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Bad with faces and names?

Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
edited November 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I've had a bit of a google and I can't turn anything interesting up so I thought I'd ask here. I have a terrible memory for faces and names, it's getting REALLY embarassing at work. I've worked on a floor of 30-odd people for around a year and a half now, 5 days a week and I can't remember more than a few names :)

I'll get in the lift at the start of the day and someone else will come in too, I'll push the button for my floor and ask them "Which floor for you?". They'll just look kind of funny at me and say "Same as you.". I usually laugh it off and say it's early but I honestly can't recognise them!

It's not just at work either, I have real problems remembering people! I've tried a fair few memory exercises which are supposed to help, but none really have. I've made a REAL effort to try and remember names and faces but they still slip out.

I went to see The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus the other week and I honestly couldn't tell when Heath Ledger's character was played by other people. They just didn't look different to me. Same happens with all other film stars, my fiancee and seemingly all my friends can identify celebrities in a film but I can't, no matter how famous and how many times I've seen them before. I could look at a picture of Brad Pitt, or Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie or any other celeb (not that I'm much in to celebs, which I guess doesn't help) and I just can't associate the face with a name, and nine times out of ten the face doesn't even register as one I recognise.

This is hardly a life or death problem but does anyone know quite why my memory for names and faces is so bad? It's awkward when meeting new people. Any suggestions to fix it?

Mr_Grinch on
Steam: Sir_Grinch
PSN: SirGrinchX
Xbox Live: SirGrinch X

Posts

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Do you look people in the eyes when you talk to them? Are you sure? Can you look for any distinguishable traits?
    The only way to be great with names is to use them often. It's going to be more difficult if you've worked there long enough you're expected to know everyone, but the more you mention someones name in conversation, "Hi Maria", the easier it'll get.

    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'm usually bad at remembering names and faces when I first meet someone just because I'm focused on something else and not really paying attention, like going, "oh shit, handshake, okay" and forgetting that they just told me their name. I have better luck if I focus on their name when they tell me.

    But if you can't recognize actors in movies, that might be a bigger problem than focus. I think there is an actual medical condition associated with that, I just can't think of it.

    camo_sig2.png
  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem Six pack on a dick Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    This is actually a diagnosed disorder, known as "face blindness".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia

    h1DI1.jpg
    All my fuckin life I lived a normal fuckin life
  • rnbgururnbguru Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Aye, Improv has the right idea with names it often comes from just repetition. I found if I don't say a person's name a lot in that first conversation, I will forget it almost immediately.

    As for faces, my best recommendation is to try and think of funny nuances about the coworkers on your floor. If you have a company directory, look at the pictures for your floor mates and find things about them that are off or come up with little connections for them.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'm great with names and faces but I rarely use people's names when I talk to them. Part of it is how I'm wired; I just remember. Another part of it is spending time on social sites like Facebook. That's how I keep up with new friends and remember what people look like, as long as they actually use the site -- they end up posting pictures, or have a profile pic, that looks like them. And I see their picture right next to their name.

    It's been a great help for people I don't see that often (like distant cousins), and for friends, they typically post up pictures at parties or get togethers where people are tagged, so in some cases people that I only see once I can remember easily.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • ueanuean Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Yes. Your best bet is e-stalking.

    Guys? Hay guys?
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  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem Six pack on a dick Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    You can use other context clues too, or at least try. Look at rings or jewelry they wear, briefcases or bags they carry. Hairstyles even.

    h1DI1.jpg
    All my fuckin life I lived a normal fuckin life
  • Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Cheers guys! All handy advice, I'll try putting some of it in to practice in the office.

    Though asking people their names after working with them for a year may be difficult :D

    As for "Face Blindness", some parts of that sum me up quite nicely. If I was still single it could make a great opening line.

    Steam: Sir_Grinch
    PSN: SirGrinchX
    Xbox Live: SirGrinch X
  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    For work people, you should just own up to it. Say you're terrible with names and faces and you're trying to get better, and get their name. Some of them might be dicks about it (doing stuff like reminding you every time you see them, although that can actually work) but it will get the awkward "who are you?" thing out of the way.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • exmelloexmello Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I feel for ya. I'm not quite as bad but I'm almost the same way. If I see people out of context I might have a vague feeling of familiarity, but there's no way I will remember their name. Same with a lot of actors. I could sit with an A list celeb on a plane and have no idea.

    One thing that helps me is trying to remember their FULL name. Sometimes the rhythm of the two words together will trigger something and it will just pop out.

    These are the type of people who get to Google by Googling "Google"
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'm the same way; at the extreme, there are people I lived on the same floor as and interacted socially with for a whole year whose name I can't recall, and as far as everyone else goes, I don't even bother trying to memorize their name/face anymore because I know I won't be able to remember it no matter what. After I've learned someone's name for the fourth or fifth time it has a chance of sticking, especially if I'm around them often.

    I don't have a fix, though. My way of dealing with it is just to not address anyone by name (because, well, I can't). If you can come up with some legitimate reason to have everyone wear nametags, that fixes it :p

  • Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I'm the same way; at the extreme, there are people I lived on the same floor as and interacted socially with for a whole year whose name I can't recall, and as far as everyone else goes, I don't even bother trying to memorize their name/face anymore because I know I won't be able to remember it no matter what. After I've learned someone's name for the fourth or fifth time it has a chance of sticking, especially if I'm around them often.

