How to Remember What People Say
You’re A Bad listener: Here’s How To Remember What People Say

How to Remember What People Say (+6 Reasons you can’t remember conversations)

You’re A Bad listener: Here’s How To Remember What People Say

People looking to improve their listening skills will benefit from Cash Nickerson’s acronym ARE U PRESENT. Practicing this technique will help you remember what people say even when working under pressure. You’ll learn to navigate through discussions better and retain the information you learned.

There are many reasons you could be having a hard time remembering what people say. Many professionals will catch themselves walking away from a conversation asking, “Who was it that they needed me to send an email to about a project? What project was it?” If you find yourself in this position, it is time to change the way you listen.

This post teaches you how to remember what people say during conversations.

Read on for tips to become a better listener.

Signs you are a bad listener

The best way to know whether you are a good listener or not is to reflect on previous conversations and see if there is a habit you can change. The most common reason why people become poor listeners is because they are no longer engaged enough in conversations. While assessing your listening skills, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have others asked me to stop interrupting them?
  • Has someone critiqued me on my body language, like eye contact or being fidgety?
  • How frequent has someone said, “Don’t get defensive about it”?
  • Do you tend to hurry the speaker with nonverbal cues or a go-to excuse?
  • Are you more eager for your turn to speak that you forget what they are trying to communicate?
  • Do you find that you engage yourself with the other person by asking follow-up questions and remarking on the conversation as a whole? 
  • Do you find yourself drifting away from the conversation and thinking about something else?
  • Have you already forgotten their name and are spending more time thinking about that?

How to remember what people say

Cash Nickerson, the author of The Samurai Listener, has the solution to becoming a better listener. All you have to remember is the acronym, ARE U PRESENT:

Awareness: Before the conversation begins, get off your phone, make eye contact, and push aside any other thoughts running through your mind.

Reception: Be open to new subjects, topics that you don’t understand, and opinions different from your own. 

Engagement: Stick to the playbook, “I’ll talk, then you talk, then I’ll talk.” 

Understanding: After someone finishes what they’re saying, ask questions so that you are both on the same page and will walk away from the discussion fully aware of the conversation that took place.

Persistence: No matter how dull the conversation is, vow to stay present and in the moment. Do your best to resist falling deep into your own thoughts.

Resolution: When the conversation is over, devise a plan for your next steps. Have a to-do list ready with actionable steps to help you remember the conversation.

Emotions: Emotions play a significant role in why some people have a hard time recalling the purpose of a conversation. If the topic gets heated, your emotions take center stage, and your attention drifts from what the discussion is about. Politely excuse yourself if need be to recenter yourself for better success at recalling the information later.

Senses: Exhibiting body language, like smiling and nodding. This contributes to a more engaging, productive, and memorable conversation.

Ego: Be a humble human being and leave your ego at the table each time you enter a new conversation. Letting your ego get the best of you could cost you more than remembering what someone said.

Nerves: Are you feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed in a conversation? Do your best to relax and stay calm. You’ll be grateful you did when later on, you’re able to reconcile with your boss on a project you made a mistake on.

Tempo: Sync up with the speaker and continue the conversation at their pace. If you get held up on something they said, politely interrupt them and ask for clarification before they continue.

Other tricks to remember what people say

You can also remember the conversations you have by visualizing every necessary detail. Once you’ve mastered this technique, you can quickly scale up and retain more information. If you want to hold onto information for the long haul, ensure to write them down.

Let’s elaborate on these tricks!

Visualize everything you want to remember

Most times, you will be unable to make notes during a conversation. That’s where visualization comes in! Think of the key information as an image or situation in your mind.

You can also visualize it as a moving picture. Mental videos are easier to remember. However, the information will be in your temporary memory room.

To remember everything long-term, you must write them down as soon as possible. This way, you won’t need mental images and videos anymore. Writing down these things frees up your mind, creating space in your memory for when you need it again.

