Monday, September 12, 2011

Manners Monday: Knowing Names

If you follow me on Facebook, you'll remember I mentioned last week that I would  be writing another manners Monday post based on recent personal experiences just like last Monday's post about speaking in another language in front of others. Today's post is all about names.

Ever since I was a little girl, people have wanted to spell my name with a "C". I suppose it's the more common spelling. For as long as I can remember, when someone was taking down my name, I've had to say "Karla with a 'K' ".  To this day I still receive mail with my name spelled incorrectly. When it's mail from a stranger or the result of mass mailing I don't think twice about it but when acquaintances do not take the time to spell my name correctly, especially in the case of social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter which have a name listed on the very page, it comes across as lazy and that they couldn't be bothered, which is really no different than sending a document without having spell checked it first.

In certain situations you might meet someone at a conference or event that you've never met before and aren't sure of the pronunciation for their name. There's nothing wrong with asking, in fact it shows interest in the other person and that you care so they won't be offended but rather will appreciate your efforts.

A month ago, after I began my training with my new company, I was introduced to a few people I'd be working closely with. I was careful to try to remember their names and in one case a young lady named 'Andrea' had me wondering whether she was 'An-dree-a' or 'Ahn-dray-a', since she never actually introduced herself to me, she just focused on the training. I learned it was the latter and was glad I had asked. She said she'll answer to either and isn't picky but I know some people can be and I wanted to make a good impression and make her feel comfortable.

Whenever you can, take the extra five seconds and confirm the spelling if you're not 100% sure. Knowing someones name and the proper spelling as well as pronunciation makes people feel good. Everyone likes to be addressed by their proper name.

Likewise, it's equally important to call someone by name when you see them. The old, "Hey, good to see you. How are you?" can always get you out of a bind but if this is your standard greeting every time you bump into the same person, it will be obvious you don't know their name. Take the time and ask by saying, "I'm so sorry, I've forgotten your name. Can you please remind me what it is?". They'll be happy to tell you what it is. Be sure to associate their name with something you'll remember or they might be insulted the next time you meet if you still cannot remember their name. I've been guilty of the 'Hi! It's so good to see you again!' when I've forgotten someones name. Remembering names has not been my forte so if I'm at a friend's party or with my hubby, I'll quietly ask for the name if I can before having to ask the person in question directly.

Being called by the wrong name has actually happened to me a lot this past month as I've met over 50 new colleagues. I've been mistaken for another new blond colleague multiple times, one time I was handed her paycheck in error and had to remind the person who gave it to me that I was not 'Holly'. Other times, they've asked me to remind them of my name. I try to make it easy for others by telling them, "It's Karla, just think of cars" since that's the industry that I'm now apart of. This seems to have worked well. I remember watching The Bachelor a few seasons ago and sweet little Tenley Molzahn was sure to not get forgotten in the crowd by telling Jake her name was 'Tenley, like the number ten'. So, if this happens to you a lot, you might want to liken your name to something others will remember or provide a shortened version that is easier if you're first name is really long.

Whenever I leave a comment for a blogger, a new acquaintance or even meet a new colleague, I try to be mindful of remembering their name and using the proper spelling. Sometimes in the case of blogs, the author's name isn't listed, so just begin with, "Hello" or use their blog name instead.

What are your thoughts on names? Do you have a name that also gets misspelled or mispronounced?

*images: google


  1. Goodmorning Karla,
    I so know what you mean! When I for example sent an e-mail, signing with my name...Lynda, and then get an answer back, starting with Hello Linda....I sigh and turn away for a minute....I think it's a shame....and shows us , many people just don't read!!!;)
    Have a wonderful week!


  2. Hi Karla,

    I know exactly what you mean. My name is Deborah and I often get Debra. Which does really annoy me that people just automatically assume its the latter.

    Its even more annoying when you put out a press release with the local paper with your name spelt correctly and find it written incorrectly when it goes to print.

    I hope you are enjoying your new job.
    Deb x

  3. I love this post Karla. I remember being told, or reading somewhere, that using a person's name frequently when talking to them or writing to them, has more impact than not using their name at all. It is so true. I have "tested" this theory many times, and the more you use a person's name (in an authentic way), the quicker a relationship develops.When I worked as a Criminal Psychologist, I would do the opposite-not use the subjects name too many times as a way of creating distance/a barrier. Living in Spain, I am constantly asking people for the proper pronounciation of their name. I prefer that, than not asking; some people are just too shy to tell you that you are pronouncing their name incorrectly.
    Good luck with the new job Karla xx

  4. Good Monday morning to you Karla. I find it easier to remember names on blogs because I always add the person's name in front of their link on my link list:)

    I understand it when someone new doesn't know how to spell my name. But I really hate it when someone I know spealls it wrong. I even had a boyfriend do that once - showed me how little he really cared!

    I do not have a great memory for names, and am slow to learn, i.e. our local Cheesecake Factory has 50 employees, and I probably only know abut ten of their names, even though I go there frequently.
    But I also know that unless I write things down, I forget it too!

    It's always polite - and nice - to call someone by name. And to spell it correctly. I am enjoying your manners posts:)

  5. This is a wonderful post! I have always thought it is very important and respectful of the person to correctly spell and pronounce names. I've been called Shirley, Shelley, and Sheila, and people have spelled my name numerous ways, even after they'd seen the correct way my name is spelled. I try my best to spell everyone's name correctly, especially at work, because I want our clients (and coworkers) to feel valued and respected. I once worked in an office where the owner's daughter's name was "Andrya." ...When I would give him phone messages from her, I'd make sure to always spell her name with the "y." He told me that I was the only office employee that had spelled her name correctly, even on phone messages or small Post-it Notes, and he appreciated this! A lot of people don't think it's a big deal, but I think spelling and pronouncing names correctly is very important and is a sign of respect. Thanks for a great post, Karla! :)

  6. Thanks for this post, Karla. My maiden name is German and I couldn't wait to get married, so I'd have a name everyone could say and spell. Alas, I married a man whose last name is the French derivative of a Hungarian name. When we lived in a small town in NC, I had to spell my surname, my street name, and the town's name! So glad we've moved!

  7. I've heard it recommended that when you meet someone that repeating their name back helps you remember it later. I've had situations where people have called me the wrong name (usually Kathy, not sure why) several times even after I gently tell them my name. It does make me feel that they don't view me as very important. Good reminder Karla.

  8. Karla,

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I love my name (Alexandra) but I can't tell you how many times people call me Alexander (the male version of my name!)! Because of the confusion around my name, I always try to get people's names right. The tips you shared are so useful and I will give them a try at the next social gathering I attend :)


  9. Hi Ladies, thanks for commenting and sharing about your own names. :)

    @Alexandra-That would be so frustrating! I'm always careful to not call a Samantha, 'Sam' or a Alexandra, 'Alex' unless they ask others to call them by those names.

    @Cinderlla11pm-Good thinking on the blog list with names! That's a great reminder.

    For some of you I've responded via direct email where blogger allows me to. I enjoyed reading all of your comments!



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