5 Tools to Remember People’s Names

How are you at remembering people’s names? Fantastic, not so hot, or embarrassingly bad? This is a question that I have asked more than 50 thousand people in the last 20 years and no less than 95 percent say not so hot or embarrassingly bad. Yet knowing and remembering people’s names personalizes communication and it certainly means opportunity in business, but how do we get better? How do we become a name remembering machine?

Why is it you could be introduced to someone, start talking, and within five seconds think, I already forgot their name. And you know when other people don’t remember your name, right, they fake it. You’ll say hey Cathy, and she’ll awkwardly say hey back. My favorite is when people use random nicknames because they don’t know your name, but to make up for it they double the enthusiasm.

There are many reasons why we forget people’s names, but you know what, to the other person it really doesn’t matter. You either remembered or you forgot, so let’s get right into the tools that work for learning and remembering names.

How can you remember people names?

  1. Ask people their name. how many times have you been to the same church, bar, gym, or even in your office and you never bother to introduce yourself to others? If you want a competitive advantage in work and in life, introduce yourself and make asking names a priority.
  2. Spell and pronounce names correctly. This is a huge one for respect because a name is personal to each individual. I assure you, making a little extra effort to confirm the accurate spelling and pronunciation of a person’s name goes a long way.
  3. Ask again when you forget. Almost all of us forget names as soon as we meet someone so don’t be embarrassed. Simply say, “forgive me, I forgot your name”. People are generally okay with it and by asking again you’re telling them their name is important to you.
  4. Retain through rhymes and associations. Use whatever works for you, it could be Dan the man or Rhonda from Reno, whatever locks it into your mental hard drive use it, but don’t tell the person because that could get weird.
  5. Use names when communicating. Why do all the work to learn and remember people’s names if you’re not going to use it? It creates a more comfortable atmosphere in which to communicate and it’s distinctive because most people say they’re lousy at remembering people’s names. The key is to use names on all platforms, on the phone, in person, and in writing.

Last thought

You know what drives me crazy is when I hear people say I’m terrible at names but I’m great at faces, that’s just who I am. Really? That’s just who you are? How about working a little bit harder? Because names are within your control. Becoming a name remembering machine takes effort. You’ll never be perfect, you’ll stumble now and then, but I assure you, it’s a worthwhile investment. Remember, the godfather of people skills, Dale Carnegie said;

“…a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest sound in any language. It’s their badge of individuality.”

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