Culture: Conversation
"What the hell is his/her name?" signal   (+4)  [vote for, against]
Avoid embarassment at office parties.

It's the christmas party. I'm standing talking to a work colleague. I've known them for two months, and we've often talked, albeit briefly, as we've passed in the corridor each morning. Despite this, I have no idea of their name is. I feel that I've known them long enough for it to be rude to suddenly ask "Who are you?"

I now dread the moment that my girlfriend comes back from the bar, and says, "Aren't you going to introduce us?"

With the subtle "I don't know his/her name" signal, probably holding three fingers upto my shoulder or the like, I alert my girlfriend to the problem, and avoid the embarassment for any of us.

Upon spying another work colleague, I make the same signal to them. They take the hint, and join the conversation with a line like "Ah, I see you know Wilberforce, Bartholemew."

"Sure," I bluff. "Wilberforce and I have been pals for ages."
-- Fishrat, Dec 09 2003

How to remember names http://www.halfbake..._20remember_20names
[hippo, Oct 05 2004]

I like it, but wouldn't the person you were talking spot the signal? It'd have to be extremly directional to work...
-- cFish, Dec 09 2003


You say "What was your name again?". Wilberforce says "Wilberforce, of course". You say "Yes, yes. I know that. I meant your surname". Problem solved.
-- squeak, Dec 09 2003


Sneaky, squeaky. But what if Wilberforce wondered why you needed his surname, assumed that you were an agent who had rumbled his revenue scam, and promptly fed you to his crocodiles?
-- Fishrat, Dec 09 2003


Secret service earphones, with those little white wires.
-- RayfordSteele, Dec 09 2003


That is, unless you worked with Tommy LaSorda ... then you'd be telling the batter to sacrifice bunt, and steal third; then he'd probably call you on it. Then its suckerville for you, mister.
-- Letsbuildafort, Dec 09 2003


<signalling, though discreetly, so as not to cause offence> What the hell does Letsbuildafort's anno mean? <signalling, though discreetly>
-- squeak, Dec 09 2003


simple : each team can have an agreed signal (surely you know the people in your team? ) then you're laughing. Nice one [Fishrat].
-- neilp, Dec 09 2003


squeak - tommy lasorda is a baseball manager and in baseball they use secretive hand signals to inform the players on the field of what they should do.

tsuka - i am eagerly awaiting the day that i find something funny enough to have tears run all the way down to my legs ... i thought reading your anno was going to do it, but they dried up around my belly button.
-- luecke, Dec 09 2003


+ Yes, very good, because this problem occurs too often.

I have always thought that we need to change the way we greet each other. As it is, when I pass that woman from accounting in the hall, she says “Hi, Stanley!” and I’m stuck saying, “Oh, hi…” and lamely trailing off. It’s unfair to assume that just because she has found out (or remembers) what my name is that I should have done likewise for her. A person should use his or her own name when greeting a person. For instance, the lady from accounting would say, “What ho! Livingston here!” And I would respond, “Ahoy there! Greetings from Stanley!” Problem solved.
-- AO, Dec 09 2003


Thank you, [luecke], very nicely put. -- and, uh, [squeak] I could see your signal

//<signalling, though discreetly, so as not to cause offence>//

busted. :P
-- Letsbuildafort, Dec 09 2003


"Ohhh! Dolores!!!"
-- krelnik, Dec 09 2003


OK, pay attention, you may not get this first time. It took me a few goes.

You call over someone you know. You say TO the-person-who's-name-you've-forgotten, "Have you met...er..." and turning to the-person-you-DO-know, you say "I'm sorry, I've forgotten your name". The-person-you-DO-know is forced to introduce themselves to the-person-who's-name-you've-forgotten, at which point, the-person-who's-name-you've-forgotten states his/her name, and the problem is solved.
-- egbert, Dec 09 2003


I have a friend with this problem. He worked out a simple solution, so with his wife's help, he can avoid embarassment. It goes something like this.

Friend to coworker: I'd like you to meet my wife.

Wife (extending hand): Hi I'm Jane.

At this point the coworker feels obliged to say their name.

