Most of us struggle to remember the names of people we’ve just met. It’s awkward! Haven’t you ever been introduced to a new person, chit-chatted with them, turned around to leave, and asked yourself, “I wonder what that guy’s name was?” I’ve done it many times, unfortunately. If you are the leader of a Sunday School class or small group, you’ve got to remember member’s names and the names of guests who attend your group. This happened to me just last week! I met a family of 5 who were new to our church, and I had to quickly learn all five of their names, introduce them to others, and then remember them after the worship service. Thankfully, I did, and all went well. But it doesn’t always go so smooth.
Failure to remember people’s names often stems from our inattention. If I’m not fully engaged in the conversation, if my mind has drifted to that list of unfinished tasks I left at the office, or if I’m thinking about what I’m supposed to bring home from the grocery store, chances are I’ll forget your name right after we say our goodbyes. Focus, focus, focus. Live in the moment. Stay with the other person and concentrate.
Another reason we may not remember names is because we’re too worried about what the other person is thinking about us. When our focus is on ourselves and not the other person, we are almost assuring ourselves of not remembering the other person’s name. We may be worried that we aren’t making a good impression, or we’re thinking back on something we just said that wasn’t that funny or entertaining, and we wonder what the other person thinks about us now.
In order to boost your chances of remembering “what’s his head’s” name, use these five simple suggestions and you’ll be more likely to file that new person’s name away in the deep recesses of your mind.
1. Employ the 3X rule – The best strategy I’ve discovered for remembering people’s names is to repeat the person’s name no less than 3 times after the initial introduction. “I’m really glad to know you, John,” followed later in the conversation by, “So John, where do you work?” and then something like, “John, it’s been great talking with you.” Using the person’s name during the initial encounter will help cement it in your memory. One word of caution: don’t overdo it; don’t be too zealous, but do use the other person’s name in the conversation.
2. Associate the person’s name – As you are talking with the person, listen for things they like, places they’ve lived, hobbies or special interests, or some unique feature about them. Find the one that sticks, then associate their name with it. For instance, my pastor’s name is Mike; he wears a Mike-rophone. Mark is my worship pastor; he uses a digital countdown each Sunday, so I can remember him by the phrase “on your Mark, get set, go!”. You get the idea. Associating a person’s name with a trigger of some kind can help you remember them more readily than if you had not associated it with something else.
3. It’s rhyme time – If possible, rhyme the person’s name with something that reminds you of them. Dale’s in sales. Ken’s into pens. Dave needs a shave. Ryan is always cryin’. When you have a party call Marty. Bill’s from Texas and he drives a Lexus. I think you get the idea.
4. Write it down – After you’ve ended the first encounter, take a minute and jot down the person’s name, type of work , hobbies and interests, and any other factoid you learned about them.
5. Facial recognition –Focus on a facial feature (without being too obvious) and associate it with the person. Mike moustache. Billy bald. Evan ears. Barbara’s bushy brows. Again, the trick is not to give away what you’re doing, and not to laugh while you’re inventing the trigger for the person’s name!
There you have it…5 simple ways to remember people’s names. I hope one or more of these will help you quickly learn people’s names. Remember, “the sweetest sound in a person’s ears is his name.”