One can learn a lot from those who need to be sociable as part of their jobs.
We call them “hospitality workers”. I have learned a lot from my various jobs in that industry over the years.
Those who know me also know that by nature I am just as likely to call someone a Nazi to their face as be genuinely cordial. Actually, I consider calling everyday people “Nazis” itself to be a cordial gesture, not because I like Nazis (I don’t) but because doing so imparts a kind of bracing emotional directness that’s not frequently found in everyday life.
Thankfully, my time spent the hospitality industry helped me moderate my impulses to be bracingly, shockingly direct.
Yeah, that’s complex. I’m a complex guy, you Nazi.
Anyway, Here’s a life skill training opportunity from a friend of mine who’s a bartender:
When you meet a new person, silently state their name to yourself (or under your breath, to avoid potential embarrassment) along with a mnemonic.
A “mnemonic” is a thing that helps you remember something else. In this case the reminder is likely a word. But it could also be a mental image.
My bartender friend is named Padric (Patric with a D). I heard him having a friendly chat with someone at his bar the other night. The guy happened to wear his tie tucked into his button-up shirt, probably to avoid staining it. He was from Seattle. Maybe it’s a thing in Seattle? I don’t know. As the guy with the tie said good night and departed, Padric (Patrick with a D) stopped wiping down the bar long enough to look at him closely as he walked out the door. I heard Padric quietly say to himself under his breath:
“Timmy, Timmy the Tie-Tucker”.
At first I suspected he was making fun of the guy. But no, he really wasn’t. He was showing a trick of the bartender trade.
Padric’s career as a tipped employee depends on doing stuff like that. When Timmy the Tie Tucker comes back in to his establishment, Padric (Patrick with a D) will say “Oh Hi, Timmy (Timmy the Tie-Tucker)!” and might get 30% on the tab instead of just a buck a drink. Next time, Timmy (the tie-tucker) might bring in some friends with him to show how well-known he is in the establishment. Timmy (the tie Tucker) could become the Pied Piper, leading festive tippers to Padric’s (Patrick with a D) doorstep.
This same method works with everything about meeting a new person–or even with people you already know–like your wife, for instance. As people are telling you things about themselves, try to associate it with some image in your mind, something meaningful to you. It will make such things far easier to remember. Call up those words or images as needed. They will help you.
And really, when one considers that all of business basically depends on relationships, skills learned from people who build relationships for a living might come in handy no matter what you do.