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20-40-60 Etiquette: Why don't you remember my name?

Someone recently called attention to the fact that I didn't remember his name; what should I do? 20-40-60 Etiquette offers help, with Mollie Bennett as guest.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Gordon Published: August 18, 2013

QUESTION: Someone I met several months ago came up to me recently at a party and said “I bet you can't remember my name.” Of course, the minute he said that I could not remember his name and I was really embarrassed. What should I have said? “No, I cannot remember you at all” or “No, but let me guess?” How would you handle that situation?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: I am guilty of forgetting names as well. This situation is difficult because they completely called you out for not remembering. That being said, they have to have a great sense of humor and are simply joking. I would have said, “I know your face but your name has just left me. I am so sorry, remind me again?” Clearly, you were worth remembering!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Forgetting names happens to everyone. When you're put on the spot like you were with that question, it's easy to draw a blank when searching your brain for an answer. I think if you're friendly about it, it's OK to smile and say something like, “Your question just threw me off guard, and I'm drawing a blank. Can you help refresh my memory?”

Also, sometimes, we see people that we know from one context in another situation or location all together, and it isn't easy to recall how we know that person. Try developing some tricks to either stall for time until you put all the pieces together or get them to tell you their names. Say something like, “Will you tell me your name again? I know we met at (XYZ party), but I can't quite put your name with your face. How are you?” Or, fake it sincerely until you remember — keep talking to the person and ask questions with a genuine interest until you can get it. I always try to reintroduce myself first so the other person doesn't feel uncomfortable.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Gordon
Freelance Writer
Callie Gordon, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is working at Chesapeake Energy in the Environment, Health, and Safety Department. She was previously an event coordinator for Chesapeake Energy.
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Editor's NOTE

20-40-60 etiquette is moving to the Your Life section on Monday on Aug. 26.


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