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Why You Don’t Remember Names

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So, you’ve just met someone and of course one of the first things they did was tell you their name. Now just five minutes later you couldn’t repeat their name if your own life depended on it.

You apologize and mumble something about your terrible memory as you ask them to repeat their name.

Sound familiar? Well, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that you just told a little white lie there. The good news is that in all likelihood your memory is just fine. You didn’t “forget” their name you never heard it in the first place. Now don’t get to worrying about your hearing cause that’s fine too, you don’t have a hearing problem, what you have is a listening problem.

You see, while they were telling you their name you, instead of listening, were thinking of what you were going to say next. You, like lots of lots of other people, didn’t want there to be a pause while you were considering what they said. As they were talking you were preparing to respond.

You made the most common listening mistake there is: you listened to respond instead of listening to understand.

There is a world of knowledge out there for those that listen well. When we commit to really listen we discover details that make succeeding much faster and often, much easier. Listening is a skill, and like any skill we can improve it through practice.

Don’t worry about a little silence as you seek to understand what was said to you before replying, great communicators seek to understand before they seek to be understood.

If you’re serious about listening better here is a bit of homework for you: ask three people that know you well what you can do to be a better listener and then do it. Don’t argue, don’t disagree, just do it. If you’ve picked the right three people they will know what you need to do.

If you’re really serious about listening better and you are married, make certain that one of those three people is your spouse. The same rules apply, no arguing, just do it.

Now, back to remembering names… Oh geez, it looks like we’re out of time.

In Friday’s post I’ll share with you a formula that will make remembering names (assuming you really heard them) much easier and even fun. Until then listen up, you’ll never remember what you didn’t hear in the first place.

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