Some of you kids are not comfortable with introducing people to other people. For shy persons, this is a nerve wracking set up. You may freeze and forget someone’s name, or you may forget your own name or call them by your name. It’s fine. Essentially, it really is a situation where it is the thought that counts.
Personally, I have been introduced to one of our neighbors seven times. The second time was kind of funny, but by the fifth time, I found it breathtakingly hilarious. No one can seem to remember that I know who he is, except, of course me. If he remembers me, it’s impossible to tell. Any minute now, I will have made an impression as that idiot who snorts at the sound of his name.
So, what if you point at one of the people you are introducing, and suddenly you learn they are from a culture in which pointing is a deadly serious insult? Bummer. At least you learned something for next time, should you survive.
Are there exceptions to the usual need to introduce strangers? Do you have to introduce someone to the person who is giving them CPR? There are so many questions that just don’t matter.
I poured over and over an etiquette book as a pre-teen. In some part of my imagination, I was sincerely worried about accidentally ending up a debutante or another sort of person who had to know how to introduce a Duke to a Mother Superior. Spoiler: I have never had to do that. Yet.
Still, there are hierarchies, kids today call them Privlege Planks or something, I’m sure. Traditionally, it was very important to introduce your people in the order of their seniority or rank. It would be a notable faux pas to introduce a queen to your little sister by mentioning your little sister first, or introducing your boss to her boss out of order. It’s just upsetting if you let it upset you.
Nobody you know is likely to care very much about rank, but just in case you feel compelled to know, here’s the Emily Post version of introduction order:
- FIRST: Your grandparents, parents, or anyone older than you… THEN: Your contemporary (or younger)
- FIRST: Your friend… THEN: Another family member
- FIRST: An adult… THEN: A child
- FIRST: A woman… THEN: A man
- FIRST: Someone with a title: Senator, Mayor, Judge, Colonel, nobility, Bishop, Reverend, Professor, Doctor; anyone senior in rank to you (boss, CEO)…. THEN: Your contemporary (or younger)
- FIRST: Your guest of honor…. THEN: Others attending the event
- FIRST: A client… THEN: Anyone in your company, including your CEO
- FIRST: Your boss, or a higher-up… THEN: A person of lower rank in the company
If you really want to get elaborate, make some rules for introducing animals. Who should go first, the donkey or the dog? The elderly cat or the wayward possum? If it were up to me, I would go by brain size, so a dog would always go ahead of a chicken.
By extension you would always introduce the less drunk person to their more drunk counterpart. Make your own rules!
The whole point of introductions is to try. It lets people know that you a) notice them and b) think other people should notice them too.
By waving a hand at your new pal whose name has suddenly escaped you, and then waving another hand, or the same hand at another person nearby to say, “Here’s my pal, who may be your pal also,” you are doing your part to weave some pals together. That’s really all they need from you.
Have you ever stood by, awkwardly, as someone did not introduce you? It feels terrible. Their silence is like a back turned toward you, a statement that you do not matter. You may feel an urge to start sweeping up some crumbs or offering strangers crab balls. There’s a reason for these things; the introductions, I mean, the crab balls are self-explanatory.
No one wants to be treated like a sofa or a servant, not even actual servants.
If you aren’t sure if you’ve introduced your pal to your other pal, just do it again, even if we’re neighbors.
Feel free to add a question below in the comments!!