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Memory Tips to Remembering Names of People in a New Workplace

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 7 Feb 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Remembering Names Tips To Remembering

It’s always going to be very difficult to remember everybody’s name when you start a job in a new workplace. After all, they’ve only got to remember one name whilst you might be introduced to perhaps 20 people or even more on your first day so you can be forgiven for not remembering everybody’s name straight away. That is perfectly understandable.

However, it won’t be long before you’ll begin to be able to address your new work colleagues by their name, especially those with whom you’re working most closely with.

The problem arises if you’ve been there several weeks and if you still can’t remember certain people’s names, especially people like your boss, it’s not going to reflect very well on you. It could give the impression that you’re forgetful and some people might even take offence. Nevertheless, there are some useful tips for remembering names more effectively, even though you still shouldn’t expect miracles straight away.

Preparation First

Most companies will be happy to give you a list of the names of the employees you’ll be working with most frequently as well as managers, supervisors and directors names and these days, many companies include short biographies of the main personnel alongside a thumbnail photograph of each of them on their company website so if you can get access to a list or their company’s website is designed in this fashion, you can sometimes do your homework before you actually start the job.

Even if that’s not possible, a good idea is to jot down the names of those who you’ll be interacting with most often when you actually start work and make a couple of brief observations about each of them. For example, Sally might have bright red hair or Andy might always wear a tie without his top button fastened.

Simple observations like this can often help you put a name to a face more easily. Of course, don’t jot down anything derogatory about a particular person just in case the list is read by others accidentally. But by reviewing this list periodically, it can help you remember names more easily.

Mental Association

Another good method is to make some kind of mental association with their name and something else. Using something that rhymes can often be a good ploy here. For example, if your boss was called Mr Lever, you might think of a rhyming phrase such as Lever - ‘eager beaver’.

Repeating The Name Back

When you’re introduced to somebody for the first time, it also helps if you then greet them and repeat their name back to them in your greeting. For example, if a colleague introduces you to somebody and says, “This is John Talbot, our regional manager”, greet them by saying, “Hi John, please to meet you, I’m Paul.”

You can obviously modify this depending on how formal the company is and, perhaps, because of the status of the person you’re being introduced to so you might use “Hello, Mr Talbot, I’m Paul” or something along those lines.

Then when the conversation ends, it’s once again good to re-iterate the person’s name such as by closing the conversation by saying something like, “Well, it’s been very good to meet you John and I look forward to seeing you next week.” By using the person’s name again at the end of the conversation, that can leave a positive and lasting impression as well as making it far easier to remember the person’s name next time you meet them.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Their Name Again

We’ve all been in a position whether at work or even in a social setting where someone greets us by using our name but we just cannot remember what their name is. This can be awkward and often results in us simply responding to them without referring to them by name which is not the best solution and some people will actually go out of their way to avoid a person simply because they can’t remember their name.

If you cannot remember a person’s name, the best thing to do is to simply apologise and ask them again for it. The vast majority of people will not be offended by that. You could just say, “I’m awfully sorry but I’ve met so many new faces this week, I’m still trying to remember everybody’s name and I just can’t remember yours.” They’ll then tell you and that will usually register for future encounters with them. Remember, they'll have been in your position once too.

Enlisting a Colleague’s Help

If you’re sat working next to a colleague who’s been working at the company for a while, you could also ask them to tell you certain people’s names as you see them around the office regularly but have forgotten or you don’t know their name although try not to do this too often as you’ll not want to interrupt them from doing their own work too much.

In reality, it’s really just a matter of time before you get to know everybody’s name. Each person you meet will have their own individual look and personality and the more you interact with people at the company, the sooner you’ll get to know everybody’s name and, as mentioned, no one expects you to remember everybody’s name for the first couple of weeks you’re in a new job so you shouldn’t get too uptight about that.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Nana - Your Question:
Another way to to remember someones name is to introduce a work related issue and ask for advise. I find that a longer communication or training with someone's name you don't remember will help immensely. This works with not only staff members but superiors too.Sometimes, going into a break room to get coffee or tea may strike up a conversation with someone. Saying hi my name is Nancy and what section do you work in? These types of questions would help to reintroduce themselves and talk about their jobs to remember who to go to for advise. These instances are also an invitation to promote your willingness to learn other functions; or assist.

Our Response:
Many thanks for your useful comments on this subject.
WorkEtiquette - 8-Feb-16 @ 11:53 AM
Another way to to remember someones name is to introduce a work related issue and ask for advise.I find that a longer communication or training with someone's name you don't remember will help immensely. This works with not only staff members but superiors too. Sometimes, going into a break room to get coffee or tea may strike up a conversation with someone. Saying hi my name is Nancy and what section do you work in? These types of questions would help to reintroduce themselves and talk about their jobs to remember who to go to for advise. These instances are also an invitation to promote your willingness to learn other functions; or assist.
Nana - 7-Feb-16 @ 4:48 PM
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