Getting Someone’s Name Wrong Could Cost You More Than Embarrassment

When it comes to names, I’ve found there are two types of people in life:

1. Those who don’t mind what you call them or how you spell their name
2. Those who do

I’m firmly in the second camp (as anyone who’s ever had the misfortune to call me Jenny knows.)

For me, taking the time to pronounce and spell someone’s name correctly is a basic courtesy that instantly conveys respect. And that can have a tremendously positive effect on how others perceive your personal brand.

If you don’t bother though, you could be starting off your relationship with a clear sign of disrespect – or at least that’s how it could be taken if someone values their name.

What happens when you get it wrong…

To illustrate my point, you may have read recently about the US chat show host Ellen De Generes who mispronounced a woman’s name in order to make a boob joke. It’s backfired though, as the lady in question – Titi Pierce (pronounced Tee Tee) – is suing her for being ridiculed.

Now, if you’re someone who sits in that first group above – the ones who don’t give a fig about their name – you may be thinking, “Geez, some people should lighten up!” And you may be right.

I do feel a bit of a little-miss-bossy-pants when someone calls me Jenny and I reply with, “Actually, I’d prefer it if you’d call me Jennifer.” But the alternative (that every time they call me Jenny I feel like I’m a little kid again) is worse.

I’ve even had a conversation with a woman who told me her boss has been calling her entirely the wrong name the whole time they’ve been working together, as she didn’t have the courage to correct them in the first instance.

What should you do?

By their very definition, names are an intrinsically personal thing, so even if you don’t feel precious about yours, always assume someone cares about theirs, using these three tips to guide you:

Tip 1.

If you’re emailing or writing to them, double check you have the correct spelling.

Tip 2.

If someone introduces themselves to you, take note of the exact way they said their name and replicate that.

Tip 3.

If you’re not sure how to pronounce someone’s name, ask them. Even if you don’t get it right straight away, they’ll be pleased you’re making the effort.

It’s a little thing that can make a huge difference, so why not take a second longer to get it right.

Why not leave a comment below to let me know which camp you’re in? Do you care about how your name is spelled/pronounced or do you think it’s not worth getting your knickers in a twist about? Or better still, why not share some of the ways people have got your name wrong!

Like this? Share it or join in the discussion…

2 responses to “Getting Someone’s Name Wrong Could Cost You More Than Embarrassment”

  1. Michele says:

    Well I am in the it totally peeves me category when even HR cannot be bothered to check and get spelling correct.
    My name is spelt with one L. That’s right M I C H E L E. Doesn’t matter how many times I spell it out. Doesn’t matter how many times I reiterate that Michele has only ONE L. They will still happily ignore my wasted breath and go on their merry little ignorant way and spell it the way they want to.

    Yes I have missed out on very important emails, jobs, interviews, news, lots of things – simply because people are ignorant and do NOT check the spelling of someones name before hitting that send button, let alone reading what they have written.

    I even had a head master at school tell me that I was wrong and that my parents were wrong and did not know what they were doing when they completed my birth certificate.

    The older I get the more it infuriates me to the point of me now calling other people random names like Cecil, or Dorothy, or Cedric or Gertie or Bertha just to name a few – and when they say something I reply that it doesn’t matter if my name doesn’t matter.

  2. […] that names are important, right? (Or if you don’t, I recommend you take a minute to read my previous blog post.) To many people, though not everyone, having someone say their name correctly is a sign of […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Related posts

Making A Public Apology – Yes? or No?

Read more

Handshake, Hug or Kiss: How To Take Control

Read more

3 Ways To Spot A Bad Handshake

Read more

Latest from the blog

OUCH! What To Do When Feedback Is Painful

Read more

Who Are You When You’re Off-The-Clock?

Read more

Making A Public Apology – Yes? or No?

Read more