Play The Name Game

August 1, 2011

Most of us claim to be terrible at remembering names.  So much so that you will tell people that you are.  But in doing so, you are sabotaging your own memory.  If you continue to have the mindset that you are unable to remember names, you will always forget someone’s name only seconds after hearing it.  The next time you see that person, your brain will be scrambling to remember who they are.  Worse yet, you might be scrambling for a name immediately while still conversing with them in the initial meeting.

It is important to learn the skill of remembering names, not only in business but also in your personal life.  Dale Carnegie wrote, “Remember that a person’s name, to that person, is the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”  Think of how impressed you were when someone you barely know walked up to you and called you by name.  That is the impression that makes sure people will remember you.  So you must take the steps in learning how to remember names and to make yourself memorable.

  • Step One:  Impression.  You need to create an impression of that person in your mind.  Take note of any special characteristics and the facial features that person possesses.  If you didn’t hear their name clearly, ask them to repeat it.  Concentrate on only one thing:  the name.
  • Step Two:  Repetition.  When someone gives us a telephone number and says “call me,” you start repeating the number while you scramble for a piece of paper and a pen.  Essentially, you are storing that number in your short term memory.  But if you use that phone number repeatedly, you will remember it longer.  So when you are introduced to someone, say their name in your return greeting.  Use their name throughout the conversation, but don’t overdo it.  In repeating their name, you are engraving it in your mind and pleasing your listener as well.
  • Step Three:  Association.  In order to keep that person’s name in your mind for the long term, create an association with something you already remember well.  Paint an exaggerated and absurd picture of the person doing something that reminds you of that person’s name, and be sure that your mind picture involves motion.

These techniques will work in not only remembering names, but also in remembering events and locations.  As with any skill, you need to practice these steps in order to benefit from them.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Alabama, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Huntsville, Alabama. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @DaleCarnegieALA.

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