(This is part three of a five-part series. Click here to read Part I and Part II.)
I mentioned in an earlier post on having impact that as we go through our day, there are simple things we can do to be intentional in our relationships with others. I wanted to elaborate on that a little more by writing a five-part series dedicated to discussing some practical ways you can do this in your day-to-day life.
If they matter, remembering their name matters.
Obviously, I believe that human beings are all created in the image of God and because of that, each and everyone of us is valuable independent of what we may think.
So by saying that everyone matters, am I’m saying that everyone deserves having their name remembered?
Honestly, this really isn’t that difficult to do, especially considering most people you run across on a day-to-day basis will have a name tag, name plate or business card to identify them.
For everyone else, you’ll just have to do it the old fashion way by asking and remembering!
But chances are, when you’re out running errands, you probably see the same store clerks and sales associates over and over again. This makes it easy to learn people’s names and strike up a little friendly conversation.
Some people might call it lazy, but I just call it practical. Who has time to make special trips to stores you don’t really shop at just to “minister” to people. Forget about it.
Just connect with the people you’re already seeing on a day-to-day basis and you can start by asking for their name.
Remembering a person’s name can open up so many doors. Why? Because it implies that you don’t think that person is just another number. They’re somebody worth remembering.
Here is a story from Dale Carnegie’s book How To Win Friends and Influence People, that highlights the lasting effects remembering someone’s name can have:
Back in 1898, a tragic thing happened in Rockland County, New York. A child had died, and on this particular day the neighbors were preparing to go to the funeral. Jim Farley went out to the barn to hitch up his horse. The ground was covered with snow, the air was cold and snappy; the horse hadn’t been exercised for days; and as he was led out to the watering trough, he wheeled playfully, kicked both his heels high in the air, and killed Jim Farley. So the little village of Stony Point had two funerals that week instead of one.
Jim Farley left behind him a widow and three boys, and a few hundred dollars in insurance.
His oldest boy, Jim, was ten, and he went to work in a brickyard, wheeling sand and pouring it into the molds and turning the brick on edge to be dried by the sun. This boy Jim never had a chance to get much education. But with his natural geniality, he had a flair for making people like him, so he went into politics, and as the years went by, he developed an uncanny ability for remembering people’s names.
He never saw the inside of a high school; but before he was forty-six years of age, four colleges had honored him with degrees and he had become chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Postmaster General of the United States.
I once interviewed Jim Farley and asked him the secret of his success. He said, “Hard work,” and I said, “Don’t be funny.”
He then asked me what I thought was the reason for his success. I replied: “I understand you can call ten thousand people by their first names.”
“No. You are wrong,” he said. “I can call fifty thousand people by their first names.”
Make no mistake about it. That ability helped Mr. Farley put Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House when he managed Roosevelt’s campaign in 1932.
During the years that Jim Farley traveled as a salesman for a gypsum concern, and during the years that he held office as town clerk in Stony Point, he built up a system for remembering names.
In the beginning, it was a very simple one. Whenever he met a new acquaintance, he found out his or her complete name and some facts about his or her family, business and political opinions. He fixed all these facts well in mind as part of the picture, and the next time he met that person, even if it was a year later, he was able to shake hands, inquire after the family, and ask about the hollyhocks in the backyard. No wonder he developed a following!
For months before Roosevelt’s campaign for President began, Jim Farley wrote hundreds of letters a day to people all over the western and northwestern states. Then he hopped onto a train and in nineteen days covered twenty states and twelve thousand miles, traveling by buggy, train, automobile and boat. He would drop into town, meet his people at lunch or breakfast, tea or dinner, and give them a “heart-to-heart talk.” Then he’d dash off again on another leg of his journey.
As soon as he arrived back East, he wrote to one person in each town he had visited, asking for a list of all the guests to whom he had talked. The final list contained thousands and thousands of names; yet each person on that list was paid the subtle flattery of getting a personal letter from James Farley. These letters began “Dear Bill” or “Dear Jane,” and they were always signed “Jim.”
Jim Farley discovered early in life that the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment.
We all want to feel special, and whether we like our name or not, a bit of our identity is attached to it.
Remembering a person’s name is like saying, “I know there are 7 billion people on this planet, but you’re important to me and you matter!”