Originally created 10/01/00

Moniker mix-ups avoidable

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.

- William Plomer

There's an old story that goes like this:

It seems a guy was invited to a friend's home for dinner. There he noticed his buddy preceded every request to his wife by endearing terms, calling her "honey," "my love," "darling," "sweetheart," "pumpkin," etc.

His friend was impressed because he knew the couple had been married almost 60 years. While the wife was off in the kitchen, he said to his friend, "I think it's wonderful that after all this time you've been married, you still call your wife those cute names."

"Not really," his friend said, hanging his head. "To tell you the truth, I keep forgetting her name."

Yes, friends and neighbors, you're not alone.

While the world is full of people who will tell you, "I never forget a face," you and I know that's the easy part.

Matching that face with a proper name is the challenge. That's why most people readily admit, "I'm terrible with names."

Why this is so is a little more complicated.

Usually it happens rapidly, with the brain searching for similarities, activating connections and arriving at the right answer.

But, when it comes to proper names, it gets tricky.

When we try to remember a person's name, the experts say, we often complicate the process by bringing in so much data at once.

This is why we are often embarrassed by trying to remember the name of a person we know very well.

We actually know them too well, and have too many mental associations and personal remembrances of them.

All those memories try to get first in line to perhaps come out of our mouths in speech, and it creates a logjam.

Stress and fatigue don't help things, and age increases the problem.

So what do you do when you're at a social function and a person walks up, greets you warmly and pauses for the introduction to your spouse?

Call a timeout.

When you've got a name on the tip of your tongue, but can't remember it, the experts say quit trying so hard.

Make a comment about the Braves, remark about the weather.

By taking some pressure off your memory, the name usually pops up just like you wanted it to.

And if it doesn't, do what I do.

Introduce the person you're with, then pause and wait for the speaker to say his name to them.

If that doesn't work, look over their shoulder, pretend to recognize someone else, apologize, then break away from the conversation.

Then find someone you know and ask them who you were just talking to.

Work on it. Write notes to yourself. This is important.

A person's name is the most personal thing he has that you can mess up.

Remembering it is the name of the game.

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 107.


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