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My name is Christopher. I started a new job about 5 months ago. When I first introduced myself around the office, people asked the initial question of "Do you prefer Christopher or Chris?" and I always say "I prefer Christopher" but for some reason, people still think it's OK to call me Chris, and it usually happens when they feel they are beginning to get comfortable with me.

Chris is not a nickname for me. I dislike it. I allow very few people to call me Chris, mainly my parents and my wife.

What's the best approach to stop this from happening? Yes, I've mentioned it several times before, sometimes to the same person multiple times that my name is not Chris, but Christopher and I am often met with a look like I have offended them.

Addition: there have been many great suggestions so far but I guess I should add a follow-up question. If people do continue to call me Chris after I have repeatedly asked them not to, as in they blatantly do it, what is my recourse there?

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    They are no easy way out for that I think. As like my name is Philippe, thus I always end up Phil, and people take it seriously bad if you tell them to not do it, as they think you don't want to be friendly with them. Out of subject, as a parent I choosed small name for my kids to prevent that, but for me, unfortunately, it's too late, can't change my name, like you – yagmoth555 - GoFoundMe Monica May 1 '17 at 3:11
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    As a fellow Christopher: despite my business card, email signature, ID cards or otherwise identifying paperwork with the name Christopher, I have never, except by one coworker, been called Christopher regularly. Professionally, I will call you by your full name until the time you specify to me your preference e.g. "please, call my Chris." I feel for others, Christopher on a regular basis is very... formal, and at the end of the day it's about comfort and brevity. – CKM May 1 '17 at 3:39
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    When folks call me Mike, I say "Michael, please". That has done the trick each and every time. – Mister Positive May 1 '17 at 13:09
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    I occasionally have a similar problem, my given name is Daniel, but I go by Dan. The ONLY people who call me Daniel are my parents and my sister. Coming from someone other than them, being called Daniel sounds so alien, I simply don't respond. Then when the "Daniel" becomes too emphatic to ignore, I look at them and simply say, "Oh, were you talking to me? No one calls me that." Does it make them uncomfortable? Maybe. It almost never happens twice with the same person. – DLS3141 May 1 '17 at 14:21
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    This is a common problem, although it's usually the other direction (people use the full name because they've seen it written, when a nickname is preferred). When someone calls me Kathleen, I usually say something like "Kathy please. I only get called Kathleen when I'm in trouble." People have a laugh and they remember. – Kathy May 1 '17 at 14:28
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If people do continue to call me Chris after I have repeatedly asked them not to, as in they blatantly do it, what is my recourse there?

Stop answering to "Chris". When someone say's "Chris" pretend you haven't heard them in the same way you wouldn't pay attention if someone nearby said "Jane" - i.e. that's not my name, so they obviously aren't talking to me.

The logic here is that people do what works, if calling you "Chris" no longer yields the desired result people will naturally stop. Typically when one person says another's name it's to get person #2's attention. If you don't respond to "Chris" the first time, the person may try "Christopher" or they (and this is more likely) they will say "Chris" louder a second and possibly third time. When the person is saying "Chris" too loudly (or too many times) to ignore, turn to look at them and act confused, saying something like "What, me? Nobody calls me Chris". Rinse and repeat.

By continuing to respond to "Chris" you're reinforcing the undesirable behavior. Remove the reward and people will change their behavior.

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    I like this approach. It's a little more up my alley. I'll try it and see if it works. – SomeShinyMonica May 1 '17 at 23:02
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    This is likely to be very annoying after the first time, when people realize you're doing it intentionally. – Erik May 2 '17 at 7:39
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    @Erik Yeah, about as annoying as someone calling him by the wrong name after being repeatedly asked not to. – LMGagne May 2 '17 at 13:43
  • @LMGagne exactly - and if both sides are annoyed at each other, how productive will that be? – Erik May 2 '17 at 14:01
  • @Erik It's unlikely people would continue using the wrong name after the first or second time this happened – LMGagne May 2 '17 at 15:46
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I do not think you should correct each and every person who calls you Chris. People will come and go in your career and you cannot be doing this forever. Few things you can do are

  1. In team meetings 'introduce yourself' part, you can just add with subtle humor something like I am Christopher and I go by Christopher [not Chris] or something similar.

