Why You Should Use People's Names When You Talk To Them

Why You Should Use People's Names When You Talk To Them

The power of using someone's name, to me, is the power of gaining more empathy, and compassion, and that's why I will continue to do so (excessively), and push others to do the same.


It's not uncommon for one of my conversations to start like this:

"Hey Ben! I haven't seen you in a while. How are you doing, Ben?"

As you can see, I enjoy using people's first names excessively when I talk to them. I never really understood why I did it, just that it felt natural and polite. But, as I've been thinking more about it recently, but Dale Carnegie believed that a person's name is the sweetest sound they can hear. Think about the last time someone said your name, and they were actually talking to someone else in the vicinity. Usually, you feel surprised. When our parents were very proud, or very angry at us, they used our names. When someone wants our individual attention, they say our names. When someone wants to make you feel special, they say your name.

It isn't wrong to say that using someone's name is a form of flattery. To some degree, it is. But to say that's all it is underestimates its meaning and power.

Recently, I have been reading a "The Kingkiller Chronicle," a fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss following an adventurer-musician named Kvothe. The first book of the series is called "The Name of the Wind," in which names are incredibly powerful and important: there is an entire art called "naming" where people can control objects by saying secret names. Although it's just a fantasy fiction book, Rothfuss harps on a theme that using people's names are powerful. The main character, Kvothe, is a famously high-profile and accomplished man, but changes his name to Kote to lose some of his power and influence and maintain a lower profile as an innkeeper. When people call him Kote, he internalizes and forgets about his deeds as an adventurer. When people call him Kvothe, the stories of the three books come back to him.

This theme of names invoking power is something I've subconsciously realized in my interactions with people: not only does using someone's name make them more engaged in the conversation, but using a name also makes you more invested in that person. You are focusing your attention on them. The teachers that were most invested and paid the most attention to you - they were often the ones that used your name the most.

I used to believe that I was a pretty awkward person, more of an introvert that didn't gain energy from being around people. But the truth is no one is a complete introvert or extrovert - everyone is somewhere in the middle, ranging different places in different contexts. I started to realize how fulfilling being among others, to me, is often also associated with how often I used their names, and conversely how often they used mine. When I would label myself as more "awkward," I wouldn't use names as often, but now I think differently.

Think about the most charismatic people you know of - people who can do anything and you will still like and follow them at the end of the day. Charisma is not what you do or say, but how you do it. Often, when someone we think of as "charismatic" enters a room of strangers, the first thing they'll do is ask everyone what their names are. Every time they say someone's name, and they say it often in repetition.

Every time you use someone's name, they feel important. They feel like they have a little more connection with you. They listen to what you have to say. I realize, too, that when my bosses or superiors tell me to do something, I'm significantly more invested into that thing when they ask "Ryan, can you do this for me?" rather than just when they ask "can you do this?"

Is using a someone's name, in some way, manipulation? Up to this point, it could be thought of that way. But I push back and reject that notion - because in using someone's name, you're forced to focus and think about them, too, and spend at least a couple more seconds caring, or at least thinking about that person than you would have if you didn't. And for a person you didn't know that well before, that's one more step towards not only remembering, but internalizing their name.

Using someone's name is powerful, to me, because it makes me learn more about them and think more about them. The power of using someone's name, to me, is the power of gaining more empathy, and compassion, and that's why I will continue to do so (excessively), and push others to do the same.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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