Slow Down to Speed Up

I’m in my kitchen. It’s after dinner, and I’m cleaning up. Exhaustion sets in.  We’ve all helped clean plates and wash dishes, but I feel the need to ensure that every pot and pan is returned to its rightful place so that counters are clutter free.  I feel fatigue from a long day. I look to see my husband sitting on the couch, snuggling with our daughter.  My first reaction is jealously and judgment.  Then I pause and ask myself, “why do I feel the need to clean? Why am I not resting and taking a moment with my family?”  This a goal for me in 2019. I stop and leave the dishes on the counter, but my compulsion to finish up is overwhelming. “Just a minute more,” I think, “and everything is in its place.”   I recall my December blog and sit with my family.

What is your focus for the year? It’s late January and many of us may have dropped or forgotten our resolutions (side note:  you don’t need a resolution.  Visit my December blog). Yet, any time is a good time to pause and review goals. What will the remainder of the year look like?  What does it look like to make my goals happen?

There are moments when we each feel pumped up and vigorous.  The energy level is soaring, and our goals feel like, “Wahoooo, let’s do this!!!”  At other moments, we can get in to a world of overwhelm and the self-talk that ensues becomes a downward spiral of reasons why we can’t.   What mind set are you?  What are you doing for YOU to keep the mindset positive and focused?

They’re always telling us when we fly on airplanes to place the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping our fellow passengers.  Do we take care of our mind and bodies on a regular basis to ensure we’re able to help those around us? How often when we make goals, are we budgeting time to rest and recharge?

Our body is a physical machine that supports our actions.  We often take for granted how it helps us live.  If you think about it, the magic of reading and comprehending is crazy cool.  Right at this second, your body is breathing, and you don’t have to tell it to do that.  It just knows how to function on its own. We are able to read and comprehend.  We can get up and walk across the room without first telling our mind: ‘ok, stand, and now right foot, left foot.’ It just happens.

If you talk to any specialist, that specialist will tell you how that body part supports the rest of the body. That specific body part is the most paramount. Your eye doctor will tell you it all begins with sight. The podiatrist will proclaim your feet are the foundation.  The chiropractor will tell you it’s the back because it connects the nervous system and the brain. 

One thing is for certain, as much as we are told to take care of our bodies, very few are proclaiming, It’s all about the sleep. Yet, rest to recharge, to regroup, to maintain and sustain our physical and mental capabilities is paramount.

There was a study I heard about years ago on worker productivity during construction of the Hoover Dam. I don’t recall if it was during a tour of the facility or during a training session, but they split two crews into two separate teams and measured productivity and injury levels.  They offered one group lunch and breaks throughout the day, and the other team a working lunch and minimal breaks.  Not surprisingly, the team with a lunch and breaks was more productive, and the team without breaks was not only less productive but had increased injuries.  This same study was recently performed during a bridge construction in Queensland, Australia and the same results ensued.

Slow Down to Speed Up is a phrase I first heard from Doug, a current colleague and a word wizard.  His phrases are often a paradox to make one think deeper.  Slowing down to speed up is one of my favorites. Basically, sometimes we have to slow down & stop and look at current operations, so we can see where, or if it needs tweaking.

Recently, I attended a networking event and the discussion was sleep and how it impacts our productivity.  The rep from Edgewood Clinical Services gave insights into how our bodies work in concert; how rest and better sleep result in better health.  So impactful, I reconnected with the presenter, Debbi Del Re, APN, PMHMP-BC, at Edgewood Clinical Services for further insights. 

Deb is a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who has worked in mental health and psychiatric nursing for more than 25 years.  Her insights and suggestions for the mind and body are key as we look at new year resolutions and 2019 goals. Deb said, “taking care of the whole body and mind is key.” 

She communicated that many people have challenges sustaining new year resolutions and goal setting.  “We often set goals and resolutions for the new year, but too many changes all at once can set you up for failure.  Focus on two good habits for the next 30 days.” 

