Remember the Name

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  • I got fed up of going to meetings or parties and being embarrassed for not remembering people's names. So, for both practical purposes and historical records of life encounters I use a very simple system.
  1. Choose your tool (mind mapping software, paper, index cards or even a text file you can carry in a PDA; the latter is my favourite as you can search instantly in any situation).
  2. Decide on some groups (mine's a combination of social and location, e.g. office, friends, family, gym).
  3. Over time, i.e. an ad hoc basis, make a primary list of people within each group (who you already know).
  4. Whenever you are introduced to someone, jot down this (secondary) contact under the primary contact who they are related to, along with some information you gained about them - whether it's appearance or something to do with their life.
  5. Next time you're in a location or with a primary contact and roughly know the types of people who're going to be there, do a quick search in your file.

You're not always going to know the types of people who're going to be at a party or a meeting, but when it does work, it's very impressive to walk straight into a room, shake hands and reel off a person's name and some facts about them before they've even said 'Hello' :-) -- Clie2k 04/05/2005

  • This is an emergency hack for deriving a person's name because your mind wandered during an introduction (or you were drunk). Your required tool is a very cool, straight face. So you're talking to the person and you've forgotten their name - which you know is going to land you in hot water any moment. Look them in the eye and say with a calm, casual straight face "What's your name?" They'll look at you with a degree of disappointment (because they'd told you their name about 2 minutes ago ...) and say, "Um, it's John." Frown, shake your head and say in an obvious tone, "You've told me that already, I meant your last name". This throws them, and they'll say "Oh, sorry ... It's Smith". 90% of the time, you'll walk away from the encounter with that person's opinion about you intact (unless you were really drunk, in which case no hack will save you ...). -- Clie2k 04/05/2005
  • Or there's always the obvious. "I'm sorry, I'm terrible with names. What was yours again?" In most major cities where networking is a fact of life, no one is going to be offended by this. (Except that one time I forgot the name of a woman I had been on a date with the week prior.) Jeff Porten 14:53, 7 May 2005 (EDT)
    • In my experence, the only trick necessary for short-term recall of names is active listening the first time around. Repeat the name back, out loud, while making eye contact. The trick for recalling names across meetings is to make the person themselves memorable. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes all but impossible. Jeff Porten 14:53, 7 May 2005 (EDT)
  • If you don't remember (or don't know) someone's name, just call them anything: "Hey, Steve!" This leads to either of two things. They'll say "I'm not Steve. I'm Dave.", and you say "Heh, sorry Dave. I don't know why I called you Steve." Or, on the off chance their name is Steve, they'll won't even realize you didn't know their name.
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