I grew up in a family where we were never called by our names and as a result I have had to learn to do this to others and to appreciate how important it can be.
A few years ago I attended an intensive outdoor development programme in Malaysia with about 350 others. When we returned to our base for meals, I was amazed at how many people said "Hallo Richard" when passing me. It was a very heart warming exercise; I didn't realise that I was so popular! It really made me appreciate the importance of personal address.
Mystified and delighted, I eventually realised that everybody was wearing a name tag in large lettering, so it was easy to read each other's names.
Having pondered on the effect I have put together an exercise to help people experience the impact of different ways of opening a conversation.
It is important to follow the instructions accurately so that you get the full effect of the slight changes in wording.
Let us assume that I am demonstrating the procedure with Gabriele.
Exercise 1. Move around the room greeting people by only telling them your name: "Hallo, my name is Richard." "Hallo, my name is Gabriele."
Exercise 2: This time greet them with their name and introduce yours: "Hallo Gabriele, my name is Richard." "Hallo Richard, my name is Gabriele."
Exercise 3. Now express your pleasure at meeting this person: "Hallo Gabriele, my name is Richard and I am really pleased to meet you." "Hallo Richard, my name is Gabriele and I am really pleased to meet you."
Exercise 4. This time notice something specific about the other person: "Hallo Gabriele, my name is Richard and I really admire/like ......." "Thank you Richard."
When you are complimented, just reply 'thank you', do not try to explain.
Exercise 5: This time show an interest in something specific about the other person and allow the conversation to develop: "Hallo Gabriele. My name is Richard and I am curious about why you chose to join this course."
Each time notice the impact on the other – and on yourself. Remember that rapport is a feedback system, both between you and the other, and also between you and yourself. If you say that your are curious, then you are programming yourself to be curious.
Have fun testing this out.
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