How to remember a name

We offer up some game-changing tips to ensure that you don't fall prey to this common human foible.

It’s the age-old social nightmare: You’re at a swanky cocktail party, casually chatting to the beau of your dreams, when a friend spots you flirting and proceeds to saunter over to exchange niceties. As your friend waits to be introduced to your potential suitor you experience the mother of all blanks, unable to summon up this particular dreamboat’s name after spending the last 10 minutes admiring their looks instead of taking note of their name. Sudden panic ensues and your fantasy of meeting said beau-of-your-dreams at the altar comes to a harsh halt. While the context may differ, it’s safe to say that most of us have been in a similar position; and whether you’re the vacant name culprit or have been on the receiving end of this social faux pas – it’s never an ideal situation to find yourself in. Here are a couple of tips to help you disguise any blanks, tease out their name and lock it into your long-term name library.

Commit to the cause
Channel life success coach Tony Robbins and enter each social situation with the determination to make an impression and commit new names to memory. Open your ears and make a conscious effort; by remembering a person’s name you make them feel important. Everybody wants to be memorable and you’ll find that others are much more receptive to you if you pay attention. Mr Charisma, the one and only Dale Carnegie once said: “a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” You’d better believe it.

David, David, David
You were just introduced to David; and while it might seem unnecessary, repeating his name a few times throughout your conversation will help to cement it into your memory.

“David, what a pleasure to meet you, I used to have a teacher named David. What are your plans for the rest of the evening, David? OK, David, have a great night, hope to see you again David”… You get the drift.

It has to be said that while this is effective, it’s not advisable to abuse this repetition method and use it out of context. Muttering “David, David, David” to yourself in the bar toilet cubicle is downright creepy and you risk other acquaintances overhearing your manic whispers.

If you meet someone with an unusual name the ol’ ‘how do you pronounce that’ question is an oldie but most certainly a goodie.

When say, a lovely lass named Sundiva exchanges names with you, asking her to spell it will likely to promote more confusion than clarity. Instead, try to break the name up using phonetic spelling, like sum-diva. Next time you see your new pal you’ll think: Beyonce, RiRi, Whitney…Or, some diva… you get the idea. And please, only use this phonetics trick for the more peculiar names – you’ll look like a right tosser if you enquire after the pronunciation of a girl named ‘Sarah’.

Muster up an image
If you are a visual creature, physical association should be a key tool in your memory arsenal. If your acquaintance has a noggin that could moonlight as a shiny bowling ball, a mental note that you’ve just met ‘bowling ball Barry’ should do the trick.

There will be times when you’ve exhausted all of these tips and if for some reason Bob is just another Tom, Dick or Harry, here are a few last resort options:

The affectionate non-name
If you can’t muster up any of the above techniques calling Mr or Mrs Blank by a generic but ultimately endearing name like ‘darling’, ‘kind sir’, ‘dude’ and the like should keep you out of trouble. It sure as hell won’t pass muster however if specific introductions are required and the spotlight is on you. Just make sure that you don’t bandy about these terms too often – your inability to remember a name shouldn’t mean that you portray yourself as a flirtatious home-wrecker by continually calling someone ‘darling’. And it goes without saying that you should stay right away from ‘sexy’, ‘sweet-tush’, and ‘tiger’ for obvious reasons.

That old trick
A sneaky but wonderfully brilliant last resort is the following mind game: First, plead guilty by saying, “sorry, what is your name again?”. They will pointedly reply with their first name, to which you respond, “no silly, I know your first name, I was after your last name”.


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