My job responsibilities have grown, and I find myself in more Zoom calls with senior colleagues I’ve never met. A lot of people find my name hard to pronounce, so I make a point to introduce myself clearly when I enter the Zoom room. More often than not, people don’t remember, and they botch my name.
This didn’t happen in in-person meetings as much because people would make eye contact instead of attempting my name. It’s infuriating and brings back a lot of memories from school, when teachers could never pronounce my name. Should I interrupt these colleagues and tell them how to say it correctly?— Elaheh Nozari, New York
The headline”Say My Name, Say My Name, Say My Name (Correctly!)“ jumped out at me at me like a mad lion, and annoyed the hell out of me before I could even read Roxane Gay’s response. I had formulated my own- people who don’t take the time to learn an individual’s name are assholes, to me learning someone’s name and properly being able to say and spell it is a sign of respect. Names are important. Your colleagues reveal themselves when they don’t extend you the courtesy of pronouncing your name properly or asking for guidance. I have always taken the time when I don’t know someone’s name to ask kindly, how do you pronounce your name? Do you prefer to be called by that name or do you preferred to be called something else? There is a peculiar American resistance to the unfamiliar. As you well know, people will mispronounce your name, shorten it, bestow an Americanized nickname upon you without your consent, and act aggrieved when you expect the dignity of being called by your proper name, with the proper pronunciation.