Have you ever met someone and within seconds completely forgotten their name?

(Haven’t we all.)

Remembering people’s names is crucial if you want to build strong relationships in life. And we all know strong relationships are one of the most important factors for a productive and successful life.

So why is it so difficult to remember someone’s name?

And what can we do to make sure we’re not left in an awkward situation where we utter those fatal words: “sorry – what was your name again?”

Why Bother Remembering Someone’s Name?

One of the key reasons we forget names is that we don’t ‘focus’ our attention on them. As soon as we’re introduced to someone new, our thoughts are racing ahead to think of ‘what to say next’ and we pay no attention to the name we’ve just been told.

Not only is it embarrassing when this happens, it can also severely damage new relationships.

Because the truth is, you will offend people when you forget their name. You’ll make them feel like they’re not that important and that essentially you don’t really respect them enough to go to the trouble of remembering their name.

On the flip side, one of the quickest and easiest ways to build rapport and demonstrate your respect for someone – is to use their name when you’re speaking to them. You may have noticed that successful people who carry a lot of authority in their jobs often use peoples names when they’re speaking. They do this to be more persuasive and build relationships at the subconscious level.

So remembering people’s names really is worth it!

What Can You Do to Remember People’s Names?

There are a few things you can do to help you with this.

  1. Focus & listen intently. The first is to mentally make a decision to remember the name before you hear it. This focuses your brain and directs it to store the name in your long-term memory. You can imagine that this person is very powerful and important and that it’s in your interest to remember their name! By making an effort to focus, you will also naturally lean in and listen more intently when they say their name.
  2. Repeat the name. The second is to repeat the name back to the person you have just met. You can take this a step further by asking them to spell their name or asking them the origin of their name. This extends the conversation and provides more mental ‘triggers’ for you to recall the name at a later stage. It also builds rapport because you are showing an interest in their name. Remember to only ask these questions if it makes sense to do so (i.e. the name is unusual). People may question your intelligence if you ask them how to spell common names like ‘Dave’ or ‘Sarah’!
  3. Associate the Name. The third is to associate their name with something familiar. For example you could associate them with someone else you already know who has the same name.
  4. Rhyme the name. The fourth is to rhyme their name with another word. The more absurd the rhyming word – the better. Our brains love absurdity and finds it very easy to remember absurd things over dull things. I once had a client called Anshika – which I’m sure you’ll agree is an unusual name. How did I remember it? I rhymed it with ‘chicken tikka’ – this sounds silly but guess what? I never forgot her name! You can play around with adding an image to your rhyme too, to increase your chances of remembering it! I’m sure you can imagine how I may have pictured my client Anshika! :)
  5. Note Facial Features. The fifth is to note any distinguishable facial features. What is different or unusual about this person? For example someone may have unusually curly hair and you may remember them as ‘curly sue’. By associating their name with the characteristic the next time you meet them, you’re memory will be triggered by the feature (in this case curly hair) which will in turn trigger the name! (curly sue).

As you can see, there are many ways to increase your memory when it comes to remembering people’s names. And in my experience it really is worth it to make the effort, especially if it means you escape that dreaded phrase: “Sorry what was your name again?”

Why not try using one of these tips next time you’re introduced to someone? Who knows – it could be the start of a really important relationship in your life?

(Photo credit: Close Up of Man with Name Tag via Shutterstock)

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