Most people are awful with names and they admit it but names are powerful. When we use them, we’re telling the people we’re with that they mean something to us and that we remember who they are. It takes a little effort but people are bound to notice.

I have to admit that I hate my name and I always have. I think it stems from the fact that I’m the practice child, which to say that I’m the oldest. My parents made all of their mistakes on me so that my sister and brother could have it easier.

In no case is this as true as it is with names. My sister is a year younger than me and she got a great name; Kathryn. There are some awesome Kathryns out there from Katherine Hepburn to Katherine the Great, it’s a regal, powerful name. My brother was blessed with Austin. Consider Stephen F Austin, Austin Nichols or Stone Cold Steve Austin! It’s a cool and interesting name. Me, I get to be Randy – the hillbilly in every movie! My Name Is Earl’s dimwitted brother, or Randy Quaid, National Lampoon’s Vacation’s Cousin Eddie. As you can see, I have good reason to dislike my name, but I love it when people use it.

When you use my name it becomes personal. It is what Dale Carnegie called the sweetest sound in any language. It’s a small step towards making people feel important and that’s why it’s such a critical skill to develop.

I teach in my seminars to use someone’s name three times in the first thirty seconds of meeting them and people always tell me that would have to sound forced. They’re always proven wrong when I demonstrate. To use someone’s name three times and not come across as someone trying to use their name three times, follow my rules:

Step One: State Their Name As If It’s A Question

    Me: Hi, I’m Randy.

    Them: Hi I’m Bill.

    Me: Bill?

Some names are difficult to pronounce and those names are often butchered. To make sure you’re getting it right, use it in the form of a question to so that the person can lead you to the correct pronunciation. It’s polite, and it’s the first anchor being set.

Step Two: Nice To Meet You…

     Me: Hi, I’m Randy.

    Them: Hi I’m Bill.

    Me: Bill?

    Them: Yep

    Me: Nice to meet you, Bill.

Nice to meet you is just common courtesy but using it with their name allows us to use it one more time in a casual context. It allows us to not only use it but hear their name in our voice and reinforce the anchor.

Step Three: Don’t Use Their Name On The First Question

    Me: Hi, I’m Randy.

    Them: Hi I’m Bill.

    Me: Bill?

    Them: Yep

    Me: Nice to meet you, Bill.

    Me: Where’s Home?

    Them: Ohio

If you use their name with the very next question, it’s going to feel forced and insincere. It will feel to them like they’re being sold something. That’s why it’s important to just ask a question and let them talk. You’ve got time to get in the third use.

Step Four: Follow Up With Their Name

    Me: Hi, I’m Randy.

    Them: Hi I’m Bill.

    Me: Bill?

    Them: Yep

    Me: Nice to meet you, Bill.

    Me: Where’s Home?

    Them: Ohio

    Me: That’s Interesting Bill, Me Too!

You’re getting the idea. Use it one more time and the anchor is set for you to remember the name and it won’t feel forced or awkward. You will have done a nice job of building some rapport and you’ll be able to remember their name for the rest of the conversation.

Small Effort – Huge Result

This might seem like it’s a small thing, but it really isn’t. When we want to sincerely make people feel important, using their name goes a long way towards making them feel valued. It works for people we’ve just met and it works for people we’ve been working with for years. If you want to be heard and make it personal when delivering feedback, use a name and it changes the dynamic completely. When you want your instructions followed, use a name and roles become clear. When you want to increase the confidence of others around you, show them you care and change behavior, use a name. It’s a small step that yields huge results.

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