by Simon Taylor
“Sorry, what was your name again?”
*Groan* That awkward feeling sets in again. You just met this person and have forgotten their name. Why does this always happen? They literally JUST said it. All your hard work and endless charm will amount to nothing if you can’t even remember one simple word. Chances are you’ve concentrated so hard on making a good impression – firm handshake, eye contact, clear pronunciation of your own name – that you haven’t paid much attention to the equal efforts of your new friend.
Basic human psychology suggests that a person’s favourite word is their own name. Usually they’ll respond positively to its utterance – even on a subconscious level. If you want to score some subconscious points during that first impression here are some tricks to help you remember their name.
Step 1: Repetition
Always repeat the person’s name. “Nice to meet your Alice” “What do you for a living Alice?” “I loved you in that wonderland movie Alice.”
Be careful not to over do it though. “Hi Alice. So Alice, what do you do for a living Alice? Alice, Alice who the…”
Step 2: Association
Try finding some way to associate the new name with a person you already know to give yourself a cue.
“Hey there Marcus” (Note to self: His name is Marcus, like my grandfather Marcus. Maybe this guy has a penchant for cigars and whiskey too… maybe I should ask him…)
“Nice to meet you, Chandika” (Note to self: Chandika can be shortened to Chan. I love Jackie Chan. I hope Chandika can do Kung Fu.)
“Mike. His nose is quite round like a microphone. Easy, look at the nose, remember the name.”
Step 3: Show your effort.
People with tougher names probably get forgotten a lot – mainly because people are afraid they might get it wrong. Stand apart and show that you are interested in learning it.
“Hey there Kweku. Wow, what a cool name. I’m going to really try to remember that.” Now that you have made a point of it, it’s more likely that you will remember his name. People also love feeling like you are making an effort for them.
Step 4: Help
Don’t be afraid to ask again. It shows you are interested enough in the person to check.
“Help me out with your name again? Ah yes, Julian. It hasn’t changed since last time. Good”
Show off your skill. A great way to leave a lasting impression in a social situation is to use everyone’s name as you say goodbye.
“Well it was nice meeting you Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen and Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. Peace out Rudolf!”
Next time you gear up for that all-important first impression, be on your A-game, but don’t let all your hard work evaporate because you forget that one crucial word.