Bullying takes many forms.
There are those who do it consciously, making remarks which they know will annoy, even hurt other people.
But an even more frightening form of bullying is when people do so without realizing it.
Either saying or doing things without realizing they are irritating, even disrespecting other people.
Redditor Scared_Dark_2857 felt that he was being bullied at his place of work, and came up with what he thought was a good solution as to how to finally put an end to it.
But after his decision landed him in hot water, the original poster (OP) took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for ignoring people who don’t say my name correctly?”
The OP first shared how he has a rather uncommon name, who’s pronunciation might not be obvious at first glance.
“Moved to the US recently and I do have fairly uncommon name – not just for the USA but also in England where I grew up.”
“It’s St John, which is pronounced Sinjun.”
“Now I accepted long ago that most people would get it wrong on the first try; I’ve been called John, Saint John, even Street John.”
“However, when I correct people and explain it they will then call me Sinjun, which is what I prefer.”
But the OP’s name proved an insurmountable hurdle for his colleagues at work, despite his numerous attempts at correcting them.
“However, there’s a couple of people on my team at work in the US office who refuse to say my name correctly.”
“They keep calling me John or Johnny, even Jim despite my protestations and corrections.”
Having become exhausted by their apparent disinterest in addressing him by his correct name, the OP came up with what he felt was a fair solution to fixing this problem.
“Basically this came to a head where I sent a message to my direct Team and explained my name, even with YouTube video to a link of how to say it, and I’d only be answering to Sinjun when spoken, and St John when written.”
“I’ve stuck to that policy and have actively ignored people who call me John whether they’re talking to me or if it’s an email.”
“In fact if it’s an email, I’ll send it back to my colleagues saying that they must’ve sent to the wrong person as there’s no John on this end.”
“Of course if it’s a client, or someone at the company who I have minimal contact with I’ll let it slide as again, I realize it’s an uncommon name.”
“However, these are colleagues I interact with five days a week and see in person for two of them.”
Unfortunately, the OP’s decision ended up backfiring, even resulting in his facing disciplinary action.
“Things came to head when I didn’t follow up on a task meaning one of the colleagues didn’t get a presentation done on time meaning he had to stay late and make it up in the evening.”
“That led to a HR complaint and currently we’re on arbitration – though honestly my feeling is that if you address someone, you do so by their preferred name.”
“Hell, it’s not like it’s a particularly hard name to pronounce, as it only has two syllables.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
While everyone sympathized with the OP’s frustrations, the Reddit community was somewhat divided on whether or not he handled the situation as well as he could have.
Many felt that the OP’s colleagues were blatantly disrespecting him, and he handled the situation absolutely correctly.
“NTA – your co-workers are disrespecting you.”
“The fact that they can’t seem to get your name correct (regardless of difficulty) speaks volumes.”-zippykaiyay.
“I may be biased because I have a hard to pronounce name (that sounds like another, less common name) and I am so freakin’ tired of correcting people over and over and over and over.”
“Some people figure it out right away and some keep going with the wrong one.”
“I’ve started replying to emails with an incorrect name for them.”
“If someone gets my name wrong (especially when they are replying to an email from ME with my name riiiiight there) I’ll respond with a greeting with the same first letter but wrong name.”
“This is a long way to say NTA at all.”- Feisty_Brunette.
“If they can say Tchaikovsky and learn the proper way of saying Worcestershire, then they can learn to pronounce your name properly.”
“I admit that from the written text I wouldn’t automatically get the right pronunciation on the first go, but you give everyone a chance to fix that, so it shouldn’t be hard to rectify the mistake.”
“Your colleague failed to respect you, and by extension, failed themselves.”- gatoradeviper
Others, meanwhile, agreed the OP had every right to be angry that his colleagues were still getting his name wrong, but wondered if it was worth putting his job in jeopardy to correct them.
“But, are you willing to die on this hill and potentially lose your job?”-perfect_fitz.
“As someone with a ‘hard’ to pronounce name, I honestly don’t even care anymore.”
“It’s a d*ck move on their part, but it’s a battle I no longer have the energy to fight.”
“I’ll answer to whatever at this point, just say what you need to say and go.”
“You might be setting yourself up to make it worse cause people are….strange like that.”-TheeCombatBaby.
“NTA for being serious about your name, but your employer would also be fully within their rights to fire you for failing to do your job for whatever reason.”
“You are willfully not completing what sounds like a requirement of your role, and you will have to decide if your principles around your name are worth it.”
“My name is also misspelled and mispronounced constantly, and I do a deep breath and let it go.”
“I’m not willing to escalate it to the point where the blowback lands on me.”-cranbeery.
“NTA but just be prepared that this method of dealing with the situation might lead to long term issues with this company and any company you work for. “
“They should have your back on this, but chances are they’ll only care about you refusing to talk to your coworkers, no matter the reason.”-GlassSandwich9315.
While a few felt that the OP’s colleagues inability to get his name right in no way justified his actions, even if they still couldn’t defend his colleagues.
“Both my first and last name have multiple common pronunciations, and I gave up on people getting even one of them right 30 years ago.”
“The sweet little old man next door?”
“Gets it wrong every time even though I’ve been shoveling his sidewalk for over two decades.”
“At this point, I’ll answer to pretty much anything (except “that red=headed bitch”–hate that!) just to get things done without wasting time on hopeless quests.”-POAndrea.
“ESH once you’ve told them how it’s pronounced they need to to use it correctly, if they even going a step beyond that and calling you Johnny then nope they are being unprofessional in the workplace and its a form of bullying.”
“But you should have raised it with HR or your line manager rather than email back saying who is this.”
“Thats not a professional way to deal with it on company time.”
“You needed backing from your manager that you could reply like that and ignore tasks.”-Careless_Mango.
“It’s not hard to use someone’s name correctly after they’ve explained it numerous times.”
“But to not do your own work because if it is a bit much.”-OhhhhBobSaget.
“ESH – Your co-workers are dissing you, that sucks.”
“But your name is super weird (no offense) and you can stick by your principles all day, but it’s affecting your job and mental health.”
“Can’t you come up with a nickname or something to strike some kind of balance?”
“Are you willing to die on this hill?”
“I think you are, but I certainly wouldn’t.”
“And didn’t, I have a (slightly) uncommon name and use my middle name in professional settings.”
“Best of luck.”-millhows.
“It’s one thing to ignore conversations or people calling out to you until they use your name, but it sounds like you’re actually not doing parts of your job because of this.”
“And that definitely makes you an a**hole if people are relying on you to do those things.”
“Have you tried talking to your boss about this?”- hauptj2.
“You lose the high ground when you willingly and knowingly ignore emails and requests to do work and part of your expected role, for which you are employed.”
“And this is not a case of ‘well it wasn’t intended for me, so how should I know?'”
“You said as much yourself, you ‘acted like that was the case’ so you were ignoring the emails out of malice and pettiness rather than a genuine miscommunication.”
“You should have gone to HR and escalated it that people are not addressing you as preferred which you find demeaning and unprofessional.”
“Then go from there.”
“You now have to contend with being the individual who showed themselves to be quite grossly unprofessional because you were personally offended by something and chose not to seek recourse in the proper manner.”
“So you’ve kinda shot yourself in the foot here.”- BoomTheBear86.
It must be very frustrating indeed to show up to work and be addressed by the incorrect name day after day, intentionally or not.
But it is a shame that the OP felt the only way of fixing this was a decision that may have put his job in jeopardy.
Here’s hoping the OP doesn’t lose his job, and that his colleagues might make more of an effort to address him correctly going forward.