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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Not-So-Magic Bullet

I've sincerely lost count how many times others have asked what technique I use to remember names. Almost without exception, those who ask me that question also say they are "... so bad with names ..." And it always mystifies me when sincere people who want to remember names cannot see the way they've defeated themselves before any new person they're meeting gets a name out of their mouth.

When an internal conversation about any ability is set to a negative default, what would you guess is the likely outcome? My "technique" for remembering names is ludicrously simple; I give the person new to me 100% of my attention when they say their name. I'm not focused on the past (e.g. I was so embarrassed the last time I didn't remember someone's name, I've never been good with names, etc.), or the present (e.g. How do I look? Is there a booger hanging out of my nose?, etc.), or the future (e.g. What will say next? Will I remember their name five minutes from now? etc.) In other words, all my focus in that brief second is on one thing - that name.

Then ... you can use techniques we've all read and heard a thousand times. Say the person's name at the next conversational moment that presents itself, use a mnemonic  - if those work for you, connect the name to someone you already know with the same name and visualize that more familiar person as you speak to this new person, etc., ad nauseam. But ...  if you failed to give the other person's first utterance Arthur Ashe-like laser focus, those smarmy sales techniques might not help. In that very first second the person says their name, you must think of nothing except their name.

Try this in your next several encounters and let me and others know how it goes. Remember this: If you get someone's name wrong - as I did in my first attempt with the wife of the last person who told me he had trouble with names - you will be corrected. That's a good thing - it tells the person you just met you're trying and it will help you concentrate even harder the next time you try. Avoid dwelling on your embarrassment, because when you do that you are not thinking about only a person's name when you're introduced. You're thinking about yourself.

2 comments:

  1. I like this and will use it the next time I meet someone new. Thanks!

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  2. Ines; You're welcome! Glad you found this useful.

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