What to Do When You Forget a Person’s Name

The Art of Remembering Names: When You Forget a Person's Name

Remembering names is an important social skill — mastering this skill can offer a distinct advantage in your professional and personal lives. Previous blog articles discussed a 5R (Resolve, Review, Relate, Repeat, Record) technique to help remember names and a technique to remember names around tables in meetings.

Apologize and Ask

Despite your best efforts, on occasion you may not be able recollect the name of another person, even if you were introduced minutes earlier. In such cases, simply ask, “I am sorry, I forgot your name.” Do not elaborate or try to qualify. Alternately, ask for the person’s business card if appropriate

Another familiar situation is when you run into someone you know–you can remember several details of the person and your prior interactions,–but cannot recall the person’s name. This person may assume that you know his/her name and hence may not self-introduce. You may go through an entire conversation trying to call to mind this person’s name. Simply say, “Forgive me. I remember we met at last year’s sales conference. I can remember everything about you, but, I can’t recall your name. Could you please repeat it for me?”

Introduce a Third Person

Yet another technique is to introduce a third person. Say, at an office holiday party, you fail to remember the name of a colleague. Turn to your colleague and say, “I don’t think you have met my husband, Frank.” Frank and your colleague exchange greetings: “Hi, I am Frank. Nice to meet you.” Your colleague reveals her name: “Hi, I am Isabella David.”

At any rate, avoid embarrassing yourself by using an assumed or a wrong name. Apologize and ask the person to state or confirm his/names.

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