Imrove Your Memory By Association To Better Remember Names
Anchoring the Name by Association
Our fourth, and last, basic principle for remembering names and faces is memory by association. We must anchor a new name to our minds by as many other related facts, pictures, or impressions as we can hitch to it.
Let us imagine, for example, that I lead you into a room full of people and introduce you to four men in succession— Mr. Graham, Mr. Singleton, Mr. Tucker, and Mr. Wetherby. If you are making no effort to catch these names as I introduce you, three of these men will remain complete blanks to you. The fourth name, however—Wetherby—will crash in your consciousness like a cymbal. Why? Simply because your mother’s maiden name happened to be Wetherby, your own middle name is Wetherby, and somewhere in the country, to your certain knowledge, you have a large assortment of uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews, all named Wetherby.
Maybe this Wetherby is one of your clan. You can’t help noticing that name, and you have no difficulty whatever in remembering it, because it has been firmly established in your mind since earliest childhood, and is anchored there by hundreds of associations.
Let’s suppose, on the other hand, that your mother’s name wasn’t Wetherby, and that you’ve never known a single Wetherby in your life. Then the name means nothing more to you than any other three-syllable name, and you will have to apply every rule in the game to remember it. You will have to build up an artificial association. But how can you do it?
The easiest and best way would be to form a mental picture. What does the sound of the name suggest to you? WEATHER-BEE. Instantly you see Mr. Wetherby out in stormy weather, trying to beat off the attack of an angry bee. You see this picture as you study his face, as you repeat his name, as you apply the other rules we have been discussing. Even as you are shaking hands and saying, “How do you do, Mr. Wetherby,” your mind may already be flashing the mental picture with which it will always associate the name Wetherby.
Don’t get the erroneous idea that applying these rules is going to take so much time and thought that you won’t have any left over to devote to conversation. Once you have mastered the rules thoroughly, you will find that the application of them becomes second nature. After all, it doesn’t take time to analyze a man’s face, for you have to look at him while you are talking to him, anyway. And it doesn’t take time to repeat his name, for it is only courtesy to address him when you speak to him. And you will find that picture associations, in just the same way, will occur to you naturally, without interruption of your other thoughts.
Let us go back, however, to our imaginary gathering. You now know Mr. Wetherby, but you become suddenly conscious of the fact that, although you met three other men, you don’t know one of their names. I repeat them to you again—Mr. Graham, Mr. Singleton, and Mr. Tucker. Understanding a little more now about the principle of association, you turn your imagination loose. In less than one minute by the clock you have all three names down pat—all done by association. Something like this:
Mr. Graham: Graham crackers. Graham bread. Gray ham. With the speed of a lightning flash, your mind shows you a picture of Mr. Graham munching on Graham crackers while he slices off a piece of gray ham to put between the Graham bread. You have hooked Mr. Graham’s name up with the name of a nationally known product which was already established in your mind.
Mr. Singleton: Mr. Singleton is single, he’s a bachelor. He’s a singular man. He sings only one note, a single tone. See Mr. Singleton all alone, single, singing one note, a single tone. Mr. Singleton.
Mr. Tucker: Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper. Mr. Tucker is a fat man. He has to tuck in his waistline. See him tucking in his waistline while he sings for his supper.
It goes without saying that you must be careful to tie up each one of these associations with the right person, or naturally you will begin to confuse one with the other. Name alone is not enough. Face, name, and mental picture must all be parts of one whole impression.
You will doubtless recall that when we were discussing association in connection with the Mental Filing System, we emphasized the fact that a lot of these mental pictures seem pretty ridiculous in the cold light of day. Some people are squeamish about remembering new friends by such absurd and farfetched associations, because they feel there is something basically rude about it. But let me remind you that forgetting a man’s name is ruder still, and that naturally you are not going up to Mr. Graham and explain candidly that you remember his name by picturing him eating Graham crackers! While it is tactful to remember a man’s name by any means at your disposal, it is more tactful still to keep those means to yourself.
When several associations occur to you, as they frequently will, don’t throw away one because another one seems better. So far as association is concerned, it’s a case of the more the merrier. Two hooks, or associations, are better than one, and three are better than two. You will realize this at once if you think of these associations as floating buoys by which to locate the thing you want to remember, and with which you want to pull it up to the surface of your mind.
When we meet a man for the first time, therefore, we would do well to keep our eyes and ears open for the following possibilities in the line of association:
1. Do we know somebody else by the same name?
This need not be a personal friend. We are familiar with hundreds of names of celebrities, politicians, movie stars, big businessmen, historical characters, fictional characters, and even nationally advertised products, which easily lend themselves to rapid and vivid associations. How, for example, would you associate the name of a man who happened to be called: Heinz, Jolson, Morgan, Gable, Wooll-cott, Ripley, Chrysler, Booth, Peary, Ford, Coolidge, Hamilton, Lee, Vanderbilt, Dickens, London, Firestone, Chaplin, Jefferson, Thackeray, Winchell, Stimson, Van Doren?
