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Lesson Twelve — You Remembered My Name!

There are many great books on how to remember names, however, it is not as easy as those books make it sound.I will give you everything you need to know right here in this chapter.

Most of us say that we cannot remember names.This simply is not true.What we really mean is that we are not really interested enough in other people to go to the trouble of trying to remember their name.Just think of how many times you were introduced to someone and fifteen seconds later, often during the same conversation, you cannot remember the person’s name.This is not a memory problem.This is an attention problem.You may have a bad memory, but surely you can remember things for fifteen or twenty seconds.On the other hand, you can probably name the prettiest girl in your school, or the worst dressed kid or the best athlete or the dumbest kid in your school even though you may never have been introduced to them.Does that mean you have a good memory?Obviously, not.

Kids always seem to have fun with names.Kids use to call me “woodhead” instead of “Woodend”.The name Maloney becomes “macaroni.”Anna becomes “banana.”Jim gets called “slim.”Tom gets called “tomcat,” or “tom-bo” and so forth.Believe it or not, this is the basic foundation of learning and remembering names.

Memory experts use tricks to remember names.The most common trick for trying to remember someone’s name is to form a mental link between their physical appearance and their name.As we discussed in an earlier chapter, this is called an “association,” because you associate one thing with another.For example, an easy one would be remembering that the name of a girl with curly, red hair was Anne, like the star in the Broadway musical, Annie.Or, that the short, fat guy’s last name is Mullen, like a melon.These are easy ones.One that I use all the time relates to two brothers, Mike and Brian.They are very close in age and look a lot alike.

Dean Bros

I could never remember which one was which until I realized that Brian had a very high forehead, like a receding hairline, so that I could see more of his brain, so to speak.(Brian = Brain)Since then I have not confused them.

The way this works is you must associate the person’s name with something else that you are more likely to remember.As we discussed in an earlier chapter, the sillier the better.It also is a huge help if you can also associate a distinguishing feature about the person with the person’s name.For example, suppose you meet a gentleman with a rather prominent nose whose last name is Salemi.Since his nose looks a lot a salami it would not take much to associate that with his last name.It may be a little mean, but he doesn’t have to know about it.Another guy might have ears a little bit too big whose last name is Bailey.Since his ears are closer to the size of an elephant’s than to a human being’s and the Barnum Bailey Circus is famous for its elephants, it would only be natural to associate the size of his ears with his last name.Again, it might be mean, but it will help you remember his name.Again, these are easy examples.

The experts say that there isn’t anyone that you cannot remember in this way.Simply look for an outstanding feature about the person and form some sort of mental association between their physical appearance and their name.The general consensus is that you should pick out the feature that sticks in your mind first, then try to match it up with the name somehow.Like brain and Brian.

The system works equally well for last names.If someone’s last name is Goldstein, try to picture the person holding a gold mug or stein.Better yet, standing in a gold mug.Or if the last name is Robinson, try to imagine a robin basking in the sun.For Jaworski, a giant shark on skis.

You can use their nose, ears, hair, hair color, eyebrows, eyes, dimples, lips, nostrils, chin, cheeks, warts, scars, blemishes, shape, height, weight, anything!If there are two outstanding features, try to use them both.If the outstanding feature is a common one, for example dark hair, you will probably also need to use the context in which you met.For example, school, sports, family, beach, pool, vacation, church, etc. Perhaps it would be better to use something noteworthy about the person’s hobby or occupation.For example, surfer, skier, teacher, coach, doctor, truck driver, axe murderer.

Do not be alarmed if the link between the feature and the name do not come to you immediately.They rarely do.The idea is that when you see the person again, the same feature or features will pop out at you and you will complete the link by remembering his or her name.This system is an excellent one and it really does work.Unfortunately, however, sometimes you just cannot come up with that link.But that’s okay.Selecting an outstanding feature about the person forces you to take a closer look at the person as a unique individual.How often are we introduced to someone and we never really get a good look at him or her.The process of coming up with an association has forced you to take a careful look at the person and concentrate on their name.Nine times out of ten, that is all it takes to remember them.

