Repitition Is The Key To Remembering Names
After you have observed Rule One: Get the Name Right, you must apply Rule Two: Remember the name by Repetition.
While you are talking to your new acquaintance, use his name as frequently as you can. Tack it on the end of sentences; begin your remarks to him by addressing him directly by name. Each time you speak his name aloud, you are driving it by one more hammer blow deeper into your memory. If it happens that other people are carrying on the conversation, and you cannot repeat the name aloud, then at least try saying it over and over again to yourself while you are studying your new acquaintance’s features and general appearance.
And finally, when you take leave of him, use his name once more as you say good-by. Don’t just say, “Glad to have met you,” and let it go at that. Give him a royal send-off. Say, “Glad to have met you, Mr. Newsom. I hope we shall meet again.” Take a final look at Mr. Newsom, at the same time making a heroic resolution that the next time you see that face, you will know that it belongs to Mr. Newsom—spelled N-E-W-S-O-M—and to no other person in the world. Stop. Did you look at Mr. Newsom? If not, do it now.
I can’t impress upon you too strongly the importance of this principle of repetition. In the beginning, you will have to make a conscious effort to apply it, but as times goes on, you will find yourself doing it automatically. If you don’t bother to repeat a name over and over—if you “trust to your memory” after hearing a name only once—you are not playing fair with yourself. You are not giving your memory a break; you are not “exercising” the new impression you want your mind to seize upon and retain for your future reference.
Many people who know from experience that they must give their memories every possible kind of assistance actually go so far as to write a new name down as soon as they get an opportunity. Napoleon III used this method with outstanding success. He attained the throne only after a political struggle, and realized that one way of enhancing his popularity and strengthening his position was to pay his subjects the subtle compliment of never forgetting their names. Therefore, as soon as he found himself alone after an audience, he wrote the name on a slip of paper, studied it a moment with undivided attention, and threw away the paper.
This technique is undoubtedly successful, but it is not practical enough for our general use. I think most of us would do better to rely on the homespun method of repeating the name aloud as often as we can while we are with its owner, and trying to visualize it in our minds as we do so. By all means write it down later, if you have a chance to do so. Maybe you would like to keep a record of all the new people you meet.
Even after we have repeated the name a number of times and perhaps written it out, we can give our memories one more jolt. We can review the name at any point later in the day when we collect our reminiscences of the day’s events. It is a valuable technique endorsed by Theodore Roosevelt himself. Think of that man who came to your office early this afternoon. Remember his appearance and manner; and, most important, repeat his name to yourself to remember the name for a long time to come .
A salesman can make good use of this rule of repetition and review to fix in his mind the many people he meets in a sales call. One of the best salesmen I know, a man in the hosiery business, applies it in every store he visits. He goes out of his way to remember not only the names of the buyer and assistant buyer, but the names and faces of the salespeople as well. He does it by saying the names over to himself after he leaves the store—Mr. Johnson, Miss Carter, Mrs. Franklin, Miss Bryce. It’s an effort, but he knows it’s worth it.
His competitor, on the other hand, doesn’t trouble himself to remember anyone but the buyer, the person who signs the orders. Accordingly, when a customer asks which line of hosiery is the better, whose line do you think the salesgirl pushes—the line of the salesman who rushes past her to interview the buyer, or that of the man who stops by her counter to say, “Hello there, Miss Carter? How are things going today?”
The extra minutes you spend reviewing the names of people you meet are the minutes that will mean money to you eventually.
Since repetition is so vitally important, let’s turn back once more to the photograph of Mr. Newsom. You will be asked to recognize him when you encounter him in the picture tests later on, so pause for a moment to do these three things:
- Study the photograph carefully.
- Repeat the name aloud five times.
- Write the name on a piece of paper.
Remember, if you want to remember the name, there is no rule more important than Rule Two: Rap the Name in by Repetition.