Whether you’ve got a new job, picked up a list of new clients or even if you’re just starting the next semester of college, you’re going to have names to remember. And lots of them, and they’re likely to come flying at you with great rapidity. Are you ready to catch them all?
Have you ever met someone, and couldn’t recall their name only minutes later? Some blame a bad memory and simply shrug it off. But think about the message that sends. Someone who can’t remember a single word can’t be trusted with the big account or the nice office in the corner. And if you’re the college student, aren’t you going to want to remember the name of the cute co-ed two seats over? If you’re constantly grasping for a name in a void of nothingness, here are three tricks you can use to make sure you never have to whisper the phrase “whatsiz name again?”
1. Confirm: Once you meet someone, be sure to make eye contact. Repeat the name immediately to confirm it. There’s a simple phrase you can use to mask this. Perhaps you’ve heard it before. It goes something like, “Nice to meet you, (name).” East Carolina University professor Charles Grant, from the communication department, used this method at the start of each semester to learn and remember the names of each of his students on the very first day of classes. After the exercise, Dr. Grant would look each student in the eyes and repeat the names of the entire class. And that included lecture-hall classes with more than 60 students.
2. Repeat: Many times when you meet someone new, there follows something of an introduction conversation. It’s usually that five minutes of small talk about the local sports scene, politics or even the weather. Take that opportunity to repeat the person’s name three, four or even five times. “So, (name), are you a Giants or A’s fan?” Sure, it may become obvious what you’re doing. But wouldn’t you rather make it known that you’re taking the extra effort to remember the name in the first place?
3. Associate: Take the person’s name and combine it (privately) with your first impressions of the person. Sure, here you can try something cute, like rhyming. Dan The Plan Man might be the company’s new regional manager with lots of ideas. Ericka Stare At Ya might be woman in the next office over who holds onto eye contact a little too long. Whatever works, try it. It might even be as simple as just connecting the name with the first thing the person tells you … Dan, the sportswriter from Detroit. The bottom line is, the more information you associate with the name, the more likely you are to store it.
Bonus: Write it down. If you’re trying all these tricks, and you still find yourself forgetting the names a day or two later, take the time to create a people.txt file on your desktop or devote a notepad in your pocket to the task. Meet someone, have a chat, jot down the name and association. It might be worth the extra effort, especially if your job centers around communication with new people quite often.