Saturday, February 13, 2016

"The Key To Remembering People's Names"

People love to hear the sound of their own name, so remembering someone's name to allow you to address them by it as you are talking with them - in person or over the telephone - is quite important.

So often we hear a person's name as they introduce themselves to us, but we are so interested in jumping into the conversation that we really don't pay attention to what they are saying. As a result, we don't remember their name and we can't use it subsequently in the conversation - without asking them again for their name.

This is quite awkward because they know, and we know, that they already told us their name. It reveals that we weren't paying attention or that we were more interested in what we were going to say next than in actually listening for and remembering their name when they gave it to us.


So, what's the trick for remembering someone's name when you hear it so that you can include them in the conversation and show that you value them as a person? Is it word association or some other special technique?

Actually, it's quite simple. Some people like to form a mental image of what someone's name sounds like so they can think of that image again and then remember a person's name as a result of the image or name association. While this can be an effective way of remembering people's names, it's also a lot of work that requires practice.

In addition, while you're thinking of what someone's name sounds like when you hear it from them, or trying to picture their name with some physical characteristic of theirs that will help you remember their name later, you necessarily have to focus on that for a moment instead of paying attention to hearing them talk. I find that this is a distraction.

There is an easier - totally effective way to remember someone's name when you meet them that everyone can use.

To remember someone's name when you meet them in person or over the phone, say it aloud in front of them to make sure you heard it correctly and that you are close on the pronunciation (they'll help you tweak the actual way to say their name if you're off a little). Then write it down.

Keep a writing pad or customer information card or survey sheet handy to write down their name as you hear it. The back of your business card is also a good place to write this information. They might have a card to give you, but don't rely on this occurring that much.

Write their name down, spell it correctly (by asking them how to spell it), and pronounce it correctly (and even mark a few pronunciation keys for yourself on your card as necessary to help you get it right the next time you say it).

Now when you forget their name in a few minutes (and we all do this), you can glance at your notes and eliminate the need for requesting their name again - very unprofessional to do this.


There is no mental trick for remembering names. Just writing someone's name down when you learn it. That's how it's done. Plus, you'll force yourself to listen harder and more intently for their name the first time.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.