What’s in a Name? Everything!:
Five Rules to Help You Remember
By Joe Takash
well-known Ivy League school, a new, prestigious science building
was to be built on the north end of campus. The price: $260 million
dollars. Three major construction companies were neck and neck to
win the job, make a large profit and add this esteemed institution
to their client list. The decision would come down to the sales
primary decision maker for Ivy U, Dr. Alice Dvorak, made an unusual
request. She asked all contractors sit through each other’s
presentations and address the selection committee in front of one
another. Securing the business could mean many years of Ivy U
projects, so each of them complied. The first two presentations went
fine with each contractor discussing the construction logistics and
how their “unique” approach to building was better than the rest.
Then, the general manager for the third contractor began his
Dvorak, Mr. Avery, President Chambers, Vice President Allen and
Madam Jameson, my name is Robert Small and on behalf of Elliott
Construction Company, we are honored to be considered for the
Leonard T. Abraham School of Sciences’ project.”
moment, the energy changed. There was a warmth in Robert Small’s
approach. He smiled, had a friendly, confident tone and looked each
committee member in the eyes. But the difference was that Robert
Small (who became very tall) addressed everyone, as well as the
project itself, by name.
you at remembering people’s names?
Not so hot
are like most people, you’ve checked off either B or C. What
typically comes next is a litany of excuses like, “I’m good with
faces, but not names,” or “I just have a block and I’ll never be
good.” So why is it that you can meet someone, learn his or her
name, and four seconds later, smile at them while thinking to
yourself, “I have no idea what your name is”? Or why is that you’d
rather yell out a random nickname like “Hey Big Shooter!” instead of
saying “I’m sorry, please tell me your name again” when you forget a
are a plethora of reasons why we forget names, but truth is, none of
them matter. Your connection with the people whose names you can’t
recall are far weaker than with those whose names you do remember.
The following are five tips to help you remember names. They are
simple in theory, but require practice, commitment and repetition.
The results are well worth it for your business and your career.
#1 Ask people for names: How many times have you been to the
same church, bar or gym, see the same people and never bother to
introduce yourself? Think of the personal connections and
professional opportunities you could be passing up! When it comes
asking people’s names, simply think , “jump in the water it’s not
that cold.” Be an initiator and approach others with courage on
the outside, no matter how you feel inside.
#2 Spell and pronounce names correctly: These are paired
together because they require similar efforts in clarifying, (not
assuming), for accuracy. I was once introduced to speak to five
hundred people in the following manner: “Ladies and gentlemen,
please welcome Mr. Joe Takass” (instead of Takash). This is not a
lie. Taking time to assure the correct spelling and pronunciation is
something to attend to in fine detail.
#3 Ask again when you forget: This may be the best but most
underused tool. Chances are, all of us forget names immediately 80
percent of the time. By asking people again and again, you are
simply informing them that you want to value them and their name is
an attachment to that value. If the person gets upset simply tell
him or her, “I’m very sorry, I just want to respect you by getting
your name correctly.” It’s hard to argue with that.
#4 Remember! To lock names into your mental hard drive, use all
tools possible. This can include rhymes like “Dan the man” or
associations like “Rhonda from Reno.” Remembering requires an
eclectic effort. Write names down, repeat them out loud, repeat them
to yourself. Work hard and you will get in better name shape.
#5 Use them or lose them: In writing, on the phone or in person,
use people’s names. When your name is called as someone who
contributed to the success of a great team effort, it feels great.
When your daughter’s name is on the Dean’s List, it looks like a
work of art. Knowing names increases your confidence, makes others
feel great and is a competitive advantage in business.
case of Robert Small’s presentation to Ivy U, names have been
changed to protect confidentiality. However, I know a construction
person who bid on very similarly priced project with a very similar
approach. Now, it is unrealistic that using people’s names could win
a $260 million dollar project. Clearly, experience, knowledge and
professional pedigrees must apply. However, a week after the
presentation, he received a formally written letter that read, “Dear
Robert, congratulations! All competitors were very impressive and
capable of building this project, but we’ve selected Elliott
Construction because we believe your personal connection and sense
of team is what will make this a highly successful partnership.”
what’s in a name? Everything!
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