Wednesday, June 03, 2009

How many relationships are you missing out on because you don’t know people’s names?

Names are everything.

Your name is your truth.
Your name is your identity.
Your name is the very first (and, ideally) the ONLY label that you, as a human being, should be known for.

For that reason, after 3,135 days of wearing a nametag, here's what I've discovered:

When people know each other's names, the rules change.

Wow, Scott, is ALL your material this deep?

I know. Super obvious, right?

Exactly. And if it's obvious to YOU, that also means it's obvious to your customers.

Look. You know names are important.

MY QUESTION IS: Are you practicing that?

Think about it. I guarantee you have somebody in your life right now - a coworker, a customer, some guy that you see at the gym every morning – whom you've "known," maybe even for a few years, but you don't really KNOW – because you have no clue what his name is.

And the problem is, every time you engage with that person, that fact is always in the back of your mind. Bugging you. Driving you crazy. And it prevents you from TRULY connecting.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry was dating a woman whose name he couldn't remember? All he knew was that it rhymed with a female body part. He was going crazy!

First, he began brainstorming with George, trying to come up with it.

Mulva? Celeste? Gipple? Aretha? Moviola?

Next, when Jerry was with this nameless woman, his internal monologue never shut up. He began sneaking through her purse, even asking leading questions, trying to get to the bottom of this interpersonal mystery.

Finally, at the end of the episode, it hits him. He opens his window and screams out into the streets of Manhattan, "DELORES!!"

SO, MY QUESTION IS: What's causing conversational tension in your relationships? What's preventing your relationships from getting started? And how many relationships are you missing out on because you don’t know people’s names?

Sometimes, not knowing a name prevents you from even approaching a person in the first place. This is due to a simple sociological equation:

NO CONFLICT = NO AVOIDANCE.

Yep. More Rocket Surgery.

But this interpersonal truism, simple as it sounds, becomes even more powerful when you reverse it:

MO' CONFLICT = MO' AVOIDANCE.

Who are YOU avoiding? Who's avoiding you? And how many relationships with potentially cool people are you missing out on because of that?

THEREFORE: Names hold the key. Names are the baseline. Names are everything. Names reduce psychological distance between people.

Without a name, you can only get to know someone SO well.
Without a name, there's a relational threshold level you'll never surpass.
Without a name, your relationships will continue to feel awkward and inauthentic.

But.

When people know each other's names, the rules change. And once you get it, make the choice to commit it to memory, and of course, USE that name in conversation, a few cool things start to happen:

You diffuse defensiveness.
You expedite and deepen the connection.
You honor the Truth of each other in that experience.

Interested in making connections and building relationships like that?

Cool. Here's what to do:

1. ADJUST your attitude. Stop convincing yourself that you’re “horrible with names.” This negative attitude will only become a self-fulfilling prophecy that holds you back.

2. ASK for names earlier. The long your wait, the more awkward it gets. Make sure you look the person in the eye for at least three seconds when they say their name. This helps your visual memory store the information accurately.

3. ARTICULATE names often, but not TOO often. Over usage makes people question your intentions. Depending on the length of the conversation, a few times is enough. Don’t overdo it like a rookie insurance salesman who just got out of training and spends his days slinging bunk policies at Chamber meetings.

4. ADMIT your name-related brain farts when they happen. Tell the truth, tell it all and tell it now. Take the blame. It happens to everybody. And make sure to use language like “Will you remind me your name please?” instead of, “What’s your name again?” This keeps the blame on YOU and doesn’t make the other person feel as if they were instantly forgettable.

5. ADVANCE your memory skills. How many books have you read about remembering people’s names? One a year should do the trick. I suggest Ben Levy’s book.

REMEMBER: A person’s name is her identity and her truth.

Take it from a guy whose name NOBODY seems to forget.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How many relationships are you missing out on because you don’t know people’s names?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
For the list called, "10 Effective Ways to Remember People's Names," send an email to me, and I'll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!