I’m pretty bad at remembering names. In fact, it’s a running joke here at OREA. It’s not that I don’t try, I just go blank when it comes to names. As leaders and professionals, however, the skill of remembering names is important and worth improving.
In order to get better at remembering names, I looked to the experts. The techniques I found are pretty consistent from expert to expert. I wanted to share the top ones with you here, on the off chance that this is a challenge for you as well.
Care to remember – The most important step is to make a conscious decision to remember names because you care about the people you meet. Remembering names shows people that they matter. This alone can have a huge impact as you put more effort into remembering.
Repeat – Use the person’s name soon after hearing it. “Where do you work, Sean?”, or “What attracted you to this seminar, Joan?”. Don’t over use it, but restating it a few times in the conversation will help to cement it in your memory.
Associate – This is the one technique that I struggle with the most. We’ve all heard people suggest that you associate someone’s name with something else, such as some feature of their face, or something that rhymes with their name. My problem is that I’m focusing on that rather than listening to the person, and I end up making a poor first impression. People who use this technique, however, often say it works very well.
Spell it – If someone has even a slightly unusual name, or one that can be spelled in different ways, ask the person to spell it. You might choose to write it down if appropriate. Spelling a name is another way to cement it into your memory. Of course, getting a business card allows you to make a few notes about the person.
Speak up – Sometimes you might want to just admit you’ve forgotten and ask for the person’s name. It’s really not that big of a deal. People will most likely understand, after all they may have forgotten your name as well! It’s much better to ask someone to repeat their name than it is to risk losing a good connection.