I remember when I was in college, the first day of class would start with role call—the professor reading out last names, Robbins (here), Smith (here), Fogarty (here), and usually just before my name was called there was a long pause followed by some close scrutiny of the student roster and then…Lisa? I used to wait and watch for it. Why? Because my last name back then was difficult to pronounce! – Lisa Marshall, Public Speaker
Are you faced with a name and have a tough time trying to decipher how to pronounce what you are seeing on paper? Yes? How about being face to face with someone and not knowing how to correctly pronounce their name? I think we have all been there a time or two. Advice: If you don’t know the correct pronunciation of someone’s name, ask!
People wince inwardly when you mispronounce their names. Even worse, it is a serious breach of business etiquette. If you are in doubt, ask apologetically for the person to recite it for you. Additionally, jokes or wisecracks about a person’s name are not funny and are offensive. Always remain professional.
If your own name is difficult to pronounce, please do people a courtesy and help out the person who is trying to pronounce it – promptly. No need for them to stumble and stutter uncomfortable for your mere entertainment purposes. You can simply smile and say “It’s a tough name isn’t it?” Then pronounce it clearly without making a big deal out of it.
Here are a few resources to help you out, hopefully, before you find yourself in a sticky situation with a new & hard to pronounce name:
It’s always great to get a difficult name to pronounced correctly, but at very least you should get it wrong politely.
Julie Rock-Chatellier is Claim Operations Manager for Provencher & Company. Julie has served in staff and management assignments for over 20 years in various industries, gaining a working, practical knowledge of marketing, human resources, and account management administration.