"If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance." - Dale Carnegie
It's common to hear people say that they can't remember names. More often than not, what they're actually saying is that they can't be bothered to remember. It's easy to recall names when we want something from someone. If it's a promotion, we're going to know and remember the name of the person hiring for that position. If it's someone we want to associate with, the name sticks. When we don't perceive a direct benefit to remembering someone's name then we tend not to, which is unfortunate because it's key to relationship building.
Our names are personal and we're usually flattered when another takes the time to get it right and addresses us with it. It’s a simple way to attract people to us by making them feel valued, important, and appreciated. Being able to remember names isn't a talent that comes effortlessly so we have to consciously work on it. Fortunately, it's really easy.
Try the following the next time you have to remember someone's name.
1. Pay attention - listen - when someone is saying their name or introducing you to someone else.
2. If you didn't hear it or are unsure of what was said, ask to have it repeated. If the name is unusual, ask for the spelling.
3. Repeat the name yourself. Say something like, "It's nice to meet you, Michelle."
4. Try associating names of new acquaintances with famous names, like Marilyn Monroe, Tom Thumb, Queen Elizabeth or Roger Rabbit.
5. Visualize the spelling of the name while you're looking at the person.
6. Repeat the name silently in your mind every few seconds, then every couple of minutes.
7. Say the name two or three times during the conversation.
8. Within the next day or so of having met, do a mental review of anyone new to you and their names so the next time you see them, you can greet them by name.
When You Forget Someone's Name
There are times when you won't remember every name. When that happens, let the other person know that you remember her, but you've forgotten her name. It's possible that she's forgotten your name also so an approach to find out her name is to restate yours. Say, "It's good to see you again. We met at Sarah's last month, my name is Brian." Hopefully, she'll respond by giving her name also.
If she remembered your name but you've forgotten hers, say something like, "I remember that we met at Sarah's last month, but your name has slipped my mind." This way you've stated that you remember her, but not her name.
You may also run into a situation where you've remembered her name, but she's forgotten yours. Save her the embarrassment and avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation by reintroducing yourself.
Remembering names isn’t difficult. Remembering to make an effort to remember names can be. Addressing others with their name shows that your giving them your undivided attention and that makes them feel important. As Dale Carnegie said, “If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment” – and that will make people like you.
Laurie Wilhelm manages the Express Yourself to Success website, a one-stop e-source with information and techniques on communication skills, interpersonal skills, public speaking, networking and conflict resolution. Achieve your success by working effectively with others. Find out how you can boost your career and get a free eBook, What You Need to Succeed: Social Skills.