How to Remember a Person’s Name (And What to Do When You Can’t)

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 15, 2011 · 58 comments

in Money & Career

You’re at a business convention chatting with a colleague, when up walks a man, the head of some major department, a guy you know you’ve met before. “Hey there, Sam!” he says as he shakes your hand. Then he waits for you to introduce him to your colleague. The only problem? You cannot for the life of you remember his name. Awkwardness ensues. And a potential business deal evaporates.


The key to being a charismatic gentleman is making others feel important. And what better way to make someone feel important than by remembering their name? Remembering someone’s name tells them that they were special enough to have made a real impression on you. And everybody wants to feel special. Thus there are few better, and easier, ways to build rapport then to answer, “You probably don’t remember my name,” with, “Of course I do!”

And saying someone’s name is a powerful persuasion tool. It makes people feel at ease and comfortable. Legendary success writer and Mr. Charisma himself, Dale Carnegie, once said that “a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

But if you’re like me, remembering names isn’t your strong suit. I can remember faces and I can remember names, but I often have trouble putting the two together.

There’s actually a perfectly good reason for this common human foible.

Our brains process faces differently than other bits of information, including names. A study done in 1971 showed that we have a much easier time recalling faces than we do abstract ideas like letters, numbers, and yes, even names.

But fear not, aspiring gentleman. With a little bit of savvy and know-how, you can overcome this shortcoming and become a master at remembering names. You can be the man who walks into a party and works the room like a pro.

Today we’ll discuss some of the tried and true methods for remembering people’s names, throw in some ways to take advantage of new technology to aid in this process, and end by outlining how to deal with a situation where your best intentions fail and someone’s name slips your mind.

How to Remember a Person’s Name

Commit to listening and remembering. Most of us are lousy listeners. In social situations, we fall prey to conversational narcissism and are always waiting for a moment we can jump in and add our two cents. If you’re concentrating on what you’re about to say when someone introduces themselves, their name will go in one ear and out the other just like that. If you aren’t intently tuned in during that tiny window, the opportunity to learn their name passes in mere seconds and you’re sunk.

Before going into any social situation where you’ll be meeting new people, commit yourself to being as attentive as possible during introductions. Just having that extra mental focus can go a long way in helping you remember names.

Repeat early, repeat often. When you first meet someone, repeat their name as soon as you learn it. That will help sear the person’s name into your memory. Say something like, “Hi Jill, nice to meet you!” or “Pleasure to meet you, Jill.”

After that initial repeat, use the person’s name as much as you can throughout the conversation without coming off as a cheesy used car salesman. “Where are you from, Jill?” “How’s the weather in Toledo this time of year, Jill?” “How do you know the bride and groom, Jill?” You get the idea. Again, be natural and don’t over do it.

To really burn the name into that noggin of yours, make sure to end your conversation by repeating the person’s name one final time. “Great meeting you, Jill. I hope we can stay in touch.”

Not only does this technique help you remember someone’s name, it also makes you seem charming. As we mentioned, people love the sound of their own name.

Have them spell it out. Hearing a person spell their name can help you remember it, especially if it’s an unusual name. If it’s a common name, but has different spelling variations, ask the person which variation he or she uses. For example, if a person’s name is Bryan, you can ask, “So is that Bryan with a y or Brian with an i? He answers, “It’s Bryan with a y.” Now whenever you see that person, you can think, “That’s Bryan with a y.”

Use a mnemonic device. If someone has an especially unusual or a foreign name, even having them spell it out won’t help much. In that case, try to break their name up into real words that sound like the syllables in their name. Katie Couric famously revealed that she remembered how to pronounce the name of the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by thinking, “I’m a dinner jacket.” This technique is highly effective. After reading Couric’s comment, I have never forgotten his name or how to say it.

Visualize the person’s name on their forehead. As soon as you hear the person’s name, visualize their name stamped in big block letters across their forehead. Keep that mental picture on their forehead the entire time that person is in your presence.

