I meet new people every day. Comes with the territory when your job description is part human being, part writer. In fact, meeting people who love what they do is probably the best part of my job description.
But I’ve got a problem.
No matter if I’ve been chatting up a new companion for two hours or two seconds, my deep, longing stare into their eyes means nothing except for the very conspicuous fact that I have no idea who I’m talking to.
A name-rememberer, I am not.
Which is the worst, right? Because everyone in the world wants to be remembered. One time I went to a party and met a very attractive woman who also happened to have recently opened a business in Chicago. We talked. Smiled. Flirted. But when it came to introduce her to a friend of mine, I blanked. She saw my thousand-yard stare and saved the day. But she was disappointed; it was plain to see.
It happens to the best of us (which I am certainly not). But through the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me up my name game.
My biggest pet peeve: people who have wandering eyes when you’re speaking to them. It’s How to Have a Conversation 101, people. Be polite. Be fully engaged. Be mindful that you’re getting to know new people. It goes a long way in remembering names.
Meet and repeat
Best trick in the book, in my opinion. Not just because it’s a natural memory device, but because it’s friendly. “Nice to meet you, Walt.” What you’ll also wanna do is just keep on repeating their name in your head until it gets borderline creepy, seared medium rare into your brain.
You can go all day if you’ve got wordplay
Mnemonic devices are your friend. Whether it’s physical associations or just strange connections you make in your head, use them to your advantage. I personally like to use imagery, which helps me associate said imagery with said person. “Hi, Mary.” Mary had a little lamb. When you see this lady, think lamb. Mary had a little lamb.
If all else fails, do this
Here’s a go-to strategy when you can’t remember for the life of you. First, acknowledge that you've met the person. Never pretend like you haven't met, which is way more offensive than forgetting a name. Then politely ask for a reminder.
Goes like this: "Oh, hey! How you been? I remember meeting you at X. Remind me of your name?”
It says "I didn't forget you; I've just briefly misplaced your name.”
Little secret: half the time, they’ve forgotten your name, too. And now the ice is broken.