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The Sweetest and Most Important Sound

By: Lara Loucks, Certified Professional in Learning and Performance

Remembering people’s names for business and political reasons is not a new idea. Whether we credit Robert Corwin Lee or Dale Carnegie for first emphasizing the importance of remembering other people’s names, the fact remains that there is specialness about it. The SASSY Technique I developed back in 2008 has helped hundreds of people to remember hundreds of other people’s names. I’ve been fortunate enough to demonstrate this technique in person to the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations. Now I share it with you.

It started as a party trick in 1987. I would make a friendly bet with someone that I would remember everyone’s name at the party. I would successfully complete the task and a beautiful round of applause from the impressed party-goers would ensue. It was decades before I realized how powerful this skill was when I read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Finally, seven years ago a coworker genuinely asked me, “How do you do that?” She insisted on knowing and I didn’t know what to tell her. As a professional skills trainer, I was slightly embarrassed. So, I contemplated what I did step-by-step. The SASSY Technique was born.

First, shake their hand. While this may seem obvious, there are two essential things. One is to shake the hand so that the “web” section (between the thumb and the forefinger) makes contact and don’t let go too quickly. This is how many of us are taught to shake hands. Yet, we rush through wanting to release the handshake quickly but this tactile engagement helps cement the experience of meeting them.

Ask their name and listen to the answer. Say their name back to them. Spell their name, or ask how to. These three are fast and yet crucial. This part of the process can be done during the handshake.

Lastly, the Y is the You Statement and the only non-verb of the Technique. After you let go of their hand, you continue to look them in the eye and make a statement out loud of how you are going to remember their name. This is often referred to as ‘association’ yet no one explains where to draw the associations from effectively. For this, you will need to create a bucket of ideas that you can pull from. Mine are all associated with songs, film/TV stars, and places I’ve been. For example, to remember Amanda who designs our website I remember the famous Boston song, Amanda. When I met Lynn Herald, I associated: my middle name was Lynn and I was excited when I visited the Herald building as a child. Not only do people love the sound of their own name, they love to be associated with someone famous or a lovely experience. I stay away from anyone even slightly controversial. Even if someone hates a song that I mention, they are usually willing to let go of something that doesn’t affect their core values.

Shake. Ask. Say. Spell. You Statement. Go forth and be SASSY!

Lara Loucks is a workplace learning and performance professional with over 20 years experience. Her expertise includes: managing the training function and organizational knowledge; developing and delivering training programs; improving human performance and coaching; career planning and talent management; measuring and evaluating; and facilitating organizational change through project management. In 2008, she earned her Certified Professional in Learning and Performance designation. Currently she serves as the Director of Training and Development for the South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union and owner of SkillzNow. She can be reached at (786) 444-5432 or Lara_Loucks@yahoo.com.