Do you frequently apologize to someone you’ve just met because you can’t remember their name (even when they JUST said it to you when you were introducing each other) and then say “I’m terrible at remembering names”?
Many people say it. If you consider yourself terrible at remembering names- let me ask you this- are you good at remembering other things? Chances are you could tell me with vivid detail scenes from your favorite movies (maybe even the dialog) or what you did yesterday in great detail.
The biggest problem that is preventing you from being great with names (have you ever had a grade school teacher that learned the names of all their students in just a few days? Do you remember how great of an impression that made?) is:
Saying “I’m terrible at remembering names”!!!
If you say this, you are programming yourself to forget names. Memory is a skill that needs to be developed.
Start saying you are GREAT with names! If you practice a couple of good habits you will be amazed at the results.
Pay attention, when you are meeting someone new you can anticipate that they will be introducing themselves to you, and you want to be ready to remember their name when you hear it.
When you hear their name make an concerted effort to REMEMBER IT. Just thinking, ok their name is ______, I am going to remember that- goes miles. You could become GREAT with names just doing this alone.
Next, Say or use the name as soon as possible. A great technique is say you are meeting “Jerry” and Jerry introduces himself:
“Hi my name is Jerry”
Before you rush to blurt out your name, say Jerry’s name first and then yours:
“Hi Jerry, my name is James- nice to meet you”
You have already USED Jerry’s name once, you will find the next time you reach for it, it will be familiar, you may even think Jerry’s name when you see Jerry’s face automatically, by doing this. The more often you use someones name the harder it is to forget. Most people, their favorite word in the whole language is their own name. Is this true for you? Maybe a good example of this is when you meet someone with your same name and you already like them.
The last technique- and I am sure you’ve heard this before- is to use association. If Jerry, reminds you of your favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s Icecream, by taking Jerry’s name and linking it in your mind to something else, that exercise “embeds” it into your conscious. Think, this is Jerry like Ben and Jerrys icecream.
Lastly, for foreign names that you may not be familiar with, or that are also pronounced with a foreign accent- ask the person to SPELL their name for you. If you can visualize what the name looks like that helps greatly. Unless they are polish- then picturing what their name looks like is even more confusing. Keep trying, the more difficult someone’s name is to pronounce, the more they will appreciate that you have made the effort to get it perfect.