Regaining Composure after Forgetting Someone’s Name
Call it a senior moment, failure to pay attention, or a plain old gaffe, sometimes we blank on a person’s name just moments after being introduced. While this situation can be embarrassing, there are ways to graciously excuse the mental lapse. Corporate trainer Marlene Caroselli – author of more than 60 books, including Memory Tips for the Forgetful – offers these strategies:
- The Remind-Me Technique
Say something like: "I was just thinking how much you remind me of (fill in blank). I was so intent on the similarity that I completely missed your name. Could you tell me once more?" You can make the remind-me-of person a sister or friend, or even better (if it works), you can make that person someone famous. The person whose name you forget is likely to be flattered.
- The Compliment Technique
Pay the person a compliment such as: "I'm sorry. I was admiring your outfit so much I didn't even pay attention to your name. Could you tell me once more?"
- The Self-Deprecation Technique
Rather than have the person think you weren't paying attention, excuse your lapse by saying something like: "My husband tells me I'm losing it. What he doesn't realize is that I never had it to begin with! Your name went in one ear and out the other. Please tell me once more. I promise the second time will be a charm."
- The Flat-Out Query
Who would be insulted when someone shows care enough to get the name correct? By asking a question such as, "Excuse me, did you say your name was ‘Mary’?" you are showing that you would like to use the proper name. Even if the name is "Shirley," and you said "Mary," you can say, "Where in the world did I get 'Mary' from?"
The best strategy, of course, is to try hard to remember a name in the first place. For tips on developing this skill, check out this article.