“Gordon, I’m sorry to tell you that we have to push back your start date,” said Isaiah Jackson, the hiring manager at Westmond Electronics.  “We contacted your university and couldn’t get confirmation that you graduated.”

“That’s absurd,” responded Gordon Shafer.  “I think I know the problem.  The registrar’s office misspelled my name throughout college.  They added an extra f to my last name to make it Shaffer.  No matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t get them to correct the spelling.  You would think that $30,000 a year in tuition payments would at least entitle you to a correctly spelled name.  Let me contact them and see if I can get this corrected.”

“Good luck,” responded Jackson.  “There is no worse bureaucracy in our country than university registrars.  I understand your anger, but let me share with you my own story.”

“My family is very religious.  For generations, children have been named for biblical characters.  That’s the background on my name:  Isaiah.  My father’s name was Samson, and he was a railroad porter.  All of the porters were African Americans.  Rather than being known by their own names, they were all called George, after George Pullman who developed a service model for trains.  Porters would carry luggage, shine shoes, and were basically servants to passengers.  They were paid very little, and there wasn’t that much of a difference in their jobs than what existed on plantations.”

“The porters hated being called George.  They felt the name was demeaning to them as individuals.  Basically, they felt that their lives mattered so little, that others didn’t even need to remember their names.  For my father, being called George was a stain on our family’s religious heritage.”

When Isaiah finished, Gordon was incredulous.  “Gordon, we will get you hired, but there is a lesson here.  You need to become good at remembering names.  That’s a little know trait of great leaders.”

How are you at remembering names?  There are people who joke about their inability to remember names.  That’s not a joke to the other person.  It’s a sign of disrespect.  There are lots of techniques for remembering names, but none of them work unless you really care enough to show respect to others.

Think about your own situation.  How often has someone forgotten your name or called you by the wrong name?  How did this make you feel?  Could you ever imagine having a connection with someone who can’t remember your name?  Remembering names may sound like a trivial matter, but it’s one of those little things that make a big difference.

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“A good name is rather to be chosen than riches.” – Solomon

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.