Dean has a gift for remembering people’s names–even people he has only met once. We met a woman who was walking her dogs around our neighborhood and the next time we saw her, Dean waved, “Hey Judy!”
Shocked and jealous of his penchant for recall, I asked, “How did you remember her name?!”
“She’s Judge Judy,” he answered. “I pair the name with something or someone I already know and that’s how I remember. It’s not hard.”
Remembering names is something I’m horrible at and should be good at, but I’m not. Probably because I don’t practice or make the effort.
Which all sort of brings me to the topic of what people do and how we don’t know what others really do. Do you really know what your friends and family do? I don’t think my parents could really explain my career in product management, but that is most likely my fault because I never explained it to them in a way they could understand. Even for easy-to-understand professions like doctors or lawyers, do you really know what those people specialize in? Most likely not. Even now, most people for me say, “She works for a bank, something finance-related since she has an MBA.” Or for Dean, “He’s in sales.”
But that’s all we know–very generic descriptions of what people do–because that’s what’s been regurgitated back to us.
So instead, let’s have some engagement. When someone asks, “What do you do?” You’re going to engage by asking a question back. To make sure they’re paying attention. Then relate your response back to them.
Here’s an example.
Stranger: What do you do?
Me: Are there any blogs that you really like or that you follow?
Stranger: Yeah! I really like Post Secret or SmittenKitchen for recipes…
Me: That’s awesome. I like SmittenKitchen too, not that I cook, but it’s total food porn. Anyhow I write one of the top-followed blogs in San Francisco. It’s mainly lifestyle stuff: travel, restaurant and product reviews, local events, lots of advice on finance and education. Do not get me started on the topic of college education! Anyhow, you should check it out. Here’s my card.
So that’s a pretty rudimentary example, but you get the point about engaging the person you’re talking to. Get them to buy in to what you’re going to say by having an interactive conversation instead of a 1-way regurgitation.