.

        If they do a background search they won’t find you at Actual Company until they brought your contact.

    4. Collarbone High*

      Yes, was coming here to advise journalists (and anyone else, really) to scan and save copies of your W-2s each year. Three of my previous employers have ceased to exist in any form, and luckily I’m something of a paperwork hoarder and was able to use those scanned copies to prove employment that wasn’t verifiable any other way.

    5. Elsie432*

      It’s not just employment records. LastJob (a large healthcare organization) wanted to see an actual copy of my college diploma with a raised seal. I graduated from college >30 years ago! I had no idea where my diploma was. What a pain it was to get another copy.

      That same employer also made an offer to an acquaintance of mine who previously did some work as an independent contractor. Employer wanted copies of pay stubs or tax records of all previous employers going back ~20 years. When the contractor could not produce them all, the employment offer was rescinded (after the guy had given notice to his current employer).

      I have many more nightmare stories about HR at that institution. (HR = Hellish Resources)

      1. Michaela Westen*

        That really seems excessive. I work at a hospital that’s owned by a healthcare organization and they did not require all that when I was hired.
        Were the positions especially sensitive, like working with children or abuse survivors? It seems excessive even for that. 20 and 30 years back?
        It seems like the people in charge of this were on quite a power trip!

      2. Rachel - HR*

        I work in HR in a human service agency and are required by our state regulators to have actual proof of people’s degree’s (e.g. copy of official diploma with seal or official transcript) no matter how many years back it was. Please don’t judge the employer when it might be the regulator that is requiring this!

        Sid note: you’d be amazed how often people don’t actually have the degrees they believe/claim they have.

        1. ssssssssssssssssssss*

          Yep. I was applying for a federal government job and made it to the interview process and yep, they wanted a copy of my university degree AND my high school diploma. And they made a copy for their files. There was much hunting in storage for those. I was not impressed as the effort didn’t pay out.

        2. MassMatt*

          Yes but demanding copies or pictures of diplomas, or even to see the diploma live, is not an effective way to make sure someone has the degree they say they do. Is the person in HR asking able to authenticate the thousands of different degrees hires might have? Anyone can photoshop and print up a degree, or buy one online.

          This is a terrible practice that is causing huge hassle for prospective employees. If you need to authenticate someone’s degree then contact their college or university. I would roll my eyes, laugh, and refuse such a request.

      3. Not a Mere Device*

        A phone interviewer once asked me to send them a copy of my diploma. Right, I haven’t needed that in a decade. It took a little while to figure out which box it was in so I could prop it up, take a photo, and send it to them. (No, I don’t know why my parents had my bachelor’s degree framed; I wasn’t the first in the family to graduate from college, or anything similar)

        The company didn’t ask for an in-person interview; I’m glad I didn’t spend money on having them sent a transcript.

      4. Flower*

        I’m not certain my college diploma has a raised seal. And I only graduated last spring. I know exactly where my diploma is, so I guess I could check later tonight.

    6. ssssssssssssssssssss*

      Because my husband was anal about those things, we were able to use his tax records going back to his first one to document every single place where he had lived since he was sixteen for a US Work visa. It was still a slog because he had moved around so much those days.

  2. sacados*

    If it’s a regular caller, I would also double down and take advantage of the fact that there are other Chrises at your workplace. “There are several other people here named Chris, so it really helps to avoid confusion if people call me Christina.”
    Not that you should actually need it, but this does give you another reason that’s not “just” about your personal name preferences and so may help with the type of person who thinks “whatever, it’s just a name and Chris is easier for me to say so I am going to continue doing that.”

    1. kitryan*

      I use this reasoning on people- there’s two of us with the same first names- like Kristen and Kristin and it really bugs me when people get it wrong as we’re not a big office and everyone managed fine until the second person started, then her spelling seemed to override mine for a lot of people.
      I reply, ‘oh, by the way, it’s Kristen, with an ‘e’ – just letting you know so there aren’t any issues with emails or anything.’
      Of course, I shared a last name with another employee when I started at this office and once everybody adjusted to that, she left and ‘Kristin’ arrived and the new name mix ups started.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Oh, man. I feel ya. My name is a Caitlyn/Katelynn/Kaitlin variant and I’m always amazed at how often people spell my name wrong at work…I mean, come on. They’re either typing it in to find me in Outlook or responding to an email I sent them with my signature, but somehow in the salutation they manage to get even the first letter wrong…?!

        1. Julia*

          It always baffled me when people got my old last name wrong in emails. Yes, it was hard (twelve letters, only two vowels), but that’s why you copy-paste! I usually signed with my full name because I was in a last name based culture and hated how people called me by my first name anyway (yay for being a foreigner), so it was right there in the email. Why, people? Maybe I should have messed up some of their names…

          1. kitryan*

            I *also* have an email name twin, where there’s a difference of one letter in our last names and we both have emails. I would get one or two of her emails a year for a while and would always reply to sender asking them to recheck. Once I figured out the point of difference I got in touch with the name twin directly and the mixup mostly stopped – except for one memorable occasion where she accidentally sent me some vacation photos she’d meant to send herself! Autocomplete can be fickle.

          2. Beaded Librarian*

            I knew a guy whose last name was seven letters no vowels. I think it was Gaelic in origin but can’t remember.

            1. Julia*

              That’s quite an achievement. My old name was Polish, and the worst part was making it fit into the Japanese language system, which is vowel-heavy. Hence why everyone called my Julia…

              1. Beaded Librarian*

                Well there were to y’s so technically vowels but one time he was asked to spell his last name after a potential head injury and the paramedics were all looking at each other. We were like nope he’s spelling it right we promise.

              2. sacados*

                I’m in Japan too! And honestly I just go by my first name. It is totally a gaijin thing — we get called by our first names, everyone else is last name — but I honestly don’t care all that much.
                At an old job I went by my last name with outside contacts and it was honestly kind of a pain since mine also has some sounds that trip people up when trying to pronounce it in katakana. y current job, I’ve worked here for over 7 years and most of my coworkers probably couldn’t tell you what my last name is! Haha.
                I also had a first name twin at my previous job, so when I joined she had already taken the firstname@ email alias in our system. Which meant that my email had to be firstname.lastname@
                It was a magazine so a lot of my job was phone based and it was SO incredibly time-consuming and error-prone to have to spell out my full first name “dot” last name (in katakana pronunciation no less) over the phone every single time. Fortunately after not too long my first name twin left the company and I was able to get her firstname@ address transferred over to me, which was SO much shorter to spell out over the phone!

                1. Julia*

                  I have a super easy Japanese last name now, and I insist that people use it. I won’t be calling people Mr. Matsumoto and they call me Julia, it’s infantilizing. Once someone told me that he felt weird calling a foreigner by a Japanese name, so there’s an othering component to it as well.
                  You do you, I will do me.

                2. sacados*

                  Oh absolutely, I wasn’t meaning to be critical at all! And if I had a Japanese last name I very well might go by that too.
                  I think for me it also makes a difference that I’ve always worked in very international/multilingual offices with a pretty high percentage of non-Japanese, which makes you feel much less singled-out than if you are the only one in the department getting the first-name treatment.

      2. Audiophile*

        As another Kristen, I feel your pain. I get Kirstin, Kristin, and some days even Christine.
        The consultants I work with have even started getting it wrong, I don’t take it personally.

        As a kid I always went by Kris, and some family members still call me that, but that’s never been a name I used professionally.

        1. airportbookseller*

          Interestingly, I’m a Beth. Just Beth. You’d be surprised how many actual official documents I get where they have written my name to be Elizabeth! It’s usually not in casual conversation, but people seem to go out of their way, see Beth, and think, oh that is a nickname, I will put her real name into the system…..
          It’s funny, because my maiden name is Slavic with lots of Z’s, so my parents were trying to make it kind of easy on me…

          1. Princess of Pure Reason*

            My mom is a Beth, just Beth, with the same problem. She was going to name me Liz, just Liz, but didn’t want me to go through being misnamed as Elizabeth, too. I vastly prefer Liz to the name I ended up with – the name that has four standard letters in a standard configuration and yet is constantly misspelled and mispronounced. (Thanks for trying mom!) Granted, I’ve never had to explain I’m “Just Me” since my name is definitely not short for anything.

          2. Akcipitrokulo*

            My daughter is Lizabeth. No E at the start. It’s the Danish spelling.

            Sooooo many people, including more than one teacher, tried to “correct” her…

            1. Jadelyn*

              I once had someone try to “correct” me on the spelling of my name – it’s not a particularly common name, but on top of that the spelling is highly unusual and close to the spelling of a different name. (I get called by that other name pretty frequently by people who are reading it off a list…)

              Anyway, I think it was a doctor’s office? Somewhere that I had to sign in, and I wrote my name down and the person I handed the clipboard back to “helpfully” said “Oh, you spelled your name wrong!” and tried to hand it back.

              I just stared at her until the silence got awkward, then said something to the effect of “It’s *my* name, actually, I think I know how it’s spelled, thanks.” Mostly I was just flabbergasted because really, who says that to someone? Your name is literally the first thing you learn to write as a child and probably the word you’ve written the most times in your life, it’s probably safe to assume once someone is past a certain age they’ve got the spelling of their own name on autopilot.

              1. moodygirl86*

                I had a primary school teacher do that to me when I was 10. I have a name that’s commonly assumed to be one spelling, but mine is spelt slightly differently. She told me my own mum had spelt it wrong! I was not sorry to leave that woman’s class the following year…

              2. Tuna Casserole*

                I get told I’m pronouncing my last name wrong:
                Them: You’ve anglicized your last name! You should pronounce it the French way!
                Me: Actually, it’s a Ukrainian name.
                Them: …

            2. GibbsRule#18*

              I was Beth growing up-family and old friends still call me that. Now I’m Elizabeth. Took a little while for my husband to get used to around my family! Those, however, are the only 2 names I will respond to. No Liz, Lizzie, Lizzy, Betsy, Betty, Eliza etc etc.

          3. roisin54*

            I have the same issue with my real name, everyone assumes it’s a nickname when it’s not. It’s also oddly spelled and a unisex name (although my mother insists that the way it’s spelled means it’s clearly a girl’s name.)

            When I was little I’d get really mad and pitch a fit anytime anyone dared to call me by the long form of the name, ditto whenever anyone spelled it wrong (which was most people.) It was primarily teachers and teacher’s aides who called me by the long form. They were mostly very proper Catholic ladies who refused to call students by nicknames so they assumed the long form was my actual name, and would insist on calling me by it until I had my inevitable tantrum at them.

            Nowadays it’s very rare for anyone to call me by the long form, but no one can spell it right still (even though it’s in my email signature) and the amount of people who call me Mr. in emails is staggering. By and large though these are people I will only communicate with once in my life so I’ve learned to let it all go.

          4. Jadelyn*

            My mom gets the same thing – her name is Vicki, really just Vicki but you’d be amazed how often people assume it’s short for Victoria.

            Although at this point the whole family does it as a joke to signify she’s “in trouble”, so.

        2. kitryan*

          I’m not actually a Kristen, I’ve recommended this site to several people at work so I prefer to hang onto my anonymity – but it’s a really good comparison to the actual names involved- including that there are two more common options and then a near-infinite range of variations that can pop up.

    2. Mookie*

      I think addressing the error with that kind of easily-understood explanation is the way to go, when possible.

      It’s good for hyper-corrections, too, where people ignore what they perceive as a shortened or nickname (like believing Jenn was born “Jennifer.”) I had to carefully re-train a client to not refer to me as Mookie H. when speaking with my colleagues because one of our department heads is known as Mookie H. and, as a javahead, she doesn’t give a shit about what variety of tea suits what subspecies of chocolate teapot best.

      1. EPLawyer*

        How did you retrain the client? I have this problem. I have a name that is commonly shortened but I do not. I introduce with my full name. My full name is at the bottom of every email. I still get “hey [shortened] name what’s going on with the case?” It just GRATES. But it’s a client so I don’t know how to politely redirect.

        1. Mookie*

          All of my colleagues who communicated with the client remotely were given a script (repeating my name and title back to her, minus the surname initial) and until she’d adopted the practice, were warned to check with me before bothering the department head. And like sacados and kitryan above, I emphasized to the client herself that deviating from my first name could cause delays and confusion because of another Mookie H. in my organization. The tone was always light, helpful, friendly, and conveyed an attempt to service the client’s own needs rather than save me or my colleagues any bother. It worked, but it took some doing, and I never found out why she was so wedded to the ‘aitch.

          I’m agnostic at the moment about whether one should lie about why a client ought to call a person what that person wants—for me, it’s because people are the sole arbiters of their identity in this way and that autonomy should be automatically respected without having to resort to an elaborate (or not) deception— but for people who feel comfortable trying it out, I say go for it. Path of least resistance + you get your way.

          Going by principle alone, though, and giving the client the benefit of the doubt that they’ll receive the request politely and abide by it and all future reminders, nowt wrong with an airy “oh, I actually go by [EPLawyer’s actual name],” and it seems perfectly polite to me. So frustrating to hesitate to be polite when you’re (sometimes justifiably) fearful your politeness will be harshly judged or retaliated against! Also, it always feels embarrassing to issue these little corrections, but if it really grates, it’s worth it to privilege your own comfort and gently assert your needs and desires when the stakes are so small, even if it doesn’t feel like that sometimes.

        2. Michelle Melissa Margaret*

          (Also a lawyer.) In e-mail, I’ll write something along the lines of what Mookie suggests — “Actually, I’m not a nickname-y person. I go by Michelle, not Shelly” or “To clarify, I go by Michelle, not Shelly.”

          In person, you can “return awkward to sender,” even if it’s a (self-)important client. When shaking hands, if/when they call me Shelly, I smile broadly, keep holding onto their hand, and say, “Michelle, actually. I go by Michelle.” The last time that happened, I helped them save face by adding, “No worries, I’ve just never been called that. Always just Michelle.” It’s kind of a two-prong approach of (a) throwing around my weight as the lawyer in the room, and also (b) using the societal expectation that they won’t be rude to a woman, especially in front of any colleagues they bring along or other people in the office.

          1. henrietta*

            There’s a client of my office who, whenever he sees me, addresses me as ‘Linda.’ My name is not Linda, and isn’t even Linda-adjacent. I don’t have that much interaction with him, and although I’ve corrected him a number of times over the years, I still get a cheery “Hi, Linda!” whenever he visits. So I’ve adopted the ‘return awkwardness to sender’ model by *just as cheerfully* replying “My name’s still not Linda!” as I pass him in the hall.

          2. Kivrin*

            I am also a lawyer, and as a baby associate, I had a partner introduce me to a potential client as “Chris” (when I always go by “Christine”). I froze up and didn’t say anything, and I’m still not certain how I should have handled it without embarrassing the partner.

            (Real names changed for illustrative purposes.)

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              At a firm I worked at years ago, there were so many people with Chris-/Kris- names in the junior associate end of the pool, that one of the partners announced that he was calling ALL associates “Chris” until they figured out which ones were staying long-term. He said he had a 75% chance of getting their name right with “Chris”, anyway – and he wasn’t wrong – though I think that Julie and Jordan weren’t keen on being called “Chris” for three years.

      2. Ann - onymous*

        It’s good for hyper-corrections, too, where people ignore what they perceive as a shortened or nickname (like believing Jenn was born “Jennifer.”)

        I get this every once in a while even though my real, short, name is commonly accepted as a full name: Ann. Occasionally I’ll get Anna or Annie or both my first and middle names, Ann-Marie. (Haven’t gotten that one lately for the simple fact my middle name is not published anywhere in this company. Only HR has it on my application.)

        1. LSP*

          I am guilty of ALWAYS wanting to spell Ann with an “e”, probably because I read “Anne of Green Gables” about a thousand times when I was younger. My cousin married a lovely woman named Ann and I have had to retrain myself to ditch the “e”.

          1. Ann - onymous*

            I try not to get too worked up over the extra “e” in casual stuff (I do want it correct on official things), because it is a legitimate spelling and it’s pronounced the same way. Can’t speak for your in-law. :)

            What baffles me is making a short name longer. You add a whole extra syllable with a simple “a” or “ie” on the end. Frankly, my last name is quite long and I like the balance of a short first name.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              People have asked my entire life what my name is “short for”, and the answer is nothing. It is a stand-alone name that is not short for anything. I finally started asking what they thought it might be short for, and I got some interesting answers, most of which were the same number of letters as my actual name.

        2. Barbara Lander*

          The CEO of a former employer always called me “Barbara Ann” even though, although that is my name, the “Ann” didn’t appear in writing anywhere and nobody else in the world called me that. Maybe he liked the song, I don’t know.

    3. Dopplenamer*

      OP4 here, that’s something I didn’t think about trying and that seems like an obvious response to use on the regulars. I’ll definitely have to give that a try when I get a chance. Thank You.

    4. Tehmorp*

      OP2, just don’t go as deep as Elizabeth Holmes! She sounded quite strange, and apparently it was a complete affectation.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I also think it’s totally fine to say, “I really dislike ‘Chris,’ please call me Christina.”

      You don’t have to, of course–but I think it’s OK to do so.

  3. Marzipan*

    The thing with the situation in #3, to me, is the nature of their work. In most circumstances having a Hallowe’en-y Christmas card would just be a bit weird (and could be quite entertaining and funny, if everyone put a Christmas hat on over their costume, say). But given that their work relates to oncology, there’s a risk that it could inadvertently tip into being tasteless or even offensive, if people’s costumes happen to be of the more traditional Hallowe’en kind* (e.g. skeletons, ghosts). It might be unfortunate to send a Christmas card from an oncology software company that’s like ‘Happy Christmas from the Grim Reaper, two ghosts, a skeleton and a zombie’. I’d be more concerned about that than about it being dated or looking silly, to be honest.

    (*In the UK, people’s Hallowe’en costumes tend to be like this, something obviously spooky. My sense in the US is that it’s a bit more ‘just dress up as whatever’, in which case it might not be a problem depending on what people came as – but then you could get into a weird costume-policing situation.)

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      That’s totally where I thought that letter was going, not just “Halloween costumes on a Christmas card looks weird”. It might make for some bad feelings if people weren’t allowed in the company photo because of macabre and/or inappropriate costumes. (Or maybe not. If I could opt out a company photo, I’d do it in a heartbeat.)

    2. WS*

      Yes, this. It depends who the card is going to, as well. If it’s going to medical staff (including medical suppliers), they’ll probably like it just fine. If it’s going to patients or non-medical people, that’s not going to look great.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Fwiw, I pictured this going to medical staff. And thought that it might play right into the dark humor sometimes associated with terminal-care branches of medicine.

      2. CaitlinM*

        Agreed. Plus, aren’t B2B Christmas cards typically opened by the receptionist/EA and then recycled? That’s what I did when we got them in my previous job…

    3. Lily*

      yep. At least they’re not like that pharmacy who gave small gift baskets to their chemotherapy patients on Christmas… containing shampoo… Happened to a friend of mine. As far as I know, the patients (including said friend) laughed their asses of because it was so tone-deaf, so, not that much harm done, but still…
      (Friend is fine now.)

    4. Mookie*

      Plus, as you say, some people’s taste in costumes reveal their character, tics, and prejudices more than they realize; it’s bad enough for one’s co-workers, so sharing that baggage with clients of this kind of service just seems fraught with unnecessary danger.

    5. P*

      Eh, I’m an oncologist and I don’t want to pull the “oncology is anti-fun” card. It depends a lot on the context and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a) a company having a halloween party and b) seasons greetings company card; it’s little weird it’s a halloween photo but since I love halloween I think it sounds cool XD (of course, if someone is wearing something inappropriate that changes things, but I think that’s a given)

    6. Peach Picking*

      With it being oncology I think they are looking for a laugh.

      When my dad (before cancer 250LB, construction worker, not chatty except for talking about football or fishing) was going through chemo he really appreciated all the corny stuff the office staff was doing. My BIL went once and after the nurse was dressed as a reindeer he came home and proclaimed that he was going to find my dad a grown up office to go to so he didn’t have to put up with that crap. My dad said absolutely not, this was the the worst thing he has had to do and that corney nurse tries every week to get him and the others to smile. He picks his days based on when she is there because for a little bit that it takes his mind off of what is going on watching her make her attempt and the corny jokes she comes up with.

    7. Annie Moose*

      …this is a software company. I highly doubt they’re sending cards to patients. And even if they were, I think most cancer patients can handle a picture of a Halloween skeleton costume! If the company was a funeral home or something, perhaps that would be tasteless, but… this is a company that makes software that relates to cancer. They aren’t a company that deals directly with cancer patients, and they aren’t a company that makes software that relates directly to death. I really, really doubt a couple of distantly death-related costumes are going to cause that much trouble.

