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How to remember people's names

A good memory for people's names is not only an important social asset: it's a basic requirement for successful managers. Remember people's names and what they're interested in, and you'll flatter them and get them on side immediately. But forget their names, and the things important to them, and you're telling them you don't consider them important. If you want to avoid the embarrassment of forgetting the names of people you meet, here are some suggestions for you to consider...

1. Get the name clearly.

The most common problem in remembering the names of people we meet is not paying attention during the introduction. Whether we're self-conscious about meeting a new person or we feel out of place - whatever the reason, we tend to focus instead on the 'How do you do's and the 'Nice to meet you's.

What's more important, as the person is being introduced to you, is to listen for the name. Pay more attention to it than to anything else being said. If you don't pick it up, ask for it to be repeated. Be in no doubt about the pronunciation or spelling. Taking such care shows that the name and the person mean something to you.

2. Repeat the name to the person.

Take a second to repeat the name when you are introduced. Indeed, find an excuse for the name to be repeated (and reinforced): 'Hello, Mike. I'm sorry, I missed your last name…' Then, follow up with: 'Mike Buckman! It's nice to meet you, Mike.' The process of retention has begun. During later conversation, try to repeat the name - 'Mike' or 'Mr Buckman'. That technique will not only strengthen goodwill but get your memory into gear as well.

3. If possible, focus on the derivation of the name.

A useful suggestion, especially if the name is unusual, is to ask about its origins. Many people enjoy talking about the derivation and history of their name - particularly if it's unusual. And what they have to say might make them more memorable for you.


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