How to Remember Names

“How do you remember names?”  I’m naturally good with names, but I also work at it.  Even if you’re one of those people who says, “I’m just terrible with names!” it’s possible to get better.  Here are 4 steps I take after meeting someone that help me remember names.

1. Repeat the Name Multiple Times Right Away

When I meet someone, I focus on his or her name, and then repeat it, and then often repeat it again.

“Hi, I’m Andrew.”

“I’m John Doe.”

“John Doe?  Nice to meet you.”

Blah, blah, blah.  Then, at the end of the conversation:

“It’s John Doe, right?  [Pointing to myself:] Andrew.  Nice to meet you.”

Repeat the name several times, and then repeat it again at the end of the conversation.

2. Write the Name Down Right ASAP (With Context Clues)

I’ve written before about how I carry a small pocket notebook and bullet pen with me all the time.

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When I meet folks, I try to write down their names and relevant details ASAP.  For example, after meeting John Doe, I might write:

John Doe.  Likes elephants.  Went to Notre Dame.  Kid in 1st grade.

The more context, the better.  The hardest names to remember are the names with no context.  When I meet a group of people all at once, their names–and faces–blur in my memory.

3. Use Facebook as a Face Book

I dislike Facebook, but the one reason I haven’t yet deleted my account is because I use it to match faces with names.  ASAP after meeting people for the first time, I’ll use Facebook to help me connect names and faces.

4.  Be Bold (and Unapologetic)

I’m at the point now that I don’t feel badly if I don’t remember someone’s name.  I’ll take a risk and try to call someone by what I think is his name, but if I’m wrong, I’ll just say, “I’m sorry–I don’t remember your name.”

It’s like removing a band-aid–it’s best to rip it right off.  Then, I start at step #1 and repeat.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “How to Remember Names

  1. I asked Shanon after our first meeting how you could remember our names the following Sunday. Very impressive and I know you must work at it also.

    • Unfortunately, though, remembering names is like stopping terrorism: you have to nail it 100% of the time, or no one is grateful.