How To Respond Professionally When Your Name Is Spelled WrongBy Nakisha Washington
Feb. 7 2019, Published 3:00 a.m. ET
I’ve been called every name in the book. Nikki, Nikitia, Natisha, Natasha and even Kiki. My actual and preferred name when conducting business is simply: Nakisha.
In case anyone has questions about how to address me, I provide the cheat code in every email correspondence: my email signature! But wait, there’s more! At work, the correct spelling of my name conveniently populates in the To: line when you begin typing my name. If you look hard enough, it can also usually be found within the body of an email chain (i.e, “Nakisha, can you please provide an update?”).
Yet and still, I receive the occasional “Thanks, NaKeisha!” to which I respond, “Who?” before I hit delete and send my actual response.
Here are three ways that you can respond when your name is spelled incorrectly in a professional email:
First Of All…That’s Not My Name
Let’s be real. It’s awkward when someone misspells or addresses you by the incorrect name in a business email. Do you ignore the mistake or correct it? For some, the most effective way to handle the situation is to be direct. On her Facebook page, LaSaundra Powell asks for tips to respond to professional emails when her name is spelled incorrectly. On the post, Mel O Elle suggests “sign off with your preferred spelling and correction.” She uses a quick, direct approach in the closing of her response: “Melody (not ‘Melanie’ please—thank you).”
If you choose to take this approach, be mindful of the audience. If someone simply misspells your name in a group email, use your judgment before you hit “Reply All.” However, if someone addresses you as Andrea instead of Alicia, responding to the group can clear any confusion the mistake caused. Say “To quickly clarify, my name is Alicia….” and continue the message. Quick, Direct. Straightforward.
“It’s like people don’t even read these days!” That saying never rings truer than when it relates to email signatures. Even if you’re skimming, the email signature is the last thing on the page!
If you do not feel comfortable correcting the mistake directly, use your email signature as a more subtle approach. To make your signature, specifically your name, stand out: MAKE IT BIGGER. Increasing the font size of your name only will draw your audiences attention to your signature. Depending on the setting, change the color or placement of your signature. Another suggestion is to add “From the desk of (insert name)” in the header of your name. Changing the signature works best when sending short emails.
Hi, My Name Is…..
“Michele with 1 L, not 2.” A former colleague actually introduced herself that way in a meeting. I later found out that more than one of our teammates frequently spelled her name “Michelle” in emails. Knowing that we had an upcoming meeting, she used the opportunity to verbally address the error.
If you have a commonly misspelled name or a name that can be spelled a number of ways, the verbal approach may be the way to go. Think about how often you assume the correct spelling of common names like Brian/Bryan or Sarah/Sara. Be aware of your tone and body language when making the correction in person or over the phone. Remember to keep it short and sweet.
For no reason other than a mere oversight, most of us have unintentionally been called out of our names in professional emails. While it can be annoying, correcting serial misspellers can be a quick fix. Quickly address the mistake and move on, make your email signature stand out or even verbally remind others of the spelling/pronunciation of your name.
From the desk of Nakisha Washington.