How to Introduce People

Introducing people is both an art and a means of ensuring good manners. A good introduction can get people off to a great conversational start and can help ease any discomfort or unease at meeting for the first time. When you introduce people, the most important, and trickiest, part can be to figure out who should be introduced to whom, based on rank and authority. Once you have that figured out, you can easily help two people get to know each other — and even to start a great conversation in the process. See Step 1 to learn how to introduce people today.介绍别人既是一门艺术,也是一种保证礼貌的手段。一个好的自我介绍可以让人们有一个很好的对话开始,可以帮助缓解第一次见面时的不适或不安。当你介绍别人时,最重要也是最棘手的部分可能是根据级别和权威来确定应该把谁介绍给谁。一旦你弄清楚了这一点,你就可以很容易地帮助两个人互相了解,甚至在这个过程中开始一段很棒的对话。参见步骤1学习今天如何介绍别人。

Things You Should Know

  • Say the name of the person being introduced to. This should be the person with the “higher rank” among the two people you’re introducing.
  • Present the other person to the person with the higher rank.
  • For example: “Dad, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Danny” or “Mr. CEO, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Employee.”

Part1  Introduction Basics

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    Find an opening. If you want to introduce people to each other, then it’s important to get the timing right. You don’t want to end up having blundered before the introductions have even begun by introducing the wrong people to each other or by interrupting a fantastic conversation just to get the details out of the way. Here’s what you need to know:

    • If you find yourself in conversation with two people who don’t know each other, try to introduce them as soon as possible. This can get a little tricky. Let’s say you’re with your college roommate, Amanda, when you run into your friend from high school, Jake, who launches into a story about a mutual friend. Poor Amanda will be standing there feeling awkward and bored while Jake rambles on. It’s important to find an opening so that you can include Amanda into the conversation.
    • You should avoid introducing someone to people who are in the middle of a serious conversation. Maybe you’re at a work event with a client, and you’ve been eager to introduce him to your boss. While this is an important introduction that should be made, you should avoid doing so if your boss seems to be entangled in a deep conversation with another person. You should wait for an opening, when your boss doesn’t seem extremely absorbed; making introductions at the wrong time can lead people to not hit it off as well as they could.
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    Figure out which person of the two has a higher rank or authority in a social setting. This is important to know because the person of lesser rank or authority should always be presented to the person of higher rank or authority. In general, in a social setting, gender is the “trump card” and determines the higher rank; women are always ranked over men, unless the man is significantly older than the woman. After that, age is the next determining factor; an older person ranks over a younger person, which can be a helpful distinction if both people are of the same gender. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Your 70-year-old mother-in-law is of greater seniority than your brand new boyfriend.
    • Great age takes precedence over most rank or authority, out of courtesy and respect. Your eighty-year-old male neighbor should be ranked higher than your fourteen-year-old niece (according to most people).
    • All other things being equal, the person you’ve known the longest should be named first: introduce your junior friend to your senior friend.
    • For social introductions, men are usually introduced to women, as a sign of respect. Gender is not a factor in business settings, where rank is more important.
    • Your relatives hold higher rank over your friends.
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    Figure out which person of the two has a higher rank or authority in a business setting. In a business setting, women still have a higher rank over men, and older people still have a higher rank over younger people, but position trumps both age and gender. This means that if a young male is of a higher position than a woman, that the woman should be presented to the man because the man will have the higher rank. Basically, when it comes to a business setting, “position” determines rank first, and after that comes gender, and then age. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Your boss will be of greater rank or authority than your colleague, partner, or best friend.
    • Your senior colleague takes precedence over your junior colleague.
    • Your customer or client should be introduced to your employees.
    • If you are introducing people of equal rank in the business world, then introduce the person you don’t know as well to the person you know better. You should say the name of the person you know better first.
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    Always state the name of the person with higher rank and present the person of lower rank to them. This can be a bit confusing, but it basically means that you should state the name of the person of higher rank, and then “present” the other person to them. This makes the person of higher rank stand out as the more important person in the situation. Here are some examples:

    • Introduce a friend or significant other to a relative. The relative has a higher rank: “Dad, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Danny.”
    • Introduce a lower-ranking business associate to a higher ranking one: “Mr. CEO, I’d like to introduce Mr. Underling.”
    • Introduce a client to a business associate: “Mr. Client, this is Mr. Money, my associate.”
    • Introduce a younger person to an older one: “Mr. Oldson, I’d like you to meet Sally Youngling.”
    • Introduce a man to a woman: “Mary, this is Jeff.”
    • In a business setting, let rank take precedence over gender. If Mr. Thomas is a higher-ranking male than Mrs. Davis, Mr. Thomas gets the higher authority because of his business position, even though Mrs. Davis is a woman:” Mr. Thomas, may I introduce Mrs. Davis.”
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    Provide background information to help the people start a conversation. You should do this only after you’ve introduced the people. If they have enough to talk about on their own, that’s fine, but if you’re trying to facilitate a business conversation or just helping people socialize at a party before moving along, then you can provide a connecting thread that can leave the people to talk on their own, or provide a bit more information about each person and lead them to make the connection. You can help connect the people by mentioning a common interest, a place they both know well, or even a person they both know. Here are some examples of ways to connect people:

