(This is Part 4 of the Repeat After Me series. Read Part 3 here.)
Last time I wrote about introducing ourselves to others. It seems like a lost art, but if we take the first step everyone wins. This week I want to talk about re-introducing ourselves after we’ve met someone and forgotten their names (possibly within the first few minutes.)
Incentivized to Remember
I’m unusually good at remembering names. One time I was the speaker at a week-long camp for middle school students. There were 130 attendees, and (as often happens among middle-schoolers) they threatened from the beginning to throw the speaker–me–into the lake. I decided to throw them off the trail with an early week challenge: They could freely throw me in the lake, clothes and all, if, by the end of the week I couldn’t recall each of their names. This served the dual purpose of engendering playful avoidance among the campers–and keeping me dry.
By the end of the week I had them stand–and then sit down–as I named them. I got them all, but just to be careful, I ran to my car and left a trail of dust behind.
This week’s phrase to memorize and use is: “I’m sorry, can you remind me your name?” Squint a little when you say that.
Pushing Through the Awkward
Everybody forgets names, me included. But rather than creep around the outside and say, “Hiiiiiii…..you!”, I’ve learned that it works better to just admit I’ve forgotten. People respect that and often say, “Yeah, I forgot your name, too.” There are versions of this. “I’m sorry, I forgot your name. I’m Tom.” “I’m embarrassed…I forgot your name!” Work it any way you can, but use it. Push past your insecurities and help everyone by getting on a first-name basis.
Some tips on remembering names:
- When they give you their name, spell it out loud. Or ask for the spelling. “John? Is that J-o-n or J-o-h-n?” Or even say, “I remember names best when I spell them. It’s S-a-m, right?”
- Say, “I’m not so good at names, so I’m going to repeat this enough so I can get it. Allison? A-l-l-i-s-o-n. Got it, I think. But I might have to ask you again.”
- Just give it a few moments of focus. Say it in your head, give them a good look, and then focus.
- Use their name in addressing them as soon as you can.
And, of course, repeat after me: “Can you remind me your name?”