One of the simplest acts of kindness you can do for someone is to remember and speak their name. You may not have ever given it much thought, but when you call someone by name, it really lights them up and makes them feel like they are significant to you. It’s a really easy way to win friends and build relationships. Blanking on someone’s name, however, makes them feel insignificant and forgettable. It makes you come off like you never cared about them and never planned to see them again. It’s awful when you have to awkwardly ask someone to repeat their name or instead say something generic like “hey there!” to work around the issue. Especially when you’ve just been introduced!
With our increasing reliance on the internet to keep us informed and up to date, memorization of any kind is becoming a lost art. But remembering names is important on so many levels! It makes people feel good when they hear their name, and as a result, they’ll pay better attention to you. They’ll also make more of an effort to remember you later, which could prove very beneficial to you and your cause. Influential leaders always take care to call people by their names. That’s not an accident– they know it matters!
When meeting someone new, there is a lot to take in — their appearance, the conversation, and any distractions happening around you at the moment. It’s understandably difficult to get past all of that to get their name permanently stored in your memory bank. It takes a little bit of brain work! So if you want to get better at remembering names, try these exercises to dramatically increase your ability to catch names and keep them at the top of your mind.
Meet and Repeat
When you get someone’s name, don’t just nod and continue the conversation. Try to plug the name into what you’re saying. For example, “Hi, Mark, nice to meet you.” or “How long have you been in the industry, Sam?”. Use the name just a few times throughout the conversation (not too much, or you’ll come off very creepy). Use the name one last time when you’re saying goodbye as an added effort to commit the name to memory.
Spell it out
If you have a visual memory, create a mental picture of the person’s name. Ask the person you’re meeting to spell their name if it’s an unusual one. If not, then maybe ask for a business card and glance at the person’s name while you’re talking to them. This will create a better connection between the person and the visual name.
When you first hear a name, come up with a verbal game or pattern involving something you know about the person. Something like “Joann from Jamaica” or “Steve in Sales”. You can also picture images that sound like the person’s name and combine it with other things you know about them. For example, if you meet someone named Katie at the library, imagine a kitty reading a book.
Another trick is to make a connection between the person you’re talking to and someone else you know with the same name. As you meet someone, consider a famous person or just someone you know well who shares their same name and maybe even looks somewhat like them. For example: “Melissa like my sister” or “Justin who looks like Justin Timberlake”.
CHOOSE TO CARE!!!
Most psychologists and memory experts claim that one of the main reasons we forget names is that we’re just not focused on learning it in the first place. We simply don’t care! So one simple thing you can try is to just decide to care. If you make a conscious decision that you are going to remember names, you will immediately become much better at doing it.
Make a list of people whose names you don’t remember. Since you obviously can’t write their name down on the list, you’ll have to use phrases like “the new girl at work” or “that guy who showed up to our golf game”. Commit to learning each and every one of the names on your list. Your homework is to then SAY their name to them the next time you meet up with them. Record their response: Did they light up and feel noticed? Did they get embarrassed that they TOTALLY don’t know your name? Was a friendship formed or the relationship deepened? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Remember to keep a copy of your report for yourself. It’ll be fun to look back on in the future and celebrate how awesome you are. Also, don’t forget to write your Joy Journal entry for the day!