Remembering Names


It’s terribly embarrassing when you can’t really put a name to a face you remember and you’re sitting there with your eyes squinted close while pointing at the air trying to recall who the person staring back at you is. There are many people who can’t remember a new name to save their life. Now not only can this be embarrassing, it can cause you to forgo some significant networking opportunities in your professional career.

In the famous book How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote: “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” and also that, “Everyone’s favourite subject is themselves.” Remembering a person’s name and other information about them will help you to build a better personal and business relationship with him.

Of course, it is easier said than done. However, here are a few things you can do to help yourself remember names better.

Repeat The Name

The first step to improving your ability to remember the names of people you meet is to immediately repeat the name of the person when you first meet them. If you’ve just been introduced to someone and he says his name is Paresh, repeat his name immediately in the conversation “Pleasure meeting you, Paresh,” or “Hello, Paresh, nice to meet you.” This simple step will help prevent the name from going in one ear and out the other.

Ask a question using the name

Early on in your interaction with the person, try to ask him a question using his name. For example: “So Paresh, how do you like this place?” or “Paresh, how do you know Saurav?” Again, this will help prevent the name from immediately slipping your mind.

Come up with an association

The next simple step is to make some sort of association between the person’s name and something — anything — that you already know. For instance, the name Paresh may remind you of a hilarious actor from Hera Pheri. Or you could simply think of the fact that you know someone else named Paresh. Any association between the name and something you already know will suffice to make the name more meaningful and thus increase your chances of remembering it.

Use your visual memory

The power of your visual memory is incredibly effective and you should use it to your advantage. You’ve probably had the experience where, years after meeting a person, you recognize him, know that you’ve met and seen him somewhere before, but you can’t remember his name. This is because when you first met the person, you were able to see his face with your eyes, but you did not see his name. To see a person’s name, all you have to do is visualize an image that is in some way representative of the name. The association you came up with in the previous step might help you. For Paresh, you could visualize this image

Link the visual cues to an outstanding feature

Next, use your imagination to link the visual representation of the person’s name to an outstanding feature on the person. It could be Paresh’s spectacles that hold an uncanny resemblance to Paresh Rawal’s character in the movie (it would be one hell of a coincidence if it did.)

Remember even more than the name

If Paresh has a habit of twitching his nose to fix his glasses, you can picture Babu Rao’s character doing the same in the movie. The key is to really picture this and use your imagination to see this imagery as vividly as possible in your mind. With practice, it will only take a few seconds.


If you executed all the preceding steps, that same night before you go to sleep, you should be able to call to mind at least a rough image of what Paresh looked like. Then you can review all the imagery you mentally placed on his outstanding feature. You could exaggerate the images further and make them even more memorable. Also, this is the only time we will be suggesting the notion of recreating the imagery of another man before you go to bed.

Reap the benefits

By following the advice in this article, the next time you see Paresh, you’ll be able to call him by name and ask about his new glass frames. Instantly he’ll feel more rapport with you, and it is a well-known fact that building rapport helps to establish better business and personal relationships.

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