There is not a person in the world who has never forgotten a name; it’s normal and happens to everyone. But doing so sends a powerful message – that person is important to you and meeting him made an impact. It’s an important skill that will benefit you in both business and social settings.
Here are some suggestions to make it easier:
1. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. Repeat the person’s name several times during the conversation. Once when you first meet – “Hi Donna, it’s nice to meet you.” Again, during the conversation – “Donna, tell me about … “ and finally, when closing the conversation – “It’s been nice talking with you, Donna.”
2. Association. Can you associate the person’s name with something or someone? For example, the last name of Usher makes me think of “The Fall of the House of Usher” or an usher at a wedding. Be sure to make it a positive association!
3. Visualize the name in print. If you are able to collect a business/contact card from the person, look at the name on the card and mentally connect it to the person’s face. Otherwise, imagine the name written out across their chest or forehead and connect it with the person in your mind.
What do you do if you have forgotten the person’s name? You just ask – “I’m sorry, would you please remind me of your name?” Again, it happens to everyone, and there is a good possibility the person may have forgotten yours as well. If you can, say something about when you last talked or where you last met; it tells the person she did make an impression on you.
Try out these suggestions and see what feels comfortable for you. Start with just a few names and build from there. Remembering names is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced before it can be perfected — it does not come naturally for most people. Have fun with it!