Monday, 2 May 2011

What's in a name?

I am sure millions of people will now be aware of, tweeted/blogged about this Fox News fail:

We can all make mistakes but getting a name wrong, particularly on national news, is really not good. (That’s my understatement of the day.)

When interacting with someone I don’t really know or have just met, I like to check their name. If they don’t have a name badge on (and who does in real life as opposed to some work situations) I may ask what they are called. I hope using someone’s name shows the personal human interest that can make a big difference to how the other person feels. I expect companies invest in major training programmes to get their employees to use names to create that personal touch which is so important in good customer services.

Overuse of someone’s name is not so good. Especially if you get the name wrong.

I used to go out with somebody who seemed to have more names than is necessary for one person. His first name is Antony (yes, no ‘h’) and that’s what his mother calls him. The main abbreviation of this is Tony and that’s what most of his friends, including me, call him. Another abbreviation is Ant and that’s what at least one of his sisters calls him. But then he is also known as Bradley.

He got this name because he used to work in a travel call centre type job where nobody was allowed to use the same name as another operator. I think this was so that a customer could call back and say that they had been speaking to, for example, Tony and the centre would know who they meant.  There was already a Tony working there when he joined so Antony/Ant/Tony had to be Bradley and that’s what his friends from those days in his life know him as. He still uses Bradley for work purposes since leaving the call centre.

My mother was a doctor. Her professional name was her maiden name because she qualified as a doctor before marrying my father. This was useful because we could usually distinguish between phone calls for her depending on who the caller asked for. It didn’t matter whether they used the title Dr or Mrs.

She was on the lists for a couple of wine companies whose reps would bring wines to the house for private tastings hopefully leading to sales. I think she was initially targeted not just because my parents bought wine but because my mother was a doctor and doctors drink! We knew when it was a wine company phoning because of who they would ask for.

As an actor, I’m glad I’ve only got the one name. I’m lucky that when I joined Equity, having already been working for many years, I was able to keep my own name as my professional/stage name. Equity does not allow two members to have the same name. Perhaps that’s why so many actors end up working in call centres.

PS I’m not telling you my name but that’s another story.

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