Apply The Law Of Association To Names

Prominent among the factors which answer the question, “How to remember names” is the law of Association. It enables you to remember the name by relating it to something associated with it. Stimulate a sort of ” bring-together memory.” When you meet a man, give attention to his name, note his appearance, any striking physical characteristics or peculiarities, note his voice and manner especially, learn his business or location, then bring all these facts together and associate his name in your mind with one or two points in particular. Say to yourself, ” This man’s name is Brown, he has big brown eyes and a long neck.” ” This is Wilson, with the big nose, and he is a lawyer in the Temple Building.” ” This is Bowman, I shall remember him by his booming voice.” ” This little fellow is Richards, and he has a bad squint in his left eye.” Associate these points firmly in your mind when you first get the name and they are most likely to stick. Make up your/ mind that you are going to remember ever person that you meet, and then follow a system. It is better not to associate the name with dress, for the new acquaintance may be wearing an-other suit or a different tie next time you meet him. It is far better to choose some fixed personal characteristic than clothes or complexion. Nor is it safe to depend on the color of the hair as a mark for future identification, for alas; it too may change color over night.

Make a clear, firm mental impression of the individual and his characteristics. Develop the mental picture, make a brain-cell recording cabinet and file your picture for future reference. You alone know the combination lock to that cabinet.


The law of association should never be used. to designate certain people by nicknames. Sooner or later you will betray yourself. A young lady was introduced to a young man who had remarkably prominent eyes. Mentally she nicknamed him ” Pop-eye.” A few weeks later she met him on the street and to her horror heard herself saying, ” Hello, Pop-eye.” Another woman, prominent in church work, privately held a nickname for the new minister, the Reverend Poulter, associating him with poultry. Later at a church social she astonished the entire gathering by addressing him as ” Dr. Chicken.”

You may be able to fix the new name in your mind by making other associations. You may say ” His name is Hoover, same as the President of the United States,” or you may say to your-self ” His name is Blanchard—same as the name of that boy I went to school with years ago.” Meeting these men a week later the law of association will flash to you the thought, ” same as the President,” or ” same as my old chum,” and the required name will spring to your lips. Frequently you can think of a name by recalling some achievement of the individual which has made him famous, or some event of his life which has long been associated with his name. This will be easy if you are especially interested in the field of his achievement. What lover of eloquence can fail to recall William Jennings Bryan by the ” Cross of Gold ” speech, or ” The Prince of Peace ” address? What aviator can ever forget the name of Colonel Lindbergh, by reference to the first trans-Atlantic flight? Yet there are people to-day who have already for-gotten the Peerless Leader, and although Lindbergh is now a world hero and his name is on every tongue, I do not doubt that before another ten years have passed some persons will scratch their heads and say, ” Let me see—what was the name of that young fellow who was the first to fly across the ocean in an airship? ” And the other bromide will say, ” I know who you mean, I remember his face, but I can’t think of his name.”

Above all else, remember, in meeting a stranger, to link together his appearance, voice, manner, business, location and then pick out some particular point as a peg upon which to hang him. Any strong cord of association will do for the hanging. Your objective is the same as that of the Democrat in the campaign story: A bitter contest was on between the Republicans and the Democrats that year, and at the height of the campaign the Republicans held a public rally. They saw fit to open the meeting with prayer, feeling perhaps that the coming election was in doubt, and knowing that many Democrats were in the audience. The chaplain prayed with fervor, and near the end of his exhortation exclaimed, “And above all else, 0 Lord, we pray that in the coming election the Republicans may hang together.” A Democrat in the back part of the hall promptly responded “Amen, Lord, Amen, answer prayer, Lord.” The chaplain continued, ” But not, 0 Lord, as the profane and sacrilegious brother who has just interrupted means it. We pray that the Republicans may hang together in concord and accord.” Again the Democratic brother interrupted with increased enthusiasm, “Any cord, Lord, any cord, just so they hang !


Classification, which is a form of association, is a valuable method to use in acquiring a large name vocabulary. Classification helps many people to remember many names for mastery. The particular form of classification can be worked out to meet the individual need and this requires the application of another form of memory sometimes referred to as the memory of ingenuity. Some use the alphabet system, fixing the particular letter of the alphabet with which the name begins. After considerable practice on this system, they are able to recall a name simply by running through the alphabet mentally and when they reach the B., F. or N., as the case may be, the name is instantly recalled. Others use the group system, which is very effective. Grouping is one of the best ways to remember. For instance, we may take the color group, Mr. Black, Mr. White, Mr. Green, or we may take the animal group, such as Mr. Fox, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Badger, Mr. Hogg, or better still, we may classify according to nationality. Last night at the banquet you met Mr. Swanson, the Swede; McDonald, the Scotchman; Mr. O’Leary, the Irishman; Mr. Silverstein, the Jew. It is well to spend considerable time upon building nationality groups. By and by you gain a thorough knowledge of many names and when you meet a stranger you will be able to classify him instantly according to his nationality. This ability has a certain practical value aside from a memory asset. It is often worth a great deal in meeting a man to know in the beginning whether he is a Scotchman, Irishman, or Jew. In order to bring out more clearly this point of classification, let us make a practical outline according to the group method. For instance, classify the Scotchmen you may know, adding to this list:

McDonald Campbell Scotchmen Stuart



In a similar way outline other national groups, also a color group—a tree group, etc.

In using classification, I would strongly urge that for a time at least, you should carry a note-book in which you can jot down and classify the things you wish to memorize. Such a notebook, carried in the right pocket where it can be used, brings more good luck than any rabbit’s foot. Classify the things carefully in your notebook, and then when you get a new name, jot it down under the proper heading, and in this way you will impress it upon your visual and motor memory, and you will have it for future reference. I knew a certain capable little lady in a Chicago department store who used a notebook to classify her customers. The method was very unique and some of her entries were certainly very interesting. For example, Mr. Blank, fat and grouchy but a liberal buyer.” ” Mrs. F—, very fussy and particular, does not buy much.” ” Mr. Doolittle, time-killer.” By all means get a notebook and dedicate it to the names of the people you meet. Classify it and use it. Arrange your groups in logical order and sequence.

“System means much to the memory; there-fore, make use of sequence whenever you desire to remember faces, figures, or thoughts. Arrange all things in proper order before putting them away in the charge of memory, and then as soon as you lay hold of one thing of the series, all the members will come forth in their proper order.”






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