On Thursday I took part in a charity ‘community day’. The group of people I was working with were all employees of one of my clients. Our task was to clear a very overgrown garden that would be used by blind people as a place where they can meet, work together and have fun. Anyway, keeping a long story short, at the beginning of the day we were introduced to one another, ‘hello I am Harley, what’s your name?’ kind of thing (a nightmare for anyone with a bad memory for names). During this exercise, I was amazed by the fact that so many people seemed to be able to remember the names of the thirty people they were introduced to. (Sometimes I even forget the name of one person I am introduced to immediately after they have told me)! My wife says it is because I am lazy. I believe that it is because my brain is not programmed sufficiently well for this kind of activity.

Over they years I have noticed that men tend to be worse than women, so it was a great relief when I got speaking with a women (sorry I have forgotten her name) from Germany who also admitted to having exactly the same problem as me. The difference between me and her is that her theory (excuse, as my wife would put it) is much better than mine. She said that her bad memory for names was because that when she is introduced to someone for the first time, she concentrates very much on their appearance; their face, clothes, the way they stand, the timbre of their voice etc. In fact she does this in so much detail that the name she has just been given is not stored at all.

I once worked for a boss who’s memory for names was even worse than mine. I had found him three good candidates for a new position in the company. Unfortunately on the day that his chosen candidate arrived in reception to begin his first day of work, the boss came rushing into my office asking “What’s that guy doing in reception”?
“What do you mean, I asked”?
“I didn’t select that guy, I wanted Michael, you know – the guy with the ginger hair! oh my God this guy won’t do at all, get rid of him”!
My boss had remembered the names of the person he interviewed incorrectly and selected the wrong one! From that day onwards all candidates had their photographs taken on the day of their interview, to be absolutely sure that the right one began with the company! In life there is always someone that has what you have, but worse!

Tip 1: When it is very important to remember someone’s name, take the first observation that you make about them and link it to something negative. For example, if you are introduced to someone called Jane and she is very thin, then try and remember her as ‘fat – Jane’. Or, if the man you meet is obviously nervous, you could try remembering him as ‘cool hand – John’. The next time you meet them you will find you will remember their nick name first and their real name will spring into your mind a split second later (hopefully)!
Tip 2: If you forget someone’s name and it is very important you can always say to them “I am sorry I have forgotten your name”. Nine times out of ten they will reply with their first name, if so, you can simply add: “No, sorry what I meant to say is that I have forgotten your family name”. They will obviously give it to you and then you have them both, all you need then is an excuse to turn your back and to write it down before you forget again. This trick is a little dishonest, but it has worked for me on many occasions!