Thursday, March 25, 2010

Etiquette (EP): Introductions

Trust me when I say that I hope this is as complicated as it is going to get.
Introductioons are a little tricky. There is moment in the movie Pygmalion (see review) where the professor drives his pupils to tears as he grilled her on what to call whom in an introduction or a conversation. This is kind of like that. All these rules, and at the end, you get the general idea, but the very specifics are mind boggling when hit with it all at once.
So, I think it wise to point out that I do not intend to reiterate everything from the book. If that is what you want, please go buy the book and you will have everything. I just intend to share some general information and commentary.

First off a couple simple rules:
* younger is introduced to older, less important is introduced to more important, but above all, a gentlemen is presented to a lady (unless in the case of royalty and the like)
* call people by title if possible. For royalty use Your Highness or Your Majesty. For religious affiliations, there are too many to name, but include "Your Emmence" "Your Holiness" and the like. Also tough in religious circles is how treat the various individuals, but mostly it just seems complicated for Catholics and royalty.
* inflection is key - remember it is not always what you say, but the manner in which you say it.
* Do not say: "shake hands with" or "I want to make you aquainted with"
* if you don't know the person's name, it is best not to ask right away, but rather find a third person and ask them later. As this is not always avoidable, when in doubt be polite as you say it.
*on shaking hands: gentlemen always; women choose to extend hand or not, but if a hand is offered, one must shake it.
* on introducing oneself: this is not done unless there is a reason. Like "don't you know mutual aquaintance?" or in general, asking them if they know you or remember you, while giving them your name. The point is to always have a reference for a reason they should know you, otherwise it is presumptuious.
* Important: never ask "you don't remember me, do you?" It is rude to try and put a person in an awkward position.

Introductions certainly seem to have lost their touch these days - but the more that I think about it, I can not remember the last time I was introduced to somebody. For instance, a woman would never consider introducing herself to an unknown man (at least not without bringing a common friend or a link between the two of them) - that would be presumptuous. Also asking people if they know the other person is okay, except that you should never ask a woman if she knows or has met a man. I know this comes from suggestion of scandal to an interest to protect the woman's name, but I guess in this day and age it does seem a little unnecessary.

There is also a little tirad about introducing people by first name only - except for the young to each other. This is a point with which I kind of agree with. I hate wearing a nametag with my first name on it. I'll admit that I am a little old-fashioned about this, but I would rather have the right to decide if someone knows me by my first name of not. I was one of the kids who loved it when I was called Miss Rankin by my teachers. That comes with a certain amount of respect, I felt, and to this day I kind of get a thrill when I hear myself being called "Miss" and not just "Teresa" by strangers. Besides, if I want people to be casual with me, I will tell them what they may call me.

The all important section for me was When to Rise, as this has always been a question of mine. Although, in this section, I will only get part of an answer. I am sure there will be more of these as we go along, but as far as introduction rising goes, this is it: The host family of a party rises on all occassions (unless old) and stay standing until the person is seated. But here is the overall rule: a gentlemen stands as long as the hostess, or any other lady does.

The part that I disagree with most in this section is the Halfway Introduction of a Domestic Employee. Basically it says that you do not introduce them - and if you have to, by first name only, unless the employee has long been in family employ and/or is held with "affectionate esteem" Okay, so I sort of agree with that, but then again, I can't imagine being okay with calling them by their first names towards a stranger. It would just seem too informal and carries a lack of respect. This is kind of in corelation with my thing about nametags.

So, what comes after Introductions? Generally, you want to say "How do you do?" and most will respond with the same phrase, although it is perfectly alright to answer the question before asking it in return. I personally hate it when people ask how you are and then immediately move on before letting a person answer. For some reason, according to Post, one should not answer "Pleased to meet you" or "Charmed" or "Glad to make your acquaintance" Although it does not say for sure why, only that it has gone out of style. After that initial bit of introductions, the rest is up to the art of conversation, which I am sure will be explored later.

Considering how much I left out, this is not bad, but I will leave you with a couple of helpful introduction phrases to try and use other than "this is":
"... may I present ..."
"... I have the honor to present..."
"... I should like to introduce you to ..."
"... I would like you to meet..."

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