I’m really bad about remembering names. I always remember a face, but when it comes to names… nope. I draw a complete blank.
There are times when I look at a friend (my friend, not just someone that I met one time) and literally cannot recall her name. Luckily that’s pretty rare… but it does happen. I can’t remember celebrity names, restaurant names, clothing brands, etc. Needless to say, I just really am not good with names.
My favorite class in college was my 1000-level business class. Even though it was about building a business, 50% of the class was about being the “entrepreneur about you.” My professor always said that people who are bad with names are just lazy (I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s more or less what he said/meant). I do and don’t agree. I do know that it’s not a strength of mine for whatever reason. And I do know that there are ways to teach yourself to be better at it.
Right now I just moved into an apartment in Boston with a ton of new people. It’s been really fun and the people have been so nice, but it’s so awkward when you’ve had 5 or so encounters with the person and you still can’t remember their name. At that point you’re too far in to really get away with asking
I’ve picked up a few strategies from friends and also from Google (ha) on how to remember names… Here’s what has been working for me. Please leave a comment with your own tips! Would love to get even better about it!
1. Don’t be distracted. I’m the worst about holding my phone in my hand. It’s like a security blanket and it’s really not okay. I don’t stare it all the time, but I definitely can get distracted if it buzzes and I think about what it might be notifying me about. Or I’m just simply not focused. Looking the person directly in the eye and being completely focused as names are being exchanged is the first step. The foundation if you will.
2. Immediately repeat the name in your head. “Hi! I’m Jessica.” Jessica, I’ll say in my head. If it’s a name that’s unfamiliar to me, I might even sound it out in my head almost mimicking her intonation. “Hi! I’m Annalese.” Ah-na-lees.
3. Make a reference. For me, making a reference about what the person is wearing helps the name “stick” better in my head. More often than not, the reference is what I remember first when I meet the person again and the name– which I’ve “stuck” with the reference– follows. Jessica, amazing tassel earrings. The next time I see Jessica, even if she’s not wearing her tassel earrings, I think, “Tassel earrings… Jessica.”
4. Respond politely. I always try to respond saying the name. This also helps it stick because then I can “hear” myself saying it when I need to recall. “Hi Jessica! It’s so nice to meet you.”
5. Commit. I’ve really committed to being better about this and it definitely takes practice. It’s working though!! I’m remembering a lot more names!!!