Five simple tricks to help you remember names
Yes, we all forget names, and often in the few seconds after we hear them. Most of the time this phenomenon is due to a lack of attention or concentration. Also, most names have no specific meaning and are thus hard to memorise.
“There is no such thing as a good or bad memory, there is just a trained memory and an untrained memory, meaning memory is not something that you have, it’s something that you do. It’s not a noun, it’s a process,” says Jim Kwik, brain coach and founder of Kwik Learning & SuperheroYou.
About a third of your memory is dependent on your genetics and the biological makeup of your brain, but that leaves two-thirds of your memory that can be improved.
A major reason you don’t recall names is you weren’t listening. Someone says their name and two seconds later you don’t know it. This is not a memory problem. It is a focus problem.
Here’s five simple tricks to remember a name.
Scenario, let’s say you are introduced to Olivia at your local coffee shop…
1. Pay attention to the name
You don’t stand a chance to remember a new name if you are daydreaming about your weekend plans. Focus on the person you have just met, or are talking to. Ask Olivia to repeat her name if you have not heard it very well. Make a conscious effort of trying to memorise the name: Focus on it (“Her name is Olivia. I want to remember it.”)
2. Repeat the name of the person you just met
One way to help you remember a person’s name is to find a way to repeat it right after you first learn it. Use the name several times in the conversation. A quick process is the reply, “Nice to meet you, Olivia.” And later if the conversation or introductions extend ask a question with their name to finish, “What do you think of this, Olivia?”). If relevant, use the person’s business card later on to read her name and reflect, just a few seconds, on the conversation. And picture her face later on in the day as you repeat her name.
3. Relate and elaborate on the name
Another way to repeat a person’s name early on in the conversation is to mention how that person reminds you of someone else you know. Do you know someone else named like this? (“She seems quite happy, like the other Olivia I know from the coffee shop.”) Or relate the name to previous information (“Olivia, as in Olivia Newton-John, yes I just loved that movie Greece!”).
4. Focus on a particular feature of a new person’s face
Connecting a name to a visual trait helps anchor the name in your memory. Pick out a facial feature that may be easy to remember. Look at the person’s face and search for the most distinguishing feature, whether it is a small nose, large ears, unusual hairdo, stylish fashion, or deep dimples. Often the first outstanding feature you notice is the easiest to recall later.
5. Repeat a new name when you say goodbye
Each time you repeat a new name, it helps. Before you leave the party, meeting, wedding, or whatever other type of function you may be at, make sure to say goodbye to the people that you’ve met using their names. A simple, “Goodbye, John,” or, “Until next time, John,” will go a long way toward cementing the name in your mind and give you a much better chance of remembering it the next time you see the person.
Remembering Names Is Worth the Effort.
Yes, remembering names may seem like a lot of work, but I assure you that the effort is worth it. You know the warm feeling you get when someone says your name, so you can imagine how great it will make other people feel when you can say theirs. And once you make remembering names a habit, it will get easier.
While you’re here, read our article on 6 tricks to help improve your memory.