In your life, you’ll meet people from a variety of backgrounds and from all walks of life. You may hear or see some names you’ve never heard of before. Sometimes it’s difficult to say some of those names.
Some people may tell you to call them by a nickname or an “easier” version of their name, which is okay and up to that person. What’s not okay is when you take it upon yourself to give them a nickname because “it’s too hard” to say their name, or mispronouncing one’s name after they’ve corrected you on how to say it. A person’s name is important. It’s part of them and their identity. It’s one thing if you genuinely can’t say it and keep trying to get it right, but constantly mispronouncing someone’s name is another. The lack of effort is disrespectful to the person and their name, and it can easily come across as “I don’t care about getting your name correct, so I don’t care about you”.
For example, my name is Caroline (pronounced as Care-o-line). People have incorrectly called me Carolyn (Care- o-LYNN) for years. No matter how often I correct someone, be it a coworker, professor, boss or even a family member, people still call me Carolyn. In some cases (like with my professors), I gave up after repeatedly correcting them for a while. I’m now at the point where I look up if someone says Carolyn. That is not my name. I would like for you to call me CaroLINE, not CaroLYNN. Just the other day, I received a new credit card with my name misspelled as Carorline, so I called the bank to let them know and to try and get it changed to my actual name. I said and spelled out my name to the bank lady on the phone, and she said, “Oh, so it should be Carolyn.” Yep. It’s my name. One many don’t even consider difficult.
This is also an issue for people with more “difficult” or even ethnic names. I had a friend named Annalise. Sounds beautiful and simple, right? She pronounces it as “Ann-a- lees”. People kept calling her “Anh-a-lee”.
Eventually, she got so frustrated that she started going as Anna (Ann-a) instead. But even then, people kept calling her Ana (Anh- a), especially after “Frozen” released. Then, there’s my roommate Cortlynn (Court-lynn). People often call her Courtney, “Cort-a-lynn” and once in a while, Caitlyn.
Names are important. They’re often the first thing we say when we meet someone new, and we’re usually stuck with them from birth. So, saying someone’s name constantly wrong without any effort to get it right is just disrespectful and rude to the name-bearer. We can tell when you’re trying! Effort is always key in any aspect of respect.