There is one word in your vocabulary capable of transcending cultures and languages. Hearing it makes you proud, it’s like music to your ears. Which is great because every day, at some point, you come in contact with it.
You may hear it, say it, or read it. You like this word so much that you may find its equivalent in other languages but, no. You proudly stick with the original and with good reasons. This is not just a simple word, this word tells a very exciting story. Yours!
Your name allows you to connect with others because it marks the beginning of your relationships. This one word represents who you are, what you stand for, and where you come from.
No wonder you get so upset when people forget it or misspell it. You may let it slide the first time, perhaps a second time but, a third time! That’s outrageous!
Steven Covey in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” tells us how our name is the most important word in our vocabulary and he was very right! As I began to look into this, I began to wonder, why is it so hard to remember people’s names sometimes?
It’s more than just a word.
Juan, Ivan, John, Johannes, Janos, Yiannis, Giovanni are all the same but, they don’t represent the same (btw, this is so strong that I just realized how I started with my own name). You associate your name with your identity and your cultural background.
You feel so strongly connected with your name that its influence in your life is rooted so deep, you don’t even notice it.
Quick question: do you think you would be who you are and be where you are in life if you had a different name?
Today, extensive research tells us that our names will have an influence on the professions we chose, the brands we shop for, who we marry, the stocks we invest in, the places we live, and much more!
Nobody is just “bad” at learning names.
When you are interested in a particular person, what is the first thing you do? You try to figure out who they are. By the time you talk with them, you already know what their name is and their background story. Why? Because you were interested in connecting with them.
This is why it bothers you so much when people don’t remember yours, you feel they are telling you that they simply don’t care to connect with you.
The first step to stop being “bad” at remembering people’s names, is to actually want to learn somebody else’s story. The problem is that nowadays, it has a sort of acceptable for somebody to be bad.
Don’t be lazy and make the effort to listen because each time you don’t get it right, it erodes your chances of developing better relations. You will see what I mean.
Your life will improve the moment you begin to make the effort. Push yourself to be honestly interested, it will allow you to build stronger and faster connections with others.
What’s the deal with learning names?
Once you are honestly interested in learning somebody’s name, the rest comes easy, since 50% of the work is in actually paying attention to the name. With that little piece of invaluable information, you can now start to build the foundation of a new relationship.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been developing my ability to learn names as fast as I can. Beyond all its benefits, this has grown into its own process that I like to call in a very creative way, the “Name Learning Technique.”
The Name Learning Technique goes something like this.
- WANT to know the person’s name. Care for it! it’s important for them and you should give them the attention they deserve.
- Ask for their name first. This allows you to show interest. You don’t say your name yet.
- Listen to their name. If you don’t understand it or can’t say it properly, don’t move on until you have managed it. If you are at a networking event, check their name badge, to see how it is written. That way you don’t only hear it but, also read it.
- Look them in the face, shake their hand, and greet them by their name! “Nice to meet you, Peter”
- If it’s a name that you are not used to, ask more about the background. It will help you make a connection later.
- Introduce yourself. “Peter, my name is Juan”
- Use the person’s name each time you address him or her to make sure you have fully connected the person to the name. “And what brings you here Peter?”
- After 3 times, give it a rest or it will become weird. Make sure to say goodbye to using the name. “Peter, we will catch up later, have a nice day.”
You pretty much have a list of common names in your head waiting to be matched with the person you just met. That is why it can be hard when dealing with a different culture.
In that case check if the name is the equivalent of one in your language, for example: if in Italy I meet a Giovanni, I know that he has the same name as me.
If that is not possible, then try to find a word that sounds similar to their name and make the association in your head. In most cases, they will do it for you, remember that they also want you to remember their name.
Extra notes on Name Learning.
It’s completely fine to ask somebody for their name after a while, especially in networking events. But be mindful that those who manage to learn names the fastest, will be remembered for it. Let the other person know that you do care to learn their name.
I don’t blame you for not being interested in the person’s name. It’s also ok if don’t feel like socializing. But, don’t be lazy, push yourself because I’m sure that you are interested in building stronger relationships.
I’m sure you are not interested in coming across some jerk who only wants to connect with those you think may have something to offer you. You may get to them but, you will create weak bonds between you. Make it a habit to learn names quickly.
At the end of the day, meeting new people can be very fulfilling, soon you will discover that everybody with the possibility to teach a new perspective on how to live a better life.
Take the 5-day challenge!
Starting today, as you go through your day, I want you to go ahead and implement the Name Learning Technique for the next 5 days. Just for these 5 days make the effort to be honestly interested in getting to know other people.
The chances are that they haven’t read this post so be ok with them not remembering your name. Once the person realizes that you have made an effort to learn theirs, they will feel in debt to you if they don’t remember or know yours.
Just think about how you feel when somebody whose name you don’t remember calls you by yours.
To know more about how your name influences your life, make sure to sign up below to the newsletter, where I will share some more facts from my personal experience and the research I’ve found on names.
If there is somebody you know who may benefit from reading this post, go ahead and make them a favor by sharing this article with them.
I would love to know how do you deal with people who constantly forget your name and just keep asking you for it? Share your experience in the comment section below!