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The Name Game: Best ways to make sure you remember someone's name once you meet

Remembering Names (Pt. 1)
Remembering Names (Pt. 1) 02:11

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Do you have trouble remembering people's names?

You see them, you know you know them, but the name just doesn't come to mind.

I reached out to a memory expert for some help, aand I need it as much as anyone. Some people, like my wife, are just gifted with name recall.

If you struggle with remembering names, just know you're not alone.

Oftentimes, we forget the name as soon as we hear it!

"The biggest reason that we don't remember people's names is we never heard it in the first place, we weren't listening, we're not paying attention," said two-time national memory champion Ron White.

White isn't being critical, either, he said it's natural when we meet someone new to have all sorts of things running through our brains in both business and social situations.

"As you're walking towards somebody, you're thinking, 'Hey, do I know that first before they look familiar? What do I think of them? What do they think of me? Have I seen them before? What business deals are we going to talk about? Do they see that stain on my shirt from lunch right here? How's my hair?' Hi, my name is Ron, and [then] they say their name in that moment, and you never hear it," he explained.

So instead, White said as you approach a new person, ask yourself some question: "What is their name?"

"That will focus your brain and the chances of you hearing their name are better," White said. 

Remembering Names (Pt. 2) 02:13

Now that you've heard the name, how do you retain it? 

Research shows that women are better at it than men because they lock into the details of a person they meet - without even realizing it.

If you want to improve your name recognition ability, it's all about attention to detail.

"So, I immediately after I know I've got their name, I've heard their name, I look at their face," White said. 

He said remembering a person's name starts with their face.

"I pick out something unique about their face a distinctive feature," White said.  "Do they have a unique nose? Do they have big ears, or do they have small ears? They have a beard, they have a bald head. Do they have a lot of hair?"

From there, it's a matter of association to hang their name on.

"Let's say you meet a woman named Lisa and Lisa has pretty blue eyes - Boom, I immediately zone in on the eyes," he explained.  "I will then turn her name into a picture and I'll see the Mona Lisa being painted in her eyes." 

He said once you have the name it's essential to review it - ask yourself on the drive home, the next day, in the following days, 'Who did I meet last night?"

White said it's essential because without review, it's just a temporary solution, review puts it in your long-term memory. 

If it's clear you've met someone before but the name file in your brain won't open - questions are the key.

"I will try to introduce somebody else, you know, or I'll ask a very vague question, you know, how's work going or something to try to figure out who they are," he said.

In all of this, there is one thing to remember, you are normal. White said it's important to remember that the brain performs very poorly under stress, but know it's also important to work on trying to remember people.

"When you can remember names, it makes people feel special, it makes people feel important, it makes people feel complimented," White said.

So, concentrate on their name, attach it to a physical characteristic, repeat the name in conversation, or just to yourself and review afterward who you've met.

That can get more difficult with age. We hit our peak at age 30-25, but here's a way you can help others and help yourself - White said to be proactive and introduce yourself as if you've never met. If you get stuck and can't remember someone's name, admit to it, be honest and tell the person apologetically that you can't remember their name.

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