Do others shorten your name without asking you first?
Has anyone ever addressed you by an unwanted nickname? Of course it probably happened as a child, but I’m not talking about being teased in grade school with silly nicknames like “smelly” or “scooter”.
I’m talking about your professional and academic adult life, and your real name. Is your name Kenneth, Anthony, Barbara, Elizabeth, or another name that is commonly shortened? Have you ever been called Ken, Tony, Barb, Liz, or a shortened version of your name instead of your real name?
As we speak and interact with a growing number of individuals, we have realized that many people who have average North American names actually struggle with people saying their names correctly.
In this case, the names are relatively common and not particularly hard to pronounce. The problem is that quite often common names are shortened to nicknames, without the person’s consent. If a man has been Michael all his life, he doesn’t want to be addressed as Mike. If a woman has been Janice all her life, she probably doesn’t want to be called Jan. Although it often goes unnoticed, this is a common occurrence and annoyance for a growing number of people.
But nicknames save us time and effort, right?
It’s amazing how far the human race has come, but like all species, we don’t want to make any extra effort where we don’t have to. We cut corners everywhere – run that orange light so we don’t have to stop; pay the extra dollar instead of going to the store across the street; call 411 instead of looking up a number in the phone book. We even call people nicknames, just to save us the effort of pronouncing a few extra syllables (and sometimes for other reasons as well).
Some of the most commonly shortened men’s names include:
- Christopher (Chris)
- Mathew (Matt)
- Jonathan (Jon)
- William (Will/Bill)
- Alexander (Alex)
- Robert (Rob/Bob)
- Thomas (Tom)
Popular shortened women’s names include:
- Deborah (Debbie/Deb)
- Kimberly (Kim)
- Jennifer (Jen)
- Cynthia (Cindy)
- Jacqueline (Jackie)
- Pamela (Pam)
- Kathleen/Catherine (Kathy/Cathy/Kate/Katie)
In addition to these, there are hundreds of other names that are also shortened on a regular basis. Once in a while there will actually be individuals who use a nickname instead of their real name, and it may bother them if you address them by their real name. For example, my first name is Jonathan but from a young age I have used the nickname Jon. When someone at the bank, at a restaurant, at work, or anywhere, addresses me as Jonathan, I tell them, “It’s just Jon.”
If you have experienced your name being changed or mispronounced, let us know your story! We’d love to hear from you.
ANTVibes Team Member
Jonv [at] antvibes [dot com]