High up there on the list of people’s social nightmares is forgetting a person’s name. I’m sure you have found yourself in a situation when someone greets you so warmly, and you cannot for the life of you remember who that person is. The more you panic, the more you forget.
Of course, it goes without saying that it would be slightly rude to say, “Who are you again?” or worse, “What’s your name again?” Some people simply resort to “So nice to see you, let’s catch up soon,” but for the most part you are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Here are some tips to help you out. It is not by any means foolproof, but it may help you out of a sticky situation.
Ask for the person’s calling card. You can say something like, “How do I get in touch with you, do you have a card?” This usually works. When you receive the card, read it, and hopefully this will give you a clue as to who the person is. Problems arise when (as is very common in the Philippines) the person’s full name is written on the card. The company he works for does not jar your memory, nor does the last name. Of course the real name does not help any.
Panic sets in and you decide to make up a nickname and hope it is the right one. This is most definitely the wrong move to make. I write about it now because it has happened to me and many of my friends too often. Joseph Lozada could very well be Boy, and not Joe. So do not even go there. Try this next tactic.
Try to fish for common friends’ names. If you have gotten to this point and still have not figured out the person’s name and still have not been able to get out of the conversation, you are in deep trouble. You can ask questions like, “Do you still keep in touch with our friends?” It’s lame, yes, but you have already come this far, and it’s worth a try.
Try introducing a friend. This works well because you simply say, “I’d like you to meet my friend Jane.” Then the person will say his or her name, hopefully.
Be honest. Of course honesty should be the first resort, but we all know that “I’m sorry I forgot your name” will not be easy to say. But at the end of it all, if you have to ask, ask.
Moral of the story is simple: Never presume you are remembered. If you have not seen a person for a long time, simply say “Hi, my name is John Reyes,” and extend your hand in greeting. That way, you save the person you are with from any form of embarrassment. If enough people practice this, maybe there will be less awkward social moments.