Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Nickname Game

No my first name ain't baby...it's Janet...Miss Jackson if ya nasty!
-- Janet Jackson, Nasty Boys

While nobody on the job has referred to me as baby - well, at least no one outside of those dudes in the awful neo-vests - I do have problem with folks automatically referring to me as another four letter word:


Following five years working at four different jobs (yes, I know...a whole 'nother post entirely), I have only met five people who I would deem a friend. Therefore, why on earth are the folks at work taking liberty to address me by a nickname?

While at my first two jobs, I made it a point to let all offenders - regardless of corporate rank or race - know that what they deemed my nickname was a sound and not my name.

Now that I am on job #4, I have finally been able to accept the fact that there are some folks at work do not like me, just like I do not care for many of them. Yet, we are all in the same gang at work and realize that we must feign many things on the job So, what a better way to do so other than with a pet name?

Cocoa Girl's Benefits of Using Nicknames in the Workplace

1. Nicknames help feign "like." So you cannot stand the scuzzy-ho seated in the cubicle next to you, yet you somehow got stuck working said ho on a special project for boss man? Continue to not stand her on your own time, but be sure to effectively feign friendship in front of the big guy. Try on "Scuz" vs. "Scuzzy Ho" for size.

2. Nicknames establish camaraderie. Granted, you purposely selected Harlem as the spot for your new condo because what the neighborhood lacks in amenities it makes up for in exclusivity (it's black). Yet you cannot allow your Harlem roots to overgrow your workspace. So, go out for that drink of brewsky at that Irish pub in Midtown and be sure to call your pals mono-syllabic sounds. e.g. Peter is now Pete; Doug is now "Dougie Fresh" and "Paul Gafferty" is now "Gaff.'

3. Nicknames make Cocoa seem, um, less Cocoa. Let's face it: Black folk at work already have an issued with being trusted. So there is no use in deepening the divide by appearing to be an uptight a$$ in a sea full of drunkards and shot chasers (remember: debauchery loves company!). Since Cocoa-coated types generally avoid the nickname game, purposely jump for a turn or two at key staff events, from monthly meetings to happy hour to those intense sessions with H.R.

How do you feel about being called something other than your birthname on the job?



Unsaid said...

My name is Jonterri...my childhood nickname is JT. As soon as I say my name people at every job i've had ask me if i have a nickname. I always say NO because I think it's disrespectful not to at least TRY to say my name, which is said how it is spelled and has the same amount of syllables as Rebecca.

Then eventually they get this epiphany that they could call me JT. So they ask me if they can call me JT and feel like they made it up until I tell them that that is my childhood nickname (lol) and they can call me that if they like but aren't they already used to calling me by my full name? They are, but they still awkwardly struggle to remember to call me JT. sigh...it's hard out here sometimes lol

Amn.eris said...

I have issues with nicknames also. My name is Patrice and my friends call me Trixie. (Yes after Ed Norton's wife on the honeymooners....another story though.)

Antywho...it really pisses me off when folks use it after hearing a friend calling me that. I am like...you ain't my buddy don't do that. And what really sets me off is when I ask you NOT to use it and you still insist on using it. That is when I go into that psycho black woman mode and I don't even acknowledge your presence. Just wears me out.

I am not even going to discuss how psycho I get when the co-workers try to use it. LMAO

Nichelle said...

OMG! I hate that too!

You want to piss me off, call me Nish or Nick (Ugh!) When I was a little girl my uncle called me Nicki, but he could get away with it because I was five. My family (and only my family) calls me "Chelle," but I prefer that people call me Nichelle. I think that people who automatically use a nickname are incredibly presumptuous. In my opinion, it's a subtle sign of disrespect. It's always better to ask the person their name. If they say, "My name is Rachel but everybody calls me Peaches," well then carry on! Otherwise, it's best to use their given name until further notice.

The Very Reverend Ace Clemmons, Jr. said...

Baby, Lighten up!

T. Cas said...

I had to Americanize my name b/c I got tired of white people butchering it. My name is Rashan (emphasis on the Ra like in Rakim)and they call me Shawn, like I am a Black Irishman. I would rather be called Shawn than have someone continously messing up my name.

Nexgrl said...

I agree with you completely. I don't like my name as it is, and to shorten it in any way annoys me to no end. My name is Beverly, not Bev, not Bevy, and definitely not "B." My own Mother doesn't even like my name.

