Your heart races and palms begin to sweat as you’re overcome with an adrenaline rush coated with embarrassment and stupidity. You awkwardly ask the person you’ve met previously how they’re doing, and hope they can’t tell you failed to uphold one of the most basic business etiquette principles: you forgot their name. The conversation is forced as you struggle to come up with the name and how you’ve met them...no luck.
There are methods that can be used to save yourself, but the biggest priority should be making sure it doesn’t happen again. The importance of remembering someone’s name when you meet him or her can be critical, especially in today’s increasingly competitive world of business. Remembering a name allows you to come across as a more professional and reliable individual; not to mention, nearly everyone likes hearing the sound of his or her name.
Half the time, as we’re meeting someone for the first time, we stress about giving a firm handshake or worry about what to say next, only concerned with introducing ourselves. I confidently go for the handshake, reminding myself of what to say next. “Hi, I’m PK,” I say proudly. Then we tend to think about how firm of a handshake it was, whether or not we gave off a great first impression, or even criticize their handshake (your hand may be throbbing from an aggressive shake or you laugh to yourself because of how dainty it felt). At this point, the other person has already introduced his or herself and you just smile politely, now beating yourself up inside because you completely missed their name.
Listen, relax, and just like shampooing your hair, repeat! Repeat the person’s name. This could be in your head, but make sure to say it once more aloud and in a less menacing voice than Anna Faris. Maybe ask how it is spelled or if there is any cultural history behind it. Even attach the person’s name to an image. Attaching memory cues to the name is going to help with memorization since our mind learns through images, actions, and emotions, as opposed to verbal cues.
If you find yourself struggling, don’t panic. You can still pull out your bag of tricks to redeem yourself. Try introducing a third party whose name you DO know. Hopefully, the mystery person will reintroduce him or herself, saving you from an awkward encounter. If it is someone you met at a networking event or less than two times, reintroduce yourself and recognize the previous encounter. “Hi, I’m PK. I believe we met before.” Chances are they’re facing the same dilemma as you and will greatly appreciate the easy out you just provided. Another approach is to just skip the introduction all together and ask them how they are doing. They may sense you forgot their name, but will not be able to prove it unless they directly ask. Just remember, NEVER commit to a name unless you’re positive; otherwise, congratulations, you just took part in the epitome of an awkward situation.
The next time you’re introducing yourself try and truly relax, listen to what they have to say, and repeat their name. This could make or break any possible job opportunities, reflect poorly or positively on your professionalism, and worst or best of all, generate that inner sense of disappointment or achievement in yourself.