By Lindsey Tolino
The first time I heard it was when I was in middle school. On the first day of school, our teacher said it with little emotional engagement. He coupled it with a remark that at some point, maybe a few weeks in, he would eventually have everyoneÂs down. I remember it rubbing me the wrong way even then.
ÂIÂm terrible with names.Â
IÂve always felt like someone devalues me when they say it. They donÂt mean to. They are citing an insufficiency in themselves. I know that.
But when someone tells you that theyÂre terrible with names, they are essentially saying that you arenÂt important enough to remember your name.
I know this because you know whose names I donÂt forget? My husbandÂs. My dogÂs. My familyÂs. My friendsÂ. People I want to get to know. People whose work I extol.
And just so you know, IÂm terrible with names.
IÂm usually selfishly worrying about whatÂs in my teeth and I donÂt catch what you said. ÂDid she say Sheryl or Carol?Â I hate when I do that.
However, I shouldnÂt tell you that IÂm terrible with names simply because IÂm bad at listening to you. If I do tell you that, it’s like I think that itÂs an acceptable character trait. And I donÂt think it is. I want to get better at it. I want to listen well and show people I value them.
Though forgetting names shouldnÂt be acceptable, it does show that youÂre a normal human if you struggle with it. But you donÂt want to be seen as normal, right? You want to be remarkable, so donÂt identify yourself with the clichÃ© of being terrible with names.
If you canÂt remember someoneÂs name, simply tell them how you remember them, but that you canÂt recall their name. It will at least make them feel valued that you remembered them in some capacity and most people understand that names can be evasive at times.
If you just met them a few moments ago, you can simply apologize and ask for their name again. Just donÂt qualify the lapse in memory by saying youÂre terrible with names. No one wants to hear that.
We all want to know that we are valued. So letÂs not minimize each other by saying ÂIÂm terrible with names.Â
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