You Can Remember Names


If you did your homework from Monday’s post then you’ve been practicing your listening skills all week and you’re ready to put them to good use remembering names. So let’s get right to it.

You’ve just met someone and they told you their name, you listened intently and heard it loud and clear. Now you need to store it in your memory bank so they next time you see them it will come to you instantly.

Here’s a neat little formula to assist you in doing just that. It’s called the IRA formula and it work wonders for those that use it.

The “I” stands for Impression. If we’re going to remember someone’s name we need to get an impression of them; how they look, how they talk, what size they are, if they look like someone else we know. When you pay attention to those details (as you listen) these details will pay you back when you need them. As you get that impression of them it’s probably a good idea to not use what they are wearing to form that impression because if they aren’t wearing it next time…..

The “R” stands for repetition. The idea here is to repeat their name in the course of the conversation. Let’s say I just met Eugene, my part of the conversation is going to go something like this: So Eugene, how long have you lived here? Were you born here too? Where do you work? How long have you worked there Eugene? What’s your favorite hobby? Any other fun things you do in your free time Eugene?

You get the idea. Not only is using someone’s name a great way to remember it, it’s also a wonderful human relations principle. We all love hearing our name. One word of caution here, if you’re planning on using repetition to remember someone’s name you should be sure you have the name right… I used this part of the IRA formula and repeated “Ricki’s” name several times before he kindly informed me his actual name was Micky. I guess that proves that no plan is fool proof, or at least Steve proof.

The “A” stands for Association. Associate the person and their name with what they do for a living, where they work, a famous person, someone they look like, etc. it gives you another “hook” to recall from your memory and their name will be attached to that hook.

The IRA formula works, if you work at it. Years ago I met a true gentleman named George, it didn’t take long to discover that he could remember names like no one I had ever seen. If he met a room full of 40 people and then saw them again 6 months later he would remember literally every single one of their names. I was amazed by that and asked him how he did it. He didn’t mean to but his answer embarrassed me, he said “it’s important to me, so I work at it”.

If remembering names is truly important to you then you can work at it too. You may not do as well as George but with a little effort I’m sure you can surprise yourself.

Now, no more of that “what’s his name” stuff!

8 thoughts on “You Can Remember Names

  1. What a cool little formula!! Thanks for sharing this tip, Steve! When i think about it, I probably apply much the same technique when I meet someone, but I just didn’t know it. I find being focused and fully present in the moment at hand, assists with remembering people’s names and important details….especially, later after the initial meeting has passed. There is nothing worse than being rushed, scattered in the mind and unable to concentrate – not much is committed to memory in this state.. lol.

  2. Hii Steve, I am most greatful that I have a formula to work by. Forgetting names is so embarassing & I am so good at that! Sometimes, I have to say: ‘yr face is familiar, I know I’ve met you but pls forgive me ~ I can’t remember yr name’. Most embarassing.
    Since I have a heart for hurting people, I always make it my business to remember if mentioned in conversation & that applies to our clients too. So when nxt we meet, I associate with their pain eg loss of a loved one, health issue. Clients are most appreciative when I refer to their issue and ask how are they doing/coping. So it works in the workplace but certainly not at a function or when being introduced to people in general. Maybe for some other time ~ why do I call my brothers or sisters every possible name but there own! My dad did the same thing & I noticed his sister does the same! Is the habit heredity?

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