Great Leaders Remember Names
I have to admit that it might be a silly pet peeve of mine, but I don’t like to be addressed by “hey.” Or “How are you?” instead of “How are you Mike?”
This can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe they forgot my name. Or possibly they are not sure how to address me given several formal titles I have had in the past. But I have a feeling it is just simply easier for some not to take the time to remember.
Is it important for a leader to address someone by their name? I say of course it is! Think of how you feel when someone you look up to remembers your name. What if your CEO or other senior leader remembered your name when passing you in the hall? It feels good when people remember who we are.
I would suggest if you aren’t comfortable, for whatever reason, in addressing others by their name, then get comfortable. Start by addressing your friends by their names and work from there.
If you have a difficult time remembering names, then here are a few tips that are helpful, and have worked for me.
1. Really Listen. Often times we don’t remember names because we don’t care enough to listen.
2. Verify and Repeat. “Do you like to be called Pam or Pamela?” Or “Do you prefer Dr. Morris or Ted?” Ask how people like to be addressed and then repeat it in your head several times.
3. Imagine it. Picture the name of the person you are talking to on their forehead. It really works!
4. Word Associate it. This is one of my favorites. Simply associate the person’s name with someone you know with the same name, an object, an animal, a place, a thing or whatever else will help you remember their name. I have found that the sillier the word association the better.
5. Frequently Use The Name. Another one of my favorites is to use the person’s name in the conversation as much as is reasonably possible.
From time to time you might get someone’s name wrong. That’s okay, it happens. It’s happened to me a number of times. The benefits are bigger than the risks. I would rather come across as a leader who cares, is interested and connected than someone who is distant, not connected, aloof, non-caring and maybe even rude.
It might seem like a minor thing on the surface, but remembering someone’s name can make a big difference.
Do you feel it is important to address someone by their name? Why or why not? Do you have any additional tips that are helpful in remembering others names?
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