"My gosh," you mutter to yourself,"here comes that lady I met at the reception last week. Now I have to introduce her to the three people with me. But I can't remember her name."
Sound familiar? Sure enough, and you feel awkward and embarrassed.
This name lapse happens too frequently. Yet the ability to recall names instantly remains vitally important for sales, marketing, public relations, management, politics, customer service, patient relations, volunteer work, and every other professional function.
Use these seven basic tips, and you'll start remembering names with remarkable accuracy:
- Be sure you catch the name to begin with.
Why don't we catch the name? Usually there is a fairly obvious reason. Instead of listening to a person's name when we are introduced, we are thinking about the brilliant opening comment we are going to make next. So the name, though clearly stated, slips right by us.
Note: Nothing you could say for your opening sentence would be as impressive as demonstrating that you captured the person's name accurately.
- Ask for the spelling if necessary.
An uncommon name startles us. We tend to give up on learning it. Now think, though, would it be rude to ask the person to spell her name?
Not at all. In fact, your new acquaintance will be pleased that you are that interested in her. She will spell it more than once if the first go-round doesn't work.
- Visualize the name.
Suppose you meet a guy named Hardy. Right away, picture a Hardee's restaurant. See the man's name in lights, with this slightly different spelling. Envision yourself eating a burger with him. You'll be amazed at how quickly your imagination imprints the name in your memory.
- Associate the name.
Let's say you meet a woman named Alice. Certainly you have met other Alices. Associate the familiar Alice with the new Alice.
You can even associate with famous people you don't know. For example, when you meet a Michelle associate her with Michelle Obama. Or in meeting a Robert, associate him with Robert Redford.
- Use the person's name in your first response.
Immediately after being introduced to George, say "It's so good to meet you, George." Even that initial use of the name lets him know that you got his name accurately.
Once or twice more during you conversation, inject his name:
"George, where did you say you are from originally?"
"Tell me, George, do you live on the street behind the shopping center?"
Every time you include his name in the conversation, you are giving yourself an additional reinforcement of his name, even as you demonstrate your knack with names.
- Get the name in writing.
Here again, you are not insulting your new acquaintance, you are flattering her. Alice likes this indication that you want to keep her name, and preserve it accurately.
Or if you are in a setting where Alice is likely to have a business card with her, offer to exchange cards. This request provides you with a written copy of the name.
- Review your list of names prior to a social function.
So, you are going to attend the Kiwanis Club's annual dinner meeting. You want to brush up on the names of likely attendees before you get there. Simple, just pull out the membership list and review the names. Soon you'll be thinking, "Oh yes, Dorsey is the tallest guy in the group" or "Eileen has the reddest hair I have ever seen."
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., helps organizations strengthen their communication, customer service, sales, and motivation. His top-tier client list includes the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, British Columbia Legal Management Association, Gillette, and Duracell. Visit his Web site to sign up for his online monthly newsletter:
http://www.championshipcommunication.com Call him: 678-316-4300