The Wrong Name Every Time

by admin on June 6, 2013

I have a question for the e-hell community: how do I politely correct my boss who continually spells my name wrong?

I have worked for my business organization under the same CEO for five years now. I work in our main office where the CEO also works.

I have an uncommon first name, but it’s by no means hard to pronounce or remember, as it is only four letters long. When I meet new people at work I wear my name badge to help people remember it.

My CEO continues to spell my name wrong and I don’t know how to politely correct him. He spells my name wrong when he emails me, in business letters, when he is recommending me as a contact person to people outside the organization, and even in the Christmas card he gave me last year.

So far my tactic has been to unobtrusively use my correctly spelt name when writing things to him, or hoping that he notices my name badge, but he’s been completely oblivious. I think he needs more of a pointed approach before he notices anything.

I need help to stiffen my polite spine and correct him so that he actually takes notice, even though I’m super embarrassed that I’ve left it so long!  0529-13

{ 85 comments… read them below or add one }

parrocat June 6, 2013 at 5:21 am

When being introduced to someone new, don’t wear your badge. Tell them your name and automatically spell it for them. I do this all the time, as I also have a weird spelling – fairly common name, but one of those names that can be spelled several different ways. Do this often enough in front of him and he may get the hint.

The next written communication you get from him, point out the “typo” in your name.

Or, just flat out tell him, in a friendly, joking manner. I had to do this with an associate one who called my by my last name but actually used a common word similar to my last name.

Or, don’t sweat it. It could be worse. My grandmother – completely in charge of her mental faculties – misspells my name on every birthday and Christmas card.

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Miriam June 6, 2013 at 5:33 am

Could you have a quiet word on the pretext that if he is recommending you to people, they might be unable to contact you by email if they use the wrong spelling? For example Sarah@companyname will not get to you if your mail is Sara@companyname…

Good luck with that.

[I am genuinely dense when someone is talking to Marie - I know they don't mean me, because my name's Miriam! So it gets corrected with me fairly quickly, but I'm not sure doing it on purpose would be polite...]

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Bud June 6, 2013 at 5:46 am

Maybe you could just say that the auto-correct on his computer keeps changing the spelling of your name.

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--Lia June 6, 2013 at 5:48 am

You conversationally tell a little story about how you got the name. It could be what your parents were thinking, whom you were named after, why your name got the unusual spelling, the cute thing a classmate said about it 20 years ago, what it means in another language, what the immigration officer said when he saw your grandfather’s name on the passport, something about the not-so-famous person who shares the same name– anything true, harmless, and designed to stick in your boss’s head. The right response on his part when he learns is to say “my golly, I’ve been getting it wrong all this time,” but if he says nothing and starts getting it right for now on, just smile to yourself.

If he doesn’t, move to Phase II. This is where you offer to put your name in the computer spell-checker so when he types it wrong, there’s an auto-correct.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking that he means anything by it. I’m normally very good at spelling, but there were words I was spelling wrong for years. When spellcheckers came out, I was surprised to learn that I had them wrong in my head. Your boss simply has your name spelled wrong in his head. It’s going to take him a while to make the correction in the same place.

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Green123 June 6, 2013 at 5:55 am

I used to work with someone who would spell my (very simple) name in myriad different ways on emails. I think I counted 15 incorrect variants over the course of a year or so. My approach was to increase the font size of my name at the end of my emails to her incrementally, so that eventually my name was in bold, 72pt font. Finally, she got it right and kept getting it right, so I gradually reduced the font size back to normal.

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InNM June 6, 2013 at 6:03 am

Possibly a direct approach. I assume you are high up enough in the organization where the CEO is approachable. Set up a short meeting, or see if you can do an impromptu 5 minute meeting (probably unlikely). Don’t have the conversation while walking down the hall, or when he’s distracted by something else. This way, if he has your name spelt correctly in his phone/ email address book, he could correct it immediately.
Be polite but assertive. You are sorry that it went on for so long, but you would like to fix the problem now. You know he is probably not doing it on purpose, but every time he misspells your name, it makes you uncomfortable since not only do you like your name, but are proud of it. Therefore, you would like to ensure he knows the correct spelling is: X-X-X-X. Thank you for his time.
If your boss is a reasonable man, he’ll make attempts to get it right. If he doesn’t even try, you have a respect problem at work.

