Skip to main content
headshot of Eric Cai

Eric Cai

SFU Alumni
Science › Chemistry
British Columbia Cancer Agency - Genome Sciences Centre
Statistician

empty
a teammate smiling at another coworker
Forgetting a new name is not an awful fault. Instead of ignoring the problem, just admit it, ask for their name again, and you will likely be able to flip the situation into something positive.

Meeting new people is a constant part of life, whether it is through new jobs, social occasions, or networking events. The first task in establishing rapport with a new acquaintance is to learn their name, yet I sometimes forget it after our first conversation.

Forgetting new names is very common and forgivable, especially if you are meeting many new people at once. However, I notice that most people are afraid to admit their forgetfulness.  Perhaps they are embarrassed or worried that their new acquaintances will feel offended. Thus, they often greet them many times without referencing their name, and this could continue for days, weeks, or even months!

If I forget a new acquaintance’s name, then I take the initiative to admit this when I next meet them, and I ask for their name again. Throughout my professional career, I have never encountered anybody who felt insulted or disrespected as a result of such forgetfulness.  Instead, they usually show kindness and appreciation for my effort. I sometimes have to do this many times before I remember a new co-worker’s name, and I sometimes confuse them with another co-worker with a similar appearance. However, admitting my forgetfulness and asking for their name again helps me to remember their name better. The first part is just as important as the second; admitting my failure is not only an act of accountability, but also a useful device for learning something new.

In addition to the practical benefit of remembering a new name, I find this practice to be helpful in establishing a positive relationship with a new colleague.  Because I am making the effort to remember a fundamental trait of this person, they recognize my sincerity in respecting them and understanding them. This is, of course, only the first step and a very small one, but it creates good momentum, and I can build upon this momentum in subsequent interactions.

If you have faced this problem, then I hope that my experience can provide some assurance to you: Forgetting a new name is not an awful fault. Instead of ignoring the problem, just admit it, ask for their name again, and you will likely be able to flip the situation into something positive.

Beyond the Blog

  • Eric Cai Apr 9, 2018
    Like to recommend this item
    visibility  9

About the Author

headshot of Eric Cai

Eric Cai

SFU Alumni
Science › Chemistry
British Columbia Cancer Agency - Genome Sciences Centre
Statistician
Connect with Eric on social media: WordPress, Twitter, YouTube

Eric Cai is a former Career Peer Educator at SFU Career Services who graduated in 2011.  He now works as a statistician at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. In his spare time, he shares his passion about statistics and chemistry via his blog, The Chemical Statistician, his Youtube channel, and Twitter @chemstateric. He previously blogged for the Career Services Informer under “Eric’s Corner” when he was a student.  You can read all of Eric's newer posts here.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Communication

Co-op coordinator wth student during site visit
Make the Most of Your Co-op Site Visits

Your Co-op Coordinator, supervisor, and you in the same room -- time for a site visit! Co-op site visits are a time for reflection on your work term including what could be improved and what has been great so far.

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

A woman fast asleep
Sleeping for Success at Work!

The days of pulling all nighters and getting by on 2-3 hours sleep are over! Getting enough sleep is essential to ensure you can keep up with the demands of a fulltime work schedule and put forth your best performance.

You Might Like These... Professional Development

Three women standing in front of a tree.
Dress to Impress: Tips for Creating a Budget Friendly Workplace Wardrobe

The transition from student to working professional isn’t so easy. While this new chapter in your life can be overwhelming, having an impressive wardrobe can do wonders for your confidence and sense of professionalism. 

Rock climbing woman
Tanya's Kinesiology Co-op: Take Two

After completing co-op work terms with two different employers Tanya wanted to address some of the challenges she has experienced during their time in co-op, and she hopes to help other students who may be facing similar problems in their own work terms. Tanya's two co-op terms lead to two very different co-op experiences. In this two-part post, she shares the differences between them, and what she learned from them.

Picture of a women smiling
DIY Career Opportunities

Finding a job that you want to wake up for can be a challenge, especially in today’s economy. But what if you could create your own job? I know someone who (almost) did this for themselves and this is his story.