Have you ever been in that situation where you meet someone but can't quite put a name to a face?

You could always just be honest and ask them

"I'm terrible with names, can you remind me again?"

However there are some useful things to say and do to get you out of that tricky situation.

To help explain the different techniques, here's a key:

Person X the person who's name you've forgot

Person Y a colleague you know.

Person Z a colleague you don't know / haven't met before.

HIGH Higher risk technique, not life or death, but needs an element of control.

MED Medium risk technique

LOW Lower risk technique

Check the email list

Either in advance or in the moment, have a glance through today's invite or from the time you think you last met. Chances are their name will be on there. Or you can narrow it down a little - LOW

Ask a colleague

An obvious one, ask a colleague (PERSON Y) directly or a more subtle way is:

Ask Person Y - "Do you know everyone here?" - Person Y may then mention people's names they know (including the one you forgot). Or they may then introduce reintroduce you! - MED

Listen carefully

When people are introducing themselves listen out for names or clues! - LOW

Ask everyone

"I wanted to check that everyone knows each other, shall we introduce ourselves first." - HIGH

This could backfire if they ask you to name everyone, so take control beforehand for example

A - Introduce yourself to someone who you don't know (PERSON Z) first, then move to others you don't know, leaving the person you forgot to the end. - MED

The objective here is to listen out for the name of the person you forgot, then use once you approach them

B - Say "I'll start, my name is PHIL" then turn to anyone, even the person you forgot! They'll have to introduce themselves - LOW

C - Shall we do a round robin? - LOW

Sneak a peak

Take a glance at an ID badge, anything with their name on - LOW (unless you get caught!)

Take the lead

Here you introduce Person X to Person Z

OPTION 1 - If you don't know Person Z ask them "Have you two met?" THEN say nothing, pause to allow them to introduce themselves. - MED

OPTION 2 - If you know Person Y say to Person X "Have you met [Person Y]?" THEN wait for Person X to introduce themselves to Person Y. - MED

This could backfire if they wait for you to introduce, so a 3-5 second pause is needed

About the author

phil laviolettephil laviolette

Hi!, I'm Phil LaViolette, Founder and Owner of evalu8d. I created resourcily to share hints, tips and resources I've collected over 20 years of training and coaching, across lots of industries and at all levels. I hope that, even in a small way, you gain from the tools I share!
Phil