You're walking down the street, and meet someone whose name you should remember. You don't. You try to get by with a warm greeting. It almost works. Then, another friend joins both of you and waits to be introduced. You're embarrassed. The other person remembers your name; you've forgotten his. You're not sure whether you've simply got a poor memory or if you're showing early signs of senility.
If you'd like to possess a memory for names, try these simple strategies - they'll make a world of difference in your ability to remember names.
LOOK AT THE PERSON WHEN YOU HEAR THE NAME
When you're meeting a person, you're often looking elsewhere. If a third person is introducing you, you're normally looking at the person who is doing the introductions or is speaking. If a customer comes up to the counter you're working at, you're generally looking at the paperwork you've just assembled. If you've just come into a room full of people at a party, and are being introduced to others, your attention is often "inside" your own head, focused on how you look.
Since memory is highly associative (one thing links with another), looking at a person when you're first meeting him or her helps you link the sound of the new name with the face. Then, when you later look at the face, you'll be more likely to remember the name.
MAKE SURE YOU HEAR THE NAME CLEARLY
Often, introductions are rushed and names are mumbled or slurred. If this happens, ask the person to repeat his or her name. If you hear only a mumble, that's what you'll remember. And, if you realize several minutes into a conversation you were too distracted to hear the name initially, ask for it again. You can't memorize what you haven't heard.
WHEN YOU HEAR THE NAME, REPEAT IT AT ONCE INSIDE YOUR OWN HEAD
Your memory isn't failing you, you're failing your memory.
Repeating a name increases your chances of remembering a name by 30 percent. If you remember repeating poems in grade school until they were memorized, you realize that repetition works. While something repeated once a day for eight days is generally remembered for months, something heard only once is at least two-thirds forgotten by the end of the first day. If you want to remember a name, at least repeat the name in your head when you first hear it.
IF THE NAME IS UNUSUAL OR HARD TO REMEMBER, ASK THE PERSON TO SPELL IT OR SPELL IT SILENTLY YOURSELF
Because it is easier to remember visual than auditory information, we often take a mental snapshot of a person's name without realizing it. When you meet a person named Joe or Mary, your mind quickly "sees" "Joe" or "Mary." However, when you meet a person with an unusual name such as "Tanzeem," your mind hears that the sound is difficult and takes no snapshot. What you later remember is not the name, but instead that the name was "different."
Because you already tend to remember names visually, assist yourself by spelling difficult names either out loud or silently. Once you've seen Mr. Tanzeem or Ms. Ahnangatoguk's name in letters, it becomes easier to remember. While the sound of the name may vanish into the reaches of memory, the spelling will remain.
SAY THE PERSON'S NAME OUT LOUD EARLY IN THE CONVERSATION
When you meet someone, you probably say "hello," and then give your own name. If instead you say, "Hello, Joe Banks, I'm Lynne Curry," you'll increase your chances of remembering the person's name by 50 percent. Out loud repetition is even more effective than silent repetition because you're more actively working your memory.
USE THE NAME IN CONVERSATION
Using a person's name in the first three minutes after meeting a person increases your chance of remembering the name when you next meet him or her. The repetition reinforces the linkage between the person's face and his name.
Once you've practiced repeating new acquaintances' names, you'll notice that there are many opportunities to use anyone's name in conversation without it sounding strange. You'll also notice that most people like hearing their own name.
USE THE NAME WHEN EXITING THE CONVERSATION
If you'll use the person's name one last time as you end a conversation with them, for example, "It was good to meet you, Joe," you'll likely capture the name in memory for weeks.
TURN YOUR MEMORY ON BY MOTIVATION
If you've raised teenagers, you know many of them forget to do things you ask, but can remember the names of everyone in a music group or the batting average of every player on their favorite team. We remember what we want to.
Thus, if you want to increase your chances of remembering something, start by considering why it's important for you to remember it. The more attention you focus on what's happening around you, the more you'll notice and remember.
WRITE THE NAME
Visual memory is stronger than auditory or verbal memory. If you've ever made a list of items to buy at the store and left the list at home, you probably noticed you could recall all or most of the items on the list. Simply writing a name and looking at it will increase your chances of remembering the name.
GIVE MEMORY A CHANCE
When you meet a person weeks after the first meeting, give your memory a chance. We expect our memory to be instant. When we first see a person, we expect the name to immediately flash across our mind.
Since memory holds a huge quantity of information, it takes several seconds for our minds to process many associations and come up with the right name. If you expect an instant remembrance, your memory can appear to shut down as anxiety forms a sure-fire barrier that blocks memory. So, give your memory a chance.
Relax and think back to anything you can remember about the person. Associated events and information help your sorting process, and by remaining calm you give your mental searching process a chance to work. If you need to, you can buy yourself time by clearing your throat, adjusting your glasses or taking a deep breath.
Would you like to be able to remember the names of the people you meet? If so, look at people when you first meet them so you'll be able to later link the sound of their name to their faces. Make sure you hear new names clearly - you can't memorize what you can't clearly hear. Say the name out loud in greeting and in conversation if you can. If not, mentally repeat the name to yourself. If the name is unusual, try to spell it. And finally - give your memory a chance to work and exercise it daily.