Awkward encounters come in many forms, but the two that can cause the most discomfort are those when you are greeted by someone who treats you like an old friend when you have no idea who they are or how they know you and, conversely, when you clearly remember that you have been introduced to someone several times, and they look at you blankly when you greet them.
So how do you handle these awkward moments without feeling humiliated or inflicting an insult?
For starters, don’t express your anger or irritation when someone whom you have already been introduced to several times does not recognize you. It is often one’s instinct is to feel rejected and somehow angry that you have not been recognized, but that is counterproductive. It is more empowering to respond with some humor. Try responding with the following: “You may not remember me, but I have had the pleasure of meeting you several times, so you must be more memorable than I am.” Or, you can also choose to ignore the slight, and graciously accept your reintroduction.
And what about that friendly face that has you drawing a blank? You could say something like “You look so familiar, forgive me, what is your first name?” That is so much more gracious and kind than saying “I don’t remember you.”
And no, you are not lying; you are simply being gracious.
Some people don’t remember others because they are distracted — and sometimes, yes, they may simply be unaware or arrogant. But whatever the reason, your good humor is certainly preferable to a rebuke. The key here is to gently make yourself memorable without making the person feel guilty for not remembering you.
I firmly believe that if you approach uncomfortable situations with grace, kindness and good humor, you will have more joyful and beneficial interactions.