It’s strange how we remember things that are important to us and forget things that are not. Or is it sometimes the other way round for you?
When you forget something, actually the memory hasn’t left you; you simply are unable to retrieve it because your long-term memory has two major components.
These are retrievability and stability. Retrievability is how easy you remember things and depends on how near the surface of our consciousness the information is lurking.
Stability is to do with how deeply the information is anchored in our brains. Some memories have a high level of stability but a low level of retrievability, and some memories are easily retrieved.
Just think of this example: Try to remember one of your old telephone numbers…difficult isn’t it? But if someone showed you that number, you would probably recognise it immediately for what it was.
Now another example: Imagine you are learning a new language and have picked up a few words. Without practice, over time those words will become increasingly difficult to recall.The amount of time it takes for you to forget it completely can be calculated and, ideally, you should be reminded of the word precisely when you are in the process of forgetting it. The more often you are reminded of the words, the longer you will remember them.
So, if you are trying to remember something, keep it in the forefront of your memory. This involves auditory recall (saying something to yourself), kinaesthetic recall (write it down or type it up) and visual recall (burn it into the visual cortex by looking at it, and describing it to yourself from different perspectives).
As a manager, it’s important to know how the memory works so you can keep up-to-date and not be found wanting when it comes to remembering important items.
Originally published: 9 January, 2012
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