From Dale Carnegie — 7 Great Tips for Remembering Names

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7 Great Tips For Remembering Names

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We’ve all had this embarrassing experience: You are at a work function and see someone you clearly know, but you just can’t remember that person’s name.  And even worse is when he or she comes up to you and addresses you by your name.  What do you do?

 Ensure You Make A Good Impression

 Remembering people’s names is important, especially when it comes to building good business relationships.  You never want business associates to perceive your forgetfulness as indifference or to feel that they are not important enough for you to remember.

 Upon meeting new colleagues, employees, clients or prospects, one of the best ways to establish a good rapport is by remembering their names.  It may seem simple.  Yet in today’s fast-paced business world, where we are often distracted by a long list of to-dos, committing new names to memory can be challenging.  To help ensure you are not left scrambling, here are a few great tips to improve your name recognition skills.

 7  Tips To Help You Avoid Forgetting Names:

1.  Make A Conscious Decision To Remember – “I’m bad with names” is never a good excuse for forgetting someone’s name.  The truth is, if you want to remember a name, you will.   It just takes a little concentration.  The first step is making a conscious decision to try.

2.  Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – When you first learn a person’s name, start the memory process by repeating the name a few times silently in your head.  Using the person’s name throughout your initial conversation will also help build it into your memory.

 3.  Pay Attention To Details – Upon introduction, stop what you are doing and focus on the person’s face.   The more vividly you observe a person’s physical characteristics, the more likely you are to remember them.

 4.  Use Word Play – Rhyming and other mnemonic tricks are great tools for remembering names.  For example, try associating a person’s physical traits with a word that rhymes.  Ted is a redhead, or Shirley’s hair is curly.  Or make other associations like Dale works in sales.  Alliteration is another great memory jogger.  Say you meet someone named William who is exceptionally outgoing.  Thinking of him as “Wild Willy” will help you recall his name the next time you meet.

5.  Create A Visual Association – Using images is another great memory tool.  If the person’s name is Sandy, picture her in a beach scene, for instance.  If the person shares the same name as a celebrity, try picturing that celebrity while you speak.

6.  Be Inquisitive – Asking a question regarding the person’s name also helps the name stick in your mind.  If it’s an unusual name, ask how the name is spelled.  Or ask about the name’s origin.  Also try to fit in personal questions about the person’s hometown or family.  Establishing something you have in common increases the likelihood that you will remember that person later.

7.  If All Else Fails, Ask Again – There will be times when you forget a business associate’s name.   However, how you recover from this awkward moment is key.  There is no shame in politely asking someone to repeat their name.  Use this as an opportunity to say something positive about the person.  For example: “Yes, Dale. I understand you are leading your department in sales.”  This shows that while the name may have escaped you, the person is still someone worth remembering.


Executive Summary: Some of us have a natural ability to remember names, while others have to work at it.  If you are among those who struggle with names, you can improve your memory skills.  It just takes a little extra thought and concentration.  Making excuses for your poor memory is never a good approach.  When we recall a colleague’s name, we are essentially letting them know that they are worth remembering.  This can go a long way in building strong business relationships.

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]