Associate the person’s name with an easy to remember picture. After hearing a person’s name, make it as tangible as possible to you by associating their name with a picture. Be as creative as you want with this. There’s no wrong or right way to do it. The association just needs to be meaningful to you. For example, if a person’s name is Leif Bernstein you might imagine Papa Bernstein Bear holding a big leaf.

Associate the image that represents the person’s name to an outstanding facial feature on the person. Again, most people can remember faces and names, they just have trouble remembering the two together. Here’s how to fix that. Take that visual representation you made of the person’s name and associate it with an outstanding physical feature that the person has.

Let’s use our example of Leif Bernstein. Our picture for his name was Papa Bernstein Bear holding a big leaf. Now we need to associate that image with a feature of Mr. Bernstein. Let’s say Bernstein has big ears. You can imagine Papa Bernstein Bear with huge Ross Perot ears while holding a leaf. Your association can be different–just use whatever works for you.

Takes notes. If you’re a salesman or in another profession that involves the frequent and vital making of new contacts, be sure to carry a pocket notebook with you. After meeting someone new, write down his or her name in your notebook along with some notes about who they are and what they do. Before a meeting where you may see them again, take a moment to review your notes.

Practice, practice, practice. Remembering names is a skill that takes practice to develop, so put yourself in situations where you’ll have to learn new names. Use these techniques as much as you can.

Tech Tools to Help You Remember Names

In addition to using mnemonic devices, there are several online tools you can use to help remember the names of people you’ve met. These are especially handy if you haven’t seen the person in awhile and you know you’re going to be seeing them at an event and want to make sure you can put a name with a face.

Facebook. Facebook puts a picture of the person right next to their name. How easy is that? I plan on reviewing Facebook before I go to my 10 year high school reunion this summer. I don’t want to have long-lost high school friends come and give me a hug while I say, “Hey you! It’s really you!”

Twitter. Yeah, I Twitter. [Insert obligatory remark about how Twitter isn't manly] I’ve found it to be a useful networking and name remembering tool. When I meet a new person at an event, I’ll often check to see if they have a Twitter account. If they do, I’ll follow them. People usually have their name (or some variation of it) as their username and a picture of themselves as their Twitter profile pic. Anytime that person tweets something, I see their name and face. Bam. Name review.

Rapportive. Rapportive is an awesome little browser plugin for gmail. Rapportive shows you a detailed description of the person that you’re having an email conversation with. If available, Rapportive will show a picture of the person. This has come in handy when I’ve met someone in person briefly, but then engaged in email conversations with them later. Every time I open an email from them, I see their bright shiny face. Name with face burned into brain.

What to Do When You Forget a Name

No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to forget a person’s name every now and then. If you do, just politely and apologetically say, “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name. What is it again?” Simple. Ask them as soon as you realize you’ve forgotten their name. The more time you spend together, the more offended they’ll be when they realize you don’t know their name.

But having to ask for someone’s name again can make you look bad. I mean, you’re basically telling the person, “You weren’t important enough for me to remember you.” If your memory fails you, and hey, we’ve all been there, here’s how to deal with it as smoothly as possible in several different situations.

When you part ways.

If you realize as you part ways with someone that you can’t remember their name, ask if they have a business or calling card you can take home with you. This is great, because not only do you now know their name without having to ask again, you’ll always have something you can take out and review at home.

When you see someone you’ve met before.

If you encounter somebody you know you’ve met before, but you can’t put a name with their face, don’t guess their name if you’re not sure. For some reason, having someone say your name wrong always feels more offensive and noticeable than simply being asked for your name again.

So if you can’t remember someone’s name, you have a couple of options. The first is a little trick I’ve used several times with success.

You simply ask the person, “Excuse me, what was your name again?”

The person will likely respond with their first name.

You then respond with a charming laugh and a smile, and say, “Oh no, I met your last name.”

People seem to be more forgiving of someone forgetting their last name–not so much with first names. With this technique you’ll get the person’s first name without them knowing you had forgotten it. And if you forgot their last name, now you have that too.

