DEAR HARRIETTE: Whenever I run into people I’ve met before and they approach me knowing my name, I always feel really bad when I forget theirs. What are some ways that I can either admit to forgetting somebody’s name in a less embarrassing way or have them tell me their names naturally within the conversation? -- Can't Remember
DEAR CAN’T REMEMBER: This is my Achilles’ heel! I am really bad at remembering names, which I admit only to acknowledge that it can be hard for anyone. I try not to claim anything negative about myself and instead actively choose to engage the positive, so because I know this is a weak area, I do a few things that may be helpful to you. Most important, I welcome people warmly, making eye contact and saying anything appropriate about how we know each other. For me, I don’t usually forget the association I have with a person. It’s generally just the name.
Many people have researched ways to support name recall. Among the common suggestions are to pay complete attention to a person when you meet; notice distinguishable characteristics and attempt to associate them with key words that may jog your memory; and repeat the person’s name while making eye contact.
When you are with other people, let them know that you need support in remembering names. Ask them to jump in and introduce themselves and ask the other person’s name when you are making introductions. When this happens, make sure you are paying close attention. Write down the person’s name and something that’s identifiable about them as soon as you can. If you get stumped, apologize and admit that you don’t remember names well. Ask the person to remind you of their name when there’s no other option.