'Tis the season for socializing! Weekend after weekend we spend the holiday months meeting new people and reaquainting with long lost relatives, often in busy distracting party environments. This can be either an energizing prospect or a terrifying one for many reasons. One of them being: all those new names and faces to file away in our memories! I am often intrigued by how many people, immediately after the handshake, will say "I'm terrible with names." In my head , I reply "well yeah, with that attitude you are!" Like many things in life, when we set the intention about our skill or weakness it is likely to come true. I invite you to take a different approach. Start saying "I like remembering names" or maybe even "I'm GOOD at remembering names." And you can be, if you use some simple tools and techniques.
1. Set the intention. "I'm good at remembering names." Doesn't it feel good when you remember someone's name without skipping a beat? Have you noticed how good it feels when someone remembers your name? It might make you feel important, valued, and special. Set the intention that you will remember a new persons name by using the power of your mind, because everyone benefits.
2. Pay attention. You know it's coming. The handshake or hug and that single precious moment when the name is uttered. "I'm Susan, nice to meet you" or "Im so excited to introduce you to my partner Joe." Be ready. Avoid thinking about what you will say next or worrying about the impression you are making. When you pay attention in that moment you give your brain the best shot at encoding the information.
3. Repetition. Repeat the person's name out loud. Each time you repeat a bit of information, either silently or aloud, the information sticks a bit more. You might even say "Joe, ok, I want to remember that." Not only will you get an extra repetition in, but they may even think "hey I'm important enough to remember!"
4. Association. Use this tried and true memory strategy to "link new information to old knowledge." There are a few ways to do this. There is the standard link: Joe, like my childhood friend Joe. The more abstract link: Christine who I met at the Christmas party. Or a more creative link, like the one my partner and I often use to introduce ourselves: Dillan and Brenda, like the famous couple from 90210.
5. Be Humble. If you forget, just ask. Apologize and say "could you repeat your name for me?" Your communication partner may have forgotten your name and be relieved at the opportunity for an introduction do-over.
Give it a try, and see how setting intentions, using memory strategies, and being humble can benefit you in other parts of your life. I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to post any reactions or additional strategies that work for you.