Is the first step of communication really greetings or self-introduction? 

*Written in English followed by Japanese

What’s the first step of communication?


Most language textbooks start with basic greetings or self-introduction. But I believe the very first communication in any language is to call by name.  


Imagine you meet your college in the morning, which greeting will make me feel happy, おはよう OHAYOO (good morning) or まきこさーん MAKIKO SA-N (calling me by name)? (Of course you must remember to give a big smile(^-^).) Definitely the latter is better. I can feel you want to relate to me personally because calling the person by name gives a message that I know you personally.


How about asking your friend what to order in a restaurant? Which is the best expression to say “how about you?” when you want to know your friend’s food choice? 


1.あなたは?ANATA WA?

2.まきこさんは? MAKIKO SAN WA?

3.まきこは? MAKIKO WA?


1 sounds impersonal and cold. In fact, we seldom use あなたANATA to mean “you” except for loving couple to say it in an intimate way.  2&3 are both possible depending on how close you are. My siblings call me まきこ while まきこさん is used by some friends. In close relationships, we use more casual forms. But be mindful that there are people who want to be respected, especially for seniors and someone in a higher position.


Importance of Calling by name


Calling by name is a very important first step for a better relationship 😉 Each person has a special lovely name given by our parents or other close ones. For my case, my parents gave me this name 牧子 MAKIKO, which means the Shepherd’s child as I was born on Christmas Day. I remember in one class, the students started to share fascinating stories behind their name. Interestingly in the process of God’s creation work in Genesis 2 in the Bible, He gave man an interesting role to name each animal. Looking at panda, he named panda? Ha ha!! 


So it’s time to switch to call me まきこさん MAKIKO SAN instead of just SENSEI (teacher).  Intentionally put the person’s name in our daily communication, whether conversation or text message, will surely make us feel closer and lead to a better relationship. Let’s practice it intentionally!  











1.あなたは?ANATA WA?

2.まきこさんは? MAKIKO SAN WA?

3.まきこは? MAKIKO WA?









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