An Allan by another spelling…

Not quite an effective variant on Shakespeare, but I try.

So my name is Allan Chen.  It is the least common of the three frequent ways to spell my given name – Allen and Alan are far more common.  I honestly have never cared when people have spelled my name wrong.  I don’t bother correcting people or anything.  However, it has been a problem lately, as at work e-mail addresses and names are auto-filled and there is an Allen Chan here, which of course shows up right away if you spell my first name wrong and it sure looks about right as a full name, too.  Recently, someone sent a meeting invitation to this other person, and earlier this year someone sent a whole series of e-mails to him before it was determined that it was the wrong person.

Now I’m confronted with a bit of a dilemma.  I have never made a deal about the spelling of my name, but it has proven to be an actual problem.  So do I start going around telling everyone how to spell it?  Do I come off sounding like I’ve been offended by it?  Ugh.

One thing that has always surprised me is that people don’t notice the mistake.  Especially in e-mail exchanges.  If you think about how e-mail responses are formatted, with the original text quoted below the next text, you have something like this:

blah blah


>hello allen

blah blah previous e-mail

So there’s the correct spelling right above the wrong spelling.  Yet I’ve gotten maybe 5 e-mails my entire electronic life where people have noticed the diference and commented/apologized for it.

Comments (2)

  1. Dylan Salisbury

    Hey Allan,

    Interesting issue! It seems like Allen Chan might be your an resource on this issue 🙂 Also, this might be an interesting way to notice whether people you meet are detail-oriented (if someone has been referring to you Alan for a year, is that the right person to do the final editing on your capstone paper?)

    Wondering if I ever got it wrong and didn’t notice,


  2. kaiyen (Post author)

    I actually got an e-mail today from one of my own direct reports that spelled my name 2 different ways. In that one email. At least one of them was right. Even that doesn’t bother me (don’t ever call me Al, though), but it is intriguing how people struggle, apparently, to remember how to spell my name correctly.

    I haven’t noticed whether it’s a detail-oriented issue or not. I suppose if it were a name that commonly has different spellings…Katherine vs. Catherine, for instance, people would take note of that more often.

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