Hey Elderly Aunt, how can I get people to call me by my name?

I have always gone by my full name, Jennifer. It’s what family members call me. It’s what my friends call me. It’s what my coworkers in my department call me. But for some reason coworkers in another department that I frequently work with have begun referring to me as “Jen” in emails and sometimes in person. I have tried to gently correct individual coworkers when they refer to me as “Jen” to my face by saying, “I actually go by ‘Jennifer'” — or something to that effect — but it doesn’t seem to be sticking. What do you suggest I do to more effectively correct this without making a big to-do about it or without having to repeat myself a billion times? 

Alas, dear Jennifer, if there is one thing about which the Elderly Aunt is crystal clear, it is that neither she, nor you, nor anyone else has control over other people’s stupidity. You can inform and enlighten ‘til the cows are safely tucked away in the loafing shed and still not penetrate some people’s awareness. This has nothing to do with their intelligence or education. Instead, it has to do with a certain kind of casual arrogance. Such people have high levels of whatever that prevents them from paying attention to the requests of us Little People.

Sadly, this means to the Elderly Aunt that when it comes to the Jen/Jennifer situation, you have two choices: Either accept that some whatever-juiced people are going to call you Jen, or doggedly remind them for the billion-and-first-time that you prefer to be called Jennifer. On the bright side, the Elderly Aunt is a firm believer in miracles, and one of those arrogant sillies, could miraculously hear you and begin calling you Jennifer. 

Probably when pigs fly, but you never know.

But wait! It strikes the Elderly Aunt that it’s possible there’s something else involved here beside your wish to be called what you wish to be called. The wording of your question, dear Jennifer, conveys real frustration—perhaps, even the level of frustration one feels when standing face-to-face with some kind of Last Straw. The kind of apocryphal Last Straw Peter Finch faced on-air in the movie, Network.   

This to the Elderly Aunt, brings to mind that famous old Shakespearean question, “What’s in a name?” Or more, specifically, dear Jennifer, what’s in your name? To you?

Why does it matter to you that you be called Jennifer instead of Jen? Is it merely a pleasant pedantry on your part? Or does the whole Jen/Jennifer thing represent a deeper frustration with other people not taking you seriously enough? 

If that’s what’s behind your Jen/Jennifer frustration, then the Elderly Aunt can only say, “You go, woman!” You have her encouragement to make as big a to-do about being called Jennifer as it takes to get the numskulls  in your life to listen! 

It takes practice to learn to stand up for yourself, and the Elderly Aunt cannot think of a better way to get started then by standing up for your right to be called Jennifer!

The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday.  And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”

Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions). 

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