Have We Met Before? What to Do When You Cant Remember Who Yourre Talking To
You see him from across the room. You know him, but you can't remember how you know him. Now you have a problem: you want to break the ice but your uncertainty is holding you back. Uh oh, he's heading in your direction. What do you do?!
If you've ever been in this situation before, you know how uncomfortable it can get - especially if you really should know who the person is. What's more, it's not uncommon to evade those whom you cannot remember for the fear of embarrassment.
But your uncertainty shouldn't generate a "Please Don't Let This Person Talk To Me" attitude. That would hinder your approachability. People forget people everyday. But with the right attitude, questioning, conversational direction and communication tools, the following techniques will help you pinpoint who you're talking to without risking total embarrassment.
So don't feel bad when you blank on someone's name, occupation or the time when you first met. Remember: everyone's been there before. It's not the end of the world!
Iceberg Right Ahead
Listen for iceberg statements. These are key words, phrases or sentences under which 90% of the important information awaits your discovery. But be patient. And as soon as you hear that iceberg statement, follow it up with a probing question that will dive beneath the surface. In time, what you need to remember about someone will be revealed to you.
Know the Questions, Not the Answers
But beware! Don't get haunted by the "How Are You Ghost." He'll get you every time! Instead, ask open ended, not overly specific questions that probe for information. More often than not, your inquiry will empower them to open up and something will jar your memory.
For example, imagine that you can't remember where someone works. Simply ask her questions that allude to general scheduling like, "What's on tap for this week?" or "What projects are keeping you busy?" Another great topic that's bound to narrow down job possibilities is travel: "Any trips or travel plans coming up?"
Offer Free Information First
Therefore, if you need to know a specific fact about someone, offer your free information first. Make a reference to that which you seek to discover and follow it with an inquiry that will empower the other person to reveal the same. And because self-disclosure is reciprocal, you will hear key words and phrases that will restore your memory and rescue you from embarrassment.
Use a Third Party
Now, if someone across the room catches your eye but you can't seem to remember them, third parties are perfect for pre-conversation preparation. Before approaching the pseudo-stranger, find someone else you KNOW and ask them all about your forgotten friend. With a few simple questions, you will easily gain the knowledge to become more approachable so you can connect and communicate with anybody - even the people you forgot.
Depending on where you are, dozens of other props are useful for jarring your memory as well: nametags, promotional items, briefcases, table tents, etc. The point is that people remember that which appeals to their visual sense three times more than the other senses. So use props when you can!
Honesty is the Best Policy
First and foremost, DON'T say the word "forget." That will only make someone feel unimportant. It's less offensive when you use polite verbiage that downplays the idea of "forgetting" with such phrases as "Please remind me," "Could you help me with," "I'm terrible with remembering," and "It slipped my mind." People will be glad to offer the information you have misplaced in exchange for you admittance of a temporary brain poof.
I Know I Know You
© 2005 All Rights Reserved.
Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He helps people MAXIMIZE their approachability and become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at http://www.hellomynameisscott.com.
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