What is your bosses name?

breakfastOnce upon a (recent) time, I was enjoying my breakfast (coffee & Promite on toast), and, I don’t know where it came from, but a completely random question popped into my head:

What DO my students call their boss at work experience?

Like popcorn, hot on the heels of that question, jumped another:

Why is it when students bring me the paperwork before their work experience placement, and I ask them what their bosses name is  - they have no clue (even though it is written on the form)?

The questions keep on forming in my head, well, maybe this is an observation, based upon the above two questions.

Why, upon returning from work experience, do so many of my students NOT know, or cannot REMEMBER the name of their boss?

Oh my goodness, I realised with a shock, that this is quite a common occurrence! It is about time I did something about it!

Excited about finding answers to the above, I launched an attack that very day on my careers class. Well, it wasn’t an attack, but certainly an interesting conversation.

It turns out that my students fall into one or two of the following categories:

  1. Confident
  2. Shy
  3. Bad Memory
  4. Can’t be bothered

I will briefly dissect each type:

confident1. Confident

A few students thought that my questions were stupid. “Just call your boss by their first name!” was their immediate response.

Fair call!

shy2. Shy

The majority of the students admitted, (well, they were too shy to admit to being shy – so I judged this via their reactions), that they were too shy to call their boss anything and would avoid situations whereby they had to address them by their name.

If they did have to talk to them, they simply didn’t use a name.

Some shy students also suffer from the following category.

dori3. Bad Memory

I have a bad memory for names, so I can empathise with others who are endowed with the same faulty brain cells. With so much going on, and many things to think about, it is easy to forget a person’s name almost instantaneously.

Having a bad memory is not necessarily a bad thing, but neither is it a good thing.

A bad memory CAN be trained to behave better, although, it does take effort - see some tips below.

bored34. I don’t care

I could tell by the body language of one or two of my wonderful students (head on desk – in sleeping pose) that they really didn’t give #brass-monkey-thing -a-me about my amazing questions.

Is there a cure for that? Does anyone know how to make ALL teenagers interested in their future? Apparently not yet!

Practical Tips…

salutation2What DO you call them?

  • Do you call your boss by their first name?
  • Or do you call them Mr (eg. Mr Moody), or Mrs, or Miss….
  • Or, do you call them Sir?
  • Or do you call them a nickname?

boss2This is a very IMPORTANT question. Little things like this can be the ‘maker’ or ‘breaker’ of future opportunities!

Well, the ONLY way to solve this dilemma is to ASK.

I know that for many students this is a scary thing to do, but seriously the only person who knows what they want to be called is the person themselves.

So you need to ask the following question, and as soon as you can:

"What name should I call you when I am on work experience?"

Remembering Names…

rememberRemembering your bosses name is truly ESSENTIAL (not to mention polite!).

The best way to try and remember a name (eg. John) is to use mental imagery.

When you are introduced to your boss (eg. John), you have to try and picture him with another John – this is a John that you know, (it could be a mate, classmate, neighbour, cousin, singer, actor etc).

The trick is to create a picture in your head, with the two Johns together.

I highly recommend a totally weird-as picture!

finger_in_earIf this were me, I would imagine that my best friend’s partner – John, is sticking his finger in the ear of John (the boss) and pulling a funny face. Each time I approach John (the boss), I will picture John (my friend) with a stupid grin on his face sticking his finger in John’s (the boss’s) ear.

You can choose the image you want, but it has to be memorable for you.

This is a great trick to master! You should try it!

But wait…

What if it is a name you have never heard before? This is a little harder to do, but not impossible.

PatrinaLet’s say your bosses name is Patrina. You don’t know another Patrina.

You could take the first three letters of her name (Pat) and then imagine Patrina patting your dog (or cat).

pat dogWhen Patrina asks you to do something at work, and you can’t remember her name, switch on the picture in your mind.

Pat the dog. Pat is the first part of Patrina's name.

Usually, you can remember the full name, once you have the first part down-pat (excuse the pun!).

You could use this trick with the start, end, or middle of their name.

Or you could use the ‘sounds-like‘ trick.

Zac sounds like Jack etc.

I could keep going, but I think that you get the general picture.

Wrapping it up…

While it may not seem important to you to remember the boss by name at this point in your life, it is an excellent habit to get into for your future.

It is polite and well mannered (and memorable) to address people by their preferred name.

Thank you to my students for inspiring this article!


Here is a worksheet for use in class. Name Calling Worksheet






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