It can happen to anyone anywhere. In the business world, we meet and greet so many individuals that we often forget names.
A common problem people have is putting a face to a name or the other way around.
When we are in a professional setting, surrounded by our colleagues and business associates, it can be very embarrassing to forget names. It is human nature, to ask direct questions and it is the best way around a situation.
However, when someone you cannot recognize asks you a question, you need to be polite. For one, you have forgotten the name of the person; second, you are asking them who they are.
If you have a hard time trying to remember a person whether it is in a business setting or personal life, these tips and tricks will help you in avoiding asking the inevitable question “Do I know you?”.
Yes, It Is Rude
Saying directly, “Do I know you” can offend anyone. Such a question is rude and abrupt. Especially if it is asked in front of other colleagues. Using kinder words with a longer sentence can help you sound polite. It is always a good idea to add an apology to your question because it is you have a hard time remembering.
For example, instead of saying “Do I know you?” say:
“I am sorry, have we met before?”
You can also say:
“I apologize but I am having a hard time remembering you.”
These sentences sound better and make your counterpart feel more confident.
The following tricks will help you jog your memory and you will not have to ask the question of whether you know a person. You will remember the name of the person and where you know them from, in an instant.
Forgetting a Name
It is very common for someone to forget a name and when you ask them again right after they introduced themselves can be embarrassing for you.
The simple trick here is to ask for their business card. If they have already given you one, ask them for another one saying something like, “Mind if I get another one? I seem to have lost in the shuffle and it would be great to stay in touch!”.
If that does not seem to be the appropriate approach for you, consider introducing them to your friend or coworker. Allow them to meet and exchange their names, this way you will know the name without even asking.
Forgetting a name, a short while after being told is more common than one might think.
Using the Surroundings
Look at the opportunities that you are surrounded with.
If you happen to be at a conference, use the nametags. Make casual conversations by looking at the descriptions and sneaking a look at the name of the person. This is a sure way of getting what you want.
The same goes for other occasions like when you need to ask for a number. Rather than saving their number on your phone, ask them to punch it in for you. This way, you will get their full name and you are less likely to forget it.
These tricks help you avoid the impolite question of whether you know them. At the end of the conversation, make sure that you tell them it was great to meet them and tell them your name again.
Ask them their name again to close the conversation or be honest and tell them their name slipped out of your mind.
If you are an outgoing person and have no difficulty being friendly with others, just outright tell them that you have forgotten their name. Rest assured that many people are on the same boat and understand that it can be hard to put a name to a face you have only met once.
Tell them that you have difficulty remembering names and that you are sorry for bothering them by asking again.
The Etiquettes of Meeting
When you meet someone for the first time at a formal meeting, a few etiquettes must be followed. These can be new for some, while others are already in practice. Everyone expects a greeting of respect and it is only kind to do so.
So, when you meet someone whether in a business meeting, at a party, or casually during a fun activity, greet with kindness.
Never say “Do I know you?” when someone comes to you and starts a casual conversation.
Instead, jump into the conversation and share your opinions. There is no need to ask for names or question their motives in a casual conversation.
It is just two people casually talking about a football game, an activity in place in the surroundings, or the business world. The conversations of course depend on the situation and a person would only strike one with you on some common ground.
Humans go through the same life experiences in general. Finding the right person at the right time is what these casual talks are all about.
Nevertheless, when a stranger meets you on the sidewalk and starts talking treat them with respect. Answer questions that are necessary and you feel safe about it. Talk about what they do and be polite. Saying, “Do I know you?” will sound mean and the person will step down from being nice to you.
Meeting Business Associates
When you meet someone at a meeting with other business partners or representatives of agencies, you will see many new faces. You may not know all of them, but chances are they know you already.
When agencies prepare to work with companies, they do their homework well. They know who they are meeting and what to expect from each individual.
When someone greets you before the meeting, it is evident that he or she knows you and is warming up before the pitch. Here you need to be kind to them and make them feel safe to have access to you.
Being warm and welcoming will help them speak to you with ease. This is especially important if you are meeting someone as his or her client or a junior manager.
Employees and business partners who are under your stature feel intimidated already when approaching people like you. It is kind of your end to make them feel welcome and not scared.
Asking politely if you know them will help the conversation take flight.
This small chat also helps you get an insight into whom you will be dealing with in the meeting to follow. Therefore, it is a win-win for all.
Furthermore, when you make a statement, always be clear. Using the right words, say what you mean to them. Making a statement that may come off as an insult will only make the representatives nervous.
Another skill that adds to your business personality is making introductions. If you are organizing, a meeting between two parties take the responsibility to make the introductions for all.
Generally, you will introduce a junior manager to a senior manager and a colleague to a client. Being introduced to someone else shows that they are being shown respect.
It is always a great idea to add a small fact about each person while making the introduction. This helps in each party remembering the names and the person in general. Make sure that the facts you include are something that they are proud of, or simply something that they have in common.
“Mr. Robby Brown meet Dr. Jane Thompson. Dr. Thompson worked in South Africa last year on child development issues. Moreover, Mr. Brown here has worked in the subcontinent two years ago for an NGO working on women health.”
This shows how each person is given respect for the work they have done recently. This lays the groundwork needed for the two people to get started on a conversation.
Another thing to take into account is to keep the introductions formal and avoid using nicknames. Use first names if you are on good terms with both the parties, otherwise using a salutation is the way to go.
Last but the most important part of this article is introducing yourself. The last thing is for you to want someone to ask you if they know you.
Whenever you introduce yourself, say your name with confidence.
If you have a unique name and people find it difficult to pronounce, repeat as often as necessary. Spell it out for others so they understand what you mean. Your body gestures should imitate your confidence so when you shake hands, it should be firm and short. Do not linger as it can show a lack of confidence.
Making eye contact is very important for making that first impression. A person who avoids eye contact means that they have something to hide or are simply shy. A trait not good to show off confidence.
Lastly, smile. A smile shows that you are approachable and people can feel safe with you. You are available for people to have access to you. Therefore, even if you forget someone’s name or who they are, a smile can help both of you to start over.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.