I am consistently terrible at the subject of today’s lesson – remembering names. There really is no excuse for it. We remember what we want to remember and what is really important to us, so I can’t throw out some lame excuse like “I’m not good at remembering names” and then abandon all effort at getting better.
The incident that triggered the thought was one this week with the painter working in our house. Our home renovation company subcontracts much of our current renovation out to specialists, so I just met the painter on Monday. When he left Monday evening I introduced myself and he told me his name. Within an hour I wouldn’t have bet money on being right if asked to recall it. I thought I recalled his first name, but I couldn’t remember his last name at all.
I can’t tell you how many times a week I am called by name by someone I pass in a hallway or walking down the street near work. They’ll say “Hi, Jeff!” and I’ll have to respond with a smile and “Hey! How are you?” – all the while wondering “What the crap is that person’s name?”
Again, I can’t excuse it because of having taught thousands of people in classes over the years or because I’m the community manager for an internal social network of almost 20,000 people who see my face a lot more than I see theirs. If I’ve met them in person for more than just one fleeting occasion, I should remember their names because it’s important to do so. They deserve that respect.
What it takes is being more concerned with the person in front of me and maybe making notes later rather than being absorbed in my own thinking. It takes using their name in conversation. Some suggest word association to help, but that seems like just more to remember. I won’t remember the names of everyone I’ve ever met no matter how hard I might try, but I can improve with some effort.
There is hardly a sweeter sound than someone calling your name. I need leap year lesson #198 drilled in my thick skull over and over again – Learn people’s names.