How to Remember Names

The simplest things sometimes prove to be the hardest. I recently went to a party at a colleague’s place, where a lot of my classmates brought their girlfriends, boyfriends and spouses many of whom I had met before. However, I realized I had trouble remembering two of their names and I was in the awkward situation of having to ask again. It is always uncomfortable to say: “Hi, we’ve met before, but can you please tell me your name again? Although I managed to come out of the two situations rather elegantly, I realized that I meet so many people every day, and sometimes I do forget a person’s name.

Thankfully, Vault came to the rescue again. Their article on how to remember a name during a networking event applies to every day events and here are the points I found to be the most useful:

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Whenever you are introduced to someone new, instead of saying “Nice to meet you,” add the person’s name at the end and make it into “Nice to meet you Robert.” When you leave the conversation or when they walk away, repeat their name again: “Nice to talk to you Robert, see you later!” Now, is this a guarantee that next time you see them you will remember their name? No! But saying it three times definitely increases the chances! If the conversation lasts for a while, try dropping in their name while you talk to them: “Wow, Robert, I did not know you had to go through all of that when you were in Paris. How did you get out of that situation?”

Draw it

Picture this: it’s your first day at work and your manager asks you to attend the department meeting so you can meet everyone. Great, just that now you need to remember all their names. Imagine how awkward the next days will be in the office if you meet someone and you have to ask for their name again. Easiest thing: draw a map..literally! Simply make a drawing of the table and quickly jot down the names and titles of everyone at the table. When people speak make little notes around their names. We are most likely going to remember what people said and remember their faces based on their comments. This is your way of also remembering who they are.

Name associations

When you meet someone for the first time, try to associate their name with either something visual, such as something that they were wearing or: “White shirt Mary” or a facial feature: “blue eyed Jim.” Next time you meet them, you will bring back the visual image and their name will pop up in your head.

The point of the matter is that if you want to remember someone’s name you need to make an effort, especially if you notice that this is not your strongest point. The point is to choose whichever method works for you and let it help you while networking, at work or simply when making new friends.

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