When you give recognition to an employee, do you say their name correctly when expressing recognition to them?
I want to increase your awareness of the importance of using a person’s preferred name whenever you recognize them face-to-face, in written text, or in personalizing a tangible item with their name on it.
How do you think you’re doing in using people’s proper name?
Finding Out A Person’s Preferred Name
Now, the next question is not only whether you are using their right name but also that you are saying it correctly.
Recognition recipients always value being addressed by their given name, a nickname, or even a chosen name. And by doing some basic homework, just by sitting down with the employee ahead of time, you can ask them to teach you how to pronounce their name. This shows the employee how much you respect them and the name they go by. Often you can Google how to pronounce a person’s name into the search bar and most names have a YouTube video or audio file to help you.
In today’s gender fluid world, using a person’s chosen name reduces the odds of depression and anxiety. Failure to pronounce employees’ names properly can affect their socioemotional wellbeing.
It is so important to use a person’s preferred name. Know that a person’s right name is a powerful enhancer of all the recognition you give them.
Pronouncing a person’s name correctly should be a big deal but people often gloss over this, especially when senior leaders present awards to staff. Work with leaders to get this important part of award presentations correct.
Diversity and Inclusion in Saying Names Right
In our culturally diverse workplaces, you will often have employees whose families are second or third generation from their families who immigrated to your country. They often preserve their cultural heritage by using native names, often originating from their parents or grandparents.
When you mispronounce a person’s uncommon name, educator, Jennifer Gonzalez, described it as “mutilating someone’s name is a tiny act of bigotry.” Adam Levine-Peres, another teacher who experienced this problem with their students in school, suggests that mispronouncing a student’s name fails in establishing an environment of trust, sends the message that perseverance is not important, and communicates disrespect.
Learning how to pronounce an ethnic originating name takes perseverance and practice. I know when I have taken the time to figure out the right, phonetically correct pronunciation of a name, that the individuals have often smiled, and commented on how I said their name the right way. It meant a lot to them and they noticed.
Quick Steps To Highlight Someone’s Name
Here are some simple steps to consider whenever you recognize someone informally, one-on-one, or in front of a large group, such as an award presentation.
Confirm their preferred spoken name. Find out ahead of time what name a person likes to be addressedby. Sometimes individuals have Westernized their native name for their own personal comfort. You’ll find some employees have taken on names that helped their peers differentiate between similar named employees.
Say their name right beforehand. You should make it a practice before any recognition expression or presentation, to say their name the right way. Work in advance to get guidance and write out phonetically how to pronounce a person’s unfamiliar name. Keep in mind your act of wanting to say their name right shows respect and the recipient will appreciate your efforts.
Get the right name to present. Employees may want to be addressed in conversation or on the platform by their preferred name. However, check in with them to see if they still want to have their formal name on award programs and on certificates, plaques, or awards. Often, they like the personal touch of accompanying formal names with their preferred name placed in quotation marks.
Recognition Reflection: Do you prepare ahead of time to say and use a person’s name the right way in every recognition experience?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.