Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What’s in a Name? Increasing Your Sphere of Influence

From extricate.org
You may have heard, “You can tell if you’re a leader by looking behind you and seeing if anybody is following you.”  Really, if nobody is following you in your endeavors, then you might not have a whole lot of influence.  There is a simple way to make sure that at least some people are influenced by your actions and words.  Learn their name.

I’m completely serious about this too.  If you actually learn the names of others, you will see your influence on them increase.  Why? Because others feel important when they are remembered.  It makes them feel good about themselves.  It shows that you made an effort to build a friendship with them.  And people listen to their friends.
Now you are probably saying, “I’m terrible with names!  I can never remember anybody’s name!”  Most people I encounter and discuss this issue with say the same thing.  And I used to say it too. Well, be encouraged! You can change! 

I used to be absolutely horrible with remembering the name of any person I met.  One time, I saw a person I knew at the movie theaters while I was with friends from school.  I started introducing the person to my friends.  After telling all of my friends’ names, I said, “This is . . . a girl from my church . . . and I . . . don’t know your name . . .”
Who does that? Who introduces a person they don’t know?  Right then and there I made a decision to purposely remember others’ names.  I found out a couple things in my attempt to make others feel special (well . . . and really make me not feel stupid . . .)

Why I couldn’t Remember Names – This is the SIMPLEST, yet STUPIDEST thing.  And I bet you’re doing it too.  When it came to introduction time, and the people I was meeting started introducing themselves, I stopped listening.  Not that I checked out, but that I was focused on thinking of the next thing to say!  Because I was thinking about what I was going to contribute to the conversation, I would miss what others were contributing . . . including their names! 
I realized this and started listening to the roll-call with purpose.  When another person was saying their name, my priority was hearing it.  And not just hearing it but trying to think of a way to tie their name to something they were wearing or doing.  “Sally is shopping.” “Mark the musician.” 

How I started Remembering Names – Little tactics like the above tie-in and saying the name five times aloud right after hearing it can be helpful to remember names, but I forget to use the first tactic and the second tactic may not be appropriate in the setting (however, as a aside, I have made a joke about it right after introductions like this:  “Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom . . . If I say it a few times I won’t forget your name.  Tim right?  I’m joking I know it’s Tom.  This actually does help because you’ve made the introduction an event that your mind will remember).

The following strategies will help you remember new names.
Say the First AND Last Name – When you introducing yourself to others, ask the other person their last name.  I know you may think this will compound your ability to remember because now you’re remembering TWO names.  But it doesn’t.  It will give you an extra tie to another thing.  Mark will be easier to remember if you know his name is Mark O’Brian.  It seems counterintuitive, so just try it.

Say the Name several times in the Conversation – Right at the beginning, “Oh, nice to meet you Mark.”  A little later on, “Well, Mark I was going to do this and that . . .” And at the end, “Mark it as great to meet you! Doing this will solidify the name with that person in your memory bank.  It will also show Mark that you know his name and he’ll feel better leaving the conversation.  It’s been said that the sweetest sound to a person’s ears is their name.
So go ahead, make a person feel good.  Drip a little honey in their ears by saying their name a few times.  And make sure you get their first and last name.  Once you start knowing names these people will start liking you, and they’ll start letting you influence them.  And this simple tool will singlehandedly increase your sphere of influence.


1 comment:

  1. That does work. I try to do that now since you taught me that along time ago and I do think it helps me remember peoples names. I think you are also right that it makes you feel good when people remember your name too.