Picking up where we left off last week, here is Dale Carnegie’s second principle of likeability.
2. Remember people’s names – “If you don’t do this, you are headed for trouble”
After his father died by being kicked in the head by a horse, his oldest boy, Jim, was ten, and he went to work in a brickyard, wheeling sand and pouring it into the molds and turning the brick on edge to be dried by the sun. This boy Jim never had a chance to get much education. But with his natural geniality, he had a flair for making people like him, so he went into politics, and as the years went by, he developed an uncanny ability for remembering people’s names.
He never saw the inside of a high school; but before he was forty-six years of age, four colleges had honored him with degrees and he had become chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Postmaster General of the United States. I once interviewed Jim Farley and asked him the secret of his success. He said, “Hard work,” and I said, “Don’t be funny.” He then asked me what I thought was the reason for his success. I replied: “I understand you can call ten thousand people by their first names.” “No. You are wrong,” he said. “I can call fifty thousand people by their first names.” Make no mistake about it. That ability helped Mr. Farley put Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House when he managed Roosevelt’s campaign in 1932.
During the years that Jim Farley traveled as a salesman for a gypsum concern, and during the years that he held office as town clerk in Stony Point, he built up a system for remembering names. In the beginning, it was a very simple one. Whenever he met a new acquaintance, he found out his or her complete name and some facts about his or her family, business and political opinions. He fixed all these facts well in mind as part of the picture, and the next time he met that person, even if it was a year later, he was able to shake hands, inquire after the family, and ask about the hollyhocks in the back yard. No wonder he developed a following! For months before Roosevelt’s campaign for President began, Jim Farley wrote hundreds of letters a day to people all over the western and northwestern states. Then he hopped onto a train and in nineteen days covered twenty states and twelve thousand miles, traveling by buggy, train, automobile and boat. He would drop into town, meet his people at lunch or breakfast, tea or dinner, and give them a “heart-to-heart talk.” Then he’d dash off again on another leg of his journey.
As soon as he arrived back East, he wrote to one person in each town he had visited, asking for a list of all the guests to whom he had talked. The final list contained thousands and thousands of names; yet each person on that list was paid the subtle flattery of getting a personal letter from James Farley. These letters began “Dear Bill” or “Dear Jane,” and they were always signed “Jim.” Jim Farley discovered early in life that the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment.
-But forget or misspell one’s name – and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage. For example, I once organized a public-speaking course in Paris and sent form letters to all the American residents in the city. French typists with apparently little knowledge of English filled in the names and naturally they made blunders. One man, the manager of a large American bank in Paris, wrote me a scathing rebuke because his name had been misspelled. Sometimes it is difficult to remember a name, particularly if it is hard to pronounce. Rather than even try to learn it, many people ignore it or call the person by an easy nickname.
-Sid Levy called on a customer for some time whose name was Nicodemus Papadoulos. Most people just called him “Nick.” Levy told us: “I made a special effort to say his name over several times to myself before I made my call. When I greeted him by his full name: ‘Good afternoon, Mr. Nicodemus Papadoulos,’ he was shocked. For what seemed like several minutes there was no reply from him at all. Finally, he said with tears rolling down his cheeks, ‘Mr. Levy, in all the fifteen years I have been in this country, nobody has ever made the effort to call me by my right name.”
Most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses because they think they are too busy.
Chapter Two of Doug’s book is called “Essentializing” and contains segments on 16 different topics that mirror many of the things that Carnegie wrote about. Take a FREE look here.
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