Tuesday, December 26, 2006
MEMORY SYSTEM FOR NAMES AND FACES
Remembering names and faces is one of the most importantaspects in our lives, and one of the most difficult!In every walk of life, every level of occupation, and everysocial situation, there are literally millions of people who saythey 'just can't remember' the people they meet.In business and the professions this can be most embarrass-ing. Ifyou are at a conference, attending a course, or involvedin any situation in which you are meeting new people, it is notonly embarrassing to be unable to remember the names andfaces ofthose who are with you, it can also be a serious handi-cap when you meet them again. Even should you not haveoccasion to meet them again, the ability to remember namesand faces without seeing them may be useful when you are'mentally thumbing through' people who might be of assist-ance to you.In a social setting, the inability to remember the names andfaces of people you meet is a discomforting and unpleasantexperience. Many people devise little tricks and methods forevading the issue!One of the favourites is to ask for the person's name, andwhen he replies with his Christian name to say 'Oh, I knewthat! it was your surname I had difficulty remembering', andofcourse ifhe replies with his surname 'Oh I knew that! it wasyour Christian name I had difficulty remembering'! Thedisadvantages of this little technique are two-fold: Even if itworks you have had to admit that at least in part you hadforgotten his name; and secondly, many people reply immed-iately with both their Christian and surnames!Another device commonly used by people who have forgot-ten a name is to say something like 'Oh, I am sorry, but howwas it that you spelled your name?' This ofcourse can work insituations where a person has a name like Pattlesserie Zhytni-ewski! But when theretort is a sarcastic 'J-O-H-N S-M-I-T-H'you can be made to look a little silly!These tricks are nothing more than tricks, and apart fromthe obvious pitfalls I have mentioned they inevitably leave theperson who is using them in an insecure and uncomfortableposition. Aware of his inadequacy, he tends to be afraid thathis tricks won't work or that he will be placed in a situationwhere they will be inappropriate and his poor memory will beon full view! Tricks, then, are not enough.At the other end ofthe scale from the person who 'just can'tremember' names and faces, is that well-known person whoalways does remember. At school it might have been a particu-lar teacher (or the headmaster!); at university a well-knownprofessor, and in business a successful manager. Whatever thesituation I am sure you will confirm the fact that the personwas socially confident, generally successful, and almostcertainly well-known.I remember well the first class I ever attended at university.It was an eight-in-the-morning English lecture, and theexcitement of the first day and the first class had not quitemanaged to shake off the sleepiness from most of the students.Our professor had! He strode into the room with no brief-case and no books, stood in front of the class, announced hisname, and then said he would call the attendance. He startedalphabetically, listing off names such as Abrahamson, Adams,Ardlett, and Bush, in response to which he got the usualmumbled 'Yes, sir' and 'Here, sir'. When he came to Cartland,however, there was no reply. He paused for a moment andthen said 'Mr. John Cartland'. To which there was still noreply. Without change of expression he then said 'Mr. JohnW. P. Cartland?' and proceeded to list the boy's birthday,address, and telephone number! There was still no reply soour professor (who by this time had thoroughly awakened theclass!) carried on with the remaining names. Each time hearrived at the name of a person who was absent he called outthat persons initials, birthday, address and telephone number!When he had completed the roster and everyone sat withjaws hanging open, he repeated very rapidly the names of allthe students who were absent and said, with a wry smile on hisface, 'I'll make a note of them some time!'He never forgot one of us, either!From that day on he became a legend, for none ofus couldimagine or hope to compete with the brilliance of a mind thatcould so completely and perfectly remember names and dates.We were, of course, mistaken. Using the proper memorysystem, the kind of performance that our professor gave is byno means an impossibility, and is in fact quite simple.In this chapter I shall introduce you to the systems andtechniques that make remembering of names, faces andrelated facts a relatively simple and certainly a rewarding task.Before getting down to the specific methodology, there area few rules that should be observed, even when one is notusing special memory systems. These rules or pointers applymostly to situations in which you are meeting new people. Thepointers rely on one ofthe most important factors in memory:Repetition.When you are introduced to somebody first make sure youlisten. Many people actually 'turn off' when they are intro-duced to people and haven't the faintest idea what the name ofthe person is to whom they have just been introduced!Second, request that the name be repeated even if you haveheard it. Most people tend to mumble introductions and evenif an introduction is clear no one will