Tricks to Remembering Names

Feb, 27, 2018

There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to remember someone’s name. This is a challenge for many people, present company included. Some consider remembering names an art, and an art it is if you’re in the business of sales—recalling names is a large part of your job. Saying a person’s name when you are dealing with them is the key to establishing business relationships. There’s a reason why name tags are issued at most business functions.

Try these tips:

  1. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If you use a person’s name three times within a period of three minutes, you will remember it. Say the person’s name immediately on meeting them, and then twice more right away.
  2. Listen, listen, listen. Make it a habit to listen carefully when you are introduced to someone; don’t allow yourself to be distracted at this time.
  3. Associate. Play the verbal game of trying to associate a person’s name with a memory hook. For example, if the name is Viviane Paul, think VP, as in Joe Biden.
  4. Imagine. Think of an image that will help you remember the person you’ve just met. If it helps, spell the name out in your mind for greater recall.
  5. Write it down. Or, type the name in your memo on your phone. You could add something about the person that is easy to remember, such as “John from Xerox lives in Oakland.”
  6. Connect. Establish some connection with the person, as in “I understand that John Aston is your brother? We serve on a board together.” This way, the person’s name is more likely to stay in your memory.
  7. Ask for help. Don’t hesitate to ask a friend to reintroduce you; then you can always say, “Oh, yes, we’ve already met.”
  8. If you forget, ask. Dorothea Johnson, founder of the Protocol School of Washington and the author of Modern Manners, has this to say: “Don’t focus on yourself and your fear of not remembering a name. A little memory blip is all it is, so take a deep breath and move along.” If you forget a name, she adds, say something kind: “I’m sorry, I’m a little forgetful at the moment, please remind me of your name.” Research shows that most people would rather have you ask them their name again if you’ve forgotten than to pretend you remember who they are, which is embarrassing for you both. Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and

Follow Lisa Mirza Grotts on Twitter.

Related Posts