“People love to hear their names.” My dad, who is famous for remembering names, mentioned this the other day. It reminded me of the importance of remembering people’s names. When you are in any kind of people business – including the church – remembering names is critical.
Our names carry weight and meaning. They embody all that we have learned, experienced and accomplished. There are stories and meanings attached to our names. And when someone calls us by name it’s a symbol of being known.
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It’s so important to remember names, that we need to work on the art of it. Here are some thoughts and tips:
1) Stop staying, “I am horrible with names.” This attitude just negatively reinforces that you can’t. Rule number one – start trying to remember names. That’s half the battle.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask someone three or four or ten times. Sometimes, we might feel that we should know someone’s name. But, if you don’t, you don’t. It’s better to ask until it sticks, rather than just awkwardly not say their name. If it’s a situation that is embarrassing to ask, find out another way, but keep after it until you have it.
3) Don’t think about your own name when you are introducing yourself. It may seem obvious, but you won’t forget your name – so don’t spend to much time on it when you are in your initial conversation with someone. Find out about THEIR name. If it’s unusual, ask how they spell it. Ask them how they got their name. Ask them if people ever mispronounce it. People love to talk about their names and when we are first meeting someone – it’s always the first thing we share.
4) Look them in the eye, listen carefully and commit their name to your memory. Some people have suggested that you attach a particular trait or characteristic to someone to remember their name. I find this is actually distracting to some degree – I would rather just look them in the eye and commit their name to memory. However, there are times when little tricks are helpful. For example, you have a family that has three daughters and they are all close in age. It may be hard to keep the girls’ names straight, but maybe you can find out if their names are alphabetical by age, or the length of the name corresponds to the order of birth.
5) Use or create nick-names – they are powerful and personal tools. Once you give someone a nickname, you will always remember their real name. And the nickname will be a connecting bond between you. This only works if the nickname is uplifting and positive. There have been at least three people that I have given nicknames to as kids and when they got their first car, they put that nickname on their license plate! It also works with adults too, but you have to be a little more cautious.
6) Don’t be afraid to develop your name remembering skills. It’s an art. Do what you have to do to remember it. Write down names when you are talking on the phone. Keep a small pad of paper or make notes on your phone. Look back over your list. Ask questions. Call them by name as often as you can and whenever you meet them.