One word can make a big impact on a conversation. And that word is the person’s name.
I worked for a short period on construction sites. Often my tasks involved moving materials around, which meant seeing the lift operator dozens of times a day, perhaps hundreds of times a week.
Due to the short nature of the trip, I didn’t hurry to introduce myself. Interactions might be limited to a polite “good morning” or “thank you”. But after a few days, I was seeing this person so much that I would introduce myself and learn their name.
And a funny thing happened nearly every time I went from no-name to knowing names. Once someone learns your name they start asking other questions about you, opening up conversations more. And simply because they now knew my name. One word.
Now let me tell you something extremely petty that rubs me the wrong way. My name, Steven, is often misspelt as “Stephen”.
I realised over time the reason why it bugs me so much. When it happens, I feel like the person doesn’t know me. It’s petty, but I know I’m not alone here.
The same can happen when you forget someone’s name altogether. You have a great chat with them, but the next time you see them you can’t remember their name. And this creates this unintended impression that you have forgotten them.
And it’s all because of one word. Their name.
Remembering people’s names is important for connection, for not giving people the impression that you don’t remember them.
Remembering names is a big deal.
But we can have poor memories. Some people are good with faces, bad with names, and vice-versa.
Here are 4 tips for remembering names. See which works for you.
1. Association: When you hear their name, connect it to something else. They say their name is James. Perhaps you have a cousin named James. Perhaps you tie it to James Bond. Perhaps you think of James Franco. Visualise it, associate it. Then when you next see them, you think of Franco, Bond and your cousin and your brain is pointing to James being their name.
2. Repeat their name: Many sources suggest that if you repeat the person’s name a lot after you meet them then you will be much better at remembering it. Eg: “G’day Marty. So Marty, what brings you out to these parts? Marty, has anyone ever told you that you have three noses?”
3. Try a nick-name: Ask them if they have a nick-name, or make one up. People’s nick-names tend to be more memorable then generic names, and in my opinion are said with much more affection. The added bonus is you can ask them the story behind their nick-name if it’s a particularly curious one.
4. Set yourself on fire: Science has shown that you will remember things better if you are in pain as it occurs. So set yourself on fire when someone is introducing themselves and you should easily remember their name. We don't recommend it though.