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Four things to try if someone’s still getting your name wrong

What’s in a name? Or who’s in it? Our names are how we identify ourselves to everyone. In Australia, what does it mean to misspell or mispronounce a name?

22·04·2021

Names are important.

They tell a story of who we are and where we come from.

In a multicultural, multilingual country like Australia, we’re not all going to be called “John Smith”, which is good because you can imagine how confusing that’d make any coffee run.

But it does mean sometimes, some names are misspelled and mispronounced.

Name mistakes happen all the time

If you want to see what this looks like on live TV, check out this clip from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, shared on Twitter a couple of years ago

In it American comedian Hasan Minhaj, who comes from a Muslim Indian background, joined Ellen on the couch. And she got his name wrong right off the bat.

As Hasan explained, it’s something that happens all the time.

But, as he goes on to say, rather than change his name to something a little more talkshow-host-friendly, he’s stood by it.

“When I first got in, you know, started doing comedy, people were like, ‘You should change your name.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m not going to change my name.’ If you can pronounce ‘Ansel Elgort,’ you can pronounce Hasan Minhaj,” he said.

There are a few things we love about Hasan’s approach.

He’s direct – not afraid to interrupt Ellen and correct her error.

But he does it in a way that’s cool, calm and collected, explaining everything in a light-hearted tone, and using humour to get his point across.

The result?

She probably doesn’t feel that bad about getting his name wrong.

But she’s definitely not going to get it wrong again.

Making sure your name spelled and said the right way

Most of us are pretty attached to our names.

But most of us are also probably pretty attached to not having to need to wear a nametag 24/7 to make sure our names are spelled and said correctly.

So, what should those of us with commonly misspelled and mispronounced names do (aside from booking an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show).

Here are four things you can try next time your teacher, boss, mate or even barista accidentally adds a couple of vowels or consonants to your name.

  1. Be direct – You don’t need to turn it into a spectacle, but most of the time people will appreciate you correcting them directly (especially if it’s happened more than once).
  2. Be friendly – That said, not everyone responds well to realising they’re wrong. They might even be a bit embarrassed about the whole thing. So, when you call them out, be aware that a friendly correction is always going to go down better.
  3. Be persistent – You’ve corrected them once, and they’re still making the same mistake? They might be stressed, they might be busy, they probably don’t even realise they’re getting it wrong. Don’t give up – a bit of repetition never hurt anyone.
  4. Don’t be afraid to interject – If these tactics don’t get you anywhere, you can always try this old standby:“It’s actually (INSERT YOUR NAME HERE). Sorry to interrupt, please keep going.”

    A little awkward, but a pretty clear-cut way of getting your point across.

It’s about treating everyone with respect

The way we address each other matters and everyone deserves to have their name said and spelt correctly.

If someone is getting your name wrong time and time again, try one, two or all of those tips.

And if the shoe is on the other foot, make sure you take to get someone else’s name correct.

It’s a sign of recognition and respect.

Do you have a story of your name being spelled (or said) incorrectly? Or are you constantly fumbling over other people’s names? We want to hear your story.

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