This week I watched as a colleague painfully tried to avoid someone because they couldn’t remember their name. Then, she beat herself up over not remembering their name.  And, the worse part was that she didn’t get to connect with someone who she wanted to connect with.

Has that ever happened to you?  Do you suffer from the bad name rememberer syndrome?  You are not alone. Most of us find that when we meet someone we quickly forget their name. Sometimes instantly.

The power of knowing a name and using it is huge. Names are what makes a relationship personal.  It says: “Hey, I care enough to remember your name!” and, it’s great communication connector. In fact, studies show that a person’s first name is their favorite word to hear. So, it makes sense that you will more easily connect with someone, and make an stronger impact, if you remember and use their name.

Here are my top five tips to help you improve your memorization skills:

1. Tell yourself you are good at remembering names

Your brain listens to your self talk.  If  you tell it you can’t do something, then guess what?  You probably can’t.  If you tell it you can do something , then the chance of doing it goes up by about 75%.  Self talk is a powerful tool.  Use it for good.

2. Use the name as soon as you hear it.

When you meet someone repeat his or her name immediately, then use it often. When you repeat a name, you give your brain some clues that you want the information stored longer term.

Example: Nice to meet you, Betty. So, Betty, what do you do here?

3. Make up a rhyme.

Notice my clever title for this post? Rhyming makes remembering names easier by giving us clues.  Penny likes pancakes from Denny’s.  And even if she doesn’t, you’ll probably remember her name because of your cleverness.

4. Exercise your brain by people watching

You can improve your memorization skills with practice. Try this game:

Pick out someone in a crowd and study them. What are they wearing and what are they doing?  Pay attention to each detail—from their clothing to their actions and body language.

This exercise gives your brain more data to sort and store, making retrieval easier at a later date.  The longer your brain gets to process the information you are giving it, as in giving more details and specifics, the better.

5. Ask for forgiveness and move on

And here’s one last tip.  If you do forget a name, it’s okay to ask forgiveness, even if it’s someone’s name you should know. Be an authentic communicator and say “I know I’ve met you several times, but I am totally drawing a blank on your name.”  Unless they are cruel at heart, they will jump right in and help you out.  Then, use one of my earlier tips to do better next time.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transform your life at work and at home.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website: