The value of a name

“I don’t know how she does it!” my friend gushed. She works in an entry-level position for a large corporation, in an office with hundreds of employees. But when she runs into one of the vice presidents in the office—or out in the community—the woman always says “Hello” and calls my friend by name.

Clearly that one simple act makes a huge impression.

Making the effort to learn the names of people several rungs below you on the organizational chart, and to greet those people personally, shows you care about them as individuals.

Test yourself:

  • Do you know the name of the receptionist in your building? In the building of your key contacts?
     
  • Can you name the most recent person hired in your organization or office? Have you welcomed that person to the team?
     
  • If you work so late the cleaning crew comes in, do you know the name of the person who empties your trash can? Have you ever said anything to that person?
     
  • How well do you know the primary assistants for your key contacts?

Relationships count in business, and one of the first steps to building them is to remember and use people’s names.

What strategies do you use for remembering names?

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2 Responses to The value of a name

  1. Catherine says:

    Prior to taking an education class in college, I was asked to come in and take a photo. The education classes often modeled activities and strategies they wanted us to use in our own teaching, so I figured the picture would be used for a bulletin board or something similar. I was shocked–as was the rest of the 150+ person class–when on the first day, the professor called on every single student who raised his/her hand to ask a question or contribute by his/her first name. It was incredible. Apparently he’d studied each student’s photo and learned all of our names before he even met us.

    I’m reading comedy writer/actress Mindy Kaling’s memoir right now, and she has a funny little section about how it shouldn’t be socially acceptable to say you’re not good with names (something I’ve been guilty of in the past): “No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.’”

    Thanks for this post. It’s a good reminder that I want to be more like that professor and less like the kind of person Mindy describes. :)

  2. Those stories should inspire everyone to make remembering people’s names a priority. Thanks for sharing, Catherine!

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