How to politely ask people not to use a particular nickname?

My name is Elizabeth. I don’t like to be called “Liz.” At all. I don’t care what else you call me, but I really do not like being called Liz. I have my reasons. Sucking it up and letting people call me Liz is not an option.* I even hate typing it! Liz Liz Liz. Yaargh!**

Lots of people ask me what I prefer or if they can call me Liz. That’s cool. I just tell them that I go by Elizabeth and that’s that. But some people are idiots.

I’ve never figured out a way to ask people not to call me Liz without offending them. Nobody likes to be corrected, of course, but for some reason, I’ve never been able to do this diplomatically.

The thing that prompted me to start a thread about it, though, was from a work email that I received today.*** It’s from someone in accounting that I’ve never met face-to-face, but with whom I’ve dealt before and will continue to do so in the future. If I was never going to deal with her again, I’d just let it go. But I will have to deal with her again, and I have no idea how to tell her to call me Elizabeth without sounding snippy.

So, wise Dopers, how do I politely ask her not to call me Liz in an email?

And how can I better handle asking people the same thing in a face-to-face interaction?

  • I do make an exception for people who knew me when I was a kid. I was called Liz then. I don’t like it, but I can deal. At least they actually knew me by that name at one point and aren’t just changing my name willy-nilly. Most of them do call me Elizabeth by now anyway.

**Apologies to any Lizzes out there. (Liz’s?) I’m sorry I hate your name. It has nothing to do with you.

***Why the hell do people just decide that I should be called Liz? I signed my email “Elizabeth.” I have a sig with my contact information that has my name as Elizabeth. Isn’t it completely obvious that my name is Elizabeth?? The woman in question’s name is Joeanne. With an extra “e” in the middle. I’m tempted to call her “Joe!” And how much you wanna bet that she gets pissed off if people call her Joanne or Jo-ann or whatever?

I’d just say that you prefer Elizabeth. That’s not rude, it’s just informative.

I’m frequently called Diane, just because it’s a more common name. It’s surprising to me how many people, when I correct them, say “Oh, do you not like Diane?” Erm… I like it fine, it’s just not my name. Do you like “Jeff”? Because I could call you that.

I agree. People are usually happy to know what your preference is, especially with your name, which has about a dozen variables.

Anyone who continues using a name you hate can blow you.

  1. “Please don’t call me that.”

  2. “I asked you to please not call me that. Please see my sig for the proper spelling of my name”

  3. Go to HR.

My sister goes by another diminutive of “Elizabeth.” For a while, she decided she wanted to be called by the full name, and ended up with the same problem you have, Green Bean. Don’t know why people want to shorten it to Liz, but they do, and she hates it, was well. She got so tired of correcting people, she went back to her usual nickname and that solved it. Not suggesting you take on a new nickname, just wanted to let you know you’re not alone! :slight_smile:

One thing that worked for her is to not respond to people right away when they called her Liz. When they said it again, she would look up, confused, and say “Oh, sorry! Didn’t know you were talking to me. No one ever calls me that!” That usually worked. If someone did it in the middle of a conversation, or introduced her that way, she would just politely correct them (sometimes using the same joke…“if you call me Liz, I won’t know to answer you!”)

It’s a little tougher with an e-mail, but you could try something similar. Send an e-mail back and say, "Just wanted to let you know, for a minute I thought I got someone else’s e-mail…no one ever calls me Liz! Add a smiley so she doesn’t think you are being bitchy.

Yeah, just tell them that you prefer to be called Elizabeth. In a work environment, you can’t do what I normally do, which is to ignore people until they call me by my preferred name. I hate my first name (which is an Anglicized version of a common Italian name), and unless someone calls me Lynn, I won’t answer. Unless, like you, it’s someone who knew me as a kid. Basically, my family and my best friend are allowed to call me by my first name without repercussions.

Just say or write “I don’t want to sound petty, but the nickname of Liz really grates on my nerves. I’d much rather be called Elizabeth, please.”

My name’s diminutive is a really cheesy little-girl type name. Think “Suzy*”, only worse. I’m a grown up engineer computer geek and I really don’t think it fits me.

Unfortunately, I’ve given up trying to get people to change.

