I can never remember people’s names. I can be talking to someone as though I’ve known them my whole life and not have a clue what their first name is. It’s so bad that my husband knows that if I don’t immediately introduce him to someone we’re talking to, he will introduce himself and get the shouldn’t-be-a-stranger-but-is-apparently’s name for us both. It’s not that I don’t care about people. I’ve got a GREAT memory for faces. I once recognized a guy because I saw his photo on a mutual friend’s MySpace page (yeah, this was awhile ago, and yeah, he was cute). I know I’m far from the only person who has this problem, so here are several hacks that will teach you how to remember someone’s name.
Repeat their name after they say it, and when you say goodbye
This helps you cement their name into your brain. It forces you to focus on the name, even for just a few extra seconds. It’s also a nice double-check to be sure you heard them correctly. Nothing worse than calling someone “Anna” for your entire acquaintanceship when her name is actually “Hannah”. Using their name as part of a goodbye is also a nice way to show them you were paying attention to them.
Use an alliterative term…with caution
It sounds silly, but when you learn the person’s name, secretly add another word that starts with the same letter as their name as a way to remember it. For example, if you wanted to remember my name, you might think “Awesome Amy”. (You totally would, I promise.) But be careful – do NOT use any term that could be construed as offensive or demeaning. In my case, you may want to stay away from “A**hole Amy”. This is because you might accidentally call them the alliterative one day! Whoops!
Focus on them, not your own headspace
Be sure that when you learn someone’s name that you are completely focused on them. Don’t be thinking in your head “How do I know him/her/them? What do I say next? Is that fried shrimp on the buffet?” Stay present with the person and listen to their name. Conversation will come. And the shrimp on the buffet will probably get refilled later.
Connect their name to something or someone personal to you
When you learn the person’s name, pick out something to connect their name to in your own life that means something to you. For example, it’s always easy for me to remember someone’s name if they happen to have the same name as someone in my family or close friends. Maybe you meet someone named “Tom” and you think of actor Tom Hanks to remember their name. Or someone named Penny makes you think of the actual coin.
Even with all these helpful hints, I suspect that this is a problem that will plague me for a long time. The best I can do is try my best to remember someone’s name. And make sure my husband is always with me.