1. Pay Attention. As you are introduced to your new coworkers, pay very close attention to each person’s name. You will probably form an impression of each person, so mentally associate the name with something that will help you remember. For example, you might think, “Hal can be my pal,” “Mary seems rather contrary,” or “Steven appears to be even tempered.” These examples rhyme, but they don’t have to. “Janice the organizer” and “Kip the smiley-faced guy” are helpful associations.
2. Repeat. As soon as the other person’s name is said, look him or her in the eye and repeat it in the most natural way possible. Something like, “It’s nice to meet you, Taylor,” or “I look forward to working with you, Shannon,” are examples of how you can do this. If the person’s name is unusual, you might even comment on its uniqueness. Continue saying the person’s name in your mind and try to use it once more in conversation.
3. Association. Find something to associate the person with his or her name. For example,... if the person’s name is Mark, imagine him being a marksman. Picture Angela as an angel with a halo over her head. During the conversation, pick up on clues to help you remember their names. If nothing obvious comes to mind, use alliteration. Examples of these techniques include Gary plays golf, Sheila enjoys shopping, or Mandy likes milkshakes.
4. Use Songs. Use songs to help remember people’s names. When you meet someone whose name is in the title of a song you’re familiar with, play the first line of the tune in your mind. Examples of this are “Barbara Ann,” “Wendy,” and “Gloria.”
5. Mental Image. As soon as the person is introduced, imagine him or her wearing a nametag directly beneath the chin. Each time you see that person try to conjure up that image. Eventually, the nametag will fade from your memory, and your coworker’s name will be indelibly etched in your mind.
6. Use Your Name as an Example. If your name is unusual, difficult to pronounce, or spelled differently, make a production of helping others with it. Give them a tool to remember how to pronounce it. For example, if your name is Siobhan, pronounced Shiv-on, demonstrate a shiver and then add “on.” Others may pick up on the cue to do the same with their own names, helping you remember.
7. Jot It Down. As soon as you get to your desk, write down the names you remember. Add other information to jog your memory, such as, “Lisa in the next cubicle,” or “Alex by the copy machine.” Other information you may want to jot down includes their position, how their jobs relate to yours, and personal interests that come up in conversation.
8. If in Doubt, Ask. As soon as you realize you can’t remember a person’s name, ask. Doing this early in your working relationship is better than waiting until you’ve been there a month. Most people understand that you have quite a bit to remember your first few days or weeks, so they’re not as likely to be offended as they would be later.
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