Women

Do You Know My Name?

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It’s a given to say that just about all of us get help from other people every day. And no, I’m not talking about your coworkers. I’m talking about your doorman, the receptionist at the spa, the guy at Saks Fifth Ave who helped you pick out that great vegan leather jacket, the checkout person at your health food store, the food delivery dude, and the woman who runs the food cart where you get your morning coffee… you get the idea.

Do You Know My Name?

Given the “New York minute” pace at which we operate in this otherwise ‘hyper-connected’ world, it’s likely that few of us have made regular eye contact with these facilitators, let alone sharing a smile or saying a quick hello and thank you. I mean, who has time for more? We’ve all got places to be, things to do, friends to hang with, dates to go on, etc, etc, etc. Besides, why does it matter that we get to know the people we have little connection to, or are unlikely to interact with once we stop living / working / learning in these locations?

After spending some time looking into this, it turns out it matters quite a bit.

I used to work as a shoe salesman during my high school years at an upscale store on main street in East Hampton. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that I was regularly grabbing size 8’s for the Jessica Parker’s of the world and other fancy globetrotters that descended into our little town every summer. The job was pretty fun, I met lots of cool people, and was pretty decent at selling shoes (flattery goes a long way people!). After a while, the job started to wear me down. While I was too young at the time to appreciate why my feelings for the job started to turn sour, looking back it seems pretty clear why I stopped enjoying it. Simply…. I felt invisible.

Show the people who help you that you recognize that they’re human and you appreciate the help

Now, don’t get me wrong. Most of the clients I worked with were nice and cordial to me. Some were rude and nasty, but they were few and far between. What I realize now was how impersonal the relationship I had with the people I served and how machine-like I felt taking their orders. Similar to someone who works at a checkout counter, or the person who cleans the auditorium at your high school, I never got a chance to truly interact with the people I worked for. No one knew me. Worse, no one seemed to care. I can still remember the only time one of the women I was helping asked me my name and where I lived. It was kinda startling. “Me?” “Uh, well, uh… I’m Mike.” It felt so good to be recognized as a human being and not an order taker. It changed the rest of my day for the better.

A little bit of kindness can go a long way – for both of you.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Jeez, Mike sounds pretty sensitive. What’s the big deal?”, “Besides, what could getting to know the facilitators in my life do for me?” I recently read an interview in the New York Times with Walt Bettinger, CEO of the Wall Street behemoth Charles Schwab. He tells a story of his senior year of college, carrying at 4.0 heading into final exams of his last semester. In one of his finals, the teacher handed out a blank piece of paper. To the amazement of the students, the professor asked them to write down the name of the woman who cleaned the building. Walt stated, “It was a great reminder of what really matters in life, and that you should never lose sight of the people who do the real work in life.” Pretty powerful stuff.

I’m ashamed to say that while I’ve been pretty good about saying hello to just about facilitator I come across, and sharing a huge smile, I had failed to get to know any of them personally. Recently, I’ve started introducing myself to anyone I can, asking their name and maybe a few other questions that help me get to know them. This could be in a cab on my way to a meeting, or chatting with the nice lady (her name is Daisy) who cleans my office every night after work. I can’t tell you how good it felt to see Daisy light up when I asked what her name was and where she was from. We ended up chatting for only about two minutes, but it left both of us feeling great and more connected to the world around us. It makes my day now when I see Daisy every evening; just to say her name and exhange a pleasantry or two before she heads off to finish her work.

Do You Know My Name?

Brighten someone’s day by taking an interest, and see the amazing reactions you’ll get!

In Dale Carnegie’s timeless book How to Win Friends and Influence People he wrote, “If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.” Powerful words coming from one of the true masters in business.

Remembering the names of all the people you come into regular contact with isn’t easy and might seem a little daunting. Here are some great tips to help remember the names of everyone you meet:

  • Make a habit of repeating people’s names when meeting them for the first time. If you will make this a routine, you will be forced to pay attention to their names when they are introduced to you. (Part of the reason most of us forget people’s names is we never really hear it when they tell us. We’re busy thinking about what we want to say, or who else in the room we want to speak to next.)
  • After hearing their name, repeat it a few times. (Best not to do that out loud!)
  • Try to think of someone else that has the same name.
  • If you don’t understand the pronunciation, ask them to repeat it. If you’re still having a hard time, ask how it is spelled and then try again. People with unique names are used to others mispronouncing them and will appreciate those who express an interest in getting it right.

