How to remember names once and for all

Almost three years Before that, my husband and I moved to a new neighborhood. One of the first people we met was a teacher who lived six doors away. Every time I see her walking her two dogs, I wave to her and say, “Hi Lisa.” I smile and wave back and say, “How’s it going?” or “What’s new?” After engaging in this almost daily ritual for so long, I am so embarrassed to tell her that I can’t remember her name.

I doubt I’ll be one day “Super Recognizer”, Someone with exceptional facial recognition capabilities. However, I set out to learn ways to improve name recall with the help of two experts: a neurosurgeon and a world memory record holder.

You know the face, why not the name?

Studies like this, from Quarterly Journal of Experimental PsychologyWe suggest that we are better at remembering names than faces. In my case, the opposite is true. I’ll recognize a face, but his name escapes me. It turns out that one of the reasons is that I don’t give my brain a chance to process the information.

“The hippocampus is key to our ability to take two unrelated things in our minds and put them together,” says Dr. Bradley Lega, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery at UT Southwestern/Texas Health Resources in Dallas. When you meet someone whose name and face were previously unrelated in your mind, the hippocampus plays an important role in holding these things together into a single memory. This gives you the ability to know how to address the person. The good news: household names no longer depend on your hippocampus.

Determine why it is difficult to retrieve names

When you meet someone, you may focus on impressing the person with your skills and experience rather than learning more about them With them. You introduce yourselves and shake hands or fist. But when you pass the person back into the event, why draw a blank?

“One of the biggest problems is that people don’t actually do it He hears The name,” says Kevin Horsley, a master of memory and author unlimited memory. “They don’t really focus because they’re trying to be fun instead of trying to be interested.” Bottom line: It’s hard to conjure up a name when you don’t take the time to listen to it.

Go from listening to learning

When you are studying a new topic in school or preparing for a presentation at work, it takes time to learn the material. It is unreasonable to assume that you can learn information once and be able to remember facts in a matter of minutes. Instead, you study and review the topic before an exam or meeting with a client. The same goes for meeting someone once and expecting their name to pop into your mind. Lega describes this as the “tongue tip phenomenon”. You can’t remember the name because you never learned it correctly. There are several ways to improve your ability to retrieve.

Focus on recovery

It’s easier to retrieve something that you pulled out of your mind shortly before. Lega recommends getting back with someone soon after your first encounter. While you’re at a party, you can say, “Hi Jill,” and then two minutes later you’ll say, “I’m sorry, I said Jill?” This process is an indication of whether or not you will know the name later. So even remembering the name once, whenever you can, goes a long way to help you cement it in your mind.

Looking for something unique

Let’s say you meet a co-worker with a popular name that you trust you won’t forget. But when you pass by the person in the hall a few hours later, you forget what he said. “The problem is that you haven’t made a cognitive effort, and because you haven’t created the name in your mind, that’s going to be the name you forget,” Horsley says.

After hearing someone’s name, repeat it again. You can say, “Nice to meet you, Bill,” and then give her name some meaning. In the case of Horsley, I could imagine a horse or, in my opinion, hear the neigh of a horse. He recommends finding significance in a person’s name within a 20-second time frame after hearing it.

Focus on facial features

Look for a prominent feature on someone’s face. Horsley gives an example of his nose. “You can imagine Kevin – like ‘cave’ – as if my nose is collapsing,” he says. Doing something creative and associating that unusual face photo can be a reminder the next time you get together.

Years ago, I was a guest on a local talk show, and the show host mentioned her memory skills. She said, “I heard Kanarik, so I imagined a can around your neck.” Even though this wasn’t an image I wanted to see at all, I understood what kind of connection she was making.

Electronically file names and notes in one place

refer to Apple Notes The app is on my phone as my brain. Whenever I come up with an idea for an article or need to add something to my Costco list, I only have one place to look. Horsley gave me another use for the app. After you meet someone, enter their name, some facts about that person (profession, number of children), and where you met. as recommend EvernoteAnd Google to save information, And Trello. If you keep the reminder handy, you are more likely to review it.

Look at the listings often

When I was a professional organizer, I urged clients to use to-do lists. For some, this process was a way to stay on track. Others claimed the lists didn’t work, but later admitted that they never mentioned it. If you’re going to make an effort to enter someone’s information, take time to read the list, especially before the event. Horsley uses Apple Notes and sets a reminder for every Monday to look at the folders he’s created. He sets another reminder two weeks later, then cuts back some more to keep the list in memory.

Other options include Word Document, google docs, or whatever you already use and refer to. “What you do is re-meet people again and recreate the meeting experience,” Horsley says.

Use social media as a reminder

Without going into the world of stalking, after you meet someone, ask to connect via social media. LinkedIn Perfect for business contacts, while Facebook social networking site And Instagram It can provide more personal information. To prioritize the tweets you see, you can create Twitter Lists From other accounts organized by subject, profession or interests. Even if the person doesn’t accept your request, you can review their profile picture as a reminder before meeting again.

Several years ago, I joined a Facebook group for an upcoming humor writing conference. I answered a woman who asked if anyone was communicating through her city and we agreed to look for each other at the airport. Before I got to the portal, I clicked on her post. Even though she added a cartoon mustache to her avatar, I recognized her instantly.

Change the way you think

While many conferences and business meetings remain online rather than in person, take the opportunity now to enhance your memory skills. With profile names clearly visible, it’s easy to make face contact while chatting online.

And most importantly, think about changing the way you think. As with any skill, if you think you are unable to master it, you may not make an effort to improve it. “There is no good or bad memory for names,” Horsley says. “There is only a good or bad memory strategy.”

Inspired by both experts, next time I see my neighbor, I’ll be clean. Instead of commenting on the weather, I ask for her name. This time, I’ll listen.

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