The importance of your name

Your name is an important part of who you are. So should you consider changing it to make your dealings with people of a different language or culture easier.

Many South Africans that were not English or Afrikaans in the past did not even have the choice to use their names. Nelson Mandela was given the name Nelson by a teacher who opted to not use his actual name, Rolihlahla.

While the choice has been restored the decision of whether to use an "easy" name is still a dilemma. Hopefully over time as all South Africans learn to speak more of SA's languages or at least how to pronounce fellow South Africans names this should become less of an issue.

But as we begin interacting with global partners the challenge arises again depending on their ability to pronounce our names and our ability to pronounce theirs.

That question is such a significant one in China at the moment that China's CCTV news has produced a report to assist locals select an English name that is suitable.

Non-names as names - example: Surprise, Dragon, Fish, Lawyer. Many Chinese like to pick names that are in fact, not names. Among these, you get a variety of objects, adjectives and types of food, often related to the characters in their Chinese names. While these can be fun, don’t be surprised if you get many confused or amused looks from foreigners.

CCTV News article - Tips for Chinese choosing an English name

As China moves from the one seeking to do trade to the partner we seek to do trade with, it may reverse the question and see those from outside China looking to use names that would be easier to use or common in China.

Would you change your name to make dealing with a client easier? Do you try learn names you are not familiar with? Or do you appreciate someone offering you the option to use a name you can pronounce?

Let us know in the comments below.


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