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Finding Their Name


Techniques > Conversation techniques > Their Name > Finding Their Name

Introductions | Asking | Or... | See also


When you meet a person or know that you will meet them, and do not know their name, then the first task is to find their name.


Get introduced

The most common way to find a person's name, particularly in 'polite company' is to be introduced by someone else. A formal introduction includes the full name of each person and some biographical detail. In a social situation, this may be something about their family or where they live. In work, it is most often about their job.

Introduce yourself

One way of asking-without-asking is to introduce yourself. Say your name (and perhaps a very brief biographical item) and then pause. They should then reciprocate with the same detail. If they do not, you can encourage them with body language such as raising your eyebrows, tilting your head and leaning forward slightly.


Ask the person

You can also, of course, ask the person directly, although beware of appearing impolite ('Who are you??'). Sometimes a few niceties beforehand helps ('Hello, isn't it nice here -- I don't think I've met you before -- could you tell me your name?').

Asking them, done well, shows an interest in them, which is a good way of starting to build rapport. It also shows you as taking the lead. If they follow, then keep leading!

If you forget, all is not lost. It is quite common to forget a name (they may have forgotten yours!). In many situations it can actually be quite a strong thing to display a vulnerability.

Ask someone else

An easy way is to find their name is to ask another person -- not in front of them, of course. 'Who's that person over there?' is a common surreptitious question.

You can also ask a person off-line, for example asking other people in the office about the new person or calling a target person's secretary. Another trick for finding names is to call the company and ask for the person by title -- with luck you'll get a response something like 'I'll put you through to Mr. Johnson now...'.


Look it up

If you have time, you might find it written down somewhere. At a conference it may be on the list of attendees. At a meeting it may be on the agenda. And of course, there's the marvelous modern miracle: the internet. Companies often have their officers on the main website. And if you are inside the company, the whole directory (possibly even with photographs) may well be at your fingertips.

Wait for someone else

And of course you can wait for someone else to either ask for their name (which may make you look a bit impolite, so get in first if appropriate) or to use their name in conversation.

See also

Remembering Their Name, Using Their Name

Using Body Language, Questioning techniques

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