Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Let's Name Names

     I've written several times this year, including just the other day, about the importance of using people's names whenever possible.  Today I spent a good portion of my day traveling home from Phoenix.  As is typically the case with traveling, I came into contact with so many different workers - people at the ticket counter, TSA folks, baggage handlers, flight attendants, workers at the Paradise Cafe where I bought lunch, and the shuttle driver for the offsite parking place, among many others.  Any time they were wearing a name tag, I made a point to thank them and wish them a good day, always using their name.  A number of times, people gave me a pleased smile, indicating the fact that I used their name had registered with them and made a difference.
     Recognizing this impact, it occurred to me that so many companies miss a huge opportunity to create human connections by not having people wear name tags.  I notice that when people are wearing a name tag, they seem to have an extra bounce in their step.  They walk with a little more pride.  I think it's because it helps them to feel less anonymous.  Incidentally, I think this is much more true when the name tag has the first name than their last.  If it only has their last name, it's more like a standard uniform than it is a personal statement.
     It also seems to me that there's even a bigger opportunity to create connections, particularly in the travel industry, when people's name tags also show where they're from.  Sometimes I see this with workers at resort golf clubs.  When you see where the person is from, and you know something about that place, it's so totally natural to strike up a conversation with them, comparing notes or seeking additional connections you may each have.  Even when you don't know anything about the place, their hometown can be a conversation starter, especially if it's somewhere unusual.  
     I think that it an increasingly impersonal world, most of us relish the chance to feel more connected to each other.  Nothing helps this happen more quickly and easily than using each other's names.

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