When asked to rank diet, sleep and exercise she said, “All of them are important.  What are you doing to move more? Enhance your mood? Eat better? Sleep better?  If you are good to your body, and listen to your body, your body will be good back to you.”

Deb emphasized that rest and good sleep are keys to help re-energize. 

“It helps hit the re-set button. Our bodies need time to rest and they need the down time to fuel it to move forward. What are you doing to tell your body it’s time to sleep?”

Below are a few additional tips to help you hit the re-set button when it comes to sleep.


  • Napping during the day?
    • Limit naps to a 20-25 minute power nap
    • Take naps before 3pm
  • Evaluate your nighttime routine
  • What are you snacking on before bedtime?
    • Limit evening snacks to lighter foods like pretzels, popcorn, or crackers
    • Limit sugar and caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime
  • Exercise is good but limit heavy cardio 3 to 4 hours before bedtime
  • Warm showers can help relax before sleep
  • Read a good book
  • Work late, so dinner is late? Choose lighter foods. Try to avoid fast food.

Deb concluded, “Everyone is different.  Find what works for you. Be Mindful.”

Sooooooooo……..What mind set are you?  What are you doing for YOU to keep the mindset positive and focused? Are you budgeting time for downtime

Give your brain time to rest.

Slow Down to Speed Up.

Slone Solutions, LLC provides hospitality solutions through customer service consulting, process improvement, and keynote speaking.

Edgewood Clinical Services offers a multitude of services including health assessments, counseling, behavior management, sleep studies and therapy to name a few.  Many thanks to Deb at Edgewood Clinical Services and Doug Fielder for their insights and inspirations for this article.

Waiting for the New Year Resolution

Christmas is tomorrow, yet I hear the murmurings of New Year’s Resolutions beginning. 

Next year I’ll be more organized.  I’ll start my own business.  2019 will be the year of professional growth. Next year, I will eat healthy.  In 2019, I will stay in contact with people more.  I’ll use social media less. 

As I reflect on 2018, and look toward the new year, I ponder resolutions, and wonder why we need them. The resolution is a fresh start to a new year. Yet, why do we need a new year to make a commitment to ourselves? Here’s why I ask. In October of this year, my uncle passed.  Now, we all have instant reactions when we hear of a loss, and I write this blog not because of the loss, but because of our reactions when those that we cherish are no longer with us.  In a way, it’s like a new year’s resolution. 

My uncle passed this year. I personally don’t do well with any type of death. I become a ball of emotions and tears well up instantaneously. Yet, if I’m honest, I should disclose that I didn’t know my uncle very well. He lived in Texas and that side of the family, well, we never got together as much.  I went to the funeral to support my dad.  The two had a brotherly love and I learned more about my uncle at his eulogy, than any family interaction could have ever provided.

The memorial was standing room only.   To keep it on “Tom Time” as my uncle was huge on time elements (to this our DNA proves relation as I’m huge on time organization myself) the long list of those who wished to speak on his behalf and how he impacted their lives became too long to complete before the end of the service. Oh my goodness the stories, the words of tribute; the impact this man had on people’s lives was incredible. On social media, people proclaimed that he had saved Pakistan. PAKISTAN!!!!  And one person who stood before the crowd communicated, “he had an ability to see people not for what they were, but for what they could be.” Those words continue to impact me. This was a life lived of purpose.  Why do we need a loss or a new year’s resolution to make a change or a commitment to ourselves?

In these moments whether of loss, or an adrenaline rush to avoid catastrophe, a celebration of life, or planning for the new year, we often reflect and gain moments of insight and clarity.  The light bulb pops on and the a-ha moment looms.  We find our purpose and eagerly proclaim our objective with passion and unknown tenacity to the world.

I’ll think twice before I judge.

I will make certain I stay in touch with you more frequently.

I will take more time to be with my kids.

I’ll tell my sister sorry.

I’ll cherish the little moments.

