Using someone’s name is arguably the easiest and most basic means of initiating a relationship and establishing a rapport. The sooner you use someone’s name and the more often you use it initially, the quicker you break through the fundamental fog of unfamiliarity such that strangers rapidly become acquaintances and acquaintances potentially become friends.
I often expect people to not remember my name, perhaps because it’s not a conventional one or sadly because I’m not especially memorable or a bit of both, so when someone who I’ve just met supplements a question or prefigures some snippet of conversation by using my name, I naturally warm to them. Maybe I even feel obliged to reciprocate. I’m fairly certain, or rather hope that this feeling is not utterly unique and peculiar to myself revealing some sort of low self-esteem insecurity.
Therefore, as I mention under tips in ‘Group Exercises’, when you’re thrown into an assessment centre or group situation where a familiar face is often lacking, take real stock of people’s names and use them. The warmth will flow and you’ll feel more comfortable for it. I can’t make people necessarily remember my name and use it, but by knowing and using others’ I almost feel like I’m establishing a bond whether they like it or not which ultimately contributes to a feeling of ease and familiarity which hopefully translates to confidence.
In addition to creating that rapport, from an external perspective, if you are using people’s names assessors are more likely to adopt an impression of you that leans readily towards a team player, a facilitator and someone who quickly builds relationships; especially if you’re confidently using 4+ people’s names in a group exercise when you only met them an hour ago. If everyone’s bandying names about, then great, this is a confident and comfortable team. If you’re the only one putting names to faces, then you’re a strong confident binding agent. Obviously, using names is only one aspect amidst all the other great team-working skills, but it is nevertheless a simple and very effective ‘tool’ that’s just too easy to leave unused.
But I’m rubbish with names!
Yes, because you choose to be rubbish with names. I used to be rubbish with names. The one change I made, was to make a conscious effort to remember names. Simple. Too often you’re worried about saying your name or shaking hands that you completely blank out the other person’s. Just by concentrating on the person’s name, you’re likely to remember it. Try also repeating it as soon as you hear it. Maybe write it down. Use it when you ask that person a question. Repeating the name 2-3 times within a short space of time, you stand a better chance of remembering it as it typically logs itself quite nicely in your mind from then on.
So don’t neglect the simple power of using someone’s name. Just don’t overdo it and don’t take any liberties with nicknames unless given permission.
[As always, please share your thoughts]