What Do People Remember About You?

The positive qualities that make you memorable.

Posted Jan 18, 2021

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
Source: Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

We consistently meet new people in the course of our daily lives, both personally and professionally. Yet some people make more of an impression than others, in more ways than one. We meet some individuals we can’t wait to see again, and others we hope we don’t. New acquaintances form the same memorable impressions about us. 

According to research, being memorable involves looking, listening, and feeling. When you meet someone new in person, they may remember something about you physically, but depending on what you say and how you say it, they will also remember how you made them feel. 

Attired for Attention

True, as I have written in another column, people remember what you wear.  After a social event, we all remember the woman in red, or the man with the top hat—although sometimes personal presentation goes further. Hollywood hopefuls capitalize on this reality by wearing something outlandish (hopefully also tasteful) on the red carpet to create a camera-swiveling breakout moment while struggling artists or authors attend galas in outfits designed to be discussed and displayed on the society pages of local magazines.  

But in terms of making a good impression, being memorable is not about flamboyance or fashion. And it’s not just about attire, but attraction, both physical and emotional, often in reverse order of importance.    

Physical Distinctiveness 

El Haj Mohamad and André Ndobo (2020), in a study investigating destination memory (remembering to whom information was previously relayed), began by acknowledging prior research finding people tended to remember the extremes: both attractive and unattractive faces.[i]

They acknowledge that one suggested explanation was that “both very attractive and very unattractive faces are characterized by distinctive features that promote facial recognition” as compared with faces of average attractiveness.  

But while distinctiveness is memorable, beauty is skin deep. Accordingly, the way you are remembered by others is often not about what you wear and how you look but about the way you make people feel.

Leaving a Memorable Mark: The Personable Professional

Professional interaction can create positive personal memories. Adrie A. Koehler et al., in a piece aptly entitled “In the Eye of the Beholder,” (2017) found that when prompted to recall their best learning experience, many students discussed a memorable teacher. [ii] What made the teachers memorable? According to the students, memorable qualities included teaching style, but also interpersonal skills and positive attributes such as a sense of humor and compassion.  

We can relate to the results of this study when recalling people who are memorable in our own lives. They are not always people who we believed to be the smartest or most credentialed, but often those who made us feel the most comfortable, and who were most interested in us. Authentic interest is uniquely attractive. Not only will you remember what someone said, but they will also remember you. Fondly.  

The Way You Make Me Feel

Raul Berrios et al., in a piece aptly named “Why Do You Make Us Feel Good?” (2015) acknowledged prior research studying “affective presence,” finding people often impact our emotional moods, making us feel happy or stressed, for example.[iii]  In a speed-dating study, they found that dates with greater positive affective presence made the best impression on prospective partners, demonstrating how positive distinctiveness may stem from the emotional impact of our behavior.

Regardless of what we wear or how we look, we are always naturally more engaging and approachable when we are focused on others, instead of ourselves; and when we are genuine rather than simply gregarious. Remember that, and others will remember you.

Facebook image: Rido/Shutterstock


[i] El Haj, Mohamad, and André Ndobo. 2020. “Attractive Memory: High Destination Memory for Attractive Faces.” Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, July. doi:10.1111/sjop.12657.

[ii] Koehler, Adrie A., Timothy J. Newby, and Erin D. Besser. 2017. “In the Eye of the Beholder: Using Student Narratives to Explore Memorable Teachers.” Educational Review 69 (2): 158–80. doi:10.1080/00131911.2016.1176011.

[iii] Berrios, Raul, Peter Totterdell, and Karen Niven. 2015. “Why Do You Make Us Feel Good? Correlates and Interpersonal Consequences of Affective Presence in Speed‐dating.” European Journal of Personality 29 (1): 72–82. doi:10.1002/per.1944.