In this era of global-scale challenges, there’s a small thing we can all do to make a big difference to the people around us: take the time to get their names right. Our names are central to our identities; sometimes we have names chosen for us at birth that carry the weight of culture and family history, and sometimes we choose our names for ourselves to reflect who we are as we move through the world. Names matter.  

Most of us have experienced someone forgetting, mispronouncing, or misspelling our names. We’re all human, and these oversights happen. When it becomes a pattern, though, it can signal a lack of respect, and it doesn’t feel great. A few simple courtesies will go a long way towards making everyone feel more welcome: 

Learning to Ask, Not Assume 

In this digital age, we often see each other’s names in writing before we’ve had a chance to meet in person. It’s tempting to make assumptions based on a name that looks Hispanic, or Italian, or Asian, but these assumptions are often faulty. As a person who was born in the Philippines with a Spanish-sounding last name and who now has an Italian-sounding surname, Carlota Maria Longo (née Carlota Reyes) often encounters people who assume she doesn’t speak English or send her mail in Spanish. Caroline Y. Pedrotti, an Asian adoptee with an American-sounding name, remembers teachers calling roll on the first day of school and looking past her for someone who looked like a better fit for the name. Hyeon Ji Lee chose the name Ginny when she moved to America, marking the start of a new journey and a new life;  it was a full decade in the US before anyone asked her what she’d prefer to be called.  

Celebrating Our Cultures, Family Histories, and Identities 

Asking “how do you pronounce your name?” is far less awkward than the common tactic of avoiding saying someone’s name altogether. Think of it as an opportunity to engage with your colleagues and friends about what their name means to them. Our names can tell a lot of stories, but exactly which stories they tell might not be obvious at first glance. When we get someone’s name wrong, we’re probably getting their stories wrong, too. Asking people about their names is an opportunity to understand them better.  

Caroline grew up with a foot in two worlds and identifies with two cultural communities, but has struggled at times to feel fully accepted in either. Hyeon Ji has tried over the years to make it easy for friends and colleagues to learn her given name, even referring to the popular car company “Hyundai” as a memory tool, with limited success. In a language where people manage to pronounce “Worcestershire” fluently, she finds it frustrating that people are stumped by her name. It’s little wonder that many Asian parents give their children American-sounding names to avoid these daily encounters; they are also endeavoring to minimize unconscious bias on applications and resumes.  

Including, Not “Othering”   

Making sure we’re calling people by their preferred names is an excellent way to create an inclusive, welcoming environment where people can “bring their whole selves to work.” Many of us have negative experiences of being teased about our names – elementary school classmates were particularly insensitive in this regard – or being nicknamed without our permission, or having clients repeatedly call us the wrong name over the course of a project. Often, people misspell names in writing, even when the correct spelling is conveniently listed in the email signature. Double checking the spelling before hitting “send” is a quick and easy way to be kind to our colleagues. (Double checking the pronouns in an email signature is also a great way to avoid misgendering someone we haven’t met who might have a neutral name like Shawn, Kyle, Taylor, or Tyler.)   

Teaching by Example 

Celebrating everyone’s name is a habit we should practice with each interaction. Parents can teach their children that names are special and come with important stories, instilling the values of kindness, inclusion, and respect. In meetings or social settings, we can gently speak up when we hear someone’s name being mispronounced. With our friends, we can be compassionate and sensitive to those who identify with multiple cultures, listening instead of weighing in on just how and where they fit into each.  

Those of us with unique names treasure them as part of our story, despite the work that comes with them. As we all strive to support those around us and create a more inclusive world, the investment in getting everyone’s name right is well worth the effort.  

About Carlota, Caroline, and Ginny

As a Senior Specifications Writer, Associate Carlota Longo collaborates with project teams across LS3P’s eleven offices to provide the technical specifications that help translate the firm’s designs a three-dimensional reality. She enjoys the challenge of working on a broad range of projects at all scales. Carlota’s previous professional experience as a Retail Facilities Coordinator for Ralph Lauren led to her interest in architecture and construction; she joined LS3P in 2006.

Carlota recently served as a member of the firm’s JEDI Group working for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the firm, the profession, and our wider communities. She is also a member of the Construction Specifications Institute at the local and national level, and is an accredited Construction Documents Technologist and LEED AP.


Caroline Pedrotti is an Interior Designer in LS3P’s Charleston office. Caroline, a recent graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, joined the firm in 2021 and works primarily on federal and industrial projects. She is also interested in higher education, K-12, commercial, and residential designs.

Caroline is passionate about designing for diversity, activism, and inclusion in the built environment, including creating deafspace and supporting people with learning disabilities, dementia and Alzheimer’s. A member of LS3P’s JEDI Group, Caroline is also a volunteer in the ACE Mentor program to foster the next generation of designers.


Associate Ginny Lee, a recent graduate of the University of Virginia with a Master of Architecture, also holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Villanova University. Her portfolio includes work for diverse senior living, federal, and athletic projects in the Charlotte area. While at Villanova, she earned the Dewling Family Endowed Scholarship for Graduate Environmental Study for Women. Active in community outreach, Ginny has served as a volunteer on medical service trips in Cambodia and Thailand, and participated in Villanova’s Engineering Service Learning program evaluating water resources in rural communities. She also served as a Teaching Assistant in Structural Design for Dynamic Loads, Intro to Structural Design, and Lessons in Making at the University of Virginia