The Name Game: 6 Sly Tricks to Remember Names

If you have trouble remembering names, you’re not alone. It happens to everyone from time to time; after all, we meet new people on a daily basis. But don’t lean on that as an excuse! Remembering names, even those of just casual acquaintances, is extremely important. This is especially true in a professional environment, when forgetting someone’s name can be perceived as insulting and have a number of negative consequences. Never forget a name again with these handy tricks!

Word Play

You’ve probably heard of mnemonic devices, but what are they, really? Simply put, they are techniques people employ to help improve their ability to remember something, including names. Examples of mnemonic devices include making a rhyme out of a person’s name (Lou from the Shoe Store), using alliteration (Sally from Sales), or associating a name with physical features (Billy with blue eyes).

Meet. Repeat. Repeat Again.

When a person introduces himself, don’t just smile and say “nice to meet you.” Instead, repeat the person’s name with a response like: “Nice to meet you, Jim, I’m Peter.” Continue to repeat the person’s name throughout your conversation. This not only helps with retention, but is also a powerful conversational tactic.

Spell It Out

One common name-remembering technique is to spell out the person’s name in your head, especially if the name is uncommon. This creates a mental picture of the person’s name in your head, which helps with recall.

Write It Down

Immediately after meeting someone, add the person to your contact list (or just write his or her name down). This way you have something to refer to if your memory of the person’s name fades. It’s also helpful to write down other information that is relevant to your relationship with the person, such as job title, hair color, height, etc.

Make an Association

Associate your new acquaintance with a person whose name you already know that shares a common characteristic. This can be a friend, family member or even a celebrity. For example, if you meet a person named Jennifer who has brown hair (or a big appetite) like movie star Jennifer Lawrence, use that association to remember your new acquaintance’s name.

Just Ask

It can be embarrassing, sure. But politely asking for a person’s name is better than getting it wrong or never acknowledging the person by name. The longer time goes by, the more awkward the conversation will become. So just swallow your pride and ask the person for a friendly reminder. What’s the worst that could happen?

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