Not good with names? Not good with faces?

SO here’s the deal:

If someone were to show me somebody’s face that I know, I’d be hard put to dredge up a name to go with it.

However, if someone tells me a name, I can assign a face to that name usually pretty easily.

Does this mean, as it is generally accepted, that I’m ‘not good with faces’? Or is it that I’m ‘not good with names’?
And to make the OP fit into this forum, which are you?

I often find myself saying, “The name sounds familiar, but I’d have to see the person.”

I guess that means that I am better with faces than names.

I think you classify as “good with faces, bad with names”

I’m bad with both. There were many a time when a person (who looks like a complete stranger to me) would come up to me, shake my hand, call me by name ask about my wife and other stuff and I cant for the life of me figure out who the heck this person is! I’ve gotten good with playing like I know who they are, or where I’ve met them but even after my wife clues me in from where I met them, I am drawing a complete blank. This is a real difficulty since my wife as a huge family with dozens of aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters.

Anyone with a proven technique to remember names with faces please post.

Well…I am lousy with faces. People are forever saying “Hi!” to me as though they actually KNOW me and I find myself wondering who in the world they are.

I’m good with names, in that people’s names stick in my head, sometimes for years.

But being good with names doesn’t help me at all when I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone before…The sight of the face does not jog the name portion of my memory. And remembering a name of someone I used to know does not necessarily bring back a face…

Does that help at all?

I’m bad with both. I need prolonged exposure before the name and face “sticks.”

I can do faces, but I have a problem with names.

I won’t remember your name five minutes after I hear it, because I have already given you a new one for my mental filing system. I will remember all the stories you’ve told me, whether you smoke or not, what kind of beer you drink, the name of your first pet if you’ve mentioned it, but I won’t remember your name.

I’ll remember my name for you.

This causes no end of trouble when Smurfette and Thumb Tats want to discuss what Brain said to Cousin It during a meeting.

When Bear and Purple Highlights want my opinion on what Hello There, I’m Johnny Cash and The Tall Girl thought about it, I have to finally break down and admit that I don’t know who Amanda, Ted, Mark, Phil, Bob, and Krysten are. I was following the conversation right up until the real names came into it.

It would be so much simpler if I could just use the names they gave me.

I’m really good with both. I’m the annoying person you can’t remember who comes up to you at a party and says
“Hi there Bill, so good to see you again, I hope your cat got over it’s broken leg, oh I see you’ve changed your cigarette brand”.

(but I usually introduce myself, so it’s ok).

I’m good with faces, bad with names. To overcome this, when meeting someone for the first time, I will use their name during the conversation many times. Saves embarrassing myself at the second meeting.

I’m absolutely horrible at both. I have no idea what to do about it. I’ve irritated many people by it. Possibly irishgirl herself (although I’m not Bill, I don’t have a cat, and don’t smoke… meh).

AHA!!! I knew it! YOURE the one … what was your name again…??


I find it difficult to remember names of authors and writers for ciation purposes, which caused a few problems when studying, but I’m usually good with faces, and when I see someone in real life, I can recall all sorts of trivia about them.

However I have one acquaintance whom I often see around at parties and the like whom for some reason I never recognise. She’s quite distinctive looking too - short bright red hair - but most of the time it’s like I can’t physically see her. It’s like she has a force field around her. Very strange.

I’m horrible with names. But I’m pretty good with faces.

Bad with names, good with faces. Try these on for size:

(1) At one of my past jobs, me and this one other guy used to come in 20 mins or so earlier than everyone else. I worked in one lab, he was the manager of the lab next door. I’m sure someone must have introduced us initially but I promptly forgot his name (though not his face, where he worked or his position). For months we passed each other first thing in the morning. He’d say “Good morning, Yersinia,” to me but all I could say to him was “Good morning.” I wasn’t able to remember his name until I’d been working there a year, at which point my own manager (yes, I knew HIS name, LOL) was promoted and this guy had been assigned to take over, so was about to become my boss. When I heard about John’s upcoming promotion, I asked who was replacing him in our lab, and when they said Peter, I asked “Who’s he? I don’t know anyone named Peter.” I about died when I found out it was Peter with whom I’d been exchanging early morning greetings for the last year.

(2) At another job, we changed labs, i.e., moved to a bigger one in one of the company’s buildings across the street. In the back of this building we had a picnic table. I went there during my lunch hour and there was this guy sitting there. Remembering my incident with Peter, I made a point to ask him what his name was – I figured if I got his name myself, I’d remember it. So he told me his name, I gave him mine, and we talked a bit. Again, as it happened, I remembered his face and what work he did – but not his name. The next day I saw him in the break room and he said “Hi Yersinia, how are you?” And all I could say was, “Fine. How are you?” Eeeesh. Took me close to a year before I was able to “remember” his name, even though he and I ran into each other at lunchtime on nearly a daily basis and would exchange greetings and small talk.

