Sunday, February 12, 2012

#6: Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

If you're wondering if a name is important, just ask any parents about the experience of naming their child.  It's such an important decision.  Our names are one thing that stay with us for our entire life.  Our bodies age, our minds sharpen and fade, our personalities evolve... but our names stick around.  They often define who we are and where we came from.

As someone who has a fairly unique name, I have witnessed at least a half dozen spellings and pronunciations of my first name over the years.  It takes a special someone to spell and pronounce my name correctly.  And, trust me, I remember those people that do it right.  A Dale Carnegie participant once said it best in class, "When we remember a person's name, we assign value to that person."

With that in mind, this week I set out to greet every coworker by name.  There was no "hello" or "good morning."  It was "Hello Katie" and "Good morning Pete."    And you know what I realized?  By something as simple as adding someone's name to a greeting, you change a completely generic phrase to a completely personal greeting.  A one word addition.  It's that simple.

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of going to dinner with my friend, Emily, and her family.  Early on, our waiter asked if we had any questions.  Emily's mom responded, "I just have one question: what's your name?"  We learned that our waiter's name was Dan and that his 2nd grade teacher still remembers the amount of pens he stole and hid in his desk. Once we learned Dan's name, he was the friendliest, most helpful waiter I've had in a long time.  This was one of those restaurants where the wait staff sings and does silly dances like the macarena.  When it was time for the music, Dan was always right next to our table, belting his soul out.  Thanks to Dan's enthusiasum, Emery (Emily's 18-month old son) sat through an entire dinner with a big smile on his face!

Moral of the story: let's ask people their names and then remember them.  If we show others we value them, that value will come back to us.


  1. Pause, Part, Punch... You always have to remember the 3 P's.

  2. Mr/Ms. Anonymous, I'm not sure who you are but you are definitely a wise person who has some Dale Carnegie training in his/her background! You remind us of the importance of making sure that we give people an opportunity to remember our names correctly!

  3. I think this principle is more important than most people recognize. Your article does a great job of making the case. By the way, is that one r or two r's; one s or two s's? I'm sorry your mother and I complicated your life. But you are so right. Your name is unique - and still beautiful!

  4. A couple years ago, I had the fortune of sitting in a small audience listening to Scott Ginsberg, the "Name Tag Guy", talk about the power of a name. In his message he speaks to identity and approachability. We all want to be approachable right? Great post Marisa!

  5. Absolutely, we want to be approachable! I think that's what Dale Carnegie's principles are all about - building strong relationships so people feel comfortable coming to you and vice versa. Thanks for reading!