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Lesson Eleven — Remembering Names

How many times have you heard someone say, “I can never remember names?”That is so true.Most people cannot seem to remember other people’s names.The great thing is that this creates tremendous opportunities for those of us that do remember other people’s names.Those of us that remember names do better because we seem friendlier, smarter and more interested in other people’s lives, none of which is necessarily true.All it really means is that those of us that remember names want to remember names, and are willing to make just a little effort to do so.The others that cannot seem to remember names are not willing to make that tiny extra effort.You’ll see what I mean.

All of us have been in situations where we have run into people that we sort of know, and know that we should remember the person’s name, but have no earthly idea what their name is.How do you typically handle a situation like that?Do you go up and say, “Excuse me, I realize that we have met before and that I should know your name, but you are not really important enough to me to connect the few extra brain cells it would take for me to remember your name.Would you mind telling me your name again, and next time would you mind wearing a name tag for me?”Obviously, this is not how we usually handle the situation.Instead, we try to avoid the person as long as possible, preferring to appear like an unfriendly, stuck-up snob rather than the dope that we really are because we could not remember the person’s name.Then, to make matters worse, the person walks up to you and your friend or family member and says, “Great to see you again, Gary, how have you been?Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend here?”Well, now you are really stuck.So, being the quick thinker that you are, you say, “I could, and I know both of your names very well, but would rather not introduce you to each other.I’d rather have some fun and let the two of you try to guess each other’s names.Who wants to go first?”

The really sad thing about this whole situation is that when you encounter this person again, you probably won’t remember his or her name then either, and you will have to do it all over again.Wouldn’t it be much simpler to just remember their name in the first place?

Remembering names is not a trait that we are born with.It is a skill that can be easily learned.There are just a few steps involved.The more steps you go through with each person, the better off you will be, however, even if you only take the first step you will be way ahead of everyone else.

The biggest problem with remembering people’s names is that we never really hear their name in the first place.It is humanly impossible to remember the name of a person that you have never heard.I don’t mean that when the person’s name is spoken your little eardrums didn’t vibrate and send signals to the little tiny bones in your ear. I mean that when you first heard their name spoken, it did not register in your brain.

It is not easy to pay attention when you are being introduced to someone for the first time. You see the person. You size them up. Your mind is processing all kinds of information in a split second. “This guy is pretty short. Looks a bit like a rooster. I have a tie just like that. Weak handshake. Kind of cold, like a dead fish. Do I have something stuck in my teeth?” All this is racing through your head at the very moment you are being given his name. No wonder we can’t ever remember people’s names!

Mr. Rooster

Try it.The next time you are introduced to someone silently count to ten and see if you can remember their name.Most likely, you never heard it and won’t remember it.This happens constantly, and is the primary reason that people cannot remember other people’s names.The funny little statement that I made earlier about the person not being important enough was meant to be a joke, but it is true.We do not remember people’s names because their name simply was not important to us at the time we heard it, or they were not important to us at the time they were introduced.This is basic stuff.

How do we avoid this very simple and basic problem? The best way is to make certain that we really hear the person’s name. When you are introduced to someone, it is perfectly acceptable and flattering, for you to say to the person, “I’m sorry, what was that again.” This makes the person feel important. Then you say, “nice to meet you Pee Wee.” (Actually, that is not a good example because you would probably remember the name “Pee Wee” the first time you heard it.) Then, you could say, “How do you spell that?” Or, “How do you pronounce that?” or, “Is that a family name?” Or, ” Is that a Bulgarian name?” These are all little gimmicks to help you register the person’s name in your mind. By doing this, you will not only have a better chance of remembering the name, but you will make the person feel that you are interested in them, and that will make them feel important.

You will find that this simple first step will improve your ability to remember names dramatically.To become a real expert, there are a few more tricks of the trade that you can easily learn.Some people are so good at this that they can be introduced to 100 people in a row, within a span of half an hour or so, and remember each and every person’s name without missing.

This is an incredible task, but it is simply a memory stunt.A stunt that you could do yourself if you wanted to spend the time and effort to get good at it.I am not suggesting that you go to this extreme, but by learning this next trick and using it in your everyday life, you will have little trouble remembering names and look like a genius.A genius that is well liked and seems to be genuinely interested in other people.