Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

5 steps to remembering names (the first time)

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Leaders interact with scores of people every day. Whether in company meetings, at conferences or on a plane, meeting new people and new faces is part of the game. For some, the sheer quantity of interaction with people can seem overwhelming.

One of the best ways to make an impression and gain the confidence of other people is to address them using their name. On the importance of using a name, Dale Carnegie said: “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Here are five steps to help you remember the name of everyone you meet:

  1. Hear the name: When you meet people for the first time, listen when they state their name – really listen and hear what they say when they say their name.
  2. Spell the name: Take a split second and spell their name in your mind after you hear them say it. This important step locks the name in your mind in a powerful way.
  3. Comment on the name: Make a brief comment using the name shortly after you hear it, such as “hi [name], it’s nice to meet you.” Depending on the circumstances you may want to do this non-verbally.
  4. Use the name during the conversation: Use their name once or twice during the initial conversation – this is an important step in remembering a name. It can be something very simple like “so [name], tell me a little more about….” Don’t go overboard or sound too obvious, but look for ways to repeat their name while you become better acquainted.
  5. Restate their name when leaving: Close your conversation using their name. For example, you could say “it was great meeting you [name]” or “[name], I look forward to working with you on the … [project, etc.].”

As you meet someone new and go through these steps, look carefully at the person’s face and other features that will help you associate the name with that individual. You will see noticeable improvements in your relationships and your ability to positively influence people.


The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you work with a lot of people. Make the effort to know them by name. It’s especially important to remember the names of customers you meet. Using these simple steps will help you establish positive relationships and work more effectively.

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3 thoughts on “5 steps to remembering names (the first time)

  1. Sometimes I can’t even comprehend how I can be so horrible with names, yet have a great memory for lots of other things. I like your first suggestion, because it most closely addresses my problem. Generally, I don’t hear the name – it doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other, it somehow circumnavigates my whole head then disappears into thin air! :) Thanks for the practical advice.

    • You’re welcome. The first step has been the hardest one for me as well, but focusing on it and practicing the steps have helped a lot.

      Thanks for your comment.

      -Michael

  2. Pingback: Remembering people’s names | andreaslindell.se

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