Learning to pronounce a colleague’s name is not just a common courtesy, but an important effort in creating an inclusive workplace. When you’re unfamiliar with how to say someone’s name, ask them to pronounce it. Listen carefully to where they put emphasis, and where the inflections are. Repeat after them once or twice, not more. If you know you will interact with them often, make a note on how to phonetically pronounce their name (maybe afterward on their business card). Once you’ve heard the correct pronunciation, thank the person and move on. Don’t spend a long time talking about how unfamiliar you are with their name. If you realize that you’ve been saying a colleague’s name wrong, apologize and ask for the correct pronunciation. A good rule of thumb is to say, “I’m sorry I mispronounced that. Could you please repeat your name for me?” And if you hear others mispronounce the person’s name when they’re not around, step in and correct them gently. A simple statement like “I think it’s pronounced…” will save everyone potential discomfort later on.
This tip is adapted from “If You Don’t Know How to Say Someone’s Name, Just Ask,” by Ruchika Tulshyan
Categories: Management and Career Tips