What’s in a name? 5 tips to learn and remember names!

The name Macbeth is associated with blood and drama!

What’s in a name?

I am sure you are familiar with the above quote. It’s from the famous Shakespeare Play “Romeo & Juliet”. To give you an answer to that question: there is a lot in someone’s name! Actually, you can say that our name is the most important word in our vocabulary. Just think about what you feel when your name is misspelled, mispronounced or even worst: forgotten! Because a name means so much to each of us, it is a good thing to remember and use other people’s names. That is true for teachers with regard to pupils’ names, but it is equally true for almost every profession and for almost everyday encounters with others. I will tell you why exactly and, because knowing and using names is so important, I will also provide five tips so you can better learn and remember names.

Why your name is important to you and to others

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language,” writes Dale Carnegie in his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Your name is what distinguishes you from other people. That’s why your name is often one of the first things people ask for when they meet you. Your name makes sure people can identify you and can refer to you.

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes”

In Romeo and Juliet, their names were so vitally important to themselves and to others that this led to dramatic consequences. In real life, names also matter, to you and to others.

We all feel more valued and more respected when someone remembers our name. We feel more engaged in a conversation when someone uses our name. We feel more connected when someone calls us by our name in a conversation. All of this increases accountability, trust and empathy and it stimulates positive communication. When you use someone’s name, it shows that you see the other person as an individual. When you remember someone’s name, it clearly shows your interest in and respect for him or her. In business, knowing someone’s name can make a positive difference in how that person feels about you and your company. In education, your pupils will definitely be more engaged and motivated when you use their names.

How to learn and remember people’s names

After having read how much a name means to people and how using other people’s names is quite crucial in personal and business relationships, you must love to get some tips for learning and remembering names. Well, here they are: 5 tips how to remember names effectively!

  1. My first tip may sound obvious, but it is a really important one! First of all you need to WANT to learn the person’s name. It’s with everything you learn in life: if you want to learn it, you will devote time, effort and energy. So, start by deciding that learning names is important and something you really want to master. Set a goal for yourself! Which names do you want to learn and by when? (You can find tips for effective goal setting in this previous blogpost)
  2. Now you are ready to start with learning names. Every time you meet someone new, either ask for someone’s name directly or wait till he or she says it. Since their name is so important for people, most people will share it with you without you having to ask for it. When they say their name, clearly listen to it. If you don’t understand it or can’t say it properly, check if you say it correctly and/or ask how their name is spelled. It shows your genuine effort of learing their name, which will leave a good impression, plus it helps you remember the name better.
  3. Now you know their name, immediately use it! A good way of doing so is to look them in the face, shake their hand and repeat their name! Do this in a natural way, simply say something like: “Nice to meet you Lieske”.
  4. The next step is to use the other person’s name each time you address him or her. Like with so many other communication tips, this is one you should use in a subtle and natural way. Overdoing it will have the contrary effect of what you are aiming for (like explained in this blogpost).
  5. After or during the first conversation, it is a good idea to make connections and/or use associations in order to put the name firmly in your memory. A mental picture is useful too. Let’s say you meet Sarah who works in sales; that is an beautiful alliteration and you can easily picture Sarah selling something. Using the alliteration, connecting her name and her profession and making a mental picture will make sure that her name will be so much easier to remember. You may have noticed that I end each blogpost with an alliteration (Love, Lieske). This way it should be easier for my readers to remember my name. For the name of my blog (petite teacher) I have deliberately chosen for a title that is easily associated with me as a person. I am petite and a teacher, so my blog name should be easy to remember.

I am convinced these five tips are well manageable. They are good tips to know for all of us and for fellow teachers they may come in handy at the start of a new school year. I’d love to challenge each of you to start using other people’s names more frequently in conversations and to enjoy the positive results of doing so! As always, I love reading about your experiences and will be happy by getting additional tips. Please share them here!




You may also like


    1. They are really easy to use and work so well! Enjoy your weekend too Nancy, you look super stylish at the start of it! Love, Lieske

  1. Thanks for the tips. I am terrible with names. Especially of people whom I see only once in a while. With the girls in the hairdress salon and the girls in the flower shop I have deliberately written their names down, made a picture and still I don’t know which one is which. The girls at the flower shop think it is very funny and like that I am doing my utmost to remember. Difficult names (often foreign) or names which you have in different prononciations are hell for me. Poor colleague Rachel. I haven’t pronounced her name correctly once.Hell.

    1. Dear Greetje. How sweet and good of you to make such an effort to learn the names of the girls at the flower shop. I am sure they really appreciate your efforts. I hope my tips can make a difference. Tip 1 is already a tick in the box so it seems. Only 4 to go! In case alliterations and connections do not work well for you, making up a story about the different girls can be worth experimenting with: you should combine all sorts of elements into one story (name, looks, funny events, typical remarks they may make and so on. The more you can think of the better and the more remarkable, funny, special the story even better still). Since this is a more challenging tip to implement I have left it out in the blogpost, but it is really good one too. Just a bit more creative work and time are involved. Since you are a creative person, it may well do the trick for you. Please keep me updated about your progress!Love, Lieske

  2. Excellent tips. They all seem intuitive, and yet I don’t actually employ many of those tools. Now I will.
    I love the wonderful shot of the red telephone booth, by the way. I’m so glad to be able to catching up on your wonderful posts. I, for one, really love nametags. LOL.

    1. Hi Elle. To be honest I also love name tags, especially at the beginning of the school year. Having to learn like 100 new names does take some time, even with the above tips, so name tags (or desk tags) can be really helpful. I do use them as a matter of last resort though. Love, Lieske

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *