“How do you pronounce your name?”

Shopping at the local Harbor Freight is always a pleasure because I get good stuff there and they always have coupons for something free with purchase. I got something else for free – something better, something wonderful – on my recent foray into that world of tools and gadgets.

The woman working the register at the check-out was in her early 20s, I suspect.  A friendly gal. She asked for my phone number so she could pull up my record.  I provided it.

“How do you pronounce your name?” she asked. “I’m never quite sure how to pronounce it.”

I pondered why this total stranger would ask how to pronounce my name, in the first place.  I think that would be a great customer service lesson for people who work phones, registers, etc. to ask how people pronounce their names instead of butchering the names and then try to act like they are life-long friends. But, I digress.

I pronounced it for her. “DEE-ahn.” My mind was still racing with her question. There are not a lot of Dions out there, and certainly not spelled that way and most certainly not of my age. Before I had a chance to figure out how to ask, she said, “I love Dion’s music, but I never knew how to pronounce the name.” I instinctively smiled before asking in a genuinely shocked voice, “Dion? Dion and Belmonts, Dion? You like his music?” Maybe her parents, likely more so her grandparents, may have listened to his tunes, including the famous The Wanderer.

She rattled off the titles of a few of her favorites.  I couldn’t stop smiling. I asked if she knew how his music career had shifted to Gospel music (she didn’t but was intrigued with the information). I told her that I have been emailed several times over the years by musicians asking my permission to cover one of “my” songs and how I have to thank them but explain that I am not THAT Dion (she thought that was funny).

I figure the entire transaction lasted about three minutes. A lot happened in those 180 seconds, much of which supports Dale Carnegie’s premise that the sweetest sound for someone to hear is that of their own name. The cashier used my name; she honored it by connecting it to Dion DiMucci and she opened the door for conversation, which I was more than happy to pass through. She seemed to enjoy it, too.

I said that I got something better and something wonderful for free with my purchase. Whether we are buying or selling or just interacting, we can use the reminder of using other’s names and the gold-nugget advice of asking someone how to pronounce their name. There are other questions or interactions that can be used  — “That’s a nice name.  Is it a family name?” – but connecting with names reveals respect, interest and courtesy. It only takes a second.


PS:  People ask me if my mom had a crush on Dion DiMucci and thusly I am name.  Nope. That is not where the inspiration came from for my naming.

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