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Tricks to Remembering Names

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Is it Cheryl or Hardy? Cameron or Gabrielle? Here's some help. Our name is one of those hard wired words in our subconscious (like “Free” and “Sex”), which has the intrinsic trigger to get our attention. You are more likely to react and respond to the sound of your name than say the word “apple”.

The ability to remember people’s names is an incredibly useful skill, in business and social interactions. Do you remember how impressed or surprised you were the last time someone remembered your name? I still get impressed, and I tend to remember these people in an especially warm and friendly light.

I have a distinct, short and easy to remember name (“Ernie”). I often fall victim to the embarrassment of not remembering names of people who approach me with “Ernie”, how are you?” My mind would go into panic, thinking “Oh crap! What’s her name again?” Few situations will make you cringe more than standing next to someone you've met several times and drawing a blank on his or her name. Plenty of business deals and romantic rendezvous have been foiled because someone failed to recall the right name at the right time.

"Everyone struggles with remembering names," says Jill Spiegel, author of How to Talk to Anyone About Anything. "When we first meet someone we're taking in so much visually and emotionally.

They say their name, but it's up there floating in our heads." Making matters worse are all the single-syllable American male names, like Chris, Bill or Phil, that tend to blend together. There are two tricks to remembering names:

Benjamin Levy, author of Remember Every Name Every Time, advocates the FACE method: "focus, ask, comment and employ." Focus: Lock in on the person's face. Ask: Inquire which version he prefers ("Is it Ted or Theodore?").

Comment: Say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head ("My college roommate's name was Ted.") Employ: Put the name to use--"Nice seeing you, Ted…Bye Ted!

Focus on the name as you hear it. People who are good at remembering names are interested in them, asking how they’re spelled or pronounced. Then repeat it not once but several times, says Cynthia R. Green, PhD, coauthor of Prevention’s Brainpower Game Plan. When you meet someone new, you might say, “Eliza? Hi, Eliza, it’s nice to meet you. That’s a pretty name...” Every time you restate the name, you’re more likely to recall it in the future…. Bye Eliza!

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