    • “Elizabeth, have you met Fitzwilliam? I believe you both share a love of reading Jane Austen while walking on the moors.”
    • “Mom, this is my friend, Stacy. She teaches classes at your yoga studio.”
    • “Mr. Jones, this is Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith has been helping me on the Connor account. We never would have closed the account if it wasn’t for your help, Mr. Jones.”
    • “Mary, I’d love for you to meet Mark Charles, my neighbor. Mark is actually a published writer. Mary has just started taking creative writing classes.”
    • “Amy, have you met Rick? Rick actually works with Jeff, your roommate. Isn’t Jeff the greatest? I wish he could be here tonight…”

Part2  Etiquette

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    Make a formal introduction correctly. Most formal introductions will relate to the workplace, but they can also take place during formal social events, or if you’re with distinguished people. If you’re introducing people in a formal setting, then you should use the first and last names of the people, along with the phrases,”May I present”, “I’d like to introduce”, or “Have you met…” Some people think you should not use the word “introduce,” as it can cause confusion or come off as too direct, but it’s up to you to decide. Here’s what you should do:

    • Name the person of greater rank or authority first.
    • Use both first and last names, and include any title such as “Dr./Sir”. For example, “Dr. Jones, may I introduce Stephanie Smith. Dr. Jones is my art history professor. Stephanie is an art history major.”
    • Include relevant details as you introduce the two together, such as any established relationship you have with the person you’re introducing. For example, you might say: “Mr. Boss, may I present Mark Jones. Mr. Boss is my boss. Mark Jones is my associate.”
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    Make an informal introduction correctly. For a less formal occasion, such as your backyard barbecue, you can simply present both people to one another by name by saying something like, “Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet.” You can also connect the people more casually and say something like, “I’ve been dying for you to meet…”In an informal setting, you can worry less about how to phrase everything and more about getting people talking.

    • Using first names only is fine in informal situations.
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    Make a group introduction correctly. In this case, you will need to spend a little time introducing the newcomer to each individual of the group unless it’s a small, informal group where a general introduction would suffice and it’s neither time-consuming nor disruptive to name each member of the group while you have the group’s attention.

    • For more formal, larger groups, introduce the newcomer to the whole group first, then take the newcomer to each person and introduce by name: “Caroline, this is Fitzwilliam, my boss; Lydia, this is Fitzwilliam, my boss,” etc. Continue working your way around the group in this manner.
    • Though you may think it’s funny or just easier to say, “Mary, this is everybody. Everybody, this is Mary,” this doesn’t actually help get a conversation going. Besides, it’s rude to “everybody,” because it makes it seem like you don’t think it’s worth it for Mary to get to know each person. Of course, use your discretion: if you’re at a loud party and Mary just got there, it may be overwhelming to introduce her to twelve new faces immediately. Instead, ease Mary into the conversation and introduce her to a few people at a time.
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    Do not repeat names or reverse the introduction. In both formal and informal cases, you do not need to reverse the introductions. It’s obvious to both parties who is who. Repeating names or reversing the introduction can make things a bit tedious, and you’ll be making a social blunder.
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    Be delicate when you don’t know a person’s name. We’ve all been there. You try to introduce two people when you realize that you just completely forgot the name of the person standing in front of you. There are two approaches you can take:

    • Politely excuse yourself and say, “I’m so sorry, would you mind reminding me of your name?”
    • Try to be sneaky. Say, “Have the two of you met?” Then pause and wait for the people to introduce themselves. This isn’t a perfect maneuver, but it can help you in a pinch, especially if you’ve forgotten the name of a person you’ve met several times!
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    Use common sense when deciding what to call people. The general rule of thumb is that you should introduce people to each other by what you normally call them. For example, if you’re great friends with your former professor, Lucy Houston, you can just introduce her to your boyfriend as “Lucy,” if that’s what you always call each other. If you’re in a more formal situation and the person has not given you permission to call him or her by his or her first name, and you have always called the person by “Dr.” or “Mr.,” then you should keep doing that.

    • When in doubt, go with the more formal option. It’s better to have your boss say, “You can call me Bob instead of Mr.” instead of having your boss bristle when you call him “Bob” instead of “Mr.”

 

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