The Power of a Name

People looking for quick introduction for good social habits (like me) will often start by reading Dale Carnegie’s famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s an old book, first published in 1936, but every bit of its material still applies today, and will continue to apply as long as humans communicate.

Today, I’d like to draw attention to what I think is one of the book’s most important points:

p(quote). Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

People love hearing their own name; this applies to everyone all the way from introverts to hardened social veterans. You’ll never see much evidence of this, so to make yourself believe it, consider carefully how you react to your own name.

Remember People’s Names

One of the major changes I’ve made to my behaviour in recent months is to always make sure I never need to ask for a person’s name a second time. What this means for me, due to my terrible memory for names, is that I write down the names of every person I meet.

The importance of remembering a person’s name after first meeting them should never be underestimated. A person with an easy-to-remember name will appreciate your attention to detail, and a person with a hard-to-remember name will be flattered that you remembered theirs. Remembering names is such an easy way to establish good relations with people early on.

Use Names in Conversation

Think back to someone you’ve known in your life who is really good with people, and I mean really good, a real leader of men. Many years ago I worked at at a popular restaurant under a manager named Richard. Richard had a way with people, and could make almost anyone like him and/or come around to his point of view, definitely useful skills when you’re managing a very busy restaurant. He had a variety of techniques he’d use to to win people over, and one of those techniques was to address each of those people by their name everytime he saw them. By doing this, he was making each of those people feel important in a subtle way. If you think back to real leaders you’ve known, you’ll probably realize that many of them were doing exactly the same thing.

Don’t be afraid to use someone’s name when you’re speaking to them one-on-one, even if you know them well. If it’s someone you don’t know very well, remember to cleary enunciate their name, don’t let it come out awkwardly. In general, always make sure you’re holding up your end of the conversation by speaking confidently.

Posted on February 22, 2009 from Calgary


My name is Brandur. I'm a polyglot software engineer and part-time designer working at Heroku in San Francisco, California. I'm a Canadian expat. My name is Icelandic. Drop me a line at

Aside from technology, I'm interested in energy and how it relates to our society, travel, longboarding, muay thai, symphonic metal, and the guitar.

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