What Is The Proper Way To Make An Introduction?

What is the proper way to make an introduction? Tips on the proper way to make introductions. Sweaty palms, not remembering a person's name, awkward silences...knowing the proper way to make an introduction...

Sweaty palms, not remembering a person's name, awkward silences...knowing the proper way to make an introduction can be one of the most uneasy aspects of etiquette at any formal function. Maura Graber, who has been teaching manners to children and adults for 15 years and is the director of The R.S.V.P. Institute of Etiquette, offers these tips: "One of the main elements of an introduction is your smile, or at the very least, a pleasant facial expression. People will forgive most faux pas if they believe one's heart is in the right place. Making eye contact and projecting ones voice are also important. Make sure names and titles are pronounced and enunciated properly. Ask about the pronunciation of a name if you are unsure... Always use titles when called for. If it is a doctor, refer to them as 'Doctor'...it is always nice to say something a little personal about the other person, but not too personal. Mention a hobby that might interest the other person. If you are the one being introduced, say something like, 'Hi, it is nice to meet you' or 'It is a pleasure meeting you.' Sometimes a simple 'Hello' just isn't enough to convey interest, so if you can't think of anything else to say, make sure you smile and make that crucial eye contact."

Remarking on the specifics of proper introduction etiquette, Maura says, 'If it is a young woman in a social setting, who is being introduced to an older woman of higher rank, she should always stand when introduced. However, there are some women who grew up not knowing that when introduced to someone your own age, you should not stand. This can upset some women and in a way it says, 'You must be older than me.' Also, the rule used to be that only men were supposed to stand when being introduced to a woman. Now, gender no longer plays a role in most business introductions in the U.S. and European communities. In business situations, one should always standup when being introduced to someone else." Maura advises, "If you are traveling to another country, whether it be for business or pleasure, or if you are meeting someone whose culture is unfamiliar, always check to see what the specific manners are for that country or culture."

When teaching young people the proper way to make an introduction, Maura comments, "Introductions for kids and teens can be a bit difficult unless they start off at a very young age learning how to do it with confidence. Most kids would rather shake a dog's paw than an adult's hand, so get them in the habit early. I started with my two when they were very young, only about 3 or 4. I would explain who I would be introducing them to, what to do and what to say, prior to entering an office building, or home, etc... My kids soon found out that adults thought they were 'charming'. They also found out that receptionists often kept candy at their desks for them, store clerks remembered them by name, and that they seemed to be more 'welcomed' than other kids. Because of these revelations, my kids soon began to introduce themselves to others, before I had a chance to introduce them myself. Young people will respond positively to new things when they find there are 'perks' involved."

Maura offers this example: "In my etiquette classes for kids and teens, I have each student introduce a 'new friend' to a parent. The new friend is a stuffed animal that each student has chosen from a large assortment I have brought to the class. To 'earn' the new friend, the student must make a proper introduction using all the elements I teach them. The parent then has to sign a form listing the 7 elements to show that the student executed the introduction properly. If they practice this several times, it becomes more of a habit for the students. The 7 elements the students learn are:
1. Smile.
2. Make eye contact. Look up toward adults so they can hear your words more clearly.
3. Project your voice and pronounce names properly.
4. Add something personal, but not too personal. For example, 'My mom has a Teddy bear collection' is fine. 'My Dad spends all Sunday morning in the bathroom with the newspaper' is not. (I actually had a student introduce his father to me that way once! It is very embarrassing for the parents involved when students get chatty.)
5. Use proper titles. Don't introduce your parents as 'Mom' or 'Dad' unless that is how they want your friends, teacher, etc. to address them.
6. Say, 'It's nice to meet you' and smile when introduced to someone.
7. Shake a hand firmly when a handshake is offered."

Even as adults, we can learn from Maura's teaching techniques above. If you are a person that is a little introverted and find yourself constantly nervous about meeting new people, it is in your best interest to practice the proper way to make an introduction in the privacy of your own home. The more you do something, the easier it is. As far as those sweaty palms are concerned, try this tip: Carry a fresh napkin in your front pocket when attending an event and before you shake someone's hand you can discreetly wipe the moisture off your own.

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