How to Remember Names

Our name is hard wired in our subconscious in such a way that it acts as an immediate trigger to get our attention. You will respond to the sound of your name more easily than you will say to the word “banana”. Despite this, according to Freud, “a person’s name is the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten”. Remembering someone’s name is incredibly useful and important in both social and business scenarios.
Business clients and customers want to feel significant and forgetting their names is not a good indication that you value them. Quite the contrary, it sends off the message that they are not important. A simple thing like remembering their name shows your appreciation. It could be the difference between a prospect and a client.

Whether you attend networking events on a regular basis or meet new people more sporadically, remembering a person’s name can give you the edge over your competition. Here are some tips to help you remember people’s names.

3 Ways to Remember People’s Names

1. Repetition
One of the most common tips is to repeat the person’s name when they introduce themselves. For example, “Hi Beatrice, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” If you don’t do this first step, chances are you will forget the name within 10 seconds. The next step is to use their name a few times throughout the conversation. You can do this by saying their name after a question. For example, “What is that you do Oscar?” or “Sophia, what is the best thing about your job?” This is a good way of reminding yourself of their name. A word of warning, be careful not to overuse it as it will come across as artificial.

2. Face Association
If you know another person by the same name, see that person’s face in your mind. Imagine their face bouncing up and down or smiling at you. Something non static with some sort of action will increase your chances of making a lasting association. If you don’t know anyone by the same name, pick out a distinctive feature in the other person. Ideally, you want to do this before you are introduced so that you don’t find yourself staring. It can be a crooked nose, small ears, beady eyes, thick lips, etc. Try to stay away from features that may change over time such as hair cut or glasses.

3. Name Association
Think of someone famous with the same name. Go one step further by imagining this person taking an action. For example, it could be James Bond and you picture him in a tuxedo at a party or doing something dangerous and adventurous. You can also try coming up with a mnemonic for the name. If you are good with words, think of something funny that to go with the name. For example, “Daniel sounds like a spaniel” or “Maya eats papaya”. It should be short and easy to remember.

Like with so many other things, practice makes perfect. We can develop our ability to remember the names of clients and people we meet. It may take some time and effort to perfect the technique and find out what works best for you yet the result will be worth it.

What do you do to remember names? Do you have any stories to share about a time when you forgot someone’s name or they forgot yours? What was the result?

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Written by Ana Antunes da Silva.

Image by Flickr user Lindsay M. Curtis

16 Responses to “How to Remember Names”

  1. Elisa says:

    Dear Ana

    This is such a brilliant post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us and thank you for helping me with something I really do have an issue with!

    Cant wait to try these tips out!!!


    • Ana says:

      Dear Elisa,
      Many thanks for your comments and words of encouragement. I am really pleased you enjoyed this post! I hope it helps.

  2. Usually I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this blog really forced me to do so! Thanks, really nice post.

  3. I have seen alot of people make an effort to discus and write about this subject…and i have seen a lot of failures…but you have hit the nail on the HEAD….I agree totally and am looking forwardto your view on other subjects

  4. Robin Alley says:

    I’ve successfully used name association for some time now. It’s a really good tip. Also, Dale Carnegie’s How To… book is pretty good for remembering people’s names. But that books just good for everything in relationship!

  5. good share, great article, very usefull for us¡­thanks!

  6. Great site. Thanks for the tips.

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