2. Do we know anything about the man himself?
If we know nothing about him in advance, frequently a few minutes’ conversation will bring out many background facts, which will prove helpful—his business, birthplace, home address, hobbies, etc. Mr. Stone may be a contractor; Mr. Evans may have been born in Evansville, Indiana; Mr. Woods may live on Grove Street; Mr. Parr may play golf. These illustrations may seem hand-picked, but you will actually encounter such combinations rather frequently if you are on the lookout for them.
3. Does he resemble anyone else?
Again, this doesn’t have to be a personal friend of yours. A man without a chin may remind you at once of Andy Gump. The salesman with the big nose may look, if not act, like Jimmy Durante. The little man with the domineering wife may bring to mind Mr. Milquetoast. The ambitious boy just out of college may wear horn-rimmed glasses that immediately suggest Harold Lloyd. These physical characteristics will help you to remember the face by association, but you must be careful to fasten the name securely with other strings.
4. Can you connect the name with a slogan, an allusion, or a familiar quotation?
This is easier to do, of course, if you have a natural flair for puns. Here are a few illustrations I chose at random from among the membership of the Sales Executives Club of New York City:
Kaufman—Not a cough in a carload.
Camp—Tenting tonight on the old camp ground.
Hastings—Haste makes waste. The battle of Hastings.
Lane—Swingin’ down the lane. It’s a long lane that has no turning.
Cobb—Corn on the cob, (Also Ty Cobb, Irvin Cobb.)
Kelly—Anybody here seen Kelly? Burg—Ice burg SOS.
Ballew—”The wind she ballew lak hurricane.”
Sands—Footsteps in the sands of time.
Hull—The hull truth and nothing but the hull truth.
Arthur—King Arthur and his Round Table.
Boyle—A watched kettle never boils.
Shaw—Shaw me the way to go home. (Also G. B. Shaw.)
Lowen—-”The lowen herd winds slowly o’er the lea.”
Stech—A stech in time saves nine.
Surface—Save the surface and you save all.
5. Does the name lend itself readily to impromptu rhymes of your own making?
Making up nonsensical rhymes is not only a lot of fun, but you are apt to take such pride in the authorship that forgetting them becomes a psychological impossibility.
Mr. Barton smokes a carton.
Mr. Dewey’s full of hooey.
Mrs. Shelton’s got a belt on,
Mr, Hallett wields a mallet.
Mr. Hughes chews.
Mr. Hawes makes the laws.
Mr, Rand beats the band.
Mr, McLean is always clean.
Mr. Siegel sees an eagle.
Miss Raleigh is oh so jolly.
6. Can you make a mental picture of the name?
This, of course, is what we did with Mr. Wetherby, Mr. Graham, Mr. Singleton, and Mr. Tucker. Long names which seem to mean nothing in their entirety can frequently be broken up into syllables which do mean something and prove a stimuli for increasing memory by association. For example, the students in one of my classes found it practically impossible to remember the name Bowkowski. I told them to break the name up into syllables—BOW-KOW-SKI, and imagine Mr. Bowkowski bowing to a cow with skis on. This is about as mad as mental association can get, but no one had trouble with the name after that. Another of my classes had difficulty in remembering a student with a French name—Antoine. When this name is pronounced quickly, it sounds something like Ant-wine. So we imagined Mr. Antoine picking ants out of his wine! The picture—and the name—clicked.
These are only six out of an infinite number of ways of anchoring a name by association. More will occur to you as you put this fourth rule into use. Unlike the first three, this last rule is one you can work on even after you have left the presence of the new face. The more you do it, the more sure you may be of retaining the name. So don’t overlook the value of Rule Four: Anchor the Name by Association,
This fourth rule has a special use which I’d like to pass on to you. You may invoke it to make others remember your name. If you can find an unusual way to make a potential client or customer remember your name before any other in your field, you will improve your chance of succeeding with him. Giving a prospect your card may be a good idea, but every one else does that too, and the recipient usually throws it away. If you can anchor your name in his mind through memory by association, you’ll be more likely to bear from him again.
RULE ONE (Attention): GET THE NAME RIGHT.
RULE TWO (Repetition): RAP THE NAME IN BY REPETITION.
RULE THREE (Observation): FASTEN THE FACE IN YOUR MIND.
RULE FOUR (Association): ANCHOR THE NAME BY ASSOCIATION.
Incoming search terms:
- How can you imrove you mind