    I don't have a fix, though. My way of dealing with it is just to not address anyone by name (because, well, I can't). If you can come up with some legitimate reason to have everyone wear nametags, that fixes it :p

    Well, it's mandatory at work now, which is a good thing but I've had some funny looks from the women who wear their name badge on their chest.

    Steam: Sir_Grinch
    PSN: SirGrinchX
    Xbox Live: SirGrinch X
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    First proper job I had after graduation had an awesome intranet address book with colour photos and organisational trees. Made life so much easier in a big company. Sadly no employer since seems to have bothered investing in a similar programme

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • lifeincognitolifeincognito Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    This is actually a diagnosed disorder, known as "face blindness".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia

    If this really is what you have, and I'd imagine so because you sound like a bright person who has tried to overcome this obstacle, no amount of stalking images will probably help because you aren't wired to remember faces.

    As such, I suggest explaining to your co-workers your troubles and asking to get samples of their normal speaking voices, if possible. Your eyes and brain may not be able to link a face and name because you have no face to link it with, but I bet your ears will do you wonders. And then they only need to greet you first or you need to hear them talking and bang you should be set.

    Of course not everyone has a distinctive voice, but it may better server you than starring at photos or memorizing eye colors, handedness, facial features, etc.

    Whatever you do, best of luck. I myself have a terrible time with names, if something works wonders for you please pass it along.

    losers weepers. jawas keepers.
  • Local H JayLocal H Jay Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    sometimes i use the old " i was talking to (mutual coworker) and we were talking about how you spelled your name, how do you spell it?"
    this sometimes works but they can respond with "an S" which is unhelpful or they say "bill..." and give you the stink eye

    i have the same problem you do though, shit memory for names

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  • blizzard224blizzard224 Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Fuck I get this bad sometimes. I am at uni as well as working in a department store, and I swear to god most people's names just go in one ear and out the other. Occasionally a name will stick, but it often takes 6 or 7 meetings before I can actually remember a name. I try justifying myself, convincing myself that it's not rude, but really, it damn well is. It's extremely impersonal to not remember someones name, and it has a lot of implication in just not giving a damn about them.

    After the 5th time of being referred to as "man"or whatever, most people start to catch on that I have no idea what their name is. One bloke named Nick at my work, I would talk to this guy every shift and after almost a month it was getting ridiculous , escpecially the fact that I overheard his name quite a few times, and I remembered this, but not what the actual fucking name was. Long story short, one day I had overheard his name in the corridor again, and when I saw him on the floor I greeted him as such. He commented that, before this, he was sure I didn't know his name. Cue awkward laughter. :P

    I do actually have a tip for you by the way. When you hear a name, imagine it, written down, right above their face at the time - personally I find it even more effective when I "write" it in a foreign language - I do Japanese myself usually. It's all about getting it out of Short Term Store and into the Long Term memory by doing some cognition in transferring their verbal name into text, and then creating a good recall cue by attaching their face to it.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Mr_Grinch wrote: »
    I'm the same way; at the extreme, there are people I lived on the same floor as and interacted socially with for a whole year whose name I can't recall, and as far as everyone else goes, I don't even bother trying to memorize their name/face anymore because I know I won't be able to remember it no matter what. After I've learned someone's name for the fourth or fifth time it has a chance of sticking, especially if I'm around them often.

    I don't have a fix, though. My way of dealing with it is just to not address anyone by name (because, well, I can't). If you can come up with some legitimate reason to have everyone wear nametags, that fixes it :p

    Well, it's mandatory at work now, which is a good thing but I've had some funny looks from the women who wear their name badge on their chest.

    Well your problem is half solved them, but still remember to use their names repeatedly in conversation, otherwise as soon as the name-tag crutch is gone you'll fall flat on your face again.

    It really is a case of the more you use the names the more you will remember them. That's how all memory works. Best if you're face to face with them as then you start to solidify the link between the name and the face in your brain. It's also a huge social-booster. People love hearing their name spoken out loud and - so long as you don't do it to creepy excess - it will actually create more solid social bonds between you and your coworkers as well. It makes you appear more personable and makes them feel more important when you speak to them and you'll become that guy who remembers their name, which in a big office environment is often enough of a compliment to them for them to consider you one of their best 'at work' friends.

  • DHS OdiumDHS Odium Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    To the OP, definitely sounds like a real condition. I suggest you just explain as such whenever you meet someone or speak to others who you don't remember. I recommend staying away from the line "All you people look the same to me." though, as that could be awkward.

    Myself, I have eidetic memory (photographic), yet, I'm still bad with names. Not celebrities though, it's weird. I remember faces perfectly - so I don't ever forget someone, I'll always recognize someone and where we've met before, I just had a hard time remembering their name. With actors though, you can name a movie that I've seen, or even heard about, and I can name all the actors. Some new actor I've only seen in one movie? I know their name.

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  • illigillig Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    when i start at a new place i make a list in the back of the notebook... i make it personal (and embarassing, so i don't let anyone see it), but i connect the name with the most memorable thing about that person... usually negative for some reason :D

    john = white older dude, horrible comb-over
    jessica = white chick, ginormous rack, dirty blond hair
    asish = indian, big gut

    works like a charm b/c i tend to notice the same thing about people whenever i see them... but i think i'd get fired if someone ever saw it <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

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