Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Tips for Remembering Names, Faces & More
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Tips For Remembering Names & Faces
How do I remember a name? I am not a name dropper and am hopelessly bad about remembering names. Most of my friends and colleagues seem to be really good at putting names with faces. Is there a way to be socially more adept at remembering people's names?
~Nameless, Washington, DC
Forgetting someone's name is perfectly normal. Don't feel badly when you don't remember their name, because it will only make it worse if you dwell on having forgotten it. You can eliminate the awkwardness by cheerfully asking either someone else in the room or asking the person directly.
We tend to remember a face, occupation, hobby or sport, more easily than a given name. Recalling someone's dog's name if it's catchy, as in Petey (the adorable 'Little Rascals' pit bull terrier) may come to you faster than if the dog's owner's name is, say, Jerome Witherspoon.
When in doubt, you can say, "Aren't you a golfer?" -- that will obviously get you off the hook, because you've remembered something they're known for by asking a question and changing the subject of your having forgotten his name.
Counterintuitively, many researchers believe that ordinary names are not necessarily easier to recall than unusual ones.
Professionals -- and social climbers -- keep reminding people of their own name by introducing themselves at every opportunity, even to those who may have forgotten their name. Concentrate on being an excellent listener and echo back the person's name to him to make sure you got it -- and that you got it right.
But that's not even good enough, you have to actually repeat his name during your conversation several times and end with,"It was good to meet up with you again, Grayson." (Or, "It was good to meet you, Grayson.")
Most highly successful people never assume everyone remembers their name. They'll come forward sticking out their right hand to shake yours and say their name, "Grayson Jones," whether they're just meeting you or they've talked to you dozens of times. During a conversation you may learn that Grayson has three sons and, also, make a notation in your mind that he has grey hair. Take a snapshot image of him in your mind remembering something about his speech, posture, attractiveness, or even the way he dresses -- in a grey suit -- to make a connection.
The 2011 study, Memory for Proper Names, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, found that in all age groups, memory for names of places, occupations and hobbies was far better than memory for proper names.
1. Jobs: 69%
2. Hobbies: 68%
3. Home towns: 62%
4. First names: 31%
5. Last names: 30%
Nicknames are more easily remembered than given names, because they usually have an endearing meaning. A possible story behind the name, the person's features, or occupation can make learning and remembering easier than when the name is John Smith. Unless of course, if you register it in your brain as being a simple and easy name to remember.
We are more apt to recall that a person's occupation is a baker before we recall that his name is Josh Baker. Or, she rides horseback and her last name is Ridder. Make a memorable association in your mind. You have to consciously learn a name.
Always greet a person by his name. Don't worry about pronouncing it incorrectly; the person will correct you. You'll repeat it back, which will help you remember. You can always ask for a business card and read off the name on the card -- the polite thing to do for several reasons. Business cards do serve a purpose.
How do you know you need to remember someone's name the first time you meet them? You don't. Unless you're the maitr'd of a renowned restaurant. But remember that studies of neuroimage scans don't lie, the brain reacts positively -- jumps with happiness -- when hearing it's name.
Body Odor Conversation Etiquette
Is there a conversation etiquette for telling the person in the cubicle next me that she has bad body odor? My coworker has stinky personal hygiene. A couple of the other women in our set of cubicles and I tried giving her sweet-smelling toiletries but she doesn't get the hint. In the winter the problem gets worse, because her sweaters, tops and jackets smell really gross. When she takes off her boots to change into her shoes, the ugly scent stinks up our space. How can we tell her with sensitivity?
~Anonymous, Chicago, IL
In private, gently chat up your coworker, saying that she might not be aware but you've noticed that her body has an alienating body odor. It is more than likely that she doesn't realize she smells badly. Then add, that you wondered if it was a health issue? Or was she taking a medication that causes it? Perhaps, it's simpler: She needs to try a new dry cleaner.
It isn't necessary to bring in other opinions, because it will only embarrass her further and she'll hate you even more. Confide in her that you've found you simply have to shower and put on deodorant every day, as well as fresh clothing. Be happily enthusiastic when telling her you've discovered a great new spray deodorant (Dove, Weleda, or Aesop) that makes you smell amazingly fresh and it actually works. You may see her face drop but you're confiding in her.
It might be hard to believe, but many people with bad body odor aren't able to detect the smell emanating from their armpits, feet and/or scalp. Or that the problem can be solved by treating the bacteria that produces the odor.
Thyroid disease and carcinoid syndrome can cause excessive sweating, and so can medicines such as antidepressants. Washing the armpits, private parts, and feet daily can reduce the number of bacteria that act upon them. Some of us have more sweat and oil producing glands than others, and, in fact, it is a fairly common problem. Shaving your armpits reduces the bacterial breeding ground. Washing clothing thoroughly is essential. Never wear yesterday's clothes because they already smell of yesterday's perspiration. Forget about wearing boots without clean socks or tights.
Aside from suggesting botox or keyhole surgery to kill the nerves in the armpits, recommending one of the new nonaerosol deodorant sprays is the nicest thing you can do. Even if you have to convince her that Weleda deodorant spray, Dove dry spray antiperspirant, and Aesop deodorant comply with federal regulations. And that the water and alcohol in the spray evaporate instantly leaving only the scented essential oils on the skin.
Her odor could be caused by an undiagnosed medical condition or a side effect of a medication. She won't change her hygiene routine until she understands that she has a problem, unless she already knows and doesn't care because she is focused on a far greater worry that could possibly make her depressed. You should definitely share your concerns with a member of the company's Human Resources team in the hope that they will intervene.
Prepare yourself for the fact that telling her may irreparably ruin your relationship. But you won't know until you try. I always carry sugarless breath mints in my bag and once before going into a party I offered a friend with bad breath a mint as I was taking one myself, and she's been using them ever since. Confiding in your coworker about your own awareness of your hygiene could make her more sympathetic toward you, as well as help her to help herself.
Be honest, all you really want to do is clear the air.
Conversation Etiquette & You're Welcome
As you know, the Northeast has been struck with a record-breaking winter. It’s cold. It’s snowy. I haven’t formally signed up with the state volunteer group that provides help with snow removal for the elderly or financially strapped. Instead I’ve been shoveling out my neighbor, who would have reached out for help, if I weren’t providing it. Every busybody on my street has noticed, and mentioned my work to shovel them out. What can I say to save my neighbor’s face? How should I respond to their comments?
~The Good Snowmeritan, Providence, RI
Traditional conversation etiquette may no longer come into play in situations such as this when cynical neighbors are cranky about your generosity.
What you say to the busybody questioning your winter workout is this: “My neighbor thanked me and I responded by saying you’re welcome.” There is nothing wrong with performing a good deed — a favor — while getting a bit of exercise and a few rays of sunshine. Calling your benevolence your winter workout is as good of an answer as any.
Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi." If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location.
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