"Name-esis" . . . What Would You Do?

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that you have a similar nemesis as one of my co-workers: remembering other people’s names (something I’ve coined “name-esis.”) What are you to do when you’ve been taking an aerobics class with this woman for two years, or you’ve been sitting by this person at softball games for an entire season, or you’ve known that family for decades . . . and you can’t remember their names?

I’ve come up with two options, and I’m curious which one you’d choose—or if you’d do something entirely different:

1. Admit your predicament, and ask them to solve it for you. Humbly say, “I’m so sorry, but there seems to be a hole in my brain. What is your name?”  
2. Ask someone else to remind you of their name. Or, check your church directory or even Facebook. (Yes, it sounds a bit like stalking, but it’s for a good cause, right?)

Of course, it’s far better to evade this problem by catching and retaining their name the first time you meet them. How? I’m sure there are a myriad of ways, but here’s what helps me:

1. I repeat their name as soon as they say it to me: “Hailey.”
2. If it’s an unusual name, I ask them to spell it, and visualize it in my head: “L-a-n-d-o-n with an ‘o.’”
3. I confirm their name before I leave—“Would you remind me of your name one more time?” or “You’re Sam, and you’re Trisha, right?”
4. This last step is crucial: When I finish the conversation, I write their name in a little notebook. If I don’t have my notebook with me, I write it on a napkin or a bill, and transfer it to my notebook later.

I also try to write some kind of identifying feature or note. This doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me. For example, last week I had a brief conversation with a maintenance man while I was sitting in the garden at the local library. Because I hope to frequent that library again, I jotted down a note about him: “Purdue University engineering grad; Summer job; Hard worker.” If I ever see him again, I’ll remember not only his name, but a little about him.  

Isn’t it amazing that God knows our names? That He never forgets them? Not only that, but that He never forgets a word we say, or an action we take? I long to reflect my Heavenly Father to others just by simply—well, often with a fair amount of hard work—remembering their name.

About the Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula Marsteller

Paula Marsteller is a gifted communicator with a tenacious commitment to Scripture coupled with a compassionate, loving voice. God has captured Paula’s heart, and she is passionate about sharing life-changing, gospel truths through the lens of her everyday, ordinary life … read more …

Join the Discussion