Roshini’s Story: “I spent years feeling embarrassed by it”

Roshini Dhaliwal is the Global HR Director at Barclays and this is her name and her story.

Raw-sh-nEE / the name I was given, how it’s meant to be said
Rosh-nEE / how I pronounce it on the rare occasion I use my full name
Rosh / what most people know me by and how I introduce myselfThere’s a lot to unpack when it comes to my name. For now, a few bits that I wanted to share:

I dropped the last 3 letters because I wanted to:

  1. Make other people feel comfortable and increase the chance of them remembering me / my name. Still, I’ve had Rash (least fave), Rish, Josh (!) and many more. Starbucks definitely made things interesting…
  2. Make myself feel more comfortable, try to blend in, be more palatable, less obviously other etc. I used to dread having to introduce myself or hearing my name called at the doctors (I’ve lost track of the amount of times Ms Diwali has been called up – FYI it’s Da-lEE-wal).

When I joined Barclays, my parents suggested I start using my “proper” name. I told my dad that it would be awkward, that no-one would be able to pronounce it. His advice? Just tell them it’s like Porsche plus knee, but with an R at the start. Safe to say I stuck with Rosh.

Land in India and life is in reverse. I already felt like an imposter as a British born Indian who didn’t speak my native tongue, the self anglicised nickname didn’t help. I start using my full name with pride and cringe if Rosh slips out by mistake. What surprised me the most? How comforting it felt to hear my name said properly, the way it was meant to be said. This was a new feeling, visceral and very welcome during horrible moments of homesickness!

I decided that enough was enough and once I got back to England I would start using my full name with pride. Outcome? Despite playing Destiny’s Child on repeat, within two weeks I’d reverted to Rosh. It’s hard to unlearn habits we develop to manage discomfort…

Roshini means light, radiance, rays of the sun, brightness. My family describe it as the light at the end of the tunnel, that glimmer in the distance. Once in India, someone heard me say it and started laughing and pointing saying “tube light, tube light”. Make of that what you will, my accent was often the source of amusement! Jokes aside, it’s quite a nice name really, and yet I spent years feeling embarrassed by it, trying to make it smaller (c.43% smaller).

Final point I want to make (and if you’ve made it this far, thank you and I’m sorry that you’re having such a boring evening), we’ve all read about the power of remembering someones name. It’s referenced as a way to form connection, make the person feel recognised, a technique to win friends and influence people. But what about the converse? The impact of not having your name remembered, repeated or respected? Surely that’s equally powerful?

I think my new mantra is going to be “say my name, say my name and all 7 letters, please” (Beyonce et al, 1999).

To read more about #MyNameIs and how you can share you story click here.
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