    8. Paige*

      Plus noone wants to be reminded of their time with cancer especially if the patient has passed. A Christmas card is not a path I’d like my sisters provider to send.

      1. Annie Moose*

        This is not a medical provider and they are not sending cards to patients. This is a software company that is sending cards to “hospitals, clinicians, and universities”.

        1. Smarty Boots*

          Some of whom may not be Christian. Yeah, I know, it’s giant commercial holiday and doesn’t have to be Christian. For many people, however, it is indeed a religious holiday, and there are plenty of people whose religion precludes their celebrating Christmas in either its religious or secular version.

          Plenty of people who work in hospitals, universities, and other medical professions fit that description.

          Make a holiday card or end-of-year card or New Year’s card, and make it reasonably classy.

    9. Lucille2*

      I don’t see an issue with halloween costumes on a christmas card. Seems kind of fun actually. I agree that costumes need to be tasteful. I was actually more concerned about sexy nurses showing up that day. But I think those costumes are in pretty poor taste in general….workplace especially.

      I had a workplace that used to get really into halloween. It was a photo studio, so we actually did take photos of the staff who dressed in costume in the studio. People would just get more creative with their costumes year after year since we kept an annual photo of the staff.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just a note that the OP asked me to remove “oncology” from the letter to make it less identifiable, so I’ve done that. Noting it here in case that causes any confusion.

  4. nnn*

    My first thought for #3 is: does there have to be a Christmas card, and does it have to have a group photo?

    (I also arrived at “Does there have to be a costumed Halloween event?”, but at this late stage I’m sure people would have already put work into planning their costumes and potluck, so I wouldn’t recommend removing that variable)

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Yeah, I thought a note on the company website saying “We’ve given the money we would have spent on the Christmas card to charity X. Merry Christmas, everyone!” had long surpassed the traditional card from a company.

      But cultures vary a lot. We used to get huge boxes of chocolate from other companies we worked with. Those were the days…

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        As the person who had to get them printed out, and arrange for the entire upper management to sign each card, and dreaded it every year – I am with you on that. But we have been getting more and more e-cards from our bigger customers, some of which are very elaborate! You are sent an email with a very fancy little video, which at least saves quite a few trees, and is probably much easier on the card organizer.

  5. Nobody Special*

    My name happens to be Christina also but I go by Christy. Over my working years I got Chris, Cristine, Kristen, Crystal, Chrissie, Carol, and Cindy. It wasn’t a big deal to me. But my MIL insisted on calling me “Chrissie” purposely because ” it’s a prettier name”. That I didn’t care for (and she had it monogrammed on a towel too. ) But when people are making an honest mistake I don’t at all take it personally. I only correct them if there is a likelihood of subsequent confusion or embarrassment.

    1. Ender Wiggin*

      I’m of a similar opinion to you. My name is an unusual one in my country and I very rarely get people who get it right until they know me a while. I amnt bothered at all.

      However, I have very very rarely had anyone get it wrong on purpose (one or two mean girls in school). I can imagine that if I had been frequently deliberately misnamed by people, I would feel rather differently.

      I’m assuming some people would have a strong feeling about this even if they hadn’t been bullied.

      I hope this doesn’t come across as if I’m criticising you. You never said that OP should feel the way you do or anything. I’m just pointing out that some people feel very strongly on this topic for various reasons.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I also have a name which a lot of people get wrong – there are about 6 different spellings, and I get a surprising number of them, (even when people are replying to my e-mails which have my full name in the signature). Plus at least one common misspelling on my name when a letter is missed out, which I always find odd because (a) my name is right there in my signature and (b) it’s a letter which you hear quite prominently in my name, so it’s odd to me that it gets overlooked.

      I do also get people seeking to shorten it or using a nickname – I will normally correct them once, fairly casually (“Oh, it’s ‘Bagpuss’, actually, I don’t use ‘Puss'”) there is only one short form which I really dislike because it was used deliberately by the people who bullied me when I was at school, but even with that, unless it is someone I am going to be dealing with repeatedly, i will normally correct it once then let it go.

      OP, I think you are fine to correct people the first time they use the wrong name, ideally use a fairly light, breezy tone so it doesn’t sound like you are telling them off, just clarifying a minor misunderstanding.
      I like the suggestion that you tell them it will cause confusion as there are several people named Chris, if necessary.

    3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I honestly don’t even notice when people shorten my name. When my (at the time future) husband met my father, he told me “hey, your dad calls you musi, I didn’t know you were ok with that” and I was all “he does?” so it does not even register with me. However try to call me by just my last name (in that way boys in high school liked to do that somehow still pops up in the workplace) and I will hulk out. I cannot explain why, but it drives me nutty. And it didn’t change at all when I changed my last name, so it doesn’t have anything to do with my actual last name.

      1. Artemesia*

        yeah if the OP has made it clear to her MIL what her name is then this is on the aggressive end of passive aggressive. When she didn’t see the towels in use and asked, I would have said ‘Oh I can’t put them out because my name was misspelled’.

    4. ReiFlinx*

      My name is simple but there are different variations globally. I have been called or referred to by many of them but since I work internationally, I take it in stride. I know I have and will again, mess up the pronunciation of someones name and hope that they would give the same leeway.
      Now I do have one sweet older gentleman, a non native english speaker, who constantly calls me his wife’s name (which is close). I used to correct him but it embarrassed him so much and I did not care that much so I stopped. It’s been 10 years.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      I have a hard to pronounce and uncommon name, so I’ve been called a lot of different names that sorta-kinda sound a little bit like my actual name, including masculine names when clearly I’m female. It used to bug me but now I just ignore it. It’s rarely personal (if it is, you’ll know), and if I’m not likely to speak to a person often, I usually just let it go. Most people will forget your name anyway, because very often they don’t actually care. Do you really, truly, hand on heart, care about the names of people you interact with briefly and rarely, and are you going to devote brain space to remembering their name? Likely not. For the rude people who “name” you because they can’t be bothered to learn your actual name, either become a broken record, “actually, it’s Christina”, EVERY time they get it wrong until they’re annoyed enough to remember your name, or ignore it.

        1. Artemesia*

          I followed this rule on my last name; I have been married over 45 years to my second husband and did not take his name. When people fumbled this because they didn’t know, I always made sure not to publicly embarrass them. After all I was doing the unusual thing back then. I would correct them privately making clear I understood they were following the norm. But for people who made a point of using his name to try to impose their bias on me — I didn’t hesitate to embarrass them publicly. (it is very clear which is which)

          I had a nickname for my name in childhood that I ALWAYS used; when I left college and especially when I married, I drew a bright line on that name and have never used it as an adult. but if someone from my past uses it, I don’t say anything. Most people notice I don’t use it anymore, but those who use it are not being malicious.

        2. PhyllisB*

          At my church there is a lady at our church from Germany that everyone calls Natalie. I did too, until I added her to my FB friends and realized that wasn’t right when I saw her name on FB. I apologized to her and asked her what the correct pronunciation was. She said “Natalie is fine.” (Even her husband calls her that.) It’s really Natalia. My question is: no one else calls her Natalia. Should I call her that since I know better, or will everybody just think I’m being weird?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Sometimes I can remember the names of my age-peers children or pets, but not their actual names. They’re stuck in my mind as “Spot’s mom.”

        1. Ophelia*

          I actually have a few people *in my phone* as things like “Lucy’s mom, playground” or “Spot’s Owner, dog park” and it occurs to me that I should probably suck it up and actually get their real, human names.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          As do I. But then I also introduce myself as such when meeting people I know from animal centered activities. The look of relief on people’s faces when I say, “Hi, it’s Sally, Waffles’ owner” is pretty priceless.

      2. Dopplenamer*

        OP4 here –
        My actual name is a very uncommon name so honestly I’m used to being called every similar variation under the sun. Those, for whatever reason, never bother me and I’ve let people pronounce my name incorrectly for years as long as it’s close enough. But it being shortened to “Chris” has always grinded my gears for some reason. I’ll have to work on not letting it bother me so much especially since most interactions are fairly brief and, obviously not personal.

        Thank You.

      3. Aveline*

        No, but in my case it is because people don’t bother trying to properly say non European names.

        It might not be personal, but it isn’t harmless.

        You are assuming this only happens through carelessness.

        Often, mispronounced or shortened names in the USA and U.K. and Europe occur in the context of race and class and us b them attitudes.

        Please do not be so quick to discount this.

        It might not be personal to you. It is to me because it is about not trying with “foreign” names. My last name is easy to say, but because it isn’t English or European, people simply don’t try.

    6. Armchair Analyst*

      “Thank you so much for this lovely towel! I’ll just leave it here, at your house, so I know which towel is mine when I never visit again. Thank you!”

      1. KE*

        “Ooh, this is so lovel– OH NO! They MISspelled MY NAAAME! Oh what a shame! Here, MIL, we’ll just give these back so that they can fix it to C-H-R-I-S-T-Y, or so that you can get your money back!”

    7. BadWolf*

      Same on name and feelings.

      I used to be really obsessed with people spelling my name right. Now I only correct people if it’s important.

      I do get annoyed when coworkers call me the wrong name repeatedly.

    8. nonegiven*

      If my MIL had done that, I would have thrown it in the trash when I was sure she was looking and then waited in the car. She wouldn’t have done that in the first place but she would have never done it again.

  6. Clay on My Apron*

    OP1 you say “I held a small networking reception with a hosted bar for my largest client”. I think my response to this situation would depend on how the client had reacted. If the client was displeased that could impact your relationship with them or damage your reputation. In that case I’d feel justified in taking it further. At any rate I’d be pretty annoyed. I think this behaviour is rude and unprofessional and I’d make it clear to these people ahead of any future events that you won’t allow them to crash and take over your function.

    1. Ender Wiggin*

      I agree I think that is pretty key info that is missing from the letter. I think your former colleagues behaved boorishly but if it had no impact I would let it go. If it affected your business then you have every right to be annoyed and contact their boss.

      1. Carrie*

        OP1 here. I should also have mentioned, the client was not happy, and more importantly, they will be really not happy if it happens again as this is an annual networking event. Part of my desire to contact their boss is to make sure we don’t start getting more and more people show up every year where I will have to start turning people away. But maybe as Alison says and as some of the commenters are saying, we really need to decide how strict we are on the invites. Either they are needed or not, and the client has never developed a policy around that – mostly because this has never happened before.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think you need to be willing to gird your loins, project charm, and say “Oh dear, there seems to be a misunderstanding. This is a private event” at the door when they try to get in.

          Contacting their supervisor might be the discrete way to pass a message if it were a sincere misunderstanding–but they seem to figure “We used to work with Carrie, she can foot our drinks bill!” Like teenagers who think that their friend getting a job at the local pizzeria means they get free food.

          1. TootsNYC*

            If you are on good terms with their director, you could perhaps contact him and explain what happened, and ask if he’d mentor them a bit about how much damage they have done to their reputations.

            THEY need to be worrying about the idea that, as people w/ less experience, THEY will have to interact with YOU. They are the offenders. Act as if they are.

            If you think their director doesn’t ahve the subtlety to handle this, I might contact THEM, not their director, in writing or email, and say:

            “As you know, that was an invitation-only event. And as it was a hosted bar, which I paid for out of my funds, it was an expensive event.
            “You guys put me on the spot by showing up; I let you in because it seemed better than causing a scene. That wasn’t cool. And then you brought in a bunch of other people to drink my booze, and none of you participated in the actual spirit of the event.
            “That was also not cool. In a big way. It created difficulties for me with my client, and it made you look bad.
            “I want to be sure you understand that you will not be admitted in the future. And since you are less experienced in this field than I am, I want to be sure you understand what sort of damage you can do to your own reputation with this sort of thing.
            “I also wanted to say that I am really hurt that you would ‘use’ me like this–come to the event just to get the free booze, behave in a way that makes me look bad to my clients. We used to work together; I thought we were better friends than that.”

            For god’s sake, don’t apologize to these boors!

            it was a HOSTED BAR!!!

        2. brighidg*

          I think you need to ask yourself why you were trying so hard to make these people happy. From the way they acted, they’re clearly not your friends, you don’t work with them, you don’t owe them anything. You didn’t owe them the opportunity to come to your event and you don’t owe them an apology now.

          I would reach out to them, tell them that they won’t be invited – formally or informally – in the future so don’t bother trying to bully any of your employees. And if there on any further questions, you have no problem reaching out to their boss so you can all discuss this.

          1. Lindsay gee*

            I agree, I would at the very least address them bullying your employee and make clear that isn’t appropriate behaviour for a professional event and make it very clear that you did them a favour and in future that it won’t be repeated due to how they behaved.
            But I wouldnt apologize

          2. Carrie*

            OP1 here. “I think you need to ask yourself why you were trying so hard to make these people happy.” That’s another line that hit home! I don’t owe them anything and they aren’t my industry peers. (Although you never know right! A few years can change a lot.) I’ll have to think about that one more, thank you.

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              Indeed, you never know when you’ll encounter them again, but frankly that did not have to be your problem right then. They were the rude ones for showing up and acting entitled to barge in, and then being poor guests once they did barge in. It would not have been rude or wrong of you to politely but firmly tell them that it was a closed event, and, in fact, that might have been good in terms of establishing some authority. Turning them away would not have been the end of the world. “I’m sorry, you guys, but like I said earlier, this is a closed event. I’ll have to catch up with you another time. I know, but I really can’t let you in. However, the hotel bar is still having happy hour, so you guys can gather over there. Yes, I know I’m having to be strict; my client is particular about their events, and this is for Widgets Inc employees only. Unfortunately they meant it when they said invitation only.” Et cetera.

              It’s not rude to say no. It’s only rude to say no rudely.

        3. SignalLost*

          I hate to say it because I’m not wild about confrontation, but I think you mishandled this by letting them in. (They certainly mishandled it by being boors, too.) But if this is a printed-invites-only situation, the fact they got in and stayed in reflects poorly on you and your staff. I would look at empowering your staff to be very firm about who’s allowed in, and consider backing that up with venue security if uninvited guests (these or others) get in as well. (Partly, I say venue security because adding alcohol to someone so rude as to badger staff for an invite all day tells me where they’re coming from and it’s not pretty.) But overall, I think you need to work on your firmness about gatecrashers, because it sounds like you had a couple opportunities to intervene and didn’t, and now your client is unhappy with you.

          Reaching out to your former boss may be advisable if and only if that’s a relationship you want to preserve, but I would look at it as you are now this person’s peer, not their employee. But a lot of how you’ve presented this has come off as trying to find someone to be the bad guy so you don’t have to, and I think you need to look very carefully at what’s more important here – is that preserving the relationship with your former employer by allowing their employees to run roughshod over you and diminish your authority in the eyes of your staff, or is that preserving your relationship with your current client so that you have future work with them and with the connections they can give your business? (Obviously, I’m presenting that as a very logical choice, because to me it is.) Overall, I think you have a growth opportunity here, in learning how to be professionally rude, which is not the same as personally rude – by keeping the unwanted guests out, while that might have felt personally rude, professionally, you’re faultless, because you’re running the event your client wants and that has value to your client. And you are setting the standards for your employees and your business – that’s not the same as rude by any stretch of the imagination.

          1. Carrie*

            OP1 here. Thank you, SignalLost, I really like the distinction between personal versus professional rudeness and will really keep that in mind going forward. We actually had venue security and used them to kick out random people who came in off the street – which I handled well and discreetly. I think it was the fact that some of the crashers were also my friends/friendly acquaintances (I had just been to one of the guys engagement party the month before) that really threw me off. But if I just put my professional hat on, I absolutely would have reacted differently and not let them in. This is definitely a learning opportunity for me and I am really questioning whether I have set my professional colleague/friendship boundaries appropriately even beyond this one event.

            1. TootsNYC*

              the distinction between personal versus professional rudeness</i
              Also the distinction between active rudeness (theirs) and enforcing the standards and rules of etiquette resulting in unpleasantness.

              You aren’t being rude at all–you are enforcing some basic, human standards. If they have a fit, or cause a scene, this is on them. Believe me, the onlookers will realize.

              Here’s a phrase I use when I need to summon up a backbone–maybe it’ll help you.

              I call it channeling my inner day-care worker.

              You know, the calm, sensible person who understands all about toddlers and why they throw tantrums, and who just doesn’t get upset about it. Good day-care workers don’t yell back at tantrumming toddlers, but they also don’t give in.

              Good luck!

        4. Lucille2*

          If this will be an annual event, you might want to nip this in the bud now. It doesn’t have to be confrontational with your ex-colleagues. You can frame it as, next time I’m not going to be able to open up the invite list. This event is really focused on this client, and I need to keep the event small next year. If you wait until your ex-colleagues are trying to get in the door, you’re more likely to have some hurt feelings. Let’s be honest, they just want an in with the exclusive party, and they believe they have that with their connection to you.

        5. Kes*

          I agree with the other commenters, I think you need to put your client’s interests first since this event is for them and be ready to deny the others entrance if they aren’t invited.

        6. Pikachu*

          Enlist the hotel/venue staff to help you! They are more than willing to play the bad guy and turn guests away if they don’t belong there.

          Sometimes the easiest thing is to have folks wear lanyards/badges. The hotel will instruct the bartenders/servers to only attend to guests wearing them. That way, it’s out of your hands, so to speak.

    2. Daisy*

      I’m not sure the word ‘crash’ even applies. In her own telling, it goes from them ‘crashing’ a strictly invite-only event, to her telling them to come in because it was ‘casual’. Those seem completely contradictory to me.

      It sounds to me like she was very keen that the event be perfect, so was hyper-sensitive to their behaviour. If I was the client I’d feel far less awkward about some people being a bit loud at a drinks reception than the host telling me ‘those people are taking advantage of my friendship!’. I think OP thought she was smoothing it over, but it sounds like she made it more of a big deal.

      1. Clay on My Apron*

        It sounds as though she had the option of either letting them in or being rude. They probably traded on the fact that she’d prefer to let them in than have a noisy altercation at the entrance. That sounds like crashing a party to me.

        I don’t see any reference to her complaining to the client. She told her former colleagues that they were taking advantage, not the client.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Slipping in the extra people makes it especially egregious. “We’ll go up, play on our past connection in an oh-god-awkward manner, get in, then you guys slip up to the back door.”

        2. Em*

          It’s not rude to not allow people into an event to which they were not invited. “We are unable to accommodate uninvited guests” IS mannerly.

      2. Carrie*

        OP1 here. Thanks Daisy, I didn’t think I was smoothing it over, I think I said the complete wrong thing in the moment. I wish I had said I was glad to see everyone and that they were having a great time, but that this was an invite-only networking event, so please be considerate of that. But I didn’t. :-(

        1. CM*

          I’m not sure if you’ve changed your mind after reading more comments, but I think this is still putting your friends’ interests over your clients’ interests (and by extension, your own professionalism). You should have said, “Sorry, guys, you know I’d let you in if this were my party, but it’s for Big Client and they are keeping it invite-only.” (I understand this is tougher than it sounds, though.)

          1. Carrie*

            Hi CM- yes, since reading the comments, I have definitely realized that’s what I should have done! It seems so obvious now.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I’m not sure the word ‘crash’ even applies. In her own telling, it goes from them ‘crashing’ a strictly invite-only event, to her telling them to come in because it was ‘casual’. Those seem completely contradictory to me.

        Oh, they crashed. The fact that they manipulated her into letting them do it doesn’t take ANYTHING away from their rudeness, and it doesn’t change the name of the offense.

        Add to it that they brought in other people that she personally didn’t allow in, and that’s even more “crashing.”

    3. Carrie*

      Letter writer here. Yes, I should have mentioned that. The client was not happy with me because it looked like I brought in a bunch of friends rather than keep it exclusive to VIPs and people associated with our organization. The people who crashed were all younger and either brand new or newer to the industry so wouldn’t have been invited on their own merit. The event is supposed to be the “cool” networking event after this particular conference so we want people to feel pleased to be invited.

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        It sounds like the bulk of the smoothing over should be done with the client, and perhaps a little bit with the boorish former coworkers. Alison’t script is good. You don’t owe them an apology, but if you think a little apology-adjacent explanation might soothe ruffled feelings- and that those ruffled feelings matter- it’s probably a good idea to do so. I’d be more concerned about the client, though. They’re paying you and if they’re unhappy enough with how things went, it could affect future dealings with them. Your former coworkers don’t pay you, and as such don’t really get much (any) say in how you conduct your business.