  2. Sign your emails as -Christopher always even though you may have more official signature below it. I always look how people sign their names and use nicknames only if I have seen them signing as J or Bob or Joe

People at workplace usually respect each other's preferences and should get hint by your minimal effort. If they do not then you cannot take extra effort to remind them. They will most likely convert it into an internal joke or start calling you Chris just to annoy you.

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    Emphasis on signing "Christopher" and not "Christopher Lastname". With the last name included, most people are likely to just interpret that as the proper full name, which doesn't indicate a preferred name. – David K May 1 '17 at 12:51
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    "I'm Christopher, but you can call me... Christopher" with the right timing would be a pretty memorable way to introduce yourself. Then just politely correct people when they innocently screw up. – Chris G May 1 '17 at 15:34
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Correct them, but never publicly. Always allow the other person an opportunity to save face.

Very few people with polysyllabic names use the full names. Where I work, even the VPs use nicknames. The assumption is that you go by a nickname. So, assume no malice.

Since this has become such a habit, people have a hard time adjusting. When you correct them, don't show irritation, don't do it when there are others present, and don't act like it's a big deal or people will start to think you are a snob. It's not right, but people are funny that way.

It will require some patience on your part to avoid getting stuck with the label "stuffy" or worse, but it's worth it. I can empathize with you as there are variants of my name that I despise, but putting in the effort pays off in the long run.

Also, another reason to be relaxed in your approach is that you will inevitably get someone who will see it as an opportunity to take out a bit of passive aggression and call you Chris because they "forgot". If it is not a sign of obvious irritation, they won't take the opportunity to get a rise out of you.

  • This reminds me of Dale Carnegie. Heap on praise, curtail criticism. Maybe in group setting, praise someone who recently started calling you by your preferred name. Or who corrects himself and uses your full first name after your prodding. – paulj Mar 4 at 15:25
  • @paulj yes, Dale Carnegie was my inspiration for much. I have autism and am a terrible communicator at times, it used to be all the time. Nothing is to be gained in public shaming. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Mar 4 at 15:43
4

Having done this myself, I just corrected them each time someone says it wrong by saying "I prefer to be called [full name]". They get the hint and sometimes apologize, which I say "that's ok, I just prefer to be called [full name], it's not like you could have known that."

Then on the repeat offenders I drop the ", not like you could have known that." part. Eventually everyone will call you by your full name instead of a nickname (unless they don't respect you). New people will likely start with Chris as it's common for a lot of people, but you just do the same thing again.

It will work, and eventually will stick in people's minds that you are "Christopher". Do this individually though and not in groups, this builds individual connection and respect for your name between you and someone instead of making it a public issue.

P.S. This works for "reply" on emails too, just be sure it's not "reply all".

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    So, instead of mutt, you prefer "Mixed breed"? ;) – Richard Says Reinstate Monica May 1 '17 at 13:13
  • I'm sure you can guess it's not my real name :) funny... – mutt May 1 '17 at 23:08
2

This problem is not as difficult as it feels. I like "Jim" over my given name "James" so I know the feeling, except maybe you feel differently because you prefer a more formal sounding or more lengthy version of your name. And generally, people that want to work well with you will want to know and use your preferred name. You will respond better, right?

There are several scenarios where this can be gracefully handled. But let's start with a couple "don'ts" :

  1. When someone calls you "Chris" don't make it a point to correct them. Treat it as if someone simply mispronounced your name. Focus on the professional aspect of the conversation first, then move to your personal preferences for the workplace.

  2. Avoid making any public statements about this issue. It will most likely sound petty or insecure.

  3. Don't try to "fix" anyone that you've told twice. They obviously don't care.

Those things aside, remember that most people in an office don't want friction. They might hear people calling you "Chris" when you're not around. They are probably not going to approach you to ask your name - that's very unacceptable. They need you to help them, and if they say your name wrong, it really may not be their fault. So try to think of this as a way to "bring them into your circle" - you're including them by telling them how to be on your good side. Is it awkward that they didn't know your preference? Not really - they at least made an effort to know your name without asking you. So, they care about you. Now help them build a better relationship with you.

