Remembering Names is Powerful: Tactics to never forget a name

4 minutes • Nov 12, 2020CultureCollaboration
Two men shaking in front of a receptionist desk

The quickest way to make someone feel comfortable and appreciated is to know—and use—their name. This simple but powerful gesture assures people you value them as individuals, a foundation that’s critical for forming lasting work friendships.

The Importance of Remembering Someone’s Name

Think back to a time when someone you only met once or twice remembered your name—and said it with gusto the next time they saw you. No doubt, the encounter left a positive impression.

That’s because people closely associate their name with the core of their identity. Being addressed by name tells you the speaker recognizes, respects, and values your individuality.

Displaying this appreciation in a workplace environment is essential. If someone is new to the office or group, using their name instantly makes them feel more welcomed and included in an often anxiety-inducing situation.

How technology gets in the way

We obviously don’t need to tell you that technology is distracting. But it might be news that the internet and wild improvements in technology over the past decade or two has altered the way we process information. According to Nicolas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, our ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time has diminished as we become more adept at multitasking and more prone to scanning media for details.

You probably genuinely care about the feelings and wellbeing of the people you meet, especially if they’re new coworkers upon whose collaboration and goodwill you depend to get work done. Unfortunately, what the research means is that unless we have practices tactics for honing in on names and making that connection, it’s really easy to miss the opportunity, partly because of how we’re now wired.

Learn to remember names and faces with our Who's Who game, get started for free

10 Tips for Remembering Names Every Time

1. Put your phone away

There’s actually research that shows even when your phone is nearby but not in use, it’s still distracting you. When you’re in a situation where you’re meeting new people, especially when welcoming and onboarding fellow employees, do your best to have your phone out of sight.

2. Listen and repeat

As soon as someone shares their name with you, immediately find an opportunity to use it. For example, you could say, “Nice to meet you, Brian. What’s your favorite thing about working here?”

3. Ask if you’re not sure

Perhaps it’s been a few days since you were introduced to someone or you met several new people at a large event. It’s ok to confirm that you have the right name. You can ask, “Your name is Bri, right?” or even “Can you remind me your name again?” or even an artful “I think I remember your name but I don’t want to mess it up. Can you remind me?”

4. Say names every time

Say a person’s name at least once every time you talk to them. This is especially important early on. It makes them feel respected and helps you remember their name in the long-term.

5. Clarify the pronunciation or spelling

If someone’s name is unfamiliar, politely ask if your pronunciation is correct or if they could spell their name. Done respectfully, this shows that small details about them are important to you. The extra practice reinforces your memory, too.

6. Use visual cues

Some people learn better by seeing info instead of hearing it. If that sounds like you, consider writing down a new acquaintance’s name soon after meeting them. You could also ask for their business card.

If you work in a medium or large company, a staff directory with photos is useful for this—take a look at someone’s profile after you meet them to solidify a face with a name.

Pingboard profile of Julian, with headshot, contact info, bio, skills, interests, and an applause quote from a coworker

7. Name association

This is a little bit silly, but when you meet someone, connect their name with something that reminds you of them. For example, if you meet a Madison, imagine walking into Dolce & Gabbana on Madison Ave and picking out matching sunglasses with her.

8. Genuinely care when they share

Take a beat when someone tells you their name, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear it? Does it remind you of an aunt or uncle? If it’s appropriate, ask them how they got their name. See if there is a story there. Chances are if you find out they were named after the movie star in the first flick their parents saw together you’ll have an easier time recalling their name.

9. Review before you retire

Before you nod off, jog through the people you met that day. Think back to what they do, how you met, where you met, and especially their name. Sleep helps concrete memories from the day, so if you go to bed thinking about new acquaintances, chances are you’ll have an easier time retaining new info.

10. Put on your mnemonic bonnet

Think of a mnemonic device for new acquaintances. Use a rhyme, acronym, silly nickname, alliteration, quick jingle, or fun imagery that helps you elicit their name next time you run into them. If Harish has a broad smile, think of him as Happy Harish. If Tom’s tall, he’s Tall Tom. The more outrageous the mnemonic device the better the chance you’ll remember it.

Remembering coworkers’ names is important and worth investing energy in. It creates connection and makes people feel valued and understood. But if you’ve tried these name remembering tips and you’re still drawing blanks our Who’s Who game can help. Add you employees’ info to get started.

Connect your people now with Pingboard

Sign up for a free trial today

Get Started for Free
No credit card required