        1. Carrie*

          OP1 here. Thanks so much. In my outrage, I had forgotten about managing my client! Setting up a meeting to talk to them about what happened and how to prevent it next year will be number one on my to do list this morning.

          1. Ophelia*

            I think in this case, you can say something along the lines of, “I wasn’t expecting the additional guests, but didn’t want to create a scene at the door; I’m so sorry their behavior detracted from the event, and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
            I don’t think the client needs to know how you’ll prevent it, etc., just that you recognize the issue and won’t let it happen again. Then everyone can move on nicely. (I suppose this depends a bit on the client, but I think addressing it briefly, and then not dwelling on it is your best course of action.)

          2. Rose Tyler*

            This comment may be late, but unless the extra people was a big fiasco in the moment I wouldn’t frame the whole meeting around that topic. I would position it as a post-mortem on the event as a whole – what worked, what tweaks you should make for next year, etc. How to handle uninvited people is just a small subpoint.

            I also wouldn’t contact your old coworkers now about how they aren’t allowed in next year. A lot can change in a year – you could be at a different job, the client could want to handle it differently, and so forth. No need to cause drama unnecessarily, just have a plan to handle it in the moment if it does happen again.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Apparently they’re not terribly concerned about their own careers either, since going to a client’s party uninvited and making asses out of themselves seems like a textbook CLM, relevant industry or not.

          1. AKchic*

            I think we can safely say that they have lost their friendly relationship with the OP at this point. I would hope so, at least.
            I’ve had very few instances of people trying to badger my for spots in events, but each time it’s been “sorry, it’s a private venue and limited seating, we’re at capacity and I cannot add anyone, I’m sorry” and be done with it. Act as if it’s not my call to add to the guest list and it’s more than my job is worth to sneak someone in.

      2. Candy*

        Considering you let them in without an invite, I’d say that it looked like you brought in a bunch of friends rather than keep it exclusive because you did. You don’t need to rake yourself over the coals for it, but you did let them in. Own it and then remember to be more firm at the door next time (or hire someone unaffiliated who doesn’t know any of the invitees who won’t feel any societal pressure to let randoms in). You were hosting the cool event of the conference so it’s normal people would want to get in (and maybe it was a bit of a game to them to get inside) but there’s nothing rude about not letting people without invites into an invite-only event.

        1. Carrie*

          OP1 here. “I’d say that it looked like you brought in a bunch of friends rather than keep it exclusive because you did.”

          This hit home hard. This one sentence made me realize I am actually really mad at myself for mishandling things in the moment. Yes, my former coworkers were rude, but what I’m pissed about is my reaction to their rudeness.

          Thank you!!

          1. Genny*

            I have no further advice to give than what’s already been said, but I want to commend you on your responses so far. The advice has been fair, but blunt, which can be hard to hear sometimes. You’re doing a great job of thoughtfully engaging with it and reflecting on what you can do going forward. Self-reflection isn’t always easy, so kudos to you for that.

          2. Gumby*

            If you’d like more ideas on how to handle uninvited guests (and a group of people who will cheer you on for sticking to your guns) take a gander at Etiquette Hell. The posts about having a polite spine in particular. Though a lot of the stories you’ll just sit gape-mouthed at the sheer gall of some people.

              1. LavaLamp*

                Etiquette Hell is closed; actually. The forum splintered and there really doesn’t seem to be a new home for it.

      3. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Young and brand new to the industry. All the more reason to speak to their manager. Tell him that his employees don’t seem to understand the norms of networking. They were uninvited, over-drinking, noisy to the point they were a distraction and they were a detriment to their company.

      4. TootsNYC*

        since they are so new to the industry, you need to stop worrying about whether you’ve offended them, and whether they will be able to badmouth you in the future, or whether you’ll have to work with them, etc.

        I think you should register your displeasure with them, TO them, and let them know that they need to be more worried.

        YOU have the power position here. They should be the supplicants worried about offending you.

        Feel that. Live it. Be more than a little mad.

        1. Carrie*

          OP1 here. Thanks, TootsNYC. I enjoyed your comments a lot. I am trying to strike that balance between owning my position within my industry, but staying super humble and treating people like people. That said, after reading these comments, I see that I’ve veered into caring too much what people think at the expense of my own professionalism zone. I will stop worrying so much about whether I’ve offended the rude newbies and instead focus on making things right with my client and my employees!

    4. Maverick Spend*

      Op1, don’t invite the crushers to your next party, a super swanky caviar and champagne event in a remote location or a secret speakeasy /or the vip room of a nightclub with notoriously unpleasant bouncers. But let them accidentally find a flyer for it.

  7. Jasnah*

    OP1, it sounds like a good part of your frustration is not just at the fact that these people weren’t invited, but at how they behaved at the party. It sounds like you definitely sent mixed messages as to whether or not they should be there by allowing your former coworkers in without invitations, and by not kicking the uninvited ones out (“They just laughed and said they were fine so I walked away”). However, whether they were invited or not, their behavior was unprofessional/inappropriate and I think that is an angle you could pursue. “I was frustrated that you brought in a group of other people and loudly took over the center of the venue at a private networking event I put together for a client. I apologize for how I expressed my frustration in the moment, and I wish we could have enjoyed the evening as it was intended.”

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I don’t think OP1 owes these boors any apology whatsoever. They’re uninvited guests who refused to leave and would have forced OP1 to make a scene in order to get them to leave. They were shamelessly rude.

      1. Observer*

        The OP doesn’t owe them an apology. But Alison is right – if she’s going to need to work with these folks, smoothing things over with them is just a practical thing to do.

        But, next time be clear and firm that this is invite ONLY and do NOT let them in.

        1. serenity*

          The OP clarified above that the client is unhappy with what happened. I think she needs to be focused on maintaining a relationship with her paid client – not with some boorish and inexperienced former colleagues (and, from her description, most of them were unknown to her anyway).

          1. Observer*

            Smoothing things over with her client is not mutually exclusive with smoothing things over with them. Obviously, the OP’s focus is going to be on the client, but I can’t imagine that the client is going to care if the OP has a quiet conversation or two with the others (assuming that the OP is not going to say anything negative about the client and is not going to discuss this with the client either.)

        2. AKchic*

          Fantasy apologizing for me would look like this:

          “I’m sorry I did not have your additional uninvited friends removed immediately. I’m sorry I allowed you in without an invitation. I will not make the same mistake twice.”

          Ah… makes my cold heart feel contentment.

    2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      We used to have networking events and one co-worker always showed up invited or not and proceed to get sloppy drunk, fast. It reflected very badly on our department and his manager had to speak to him. I believe that words with the manager is necessary on appropriate networking behaviour.

      1. Observer*

        The thing is that the OP doesn’t really have authority over these coworkers, and ideally should not get involved with their supervisor. Step one should have been to tell them that they are not welcome, and to react more clearly and decisively when they started acting up.

        That’s water under the bridge now, so her best bet is to smooth things over as best she can, and prepare to be more decisive next time. If at that point they push and make a fuss at another event or the like, then it’s worth talking to their supervisor or someone at their employer saying something like “I was very clear, and they acted in a way that really doesn’t reflect will on them and their employer.”

    3. Carrie*

      Jasnah- OP1 here. Thanks, I really like that addition to Alison’s suggestion to smooth things over. I don’t want to apologize, but I do want to make sure they don’t do it again. I was definitely frustrated at their behavior because had the original three just come in and chatted/networked like everyone else, my client wouldn’t have cared and it wouldn’t have mattered at all. It was the fact that they treated it like their own personal happy hour that caused me to lose my cool. There was this odd entitlement about being there that just shocked me.

      Also, Jasnah is the best username ever for giving professional advice.

      1. Jasnah*

        Glad you found it helpful! FWIW I don’t think you need to apologize to them, but if it makes you feel like you’ve taken the high road, or you think there is some value to smoothing things over, or you feel genuinely remorseful for how you spoke to them, then I don’t see the harm in it, that decision is up to you.

        Also I think your comments here have shown that you are a very considerate person and will definitely learn a lot from this experience. I can’t wait to see how you handle it next time! Don’t beat yourself up too much, after all, journey before destination :)

    4. TootsNYC*

      I agree, no apology necessary. In an ideal world, the OP would have said, “If you guys are not going to participate in the spirit of this event, and use it as the professional networking event it was supposed to be, I am going to ask you to leave.”

      They’re in the industry, as rookies, and they -could- have participated in the event for that purpose. They took the free booze and turned it into their personal party.
      She can make that point: When I let you in, I thought you’d be doing some networking, and I thought I’d do you a favor. You blew it.

      If the OP wants to bring it up, I’d say she should bring it up as “I am the industry veteran who knows how these things are, and you are the rookies who screwed up big time, and I am doing you a big favor by telling you these things so you will be more grownup next time. In any professional party like this, you aren’t helping your career to treat it like just an excuse to drink with your buddies.”

  8. Jasnah*

    OP2 Is there a medium ground between your natural voice and your “theater” voice? For instance, lower the pitch but keep the breathiness (so you after only 10 years of whisky and cigarettes instead of 20)? If you have any range on this, that’s where I would go because it will take the edge off your natural voice, so to speak (though I’m sure it’s fine!) and still allow you enough mental space to concentrate on what you’re saying. And it will allow you to transition seamlessly to your natural voice for everyday, and your “full theater” mode for videos.

    1. Mookie*

      I think this is a happy medium if the LW is up for it, but I agree with Alison that most co-workers wouldn’t blink an eye if the role regularly requires video and audio work, where only the most trained speakers overcome the compulsion to sound stage-y and stiff, like public-access newsreaders. The LW has that advantage here: she knows how to give good, authentic voice, with form that doesn’t distract the listener’s ear from what is being said (by how it is being said.)

    2. [insert witty username here]*

      Agree with this approach.

      Also wanted to add that FWIW, I would think using a slightly different voice is your interview is akin to dressing more formally than you would in your day-to-day. You’re likely to wear your best suit (or alternative outfit), your most conservative accessories, have your hair a little more styled, maybe wear heels if you don’t normally, etc etc You’re probably also going to use more formal language, sit a little straighter – I think this all rolls into the same version of “interview you” versus “day to day you.” Still the same person, just putting all your most polished pieces together at once for the interview.

    3. Vocalrange*

      I guess I’m in the minority but I would think it was really weird if at interview OP2 used a different voice from their day to day voice. I mean it’s not lose the job type odd, but it is makes me wonder about you and what else where you misrepresenting in the interview? It also might be something I’d end feeling a bit weirded out about (unless it really isn’t that much of a dramatic change.)

      I mean OP2 could address it directly and say I noted in the interview that the role may involve xyz and I have some performance experience, where I did voice work and I altered my tone/register to do this as I’ve found it more effective – and maybe demonstrate. That makes more sense to me than the other way around of performing in the interview then dropping it when you get the job and only using this performance voice for that work. The performance makes sense, when explained.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I agree with your second paragraph — assuming they will be talking about the voice-over piece of the job requirements, OP could bring up her “other” voice then, along with her stage experience.

      2. Zap Rowsdower*

        I was thinking along these lines too, especially if it’s easy for the OP to switch to the theater voice. If the switch is not easy (like it takes 15-30 minutes of vocal exercise beforehand), then maybe a short recording of the OP reading some suitable material would work. It would be very similar to having a portfolio or writing samples.

      3. Psyche*

        I think that if she used the theater voice in an in person interview it would be weird, but using it on a recording sounds understandable. A lot of people sound different recorded or on the phone.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’d find it really weird too, if you started your first day on the job with a completely different voice. I’d do what Vocalrange says and find a way to demonstrate it during the interview.

      5. Dr. Pepper*

        I too would find it strange. I was thinking that there would likely be an opportunity to talk about the voice work required for the job, and that would be the time to bring up that you have a wider vocal range than it appears just from your regular speaking voice. You would then offer to demonstrate, and then bust out the theater voice and let them evaluate from there. I may just be observant, but often I can tell when someone is “putting it on” and not speaking in their normal voice, and it weirds me out if there’s not an obvious reason for them to do so.

      6. gmg22*

        I’m with you and agree that explaining and demonstrating the “voice-over” voice might be a better option. A few years ago I took the Foreign Service oral exam, which is a daylong ordeal, so you get to hear quite a bit from your fellow exam-takers over the course of the day. One of the exercises is a group negotiation session. A relatively young guy in my group had one voice when he was hanging out in the waiting room with us … and a completely different, quite formal, over-enunciated voice (think the announcer from “All Things Considered”) when we got into the room for the group exercise. It was very strange and frankly off-putting. Well, OK, off-putting to me — I never found out definitively whether he passed the exam (I did not), but when I left, he was still in the room, which suggests that the answer was yes. It’s possible the examiners never heard his regular voice over the course of the day …

      7. Lisa Babs*

        I was thinking the same thing. Just include it in the interview/conversation. I’m sure voice work would come up. And then you can mention your experience and do that part in the fake voice. It just seems odd to over complicate things and try to concentrate on the voice during an interview instead of just include it when it comes up.

      8. Me Again*

        I’m also a corporate trainer/instructional designer and currently interviewing for jobs. I think it’s completely unnecessary to alter your voice for the interview and also agree it could come off strangely. When I deliver training or record videos, my voice is a little higher pitched (I have a naturally lower voice) and more cheerful sounding in order to convey a bit of enthusiasm for the material. But it’s more what I naturally sound like when I’m enthusiastic as opposed to something I’ve manufactured. I think it’s pretty understood that people naturally speak differently when they’re on display anyway.

        I also think they’ll be more concerned with your ability to write scripts and sound natural when speaking than with the sound of your voice. I wouldn’t do anything that makes it sound like you could be performing. People respond better to a trainer who sounds natural than one who is performing, regardless of whether your voice is “mousy” or not.

      9. RW*

        My main concern would be that their super natural theatre voice doesn’t sound as natural as they think it does. As someone who works in theatre there are many people out there who think they are pulling off an accent affectation a-la-Ryan Gosling, but actually they just sound like they are doing a ‘voice’. I’d check with friends you can rely on to give you honest feedback about how natural your theatre voice is before wheeling it out in an interview.

    4. Sketchee*

      I agree that this can worked to be balanced a bit. Over the years, I’ve worked with tons of people with phone voice or meeting voice. And it’s a funny thing that they’re sometimes aware of and sometimes not.

      I’ve definitely had it pointed out to me that my voice switches naturally too in different situations.

      I listened to an audiobook once called something like “The Sound of Your Voice” from a voice coach who would teach people how to do it for a lot of reasons.

      For example, men often speak in monotone or artificially lower their voice and want to practice showing their emotions. For better relationships or just to be more friendly. It’s not that they want to lose their monotone voice (though they might, and that’s okay if they want to), they just want to be able to show that side when they want.

      I practiced sounding more confident and less nervous and learned a lot of verbal tics that I didn’t realize were communicating uncertainty – even if I wasn’t at all nervous and felt completely certain!

      It’s really much more common than you might think. We just don’t notice it that much because we assume it’s naturally when other people do it. Like when you’re excited your voice rises.

      And for better or worse, as a person of color, second generation American, and a person in the lgbt community… it’s not uncommon for us to “code switch”. Having a version of our voices that are less connected with our culture or origin.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Be sure your theater voice training is prominent on your resumé.

      Work in a way to demonstrate that voice during the interview, if at all possible. Start in your normal voice, then say something about the training, and then use that voice.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        If the job isn’t in theater/public speaking/etc., that seems like an unnecessary amount of space to give to an explanation of what the LW’s voice sounds like.

  9. Anonomo*

    OP4 I feel you on the name. I have one of those names where you can get a hundred different nicknames off of it and have heard them all. I like the straightforward “Im so sorry to have not been clear, its Anonomo. We have an Ano and a Mo also, and I wouldnt want you to end up with them when your looking for me!” Said really chipper and upbeat and it almost always fixes* the misnaming.
    *Except that one guy who was a weekly interaction and made it a joke, that guy was not as clever as he thought he was, nor old enough to make it a cute old person quirk. It also spoke volumes of his attitude toward his job too.

    1. Danielle*

      Why is that one guy such a common occurance? There’s is ALWAYS one who thinks he’s being funny and is doggedly persistent with the terrible jokes. He’s like a government plant in every office designed to just irk people all day and generally contribute absolutely nothing

      1. Guacamole Bob*


        Sometimes there’s a layer of sexism over it, where the guy can’t bother to address women, especially young women, the way they’d like to be addressed. Sometimes it’s a sportsy male-bonding type thing, where a guy wants to call every Michael Mike and every James Jimmy. Sometimes it’s just someone being an oblivious jerk. But ugh to them all.

        1. Mostly Anonymous Business Student*

          Since starting business school, I’ve run into more of these “sportsy” ones than I’d previously encountered in my entire life. There’s a type of professor I’ve started privately labeling “the boisterous Good Old Boy” who is REALLY LOUD and THINKS HE’S HILARIOUS, and it often comes out in their onomastic dealings with students. Like if they have a student named “Chandler”, they can’t just call him Chandler, it has to be “CHAAAAAAANDLERRRRRRRR!” Or they’ll have those two women they’re always calling by each other’s names, and then quipping about how hard it is to keep their names straight because they’re both blonde. And don’t get me started on the names of international students (or, to some extent, Americans with “foreign” names, like me). These guys seem to think that if you say something with enough confidence, it somehow doesn’t count as being wrong or mispronounced.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        I’ve met him too. And many of his brothers. My name is hard to pronounce so I get all kinds of permutations of it thrown at me, most well meaning attempts at pronunciation and some “tee hee I’m going to give you a name because your real one is too haaaard, omg I’m so hilarious!”

        1. Observer*

          The last one is the one that really irks me. People can’t say my name? Ok, annoying but I don’t expect most people to make that much of an effort. But telling people to change their name, or doing it for them really stinks.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            It’s demeaning. I’ve had people try to draw me into arguments on how to spell and/or pronounce my name, as if I don’t know the “right way” to do it. I’ve been tempted to respond with something like, “Can I call you Candy, then? I know it’s not your name, but I like it better and it’s easy to say.”

          2. TootsNYC*

            My sister is an Anne Marie. Suddenly in high school, or junior high, people were calling her Anne. And we grew up in a small town–it’s not like the teachers hadn’t heard our dad (also a teacher) refer to her–and her grade school teachers all got it right!

            But Anne is a much different name than Anne Marie.

            One of her friends (who herself had a not-particularly-common name) just would not be corrected, even though my sister had repeatedly tried, and had even gotten deliberately angry, hoping that would work.

            So she just never called her friend by the right name ever again. Every remotely similar name she could think of, but never, ever the right name.

            Eventually the friend started trying.
            But my sister went and got a hyphen put in her name.

  10. Danielle*

    OP 4 I feel your pain. The issue of incorrect names is a rather touchy subject for me and I often find myself repeating my name three or four times on the phone- I actually have most of my suppliers email me because I get so fed up of being misunderstood on the phone. I’m a New Yorker living in London so already people like to pretend they can’t understand my “Americanness”. My name is not unusual – Danielle- but I pronounce it Dan-yell while British people tend to say Dan-e-Elle. My advice is to correct them and try to be a patient as possible if they persist. I can’t imagine many people would persist after you correct them and in your case the Chris vs Christina probably stems from misplaced overfamiliarity which will like end after a polite “I’m actually Christina!”. I tend to think of it as my real world Starbucks cup experience- what are they going to come up with instead of my actual name? Makes me laugh and therefore less irritated when it happens daily.

    For the record the best mis-hearing of my name was Virginia.

    1. Mookie*

      I’ve encountered that same inability to parse a common name because of disparate standard pronunciations: Sonia. Like marry / merry / Mary, aitches and /hw/ clusters, certained merged vowels, and anything rhotic, some speakers of different dialects really can’t hear the difference, much less reliably reproduce the distinction.

      1. Emi.*

        Yeah, at some point the difference between “mispronouncing” and “pronouncing in a different accent” becomes pretty fuzzy.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          It does, doesn’t it? I knew an American Deirdre (pronounced Dee-druh) who lived in the UK for a while and hated that everyone pronounced her name Deer-dree. She said she understood it from strangers and people she was meeting for the first time, but if you were a friend or coworker, you really ought to pronounce her name the way she pronounced it, instead of the “correct” way in your country.

          1. OfOtherWorlds*

            Yeah, that’s interesting, isn’t it. Decent people wouldn’t insist on calling a Spaniard or Mexican named Roberto “Robert”, but plenty of otherwise sensitive folks insist that their accent in English is the only correct way to pronounce the language, even when it comes to other people’s names. On the other hand, biting people’s heads off when they mispronounce your name is very unattractive.

