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Remembering Their Name


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Their Name > Remembering Their Name

Repeat it | Write it | Extend it | See it | Hear it | Play with it | Ask about it | See also


It is amazing how quickly you can forget a person's name (and how embarrassing this can be). It is well worth learning a few tricks to help fix it in your mind.

Repeat it

One sales-person's trick is to use their name three times within the first couple of minutes. The first repeat is to repeat it immediately.

Hi, my name is Jim.
Jim -- Good to meet you.

Then find excuses to use the name or just use it in questions or elsewhere.

My cousin is called Jim.

Are you one of the Berkshire Mongomerys?

Jim, can I ask you a question about that?

Write it

If you can, writing it down is a good method. This is easier in a meeting, where you may legitimately write down the names of the people there. This may often be legitimately done, for example if you are running the meeting.

Writing it down may seem embarrassing, but it can actually also say that you find the other person so important that you must keep their name safe.

You can also get them to write it, for example on an email, request form and so on. They may also give it to you written down on a business card (a good way to get their card is to give them your card).

Extend it

If you remember the person as Jim then you can easily get confused with other Jims. You may also confusing with sound-a-like names, like Tim or Wim. A way around this is to remember the whole name, including forename and surname. Thus remembering 'Jim Montgomery' is more unique and hence can be more memorable.

See it

Play visual games, for example imagining the person with their name written on their forehead or hung in a sign around their neck or above their head. Then when you see the person, you can see the name as well.

Another method is to imagine a person you know with the same name standing beside or behind them.

Hear it

Sometimes visualizing is not enough, and you remember only the shape ('It was a four letter word beginning with J...'). This can be helped by including the sound in the memory. You can support remembering the sound by saying it out loud.

Play with it

Another way is to build a story or ridiculous image around the name. We remember things that stand out, so make the name and the face stand out together. Imagine the person doing something that plays out their name. Make the name itself do something.

For example, with Jim Montgomery, you could have him dressed as a burglar, jimmying open a window on a house on a mountain ('mount') whilst shouting 'gomery cricket!'.

Ask about it

When you hear their name, ask for clarification on such as the spelling of their name ('Is that Isabel with an 'a' or an 'o'?'). If the name is unusual, you might first say what a nice or interesting name it is and ask about its origin.

See also

Finding Their Name, Using Their Name


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