The name game: Improve your business by improving your recollection

Studies have shown that people automatically pay more attention when they hear their names spoken, so it makes sense that you have a better chance of truly connecting with people, particularly in business situations, if you can properly recall names.

This is great news — unless you’re terrible at remembering names. If you have ever had the experience of greeting an acquaintance with a heartfelt, “Oh, hey, hi … you!” you’re not alone. Approximately 85% of adults have trouble remembering names, according to researchers.

Thankfully, however, there are some tricks you can employ that will help you better remember. This article shares four of them.

Association and visualization

During the course of conversation, try to associate the person’s name with details he or she shares about hobbies, family, career, etc. For example, Mary is a bartender (imagine her serving a Bloody Mary) or Ted seems to be quite chatty (imagine him on stage giving a TED Talk).

Play on words

You might try rhyming, such as Darryl sells barrels (perhaps he is a liquor distributor), or alliteration (Cathy lives in the country).


Repeat the other person’s name as soon as possible after you’ve been introduced, and then occasionally use it in conversation. “Pleasure to meet you, Sarah.” “Sarah, what do you think of this weather we’ve been having?” Be careful not to overuse the person’s name, or you might come across as insincere.

Ask for clarification

It might initially be embarrassing to ask someone to repeat his or her name, but it is far easier to do it during that first meeting than later when you should already know it. The easiest way to deal with the gaff it is to simply say, “I’m sorry, I missed your name earlier.” Chances are that person has also forgotten a name or two and is unlikely to be offended.

Kyra Kudick is an associate editor at J. J. Keller & Associates Inc., a compliance resource company that offers products and services to address the range of responsibilities held by human resources and corporate professionals. Kudick specializes in employment law/HR issues such as employee relations, hiring and recruiting, and training and development. She is the author of J. J. Keller’s Employee Relations Essentials manual and SUPER adVISOR newsletter. For more information, visit Click here for Kyra’s LinkedIn profile.

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