Bad With Names? Read This

I’m bad with names.

You’ve heard the cliché. Now meet the guy with the problem, and read about his solutions.

For this guy with that problem, it’s kind of a big deal. I’m a leader at work, which means frequent interaction with dozens of coworkers across multiple groups and functions on a regular basis. My job also involves relationship building with hundreds of people outside my company.

And most of the time, no matter how hard I try, I can’t remember their names. It’s like that thing Brad Pitt has with faces, except mine is real, and it’s with names.

I can't see your face. All I see is mine, everywhere I go. The world's better that way.
I can’t see your face. All I see is mine, everywhere I go. The world’s better that way.

I’ve tried all the usual tricks. Here are some that I’ve developed especially for my acute case of namenesia:

  • Call everyone “sir” or “ma’am.” You’ll sound really polite if the person is older than you, and if the person is younger than you, it’s kinda funny. I can pull this off due to my lingering Southern Ohio twang; folks assume I’m a bit of a Southerner and was raised with manners. Fools!
  • Never say “nice to meet you.” It’s always “great to see you.” Instead of thinking “This asshole doesn’t remember me or my name,” they’ll think, “Wow, this charismatic person is genuinely happy to see me. I should shower him/her with praise/money.”
  • Refer to all small children as “you cute little scamp.” Keep it unisex. All the Vines and Facebook videos of my damn friends with damn kids run together. I love your kids; I just can’t keep track of who they are.
  • Only hang out with recovering alcoholics. They tell you who they are every time they say something (“I’m so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic”), and they don’t drink your hooch. They are perfect friends.

Of course, the other party may already be on to you, rendering these ingenious tactics useless. People can sense your false sincerity; they can literally hear your rusty mental gears turning as you attempt to conjure their appellation.

In which case, you’re just an asshole. Welcome to the club.

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