So I was talking to a friend of mine Sunday morning after church. I say he’s a friend of mine, but in actuality he’s more of an acquaintance seeing as how I only see him on Sundays…Actually, some Sundays I don’t see him at all. I’m guessing maybe I see him once or twice a month. He’s a nice guy, very friendly. What I’m getting at is that I’ve seen and have known him for several months now, but I see him on such a limited basis that I don’t remember his name and I feel that our relationship has gone past that point where it would be “okay” for me to say to him, “I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name. Could you tell me what your name is again please.” Ouch, right? Awkward.
I’m guessing at this point your thinking one of two things, the first being, “Ah, that’s okay, Chris. That happens to the best of us. Don’t feel bad.” The other thing you might be thinking is, “What a jerk face. He can’t remember his friends name after several months. Chris Cabe is a big jerk face and if he were here right now I’d call him a jerk face right to his face…then I’d call him Philip, just to be ironical!”
I got to talking with my friend this past Sunday and I just said under my breath, kind of timid like, “Hi how are you doing, Ben.” I didn’t say the whole sentence under my breath and timid like, that would be a bit creepy. No, I just said the the name timidly: Ben. I thought his name was Ben, so I took a shot to see if it would stick. The conversation continued without a hitch. As we talked I thought to myself, “You go, Chris. You went for it and hit the bulls-eye. Knocked it out of the park you did.” I don’t even remember what we were talking about I was so in awe of myself. “Okay Chris, reel it in here…you’re still in the midst of a conversation. You probably should concentrate on listening. Pay attention so you can answer/interact intelligently”, I thought to myself. I listened. I interacted. I even threw out another “Ben” with slightly less reserve than before.
Well, toward the end of the conversation my friend Ben told me his name was Bill. “No! Chris, you moron!”, I thought to myself. How could this happen to me? I turned beet red, had instant sweats, hyperventilated and passed out right where I stood. My friend Be–errr, Bill rushed to get me a glass of water. After about ten minutes or so I came to and my friend Bill and I had a big laugh about the whole episode. Well…aside from the “me turning beet red” part of the story none of that really happened, but in my minds eye I was dealt a heavy blow. I got that blue, sinking feeling. As a result of this social interactivity debacle I’ve decided to introduce the Ben/Jen rule.
The Ben/Jen rule put simply is that if I don’t remember your name, from now on I’m just going to say confidently, “Hi, Ben (Jen if female). How are things?” I figure, Ben and Jen are common enough names, I might just get it right. If not, I will have said it so confidently it will play off better than the awkwardly timid, under-the-breath, “Hi (Insert uncertain name here.), how are you?” If someone called me Ben with confident bravado I don’t think I would be offended. I think Ben is a rather stately name. I wouldn’t mind being a Ben for someone if they needed me to be.
Currently the “Ben/Jen Rule” as I have dubbed it is in it’s Shakedown period and I have as yet not given it a try. In addition to my new rule I’m also going to try to remember names better by making a conscious effort to listen intently to someone as they say their name to me in the midst of an introduction. Given these two methods I should have all my bases covered.
If you’re like me and forget the names of people you’ve met before routinely, I encourage you to give the “Ben/Jen Rule” a try and let me know how it goes. If you try it out and it works like a charm I’d like to hear about it. If you give it a go and it turns into a horrible disaster go ahead and blame me for convincing you to try such a fool-hardy idea. My name’s, Ben.