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How to Remember a Person’s Name

To be called by one’s name is to be known. And to be known is one of our deepest desires and most basic needs. This is why remembering and then greeting a person by name is so powerful and affirming.

As a follow-up to my last post (click here) the question is “how do we remember names when our memories can be so inadequate?” The following are some of the “secrets” I learned from Neil Atkinson and still use today to make this a reality.

First anyone can remember names. It just requires motivation. And part of the motivation is to do it for the right reasons – to know and affirm another person.

Second, when I meet someone for the first time I focus on their name and their face so I can connect the two.

Third, I intentionally use their name every chance I can in that first conversation. Repetition does wonders for the memory.

Fourth, I write down the person’s name and some features about them or the conversation that will help my recall. If I have a photo (we used year books in Young Life and today I use staff photos & become friends of Facebook) I will put their name and notes near their photo. There’s also software available that will help in this step.

Five, I will review these notes when it’s possible I will see that person again. This step also gives me an opportunity to pray for these new friends.

Finally I will use their name every time I see them.

This is all it takes to remember another person’s name. It requires the motivation, putting the other person first in your mind and a bit of discipline. The result will be that you will provide another person the experience of being known and thus affirmed. Not a bad outcome for a little memory exercise.

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