Things seemed to be going so well. Your grommets fit their grapples. Their budget was bigger than your expectations. All that was left was to sign the contract. That is, until you asked, “So, Carl, do we have a deal?” and the room fell silent. “Actually, the name’s Ken and I’ll have to get back to you on that …”
An exaggeration? Perhaps. But why risk the faux pas (and potential coup de grace) of forgetting someone’s name when there are easy ways to improve your memory?
Memory expert Bob Gray, author of Right Brain Rapid Recall and president of Whitby, Ont.-based consulting firm Memory Edge Corp., says memory is “absolutely trainable,” and that anyone can remember names with ease. Here are his six top tips:
- You can’t remember what you don’t know. “The first thing you’ve got to do is hear the name,” says Gray. “It sounds obvious but when we’re introduced to people we’re often so preoccupied that we don’t actually hear their name.” Be sure to give your undivided attention to listening to the name.
- S-P-E-L-L it out. After you’ve heard the moniker, spell it out in your head. Accuracy is not important. The idea is to ingrain the name on your brain.
- Ask and ye shall receive. If you hear an unusual or interesting name, inquire about its origins. Any additional information will help make a name more unforgettable.
- Repetition is key. Repeat the person’s name once or twice in the course of your conversation. “But don’t go crazy,” advises Gray. Use it one last time when you part company.
- Associate, partner. A more advanced technique is to associate a variation of a person’s name with something visually striking about them. “Take the person’s name and change it slightly to something that sounds like it but conjures up an image,” suggests Gray. Thus “Ken” becomes “can.” If Ken is wearing a gaudy tie, mentally replace the tie with a can of beans hanging around his neck. At the end of your meeting if you can’t remember Ken’s name, just look at his tie and you’ll think of a can of beans. “The more silly and ridiculous it is,” says Gray, “the more memorable.”
- Use it or lose it. For long-term memory retention, Gray recommends a very specific review schedule. Repeat the name to yourself about an hour after you learn it, then again one day, one week and one month later. With a little practice, you’ll never forget Ken with the can of beans around his neck. Or lose another grapple-grommet contract.
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© 2003 Allan Britnell