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What’s my name?

Nothing is sweeter than the sound of our names.  Nothing is more embarrassing than forgetting the name of someone whom you have just met. People feel recognized when you remember their name.  A person’s name is the most important word to them.  It is directly tied to their identity.  People are affected by the way you use their name.  Belittling someone’s name, repeatedly calling them by the wrong name, or making fun of someone’s name is sure to have a negative effect on the relationship. Remembering names is a skill that can give you leverage in your personal and business life. Everyone loves the sound of their name.  The person that takes the time to remember the name of others has generated instant goodwill.

Our short time memory last from seconds to minutes; in one ear and out the other.   Long term memory is where we store information indefinitely.  Despite the differences in memory storage, we are primarily guilty of not paying attention.  Failure to pay attention is the reason we don’t remember the name of someone we have just met.  When we are meeting people we must develop the skill of tuning everything else out.  We can’t think about what we want to say, our clothes, their clothes, we must concentrate all of our attention on hearing their name.

Introductions take place in seconds.  We must focus on the here and now and stay in the moment.  When we hear the person’s name we need to begin a connection between their name and something already in our long term memory bank.  When we connect their name to something already in our long term memory we have a better chance of remembering their name. They may have the same name of another friend.  They may have a physical characteristic that will make you remember them.  Make a connection between them and something already in your memory bank.

When you have been introduced to someone, repeat their name.  Repeating their name helps cement in your memory and shows them that you are listening.   Imagine writing their name.   If someone has a difficult name ask them to repeat it.  Sometimes asking them to spell their name allows you another opportunity, to hear their name.    Write their name as soon as possible.  If you are in a profession that requires frequent contacts with individuals you should create a file where you jot down a person’s name, when and where you met, and any connections you may share.

What if you forget?

Make your greeting generic.  Perhaps they will reintroduce themselves.  If it looks like they aren’t, just admit to forgetting their name.  Make a vow to yourself, not to let this happen often.  Repeatedly, forgetting someone’s name or calling them the wrong name is a poor start to a relationship. Let people know that you care enough about them to remember their name.

Sometimes cross introduction will work.  Introduce a person that you do know, hoping the other person will say their name during the introduction.  Ask for a business card.  It won’t look very subtle if you look at the card and immediately call t heir name.  However, when accepting a business card it is appropriate etiquette to look at the card and perhaps make a comment.  Never take a person’s card and just shove it into your pocket or purse without acknowledging the card. This allows you a perfectly legitimate opportunity to refresh your memory.  Caution though.  You can’t ask for a business card every time you see them.  Take the time to learn people’s names.

Come clean, if you need to.  No need to stand around obviously not remembering someone’s name.  Just admit that you have forgotten their name and ask for it again.  Repeatedly forgetting their name however will make you forgettable.

Some people are offended when you forget or mispronounce their name.   Be tolerant of those who forget your name. Every effort should be made to not only remember a person’s name but to pronounce it correctly.  If in doubt, ask the person to repeat their name, then you repeat it.  Making sure that you are saying it correctly.  Never, shorten a person’s name, call them by another name or declare their name too difficult to remember or pronounce.  The only thing you will have announced is your laziness and lack of regard for the relationship.

Five Star School of Etiquette helps new hires understand the etiquette of the business world. New hires must demonstrate by their behavior that they are aware of the nuances of business etiquette. Some etiquette is transferable, however many etiquette rules are different in the business arena. Prepare yourself for success. Learn the rules that will help you succeed. Attend our business series where you will be coached in business etiquette. Introductions, handshakes, how you accept business cards, your dining skills all speak to your business acumen. Our series helps you develop and perfect your present skills. Call or email today for a free consultation.

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Etiquette is the fine tuning of education. - Nadine Daher