Getting a Name Right Matters
Names are important, whether they’re first names or last names. It represents their identity and heritage. This is why getting someone’s name right means a lot. On the topic of inclusion and inclusivity, being aware of how to pronounce someone’s name is important, as well as using any preferred names. As many people have experienced disrespect or embarrassment caused by people who are unwilling to pronounce their names correctly. We’re going to go through some ways in which you can become better at pronouncing names.
Why is it important?
If you have a name that’s perceived as ‘easy’ to remember or say, you might not know the feeling of having your name constantly mispronounced. Or having to correct people a lot. This is why it’s important to get someone’s name right. You should be asking yourself, ‘what message do I send when I get their name wrong?’ For this, you’re not only challenging their identity but also giving out the message that their name is too hard to get right. Additionally that putting in the mental energy and effort into pronouncing it correctly isn’t worth it. They should just have a nickname instead, but that’s not right!
It isn’t really that hard! We do get names that are difficult right all the time because it matters to us. Designers and footballers are good examples of this. So someone we work with or teach should also matter. We’re going to go through some helpful tips to help you get names right.
The most important thing is to just ask the person how they pronounce their name and clarify what they would like to be called. Rather than assuming it’s okay to shorten it to make it easier for you. You shouldn’t be scared or nervous to do it, it shows you’re interested and willing to make the conscious effort to get their name right all the time.
- Ask the person how to say their name and refrain from making comments that it’s difficult or asking if they have a nickname.
- View it as your responsibility to get it right and if necessary, practice saying it.
- Listen to how others say it. The people who are close to the individual will almost always be saying it correctly
- Take a couple of seconds to pause, to consciously consider how to say someone’s name before you say it.
You won’t need to consciously think about it every time. Eventually, it’ll become subconscious and you’ll know the name without having to think about it.
Be an Ally
Add the phonetic spelling of your name to your email signature, to help others understand the correct pronunciation of your name. You can also do this on your social media, such as LinkedIn. There are some handy guides to help you with spelling your name phonetically. Even if the pronunciation of your name is obvious or easy, adding the phonetic spelling to your email or social media may help with any hesitation others may feel when doing so themselves. Your actions will help normalise the practice and make it easier for those who benefit from it to do the same.
Don’t show that you are doing them a favour by trying to pronounce their name right. Or that the effort is difficult for you. Instead, empower and support them. If someone corrects you for mispronouncing their name, rather than saying ‘I’m so sorry’. Instead, say ‘Thank you for correcting me’.
Make learning to say names right a positive experience for yourself and those whose names you are trying to honour. We have the power to promote a more diverse, inclusive and accepting culture. As well as promoting respect and open communication.
What if you get a name wrong?
You shouldn’t feel guilty about correcting someone. Try to do it in a way that doesn’t embarrass them, it’s better to do it in a one-on-one situation rather than around a group of people. As it depends on the relationship you have with the person. It may be appropriate to do it in a group setting.
If you get someone’s name wrong, it’s similar to how you would correct yourself if you misgender someone, you apologise, correct the sentence and then move on to say you will do better next time, and make that effort. Actions speak louder than words. So try your hardest to get their name right every time.
Why is it important?
As an assessor, you’re the first port of call for your students. So getting your learners’ names right is extremely important. Not only to give respect but to make them feel comfortable in the environment and make them feel like they matter. This is paramount in teaching students. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call our team on 01205 805 155 and we would be happy to help.