Fill in the blank. Settergren @ pixabay.com
One thing to know: I am terrible at remembering names.
I try. I really, really do. I have all those tricks up my sleeve: repeating the person’s name three times in the course of the first conversation, associating the name with a person (turns out everyone’s “George Clooney”…who knew?), or associating the person with an image (sorry, now everyone’s in Hawaii).
It’s no use.
And, it’s no excuse.
A recent article in Inc. magazine starts with the first line of a full-page ad honoring the late founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher:
“Dear Herb, thanks for always remembering our name.”
The article goes on to say, “Kelleher was credited for turning a company into a family, and family members know each other by their first names. Understand the power of using a person’s first name and you’ll have discovered a free, simple, and powerfully effective leadership tool to build stronger relationships with peers, employees, and customers.”
And, I’d add, it also makes people feel more connected, noticed, and thus, more likely to be generous.
It’s human nature. We want to be known. We want to feel like we matter to others. Remembering someone’s name is key to letting them know that they are more than just a body, more than just a donation, more than just a check mark of attendance.
In the WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) category, He would – of course – know people. He called the disciples to follow him, many of them by name. Martha, of the famous sister duo, Mary and Martha, had Jesus say her name not once, but twice. Zacchaeus may indeed have been a “wee little man” but Jesus also remembered his name.
Neuroscience, once again, backs it all up. Using brain scans, a recent study showed that “hearing your first name will activate parts of your brain different from those activated by hearing the names of other people.” We love to know that we are recognized and that we matter.
So for those of you, like me, who aren’t good at remembering names here are a few suggestions:
1. Write the person’s name down in your phone or on a little pad of paper as soon as you can. Keep it handy.
2. Send a note to the person saying how nice it was to meet them.
3. Concentrate as hard as possible to remember the person’s name. Repeat it in your head several times. Repeat again.
4. Have a wingman or wing-woman around who can whisper the person’s name in your ear.
5. Reintroduce yourself and pray that the person will do likewise.
6. And, if all else fails, with a smile and in deep humility, admit that you have forgotten the person’s name. Then don’t dare forget it again.
Too many people feel like they don’t matter. They feel invisible. Here’s your opportunity to change that narrative. Just by saying that one little word you can make all the difference. Now, what was your name again?