The Most Basic Step In Building Relationships
The sweetest sound to anyone ears is the sound of their own name. Yet, when your name is mispronounced it screeches like fingernails on a chalkboard. No one feels this more than those of us who have been blessed (or cursed depending on your perspective) with a unique or difficult to pronounce birth name. We pretend we don’t notice when people slaughter our names. We act as thought it doesn’t bother us, gleefully replying… “That’s okay. I’ll answer to anything.” Truthfully, we do get used to it and we never fault others. It’s a tough name.
I happen to have one of those names. Since a kid I’ve learned to answer most commonly to Charlene, but I’ve grown equally accustom to Chaylene, Shalleen, Chanel…basically anything that starts with a “Shh”. I always thought it was odd when people just go for it, as opposed to simply asking, “How do I pronounce your name?” No matter how long I’ve known the person, or how much I like em, you just automatically feel a distance to anyone who doesn’t know how properly pronounce your name.
I have “one of those names”. I know what it feels like to be on the other end. Even if I’ve met the person more than once, if I’m not 100% sure of the pronunciation I will say, “I’m sorry, you have such a beautiful (or unique) name, can you tell me how to pronounce it again?” Then I repeat the name a couple of times in their presence. This is a great technique. On the advice of someone with a difficult name, I appreciate it when someone is really trying to get my name “right”. This person stands out because so many people get it wrong. It shows they care enough to learn the most basic thing about me… my name! By saying a persons name several times in front of them (in essence perfecting your pronunciation in their presence) you give the other person the opportunity to correct or commend you or better yet, to offer a away to remember the pronunciation. This is the first step in making a connection between people.
This is important to remember today. Uncommon names seem to be more and more common today. I often will ask people how they spell their name, who they were named after or if they have any special tricks to help people with the pronunciation. Its not uncommon to find yourself in the awkward position of having to introduce someone whose name you surely should know how to pronounce to another professional. Ugggh! Those dreaded moments before you just “go for it” and blurt out what you think is close enough!
Allow me to put you out of your misery…just ask! We don’t mind at all. We won’t be offended or think that it’s the 10th time you’ve asked. I’d prefer someone whose known me for 5 years to ask me every time versus someone say it wrong who should know me better.
It’s the absolute best, most acceptable, polite approach. Oh and by the way, this applies to first and last names! People have as much pride in their last name as they do their first. You’re not getting one over on the person by only using their first name, because they have a challenging last name.
The most basic form of all networking strategies starts with the most beautiful sound in the world, the sound of a person’s own name (pronounced correctly).
Some tips to help you properly pronounce my name…
• It’s Chalene – there is NO “R” in my name. My parents
were young and couldn’t afford the extra letter.
• I was named after “Kid Chalene” a drunk cowboy
played by Lee Marvin in the 1968 comedy “Cat Ballou”
with Jane Fonda
• The first syllables in my name “Cha” are pronounced like
the “shun” in “shut” or “Shove”. The “a” is long, not short
“a” as in “Shay-lene”. Think “Shutlene” then take out the “t”.
• Put an “sh” sound in front of the name Celine, as in
• My name rhymes with Celine Dionne