Oh that dreaded moment when you run into someone who you know…but can’t remember their name. Maybe you’ve been to a ton of networking events recently and they are all running together. Maybe the person is “out of context,” i.e. a professional contact at the dog park.
You know the tricks for paying attention the first time…really concentrate on that person when they say their name. Repeat it a couple of times naturally in conversation. But sometimes the name is on the tip of your tongue and you just can’t grab it. Or, worse, you know there’s no way you’re going to come up with it….total blank!
We’ve all been there but it doesn’t make the interaction any less painful. Following are some sneaky tips for ascertaining that name.
1. Introduce Yourself First
This is my favorite way to get a name, as it immediately puts them at ease too. Why on earth should they have remembered your name!? I always say, “Hi; we’ve met before at (fill in the blank if you can), I’m Cathie. Nine times out of 10 they say, “Of course I remember!” and then if you’re lucky, they say “And I’m ….” If they don’t, well, they’re avoiding common courtesy, but it happens.
2. Introduce the Person You’re With
Say, “This is my colleague, John,” and when John extends his hand you hope the other person responds with their name. If they don’t, you better hope John says, “And what was your name?” I have this little charade worked out with my colleagues and party partner before we attend. For years, I have told my husband, “If I don’t introduce you at a party, it is because I don’t remember their name and I should. Help me out!”
3. Say, “I Am so Sorry, I Can’t Remember Your Name”
And when they look peeved, and say, “Mary,” respond, “Oh, I knew that; I meant your LAST name.” Tricky. Now you have both names.
4. Check Out Their Name Tag
Bless event organizers who provide name tags and who type them in a font that’s big enough to read. If each person is scrawling their own name, well you are at their penmanship mercy. If you feel like you are really being caught scrutinizing their name tag, say “I was just wondering how you spell your name.” (And hope it’s not Mike!)
5. Create Conversation and Hope for a Clue
It’s quite possible you remember how and where you met them, just not the name. If you have any details about them, strike up the conversation on such and hope that the more you talk the clearer it becomes.
6. Ask for Their Business Card
If you are pretty sure you have already taken one, say, “I know we exchanged cards but I misplaced yours and I’d love your professional contact information.”
7. Bust Out a Cool App
Preload some sort of contact management app and hand your device to the other person and ask them to add their information. It’s a stretch but it can work. Even if you don’t figure out their name right then and there you know you can access it later.
8. Just Come Clean!
Everyone’s been there and depending on the situation, sometimes the subterfuge or tricky game can be worse than just coming out and saying, “I know we’ve met. I apologize for my faulty memory. Could you refresh me on your name?” And really, who’s going to be offended by that!
What’s your best tip for recalling an elusive name?
by Cathie Ericson