You’ve just met this person at the office, and 2 minutes into the conversation, oops! Her name flies out the window of your memory. The same thing happens when you’re talking to your neighbor. Welcome to the club. What are you going to do now? Begin with these 3 tips:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Remember that it happens to everyone, and everyone is likely to forgive your lapse.
  3. As much as you can, stay involved in the conversation. We tend to leave it while we rack our brains for that fly-away name.

Should you fake it? You could fake it by asking Ms. Office for her card. But it’s risky. If she pats her purse and declares that she just gave the last card away, you’re sunk unless you can hand her a piece of paper and a pen. It’s an awkward moment that stops the flow of conversation, especially when others are present. But if you genuinely want her business card, then ask for it. I prefer the honesty policy. Ask her name, and the sooner, the better. Here are a couple ways to do it:

  • “Tell me your name again?”
  • “Please help me with your name.”

After you hear it, repeat *your* name–for example, “I’m Scotty.” You’re half assuming she’s forgotten your name, too, and now you look like a thoughtful person because you’re helping her out of the name pickle.

When your memory fails on your home turf

You know this neighbor. You know she follows the Dodgers; her dog is Woofie; and her birthday is October 20. But what the heck is her name? This is not the time to ask for her card. It is the time to fess up. Again, you have options:

  • “Oh, this is embarrassing. Your name went right out of my brain.”
  • “I know you’re a Dodger fan, and your birthday is October 20. I remember Woofie’s name, but I can’t remember yours. Please help me out here.”
  • Ask your mail carrier. Mine’s a dog lover, so I can say, “What’s the name of the black lab’s owner, and who owns the dog named Daisy?”

Go straight home and write the name down on your phone list. I keep all my neighbors’ names on the N page. My gym friends are on the G page.