A critical job skill is to learn and remember names fast, according to the author of a recent book for those starting out or starting over in a career.
"It's critical to show your dedication early in a new job," says Phil Blair. "To establish a good reputation, you must put in the time. Learn names and roles quickly. Arrive early, stay late. Your hours may ease as you begin to understand your responsibilities and find ways to do them better in less time, but in the beginning, it's all about not just showing up, but being there."
Blair is the author of "Job Won! 500,000 Hires and Counting" (Author House, 2013). For more than three decades he has co-owned Manpower San Diego, the largest Manpower franchise in the U.S. His firm is San Diego's fourth largest for-profit employer, providing approximately 3,500 jobs daily.
Blair says everybody likes having his or her name remembered. It indicates they've made an impression on you, that they were worth your devoting a few neural circuits to remembering them. You may meet a lot of people. It may be hard to remember all of their names, but try.
There are many ways and resources to improve your memory for names. A quick surf of the Internet reveals scores of websites with advice. Here are a few quick tips:
1. Be interested. Pay conscious attention when first introduced. Don't let the name just wash away.
2. Verify it. Casually repeat the name back. Ask how it's spelled if the name is unusual. If you're at a conference or place where people wear name tags, check the tag. Don't be shy to admit you're just trying to fix that person's name in your head. They'll appreciate the effort.
3. Imagine their name written on their forehead. That was Franklin Roosevelt's favorite mnemonic device. Use different colors of imaginary ink.
4. Write their names in your head. Watch your hand forming the letters.
5. Use word associations. If someone's name is Hattie, imagine them wearing a stack of hats on their head. If their name is Jack, imagine them hammering away outside with a big, noisy pneumatic jack. If their name is Arnold, imagine them saying, "Hasta la vista, baby." Whatever works.
6. Use names frequently. Once you know somebody's name, use it soon and often. Don't be too obvious or obnoxious about it (you don't want to sound like a salesman), but a few uses should get the name into a groove you'll easily recall.
7. Record names in a file you can easily call up, such as a contacts list on your cell phone. Review the file regularly, maybe every time you update it with a new name. Peruse it whenever you anticipate being in a place or situation where you're likely to meet people whose names you should know or remember.
"If you ask people what their favorite word in the English language is, they will always hesitate and become introspective," says Blair. "But research has shown that our favorite word is our own name. When you meet people, use their name repeatedly as a way to help remember it. When you say good morning to someone, add their name at the beginning or end. You will see them visibly perk up. People appreciate the recognition and familiarity of other people using their names. You will see lots of long-term dividends."
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