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Use Your Best Mnemonics
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It's an awkward moment. At a business function you run into someone you've met before. As you reach out to shake hands-or worse yet, introduce him or her to a colleague-panic sets in. You've forgotten the name. It's a stumble that can trip up a relationship. "It's hard to show someone you're going to care for their business when you don't even care enough to remember their name," Kwik says.
The cure for faulty name memory is association: connecting those names to unforgettable images. Pictures, Kwik says, create memories that are easier to retrieve than words alone. Kwik, who is big on mnemonics, likes to say his method is easy as PIE.
Pick a place on the person's face.
Imagine the name.
Entwine the two in a picture that has action, exaggeration and illogic.
Here's how this works in real life. At a chamber of commerce gathering you meet Joyce.
Pick a place on Joyce's face. For example, her green eyes.
Imagine her name as a "sounds-like" picture. For "Joyce" that might be "juice."
Entwine Joyce's green eyes with juice by visualizing orange juice being poured into her eyes. (Yes, it's an absurd image but that's the point: "You're more likely to recall unusual images than common ones," Kwik says.)
Next, you're introduced to Christopher.
Pick a place: his beard.
Imagine the name: Christmas tree.
Entwine the two: Visualize Christopher's beard as a Christmas tree being decorated by tiny elves.
Along comes a couple, Karen and Matt.
Pick a place: Karen's red hair; Matt's eyebrows.
Imagine the names: carrots; doormat.
Entwine the two: There are carrots coming out of Karen's hair, and Matt's eyebrows have been woven into a doormat.
It will take time to become proficient at this method (although not as much time as you might think, Kwik says). Meanwhile, there's a payoff to practicing. "Even if the technique doesn't work right off the bat, it's effective in getting you to focus and engage when you're meeting people," Kwik says.
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