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Louise Elerding: How to make sure you have them at hello

You’ve got manners

Posted: November 25, 2010 10:12 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2010 4:30 a.m.

What would you call a smile, direct eye contact and a firm handshake? I call them the top scorers in making and receiving a memorable introduction.

Introductions leave lasting impressions and affect both parties.

If you are the initiator, your openness shows confidence. When you are a receptive receiver, it shows acceptance and consideration.

If you are ignored, you feel invisible and unimportant; when you are acknowledged, you feel valued.

Good introductions are always worth the effort. Here are some tips:

Ice breakers — Make your introductions enjoyable by adding a comment or two about the people who are meeting each other for the first time: ‘Joe, I’d like you to meet Brian — he’s just completed the Boston Marathon. I know you are both bike riders.”

This gives people the opportunity to begin a dialogue that has some connection between them. It’s the perfect ice breaker.

Another example: “ Sara, this is Beth. I noticed that you both have been active in animal rescue in your communities.”

Once a conversation has begun between these people, feel free to excuse yourself and move on.

Who’s on first? — One rule of thumb in social situations is to introduce women or the eldest in your group first and state his or her name: “Marjorie, I would like you to meet Edward.” “Mrs. Senior Citizen, I would like you to meet Amanda Young.”

The orders of rank — In business introductions, gender and age play no role; rank and authority are our guidelines. It will sound like this: “Mr./ Mrs. President, I would like to introduce Mr./ Ms. New Employee.”

The name of the most important person is mentioned first. A client is always the most important person in a company function, and their name comes first: “Ms. Valuable Client, I would like you to meet our CEO, Mr. Leader.”

Be sure that at every business function, someone has been appointed beforehand to be the host and make sure that everyone is being introduced, conversed with and attended to. This is one detail that will add much goodwill to any business relationship-building situation.

Memory mania — A common fear is that you’ll forget someone’s name, or all of a sudden you are facing the person who you need to introduce and your brain is on “off.”

Never be embarrassed to ask  because we’ve all been in this same situation. You can add a friendly comment, such as “I clearly remember the last time we met but I am having a quick brain lapse — please tell me your name again.”

Continue right on with the introduction and conversation. No need for any lengthy apology, just move through it. Try to repeat that name a time or two in this conversation.

People like hearing their name, and it will help you to stabilize it in your own mind.

In reverse, if you can see that someone has forgotten your name and could be stumbling a bit, jump right in with stating your name, adding a smile and a simple comment of conversation.

I am here! — It is always a good idea to be proactive with introducing yourself — from the time you enter a room through strolling the premises. As you walk through the door, be conscious of aiming your body for the center of the room, on not being hesitant and flanking the outer perimeters of the room.

Find your host or hostess or the chairman of a business event. Begin connecting with as many people as possible, making everyone feel welcome and greeted.

When you feel it is appropriate, add a tagline about yourself after your name. In a social situation, you can say “ Hello, my name is Daniel, and I am the nephew of Uncle Jack. We are in awe that he is 80 years old today.”

In business, add a title or clue such as “Good afternoon. I’m Janey Doe, VP of Human Resources for this company.”

Simple is sweet — Responding to introductions can be simple. Say something friendly or supportive, such as “ It is very nice to meet you. I enjoyed your presentation this morning.” If you don’t know much about the person, you can ask a question: “It’s a pleasure meeting you. Do you live in this neighborhood?”

Everyone up — It’s the best compliment to stand when being introduced to someone. This goes for all ages, genders and rank. If for some reason you are blocked in and cannot get up, try to lean forward and show some polite energy.

Four final tips — Since your best introductions and goodbyes will usually include the handshake, here some guidelines:
n Make good eye contact.
n Be firm but pain-free with your grip; shaking lasts about three seconds, with only two to three pumps at most.
n Hold drinks and articles with your left hand so you can be ready for those good connecting hand-shaking introductory moments.
n Then let the conversation and good times flow. You’ll be remembered.

Louise Elerding, is a manners, etiquette, and personal appearance coach, and the author of “You’ve Got Manners!”, an illustrated series of children’s books. For information on Table Manners classes held at the Salt Creek Grille in Valencia and to submit questions for this column, call (818) 259-3961, e-mail or visit


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