Suppose you meet this girl with the most amazing blue eyes, which is your first impression.If her name was Jay, you could remember her through linking her eyes to a Blue Jay.Unfortunately, her name is Kathy.So, you spend a few minutes trying to figure out how you can link up Kathy with the blue eyes.You just can’t do it!Then, go for the tattoo of the Scorpion in the small of her back.Keep thinking, Kathy, Scorpion, Kathy, Scorpion, Kathy, blue eyes.Not working.She has a big butt, too.Big butt, Kathy, Scorpion, big butt, blue eyes, Kathy.It’s just not happening.I cannot think of one either.However, what has happened is that by trying to create the association, you had to really think about this girl and her name being Kathy.So much so, that you will most likely remember her name.So, in the end, you will have actually tricked yourself into remembering her name.For me, that is the real value of this system.

Tramp stamp

Another popular method to remember a person’s name, and much less complicated, is to listen to the person’s name and repeat it back to them.Instead of being introduced and simply saying “yea, yea, nice to meet you”, you should say, “Nice to meet you, Jason Phillips”.It is fairly common to miss the name when someone is first introduced to you.Sometimes, that is because the person is shy, or you were not listening closely enough, or they mumble, or their name is a difficult one to pronounce.If that is the case, I recommend asking them a question about their name.For example, “Harrison, is that with one or two r’s?”Or, “Bagdoniccio, did I pronounce that correctly?””How is that spelled?”Or, “I’m sorry, I did not catch that.What was that name again?”

You might think, at first, that asking someone to repeat his or her name is rude.At one time, I would have thought so.But not anymore.Now, I know better.

You cannot separate a person from their name.Whether a person likes their name or not, if you remember their name, you make them feel like they are important to you.And, if you make them feel important, they are going to like you, instantly, every time.You certainly don’t need me or anyone else to tell you it is far better to have friends than enemies.It is simple.It’s easy.And, it costs you nothing.

When I was in eighth grade, I moved to a new town and did not know anyone.On the first day of school, the teacher introduced me to the class.My guess is that not many people paid any attention to my name or me.The next day, while standing in the cafeteria line, one of my classmates standing next to me stuck out his hand and said, “My name is Jim Murray.What was your name again?”Now, what do you think about that?This established thirteen-year-old kid admitting to the new thirteen-year-old kid that he did not remember his name.Was the established kid embarrassed?Was the new kid embarrassed?Or, was the new kid flattered?That happened thirty-two years ago and Jim Murray was the established kid.I was the new kid, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.Jim may have been embarrassed, but I certainly wasn’t.I was flattered.Jim did exactly the right thing.He made me feel important because he was the only person in the entire school that cared enough to risk embarrassment by admitting that he did not remember my name.For an instant, I went from feeling like an intruder into my new environment to feeling I was important.Thank you Jim!

If you really, really want to make someone feel important, ask him or her more about their name.”How do you pronounce that?That is an interesting name.Is that an Italian name?What does it mean?”Sometimes, when someone has an unusual first name, like Lemonjello, I’ll say something like, “Is that a family name?”It is also an excellent way to start up a conversation.It is far better than asking about the weather or their zodiac sign.Not only do you make the person feel that they are important enough to take the trouble to learn more about their name, but you help solidify their name in your mind.As an added bonus, they will probably be left with the distinct impression that you are a really nice, caring person.

All in all, that is not bad for a thirty-second investment.

P.S.This works great on people you already know, and would like to know better.Can you imagine how awesome it would be if someone you grew up with said to you, out of the blue, “You want to know something, I’ve always wondered about your name.What does it mean?”If you really want to make an impression, a positive impression that is, look up their name in some name book or on-line, and tell them you were checking out the origin of your own name, and thought you’d check out their name while you were at it and found out that it means, “horse thief” in Croation.Well, that’s just an example, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, the point of all of this gibberish is that names mean a lot to people, and can be used to your advantage as a very powerful and simple tool to build strong bonds with other people, even people that might otherwise be strangers.