I deleted a blog post “What’s in a name? Bob or Robert? Ann or Anne?” because it was premature. This morning I found out why.
Over breakfast, I told Robert Bekkers an article I read yesterday about the virtues of being named Bob. In “The Best Business Bobs or Arising Above Any Name,” the author Jeremy Nulik, who awarded himself the grand title of Creative Energy Officer (CEO), mentions different people named Bob. He clarifies what I did not in my earlier blog post “Likeability and transactability.”
“Likability is not your ability to make everybody like you. It is your ability to make others feel liked,” quote from Bob Sommers, likeability guy.
I said to Robert,”You’ve got a great name. Everyone I know that has the name Robert has been good to me.” The late composer/pianist Robert Avalon. The Maui-based composer Robert Pollock. My friends from school, the Atlanta-based artist Robby Judkins, Phoenix-based Bob Fraley, Virginia based Robert Duke who inspired me to apply to Duke University, Boston-based Bob Falstad, …. the list goes on.
“Wait,” he interrupted me. “Say that again.”
“Yes, say my name again.”
He repeated after me, “Rwobert. How do you say it?”
He tried again, “Wobert.”
His thick Dutch accent is unusual to many who don’t know him. As fond as I am of his accent, even my mother has trouble understanding his English.
“People always get my name wrong. They look at me quizzically and say, Wobert. They ask if I’m German or Danish. I tell them I’m Dutch. Isn’t Robert a common English name?”
I said,”Ah! They don’t hear the ROBERT they are used to. So they try to guess, and they get it wrong. And they don’t remember your name afterwards.”
“That’s right! You got it!” Robert cried enthusiastically.
“How about Bob?” I suggested. “Are you happy with people calling you Bob? I’m sure they can’t get that wrong.”
He grinned. “Yes, I like it. Bob. Bob Bekkers, classical guitarist from Holland.”
To make others like you, don’t make them feel uncomfortable or insecure or confused, such as pronouncing your name. Give them a name that’s easy to pronounce. Something that can’t go wrong.
Like Bob, for instance.