I shamelessly enjoy telling the following story. Shameless because the story gives people the perception that I’m smart. But it is true. What is true? The story, not the perception that I’m smart.
So let’s go to the story. This time, I’ll lift it from another article I wrote titled “How to Develop a Photographic Memory“ in October 2020:
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“We were all new international students on campus, so to help us adjust to the new school and country the university organised a rich and fun orientation week.
“So other than driving around the many cultural sites in the country, we also sat in halls to receive presentations. During one of those sessions, we were asked to say something that made each person special. When it came to my turn, I said I had a very good memory. ”And to demonstrate that, I can recall everyone’s name after they introduced themselves once.
“This was a huge departure from the boring introductions. So the hall immediately accepted the challenge. But still, they didn’t know what I was going to do, therefore, they were underwhelmed. Probably they were thinking: ”Is this a joke? What does he mean he would remember everyone’s name – as many as we are?”
“But it is said that the test of the pudding is in the eating. So everyone started introducing themselves. Basically, ”my name is blah blah blah.”
“I paid attention to each person’s introduction and worked the magic of associating the names with the unique features of their faces. Which was quite a challenge since many names I had not heard in my life.
“So after everyone had introduced themselves, each person would stand and say ‘what is my name?’
“It sort of became a reverse introduction. Whenever I said a name, there would be big applause.
“So I said everyone’s name except that of one plucky guy. ”What is my name?” He taunted me. I searched everywhere in my brain, but couldn’t find his name. I tried again, but it was no use. When he decided I had suffered enough, he revealed his secret: ”You couldn’t remember my name because I didn’t tell you my name!”
Today, I’m going to teach you more or less the method I used that day.
Imagine someone walks up to you and tells you their name. What do you do? Think of someone you know who has the same name. Many of us already do this with some names. For instance, a lady says “my name is Fatima.”
This excites you because Fatima is your mother’s name.
So you slip that fact into a conversation with her and tell her “I will never forget your name because that’s my mom’s name!”
Accordingly, you never forget her name.
The sad thing is, you don’t do this with everyone. But the right thing is to do it with everyone. Because any name should remind you of a name you already know. It can be the names of your parents, your wife, your children, your friends, your colleagues, leaders, fictional characters and so forth.
What if you meet someone whose name you’re hearing for the first time? You can link and work that too into a conversation. “Interesting. I don’t know anyone with this name but it sounds like …”
So two steps.
Link the name to that of ONE particular person you already know and are familiar with. Picture this familiar person as you look at the face of the new acquaintance.
You should note that it is best to stick to one person. For example, if a person tells you that his name is Faruk. You have many friends named Faruk, so you think about all of them to remember this person’s name. I can almost guarantee that you would forget the name. Stick to one person. One Faruk.
Work the name into a conversation. “Your name is Mercy? The last Mercy I know was my classmate in primary school. She was smart and very thin – the thinnest in the class.”
What if the situation doesn’t warrant a conversation? No problem. Have the conversation in your head.
Let’s say I’m introduced to someone called Baba.
Step 1. I will link to a Baba that I already know. But I know many. I called my father Baba. My children call me Baba. But in this case, the image of Baba that pops into my head is that of my friend. So I will stick to only that and thank my brain for the assistance.
Step 2. Since I can’t have a conversation with this person, I will have it with myself. “His name reminds me of my friend Baba. But we also call him Bello. What are the chances that this guy is also named Bello? Also, Baba’s face is round while this guy’s oval. And while he is fair, my new friend is dark.”
All this can happen within a split second in your mind.
So it is as simple as that. Link a new name to the old and work it into a conversation. But practice will make it permanent.
First published Janaury 1, 2022