"Listen for the name and immediately repeat it several times," says Valenzuela, on how to...

"Listen for the name and immediately repeat it several times," says Valenzuela, on how to remember your clients.

Photo: Carlos Valenzuela

The first thing a client likes to hear is their name. The number two thing is the names of loved ones. Yikes, and I am terrible with names. Co-workers send unknown passersby to greet me just to watch me squirm. I try, I care, and I still forget.

Should you come clean and offer, "I remember you, but I forgot your name?" Or try to fake it? Maybe the name will come up somehow? "Hello, gorgeous, or wasup, dude?"

I asked a relationship counselor friend, who offered the following:

  • Listen for the name and immediately repeat it several times. The challenge is I meet groups of people who say their names simultaneously. Who was who? And repeat the wrong name.
  • Find a distinctive feature by examining their face discreetly. This one seems a little creepy and prone to errors and slip-ups. "Hi, big nose, Kate!"
  • Use the name right away in conversation. This one got me in a lot of trouble when a client said, "You've been calling me Doris for the last two visits; I'm Magdalene, and people call me Maggie." She was such a Doris. "I'm so sorry. Why didn't you say something?" "I really liked Doris."
  • Name association: Holly would be a Christmas wreath; Barry, wait for it, the red things on the Holly. Autumn is also about leaves, not to be confused with Holly, the Christmas memory, or Barry, the red stuff on Holly. My friend drove her point with an example: "If Mr. Bender has curly hair, imagine a tall, curly tree bending over." "No, that won't work for me," I replied.
  • Memory knot: Be careful with this one; make sure it is a positive knot — Sandy would be the beach, but not Dusty, like my furniture, and so on. A client must have tied my last name to a Latin country, and at times I was Mr. Venezuela, Mr. Chile, and often Mr. Mexico.
  • Spell it out and write it down. Mary Smith? OK. But how about my client, Saoirse Prokopyevsk? Pass.
  • Sing it or say it to music. I won't even go there.

Despite the suggestions, I keep forgetting names and take solace in the research that says people remember how they felt around you, not what you said. Authenticity is picked up seamlessly from heart to heart. So, just be your attentive and fun self — or buy nametags.

Carlos Valenzuela is a bilingual writer and a past global beauty educator with a master's in international business. He writes about positivism and success for Modern Salon and is the author of the multi-award-winning novella Letters to Young Carlos and its sequel, www.carlos-valenzuela.com.

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