Why do you always ask people their names?

Recently, I was on a family vacation in Mexico.  As always I would make a point of befriending staff and other guests of the resort. As a social person this is just the way I am.  I hadn’t really thought about it until my 12 year old step-daughter asked me, “why do you always ask people their names?”

I honestly had never really thought about it, but my quick response to her was that it makes our experience more enjoyable.  I continued to think about it that day and what I came to realize was that it was just another example of how relationships are at the core of any great experience or organization.  I started to notice that all of the staff members at our resort that I had introduced myself to paid a little bit more attention to us in the resort, whether it was Marina our housekeeper who would do the little extras in our room, or Eduardo our beach host who find us empty lounge chairs on the beach when we arrived too late to find any available.  I believe these staff members just felt a little more familiar with us because of the effort of a simple introduction and being able to address each other by name.  The multiplier in this relationship is that for the staff members the excellent service will likely result in a healthy tip from me as an acknowledgement of the extra effort that they provided to us which improved our vacation experience.

This is the same type of response that can be found in effective organizations such as schools. From my experience schools and organizations where leaders take the time to engage and build relationships with everyone on staff are the most successful.  When people are recognized and feel valued as a team member regardless of their role they are more inclined to value the work they do.  Leaders that are able to foster this type of environment tend to be more approachable, which gives everyone the confidence to share ideas that may improve the system, or create something new and innovative to benefit the overall organization.  Workers will also be more likely to make a personal investment into the organization which inevitably will help maintain a healthy environment to work and learn in.

I have always believed that relationships were at the centre of what I do as a professional and in my personal life. Whether it was coaching or education, or hanging out poolside at a Mexican resort, I always felt my strength was in my ability to build relationships.  I am glad my step-daughter asked me the question as it gave me time to reflect on the value I place on building relationships throughout all facets of my life.

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