My name is abc-xyz klm, but i go by 'xyz' in the workplace. My email is [email protected]. I work in an environment where multiple companies collaborate, and usually we refer to each other by first name, or nickname. The way we usually confer how we'd like to be called is ending an email with the preferred moniker. Benjamin might end their mail with 'Benji', indicating this is what they'd like to be called. I end my emails with 'cheers, xyz'. Not everyone gets it, so some people go 'Hello abc-xyz' or 'Hello abc', probably because they just look at the email address. I don't really mind, though it grates a bit, not enough to go out and correct them though. I would like to not grate on others nerves.

My question: A new collaborator, from an Indian background, has

  1. the email I.hjk.dfg@company2.com,
  2. Outlook shows the name as 'dfg, npq rst'.
  3. They ended their email with 'Thanks and Regards d.npg rst'

The emails from that company, where european names are involved, have the structure [email protected].

I cannot, of course, write the true names here, so this might be a bit tricky - the email address shares just one term with the Outlook moniker ('dfg'), and this term does not appear in the closing formula of their email (only the first letter 'd', yet the email also has a single-letter term : 'i'). As have no grasp on what is first or last names, i simply wrote 'Hello d.npg rst' in my next mail. To my ear, this would sound weird if the 'd.npg rst' was first and last name: 'Hello firstname lastname' - i would rather write 'Dear d.npg rst' if that was the case.

So: on an Indian background, is it usual to have one letter, followed by a dot, no space, a name and then another name as something that would count as a first- or nickname in Europe?

  • 3
    This would be much easier if you used real names. Not like, actual real names, but things that are actually names. Like instead of "abc" you could say "Bob", and then it would be easier to understand.
    – Ertai87
    Jan 31, 2023 at 19:59
  • 1
    @Ertai87 I thought about it, but part of the problem is that i do not know how/if the European concept (not even, Central European, more like) of first-/last names holds in this case, so writing: Email: [email protected], Outlook : 'darcy, norbert rebecca' Mail Ending: 'Thanks and Regards d.norbert rebecca' seemed not more helpful
    – bukwyrm
    Jan 31, 2023 at 21:25
  • Honestly this sounds like someone who was setting up this person's accounts got the paperwork wrong, like when your last name could also be a first name and they think it's your first name.
    – Ertai87
    Jan 31, 2023 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


Stop trying to guess and just ask them.

Hey, just checking what your preferred name is?

Nobody's going to be offended by that.

  • 1
    +1. Regardless of nationality I've encountered many people who prefer to be called something different from anything in their Outlook email address. Easiest just to ask. Jan 31, 2023 at 13:02
  • As an addition - sometimes, the individual in question can raise it with their IT Department so that their Display name is their preferred name to be addressed by, if they are sick of answering the question. For example, I have a full name, but I prefer to go by a common contraction (think like going as Matt instead of Matthew) - so I always get Corporate to set my display name as the contraction, since only My Mum and a Judge calls me by my full name. Jan 31, 2023 at 18:33

I checked the wikipedia entry for "Indian names" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_name and it basically says it's complicated and confusing :-(

So you really have no choice than to ask. Even if you are Indian yourself, I believe. Just ask "How would you like to be addressed? Most of the people here go by their first name, or sometimes by their nicknames". At a company that changed all their email addresses to be based on people's names in their passports, about 25% used completely different names, so there's no way you can know without asking.


WOW. Step back a little bit. I'm not (East) Indian, but I have a large amount of Indian friends. They come from a diverse culture, because modern day India is an amalgam of states (former countries) whereas many have had their own traditions, language and so forth.

My point is that you can't make a sweeping generalization about Indians (or any other culture) from an experience with one person. How the person chooses to communicate their name might not have anything at all to do with their nationality, but be simply a personal decision. If it's a burning question for you, ask the person you're referring to.

We don't all do things the same way, and that's what keeps things interesting in this world. But generalizations don't help. If it's important enough -- and you can do so without offending the person and being condescending -- then just ask. Many (not all!!) people will be impressed that you show an honest, open interest in learning.

  • Thank you for your ... answer? I guess? The content is essentially what Kendall wrote plus "WOW. Step back a little bit." (Good wow? bad wow? step back from what?) - and a general (?) advice to not make sweeping generalizations (good advice, generally).
    – bukwyrm
    Feb 3, 2023 at 23:42
  • Yes, it's a WOW because Indian nationals are 18% of the world's population -- billions of people -- and the whole question was tone deaf to any nuances beyond where they happen to live.
    – Xavier J
    Feb 4, 2023 at 0:11
  • I am very sorry for that. Can you please reformulate the question so it is less discriminatory (was it?) or more appreciative of the nunaces?
    – bukwyrm
    Feb 5, 2023 at 14:04

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