Are you good at remembering names? The answer is probably a big fat NO! Don't fear because most of us are terrible at this. It's like solving a Rubik's cube. Who's good at that? Nobody except this guy.
Someone once told me, only 10% to 15% of people are good at remembering names, and I'm surprised it's that high. It's sad that we remember lyrics to a Justin Bieber song five years later, but we can't remember someone's name right after they say it.
Here are five strategies.
1. Stop saying I am terrible at remembering names. Who says this? Everyone. Why shouldn't you say this? Because it gives you permission to be lazy and not even try. Instead, say I am great at remembering names because you will try! This is the greatest secret to remembering names. TRYING! I guarantee that if you met someone important such as the COO or CFO of your company, you would remember their name because remembering names is not a skill issue; it's an effort issue. Stop saying "I am terrible at remembering names," and start saying "I am great at remembering names."
2. Decide to make an effort. Have you ever met someone, and five seconds later, you say, "Sorry, but what was your name again?" I've done this, and afterward, I feel like a jerk.
We don't remember names because we aren't paying attention or worse we don't care. Fortunately, we care about more important things like what happened on the bachelor last night (Sarcasm alert). The key is making a decision to make an effort. Magical things happen when we decide. Personally, two things motivate me to choose to be good at this. First, remembering names is a superpower. What do we think when someone remembers our name? WOW! They a bionic brain! How did they do that? Remembering names is an easy way to impress people, and they start assuming positive things about you, such as you are intelligent, thoughtful, etc. Secondly, remembering someone's name is a sign of respect. Dale Carnegie once said, "Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language."
3. Focus on their name when they say it. In typical introductions, we say, hi, I'm Steve, and right when they respond to say their name, we are focused on what we are going to say. We are focused on me, me, me right when they are telling us their name, possibly because we are worried about saying something stupid. It's silly because it's not like we will say hi, I'm Steve, and I love Rubik's cubes, how about you? Instead, please state your name, and then focus and listen to their name. I promise you will say something reasonable.
4. Use memorization techniques. This is the most common advice I've read, and it can be helpful.
a. Rhyme their name. For example, Steve / Sleeve or Mary / Prairie.
b. Repeat their name in your head, 10x quickly. Steve, Steve, Steve...
c. Picture someone else with the same name. For example, if I were to meet someone named Justin, I would think of...the Biebs! Yes, we are on a partial last name basis, except he doesn't know it.
5. Repeat their name out loud 2-3x within the first minute of meeting them. For example, hi Steve, nice to meet you. Steve, tell me a little about where you are from. Please don't say their name 6-7x because this will creep the other person out. Don't be a WEIRDO!
Bonus tip on less familiar names. When it comes to less familiar names, it takes two to tango.
For the person with the less familiar name, state your name loudly and clearly, and consider connecting it to something. For example, I am Vikram, like the name Vick combined with the drink people love, rum, Vikram. This principle applies where your name might not be as usual.
For those hearing the less-used name, please make an effort to pronounce it correctly. If they say their name and you cannot say it clearly and confidently, then ask the following. I want to make sure I pronounce your name correctly. How do you say it one more time?
Showing effort will go a long way. Both of you should make an effort because names are important.
I encourage you to make it a goal to remember 2-3 names over the next week and use 1-2 techniques. The most critical points, don't say you are terrible at remembering names and make a decision to try. I'm Steve; you better remember that name!