be disturbed if you askfor a repetition.Third, repeat the name when you have been given it thesecond time. Rather than saying simply 'how do you do?' addthe name to the end of your greeting: 'how do you do, Mr.Rosenthal'.Fourth, if the name is at all difficult, politely ask for thespelling.Fifth, if the situation seems to warrant it ask the personsomething about the background and history of his name.Contrary to what you might expect most people will beflattered by your interest, and pleased that you have taken thetrouble to enquire about their name and remember it.Carrying the principles of repetition and involvementfurther, make sure that during conversations with people younewly meet you repeat the name wherever possible. Thisrepetition helps to implant the name more firmly in yourmemory, and is also socially more rewarding, for it involves theother person more intimately in the conversation. It is farmore satisfying to hear you say 'yes, as Mr. Jones has just said...' than to hear you say 'yes, as this chap over here as justsaid...'!And finally ofcourse when you are taking leave ofthose youhave met make sure you say, rather than just an impersonalfarewell, 'good evening, Mr. Jones'.These aids to memory are, as I mentioned, useful to theperson who is not using memory systems as well as one who is,although they are naturally far more beneficial to the latter,because he has additional 'artillery' which he can use to backhimself up. Without further ado, let us learn the system forremembering faces and names.To begin with, we must become far more observant of thefaces we wish to remember! Many people, especially those whohave a poor memory for names and faces, have great difficultyin remembering how one face differs from another, and find italmost impossible to describe the individual characteristics offaces. Our first task then is to become more observant.To aid you in this the next few pages will give you a 'guidedtour' from the top of the head to the tip of the chin, enumer-ating the various characteristics and the ways in which theycan be classified and typified. You may well be surprised atjust how varied faces can be!HEAD AND FACIAL CHARACTERISTICS1. The HeadUsually you willfirst-meet a person face-on, so before deal-ing with the run-down of separate characteristics we willconsider the head as a whole. Look for the general shape oftheentire bone structure. You will find that this can be:a. Largeb. Mediumc. SmallAnd that within these three categories the following shapescan be found:a. squareb. rectangularc. roundd. ovale. triangular, with the base at the chin andthe point at the scalpf. triangular with the base and the scalp andthe point at the ching. broadh. narrowi. big-bonedj.fine-bonedYou may, fairly early in your meeting, see the head from theside and will be surprised at how many different shapes headsseen from this view can take:a. squareb. rectangularc. ovald. broade. narrowf. roundg. flat at the fronth. flat on topi. flat at the backj. domed at the backk. face angled with jutting chin and slantedforehead1. face angled with receding chin and prominentforehead2. The HairIn earlier days, when hairstyles used to be more consistentand lasting, hair served as a better memory hook than it doesnow. The advent of dyes, sprays, wigs, and almost infinitelyvaried styles makes identification by this feature a somewhattricky business! Some of the more basic characteristics,however, can be listed as follows:Mena. thickb. finec. wavyd. straighte. partedf. recedingg. baldh. croppedi. mediumj. longk. frizzy1. colour (only in notable cases)Womena. thickb. thinc. fineBecause of the variability in women's hairstyles it is notadvisable to try to remember them from this characteristic!3. ForeheadForeheads can be generally divided into the followingcategories:a. highb. widec. narrow between hairline and eyebrowsd. narrow between temple and templee. smoothf. lined horizontallyg. lined vertically4.Eyebrowsa. thickb. thinc. longd. shorte. meeting at the middlef. spaced apartg. flath. archedi. wingedj. tapered5. Eyelashesa. thickb. thinc. longd. shorte. curledf. straight6. Eyesa. largeb. smallc. protrudingd. deep-seatede. close togetherf. spaced apartg. slanted outwardsh. slanted inwardsi. colouredj. iris—entire circle seenk. iris—circle covered partly by upper and/orlower lidAttention may also be paid in some cases to the lid aboveand the bag below the eye, both ofwhich can be large or small,smooth or wrinkled, and puffy or firm.7. The NoseWhen seen from the front:a. largeb. smallc. narrowd. mediume. wideWhen seen from the side:a. straightb. flatc. pointedd. blunte. snub or upturnedf. Roman or aquilineg. Greek, forming straight line with foreheadh. concave (caved in)The base of the nose can also vary considerably in relationto the nostrils:a. lowerb. levelc. a little higherThe nostrils themselves can also vary:a. straightb. curved downc. flaringd. widee. narrowf. hairy8. CheekbonesCheekbones are often linked very closely with the character-istics of the face when seen front-on, but the following threecharacteristics may often be worth noting:a. highb. prominentc. obscured9. EarsEars are a part of the face that few people pay attention to,and yet their individuality can be greater than any otherfeature. They may be:a. largeb. smallc. gnarledd. smoothe. roundf. oblongg. triangularh. flat