Questions in a conversation with someone who remembers you but you don’t remember them

It can happen to any of us, anytime, anywhere. At a cafe, at a friend’s party, during a work event or waiting in line. No situation is safe.

“Hey Kyri, how have you been?”

Whammy. Out of nothing, an unexpected gauntlet is slammed down with this ‘stranger’ knowing my name. No sweat, all I need to do is remember their name, who they are, how I know them… Ok Kyri, it’ll come to you…. right…… any second now…… SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT.

Reality check: it’s not going to happen. I don’t remember who this person is. I could try and guess - school is always a good bet (I seem to have particularly a bad memory of school mates) - but it’s risky.

This is a situation most of us have experienced and these conversations all sound the same more often than not. This is because there are a core set of things you can ask which make it look like you know who you’re chatting with even though you don’t.

Let’s break down the aims of questions in a conversation with someone you’ve run into whom you do remember:

  1. Find out what they’ve been up to.
  2. Try to wrap it up as fast as possible without a hint of a suggestion to meet up for “a proper catch up”. (If you liked them enough for that you wouldn’t have lost touch in the first place).

Now, the objectives of questions when you have no idea who that person is:

  1. Find out information to help you figure out who they are.
  2. Disguise the fact that you have no idea who you are talking to.
  3. Try to wrap it up as fast as possible without a hint of a suggestion to meet up for “a proper catch up”.

A clear difference, and the kind of unexpected crap you can do without.

Here are the things we all ask/say to help meet these objectives. The key, of course, is keeping it vague.

What have you been up to?

A classic, and for good reason. It’s a question you could ask an old friend. It’s also you deploying an early fact-finding probe to gather some crucial intel.

Time flies, huh?

Doesn’t it just? This is filler. Generic, empty filler designed to steer as far away as possible from any specific facts they may assume you can recall about them.

When was the last time we saw each other?

More like “When was the last time I gave a shit about who you are?”.

Where are you working now?

This is a good one because the answer can give you an opportunity to veer off into safe, neutral ground about their company or industry. Talk business to avoid the business of you not having a clue who they are.

Are you still living in the same area?

Sneaky. If they think you remember where they live, it’ll look like you actually give a crap (you don’t).

You haven’t changed a bit / you look the same!

That’s it, hide your utter lack of knowledge about them with a hollow compliment. Look at what you’ve become and hang your head in disgust. People love hearing this shit though, so you should get away with it.

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