Pronouncing Someone’s Name Correctly!
I have a funny story with an old-school public speaking coach.
He was overall a great guy.
A powerful speaker who gave tough love and wisdom on autopilot.
I ended up working with him for a couple of months.
Things were going well.
After meeting number 4, I noticed something bizarre.
He couldn’t pronounce my name correctly.
My name is Arman.
- Think Armani without the i.
However, time and time again, he’d call me:
I felt embarrassed to correct him because he was my senior.
One day, his assistant corrected him for me.
‘You know his name is Arman, not Armen. Why do you keep calling him Armen?’
The public speaking coach was lost.
‘What do you mean? I’m saying his name correctly. Armen.’
That’s when I corrected him.
He had no clue what I was saying.
From his view, he saw nothing wrong.
What Happens When You Mispronounce Someone’s Name
It finally clicked for my coach when I said:
‘Armani without the i.’
When he finally said:
I felt a flush of sensations in my body.
This was the only time he said my name correctly.
At this point, he had called me Armen so much that it was too late for him to change his ways.
It was my fault for not correcting him earlier.
I still recall the sensations I felt when he said my name correctly.
When he called me Armen, I felt nothing.
There was a binary aspect to this encounter.
Pronounced correctly or not?
No middle ground territory.
Like an on or off switch.
Close enough was good as the light switch being off.
How to Pronounce Someone’s Name Correctly
There are certain names that are difficult to pronounce.
Even if someone has the right intention, it’ll be difficult for their tongue to make certain movements.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the speaker is being lazy.
But it’s more complicated.
The tongue has TONS of micro muscles that are invisible to the human eye.
Trying to make micro twists with the tongue to get the right pronunciation is difficult indeed.
Good news though.
Most names are not super complicated to pronounce!
You just need to ask them how it’s pronounced.
Always ask when you are unsure.
There are times when I meet a foreign person who seems like they have an easy name to pronounce.
But something in my body feels uncertain.
So, I ask:
‘Is it pronounced Fah-Tima or Fuh-Teema?’
‘It’s actually pronounced Fuh-Teema but people always call me Fah-Tima.’
Because I’ve been calling her Fah-Tima this whole time.
‘My bad! I’ll call you Fuh-Teema from here on out.’
‘No worries, I don’t mind! I’m used to it. I’m really glad that you asked though.’
People love it when you ask how to pronounce their names if you’re unsure.
I used to think people would get offended, but that’s not the case.
By the way, I call her Fuh-Tima nowadays.
The Practical Value of Nicknames
I was not offended by my public speaking coach for not being able to consistently call me Arman.
Because I’ve been through this rodeo many times.
White people add an ‘E’ to my name:
Spanish people add a ‘D’ to my name:
As a kid, an embarrassing moment turned into a practical moment.
My teacher, Ms. Leiba, once saw me raising my hand in class.
Then she got embarrassed.
‘I mean, Arman.’
The entire classroom busted out laughing.
‘Armani! Haha. Ms. Leiba called Arman, Armani.’
I was embarrassed because everyone was laughing at me.
But I also noticed something…
People who normally found it difficult to say Arman were effortlessly saying Armani.
Over time, whenever someone asked me if they were pronouncing my name correctly, I’d respond:
‘You’re very close. It’s like the Armani without the i.’
Then they’d say my name beautifully.
And I’d feel a flush of sensations in my body.
As time went on, I went by Armani as well.
Heck, it’s the name of my brand! ArmaniTalks.
Something about the name is unforgettable.
I believe having a nickname is clutch.
It helps you navigate the issue of having a tricky name.
The Power of The Name
I’d be remiss if I didn’t end this post with why the name is so important.
The name is who we are.
I always felt a flurry of sensations when someone said my name correctly.
Because birthdays are the most important day to a human, and the name is the most important word to a human.
The birthday was the day we were born, physically speaking.
The name is the day we were born, metaphysically speaking.
A person’s name is who they are.
Think about it like this.
We have been through tons of experiences in our lives.
However, a few memories stick out.
Imagine a person named Jonathan.
He’s 30 years old.
He’s been through 30 years’ worth of experiences.
At this stage of his life, he views himself as an activist.
When he views himself through that story, he filters his life experiences through the lens of an ‘activist.’
This will cause certain memories to pop.
He will recall the moments when he was bullied.
The fear he felt.
He’ll recall the relief he felt when someone finally stood up for him against the bullies.
That moment allowed him to understand how important it was to stand up for people who don’t have a voice.
30 years’ worth of experiences has been reduced to a few specific moments.
These specific moments are the items within the package.
Guess what the package is?
The person’s name.
- Johnathan (package) the activist (the items within the package).
The name is the first brand that we have.
Others take it very seriously.
Improve your likeability by adding importance to someone’s brand.