against the headi. protrudingj. hairyk. large lobed1. no lobeThis feature is of course more appropriate as a memoryhook with men than with women, because the latter usuallycover their ears with hair.10. Lipsa. Long upper lipb. short upper lipc. smalld. thick (bee-stung)e. widef. thing. upturnedh. downturnedi. Cupid's bow (U Thant)j. well-shapedk. ill-defined11.ChinWhen seen straight on the chin may be:a. longb. shortc. pointedd. squaree. roundf. double (or multiple)g. cleft,h. dimpledWhen seen from the side it will be either:a. juttingb. straightc. receding12. SkinFinally the skin should be observed. It may be:a. smoothb. roughc. darkd. faire. blemished or marked in some wayf. oilyg. dryh. blotchyi. doughyj. wrinkledk. furrowedOther characteristics of faces, specially men's, include thevarious and varied growth of facial hair ranging from shortsideburns to the full-blooded and face-concealing beard withmoustache. There is no point in listing all the variations. Itshould suffice to note that these hirsute phenomena do exist,but that they, like hairstyles and colours, can change dramatic-ally overnight!Having acquired all this information about the face, how dowe make use of it? You may be surprised to learn that theanswer is contained in the earlier chapters ofthe book! To putit briefly all that we have to do is the following:1. Make a definite note of the name of the person.2. Examine his face very carefully noting the characteristicsthat have been enumerated in the preceding pages.3. Look for characteristics which are unusual, extra-ordinary, or unique.4. Mentally reconstruct the person's face, exaggerating inthe way that a caricaturist does these noteworthy features.5. Link, using exaggeration and movement etc, where possi-ble, these outstanding features to the name of the person.The best way for you to learn the application of thesemethods is to practise them, so following I have doubled thenumber of faces and names you were asked to remember inyour original test, have given suggestions for linking them,and then have rearranged the faces without names for you totest your new skills.'An impossible task!' you might say. But before you actuallytest yourself on these names let's look at each person separ-ately to see what kind ofassociations we can make between theface and the name.Mrs. Ruff. Mrs. Ruffhas a fairly distinct hairstyle which it isunlikely that a woman such as she would change. It doesn'ttake much imagination to change her hair into an Elizabethanruff—the frilled neck collar common to that age.Mr. Hind has enormous jowls! As a matter offact they looka little bit like a person's posterior! BeHind!Mr. Pickett. The outstanding feature of Mr. Pickett's faceis it's overall rectangular quality and its straight neck. Animage can conveniently be made using the type of placardthat people on strike who are picketing their employers carry.To make the image more complete, you might even imaginethe word 'picket' being written on the placard.Mr. Rolls is perhaps one of the easiest. His triple chinbulging in rolls beneath his face makes no other image neces-sary.Miss Shute. Attractive though she may be, Miss Shute hasone of those characteristically in-curved noses, a little similarMrs. Ruff Mr. HindMr. Pickett Mr. Rolls Miss Shute Mr SawyerMrs. Knapp Mr. CallisMr. Marshall Miss HammantMr. Dockerill Mrs. NashMr. Swallow Mrs. CirkellMr. Lynch Mrs. PaukowskiMr. Fieldwick Mr. RayMiss Sherriton Mr. NewellMrs. Carstair Mr. DombrowerMrs. Heyburn Miss Jazcoltto a certain famous comedian. We can exaggerate this variouslyimagining a giant coal-chute, or a fairground shoot-the-chute.Mr. Sawyer. The outstanding characteristic on this man'sface is his large, straight and shaggy eyebrow. With a quickmental twist we convert this into a large saw, the shaggysections of the eyebrow representing the teeth of the saw.Mrs. Knapp. Mrs. Knapp is noticeable for the fairly largebags beneath her eyes. Concentrate on this aspect and imaginethat these were caused by a lack of sleep. In other words theymight go away if she were more often able to take a nap.Mr. Marshall. Fairly obviously Mr. Marshall would benoticed for his large protruding ears. To link them with hisname is not as difficult as it might appear: Imagine that eachear is a gun holster!Mr. Callis. A number of features might be picked for Mr.Callis, but probably the best is his rough pock-marked skin.Our link here is the word 'callous', which refers to a hardenedor rough area on the body's surface.Miss Hammant. Two features should immediately strike youabout Miss Hammant. First her beefy, strong face, and secondher rather small nose. The caricature is easy: make the beefinto a large ham; make the small nose into an ant crawling overthe ham.Mr. Dockerill. Mr Dockerill is slightly more difficult thanMiss Hammant, but he is not impossible! To begin with he isa large man, which fits in with the general impression of adocker. Add to this his large eyes (like harbours !) and the firstpart of his name—Docker—is easily remembered. Furthermore he does look a little run down, many of his featurestending to either droop or sag. We thus arrive at 'ill' and thecomplete Dockerill.Mrs. Nash. One ofthe most noticeable characteristics ofMrs.Nash is her upper lip which is drawn back, leaving her upperfront teeth