A name is very important. Your own name, what you name your child, your pet, your business, your group, your projects…it’s all very important. Think about it, your name is all you own as a child. So when people get it wrong or even better, when people choose to get it wrong its offensive. My name is Tanya, enunciated Tawnya so I know exactly what it’s like for people to mispronounce your name, constantly. Its grating, it’s tiring and it’s deflating.
Because it’s my NAME. And my name is part of my identity, and because it shows a complete lack of respect for my person. Simply; it’s not right. And I find it confusing that in general, it doesn’t seem to matter. And what I know and what I work on is not dismissing that person because they are ignorant to how their words affect me, and my person.
I worked with a woman in an office of 9, and after four years she continued to call me Tan-ya. And it says more about her than it ever could about me. But it also says a lot about the management in that office. Her blatant lack of respect for me was not corrected by the leader. And I grew tired of correcting her.
In order to be inclusive you must treat people equally, that means honouring their name and their person. That means doing the easy things like putting effort into getting their name right. It also means calling it out when your staff is not treating each other respectfully. Our Manager knew it was wrong, knew it was grating and knew it affected more than me. He chose to do nothing because she was troublesome in many ways. Doing nothing actually ‘did’ a few things, one it let me know that my worth ranked below her potential tantrums. Two; it gave her a lot of power, which she used. Three; it let the other staff know the management was afraid of her and four; it defined the imbalance of power and made it possible and probable that none of us would respect, trust or follow the leader. Because he wasn’t really the leader was he?
It’s my opinion that getting someone’s name right, maybe not the first time, but once corrected, speaks volumes to setting the foundation for your relationship. I am sensitive to my name because it’s a name that most get wrong. What always shocks me is that a lot of people don’t seem to care if they get your name wrong, or when they laugh because it’s funny that they got it wrong. And that they expect you to be respectful and receive their message but they are not respectful enough to say your name correctly when sending the message. Does anyone else see this as flawed?
I worked for a guy who knew everyone’s name, even the cleaners. He made a point of talking to them and using their names. He taught me a great lesson, no matter their rank, their job or their name, they mattered to the make-up of the workplace and to him. And to simply acknowledge them, he made them part of our team by giving them respect and value. So then we gave them respect. and saw their value.
It’s worth it, they are worth it and it will create equality and respect among your team. And more importantly, it will set a standard. What standard are you setting?