Is your name what I say it is?

Effective communication with others starts with the name.

Honoring and respecting others plays a major role in getting along with people.  The first step in getting along with others is finding something in common with them.  That can only be accomplished if you get to know them.

Each of us has a name that we prefer to be addressed by, whether it was given to us or we chose it.  Each of our respective names is special and we each have the right to say “This is my name.”

When anyone calls your name it means they are trying to start a conversation or communicate with you.

I’m going to call you what I want!

Even though these words were never told to me verbally, they often echoed in my mind when someone, who I had no real connection to, gave me a nickname.

Geral, Gerl, Gerald, G, Ger, Gerri, Geraldine, Gerline, Geraline, and Lenora.

These are all names that people call me.  I answer to all of them, however, my response is not all the same.

I naturally respond differently to each name, depending on who is addressing me and how they came to call me by the name.


I’ve also been guilty of addressing or giving people nicknames and have been corrected a few times.  I really didn’t understand why they got upset with me.  After all, I thought we were good friends.

But I was wrong.

I failed to get to know them enough to really know how they wanted to be addressed.  I just assumed it was okay for me to call them what I wanted, based on how I felt about them.

It showed a lack of consideration and respect on my part.

When you do not call someone by the name they prefer, you are saying, “I don’t care what your name is. Your name is not special.  It has no value to me.”

It’s equivalent to your name being a piece of paper and someone wadded it up and threw it in the trash can.

As a result of this action, the person may not be receptive to what you have to talk about or listen to you as you would hope or expect them to.

Think about walking down the street and someone yells “Jane!” trying to get your attention, but your name is Jean.  Unless you really know the person, you’re probably going to keep walking.

Same principle.

Take for an example your teammate.  If you call her by a name other than what she prefers, a barrier of communication will start to build up.  She does not want to be called that name so every time she is called it, a feeling of uneasiness is going to come over her.  Sometimes to a point where when you talk, she may tune you out.  So, communication between you and her becomes hindered.

With that being said, I encourage you to get to know others in order to understand how each person wants to be addressed by you.  Don’t assume because everyone calls someone a nickname that they like to be addressed by that.

So, ask and get to know them to see what they prefer.

It shows and gives respect to them.  You are also honoring them by awarding them with something they deserve.

Do people call you by a name you do not prefer?  What do you do when that happens?

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