So here is what you can do to make a difference:

  1. At the end of a conversation where someone called you "Chris" - after you've heard and addressed their reason for reaching out to you, make a comment like, "By the way, you called me 'Chris' earlier and some people in the office are doing that. But I wanted to be sure that you knew I prefer 'Christopher'" - maybe followed with, "unless you're my long, lost grandfather/grandmother" or something else sarcastic/witty/etc.

  2. If someone calls you "Chris" in a meeting or other public setting, approach them later and say, "Hey, in that meeting you called me 'Chris' - and I know a lot of people around here are doing that. It's fine, but I really want you to know that I really prefer 'Christopher'. It's OK if some people don't know, but I really wanted you to know that." Or something similar.

  3. For some people, the best idea is to help them feel like you assume that they know your preference, and you are enlisting their help to get the rest of the office on board. To do this you should be the one to bring it up. Approach them with something like, "Hey, I know I'm kind of new but I think a lot of people around here don't know that I liked to be called 'Christopher' and not 'Chris'." Then follow that with something they can connect with like, "Can you help me out and spread the word?" or "I don't want to correct anyone, so do you have any suggestions?" or "Do you think I should get a shirt with 'My name is "Christopher" not "Chris"' on it?"

  4. Ask co-workers to clarify other names in the office / clients / etc. and include your name preference, like - "Do you think 'Joseph' goes by 'Joe' or do you think he's more like me, because I prefer 'Christopher' and not 'Chris'?"

There are more approaches, but the core message here is this: other people might be bad with names or not care, but that doesn't mean your name doesn't matter or that it isn't important to some or all of your office mates. They probably want to know your preference, so the key is to help them learn it without correcting them or telling them they are wrong by calling you "Chris" - they are just better off if they call you "Christopher" right? :)

It is key to remember that calling someone by a name other than what they ask to be called will be off-putting to anyone, not just you, and your preference reasonable. For an unreasonable example - I worked with a guy that everyone called "Captain" even though we all wrote software unrelated to boats or watercraft .. and when I asked him his name he said it (I don't remember it) and then immediately said, "but everyone calls me 'Captain'" .. it was weird to me but I did it. Your request, very reasonable by comparison.

Hope it works out for you!

  • I like these points too!! :) – Brian Topping May 1 '17 at 3:59
1

The best way to approach this may be with humor. People are more apt to remember things that are associated with pleasure. It's also something you can look back on in a year with people you have grown mutually fond of and laugh about together. Here's some ideas:

  • When someone calls you "Chris", just stare at them with a Cheshire Cat grin and say nothing in response. When they start to laugh a little themselves, you can loudly whisper something like "his name is Christopher!".

  • Print stuff for your cube -- signs for the cube walls, coffee cups from cafepress.com, goofy stuff like 8.5" sheets of paper with the etymology of the name Christopher, lottery tickets with no actual value other than people know you are trying as much as they might be trying to remember your actual name.

  • Invite people out to lunch/drinks/etc, offer to buy a drink whenever people use your proper name. Make goofy limitations in small print to limit your costs.

Before going too far with these, I would talk them over with your manager. She may be able to provide some guidance on what is workable in your office environment. More importantly, when she sees how far you are willing to go to help others change their behavior, she may be open to getting involved herself.

The hardest thing about these situations is making sure the stress you are under does not cause you to get upset about it. Others can see this. Some will be nervous around you moving forward, others who are not so nice may continue to do it to spite you. If you can assume good intent with your coworkers and give them plenty of fun, they will be over it in no time.

Good luck!

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Your options are based on one decision: Do you want to be called Christopher or do you just not want to be called Chris?

In the first case, you already have a lot of good options. Also, I think there is nothing wrong in telling people, you do not want to be called Chris, but Christopher as soon as you meet them. After that, only bring it up in private. But people tend to shorten names, based on some situations (I have a very short name, in that case, people tend to affectionately lengthen that name by using diminutives. Which I also prefer to be allowed only to a faily small group of people, namely my grandparents, significant other and one very good friend.) You cannot effectively stop them.

But, if the second is true (you just dislike Chris), feel free to go by any other (short) name you like. Just offer it to people, they should adapt. Do not react to Chris.

Honestly, people do change their names and gender and their coworkers adapt. I don't think it is too much to ask to be called what you want to be called.

  • "Call me Topher"... I can't see it catching on... – AndyT May 2 '17 at 16:21

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