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Lo June 6, 2013 at 7:03 am

I really really like Bud’s answer.

It’s passive but it’s totally unobtrusive. It’s exactly what I would do.

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Kimberly June 6, 2013 at 7:16 am

I think you should just go in and tell this person that they are continually spelling your name wrong.

No need to make a big deal out of it, just, “Hey, Mike. I don’t know if you are aware or not, but you always misspell my name on all correspondence. This is how my name is spelled. Thank you!”.

Then if he continues to misspell it, (because it might take him a while to catch on because he is so used to doing it the wrong way), just reply back to his correspondence with your name correctly spelled “bolded”.

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Pen^3 June 6, 2013 at 7:22 am

It’s not rude by default to correct someone’s mistake, especially if this will effect clients (such as if they will be contacting you for anything). We all make mistakes. Unless your boss is a special snowflake who can’t stand to be corrected (in which case, you have bigger problems), be frank without making a big deal about it. If anything, it’s rather rude to call someone the wrong name, but this seems to just be a thoughtless mistake that has become a habit. If nothing else, it doesn’t exactly make the company look good when someone refers a client to a coworker and gets the name wrong.

If your boss is pronouncing it correctly, and is just spelling it wrong, then next time you reply to one of the emails, put, “oh, btw, my name is spelled , not –your spell checker must not like it!” Or say it in person: “Hey boss, I want to talk to you about . . Oh, and in the last email you sent you spelled my name as , but it’s actually spelled . The spell checker often minces it, so watch out. Ok, see you!”

Don’t say, “you’ve gotten it wrong for five years”, even though it’s true (and rather rude of the boss). Mention it lightly and without gravity as though it isn’t a big deal. This will spare your boss embarrassment. If the boss continues misspelling, however, you’ll need to be more and more frank, and maybe try other methods. I really like Green123′s approach: you don’t have to say anything (after initially pointing it out to the boss), just keep making the text size bigger until it’s noticed.

Your current methods haven’t worked, so although it might feel uncomfortable, if you do nothing new, nothing will change. 5 years have shown that. Good luck!

I have a similar problem: people often call me a longer version of my name, despite the fact that my entire name is in fact the shorter version (e.g. “Mary” instead of “Marianne”). I just correct them on the spot (if spoken) and at the end of any emails with a short, “oh, it’s just Mary, not Marianne.” Anyone who needs to be corrected more than a few times is then met with, “sorry, you sent this email to the wrong person; this is Mary, not Marianne. You’ll have to resend it.” I’ll refuse to accept it as a mistake any further (after they’ve been corrected five or so times), assume it to be a confusion of identity, and respond accordingly. It never takes more than one or two replies to this effect to get the point across.

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Sakuko June 6, 2013 at 7:36 am

My boss has been doing the same thing since I started working at my current company a year ago.
My name is highly unusual for Germany, as well as spelled slightly different than normally, and he will always use the more conventional spelling. I pointed it out several times in the beginning, but it’s no use and I’m not in the mood to tell him in every email I write him, so I just let it go.

Now he noticed there has always been a misspelling on my first name in the salary statement (think i instead of l). So he made sure it got changed. Into his version of my first name instead the right one…

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Another Sarah June 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

Although I am called Sarah, I work for a lady called Sara. Both of us continually get people mixing our names up or giving us both the same spelling etc. so I’ve had to have more than a few of these conversations.
I honestly think the best way to deal with it is just to wait for the next email and casually respond “Hi Boss, I noticed that the last couple of things you sent me spelled my name “Nayme” when it’s actually “Name”. Sorry I’m sure you already know this, but just to avoid confusion. Thanks”

Only you know your boss’s temperament but most people would be totally fine being informed of something. Would you be upset if someone else told you the same?

