Has anyone ever pronounced your name incorrectly? Did it make you feel like doing business with that person, or did it make you think that if they cannot even pronounce your name correctly, they are probably not reliable in their field? Likely, it’s the latter.
Whether you seek to build rapport with a sales prospect or an employee, correctly using the person’s name in conversation can help. The simple act of saying one’s name communicates to the brain a connection or relationship that doesn’t exist with strangers and plants seeds that can grow into a profitable sale or a loyal employee relationship.
But in a community of increasing diversity, pronouncing someone’s name correctly isn’t always easy. And butchering someone’s name does the exact opposite of building rapport. It communicates that we don’t know the person and should be cautious about trusting them. It can easily kill a deal.
If mispronouncing someone’s name isn’t bad enough, laughing about it is even worse. It communicates a lack of respect and signals that protective barriers should go up. It’s a path that can take you nowhere fast.
Follow the Steps
When the situation arises of a name you are unsure how to pronounce, here are some steps to follow:
1. Stop the conversation and ask the person to help you learn to say their name correctly.
2. Listen carefully as they pronounce their name. Ask them to repeat it slowly, if necessary.
3. Write the name down in syllables, in words or letters that make sense to you.
4. Repeat the name back, asking them if you got it right.
5. Often, one time won’t be enough. Listen carefully and try it again.
6. Once the other person says you said it correctly, thank them for taking the time to teach you.
When we take the time to learn to say someone’s name the way they want it to be said, a relationship of trust and respect emerges. It’s a great investment of a little time and attention that can grow into a lifetime of repeat sales or loyal service.