Remembering Names

Well over 95% of professionals who attend my networking seminars and workshops admit that they have a problem remembering names. Most people realize that using someone’s name is beneficial, yet just about everyone admits this is something they don’t do well.

Remembering someone’s name is a fast way to establish rapport by making the other person feel important. Just about everyone knows this. So why is it that we can’t remember names?

The issue has more to do with timing and value than anything else. Remembering names is not easy, particularly during an introduction when focus is on eye contact, smiling, shaking hands, and stating names.

Here are some ideas to help you be more effective at remembering names.

Increase your awareness. Most people are not aware that the main reason they cannot remember names is due to the timing of the information. By increasing your awareness you will tend to listen better and remember more.

Recognize the impact of names. Remembering and using a person’s name is one of the simplest and most powerful ways of building trust. We love the sound of our own name and hearing it out loud makes us feel warm and comfortable.

Increase the value of a name. If the person were a long-lost cousin who was going to leave you a million dollars, would you remember his/her name? By focusing on the value of the other person, you will remember her/his it more easily.

Get into the habit of remembering names. Remembering a name is simply developing the ability to retain information at a more conscious level. Developing the discipline of consciously retaining this information really helps.

Focus only on the first name. Instead of trying to download and remember both a person’s first and last name, try to initially focus on just the other person’s first name. This simplifies the process and allows you to reap the benefits with half the pressure.

Repeat the name. Finding a way to repeat the person’s name within the first few seconds of hearing it is an excellent way of helping lock this information into your longer-term memory. Adding the name to your first question increases your chance of remembering.

Relate the name. Relate the other person’s name to someone in your personal database. As you think through your list of contacts or friends, you will identify better with it. Mentioning “I have a sister named Sue will help you greatly.

Associate the name. Sometimes it is easier to try and associate the other person’s name to some physical object or issue. Associating the name to their profession (Len the lawyer) or a physical attribute (Harry has a hairy beard) can be helpful.

Use tools. Look at the person’s name tag, ask for a business card then keep it in your hand to refer to while speaking or listening. In fact, asking for a business card at the first opportunity can easily eliminate the whole name issue.

Accept reality. Accept the fact that you will never be able to remember every name you hear. When you forget someone’s name, simply apologize, ask for their name again and use one of the techniques above to help retain the name.

Do you have additional tactics to remember names? I’d love to see them so we can add them to the list.