Once, at a party, I was introduced to a friend of a friend. We shook hands, I told her my name, she told me hers. Then she did something that I was ever so grateful for.
“Hang on,” she said. “Can you say your name again? I wasn’t really listening.”
She saved me from having to later—possibly even at the same party—sheepishly admit that I, too, had already forgotten her name.
An informal poll of fellow Atlantic staffers confirmed my suspicion that this is something that happens to even the most kind and conscientious among us. No sooner does someone utter the most fundamental factoid about themselves than the information flees our brains forever.
There are a few reasons why this occurs:
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