My name is Suzanne F. Stevens. Not Sue Stevens, not Susan Stevens, not Suzanne Stephens, not Suz, not Sam, not Susan, certainly not Mr. Stevens, and definitely not Suzanne Somers!

Now that I have that off my chest, how many people will actually remember my name? Over the course of my life, I always thought I was blessed with a simple name, yet just different enough because I had the more ‘formal’ variation of “Susan”. But my blessing has now become my demise.

If you Google Suzanne Stevens, you will find thousands of results. As a speaker, this makes it very difficult for people to find me. Now I go by Suzanne F. Stevens. Beyond being difficult to be found, there is a bigger challenge – people continuously say my name incorrectly. Over the past year, many people have decided to call me something different, whether I am in a professional or personal environment or whether they have known me for a day or for years. The good news is I do believe they are trying to call me by what they think my name is, rather than using less flattering adjective.

What happened? Have people stopped paying attention? Are we moving so fast that we are not listening to each other anymore? Do our iPhones, Blackberries or expansive to-do lists distract us? Or are we just too shy to ask, “Can you please pronounce or spell your name?” None of these excuses are acceptable when it relates to establishing a business relationship.

Dale Carnegie said in his book How to Win Friends and Influence people: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Mispronouncing a name can happen, and social environment, for the short-term, I let it go. In a professional environment however, you are tampering with a person’s brand, and this is where I hear mispronunciations happen most often.

I think the only thing more inexcusable than saying someone’s name improperly is writing it incorrectly. Although, writing my name incorrectly has a lot less impact, in my environment. I am amazed how often people will start emails to me with “Hello Susan”, even after I have sent them an email signed “Suzanne”, or “Dear Mr. Stephens”; someone entered this name in a database incorrectly. I do not respond to the emails addressed to Mr. Stephens; in my view, that is a surefire way of alienating the recipient.

I can only imagine if my name were Dolores, Leah or Zain…

These observations of distracted, lazy, or just uninterested human behaviours are less about getting my name correct than conducting a due diligence when it comes to clients’ names. These missteps can be obstacles to winning business. If you repeatedly get your client’s name wrong, you may leave them with amnesia of your name when they need your services.

Action:Stop. Make sure you have the correct name. If you can’t get it right, your clients may ask themselves, “What else are you not paying attention to?”

That’s not my name – a great tune that says it all.

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