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How to Remember Names - Remembering Names is a Neglected Skill
Can You Picture this Guy Moonwalking?
How important is it to you that someone remember and use your name?
Remembering names of people you meet at a party is a good idea, but remembering the name of your customer is a great idea. Look no further than you own life to get the point. Do you feel more positive toward someone who addresses you by your name? Of course you do. What so many business and professional people don't get is that one of the simplest ways to gain customer loyalty is simply to remember the person's name. You don't have to have a photographic memory; you just have to follow some simple rules.
I try to make it easy for a business owner to know my name, because I like to be addressed that way. One way I do this is to use my full name when signing a credit card, not just initials. This is an opportunity for the business owner to get to know me by name. Notice that I say it's an opportunity, because it is. I read about a guy who was so intent on getting to know his customers' names that he would jot down the license plate number of whoever pulled into the parking lot. He would then run a search with the motor vehicle department to find out who owns the car. Now THAT is being serious about using a customer's name.
See if this sounds familiar to you. There is a local hardware store that I patronized for years. I would always refer to the owner by his first name. This was never reciprocated. I always put my name very clearly on the credit card slip. He didn't seem to care. I once met the guy at a social event and someone formally introduced us. Still, he never addressed me by name. A new hardware store opened in town about equidistant to the one I mentioned above. I have never returned to the no-name store again. My wife and I frequent a diner nearby where just about everybody addresses us by name, from the owner to the check out lady to the waitresses. I don't doubt that if I walked into the kitchen a dishwasher would hail me by name. This diner is one of the most expensive around, but when we go there we feel special.
How to Remember Names
There are only two things to keep in mind when trying to remember a name. These are two tips. Hint: tip number two is the most important.
1. Use mnemonics. A mnemonic device is simply a way to assist your memory. The time honored mnemonic to use when you meet someone is to associate the person's name with something outlandishly visual. You have no doubt heard of this before, but it requires some elaboration. The crazier the visual image that you form the better. For example, any time I am introduced to a guy named Phil, I picture a gigantic couch with TV's ubiquitous psychologist Dr. Phil sitting in front of it and the guy I just met lying down on it. I always associate the name Bob with someone bobbing in a pool holding onto a large beach ball. The point of all this is that we human beings remember things by association. The more outlandish the association, the more likely it is that you will remember it. It's useful to have a list in your mind of ready associations for common names. In his book, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, journalist Joshua Foer recounted his experience at becoming a memory expert. The title of his book illustrates the importance of outlandish association. In recalling a particular event, Foer pictured Albert Einstein moonwalking. Sticks in your mind, no?
2. Pay attention. As I mentioned above, this is the most important of the two name-remembering tips. So you get the idea of making a crazy association with a person's name in order to remember it. So what? Unless you focus on the task when you are introduced you will blow the chance. We need to get into a mindset to be alert and focused when introduced, otherwise, you will forget to use the mnemonic.
What about being introduced to a person whose name you never heard before? You find yourself stuck because you can't think of an associative image for a Zeke. Here's what to do. Engage Zeke in a conversation and use his name at least three times. Yes, this may sound like you're force feeding your brain but it works. "Hi Zeke, what an interesting name. How do you spell it? Tell me Zeke, have you been to this restaurant before? Are you from around here Zeke." You get the idea. You have to focus. By the time your brief conversation ends, you may have come up with an image association of Zeke sitting on top of Mt Everest, the world's tallest peak (rhymes with Zeke) holding a gigantic "Z."
Remembering a person's name is one of the most important skills we can develop, especially if that person is a customer or prospective customer. All it takes is paying attention and making up a crazy association.
Copyright © 2012 by Russell F. Moran