I work at a high tech company so I wear a name badge at work. It has my picture on it and an RFID tag for security purposes. More importantly, it has my name on it. That way, those who see my badge can immediately know who I am.
You might not think that’s a big deal. After all, I tend to work with pretty much the same people, day after day. But you’d be wrong. This last Monday I attended a face-to-face meeting with a group of people I talk to regularly. When I walked into the conference room, I didn’t recognize anybody by appearance so I asked if this was the XYZ meeting. Sure enough, I was in the right room, and I knew nearly everyone there. I just hadn’t seen most of them before. Welcome to working in a large corporation…
My dad’s family has a reunion every other Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal: we rent a junior camp’s lodge, craft room with kitchen, and some meeting spaces for Thursday through Sunday. We organize the meals and activities, having a game night, church services, talent show, nature center visit, and train rides. Around 80 of us show up, get reacquainted and meet new family members.
We have a family directory listing everyone’s name, contact information, and hobbies. I’m starting to think that we need nametags, too. Instead of furtively glancing across the room, trying to recognize a cousin by imagining two years’ more hair and a two years’ less pudge, I could stride over and shake his hand, knowing that as long as he can write legibly, I’ll know who he is.
Imagine if you wore a nametag all the time. Would anyone treat you differently? Probably. Unless I’m the only one who has problems remembering names, I think it would put most people more at ease approaching you (other than wondering why you were wearing a nametag outside work).
Scott Gingsburg1 has been wearing a nametag for 1,646 straight days, something he calls creating a “front porch”:
The key is, approachability is a two way street. And it all starts with that first step – either welcoming people onto your front porch, or stepping onto their front porch.
Although wearing a nametag forever may not be your thing, Scott has a list of other ways to build a front porch, to be more accessible. For example, next time, try noticing the “new guy.”