My sophomore year, I had Psychology 101 in a room that could have doubled as a movie theater. There were more than 150 students in the class.
The first day is usually never more than handing out a syllabus and heading over to the student union, but the Psych professor, rather than having a teaching assistant hand out syllabi, had us come row by row to get our course pack. As we picked it up, he had us write our name on it and introduce ourselves to him. He shook hands with everyone and asked about their hometown, their major and their hobbies.
On Wednesday as we walked into the lecture hall, he amazed all of us by greeting us each by name. It made quite a first impression, and we all thought it was to show the power of the human mind or something. Later I found out that he'd written a paper as a grad student about memory and tried a few techniques to help improve his ability to remember names. During that brief introduction, he employed several in order to dazzle us a couple of days later.
Why it's important to remember names
As a REALTOR®, you meet new people every day in one-on-one and group situations. If you train yourself to remember their names, and are able to recall their names the next time you meet them, it leaves an impression. They will remember that you remembered and they will think that they are important enough to you to remember them. In doing so, they form the opinion that you are someone with whom they want to do business.
So try these 10 tips to dazzel your clients and remember their name
1. Ask for a do-over
Don’t be afraid to ask for their name again if you don’t quite catch it the first time. If you’ve forgotten their name, ask for it again. Do it sooner rather than later. It's less embarrassing for both of you. And chances are, they've forgotten yours, too.
2. Ask a question
Get the person talking about himself by immediately asking a question. This gives you time to anchor the name in your memory and gives you information to draw upon to do so. It also shows that you're interested in the person and want to learn more about them. Definitely a win-win for you.
3. Spell names in your head
After you ask that question, spell the name to yourself a couple of times while they are talking. This activates multiple memory pathways in your brain.
4. Use association or word pictures to remember names
Here are some examples to help you remember names by associating them with pictures: "Shave" for "Dave," "Cave-in" for "Kevin," "Cross" for "Chris." It may take practice before you can do this automatically.
5. Color me memorable
Think of a color when you meet someone. Try to pair the person's name with a color, either because it rhymes (red and Fred) or starts with the same sound (green and Greg). When you meet the person again, you'll think of the color, which will help you think of the name.
6. Focus on the person you're talking to
Everybody has met someone for the first time, had a brief discussion, parted, only to realize they had no idea what their name is. Oftentimes it's because we tend to talk about ourselves. Make it a point to listen to what the person has to say.
7. Make an association
As you're listening to them speak, you'll be able to make an association in your mind, which is a great way to attach the person to the name. For example, Terry may make a reference to growing up in Texas, and you've got a great way to anchor her in your memory.
8. Get their business card
After you have finished speaking with them, take a moment to jot down some details of your conversation on the back of their card.
9. Picture their name on their forehead
Franklin Roosevelt could remember the name of virtually everyone he ever met. He used this trick to commit people's names to memory. You can add to it by imagining their name written across their forehead in the color that you've chosen to associate with them.
10. Associate the name with someone you're familiar with
Chances are, the person in front of you will remind you of a character in a movie or TV show. Either they resemble the character, sound or act like them.
Don't let yourself get away with saying "I'm terrible with names."
It's merely a matter of training your brain to remember and developing some ways to remember the names of people you just met. Once you make it a habit, it becomes second nature and you'll never have to use the excuse again. Will you be as good as my psych professor or FDR? Maybe not... but you will be able to impress a new contact when you see him/her at the gas station.
Several years later, I was home for the holidays and I ran into my psych professor. To my amazement, Dr. Long remembered my name. It never occurred to me as a sophomore to ask why he did that, but as a business professional I was curious. "Did you do that just to impress your students?" I asked.
"Oh, heavens no. It was bad enough for you guys in that big lecture hall," he said. "I didn't need to impress you. By doing that, I wanted to make you feel more comfortable with the class. In that environment, it's easy for students to feel like they're getting lost. I wanted each of you to realize I was interested in you learning the material and that you were important to me."
Dr. Long used several techniques to remember names of people he met. Some of them, I use today. Even if I only took Psych 101 as a required class, that point made by Dr. Long has always impressed me.