Why are we so bad at remembering names? We meet someone at a networking function and 10 seconds later, we have forgotten their name. We see a familiar face at an event, but the name escapes us. We crane our neck to get a glimpse of their name badge hoping to jog our memory. We feel the dread of embarrassment when we have to introduce someone we supposedly know to someone else, but we can’t remember either of their names.
In business, remembering names has got to be fundamental, but everyone seems to be suffering a severe skill deficit in this area. The major reason is because we have no good methodology for remembering other’s names and are constantly winging it and failing. By the way, it is a great practice to always proffer our own name first, whenever greeting someone else, to potentially alleviate their embarrassment of not recalling our name.
Here are some steadfast actions that will turn you from a serial name forgetter into a name remembering legend.
1. Listen. Sounds simple but often we don’t catch the name, because we didn’t actually hear it clearly. We may be in a noisy venue with tonnes of distractions, all tempting us from our name remembering task. In that instant when they say their name, we need to shut down everything else going on in our brain, which is competing with our memory function and just focus on our task – get the name, remember the name.
2. Ask the person to repeat their name if you couldn’t catch it. Their name may be difficult to hear, they may be a rapid and rabid mumbler or you might be losing your hearing! The reasons vary, but if you didn’t get it, then request a repeat delivery of the name.
The flip side is when we give our name. Have you ever listened to a voice mail message and have had to keep replaying the message to get the name, because the person is speaking so fast and so indistinctly? We must make sure we are slowing ourselves down and saying our own name clearly. Don’t rush your name (it’s your brand by the way!). Try this formula: "Hello, (PAUSE) my name is (PAUSE) Greg (PAUSE) Story" hitting the surname with a bit more strength, than when we say the personal name. Try it and you will find many more people will be able to hear your name clearly.
3. Impression. Take note of their physical characteristics (height, weight, complexion, body language). Listen to the person's voice carefully. Is it distinctive, because they have a certain national or regional accent or style of speech? Look at their eye and hair colour. Try to "visualize" the personality – do you see them as dynamic, reserved, outgoing, boring? Link the impression back to the name (Dynamic Dan, Barry Boring).
4. Repeat their name to yourself silently several times to get it fixed in your mind. Try a pep talk like, "I am good at remembering names, this is Bob Smith, Bob Smith, Bob Smith, I remember this is Bob Smith". That repetition drives the name into your memory right at the start.
5. Use their name several times during your conversation. Instead of saying "what made you attend today’s event", just add in the name and say, "Bob, what made you attend today’s event?" Obviously don’t overdo it with repeating their name every second word and come across as a rampant, name recalling lunatic! It should be natural and subtle.
6. Picture - create a picture in your mind’s eye that's colourful, action-oriented and exaggerated. The more totally bizarre the better. The exaggeration linked to the name really drives the image into our brain for better recall.
Here are some handy acronyms to help recall, how to recall! "L.I.R.A"
L - Look and Listen; I - Impression; R – Repetition; A – Association and "P.A.C.E"
P : Person- What is it about this person?; A : Action- What action can you associate?; C : Color- What color can you associate?; E : Exaggeration- Any exaggerations to associate?
So slow down, take your time with the name, fix it in your mind and become the name remembering legend you know you really are!