Meet Me Now and Remember Me Later
Whenever I meet someone, I do everything possible to make a good first impression: I give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye, tell them how pleased I am to meet them and carry on a conversation of varying length. Then I walk away and completely forget their name. Why is that? I am a fairly intelligent person who has the ability to remember the most random facts like the name of the Russian who killed Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. (Ivan Drago) It frustrates me to no end that I cannot remember recent acquaintances' names.
It Happens to the Best of Us
The good news for me is that this is a common occurrence in humans. It's not that we don't want to remember the name. Everything about the interaction says that we are interested in those we meet: the firm handshake, looking in the eye, pleasant greeting. But these are all physical acts that we remind ourselves of constantly. It amounts to muscle memory and something that is pointed inward. Your new friend giving you their name is something external and interferes with what you are trying to accomplish on your end.
Further complicating matters is the fact that even though your own name is the most important thing you own and the thing that makes you who you are, their name is unimportant in that moment. Just like their name is very important to them and yours is of no consequence to them. In fact, when you are conversing with someone you just met, that person's name is very low on the first impression scale. All of this adds up to names disappearing almost as quickly as they enter the conversation.
Are You Better Than Average?
What percentage of the time do you remember the name of someone you just met?
All Is Not Lost
Nobody wants to forget these names. It is an important part of business; whether it be closing a deal or just keeping up the morale of those that work for you. It is also important at parties and other social functions in order to build a larger network - not to mention trying not to insult the person you just met. The good news for all of us is that there are ways to turn the problem around and create a strength where there was once a weakness.
According to BusinessKnowHow.com*, attitude is the first step. If you constantly harp on the fact that you forget names and keep it in the back of your mind, it will turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy and you will definitely forget. The site also notes not to apologize to people for asking them to repeat their name as you are basically reminding them of your mistake.
Make the Effort to Remember
Once your attitude has turned around, you can start to change your behaviors. Make it a point every time you meet someone to remember something about the name that interests you or that will stick in your mind instead of focusing on a physical attribute. You can also practice this in your spare time, if it's something that you really want to turn around quickly. Sure, you can't really surprise yourself with a name, but a friend or partner can make up a name and you can focus on the syllables of that name or how that name relates to the person you're practicing with. This will make it easy to use it in situations where you are meeting important people in a business meeting or just meeting a new neighbor or pretty girl at the end of the bar.
Putting it in your mind that you want to remember the name will not automatically help you do so every time but it is a very effective first step to making it a habit. Repeating the name is a trick that some people use to break the habit. It should be noted that this is also the most obvious tactic and may end up annoying people if done too often especially if that person can hear you doing it to everyone in the room.
Another way to force yourself to remember is to be the one that drives the conversation towards getting their name. Make sure you are guiding the conversation and not forcing it at an awkward time. If you do it correctly, your thirst for knowledge will be quenched with the memory of their name.
I'm Aaron, by the way...
- How to Remember People's Names
Do you have a hard time remembering people's names? Does it embarrass you and make you avoid people? It's a common problem, but also costly if it prevents you from approaching a business contact. Here are tips to help you remember people's names.