Tuesday Tactic: Always use the name they gave you

Tuesday Tactic: Always use the name they gave you.

My name is Jonathan. At work, I go by Jonathan. I introduce myself as Jonathan. My email signature shows Jonathan.

Yet almost daily someone decides to make up some other name for me. Today it was “John” (yeah, with an H). This is the usual suspect. Sometimes I get “Jay.”

The frequency I am called by some other name has birthed a slight obsession with my own practice of calling people by the name they gave me.

If you have Robert in your email, I don’t call you Bob or Rob.

If you have Theodore on your business card, I don’t call you Theo.

If somebody says this is Mr. Edward James calling, I say “how can I help you Mr. James?” (in lieu of “What up, Teddy?)

To me, it’s a subtle display of respect.

If starting off on the right tone is important in your next interaction, then always use the name they gave you.


*Want a grandmaster move? For names that are commonly shortened, ask if they prefer to be called by their full name. If they prefer a shortened name, then ask if you can call them that. Don’t assume.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Tuesday Tactic

Published on February 4, 2020

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