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Why Wear Your Beth Am Name Tag?

The person I met at services last month is walking up to me. I recognize her face, can remember she grew up in the same town as my mom, and that her oldest child is in graduate school, but I draw a complete blank on what her name might be. Sarah? Susie? S-something?

At conferences and meetings I attend for work, we all wear a name tag. I can't get into my office without my name badge and pass. The business world embraces name tags, and perhaps it's time for congregations to do the same. Here are my top reasons everyone at Beth Am ought to wear a name tag.

  1. Names are difficult to remember. Whether clergy, staff, or member, we want to know everyone’s name; but few of us have the gift of perfect recall. This is especially true for people with memory loss or battling neurological disorders. Name tags work, providing reminders, visual cues and memory triggers.
  2. Few people know everybody at Beth Am. Even in a small group, it’s sometimes difficult to meet and remember everyone, in our larger congregation it’s almost impossible. Name tags allow us to admit to and overcome this challenge, and they give us permission to reveal ourselves to each other quickly, openly and honestly.
  3. Name tags invite friendliness and conversation. Knowing another person’s name breaks down one significant barrier. It’s simply easier to talk with others when you are on a first name basis. The minute you know someone’s name, you immediately feel closer to that person. Studies show that knowing first names reduces the psychological distance between people.
  4. Name tags save embarrassment. We’ve probably all called someone by the wrong name, only to realize it later (or perhaps even within the same conversation). Sure, you feel silly when wearing a name tag. But think about how many people whose lives you just made easier, from the person you met 20 minutes ago, who already forgot your name, to the nice couple you met a few years ago.
  5. Guests feel more welcome. We often give guests a name tag, but doing so for them alone makes them feel conspicuous and puts them at a disadvantage in conversations. I know their name, but they don’t know mine if I’m not also wearing a name tag. Guests should never be the ones who must do the asking.
  6. Increasing inclusion. As humans, we tend to avoid what we don’t understand. But knowing the name of someone, especially from another ethnicity, race, culture or ability, not only brings us closer to them, but also makes us more understanding of who they are as a person and what brought them where we find them. Name tags make it easier to treat each other with dignity, respect and compassion.
  7. Life is richer in a thriving community. A name tag says “Please let us know you.” People who come to Beth Am as members or guests are often looking for a connection. Knowing their names is the first step to personalize and humanize them. Now we’re just not strangers who happen to be in the same room. We begin to know each other, and doing so fosters a greater sense of connection and community.

Please wear your High Holy Day name tag to all Beth Am services and events throughout the year. It's easy to leave your name tag in your car or bag and then put it on as you walk in. If you need a new name tag, please stop by the office or email for a replacement.

What are your thoughts about name tags? Please share them by emailing Laura.

Wed, February 19 2020 24 Sh'vat 5780