15 Best Tips to Help Remember Names

Do you have trouble recalling the names of those you have met before?  Lost for words when faced with a familiar face not seen for ages?  My husband and I have a system for remembering the names of new couples we meet.  He is to remember the man’s name and I am supposed to be able to come away from our conversation with the woman’s name.  Unfortunately, we usually only come away with the man’s name.  I get nervous about upholding my end and I am terrible with names so that I forget to listen carefully.  Maybe the tips below can help me and you learn to remember the names of those we meet.


– Listen carefully to the name of the person and politely ask to repeat if the name is not clear to you.  Repeat the name to yourself several times.

– Ask the person to spell their name.  If you are anxious when meeting new people this will slow everything down and lets you get a mental picture of the spelling and pronunciation.  Even if the name is a simple one, spelling of names these days has nothing to do with phonetics.

– If handed a name card, read the name to yourself aloud, one or two times.  The mind remembers better when the sound heard is familiar, such as one’s voice.  While you are conversing with the person, keep the name card in front of you during the entire conversation, so that you can refer to it from time to time until you can easily recall the name of the person.

– Recall a friend or relative that shares the same name.  You can mention how you are familiar with your acquaintance’s name by virtue of a friend or relative that shares the same name.     As you recall your friend or relative with the same name, try to make a mental association between the two.  Now this can be done in the beginning of the conversation, when there is something physical or immediately obvious characteristic that is common.  Or it can be towards the middle or end of the conversation, where you find out more about your acquaintance, be it their occupation (John the lawyer, same as your lawyer) or a striking characteristic (Ana is as talkative as your niece, also named Ana).

– If you are familiar with the etymology or origin of the name, mention that as well and spend some time elaborating on it.  You’ll be surprised at how most people are not familiar with such trivia.

-Do not self sabotage yourself with negative talk.  Tell yourself “I can remember names.”


– As you get into the thick of things, remember to use the name of your new friend as often as possible, listening to yourself as you repeat it.  This repetition in the midst of your conversation will help you.  For example, “Hello (their name), I am pleased to meet you.” And when saying goodbye say their full name back, for example “Goodbye (full name) it was wonderful talking with you.”

– From their physical appearance, create a mental picture of the one thing that stands out about the person.  For example, Sarah has short hair, and then you can mentally remember, bob-cut Sarah.  Or if Bill has a prominent nose, then imagine a big nose and remember Bill.  If Fred was wearing red, then remember Red Fred.

– If humor works for you, exaggerate anything that will help you remember the person, such as Cathy who maybe wearing a safari scarf can be remembered as Tiger Cathy.  Or if Samantha is wearing pink that day, then make a mental picture of Samantha as a Flamingo.

– Ask as much information about the person as you can. If from a different state, then use the State abbreviation to correlate with their first name.  Hannah from California can be remembered as Hannah CA, or Aaron from Arizona can be remembered as AA from AZ.

– What are their interests? What sport do they play? What is their job? In answering any of those questions, one of the replies will stand out and will make yourself be more familiar with the person in front of you.

– If you have access to a digital camera or a mobile phone with a digital camera, then snap one with your new friend.  The picture need not be the most photogenic for both of you, just a sure way to keep a remembrance of the meeting.

– When ending the conversation, make sure to repeat the name of the new friend for as often as possible.  Recall one or two points in the conversation that you will never forget and make a testament about him or her on those points, before you part.

– Immediately after meeting the person, try to jot down whatever transpired through the concluded conversation: where you met, how, why and the specifics of your conversation.  Try to keep that note in a scrapbook of small notes about acquaintances.

– Better still, at the end of each day, jot down specific highlights of your day in a journal, especially when meeting someone and you are sure to keep the acquaintance forever.

The next time you attend a high school re-union, or bump into an old friend at the mall, don’t be at a loss … snappily call them out and rekindle friendships that were almost lost but are now found and remembered, forever!


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