DEAR MISS MANNERS: My first name has two common spellings with a variation of just one letter (think “Meghan” vs. “Megan”). I started a new job two years ago, and my co-workers only use the correct spelling about half the time.
If these were new acquaintances or people I see rarely, it wouldn’t bother me, as both spellings are common, and my name is pronounced the same either way. But these are people I see every day, and who see my name written correctly every day (we do a lot of email). My patience is starting to run thin because it grates on me every time they get it wrong.
As strange as it sounds, the extra letter means a lot to me. When the other spelling is used, I get the strange feeling that someone else is being addressed. It’s not “me.”
Since this is likely to seem insignificant to others, is there a way I can address it without seeming petty? Is there any wording you can recommend to ask people to spell my name correctly? Or should I just try to let it go?
GENTLE READER: The right combination of tact, humility and helpful mnemonics is essential here – both for making your point and for having it stick. Miss Manners suggests a memo to the company with something like, “I know that there has been some confusion about the proper spelling of my name, so I wanted to let everyone know that it is, in fact, Meghan, like the duchess. I will update the database.”
And then, perhaps, invest in a name plaque for your desk so that passersby can surreptitiously check when they inevitably forget.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Help! Our granddaughter is about to be married. Now my husband is saying he is not going.
He doesn’t like the time, the food and the necessity to make small talk with people he doesn’t know. He really does hate such events, and usually I just go without him to various functions, but this is our granddaughter’s wedding. Saying too much will only make him more determined not to go.
Our daughter and granddaughter will be so upset, not to mention how I will be embarrassed by his absence. What can I say to people who ask where he is, without making him seem like a total jerk?
GENTLE READER: “I am afraid that he was not feeling up to it.” You need not explain that what he was not feeling up to was behaving graciously to avoid hurting his family.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My close friend is married to a woman who is very critical of him in front of his friends, often in emasculating ways. She sometimes seems like she wants me to go along with it (maybe in female solidarity?), but he never seems to try to get anyone to take sides.
What can I say to make it clear that I think her criticisms are wrong, she should not talk to him that way, and she definitely shouldn’t do it in front of his friends?
GENTLE READER: Politely defend him. “Oh, really? I’ve found Pierre’s confusion about auto mechanics utterly relatable. I don’t understand that stuff at all.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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