Not Calling Me By My Name

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about not being addressed by name.

What does it mean when a co-worker will not address me by my name? It’s always “Hey man” or “Hey buddy”. To me, it is very disrespectful not to address a person by his or her name. I always address this person by his name. He calls others by their names. We’ve had our differences, but not so bad that we can’t work together; I think.

Signed, I Have a Name

Dear I Have a Name:

Apparently “Hey, Man” for your coworker is a short-cut for him. He doesn’t have to remember your name. To address you this way is not really disrespectful unless you treat it as so. I have a long-time friend with whom I have conducted training for employees of hundreds of companies who almost always greets me with “Hi, Big Guy.” He does this in spite of the fact that he’s a hundred pounds heavier than I. It’s a habit.

Now your coworker, you say, calls others by their names and you assume that addressing you as “Hey man” or Hey buddy” signals that he doesn’t respect you. Yet you also say despite your differences you two can work together. Have you said to John, or whatever is his name, “John, I call you by your name. I’d like for you to call me by my name. Do you know what it is? Is it ok if the next times you say, ‘Hey, Man”‘or “‘ey, Guy’, I say, call me ‘Hey, Buddy Sam’? How about that?”

You could add a little fun with it by addressing him as “Hey Man John.” Or each time he forgets you could playfully echo him by incorrect language saying “‘Me am guy Sam’ or ‘I’m guy Sam.’ because my name is Sam.”

You can try these suggestions, but don’t become obsessed with this. From the little you say, I don’t recommend that you tell him you feel disrespected with a “Hey man.”  The important thing is to do what you are hired to do and to make each others job as easy and effective as is reasonably possible. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Does that make sense?

William Gorden