The Trick to Remembering Names

Did you know it’s possible to lose a fight even before you step into the ring? If a fighter spends all his energy thinking about what can’t be done, his chances of winning are next to none.

I know you’re not reading this blog for fight advice, but this thought process ties directly into communication. You have to be aware of what you’re telling yourself before you communicate with others.

One of the most common examples of self-defeating talk is when you’re meeting someone new. What’s the first step to having the introduction? Getting the person’s name. Trying to remember someone’s name really stresses people out.

The dialogue that runs through their head sounds like this:

  • How the hell am I going to remember this name?
  • How awkward is it going to be to have to ask for the name again?
  • Why am I so bad with names?

And the list goes on and on…

Is that what your inner dialogue sounds like? If so, you need to cut that out. Not only is that unhelpful, it makes your memory worse. The extra stress these thoughts bring can make you even more forgetful.

So what to do instead? Say the person’s name. A lot.

Whenever I meet someone new, I try to use their name as much as I can in the first five minutes:

“Hey [name], did I get that right, [name]? Really good to see you, [name]. What made you want to come to this event, [name]?”

That’s a bit excessive, right? Of course, I don’t always say the name out loud. It’s probably closer to a 3:1 external to internal mention. But if you really want to get a person’s name down, you have to spend a little bit of time fixated on it.

How can a champion win the gold if he can’t see the gold? Likewise, how can you expect yourself to remember the name when all you’re doing is thinking about how you’re going to forget it?

This is the easiest way to commit a name to memory. All that other stuff about mnemonics and word associations? That’s a lot of work!

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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