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How to Remember People’s Names

How to Remember People’s Names


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

    (Haven’t we all.)

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    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?”

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

    Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

    1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

    Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

    There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

    Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

    2. Pace Yourself

    Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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    Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

    Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

    3. You Can’t Please Everyone

    “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

    You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

    Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

    4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

    Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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    We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

    Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

    5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

    No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

    We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

    6. It’s Not All About You

    You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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    It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

    7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

    No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

    We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

    Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

    8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

    That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

    Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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    Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

    9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

    Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

    The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

    10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

    When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

    Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

    This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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    Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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