Forgetting faces

by Krish

I seem to forget the faces of people I meet. Recently I went to a new place for a hair cut, the barber and I got talking and had a nice friendly chat during the course of my haircut, and yes I had seen his face clearly.

Two days later I meet him on the subway and I have no clue who he is. I don't even remember his face or who he was, since I have faced this problem before, I was able to cover it up and make him feel I knew who he was.

But this problem of mine, where I can't remember faces is getting worse it seems. It might land me in trouble professionally. Could you please give me a solution.

Doug's Reply. First of all, the memory of someone is often tied to context. That is, the place and situation where we met them.

I'd bet that if you saw the same person again at the barbershop you would remember him. That you met him on the subway, by chance, away from the barber shop, made it more difficult to remember him. If he wore some sort of uniform at the barbershop that he did not have on in the subway would make it even harder.

However, there are steps you can take to remember names and faces better. The next time you meet someone new, try the Name-Face Method.

The Name-Face Method is normally used for remembering names. However, I think it will also help you remember the actual face.

The reason is that with this method you spend time concentrating on specific features of the person's face. This will help set it more firmly in memory. That you will also remember their name will just be a bonus.

You can read the details of the Face-Name Method on the page I linked to above. But here are the basic steps:

1) Get the Name. Most people tune out when someone else says their name during an introduction. That's because we are usually waiting to say our own name.

Instead, make absolutely sure you heard their name correctly. Say their name back to them once or twice to make sure you've got it. (E.g., "Pleased to meet you, James.")

2) Make the name concrete. This means turn the sound of the name into something you can easily visualize. For example, the name "Mary" might remind you of weddings ("marry").

3) Look carefully at their face, and find an unusual, memorable feature. It could be a large nose, the shape of their eyebrows, or something else. Don't choose something that's easily changed, such as the style of glasses they're wearing.

4) Associate the Name with the Face. Take whatever facial feature you noticed and connect it in your mind with the name. So if Mary has a big nose, imagine a silly, exaggerated image in your mind connecting "weddings" with that nose.

For instance, think of a large gold wedding ring, complete with an enormous diamond, encircling her nose. The next time you see Mary, you will see her distinctive nose, and the image of the wedding ring ("marry") encircling it will remind you of her name.

5) Review the Association. Once you've met someone and made the association, review it in your mind after they've gone. That way it will be stronger in memory.

I hope that helps, and best of luck to you.

Douglas J.

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Nov 06, 2013
Thanks for the repky
by: krish

Thank you Doug for the reply. It has been really long since I posted the question, sorry for checking back in so late.

I just realised that my question was approved and an answer was posted when I was emptying my inbox out. Thanks again for the reply, I will definitely try the face-name method and I am sure it will be good, better than now at least.

This forgetting the face problen may make people think that I am a rude person, but I am absolutely not, lol. Once again thanks for the reply, sorry about the delay in replying.

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