Remember the names - it's your job
I was bad at names. On average, I was able to remember your name only after I talked to you in person twice, send you an email and talked to you on Slack. I always had a very good excuse for it: I am just bad at remembering names.
I didn’t even feel embarrassed or guilty when I hadn’t remembered the name. I was working in my former job for a long time. I belong to the old crew, a group of people that know each other very well as there were much fewer people in the company these days and I had a lot of relationships established over time. I didn’t really feel the difference between being good or bad at names. It was unconscious but bad.
When I changed the job to Intercom, I knew that there are over 200 people in the Dublin’s office and having relationships is crucial for my onboarding and progress. It took me three days to find out that my old excuse, I am just bad at remembering names, is not enough and I am missing a lot. I realized how restrictive it is when you are new at the company and unable to freely talk to the same person you have met yesterday - it impacts your possibilities.
I made a commitment to change it. There is a lot of good content on the Web about what techniques to apply when you want to get better at remembering names. I found out that these four things significantly improved my memory:
- I put a lot of pressure to be focused when listening to introductions. Forget about everything else, make sure that you actually listen.
- Repeat the name out loud once, and at least twice in your head
- Write down the name as soon as you have a chance - it might on your smartphone, notebook or laptop. Just try to have a log of people you met.
- Use the person name whenever you greet - even if you are just passing by. Actually, using people names in front of them makes them more focused and aware of the environment. And according to Dale Carnegie, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”.
Of course, I still forget names from time to time. But I must say, I have never remembered so many names in so short time before.
For each of us, remembering names will be beneficial and will improve the relationships with newly met people. Very often, especially when changing job or team, the speed of making these relationships directly impacts your performance. Especially if you are a manager or senior contributor - forgetting the name is not neutral. It is harmful to the morale. Remembering the names is your job.
If you are interested in more detailed content about remembering names check out: