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How to Remember People's Names

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Posted 02 October 2015 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Personal Effectiveness skills training.

How to Remember People's Names

One of the best things you can do is to learn how to remember people's names. Remembering people's names is something that many people struggle with.

Many people hear a name, then promptly forget it within seconds of hearing it. Then five minutes later, they realise they don't know the name of the person they are talking to and are forced into the position of either asking for their name again, or saying something like, "Well, nice to meet you, mate!"

Here are some tips on remembering names.

1. Pay attention

Pay attention to the name when it is given.

Make the decision in the seconds before hearing the name to really listen-out for the name. Most people hear the name, as it is given, but don't mentally register it. You need to really pay attention to the name upon hearing it; do not let it whizz by your consciousness without your consciousness catching it.

Really make sure you listen-out for and notice the name. When you hear it, then use one of the following methods to memorise it.

2. To memorise the name; associate it to something, or someone, memorable

You can associate people's names using two methods.

Method one: The people I already know method.

If you hear a name, you probably already know someone with that name. Most names you hear, you have heard before. So if you are introduced to a person called Marilyn, you might think of Marilyn Monroe. Then you associate the new person in front of you with Marilyn Monroe. You might think of the lady's dress being blown-up as in that famous Marilyn Monroe poster.

Forge a mental link between this lady, her dress being blown up and Marilyn Monroe, and you will know this lady is called Marilyn.

If you met a person who gave you his name as George, then you might associate him as George Bush. Or St. George. Or George Clooney. Whichever George comes to your mind, then associate the new George to the already known George.

Method 2. Their Name sounds like something

For names that don't remind you of someone else, then you need another method.

Yesterday, I met a man who gave his name as Eza. Just that: Eza. I had never heard that name before, so I had no reference name to associate it with.

So, I needed to create an imaginative reference point, using the sound of his name to be its own reference. Eza sounds like, "Easy". So I said to myself, "Eza's name is easy. Eza's name is easy". That was all that was needed to associate the name.

3. Use, or rehearse the name

Once you have made your association, use the name as soon as possible, and as often as you can, without being weird.

So, once I have heard, Eza's name, I said, "Did you have to travel far to get here today, Eza?" Then, a few minutes later, I said, "Would you like a coffee, Eza?"

Use the name in conversation very soon. If you don't, you won't remember it later.

If you cannot use the name in conversation, because the situation does not allow it, then just mentally rehearse the name to yourself.

Just ask yourself how you might associate Eza's name into your memory, a little deeper. To do this, I asked myself, "I wonder what Eza is short for, Ezekiel? Perhaps."

Just this little act of thinking about the name for a few seconds, whilst looking at the person, is sufficient to drive the name into your memory.

In summary, here is the recall name method in three easy steps

  1. Decide to listen-out for the name and pay close attention to it.
  2. Associate the name to names you already know, or to other things that the name suggests to you. Example: Eza = easy.
  3. Within the first minute of hearing the new name, repeat it or use the name a couple of times.

That is how to remember names.

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