The Power of a Name

Have you ever been in a situation where you are introduced to another and yet two minutes later you couldn’t recall their name? Yeah; this happens to me a lot more than I am willing to admit. I wonder how it makes that person feel, knowing I didn’t take note of it. Perhaps it’s time I learned the power in using someone’s name.

We are sensitive creatures, aren’t we? Our names are important to us and we like people to remember our names. Young people often dream of their name being in bright lights with tons of adoring fans screaming it at the top of their lungs. Essentially, what are they really looking for? Is their name really that important? Honestly, I believe what they are truly seeking is to be noticed; to know that someone paid attention to them. If we are truthful with ourselves, don’t we all want that?

I remember listening to a particular TED Talk which discussed just this topic. The presenter was outlining not only the power in someone using your name, but the power in using theirs.

Lately, I have made a point of practicing this. When meeting someone new, I purposefully use their name and address them. When I speak to a customer service representative, I use their name and act personable. While serving in ministry, I take note of who I am serving with and address them properly. You know what? It’s true! I have experienced firsthand how people react to their names being used; it’s powerful stuff.

You’d be shocked at how surprised people are when you actually take the time to use their name, especially when dealing with those in our service. How often do we use the name of the person helping us? Do we address the girl at the service desk by name or as a nameless face, merely here to meet our needs? It takes them by surprise when we take that brief moment to observe their name tags and use their names, treating them like human beings and not machines.

While I did this primarily for me – thinking this an important habit to make – my children have begun to take notice. They see me making a point to pay attention, be observant, and use people’s names. They see how important it is to me and how other people react to their name being used. My children are learning to treat people with respect and dignity, no matter who they are. Prayerfully, what they are seeing will set a good example and they will take to heart my actions.

I’ve heard it said that if you are introduced to someone new, it’s a good idea to say that person’s name several times during your brief conversation. “It’s nice to meet you, —!” “What do you think about this, —-?” By using their name a few times, you increase the likelihood of remembering it. I think I’ll give it a try; it’s worth a shot!

Time to Chime In: Do you have a hard time remembering people’s names? Share your tricks, tips, and thoughts on this topic!

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10 thoughts on “The Power of a Name

  1. I used to be so good to remember names! People were very often surprised that I remembered their names although we only met briefly. Others relied on me to remember names (business). But man! Do I have a hard time doing it now a days!!! Some blame it on breastfeeding… But I am far from that… So maybe the brain cells just die off? Or maybe we can just not focus on that anymore the way we used to? Or it’s not as important to us anymore? I don’t know… But hey! Why am I telling you that? Who are you again? What’s your name??? 😉

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  2. Guilty!! I have a hard time with names… Life is so busy and distracting anymore. I love the idea that you for using their name in the conversation so it sticks with you. 🙂

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  3. A tip my husband has used in business for years and he makes mental notes to associate something else about them with the name.. He is a master at this, me not so much…I am still trying to remember the names of the mothers for the bowling homesxhool group… I get the children’s names right away….
    We are sensitive creatures… A few years ago I didn’t put on the name tag at my husband’s company event as they spelled my name wrong… I had worked at the company too, so they knew better…

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  4. I’m one of those people who read name tags of cashiers and address them by name. It’s amazing the looks you get isn’t it? There’s a cashier that works in a grocery we frequent and this woman is incredible with names. I hadn’t seen her in 5 years and went into the store last year. She remembered my name!

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    • It is amazing! I remember one store we frequented regularly; we were on friendly terms with a great deal of the staff. When we had our children, they all wanted to crowd in and see the newborns. They even went so far as to buy us flowers; how thoughtful was that!

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  5. Sister Cristina, you know the example that the Lord gave us as far as how wonderful a name can be is Jesus, Himself. Yes, His is the name above every name, but He is also the example of the importance knowing a name.
    Relationships derive from knowing and acknowledging people’s names. I have ministered for 40+ years now in many, many different situations and I have learned from our Redeemer’s example in the importance of acknowledging names. Our names, identify us as SOMEONE, and as you stated not just some nameless person serving us.
    When my wife and I go to a restaurant, we make it a habit, right off the bat, to get our waiter’s/waitresses’ name. We have found that the service is so much more cordial, even in the busiest times, a person has a tendency to smile more often and just from personal experience it makes you feel like the other person values you a bit more. Just because someone identifies you by name.
    Sadly one of the things that seems to make people seem so much more disconnected is that so many don’t care to know your name. People as a whole begin to feel less of themselves and as you can see in our society, people pass one another with hardly a nod, a smile, or even the slightest acknowledgement. The Lord told to go out into the crowds amongst the people to show them His love. How do we show the Lord our love? By praising and worshipping Him AND His name! We don’t praise in worship one another, but we do edify or uplift one another when we call them by their name. We acknowledge that they ARE someone!!
    Great lesson, Sister Cristina, great and needed!! God bless again, Sis, continually!

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