Isn’t it the absolute worst when you forget someone’s name? It’s particularly worrisome when you see them unexpectedly out in public and you know an inevitable introduction is coming your way. You panic, your mind goes blank, what are you to do?!
Now don’t get your hopes too high, there really is no foolproof magic tip to get you out of this sticky situation totally unscathed, but there are ways to diminish the awkward tension. And better yet a few ways to prevent it from ever coming to be in the first place.
Of course you’re probably thinking, thanks but I want something that’s going to help me when I’m 5 seconds away from introducing whats-her-name and we’ll get to a few tricks to help ease you through that situation, but first let’s discuss a few ways to help you become one of those rare “name remembering pros” we all envy.
1. Change your mindset.
Tell yourself you’re amazing with names. Sometimes we tend to tell lies to ourselves and consider them fact. If you keep saying “Oh I’m so terrible with names,” then you bet you’re going to keep forgetting. Everyone has the ability to remember names unless you’ve suffered an unfortunate injury to the brain, in which case this can be conveniently used as a sympathetic excuse.
It may seem silly at first but tell yourself that you’re excellent with names. “I have the best memory and can easily remember names after just one meeting.” You may feel like a lying fraud at first but over time you will slowly alter your mindset so you are primed, ready and expecting to remember every name.
2. Say the name out loud.
You may have heard this tip before but repeat the name back after you first hear it. “This is Sarah. Sarah, how are you?” This not only renforces the name in your mind but it’s an opportunity to perfect the pronounciation. If you’re unsure here’s your chance to say “Is it Caroline or Caroline? Don’t be afraid to be upfront, it will only show your willingness to know them and build a genuine lasting relationship. Try to use the name aloud one more time throughout the conversation but don’t say it too often or it will sound overkill.
3. Free associate the name.
When you here the name immediately connect it to someone or something else. Do you already have a friend Timothy then think about your old friend Timothy as you study new Timothy’s face. When you see this new face again you’ll associate it with your old friend Timothy’s face. You can do this with celebrities as well. Meet an Angelina? Picture Angelina Jolie when you think of her. All it takes is a few seconds to form this connection. This is a good tip if you’re a visual person.
With all that being said, sometimes a name really does just slip your mind. It happens to all of us. In this case all you can do is make the bests of the situation and this means making the nameless face feel as comfortable as possible. You’re whole objective should be trying to make said person feel happy and respected given the awkwardness of the situation.
1. Mention what you do remember.
Instead of immediately admitting you have no idea what their name is start with the facts you do remember. “Hello how are you? I know we met at Helen’s cocktail last month but your name has slipped me.” By adding details about how you met or specifics about your previous conversation you’re showing you valued meeting them you’re simply bad with names.
2. Act friendly and genuinely interested.
Remember it’s not about what you say but how you make them feel. If you approach them with a warm friendly attitude, giving your undivided attention, making them feel special and respected, then even when you admit your faulty memory they won’t feel embarrassed or upset. They will remember you cared enough to come over and say hello. They will remember your attentive caring energy.
3. Use an outgoing plus one to your advantage.
If you’re with a friend whose comfortable doing so, tell them the dilemma and have them friendly introduce themselves prompting the person to say their own name. Instruct your friend to do it quickly and friendly so it appears they are simply outgoing with everyone. After the name is said here’s your chance to step in and explain how and where you’ve previously met. This will show that of course you remember them, your friend simply beat you to the punch for a proper introduction. Of course this will only work if you have a willing friend, you shouldn’t force one to introduce themselves as they may feel shy or improper.
4. Ask around.
If you’re at a party where others are present, then find someone you’re close to and ASK. If you’re lucky a mutual friend or contact may be able to save you. You can ask discreetly, “Oh I’ve met that women in green, do you know her? I seem to have forgotten her name.” If possible try to obtain the name as soon as you see the person as you want to be prepared when you cross paths.
Many times all you can do is admit defeat and come clean about forgetting the name. It’s an awkward five seconds for you but remember it’s about making the other person feel as comfortable as possible. And please, be prepared to remember the name the second time around! You can only ask once.
HOMEWORK: Have you ever forgotten someone’s name? What did you do? Do you have any good tips that have helped you through this situation? Please share with us in the comments!