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DO capitalize people's names. It's a detail, but some details matter

Said Dale Carnegie:

Remember that a person's name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

I remember in the last company I asked a woman called "Lucia" if it bothered her that the founder badly and constantly mispronounced her name.
She barely let me finish the question when she jumped in with an emphatic "oh my God, yes!"

Funny that I had taken the time to learn her name's correct pronunciation, and used it, while the founder, who theoretically had far more at stake in "getting the most" out of her didn't.
It was only reason why he was a poor boss, but it's one of the details that tells you a lot about someone.

Personally, I'm not that "precious" about pronunciation -and that's exactly what I tell people: "don't worry about it, I'm not precious about pronunciations"-.

However, it's still something you want to pay attention to -even with the people who say they dont' care-.
Especially so when:

  1. You need something from them
  2. You are getting closer and/or want to get closer
  3. You want to develop the best rapport you can

The same rule applies in writing.

This fella wrote an otherwise OK email, but look how he spelled my name:

If he hadn't capitalized anything, then it would simply be a sloppily written email.

But it's not that he didn't capitalize names in general, it's only my name that he left in lowercase -funny, in a way, but not exactly effective to support his next ask-.

Funny enough, some of TPM's earliest power dynamics articles are about pronunciations by the way (later turned into forum posts, but I think I may improve them and revert them to articles eventually):

And the other side of the coin:

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

From the snippet of e-mail you posted, I see several other things that strike the eye and that probably concurred into you finding this e-mail somewhat strange:

  • "thank you for the great job with your website";
  • "I consider myself a fan";
  • "Being honest";
  • "power moves website";
  • and it would seem the rest of the e-mail entails a request of access for free or similar to your work.

My analysis as a devil's advocate:

  • "thank you for the great job with the website" is a phrase no normal person would ever write in a first contact: it frames you as working for him, and with all probability this was precisely his intent; a normal person would write something like "your website is great!" or similar, but no "thanks";
  • "I consider myself a fan", in this context, is a form of "forced teaming", and is a Pre-Incident Indicator (PIN) according to Gavin de Becker; most used by people who want to fake familiarity;
  • "Being honest" is an "unsolicited promise", and is a PIN according to Gavin de Becker; most used by people who are usually otherwise lying, especially when they are lying;
  • your name not capitalized, that as you note comes in a text otherwise spelled very accurately (including his own name correctly capitalized), therefore seems a deliberate choice, and in the whole context seems a slip of duper's delight, a way for the sender to show a bit of his real feeling of condescension;
  • "power moves website" is also undercapitalized, probably for identical reasons (i.e. symbolically diminish its value);
  • and finally, the real objective: obtaining free access.
Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, great call on the "good job".

If you search the forum we talked about that one quite a bit in some threads.

I personally wouldn't think that he purposefully power moved with the lowercase and "great job" as that would require a very high level of sophistication -plus the rest of the email that's not here was OK, minus the fact there was absolutely no offer of value except the compliment-.
And one could put that sophistication to a better use, for example by offering some value exchange of some sorts -it would be so easy to offer some value that I'm surprised so few people think about it. To be precise, only two in several years that PU is available did, and one is sometimes in the forum-.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I agree that intelligence can be put to good use in better ways: but you are thinking as a normal person here, not as someone who might be employing his life in finding ways to take the most he can from everyone around him without giving anything back.

Lucio Buffalmano and leaderoffun have reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmanoleaderoffun

That's a great point.

Let's say that if I'd have to guess in this case, I'd guess for naivete rather than value-taking Machiavellianism.
BUT... Your point of view is valid and I'm open to being wrong.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you, Lucio. I agree with your post.

When people don't capitalize my name it sticks in my mind as a yellow flag and raises the question: is this person a manipulator/social climber/value taker?

I do capitalize people's name and I expect the same in return. Basic respect and politeness. It's like saying "hello" and not getting an answer back. Same level of rudeness.

I don't talk about it but I gather Intel from people who don't make this simplest effort.

Lucio Buffalmano and Ali Scarlett have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli Scarlett
Quote from John Freeman on March 7, 2022, 1:02 pm

Thank you, Lucio. I agree with your post.

When people don't capitalize my name it sticks in my mind as a yellow flag and raises the question: is this person a manipulator/social climber/value taker?

I do capitalize people's name and I expect the same in return. Basic respect and politeness. It's like saying "hello" and not getting an answer back. Same level of rudeness.

I don't talk about it but I gather Intel from people who don't make this simplest effort.

Agreed. It's one of those things where it costs little to no effort and most everyone knows to do it.

So, to forget to capitalize a name feels almost disrespectful. Especially since you likely know ["remember"] to do it in the more professional settings such as a bank or a courtroom.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you guys!

If so many people of this caliber agree on it, then you can probably be confident that you're onto something :).

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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