Most of us have experienced it. You are introduced to someone, only to forget his or her name within seconds. You rack your brain trying to remember, but can't seem to even come up with the first letter. Then you get frustrated and think, "Why is it so hard for me to remember names?"
Now we all know how important remembering names is. It's the fastest and most reliable way of building rapport, connection, and creating a good first impression. Dale Carnegie stated that a person's name is to that person the sweetest, most important sound in any language.
So why do we actually forget people's name?
You may think it's just how you were born, but that's not the case, according to Kansas State University's Richard Harris, professor of psychology. He says it's not necessarily your brain's ability that determines how well you can remember names, but rather your level of interest. The other factors that impact your ability to remember people's name are nervousness, being concerned about what to say next or thinking you are just bad at remembering names.
So.. how do you remember a person's name?
Fortunately, there are some simple brain training strategies that can help you become better at remembering a person's name. According to Edward "Ed" Cooke a Grandmaster of Memory shared the following tips:
1. Clearly understand their name:
It doesn't matter if you get a name wrong, people are flattered that you take an interest, so take risks, practice actively recalling. This is especially useful if their name is hard to pronounce or from a different nationality.
2. Say the name out loud, and often:
Names exist to be said out loud. By actively using a person's name you are not only practicing it, you are also getting your mind used to the idea that you are socially interested in the person - and that will boost your memory for them yet further.
3. Spell it out:
It's easy to mishear a name, and many names are similar, such as Katie, Katherine, Kate, Cat, Caitlin, Kathy, Karen. Ask a person how their name is spelled. This gives you time to think about the name, and helps to remember it.
4. Link the name to an amusing image:
Another powerful method for linking names to people is to treat them as little sentences.
If someone is called Terrence Mackie, maybe imagine them walking a Terrier eating a Big Mac. If someone is called James Hood, imagine them with Jam in their Hood.
5. Link the person to a celebrity with the same name:
Try associating people who have such names to the celebrities who share them. Linking a person called George with George Clooney will automatically make their name more distinctive and memorable.
6. Pay attention to the face:
The first reason we ever forget anything is that we fail to pay attention. The trick here is to encourage your eyes to do a Z-shaped movement across a person's face, encompassing both eyes, their nose and the two corners of their mouth. Look for a distinctive feature, and pay attention to that- it will be a landmark by which you'll come to recognise the person the next time round.
7. Use visual associations:
Recognising someone's name or face is most of the job of remembering who they are, but of course you have to link the two in your mind. If Francesca has an amusing nose, say to yourself 'Francesca, the girl with the amusing nose'.
8. Learn more about the person:
When you first meet a person, you know nothing about them, so it can be difficult to find enough ideas to connect with their name and face to make those associations stick. So learn more about the person. By learning these extra details, the person will begin to occupy more space in your mind.
9. Test yourself:
Once you have learned a name, the best way to strengthen that memory is to make sure you actively recall it by reviewing and remembering it. So think back to the person you were introduced to ten minutes ago, and actively recall their name.
So, the next time you are beating yourself up for forgetting a name, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. Learning and using people’s names correctly is a skill you can master. Just like any other skill, it takes some time, some patience and a little effort. The results you get in deeper relationships with clients, colleagues and employees will be worth it.
Pjay is passionate about entrepreneurship and helping businesses grow. He is the recent winner of MR. Nepal Oceania and loves writing articles about Business Development, Marketing, and Productivity Hacks.