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  • Writer's picturePeter Yawitz

How can I remember people's names?

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

Do you have a trick to help remember names of people you just met? Thanks,

Who Was That Again?

Dear.. Was it "Who?"

When the people you’re meeting offer their names, you should say, “It’s nice to meet you, Riva, Rafe, Raffi, Rufus, Rafa,” shaking their hands as you do. Then do a quick mental recap of their names, even repeating them out loud so you can refer to them by name and perhaps introduce them to other people later.

You can also use mnemonics to keep them straight like, “Riva’s from Geneva, Rafa is from Jaffa, Raffi is daffy, Rufus is a doofus…” Actually don’t do that; those are horrible mnemonics.

I often discreetly jot down the names of everyone and where they’re sitting at the table. But don’t annotate-- meaning don’t write “Rafa -dude with greasy hair and glasses,” "Rufus -teeny tiny weaselly guy,” etc., because, GUARANTEED, someone will see those notes.

You can also offer your business card in exchange for others’ and look at their names and faces to try to link the two. Then subtly arrange the cards in front of you in the way they’re sitting.

But the best way to get to know people’s names is to actually use them in conversation. “Thanks, Jo, for preparing the summary.” “Kai, can we follow up on that?” “Really appreciate your interrupting me, Lola.” No don’t say that.

You’ll usually get immediate eye contact back once you’ve used someone’s name, so that action will also reinforce the name with the face.

Two warnings: 1. Don't overdo the name thing; “Good point, Raj.” “Thanks, Raj.” “You know, Raj….” “I was thinking, Raj…” can be completely annoying. 2. If you get people’s names wrong, you’ll feel awful, but they’ll correct you and will have forgotten about it after about five seconds. You, however, will likely berate yourself for a long time for the complete embarrassment you feel for getting people’s names wrong. Get over it. It happens to everyone.



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