Dear A; A Rather British Guide To Basic Communication Skills


Five easy steps to stop you from making people want to punch you in the face; helpfully demonstrated by the many faces of Phú the cat.

Here is one of the nine offending emails.

I got an email today, I am almost positive it was for me because of the content it contained, but it was addressed rather mysteriously to someone called ‘A’. This mail came from one of the most senior, unapologetically old-school members of our company, so I found myself perplexed; maybe it was a momentary slip, a lapse in better judgement you’re thinking, perhaps he was trying to be hip, down with the kids? Nope. The same thing has happened at least nine times… NINE!

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

Dear A, or simply A, is how they start.

Dear A, I have been in a freak accident and chopped off all of my fingers, I am typing this with a stick blue-tacked to my head, so please forgive me for abbreviating your name.

A, I am in such a horrible rush. I didn’t have time to write your entire name; it would have made me late.

A, I have been struck down with a rare tropical disease that stops me from having control over my vowels and consonants. I was only able to get out the first capital letter.

Did I ever receive any such explanation? I did not, further leading me to believe this heinous act was deliberate!

My parents went to a great deal of effort to come up with a brilliant name for me, so imagine my horror when people decide to call me something different, without even asking. Worse still when they are unable to use the name at all, just the letter A.

I should add to this that mispronouncing my name is different, that doesn’t count. It’s a tricky name, my sibling had to call me ‘Sissy’ until she could get the hang of it, and that’s fine, it shows willing. What I cannot abide is the presumption that it’s ok to decide without even consulting me.

It would seem this level of arrogance is rather commonplace these days and is often combined with other borderline offensive qualities such as stupidity, laziness, and all-round obnoxiousness. This creates a dangerous level of overfamiliarity and can lead to a variety of issues possibly resorting in extreme violence, all of which are otherwise almost entirely avoidable. Just follow this simple guide, and you will reach communication Shangri-La making you so bulletproof that even the most British of humans and cats will be fooled.

We’re here to judge you and help you, mostly the judging part. Love Phú and Ozzy.

Shall we begin?

Phú says NO!

1. DO NOT Abbreviate Names To One Letter

Once I got over my initial excitement of it being somewhat mysterious, the rage began to boil up inside. When exactly did this become acceptable? At what point in time did it become ok to remove someone’s name almost entirely? Most commonly, I have found this happens in emails or the end of a text message. It’s just lazy, and what does this say about the exchange? It means that this person can’t be bothered; the result is that it p*sses me off and is, therefore, a terrible way to build up a rapport with me, or with any potential client for which they might use the same approach. It will take you at most (if you are a sh*tty slow typer) a couple of seconds, probably more like a fraction of, and it will be the difference between a budding relationship and a venomous slating about that dreadful douche canoe that can’t even be bothered to type your name correctly. And who wants to be that douche canoe?


2. It Is Imperative You Spell The Receivers Name Correctly

Such a rookie mistake! Nothing irks me more than when I receive an email, and they have spelt my name wrong. MY NAME IS THE EMAIL ADDRESS (You total and utter moron) THERE IS THE CLUE! Just copy it, copy and paste is your friend! Seriously, anyone can manage that even with the most complicated of names, it’s not that hard, is it? Come on people you can do it!

3. Do Not Rely On The Autocorrect

Typically a helpful tool, when it comes to names, it can be the polar opposite, more of a stealth nemesis if you will. It is not up to autocorrect to make decisions on people’s names. Although some suggestions are funny, even cute, a particular favourite of mine was ‘Anorak’, it is a risky game. Imagine my horror when I opened up that job offer, and it began Dear Arousal? After I had cleaned up the coffee I had projected all over my desk, given myself a little shake, and reviewed the email from below the line where my name was situated could I revel in my success. (in between the occasional shudder) To this day I am scarred by this mail.

What did you call me?

4. Do Not Abbreviate Someone’s Name Without Asking

It’s rude, overfamiliar, and has the potential to open a can of worms so big it could feed a well-stocked lake full of catfish for months. You have no idea what sort of painful flashbacks it could incite from the time your new acquaintance was bullied relentlessly at school. Just politely ask — ‘hey Jane, is it ok if I call you J for short?’ And I use that as an example deliberately as it now seems to be quite commonplace to abbreviate a one-syllable name to a one-syllable letter. I mean it is tricky to pronounce, isn’t it? That nnn sound… Of course, it is not; it’s f*cking ridiculous, that’s what it is, but hey if you asked and Jane doesn’t mind then sure, you knock yourself out.

There there, it’s going to be ok.

5. Don’t Get All Wounded When They Reject Your Request To Shorten Their Name

Just don’t. You did the right thing; you asked the question. Chances are they only allow nicknames from special people, friends, relatives that sort of thing. It’s the first time you’ve met them, and it’s too soon. Five minutes of knowing each other and you are asking to shorten their name to something only their baby sister uses. Maybe it does stir some unpleasant memories from their youth; it was a pet name from an ex they now hate, perhaps it’s a terrible abbreviation, or maybe they quite simply like their name and don’t understand why you should need to shorten it you obnoxious f*ckwit. Whatever it is, just respect it, and maybe if you behave yourself, over time, you’ll be betrothed with the right to call them that name only saved for the elite.

Ahh… Shangri-La


Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule, so I should point out that if someone is to introduce themself with an abbreviated name, a nickname or so on then it’s perfectly acceptable to address them with this, they probably have a pretty legitimate reason for doing so. In the same way, it’s a little overfamiliar to start abbreviating someone’s name without asking, it is a bit intrusive to ask why they are shortening theirs, so maybe leave that till a little further down the line, and you’ll be golden!

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