You've probably heard the old saying that there is no sweeter sound to the human ear than the sound of one's own name. It's true. You can impress the heck out of new acquaintances if you just remember and use their names, and you'll be remembered (Name Game bonus!).
If you want to impress someone you've just met, say her name. You'll sound like you listen when she talks, like you care what she says, and like she's important enough to merit your complete focus and attention.
If you want to offend someone, mispronounce her name, or worse, call her by a name not hers.
I've lost count of the times I've introduced myself (or been introduced) to someone who cannot remember my name three minutes later when a friend approaches to join our conversation. The conversation typically goes something like this:
"Oh, Jane, have you met, er, ah, this nice lady?" stammers my newest pal.
"Hi, I'm Ronnie Noize, the marketing coach," I say, introducing myself to the newcomer (Ronnie to the rescue!). "And you are?"
How do you think that makes me feel? Important? Valued?
And what do I think of those people who can't be bothered to remember my name? Are they not listening? Am I so boring? Or are they simply not too smart?
(Hey, if you say that you're just one of those people who can't remember names, you're teaching yourself that! ANYONE can learn to remember names, even someone with neurological damage like me.)
We all play the Name Game, with varying skill, and that level of skill is (for the most part) a choice. If you want to be a winner of the game, learn how to remember others' names. Just follow these simple (although not as easy as they look) rules to win at the Name Game:
1. LISTEN well. If we're not really paying attention in the first place, we will instantly forget others' names.
2. REPEAT the name immediately. Repeat it aloud if actually meeting someone, such as "Jane Smith? Nice to meet you, Jane." If you're in a meeting at which everyone is introducing themselves, repeat the name to yourself silently.
3. ANCHOR the name by attaching a physical action. A handshake is perfect if the interaction is personal, but if you are listening to a round of introductions, spell out each person's name with your right forefinger in the palm of your left hand as you mentally repeat it to yourself.
4. REVIEW all the names of those who have been introduced as each new person introduces herself. If there are more than about 20 people, keep mentally reviewing the most recent 20 people's names as the introductions continue. If you have just met one person, say that person's name several times--appropriately. One great technique is to introduce that person to others. You can say something like, "Jane, have you met Maggie? Maggie, this is Jane Smith."
5. ASSOCIATE the name, if that helps you. Alliteration may be helpful for large groups, such as Barbara in blue, Mary the mortgage broker, or Frank the financial planner can help you remember who is who.
6. ASK for the spelling. This is especially important if someone has an unusual name, as listening and repeating the letters and overall pronunciation will help anchor the name in your memory.
And if you forget a name? Don't worry too much about it! The Name Game isn't over until you quit playing.
© 2009 Veronika Noize. All rights reserved.