This is a short, but curmudgeonly, rant from your favourite forty-something.
These days, I notice that more people in professional settings—meetings, networking events and the like—introduce themselves or others by first name only. “Nice to meet you, I’m Harvey.” Or, “Andrea, this is Sarah.”
It bugs me.
Using full names for introductions matters. Introductions are momentous, or at least important, occasions. You are presenting your professional self (or others’ professional selves) to one or more people. In this context, you aren’t “Harvey”, but “Harvey Specter”; not “Sarah”, but “Sarah Chin”.
More often than not, you will add detail to put yourself in context (“I’m Harvey Specter, partner at Pearson Hardman”) or to put the person you are introducing into context (“This is Sarah Chin, who works with me in Marketing at Apple.”
Having a “hard” name is no excuse. Many people tell me that they just use their first names during introductions because their name is too hard for people. They don’t want to embarrass them with a name that Anglo tongues struggle to pronounce, or that is long, or it has an unusual pronunciation. I’m also curmudgeonly on this point. It’s your name. Don’t sell it—or say it—short!
“Verwey. Fur, like animal fur, VAY.” If you have a tricky name, as I do, the introduction is the very moment to get it out there. Repeat it SLOOOOWLY, spell it, offer your business card if you have to. Getting it right will help prevent embarrassment for the person to whom you’re speaking, show your confidence, and get you both off on the right foot.
Missed their name? If you meet someone and don’t catch their full name for whatever reason, don’t just let it go. Ask them to repeat it, look at their name-tag if they have one, and stick with it until you do have it right. It shows respect on what is, after all, an important occasion.
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