say my name, say my name

I saw this float down my screen today, and it struck a nerve, because I have the same problem:

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At least 12 times yesterday someone asked me, “Do you know [name]?” or, “I was talking to [name] earlier, you know them right?” I had to shrug my shoulders and timidly reply, “I think so?” or, “They sound really familiar…?”. Only to discover five minutes later–once we got into the story a little further–that I *totally* know that person.”

I’m not OK with this.

The why is most easily summed up in Dale Carnegie’s words:

“Remember that a person’s name is to them the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

The sound! It really does go that deep. As in, chemicals are released into your body when you hear your name. (I have a whole deeper level of thoughts about this. If you are interested, please ask.)

The how is a little more difficult. Even though there are about 170,000,000 results for “how to remember names”, the tricks haven’t helped much so far. But, @chrisbrogan is going to kick my ass if I make any excuses. So, it’s time to own this weakness.

Here is where I could use your help: I am not interested in a tip, or a list of tips. (I could read google results for 37.4 days to get those). But, if you could tell me a story about your own mini or major breakthrough with names, I truly believe that will help etch the skill into my mind. (Another one of those ‘whole deeper level of thoughts’ thing you can ask me about, if you want.)

When did you have a remembering-names-breakthrough?

  • My name actually makes me a little uncomfortable… mostly because I have a hard time remembering names and I feel guilty when someone remembers mine 😀

    When I have done well (which isn't often, think like 4 individual weeks sprinkled throughout my life, so take this with a grain of salt) it has been because I have intentionally said people's names in conversation. Even if I'm not certain what their name is. I just said what I think it is, and if I had no idea, I asked.

  • Watching Dr. Who.

    The character of The Doctor has been written to ask characters for their names and then immediately follow up with a complement using their name.

    Doctor: What's your name?
    Stanley: I'm Stanley.
    Doctor: You're brilliant Stanley. Absolutely fantastic.
    Stanley: I will not throw my body in front of invading monsters to defend you and further your cause because you said that.

    I realized this is a very powerful way to immediately build rapport because people already like themselves and think their suggestions are valuable. When I use it it also helps me because I build a connection between the individual and their actions. I'm still not great, but I'm getting better at remembering people I imagine to have made a difference.

  • This isn't a story, so my apologies about that. This is just what I do because I'm bad with names as well, but like you say, they are powerful.

    So to emphasize how bad I am about this, what I do without thinking about it, is I'll hear someone's name, and literally moments later want to use their name, and I can't for the life of me remember. I realized I was just not focusing on retaining that information. So now, I focus on retaining that information. When they say their name, I think, “ooooh, their name, remember that.” And then I'll say it in my mind now and then while we talk. I try to use it out loud before they depart. And I always practice on my food servers, this keeps me in practice, and gets me better service. win/win!

  • This isn’t a story, so my apologies about that. This is just what I do because I’m bad with names as well, but like you say, they are powerful.

    So to emphasize how bad I am about this, what I do without thinking about it, is I’ll hear someone’s name, and literally moments later want to use their name, and I can’t for the life of me remember. I realized I was just not focusing on retaining that information. So now, I focus on retaining that information. When they say their name, I think, “ooooh, their name, remember that.” And then I’ll say it in my mind now and then while we talk. I try to use it out loud before they depart. And I always practice on my food servers, this keeps me in practice, and gets me better service. win/win!