We’ve all been in a networking situation where we’ve forgotten the name of the person we just met. The contact ends, the potential connection is lost and with it, any hope of a business or social relationship. How you deal with people’s names in a social situation can have a profound impact on their impression of you. So what can you do to improve your ability to remember people’s names? Philip Guo offers the following tips on his blog, Life Hacker.
– Remember the person’s name the first time he or she tells you. As soon as you hear the person’s name, start repeating it in your head loudly a few times. You might even ask the correct spelling or pronunciation so that the name is repeated a few times. After introducing yourself, let the other person talk. Try to associate everything the person says with their name, and try to think creatively on ways to clearly associate the name with the person’s face. At the end of your conversation, be sure to mention the person’s name.
– Make extra efforts to learn foreign-sounding or unconventional names. Most people with unusual names will be used to repeating or clarifying unusual names, and may appreciate your extra effort to understand the pronunciation.
– Don’t use nicknames unless the person first sanctions it. Always address someone with the exact name used during the introduction. Shortening or changing the person’s name can appear insulting or condescending.
– Bring the person’s name into the conversation occasionally. Using a person’s name during the conversation can help you develop better rapport with them, if not over-used. At the very least, you can say hello and goodbye while addressing the person by name.
– Don’t call someone by the wrong name. Getting a person’s name wrong can seem like the ultimate insult. If you’re not certain of the name, it’s probably better not to address them by it. Try to find a covert way to re-learn the name through a friend, or even honestly ask the person to re-introduce him or herself to you. Don’t give up if you don’t succeed in learning the person’s name on your first attempt.
– Try to learn the names of important people surrounding your conversation partner. You can build a stronger rapport with someone if you can ask details about the person’s spouse, children, boss or parents. For example, asking about “Deborah’s art project,” rather than “your wife’s art project” shows you’ve taken a deeper interest. However, learning your conversation partner’s name remains your top priority – don’t try to learn affiliated names at the expense of losing the name of the person you are speaking with.
– Don’t misspell someone’s name in writing. If you find yourself in written correspondence with someone you’ve met, take great care to correctly spell the person’s name – even if you must cut and paste it from a previous e-mail or consult their business card. Most people reflectively cringe when they see their name misspelled and find the error hard to forgive.
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