I’ll call my mom and just listen.

I’ll tell my dad I love him.

But over time, it dwindles. The emotional rush fizzles. The sense of urgency and passion and movement stop. Like a poorly planned new year’s resolution, it fades. We don’t stay in touch.  We judge. We’re too busy for the little moments. We don’t call. We forget to say I love you.

I call this the Fresh Paint Smell effect. My husband prefers new carpet smell. So whichever your preference, the analogy works both ways.  Here’s how it works. You paint a room.  It’s clean and organized. You can smell the fresh paint.   You love it.  You feel the happiness when you walk in. Two days later, it’s still a fresh room, but the new paint smell has faded and the excitement of it has passed. Over a week or so, it’s the room we love, but the newness is fading. A month or so passes, and it’s just another room in the house.

It happens with paint and new carpet. It happens after our life changing moments.  It happens every January 31st, or for some, earlier in the month.

How do we keep these insights effervescent? How do we sustain the momentum and clarity found?   My suggestion is simple. Decide and MOVE!  Stop waiting for the new year.  Don’t wait for that life changing moment. Make a decision and move!  Let every day be a resolution to yourself.  Set a reminder on your phone.  Place a quote in a visible spot so you see it every day.  Change your mind set and find a way to make an impact on someone’s life every day.  Don’t let yourself get comfortable.  Live for someone other than yourself. Be the person that sees others not for what they are, but what they can be.   

In loving memory of Tom Slone.

Too Many Thank You’s

Too many thank you’s?

In this season of thanks, and with the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, a conversation on customer service and customer service expectations should be addressed.  We share stories about our customer service experiences when it’s surprisingly amazing or when our experience goes horribly wrong.  We retell our encounters to friends and family and post our reviews online and throughout social media.  We speak in awe over the amazing heart felt interactions of exceptional staff or relay our bafflement over the lack of common sense and insight of staff who simply do not care.

Recently during a live chat with an online customer service consultant (Can you tell where this conversation is headed?), every single response to my comments began with “Thank you, Holly.” (not what you were expecting was it?) The experience made me wonder; in a world of inconsistent customer service, is there such a thing as too many ‘thanks you’s’?

I was on line with a tech company because the heart rate monitor on my device was no longer working after two months of ownership.  It was gifted for my birthday.  It could still tell time, and perform basic functions, yet the essence of having this particular watch and the accuracy of calories burned were all impacted by the heart rate monitor function. I had attempted to call their 800 number for support, but the endless circle of options and selections for pressing 2 or 3 to speak to a specialist became ridiculous.  After 10 minutes of pressing 2, and eloquently speaking my request for “AGENT” and then hearing, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” I opted for the online chat specialist.

The specialist became available after two minutes of waiting.  This time frame was the exact estimate the queue provided.  (Client expectation met.)  The initial hello and thank you for reaching out was appropriate.  The agent introduced herself and then asked how she could be of service. I responded with a friendly salutation and provided a brief description of my challenge; something along the lines of “Thank you for helping. My watch is two months old and the heart rate monitor is not working.”

The agent responded with, “thank you for telling me this Holly.” The agent then asked the make and model of my device.  Once provided, the agent again responded with “thank you for this information Holly.” I was beginning to see a pattern to this company’s customer support. Every…. single…. chat began with ‘thank you.’ As a consultant who specializes in client engagement, I continued on intrigued to see how far the ‘thank you’ would continue in the process.

Although from my perspective this was an obvious warranty issue, what followed was an inquisition, several hoops to jump through, and multiple steps to reboot the device to verify the gadget’s guarantee. At every step, the agent’s reply began with ‘thank you’. By the 8th thank you, it became awkward and irritating, and it read as disingenuous. The responses suggested that this company followed a set process for client responses.  It also implied the team did not consider how the response could escalate client frustrations when providing service recovery.