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Practical June 6, 2013 at 7:47 am

I don’t see why you can’t just say, “Excuse me sir, that is the incorrect spelling of my name. It is actually spelled like this…” Lather, rinse, repeat until he gets it right.

Sometimes it is just best to be direct.

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Bibianne June 6, 2013 at 8:08 am

I have the same problem… however *I* receive emails for someone else where I work (one letter difference). I always forward the emails as I know people think I am him. I was shocked once when I received his medical information… I quickly forwarded that email, replied to the sender informing them of THEIR mistake… ‘Lo and behold… they replied with a “thank you for letting us know, we’ll change that ASAP” … with the same full information about the collegauge’s physical exam results and all…. sheesh… some people are just dense.

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Cherry June 6, 2013 at 8:26 am

I have a similar problem – my name is a more unconventional spelling of a common name, so I get a lot of problems when people misspell it on databases, emails and so on. And sometimes people get REALLY creative with the spelling.

What I usually do is spell it out when giving my name to be written down, and try and use positive reinforcement – “Oh hey, you got it right on this email/card/letter/etc!” People eventually get it.

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WildIrishRose June 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

I’m with Practical. My husband worked for two years for a couple of attorneys who, in that entire two years, never bothered even to LEARN his name. They would ask other employees to have “what’s his name” call or whatever. The arrogance of this is palpable.

This is an issue of respect. If he hasn’t had enough respect for you to spell your name correctly in FIVE YEARS, then you need to have a direct conversation with him and tell him how much it hurts you that you feel you’ve done a great job for him in all that time, and he still hasn’t bothered to learn how to spell your name correctly. You don’t necessarily have to use these words, but you need to make it crystal clear that you expect him to get it right from now on. Perhaps employ Green123′s suggestion here.

Years ago, I had a co-worker with a last name that was really hard to pronounce (he was Lebanese). I kept saying it wrong until one of my other co-workers corrected me. As it happened, her name was hard to pronounce too, and she pointed out that “when you go through life with a name like Wesselschmidt, you learn how to pronounce other people’s names.” Again, it’s a matter of respect. It makes me crazy when people call me by the wrong name. My name doesn’t have an unusual spelling, but it’s very similar to a completely different name, and when people call me by that name, I gently correct them. I just think it’s important for people to have at least that much respect for each other. Especially in the workplace.

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Wendy June 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

I can see why you would be upset and not saying to forget about it but be careful about when and where you bring this up. While the spelling of your name to you is important to your boss it may seem a very trivial matter especially if it in no way impedes on clients contacting you ie your name is your company email. I would make sure that this is raised privately and if its done as a reply email as others have suggested that no one else is copied into it.

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BMS June 6, 2013 at 8:55 am

I had to laugh when I saw this. I have a coworker whom I am very good friends with who just has a black hole in his head where names fall into, never to return. He can spell my name fine. He cannot pronounce my last name correctly more than twice in a row. It’s become a running joke with us. When he introduces me to someone and butchers my last name, I smile, shake hands with the new person, and just say my name correctly. Or he’ll say my first name (which he gets right always) and I’ll say “Hi, I’m Firstname Lastname, pleased to meet you.” I tease him about it, but I know he doesn’t do it deliberately. He mangles EVERYONE’s name, even people he has worked with for 20 years. He is otherwise a very pleasant coworker, and doesn’t mind being corrected, so we just overlook his little quirks.

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Cat June 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

I am surprised to learn that bosses actually type their own letters these days. It would be easier to mention it to his secretary than to beard the lion in his den, so to speak.
On a new job as a counselor, my principal called me by the wrong last name for six months. When I finally told her the correct name, she was shocked and asked why I had not told her sooner. I said, “I am just glad to have a job; you can call me whatever you want.” The levity kept it from sounding like a correction.
Taking it in as a typo is a good approach. Of the suggestions, I think I would use that one.

