Friday, 2 January 2009

My name is not Emma!

Some weeks ago, I had an e-mail reply from someone I'd contacted.

My e-mail was clearly signed off as "Emily Coltman". She sent her reply to "Dear Emma".

Last year I had a query on the video-making product I use, and sent an e-mail to their helpdesk. Their reply came back addressed to "Dear Amy".

What signal did that send me?

That my e-mails hadn't been read properly? Annoying, yes. But there was also the vibe that the person at the other end didn't care enough to make sure they were using the right name, which was particularly worrying in the second case, where I was the customer.

That's bad news, because misspelling or mispronouncing a person's name, or using a nickname they don't like, is something that can really upset them.

My husband's name is Matthew. He gets really wound up if anyone spells his name as "Mathew".

My father's name is David. He's recounted many times how people have been introduced to him with "This is David" and then greeted him with a hearty "Hello, Dave". But he really doesn't like being called Dave!

Using the wrong appellation (good old-fashioned word that) for a person is something that can sour your whole business relationship with them.

But addressing someone as they like to be addressed is a great and very simple way to build mutual respect.

Matt and I bought our first home this year, from a couple at least a generation older than us. We addressed them as Mr and Mrs Thorpe until they gave us permission to use their first names. They appreciated our courtesy and liked us better for doing that, and the mutual respect it helped to generate served all of us well when there were problems with the mortgage lending.

So don't overlook the very simple rule of addressing everyone you deal with as they like to be addressed. And make sure you spell their names right - ask them if you're not sure!


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