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My father taught me many things growing up. For one, he reminded me often people like hearing their names, so use them.
For example, when you meet someone for the first time, make sure you hear and repeat the name. Ask them what they like to be called (A Michael might be Mike or Mikey or Mick). If the name is difficult to pronounce, ask them how to say it. They have become so accustomed to hearing it butchered, they’ll be impressed you are making the effort.
Once you are sure you have the name, use it three or four times during that initial conversation. Such a focus on a first meeting is not only respectful, but it increases the odds you will remember it the next time you see them.
I won’t claim to have my father’s skill at name recall. I’m as guilty as anyone of drawing a blank when I see an acquaintance after a long separation.
Yet the lessons stay with me. So many times growing up, I watched him ask what someone’s name was and then use it in conversations. I saw how that skill earned smiles from people who appreciated his effort. I try hard to live up to that standard.
Fortunately, I live in a part of the world where most people are warm and friendly. Right after we moved into this house, neighbors stopped by and welcomed us. Some of them brought fresh-baked goods (even better than names!). Even our postman, on his first stop at our new home, introduced himself.
I hear horror stories of the post office, but I’ve had several great carriers over the years and have known many by name. We even helped our first carrier in Maggie Valley change a flat tire one day. When he retired, he made a point of stopping by and introducing his replacement. I called her by name every day since.
So, of course, when our carrier here in Asheville introduced himself, I committed his name to memory. The next day, when he pulled up in front of our house, I stepped out the door and wished him well. “Good morning, Frank.”
“Good morning,” he replied as he handed over the mail.
Moving into a new house, we’ve received a lot of packages. Several days a week, his familiar truck pulled up our driveway. Since he was being so nice to deliver it, I made a point of going out to greet him and retrieve that day’s haul. “Good morning, Frank.”
“Good morning,” he replied without fail with his warm smile and happy personality.
Our UPS and Fed Ex drivers change regularly. I don’t think the Amazon driver has been the same person twice. So I don’t know them as well and rarely call them by name. Our relationship is purely professional.
Our postal carrier, though, is a gregarious soul. It’s fun to greet him morning after morning.
One day I called out, “Good morning, Frank.”
He smiled as he retrieved our packages. “I’m on vacation next week. Cheryl will be running my route.”
“Have a great vacation week, Frank.”
And for the next week, I greeted Cheryl by name. She’s nice enough, but doesn’t have the same bubbly personality. When the week was up, I was happy to see the familiar face come up the drive.
“Good morning, Frank. Did you have a good vacation?”
“I did, thank you. Doing it again next week.”
It turns out he has high seniority and a good bit of vacation time. He explained that he doesn’t care much for hot weather. so likes to take his vacation in the summer.
It’s great getting to know little details like that about a person. So when the end of the week rolled around and his vacation loomed, I made a point of telling him to enjoy it. “Have a great vacation next week, Frank.”
“Thanks. See you in a week.”
And so we’ve been on a first name basis with him since we moved in several months ago. I’ve enjoyed our near daily chats. It’s obvious we’ve built a good rapport. We enjoy seeing each other. In fact, I would say we’re getting comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, this conversation happened last week.
“Good morning, Frank,” I said.
“Good morning,” he replied. He gathered my packages and handed them off to me.
“Have a great day, Frank.”
“I will.” He hesitated. I could tell he wanted to say something, so I paused, like old friends will, and waited to find out what was on his mind. “I’ve been meaning to say something.”
“My name is Keith.”
Update on Liars’ Table
Been busy all week here working on the final edits of the book. The story is locked and loaded, so this is about wrangling commas, tense, and grammar. Yes, the fun stuff. Thankfully, I am blessed with terrific editors who scrounge for every error. Newsletter subscribers will get to see the cover this week as well as receive a bonus short story (so, yes, sign up for the newsletter below). Pre-orders for the book should start appearing in stores very soon.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
One of the most common questions we receive is why we refer to His Royal Highness Little Prince Typhoon Phooey with his entire regal name. Please take a look at the above photograph as our answer. When you’re royal and you know it.
Background title image is courtesy Joel Moysuh