Six Ways to Be Better at Remembering Names

We all know someone “bad with names.” And it’s frustrating, both on a professional and personal level. Dave Brown, a founding partner with Nashville-based Southwestern Consulting, a sales coaching, speaking and consulting firm, says it’s a problem more common than you might think but if you are so afflicted, here are some steps you take to cure yourself.

“I bet we have all had this happen. You just meet someone, you’re really connecting, the conversation is going great, but 10 seconds in you forget … their name! Oh yes, all of us have been there!

As a professional, what does that say about you? They may think you don’t care, or they are not important. Nothing worse than the smell of ‘sales commission breath.’ Some people are just ‘not good at remembering names.’ That’s okay—this will help!

Today is about remembering peoples’ names. The 6 “tions” if you will. These are action words!

1.) Relaxation

Before you meet someone, take a minute to take a few deep breaths. One of the biggest reasons we forget names is because we are stressed out or thinking about something else. Take a second to get into that relaxed mindset.

2.) Repetition

Repeat their name to yourself 5-10 times within the first 15 seconds of meeting them. I do not mean you say, “Hi Jon! Jon, Jon, Jon ... ” You obviously do not want them to hear that! Definitely use these for those unique names that you really need help remembering.

3.) Utilization

Use their name 3-5 times in the first 10 seconds of meeting them. Example:

“Hi, I’m Dave, you are?”

“Mark. Mark? Nice to meet you, Mark Smith.”

“What do you do for work here, Mark?”

You’ll have said it to yourself a few times, out loud a few more times, it will have clicked, and it still seems like a normal conversation.

4.) Association

Naturally, names can have a rhyming sense about them. Someone says Hannah, you make think … banana. Play the association game. Remembering names through a literate pattern will help you remember them.

5.) Recognition

This one is powerful. Some of you may have thousands of names and faces in your head. You need to bring them to the front of your mind when you meet someone new. For example, if I meet someone named Bob, Bobby, or even Rob, I think of my brother, Bobby. I connect the two and think of him by recognition. Think of a picture or object that will remind you of that person you meet.

6.) Finalization

Finalize the conversation with them. “Jon, it was great to spend time with you today.” When you are done, either over the phone or in person, put the finishing touches by using their name again.

It is very important not to forget a name. These six ways of remembering will keep you ahead of the game and you will not be that person, “bad with names.” Work every day to get better at it and stop struggling with your conversations. Get after it!"

Southwestern Consulting, with its U.S. headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, offers sales and leadership coaching, corporate sales consulting and keynote speakers.