How to Make Polite Introductions

Introducing people to others

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Have you ever stressed out about making introductions or being introduced? Many people feel that way, so they avoid introductions to prevent the prospect of embarrassment.

Introducing Others

When you are with two or more people who don't know each other, the proper thing is to introduce them. You don't have to make an ordeal of it, but it's nice to have some basic guidelines to follow. After you practice this a few times, you'll grow more comfortable in real-life situations.

  • If you know the ages of the people, present the younger person to the older one: For example, if you are introducing your young friend to the older woman next door, you may say something like, "Mrs. Riley, I would like for you to meet my friend Louise." If you are unsure of their ages, or if they are about the same age, just say, "Joanna, this is Alexa from accounting. Alexa, Joanna and I have been working on a project together."
  • Speak clearly so people can understand you: Introductions should be easy to hear and understand so people can call each other by name later.
  • Offer additional information about the people: During the introduction, offer more than their name. You might share that you're related to one of the people or you have worked with someone. It helps others to have a point of reference so they know who they are meeting. It also gives them a topic to start a conversation.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for someone's name: There will be times when you don't know someone's name, but you need to introduce him to another person. Offer your name, ask for his name, and then quickly move on to the introduction. You can say something like, "I remember meeting you last year, but I can't recall your name. I'm Grace, and this is my sister Hazel." If the person has good manners, he will state his name at this time. If he doesn't, you can say, "I'm sorry, but I didn't catch your name."

Being Introduced

Similar rules apply when you are the one being introduced to someone you don't know. Here are some tips on what to say and do:

  • Stand and face the person: This puts you at eye level, makes it easier to shake hands, and encourages conversation. If someone is unable to stand, lean down to her level.
  • Offer a kind expression: Smile and make eye contact with the person you are meeting to show that you are a friendly person.
  • Shake the person's hand: Offer a firm but not crushing handshake. Don't hold on to the person's hand after the handshake.
  • Offer a pleasant greeting: Something simple to say in a formal setting is, "I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Blair."

First Impression

The old saying that "first impressions are the most important" is true. People will remember the first time they meet you long after the introduction, so make sure you are open, friendly, and pleasant.

Here are some additional tips on how to make a good first impression:

  • Maintain eye contact: Avoiding looking someone in the eyes makes you appear untrustworthy, weak, or lacking confidence.
  • Return the handshake: Not accepting someone's handshake is rude. If you are wearing gloves, and it's not too awkward to do so, remove the one on your right hand before shaking hands.
  • Say something pleasant: You may compliment the person, comment on the weather, or say something nice about the person making the introduction. Whatever you say doesn't have to be long, but it should be sincere.

Introductions in Casual Settings

If you are in a more casual setting, a formal introduction isn't necessary. However, you should still loosely follow the basic pattern of presenting the younger person to the older one. If you are at a ballgame, it might be impossible to shake hands or make casual conversation. Eye contact, a warm smile, and a friendly wave might be more appropriate and less awkward if there are a couple of people sitting in the bleachers between you.