“If you want to see what your friends and family think of you, die broke, and see who comes to your funeral.” – Gregory Nunn
1. Remember Names. Use Them Frequently.
When was the last time you heard a friend use your name? Probably never after the first time he or she used it to call you. We typically do not use people’s names because we feel it would be too direct and weird. Popular culture has convinced us to believe using someone’s name bears a connotation to hold that person accountable for something. Given this thinking, we might feel using someone’s name could potentially alienate them from you and cause you to lose favorability. I do not believe this to be true. In my experience, using names can bridge a personal connection deeper than most others.
When someone uses my name it makes me feel like they have a vested interest in me. Most of the time people just blurt out generic statements like: “How are you” “What’s going on” “How was your day”. In most cases, I feel like this is just common etiquette and there is no real interest in my life or answers to those questions. As such, my responses are also just as generic. However, if someone used my name, they would give those generic questions more meaning and I would like they are specifically interested and asking about me. See for yourself. “How are you?” vs “Hey Jay. How are you?” or “How are you Jay?” have completely different feelings. The latter makes me feel important. They make me feel like the person is directly speaking or asking about me. Over time, this can help build a much stronger bond and deeper relationship with someone.
It is important to ease into this habit. Do not overwhelm someone new or an existing friend by slipping in their name into every sentence of a conversation. That would be strange and off-putting. As much as I appreciate when someone uses my name. I do not appreciate if they use it unsparingly. Using it every time makes this point lose its value because the person no longer feels like that is something special. My general rule of thumb when to use a person’s name includes:
- Wishes (Birthday, New Years, Christmas, Thanksgiving…etc)
2. Maintain Eye Contact When Talking Or Listening
Similar to the first point (remembering and using names) to build a personal connection, the other person should feel like you are interested in them. In addition, it is equally as important for someone to feel they are interested in you and what you have to say.
One of the best and easiest ways to show people you are interested in them as well as interested in what they have to say is with eye contact. Eye contact sends a very real and subtly powerful message that you are interested and care about the conversation happening between you and the other person. We all know wandering eyes and distractions undermine and negatively impact personal relationships. We all have friends (or rather acquaintances) that are always checking their phone or multi-tasking or looking around the room when they speak with you. We can all agree that no one likes this feeling. This makes you feel like the other person really does not care about the conversation, nor do they care about what you have to say.
When the person I am talking to keeps eye contact with me, I make me feel like the room is small and only us two are in it. When that happens, no matter what the conversation is about, I feel a vested interest in it. It builds a personal connection and I will remember that person or conversation even though I may not remember other things or events in that room. During a conversation, making someone feel like no matter how many people are in the room, the only important thing at that moment is them, is a great way to being remembered.
Similar to the first point, the disclaimer here is to ease into this habit. Do not overwhelm someone new or an existing friend by staring them down throughout the conversation. Too much eye-contact can actually hurt a relationship and come off as confrontational. Someone staring me down is going to make me remember them but definitely not in a memorable way. My general rule of thumb when to keep eye contact includes:
- Wishes (Birthday, New Years, Christmas, Thanksgiving…etc)
- Anytime they are talking
3. Remember Birthdays. Wish Outside Of Social Media.
Birthdays are arguably the most important day for someone in a given year. It is a day when we expect others to be nice, treat us well and give gifts to celebrate the momentous occasion of us turning a year old. From the moment we get up to the moment we sleep we expect people at different points will wish us happy birthday. However, this is seldom the case anymore. Our society and values have drifted away from wishing people and migrated to the ease of social media where we use emojis or pre-set messages to wish people happy birthday. What’s worse is we hardly remember anyone’s birthday anymore. We rely on Facebook to remind us or other people to wish first, to which we just reply all and pile on. Our message gets buried in a dozen of other messages that all use the same words.
When you wish someone happy birthday in-person or by calling them or even by texting them, you immediately stand out. Your wishes are seen as sincere and special because very few (if not anyone) is wishing that person happy birthday outside of social media. That person will instantly remember you and continue to remember you. As an example, on my 25th birthday, a friend of mine called me despite being in a different time zone and wished me a happy birthday. Years later, I still remember that call and the special it gave me. I definitely can’t remember who wished me on facebook and what they said.
4. Always Be The First To Wish.
As important as wishing is, it is equally as important to wish promptly. This applies to all special events including Birthdays. Everybody wants to be wished. It makes them feel important and popular. It is always a good feeling knowing someone is thinking about you. When others wish you, they immediately become remembered and you feel the responsibility to return the wishes. However, being wished late or after the moment has long passed or when the day is over, can tarnish the value of the good wishes. Wishing late can make you less memorable because you are now associated with a bad memory and people tend to try to forget bad memories.
Make it a habit to wish people as early or as close to the event. Being the first person to wish someone will create a lasting memory and people will remember the promptness. For example, this New Year, a friend of mine complimented me on always being the first person that wishes him Happy New Year. In fact, this year he tried to beat me by messaging me first and beating me to the punch. You can really create a strong memory being the first person to bring good wishes to someone. They will always associate you with the good feeling you brought them at the right moment.
5. Ask About Significant Others And Family
Families and significant others are a big part of our lives. With the exception of a few cases, our lives involve or are influenced by our parents, siblings or wife/husband. Yet, very few people ask about them and we rarely disclose information about them to others. The root cause of this might be because we are worried asking for or sharing this information might be too personal. It might also be boring. However, I have found this information helps build a deeper bond and take a relationship one level further. It opens up the possibilities for having more meaningful conversations and puts those people that ask into a more memorable category.
When someone takes the time and interest to ask about my family or girlfriend it shows me they care about different aspects of my life. They understand a big portion of my life involves these people and by asking about them it offers them a view into the external effects on my life. It also shows me they genuinely are interested in more than just common pleasantries and one-word answers to questions like “How are you?” or “How is everything?”.
Just like the other points, it is important to subtly ease into this habit. Most people are timid and skeptical about sharing this information and asking very personal questions out of the blue might appear as suspicious. It is also important to be respectful and tread softly. Start with generic questions like “How is your sister?” or “Are your parents enjoying the summer?”. As you establish comfort with these questions then proceed forward. It is also important to avoid getting too personal and deep with questions about family. You want to establish you are genuinely interested in how they are doing but not specific details of their lives. This could also come off as suspicious or even malicious. My general rule of thumb on how to approach this is:
- Level 1: Soft Questions. Ex: “How is your sister?”, “How are your parents”
- Use during the middle or end of conversations
- Use 3-4 times per conversation
- Level 2: Medium Questions. Ex: “What is your brother planning to do after college?”, “What does your dad do for work?”
- Use during the middle of conversations
- Use 1-2 times per conversation
How Do You Stay Memorable?
What I’ve shared above are tactics and techniques that have worked for me, however, I am still constantly trying to amend lost friendships and become a more caring person. I would love to hear what tactics or techniques have worked well for you. Feel free to comment below with an example or identify an area I might have missed. Please share so we can learn and possibly incorporate ourselves.