The 21st century has brought with it a sensory overload that humans have never faced before. There are days when a lot of people find it daunting to remember their own names, let alone someone else’s. So when they think about attending yet another function, meeting yet another crowd of new people, the sensory overload can be enough to induce a total brain meltdown.
It wasn’t always like this. There was probably at least one time in your life when you actually remembered the name of a person you just met.
Think back to that time.
You saw someone across a crowded room and thought to yourself, “OH! I have got to meet that person!” This might be the person you later married, created a business with, or with whom you became a dear friend.
The remarkable thing about this is that you remembered their name the moment it came out of their mouth!
How did that happen?
There were three elements present that you may not have been conscious of at the time–three elements that will help you to remember anyone’s name – anytime.
1. You were curious.
You were interested.
You were focused.
People ask me all the time if I am using a mnemonic technique to remember people’s names. I don’t use any techniques–I just use those three elements.
As a result, I can typically remember the names (and the faces they go with) of up to 50 people I have just met. In my classes, I teach other people how to do it. They are amazed at how simple it is.
So let’s take it step by step, so you can try it out yourself.
You are curious.
Think about what it’s like when you are curious. For most people, the single most important ingredient of curious is the element of “I wonder.” If you’re unclear about that one, consider it from its opposite: “I’m certain.” When you are certain, your brain is filled up with what you already know–there’s no extra space to discover anything new. When you are wondering, the space is there–enough to discover a new name.
You are interested.
Think about what it’s like when you are interested. It doesn’t matter what you are interested in–interest in anything allows you to receive information in a very direct way.
It’s like your brain is a huge filter for everything about this topic, this place, this person. Interest acts as a filter, because we simply can’t process all the information available to us; we have to choose what gets through. Choosing also sets the filter to automatic, so we don’t have to think about it again. That’s how everything about (our interest) gets right into our brain, the moment it crosses our path.
When you were interested in that person across a crowded room, you could filter out everything else around you–so it felt like no one else was there but you two. Learning a new name is exactly like that–when you are interested, that name makes a direct bee-line to your brain. It’s like a basketball slam-dunk.
You are focused.
Think about what it’s like when you are focused. This is much easier if you are interested–or if you are curious. Focus lets you block out any other information–like shining a spotlight on one thing. If you have a child in soccer or football, focus is what lets you track your girl or boy all around the field, no matter what else is happening or how many others are around.You focus on what you pay attention to–and the name of someone you just met easily fits into that category.
There is one final thing that you probably did with that person you saw across a crowded room–sooner, or later–you introduced him or her to everyone you know. The final step of my strategy–after being curious, interested and focused–is to introduce the new people you meet to each other. It’s amazing what can happen when you do that!