I don’t know you but if you like me, you probably heard (or overheard) about respect and how to earn it.

It seems respect is critical for people.

Why is that? Well, because… it is.

Actually, earning respect is critical in every aspects of life. When having respect, you have everything. Having no respect? You have nothing. Well, it’s not that extreme but you have to agree with me having respect is one of the most valuable assets.

But respect is strange. It’s hard to earn it but easy to lose. You can do everything right but one good day you do one thing wrong and boom…your respect is gone.

That one thing wrong is different from person to person but to me it’s addressing me wrong or writing my name wrong.

Call me picky if you want but if you don’t write my name correct, you are far away from earning my respect.

I’ll explain…

My name is “Thanh”, more exactly is “Thành” written in Vietnamese with a grave mark. If you address me as “Thanh”, it’s no problem. I’m perfectly fine. However, most of foreigners often write my name as “Than”, “Then” or “Thank”. It’s a little bit annoying but understandable to me because I realize my name is pronounced close to “Than” or “Thank” to most of foreigners.

Again, it’s perfectly fine to me. When it comes to Vietnamese name, it’s common.

When people address me wrong, I often send a gentle reminding so they can address me right next time.

Now if that same guy keeps addressing my name wrong again and again, that’s another story. That’s unacceptable to me.

I felt like this…

“Take it easy man, people make mistake all the time” or “it’s just the name, man” you may say.

You may be right but to me addressing people’s name right is important. This is especially important in context where people do not work face-to-face, they just knew each others, or communication is made via email or online chatting.

Needless to say, the name is always considered one of the most valuable things a person can possess. The name often binds to the identity, the brand and in some cases…a story. It doesn’t mean (much) to you but it means ( a lot) to them.

So if you write my name wrong again, again and again, it gives me perception that you don’t care to do it right and because you don’t care to do things important to me right, how you can earn respect from me?

Here’s another reason why I stress much on addressing people’s name correctly:

In case you don’t know, most of Vietnamese names has the meaning with it. If you don’t write it right, it changes the meaning. If you don’t use the right tone, it changes the meaning and in some cases to something…well…bad.

For example, my name is “Thanh”. If you mistakenly write my name as “Than” or “Thank”, it means differently. Fortunately, in my case it doesn’t change the meaning to something bad. However, in other cases, it’s not so pleasant.

I used to experience a case where a lady has name as “Nga” (meaning swan in Vietnamese) but mistakenly written as “Ngu” (meaning stupid in Vietnamese)….Uh oh.

This may sound strange to you but if you’re reading this and you’re Vietnamese, you would understand what I’m saying here. Vietnamese is very complicated in terms of writing and pronunciation.

If you’re foreigners, it’s understandable that it’s very difficult to spell or pronounce Vietnamese name correctly. However, if you’re doing business or communicating with Vietnamese, please keep this in mind when you address a Vietnamese’s name. If you write it wrong, you may change people’s name to something different.

Another mistake that really bothers me is that I see that some people has habit to write people’s name all in lower case.

It’s ok to write my name as “Thanh”, or “T” but it’s NOT ok if you write my name as “thanh” even in informal context.

Oh man, who’s on earth to write people’s name in all lower case?

More often, I receive excuse like “it’s faster to write like that”.

Really? Excuse me I’m not aware that you are that efficiency in work. How much time you save when writing people name in all lower cases instead of capitalizing the first letter.

What is my suggestion?

In case you are not sure how a name is spelled or pronounced, just ask. Most of the time, people are willing to tell you how to write or say their names correctly. The important thing is to remember that and avoid to make the same mistakes again. In any case, when you’re not sure, just ask.

For those foreigners, my suggestion is that if you have people’s permission to address them by an alias which is easier for you to address (such as Mike, Bob, etc), please do that. However, it’s best to address their real names in their languages.

For those who have the habit of writing people’s name in all lower cases, please don’t do that. It doesn’t save you time by doing that, worse, it doesn’t show your respect to people.

Now if you see someone addressing you wrong, please gently remind them. It’s probably because they are not aware of that. Don’t take that for granted because writing people’s name right is the first step for a respectful and long-term relationship.

So please, address me right because I address you right.