Names are such an amazing thing. Knowing and using someone’s name can make a huge impact on your interactions and how you convey value. Take the extra time and effort to do this simple little thing and you’ll find that it will change you as well as strengthen your relationships with your team.
I’ve got a little secret.
Although my given name is Shawn, the universe knows me as Scott.
Let me explain.
I have no idea why, but for at least a few decades, maybe most of my working life, people have called me Scott. Lots of people. From all areas of life. Whether I’ve known them a long time or not.
Granted, there have been some times in my life when I’ve had a Scott in my circle and I can see how someone ELSE in that circle might have name-slipped because our names both start with S, maybe we look similar, whatever. Some examples are my cousin Scott who’s almost the same age and grew up with me and more recently a coworker who I’ve worked closely with.
So, those I can understand a little bit, even though I find it odd that it doesn’t happen with other names that I’ve been close with, like any Steves or Johns.
But here’s how it works… over and over again.
Person I just met and introduced myself to as Shawn: “So, Scott, do you think that… blah blah blah”
Person I’ve known for years: “Hey Scott, did you find out that answer to my question?…”
It’s almost like there is a Scott inside of me trying to get out and everyone knows it but me.
It’s gotten so that I almost don’t correct people anymore.
“What your name?”
“Shawn… S-h-a-… you know what, you can just call me Scott. You’re going to eventually anyway”
All of this aside, I’m a big believer in the power of a name.
There’s just something intangible to knowing someone’s name.
Think of someone you just met at a store or a friend of a friend or even a new team member in your business.
If you meet someone new like that, if you don’t know they’re name it’s like you’re missing a huge piece of connection. It actually makes it awkward.
You can address them by some kind of a pet name like “bud” or “champ”, but until you know their name there is sort of an invisible wall between the two of you.
As a business leader, I think there are a few key things you can do to really help build into your team and also build strong connections within your team team as well.
First, make it a point to learn names. Even if there are new people that aren’t specifically in your area or department, if you are able to, learn names. Either directly from them or by looking up their info on an announcement or whatever.. I’m horrible with remembering names but I’ve found that having them tell me something interesting about them does help me lock it into my memory.
I know a CEO who is excellent at this and has flash cards that he has at his desk that he thumbs through to try to learn names. And it is amazing to have the head of the company, who you’ve maybe only met once if at all, greet you by name when they see you. There is something really special to that.
So, first off learn their name. Then use it when you talk to them. But please… please… not in some awkward name-overuse kind of way. And you know what I’m talking about:
“Well, Keith, it’s so great to meet you Keith. Keith, do you have any hobbies Keith? Keith, Keith Keith Keith Keith Keith…”
Yeah… don’t do that. Just a simple “Hey Carla, how are things going out here today” will work.
A final thing that makes a huge difference is to be a great connector.
When you’re with two people you know who don’t know each other, be the one to introduce them to each other.
Don’t let one of them stand there awkwardly while you talk to the other and feel like an outsider.
Break down those walls and help bring people together.
How about you today? How are you at learning and using the names of people in your organization. No doubt, it’s a skill we can all continue to work on. But one that is well worth our time if we want to build a strong culture of people who feel valued.
But, that’s just one Scott’s opinion….