When we meet someone for the first time, or talk with someone on the phone, how do we remember their name? They give it to us – sometimes before we are mentally prepared to hear it – and we soon forget it, if we ever really heard it at all.
We’re not talking about a party trick here where we can someone remember dozens of people’s names from hearing them just one time and then recall them at will just a short time later. This is much more serious than that.
We need to engage the people that are calling upon us, seeking us out to help them, or asking for our advice. We need to show them respect by remembering their names and then using them one or more times in conversation – not because there is any formula to this but because people like hearing their own name. When we address them by name, however, it must seem natural and not forced or contrived – as often happens with salespeople trying to hard to make an impression or by those following an emotionless script.
So, back to the original issue. When someone comes into our office or home show where we are exhibiting, calls us on the phone, or we are introduced to them in public, we reciprocate by introducing ourselves. They may have told us their name – maybe not. If they didn’t, we must politely ask for it.
Now that we have heard their name, how do we remember it so we can refer to them by name in conversation? After all, we are going to hear dozens of people’s names in a week’s time.
There are people who conduct seminars on how to remember names and other things we want to remember (grocery lists or where we put our keys, for instance). Mostly it’s an association game. We associate the sound of a person’s name with a common object and that reminds us later on of their name.
However, coming up with an association is often so challenging that it’s actually easier to remember that her name is Susan rather than coming up with something like “Black-Eyed Susan” and then remembering to visualize a flower as a trigger to think of her name (and not confusing her name for “Daisy” or some other flower name) – or that his name is Robert or Bob rather than triggering it from remembering an image of an “English Bobby.”
Name or word associations may work for some people, but there is an easier way to remember someone’s name when we meet them – regardless of where it is or the circumstances involved.
To remember someone’s name when we meet them, say it aloud in front of them to make sure we heard it correctly and that we are close on the pronunciation (they’ll help us tweak the actual way to say their name if we’re off). Then write it down. Use an information card, a pad, our tablet or smartphone, the back of our business card, or ask them for a card – depending on what we might have available at the time.
Now we will have their name in front of us, and when we forget it in a few minutes because we didn’t really commit it to memory, we can glance at our note and eliminate the need for requesting their name again – very unprofessional to do this.
There is no mental trick for remembering names – nothing short of writing it down when we hear it. That’s how it’s done.