Quick and Easy Way to Remembering Names

In one of the manuals written by Dale Carnegie that we give to our program participants, he writes at the beginning:

If you want to improve your ability to remember names, you must first sell yourself on the importance of doing it. Your progress in remembering names, learning to ski or developing any other skill will depend largely on how strongly you desire to do it.

Remembering names is a skill, not some magical process that only a few selected individuals possess knowledge of. And like any other skill, you can develop and strengthen it so that it is ready when you need it. But you have to want to develop it.

In this manual, Dale Carnegie goes on to write:

Increase your desire to remember names by constantly reminding yourself how the ability to remember names will:

  1. Enhance your popularity.

  2. Help you in your business or profession.

  3. Help you win friends.

  4. Give sparkle to your social contacts.

  5. Help you practice the Golden Rule by ‘doing unto others…’

  6. Prevent embarrassment by showing you are genuinely interested in others.

There is power in remembering names. By doing so, you convey to the other party that you consider them important and valuable and in their view, you become a valuable and coveted resource.

In fact, Dale Carnegie considered this observation so critical that he included it with his principles on human relations:

Principle Six: Remember that a person’s name, to that person, is the sweetest, most important sound in any language.

In our programs, we coach participants to use a three-step process for remembering another person’s name. And by the end of the first session, we show everyone that they possess the power to remember all of the other participant’s name in the first night. Needless to say, they are amazed that this power has been in their possession for years and they have never used it.

At the end of the session, they ask themselves, “How much further along would I be in my career if I had used this skill in the past” or “How would my social life be different if I had knowledge of this skill before today?”

You can start right now with our three-step process outlined below:

Step one in Remembering Names: Impression

This is the first step in remembering a person’s name—actually, in remembering anything. You need create an impression of them in your mind. This means, you need to pay attention and notice the details about them, their characteristics and the information that they give us. As Dale Carnegie puts it:

We must keep in mind that what we really want to do is to remember people-their names are secondary. So it is important to give people your total attention, become genuinely interested in them and want to remember them.

Carnegie outlines 5 ways to get a clear, vivid impression of a person’s name and 3 ways to get a clear, vivid impression of the person. Here are three of those methods:

  1. When you are being introduced to anyone-LISTEN. Concentrate on getting the name right. Think of only one thing: the name.
  2. If you do not hear the name clearly, say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name. Will you please repeat it?”
  3. Observe the facial characteristics for any distinguishing features.

Step Two in Remembering Names: Repetition

When someone gives us their phone number and tells us to call them, we typically recite it a few times as we run off in search of a pen and paper to write it down. In grade school when we were remembering our multiplication tables, repetition and recitation were the rule of the day.

When we need to remember something for a short period, reciting it a few times helps engrave it into our short term memory. If performed over a longer time period, the concept or activity begins to form into a habit.

Think of your drive to work. Initially when you started your job in a new area, you had to constantly think about where you were going and what you were doing. But after repeating the activity a few times, it became easier as you began to cement the activity into your memory. After driving to work for 6 months, you could probably drive the course in your sleep, and most people do exactly that.

The same principle applies when remembering names. Repeating the name you are trying to remember helps cement it in your short term memory. Daily refresh of the name over longer periods of time will put the name in your long term memory.

Dale Carnegie suggests eight tactics to put someone’s name in your memory during everyday conversation. Here are two of them:

  1. When you are introduced to a person, repeat the name immediately. Don’t merely say, “How do you do.” Say, “How do you do, Ms. Blank,” and repeat the name.

  2. Use the stranger’s name several times in conversation. For example, you might say, “Well, I never thought of it in that way, but perhaps you are right, Mr. blank.” If you make it a point to do this, you are not only engraving the name on your memory, but you are also pleasing your listener. Naturally, do not overdo it.

Step Three in Remembering Names: Association

This third step is probably the strongest and fastest step to remember something. In fact, we do it all of the time. To remember something like a name over a longer period, create some type of association between the thing you want to remember and something you already remember well.

In the first two session, we review 6 ways to employ association in remembering names. One of the methods in which we coach extensively and encourage participants to use is the Mind Picture. This involves using your imagination to create an exaggerated and colorful image of the person in a particular environment. As Dale Carnegie explains:

…Paint a mind picture of the person whose name you which to remember doing something that reminds you of the person’s name. Have the face and body of the person you wish to remember in the picture so that, when the picture comes to mind, you get both the face and the name. Be sure that the picture is absurd and exaggerated and that it depicts motion.

As mentioned before, there are other ways to create an association for remembering a person’s name, but none are as versatile or as strong as using the Mind Picture association.

If you have questions about other methods to remember names or on any of the other memory enhancing techniques we use in the Dale Carnegie program, leave your questions on our Facebook page or post your question to dalecarnegieoh on Twitter and we’ll provide answers for you.

Also, if you have a memory technique that works particularly well for you, leave us a message on Facebook letting us know your favorite memory technique and how it has benefited you.

To get started in a program and get your own copy of Dale Carnegie’s book, Remember Names, contact your local Dale Carnegie rep at sales@dcarnegietraining.com.

Larry Prevost
Dale Carnegie Instructor, Social Media Evangelist
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