Of course this little trick can backfire if they respond by asking, “My first or last name?”

If you’re not a gambling man, you can simply walk up, stick out your hand, and say your name. “Brett. We met at the Christmas party last year.” They’ll likely respond in kind by saying their name. Chances are, he or she had forgotten your name too! By taking the initiative, you remove their burden of anxiety as well. Very gentlemanly.

When you’re making introductions.

What if you’re standing with a friend, and someone walks up and waits for you to introduce them, but you can’t remember their name? Say to the person, “Have you met my friend, Mike?” The person will then hopefully say to Mike, “No I haven’t. Nice to meet you. I’m Luke.”

Alright. Now it’s your turn. What tricks do you use to remember people’s names? Share them with us in the comments.

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bryan June 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Oh, I struggle with this so much. Mostly because I’m not fully engaged in that critical moment at the beginning of the conversation when someone says their name.

Not remembering someone’s name the second time you meet them is not terrible, but it’s particularly bad if you’ve known them for a while. I interact with a lot of people at different companies, many of whom I know by sight, but I don’t remember their names. It can be embarrassing when I walk up to Bill, who I’ve talked to many times, and ask, “Where is Bill’s Office?”

The other bad one is when you meet someone out of context. For instance you randomly meet someone you know from work at McDonald’s. You know you know them, but you don’t know how you know them, or for how long you’ve known them, and you can’t recall their name–even if it’s someone who’s name you would normally know. That can be embarrassing. Somehow, the environment affects your memory.

2 Matt June 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm

My girlfriend sometimes laughs at me, but I like to know the name of my waiter/waitress when eating out, so the first thing I’ll do after they walk away is say aloud to her: “Out waitress’ name is Katie”. (Though ideally, I say the real name, and not just ‘Katie’, haha)

If I didn’t catch the name, I’ll ask her, because after about 10 seconds she’s already forgotten and moved on to the menu. She doesn’t appreciate the importance of knowing (and using) a person’s name, so she doesn’t even listen or pay attention most times. But if I want her help, I know I need to ask as soon as the waitress walks away.

It’s definitely a way of getting better service to use their name if you need to grab their attention. Most people appreciate being called by name, rather than “hey, waiter!”, although it’s not 100% crucial. I still find it’s a good habit to keep, and have been making a conscious effort to remember names when I meet someone, ever since high school. (Because hey, it’s part of becoming a man, in my opinion, to show respect for others)

3 Eric June 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Great tips, Brett! I think the first step, “Commit to listening and remembering,” is the most crucial. Most people are constantly telling themselves and others “I’m bad at names.” This might be true, but it’s usually just an excuse to not try.

One trick I use that has worked well: as the conversation continues, whenever I’m not talking, I look around the circle at the people I’ve just met and repeat their name in my head as many times as I can. So while this new guy is talking I’m thinking “Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg Greg.” This works particularly well while the person you just met is talking.

I then challenge myself after I’ve left the social situation to visualize the group of people and mentally go around the room or the circle and tell myself each person’s name: “Ok, she was Shelly and next to her was her husband Greg, he was Joe, he was Anthony and she was Cathy…” etc.

4 Susan Cook June 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hope you don’t mind a comment from a woman – since I tend to suffer from this very problem, I tell people upon meeting them, “I’m good at remembering faces, but bad at names, so please forgive me if I have to ask you again.” It’s true, and it helps smooth over any awkwardness if I do indeed forget.

5 john June 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm

associate the first letter of their name with a word that describes them and starts with the first letter of his or her name, or with a descriptive word that rhymes with their name. Think about this word for a minut, and the name will come to you automatically. As a medical student I do this a lot when it comes to patients, colleagues, nurses, heck, even curriculum. For instance,

a guy name Mike, and he has a distinct mole on his face. mmmole-mmmike.
Or Heather, who’s really hot (of course, it’s pretty easy to remember the name of a hot chick as long as you focus on what they say and not just their hot bod)
Jimmy, who’s tall and slim like a slim jim – jimmy!
Or Tommy, who is big tall and bald, associate him with a big tumb, and wham; tommy!
Or, if you like, Johanna, who kinda looks like a banana.
And then you have Adam, with the pronounced adam’s apple.
Additionally you get difficult names, like, professor Burzynski who has brown hair and is stinky every morning. Or Mhairi who’s very hairy, mkay. You get the picture.

