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Welcome to my blog. I post my musings on life, work, finance, and personal development. Opinions expressed are mine, not those of my employer.

What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?

I bet you have never heard or said, "I know your name, but I can't remember your face."

Though in most cases that phrase would be absurd (usually the face is right in front of you) it is entirely common to remember the face but not the name. This despite the now cliché admonition made in How to Win Friends and Influence People to "remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." As Cialdini's notes in PRE-suasion,  can it be a coincidence that Rolling Stone magazine rates the two "greatest songs of the rock era" to be Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone and the Rolling Stones' (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction when neither of those songs tops any similar list?

The admonition has been well received by many would-be influencers, so much so that a salesperson who is constantly finding ways to refer to my name now has the effect of sending up a warning flag. However, knowing that misuse of the tactic is off-putting does not reduce my embarrassment when I have to ask an acquaintance to remind me of their name. So some repetition in an initial meeting is appropriate - and most natural immediately after the introduction and at the end of the chat. "Hi Jane, good to meet you. My name is..." and "Goodbye, Jane, it was a pleasure meeting you."

Other tips for remembering names are to associate them with the name of another acquaintance or famous person with that name, or with similar-sounding things. For example, you might picture Carol singing on your lawn during the holidays. It can also be helpful to ask for the name to be spelled or to read it on a business card during the conversation.

Perhaps most important of all is to be genuinely interested in the first place.

While you are at it, help out your fellow forgetful folks, and make sure you introduce yourself properly. One of the more useful things I learned in the Dale Carnegie course I attended was to pause between saying my first and last name (so that they don't run together for the listener) and to place an emphasis on the last name.

You may even want to help the listener form their own mnemonic device. I used to work in Trenton, New Jersey, whose founder shared my name. The William Trent House is a common field trip for elementary school students from the region. I soon found it handy to introduce myself as "William Trent, just like the William Trent House." I had been working there for a year when a colleague heard me say this, gasped, and said "I never made that connection!"

So while it may be true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, I know of few people who would instead bring their beloved arroz instead. What are your thoughts, (Reader's name)?

 

A Workout for the Brain

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