Often, the reason we connect with customer service through a live chat or call center is because there is an issue.  We have questions about product use, its malfunction, lack of parts, or billing.  I advised the customer service agent during our chat that although I appreciated her thank you’s I would be more appreciative if she deviated from the process because I was finding it frustrating.  I explained, “I know it’s part of your process, and I know you’re doing your job. All I need is one or two.”   Kindly, the agent complied.

For myself, too many ‘thank you’s’ is the equivalent of repeating someone’s name too often when you first meet them to remember it.  “Great to meet you Ted. Ted, how’s your day? Thanks for coming Ted.  Are you enjoying yourself Ted?”  It doesn’t sound right.  Intermittent use is always best.

Happily, the process and interaction eventually resulted in a device replacement.  Although in hind sight, I think the little bubbles that show that the agent is typing were a tad longer as she was habitually typing ‘thank you’ and had to go back and delete it before hitting send on the chat. A survey requesting “how did we do” immediately followed. The same comments I communicate to the agent were provided in my survey.  I hope they are reviewing their response processes.

In the hospitality industry, any complaint or guest concern is considered a gift.  A client, guest, or customer communicating suggestions for any process improvement is an opportunity for dialogue and service recovery.  Clients who leave a hotel, restaurant or venue who do not communicate their service frustrations during their experience are more likely to share their poor service experience to friends or post poor reviews on social media.

Just as there are countless avenues for one to express their satisfaction or lack thereof for a guest encounter, there are a multitude of organizations tracking your feedback for measurement on your experience. JD Power and Associates is known for measuring customer satisfaction and suggests, “It (customer service) is a moving target.  You never get to declare victory.” This global marketing services firm is considered the expert on measuring client satisfaction including: how a client responds to frustrating experiences, how soon a client will shop the competition and how soon a client will defect entirely from shopping your brand.

Every business is trying to master the art of client engagement.  Think back to your last purchase of anything.  Was there a survey at check out?  The challenge is that expectations grow faster than our ability to meet them. And sometimes, we simply have the wrong processes or training in place to provide the very satisfaction the client needs.  If your business provides any essence of customer service, know that it’s not too late in the season to have this critical conversation with your team. Focus on the client.  Give eye contact. Acknowledge and say, “Thank you for your patience,” if it’s a long line.  Do what’s right.

If a consumer, preparing one’s mindset prior to venturing out to the world of commerce can also contribute to one’s experience. The retail industry during the holidays is brutal.  In our hurry and hustle and bustle to get through traffic, there will be moments of frustration, irritation and disbelief.  Traffic will be heavier.  Lines will be longer. Your personal space will be invaded. Try not to berate the retail associate for their lack of engagement. Maybe it was poor training. Maybe, like yourself, they are tired and having a bad day.  Be kind to those cashiers working minimum wage while you shop.  They are working to support their family holiday too.

No matter your part this holiday season, whether shopper or customer service associate, let’s all remind ourselves to step back and remember why we celebrate. Look around and find joy and wonder in the season. And (shameless business plug to follow) if you find they really need help, pass along my name.

Slone Solutions, LLC

Impacting the Client Experience from the Inside Out






The Awkardness of Networking

courtesy google images

Social interaction is necessary for human health.  Studies support that it enhances mood, brain development and can decrease blood pressure along with a plethora of other health benefits.  Studies also support that social interaction is necessary for business development. Making memberships to chambers, support groups, private clubs and networking ensembles a necessity to thrive in business.  Social interaction may decrease blood pressure, but the anxiety of finding common ground during a 30-second elevator pitch can trigger nervous knots for any professional attending the initial networking gathering.

When attending networking events, not to mention the primary reason for joining professional groups, the end game is to schmooze; building awareness of one’s business and services offered for commerce, building a client base,  increasing profit. And of course, we all want instant gratification, acknowledgment, instant love and sales from that one interaction.  Yet our basic human need to belong to a “tribe” (please don’t get me started on that buzz word) and social interaction with others becomes awkward and almost inhuman during networking gatherings.  If you ever sit back and watch the interactions, it becomes quite comical.  This is a typical network event.

