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Leslie Nielsen as Dr. Rumack didn’t want to be called the wrong name. Nor do we.

I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of people’s names, and how good we feel when someone calls us by our name. How many times a day do you hear your name? I mean your first name, your preferred name. Actually, I don’t hear my name very much. When people see me, they will say something like “Hi” or “how are you?” Rarely will they say “hi, Rachael” or “how are you, Rachael?” I’m guilty, too — I don’t often use people’s names when greeting them. I generally only use names if I see someone ahead of me and I want to get their attention.

But where I’ve always used names is in my classes. When I write feedback to my students, I always start by writing their name. Always. I call on them in class by their name. I don’t know when I first started this practice or why (I’ve been teaching a looooong time). But I think it began when I started to teach online in 2005. I seem to remember being told that in an online environment where we don’t see our students, that using names is even more critical. So I’ve implemented that all these years and extended it to in-person classes as well.

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” 

How often do you hear your name? How often do you refer to people by their names?