Okay . . . there you stand, getting introduced to someone. How are you going to remember the person’s name? Well, you’re already of the mind-set that this meeting and the person are very important. You remember that from yesterday, right? Okay, so now zero in first on one major thing—the name, nothing else, for a few seconds. Ignore all distractions and peripheral activity. Listen for one thing, the name. That is your goal, after all.
Now then, I’ll pass on a simple little process that works for me. It is not original with me, but I have found that it is successful when I concentrate. Three steps are involved in the process of cementing a name and the face into my mind:
1. Impression. Allow the name to make an impression—a dent—on your mind. Do this by being sure you have heard the name correctly. Repeat it. If necessary, spell it to the person, asking if that is the correct spelling. As you shake hands and talk for a few moments, picture the name in your mind. Secure the exact pronunciation.
2. Association. Here’s where the fun comes. Think of an association you can link with the name. Visualize the name and think of something that sounds like it or rhymes with it. The crazier the better! Mr. Steinhaus (“stone house”). Frank Baer (“he’s a big and hairy fella”). The Haughtons (they seem “haughty”). John Lincoln (“he is tall like President Lincoln”). Marlene Moody (“she is sad-looking . . . moody”). Ed Neuenschwander (“how can I forget a name like that?”).
This is no guarantee . . . in fact, it may even backfire on you at times. But more often than not it will enable you to grab the other person’s “handle” at that moment of panic when the two of you meet again.
Maybe you’re thinking, “A name isn’t that important . . . what I’m interested in is his soul.” Listen, as I mentioned yesterday, one of the keys that unlocks a person’s soul is the realization that you are interested enough to call him or her by name!
Furthermore, the Bible is filled with thousands of people who had names . . . and those names often had associated meanings: Simon—later Peter . . . Jacob—later Israel . . . Saul—later Paul. And what about the angel’s firm command in Matthew 1:21, “You shall call His name Jesus.”
If the Lord thinks enough of our names to write every one of them in His record, is it asking too much to learn a few as we travel here below? Of course this means that we must consider the other person important enough to remember. If you struggle with that, you have a problem far more serious than a faulty memory!
Excerpt taken from Come before Winter and Share My Hope by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.