This also makes you think about the name additionally, which makes the name stick better in your head. Stereotyping and weird associations is allowed, since you never say it outloud. Humor, of course. And, the best people on mnemonics advise that you SHOULD use the first association that comes to your mind, and stick with it, eventho you dont think its very good.


6 Mike June 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Great tips, on a follow up, what would be some ways of exiting these types of conversations politely before the awkward lull?

7 Sean June 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm

One that worked for me really well was the “Who has the worst Student ID or driver’s license picture” game. Everyone has a bad one, and if you show off yours, they’ll usually try to out do you and say something like, “Oh, that’s not that bad. Look at THIS.” Ta-da!

8 Wayne June 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Hey there … buuckarooo.

9 ham June 16, 2011 at 12:32 am

Theres this guy on my bus that ive seen nearly every day for about 4 months and I say hello and have a brief conversation. But I forgot his name and I still don’t know it. What do I do in this situation?!?!

10 HOBBS June 16, 2011 at 1:22 am

one technique i’ve used after coming across someone is “are we facebook friends, wait i dont think so, whats your email? i’ll add you…” either the email has clues or once i “add” them on my iphone i’ll instantly know, then end off saying “alright ‘joe’ nice seeing you again, glad we’re ‘friends’ now hahaha” sounds cheesy but it’s worked.

and once i was so desperate to remember a classmate’s name that i asked to play tic tac toe, as soon as i won i wrote my name in bold on the grid to signify my win, as soon as i let him win, he did the same.

11 Andreas Dunker June 16, 2011 at 2:54 am

Great tips – thanks!

Usually I find it easier to remember the first AND the last name. “John” ist just a sound, but “John Doe” has a sort of a melody which fits better in brain.

12 William June 16, 2011 at 3:27 am

My preferred method: when exchanging contact information (i.e. plugging someone’s number into my phone) I ask for the spelling of his name. I guess it could backfire if it’s simple, but even Jon/John or Mark/Marc have different spellings. This also works well for last names. I always include last names in my contact info or I’ll certainly forget which Andrew is which! It also makes it easier to look them up on facebook later.

13 Andrew June 16, 2011 at 4:22 am

The most helpful advice I ever learned on committing a name to memory: when you hear someone’s name, make an association between that person with someone you already know. You can make a mental note or even say out loud, “Your name is Luke? I have a brother named Luke.”

My 2nd most helpful advice is for situation is which you will sit in a room full of new acquaintances: write out a simple seating chart and keep it close to you. Often at the start of a meeting everyone will share names – this is your chance to make a quick diagram of the room and write names down.

14 Altus June 16, 2011 at 7:03 am

Awesome article, thank you!. ;-)

15 Tyler S June 16, 2011 at 7:36 am

I am a high school teacher in Hartford County. Every year I have to learn 125ish new names in a short matter of time. What I recommend, especially if you are being introduced to a group, is: while the conversations are going on, and questions and comments are being directed around the group, every time someone new speaks, mentally repeat that person’s name before they start. See if you can remember it within their first five words…make a game out of it so to speak. You are listen to the conversation but every time someone speaks you are reiterating their name. Good luck gentlemen.

16 Remy June 16, 2011 at 8:05 am

I struggled with this as well. Not only face to face but on the phone as well. On the workplace I always had to ask what his or her name was. I do like it though when people remember my name so I do know it’s flattering effects. And not to forget those akward moments where you it is just too obvious for the other person that you actually don’t know his name.

17 Marc June 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

It sometimes helps to visualize all the other people you know with the same name. Then the next time you see them you can remember the group and the name comes back.

