This happens to me all the time. I meet someone at a conference or party and 15 seconds later I can’t remember his or her name. The more time goes on, the more awkward it gets, especially if they keep saying my name as I talk to them.
So here are my surefire tips to get yourself out of this sticky situation:
- Ask for a business card. (Not well suited for college parties).
- Ask for the email address. This doesn’t work if their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. But if that’s really their email address, are you sure you still want to talk to them?
- Introduce them to a friend. Use the friend ploy where you introduce them to someone you know by saying, “Hey, have you met my friend Walter? This is Walter Solbcheck … (spacey pause)… This is where they start saying their name, a split second after which you repeat the name like you were going to say it all along.
- Be upfront. “I’m sorry I forgot your name”. You can also follow this up with “I can never remember names.” Often the other person will say the same thing.
- Ask them to spell their name. “How do you spell your name.” This one works well when you’re trying to enter their phone number into your blackberry or cellphone.
- Ask “Is there an I in your name?” If it turns out to be something like “Bob”, spontaneously develop an accent and follow up with “Aye, ye Americans and yer whacky spellin.”
- Pickpocket him or her and look at the drivers license. Slip the wallet back (optional).
- Call them by an obviously wrong name like “Jesus”, “Gingerbob”, or “Flo”. They will inevitably have to correct you at some point. If they don’t, congratulations – you’re talking to someone who’s really cool.
- Denigrate yourself the Chris Farley way, keep calling yourself an idiot until they feel so bad about your self-loathing that they ignore the fact that you forgot their name.
If you end up on the flip side of this and you remember their name, but they can’t remember yours (and especially if they’re obviously trying any of the tricks above) mentally torture the hell out of them for as long as possible. Also, be sure to use their name every few sentences.