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Posts Tagged ‘names’

REMEMBERING NAMES

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 14, 2009

I hate to forget a person’s name. There is probably nothing more rude in business than to forget someone’s name, particularly if you have had to deal with them one-on-one. Years ago, when I was just starting out in business, I met a gentleman from Worcester, Massachusetts who attended one of our systems courses in Cincinnati. He was a nice guy and I actively worked with him during the class. Two weeks later, we held a customer conference in French Lick, Indiana where I happened to run into him again, this time on the golf course. My mind went totally blank as to what his name was, thus creating an awkward moment as we greeted each other (he, of course, remembered my name, but I was blocked). After some clever maneuvering, I finally got him to say his name which I instantly recognized. However, to make matters worse, I mispronounced the name of the town he is from which, if you are not from Massachusetts, is easy to butcher (look up “Worcester” in the dictionary and you’ll see what I mean). All in all, I didn’t score well in front of my customer that day. Consequently, I was determined not to let this happen again.

Following this episode, I started to take introductions more seriously and made a concerted effort to learn a person’s name, how they liked to be addressed, where he or she was from, and their interests. At the time, I developed a Rolodex file with this information printed on it. If I had to leave my office and visit customers on their premises, I would be sure to take pertinent cards from the file with me. Today, of course, I keep everything in a Personal Information Manager (PIM) which I can take with me anywhere on a flash drive, but the principle is still the same. This little intelligence has served me well over the years and I have impressed many customers with what I remembered about them, even years later. It’s not that I have developed a great memory, I haven’t, it’s just that I recognized the usefulness for remembering little details about people, cataloged them, either in my head or written down somewhere, and used it as needed to develop a good rapport with my clients.

Customers find it very comforting when such detail is remembered by their vendor. It gives them a sense of security that their interests are being maintained, which helps to develop trust and a bond between customer and vendor.

These days though, few people take the time to remember your name. As a small example, when you go to the drive-up window of a local bank, tellers are typically hospitable, but rarely do they take the time to remember your name. I hate it when they try to be pseudo-flirtatious with you when they don’t know who you really are. No, it doesn’t endear me to the bank.

It is these little observations that go a long way. As an example, perhaps the best secretary I ever saw was a lady named Myrna who worked for an I.T. Director in Chicago. The first time I visited the office, Myrna warmly greeted me and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. Saying Yes, she then asked me what I wanted in it. I said cream and sugar, which she then made for me. Months later when I returned to visit the I.T. Director, Myrna greeted me by name and presented me with a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Frankly, I was startled that she not only remembered my name but how I also liked my coffee. Later I found out that Myrna also maintained a simple card file; whenever someone visited the office, Myrna would record their name and the type of coffee they liked. Sharp. Very sharp.

It’s these little details that make a difference in customer relations. As Michelangelo said, “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.”

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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OUR CHANGING VERNACULAR

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 24, 2009

I’m told that English is the hardest language to learn, probably because of the idioms and slang we use. I don’t know which is worse, “American-ese” or our counterparts in the UK. Nonetheless I find it interesting how our language changes over time. Back in the 1930’s and 40’s, people were “swell” and “gay” meant to be lighthearted. In the 1960’s and 70’s, everything was “Super,” “Far out,” and “Hip,” but we don’t use these words anymore, nor do we use words like “Hi-fi,” “Stereo,” “Ethyl,” “Hi-Test,” “keypunch,” or “CRT.”

In the last ten years alone I’ve noticed changes in our vernacular. The following is a list of words and expressions that are currently a natural part of our vocabulary, yet weren’t used just ten years ago (the 1990’s): Hydrate, Hybrid, Green, Blog, WiFi, Multitasking, same-sex, “creative class,” chipotle, and pandemic (as an aside, I find it amusing this last word only applies to the mainstream vocabulary of the 21st century; I guess it wasn’t applicable for the Black Plague of the 14th – 18th centuries). These words were certainly in the dictionary before, but they weren’t a part of our speech patterns as they are today.

True, a lot of these words are driven by marketing and the media, but it is ultimately derived from our changing technology, diet, and moral values. In a way, a changing vernacular is indicative of our changing social priorities and attitudes. As a small example, how we communicate in the office today is substantially different than the 1950’s, thanks in large part to being “politically correct.” At the time, there was little sensitivity to racial or gender equality. Right or wrong, offices were masculine dominated and, as such, there was little concern for offending anyone in our language.

It also seems our youth are relying more and more on monosyllables words and are less inclined to engage in honest debate. When they argue, it is typically on the Internet and hiding behind the anonymity of a bogus user name whereby the discourse becomes vicious and sloppy. I interpret this as a “dumbing down” of America.

I seriously doubt that our forefathers from the 1700’s would understand what we say today, and people from the 1800’s would probably have trouble with our vocabulary as well.

Next, let’s consider how our first names have changed over the years. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the top five boys names are currently: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, and Daniel. All are fine old names. The top five girls names are: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, and Ava. Again, some fine established names here as well. Ten years ago though, we were swamped with names like: Britney, Heather, and Lindsay, but these have fallen off the radar lately, probably because Hollywood is changing.

It seems it was not too long ago that we heard names like Edna, Esther, Alice, Ruth, Annabelle, Doris, Harriet, Helen, Beatrice, Maxine, Laverne, Mildred, Agnes, Herbie, Herman, Orv, and Milt, but you don’t hear too many of these names among children today. We still have stalwart names like John, Joe, Bill, Bob, Susan, Katie, Linda, Anne, and Elizabeth, but even these are starting to dwindle in use. I guess this is why I was glad to hear “Emily” was making a comeback.

It’s fun to hear America talking, but you have to listen carefully to hear our world change.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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