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Why Pronouncing Names Correctly Is More Than Common Courtesy

Photo: Becky Harlan

Ruchika Tulshyan says she’s had her name mispronounced her whole life. And, for most of that time, she didn’t correct people. Sometimes she even made restaurant reservations under the name Rachel to avoid the pain and shame. But, in the past few years, she’s begun speaking up — and even correcting friends who have been mispronouncing her name for years.

If you’re not sure how to pronounce someone’s name, the best solution is to simply ask, Tulshyan wrote in Harvard Business Review last year. She recently spoke with Life Kit host Noor Wazwaz about her ideas — for correcting your own mistakes and for correcting others. If someone you know has been mispronouncing your name for years, she says, it’s not too late to bring it up.

Listen to Life Kit’s interview with Tulshyan by pressing play on the audio above or here.

Pronouncing names correctly is “one of those ways that you can really practice anti-racism and practice allyship in the moment,” says Tulshyan, the founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy firm. It’s “one of those very subtle but extremely important ways to get engaged and really stand up…for communities that are non-white and largely have faced marginalization.”

Have you had your name mispronounced? Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823 or email us a voice memo at LifeKit@npr.org. A producer may be in touch with you.

The podcast and digital versions of this episode were produced by Clare Lombardo. Josh Newell provided engineering support.

We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

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