How To Remember People’s Names

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Some guy, can’t remember who, once asked, “What’s in a name?” Well, even if roses would smell just as sweet if they were called “sweat socks,” names mean a lot in the office.

“Old-what’s-her-name” and “that guy” just isn’t going to cut it with your colleagues. Learning people’s names is not only good manners, but also good business practice, creating stronger networking connections and working relationships.

Here are some tips to help you keep track of your co-workers names:

Don’t cop out

Rather than start every introduction with “I’m sorry, I’m terrible at names,” really try and remember theirs when they say it. While it may seem like you’re giving them fair warning for your future forgetfulness, accepting that names just won’t stick is an easy out. Give yourself a bit more credit and stop relying on your one-liner.

When people introduce themselves, focus and listen intently. Make a mental note to remember who they are.

Repeat the name

Practice makes perfect and it’s best to start practicing early. Many people forget names as soon as they hear them. To avoid this, when someone introduces themselves, use their name in your response. A simple “Nice to meet you, Jim” or “Hello, Sally” will help you remember who they are and makes for a more personal reply.

To really lodge it in your noggin, try using their name during the conversation. For instance, “So what doggie tuxedo are you going to buy, Kimberly?”

Ask about their name

If someone has a particularly difficult name, ask them about it. Finding out a bit about them, their background, and how they came to be named “Maddox” or “Apple” will not only help you get to know them better, but will also make their name more than just a few letters jumbled together. Tying a story to a name is a recipe for recall.

Association

If you’re still having trouble remembering whether your deskmate is a Jessica or a Jocelyn, then it might be time for some memory tricks. Try to associate the person’s name with something about them.

Jack is the guy went on a cruise recently. Christine is the super tall girl with blond hair. Alternatively, you can try associating them with something that is familiar to you. Maybe Laura looks like your sister, maybe Charles reminds you of your old professor.

People tend to struggle with my name, so when I introduce myself, I generally say: “Hi, I’m Ishani. It’s like Ashanti, but not.” While I’m not super stoked about being tied to a 90s hip hop singer for the rest of my life, I’ve found that associating my name with something familiar really helps people recall (and pronounce) my name correctly.

Write it down

When you get a chance, write people’s names and characteristics down. Just like when you write out your science notes 535 times trying to study for a exam, the actual act of scribbling down someone’s name will help to store it away in your brain folds. Additionally, these records will serve as a solid backup in the event that you draw a blank. Your memory may fade, but your records won’t.

 Photo credit: Hello by Basissa82 on Flickr
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About the author

Ishani Nath is a proud McMaster alum, aspiring writer and current journalism grad student at Ryerson University. When she's not hammering out articles, she can usually be found on a patio or nestled on a couch trying to keep up with those crazy Kardashians. She hopes to one day have a job that makes her excited to get up each morning, or at least one that gives her free food. Intrigued? Enthralled? Learn more by following her on @ishaninath.