What do you do when you meet someone and you cannot remember their name? That can be embarrassing. I have observed this many times over the years during networking events. I have also observed the different ways others have dealt with forgetting someone’s name. Some have just faked it by engaging in a conversation hoping to get a clue. They try to remember where the other person was from or how they knew them. On the other hand, I have heard people come right out and say, “Hey, I’m sorry I forgot your name” or “I’m sorry I do not remember where you’re from”.
In this video, I share a story from one of my blog readers which describes a scenario of this very nature and I answer his question of what I would have done if I were in the same sticky situation.
What not to do when you cannot remember a name
If it happens to you, I recommend that you do not say, “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” or “I don’t remember where you’re from”. I have found that people sometimes take it personally that you can’t remember them. No reason to embarrass yourself and embarrass them because you don’t know who they are. They might begin to avoid you because you did not recognize them earlier.
Finally, you do not want to say, “Nice to meet you”. Even if you do not remember meeting the person, they clearly know you, so you are most likely not “meeting them” for the first time.
What to do instead
When you forget someone’s name, I recommend saying, “Hi, good to see you”, then strike up a simple conversation to help you remember based upon the current situation or event you are attending. Starting a dialogue is a great way to shake up the gray matter in your head to try to remember who they are. If you still cannot remember after conversing a while, it’s time to stop trying and move along. Before leaving tell them, “Hey, it was nice to see you again. Gotta run. Talk to you again next time”.
It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will help you to remember people’s names–and it actually works!
OK, not remembering someone’s name has happened to me too. Saying “good to see you”, then engaging in a dialogue is a great approach to remember their name. If you absolutely do not want to use this technique, a fall-back approach can be one that someone once shared with me: “Sorry, I’m having a total ‘Senior Moment’ and I don’t recall where we’ve met”. Feel free to use that if you do not feel very brave with the “good to see you” approach. However, be prepared for some bruised feelings.
If you’ve ever been approached by someone and drawn a complete blank trying to remember their name, or even where you know them from, you know how awkward and embarrassing that situation can be. Finally, always wear your name badge when networking in person so that the people you meet can easily remember your name.