Easy ways to remember people’s names

I’ve a freakish reminiscence for names, dates, and private particulars about individuals. At all times have. And it’s come in useful greater than you may count on.

If we’ve ever met in particular person, I can doubtless inform you the precise date on which it occurred, the issues we talked about, possibly what shirt you had been sporting, and undoubtedly something you ate or drank. That final one is a thriller to me, however having the ability to seize a brand new pal their drink of alternative with out having to be reminded is a fast approach to win individuals’s hearts.

Though that is one thing I’ve executed innately for so long as I can remember, as soon as I gave some thought to how I used to be making it occur, I noticed there’s a way to the insanity—one which you could repeat.


1. Cease saying that you just’re dangerous at names

That is by far the primary factor that stops individuals from studying names: They’ll emphatically inform you that they’re “terrible at remembering names.”

Saying you may’t do one thing units your thoughts up to not try this factor. It’s true with remembering names, and it’s true with . . . actually the rest.

For instance, if I’m making an attempt to eat more healthy however preserve telling myself that “I’ve zero willpower when it comes to sweets,” then, {dollars} to doughnuts, I’ll completely inhale doughnuts the second I see them as a result of, duh, I’ve ZeRo WilLpOwEr.

Saying that you just’re dangerous at names isn’t solely a self-fulfilling prophecy; it additionally will get your introduction off on the improper foot—for a bunch of causes:

  • It tells the particular person you’re assembly that they’re not value a bit of additional effort in your half to make their title stick.

  • It smacks of conceitedness as a result of, little question, the particular person you’re saying this to would really like you to know their title, they usually’ll doubtless be doing their greatest to know your title.

  • It instantly makes the dialog about you and your goldfish-like reminiscence. Not a good way to begin a relationship.

  • It helps you to absolve your self of duty for studying different individuals’s names. You’ve already proclaimed that you just “can’t,” which implies you don’t see an issue with that (there’s an issue with that).

2. Say their title again to them

As quickly as you hear somebody say their title, shake their hand, smile, and say it back to them with considerate intention.

That is the place you’re taking the time to make this particular person really feel vital, heard, and excited to meet you too. It helps to say their title prefer it’s the primary time you’ve ever heard it. Clearly, there’s a restrict to this: Don’t be a weirdo and drag it out like loopy, however say it such as you imply it.


Folks usually aren’t paying shut consideration when somebody introduces themselves. The particular person receiving the introduction may really feel nervous about assembly somebody new, or they’re extra involved about saying their very own title for the opposite particular person to get proper.

Your title can wait. Make it concerning the different particular person upfront. This exhibits individuals that you just’re and invested in them as individuals, not simply as a networking alternative.

Saying a reputation again to somebody can also be useful if the particular person you’re assembly has a singular title. It’s higher to ask about pronunciation immediately than to attempt to muddle your approach by means of it when it’s time to half ways, or the following time you see them.

3. Make associations in your head

Make as many associations in your head with this particular person’s title as you may. Do it rapidly and discreetly.

“Hey, my title is Jim.”

“Jim [pause, look them in the eyes, smile], so nice to meet you.”

In my head: “My brother-in-law’s title is Jim. [Picture my brother-in-law doing/being something specific.] My brother-in-law is a Marine, so possibly I’ll consider him in his uniform. [Look at new Jim’s face, picture Marine Jim, look back at new Jim.] Jim is a personality on The Workplace, and I really like that present. New Jim seems like he’s in nice form. I wager he goes to the gymnasium. Jim on the gymnasium.”

One caveat to this method: Don’t inform the particular person you’re assembly what’s happening in your head. There isn’t a great way for individuals to reply to these associations, and the resulting awkwardness hardly ever leads to a enjoyable dialog. Belief me on this.

I’m married to a person named Ashton, and I’ve heard the identical remark about his title a whole lot of occasions. He’s little question heard it 1000’s of occasions.

“Hey, I’m Ashton.”

“Oh, wow, like Ashton Kutcher!”


Whoa, first time ever listening to that, pal!

One other instance that also baffles me:

A pal of mine named Leeann was as soon as severely requested if she was associated to the singer LeeAnn Rimes. She then went on to clarify to this grown, grownup individual that’s not how first names work.

So make the affiliation as loopy because it takes to stick, however don’t inform the particular person what’s happening behind the scenes—regardless of how benign. They don’t care about how you remember their title; they only care that you just do remember their title.

4. Say their title slowly and deliberately yet another time earlier than parting ways

This one is tremendous easy: As soon as the dialog is wrapping up, say the particular person’s title once more. Look them within the eye whilst you do it.

“Jim, thanks for chatting. Nice to meet you!”

This half usually will get rushed for a bunch of causes, however attempt to make it gradual and intentional. On the finish of a dialog, individuals don’t usually remember what was stated, however they do remember how they felt whereas speaking to you. Make them really feel heard.

5. If you happen to do overlook, personal up to it and ask

Asking somebody to say their title yet another time isn’t the top of the world. It exhibits that you just’re prepared to admit a mistake. It exhibits that you just’re prepared to ask for assist. It exhibits that you just’re making an attempt to do higher by that particular person.

The consequence of not asking within the second is worse than the slight discomfort you may really feel asking the particular person to repeat themselves. In different phrases, it’s much more embarrassing to get hit with, “Truly, Leah, we’ve met earlier than,” a number of months later than it’s to ask through the introduction itself.

An particularly efficient components for that is to ask for the particular person’s title once more and apologize, whereas additionally stating one thing else you had been speaking about. This exhibits that you just had been paying consideration to them and the dialog, however you simply forgot a element.

For instance:

“Shoot, I’m so sorry. I used to be so shocked to discover one other Browns fan in Boise—or anyplace outdoors of Cleveland—and I spaced. Are you able to please inform me your title once more?”  

In my view, that is the solely time the place it’d be cool to say:

“Okay, thanks! Jim the Cleveland Browns fan—now I received’t overlook!” 

Then, in my head, “The Cleveland Browns are named for JIM Brown.” Maintain making these connections till they stick.

There’s no secret life hack to getting notably good at names. Like getting good at the rest, it’s about effort and follow over time. The principle takeaway I’ve for you is that by spending extra time specializing in the different particular person, you turn into extra memorable to them. You had been the one who took the time to not less than study their title, not to point out all the opposite stuff.

Folks will meet a great deal of people who don’t take the time to remember a single factor about them. If you happen to’re prepared to be current and take the time, you’ll stand out among the many plenty.

This article initially appeared on Zapier’s blog and is reprinted with permission.