Remember People’s Names

This article is part of the series “How To Win /friends and Influence /guildies”. See the introduction for more.

If you’re reading the original book alongside, this corresponds to Part 2, Chapter 3: “If You Don’t Do This, You Are Headed for Trouble”

Remember That a Person’s Name is to that Person the Sweetest Sound in any Language.[1]

The examples in this chapter of how people interact when someone remembers their name aren’t directly applicable to WoW. After all, the name is right there beside whatever the person said, save for voice chat (which we’ll get into later).

The principle however is very applicable.  Remembering someones name isn’t hard, but remembering the associations and when to use someones name is.  I’d like to give four simple things you can do to bring the sweet sound of someones name to the people you play with.


Don’t mangle names.  I realize that some people may create character names that just don’t roll off the tongue.  You’ll encounter the same situation in real life.  When you do, make an effort to pronounce it the way the person controlling the character does.  If you can’t even attempt a pronunciation, ask them to say it for you.

If it’s still hard, don’t fall into the fallacy of telling yourself “it’s just a made up name for a made up character in a made up world”.  You don’t know what stock someone puts into their characters.  Not everyone shares their real name in game, so their character name may be (to them) their sole identity when interacting with guildmates.  To dismiss someone else’s identity because you can’t be bothered to put in a little effort to learn and remember the proper pronunciation.


Use names, not roles.  I’m not sure quite why, but in recent months it seems the trend has been to refer to someone by their role or class name in heroics.  For the four and a half years prior, everyone seemed to use other people’s names, shortening them to three or four characters when necessary.

Today, it’s “tank this” and “priest that”.  Personally, I hate it.  I am the person behind my character, not the role or class I play.

When raiding, you’ll often hear the names of specific tanks or healers called out.  Especially in a 25 person guild, it’s all too easy for the DPS to just get lumped into one big group, save for people who may have a specific job to perform like kiting or interrupting.  It’s not feasible to call out everyone every raid, but try to mention people by name, even if the role they perform seems interchangeable.


Respect people’s name choices.  I remember one guild I was in where it took three months for the guild leader to stop calling me by the name of my alt.  He’d met me while I was playing my priest, but continued to use that name even after I switched to the MT role on Karatheya.

This is a perfectly natural thing to do, if sometimes confusing for others to follow.  You tend to tie your mental representation of people in-game to the character you first met them on.  So long as this is the character they consider their “main” identity (which may or may not be their “main” character), that’s fine.

If there’s a disconnect and someone asks to be called by a specific name, try to respect that choice.  Continually forgetting whose alt belongs to who and addressing the alt of a long-time member as if they were someone new subtley says “you’re not important enough for me to remember who you are”.  Forget that the real reason may be “I just have a bad memory” – you’re concerned about the perception here.


Voice chat is a wonderful thing, but it brings a whole new challenge to remember names.  Repetition is key here – just try to put in the effort rather than dismissing it.  To not put in the effort sends the same subtle negative message as above.

There are perfectly legitimate ways to cheat here.  If you have certain keyboards with LCD displays (Logitech’s G-series do this, as may others) Ventrilo can tell you who is talking on that display.  Ventrilo also has a built-in overlay which is not enabled by default.  Prior to the release of Ventrilo 3, there was a  third-party program to do the same thing that was much less intrusive, but I’m not sure if it still works with 3.x.  Those of you who use Teamspeak or Murmur, perhaps you can suggest ways of getting the same effect in those voice clients.

Remembering someone’s name when they don’t expect you to, or getting their name right when you’ve been mangling it for weeks may seem like a small thing to you, but you never know how much it may mean to someone else.

Next thursday, we’ll cover chapter 3: “An Easy Way to Become a Good Conversationalist”.

This article is part of the series “How To Win /friends and Influence /guildies”. See the introduction for more.

[1] Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. (1936), pp.87