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This question already has an answer here:

I recently started working with a large company where someone shares the same first and last name as myself. I have been receiving a lot of technical emails that should be addressed to the other individual.

What is the best way to handle this? Should I reply to them and CC the intended individual? Or forward them to the intended individual? Is there anything that can be done short of changing my name in the directory to fix this?

Edit: Despite having the middle initial show up in the directory (differentiating between the two of us), people continue to include the wrong person on emails.

marked as duplicate by Jim G., gnat, CincinnatiProgrammer, jcmeloni, acolyte Apr 11 '13 at 13:39

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  • This used to happen repeatedly to me and a co-worker. We had the same first name and single first letter of the last name - the other 7 or so letters of our last names were pretty different, so a single middle initial doesn't seem like much... – Izkata Apr 9 '13 at 18:35
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I've been dealing with this same issue for the past couple years (fortunately it has gotten better). I share a first, last, and middle name with another employee at the same location. I've taken a couple steps to prevent confusion:

  • I changed appearance of my name in the global email directory. Since our names couldn't be differentiated by middle initial (probably wouldn't help most people anyway), I updated my first name to a nickname. This can help prevent people from sending it to me by mistake, and highlights the fact that there are multiple people with the same name when looking at the address list.
  • Whenever I receive an email in error (that doesn't appear to be spam or junk), I send a polite response to the sender letting them know about the confusing situation, and asking them if they had meant to send it to the other guy (and including his correct email address). While this doesn't prevent a mistaken first email, I've never had repeat erroneous mail from the same sender.
  • For suspicious email (potential spam, etc.) or for actual mail or packages, I contact the other guy with a description of the item, including sender, subject, and possibly contents to see if it is something that he would expect he might receive. If so, I either use step 1 above (with the intended recipient CCed), or hand-deliver the mail/package.

Importantly, make sure the other person is aware of the problem, and that you are both taking steps such as these to prevent and/or resolve issues. Additionally, make sure you let people know when they send something to the wrong person, not just so that particular item can be redirected, but so that they can correct their address list and prevent future mistakes.

Additionally, some email systems allow addresses to have a picture or some sort of status message associated with them (visible internally to an organization). If your organization's system enables this, try to use it as an additional means of differentiation between the two of you.

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I usually reply to the sender with "I think you intended for this to go to someone else."

Do not just forward it to the intended recipient, because then it is unlikely that the sender(s) will learn the difference, at least in a timely fashion.

Changing your name in the directory may be the most expedient way to get it resolved - do you have a nickname that you can use, or add a middle initial? But even then, if the sender has added you to their own address book (some mail clients will automatically remember names that you email frequently), it may be stuck in there until they manually clear or fix it.

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I have faced these kind of incidents many times because there are multiple people who share part or all of my name.

The appropriate action for these kinds of accidental emails are,

  1. My manager found one permanent solution for this problem. He added a unique identifier: my department name. Now my name appears in the directory as FirstName LastName DeptName. This avoids confusion and helps people to identify me uniquely. From then on, these type of accidental emails were reduced drastically. I also suggest that you talk with your manager or concern department to modify your name in the directory which helps others to identify you uniquely.

  2. Reply back to the sender politely, saying something like “I think this email was sent to me by mistake. Please let me know if it is really intended for me.” He will realize and take preventive actions if it was an accident.

  3. Just ping him and get clarification about the mail. Something like “Hey, I am slightly confused by the email that you sent yesterday with the subject XXXXXX. What is that about?” If the email was a mistake, he will realize and take preventive actions in the future.

  4. In my organisation, two other people share my name. Quite often, I receive emails intended for others. At such times, I usually try to identify the right person and send it to them. Often, I search in the directory for other recipients. If many of the recipients (CCed people also) belong to same group or department, I will go to that department and check the members of that department. If anybody in the group has the same name as me, I will forward that mail to him, saying “I believe this email is intended for you. I received it by mistake.”

  • For (2) and (3), if you have a good idea whom it was intended for, you might as well mention that. – Keith Thompson Apr 10 '13 at 18:04

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