I’m really bad at remembering names.
There are times when I look at a friend (my friend, not just someone that I met one time) and literally cannot recall their name. Luckily that’s pretty rare… but it does happen. I can’t remember celebrity names, athletes’ names, restaurant names, clothing brands, etc. In case I haven’t made it clear enough, remembering names is not my forte.
At some point along the way, I read that people who are bad with names are just lazy. Even though I don’t entirely agree with this statement (ever been introduced to a new group of people when you have 10 different names thrown at you simultaneously?), I wholeheartedly believe that there’s always room for improvement. There are plenty of articles on the web about mnemonic and voodoo techniques on how to remember names, so here I’m sharing what has helped me navigate adult life so far. These tips have proven immensely helpful a) when moving to Manchester for my postgraduate degree, aka how to meet more people on a daily basis than what’s the word count you’re expected to hit to meet deadlines, and b) learning the socializing ropes of the marvelous marketing world
As a self-proclaimed introvert, I’m always tempted to shield myself behind my screen. This shall not pass, though. Eyes off your smartphone, shift your focus to the person you’re being introduced to and look them directly in the eye. Not too long though, that might come across as creepy
Immediately repeat the name – out loud or in your head.
“Hi! I’m Clara.” Clara, I’ll say in my head or respond politely by saying the name, which also helps it stick because I can hear myself saying the name and thus recalling it more easily later on. “Hi! Nice to meet you, Clara.” This strategy is particularly helpful if it’s a name that is unfamiliar to me; this happens quite often if you find yourself in such a multicultural environment as Manchester or London! I try to mimic their intonation as closely as possible, even if I’m going to sound a bit silly. This one is both a life-saver, although in a slightly embarrassing way: if I’ve misheard the name and thus mispronounce it, they always have the chance to correct me before we swear oaths of eternal friendship
Make a mental note.
Use a reference point to help you identify and remember the person. It could be something they’re wearing, a resemblance to someone you know, a word that is used by someone else to introduce them (I’m being told “my favorite Frenchie” does not count), or one of the first things you might discuss
Remembering names takes practice so if you really want to improve your mnemonic skills for social or professional reasons, you need to make conscious effort and try to implement the above tricks every time you meet someone new.
Last but not least, I understand that it might feel slightly embarrassing but do not hesitate to inquire about a person’s name for the second time around as long as you do so in a timely manner, i.e. a few moments after you’ve been introduced and before you fall into that 2-hour long conversation! Another (slightly sneaky) thing that I sometimes resort to is to ask the common friend who introduced us to confirm the other person’s name the moment they excuse themselves to leave the conversation.
Do you have any tips or tricks for remembering people’s names? If so, I’d be glad to hear them!
Excited (as always),