I’m good with names. I remember the summer before my sophomore year of college I came back early to school to help with freshman orientation. After seeing the same names over and over again for a week, I realized I remembered a good portion of them. So I continued to work hard at names and faces, and it’s been a huge help to me over the years.
“But I’m not good with names!” I know people like to say that. I used to like to say that. I just don’t buy it as an excuse anymore. If you’re ready to get rid of that crutch and start learning names, here are three tricks that have helped me along the way:
1. First and Last. You might think it’s easier to remember simply the first name. For me, it was always easier if I attached a last name to it as well. Do you know how many Jessicas, Davids, and Brittanys there are out there? Learning the last name helps to differentiate the individual, and it earns you double points when you can remember and call out their last name as well.
2. Facebook stalk. For me, the quicker I put a face with a name, the better I’ll learn it. If I meet someone, I’ll ask for their name, and immediately after our conversation I’ll email or text myself (thank you smart phones) their name. Later on I’ll try and find them through social media to get a little Facebook stalking going on. The more I can associate a name with a face, the easier it is for me to remember it.
3. Practice makes perfect. If you’re not good with names, after trying really hard, you may only be slightly less horrible with names. But it’s progress. The parts of your brain needed to learn and remember names is like a muscle that might have atrophied. It will take some time and some work to get it back into shape. Don’t give up!
Why is this all important? Because we live in an increasingly isolated and fragmented world. And yet we’re wired for community because God created us that way. If you can remember and call someone by name, you build the first plank in a relational bridge that can change both of your lives for the better.