Q: One of your neighbors has greeted you by name for years, and you never got around to asking for a refresher on his name. Is it too late to ask now?
A: Oh my, if it has truly been years of greeting one another, then this is quite a conundrum.
Generally speaking, it’s best to get in that name refresher ask no later than the second or third time you meet someone. It’s very easy to forgive at that point, and almost everyone appreciates when you not only get the name right, but also say it correctly. If you only know the person’s name on paper, never be afraid to ask how to pronounce it, first or last name. I think every one of us appreciates it when people get our name right.
But with years gone by, it really is too late to ask. I’m not sure there’s any way you would escape offending your neighbor, and I think you would likely feel the same if the situation were reversed.