I recognize your face, but I forget your name

If you’re anything like me you tend to be pretty horrible with names. Part of the reason I’m so bad with names is because of the sheer number of people I meet on any given day. Say I teach a full day in a high school in which the average class size is 25. With 3 periods, I meet 75 students. In addition, I will meet at least 1 or 2 secretaries in the office when I sign in, as well as anywhere from 1-20+ additional teachers, admin and school staff.

Add in that I’m often in at least 2-3 different schools a week, if not a different one each day – sometimes even 2 in a single day. Then add that I have worked in my hometown in various camps for 8 years, as well as having been a soccer referee and volunteer in various capacities with schools. Then add in meeting people in the other 4 part time jobs I’ve had since September that have finished. Then add in meeting people through friends at various social functions. Then add in years of playing various sports at a competitive level. Add in all the time I’ve spent in school – with 13 years for K-12, preschool before that even, followed by 4 years of undergrad (1 year of that overseas) and 1 year to get my teaching degree.

What I’m getting at here is I’ve met a ton of people and I continue to meet hundreds of people every week, by sheer virtue of my jobs. I run into people I’ve met before and often cannot even place where I’ve seen them – especially if I’m seeing them in a totally different context from where I met them. To top it off – I come across as very recognizable to most people and apparently am quite memorable in terms of personality and appearance. That means more people remember me than I remember them. It’s incredibly awkward. If I’m lucky in these situations, I can at least register that I recognize the person’s face. Often though – I can’t even do that. Faces start to blend after awhile in my memory.

To further complicate matters is my inability to remember certain names. I’m better at names than I usually let on – simply because I will often get mental blocks on specific names. Usually it’s a name that is just not particularly common – if I have difficulty saying it, I’ll often have difficulty remembering it. I also have a tendency to re-name people in my head if I don’t think their name suits them. This tends to happen more if  I meet someone when I’ve been drinking though.

So what are some good tricks for remembering names? I’m quite fond of repeating a name to myself right after being introduced to someone. If I can attribute something specific to that person I will also be more likely to remember their name. When I was on my exchange, I would be able to remember other exchange students based on their country of origin. And sometimes I just try to bluff it out so that the other person doesn’t catch on that I have absolutely no idea who they are.

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About Miss Substitute Teacher

Working as a substitute teacher. Kids really do say the darnedest things!
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2 Responses to I recognize your face, but I forget your name

  1. sychela says:

    I’m also terrible at names. I am constantly playing that game where you try to get through a conversation, and then figure out the person’s name afterwards. I think I just need to pay more attention when they introduce themselves though.

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