Sunday, July 01, 2007

What's in a name?

And why can't I remember them?

I have always had the toughest time remembering names, especially in situations where I'm meeting a lot of people - like say, a conference. The name tag hasn't been invented that is large enough or well-positioned enough to be much of a help to me. I'm always caught trying to discreetly read the name, but it always looks like, well, I'm trying to read the name.

I've toyed with the usual tricks: repeating the name after someone introduces themselves and mnemonic devices (which often get me into trouble), but nothing seems to work. Faces, I remember. I just can't seem to hook a name to 'em.

Doubly-worse are non-Anglo names. I'm in Los Angeles attending the Episcopal AsiaAmerica Convocation, and you can imagine the time I'm having with names of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian, Filipino origins. By not remembering a name, it appears that I don't feel the person is important, but that's not the case at all.

Any suggestions?

10 comments:

Chris said...

Wish I could help.

Every Thursday afternoon I help out in the library at Thomas' school and week after week I have to ask the kids for their names. Then, just as I'm beginning to remember who one or two of them are, it's July and the summer holidays. Come September I'm back to square one with a new lot of little cherubs.

The Head Teacher has got it sorted; she knows the names of everyone in the new intake by the second day. Very impressive!

Last night we bumped into someone we haven't seen for ages. I said 'Hello, Peter, how are you?' His name is Mike.

Winston said...

Suggestions:
1. Grow younger.
2. Move back south where everybody is named Smith or Wesson or Jones, and we all answer to "hey, you".

chux said...

Winston's comment about grow youngerwont help. I've had this same problem all my life.

I love and care for people, but names leave me. I will remember the conversations i've had with poeple the stories they've shared. I just wont remember their names.

It gets embarrassing too, other people seem to remember my name. i recon thats because i've got an easy name to remember.

I feel for you on this one ...........excuse me i've forgotten ur name again :)

Anonymous said...

Thinking of creating my own web site "Long Johns.com." What say ye?

And that moose head was real - it stunk to high heaven.

Us-uns and the Nashes are headed to Montana. See you on the flip-flop.

Love,
Cuz

Anonymous said...

After all those years as a rector's wife,I actually have a couple of suggestions! Tell the person you're worried you'll mispronounce their name. This causes them to say it without embarrassment to you, and gives you an extra chance to try to learn it. Another passable strategy is not to even fool with names-- just start out with a big "How nice to see you again!"--don't even try to look at their nametag till you've conversed for a little while. --Carey

Anonymous said...

I love Carey's suggestion of asking the person to pronounce their own name in fear you might not pronounce it correctly. With my luck I would do this to Bill, Bob, or Ann. Just how do you cover yourself after that?
I just use the old Southernisms, Honey, Sweetie, Hey,fellow/cuz, etc. Of course the PC crowd won't approve. Heeeeeheee
Happy 4th of July!!
Big Bro

Chris said...

Happy 4th July, um... er.., oh yes - Mary

Love from Chris

MaryB said...

I do use the "How are you, guy/sir/girlfriend/lady" all the time, but I think people are beginning to see through it!

I think everyone should just have their first names tattooed in big letters across their foreheads. It would simplify things.

And thanks, Chris - what a good "Independence Day" Sport you are! ;-)

Joy Des Jardins said...

When my twin girls were little and my husband couldn't tell which one he was talking to, he used to say..."I bet you can't spell your name...show me."

Hmmmm, I suppose that would seem silly to anyone older than 4 and over 3 feet tall huh?

MaryB said...

Oh, I don't know, Joy. I love the idea of asking people to spell their names. For anyone over the age of 12, consider it a sobriety/drug test. Anyone over 50, consider it a memory test. (And I suspect anyone between 4 and 12 will just think we're idiots!)