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Shannan June 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

What’s the big deal. I always tell people how to spell my name……..notice the spelling?

Funny story: The son of a friend of mine met a new friend named Shannon & the kid told his mom that the kid’s name was misspelled. Friend’s son assumed my spelling was the usual form. LOL!!

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ShellyLynne2611 June 6, 2013 at 9:06 am

I’m with Practical on this one. I don’t agree with all the passive aggressive methods mentioned. If someone is so unobservant that he continually spells your name wrong after all these years despite visual cues such as a name tag, then the subtle approach will be wasted on him. I would just quietly and politely mention it and if it’s not corrected, mention it again once a week or so until it sinks in.

As others said, he most likely doesn’t even realize he’s doing it so you shouldn’t expect him to read your mind and know it bothers you. You don’t need to be overly meek or apologetic when speaking to him, either. It is not a ridiculous request to make. To me, it’s a form of respect.

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Nissa June 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

Ah, name misspelling! I’ve been dealing with both the misspelling and wrong pronunciation of my name my whole life. :-) My name rhymes with Lisa, but most people read it rhyming with Lissa. If they hear me say it, they assume I’m saying Lisa. If they don’t see it spelled, I get some interesting and creative spellings! I’ve had birthday cards addressed to Nieca, Neeca, Neesa, Nessa, etc. I usually just politely correct a person right away, but I’ve had a couple of people slip through the cracks and continue on way past where I felt comfortable correcting them, especially where the spelling was concerned! :-)

The funniest instance was my 6th grade English teacher. She mispronounced my name the ENTIRE first semester with me politely correcting her every time. Second semester I gave up correcting her, but the rest of the class took up correcting her. :-)

Because this is a business relationship, I would say to do what several have suggested, and ask for a 5 minute meeting or find some way to politely correct him. I also agree that there’s no need to mention how long it’s been going on. That might embarrass him. Whenever someone realizes without me telling them and gets embarrassed, I always just chuckle politely and smile and tell the person that it’s no big deal, and assure them that I’m used to it because of my unusual name.

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Chocobo June 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

Do you have yearly reviews or contracts, something that he would write but you would have to sign? If so, wait until the next time that you get one and tell him, “Actually, sir, I can’t sign this yet as my name is spelled Chen and not Chan. It’s a common mistake.” If he notices and seems embarrassed and tell him you haven’t even noticed before, just this time when you needed to sign the contract or whatever it may be.

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Michelle June 6, 2013 at 9:52 am

I’m an assistant for a CEO. If someone in the company politely pointed out his mistake to me, I would let my boss know next time he wanted to write something to that person. CEOs have a lot of things to worry about, I consider it my job as an assistant to keep all the smaller and etiquette related details in mind on his behalf.

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Kim June 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

I would laugh about it as a way of bringing it to his attention. Make it somewhat of a joke. Bring it up as a segue in another conversation topic on names or something.

And then mention that you’re counting how many ways he can spell it wrong, if that’s the case, maybe the wrong way is the exact same wrong way every time.

In all likelihood it’s completely inadvertent.

My friend is named Lorin and her hairstylist kept calling her Lorna despite seeing it written correctly in the appt book. Drove her bonkers and it had gone on for so long it was difficult to approach.

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Kaye June 6, 2013 at 10:38 am

I worked at a newspaper in a large city for ten years. For many years, this was under the dominion of one person—first as the director of my department, then as publisher. In those years, she never once learned how to pronounce my (uncommon but short) last name, even though everyone else in my large department knew the correct pronunciation. I tried correcting her a few times, in a joking/gentle manner, but it never seemed to stick.

