The ABCs will help you remember names

The best part of being a new mom is choosing the child’s name. The name that they will live with for the rest of their life. I hope they like what I chose.

When I was younger, I wanted to have three girls. Their names would be Laura Lynn, Linda Lynn and Lynn Linda. Are these not the most beautiful names that you have ever heard? Albeit, these names are beautiful, my husband did not appreciate my creativity.

It kills me when people cannot remember my kids’ names. Or our last name is mispronounced (hint: Long ‘o’ sound). Or my first name is spelled wrong. Our names are so personal. They look and sound beautiful to us. I am always impressed and honored when someone does remember these details.

When I become irritated, I am quickly reminded how challenging it is to remember names, as I greet someone impersonally with “Hi there!” It never fails. When I need to remember a name, my brain goes blank.

I have learned that repetition helps cement any name or detail into my mind. This is why I can remember all of my teachers’ names — kindergarten through sixth grade.

But what about those people who you do business with or those you are connected with on LinkedIn? You might interact with them once per month. You might see their posts more frequently. How do you keep their name handy when you need to greet them?

Jim Kwik, a brain performance coach, teaches to immediately use a name in a sentence. Hearing yourself say the name will make it memorable for you. Jim also teaches to create an association to the new name. For example: I met Jim at my son’s basketball game in the GYM.

As great as these ideas are, they do not always work for me. I have created another tool that I like to call the ABC method to help my brain find the name. When I am unable to recall a name I go through the alphabet. For each letter, I think of male or female names that begin with that letter. Something connects in my brain when I reach the letter that starts the first name. Now I need to find the correct name.

For example, I recently drove past a customer’s house and remembered that I need to respond to her email. For the life of me, I could not put a name to “her.” She just emailed me and I cannot think of her name.

I immediately started with “A,” thinking of Alice, Amanda, Angela. No, that’s not it. “B,” Betty, Bridgette, Brenda. No, not that letter either. This process continued until I reached “G.” Yes, “G.” Gina. There it is. The ABC method works.

That same day I was trying to remember a high school friend’s mom’s name. While reviewing the alphabet, I knew that “J” was my letter and I knew that her name was not a common name like Jessica or Jennifer. Maybe Janice or Joyce. That was not right.

My answer did not come to me at the moment that I was searching. It was three hours later, when I was on a walk, that I suddenly blurted out “Jean!” The ABC method works again.

We need to be fair to ourselves. We cannot and should not remember every name of every person that we meet. We need to put our energy into who is connecting with us now.

We need to create a useful retrieval method so that we can recall names when we need them. If your photographic memory ever fails you, keep the ABC method handy.