We’ve all been there. You meet someone new at a party, perhaps you even have a lengthy, riveting conversation, but then the panic hits you. What was her name again? Rachel? Jane? Or was it Jennifer?
Forgetting a person’s name can be pretty embarrassing. Even if you genuinely remember most of the details from your conversation, it just makes the whole thing seem pretty impersonal if you can’t even scrounge up a first name.
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Luckily, there are some neuroscience tricks you can use to never forget a new person’s name.
This goes without saying, but keep the name repetition inside your head. It might not make for the best first impression if you repeat someone’s name aloud 10 times right after being introduced. But as simple as it sounds, repeating someone’s name in your head can work wonders in helping you remember it. The repetition helps form a stronger memory. You can even repeat it a couple times out loud by crafting it into the conversation — “So, Rachel, what made you want to become a chef?”
Link the name to something you already know
It doesn’t matter if the link is completely ridiculous. Forming the connection helps to lock down the memory of the name. For instance, Rachel is a chef, and her favorite thing to cook is chicken in a cream of mushroom sauce. You had a friend named Rachel back in college, but she was a vegetarian so she would never eat chicken. The association may sound totally silly or like a weird stretch, but it doesn’t matter. The link can help you remember Rachel’s name.
Link the name to something else about the new person
The last memory trick is to associate the person’s name with something else about him or her. For instance, the name Rachel reminds you of Rachel from the sitcom Friends, and in the show, Rachel was best friends with Monica who was a chef. Making an association between the name Rachel and a chef will help you remember your new chef friend’s name. Again, it doesn’t matter if the links seem strange. Nobody has to know about them anyway.
The main idea is to create a web of memories in your brain. With repetition and different kinds of links and name associations, you’re more likely to remember Rachel’s name next time you run into her than be stuck with panic of having no clue.
The neurohack is simple, but it can save you from that awkward moment.
h/t: BBC Future