Remembering their names… we all have trouble with this one.

How often do you notice that you forget people’s names? You will be at a reception and meet someone, and he will say, “Hello, my name is Steve Harrison.”  You will respond, “It is nice to meet you.” Then after five minutes of conversation you will have already forgotten his name.  Red Alert!

How embarrassing! Now you feel stupid because you just met this guy and are unable to remember his name.

Or, you are keen to continue developing a business relationship with a company group. There are several people to remember in the conversation.  Now you find yourself more interested in talking about the future business possibilities than remembering the people in the room during the conversation. You want to follow-up and now are stuck trying to remember who you just met.

Another scenario is that you are having a discussion with someone and it is a good conversation.   You notice that you are unaware of the name of the person with whom you are talking and, because so much time has gone by, now you feel awkward on how to ask for their name and/or how to volunteer your own.  Most of us can relate to this problem of remembering names.

Therefore, here are some practical and tested strategies to help routinely remember people’s names:

  1. SAY THEIR NAME ALOUD RIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU MEET THEM.

 He meets you and says, “I’m Steve Harrison.” Rather than saying, “It’s nice to meet you,” include his name.  Say, “It is nice to meet you, Steve,” or better still say, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Steve Harrison.” It is often better to use his first and last name in the conversation because:

  1. You will likely remember “Steve Harrison” more than just “Steve.”
  2. Steve will notice you used his first and last name, which is unusual, and he will like it. (The biggest need that people have to be met is to feel important.)
  1. REPEAT THE NAME THREE TIMES IN YOUR HEAD UPON MEETING THEM.

Think about how often you will sing a song in your head, and then say to yourself, “I can’t get that song out of my head!”

Remember, what you rehearse you will duplicate.

So, when you meet Steve Harrison, be sure to say 3 times to yourself, “STEVE HARRISON, STEVE HARRISON, STEVE HARRISON.”  Your recall will be more anchored in your memory. 

  1. INCLUDE SAYING THEIR NAME IN THE CONVERATION.

As you continue the initial conversation, add their name in the middle of your remarks. When you do, you will feel more confident that the name is anchored in your brain and they will feel pleased because most people like to be recognized and feel important. Further, if their name is difficult to pronounce and you say it correctly, they will be very pleased because most people are fussy about the correct pronunciation of their name.

  1. CREATE AN ASSOCIATION WITH THEIR NAME BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE CONVERSATION.

Start thinking right away about what you notice about the person you just met.

Perhaps he is tall, or well dressed, or she is interested in bird watching, etc.  Put a premium on connecting the association to the name because that association will trigger your recall better.

For example, some time ago, I met a guy who had previously attended a keynote presentation of mine where he said he remembered me saying something that changed his life.  As a result of what I said, he found his smile.  So I connected his name with finding his smile and the memory stuck. Sometime later when I saw him again, I said hello, called him by name, and reminded him that I remembered how he found his smile.  He was pleased and I was glad that I remembered the association.

  1. WHEN YOU MEET THEM AGAIN, SAY THEIR NAME RIGHT AWAY AND POINT OUT SOMETHING YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THEM THAT IS SPECIAL.

I once met a delightful woman and I noticed that she was impeccably dressed, and I was quite impressed.  So whenever I see her now, I say hello, use her name, and point out how brilliant her outfit is. Rather than being embarrassed about the attention, she likes being complimented, and it is very unlikely I will forget her name.

WHEN YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THEIR NAME… OH MY, WHAT DO YOU DO?

Simply point out the obvious and say, “I’m sorry, I have forgotten your name,” and they will remind you right away.  Your gracious honesty is often easily accepted and you can recover quickly from your embarrassment.

HOW DO YOU GET THEIR NAME AND INTRODUCE YOURSELF?

This one is often a source of concern because it makes people feel awkward, and as a result, many people just avoid discussion of names entirely.

To get their name(s), use a sentence completion:

  1. “Your name is…?” They will fill that in right away, or you can introduce yourself followed by the sentence completion. 
  2. “My name is ____, and you are…?”

Remember, when he says “I’m Steve Harrison,” be sure to respond right away with, “It is nice to meet you, Steve Harrison.”

SUMMARY. 

People like to be remembered. You do too.

For some, when you forget their name, they get upset; I have learned this lesson the hard way. I recall one woman who got really upset at me when I returned to her group to teach another class, and she was quite offended that I had forgotten her name! Remember, people want to feel important and forgetting their name hurts their feelings.

So, make a point of practicing these suggestions:

  1. REPEAT THEIR NAME ALOUD RIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU MEET THEM.
  2. REPEAT THE NAME 3 TIMES IN YOUR HEAD UPON MEETING THEM.
  3. INCLUDE SAYING THEIR NAME IN THE CONVERSATION.
  4. CREATE AN ASSOCIATION WITH THEIR NAME BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE CONVERSATION.
  5. WHEN YOU MEET THEM AGAIN, SAY THEIR NAME RIGHT AWAY AND POINT OUT SOMETHING YOU REMEMBER THAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THEM.

With some practice, you will notice these ideas will become habits. You will feel better about remembering names, and they will feel important!

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