Here is my challenge to you. Start today; be intentional about remembering people’s names. Keep in mind the impact you can have on other people’s happiness by simply saying their name and a quick hello. Trust me, from my experience over the past few months, it’s a great habit to start!

Mike is a writer, photographer, and amateur comedian. He’s also Hilary’s husband and founder of The Impact Bible, where he writes about how to live a sustainability-focused life. He’s vegan, loves birdwatching and snowboarding, and can somehow remember everyone he’s met since childhood (in amazing detail!) He’s been interviewed by many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Conscious Magazine, etc. Mike helps out by shooting beautiful photos and video, and occasionally contributes articles.

56 Comments

  1. Olivia Peterson

    A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person. So naturally remembering a person’s name is one of the most crucial things in personal and business relationships.

  2. Delilah Peyton

    Not knowing or forgetting a person’s name is out of disinterest in my opinion. Which is very rude… LOL

    • Camila Hilhorst

      Sooooooo trueee!!! You need to WANT to learn the person’s name. Care for it! it’s important for them and you should give them the attention they deserve.

  3. Leslie Williams

    This is also very impırtant during job interviews! Knowing and using the names of the people who are interviewing you is a great way to differentiate yourself, and it might just give you the edge you need to get the job offer you’re seeking.

    • Sibel Jenkinson

      Makes sense. You’ll subconsciously relax more before and during the interview. Knowing a person’s name has a way of making a potentially stressful situation not as stressful. The more quickly you talk with somebody using their name, the more quickly the conversation flows better and becomes more natural, all of which works in your favor. 🙂

  4. Nicky Bryan

    Awesome post!! I have a great method for remembering many names in a short period of time that I would like to share with you all.

    Keep a quick note on an notepad app on your phone. And when you meet someone new enter their name. Glance back at it every chance you get, specially after parting ways with them. Open up the note and go through the list at least a few times a day, visualizing each person. When you meet someone new, enter their name at the bottom of list, and once again visualize the people you had entered earlier. In case you see someone and do not remember their name, glance at your list; most of the time seeing the name will ring a bell and you’ll remember!

    I really loved the way it works for me, and seems to be a sure-proof way to remember a lot of names in a short amount of time. I hope it works for you guys too!

  5. Emma Blackwood

    I’m with you on this! Remembering names is one of the simplest yet most important components of interacting with people, no matter in what capacity.

  6. Amanda Roberts

    This is post is an amazing eye-opener. The only way you will be consistent is if remembering people’s names is important to you. I should make it a priority to remember people’s names.

  7. Roberta Bennett

    Very well thought, Michael. I completely agree with you. Addressing someone with their name is just as important as making eye contact, offering a genuine smile and giving a friendly greeting!

  8. Kim Hartford

    Addressing people by their names is important not only when in person, but also online! Like when emailing or commenting on blogs or even quoting articles!!

    If you are going to quote an article, for instance, do not write “The XYZ blog.” Try to discover who wrote the article and use their name on the credit.

    • Jennifer McSween

      Isn’t that the truth!!? I get dozens of email daily, most of them asking me to visit a link, to review a product or to answer a question. While I try to answer all of them anyway, the ones the start with “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear *insert my blog’s name here* team” kind of lose my interest right away. Why? Cause it communicates to me that the person didn’t even take the time to visit my site or to read a couple of articles. The emails that start with “Hi Jennifer” or “Dear Jennifer McSween” on the other hand, get me in a more positive mood, and my answer to them is prompt and detailed. I know that the person at least knows who I am, so I become glad to help them out.

      • Kim Hartford

        I agree. For some it might sound exaggerated, but I am pretty sure that people would be more likely to link to you if you credit them by their names. It is a sign of respect, after all.

    • Diana Hewitt

      Totally agree. Now, if only all bloggers would put their names on their ABOUT page, that would help out a lot. 🙂 I find a lot of sparsely written bios with not even a first name listed on some people’s ABOUT pages. I know there are times I’d like to use the author’s name, but it’s nowhere to be found. Also, if more than one person writes for the blog, it’s doubly important to identify the author.