I finally got to the point at which I just smiled benignly and did whatever it was that she was calling upon me to do (whether privately or in a department/company meeting), because I realized that the more often I heard her mispronouncing my name, the more I was being venerated and brought to the attention of others who might have a positive impact on my future. While I left that industry and now work in an altogether different one (higher education), I’ve carried this lesson with me ever since: Someone else’s willing misspelling/mispronunciation of my name is a reflection on them, not on me.

So, OP, every time you see your boss misspelling your name, take it as a compliment. It means your boss knows who you are, thinks you do good work, and is talking you up to others.

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The Elf June 6, 2013 at 10:42 am

Hey, BMS, do you work with me? I’m terrible about remembering names, even people I’ve worked with for years. Oddly, if I remember the name I remember how to spell and pronounce it correctly. It’s an all-or-nothing thing. I have some tricks that help, but the essential problem still exists. The difference is that I’m apologetic and pro-active about it. “I’m sorry, but your name has slipped my mind. I’m terrible about remembering names. You are…..?”

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MsDani313 June 6, 2013 at 11:09 am

My last name is a noun (lets say Apple) that people constantly misspell or mispronounce because they think that my last name couldn’t possible be Apple. They remove letters, add letters turning it into Aple, Apples, Appel…you get the point.

When I was in the fourth grade a substitute gave me detention because I corrected him when he pronounced my last name wrong. I showed him my desk tag (with the correct spelling) and he told me it was spelled wrong and I was pronouncing it wrong. I went home and told my mom and she came to my school the next day and let him know the business.

My dad has this issue with his first name too. Although he has the “male” spelling of a “traditional” girls name he has been mistaken for a woman. People call the house and ask for Mrs. Apples, the phone company sent him a pink phone because they thought he was a woman and he is often asked for ID when using his credit cards because people think he is using a woman’s cards.

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sv June 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I’d probably be direct. “Boss, I have to tell you something – you keep spelling my name wrong. ” Said with a good humored smile. However, if you prefer the passive approach because you have left it so long ( which I cold totally see myself falling into!!) then I would go with Bud’s answer :)

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Brenda June 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

First, to OP, there have been some great suggestions here, so there’s nothing I can add. However, your boss misspelling your name regularly makes him look bad, especially with clients. At least some of them have to wonder if he’s really on top of things, or if he’s rude, or if he just doesn’t care, when he can’t get the spelling of the name of one of his long-term employees correct.

Second, I get called Linda, Deborah, and Barbara regularly by people who don’t listen closely when I say my name. I understand that it happens sometimes, but a lot of people just don’t listen during introductions. They’re fixed on what they’re going to say next, and they aren’t listening to what you, or the person introducing you is saying. This is bad manners. You have to make an effort to listen to the other person.

Third, my last name is short, simply spelled, and a common verb and noun. Yet, people regularly misspell and mispronouce it. It goes back to people just not listening or paying attention. People who regularly mispronounce or misspell my name go on my bad list, because it makes it clear that this is someone who doesn’t pay attention and/or doesn’t care.

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MichelleP June 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Oh, this is tough. I was raised that it’s rude to correct people, especially older people, over relatively small things.

I go by my middle name, and usually don’t bother to tell people what I am called in a formal setting, when I won’t see them again, e.g. doctor’s office, etc. People I see every day, and those I get to know, I do.

I have had situations, where even after telling them repeatedly, people still call me by my first name. It’s frustrating. I got to the point where I simply wouldn’t answer. It wasn’t deliberate, when I hear my first name it goes in one ear and out the other. But then I feel rude!

It’s just common courtesy to learn someone’s name and how to spell and use it correctly.

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jeab June 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I think you are overly worried about offending your boss. I understand not mentioning it the first couple of times with the thought that maybe he’d notice on his own. Obviously, he didn’t. That’s most likely because he was innocently oblivious (many people can be – it is not deliberate). In five years of no direct correction, of course he is still spelling your name wrong! I guarantee he’s never noticed. So now you’re overthinking that your passive waiting-game has managed to turn a really mundane mistake into a possibly awkward moment. So handle it with a sense of good humour and a bit of directness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying to him, “I notice you spell my name ‘Jane’, but I actually spell it ‘Jayne’. It’s been a while, but I just thought I’d let you know. Thanks!”

