The problem: I love my name and hate being called by a nickname. I usually correct someone when introduced. If they turn around and use the nickname, I’ll say I prefer my name. What do I do when ignored? People I’ve known for ages still do it, and it bugs me a lot. Should I just get over it or go on correcting?
Low road: Since this happens with people you’ve known for ages, you might make your point by using their own childhood nickname, which likely will be painfully nostalgic. “Hey! Remember when everybody called you Slim? Ha!”
High road: You deserve to be called by whatever name you prefer, even if your name is Ned and you want to be called Slick. The issue is that your strong preference, harking back to your childhood, is being met by an equally strong preference by others harking back to their childhoods.
For every Katherine, Debra, Cynthia, Robert, Thomas and Jeffrey who cringes at Kathy, Debbie, Cindy, Bob, Tom and Jeff, there are an equal number of people (myself among them) with too many cherished nicknames to count, most of them printable. As odd as this likely sounds to you, I can even tell you who in my life, from about age 6, calls me which nickname. I am warmed by all of them.
Having said that, I have many friends who, like you, hate being called by a nickname and should not have to “lighten up.” That’s not fair to you.
The solution is to make your point, while understanding that the nickname caller means no harm; in fact, it’s likely quite the opposite. A kind approach might be to explain playfully that you’re wired to just answer to one name and anything else will likely be ignored, “So please get it right when I’m stepping into traffic.” You might add, “Now tell me, what name do you prefer?”
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to email@example.com. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.