You want an easy hack? Whenever you’re dealing with someone, especially in the service industry, use their name.
When meeting your server at the restaurant, remember his name, and when you ask for things, say it back. “James, may I get another glass of water with lemon?” “Ramesh, this is the best aloo mutter I have ever had. Please thank the cook.”
It’s amazing how this bonds people to you.
People love hearing their own name. It’s something built in. For whatever reason, it makes a little touch, a “ping” against our inner validity when people know and remember our names.
When you meet people with names foreign to your language, make sure you get them right. Don’t belabor the issue, but ask them to repeat it a few times, and try your best to get it close to what they’re saying. In lots of cultures, people won’t correct you once you’ve gone off and started saying their name incorrectly, and yet, I imagine it’s something of a stab every time they hear it.
On the phone with a customer service representative, sometimes names serve two purposes. One, it gives the person on the other end of the line the cue that you are attentive, so they should be on their best game, and also, you know who might have given you incorrect information. The first premise applies: people love hearing their own name, but these other two layered on make it a great thing to consider.
State your name
When dealing with people, especially for the first time, lead with your name. Do this when calling places. “Hi, my name is Chris Brogan. May I speak with Dave?” It disarms people on the other side of a phone call, because one question when dealing with a telephone is always, “who is on the other end?” You answer this right off, and people can focus more on what you need. It also comes off that you’re not hiding anything, and this is disarming to recipients as well.
Start voicemails with your name, so that there’s no chance of people not knowing who called. Introduce yourself in social settings with your name, even if others are just making small-talk. This helps with that weird feeling afterwards, where you’ve bonded a bit, but you have no clue the other person’s name, nor they yours.
Names are powerful in dealing with people, and people are a vital part of all service. Try this out and see what you think of the results. For the record, my name is Chris Brogan.
— Chris Brogan is a regular writer at Lifehack.org. He is working on a site to grow and develop new content networks at GrasshopperFactory.com, and he puts up even more posts and articles at [chrisbrogan.com]. Occasionally, he sleeps.