I really do trust that most rational people would just laugh this mistake off as just that: a mistake (and not some sadistic and totally weird way of deliberately insulting you for five years).

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AnnaMontana June 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Same problem! But I also have incorrect pronunciation of my first name too. My surname is pretty common and the first part of my name is a pallindrome, so I shortened it. However, that still doesn’t stop my boss(es) from misspelling my name. They always spell it the way they say it too. (Eg: Nathalia, Natalehua, Nuttellia etc) It drives me bonkers. However a couple of times I have mentioned it to my boss(es), by jokingly saying “I hope you aren’t sending my payslips to someone else. This is how you actually spell it.” Then I write it down for them. I also spent a while correcting the mistake on our TimeTable at work (I am a teacher) and on my hour contracts/working ethics paperwork and any other correspondances. A few people picked it up, but not many….I’ve given up now and actually I find it much easier just letting it go.

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June First June 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

If you let it fester, it will get to be a bigger and bigger problem. It’s (probably) not malicious. Some people just aren’t good with names. I’m pretty good with names, and I sometimes have a really hard time learning young students’ names. Poor Kamyra had to put up with that from me for a while because for whatever reason I couldn’t remember her name!

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Kirst June 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm

My first name is very rare in England, where I grew up, but not very unusual in Scotland where I am now. There are a few variations of it, and lots of different spellings of each variation. My surname is short and simple but an unusual spelling. When I have to give my name, I spell my surname out and watch people write down the more common spelling. I correct them by saying “no, it’s …” and giving the correct spelling, and I watch them add a vowel to the end of the incorrectly spelled word. So I say “no” and spell it out again and then usually they get it. The sheer tedium of having to spell my surname multiple times is the only reason I would consider changing it if I get married.

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Wowsers June 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I correct someone’s misspelling of my name – once….maybe twice. After that, if it still is continued to be spelled wrong, I *assume* the person doesn’t care how to spell my name/ doesn’t want to take the time to learn/ could care less about how any person’s name is spelled/ is to busy to bother (pick one) and so I think, “if he/she doesn’t care, then I don’t care how they spell it or if they EVER learn to pronounce or spell it” and forget it, it really isn’t worth being bothered or offended over.

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pinkiu June 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I have a common name that has three different usual spellings. Think Jeri, Jerry, & Geri. No one ever spells my name right. It doesn’t bother me any more. It did when I was young, but you know, I chose how to spell my name (my legal name is formal and I go by this nickname). In the end, it doesn’t matter. They know who I am and pronounce my first name correctly. On a side note, my last name has a common spelling but a Scottish pronunciation. That certainly gets messed up every.single.time I meet someone new. I alway have to correct people. They get embarrassed and I put them at ease saying, that’s ok, it just tells me you don’t know me yet. They smile and we go on.

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Roslyn June 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I had an old boss who called me my name to my face just fine. However when I became the cake decorator for all special orders and weddings she told others that my name was “Marie” who was the cake decorator who left two years before. To my face, my name, to others, her name.

I can’t say how many times I went to sit down with clients and they would say “Hello Marie” and I would have to correct them. One woman was quite put out and said that she had been told that she would speak with Marie about her wedding cake and I had to break it to her that “Marie” had left 2 years ago and I had been doing the cakes since then. I don’t think she believed me because she acted so strangely. Several times the intercom would say “customer on line 1 for a cake consult with Marie” from my boss. She meant me, and if we were face to face she said my name, but any other time I was “Marie” who left 2 years back.

