What way is the best way to enforce the use of my full name?

I can't write this without actually putting my real names in the title of this post, because it's very specific to my name usage, and as an over-40 woman in a workplace, where my new role will be a management position, it just feels like it needs to start being more formal - for me personally in my career environment.

Maddie is the name I've gone by for the first half of my life, up to about 35 years of age. It didn't matter too much if people used that at work or in social contexts. However, I've gradually been phasing out of that in the workplace to my full name which is Madeleine.

Being that I have progressed in my career to a position where my shortened version is more personal, used by family and friends, but in a professional environment, I feel my full name is just more 'professional' and Maddie is too familiar; when people start shortening it, I feel like a cow for correcting them.

I'm starting to roll my eyes a lot when people use my shortened name, as if it's now starting to grate on my nerves and I don't want to snap at someone for using it because, essentially, this is a personal annoyance - not their fault.

Edit: Note I'm starting a new job, meaning I'll be with new people - nobody I know from any previous interaction. Fresh start, so just working on how to move forward with the name I'd prefer to be addressed by.

  • 5
    So, you want to enforce your full name in your workplace, but don't mind people use your shortened nickname on more personal situations?
    – DarkCygnus
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:12
  • 2
    Related workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/78144/…
    – Neo
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:12
  • 10
    Note I'm starting a new job, meaning I'll be with new people - nobody I know from any previous interaction. Fresh start, so just working on how to move forward with the name I'd prefer to be addressed by.
    – MPM2020
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:16
  • 44
    Never mind, you answered my comment as I was typing it. That said, since it's a new group of people, why not just introduce yourself by your preferred name, use it in email signatures, etc.? I would expect that people would just use it, if you did so. Is there a reason why that isn't possible, or won't work?
    – dwizum
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:18
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    @dan-klasson, let's just assume professional detachment and allow "Madeleine" to have her personal preferences acknowledged since it doesn't impact anyone in a negative way. It is so odd to me that people are pushing back on someone for how they prefer to be addressed.
    – CramerTV
    Mar 5, 2020 at 17:06

8 Answers 8


You should not feel rude for correcting people on your name. You honestly do not even have to explain yourself. However if you do, simply say "I go by Madeleine not Maddie." I personally wouldn't explain any further.

If you're in a management role surely people will take the correction seriously, and should only take a small phase out period for everyone to get on the same page.

This happens to me ALL the time. My name is Justice, but my entire life I have been called Justin. I am used to correcting people on my name. I understand it can be awkward in a professional environment but most people are understanding when it comes to this.

  • 58
    However if you do, simply say "I go by Madeleine not Maddie." I personally wouldn't explain any further. -- Agreed, otherwise your more open to having to explain yourself which you do not need to do.
    – Neo
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:24
  • 38
    I'd personally go with "In the work environment, I go by Madeleine not Maddie." This preempts any confusion if/when you ever miss a correction outside of the workplace, and it also gives a subtle nudge that this is a professionalism issue, not some personal problem with being called Maddie
    – Mars
    Mar 5, 2020 at 1:47
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    I'd change "I go by Madeleine" for "If you don't mind, I prefer Madeleine". It feels a bit less confrontational, and if people insist on calling you "Maddie" you keep correcting them Mar 5, 2020 at 14:44
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    @eagle275 "Although personally I'd expect regular workers calling you be Mrs X in management positions anyway" Really? This must be location specific. I work in Canada for a US and Canadian company, and everyone refers to everyone else by their first name. All the way up to the CEO. I've had 3 different managers here, and have used first name with all of them. Maybe it's based on the type of job? I'm a software engineer. EDIT: Well, there's a few people we call by their last name just because there's so many people with the same first name. But it's not Mr. X, it's just X
    – Cruncher
    Mar 5, 2020 at 16:34
  • 4
    @justice, i guess in some environments, you can always say "My name is Justice but you can call me the law"
    – osiris
    Mar 5, 2020 at 17:43

What way is the best way to enforce the use of my full name?

"Enforce" is the wrong term. Think "encourage" instead.

As you enter your new job, make sure that you always use Madeleine in all of your paperwork, in your signature, in any door signage, in the phone system, etc. Always introduce yourself as Madeleine.

