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    April 2010
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Bad With Names

Posted by georgiannasaysjustdoyou on April 13, 2010

Some people have excellent recall for names and faces. Some have one or the other. I am great with faces and terrible with names. I find myself coming up with creative ways to recall names and try to be sly about discovering them when I am at a cocktail party, networking event or other social gathering. Sometimes I just give up and own that I cannot remember someone’s name.

I watch people who have excellent recall and I am jealous. How do they do it? A major part of being successful in any business is great customer service. A part of that is knowing who you are talking with and remembering them when you see them again. In business schools they teach you techniques for tracking information that is helpful, but beware of stalking people online…it is creepy. I attended Bentley University before Windows 95, so we learned to write stuff down. If in conversation, someone mentions a partner or a child, you write it under their contact information. If they traveled or climbed a mountain, you write it down. They feel special that you ask about them the next time you see them.

So imagine how they feel if you cannot even remember their name? I searched back to figure out where I went astray. I learned that my work with victims of domestic violence trained me to forget names and faces. The women and children I have worked with do not always want to be recognized and acknowledged by me in a public setting. The work was always anonymous. So I stopped trying to remember.

While that may explain things for me, it doesn’t help me with the issue of being bad with names. So I am training myself to re-learn this skill. In the meantime, I will continue to be creative in not making people feel bad.

Short-true story: I went to an event looking to connect with someone specific I had met only one time. I knew her name and her work by heart. So during the networking event I started to introduce myself to different people. I eventually came across someone from her company and seized the moment. “Oh you are from X company! So you know “Y”? She laughed and said, “I hope so, that’s me!” How embarrassing… But I made fun of myself and it wasn’t too painful in the end. Making light of it worked. And she was a good sport.
I am interested in your stories and techniques. What would you do to get out of a sticky situation like that? Perhaps we can all learn from each other?

I don’t have answers, but I always have thoughts, and sometimes I even have questions…looking forward to your stories.


One Response to “Bad With Names”

  1. Fun article! I have a hard time with names if I am meeting multiple people at once, so I usually tell everyone up front “Don’t feel bad if you forget my name because I will most likely forget yours. Besides that you can call me anything you want, as long as you don’t call me late for dinner”.

    It always gives people a laugh but it subtle makes a point too that if you have something good to talk to me about, talk to me. I could care less about you remembering my name if you have something of value to share 🙂

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