Forgotten Someone's Name? 6 Ways To Fake It

If you're like me, you sometimes have trouble remembering people's names, or even how you know them.

In ancient Rome, the job of the "nomenclator" was to whisper or announce the names of people as they approached a politician. My husband serves this function for me; he has an uncanny ability to recall names and faces--people he has met once, years ago, and also famous people. I really suffer when I got to social events without him.

So I've developed some strategies for coping with the fact that I'm not able to pull up a person's name. Of course, you can always just say politely, "I'm sorry, I don't recall your name," but if you'd rather try to disguise your forgetfulness a bit, give these a try:

1. The "I know your name, but I'm blocked" dodge:
"I keep wanting to call you "David," but I know that's not right."

2. The "Of course I know you--in fact, I want all your information" dodge:
"Hey, I'd love to get your card."

3. The "The tip of my tongue" dodge:
"I know I know your name, but I'm blanking right now."

4. The "You're brilliant!" dodge:
"Wow, you have a terrific memory. I can't believe you remember my name from that meeting six months ago. I can't remember the names of people I met yesterday! So of course I have to ask you your name."

5. The "Sure, I remember you" dodge:
"Remind me--what's your last name?" If you ask a person for his last name, he's likely to repeat both names. "Doe, John Doe."

6. The "One-sided introduction" dodge:
"Hey," you say to the person whose name you can't remember, "let me introduce you to Pat Smith." You introduce the two and say the name of the person whose name you remember. Almost always, the nameless person will volunteer his or her name.

Also, remember that others might have trouble remembering your name. When you're saying hello to someone, err on the side of re-introducing yourself. "Hi, John, it's Gretchen Rubin." Say your name slowly and clearly. And don't get offended if someone doesn't remember your name! And while you're at it, remember to smile. It really does make a difference in how friendly you're perceived to be.

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Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, www.happiness-project.com, she reports on her daily adventures in pursuit of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds. Response to Rubin’s practical approach to happiness has been overwhelming. Psychiatrists suggest these books to their patients, professors assign them to their students, book groups read them, families pass them around, and groups have sprung up across the world where people do Happiness Projects together. Exhausted parents and college students, senior citizens and professionals, clergy and social workers, and people facing divorce, illness, and drift have written to tell Gretchen Rubin how she’s influenced them. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She has written several books, including three novels safely locked in a desk drawer. But of everything she’s ever written, she says that her one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people. Rubin is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following on social media. “The Happiness Project” was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy! She loves to connect with readers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube—and on her popular daily blog, of course. Gretchen Rubin has a free monthly newsletter which features highlights from the blog and Facebook Page (sign up here) and the free daily “Moment of Happiness” email with a happiness quote every morning (sign up here). If you’re interested in launching a happiness project group, for people doing happiness projects together, you can get the “starter kit” here.

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