I’m Always Willing To Ask
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Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Fantastic Fridays-#368 January 12th The Strong Within Daily Affirmation Podcast
I’m Always Willing To Ask
“The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.”
I was listening to a speaker talk on why it’s so hard to remember people’s names, and she were saying the reason was because our mind didn’t know where to place it. She got all technical about what part of the brain is used and why it has trouble remembering. And like we forget names, it slipped my mind what part of the brain she was talking about. The reason that I think I forgot what she said, was not because it wasn’t interesting, but because I didn’t care.
It’s not that I didn’t care about her, or her topic, it’s that I didn’t put value on why I should remember the name of a section of the brain that she was talking about. I tune out when people start talking about all the parts of the brain…the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, the hippocampus…in fact, my brain gets over-“lobed” out…” Get it??? Overload…to over-“lobed” out??? ok it’s a bad joke when you have to explain it, right???
Anyways, I think there are multiple reasons why we forget names, but before I get into all the reasons, I think the best way to remember names is by understanding WHY we should remember names first.
I was listening on the radio to a podcast or some sort of interview, and the person was talking about remembering people’s names. He said that if he forgets a name, he’ll ask them again. The embarrassment wasn’t as big a deal because there was a bigger purpose than his embarrassment. He wanted to know the person, and by him continuing to ask that person however many times he needed to, was him saying to himself and the other person that I WANT to know you…even if I have to be embarrassed asking again.
And that was such a powerful idea, that it’s stuck with me. He’d turned the embarrassment side of the argument upside down and said this is not about me, but it’s about you. It’s that I care so much in knowing you, that I’ll keep asking your name if I have to.
If you think about it, one of the biggest reasons we don’t remember people’s names is from where our attention is. And our attention usually is in two places…nowhere—you know, those silly random thoughts that are always going on with what we have to do, what we forgot, what was the name of that song, etc…and the other place our attention is mostly on… is ourselves.
We’ve gotten into the habit of making conversations less about who we’re talking to and making more about ourselves. It’s about us being known rather than knowing someone else. We worry more about sharing what we know, who we know, or what we bring to the table…as a matter of showing our worth. We have become a society so self-absorbed that we’re missing out on some of the greater parts of life. By knowing people’s names, or trying to get to know people’s names more attentively, it helps us to connect more in this world.
But it’s so easy to be tuned out not just in remembering names, but in life in general, and as I stated in the beginning of the podcast I believe it’s from how we’re assessing the value of something. I remember taking a communication class in college, and we talked about scripted responses. You know those questions or statements that we’re able to answer without thinking about—like how we’re doing, what’s going on in the weather, or the things that are going wrong in life at the moment. They are processes that take minimal thought, and we’ve learned that in the beginning of conversations scripted answers and questions are part of our normal dialogue and customs.
So if we don’t need to have much thought in the beginning of a conversation, then we don’t put value into the beginning of a conversation…which means we are less likely to pay attention. So when someone tells us their name, our brains are literally turned off. We aren’t actively listening, as we’re most likely in scripted question and response mode. And we all have been there saying these words, “uh huh, you don’t say, oh that’s interesting”…all while we aren’t even paying attention.
But I want to challenge you to think differently about names and conversations. The real reason why you should know someone’s name is because it means you really care about someone. I was walking into the gym to start my day, and I saw a newer member of the gym and so I said, “Hey Scott, how are you doing?” He replied, “I’m great Chris, thanks for asking.” Now while that was a simple conversation…for me, it was about me recognizing him…not just as a face, but as someone important. Now granted, Scott and I have only chatted a few times in passing, and I saw him again about 20 minutes later in another part of the gym, and he said, “Chris, thank you for remembering my name. It doesn’t seem like much, but it really means a lot to me.”
And that’s what remembering names means to me. It’s me actively saying I see you, I want to know who you are, I care about you, you are important to me.
I don’t remember everyone’s names, and I do get embarrassed asking people their name 20 times, in fact I’ve done it a bunch of times and I apologize for it…but I also let them know that I want to get better at remembering their name. You see for me it’s not about being good at remembering everyone’s name. It’s that I want that person to know that I want to be better at remembering THEIR name. That they are important.
And really what it’s about is paying attention to the beginning of a conversation to hear their name.
I’m not too bad with names, but I’m not as good as I used to be at it. I think it’s due to being rushed in everything I’m doing as my mind is on all the random thoughts I’m focusing on. And in my younger years I placed even more value on remembering names. I used to work in a bar, and it was my mission to know everyone’s name in the bar on a particular night. I remember one night they were all new customers, and I could name off all 50 of the patron’s first names. I wanted to know their name so they felt good, but I also had an ulterior motive… I wanted better tips too. So there was a secret agenda in that time in my life…but I still hold the importance of a name.
It feels good when people know who we are. It feels good when we are perceived as memorable. It feels good connecting with people on a deeper level than just scripted questions and responses. And it feels good having conversations and interactions that are more than just about ourselves.
I could give you all these tips on how to remember people’s name such as using their name 3 times in a conversation, use associations, make it a new years resolution…but in the end it’s really simple it’s about your why, it’s about the value you put on knowing someone’s name.
Maybe you don’t see knowing everyone’s name as important in the grand scheme of things, and that’s fine. But the next time you say I’m bad at remembering names…maybe you should ask yourself if it’s more that you don’t care to know someone’s name. Because in the end if you really cared, you’d do something different.
Today’s Personal Commitment:
Wow, I left you with a pretty harsh last thought, saying that you may not care about knowing people…but I wanted to get your attention. Sure there’s only so much we can focus on, and trying to remember everyone’s name may not be a priority to us. So maybe it should be less about knowing everyone, and more into having more meaningful interactions.
Because if we’re so caught up in scripted conversations, where we don’t think or we don’t try to really connect with people, then are we truly getting the most out of life? Are we learning from people, are we hearing them so we can help them when they’re in need, and are we getting more out of a conversation than it always being about ourselves? It feels good when we feel heard, when we feel people are really listening to us. So why not give that gift to others?
When we listen intently and actively to others, it gives more room for ourselves to be heard back. But let’s not make this about what we can get. This month I want you to pay attention to your conversations. I want you to work in not getting into autopilot of scripted response and question mode. I want you to see if you can really connect with people—to hear their name, to put value on knowing their name, as you work to remember their name for a different reason. See what happens when you stop saying I’m bad at remembering names, and instead…begin figuring out why you want to know people’s names better.
Let’s work to let people know they’re known and that they matter. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s a huge thing when you know someone remembered your name because they wanted to know who you are.
I’m Always Willing To Ask
Thanks for listening. I’m sending great energy your way as we become Strong Within together,
Personal Development Life Coach-
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