18 Beverly June 16, 2011 at 8:55 am

When I meet someone I will repeat their name in my head whle looking them in the face, kind of like a mental picture. It is a trick that has helped me tremendously. I still call people “Dear”, “Baby” and “Sugar”…it is a Southern thing, don’t ya know. Til I am mad at them and then their name comes out, if I know their entire name that is used, you know…”Teresa Jean Jones what on earth do you think you are doing?”

19 Kyle Mercer June 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

It was recently suggested to me that I spell the person’s name backwards in my head. Really seems to work, I suspect that it helps to wire the name into my mind in a different way.

20 Jaron Deerwester June 16, 2011 at 10:35 am

Failing all else, you can always do I.

“I’m sorry, I really can’t remember your name. Yep, I’m terrible with names. What’s your name again?”

I usually remember on the second attempt. The little jolt of embarrassment really helps to cement a conversation partner’s name in my mind. :p

21 gcb June 16, 2011 at 10:52 am

I seem to recall a study that said that, when a person hears their own name spoken by someone else, there’s a little “burst” in the brain (of the good kind). So calling someone by name can (I think) engender better feelings towards you. No reference right now, though, sorry.

22 yabachi snitzel June 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

When I forget someone’s name I say to them: “How exactly to you spell your name?” Then they spell it, and then I got their name. But if their name is something simple like Bob, or Harry, then I will look stupid. So, in such situations I respond, “No! I mean your full name!” Or I say, “No! I mean what is your middle name?” These tricks have always worked for me.

23 Belligero June 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Good advice here, except for the “…I meant your last name!” ruse, which – aside from being super lame – has the potential to be far worse than just asking for the person’s name again. It’s better to be thought of as forgetful than deceitful.

24 Jason June 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I have the uncanny ability to recognize faces and where I know them from, and usually their name, it’s almost become like trivia when I see someone to guess it, especially when I’m watching television.

If you don’t have this ability you could always use Michael Scott’s way of doing it…

25 Keith VanDyke June 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm

WOW! Thanks!
For the longest time I’ve had a problem with this, I could remember a face for years (even the time and place) but couldn’t remember the name for more than second! Now that I’ve passed the half-century mark I would blame it on “Old-Timers”. Seeing that I’ll soon be embarking into a new job field this little bit of information will be really helpful. Thanks A.O.M.!

26 Joseph June 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I was speaking with a bank official (say Tom) when one of his superiors came by.(say Fred). Tom said, “Mr. Fred, you remember Mr. Joseph, don’t you?” Tom was a class act, and I told him so. I learned from this experience how to prevent someone from experiencing a possibly awkward situation.
Regarding not concentrating, Charles Gallagher, SJ, once said, “We listen with our answer running.”

27 Martin Redford June 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

This is actually great advice, there is nothing more charming in a man than he who remember the names of all people he meets. It shows you are always in control of the situation and well aware of what is going on around you. To enhance this post, you should read about The Perfect Male Attitude

28 kendallpeak June 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Going mentally through the alphabet isn’t sure fire, but works often. Often when you get to the letter their name starts with, the name comes back to you.

29 Lee June 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I cannot tell you how often this happens to me. I struggle all the time with this issue. I find it helps to write down names. But that isn’t foolproof. I’ll be putting the information in this post to work asap.

30 Mat June 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

One thing that can sometimes work (depending on the situation) is to act as though you’ve just met until they remind you that you’ve met before. Then when they tell you their name and where you met previously, you can counter with “That’s right! You were the one who…”. Not as good as remembering there name, but they still fell memorable because you remember something about them even if not their name.

31 Adrian A June 16, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Sometimes to make someone feel special when I forget their name I say, “I would really like to remember your name, can you tell me it again?”

32 almost there June 17, 2011 at 3:15 am

I am terrible with names. I was introduced to my son’s girlfrirend’s mother once and I thought. Ah I will remember her name if I associate her with Paul McCartney. A couple years later we were going to dinner with her and I asked my wife if she remembered her name. No. I knew it was either Peg or Ilean. It was the latter and I guessed correctly.

