By Dr. Laura Hills, President, Blue Pencil Institute, www.bluepencilinstitute.com
Do you have trouble remembering people’s names? If so, I hope you don’t tell people that you’re “terrible with names”. No one likes to hear that. And some people will be offended by such a remark, assuming that you’re self-absorbed and don’t care much about others.
I also hope that you don’t tell yourself that remembering people’s names is beyond your control, that it’s your lot in life to be bad at it, or that it’s just the way you are. Unless you’re physically, psychologically, or emotionally unable to remember names, that’s a bunch of hooey.
The best thing you can do if you think you’re bad at remembering names is to get rid of that notion and get better at it. Here’s how:
1. Focus. Pay close attention when you’re introduced to someone new or when you greet him or her for the first time. If you don’t hear the person’s name clearly, say so right away and ask to have it repeated. Repeat it yourself if the pronunciation is difficult and ask the person to let you know if you’re saying it properly, even if it takes several go-rounds.
TIp: Get the name right, no matter what. You can’t remember what you don’t know.
2. Be more observant. Concentrate during the introduction and don’t allow your mind to wander. Observe the person carefully. Get a distinct impression of him or her. Try to discover outstanding physical or other distinguishing characteristics of the person, especially of his or her face. For example, note whether the person is tall, short, overweight, thin, the length and color of his or her hair, the shape of his or her face, complexion, etc.
3. Repeat the person’s name silently to yourself several times. Also say the person’s name out loud at least once when you meet him or her. For example, “It is so nice to meet you, Mr. Gonzalez.
4. Associate. If possible, associate the person’s name with a rhyme, song, or some other mnemonic device. For example, my last name is Hills. It would be easy for you to remember that if you associate my name with Beverly Hills.
5. Write the person’s name within 24 hours of meeting him or her. The end of each day is a great time to do this. Look at the written name and recall the person’s face and distinguishing characteristics.
Tip: When meeting someone at a seminar or other program where name tags are worn, make a conscious effort to say the person’s name and read his or her name tag at the same time. That way, you’ll both visualize and verbalize the name.