The Value of Remembering Names

Posted by Todd Smith

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Have you ever met someone for the first time who hardly looked you in your eyes, said the standard nice to meet you greeting without any authenticity behind their words and couldn’t remember your name five seconds later? What impression did this person make on you? Would it have required any more time or effort to make eye contact, offer a genuine smile and give a friendly greeting such as “it’s very nice to meet you Bob?” The answer is obviously no but the first impressions created by the two greetings would be different as night and day.

In Dale Carnegie’s timeless book How to Win Friends and Influence People he wrote, “If you want to win friends, make it a point to remember them. If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.”

Techniques and Tips

When you greet people, regardless if it’s the first or the tenth time, make it a point of saying their names in your initial greeting. For example, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Sharon,” or “Jim, it’s great to see you again.” And then when the conversation concludes, use their name again. “Jim, I really enjoyed our time together,” or “Sharon, it was a real pleasure getting to know you.” Remembering someone’s name is a difficult skill to master but if you make it part of your daily routine, you will stand out from the crowd in the personal and business relationships.

Ron White, memory expert and sales trainer, recommends you create images for people’s names because people remember faces and not names. For example, Tom=tomcat; Steve=stove. Ron is the 2009 United States Memory Champion. He holds the record for the most digits memorized in five minutes (167 consecutive digits) and the record for the fastest to memorize a deck of cards (1 minute and 27 seconds). To learn more about Ron’s memory techniques, visit his site at

Here are my top tips for remembering people’s names:

Make it a priority to remember people’s names. The only way you will be consistent is if remembering people’s names is important to you.

Make a habit of repeating people’s names when meeting them for the first time. If you will make this a routine, you will be forced to pay attention to their names when they are introduced to you.

Upon hearing the name, repeat it to yourself several times.

Try to think of someone else with the same name. As I repeat people’s names in my mind I try to think of someone else with the same name and then make the connection between the two people.

When “meeting” people over the phone, I immediately write down their name.

If you don’t understand the pronunciation of someone’s name, kindly ask the person to repeat it. If you still don’t understand, ask how it is spelled and then try to say it. People with hard to pronounce names are accustomed to people mispronouncing them and will appreciate those who show an interest in getting it right.

Here is my challenge to you. Start today to be intentional about remembering people’s names. Use all the tips I have outlined but start with the easiest one. Repeat the name at both the beginning of the conversation and at the end. This is one of those little things that make a big impression on people.

If you have any follow up thoughts, ideas or tips about remembering names, please share them in the comments section below this post.

Remember, you can achieve anything in life that is important to you if you will focus on the little things that matter.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.

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