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Here’s What You Can Do If You’ve Forgotten Someone’s Name

Here’s What You Can Do If You’ve Forgotten Someone’s Name
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Don’t you hate it when you see a familiar face, but can’t remember their name no matter how hard you try? These awkward moments can be tricky to navigate (not to mention embarrassing), so it’s best to have a back-up plan in place. If you ever have the terrible realization that you’ve forgotten someone’s name, react in one of these five ways.

Own it.

If it makes you feel any better, most people are just as bad at remembering names as you are. I wouldn’t even be writing this article if that wasn’t the case! That said, you still don’t want to blunder through the situation like a rank amateur. Own it with confidence by saying something like, “Please forgive me, but I have to see a person about three times before I’m able to remember their name for good. Would you care to remind me?”

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Don’t panic.

If you’re not confident enough to be so forward about it, that’s okay, too. No matter how you choose to react, the important thing is to stay calm. Worrying about it will just make it harder for you to maintain eye contact and actively listen. A person probably won’t even notice if you don’t use their name during an exchange, but they will definitely notice if you’re so stressed about it that you pay attention to what they are saying.

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Helpful hints.

I have to confess that I forget things pretty quickly, so I like to give myself clues that might help me remember a person’s name as soon as I hear it. For example, if I went to a party and met a guy named Harry who mentioned owning a black stallion, I would silently tell myself, “Harry rides horses.” I would also make a mental note of any distinct characteristics about his appearance that jump out to me (it would be awfully convenient if Harry also wore hipster glasses).

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Positive spin.

The three tips that followed this one are meant to be used when you’ve forgotten someone’s name who you met very recently, or have only seen on a few occasions spread over a long period of time. I would NOT suggest using those approaches if you’ve forgotten someone’s name that you really shouldn’t have, i.e. you’ve been going to the same school or working at the same employer for many months now — in that case, you need to be more delicate, because they might get upset if you don’t put a positive spin on it. If they are an interesting person you would like to know better, you could use this opportunity to take your relationship to the next level by saying something like, “Hey, I can’t believe I don’t have your phone number yet! Here, I don’t trust myself to spell your name right, so I’m going to let you type it.” 

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Introduce a friend.

This situation is much easier to diffuse if you happen to be with a friend who (what’s his or her name?!) hasn’t met. Without missing a beat, march right up and say something like, “Hi, nice to see you! I’d like you to meet my friend Harriet.” Of course, they will then proceed to go through the pleasantries like anyone would when meeting a new person, and you’ll have the opportunity to hear their name again without even having to bring up the fact that you forgot it.

How do you react if you’ve forgotten someone’s name? Share your tips (or fun stories) in the comments. If you’d like to spare your friends some awkward social encounters, make sure to click the share button!

Featured photo credit: Hello, my name is anonymous/Quinn Dombrowski via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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