It’s the first day of school. As you enter the room, you are greeted by your new classmate whom you just had a talk with during enrolment. “Uh, what’s her name again?” suddenly, all your brain cells are in code red trying to remember your classmate’s name, hoping it’ll come up soon—but it never did. “Oh, man! I can’t ask her now because she’ll think I don’t even care to remember her name.” Then there’s silence followed by a moment of awkwardness.
With all the many talents and skills you have, why is it that remembering someone’s name is such a futile task? When meeting new faces, you just somehow draw blanks, thinking: “Is it John or Jude?”, “Trixie or Trishia?” Sometimes, failing to remember someone’s name can bring a bit of embarrassment, or worse, affect first impressions. The next time you find yourself in a meeting or engaged in a conversation with your classmates, make sure to use these five hacks so you never forget their names, ever!
1. Focus on the person you are talking to
Simply put, what makes remembering names hard is that you are focused on too many things all at once. You may be thinking about how you look, what they are thinking about you, what you will say, or how you are going to respond to what they’re going to say; but whatever it is, just drop it. Put yourself into the conversation and give them your undivided attention. Look them in the eye, smile with your eyes, and most importantly, listen. There’s nothing more effective than being genuinely interested in them.
2. Learn the power of repetition
When you hear someone’s name, don’t just nod, tell your name, too, and continue with the conversation. Try to repeat their name and use it throughout the conversation. This may go a little something like this:
As your classmate greets you and says, “Hi, I’m Jane!”
You can ask her again to clarify, “Jane?”
Then she will say it again, “Yes, Jane.”
“Nice to meet you, Jane. I’m Precious, by the way.”
Repetition helps your short-term memory, making it easier for you to recall it when you have to.
3. Link their name with a visual image
One thing you can do is to look for a facial feature or trait that you can remember. Does the person have a prominent hairdo, big ears, colored contacts, or a funky outfit? Connecting them with a characteristic can help you visualize and think of them some more. Stop for a moment and search for something familiar. Just be mindful though in using these visual associations while conversing so as to avoid offending or staring at them.
4. Use mnemonic devices
Ever encountered someone whose name you can’t remember despite trying over a million times? Or a classmate with an unusual name spelling? Sticking your classmate’s name in your head is not always easy especially when you are studying abroad as names can be a lot different from the Philippines. Hearing a person spell their name can help you remember it. However, in instances where asking for spelling won’t help at all, breaking their names into real words can do the trick. For example, your new friend’s name is Dwight, you may try remembering him by thinking of similar-sounding words such as “The right-handed one”.
5. Expand your connection with them
As you exchange conversations, it may also be a good opportunity to add them as your mobile contacts, send them a friend request on Facebook, or follow each other on Twitter. Not only is this a sure way to remember them, but this also opens a lot of avenues to get to know them more. Who knows, you may have more than mutual friends than you can imagine?
In the end, communicating with people isn’t that hard. Taking the time to practice and using their names create a positive impression and also serve as a way to build more meaningful relationships.
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