How to Remember Someone’s Name—and Info About Them
Show someone they matter by remembering what matters to them
One of the most effective ways to build a relationship with someone is to make them feel known and significant. Effortfully showing someone that they matter to you makes them feel comfortable with you, and it also increases your desire to have a relationship with them, since you’ve invested in getting to know them. Making someone feel important is a lifelong skill, but the two most pivotal elements are easy to learn (although difficult to master!) These elements are: remembering someone’s name and remembering things about them. This article will discuss why remembering someone’s name and info about them is important and then offer some tips on doing both well.
Why Remembering Names and Experiences Matters
Remembering someone’s name shows them that you were truly focused on them when they introduced themselves to you: your attention was directed solely on your conversation with them. It conveys your intention to form a relationship with them by showing them that they are important enough that you are allocating more energy than required to engage just in passing.
Likewise, remembering things about someone indicates that you were listening to them when they shared those things with you. Additionally, it signals that you want to continue the relationship as you chose to remember things which would otherwise be pointless if you didn’t want the relationship to continue. Finally, remembering what someone has experienced or is interested in allows you to have much better follow up conversations as you can tap into your knowledge of them to have new discussions instead of rehashing information previously discussed.
How to Remember Names
So, remembering names and experiences is important because it signifies your investment in the other person. And, remembering names and experiences demonstrates your desire to continue the relationship. Beginning with names, let’s discuss how to remember what matters!
1. Visualize the name in your head
Perhaps the most straightforward tip is to simply visualize the letters of the name in your mind—literally spell it out, letter by letter, in your mind during, or shortly after, your conversation with someone. Writing is a powerful way to remember information, but you cannot pull out a pen and paper in the middle of a conversation. Thus, imagine writing the name in your mind’s eye to help your brain internalize the name.
2. Associate the person with someone else you know
One of the most important things to do when trying to remember anything is to increase the surface area it takes up in your mind. By attaching a new person’s name to someone you already know (like someone with the same name, or the person that introduced you), you reinforce the name’s importance in your mind. And, each time you think of the friend who introduced you or who has the same name, you may also think of the person you just met. Similarly, when you are trying to remember the name of the person you just met, you may picture the face of the person you already know, allowing you to better remember the name of the new connection.
3. Associate the person’s name with what you learn about them
This tip similarly increases the surface area that the name takes up in your mind. As you learn new things about the person, relate those to the name you just learned. Thus, the name is not an abstract concept (to be easily forgotten), but rather a person who is tied to experiences, stories, and facts. When you learn that Todd enjoys woodworking in his free time, think of him as “Todd the Woodworker.” Instead of associating his name solely with a face, you can now attach Todd’s name to an activity that he does, giving your mind more chances to remember Todd’s name or think of him.
4. Write it down
As we noted before, there is a strong connection between writing something down and remembering it. So, shortly after you’ve met someone, take the time to write down their name, and even some key facts you learned about them or topics you discussed. Not only are you reinforcing the name and facts by writing them down, you are also leveraging the special connection between writing and memory.
How to Remember Things About People
Remembering someone’s name is a key step in building a relationship with them, but it is just one step. It is equally important to remember someone’s experiences and interests. Not only does this demonstrate investment in a relationship with them, but it also allows you to jump back into an interesting conversation with them the next time you meet instead of just rediscovering information that you were already told. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Make the information useful as fast as possible
Show your brain as quickly as possible that this information is important by using it as soon as you can—in the conversation! Ask follow up questions about the information you just learned, repeating it carefully to cement it in your mind (and make sure it is correct!) Learning more about each experience or interest will also increase the surface area it takes up in your mind, improving your chances of remembering it.
2. Associate the person with someone else you know with similar interests
Similar to associating names with someone you know, try to think of someone that you already know who shares a similar life experience or interest with the person you just met. Does your new contact love a specific sports team? Think of someone you know who likes that team. Do they love indie music? Think of someone you know who goes to a lot of indie shows. By attaching this person to someone you already know with similar interests, you give your mind points of connection and better chances to remember.
3. Take notes
Taking a quick note on someone’s interests and experiences serves two purposes. First, it increases your chance of remembering the information the next time you see them. As we’ve discussed, writing something down helps your brain cement it into memory, increasing the likelihood that you will remember things about the person the next time you are talking to them. Secondly, taking a quick note on something someone tells you allows you to refer to it down the line before you talk to that person next! Even if you have a phenomenal memory, you are much more likely to remember something if you relearn something 15 minutes before a meeting as opposed to 3 months before a meeting.
Remembering names and things that matter to people is vital to demonstrating to someone that they matter to you and that you would like to have a relationship with them. It deepens your initial interaction, and it allows you to have much more robust future interactions.
Taking easily accessible and searchable notes on the people you meet is especially important as you remember names and experiences. We’ve designed Clay to have the best people notes experience ever available in order to make this easier. And, with birthday reminders, reminders for significant dates, and prompts when you haven’t chatted with someone in a while, Clay helps you strengthen and deepen your relationships beyond just remembering the essentials. Show up for those who matter to you—when it matters—with Clay.