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Learn How to Pronounce Someone’s Name

Communication, and effective communication, is key to any well-oiled machine and corporate department.  However, effective communication begins with learning how to pronounce someone’s name correctly.  Your coworkers and colleagues, whether internal or external, are individuals that you interact with on a daily basis. 

Knowing how to pronounce a colleague’s name, no matter how strange, different, or difficult, can help you to build greater rapport and commonality with one-another.  Although there’s no magic trick or formula for learning how to pronounce someone’s name, we hope that with the tips and tricks featured below, you’ll be able to do just a bit better than before.

YouTube is Your Friend

If you are having a meeting or a call with an internal or external colleague and are unsure of how to pronounce their name, feel free to utilize the vast wealth of knowledge that is YouTube.  There are a ton of videos on YouTube which show you how to pronounce different name.

Although doing so may feel slightly creepy, it can show your preparedness and readiness when you do meet your colleague.  Being able to pronounce their name correctly will be widely admired and appreciated. 

On YouTube, simply enter the following terms in the search bar: “[name] pronunciation”.  This will get you a list of videos, where users will walk you through how to correctly and properly pronounce the name requested.  Many of these videos feature step-by-step pronunciation guides, which can be helpful to users looking to learn how to pronounce these names.

Ask Around

Although you may want to do this in a non-suspicious manner, feel free to ask your fellow colleagues, coworkers, family, or friends on how to properly pronounce someone’s name.  More often than not, someone from your circle will know how to pronounce the name correctly.

If you feel awkward asking a colleague, family, or friend, simply let them know that you have a meeting or call with that individual and are looking to make a great first impression.  This will help to make your own conversation less awkward and more understanding.

Listen Carefully During the Introduction

Naturally, people will introduce themselves the first time they meet someone new.  This is, perhaps, your single best chance at learning their name and understanding how they pronounce it.  When meeting someone new for the first time, listen carefully during the introduction and in how they pronounce their own name.

Another helpful tip is to look at how the person is pronouncing their name.  How do their lips move?  You can try and copy a similar mouth movement in an attempt to get it as close as you can.  Just don’t do that in front of them!

Utilize Online Resources

In addition to YouTube, there are a few sites solely dedicated to helping you learn how to pronounce names correctly.  One of the bigger, and more well-known ones, is Name Shouts.  Name Shouts works in over 21 languages and the audio is provided by native speakers, ensuring that it is correct every time.

Their database currently houses over 360k names, so you should be able to find the one you’re looking for.  Name Shouts works pretty simply and seamlessly.  Simply head over to their website or mobile app and input the name you are looking to learn how to pronounce. 

Listen to the audio, which features a ‘snail mode’ to slow down the audio for better understanding.  Once you’ve listened to the name and its proper pronunciation, feel free to repeat it out loud until you feel confident in your abilities.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask, Again

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask the individual to repeat their name or to help you with the proper pronunciation.  More likely than not, they have had to repeat their name and correct the pronunciation multiple times in their life. 

However, when asking the individual to repeat their name or to help you with the pronunciation, you should do so in an apologetic, polite manner.  You don’t want to call the individual out or make them feel uncomfortable.  Don’t blurt out something like, “wow, that name is so weird” or “huh, I’ve never heard that before, what language is that?”  Those comments can come off as offensive and inconsiderate.

Rather, approach the subject and question with curiosity and sensitivity.  A simple, “hey, I’d really like to make sure I’m pronouncing your name correctly.  Would you be able to walk me through it once more?” or a “I really do apologize in advance, but would you be able to remind me what your name is?”

Conclusion

Learning how to pronounce someone’s name can feel like a daunting task.  However, it is best to understand that the longer you wait to learn the correct presentation, the more awkward the interaction can feel.  If done correctly, with a sense of sensitivity and genuine curiosity, then it shouldn’t be an awkward conversation. 

Pronouncing your colleague or coworkers name correctly can help build a greater and more robust rapport and relationship.  Names are, generally, a personal item and showing your genuine concern in pronouncing their name correctly will create a sense of appreciation.

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