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28 May 2010

Remembering Names

Remembering names is important, but it’s challenging to do that. It does require time but less so as we train our minds. We do this in the same way we train our bodies for any athletic or skilled endeavor: practice, practice, practice.

Remembering five hundred employee names is quite doable. As proof, start listing all the people you know including celebrities, politicians and athletes. You’ll be surprised as to how many names you can remember. You’ll come very close to 500 if not more, and most of them are probably far less important to you than your employees.

Of course, there are many ways to “cheat” too:

  • When you realize that you want to remember someone’s name but don’t, find it out as soon as possible; it’ll be easier to remember later.
  • Ask help from others such as people’s managers, front office staff, human resources people
  • Always review rosters of attendees for gatherings such as a conferences or seminars before you attend even if you don’t know many people; their names will be easier to remember when you hear them in meeting
  • Before visiting, sort and review your contacts by location or department or secure a company roster; try visualizing each person on a roster; research those you don’t remember
  • Create “seating charts” to help you by verifying your knowledge in the course of your normal work by using as cheat sheets before and during visits
  • Immediately after your visit or attendance, review rosters and re-visualize each person you met; the sooner you do this the better

Keep your own notes on people – including fellow employees – that you can reference before visiting again

3 Responses

  1. George Arnold

    If we admit we are “bad” at remembering names, that only reinforces a broken process that we have the power to improve.

    Start off by understanding Mike’s point of how important it is to each of us to be recognized by our name. It also needs to be properly spoken–if you’re not sure, ask the individual to repeat, he/she will be honored that you are taking the time to say it as he/she prefers, not upset that you are asking.

    Then during the conversation, use the person’s name occasionally. That not only reinforces your memory, but shows respect to the person you are speaking with.

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