Time to check your Global Mindset: A rose is a rose is a rosé?
by Vincent L. Cyboran, Ed.D.
Back in the day, a receptionist handed me an old-timey, pink ‘missed-call note’ addressed to a “Vic Clybourn.” Pretty funny. Pretty harmless. Clearly a message from someone who did not know me well, and possibly, had questionable work habits. As someone whose last name is almost always mispronounced and often misspelled, I am particularly sensitive to the importance of one’s name to oneself.
Suppose you attended a presentation on instructional design and saw a reference to a “Gagne” on a slide. The presenter pronounces the name of the late, learning theorist correctly; the second syllable sounds like “yay” in English. You quickly note that the actual spelling is “Gagné.” Innocent mistake? Perhaps. But what if you saw the same error on a syllabus? Or a session description? In an online class I taught a few years ago, I read countless e-mails from students referring to their classmate “Fraser” as “Frasier.” I don’t know how he felt, but I felt bad for him, and gently reminded students of the proper spelling of his name.
Nowadays, we hear much about becoming global citizens. More importantly, a foundational competency of the ATD Competency Model is “Global Mindset.” Among the descriptors for this competency are the following:
- Accommodate cultural differences
- Expand own awareness
Competencies are not binary; they exist on a scale. For example, we might rank ourselves as being ‘Poor’ or ‘Acceptable’ on a given competency. But if we are working towards achieving a competency, our everyday behaviors count as evidence. How does the failure to add the proper accent above the ‘e’ in Gagné’s name speak to achieving the competency Global Mindset? Or even to being a professional?
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet speaks the line: “…a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In her poem Sacred Emily, Gertrude Stein wrote: “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” often abbreviated as simply “a rose is a rose is a rose.” I will end by noting that: “A Gagné is a Gagné is NOT a Gagne.”
In my online courses, I often use a product called “flipgrid.” Students introduce themselves via video. They state their first and last names, and also tell us how they would like to be addressed. In that way, we all hear each other’s names and we learn of any nicknames.
What recommendations do you have to help us become better at addressing the names of people and places that are unfamiliar to us?