One enters, registers, and walks in to a sea of unfamiliar faces.  We glance the room like the Terminator.

Subject identified.

Subject unknown.

Continue scanning.


We are looking and searching for the individual that we visually assess is most like us.  Because when we want to be a part of a tribe (oh that word), we want to fit in. That’s simple human nature.  When we first meet someone, we are looking for who we relate to. Think about it.  At a cookout, a social networking event, a wedding.  We arrive to table 9, assess the people, and sit accordingly based on who we feel at first sight we can connect with.  Then the social awkwardness of discovering that common bond occurs.  That bond can happen instantly or painfully, never.

We will “engage” in conversation, stand with our head tilted, ear closest to the person speaking yet our bodies are angled outward, and our eyes will scan the room for the people we want to meet next.  When we do this, we are non-verbally sending a message that we are not committed to the conversation.  Shameless business plug follows.

Slone Solutions specializes in leadership and communication development. We provide consulting services to enhance leadership messaging and employee engagement. We often don’t realize how we effect our own messaging. What we say and how we say it, with tone and body language, impacts our message significantly more than the words we speak. The non-verbal element influences our message more than words or our tone.

Our message and how we present ourselves is key. That first impression is why someone walked over to say “hello” in the first place.  Yet, when we first meet someone that message can become discombobulated because we are so worried about ourselves, our agenda, our message, and if we are going to connect with the person in front of us.  There are countless thoughts that occur within milliseconds when we first meet someone, which is also why we forget a person’s name within 5 to 7 seconds of meeting them.  In my book, “How to Suck at Leadership: You are Nailing This” (release date TBD), I go into further detail about how our personalities and emotions can impact our communications.  Yet for the sake of blog brevity, let’s return to the image of a networking event and look at the bubbled thoughts over people’s heads.

If you recall, we’re standing, angled, open body language; communicating that others are welcome to join the conversation, while scanning the room for the next person to meet.  If there were thought bubbles over people’s heads they would read, “please, please join this conversation.  I don’t know how to exit.” Or “how do I step away? Not connecting here.”  “Did I forget to feed the dogs? This is so awkward.” “I’ll just check my cell phone for texts.” Yes, I just wrote that out loud!

So, for myself when attending network events, I like to lean on the personal element because if we only talk about business, the conversation feels like a sales pitch.  It becomes the road to a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Shouldn’t networking be about connecting with people?

I read a study from the Saratoga Foundation a bit ago that said, compared to five years ago, we have 2/3 less people to connect with in times of need. That means, 5 years ago, if you had 10 people to call if you had a flat tire, needed help picking up the kids, flooded basement, lost electricity; that today, you’d have 4 people to call. That touched me deeply.  When we network, you could be the positive interaction for that person’s day.  Your conversation could add humor and influence on someone’s life. That’s why I like to ask where people live and what they like about the networking events.  I try to learn personal things about them because people will eventually do business with people they trust.  When we connect with people on an emotional level, we are remembered.

Consider on how you communicate with your friends and family. The very things you talk about with them are the instances you speak about because there was an EMOTION tied to it.  You were happy or sad or frustrated or irritated.  The emotional element is what made that experience stand out.  We don’t talk about the random drive through experience at Starbucks or Panera unless something emotional happened when we did it.  It’s the same for us when networking.

That 30 second elevator pitch doesn’t do you justice, so stop worrying about it.  Yes, being able to succinctly communicate what you do is good, but why do we define ourselves so much by our careers?  What if coming together to network wasn’t solely about the sale? What if we considered how to help that business grow?  Can I refer you to anyone in my tribe? (had to use it one last time – a blog on “the tribe” coming soon). That’s when the network expands.

If it’s not your cup of tea, I understand.  If staying on the professional side of conversation topics is more appealing, consider asking if they like their line of work or how they got into the field.  Because, within our human nature, we are selfish, and we love, love, love to talk about ourselves.  You might even hear some pretty cool stories on how they emerged into the field or arrived at their current occupation.

