Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Most Basic Step In Building Relationships / Networking 101

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.

My Point:
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).

Side bar:

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
Celine Dionne
• My name rhymes with Celine Dionne


Single Mom in the Suburbs said...

Whew! I've been saying your name correctly :)

mike said...

Chalene; You might want to clarify the "a" sound in the third bullet of the side bar. I think "long" should be "short' and "short" should be "long". Otherwise you are going to get a lot of "Shaylene". I think it's the same as the "a" sound in "aloha", "mahalo" and "tropical" isn't it?

Stacie said...

Sorry if this is a double post - but, I know exactly how you feel. My name is Stacie, but I'm always called Tracy or Stephanie for some unknown reason. My daughter's name is Nakisha. She has had several teachers call her by an incorrect name (commonly Natasha) and when corrected, has gotten the response of "whatever". Whatever! Like her name doesn't matter?? Anyway, we can relate. Thanks for the blog - guilty of referring to you as Shaylene :) I'll have it correct from now on.

Take care - and I love CLX!

Stacie said...

Sorry if this is a double post - but, I know exactly how you feel. My name is Stacie, but I'm always called Tracy or Stephanie for some unknown reason. My daughter's name is Nakisha. She has had several teachers call her by an incorrect name (commonly Natasha) and when corrected, has gotten the response of "whatever". Whatever! Like her name doesn't matter?? Anyway, we can relate. Thanks for the blog - guilty of referring to you as Shaylene :) I'll have it correct from now on.

Take care - and I love CLX!

Tony said...

Great post. I never realised when I created the name "Poddys" that so many people in the USA can't spell, and therefore as well as thinking that "Saturday" is spelled with a "D", they think that a "Potty" is spelled "Poddy". I see so many posts about "going to the Poddy" and it makes me see red.

Marci said...

You are too funny! I love the post! My sweet sister blessed her children with "unique" names also.
Isaiah, Sequoyah, Adonyah, Nakiya ~
So we understand completely!
Thank you for sharing!

carmen said...

This was really good advice and I enjoyed reading it and learning how to pronounce your name correctly! You are just so darn cute!!

Rania's Zoo said...

Try growning up with my name : Rania

You say it Rain-a. I have been called everything from Rain-Deer to Reeae.. UGH!

My kids names are differant But pretty straight foward. Lathan, Kalissa, and Holtin

Caterina said...

Wow this was great!!!
I have a very unique and uncommon name myself, thanks Mom & Dad! It's Italian and I know people can not master the accent, and I'm okay with that (maybe), it's just people turn a beautiful name ugly when they don't try. :(

It's Caterina CA- TAH -REE- NA (just without a strong H sound & roll your R).

No, not like Hurricane Katrina or Catalina Salad Dressing, completely different.

PS- I even get upset when I hear someone refer to you as ChaRlene, honestly you introduce yourself in your videos!!

Anonymous said...

AMEN to this.

I also have an unusual "Ch", (Charissa) and I get everything from Clarissa and Clarise to people mispronouncing the Ch like the ch as in church, or pronouncing the Ch like a k. I also routinely get people mistaking the "i" in the middle as a short it (as in "it"), rather than the long ee sound.

Asking for clarification is a great idea--I wish people would do it more often! The only additional tip I'd add when speaking to people with different names is that if someone has an unusual name or an unusual pronunciation, try to remember it by associating it with a rhyming word. (Your using Celine Dion is probably really effective.)

I advise this because unusual pronunciations are easy to forget if you're not using it constantly. For example, there are people I've been working with for almost three years who still routinely mispronounce my name despite my correcting them each time. :)

Anonymous said...

It's Celine Dion, not Celine Dionne!;)


Alyssa said...

I know how you feel....People call me Aleesa all the time. I just sigh....

BTW, Celine's last name is Dion lol :)

Laurentiu said...

Great post, excellent tips!
I never thought your name was a difficult one to pronounce - got it right the first time :)

p.s. I think it's spelled Dion not Dionne :P

Indira said...

haha my name is indira so i've dealt with this all my life: indria, india, indiria etc etc
it's in-di (as in did)-rah

but i like that it's unique :)

Chela said...

I have a "name" also! It's Chela (like the instrument-cello-but with an a). I get chelsea, chello, chelsa, shella...it's AMAZING!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the clarification! I see people referring you in different ways on the BB boards. My daughter has a challenging last name and I wish people would ask how to pronounce rather than butcher it too.

daer0n said...

