Social Question

AshlynM's avatar

How do you handle it when you come across someone you've met before but have completely forgotten their name?

Asked by AshlynM (10552points) April 20th, 2015

Do you come right out and ask them or hope they introduce themselves again?

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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

“Hi. We’ve met before, but I’ve forgotten your name. I’m gailcalled. Nice to see you again.”

ninjacolin's avatar

^ close!

Make sure you tell them your name BEFORE you tell them you’ve forgotten theirs. Otherwise, they might quickly one-up you before you finish your sentence with a: “Oh, you don’t remember me? I remember you ninjacolin!”

You can’t have that! So, step one.. SAY YOUR NAME QUICK.. that way, they can’t prove that they did in fact know your name in advance, which they probably didn’t anyway.. they’re left looking really stupid if they try to say: “Oh, yea, I totally remembered the name you just reminded me of.” (pff, liar)

So, yea.. getting your name out there quickly puts you back on even ground.. unless you believe they really did know your name.. that’s why you have to be quick.. gotta trick yourself if no-one else.

I would recommend: “Hey, I’m Ninja! We met before, right? What was your name?”

JLeslie's avatar

Because you have to make sure you are on even ground ~.

Why is that so important? I don’t care if the other person remembered my name, good for them. Sounds like some sort of Alpha male concern. I really need to go live on a small island.

Mimishu1995's avatar

First, I still talk to them like I’ve met them before, but try not to mention names. Then I try to borrow something from them, something that can tell me their name, saying it catches my eyes.

I often forget names. I can even forget I’ve met anyone before, so this trick saves me from any embarrassment.

hominid's avatar

I apologize, ask for their name, and warn them that I will ask them the next time we meet as well.

jca's avatar

I give a big smile and say “Hey! So good to see you! How are you?” and just hope the subject of their name doesn’t come up as we chat about other things.

I work for an organization that represents over 3,000 people so between my personal life (school, home, etc) and work, it’s impossible to remember everyone.

Brian1946's avatar

I consult this list of what other people would do and pick the one that best applies to the specific situation. ;-)

Otherwise, I have a PHd in ventriloquism. This training has given me the skill to imitate the ringing of my phone, and I use that as an excuse to extricate myself from the situation.

If the person mentions your name in their greeting, a third and seldom used option is to deny that the name with which they greeted you is yours, and then correct them using a similar-sounding alias.


Unrecognized acquaintance: Hey Brian.

Me: My name is Ryan. Do you have some form of identification to prove who you are?

JLeslie's avatar

Do any of you mind if someone you don’t see often forgets your name? What’s the big deal about asking their name and offering up your own name again in case they might not remember your name either? I always thought it was an act of politeness and etiquette to give your own name again.

In fact, you can just give your own name and hope the other person follows suit, but if they like the “upper hand” they might just not do it I guess. If someone comes up to me and says, “hello, we met before, my name is Gail.” I would respond by saying, “yes, so nice to see you, I’m JL.” I think it’s even better to just come out and ask for their name and offer your own.

I don’t always do it mind you. If I’m going to talk to them for a brief moment and not see them again for 5 years I might not bother. If they are actually in my social circles or work circles and I will bump into them again and again, or if I am going to wind up likely talking to them for an extended period of time that day, I’d ask their name.

I have to assume a lot of people actually do get offended or insulted if someone doesn’t remember their name if so many people are afraid to ask.

Pachy's avatar

I’ve dealt with this annoying issue all my life—especially when bumping into a co-worker outside the office—and I used to get embarrassed about it. No more. Now I just use the age card like my mom did in later years and mumble something about having a senior moment. Sometimes I borrow the phrase my mom used in her later years (which I think must be a southern thing). She’d say to the person very sweetly, “You know, I can’t just quite call your name.”

janbb's avatar

“I know we’ve met but I’m not always good at remembering names. I’m Jan.” (Same as Gail and JLeslie.)

longgone's avatar

I’m horrible with names and faces. I say so, names are exchanged, and all is good.

Uasal's avatar

“fancy running into you here, person who I happened to share a classroom with for five years or so. I’ve completely repressed high school, and my memory of you with it. What’s your name?”

I’d like to say this has never happened, but I’d be lying. I’m not even that old yet.

ninjacolin's avatar

Sorry for all these other answers, @AshlynM, mine was clearly the one for winning the name game. Stay sharp!

(Way to bring genitalia into it, @JLeslie! It’s just pure evil genius regardless of sex! Harrumph!)

JLeslie's avatar

@ninjacolin A few days ago I saw that old clip of Clinton, Arafat, and Barak at Camp David where Arafat and Barak physically “wrestle” to go last through the door. Can’t let the other guy be seen as the stronger one. Oy. How can there be peace, friendliness, and teamwork between people who are so preoccupied with being the one with more power.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I often “stall for time” with such vague banalities as “How are you?” or “What’s new?” And half the time they will either give me an answer that trips a reference switch in my addled brain, or the rusty gears in my head will match the face with a name. If this doesn’t do it, then I just confess to cluelessness, and the “nameless” face will almost always immediately tell me their name without hesitation or any indication of offense.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I tell them the truth and sometimes after a laugh they tell me the same, that they forgot my name as well.

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