The Name of the Game is the Name

After reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People I made a cheat sheet that was printed and put in my office space. On most days, I strive to apply one of the recommendations.

I started out by scanning my biggest weaknesses, one of them being remembering names. Here’s what Dale has to say about names :

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

I learn by doing and seeing. So when I hear a name; it often doesn’t register with me unless I consciously write it down or associate it with a concept. For example, if someone is named Mario, I will think of the Nintendo character “Mario” and visualize both faces in my head. Or if I meet an japanese girl named Katherine, I will think of a word that I can associate the name to; in this case Katana. This process is very fast, the first word that comes to my mind is often a good enough fit.

Another technique that is perhaps more grounded is to summarize a person’s attitude, stories and identity with their names. For example, I met a guy named Bret from Australia who likes to sing, box and renovates houses. By putting all these facts about Bret, I can more readily associate his name to a block of memory. This has the added advantage that if I see Bret again, I can ask him about those facts.

As always, Dale says that his techniques will not work if your intent is to get something out of a relationship. I agree that effective and purposeful acts come from a deep interest, a sense of curiosity and the heart. Which is to say, that remembering names is about cultivating a sense of involvement, understanding and makes everyday interactions easier.

For those who think that remembering names is not worth the trouble because they might never see someone again, they can look up to Theodore Roosevelt who not only remembered the names of maids and gardeners, but also knew a little bit about their story.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. — Theodore Roosevelt

No wonder people liked him. Just like anything else, it is a skill that is worth working on if were interested in forming better, deeper connections with the people we engage on a daily basis.

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