I have a co-worker who prefers to go by her nickname instead of her given one. She is very insistent about it and gets annoyed if people don’t comply. The problem is that it’s pretty unprofessional and a little demeaning. Think “Dumplin’.” There are quite a few people in our office who refuse to use the nickname, including the manager. In almost any other circumstance I would just use whichever name someone preferred and think nothing of it, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable to call a grown woman Dumplin’, especially one who’s older than me and a colleague. I have had my own issues in this industry with people calling me “sweetheart” and “darling,” which is probably connected. Is it wrong for me to call her by her given name at work? If so, how do I get around my own discomfort when using her nickname?
—A Bridge Too Far