Have you ever had a job that required you to wear a name tag? I serve as the pianist and music specialist at an assisted living facility on Friday mornings and even though I’m there only a few hours each week, my work requires me to wear a name tag. In fact, everyone on the staff wears the same lightweight plastic name tag, from the president on down, giving us all a common identity and a sense of belonging.
Wearing a name tag is not a daily habit for me, so I sometimes forget that I have mine on when I leave the facility. When this happens, and I stop somewhere to run an errand or get a bite to eat, the same thing inevitably happens. Someone I don’t know in the store, bank, or restaurant starts to talk to me. “Hi Laura,” “How ya’ doin’, Laura” or “Can I help you, Laura?” are typical remarks. Sometimes, someone will ask, “Laura, where do you work?” or “Laura, what do you do?” People are much friendlier to me when I’m wearing my name tag. I’ve noticed that they’re more likely to talk to me, to ask me a question, or to smile at me than when I’m not wearing my name tag.
We are issued name tags at conventions, corporate events, and social functions. Don’t we do that so people will be friendlier to one another? A name tag breaks the ice and helps people connect. It enables us to remember one another and makes the awkwardness of first introductions just a bit easier. Name tags can also provide information that can stimulate conversation. For example, a name tag can tell where you are from, what organization you represent, or your title. I’ve noticed that the employees in a local grocery store wear name tags that have something personal on them and an invitation for customers to ask a question. For example: “Hello, my name is Bob. Ask me about the Dallas Cowboys” or “Hello, my name is Denise. Ask me about running marathons.” The employees have told me that these name tags work like a charm in stimulating interesting and friendly conversation with customers.
My point is this: If there’s an opportunity for you to wear name tags in your workplace, wear them. People would be friendlier to you and more likely to strike up conversations. They’d be kinder to you, too. It would be much harder for someone to cut into a line in the company cafeteria if the person next to him could say, “Hey, Michael, we have a line going here.” Name tags remove the anonymity that many people hide behind to excuse rude or unkind behavior. Name tags would make it a lot easier for your clients to know who you are and in larger organizations, for you to know your colleagues in other departments and divisions. And think, too, about wearing your name tag when you’re out visiting client sites and whenever you are doing business on behalf of your company. You’ll see. People will open up to you more when they know your name. — Dr. Laura Hills, President, Blue Pencil Institute, www.bluepencilinstitute.com