When it comes to remembering things, questions are the key.
Our brains are like a vast landscape of information that has particular pathways to retrieve that information. If you have stored something in your brain consciously (this rarely happens unless you know these memory tricks already) then you create a conscious pathway of how to retrieve the information you want to remember. Remembering is pretty easy. For most of us though, we’ve stored information unconsciously and therefor we don’t know how to get it back.
And this is where the questions come in. Questions are like pathfinders to the information. They allow our brains to search different places for vital clues as to where the precious data is stored.
Let’s look at an example. Say you were trying to remember the name of an actor to a movie. I know, not life-threatening kind of stuff, but it happens to me all the time. If I can’t remember the actors name, I start asking questions:
- Does his name start with a consonant or a vowel?
- Does it rhyme with anything?
- Is it a soft sound like a “s” or an “h” or a hard sound like a “p”, “k” or “t”?
- What other movies was he in?
- What does his voice sound like?
- Do I remember him from an interview?
- Was he on the red carpet? What did the interviewer call him?
By the time I start going through these questions, little bits of the name start coming back and then POW it hits me. His name comes flooding back like it was sitting on the tip of my tongue the whole time. I sigh in relief of solving the conundrum. You must have had that experience before when you’ve been racking your brain trying to remember something and then suddenly it comes to you. The relief is like a weight being lifted from your skull.
I use this technique with other people as well. I just sit and ask a bunch of questions about what they are trying to remember and sure enough, it pops into their heads in no time.
How about if you are trying to recall someone’s name you met? Start by asking questions about the situation or circumstance in which you met.
- Where were you when you met the person?
- Who else were you with?
- What was happening at the time?
If you are still stumped, go through some of the other questions from above like the questions about the sound of the name.
Do you want to remember things like people’s names, or the names of places you visited better in the future? All you have to do is consciously construct the pathway to remembering it. Look at the person and say their name back to them, ask them to spell it, create a mental image of it. Notice the soft letters and hard ones. Notice what it rhymes with. Make up a story for yourself of how that person’s name and their face go together. And when you leave that person, get a picture of them in your mind and ask, “What’s your name?”
Questions are the answers to a great memory!