‘I’m bad with names.’ is a tired phrase you hear regularly at social gatherings of all sorts. Every time I hear this phrase I think, and sometimes say, something along the lines of, ‘You just don’t care enough.’ If it’s discussed then I explain that if one simply tries to learn to remember names, it goes a long way. That is to say I believe that our brains remember what we care to remember. Furthermore, we are better at remembering that which we have cared to remember more over time, or we do well at retaining information for the types of things we have experience trying to remember.
The greatest example of this for me was when, as a recently single college sophomore who had spent his entire freshman year basically in social isolation, I quested to meet new people and build a new social framework (Read: meet girls). One of the first steps in making new friends is learning their name and remembering it. How many times have you yearned to say hello to someone you once met but were stifled by being unable to remember their name?
So I set off to learn to retain and recall names with consistency. This turned out to be a much simpler endeavor than I expected. Much of the work simply took care of itself once I was conscious of my desire to remember. The basic effort combined with the simple tip of repeating someone’s name after first contact, aloud or in your head, amplified my name recall skill. Oddly enough, remembering names is basically as simple as remembering to repeat their name when you first hear it! This repetition along with putting myself in position to meet a good number of new people enabled me to soon recall names with ease.
Just a couple of months of focusing on this skill paired with high exposure to new people and I was set. Intentionally practicing something does wonders! Or as I would say, caring enough to put the effort in.
It really didn’t take long before I noticed my name recall as superior to most of my peers. I could approach persons with which I had previously connected, address them by their name and pick up right where we left off. Even names of people I didn’t care to remember or see again would float into my mind and out my mouth. Which is useful in a different way. ‘Don’t invite Chad, because, well, I don’t like him!’ (Nobody likes Chad.) Or ‘Let’s not go over there. I see that annoying Chad guy!’ A personal favorite of mine when dealing with the unliked is when they don’t remember your name. They might say ‘Oh hey dude!’ and you get to smother your response with sarcasm ‘Oh hi, Brock!’ A power play and also a great way to subtly communicate ‘leave me alone’ without being too disrespectful. How can you be disrespectful when you remembered their name and they didn’t? Works every time.
There are many benefits to the skill of name recall. It is one of the premier tools of networking, and I shouldn’t have to explain to you the many uses and benefits of networking. Additionally, it makes people feel great when you remember their name. And when their face lights up you feel great too. To have your name remembered is to be appreciated (most of the time), and it strengthens and facilitates connections. It’s very useful with romantic pursuits. To this day I recall names with ease and the best part is that I am no longer focused and caring about it. It just happens naturally. I get complimented on it and it’s a skill I openly boast about. So enough with being bad with names. Just try for awhile, remember to repeat the names of those you meet, and you’ll be a social wizard in no time.