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How to Remember Names: Nine Tips to Help You Never Forget a Person’s Name

by Hale Dwoskin

Remembering the names of people you meet is an incredibly important skill. In the workplace, forgetting the name of a key customer or superior could easily put your job at risk (or at the very least cost you your promotion). On the personal front, forgetting an old friend’s name is not only embarrassing, it could cost you the camaraderie of a good pal.

If you find that you have trouble remembering names, whether they belong to people you’ve just met or those you haven’t seen for awhile, remember that recalling names is a skill you can learn, and here’s how.

  1. Repeat the name. As soon as you hear someone’s name, use it repeatedly in the conversation to help program it into your memory (but don’t overdo it).
  2. Ask about any nicknames (or confirm what the person likes to be called). Verifying the name ensures you have it right, and also will help you to recall the name down the road, as nicknames or informal name variations (Dave instead of David, etc.) sometimes stand out more than formal introductions.
  3. Find out about the person. You’re much more likely to remember the name of someone whom you found interesting, so find something you have in common or that you can share.
  4. Notice their appearance. It’s easy, particularly at conferences, weddings, and other occasions where you’ll be meeting a lot of new people, to let one introduction glaze right into the next. However, take a few seconds to
    note the facial features of the person and repeat their name in your head, and you’ll be more likely to place the face with the name later on.
  5. Keep a names file. Keep a notebook where you can write down a person’s name, appearance and circumstances under which you met (and do so shortly after the meeting). Review it occasionally or before you expect to run into some of the contacts. This is especially helpful in a workplace setting, where remembering names is essential to increasing your job performance.
  6. Picture the name on their forehead. Reportedly, this is the technique Franklin Roosevelt used and he was
    able to remember the names of almost everyone he met.
  7. Make an association. Try to associate the person’s name with something familiar to you. For instance, if the name is Lily, picture the flower in your head. If it’s Cliff, you might associate it with the Cheers TV character Cliff.
  8. Write the name with your finger. According to neural linguistic programming experts, moving your finger to write the person’s name in the air, while picturing it in your head (or on their forehead) will help you remember it.
  9. Forgive yourself if you do forget a name. Inevitably, you will forget a name now and again. Don’t let it get you down, simply greet the person warmly and proceed with the conversation as usual. If you feel guilt, anxiety or fear about remembering or forgetting names, check out The Sedona Method, a simple but powerful self-improvement technique, to help release these negative feelings and regain your confidence.

-Hale