Cocoa Girl said...

Unsaid - I feel ya. They should at least try to pronounce your full name. I think they try once...you know...when they're sounding it out in front of you and say "that's interesting."

amn.eris - I love the Trixie, but would equally go off on someone at work if they tried to adopt it.

Nichelle and Nexgrl - "Nish" "Nick" and "Bevy" are fighting words...

Rev Clemmons - I'm at work...I can't!

T.Cas - I feel you, too. The shortened name can just simplify some thangs.

Nichelle said...

They are definitely fighting words, girl.. people can be a trip.

When you get a chance, stop by today and tell me what you think of the handy little "stupid girl" deprogrammer that I've devised.

For now, I've gotta get out of this house and head over the East Side (yes, I've been freed from my last b.s. temp assignment!) This dang book of mine is gonna get written for real now!

Harlem Songstress said...

My name is Keemya (pronounced Keem-yah) and although very simple, folks just butcher it every-which-way-INCLUDING-Sunday even once I spell it out and break it down. Sometimes I feel like leaving anonymous gifts on their desks like "hooked-on-phonics" but somehow I think they'd trace it back to me!

But anyway, Unsaid-I agree with your comment--at least TRY to say it right. Folks try to pull that "do u have a nickname" question on me too and I flatly tell them no! Then they kind of just look at me sheepishly. I'm like DAG-aint u the one with the B.S., M.B.A. and looking into working on your PhD and you can't say a simple 2-syllable name?!

As an adult a few of my friends have evolved into calling me "Keem" but no one has ever had the guts to call me that at work thank goodness.

Not a hipster said...

Oh my god, I HATE HATE HATE when people shorten my name. Pascha is not hard to pronounce, it sounds just like Tasha. Two minutes after meeting me, people leave off the last "a," and just call me Pasch. Like Posh. I want to kick them in their smarmy face when they do that.

And like Jonterri said, they all think they were the first person to ever say it. Ugh.

Temp Whore said...

I think that your name is your title and therefore people should respect that. If I called a VP an associate they would get pissed right? Also I think that people want to become to comfortable with you in the workplace and attempt to shorten your name leads them to also slack on pro behavior. Last but not least the attempt to shorten someones name can be also be a push to force them to assimilate and detach them their culture.

Temp Whore said...

I think that your name is your title and therefore people should respect that. If I called a VP an associate they would get pissed right? Also I think that people want to become to comfortable with you in the workplace and attempt to shorten your name leads them to also slack on pro behavior. Last but not least the attempt to shorten someones name can be also be a push to force them to assimilate and detach them their culture.

Cocoa Girl said...

Songstress - I do think you're safe...it's hard to find a nickname for Keemya.

NAH - Hiya! Long time no see. I really like your name. Although, I would want to punch someone if they shortened my stuff to Pasch. The one syll thing just drives me crazy for some odd reason.

Temp Whore - You make a very good point.

Overall, people want to shorten everyone's name at work. They even do it with easy to pronounce names like 'monique,' which equals Mo. I even did that one to her and she's my boss....LOL

nefertiti815 said...

Same here! My name is Jacqueline and I prefer to go by Jacqueline at the office! A colleague had the nerve to tell me that my name was too long to say(What!!???) I told this person in a "nice" way my Mother named me Jacqueline and that is what I go by enuff said... Since then I have been called Jacqueline ;)

Supa said...

Hmm...at the office I do my best to not refer to folks as "idiot asshole", "dumb whiny bitch", & "that annoying muthafucker", so I work hard to call everyone by their given names. I manage.

But in a casual setting, I am always guilty of shortening/and coming up with nicknames. No disrepect intended; I like to think of it as my own personal little christening...

Cocoa Girl said...

Nefertiti - I got ya...I know they try Jackie on ya every day. Why would anyone want to shorten something so fly as Jacqueline to Jackie. I think that it's one of the baddest b!tch names out there, along with Alexis.

Supa - I am sitting hear smiling and speechless. You are too crazy!

Supa said...

Cocoa: I'm in rare form this week. :) This morning, someone followed me into my office and said "I hate to impose on you when you're just walking in.."

I put my shit down, looked that the IDIOT ASSHOLE in the face and said "THEN DON'T."

tee-hee. Really, though...Give a sista a minute to sit down, check her blog and emails, DAMN!!!!

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