The Importance of a Name


I am the first to admit that I am the worst when it comes to remembering names. I could meet someone three times before I might remember their name. I always felt bad when this happened, but I never realized how much a name matters until I got into the business of customer service.

When I started teaching group fitness classes at a local studio in my free time, I quickly learned how crucial it is to learn your client’s names. When you address someone by their name it shows them that you care and made an effort to get to know them. It makes them feel special.

Of course with each class being around 50 people, I did not try to learn every one’s name all in one go. If I could do that, I would have a serious talent. Instead, I would pick two or three people and focus in on them. At the beginning of each class, I identify the new members — those who are in the studio for the first time. I write down their name on a piece of paper along with their bike number.

Before class I will go over to their bike, introduce myself and ask their name. This is where it gets important. Instead of just trying to remember their name, I will pick out identifiers that will help me remember who they are. For example, if someone is wearing glasses or has red hair. I will make sure to repeat their name and identifier at least three times in my head to ensure it sticks.

Then I will call them out in class. If I notice their form is great or they are giving it their all, I will give them a shout out. At the end of class, I will stand by the door saying goodbye to everyone as they leave. As I do, I will make sure to ask those three new people how their class was, of course addressing them by their name. The more you use it, the more likely it is to stick.

If you do happen to forget some one’s name, don’t be afraid to ask. It is better to admit you forgot their name and politely ask again, rather than waiting months, trying to find unique ways to address them.

As a recreation professional you are also in the business of customer service. It is your mission to get as many students on campus, participating in recreation activities as possible so they develop healthy behaviors. What a better way to do this than by providing them with a welcoming environment. Show students you care and they are appreciated by learning their names and addressing them if you see them in the hall. Students are more likely to keep returning to the rec center if they feel a sense of connection to it. Build that sense of connection by getting to know your users.

Here are five tricks to help you to remember names, courtesy of Forbes Magazine.
  1. Meet and repeat — When you meet someone for the first time, don’t just nod and continue with the conversation, try to plug their name into what you are saying.
  2. Spell it out — Ask someone to spell his or her name, this can be helpful for those who have a visual memory.
  3. Associate — Conjure a verbal game or image when you first hear a name. Maybe picture images that sound like the person’s name or find a word the rhymes.
  4. Make connections — Make a connection between the person you are talking to and someone else you know with the same name.
  5. Choose to care — Make a conscious decision that you are going to remember names.
Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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