Forgetting a person's name feels really awkward, and it probably happens to you all the time! I'm one of those fantastic-with-faces-but-terrible-with-names guys, and I deal with the name blanks frequently. Normally, I'll come right out with it and just ask for the name again. The really awkward moments happen when you forget that one.
When I was dating, I came up with a clever go around for that, but it's a little too flirtatious to use in your everyday business and networking. If you want to remember people's names better, put yourself on the spot. This will fix it. Make it a point to send them off at the end of the conversation using their name!
"It was Tammy, right? Thanks so much for your help!"
Playing this name game will invoke three cognitive gems that will increase your name retention drastically! The first two are prevalent in Pimsleur's language learning system which is very effective. I used Pimsleur in 2004 as a primer into my Spanish.
Anticipation. This is simply an engaging factor. If you know that you're going to end your conversation by testing yourself on their name, you hang on to it a minute longer. Instead of trying to look engaged, you actually are engaged. This will impact the person's perception of you positively, also, which is good for your business and relationships.
Graduated Interval Recall. In essence, this is learning and remembering in micro-steps, but what is more powerful in this is that the successful recall elicits pleasurable internal and, in our case, external rewards. It dopes the brain with positive feedback
In Pimsleur's learning course, you're incrementally challenged and positively rewarded internally when you hear the answer match what you said. When you are live with a person, though, you get the benefit of external rewards also. This feels even better, and digs that brain groove deeper. You'll ask, "It was Tammy, right?"
Tammy's eyes are going to light up (external reward one), she's going to smile (external reward two), and she'll verbally confirm your recollection (external reward jackpot). "Yes. Thanks." Big smiles! It feels good to everyone.
Pain Avoidance. Pain avoidance is the third reason this works so well. For it to work though, you have to commit yourself to risking the pain. You have to be willing to throw that name out there no matter what! You want to invoke the pain avoidance factor at the beginning of the conversation and not at the end, as in I better remember this name now, from the beginning, or it's going to be painful in the end, and not I forgot her name so I'm going to avoid pain at the end and not ask. You have to throw it out there, or you don't grow. "It was Tammy, right?"
If you get the name wrong, it's embarrassing, but that's the point. Don't sweat it.
"No. It's Christine, actually. But that's ok. What was yours?"
She'll still smile because you tried, but her eyes won't light up. You guys will shake hands, walk away, and think about how awkward that was. You should be able to take solace in the fact that she forgot yours also, and the experience is still a reward, it's just a negative one.
Most people don't remember names. It's the rare few who do that really leave an impression on others. You become more persuasive, and more attractive when you remember names. Play this name game. People will feel more comfortable around you, and enjoy themselves when you come around.