Why You Should Remember People’s Names (& How To Do It)

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 02.51.45We were set for a breakfast meeting in the morning to discuss the sponsored stay in a heavenly condo overlooking the sea in Puerto Escondida, Oaxaca. He was a former winter olympian and I was staying in his self-made castle. I’d Googled him the night before and his profile was very impressive to say the least.

I could have told you in a heartbeat his net worth, record-breaking time for downhill alpine skiing and what made him retire from the sport that he loved – but his name? Yeah, even though I read it a lot of times – I knew that it started with a C.

When we met I offered my hand and said; “Nice to finally meet you, Casey!” Sounds pretty standard, although his real name was actually Cary and he was too polite to tell me otherwise – I only knew because my mate informed me later on and took the piss out of me for the next two days.

I don’t get embarrassed too easily, but this day was an exception. I was doing business with this guy and I didn’t even have the decency to remember his name.

Not cool.

From that moment on I started making a conscious effort to remember people’s names at first meeting (with resounding success).

Why You Should Remember People’s Names

I know what you’re going to say; “Oooh I remember people’s faces, but I just can’t remember people’s names!”

Cool story, genius. So can a post-8-week-old puppy, but you don’t hear them bragging about it. If you are to do any online research about this, you’ll find a myriad of excuses to why our brain can’t cope with this new information and why it’s ok.

Because people just love to hear good news about their bad habits, right?

Choose accountability and make a conscious and noble effort to remember people’s names in the near future. People like to feel important and even the most introverted of folk don’t want to be insignificant. We feel more worthy and appreciated when someone says our name.

A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language,”

(Dale Carnegie)

How To Remember People’s Names

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 02.54.08

(Image Source: WikiHow)

Ditch the tepid excuses and start respecting people’s individuality. Here’s how I went from being the nauseatingly ubiquitous ‘face rememberer,’ to successfully remembering the first names of most people who I met – even if it was a dear old lady selling me fruit in the market on only one occasion.


We live in a fast-paced, distraction-laden modern world. Theoretically we can be tuned into billions of people online at almost any given moment. We’re constantly checking the news, reading emails, opening up apps to see if the object of our whatsapp desire has sent us a flirty emoji back.


All of that on top of having to survive with ‘real’ life and live like a human.

We’re just not built to take in all this information all at once. Yet we give it a damn good go! And what it does is take us away from the present moment, leading us to not completely hone in on the first-time meeting with a new person.

What happens is we go into robotic mode – smile, nod, shake the hand, make some noises and before you know it (and you only notice when you need it) – you’ve forgotten the person’s name within seconds.

Which isn’t necessarily true – we don’t forget it as we weren’t really listening in the first place! When you meet someone new, take a moment to forget about everything else. Be there in mind as much as you are in physical form by giving them your full attention.

Say Their Name Out Loud As Soon As Possible

“Nice to meet you, Jim!” “How long have you been living here, Jacqui?” Whenever the moment presents itself, use their name in a sentence because you’ll lose it if you don’t use it.

Embrace Mnemonics

Mnemonics are really helping me to remember new vocabulary in Spanish and passing this fun and simple philosophy over to remembering names has helped tenfold.

A Mnemonic is when you create an individual vision in your head and associate it with a particular thing (or a person in this case) to assist you in remembering its name. The following advice might sound silly, but it works and that’s all that matters!

For example, I used to frequent a bookshop here in Mexico where a really friendly and chatty girl worked. Her name is Claudia. She always wears tops that bare her shoulders and she has a sexy, well-defined clavicle. This is her main feature to my memory, so I decided to name her (in my head) “Clavícula (word for clavicle in Spanish) Claudia.”

Add Emotion To The Chosen Mnemonic

As soon as you choose your mnemonic, add a strong emotion to it that will hep you remember it. The most emotive, or in my case – the most ridiculous the better. I chose to then imagine former French footballer Claude Makelele standing on the girl’s shoulder. His name being “Claude” reinforcing the clue and the association for her name being Claudia.

This Scrubs scene sums it up quite well:

A few weeks ago I met a lovely Mexican guy on the plane called Roberto. As lovely as he was, he had an alarming childlike naivety about the world that we live in. Naive in Spanish is ‘bobo’ (in the right context) and the short name for Robert in English is Bob. So he became; “Bobo Bob.” 

To reinforce his name, I’d imagine my uncle Bob from back in the UK, rolling his eyes every time this guy said something innocently silly.

I’ve used this method ever since my embarrassment in Oaxaca and it’s worked a treat ever since. It might sound a little left field, but what’s the other option? Stay a ‘face rememberer’ all your life and makes excuses for being rude? Give it a go, have some fun with it, you might just surprise yourself with your own imagination.

Song For The Moment – ‘Song For Whoever,’ By The Beautiful South

Notable lyrics –

“Oh Shirley, oh Deborah, oh Julie, oh Jane
I wrote so many songs about you
I forget your name…”

Join the Conversation


  1. Anu Rao @TH Reply

    Excellent post! I have seen many give excuses and worse, brag about it when they fail to remember names. This explains really well on why and how we should remember the names of people we meet 🙂
    I will try to follow the tips and get better at it. Thanks!

  2. Ashwini Reply

    Haha! Great tips! Especially the one with the bookstore girl example!! 🙂 My dad always tends to forget names. Will make sure he reads this article 🙂

    1. Anthony Middleton Reply

      You’re very welcome 🙂

    2. Anthony Middleton Reply

      Thanks for reading. Good luck!

  3. Aditi Kapoor Reply

    Great tips! My father in law is good with forgetting names. 😉 Will make him read this article. Thanks for sharing. 🙂