November 28, 2009

Facebook Makes Learning Names Easier

This is a post that appears on my The Art of Self Education blog dedicated to providing information, inspiration and resources for adult self learners.

One of the skills that benefits everyone in terms of networking and productivity is learning people’s names. Once you are introduced to someone, it’s amazing how impressive it is to others when you remember their name the next time you see them. Of course, this is not new information.

Many years ago my father gave me a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and I still consider it a classic. One of the guiding bits of advice Carnegie offers is to “remember that a man’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” That’s wise advice.

By nature, I’m not inclined to remember people’s names. I have to work at it. But I consider it something for which exerting the effort is worthwhile. So many times I’ve remembered someone’s name upon meeting them again and seen the clear sign of pleasure the other person experienced when they realized I’d remembered their name. It’s validating. We all like it.

Enter Facebook. While I use Facebook for my closer circle of friends (I use LinkedIn professionally), I also have an extended range of casual friends I’m connected to on Facebook that I meet only rarely and often don’t remember their names. Now on Facebook I regularly see their picture alongside their full name. This reinforces their name in my mind, and this includes their last name too which most don’t remember nearly as often as a first name. All of sudden I’m remembering people’s names better. Yay!

Human interaction skills like remembering names is something we should all learn. It will serve us well in both our personal and professional lives. Not all learning has to be comprised of absorbing facts or complex technical skills. Much of the learning we should all pursue centers around how we can best interact and communicate with others. I’m glad Facebook has helped me with one human interaction skill in which I was truly lacking any expertise. Maybe it can help you too.

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