How to... Remember People's Names

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fajno

You can remember many names when you use the right memory technique.

Remembering people's names needs a slightly different approach from all the others explained so far in this section. The techniques used, though, are quite simple.

You'll find these tools helpful:

Using the Tools

1. Face association

Examine a person's face discreetly when you are introduced. Try to find an unusual feature, whether ears, hairline, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, complexion, etc.

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Create an association between that characteristic, the face, and the name in your mind. The association may be to link the person with someone else you know with the same name. Alternatively it may be to associate a rhyme or image of the name with the person's face or defining feature.

2. Repetition

When you are introduced, ask for the person to repeat their name. Use the name yourself as often as possible (without overdoing it!). If it is unusual, ask how it is spelled or where it is comes from, and if appropriate, exchange cards. Keep in mind that the more often you hear and see the name, the more likely it is to sink in.

Also, after you have left that person's company, review the name in your mind several times. If you are particularly keen you might decide to write it down and make notes.

Summary

The methods suggested for remembering names are fairly simple and obvious, but are useful. Association either with images of a name or with other people can really help. Repetition and review help to confirm your memory.

An important thing to stress is practice, patience, and progressive improvement.

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Comments (2)
  • This month Michele wrote
    Hi becca44,

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I am one who needs to use techniques to remember people's names. I instantly remember faces, not their names. I am in awe of people who have mastered the skill.

    Michele
    Mind Tools Team
  • This month becca44 wrote
    Hello; I'd like to provide a couple of friendly notes regarding "remembering names". Back in the 1991-1992, and 1992-1993 school years (junior high, or 7th and 8th grades); I had one particular teacher who taught 7th grade English and 8th grade Spanish. I was her student for BOTH 7th grade English AND 8th grade Spanish.
    Anyways, each school year, which would start in September back then, she would know each student's first and last name by the SECOND day of school, for EACH of her several classes. Of course, she had the class roster for each class ahead of time; yet, after roll call on the first day, she could even remember EACH student's first and last name by face--even outside of the classroom. Either she had excellent memory skills or experience (likely)--AND/OR: she used/had been using some type of technique (likely both)!