            1. Jadelyn*

              “Unattractive” seems to be an…odd way to frame that, tbh. The goal in that kind of conversation probably isn’t to be “attractive”, it’s to get someone to pronounce your damn name correctly, or at least reasonably close allowing for dialect/language barriers.

              1. TootsNYC*

                also, I can’t imagine most people would go straight to “biting someone’s head off.”

                I’d imagine most people would start out polite. And ignoring polite requests is equally unattractive, so if your head gets bitten off…..well, you made that bed

                1. ofotherworlds*

                  Far too many people, IME, do jump to biting someone’s head off. Not a majority, but they tend to be memorable. See the story Alison posted about Ms. Becton for an example.

                  I’d also argue that losing your temper is not actually ok, especially in a professional setting, even if this is the 15th time you’ve corrected someone. I can certainly understand and forgive the temptation to lash out; I have a bad temper myself. But I’ve learned that I need to keep it bottled up.

              2. ofotherworlds*

                You want to be polite and pleasant about correcting people about your name because if you aren’t you get a reputation as a jerk that will hurt you in lots of ways. I have a long and difficult first name that I don’t bother with anymore, I just offer an easy to pronounce nickname!

              3. DaniCalifornia*

                My sister has this problem with her TX teachers. She is Rianne. Pronounced ree-ann. 2 syllables. She gets Rain, Rainy, Ray-ann. Her most annoying teacher would not say it correctly even though there was a Briann in the class (same pronunciation just with a B) and he could say her name correctly. He just didn’t care and was rude.

          2. Rhotic Dialect*

            I dunno, I’ve known a few people from the UK named Charles and Martin (for instance), and I never would have thought of not pronouncing the R when *I* said their name. That would feel like pretending to have an accent I don’t have. And conversely, I doubt that American Martins expect Brits to pronounce the R when talking to them.

    2. Lauren*

      I had a vendor once call me Sister because I had the first name the same as his sister. Like I’m supposed to know that? Quit calling me sister!

    3. anon because names*

      I’m also a Danielle and I get people mispronouncing it too – or automatically shortening it to Dan or Dani. I hate both nicknames with a passion, but I hate Dani even more because I had so many people call me Dani and try to play it off as a Game of Thrones homage (it’s not cute or funny or “an honor” ffs).Starbucks once wrote my name as “Danyiele”.

      I’ve never gotten Virginia as a mis-hearing, but I have gotten Nicole and Lindsey.

      1. Windchime*

        But even on GoT, “Dani” was a nickname for Daenerys! So it’s not really an homage unless your real name is actually Daenerys (and probably even not then).

        If you’re always talking about your dragons, I can’t help you. In that case, it’s an understandable mistake.

      2. Someone Else*

        It just goes to show there is no winning here. I know a Danielle who hates be called Danielle, is only ever Dani, her business cards say Dani, her work email says Dani, and yet people at work still often decide to call her Danielle.

        1. DaniCalifornia*

          This happens to me but with an older generation, like they’re trying to be more formal. It doesn’t bug me too much but since everyone has always called me Dani, I am more prone to answer to that. Especially when there were other Danielle’s in my class it made it easier. So I tune out Danielle because it wasn’t for me. And in public most times when I hear my name it’s for a Danny so I tune that out as well. So good luck calling me Danielle because I probably wouldn’t think to answer to it! lol

    4. londonedit*

      I’m British and I’d naturally pronounce Danielle as ‘Dan-yell’. I do know the ‘Dan-i-elle’ pronunciation you mention, but I’d suggest it might be more down to accent than wilful mispronunciation – I wouldn’t be surprised if people couldn’t actually hear the difference between how they’re saying your name and how you want them to say it. There are several instances like this between US and UK pronunciations – the name Craig in the UK is pronounced as ‘Cray-g’, whereas in the US it’s more like ‘Creg’. I suspect many Americans would struggle to switch from the ‘Creg’ they’re used to saying, to the ‘Cray-g’ that a British Craig might prefer.

      1. neeko*

        “but I’d suggest it might be more down to accent than wilful mispronunciation – I wouldn’t be surprised if people couldn’t actually hear the difference between how they’re saying your name and how you want them to say it.”

        Agreed. It’s kind of odd to assume that everyone is messing with you on your name. Accents and dialects make a huge difference.

        1. Emi.*

          Even if people can hear the difference, insisting that Americans are mispronouncing Mrs. Bates’s name because we say Annuh instead of Anner seems like insisting that Lady Mary is also mispronouncing it to sound posher.

      2. Windchime*

        I have a friend who spent her first 40 years in Russia. Her name is Olga. Apparently people in the US don’t pronounce it right, so she tried to teach me the correct pronunciation and I honestly couldn’t hear the difference between our two pronunciations. She finally said, “You can’t tell the difference, can you?”

        1. General Ginger*

          There are multiple Olgas in my family, and they’ve mostly made peace with the US pronunciation. It’s the “l”. Americans tend to make it into a hard “l”, whereas in Russian, it’s a soft “l”. Think of how you’d pronounce the “l” in Liu vs Lu.

          1. Starbuck*

            That’s a distinction without a difference, for me. You say “soft l” and the first thing I think of is the way the ll’s in “tortilla” are pronounced, which I assume is not what you are going for. (Both of those are “Loo” to me).

              1. Someone Else*

                One way I’ve had it explained to me before was Americans say it more like “Olllga” vs “Olga”. Or imagine a gong: strike it cleanly vs barely graze it. I *think* that’s the difference in the Ls in Olga.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      There are some people who really, truly, don’t hear the difference between slightly different pronunciations. The difference between Dan-i-elle and Dan-yell, while obvious and grating to your ears, might not actually sound different to some people. Sometimes it depends on your native language. There’s certain sounds that don’t translate because they aren’t used in some languages, and your ear might not pick up the difference. My father is not a native English speaker, and he screws up pronunciations like that all the time. I’ve tried to coach him, and he literally doesn’t hear the difference between how he says certain words and how they’re commonly said. Conversely, the pronunciation of his last name uses sounds not used in English, and he can hear the difference between the right way to say it and the wrong ways, but nobody else can.

      1. Observer*

        Also, sometimes people can hear the difference, but really can’t get their tongue around it. Yes, really.

        Many people whose primary language does not that the “th” sound simply cannot say it if they are introduced to it as adults. French speakers typically use a “z” sound, but Russian and Polish speakers typically use “t” and “d” (depending on the word) for that sound. Russian speakers have a hard time with “h”. They don’t drop it, but generally use “g”, although sometimes they use “kh” because it seems to sound more like “h”.

        1. Dr. Pepper*

          That too. There’s some words my dad *does* hear the difference, but can’t actually make himself say correctly. He’s also of the opinion that if his meaning was communicated clearly, exact pronunciation of words isn’t terribly important. So there’s that too.

      2. General Ginger*

        *raises hand* I’m trying to parse the difference between Dan-i-elle and Dan-yell, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how that’s not the same sound. Especially at conversational speed.

        1. Genny*

          You have to image a super posh person saying in with a received pronunciation accent. I think the closest example I can think of this the Anjelica Huston’s evil stepmother in “Ever After” (she’s not actually English, but the affectation she puts on is a pretty good example of the difference between DAN-i-elle and dan-YELL).

            1. Danielle*

              Yes that is exactly it! I am very much not posh and many of my coworkers and clients are. So the Anjelica Hueston version up against my Queens New York version sounds very different. I try quite hard to say it slowly and enunciate, but it can be very very trying to have the same conversation several times a day over your own name! I imagine that OP feels the same way

      3. Danielle*

        I think the frustrating bit for me is when I tell them my name over the phone and I get a lot of guesses in return (as opposed to “can you spell that” or “come again”) and then when I stretch out the pronunciation the caller is always “Oh Danielle of course”. It just makes me feel a bit dumb- like I can’t say my own name right!

        I cannot for the life of me turn my name into three syllables no matter how hard I’ve tried (and I definitely have practiced!). I work with a lot of posh Brits who love making jokes about my accent anyway!

    6. Tafadhali*

      I moved to the East Coast from California in middle school and was never sure why my friend Megan was always so quick to emphasize her name’s pronunciation – she said it “May-gan” rather than “Meh-gan,” which is apparently odd in New England but lines up exactly with how I’d pronounce it in my accent.( I’m pretty attuned to dialect, but that’s a vowel sound difference I’ve always had trouble hearing, but my friends here make fun of how I say “egg” so I guess there’s a difference.)

    7. MeMeMe*

      Heh, my name is Regina and I’ve been called Virginia dozens of times, too. It throws me for a double loop because not only is it not my name, it’s actually my grandmother’s name. My first thought is usually, “Whoa, how did they know that?!”

    8. Smarty Boots*

      I’ve got one of those first names that can be pronounced in a number of different ways (vowels pronounced long or short, stress on the first or second or third syllable). I have a last name that usually ends with “s” but mine doesn’t (think “Master” instead of “Masters”). Also, some people know my spouse or know the last name of my spouse, which is not the same as mine. And, some people are aware of my title and some are not.

      Hence I get all sorts of versions of my first name, almost inevitably an “s” on the end of my last name, sometimes I get called by my spouse’s last name, and sometimes I get called “Mrs.” rather than Ms. or my actual title.

      It’s all good. I correct politely — “It’s actually Title First name as I pronounce My last name without the erroneous s” — then reassure that I’m not offended. People who get it wrong on purpose after that….

      And I also for many years was called by my kid’s friends and classmates “Mrs. MyKid’sName’s Mother”. That was kind of adorable and I appreciated the effort at politeness, so I didn’t correct that. (Now, a child who called me by my first name — nuh-uh!)

    9. DaniCalifornia*

      Ugh! This is so frustrating! I go by Dani. I get: Ann, Annie, Dana, Diana, Diane, Jenny, Dawn, Angie, and Mr. Last Name, because they’ve never seen the feminized form of Dani. Or I get called Danielle by clients who think they should be formal with me. My signature, email, voicemail, etc all say Dani. I have never gone by Danielle by anyone in my life. My coworkers would probably not even put someone through who asked for Danielle lol!

      My favorite is when clients who I have talked to in person, on the phone, and email frequently all of a sudden call me *Very obviously man name* which happens to be my last name. I sign every email (per instruction from my boss) even if we are going back and forth quickly. So how in the heck did you get *Man’s name* when I am constantly signing Regards, Dani. After awhile I think it’s just rude.

  11. LGC*

    So…what’s preventing people from changing into more work appropriate clothing for the photo? I’m not sure of what LW3’s exact position is, but they could ask if costumes are okay and if they (as a whole) should change for the holiday photograph.

    For LW4: my name situation is…a situation. (I strongly prefer my middle name – Bob – but I use my first name (Ferguson) at work.) I’ve gotten people that have called me Fergus, which I really dislike (my dad is Fergus, not me!), but usually they’re trying to be friendly. So…it’s grating, but if it’s a one off, I’ll let it go.

    After a couple of times, I’ll slip in a “hey, I prefer to be called Ferguson,” or sign my name as Ferguson if it’s through email. This is an instance where as Anonomo noted, tone really matters – you want to assume good faith (or at least look like you’re assuming good faith), and to not make a huge deal out of it unless it’s necessary.

    Alternately, you could say “oh please, call me Tina” (if you prefer that as a contraction – you specifically said you hate Chris, but Tina is also somewhat common).

    1. Kathy*

      The hassle of putting on a costume – then taking it off – then putting it on again, all for a photo, seems prohibitive. Especially if things like wigs, makeup, and other more elaborate elements are involved.

      1. LGC*

        Well…it depends on the workplace. Does LW3’s workplace allow costume makeup? I’m trying to remember my job’s rules – I know masks are banned, but I’m not sure whether makeup is.

        It is…not very great scheduling, I’ll admit.

    2. Thor*

      I kind of suspect that the point of the card is to be in Halloween costumes, not that it just so happened the only day the photographer was available was 10/31.

      1. LGC*

        I mean, you’re probably right, but if LW3’s bosses are as absentminded as I can be, they might have literally forgotten it was Halloween!

        That said, I personally think that this card would be awesome and I want to know what company LW3 works for so I can get on their mailing list. But also:

        1) as I noted above, I’m just an extremely tall child
        2) although I disagree with the LW’s assumption, their concerns are still reasonable.

    3. Smarty Boots*

      LOL, yeah, my college students will call me Mrs. Lastname — I just say, that’s my mom! You should call me “Ms. Lastname” or “Title Lastname”.

  12. babblemouth*

    I re-read the Liz story at Politico… I had forgotten it. It’s always fun to look at someone going on a power craze from the outside.

    1. iglwif*

      I had never seen it, and I am AMAZED that someone would do that. (And I have a frequently-misspelled, frequently-altered given name–there are people I went to school with who honestly don’t know that my real, actual name is the English version, not the French one, because I got tired of correcting the teachers after a while.)

      I work with several people who have a long given name and go by a shorter version of it around the office. When I’m writing about one of them in our customer newsletter or on social media or whatever, I always double-check which version of their name they want me to use. The next time one of them says something like “Meh, whatever,” I’m going to send them a link to that story!

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah, I understand the frustration with the “I don’t care.”

        I have a two-part name that, for most of my life, I used just the first part (think Tammy Lou) as a nickname. But I always use the two parts in formal situations, and I do think of it as my first name.

        In my most recent job, I decided to say, “call me Tammy Lou,” because when I was introduced around, people wanted to know, and it stressed them when I said, “Oh, I don’t much care.”

        So now I say, “Call me Tammy Lou. If you’re feeling jocular, you can shorten it to Tammy now and then; I won’t be upset.”

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had never seen in before. Never heard of this woman before, either, but I will always think of her as Liz from now on, because, after 19 emails she sent about it, how can you not?

      1. babblemouth*

        I wonder if this has been following her around since then. She works in politics, which is a really small world, and really gossipy. I imagine whenever she gets a new job, within days half the office knows about her mini meltdown.

  13. Audrey Puffins*

    OP2: I bet 99% of commenters reading this have their “normal voice” and their “telephone voice”. For some people there’s not always going to be a *huge* difference between the two, but it’s extremely normal to have different ways of speaking in the workplace depending on what you’re doing.

    1. MLB*

      Sounds like the LW’s voice is more extreme though – LW said they need to really concentrate to use the theater voice. What I imagine it to be is more along the lines of Megan Mulalley’s natural voice vs the voice she uses playing Karen Walker on W&G.

      Since voice recordings are part of the job, I might consider using my natural voice, but mentioning a “theater voice” during the course of the interview when it comes up. Might seem awkward, but I think it would be more awkward to use a “fake” voice during the interview, and then start the job sounding completely different.

      1. Dance-y Reagan*

        I am imagining a Janice-from-Friends type of situation. This would have been a great question for the podcast so Alison could evaluate her/his voices.

    2. Julia*

      Heck, I have a German voice, and English voice (two, actually, one for interviewing and one for talking to friends – that’s when the vocal fry comes out >.<) and two Japanese voices, one for talking to friends/family and one for customer service. I don't think my boss ever said, "you know, I just walked into you on the phone and you sounded different, what's up?"

    3. Ermintrude*

      My telephone/business voice sounds more mature and ‘put-together’ than I sm generally, which took a bit of practice but soon became second nature.

  14. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #2: Now that I think about it I keep my ‘work voice’ in a bit lower register than my ‘normal voice’.

    The difference isn’t as drastic for me. For me the bigger change is in grammar*, rhythm and vocabulary, which is normal for dialect speakers.

    So, use your theatre voice! It’ll be fine.

    *Honestly. my dialect is basically Slovenian grammar with German words tacked on and sprinkled with some Italian for flavour.

    1. Rebecca*

      My work voice is different too – I speak more slowly, enunciate more, and use proper grammar. I call it “work speak” vs “home speak” where I rattle on quickly and with central PA “Dutch” phrases peppered about. I think the OP is fine to use the theater voice, too!

    2. Hallowflame*

      I definitely have a “work voice” and a “normal voice”. In my normal voice, I speak quickly, get kind of loud, and swear like a well educated sailor. In my work voice, I lower my register slightly, slow down, and clean up my language. When I’m relaxed at work and socializing with coworkers, I have to be careful not to slip to far into my normal voice, because that way lies vulgarity!
      So go ahead and use your theatre voice, most people are doing the same or similar!

  15. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #4 Ugh.. names. I have a first and middle name. In my country a large portion of the population are called by their middle name. It’s a cultural thing. I’m not part of that population, so I get very annoyed when people address me as “middle name”. I lost count of how many times I had to correct people. And people always spell my name(s) wrong. Add extra letters, take an ordinary Dutch name and make it French, etc.
    Sometimes I think I should just change my name to Steve Smith. Nobody can get that wrong.

    1. EPLawyer*

      You wanna bet? My husband’s last name has 4 letters. Nothing unusual. He still gets “how is that spelled? How is that pronounced?” FOUR. FREAKING.LETTERS.

      I got even, I hyphenated his extremely short last name to my longer and hard to pronounce ethnic last name.

      1. Michelle Melissa Margaret*

        My last name is essentially “Jones” and it’s the same damn thing. What are ya gonna do?

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        Yes! Same experience here, except I chose to keep my long unpronounceable name because it was too much effort to change it. You’d think a four letter, common name would be easy but nooooooooooo. At least with my name I already expect it to be mangled so I don’t even care anymore. My husband gets hopping mad whenever people can’t spell or pronounce his four letter name, which gives me an extra chuckle.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        Yup. My first name is Dawn. Four letters, one syllable. It amazes me how many people mispronounce it. It’s pronounced the same as “yawn.” I get Dwan, Don, Dan, Down, Done (as in “condone”). I also get Diane, Danielle, etc.

        1. General Ginger*

          I’d probably be mispronouncing your name all the time, and never know it, nor really be able to fix it, because Don and Dawn sound completely identical to me.

          1. Clisby Williams*

            I’m sure you’re not alone. I once got into an online discussion about this, and was amazed at how many people think “cot” and “caught” sound just alike.

          2. Indigo a la mode*

            Being called Dwan and Don are both accent things. The former is a New England-type pronunciation and the latter is really common throughout the Midwest and West. Don and Dawn sound the same to me, in the same way that cot and caught do. I’m wondering if Dawn is Southern, since typically Southern accents and the like are the ones that differentiate between the short “o” and “aw” sounds.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I was born and raised in New England, and still live here, so I have no idea if it’s Southern. I’ve never heard it pronounced any other way up here other than “yawn” or as in the first part of “awning.”

              1. Rat in the Sugar*

                I sure as hell hope it’s southern, cuz I’m sitting here in Florida confused as hell–Don, Dawn, on, gone, awning, and yawn all sound exactly the same to me! I pronounce all of them the same way I do the word “bon-bon”. I’m genuinely bewildered at how people are pronouncing Don vs Dawn in a way that sounds different.

                1. Clisby Williams*

                  I’m southern, and pronounce Don with a short ‘o’ sound, and Dawn with an ‘aw’ sound. I’m not totally clear on whether the people who pronounce them exactly the same are pronouncing ‘Dawn’ with a short ‘o’ sound, or ‘Don’ with an ‘aw’ sound.

                2. Rat in the Sugar*

                  So, I couldn’t handle it and actually looked it up–it’s the cot/caught merger, and apparently I mostly likely picked it up as a kid while living in Kansas or Arizona, since it’s not actually a southern thing. Reading the wiki article was pleasantly bewildering–apparently I have a full “perception” merger so I can’t even hear the two different sounds, and discovering that words like nod/gnawed and stock/stalk are apparently NOT homophones is a little disconcerting.

                3. Indigo a la mode*

                  I’m with you, but having studied linguistics, I’ll try to answer!

                  Imagine you see a kitten and go “awwwwwww.” Now imagine you just realized something and go “ah! I see.” In the first instance, the sound starts out a little farther back and gets rounder as it comes out, with your palate dropping and creating a bigger space back by your throat. In the second version, the sound is more level, if you will, like a laser coming straight out from your throat.

                  Southern accents and some others distinguish those two sounds for a lot of words–cot vs. caught, for example, where the double vowel prompts that longer, rounder “awww” sound; hotter vs. daughter (same concept); and Don vs. Dawn. Most other American accents don’t differentiate at all.

                  I’d also compare this to another commenter I saw around here who has always hated when people mispronounce Lauren. I had no idea it could be mispronounced–I assumed Northeasterners said LAH-ren and most other people said LORE-en and it wasn’t a difference at all.

            2. Clisby Williams*

              Not sure. I am southern, but my southern sister-in-law pronounces “closet” like “clawsit”.

