How to Handle Being Called the Wrong Name at Work

How to Handle Being Called the Wrong Name at Work | CorporetteBeing called the wrong name at work can be embarrassing, frustrating, and — eventually — infuriating. We haven’t talked about the wrong name problem in quite a while, so let’s have a discussion today. (By the way, we’ve also addressed changing your name (or not) when you get married (and divorced), gender-neutral name problems, and hyphenated names in email addresses.)

First of all, as someone with the name Katina (often misread as “Katrina”) and the nickname Kate (sometimes mistaken for “Katie”), as well as an “ethnic” last name: I can certainly relate (and so can Kat, as she pointed out in the original post). I’m guessing that for most of you who’ve dealt with this problem, being called the wrong name is simply due to coworkers’ innocent mistakes, and not passive-aggressive behavior from, perhaps, a difficult boss — although we’ll address that too. We’ve gathered some advice from Corporette readers, and here are seven tips:

[Read more…]

Hyphenated Names and Email Addresses

2018 Update: We still think this is a great discussion on hyphenated names and email addresses, and links have been updated below.

What IS the convention on hyphenated names and email addresses? Does it matter if you have a long, unwieldy email address? We’ve talked about how to choose a last name (as well as name change after divorce), but never about email addresses and names, and Reader E wonders…hyphenated names and email addresses - image of woman typing

I was wondering if you have any advice on professional email addresses for people with hyphenated last names.

My law firm used to have a convention of using three initials (first, middle, last) for everyone’s email addresses. Last week, the firm announced a new email convention of first initial, full last name. We can have more than one active email address.

The three initials created a problem for me because I never use my middle name, and everyone assumed my email address was first initial, first last initial, second last initial. Now, if I follow the new convention, my email address will be a messy 13 letters long, and there’s the additional question of whether to use a hyphen. I assume a hyphen would look even worse because there will not be any separation between my first initial and first last name.

I want to ask IT for a completely new email address. Is there a convention for people with hyphenated last names? Any tips?

I’m curious to hear from the readers here — what have you and your friends done? (Pictured: Stencil.)  I do have a few thoughts… for the purposes of discussion, let’s say her name is Jane (Marie) Smith-Doe: [Read more…]

Choosing a Last Name

Choosing a Last Name | CorporetteWhat should working women do when they get married — take their husband’s last name, create a new last name, or keep their maiden name? What factors matter? Reader E wonders.

I have a question about maiden names vs. married names. I am currently in law school and am planning an engagement sometime in the recent future to my boyfriend of four years. My question is this — I have a very professional and short last name, in addition to a middle name that I commonly use with my first. Both are one syllable, which is nice since my first name is three. Unfortunately, my boyfriend’s last name is also three syllables, and difficult to spell and pronounce.

Looking forward to my career I would love to use all four, but realize that that is probably too much for a work setting. What is the protocol on creating a work-friendly name. To be clear I do NOT want to use only my maiden name.

This should be an interesting discussion. There was JUST a New York Times op-ed about this, and Vivia Chen at The Careerist has recently(ish) explored the topic in a threepart series. We’ve talked about name change after divorce, as well as Ms. versus Mrs., but we’ve never discussed choosing a last name because, honestly, this is one of those topics where people get somewhat passionate, so I’ve shied away in the past.  (So ladies, please play nicely.) [Read more…]

That’s Ms. Griffin To You: When To Use Last Names

when to use mr. in businessWhen do you call work associates by their last name (such as Ms. Griffin), or by another title (such as Attorney Griffin)? Do you have a preference how work associates refer to you — and how do you communicate that? Does calling someone else “Ms. Griffin” make you look young?  I’ve gotten a number of questions about this lately — one from reader D who notes,

I work in legal services on the East Coast, and I’m a little stumped about how to address people. On the one hand, working with the legal services population makes me eager to address people with titles, using Mr./Ms./Mrs. So-and-So as a mark of respect for folks in my office who otherwise may feel disenfranchised. On the other hand, as a native West Coaster, this level of formality is not inherent in my being and I frequently find myself slipping and referring to people by their first names.

Meanwhile, reader J was fuming because

opposing counsel start[ed] calling me ‘Ms. X’ as opposed to ‘Attorney X’. I have never seen male attorneys addressed as other than ‘Attorney Y’. The devolution to ‘Ms. X’ is clearly intended as an insult by opposing counsel. Any good suggestions for a professional but firm response?

We’ve talked about a lot of name issues — how to correct colleagues if they call you the wrong first name, how to get rid of an old nickname, and more — but When to Use the Last Name is kind of a big one.  I suspect this is going to vary widely by region, so readers, please be sure to say where in general you are.  A few notes:

  • Never, ever use “Mrs.” in a business setting.  Marital status is completely irrelevant.  For my $.02, the only person who can call me Mrs. Griffin is my husband, at least until our son has playmates who are speaking in sentences.
  • Presume, in writing, that you should use the person’s last name, at least on a first correspondence (e.g., “Dear Mr. Smith”).  [Read more…]

This is Griffin, Reporting…

Team jersey, originally uploaded to Flickr by nats.By the time I started working in BigLaw, I’d had about seven jobs before that.  For four of those jobs, my bosses were women; the other jobs (lifeguarding and two fashion magazines) were, well, not exactly testosterone-fueled environments.  Everyone had called me by my first name, and we generally enjoyed a collegial atmosphere.  However, when I started working at the law firm, I began to notice what felt like a very male-friendly environment.  Nothing was sexist, per se, but it still contrasted sharply with the work atmospheres I’d known before, and made me feel out of place.  (Pictured: Team jersey, originally uploaded to Flickr by nats.)

One of those things was being called by my last name. I’d always hated sports growing up (despite having, at various points, been a member of the tennis and swimming teams), and nothing annoyed me more than people saying “Let’s call Vogele” or “Whazzup, Vogele?” (As you may have guessed, my maiden name is Vogele.) What annoyed me even more about the last name thing was that it wasn’t men who were perpetuating it — it was women, who, I assumed, were trying to fit in with the old boys’ club.

At one point, in my first or second year, I was on a team of four female associates, led by another woman or two in charge of us — and yet we still all went by last names. One night, behind closed doors, I ranted to my good friend about it, going on and on about how much I hated it.  Was I supposed to catch a ball sometime soon, or go long?  (Alternately, where was my pipe, whiskey, and manservant?)

And she pointed out that two of the four of us had the same first name. Well…. FINE.

I’ve learned to live with being called by my last name only — but I’m curious what everyone else’s take on it is? Do you get called by your last name in your workplace? Does it seem like a part of the old boys’ club?  Are there other little things that grate on your nerves?

How to Get Rid of Old Nicknames

If you have an old nickname, how do you get coworkers to stop using it? Reader B wonders about just this problem…

I am interested in advice regarding nicknames in the office. I started working in my office straight out of college at around 22. I was a very young looking 22 year old with a positive and eager personality. I became a quick favorite in the office since the next youngest was late 30’s and they gave me a pet nick name as a term of endearment. At the time I was really flattered since VP’s and Sr. level C-suite management referred me to this and I felt on the same level as Madonna since just my initials stood for me, I didn’t even need a first or last name, everyone knew it was me. [Read more…]