mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Name. — Remember it. Don’t be lame.

on October 17, 2013

MommyVerbs nametag

I have recently decided that I think it is pretty lame to say, “I’m terrible with names.”

I get it. We meet a lot of people over the course of our lives. Some we get to know better than others. Some we spend a lot of time with. Some are just passing through. Some we may never, ever see again.

But we all have this in common: We all love to hear our names. Hearing our names makes us feel important. Valued.

Whenever I have the opportunity to teach a class, I start with a greeting. When I am teaching young students, I remind them how to greet someone. We make eye contact. We give them our attention. We smile. We say their name. We shake their hand and give them a high five or fist bump. And we listen to hear our name.

And I also teach them what to do if they don’t know this person’s name. We still make eye contact. We still give them our attention. We still smile. And then we simply say, “Can you please tell me your name again?” Then we say their name, shake their hand and listen to hear our name.

This really isn’t just for young students. I know many adults who could use some practice with this, too. And I am including myself in that one.

Whether it is your child, your student, your best friend, a colleague or the young man that is taking your order at Panera.

We all love to hear our names.

And all we have to do is actively listen and put their name to memory.

Or at least try. Really try to connect with that person and remember their name.

Because when we don’t even try. When we use the lame excuse, “I’m terrible with names.” We may imply that this person is not important enough for me to know. Not important enough for me to try to put some effort into the remembering.

And I’m sure that is not the message we want to send.

No. We want to send the message of “You are important. I want to get to know you as a person.”

There is a teacher that attends some meetings that I facilitate. Every time I see him, he is wearing a “Hello. My name is ____” sticker on his shirt with his name written on it. I love this. And by love, I mean I want to do this. And sometimes, wish that everyone would. I have never asked him why he does this or how long he has been doing this. I imagine that he has a little box of stickers in his car with a Sharpie marker for just these occasions. But I know his name. I will always know his name. I learned his name faster than anyone else’s. And by knowing his name, I have learned other things about him and his life. His name was just the beginning of getting to know him as a person and being able to really value his contributions and talents.

I am going out to day to buy a little box of stickers and a Sharpie marker.

Each fall, I teach a class on Tuesday nights with 18 graduate students. I only see them for less than 3 hours a week. And I really, really struggle to learn their names and keep them straight from week to week.

It makes me crazy.

Absolutely crazy. I try so many things. I quiz myself as they come into the room. I make us all play silly greeting games, under the guise that these are good teaching practices, which they are. But mostly it is so I can practice their names. 🙂 Some of them I learn quickly, others take me weeks to match faces with names. I am close to making them wear nametags sometimes. I have even thought about taking their pictures, holding their nametags, so I can study names/faces before class. I haven’t yet. But I still might.

I hate when I feel like I have to avoid calling someone by name so I don’t get it wrong.

I never want to send the message that they are not important enough for me to know.  So I work on it. Every week, I keep working on putting their names and faces to memory.

Because it is lame to say, “I’m terrible with names.” I don’t want to be lame.

Sometimes I do get a name wrong. But usually only once. Brain-based research and learning principles suggest that we learn more, learn better from our mistakes. When we get it wrong, and then work to correct it, we build better, strong memory pathways.  It is kind of like going over a pencil line a few times to make it darker on a paper.

This also explains why I will never, ever misspell the word: Conscience. This is the word that kicked me out of the county-wide spelling bee in the 4th grade. And when my Dad heard the word that I missed, he said, “Sharon, how did you miss that one…it is just Con. Science.”

Crap. Why didn’t I see that before? Con. Science. Yep. I won’t get that one wrong again.

The point is: Make mistakes. Try again. But make it a priority to learn people’s names.

Be intentional about calling them by their name.

Quit using the lame excuse, “I’m terrible with names.”

It is lame. Don’t be lame. Don’t be that person.

Whether it is your child, your student, your best friend, a colleague or the young lady taking your order at Panera. (I may or may not have been to Panera a lot recently.)

Make people feel important. Because they are.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Challenge: All about names.

What do you love about your name? Is there anything you don’t like about it?

What is the story of your name?

How did you (or will you) choose your children’s names?

What about your pets’ names? How did you pick those?

Where would you like to see your name someday? In lights? On a screen? On the cover of a book? On a diploma?

Name it.

Own it and be known for it.

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One response to “Name. — Remember it. Don’t be lame.

  1. Agree. Totally with this. I am guilty of saying this far too many times sometimes it’s because I haven’t heard the persons name correctly (I am profoundly deaf) and if I am struggling to lipread them I won’t ask them to repeat it because then they will really think I am rude for not remembering when really it is because I am deaf. So I cover up and say ‘I may not remember your name sorry I am so useless with remembering names’! Really what I should be saying is ‘can you write that down please I am having difficulty lip reading’ but life doesn’t always present opportunities for this, so I bluff my way through things in the hope that I may find out their name later!
    You are right that it is nice hearing our own name. I went to a playgroup recently that I hadn’t been to for a while and the lady running it remembered my name, it made me feel so welcome. Luckily I remembered hers too. From now on I will make a conscious effort to be upfront with people and tell them I didn’t catch their name and for those times that I do hear it correctly I will try and commit it to memory and use it next time I see that person.

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