A reader writes:
I was recently offered an awesome new job! No major red flags so far, but I have a weird question about my preferred name. I always go by “Matt” instead of my full name “Matthew,” but I was told that since the office already has a Matt who I’d be working closely with, they would like to use my full name to prevent confusion.
I’d like to be assertive and say, “This is actually the name that I prefer to go by,” since I’ll be hearing my name every day and it’ll stick as I’m introduced to new people. But it also seems like the kind of nitpicky thing that a new hire shouldn’t be so picky about, lest I give the impression that I’m less flexible than I actually am.
What are your thoughts?
My thoughts are that you get to decide what your name is, not them. (Assuming, of course, that you are not working in Victorian times, when in fact it was customary for your employer to rename you — calling all the footmen James or John, for instance. If you are in fact writing from Victorian England, please ignore the advice that follows and accept your new name.)
In any case, I’d assume that your new employer figures that it’s not much difference to you whether you go by Matthew and Matt, and so threw out this suggestion as an easy way to ward off confusion without inconvenience for you. But since in fact you do not go by Matthew, that solution isn’t as trouble-free as they probably envisioned. But I’d assume misunderstanding, not willful disregard.
As for how to respond, I’d just say, “Actually, I’ve always just gone by Matt. But I’d be glad to be Matt S. or Matt the Second if that will help.”
That is a reasonable thing to say. It’s not unacceptably haughty or demanding to be asked to be called by the name you go by.