I could not for all my efforts remember how to pronounce her name on the first day of the LIAT Account Sales Manager Development Workshop. Her name card looked like it was spelled “Smevonne,” yet everyone kept referring to her as “Chev on ee.” The H and M difference wrecked havoc in my mind and I just couldn’t make the spelling and pronunciation connection. I listened carefully any time anyone called her by name. I even tried to discreetly write the phonetic spelling in my notes. But her name remained oh-so elusive so I just didn’t refer to her by name. Then in the middle of the personal branding module she asked, “May I ask something?”
“I’ve noticed that you haven’t referred to me by name. You can’t remember how to say my name, huh?”
She noticed. Hmmm … sharp! Yes, Laura, fess up.
“Very good observation. I am sorry to say that I cannot remember how to pronounce your name. Would you please say it for me again?”
“I don’t know why it’s not sticking. I apologize. It may take me a few more times.”
“I realized it a little while ago, and I even moved my name card to make sure you could see it.”
Own it, Laura. Make this work for you.
“See … that is a great example of what to do to assist someone you know may be having trouble remembering your name. If you notice someone may not remember your name, do what you can to help them out in a polite way. Refer to yourself in third person, something like ‘Well I, Laura, would say that …’ We can discuss more tricks during the Introductions module tomorrow.”
I made eye contact around the table and saw approving looks.
Whew … good one.
I truly appreciated her astute observation and that she brought it up in front of the others. (In real life, I suggest a person do it privately to avoid unnecessary embarrassment). One reason for my appreciation is that it created a great teaching opportunity and example of how to react. A second reason is that it made me, the instructor, seem a little more human and endearing – which fostered a warm learning environment.
Oh … and I ended up calling her Shevy for the rest of the workshop.
(Reposted from April 2010)