I have been attending small group meetings almost every day this last year, and most of these groups are growing in membership. Because there are usually some new people we often have a quick round robin introduction, so everyone has a chance to be exposed to everyone else’s name. When there are twenty-five people those introductions can take too long. This is a serious problem if people begin expatiating on their self-proclaimed wonderful histories. Everyone has a story to tell, and usually they are interesting, but people don’t come to the meetings to hear about someone’s life, but to talk about the announced subject.

So, there is a conflict of priorities, and this last meeting I suggested that each person say their name and a single word that described their most salient quality. That worked out well as “most” people played the game and encapsulated their entire present existence into a single word. When it came back to me I said: Charles – anxiety. That immediately lead to one of my friends saying, “You handle it really well!” I did restrain myself by not commenting on that comment, even though I could probably go on for hours with illustrations and stories. Probably everyone else could too, but fortunately we moved on to our scheduled discussion.

So my thoughts here are about what might be appropriate single word questions that people would be comfortable with as a one-word personal description of themselves. Okay, hyphenated words are allowed. Here are some examples with my responses:

  1. What was your previous residence? Charles – Berkeley-California
  2. What is your favorite hobby? Charles – Blogging
  3. What is your favorite local restaurant? Charles – Spork
  4. What was your favorite subject in school? Charles – Science
  5. Who is your favorite philosopher? Charles – Me
  6. Who is the most famous person you have spoken with? Charles – Oppenheimer
  7. What was your best job for your abilities? Charles – Air-Force-Pilot
  8. What is your favorite exercise? Charles – Walking
  9. Who is your favorite author? Charles – Conan-Doyle
  10. What’s your favorite food? Charles – My-ice-creams
  11. What’s your favorite beverage? Charles – Green-tea
  12. What is something you wish you knew more about? – Charles – Saving-humanity
  13. Where would you like to vacation? Charles – New-York
  14. What is your favorite TV show? Charles – Steven-Colbert
  15. What historical place would you most like to visit? Charles – Classic-Athens

These are intended to be nonthreatening questions that are just a bit thoughtful, and do illustrate a person’s basic interests.

A quick way to remember a person’s name is by linking it with an interest.