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What’s your name?…Are you sure? 6 Strategies to Develop Trust When You Introduce Yourself

Nov 06, 2020

My name is Christal-Lynn Reed. Most people call me Christal; however, my parents and those influenced by my parents call me Christal-Lynn. I can count on less than one hand the number of times someone has spelled my name correctly the first time in my whole life, as there are several spelling variations for each of my names. Moreover, my name is erroneously spelled with a capital letter after the hyphen.  I used to tell people “My name is Christal spelled like Christ.” However, most people just gave me a strange look and never understood the spelling connection, so I dropped that strategy. I ALWAYS introduce myself as “Christal.” I NEVER answer to “Chris.” Please call me “Christal.”

However, I have noticed that my clients and potential clients are not as sure about what they wish to be called. Is your name long and difficult to pronounce? Is it unique in some way? Do you feel pressure from your parents to express your name in a certain way? 

One might assume that the problem lies in the fact that my clients often have foreign sounding names. However, that’s absolutely not the reason why my clients from China, India, Mexico, and other locales around the globe have difficulty conveying their name clearly the first time. Some have even confessed to me that they have difficulty conveying their name clearly in their native country - just like I do.

Some people, whether they have immigrated to the United States or Canada or live in their native country, choose to adopt an English name.  When I taught in South Korea, many of my Business English students had adopted English names. They believed this would solve the problem and allow them to convey their name clearly and make connections with others more easily. However, this approach does not always work either. “Why is that?” you ask.  There are three reasons why this approach does not always work.

  1. Some people choose an English name that they can’t pronounce clearly.
  2. Some people cannot clearly pronounce the letters necessary to spell their name.
  3. Some people have not developed a confident strategy for conveying their name.

As you can imagine, whether the name is English or not, it still must be conveyed and spelled clearly. A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I were painting our garage when a neighbour came over to introduce himself and offer his assistance (yes, we have wonderful neighbours). I heard his name, but it didn’t stick in my brain, so before he left I asked him to repeat his name. He looked at me and smiled, saying “This is how you remember my name. (He then gestured like he was tapping the ash off the end of a cigarette.) Think of “ash.” Then remember, I am a man. So, my name is Ashman.” Of course, I will never forget his name now, as he clearly divided his name into two syllables with distinct meanings that I can relate to. I felt his warm, friendly energy that day, and I’m delighted to wave to him, as we get out of our cars or work in the yard.


Before I meet with people for their Needs Assessment meeting, I always review their LinkedIn profile. I’ve noticed that people use numerous strategies for helping others to understand and express their names more easily, such as:

  1. Use the first initial and the middle name (presumably because the middle name is easier)
  2. Use their birth name with their English name in brackets.
  3. Use their English name with their birth name in brackets.
  4. Use JUST the initial of their first name with their last name, for example: J. Krish.
  5. Use a short form of their given name that resembles an English name.
  6. Use a short form of their given name that does not resemble an English name.
  7. Use a nickname.
  8. Other - I’ve seen variations that I can’t really identify, so I’m not sure what to call them.

In a recent training session with a client, which occurred after a workshop that focused on expressing one’s name clearly, he informed me that he had recently modified his name. Essentially, he had dropped a vowel, reducing the number of syllables from two to one. Apparently, he had made this change a while ago, and I was still calling him by the name in his LinkedIn profile, so he corrected me. However, he was still spelling it with the extra vowel.


  1. YOU choose what you would like to be called based on what makes YOU feel good, not based on what may be easy for others.
  2. BE CONSISTENT. Use the same name on every platform, in every conversation, and in every e-mail. Never change it. This will reduce ambiguity and increase your confidence.
  3. Develop or learn a strategy for conveying your name clearly the first time.
  4. Say your name with the importance that it deserves. Say it slowly, savour the vowels. Smile when you introduce yourself. Look at the listener’s face and repeat the name until you see them smile with a relaxed energy, and you hear them say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,______” Take your time - these first few seconds can make all the difference in your relationships.
  5. Learn how to properly use the International Spelling Alphabet to clearly convey your name. Many of my clients tell me they use this communication strategy in their professional lives; however, their training Pre-assessment confirms that they are not using it properly. Any tool used improperly will not work well. 
  6. Don’t look apologetic, tense, or embarrassed. when people don’t understand your name, be amused, friendly, and helpful. It’s all about the energy in the relationship. Take control of that energy.

Paul Simon has a fun song called “You can call me Al.”  Check it out in the video below. In the meantime, you can call me Christal. What can I call you?