Friday, June 17, 2011
That's what's his name....
by Brett & Kate McKay
How to Remember a Person’s Name
Commit to listening and remembering. Most of us are lousy listeners. In social situations, we fall prey to conversational narcissism and are always waiting for a moment we can jump in and add our two cents. If you’re concentrating on what you’re about to say when someone introduces themselves, their name will go in one ear and out the other just like that. If you aren’t intently tuned in during that tiny window, the opportunity to learn their name passes in mere seconds and you’re sunk.
Before going into any social situation where you’ll be meeting new people, commit yourself to being as attentive as possible during introductions. Just having that extra mental focus can go a long way in helping you remember names.
Repeat early, repeat often. When you first meet someone, repeat their name as soon as you learn it. That will help sear the person’s name into your memory. Say something like, “Hi Jill, nice to meet you!” or “Pleasure to meet you, Jill.”
After that initial repeat, use the person’s name as much as you can throughout the conversation without coming off as a cheesy used car salesman. “Where are you from, Jill?” “How’s the weather in Toledo this time of year, Jill?” “How do you know the bride and groom, Jill?” You get the idea. Again, be natural and don’t over do it.
To really burn the name into that noggin of yours, make sure to end your conversation by repeating the person’s name one final time. “Great meeting you, Jill. I hope we can stay in touch.”
Not only does this technique help you remember someone’s name, it also makes you seem charming. As we mentioned, people love the sound of their own name.
Have them spell it out. Hearing a person spell their name can help you remember it, especially if it’s an unusual name. If it’s a common name, but has different spelling variations, ask the person which variation he or she uses. For example, if a person’s name is Bryan, you can ask, “So is that Bryan with a y or Brian with an i? He answers, “It’s Bryan with a y.” Now whenever you see that person, you can think, “That’s Bryan with a y.”
Use a mnemonic device. If someone has an especially unusual or a foreign name, even having them spell it out won’t help much. In that case, try to break their name up into real words that sound like the syllables in their name. Katie Couric famously revealed that she remembered how to pronounce the name of the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by thinking, “I’m a dinner jacket.” This technique is highly effective. After reading Couric’s comment, I have never forgotten his name or how to say it.
Visualize the person’s name on their forehead. As soon as you hear the person’s name, visualize their name stamped in big block letters across their forehead. Keep that mental picture on their forehead the entire time that person is in your presence.
Associate the person’s name with an easy to remember picture. After hearing a person’s name, make it as tangible as possible to you by associating their name with a picture. Be as creative as you want with this. There’s no wrong or right way to do it. The association just needs to be meaningful to you. For example, if a person’s name is Leif Bernstein you might imagine Papa Bernstein Bear holding a big leaf.