what do you say - being called the wrong name

My name is Benita. Not Bonita, Bernita, Brenda, Belinda, Bettina, Breanna or Barbara……BUT…..those are the names that I have been called my entire life. I don’t know if people don’t listen or they just hear what is familiar to them. I say ‘Benita’, they call me ‘Bonita.’ I sign emails or letters ‘Benita’…. I get replies to ‘Bonita.’

The problem is - I never correct them. I don’t want to embarrass them or make them feel uncomfortable. It is awkward for me to set them right, so I say nothing.

What about people who feel entitled to give you nicknames? My son’s name is Alexander. He is called Alex all the time. You introduce yourself as Debra…they call you Debbie.

What do you say to politely tell someone they have called you the wrong name?

what do you say - forgetting someone's name

This has happened to me more often than I would like to admit. I have taken different approaches, depending on my reading of the situation. Generally, I tend to adopt the "honesty is the best policy" approach. I might say something along the lines of “…do you believe I can’t remember your name?!” In other circumstances, I have refocused the conversation to allow the two persons to take over – along the lines of “… have the two of you had the opportunity to introduce yourselves?” I expect that as we age we will face these dilemmas more frequently.

from Elissa

Your friend is dating/marrying a guy you really don't like. What do you say?

Readers advice:

  • You say very little, until she dumps him. Then, when she tells you that he is a jerk, you agree and tell her that she was too good for him. If you tell her that while they are dating, you risk losing a friend. You don't want to lie, but sometimes it is best to not say how you are really feeling.

  • SAY NOTHING!! I have been in this situation and as difficult as it has been, I have kept my mouth shut. In both cases I stayed close to my friends so that I could help when the marriage broke down (which it did).

  • .....Are you sure about this one??!!

What do you say?

You're at a party and talking to someone. You're running out of conversation with this person and want to speak with others. How do you get out of the situation without hurting the person's feelings?

Reflections from Cindi

It does bring to mind one personal story. My best friend in high school and university died of bone cancer in our third year university. She suffered for at least 18 months before that. She was most hurt when people who she considered friends just stopping talking to her because they were uncomfortable and didn't know what to say. She and I talked about it a lot and we concluded that saying nothing is not a good plan. No matter how hard it is, its best to say something, anything! I've always remembered that and try and live up to it (of course, its not foolproof and you can imagine why!)

On the other hand, when my Dad passed away, the greatest comfort came from people who (sadly) had already lost a parent. They said little but were just "there" because they intuitively just knew there were no adequate words to describe the grief or adequately provide comfort.

Good for you Benita! You've made me think of things (with a smile) that I haven't thought of in awhile. I am sure the blog is not going to be all about sad events. I look forward to watching your blog.


Advice from Katie Couric

Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of her husband's death in Newsweek magazine, Katie wrote:

"Even the word feels clunky and uncomfortable. 'Condolences.' No wonder so many of us are at a loss when dealing with loss. The right words can be such a salve for raw, unabating pain. So why is our biggest goal simply to fill up a note card or piece of stationery with enough words to get the whole exercise over with?
The next time you put pen to paper to express your sympathy, focus on a simple story, recollection or a brief encounter, a loving or funny memory. You will find a grateful recipient at the final resting place of that correspondence.”

I don't know what to say

Linda and I were having coffee the other day, chatting about nothing in particular, when she burst into tears. “I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. Taken by surprise, I hugged her and mumbled something that I hoped was meaningful. I felt ashamed that I could not say something more appropriate.

We are regularly faced with circumstances – sad, awkward, surprising, complex – and we just don’t know how to respond. Your friend is diagnosed with a serious illness. Your colleague is mourning the loss of someone close. Your sister is separating from her husband. What do you say? What comforting words or gestures will express the concern and empathy that you feel in your heart?

When someone we care about is hurting, our compassion compels us to reach out. Words can have a profound impact. They can reassure. They can console. They can comfort. They can raise spirits. They can make a difference.

But what are those words? Who hasn’t searched for the phrase that perfectly expresses our feelings, and ended up settling for ‘I don’t know what to say.’

What is the right thing to say? Do you have some special words that work for you? Has anyone ever said something to you in a time of crisis that was meaningful?

I am hoping that people will share their stories and advice on how to respond in troubled times.