John Travolta Reminds Us Why It's Important to Remember People's Names

The 2014 Academy Awards ceremony was not only a celebration of artistic triumph and beautiful clothes, but thanks to John Travolta, it also reminded us how important it is to memorize peoples' names. Find out why it's important and learn some easy ways to make sure you don't pull a Travolta at your next networking event.

John Travolta and his Oscar flub

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

We've all had that awkward moment when you completely blank out on a new acquaintance's name five minutes after shaking their hand for the first time. You panic, tunnel vision sets in, and then you either try to rely on pronouns for the rest of the conversation or, worse yet, you just call them by the wrong name altogether. Next time you're meeting and greeting, remember the following tips and you'll save yourself from total embarrassment, as well as possibly make a connection to move your career forward.

  • Meet, greet, repeat. When somebody tells you their name, flash back to some of Beyonce's best advice and say their name. Specifically, say it back to them. You might think that you sound like you're at an AA meeting, but it will help cement the name in your memory and make the person you're talking to know that you're paying attention to them.
  • Focus on the flair. If your new best friend is wearing a bright scarf, an interesting tie or has some other accessory that sticks out to you, memorize it and associate their name with it. Whether you employ alliteration ("Jewelry Joanne"), rhyme it ("BRI-an with the tie-on") or just repeat it in your head a couple of times, you'll remember their name when you see their flair in the crowd.
  • Learn a fun fact. Once they introduce themselves, ask a question that prompts an interesting response and you'll be more likely to remember everything about them. If you find out that the mild-mannered software engineer you're chatting with is also a skydive instructor, you're much more likely to remember their name.
  • When all else fails, admit defeat. If none of these tactics work and you find yourself going completely blank, hold your head up high, genuinely apologize and tell them that you forgot. Trust us, it's better to admit that you aren't perfect than it is to call somebody by the wrong name, as Mr. Travolta demonstrated at the Oscars.

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