So, the next time you head to a networking event and you feel anxiety or nervous knots building in your belly, remember to focus outward and on the other person.  Focus on the personal questions.  Asking, “What do you do?” and “Who do you work for?” are such simple and obvious queries. Why don’t we start with more interesting ones like,

“Whadija have for lunch?”

“How’s your week going?”

“Did you see the game last night?”

“What’s your favorite dish at Thanksgiving?”

“If you were a superhero, what power would you have?”

“If there were a zombie apocalypse, would you be a zombie or a survivor?”

Have fun and begin the conversation.  Then, and this is an art, keep the conversation going.

Add comments and add your favorite topics for conversation starters when networking.  Visit for more blog posts.

Thanks for sharing and remember to make a difference in someone’s day.




The Spotlight Effect

While traveling and going through airport security, I watched a mom and daughter interaction. Visibly setting the stage:  a frantic mom was clearly frazzled by her three-year old’s attachment to her baby blanket while attempting to go through TSA pre-check.

Traveling by plane can be cumbersome. Once viewed a grand experience. Now a dreaded, line-filled, ever-waiting, unpleasant means to get from point A to point B with both rude and helpful staff, often grouchy passengers, lost bags, bags that won’t stuff into overheard bins, terrible smells in airports, planes, delayed flights.  The list can go on and on.

When one travels frequently enough, the TSA pre-check line becomes a blessing.  It expedites one through security without removing shoes, taking computer bags out of cases, or placing travel liquids and toiletries on display.  The need for security bins is removed because your bags and briefcases are scanned as a whole.  The flow of the line can be smooth. It operates like clockwork.

On occasion you’ll see the traveler who has TSA pre-check who’s unfamiliar with the process.  The shoes beep or a belt causes a traveler to go in and out of the scanner.  And in these moments, there are fleeting thoughts and judgements from other travelers thinking, “Hurry up already.  You’ve stopped the flow of the line.”

I’m not completely certain what the hurry actually is, as most people go through security to then saunter off for beverages and snacks, bathroom breaks or on a very, very rare occasion; break into a full-on running sprint for a departing flight.  Yet the majority of the time, TSA pre-check becomes an underappreciated privilege and convenience for expediting one through airport security.

On this particular travel day, I see a mom traveling casually with her three-year-old daughter.  That vision in itself could trigger stress for any parent. The TSA line was moving smoothly.  Travelers zipping satchels and briefcases and, placing phones in computer bags to quickly go through the x-ray machine.  The mom placed their carryon luggage on the belt and turned to find her child clinging, clinging to her baby blanket.  When the mother advised that the blanket had to be screened, the child clung to it for dear life, holding it close to her chest as she pleaded, shaking her head adamantly, “No mommy, no!”

This interaction continued for moments, but to the mom must have felt like days. The TSA line stopped. The mother was visibly flushed, and she cast frantic eye movements back and forth to catch any judging looks from passengers stalled in the line.  The child protested again, and the mother bent down to her daughter’s eye level and said, “You are making us late and people are staring.”  She actually spoke her stressed thoughts.   She continued, “and we cannot go on the plane unless they screen your blanket.

I marveled at this moment. I was emotionally captivated and felt empathy for this mom and charming little girl.  Baffled that the TSA agents wouldn’t let this child walk through the x-ray machine with the blanket in tow.  I mean come on, who can’t relate to a favorite blanket or stuffed animal from childhood?  Clearly the child and the mother were not a domestic threat.  The mom was so flushed and frantic.   I wondered why the mom didn’t create a story for the child like:   “Your blanket has a special mission and it needs to go through the machine to make certain our plane is on time.

