You Can Call Me Al

I had a conversation with a salesperson one time that got off to a bad start. Very often sales types start off by trying to move much too quickly to a level of intimacy that they are not really entitled to. This guy was no exception. He started off and without taking a breath said something like “Hello Alfred. Your friends call you Al? Can I call you Al?”

I replied that “My friends call me Alfred but you can call me Al.” It threw him off his game which made me very happy.

I don’t go by “Al.” And if fact I know very few people named “Alfred” who like “Al” as a nickname/diminutive.  Many of them put up with it anyway (my Dad does) just because it is the path of least resistance. I never have. “Al” is short for “Allen/Alan” or “Albert” but it is not, in my mind, short for “Alfred.”  “Alf” is short for “Alfred” and I’m a lot more accepting of that though few people use it for me. Those people are almost all close family and I don’t generally invite people to use “Alf.”

I find that people generally want to be addressed by the name they introduce themselves with. I introduce myself as “Alfred.” And that is the name I recognize as mine. In fact one time I was walking though a mall with friends and one of them said “I think that person is calling you.” It turned out that someone I knew (a more or less work relationship) was calling me but they were calling “Al.” I would no more hear that as someone calling me than I would if they have been calling “Charley.”

Speaking of “Charley” I once worked with a salesman who insisted on calling one person we called on for business as “Charley.” He introduced himself as “Charles” and all his co-workers called him “Charles.” I pointed this out one day and the salesmen blew it off saying “he likes being called “Charley.” It didn’t seem that way to me but well we didn’t get the business. Was that a factor? Who knows. But I do know that someone who calls me “Al” is pretty unlikely to get my business.

4 Responses to “You Can Call Me Al”

  1. Alec Couros says:

    I’ve had the same issue, less ‘Al’ and more ‘Alex’ (which sounds possessive or plural from the relative point of Alec). 🙂

  2. I have the same problem. HATE Kathy. I always introduce myself, sign my signature, etc. with Kathleen. I’ll put up with Kath if you have to shorten it, but prefer Kathleen.

    Even my email address tells people that!

  3. I don’t have too much of an issue with being called “Pat”. I do introduce myself as Patrick and do enjoy being called Patrick, but it doesn’t bug me when I’m called “Pat”.

    Patty, however, is where I draw the line

  4. Matt says:

    I’m somewhat ambivalent about Matt/Matthew. More often than not, my friends call me Matt, and my family calls me Matthew, but I get tripped up on how to introduce myself. I think it’s most accurate to say that I mirror what the people around me call me. The real hard part is that I get asked, “Do you {go by, prefer} Matt or Matthew?” a lot. It always seems strange that I don’t have an answer to that, since people are probably expecting me to set the precedent.

    As for sales calls, I don’t even waste my time talking to them anymore. Even after you explain that you have no use for what they’re purchasing, that you’re not in the market for anything related, and that you wouldn’t be at all involved in the purchasing process anyway, they keep on calling. If we didn’t run .NET last week, we probably haven’t switched this week.

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