On the other hand, with both of those jobs, I had few difficulties learning both the first AND last names of my bosses and immediate coworkers. So perhaps I could say I need “constant exposure” to a person to learn his or her name, but how do we explain THIS –

(3) I’ve been living in the same apartment for the past 17 and a half years. I know the faces of several of my fellow tenants (though not all of them), but I can put a name only to one of them…

I need to get a new monitor, one that doesn’t have this occasional fuzziness*: I read the thread title as “Not good with names? Not good with feces?”

*I currently have a refurbished 21" NEC CRT that I got for a song. I can’t give up size, so I’ll have to wait until I can afford a 21" or better LCD. But ~$1500 is a little rich for my blood right now.

Terrible at faces, not good with names. Yes, please, anyone with devices for remembering faces, please post.

Several times in life I have thought that two different people were one person. Like “stocky, brown-curly-haired guy” --OK, that’s him – then at some office function, there they are together!All this time, every time I’ve seen one or the other of them, I thought they were the same stocky, brown-curly-haired guy. Who knows if I know both of them, or just one. Have I been saying hi to both, but only one of them has ever met me? Augh.

I’m like snac in that even if I remember the name, that doesn’t help me at all when I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone before…

My brother has it too, but is actually worse than I am. I think the faces thing is some sort of neurological – I won’t say disorder – issue. It’s as if I have a mild version of whatever that man had in the book “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.”

It is very bad socially and professionally, because often when I see someone that I think I know, but I’m not sure, I can either a) ignore him and be thought a snob, if I really do know him, or b) introduce myself, only to have him think/say, “We’ve met 800 times already, you idiot,” or c) acknowledge him as if we’ve met before, only to have him give ME a blank look because I really DON’T know him-- he must just look like someone else I know…

It’s awful to have to explain to someone that you didn’t recognize him/her. People tend to take it personally…

Yeah, I’m terrible with feces. One steaming brown loaf pretty much looks like any other steaming brown loaf to me.

Dunno how proven this is, but it works fairly well for me. When I’m going to meet new people, I try to get to know all their names ahead of time. Then when we meet, I already know the name and I just have to attach it to a face. Of course, if the meeting is at a DopeFest, all bets are off. It takes me a little while to match names and user names and faces. But eventually, it sticks.

Generally, if I get new name and new face all at once, I’m in trouble.

For the record, my real name is Michelle, so if you ever meet me, you can remember that.


With me, I usually have to see the face before I can really remember them because I know many people by being around them often (ie. the neighbours on my street), but have a hard time putting names to them. People can toss out names and I go “ummmm…whosat?”, until I see the face. Generally, a name is just a name, but each face/person has something that is more likely to stick in my memory than just what they’re called.

I’m fine with both if I can remember to consciously make the connection. My problem is that I *always[\i] miss people’s names when they are introduced to me and have to resort to all sorts of devious means to find out later.

(Yes, I know I could just ask them, but it sort of seems uncool at the end of that hour-long job interview to have to say "Yes, I’m sure I could make a significant contribution to this company…um…what was your name again?)

I suffer with the very problems tesseract described. It’s awful.

I’m missing some basic cerebral wiring that everyone else has (except for, perhaps, tesseract’s family – maybe we’re related). I cannot remember faces at all. Of course, I’d recognize my family or close friends, but that’s it. It’s so embarrassing to have to ask my wife while watching a movie “Is that the good guy or the bad guy?” I hope I never have to look at a police lineup because I’d just be guessing.

She often spots folks in crowds and says “Look who’s over there!” I look blankly at fifty identical people. She says “Can’t you see them?” I continue my blank stare. Finally she gets exasperated and says “Can’t you see Joe and Sarah over there?” I say “Even if I had seen them yesterday, I wouldn’t have recognized them. It’s been five years since we’ve seen them – how the hell can you recognize folks like that?”

She never ceases to be amazed with my handicap: from time to time she shows me black and white photos of her with her family that were taken twenty years ago and says “Can’t you tell which one I am?” I stall, knowing I haven’t the foggiest idea, and then I point to her sister. She then gets all offended that I don’t even recognise my own wife. Oh well.

I especially dislike out-of-context encounters with co-workers. Once upon a time I worked in the chemical stockroom at a pharmaceutical company, delivering chemicals to hundreds of scientists. Naturally, every single one of them knew the three guys in the stockroom, and we were pretty good at remembering them. The fact is, if there are a few hundred folks at work who know you, you’re bound to meet one in the mall from time to time. I suffered great discomfort during those chance encounters.

I’m convinced that nobody else has this problem. One day, while delivering chemicals, a chemist asked me if I worked at the movie theater. I said yes, I was the evening projectionist. It seems that when she and a girlfriend went to the movies one Friday evening, she looked over her shoulder at the little window of the projection booth and saw me threading up the projecter. They both recognised me in such different circumstances, in poor ligting conditions, from far away, through a little tiny window.
I never would trust my recognition skills enough to tell somebody that I saw them in such circumstances. I might think “that looks a little like so-and-so,” but I’d never have certainty.