By: Brennan Scanlon, Referral Institute Cincinnati
As a younger man I have fond memories of conversations I had with my older brother. He was successful in business and had many friends. Knowing this, I always paid close attention to what he had to say. On a car ride to lunch one day, he shared with me one of his pet peeves…being called “guy”. As in “hey there guy” or “what do you say guy?” I found that interesting because being called “guy” did not offend me. In fact, I brain-stormed all the “I don’t know your name clichés” including but not limited to; chief, sport, fella, partner, buddy, boss, pal, and of course guy. None of these offended me, why was “guy” so bad?
As I got older I realized that it was not the word that was offensive, it was the arrogance/laziness of those who use & abuse them. What is easier, learning everyone’s name or picking one generic name for everyone? Call all males “pal” & all females “sweetie”. On to the easy life! Okay, I’ll stop, but its only funny because these people do exist! Now, I realize that most of us don’t use these generic name’s, typically we just don’t say anything. However, there are an elite few who regularly speak the sweetest sound a human being can utter, someone’s name. If you are like me, you appreciate a couple good strategies for drawing out the precious name of the person that you may have forgotten.
First, teamwork is everything. Often times you are not by yourself, literally. Whether you are with your spouse, a business associate, or a friend, get into the habit of helping them remember names too. For example, you & and your spouse approach a friend of yours that your spouse has only met a few times. In the first 5 seconds of the greeting politely say, “honey, you remember Bill don’t you?” To which your spouse will proclaim “of course!” Do this enough and your hubby, among others, will do this for you too.
Second scenario? Let’s assume you are alone. How do you proceed from here? You can either hang in the corner hoping not to make eye contact. Now you not only don’t remember their name, but you are snubbing them too! Or perhaps, try this. With all the confidence in the world walk directly up to the individual who’s name you’ve forgotten, extend for the handshake, and with your free hand point directly back at yourself and utter the sweetest sound in your universe, your name. Then, be silent. I’d love to say all the time (though I cannot), but the majority of the time they will point at themselves and do the same. Why is this a good strategy? Odds are, they have forgotten your name too, and you’ve just let them off the hook.
Of course, name badges solve a lot of these problems. Although, they can look a little silly if folks are wearing them at the little league baseball game or at the swimming pool (chest hair…ouch). No matter what, people appreciate sincerity and humility. Be real & be honest. If you have forgotten a name, politely ask for it again. It is only when you repeatedly ask for it that you will lose credibility. If all else fails, you can always use “guy” or “sweetie”, just don’t be offended if they call you “dude” or “honey”.
Brennan Scanlon is a Referral Institute Franchise owner as well as an Executive Director for BNI, Business Network Int’l (www.bni-ohio.com) SW Ohio & No. KY Region. He has been ranked in the Top 10% of BNI Directors nationally for the last two consecutive years, this ranking resulting in performance reviews submitted by BNI members. Most recently, Brennan has been inducted into BNI’s Founder’s Circle 2008-2009 as nominated by his peers and approved by BNI’s Founder, Dr. Ivan Misner.