Have We Met Before?

My memory retention for names and faces is bad, to say the least. Too often, meeting a person, I’d have no idea if I met that person before. What’s worst is my recollection of names. Eight out of ten times I’ll have it completely wrong; and when I say wrong, I mean, I won’t get even one syllable right.

me: “Oh, how’s Elinor is doing”
her: “who??”
me: “Elinor, who went to school with you”
her: “You mean Sharon”
me: “Oh right…”

The best I can do with names, is to log them as soon as I can. Yet, I’m rarely able to retrieve them in time.

As for faces, though, I came up with simple hack. When I’m not sure if I met that person before – always assume that I had. And so I’ll say something like “I believe we met before…?”

This is a probabilistic bet, with the following possible outcomes:

1. We actually didn’t meet before – a mistake, but not a big one.

2. We did meet and he does remember – win!

3. We did meet but she doesn’t remember – bigger win!

Based on the expected return, it’s clear that if in doubt, the “we met before” strategy is the safest one.

I wish I had better ways to retain that type of information. I would love spending my thinking time on more productive things…