Service of Remembering a Person’s Name

February 24th, 2022

Categories: Memory, Name, Service, Service Personality


“Remember people’s names,” said my friend Erica Martell recently, “they’ll treat you better.” She’d just returned from her Honda dealer where she’d greeted the receptionist by name. She’d also remembered that the woman had been gone for a while, further personalizing her conversation. Her car was first serviced.

I wonder if Fred, [photo above], the doorman at my building, gets the biggest and most holiday tips. As I’ve written before, he knows the names of most tenants, their kids and dogs as well as their apartment numbers. There are 510 apartments and most house more than one person. It’s lovely returning home to hear “Hello Jeanne-Marie!” I’ve lived in doorman buildings where a hello barely warrants a grunt in return. [I moved.]

I envy people with remarkable name memory–I know a few. I have always been name lazy and deficient. A basic tip at how-to-network events is how to help others remember your name. Take Byington. I might say “My name is Jeanne Byington, and although the By in Byington is not spelled B U Y, it’s a good name for me because I love to shop.”  But who speaks like that? I never tried it. And people tend to remember my name anyway.

I think we’re born with such talents, like learning languages, being musical, handy or athletic. My husband remembered numbers. He could tell you the cost to the penny of a project that happened years before. He also remembered dates and details from the biographies and history books he read by the armloads full and could identify an opera after the first few notes [even though he was tone deaf].

Do you remember a waiter’s name, if he announces it, if he isn’t wearing an ID? Do you call him/her by name? When you enter a restaurant, dry cleaner or other business and staff remembers your name does it make a difference to you? Do you think you get better service when you call an employee by name?

Image by motointermedia from Pixabay


21 Responses to “Service of Remembering a Person’s Name”

  1. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: I love it when someone uses my name. Warms my ❤️ Our new doorman in my building is doing that!

    I am not sure about better service..but you definitely tune in

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Do you think you will give him a bigger holiday tip than other doormen?

  3. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: Not sure. He just started.

  4. Martha T. Takayama Said:

    I definitely think it is a good idea  to remember people’s names in general. It makes social interaction easier.A very political public official friend always reiterated that her also very political father (a real estate appraiser) stressed the importance of this. She said his technique was to remember a name, a face and a fact , in particular a profession or job.  It served her well as she rose professionally. Yesterday I had a specific positive experience because I to the scheduler/driver for my dry cleaning by name. He was so pleased because I remembered his name as well as its origin (Scottish). A brief exchange about how he fared during Covids and he assured me that he would see that my discount was applied. Acknowledging someone’s name in a service situation also shows respect for the person as an individual which, especially in this dreadfully rude era, is always positive.  One’s temperament and world view also color how much value you assign to remembering the names of others who are not necessarily social friends. I also think it is very pleasant and heartening when a doorman, a salesperson, or restaurant host (in the pre-pandemic era at least ) remembers your name. It certainly can make for smoother or even better service. Remembering names may have some relationship to language skills, but it also involves care, attention, and good memory skills. Not everyone has those skills in equal amounts.

    As for waiters, I really have never liked the practice of having wait staff introduce themselves by names, because I don’t expect them to be part of my social experience when dining out.  I think this practice can be invasive or even insinuating or provocative . 

  5. ASK Said:

    I know most of the names of the main staffers in our co-op…and they know mine. I tip generously when I need something done in the apartment and I am also courteous. I believe that these things help to get any service performed faster; I get the latest gossip as well.

  6. Kathleen Said:

    A solution to remembering names. My father was friendly, liked everyone, had joking fun, etc. As he grew older, he forgot some names, so he then called everyone “Sam”. With a warm smile and maybe a hand’s pat, his “Hi Sam,” worked his knowing the person, but not the person’s immediate name. It worked!

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree with you 2 million percent about it feeling awkward when a stranger I’ll probably never again see insinuates himself into my life with a name. I’ve never heard a customer say, “Why hello, Jamie, my name is Gertrude.”

