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What’s In a Name? Why Do People Take it Upon Themselves to Shorten Your Name?

Have you heard of Mike Jordan? Probably not.

How about Mike Jackson? Mike J. Fox? Mike Douglas? (No, not the talk show host, the actor)

Michael Jordon, MIchael J. Fox, Michael Jackson, Michael Douglas
David Cannon/Frazer Harrison/Jason Kempin/Florian Seefried, Getty Images

The people you are familiar with are actually:

Why do I bring this up? I always introduce myself as Michael Rose, yet at least once a week, someone will immediately say ‘good to meet you, Mike’. I then have to respond ‘its Michael…Mike is my dad’.

Working in sales, I have learned about the importance of listening. The first thing you hear from a client is their name. When ‘Robert’ and ‘Kenneth’ introduced themselves to me as ‘Robert’ and ‘Kenneth’, I would never dream of calling them ‘Rob’ or ‘Ken’. I have heard people call them ‘Bobby’ and ‘Kenny’. Unless they gave me permission to call them by shortened or nicknames, I will continue to call them ‘Robert’ and ‘Kenneth’.

I have held jobs where I was called names other than my own. I was called ‘Rosa’ during my two years at Kentucky Fried Chicken. This makes sense, since that is part of my last name. But the time I spent working at Forest City Auto Parts, I went by ‘Jethro’. To this day, I have no idea why I was named that.

My name is not Mike. It is Michael.

Have you been in situations where you had to go by a name that was not your own?

Does it matter to you when people insist on shortening your name?

Please e-mail any comments to my personal e-mail address:, or just comment below.

Thank you.


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