It’s (mostly) a pleasure to meet you: Introductions
Posted on September 29, 2012
I recently resigned from a company that I had been a part of for 15 years. I was offered a position with another company that was just too good to pass up. Being the new kid on the block comes with its perks and disadvantages. The perks feel like Christmas morning and I’m the bright, shiny new present under the tree. Everyone is welcoming and helpful as I navigate my way through the new organization. The disadvantages come with the fact that I’m navigating my way through the organization and have not yet successfully memorized the organizational chart (aka: I don’t know anyone).
As luck would have it, my new department scheduled a social 1 1/2 weeks after my first day. A nice little break from the stress filled workday was my opportunity to meet and greet my fellow colleagues. As I bravely entered the social venue alone, I was surrounded by 75 people I did not know. Naturally, my gregarious self began shaking hands and introducing myself. These introduction were generally met with enthusiastic counter introductions and smiles. I began to feel validated and part of the team. I then noticed a gentleman off to the side and away from the center of the fray. “Poor guy, he must be shy and uncomfortable with social interactions” I thought to myself. I warmly approached him, stuck out my hand and introduced myself. I was greeted with a reluctant handshake and nothing else. I said “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.” He said “Richard” with an air of sophistication and a hint of offense. Not easily dismissed I smiled and said “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Richard. What area of the department do you work in?” He said “My last name is Assholee“. I was left standing there red-faced and tongue-tied with embarrassment. Not because I’d committed a faux pas but because this guy’s response was rude and I was left uncomfortably wondering what my next move should be. Of course the names have been changed to protect the innocent – ME. I’d like to keep this job for at least another few years. What I got from him was a plate full of arrogance and shock that I did not immediately recognize that he was the CEO. Apparently, it should be obvious that anyone who introduces himself simply as “Richard” should be assumed to be the CEO demi-god, Dick. Understand, that this guy was a middle-aged white guy with a gut and a wrinkled shirt. If he had been tall, African-American with the first name Barack, I’d have connected the dots appropriately. The org chart does not include pictures. Something for the corporate suggestion box.
Manners and general good form are not exclusive only to the lower and middle tier folks of society. They apply to all stations in life. Frankly, the self-proclaimed demi-gods of the world should be held to a higher level of courtesy expectation as their positions typically come with the added responsibility of leadership. As leaders, they are expected to set an example for the rest of us therefore, they are not excluded from the club of etiquette.
Appropriate introductions are easy to employ. As long as you are not a diplomat or work in the wonderful world of politics, the following guidelines will do for you:
Men are introduced to woman. Example: “Dick, please meet Jane”.
Age and rank supersede. Those who are older and/or of higher rank are to be named first in all situations.
- Interrupting a conversation – wait for a more appropriate time for the introduction.
- Making personal comments aka: inquiring about their illness, pending divorce, deaths, their ugly dress, etc.
- Addressing only one person in a group. Include all parties in the conversation. This is easily accomplished by making brief eye contact with each person as you re-tell your tale.
- Don’t overtly look around for an escape or something more exciting to happen. Stay engaged until you have a polite route of escape.
- No drama. Ever. Even if you are being introduced to Ryan Gosling. If you gush, we all will be embarrassed for you and Ryan will roll his eyes once he escapes to his Maserati.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine and you don’t know a soul, be brave and warmly introduce yourself to the available folk in the room. You will appear confident and self-assured; both attractive qualities. Can it be uncomfortable? Yes, but it beats idly standing on the sidelines feeling like the girl not chosen for kickball.
You would think my real life example was an isolated incident. It wasn’t. It happened while I was employed with the company I just left. Similar circumstances, similar title, different gender, same name. Dick.
Take the time to remove your halo, muster up some humility and don a smile of greeting. We are all peeps trying to get along in life the best we can. Your greeting has an impact. Make it a good one.