The only thing more awkward than the awkward run-in, is the awkward run-in when you slightly recognize the person but don’t know their name or how you know them. It’s hard to know what to do in this situation. Although your first instinct might be to run, this is never a good idea because this person just might be important, plus you might trip, since being surprised, nervous, and insecure is a lethal combination when it comes to running. Here are some ways to avoid this outcome.
Keep it Simple:
Just say hi with a smile and see if that’s enough of a “catch-up” for this person. I know that’s all the talk I require. But, for some people that’s not the case. If they feel the need for a longer conversation, have some general topic discussions under your belt. To add to the fun and mental preparation, you could even wear an actual tool belt with discussion topics in it. Topics you might consider are: the weather, and the person’s current outfit and/or hairstyle. These subjects are perfect because they require no knowledge of this person’s past. Try to avoid saying anything specific until you figure out who they are. If you feel like you might know them it’s always a good idea to mumble their name a little bit throughout the conversation to see how they respond. People are very similar to dogs in that respect. When they hear their name they tend to perk up. If they don’t respond and seem confused/worried about your mumbling, pretend you have some sort of small animal in your purse that you’re talking to.
It’s All in the Eyes:
The eyes truly say it all, which is why you must avoid eye contact at all costs. Eye contact says, “I know you. We’re friends. Now let’s have a long conversation.” This is exactly what you don’t want. Eye contact may also allow the person to see that you’re unsure of their identity. The pupil always reveals the truth. To hide any trace of doubt I suggest staring at the floor, for what I call “floor eyes.” Floor eyes highlight the eye-lid, which says, “I’m cute and shy. Let’s not talk too long because I’ve got places to go and plenty more floors for my beautiful eyes to look at.” If you’re up for a challenge you could also try shifting your eyes to the side. I find that the “shifty eyes” displaying the iris of the eye is a bit more dramatic and serious. You’ll seem concerned and slightly confused, allowing the conversation to come to a relieved and natural end. An even bigger challenge is closing your eyes completely and saying you recently had some sort of eye surgery that requires you to close your eyes at a certain period of the day and it just happens to be at that moment. This requires Oscar-worthy acting, so don’t attempt unless you’re willing and able to put on an amazing show.
Stabler it Up:
When I say “Stabler” I’m referring to Detective Stabler of Law & Order: SVU and his sweet investigative and interrogation skills. Tap into his brave character to figure out who this person is. If you’re at a store, look at what they’re buying to get some insight into who they really are. Check out what they’re wearing. Maybe their shirt or sweater says something that will reveal some kind of clue. Look for any moles or markings on them that you can use to solve their mysterious identity. If you’re lucky maybe they have a tattoo that has their name on it. If you still can’t determine whom this person is, get closer. Look at their teeth. Perhaps they have something in between their teeth revealing what they ate most recently, which could tip you off to their whereabouts. You can delve even deeper by giving them a sniff. Their scent may bring back some olfactory memories and just might provide you with the answers you need.
If you still can’t figure out who they are remember to just keep your questions general, your answers vague, and your eyes hidden.