Have you ever met someone and not 10 seconds into the conversation your heart sinks as you realize:
I have no idea what their name is!
We all have fell victim to this situation. It wasn’t 10 seconds ago that this individual looked you in the eyes and said their name out loud, but you don't have the faintest idea of what that name was. I have to admit this happened to me all the time early in my career. I would meet someone new at a networking event, get 20 seconds into the conversation, then realize I had already forgotten their name. I eventually had enough and decided it was time to take control of my memory and start using it to my advantage.
If you are reading this, you are the kind of person that is hungry for anything they can do to improve themselves and grow their personal capacity. Great relationships are critical to a fulfilling business and personal life, and if you want to start developing great relationships, you need to be likable and connect with people. A crucial first step to getting off on the right foot in new relationships is to remember people's names. When someone I just met remembers my name, it makes me feel important to that person, and it makes me like that person and want to give that relationship a chance.
You will need great relationships to have a great career, start remembering people's names and start developing great relationships.
The Power in Repetition
How many things in our lives have we memorized something through repetition? A LOT. Think about it, after enough times, you remember how to get to work, how to throw a football, how to speak English. Once you do something enough, it becomes automatic and you don’t even have to think about it anymore. Repetition is one of the most common and powerful tools you can use to improve your memory and start using it to your advantage.
Now you may be thinking this is obvious, but while the concept and effect is obvious, we rarely purposefully use this to our advantage. Take remembering someone's name for example, if you are around someone long enough, you will eventually remember their name. My challenge to you is to use the power of repetition to accelerate your ability to memorize someone's name, and to do it within the 2 minutes of meeting someone. The more you can say the name of the person that you meet out loud and work it into conversation, the better off you will be. For example:
“Oh it’s a pleasure to meet you Sally”
“Sally, tell me more about what you do”
“Sally have you met my business partner Paul? Paul, meet my new friend Sally”
“Sally it was great getting to meet you, would you like to stay in touch?”
Give this method a try next time you meet someone new. The more times you can repeat someone's name in that first couple minutes, the easier it will be to recall their name down the road.
Leverage Through Associations
Using the power of associations in our memory is another great tool that you can use to start remembering people's names faster. Some of the greatest businesses were created by leveraging systems and products that were already built. The same goes for your memory. You can use the power of repetition to create a new association - a person with a name. Or, you can use association to connect an existing memory with the person's name. This method is faster and usually more powerful, but takes some practice. Use things that you have already memorized to help you memorize new things. Next time you meet someone new, try to associate their name (not yet memorized) with something you have already in your memory (memorized). For example, if I were to meet someone today by the name of Philip and we happened to be at the driving range of a golf course, I would immediately think of Phil Mickelson the professional golfer. And once I make that association, my likelihood of remembering that person's name down the road is significantly greater.
Intensity of the Experience
The power of an experience has a massive impact on our ability to remember things over the course of our life. Why is it that we can easily remember some events of our life, but not others? Why does my son remember all the details of his college graduation when even though I was there as well, I don't have anywhere near the depth of memory of the event as he? This is because the intensity of the experience is often different for each person.
If you think back on your life, chances are it will be easy for you to remember the highlights: your wedding, your college graduation, your first kiss.. These are events that were so powerful, so intense, the memory is so strong you may never forget it. While you can’t artificially create intense experiences to aid in your memory, it is important to understand and have awareness of the effect that the intensity of an experience has on your memory.
My Challenge to You
This post was meant to explore our memory and learn some tricks on how to control and improve it. I challenge you to make an effort to get better at remembering people’s names. Do not make the mistake of writing yourself off as “just not being good at names”. Names are tough, no one remembers names quickly without putting effort towards developing the skill. Take charge of this area of your life and watch, new relationships will start growing faster and deeper than they have before. This will lead to stronger and richer relationships that will serve both you and your career today and long down the road.