How do you pronounce that name?

My last name is pronounced vee-sigh-sook (Visaisouk). How many times have these been my words upon meeting a new person or while being introduced? Quite a few.

Oftentimes, having a hard-to-pronounce name is just relative to the people around you – it may be an easy name for your own culture to pronounce, but for other cultures, it looks like a tongue twister.

Having an ethnic name in North America has been a particular challenge I’ve faced during my life, and I know I’m not alone. How many times during the course of your life does your name get pronounced? Hundreds? Thousands?

If you have a difficult-to-pronounce name, you’ve probably heard fifty different variations of it, and are accustomed to correcting people, brushing off, or ignoring mispronunciations.

However, we take it in stride, and make the best of the situations that we are presented with. Still, there are a few things that might catch us off-guard and make us smile. Here are 3 things that people with difficult names enjoy.

1. When someone pronounces your name correctly on the first try

Of course this has to be #1. That odd feeling of satisfaction – “Yes, that IS how it’s pronounced.” Oh, how I long to say that phrase.

If you sound my name out, it isn’t even that hard to pronounce…at least in my opinion. Sifting through countless name mispronunciations I’ve endured, I can specifically remember two occasions when my name was pronounced correctly.

I remember it well – the two people who pronounced my name correctly on the first try – a grocery store cashier, and a grade school teacher.

That is a stunning, and as I look upon my thoughts now, almost saddening and disheartening statistic. Two occasions in 25 years? Really? I suppose it just makes it extra special when it finally does happen.

2. NOT having to spell your name over the phone or out loud

Let’s not tippy-toe around it. If you have a difficult name to pronounce, there are some activities which you are probably not too fond of. Depending on how hard your name is to pronounce or spell, and depending on your mood, spelling your name out loud can be a very irritating task.

Making reservations? If they ask for a last name, I know I’m going to have to spell it for them. However, many restaurants now employ ways to make reservations online, and you can simply enter your name into their forms instead of calling the restaurant.

Does someone need to look up your account? On a computer system, through customer service, or however it is, you may need to spell your name. I like it when companies or others can identify my account through a phone number or even a social security number…anything instead of having to spell out my name.

3. Meeting or seeing someone with the same name as you (or very similar)

The difficulty in pronouncing many names is in part due to the fact that it is a relatively rare name around these parts of the world (North America). So when you run into someone with the same or very similar name, you can’t help but feel some sort of connection.

It can be an instant conversation starter and point of interest, and you can feel better just knowing that someone else goes through the same ordeals and nonsense that you go through.

I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy this experience in real life yet, but someday it will happen. I’ve found a couple of “Visaisouk’s” through Facebook and LinkedIn, but from what I can tell, there aren’t many.

Do you have any stories or insights about your name? Please share your experiences!