Parkland Press

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Respectfully Yours: Ways to avoid unwanted nickname

Wednesday, December 25, 2019 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press in Focus

Dear Jacquelyn,

How can I politely get people to stop using a nickname? My name is Joseph and a very small number of people call me Joe, which I don’t regard as my name. It really bothers me when I am introduced to people as Joe because then others think my name is Joe. What is the politest way to request that someone use my actual name?

Dear Reader,

A lot of people have problems with unwanted nicknames.

The most common occurrence is during introductions when people take it upon themselves to call you by some variation of your name and you are put in the awkward position of correcting someone you just met.

Keep in mind, they may simply be using mental shorthand without realizing. Your name may be viewed as two different versions of the same thing rather than two distinct and separate things.

For in-person introductions, it’s fairly easy to correct the name mishap. Simply extend your hand in greeting and say, “Actually, I prefer Joseph. Thanks.” Politely requesting your preferred name be used is fine.

For the times when someone repeatedly uses a nickname, politely say, “I am sorry I haven’t corrected you sooner, and I don’t mean to cause you embarrassment, but from now on, can you refer to me as Joseph? I just want the continuity so people all recognize me as me when my name is said. More people refer to me as Joseph, and I prefer that name to Joe.”

Deliver the message gently and clearly to avoid hurt feelings.

If this has been going on for a long time and it seems awkward to say anything now, tell people that you’ve decided to be called Joseph from now on. Then they don’t feel like they’ve been getting it wrong all these years, and you’ve made it clear what you want.

Most people are happy to know what your name preference is, so don’t hesitate to correct them politely and right away.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Jacquelyn Youst