              1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                My Grandmother’s name (from Pennsylvania) is Dawn, and she absolutely pronounces it more like Don than like yawn.

        2. Red Reader*

          The number of people who can talk about gingerbread men and gingerbread houses and gingerbread cake and ginger snaps and whatever else until the cows come home, but insist on pronouncing my name so it starts like “give” and rhymes with “finger” BAFFLES me.

          1. Red Reader*

            Exception: when I worked in an office with a Mary Ann, everyone got our names right, made the same stupid jokes that we’d both been hearing all our lives, and ensured that she and I went out of our way to not be in the same room at the same time. :-P

        3. obleighvious*

          Ha! I always laugh because my husband’s boss is Don, but my husband pronounces it “Dawn” and even his coworkers at times have been like “Who’s Dawn?”–luckily his boss is from the same part of the country so he doesn’t hear the difference between Don/Dawn either so it’s not a point of contention.

      4. iglwif*

        My birth surname (my bio father’s surname, which I’ve kept as part of my name) has 4 letters. Two of them are the same letter! But every time I told someone my name I had to spell it. Every. Single. Time.

        My current surname (spouse’s surname) is an English noun. After 20+ years I still tend to spell it out for people who need to write it down, partly because I talk to lots of people whose first language isn’t English but mostly, tbh, because it became a habit!

      5. Hoh*

        I am slightly hard of hearing so I often have to ask people to spell their name when I need it at work. It is easier for me than asking them to repeat themselves multiple times. Yes, sometimes it is something simple but I genuinely can’t hear it.

      6. Beatrice*

        My four letter last name begins with the same consonant sound that my first name ends with, which causes confusion if I say it rapidly and don’t enunciate carefully. Like, if my name were Rosalind Door, and if I’m not careful, people think I’m saying Rosalind Orr (and Orr is a common name around here, so it’s honestly more plausible than Door.) I find myself, in situations where getting my full correct name is important, spelling it out like “Rosalind. Door. That’s D as in ‘dog’, O-O-R.”

        1. Beatrice*

          Also, there actually is a Rosalind Orr around here, too – I almost got her prescriptions instead of mine once at the pharmacy, when I didn’t spell my last name. D:

      7. Someone Else*

        Devil’s advocate: if any of this is happening over the phone, back in the day when I worked customer service, if we had trouble understanding someone on the phone, instead of asking them to repeat their name a bunch of times (which often didn’t really help) we’d have the staff ask once to repeat it, and then go straight to “spell it”. It wasn’t an indication that the name were hard to spell. It was just a shortcut when we were not sure if we were hearing it properly.

    2. MLB*

      Yeah it doesn’t matter how simple your name is, someone will inevitably mess it up.

      I thought when I got married I would be able to stop spelling my last name after I say it, but nope. People still can’t do it. And they can’t pronounce it correctly either.

      1. Artemesia*

        My name begins with a common word that is easily pronounced and yet about half the people encountering it for the first time mispronounce it in a very ugly way. I mean I could write it in a pictogram and they still don’t start with that easily pronounced word. And while the name is not common I have never met anyone with the name or any of its similar version who pronounces it in the weird way so many people choose to try on. It is as if someone encountered the name ‘Smith’ and decided it must be ‘Smeeech’.

    3. Ashley not Ashely*

      lol My name is Ashley, spelled the most common way. I would say that in written correspondence (my primary communication method at my job), it’s spelled correctly about 50% of the time. I still have to spell it out every single time I give it out, because if I don’t, chances are it will be wrong. It’s like the most common name for people my age (born in the late 80s) and it still trips people up hahaha (My last name is not common, and while it is spelled the way it sounds, it also can be spelled different ways (think “x” vs “cks”), so I also have to spell out each time as well. I try to avoid situations where I have to give out my first and last name.)

    4. Database Developer Dude*

      You’d be surprised, Doctor Schmoctor. My first name is Jay, my middle name is David. I go by my initials (J.D.) and routinely deal with folks who want to call me JP, JB, and even JC.

      To make matters worse, in the DC Masonic Community, there are THREE of us who go by JD. We have to actually cite last names or Lodges/positions to see who one is talking about.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Because it’s not my name. It’s as simple as that. If I’m at my civilian job, I can walk away from someone. If I’m at my Army Reserve duty, well, there’s always regulations to fall back on.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Sorry, I was not being serious. I would say no to being called JC myself.

            I have a “French” version of my name that people like to mistakenly call me; like Diana and Diane. It’s a cute name, but it is annoying to be repeatedly called something that’s not your name. It can lead to confusion too, like when I worked with a “Diane” and people called us both basically whichever version of our names randomly popped into their heads that day. Then one day “Diane” lost her job, and I suddenly had people asking me how come I was no longer available to do X (because it said that Diane no longer was). It can create quite a mess. I certainly agree with you.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              I had a drill-sergeant wannabe, when I was on active duty in the US Army, chastise me for not responding to someone hollering “Wilson!”. My last name is “Walker”.

  16. Lynn Marie*

    Part of growing up involves realizing no one in the world cares about your name the way you do– and being ok with that. That said, it’s good advice to correct those you interact with frequently, if only to spare them from the embarrassment of realizing they’ve gotten it wrong repeatedly, and, especially as a receptionist, let all the rest drop. When you truly know who you are, you won’t care what other people call you.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      No, I really disagree with this. Preferring to be called one’s name is not a sign of a failure to grow up. It’s quite a big, unjustified stretch to consider a willingness to be called any old thing maturity.

      It’s really fine to expect to be called a particular name, and it is very basic politeness to refer to others the way they tell you to refer to them. Common courtesy is, if someone says “please call me x” to *call them x*. Deciding that you (general you) don’t care about the people’s names so therefore you don’t have to pay attention when they tell you their names is rude.

      1. MLB*

        Actually it is a sign of immaturity to not be able to let stuff go. Yes your name is a big deal to YOU, but not to most others, especially those who are essentially strangers. You can correct them, but unless you work and interact with them regularly, it’s not worth the time or energy to get yourself worked up about it.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Strongly disagree here. Reasonable polite people call people by their preferred name, and jerks call people whatever they want. It’s not unreasonable to ask people to call you by your preferred name.

          1. Almond Butter and Jelly*

            It unreasonable and crazy to spend/waste everyone’s time correcting people who you will never meet again or have no importance in your life. Do you really care if the starbucks barista or the sales lady at the department store says your name correctly?

            1. Justme, The OG*

              Barista, no. But in my professional life, YES. I do care what they call me because to call me some other name is not me. I had a manager who could call me Jennifer or Melissa (neither are even close to my name) but it showed that this manager really didn’t care about me as a person or employee, and it took some other instances to solidify that. So yeah, it matters.

              1. Its a Mascara Monday*

                No one is saying that people in your life that matter and have significance shouldn’t call you by your correct name they are saying the 1 offs, receptionists, baristas, and cashiers let them go its not worth it to fight people with no stake in the game.

            2. Trout 'Waver*

              I am responding to MLB’s claim that having a name preference is a sign of immaturity.

              Names matter, and most everyone wants to get names right. It’s also not unreasonable or crazy or time-wasting to correct someone. “Actually, I go by Bob” takes all of 3 seconds.

              1. MLB*

                You may want to read my comment again. I did NOT say that having a name preference was a sign of immaturity. You keep arguing with a point that was never made.

                1. Trout 'Waver*

                  What does the first “it” refer to in your first sentence? You seem to be responding to the comment:

                  “Preferring to be called one’s name is not a sign of a failure to grow up. It’s quite a big, unjustified stretch to consider a willingness to be called any old thing maturity.”

              2. MLB*

                I wasn’t aware that my comment was that complicated. I’m sorry you don’t understand the point I’m trying to make, but I’m not going to spend time dissecting my sentence. And BTW, this falls into the “insignificant things you learn to let go when you mature”. I’m out, have a great day!

          2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

            I think that there are plenty of reasons to insist on your proper name and not just brush off people getting it wrong. It’s okay to care, it’s okay to not care.

            But I think this is one of those situations where it’s better to not attribute to malice or disrespect what is almost always a result of absentmindedness or habit.

            Sigh…I’ve had so many situations where I want to tell people “I’m sorry! I sometimes seem inconsiderate but the truth is that I’m just not that bright and my brain can only do so many things at once.”

        2. Dragoning*

          A name is a huge part of a person’s identity. And a lot of names people get wrong are strongly indicative of some “other” ethnicity.

          Getting someone’s name wrong is hugely disrespectful. It’s not immature to be upset no one respects your identity.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Chris/Christina, or a similar combo since I think the name in the post is an analogy, also has a gendered component to it. Chris is gender-neutral and probably leans more male in a lot of people’s heads, while Christina is female, and to some folks that’s going to matter a lot. I know a trans woman who went by Chris before transition, and absolutely does not want to be called just Chris now, even though that syllable is still in her name.

      2. Indigo a la mode*

        I concur. It really isn’t that difficult to listen to someone and call them what they ask. It’s their name! It’s fundamental to who they are, generally speaking! Even if it’s a difficult name, it’s courteous to give it your best shot every time. People appreciate it.

        I felt terrible when I learned, during roll call during my first day of sophomore year of high school, that the Belgian guy we’d been calling Oliver for a whole year actually had an “I” in his name and was in fact Olivier (Oh-liv-ee-ay). It also drove me nuts when people pronounced my high school boyfriend’s name “uh-NAND” when it was “AH-nand”–come on, you can’t tell me that’s an impossible thing for Americans to pronounce.

        Don’t get me wrong, I have completely let it go when people get my Caitlyn/Katelynn/Kaitlin name wrong at Starbucks and the like; in fact, I usually jokingly challenge them to do their worst. But if I’m going to see them every day? It seems reasonable to expect that basic courtesy.

    2. Reed*

      I actually do care when people call me ‘easy’, misspelled, mispronounced, versions of my very Jewish name BECAUSE I know I am Jewish and I shouldn’t have to be less Jewish to give some twuffin colleague less of a reality check about normativity.

      Similarly my dear friend let’s call her Stephanie really DOES care about being called Stephen, because she truly knows she’s a woman, despite her inconvenient chromosomes.

      When you truly know who you are, it’s quite unpleasant to have other people insisting no you are not who you are, because they have so little respect for who you truly are they can’t make an effort to see how you’ve written your name in your email sign-off and copy that, for example.

      Part of growing up is learning to treat other people with respect, and learning to notice and then NOT act on your inbuilt, unthinking assumptions about naming conventions, race, gender, religion, and language preferences.

      1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        It’s Rebecca. Not Becca, Beca, Becky, Beckie, Reba, Rachel, or Elizabeth (the two other white girl names people call me when they can’t be arsed to remember Rebecca).

      2. Thursday Next*

        I think these are not incompatible with each other: treating other people with respect, and recognizing that my name is more important to me than my name is to other people. There are always going to be people who misremember it or mispronounce it, or people who misname me out of overt or covert racism. I don’t respond identically in all these situations, and that’s my advice to LW and others: decide when (from your particular perspective) it’s something to correct, and when it’s not.

        If a barista at Starbucks puts a bizarre approximation of my name on my cup, or a one-time caller on the phone mangles my name, I have decided not to sweat it. But someone with whom I will have an ongoing relationship, or someone recording my name on official documents does warrant correcting.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I totally agree with this. No one should have to put up with people they interact with every day getting their name wrong. But it’s also good to realize that we’ve all probably gotten other people’s names wrong in brief interactions for reasons other than malice and that it’s not the end of the world, and to let it go if it’s a one-time thing.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Case in point: I just got a phone call that started “Hi Bob, Llama Services.” I left a message for Llama Services last week, and I actually go by Robert and can’t stand being called Bob [for example – neither is my real name]. But I *think* that the person on the phone goes by Bob and was saying an abbreviated version of, “Hi, it’s Bob from Llama Services,” not “Hi Bob, it’s Llama Services calling”. I’m not sure, but I decided to just let it go because this is a company I’ll deal with on the phone maybe twice and then never again.

      3. cryptid*

        Yes. When people can’t get my name right (I use a nickname at all times, with plans to change my legal name), it tells me they’re tremendously selfish and rude. Using someone’s stated name is the most basic of courtesies. I’m sorry for all the people who’ve tried to Cool Girl themselves out of caring about their name.

      4. iglwif*

        Well said.

        My mom was very big on “call people what they want to be called” as the respectful and kind way to proceed–which came up a fair amount when I was a child, because there were adults who wanted to be “Auntie/Uncle Firstname” and adults who wanted to be “Firstname” and adults who wanted to be “Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Lastname”, and then there were parents who would INSIST that their kids call my mom “Mrs Lastname” even though she preferred “Firstname”. So although I am personally pretty easygoing about variations on my name, I am very careful to respect other people’s preferences and not assume they are similarly easygoing! Your name and your pronouns are a huge part of your identity and it’s really not cool for people to play fast and loose with that.

    3. Peach Picking*

      I agree when I was young I would get annoyed with people saying my name wrong (Lauren), when I was 12 my mom had gotten sick of it when we were at the grocery and I was correcting the cashier. On the way home she explained that she had given me the name and that she loved it and loved the name most when it was said correctly Lah-wren, but she did not give a single crap as to how the cashier at the grocery store, receptionist at the dentist office, or the little old ladies at church said my name and neither should I. To only bother correcting the people in your life that you want to bother with on a regular basis. I have carried that with me and still only correct people who are apart of my life, my daughter (Sarah, I though I fixed it with her but no)calls it a my secret code. She told her class when they were talking about strangers that she knew a stranger because they can’t say mommy’s real name the right way.

    4. Cate*

      ” When you truly know who you are, you won’t care what other people call you.”

      Do you have any peer-reviewed studies that back this (frankly bizarre) assumption up? Or are you just asserting how you believe it should be as fact? Because this is arrant nonsense. Its’s the sort of cheap cod-psychology that gets parroted by ignorant people, with no evidence or justification.

      1. Cat wrangler*

        A music teacher threw me out of her classroom, refusing to teach me anymore when she claimed I’d cheeked her and been insolent to her by refusing to respond to my name when she spoke to me. She was calling me Molly. Molly is my older sister by 3 school years and I was 5 years old. I’m still annoyed over 40 years later.

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

          I had a teacher scream at me in 8th grade because I didn’t respond to her. She was calling me Priscilla, while my name is a different name that starts with P.

          She didn’t apologize but she also didn’t send me to detention.

      2. Aveline*

        Or this is yet another situation where someone with relative privileges decides its a sign of immaturity when people who don’t have the same privileges care about x or y.

        People get my first name correct most of the time. They never get my last name correct. It’s not European in origin. I took my husband’s last name when we married. His name is rare even in its country of origin, but unheard of where we live. It’s “foreign,” but actually easy to say if one actually makes an effort. Very few white people do so. Almost all other minorities make an effort. That is not coincidence.

        Yes, it matters to me. Because it’s racism and privilege that allows too many people not to care to make an effort.

        Also, I once worked with someone who insisted on calling me by the traditional long form of my name. Think Catherine for Kathy. This was really problematic as the long form was the birth name the abusive sperm donor gave me. When I was adopted a year later because of his abuse, my name was shortened to its current form.

        (Please, anyone who responds, do not call him my father. Because he wasn’t. He didn’t earn the right to be called that. That labeling also matters.)

        When jerks insist on calling me by the long form instead of my actual name, it puts the thought of abusive basxxxd back in my head.

        So, yes, there are many, many reasons other than immaturity that one might want their name pronounced properly.

        To insist it’s NBD is either grossly naive or rankly privilege blind.

        It’s also logically ridiculous to assume that one’s experience on this is universal. Sometimes, people who don’t care need to step back and listen to those who do. Often their are legitimate reasons why something matters that those who don’t care just can’t see.

        1. Aveline*

          Ps there are two questions in this.

          First, should people care?

          Second, what is an appropriate response?

          Seems to me that a few people are conflating them.

          Also, the answer to the second question. Is clearly “it depends.” But since OP didn’t ask about the Barista she met once, perhaps we should focus on what she should do when someone she interacts with on a regular basis repeatedly gets it wrong. Because that seems to be the actual question presented.

          Further, it doesn’t matter if we care or don’t care about our own names. Or if it’s geberally correct to care. OP does care or she would not have written in. So instead of trying to argue why her caring is wrong or immature, perhaps we should focus on actual strategies to help her redirect those who get her name incorrect.

          That’s the actual question presented. And would be more useful to the other commenters like myself who have their names butchered regularly.

          I don’t need to hear I’m wrong and why. I need strategies I might not have thought of.

          1. LJay*

            But it’s not clear that the question asked is about people she interacts with on a regular basis. She didn’t say it was her boss or her coworker who gets it wrong. She said she was a receptionist and that these are callers.

            That leaves a lot of gray area as to who the callers actually are and how regularly she interacts with them.

            Is she dealing with a lot of people who call once to ask what the business hours are or for directions there, that she will talk to once and then never again? Then it is more akin to the barista or cashier example.

            Is it a sales rep she talks to monthly to reorder office supplies? A utility guy who comes by quarterly to read the meters? A job applicant that she might never see again but who might also become someone she does see on a daily basis? The same people coming and checking in for a medical appointment on a weekly or semi-weekly basis? I don’t know the answers to all/any of these, but there are a lot of areas of nuance.

            I don’t think most people are saying that she shouldn’t care if someone she interacts with on a regular basis repeatedly get it wrong. That seems like a situation where it is obvious that you offer a polite correction, and there have been other posts on how to do that.

            The meat of the question seems to be about one-off/infrequent interactions and how and whether to offer a correction when it may seem to take a disproportionate part of your total interaction with that person to do so, and when you might be faced with doing it dozens of times daily with dozens of different people.

            1. Jasnah*

              Yeah, this sounds like a classic case of, frazzled overworked delivery person can’t remember the nickname preferences of each receptionist at each delivery they do every day. But for each receptionist, they get their name mangled 15 times a day. #1 gets a cheery, “Oh actually it’s..” but #15 gets 19 angry emails.

              There are plenty of reasons why someone might get a name wrong (general carelessness, mishearing, they forgot, racism) or why someone might care about their name (personal preference, cultural heritage, past trauma). I think the answer is everyone try harder to get names right and be generous when people are picky about how they’re called, and everyone also be clear about what they want to be called and be generous when people get it wrong. I like to assume the best intentions until proven otherwise.

    5. Not a Mere Device*

      The problem isn’t the people who don’t care–the Starbucks barista who hears “Nicki” or “Becky” when I say “Vicki.” The problem is the people who actively care about being allowed to mangle other people’s names.

      If I introduce myself as “Vicki” I may then have to explain “Vicki with a V as in Victor” if someone calls me “Ricki,” or explain that it really is “Vicki,” so don’t put “Victoria” on the paperwork, and that’s fine. The problem is the people who insist on calling me “Vic” (some people will try to shorten even something that already looks like a nickname) or putting “Victoria” because they are sure that “Vicki isn’t really your name,” even though they met me one minute ago and I’ve had this name for half a century. And that’s with an “ordinary” enough name, for the United States, that I don’t have to deal with just-introduced strangers saying “I’ll just call you Annie, it’s easier” [for them, than even making a minimal effort to be polite].

      I’m already making it easier for them by saying “call me Vicki” after they mangle my surname, which most people do. (It’s a German-Jewish name with a cluster of consonants in the middle, and people either drop the middle consonant or come up with a more common name that starts the same way–like “Curtis” instead of “Curtatone.”)

    6. Izzy*

      Hard disagree, sorry. Yes, there will be times when letting it go is the best thing to do, but in general it is absolutely fine to care about what people call you. It’s nothing to do with ~~truly knowing who you are~~, which sounds like something from a bad self-help book.

      1. Jay Bee*

        Really disagree about this.

        I logged into a call and said “Hi, “Jennifer” is on.” and someone I work with on a regular basis responded “Hi, Jen.” People will also respond to an email saying “Hi Jen…” when I signed the email to which they are responding as Jennifer.

        I’ve never signed an email as “Jen.” Never introduced myself as “Jen.” I don’t go by “Jen.” And yes, it does bother me. It’s a power move for some people (like the one on the call), and it’s lack of attention to detail for others. But, I work in fundraising, so my ability to correct a donor (months later) is somewhat limited unfortunately.

          1. Aveline*

            I think they were adding to your point. I didn’t read them as disagreeing with you, but with the original poster on the thread.

