Monday, June 24, 2013
What is your name? Nice to meet you
Everyone who reads this blog knows I'm Christopher. I have never in my life introduced myself as Chris. Yet it really is extraordinary how people immediately start calling me Chris. "What's your name?" "I'm Christopher" "Oh, hello Chris, my name is Cindy". It literally happens that fast. It happens via e-mail too. I'll sign my e-mails as Christopher, and the reply will be addressed to Chris.
Think about how weird that is. You ask someone what they call themself. Then for some reason you call that person something different. It sounds weird, but it isn't just "other people" who do it. Actually listen to yourself next time you meet someone. You'll surprise yourself when you realize you do it too.
Next is what happens when I tell people to please call me Christopher instead. It is rather infrequent for people to accept this. At least 50% of the time, the immediate response is that is too many syllables and they're just going to call me Chris anyway. Now think about how incredibly dumb and insensitive a statement that is. Taking a fraction of a second longer to say the name I prefer somehow makes your 24 hour day shorter? It's hard to argue something that doesn't make sense. Those people usually continue calling me Chris anyway.
A funny piece of that is with about 25% of the people who actually start calling me Christopher, they'll nearly always call me Christopher Cole. I guess additional syllables really isn't that big a problem after all. My best guess for this is that when people start actually thinking about my name, they realize that alliteration is fun. Another thing that frequently happens is after some time (usually 1-2 months), that person will tell me that they now actually prefer the name Christopher and anything else is strange and wrong. That's when I know who my real friends are.
So what is the solution to the name problem? Get a friend to handle it. If someone calls me Chris, and somebody else corrects that person, it is far more likely to stick without questions than if I do it. Why is that? I believe that (strangely), people subconsciously are more willing to accept what others call a person rather than what that person likes to be called.
I have only ever referred to myself by one name. But I have gone through my entire life with 50% - 90% of the people I correspond with regularly calling me by a different name. Isn't that crazy? It's MY name.
Moral of the story: Pay attention to peoples names and your friends will be grateful. Especially self written name tag situations or even e-mail signatures. Then be that friend to help correct others' genuine mistakes. You may be surprised that a friend you have known for a long time actually prefers something different from what you have called them for years. The simple question, "Do you prefer Kathy or Kathryn?" when in doubt goes a long way, showing a unique self awareness that will only make that person appreciate you more.
Do you prefer Chris or Christopher?
Do you prefer Steve or Steven?
Do you prefer Chase or winer9?
Do you prefer Zak or Zachary?
Do you prefer Quinn or Quinton?
Do you prefer Ky or Kylie?
Do you prefer Fin or Griffin?
Do you prefer Cookie or Grandma?
Do you prefer Old Man or Grandpa?