Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Remember A Name By First Hearing It

 Mel Forsythe is an easy going insurance salesman. He almost seems to pride himself on the fact that he can’t remember names from one day to the next. He tries to pass this failing off as a joke. It doesn’t work. As a consequence, Mel can’t pride himself on the section of town he lives in, on his yearly income, or on his chances for promotion. What Mel Forsythe doesn’t seem to realize is that there is a close connection between his failure to remember names and his failure to make big money.

There’s another salesman in Mel’s company who knows what it means to remember names. He’s Gary Finnegan, and his income is about three times as high as Mel’s. His future is bright. What’s his memory secret?

“It’s no secret,” says Gary. “There’s one sure way to remember names. It works for me and it pays me cash dividends. Here it is, I listen to a person’s name when I’m introduced to him. Boy how I listen! I figure if I don't hear the name in the first place, i’ll never be able to remember it later. So I listen. I listen hard."

Gary is right. “Listening hard” is the first step in remembering names and faces, and it’s mighty important. If you don’ t ever hear the name in the first place, you will not remember it. Does this seem obvious? Probably. But how many times have you seen two people being introduced. . . One person is staring past the other at a pitcher of martinis, the other is nodding absently and fiddling with his tie clip. Such an introduction is a waste of time. Obviously neither of these people will remember the other’s name, and then they will wonder why!

“I can’t remember names,” says Mel Forsythe. Very likely he doesn’t even listen to names. He doesn’t catch them in the first place.

This rule should he etched in your mind. Listen to names. Listen to them. Ask that the name be repeated if you miss it the first time. Ask the person to spell his name if it is a difficult one. Don’t worry about offending the host or the person to whom you are introduced. Both will be flattered. Both will know that you’re making an honest effort to learn the name.

By all means heed Oliver Wendell Holmes’s words: “A man must get a thing before he can forget it.”

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