People often tell me they have bad memories.

No, I’m not talking about memories of bad things that happened to them; they seem to be able to recite every livid detail about those types of memories.

I’m talking about the ability to remember things like people’s names, a shopping list, a spouse’s or child’s birthday, or a driver’s license renewal date.

One of the keys to remembering someone’s name is to make it a priority.

Often, people listen to respond instead of listening to learn and remember.

When you listen to respond to what someone is saying, there’s no commitment to holding any information in your memory except the response you’ve created.

But when you listen to learn, it’s amazing the things that will “stick” in your memory.

Is the thing you’re trying to remember important to you when you first learn it?

Let’s take the person you meet at a social event or business networking event.

Do you forget their name two minutes after you walk away after talking to them for 10 minutes?

If you can’t remember someone’s name, the common response is probably something like, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I have a terrible memory.” This is a pitiful excuse! 

Translation: “I don’t care enough about you to remember your name.” Really?!?

A friend of mine used to say, “If something’s important to you, you’ll find a way to do it; if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”

Truer words were never spoken!

What if you made learning someone’s name a priority when you first meet them? Using a few memory tools can help.

Give the following ideas a try the next time you meet a new person.

If they have a name tag, look at it. Say their name to yourself a few times.

When they tell you their name, repeat it to signal that you heard it.

If it’s an “unusual” name or requires a certain type of pronunciation that’s unfamiliar to you, ask them to repeat it…slowly…so YOU can try pronouncing it.

Then speak it back to them. Ask them if you got it right.

Once you know how to pronounce it, use it four or five times during your conversation with them.

Let’s say you’re attending a local Chamber of Commerce meet-and-greet event.

Meeting a new person might go something like this: “Hi! My name is Carl. What’s your name?”

<person responds> “My name is Sheryl.”

You then say, “It’s nice to meet you, Sheryl. How long have been a member of the Chamber?”

<Sheryl responds> “I just joined last week.”

You say, “Oh, so you’re a new member? What about the Chamber caused you to make the decision to join, Sheryl?”

<Sheryl responds about a favorite feature of Chamber membership>

You say, “Well, that’s a great feature of the Chamber. I’m glad you decided to become a member. Sheryl, what kind of work do you do?”

<Sheryl responds>

At the end of your conversation, say, “Sheryl, it was nice meeting you, and I look forward to seeing you at a future chamber event.”

Using the other person’s name numerous times will help to cement their name in your memory. You’ll have a much better chance of remembering it the next time you see them.

To plant their name even more firmly in your mind, step away for a minute and, if they gave you a business card, take a few notes on it as to where and when you met them, the interests they shared, etc.

When you leave the event and get home or to your office, send them an email letting them know how much you enjoyed meeting them and speaking with them.

The next time you see that person, use their name.

Watch their face light up with wonder, joy, and happiness that you actually remembered their name.

After all, a person’s name is their favorite word!

The key to success is being present, actively listening, and making remembering the other person’s name a priority.