Ah remembering names…this is definitely one of my personal frustrations that certainly needs a little work. The value of meeting new connections on a personal and business level is great, but having trouble remembering new names can be borderline rude. Being able to remember someone’s name is one of the simplest ways you can make someone feel special or important. And well, let’s face it, drawing a blank on someone’s name that you’ve met before is quite embarrassing.
Ever been in this scenario: you’ve either just met someone new or someone you’ve met in the past approaches – and of course you cannot for the life of you remember their name. All you can think of is trying everything possible to get them to repeat their name or using all sorts of tactics to work around the issue. Unfortunately, studies show this issue just worsens with age (I will not accept this as an excuse, but I do admit retrieval is getting harder. Admitting is the first step, right?!?).
When we meet someone, there is a high expectation to remember everything — from their appearance to the conversation. Definitely relying on the world wide web as a substitute for our memory doesn’t help – has memorization of any kind been lost in our society? After thinking about how important name recognition is, I decided now is the time to work on it. Not tomorrow, or maybe the next day…now! And come to find out there are ways to dramatically increase your ability to remember names, and keep stored in our minds. Here are a few tricks I think might just work. Go ahead, try them out:
Ever heard the silly joke about ‘Pete and Repeat’? Well, this is more ‘meet and repeat’ but you get my point. As soon as you hear someone’s name, the key to remembering it is to repeat it right away. Try to put the name into your next sentence. For example, if you’re being introduced to Jody, you would say, “Hi, Jody, nice to meet you.” Another great way is to ask them a question, “So, Jody, how long have you known Peggy? Then quickly after that, try plugging in their name where you can (but not too much so it looks obvious). Then of course as you are parting ways, look at their face and repeat their name. This will make it easier to remember their name next time. But you know the saying…practice, practice, practice!
So here’s another good tip. You’ve just met Jody and because her name could be spelled a few different ways, you can ask them to spell it. This is most helpful if you are a visual person. It will create almost a mental note in your brain and creates a connection between the person and the visual name. Another great idea is to ask them for a business card – then once you get back to your office enter them into your contacts with a few pieces of information that will be clues later to help you remember them.
I just went to a seminar with about 20 other people. We went around the room and introduced ourselves quickly. The speaker them proceeded to go around the room and repeat each of our names perfectly. What was her trick you think? As you meet someone, consider comparing them with someone you know who shares their first name. Say you just met Mark and coincidentally you have a bother Mark. Easy enough to remember, right? This is a harder one to accomplish, but once you do, it’s easy to do.
One of the main reasons we forget someone’s name is that we’re not completely focused on remembering it in the first place. Maybe there’s too much else going on creating a distraction, too much background noise. Try to ignore these distractions and really focus on the task at hand. It will make the person you are with feel important now and possibly later. I’m sure you’ve had a moment when passing the president of your company in the hall that you’ve only met one time and they remember your name. How did this make you feel? Pretty good I’m sure! It’s because they think it’s important and make it a point to practice it whenever possible.
We all know remembering names is important on both business and personal levels. It’s something we all should try and master at some point. We feel better when people remember us. And in the end, we all just want to be remembered!