There are many mysteries in life. Where do all my hair elastics go? Where are all my bobby pins? Does the washing machine collect odd socks? Why am I invisible to my kids until I need to make a phone call? All real questions and all without answers unfortunately.
There is another life mystery I’ve had to deal with a lot lately. Forgetfulness. It’s something that has always been there, but it’s getting worse the older I get.
I will meet someone, they will tell me their name and before we even stop shaking hands I’ve forgotten it already. I kid you not. It happens every single time. Unless their name happens to be Chrystal, in which case I’m home free!
My husband has his own theories of why I forget people’s names. “You don’t pay attention,” he says. “You’re not interested so you don’t remember. Why is it you can remember the whole Kardashian/Jenner family tree without missing a beat?”
Yadda, yadda, yadda. Of course I’m paying attention! Of course I care! I just can’t retain that kind of information. Geeez!
There is however information that I can retain that will knock your socks off. For example:
I can recite every single word of any song I have ever listened to and loved. Anything from Rick Astley to Sinead O’Connor to that stupid song “I would walk 500 miles…”
I can remember the surnames of the kids I was in primary school with. Daniel Harris, Pippin Lewis, Sally O’Bourne- hope you’re all doing well and happen to be reading this!
I learnt German as a second language in high school and to this day I am able to count to 100 without thinking twice. It’s my party trick and I will bore anyone who’s willing to listen.
If you want me to remember a particular event we were at years ago, just tell me what I was wearing and what we ate. That always triggers my memory.
I can tell you all the previous exes of any celebrity. Sad but true.
But all of the above are useless to me or anyone else for that matter. I used to imagine myself being on Who wants to be a Millionaire and having to answer a random question such as “Who was Gigi Hadid’s father married to before Yolanda. And tell me her age in German.” What are the chances of anyone else knowing that?! But alas, I’m pretty sure my memory bank will be useless in any kind of competition.
Which brings me to the problem of forgetting people’s names. (When I was teaching, it used to take me at least 3 weeks to learn the kid’s names. I used to get them to make name tags for their tables their bags, in fact I had them label nearly everything short of writing their names on their foreheads!)
I’ve discovered a few pointers that may help you (me) with remembering people’s names. Because let’s be honest, remembering someone’s name makes people feel good. They feel important and pay greater attention. Have you noticed how much more important you feel when someone calls you by your name when speaking to you. Instead of just saying “hey buddy,” how nice is it to actually hear your name? We all feel better when people remember our names and worse when they don’t.
So here are some tips:
Meet and repeat. When someone tells you their name, repeat it by saying- Hi Mark, nice to meet you.
Spell it out. Not out loud, that’s just weird. But in your head.
Associate their name with something. It could be the same name as someone famous, something about their job, associating them with a rhyming word or where they’re from, e.g. Sarah sells, or Jane from Jersey.
Make a connection. Same name as my sister. Same name as Ryan Gosling. He looks like Tony Abbott (poor guy).
Choose to care. Most psychologists (and my husband) say that one of the main reasons we forget someone’s name is that we’re not really focused on learning it in the first place. There’s too much else going on so we don’t really pay attention.
There you go guys, give the tips a whirl and see how you go.