The crucial forgetting names etiquette rules. The appropriate behaviors for when you forget someone’s name or someone forgets your name on a social occasion.

What forgetting names etiquette is

Forgetting names etiquette is the set of rules to be polite when you forget someone’s name, and to appropriately deal with someone who forgets your name. Such rules include:

  • What to do when you forget someone’s name.
  • What to do when someone forgets your name.
  • The mistakes to avoid.

If you forget someone’s name on a social occasion, follow forgetting names etiquette to look polite and excuse yourself.

If someone forgets your name, follow forgetting names etiquette to appropriately deal with the situation and avoid further embarrassments.

General forgetting names etiquette principle

The main principle of forgetting names etiquette is to limit the embarrassment of both the person who forgets the name, and the person whose name is being forgotten.

what to do when you forget someone's name, or someone forgets your name

Forgetting names etiquette rules

1) Pretend you remember the name

When you forget someone’s name, you may try to pretend that you haven’t forgotten it. You can greet the person with a salutation that does not include the name. “Hello Dear”, “Good evening sir”, “How are you?”, “Long time no see”. Alternatively, you can even use a compliment. “Aren’t you marvellous tonight?”.

2) Blame yourself

In some situations, you may not be able to pretend. Such as when you are with two persons that clearly expect you to make the introduction. Or when you get someone’s name wrong.

In such situations, be confident and blame yourself. Pretend that your memory just went blank or make a self-deprecating joke.

3) Repeat new names to memorize them

When you meet someone for the first time, you can repeat their name a couple of times to memorize it. Try do it naturally during conversation. “John, you are so right about this”. However, do not overdo it.

4) Do not get offended if someone forgets your name

If someone does not remember your name, do not get offended. Say your name again, politely but clearly. In such situation, it is best to avoid humor, as it may add to the person’s embarrassment.

5) Correct someone that gets your name wrong

When someone gets your name wrong, it is best to correct them immediately. Otherwise, the risk is that they memorize the wrong name and the error goes on for longer, leading to more embarrassment for both parties. Immediately after the mistake, say your name again, politely but clearly.

6) Give up if someone persists

If someone keeps forgetting your name or getting your name wrong, do not insist. Unless this is due to some sort of condition, it is their fault and poor etiquette. However, it is not polite from your end to make them notice it. Furthermore, correcting someone with such poor etiquette is not worth any additional effort.

Forgetting names at work

Forgetting the names of your coworkers or managers of your company can be embarrassing and harm your personal brand. One way to remember them is to connect with coworkers on professional social networks or chat apps, such as LinkedIn or Slack. Then, you can periodically review your connections and associate names and faces.

Knowing the name of your customers can help building rapport and loyalty. If you cannot connect with them on a professional network, you can maintain a file with their name and key traits to remember them.

forget name etiquette

Forgetting names etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst etiquette mistakes. 

  • 7/10. Forgetting someone’s name.
  • 7/10. Not apologizing when you forget someone’s name.
  • 7/10. Getting offended if someone does not remember your name.


  • On being forgotten: Memory and forgetting serve as signals of interpersonal importance: