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The Crew Coach: How to Remember Names for Success in Yachting

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It happens to us all! Remembering names, especially when the job requires it, is not always easy so here is some helpful ways to deal with it.

Q: Charlie, New Deckhand:

I have a massive problem: I just can’t remember people’s names! It’s something I’ve always been terrible at and it’s so embarrassing when you are with a group and you need to introduce someone but you can’t remember their name! I’ve been in Antibes for about a week now and I’ve met heaps of people already – and I’ve already forgotten most of their names! Do you have any hints to help?

A: The Crew Coach:

You are not alone in having this problem – I used to be terrible with names myself! But I’ve learned some great ways to improve this over the years.

Remembering people’s names, whether on the dock, dayworking, meeting agents or chatting in a bar, can be the vital difference between getting a job or getting passed by. The yachting industry is a very close network and definitely a ‘who you know’ industry, so remembering the names of people you meet is particularly important, or you effectively don’t ‘know’ anyone.

This is so important for many reasons. Scientific studies have shown that our brains actually light up when we hear our own names (yes, we really are that into ourselves) so people actually pay more attention to us when we use their names. From a professional and personal perspective, it can be rude and even damaging to our careers to not recall names: in short, people like us more when we remember their name.

Finding ways to recall names is doubly important in yachting as you not only have people’s names to remember, but yacht names too! The more you know of both, the less ‘green’ and more knowledgeable you sound. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have, and there’s no point spending all that time networking if you can’t remember anyone’s names at the end of it.

I understand though. It’s not that you’re wilfully forgetting these people’s names, or being too arrogant to bother remembering in the first place. It’s just that names fall straight out of your head; you walk away from really positive encounters realising you haven’t got a clue what the person’s name was who just told you about a job going on a yacht, or even worse, you might forget the yacht’s name and be too embarrassed to go back and ask again. Perhaps you find yourself avoiding people who could be very helpful to you, because you’ve met them 5 times now and it’s way too late to admit that you don’t know their name.I get it, believe me I do – but there are things you can do to improve your name recall.

1. Repeat it. Use it back to them in conversation. ‘Ben, wasn’t it? How long have you been here? ‘You can even make a joke of it; ‘Sorry, I’m not great with names so I have to say them over and over – Ben Ben Ben Ben.’ (This will make you remember, I guarantee it.) When you leave the conversation, use their name one last time- ‘Nice to meet you Ben’, and concentrate on their face and recalling the name with it. 2. Associate their name with someone else. Someone famous or someone you know, it doesn’t really matter. Just concentrate for a second when you hear their name and come up with a ‘name-double’ of someone familiar that will pop into your head when you see them again. 3. Make a little game of their name. Whether alliteration (Sam from South Africa) or an image that ties into their name (if their name is Robin Hill, think of a bird on top of a hill), try and come up with a clever word or image game that you will immediately think of upon seeing them. 4. If they’ve given you a business card, make sure you glance at their name written down- for a large amount of people who struggle with names, it’s because we have visual memories rather than aural memories. That is, we are far more likely to remember something we have seen than something we have heard.

Also, it’s particularly difficult to remember a name that we didn’t really ‘get’ in the first place- this is extremely common in yachting when there are people from many cultures, with all sorts of different names. Ask someone to spell their name and picture the finished name as they say it to you, then repeat it as in step one. You are far more likely to remember than if you think ‘wow, weird name, not sure quite what it was…’ and then avoid that person forever after in the fear of getting their name wrong.

The main thing is you must make a commitment to yourself when in a situation where you might be meeting new people that you will consciously remember their names – you must think of this BEFORE the moment otherwise it is lost in the ether. Make it your mission to start remembering names, tell yourself you are great at remembering names and you will immediately start remembering names. It’s all just about concentration and a few little mind tricks that will make a big difference to your networking and social skills.

Do you have any favourite tricks for remembering names? Please share them in the comments below.

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