Monday, July 16, 2007

Face to Face Networking Takes On a Whole New Meaning

This post by Andrea gives insight into some of the extra effort a prosopagnosic goes through at work trying to avoid social missteps.

Social Captioning « Andrea’s Buzzing About:

The primary problem of being faceblind is not only do I not recognise people — rather, I have to consciously identify them — but that my abilities to do so fade over time, so people whom I used to be able to figure out will become strangers again for lack of regular contact. The secondary, and somewhat insidious part of being faceblind is that it plays hell with “networking”. I never know as many of my coworkers or peers when I am around them, and cannot keep track of them later on as useful contacts.

When I interview for jobs, talk to people at conferences, or attend meetings it is profoundly difficult for me to remember with whom I spoke, even though I write down names and titles. I’ve tried taking down covert notes, like “Mr M: mustache, co√∂rdinates program, office 2nd floor”. But then later on I find that knowing Mr M has a mustache isn’t useful, because later on I will be around two more mustached guys of the same “type” who are all in the same environment, and that I never talk with Mr M in his office on the 2nd floor. I will later come to know Mr M by the particular shape of his balding pate and the way he wears his mobile phone on his belt, but when I am taking those notes, those are not the features that are first noticeable.

There’s also a Ms B at the meeting, but I won’t know until a month later that she was the one whom I really needed to “map” out as a contact. Yet another month more after that realisation, I will finally ascertain that she was one of the people with whom I chatted at that initial meeting. Making that important connection required a lot of careful analysis, drawing connections and ruling out confounds between dissimilar data sets, as though I am playing a particularly difficult level of Sudoku involving personnel instead of numbers. In a Sudoku game, there’s always a ninth that has just a couple of numbers provided, so it’s the square with the numbers that are filled in last, through pains-taking analyses of extensive subsets of if-then algorithms.

Its a very thoughtful post and the puzzle analogy is spot on. I also feel like I am always trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle.


Anonymous said...

Hi - I do conferences and meetings a lot and I can't remember people unless I have a lot of contact. I give people I want to notice a business card and usually they respond with one of their own - even if they haven't got a card with them they write something down. Name tags are good too.
My work provides cards, but it's easy to get some, machines do it at airports etc. Suz.

dori said...

If only business cards had face pics. wouldn't that be great? I often write down a distinguishing characteristics or two about a person, to help me recognize them again later.