  9. Evelyn Sandler

    Very good post, Mike! Addressing people by name is more than just a sign of courtesy. It is also about recognition. A recognition that you want to learn more about them. A recognition that they have made an impression on you. A recognition that you care about them. 🙂

  10. Ayla Pennington

    Very true… I’m guilty of this as well. I need to practice on it, and get better at remembering names.

  11. Molly Twain

    Learning the names of local business owners and employees is also a real kick. It’s worked well over the past few years for me and people seem to appreciate it. 🙂

  12. Susanna Milton

    Very true! If you want to feel a part of your community, get to know names. It’s that simple!

  13. Kimberley Foulkes

    Such an amazing article, Mike! What a great start! Very refreshing to see such a sensitive and thoughtful young man. Very rare these days. Hilary is such a lucky woman. You two are a match made in heaven. 🙂

  14. Felicia Stewart

    You’re so right! Knowing people’s names is a great way to show respect, and it gives you a powerful latch into their thoughts, and makes them feel really good.

  15. Lena Dzeko

    I was recently surprised in a meeting with one of our university’s deans when he knew my name. Not only did it make me feel valued, but I was impressed by his ability to know several faculty member’s names even though his assistant handles all of his correspondence. 😊

  16. Jae Medina

    Hello, Michael. Pleasantly surprised to see a male author on Urbanette.com !
    May I just add how amazing I think this article is? I hope we see more from you.

    Best wishes

    Jae

  17. Christina Norelli

    Amen to that!!! 👏👏👏 What really gets to me is these excuses people try to make such as ”I’m terrible at names.” or “I have bad memory.” People who are good at remembering names probably don’t have any better memory than you do. What they are better at is working at remembering names. You can too.

  18. Debbie Jones

    You’re absolutely right! Especially in business… Knowing someone’s name can make a difference in how that person feels about you and your brand.

  19. Lucretia Asher

    “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language” – Dale Carnegie

    🙂

  20. You couldn’t be more right, Michael. It makes me feel more valued and respected when someone remembers my name, so I do my best to remember people’s names to show them the same respect they show me. 🙂

  21. Elsie Spurlock

    So beautiful Mike, thanks for sharing. Absolutely gorgeous writing and thought are in this post. You’re words are so lovely and reach deep in my heart. Our name is the most important word in our vocabulary. Thank you for affirming that we are all important. 🙂

  22. Ashley Moore

    I am so with you on this one, in every way! 🙂

  23. Louise Stone

    I was so happy that this is the first thing I read upon waking this morning. Right! We feel more engaged in a conversation when someone uses our name. It’s never too early to start learning what is truly important in life. We should more conscious that we are all here to serve one another. Thank you so much for writing a lovely article.

  24. Tracie Raymond

    It does feel good to be softer and kinder. Trying to make a habit out of it. For me, knowing this and working from this viewpoint will allow everything else to flow more easily. May you continue to be blessed in health and safety and for the influence of others. Thank you for the reminder of this perspective. I have a feeling I’m going to come back and read and reread this a few times.

  25. Lela House

    You opened up a whole new continent to consider with your post. Our names actually affect our whole lives, more than most of us realize.

  26. Hazel Collins

    Michael,I have been struggling with this very topic, so this was so timely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts which were a fun read to start the day. I love how you listed things down to a 4 simple tips. I’m certain that your words are getting shared by people who really care. It is food for my soul and I’m going to be digesting it for the next several days.

  27. Alice Harris

    This is beautiful, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying. Thanks so much for pointing this out. I can say as my age progresses, my memory has been a bit more challenged, not that 35 is old but these tips were really helpful. I’m also a strong believer of making others feel important but am very careful with it. I am asking my pre-teen nephew to read this as a gift for me for my birthday. 🙂

  28. Sarah Ubitel

    I never really thought about this. I too make an effort to be nice, but that’s about it. I’m gonna experiment with this idea and get to know some of the peeps in my everyday life : )

  29. Melissa Princeton

    Amazing work here, Mike!

    I know the name of our building’s doorman! Go me hahah 😉 I try my best to show people I value them, whether by a smile, a greet or a wave. 🙂

  30. Mary Johnston

    Thank you for the reminder. I think we all need to be reminded of this often. So many of these lesson require us to be intentional or focused on doing what we know we should do in life. It is amazing how going the extra mile pays off. The little things are so important.

