You’ve probably heard that forgetting names is the first sign of getting old. The truth is you can have a bad memory for names at any age. Many people just don’t pay attention to names in the first place!
However, it’s true that memory loss usually starts with forgetting names and addresses. The reason for this is simple: once you forget a name, your brain has no way to get that information back.
Since brains don’t work like video cameras, your brain forgets most details of an event very quickly. When you need to recall the whole event, your brain reconstructs the details from context. This is usually pretty accurate.
But you can’t guess a name from context. You may be able to recall part of the name – usually the beginning – but that probably won’t help.
A Few Tips
Although many people have a bad memory for names, it can still cause you embarrassment or conflict. You might have to deal with someone who will assume that you’re disinterested or lazy because you forget names. This can be a problem in both your professional and personal life.
Here are three things you can do to avoid this issue:
Finding a rhyme or some other “cheat” can help you remember an important name by giving it a new context. Mnemonics are also good for preserving your brain’s health.
• Write it down
When you have to meet someone new, write their name down as soon as you can. You can look your notes over at any time and even learn them by heart.
• Look it up
If you are invited to a business event or a social gathering, take some time to find out who will be there. Social media is a great tool if you want to remind yourself of forgotten names or other data.
In the end, forgetting a name can happen to anyone. If you end up in an uncomfortable situation, consider explaining that you have a bad memory for names. You may find sympathy, or even commiseration.
[expand title = “References”]
Memory for Names Seem to Deteriorate? URL link. Accessed 11th November 2017.