Most people upon just meeting me call me the standard abbreviation of my name (“Sue”), which I’ve decided I don’t like at all. I would prefer if people call me by my full name (“Susan”) but the people who do are few and far between, though I always sign emails with that name and refer to myself by it.

However, I live in my hometown. That means I have lots & lots of relatives around. They all call me by my diminutive (“Suzy”) because that’s what I grew up with, and hell if I can get them to stop. Hubby even calls me by that, because he thinks it’s cute and everyone else does, too. In their defense, I’m named after my mother, and it makes it easy to tell the difference between us because she’s “Sue” and I’m “Suzy.”

But it gets worse. He calls me “Suzy” so when we meet new friends, they start calling me “Suzy.” Even if I politely tell them I prefer “Susan”, after a few weeks of hearing Mr. Athena call me “Suzy” they naturally fall into it as well.

It’s a losing battle. Now I’m just trying to convince myself that I like “Suzy” well enough and get on with my life.

*Not my real name, although “susan” is what I was supposed to be named. My father named me something else while my mother was recovering. She was OK with it, since he named me after her.

Did you miss the part about “politely?” (speaking of sounding snippy!)

I find that playing dumb sometimes can work, but rarely.

The guy who delivers packages here called me Liz and had my name listed as Liz on the sheet I was to sign. I said, oh, is that one me? I’m Elizabeth." And then he informed me that my name was too long to use and that Liz was better. There were other names on the sheet listed with just first initials, so why he didn’t do that for me, I don’t know. I reiterated that it was “Elizabeth.” I told him that if my name was too long, he could put E. or Eliz. He acted like that was a ridiculous suggestion!

And I’ve tried to let people know to call me Elizabeth in a joking manner. It always comes off badly. I think the problem is that I’m trying to sound light, but I’m really thinking “you’re an asshole.” I’m not too good at hiding stuff like that.

Lynn–I like the “I don’t want to sound petty” bit. Classic technique of putting the blame on to yourself to defuse a situation. Smart! Maybe I’d be better at hiding my annoyance using that solution.

I have this exact same problem with my name, which is not Elizabeth but has a common diminutive. (At least Elizabeth has several – Liz, Beth, Betty – and if you don’t answer to it they might think they’ve gotten the wrong one.) I can’t tell you how many times I have corrected people who automatically lop off half my name within seconds after I’ve introduced myself. I hate it. I answer, “No, really, it’s ________. Really.” And they act as if it’s a little whim of mine, like I’ve asked them to call me “Your Majesty” or I always wear a pencil sticking out of my ear or something. It’s not an unusual or difficult name.

It is a little easier at work, where you might have some recourse, but then you get in-laws who won’t listen, or your boss, who signs your paycheck. If you have a friend at work who can help you out when she hears it, by saying, “You know, Elizabeth uses her given name, and doesn’t use nicknames, so if you call her Liz it’ll go right over her head.”

I advise you to nip it in the bud before it becomes entrenched.

I don’t like the diminutive of my name and I always ask people not to use it. I simply say: I know you can’t know and meant to offense, but I *really *don’t like the use of the diminutive. Please don’t do it.

If they forget I remind them gently once or twice.

After that I assume they are being an asshole and tell them more firmly. But I can’t remember actually having to do that.

I feel for ya, Suzy-Q! (sorry.)

Luckily, my folks and my brother started calling me Elizabeth when I asked them to. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that. It took 'em a few years to totally let go of the Liz, but right away, they made sure to introduce me to people as “Elizabeth.” That was immensely helpful. If someone inquired about the discrepancy, it was easy enough to just say that Liz was a childhood nickname, but that I go by Elizabeth. And over the years, as they started regularly calling me Elizabeth, even those people who knew me as a kid have started following suit.

I can relate! My name is Theodore. Look at my birth certificate, it says Theodore. Look at my passport, it says Theodore. Look at my credit/debit/bank cards, they say Theodore. Theodore. Theodore. Theodore. That is my name. I like it a lot and I’m really happy to be called by it.

Ted, on the other hand, is not my name. I don’t like being called Ted. No, I cannot give you a detailed and rational explanation as to why I don’t like it. I just don’t.