And gently correct folks who use your nickname. Smile and say "I prefer Madeleine, please." Smiling always helps.

And try hard not to roll your eyes. I have that bad habit too, and have to work hard at avoiding it. I had a boss who once wisely suggested that it wasn't a good thing to do.

  • 4
    I couldn't agree more. If you are perceived as a "Name Nazi", the reaction may be to intentionally use the wrong name because they feel rebuked. +1 for you.
    – MPW
    Mar 5, 2020 at 15:28
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    "Try hard not to roll your eyes"... agreed. "Clear is kind". The OP needs to communicate clearly (not subtly) that she prefers the full version of her name to be used.
    – mkorman
    Mar 5, 2020 at 17:29
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    I fully agree with Joseph. Enourage, not enforce or demand. A friend (recently retired) was known by all his staff as Mr Smith (real name not used!); you had to be a superior or a personal friend to call him by his first name. He never demanded it, but that is how he presented himself at all times.
    – PeteCon
    Mar 5, 2020 at 18:45
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    "And gently correct folks who use your nickname. Smile and say "I prefer Madeleine, please." Smiling always helps." I feel like, honestly, gender may matter more than it should in certain workplaces for this. I'd lean more towards a firm but nonchalantly delivered initial statement (like the current selected answer), maybe then followed by a "please" and a smile: "Oh, I go by Madeline, not Maddie... please". As a woman, I feel like contexting the first half as merely a softened request versus a statement of self can too easily lead to it getting walked over or mis-contextualized
    – taswyn
    Mar 5, 2020 at 19:26
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    @PeteCon Is referring to Joe Strazzere as Joseph meant to be ironic? Mar 6, 2020 at 19:31

Note I'm starting a new job, meaning I'll be with new people - nobody I know from any previous interaction. Fresh start, so just working on how to move forward with the name I'd prefer to be addressed by.

It seems you have a great opportunity here to completely enforce the use of your full name, now that you are starting a new job.

When you meet your new coworkers, immediately introduce yourself with your full name.

Start using your full name in your email signatures, and in other visible places.

And, as the other answer suggests, don't be afraid to politely correct if anybody uses the shortened version.

  • 7
    This. If you use the full name from the beginning, why would you suspect that anyone would call you anything else?
    – Mars
    Mar 5, 2020 at 1:43
  • @Mars Some people think that by using a shortened form or a nickname they are being more familiar and will seem more friendly or make you feel more comfortable - either because they genuinely want to be friendly and make you feel comfortable, or because they hope to get a better negotiating position et cetera. But, really (and you'll see this in TV & Radio interviews), it should be phrased along the lines of "may I call you Maddie?" (either as it's own question, or an aside after using it for the first time) rather than just assumed and used without permission. Mar 5, 2020 at 10:31
  • 1
    This happened to me by accident... I'm generally known by the shortened version of my name, but use the full form of the name for "official purposes", which naturally included all the paperwork associated with the job application. By the time I'd been introduced to all my colleagues using the full form of my name, with email addresses, business cards, etc. also made up that way, it kind-of stuck and I just went with it as "that's my name when I'm at work" rather than trying to get anyone to change to "Steve" which I use in most other contexts.
    – Steve
    Mar 5, 2020 at 11:02
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    This new setting should indeed do the trick. If 'Maddie' does not exist, and you don't let people start with it, it should not take much effort to stick with this. -- The key point is that you don't undermine yourself, if you let others (e.g. other managers, or close team members) call you Maddie, it will get adopted in no time. Also be cautious of how you pick up the phone when others from your social circle or previous work call you at your new job. Mar 5, 2020 at 15:48
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    Some people will still try to call you Maddie, because they can't seem to fathom that not everyone wants their name shortened. It's much easier to correct them in this case, though, if you've never introduced yourself as Maddie.
    – chepner
    Mar 5, 2020 at 20:41

Since you're starting a new job with people who don't already know you by the diminutive form of your name, I think this will not likely be a problem. Your name is not so common that people are used to shortening it out of habit. I expect your new coworkers to call you whatever you introduce yourself as.