33 Nick Robinson June 17, 2011 at 5:28 am

Very good.

LinkedIn is great for remembering and managing connections you’ve made when networking.

I only ever use it for people I’ve really actually met, in the flesh. It puts their photo in my address book.

And what’s this rubbish about twitter not being manly…

34 Cpt Lars June 17, 2011 at 7:31 am

If I’m at a party with friends who I’m introducing around, I let them know beforehand that if I don’t introduce them it’s because I’ve forgotten the person’s name. That way they can introduce themselves and get that person’s name for me!

Always make sure to apologise for being so rude as to not introduce them as soon as this is done though, *wink wink.*

35 Cpt Lars June 17, 2011 at 7:37 am

PS. It’s easier here in the UK where you can refer to almost anyone you ever freshly meet / have met before as “mate” without any offence intended or felt. That gets you through until you can ask someone else their name, and saves a lot of embarrassment.

36 MJ Witt June 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

Great article. Brings to mind a scene from one of my favorite movies (and one which manners and being a man play a big role), “Blast from the Past”. Lead character is in a bar and is introduced to two new people and he shakes there hands and says their names repeatedly during his conversation with them. Funny scene because he overdoes it to the point of awkwardness as warned about in your article. Still, a good tactic if done correctly.

37 Vinicius June 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

I have met this guy at school and since them I started to hang around with him. He said his name on the first time, but I didn’t taked much care of it and have forgotten. It was kind of embarrasing when I had to ask it again after several weeks.
Now I will always remember those tips.

38 Marilyn June 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm

When someone tells me their name I repeat it adding “…as in XXXXX”. XXX being the last name of someone famous. Example: I met some one named Richard. I responded “As in Richard Nixon”. This man was a Democrat so he had a strong reaction but that was fine and part of the fun of remembering his name. He’ll never forget me nor I him.

39 Fred June 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Your suggestions are much better than my usual “HEY! There’s that moth*****ker from the party last week! HA-HA, what you been up to you son-of-a-bi**h you?”

40 ARP June 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm

As some have alluded, if you know someone else knows the person’s name (and its safe to ask them), try to get their name from that source.

You can probably fake it for a minute or two to try remember or to learn their name from another source. But if you can’t remember and nobody mentions it, fess up and ask their name. Nothing irks me more when somebody calls me “buddy,” “brother,” “pal,” etc. because they obviously can’t remember my name. I’m much more forgiving if they just forgot.

The “partial” introduction trick is risky. That’s when you introduce someone you know to the person you don’t know in hopes they reveal their name. So, you walk up to the mystery person and say, “I’d like for you you meet my friend Joe.” without saying their name (because you don’t know it). Hopefully, they respond by introducing themselves to Joe, “Hi Joe, I’m XXXXX”. However, the risk is that they just say, “nice to meet you Joe” and don’t reveal their name. Or, they can sense that you don’t know their name and it irks them.

41 Cosmo June 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I have often apologized by using an old Red Skelton line: “I’m terrible with names; just ask my wife, what’s-’er-name.”

42 Eliot Truelove June 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I often, when not remembering someones name, do exactly as you said but add this: “I’m sorry (persons name), i’m terribly bad at remembering names. Last time we spoke you mentioned (any relevant topic you can remember from last time they spoke, whether it be work, relationships, or hobbies; and then add) How is that going? -or- How are they? -or- Did you get a new (knife, gun, fishing rod, car, etc) -or- Any new beer youve discovered? if you remember any detail like this you can build on it and it will endear you to them. They will brush off the fact you didnt remember the name and the fact you remembered the conversation shows they made an impression (even if its very little).

43 JeffC June 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

You’re right: twittering is not manly.

The first two techniques are usually all I need. If I’m looking at the person’s face and say his name, it’s almost always locked in.