            Oils also be a nestin fail

        1. miss_chevious*

          It’s totally a power move for some people, as evidenced by my experience when I correct the pronunciation of my name. I do it only when it matters — coworkers, clients, people I will deal with repeatedly — and I keep it matter of fact — “actually it’s Miss ChevIOus, not Miss Chevus” in a smiling tone — and still people react like I’ve slapped them in the face. I’ve had opposing counsel ask if there were any “actually important” issues I wanted to address, I’ve had business people tell me they were just never going to get it so I might as well stop trying, and I’ve had people comment that I should change my name. My name is unusual (although it is pronounced exactly how it’s spelled for native English speakers) so correcting people has been par for the course my entire life and I don’t take it personally . . . until the person being corrected demonstrates to me that that they can’t be bothered to get it right. Then it’s personal as hell.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Wait, you said opposing counsel. You’re a lawyer, facing another lawyer in court, and they can’t be bothered to get your name right? Hostile Work Environment is what that sounds like to me.

        2. Pebbles*

          I get you on the Jen vs. Jennifer thing. One of my coworkers has a wife named Jen, so I understood why he was calling me Jen, but I really hate that name. So I trained him out of it. Every time he called me Jen I’d tell him I wasn’t his wife. (I could have gone in another, more embarrassing direction, like calling him “hon”, but decided against it.)

    7. Dopplenamer*

      OP4 Here –

      Although I’m a receptionist I am in my mid 30s so really the name thing is less about “Growing up” for me and getting used to something different. I’ve been a receptionist for a long time now, just a new location, and I just happen to “luck out” on multiple coworkers here who go by “Chris” in addition to callers/clients who shorten my name to Chris (intentionally or otherwise). I’m finding through many other comments its just something to get used to and to not let it bother me for mostly brief interactions.

      But also I think the “When you truly know who you are, you won’t care what other people call you.” is a YMMV situation. To a certain degree I do care but that doesn’t mean I don’t know who I am. But overall YMMV with so many other factors around names and cultures.

      1. Aveline*

        Yep. You are free to decide if you don’t care.

        But you shouldn’t decide it’s wrong for other people to care.

        AAM’s advice is spot on.

        I often find a gentle, teasing correction can help. “Actually. It’s Finknottle and rhymes with stinkbottle…”

        If that doesn’t work, then you know he person on the other side doesn’t care to try.

        1. Dopplenamer*

          I am confused, I haven’t made any decision on if other people care or not. I care about not being called “Chris” . Unless its about me quoting the other commentor? I do believe that’s a YMMV situation since there are a lot of additional factors to names than it being “just a name” for some people.

    8. General Ginger*

      Gonna have to hard disagree here. I do truly know who I am, and I do very much care when people repeatedly deadname me. It shows me they’re, at best, rude, and likely transphobic.

      1. Aveline*

        Thank you.

        I honestly forgot transphobia and deadnaming in my post about racism and names. My apologies. I should know better.

        Yet another reason why it matters. Because for many people, names are a part of identity. Race, religion, and choice of name by someone trans or simply not cishet all matter.

        I’m ashamed I didn’t think of this as well. I have a gender queer friend who switched from a feminine name to a gender neutral one (think Pat, Chris, etc). Yes, for them, the name matters a lot.

        There are a whole list of reasons why naming matters.

        Also add to this, for adoptees who change their names when they get new families, this can be a really big deal. Friends just adopted a 10 year old child who was horribly abused. He shortened his first name and took a new middle name of his choice. He has the friends surname now. For that kid, getting the name correct is a big deal. It’s a sign of the new path he is on.

        1. General Ginger*

          Your point was a good one! As was the PS. In some situations, our identities matter more than in others — or, rather, whether we should address the misidentifying in some situations vs others.

          A barista I see once at a coffee shop I may or may not come back to? NBD, honestly. A barista who recognizes me by face at my regular coffee shop? I’d correct them.

          Someone who misheard Vicky and said Becky? Most likely not malicious, may or may not need to be corrected (see above). Someone who insists on calling Małgorzata Maggie, repeatedly, because Małgorzata is just too much/too foreign/too hard? Pretty crappy, and definitely something to call out.

      2. Oranges*

        YESSSSSSS, because that’s where my mind went immediately when I (cis female) read the letter.

        It’s kinda simple: call people what they want to be called. At least attempt to. As a person with REALLY bad English (brain crap) I tell the person that I’ll try but please be patient since I have problems with normal English.

    9. Database Developer Dude*

      Lynn Marie,
      This is completely and totally unnecessarily inflammatory. Calling someone out as immature because they want what is considered basic respect on a person-to-person level is basically saying ‘I’m more important than you, and you’re a child for not recognizing that’.

    10. Oranges*

      I’m gonna come over to your office and clip my nails/floss my teeth/pick at the callouses on my feet! It doesn’t bug me therefore it shouldn’t bother you.

    11. nonegiven*

      No. I was in a situation where I gave up correcting people after a week. I started answering to the wrong name.

      Then a new woman came, she had the name I was answering to, wrongly. I didn’t just stop answering to it. I stopped hearing it. If someone called her name I didn’t hear it. People had to get my attention and point at the person using the wrong name. Why didn’t you answer me, name? That’s not my name. That stopped it, pretty quickly.

  17. Delta Delta*

    #4 – I have a pretty common first name that can be shortened into about 8 different first names. A couple of them I don’t mind, while the others are not something I’ve ever called myself and that I do not respond to. If someone starts calling me one of those names, I usually say that I prefer to be called the main name and I leave it at that. I also have a story about how I’m named for a relative who had the same name but went by X, so I always go by Y to avoid confusion. It isn’t necessary to add that bit, but it does soften the conversation for folks who might need additional minders about what my name actually is.

  18. Rebecca Deborah Rachel*

    #4 My name is Rebecca but I have been called Deborah and Rachel several times as well as nicknames for Rebecca like Becky and Becca. Deborah and Rachel kind of amuse me, but I do not like being called Becca at all. Becky I’m kind of neutral about since my family uses that one.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      *fistbump* For me it’s Rachel or Elizabeth. Becca is for family use, and I’m not fond of it or of Becky. Rebecca is fine, three distinct syllables, one ancient and biblical name. *sigh*

      1. Rebecca Deborah Rachel*

        (Different) Rebecca, PhD, *fist bump* back at you. I was called Elizabeth occasionally as child so I feel your pain. And I agree Rebecca is a fine name, easy to pronounce, with an ancient and biblical history.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I mean…those aren’t even close.

      “Hi. I’m Elizabeth.”

      “Nice to meet you, Noodle-Doodle.”

      1. SigneL*

        For some mysterious people, a number of people have called me Nancy. “Because you look like a Nancy!”

        1. Lore*

          Is your name Debbie? My partner has a mental block on the names Debbie and Nancy and finds them interchangeable in people he doesn’t know well. Also Jason and Kevin. (Also Heather and Melissa. I have three friends named Heather and two Melissas and it gets comical.) He’s fine in their presence as long as we’ve confirmed which name is right beforehand but I can’t talk about any of them without clarification.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          You’ve found it–the only acceptable exception to my scrupulous insistence on calling people by their correct name.

      2. Emi.*

        My guess is that people are thinking “Hi, […oh no, what’s her name? I know it was an Old Testament name, uh…] Deborah!”

        1. Liet-Kinda*

          “Hephzi-Bah? Not that….Jehoshabeath? Mmmnnn….Zipporah? Not that either….gimme a minute…”

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            There was actually a Zipporah in my taekwondo class. I never thought about that…..

      3. Rebecca Deborah Rachel*

        I think when people can’t remember Rebecca, they start thinking of other biblical names (Deborah, Rachel, Elizabeth) or names with three syllables, or both.

      4. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        I had a coworker named Rachel whose sisters were Rebecca and Elizabeth- they’re all pretty common biblical names, so maybe they get scrambled in people’s heads?

    3. Rebecca Rachel Melissa*

      I get Rachel and Melissa, myself. Only very rarely do I get Deborah. My family calls me Becky, and I have a distant cousin who used to call me Debbie instead.

    4. Michelle Melissa Margaret*

      Michelle checking in (thanks, Mom and Dad, for at least not going with “Jennifer” in 1971). When people can’t remember my name, they tend to think it’s Melissa (hi, high-school boyfriend’s dad!), or less often Margaret. Now I’m in an office with two Margarets, but when someone asks for Margaret, I still wonder if they don’t mean me sometimes!

      1. Oh no, not another Jennifer*

        YES. There were always 3 girls with my name in my class from grade school to college. And a few with the exact same first and last name. I usually get Jessica or Jenny so it isn’t too far off. If it is someone that I will never see again, I usually let it go. But if it is someone that I will see often and in the course of business, I will keep trying to correct them.
        Someone with my same name recently started at work and I get her emails all the time. I usually forward them to her rather than correct the sender. I let her make the response with the apporpriate email address. Her own boss has emailed asking for something. I sent to her as soon as I could so she didn’t get in trouble for ignoring a request.

      2. emmelemm*

        For the record, I’m a Margaret and I’ve never been called Michelle or Melissa! :) Now, Meg, Peg, Maggie, Marge, Margie, etc. – that’s another story.

    5. Elizabeth Melissa*

      Even us Elizabeths aren’t exempt! Generally speaking, on the phone, people are going to call me Melissa. It’s so common that I just respond to either. I have a friend Elizabeth as well who often gets called Emily. We’ve just decided to use those names for each other now. It confuses our mutual circle to no end.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        I’m betting that when people on the phone hear “I’m Elizabeth,” the “m” travels over and attaches itself to the front of your name. “M-eliza.” Lame, but maybe that’s the source of combining such different names?

        The reason I’m guessing this is that my Japanese sister gets people calling her “America”(?!) after she says, “I’m Erika.”

      2. moodygirl86*

        My brother’s girlfriend is a Lissie (short for Melissa and often misheard as Lizzie). I can see where the Elizabeth connection comes from now!

    6. Ann - onymous*

      I get Mary Ann on occasion, even though my name is Ann Marie. It helps not to tell people my middle name.

      It’s funny how people transpose names. Had a former co-worker named April. There were *several* people who would say “Rachel”. Luckily, we were all considerate adults, and apologized when we blundered and didn’t perpetuate it deliberately. I think the vowel sound is what got people.

      In an odd twist, April and I had similar last names (same ethnic background, started with the same letter – like Johnson and Jackson*) and nobody got us mixed up.

      * Not even close to our actual names, just an example of how similar they are.

    7. ACDC*

      Lol are they just going to rotate through all of the female names found in the Old Testament for you???

      1. Rebecca Deborah Rachel*

        Yep! Although for me it’s most often been Deborah, except for a family member who called me Rachel since I was born for no reason anyone could have figure out.

    8. Dopplenamer*

      OP 4 here –

      I’m always amused when people say a different name that is barely or not even in the ballpark. I’ve been called Sarah and Kimmy.

    9. Rebecca*

      I’ve never gotten Deborah. But I’m Rachel like 99% of the time. People get annoyed when I correct them. Am I supposed to congratulate you that you got the first letter correct?

      I loath when sales people send me emails that say “Hey Becky.” I’ve almost pulled a “Elizabeth” on a few. You want my business then don’t decide to make up a nickname for me before even meeting me. For everyone I just let it go but sales ppl drive me crazy.

      1. iglwif*

        I used to get “Susan” a lot. My name is definitely not Susan, doesn’t have the same origin or the same number of syllables, but it does start with the same letter …??

        If you’re emailing me to try and sell me your services, it’s a good idea to get my name at least sort of right, y’all.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Now I’m hearing the old Whitney Houston song “My name is not Susan” in my head. Thanks!

      2. Rebecca Deborah Rachel*

        I get Deborah 90% of the time and Rachel the rest. But Becca will annoy me no end (mostly because I went to school with a Becca who annoyed me). My family and childhood friends still call me Becky, but rarely do new people I meet do so.

    10. Kelly L.*

      I get Katherine sometimes. I actually like it better than my real name–I kind of wish I was Katherine, and would probably name my imaginary daughter that if I had one–but I won’t know to answer to it. I did eventually start answering to one of my sisters’ names since we got mistaken for each other so often. Say her name, even when she’s not around, and my head will go up.

    11. Also Rebecca*

      I’ve also been called Rachel throughout my life, and occasionally “Deborah,” which is just odd because I was almost named Rachel and my mom’s name is Deborah.

    12. CoveredInBees*

      Why not just round it out with Sarah and Leah, while they’re at it? Geez.

      My name starts with an A and people will call me any female name that starts with A, despite my name being written out multiple times in front of them in an email. Even if they look or sound nothing like my name except for the A. People will also grab a syllable here and there and mix them into an entirely new name or just the one syllable (eg Alexandra gets turned into Nadra or just Dra). It is right there in front of them, why get cutesy (I often get diminutives of my name that make my skin crawl) or creative?!

  19. Birch*

    OP1, this sounds like the perfect storm of awkwardness! I’m left wondering a bit though, how small is a small networking event in a conference of 1000+? Was it 100 people or 15? I think that makes a huge difference, not only in the space and refreshments but in what percentage of guests are relevant to the event. And how common are these exclusive invitation-only networking events in your field–is this something the crashers would have known is an absolute DO NOT DO in your field and they did it anyway? And as someone else pointed out above, how did your client react to the whole thing? Were they upset or did they notice at all?

    You say you just started your own consulting company, this was your first time hosting an event like this, and also make a point of saying the crashers are “low-level.” It comes across like you were trying to make this event more elite than you really have the power to make it and are frustrated because others weren’t also treating it that way. That’s really understandable and also a really terrible feeling! You put so much work into it and the crashers didn’t respect that. But the only real way to deal with that is not to engage with the rude people. You don’t have the power to punish them, and getting involved in the drama will only hurt your reputation. At that point you can really just stand back and let the rudeness burn itself up, and feel sad that your event didn’t turn out the way you wanted, and take notes for next time. Maybe hire a bouncer if you really don’t want anyone without an invite to come? I would stick with Alison’s advice here but if your client was upset, also add that you were trying to focus on them and the crashers were an uninvited distraction that could cost you in business.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      You say you just started your own consulting company, this was your first time hosting an event like this, and also make a point of saying the crashers are “low-level.” It comes across like you were trying to make this event more elite than you really have the power to make it and are frustrated because others weren’t also treating it that way.
      Low-level employees don’t make decisions about which consultant to hire so they’re out of place at a networking event like OP1 described. If they worked for a client, they may be included as an act of good will. But that’s not the case in this instance.

    2. Carrie*

      OP1 here. It was 70 people, so they made up 10% of the attendees. That said, it didn’t make a huge difference and my client wouldn’t have even noticed except that they were so obviously not blending in. I hate how this sounds, so I think I didn’t say it to Alison, but it’s The Event of the conference for a lot of people. Being invited is a nice thing if you’re not associated with my client’s organization. I’ve run the event for three years, but this was the first time under my own company, so I know I am being very sensitive and probably over-dramatic.

      But it is an elite event, and by my friends coming and then adding more people made it less elite and made me look bad. Or rather I made myself look bad, because I should have just said I was glad they were there, but that it was invitation only and please be considerate of that.

      I think you’re right though, and I need to let the rudeness burn out and talk directly to the people who came – at least the ones I know.

      1. Jam Today*

        You are not being overly-dramatic. They knew they were not invited and showed up anyway — for the free drinks — counting on you having to do the real-time calculus of minimizing harm: is it worse to let them stay and freeload off the energy, space, and money that was meant for your client? Or is it worse to potentially cause a scene in front of your client by enforcing the invitation condition? That’s just straight up manipulation — they gambled on being able to make you so uncomfortable in front of your client, that they could just get away with whatever they wanted. These really aren’t good people, and you should have no hesitation about telling them that their behavior reflects really poor professional judgement, that they are not welcome at your events without invitation, and that you will be enforcing this.

        1. WellRed*

          I think they are just young and inexperienced and it didn’t occur to them that what they were doing was obnoxious and putting the LW on the spot. I think it highly unlikely this was a masterful manipulation by the group.

          1. Thor*

            Yeah, it’s not an uncommon thing at conferences to try to get invited to networking events and for hosts to let people in to some of them. I think it’s likely that the group legitimately didn’t realize that it was an issue for OP.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              Maybe, but their reaction when they were informed that it was an issue was extremely rude as well.

          2. Drop Bear*

            I’m of the opinion that anyone legally old enough to be employed is old enough to know that crashing a professional event is wrong, drinking and talking loudly in a ‘huddle’ at a professional event is wrong, and that doubling down and expecting an apology for being called on said crashing, is wrong.
            Unlike AAM, I think the LW should report it to her former employer if she wants to have a business relationship with the employer/depends on them for her business success in some way. This was a private function adjacent to a professional conference, so these people were representing their company, and their behaviour was a potential embarrassment for their employer. The fact that the LW’s client didn’t notice was the result of luck not design. If I was the gate-crasher’s manager, or in fact any senior person in their company, I would be annoyed that the LW didn’t advise me of my employees unprofessional behaviour , and it might actually damage the relationship between me and the LW’s new company. I expect consultants I hire to run projects etc, to give feedback on how my employees perform while working ‘under’ the consultant – this isn’t much different from that.
            Also I don’t think the LW should apologise in any way to the gate crashers – any benefit she derives from her relationship with her former employer is unlikely to be dependent on the goodwill of a few unprofessional low level employees, it is much more likely to be dependent on the goodwill of senior people. And I for one, already irked that I had not been informed of the unprofessional behaviour of my staff, would be more irked if she had given them the message that their behaviour was acceptable by apologising to them for objecting to said behaviour.

              1. Drop Bear*

                To quote the LW: ‘When I went to make the rounds later though, I saw they had brought in four more uninvited guests from my former company…’. Reads crashing to me.

                1. serenity*

                  I agree – and also want to say that at this point there’s a fair amount of nitpicking of OP’s onsite behavior.
                  She said in other comments that she realizes she should have been more firm at the moment and she’s learned that lesson. That doesn’t absolve the former colleagues of guilt – they snuck in other coworkers, were loud and inconsiderate, and apparently were harping on getting into this invite-only event to OP’s staff earlier the same day. That’s boorish behavior no matter how you cut it.

              2. Izzy*

                No, it’s not – but trying to get invites to an invite-only event, and then turning up anyway when refused, then bringing along more people and not behaving terribly well once there… it’s not exactly crashing but it’s a bit of a poor show in a professional context. I honestly don’t know if it rises to the level of informing their boss, but I think any adult who’s ever been to a conference – or attended a house party, for that matter – would be well aware that behaviour like this is a bit not good.

              3. Jam Today*

                It is absolutely crashing when you put your host over a barrel because the alternative is a potentially embarrassing scene in front of her client. Then, when she *did* call them to the carpet for their behavior — they laughed in her face. They had no intention of leaving quietly if she asked them to; they were daring her to make a scene.

          3. Lindsay gee*

            except they were bullying one of her employees all day to get an invite…so they were very aware they weren’t invited. I don’t think young and inexperienced is the right intent here

          4. Someone Else*

            It wasn’t necessarily master manipulation, but it’s still a jerk move that happens at this type of event at conferences, from people of all levels. I’ve had to be desk-check-in and Management always starts off telling us not to let people without invitations in. And not to let invited people bring extra guests. Because we have a head count, and a budget, etc. And every year despite giving us scripts to use to try to calmly diffuse the situation and turn people away, every year they undermine their own instructions and let the people in. And every year MORE people show up uninvited. And then we debate the budget. It’s horrible. Anyone who has worked on this kind of event knows that. So if these uninvited people know OP, and at least some of them worked with her, there’s a decent chance they knew already that what they were doing wasn’t cool. They either made a calculated decision to be part of the problem and hoped she’d basically let it slide for them because of the past relationship, or didn’t factor that in at all but knew some people manage to get into events by doing this anyway, so hey why not.

    3. Working Mom Having It All*

      Yeah, I think the “perfect storm of awkwardness” is probably the reason this got so complicated and feathers were ruffled.

      So it’s a networking event held at a conference, hosted by the LW in her capacity as a consultant for a different client, and not technically involving her current company or any of her coworkers at said company at all. This event is both stringently invitation-only and also “casual” at the same time, both “small” and a big enough deal to be fairly high stakes for the LW at the same time, and also potentially not a big deal to the party-crashing coworkers and also important enough to the client that the presence of the crashers was noticed and perceived negatively.

      I think the best way to handle this in the future is to never speak of private events you are hosting for private clients which don’t involve your current company at your workplace at all. I’m a freelance writer on the side and don’t really talk about it at work just in case someone else got the wrong idea or made assumptions. And that doesn’t even involve free booze! Or, if for some reason this is simply not something you can keep secret from potential gate crashers, you have to be upfront and immovable about the fact that your colleagues at Company X are not invited to the event, invitations will not be extended no matter what, and colleagues from Company X who turn up to your event held on behalf of Company Y without invitations will be turned away at the door.

