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One Easy Way to Remember Someone´s Name

I have a pretty good memory for faces. I can remember them for years after just meeting them once or twice.

Names are a whole different thing though. I just can’t remember them. When I hear them they just seem flow into one ear and flap away to freedom from the other one.

Recently I’ve started to use one simple lifehack to remember them.

Instead of just trying to remember the name I associate the name with a picture that I create in my mind. So far, it’s working pretty well. Sometimes though, it can be hard to think up a picture because of the name, stress or my current state of inventiveness.

For instance, if I met someone named Lisa I’d associate her with one of my favourite Simpsons characters: Lisa Simpson. I’d try to place her face on Lisa Simpson´s body, with her yellow complexion, four fingers and starfish-shaped hairstyle.

Or if I met someone named Thomas I´d just make up a picture where he´s driving a red Ferrari. The connection here is that the Thomas Magnum drove a distinctive red Ferrari in the popular 80´s TV-series “Magnum P.I”.

To make the name sticky, it’s important that you build a picture in your mind that really stands out. The weirder and more detailed the better.

Also, I find associating the mental images with some area of life that you are really fond of works well to jog the memory. I (obviously) like a lot of American TV-shows and pop-culture, so when it’s possible I try to build my mental pictures out of such things.

If you have the same problem as me, give it a try. It’s not just an effective solution, but also kinda fun. And if you´re interested in more on memory-improvement, check out one of Harry Lorayne´s books for lots of effective techniques.

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  • Douwe van der Werf March 5, 2007, 8:30 pm

    I have a tip too, in case you’ve forgotten someone’s name. If you do it confidently, the other person will not notice. It goes like this:

    “What’s your name again?”
    “Yes I know Suzie, but I meant: what’s your LAST name…”

    It’s so simple, but when someone told me, I was really surprised.

  • Henrik Edberg March 5, 2007, 9:04 pm

    That´s a simple and clever tip. As you say, doing it confidently is key. Thanks for sharing!

  • Colm O'Reilly March 6, 2007, 12:51 am

    Isn’t saying “I’m really bad with names” an excuse for failure? It’s just reinforcing the bad habit.

    How about we start repeating to ourselves, “I’m getting better at remembering names”, then “I’m getting really good at remembering names: then finally “I’m great at remembering names”?

    Lots of love,

  • Henrik Edberg March 6, 2007, 1:25 am

    Colm: Thanks for the input and I agree. I guess I should have written that I used to be bad at remembering names. Today I am pretty good at it. And pretty soon I´ll become great at it thanks to this more effective way of using my memory, positive thinking – which entails a self-image change – and practise.

  • Perry March 6, 2007, 11:41 pm

    I love the Harry Lorayne books and have used the Peg and Link system for years for remembering all sorts of different things.

    I even got to the point where I could count numbers and see pictures simultaneously in my head. Useful for timing yourself when you don’t have or can’t look at a watch (like when you are joggling).

    Keep up the great work. I find this blog immensely helpful.

  • Douwe van der Werf March 7, 2007, 11:40 pm

    The strange thing is, I never HEAR someones name the first time they say it. Perhaps this is because I’m too focused on looking them in the eye while shaking their hand.

    I’ve made it a habit though to ask immediately after.

  • Henrik Edberg March 10, 2007, 5:53 pm

    Perry: Thanks for the comment and I´m glad that you find the articles helpful. Being able to count and see the images in the head simultaneously seems pretty cool. 🙂

    Douwe: I´ve run into that problem of remembering names too. Especially when you enter and then walk around in a room and introduce yourself to everyone.

  • Ellen Weber March 19, 2007, 6:55 pm

    What a great suggestion Henrik. I’ll try this and get back:-) Terrific find too! Thanks!

  • Henrik Edberg March 19, 2007, 7:31 pm

    Thanks you Ellen and good luck.

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