Terrible at Remembering Names? Steal These Habits from People Who Are Memory Masters

published Dec 7, 2016
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(Image credit: Monica Wang)

How awesome do you feel when you run into someone you met once, a while ago, and they greet you by name? How awesome would it be to be that person who makes others feel that sort of “you matter” euphoria? Whether the reasons are business or personal, knowing someone’s name goes a long way in forging a lasting relationship. Here’s how to do it.

Repeat the name right after you first hear it.

So if someone says, “Hello, I’m Daytona,” you say, “Nice to you meet you, Daytona, I’m so-and-so.” And provided your conversation is sufficiently long, pepper their name throughout the conversation (“How old is your son, Daytona?”) and say the person’s name again as you’re saying good-bye. Each mention of their name serves to ping your memory.

While you’re talking, notice a key detail about the person.

Doesn’t matter what it is, you’re just giving your brain a visual cue to associate with the name. It could be a palm tree tie, a sparkly statement necklace, or really nice hair. Say in your head, “Terrence has wonderful curls” and picture his curls when you’re reviewing his name later.

Sneak away and make notes in your phone.

If there’s too much going on and you just don’t trust your memory, or you’re meeting a bunch of people at once at a networking event or mixer, try to take some time to write down the names of the people you’ve met along with the key details you tied to each name and any other relevant information. Obviously you want to do this discreetly and politely, but you’ll be thankful to have a solid record of the names of the people you’ve met.

Visit your memory bank.

Once you’ve done all this work to remember someone’s name, don’t let yourself forget it! Re-visit the event or scene where you met the person or people and walk through your visual associations again. This kind of repetition will help people’s names make it into your long-term memory so you can recall them when you need to. And that’s the whole point!

Need more help?

Check out some memory advice from these other sources:

  • Witt Communications explains how to remember people’s names with these four steps: 1. Commit, 2. Concentrate, 3. Repeat, 4. Associate.
  • Lifehack details the following points: 1. Focus and listen intently, 2. Repeat the name, 3. Associate the name, 4. Rhyme the name, 5. Note facial features.