In business, one of the worst things you can do is make a poor first impression. What’s a good way to make a bad first impression? Get the person’s name wrong. Whether you’re looking to gain new clients, serve existing clients, apply for a job, or pretty much any application—spend the extra three seconds it takes and get the person’s name right.
If it’s in the form of an email, double check to make sure you got it right. If it is in-person, make sure you really focus when they introduce themselves, and if you forget, politely ask them again. It shows that you are making an active effort to get their name right. If it is over the phone, make sure you write it down when they tell you, and you can refer to it later in the conversation.
If their name is hard to pronounce, they’ll be understanding when you ask for clarification to get it right. Because any person would rather you say their name right—rather than wrong.
People get my name wrong all the time. My name is Brenden, which has been getting screwed up since I was kid. I get called Brandon, Brendan, Branden, Brendon, and the like. But when my email signature clearly has my name written correctly, and people send me an email back with it spelt wrong, it is frustrating. We’ll get people who send their résumé to us and spell my name wrong. It’s not a good way to try to get a job spelling your would-be boss’s name wrong.
If you haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, I highly recommend you do so. Disclosure: we make no money from your purchase, it’s just a fantastic book I’d recommend anyone read. One of his “6 Ways to Make People Like You” is to remember people’s name. And I would add that you ought to remember it correctly.
“The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.” – Dale Carnegie
We can see this almost everywhere we look. Look at how many things are named after people. Just in Colorado, the top examples that come to mind are:
- The city of Denver, named after James W. Denver
- University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, named after Phil and Nancy Anschutz after donating over $100+ million to the university
- Wadsworth Boulevard, named after Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth
Names are powerful things. A person’s name is their identity. To get it wrong, makes a bad impression. Instead of trying to overcome a bad impression, start off conversations on solid footing. Get people’s names right. Always.