This whole podcast is nuts, let me first say... every guest is WAY charged up about some kind of health craze, like trying to drink the right mushroom coffee to live to 180 years old - we'll see won't we - or in the case of memory, winning pi digits memorization contests, memorizing a deck of cards in 30 seconds, they train for it like a pro sport. speed reading, supercharged sleep, fitness, too much talk about supplements, it's just weird, but I kind of can't stop listening.
Anyway I checked out this book because a few years ago I made a new years resolution to remember people's names in meetings, and I'm better, but not perfect... I was just tired of being embarrassed at work seeing a guy, not knowing his name, but knowing that we're all in the 9am thursday schedule review or whatever so I literally see him every week for MONTHS. And when you've gone that far it is really embarrassing to ask someone's name! This book has a lot about remembering everything, but I'm going to blog here about names because I think this is important.
I had been writing them down, and that helps. Sometimes in a meeting people go around and do introductions, I started paying attention. Turns out that's a good first step - your brain definitely cannot remember anything that you zoned out entirely for. We forget our keys when we mindlessly throw them in an odd place, we forget names when we don't care to hear them.
Step 2, from the book, is to make links in your memory. Stare at the person's face, find an interesting attribute... forehead texture, wrinkle, facial hair, dimple, then link it to a word. I met a Justin with beard chops that remind me of the judge (Justice) from Idiocracy. Erika at a party who's high heals would make me ERROR because they look hard to walk in... this is cheating I realize, using clothes, the book says to use faces, but I figure at a party I might not see these people again so clothes would work for the night, maybe?
Last night I was at a party and it was so much more fun playing these name games with myself. I was more interested in the people too - I remembered which ones made an effort to introduce themselves and talk to me, I wanted to talk to them. My memory started crapping out as the night went on. Or if I met more than two people at once, I had trouble keeping track because I couldn't invent links that fast... I don't have words for every name. But I can TOTALLY see how if I was well practiced in this I'd get better at it.
Brandon looked like his clothes were good brands. Alex had altitude, he was tall. Elise was wearing leggings that showed off her knees.
And the whole time, if I was between conversations, I'd be scanning the room quizzing myself to see who I still remembered, then I'd go talk to someone because it was easier to approach them feeling like we already had that connection. I had a much more enjoyable party experience and was really happy I went out.
It could be tough at work... people look so similar! I constantly find myself in rooms full of 50 year old white men... with SIMILAR names even, three named Tom, four named John, five named Mike. I could put all the Mikes in one category somehow, then try to remember last names, which is its own new trick, the book helps because again it's all about making up similar words but it's work!
I'll keep at it, and report back next year, as a memory champion. Right? No. But I'll be better!