I hear you!
a lot of people say my name wrong, my name is very unusual, i haven't met or yet known of another person that has my name. People usually call me "Nury" but my full name is Nurinia, i don't have a middle name to save me from having to tell people my name without having an easier one to pronounce. So most people mis pronounce it, they call me "Narina" "Norina" "Nora" "Nerina" "Nurina" rarely they ever get it right, and while it isn't annoying to me, it gets them embarrassed when they hear me saying it back to them cause they know they have mispronounced it! lol.
I think my name is weird and while i LOVE weird names, i would have liked to have a different name, but oh well.

I think i've been saying your name correctly though, i am a grammar Nazi so i like pronouncing and writing stuff propperly, and having good almost perfect grammar even though english is my second language.

Your name is really cool by the way, and when i first got your workout videos is when i heard it for the first time and i though, "that is a really cool and soft sounding name!" so i like it :)

Rhoda said...

Oh...I hear ya!
My name is Rhoda..no "n". I get RhoNda ALL the time.
Like most, I either put up with it, or joke about the "I answer to anything" part. Still drives me crazy.
I even had to correct the person giving out diplomas when I graduated from college. *grrr*

Carla said...

My maiden name, Irvin, seemed to cause no end of problems with spelling and pronunciation! So I understand. When I first started reading about you, and probably because I'm southern, I said it 'Shayleen', but as soon as I heard you say it yourself in your workouts, I switched to 'Shuhleen'. :)

I've just bought your Turbo Jam workouts recently and I love them! x :)

Anonymous said...

I am so happy I read this! We have an intern with an extremely difficult to pronounce name - and the way it is said is different than one would guess from how it is spelled, and my dept all kind of gave up, never use his name, and refer to him as "the intern." Or look at each other and whisper, "What's his name??" and the other one and shrugs and says, "No idea." SOOO mean! Then I read your blog and read that it most likely would NOT be offensive to keep asking him and let me learn it, so I told him I wanted to be sure I had it right, can you pronounce it for me? And he did, and then I repeated it slowly after him a few times, and said got it! How sad he should be isolated from the department b/c people don't want to insult him by saying his name wrong, so they shy away from situations they won't have to use it. You are 100% right - much better to admit you need to learn it and make the effort to get it right. As usual, you rock. xoxo

Correen said...

My name is Correen and it is mispronounced, mispelled, and forgotten all the time. It took my husband 2 years to spell and pronounce it right! Thanks for your wise words!

Rossy said...

I love this post! I feel like we should start a club for those who grew up with hard to pronounce names(well hard for everyone else!)
My name is Rossy Ruppe, maiden name was Bustillos... yeaaaahhh i hear ya. I unfortunately, just respond to any variation- to people I don't know. People that know me, know better :)
Rossy- Rosie, rosey rosy whichever way you like to spell it
It is NOT rossy as in bossy!!
married last name is Ruppe, rhymes with poop... it helps it be more memorable :)
maiden- Bustillos- Bus-T-yos I'll accept the pronunciation of the "bus" part either way. way 1- bus as you would say with an american accent, or 2- bus as you would say in spanish. like bush without the h.
That was nice to get off my chest :)
Named my daughter Isabella, just so much easier :)
Keep being awesome Chalene!

shalenenaig said...

I finally found someone who pronounces their name the same as my name!! Except my name is spelled Shalene. I've been called Shaylene a lot and Charlene. No offense but those names are definitely NOT ME! My sister introduced me to Turbo Jam and couldn't wait to tell me about another Shalene (Chalene). Now I use Turbo Jam and love it! AND YOUR NAME!

Mary-Taylor said...

I have dealt with people calling me the wrong name my entire life, and it really annoys me. I grew up and still live in the south and of course I have a double name! However I do not have a middle name, AND i have a very easy name... It's Mary-Taylor... Two first names, no middle name, and one last name (and my last name is not TAYLOR!) I am called Mary the most which really bugs me considering there is a HYPHEN in my name so obviously the Taylor part of my name is supposed to be said with the Mary part. I realize that Mary-Taylor is not a common double name, but Mary is the beggining of many double names in the south, and its not like taylor is some name that no one has heard of! But when people do remember that I have a double name, they rarely get it correct...it's either Mary Catherine, Mary Kate, Mary Tyler, Mary Ann, Mary Jane,Mary Kayla(?what?why kayla instead of taylor,ugh!)... you get the point! And lastly, when I was growing up and my teachers would call roll on the first day, they would call me Mary-Taylo with no "R" because "all of the letters of my first name wouldn't fit in the spaces provided by whatever computer program they used to print the roll. Obviously my name is not Mary-Taylo, but for some reason saying Taylo instead of Taylor makes more sense to some people . I just feel like i will always be called the wrong name, and it stinks! Oh well, the people who I care about and that care for me know my name and they know how much its bugs me when people call me just mary or mary-blahblah(not taylor) so they make sure they inform people of my complete and correct name so that there is no confusion!