One important lesson I learned from my grandmother is to be inclusive of others. Over the years, I've noticed an opportunity for us to be more inclusive of other people. How? By introducing them to each other.
Picture this: you go to a party with a friend that runs into someone they know and starts shooting the breeze while you stand there awkwardly, sipping your drink. You might be thinking, "will they introduce me soon...or at all?", or you might think "does this new person even know we're friends?".
You look around the room, biding time. You wait for eye contact from someone, but it doesn't come. Do you risk interrupting to introduce yourself, or keep waiting? And waiting, and waiting...
Yeah. I hate when that happens.
Is the social introduction fading out?
Introducing people to each other is a lost art, but it doesn't have to be.
I can think of gatherings I've been to (smaller barbecues, birthdays, etc) where a new person is invited but doesn't get introduced. For the entire party they are stragglers, standing alone and looking unsure.
Now, that's just a shame. Someone is dropping the ball. Don't let it be you.
Be a connector!
Why we don't introduce
There are a few reasons I think you may see fewer introductions in social settings these days.
Why? There is a certain level of pressure on the mutual friend to get it right, remember everyone's name in the moment, decide whom to introduce to whom, trust that everyone will get along, etc. It can also be awkward to introduce people to each other that you don't know well. Considering all that, I think some decide that it's just more trouble than it's worth.
It takes practice.
There is an etiquette to introducing people. Although the rules are simple, it still takes practice.
It requires selflessness.
Introducing other people puts the focus on the them, not you. You must show deference and respect and may get no immediate benefit from it.
Benefits of connecting people
In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell points out that "connectors" play a significant role in our lives by expanding and strengthening social networks which can lead to the spread of ideas. Nice!
Here are five more key reasons to connect people:
You're showing immense respect by going out of your way to ensure people feel comfortable and at ease
Instead of isolating others, you're demonstrating leadership and projecting confidence by bringing people together
It lengthens your life and theirs
Studies show social connection leads to a stronger immune system and a longer life
It adds value
If you've ever heard the phrase "it's who you know", then you know how powerful a single introduction can be
You avoid regret
In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware lists one of the regrets to be "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends". How can you stay in touch with your friends if you've never met them? Do you're new friends a solid and introduce them to your other friends. They'll thank you for it later.
And if that's not enough, look at Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. A sense of connection comes only after breathing and health!
How do you do it?
Thankfully, you don't have to be a prime time talk show host to make an effective introduction. All you really need is practice and the courage to overcome a little social awkwardness.
Clinical psychology expert Arlin Cuncic wrote an article for Verywell breaking it down into four easy steps. Here is an excerpt from her article:
1. First, determine who should be introduced to whom. The name of the older or higher ranking person should be said first.
When all other things are equal, the name of the person that you know better should be said first. In a business situation, the client is always considered higher ranking.
2. Unless you are in an informal setting, use first and last names, as well as titles such as "Dr." when appropriate. If the person that you are introducing has a relationship to you, share this with others.
"Edith Smith, I'd like you to meet Natalie Jones" (Edith is older than Natalie)
"Mr. President, I'd like to introduce my husband Paul Brown"
In casual settings or if you don't know their last name, just use their first.
3. In a group setting such as a party, introduce a person to the group first. For example, "David, these are my friends Steve, John, Elizabeth and Natasha. Everyone, this is David."
Introductions like this should be made for a group of up to six people. If there are more than six people present, only make introductions to those that are nearby or those that the person will be sitting with. You should never lead someone around a room making introductions.
4. In general, when you are introduced to someone it is polite to say "How are you?". If it is someone that you have been told about, you might make a comment along the lines of "So-and-so has told me so much about you".
- If you have forgotten someone's name, it is more polite and less awkward to acknowledge the fact than to avoid an introduction
- If someone has forgotten to introduce you, introduce yourself and explain how you know the host if you are at a party
- To knock it out of the park, Brett and Kate McKay encourage us in their article How to Make Introductions Like a Gentleman to "say something interesting about the person you’re introducing so that the person he or she is being introduced to will have an easier time remembering their name and transitioning into conversation". Like so:
YOU: “Miles, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Bill Murray. Bill auditioned for a play last week.
Miles: Wow! How long have you been acting, Bill?
Boom, you just made a successful introduction!
Now that you know why we should connect people and how to do it, try introducing someone at your next social function. You never know how your effort will benefit everyone involved.
Thanks for reading! What are your tips for introducing people? Please leave a note below or at my website www.milesshattuck.com.