The ability to remember people’s names is an incredibly useful skill in business and social interactions. Do you remember how impressed or surprised you were the last time someone remembered your name? I still get impressed, and I tend to remember these people in an especially warm and friendly light.
I often fall victim to the embarrassment of not remembering names of people who approach me with, “Hi Tina, how are you?” I would panic, thinking, “Oh crap! What’s her name again?”
So in order to help myself remember names, I have developed the following techniques. I’ve used each one extensively and they have proven to be effective in my experience.
1. Trust Yourself
Many of us believe that we are horrible at names and we are very proud of this fact by telling other people about it. By relying on this story we’ve created, we instantly forget people’s names the moment we hear it, without even trying, because we are “horrible at names.” I have been guilty of this. So, stop telling people that you are bad at names. You are not bad at names; you just have not implemented a system that worked for you yet. Tell yourself, “I am fantastic at remembering names! And I’m going to start practicing now.”
2. Seeing Faces
If you know another person with the same name, try the following:
a) See that person’s face in your imagination.
b) Now, see the person’s face bounce up and down.
c) Now, see the new person’s face, bouncing up and down beside the first face.
d) Repeat steps a) and b) several times.
3. Using Sound Tricks
If you do not know another person with this same, try the following mnemonics using sound:
a) Repeat their names several times in your head, while noting the following:
- Exaggerate the sounds. Prolong the syllables. For example, “Teee-Naaa!” The funnier, funkier, and more disturbing, the better.
- Try chunking which is breaking the name into several distinguishable parts or words.
b) Associate parts of a name with words you’re already familiar with and can easily pronounce. For example, “Ramesh” equals mesh, mash.
c) For foreign, long, or unusual names, create a story. Make the story highly visual, especially great if the story sounds silly and makes you laugh. For example, “Bengodi” could be “Ben Affleck is going to become a deejay.”