“Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie
A little while ago, I shared a post on Facebook that absolutely went viral. It was shared nearly 100 times and seen by more than 10,000 people!
Here’s the post…
“If you’re ever with me and someone comes up to me and starts talking and I don’t introduce you, it’s strictly because I don’t remember their name. So please feel free to be awesome and introduce yourself so I can then hear their name and pretend I knew it all along.”
So many people commented and tagged their friends.
“Yes! This is me!”
It was like I’d accidentally made some weird Public Service Announcement.
The truth is, most of us are rubbish at remembering people’s names. In business, it could cost you more than just a bit of embarrassment. It could cost you a sale, or worse, a relationship.
Your brain is a meaning-making machine. It’s addicted to joining the dots and drawing conclusions.
So, when someone tells you they are a baker, you’re more likely to remember it because ‘baker’ is already part of your conceptual reality. However, when someone says, “Hi, I’m Baker,” you’re less likely to remember it because the name of someone you’ve just met is essentially meaningless to you. Meaningless that is, unless you demonstrate to your brain that remembering the name of this new person is meaningful to you.
“If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.” – Dale Carnegie
When you remember a person’s name you are letting them know they are important to you. Humans crave that feeling of recognition and remembering someone’s name is one of the simplest and yet most powerful ways you can provide them the opportunity to experience it.
It’s a well-used example, but still so uncommonly realised that when it does happen, it feels like a miracle. Have you ever frequented a local café or bar where the employees made the effort to remember your name? It is a wonderful experience! It feels like you’re hanging out with friends. It creates a sense of connection. A feeling inside that says, “I matter here”.
It’s the same with any business relationship. Making the effort to remember someone’s name:
In business, the landscape may have changed dramatically, but the fundamentals are still the same. People prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust.
1. Choose to make remembering names a priority
Often we’re terrible at remembering people’s names simply because we’ve allowed ourselves to develop poor habits.
How many times have you told yourself, “I’m awful at remembering people’s names. I’m good with faces, but I just can’t seem to remember their name!”
From this moment on, you must never say that – or anything akin to that – ever again. It’s simply an excuse.
Most people don’t remember names because they’re simply too busy thinking of themselves and what they’re going to say next. “What will make me look good?” “Am I smiling enough?” “Am I smiling too much?” “Was my handshake firm enough?” “Was my handshake too firm?”
So, the first step is to decide for yourself that remembering someone’s name is important to you and stop allowing yourself excuses.
2. Be intentional
When you meet someone for the first time, slow down and be really present with them. Stop thinking about you and focus in on them.
Be focused and attentive when you meet someone new. Develop a process for remembering names which works for you and be deliberate about using it every single time.
3. Be vulnerable
If you have forgotten someone’s name, then own it and own it quickly. Ask for their name again and this time ensure you prioritise it and are intentional with following your process to remember it.
If you continue a conversation whilst pretending to know who they are, your confusion will come through in your conversation and the person will subconsciously sense there is something deeply untrustworthy about you.
Our invitation to you is to start today and be intentional about remembering people’s names. You will be surprised by how faster relationships develop and how quickly more opportunity flows from this one simple practice. This is just one small piece of advice Rob and I have learnt from our years as business coaches that we believe can make a serious difference in forming new relationships.
What does it take to actually remove yourself from the day-to-day grind of business? Learn from our panel of Business Owners who've Been There, Done That.