Never Forget: Three Tricks to Remember Someone’s Name

Tomorrow is September 11th. Never Forget.

Memory is a tricky thing. There are some things that we can’t forget, even when we want to. Other things can be difficult to remember no matter how hard we try.

On the eve of 9/11 I honor the memories of those lost and those who lost. I visited the George W Bush presidential library last summer. I read about the day of the events and I scanned the names for people I knew taking this picture of one of them.

These names will never be forgotten. In everyday life, remembering names is not always easy.

I am much better with faces and with numbers than with names. Yet, if you have been in one of my workshops you may have noticed that many people were called on by name. People always ask, “How do I remember so many names when I just met them?”

My first response is always, “It’s important to me.” I feel it is a sign of respect to try and remember someone’s name.  Don’t get me wrong, I forget ALL the time! But I have come up with a few techniques that have helped over the years…

1. Repetition. I am not a fan of the “use their name 3 times” trick. It doesn’t feel authentic to force a person’s name into conversation 3 times within the first few minutes of meeting them – it feels silly and robotic. But I understand why it is a common practice. I do try to repeat it once to make sure I heard it correctly (it doesn’t help anything if you remember the wrong name).

2. Visualize. One thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I’m a visual person. When I meet someone new, I try to look at the spelling in their name. Seeing the name in print helps cement it into my memory. Alternatively, I will ask them to spell it if it’s not a common name.

3. Associate. This is the fun one. Connect their name to something or someone else. I might remember that someone’s name is Sarah because my aunt’s name is Sarah, so now that person is always associated with my aunt. I may rhyme their name with another word like “Smart Bart.” A third association is a full sentence using their name with something silly like “Francis dances in the street.” Find something silly and fun – that always helps it stick!

What are your tricks for remembering names? I’d love to hear them. And if I ever forget your name please remember, it’s because I suck at it, but I’m trying really hard!

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