Why It's So Hard To Remember People's Names
Why It’s So Hard To Remember People’s Names

Why It’s So Hard To Remember People’s Names

Why It’s So Hard To Remember People’s Names

“Hi, I’m Dave. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, Dave. I’m Jane.”

Common enough names to remember, but how is it that Dave will walk away from their initial meeting, forgetting the name, Jane? It happens all the time in business and can be embarrassing. Introducing yourself again to someone you’ve already met sends the message that you didn’t think they were important enough to bother remembering their name. However, there are plenty of reasons why you weren’t able to remember their name. Studies conducted by experts shows you are not alone in having an issue remembering names and ways to resolve the problem.

Why you forget

It may seem that a healthy adult with no history of dementia in the family should have no issues remember anything, especially names. Yet, forgetting names is as common with healthy adults as with those diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Psychology Today explains that several factors cause adults unable to recall someone’s name. It could be due to factors like loud music, disorganized events, or alcohol. For healthy older adults, it could be that the name is on the tip of your tongue, but your mind can’t find where it stored it in its vast neural network. They write, “you are having difficulty finding it because the frontal lobe search mechanism doesn’t work as efficiently as it did when you were younger.” All your mind needs is the right hint, and then it will come to you.

You’re distracted

An explanation as to why you forget a person’s name comes from Charan Ranganath, the director of the Memory and Plasticity Program at the University of California, Davis. Simply put, you’re not interested in their name. Ranganath says. “People are better at remembering things that they’re motivated to learn. Sometimes you are motivated to learn people’s names, and other times it’s more of a passing thing, and you don’t at the time think it’s important.” That’s not to say they aren’t important. Rather, your focus is on something else about them. For instance, you may be thinking about; their business, their societal status, their role at a company that could help you gain them as a client. If your mind is distracted by another aspect of the person you recently met, you may not be able to recall who they are. 

You’re stressed

Stress causes all sorts of problems in the lives of busy professionals. You can develop unhealthy habits, depression, and fall into a self-sabotage mode. Stress can also affect your memory. In Daniel Pendick’s article, 7 common causes of forgetfulness, he explains that stress and anxiety can cause memory problems. Pendick writes, “Anything that makes it harder to concentrate and lock in new information and skills can lead to memory problems. Stress and anxiety fill the bill. Both can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memories or the retrieval of old ones.” If you are stressed about the first day on the job or are uncomfortable attending a networking event, your nerves can interfere, causing you to forget who you meet.

Ways to remember people’s names

Politicians and other professionals seem to have no trouble remembering names effectively. There are different tricks to becoming better at remembering people’s names. In the past, we’ve discussed how mnemonic devices help students and professionals remember information. You can apply these same techniques to learning people’s names. Better yet, you can take Iris Reading’s How To Remember Names Effectively course. You’ll learn the secret to becoming better about people’s names so you won’t have to experience the awkward (and embarrassing) situation of asking for it again.

Click the link today to learn more about our How To Remember Names Effectively course as well as all of our lessons we have to offer here at Iris Reading. 

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