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How to remember people's names

How to remember people's names

Even with the best will in the world, it's not uncommon to forget someone's name, especially when bumping into an old acquaintance unexpectedly. Avoid the embarassment of forgetting people's name with this helpful FACE acronym to jog your memory and help you put a name to a face 

You can vividly remember what your daughter wore on her first day to nursery and that your son needs his PE kit on Thursdays. You can even remember the number plate of your first car if you really put your mind to it, so why can't you manage to summon up the name of that friend of a friend as he approaches you in the cereal aisle? 

Is it Mike? Mark? Matt? You're drawing a blank because the two pieces of the puzzle actually reside in two different places: the image of Matt's face is in your brain's right hemisphere, but his name is in the left. Getting the twain to meet is simple if you rely on this technique from memory expert Benjamin Levy.

The useful acronym, FACE, is one even fuzzy headed types can remember. 


Two people shaking hands Credit: Paul Bradbury

When you're meeting someone new, concentrate your full attention on him. Don't race ahead in your mind to come up with something to say. 

"Look the person in the eye, shake hands, and listen carefully to his whole name as it's said"

Instead, look the person in the eye, shake hands, and listen carefully to his whole name as it's said. Don't release your grip until you're sure you've got it. 


Speak the name back to the person in the form of a question. 

"Hi, I'm Katherine. I'm sorry, did you say Don or Dom?" Or "Robert, is it? Nice to meet you. I'm Katherine." 

"The brain responds more actively when a question is answered"

The brain responds more actively when a question is answered, so by repeating the name this way, you're increasing your chances of remembering it. To up the odds even more, try working in another question if possible: "Are you Stephen with a 'ph' or a 'v'?" "Ty...Is that short for Tyler?" 


dollar bills Credit: Phil Ashley

Next, tell yourself something about the name to ensure that it sticks. If your new acquaintance goes by Bill, make quick mental associations with famous people named Bill, relatives named Bill, or any other kind of bill.

"Oh, his name is Bill. Like the movie, Kill Bill, my uncle Bill, and the dollar bill." 

"Creating mental connections and supporting them with a statement said aloud further cements the name in your memory"

You might even try a visual trick and imagine your uncle giving Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino a single. Then, if appropriate, say something about the name, such as "My favourite uncle's name is Bill." 

Creating mental connections and supporting them with a statement said aloud further cements the name in your memory. 


After repeating the name and then commenting on it, use it once or twice more in conversation. Do this either by addressing the person directly or referring to him while speaking to someone else ("Hey, Jim! Bill and I were just talking about that new Brad Pitt movie!") 

When the conversation ends, use the person's name again: "Bill, it was so nice to meet you." Be careful not to overuse the name, though, since that can come off as awkward or insincere, advises Levy. 

Banner credit: Courtney Hale

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