The simple way to avoiding this social gaff

  • How to remember names – a few tips to try
  • A disaster tale! How to solve this embarrassing social problem
  • How to make sure that you are ready to socially integrate once more!

Lockdown has had another unforeseen consequence – I have forgotten everyone’s name!

I see people walking past the house and then spend the day trying to remember who they are!

It has made me worry about how I will be able to return to normal social function.

Picture the scene….

At some time in the future you’re at a big barbeque with plenty of guests. As you mingle you come across a friend of a friend.

This is someone you sort of know to speak to on occasion… but you wouldn’t necessarily have them stored in your phone or address book.

You were told their name, ages ago. But you’ve since forgotten it.

You’ve talked to this person on too many occasions since to suddenly ask for their name. So you carry on chatting, desperately trying to dredge up their name from the depths of your ageing mind.

Then disaster strikes…

Along comes someone else you know. They join your conversation. They look at the ‘friend of a friend’. The ‘friend of a friend’ looks back.

Then they BOTH look at you, expecting you to make the polite introduction.

‘This is Dave,’ you say, gesturing to the person whose name you already know. ‘And this…’ You gesture towards the ‘friend of a friend’, ‘this is…. this is…. this is….’

You glug heavily at your wine, praying that he’ll say his name. You wish you could click your fingers, like the girl on Bewitched, and disappear.

Instead, you’re forced to pretend that someone has just shouted out your name.

‘Ah, that’s my wife. Sorry…MUST DASH!’

I can see it happening to me as ‘normal’ social life recommences..even if it’s not now, there will come a time.

How to avoid the horror of bad memory

I don’t know if this has happened to you already, but that I have to go and learn some techniques to put a stop to it once and for all.

After a bit of research I have some good news.

What’s really exciting is that you CAN genuinely improve your memory by using a few tried and tested techniques. A lot of what we call ‘bad memory’ isn’t actually a physical or mental problem.

It’s just you’re missing a few tricks that other people use naturally and without thinking.

Learning how to sharpen the brain box is just a matter of finding a technique which works for you – here’s the one that I am staring to employ now.

What you should do when you meet someone is the following…

  • First, PAUSE to digest what the name is. Don’t get distracted by other peoples conversation or trying to get a sneak preview of what’s on the BBQ.
  • Secondly, if you’re not sure you quite got the name, immediately ask again. It’s better to seem a bit deaf at first than rude or stupid later.
  • Thirdly, link their name to an image or sound. The more comical or striking the better. This is because the brain remembers images and sounds far better than isolated names that have no context.

For instance, there was a guy I talked to the other day when walking the dog. He also had a dog and introduced himself as ‘Martin’.

Rather than thinking – as I used to do – ‘Oh, I’ll never remember that,’ I immediately thought of the image of a house martin dancing on his dog’s back, to the tune of the House Martins 1980s hit ‘Happy Hour’. In my head, all of them were singing the song.

I know, it sounds ludicrous, but it really worked.

Next time I met him, the tune by the House Martins popped immediately into my head, and I saw the dancing house martin. I wasn’t even unsure about it, I KNEW his name.

That’s just how my brain works, which I know might not be the case for everyone, but there are loads of ways you could do this.

It might be that you link to something more physical about your new acquaintance – maybe something noticeable in their appearance.

In the case of the dog walker, he also had a strong central parting in his hair, so I could have tried a rhyme, like ‘Partin’ Martin’.

Next time I met I would have struggled to remember his name, but I would have remembered that there was something significant about his head. At first glance of his parting, I would have remembered the rhyme.

It doesn’t really matter what image you choose. It only has to make sense to you. Once you lock a rhyme, tune, remembered song or crazy image, you are unlikely to ever forget the name.

And a final tip…

To make doubly sure, try and use the other person’s name a few times in your first conversation. Saying it out loud back to them will help ‘lock’ the name in your mind.

This has a doubly good effect. Because if you’ve ever read How To Win Friends and Influence People (which sadly I have) you’ll know that people LOVE hearing their name spoken back to them.

It’s a win-win situation!

Of course, doing this kind of professional schmoozing at a social gathering is very impressive.

But beware of drinking too much wine and tripping face first into a table laden with salad. It can undo a lot of the good work.

Trust me, I’m a man who knows.

P.S. There is also a very good natural supplement which feeds the grey cells and helps in cognitive function – it’s called Phosphatidyl Serine and you can find out more about it from a previous newsletter [here.]