My Name’s Not Steve!

My five and three-year-old daughters are hooked on the Barbie movie A Fairytale Princess. I haven’t seen the movie start to finish, but I’ve seen enough to know that I don’t want to see it start to finish.

One part of the movie I thought was funny/interesting was when one of the characters keeps calling Ken by the wrong name. Every time she refers to him it’s a different name, some of which are not even close to his real name. Ken is clearly annoyed and is constantly correcting the lady but even at the end of the movie she still can’t get his name right.

The reason I find this interesting and even a bit funny is that it hits close to home. In business I know and have seen several people who cannot get people’s names, the business name or product names correct.

I’ve got a difficult last name and have grown up having to correct people, spell my last name and tell people how to pronounce it. I’m used to it and expect it, but I also expect that once I’ve told somebody how to say it that they’ll get it right moving forward.

In a business setting I think there is a certain amount of professionalism to getting a persons name, business name or product name right. A mispronunciation the first time is acceptable, but an ongoing inability to get the name right is unacceptable, especially when you’ve been told the proper pronunciation. It shows a lack of interest, focus and general disregard for the person and, in my opinion, raises questions about their ability to produce the results desired if they can’t even get something as simple as my name, my business name or my product name right.

As a PR person, I talk to a lot of people about our clients. I refer to the company, the product or service as well as individuals within the company such as the CEO, COO, CFO and other executives. I’m usually the media’s first introduction to our clients and their first impression of our clients. The media demands accuracy, often asking people to spell their names and company names to make sure they are accurate.

I’ve seen PR people Tweet and add Facebook updates about clients that include inaccurate spellings of names. This, in my mind, is unacceptable and should never happen. In one instance, a colleague referred to the CEO of a client and spelled his name wrong in a document. The CEO caught the misspelling and politely pointed it out. My colleague came back to him in our next meeting with the revised version of the document but still had not corrected the spelling of the CEO’s name. This time, the CEO was not polite as he told my colleague that his name was STILL misspelled.

In anther instance, a neighbor kept calling me Steve. My name is not Steve. The first time he called me Steve I laughed and explained that my name is not Steve. It happened again and again I pointed out that my name is NOT Steve. The third time he called me Steve I responded by calling him Walter. He looked at me like he couldn’t believe I didn’t know his name. He was quick to point out that his name wasn’t Walter. I was quick to point out to him for the third time that my name isn’t Steve. After that he finally started calling me by my given name, Richard, I mean Jeremy.

It really shouldn’t be that hard. It requires paying attention to detail and focusing on what people are saying and telling you. An inability to get names right makes you look bad and can cost you respect and business.