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‘I’m Katherine, not Kathy!’

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in Workplace Communication

It may not matter that the barista calls you Diane rather than Diana. But when the new marketing director flubs your name, you need to take swift action.

Katherine Griffin, who writes for the blog “Corporette,” recalls the time she was newly hired and her office liaison called her “Kathy” right off the bat. “He immediately began promoting me to other partners as ‘Kathy’—which made me cringe."

Knowing when to correct someone, and when to let it go, is the first step. Next, you need to figure out how to do it tactfully. Some suggestions from Griffin:

Tell a story about yourself, and refer to yourself in the third person.  As in, “My friends said, ‘DIANA, you can’t possibly pull that off!’”

Introduce yourself to someone else, in the presence of the person getting your name wrong.

Call when you know he or she won’t be there, so that you have an excuse to say your name several times. “Hi, it’s DIANA Smith. I just thought I’d call to let you know that ... Again, this is DIANA Smith. Please give me a call back at ...”

Sometimes being direct is the only way. Be sure to do it in person, so your tone of voice conveys warmth.

Next time the person calls you by the wrong name, say something like, “Oh, my mother would have a heart attack if she heard that—she fought tooth and nail against every grade-school teacher who tried to call me that, which is why I staunchly insist on  ‘Diana’ today.  Anyway, I came by to drop off this file …”

—Adapted from "The Importance of ... Not Being Called the Wrong Name," Katherine Griffin, "Corporette."

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