Growing up as a little kid, I was always called either Ted or Teddy for short. Don’t ask me why, but I like Teddy just fine. Maybe it’s the cute-n-cuddly factor. Maybe it’s because I always wanted one of those animatronic bears that you stuff tapes into but never got one. I don’t know. But I still don’t like Ted.

So. I have the group of people who may call me Ted (family, grade school friends, etc) and I have everyone else. Everyone else, please call me Theodore, Theo, or Teddy. Don’t call me Ted. I don’t really like being called that.

I get around this as others have already suggested, by just politely mentioning that I prefer “Theodore” or, if they must shorten it, “Theo” or “Teddy.”

The worst kind of people are those who, after learning this, continue to use “Ted” just because they think they are being cute. My brother’s boyfriend has gotten away with this so far because I like him and think he’s otherwise a great guy. But one of these days, he’s getting a kick in the junk for it. :mad:

I like that. You’re not being rude, you’re just confused. I find it really, really odd that someone would assume you go by a nickname. Especially for Elizabeth. How do they know you don’t prefer Lisa, Eliza, Beth or Betty?

You could also take a cue from Elaine Benes and get in their face, pointing a finger, stating ‘Look, it’s not Liz, all right? It’s ElizaBETH! My name is Elizabeth!’

My name’s Jan; really, just Jan. That’s my full first name, as printed on my birth certificate. A lot of people assume it’s short for Janice or Janet, and will call me that. I just say, “Actually, it’s just Jan.” Repeat as necessary. There was one person that I worked with in college that had some kind of a mental tic about it and just really wanted to call me Janet for some reason. I corrected her every single time we had contact, just about; every time, she said, “Oh goodness, I forgot again!” and we moved on.

So yeah, I’d just go with, “Actually, it’s Elizabeth.” If you want to soften it up even more, throw something in like, “Liz was our family dog.” However, if the person you are talking to is jerkish, this could backfire as they might then find it amusing to call you Liz. In general, I think simple is best.

I just get it over with as quickly as possible.

My given name is Christina, but for… oh, ever… I’ve been known as Christy. I don’t usually mind when people call me Christine or Kristen or Chris, in fact I find it rather interesting what nicknames people choose for me, but my preference is definitely Christy. I like those other names, but I love Christy.

So I at least let my preference known. Whenever I’m meeting someone for the first time, say, at a doctor’s office or job interview, they’ll say,


And I’ll give them a warm smile and a friendly handshake and say, ‘‘Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Christy.’’

Problem solved. Sometimes people don’t get it, but it really doesn’t bother me. You might not like being called Liz, and I’m not implying you should suck it up, but keep in mind if someone starts using a nickname with you, it probably means they like you. So it’s good to keep in mind there’s no intended malice.

In the case of your e-mail you could just try replying and end the email with a personal signature, like


Eventually your co-worker will probably catch on. Just make sure you identify yourself as often as possible. ‘’‘Hi, this is Elizabeth. I was just calling to see about X.’’ Then if it persists you could try a gentle reminder, maybe with some humor thrown in.

Sorry, guess we work for different companies. What I suggested counts as polite in these parts.

From our corporate policies website re: personal behavior, maintenance of a proper facade thereof:

“This includes maintaining a standard of good taste, good judgement, a courteous approach to both clients and fellow employees, and moderation at all times.”

Calling people by a nickname they don’t want to be called is discourteous.

Theodore is a really cool name IMO. And I’m with you - “Theodore” is good. “Teddy” is really good. “Ted”, not so good.

  1. Call the cops.

No need to under-react, we’ve got to put those diminutive name callers in their place!

More realistically, if you do send back an email, don’t put any exclamation marks in it. It’s hard enough to convey tone in writing, no need risk them thinking you’re ragingly pissed off.

“Sorry, my name is not Maria.”

“I’m sorry, but my name is still not Maria.”

“My name is not Maria.”

Then I just stop answering unless they use my name. Which, by the way, is not Maria.

I’m surrounded by friends and family who go by nicknames that have NOTHING to do with their given name. Including me. I have 4 or 5 nicknames, depending on who you talk to, but they are unrelated to my real name, which is kinda weird to begin with and has no standard nicknames associated with it.