i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Do you let people call you by a nickname?

Do you let people shorten your name?

I have told people who called me Pam. “You are not my mother. You don’t get to name me. My name is Pamela, not Pam.”

“Are you hard of hearing? Pam, is not what I said.”

I have written a whole story about my name, Please call me Pamela, not Pam. When it comes to my name, I am easily annoyed and will always correct people. The only person I haven’t corrected is my plastic surgeon. She has a scalpel. I want her to be happy.

A few days ago, my friend Jessica, sent me an article Joh Steinberg, President and Chief Operating Officer at BuzzFeed wrote, Why You Should Let People  Call You by a Nickname. 

She said, “I am not suggesting you use a nickname. Just sharing the article.”

The hackles were already up on my back. I was ready to go down fighting with my can of Pam spray in my right hand. I am the fool they talk about in the book of proverbs. Maybe that’s the problem. I consider someone shortening my name an insult, when they just wanted to be a friend.

A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
Proverbs 12:16

Ten years ago Jon Steinberg decided he valued closeness more than he valued his formal name, and he decided to use the name Jon rather than Jonathon. In his article he made the hypothesis that short names are a contributing factor in business success.

Perhaps Steinberg is right, a shortened name might contribute to business success. Business success would be nice, but I am starting to realize I need to more concerned about other people’s feeling than my own. The article made me think of how I make other people feel when I correct them about my name. I want to be kind more than I want to be right.

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
Henry James

I want to make friends and have people feel comfortable. I will hold my tongue when my name is shortened. However I will still introduce myself as Pamela, and go by Margaret when I order coffee.

Do you let people shorten your name.

Do you let people call you by a nickname?

If I have ever corrected you when you called me Pam, please accept my apology. I do want to be your friend.

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

Feature Box

Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Pamela Goderski

    I too, prefer Pamela. I will gently correct a person several times. It is particularly effective when someone introduces me to someone else as Pam. I then say, actually I prefer Pamela. My favorite was introducing myself to someone named Richard, he said “nice to meet you Pam.”. My response was “nice to meet you Dick. Touche!

    • Hello Pamela,
      I love your favorite response. Did Dick correct you?
      The funny thing is when someone else tells me not to shorten their name, and then they shorten mine.

      • Pamela Goderski

        Exactly. Richard said “it’s Richard”. And I said “it’s PamELA.”. He didn’t say anything. No chuckle, no apology (crickets chirping).

        • Pamela,
          Your response is very polite. I have asked, “Are you my mother?”
          “No,” they reply. Oh, my mother named me, and it is Pamela, not Pam.

  • My dearest Mrs. Hodges. I would never call you Pam. I understand not wanting to have your name shortened. At least your nickname is a non-stick spray, my real name is Pooh, which sounds like Poo.
    Oh, and will you type my story tomorrow morning please? I have been trying to type with my tail and it just doesn’t work.

  • I went by Anastacia until 4th grade when my best friend called me “Stacie” in front of my teacher. My family and church friends called me “Stacie”. I tried to beg my teacher to call me “Anastacia” but she wouldn’t listen from then on I gave everyone the option. You can call me “Anastacia” or “Stacie”. I even had a teacher call me “Ann”. I’ve never “Ana”. Although Jeff Goins did suggest it for a web address. I guess I just got used to nick names. I mainly go by “Anastacia” online because that’s the name I want to see on a book cover some day.

  • Pamela, I have mixed feelings about this. I read the article you referenced and it is very compelling. But my counter-cultural, nonconformist self says people should be allowed to call themselves whatever they like. I don’t have any nicknames, and have always wanted to be called Kathleen, not Kathy or Kate. Maybe I should have been more easy-going. My husband does call me Kat.

    • Kathleen, I have mixed feelings about this as well. The biggest thing I want to change is my attitude. Perhaps I just have to SMILE when I correct people.
      Perhaps that is why we get along so well, we are both woman who don’t like our names shortened.
      My first words to my husband after I introduced myself to him were, “My name is Pamela not Pam.” So, I don’t offend everyone.

  • Good to not get annoyed, but reasonable to choose to be called what your name is. I will still call you Pamela, unless you mess with me…then I will start chipping those letters off the end…grrrr

    • Perhaps the biggest change I need to make is in my attitude. Several people when they comment on my blog will “Pam” me. I don’t want to make them feel bad.
      However the “Pam Virus,” is easily spread. One person starts to call you Pam at church, and before you know it, you are Pam FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
      Should I tattoo “ela” on my chin?
      I promise to always call you Christa.

      • Pamela Goderski

        I usually just say: actually, I prefer Pamela…then see if they care enough to make the effort.

        • Pamela Goderski

          When I need to do a quick signature, I do “P’la.”

  • Elsie

    I forgot to add, are you torturing coffee workers by making them write such a long name? Ha, ha!

    • Yes, I am. Always fun to see how they spell it. Margaret or Margarat.

  • Elsie

    My name is never spelled right, but I don’t let it bother me. I have many names and I answer to them all. You know Elsie is not my name but actually my initials, right? It is my writing/blogging name. I think of myself a bit like MarkTwain. 🙂

    • Mark Twain. I like that. Elsie Twain? Yes, I knew that was your blogging name. I forget your real name. Perhaps I just need more names. My mother calls me Gertrude, a few friends call me Mapela, and my brother calls me Pam.

  • Janelle


    • My favorite name. I like to pretend to be a character in a movie.

  • Powerful Post Pamela! lmc