Listen, I’m not always great with names – just ask John. Oftentimes, he’ll say “oh I saw [fill in the blank] and I look at him with confused eyes not knowing who he’s talking about. Then, we have to go down this long, winding road about who it is and why I should know them. Sigh. I’m trying to get better but sometimes I get confused. Besides that occasional hiccup, I take pride in trying to get someone’s name correct. In case you don’t know: the importance of getting names right is one of the ultimate forms of respect. Let’s talk about this for a second.
I don’t have what you would call a “common” name like Lisa, Jennifer or Susan and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with having a different, unique or unusual name. I’m not insinuating that if you have a unique name, it’s OK for people to get it wrong. It’s not OK – no matter how common or unusual your name is.
Can I tell you one of my pet peeves?
It’s when people constantly get my name wrong. So the first time I have to correct someone, it’s totally fine. We all make mistakes and we’re human. No big deal. The second time, I’ll correct again but let’s be honest, I’m annoyed. The third time, I’m no longer interested in wasting my time making the correction. No, this isn’t me being hypersensitive or overreacting. This is me stressing the importance of getting names right. It’s something I need to make sure I do when speaking to people and I hope others give me the same respect.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to the Yes, Girl podcast. They had an interview with Bozoma Saint John. If you don’t know who she is, please look her up – she’s pretty bad ass. Anyway, in her interview she referenced her “rule”, so to speak, about people not getting her name right. Her philosophy was pretty simple. The third time having to correct someone, she’s done for the simple reason that you’re not invested. I like that. One of my email addresses has my name spelled correctly in the address. Yet, I still get many, many emails with my name spelled incorrectly. I think there’s a number of reasons for this but we’ll save that for another time.
The importance of getting names right
In that same podcast interview, Bozoma referenced a quote by Warsan Shire, which really sums up how I feel about getting names right.
Give your daughters difficult names. Give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. My name makes you want to tell me the truth. My name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.
So there you have it. My reason for wanting to get your name right and why I like when others do the same for me. Getting someone’s name correct, is a sign of respect and sign that you care. Let’s all do better.