QUESTION: I have an etiquette question, on how to handle a situation regarding my name. I am a grown man, older than 50, and my legal first name is Jimmy, which is what my friends and family call me and what I prefer.
My irritation comes from meeting new people, introducing myself, saying my name as “Jimmy,” and then listening to them call me “Jim.” Sometimes, they introduce me to someone else as “Jim.” This is annoying.
What is a good way to handle this without making it an overly blown issue? When I introduce myself to someone as “Jimmy,” that is what I expect to be called, not Jim.
CALLIE'S ANSWER: Why don't you say, in the nicest way possible, “it is actually Jimmy. Nice to meet you.” After you correct the person, I am sure they will apologize and you should graciously say that 'it happens all the time.' Don't forget to smile!
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: This happens to me frequently. People assume when I say “Lillie-Beth” that I must mean “Lillie,” but I've never gone by that: When someone calls me that, I visualize the “Beth” part of my name in ruins at the bottom of a page after falling off the line. The hyphen is still up high, barely hanging on with the “Lillie-” part.
I know that's extreme, but I visualize people's names spelled out in my head when I meet them, so I understand your frustration. I usually correct them nicely because sometimes I speak too fast and think maybe they didn't hear me. If they keep calling me “Lillie,” I'll step in and gently say “I go by Lillie-Beth” unless it's a telemarketer on the phone that I'd rather not talk to again. You are OK to correct the person at the beginning so there is no confusion as you get to know them better.
HELEN'S ANSWER: If a person gets your name wrong or chooses to shorten it himself, then very nicely correct him. Maybe he was not listening very well when you introduced yourself. Your name is who you are and should be honored and it is up to you to see that it is pronounced correctly. Nicknames can be used, but only if you approve.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Devonne Carter, licensed clinical social worker and etiquette class teacher at Oklahoma Christian University: Dear Jimmy,
Names are important. It is part of who we are and how we identify ourselves to the world. Strangers or new friends do not get to choose what to call you. That is the privilege that your parents had, your family and you have now.
It is polite to correct someone with a kind tone of voice when they call you by the incorrect name. When someone says, “Dear, I just met this man, his name is Jim”. It is certainly appropriate to say, “My name is Jimmy” and even to go as far to say, “I do not go by Jim.” Your tone of voice can convey that it is a common mistake made and when you put on a big smile they realize you are a good-natured person about it, because everyone makes mistakes.
I have an unusual name and it has been challenging for others to remember it, spell it and pronounce it all of my life. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am Devonne and no one else, and there are not many of us. I feel special because of my name. Through the years close friends and family have given me endearing nicknames. They create a bond with others. But when they mispronounce my given name, I correct them as kindly as possible, because I am not Devin or Yvonne, I am Devonne.
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