Fed up with forgetting names? It’s downright embarrassing when we forget names of people we know we shouldn’t. It makes us feel stupid, especially when they remember our name. Well don’t feel so bad. In my five-year study of the habits of successful people, I found that they are just like the rest of us. They forget names too. But what makes them different is that successful people use a unique strategy, I uncovered in my research, which allows them to remember anyone’s name, no matter how infrequent they both come into contact with each other. This little tool makes it appear as if those successful people are simply smarter than the average bear. I call it the Grouping Strategy. It’s so simple and yet, in it’s simplicity, so ingenious. Here’s how it works:
Step #1: Write It Down
Write down the name of a new introduction immediately after the introduction as soon as you get a chance. I keep a small pad and pen with me at all times just for this purpose. Most of us only have the ability to remember someone’s name for about 20-30 seconds. That’s all the cognitive real estate our brains give our cortex. In order to remember their name you must repeat it several times until you can sneak away and write their name down. A simple trick to remember a name until you can write it down in your pad is to use their name in conversation at least 3 times. “So Tom, when was the last time we saw each other?” “What’s new since we last saw each other Tom?” “How are your kids doing Tom?” Three times is a charm.
Step #2: Association technique
Our brain thinks in pictures and our memory works through the process of association. When we associate new information, for example: a name, with old memories, our brains remember better. When you associate a person’s face with a celebrity, family member, best friend or colleague at work you will remember the face and the name. The key is to write down, in your little pad, the person they resemble and to habitually use this Association Technique with every new person you meet. If you can’t find anyone they resemble then pick out some outstanding facial feature and write this association down in your little pad. For example, “Has a real small head with big eyes”.
Step #3: Group Them
Create group categories for all of your contacts in whatever contact database you use and then assign each contact to a group category. I use Outlook, which is linked to my cell phone. I have about twenty categories under which I have listed all of my various contacts. In your little pad, that you now habitually carry around with you everywhere your go, write down the group category next to the name of your new friend. For example, if you play tennis, softball, and golf and the new person is someone you met at a tennis function, you would assign them to the tennis category. If the new person is someone you met at your daughter’s volleyball match, then create a “daughter – volleyball” category and assign them to that category. As soon as you get back home or back to the office, transfer the information in your little pad to your contact database. This system works best if you can carry around this information with you everywhere you go.
Step #4: Event Cramming
Right before you get to a specific group event pull out your contact database and go to the group that applies. Then spend a few minutes reviewing all of the names in the group. It may take you a few minutes of cramming but it will make you look like a superstar.
This Grouping Strategy works without fail. People will be amazed by your memory and you will turn casual relationships into long-term friendships. When you remember someone’s name it sends them a powerful message that either:
#1 You consider them so important that you took the time to remember their name or
#2 You are a unique, exceptionally smart person who they want to get to know better.
When you remember someone’s name it makes that person feel good about you and they will be more motivated to develop a relationship with you. Why not take a page out of the handbook of the super successful. Start your Grouping Strategy today and never forget another name ever again.