Put a Name to a Face

Jan 11, 2014 by

          As I left Holy Chuck tonight, I waved goodbye to Georgia, the woman who had taken my order earlier this evening, thanking her for convincing me to go with the salted buttermilk shake. (That shake was like drinking salty-sweet velvet! I’d inhale it instead of oxygen if I could!)

          My sister smirked, exhaling a how-typical breath. “You already know the cashier’s name?” she asked rhetorically, as we walked outside. “You kill me. You make friends with everybody!”

          I almost melted into the snow. That comment made my night. No one would have said that about me this time last year!

          After many excited shrieks, I explained, “She helped me pick my shake.”

          My sister, confused as to why I was so heart-warmed by her simple observation, laughed, “Pick your shake? You were having a full conversation with her!”

          Oh stop! I thought. Insert blushing here. (But really, keep going!)

          My sister went on to say that she thinks she gets her social skills from – wait for it – me! (Her flattery was kill-ing me!) This 15-year-old chick has a vibrant social life that makes me proud. In fact, I admire her for it. For her to suggest that her sociability is something that she learned from me is a huge boost.

          As if I weren’t already immobilized by unintentional compliments, I remembered something Matt (a.k.a. Fidel Gastro) said to me when I was at Lisa Marie with a friend a few months ago.

          “You’re always here with someone different!” he pointed out.

          I hadn’t even noticed. “Well, what can I say?” I responded with a cocky flip of my hair. “I have a lot of friends!” I joked.

          “You’re a popular girl!” he laughed.

          Melt.

          Me.

          No one would have made that statement before The Happiness Experiment!

          It is moments like these that remind me how my social skills have strengthened. Now an obvious social butterfly (just sayin’!), I can attest to the importance of being name greedy in creating rapport with other people. When I began The Happiness Experiment, I purposely started asking people for their names in an effort to cultivate social confidence. In Matthew Hussey’s Get the Guy, I had read that learning people’s names is a simple and effective way to make connections.

          Completely agreeing, I thought back to my brief time as a waitress during my second year of university, during which I was “you” a lot more than I was me, because most patrons make no effort to learn their servers’ names. As a result, I was caught by pleasant surprise on the rare occasion that a customer called me by name. It made me feel memorable or significant. In turn, I made an effort to learn my servers’ names while out at restaurants. More importantly, I used them, making it a point to let other people know that their names were worth remembering.

          Over the years since, somewhere in the depths of depression, I lost sight of the value of knowing people’s names. I lost sight of the value of knowing people. Period. Last spring, when Matthew Hussey’s book reminded me of the emotional surge that we give people when we use their names, I went on a name mission. Not only did I start asking servers for their names again, I started asking everybody for their names: people in elevators, people at the gym, people in Starbucks, people wherever! It didn’t matter that I’d never see most of them again. What mattered was that I hopefully made them feel good in the moment.

          At some point, name-asking must have become natural behaviour for me, because I forgot about my intentional pursuit of names until my sister commented on my goodbye to Georgia. Evidently, I transitioned from attentively asking people’s names to doing so automatically, and I’m glad. My name craving has served me well. People remember me, ask how I am, and demonstrate enthusiasm to see me – all because I asked their names. Obviously, names are magical, turning silences into chatter, strangers into conversationalists, and moments into interactions. Start banking them, friends! You’ll be in for far more interesting elevator rides, workouts, and coffee runs. Promise!

Happiness Tip: Get name greedy!

 
Previous: E for Effort! Next: Cost of Boomerang Membership: My Pride
 

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