Many people have difficulty remembering names, for many reasons. It could be they aren’t very good at memorizing or maybe they just get nervous meeting new people. Whatever the problem, you may be wondering if remembering names is actually very important—well, the answer is yes.
You may have noticed that it makes you feel good when someone new remembers your name. Names are very important to people. They are a vital part of a person’s identity and one of the best ways to get that person’s attention. Remembering someone’s name helps them to feel that they are important to you, which can allow you to form a better connection with them because it shows that you respect and are interested in them. This is important in both business and personal relationships.
Unfortunately, remembering names isn’t easy for a lot of people. Many people will mention this when they have trouble recalling someone’s name. But even if you have difficulty remembering names, it is still important to try. And don’t worry—there are some steps you can take to help!
Repeat the Name
If you repeat a person’s name a few times soon after you hear it, it can help you remember it. You can repeat the name once right after the person tells it to you, and then try to use it a couple more times during your conversation if it fits naturally. You don’t want to get carried away. Just use it when it fits in the conversation because it can reinforce your memory of the name while strengthening the connection between you and the other person.
Write It Down
In addition to repeating the name, it can help to write it down. If this is a business associate, you could ask if they have a business card, which will allow you to review their name later.
It is easier to remember a person’s name if you feel a connection to them. One way to form this connection is to ask them some questions. If you are unsure of how to pronounce their name, then asking them how would be a good start. You can also just ask some questions that let you learn a little more about the person, such as what job they have or where they go to school. Asking open-ended questions is a good way to learn more about someone and to let them see that you are interested in them. It will also allow you to find out what you have in common. Additionally, while you are listening to the person, periodically say their name to yourself to associate it with what they are telling you.
Associate a Picture or Idea With the Name
Connecting a name with a picture is an effective way to remember names. It really doesn’t matter what the picture is as long as it helps you remember the name—no one else needs to know about the picture. It could be an image associated with the name itself or something you know about the person. For example, if you meet someone named Hunter, you may picture them wearing brightly colored hunting clothes.
If pictures don’t work well for you, you could try associating the name with an idea, rhyme, or poem, such as associating the name Jill with the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill. Choose whatever works best for you.
Choose One System You Can Use
For some people, it can help to choose one system and stick to it. You could have a picture for each name, such as a rose for Rose and a river for the name River. You could also do the same thing with rhymes or a totally different method—just use it consistently.
Accept That You Will Sometimes Forget Names
You are not going to always remember people’s names, and it will not help to become stressed about it. You are actually likely to have a more difficult time remembering a name if you are stressed. So, just relax and try to remember. Then, if you can’t remember the name, politely tell the person you forgot and ask them to remind you. It is better to ask than to avoid using their name or talking to the person altogether.
Remembering names is one of many social skills important to your personal and professional life. One way you can improve these skills is to take a social skills class that will allow you to learn and practice in a safe and consequence-free environment.