I remember very well when Liza Minnelli sang the song “Liza with a Z.” Sick of being called “Lisa” – she came up with a clever retort.

I am very aware of names and interested in whether people use a nickname or not. If someone is named Stephen, for example, I will ask if they prefer Stephen or Steve. Sometimes I hear – “It doesn’t matter, I answer to either.” Sometimes the person expresses a preference.

What if you don’t have the opportunity to ask? Rule of thumb – call the person the name they call themselves.

My name has a common nickname, but I do not use it. If you are trying to get my attention and I am not looking directly at you, yelling the nickname will not get my attention. Why? I literally don’t recognize that someone is trying to get my attention. This is no ploy – you might as well call me Athena.

Aside from the practicality of gaining the attention of someone – why is it so difficult to call someone the name they call themselves?

If you introduce yourself to me as “Deborah” and I immediately call you “Debbie”, at a bare minimum, I am not listening but perhaps I am also presumptuous enough to decide what you should be called.

Don’t underestimate the power of using names. But when you do, get it right.

Discover Your Inner Meta-Leader

Download your free Meta-Leadership self-assessment


You have Successfully Subscribed!