A client recently asked me: “How do I introduce myself? No one ever understands me.”

This is a frustrating situation. Not only are you frustrated, but your new friend or colleague may be embarrassed if they do not understand. In fact, a lot of my American friends ask me how to better understand foreign speaker’s names, which are often unfamiliar.

Here is what I recommend for the foreign English speaker:

  1. Say your first name PAUSE then say your last name
  2. Stress your last name/surname
  3. Follow up with, “My friends call me: _________.”
  4. Give them a way to remember it. Does it sound like something else? Is there a famous person with your name?

For instance, Here is how I would sound introducing myself.

“Hello, my name is ‘Jennifer’ PAUSE ‘Tarle’. My friends call me ‘Jen’.”

For my American English speaking friends, I tell them to say your name to “try it”. Then, you can correct them if they are wrong.

Here is how it would sound:

Me: “Hello, my name is Jennifer Tarle. My friends call me ‘Jen’.”

Acquaintance: “Oh, Hi, ‘Jan’. Nice to meet you.”

Me: “It’s ‘Jen’. ‘J’, ‘E’, ‘N’. Like ‘Jen Aniston’.”

After that, of course, you’ll be on your way to being “Friends”!