And, I so badly wanted to interject and tell the mom, “Hey, no one is judging you. Take your time. And mom, traveling solo with your three-year-old, you’re doing a great job.”  (Those comments shared after we passed through security ;o)

Yet in this moment, I realized that when we are emotionally stressed, and laser focused on the experience at hand, our clear thinking can become muted, clouded; a downward spiral of negative thoughts.  We can think and imagine the worst. Even speak our fears out loud for others to hear, “people are staring.”  Isn’t that crazy?  That in moments of stress & worry we can easily conjure the very worst thing that can happen in a moment? We can envision catastrophes, build emotions, conflict and dialogue with people we don’t know, project self-judgment that doesn’t exist, create obstacles to solutions, and impart additional stress and worry to situations all in our head.

There are lots of reasons for this. There are endless psychological studies that showcase how our brains are wired for fight or flight.  There are studies on how when we have a thought or a doubt that our mind can trick us into the safe choice for survival.  For the brevity of blog’s sake, we won’t go into detail, but there’s also an even more intriguing element called the Spotlight Effect which is the feeling of being noticed more than you really are.  In our moments of stress and worry, we project what we think others are thinking and experiencing on ourselves in these moments too.

So, on some levels, it’s cool that our brains are looking out for us, but why does it need to find only the negative pieces? Ok, the survival thing, I get it.  But it’s when we step back and take a breath, that we can find clarity, the ability to laugh at ourselves, see the humor in the situation, the courage to speak up, to provide the compliment, or just embrace the moment.

If the mom had taken a moment, taken a deep breath and looked around, I think she would have seen a multitude of empathetic eyes and appreciation for a child’s attachment to a blanket.  Our self judgements can hold us back or propel us forward.  Recognize those self-inflicting judgements and look around.  Give eye contact and smile. You’re likely to find a line of TSA travelers smiling with encouragement.


Your Personal Brand

Our names are our identity. How we spell it, how It’s pronounced, how it appears on papers, our signatures. It’s who we are. We attach ourselves to it.  Feel important when others remember it.  Yet, it’s also the first thing we forget within moments of meeting someone new.

Recently while walking my daughter to school, I introduced a neighbor to another mom who joined our cavalcade and asked, “Do you know each other?” and then confidently said, “Cathy, this is Dawn, Dawn this is Cathy.”

Dawn spoke up instantly and advised, “I’m Katie”.

Instant mortification set in, especially for my very confident knowledge of her name during the introduction moments ago.

After arriving to school and sending our wee ones off for the day, I apologized to Dawn – now Katie, and said, “I always thought it was Dawn. I don’t’ know where I got that from.”  Her response, “It’s ok.  The only reason I know your name is because your husband says, “Holly this” and “Holly that” when he’s walking your daughter to school.”

We did however marvel that it’s common to live on a street and know a dog’s name and not the owners.

Yet, the irony of the situation is that we all do this.   Whether a neighbor or a business colleague, we put all this pressure on ourselves because we feel as if we cannot admit it if we don’t know the individual’s name.  We’ve all performed the introduction, “hey, this my friend (insert name)” and leaving it hang in the air for the other person to introduce themselves.

My husband told me that his cousin’s roommate was dating a guy named Craig and he called him Greg for years. YEARS!!! They told him five years after the fact.  His reaction?  “You waited five years to tell me your name??!!?”

We put this pressure on ourselves.  Why is it awkward to admit, “I’m sorry, I don’t recall your name?”  Or simply, “My apologies. Faces are my strength and I’m working on the name thing. I know you. I know your face, yet I’ve forgotten your name. I’m focused, and I will remember this time.”

Yes, I too am guilty.  I’ll often focus on the dog.  That cute, cuddly, little, scruffy guy with the wiggly tail.  I have to tell myself, “Give eye contact to the human. Introduce yourself.”

We are so distracted when we first meet people. If we took a moment to focus outward, name recollection wouldn’t be an issue.  I’m frequently asking people, “is that Cathy with a C or a K?  Is that Ted with a T?”

Because to that person, their name is their identity.  You remembering their name makes them like you, your personal brand, even more.