What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Pronounce a Name

  • Introduce yourself first and then ask for their name: “Hi, my name is ___, I go by (pronouns), and you are?”
  • If you have trouble catching their name or feel as if you are going to struggle to pronounce it, ask them to repeat it slowly: “Can you please repeat your name slowly? I want to be sure I got it right.”
  • Be open to correction: “If I say your name wrong, please correct me as many times as it takes to get it right.”

What to Avoid

  • Say you're bad at names; while that may be true, it puts out the idea that someone’s name is too much or too difficult to remember.
  • Ask for an alternate name or “American” name. Usually, if someone has a preferred name or nickname they want to go by, they will let you know when they introduce themselves.
  • Make comments about names that may seem well-intentioned but can be taken otherwise: “Oh, I've never seen it spelled like that,” “Wow, that’s very different.