“Hi, my name is . . .” Do you find it hard to remember anything past that? In any social or business situation, it is very important to be able to recall people’s names. Many people say they have more trouble remembering names than any other type of information.
Why do we forget someone’s name? For many people, it is as simple as telling ourselves we can’t remember names well. Once we believe it, it becomes harder to get past this “mental block.” For others, it is not a pertinent enough fact to store away in the long-term memory. For example, many of us would not consider it very pressing to make an effort to remember the name of the store clerk we just encountered, or the telemarketer who just phoned us. We can’t remember everything we encounter. We often have to pick and choose which information to store–and people’s names often get left behind.
So what do you do when it truly is important? There are several ways to improve your chances of remembering someone’s name. First, tell yourself that you can remember names if you try. Starting off with a positive attitude will go a long way towards helping you to remember.
Second, pay attention. When you are introduced to someone, repeat his or her name and say it several times to yourself. Be sure that you have heard the name clearly. If not, ask for the name again. If, after a few minutes, you find that you have forgotten already, talk to the person and ask for his or her name again. Use the name often in conversation, not only with the person, but also with others.
Third, use techniques to help you remember. It never hurts to write down someone’s name. Asking for the spelling of a name helps to keep that name in your memory because you are picturing it in your mind. Ask for a business card if you are in a professional situation. If you can’t write down the name, try to associate it with something else in your mind. It can be a rhyming word, a physical characteristic, or a silly fact or word. For example, when you meet someone named Ted who has red hair, you can remember, “Ted the Red.” To remember the name of Trish, the owner of a housewares store, you might think of “Trish the Dish.” To remember the name Stan Salazar, try to pick him standing at a bazaar (“Stand Bazaar” leads to “Stan Bazaar” which leads to “Stan Salazar”). Meeting a funny guy named Bill might lead you to “Silly Billy.”
This technique might be hard at first. After all, it seems as if you have to remember even more information than just a name. However, these associative techniques, with practice, are the best way to remember anyone’s name.
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