I am terrible at remembering names. I will often forget a name within seconds of being introduced to someone. I have come to believe that this is an unforgivable fault, easily corrected by caring enough to make the effort to remember.
SO I have developed a little formula that works for me. It doesn’t come naturally and requires some concentration. But people care about their names and appreciate those who care enough to remember. Try this formula and see if it helps you remember names.
Next time you meet someone, take these steps to remember their name:
When you are introduced to someone look at them.
Take note of their face and any unusual or outstanding features. Deep blue eyes. A mole. Smile lines.
Even if they tell you their name, ask them to repeat it. Maybe even spell it. Listen to the name and connect it to the face.
Use their name. Tell me Larry, what do you do for a living? How long have you lived here, Larry?
When you leave, shake their hand and use their name one last time. “It’s a pleasure to have met you, Penelope.”
If you really want to remember names for a long time. Or if you are in situations where you meet many people at once and want to remember their names try this last step.
This technique takes you the extra mile. I once memorized the names of several hundred students at a camp using it.
Create a unique visual picture to connect a person’s name to that outstanding feature you noticed when you looked at their face.
For example you meet Frank and notice that Frank wears a pair of large glasses with heavy black rims. Momentarily picture a sizzling “Frank / Wiener” lying across the top of his glasses. You only have to vividly make the picture for a second then you can forget it. Next time you see Frank you will see the sizzling frank on his glasses and be able to call him by name.
Be careful that you don’t call Frank, Wiener, hotdog or Hormel.
You are introduced to a girl named Irene, which sounds a little like the word “iron.” Irene has a distinctive beauty mark above her lip. Instantly you picture an iron hanging by it’s cord from the beauty mark. The more ridiculous the visualization the more firmly the image will be in your brain and the longer you will remember the name.
Because of the concentration this requires it makes you seem very interested in people. That’s because YOU ARE interested enough to make the effort.
None of this is offensive unless you point out the distinctive features and your visual images. But forgetting a name is offensive.
Ahead of time I have created and memorized a list of images for dozens of common names so that I don’t have to make one up on the spot.
Irene = iron
Tom = cat
Bill = dollar bill
Sam = Uncle Sam
Sally = Salad
Now that you get the idea try it on these:
Rod = ?
Melanie = ?
Jennifer = ?
Shannon = ?
Karl = ?
This is work, but it works.
For those of you who know my forgetfulness. This next story will seem like a miracle.
Not long ago I met a man I hadn’t seen for 20 years. His name was Wylie James, I was able to walk right up to him and say, “Wylie James, I’m Ken Davis. How long has it been since we have seen each other? He was astounded and pleased that I remembered him. I said nothing to him about the fact that his unusually bushy eyebrows were being consumed in “Wild Flames.”[reminder] What formula do you use to remember names? Try the one above and let me know how it works. [/reminder]