Tips to remembering a person’s name

Have you ever forgotten someone’s name after meeting them? Learn some tips for remembering a person’s name.

Your name is what people call you, right? It’s part of your identity, a label, a saying. Your name is your identity, how you’re recognized and what you respond to. In this second part of this two-part article series, we’re going to discover some tricks to remembering names. The first part of this article, “Using a person’s name in conversation,” provides some considerations for the skill of using a person’s name.

Have you ever been introduced to someone and by the end of your conversation you can’t recall their name? Have you ever called someone by the wrong name? Have you ever seen someone familiar in passing and completely blanked on their name? It’s completely normal if you answered yes to any of those questions. What’s most important is you recognize when it happens and make the effort to work on this skill for next time. Skill, you may ask? Yes, practicing using someone’s name and practicing remembering someone’s name are skills that need to be practiced over and over again.

Here are a few tips to perfecting the skill of remembering names from Changing Minds:

  • Repeat it. Say the person’s name three times within the first couple of minutes.
  • Write it. If you get the chance to write it down, you should. Although it may seem embarrassing, it can actually say that you find that person to be so important that you want to keep their name safe. Business cards work well too.
  • Extend it. It can be easy to get a person’s name confused with another person (for example, if you know several people named Jim) or confuse someone for a sound-a-like name (for example, Tim and Jim). Try to include a forename and surname. Remembering Jim Montgomery as a name might be more unique and more memorable.
  • See it. Play visual games with their name. Imagine their name written on their forehead or hung around their neck. Then when you see them, you’ll also see their name.
  • Hear it. Sometimes visualizing is not enough and you remember only the shape of their name (for example, the name had four letters and started with a J). Include a sound with the name by saying it loud.
  • Play with it. Build a story or ridiculous image around the name. We remember things that stand out, so make the name and the face stand out together. Imagine the person doing something that plays out their name. For example, using Jim Montgomery, you could imagine him dressed as a burglar, jimmying open a window on a house on a mountain shouting “gomery cricket.”
  • Ask about it. When you hear their name, ask for clarification on the spelling. For example, is Isabel spelled with an “a” or an “o?” If the name is unusual, you can also provide a compliment, then ask about its origin.

Stop using excuses that you’re bad with names or have a terrible memory, or avoiding someone because you can’t remember their name. Also, eliminate the distractions in conversations that cause us to forget a name.

It’s time to make a commitment to practice the skills of using a person’s name and remembering it too. This will take self-motivation, self-discipline, resilience, communication and social skills. Show that you’re interested in that person, that you care about what they have to say and that you value the conversation you’re in.

Other articles in series

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