Greater than 2 minutes
Do you call people by their names when writing emails, leaving comments, and so on? I usually do. Why? Here’s a story.
My mother wanted to call me Ilya. But when my father went to the registry, he suddenly decided that I would be better off bearing his own name. And thus, through his deceit, I followed in the footsteps of Mayakovsky, Nabokov, and, more recently, Putin and Klitschko, and became Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Deception or not, I always considered my name pretty wicked. Its stems — “Vlad” an “Mir” — mean “rule” and ”world,” respectively. This fueled this little boy’s ambitions big time. And though with time the aspirations for world domination somewhat faded (which might or might not have something to do with another Vladimir Vladimirovich’s taking the lead here), the love to the name remained.
I was also always fond of its shortened form, Vova. Although it was initially “reserved” for friends and family, I came to enjoy using it in business contexts. It was not so heavy or obligating as Vladimir, and I felt more homely using it — and seeing it used by others. It is also versatile — its O is round and deep; the two razor-sharp V’s are always on the lookout lest anyone hurts it; and A is the powerhouse fearlessly carrying the whole carriage forward.
So why would I tell this story, which you probably don’t care about?
Because I do. And for the same reason I think there’s a lot in a name.
When someone calls me Vova or Vladimir or Vlad during our first contact, all these stories — each different but all precious to me — fire up in my mind, and I subconsciously share them with that someone. When they hear their name in response, they — just as subconsciously — share their stories with me.
And when we greet each other with plain Hello’s, we’re just two strangers talking about the weather at a bus stop (which is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way).
So, to me, calling someone by the name is not about curtsies. It is about creating a link — a bridge, if you want — between our stories, one that could turn into its own story over time.
And the real question is not whether you need to call a person by their name — but whether you want to start a story with them.
If you do, their name will be its drop cap.
And if you don’t, are you sure you want to write to them at all?
Want to call me names? Do this on Ab Hoc!