Notes to Self

Thoughts on psychology, spirituality and soft skill development for personal improvement


Remembering Names

"In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears." - Hubert H. Humphrey

Can't remember names? Bet you get self-conscious during social interactions too ... but that's another story.

The key to remembering names is to:

  1. Believe that remembering names is really important: Unless you strongly believe it is important to remember names, all the ideas below won't work. As Dale Carnegie put it, don't make it a matter of courtesy but a way of showing respect and attention to the other person.

  2. Pay attention: People who forget names often don't pay attention while listening. Sometimes, this is because you might have decided the other person isn't 'important' enough. Or it may be that social interactions make you uncomfortable, and your mind wanders to your looks and mannerisms. When someone is introducing himself / herself pay attention. If the name is hard to pronounce don't be shy / embarrassed to ask them to repeat it, and, if necessary to spell it out to you.

  3. Repeat: Repeat the name as often as you can during the conversation. The more you can repeat the other person's name in the first few minutes, the more you'll tend to remember it. Note that the effectiveness of this will reduce if you don't concentrate while repeating the name each time.

  4. Associate: Ask the person what his / her name means. "Sahana. That's an interesting name. What does it mean?" Even if the meaning isn't interesting enough for you, this can still help as you get to repeat the person's name.

  5. Imagine writing the name: Mentally visualize yourself holding a pen and writing down the name. Move your fingers, as you would while writing, as you visualize.

  6. Actually write it down: If you get a chance, write down their name immediately. One way to do this is to ask for their email ID or phone number at the end of the meeting. Another method is to keep a journal, at the end of the day, where you write down how / when / where you met the person and what you remember about him / her.

  7. Talk about them: This is important - after meeting someone new, talk about them later with your friends and family. Tossing around the name in a conversation, discussing the person, will make the association between the name and the person stronger. And you might learn something more about them.

  8. People are forgiving: And finally, if all else fails, try to focus on something said / done by the person. The next time you meet him / her you can always say something like - "Hey, Hi. How have you been? Sorry, I seem to have forgotten your name, but I do remember the awesome tips you gave me the last time!"...

Related » Learn some Tips to Improve your Memory