Tag Archive for: Romeo and Juliet

A Rose by Any Other Name

Probably one of the most famous lines ever penned was from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The saying conveys this – what really matters is what something is, not what we call it. It’s true that a rose would smell no different had we called it anything else.

But, names do matter, even if they don’t change the thing being described, because they change us and how we think and respond. Here’s a nice example; Chilean Sea Bass, a popular dish, wasn’t such a hot seller when it was referred to by its real name, the Patagonian Toothfish. That name’s not too appealing and fish eaters didn’t think so either. Ah, but sales took a turn for the better when it was renamed because Chilean Sea Bass sounds interesting and exotic.
Let’s focus on Dale Carnegie now because he said, “The sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name.” We’ve all met people who wish they’d have been given a different name. Johnny Cash made that notion famous when he sang about A Boy Named Sue. However, despite complaining, most people who wish they had a different name will never change their name.
Making it a point to use someone’s name can help you win friends and influence people for lots of reasons.
Most people get a sense of importance when their name is used. This makes me think about my college days when I worked as a valet a Muirfield Village Golf Club, the place where Jack Nicklaus hosts The Memorial Tournament each year. One summer a car pulled up and as I opened the door one of Jack’s very close friends, a founding member of the golf course, got out of the car and what he did next I’ll never forget – he simply said, “Thanks, Brian.”
As I type this I still remember how this important man, Jack Nicklaus’ friend, using my name made me gasp a little. I couldn’t believe he knew who I was. Then I noticed my name badge, the one worn by all valets. But that didn’t change the reality of how I felt and that I still remember it 25 years later!
If you want to make someone feel important, maybe even make their day, try using their name. Give it a shot next time you’re checking out at the grocery store or use your server’s name when you eat out next time. I bet you’ll also get better service in both instances.
Using another person’s name also creates sense of relationship. Once when I was traveling I stopped in a TGI Friday’s for dinner. The server behind the bar came over, said, “Hi, I’m Ron. What’s your name?” Then he stuck out his hand to shake mine. As we shook I told him my name and he replied, “Brian, I’ll be your server tonight. If you need anything just let me know.”
Each time Ron came by to check on me it was, “How is everything, Brian?” or, “Can I get you another beer Brian?” Whenever he addressed me it was by name. So there I was in a different city, sitting in a restaurant where I didn’t know anyone but I felt like Ron and I were friends. I have to believe he enjoyed his job a little more because he felt like he was waiting on friends. And I’m sure he got much better tips too because he engaged Liking.
One more reason to use people’s name is simply this; it gets their attention. Imagine you’re at a crowded event where there’s lots of background noise and talk going on. You’re not paying any particular attention until you hear your name. It’s amazing how good your listening becomes at that point as you try to figure out if it’s you someone is talking about.
This applies to email too. Several years ago I sent an email to about 300 people who’d been through some training I’d conducted. In the email I asked for some success stories but got none! I didn’t hang my head and think the training was ineffective because I knew it was good stuff. I concluded the culprit was a psychological phenomenon known as “diffusion of responsibility.” Because my email wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular, everyone thought someone else would respond and ultimately no one did.
So after about a week of no replies I changed my method. The next communication was a “personalized” email. Using the Microsoft mail merge feature I simply included people’s first names from my training database. Rather than print letters I merged into an email so 300 separate emails went out in the span of about two minutes. Each person’s name was at the top and I asked a question about the training. The result – within a week I had 125 replies and got dozens of great success stories! Taking away the impersonal nature and including a question was all it took.
So to quote Dale Carnegie, “Remember their name,” because this engages Liking and builds relationships.
Have you found it to be the case that you feel and act differently when people use your name? Have you seen people respond differently to you when you use their name? If you answered “yes” to yourself on either of those leave a comment below so we can learn more.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”