Home Interpersonal Skills How to Remember a Persons Name – 12 Tips

How to Remember a Persons Name – 12 Tips

by Ryan Chambers
A man thinking hardly
Remembering names can be challenging; a man scratches his head in the effort.

I’ve long struggled trying to remember a person’s name. I can remember a face – no problem. A name? Not so much.

Remembering another person’s name creates a connection and makes others feel important. It tells them they were special enough to have made a good impression on you – and everyone likes to feel special. William Shakespeare once said,

There is no sound so sweet as the sound of one’s own name.”

And he couldn’t be more right – it makes the meeting more meaningful to the other person (and for you, too), and it makes them feel good that you’ve acknowledged them. Think about the feeling you get when someone forgets your name – nobody likes to be forgotten.

But if you’re like many of us, remembering people’s names won’t be your strong point. Of course, forgetting someone’s name happens to everyone once in a while, but if you regularly forget people’s names, it’s time to do something about it.

Remembering people’s names is a great way to build rapport that’ll open doors for you. Whether it’s at work or at social gatherings, remembering people’s names is one of the best ways to create an excellent first impression.

In most social situations, remembering names can be difficult. It’s easy to listen to someone introduce themselves and then come away from the conversation without retaining their name at all! The trick, however, is that it’s not a trick at all. All you need to do to remember someone’s name is follow these simple tips to ensure you never forget someone’s name again.

Today we’ll discuss some tried and tested tips and tricks for remembering names and how to deal with a situation when someone’s name slips your mind.

12 Tips on How to Remember a Person’s Name

Here are some basic tips that can help you practically in remembering names.

Use Acronyms

We’ve all been there: you meet someone at a party, and within minutes, their name has escaped you. To prevent this from happening, try using acronyms. Take the person’s first letter of their first name and add it to the end of their last name:

For example, if your friend’s name is Michael Smith, you can remember S-M-I-T-H. If your friend’s name is John Johnson, you can remember J-O-N-E-S.

It may seem silly at first, but after trying this technique for a while, you’ll find that it helps considerably. But, of course, it’s not always easy to keep track of names in social situations, so don’t feel bad if you forget someone’s – everyone does.

Actually Listen 

Most of us are lazy and never listen. We tend to think more about what we’re actually going to say when someone introduces themselves, and by doing this, the person’s name goes in one ear and out the other. The first few seconds of an introduction are the most important for learning someone’s name, so it’s important that you’re actually listening.

If you know that you’re going to be meeting new people, then prepare to focus during introductions. That little effort will go a long way toward helping you recall names.

A man remembering something
Man happy to recall someone’s name

Ask for the Person’s Name Again If You Don’t Hear It Perfectly the First Time 

If you didn’t actually hear it the first time, don’t be afraid of asking for the person’s name again. Be sure to do this straight away. Say something like, “sorry, I didn’t catch that?” This confirms that the name needs to be repeated, perhaps more slowly or clearly. Listen more carefully the second time!

Ask Them to Spell It 

Asking someone how they spell their name might help you remember it, particularly if it’s odd. If it’s a popular name with several spelling variants, inquire which variations – if they use Steven or Stephen.

Use Repetition, Early On 

When you’re first introduced, repeat the person’s name straight away, such as, “pleased to meet you (insert name here).”

After the first repeat, use the person’s name as much as possible during a conversation, such as at the end of statements or questions. “Where are you from, Steven?” “How long have you been working for (insert company name here), Steven?” Repeating the person’s name will help you remember, as it’ll start to make its way into your memory. 

This will help you get familiar with the sound of the word, making it easier for you to remember later on. Next, try repeating their name in different ways:

Say The Name Out Loud

Repeat yourself silently, without saying anything else or talking about anything else but that person’s name at all (e.g., “I’m going to say my friend’s name over and over again until she remembers”).

Speak phrases like “I want my friend’s help” while imagining yourself sharing your problem with them; this helps cement their memory even further, as well as making sure they’ll be able to recognize themselves when asked by others later on down the line!

However, be sure that you don’t overdo it – be natural.

Make Associations

After hearing a person’s name, try to associate their name with a picture or person. There’s no wrong or right way to do this. Just make the association meaningful to you. For example, create a mental picture of somebody you already know with the same or similar name standing beside the person you’ve just met.

Examine the Person’s Face or Other Distinguishing Traits.

Be discreet and natural when doing this. Look at their face, hair, or other distinctive features when talking together. Try to find something that’s easy to remember about them, such as crooked teeth, scars, curly hair, or anything else that’s distinguishing. Try to link the name with this feature, for example, “Ben with the bald patch.”

A man reasoning alone
Man trying to remember the name of a colleague

Write It Down

If you’re in a profession that involves making new contacts, be sure to carry a little notebook and pen with you. Then, you meet someone new, write down their name in your notebook, coupled with some notes about what they do and a little background details on who they are. This way, you can revisit your notes before a meeting where you may likely see them again.


Remembering names is a skill that requires a lot of practice. To develop this skill, put yourself in situations where you’ll be meeting new people and having to learn new names. Use the above techniques as much as you can.

What to Do When You Cannot Remember a Person’s Name

There will be occasions when you forget a person’s name. If you do, ask them for it again as politely as you can. Say something like, “I’m really sorry, but I can’t recall your name, I hope you won’t mind telling me what it is again?” Don’t apologize too much – treat it lightly and move on. Remember to ask for a person’s name again as soon as you realize you’ve forgotten it. The longer you delay this, the more pained they’ll be when they realize you have forgotten their name.

However, having to inquire someone’s name twice might make you seem unprofessional and make the individual feel irrelevant. So here’s how to deal with it without asking for their name again.

When you part ways – Ask if they’ve got a business card that you can have.

When you see someone you’ve already met – Don’t guess their name if you’re not sure – if you get it wrong, the person will be more offended than asking for their name again.

Use this simple trick that usually works.

Ask the person, “Sorry, but what was your name again?”

The person will likely respond with their first name.

Respond by saying, “oh no, I meant your last name?”

People are usually more forgiving if you forget their last name – not their first name.

When you’re introducing someone you’ve met before – If you’re standing with a friend and someone approaches you and then waits for you to introduce them, and you can’t remember their name, simply say to that person, “Have you met my friend, John?” The person will hopefully say to John, “No I haven’t, pleased to meet you, my name’s Matt,”

A man stands aside from ladies in an office
Man trying to recall the names of his female co-workers

Try to Come up With a Strong Association

When you meet someone new, try to come up with a strong association for their name. This could be anything that links the name to something else in your mind. For example: If you meet someone named John, maybe think about John F. Kennedy for a moment and then quickly forget about him! This way, when you see the person again later in life, you’ll remember them by thinking of “John” and not just “That guy from yesterday.”

More Tips on Remembering Names of People

Avoid shortening a person’s name. It’s impolite to assume nicknames. Even if you hear someone else use a shortened version during a conversation, be polite enough to ask which name they prefer to be known by.

If you’re pursuing a professional career, forgetting people’s names can cost you a lot more than just your social image. Therefore, practice, practice, practice!


Remembering names is a skill that can be learned and improved over time. If you want to improve your memory and remember names better, practice these techniques. There is no magic bullet for remembering names, but practicing these techniques can improve your memory over time. There are many ways to improve your memory, but the best way to get started is with a good strategy and some practice.

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