How we interact with and treat other people is a direct reflection of the way we feel about the importance of building and nurturing relationships. The simple feat (yes, it’s a feat!) of asking someone’s name—and then proceeding to call them by it—goes a long way. It tells the other person—even just for a moment in time—that they matter.
They do make a difference.
They are someONE.
Not just SOMEone.
Whether we obtain and retain and use names is directly related to how intentional we are in–and how much we value–our relationships. The more often we use names with the people we encounter, the more people trust us. The more people trust us, the better we set ourselves up for building deeper, more meaningful connections and rapport with humankind. And this is what makes the world go round.
So, How Much Do You Value Relationships?
I’m not talking about relationships with your kids, spouse, friends, and work colleagues. Those are easy. I’m talking about the people we meet, sometimes randomly. On the phone, a video call, or in real life. You know, the ones who may not have a lot of value to us (on the surface) because they’re only in our lives temporarily. Or, with the company they work for, they’re considered low on the ‘totem pole’ so how much difference can they really make? Or because the purpose they serve to us is conditional and/or situational, and the likelihood that we will ever see/hear/meet/need them again is slim to none.
It Sounds Awful When You Put It That Way
Yes, it is awful. And it’s also B.S. But you know what? It’s the truth. Many people actually believe this. I’m not here to condemn those who do, rather just to point out what I observe. And what I’ve also believed myself in the past. And why that’s a huge mistake.
In my opinion, anyone and everyone is a potential connection/friend/customer/lender/partner/helper/resource/you-name-it.
Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of people we come in contact with daily/weekly/monthly/yearly? Like the customer service rep at the local utility company whom you spoke with about your bill last week. Or the front desk agent who checked you into your hotel at your last vacation. And the contractor your general contractor hired to install tile in an upcoming rehab. Do you remember these people’s names? At the very least, if you don’t remember their names right now, did you ask their names—or address them by name once you obtained it—during your encounter with them?
WHAT I’M SAYING IS SIMPLE: The more you value relationships, the more important a name is to you.
In today’s world, despite all the methods of communication we have at our disposal, we are less connected to one another than ever before. I mean truly connected. (Your Instagram and Twitter followers and Facebook friends don’t count.)
Full disclosure: I have never made a list. But if I did, I’m fairly confident I would come up with some obscene number of new people I ‘meet’ every year. And though we are capable of retaining so much more information than we are even aware of, I don’t think it’s necessary to remember every single person’s name, forevermore. That would be total brain overload.
Did you know that just addressing someone by their name genuinely—acknowledging them for whatever they helped you with, however seemingly insignificant—can put a smile on their face? That makes me feel good. How about you?
How do you remember someone’s name?
Step 1: Ask them. Intentionally. And listen.
Step 2: Write their name down, if applicable/appropriate.
Step 3: When someone you’ve never met before introduces themself, try repeating their name back at least once aloud. Sometimes two or three times.
Step 4: Care. Your name matters to you, right? Their name matters to them.
Step 5: It’s more complex than what I can capture in a single blog post. Plus, Jim Kwik explains it so much better than me. 🙂 Read his take here. Or you can listen here.
Admittedly, I still don’t always remember new names, especially in group settings where I’m meeting a lot of new people at the same time. I make every effort however to at least get the name of everyone I encounter in business and my personal life at the time of dealing with them. Why?
- It keeps them accountable
- I can track & remember discussions more effectively
- It shows the person I feel that they matter
- It distinguishes me from the mass of other people who never ask for their name
- I love people
What do you think about this? Agree or disagree? Can you add any recommendations on how to remember people’s names and why it’s so important (or not)? I would love to read your thoughts below!