In contrast, I have a friend named James, and he always introduces himself that way. His last name happens to be the same as an infamous cult leader who called himself Jim, so it's understandable that he prefers not to be called that name; his father was also named James and went by Jim (it was before the cult became famous), so that's how they distinguished them within the family (I think he was also Jimmy when very young). But many people still can't help themselves from calling him Jim, even if they've known him for years.

If any of your new colleagues do fall into the habit of calling you Maddie, I suggest you ask them politely the first few times. But if it persists, you may just have to suck it up and live with it. Maybe they know other Madeleines, and can't get out of the habit. While it may be annoying, it doesn't seem serious enough to cause workplace turmoil over. Modern workplaces are not as formal as they were decades ago, and people are used to using casual language with each other. I think they do it because they feel comfortable around you, not because they're trying to bug you.

Unless you're in management, you can't really "enforce" anything. You could try talking to their supervisor, but as I said above, I think this would be overkill for a minor, non-business issue like this, unless it somehow impacts your ability to work with them.

Sometimes you have to compromise to get along with people.

  • 2
    The first paragraph is spot on. It would never occur to me to address someone as Maddie after she has introduced herself as Madeleine. Mar 6, 2020 at 2:04

Why would they use your short name if they don't know you. You either tell them your name at first contact. Or they ask you your name at first contact. I don't see any way where somebody would say or write Maddie unless you did it yourself at first contact. So just don't mention Maddie and always say Madeleine and sign emails with Madeleine. problem solved.

  • 4
    Might not be an issue with a name like "Maddie", but people at work whom I don't know [in another department, say] will routinely start addressing me as "Andy" which I have never used and positively dislike. Mar 5, 2020 at 12:46
  • 4
    I have the same problem. I hate being called "Dave". I correct them once and if it happens again they get ignored :) Mar 5, 2020 at 14:41
  • 1
    I always introduce myself as Patrick, but it always seems to become Pat after a while. I don't even notice at first because so many people call me Pat, but I eventually step back and realize that everyone I introduced myself to as Patrick is calling me Pat.
    – Cruncher
    Mar 5, 2020 at 16:38
  • 2
    As a Michael who is not a Mike, I also have this problem. I notice that everyone who's commented here has male names; I wonder if there's a gendered aspect to this, where people will shorten men's names but not women's names? Mar 5, 2020 at 20:42
  • 2
    My wife's name is frequently shortened by people who just assume she surely goes by one of the many diminutives of her real name.
    – chepner
    Mar 5, 2020 at 20:49

To add some specifics to Dan Romik's answer: I switched from Matt to Matthew when I took my current job, for a lot of the same reasons as you. I've found it helps to have rehearsed reactions to encourage use of the full name.

At Introduction

People exchange names when they meet for the first time. Usually people repeat the name they hear just to make sure they have it right. Most times, people will pick up on your use of the full name, and check within a few minutes, “Do you go by Matt?” I just say, “No, I go by Matthew.”

But some people will use this chance to establish familiarity and immediately shorten the name. [I know some answerers say that they would never do this, and I believe them. But some people do do this. Sales people, for instance.]

Nip it in the bud like this:

  • “Hi, I'm Mike.”
  • “Mike, I'm Matthew. Good to meet you.”
  • “Matt, how's it going?”
  • “It's Matthew, if you don't mind. (smile) And I'm fine.”

Make eye contact there to make sure they got it. But otherwise, don't let the moment hang, just move on.

Over email

Sign off your emails the way you prefer to be called. If a person uses the short form to me two emails in a row, they get:

“Regards, Matthew <-- I prefer Matthew to Matt, if you don't mind”

Note again the phrase if you don't mind. Who would mind calling somebody the way they asked? That smooths things over better than “Don't call me Matt!” (which is essentially what you are asking).

After familiarity has already been established

Sometimes you get to know somebody, or work with them, and you've missed the chance to give your name the way you want it. In that case, a little sidebar like this works:

“Hey, I need to tell you something. I go by Matthew instead of Matt. I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, we were just so busy doing X and I didn't get the chance.”

A slightly escalated version of this scenario is when one person in a group hasn't seemed to notice that everybody around you uses the long name, and continues to use the short name. In that case I will say something like, “Hey, do me a favor and call me Matthew, if you don't mind. Everyone calls me Matthew.” It's a bit of an alpha move (if you don't mind take a bit of the edge of do me a favor), but it works.

