How important is knowing your colleagues name?

We’re looking at how knowing a person’s name at work changes the level of connection employees feel to their company. Is it important to know the names of people you work directly with? What about people you don’t work with but regularly see?

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I find remembering people’s names incredibly hard if I don’t repeat them over and over again. I have lost count of how many times I have been introduced to someone and just 60 seconds later have no idea what there name is. I wonder if I am alone in this? I definitely think that knowing people’s names would have a positive effect on the work place, with both those you work with and regularly see.


I’m sure there is research on how your name becomes deeply connected to your identity as a person. Thus, I believe knowing the names of the people around you is a powerful tool for connection and relationship building. More basically than that, it seems like a common decency/politeness to be able to refer to someone by their chosen/given name.


I believe remembering people’s names and making a point of saying them (which, in turn, helps you remember them!) is a hugely effective way to build rapport and influence with your colleagues. I’ve observed people who put deliberate time and energy into doing this, and they are easily the most liked, most respected and admired people in their social circles.

It’s an old source, but the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has a whole chapter (chapter three) on this:

…the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. But forget it or misspell it - and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage.

Following the example of the people I have seen do this successfully, I devote significant time and attention to remembering my colleagues’ names. When I take a break from a task, I’ll often glance around the office and mentally quiz myself: how many names do I know of the people I can see? Inevitably there will be a handful of folks whose names I can’t remember, so I will pick the one I feel worst about forgetting and look up their name in our employee directory before returning to my work. Later, when I get up to make a cup of tea or visit the restroom, I’ll make the effort to greet at least one person who I pass by name.

Depending on the size of your company it may be impractical to devote the time necessary to always know everyone’s name, but I believe there is an investment you can make into this that fits easily into the cracks in your day, and that it can make a big difference to how you are perceived by your workmates.


OK… I suck at this… but… you can use visual queues that are around: Name Plates, Agenda Attendees lists, ask someone to ‘send it to me in email’ and there’s their name! After awhile, it’s really simple and you DO remember!

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