How to Remember People’s Names

As members of the modern human race it is fairly certain that you are going to have to introduce yourself and swap names with other people hundreds of times during your life.

Whether these introductions take the form of high flying corporate dinners in champagne soaked restaurants to minute long encounters by the frozen vegetables in the local supermarket, the ability to take in and remember people’s names is an attribute that sets you apart from a lot of other people.

If you have trouble grasping people’s names then don’t worry:  you are not unusually deficient in social skills and there are steps you can take. Everyone of us finds ourselves in the situation of having forgotten a person’s name despite having been told it about half a minute before, or bumping into someone unexpectedly and being completely unable to dredge up their name from the depths of your mind.

But if you want to start really making the right impression in your work, social or love life, then you need to start remembering people’s names and here a few tips to help you do just that.

 1) Understanding the importance of names

It can be easy to forget just how monumentally important names are to not just our society, but also to us all individually. A person’s name is the most important word in the world to that person; it is fundamentally connected to their view of them self and their identity as an individual. Failing to remember a person’s name can immediately prejudice them against you in a way that is very hard to counter.

 2) Pay attention

The reason why we usually forget a person’s name after we have just met them is actually really simple: we simply don’t concentrate on the actual name enough. Either we are busy thinking about what we are going to ask them next, or by how awesome their shoes are or something. Try and focus your attention on the name.

 3) Repetition, repetition, repetition

As soon as you hear the name in question, you should try and repeat it clearly in your head a few times. Next, you need to get some repetitions out into the real world. There are a number of ways you can do this; by asking them how their name is from or where it originates from. The idea is to create a pretence in which you can repeat their name back to them a few times or get them to say it for you.

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 4) Association

As the (obviously riveting) conversation gallops forward you need to begin to associate the name with the person’s face, other distinctive features or what they are saying (obviously being someone in your circle, they are going to brimming with witty insights and original observations). Try to create a linking of the distinctive feature you have highlighted (missing teeth for example) with both the name and the persons voice in your mind.  There are other things you can associate the name with if you think that this would create a better connection. I have always found that associating the person with our mutual acquaintances is a great tool, but other people I know prefer to link the name to an object or an animal.

One of my friends also swears by the techniques of rhyming the name in question with a word or phrase, although I have not found this to be all that useful to be honest.

You will know that you have succeeded if you can end the conversation by saying something along the lines of:

Well, it was great meeting you Hannah, but unfortunately I really must be getting on now.

If the above the techniques do not work for you then you may have to start taking more drastic measures, like buying an ID card printer and issuing a card to everyone you meet in the vain hope that they don’t just throw it away as soon as you leave.

Anyone else got any useful tips for improving your memory when it comes to other people’s names?

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