Sure it's not as good as a proper introduction, but it's better than not making any introduction, and less embarrasing than asking for their name.
-- scad mientist, Dec 09 2003


more or less works for me, and gets me in less trouble than telling my girlfriend I've forgotten her name
-- normzone, Dec 09 2003


Although I like the idea, I must admit that AO annotated the real solution. I love it! Still, actually trying it is difficult. It's REALLY hard to drop that old bad habit of saying the other person's name. Reminiscent of, say, smoking.
-- moroder, Dec 09 2003


Stanley only *presumed* it were Livingstone. he wasn't really sure.
-- po, Dec 09 2003


[po] He got the signal from a coworker.
-- Letsbuildafort, Dec 09 2003


[egbert] - good work, that's a beaut.
-- neilp, Dec 09 2003


With modern mind control devices getting names shouldn't be too much trouble. +
-- sartep, Dec 09 2003


egbert is not so clever, he thinks I am Rods Tiger.
-- po, Dec 09 2003


Wait. You're not then? Drat. <scribbles out something in small disheveled notepad>

Oh, and [dag], I have one two! Ha HAA!
(oh, wait that's backwards) Ha HAA!!
-- k_sra, Dec 09 2003


But what if Wilberforce saw the I don't know what the hell your name is hand signal? I mean wouldn't everyone know it and be able to identify it? Just take the breif embarrasment of asking, "Gee I'm sorry, but I just completely blanked out on your name, what was it again?"
-- Space-Pope, Dec 09 2003


I just call everyone Mate...G'day mate err yer garn?
-- Micky Dread, Dec 09 2003


Ok, dag made his own. I accept that, but K sra, where did you find a manufacturer for these things? Who sells these?
-- sartep, Dec 09 2003


My brain got full up a couple of years ago, and now I can’t remember names unless I learned them in high school. Christopher Columbus? Yeah, of course I remember you. And being named after a day of the week is awfully nice...how could anyone forget Pluterday?
-- pluterday, Dec 09 2003


Try this:
"What was your name again?"
"Wilberforce"
"Sorry Wilberforce, I'm not great at remembering names."

Problem solved. Life's too short to worry about such issues. Next time if there's someone who's name you should remember but don't, ask them as soon as you realize this so you don't feel foolish in a few months at a party.
-- Worldgineer, Dec 09 2003


// that usually backfires if their name is Bob or something. //

Bawb, Baub, Bahb, Bobb, Beaughb... you can never be sure.

Ask for the name and explain you've recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. They'll understand.
-- waugsqueke, Dec 09 2003


[dag] Check your wallet. Assuming, of course, you have a wallet and that it's yours.
-- Worldgineer, Dec 09 2003


*Snap* 'n Point
-- thumbwax, Dec 09 2003


Thank you, [Worldgineer]. I have decided to only use subtlety when absolutely necessary (ie. for self preservation), and I have accepted the fact that I have a bad memory for names. So I just admit that I don't remember someone's name. Nobody so far has cared.
-- Detly, Dec 09 2003


//"Ohhh! Dolores!!!"// made me laugh more than it rightly should have.
-- Fishrat, Dec 10 2003


[+] for the awesome link [scout]. I am currently working with a deaf resident and this will help greatly since my ASL skills aren't what they used to be.
-- Klaatu, Dec 10 2003


A friend of my brother's was named Bobble after the following conversation:

"So, which do you prefer, Robert, Bob, Rob, Rab, Bert..."

"Oh, Bob'll do."

An alternative is just to make up a name and consistently refer to the other party as that - it's worked for me for years.
-- PeterSilly, Dec 10 2003


thats half-baked - Rodney / Dave in Only Fools.
-- po, Dec 10 2003


Don't beat a dead horse.
-- k_sra, Dec 10 2003


oh tsuka, I missed that one!
-- po, Dec 10 2003


Try giving everybody you ever meet a nickname. These are much easier to remember provided that you base them on physical features. E.g.

"Hello bignose, how is cheap-wig doing these days - still with stained-pits?"
-- dobtabulous, Dec 10 2003


[dob] I think most people would rather have someone not remember their name than refer to them as stained-pits. Seriously. (sniggersnigger...*stained-pits*.. sniggersnigger)
-- squeak, Dec 10 2003


I've seen many funny posts on this one, but no actual suggestions (physical that is).

I just know Im too dumb for some of the oral suggestions (leave it alone) above, I'd screw it up for sure.

