Personal Growth

How to remember someone’s name – 10 tips and tricks

July 31, 2014


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.

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  • Reply Ann Musico July 31, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Excellent tips, Michael! I find if I don’t do #s 3 & 9 – the name evaporates! Hope you and Claudia and your beautiful family are all doing well! Your new little princess must be growing by leaps and bounds! Give my love to Claudia.

    • Reply Michael Good July 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks, Ann. I appreciate it. I’ll pass the love along!

  • Reply Kent Julian July 31, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Morgan and Clair…which method works best for you two?

    • Reply Kent Julian July 31, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Hope you realize I remember your names, Mitch and Courtney. I was just kidding.

      • Reply Kent Julian July 31, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        By the way, who’s this Michael guy writing this post?

        • Reply Michael Good August 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

          Hah! Love it Kevin! 😉

        • Reply Michael Good August 1, 2014 at 10:57 am

          By the way, I use a combination of numbers 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 10… Many have become a habit.

          • Kent Julian August 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

            Is there one that is your favorite?

          • Michael Good August 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm

            I guess using the person’s name right away in the conversation. Repetition repetition repetition…

  • Reply Joseph Lalonde August 1, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Great tips Michael! Another thing that works for me is to link them to another person I know by the same name.

    • Reply Michael Good August 1, 2014 at 10:58 am

      That’s a great tip, Joe, and one I actually use from time to time too.

  • Reply Char Newswanger August 1, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Love this post as this is something I struggle with big time. I am a little paranoid about it….always afraid I will call somebody the wrong name…which feels extremely awkard! I will have to try these tips.

    • Reply Michael Good August 1, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Hey Char, I know, that’s the worst! I know I’ve done that in the past. Not the kind of impression I want to make.

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