Six tips for remembering names

Has this ever happened to you? You’re talking to someone and another person you know walks up but you’ve forgotten her name, so you don’t introduce her to the first person? It’s pretty awkward isn’t it? Well take consolation in the fact that it happens to the best of us. However, if you work on remembering names, a name slip will happen less and less often.

I used to say to myself, I’m not good at remembering names, so I gave myself permission to not be adept at it. However, I learned most people are not naturally gifted with remembering names. I found you have to want to recall someone’s name to be successful with it.

Here are six tips to help you.

Repeat the name. When you are introduced to someone, say their name in your brain three times. Then, use their name at least three times during your conversation, without sounding like a used car salesman.

Associate the person with a character or celebrity. Say the person you’re meeting is a handsome man named Brad, think of Brad Pitt. Or if the person is older and has white hair you can think of Betty White.

Focus on characteristics. Try thinking of a word that defines the person and starts with the same first letter. I use this one a lot. For instance, think of a bright woman named Sally as “smart Sally”, or an outgoing man as “gregarious Greg”.

Create a mental picture. Let’s say the person’s name is Mary Taylor, you could imagine her sewing clothes.

Use rhymes. Rhyming the person’s name with a word helps it stick in your brain. A boisterous person named Marty could make you think of Marty party.

See the name in print. Take a moment to look at someone’s name tag or their business card when they give it to you to help cement the name in your brain. Seeing something written down can help you remember it.

Back to that awkward situation where you have to introduce two people but can’t remember one person’s name. Simply say to them, “forgive me, it’s been one of those days, will you help me with your name.” That’s so much better than not introducing the two people.

Are you talented at remembering names? If so, what tricks do you use to help you? Any you would add to the list above? For those of you who are bad at remembering names which of these tips seem most helpful?


2 thoughts on “Six tips for remembering names

  1. Jay E.

    Hi Clise,

    These are great tips – thank you! Here’s what I do, because I’m in sales and I run into tons of people; remembering 3-4 names is great, but 15-20, not so much. So what I do is I put it in the not section in my telephone under a label called people I meet. I list the date, time and place I met the person. Then I list a short description that I know I can remember the person by (ie: Tall, broad shoulders, gray hair ponytail).

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