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By Cara Beth Lewis

You only get one shot at a great first impression. Remembering several key practices can fool-proof your self-introduction skills and help you to feel confident the next time you meet someone new. In this article of BladenOnline’s Etiquette Series, you will learn how to introduce yourself with consideration, respect, and honesty.

To read BladenOnline’s previous Etiquette Series articles, click the links below.

An important part of first impressions is the greeting. Whether you are meeting a new colleague or boss, your sister’s new boyfriend, or your new professor, the greeting that you offer may never be forgotten. It is important to remember that there is more to a greeting than just the words you say. Tone, body language, posture, and attitude are arguably even more significant, and potentially detrimental, to the interaction than just mere words.

In every interaction, whether it is a greeting, an introduction, or a casual conversation with a friend, it is important to be empathetic with words and actions. For more details on etiquette in social interactions, read more here.

In many areas of the world, including the United States, a handshake is an acceptable and respectful practice when meeting someone new or greeting someone. Smiling and making eye contact show that you care and are interested, while staring is often perceived as rude. A simple, “Hello! I’m pleased to meet you. My name is _____. What is your name?,” is a safe and friendly opening line.

Introductions do not always have to be serious and “cookie-cutter.” Learn to assess the situation, AKA “read the room,” to determine what is appropriate. Typically, you can assume that you should avoid personal questions, excessive touching, and any other practice that may make someone uncomfortable.

When you meet someone, remain genuine while letting your actions portray how you would like to be interpreted. Etiquette is based on three principles: consideration, respect, and honesty.

How can these principles (consideration, respect, and honesty)  be applied to proper introductions?

  • Consideration: Remember when I said, “read the room”? That is where consideration is applied to proper introductions. Pay attention to the mannerisms and words of the person you are meeting or speaking with, and base your actions accordingly.

  • Respect: Respect is simple – do not be rude. Avoid vulgar or inappropriate comments, even if you are “just joking.” Make eye contact, be kind, and avoid making the conversation all about yourself.

  • Honesty: Be yourself. While maintaining an appropriate level of respect and common courtesy, still remain true to who you are. Instead of creating a persona when meeting someone new, allow the best version of the real “you” shine through.

“A stunning first impression was not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it was an invitation to consider the matter.

-Lois McMaster Bujold