With Arthur’s arrival in Australia, our home assignment has officially started! Over the next few Mondays I’ll post some tips about how you can be helpful to us during this time of visiting partner churches, organisations and people. Today, I’m starting with one tip which I hope will save us all some embarrassment. Here it is:
Introduce yourself with your first and last name.
Everyone knows us, but we don’t know everyone.
Even if you think we do or should know you, introducing yourself is a kindness to us. Even if you’re wearing a name tag, if you take the initiative, we don’t have to take that sneaky glance.
It’s not that we don’t know you, it’s that we are seeing hundreds of people in a week and our memory recall is a little slow. You might be the 101st person we’ve seen that day, so while we might recognise your face, your name might escape us at first. That might even be the case if we spoke to you last week and you introduced yourself to us then. Us asking for your name isn’t an indication that we don’t value you, so much as that we’re a little weary. But we do value you, and we’d love our interaction with you to be positive.
Also, we’re seeing lots of faces we haven’t seen for 3 years. Some people have changed their hair or put on/lost weight or have simply grown older, and only look half familiar to us any more. A name helps us place you immediately and saves the awkwardness.
Using your first AND last name helps us know which of the 12 ‘Chris’s you are on our partner list. This is especially important if we haven’t met in person before, in which case we’ll be placing you by your name only or perhaps your Facebook profile, but it goes for everyone. The more context you can give us, the better.
It might be that we already know who you are, but wouldn’t we all like to have an affirming interaction along the lines of us saying, ‘Yes, I know who you are! Great to connect with you!’ rather than, ‘Umm, I’m sorry who are you?’
Save us all the embarrassment. Come up to us, talk to us – we would love that! Don’t feel bashful about it if we’ve never met in person before. We’re back in Australia for the express purpose of connecting with you! But start it with something along the lines of, “So great to see you Tamie! I’m Joe Bloggs.”
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.