The other day I was in the grocery store, deciding whether or not I waned to buy organic bananas, when a woman bumped into my cart and said, “Excuse me.” I moved. She did it again. So I looked up (slightly perturbed) to see a young mom, with a toddler in her cart, beaming at me. She could barely contain her enthusiasm to say hello to me. Disguising my complete lack of recognition, I smiled politely and said hello.
“Are you going to be at the meeting on Wednesday? I really enjoyed your talk last week.”
Ohhhhhh. Context came rushing in to connect me to how I knew this woman. She had been at an event where I spoke and we had been in the same small discussion group afterwards.
Isn’t context a powerful thing?
For some people it’s more important than for others, apparently. In Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton Ph.D., it’s described this way: “From your vantage point the present is unstable…it is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time…that the present regains its stability.”
This is what was happening to me at Trader Joe’s! I was casting my mind back to recall the link I had with the woman in front of me. What a gift that she was so helpful early in the conversation!
When you see someone you’ve met, do you re-introduce yourself? If you’re in a position where people see and know you more than you know them, do you have a gracious (or surreptitious) way of responding so as not to embarrass yourself or make the encounter awkward? Do you have tricks to remember people you’ve met and their names? Please share!