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how do you remember people's names?

Jeanne Boyarsky
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How do you remember people's names? I'm ok with a few at a time, but I've never been good at learning a lot of names in a short time. I recently came across the suggestion to make it a game and thought back to elementary school. My mother did just that. She tapped each classmate's name to a baby food cap and gave them to me to play with. (The teachers' names got apple sauce sized caps.) This actually did work because it exposed me to the names as I as doing something else. I wonder what the "adult version" of this technique would be? Maybe taping the names up in the bathroom so I see them regularly?


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Bear Bibeault
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  67

I'm (ashamedly) really really bad with names. I haven't really found anything that helps except repeating it to myself time and time again. And then I can still draw up a blank at inopportune moments,


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Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

I suck at it too. I just thought of something though: one situation in which I seem to learn names quickly is when I'm coaching kid's sports teams -- I learn the kids names right away. I suspect this comes from needing to say them a lot, and hearing the other kids say them a lot (Hey Susie, I'm over here!)

So my idea, take it or leave it, is that asking people to join you for lunchtime basketball, or any other kind of team sport or activity, would be a really good facilitator.


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Jesus Angeles
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The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas, suggests 'association' (if I remember correctly, after more than 10 years).

For example:

The guy's name is Martin Lawrence. His distinctive characteristics include: a huge nose. Try associate in your mind, his huge nose, with his name. Think like 'Big noses are illegal in Martian Law.'. Yes, the association or thought being funny or out of normal, is one of the key to remembering the name, and many other things you want to memorize.
Mohamed Sanaulla
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  33

Its hard for me. But with more interactions with the person- the name slowly begins to sink in


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Jesper de Jong
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  21

I've heard about the technique that Jesus mentioned. Remembering stories is much easier for people than remembering dry bits of data without any context, so making up a small story makes it much easier to remember things.

I'm also bad at remembering names. When I have to meet a group of people and learn their names, I make an effort to pay attention when they tell me their names, and then I try to repeat the whole list to myself until the names start sticking.


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Matthew Brown
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    8

My partner's a lecturer, and she's very good at this. In her first seminar with a new class, she'll usually get them to wear name badges, and then she memorizes them during the seminar. Right at the end she gets them to take the badges off, and then reels off the names. It helps fix the names in her memory, and has the added bonus of impressing the students .

I don't think she uses any special techniques other than having a very visual memory (so she remembers where in the classroom each "name" is sitting).
Jesus Angeles
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Matthew Brown wrote:
I don't think she uses any special techniques other than having a very visual memory (so she remembers where in the classroom each "name" is sitting).

You might want to think again. It is very achievable, using the book I mentioned.

For example, memorize the entire chemical table of elements, 1000 numbers in a sequence, all zip codes of your country, etc.
Matthew Brown
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Jesus Angeles wrote:You might want to think again. It is very achievable, using the book I mentioned.

Why would I want to think again about the technique she uses? I'm sure there are lots of effective techniques. She's not using them, and I know this because we've discussed it.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Ernest,
The people I know well enough to suggest a sport are the people whose names I already know. The names do take eventually.

Jesus,
I've had limited success with this but only when I've heard the name before. (and even then it is quite limited). When I haven't heard the name before, I have two problems. Remembering the collection of sounds and remembering who it goes with. Often with a third problem of remembering how it is pronounced. We had a new hire start today. I know how to spell his name. And I know how to pronounce it wrong. My Indian collegue taught me how to say his name properly. Kind of. I can repeat it if she says it. I haven't managed to advance on to saying it on my own yet.

Jesper,
On repeating, I can't repeat the list once let alone until it takes. When we are sitting down, I can scribble down the names (that I've heard before) and then reinforce them enough times before people get up.

Matthew,
I have pretty good spatial memory too. Unfortunately, outside a classroom people move around .
 
 
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