How to Remember Names
Dale Carnegie famously declared that "a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." When you use a person's name, you immediate garner their attention. Likewise, you show them that they are vital to you, and that you care about their interests. Whether you are in a business meeting or at the PTA, remembering and using the names of those around you is one of the principal keys of successful communication.
1: How to Remember Names of New Acquaintances
There are many devices you can use in order to remember the names of those you meet for the first time. The various tricks and tips work well for different people. Try each until you discover which is best for you. Better yet, use them all.
Make the First Meeting Count
When meeting someone for the first time, pay close attention to them without being distracted by others. Shake hands and ask questions about them, such as where they are from or which school their children attend. This helps to establish yourself as a thoughtful individual, but it also gives you a memory with which you can attach to the new acquaintance's name.
Use Their Name
During the initial meeting, repeat the new acquaintance's name. Saying, "It is nice to meet you, John," rather than a simple "Pleased to meet you" puts them at ease and serves as a reminder to yourself. Repeat the name at least one to two more times while you are speaking.
Focus on the Name
If you feel you have a true mental block when it comes to remembering names, a great trick is to really focus on the person's name during your first meeting. You can ask how to spell names that are out of the norm or remark on particularly interesting surnames. This also serves as a way to start a conversation with someone you have recently met.
Find an Association
Rare names can be easier to remember, but what of those that are more commonplace? The next time you meet a Jacob or Jennifer, relate the new face to a person you might already know. Famous faces work in this regard as well. If you can find a commonality between actor Will Ferrell and the Will you just met, you are more likely to remember his name.
Add a Contact
Ask to add your new acquaintance's email or social networking profile into your smart phone. Later, you can take the time to associate a picture to the name, if one is stored in their profile.
Find a rhyme, alliteration, or a saying to associate with the person's name. Just make sure that it is nothing offensive or potentially embarrassing in case the mnemonic device accidentally slips out.
2: How to Remember Forgotten Names
What do you do when you have forgotten the name of a casual acquaintance? Over time, it can feel awkward or even insulting to ask someone their name. However, there are ways to learn the name and remember it while keeping everyone happy.
Consult a Friend
The easiest solution is to ask a mutual acquaintance the person's name. You can then employ one of the methods above to keep that information in mind. However, you also run the risk of the fact that you had to ask getting back to the individual.
Consult Social Media
It may be difficult to find the person on social media without knowing his or her name, but if you have any other information about them, your research may give you a name that you can then commit to memory.
Ask for a Business Card
This is very helpful in business situations. Most business professionals still carry cards with their names, phone numbers, and email addresses. If they don't have one handy, give them one of yours and wait for a call. Chances are excellent that your memory will be jogged with a simple announcement of their name.
Tap Your Cell
No business card? Ask your acquaintance to add their contact information into your address book for you, telling them that you want to make sure the phone and email is correct. Alternatively, you may also request that they send you an email or look you up on social media. It may take a few days, but eventually you should get the person's name and can begin committing it to memory.
Turn the Tables
If you notice that the person with whom you are speaking is not using your name, offer it to them in a jovial way. A simple, "We haven't met in a while, my name is John Smith," with a smile should be sufficient to get a return. Whether it is given in jest or earnestness, you will still have the information you need.
If you are meeting someone that you have only recently met or that you don't regularly encounter, it is fine to ask them their name if done so with an apology. It helps if you can recall where you last saw each other. "I'm sorry, we met at the Smith/Jones wedding, but I can't seem to remember your name," is both conciliatory and gracious. However, you should make a note to never ask someone their name more than twice.