Having a Title Twin at Work Is Laborious, Simply Ask Chris Smith. And Chris Smith.

“Inside the first two sentences I used to be, like, oh my gosh, it’s a love letter,” she says.

The crush confession was meant for any person else: Carol Kim, a co-worker with a virtually similar work e-mail deal with. Realizing the mix-up, Caroline felt mortified by affiliation, barely amused and fully relieved to have scored the coveted “ckim” e-mail deal with.

“Thank God, I obtained right here first,” Caroline says she thought. (She’s since married, grow to be Caroline Kim Oh and switched jobs.) “I don’t need individuals getting my emails.”

Having a reputation doppelgänger on the workplace could be perilous enterprise. Again in elementary faculty, the place so many people have been used to being one among three within the class, sharing a reputation was largely a minor annoyance. (Couldn’t you’ve picked one thing cool, Mother?)

Then the Jens and Mikes of the world grew up, joined corporations and began receiving sealed envelopes containing excruciatingly detailed efficiency critiques. And immediate messages demanding to know why they weren’t within the assembly. (What assembly?) And gives of sky-high salaries from recruiters on LinkedIn. None of it’s meant for them.

“You’re form of, like: Is that this me? Is that this about me?” says Chris Smith, as soon as one among seven Chris Smiths at a media firm the place he labored as a software program engineer. There, the Chris Smiths shaped an instant-message group to swap mysterious calendar invitations. Who was truly imagined to go to this week’s Lunch and Be taught?

Mr. Smith, of Burbank, Calif., suspects he was as soon as handed over for an worker award as a result of he cut up the votes with one other Chris Smith within the working. Whereas working in Hong Kong for a big tech firm, he obtained a name in the course of the night time berating him for spending $3,000 on…what? (It was one other Chris Smith’s fault.)

Most painful is perhaps the good-news emails meant for another person: the Chris Smith in New Jersey who was planning to lease a whole citadel in England, the co-worker being promoted to supervisor.

“I felt like I used to be getting a promotion,” Mr. Smith says wistfully, recalling the congratulatory observe in his inbox. The comedown from these fleeting emotions is just like the envy induced by scrolling by way of somebody’s seemingly excellent life on social media, he provides—however worse.

“It appears a lot extra private,” he says. “A man with the identical title as me appears to be doing very well proper now.”

Hey, that’s my title

Our names are anchors of our id, says David Zhu, a professor of administration and entrepreneurship at Arizona State College who’s studied how chief executives’ names have an effect on their choices at work.

“When you’ve one other one that exhibits up in your social circle or office with the identical title, the individuality disappears,” Dr. Zhu says. “That’s, certainly, threatening.”

Anybody can have a reputation twin—even you. Throughout Chandler Perry’s first day at McKinsey & Co., she was inundated with texts from colleagues who knowledgeable her {that a} man on the introductory Zoom name was utilizing her title.

“Perhaps you need to have them get that fastened,” they informed her. There was nothing to repair. He was Chandler Perry, too, a white man primarily based within the consulting agency’s Denver workplace. Ms. Perry, a Black lady, was primarily based in Atlanta.

Lengthy the lone Chandler in every single place, Ms. Perry relished lastly having somebody to commiserate with over a lifetime spent fielding jokes about Chandler Bing, performed by Matthew Perry within the present “Buddies.”

Sooner or later final spring, she flew to the corporate’s New York workplace for conferences and was held up downstairs for an hour by safety. They knowledgeable her that somebody together with her title had already checked into the constructing. A few days later, the Chandler Perrys lastly united within the workplace.

“We simply couldn’t cease hugging. When individuals walked previous, we have been, like, we’ve the identical title!” says Ms. Perry, who just lately departed McKinsey.

We’re two individuals, actually

Whereas reporting this column, I joined a video chat with two Kaylans, attempting, futilely, to maintain them straight in my notes with labels similar to “glasses” and “contacts.” I linked with an Allison Jackson at a tax agency, solely to comprehend 10 minutes into the dialog that she wasn’t the Allison Jackson I’d noticed on LinkedIn.

Yep, she mentioned. She retains getting credit score for that Allison’s gross sales in a web-based dashboard.

Startup co-founders Zaheer Mohiuddin and Zuhayeer Musa spend the start of practically each name with clients clarifying that they’re, in actual fact, two totally different individuals.

“They see the Z’s. They see the M’s. They see the ‘eers,’” Mr. Mohiuddin says.“We’re, like, oh yeah, we’re separate.”

Mr. Musa as soon as obtained banned from a Reddit group the place he posted an announcement in regards to the firm, after Mr. Mohiuddin posted, too. The moderator thought they have been one individual attempting to recreation the system with a number of usernames. They defined the state of affairs, however the moderator didn’t purchase it.

After years of being worn down, some individuals are simply resigned to being another person at work.

When Mike Sander confirmed up for a previous job as a commodities dealer, he was unsurprised to seek out that his boss was named Mike.

“What are you going to go by?” his colleagues requested. The final man in his job, they defined, was named Mike, too—so, naturally, he had passed by Rick.

Mr. Sander modified his work title to “The Senator,” a nickname he utilized in faculty after being elected to pupil authorities to tell apart himself from the opposite eight Mikes in his fraternity.

When somebody referred to as out, “Mike!” within the workplace, he wouldn’t even flip his head.