By Bryce Hoffman
So, I began my formal Dale Carnegie course last Wednesday. The first day’s instruction focused on the importance of using people’s names and learning how to remember them. Dale Carnegie wrote:
” … a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
It’s a simple fact, but incredibly powerful if you think about it.
I already had.
During my time covering Ford Motor Company, I had been impressed with how quickly CEO Alan Mulally learned people’s names and how he always used them. By the time he had a couple of press conferences under his belt, he was calling most of the regular Ford reporters by name. It made it hard not too like the guy. But I could never figure out how he did it.
I started paying attention and realized that Mulally did the same thing with Ford employees. And he did not just learn their names, but also the names of their spouses and children. Instead of asking his media minder how her husband was doing, Mulally ask how Howard was doing. And Mulally did the same thing with dealers and suppliers, too.
It might seem like a small thing, but as Dale Carnegie said:
“We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing … and nobody else. The name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique among all others. The information we are imparting or the request we are making takes on a special importance when we approach the situation with the name of the individual. From the waitress to the senior executive, the name will work magic as we deal with others.”
Okay, so calling people by name is powerful — but how do you do it? That’s the real question, right? I know it was for me when I saw that Alan Mulally had learned the names of half the Detroit press corps before his first quarter was finished at Ford. I kept asking myself, “How does he manage that?” I mean, I have a hard time remembering one person’s name.
At least I did.
On Wednesday night, we learned Dale Carnegie’s method for remembering names. There were 39 people in our group, counting students and instructors. Our class began at 6 p.m., and by the time it was over at 10 p.m., I had learned 36 of their names. Yep, 36! And I do mean learned them. I just tested myself, and that’s how many I got right.
As I said, it’s powerful stuff. I can’t wait to find out what we learn this week!