The crucial introductions etiquette rules. The appropriate ways to introduce yourself in person and make introductions on a social occasion.
What introductions etiquette is
Introductions etiquette is the set of rules to properly perform introductions and introduce yourself in person. Such rules include:
- The appropriate hierarchy and procedure for introductions.
- How to introduce yourself.
- The mistakes to avoid in introductions.
Everyone should learn introductions etiquette to properly introduce themselves in person.
If you are hosting an event, you must master introductions etiquette to introduce your guests to each other and host a successful event.
General introductions etiquette principles
Introductions etiquette is based on two main principles:
- Foster social connections.
- Avoid embarrassing or boring others.
Introductions etiquette rules
1) When to make introductions
Introducing someone that you know is always appropriate. Unless you are completely sure that the two persons already know each other, you should make the introduction. On the contrary, not performing an introduction between two persons is an etiquette breach.
If you are hosting an event, making introductions is one of your major duties. Whenever there are new arrivals, after welcoming them you should introduce them to a few other guests or to a small group.
2) Hierarchy of introductions
When introducing two or more persons, you should follow a hierarchy. Saying a name before others signals respect for the person. Courtesy suggests giving precedence to females, seniors, and distinguished individuals.
It is most appropriate to introduce men to women. However, you should say the name of the woman first. “Jane, may I introduce John Smith? John, this is Jane Doe”.
Apply the same rule to age. It is most appropriate to introduce younger people to their elders. However, you should say the name of the elder person first.
Introduce couples separately. Instead of saying “these are the Smiths”, say “John and Jane Smith”.
3) How to make an appropriate introduction
Make the introduction look as natural as possible. Do not drag or force someone to an introduction. Instead, try to ease people into the right setting for an introduction by making small talk.
To make an introduction, first, address the most senior person by name. Ask for permission to make the introduction. Then, without waiting for the answer, complete the introduction. “John, may I introduce you to Robert Doe? Robert, this is John Smith”.
It is appropriate to use the full names in introductions. This way, you let people decide whether they address each other by last name or first name. Never introduce someone by their nickname or first name alone.
When you perform an introduction, it is perfect etiquette to add an ice-breaker. Such as a common interest, or something about each person. “John is a cricket fan” or “Robert is very knowledgeable about opera”.
4) When you should use titles in introductions
On formal occasions, it is best to always include the titles in an introduction. Such as Professor, Doctor, Mr. Miss, or Mrs. If you use Mr., Miss, or Mrs. for one person, you should use it for the other person too. Otherwise, you are implying that one person is more important than the other.
On informal occasions, you may include or skip the titles. However, if you skip the titles, it is best to mention them in the ice-breaker. “Robert, this is John Smith. John is a Doctor at St. Paul Hospital”.
5) How to properly introduce yourself in person
If someone introduces you, you should say “how do you do?” or “nice to meet you”. If the person you are introduced to says “how do you do?”, you should respond by saying the same “how do you do?”. Then, it is proper etiquette to make small talk.
When you are in a social setting but there is no one that can introduce you, it is perfectly appropriate to introduce yourself. Approach the person and say “May I introduce myself? I am John Smith”. The other person should respond with their full name, “Jane Doe”.
It is not most appropriate to share your social or business card when you introduce yourself. Instead, you should wait until you build rapport first, then share the card.
6) How to respond to an introduction
The most common response to an introduction is “how do you do?”. “Nice to meet you” or a greeting such as “hello” work too. If someone introduced you, you do not need to repeat your name. If no one is making the introduction, then you should state your full name in a clear and understandable way.
Introductions etiquette on specific occasions
What if someone does not introduce you
Sometimes you may find yourself with someone you know and someone else you have not met yet. The person that you already know should introduce you to the other person. If they do not make the introduction, it is polite to introduce yourself. However, if the other person signals contempt, such as avoiding eye contact, you may decide not to introduce yourself.
What if you are introduced to someone you already met
If you are introduced to someone you already met, you can say something like “We already met. How do you do?”.
What if someone gets your name wrong
If someone introduces you but says your name wrong, it is polite to repeat your full name. “John Smith. How do you do?”. Say it graciously, to avoid embarrassing the person who made the introduction.
Introductions etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst introductions etiquette mistakes.
- 7/10. Not introducing someone.
- 6/10. Making an introduction before asking for permission first.
- 4/10. Getting the introduction hierarchy wrong.
- Mastering the Self-Introduction: cmu.edu