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Tara June 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm

If you use outlook, it probably auto defaults your email & associated contact name to what’s in his contacts (likely where the misspelling is). So when he addresses his emails it auto populates. (think: Doe, Jane ). So if he’s misspelled your name in the contact and associated that misspelled name with your email, that’s how it shows up. I’ve also noticed there seems to be a link between microsoft products so if it’s wrong in his contacts it will auto correct (to the incorrect spelling) across microsoft word and the text editor in email as well. This might explain why the misspelling exists everywhere.

What to do about it? If he has an admin – I would mention to her that you think your name is misspelled in his contacts since all the correspondence is misspelled and ask her if she can correct it. That might be a start.

If he doesn’t have an admin, I think you should be quiet. I’m all for a polite spine, but the noisy bird doesn’t get the worm in any business environment I’ve ever been in. He’s your CEO. You’ve tried and he’s not taking the hint. Let it go. If he someday realizes that he’s been doing this, he will feel badly and perhaps apologize. If he never realizes it then you’re no worse for the wear. If you tell him, he takes it the wrong way or is embarrassed and immature enough to somehow blame you for him feeling embarrassed, then you’re stuck with that.

People accidentally call me by my last name (it looks and sounds like a first name) all the time. I do what you do when I reply to emails and hope they notice. If they don’t, oh well.

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Tara June 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Also – Michelle’s response is spot on.

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KitKat June 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Where I live I often have people misspelling my (very common) first name; it’s Katherine btw. They’ll end my name with ‘ryn’ instead of ‘erine’. I tend to correct them right away. I’ve had enough people (coworkers and otherwise) spell it ‘Kathryn’ that I think it’s just a regional spelling that everyone here grew up with. However, most of my coworkers know me as Kat so it’s no big deal when they misspell my name and yes I do wear a name badge with my full name on it.

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Barney Girl June 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@Kirst I also have a name which is unusual in England and common in Scotland. I don’t think it’s the same one though. Mine has many variations round the world, some of which might be thought the spelling of mine for those who mangle the pronunciation one way. I’m amazed how many incorrect ways my colleagues find to say my name. I do try to introduce myself to newcomers, but the oldies soon corrupt them.
Fortunately they have to learn how to spell it to send me emails.

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ff June 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

My name is hard to spell. I’m over it. I always receive e-mails, at an e-mail address which contains my correctly-spelled name right in it, whose salutation is “Dear Totally-Garbled-Name”. (Yes, autocomplete from the company directory is probably helping them get the e-mail address right, but you’d think people would take just a little glance at the “to:” line from time to time.)

If people get it wrong on official documents, work product, etc., I just correct it. Most people, if they see it altered in Track Changes enough times, get the hint and eventually spell it properly.

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Kristen June 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

As you can see, I have a first name that has several spelling variations and is similar to several other names. There’s a manager where I work whom I’ve never worked for directly, but with whom I’ve worked on several committees and whom I’ve sometimes used as a reference. She often spells my name wrong, even in reply to e-mails which have the correct spelling in the header, and of course in the signature. In a situation where I get to see a reference before it’s sent on to the person it’s going to, if my name is spelled wrong, I thank her for the reference but point out the spelling mistake, at which point she’s always fixed it (which doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen again). A misspelled name in a reference could do anything from create confusion when the person receiving it tries to contact you to raise doubt in whether or not the person writing the reference knows enough about you to be trusted, so I wouldn’t hesitate to be polite but direct.

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SherlockSara June 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm

No no no! Don’t be passive aggressive about it — that will make the other person feel awkward about it. THey’ve just made a simple mistake, just be polite, and tactfully remind each time you see it misspelled. If it is a superior who you are not too comfortable around, just say something like ‘to avoid confusion in this large company’ or something like that.

I saw someone else said this, it happens to me all the time — Sarah versus Sara. I always make a joke out of it, but people remember to spell it correctly because of the way that I joke about it (“Oh, I am just SARA — You know me, I am a strong opinionated redhead! I don’t need that extra H, its like a crutch.”)

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Batale June 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I have a colleague who does have a foreign name , and after 2 years of working with her, she took me aside and told me I was spelling her name wrong – which was a major issue since it meant she wasn’t getting emails I was supposed to be forwarding to her (email address included her first name).

