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The Importance of Names

by Paula Thompson on October 18, 2013

A recent post on a real friend’s social media page stopped me cold in my tracts. She was quite upset at someone she has known for more than 30 years; I had to really think if it was me she was speaking of or whether or not I was actually guilty of doing this…was it me that had made her so upset, no I didn’t think so but it DID serve as a reminder to me.

So what was this post about anyway? Someone she had known for more than 30 years and she considered to be a friend STILL misspells her name. She was understandably offended and upset, especially since all of her social media and email have the correct spelling so all “Molly” had to do was actually take the time to double check before starting an email or post yet this person continually failed to recognize the difference between a name that ended in “i” “ie” or “y.”

Is this life altering? No.

Is it inconsiderate? Yes.

There are many lessons I have learned along the way, and quite possibly the biggest lesson I have learned when dealing with people is to look them in the eye and know their name! This shows a high level of respect irrespective of their social standing, job, or even their relationship to you. I am sure most of us have heard the old axiom, “It’s nice to be important but it is important to be nice.” Knowing someone by name is not only nice but is honoring to them.

Luke 6:38 NIV tells us,:

“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

This verse is applicable in many ways, typically I think of it in terms of judging other people, because the yardstick I use to measure them can and quite possibly will be used on me. Yet when we are quick to become upset because we don’t like how “they treated ME” then I need to look and think about how I treated them.  Did I look them in the eye?  Did I remember their name and pronounce it correctly?

There is no shame in forgetting someones name or even in misspelling it, as long as you ask for clarification and remember the next time.  Think of it this way, when have you gone to visit a church for only the 2nd or 3rd time (big or small) and the pastor and his wife BOTH remember your name, how do you feel?  What about when you go and they don’t remember your name? Personally I am not offended when they have to ask for my name a few times, for me putting names and faces together is hard.  But when they DO remember my name I feel great because they took the time to get it right! 

Here are some tips to help you remember names:

  • Make eye contact and give them your full attention while you are conversing with someone.  Put your mobile phone away.  Eliminate all other distractions. 
  • Try to use their name at least 2-3 times before your conversation ends.
  • Try to connect their name with something that will remind you later.  Letter alliteration is great for this. Perhaps Lisa is a lawyer or you visualize Lisa Hill lying at the top of a hill.  The more memorable you make it, the easier it will be to remember it. 
  • When you walk away, repeat their name numerous times.
  • If they hand you a business card, make notes on it the first chance you get. 
  • Notice the spelling of their name when you see it in written form. 




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