Several site visitors have asked for advice in regard to the incorrect spelling of their names by those who email them. They are concerned that their names are being spelled wrong, (or they are being addressed by a version of their name they simply do not use) when their signature file or the From: field clearly shows the correct spelling of their name.
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 them being the correct spelling of the name of the person they are emailing.
When Your Name is Misspelled…
What should you do? Should you correct the Sender?
I have folks who email me as “Judy” — I’m not a Judy. If they knew me well enough to assume this informal approach and not address me as Judith as I sign-off my emails, 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 — don’t call them 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. Only with a few new contacts 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 after all 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 at some point. 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 make the assumption that taking the liberty of being informal can be an incorrect assumption. Business formality is a part of professionalism. Informality may not be the best way to foster a new or existing business relationship.
I have experienced contacts who have typed to me for years all of a sudden start addressing me as Judy. Even when in my signature file always reflects Judith. What does that say about the Sender? I think that means 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 contacts are also typically the same ones 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. What do you do when you discover you’ve assumed incorrectly? Simply apologize.
Take the time and make the effort to ensure you are spelling your contact’s names correctly. Don’t assume an informal version of anyone’s name unless you know what that is, that they actually go by that variation of their name and how it is spelled. How will you know? You will know this because they have signed off in an email first using that less formal version.
I’ll close with an apropos quote from another Judith, the original Miss Manners…
Over the last couple of decades, the personalization of the office changed dramatically… there’s an informality people often take for the absence of rules – which it’s not. ~ Judith Martin