Every so often I am asked for advice on how to handle the incorrect spelling of names. Most prefer that their names are be spelled correctly, but are not sure how to breach the topic.
Then there are those who are being addressed by a version of their name they simply do not use. How their name is displayed in the signature file or the From: field which clearly shows the correct spelling of their name is apparently ignored.
They don’t want to appear picky or petty. But it is their name after all.
Sadly, many onliners have the attention span of a gnat. Most so concerned about typing what they want to say, that they do not pay attention to details.
One of these details being taking note of the correct spelling of the name of the person they are emailing. Why are we not noticing how a contact’s name is spelled?
Lack of attention to detail can be the kiss of death in business. If someone can’t notice or spell my name correctly, what else aren’t they paying attention to?
When Your Name is Misspelled…
What should you do? Should you correct the Sender? What’s the best approach?
Let me share my story with you.
On all my sites and in every email I send my name is displayed. It’s Judith.
I have folks who email me as “Judy” anyway. The thing is — I’m not a Judy.
If they knew me well enough to assume this informal approach and not address me as Judith, they would know that. Not all Cynthias are Cindys, not all James are Jim, not all Anthonys are Tony.
As a matter of fact I know two Anthonys. Neither one goes by Tony.
In most cases I do not correct these folks, I just continue to sign off as Judith and hope they notice. Some do — others do not.
Over the years, only a couple times have I actually gone back and noted, “BTW, I spell my name Judith — I’m not a Judy. ;)” . While I’m not big on emoticons in business email, I do use a winky to soften the correction.
You have to decide for yourself in which situations you want to make a formal correction. It is your name and I don’t think it is too much to ask business contacts to spell it correctly.
Then there are the typos. We all make typos.
Just yesterday I was in a chat with a girl named Adriana. Whenever I start a chat I always greet the agent on the other side — proper chat etiquette you know!
Well, I have a contact I type to all the time whose name is Andriana and that’s what I typed out of habit. I immediately apologized.
When we completed the chat I thank Adriana for her time. This time making sure I spelled her name correctly.
You Know What Happens When You Assume
People who take the liberty of being informal with new contacts is a risky approach. Why would you take risks when it comes to anything to do with your business?
Business formality is a part of professionalism and showing respect. Informality may not be the best way to foster a new or existing business relationship.
Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. In my experience, some of the companies I work clearly have a more relaxed and informal culture.
Even with that I wouldn’t consider informalizing someone’s name. Nor would address them differently than they note in their emails and sign-offs.
I have experienced contacts who have typed to me for years all of a sudden start addressing me as Judy. I take that to mean that they feel comfortable with me and feel they can address me less formally.
Even if I am not a Judy. They mean well.
Coincidentally, my experience shows that these are the contacts tend to lack attention to detail. And, their organization skills also seem to be anemic.
These are typically the same contacts that require I resend, repeat or in many cases reiterate conversations or information we discussed in the past. Because, well, they don’t pay attention to details. (Which includes the fact I’ve never identified myself as a Judy.)
What if you make that mistake?
So you can see how something as simple as assuming how the informal version of someone’s name is spelled can leave a negative impression. Or set the tone as the type of person you’ll be to work with.
What do you do when you discover you’ve assumed incorrectly? Simply apologize.
Avoid any misconceptions by taking the time to make sure you are spelling the names of those you communicate with correctly. Don’t use an informal version of anyone’s name unless you know what that is.
Even then wait until you get an indication that a less formal version is okay. How will you know? When you see that they have signed-off in an email using that less formal version. There’s your clue.