Updated: Feb 28
How to not forget people's names two minutes after they tell you.
I’m currently taking the Recall Masterclass from Kwik Learning right now, and as part of the homework, I am to teach what I learned each class to other people. The class is taught by Jim Kwik, a renowned brain coach. Since I’m a blogger, I’d like to share my notes with all of you. I hope you can use the knowledge and practice the methods to improve your memory as well.
Class 2: Remembering Names
It probably goes without saying that remembering names is very important. If we forget someone’s name, it tells them we don’t care about them or respect them. On the contrary, if we can remember someone’s name, especially when most people can’t, then we leave a great impression on others and make them feel important.
The FDR Technique
BE DR. SUAVE
Key Idea 1: MOM
MOM stands for motivation, observation, method.
For motivation, ask yourself why you want to remember that person’s name. Rank the intensity of your motivation on a scale of 0 to 10. Then ask yourself, how can I get that motivation higher? Maybe it’s because you want to practice what you learned from this memory course. Maybe it’s because you want to show that person respect. The higher the motivation, the easier you can remember it.
For observation, you have to be in the present moment. Again, you can rate your level of focus from 0 to 10. When Jim met President Clinton, he was amazed at how Clinton could remember names so well. When he asked Clinton how he does it, Clinton said he doesn’t use any tricks. He just listens. And Jim noticed that when Clinton was talking to him, Clinton gave him 100% focus. It felt almost eerie but extremely powerful the level of attention he got from Clinton.
For method, we’ll look at the next three key ideas. Note that method only accounts for 20% of success; the other 80% comes from motivation and observation.
Key Idea 2: The FDR Technique
The story goes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt would walk around the White House and meet people for the first time, and then he’d be able to remember all their names right away. How did he do it? When he heard a person’s name, he would imagine himself writing that person’s name on their forehead.
Why does this work? It’s because your mind doesn’t know the difference between something you vividly imagine and something that’s real. For example, if I told you to close your eyes and imagine biting into a lemon, your mouth would salivate.
When you imagine yourself writing the name on that person’s forehead, then the next time you see their face, you see that name as well. You can make this technique even stronger by imaging using your favorite color, and maybe you’re using a scented marker to write the name so then you can remember the scent as well. You should also use your fingers to micro-write it, perhaps when your hands are in your pocket or out of sight. The more senses you use, the easier it is to remember.
The other reason why this works is because we basically have 6-seconds before we forget someone’s name. Jim calls it the 6-second syndrome. In order to remember the name, we have to use that name within 6-seconds. So by imagining ourselves writing the name, we do something with the name, which helps us remember it.
Key Idea 3: BE DR. SUAVE
B = Believe.
We have to believe that we are capable of remembering names. As Jim says, “All behavior is belief-driven.” Don’t affirm limiting beliefs like “I have a bad memory” because when you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.
E = Exercise.
In this context, exercise means practice. Practice using the FDR technique every day for a week. For example, when you go to the grocery store, just assign some names to random people, and imagine yourself writing that name on their face. Then when you see them again, recall their name.
D = Decide.
Decide that you are going to remember the person’s name. Most people don’t consciously decide to remember, so they unconsciously decide to forget.
R = Relax
Stress is a big obstacle to memory because stress creates chemicals that prepare us for fight-or-flight rather than clear thinking. Often times, just being aware that you’re starting to stress out can help you calm down.
S = Say the person’s name.
Again, use their name within 6 seconds of hearing it. It’s also a good chance to check that you heard the name correctly.
U = Use the name.
Aim to use the name 3 or 4 times in the conversation. Don’t abuse the name (use it excessively).
A = Ask about the name.
People often care deeply about their names. If you ask about it, you might learn something very interesting about them.
V = Visualize.
Visualize someone’s name by turning it into a picture. For example, imagine Mary on a marry-go-around, Mike signing on a microphone, Bob bobbing for apples, etc.
Jim encourages us to search up the top 100 names in our area and think of images to associate with those names for practice.
E = End.
End means when you leave the room, say goodbye to people using their name.
Key Idea 4: PIE
PIE = Place, Imagine, Entwine
When you meet someone, find a place on that person that really pops out at you. For example, maybe it’s their hat or earring or glasses. Then when you hear their name, imagine a picture and then entwine that picture to the place.
For example, you meet someone named Mary, and she has a great hat. You imagine lambs (because Mary had a little lamb) eating her hat. Later you see her again. What’s her name? You recall lambs eating her hat. Oh right, her name was Mary.
Practice the FDR technique every day this week. Imagine yourself writing their name on their forehead with your favorite color using micro-movements from your fingers.
Practice MOM. Make that motivation and observation score higher.
I didn't really get to practice last week because I didn't go out and see anyone new. However, I did meet one new person in a meeting, and her name was Meera. I imagined myself writing Meera on her forehead. Then I imagined her cuddling a meerkat. It was very easy for me to recall her name at the end of the meeting.