March 30, 2014 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Top Four Tips to Remember Names

introduction2I admire people who can always remember a name, but I’m not one of them. I’ve never been creative enough to use the trick of associating a name with something about the person (like, David Bayer has thinning hair … at my age, everyone’s hair is thinning so that would just confuse me more). The ability to remember names is a valuable business skill so I have picked up some tips I can use. Here are four ways to help remember important names career development.

Focus on the person, not yourself. This is in the #1 spot because it truly is the #1 tip. If I’m too focused on how I’m presenting myself or on what brilliant thing I want to say next, it totally blows any chance at name recall. The truth is, most of the time we can’t remember a person’s name because we were thinking about something else when we were introduced to that person.

Verify the name. Names have many variations. William may prefer to be called “Will” but the conference planner’s assistant typed “William” on his badge. Here’s your chance to verify the name, “Hello, William … oh, do you prefer William or … ?” “I prefer Will.” “Okay, Will, are you enjoying the conference?” Verifying the name will allow you to repeat it several times without being obvious that you’re using a memory trick.

Hear the name, speak the name, listen to yourself say the name. Studies show that if you don’t repeat those actions within the first 10 seconds, you”ll forget the person’s name. “Hello, David, nice to meet you.” “So, David, what are you working on at the Mill?” “Traveling anywhere this summer, David?” If repeating the name makes it too obvious that you are using the repetition method, look at the person and say the name silently to yourself several times when the person takes a drink, turns to say something to someone else, or some other appropriate moment that doesn’t steal your focus from what the other person is saying. Or, do what Franklin Roosevelt did and picture it written across the person’s forehead.

Ask how to spell a difficult name. Just like studying for the spelling bee — focusing on the spelling of the name will help you with recall. Another way to keep it in your mind is to imagine writing it letter by letter.

These tips will help you recall a name, but it they fail, there is nothing wrong with honesty, “I remember you well, but your name just slipped my mind!”

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