If you're like most people, you have found yourself struggling to remember people's names after being introduced. Some people seem to have a natural knack for remembering names, but you might need to make a conscious effort to recall them. As a new recruit or aspiring firefighter, remembering names and ranks is a sign of respect and is of utmost importance. I've heard and practiced many different techniques to remembering names and ranks and found three in particular to be the most helpful:
1. Repeat and use the person's name in your conversation, and if appropriate their rank, immediately following the introduction. For example, when Captain Smith introduces himself during a station tour, as he shows you around, begin some questions with "So, Captain Smith..." By using this information in the conversation, it naturally ingrains the person's name and rank into your memory. For me, it is important to do this quickly before I forget their name, because once I have any uncertainty as to someone's name, I need to ask them again, which is what you are trying to avoid.
2. If you do forget or have doubt as to one's name, ask. Early in the conversation with someone you have just met, there is nothing wrong with asking for their name. If you are practicing the first technique, this will not be necessary, but if for any reason you do forget someone's name, do not wait until it is awkward to ask again. Simply ask what their name is. You can do so in a respectful manner by simply saying, "Please excuse me, sir/ma'am, but I have forgotten your name."
3. Once you have parted ways, always write down the person's name, rank and any distinguishing features, characteristics or facts about that person. When I was young, I was always amazed and felt very special when my orthodontist, whom I saw every six months, asked me about things in my life and seemed to remember specific details about me.
It wasn't until I was older that I realized they wrote these down in a file so when I came in, they had things to talk to me about. I remember feeling very special that they remembered so much about me.
Keeping notes on people whom you will likely encounter again can have the same positive effect. Note not only their names but also as many personal facts as you can about them, so the next time you meet them you can talk to them about very specific things in their life, such as their children's names, ages, where they live, etc.
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