A friend who is a senior director at her company was upset when I met her for lunch. Her secretary had goofed up on the names of couple consultants while sending them the invitation to a company event. I initially brushed her off lightly saying that it was just a name and she should ignore it. She further explained that consultants are responsible for a lot of business projects that come to the company and the least thing to do was to get their names right!
As I came back ruminating about this faux pas, I realised that getting people’s names wrong isn’t that small a matter. A name is the most important and personal part of anyone’s identity. And getting it wrong on an email you send on behalf of your company from your official email is a double whammy. This can signal any one of the following:
You are too lazy and inconsiderate
You aren’t meticulous in your work
The client/associate isn’t important enough
Attention to detail is not your thing
You aren’t a thorough professional
Even Dale Carnegie reinforced in his magnum opus, How To Win Friends And Influence People,
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
It is definitely worth the effort to learn how a person’s name is pronounced and spelt (since email is an important part of our communication). In some cases, people may have a real name but might be popularly called by another, probably a nick name. Be sure about the name that should go on all official communication. Here are a few things to take care of about names:
1. Double check spellings. Ask someone who knows the clients well to check the names for you. This is important when you send out invitations on behalf of the company. (You can have a copy for future reference too)
2. Take of hyphens in double barrelled names. Eg: Allie-Louise
3. Use capital letters where relevant. Eg: John D’Costa
4. Take special care of names of clients from other countries
5. If you are meeting with them, honestly ask for the right pronunciation
6. Pay attention when people are being introduced. Really listen when people call you up and tell their name
These points cover the areas to take care of when you write mails to people. But what would you do if people keep getting your name wrong? While I was reading up for this post, I came across this interesting article on what to do when people misspell your name all the time. I recommend that you read the comments thread in its entirety since that’s where you see the different perspectives emerge. The frequency with which even simple names are misspelt points out at the enormity of this communication problem.
Here are a few things you can do help others get your name right:
1. Enunciation helps. Not that my name is very complicated but I have noticed that saying my name loud and clear the first name saves me from repeating it or people getting it wrong.
2. You can sign your name and put the correction in the bracket. If you read the comments link I mentioned earlier, the writer subtly corrects people by signing – Lynn (without an ‘e’) so that people can make note of it without having to directly point out.
3. Interrupt them the first time they get it wrong during the conversation. A little rude but it can save a lot of embarrassment later.
4. Be sympathetic. Cushion the blow by lightly adding that it happens all the time.
5. During the conversation, you can use your name in a sentence back to them – I thought, “Kat, What is it that you really want to do in life?”. This helps you reiterate the correct way to say your name.
Do you find yourself constantly struggling to remember names. Here are 5 easy tips to ensure that you become a pro at names.
Are you someone who has to correct others all the time about your name? How do you prefer to deal with this? Share your story with the readers and I’m sure they’ll have something to learn from you.