What’s in a Name?

Names are one of the most unique identifiers a person has. People feel pride in and attachment to their name. A last name is important because of the family ties and the bond it implies to those related to you. A first name is more distinctive, picked by your parents and holds a special significance to the person possessing it. I think everyone is proud of their name, and appreciates when people use it. Referring to people by their name instead of simply addressing them as you, him, her, sir, ma’am or not using any form of identification makes a person feel special and important. To quote a Washington Post article, “A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person.”

How many interactions do you have with a people in a day? Five? Ten? Fifty? One hundred? Maybe more? Think about how many times you actually use someone’s name when you interact with them. Maybe twenty percent of the time? A little more? A little less? From casually bumping into someone in the hallway and saying, “what’s up?” or buying food in the Bison and saying, “thank you”, I don’t think most people do a good job of using people’s names in everyday conversation. Remembering and using someone’s name makes them feel respected, important and also reflects well on you for remembering and using their name.

Most of us are preparing to leave Bucknell and begin new chapters of our lives elsewhere. I challenge each and every one of you to make it a point to remember and use the name of every person you interact with, starting tomorrow, April 27, 2015. See how this goes for a day. After you do it for a day, try it for a week. After a week, continue it for a month. Pretty soon, it will become a habit and see how this impacts your life and the lives of those around you. You never know how using someone’s name will impact his or her day. Sooner or later, I guarantee doing something so simple as calling everyone by their name will create a tipping point, and ultimately benefit your life, and the lives of others.


7 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?”

  1. I try this sometimes in restaurants, and if you do it so you seem like you are connecting (and not being smarmy or sarcastic), you can often create a better service interaction. In part, because it is so rare, I think.

    People wear name tags for a reason…

    I’ll add, too, that you should know the meaning or origin of your name…

    I am amazed how often people, especially with Italian American names, don’t know their meaning or origin… Even if the name has shifted over time, ask your parents, grandparents and others.


  2. For example,

    Jordi is from Catalan, it is George. He was a farmer-general and dragon-slayer. The day of Sant Jordi is April 23rd and is a book-giving Holiday in Barcelona.

    Ross, my middle name, was my maternal grandfather’s first name. Actually, his nickname,,, he was really Roscoe. But he went by Ross and my Mom never liked Roscoe. It is from English origins and was used by many generations on my mother’s side.

    Comas, also from my father, is from Catalunya also and refers to a high mountain pass or saddle. Maybe my ancestors where shepherds or otherwise from “las comas” of the Pyrennes mountains between France and Spain.

    Your turn, Caleb.


  3. My dinner date from last week’s blog, Mindy Kaling, has written a theory on being bad with names: “I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are ‘bad with names.’ No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.’ ”

    I think she’s right and using someone’s name shows that you took that extra second to get to know them.


    1. I usually tell people I’m bad with names – if I forget their name next time, I have an excuse, but if I remember it, I’m impressive. However, I’ve been told many times that calling another by their name increases their liking of you. I’ve been trying much harder to use the names of others this year, and when i do, I feel like I have a magic weapon to increase the chances they like me. WikiHow has 8 suggestions for how to remember others’ names. I definitely feel its a habit worth forming.


  4. In my internship this past summer at Wyndham, the interns were fortunate enough to be able to meet with many executives, including the CEO Steve Holmes. However, by far the most impressive executive we met was Geoff Ballotti, Wyndham’s CFO. The reason? He had a knack for remembering everyone’s name. After brief introductions with each of the 40+ interns, he had all of our names memorized by the end of the hour long session. Remembering names is a skill, and an underestimated one at that.


  5. I completely agree with the importance of using peoples’ names when speaking to them. There is absolutely an emotional subconscious connection when people hear other people referring to them using their name. This really is something that is easy for people to start using in their daily life and could make an actual difference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s