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Etiquette: Protocol of Introducing People
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    Categories: Managing PeopleSharpening Your Skills

Etiquette: Protocol of Introducing People

The purpose of introducing people is to give them an opportunity to know each other. Beyond just stating names of the two parties, the person making the introduction is often obligated to establish an acquaintance and help the two parties initiate a conversation.

The Art of Making Introductions: Four Steps

The basic protocol of introductions calls for introducing the ‘lesser-ranking’ (socially, professionally, by age or seniority) to the ‘higher-ranking’ person. Here are four steps:

  1. First, state the name of the person being introduced to. This is the ‘higher-ranking’ person.
  2. Second, say “I would like to introduce” or, “please meet” or, “this is,” etc.
  3. Third, state the name of the person being introduced. This is the ‘lower-ranking’ person.
  4. Finally, offer some details about each, as appropriate. As I wrote in a previous article, add a snippet of information about a topic of common interest between the two parties. Do not elaborate. This will help them connect and pursue a conversation.

The foremost principle of etiquette for making introductions lies in understanding reverence and respect. Here are some guidelines.

Higher Ranking Person Lower Ranking Person Example: Introduce lower-ranking person to higher-ranking person
An older person A younger person “Grandma, this is my neighbour, John”
A senior professional A junior professional “Mrs. President, this is Mr. Analyst”
A customer A team of employees “Mr. Customer, this is my sales team”
A guest A host “Ms. New Yorker, this is my daughter, Sarah”
A guest from out-of-town A local guest “Mr. Australian, this is my neighbour Janet”
Peer from another company Peer from your company “Mr. IBMer, this is Ms. Edwards”

When introducing people of equal seniority or status, you may introduce either person to the other.

Making Introductions: A Few Examples

  • Introduce a younger person to an older person. “Grandma, please meet Alicia and Carlos, my neighbors.”
  • Introduce a relatively junior professional to a senior professional. “Ms. Director, I would like to introduce Mr. Nakamura, the Chief Product Architect for our software division.”
  • Introduce an employee to a customer. “Mr. Sung, I would like to introduce our plastics engineering team. This is Mark Smith, Jessica Ramos and Liang Zhu. All three participated in last week’s teleconference regarding product definition.”
  • Introduce a host to a guest. “Elaine, I don’t think you have met my daughter, Anna. Anna arranged for all the food at this festival party. Anna, Elaine is my Project Manager.”
  • Introduce a local guest to a guest from out-of-town. “Charlie, this is Debbie. Debbie is my colleague from work. Debbie, Charlie is visiting me from New York. We shared an apartment when we were at Columbia together.”
  • Introduce a peer from your company to a peer from another organization. “Melissa, I would like you to meet Steve, our Systems Engineer. Steve, Melissa Hoffmann is from Marketing. She is our Account Manager for Wal-Mart.”

Gender Distinction

Customarily, a number of people introduce a man to a woman out of respect, regardless of the guidelines presented above.

When introducing a man and a woman at work, consider their positions and seniorities alone. Outside of work, it may be more appropriate to introduce a man to a woman, in contradiction to the above guidelines. Be judicious and sensitive.

Concluding Thoughts

Many people have difficulty introducing people to one another and helping initiate a conversation. With some practice and a sense of social and/or professional ranking, you too can master the art of introduction.

Nagesh Belludi:

View Comments

  • How do you introduce two friends who both like the same thing to each other without giving the false and utterly incorrect impression that I'm trying to hook them up?

  • This site helps the persons like me very much.add more situation-based introducing people.Thanks a lot for providing such conveniences

  • Can a guest be introduced over the pa system with out the one that's introducing them be seen. And the person that's being introduced is not coming up to speak

  • I will be introducing my company's Sr. VP & COO to several guest from our company's financial institution's including their VP, Loan Accounting & three other lessor positions. How should I introduce these individuals to each other?

