Manners & Misdemeanors
How to Remember Anyone's Name
Simple tricks to conquer the room and easily memorize the names of everyone you meet.

Okay, here we go. Deep breath. It's game time. You're dressed in your finest duds—fresh from the dry cleaner. Smells like victory, which is perfect because you're in it to win it tonight.

It's the big company cocktail party and you're the man of the hour. Being CEO has its perks, but nothing beats mucking it up with your employees. There's just one problem—one major problem—you're terrible at remembering people's names. Just downright terrible. Think of how many "buddies" and "guys" you know, a whole city's worth of familiar faces whose names you couldn't remember to save your life.

But all that changes tonight. Yep, tonight you're armed with a strategy to remember every name, and remember it for good. So let the games begin.

"Would you like to check your jacket, sir?"

"Why yes, my good man," you respond, thinking this is a perfect opportunity to give your name game a quick spin. "And what's your name?"


"I hear a little accent there, John. Where you from?"

"New Jersey."

"John from Jersey. Great to meet you. Thanks for your help."


John from Jersey handles the jackets. Easy as that. All you need to do is focus in, listen intently to the name, repeat it, glean some information about the person, and make an association to remember it by. If there's a little alliteration to go off of, all the better.

Okay, now let's see, who's next? Oh, you recognize that young man from the second floor. He's always rushing into the elevator in the morning wearing those nice suits and carrying the Journal; a younger version of you.

"Hi, I'm Bob," you open.

"Oh, hello sir. I'm --------."

"We seem to be on the same schedule every morning and I just thought I'd introduce myself."

"Well thank you. Really nice to meet you, Bob."

"You, too, um…."

Oh no, his name is gone. You weren't focusing. Where do you go from here? Enter: the e-mail trick.


"You seem like an eager young guy. We should grab coffee some time," you continue in earnest. "What's your e-mail?"

"Oh, that would be great. My e-mail is [email protected]"

"Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Waters. I'll be in touch."

The e-mail trick worked like a charm.


Now you need to deposit Barry Waters into your memory bank for good. Let's think of a solid rhyming association for his name. Barry, Larry, Carry, Sharry, Darry, Marry. Wait, that's it: marry. In those suits, Barry is ready to marry. He comes to the elevator every day like it's an alter. Barry ready to marry. Done and done.


Later that evening at the company event, a rotund guy from the legal department intervenes before you're able to make your way to the bar. "What'll it be Bob?" he asks. "I'll have a bourbon. Thanks..." you say, quite obviously blanking on his name.

"The name's Bernie."


Bernie is about 6'2", portly and slightly red-faced. He licks his lips before each sip. How are you going to remember this guy? Let's go with a physical association. The licking of the lips reminds you of a dog. A Saint Bernard even. Perfect! Bernie is a dog, a Saint Bernard. Now let's review: John from Jersey; Barry ready to marry; Bernie the Bernard."


It's the voice of the sweet little secretary whose name you never bothered to learn. Now you're way past the point of asking for it. Time to employ the Wingman Strategy.


"Hello!" you exclaim. "Do you know Bernie?"

"Oh, no, I don't. Hello Bernie, I'm Denise."

Of course! Denise. Denise works the desk. Can't beat that association. Now, say it out loud. "Yes, Bernie, you've probably seen Denise. She works the front desk. Denise how long have you been there, anyway?"

Let them talk amongst themselves, nod and smile, and get in another mental name review. John from Jersey has my jacket; Barry is ready to marry; Bernie is a dog; and Denise works the desk. See, you realize while sipping your bourbon—there's no magic trick to remembering people's names. Like most things that get you ahead in business or in life, it takes work, concentration, and practice. Pretty soon, you'll be Bob, the guy that remembers everybody's names. And everyone loves Bob.

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Robert Cocuzzo
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