remembering names

in «Blogging & Personal» by mostafa

Warning! This post is very old and may contain information or opinions that are no longer valid or embarrassing.

There is a big chance that I will not remember your name. You will tell me your name tomorrow, next day I will forget it. The weird thing is, if it is a totally alien name that comes from a different culture and easy to pronounce. I will remember it for several years.

My biology teacher in school, she happens to be a doctor, had the same problem. She only remembered few names in class. Her reason was, she was taught huge amount of nouns and words in medical school to the extent that her head became saturated with them. Her memory centers refuses to accept more names.

But I don't quite think that this is true. Lots of my colleagues just remember my name with only one introduction. My name sticks in their heads. Each morning, I am greeted by my name from all the familiar unnamed faces I know. And my response is a very generic greeting. I try to be quite inventive and choose different greetings, so as to appear as witty as possible.

''Ezayak ya basha, beih, fandem, prince, helwa, bob, ostaz, rayes etc..''

So each morning I pick one for each unnamed familiar face and use it.

Trouble is my job deals with people, so I have to memorize names of patients. As for day to day interaction with patients, I write them down. There is no problem with that. I don't use the generic greetings here if I forgot the name, I ask the patient again. When I repeat this more than twice, the patient usually smiles and repeats it and asks me not to forget it. It usually sticks this time. But it is very embarrassing.

I lied in several social situations, saying that "I have a memory association problem with names and faces." Things get very embarrassing at times. I had lots of trouble with my oral exams in medical schools when a professor asks me "who taught you so and so in the lectures ?" I don't remember of course, which the professor interprets that I didn't not attend or I was not in touch with the faculty. Several times I leave the exam forgetting the names of the examiners too.

To some extent I forget names of artists, authors, celebrities, etc.. But this is probably another problem and is not a priority.

Trying to find a solution, I googled. And found lots of helpful tips. Here is a quick summary of the methods people suggest and claim that they work. Since I am lazy, anything that would take a considerable amount of energy and work will be omitted. They might be very effective and useful, but I will omit them.


  • Maintain good eye contact. In the fleeting moments of being introduced to someone. Focus ya habibi focus on the subject. Don't just smile and look for the next person to be introduced to. Introductions are very important, make them as slow as possible and repeat the names,
  • Few minutes later repeat the name. Or ask for it again if you forgot it,
  • Repeat them silently,
  • Use mnemonic devices,
  • Imagine funny things and associate them with names and faces,
  • When leaving mention the names again.

Well, hope this works. But trouble is I will probably forget to do those simple steps and will still forget your name.