You’re at the local mall, chatting with you spouse, when up walks a man who obviously recognizes you. “Hi, doc,” he says, “it’s great to see you,” and shakes your hand. Then he waits for you to introduce him to your spouse. But there’s a problem: You don’t remember his name! What do you do?
A key to being a successful and well-liked doctor is making people feel important. And there’s no better way to make someone feel important than to remember his or her name.
Remembering someone’s name tells them that they were special enough to have made a real impression on you. And saying someone’s name puts them at ease.
But, if you’re like many, remembering names or matching faces to names isn’t your strong suit. If this is a problem you experience from time to time, what can you do? The following suggestions, called “help codes,” are signals to your spouse to help you out of a tight spot (such as when you don’t know someone’s name).
Take a few minutes with your spouse (or friend, partner, etc.) to read over the following codes and decide which ones would work best for you. Then, memorize and practice them. This will help eliminate many potentially embarrassing moments that can occur in your life.
The first code is a coughing spell. When confronted with a situation in which you don’t remember someone’s name, cough a few times to alert your spouse. Then say, “Hi, it’s great to see you.”
Then, turn to your partner and say, “I want to introduce you to my wife.” At that point, your spouse should immediately introduce herself, “Hello, my name is Cathy,” and immediately ask, “And what’s your name?” Then, she can follow up with a question like, “How do you know my husband?”
This opens up a conversation and allows everyone to get to know one another. It might even jog your memory about the man and his family. This works well as long as you and your spouse have a prearranged under- standing of how to make the best out of this potentially awkward situation.
The second code is a phrase that starts with “I forgot …,” such as “I forgot to bring my files from work.” The words, “I forgot,” are the code.
When you meet someone in public and don’t know their name, you can say, “I forgot the -” Then, turn to the person whose name you can’t remember and say, “Hi, it’s great seeing you again.”
The code phrase should prompt your spouse to introduce herself: “Hi, I’m Cathy … and you are?” At this point the other person is obligated to give his or her name.
The third code is your cell phone. When you meet someone and can’t remember their name, immediately pull out your phone and start talking into it as if you are calling your office: “I forgot my patient files.”· Or say, “Excuse me, I’ve got to get this call, I forgot something at the office.” When your spouse hears the codes, she should immediately hold out her hand and introduce herself saying, “Hi, I’m Cathy … and you are?” After the person gives their name you can then take over the conversation.
The fourth code also uses a cell phone· as a prop. When you meet someone whose name you can’t remember, say something general like “Hi, good to see you. How are you doing?” Then after a little small chat say, “I’d like to be able to contact you.” Hand your phone to the person and have them put their name and telephone number in your address book. Then you can read their name, carry on the conversation, and make introductions if needed.
The fifth code is used when you meet another doctor or professional but don’t remember their name. Say something general like “Hi, good to see you. How are you doing?” Then, after a small chat, say you’d like to be able to contact the person and ask for their business card.
In some cases, you might meet someone who knows you and you don’t remember their name and your spouse is not with you. You can try the phone or business card code above, or just jump into conversation. Talk to them like you’ve known them forever. Keep the individual talking and eventually they’ll say something that will jog your memory.
When you are going to a party or a social event, find someone you know. Strike up a conversation with them and simultaneously scan the room for people you recognize, but don’t know their name, and ask your friend who they are.
You may have a “help code” already, or you might think of some that suit you better than the ones mentioned above. The most important thing is to prepare your strategy in advance.