I have a lot of trouble remembering people’s names. (My husband, on other hand, is freakily good at remembering names and faces — a very handy virtue in a spouse.)
Also, I often have trouble remembering why someone looks familiar. Several years ago, while at crowded birthday party for a three-year-old, I was on the brink of going over to some little kid’s father to say, “I think we went to college together.” Turns out it was Dylan McDermott!
So I’ve developed some strategies for coping with the fact that I’m not able to pull up a person’s name right away. Of course, you can always just say politely, “I’m sorry, I don’t recall your name,” but if you’d rather try to disguise your forgetfulness, give these a try:
1. The “I know your name, but I’m blocked” dodge:
“I keep wanting to call you ‘David,’ but I know that’s not right.”
2. The “Of course I know you — in fact, I want all your information” dodge:
“Hey, I’d love to get your card.”
3. The “The tip of my tongue” dodge:
“I know I know your name, but I’m blanking right now.”
4. The “You’re brilliant!” dodge:
“Wow, you have a terrific memory. I can’t believe you remember my name from that meeting six months ago. I can’t remember the names of people I met yesterday! So of course I have to ask you your name.”
5. The “Sure, I remember you” dodge:
(Advanced) “Remind me – what’s your last name?” If you ask a person for his last name, he’s likely to repeat both names. “Doe, John Doe.”
6. The “One-sided introduction” dodge:
“Hey,” you say to the person whose name you can’t remember, “let me introduce you to Pat Smith.” You introduce the two and say the name of the person whose name you remember. Almost always, the nameless person will volunteer his or her name.
Also, remember that others might have trouble remembering your name. When you’re saying hello to someone, err on the side of re-introducing yourself. “Hi, John, it’s Gretchen Rubin.” Say your name slowly and clearly. And don’t get offended if someone doesn’t remember your name!
How about you? Do you have trouble remembering names? If so, have you found any good strategies for doing a better job of remembering them — or pretending to remember them?
* A thoughtful reader sent the link to this post by Tracy Benjamin on HomeFries about tackling paper and piles. I’m so interested in clutter — how to recognize it, how to fight it, and its strangely powerful influence on happiness. It was very fun to see my book on the top of the pile on a bedside table.