The Name Game: Why Names Means More Than You Think

“I’m sorry, I am horrible with names.” We have all been guilty of and/or heard this statement at one time or another. While forgetting names is an understandable, honest mistake, it can also be a rather embarrassing moment. Aside from embarrassment, the act of remembering or forgetting one’s name can play a much larger role than most of us realize. When holding a leadership position, it is important that we understand the importance of name recall and usage as it relates greatly to the process of earning respect and trust among our followers.

The truth is, remembering one’s name is just half of the battle. Even more important is the usage of one’s name when speaking to them. When we can effectively use someone’s name when we speak to them or give instructions, we immediately give that person a sense of comfort and improved self-esteem. I can recall this from my time as a young employee. I remember I took a job cleaning office buildings during the evenings while I was in college. My boss wasn’t particularly the nicest guy in the world but I always appreciated the fact that he used my name when he instructed me. For example, he would always say, “Ok, Zach” before giving any instruction. While this may sound like such a minor concept, you would be amazed how much more serious I took his words just based on the fact that I respected him for 1) Remembering my name, and 2) Using it while addressing me. I have also noticed that this process works great while engaging in normal conversation. When talking to somebody, I always find the experience more personable when someone adds my name before explaining a specific topic. For example, they would always say, “You know Zach” before going off on a tangent about a personal or past experience. This likely unintentional act automatically caused me to become more engaged in the conversation and take whatever they said into deeper consideration.

The bottom line is, humans want to feel wanted & appreciated. We desire to be addressed by our names because it lets us know that we are recognized and important. This is no different in the corporate world. While business may be considered a very impersonal, bland and blunt process, effective leaders understand the importance of adding a personal touch to this process. Understand that the recall and application of names will likely play a large part in defining one’s respectability, credibility and overall impact within a leadership role. Therefore, do not take this idea lightly. Don’t accept the the norm by simply saying, “I’m sorry, I am horrible with names.” Effective leaders stress the importance of reaching each individual on a personal level. Mastering the name game is a great way to start. The power within a name is truly greater than we realize.

Published by Zachary Paul Hoffman

I am a former professional athlete, tri-lingual, Italian/American duel-citizen and aspiring modern-day leadership development expert.

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