  • First of all let me appreciate the great thing you are doing.
    Actually it is very useful for us to learn the etiquette of introducing people.
    I would like to know the normal procedure when I am introducing one of my family members to more than one of my superiors at work. Your early response would be highly appreciated.
    Thank you.

  • First I would like to appreciate the good work done here. Since I got this information I started gaining some skills on how to introduce people to each other, but still than I would like you to add more different strategies on how to do a professional introduction.
    thank You

  • At my son's wedding, I introduced, "Linda, the bride's mother", to "my brother, Gerald and Debbie", followed by, "Charles, the bride's father." I felt like this was a courteous introduction of people who had not met. My brother later corrected me, by saying that I should introduce Debbie as "his wife." Was this a serious faux pas?

  • Regarding western European culture.
    At the workplace political correctness is the rule.

    In a social situation, significant seniority overrides everything:
    - social status rules (superior seniority) introduce everybody to him/her
    - a few years older man (and equal social status) is introduced to a woman
    - many years senior man (and equal/comparable social status) woman introduced to him

    Guest and Host:
    Generally, the host would know all invited. In case you are allowed to bring someone along:
    Significant seniority rules :)
    If the invited guest is significantly senior to the host:
    - You may want to SEND SOMEONE FORWARD TO THE HOST to tell, he will be introduced to this illustrious guest of honour! The host will be 'just' right there to great when you and your guest arrive.
    - Introduce the host to the guest (because the host is honoured by the presence of the guest; this is what the host will say: "I am honoured by your visit/presence/ meeting you personally etc. To which the guest says: "The pleasure is mine / I'm glad to meet you for i know about your achievements etc ... etc)
    Otherwise the guest is introduced to the host.

    Handshake is a major part of the introduction:
    Unless you were educated as an aristocrat, probably wouldn't know how to do it.
    Who extends the hand first? Seniority rules.

    A lady offers her hand first to a man.
    If she does not, you keep your hands next to your dirty pants and bow accepting that you have been rejected by her. (The type - head only or from the waist - and the depth of the bow is dependent on the social status between she and you)

    If she does, still bow when accepting her hand: do not shake like your do your mantag, do not squeeze and do not lift her hand higher than it was extended. The height is her message of your acceptance: higher she holds, more she likes you.
    She will offer her hand PALM DOWN if she wants you to know, who rules or 'vertical palm' if you are accepted. She'll never offer a palm-up hand.

    If a man offers his hand PALM DOW means: he rules, he is arrogant and wants you to know that. You can just go with it accepting the defeat or grab that hand, squeeze it with power and turn it either to vertical or until your hand is on the top. Delivers the message on any way. (I do that with arrogant women too ... for there are no ladies around here for continents distance...)
    You also can refuse to accept it ... which is just as insulting -if not more- as extending a palm-down hand. Get ready for being slammed by a glove you'll pick up and the following duel. Well, not lately. But it won't go down well as one would expect it.

    If a man offers a hand first, and accepts the other party as equal, offers a vertical-palm. (Typical business handshake you see)
    If a man offers a hand first with the PALM UP, this means an open friendship-acceptance of the other man.

    Kissing a lady's hand:
    Very rare for it is very difficult to find a LADY nowadays ... since the Beatles were knighted ... material/financial wealth has never been a sign of a Gentleman or a Lady.

    To be born as a male or female: is a chance.
    To become a Man or a Woman: is hard work on yourself often takes a lifetime.
    To become a Gentleman or a Lady ... kita dim anta ... never mind.

    If you ever get into a circle where it is still used.
    It is unmistakable if the lady holds her hand to be kissed as against a handshake. If this happens to you, put your left hand index-finger-up under her hand to support it and you MUST bow to the height of her hand when touching it with your lips. Lifting her hand to your lips is an inexcusable insult. The height is obviously the level of her acceptance for the depth of bow can be significantly humiliating. Everybody will talk about it ... "Have you seen THAT bow?! Almost had to lay on his stomach!" "Couldn't be that low! He does have a stomach to keep his face off the ground!" Laughter follows ...

    Good luck to all!