I Never Forget a Face
  • Maggie Franklin
  • October 22, 2010

You know that feeling you get when you're out of the salon — on your day off, maybe — running errands, doing the grocery shopping, having dinner with friends, when you hear someone calling your name and you turn around to see who it is ... and you find yourself staring at someone who's only vaguely familiar to you?

You just sit there, smiling and nodding along, hoping against all hope that the person who is busy chatting at you like she's your best friend doesn't realize that you have NO FREAKING CLUE who she is. All the while your brain runs at light speed, frantically searching its internal databases for any clue as to who this is and how she knows you.

Ever since I started doing nails, I've had to deal with this. Mostly, these days, I just flat out tell the person that I have no idea what their name is. While this approach risks offending your clients and colleagues when they find out that you can't even remember their name, it usually goes over much better than the "smile and fake it" approach.

I try to remember the names that go with the faces; just ask Veronica — who continues to insist that her name is actually Vera.

Now really, who do you think knows your name better, ME or YOU?

Well, I ran into "Veronica" at the fashion event last Saturday. She came up and started talking to me and I found myself looking at her with my head cocked slightly to one side — you know, like your dog does when it's trying to figure out what you're saying. I realized that she was familiar but I wasn't sure why. So I decided to go with a sly version of my direct approach, which yielded me enough information for me to remember EXACTLY who she was — except I immediately called her "Veronica" to which Vera very patiently and politely reminded me that it's "Vera."

Oops. Well, I remembered everything else I know about her! I know where she works, what she does (nails, duh), that she's a Young Nails mentor, and that I first met her in person during the sculptured nail competition at ISSE Long Beach back in January. I think that's pretty impressive for someone who insists you're named after an Archie Comics character.

But that's me. Some people remember faces, some people never forget a name. I remember stories. Once I place you, I will remember darn near everything I've ever learned about you. I just need to put you in context first.

Which is why I'm so shy to say "hi" to clients when I see them out on the town or colleagues when I'm at a class or tradeshow. If you see me notice you but I don't say anything, it's not that I'm trying to pretend I didn't see you, it's more that I'm trying to think "Do I know that person?" or "Where do I know her from?" or even, "Hmmm, that looks like ... but I'm not sure."

Just tell me how I know you and you'll save me from remembering you about a half hour after we've left each other's company in that "I could have had a V8" way.

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