Mental images can last for a few hours. But many have been able to remember visualized information for several days. Visualizing key information during a conversation will improve your listening skills and ability to remember important details.

Practice Scaling

You already know how to memorize a few details when having a conversation. Now, you need to scale up. We deal with thousands of discussions every week and remembering everything can be challenging.

Practicing scaling is easy when you have already mastered the basics. Build your skills gradually. Once you can easily remember a few conversations, you can scale by converting a room into a memory box.

Choose any building or location globally. You must not be in a room to use it. When you think of the memory room you created, you’ll remember all the mental images and videos in the room.

It is an excellent way to remember the details of every meaningful conversation you have. If you’re looking to hang onto the details of your discussions for the long haul, you’ll do well to: 

  • Talk about the details of the conversation in your own words
  • Write down key information as soon as possible
  • Do follow-up reading

Reasons you can’t remember conversations

If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t remember conversations, the reason could be; 

  • stress
  • not getting enough sleep
  • getting too much sleep
  • multi-tasking
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • infections

To become a better listener, check these culprits to discover which one applies to you and how to avoid them.

1. You don’t get enough sleep

It’s difficult to process information or consolidate new memories when you’re sleep-deprived. Your daytime alertness significantly reduces when you miss as little as 90 minutes of sleep each night. In this situation, remembering things during a conversation won’t be easy.

You may feel the urge to take energy drinks to improve your alertness, but this can worsen things. While you will feel temporary relief, the effects can be severe in the long run.

2. You sleep too much

You need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night for optimal cognitive functioning. Anything longer can cause a dip in performance. Scientists have discovered that too much sleep each night can cause the brain to age faster.

3. You have nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can cause chronic physical and mental health issues. It could be because of your diet if you have difficulties remembering things you hear. Not eating a balanced diet can cause deficiencies of essential nutrients such as vitamin B12.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause memory issues. As we age, the ability to absorb vitamin B12 reduces, so older adults need supplements to prevent this deficiency. Also, when your body lacks magnesium, it could result in memory loss, insomnia, and concentration problems.

4. An infection

Sometimes, not remembering conversations could result from an infection such as Candida. This infection can occur due to poor diet, excessive antibiotic use, birth control pills, mercury toxicity, and excessive alcohol intake. 

Candida is a yeast found in the intestines and genital regions. When it gets out of control, Candida can enter the bloodstream and cause issues like forgetfulness. 

The infection is usually associated with other symptoms, including chronic fatigue syndrome, abdominal discomfort, flatulence, chronic yeast infections, brain fog, learning impairment, and frequent colds and flu.

5. Stress

Stress is one of the reasons you can’t remember conversations. According to research, prolonged stress can damage your memory. Creating short-term memories and turning them into long-term ones is difficult when you’re stressed.

People find learning more difficult when stressed. So, always manage stress if you want to be a better listener.

You can manage stress by exercising, practicing meditation, taking breaks, and getting enough sleep each night. Don’t forget to eat well, drink plenty of water, and participate in activities that make you happy.

6. Multi-tasking

People often multi-task when trying to do more in a short period. But the brain does not function at its peak when we multi-task. Your brain cannot handle two tasks simultaneously.

It switches from one task to the other, making you less attentive during conversations. People who multi-task when discussing are less likely to remember what they heard later. Avoid multitasking and concentrate on one thing at a time.


Listening is a sign of respect, and those who can recall minor details of conversations thrive in school or at work. No matter where you are in life, you will benefit from perfecting your listening skills.

You can remember conversations by using the acronym ARE U PRESENT. It will help you navigate better when discussing. Many have also improved their communication skills by taking online courses. 

Iris Reading’s How To Talk To Anyone To Advance Your Career online course is perfect to improve your communication, networking & social skills. It will help you find the job you love and reduce anxiety around social situations.

Learn how to remember everything with our Advanced Comprehension & Memory course!

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