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I work in the UK and I have a fairly normal "British" name. Having worked in my company for three years with my name plastered all around my desk, my person and my email, some senior colleagues still don't get my name right. This has led to serious problems when, for example, a group email gets sent around with actions for "Jill Bloggs" when my name is actually "Jane Doe", or worse, for "JB".

Mostly I just shrug it off and ignore it, maybe quietly changing my name to be the correct one where I can, however the most recent occurrance has led to a client being upset that (as far as they could see) a different resource was working for them than had been promised.

How should I gently remind people what my name is? When should I do it; immediately or quietly at a later date? I don't get much face to face contact with the majority of my colleagues so it's difficult to physically pull them aside.

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Was the responsible person aware of the problem it had caused to the client?? what was the reaction on that front –  Brandin Aug 21 at 14:42
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@Brandin When it happened there was a bit of eye-rolling and a general air of "Silly client, can't he see that Jill Bloggs is similar to Jane Doe? It's obvious!!" Obviously the more sensible people involved just apologised to the client and explained there'd been a mix up but no other actions were actually taken. –  Ilythya Aug 21 at 14:57
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Are you the only person this issue happens to or is it a more general problem? –  Martin Smith Aug 23 at 12:27

7 Answers 7

up vote 63 down vote accepted

This carelessness about your name has gone from affecting just you to affecting your firm's business. So it has gone from just rude to entirely unacceptable.

When someone gets your name wrong, you should immediately intervene, using the medium in which the error was made, saying:

With respect, my name is Jane Doe, not Jill Bloggs.

If the error is made over email, you should do it, with a reply-all, like this:

On Tuesday, Joe Mgr wrote:

We are assigning Ian Smith and Jill Bloggs to the TPS account.

Joe: With respect, my name is Jane Doe, not Jill Bloggs. You may recall that the people at Acme Rocket Sleds were annoyed by this confusion over my name. I would appreciate your use of my correct name.

If the error is made in person, speak up right away.

You might even go for the over-the-top humorous approach, and wear a large tag for a few days saying "Hello, my name is Jane Doe."

In any case it's wise, and by no means offensive, for you to be assertive about correcting this. What's at stake? Your good name!

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Just want to add that you need to do it with the correct tone and attitude, you are just clarifying in polite manner. –  BlueTrin Aug 22 at 9:50
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I agree with the answer, but would like to point out one point. I wouldn't answer to all. If I understood your answer correctly there are only a small number of people "mixing-up" the names. By answering to all you publicly humiliate your superior with no obvious upside. By giving him the possibility that this was a mistake you let him keep his face. By quoting the serious incident you remind him however that this behavior is not acceptable for you. –  magu_ Aug 22 at 15:10
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@magu I would say as this problem has been a constant. reply-all is still inappropriate, but after a few one-on-one attempts to correct it fail. It's fair to respond in this manner with whomever their supervisor is. (As far as the project goes... if it's actual assignments then it is fair to reply to all and say "The task is assigned to Jane Doo, there is no Jull Bloggs here" –  RualStorge Aug 22 at 18:19

I think a lot of the other answers sound too aggressive for my tastes, especially if this has been going on for a couple years and just now you stir up a big fuss about it.

I would just casually notify everyone of the issue with the client and ask that everyone call you by your specific name so that there aren't any more issues like that. I'd imagine that most people would find the situation humorous, and that would help them remember.

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I think the problem is that if it had been every week I would have already done something about it. The fact it crops up maybe once every couple of months means that I tend to just shrug it off as somebody having a busy day and getting mixed up. It's then all good for another couple of months at which point it happens again. –  Ilythya Aug 21 at 14:59
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Bringing up the issue in front of the client is NOT a good way to handle it - your company needs to be on the same page prior to bringing in a client - you don't want to person to say "Oh really? THAT'S your name?" in front of a client, so don't give them the opportunity - plan it out as best you can internally first. Surprising a senior person in front of a client is a very aggressive move, and one that will almost always backfire. –  user2813274 Aug 21 at 15:03
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@user2813274 I am not suggesting to bring it up in front of the client, just to remind everyone what happened with the client... –  Kik Aug 21 at 15:04
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Humour's definitely a good way to go: good natured embarrassment is memorable without harming relationships. How about a "Jill Jar" (like a "swear jar") where anybody who says your wrong name has to put in, say, £2, which goes towards a team social fund or charity? –  user568458 Aug 21 at 16:01

I would remind the sender of such an e-mail immediately after I recognize their error. You could for example write back:

"I would like to kindly remind you that my name is Jane Doe, and not Jill Bloggs, as you have written. Please do your best to get my name right from now on. Spelling my name wrong has already led to misunderstandigs with a client once. Please help to avoid this."

If you have the opportunity, talk directly to this person, instead of or in addition to the e-mail.

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@Pepone I think that would very much depend on your relationship with the person involved. I would be uncomfortable coming across as too aggressive or rude with somebody senior than me. –  Ilythya Aug 21 at 14:07
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@jheriko As far as the client was concerned I hadn't noticed (not having been part of any discussions) until I showed up on the day to see their confused and slightly upset faces. Obviously when I got back to the office I raised it, although by that time the damage was done. –  Ilythya Aug 22 at 10:27

I would forward the client's e-mail that requests Jill Bloggs to the person who sent it originally, and ask them who this Jill Bloggs person is. This is a misunderstanding that was created by the senior colleague, and thus should be resolved by them. You have done your part by bringing it up to them - you could even suggest hiring in the next person named "Jill Bloggs" to do the job and keep the customer happy.

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@Ilythya asked about "gently reminding people what her name is". Your answer does not really answer her question, does it? And it's not a very gentle approach. –  prockel Aug 21 at 14:54
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@prockel - an internal e-mail is just about the gentlest way possible - the thing is that this has been an ongoing issue, and anything less is likely to be ignored and ineffective. Physical interactions were mentioned as difficult to pull off, and an e-mail to the client is necessary, but not from the OP. –  user2813274 Aug 21 at 15:00

I am incredibly terrible at remembering names, mostly with new people I am working with on a team. I had a similar situation where I went to a customer and indicated that John Smith would be working on a customers project, when in fact it was George Doe.

Of course this also affected the customer, and as a result George Doe was upset etc. He contacted me via email and indicated that I had forgotten his name and had incorrectly introduced him to a customer, cc-ing my manager. Of course this was not intentional on my part, however i now make a mental note to always make a proper note of the new guys name.

Perhaps its would be best to take a similar approach, if you have a team meeting, bring it up in the meeting and indicate that it is affecting clients. Also ensure that managers are aware that it has become an issue. Once clients are affected it should be regarded as serious.

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I'd suggest taking a humorous tact. Make a "My Name Is" card with your photo (a funny one would likely be best), and the name you'd like to be known by. Print this out on something sturdy that can be placed on a desk, and hand them to everyone with whom you work regularly that gets your name wrong.

Hand this out in person, you can explain it as "Some clients have been really confused due to people messing up my name - here is something to help you remember."

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Most answers here are way too aggressive. You should correct the error but in a calm and easy going manner. Just reply-all with:

Jill Bloggs?

Be sure that your email signature has your full name in it and you are done.

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Playing dumb doesn't help. The manager is incorrect. Playing dumb results in the manager being incorrect and confused, making the situation worse, not better. Correcting somebody's mistake is not an inherently aggressive act. –  David Richerby Aug 22 at 8:49
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Because passive aggressive is better than just straight aggressive? –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Aug 22 at 16:43

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