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What saves me–we have 28 workers in my apartment–is a Christmas card with images of staff identified as in a yearbook. While many know me I don’t remember all their names. I LOVE that you’re up on the gossip. That’s important.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Great tip!

    Lots of people call others “sweetheart,” etc. but that doesn’t always work.

    The French have it easy by calling strangers “Monsieur,” “Madame,” Mademoiselle.”

  10. lucrezia Said:

    I’m a star member of the “Forget Names” club, so I no longer bother. It’s easier to admit to a frailty than keep fighting it.

    I date myself but won’t call anyone by a first name unless invited to do so including waiters. I’ve been remembered by store/restaurant personnel – a wise move in an eatery, since it means a fat tip! Good relations in stores means good service. Names not needed – recognition will do.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m surprised that you don’t remember names because you have a remarkable memory–like a computer.

    I agree about a cheery greeting that puts me in a good mood whether or not the person has ever seen me before. A name to go with it is nice but not essential. We stopped going to a restaurant upstate because the owner/greeter looked as though he’d never seen us before although we’d been there countless times, often inviting friends. His sour, unwelcoming demeanor eventually got to us. His partner was the chef –a good one too. He eventually doomed that business.

  12. lucrezia Said:

    It’s true. I have a decent, but highly selective memory. If someone I don’t like materializes, the name sticks.

  13. BC Said:

    We do think it makes sense to call any type of server/employee by name.
    We always make that effort-might influence service.

  14. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    Yeah I’m terrible at remembering names and, even worse, I occasionally blank when trying to remember names which I do know! I tried the “sweetheart” route and got my face slapped a lot so I had to stop.

    For some reason (may be cultural?) it especially didn’t seem to be an effective substitute with maintenance/repair staff in buildings/garages? “Honey” only seemed marginally better though it did seem to work with a few camels I know.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Ha ha.

    If I see someone I don’t know well–or whose name I’ve forgotten– I always say “hi, Jeanne Byington,” in the event they suffer from my affliction. It’s especially awful if you’re with someone and know you should make introductions but you can’t remember the other person’s name. If I have time to whisper, “introduce yourself,” to the person I’m with I do. Even then, the nameless person often responds “nice to meet you,” and doesn’t add their name. Sigh.

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Along with Martha, who responded above, if at a restaurant—especially one I’ve never been to—I find the process of wait staff introducing themselves with their name uncomfortable and I don’t use it. If at a club or a local watering hole I go to a lot, that’s different.

  17. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: many times I ask the name of my server – building staff know my name & I theirs. The holiday tips are basically “even”, but some get more due to how they may give me extra help during the year.

  18. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think most people agree with you but I agree with Martha who wrote above: “As for waiters, I really have never liked the practice of having wait staff introduce themselves by names, because I don’t expect them to be part of my social experience when dining out. I think this practice can be invasive or even insinuating or provocative.”

    I don’t know about insinuating or provocative, but I see wait staff much like PR people. We all should be in the background. I go to a restaurant to enjoy the food and if with a friend, the company, but not to make friends with the staff. As I mentioned to BC above, it’s different in a club if I’m a member or in a local watering hole if I go a lot. Similarly a PR person’s job is to promote the client or the client’s products, not to be the center of attention. In a restaurant, if anyone should be it’s the chef.

  19. Francine Ryan Said:

    Francine on Facebook: It’s such an unusual occurrence, I am always completely delighted when it happens to me and I try hard to greet people I see at the bank, etc., by their name

  20. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I know how important it is to address by name people you see frequently over the year. As I am so deficient in this regard I hope a happy demeanor and smiling comment helps though I admit isn’t as good.

    When president of an organization people knew me and some weren’t familiar but I always was welcoming as though I knew them well*** and also asked the administrator to print first names on badges in 24 point type or bigger if possible.

    ***”Duh,” you think about warm greetings. A few I’ve dealt with over the years would stare at me as though they’d never before seen me even though we’d met countless times. No doubt they thought they were acting powerful. The unnecessary cold act never impressed me.

  21. Eileen Drover Said:

    Eileen on Facebook: you have very nice door people.

Leave a Reply