Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Impressions

If you only get one chance to make a first impression, what do you to to recover when the first encounter is impressionable for all the wrong reasons?

I was reminded this past week, as we've met and been introduced to countless people, that the art of making a proper introduction is a dying one. For the record our host and hostess, for the 4th of July, were fantastic and played their roles spectacularly.

I know that I live in a fairy land, where people all follow the rules for making and giving introductions circa 1900. But I have been involved in too many poor introductions to not say anything on the matter. And as this is a time when many people are moving and meeting new people it seems only appropriate.

For all things pertaining to etiquette and social decorum, I defer to Emily Post.

I downloaded her free ibook Etiquette for some light reading and have enjoyed many of her topics. One of which is a section on teaching children proper table manners. They don't eat with other people until they can master eating with a utensil. I like that.

Back to introductions. The following is taken from her chapter on correct introductions:

"The younger person is always presented to the older or more distinguished, but a gentleman is always presented to a lady, even though he is an old gentleman of great distinction and the lady a mere slip of a girl."

"The more important name is said with a slightly rising inflection, the secondary as a mere statement of fact. For instance, suppose you say, "Are you there?" and then "It is raining!" Use the same inflection exactly and say, "Mrs. Wordly?" - "Mrs. Younger!"

Are you there? - It is raining!
Mrs. Worldly? - Mrs. Younger!

It is a rather lengthy chapter, and nobody makes introductions like this anymore. What are we left to do?

I have (in the past, of course) been involved in some very bad introductions. They were bad because they weren't made, I didn't go out of my way to initiate them, and then in subsequent run-ins with the person they were just awkward. It is difficult to know what the core reason was, but it always felt odd.

So here is my advice on making your best first impression and introduction. Wear something comfortable, that you know you look great in. This probably isn't the time to wear something brand new that you haven't "tested" the waters in. Wear something you know works and that makes you look and feel fantastic. (Note: just make sure it is occasion appropriate. Use common sense.)

Same thing goes for hair and make-up. Now isn't the time to try something that is a radical departure from your current routine. Unless your current routine involves showering every third day, wearing pajamas at 3:00 pm, and natural (i.e. no) make-up. Then depart quickly.

Assume that everyone is new, and you will be right some of the time. When you are the new girl in town, church, or school you may assume that everyone already knows each other and they have been here forever. I am finding, more often than not, there are new people everywhere. We all move around! Better to risk thinking someone is new and introducing yourself and be wrong, then begrudging the world for not noticing you are new, when everyone around you is equally as new to the scene.

I will admit I am not perfect at making introductions. Some go more smoother than others, but I keep trying. I pay attention to the things I like. I make sincere compliments (especially to those with great shoes), notice people with children about the same ages as mine, and always make an effort to sit down next to someone. 

The sitting thing is hard for me, because I generally like to be seated first and have people sit next to me, not the other way around. But, you do what you have to do.

And don't forget to Smile:-) Who wants to meet a Mrs. Crabby Apple?

It is OK to introduce yourself to a perfect stranger. Not everyone has to be your friend, but you should at least be friendly.

This may have been the best little pep talk I've given myself.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Apparently, my grammar sucks, and I forget to use the correct pronouns. So let me repost my comment :)

    I was just curious as to whether or not your husband does a good job introducing you to people, like his coworkers, their wives, and the professors? When I started dating my husband he would be very lackadaisical when it came to introductions. After we got married, things got better, but sometimes he does slip up and forget to introduce me to someone relevant/important and things can get awkward.

    1. Yes! He does a pretty good job for the most part and when he forgets it is usually when he is just meeting them or has only meet them once before. I think the nerves throw him off. It is awkward. I think we need more practice going out in public:-)


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