It was a genuine mistake – her name is pronounced quite differently from how its spelt (my mistake was adding a Y instead of a J – she’s gotten quite used to people not knowing how to pronounce it on the first try), and as an added unfortunate – her Y’s and J’s look VERY similar when handwritten. But until she told me, I honestly wouldn’t have realised, despite the fact that I saw her name on letters and in my contacts folder every day. I was a little embarrassed that I’d been making such an obvious mistake for so long – but if she hadn’t brought it to my attention I’d still be doing it.

I’d suggest taking him aside and telling him that he’s made a mistake with the spelling. It could genuinely just be blind ignorance – you need to actively bring his attention to the problem in order to fix it.

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cathy June 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm

My mom’s name is Diana and most people call her “Diane”. Now, Diane is a perfectly great name – it’s just not HER name. It irritates me no end. She never seemed to care that much – even her neighbor of 40+ years called her Diane, but really, how hard is it to get it right??

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Princess Buttercup June 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Personally, the next email I got and needed to respond to I would end with “oh by the way, my name was misspelled in the email you sent. It’s actually spelled xxxxx.” And I would word it _just like that_. If said “you misspelled my name” it sounds like you are pointing out a screw-up he did. By saying “my name was misspelled on the last email you sent” it isn’t pointing at him, it’s a general mistake that could be brushed off as spell check or secretary and thereby easily save face and not have upset in the work place.

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Gabriele June 6, 2013 at 6:32 pm

You might check to see if he misspells other names….it can be a form of dyslexia…I worked for a man who I noticed had a problem with spelling (I had a friend who was a special ed teacher and had heard about what she had to do, testing, identifying, explaing to parents, etc) so I became very aware of language-challenged people. We also had a woman receptionist/basic filing who had no clue about alphabetizing things: Everything company that began with ‘The’ was filed under ‘T”. She also switched first letters: Tom Wright from Gen-Can (a frequent visitor to the company, they supplied our cans) was Tom Wright from Tim Can when she took messages. She’d gotten the job through a friend so I tried talking to her friend about the problem. She chose to say she’d never heard of anything and the woman was just dumb (some friend!).
Anyway, after being told I had given the manager the wrong information (over the phone) several times I made it a habit to say: ‘I’ll bring you the complete information’ and walk it down the hall immediately. And he called me ‘Linder” and thought it a funny name–”Like the chocolates! Do you like chocolates?”.
Because he could take offense easily, since it was a small company I got everyone to call me by the shortened form of my name….

But to the OP’s situation: IF it turns out the boss has a similar problem with other people’s names, then OP might want to bring it to HR’s attention. It could be offensive to customers, etc., particularly if the names are of foreign origin.

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Ozy June 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm

This story reminded me of a time where I had a professor who would spell my name with an I where there should have been an E every single time he graded a paper or wrote me an e-mail. Now, my name has four letters and is fairly common, so it shouldn’t be too hard to spell, right? So I gently brought it up with him during a discussion and asked him to spell it with an E instead of an I, only for him to flat out refuse to do so, stating simply, “No.”

What exactly should one say to that? I didn’t know what to say to him. Even now, looking back, I still wouldn’t know what to say. Not only was it incredibly rude of him to outright refuse something as simple as spelling my name right, there might have been a religious/political bias there as well (though I’m not entirely certain of that), as he was Muslim and my name is very, very Jewish (though I myself am Christian, not Jewish). Help?

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Marozia June 6, 2013 at 7:17 pm

As you can tell with my name, it can be difficult to spell and pronounce, so I have to do it every time someone asks for my first name.
I agree with @Gabriele. Is it possible that your boss has some sort of learning difficult? What about other employees’ names? Does he say them correctly?
But then again, some people are just so vulgar and insufferable. You can tell them once or a million times, but they will still get it wrong. Maybe HR can help?

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