Trying to remember names

by Janie

My biggest problem is trying to remember names. What are your best tips for remembering names? Thanks so much. Janie

Doug's Reply: I used to have that problem too. Usually I would forget the person's name about two seconds after they said it.

The trick to remembering someone's name has five steps. It goes pretty quick once you've practiced it:

1) Get the name. During the introduction, make sure you hear the other person's name. Many people don't listen because they are distracted, worrying about saying their own name to the other person, shaking hands, etc.

After the other person says their name, say it back to them. Make sure you get the name. This is critical. If you don't get the name, obviously you won't remember the name.

2) Picture the name. Quickly think of a mental picture to go with the name - an object. If their name is Baker, think of a baker's hat, for example.

If the name isn't an object, think of a picture to go with the *sound* of the first part of the name. For example, if the name is "Moskewitcz", picture a mouse or a mosque.

3) "Face" the facts. Find something distinctive about their face. Ears that stick out, a big nose, interesting eyes, bushy eyebrows, a facial mole, whatever. Just notice it. Don't focus on anything that can be easily changed such as their glasses or their hairstyle.

4) Put it together. In your mind, put the name picture and the face feature together. And make it a funny, weird picture!

For example, if John Baker's ears stick out from his head, imagine him sitting on the throne
(the "John") wearing a huge white baker's hat (Baker). But the hat won't fit over his big ears, so there are slits on the side of the hat where the ears poke out.

5) Practice! Review your mental image again a minute or two after meeting the person. Then ten minutes later, briefly review it again, then maybe an hour later, then once more that day. The next day review it in your mind once or twice.

Your brain remembers pictures better than words. That's why you can easily recognize someone you've met before even if you can't remember their name. That's why you need to convert their name and face into a mental picture.

Also, the mind remembers odd, unusual things better than ordinary things. That's why it's critical to think of a silly image. The crazier the image, the better and longer you will remember it.

The image doesn't need to capture the entire name, like the Moskewitcz/mouse example above. The "mouse" sound will be enough of a hint (like a mental hook) so that when seeing the person makes you think "mouse" you'll likely remember the rest of the name Moskewitcz.

Third, repetition helps cement the picture in your memory. That's why you need to review it a few times after meeting the person.

This technique works fantastically after you've practiced it. I almost never forget a person's name these days.

It is worth taking the time to learn. There is no sweeter sound to a person's ear than their own name. If you call a person by name, they'll be more predisposed to listen to you, take you seriously, and view you favorably.

Regards, Douglas

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