44 brews June 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm

I just usually add something to their name, better if it rhymes. Trudi fruity, pistol Pete, magic Angela, etc. Works all the time, often times the nicknames stick so everybody calls them that.

45 Rishona June 24, 2011 at 11:32 am

Wow…this blog is just amazing (& I’m not even a man)! Great advice here. I have one of those names that most people either forget, mispronounce and misspell. As someone on the receiving end of this (constantly) I would MUCH rather that someone ask for clarification or just admit that they forgot my name; then to just butcher it or even worse, call me the wrong name! Also if you do so inadvertantly, then please…PLEASE be kind enough to apologize!

46 Kazuo Takahashi June 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I tend to worry so much about the dribble that’s about to come out of my mouth; proper English, pronunciation, do I have bad breath, is that missing tooth going to show etc., that I totally zone out when a new acquaintance is talking to me. Five minutes later I’m like “What the hell is your name?” I guess it’s a confidence issue. Man I suck. Great article, btw.

47 Danny May June 27, 2011 at 4:28 am

I never had that problem Im pretty good with names and faces *shrugs* I guess it’s my talent

48 jon June 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

My wife an I always do the “oh, have you met my wife” thing because i am horrible at names and it works pretty well.
I just love the suggestion of saying “hi, my name is Jon, we met at the blah blah blah”. that is great. gives both parties a way out of not remembering. not great in all situations but still really good. thanks for the tips. hoping this will help.

49 Mike June 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

I have a terrible memory in general, so names are definitely not one of my strong suits. Great points about repetition, it has always helped with my memory. Also, having the balls to tell someone you forgot their name and asking for it again is an honorable quality. Stalling, hoping that you will figure it out before they realize is not a good plan. As he said, the longer you are with someone, the more insulted they will be by you not knowing their name. In the end, you will likely break down and ask anyway, so just get it out of the way early.

50 Blake June 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

“If you’re not a gambling man, you can simply walk up, stick out your hand, and say your name. “Brett. We met at the Christmas party last year.” They’ll likely respond in kind by saying their name. Chances are, he or she had forgotten your name too! By taking the initiative, you remove their burden of anxiety as well. Very gentlemanly.”

I’ve done this for years assuming that people don’t remember my name or how they know me. And if I’m not sure how they know me, I just say may name followed by, “and I’m sure we’ve met before. Perhaps…?” Works every time.

51 Kyle July 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

I’ve always had trouble with this. I started trying repeating the name often, when I’m meeting or leaving someone, and it’s really made a difference.

52 HUGO July 9, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I try to find out what a person does or something interesting about them. Then, when I introduce them to someone else I’ll say something like, ” This is Mike, he just got back from climbing Mt. Everest.” It helps me remember their name.

53 Raj Asarpota July 12, 2011 at 12:40 am

I always have trouble as well. Over the years I have used all the techniques mentioned above with varying degrees of success but I keep trying.

54 Mike July 13, 2011 at 12:29 am

Is this a picture of Robert Neyland?

55 Audra Krell July 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

I mentally write the person’s name. Something about the virtual writing of their name really helps. We could combine your and my idea, by mentally writing their name on their forehead.

56 Ted August 9, 2013 at 5:23 am

I credit this to Kevin Trudeau. Using ridiculous images conjured up with the name helps me. IE
Shaun becomes a shivering sheep recovering from having its fleece removed, but with the face of the contact.

Edward has a gigantic wooden head

Donald, a gangster with a zimmer frame

Elizabeth has a bath full of lizards and eels

Have a go. It works for me and its a lot of fun!

57 Peter Elekes August 24, 2013 at 9:24 am

“a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” (Quote from Dale Carnegie)

This is not really true, for example in Hungary where I live, its regarded an awkward marketing trick when people use others’ name too often.

58 Barbara March 29, 2014 at 4:20 am

I always try to think of a nickname – and take the first that comes to mind.
That has helped me a lot, even if the nickname was “fluffy”, “stalker-san” or just something like “Eddy”. Amusingly, most resemble character traits in some way

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