Trouble Remembering & Using People’s Names? Here’s Help (Part 1)
I can't tell you how many times I've heard the axiom that the sweetest thing a person can hear is the sound of their own name. It's been said by many over the years in different ways. And I would say, it's mostly true.
One of the most basic human needs we all have is to feel a sense of belonging and/or that we are "seen." It's wired into our DNA. So, remembering and using people's name in social and professional settings is a lesson worth learning. It's one of the fastest ways to establish a sense of connection with someone. If you can make them laugh, all the better.
That being said, many of us find it difficult to do. We've got many things vying for our attention and in the grand scheme of it all, this may seem less important. But, it's the "little things" that can very often turn into big things. So, how do we do it?
First step is being prepared when you meet someone for the first time:
Make sure you're listening, with intent, and paying attention when they tell you their name. As simple as this sounds, it's a HUGE first step in remembering. Even if the conversation continues, ten seconds later or so, see if you can repeat it in your mind.
Make the next sentence that you say to them include their name. I've heard professionals do this so many times. "It's delightful to meet you, Benji." (What? That's the first name that came to my mind.) Try to say it right after they tell you.
Don't be afraid to repeat it. Obviously, you don't want to sound like an intrusive AI weirdo, so take it easy. But, most people appreciate that you're seeking to learn their name. In fact, knowing you're may be charming to them. It may also cause them to have more interest in whatever it is you're telling them. When you're leaving the conversation, that's a great time to say it once more.
Once you've left the interaction, go back over it in your mind, and keep their face in your head as you do. Do this over the next couple of days and you'll find it gets easier and easier. It's a habit like anything else.
I also find it helpful to associate something with their name. Perhaps they have unique feature or you found them particularly nice to chat with. Incorporating emotions and memories can be hugely helpful.
We'll be back with Part 2!
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