Oh hi … You: How to Get Better at Remembering Names

Whether you have a name that no one can pronounce, or one that millions of people share – our names are an essential part of our identity. You can’t deny that it feels great when people greet you by name or simply remember it after a brief meeting. I know this, and yet I’m terrible at remembering people’s names. Maybe it’s from my years working at nightclubs where I met so many drunk people a night and never had to remember them again (unless they were big tippers), or maybe it’s because I’m just a terrible person. Either way, greeting someone by name is one of the most basic and influential social awareness strategies that you can adopt, and it’s one I’m working on big time.

Especially if you’re someone (like me) who can get nervous and withdrawn sometimes in social situations, greeting someone by name is a good way to break down barriers and come across as warm and inviting. Super charismatic and social people understand that this is a underrated tool and use it often. Remembering a person’s name is a brain exercise—and one that you need to practice to get better at:

* If you’re a “great with faces, but not names,” person, or you just can’t seem to remember anyone’s name 30 seconds after you hear it—make this the month to practice saying, “Hello, [name],” to someone each time you enter a room and to those you’re introduced to.

* If you space on doing this and get into a convo, don’t be embarrassed to just say “I’m sorry, I missed your name.” If it’s a business contact, just ask for a business card before you part ways. If it’s more personal, I usually just get them to put their own contact info in my phone (no I’m never calling you I just needed to know your name).

* Say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head (“My college roommate’s name was Ted.”)

* If a name sounds unusual to you, ask the person to spell it for you so you can picture the name written. This will help you remember it later.

* Be sure to use the person’s name at least twice during the conversation. Greeting people by their names not only acknowledges them as the essence of who they are, but also allows you to remain connected to them in more than just a superficial way. Throw it in when you’re saying goodbye – “It was nice to see/meet you, Ted.”

Repeating it as much as possible (without sounding crazy) and associating the name to something that is meaningful to you will train your mind to start focusing when you meet someone new. Boom – now you’ll never have to look like a douche again.

remembering names


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