slightly uncovered. To remember her name weconcentrate on the teeth rather than on the lip, thinking ofthegnashing ofteeth.Mr. Swallow. Mr. Swallow is an ideal subject! For thosepeople to whom the word swallow immediately brings to mindimages ofeating or drinking he has a prominent adam's applewhich can be exaggerated with ease. For those who are moreinclined to ornithology his fine arched eyebrows look verymuch like a swallow in flight!Mrs. Cirkell. Again an easy one! With this face we need notbe concerned with particular characteristics—simply theoverall shape which is circular circle—Cirkell.Mr. Lynch. In remembering Mr. Lynch let us try a differentapproach. We will think first of a lynching, realising that itconcentrates on the neck! Next we will link this image with ourman. Mr. Lynch has a particularly thick neck so we imagine anespecially strong rope being needed to complete the job!Mrs. Paukowski. Of Mrs. Paukowski's major features, oneof the most outstanding is her large, sloping forehead. Toremember her name we convert this into an enormous ski-slope, and imagine (here we have to get really ridiculous, whichis good!) a poverty striken cow skiing or attempting to skidown the slope: poor-cow-ski!Mr. Fieldwick. Another person whose memory-feature isto be the forehead. Mr. Fieldwick's forehead is noticeable notfor its size or shape, but for the wrinkles and creases uponit. Imagine it therefore as a ploughed field. His tufty haircan be likened to a candle-wick. Afieldabove which there is awick.Mr. Ray. This young man is noticeable not so much for anyparticular feature, but for the general quality that emanatesfrom his face. It seems almost to glow. A quick mental triptakes us from 'glow' to 'gleam' to 'ray'.Miss Sheriton. Miss Sheriton is made even more attractivethan she would otherwise be by the large dimple in her chin.Think ofthe dimple as a large cherry, so large that it weighs aton. A slight slurring of the 'ch' gives us 'sh' Sheriton.Mr. Newell. As with Mrs. Paukowski Mr. Newell's memory-feature is his nose, although in his case we are interested in thefact that it is slightly shiny and flared at the nostril. The shinyquality can easily be interpreted as newness, and the flarednostril can be likened to a well.Mrs. Carstairs. Rather than attempting to combine twoimages here we will concentrate on Mrs. Carstairs eyes whichare noticeably round. The image is of a car's headlights. Weneed not imagine stairs, as the round eyes themselves stare. Inother words we imagine: car stares!Mr. Dombrower. This intelligent looking gentleman ischaracteristic ofthe 'intellectual' or 'highbrow' look because ofhis large, domed forehead or brow. The link is easy: dome-brow.Mrs. Heyburn. Mrs. Heyburn has lank, straight hair.Imagine it as cut hay, and then set the lot on fire!MissJazcolt. Miss Jazcolt has pouting lips which can quiteeasily be imagined playing an instrument such as the trumpet—jazz! She is also 'frisky' in appearance. just like a colt. MissJazzcolt.That completes our list of 24 names. Before proceeding tothe following pages in which you will be testing your memoryof these names, quickly run back over the list and the associa-tions, fixing them firmly in your mind.You should by now be quite an expert at rememberingnames and faces! Before this chapter comes to an end, how-ever, we shall quickly cover the memorisation of facts relatedto the names and faces we wish to remember.Now that you have basically grasped the link system andthe remembering of names and faces, this next step will bequite simple. All you have to do is to add another link to theface-name picture you already have.For example, if Mrs. Ruff were a typist, you would imagineeither: a typewriter within the Elizabethan ruff; typing on anElizabethan ruff; or a typewriter sitting on Mrs. Ruff's head!If Mr. Sawyer were a college professor you could imaginehim standing in front of his class sawing his desk or lecturn intwo!If Mr. Swallow were an apprentice plumber you couldimagine him swallowing his employer's tools, and so on!One other point about remembering people is the following:ifyou are certain that you will be meeting this person only onceand that you are not concerned with long-term memory, it isoften useful to use an outstanding item of clothing that theperson might be wearing. This method of course is no goodfor long-term memory, as the person may not be wearing thesame clothes next time.Another general pointer concerns names that are common,such as Smith and Jones. To remember people with nameslike these, establish a 'Smith-chain' and a 'Jones-chain' etc. Todo this pick a 'basic Smith' or Jones and use that person'sface as a link with any other person having the same name. Youwill find that the more people you have on the chain, theeasier remembering becomes.And finally, how did my professor perform his amazing feat?By now the answer should be fairly apparent: firstly he usedone of the basic list systems to remember the names in theproper order, obviously making extravagant associations withthe memory word and the name to be remembered. Thenumbers and addresses he remembered by a system withwhich I will be dealing in a later chapter. Once he had calledour names and we had identified ourselves, the rest was easy.He linked the names with the very motley collection offaces inthe class!