      1. Carrie*

        OP1 here. Just to clarify, they were ex-coworkers. So people I worked with 4+ years ago. Their company held the conference, so some people were invited from their company. For example, their CEO, their main lawyer who engages with my client, and a few others that deal with my client’s organization routinely. It’s invitation-only, but by casual, I mean people loosen up a lot, there is some drinking, and there isn’t a formal guest list to check. If the VP of ‘my industry’ for Google or a State Senator shows up we’re not going to kick them out. But ultimately yes, I agree, I should have been upfront that they were not invited!

        1. Birch*

          Sorry I’m just getting back to this now again! I really feel your pain. I’m not an event coordinator or anything but I love to host dinner parties and picnics and that feeling of an event turning out not-really-what-I-wanted and feeling powerless to shift the atmosphere is so disappointing and exhausting! I think the combo of invite-only/elite and casual was the problem. If you really want a party to be elite, you have to be clear about the rules and stick to them, otherwise things get out of your control very fast and everyone has different ideas about the boundaries for these kinds of things. Next time you should definitely stick to the guest list (unless, like you said, there’s a VIP who shows, but then who’s to say they weren’t on the list originally anyway?). I love the script you came up with above: I should have just said I was glad they were there, but that it was invitation only and please be considerate of that.

          That being said, the party crashers were super rude. It’s so0ooo unsatisfying that you have to be the bigger person to save your reputation, but like they say, don’t wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig enjoys it. At least now you have a story about rude people you can tell to get sympathy!

  20. snowglobe*

    #2 – A simpler solution might be to have your theater activities on your resume, and then explain in your cover letter, as you did here, how your theater training included voice training, which would help you in doing recordings as part of your job. They would likely ask about that in the interview, and you could demonstrate. Why not just be direct, if the job posting specifically mentions voice work?

    1. akiwiinlondon*

      I was thinking the same thing, if you have an opportunity to ask questions about the role you could ask about how much it involves recording and frame it around a desire to train you voice further if it would be significant to the role. It seems like it would be a good idea to learn more about how important these recordings are if you are worried your voice is going to rule you out.

      I’m sure most people don’t like their voice on recording so it could be easy to frame it around wanting to return to voice training if it will be a significant part of the role and giving them the information that you are aware of and working on how you would speak for a recording without having to worry about upholding a ‘theatre voice’.

  21. ProcheinAmy*

    I work on L&D and would be very disappointed if someone did not use their regular voice during a job interview. At my job, we do so much work with our internal customers, it would be hard to maintain. And it seem like you are not representing yourself. Everyone in my group knows we all have our “radio” voice and it is different from our normal voice. I would just point out when talking about your experience – the fact that you have worked on your recording voice – and are really good at voice overs.

    1. What’s with Today, today?*

      I’m a radio personality and I don’t interview with my radio voice either. That just seems so odd. That’s what the air check is for. If the job is really audio/video intensive, they’ll ask for voice work samples. Are you also 100% sure you’ll be recording these videos? I get hired to voice training videos on occasion.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        I should add, the voice isn’t that different. Clearer enunciation, emphasis on certain words, smiling at the beginning of each paragraph, but it would sure look odd and forced in an interview.

    2. CM*

      Agreed — you’re going to be using your regular voice every day with your coworkers, so use that during your interview. I think it’s actually a plus for you to explain that you’ve received training to develop a “theater” voice that you would use for voiceovers. It shows that you’re taking that aspect of your job seriously and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to do a great job. You could even briefly drop into your theater voice to demonstrate.

  22. Mary Ann*

    My name is Mary Ann (2 words no e) I always wanted a real nickname but Mary Ann doesn’t lend itself. Only my SIL and my mother called me Mary in my personal life and I never cared because it was a love thing.
    At work there is always one person that calls me Mary. The last 2 jobs it was a person I had a friendly/annoyed relationship with so I find it funny. Most people will casually call me Mare I think because my whole name has 7 syllables and is kind of an alitteration.
    I do dislike when my name is written incorrectly though because I’m just not a Marianne person!!

    1. ElspethGC*

      See, to me, “Mary Ann” has the first syllable sounding like “mare”, just like in the name “Mary”, while “Marianne” has a different syllable. More like “marry-ann” or “mar-i-an”. I suppose that’s down to accents, though.

  23. Asenath*

    I think it’s courteous to call people by the name they prefer, but (given I’m bad with names myself) not a major sin if someone mistakes my name the first time they meet or email me – and especially not if it’s the kind of once-only encounter that means the mistake is not going to be repeated. That being said, it is really rude to continually use the wrong name or nickname for someone you’re dealing with frequently. If it continues after a correction, it implies that the speaker can’t be bothered to treat you with basic courtesy. One of my siblings often had this problem when he was young – I think many adults didn’t think a child would use the full form of his name, so every time he started in a new grade in school, or met a new doctor or nurse, it took time and patience to get some of them to use the name used when he was introduced/signed up.

    My real name can be spelled numerous ways (some of which I swear people invent on the fly, but maybe not in these days of original spellings for names). It’s pronounced differently in North America and the UK, even with the same spelling. If you don’t listen carefully, it sounds like a couple of other names. And there’s one or two nicknames that can be derived from it. But all these errors don’t happen often enough – at least, not twice with the same person – to annoy me. When people do make a mistake with it, I do remember my parents, though, especially my mother, who thought they were giving me an attractive and simple name that couldn’t be mangled or easily mistaken!

    1. ACDC*

      Completely agree! If it’s a one-off meeting, or the first time meeting, no worries at all. But if we’ve been friends/colleagues/whatever for a decent amount of time, yes I’m going to get salty that you keep calling me Alexa instead of Alexis.

  24. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I have a common first name, which is abbreviated in a common way to a diminutive ending in y (think something like ‘Victoria’ shortened to Vicky). My huge bugbear is being referred to by an even shorter version (Vic, Vix), or in written form, people using an i (Vicki) not a y, *even though it’s clearly in my email address and on my email signature*. Sigh.

    1. PhyllisB*

      I feel all of you with the misspelled/mispronounced names. I was named after my uncle, and my mother was adamant about the spelling. Well, guess who misspelled it the most? Right, my mother. I would say “You’re the one who insisted on this spelling, and now you can’t remember how to spell it?” I was an adult before she quit doing it. I get all sorts of variations and unless it’s someone I interact with, I don’t say anything. But when I give my name, I am careful to spell it out. I’m talking about business reasons. If it’s Starbucks, no big deal. If it’s the electric company, big deal. AT&T has it spelled wrong. I have tried for 40 years to get it corrected, but finally gave up.

      1. iglwif*


        I mean, I have sisters-in-law who after 16 years still can’t spell my kid’s name (it’s a Yiddish name; they are Very Not Jewish), and that annoys her, but she’d be epically peeved if *I* couldn’t spell it!

      2. Not A Morning Person*

        With AT&T, maybe you could try not paying them because they are sending you someone else’s bill? That probably wouldn’t work, but I’d be tempted to return the bill every time with the corrected spelling until they got it right, sort of like the states that require an “exact match” for the name on the voter roles.

    2. Sophie before she was cool*

      I have the opposite problem! I go by the “Vic” equivalent (not my actual name). All of my mom’s friends call me “Vicky” even though I’m 100% sure she’s never referred to me that way. Usually I let it go because these are people I see maybe twice a year at this point. For work, I just never tell people my full name is “Victoria” and they tend not to question “Vic”. I’ve been lucky.

    3. Daisy Avalin*

      I have a name which can be shortened to a diminutive with several different spellings. I don’t object to my full name (which the majority of my family call me) nor do I make a big fuss about the spelling of the diminutive that I use (except when it comes to official work documentation/paperwork), as most people default to the spelling they’re used to.
      It does mildly irritate me that one of my colleagues drops a letter off my preferred name when he writes it despite my name being clearly written on the rota (e.g. ‘Salli’ rather than ‘Sallie’), but he also draws hearts over the ‘i’s which amuses me more than the misspelling irritates me, so it works out ok.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        People insist on spelling my name Rusti, which I hate with the the intensity of a thousand suns. Even my inlaws have done this, on a permanent inscription. Thanks, guys.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I DON’T KNOW. It’s not the most common spelling. I don’t know why people default to that, but they do.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Some people have this weird thing where they’re convinced boy versions of gender-neutral names must end in Y and girl versions must end in I! You’d never see a male Ricki or Nikki. Maybe people are wrongly extrapolating and think they’re “feminizing” Rusty?

  25. Roscoe*

    For #4 I totally agree with Alison. I have a first name that is common enough, but people very frequently get it wrong and call me another name that starts with the same couple letters. Like I’ll introduce myself as “John” but then they’ll call me “Joe”. It happens often in email when my name is right there! But I just let it go. As someone who is bad with names myself, I know its not malicious its just a thing that can happen. I think being overly aggressive with it would make you look worse

  26. Sled dog mama*

    As someone who works in oncology and probably uses your software (and is in the middle of a major software/hardware purchase) I’m looking forward to this Christmas card.

  27. SigneL*

    I used to work with two computer guys – same first name (let’s say Jack) and last names that differed by one letter – like Johnson vs Johnston. They did somewhat different things, but if someone just called in saying, “I’d like to speak to Jack about some software,” it took a while for the secretary to send the called to the right person. And it never ceased to amaze me how callers would get angry with the secretary – “just transfer me to Jack!” and then be even angrier if they were transferred to the wrong Jack.

    1. MLB*

      At my last job, I had a cousin that worked in the same department – I’m Michele and he’s Michael. He was a manager and I was not. Sales people would call the main line and ask for him, and they would transfer the person to me frequently. I only said my first name when I answered, and would play dumb when they pitched to me. “I’m not sure why they sent you to me? I don’t make those decisions.”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I used to work for a department that had a guy in a different office named Jack. I’d leave a message for his counterpart in my office, telling her that Jack had called about the TPS reports, and she’d say “which Jack?” And I’d answer “Jack Jackson,” befuddled, because we only had one Jack. Finally she got frustrated and said look, my husband’s name is Jack and my father’s name is Jack, so when you tell me “Jack” called I don’t know which Jack you’re talking about. I wanted to say “Is your husband or father going to call you about the TPS reports? How about if someone named Jack calls you at work about a TPS report, you just assume it’s Jack Jackson who you work with?” But instead, I dutifully wrote “Jack Jackson” on her message slips.

      I’m so glad I don’t answer anyone else’s phone any more.

  28. Boredatwork*

    Hey op #2! I also have a very high pitched baby voice, it’s very feminine. I lower it and smooth is out when I record training videos. When you are asking thousands of people to listen to your voice it’s definitely your preoperative to make it as pleasant to the listener as possible.

  29. Dance-y Reagan*

    #4 I have a family member who constantly gets his first name completely changed to a not-really-equivalent anglicized version (so like referring to an Enrico as an ‘Erik’). Not only does it grate, but there’s touchy ethnic issues at play as well. People react poorly to being corrected because they don’t like to be wrong AND they act like you’re calling them a racist, so they dig in their heels and go all ‘Murica about it.

  30. Alice906*

    I live in the U.S. but the spelling of my name is much more common in the UK. Further, I pronounce my name with an unvoiced sibilant /s/, but it seems the /z/ pronunciation is somewhat more common. In other words, I’ve been on the receiving end of both variant spellings and pronunciations all my life. In fact, even some of my closest friends pronounce my name with a /z/–I honestly don’t think they notice the difference! Although of course I prefer when people spell and say my name the way I do, it also doesn’t bother me much when they don’t. It’s one thing for someone to intentionally misname you or go against your wishes, but it’s quite another to make a spelling mistake or use a variant pronunciation. Yes, I’m surprised when the misspelling is in an email reply because my name is written out right there, but have you noticed how bad people are at spelling? Nicknames, however, I’ve always felt were a somewhat different case. Shortening someone’s name comes off as overly familiar and presumptuous–I’ve never liked it when someone I didn’t know well (or at all!) would shorten my name, even though I don’t mind it with friends and family. So I get where OP is coming from, especially since she doesn’t like anyone to use the shortened version of her name! That said, I would still second the advice given: Politely correct when it’s someone you’ll encounter more than once and let the rest go. It’s just not worth it to do more than that; it will come off as overly sensitive and won’t solve the problem with one-off callers. (Note: This comment does not apply to people who refuse to try to pronounce/spell what they consider “weird” or “foreign” names–that’s in a totally different and quite egregious category of behavior that deserves to be called out more directly.)

  31. Falling Diphthong*

    From letter 1: They knew they weren’t invited and had borderline bullied one of my employees all day about getting an invite.

    I want to pull this out, because it would not be at all unusual for bullying your employee to be the reason you made their lives more difficult. “Oh, Ned. I’ve worked with him.” *displeased moue*

    I’m not certain of the timeline here–if you found out about the bullying before or after the event–but you want to have your employees backs. They followed your instructions about limiting the invites, only to have the obnoxious former coworkers go over their heads by showing up at the door anyhow, where the pressure worked. If you knew about the bullying, they definitely shouldn’t have made it in the door. If you found out about it the next day, along with how they were now complaining to your staff about not doing an acceptable job of catering their after-work hangout–they were out of line multiple times here, by bullying your staff, by showing up when they weren’t invited, by threatening to make a scene at the door, by sneaking in more people apparently on the goal of having you cater their own private hangout time within your event, by ignoring you when you briefly addressed their behavior. At some point in there you should have started returning the awkward to sender, because the message they are taking from this is Push Harder and OP will cave.

    Basically, I think you allot people one “okay, I’m going to overlook this roughness in the interests of smooth social relations” pass. If they keep throwing down “gimme what I want, or I’m making it AWKWARD” then you need to push back. Or they will keep making that play, over the bodies of your long-suffering staff.

    I don’t know if OP is new to running her own business, or returning to it, but if the former–this is something you need to figure out, if you want to be a good boss who backs her people up when they’re conducting themselves as you instructed.

    1. Carrie*

      OP1 here. Thank you, I found out about the bullying the next day and you’re right, that definitely needs to be addressed. I’ve been a consultant for a while, new to running a business. I definitely want to be a boss that backs up her people. I feel like I have no authority to really do anything though except call my old boss. I mean, the bully doesn’t work for me, it’s not like I can talk to her about professionalism toward my staff… or can I? Is that a thing?

      1. WellRed*

        Hmm, good question. I think maybe you can, on the grounds of backing up your employees, although I think that sort of thing might have been better in the moment (not possible in this case). However, since you have a relationship with the boss, that might be the best way to go, if indeed, you pursue this.

      2. Em*

        If they were at the conference representing their company, why wouldn’t you be able to contact their boss? You don’t want to ruffle feathers in your industry, but I bet neither does their company.

      3. Artemesia*

        I think calling their boss is ‘off’ — it is going to a networking event at a conference, not embezzlement and you let them in. It is common to cadge a tag along invite to these things. Yes they should have known because your staff said ‘no’ and yes you should have enforced the door, but it is plausible to just say to clients ‘I didn’t want to make a scene at the door when these junior people from my old firm came in and I am mortified that they then invited others in to the event. We will definitely make sure only invited guests are here next year.’

        You need to have someone at the door who recognizes who belongs and turn those who don’t away with ‘I’m sorry this is an invitational event.’ I assume people were wearing conference name tags and so managing the door is not impossible. Then realize that invited guest may also bring a junior hanger on and you will probably allow that. I might pre-empt next year with the ringleaders here.

      4. Izzy*

        I think you could, personally. It doesn’t have to be an all-guns-blazing YOUR STAFF ARE ILL-MANNERED GATECRASHERS confrontation – you could just schedule a catch-up or wait until your next meeting and then bring it up as an “oh, by the way…” thing. They’re not giving a great impression of their company by behaving that was and trying to bully invites out of people really isn’t acceptable, and if this is how they typically behave at conferences their boss really might want to know.

      5. Lindsay gee*

        I would at the very least talk to your employees about it now, as a sort-of debrief. Let them know that in future to let you know in the moment so you can deal with it in the moment, this will let them know you do have their backs.

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          Sometimes the best thing a boss can do it tell their employees “let me be the bad guy.” It’s hard for younger/less experienced people to stand up to their peers in tense situations and it can actually have professional repercussions. The younger you are, the more “mean” is going to affect your reputation just as much as “unprofessional.”

      6. Workerbee*

        I also think you can let their boss know, as a networking event at a conference = people bringing their companies with them. This isn’t some disconnected thing you were running.

        (Also I was recently at an event and still feel the cringe at some colleagues who attended and became belligerently, vocally intoxicated at every evening event, sometimes directly AT people I’ve made connections with over the years…)

  32. pleaset*

    I guess it’s important to know your audience, but I find the idea of a Christmas card from most businesses (at least in the US) a little off-putting and exclusive.

    Now a holidays card, or a New Year’s card seems more inclusive to me.

    1. Not Larry David*

      Oh please. I am American Jewish and this minor detail is not a hill I even want to climb, much less die on.
      I am going to assume it does not say anything about “the reason for the season” and is less religious than Charlie Brown’s Christmas (yes) special. Please give the letter-writer who obviously is not in control of any of the situation the benefit of the doubt here and feel free to substitute “end of calender year” card.

      1. pleaset*

        “not a hill I even want to climb, much less die on.”

        Certainly not “die” on, but absolutely worth mentioning it.

        And frankly, your coming at me for simply saying I find it “a little off-putting and exclusive” without even a recommendation to the OP is remarkable. Mentioning it gets the “Oh please.” Wow.

        “OP could be using “Christmas Card” imprecisely here. It’s very possible her business uses more inclusive wording in the card but calls it a Christmas card.”

        I hope so.

    2. Thor*

      OP could be using “Christmas Card” imprecisely here. It’s very possible her business uses more inclusive wording in the card but calls it a Christmas card.

    3. Working Mom Having It All*

      These are almost always intended as “holiday” cards and typically don’t mention anything religious at all. Usually the word “Christmas” is not used on the card itself, and the message will say something like “season’s greetings” or “happy holidays”. Sometimes the design motif is red and green with Christmas trees or Santa, and sometimes the staff is posed in front of Christmas decorations. Otherwise they’re completely secular. OP basically misspoke/definitely meant “holiday card” and not explicitly Christian Religious Observance Card.

      I agree that in an ideal world this wouldn’t be a thing, or the aesthetic aspects of these cards would be completely sanitized of any reference to anything that could construe a religious holiday. But this is the world we live in, and sometimes companies send holiday cards with Christmas trees in the photo, and none of this is even relevant to the question.

  33. Jamey*

    Calling someone by the right name is a sign of respect. Likewise, calling someone by the wrong name after being corrected is a sign of blatant disrespect.

    I know it’s not exactly the same, but this is a very touchy subject for me as a trans person. My name is very important to me. If I were called by my birth name at work, honestly, I would not continue working there.

  34. Embarrassingly bad at names*

    Speaking of getting names wrong :
    -I used to work with a consultant named Chloe and emailed her as “CHOLE” for 6 months. She was too nice to correct me, and a coworker pointed it out to me.
    -My first week at work, I mistyped my boss’s name and called him DOG instead of Doug

    1. Frea*

      A coworker kept referring to me as “Emily” during a meeting I was running. I kind of went blank and had no idea how to correct him without making things awkward (plus my real name sounds very close to that), so I decided to wait til after the meeting. Another coworker noticed and asked him about it and that’s how we discovered that I look like his daughter Emily. He was fairly sheepish at figuring out what he’d done.

    2. LGC*

      My first week at work, I mistyped my boss’s name and called him DOG instead of Doug

      But was he a very good boy?

  35. Nita*

    #1 – it seems it’s them that owe you an apology, not the other way around. I probably would not go to their boss, just call the “ringleaders” up and tell them that they behaved inappropriately, you’re not happy about it, and you’d like this to never happen again. If you’re worried that they will steamroll you again in conversation, either rehearse in advance so you can sound confident, or, worst case, send an email – but somehow I feel this would work better in a phone call.

    Yes, you’ve got to work with them in the future, but IMO, politely standing up for yourself after a conflict is going to do more good then harm for your future working relationship. Better that they see you as a strong leader, than as someone they can walk all over, ask for special favors, etc.

    1. M from NY*

      This! I’m so surprised at responses so far. If anything OP1 should be much more forceful regarding her former coworkers behavior.

