Attract attention with one little word

Help people sit up and listen to you – immediately

Like Comment

It is the small, simple things that make a big difference. It is easy to pontificate and chat away to people – in writing as well as face-to-face – and never mention their name. Well, the instant you decide to start using everyone’s name more, then you’ll notice immediately how much more engaged people are with you; how you have their attention – sometimes despite them not wanting to give it to you.

This is going to be so obvious to you – it probably is already from the title above – the power of using people’s names, the power of hearing your own name when it’s used, the way it immediately engages and connects you.

It tells them that you’re thinking of them; it says that you actually know their name (so many people don’t take any notice of your name and it’s just that – your name, your identity). When you use people’s names it tells them that you’re engaging with them, that you’re directing your message directly to them. It’s a subtle and easy bit of sparkle to add in to your conversations, emails, meetings, networking, parties – everywhere in fact.

It’s also powerful to know that the fastest way to disconnect from someone – intentionally or otherwise – is to confuse their name, mispronounce their name or keep forgetting their name.

Here’s how to use people’s names with intention and still be comfortable:

  • If you’re running a meeting or have a group of people on the phone for example, sprinkle in people’s names – the effect is startling. The message the person’s brain hears is ‘oh, it’s us, we’re on. We’d better pay attention.’ It’s really powerful to know this.
  • Sometimes, when you're first introduced to someone, you forget; you’re mid-flow and then realise, with horror, you’ve forgotten their name. If you make it your new habit to immediately say back their name to them as you’re introduced ‘well, nice to meet you Jane’ or ‘Jane, it’s a pleasure meeting you’ two things happen. Firstly, you tell Jane you heard her name and have remembered it; your greeting is more meaningful to her because her name is included in there. Secondly, it helps you to ‘engage brain’ and remember her name. You can start avoiding those ‘help, I’ve forgotten who I’m talking to’ moments, which are both excruciating and also a reflection of our lack of attention towards that person. Oops.
  • So, how do you start using someone’s name comfortably? The word comfortably is important here. It’s not about saying ‘Oh yes, Jane, I agree Jane - and Jane what do you think about that Jane?’ Of course it’s not. The way I find most comfortable and a great way to start, is to use a person’s name when asking them a question or when asking for a response. ‘So Jane, how long have you been working here?’ or ‘tell me a bit more about that, Jane, please.’
  • When you greet people today, use their name! ‘Hi there X’ and ‘Morning X, how’s it going?’ Notice yourself doing this and notice the response. Often it will be one of surprise. It really jolts the other person when they hear their name, especially when it’s unexpected. It’s so easy to just say ‘Hi there’ or ‘Morning’ without using the person’s name. Engage with them and grab their attention and one of the easiest ways to do this is to use their name.

If you don’t believe me, take it from that master of human relations Dale Carnegie who, in his famous book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ said, “If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.” Thank you for writing your timeless book Mr Carnegie, enough said.

Let’s make it your time to shine, in your own way. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards?

For more information and immediately helpful tips on how to connect and be valued and heard in business:

Here’s a helpful, immediate Gift for you. Q is for Questions (embed link please - A downloadable PDF of a chapter from my # 1 best-selling book The A to Z of Being Understood.

Use the chapter to lead conversations, to be more compelling when you first meet someone and - crucially - connect with colleagues, clients, customers by the power of your confident questions.

Kay White

Savvy & Influential Communication for Ambitious Women in Business,