How many times have you been introduced to someone, only to forget their name moments after? Or seen a familiar face at your studio, but hoped someone else mentioned his or her name since you couldn’t seem to place it? While forgetting people’s names can be awkward and a tad embarrassing, it’s actually not that uncommon. An article from Psychology Today dives deep into why we recognize faces, but seem to always forget names: “Not only humans but many other social animals recognize their group mates by their faces. We even have dedicated machinery in the brain for processing facial features. This makes facial recognition quick and relatively accurate. What’s really challenging is remembering the names that go with those faces.”
But before you cut yourself too much slack for not being the best at name recall, know this: remembering names can be vital for business. Why? Picture this: you start a new job and begin to grab coffee from the local spot on the corner every single morning. It takes only a few days for the barista to start recognizing your face, a few weeks for him to know your order, and perhaps a few months before he starts asking how work is going and knows about your latest gardening kick. Now, you don’t just enjoy the coffee, but the personal, familiar experience of the shop keeps you coming back for more. Try comparing that to an acquaintance you’ve introduced yourself to many times who never seems to remember who you are. Making an effort to learn names shows you pay attention and care about your clients, which will only lead to greater brand loyalty and a better customer experience.
If you find yourself frequently forgetting your clients’ names, keep reading. These are some of the most effective (and easy!) tricks to remembering them:
1. Be present
So you’re not great at remembering people’s names — no big deal. But before you go ahead and blame it on your forgetfulness, take a second to consider whether you’re experiencing an issue with your memory or simply a lack of focus. International memory speaker Ron White told CNBC that “a major reason you don’t recall names is you weren’t listening. Someone says their name and two seconds later you don’t know it. This is not a memory problem. It is a focus problem.” So the next time you are being introduced to someone else, try your best to pay extra attention and stay focused during the entire exchange.
2. Repeat their name—to yourself and aloud
Remember when we said humans are better equipped to remember faces, not names? Try using this fact to your advantage. After someone tells you his or her name, repeat the name aloud while making eye contact, as if you’re clarifying that you heard the name correctly. And to really drill it into your brain? Try repeating the name a few times in your head while taking in the person’s facial features.
3. Create an association
Let’s take this one back to grade school with a good ol’ pneumonic device (hey, whatever works, right?). It’s so difficult for us to remember names because they’re so arbitrary (how many Matts and Sarahs do you know?) and don’t mean much until you are able to associate the name with something else. Next time you meet someone, try attaching their name to a fact about them. For example, “Brenda with the Braids” or “Cycling Chris”. Sounds silly, but trust us: it works!