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.
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.
NAMES ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP TRUST AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS.
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:
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.
NAMES ARE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP TRUST AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS. Let’s review how to do that.
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?