Remembering someone’s name is important. It builds trust and rapport and strengthens the relationship. But many people are not good at it, and maybe they’ve never been, so they don’t even try any more.
I know. This was my story for years.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten much better. What was missing was a simple strategy and a little practice.
Here are 10 tips and tricks to give you a strategy. These are some of the ones I used, and still use today. Keep in mind, you don’t have to use all ten. Pick one or two that work best for you.
1. Ask them to repeat it
Many times we miss someone’s name because we’re too focused on what we’re going to say. If that happens, ask up front for them to repeat it. Say, “I’m sorry, I missed your name.”
You can do the same thing at the end of the conversation. For example, “I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, and I’ve completely forgotten your name.”
2. Picture them doing something their name sounds like
For example, Bob might be bobbing for apples. And make it detailed. Maybe he just pulled his head out of the bucket of water with a big red apple in his mouth and he’s soaked, water dripping everywhere. Next time you see Bob, this vivid image will pop into your head and so will his name.
A couple of others: Ken might like hens. Brian might be crying.
3. Repetition Repetition Repetition
Use the person’s name in the conversation with them. And do this early and often.
One way to do this is after the other person introduces themself, introduce yourself by saying, “Joan? Joan, my name is Pete. It’s nice to meet you, Joan.”
4. Word tricks
Use rhyming and alliteration and find a word that relates to them. If you meet Dale and he’s in selling, you could use “Dale is in sales.”
Other examples: Joan from Jersey, Bob from Boise, Tiny Tina, and Chase who waits.
5. The FACE method
FACE is an acronym for focus, ask, comment and employ.
Focus: Look the person in the eye.
Ask: Inquire about the name. “Is it Mike or Michael?” Or, “How do you spell that?” (If it’s an unusual name.)
Comment: Say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head “Oh, my brother’s name is Mike.”
Employ: Put the name to use. ”Nice seeing you, Mike.”
6. Identify an interesting fact or unique feature
The simple act of thinking about and identifying something unique about the person helps the name stick. This works even better if you write it down to reference later (see tip #10).
7. Ask a question
Right after the introduction, ask the other person a question. This gives you a couple of seconds to anchor their name, plus it shows that you’re interested.
8. Capture it
Jot the name down right after meeting a new person. The simple act of writing it down will help you remember it, plus you can reference it later.
9. Finish the conversation with their name
As your conversation winds down, be sure to repeat their name. “It was nice to talk with you, Tom.”
10. Keep a list of names to review
If you regularly attend a meeting, you can keep a list of everyone in that meeting and reference it before hand. And to jog your memory, include a distinguishing feature or an interesting fact about the person.
Remembering someone’s name is important, but it takes a strategy and practice. Use these ten tips and find the ones that work best for you.