The Importance of Remembering Names & 5 Ways to Remember Them

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Remembering names is important for many reasons. The first is that it creates a better relationship; the other person you’re conversing with will feel exceedingly more comfortable around you if you can remember their name. This simple thing allows them to feel that they have more of a connection to you.

Remembering names is also important because people will feel they are important to you if their name is remembered; it makes people feel valued and encourages them to be more comfortable working or speaking with you. Remembering names helps creates a comfort level and a more familiar relationship when meeting with people for the first few times.

Names are important to new relationships, as a person’s name connects to their identity and their individuality. By using someone’s name and remembering it, it shows a greater connection to who that person is. By remembering someone’s name and using it when you see them again, a person will feel important and respected. In turn, not remembering someone’s name will make them feel slighted and very unimportant to you. Even though different people place a different emphasis on remembering names, doing so will always make someone feel good and like you more than they would if you failed to remember it.

Remembering and using someone’s name after you meet them shows how that person has made an impression on you. By remembering their name, and whatever interaction you had with them will feel more substantial and concrete. People appreciate if you use their name when you first greet them, such as saying, “It’s nice to see you again, Alice.” If you are not sure if you remember their name, do not be afraid to ask! People would rather you ask than speak uncomfortably throughout the entire conversation skirting around what their name is, although it is always ideal to remember their name initially.

Being acknowledged is an important factor of many peoples’ lives. We are constantly doing things that we believe deserve some sort of recognition. Remembering someone’s name can help them to feel that even their personality was enough to make them memorable and worth recognizing. Names are an important gateway into learning more and more about someone. By remembering someone’s name, it will create a strong foundation for a more personal connection and better long-term relationship, as respect is established from the start. Even though some try very hard, it can be challenging for some remember names, especially when we are constantly meeting new people in different circles of our lives.

Here are a 5 ways to help remember names:

1. Meet and repeat.

When you get someone’s name, don’t just nod and continue the conversation, try to plug the name into what you’re saying.  For example, if the man in front of you says his name is Mark, say, “Hi, Mark, nice to meet you.” Or ask a question with his name at the end, “How long have you been working in IT, Mark?”

Use the name throughout the conversation, but sparingly, and not in an overly salesy or repetitive way. When you’re saying goodbye, make sure to use the name one last time while looking them in the face, and make an effort to commit it to memory.

2. Spell it out.

Psychiatrist and memory expert Dr. Gary Small suggests asking someone to spell his or her name, especially if it’s an unusual one. This technique can be helpful if you have a visual memory, as it creates a mental picture of the person’s name.

It may also be helpful to ask for a business card, and to glance at the person’s name while you’re talking to them. This creates greater alignment between the person and the visual name.

Finally, after meeting someone, the first moment that you get, put them into your contacts with a few pieces of information that will help you remember them. This may include their appearance, children’s names, or interests

3. Associate.

Many experts suggest that you conjure a verbal game or image when you first hear a name. This could be an alliterative pattern involving something you know about the person, i.e. using a the catchy phrase “May from the Bay.” Or consider something about the person’s interests or job, i.e. Sarah’s in sales, so Sarah Sells.

Vivian Giang cites this advice she learned from the Dale Carnegie training course, “Picture images that sound like a person’s name — and combine it with other things you know about them. If you meet someone named Laura from Brazil, imagine her with a laurel wreath on her head swimming in the Amazon River.”

4. Make connections.

Another way association can be helpful is to make a connection between the person you’re talking to, and someone else you know with the same name, i.e. “Eric, like my brother.”

Here’s another little trick: As you meet someone, consider a famous person (or famous to you) who shares their first name and looks somewhat like them, i.e. Ryan looks like Ryan Gosling (if you could be so lucky.) I’ve found that it can be harder to make the association, but once you do, it’s locked in.

5. Choose to care.

Most psychologists and memory experts point out that one of the main reasons we forget someone’s name is that we’re not really focused on learning it in the first place. There’s too much else going on, and it’s vying for our attention.

Author Keith Ferrazzi’s first piece of advice for remembering names is to decide to care. “If you make a conscious decision that you are going to remember names,” he explains, “because you care about the people you meet, you will immediately become much better at doing it!”