  31. Dana Rosatti

    Knowing the name of the doorman, greeting a neighbor, smiling at a stranger… These things are now the kind of things you see in old movies… To be honest, I don’t even know my neighbor’s name, and she doesn’t know mine. How sad!

    • Matilda Parker

      I definitely agree with you! Unfortunatelty those things, which used to be called GOOD MANNERS are now apparently “so 50’s”…

  32. Grace Stirling

    This is really great post Michael. I couldn’t agree more with the value and importance of today’s article. A friend of mine said that if I’m not good at remembering names i can relate their name to an object. I will implement your tips next time I meet someone. Great tip, thank you!

  33. Brilliant piece, Michael! Truly fascinated with the way you look at this. I wish more people would take these things into consideration like you do.

  34. Shannon Bradley

    Hello, Mike!

    I’m assuming this is your first article on Urbanette.com ? Well, I must say for a first article, that was very inspirational and motivational at the same time!

    Thanks for reminding us the importance of these little things that most of us seem to have forgotten.

    • I agree! For a first article, this is very impressive! Such an eyeopener. He pointed out things that we usually neglect or don’t give importance to.

  35. Betty O'Leary

    You’re very right, Michael. It is very important to know their names, but it’s also very important for them to know our names. I’ve had hairstylists forgot my name, even though I got my hair done at that salon every 10 days or so.

  36. Celine Carter

    I’ve been working at this clothing store for 6 years, and we usually get the same customers, you know… recurring customers… But most of them still don’t know my name or wouldn’t even bother to memorize it. It’s not too pleasant to serve people like them.

  37. Lana Urie

    Ooooops…. Red handed much? Shame on me! I never pay attention to names, unless the person is important to me. I need to work on that.

  38. Marina Henderson

    This couldn’t be more on point! When I used to work at a grocery store back in my college days, I dreaded some customers, the kind of ignorant and rude people that won’t even smile at you… Then there were some that would greet, or even chat while scaning their shopping, those were my favorite!

  39. I personally would like to spread “good vibes” everyday! For some reasons, others are finding it hard to give that “magic” smile.

    Well, I may not know names of the people who do the real work for me everyday, but I make sure to say thanks, smile and make them feel that I appreciate their work 🙂

  40. Oh no!!! You hit me on the heart! I’m soooo guilty of this! I’m sorry. Will intentionally remember names from now on…

  41. Danielle Wilson

    Great piece. Very humbling. I love it.

  42. Lovely article. I will do my best to memorise names and faces from now on. 🙂

  43. Reading this from a man’s point of view inspires me. Don’t get me wrong and don’t mistake me as “sexist” or what, but I rarely observe men express feelings like you did and I commend you for writing this, Michael!

    Anyway, I think younger generations should be taught the value of appreciation. Practicing this habit at an early age will develop and it’ll be easier to practice later.

  44. Delit L'Angelier

    What a nice thought! I am ashamed to say that I don’t know my doorman’s name. I’ll ask!

  45. I can relate. I’ve been through the same experience and yeah, it felt bad (not because I’m oversensitive or what).

    Now, as I look back, can’t help but smile for people now know me by name (’cause of my educational attainment, my position, my age). Your article is worth sharing. Good job!

  46. A disappointing and disheartening fact is, we tend to disregard the people who do the “real” job. I teach my daughter to always greet and mention the name of people who help her. In a restaurant for example, I remind her to always look at the nameplate and say “hi” or “thanks” (and mention the name).

  47. Honestly, you made me feel terrible… As a freelance photographer, I love taking photos at random and most of the time, these people who do the work are my subjects. And yeah, I don’t even ask their names or even say thanks or say hi to them. Am I so bad?

  48. Awesome article!

    As a makeup artist for fashion and music videos, I definitely understand what you felt. I love and enjoy what I do and I can’t think of anything else I’d be doing but when I was starting, I most of the time cry when that feeling of I or my work was not appreciated was trying to destroy my confidence.

    Over time, I discovered that some people are just finding it hard to show appreciation. Probably because of pride or it’s their personality — not expressive. I just need to be understanding and “less” sensitive 🙂

  49. I guess this is hard to do! I love to sit at a coffee shop and observe people. And… even a smile is sometimes hard to give (for some).

    Well, I do smile at these people, but I’m guilty of now knowing their names. My bad! But I’m accepting your challenge, Michael! I’ll be intentional in remembering names 🙂

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