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7 Secrets to Use to Remember Names

7 Secrets to Use to Remember Names

The mind is a very strange thing. It can remember the lyrics to a song we haven’t heard in ten years, but, unless we consciously work to remember it, our brain can’t recall the name of a person we just met, even if they’re still standing right in front of us. Of course, it’s incredibly difficult to consciously remember a name while simultaneously paying attention to the conversation at hand. We suggest employing some psychological tricks to make sure you remember names of everyone you meet and never forget them for the next time you run into each other.

1. Use the names often

When you meet someone, you’re most likely going to be introduced by a common friend or colleague. Resist the urge to just say “Nice to meet you,” and take it a step further, saying “Nice to meet you, Karen.” Try to sneak their name into conversation as often as possible (without sounding silly, of course). Not only should you repeat their name, but you should also make the effort to get to know them a bit more. Doing so not only humanizes them in your own eyes, but also helps make you aware that you’ll be seeing them again, and therefore their name is worth remembering.

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2. Stay focused on the present

When engaged in a multi-person conversation, your mind is bound to wander at some point. (Especially if you’re in a meeting at work, am I right?). Consciously avoid allowing your mind to wander, especially when you’ve just met a new person. You don’t want your boss to introduce you to someone, and then have to say “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” almost immediately. It will give off the impression that you either weren’t listening when your boss was speaking, or that you’re absent-minded. When in social situations, your head should always be on a swivel, anyway. Keep your head in the game!

3. Think back to the moment you met

If you took the first piece of advice about using the name often, you’ll be able to use that moment to your advantage later on in conversation. It will be much easier to remember names when you recall saying “Nice to meet you, Karen” than it will be to remember your boss saying “Matt, I want you to meet Karen.” Just be careful that you don’t get lost in the conversation while trying to relive the beginning of it!

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4. Associate it with a feature

Pick something out about the person you just met and connect it to their name. Or make up a silly rhyme about them in your head (just don’t let them know about the rhyme). Using a mnemonic is definitely a last-ditch effort, but if it works, it works. If you’re put in the unfortunate position of meeting more than one person at a time, check out their clothing and other features; use the color of their tie, their hair, beard, anything at all that could help. In your head, call them “Grey suit Mike” or “Brown tie Robert.” Just make sure to drop the modifier when you say their names aloud. And remember: They won’t be wearing the same thing next time you see them, so try to get their names down by the end of the first meeting.

5. Study their face

This one can be a little rude, but as long as you keep it to yourself, you should be okay. Everyone is unique in some way, so pick of the person’s unique quality and associate it with their name. Steve with the glasses, Rob with the bald spot. Like I said, it’s not exactly the most polite thing to do, but if it helps, use it. And, unlike using their clothing, they’ll most likely look the same the next time you see them. (And if not, you can always use the old “I hardly recognized you without your glasses!” trick).

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6. Cross-reference their name with another person

If you happen to know anyone with that same name, picture the two of them meeting up and hanging out. Picture them doing something you know your friend is into; if your friend Mike likes to golf, and you just met someone else named Mike, picture them both golfing together. When you take new information in and associate it with information your brain already knows, it makes it easier to solidify the new in your mind.

7. Work on it consciously

Like I said before, when you meet someone new, you should work under the assumption that you’ll be seeing them again soon. Don’t let their name out of your head just because the meeting is over. Review the important points of your conversation, so you have more to remember the person by. Since you’ll know more than just their name after having a conversation with them, it should be easier to remember them as a whole person.

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Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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