It takes some mind gymnastics to make yourself efficient in remembering people’s names after you’ve heard them for the first time. We all know memory whizzes who have the knack, and after they meet a dozen people at a social or business meeting can quickly rattle off the names with no trouble.
From our school day memories, many of us can recall a teacher who assigned seats on the first day of class. Then, by the second or third day, the teacher can name every kid in the class without referring to the list. How do they do it?
There’s nothing unusual or magical about that admirable memory skill. Acquiring it is similar to learning how to drive a car, use a computer or hit a golf ball. The words that apply are simply: practice, practice and more practice.
1. Use word association. When you meet a person, repeat the name to yourself several times, then add a mental word of the time and place. There’s old joke about a salesman who used word association to remember names. When Mrs. Somach came into the store after several visits, he remembered that her name was associated with a certain part of the body, so he said: Hello, Mrs. Kelly!
Word association is an old trick, and it could work for remembering names. In addition to parts of the body, use locations, dates and names of famous people. For example, if you meet someone named Washington, Lincoln, you’ll be sure to remember the name the next time you meet.
2. When you’re conversing with a new person and want to remember the name, repeat it often in the conversation until you have it firmly in your mind. Then, afterwards, repeat the name several more times, as well as the occasion. For example, Jack Phillips of Widget Works or Mary Lou Jackson of the Springfield School PTA.
3. Make a quick note on your iPhone or other hand-held electronic notepad. This way to remember names wasn’t available in the days when there were no little wonders that could do everything from answer the phone, compute your bank account, find the next gas station and shoot photos and video footage.
Maybe you can enhance your memory by shooting a quick photo of your new acquaintance, along with keying in the name, place and occasion when as you’re talking. Then, you’ll have all the information you need just a click away.
Those little electronic doodads can work wonders for enhancing your memory for faces and names. However, you can also rely on your own skills with word association to remember people’s names after you first meet them.