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What's in A Name- Why Are They Difficult to Remember?

Updated on January 4, 2018
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Writing is my passion. I believe in the power of positive thoughts and love to watch movies.


How our mind remembers important dates?

Have you ever wondered how our mind works? Why it so happens that some things are imprinted in our memory for years while we fail to recall that happened a few days or a few weeks back. The way our memory works is a complex and fascinating process. For example, when we think of any object, such as a phone, we imagine the shape or how a phone looks like in our minds. But the process of our brain coagulating different parts of the phone and making it a complete entity happens in different regions of the brain.

Different zones of The Brain


Also, if we take the example or riding a car, the driver after some years of expertise can easily drive and makes many moves involuntarily- like applying the brakes or when to take a turn. It seems as if it has been tuned into his mind. We can easily find out our belongings in our home even though its dark. This is because it has been preserved in the memory. The process of memory begins with encoding, then proceeds to storage and, eventually, retrieval.

Why it is difficult to remember names?

How many times has it happened to you that you meet someone at a party, but when you run into the same person a few days later at the mall or grocery store you don’t remember their names? And however hard you try to recall the names, it just won’t pop up into your mind.

It has also been seen in studies that people tend to remember another person’s hobbies, where they live, and their job details better than their name. We generally associate people with something that we already know. For example, I once met a girl in a party who lived near a restaurant I frequently visit. We had chatted a lot about the amazing food their and the ambience. But few days later when I was trying to talk to the friend at whose party I had met this girl, I could barely remember her name. After describing her and telling her home location, my friend told me her name. Funny, isn’t it? How our mind can easily remember the type of clothes a person wore, height, hairstyle (at most times), but not the name. It would have happened to all of us at some time or the other when we face these type of circumstances. So, no need to fret, when it can happen to the best of us, it can happen to us too.

It has also been seen that it is difficult to remember common names. For example, John or George are quite common names. What makes it more difficult are the same surnames. You keep wondering, the person I met the other day was John Muller or John Smith?

Our brain has two types of memories- short-term and long term. The long term memory can keeps facts for several years, maybe even a lifetime. These are the instances which are very dear to us, for example, our marriage, our kids, our parents, our first home, first salary, etc. It’s the short term memory that keeps fading away rapidly. The new people we meet on a day-to-day basis, work, studies, etc. The short-term memory works like a flask. The more you put in it, it is bound to leak. It should be worked on if we want to move the details to long term memory. Hence, it is said that the more you revise a particular matter in studies, the more likely you are to remember it in the exams.

Why it is Important to Remember Names?

Let’s imagine a situation where you meet a person you admire and they smile at you and ask about your well-being. You will feel happy definitely. Now imagine the same situation wherein the person concerned addresses you by your name and asks about your well-being. You will not only be happy, but feel elated, isn’t it?

Our names have a profound impact on us. It is something which we hold very dear, it’s our identity. So definitely, when people give importance to something which we hold dear, it has a positive impact on us. We feel special.

How to remember people’s Names?

When you are meeting someone for the first time, instead of hurrying through the introduction, its better to catch on their names when they say it. Let’s assume you met someone called Blake. While introducing yourself, you can say “It was nice meeting you, Blake. I am (your name)”.

It is always better to ask the person to repeat their name if you couldn’t hear them the first time. It also helps to ask them to spell it out (mostly for foreign names which you are not used to).

There is also one more trick to make your brain register people’s names. You can ask them what their names mean. This not only makes the other person feel happy because you are paying attention, but they would like to talk about themselves.

Sometimes, we tend to forget things as we are not paying attention. So it is advisable to keep your mind in focus if you are meeting someone important.

It takes time and practice to culture the art of remembering names. With some patience and practise, you will definitely be able to remember names with ease.


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      Saswati 6 weeks ago from India

      Thank you

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      Ashok kumar Dash 6 weeks ago

      Nice article by Saswati. It has touched the psychological aspect related to memorising little things we come across in our daily life.