“Sorry, I’m not good with names.”
At one point or another, it’s something we’ve all heard — and probably said — upon meeting someone, and it’s not a great way of making new friends or business contacts.
Forgetting someone’s name, especially more than once, gives off an apathetic vibe, signaling that you don’t care enough to make a point of remembering. But by taking a few moments to commit a name to memory, you greatly increase your chances of making a genuine connection and building a relationship with the person.
How can you instantly remember anyone’s name? We scoured the web and spoke with an executive coach to find the best tips and tricks. Here are nine of the easiest ways to avoid saying “I’m bad with names” again:
First and foremost, make remembering names a priority. If you don’t make a conscious effort to remember, you never will. To do this, give every person you meet your full attention and genuinely focus on what they’re saying. “Fully face them by squaring your shoulders toward them. Look them in the eye, shake hands, smile with your eyes, and listen intently,” suggests Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc. and author of “Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results.”
Ask for a business card.
If you’re at a networking event or other corporate situation, you’ll likely be meeting dozens of people in a short amount of time. Simply ask for a business card at the end of each conversation, and you’ll have an instant reminder of who someone is and what they do.
Write it down.
When you’re at an event where you know you’ll be meeting tons of people, take a moment to jot down a note or two after each conversation. Taking the time to actively remember what you talked about and associate it with their name will create extra repetition that helps you remember permanently.
Ask them to put their name in your phone.
If it’s someone you’re interested in talking to again, ask if you can get their number, and hold out your phone for them to enter it themselves. Most people will include both first and last names, so you’ll be able to look them up on Facebook as well and place their face with the name.
Say it out loud.
The more times you hear a name, the easier it will be for your brain to recall it later. Price recommends immediately repeating the name after they introduce themselves to make sure you’re pronouncing it correctly, and then fitting it into your conversation as much as possible. “By saying the person’s name aloud several times in the conversation, you engrave their name in your memory,” she says.
On “Modern Family,” Phil Dunphy uses visualisation to remember names of clients. “The other day, I meet this guy named Carl. He had a Grateful Dead t-shirt on, and what is a band like the Grateful Dead? Phish. Where do fish live? In the ocean. What else lives in the ocean? Coral. Hello, Caaaarlll.”
Create a visual.
Mentally associate a similar object, place, or person with the name that will help you quickly recall it. For example, if you meet someone named Kelly, think of the colour Kelly green. If you meet a Rich, picture piles of money — whatever works best for you.
This technique always works for Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family.”
Think of their hobbies.
After your conversation, repeat their name and something memorable you learned about them in your head a few times. For example, “Kelsey swims competitively,” or “Larry writes a blog about cheese.” Associating the name with a specific fact will help you place them next time you speak, and the added repetition will help lock it into your memory.
Think of something ridiculous.
Create a visualisation in your head of something that reminds you of the name, whether it’s that person’s hobby, job, or even just a word that rhymes with the name. And the more outrageous it is, the more likely you are to remember. For example, if you just met a Jeff, think of him as Jeff the Chef. “Visualise Jeff wearing a chef’s hat, cooking in your kitchen, wearing your favourite pot on his head — remember, the more bizarre the better,” Price says.
Ask a friend.
If you’re at a social event, such as a party or happy hour, ask a mutual friend to fill you in on any names you forgot. Recounting your conversation to a friend will also help you commit a new acquaintance to memory by associating their name with what you talked about. “Yes, I did meet Brooke tonight! She’s the one who loves the Beatles, right?”
If all else fails, own up to your own forgetfulness, and just ask. Most people will be happy to remind you.
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