“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.”
The ability to remember names is important in business, social contacts and, yes, even politics.
Human Relations Principle 6: Remember that a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
(“If you don’t do this, you are headed for trouble.”)
(This is the sixth in a series of articles where I will encapsulate each of Dale Carnegie’s timeless, life-changing principles for dealing with people. (Adapted from How to Win Friends and Influence People.))*
A person’s name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique among others.
The information we are imparting or the request we are making takes on a special importance when we approach the situation with the name of the individual. From the waitress to the senior executive, the name will work magic as we deal with others.
People are so proud of their names that they strive to perpetuate them at any cost which is why hospitals, libraries, streets and other monuments are named after prominent people and benefactors.
However, most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves claiming that they can’t do it or they are too busy to take the time.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Mastered Remembering Names
Few are as busy as was President Franklin D. Roosevelt yet he took time to remember and recall even the names of mechanics with whom he came into contact. Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that one of the simplest, most obvious and most important ways of gaining good will was by remembering names and making people feel important—yet how many of us do it?
Napoleon the Third’s System for Remembering Names
Napoleon the Third, Emperor of France and nephew of the great Napoleon, boasted that in spite of all his royal duties he could remember the name of every person he met. His technique? Simple. If he didn’t hear the name distinctly, he said, “So sorry. I didn’t get the name clearly.” Then, if it was an unusual name, he would say, “How is it spelled?” During the conversation, he took the trouble to repeat the name several times, and tried to associate it in his mind with the person’s features, expression and general appearance… As soon as he was alone, he wrote the name down on a piece of paper, looked at it, concentrated on it, fixed it securely in his mind, and then tore up the paper. In this way, he gained an eye impression of the name as well as an ear impression.
How You Can Improve Your Ability to Remember Names
Remembering names is a learned skill that we can all improve if we would simply take a mere 60 seconds to focus intently on a person’s name when we first meet them. That’s about how long our conscious mind needs to process information and store it in our subconscious mind for retrieval at a later date. Our subconscious mind stores information and concepts in pictures and needs a little time to connect the information (names) to pictures we will remember. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is most definitely true for remembering names.
Improve your ability to remember a person’s name by:
- Getting a good visual impression of the person
- Repeating the person’s name out loud and to yourself
- Creating a memorable mental picture associated with the person and their name
Have fun remembering peoples’ names and having them feel important and unique.
Much success and fulfillment with mastering human relations,
* The best guide on effective human relations that I have ever encountered is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. Prior to writing the book, Carnegie spent 20 years researching the habits of successful people. The book has sold over 30 million copies and is still listed on Amazon’s top 100 best selling books.
Other articles within this series you may enjoy: