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Is addressing someone by their name important for leaders?

Okay, I have to admit it – it is a pet peeve of mine. I don't like it when people address me Name by using words such as "hey" and "how are you" and not calling me by my name. This can happen for a number of reasons. They might have forgotten my name for example. Or they might not know whether to address me with one of several formal titles I have had in the past. But what I am finding more and more is people don't address people by their name because it is easier. What do I mean by easier? It's simple, you don't have to remember names and for some it is just more comfortable.

Is it important for leaders to address people by their name? Absolutely! Why? Because you can come off distant, not connected, aloof, non-caring and maybe even rude. What leader wants to communicate that way? I would suggest if you aren't comfortable as a leader addressing people by name that you get comfortable. Start by addressing your friends by name and work from there. If you have a difficult time remembering names, then here are a few tips that I hope will be helpful and have worked for me.

1. Listen. Often times we miss the persons name because we just aren't that interested in knowing it.

2. Verify it and repeat it. Ask people how they like to be addressed. For example, "do you like to be called Deb, Debbie or Debra?" Do you prefer Dr. Singleton or Bob? Once you know what someone likes to be called by, repeat it in your head several times.

3. Imagine it. Picture the name of the person written on their forehead.

4. Use word association. Associate the persons name with someone you know, an object, or a place.

5. Frequently use the name. Use the persons name in the conversation as much as is reasonably possible.

Once in a while you might get someones name wrong. That's okay, it happens to all of us. It's happened to me many times. But I would rather come across as someone who cares, is interested and connected then someone who is distant, not connected, aloof, non-caring and maybe even rude. So though I might get a name wrong ocassionally, the hundreds of times I do get it right is worth it.

Do you feel it's that important to address people by their name? Why or why not? And do you have any other tips that are helpful in remembering names? We would love to hear your comments as always. 


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Mike Rogers