The Practice of Remembering Names

“Hi, I’m Dan the Man, the Italian Stallion.” This is an introduction I recently encountered during a training session kick-off at work. “Dan the Man” visited our office to help employees develop their business influencing skills. It’s a rare opportunity to have a trainer come into the office as most learning sessions provided today are offered online and not in the flesh. Before the training started, Dan came around the room, that include approximately 30 people, introduced himself and asked each one of us our names. As soon as we started the training and began asking and answering questions, It was apparent that Dan knew all of our names when he called on us for responses. I was awed by this, how was it possible that he could remember 30 names when I couldn’t even remember the names of the three people sitting closest to me? During a mid-day break, I took advantage of the chance to ask Dan about his special super-power and his response may forever change my name remembering hand-cap for the rest of my days. The pearls of wisdom shared with me follow:

1) Capture The Name: This may seem obvious but this is where many people fall short. When you first meet a person or a group of people you may have a lot of things on your mind, how do I look, is there food in my teeth, what should I say. While you’re busy taking inventory, you may miss the name so always be sure to pay attention and hear it. If you don’t hear it on the first shot ask them to repeat it right away so things don’t become awkward. If it’s an unusual name you can say something like, “that’s a lovely name, how do you spell that?”

2) Say The Name: Say the name out loud as soon as possible (e.g. nice to meet you Jane). The reason is you use different parts of your brain to listen and speak, so you will be capturing the name in different ways.

3) Associate the Name: Once you meet a person, associate their name by linking them to something or someone familiar (e.g. Donna smells like cookies, Lisa reminds me of my next door neighbor).

4) Practice Makes Perfect: Learning names is a skill that is practiced. Dan started practicing when he went to weddings. He would go around the room table by table, introduce himself and see how many names he could remember. By the end of the wedding he would have learned about 80%. Of course everyone shouldn’t start working the wedding scene but rather start out slow using this method with one or two people.

I recently tried the method at a meeting and was pleased to find that it works. I was able to remember 5 out 8 names thanks to “Dan the Man,” a name I will never forget.


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