How to remember people’s names

remember people's names

A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language. Here’s how to remember people’s names

Remembering people’s names is important when it comes to career success. People notice when you remember their names, and it makes them feel good about you. They also notice when you forget their name. And, while it might not make them dislike you (it’s an honest mistake, after all) it won’t endear you.

Mr. Congeniality himself, Dale Carnegie is, of course, famous for having noted: “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” And, according to, “Remembering names of customers, prospects, networking contacts, and colleagues is critical to your ongoing professional success. It is essential in forming and strengthening relationships as well as establishing rapport with individuals and feeling confident doing so.”

I’ve gotten better over the years myself, and social media helps because now we can connect offline and see who we met in person.

Could you use some help? I went looking for some tips. Here are six strategies to help you remember people’s names.

1. Pay attention. One of the main reasons we don’t remember people’s names is because we’re busy thinking about other things, like the impression we’re making or what we’re going to say next. So, you ask the name but you don’t listen to the answer. Step one is to simply listen to the answer to the question you asked. This guy calls it “committing to the moment of introduction.” Yes. Commit.

2. Repeat the name three times. Repeat the name to cement it in your head. It’s easy to sound natural while doing this. If I say my name is Elizabeth, you can say, “Elizabeth? Nice to meet you Elizabeth.” That’s two times. Then you only need one more, like, “My mother’s name is Elizabeth,” or, a bit later in the conversation on a particular topic, “What do you think of that, Elizabeth?” See? Three times. It helps.

3. Use some sort of association. According to this Time article, you can try finding something distinctive about the person or their appearance, and relating it to their name. Remembering the mame “John” might be difficult, for example, “but if you can mentally categorize someone as John the Jogger, it may stick out more.” The alliteration is probably unnecessary. Amanda, the cat lady, if Amanda talks about her cats a lot, would likely do just as well.

You could link someone’s name to their blue eyes, their freckles, beard, or bald head, and in your head say “Bald bob.”

Another variation is to attach a visual cue to a unique facial or body feature – and add a word or sound cue to that. So, as this woman, Vanessa Van Edwards of Science of People, explains, if you meet someone named Monica with long blonde hair “we can use the ‘on’ sound from these descriptors to remember her name. Blond = M-ON-ica. Long = M-ON-ica.” Or, if you meet someone named Marilee, who has a “big, beautiful smile,” you can associate that with teeth, and the double “e” sound. So, says, Van Edwards, “the Teeth = Mari-LEE.” Research from Emory University seems to suggest this one works.

That sounds unlikely to work for me, because it requires both quick thinking and imagination, both of which are in short supply when I’m under the stress of meeting new people. But, y’know, it might work for you.

There are more examples of these sorts of mnenonics here.

6. Repeat the name when you say goodbye. “It was great meeting you, Peter,” is an easy enough thing to say and another opportunity to cement Peter’s name in your head.

7. Write it down. When you’re done meeting people, go back over the people you met and write down their names and descriptors. This will help further solidify the information in your mind.

8. Connect on social media. This is a great use of social media, as stated above. If you connect with a new acquaintance on LinkedIn or Facebook, you will know their face (usually) and can even see more of their information and what they’re like as people. You’re less likely to forget someone once you’ve connected with them online.

I also found this list of apps that may help you remember names.

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