The Importance of Names

A person’s character may be defined by many things throughout life.  Over time, the traits that describe that person may change.  But one thing that does not change is their name.  For many people, their name is one of their most valued possessions.  They carry their names with them throughout their entire lives, from birth until death.  Many people know the pain of forgetting names, as we have all dropped names before.  Everyone knows how troubling it can be to forget a name and how easy it really is to happen.  Therefore, when somebody drops their name, the person doesn’t usually care that much because they understand how commonplace it is.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In this post I want to talk about how to easily remember names.  Remembering a person’s name shows that you care enough to pay attention to them.  It also gives that person a feeling of importance and helps to build a friendship between the two of you.  Name remembrance is also important in improving team communication during work and play.  If you try out these techniques I talk about you’ll be impressed with what you can do.

Techniques – How to remember names.

You find yourself at a party with many new people and loud music playing in the background.  You’ve met a few new people after some long conversations throughout the night.  When it comes time to leave the party and say goodbye, it seems you have dropped many of their names.  You would think this is an embarrassing moment, but it’s also very commonplace.  You may think that you “forgot” the name, but I want to tell you that you didn’t forget it because you never actually learned it!

All too often we find information going in one ear and out the other.  Our goal is to prevent this from happening when we hear a name.  The first step to remembering names is to pay attention.  Lack of attention is a big reason why people forget so many things.  You must listen to them when they say their name and you also must pay attention to who you are physically talking to.  Once you can do that, remembering names will become much easier with a little bit of practice.

The next time someone tells you their name, I want you to really focus on that name and make sure you heard it correctly.  Once you have their name try to visualize it in some abstract exaggerated way.  Our memories aren’t built to easily remember auditory information.  Incorporating more of your senses into this learning will make it much easier to learn the names.  For example, upon hearing the name Steve, you could imagine a giant stove with a coal black frame.  The “coal black frame” is an important detail that helps to make the picture more memorable.  The picture you imagine doesn’t have to be a direct translation, it just needs to remind you of the name you just learned.

The Next Step

The beauty of these steps is that they force you to pay attention to the other person.  Visualizing the name as some vivid picture helps you focus on the other person and learn their name.  Now you want to focus on the person themselves to tie the name and face together.  It will take you some experimentation to figure out what works for you.  The first thing I do is focus on their face and try to decide on their most prominent feature.  After doing that, I imagine them in some vivid and ridiculous scenario that involves the person and the picture I created for their name.  This part is important in that it will help your memory to tie the name and face together.

With some practice, you can easily link any name and face together.  As an example, we can continue with our friend Steve.  Let’s say that Steve’s prominent features are his big bushy eyebrows.  At this point you have a choice of imagining his prominent feature in your visualization, or Steve himself.  I can do an example for both cases.  In the first case, you could imagine Steve standing in middle of a rocky field, and one giant stove falls from the sky and smashes him.  In the second case, you could just look at Steve, and imagine hundreds of stoves coming out of his big bushy eye brows.

The Benefits of Remembering

The ability to quickly learn names will have a profound effect on your personal and professional life.  Entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie knew this well.  Carnegie made an effort to learn the names of almost all his employees.  This ability earned him a tremendous amount of respect and helped to build one of the most successful legacies of the century.  He knew that learning his employee’s names would show how much he cared for his workers.

Imagine being able to easily make more friends, communicate more effectively, and have more vivid memories of your experiences.  I hope that you guys try these techniques out and take some of these words with you.  I will be posting more snippets and tricks such as this to help with learning and memory in the future.