      My advice? Reach out boss to boss to whomever is equivalent to your current position. Explain what happened and frame your concern that your former coworkers seem not to understand appropriate behavior at a conference and the position they put you in WITH YOUR CLIENT. There is no need to apologize to former coworkers. The only people you may need to apologize to are your workers who were caught in middle of allowing the old coworkers to crash.

      I think too many are overlooking this was a business event and as a consultant failure to manage event will look bad. Her former coworkers feelings are not more important than OP professional reputation.

      1. Thor*

        Really? If I’m the other group’s boss, my response is going to be: You’re expecting me to care about people that asked if they could go to a networking event, was told they could go and then didn’t talk to others?

        That doesn’t rise to the level of tattling to me.

        1. M from NY*

          At a conference you are representing your company. Their employees crashed uninvited and behaved boorishly. Its a kindness to present as a teachable moment before they attend another conference and their entitled behavior causes irrevocable harm with another client.

          Personally I would have put them out but I don’t care if people don’t like me. Apologizing to the former coworkers should not be expected at all. Its easy to downplay effects of crashing when you’re not in charge of logistics.

            1. Carrie*

              OP1 here. I left out some of the detail, the original three had come in a side entrance and when I saw them, I brought them back through the front to be counted for the venue. I should have just kicked them out, but it felt so rude (at the time, after reading all these comments I feel differently!) and then I had this weird little moral debate with myself about whether we had to pay the venue for their attendance or not. I agree, that’s not clear cut crashing, since I literally let them in, but it sure felt like crashing for them to sneak in through a side entrance!

            2. serenity*

              As Carrie explained, they did in fact crash. And, unfortunately, she let them stay.

              You’re also now writing multiple comments nitpicking OP’s language and her actions and perhaps you can move on.

        2. Nita*

          They were told they could NOT go. Apparently, well in advance, if they had time to spend the day of the conference bullying OP’s employee to get an invite (which the employee did not give out). And once they showed up at the door anyway, OP probably felt that if she turns them away they’ll make a scene, and it’s a lose-lose situation. As OP points out in her responses, once they did get in, the problem was a bit more than not talking to others – it sounds like they were pretty loud and took over a choice spot in the room, and they stuck out enough that the client noticed them in a group of 70, was not happy, and now is not pleased with the OP. Aaand it was her first chance to make a good impression – I hope she can bounce back from this one, but she doesn’t exactly have a past record of running these events to fall back on.

          1. Thor*

            I agree the situation was not ideal! My takeaway is that OP made a very understandable mistake, but it’s still their mistake. If someone shows up to a party and you let them in, you can’t be upset their in attendance.

            Removing that aspect of it, I see rude behavior but nothing that rises to the level of telling their boss.

        3. Someone Else*

          It sounds like the situation was more like they asked all day if they could go, were told they were not invited, showed up anyway, were told they were not invited again, did some version of come-on-pretty-please-we’realreadyhere. And then were told “ok fine” in an attempt to not make a scene at the door. Calling that “asking if they could go and being told they could” is misrepresenting what actually happened.

  36. The Ginger Ginger*

    OP2 – If you’re worrying that using the different voice in an interview is somehow dishonest or something, another option is to provide a couple brief recorded samples of your theater voice reading business like materials – like one of the instructional phone directory messages or something like that (“Thank you for calling business XYZ, if you know your party’s extension you can dial it now. For billing, please dial….”) . You can host the sample online or send them in an email ahead of time, and talk about them in your interview. “I wanted to provide samples of how I sound when recorded, since that’s a large part of the role….” etc, etc. Then talk about how your theatre training makes you uniquely suited for that kind of thing. You can even talk about how you work with tone/intonation/pace etc when recording to show how you understand that recorded speaking differs from day to day speaking. You don’t have to deprecate your normal speaking voice to do it, but it will put your recorded voice in their hands AND give you a chance to expound on your qualifications for that part of the role. Win/Win.

  37. LSP*

    OP #4 – I am someone with a very unusual name, and people get it wrong ALL. THE. TIME. Even people I have known professionally for years. I am currently working with another firm on a shared contract, and my name is spelled at least three different ways on their materials. My name is unique, but pretty easy to spell.

    I decided a long time ago that mispronunciations of my name really don’t matter, except with people I see all the time, who would actually be embarrassed to have gotten my name wrong. There is a shortening of my name I don’t particularly like, but even that I think of as no big deal. Maybe having had a name I constantly need to spell and explain the origin of has given me a thick skin about it, but I think as long as the people with whom you interact with on a regular basis get your name right, that all that matters.

    Alison is right, in that you can correct people once or twice, and if they still insist on shortening your name to something you don’t like, just decide that person isn’t someone who wants to bother with treating people respectfully, shake your head at their poor behavior, and move it into the category of “not my problem.”

    1. kittymommy*

      Same here. I have a very unusual first name and most people get it wrong (I actually use a different name when I go out as it’s just easier). I decided a long time ago that there wasn’t enough time in the day to have the correction and follow up conversation about my name each and every time, so unless it’s repetitive with people, I just go with it if it’s anywhere in the neighborhood of my actual name.

    2. Dopplenamer*

      OP 4 Here –

      My actual name is pretty uncommon so in all honesty mispronunciations and misspellings barely bother me. It’s just the shortened form that I dislike with the fire of a thousand suns.

      Overall, I’m definitely seeing that I shouldn’t let it bother me as much as it does.

      Thank You.

  38. Justin*

    I have a high pitched voice (and I’m a guy), and honestly? I’ve sort of… leaned in to my Urkel/Carlton/black nerd voice and demeanor. That said, your theater voice would not work in theater if it seemed fake, so if it works in theater, it is a part of you, and can be used accordingly. My presenter/teacher (I do a similar job to what you’ve described) voice is a part of me, and the most important thing is that it seem to be connected to you.

    Just don’t pull an Elizabeth Holmes and pretend to be a robot.

    1. Liet-Kinda*

      I’m reasonably certain Elizabeth Holmes WAS a robot. One that was not taught the Three Laws.

  39. brighidg*

    >>Is it possible they didn’t realize the event was truly invitation-only?

    They pretty obviously did hence bullying her employee for an invite.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Plus the event was supposed to be a cool event with a lot of buzz, which was why it was invitation only in the first place. All the more reason OP1 needed to have her door script ready.

  40. Gandalf the Nude*

    #3 – Is it at all possible your office is doing a Nightmare Before Christmas themed card? See what happens if you break into “Making Christmas” while lining up for the photo.

  41. Ermintrude*

    My 3 actual names are pretty common but they all have at least 2 spellings so I have to explain all 3.
    I also get my first name shortened when there’s not really a short version and I correct people on that.
    I get called Ermintrude, ‘Ermie’ and ‘Erm’ so often that I answer. It’s both weird and endearing since I just picked it randomly for Facebook.

  42. Ophelia*

    I have an uncommon name that gets mispronounced A LOT, so I’ve just gotten really used to helping people to a shortened version of it. (For instance, if I was named Bobalina, saying, nicely, “Oh, you can call me Bob.”) All this to say, I think it’s totally acceptable to correct people, kindly, in the moment, but it’s worth choosing your battles. I’m not going to throw down when Starbucks accidentally writes my name like “Bobby” or something, but I’d expect my actual co-workers to learn my name and correct themselves if they get it wrong.
    Hilariously (and slightly tangentially), I’m in class with another woman whose name is also uncommon, and quite similar to mine, and we both shorten it the same way. When we met each other, we DEFINITELY had a conversation along the lines of,
    “Hi, Bob, nice to meet you.”
    “Bob? Bob.”
    It took us a few minutes to get that sorted out.

  43. MsChanandlerBong*

    Re: #5. This was an issue for my husband when we moved and he tried to find a job in our new state. He hasn’t had that many jobs, as he has stayed with each job for several years at a time, and he didn’t get his first job until after he graduated from college. He worked for his father’s manufacturing company for five years, but it’s such a small company that the only person anyone would be able to contact for a reference is his father–and no one is going to believe that a father is going to provide an unbiased reference for his son (even though my FIL is a tough boss and treated my husband just as harshly as he treated the rest of his employees–no special treatment just because they were related). He worked at another company after that, but the company closed his location and eventually sold to a company in the UK. That company would not give references for anybody employed by the previous company. Then he worked for a company that went out of business, and his former supervisor died, so he couldn’t even give his supervisor’s personal number for someone to call. It was a complete nightmare, and he ended up losing out on a great job opportunity because his most recent employer has a policy of not giving references. They will verify dates of employment via the Work Number, but that was not acceptable to his potential new employer (a state university with stringent reference-checking requirements).

    1. Anon From Here*

      My jobs have almost all been with businesses that no longer exist (some for a couple of decades now), or family businesses, or stints of self-employed freelancing. Between that and a career change when I was 35, I feel your husband’s pain.

      An employer who won’t accept a non-traditional track of previous employment, though, risks losing out on otherwise highly qualified candidates. Also there can end up being some de facto age discrimination: the longer you’ve been in the working world, the more likely you are to have had a larger number of discrete employers, some of whom may no longer be reachable for employment verification.

    2. emmelemm*

      I’m kind of in the same boat. I’ve worked at my current employer for many years now, but if/when I look for a new job, most of my previous employers no longer exist (small companies that eventually went out of business). Not looking forward to it!

  44. Mrs. Psmith*

    For No. 5, if this was a bureau or a neighborhood publication of a larger news organization still in business, I don’t think you’ll run into people who think you made it up. It’s fairly easy to verify that a publication was absorbed into a larger publication, especially if you have awards from when you were employed by them. You might even try getting in touch with the current publication and see if they are able to verify the existence of the previous publications. But like Alison said, I doubt a current employer is going to want to go that far back in a job history.

  45. Zap Rowsdower*

    So, related to #5, how do you list a company with multiple name changes on a resume? If it was a single name change, it’s pretty obvious to to something like “Oranges Corp. (formerly Apples Inc.)”

    But what if the company went from Apples, to Oranges, to Kiwis, to Pears, to Grapes, and you worked there during the Oranges era? Do you just do Grapes Consolidated (formerly Oranges Corp) ?

    How many name changes do you keep track of? I have some experience from 2001 where the company has changed names at least once since I left but I haven’t kept tabs on the current name.

    1. Autumnheart*

      What if you said, “Oranges, Inc. (now Grapes Consolidated)” with the relevant employment dates?

    2. Someone Else*

      You only keep track of what it was when you worked there and what it is now. It may have been three other things in between (or before you got there) but none of those matter. So if you worked there during Oranges and now it’s Grapes, your resume could say either “Grapes (formerly Oranges)” or “Oranges (now Grapes)”.

  46. McWhadden*

    My name is Elizabeth. And that is just one of those names that almost always gets shortened immediately by people. “Hi, my name is Elizabeth.” “Nice to meet you Liz/Beth.” And I do go by a slightly less common nickname and there are those few who refuse to call me anything but Elizabeth.

    I always go out of my way to get people’s names right. But you do sort of have to pick your battles. It really is not worth correcting everyone who makes this mistake. And some people will call you whatever you want regardless. Is that rude? Of course! But some people are rude. And nothing will change it.

  47. Labradoodle Daddy*

    I go by Hallie (like Halle Berry, not Hayley Mills) but my first name is Elizabeth, so I get people confidently calling me Lizzie or Beth or Betsy. I kind of love correcting people when they get a bit ahead of themselves.

  48. 90% Stubbornness By Weight*

    I have a not-unusual old testament name that was popular enough when I was born that in kindergarten there were 3 other kids with my name, one of whom had the same last initial. The teacher told me that I would be shortened-version-I-irrationally-detest “to make things less confusing.”

    So of course I ignored them whenever they used that name. It wasn’t _my_ name, I didn’t agree to the change, clearly they are talking to someone else. This escalated to a parent conference, where when confronted with the tale of this ongoing willful disobedience my mother told her “It isn’t his name, why would anyone expect him to answer to it?”

    1. miss_chevious*

      Ha! My mother also has a run in with my kindergarten teacher, where she emphasized very strongly that my name was to be be used in its entirety (it’s TWO syllables), and any indication that it was being shortened would result in parental wrath.

    2. Nita*

      Good for you! My kid’s afterschool counselor has somehow settled on the most irritating nickname possible for his name. He’s never gone by this nickname, is not happy about it, but hasn’t felt confident enough to push back against an adult. I’m just as annoyed as he is, but don’t know if it’s my place to argue with the counselor until the kid says something himself. Thankfully the nickname has not made its way into class, and we’ll be saying goodbye to this afterschool anyway in a couple of months so it’s a problem with an expiration date.

    3. Rachael*

      Yes! My daughter’s daycare had a child coming in that they had known for years (the baby’s big sister was already there) and her name rhymed with my daughter. The daycare worker told me “what name should we call your daughter so we don’t get them confused”. As politely as I could I told her to call my daughter by the name we gave her and not change it. (also, it was the nickname AND the name that rhymed so they were trying to get some other weird variation of her name to use). I was so irritated. Don’t go around changing my daughter’s name because it is easier for YOU.

    4. Elaine*

      My sister did this as well at 6 years old. She corrected her teacher several times, and then just refused to answer to the shortened name. When called on it, she defiantly announced she didn’t know the teacher was talking to her because that isn’t her name. It also escalated to a parent/teacher conference and my mother backed up my sister.

  49. Nessun*

    I have one of those names which is deceptively simple – 6 letters!! – which so many can’t say if they see it written, and can’t spell if they hear it said. I’ve taken to simply smiling and repeating it correctly when speaking on the phone or in person (though I agree that letting it go if you won’t speak to them again is most useful, this is still my version of letting it go). With email I find I’m much more triggered: my name is in my email address and my signature, if you respond to an email and get my name wrong, I will be judging you very, very strongly!! That said, it has made me super-vigilant about getting people’s names right. When I meet a new hire, I will always ask what they prefer to go by, in addition to asking how to pronounce their name. (I get funny looks from Daniels who don’t care if they’re addressed as Dan or Daniel, Williams who could be Bill, Will, Billy, etc., but I’ll always err on the side of caution.)

  50. Lucille2*

    #2 – I present to clients and speak at conferences regularly. Have also hosted the occasional webinar. I definitely have a “presenter voice” that I tap into for those things. I didn’t realize that my husband had never seen Presenter Lucille in action until I gave a host at my sister’s wedding. Even a year later, my husband tells me he was surprised to see that side of me. I wouldn’t say I use a dramatically different voice, but it’s definitely a more polished, confident me than the everyday Mom version at home.

  51. Lucille2*

    #1 – I agree with Alison. Chalk this up as a lesson learned. The important thing is to preserve the relationship with your client. It’s important to keep a positive relationship with former coworkers, so do what you need to do to smooth it over. But the client is pretty important to your consulting gig now, so be sure to gauge how they’re feeling about the event. You can frame it as an invitation for feedback about the networking event, for example, you’re looking for ways to improve the event for the next conference and would like any suggestions about what went well, what went not so well. If you’re likely to do something similar in the future, take steps to keep it limited to invite only. And stand your ground. If friends want to come, it’s ok to let them know why you need to keep the guest list small like you need to focus on a specific client, budget or space limitations, etc. Reasonable people will get that and shouldn’t be rubbed wrong by being excluded.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Also, in a case like this where both relationships are important but you have to choose one, you need to choose your client.

  52. buffty*

    #2 has me currently speaking to my dogs at home in my formal/presentation voice, and they DO NOT LIKE IT. I’m in the rural American South, so my regular (friends, family) and work voices (local coworkers) are pretty significantly different from my phone and presentation voices (callers/audiences across North America).

    1. Lucille2*

      I used to work with an Australian living in the US. I didn’t realize how much she Americanized her accent until one evening I went to dinner with her and another Australian coworker and their spouses and they fell into their casual, native dialogue.

  53. Bathorie*

    OP4 – It’s been my expierence that “shortened” or completely incorrect names are one of those things you just kind of have to accept when you talk to people over the phone. My colleagues and I spend all day on the phone with clients, and it doesn’t matter how clear we are, or how simple our names are- people STILL get them wrong or call us by nicknames we don’t use. It seems to happen less during in-person conversation, though. I think people just don’t remember names as well on the phone as they do in person.

  54. Database Developer Dude*

    The difference between your “work/school” voice and your “play/home” voice can sometimes (not always) be attributed to code-switching based on ethnic and racial background. I’m black, but if I’m at my civilian job or at battle assembly, I will get asked about “talking white”. Not often, and not by anyone with a significant rank (they know better)…but sometimes.
    Names? People will mispronounce and misspell names regardless of how easy they are. My last name is Walker, and during military training when I was active duty, I got my ass chewed for not responding when a wannabe drill sergeant hollered “Wilson”. (For those in the know, this was Army AIT, and they hadn’t yet brought back drill sergeants…but this guy was trying to become one).

  55. FuzzFrogs*

    I go by a name that sounds similar to a more common name, and unfortunately, #4, there’s not much you can do with people you’ll only talk to once in terms of getting your name right. I really get your frustration–I don’t like being called by a name that’s not mine. It feels like the caller is being inattentive and disrespectful. But the reality is that not everyone has the same phone quality, ear quality, ability to process sounds, etc. I will (and have!) given the cut direct to a coworker who couldn’t get my name right, but with a coworker you have a relationship, even if it’s fairly formal. You just don’t have a relationship with a caller in the same way, and addressing each one won’t fix your issue.

    I cope mostly by keeping a list of the worst interpretations of my name. (Unfortunately, the worst of the worst are ALL coworkers–which again, gotta give ’em the business, because WHY.)

    1. Dopplenamer aka OP4*

      You might be right about the phone quality issues as well, my actual name puts more emphasis on the first half so it would make sense that it’s possible they only hear the “Chris” in Christina. There’s a lot of factors I didn’t think about because just the shortened name is so disliked. But I just have to change my mindset and remember it’s probably an honest mistake.

  56. Rachael*

    OP4 I know how you feel. In fact, only a few weeks ago I had this conversation with a client:
    Me: Good afternoon. Thank you for calling (company).
    Client: Can I please speak to Raquel?
    M: Oh it’s pronounced Rachael.
    C: Well it looks like Raquel.
    M: Well it is pronounced Rachael.
    C: Are you sure it’s not Raquel?
    M: I’m positive. It’s Rachael.
    C: Whatever.

    I really wanted to hang up the phone after that “whatever.” Why do people insist telling you how to pronounce your own name?

    1. Rockie*

      Me as caller: basically totally confused, am I actually speaking to Raquel/Rachael, she didn’t say…or is there two employees with similar names 9?), wow I sincerely hope I’m being directed to the right one. (Full disclosure: I have a name that, while rarely mispronounced, is almost always misspelled (think girl’s version of a boy’s name). I get a tactical advantage in that callers frequently expect a male and surprise it’s me.)

  57. Dopplenamer aka OP4*

    I seen a lot of comments and I am grateful for the advice from Alison and from you all as well. I’m seeing it’s just something to get used to in my interactions. Although I’ve been a receptionist for a long while this is somehow the first time where being called “Chris” has become a regular thing.
    I also just want to clarify
    – The calls are mostly one off calls so 9/10 I won’t interact with these people ever again.
    – I just really really dislike being called “Chris” my actual name is unique and ethnic name (If you googled my name all results point only to me). And although I don’t mind mispronunciations of my full name, I could never stand my name being shortened it always drove me bonkers even as a child.

  58. Darkitect*

    Regarding the holiday card…
    Many Christians do not celebrate Halloween due to their religious beliefs. Putting Halloween imagery on a holiday/Christmas card will definitely offend someone, possibly lots of people. Frankly, this seems like the type of thing that would go viral in a bad way. (“My Methodist Grandmother Received a Christmas Card with Skeletons… from her Oncologist!!!!!”)

    1. Someone Else*

      This is from the software company to the clients, so it’s more like “My Methodist Oncologist Received a Christmas Card with Skeletons…from her software vendor!!!!!”

      I’m guessing/hoping the Christmas card is really moreso a generic winter holiday card, otherwise I’d imagine the number of people annoyed about the religiousness of the card are likely to be greater than the number of Christians offended by the card involving items their flavor of Christianity doesn’t like.

  59. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP4: Take a cue from Elsa and let it go. Callers may view your correcting them as rude and/or insubordinate. It’s not fair, but women have very little latitude for assertiveness in the workplace in junior positions.

  60. kay*

    OP4 it might be because I have an uncommon name, but nobody on the phone or sales people get it right so I just go with it. Also, it used to be extremely helpful when I was a receptionist! I would tell one person on the phone something, and then later they’d say “kate said…”, and I could say, “Oh i’m not sure what Kate told you…” knowing I’m the only one there and they just got my name wrong.

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