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How Do I Do an Introduction?


Table manners are the area in which I receive the most questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in managing an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction. Even if you are unsure, most people do not care. They will wonder, though, why you do not introduce an acquaintance who joins your group at a party. When a person walks up and no one introduces them, it is awkward for everyone. As the old advertising slogan said, “JUST DO IT!”


First

Decide who you wish to honor among the two people you are introducing. This can easily be done by determining hierarchy in a business situation, or seniority in a social setting.


Example: The CEO of a company is of higher rank than the Vice President of another company. Whereas, in social settings, a grandmother is afforded the respect of having more seniority than someone in their twenties. Therefore, in these two examples, the CEO and the grandmother would receive the honor of the introduction. If you have trouble making the decision, ask yourself, “Which person do I wish to show the most respect?” As the Emily Post Institute states, “It all boils down to speaking to the person you wish to honor first.”


Second

Once you determine who is to be the most honored, you will then start by stating their name first. You then proceed by introducing the person of lower rank to the person of higher rank (or the person of honor).


Example: “Senator Jones, I would like to introduce to you, Mr. Smith.” You first state the name of the person you are honoring (or higher authority). In our example it is Senator Jones. You then introduce to Senator Jones the person of lower authority (Mr. Smith).


Third

In a purely social setting, your grandmother would be the person you want to show the most respect as opposed to your college roommate. It would look like this, “Grandmother, I would like to introduce to you my roommate, Suzy Martin.” You would then look at Suzy and say, “Suzy, I would like you to meet my grandmother, Mrs. Brown.” Do you see how this follows the same formula? You state the name of the person you are honoring first. In this case, it is your grandmother. You then introduce to your grandmother your college roommate.


Why are introductions made this way? In the old days of the aristocratic court, young women were presented (introduced) to the king when they became of age to marry. A young woman would be escorted into a large room where the king and queen were seated, and she would be formally presented (introduced) to the royal couple. It would sound like this, “King Henry, presenting Lady Elisabeth Walton.” The word “presenting” is the same as saying “introducing to you.” The lady was being presented (introduced) to the king. The king was not being presented to the lady; she was being introduced to the king. Therefore, the king’s name was stated first because he was the person of honor. The person of lesser authority was being introduced (presented) to the person of higher authority. Our modern introductions are still conducted in the same format.


Once people understand the formula of an introduction, the only time they tend to get confused is when the roles seem mixed up. In a social setting, females are given the higher honor of respect. You would always introduce a male to a female. “Debbie, I would like to introduce to you Edward McGee. Edward, this is my best friend, Debbie Wright.” What do you do in a social setting if the male is of higher authority? What if you are with a male U.S. Senator and need to oversee and introduction with a female? Does the same rule where females are given the higher honor of respect in social settings apply to this situation? When you are unsure, go back to my original question and ask yourself, “To whom do you want to show respect and deference?” In this scenario, I would place the senator in higher authority, even in a social setting. So, the introduction would sound like this, “Senator Jones, I would like to introduce to you my colleague, Suzy Martin. Suzy, I would like you to meet Senator Jones.”


Here is a trick question. How would you introduce a male U.S. senator and a male WWII vet? Again, ask yourself who you wish to show honor to. In my book, the vet wins this one. Therefore, I would say, “Mr. Erickson, I would like to introduce to you Senator Smith…” State the honored person’s name first, then introduce to the honored person, the other person.

Manners are a condition of the heart. How we act and treat others is a reflection of our character. When it comes to introductions, whether you remember the correct order or not, just do it. Showing kindness to two people is what will be remembered.


Together with you,

Lisa Lou

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