Over at Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Becker offers some personal introspection on a paradigmatic case of forgetting a couple’s names. In part, Becker narrates,
I was sad that I wasn’t able to remember something as simple as the names of two people I very much enjoyed meeting.
And suddenly it struck me.
I entered the conversation—as I do so often—with the desire to be known rather than to know. I was trying so hard to say something impressive or witty or intelligent that I entirely missed what they were saying on the other side of the conversation.
I wanted them to know my name more than I wanted to know theirs.
For the rest of the post, see Becoming Minimalist. Intentionality of engagement in a conversation and interest in a new acquaintance does seem strongly to correlate with how well names “stick” to faces.
Another but perhaps less clear variety of the same phenomenon would probably be the “listening with the intent to reply” that Stephen Covey advises against so repeatedly. Ostensibly, it might be interest in the content of the conversation or the subject matter, but might the driver be a desire to be (known as) the one who contributes a certain point to the conversation in a certain way?
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