Inspired by an insightful comment from one of our users in response to a more encompassing article written by DG author Manny Romano, 11 Traits of a Highly Effective Gentleman, I would like to introduce a segment more specifically designed to address the major attributes that make a gentleman effective in his interactions and respected for his demeanor, entitled ‘Noble Habits of a Gentleman.’
To kick off the series, I chose a topic that is not often recognized but hugely encountered: how to remember names.
First I would like to start with an observation of human behavior by delving into a brief psychology lesson in sequence learning. Sequence learning is inherent to human ability because it is an integrated part of conscious and nonconscious learning as well as activities. According to Ritter and Nerb, “The order in which material is presented can strongly influence what is learned, how fast performance increases, and sometimes even whether the material is learned at all.” Sequence learning, more known and understood as a form of explicit learning, is now also being studied as a form of implicit learning as well as other forms of learning. Sequence learning can also be referred to as sequential behavior, behavior sequencing, and serial order in behavior. 
Basically speaking, we almost always acquire amounts of information or skills in a series. When do you usually have trouble remembering names? Probably in situations where there are more than a few people you have to meet and remember. Specifically an experience I like to call “The Sandwich Cookie Effect.” Imagine with me, you enter a party scenario where a good amount of guests have arrived. Naturally you aim to immediately greet and thank the host for their gracious and tasteful hospitality, but once you have interrupted their hosting responsibilities, they want to introduce you to some or all of the guests you have not already met. Shit. This is where the Sandwich Cookie Effect comes into full force like the Kool-Aid Man bursting through the brick walls of whatever apartment party or happy hour you have now regretfully attended, directly screaming at your mental retention capacity “Oh yeahh! You’re guaranteed to butcher the sequence and potentially pronunciation of each person you’re about to meet!” And you begin to sweat bullets because right in the middle of the circle is a really cute individual whom you have not met but really wish you could stand your name-remembering ground and impress a few guests (and even yourself) with a superhuman moment of errorless name recall.. or just do as DG author Manny Romano does and immediately dismiss the awkward meet & greet by bluntly announcing to the group you have a terrible memory and will probably not remember anyone’s name, therefore relying solely on one-on-one conversations to mentally store peoples’ names and faces. To Manny’s defense this system can work pretty well, but it stems from a brief moment of dismissing a group their introductions and that brief awkward moment where everyone just met and has absolutely nothing in common until a decent conversation is struck.
Now the explanation of the Sandwich Cookie metaphor. You enter the circle of conversation, whether it be three, eight, or 13 people in circumference. Sequence learning tells us that when initially learning a data series our brains pay attention to the first and last of the series (the hard cookie layers) and then ignore/mash up the central pieces of information between ends, all the while trying to mentally remember the first person we met and maintain eye contact/proper handshakes or nods with everyone else until we reach the end of the group where our brain is like “oh shit I just met seven people and I only remember three names” because you remembered the first and last individuals, and someone in the middle either shares your own name or that of someone close to you. This situation happens ALL THE TIME, and I surely hope you can identify with what I just described – that will mean you are human and not the Terminator reading this thinking “Stupid author Adrian, I always remember names in a sequence; Hit lists are my thing Bro.” Mathematical assassination robots aside, the people between the first and last names are the gooey central layer of frosting that are ironically, in a sandwich cookie the best part, but in the previous situation the segment you least enjoy. Your brain mashes up all that data while it’s distracted remembering the name of person #1 and simultaneously controlling the physical actions customary of a first time meeting, one after the other, all the way until person #n at the end of the line where you have a moment to take a breath and remember their name.
Solution. I offer it to you at only three small payments (PayPal is eagerly accepted) of $9.95.. no just kidding.
There are several solutions to this common issue, all relevant and uniquely tweaked by the situation or individual at hand. The one I prefer and use most often is simple: pause between people, look them in the eye and repeat their name, and then before moving to the next person I repeat the name silently to myself. Sometimes I will even double check myself by reiterating their name out loud and in a sentence to make sure I 1) got the name right and 2) pronounced it correctly (another helpful hint: people with unusual names are accustomed to repeating them, don’t be afraid to ask and ask again until you get it right – even ask to spell it out, they will appreciate your persistence for accuracy).
All of this may seem like a huge effort, but it all happens in a few split seconds. Every time you repeat a person’s name, silently or out loud, you have exponentially increased the chances of your name-to-face recall and accuracy. This system also subtly weaves another psychological aphrodisiac into play with the repetition of a person’s name. An individual’s name is the most attractive sound to his or her psyche; they have been hearing and responding to that specific sound their entire life, and the way you use it will determine how effective of an impression you will make.