Our names are our identity. How we spell it, how It’s pronounced, how it appears on papers, our signatures. It’s who we are. We attach ourselves to it. Feel important when others remember it. Yet, it’s also the first thing we forget within moments of meeting someone new.
Recently while walking my daughter to school, I introduced a neighbor to another mom who joined our cavalcade and asked, “Do you know each other?” and then confidently said, “Cathy, this is Dawn, Dawn this is Cathy.”
Dawn spoke up instantly and advised, “I’m Katie”.
Instant mortification set in, especially for my very confident knowledge of her name during the introduction moments ago.
After arriving to school and sending our wee ones off for the day, I apologized to Dawn – now Katie, and said, “I always thought it was Dawn. I don’t’ know where I got that from.” Her response, “It’s ok. The only reason I know your name is because your husband says, “Holly this” and “Holly that” when he’s walking your daughter to school.”
We did however marvel that it’s common to live on a street and know a dog’s name and not the owners.
Yet, the irony of the situation is that we all do this. Whether a neighbor or a business colleague, we put all this pressure on ourselves because we feel as if we cannot admit it if we don’t know the individual’s name. We’ve all performed the introduction, “hey, this my friend (insert name)” and leaving it hang in the air for the other person to introduce themselves.
My husband told me that his cousin’s roommate was dating a guy named Craig and he called him Greg for years. YEARS!!! They told him five years after the fact. His reaction? “You waited five years to tell me your name??!!?”
We put this pressure on ourselves. Why is it awkward to admit, “I’m sorry, I don’t recall your name?” Or simply, “My apologies. Faces are my strength and I’m working on the name thing. I know you. I know your face, yet I’ve forgotten your name. I’m focused, and I will remember this time.”
Yes, I too am guilty. I’ll often focus on the dog. That cute, cuddly, little, scruffy guy with the wiggly tail. I have to tell myself, “Give eye contact to the human. Introduce yourself.”
We are so distracted when we first meet people. If we took a moment to focus outward, name recollection wouldn’t be an issue. I’m frequently asking people, “is that Cathy with a C or a K? Is that Ted with a T?”
Because to that person, their name is their identity. You remembering their name makes them like you, your personal brand, even more.