DEAR HARRIETTE: I absolutely hate it when people come up to me to ask me if I remember them. I almost always do not. I have a horrible memory. Plus, half of these people are random -- at least as far as I’m concerned. They are not people who have been important in my life. One woman who pressed me to figure out who she was told me that we were friends on social media but hadn’t actually met yet. Really?! Another guy said that we had gone to the same high school, 30 years prior, but we weren’t in the same class or year. I can understand if the person is somebody who was my friend from back in the day or something more meaningful, but I feel like now people feel entitled to quiz you on whether you know them, even when they know you probably don’t. How can I protect myself in these situations? It always feels so awkward; I’m afraid that one of these people will be someone I should know but don’t remember. -- Who Are You
DEAR WHO ARE YOU: When you encounter people whose names you don’t remember or whom you do not think you know but are unsure, just say something like, “It’s so nice to see you.” People mostly appreciate being acknowledged. If the person asks you if you remember them -- something I never recommend -- you can respond by saying, “Please remind me.” If the person pushes back trying to get you to guess, admit that you have a bad memory and you do not want to do that. If the person continues, you can excuse yourself. There is no reason for you to go on and on attempting to guess who someone is if the person is unwilling to say.
For those people who like to quiz others about their identity, I implore you to stop. Usually you are the one whose feelings get hurt, plus you create an awkward situation that need not be uncomfortable. I prefer leading with my name to most people. That way, anybody who is having a memory lapse will be supported by the reminder.