Us dummies do need the hand signal...um...how about these suggestions:

1. 4 fingers at the person, thumb back at self 2. scratch middle of back with thumb (good as other person cant see it.) 3. scream and run from teh room...(no too obvious).

When we come up with an agreed solution, lets just email the internet with it...everybody@internet.com
-- rumbletumbler, Dec 10 2003


I've found a simpler solution. I've taken to calling everyone (including my mother) Bob. This is a gentle admission that I'm terrible at remembering names, but colleagues seem to be viewing me sympathetically, as though I'm some fond old grandad.
-- Fishrat, Dec 11 2003


I think cFish nailed the main problem with gestures in the first anno - hence, I would venture, the lack of suggestions.

Wasn't it "Becker" that contained an annoying little character (Bob, coincidentally) who used his name instead of the first personal pronoun?

My four-year old is just growing out of that habit. Maybe I should encourage her to continue with it.
-- egbert, Dec 11 2003


//Can't ask me for a favour// Can I borrow a tenner, Bob?

As far as spotting the signal goes, [egbert] I would think it would only require the same amount of discretion as when you tell a third party that you'll be a couple of minutes, by holding up a couple of fingers during a conversation, or subtly mouthing "help" to a friend when you're stuck with a dullard. The art of misdirection is a wonderful thing - oh look, [squeak]'s tucked her skirt into her knickers again, look, over there!
-- Fishrat, Dec 11 2003


Dammit, [fishrat]. You made me look!
-- squeak, Dec 11 2003


And me.
-- egbert, Dec 11 2003


I took a picture!
-- k_sra, Dec 11 2003


Has anyone seen my 1$ bill?
-- Worldgineer, Dec 11 2003


<finishes ice cream bar and scurries off>
-- k_sra, Dec 11 2003


I have seen a man enter a TV studio, greet the audience one by one and then twenty minutes later go around the room and adress everyone by name... correctly and not in order. Hundreds of them. I have read a book by him, but can't remember his name or the name of the book. (Three fingers in my shorts, help me!)
-- stringstretcher, Dec 11 2003


This is a public forum. Please get your fingers out of your shorts.
-- Worldgineer, Dec 11 2003


Unless you're trying to untuck your skirt...
-- egbert, Dec 11 2003


At one of these hideous quasi-corporate "getting to know you" affairs, I was required to turn to the bloke sitting next to me, ask his name, all about him and then, not 45 seconds later, introduce him to the rest of the group.

Me: "Everybody, this is Brian and his interests are intellectual property law and playing guitar in his band."
Him: "Actually, I'm Barry. I've no idea who Brian is."

He's now a very good friend, but he still calls me "Dave" in much the same style as Trigger. Maybe he's making a point.
-- calum, Dec 12 2003


We could all just make a point to say our names for the first ten times we meet someone.
-- sartep, Dec 12 2003


calum, one of my colleagues went on a similar kind of thing, a Quality Service Skills course.
Paul (was introduced courteously by his partner, however, after being introduced he could remember so little about his partner he simply said.
"This is Matt he likes computers and Star Trek and doesn't get out much....."
when he told us we were all rolling around on the floor, especially being as when we read his star signs for the day it said,
"mix tact with the truth"...........
-- The_Englishman_Abroad, Dec 12 2003


//say our names for the first ten times we meet someone// ...and simultaneously point at our most distinguishing feature?
-- Fishrat, Dec 15 2003


[dobtabulous] - see link. I am terrible at remembering names.
-- hippo, Dec 15 2003


You know squeak might have the right idea! +
-- nomadic_wonderer, Feb 04 2004


Name tags?

Or, like Leonard Shelby in Memento, take Polariod pictures of everyone you meet and write their name on it.

Or be like Matt, stay in watching Star Trek and avoid the whole situation.
-- kevincherubini, Apr 28 2004


The only way that I see this working is by mixing in a little of that Blue Tooth invetion. (The one that tracks people...) However, I don't think that having the blue tooth thing would work anyway, so my vote, well, I would give it an OK for now. However, Its only common courtesy to learn you colleagues names...
-- Spider7, Apr 29 2004


Celeste?
-- WordUp, Apr 30 2004


but i don't watch star trek!
-- buddymatt, May 01 2004



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