Business Writing Tip #25 – Pay special attention to people’s names

A person’s name is the most important word in their personal dictionary.

Getting it wrong gives the impression of carelessness, and if you’re careless about names, what else might you be careless about?

Think of this. You’re in a crowded room – it’s a party, or a networking function. You’re standing with some people talking. Then, from somewhere across the room, you hear your name. There might be all kinds of other noises around – people talking, music – but still, when someone says your name, you hear it. We are tuned in to hearing our own names. In 2006 Carmody and Lewis reported on an experiment they had done. Their findings provided ‘evidence that hearing one’s own name has unique brain functioning activation specific to one’s own name in relation to the names of others’.

Spelling a name incorrectly is not a minor error. It is an error that everyone will notice if it’s their name that’s misspelt. And once someone finds an error, subconsciously they’re on the lookout for more. It damages the credibility of what you have written; it damages your credibility; and by extension it damages the credibility of the organisation you are writing for.

So take extra care with people’s names.

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