How often do you greet or thank a person by name? When you run into a friend at the store, do you say: “Hi [name]”? When you take your leave, do you again use their name? Do you use it periodically throughout a conversation?
Imagine a time you were with someone who used your name. How did it make you feel? Was your connection to that person stronger?
The American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie said: “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Using a person’s name in your conversations is a great tool for building connection. It helps break through the façade and reach the inner person.
Some people are very good at this. I vividly remember going to dinner at a restaurant in another state many years ago. On arrival, the hostess took all our names and from then on we were each addressed with our name. I don’t remember what I had for dinner, but I remember how I felt about the staff and the restaurant. It was very nice. I felt they saw me – me, not just another person. I felt more appreciated and valued. This was a far cry from the ubiquitous “Hon” or “Dear” we so often hear at restaurants.
For a long time, I was not very good about using people’s names. It wasn’t because I didn’t know the name; it just wasn’t my habit. Someone who was excellent at using names started working in a place I frequent, and in short order I reconnected to that good feeling of being seen. The impact she had on me generated a deep appreciation for the way she impacts everyone based on this one simple action. In short order I found I listened to her with more intent and valued her more. This is how I want to impact people, so I made a new habit. Now I feel the deeper connection every time I use someone’s name. It’s a great feeling!
You too can deepen your connection with others by taking this one simple action: use people’s names when you talk to them.
Perhaps you are thinking you just aren’t good at names. The nice thing about this habit is that it reinforces the name so you won’t forget. When meeting someone for the first time use the person’s name at least three times to fix it in your memory. Make it a habit to use people’s names when talking. They’ll notice even if they don’t say anything. Most importantly, do it for yourself.