Add (don't substitute) humor

Dan suggests conveying the whole message in the form of a joke, but I prefer being direct first and pulling back with humor. Although it's for the exact opposite wish, it reminds me of grown men who say, “Mr. Smith is my father; please call me Mike.” That just seems cheesy.

So I might follow up one of the messages above with one of these:

  • When I started here I decided that Matthew was my grown-up name. (yes, cheesy, but I've already been direct)
  • People don't hear Matt as clearly so sometimes it gets mistaken for Mac or Mike (happens to be true but it's not the only reason)
  • My wife likes long names and hates short names. When we met I told her my name was Matthew. Months later she said if I had said my name was Matt she wouldn't have given me the time of day. Since then, I've been Matthew (true up to the “since then” part).

Most of the time, if you just give your name the way you want people to call you, they will call you that. But once in a while you need one of these tools.


Regarding correcting people, in tricky situations like this, humor can be a great tool for sending a potentially awkward message in a way that doesn’t create tension or sour the atmosphere.

Example 1:

Colleague: [refers to you as Maddie, e.g., at the end of a short conversation about something:] Thanks, Maddie.

You: You’re welcome. Oh, by the way, Maddie is my evil twin. I’m Madeleine, the nice one. Try not to get us confused, okay? [wink, smile, etc. to keep the tone lighthearted]

Example 2:

Colleague at your office door: Hey, Maddie, did you follow up with Jeff about the [whatever]?

You: [point to a rubber duck you keep on your desk] You know that’s Maddie, right? Dude, why are you talking to my duck? I’m Madeleine. Anyway, yeah I talked to Jeff earlier and he said that [...whatever...]

Etc. (these are random ideas I came up with, I’m sure better ones can be thought up with a bit more effort).

You’ll both enjoy a small laugh and the colleague will get the hint.

The precise wording of the joke and the tone of voice you use while telling it can of course be adapted to fit your personality (e.g., it’s probably not a good idea to do something that would be completely out of character for you, like throw in a Harry Potter reference when you are not known to be a fan) and that of the other person. It might be good to have at least 2-3 canned replies of this type for use depending on the situation, and possibly even to practice using them ahead of time to make the delivery more natural.

  • 1
    imo This approach is too heavy of a tool for the use case: it can be used for more serious and delicate situations. A simple "I prefer to go by Madeleine" would seem more suited to the frequency and importance of this exchange. Mar 6, 2020 at 23:56

When someone says "Maddie": "Oh, actually, it's Madeleine! I don't go by Maddie [optional addition especially if people might have heard of you before, like in the industry or conferences etc: 'now; I used to but now I'm just Madeleine']".

They will most likely say "oh sorry!" and then self-correct, but if the same person continues to say Maddie you could respond next time with something more forceful like "I actually go by the name of Madeleine! So if you could use Madeleine in future it would be much appreciated!"

People take their cues from other people so in general if people hear someone else talk about you (like "I need to get the X report from Madeleine this morning") they will probably start using it as well. So a parallel strategy could be to make sure that other people are using the Madeline name already and then hopefully it will spread to others.

I have to admit I'm mystified by some of the comments and responses in which people called David, Alexandra or Joshua (for example) were automatically assumed to go by Dave / Alex / Josh. I've always used someone's name as they introduced themselves to me! Sometimes when encountering a new colleague where (at my place we receive a blast email stating that "Alexandra Smith" has joined the company) I don't know if they are Alexandra / Alex / Sandy / Sasha / something else? - next time I encounter them I'll say 'oh hi Alexandra or do you want to be known as Alex or something else?'

  • 1
    Relevant anecdote: At my last job, our IT guy was introduced to me as "Jonathan". While we were talking, basically the first thing I asked him was whether he preferred "Jonathan" or "Jon", and he said he preferred "Jon" but nobody there had ever actually asked him that. So, especially when it's a third party that tells you the person's name, it rarely hurts to ask them what they prefer to be called, as long as you then respect that. :)
    – V2Blast
    Mar 7, 2020 at 21:25

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