Safety Publications/Articles

What's in a Name?

While standing in a crowd of people, most of us respond instinctively when someone calls out our name. This is especially true if we're named "Hey, You" or "Freeze." We automatically look around for someone familiar who's trying to get our attention. That's because our name is the most important, significant, and personal sound we can hear.

When listening to conversations in flight schools, I'm always amazed at how infrequently flight instructors use the names of their students in normal conversation. On the other hand, the moment an instructor uses his or her student's name, it seems to make that person perk up and pay close attention. Why? Because the conversation is now highly personalized. For any flight instructor wanting to get a student's attention before making a very important point, the most effective way to do this is by using the student's name first.

For instance, suppose you're about to make an important point during a ground session about how airplanes stall. You might begin by saying, "Now Bob, here's something you need to understand. An airplane can stall at any attitude and at any airspeed...." You can bet that Bob is more likely to pay attention to your point since you first muttered the sound that he's spent his entire life learning to listen for.

During a postflight debrief, using a person's name also can help to soften criticism and reinforce compliments. Why? Your student is more likely to think that you're speaking to him or her as an individual rather than as just another student on the schedule.

So use your student's name in conversation when and where appropriate.

By Rod Machado

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