People like being recognized.  We’re talking not about formal honors and official  citations,but the singular pleasure that comes when someone, not a friend, acquaintance or relative remembers their name.  People welcome such recognition being singled out from the common herd.  They’ve made an impression; someone has taken note of their identity.

Most everyone acknowledges how important it is to remember people’s names, but often confess to their inability to do so (a situation especially awkward when others recall yours).  Most politicians have a highly-developed ability to recall names, understanding how important that is in securing the loyalty and support of followers.  Just observe one working a room, shaking hands, kissing cheeks, and most impressively recalling name after name.  It works; people are immensely pleased, feel they’ve been welcomed into a special fraternity of insiders and “friends”.  Service workers of all sorts recognize the importance of recalling the names of customers, clients and patients, especially those from whom gratuities can be expected.  Waiters, bartenders, hostesses, receptionists, postmen, bellhops, store clerks, bank tellers, etc., understand that addressing people by name creates an immediate rapport and unmistakable good will.

At those times when names cannot be immediately summoned, an effort will be made to cover up, smooth over this omission.  The trick here is to display instant recognition while simultaneously extracting the name (avoiding any suggestion that you might never have known it).  For this purpose the phrase “What’s your name again?” is regularly employed to convey a message of familiarity although  their name is momentarily beyond recall.

And so you give your name, which is met with a nod of recognition and an expression of surprise that it had slipped their mind.  And so the game of false familiarity continues.

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