People often worry about the forms of introductions, but the only true unforgivable breach of etiquette is the failure to attempt an introduction when people who don’t know each other are in your presence. –Emily Post’s Etiquette
Have you ever been in a social situation where you felt awkward because you were not introduced to someone, or people, you didn’t know?
What is the purpose of introductions?
In my research I found three answers to this question:
1- To convey names
2- To promote a sense of comfort and ease among strangers
3 – The goal for making introductions is to provide information about each other in order to give you a common ground to carry on a conversation.
The following are some guidelines for making social introductions:
1 – The secret to knowing the order of social introductions is to remember the rule “Identify the king (or ruler) of the situation.”
2 – The most important person (ruler) is the eldest woman in the group. When introducing her you say her full name first.
3 – If no women are in the group, the first name spoken is that of the eldest man or most distinguished man. If you aren’t sure of their ages, or if their ages are the same, introduce the man you don’t know as well to the one you know better. Say the name of the person you know better first.
4 – Formal and informal social introductions are done by gender. Traditionally in social situations, men are introduced to women (“Mrs. Rich, I’d like to introduce Mr. Jones.”). Today it can be done either way.
5 – By tradition and out of respect, the younger or less important person is introduced to the older and more important one, regardless of sex. The younger person’s name is stated second. For example: “Aunt Ruth, I want you to meet my roommate, Mimi Carey. Mimi, this is my aunt Mrs. Rich.”
6 – If you’re in a business situation, gender doesn’t matter; determine who to introduce based on pecking order — the ruler is the highest-ranking person in the group. For example, when introducing your father to your college professor, the professor is the ruler, and you say his name first.
7 – Always give a last name when introducing people to each other.
8 – Try to introduce people by the names and titles they prefer. In the case of a doctor or someone in the clergy or military, it’s usual to include a title in the introduction. Including the title will let people know the proper way to address the person.
9 – Introduce family members by their full names unless they request otherwise. The relationship between the introducer and the family member is often mentioned. When introducing others to family members, the other person’s name is generally said first (“Carlos, I’d like you to meet my brother, Edward Prince”) if the people being introduced are of roughly the same age and rank. But as a sign of respect, an older family member is named first (“Granny, I’d like to introduce Mr. John Silver. John, this is my grandmother, Mrs. Mack”).
10 – When introducing your college friends to your parents, you would use your friend’s full names, but you probably wouldn’t introduce your parents by theirs. You can simply say, “These are my parents.” Or if they have a last name that differs from yours, you can say, “These are my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Doe.”
11 – When you share last names, introduce your spouse and offspring to adults by first names only. When introducing your husband to a friend, what you say is, “I’d like you to meet my husband Joe (or Joe Doe).” Never refer to him as “Mr. Doe” or “Dr. Doe.” The same formula applies when your husband introduces you.
12 – When introducing yourself to others, always give your full name and tell them something (but not too much) about yourself. Be sure to ask them questions too.
13 – Extend your hand for a handshake when introducing yourself or being introduced. Squeeze the other person’s hand firmly, yet gently, and grasp the entire hand.
14 – In social situations, the host(s) should try to jump-start the conversation between the people they’ve just introduced. This can be done by trying to find some topic the people they’ve just introduced have in common.
Emily Post’s Etiquette, by Peggy Post, 17th edition
Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Nancy Tuckerman, Nancy Dunnan, and Amy Vanderbilt
Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated, by Judith Martin
Etiquette for Dummies, by Sue Fox